A Farm-to-Table Thanksgiving

Photo by Sydney Schaefer

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Looking Forward Into Fall: A season of surrender

LIVE YUM’s Sensational, Seasonal Harvest Salad

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Confection Perfections: North Country desserts tantalize our taste buds

Three deserts from Rainbow Shores, located in Pulaski, are featured on a table.

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NNY Food Feature: LIVE YUM’s Tahini Broccoli Salad

Kristen Taylor and Liz Price-Kellogg

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NNY Food Feature: LIVE YUM

Kristen Taylor and Liz Price-Kellogg

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NNY Food Feature: LIVE YUM


Kristen Taylor and Liz Price-Kellogg

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“Hands, Pans, Flames and Heart”

St. Lawrence Spirits Chateau executive chef Christian Ives poses in the dining room of the restaurant.

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The warmth of family pairs well with fresh cheese fondue

Boo Wells

Boo Wells

Breaking bread together has long been considered the best way to get to know another person. Sitting down at the table and partaking in even a simple meal allows us to transition from strangers to friends and even family. As we sit at the table, we eat and we share stories and experiences.

We exchange ideas and opinions. We listen and we learn about each other. By the end of the meal we are united.

This weekend my table got much, much larger when two families became one. The “We Do” weekend brought my three, plus one significant other, together with three of his five, three spouses and three grandchildren. A table for four has become a table for 17 with two simple words — “I do.”

Over the past four years we have woven our families together while preparing and sharing meals. There is always a task for every pair of hands and young and old work together to put food on the table. Classic barbecues in the summer and warm, cozy meals in the winter have created relationships and wonderful memories.

This weekend, the “We Do” weekend, we chose fondue as the celebratory meal. Warm cheese fondue with chunks of baguette, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and tart apple slices. Lean steak and jumbo shrimp fondue cooked in hot peanut oil, served with several different savory sauces. Finally, a large green salad to balance out the richness of the meal.

There is plenty of work to be done to prepare for a fondue feast — baguettes need cutting, vegetables need steaming and blocks of cheese needs grating. The youngest members of our new clan are in charge of grating the cheese — three grandchildren with three cheese graters work side by side at the kitchen counter. Adults cut up raw steak and baguettes, and the in-betweens peel shrimp and slice apples. The cheese fondue is made on the stove, the mountain of grated cheese is slowly added a handful at a time to warm wine until the cheese has melted into a warm gooey concoction.

It is important to keep the heat low and stir constantly so the cheese does not stick and burn on the bottom of the pan. Once the cheese is completely melted it is poured into a prepared ceramic fondue pot and set on the table with all the ingredients for dipping. Sharp metal fondue forks are distributed and the feasting begins. At first some jostling and good natured teasing goes on as the members of this new family jockey for position around the table.

Then there is a companionable silence as everyone fills their plates and mouths with what we have created together. Once the initial rush is over, the stories begin and the laughter follows. Food is passed around the table and there are seconds and thirds, and the laughter goes on into the night. A table for four has turned into a family of 17. Our fabric has been woven together and will get tighter and stronger with every meal we share.

So, head up to the attic or down to the basement and locate the fondue pot you got as a wedding present way back when. Dust it off and call your family together for a fun and festive bonding experience over a pot of melted cheese.

Cheese fondue

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

½ pound imported Swiss cheese, shredded
½ pound Gruyere cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cherry brandy, such as kirsch
Pinch nutmeg
In a small bowl, coat the cheeses with cornstarch and set aside. Rub the inside of the ceramic fondue pot with the garlic then discard.
Over medium heat, add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a gentle simmer. Gradually stir the cheese into the simmering liquid. Melting the cheese gradually encourages a smooth fondue. Once smooth, stir in cherry brandy, and nutmeg.
Arrange an assortment of bite-sized dipping foods on a lazy Susan around fondue pot. Serve with chunks of French bread. Some other suggestions are Granny Smith apples and blanched vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and asparagus. Spear with fondue forks or wooden skewers, dip, swirl and enjoy.

Boo Wells is chef and owner of the Farm House Kitchen, a catering company and cooking school in Sackets Harbor. Contact her at sacketsfarm housekitchen@gmail.com or visit thefarmhousekitchen.com.

A South American-inspired delight: Chef Simpson discovers empanadas during visit to Argentina

Clipper Inn Chef Michael Simpson makes an empanada, a South American staple he discovered while traveling with his son in Argentina. Photo by Justin Sorensen/ NNY Business

I have been active in the culinary industry since the early ’70s. Most of my career has been devoted to operating The Clipper Inn in Clayton, a community on the St. Lawrence with a proud river heritage. The restaurant has always been a seasonal business, which leaves time for other interests in the off season.

In some of my earlier years, an attraction to warm winters in south Florida drove me to Key West, Boynton Beach, Lake Worth and West Palm Beach. Each trip involved working in restaurants to learn from successful restaurant operators. Interspersed with trips to south Florida were shorter trips to Europe to experience the culinary scene in other parts of the world and to see the sights, so to speak. [Read more…]

A family favorite for the ages

Chicken orecchiette, a recipe from Massena's Vino Vidi Vici. Photo courtesy Crista Makdouli/Vino Vidi Vici.

Chicken orecchiette is one of those dishes we love to serve for every reason. It’s a signature entrée that provides guests with a full dining experience each time they order it.

For us, opening a new restaurant in the north country has been a process of both trial and error and slow and steady growth. This dish has illustrated that on many levels. It also has shown the success of what we have worked hard to create in the heart of Massena.

As many permanent menu items begin, it started as a featured special. When Chef Michael Austin first prepared it for us, we knew it was a winner from the very first bite. It had such a unique depth of flavor and captured everything people love about a great pasta dish. The chicken was beautifully marinated and grilled to perfection, and the sauce was perfect — not too heavy and not too light. It is ideal for those times when you’d love the richness of an Alfredo sauce, but don’t want its heavy feel.

The chiffonade of fresh spinach atop the chicken is the fun part of this dish that stands out. It may seem like something insignificant when up against stronger ingredients such as sundried tomatoes and roasted red peppers, but it really does complete the dish.

Fresh spinach has such a unique flavor and texture. The bite and flavor give just a subtle hint of something different. The sundried tomato butter lends a balanced richness that satisfies without overpowering. It’s not a heavy sauce, but the richness and depth of flavors will impress with that in mind. The roasted red peppers and shallots come into play, too, lending a delicious sweetness.

Chicken orecchiette is surely one of our family favorites. We hope it becomes a favorite for your family, too.

[For the recipe and instructions for Vino Vidi Vici’s famous chicken orecchiette, please subscribe or purchase a copy of NNY Living at your local Big M Supermarket, at the Watertown Daily Times, Carthage Tribune or Lowville Journal offices and the Samaritan Medical Center Gift Shop.]

-Crista and Tarek Makdouli own and operate Vino Vidi Vici in Massena, serving upscale casual Italian fare. Visit them at 160 Harte Haven Plaza or online at www.VinoVV.com. Call 769-5050 for delivery or reservations.