Chocolate cake with raspberry Cassis sauce: Italian dinner dessert.

Chocolate cake with raspberry Cassis sauce.Here at the October Country Inn, we usually serve this chocolate cake for dessert with our Italian country dinner.  Check out the dining section of our website for more details about our Italian country dinner, including links to other recipes.  This chocolate cake recipe uses mayonnaise as a substitute for eggs and oil.  Be sure and use a real mayonnaise brand such as Hellmann’s.  Start by assembling the ingredients, a mixing bowl, and an eight inch round baking pan.

Ingredients:

  • I cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of real mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup of cold water

Preparation and cooking directions:

All ingredients ready to be mixed together.

All ingredients ready to be mixed together.

Before mixing the batter, spread a liberal coating of Crisco on the sides and bottom of the baking pan, place a small portion of flour in the pan and rotate up, down, and around to evenly coat the Crisco smeared area and dump out the remaining loose flour.  Once the baking pan is ready, place a sifter in a mixing bowl put in the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa powder and sift it all together.  To this dry pile of the sifted ingredients add the mayonnaise, water, and vanilla and mix it all together into a smooth batter.

Out of the oven and cooling.

Out of the oven and cooling.

Scrape the batter from the mixing bowl into the baking pan.   Then  spread it around until the thickness of the batter in the pan is more or less even.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven.  Bake for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, check that a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out without any crumbs sticking to it.  Let cool.

If you duplicate the recipe and bake two cakes you can make a layer cake with your favorite frosting.  I recommend cream cheese.  But we serve it as a single slice (an 8 inch cake can be divided into 10 reasonable portions, or 8 more generous slices) with a raspberry Cassis sauce over the top and freshly whipped cream.  To make the raspberry Cassis sauce, place about 2/3 cup of raspberry preserves in a small pan and add a couple of tablespoons of Creme de Cassis.  Heat while mixing together and spoon over plated slices of chocolate cake before adding a dollop or two of whipped cream.

By |2021-01-09T14:23:40-05:00June 14th, 2015|October Country Inn's Recipes|

Spanish rice: Mexican dinner side dish.

spanish rice servingHere at the October Country Inn, Mexican night is one of our favorite internationally themed dinners.  Spanish rice is an important part of it.  Edie and I are both from southern California, and we dearly love living in the Woodstock and Killington area of Vermont, but we really miss the good Mexican food that is so readily available in southern California.  So when we cook our Mexican meal for our guests, we always make sure there’s going to be plenty of leftovers for ourselves.

This particular Spanish rice recipe is very tasty.  It’s colorful and tangy without being spicy. Serves about 6 persons.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 plumb tomatoes, seeded, cored and diced
  • 1 cup of rice (we use Uncle Ben’s)
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 2 cups of water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Spanish rice preparation and cooking directions:

Onion, green pepper, and tomato diced and ready to go.

Onion, green pepper, and tomato diced and ready to go.

Saute the onions, green peppers, and garlic in the olive oil.  To dice the tomatoes, slice off the top enough to expose the seeded core.  Slice the tomato in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the core and the seeds with a spoon.  Dice the remaining meat and skin.  Place the water in a pot and bring to a boil.  Add everything to the pot and return to a boil.  Cover the pot and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes or until all of the free-standing water in the pot has been absorbed.  Season and fluff and serve while hot.  Ole!

By |2021-01-11T15:42:37-05:00January 10th, 2014|October Country Inn's Recipes|

Honey glazed salmon: Asian dinner entree.

honey-hoisin glazed salmon servingFresh wild-caught and honey glazed salmon is a supremely delicious choice for an easy to prepare yet elegant dining experience.  It is not always easy to get wild-caught salmon.  Unlike farm raised salmon, fresh wild-caught salmon is only available in the mid to late Summer months.  Of course, one could substitute farm raised salmon for wild-caught, and it would still make a nice meal. However, we highly recommend wild-caught if it’s available.  For richness, and depth of taste, there just isn’t any comparison between farm raised and wild-caught fish.  The wild-caught variety is far superior. Serves about 4 to 6 persons.

