Pasta, Pasta, Pasta – Fun Cooking Class in Hillsdale Posted March 31, 2016 | Tags: Hillsdale NY Chef Shop, Pasta Cooking Class, Pasta Making
I had been looking forward to taking a cooking class at the new Chef Shop in Hillsdale, New York, ever since it opened last September, 2015.
I was delighted when Matthew White, proprietor of the Hillsdale General Store, added a sister business, the HGS Chef Shop. Once again, Matthew did a beautiful renovation on an historic building. And you will know you have arrived in the hamlet of Hillsdale, New York, as your eye can’t help but be drawn to the pink Victorian with the white trim!
The Chef Shop has two gorgeous teaching kitchens. This photo shows the one on the ground floor with that custom table which expands depending on the size of the class. The cooking class I attended was held in the second floor class room, where one can also arrange a private event like a bridal shower or birthday party.
Three friends and I signed up as soon as the class taught by John Andrews Restaurant chef/owner Dan Smith was announced. This is part of the Local Chef Master Class series.
The subject turned out to be made-from-scratch pasta, which pleased me, as Dan Smith makes the lightest pasta you have ever tasted! In fact, many of the house made pastas offered at his restaurant are gluten free, made with rice flour!
Dan started off the class by showing us just how easy it is to make your own ricotta cheese. Who knew? Whole milk, a little heavy cream, a dash of red wine vinegar, heat and strain through cheese cloth, and voila!
Several class members got to help preparing the different types of pasta dough we made; gnocchi, fettucini, and ravoli. Dan is laying the top layer of pasta over the ricotta ravioli in this photo.
And then of course we all got to eat!
My New Favorite Breakfast Recipe – English Muffin Bread Posted December 13, 2015 | Tags: bed and breakfast recipes, Bread, Recipes
A delightful Inn at Green River guest, Mary Crimmins, kindly shared with me her family recipe for English Muffin Bread, after I mentioned my first attempt to make home made English Muffins. “Don’t worry” said Mary, “this recipe is so easy and delicious.”
I was intimidated at first as I hadn’t worked with a yeast bread in years, making mostly quick breads – scones and baking powder biscuits – at my bed and breakfast. So the very different – and sticky -consistency of the batter was a surprise. But Mary was right. This recipe is easy and has quickly become a favorite.
Here I am checking that the dough has risen sufficiently. Don’t you love that linen dish towel with the red embroidery? Grandma’s!
And here is the bread just out of the oven, showing the corn meal that was sprinkled in the pan and over the top of the bread.
So here’s Mary’s recipe:
English Muffin Bread
5 1/2 – 6 Cups Unbleached White Flour
2 pkgs Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise Yeast
1 Tbs Sugar
2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
2 Cups Whole Milk
1/2 Cup Water
Prepare two dark metal loaf pans by greasing with Crisco or butter, and sprinkling with corn meal. Combine 5 cups of flour, yeast, sugar, salt and baking soda in a bowl. I think it helps to first put the yeast and the sugar in a bowl and let them sit a bit, so the yeast gets a head start by “feeding” on the sugar, then add the rest of those dry ingredients, and stir thoroughly. Then add the milk and water, stirring to combine. Slowly add enough of the left over flour to make a stiff batter. Don’t knead, just combine. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, sprinkle the top with more cornmeal, cover and let rise for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. My kitchen isn’t that warm, so I turn the oven on briefly, then turn it off, and let the batter rise in the oven. Be sure the oven is not warmer than 130 degrees or you will kill the yeast! Then bake @ 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Let the bread cool briefly, then turn it out of the pan to finish cooling on a rack. Slice thickly, toast, and butter generously. Delicious! And really, you must toast this bread.
While looking online for advice on loaf pan sizes, I stumbled across this great cooking blog, Kitchen Encounters, written by chef, Melanie Preschutti. And lo and behold, she had a post about the same English Muffin Bread recipe, with a bit of history about how this recipe became so popular in the 1970’s, and some good tips about substituting bread flour, warming the milk first, and letting the dough rise twice, covered with plastic wrap sprayed with a non stick cooking spray. So do look at her recipe as well, and then try it yourself. I promise it will become a breakfast favorite.
Need a unique holiday gift for that person on your shopping list who has everything? Why not a glass paperweight – made by you?
I created this beautiful paperweight during a half hour class at the Hoogs and Crawford Glassblowing Studio and Gallery, in Canaan, NY, just 15 minutes north of my Inn at Green River. And this was my first attempt! As the paperweight is solid, I wasn’t actually blowing glass, but it was great fun, and I can’t wait to make some more, and begin to understand the design techniques.
Here I am working on this paperweight during the class, under the expert guidance of gallery co-owner, Nathan Hoogs. I am using tongs to shape as he rolls the red hot glass.
