Go Local Magazine - March 2017 Issue

As winter melts into spring, Go Local Magazine's March issue urges its readers to come out of their self-imposed hibernation and discover some of the amazing people that make the CT/MA line a great place to live. This month’s magazine includes features on Go Local’s own fabulous photog Jackie Sidor, Murphy’s Pub in Agawam (perfect for a St. Patty’s Day outing), local dairy Hastings Family Farm in Suffield (written by Amy), Enfield Auto Restoration and more. Some great new products like juices and smoothies made by My Main Squeeze in East Longmeadow; Job's Hill Provision’s sauces, salsas, pickles and more from Ellington; and seven maple syrup sugarmakers boiling local sap this spring are highlighted throughout the issue. The featured recipe on the “Go Eat” page is A Couple in the Kitchen’s Maple Cheddar Dutch Baby, one of our newest recipes that would pair perfectly with some of that local maple syrup. You can read your copy online here or visit one of our local businesses to pick up your March issue - it's free!!! 


Quickie King Cake

Sometimes Mardi Gras sneaks up on you. You wouldn't think so, as it is a set day every year - the day before Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter, and the whole Mardi Gras season actually starts on Three Kings Day (January 6) so, again, you think you'd have time to plan. Well, Mardi Gras snuck up on us. We managed to (barely) get our crawfish order in on time to have them delivered on Fat Tuesday, but the king cakes were outrageously expensive, if not sold out entirely. 

Amy hemmed and hawed and finally came up with a plan, inspired by a can of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls in the fridge and the vague memory of making some sort of stuffed holiday wreath appetizer with them at someone's Pampered Chef party years ago.

This particular version is simple enough to be worthy of the Big Easy itself, where King Cake rules tables in office lunch rooms and teacher lounges for the first two months of the year. Someone starts by bringing in the first cake, and the person who finds a plastic baby in their slice gets the dubious honor luck of bringing in the next one. Needless to say, King Cake has ruined many a New Year's resolution. 

The colors of Mardi Gras have meaning, so remember that when you are decorating - purple stands for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. And don't forget to put a plastic mini baby doll (or dried kidney bean) somewhere inside for luck.

If Mardi Gras snuck up on you, too, you still have time to grab a few ingredients and make this quickie version before midnight rolls around. 

Happy Mardi Gras! Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Quickie King Cake 

1 8-ounce container whipped cream cheese
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cans refrigerated croissant/crescent roll dough
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 plastic mini baby doll or dried kidney bean
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk
purple, green and gold colored sugar

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350F.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the cream cheese, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of the vanilla, and the cinnamon until well-combined. 

2. Unroll each piece of dough in a circle with the flat sides of the triangles on the outside of the circle and the pointed ends of the triangles in the center of the circle, slightly overlapping each other. 

3. Spoon the cream cheese mixture about half way out, then sprinkle with the chopped pecans, if using. Place the baby somewhere on there.

4. Flip each piece of dough over the cream cheese mixture and press on it the seam in the center so it doesn't leak out.

5. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, until golden brown and allow to cool completely.

6. Whisk together the sugar, milk and remaining teaspoon of vanilla to make the glaze. Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake, allowing it to drip over the sides.

7. While the glaze is still wet, decorate with purple, green and gold sugar.


Maple Cheddar Dutch Baby, Baby!

It's a SNOW DAY, which in this two-teacher house means sleeping in and making something fancy for brunch. Today's fanciness is a Maple Cheddar Dutch Baby, a light, airy oven pancake with a savory flair. We have to give props to the food artisans in Vermont for this one, though. First, we love Grafton Village Maple Smoked Cheddar, which is made right outside of Brattleboro, and we sprinkled this on top as we put the batter into the oven. Not only did that offer a cheddary tang, but it crisped the top of the Dutch baby perfectly. A drizzle of maple syrup made by Amy's cousins at Maplehurst Farm in Greensboro, right when it came out of the oven, heightened the maple flavor. 

