Misty Bleu Farm Blog

About Misty Bleu Farm

Misty Bleu Farm is located in beautiful Washington County, New York at the head of the Black Creek ValleyMisty Bleu Farm produces hops for the R.S. Taylor & Sons Brewery.

Located on 50 acres in the heart of the Hebron Hills, Misty Bleu Farm is the home of R.S. Taylor & Sons Brewery.  The Brewery and Taproom are open to the public Wednesday through Friday from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday 12 noon to 9:00 pm.  Come experience true field to glass farm-brewed beer at our farm, nestled among green hills and stunning natural beauty.  Our farm boasts over 600 feet of frontage on the West Branch of the Black Creek, with waterfalls and rushing cascades.  Tours of the brewery and grounds are available.  The Farm and Brewery are also available to be rented out for special events.  Please visit the brewery website, www.rstaylorbrewing.com for more details and directions.

Follow our journey as we create the Most Beautiful Farm Brewery in America!


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Gracious Goodness Holiday Nut Mix

Misty Bleu Farm - Friday, December 20, 2013

 

Christmas is coming and well, there may not be time for all of that holiday baking you planned.  So now you're stuck for food gifts.  Or maybe not.  Every year around the holidays I whip up a batch of Holiday Nut Mix.  Perfect as a cocktail nibble at parties and perfect for giving away as a food gift, it requires, get this, ABSOLUTELY NO COOKING OR BAKING.

Yes, you read that right. It's not cheap, but it goes a long way and people absolutely love it.  It's got that whole salty, sweet thing going on.  And the packaged nuts keep fresh for at least two weeks.   Just buy the highest quality nuts you can afford, pack them into food-safe bags or tins, tie with a pretty ribbon or bow and away you go!  I like to add little kitchen labels with my name printed on them from Felix Doolittle, but a pretty gift tag would also do the trick. 

My first batch this Christmas has already been distributed as gifts, so we'll need to make another batch to have on hand for cocktails and entertaining.  When holiday guests arrive unexpectedly, I just grab a pretty bowl, fill it with this mix, whip up a few cocktails, and voila! we have a party.

So, here's the Gracious Goodness secret nut mix recipe:

one 10oz. package of Craisins, two 6 oz. packages Wonderful roasted and salted shelled pistachio nuts (or other brand of shelled pistachios), one 10 oz. jar roasted and lightly salted almonds, one 10 oz. jar smokehouse almonds, two 10 oz. jars praline pecans or glazed pecans or walnuts (I used Praline Pecans from Price Chopper locally but "Killer Pecans" would do the trick, too), one 8.25 oz. jar of lightly salted whole cashews, and one 8.25 oz. jar honey roasted whole cashews.

Put all the nuts and the Craisins into a large mixing bowl.  Toss carefully to mix well.  Store the nuts at room temperature in a Ziploc storage bag or in individual food-safe bags for gift giving.  The mix will stay fresh and crunchy for about two weeks.  Enjoy!

This is an original Gracious Goodness recipe.

Gracious Goodness: What to Cook for a Birthday Party

Misty Bleu Farm - Sunday, August 25, 2013

 

Birthday parties are hard from a food perspective.  Usually they are either close family get-togethers where you are feeding adults and children OR it is a big bash and you have to feed a crowd.  Keep in mind a few points:

First of all, unless the person celebrating the birthday is a child, do not cater to the tastes of the one picky kid in the whole family -in essence do not dumb down your whole meal to appease the tastes of just one person.  That will be their parent's responsibility to find something appropriate for them to eat.  Second of all, we want to go back to our philosophy of making simple, familiar, good tasting food. 

What do people like to eat?  Pretty much everybody likes Italian-American food.  I always start out with my famous meatballs - delicious comfort food everybody can relate to.  You can make them in advance and just heat them before the party, they are inexpensive to make for a crowd, and you can make them smaller or larger depending upon what they are being served with. 

Caesar salad is also a good choice - a million restaurant menus cannot be wrong!  But nix the bottled dressing.  Even the better brands usually taste eggy and stale.  Instead, make your own from scratch Caesar dressing with lots of flavor.  Again, it is simple to make and you can make it days in advance - in fact, it probably tastes better if it sits for a day or two in the fridge before serving.  For me, I dress up the ubiquitous salad with homemade dressing with lots of lemon, garlic and anchovies; then I add oven roasted cherry tomatoes, crisply fried pancetta bits and shards of parmesan cheese.  It is familiar but with a whole lot more flavor.  Serve it on a big white platter family style with the dressing already tossed in.

