Elle’s Mushroom Bourguignon with Venison for #ElleAPalooza

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Elle loved winter (almost!) as much as I do! She was a New Englander through and through and we had a shared love for snow and cold days where you need a bowl of something hot and steamy to warm yourself up. Since we are in the middle of winter, I wanted to make one of her warming stews for #EllaPalooza and quickly decided on her Mushroom Bourguignon recipe.

I looove mushrooms and so I have been wanting to make this recipe for a long time. Too bad I waited until now, when she is no longer here to tell her how much I loved it and what a creative genius cook she was one last time.

I added some venison steak strips to the dish to stretch it because I wanted to enjoy this soup over and over again. I don’t think the stew needs it at all, the mushrooms hold their own in this dish, but if you feel like being indulgent, add some, it is quite delicious that way.

Your whole house smells good as you are cooking this dish up and you can cook it like Julia Child – one glass of wine for the pot and one for the cook! Elle suggests serving this over egg noodles, but we served ours over mashed potatoes (for Roberto) and mashed rutabaga (for myself). We toasted to Elle and thanked her for being a part of our lives and ate this delicious warming stew in her memory. It made the Elle-shaped hole in my heart warm for a few minutes. I miss you Elle!

If you would like to join the food blogging community in supporting Elle’s family, please join Friends of Elle on facebook to learn more about the auction be held to benefit her family. It is also a place where you can share your thoughts about Elle and gather with friends old and new who all loved this beautiful woman.

INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs Crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 Portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed, cut into chunks
1/3 pound of venison leg steaks cut into strips
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 TBS tapioca flour
1cup dry red wine
2 cups broth of your choice-vegetable, chicken, beef
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dry thyme
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
2 bay leaves

METHOD: In a large pot, heat about 2-3 tbsp of olive oil. Add all of the mushrooms, the venison strips, about 1 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper, and sauté for about 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms, venison and accumulated juices to a bowl and set aside.

Add a couple more tbsp of olive oil, and sauté the onions and carrots for about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.

Sprinkle the onions, carrots and garlic with the tapioca flour, stir for about 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and accumulated juices back to the pot, then add the wine, broth, tomato paste, thyme, Herbes de Provence and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Hunter’s Chicken and Clapshot

Once you become a farmer (and a hunter) certain things you never would have thought of before become hysterical. Like the idea of “Chicken Cacciatore” or Hunter’s Chicken. When chickens become part of your life, you start to imagine how a dish like this ever came to be, as “hunting” for chickens really makes no sense – there are very few wild chickens in the world, and raising animals for meat hardly equates to being a hunter. Historically, the dish seems to have been made with rabbit, which definitely makes more sense but it seems that even in Italy, where the dish originated, chicken is often used. For me it is just another reminder of how detached we are as a society from where our food actually comes from.

Semantics and doom aside, this dish is a definite favorite all over the world. In fact, the recipe I used to make this version of Hunter’s Chicken, is from one of my favorite cookbooks – Scottish Traditional Recipes: A Celebration of the Food and Cooking of Scotland.

A picture of the recipe even graces the front cover of the cookbook! However, this recipe seems to me to be a bit of a cross between the Italian Pollo alla Cacciatora and the French Coq au Vin. Perhaps because the Scottish and French had a very famous historical alliance, it is likely the Scots also learned about the cuisine and culture of the French. Since I was using a Scottish recipe for this dish, I decided to pair it with Clapshot – a mixture of mashed potatoes and golden turnips (or in this case a rutabaga), a classic Scottish side dish. I also used the Italian classic, Chianti wine to prepare the dish.

No matter the origins of this favorite dish, it is perfect hearty fare for the end of winter, or a quick spring cold-snap. The best is that most of you probably have all the ingredients already available in your freezer or pantry! Making this a quick and easy dish to prepare in a snap!

You can prepare it in a Dutch oven, cast iron skillet, or as I did, in my Tagine.

*This is also a good time to remind you, if you are interested in following my homesteading activities, please check out my blog Got Goats (and sheep too)? and the corresponding facebook page!

