I dabble in food writing and have had some articles published over the years. Below are some links and copies of them.
write a column weekly for the NH Contender, a small , local paper. Click here
to read the most recent installment.
What Chefs Really Eat at Home
Published by the Portsmouth Herald July 2002
Cooking Local - A Chef Tours New Hampshire
By Jeannine M. Carney, Executive Chef, Franconia Inn,Franconia,NH
New Hampshire is a great state. We have mountains, lakes, oceans and everything in between. When I had the opportunity to become the executive chef at a three star inn in the White Mountains, I jumped at it. Having been in and out of New Hampshire for years, I felt it was time to settle into my home state and turn out some great food. I moved to Franconia and nestled into my new place.
During a trip to the local grocery store to stock my home fridge, I stumbled across my first locally produced item. "Wicked Good Chocolate Milk", the label stated, from Hatchland Dairy, about ten miles from where I was working. How great would it be to have the dairy products for the inn come from right up the road, instead of some mass-produced co-op out of Maine or Massachusetts? I called up Kris and Dave May, owners of Hatchland Dairy, and they wasted no time in getting me a price and product list. Hatchland consists of a smallish herd of 600 or so cows, they do all their own processing and the heavy cream is reminiscent of melted butter. Dave calls me and says, " We are milking today, how much cream do you want?" I feed him Lobster Bisque once in awhile on delivery days, made from the dairy's cream, and proudly feature the dairy's name on the menu. And, the chocolate milk is in fact, "Wicked Good", the best I have ever had.
So began an odyssey to find New Hampshire producers and their edible wares. I change my menu often, so I can take advantage of seasonal items, keep things fresh and let the natural flavors of the food shine through. Nothing too fussy or contrived, made from things you would find in New England and the region. I obviously use local maple syrup, blueberries and farmstand fare that are available in nearly every town and of course the seafood is as close to the New Hampshire coast that I can get.
My second stop was in the village of Franconia, Quality Bakery/Grateful Bread. Mike makes awesome, whole grain, organic breads, grinds the flour himself and coerces his ancient oven to keep revolving. He also makes a granola mix that our guests love, and we send them to his shop to buy ten pound bags of the stuff and keep them supplied via Fedex should they run out. He supplies me with all the breakfast breads and a fantastic challah for French toast. Do I mind not making it myself? Nope. It's quality stuff and its business helping business when I send guests to his shop to load up. A symbiotic relationship.
Staff raving about ice cream saw me at an ice cream shop in Littleton. Bishop's Ice Cream also has a few satellite operations as well, but the ice cream I get comes from ten miles up the road. A huge range of flavors and fresh made as well. The owner himself drops it off every other week or so. The double blueberry garners raves and screams New England, as does the Maple Walnut. I get stuff in small batches so I can change the flavors to suit the season. When the lemon sorbet is gone, we'll switch to Mango with a key lime drizzle. Hungry, yet?
I came to work one day to find a sample of a few bottles of hard cider left in my kitchen. They were elegantly packaged in wine bottles with corks, not like anything you have seen in the beer section of the grocery store. A few tastes revealed Chardonnay like undertones, crisp and refreshing, perfect with chicken, fish, pasta or light fare. Farnum Hill Ciders from Lebanon, New Hampshire was responsible. I jumped on these and put them on the wine list as a lower alcohol alternative to wine. I also cooked with them, drank a lot of them and went on Channel 9 Cook's Corner singing their praises. They grow the apples, process, bottle and market all from the orchard. There are a few different kinds that Farnum Hill offers, but all are refreshing, not too sweet and match perfectly with a lot of my food.
A trip to the Seacoast to visit my family had me stopping in at Piscataqua Coffee Roasters, in Dover, NH. I had known about this company for quite some time and watched as it had grown over the years. Bill Coneys spent the morning with us and took us through the entire coffee roasting process and proceeded to get us completely wired on caffeine as we sampled the various blends. He custom blends coffee for the inn now, complete with its own label, Franconia Inn Blend, assembled by him and myself as we played around mixing various beans. The whole beans are roasted and blended on the day I order it and shipped out that evening. By the time it gets to me the next day, it fills the inn with the fragrance of fresh roasted beans as we open the box. Can't get any fresher or closer to home than that.
