West Hill House B&B

Category Archives: Food & Drink

Very Yummy Granola

March 9, 2015 by Susan

Stirring it up:

Our guests love this granola. It takes little time to prepare and packs a good measure of fiber into your daily diet. Granola is great sprinkled on fruit, eaten as breakfast cereal or used  as a topping for a fruit crisp or ice cream!

Tastes as good as it looks.

Tastes as good as it looks.

Very Yummy Granola

  • 4 cups oats (not quick oats)
  • 1 cup corn flakes
  • 1 cup grape nut flakes
  • 1 cup coconut
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ to ½ cup real maple syrup or honey
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • ¾ cup golden raisins
  • ¾ cup Craisins

Mix all dry ingredients together in big a bowl, except raisins, craisins and dates and any other dried fruit you use—they will be added later.

Mix liquids together and pour over dry ingredients.

Stir well until completely moistened.

Spread evenly on a large jelly roll pan which you have lined with parchment paper or very lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake in 350°F oven for about 25 minutes, but keep an eye on it as it will go from toasted to burnt, quickly.

Stir 3 or 4 times during cooking – this is important so that the oats toast evenly,  you want them to be golden brown.

Add fruits after baking is done and while the oat mixture is still warm.

Cool completely then store in an air-tight container.

Experiment with ingredient, more nuts, different dried fruits, chocolate chips, wheat germ, ground flax… remember to adjust the amount of syrup and oil when you add dry ingredients. Dice larger pieces of dried fruit such as apricots, peaches or the like, into raisin sized bits.

Have fun and enjoy the fruits, nuts and oats of your labour.

Dishing it out:

Growing up, granola was a staple in our home. My dad had his special recipe and for years I thought this was the only taste for granola. Not that Dad’s recipe wasn’t good, actually it was quite wonderful, it’s just that I guessed it was the recipe everyone used. I was soon set straight on that one, and when I cook,  Dad’s words echo in my mind, “Be creative and never be afraid to experiment.” His granola recipe?  He was creative and made it up himself. Thanks Dad!

Icelandic Vínarterta – A Shortbread Style Cake

January 14, 2015 by Susan

At breakfast on January first I presented our guests with my variation of  the Icelandic dessert Vínarterta, a Shortbread and Prune Jam Layer Cake. If you want to learn more about our amazing Icelandic Experience check our January 5, 2015 blog.

So, with thanks to the Icelandic cooks for the inspiration which I gained from the Vínarterta recipe and apologies to Icelandic cooks for the changes I made to their much enjoyed special occasion cake, as promised, here is my recipe.

The Spread

  • 5 oz dried apricots,  finely chopped
  • 7 oz, dried figs,  finely chopped
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 T. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. ground cloves
  • 3/4 c. cranberry juice

Put these ingredients into a blender and puree. Add a bit of water or more cranberry juice if this seems too thick to puree. The resulting spread should be on the thick side. This will make enough spread for the dessert as well as a good amount which can be kept for toast, muffins or filling for a small genoise cake.

The Cake

  • 3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. ground cardamom
  • 1 c. (two sticks) butter slightly softenedThe West Hill House B&B version of Vínarterta.
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c. whole milk

Mix the flour, baking powder and cardamom together in a bowl and set aside.  In a larger bowl, by hand or with a mixer, cream the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients and milk alternately, mixing between additions. Transfer the dough to a floured board and knead for about one minute. Break dough into balls about the size of a large walnut. With a floured rolling pin, roll out each ball on the floured board, to a thin circle (about 1/6″ thick) and about 4″ across. Carefully lift the dough and place it on a parchment covered jelly roll pan and chill for at least one hour. I  covered my pans with plastic wrap and chilled them overnight. This dough is not like a cake dough, it is more like we’d call shortbread.

Bake chilled dough on the parchment lined pan in a 375° oven for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it though!

Cool then spread with the fig and apricot jam and top with a slice of pear and enjoy.

Icing  (I didn’t use icing on my presentation)

  • 2 c. icing sugar
  • 1/4 c. brewed coffee, chilled

The traditional method of preparing this cake is to baking circles 7″ across, cooling them then spreading a very thick jam on each layer except the top layer. Stack the jam covered circles and pour the icing over top of the whole thing and chill it until the icing is firm. Slice and serve. Friends in Iceland tell me that using a thick jam between the cake layers should make the cake pretty sturdy and able to be cut neatly. My next try at this will be to make Vínarterta in the traditional way. Wish  me luck!

An Icelandic Experience

January 5, 2015 by Susan

Iceland , ‘The land of Ice and Fire’. If you have ever dreamed of an Icelandic holiday, stop dreaming and go!

