Yes we do! Great tasting local milk from a farm in Salem N.Y. The McEachron family has been farming for over 100 years, the old-fashioned way. They grow their own feed for their cows, recycle the manure for fertilizer, do not use growth hormones or antibiotics. Taste the difference, rich clean milk. The reduced fat milk is so good it tastes like whole. The milk is only sold in a 275 mile radius from where it is made and it goes from cow to bottle in under 8 hours! This is the milk we use for our cooking, coffee, and for sale in our store. I was won over from the first sip, and I was also won over by the price, very affordable for such a premium product. What could be more satisfying than supporting your local farmers and getting a great tasting product? Come pick some up today.
Fabulous desserts are a hit all year round, especially here at Blue Mountain Bistro-to-Go! We are so proud of our fabulous baker, Melinda Champagne for her heroic efforts in putting out desserts of the highest quality! Enjoy these images from the sweetest year on record! (and thanks to Roy Gumpel for the first two images).
Our friends at Gill Farms in Hurley, New York keep surprising us with beautiful, tasty, healthy vegetables. Life is too short to only eat broccoli! So come on in and try some of the wonderful vegetables we have been preparing. Expand your mind and your palate!
Today’s delivery included multicolored mini-eggplants and gorgeous okra. There is definitely much more to do with okra than making gumbo, (which we love) so to highlight these fascinating vegetables I made an Indian inspired dish, called a “bhadji”, delicately seasoned with ginger, tamarind and chili for today’s plat du jour.
The fresh cranberry beans we cooked yesterday are another late summer treat, truly amazing! I folded these into a clove, cardamon scented rice, sort of like an Indian version of the Cajan “dirty rice”.
To finish the dish we’ve paired a nice cool cucumber yogurt raita, with cucumbers from Gill Farms, of course, and some fresh herbs from our garden out back. We're loving the bounty of the harvest in August, come share it with us!
Butternut Squash Bread Pudding
Bread pudding has been a staple in our dessert case since we opened Bistro-to-Go three plus years ago. The sweet version made with chocolate croissants and bananas has been the most popular. Bread puddings are incredibly satisfying to make; it’s something about the process of transforming humble day old bread or croissants into something really special that I love. I never tire of making them!
For sometime now I've been contemplating a savory bread pudding recipe. I’ve wanted to create a dish that would work not only here in our store but also for our catering menus - something for late summer and fall would be the best. A couple of weeks ago I made a butternut squash soup with caramelized onions, sage and Parmesan cheese and as I was making it I said to myself, “this is it - this would make a great bread pudding”.
Start by peeling several butternut squash, then remove the seeds and cut into 3/4” cubes. Season with salt, pepper, chopped fresh sage and enough olive oil to coat. Put the squash cubes onto a cookie sheet and roast in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until tender. While the squash is cooking, caramelize several finely sliced Spanish onions with fresh sage until soft, sweet and deep brown and set aside. The next step is making the custard and soaking the bread. Place whole slices of bread in a buttered baking dish, then soak the bread with plain milk and cover lightly with grated Parmesan. If you have an old baguette (we freeze them when they’re day old and save them just for this purpose) cube it as if you were making croutons and put in a mixing bowl.
Then in a separate bowl whisk together 4 whole eggs, two egg yolks, 1/2 cup ricotta and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan with a pinch of salt, pepper, nutmeg, and several cloves of roasted garlic for each quart of milk you are using. Pour this mixture over the cubed bread and let stand for at least 30 minutes. Now it’s time to assemble the dish. Spread the caramelized onions on the bread layer in the baking dish, then add the roasted squash.
Finish by pouring the soaked bread custard mix over everything. Adjustments in quantities of each element may need to be made to suit your size baking dish. The most important thing is that the bread is well soaked (wet) - a bit soupy even - otherwise your bread pudding will be dry. This “recipe” is the kind I like best - one that give you the reader a chance to have fun and experiment! Consider adding some apples or pumpkin puree in the fall, or a different kind of cheese like Fontina..... you get the idea. Have fun and enjoy eating the cloud!
