Edibles from the woods

Oh how we suffered not so long ago  from a winter that never seemed to come to an end. Suddenly  almost overnight all came alive! My daily walks in the woods over ice and snow shifted fast. White is now  replaced by a burst of  greens.  Edible greens!

IMG_0013Mustard garlic tops, wild garlic and fiddleheads’. You know those fern tops one sporadically sees served with fish.  I harvested fiddleheads before the frond had opened and reached its full height. You have to cut them close to the ground. Fiddleheads have antioxidant activity, are a source of omega-3  and omega- 6 fatty acids, and are high in iron and fiber. Certain varieties of fiddleheads have been shown to be  carcinogenic according to Wikipedia.

Garlic Mustard Greens are so abundant one can make lots of meals form the leaves.The leaves contain natural anti-freezes that lower the freezing point of water for those that need to thaw out a frozen toe.  Caution: Never put garlic mustard leaves into a car radiator. It’s not that kind of anti-freeze says some wise man. Better to make a Pesto out of it. Or sauté them quick like  you would spinach.

The garlic tops for now I use instead of chives and toss them in a salad. I am also experimenting making a garlic oil out of those. Not all comes from the woods. Though I am adding one more find here.

Chaga mushroom.  chaga( king of plants or diamond of the forest!) oh yeah.I copy a short version of its benefits : Concentrating this powder, chaga contains numerous B vitamins, flavonoids, phenols, minerals, and enzymes. It is also one of the world’s densest sources of pantothenic acid, and this vitamin is needed by the adrenal glands as well as digestive organs. It also contains riboflavin and niacin in significant amounts.

Besides foraging  the woods I also start creating all season  menus for http://www.Hamhouse.com in Tivoli  where I am the preferred caterer. In the making are  healthy wholesome, detox and healing organic menus for the newly opened spa at Ham house.  It is quite a special place. Right up my alley.

At Ham house I also cater weddings for the summer season. Now that I have joined the Rhinebeck Community garden I started growing  all my vegetables from seed. Here  too I base my menus on garden pickings. The plot is big and the happy seeds from the Hudson Valley Seed bank are fun to watch come up. The workshops and info the Hudson Valley Seed bank provides make gardening easy. The  community garden soil is organic and the fertilizer comes from horse and cow if you know what I mean.

And there’s more that keeps me busy at Ham house and beyond. When there are no weddings or yoga retreats there are weekend guests. Then the menu change to family style. My house dressings  made from last season’s herbs and berries now make their way in.If it comes from the earth in a healthy organic way I will make sure it ends up on your table the way it should be!

And then there is a dilemma. On a walk by the river I find people fishing. What you got I ask? Herring…. Herring up here? I tell the guys I eat herring  raw and they give me this look.. Is she for  real? Well now I really  wonder if I am but that is what we do in Holland. I wonder too if that herring is the same as the North Sea one.  I inspect and it sure looks like it. The guys  are not parting with them herrings anyway so no way to find out.  I get a speed lesson on how the catch them. Real easy! They are used  for bate. Oh what a pity. Bate to catch striped bass migrating up or down? the Hudson towards  the Atlantic. While I  watch one of the guys catches a 17 lb fish in front of my eyes.  They tell me I can have a fish next time. Oh it is tempting  to accept it but I look at that Hudson River  and wonder. The warning reads no more than one fish meal from the lower Hudson River a month. Why is it we have to worry if we are being polluted, poisoned or fooled when it comes to the food chain.

I shall return to the woods and my vegetable garden with joy this summer and leave the fish for another day.

esopus ligh-house on the hudson River

The view from a fishermans eye.

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2013 at a 100 Miles

loxMy first meal in the  New Year  Jan 1 , 2013 was once again a most amazing bagel with cream cheese and lox. A  personal tradition I look forward to each Jan 1. Bagels freshly baked at the local bakery and the smoked salmon flown in all the way from Alaska. No  better way to start the year. But wait a minute:  My new years resolution is to follow the 100 mile food movement !! Harder to do than one  thinks.  Capers from Italy on day one.  Alaska is more than 1000 miles away. Now I better get a grip!  No smoked salmon in  2014 Annemarie.  Unless I catch the salmon in the Hudson river maybe and learn to smoke the fish real fast too. Where to grow a lemon at 7 degrees F I do not know.