As we have in past years, we kicked of 2015 by watching and listening to, via a live web cam , the midnight fireworks from Reykjavik, Iceland.  The closer it got to midnight the more fireworks lit the dark sky Icelandic. It seemed as though every family in the city was illuminating the sky with their own fireworks display.

Why, you might ask, do we do this? In April of 2002 our family explored Iceland and had an absolutely amazing time; even our teenaged son had a wonderful experience! From the moment we spotted Iceland from the plane till the moment it disappeared from view when we flew home, we were captivated.

In researching travel to this island country I discovered Isafold Travel which operates out of Reykjavík. After correspondence with the owner, Jón Baldur Þorbjörnsson, we booked a private tour and were all set to start out on an Icelandic adventure. The people we met were very friendly and their English was waaaaaay better than our (non-existent) Icelandic! The landscape seemed to change with every kilometer we traveled, the waterfalls were spectacular, the views breathtaking, and, because we were there at the end of winter, every spot of green grass was a sign of spring and greeted with exclamations of joy.

The Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon

Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon was our first stop and shouldn’t be missed by anyone traveling to Iceland. The geothermally heated water is a comforting 38°C (100°F). The turquoise blue colour is a result of  the silica which the water picks up on its way to the surface and the way the sunlight reflects off it. Enjoying the many spa related facilities there or just enjoying the water makes a good start or finish to any Icelandic adventure.

Water from rocks!

Water from rocks!

Of the many waterfalls we stopped to gaze upon, Gullfoss, Skógafoss, and Hraunfossar were our favourites. Each spectacular in its own way and each with a captivating legend. Hraunfossar was perhaps the most geologically interesting as it flows underground from between the layers of lava then spills into the icy Havítá River.

Þingvellir was another stop on our adventure. Here marks the meeting of two tectonic plates, the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate, and a rift is clearly visible. In places it is very wide and in other places along the rift anyone with a good wide step can have one foot on each plate. It also marks the location of Althing, Iceland’s original parliament, the oldest parliament in the world, where for hundreds of years people of this nation would gather to discuss issues of concern and make laws to govern.

Icelandic Lobster

Icelandic Lobster

The food was delicious! We enjoyed langoustine (Icelandic lobster), wholesome multigrain breads, thick stews, skyr, bananas—grown in Iceland by the way!—and yes, a taste of rotten shark meat, which wasn’t really that bad.

The country is dotted with sites and sounds which in various ways record the history of Iceland:  historic turf homes, small country churches,  original farmsteads, museums illustrating early domestic life as well as detailing the life of Icelandic folk who emigrated to North America, The Great Geysir, volcanoes, glaciers, music, the list goes on.

Guests at West Hill House B&B have come from all around the world (including from Iceland!) and many have traveled the world bringing back special memories of their adventures. Doubtless there will be a time, perhaps in the morning around the breakfast table or in the evening in the living room, when adventures are recalled and shared. We might hear of driving in Australia with kangaroos hopping across the roadways or a trip to Europe to hike in the Alps, or a journey to China to see the Great Wall and the Terra Cotta Army.  All who listen travel vicariously as a stories unfolds. If asked about a favourite adventure of ours, we are always happy to recount highlights of our wonderful time in Iceland.

At breakfast on January first I presented our guests with my variation of  the Icelandic dessert Vínarterta, a Shortbread and Prune Jam Layer Cake which was enjoyed by all. As promised, you’ll find my recipe if you check West Hill House B&B recipes.

 

Scottish Christmas Remembered

December 22, 2014 by Susan

At this time of year many of us pause to remember Christmases past. Do you remember receiving a special dress your mother made for you, or a the doll you were wishing for, or a new book by your favourite author (and you still have that book today)?  Perhaps you received a model train or Meccano set. Did you attend a Pantomime or the Nutcracker during the Christmas season? Do you remember hot cocoa with marshmallows and special baked goods on Christmas morning? Or perhaps a big family dinner after the presents were opened, did it feature ham, turkey, tourtière or haggis?

One of the fondest memories people have of this special season is of food, we bake (and eat!) cookies and special cakes, we bring out the eggnog, peppermint candy canes, ribbon candy, and oranges for the stockings. We prepare special meals and we invite friends to join us around the table. Food traditions are a big part of this season.

