A wonderful salad

A glen morning icy pine needles
iced pine needles

Every weekend, I prepare dinner for our inn guests. Unlike most restaurants, I create a new menu each weekend. Most of my dinners include a special salad.   This weekend I made a romaine salad, which included Compari  tomatoes, Swiss cheese, maple bacon,& toasted almonds. A light lemon vinaigrette with garlic, pulled the whole salad together. All of my guests asked for the recipe . So here it is for all to enjoy.

Company Salad

3/4 cup vegetable oil. I used avocado oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp salt & pepper

2 bunches or romaine

2 cups of diced tomatoes

6 strips of maple bacon, cooked z& crumbled

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1 cup croutons( make homemade)

Prepare the dressing in a jar, shake & refrigerate.

Tear romaine into a large bowl. Add tomatoes, bacon, cheeses, almonds & croutons. Toss . Add dressing just before serving.

Serves 8 ~ 10.

I followed the salad with a Shrimp & Andouille Sausage served over cheddar grits. A great comfort food dinner.

Sleigh ride weekend

Adams Farm sleigh
Adams Farm sleigh

Every January, Abbott’s Glen hosts a sleigh ride weekend at Adams Farm in Dover Vermont. Our guests join us for an iconic winter experience. We dine earlier in the evening so we can reach the mountain for an 8:00 departure. A team of 2 draft horses ascend the mountain pulling 20 blanket covered guests over the snow covered meadows under a sparkling winter night sky. Once at the cabin, we unload to let let the horses rest awhile. We are greeted by a member of the Adams family who offers up some hot chocolate .The cabin is lit by kerosene lamps. A wood stove for heat & an old player piano allow for some ole time entertainment & warmth.

Spinach salad
Spinach salad with Apples & sunflower seeds

I always plan an easy home style meal that echoes a country feeling.  So a home made chicken pot pie seemed like a perfect fit. We started the meal with a spinach salad with sliced pink lady apples, thinly sliced red onion, & salted pumpkin seeds. It was offered with blue cheese & a home made honey Dijon dressing.

chicken pot pie
Chicken pot pie for 24

The chicken pot pie with a cheddar biscuit topping  was satisfying and delicious. Most of our guests had as second helping and everyone asked for the recipe.

When we returned from mountain , we served a platter of golden cupcakes with a chocolate ganache , topped with fresh sugared orange peel. Coffee & a warm fire was all the guests needed to rev them up for the from the remaining night of dancing in Club Sugar Shack.

yellow cupcakes
yellow cupcakes with ganache & candied citrus r

Baking on a gray day

country kitchen canisters
Abbott’s glen kitchen canisters

Winter in Vermont can be long. Often there are many  gray days in a row.  It’s easy to feel a little blue & lethargic. My remedy for the blues? Head into the kitchen & bake something comforting. Chocolate usually does the trick.

brownie pie wedge
wedge of brownie pie with peppermint ice cream

I found this decadent  brownie pie recipe in Ken Hadricks’ cookbook  appropriately titled” Comfort Food”. I have been using a lot of his recipes this January.   I have prepared several pots of soup, many 1 pan main dishes, & a few desserts. This brownie pie may become a favorite. I chose to top with a peppermint gelato and my  guests loved it. Sweetened whipped cream would also be terrific.

 

Brownie Pie

baked brownie pie
Brownie pie right out of the oven

1  9 inch pie crust, unbaked

1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butter

2 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

brownie pie ingredients
brownie pie ingredients

1/2 cup white flour

1/2 tsp. salt

Optional: 1 cup toasted pecans or walnuts

  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 cup of chocolate chips & heat for a few minutes more, then remove from heat. Stir until chips are melted.
  • In a large bowl, combine eggs,sugars & vanilla & whisk until evenly blended.Add melted chocolate & stir. Add flour & salt & blend. Add remaining chips & nuts. Scrape the filling into unbaked pie shell & smooth top.
  • Bake  for 30 ~ 35 minutes. Do not test with a tooth pick in middle as it should be fudgy.
  • Serve warm with Ice cream or whipped cream. Serves 8 ~ 12
  • Note: this is very rich so smaller pie wedges will still satisfy that chocolate urge.

A light whole wheat pancake?

As a long time subscriber to Cooks magazine, I have devoured every issue from its beautiful front cover to the last page of food illustrations, worthy of framing.

