A couple of weeks ago my book club went on a little field trip to rural Ontario. While we were there, we went on a tour of a farm owned by a young couple who sell organic (although not certified organic) vegetables. The business is called Vicki's Veggies, and Vicki, who is the ninth generation of her family to farm in the community, gave us a look around her 10-acre farm in the midst of a lightning storm and accompanying torrential rain. Young, smart, entreprenurial, and incredibly hard-working, Vicki is the epitome of the farmers whom Tracey Medeiros writes about in her new cookbook, "The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook."
Let me say right up front, that as with Medeiros' excellent first cookbook, "Dishing Up Vermont," you don't have to live in Vermont to enjoy this cookbook, but if you are interested in taking a food trip through that state, you would be wise to pack this as a guide to farms you might like to visit on the way. This book is a love song to the people who do all the hard work to get fantastic fruits, vegetables, cheeses and meats to your table. There are sidebars throughout the book with information about farms and the characters who inhabit them, with larger pieces about some specific farms, and many of the recipes come from local restaurants, distilleries and the farmers themselves. There is a directory of farms and restaurants as well as a seperate index for recipes and another for people and places you might like to visit, just to make life easier for you.
But of course, the real test of a cookbook is the recipes. The day I got this cookbook I made the beer-battered fiddleheads, which my husband and I devoured in moments. It was easy, straightforward, and totally delicious. There are many, many recipes I want to try, and right now I'm looking at a recipe for squash blossom fritters with Taleggio, truffle oil and honey. I'm hoping for squash blossoms at the farmers' market this week.The recipes are clearly written and, although some have two parts to them, none of them seem particularly difficult. Many of them are great recipes for people who like to entertain, and certainly the recipe I'm using today is great for company.
Of course, most of us don't actually live in Vermont, so it's a bit hard to get the exact farm ingredients listed. I take this in the spirit it is given and find my own locally grown equivalents. I can't get the Vermont whiskey called for in this recipe, so I used a local Ontario whisky. (We even spell it differently.) Really, the book is an encouragement to get out there to your farmers market and talk to them, buy their produce and make their recipes. I live in pretty much the same climate as Vermont, so all of these ingredients are completely familiar to me, and our seasons are the same. I pick up "Dishing Up Vermont" all the time, looking for ideas about what to make with the ingredients I have on hand.
My only quibble with this recipe for New York strip steaks is that I don't think enough time is given to cook the sauce. I grilled my steaks and cooked the sauce on top of the stove. I didn't have shallots, so I used regular onions which take much longer to cook, and I used beef stock rather than demi-glace which is thinner (I was at the cottage and had demi-glace in the freezer at home, alas), so it took closer to an hour for my sauce to be ready, rather than the 15 or so minutes it sounds like in the recipe. If I had started the sauce while the steaks were resting, I think we would have had pretty cold steak. I did it the other way around, cooking the sauce first, then tossing the steaks on the barbeque. In any case, the steaks were great, and the sauce was fantastic.
Personally, I find the portions a bit big for this recipe. Unless you have a really big eater, you don't really need more than four ounces of meat in a meal. I cooked two steaks for my husband and myself, and we ended up with two dinners and a lunch from them.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: Up to1 hour
Yield: 4 servings
New York Strip Steaks with Whiskey Demi-glace Sauce
- 4 10-ounce New York strip steaks, about 1 inch thick
- Dash Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/3 cup whiskey
- 1 1/4 cups demi-glace or beef stock
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Season the steaks generously with salt and pepper.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the steaks and sear 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Transfer the steaks to a baking sheet and bake until medium-raare, 6 minutes.
- While the steaks are in the oven, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the empty skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, shallot and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully whisk in the whisky. Return the skillet in the heat and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the demi-glace and return to a simmer. Slowly whisk in the cream and cook until the sauce is slightly reduced. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the sauce over the steaks and serve.
- Variation: Prepare a gas or electric grill and grill the steaks over medium-high heat, turning once, until medium-rare, 3 to 4 minutes. While the steaks are resting, prepare the whisky demi-glace sauce in a skillet. (see note above regarding cooking times).
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