The compressor on our “soup freezer” went belly up yesterday, but it's all better now thanks to refrigeration genius Charlie Groeter who swooped in to the rescue! Thank you Charlie! In the process of pulling all the soups out we took stock of what we had and now we know why our savviest customers walk in and head straight for the freezer. We’ve got a pretty impressive collection to suit most anyone's taste.
All our soups are made in house with fresh stocks, herbs, vegetables and lots of love. It may sound trite but as any true cook will tell you, there is nothing more satisfying than making a delicious soup. (Pictured above is the ever-popular Curried Mussel Soup.) We make two fresh soups each day for our customers to enjoy and freeze the rest. Many are vegetarian, some are vegan, all are fresh, clean and delicious.
The mix is constantly changing, of course, but to give you an idea of what's most popular, here's a partial list:
- Chicken Soup, always the best seller, they don’t call it Jewish penicillin for nothin’
- Butternut Squash and Apple, made with local cider and Granny Smith apples
- Carrot Ginger, smooth with lots of fresh ginger and yogurt
- Italian Minestrone, rich with beans, tomato and packed with vegetables
- Minestrone Verde, a green vegetarian version of the classic
- Potato Leek, sometimes vegetarian, sometimes classic with chicken stock
- Harira, spicy with lamb, barley, lentils with lemon, traditional to break the fast of Ramadan
- New England Clam Chowder, we steam fresh chowder clams ourselves!
- Vegetable Beef, packed with vegetables and beef in a rich beefy broth
- Curried Mussel, one of the most requested, check our specials menu for dates
- Chili con Carne, stew meat and ground meat with multiple layers of flavor
- Turkey Black Bean Chili, a popular lighter version of chili con carne
- Split Pea and Ham, simmered with smoked pork shanks
We take requests and are always happy to be reminded of something we haven’t made in a while. We also make marinara, putanesca, bolognese and vodka sauces along with traditional and vegetarian lasagnas. Occasionally, you will find chicken pot pies or our chicken burgers with feta and olives in the freezer as well. Stop in, check it out, a couple of quarts of soup or sauce can be a real lifesaver if you get snowed in!
New Year's musings from Chef Richard Erickson
I have been wanting to eat porchetta ever since I first heard that Sara Jenkins (daughter of the famous cookbook author, Nancy Harmon Jenkins) opened a place in the East Village by the same name. In Central Italy a whole pig is roasted and then sold from a cart, (street food - this has to be the epitome of "slow cooked fast food"). A pork loin covered with garlic, fennel and rosemary wrapped in a pork belly and slow roasted for hours is how they do it. "Amazing", I thought. "The loin is continually basted as the
Well, with the end of the year drawing quickly to a close we still hadn't done it. Summer catering ran into Thanksgiving ran into Hanukkah ran into ..... you get the picture. Well, I'm sure the kitchen staff thought I was nuts but sure enough, right in the middle of Christmas and New Years preparations came a whole pork belly from Hudson Valley Meat Co. We opened it up, scored the skin in a diamond pattern, seasoned it with plenty of chopped garlic, salt and savory herbs. After sitting for several days we wrapped it around one of our Berkshire pork loins tied it up and set it to slow roast for almost seven
Crispy skin, fatty belly, and lean loin all heaped on a semolina baguette make a killer sandwich. We'll also be serving it as a plate with garlicky greens and cannellini beans. Stop in today and have some, the parking is easier and the price much cheaper than on E. 7th Street!
Risotto Cakes with Italian Fontina and Black Truffles
Richard Erickson, chef Bistro-to-Go, Kingston, New York
The inspirations for this recipe are the savory rice balls of Sicily known as arancine, or “little oranges”, due to their golden crust. Traditionally they are filled with meat or cheese and eaten as snacks in bars and cafes. Our version omits the filling and we serve the cakes as an appetizer or on top of an array of roasted, steamed, and grilled seasonal vegetables.
This version is especially festive for holiday entertaining - we’re making the small ones for our New Year’s Eve party.
