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.

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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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http://wunderbarbistro.com/

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:

http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/jamaican-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:

http://www.bigoven.com/recipe/celery-root-gratin-with-saffron-and-gruyere-cheese/1696

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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http://www.camearestaurant.com/

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:

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/fresh-ginger-cake-103238

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

http://www.food.com/recipe/petits-pois-la-fran-aise-french-style-peas-297872

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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:

http://onedadskitchen.com/tag/butterflied-leg-of-lamb-with-coriander-cumin-and-mustard-seeds/

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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