What’s cooking in the Berkshires? Lots, from my vantage point.
Fall cleaning has been under way: New restaurateurs have taken over old venues or are renovating new ones. We have touched upon some of the changes in News and Notables, pages 4–5.
Retailers seem optimistic: Their summer and fall seasons were good and real estate professionals saw increased activity and results for the second year in a row.
Restaurants appeared to be busy and in some cases packed with eager customers.
Farmers and residents who grow for themselves experienced a great season, especially when it came to bumper fruit crops.
As we all know, many foods are seasonal—so it’s worth mentioning that this year’s seasonal release of the Northeast’s favorite, Mallomars, marked its 100th anniversary. The sweet treat was created by Nabisco and sold to a grocer in West Hoboken, New Jersey, on November 13, 1913—when a box cost 10 cents. Time to stock up.
We thought that living and visiting New England in the winter presented a wonderful opportunity to cook for family, friends and yourself. To help generate fresh ideas and inspiration we approached two dozen culinary professionals and asked them if they would contribute to this issue. We are fortunate here to have a growing number of creative culinary professionals amongst us.… Read the rest
By Jean Yves, Chef and owner,
Lenox and Great Barrington
Jean Yves, a classically trained pastry chef, started at age 14 in Paris, graduated from Ecole Jean Ferrandi and settled with his wife, Yulia, in 2010 in the Berkshires by way of Long Island. He owned and ran five pastry shops in Long Island and produced desserts for outgoing flights from the JFK airport, including Air France. They are pleased to have left city life for the Berkshires, where they can enjoy all we have to offer.
1½ cups pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 Berkshire apples, peeled and diced
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°.
Butter and flour an 8-inch round baking pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the first 8 dry ingredients (flour through salt.) Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute, then gradually add the brown sugar and continue beating on medium-high speed until well blended and light, about 2 minutes.… Read the rest
By Principal Baker Sascha Woolfe
SIX DEPOT CAFÉ
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1–2 tablespoons Six Depot espresso, finely ground, to taste
½ cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup Nutella (hazelnut/chocolate spread)
Six Depot sea salt, coarsely ground
Yields 1½ to 2 dozen cookies
Combine egg, brown sugar, espresso and flour.
Add Nutella and stir until well incorporated.
Refrigerate mixture for 10 minutes, then spoon about 1-teaspoon-sized balls onto oiled parchment/baking sheet.
Bake at 325° for 8–10 minutes; remove even if centers look a bit underdone. This will result in the chewiest, loveliest texture.
Sprinkle generously with sea salt while still hot.
Wait until cool, then devour.… Read the rest
Compliments of Gregg Charbonneau
BARRINGTON COFFEE ROASTERS
Lee, Lenox and Boston
This is an old favorite that we learned from chef Michelle Miller 20 years ago when she had the Boiler Room Café in Great Barrington. (These days, she’s founder and owner of Bola Granola.) We call it The Miller in her honor.
Place 1 or 2 scoops of your favorite vanilla ice cream* in a small bowl or coffee cup. Pour a shot of single-malt Scotch or a great bourbon over the top and dust with coarsely ground Barrington Coffee Italian Roast. You won’t be sorry.
* There’s no shortage of wonderful local ice cream available in the Berkshires: Bart’s Homemade, Golden Organics, Highlawn Farm, Maple Valley, Soco Creamery—all available at Guido’s. Gould Farm, available at their farm store in Monterey.… Read the rest
By Peter Platt, owner and executive chef
THE OLD INN ON THE GREEN
Chef Peter Platt’s lamb shanks at the Old Inn on the Green are a favorite. The setting is one of candlelit rooms in a 250-year-old inn in New Marlborough. The dining rooms are elegant yet offer an intimate dining experience. His menu indulges in tastes of the season, often locally foraged and sourced from farmers Peter knows well. This recipe is rich with deep flavors from the stock and the braising of the lamb, and a risotto with roasted vegetables that comforts hearty appetites in winter
Lamb shanks are one of the cuts of meat that benefit most from long, slow braising. Don’t omit the step of turning the shanks every half hour; it causes them to caramelize even as they braise. If the braising liquid seems too reduced at the end of the cooking process, stir 1 cup of water into the liquid before straining.
6 lamb fore shanks (Chef uses “fore” shanks rather than the rear shanks because they are, as a rule, meatier.)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups veal stock
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup demi-glace (a veal stock that has been reduced by half)
½ cup olive oil
1 whole head garlic, cut in half
2 spring fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 325°.… Read the rest
By Executive Chef Chris Bonnivier
GALA STEAKHOUSE & BISTRO
at The Orchards Hotel, Williamstown
Preparation requires two stages, three weeks apart.