On the gallery’s website is a video which gives you a good idea of what you would do during a class. Click here to see that. A half hour class cost $60. I actually booked an hour long session with an inn guest, and the total for two people was $100, each of us receiving one on one instruction for a half hour. This is a fun way to do it, as you also learn watching the other student, and you both cheer each other on.
Next time, I want to make a Christmas tree ornament! Here is a display of ornaments made by Hoogs and his wife, Elizabeth Crawford.
When finished, your glass piece must slowly cool overnight, so plan to combine the class with a few days in the country, staying at the Inn at Green River, of course. Hope to see you soon.
‘Tis the season; little white Christmas lights are decorating the many wonderful small, locally owned and curated shops here in Hillsdale, and throughout Columbia and Berkshire counties.
This first weekend in December provides so many fun opportunities for holiday shopping. Stockbridge, Massachusetts, holds its 26th annual “Stockbridge – Main Street at Christmas” celebration this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, December 4-6, 2015. Come join in with the caroling, luminaria walk, holiday concert, house tour and the famous recreation of Norman Rockwell’s painting on Main Street in Stockbridge on Sunday, from noon to 6 pm.
The Berkshire Botanical Garden, also in Stockbridge, holds it annual “Holiday Marketplace” on Saturday and Sunday, starting at 10 am. The Exhibit Hall becomes a twinkling market, with lots of local products from wonderful vendors and gorgeous seasonal decorations for you to purchase.
The Spencertown Academy, just 10 minutes from the Inn, in the hamlet of Spencertown, NY, is hosting a Handmade Holiday Pop-up Shop from 10 – 4 each day this weekend. This curated sale features cards, ceramics, jewelry, holiday greenery baskets, glassworks, paper crafts and edible yummies made by more than forty area artists and artisans.
And more from the Spencertown Academy’s sale; these wonderful bird photo cards made by a talented photographer friend, Antony Gravett.
At Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School, the 38th annual Yuletide Fair takes place on Saturday, December 5, 2015, from 10-5. My favorite part of this event is the dozens of original gingerbread houses on display. They are up for auction, so you may be able to take one home with you. And of course, there are many handcrafted items for sale.
So forget the boring mall, and come to the beautiful countryside to do your holiday shopping…and don’t forget to take home a freshly cut Christmas tree.
Good Press for a Favorite Farm to Table Restaurant Posted February 26, 2015 | Tags: Berkshires restaurant, Farm To Table food, John Andrews Restaurant, Restaurants
John Andrews Restaurant in South Egremont, Massachusetts, is one of my top 5 choices when suggesting dinner options to my bed and breakfast guests. And like Pavlov’s dog, my mouth starts watering whenever I talk about chef/owner Dan Smith’s fantastic sweetbreads, shown below.
I just came across a nice write up about the restaurant on “The Berkshire Edge“, an online magazine.
The article was published on December 17, 2014, and written by Laurily Epstein. She does a nice job of relating the history of the restaurant which Dan opened in 1990. As she notes, “well before the “buy local” mantra hit the Berkshires, Dan Smith, chef-owner of the John Andrews restaurant in Egremont, was doing just that.”
Although I have been dining at John Andrews since its early days, and thought I knew a thing or two about Chef Dan, this article made me more aware of just how extensive Dan Smith’s involvement in the Berkshire community is. He has been generous with his time and skill, helping with cooking classes for young teenagers through the Railroad Street Youth Project with Chef Brian Alberg of the Red Lion Inn, and participating in many charitable events.
I knew that Dan and other Berkshire chefs make an annual trip to the James Beard House in Manhattan to cook a “Berkshire Cure-All”. The latest news is that Dan will be doing his first solo dinner at the Beard House on April 28, 2015. How I would like to be at that! Good luck, Dan!
So read the article, enjoy the recipe for JA bartender Eric’s delicious ginger soda, and be sure to let me make dinner reservations at John Andrews for you on your next trip to the Inn at Green River!
What could be better than a steaming mug of hot chocolate to warm you, after an afternoon of cross country skiing across beautiful fields above a lake?
That’s what you will find at the Copake Country Club in Copake, New York, just 20 minutes south east of my bed and breakfast, the Inn at Green River. With several recent snow storms, conditions are now perfect to strap on those skis and head out across the hills at this pretty country club which overlooks Copake Lake.
|Photo Credit: Copake Country Club|
The $25 fee covers your skis, poles and boots rental, and access to the trails. These can be picked up at the Pro Shop. You should call ahead to reserve your equipment – 518-325-4338. If you own your own skis or snow shoes, there is simply a $5 trail fee. Again, stop at the Pro Shop to register.
|Photo Credit: Copake Country Club|
And that mug of hot chocolate is free with lunch at The Greens Restaurant in the club house. What a lovely place to relax, while looking out at the snowy fields. I love the ambiance with the antler chandeliers and central fireplace. Bring warm clothes and wool socks, and oh yes, don’t forget to book your room at the Inn. Call us at 518-325-7248, or book online at www.innatgreenriver.com. Just click the availability button. Hope to see you soon.