Hunter’s Chicken (adapted from Scottish Traditional Recipes)

INGREDIENTS:

2 TBS olive oil
1 TBS butter
Half a chicken (or 4 chicken portions, like whole legs)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
14 oz can of chopped tomatoes
2/3 cup of dry red wine
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 rosemary sprig finely chopped
4 oz. fresh field mushrooms (or portabellos), thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:
Heat oven to 350 F. Heat the oil and butter in the vessel you will be using to cook the dish. Add the chicken and fry for 5 minutes, remove chicken from the pan and drain in paper towels. Add the sliced onion to the pan and cook gently, stirring often for about 3 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes and red wine. Add the crushed garlic and chopped rosemary; bring to a boil stirring constantly. Return the chicken to the casserole, turn to coat with the sauce, cover with a tight fitting lid. At this point you can either keep it stove top and simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or you can add the mushrooms, season the dish with salt and pepper and place in the oven for about 45 minutes. Serve with Clapshot (see recipe below).

Clapshot (adapted from Scottish Traditional Recipes)

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb of potatoes
1 lb of rutabaga (swede)
¼ cup butter
¼ cup milk or cream
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper

METHOD:

Peel potatoes and rutabaga, then cut into evenly small chunks. Place the cut vegetables in a pan and cover with water, add about a tsp of salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer until both vegetables are soft, about 15-20 minutes. Drain the vegetables through a colander, return to the pan and allow the vegetables to dry out a bit over low heat, stirring often to prevent sticking. Melt butter with the milk in a small pan over low heat. Mash the dry potato and rutabaga mixture, then add the milk mixture. Grate the nutmeg and mix thoroughly, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Black Pudding Stew and Bannocks

 

January is a big month for those of us with Scottish heritage. We start the month off with the celebration of Hogmany or Scottish New Year. This tradition comes from the intermixing between the Norse and the Scottish in Scotland. The 12 Days of Christmas, actually comes from the original 12 days of Yule , and Hogmany is the end of that celebratory time, as the new Gregorian year was rung in.

Then January 25th is Burn’s Night when Scots and those of Scottish ancestry the world over celebrate the life and poetry of Robert Burns by celebrating Burns Night and hosting a Burns Supper. I hosted my first proper Burns Supper in a long time last year and plan to do it again this year.

So in the meantime I would like to share with you this dish inspired by one of my favorite foods that I don’t get a chance to eat very often- black pudding, or blood pudding/sausage. I know a lot of you are probably gagging right now. But blood pudding is truly a sacred food. As the name implies it is made from the blood of a slaughtered animal. Usually sheep, sometimes pigs but it can also be made from cattle, duck and goat. This food really exemplifies nose to tail eating and as a farmer, I believe in using the entire animal, and that includes its blood. I have not had a chance to make it yet, but I do plan to in the future.

I must admit, the first time I had black pudding, I didn’t know what it was. I think that helped my taste buds truly enjoy it without thinking that I was supposed to think it was gross. I am so glad no one told me and just let me enjoy it.

The making of blood sausage is common the world over and can be found in nearly every culture. Generally it is made of the blood, some kind of fat and fillers depending on the culture – in France it is known as Boudin Noir, made with chestnut flour and cream, it was made on the Navajo reservation where I lived, prepared by the women with blue cornmeal, in Norway I ate Blodpølse as part of Christmas Eve traditional fare where it is served with other cured meats and Rømmegrøt. So although it might not be very popular in certain places and have a high “yuck” factor among many, it is part of the traditional diet of probably all of our ancestors and to be respected.

Last year when I ordered my Haggis from Scottish Gourmet USA for our Burns Supper, I also bought some of their black pudding or Marag Dubh. It can be eaten fried up for breakfast and served with eggs, or used in dishes, like this stew I made with beans and mushrooms, creating a wonderfully flavorful dish with a certain je ne sais quoi coming from the addition of the black pudding. It is just like anchovies in Italian Puttanesca sauce, if you don’t tell people it is in there, they will love it, licking their dish, while swearing how much they hate anchovies.

I served the stew with another traditional Scottish favorite, gluten free Oat Bannocks to sop up all the delicious sauce.

Open your mind and be adventurous this new year! Join us for a Burns Night celebration and try some black pudding!

