At home in the Hudson Valley – Part 1 – Weekend in Claverack

Considering the tremendous interest my travel posts have been getting, I thought it would be a good idea to write about Columbia County and surrounding areas, where we have a country house, for those who may be thinking about visiting this beautiful part of the world. This is the first of what will be a series of posts. The next installments will cover how to get there, where to stay, things to see and do, more of our favorite restaurants, etc.


Our 1832 eyebrow house in Claverack (field of clover in Dutch), which we named            “Clover Lodge”

We are usually here every other weekend, and I often have to cut it short to get back to the city for open houses or showings. This Sunday I had no appointments, so I was able to have a full, relaxing weekend in the country.

Arriving Friday afternoon, we set off to buy food for the dinner party we planned for Saturday. In the evening, we headed into Hudson for a simple dinner at Wunderbar, a casual restaurant serving American comfort food with some Austrian specialties, and a large selection of beers on tap. I had the Wiener schnitzel (made with pork), and Stanley had a steak special with a delicious sauce. I used a Groupon, so with 2 beers the total cost was only $40 including tax and tip.

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After dinner, I began preparing Saturday’s dinner (we would be having four friends over), making the marinade for the chicken. Here is a link to the recipe for Jerk chicken:

Note that Scotch Bonnet peppers are the same as Habanero peppers, readily available in supermarkets. I used this recipe for the marinade but instead of a fricassee, I used an easier method, roasting, and used thighs instead of a whole chicken. Also, I doubled the amount of marinade to accommodate 12 thighs. Make deep slits in the chicken before marinating, and when ready to cook, put the thighs in a pan, skin side up, with the marinade under and on top. Roast at 400F for about 45 minutes, then broil for 5 minutes to crisp the skin.

Saturday morning I prepared the fish soup that would be the appetizer. Recipe follows:

Fish soup, for six

2 cups leek, chopped fine
1/4 cup onion, chopped fine
5 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 tbsp. curry powder
1/4 cup flour
1 cup clam juice
3 cups milk
3 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
3 or 4 dashes hot pepper sauce or several sprinklings of cayenne, to taste
1 lb. cod or monkfish, diced
½ cup sour cream, plus more for garnish
½ cup chopped flat parsley

Melt butter and add leek and onion, cook for about 8-10 minutes over medium-high heat, until wilted and lightly browned. Add curry and cook briefly. Add flour and cook about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the liquids just to boiling. Remove leek mixture from heat and gradually stir in the hot liquid.

Add salt and pepper. Return to heat and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until thickened enough to coat a spoon. Add the pepper sauce or cayenne.

You may stop at this point and let the soup sit until close to serving. Refrigerate overnight if needed.

Return soup to a boil and reduce heat to low, add fish, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Add sour cream and stir to blend.

Spoon into bowls, add a spoonful of sour cream to each, sprinkle with parsley and a bit of curry powder.

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Meanwhile, Stanley prepared a gratin of potato and celery root, using this recipe:

Here is how it looks before baking. You can prepare it ahead, refrigerate, and return to room temperature when ready to bake.

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Time for lunch, again in Hudson. Ca’ Mea is a lovely Italian restaurant. I had a panino with prosciutto, mozzarella and basil pesto (only $9, with a green salad). Stanley had calamari with tomato sauce and olives, an appetizer that is generous enough to be a fine lunch with a few slices of their excellent bread. They have a nice beer selection, so I had a Moretti La Rossa, Stanley a Dark Horse Boffo Brown Ale.

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After lunch, we strolled up Warren Street, stopping at Olde Hudson to pick up creme fraiche.

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Then we took a drive to Chatham, where the scenery is particularly beautiful, before heading home to continue dinner preparation.

Back at home,  I made a ginger cake, which is extremely easy and wonderful.

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We served it topped with sweetened whipped cream and crystallized ginger.

This is the recipe:

Stanley made the other side dish, petits pois a la Francaise:

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Jerk chicken thighs with gratin and petits pois

Next, guests arrived, cocktails by the fire…

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and a candlelit dinner…

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Good food, good wine, and good company. A most enjoyable evening.

Sunday began with reading the Times, then a light brunch of eggs and bacon. In the afternoon we took a ride to Great Barrington, where we picked up a butterflied leg of lamb for dinner at Guido’s, a wonderful gourmet food store that is worth the half-hour drive. We took a scenic route home, and began preparing dinner.

Here is a link to the recipe I used for the lamb:

I used ground coriander and mustard because that’s what I had on hand, and instead of 2 strips of lemon peel, I used the peel of a whole lemon. You can use any amount of meat without changing the rest of the recipe, in my case 3 pounds. It was enough to serve 2 and have leftovers for 2 more meals.







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