Lee, New Hampshire is home to Flag Hill Winery, owned by Frank Reinhold. I used to drive by his property on my way to work in Salem years ago, and I figured the requisite amount of time had passed for grapevines to grow and wine to be produced. I stopped in on a Sunday and spent a lovely afternoon tasting wines, learning a lot and making plans for these wines to go on our wine list. I was specifically looking for dessert wines, and Frank makes two, DeChaunac red and Heritage White. They are sweet and complex, and perfect for after dinner when you want something sweet but not too heavy. Frank knows his wines intimately and I hope to soon use two of his as our house wine offerings. All the grapes are native and grown on the property, pressed, aged and bottled there as well. Go and visit, you won't be disappointed. Frank would love to have you.
While chatting with Frank, he told me of a guy raising buffalo about 15 miles down the road. Buffalo, in New Hampshire? I had to find out. I had run buffalo steaks and burgers a few times and they always sold out. I was however, having a hard time getting a consistent, quality product and opted not to sell it until I could hammer that out. Little Bay Buffalo Company came to the rescue. I gathered a now weary significant other, ("Where are you dragging me to now, Jeannine?") and off we went for a tour of a buffalo farm in Durham, New Hampshire. Driving down a winding country road, we went by a clearing and in the field was 60 or so buffalo of various shapes and sizes, grazing, laying around, doing what buffalo do, with a few babies in there as well. I had a momentary thought that perhaps I was in the badlands of the Dakotas, and then began thinking about how I would prepare them. I know that sounds bad, but that's how chefs think. When we see something on the hoof, wing or foot, it's being constructed in our heads into something edible and fantastic. I looked upon that herd and thought, "YUM!" We spent the day with David and Donna Langley, who gave us a farm tour, taught us a lot about the raising of buffalo and took my order for meat that was still walking around. Merlin the Wonder Lab also provided us with endless tennis balls and stones for us to throw for him. The farm gives tours, does groups and sells meat on the premise to the general public. I was ecstatic; my buffalo steaks were now coming from New Hampshire. The inn guests are in for a treat!
way home from the buffalo farm, I stopped off in Sutton to see Courtney
Haase, of Nunsuch Goat's Cheese. Courtney
has a wonderful little farm with a herd of Toggenburg dairy goats and
produces some awesome artisan cheese. She makes it all by hand herself,
packages it, ships it, and does all the marketing.
The Udderly delicious is creamy and good for using with anything.
The aged Friar's cheese is dipped in a black and red wax and tastes like a
sharp cheddar. The Smoked Friar's Cheese is the aged goat cheese that has
been lightly smoked. I have been putting this on cheese plates and display
trays and people have been flipping out for it. I believe I have been
eaten at least 2 pounds of it myself. I have had great fun with Courtney's
cheeses, shaving them over asparagus as an appetizer, stuffing chicken
with the creamy one, and making ravioli out of the smoked one.
She's working on a cheese that will be soaked in Frangelico and
wrapped in grape leaves. Her farm won a New Hampshire Farm of Distinction
award in 1999 and is home to the Small Dairy Project.
the farmers and producers I have visited, the one thing that they all had
in common was the pride they have in running their businesses. They all
love what they do, stand behind their products and are all wonderfully
nice people. I have learned
much from all these folks, proudly feature them on my menus and am glad
that they make my job easier by selling me such great products. I am
always on the lookout for something new from New Hampshire that I haven't
heard about. So if you are a
New Hampshire farmer or food supplier who I haven’t tracked down yet, by
all means give me a call. Now,
where is that number for the mushroom farm I heard about from a friend?
Honey! We are going for a drive…..
Crusted Breast of Chicken with Maple Cider Cream
2 whole, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, split
1 1/4 cup granola
3 Tablespoons corn meal
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper to taste
2 egg whites
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup hard apple cider ( or regular cider)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
For the chicken:
For the sauce:
Bay Buffalo Burgers with New
Hampshire Cheddar Cheese
-6 servings depending on how big you like your burgers)
1/2 lb Ground
Little Bay Buffalo
teaspoon of chopped garlic
cup of minced onion
of red wine
slabs of Harmons cheddar, or whichever brand you prefer, sliced as thick
or thin as you would like
meat is very lean , so be sure to cook these on a low flame or heat to
keep the juices in. If you have a two level gas grill, cook the burgers on
the top rack with the lid closed on low flame. For a charcoal grill, let
the coals die down some before cooking the burgers. Overcooking will make
them very tough, so about 5 minutes per side will get them just under
medium. Coat the burgers in a
little bit of oil just before grilling to avoid excessive sticking.