Black Pudding Stew

INGREDIENTS:

2 TBS of butter
2 slices of bacon
¼ large onion diced
1 clove garlic
½ cup re-constituted dried mushrooms (save the water)
½ lb black pudding, crumbled
¼ cup red wine
½ cup mushroom water
1 TBS Flowers of Scotland
¾ lb Christmas Limas, cooked
1 cooked potato diced

METHOD:

Be sure to cook your potato and beans ahead of time. Melt the butter in a hot skillet (preferably cast iron). Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook with the onion, garlic, mushrooms and black pudding. Once the bacon is browned and the onions soft, add the wine, mushroom water and cooked beans. Simmer on low for 25 minutes over low heat, covered. Take off lid and add the flowers of Scotland and cubed potatoes. Reduce liquid until the stew is nice and thick. Serve with bannocks. Serves 4.

Bannocks

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup GF oat flour
½ cup coconut flour
¼ cup tapioca flour/starch
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup of yogurt/kefir/buttermilk
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder

METHOD:

Mix first 5 ingredients together and allow to sit on the countertop for 8 hours, or overnight. Next day place it in a food processor and add the rest of the ingredients, pulsing until the dough is nice and crumbly. Preheat oven to 400F.
On a floured surface press dough into an eight-inch circle about ¾ inch thick. Bake at 400F for 12- 15 minutes. Serves 6-8.

Cooking with Friends: Sopes & Sangria

Sopes stuffed with local cheese and jalapeno jam

Part of feeling settled in a new community comes with making new friends. Having friends makes you feel more grounded in the place where you live and of course it is always nice to have people to share events, food and good times with! We have been lucky in this regard with our move to Vermont. We will have been living here for a year at the end of April, and we are lucky to have developed several groups of friends here in the local community.  The common vein is that all of these friends were met by way of food. But I guess knowing me, that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise!

We met Corey and Kurt during a lamb butchering class we took with Cole Ward, The Gourmet Butcher , this past fall. It was an 8 hour class where we all learned how to butcher a lamb for our own consumption. Cole is a genius and a true artisan of the craft. I can’t wait to take more classes with him! Roberto and I were the only first-timers there. Of course during those many hours we all talked an awful lot about food and recipes. At the end of class, many of us exchanged email addresses. Several of us planned a lamb potluck for January, and for one reason or another, it ended up only being me, Roberto, Corey and Kurt at the dinner.

Since then we have been getting together regularly to enjoy good food, wine and each other’s company either at each other’s houses or out in the community.  Sometimes we even cook together and are making plans to start a Supper Club and acquire more foodie friends!

Corey and Kurt are big foodies. Having lived all over the world they have experienced a lot of different food cultures. They have big plans to host gourmet getaways to Vermont. They already have a beautiful cabin in rural Vermont that they rent out to guests, and are working on having a kitchen put in where they can offer cooking classes and gourmet dinners to their guests.

 

 

The last time we got together, they hosted and made Mexican food.  They had recently taken a class with Chef Courtney Contos (the chef on the Gourmet Butcher DVDs), and decided to keep practicing their new recipes by trying them out on us. I offered to bring drinks. I made nice winter sangria using a dark red zinfandel as the base. I added to it several shots of lavender scented vodka, a splash of vanilla extract and a variety of fruits we had preserved this fall, including, raspberries in syrup and plums in a vanilla-cardamom-rum syrup. I also added sliced blood oranges. I soaked the fruits in the vodka overnight and added a pinch of dried lavender. I meant to take a picture when we served it, but we were already a bottle of wine in, and it slipped my mind. The photo above is one of my favorite photos from this blog and a summer sangria recipe.

For appetizers, Corey made the coolest stuffed masa boats, called Sopes.  Masa is Spanish for “dough” but it usually refers to dough made from reconstituted corn meal.  My friend Ben from What’s Cooking Mexico has a great tutorial on making sopes and other tortillas .

Making the Sopes

 

The only thing we did different with our sopes is that we folded up the sides of the small tortillas to make “boats” before frying them to shape them. We stuffed our sopes with several different options – guacamole, Boucher blue cheese (Highgate, VT) and plain Chevre (Boston Post Dairy, Enosburg, VT). Both of the cheese options were topped with some of Corey’s homemade Jalapeno jam from peppers grown in Georgia, VT. They were all delicious, but I really loved the unique combination of the Boucher blue and jalapeno jam.