And please, please, please no baked ziti!  Try something just a little bit different.  Recently, I made homemade gnocchi from a Barbara Lynch recipe.  Now, homemade gnocchi is not something everyone is going to have time for, but even store bought frozen gnocchi from a specialty grocery is going to be a whole lot more special than ziti and sauce. 

 

Another different yet familiar idea to pair with the meatballs is polenta.  Again, very inexpensive to serve for a crowd and you can either serve the polenta soft or fried.  And you can add flavorings to the polenta like garlic, rosemary, or mushrooms.  Making polenta is just about the easiest thing in the world, too.

And finally, the birthday cake.  I am a big believer in homemade from-scratch birthday cakes.  Nothing says I love you like a homemade birthday cake in someone's favorite flavor.  So what if your cake isn't completely level or the frosting started to come off?  It's homemade, dammit.  If a layer cake is too much for you, then bake a cake in a sheet pan and just frost the top.  Bakery cakes DO NOT compare to homemade, even the best of them.  So, avoid them at all costs.  Really. 

Gracious Goodness: The Art of the Canape

Misty Bleu Farm - Saturday, April 27, 2013

The word "canape" conjures up a fussy, stuffy dinner party staple.  But I think poor canapes have gotten a bad rap.  The whole idea is to offer up a little something to nibble with cocktails until dinner arrives. 

First of all, let's address this:  how did appetizers go so wrong?  Either they end up being  these ridiculously, impossibly complex"artisinal" concoctions that no one (in their right mind) planning a dinner party has time to make or on the other end of the spectrum, they're pre-made, overblown fat-bombs that fill you up guests before dinner.  Rarely are they actually appetizing.

That's why I like the term canape or bar snack.  Unlike "appetizers" or heaven forbid "apps", a canape is usually quite small and generally a simple topping on a carriage of bread or toast.  I like to expand on the idea to include other simple nibbles or bar snacks like nuts, homemade crackers or cheese biscuits.  I think the French and American southerners are brilliant at these types of appetizers.  The French have their gougeres and the southerners have cheese wafers and cheese straws.  That's how you do cheese as an appetizer, not a cheese platter with four pounds of waxy cubed cheese and crackers.

When entertaining, I suggest sticking to one or two (at the most) canapes or bar snacks before dinner.  Trust me, no apologies will be needed when you don't lay out the ubiquitous vegetable platter with ranch dressing dip.  No one will miss the dried out, pre-cut supermarket celery sticks.  You've got something better up your sleeve. 

 

Gracious Goodness Recipe: Creme Fraiche and Smoked Trout Canapes

Misty Bleu Farm - Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Instead of a green salad as a starter, here's a delicious, easy and elegant appetizer for this time of year.  In the Northeast in the late winter, good looking and fresh produce to make a salad can be difficult to find.  If you're having a late winter dinner party, this can be a problem.  Who wants to serve wilted greens on a so-so salad to important guests?  So, skip the salad entirely and serve either a soup (like my simple potato leek soup from my February 8th posting) or an elegant canape such as these: 

 

Ingredients:  4 tbsps. creme fraiche, 4 tbsps. mascarpone cheese, 1 tbsp. dijon mustard, 1 tbsp. or more to taste of prepared horseradish, 4 large slices of dark brown pumpernickel bread (I used Pepperridge Farms), 4 oz. of smoked trout (I used Ducktrap which is widely available), and chives or scallions for garnish.

Method:  Whisk the creme fraiche, mascarpone cheese, dijon mustard and prepared horseradish together in a small bowl until smooth.  Mix in a few grinds of fresh black pepper and 1/4 tsp. of salt.  Taste test to see if it needs more horseradish or salt.  When it is to your liking, wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. 

Lightly toast the pumpernickel bread slices and let them cool completely on a wire rack.  Using a small sharp metal biscuit cutter or cookie cutter, stamp out squares, rectangles or circles from the toast pieces on a cutting board.  Depending upon the size of your cutters, you should get at least 4 - 5 cut pieces out of each toast slice.  The toast slices can sit uncovered for up to 1 hour.

Right before serving, snip 1 tablespoon of chives or minced scallions, set aside. Using a fork, flake off several pieces of the smoked trout. Take each toast piece, dab a bit of the creme fraiche mixture on it, top with a piece of the smoked trout and garnish with the chives or minced scallions.  Arrange on a plate and serve immediately.  Makes about 16 canapes, serves 4 as a light appetizer with cocktails or wine.  This recipe may be doubled or tripled with ease. 