Treat these like regular
hamburgers, mix all the ingredients ( except the cheese), form them into
patties and grill. Add your
favorite toppings and condiments. Add as much or as little seasonings as
you like, and change them around to your taste.
Rubbed Strip Steak of Buffalo with Pumpkin Seed Pesto
all ingredients in small bowl
2 cups Flat Leaf Parsley, stems removed
1 cup olive oil
1 cup parmesan cheese
all together in food processor until thick paste forms.
(4-6 servings depending on how big you like your
1/2 pounds ground lamb
teaspoon of chili flakes
teaspoon of chopped fresh mint
teaspoon of fresh rosemary, stemmed and chopped
tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley
teaspoon of chopped fresh mint
teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary
In a mixing bowl
combine the ground lamb with the garlic, rosemary and mint and season to
taste with salt and pepper.
Mix the goat's cheese
with the chives and fresh herbs. Salt and pepper to taste
Grill, broil or saute
them for about 4 minutes a side. Treat like regular hamburgers. Lamb is a
fattier meat than ground beef, so there will be more juice coming from
them. Do not overcook, they are best served medium or medium rare.
Place on your favorite burger bun and top with a spoonful of the herbed goats cheese. The heat from the burger will start the cheese melting a bit. Top with your favorite condiments and toppings. Change the herbs and seasonings around to suit your tastes.
Chef Jeannine proudly uses these local New
Hatchland Dairy / Kris and Dave May
RR1 Box 211
N Haverhill, NH 03774
Farnum Hill Ciders/Louisa Spencer
98 Poverty Lane
Lebanon, NH 03766
Grateful Bread/Quality Bakery/Mike Valcourt
Franconia, NH 03580
Flag Hill Winery/Frank Reinhold
297. North River Road
Lee, New Hampshire 03824
Little Bay Buffalo Company/David and Donna Langley
50 Langley Road
Durham, NH 03824
Nunsuch Goat's Cheese/Courtney Haase
South Sutton, NH
Mailing address: HC 65 -Box 45
Bradford, NH 03221
Piscataqua Coffee Roasting Company/William L. Coneys
PO Box 1812
7 Sumner Drive
Dover, NH 03821
HOW TO BE A BETTER RESTAURANT CUSTOMER
PUBLISHED BY FOOD AND LEISURE , OTTAWA, ONTARIO 1999
How to be a
Better Restaurant Customer
Make a reservation
This is to make sure there is a table available for you and your party. If you are planning on visiting a particular restaurant, call and ask if they take reservations, and if they do, make one!
Or, you could show up and be miffed at the fact that you will have to wait for a table for 30 minutes, especially if it during a busy time (12:30-1:30 pm or 7:00pm-8:00pm). Please remember that tables that are not reserved go to the first available party that shows up.
Stomping your feet, posturing, saying things like " I know the chef/host/bartender" will do you no good if you have not made a reservation. Likewise, if you are a large party, say 6 or more, showing up unannounced will likely cause major angst among the staff.
Cancel your reservation
If for some reason you can not make it to your desired dining destination, please extend the courtesy to call the restaurant and cancel. Restaurants will often hold tables for a certain period of time, but during a busy night, that empty table becomes a big attraction for people who have not made a reservation ( customarily called "walk-ins) ane they will hassle the staff as to why they can't sit there. This is especially true for big parties, where a table set for twelve sticks out like a sore thumb in the middle of a dining room. Allow the restaurant to at least have the opportunity to fill the seats if you can't make it. A no show will ensure that you are less likely to get a table next time you want to go to that spot.
Be on time!
A timely arrival will make your dining experience even more enjoyable for you as well as the restaurant staff. Most reservations are blocked so that a reasonable amount of time is allowed for dining and perhaps "turning" the table, that is , seating another party after you have finished. A 7:00 pm table could be "turned" again at 9:00 or 9:30 depending on what type of establishment it is. If you arrive 30-45 minutes late, you perhaps have cut into that "turn" time and cost the restaurant another party. If you are going to be late, call ahead, hosts will rearrange the seating to accommodate if they can.
Read the menu!