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup each finely diced onion, celery and carrot
2 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 1/4 cup arborio rice
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup grated Fontina
1 cup grated Caciotta al Tartufo (black truffle cheese)
1 cup fine dried bread crumbs Vegetable or light olive oil for frying
1. Heat the stock. In a separate sauce pan heat the olive oil and butter, add the finely diced vegetables and cook over moderate heat until the onions are transluscent.
2. Add the rice, salt and pepper. Stir to coat completely, then begin ladling in the warm stock. Add 1/2 cup at a time stirring and making sure the liquid has been absorbed before adding more. Rice varies so you may need more or less liquid. Unlike a traditional risotto, cook until the rice is soft and
creamy all the way through, about 25-30 minutes.
3. Put the cooked rice into a mixing bowl, add the cheese and the egg, mix well and chill.
4. Depending on whether you will be making an appetizer or an entree, you will choose a scoop that will give you either a small (2-3 bite morsel) or a dinner size portion. Form into a patty, roll in the bread crumbs and assemble on a cookie sheet, which can be kept refrigerated until ready to cook.
5. Heat oil in frying pan and cook on each side until golden brown. This can be done ahead and then reheated in the oven on a cookie sheet, which makes a very party friendly appetizer!
We loved making the traditional potato latkes during Hannukah and people gobbled them up - but we've noticed more and more folks requesting gluten free foods, so Richard invented a delicious vegetable quinoa latke that was a real crowd pleaser!
Here's what he has to say: "The quinoa latkes have been such a hit this past week I thought they deserved a mention. I absolutely love the taste of quinoa and have been making tabouli with it all summer long. However, tabouli is a warm weather dish and I've been brainstorming about some type of gluten-free savory patty or cake and suddenly last week when we were making potato latkes it all happened in a flash. Quinoa latkes!!
Quinoa cooks very quickly, 2 cups quinoa to 4 cups salted water. Combine the cooked quinoa with a finely minced onion, scallion, parsley, 1 grated carrot and 2 medium grated zucchini (which are salted first, then squeezed dry). Soy flour works well as a binder or you can also use mashed potato flakes. Regular flour would be our normal binder but then it obviously would not be gluten-free. I used a little over half a cup for this quantity. Mix everything together with 4 beaten eggs, season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
We use an ice cream scoop to portion out the proper amount for each latke and then shape into patties. The raw latke should hold together fairly well and it will tighten up a bit once you begin to fry it. If they do not hold together or seem too wet add more flour, too dry, add another egg. We always test one first to see if the seasoning is correct before making the whole batch.
Don't be discouraged if they don't hold together at first, the ratio of vegetable, quinoa, flour, and egg just needs to be adjusted. If you're experienced in making regular potato latkes, the cooking technique is very similar once you begin to fry them - you want a nice golden brown color and do a test to make sure it's cooked all the way through. The nice nutty flavor of quinoa is delicious combined with the vegetables and fried. These "latkes" are great with sour cream or just as an accompaniment to a luncheon or dinner dish."
We've recently been invited to contribute some recipes for cooking endive to California Endive's website (http://www.endive.com). What an honor, as they're the primary grower of endive in the USA. We recently posted this picture on our Facebook fan page, but today our outstanding chef, Jonathan Sheridan, gave me his recipe for this delicious dish:
Braised Endive, seared with lemon tarragon vinaigrette
Chef Jonathan Sheridan, Bistro-to-Go, Kingston, New York
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp sugar
pinch salt and pepper
Cooking the Endive
Trim the outer leaves and the end of the stem of the endive. Cut in half and put into a stainless steel pot with water (just enough to cover). Add the rest of the ingredients and gently stir together.
Take a clean kitchen towel and place on top of the water, then place a clean plate on top of the towel, (which will be used to keep the endive submerged while it’s cooking). Cook the endive over a low flame, barely simmering, for 20 minutes. Test with a knife for doneness - if the knife offers no resistance, they’re perfectly cooked.
With a pair of tongs, gently remove the endive and put on a rack to drain with the open side down so all the water can drain out. Take a heavy bottom saute pan and turn the heat up all the way, add 1/4 tsp olive oil and quickly place the endive, cut side down in the pan and sear for 3 minutes to allow them to caramelize. Remove from the pan and put on a platter to be served.
Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp agave syrup
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon peeled, seeded and diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon
Mix all ingredients together and spoon over endive. Dust with some crushed pink peppercorns.
They're baaacckkk! There's no meal more perfect for a night you just don't want to cook than one of Bistro-to-Go's homemade chicken pot pies! We use Murray's free range chicken, leeks, onion, carrots, turnips, parsnips and fresh thyme in a luscious creamy sauce (rich with homemade chicken broth) - and they fly out the door! So they just came out of the oven - stop in and pick one up on your way home, then pop it in the toaster oven for a quick reheat, put on your jammies and enjoy!
This weekend we're creating an antipasti table for a large wedding and wanted to utilize some of the fresh, local vegetables that are available and delicious right now. After taking a look at these colorful and freshly picked peppers, there was no doubt that we had to include pepperonata in the mix! If you don't have all these amazing colors to choose from, it works just as nicely with solid red or yellow bell peppers - always best if you can purchase them from your local farm stand this time of year.
Start by cutting the peppers in half, remove the seeds and stems, lay them skin side up on a baking sheet with a little bit of water and roast in the oven at 350 degrees until you see the skins have become crinkly (approximately 20-30 minutes). We prefer to roast them in the oven instead of over a grill because the flavor stays clean and fresh - no charred taste - more of the pure taste of the peppers. Next put them in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a sheet pan and let them steam. When cool enough to handle, peel the skins off. Cut the peppers into strips and set aside. Thinly slice red onion, garlic and cook slowly in olive oil. When the onions are transluscent add the peppers, a few capers, green olives, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat, add a splash of red wine vinegar and a few basil leaves, check the seasoning, let cool and serve. Pepperonata makes a delicious antipasti: serve with a sliced baguette or toasty bruschettas. It also makes a wonderful topping for grilled chicken or fish. Mangia!
Summer produce is at its peak right now and this colorful, delicately delicious, and healthful "green" - rainbow chard is one of the best. I've grown it myself and never tire of the sweet tender flavors of chard simply prepared by steaming it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Today we got a delivery from our neighbors at Gill Farms and I was struck by the beauty of the colors of the stems sitting on the counter as I walked through the kitchen.
The preparation is so simple.
Start by cutting the stems where they meet the leaves and then into 3" pieces. Wash thoroughly and set to drain. Cut the leafy parts horizontally across the stem portion into 2" strips and soak for a few minutes in water and then drain.
In a large pot, heat some olive oil and add chopped or sliced garlic. (Don't let the oil get too hot, as the garlic will cook very quickly and you don't want to let it burn.) While the garlic is cooking add the stems (still wet from draining) with a little salt and pepper, cover and let steam until almost tender.
Now take big handfuls of the chard leaves, stir with tongs fully coating the leaves with the garlic oil and cooked stems. Turn the heat down low and cover letting everything cook until done. Check seasoning for salt and pepper, platter and serve. Chard is delicious warm or at room temperature. In Sicily and Catalonia golden raisins and pine nuts are sometimes added and are a wonderful somewhat unexpected addition.
To our amazement the folks at Gill Farms have done it again - miracle of miracles! They have corn on the cob ready to eat the first week in July and the tomatoes are just coming in too - little cherry tomatoes right now, but in my book that's still miraculous! Granted, the weather this year has been wonderful for our local farmers - it's so nice when they get some breaks. We've had lots of sun, warm weather and sufficient rain (until just recently) to provide an excellent growing season. We so loved that first bite of butter and sugar corn at our 4th of July BBQ - it was deeelicious.
None of us are tired yet of just eating it straight from the cob, but soon enough we'll be looking for other ways to enjoy eating fresh corn. Here's a recipe that makes a wonderful dish to take to a neighborhood pot luck or serve at home to your family and friends.
