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Sweet Potato Curry With Coddled Eggs

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Recipes, Taste of the Landscape

Sweet Potato Curry With Coddled Eggs
Your kitchen will smell divine when you make this deeply flavored sweet potato curry, which sings 
with spice and heat. At Kismet, it’s most often served as a brunch dish in little individual cast-iron skillets, but it makes a great vegetarian supper too. Or if you like, stir in chickpeas and serve over rice or couscous for a standout vegan meal 
any time of day.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  2. 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  3. 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  4. 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  5. 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  6. 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  7. 1 jalapeño
  8. 2 medium-sized mild chili peppers, such as Anaheim 
or poblano
  9. About 4 tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped 
(to yield about 4 cups chopped tomatoes and juices)
  10. 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  11. 2 shallots, roughly chopped
  12. 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  13. 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger, 
firmly packed
  14. 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
  15. ¼ cup olive oil
  16. 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more 
to taste
  17. 3 tablespoons neutral cooking oil
  18. 2 medium sweet potatoes 
(about 1½ pounds total), peeled 
and diced
  19. 8 eggs
  20. Sliced scallions, thick plain yogurt 
and crusty bread, to serve
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to broil with rack set in top slot. Set a small sauté pan over medium heat and add cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, cayenne and powdered ginger. Toast spices, stirring occasionally, until aromatic, about 3 to 4 minutes. Set spice mixture aside to cool. Lightly oil a small rimmed baking sheet and place jalapeño and mild chili peppers on it. Broil, watching closely, turning once, until peppers are soft and blistered dark brown or black in spots, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine tomatoes, tomato paste, shallots, garlic, ginger, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Add toasted spice mixture. Slice each pepper down the middle and remove stem and seeds (be careful when handling; wash hands very well before touching face). Coarsely chop and add to food processor. Purée mixture until smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, heat cooking oil over medium-high heat and add diced sweet potatoes, preferably in one layer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are lightly browned. Add tomato mixture along with 1½ cups water to sweet potatoes and stir to combine. Reduce heat, cover and simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender. Taste and add salt and more lemon juice as desired. (Can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated after coming to room temperature, but make sure to bring curry up to simmer before adding eggs.)
  4. Increase heat to medium. When curry is actively simmering, use a large spoon to make four indentations evenly distributed in pan. Crack two eggs into each depression. Season eggs with salt and pepper. Cover pan again and cook just until whites are no longer translucent and yolks are cooked to your liking, about 5 minutes. 
Serve garnished with sliced scallions, dollops of thick plain yogurt and crusty bread. Serves 4 as a main course.
Notes
  1. Photo by Andrew Wellman.
Adapted from Chef-owner Crystal Maderia, Kismet, Montpelier
Adapted from Chef-owner Crystal Maderia, Kismet, Montpelier
Vermont Life Magazine http://www.vermontlife.com/blog/

Remote Possibility | Art connections drive hope in gritty St. Johnsbury

Written by Kim Asch on . Posted in Way of (Vermont) Life

Photographed by Ken Burris

A study in contrasts: St. Johnsbury is not an affluent area, but a foundation for the arts was laid with Gilded Age wealth from the Fairbanks family, whose legacy includes the St. Johnsbury Athanaeum, currently under the direction of Bob Joly.

st j athanaeum

PHOTOS ABOVE: A study in contrasts. St. Johnsbury is not an affluent area, but a foundation for the arts was laid with Gilded Age wealth from the Fairbanks family, whose legacy includes the St. Johnsbury Athanaeum, currently under the direction of Bob Joly (second photo).

By most any measure, St. Johnsbury is an unlikely cultural hub. This town of just 6,200 residents in the remote Northeast Kingdom is about 75 miles from the state’s largest city, Burlington, and almost 50 miles from affluent Stowe. St. Johnsbury is not a wealthy place either — the town’s median household income is almost $20,000 less than the state average — and it is dogged by the same woes that trouble small towns across America: the fraying of downtown, the illegal drugs, the outflow of good manufacturing jobs.

And yet, with a slow-building influx of writers, musicians, painters, filmmakers and community-builders, followed by a spurt of activity in the last few years, the town has pivoted toward the arts as a vital piece of its future. The scenario has played out in varying degrees in other former mill-and-rail towns along the Connecticut River system — White River Junction, Bellows Falls, Brattleboro — and it is playing out here.

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In St. Johnsbury, the foundation was laid in the Gilded Age, when the industrialist Fairbanks family amassed a fortune and used its wealth to build cultural institutions. Both the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium and the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, on Main Street, are quintessential specimens of Victo-
rian architecture and house impressive collections from the era. The St. Johnsbury Academy, also founded by the Fairbanks family, is a well-regarded independent high school, serving both locals and boarding students on its attractive grounds on the hill.