Although stage two of this recipe is made with goose, duck can be substituted.
STAGE 1: DUCK BREAST PROSCIUTTO
2 duck breasts, skin and excess fat removed and reserved
3 ounces kosher salt
1 bay leaf, crushed
3 tablespoons pickling spice
1 tablespoon sugar
Mix all ingredients together and rub VERY generously over the duck breasts. Wrap in cheesecloth and put in a pan large enough to fit a foil-wrapped brick on top of each breast. Place pan in refrigerator for three weeks, draining pan of liquids every 2–3 days.
The breasts will feel hard and well-pressed when properly cured.
Wipe breasts with warm damp cloth.
Wrap in new cheesecloth and refrigerate until ready to use.
Render skin and fat:
Cut reserved skin and fat into medium-sized pieces and put into a small, heavy-bottomed pot. Add ¼ cup water and simmer over medium heat until water evaporates and skin pieces are crisp and have released all their fat, about ½ hour. Store released fat in refrigerator for later use, in Stage Two.
1 whole small goose, available fresh from Climbing Tree Farm from March to October.… Read the rest
Courtesy of Cricket Creek Farm, Williamstown CricketCreekFarm.com
4 pounds red potatoes, sliced thinly in circles
2 cups Cricket Creek Farm Tobasi*, diced
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
½ teaspoon salt (to taste)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Scrub and thinly slice the potatoes. Set them aside in a bath of cold water.
Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut the Tobasi into small cubes and set aside.
Combine the milk and butter in a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom. Slowly heat over a mediumlow flame, stirring frequently, until the butter melts. Be careful not to scald the milk by allowing it to boil.
Add the Tobasi cubes to the sauce about ½ cup at a time, stirring frequently, until all the cheese has melted. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. If the cheese sauce seizes up, just reduce the heat and add a little more milk while stirring.
Drizzle a little olive oil on the bottom of a 9- by 12-inch casserole dish.
Arrange the thinly sliced potatoes in 1 layer, overlapping the edges like shingles. Pour a small amount of the cheese sauce over the first potato layer and repeat until you’ve made as many layers as possible and still have about a scant cup of sauce to drizzle over the top.… Read the rest
By William Merelle, owner and executive chef,
ROUGE RESTAURANT AND BISTRO
Chef William Merelle from the Pyrenees and his wife, Maggie, are the owners of Rouge Restaurant and Bistro in West Stockbridge. They’ve created a welcoming spot for locals and tourists, with a menu featuring appetizers of escargots or mussels and entrees of free-range duck or baby back ribs. Once in a while, brisket is offered as a special.
2 ounces grapeseed oil
1 (10-pound) brisket
2 Spanish onions, peeled and washed
8 medium carrots, peeled and washed
1 cup peeled garlic cloves
4 cups veal stock (or chicken stock with dry veal stock added)
8 cups water
Salt and pepper, for seasoning
Preheat oven to 350°.
Season brisket heavily on both sides with salt and pepper.
In a large roasting pan, preheat grapeseed oil and sauté the brisket on both sides until golden.
Remove brisket from the roasting pan and set aside.
Dice the onion and carrots into 1-inch pieces. Add the vegetables and garlic to the roasting pan and cook until browned.
Add the veal stock and the water, and place the brisket back into the roasting pan.
Cover and bring it to a boil (use heavy foil if no cover is available).… Read the rest
By Terry Moore, Owner and Chef,
OLD MILL RESTAURANT
Terry Moore’s Old Mill in South Egremont has attracted locals and tourists for decades. The restaurant feels like the 1800s and its menu ranges from steaks and chops to shrimp curry and rainbow trout. Terry often lists his chicken liver mousse on the menu of first courses. It’s a classic, comforting appetizer especially popular during the holiday season. P
2½ sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 pound chicken livers, rinsed and drained
1 large egg, beaten
Salt and white pepper
1 ounce brandy
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
Pinch of nutmeg and ground clove
Preheat oven to 300° and place roasting pan with 1 inch of water on rack (water bath).
Chill 6 (4-ounce) ramekins and then brush liberally with melted butter.
Put chicken livers in blender and add the egg, salt, pepper, spices and brandy.
Blend until very smooth and then add remaining melted butter.
Pour equally into ramekins and place in water bath; bake about 30 minutes (top of mousse should be firm to the touch).
Allow to cool in water bath and then transfer ramekins to refrigerator.
To serve, run paring knife around perimeter of ramekins and invert onto plate.… Read the rest