Black Bean & Corn Salad
Chef Richard Erickson, Bistro-to-Go
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar or fresh lime juice
2 T minced garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 T chili powder
1/2 cup olive oil
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups fresh corn, from about 10 ears
1 lg red pepper, finely chopped
1 lg red onion, finely diced
1 small bunch scallion, chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together vinegar or lime juice, garlic, cumin, and chili powder. Add the oil in a slow stream, whisking, until combined well. Set aside
Combine the beans, corn, pepper, onion, scallion and cilantro in a large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Adjust seasoning and serve. This is a great recipe for leftover corn on the cob. It keeps well and is a much appreciated and colorful addition to any picnic or barbeque. It can be served on a bed of lettuce, Boston or Bibb work great, and garnished with avocado to dress it up and serve as a first course. The quantities are not terribly important, it can be a bean salad with corn or a corn salad with beans. Tomatoes are a welcome addition and even a jar of salsa can be added in a pinch.
We're into the joy of the growing season now as we begin to expect new arrivals each week from one of our favorite local farmers John from Gill Farms. A few days ago he showed up with an enormous bag of freshly picked spinach. It's so great to see the beginnings of what is in store for us in the coming months.
The first thing we do with the spinach is cut off the tip of the stem and discard. Then we separate the stems from the upper leaf, putting all the leaves into a sink full of water. Let them soak for a bit, gently swishing them around to dislodge any bits of sand that may still be clinging to the leaves. To be safe, we usually drain in a collander and then wash them one more time in clean water. Then spin dry.
As I was cleaning the spinach I remembered a dish we used to do years ago with the stems: a gratin! There's nothing more satisfying to a chef then making use of all of a plant or any food item. "Nose to tail eating" as Fergus Henderson says. In a professional kitchen, or any kitchen for that matter, nothing should go to waste!
Spinach Stem Gratin
We start with a basic bechamel sauce: 1 cup flour, 1 cup butter, and two quarts of milk flavored with a bay leaf and freshly grated nutmeg (a great base).
Next, we grate a mixture of cheeses: cheddar, gruyere or fontina work the best, ricotta is good also, stay away from mozzarella as it gets stringy. Mix a couple of eggs into the sauce, a couple cups of grated cheese, a bit of Parmesan never hurts, and pour into a gratin dish with the seasoned blanched stems. I like to add a bit of the cooked spinach leaves (chopped) as well for color. Now top with bread crumbs tossed with a bit of garlic, butter and parsley.
Bake until set, about 30 to 45 minutes at 350 depending on the size of your gratin dish. This is a delicious side for a summer meal, or would make a fabulous vegetarian entree. Enjoy!
One of the coolest things about being married to a chef and owning a food business is there's always something amazing going on in the kitchen. The other day as I strolled through, our awesome chefs were preparing this fabulous eggplant dish - it was something entirely new to me and was visually stunning! I decided to take pictures at each stage of the dish's evolution, to share with you.
How fun today when one of our customers (the extremely lovely librarian Kara) ordered it exactly the way it should be served: with some sliced mozzarella and a side starch (here our whole grain pilaf, but it would also be great with pasta.)
Making the fans is extremely easy. Choose a medium to large eggplant, rinse and dry. Slice the fan layers about 1/2" thick ending the cuts close to the base. Oil the bottom of a baking dish inserting the eggplants. Slice tomatoes into 1/4" pieces and toss in some finely diced garlic. Then layer the tomato between the "fans" of the eggplant. Drizzle olive oil over the everything and sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place in a preheated 300 degree oven for about one hour. Test with a knife to make sure they're completely cooked.
This dish makes a great vegetarian entree or an unusual side for a summer barbeque. We served it on a bed of fresh greens and drizzled a balsamic glaze over the eggplant as a flavor accent. Delish!
The change of seasons always brings the excitement of new seasonal menu items and here at Bistro-to-Go we've started making Quinoa Tabouli again - much to the delight of our customers. Traditionally tabouli (or "tabbouleh") comes from the Middle East and Mediterranean regions and is made with bulgar wheat, parsley, scallions, mint, tomato, onion, lemon juice and olive oil. We chose to make ours with quinoa for a number of reasons, the first being that it's delicious, light and very nutritious.
