Cookery Maven Blog

An Abbot's Table & A Dandelion Addiction

I walked in to Bayfield Wine and Spirits to buy a nice bottle of wine to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of the school year (always a good idea to celebrate anything with wine). The minute my eyeballs spied the Abbot's Table from Owen Roe, I was definitely in a celebratory mood. It's a field blend of Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Blaufrankisch, Merlot and Malbec— medium bodied. lots of berries and a little spice and cedar. It was a lovely wine and perfect for the pizza I planned for dinner.

Pizza is always a good idea at our house— the kids prefer a more traditional approach while I like to shake things up a little. Michael, of Sassy Nanny fame, shares a cheese factory with an equally talented cheese maker, Fred Faye, and the Dandelion Addiction makes me so very happy. Happy Hollow Creamery makes a variety of sheep and cow cheeses and I'm a big fan of all of them. The Dandelion Addiction is a nice, mild brie without a hint of ammonia to be found, anywhere. It's hard to wrong when you take a good brie, sliced pear, caramelized onion and a reduced sherry glaze but it was a seriously good pizza.

Brie, Caramelized Onion & Pear Pizza

Pizza dough, use your own recipe or my recipe, here Crème fraiche, enough to coat the bottom of the pizza dough, about 1/3 cup 1 wheel of Dandelion Addiction brie (or your favorite brie), sliced into wedges 1 garlic clove, minced 1/2 cup caramelized onion 1 pear, sliced thin 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar glaze (available here) Maldon sea salt

Preparation Preheat oven to 500 degrees and place your pizza stone on the middle rack (a pizza stone makes all the difference, trust me). Make the pizza dough and stretch out into a 12 inch round. Sprinkle a pizza peel with flour or cornmeal and place the pizza dough on top. Coat the pizza dough with crème fraiche and sprinkle, evenly, the garlic and Maldon sea salt on top. Evenly place the brie wedges, pear slices and caramelized onions over the pizza round and then drizzle the sherry reduction over the pizza. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Let the pizza cool slightly and then slice and serve.

Sancerre Rose, Fini Sur La Paille & The Beach

Does rosé wine (the quintessential summer wine) have to be put away after Labor Day? I know that white shoes are déclassé after the first Monday in September and in case I missed the memo and there is a rule that I don't know about (you know how fond I am of group-think and rule following), I am getting this blog post out just in time. September is a beautiful month up here and I know we have plenty of beach days in our future but there's nothing like an August day on the beach. Before soccer practices, volleyball tournaments, dental appointments and school shopping start invading our calendar, previously free of any commitment but wine, cheese and a fire on the beach.

I remember the first time I had the pleasure of smearing a hunk of Michael's Fini Sur La Paille aged goat cheese on a cracker and popped it in my mouth— it's that good. The Chotard rosé (made from Pinot Noir grapes) was the perfect companion for the wheel of Fini in my fridge. Historically, I haven't been the biggest fan of rosé but this bottle changed my mind— it's bigger and creamier than a typical rosé but still has a lively acidity and clean finish. It's the perfect beach wine and when you throw a little French style aged goat cheese in the mix— it's a little slice of heaven.

These afternoons in the South Channel are etched in my brain— the kids, sandbars, blue water and the viscous light as the sun starts to set behind the hills. We've spent countless days on Long Island over the past fourteen years and it never gets old. There's always beach glass to find, boats to jump off, fires to build, forts to construct and walks to take. We are blessed to have the stories Long Island has given us in our trove of family memories.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. John Muir

A Sassy Nanny Birthing Day

'Two goats working on it. Come when you can if you want to witness a birth!'. It's not every day I get a text like that and I wasn't about to miss my chance to experience the miracle of birth as a spectator, not an active participant. I have eaten pounds of Michael's goat cheese and even taken pictures at his farm (read about it here) but I've never attended the birth of baby goats (or anything else for that matter). I grabbed a bottle of champagne (to celebrate the little ones), Tom Kha Gai soup for lunch and bones for Zuzu and Rex, jumped in the car and went off to my very first goat midwifery experience.

You'd think a woman who delivered five 10 pound babies would be an old hand at the birth game, not true. I took one look at the two girls, Lena and Donatella, getting ready to usher their little ones into the world and felt like Prissy in Gone With The Wind when she said, 'Lawdy, Miss Scarlett, I'se don't know nothin' 'bout birthin babies'. Thank God, Michael knows a whole lot about birthing babies and he delivered each one with a sense of hard-won, calm competence. Watching the babies enter this world and literally come to life in front of my eyes filled me with a sense of wonder I haven't felt since I met my own babies for the first time all those years ago.

As we were waiting for Donatella's second boy to arrive, her first decided to stretch his legs and stand up. Michael said he was one of the biggest babies he's seen and he was easily double the size of Lena's boy. He was only about 45 minutes old when he took his first unsteady steps towards Mama— a Herculean feat and so incredibly tender at the same time. It was nothing short of miraculous, witnessing the beginning of four new lives in Michael's barn.

