saucy. is a chronicle of (mostly) delicious adventures involving: farming, love, art, seasons, dirt, dinner, weddings, and D.I.Y-ing

saucy. is a celebration of creative, fresh food, ideally of the local and organic persuasion - inspired by globetrotting and created by me at Bliss Ridge; our farm in Vermont.

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BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE & SALTED CARAMEL CAKE! (the most delicious cake ever)






• CHICKEN LIVER PATÉ (the recipe that transforms haters)


STAND-UP BACON! (the bacon-centric hors d'oeuvre for bacon purists)























GO-TO (chocolate) GANACHE



CRANBERRY GELÉE (fancy topping for cakes, trifles, puddings)








MAJESTIC MAPLE GELATO (like ice cream, but better!)

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jorDan von Trapp


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    Entries in maple (2)


    Majestic Maple Gelato.  

    I boinged out of bed in the pitch dark today... well okay, it wasn't exactly a "textbook" BOING like say, this

    (©Lori Anderson) (airborn dad & me upon first glance down the "aisle" on wedding day)


    And I suppose it wasn't quite like this either

    (©Dana Jinkins) (Note champagne nonchalantly standing by in lower right corner...)

    Anyway, I was up and very awake well before dawn with my "milker guy" (his self-coined title as of 9:07 last night when he was all tucked up in bed, informing me that really, contrary to my giggling wonderment, 9 was a perfectly suitable bedtime for "milker-guys" like him...he is just trying to milk these last few days of "winter" because when real summer strikes we don't even think about coming in for dinner until 9 when it is beginning to get dark!) 

    Milker guy had other living things to attend to today

    So ole twinkle eyes made his way out the door, chuckling at me as usual.  As for me, other than the fact that my hip is in questionable form after some surprise pre-dawn Chuck Norris-esque roundhousing (in my case the result of a fit of unpredicted excitement rather than defense of the universe) which took place well before the copious dose of espresso that I am now flying on, March has been astonishingly majestic

     Pictures speak louder than words.

    I will presume the above home-cured maple & sage bacon on a backdrop of sprouting ARTICHOKES, cilantro and Etc., lures you into accordance with aforementioned buoyant antithesis of peaceful slumber. 

    Contrary to my (hero) milker guy, visions of fresh, delicious, hard-earned, organic latte (... or more accurately his responsibility to do his part of the chores over the hill at the family dairy farm) were not actually what levitated me out of dreamland at an ungodly hour.

    Maybe it was knowing that there are finally two prosciuttos evolving in the basement (a personal dream of mine)

     Maybe it was guessing that, with a forecast of 78, Popsicle Season 2012 may well begin today.....! (and managing to relish in that joy without it being overshadowed by the sheer terror of the implications of climate change... for a minute anway...)

    (Fresh garden strawberry and non-garden mango-yogurt-ginger popsicles, Popsicle season opening day, June 2011)

    Or the existence of other Spring things

     such as the arugula forest thriving in the greenhouse


     Delectable overwintered parsnips... The ground is unfrozen to the depth of at least 1ft in one of the gardens... as I didn't even have to pull out the Hercules card to dig these beautes on Saturday...

    The baby onions and leeks are literally growing faster than the weeds

     (It is so cool how they sprout up––like they are touching their toes––then they straighten up from the "waist" and stand tall...does that make sense?)

    But really, it was probably The List. No matter how efficient I think I am metamorphosing to be, my list of to-do's grows exponentially each day. I suffer from a (beneficial in some cases) parasite by the name of chronic ambition. And another by the name of NO PATIENCE.

    AND then there is the maple gelato that I made the other day, that was and is burning a hole in my mind... the deep, tree-y, sweet, smooth, outrageous-tasting dessert, all perfect in its little jar with a hinge top and spicy glazed sage-y pecan garnish... 

    That is what dreams are made of.

    And dreams, of course, would not have been possible without milker guy and the milk that he brought home with the three inches of cream on top.  You might be wondering why I didn't just go with milker guy to help harvest my key ingredient...

