Entertaining loved ones from far away is one of the hallmarks of the holiday season for many of us. I have such great pride in our tiny northern state, with her beautiful landscapes: challenging and breathtaking in the hardest of winters, and yet lush and indulgent in the summers. I love to show off a little, when guests come visiting, we dine out at favorite restaurants and visit farming friends and take drives and walks in the mountains to look at the land. When we do these excursions for friends, I am also renewed in my pride of place and thankful that we are able to live here.
I picked up a copy of Dishing Up Vermont by Tracey Medeiros last year and was immediately drawn to the premise of this book, a collection of recipes and short articles from and about some of the food producers and restaurants that regularly honor us with their talents. I was hopeful that the book would represent Vermont as I see it, celebrating the differences between refinement and homespun.
Vermont Fresh Network, an organization that helps to broker and strengthen the relationships between farmer and chef, is the fitting beneficiary of some of the sales of this book, and as a big fan (and member) of the VFN, I was looking forward to trying the recipes in this book with great enthusiasm.
I have to acknowledge that creating this book must have been a complicated process for the author as the recipes come from all over the state and represent so many different sources, some are simple farmhouse recipes, and some more complicated restaurant dishes. The old saying that “too many cooks spoil the soup” does not always ring true.
Some of the recipes I tested and loved included some great brunch dishes, the Awesome Apple Pancake (which was indeed awesome), Blueberry-stuffed French Toast, Crowley Eggs au Gratin, and the Mini Frittatas with Zucchini, Goat Cheese and Tomatoes. On these darker winter mornings, each of them filled us up with warmth and goodness.
I also enjoyed the soups and stews I tested, including the Creamy Braising Greens Soup (which I believe was recently reprinted in the Burlington Free Press), Hope Farm’s Corn and Cheese Chowder, Hungarian Goulash and Venison Stew.
To us, above all, the best recipe in the book we tried was the Black Trumpets and Sweet Corn in Tarragon Cream Sauce, it embodied everything I love at this time of the year, salty, creamy, sweet, earthy and warm. A close second for the favorite spot would have to be the Flip-over Apple Cake, nutty and soft at the same time.
We also tested the Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, which interestingly, omitting the frosting, is only a hop, skip and jump from vegan. Its presence in the same book bears a marked contrast to such great game recipes such as the Tortellini alla Farmstead Bolognese, which contains venison and ground beef in a rich tomato sauce. I suppose, about this book, one could say, “Only in Vermont”.