Maple Cheddar Dutch Baby
(serves 2-4)

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
1/3 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup shredded Maple Smoked Cheddar cheese
sea salt

Preheat oven to 425F (this is very important!). Whisk together the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Whisk the wet and dry ingredients until they are combined. Melt the butter in a 12-inch, preferably cast iron skillet, over medium heat. Let the butter cook until it is brown (2-3 minutes) and swirl it so it coats the whole bottom of the skillet. Pour in the batter and sprinkle the whole thing with the cheese and a pinch of sea salt. Place the skillet in the oven and cook until puffed up and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve with real maple syrup. Or Amy will hunt you down and she can not be responsible for what happens after that. 


Go Local Magazine - February 2017 Issue

The latest issue of Go Local Magazine is in circulation around its free distribution spots and this month's theme is a celebration of love, just in time for Valentine's Day.  

There's quite a few foodie stories this month. The cover story celebrates the love and work of George and Fred Koulisis, the couple behind Stafford House of Pizza and Basil's Restaurant who have been married for 45 years and are still going strong. And speaking of restaurants, this month marks the debut of "Local Dish," a monthly feature on our favorite local eateries, such as this month's Crazy Jake's in Wilbraham. Amy wrote the article on the Ellington Winter Farmers Market, and A Couple in the Kitchen's recipe for Flourless Chocolate Walnut Torte (page 25) is the perfect dessert for your romantic V-Day dinner. But if you don't feel like baking, there's a list of "7 Heavenly Sweet Shops" that will do it for you.

Sharing the love this issue is a group trying to preserve the Farm at Hilltop in Suffield, developed by Indian Motorcycle co-founder George Hendee. "Local Tails" focuses on the K9 unit in Wilbraham, and who doesn't love those hard-working dogs and the officers who work with them? 

Of course, those are just a few of things you can read about in the February issue. There's a whole lot more, so go ahead and read it here now or get your copy at any one of these Go Local businesses and advertisers!

Happy Valentine's Day!


Sesame-Pistachio Napoleons

We were picked to enter the Simply Sesame Blogger Recipe Challenge and we are excited to share our recipe entry with you. But first, a little bit about Simply Sesame - these are all-natural creamy sesame spreads that are perfect for spreading, dipping, spooning or frosting. They have the texture of peanut butter and a hint of pure cane sugar for a sweet balance to the rich, nutty sesame taste. 

Right now, there are three varieties, but the flavor we chose to play with is the one with pistachio morsels and a hint of cardamom. It reminded us a lot of Middle Eastern cuisine, and so we decided to do a play on baklava and made Sesame-Pistachio Napoleons.

With baked puff pastry as our base, we folded the sesame spread into some freshly whipped cream. After assembling our napoleons, we garnished them with additional chopped pistachios and some confectioners' sugar. Voila! Simple, elegant, and delicious!

Sesame-Pistachio Napoleons
Makes 6


1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package of frozen puff pastry (1 sheet), thawed
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup Simply Sesame Pistachio
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
6 whole pistachio nuts
confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unfold thawed pastry sheet. Cut into three strips, then cut each strip into 4 rectangles. Place the 12 rectangles on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Split each pastry into two layers, making 24 in all. Set aside 6 top pastry layers.

Whip cream in a large bowl until thick. Fold in the Simply Sesame Pistachio spread. Using a spatula, top 6 bottom pastry layers with cream. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and top with another pastry layer. Repeat this process twice, then top with the final pastry layer. You should have 6 Napoleons of 4 layers each. Garnish with a small dollop of whipped cream and a whole pistachio, then sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

You can find out more about Simply Sesame spreads on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, and you can order them through their website.


Go Local Magazine - January 2017 Issue

So we're two weeks late, but Happy New Year! This month's issue of Go Local Magazine is out and has a bunch of inspiring stories and new features to ring in 2017.