    (other than the fact that I have about 8 actual jobs including such pressing tasks at the top of said list as editing a couple of books ((not my own)), planning a wedding ((not mine, obviously), figuring out how to come up with the "match" part of the matching grant that we just became the lucky recipient of, not to mention frantically ordering the fruit trees and wondering if I shouldn't plant things in the garden two months early... what if winter comes in August this year!?!?...etc., etc., etc.

    Well, because I did just that, twice; tried milking. Rest assured that I do understand, in detail, where the milk comes from... Due to the multifaceted capacity of the white elixir in the realm of culinary magic... and the fact that I just like to try things, and the fact that for someone (me) who would rather eat gelato (& regular old ice cream in some cases) than anything else, with cheese being right up in the top 5 most adored consumables, I thought it was ridiculous (especially being the wife of "milker guy" who grew up on a dairy farm, and being from* a state who boasts more cows than people ((which is rumored not to be true anymore)) not to have even tried milking a cow in my 28 (at-the-time) years of age... 

    So once upon a time I did go with him.

     ... As evidenced by this vintage photo of my dashing saucy. emblazoned coverall-sporting milker guy.

    I, did find out however, that I am not a milker gal. 

    I also found out that I believe everyone who enjoys dairy products should try milking cows. 

    And, I think that milk should be a lot more expensive. And I have 0 patience for animals, zero. Oh yeah, sure, baby animals are cute.  But notice how SMALL they are... think about their brain size...

    ...I also am one of those people who recommends trying things, even if you have a preconceived notion of what it will be like, well, especially if you have one of those. 

    And no, don't get any ideas, I don't mean try everything ie: do not try out things like lying or drugs, or Blue mountain Dew but DO try things like milking cows and combining unexpected flavors and tasting things that sound really strange and throwing hay bales and smiling a lot and being thankful and learning from every experience and quitting a habit like TV or cigarettes and putting all the $ and time you save into a piggy bank and using it to go on a cool adventure 

    Ok, you're right, we've never had a television habit (or a television actually) nor a cig habit, well, except for one night

    ©JC McIlwaine

    We had it all and more that night. Even a camoflauge PBR holster.  Check out those nails; my sister and I split a packet of them. 

    It took us 3 days to get out of character after that NYE party... (and to get those nails off) habits are apparently hard to kick.

    How did I get from MILK to Virginia Slim menthol light extra lengthy-you've-come-a-long-way-baby-120's?

    No matter how little I used to appreciate milk, after tasting that slim, I can think of only a few items with a more heinous flavor.  From where is menthol derived?

    Not that I condone addictions, but if you are going to have a fetish for a dessert item, the following one is actually quite healthy for a sweetie... and definitely worth a taste AND I know you can make it, even if your kitchen track record is less than stellar, you can do it, go on, give it a try.  It is quick, simple, and amazing.

    (*And, oh, the only thing that might make this MORE delicious, is the addition of a bacon topping... which we will cover in the next post... all sorts of interesting hog-related antics.)

    Majestic March Maple Gelato

    1 cup maple syrup (as dark as you can find... I roll with grade C or at least B for that Fiiiine powerful unmistakably maple flavor)

    2 cups milk (ideally whole, raw, organic––trust me there is a HUGE difference in flavor and nutrition)

    2 cups cream (see above recommendations)

    generous pinch good sea salt (I like sel gris)

    4 egg yolks (preferably organic & pastured)

    I have made this with varying ratios in the milk and cream dept. and it has been wildly successful each time.  If you change the ratio to 3 cups milk : 1 cup cream, you will have a slightly icier texture, especially if there is any left that you end up storing in the freezer (doubtful).  If you go with 3 cups cream and one cup milk, you will have a denser, creamier texture.  All ratios are delicious.  I think all gelato is better when it is freshly churned and soft and billowy.... I don't understand why most recipes tell you to freeze it for awhile before eating, which is impossible with this one anyway, it is way too delicious; I recommend starting the churning right after dinner and voila' 20 mins later you will be ecstatic.  Oh, AND contrary to popular belief, gelato is so simple to make.  If you curdle the yolks by accident, just bust out the immersion blender and buzzBuzz the mixture for two seconds and it will be back to smooth.