Only a week ago last year I had made myself a simple fast pasta which consisted of imported, parmesan cheese, mascarpone, pasta, olive oil and garlic. Only the cauliflower and red beet greens where local. I just take it for granted I can buy anything I like from all over the world without thinking much about it.  Five of the 7 ingredients from another continent altogether. So let’s go local I say.  I’ve always tried to get as much local food where ever I am but there are times I get lazy about it.

New Years eve started of well. I was invited to my friend’s home who upon arrival where shucking blue point oysters a guest had brought  from 50 miles away Connecticut. The main course was a local grass-fed rib roasted and simmering in the oven for 8 hours. Home made whole wheat pasta in the most amazing broth and an all local most fabulous looking and tasting winter salad to go with it. Here I come with my chocolate mousse with Imported Belgian chocolate . At least the cream I used  was local. The host had preserved cherries from the area and they made a Sacher torte new age look. Just all local Hudson Valley for the most part. And it was outstanding.

add tomato sauceToday Day 3 into 2013   with not much effort I made myself an all local stew of beans with seasonal vegetables. Fennel, carrots, red onions and dried beans cooked to perfection. I had a lot of home-made tomato sauce frozen from local tomatoes this summer so it was a no brainer.  Vegetarian too. Though I am not ready to become a vegetarian yet.

To mother earth I promise I will do my best to keep  up cooking with ingredients found within a 100 mile radius of any home I live in and harvested with care as well.

I’ll stay with  Farm to Table dinners and any requests outside the 100 mile area  my clients have as long it’s not marshmallows on a baked sweet potato. For the rest  they need not worry that all they’ll get is a pot o’ beans.

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The Pumpkin Pie

My trip to Toronto  last week was quick, short and tasty. Not only was I introduced to a fabulous Spanish wine Novelum there  but a surprise magazine became my possession as well along the way.  Coveted was the description of the heavy Food and Drink magazine 2012 offered by LCBO wine store. I never found the Novelum but did go home with the heaviest magazine ever filled with recipes. People fight for it here in Canada I am told.  I had never heard of it. While taking the long 10 hour journey back to NY the next day I leaved through this 250 page salivating with each page I turned.

So here I share with you directly from Canada’s most wanted magazine.

Walnut Crust Pumpkin Tart with … Nutmeg Cream

I only added pears poached in white wine but or the rest it is unchanged.

CRUST: 1/2 cup (125 ml)chopped toasted walnuts

1 cup ( 250ml) ap flour

2 tbsp(30 ml) sugar

1/2 cup( 60ml)  cubed butter

1 egg white

Put the walnuts in the cuisinart, add flour, Add sugar, salt, butter and egg. Pulse till blended. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Line a 9 inch tart pan with parchment paper. Roll out the dough and bake for about 8 minutes at 375 F  ( 190 C)


( optional) Peel 3 Bosc pears and poach for 10 minutes in 4 cups of white dry wine and 1 cup of sugar. Set aside.

Mix; 1/4 cup (60ml) brown sugar with 1/2 tsp ( 2g) cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/4 tsp ginger (1 g) . Pinch of salt, 2 eggs and 3/4 cup ( 150 ml)  canned pumpkin puree. 2/3 cup heavy cream . Whisk all together and pour into the half-baked tart shell.

Place poached pear slices  on top and of you are. Bake of at 350 F ( 180C)

For the cream you whip 1/3 cup heavy cream, add 1/3 cup of Greek yogurt. Sugar as you like, nutmeg, vanilla extract and serve it on the side.

Enjoy and may you be thankful for this wonderful recipe on Thanksgiving day.


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The End of The Northern Spy

Bundled up I head to Montgomery Place Orchards in Duchess County.  Each week endless assortments of apples keep arriving and changing as the season passes by. I was a bit concerned I might miss the last of the apples due to the snow that fell today.

You’ve come with a list says Talea the farm stand owner apologetically. We have hardly any produce left she exclaims!   I know that this time of year things slow down quick. Still the carrots, butternut squash onions, eggs  and seeing what apple is in season this week is worse the trip for me.

The advice I get at Montgomery is always spot on. The dialogue on how each year’s apple  tastes, feels and holds is a most  serious matter.

I explain  I’m looking for an apple that works for a Tart Tatin. I might have misinformed some of you  last year as my mother’s perfect Tart Tatin was not made with  Russet  apples. An assumption I took for granted as we had only Russet in our garden. Which apple she used has been my job to find out.

Last year I had quite a disaster at a clients house as my Tart Tatin looked more like a pumpkin dropped in the middle of it. It was mush when I took it out of the oven.  I saved it by making caramel and pouring that over it. It looked as shiny as ever. No one knew but me I had cheated.