In Scotland Christmas Day didn’t become a public holiday until 1958, Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) was, and still is, the big public holiday. Today as Christmas approaches, the winter days are short, with sunrise about 8:30 in the morning and dark skies again at about 3:30 in the afternoon so Christmas celebrations help to brighten up the long wintry evenings. A fire is set in the sitting room, the drapes are pulled against the darkness of the evening and in the kitchen a flurry of activity takes place as mincemeat pies are popped into the oven, fruit cake with thick marzipan icing is wrapped for giving to neighbours, and  preparations are made for the Christmas evening feast. Particular consideration is given to pudding (the general name for desserts of all kinds), would it be Sherry Trifle, Clootie Dumpling or perhaps Dundee Cake? Hmmm, this year for a memorable pudding, let’s try Cranachan, a lovely, creamy fruit and oat creation.

At West Hill House B&B this Christmas Dinner our guests will enjoy this scrumptious ‘pudding’ made following recipe I have used and adapted from the BBC Good Food. The number of servings depends on the size of the presentation glass but I’d say about 4 servings. The recipe is fairly happy to be adjusted according to your taste.

Ingredients:

Creamy and crunchy at the same time.

Creamy and crunchy at the same time.

  • 3T  original rolled oats (not instant oatmeal)
  • 1 cup of whole raspberries, blueberries or strawberries,
  • 1 t. white sugar (optional)
  • 1 1/2 c. heavy cream, whipped  or Greek yogurt
  • 2-3 T. good whisky
  • 3 T. honey, lavender honey is especially nice

Putting this together should take about 15 minutes.

Place the oatmeal on a jelly roll pan under the broiler and toast until it smells nutty. This may happen very quickly so keep a careful eye and nose on what’s going on in the oven.

Remove from the oven and cool the oatmeal on the pan.

Take about 1/3 to 1/2 of the berries and puree them, adding the white sugar if needed for sweetness.

Whip the heavy cream while slowly adding the whisky until the cream will hold a peak. Be careful not to over whip. If you are using Greek yogurt instead of cream, carefully stir the whisky into the yogurt.

Fold in the oatmeal until it is nicely mixed.

Present in clear glass dessert dishes alternating layers of the cream mixture with the whole and pureed berries.

Drizzle the top with the honey.

Cool for a few minutes prior to serving.

Where ever you are on Christmas day, what ever your Christmas meal, may you be around a table with special friends and wish them, as we wish you, Merry Christmas and all the best for the coming year.

 

 

 

 

Amazing Peanut Butter Cookies

November 24, 2014 by Susan

Stirring it up:

These peanut butter cookies could be called by any number of names: I Can’t Believe It! Magic!, Too Simple To Be True!, the list could go on and you are welcome to make up your own name for these delicious, miraculously quick cookies. Amazing Peanut Butter Cookies will have to do for now. Perfect to whip up if unexpected guests drop in and, like Old Mother Hubbard, your cookie cupboard is bare. Amazing Peanut Butter Cookies can be created in 5 minutes and cooked in 15 minutes fresh cookies can be ready by the time the coffee is perked or the tea kettle is boiled.

IMG_2428

Amazing Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 measures of tender loving care!

Measure the peanut butter, sugar and egg into a bowl.

Mix together until smooth. The batter will be slightly thick.

Using a scoop or teaspoons, scoop out dough about the size of a walnut.

Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

If desired, pattern the dough by pressing with a fork or by dressing it up with a chocolate chip. If you are making larger cookies use a Hershey’s Kiss- unwrapped of course! I leave the cookies in their rounded state prior to cooking so they flatten out while they cook becoming crackled on top and slightly chewy in the center.

Bake for 15 minutes at 350°F. Keep an eye on them.

Cool on the pan for a few minutes then remove to racks to continue cooling.

Serve with tea, coffee, milk or just a plate!

Makes about 24 amazing peanut butter cookies. They freeze well so you can stock up for the holidays.

Dishing it out:

My Dad would have loved these cookies – peanut butter was a favorite; on toast, with carrots or celery, with a spoon!, with just about anything. I remember as a child we always had peanut butter in the pantry and in two or three pound jars. We even had peanut butter in large bear shaped glass jars and I still have a couple of these jars, empty of course!

Peanut butter is a staple many North American kitchens but not so in the United Kingdom or Europe. When growing up in Scotland, Peter seldom had peanut butter and when living in France we only found peanut butter in pricy, small containers.

This recipe is from amazing peanut butter lovers like Carol and Colin who were guests here at West Hill House B&B while attending the 50th year reunion of Vermont College and Norwich Military Academy respectively. Carol mentioned that Colin liked peanut butter cookies and she proceeded to give me this recipe. I’m not prone to disbelieving recipes which are shared with me, and I’m usually ready to experiment, so I made these cookies then and there and about 20 minutes later presented Colin with a plate of his favourite amazing peanut butter cookies. Give the recipe a try, I’ll bet you say, “I can’t believe it, these are amazing peanut butter cookies!”