For one of this month's stories, Amy had the honor of interviewing some Ellington High School students who have trained to be EMRs and EMTs through the unique Ellington Rescue Post 512. For those whose resolutions include improving their bodies and spirits, there's a feature on SWEAT Power Yoga in East Longmeadow. More inspiration comes from a feature on DopaFit, fitness classes specifically tailored toward people with Parkinson's disease. And you can learn more about New England's iconic stone walls from Somers resident Charles Crary, owner of True North Stoneworks.

This month's "Go Eat" recipe for Sweet Potato Chipotle Bisque comes from our friend, local personal chef and caterer Lise Jaeger, who teaches cooking classes in various spots in CT. Fat-free and full of flavor, it's a nutritious choice for the new year.

There's even more to read about in the January Go Local, so read it here now or get your copy at any one of these Go Local businesses and advertisers!

Happy 2017!


Bloody B.L.T.

Farewell, 2016. You were not the best year, that is for sure, and we're not sorry to see you go. We welcome 2017 a week after the fact on a snowy Saturday meant for brunch and cocktails. In fact, a few weeks ago, we registered to take part in the Stirrings "Stir It Up Holiday Blogger Mixology Challenge" and after some experimentation, we think we've finalized our entry.

We hereby give you The Bloody B.L.T. - the cocktail version of the simple yet perfect bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. It's made with Stirrings Bloody Mary Mix and bacon-infused vodka but everyone knows the best part of a Bloody Mary is the garnish. This one has grilled romaine lettuce and a perfectly crisp rasher of bacon along with some chopped bacon bits on the rim. Indulgent, yes, but just what the New Year ordered. CHEERS!

Bloody B.L.T.
makes one cocktail


8 ounces Stirrings Simple Bloody Mary Cocktail Mix
2 ounces bacon-infused vodka
1 slice cooked bacon
1 leaf romaine lettuce, preferably grilled
1 wedge lemon or lime
bacon bits for the glass rim

Pour some bacon bits onto a small plate. Use the lemon or lime to moisten the rim of a glass, then press the rim of the glass into the bacon bits. Fill the glass with ice, then add the vodka and cocktail mix; stir to combine. Garnish with lettuce and bacon.

You can get more information on Stirrings cocktail Mixers on their social media including their Facebook page, Twitter @stirringsmixers, Instagram @stirrings and Pinterest page. Stirrings Cocktail Mixers are available locally at Total Wine and More, Stew Leonard's, and M&R Wine and Spirits. #STIRRINGSMIXOLOGYCONTEST


Cranberry Curd Tartlets

Thanksgiving may have come and gone but fresh cranberries aren't just for holiday cranberry sauce. These sweet-tart, juicy berries are grown on vines in bogs that were originally created by glacial deposits, and thrive in the Southeastern part of Massachusetts, which happens to be Amy's home state. Cranberries possess a variety of health benefits, most notably that they are packed with Vitamin C and antioxidants, and are known to assist in urinary and digestive health. Fall is when cranberries are harvested, so fresh cranberries are plentiful now. 

We've made lemon curd before, which you can read about here, and while looking at a beautiful bag of fresh cranberries in the store, Amy wondered if one could make cranberry curd by heating up the cranberries to get the juice out of them. There would be only one way to find out! 

We heated the cranberries with sugar, orange juice and orange zest until the pop-pop-popping of the berries told us they were done. We squeezed the sugary juice into a bowl, and created a curd by adding eggs, egg yolks and butter. After it cooled, we piped it into those little store-bought phyllo mini-cups and baked them for about 10 minutes so they could set. The color was a little strange (Amy likened it to a slightly darker pink than Pepto-Bismol) but otherwise, these were creamy, tangy, sweet and crunchy all at once. The orange flavor was a bit too strong, so next time we would probably add only the orange zest.

Cranberry Curd Tartlets
Makes 30 

1 lb. bag fresh cranberries
1 cup granulated sugar
juice and zest of one large orange
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 packages mini-phyllo shells

Place cranberries, sugar, orange juice and orange zest in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until cranberries pop and soften to let out their juice (about 10 minutes). Press through a sieve into a large bowl. Cut the stick of butter into four pieces and whisk the pieces into the warm cranberry liquid. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and egg yolks. Slowly add a half-cup of the cranberry liquid into the eggs, whisking quickly to temper the eggs. Then continue to pour the remaining cranberry liquid into the eggs and whisk to combine. Return the mixture to the pot and cook over low heat, constantly stirring, until thick and bubbling, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then pipe or spoon the curd into the phyllo cups. Bake the tartlets at 350 for 10 minutes to set. 


