Smoky Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped with Bacon

This appetizer is a sensation whenever and wherever you serve it. Jalapeño peppers stuffed with Smoked Grafton Cheddar, wrapped with crisp, smoky bacon, glazed with barbeque sauce is a combination that can’t be beat. The great thing about this recipe is that there are no fixed proportions—it depends how many you want to make, and the size of the peppers. Plan on making twice as many as you think people will eat. Continue reading

Gravlax with Rye Crackers & Honey Mustard Dill Sauce

Gravlax can be the centerpiece of any appetizer buffet served during the holiday season, or really any time you want to serve something special. I have scaled down the size of this recipe to make it more accessible. Many recipes start with a 7 to 10 pound fish—I find that’s a little more than I generally need. I used a fillet of wild caught Coho salmon weighing a little over a pound. It is more expensive than farm-raised salmon, but is worth every penny. Serve gravlax thinly sliced on crispy, homemade rye crackers and top with a spoonful of honey mustard sauce into which you have stirred some fresh dill. Continue reading

Maple Bourbon Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust & Bacon Streusel

When you want to raise the bar and set a new record this is a go-to winner every time.  This pie is really as special as the name suggests. I recently served it as the grand finale for Sausage Fest. As you may imagine this is more than a meal it’s really more like an event. My family celebrates this much loved fest on an unspecified date, but always during the holiday season—that 6-week span beginning around Thanksgiving, and ending only after we drop into a collective feast-induced coma. Therefore, there’s no reason to hold back on the dessert course. This is a walk-off home run. Continue reading

Vodka Infused with Ginger, Lime & Cayenne

Recently, a friend gave me a piece of ginger he had grown at Elmore Roots Nursery. The basket, from which he retrieved it, held several pounds of gnarled rhizomes—so fresh that moist soil clung to the knobs and fissures. To capture its essence I decided to preserve the ginger in a neutral alcohol, and add traditional Thai accents of lime peel and cayenne: just enough to give it a bit of snap. Try this infusion in a martini—shaken not stirred—garnished with a curl of lime peel for color. A bottle like this makes a terrific gift so plan ahead as you want to allow the flavoring agents to meld with the vodka over a week’s time. Be forewarned, this libation is not for the faint of heart. If you like your spirits with a bit of a kick, prepare to be kicked. Continue reading

Slightly Wild Mushroom Barley Soup

Porcini mushrooms grow in the wild, and despite many attempts to grow them under controlled conditions they remain resistant to domestication. Fortunately, they are extremely prolific and grow all over the globe. Most dried porcini available in the Northeastern United States are imported from Eastern Europe or Asia. These dried mushrooms are available in several grades, and also as powdered mushrooms. They add a tremendous amount of mushroom flavor to any dish. In this soup, they join three varieties of fresh mushrooms available in most food markets, and so the combination is slightly wild. Continue reading

Roasted Delicata Squash Chips with Sweet Chili Garlic Dipping Sauce

Oven roasted Delicata rings are sweet and crispy and create a beautiful presentation. It is the easiest of all winter squashes to prepare since you don’t have to peel it, which is most of the battle with winter squashes. It slices into perfectly sized portions and provides a terrific result with very little effort.  Continue reading

Jalapeño Jelly

This is one of the most versatile condiments you can make to add a combination of flavors that include spicy, sweet & sour, and savory. This spreadable jelly has bits of pepper suspended in it and is equally good with a variety of cheeses from cream cheese to aged Cheddar, as it is on hamburgers, grilled chicken, slathered on smoky ribs or pork chops, or paired with crab cakes. Continue reading

Twice Baked Cheddar Soufflés

Recently, I received a piece of Grafton Clothbound Cheddar as a gift. If you love Cheddar you’ve got to try this cheese. The cheese makers at Grafton use hormone-free raw milk purchased from small Vermont family farms. The handmade Cheddar is then aged in special caves from one to four years. The texture is slightly crumbly and has a distinct earthy taste. A special cheese calls for a special recipe. These soufflés can be a first course or a light lunch. You can make these up to a day in advance and then just reheat to serve. They puff up beautifully on the second baking, which only takes a few minutes. If you have never attempted a soufflé because it sounds complicated, this recipe eliminates the timing issue. Continue reading