Honey glazed salmon Ingredients:

portions of salmon fillets ready to be glazed

Salmon fillets ready for first application of honey-ginger glaze.

  • 3 pounds of salmon fillets
  • 6 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh minced ginger root
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped chilpolte chili

Preparation and cooking directions:

Preheat a 450 degree oven.  Mix all the ingredients except the salmon together to prepare the glaze.  Place

Salmon fillets with glaze applied and ready for the oven.

Salmon fillets with glaze applied and ready for the oven.

the salmon filets on a foil lined baking sheet, bush with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Brush on a liberal coating of the glaze.  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes and reapply the glaze.  When almost done, move to the broiler to finish it off.  When we serve this dish for our Asian dinner at the October Country Inn, we always serve it with Jasmine rice.

By |2021-01-11T16:05:53-05:00December 11th, 2013|October Country Inn's Recipes|

Grilled flank steak with roasted vegetables: American picnic dinner.

Grilled flank steak with roasted vegetables on a platterAs the time to set the clocks back rolls around, and temperatures start to drop here at the October Country Inn,  a good hearty meal takes on an increasing appeal.  And, as evening comes much quicker than before, there seems to be a lot more time available to spend in the kitchen.  Although grilled marinated flank steak makes a perfectly fine dinner anytime of year, it’s especially perfect this time of year when accompanied by a selection of roasted vegetables.  Serves about 4.

Ingredients:

  • 1 piece of flank steak, trimmed of excess fat and silver skin
  • An assortment of root vegetables
  • olive oil, 1 1/4 cup
  • soy sauce, 1/2 cup
  • red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons
  • minced garlic, 2 cloves
  • Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons
  • dry mustard, 2 teaspoons
  • dried rosemary, 2 teaspoons
  • kosher salt, 1 teaspoon
  • Tabasco sauce, 1 teaspoon
  • black pepper, 1 teaspoon
  • cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon

Preparation and cooking directions:

Trimmed flank steak ready to go into the marinate.

Trimmed flank steak ready to go into the marinate.

Trim the flank steak and marinate for at least 8 hours.  For the marinate, combine 1 cup of olive oil with the soy sauce, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, dry mustard, and black pepper and whisk until blended.  Pour the marinate over the flank steak in a Pyrex casserole, cover, and set aside for about 3 hours, periodically sloshing the marinate over the beef in order to evenly coat it.  After 3 hours, refrigerate until about 1 hour before grilling.

Steamed vegetables spread out on a baking sheet and ready to go into the oven.

Steamed vegetables spread out on a baking sheet and ready to go into the oven.

Prepare the vegetables about 1 1/2 hours before grilling.  In this case, we used 1 medium sweet potato, 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, and 2 large carrots.  Wash the sweet potatoe, and the Yukon gold potatoes, leave the skin on, and cut into bite sized chunks.  Peel the carrots and also cut into bite sized chunks.  Place the vegetable chunks into a basket steamer in a pot with boiling water.  Cover and steam the vegetables for 5 minutes.  Carefully remove the basket out of the steamer along with its steaming contents and dump the dry but steaming vegetables into a mixing bowl.  Combine the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, the salt, rosemary, and cayenne pepper, blend well and pour over the steaming vegetables.  Gently toss to evenly coat the vegetables with the olive oil mixture.  When coated, empty the vegetables onto a baking sheet that has been coated with nonstick cooking spray and spread them out.

Marinated flank steak on the grill.

Marinated flank steak on the grill.

Grill the flank steak.

Place the vegetables in a 450 degree preheated oven, and take the marinated flank steak out of the refrigerator.  Prepare and light the coals for the grill at this time.  Turn and rotate the vegetables after about one-half hour.  After the potatoes have been in the oven about 45 minutes, place the flank steak on the grill over an even bed of glowing coals.  Grill for 10 to 15 minutes, turning once, depending on how you like it cooked.  Check with a meat thermometer (130 rare, 145 medium rare, 160 well).  Remove from the grill and slice diagonally against the grain.  Remove the vegetables after about one hour.  It all should have come together nicely, and you should be ready to eat.

