Tomato and cheese frittata over spinach with micro-basil and a corn tortilla
When I have just a few minutes to make breakfast, I invariably make "eggs over stuff": a pair of sunny-side-up eggs on top of whatever I've got kicking around in the fridge. It might be leftovers from the previous evening's dinner, a green salad, corn tortillas with salsa — pretty much anything. In the time it takes the eggs to sizzle in the pan, I can assemble the other ingredients, and that's all there is to it.
On the other hand, if I have a little extra time in the morning, I make "eggs under stuff." It's the quick-cooking lovechild of an omelette and a frittata. I put the oven on broil, crack and whip two eggs together in a bowl with salt, pepper and herbs, and pour the mixture into a pan coated with hot butter. Cook on the stovetop until the bottom is set but the top is still wet, and slide it into the oven. (Make sure you use an oven-worthy pan!)
You've heard of Heady Topper? Focal Banger? The coveted cans from that brewery in Waterbury?
Those who brave the hour-long beverage-store queues to get cases and four-packs of the Alchemist's famed ales now have another option. Yesterday at 2 p.m., the Alchemist cut the ribbon on a brand-new brewery and visitors center at 100 Cottage Club Road in Stowe. Here, beer aficionados can enjoy a tasting section, retail shop and educational area with full views of the brewing process.
“John and I look forward to being open to the public again,” said Jen Kimmich, who opened the Alchemist with her husband, John, in 2003. “We missed the daily interaction with our community.”
The Stonecutter Spirits headquarters in Middlebury is an impressive place: cool and modern, with plenty of poured concrete and brushed metal. But in the aging room, the casks and the hush more resemble a medieval monastery.
I was there last Friday for a whiskey-release party. Stonecutter has been experimenting with blending booze-making techniques from different traditions, and its Heritage Cask Whiskey is the most recent result.
As co-owner Sas Stewart put it, the spirit is distilled like a bourbon, aged like an Irish whiskey, and finished in wine barrels like a Scotch.
When I'm under the weather, I go to Wilaiwan's Kitchen in Montpelier. The warmth and spice of the Thai dishes invariably clear my head, and I always leave feeling better than when I arrived.
When I'm sad, I go to Wilaiwan's, and I'm cheered by the interplay of flavors in my bowl of rice noodles in broth, or a salad with pungent lime and fish sauce dressing.
I also go to Wilaiwan's when the sun is shining, and I can take my bowl to a nearby bench on State Street and watch politicians go by on their way to or from the golden-domed Capitol.
Truth is, I go to Wilaiwan's Kitchen every chance I get. This is possible in part because every dish is just $9.75, tax included. It's only $2 more to add a fresh rice-paper roll, with its sweet and tangy dipping sauce.
I keep a one-gallon bag of homemade breadcrumbs tucked in the freezer. The bag grows fatter week by week with odd ends of olive loaves, stale bagels, nubs of potato bread and too-old slices of homemade rye. The bread scraps will get slicked with olive oil and toasted into croutons; those that remain will be pulsed in a blender and zipped into the freezer bag. There they remain, until meatballs need making or a pile of spaghetti with herbs and cream begs for an extra hit of texture.
Currently, I have a favorite way to use those breadcrumbs waiting in my freezer. Determined to celebrate asparagus season as long as possible, I blanketed a platter of fat, roasted spears with toasted breadcrumbs and a few poached eggs. The runny orange yolks — courtesy of hens Alice, Riggs, Garfield, Houdini and George Costanza (yup, I know they're female) — mingle with the tender-sweet stalks and golden breadcrumbs for a dish that meets all go-to notes of color, flavor and texture. Here’s the recipe.
If there's one thing my kitchen garden does really well, it's grow herbs. Like clockwork, thyme blooms around the summer solstice, sending up charming little columns of flowers that seem to last for weeks. To eat, these blooms are somewhat milder than the leaves, tender and sweet, with light tannic notes (thyme is, after all, a woody herb) and a hint of licorice.
I’ve hit my fair share of creemee stands. Vermont Cookie Love on Route 7 sees me regularly for a cappuccino creemee. At Goodies Snack Bar, I count the days until the multitiered maple creemee is back in rotation. Sama's Cafe is right around the corner from my house, so it's all too easy to appear at its walk-up window for a chocolate-vanilla twist.
But, as much as I love a creemee in a wafer cone, sometimes I want to savor a different summer symbol: the milkshake.
Many people who eat out have come to accept the $15-plus burger-and-fries as inevitable fact. After all, beef is pricey — often $8 per pound, or more if it's local, organic or grassfed. So is the crisp Vermont lettuce, tomato slice and the labor that made the bun, pickle and condiments in-house.
But most diners who prioritize quality over pennies are willing to pay the asking price when a burger craving hits, and restaurants add value by serving hulking third- or half-pound patties with a veritable mountain of potatoes. Usually, I'll order a burger knowing I'll eat half of it and save the rest for later.
During the final year that I owned my Montpelier restaurant, Salt, I dispensed with regular menus. Instead, each night I prepared a tasting menu — a parade of small bites, designed to showcase the best of whatever was in season. While tasting menus allow chefs to be playful in the kitchen, which is a professional boon, I chose the format for several other reasons, too. For one thing, after I switched, I wasted so much less food.
Think about it: Customers expect restaurants never to run out of the dishes they want, but the only way to have enough scallops for everyone who might order them is to have more scallops than people are going to eat. And when you have one of those nights when nobody orders scallops? You make scallop chowder the next day. And all of the extra scallop chowder left at the end of that night? Trash. Compost. Bye-bye.
So, yeah, tasting menus. You only cook what you’re planning to serve. And you only order what you’re going to cook. What a concept! Tasting menus have been my favorite way to dine since long before I understood the behind-the-scenes reasons for their awesomeness. So, I was excited to receive an invitation to a tasting dinner at a pop-up restaurant called Elm, located in Philamena’s at 41 Elm Street in Montpelier.