Today, these institutions are intertwined with a relative newcomer, Catamount Arts, a community-and-arts energizer founded in the mid-’70s by filmmaker Jay Craven. In 2008, Catamount Arts completed an ambitious reinvention project — a $1.7 million makeover of the 1912 Masonic Lodge building on Eastern Avenue, which became its new home — and that same year, Jody Fried signed on to head the organization.

A native of the Northeast Kingdom, Fried had enjoyed a lucrative career in health care administration that took him all over the United States, but he returned to his hometown of East Burke and ran several businesses, including the country store, before realizing that his passion was in community leadership. His mother had been a guidance counselor at the St. Johnsbury public school, both of his parents were civic-minded, and he was determined to raise his four children with the same kind of experience he remembered from childhood — but with more access to arts and culture. “We’ve spent five years reinventing Catamount Arts, and we really have it on an incredible path,” Fried says. “I wouldn’t want my kids growing up anywhere else.”

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Sage and Cider–Brown Butter Sauce

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Recipes, Taste of the Landscape

Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Sage and Cider–Brown Butter Sauce
These little pillows of savory sweetness are easy to mix up, but do take just a bit of work to roll, cut and cook. At T.J. Buckley’s, they might be served as a side to hanger steak or braised short ribs or featured as one of six or seven offerings on Fuller’s signature vegetarian platter beside frizzled leeks with kale and thinly sliced fennel sautéed with seasonal mushrooms.
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For the gnocchi
  1. 1 large sweet potato 
(about 1 pound)
  2. ½ cup (4 ounces) whole-milk ricotta cheese (Fuller uses sheep’s milk ricotta, but any good farmstead ricotta will work)
  3. 2 tablespoons finely grated dry cheese, such as Vermont 
Shepherd or Parmesan-style
  4. ½ teaspoon fine salt
  5. 1½ cups all-purpose flour
For sauce and to finish
  1. 8 tablespoons butter, divided
  2. 16 fresh sage leaves
  3. 1 tablespoon apple cider
  4. 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Prick sweet potato several times through skin. Bake sweet potato until very soft all over when pressed, about 50 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, set ricotta in a fine sieve over a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and weight it with a can or jar to help expel excess liquid. When sweet potato is cooked, slice it in half lengthwise and cool completely. Scoop flesh into a large bowl and mash thoroughly until there are no lumps (you should have about 1½ cups).
  2. Stir drained ricotta, grated cheese and salt into sweet potato until thoroughly combined. Gently work in 1¼ cups of the flour, adding the remaining ¼ cup by tablespoon just until a soft dough forms. It will be a little sticky but should be workable. (Don’t overwork dough or gnocchi will be tough.) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter and divide into 4 equal balls. Roll each ball into a long rope about ¾-inch wide. Use a sharp knife to cut each rope into ½-inch pieces and mark with the tines of a fork if desired. Transfer to a lightly floured rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining balls of dough. Trays of gnocchi can be left out, loosely covered with a clean towel or plastic wrap for a couple of hours. They can also be frozen on baking sheets to keep them separated and then, once frozen, stored in zippered plastic bags. (Do not thaw if cooking them from frozen, noting they may 
take an extra minute to cook through.)
  3. When ready to cook gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add gnocchi in batches, stirring once to make sure they stay separated, and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, about 3 to 4 minutes. Cooked gnocchi should float to the surface of the pot, but taste one to be sure. Remove cooked gnocchi with a slotted spoon and lay, well separated, on clean baking sheets, patting gnocchi dry with paper towels.
  4. Preheat oven to 200 F. In a medium sauté pan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until the foam subsides and the butter begins to brown. Add sage leaves. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until sage leaves are crisp. Remove sage leaves to a plate and set pan with browned butter aside.
  5. In another large sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add enough gnocchi to fill the pan, but with enough room to turn them, and brown on two sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove browned gnocchi to a platter and keep warm in oven. Finish browning gnocchi in batches, adding butter to the pan as needed, and keeping warm in oven, until all are browned. Put brown butter sauce back on medium heat and stir in cider and cider vinegar. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until hot. Serve gnocchi drizzled with brown butter sauce, fried sage leaves and additional grated dry cheese as desired. Makes about 120 gnocchi: serves six as a main course or about 10 as an appetizer.
Notes
  1. Photo by Andrew Wellman.
Adapted from Adapted from chef-owner Michael Fuller, T.J. Buckley’s, Brattleboro
Adapted from Adapted from chef-owner Michael Fuller, T.J. Buckley’s, Brattleboro
Vermont Life Magazine http://www.vermontlife.com/blog/

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