Five culinary creatives from VAlley eateries share their stories and a signature recipe.
From menu mainstays to family favorites, the culinary artists of the Mt. Washington Valley have no shortage of delectable dishes up their sleeves. We tapped five local culinary tastemakers for their signature recipes to teach our readers how to whip up a restaurant-inspired meal at home.
By Cathryn Haight
Crispy Brussels Sprouts with a Blood Orange Vinaigrette
Jeffrey Fournier, Chef & Co-Owner of Thompson House Eatery
When we think of winter cuisine, we typically envision decadent holiday desserts and unctuous braised meats and stews. But the true crown jewel of the season’s bounty is the hearty vegetables—think earthy beets, creamy potatoes, and—most importantly— crunchy Brussels sprouts. These miniature cabbages can be crisped to perfection, absorbing seasonings, sauces, and glazes between their leafy layers.
Despite the slew of scrumptious ingredients added to the sprouts, Fournier emphasizes that the most important element of the dish is its texture, so make sure that they’re crispy on the outside with a soft, succulent center.
Chef Jeff Fournier of Thompson House Eatery elevates the veggie with a citrusy blood orange vinaigrette as well as savory flavor secret weapons like fish sauce and porcini mushroom powder—all of which add a nuanced complexity to the dish. “This is a great fall and winter dish that relies on umami to give the Brussels sprouts some extra punch,” says Fournier, who has been helming the restaurant alongside his wife Kate since the couple opened it about four years ago. “I think that the addition of the blood orange vinaigrette is unusual, and the acid helps to bring out the flavor of the Brussels sprouts.”
Despite the slew of scrumptious ingredients added to the sprouts, Fournier emphasizes that the most important element of the dish is its texture, so make sure that they’re crispy on the outside with a soft, succulent center. The cast iron skillet will help here, as it holds heat well and will promote the caramelization that gives the Brussels melt-in-your-mouth, crisp outer leaves.
Chef Jeff Fournier of Thompson House Eatery elevates the veggie with a citrusy blood orange vinaigrette as well as savory flavor secret weapons like fish sauce and porcini mushroom powder—all of which add a nuanced complexity to the dish.
As for what to pair with this zesty side, Fournier recommends a sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, but for the chef himself, the sprouts also go in tandem with fond memories: “This dish reminds me of opening,” says Fournier. “There was a version that we had on the opening menu and it was a big hit.”
This culinary creative has a career spanning 30 years— first trying his hand in the kitchen at restaurants in L.A. before returning to his native Massachusetts. There, he worked as a sous chef in James Beard Award-winning chef Lydia Shire’s Boston restaurant empire before opening his own, 51 Lincoln, in 2007 in Newton, MA. He went on to receive numerous awards for his food from local media outlets and open a second restaurant before arriving in Jackson in search of a more balanced lifestyle. Now, the chef focuses on developing scratch-made dishes for Thompson House Eatery with fresh vegetables from the restaurant’s greenhouses and, most importantly, his family.
Recipe: BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH BLOOD ORANGE VINAIGRETTE Yields about 1-2 servings
For the blood orange vinaigrette
- 1/3 cup blood orange juice
- 3 tbsp honey 3 medium shallots
- 1/2 cup Champagne or white wine vinegar
- 1 cup grapeseed oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the crispy Brussels sprouts
- 2 cups Brussels sprouts
- 1 tsp dried sweet Nora chili flakes (or your favorite chili flake)
- 1/2 tsp ground porcini mushroom powder
- Dash of Tabasco hot sauce
- Dash of fish sauce
- A drizzle of grapeseed oil (about 1 Tbsp)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Quarter Brussels sprouts and heat cast iron skillet with a drizzle of grapeseed oil on medium-high heat
- Add Brussels sprouts to pan; season with kosher salt and black pepper; sauté until Brussels sprouts are crispy—about 10 minutes, or so
- Add dried sweet Nora chili flakes and ground porcini mushroom powder
- Deglaze pan with a dash of Tabasco hot sauce and a dash of fish sauce after Brussels sprouts are crispy and caramelized
- Make the vinaigrette: Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until emulsified; season with salt and pepper to taste
- Transfer sprouts into a serving dish and drizzle blood orange vinaigrette on top before serving
THOMPSON HOUSE EATERY Jackson, NH • (603) 383-9341 • thethompsonhouseeatery.com
THE “SMOKE SCREEN TAKE TWO” COCKTAIL
By Ian Evans, Food and Beverage Manager at the Christmas Farm Inn
This fruity, piney tipple might just be your new favorite après ski sip. Inspired by two classic cocktails, the Penicillin and the Smoke and Mirrors, Christmas Farm Inn’s Ian Evans set out to craft a scotch-based drink with a touch of citrus and a cold-weather spin. He incorporated wintry flavors like cranberry and ginger, and relied on his years of experience handcrafting homemade bitters and simple syrups to infuse the cocktail with sweet and botanical notes to balance its tartness and warming spice. “Pine has been an ingredient that has always intrigued us, but pine resin is such a challenge to work with,” says Evans, who’s been helming food and beverage operations at the inn’s restaurant for 10 seasons. “I’ve been making homemade bitters for about a year now, so I wanted to see if I could extract the pine flavor with high-proof alcohol.