Lena's last baby, a girl, entered this world with a nearly showstopping manuever; she had her head tucked under her back leg which caused a tremendous amount of chaos. Michael tried to grab ahold of her legs but she was good and stuck. I started to get a little panicked but he kept his cool, methodically working to free her head. Time seemed to stand still while Michael tried to get her straightened out (it probably was no more than 3 or 4 minutes) and we all breathed a sigh of relief when the little Miss lifted her head and looked around.

I walked outside to gather myself after the last baby was born. It was an intense afternoon for a woman who up to this point had a) fainted at the sight of blood and b) hated the smell of amniotic fluid— not the most logical choice for a birthing day companion. I stood outside in the sunlight and looked around at all the life Michael has ushered into the world and the lyrics from a 10,000 Maniacs song popped in my head. It was the perfect theme song for a beautiful afternoon spent with a good friend and his goats.

These Are Days10,000 Maniacs

These are the days These are days you’ll remember Never before and never since, I promise Will the whole world be warm as this And as you feel it, You’ll know it’s true That you are blessed and lucky It’s true that you Are touched by something That will grow and bloom in you

These are days that you’ll remember When May is rushing over you With desire to be part of the miracles You see in every hour You’ll know it’s true That you are blessed and lucky It’s true that you are touched By something that will grow and bloom in you

These are days These are the days you might fill With laughter until you break These days you might feel A shaft of light Make its way across your face And when you do Then you’ll know how it was meant to be See the signs and know their meaning It's true Then you’ll know how it was meant to be Hear the signs and know they’re speaking To you, to you

Lunch With A Gentleman Farmer, Goats and Quiche

Creation is a messy business— whether it is pastry dough or birthing 63 baby goats. I had three kids in diapers at one point in my life and thought I would never emerge from the fog of feedings, Cheerios, juice boxes and chronic exhaustion. It was a cake walk compared to ushering 63 baby goats into the world in less than a month's time. My friend, Michael, is the lead goat herder, cheese maker and gentleman farmer at Sassy Nanny Farmstead Cheese. Last year, he invited us to his farm to see the babies. I made friends with a little guy named Andy and decided I had a goat in my future. As it turns out, a goat would have been the proverbial straw on the camel's back and I am goat less. However, I am still a goat admirer and was excited to meet this year's new additions to the herd.

During the summer, there is a great farmers market every Thursday in Cornucopia and that is where I tasted Michael's goat cheese for the first time about five years ago. Growing up in Minneapolis, my previous experience with cheese involved plastic wrap and a grocery store. Once I put Michael's cheese in my mouth, I realized I had been missing the boat. Local cheese, made by a man who genuinely cares for his goats was a revelation— it was fresh and creamy without any of the gaminess I typically associated with goat cheese. He makes a number of goat cheeses: Lake Effect, a fresh, spreadable goat cheese, Buttin' Heads, a sea salt brined feta, Cabra Fresco, an homage to quesco fresco and Winey Kid (my favorite), an aged raw milk cheese with a red wine washed rind. Food tastes better when it hasn't been on a trans-continental trip of planes, trains and automobiles and Michael's cheese is no exception. His cheese is as good as anything I have tasted and I know the goats (kind of). How cool is that??

Living your dream takes a tremendous amount of hard work— the stakes are high and success is hard to measure. Michael, like most of my friends up here, decided to take a leap of faith and chose the road less traveled. I am glad he did because as Frost said,, 'that has made all the difference'. It makes a difference to live the life you dreamed of, to be a good steward to your environment and animals, to live in the moment (especially when the moment is one you would rather fast forward) and have the courage to watch it all unfold and know it is as it should be. When I moved to Bayfield and opened the restaurant with Renee, I had no idea what the future held for me but I knew it had all the components for an epic adventure. That is the beauty of Sassy Nanny Cheese, Good Thyme Restaurant or any number of the other small businesses up here— it isn't always easy but there are bound to be some epic adventures shared around a table full of good food, wine and friends.

Dorie Greenspan's Gorgonzola and Apple Quiche

1 pastry crust, blind baked in a 9 to 10 inch tart pan

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 apple (Empire, Gala or Granny Smith), sliced 1/4 inch thick

4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

4 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded

2/3 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup milk

4 large eggs

salt and pepper

 Put a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 deg F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt butter in a small skillet over low heat. Add onion and saute until onion is soft but not colored, about 10-15 minutes, then remove from heat. Place the partially baked pastry shell on the baking sheet (this will catch any drips). Spread the onion evenly over the bottom of the crust. Scatter the apple pieces over the onion and top with the crumbled Gorgonzola and shredded Swiss cheese. Beat the eggs, milk, and cream together until well blended and season with salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture into the tart pan. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the filling is puffed all over (make sure the center is puffed), lightly browned, and set. Transfer the quiche to a cooling rack and allow it to cool for at least 5 minutes. Remove the sides of the tart pan and slide quiche onto a platter or cutting board. Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers keep well in the fridge for 2-3 days.