The Inn at Green River normally caters to adults seeking a quiet, romantic getaway, but in the winter ski season, there are often families with “well behaved” children staying at the Inn. This Martin Luther King Day weekend was no exception.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature wasn’t in the mood to cooperate and today’s snow and ice ruined the skiing for 9 guests who came home soaking wet from sitting on the chair lift in the pouring rain! And to add insult to injury, no one dared drive out on the icy roads this evening to enjoy dinner at one of our great area restaurants.
Thankfully, I had bought provisions to try a tomato soup I found on Ree Drummond’s blog, The Pioneer Woman, and tonight this recipe saved the day, err, night. What could be better on a winter’s night than tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, particularly when the soup is made from scratch? Click here for the Tomato Soup with Parmesan Croutons recipe.
So what started as a disappointment, turned into a fun evening. My two 12 year old young ladies, who had never met before, bonded over setting the table, pouring the ice water, making the cheese croutons, and serving the bowls of soup to their families.
Nothing like a minor crisis to encourage camaraderie!
And the evening ended with the kids having a great time playing Monopoly in the living room, while the parents got to relax. And the Innkeeper didn’t have to worry about guests driving on icy roads.
I hope the new found friends convince their parents to plan another ski weekend at the Inn at Green River!
|Photo Courtesy Cricket Creek Farm|
|Photo Courtesy Cricket Creek Farm|
One of my favorite local cheese producers is Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown, Massachustts, just 45 minutes up the road from my Inn. Below is a screen shot of their website. Look at that gorgeous location in the Berkshire mountains.
|Photo Courtesy of Cricket Creek Farm|
I first tasted their cheeses at the spring fair at the Berkshire Botanical Garden several years ago. They were making grilled cheese sandwiches with Maggie’s Round, the cheese in the photo above, and their Tobasi. Delicious! I was hooked. They also attend some of the local farmer’s markets with their cheeses made from the milk produced by their grass fed herd of cows.
|Photo Courtesy Cricket Creek Farm|
Even though the hustle and bustle of the summer season is behind us, here in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, great theater continues. Why not combine a little leaf peeping with an evening of live theater at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, just half an hour from my Hillsdale, NY bed and breakfast, the Inn at Green River. The leaves are just beginning to change!
|Art used with permission, Barrington Stage Co.|
website describes this as a “musical memoir celebrating the Golden Age of the American Musical.” The show stars Drama Desk Award winner, Jim Brochu, and salutes popular character actors and musical stars of Broadway, including Zero Mostel, Jack Gilford, Charles Nelson Riley, and Jackie Gleason. I certainly remember all these wonderful actors, do you?
|Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg|
The New York Times describes it as “A blend of cabaret, theater and scrapbook…walks down memory lane are rarely so entertaining.” And The New Yorker weighs in with “Brochu is a terrific storyteller, and a fine singer, too.”
This Saturday, September 13, 2014, at 7:30 pm, the Hillsdale Grange, just 4 miles down the road from my Hudson Valley bed and breakfast, the Inn at Green River, is definitely the place to be!
Well known musicians will be performing chamber music there as part of the Leaf Peeper Concert series, which has been presented here in Columbia County each fall by Clarion Concerts for the last 33 years. Violinist Sanford Allen has been the music director of the series since 1996.
Mr. Allen began studying the violin at age 7, and entered the Juilliard School of Music at age 10. He was the first black musician ever to become a regular member of the New York Philharmonic, playing with the orchestra from 1962 – 1977. For a complete biography, see the Clarion Concert’s website.
This Saturday’s concert will introduce Music Director Designate, acclaimed flutist, Eugenia Zukerman, who will take over from Mr. Allen when he retires later this fall. Ms. Zukerman has also enjoyed a distinguished career as an orchestral soloist, chamber musician and recitalist. For her complete biography, see her website.
|Photo Credit: Angela Jimenez|
This Saturday’s concert features works by C.P.E. Bach, Mozart and Leon for violin, cello and viola.
The concert will be held in a classic Greek Revival building which was a Grange. For those of you who did not grow up in small farming communities and are not familiar with this term, The National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry was an association of farmers founded just after the Civil War. For more on this interesting movement go to this site.
To steal a famous lyric, this Saturday, the Hillsdale “hills will be alive with the sound of music”! Don’t miss this concert.