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Fresh Chai Hot or Iced

Fresh Chai Hot or Iced

After a winter that seemed like it would never end, we have finally made it to the hot and humid days of mid-summer. Somewhat ironically, these days I find myself coming back to the same drink that got me through that long cold winter – fresh brewed chai tea.

The phrase “chai tea” is actually redundant. Our word chai comes from the Hindi word for tea, and it turns out that most people across South Asia and the Middle East, and even most of China, use some variant of cha or chai for the word tea (the Hindi word chai comes from the Chinese “cha” (茶); however, in some southern Chinese dialects the same word is pronounced “teh,” which is how we got the English word “tea” instead).

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Truffled Pommes Anna

The first truffles of the season passed through my hands just days ago, and I could not resist. These redolent fungi captivate me and I needed my own magnificent mushroom to play with!

Weekends in Alba, Italy are abuzz this autumn with celebration of what has been reported as the best white truffle harvest of the 21st century. The climate was perfect – neither too hot, nor too cold – and the soil provided an impeccable environment for growth, with just the right amount of moisture. (more…)

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Apple Caramel Pawlet Cheese Pie

The heat of summer is finally over! While that does mean the end of berries, lemonade and cobblers, the season of pumpkins, mulled cider and, of course, apple pie is now in full swing. To celebrate the season, I wanted to bake a non-traditional apple pie using only New England products (and, sneaking in one sweet addition from Brooklyn). The end result was an apple pie with a caramel lavender sauce and cheese crust. And to drink? Mystic Brewery’s Mystic Descendant, a dry stout just bitter enough to offset the sweetness of the pie, with notes of caramel and toffee to complement. (more…)

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Cocchi VermouthIn my house, no gathering with friends and food is complete without vermouth. On hot summer days, I love an Americano on ice to cool off and prepare my palate for cooking and eating. On chilly winter evenings at the end of a long meal, I love a darker style vermouth to settle a full stomach. Even as a wine lover, vermouths are some of my favorite drinks. Their complex, layered herbaceousness have just the right balance of bitter and sweet. Today, I wanted to talk about two of my favorite Italian vermouths: a classic dark vermouth from the House of Cocchi, one of the original Torino vermouth makers; and the other, a limited production white vermouth from chemist-turned-vermouth producer Mauro Vergano. (more…)

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Clams on the Grill with Chris Schlesinger

We are devotees of legendary grillmaster and renowned chef, Chris Schlesinger. We were fortunate to have Chris as a guest in our classroom in July and he has kindly given us permission to share a couple of his wonderful recipes – the first was for “Grilled Mussels with Mango Curry Sauce.” Sticking with the crustaceans, this recipe features another local delicacy: littleneck clams. (more…)

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Chris Schlesinger's Grilled Mussels with Mango Curry Sauce

In July, we were very lucky to welcome Chef Chris Schlesinger to our classroom not once, but twice! First up, he taught an amazing “Seafood Grilling” class and was behind the grill a second time for “Grilling 101.” Chef Schlesinger, of East Coast Grill fame, is co-author – along with John “Doc” Willoughby – of several grilling classics and is Valerie’s annual challenger in The Great Westport Paella Tournament. This year (the fifth that the tourney has been in existence), Valerie let Chris win for the first time ever (sorry, Chef!). Friendly rivalry aside, we are big fans of Chris’ food – he works the grill with hard-won experience and a natural intuition. The below recipe appears in Chris and John’s book, Grill It! and was one Chris used in his “Seafood Grilling” class – he kindly gave us permission to share this glorious recipe as we savor the last days of summer! (more…)

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Blueberry Pancake Ice Cream - Key Ingredients

We are in the throes of summer and our produce tables are teeming with blueberries! We have both local, cultivated berries and the wild Maine variety. I love blueberries. The tiny fruits burst with memories of childhood summers spent foraging for the sweet berries to bake muffins and pies.

There are so many ways to be creative with blueberries. One of my favorite treats as a child was a blueberry pancake breakfast. Of course, often during the summer there is less desire for a large breakfast. We spend our summer days soaking in as much outdoor air as possible, then relax with dinner and dessert. And, what makes a better summer dessert than ice cream? (more…)

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