Learn more about things that include peanuts – check out the information on George Washington Carver.

Fresh from the Farm

May 6, 2014 by Susan

If you live in or near a farming community you have doubtless heard of CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, which enables consumers to purchase local, seasonal produce direct from the farmer.Unknown

Farmers and consumers both benefit from the CSA scenario. Farmers have time to market their food before the start of their long days in the fields, they receive payment for their produce early in the season which helps with their cash flow, and they have the opportunity to meet the people who purchase the results of their labors.

Consumers benefit as well with absolutely fresh food full of vitamins and flavor, they learn about new foods and new recipes, they know where their food is coming from, and they develop a relationship with “their farmer(s)”.

Here in the Mad River Valley there are several CSA programs underway and we recently bought a “share” in Muddy Boots, a CSA collaborative effort between three organic farms, Kingsbury Market Garden, Wood’s Market Garden and Burnt Rock Farm. Other smaller producers will also be involved  so we will have the option of also receiving fresh bread, butter, sunflower oil, dry beans and a variety of other wonderful items.

Claytonia

Claytonia ready for harvest.

Aaron prepares his tractor,

Aaron prepares his tractor


Muddy Boots recently had an open house where we met one of “our farmers”, Aaron of Kingsbury Market Garden, who was getting his tractor ready for onion planting, and Marisa of Bragg Farm in Fayston, one of the smaller producers, who will be providing butter and cheese products.

Not only did we meet these two, we met a new-to-us food, Claytonia, which is quite delicate in appearance, tastes somewhat sweet, is full of vitamin C and will make a lovely addition to a salad of fresh greens.

This year at West Hill House B&B we will be incorporating items from our CSA share into our breakfasts so you, our guests, will be able to taste fresh, farm-to-tummy produce from our neighbors.

Rosettes

March 31, 2014 by Susan


new rosette photo
Stirring it up: Here’s an easy recipe for a simply delicious and delicate treat. While easy, this recipe should be undertaken when you have no other distractions as you will be cooking with very hot oil. You will need rosette irons and handle as pictured here with the completed rosettes. The recipe for the sandbakkkels (the three cookies scolloped cookies)  will be posted before long.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 t. vanilla sugar or 2 t. white sugar plus 1 t. of an extract of choice
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • Canola oil

Whisk together the eggs, vanilla sugar and milk.

Sift together the flour and salt then whisk it into the egg mixture and whisk till smooth.

Attach an iron to the handle.

In a large, heavy pan heat 2 to 3 inches of Canola oil to between 360°F and 365°F. Keep a careful eye on the oil so that it does not get hotter during the cooking process.

CAREFULLY dip the iron into the hot oil.|

Remove the iron from the oil and dip it into the batter just deep enough to come up to the top edge of the sides of the iron. Do not cover the iron with  batter.

Now, submerge the iron into the hot oil just long enough to turn the rosette a light golden brown. If the rosette falls off the iron, use a chopstick or a long handled roasting fork to remove it from the oil.

Remove the iron from the oil and place the rosette on a paper towel to cool. If the rosette doesn’t come off the iron easily, use a kitchen knife to gently press it off.

If you wish to change the iron to another shape remember, the iron may be extremely hot so use a pot holder to cover the iron when unscrewing it from the handle.

Cool completely. Just before serving sprinkle with powdered sugar.

This recipe makes about 25 large rosettes.

Dishing it out: Called struva in Swedish, these delicate treats were not common in our family, maybe because there were four of us kids and Mom had little time to stand over a hot pan of oil without one or the other of us needing (or wanting!) her full attention. When she did make these, usually for a special occasion, she would always save one for each of us. A rosette covered with powdered sugar and a cup of  “tea” was about as special a tea-party as any child could wish for.

Enjoy!

Chinese Chews

March 23, 2014 by Susan

Stirring it up!

These bars are quick and easy to make, perfect when you need a little something to go along with an afternoon cuppa. Dates add a special sweetness and walnuts give a nice crunch to each bite. This recipe does not call for any butter or shortening.

Ingredients:

tempting Chinese Chews.

Tempting Chinese Chews.

  • 2/3 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 3/4 c. sugar, white
  • 1 c. dates,  pitted and chopped
  • 1 c. walnuts, chopped
  • 2 eggs, well-beaten
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • confectioners sugar

Stir the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Add sugar, dates and nuts, then stir in the eggs and vanilla.

Spread about 1/2″ thick in a well greased or parchment lined 9″ x 9″ square pan.