Quinoa originated and is primarily grown in the Andes and has a very high protein content (12%–18%), making it a healthy choice for vegetarians. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids making it an unusually complete protein source. Another big reason we've adopted and love quinoa is that it's gluten free and a perfect fit for the clean and healthy foods we offer. All of this would mean nothing if it didn't taste good! I usually side with tradition and history but in this case I truly think that quinoa tastes better and makes a better version of tabouli than the original made with wheat. Try some and judge for yourself. Just remember, true tabouli is bright green with lots and lots of parsley, mint and scallions.
What was the inspiration for this dish today? Well, we usually use chicken legs for chicken cacciatore or pot pies and thought this would be a great change. Despite the strange cold snap we're having right now, we wanted to do a lighter and more seasonal preparation, eh voila! Hoisin charred chicken legs!
Hoisin "barbeque" sauce (ala Chef Jonathan Sheridan) is easy to make, providing you've done a little shopping in advance for the ingredients. Start by taking equal parts hoisin sauce (most markets have this in their Asian food section) and ketchup and mix together in a bowl. Then in a sauce pan, take equal parts soy sauce and sugar, several whole star anise, a sprinkling of Sechzwan style peppercorns and crushed chile flakes, and minced garlic and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Let cool and strain into the hoisin ketchup mix. Add a squirt of sesame oil to the mix and toss the raw chicken legs until they're completely coated with the sauce. Lay the pieces out on a pan and cook in a 300 degree oven for 20 minutes, then raise the temperature to 400 for 20 minutes. This brings out the flavor of the bbq sauce and gives them that stunning charred look.
We've made an Asian version of cole slaw with rice wine vinegar and cilantro to go with the chicken, which provides a nice contrast to the spicy sauce. Serve with steamed rice or roasted sweet potatoes and you've created a dinner your fans will rave about!
Paella is our Thursday “plat du jour” and always fun to cook. Paella is essentially a rice dish originating in the provinces near the rice growing regions of Valencia. Originally made with snails, rabbit and chicken, it almost always includes seafood today. There are as many variations of paella as there are villages in Spain so to give a master recipe is useless. All would agree however that it is first and foremost a rice dish not a seafood dish.
Valencia is a famous rice growing region and the short grained rice they raise is similar to the more commonly available arborio rice from Italy. The elaborate Paella Valenciana that one sees in restaurants all over the world probably started in neighboring Catalonia, Valencia's sophisticated neighbor. One of the things that makes it fun (from a kitchen's point of view) is the stock used to cook the rice.
Every cook loves to make stock!! We start with a rich chicken stock made with the bones of the Murray’s chickens we clean each day. We follow with the shells from peeled shrimp and even snapper or cod bones and heads depending on the week. The point is we devote most of our attention to a rich stock full of the flavors that will appear later in the finished dish.
The rest of the dish is relatively easy to prepare as the other ingredients garnish the flavorful short grain rice that has absorbed all of the flavors.
Here is a recipe for an easy and familiar paella with chicken, chorizo or ham and shrimp. Add mussels or clams for variety and a colorful presentation.
1 lg chicken cut into small serving pieces olive oil
5 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 lb shrimp or prawns
1 Spanish onion, diced
1 lg tomato, diced or 1 cup canned diced
1 Spanish style chorizo, or 1/4 ham
1 tablspoon sweet paprika
1 pinch saffron
1 1/3 lb short grain rice
1/2 pound green peas, green beans, or butter beans, cooked and drained
1. In a wide flat bottomed pan, saute the chicken pieces in a small amount of oil until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
2. Heat the stock.
3. Slowly begin cooking the onion with the saffron, chorizo and paprika stirring well.
4. Check the stock and season with salt and pepper. Now add the seafood, beans or peas, the rice and the warm stock checking the liquid for salt and pepper.
5. Simmer uncovered until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 20-25 minutes. A crust on the bottom is considered by many to be not only desirable but highly sought after.
When the paella is finished carefully arrange the seafood on top, sprinkle with some chopped parsley and then serve.