Dinner was Mexican rice, homemade beans, and a stewed chicken dish in a tomatillo sauce (via Corey and Kurt’s garden last year), served with freshly made tortillas. For dessert they had roasted pears and pineapple served with homemade caramel. Again, we forgot to take photos, but I promise it was good! We ended the evening with an impromptu Scotch tasting and tea. Definitely a great night!

Chioggia Beet Salad

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Here is a quick but beautiful and romantic salad perfect for your Valentine’s Day celebration or any other romantic occasion. The beauty is in the freshness and color of the ingredients, naturally. Valentine’s Day menus typically focus around red foods, chocolate and other aphrodisiacs.

I don’t think there is anything more tantalizing than a warm beet salad, with creamy goat cheese and cranberry-balsamic compote to get your dinner started off right. The best thing about it is that it is quick so you don’t have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, instead focusing on more important things!

Chioggia Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Cranberry-Balsamic Compote


INGREDIENTS:
2 giant organic Chioggia beets (the ones I had probably weighed 1 lb each), sliced into ¼ inch rounds
Olive oil to drizzle
Salt, pepper and herbs de Provence to season
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup red wine
Handful of fresh organic cranberries
Goat cheese (sheep milk feta would do nicely too) – quantity depends on your taste, but a nice hefty crumble between each layer is good.


METHOD:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place sliced beets on parchment paper lined cookie sheets, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning (to your taste). Bake for about 35-40 minutes. You want the beets to be nice and roasted, but still soft.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, place the balsamic, wine and cranberries bring to a boil over medium heat and then lower heat and let simmer until it has reduced by half. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, layer the beets, goat cheese and compote, in a stack until all has been used up. Serves 4

For dessert, why not try these quick and easy Dark Chocolate Covered StrawberriesSpicy Mayan Hot Cocoa or Raw Chocolate Pudding – each of these recipes take under 10 minutes to make!

Enjoy!

A Truly Local Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year. One reason is because it is the only harvest still celebrated by the majority of people in North America, where people enjoy a variety of seasonal foods in a ritualistic manner. Celebrating the harvest is a festival that has been going on for a very long time in our human history and humans have always loved a good ritual. Celebrating the harvest is a way to give thanks for having enough food to sustain you through the next season. Living in a rural area, and spending much of this year planting, growing and harvesting our own food, has really put us in touch with a more natural cycle. Something I am very thankful for.

This year, Roberto and I decided in order to really appreciate the meaning of this holiday, everything we were to prepare would be from local ingredients – some ingredients as local as our own backyard! We pre-ordered a heritage turkey from Applecheek Farm. On Wednesday we went to the farm to pick up our fresh (not frozen) bird and decided to pick up other items at the farmstore to create the rest of our menu. We were greeted with an array of wonderful fresh and seasonal produce – fresh cranberries, brussels sprouts, potatoes, squashes, local breads, cheeses, eggs and milk. Everything one would need for a splendid holiday meal.

Since it was just the two of us this year, we decided not to overdo it. This was our menu:

Maple Roasted Heritage Turkey*
(Local Ingredients: turkey, butter, maple, From The Backyard: fresh rosemary)
Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing with sausage oven dried tomatoes, fresh herbs and pine nuts
(Local Ingredients: Cornmeal, homemade chicken/duck stock, sausage, From The Backyard: oven dried tomatoes, fresh rosemary and sage) – recipe below
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
(Local Ingredients: butter, fresh cream, From the Backyard: potatoes and rosemary)
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
(Local Ingredients: brussels sprouts, butter)
Fresh Cranberry Sauce
(Local Ingredients: fresh cranberries, honey) – recipe below
Maple and Pumpkin Crème Caramel
(Local Ingredients: maple, cream, milk and pumpkin, From The Backyard: eggs)

*note: heritage turkeys are much leaner and smaller than sedentary commercial birds. This means that fast cooking at high temperatures is a better method than slow roasting. To read more about heritage turkeys, and why you should consider one for your Thanksgiving table next year, read this short article from Local Harvest

I prepared the compound butter for the turkey (I suggest making extra to enjoy with the leftover cornbread – they are the perfect combination with a nice brown ale), the creme caramel and the cornbread on Wednesday, and then spent the morning on Thursday in the kitchen finishing up the rest.

Doing Thanksgiving this way is so much less stressful, because you just go with the flow and what it the freshest and available! So I challenge you to think about doing something like this next year!

We spent the day watching a Lord of The Rings marathon, talking to family on the phone and just relaxing by the fire with the pets. It was a perfect Thanksgiving and a great way to really relax and unwind after such a busy season on the homestead.
THANKSGIVING RECIPES:


Fresh Cranberry Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups fresh cranberries
orange zest from one orange
juice of one orange
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ cup dark red wine (like zinfandel, grenache, or malbec)
¼ cup raw honey
pinch of nutmeg

METHOD:

In a medium saucepan combine all the ingredients. I even put the quarters of orange in that have been zested and juiced. Turn heat to medium low and bring to a boil while stirring often. Reduce temperature to low simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced and you are left with a thick sauce – about 15 miutes.

Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Fresh Herbs and Pine Nuts
(Recipe stuffs a 9-10 lb bird)

INGREDIENTS:

half a recipe of gluten free skillet cornbread (see below)
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
2 TBS olive oil
½ onion, minced
1 clove garlic minced
1 TBS each – fresh sage, fresh rosemary
1 cup loose sausage (I use pasture-raised)
½ cup oven roasted tomatoes, chopped
½ – ¾ cup homemade poultry stock
salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

Make cornbread and toast pine nuts and set aside. Sautee onions, garlic and herbs in olive oil until onions become translucent. Add the sausage and cook until just browned. In a large mixing bowl, break up th cornbread into small pieces, then add the contents of the pan. Stir together with the oven roasted tomatoes. Then add the stock and stir to coat all the pieces of bread – making sure everything is nice and moist. Then it is ready to stuff inside the bird.

Gluten Free Skillet Cornbread:
Ingredients:
1 cup oat flour
¾ cup cornmeal
½ cup kefir, buttermilk or yogurt
½ cup milk
¼ cup of butter, melted
2 TBS maple sugar
2 ½ tsp aluminum free baking powder
pinch of salt
2 TBS butter or lard for skillet (I used bacon fat)

Method:
Mix oat flour, cornmeal, kefir and milk in a large mixing bowl. Let sit out on counter overnight or at least 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Then mix in the rest of the ingredients, except the fat for the skillet. Heat fat in a cast iron skillet, then pour the batter in and put the skillet in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove bread from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Tagine Pot Roast

Now that the weather is growing colder and we are beginning to stay indoors more often, it is time for me to break out one of my absolute favorite cooking vessels – my beloved Tagine. I have used my tagine to make numerous tagines, but I have also used it to make beef stew, roasted chicken and stewed pork ribs, among others. I find that cooking with my tagine is unmatched when my goal is tender, fall-off-the bone, don’t-need-a-knife-to-cut-it meat.

Tagine cooking is really so simple, but the flavors are deep. These meals are perfect for a casual night at home, and at the same time impressive when you have guests over. Especially if you have a decorative tagine to serve it in. But the time commitment is minimal. In other words, perfect for absolutely any occasion.

This time I decided to start Tagine Season off right with a traditional pot roast. I slow cooked it with delicious root vegetables from our garden. It was the perfect meal on a cold night, sipping a glass of red wine and sitting by the fire. I look forward to many many nights like this, during the fall and winter months.

Tagine Pot Roast

INGREDIENTS:

1 roast ( I prefer grassfed beef)
salt and pepper
spices of your choice (I used an espresso meat rub)
olive oil for browning
¼ cup of red wine
2 TBS aged balsamic vinegar
3 large carrots in large dices
2 turnips in large dices
2 potatoes in large dices
1 large daikon radish in large dices
2 TBS dijon mustard
1 TBS of olive oil
dried thyme
rosemary sprig

METHOD:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Rub the meat with the salt, pepper and spices. In a large skillet brown the meat on all sides in olive oil (optional step). You can do this right in your tagine, if it is made of cast iron. While the meat is browning, toss your cut vegetables with dijon mustard, olive oil, salt, pepper and dried thyme. If you are not browning in the tagine, once the meat is browned on all sides, remove the meat from the skillet and place in your tagine. Pour the red wine and balsamic vinegar over top and arrange your vegetables around the meat. Place a fresh rosemary sprig on top, put the lid on, and cook in the oven for about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Be sure to check every 45 minutes or so for liquid. If it needs more liquid, you can just add a tablespoon or so of water. Serve and enjoy!