By |2021-01-12T10:36:29-05:00November 10th, 2013|October Country Inn's Recipes|

Rice pilaf with toasted pine nuts: French dinner side dish.

Rice pilaf with toasted pine nuts and basil.

Rice pilaf with toasted pine nuts and basil.

All the October Country Inn’s dinners are internationally themed, and a rice pilaf is often a part of many of our meals.  A pilaf is typically rice that is cooked in a seasoned broth, such as chicken broth.  Also, as with many of our dishes, sautéed or uncooked diced onions  play a fundamental part in the list of ingredients.  Consequently, a quick primer on dicing onions seems an appropriate topic before launching into the recipe.

How to dice an onion.

How to dice and onionAs illustrated in the accompanying suite of photos, the efficient dicing of an onion begins with removing the ends in a way that utilizes the onion’s natural layers to create the diced bits.

As indicated in the top left hand photo, slice off just enough of the stem end, and its opposite, to create a small flat area.  This flat area provides a stable platform to slice the onion into two halves, as shown in the top right photo.  As in the bottom left photo, place  one of the halves on its freshly cut side, and cut it into a series of 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices, holding the whole thing together as you slice.  Finally, as the bottom right photo shows, turn the sliced onion a quarter-turn and repeat slicing from the end toward the middle.  Do one side to just before the middle, then turn the onion a half-turn and fining the final slicing from the end toward the middle.  You now have a pile of diced onions ready for the next step.

The beauty of rice pilaf is that the basic dish is especially open to endless additions and variations.  This particular recipe incorporates dried basil and toasted pine nuts.  Serves about 4 to 6 persons.

Rice pilaf ingredients:

  • 1 cup of rice (we use Uncle Ben’s)
  • 16 ounces of stock, water, or a mixture of the two
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of dried basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation and cooking directions:

Toasted pine nuts on a cookie sheet fresh out of the oven.

Toasted pine nuts on a cookie sheet fresh out of the oven.

Toast the pine nuts beforehand by placing them on a cookie sheet and putting it in a 350 degree oven for about 6 minutes.  Check on the toasting progress every couple of minutes, and shake the cookie sheet every time you check to loosen the nuts.  Remove it when some of the nuts reach a medium brown color.  Set aside to cool before use.

To prepare the pilaf, saute the onions in the olive oil until translucent.  Add the rice and stir for about a minute to combine with the onions.  Add the broth and/or water and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  When free liquid is absorbed, shut off the heat and allow to stand, covered, about another 5 minutes to allow rice to fully absorb the liquid.  Stir basil, salt, pepper, and toasted pine nuts into the rice and serve while streaming.

By |2021-01-12T11:02:14-05:00October 11th, 2013|October Country Inn's Recipes|

Meatloaf: American classic dinner entre.

meatloaf on a platterMeatloaf is not a dish we typically serve at the October Country Inn because it seems like red meat dishes have fallen out of favor for so many.  We sure like to cook it for ourselves, however.

Before we get into the preparation details–because there are so many meatloaf ingredient variations and possibilities–a brief discussion of the main components might be helpful.  A meatloaf contains four basic components: ground meat, filler, liquid, and a binder that holds the whole thing together.  For the ground meat, look for a prepared meatloaf mix that is as close as you can find to two parts of beef, to one part each of pork, and veal.  For the filler, you want something that adds to the texture without adding a distinct flavor.  Oatmeal, bread or cracker crumbs do this job well.  Eggs bind everything together.  Add some liquid that will moisten the loaf without adding it own distinct flavor.  A dairy product like whole milk or plain yogurt is our favorite.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of meatloaf mix
  • 6 strips of thin-sliced bacon
  • 2/3 cup of oatmeal or cracker crumbs, or 1 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or plain yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced
  • 1/2 cup of glaze (ketchup, barbecue, or chili sauce)