Most menus are set up with the average Joe in mind, nothing to fancy and easily read. Instead of asking your server…."What's good today?" What do you recommend? "Take some time to actually read the menu and draw your own conclusions. If there are no burgers on the menu, don't ask " Do you have burgers?" If you have questions about a food item that you are not familiar with, ask your server and they will gladly answer you. The menu is telling you what is available and asking to have the chicken with the fish vegetables and steamed rice instead of potatoes will throw the kitchen into a fit. Please don't pretend you know what something is and order it so you can save face with the people you are eating with. Food is a big, wide world, there is a lot to know and a lot to learn. Try new things and ask questions before hand. Talk to the chef if you can, he/she will be more than likely to answer your inquiry. If you have dietary restrictions, let the staff know ahead of time or when you are first seated. Most kitchens will accommodate you. However, if you are a vegan who is allergic to beans, nuts and seeds, please don’t be upset when all we can offer you is a plate of lettuce on a busy Friday lunch.
You are at your favorite restaurant, you have made a reservation, you are having a nice glass of iced tea and you notice the place is jam packed. Servers are running around like crazy, there are loud crashes from the kitchen and the place is in general chaos. At times like this, please be patient. Your food may take a few minutes longer and it may take a bit to get that refill on your iced tea. The staff is swarming trying to get everyone taken care of. Snapping your fingers and being belligerent will just get everyone mad at you. Restaurants get busy, sometimes too busy for the staff to handle, all of a sudden. There is no rhyme or reason to it, it just happens. If you happen to be in a hurry and you see that the place is packed, perhaps you should go elsewhere or be prepared to wait a few minutes extra for things.
Nothing will upset a chef more that too see a customer dump loads of salt and pepper on a dish before even tasting it. Even worse is the complaint that "This is too salty" of "This is too pepperey" immediately after the inundation. Chefs pride themselves in seasoning the food properly, hopefully so it will not need too much added seasoning. In this day of open kitchens, they are watching you and your reaction to their food. I watched a woman one day turn the pepper grinder about ten times into her soup without even tasting it. She ate the whole bowl, then came up to me and told me it was the worst soup she had ever had because there was so much pepper in it. I politely asked her if she had tasted it before she had peppered it and offered her another bowl to try unpeppered, and she started complaining that she had bad indigestion and that the soup had ruined her whole day.
is wrong, please tell somebody!
If your wine is off , your meat not cooked to your liking, or your order is wrong, please tell your server and they will do their best to make it right. No sense complaining about it if just a word or two will fix the problem. If a screw up was made on the part of the restaurant and you mention it, they will bend over backwards to fix it, offer you a free beverage or something to compensate. People do make mistakes, even the best chefs and staff who have been in the business for years. We are human,too!
up 2 minutes before closing.
Restaurants have posted hours and many close in the afternoon to enable the dinner staff to set up properly. If the restaurant closes at 3pm and reopens at 6, the staff and cooking crew have three hours to clean up from lunch, set tables and prepare the evenings menu. If a party shows up at 2:59 , someone will have to wait on them until at least three forty five and the kitchen cant even begin to clean up until the party has ordered, cutting into valuable dinner prep time. Many servers work split shifts, leaving at three and coming back at six, so a late party means they don't get their break. Even worse is a party that shows up at 2:59 and still has not left the restaurant at 5:30. Do these people like to sit around in an empty place all day? Please be courteous and respect the closing hours. Try to show up at least fifteen minutes to a half hour before closing. Please don't call and make a reservation for 9:59 when you know the place closes at ten. Remember, restaurant staff have families and lives and would like to get home some time, too.
the proper amount.
Many servers work for less hourly wages because it is expected they will make up the difference in tips. Fifteen percent of the total bill is what is considered acceptable, 20% or more for larger parties. If something was wrong with the food but the service was excellent, don't punish your server for it. I knew of one server who worked like a dog serving a party of fifteen who were very demanding, she was exemplary in her service to them. On a five hundred dollar bill, she was rewarded with $15.00, one dollar from each of them. This is quite defeating to the server, and will stick a big fat bullseye on your head the next time you are in the restaurant, because she will make sure everyone knows what a lousy tipper you are.
Please take the time to tell the staff how your dining experience was. If there is a comment card, fill it out. Feedback helps the establishment to know how its doing and to fix problems if there are any. Only one in ten people will tell someone else about a good restaurant experience, but that same person will tell twenty others if something was awful. If you are trying a new place, try it again a few months later after it has been up and running awhile. If there is an open kitchen, walk by on your way out and give your complements to the chef.
There you have it…ten tips to make your restaurant dining experience a pleasant one. If you follow these guidelines, I can guarantee you will be welcomed with open arms at your favorite establishment. One more little tip….the "Please Wait to Be Seated Sign" isn't a joke.