    1) Pour 1 c. maple syrup into a small saucepan and heat over medium at a simmer for about 5-7 mins, until it reduces slightly.  Add the 2 c. milk and 2 c. cream to the pan and continue heating over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 7 mins.  Remove from the heat.

    2) Separate your 4 eggs and place the whites in a jar in the fridge for later use... (Im thinking meringue for a springy key-lime tart...) Place the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a medium-size bowl if you have a hand-held beaters.  

    3) 4) Beat the 4 egg yolks with the whisk attachment (or by hand) until they are light yellow and frothy.  Very gradually pour your hot milk into the yolk mixture while the machine is running.

    5) Pour the whole shibang back into the saucepan and stir constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture lightly coats the back of a wooden spoon (about 10 mins). If you over do it and the eggs scramble, as I said above, just buzz with the immersion blender for about 2 seconds until it is a uniform liquid again.

    6) Chill for a long time... if you are short on time start it in the freezer for the initial cool-down and then move to the fridge before ice crystals start to form. You want it to be cold before you put it in the ice cream maker.

    7) Retrieve cold custard from refrigerator (it won't be really thick like an American idea of custard) and pour into your ice cream machine. I have the one that attaches to the kitchenaid.  I turn it on and pour in the mixture while it is running or else it will freeze up! (Or follow the directions for your machine).

    While it is churning, make these simple and amazing nuts. I would recommend quadrupling the recipe and using them for a snack, as a cheeseboard accoutrement...

    Spicy, Sweet, Sage-y Party Pecans (can use walnuts and or rosemary here!)

    2 cups pecans or walnuts (or any mix of nuts!)

    1/2 tsp cayenne

    1 tsp sea salt

    1/2 tsp ground black pepper

    1 tsp (or more to taste) minced fresh sage or rosemary or a combination

    Drizzle of maple syrup (approx. 1/8 cup)

    1) Preheat oven to 375. Rub a baking sheet with butter if you don't want it to be caked with maple syrup crystallization.

    2) Place ingredients in a dish, drizzle with maple syrup, spread evenly on the sheet.

    3) Bake for approximately 10 minutes; do not walk away like I always do or else you will have black nuts and have to start over...

    4) Watch them like a hawk, they are ready when they begin to smell delicious. Remove from oven and cool.

    5) Scoop ice cream into dishes and top with nuts. Swoon.


    The Sexiest Chicken Ever.


    You might already be thinking I've lost it...

    But yes I do actually realize that there is nothing sexy about that lonely naked chicken in the corner...



    Better with the red?

    No, not really.

    How about a new position?



    Okay okay sorry, I think I am am feeling a slight lingering Rosé Cava haze, which apparently entails the unfortunate side effect of bad jokes... and there is also something wrong with me


    ie: on the left is what we just left, in exchange for the glory on the right, which lies just outside the door... Clearly I am sick.

    But my enthusiasm for this particular chicken is not a part of my winter delusion disorder.

    "Sexy" may sound like a bit of a stretch as a yard bird branding... last night as I awkwardly held the phone to my left ear with my right hand, gripping an ice pack with burned fingertips and rattling off a waterfall of expletives regarding my dinner, my sister, giggling, asked "what exactly is it about this chicken that qualifies it as 'sexy'?" ...I am trying to remember why I have been referring to this dish as such for the past couple of months because, let's get real; a lonely naked bird doesn't have a chance in hell. 

    Wait a minute...



    How about an un-lonely, un-naked, un-dead chicken documented with a foxy-as-hell farmer!... that's better isn't it!?

