All posts by Brian Walker

Pan Seared Mushroom Mille Feuille

Pan Seared Mushroom Mille FeuilleToday I worked on creating a new vegetarian dish for our winter menu. Although I am not sure this is going to be a permanent menu item, it is definitely one I will be repeating.

One important aspect of vegetarian dining for me is a combination of different textures. I was inspired by German strudel pastry as I read through a holiday baking book, so I started with a box of phyllo dough.  I began brushing layers of of the dough with beaten egg and sprinkling fresh herb infused bread crumbs between the layers.  Then I baked the pastry layers until they were crispy.  This is why I used the term “mille feuille” which translates from French to “thousand leaves” to describe these delicious crispy layers.  For additional texture I chose shiitake and crimini mushrooms as well as some kale from my garden.  By slicing the mushrooms thick and searing them quickly in brown butter they retain a wonderful chewiness that satisfies the palate much like meat.  Finally, needed something to bind it all together.   For this I chose some  sweet organic parsnips that we purchased from BirdsFoot Farm.  Combined with just a dollop of goat cheese between each layer it adds the perfect creaminess to balance the crisp and chewy textures.

This is one of those vegetarian dishes that might just win over a few carnivores.   We look forward to seeing you soon!

Bon Appetite! Chef Brian

Pan Seared Mushroom Mille Feuille
Forest mushrooms, tender kale, sweet parsnip puree
& creamy goat cheese between layers of crisp
phyllo & herbs.

Pan Roasted Maine Lobster

Pan Roasted Lobster with rosemary cream, boiled potatoes and local organic brussel sproutsFor this weekend’s featured entree I have prepared a Pan Roasted Maine Lobster with rosemary cream, boiled potatoes, and local organic brussel sprouts.  It is a wonderfully comforting dish that is perfect for these cool autumn evenings.    This is one of the dishes that defines my cooking style; simple, elegant, Pan Roasted Lobster in the saute pandelicious.  I just love preparing one pan “a la minute” (cooked to order) dishes.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Bon Appetite!  Chef Brian

The Chef’s Garden at 1844 House

Bushel basket full of fresh fruits and vegetables from our chefs gardenAs our summer growing season evolves into our autumn harvest season, it is exciting to see the fruits of our labors.  We had a challenging summer with very hot and dry conditions, but we still managed to bring in a record crop; both in volume of food produced and variety.  It has been a very rewarding experience to really get into the dirt and grow some of the food we serve here at 1844 House.  I could not have done it without a lot of help from our GM, Barry Sears and our resident farmer/consultant Sue Rau.

This weekend we harvested some heirloom tomatoes, hot Hungarian wax peppers, habanero chili’s, Russian red kale, purple cabbage, fresh sage, apples, shiitake mushrooms, fresh raspberries, English lavender, and nasturtium flowers.  All of which will be served here this week.

We have already begun preparations for next years garden.  We have cut out the sod and prepped the soil to double our production in the 2017 growing season.  We are also putting the finishing touches on our outdoor dining  area that will allow our guests to dine out in the gardens next summer.  We look forward to hosting our Chef’s Table dinners in the garden or in our newly renovated barn next season.

Bon Appetite!  Chef Brian

Duck Confit

Duck Confit with potato gnocchiMy favorite time of year for cooking is finally here and we have just launched our new fall menu.  Over the next week or so, I will be sharing pictures and stories about our new menu items on our page.

The first dish I would like to introduce is my favorite dish on the fall menu that is a completely new addition; the Duck Confit.  Duck Confit has been one of my favorite ways to enjoy duck since I first encountered it as a student at The Culinary Institute of America.  I was very excited when a local farmer approached me about using his duck on our menu.  He raises ducks for egg production, so he was looking for an outlet for his male ducks.  He brought me a sample duck, and I decided to prepare the entire duck confit style.  It was delicious!  My kitchen staff and I enjoyed preparing it in many ways and enjoying it for lunch for several days.

House Made Duck ConfitFor those of you who do not know what “confit” is, here is a very simplified explanation.  This method is an old world style of preserving meat so it wont spoil as quickly.  The duck is butchered and rubbed with a cure/spice mixture and pressed for a couple of days.  This allows the salt to extract the moisture from the meat, while the meat absorbs the spice flavor.  Then the meat is rinsed to remove all the excess salt and spices and allowed to dry out on a rack in the cooler until a pellicle (dry skin) forms on the surface.  Then the meat is submerged in a bath of hot duck fat and slow cooked until the meat is tender and falls off the bone, similar to pulled pork.  The meat is cooled in the fat to allow it to reabsorb some of the fat and to prevent the air from getting to the meat.  The absence of water/moisture and air preserve the meat.