Back to apple discussions: Jonagold holds well and most of all tastes  perfect but it is  no longer in season. I had stocked up on Jonagold  but ran out due to the  many Tart Tatin requests this season. Golden Delicious is recommended. That’s the one apple I am not a fan off. It looks like  I will have to drop the Tart Tatin and move on. Move on to what? Pumpkin pie? I make a face at the idea. Talea grins. Obviously my expressions tell all.

Well….long, long pause..  I have a few Northern Spy hidden  which I was saving for myself says Talea.  Really. Oh what a lucky day this is!  I tip toe right behind her as she vanishes in a  secret hideaway place. I peak but she’s gone. Saying good bye to an apple like that can hurt.

I dilly dally around  a bit as she bids her farewells before venturing into the heavenly  forbidden apple bins myself  in search of Northern Spy.  Talea gone. Help!  There must be  20 assortments behind the scenes with not a name to the bins. Now I’m feeling really stupid. I am guessing at what would be Northern Spy surrounded by  apple bins which  all look the same to me. I pick one   and with a  different look I ask sheepishly:  Is this the Northern Spy? Now I get a chuckle, as Talea points me to the Northern spy. City girl  after all.  I’ll only take a few I say suddenly feeling guilty at dipping in. I take 5 apples only .

I come home where a message awaits me. We don’t want apple dessert but a pumpkin pie would be lovely.

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Hudson Valley Delights

It’s been 3 years since I moved to the Hudson Valley and I have not one day regretted leaving Manhattan. I still go to NYC to cook as a guest chef on a regular basis. Last week I was there for 3 days. I cooked for a client and the rest of the time I stayed at a friend’s on the edge of Little Italy and China town. Smack in the middle of Little Italy’s San Gennaro Street festival. I lived there for over 20 years yet forgot what racket it can be real fast. I tried a few oddities in China town. I do not speak Chinese so cannot tell you what I had other than it was yummy. All of it. I think I recognized duck feet.

Once again I find myself hopping about Duchess county this time to find the end of seasons bounties. And bounties there are! It’s been a race against time as I entered my quest for organic produce stocking up a bit  late in the season.

I hit the ground running after an almost 1 month stay on the Island of Roatan. I missed most of the tomato season as it was. Not that I missed much there as the tomatoes seem to be pitiful this year in this neck of the woods. I switched my attention yet again to herbs. I pick and pick and chop and chop. I came up with the most amazing Chimmichuri made with arms full of parsley. Try that as a condiment with grilled steak or soon a roast of pork! Another hit is a Spicy Coriander dip made from hands full of fresh all organic coriander. I must start a page with all those dips and salsa’s recipes! The famous Salsa Verde also in the making is better than ever. Best of all I have a fridge full of jars as these concoctions tend to hold very well through winter when refrigerated. I’ve been handing my goods out but have been told I must sell them as is. And why not.

Of to Cornell’s research lab we are and let’s see what the diagnosis is. I am on a roll with the lot. The design of a perfect label is in the making.  The process has started. I am so hoping a local Elderberry dressing will go on the shelves soon. We’re talking thousands of bottles. I am not dreaming! It is going to happen.  I plan  to  be selling dressings and salsas galore. Did I tell you the elderberries I picked in my friends yard a few hours prior to flying to Roatan now are sitting pretty in bottles all juiced up. Elderberry vinegar is it!  Juice too. Beats the cold remember.

Oh and also irresistible( for me that is) is the Goldenrod. In full bloom upon my return.  This year I stocked up a bit more as my Goldenrod oil for stiff muscles and arthritis seems to work miracles. I am selling all of it. The test of the mosquito repellent I took with me to Roatan also worked. The island is the perfect place to test organic mosquito repellent. Not a bug that bit me or the people that tried it. Not a sand fly either! I take the stuff back if you don’t believe me. But try it first. It is all in a little green leaf. While you pick apples I pick weeds. They happen to like to grow in the apple orchards. Getting ready to ship it anywhere you like.

Roatan was a busy time. I cooked a few guest chef nights while there and enjoyed being on the radio show there with Blue Harbors Plantation Helen Murphy. What a place she has under her care. The tropical fruit trees are what I go crazy for but the orchids are a sight as well.  Go take a tour when you are there. It is so worth it.

I also taught 2 classes on flower essences. Raising your eye brow now are ya? You know about the messages hidden in a flower I am sure! Just one of those things I enjoy besides cooking.  Listening to nature. Flowers have lots of wisdom  to share!