Canard aux Olives, Preserved Plum Tart and an Ode to Applecheek Farm

This year we joined a CSA – a meat CSA. Most people are familiar with vegetable CSAs but this was the first time I had heard of a meat CSA. We are very fortunate here in our little piece of heaven called Vermont, to have many amazing diversified farms, including one in our town, Applecheek Farm. For us, Applecheek is not just a place to get raw milk, free-range chicken eggs, delicious grassfed beef, or pastured pork. It is also a community hub. Since we have moved here we have been to numerous “Localvore Dinners” catered by and served at the farm, a pig roast, as well as several farm tours.

Applecheek has become a destination for our out of town guests that come to visit us and want to see and experience a real farm, where many animals co-exist together, grazing on green grass, as opposed to a feedlot where there are thousands of one type of animal grazing in, well, their own excrement.

(My step-daughter Gwen having fun with chickens, Jenn at the Welcome sign, Rocio w/ pigs and llamas, a real tractor, Jenn with a goat and the happiest cows you will ever meet).

At Applecheek people can get up close and personal with happy cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys guinea fowl as well as non-food animals like emus, llamas, draft horses and retired pet goats. It is also a place where the local community gathers to eat good food, learn about sustainable farms and spend time with each other.

Rocio and John who have recently taken over the farm operations from John’s parents John and Judy, and Jason and Sarah, who run the catering operation and the Localvore dinners became the first friends we made when we moved here. They have helped us immensely by providing tips for where to get various things locally and of course where the good eats are. We all share a love for good, nutrient dense foods as well as home-brewing, lacto-fermentation and food preservation.

Here is the Applecheek Farm philosophy:

“We strive to produce food that encompasses dignity for our animals, stimulates local economy, provides optimal nutrition for our customers and restores the ecological capital within our soils. Our priorities here on the farm begin with the soil and the nutrients that develop within our land and ultimately passed on to those who eat our food. From our perspective, this is a grass farm that converts grasses into meat, milk and eggs. While many people refer to our farm as a sustainable farm, we feel it is simply not enough to sustain. We are committed to a restorative approach to farming our land and animals in an effort to increase the quality of our soils.”

A dream come true. It is the kind of farm that all of us dream we had in our town after watching Food Inc. or reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Our dream was realized when we moved to this part of Vermont, and we are grateful for it daily, as inevitably some food item from Applecheek graces our table at least during one of our daily meals, be it fried eggs and sausages for breakfast, a delicious burger, or in this case a whole roasted duck.

I am getting really familiar with duck in this household since joining the CSA, which invariably make the fire department really familiar with us because no matter what, I cannot stop myself from frying potatoes in the fat from the duck – which always makes the house a smoky mess, and sets off our alarm! But look at this beautiful dish – it is totally worth it!

Besides that, I am always trying a new recipe with the duck, this time, I decided to make something simple, a classic French dish – roasted duck with olives, or Canard aux Olives. I pretty much followed this recipe, except that I used white wine instead of broth, added some lemons (also stuffed the bird with lemon wedges), skipped the vermouth and used all green olives. I also cooked it in a 350 F oven, instead of on the stove top. I served them with those delicious duck fat fried potatoes. The result was an incredibly good roasted duck that was unanimously declared to be the best duck I have prepared to date. The bones and leftover meat I used to make a delicious stock and soup. Nothing went to waste.

For dessert I made individual preserved plum tarts. I made a crust using almond flour and butter, vaguely fashioned after this recipe pressed it into my individual baking dishes, and baked for about 20 minutes at 350F. Then I placed some of my plum preserved in brandy-vanilla-cardamom syrup and topped with fresh maple whipped cream.

Now since Applecheek really is a special place, I don’t expect that all of you, my dear readers have access to such a farm. But I am sure that you do have farms in your area where you can buy free-range, organic eggs, or humanely raised meat, or if you are lucky raw milk. So support them, learn from them, ask questions and help to make the food on your table a little bit better for you and your family. The more we support these farms, the more farms like this will be available to us! To find farms in your area, check out LocalHarvest.