Tuesday: Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce
Wednesday: Salad of Radicchio, Walnut Vinaigrette, Chopped Egg and Bread Crumbs
Quechee -Looking South from the deck of our rented house
Thursday to To Quechee, VT for the wedding of Peter Slavish and Abby Hutchins
Dinner at the Parker House Inn – Mediocre but Quaint and Fun
Beez, Billy and Emily at Murphy Farm – I didn’t take enough pictures. Wish I had shots of the Slavish and Ford clans, the McSorleys, the Cestras, Rosie and Julie – please forward any you like to me, and I’ll load them into this blog posting.
Friday: Murphy Farm Rehearsal Dinner – Rustic, with a great bar, superb duck and endive apps, cooked-to-order pasta and standing rib roast that was out of this world
Stream running through the Highlands Course at the Quechee Club
Saturday: Queehee Club Wedding Reception – Another great bar, more great food – outstanding Mushroom ravioli and 1,000 desserts
Sunday: Simon Pierce Restaurant – Brunch Hosted by Katie and David McSorley
Quechee, Vermont is a beautiful place, particularly in the Fall with the maples and other trees glowing with color. Last week, in Quechee, the weather was spectacular and a crowd of Pittsburghers, the Fords of Cape Cod and assorted New Hampshirites and Vermonters gathered there to celebrate the marriage of Peter Slavish (my godson) to Abby Hutchins. The wedding ceremony took place in nearby Woodstock at the gloriously-named Our Lady of the Snows, but a golf outing, the rehearsal dinner, the wedding reception, and brunch the next day, were in Quechee.
There were four generations of celebrants: grandparents and parents (Tim and Ann Slavish and Chris and Doreen Hutchins), the couple and their contemporaries, and two babies – Trip Slavish and Eoin Gallagher who get to more cocktail parties and wedding receptions than we do, are always the center of attention and tolerate it nicely. Father Lively reminded us, in his good homily, that many of us have become progressively more subject to gravity and that this would even happen to the young couple one day – “saggy” was the word he used, causing some consternation and a good deal of glee in the congregation.
In the light of Peter and Abby’s beautiful wedding, food does seem a secondary consideration – but that is what I have chosen to write about every week so let me take a quick dip from the holy water font, bless myself and step outside Our Lady of the Snows to tell you about it.
The highlights were surely the roast beef from the rehearsal dinner, the mushroom ravioli and desserts from the wedding, and the Quiche from Katie and Dave’s brunch on Sunday. And I have to mention the decorations and the bar at Murphy’s Farm where Hilda and Tim hosted the rehearsal dinner – I think Hilda could find flowers and a good caterer if she were set down in the middle of the Antarctic. We also had a pleasant dinner with the Cestras, the McSorleys, Rosie Welsh and Julie Stoecklein at a funky little inn – The Parker House – on Thursday. If you go there, order the mussels and pommes frites or the duck and have Dennis order the wine. And on Sunday afternoon Barbara and I got to watch the entire Steelers game at the Admirals Club at Logan Airport, while teaching a young bartender how to make a Rob Roy (well, two of them, to be precise).
A final note about Quechee – On Sunday morning, before the brunch, from the back deck of our pretty rented house, looking South and down toward a lapping of tree-covered low mountains, across rolling meadows and split-rail fences, colorful maples and three homes tucked into the landscape and foliage, I saw a swelling rise behind a distant ridge. Smoke? Could a fire be kindling in this perfect Fall landscape? The swelling became the top of an apparent sphere, then grew and grew until it separated itself from the ridge and the trees, and a hot-air balloon rose out of the forest and began drifting up the valley. A honking came, and then flights of geese began winging up the valley ahead of the balloon. It was as if the gods of real estate were sending a message – come back, rent this house again. But somehow, without Peter and Abby in the equation, I don’t think we will.
As for a suggested recipe for the week – I’m going to do something I keep threatening, go back to a previous post and share a recipe that was great but didn’t make it into the ‘Keepers’ section. Two weeks ago, we had a pasta dish that illustrates how simple ingredients, cooked well, can create a great meal. Bucatini with Swiss Chard and Bread Crumbs can be done in a jiffy – hell, you’ll have people thanking you for longer than it took cook it.
Bucatini with Swiss Chard and Bread Crumbs
(adapted from bon apétit, April, 2017)
The actual recipe from bon apétit calls for garlicky breadcrumbs, but SWMBO prefers her garlic to be subtle to the point of absence. In any event, it’s the salty crunch of the breadcrumbs that matters. Bucatini, by the way, is a large, hollow noodle that I avoided using for years. But cooked properly it is a perfect canvas for all of the flavors you can imbue a pasta with and now it’s one of our favorites.
Timing: 22 minutes, if you can multi-task, 27 minutes, if you cannot
Ingredients: Serves 4
12 oz. bucatini (if you have all the other ingredients and spaghetti – just use the spaghetti)
1 bunch of Swiss Chard, stems removed and leaves coarsely torn. [NOTE: I like to chop the stems and cook them – this will take you another 5 minutes – before wilting the leaves. The stems taste great – obviously get rid of any woody stems – and add another dimension to the dish.]
5 oil-packed anchovies, finely chopped [NOTE: You’re going to melt the anchovies in hot oil so that only a hint of earthy saltiness remains. Chop anchovies really fine and smear them back and forth with a butcher’s knife, and chop them a few more times until you have a thickish paste]
5 Tablespoons of olive oil for cooking – more for drizzling on the dish before serving
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (we did not use any garlic)
1/3 cup panko (we used a couple of pinches more)
1 serrano chili, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons of butter
1 cup coarsely chopped mint (you can use parsley as a substitute)
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon-zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Grated Pecorino Romano, for serving
Salt and pepper
Get a large pot of salted water heating to a boil. Measure out all ingredients, stem and chop the chard, slice the garlic (if using), chop and mash the anchovies, slice the serrano, and chop the mint. You can zest and juice the lemon now or while the pasta is cooking.
Breadcrumbs – I recommend doing these first before you’ve got a lot of other things to do, since they cook quickly and you don’t want to burn them.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small skillet over medium. If using the garlic (we don’t), cook it, swirling in the pan until golden and crisp, up to 2 minutes. Remove to a small bowl. Now add the panko and cook, stirring often, until golden – up to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl (the one with the garlic, if you are using garlic)
Pasta – cook until just al dente since it’s going to cook in the pan with the chard for a while. Either remove with a skimmer and place in the pan with the chard, or set aside 2 ladles of the cooking water and drain and then add to the chard.
Chard and anchovies – Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook the anchovies, mashing with a wooden spoon until only a few flecks remain – 4 minutes or so. Add the chard stems, if using, and cook for 3 minutes, then add the chili and the torn chard and cook for about 1 minute, until the chard wilts.
Finish – add the butter, the pasta and ½ of the panko mixture to the pan with the chard and cook, tossing with tongs and adding pasta cooking liquid if the sauce is too dry. Cook until the sauce coats the pasta well. Remove from the heat and stir in the mint (or parsley), lemon zest and juice.
Divide the pasta into bowls and top with drizzled oil, more breadcrumbs and grated pecorino.