West Hill House B&B

Category Archives: Food & Drink

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

Serving 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!

Chocolate Mint Cookies

June 16, 2013 by Susan

Stirring it up:

IMG_2120

Help your self.

Who doesn’t like chocolate? And what about chocolate and mint? A yummy combination to be sure. These absolutely delicious chocolate cookies have just a hint of peppermint and pack a mouthful of chocolaty goodness.

Makes 36 cookies
Oven 350F
Bake 5 – 6 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 6 T. canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. baking cocoa
  • 1 T. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. peppermint extract
  • 4 T. milk (whole, 2% or fat free)

In a bowl, beat sugar and oil until crumbly. Add eggs and beat for 1 minute. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and gradually beat into the sugar mixture. Add the milk and mix well

With lightly floured hands roll dough into 36 balls and place 2″ apart on a parchment lined or non-stick sprayed baking sheet. Flatten slightly with your fingers.

Bake at 425° F for 5 – 6 minutes just until the edges are set and the tops crack. Cool a couple of minutes before removing to cooling racks. Enjoy as excellent plain chocolate cookies or make cookie sandwiches with some fluffy vanilla butter icing or you could make larger cookies and make ice cream sandwiches with them – now that would be great for a 4th of July party!

Dishing it out:

Outside our Garden Room we have an herb garden which at this point is growing like crazy because of all the rain we have been having. The first crop of chives has been snipped and dried in the oven for use in the winter and the remaining sprigs have flowered. The flowers make a lovely garnish and are good in soup and cream sauces as well. You’ll see in the photograph that I have put some mint along with the cookies. This isn’t just ordinary mint but chocolate mint. It looks like “regular” mint but it has a chocolate brown stem and it actually smells and tastes like chocolate mint—like the cookies! While I considered chopping the mint and mixing it into the cookies I wasn’t sure how guests would react to bits of green stuff in their cookies. Maybe I’ll try that another time. In the meantime, this mint is really nice floating in black tea or just in hot water. A real treat is mint with strawberries and some whipped cream. There is a tasty summer watermelon salad that has mint, feta cheese, english cucumber among other ingredients—you’ll find that in the June 13, 2010 blog. Happy munching.

Add a Romantic Dinner to your Bed and Breakfast Stay

May 4, 2013 by Katie Pate

Are you looking for a simple Vermont weekend getaway? Having half of your meals covered makes a trip a bit easier to organize, right?

This spring, we are offering our “Add Dinner to a Bed and Breakfast” package. Stay for two nights in the room of your choice and add dinner to one of those evenings. Your meal will take place at the Common Man, one of the best restaurants in central Vermont. You get a three-course meal (selected off the menu) along with coffee and tea.

About the Common Man Restaurant

Common man owners and longtime couple Lorien Wroten and Adam Longworth. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

Common man owners and longtime couple Lorien Wroten and Adam Longworth. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

Over 150 years old, the soaring hand hewn rafters of the timbered interior are lit by crystal chandeliers, soft candlelight, and a huge open hearth fireplace (lit during the cool nights). Now in its fourth decade of continuous operation the restaurant has earned scores of prestigious awards and accolades including Three Stars from both The Boston Globe and the Mobil Travel Guide.

A couple sample items from the menu:

  • Smoked Salmon Burschetta. Red onion, apple, potato, lemon caper aioli
  • Halibut, served with potato, cauliflower, swiss chard, mushroom in a white wine emulsion

See the full menu on the Common Man’s website.

Common Man Reviews from Yelp.com:

“Go. Just go. Get a sitter. Save the money and splurge. It’s worth it.
Boston ain’t New York but I’ve had my fair share of great meals. This makes the ‘Top Ten’ list. Food, service and ambiance combine to make the whole more than the sum of its parts.” – Christopher L. 2/19/13

“Lorien, Adam, and their staff continue to amaze. New York strip was a beautiful cut cooked perfectly with a side of au gratin potatoes that were out of this world. They now have house made blue cheesed stuffed olives for you martini people. The desserts were unbelievable too. The service was impeccable. The Common Man is hands down my favorite restaurant anywhere right now. Do yourself a huge favor and have a meal here next time you are in the Mad River Valley!” – Chris H. 12/20/12

Keep in Mind: This offer is available Tuesday through Saturday night. Please order this dinner add-on when you book your room. Taxes and gratuities for dinner are included. Drinks are additional.

Fantastic Pancakes

February 12, 2013 by Susan

breakfast

Stirring it up: Pancakes…just the name conjures up the sights and smells of a marvelous breakfast. These Ricotta Pancakes are easy to make and will provide you with great taste, fluffy pancakes and enough energy to tackle a day on the slopes.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 T.  sugar
1-2 t. finely grated orange zest
4 T. melted butter
1/2 c. ricotta cheese
1 lg egg
1/2 c. orange juice
1/3 c. milk (or almond milk or silk)
1/2 t. vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder, soda, salt,  orange zest,  and sugar. In another bowl, whisk together the butter, ricotta cheese, egg, orange juice, milk, and vanilla. Combine the wet into dry ingredients until just blended,  the batter will be thick and you may add a bit more milk if you wish but you still want it to be fairly thick.  Onto a lightly greased, medium-hot skillet pour about 1/4 c. of batter for each pancake. Flip when bubbles appear on the top of the pancake. Serve with all the fixings and don’t forget the maple syrup.

Dishing it out: In our house they were flapjacks. My dad was a great flapjack maker and we loved the mornings when we would smell them cooking. Dad would tell the story of Paul Bunyon and flapjacks: Paul Bunyon was a giant of a lumberjack. Paul’s lunber jack friends (who were also very large) loved flapjacks too so Ole the Blacksmith, made a griddle so large you couldn’t see across it when the smoke was thick. Sourdough Sam had fifty men with pork rinds tied to their feet skating around the griddle to grease it. The batter was mixed in large barrels and it took a strong cook just to turn the flapjacks, let alone get them to the table. Check here for more Paul Bunyon stories. We would always ask Dad if he would  make Paul Bunyon sized flapjacks for us. He never made them  quite that large but they were delicious and we gobbled them up just the same. I think Paul Bunyon would have liked Dad’s flapjacks!

Whether you call them pancakes, hotcakes, flannel cakes, drop scones (Scottish),  oatcakes (English), griddle cakes, or flapjacks this is one breakfast that will surely hit the spot.

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