    But the chicken we are talking about is dead, not dead-sexy. Oh dear sorry, sorry, I need to stop. I am just going to tell you how to cook this bird so you can continue your Valentine's week with another voluptuous and seductive dinner. And I am going to be serious and just get to the point.

    Spatchcocking. Have you heard of this? Well, the French do it differently than the technique described in the Gourmet cookbook, where I found the inspiration for this recipe, which is apparently different from the Australian version which is apparently different from the English... (why can't we all get along)... I was confused so I checked the Le Cordon Bleu Cook's Bible for the illustrated rendition of le spatchcock.  It sounds like a weird American bastardization so I didn't think I'd find anything, but alas, there it was, on page 92... but they used needles and stuff... and sewing flesh was not on my must-do list yesterday.  All of the photos I could find online featured a simple flattened bird... so I did my best to follow along with the text in the Best of Gourmet 2007 cookbook...

    Warning: these photos highlight the extreme un-sexiness of naked, lonely, dead chickens.


    Clearly Gusgus disagrees with our sentiment on the allure factor of this creature.

    Step 1: Take strong scissors (kitchen shears) and holding onto the tail of the chicken, cut along the backbone all the way through on both sides. (Our chickens still have necks because, back on kill day, we were too busy with the Rolling Rocks to make a unified neck pile location decision if you recall...)



    Anyway, the "backAndNeck," as the West Indian ladies call it, makes for a damn fine soup stock so make sure you save it.



    (I keep le Bone Bag in the freezer and add miscellaneous bones until I am in desperate need of stock and then empty it into my cauldron with all the chicken feet and a little abracadabra.)

    Just kidding about the feet... actually, I don't know what happened to those feet... there were 100, enough to overflow a five-gallon bucket... which we thought was absurdly funny...



    Is that morbid and weird?

    I did have a couple of chef friends that said they would've liked to make foot stock had they known about the surplus up here.  Anyone want to claim the 2012 bucket of feet? Let me know! They also make nice Christmas ornaments; my (vegetarian) sister-in-law made some killer duck foot ornaments that we proudly display each year.  I am serious.  Okay, okay I am sorry, enough, lets get back to the sexy part of this chicken.



    Step 2: After the backbone is removed, pat the bird as dry as possible with paper towel and place it skin-side up as in the above photo. Press down quite fiercely in the middle as shown above, breaking the breast bone and allowing the chicken to lie flat.

    At this point it feels all wonky and wobbly. And things just get weirder.



    Step 3: Find the center point between the thigh and breast and make a small incision, as shown above. Then, tuck the knobbly part of the drumstick through it (see right side of photo and try not to make such a big tear)



    Step 4: Make small incisions on the sides of the breasts as shown above, and tuck the wings in as well.



    Voila' –– a (sort of) neat little flat(ish) package. If that isn't sultry I don't know what is. 

    Haha, no no, I do realize that that chicken looks weird and playing with dead chicken is also nothing short of weird.

    BUT you just wait until you cook this thing up and then get back to me. The finished product is irresistable and you too will find yourself risking burned finger tips to crack into the crisp, perfectly browned skin... the silhouetted sage leaves luring you in... and then, I predict, you will burn your tongue and you won't care because it is so delicious. And then you will realize you haven't even taken it out of the pan to finish the sauce...

    The sauce is sublime and ridiculous and mellifluous and beyond noteworthy.  It will put you into a frenzy and you won't care that it is dripping down your arms and when your dinner is ready you will be gleefully picking up your drumsticks and dipping them into the extra, wishing that the sauce supply would never end. Then, it will, because you won't be able to stop guzzling it and you will want to do the whole thing again asap. I actually think you will agree that the deliciousness of this very chicken recipe is worth raising your own organic backyard birds.

    In fact, I think that this recipe is the only thing that I have cooked more-or-less exactly the same way more than twice in as long as I can remember... (did I mention I like to try new things? and that I only measure for the sake of being able to report recipes to y'all?)

