Tag Archives: Gourmet Cooking

Vermont winter from a cooks kitchen

onions still life
onions lined up on a wooden board

The temps have dipped to places I have never seen in the 16 years I have lived in Vermont. Last night 10 below 0. When it gets this cold, the only place I want to hang, other than our hot tub, is in the kitchen. I have 2 new cookbooks for inspiration. Tartine All Day & the book I have been falling asleep with since Christmas, called Breaking Bread by Martin Philip. Martin is the head baker at King Arthur flour in Northfield, Vermont. His story of how he got to his present position is one of a passion for not only good bread, but good food that feeds the soul & spirit too.

Armed with both books, I spent my day baking. I made up a batch of grainy looking flax muffins with grated apples, in hopes that I would like this gluten free muffin.

gluten free muffins
gluten free flax muffins

I did.More than ever, I find every weekend guests who are either gluten free or lactose free. This year my challenge is to find recipes that excel in taste & texture for my inn guests.

Next  item was a maple oatmeal bread. It was an all day event with numerous proofings, but when those loaf pans emerged from the oven, brown & smelling of yeast & molasses, I knew my effort paid off. It was a great accompaniment to a bowl of butternut squash soup with cumin & coriander.

maple oat bread
maple oat bread

Soup was my next effort. A rich satisfying puree of butternut squash, creamy peanut butter , aromatic spices, & coconut milk. And the best part, it came together in less than an hour. If you have fresh cilantro, top it off with a sprinkle of it and a squeeze of lime.



butternut squash soup
creamy butternut squash soup

Peanut Butternut Squash soup

2 Tsp peanut oil

4 cups cubed peeled butternut squash

1 cup onion chopped

6 cloves minced garlic

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp ground coriander

4 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 can coconut milk

1/4 tsp crushed pepper

fresh cilantro

Heat peanut oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add squash & the next 5 ingredients to pan.saute 5 minutes until the onion is tender. Add broth, coconut milk, peanut butter, tomato paste & red pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes until squash is tender. You may puree at this point or leave for a chunky texture. Top with cilantro.

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.



Amberjack fish

amberjack-ingredients-innthebuff-gourmetSince our arrival in Florida we have been feasting on fresh fish.

Today we selected a fillet of amber fish, or more commonly known as jack fish. It is a firm white fish & very mild in flavor. I pan fried it with a quick sauté of grape tomatoes & garlic in a little butter & olive oil. I wanted to throw in some capers but didn’t have any so I chopped up a few dill pickles to give the sauce a more piquant flavor.  Some chopped fresh Italian parsley finished the dish! Delicious.amberjack-dinner-innthebuff-gourmet

Florida Dining

A few times of year my husband & I escape to the sunny sands of Florida’s gulf coast. April tends to be a quiet time in Vermont; the snow is finally melting and the land just looks tired & gray. While our assistant manager Liz finishes up the last of the sugaring, (maple, that is,) we head south.

Shrimp and Avocado Salad
Shrimp & Avocado Salad

While most folks on vacation look forward to dining out, I embrace the opportunity to buy locally & cook .

A friendly older gent sets up a farm stand 3 days a week. We load up on fresh berries; oranges & grapefruit; lettuces and all kinds of tomatoes. Next stop is always the fish store. Independently owned, this little gem has a nice selection of fresh caught shrimp, blue crabs and a gulf favorite– grouper. We visit there often, selecting whatever is the catch of the day.

Florida Hibiscus Flower

Now don’t get me wrong, I love eating out & tasting the local fare, but to cook at our Florida home is equally satisfying. Our back patio overlooks the canal, and from there we can enjoy incredible sunsets amidst those iconic Palm trees and bevy of blooming hibiscus.

Since we have arrived we have chosen to eat every meal al fresco, enjoying the glorious feeling of summer, having endured so many frozen snowy days in New England.

Florida HeronOur lunches have been a variety of salad greens, beautiful tomatoes & fresh gulf shrimp, steamed & chilled. Enjoyed with a chilled glass of wine, I am happy in paradise. Oh, did I mention an uninvited lunch guest?