In the woods,
the sweet, wild blackberries are ripe.
The August sun, at noon, is hot,
and we have picked our baskets full.
You place your hand upon my arm
and say,"We have enough,
Let's rest and have our lunch."
I'll taste the berries you have stolen
sweet upon your lips
and feel your juice stained hands upon my back,
in the grassy place
below the sugar maple
where we have come before each autumn
since one afternoon years ago.
In the winter,
when we eat the fruit,
the hazy light in your blue eyes
recalls the haze of summer on the hills,
where in the woods,
the sweet wild blackberries are ripe.
It's August and the blackberries are arriving! We have a large patch and various clusters around our property, and I have been watching with anticipation as they have slowly ripened to perfection. I picked 12 pints today and probably ate about 12 more. My fingers are stained purple, my hands are scratched but, hey , who cares? I've got wild summer blackberries to play with! As a chef , it's fanastic to walk out my back door and pick my own food and the ideas and inspirations come easily as I use the seasonal goodies that my garden has to offer. Try this all blackberry menu, it's truly summertime at it's best!
3 cups blackberries
Place the blackberries and sugar in a blender and puree. Place the lemon juice and water in a pitcher and strain the pureed blackberries through a sieve into the pitcher. Stir well serve in tall glasses with lots of ice.
Spinach and Watercress Salad with Blackberry Cassis Vinaigrette
1 pound fresh spinach leaves, washed and stemmed
2 bunches water cress, tough stems removed
Half a red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup of walnuts, toasted (optional)
1/2 pint of blackberries, washed
Toss all together and drizzle vinaigrette over. Garnish with whol blackberries.
2 parts oil: 1 part vinegar
1/2 pint blackberries, crushed
Mix all together in blender
briefly then strain through sieve. Do not emulsify.
Grilled Lamb Chops with Blackberry and Juniper Jus
2 racks of lamb, cleaned and frenched
1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 rib celery, diced
1 medium-sized onion, peeled and diced
1 carrot, scraped and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint blackberries,crushed
6 juniper berrries, smashed
2 cups beef or lamb stock
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 Tablespoons of butter(optional)
Rub the lamb racks with a little olive oil. Rub rosemary leaves onto meat and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, then finish to medium rare on the grill or barbeque, another 10 minutes or so. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting.
Heat olive oil in medium saucepan. Add celery, onion, carrot, garlic, blackberries and juniper. Cook about 10 minutes, until vegetables soften and berries release their juices. Add stock and simmer another 10 minutes. Strain through fine mesh sieve, then reheat. Season with salt and pepper. (This is a thin sauce, not thick like a gravy.) Off the heat, stir in the butter to add shine and more body to the jus. (optional step)
Cut the racks into individual chops and pour some of the jus over the chops. Try a fruit wine , such as Vines' Blackberry Merlot, or a rounded and fruity Cabernet. Enjoy!
Chocolate Shortcake with Mascarpone Cream and Blackberry Mint Compote
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup of cold butter
1 cup of chocolate chips
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup of milk
Sift together all of the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter using your hands, rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients until the consistency is that of coarse cornmeal. ( You can use a food processor but be careful not to overmix.) Stir in the chocolate chips. Mix together the eggs and milk, then stir into the butter mixture just until moistenend. Using a standard ice cream scoop or a large spoon, drop the batter onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 115-20 minutes, until tops are dry and edge is beginning to brown. Remove from oven and cool completely.
1 container (500 grams) mascarpone cheese (available in Italian markets and specialty food stores, if not available use cream cheese and add 2 tablespoons sour cream)
2 cups of 35 % cream
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon cassis liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whip the 35% cream until it just begins to hold it's shape. Sprinkle in the sugar , still mixing. Add in the cassis and vanilla. With machine on low, add in the mascarpone a little at a time until everything comes together. Should be the consistency of whipped cream and will hold it's shape on a spoon.
Blackberry Mint Compote
2 pints blackberries,washed
1/3 cup of chopped mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
Stir all ingredients together in small saucepan, until berries are warmed through and sugar is dissolved.
Pour about 2 tablespoons compote onto a plate. Split a shortcake into two. Place the bottom on top of the plated compote and top with a spoonful of cream. Pour another spoon of compote over cream. Top with remaining half of shortcake, then more cream and more compot. Garnish with fresh berries and a sprig of mint.