I have cooked numerous recipes over the years and know that these recipes have been proven to be perfect as long as you follow the directions. I love reading each article which describes  why something would not turn out right. It makes it so easy to not mess up when you know the chemistry behind the variables.

whole wheat buttermilk pancakes
whole wheat buttermilk pancakes

So this past weekend, my husband had a hankering for pancakes. I had just purchased a 10 lb bag of freshly ground whole wheat flour from the Knitty Gritty Grain company. If you haven’t hear of them, they are a small company in Vermont that grows their own corn & wheat organically. Their items are then ground & packaged in smaller quantities for the home cook or wholesale for businesses. We sell their Cornmeal products here at the inn along with several grades of maple syrup.

My husband made up a batch of buttermilk whole wheat pancakes from Cooks magazine while I  tended to the bacon. Now if you have tried to make a loaf of whole wheat bread & it turned out to be a 5 lb brick, you realize whole wheat flour has little gluten. Not great for bread making but fabulous for pancakes. It’s almost hard to believe that a whole wheat pancake could be lighter than one made with white flour but that is the truth. They were too good to be true and that’s why I am sharing this recipe with you. So enjoy without guilt. They are good for you. Of course a lump of sweet butter & some Vermont maple syrup make the perfect breakfast stack.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

2 cups whole wheat flour  ( 11oz)

2 Tbsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp soda

1/2 tsp  salt

2 1/4 cups of buttermilk

5 tbsp vegetable oil or coconut oil

2 large eggs

Whisk flour, baking powder, sugar ,soda & salt together. In a separate bowl whisk buttermilk, oil & eggs together. Make a well in the flour mixture & add the wet mixture. Whisk until smooth. Mixture will be thick.

Heat oil on a grill pan. I also use a tab of butter as it gives the pancakes more flavor . Gently ladel out a 1/4 cup batter into a 5 inch round. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake. Flip.

Do not press the pancake down with a flipper as it will deflate the fluffy texture. Recipe makes about 15 pancakes.

 

Autumn inspiration

At our country Inn in Vermont, we celebrated Columbus day weekend with our guests & autumn inspired meals .

Fall sunrise at Abbott's Glen
Autumn sunrise at Abbott’s Glen Inn

Once the weather starts getting cooler my desire to get back into the kitchen emerges. I start thinking about baking up items that make the kitchen sweet with the scent of cinnamon & nutmeg. My entree choices become satisfying dishes like a home made pasta, roasted root veggies, cuts of beef or pork, braised or roasted, sweet potatoes & pots of soup to satisfy a fall palate. It is a time when the last of the garden herbs, like hearty sage , rosemary and thyme get a good pruning and make their way to our kitchen to be dried or made into herb oils .

The change of seasons is a time of transition from lazy evenings  out at the grill & freshly picked vegetables to days of visiting  road side farm stands for a variety of winter squashes & root veggies that will find there way to a stock pot or oven. There’s nothing better than a pot of stew or soup, comfort food we all love, when the winds turn chilly & a wood fire crackles with a woody scent.

If you were a guest of Abbott’s Glen this past weekend, you enjoyed

Portabello mushroom pizza
Abbott’s Glen portabello mushroom pizza

homemade pizza with toppings of roasted portabello mushrooms & spinach, with a base of fire roasted tomatoes & topped with a smoked mozzarella  from a local cheese maker.

Zucchini Salad
Zucchini Salad with a Caesar style dressing

A zucchini salad with grape tomatoes, a ceasar style dressing, & topped with grated parmesan cheese & toasted pine nuts was nice change of pace for a salad offering.

Dessert included a pumpkin chocolate chip brownie with a sweet chocolate ganache which we served over in the Carriage house aside a fire in the wood stove.

pumpkin bars with chocolate ganache
Pumpkin chocolate chip brownies with chocolate ganache

Part of our weekend menu included a harvest  dinner which began with a Spinach Salad chock full of fresh sliced Gala apples, toasted walnuts , a grating of Vermont cheddar cheese & tossed with a Cranberry pear Vinaigrette. A roasted Pork Tenderloin bathed in a sweet marinade of Maple, Dijon, garlic & fresh squeezed orange juice was complimented with a chunky mashed potatoes with a generous amount of butter, pesto & freshly ground pepper. I roasted up chunks of butternut squash until shiny, tender & lightly browned.

Every dinner must end with something memorable, preferably sweet but not too over the top.