Bake at 325°F  for 25 to 30 minutes.

Cut into small squares while still warm and dust with confectioners sugar.

Dishing it out:

Apparently this recipe was first published in Good Housekeeping magazine in 1917 but by all accounts, why the name Chinese Chews, remains a mystery. While this recipe may not be the same as the early version, my mom made these from a recipe in her trusty Five Roses Flour cookbook,  A Guide to Good Cooking. My copy of the same cookbook is filled with annotated recipes on well worn pages, several of which are held in the book with tape.  The recipe actually called for the squares, once cool enough to handle, to be rolled into balls then dusted with sugar. I never remember having them rolled but no matter the shape, the taste is great and they are chewy! One drawback though, they are so good they won’t last long!

German Pancakes

March 23, 2014 by Peter MacLaren

Stirring it up:

For all of you who have been after me for the recipe I use to make German Pancakes, here it is. This is a simple recipe for one serving and can easily be increased depending on how many hungry folks are at the table.

 Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. all purpose flour or sifted bread flour
  • 1/4 c. milk (2% is just fine)

    Yumm, German pancake for breakfast.

  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. butter
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of cinnamon or nutmeg

This recipe is for one serving. Increase it by the number you are feeding. I have found that using a 10″  (25cm) round, pyrex pie dish and trebling the recipe makes 4 good servings.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C)

Place the butter in the baking dish (size is dependent on the number you are feeding) and place it in the oven when the oven reaches 400°F  (200°C). Leave it there while you proceed but be careful the butter does not burn.

Combine all the ingredients in a food process or blender and blend until just smooth. A wire whisk will do the job however the batter will not be as smooth.

When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the oven. Pour in the pancake batter and put the pan back into the oven. Be careful  as the butter and the pan are extremely hot and the batter may make the butter splatter a bit.  

Bake for 12-18 minutes depending on the size of your pancake. You want around the edges to be puffed up and the center to be just firm. I tend to use a lower temperature than similar recipes call for,   I find the pancake stays thicker in the middle while still being puffy around the edge.

The pancake will start to deflate as soon as it comes out of the oven so serve it immediately.

Top each serving with fresh fruit, some powdered sugar, and sausage or two along side, and you have a very yummy breakfast. Oh, and if you have a sweet tooth, add some real maple syrup.

Tip: Sometimes I dice apples or peaches, cook them in some butter in a separate pan until they are soft and add them to the batter once it is poured into the hot buttered baking dish. Makes a nice change from a plain pancake.

Dishing it out:

These are also sometimes called Dutch Babies. ‘Dutch’ relates to the German-American immigrants who were known as the Pennsylvania Dutch— Dutch being of course a corruption of the word Deutsch which is German for, well, German!  My great-grandmother, Ursula, came to the United States from Germany when she was a child and I can only imagine that she would have loved eating this wonderful eggy breakfast treat.

Spring Dates for the Vermont Bed and Brew Package!

March 20, 2014 by Corey A. Edwards

Vermont Bed and Brew

If you like craft beer and vacations, have we got the deal for you: the Vermont Bed and Brew Package is back for Spring. And we call it our “Brews and Snooze” special!

That’s right, all you micro brew beer enthusiasts should sit up and take notice so you don’t miss an opportunity that you can’t (or at least probably shouldn’t) refuse:

Mad River Valley’s Chamber of Commerce is once again offering you a chance to tour and sample the offerings of our local, award-winning, craft breweries, plus two or more nights lodging – what a deal!

You know the Mad River Valley for its skiing, its incredibly photogenic autumn foliage, its unique and welcoming communities, and, if you’re a beer enthusiast, all the great, craft breweries in the area. Touring them is a treat but can be logistically difficult: who drives? With the Vermont Bed and Brew Package, you can sit back and leave the driving to somebody else!

Here’s how the tour works – You get picked up from the B&B at 10am by a 14-seat tour bus, complete with coolers for your purchases, that takes you to:

You’ll also receive:

  • a gift box containing hearty snacks and unique treats
  • Specials to restaurants and shops in and around the Mad River Valley
  • a unique, Mad River Valley 6oz tasting glass to use at the breweries and take home

 

Vermont Bed and Beer Package

Spring Dates: April 26, May 17 and May 31, 2014
More details are shown on our “Brews and Snooze” special!

Now, call us biased, but we don’t think you could do any better than West Hill House B&B, right here in Mad River Valley, when it comes to lodging for the Vermont Bed and Brew Package, so don’t forget to select West Hill House B&B as your choice of accommodation – or we can book it for you but call soon because space is limited.

See you then!

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