March 22, 2011

Lemon Pound Cake

Lemon pound cake - slice

Here is still winter. Just yesterday we got 5-6 inches of snow, and it snowed so much that you could berely see the street.
I feel spring time very far away here. It really doesn't seem spring at all. This means that I am still in the mood for winter confort food and for nice teas in front of the fire place. With sweet, cuddling cakes – rich and buttery.


March 18, 2011

Guinness Onion Soup

Guinness onion soup

Happy St. Patrick's day! What a nice occasion to experiment with recipes that I never tried, play with them and make my own... Which to be honest is much more fun than make a red-white-green dish. Just sayin'...
Soo, no matter if they are orthodox, traditional or not, well, I like whatever is around Ireland cuisine in general, especially because I am a helpless potato-lover (roasted, boiled, in soup or mash form), but I also love beer, cabbage, corn pudding, soda bread etc etc. Sooo, well, I wanted to do something to celebrate this day that is particularly felt in the US, especially in Seattle, NY, Chicago, Boston, but also elsewhere --where the Irish community is very big. 
The thing is, I'm not Irish, I am an Italian in the US that want to cook something for St. Patrick's day to feel a bit festive. What can I come up with? Surely not corn beef with cabbage, too long and too complicated, plus I didn't have any beef in my fridge (we never lack cabbages, though). And I ate potatoes yesterday night. And I just finished my Soda Bread Scones. Plus, I just baked a huge loaf of French country bread... Mmm, mumble mumble. "What is that thing in the fridge? Oh, onions. Soo many onions!!". I thought I could make an onion soup, although I was not sure it was really Irish --and with that kind of bread it was 100% French.

Then I had an idea: onion soup with Guinness --there was a box of Guinness cans in the Inn's refrigerator left there since last summer or last party, probably. Perfect! And to complete the meltin' pot (in all senses, both multinational and cheesy), our faithful and ubiquitous Vermont clothbound cheddar. Yes, a mix and match recipe...A bit like me here now.

Guinness onion soup 
serves 2
2 tbsp  melted butter
3 large onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
6 cups vegetable stock
1 can Guinness
1 tsp salt
2 slices of good aged Cheddar, shredded
2 big slices of country bread
In a large pot, melt butter and add the onions. Add brown sugar and salt. Cook at medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring often until the onions start to brown. Add Worcestershire sauce, then Guinness, increase heat and stir often. Add stock, bring to a simmer and cook 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are very soft and start to break apart. Once ready, preheat the oven to 400° F. Transfer the soup into 2 personal pots that can go in the oven. Toast the bread, then place slices on top of the soup and place pieces of cheese over them. Bake 10 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve right away –with more Guinness to drink, of course!


Felice giorno di S. Patrizio! Il bello di questa festa è che si possono sperimentare un sacco di ricette interessanti, posso sperimentare, cambiare e farle un po' mie, il che mi diverte molto di più di inventare piatti verdi-bianchi-rossi. E il fatto che adooori letteralmente tutto ciò che rapresenta la cucina irlandese, dalle patate, al soda bread, alla birra, dalle zuppe ai cavoli, beh non guasta per nulla. Insomma, volevo a tutti i costi fare qualcosa di un po' irlandese oggi, anche perché questa festa qui negli Stati Uniti, specie nel New England, la sentono parecchio (non fosse altro per uscire a bere una bella birra scura).

Che potevo mai preparare io, italiana in America, il giorno di S. Patrizio? Sicuramente non il manzo coi cavoli, che tanto 1) troppo lungo, 2) non ho il manzo 3) odio cucinare la carne e non sono minimamente capace. Quindi? Il frigo mi diceva che c'erano un bel po' di cipolle da far fuori in forma di zuppa subito e/o adesso. E caso voleva che avessi sfornato una bella pagnottona di pain de campagne proprio per un'eventuale zuppa di cipolle. E che avessi ancora del meraviglioso Cabot cheddar vermontiano doc. Ma la zuppa di cipolle è irlandese o no? Mah...Poi, idea! Zuppa di cipolle alla Guinness! Quale migliore meltin' pot (in tutti i sensi, fusione di cucine e cocotte fondente) per una giornata come questa? E sia! Buon S. Patrizio a tutti!

Guinness onion soup -- cheesy Cheddar

Zuppa di cipolle alla Guinness
per 2

3 cipolle grandi
1 cucchiaio di zucchero di canna
2 cucchiai di salsa Worcherster
1 cucchiaino di sale
1 cucchaio di burro
1 lattina di Guinness
5 tazze di brodo vegetale
2 fette di pane casereccio
2 fette di Cheddar

Tagliare le cipolle a fette sottili, rosolarle col burro a fiamma moderata, aggiungere sale e zucchero, sfumare con la salsa Worchester e lasciar appassire per 10 minuti mescolando spesso per evitare che si atttacchino. Aggiungere la Guinness e alzare la fiamma, una volta asciugata aggiungere il brodo caldo, coprire e lasciar cuocere per 20 minuti circa o fino a che le cipolle non siano morbide e cedevoli. Soegnere la fiamma e disporre in cocottine individuali. Tostare il pane, disporlo sulle cocotte, coprire col formaggio, inforare a forno caldo a 200°C per 10 minuti, Accendere il grill e lasciare in forno un altro paio di minuti. Sevire caldo con altra Guinness!


March 16, 2011

Whole Wheat Scones with Olives

Barr Hill sunset
Bird house

Here we are, in the middle of what they call "spring"...As you can see, the Inn is just buried with snow, but OK...It's beatuful, though. Sunset are literally breath-taking. 

So, in the wave of baking foreign goods (what else, with this climate?), I came up with these perfect replacement of bread in case you run out of it and you didn't make a dough the day before or you're just too lazy or have no time to go to the bakery. Which was my case yesterday.


March 12, 2011

Vermont Muesli

Still recovering from jet lag, I woke up early for a Sunday. I peaked outside the window and noticed that it snowed some more overnight, to the point that it was hard to see the houses and trees underneath the white mantel of snow. 

Yesterday, we went grocery shopping in a local food coop less than 5 miles away from where we are. I was surprised to find so much good food in here. Stereotypes about trash food in the US don't apply to rural Vermont. Here, it is more like a paradise for local and organic foodies, with amazing dairy products, whole grains, craft beers and astonishingly good maple syrup. The only drawback is that greens are really expensive. I could only find local apples and carrots, the rest all comes from Mexico and California and it's terribly pricey. 

Anyway, I bought a bunch of staples for the next few days, including local flour from King Arthur, muesli, oatmeal, granola, nuts, grains, legumes, berries – all sold in bulk, then packed in recyclable paper bags. I also got some great French-style bread, some coffee, and a jar of cranberry jam. I passed by the dairy section and I was astounded by the quality it all: fresh butter, organic local milk, locally-sourced yogurt, and free-range, organic multicolored eggs sold by the dozen. Wow. Good food here is surely more expensive than in Italy, but it felt so totally worth it.

So this morning breakfast was pretty settled. We indulged in a lazy, comforting bowl of muesli to go along a big mug of black coffee while outside everything was white and still. The peace in the place. 

I can see this becoming my go-to breakfast while living here. It will be a mix of healthy ingredients sourced locally, light enough to stir me away from sluggishness, and nutritious enough to get me going in this cold Vermont spring. 

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