The final preparation came about kind of “on the fly” one afternoon as I was doing some early morning cooking.  My intention was to get some cooking done early, then hand off the kitchen to my Sous Chef and enjoy a weekend in Lake Placid with our GM, Barry as he celebrated his 40th birthday.  Unfortunately, my Sous Chef became ill, and I had to cancel my weekend.  I wanted to celebrate with Barry anyway, so I went into my kitchen and invented this dish.  We enjoyed it with some fresh baked baguette and a wonderful bottle of Super Tuscan wine.  It was a great lunch with a great friend.  Sometimes the best dishes just come out of nowhere.

Duck Confit
M&M Farm Duck Confit with Northwoods Farm mushrooms, brandy-peppercorn sauce and potato gnocchi.  Served in a “nest” of organic baby arugula that is dressed with truffle oil, Pecorino cheese and fresh ground pepper and topped with a poached duck egg.

Bon Appetite!  Chef Brian

Sour Dough Bread & Buttermilk Biscuits

Sour dough breadOne of the things that makes 1844 House unique to our community is our passion for freshness and preparing food from scratch.  Our talented team of committed young chefs work hard each day transforming fresh local ingredients into our award winning cuisine.

Many of our guests are surprised when they find that we make almost everything that we serve here in our kitchen.  From the croutons, dressings, stocks and sauces; to our fresh cut steaks from local meat and all of our desserts, sorbets & ice creams.  We simply love to cook, and it shows in the quality of our food.  This is what culinary passion looks like.

While we proudly offer organic country white bread from the local bakery in our bread baskets, we also love to complement it with our  own fresh baked breads.  In this case, it is a potato sour dough.  I love to bake different kinds of bread and experiment with sponges, starters and dough’s.

Buttermilk BiscuitsI also love biscuits!  It must be my southern heritage.  So when I get the craving, I will bake up a batch for myself and a maybe even a few for our guests.  In the picture to the left, the large one is for my staff and myself and the smaller ones were for the guests.  They were great smeared with my home made hot pepper jelly (with peppers from our Chefs’ garden) and cream cheese.

Any of these breads are a wonderful start to a great meal here at 1844 House; especially when you enjoy them with our signature flavored butters.  Just think, if we put this much passion into a product we don’t even charge for; how much passion goes into everything else.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

Bon Appetite!  Chef Brian

Seared Scallops

Seared Scallops with sweet corn, English pea, and fresh fennel risotto.To complement the amazing New England scallops we brought in for this evenings featured entree; Chef Arthur did not have to look much further than our own gardens and a farm just around the corner….

 

Seared Scallops
Sweet corn, English Pea and fresh fennel risotto, heirloom tomato vinaigrette, spicy roasted chili cream.

Bon Appetite!  Chef Brian

 

Duck Leg Confit

House Made Duck ConfitTo many people, it may feel like summer is nearly over; there are only 3 weeks until September.  Here in upstate NY our summer crops are just beginning to come to market.  While we are enjoying the bounties of the current harvests, as chefs, we must also be looking forward to the next season.  When beans and peas come in (green, sugar snap, snow, pole, haricot verte, etc) there are bushels of them and every farm has them for sale.  But it won’t be long before the season for them is over and they cannot be found.  That is why we pickle, brine, freeze, ferment and otherwise preserve many summer foods so that we can enjoy them in different forms throughout the fall and winter season.

Dilly BeansWe are currently making dilly beans, sauerkraut, pickles, freezing sweet corn (think chowders and fritters) and berries, making jams as well as curing local meats.

A great example of curing meat for the next season is duck confit.  This year I am fortunate to have a local farm (M&M Eggs) raising a flock of ducks for us.  They are heritage breed ducks that have a deep and robust flavor.  They are also quite a bit larger than farm raised ducks.  As most of my regular guests know, I am a huge fan of charcuterie (cured meats).  So I will prepare many of them into duck confit.  Confit is a process for preserving the meat for use over long periods.  Normally, only the legs are cured, but I cure the whole duck.  (The wings are a real treat that I enjoy saving for myself and our staff.)  It begins by rubbing the duck down with a mixture of salt and a proprietary blend of herbs and spices and curing the meat to remove the excess moisture. Then the meat is rinsed and slow cooked fully submerged in duck fat until the meat is tender and easily pulls from the bone.  The duck is then cooled and preserved in the fat.  We will be using the confit as a filling for our Duck Ravioli as well as a component on our Autumn Charcuterie Board on the fall menu.

I hope you are able to get to your local farmers market and take advantage of the wonderful variety of fresh food. While you are there, think about what you can do to preserve some of the bounty for your home table in the next season.  If you are too busy…..don’t worry, we have your back!  We look forward to seeing you soon.

Bon Appetite!  Chef Brian