Maple mocha pudding
Dessert, maple mocha pudding

I made an simple  maple mocha pudding topped  with a scoop of vanilla Hagan Das ice cream

Baked french toast
Cinnamon bread & sausage baked french toast
Platter of fresh fruit
Platter of fresh fruit for breakfast at Abbott’s Glen

Guests staying at Abbott’s Glen always look forward to breakfast They never know what the menu will provide, part of the fun! One morning a sausage & cinnamon baked  bread French toast lured guests from their rooms. Another morning a baked German pancake with sauteed pears had guests licking the last bit of maple syrup from a plate devoid of even a crumb. Truth be told, most folks do enjoy breakfast.

 

 

Mardis Gras at Abbott’s Glen clothing optional inn

Mardis gras beads & masks
Mardis Gras beads & masks

This past weekend Abbotts Glen celebrated Mardis Gras. Warm enough to enjoy the clothing optional aspect of our inn, guests adorned themselves with colorful beads, funky hats of gold & purple, and lots & lots of multi color beads.

Our Saturday planned celebration got underway on Friday evening with a casual dinner consisting of a white bean chili, salad of romaine, orange segments & avocado, homemade cornbread served with a crock of sweet aguave butter.

fresh salad
Salad with orange, red onion, avocado

The Mardis Gras celebration dinner was the early highlight of the night. We prepared the best pot of gumbo ever! The recipe is one I had collected from an issue of Cooks magazine. The perfect roux created a great base for this savory melange of vegetables, meats & fish. Guests ladled big portions of gumbo onto a base of

gumbo
Big bowl of Gumbo

white rice. A basket of perfectly fried hush puppies accompanied the dinner. Now no Nawlins dinner is complete with out collards. Ours was prepared with red onions sauteed in bacon, braised & finished with red wine vinegar & a touch of brown sugar.

collard greens with bacon
collard greens with bacon

Even guests who had never eaten collards were won over by its silky texture & sweet onion bacon flavors.

In years past, I had baked up a sweet potato pie or a bread pudding with a Bourbon sauce, but this year we shifted gears & decided to make a traditional Kings  Cake recipe. A  sweet yeast dough laced with cinnamon & sugar would be as at home in a breakfast line up as an after dinner sweet. Its traditional adornment is rustic sugar colored green, gold & purple. Served with a good cup of coffee, our Mardis Gras revelers were ready to dance it up in Club Sugar shack, bearing strands of colorful beads & masks & hats of every shape & color reflective of Mardis Gras .

table set for Mardis Gras dinner
A table set for a Mardis Gras dinner

 

 

New Years buffet dinner & dance

Every December, Abbott’s Glen clothing optional Inn , pulls out all the stops, for a spectacular New Years eve buffet & dinner dance. Held in Club Sugar shack, the night starts with an Hors d’oeuvres reception & cocktails.

new years menu
new years menu

Although we are nudists, the guests start the evening dressed in whatever festive look they care to portray. We transform this casual recreation space into a gold & silver  fantasy. Cocktail foods are displayed on gilded mirrors with candles & glitter. It takes 4 people to place this large mirror, which this year, held 2 rounds of brie cheese, one topped with pesto & slivered sun dried tomatoes and the other with jellied whole cranberries & Georgia pecans.  Assorted crackers & slices of baguette accompanied the display.shrimp skewers smoked oyster roll A smoked oyster roll topped with chopped pistachios provided another cheesy choice for nibbling.  Grilled Shrimp kabobs served with an over the top spicy cocktail sauce disappeared quickly.Swedish meatballs , always tender, napped in a dill sauce,had guests going back for more, even though a dinner buffet would follow.

New Years Eve Dinner & Dance
Fresh Salad Greens with Pears, Blue Cheese & Toasted Pecans
served with a Champagne Vinaigrette
Beef Wellington
Baked Stuffed Jumbo Shrimp with Crab Stuffing
Wild Rice and Lentil Pilaf
Vegetable Medley
Dessert Buffet
Complementary Champagne at midnight

The dinner menu started with a Baby Greens salad topped with wine poached pears, Vermont blue cheese and toasted walnut pieces topped with a champagne vinaigrette.  The entrees included a beef wellington  & crab stuffed jumbo shrimp. A wild rice & lentil pilaf, along with roasted winter vegetables & a bread selection had everyone immersed in a full plate of holiday items. We wined & dined to holiday classics wafting through the room. The only thing missing from this New England holiday night was the snow!

Now no holiday dinner is complete without dessert. We let our guests start dancing before we brought out the dessert selection.  Home made cream puffs filled with an eggnog pastry cream, assorted cake balls filed with rum, chocolate & coconut cream. Assorted specialty cookies & meringues made up a glossy sweet delectable end to meal. Happy New Year!

 

Naked Country cooking