Preparation and cooking directions:

meatloaf ready to go into the ovenAfter you’ve gathered all the ingredients, prepare a foil lined baking pan, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the chopped onion and garlic for about 5 minutes or until softened.  Set aside to cool.  Mix the eggs, milk or yogurt, thyme, salt, black pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco in a medium bowl.  Add this egg/milk mixture to the meat in a large bowl along with the crackers, oats, or bread crumbs, the sautéed onions and garlic, and the chopped fresh parsley.

With wet hands, knead the whole thing together into an evenly blended lump.  Fashion into a loaf of about 9 by 5 inches on the foil-lined baking sheet and lay the bacon strips crosswise over the top tucking the ends under the bottom of the loaf.  Brush half the glaze over the top and bake until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, about 1 hour.  Cool about 20 minutes, apply the remaining glaze, slice and serve.

 

By |2021-01-12T11:11:13-05:00September 10th, 2013|October Country Inn's Recipes|

Toll House chocolate chip cookies: An anytime snack.

chocolate chip cookies on a plateWhen our guests check in to the October Country Inn, having a supply of freshly baked Toll House chocolate chip cookies is a responsibility we don’t take lightly.  This famous American cookie is particularly relevant to New England.  Ruth Graves Wakefield accidently developed the chocolate chip cookie in 1930. She owned the Toll House Inn, in Whitman, Massachusetts.  Wakefield is said to have been making chocolate cookies and ran short of melted baker’s chocolate. To make up for the shortage, she added broken pieces of chocolate thinking that they would melt and mix into the batter.  They didn’t melt and the chocolate chip cookie was born.

Scooping cookie dough into balls for freezing.

Scooping cookie dough into balls for freezing.

The nationwide craze for chocolate chip cookies is said to have begun during World War II. US soldiers from Massachusetts who were stationed overseas shared the cookies sent from back home with soldiers from other parts of the US. Soon, hundreds of soldiers were writing home asking their families to send them some Toll House cookies.  This recipe soon spread across the country. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Chocolate chip cookies ingredients:

  • softened butter, 1 cup
  • granulated sugar, 3/4 cup
  • packed brown sugar, 3/4 cup
  • 2 eggs
  • all-purpose flour, 2 1/4 cups
  • chocolate chips, 2 cups
  • chopped pecans, 1 cup
  • vanilla, 1 teaspoon
  • salt, 1 teaspoon
  • baking soda, 1 teaspoon

Preparation and cooking directions:

Fresh out of the oven and cooling.

Fresh out of the oven and cooling.

To make the cookie dough, combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.  Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in a large mixer bowl until creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips and chopped pecans.  Form dough into round balls about 1 1/2 inch in diameter.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 9 to 11 minutes, and cool.

In order to make sure we have a supply of ready to bake cookie dough ready to freshly bake cookies for our guests each day, we cluster the cookie dough balls on a cookie sheet and freeze them.  When frozen, the dough balls are easily stored in a plastic freezer bag and taken out and baked fresh as needed.

By |2021-01-12T15:08:26-05:00August 9th, 2013|October Country Inn's Recipes|

Garlic crusted chicken: Italian dinner entree.

Garlic crusted chicken on a platter.In the thirty odd years since October Country Inn’s founders, Pete and Ruth Hall, hit on the idea of serving internationally themed dinners, the Italian Country dinner has been a consistent favorite.  Garlic crusted chicken anchors this meal that is begun with a serving of Summer garden minestrone soup, and complimented with eggplant parmesan (both of these recipes have been previously posted).  Garlic crusted chicken is easy to prepare.  Serves about 6 persons.

Garlic crusted chicken ingredients:

  • 6 approximately 8 ounce split chicken breasts with the skin and bone intact
  • 1 cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 ounces of melted butter
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation and cooking directions:

All the pieces in place and ready to bread the chicken.

All the pieces in place and ready to bread the chicken.

To prepare this dish, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Foil line a metal baking pan big enough to hold all six breasts.  To prepare the breading combine the bread crumbs, chopped parsley, grated parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.  Melt the butter in a small, shallow pan and stir in the minced garlic.  Line up the raw breasts, the melted butter, the breading, and the foil lined baking pan.  First coat a breast with melted butter, then coat with the breading mixture before placing in the baking pan.  When done, place the pan in the oven to bake for about 40 minutes.  Check internal temperature with a meat thermometer.  It is done when a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees is reached.

By |2021-01-12T15:21:06-05:00July 10th, 2013|October Country Inn's Recipes|

Berry cobbler: American classic dinner dessert.

serving of berry cobblerHere at the October Country Inn, whenever we find ourselves with a bit of extra fruit that needs to be used, or we get an overwhelming desire for something sweet, Joanie’s berry cobbler is our go-to desert of choice.  It’s not complicated, uses the commonly stocked ingredients listed below, and really hits the spot.

berry cobbler ingredients Berry cobbler ingredients:

  • 1/2 a cup of butter
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 3 cups of cut fruit or berries of your choice.  A 12 ounce bag of frozen berries is perfect.

Preparation and cooking directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  We like to make this cobbler in a #8 cast iron pan, but you can also use a similarly sized pyrex baking dish.  Combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Place the butter in the pan and put in the oven to melt.  Have the milk, brown sugar, and fruit at hand in separate containers.

Joanie in the kitchen.

Joanie in the kitchen.

Remove the pan from the oven when the butter is melted.  Pour the milk into the mixing bowl with the flour,sugar, and baking powder and stir really slowly barely incorporating it all into a lumpy mass.  Pour this batter into the pan on top of the melted butter, distribute the fruit around evenly, and then spread the brown sugar around the edges and over the top with your hand.

Stick the whole thing back in the oven and set the timer for 45 minutes or so.  Keep checking. The top should be a golden brown when done.  Take it out out of the oven and set in on a rack to let cool until it settles into a thick fruity mass before serving.  We often add a scoop of Ben and Jerry’s vanilla ice cream to the top.  It just seems to make sense.  If you like this desert as much as we do, thank Joanie.

By |2021-01-12T15:33:25-05:00June 11th, 2013|October Country Inn's Recipes|

Tangy tomato soup: Served with the Asian dinner.

Bowl of tangy tomato soup.Guests here at the October Country Inn always give high praise when we serve this ridiculously easy to make tomato soup.  We often serve this soup as part of our Asian dinner, but it could be served with other international themed dinners.  It wouldn’t be out of place with a Greek dinner, or a Mid-Eastern dinner, or an American regional themed dinner.  This uncommon set of ingredients produces a soup that’s tangy without really being spicy.  It will probably require a trip to the grocery store. Serves about 6, persons.

Tangy tomato soup ingredients:

  • clam juice (see below), 1, 8oz. bottle
  • chili sauce (see below), 1, 12 oz. bottle
  • soy sauce, 1 1/2 tablespoons
  • heavy cream, 20 ounces
  • chilled butter, 2 ounces
  • salt, 1/4 teaspoon
  • cayenne pepper, pinch
  • a few sprigs of fresh cilantro

Preparation and cooking directions:

Heinz chili sauce, and clam juice, two important ingredients.To make this tomato soup, combine the clam juice, chili sauce, soy sauce, salt, and cayenne pepper in the appropriately sized pot over medium heat.  Bring all this to a simmer.  Turn down the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.  In a separate pot, scald the heavy cream and butter until the butter is melted.  Add the clam juice/chili sauce mixture to the heavy cream, and turn up the heat until it almost comes to a boil.  Garnish with a sprig of fresh cilantro, serve, and wait for the praise.

By |2021-01-12T15:48:45-05:00May 10th, 2013|October Country Inn's Recipes|
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