Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sliders & Cupcakes Upstate

Easter is a holiday best spent in the company of family and friends; an excuse to get together and just laze about whether decorating eggs, eating and drinking, or going to church. Valerie and I decided to drive up to my mother’s charming place in the Catskills dubbed Red Hen Farm for a long Easter weekend. It is wonderful to spend time up here, getting out of the urban bustle of the city in favor of the tranquility of the picturesque countryside. This is truly the perfect place to celebrate Easter, profit from the beauty of early spring, and of course enjoy delicious meals. Last night was our first of the long weekend and I was a little shocked though excited about the menu she had planned; sliders with onion rings and red velvet cupcakes. My mother made little patties out of ground chuck for a dinner party recently and had a few leftover in the fridge that she thawed and pan seared. She then laid out an array of sliced vegetables, condiments, and cheeses so that each person could prepare his or her own slider. The first slider I had, photographed on the left, was topped with Jasper Hill blue cheese, romaine lettuce, ketchup, and stone-ground mustard. The zestiness of the blue cheese reminiscent of French Roquefort paired well with the beef and mustard, a really tasty burger if I may say. My second slider had curried mayonnaise, (a dip my mother has been making for decades which is one of the best things ever), sliced tomato, farmhouse cheddar, and red onion.

Onion rings are another bar or diner classic that I love though I have never attempted to make them at home so I was excited about watching my mother fry them up. These onion rings and fried cauliflower were light and crisp with an airy batter which browned up nicely in vegetable oil. The batter was almost like a tempura batter with few ingredients and a lot of air to evenly coat the sliced onion and cauliflower florets. The problem I have with crappy onion rings is that the onion inside overly dense batter gets soggy, losing the characteristic bite and texture of fresh onion. These onion rings were delicately crisp on the outside and just cooked through inside, addictively good dipped in a little ketchup or curried mayonnaise. Now I know that delicious onion rings can be pulled off at home with a little know how and the bravado to do so.

The dessert, as if we needed one after all that fried food, was red velvet cupcakes. My mother whipped these tasty dark red confections from scratch, following Paula Dean’s recipe from the Lady and Sons cookbook. Her frosting was a classic cream cheese and melted marshmallow blend spread thickly over the crown of each cupcake then topped with toasted coconut and a white jellybean. The little Easter cupcakes resembled a bed of straw with a freshly laid chicken egg, both festive and delicious which my mother accomplishes in spades. More to come from Red Hen Farm over the next few days and as always, I encourage you to enjoy and share delicious food and home cooked meals with yourself and others!

No comments: