To 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.
We 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.
This weekend we were fortunate enough to get some freshly harvested shiitake mushrooms from Bob Wagner at Northwoods Shiitake Farm . It was a surprise to get them because we are experiencing a very warm and dry summer and these tasty little mushrooms require a certain amount of moisture in order to bloom. Like most farmers, Bob found an innovative way to help nature along by soaking his logs in river water to facilitate the bloom. The result is beautiful firm mushrooms that are perfect for many types of preparations including the dish we created for this weekends featured entree.
We look forward to next summer when we anticipate the first harvest from our own shiitake farm that we installed with help and guidance from Bob earlier this summer. It is a great lesson in patience when you realize that there is a 12 month wait for your first crop. Fortunately, we are able to enjoy the bounty this year from Northwoods Farm.
Seared Scallops with Crispy Shiitake Mushrooms
Seared diver scallops, sweet local corn and fresh herb risotto, crispy shiitake mushrooms, tomato-saffron beurre fondue.
On a hot summer day there is nothing better than a cool refreshing salad to start a meal. This Thai watermelon salad fits the bill perfectly and is a great starter or accompaniment to grilled meat. The simplicity of this salad makes it a great summer dish because it is relatively quick to prepare and utilizes ingredients that may be growing in your garden.
Our Chef’s Garden is really beginning to produce some wonderful vegetables. This afternoon, my girls went out and picked a peck of snow peas. They are tender, sweet and delicious; and they make a great amuse bouche. I piped some fresh tarragon mousse on top and finished each one with some shaved breakfast radishes. Simple. Elegant. Delicious.
The bush blueberries are in high season and we have some deliciously sweet ones from Lazy River Farm. One of my favorite flavor combinations is blueberries and lemon, so my daughter Savannah and I made these simple and wonderful tarts.
Lemon-Blueberry Tart Lazy River Farm blueberries, tart lemon curd, flaky shortbread crust, lavender infused honey drizzle.
Summer is moving along and we are beginning to harvest some delicious fruits of our labor. The Walker girls (Savannah, Summer, and Ella) harvested our garlic today. It is now hanging in the barn drying out. Barry was busy working in the vineyard and harvesting these snow peas. The tomatoes are just beginning to ripen; and we cant wait for them to be ready. Come on in and taste the freshness in our Farm to Table cuisine.
Like many berry patches around the North Country, the black raspberries in the Chefs’ garden are ripening at an overwhelming rate. We pick several quarts a day and flash freeze many of them so that we can utilize them in specialty cocktails, sorbets, ice creams, sangria, etc. But we also love to eat them fresh in salads, desserts, cheese boards, and simply as a great snack.
Today my daughters went out and picked 4 quarts of berries. We froze two and turned the other two into these amazing summer time desserts. The only thing sweeter than these tarts, was sharing the process of making them with my daughters in my kitchen.
Black Raspberry Tarts
A sweet pastry crust filled with vanilla bean pastry cream, organic black raspberries and a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
Simple, elegant, delicious.
Summer is here and the local farmer’s markets are beginning to have a real bounty. Additionally, Tri-Town meat packing is once again USDA inspected. We now have some great options for local meat. Our new summer menu is full of wonderful options for enjoying farm fresh food. Whether you are vegetarian, gluten free, or just enjoy great healthy food; we have you covered.
Our new 1844 House Cobb Salad is a great example of fresh ingredients from many different farms coming together. We have smoked chicken from Smith Farm in Massena, made our signature bacon and ham with pork from Pat & April’s Farm in Ft. Covington, fresh eggs from M&M Eggs in Massena and Gulf Creek Farm in Canton, aged cheddar from Meier’s Artisan Cheese in Ft. Covington, organic lettuce from BirdsFoot Farm and fresh herbs from our own gardens.
After 10 years of seasonal menus we inevitably end up with so many guest favorites that we cannot fit them all on each menu. So we love to offer these as “features” throughout each season. This is one of those guest favorites. It is a simple and delicious appetizer that is sure to wake up those taste buds and get you ready for a great meal. It also makes a great snack at the bar paired with a nice glass of Bell’s Oberon summer wheat ale.
If you have not visited our website in awhile, check out our new “6til6” menu. It includes all of our menu appetizers for $6 until 6 p.m. each day in our bar or on our front porch. There are also cocktail, wine, and beer specials each night to complement our delicious appetizers. Its a great way to enjoy a light meal with a craft beer, signature cocktail or a glass of wine from our award winning wine list.
Summer has finally arrived and our gardens are beginning to flourish. With the addition of The Guest House at 1844 last year, we were also able to expand our gardens an extra half acre this year. Now our restaurant and Inn guests can wander through the gardens in the evenings while enjoying one of our refreshing summer cocktails, a cool craft beer, or a glass of wine from our Wine Spectator Award winning wine list.
Our gardens are designed to help supply our restaurant with small amounts of many different foods; though we still rely on our local farms to supply us with the bulk of our needs. Our gardens are for our guest enjoyment and to create a perfect “Farm to Table” venue for special theme dinners in the garden, weddings, rehearsal dinners, reunions, and private parties.
We hope you will take a moment to wander through our gardens and see what we are growing during your next visit. There are many great changes happening at 1844 House, come on out and see whats new. We look forward to seeing you.
Bon Appetite! Chef Brian
1844 House – Fine Dining Restaurant and Guest House B&B