Go Local Magazine - December 2016 Issue

It's the holidays, and Go Local Magazine's December issue has plenty of features to inspire you to make this year's season your best yet. 

Several of this month's articles focus on unique holiday traditions, including: 
  • A woman in Stafford Springs who practices and teaches the art of Japanese Temari 
  • The residents of Greenleaf Drive in Hampden, who have made their street a celebration of Christmas since the 1970s 
  • Balboni's Bakery, where baking has been a tradition in Agawam for 100 years and counting 
  • Silver Bell Farm in Monson, where Holiday cheer abounds with sleigh rides, treats, and visits from Santa.
Amy had a chance to sit and speak to Rabbi James Greene of the Springfield Jewish Community Center about how family, tradition and community intermingle especially well this time of year, and that conversation is the topic of the article "Hannukah in New England."

In addition to all of those great articles, there is a list of "7 Ways to Spread Holiday Cheer," directions on how to make a DIY Snowy Candle-lit Jar, a list of local gift ideas and a holiday recipe round-up that includes A Couple in the Kitchen's "Rum Balls" and "Grapefruit Sparklers."

All of this and so much more can be found in the December 2016 issue of your favorite FREE local magazine, Go Local. Read it online here or pick up your copy at a distributor in your local town.


New England Clam Chowder

We went clamming on a recent trip to Cape Cod. Well not really recent, but don't ask us where the last couple of months went. Stock it up to having very busy teachers' lives. 

Amy had never been clamming before, although Chris used to go all the time as a kid. The youngest of seven, Chris spent his summers roaming the beaches of the Cape with his brothers, sisters and cousins, and clamming was a favorite pastime, of course, as it involved mud and tools. He was (is?) that kind of kid.

Of course, it wasn't summer when we went. It was a rainy October Sunday (the picture above is us in Chatham the following afternoon) but we managed to get in about an hour of time with our pail and rake and scored two dozen clams of various sizes, from littlenecks to bordering on what we'd consider a quahog.

We kept them in a cooler overnight then created our own New England-style chowder with them once we were back in our home kitchen. It didn't come out quite as thick as we would have liked, but we were very happy with the flavors, especially how tender and fresh the clams tasted. Next time we might add more flour, or if anyone else has a suggestion on how to thicken it, let us know.

New England Clam Chowder

2 russet potatoes
2 dozen fresh clams
2 onions
2 bay leaves
10 cloves garlic, peeled
20 peppercorns
small bunch fresh parsley
2 teaspoons celery seed
1 cup water
4 ounces diced pancetta
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
1/2 stick butter
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Worcestershire sauce, to taste

Cook the potatoes:
Peel, dice and boil the potatoes until they are tender. Then strain them into a bowl, reserving the water. 

Steam the clams: 
In a large pot put the clams, 1 unpeeled onion cut in half, the bay leaves, 8 of the garlic cloves, pepper corns, parsley, celery seed and water. Put a lid on the pot and place over medium-high heat. Steam the clams until they are all open, 5-7 minutes. Strain the pot into a large bowl, reserving the liquid. Remove the clams from the shells and chop them. 

Make the soup: 
Peel and chop the other onion and remaining 2 cloves of garlic. Wipe out the pot and return it to the stove over medium heat. Brown the pancetta in the pot. Then add the chopped onion, chopped garlic, chopped shallot, thyme and butter to the pot and cook until the onions are translucent. Then add the cooked potatoes and chopped clams. Stir in the flour at that point, and cook until the flour turns golden. Then add the liquids - 1/2 cup of the reserved potato liquid, the reserved clam broth, and the half-and-half. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and season with salt, pepper and/or a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, all to taste.