Chicken Marsala is a good example of one of those dishes that have gotten a bad rap from being mass produced in industrial kitchens. When prepared carefully what could be tastier than a tender chicken scallopini topped with sauteed mushrooms and Marsala wine? I take personal pleasure in resurrecting "old school under appreciated dishes" and bringing them back to life for others to enjoy. Cooking in a busy kitchen such as ours, allows us to do numerous things which, while not impossible for the home cook, can often be cumbersome and time consuming.
Following is an outline of how we do this dish and a few of our techniques. I was tempted to use the work "tricks", but there are no real "tricks" in a good kitchen, just good solid cooking techniques built up over years working with and thinking about food and flavors.
We start with boneless chicken breasts which we slice and then gently pound out to tender pieces, about 5-6 oz each. Seasoned with our house mix of kosher salt, sea salt, and freshly ground white pepper we then dredge them lightly in flour and saute until golden and set aside.
Next we saute the mushrooms, (a mix of cremini, shitake and oyster) with minced shallots and fresh thyme. We then deglaze with a good Italian dry Marsala wine and let that reduce a bit before adding chicken stock. (Sauce stocks are dark, meaning we roast the bones and vegetables before simmering them giving a rich full flavor perfect for dishes like this, as opposed to light stocks made for soups.)
We then return the sauteed chicken pieces briefly to the sauce where the flavors can mingle, finish cooking the chicken, and the bits of browned flour on the chicken help to thicken and enrich the sauce.
Leaving the sauce simmering on the stove top we then platter the chicken and add a bit of lemon juice to the sauce (to counteract the sweetness of the wine and add depth and complexity). Finally we finish by swirling in a bit of porcini butter which we make in bulk and freeze, adding smoothness and shine to the sauce along with the exotic aroma of the porcinis.
Chicken Marsala has consistently been our best selling plat du jour and a we think deserving of the title we have on our catering menus, "the best you've ever had"!
Even if you're not Irish, you're probably up for either a corned beef sandwich today or one of our corned beef and cabbage dinner specials which will include the ever popular colcannon. But here's the big question - have you ever tried it?
Colcannon (or "colchannon") is extremely popular in Ireland and is much the same today as it's been for centuries. It was traditionally eaten in at Halloween as until recently this was a fast day when you weren't allowed to eat meat. The name derives from cal ceann fhionn -- white-headed cabbage.
Here at Bistro-to-Go we cook up Potato Bob's carola potatoes and mash them as we would to serve every day. Take a bunch of leeks, chop them fine and soak in water to clean out the sand. Drain, then sweat them in a pan on top of the stove, sauteing with some butter, salt and pepper till soft. Chop the kale and savoy cabbage (the queen of all cabbage) into horizontal strips about 1" wide and put into a deep pot with about 1" of water in the bottom. Steam until they're tender and drain off the excess water. Toss in some olive oil, salt and pepper and stir into the potatoes along with the leeks. Check the seasoning and voila! Colcannon! May the luck of the Irish be yours today!
Blood oranges certainly brighten up the kitchen on a snowy winter day!! The deep red color of the flesh and juice is quite a shock if you've never seen it before. Sometimes the skin is blushed with the same color but not always. The flavor is delicious and the zest makes a very colorful ingredient in cooking (ask anyone who ordered our Roast Duck with Blood Orange Sauce for Valentine's Day)! They're great for juicing and make a tasty cocktail as well.
There is no better orange to use for this classic Italian salad.
Fennel and Orange Salad
1 lg bulb fennel 1 small red onion 2 lg oranges 2 T red wine vinegar 1/3 cup good olive oil 1 teaspoon minced garlic Chopped mint for garnish optional
1. Trim the top of the fennel, reserve some of the fronds, and peel the outside of the bulb of any tough stringy parts. 2. Slice the fennel and onion VERY thin. 3. Zest one of the oranges then peel both and slice. 4. Combine olive oil, vinegar and garlic with a pinch of salt in a bowl. Toss with the fennel, onion, orange and allow the flavors to blend. Serve as is or on a bed of arugula or watercress for a sensational salad dish.