    My point is, that there is much more here than meets the eye.  Of course the quality of the chicken matters, a lot.  My flamboyant claims above are based on an organic pastured chicken who spent their nine weeks of life at Bliss Ridge... Don't buy supermarket chicken and don't buy non-organic chicken feed... and don't get me started on GMOs... because I don't have time to rant all day right now because I have to give you this recipe so I can go eat leftover valentine chocolate-chile mousse with a mountain of fresh whipped cream.


    Rather nonchalant cast of characters:

    Generous handful of fresh sage, 1 tbsp whole pink peppercorns, 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns, kosher salt, black pepper, 1 bad-ass chicken (I used a 6.5lb one for this recipe)

    1/2 cup of good apple cider vinegar, a half-gallon of bootlegged black vodka

    1.5 cups Homemade chicken stock

    Fresh or dried Rosemary

    7 tbsp butter (I used homemade raw, organic salted butter)

    Just kidding about the boot-legged vod, its just really dark (grade C) maple syrup from last Spring's harvest; use 1/2 cup of the darkest and most flavorful you can find!

    The Sexiest Chicken Ever. (inspired and based on Gourmet's "Chicken with black pepper maple sauce")

    1) See above for graphic spatchcocking instructions.

    2) Salt and pepper the bird generously on both sides, taking care not to de-contortion the package as your flip it over.

    3) Slip fresh sage leaves under the skin liberally.

    3) Heat 5 tablespoons butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. When it is all the way melted and hot but not smoking, place your chicken, breast-side down, into the butter. Sprinkle with fresh (or dried and crumbled) rosemary.

    4) Place a piece of parchment paper over the chicken and then get something really heavy (I used a cast iron skillet containing two bricks, with the cover of the le Creuset on top of it all):



    5) Cook until chicken is perfectly browned, about 20 minutes (watch to make sure your flame is low enough so it doesn't blacken but high enough so it makes a perfect crust.)

    6) Meanwhile, get your sauce on: toast the whole peppercorns in a dry saucepan over medium heat, for a few minutes until fragrant, then coarsely grind them in a mortar and pestle or with the back of a heavy spoon or pan.  Put them back in the saucepan with the 1/2 cup of maple syrup, 1 cup of chicken stock, a teaspoon or so rosemary; bring to a simmer then reduce heat and simmer on low for 20 mins.

    7) Flip the bird: remove all the weights, then the parchment paper, turn the chicken over, replace the parchment and weights on the other side and cook for another 30 mins, at which point your should check to see if it is done cooking (I just stab a knife into the breast and check if the juices run clear.  If your meat thermometer didn't break last year then you could alternatively use that). This 6.5 lb-er needed a total of 55 minutes.  When it is done, move it to a platter and resist the temptation to strip the bird of all the crispy skin immediately, but under no circumstances should you forgo tasting it straight away.

    8) Pour the 1/2 cup cider vinegar into the hot chicken pan and deglaze it over medium-high heat, scraping up all of the bits and stirring constantly until the mixture is reduced by half.  Then add the additional 1/2 cup of chicken stock, as well as the maple mix to this pan and boil until the sauce thickens, about 3 mins.  Reduce the heat to low and whisk in 2 more tablespoons of butter.  Turn off the heat and taste taste taste. Add salt if you think it needs some.  Mine didn't need anything; it was so good I wanted to drink it.  You can either strain it to remove all of the bits and have a smooth velvety sauce, or leave the bits in.  Yesterday I went with silky and my woodsman asked nonchalantly about the missing bits.  Of course I had predicted this as he always likes bits.  So I added them back in.



    I just threw the thigh atop some simple chickpea and roasted delicata salad with goat feta, smoked paprika, red onion and lemon. and PEA SHOOTS. Oh how I love those springy little units... which brings me to the conclusion for today because I need to go water my pea shoot garden.  I will tell you all about it soon.

    Please cook this chicken asap.  I am serious. Even if you don't yet believe my lofty claims. It will beguile you.



    And let me know what you think.  Is it worthy of its title?

    Do you like your sauce velvety or with bits?