Last year, like most people, we spent a LOT of time inside the house. Coincidentally, we also planned a gut renovation on our kitchen. Did we lose our minds in the process? Read on to find out! (PS, the answer is “yes”.)
Neither of us grew up with large kitchens. In both New York City and suburban London, kitchens were often added as an afterthought, often in whatever space was available between one room and another. It wasn’t until we moved out of the city, to Beacon, in the Hudson Valley, that we had more than just a few square feet of dedicated cooking space. Our kitchen in Brooklyn was so small that we had to make our own counter space by laying a cutting board over the sink. Even so, we managed to cook a full Thanksgiving dinner for 14 people in that kitchen, though I’m pretty sure it took several years off my life in the process.
Yes, this pink, frothy cocktail is perfect for a romantic Valentine’s celebration but don’t let its good looks fool you, the Clover Club is a serious drink. And one originally imbibed exclusively by men – specifically the literary, legal, and financial men who, from 1882 until the 1920’s, met once a month in Philadelphia. The drink, named after their gentlemen’s club, was published in the New York Press in 1901, calling for gin, lemon juice, sugar, raspberry syrup, and egg white. Fast forward more than a century, and it’s also the name of a gorgeous cocktail bar in our old neighborhood in Brooklyn, where we first sampled the drink.
Here’s the story behind these dumpling-flavored sausage rolls. We had friends over at Christmas, and while serving up a plate of pigs-in-a-blanket, my friend pointed to them and said “Hey, what do you British call those? Isn’t there a crazy, funny name you have for those?” I was momentarily nonplussed as, a) we usually DO have a crazy, funny name for things, but b) I had no idea what else we might call them, having been out of the country, and therefore the loop, for about twenty years. (“Her Majesty’s Tiniest Corgis”? “Cheeky Blinders”? Answers on a postcard, please.)
A brief research session reminded me that Brits traditionally reserve the term “pigs in blankets” for small, un-cased sausages (which we call chipolatas) wrapped in bacon, not puff pastry, and that they’re a Christmas staple. (I then asked both my siblings to confirm this and they went straight for the sausage-in-pastry option instead, which, honestly, helps NOBODY.)
But while this post is about sausages in puff pastry, we’re not making pigs in blankets. We’re making sausage rolls. And we’re making them dumpling-flavored – seasoned with ginger, garlic, scallions and chili. Buckle up!
Happy New Year, pals! Whoo! Last year did fly by, didn’t it? No, I’m kidding of course, it didn’t fly by, it was grim and interminable and everyone hated it, but at least we’re spinning away from the winter solstice. January 2021 is now upon us, and we can fall back on tried and tested aphorisms such as “it’s darkest before the dawn” and “soup is the best thing to get you through January”. (Sometimes we change that to “whisky is the best way to get through Tuesday” but a lot of you are doing dry January and we don’t want to put you off your game.)
Soup is so essential to maintaining our sanity through the short, cold winter days that we always cook up a big batch of stock from the roast turkeys and rotisserie chickens that we’ve made since November, and then freeze it in large ice cube trays or plastic containers, so we have a store of rich, versatile broth for any soup recipe we need. Often, too, we’ll make a large pot of soup from the broth, and then freeze that so it’ll last several weeks. We’ve already blogged some of our favorites: a thick Nettle (or Spinach) and Potato soup, a Creamy Mushroom Soup with Black Rice, which quickly became a favorite, a classic Tomato Soup (with cheesy toasts that will blow your mind) and a Chicken and Potato Chowder (which we made a batch of last month and thawed this week). There’s a reason why “Chicken Soup for the Soul” is a trademark, and there’s a reason why chicken soup works so well to raise the spirits. We’d like to introduce you to our new favorite variation on the theme: Gingery Chicken and Rice Noodle Soup with Crispy Garlic.
Puff pastry tarts with a creamy Cheddar spread, topped with sweet caramelized shallots and apples. Topped with a sprinkle of fresh thyme and a little spicy chili flakes. Sweet apples and tart Cheddar cheese? A marriage made on a local farm.
As this, the strangest of years, winds toward its close, we are especially grateful to the local farms that have been going above and beyond to keep everyone fed. Restaurants, usually a major destination for farm-grown food, are going through a major upheaval, and a direct relationship between farms and the people they feed is now more important than ever.
Here in the Northeast, our farms make maximum use of every single day in the relatively short growing season, and dairy farms play a huge role in local produce. Cabot Creamery is a co-operative of 800 farm families in the New England and New York area. They’re a certified B corporation, meaning that not only do they strive for the highest quality dairy produce, but responsible land stewardship, ethical production, and community giving are at the core of everything they do. We’re incredibly proud to partner with them for this recipe.
And here in the Hudson Valley, you can’t miss the major harvest of late Fall. You’ll see apple orchards dotted across the whole region — this part of New York produces around one fifth of the entire apple output of the United States. A huge variety of apples is grown, from the pie favorites Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Honeycrisp, to eat-out-of-your-hand Gala, Jonagold, and Macoun.
So, armed with the apples of the Hudson Valley and the sharp cheddars from Cabot’s farms, we decided to make something to celebrate our local farms: a Caramelized Apple, Shallot and Cheddar Tart.