I made these for Valentine's Day and they were a hit.

Note:  all recipes on this blog are my own original recipes unless otherwise noted.  Please feel free to copy, share and experiment with them.

Gracious Goodness Recipe: Potato Leek Soup

Misty Bleu Farm - Friday, February 08, 2013

We've had a cold snap in the Northeast, the kind that can last for days.  Even though it looks bright and sunny outside, it is frigid.  This kind of weather calls for soup - something hearty and filling.  I decided  potato leek soup would be just the ticket.  Sorry, Francophiles, but I like it hot, not cold like vischysoisse, and thick almost like melted mashed potatoes.  It fits in with my philosophy that food should taste like what it is. It is hearty enough for a weeknight family meal or you can garnish it elegantly for a winter dinner party starter. 

 

This is also a good "jumping off point" recipe.  Use this as a base for other variations.  You can experiment and add spinach or watercress, for example, or how about a bit of beer and some grated cheddar?  Maybe some crispy bacon bits, chives and a touch of sour cream?   Use more vegetable stock and eliminate the cream to make it vegan.  That's the amazing thing about simple recipes - they can be anything but boring. 

You will need  aproximately 1/2 gallon or a bit more (8-10) cups of good quality chicken stock or vegetable stock.  I prefer to use Kitchen Basics stocks, as they are easily found at most grocery stores and are good quality and reasonably inexpensive.  Homemade stocks are, of course, the best, but not a lot of us always have time to put up gallons and gallons of the stuff.  You will also need a 5 lb. bag of Idaho potatoes, three medium sized leeks (white and light green parts only), and 1 pint of heavy cream.  Also, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and perhaps some snipped chives for garnish.  I used watercress and a drizzle of good quality olive oil as a garnish for a little peppery bite.

You will need a pretty large stock pot as this makes enough for at least 8 servings.  If you don't have a large enough stock pot to hold all the potatoes and leeks, use two smaller pots.

Method:  Peel and chop the potatotoes into a medium dice.  Clean the leeks of all sand and slice the white and light green parts into rounds.  Then cut each round into fourths.  Add all this to the stockpot.  Add enough stock to fully cover the leeks and potatoes.  Bring the stock mixture to a boil on medium high heat.  Lower the heat and let the stock go at a low boil for about 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are very soft.  Take the pot off the heat.

For the smoothest texture, I whiz up the stock, soft potatoes and leeks in batches in a heavy duty blender or Vitamix.  Add a couple of ladles of potatoes and broth into the blender, add a 1/2 cup or so of the heavy cream to loosen up the mixture, a 1/2 tsp. of salt and a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper.   Whiz it up until all the potatoes and leeks are fully pureed.  Pour the pureed soup into a separate large bowl and continue with the remaining batches.  If you find that the pureed soup is too thick for your liking, add additional stock until it comes to the consistency you prefer.  You can also use an immersion blender to puree the soup right in the stockpot, just add some salt and the cream directly into the stockpot.  You will have a more rustic texture if you use an immersion blender.

When all the batches are pureed, pour the soup back into the stockpot and reheat gently on low heat.  Taste test for salt and adjust if necessary.  Garnish and serve immediately or refrigerate for later use.  The soup tends to thicken up after refrigeration, so you may want to keep some additional stock on hand to loosen it up if it is being reheated. 

Note:  all recipes on my blog are my own original recipes unless otherwise noted.  Please feel free to copy, share and experiment with them.

Gracious Goodness Recipe: The Meatball

Misty Bleu Farm - Monday, January 28, 2013

Okay - here it is.  I've been working on perfecting this recipe for quite some time.  These are not quick and easy meatballs.  I have a recipe for those, too, which I'll share later.  But these take a bit of time.  There's quite a few ingredients, and they are all necesary.  Think of this as more of a special occasion recipe, like lasagna bolognese from scratch.  Time consuming but worth it.

Everything But the Kitchen Sink Meatballs

Makes 24 golf-ball sized meatballs, enough to serve 6-8 with pasta or polenta and have leftovers

Meats:  1 lb. ground beef (90%) lean, 1 lb. ground pork or veal, 4 oz. uncooked pancetta diced small, 4 oz. prosciutto diced small

Herbs and Spices:  1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley minced, 2 tsp. dried oregano, 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp. crushed red pepper (more or less depending upon your preference), 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, 1/4 tsp. allspice, 1 tbsp. salt, 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Dry Ingredients:  3/4 cup pine nuts roughly chopped, 3/4 cup Sun Maid Zantes currants or 3/4 cup regular raisins roughly chopped, 7 slices plain white sandwich bread ground to fresh crumbs in a food processor, 1/2 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese

Wet Ingredients:  2/3 cup whole milk ricotta, 1/4 cup red wine, 3 eggs lightly beaten

Method: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Line two sheet pans with non-stick foil or parchment paper and set aside. 