Back home now and my new web site www.annemariesfeast.com  is just finished! New logo too. Lots of fun jobs to cook for and I am loving the fall by simply being me.

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Traveling chef back on Roatan.

Annemarie's Feast

The day of my departure from NY 8 days ago I was still hanging in an elderberry tree. The berries where ready a month too soon. If I missed picking them I would not be able to make elderberry vinegar and syrup to keep the cold away this coming winter. I dropped a few things I needed to do and picked the tree clean. Next thing I headed for the airport. It was quite a rush but t’is the season and nature does not wait.

I’ve been on Roatan for 8 days now and Island time only kicked in today. It’s been a busy week getting organized and lots of fun cooking at Earth Mamas as a guest chef this past Friday. The menu was based on mostly local products once again.

I seem to never be taken directly to my place of stay when I arrive  at the airport…

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Traveling chef back on Roatan.

The day of my departure from NY 8 days ago I was still hanging in an elderberry tree. The berries where ready a month too soon. If I missed picking them I would not be able to make elderberry vinegar and syrup to keep the cold away this coming winter. I dropped a few things I needed to do and picked the tree clean. Next thing I headed for the airport. It was quite a rush but t’is the season and nature does not wait.

I’ve been on Roatan for 8 days now and Island time only kicked in today. It’s been a busy week getting organized and lots of fun cooking at Earth Mamas as a guest chef this past Friday. The menu was based on mostly local products once again.

I seem to never be taken directly to my place of stay when I arrive  at the airport in Roatan.  This time we went straight to a party where I saw lots of old familiar faces. It was sundown. The mosquitoes where very happy at the hour of our arrival. I had packed my Plantago almond oil  homemade bug repellant and the 4 of us put it on before we joined the fun. My test was complete. It worked  for all 4 of us. Not only for mosquitoes but also for those darn sand flies I seem to be allergic to. So there you have it. It is on sale at Earth Mamas. Limited amount but I promise more will come in on my next trip.

But here we go as promised, the recipes for the dinner you asked for:  IIf you heard me on the Roatan Radio with Helen Murphy this past Saturday.  There  it was announced the links  to my web sites would be posted on my face book page for my kitchen secrets as well as my flower essence adventures here on Roatan.

For the pork buns I’ll have to take you on a trip to Chinatown and show you.

First course: Image

Crab, Shrimp Salad Tower. Use your imagination here as you see fit. Good luck with building the tower.

Main Course: Pan seared Sea bass with …

Tomato Curry Beurre Blanc

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tbspn curry
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper, or to taste
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces and chilled (Add more butter if it is too acid)
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives

In a small sauté pan put the curry, garlic and diced tomato. Roast slowly without burning the curry. Cook for about 10 minutes or till the tomato is soft.

Transfer to 2- 3-quart heavy saucepan. Add the vinegar and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to moderately low and add a few tablespoons butter, whisking constantly. Add remaining butter a few pieces at a time, whisking constantly and adding new pieces before previous ones have completely liquefied (the sauce should maintain consistency of hollandaise), lifting pan from heat occasionally to cool mixture.

Blender it and serve with the fish.

Cilantro Carrot Puree

1 sliced onion

2 pound carrots diced and cooked

2 bunch cilantro

1/2 stick of butter

Pepper and salt.

Sauté the onion till soft and transparent. Mix with the cooked carrots, season, add cilantro with stems. Add butter and blender in the cuisinart.

Zucchini Gratin with Gruyere

  • 2 lb zucchini sliced medium thick
  • 1 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs ( If you cannot find Panko use regular breadcrumbs)
  • 1 shallot diced
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • 2 sprigs thyme chopped
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere
  • 1 stick unsalted melted butter

Toss the zucchini with 1 tbsp salt and let it sit for 30 minutes to drain in a colander. Mix all the above ingredients in a bowl and place in a Pyrex dish about 9x 9 inch round or square. Pre heat oven at 375 and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes.

Ingredients for the cake
  • 2/3 cup cake flour
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flower
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup minced candied ginger, or 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup water


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Mint leaves for garnish

Whip the cream and add the sugar and cardamom.

Guava coulis: 8 peeled seeded guavas, 1/2 cup of white wine, 1/4 cup of Roatan Honey, blender.

Serving: One slice of cake, Guava coulis on the plate. Top with a dollop of the cream, add the fruit for an explosion of flavors.

Posted in Dessert, Dining, General, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment