Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cookin’ Up Something Good in Lancaster

It’s not often that an innkeeper can get away in the fall. Ah, but a bit of planning paid off last week when I attended a cooking class with Scott Martino at The Good Cooking Store in Intercourse.  You may remember that I met Scott on my first visit to this store –he was handing out samples of his Italian spaghetti sauces.  (See my previous blog, It's a Good Thing For Cooks in Lancaster County.)

The setting is delightful – Upstairs on the second level of the store is a state-of-the-art kitchen complete with TV screens and room for 18 of your closest friends.

Scott started out by saying that he’s not a typical chef with an ego that fills the room.  We were encouraged to ask any kind of cooking question during the whole process.  This casual atmosphere gave us time to jot down some notes ....while being served a three-course dinner.
Dinner was Radish and Cranberry Salad with Goat Cheese and Black Pepper, Pan Seared Diver Scallops with Sweet Pea and Asiago Risotto and....my favorite.....Chocolate and Valoplicella Crema with Fresh Whipped Cream.  Yum!

Scott was trained in the classic French style – hot pans to sear and seal in the juices and finishing in the oven. I had taken cooking classes a long time ago at a French restaurant that used the same technique.  However, this kitchen had brand new All-Clad cookware which stood in start contrast to the beat-up pans of my favorite French restaurant from long ago.

Scott's advice was that the most important thing is to cook love into everything you make – don’t just follow the recipes....taste...adjust....love the food.  And remember that butter is better.  I soooo agree!

He also talked a lot about working at various restaurants like The Loft and Doneckers, passing along little tricks of the trade.

A little present appeared in the back of the book of recipes....10% off all non-sale items that evening.  It provided what little incentive I needed to shop at one of my favorite stores.  And so I set off – the Cuisinart double boiler was a good buy at $34.99 – it will fit snugly over 1, 2 or 3 quart pans and had a nice rounded bottom that will make tempering chocolate a dream, a little pig that will sit on my soup kettles and hold my spoon (after all, soup season is just around the corner) and a new Kyocera ceramic knife.  This is my kind of store and there is always something that I need. 

Ah, a wonderful evening out indeed. To see the list of cooking demonstrations and upcoming classes, click here.  If you’d like to make it a complete girls’ night out, don’t forget to book your room at The Artist’s Inn.  We’re only 20 minutes away.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pumpkin Crazy in Lancaster County

Whether it’s Fairytale, Cinderella, One Too Many or the plain old Jack-o-Lantern, Lancaster County is covered in pumpkins.  I recently visited two of my favorite farms to share some pictures with you.  They are right around the corner from The Artist's Inn.

As the summer landscape gives way to cooler weather, there’s no loss of color – from mums and asters of every color to the vast array of pumpkins that seem to float in fields around every turn.  Gourds of every size and shape decorate front porches, and roadside stands boast huge boulder-sized pumpkins of every shade of orange.  They seem to exist just to make us happy.

If you are lucky, you’ll take the time to explore some new varieties....and choose some to take home - they make great souvenirs!  But you’d better hurry – the heavy fall rains have left many pumpkins rotting in the field.  Be sure to store them out of the weather so they’ll last longer.

We admit it – we ARE pumpkin crazy.  

Look closely at the pumpkin on the left.  Luke carved the words in it when it was young, and as it grew, so did the welcome!  Of course, no fall decorations would be complete without including our own Cat in the Hat.  As you can see by his smile, he likes pumpkins too!

But my favorite pumpkin this year is one that no one can explain.  It has no name and grew in the middle of the gourd patch, looking a bit like a giant candy corn.

For more about pumpkins and gourds, read out other blogs on this subject: Lancaster County - The Land of Pumpkins!Pumpkinology, and Gourd-o-Mania!