Let the ground meat warm up a bit on the counter so it is easier to mix.  Find the biggest mixing bowl you own and then add all the meats, herbs and spices and dry ingredients into the bowl.  Lightly mix the ingredients with your hands until they look evenly distributed. 

In a separate small bowl, whisk the ricotta cheese and red wine until the mixture is smooth and lump free.  Add the eggs and beat lightly until fully combined.  Pour the egg mixture over the meat mixture and mix until well combined. 

Let the mixture rest for about 15 minutes to give the wet ingredients a chance to be absorbed evenly.  Then form the meat mixture into twenty four evenly sized meatballs.  Place 12 meatballs on each sheet pan. 

 Both of the pans can go into the oven at the same time.  Roast the meatballs for 15 minutes.  Remove the pans from the oven and flip each of the meatballs.  Return the pans to the oven, rotating the positions of the pans.  Roast the meatballs for an additional 10-15 minutes more, until the meatballs are evenly browned and sizzling.  At this point I like to taste test one to make sure they are done all the way through. 

Remove the meatballs from the oven and let them cool slightly on the pans.  At this point, you can cool the meatballs and either refrigerate or freeze them for later use.  If you are using them immediately, they can be dropped into a big pot of red sauce and simmered for 20 to 30 minutes until fully tender.  Or you can do what I do, which is to place the meatballs in a shallow baking dish, cover them with 4 cups of marinara sauce, sprinkle them with parmesan cheese and bake in a 300 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.  I then serve them with polenta and Utica greens.

I'd tell  you how these taste as leftovers, but frankly, we never seem to have any! 

Gracious Goodness: On Recipe Development

Misty Bleu Farm - Sunday, January 27, 2013

For the last several years, I have been working on a small collection of my own original recipes that I would like to translate into a cookbook at some point.  The premise sounds easy enough - come up with a recipe, test it out a bit and there you go.  Well, not so much.

First of all, what sounds tasty to you today does not always sound delicious tomorrow.  Writing concise and easy to follow instructions is actually pretty hard.  And the more you cook something, the more likely you are to change up your recipe - you learn things like techniques along the way.  So, it has actually been a good thing that I have been working on this for, like, 8 years.  I'm weeding out the trendy recipes - the duds that will sound just weird in a decade - like an avocado jello mold from the 1970's.  I'm streamlining techniques, using only easy to find ingredients.

For the last couple of years, I've been scouring the better cooking blogs.  The internet has done interesting things to the world of cookbooks and recipes.  What's the sense in spending $35 on a printed cookbook if you can just look up the recipes online?  And there's just too many recipes online, in fact, too many.  Of course, most of them are worth what you are paying for them - nothing.  It's almost impossible to find the ones that work well.

Reading the better cooking blogs is fun and communal; and there are some really, really talented people who blog about their food and recipes - David Tanis, for one, and Rose Levy Berenbaum, another.  Some cooking bloggers have an amazing output - like one new recipe every day or so.  I consider this more of a stream of consciousness of cooking ideas than actual recipes.  And there is nothing wrong with this.  I happen to think "of the moment" ideas are terrific, and some of these blogs are great fun to read.   But the problem is, with so much volume of work, not all of these ideas and recipes are going to be good.  And that is a problem for me.  I am a very exacting cook.  I want details, I want to maste specific techniques, I want exactness.  So, I try to use the blogs as a jumping off point, a place to get ideas.  Rarely is it a place to copy a recipe word for word to go nail it in my own kitchen the first time out. 

But cooks are the greatest copycats in the world.  Any great chef will tell you this.  So, it pays to pay attention to what everyone else is doing out there.  My goal is to create recipes with some permanence - the kind of recipes that you will turn to again and again because they taste great, they are the kind of food people really want to eat and they work every single time.  My recipes are tested on family and friends first, then I beat the heck out of them and test them out for my catering and private chef business.  Then I tweak them some more. 

First up in one of my next posts - my meatball recipe.  Everyone needs one of those, right?  Especially those of us without a proverbial Italian grandmother.