One of our best-selling dishes here at Bistro-to-Go is Shrimp with Gigande Beans. It's the simple combination of the two main elements tossed together with some olive oil, garlic, dried chili pepper and chopped parsley that makes this dish a winner! And what actually makes it SO simple is that we use Divina gigande beans because they're cooked to perfection and canned.
In the old days at Blue Mountain Bistro, Richard used to soak dried beans overnight and cook them himself, but found that they didn't cook evenly. No matter how many beans seemed the perfect "done-ness" there were always a number in the batch that were too crunchy, thus dissatisfying. These Divina beans are perfect every time! It's no wonder they garnered the Sofi award from the National Association of Specialty Food Trade competition which honors truly outstanding food products.
Gigandes are plump, meaty white beans grown along the mountain slopes in Northern Greece. They're packed with protein and have been a staple of the Mediterranean diet for centuries. Divina's gigandes are marinated in a delightful vinaigrette with red and green pepper strips. They can be served as a savory, stand alone antipasto dish or as a special ingredient in salads. We sell a giant can (70 oz) of gigandes for $16.99! If you aren't planning a large dinner party to use the whole can, you can freeze whatever's left in sandwich baggies and pull them out as needed for a quick healthy snack, make your own "hummus", toss into a salad OR make this quick easy dish.
Shrimp with Gigande Beans
Chef Richard Erickson, Bistro-to-Go
1 pound shrimp, shelled
Sea salt to taste
1/2 cup good olive oil
4T chopped garlic
2-3 bay leaves
Dried red chili pepper
1. Season the shelled shrimp with sea salt and bring to room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients. This is usually done with small shrimp.
2. Choose a pan where the shrimp will fit comfortably (too small or too large a pan will affect the result.)
3. Heat the oil, add garlic, bay leaves and chili pepper stirring carefully over medium heat. At just the moment when the garlic begins to turn color add the shrimp, increase the heat and stir constantly until the shrimp are done, about 2-3 minutes. If cooked too long the flavor of the garlic will go from nutty and aromatic to bitter and acrid.
4. Toss in the gigande beans, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Serves 4 - 6 people as an appetizer with a baguette or 4 people served over angel hair pasta as an entree
Today's Plat du Jour is poached tilapia with a lemon-dill-cream sauce, steamed baby RSK Farms carola potatoes, and a broccoli cauliflower medley. We often use this delicious light farm-raised fish for our Friday plat as it adapts well to many different preparations. During the summer we battered and pan-fried it and served it with our homemade tartare sauce - a huge hit! We usually serve the most divine baby carola potatoes from our favorite local RSK Farm in Windham, New York. (Future blog post on Bob and his farm coming soon). He told me the other day that this is the end of the little baby potatoes! We'll have to wait for next season to enjoy their candy sweetness again. Very sad!
Wishing you all a wonderful President's / Valentine's weekend - no funky weather allowed!
Richard and Jonathan have whipped up a delicious batch of chunky beef and kidney bean chili today for all the revelers who want something substantial to feast on tomorrow along with their chicken wings!
Wikipedia defines : "Chili con carne (literally 'Chili with meat', often known simply as chili) is a spicy stew. The name 'chili con carne' is taken from Spanish, and means 'peppers with meat.' Traditional versions are made, minimally, from chili peppers, meat, garlic, onions, and cumin, along with chopped or ground beef. Beans and tomatoes are frequently included. Variations, both geographic and personal, may involve different types of meat as well as a variety of other ingredients. It can be found worldwide in local variations and also in certain American-style fast food restaurants. The variant recipes provoke disputes among afficionados, and the dish is used as an ingredient in a number of other foods.
Our version features beef chuck stew meat, ground beef, and kidney beans. The kicker is a cool product we sell in our store called La Morena Chilpotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce. This product is from Mexico and adds a mellow smokey chile taste to the dish. Garnish with cheddar cheese (and/or chopped tomato, cilantro, sweet onion, and sour cream), you'll blow your guests away with our chili.
Come on in today or tomorrow - $10.99 quart!
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