We had already decided that the Koval Cranberry Gin Liqueur was going to be a component, so the additional ingredients added to the bitters were intentionally chosen to complement that.” These additions included aromatic anise, fragrant orange peel, and sweet, dried cranberries— along with muddled juniper, which add fruitiness and a peppery kick.
“Most of these ingredients are classics for when the weather gets colder,” says Evans. “The drink is tart with the right amount of sweetness. It’s a little spicy from the ginger, smoky from the scotch float on top, and surprisingly booze forward.”
Evans then whips up a rich vanilla simple syrup infused with fresh vanilla beans that, when combined with the raspberry-ginger jam in the cocktail, yields an almost holiday cookie-like taste. “Most of these ingredients are classics for when the weather gets colder,” says Evans. “The drink is tart with the right amount of sweetness. It’s a little spicy from the ginger, smoky from the scotch float on top, and surprisingly booze forward.”
Once shaken together, the rosy-hued drink is topped with a smoky scotch float (a technique where a cocktail is finished with a top layer of liquor) and served in a coupe glass with a twist of lemon. Originally beginning his restaurant career in the dive bar scene, Evans worked for years in the Gorham area and a brief stint in Florida before making his way back home to the Valley and landing at the Christmas Farm, which has a centuries-old history in Jackson. The property where the charming country inn sits was once a Christmas gift—and that’s where it gets its festive name.
Now run by Gary and Sandra Plourde since 2010, the inn boasts a host of activities for winter getaways, all of which would pair well with the Smoke Screen. Evans says: “The spicy and smoky notes are great for blustery, cold winter nights.”
Recipe: Smoke Screen - Yields 1 cocktail
For the Cocktail
1½ oz blended scotch (Evans recommends Monkey Shoulder)
½ oz Kovl Cranberry Gin Liqueur
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
1¼ oz vanilla syrup
1 bar spoon (small spoonful) of raspberry/ginger jam (or half of each)
4 dashes of pine bitters
1/8 oz Caol ILA 12-Year Scotch
For the Vanilla Syrup
36g arabic gum
2 split vanilla beans
70g pine needles
For the Pine Bitters
3 crushed star anise
(or about 1 ½ tsp)
2 orange peels
2 Tbsp dried cranberries
3 Tbsp gentian root
3 Tbsp muddled juniper
12 oz juniper-forward gin
4 oz vodka
1. Make pine bitters at least 14 days in advance: fill a mason jar or other closed container, beginning with the pine needles and followed with the star anise, orange peel, cranberries, gentian root. and juniper; add vodka and gin and then store jar in a cool, dry place for two weeks; taste at day 14 and keep storing until desired flavor intensity is achieved.
2. Make vanilla syrup: add sugar, vanilla, pine needles, and water to a small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce for about 24 minutes. Let cool, then pour into jar with arabic gum and steep overnight; strain
3. Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake until condensation starts to form on the outside of the shaker; strain into a coup
CHRISTMAS FARM INN 3 Blitzen Way, Jackson, NH • (603) 383-4313 • www.christmasfarminn.com
BURNT ENDS SANDWICH
From Nick Durgin, Chef at 302 West Smokehouse & Tavern
“Brisket is not for the faint hearted,” says chef Nick Durgin, who took over the kitchen of BBQ mainstay 302 West in 2018, but began cooking at age 16. “We probably smoke about 1,000 pounds a week even in the slow season; I have people traveling anywhere from two hours just for burnt ends.”
“With the white BBQ aioli, you get a real taste of mayo and vinegar and a little bit of cayenne. And your cheddar cheese really makes it pop and makes it rich. You look at the thing and you’re like, ‘Holy cow.’”
Durgin first came up with the concept for his “belly buster” brisket sandwich when he spotted a similarly sized one in a magazine, adapting the idea to make it his own with a generous glug of white BBQ aioli, cheese, crispy veggies and, of course, the eatery’s signature burnt ends caramelized in brown sugar and barbecue sauce. “They’re very sweet, savory, and tender,” he says. “With the white BBQ aioli, you get a real taste of mayo and vinegar and a little bit of cayenne. And your cheddar cheese really makes it pop and makes it rich. You look at the thing and you’re like, ‘Holy cow.’” The barbecue master begins by patting the brisket dry and seasoning with kosher salt before letting it rest at room temp for an hour and a half. That’s followed by another round of salt, more resting, and a robust rub of aromatics like cumin, chili powder, and paprika. Although it may seem simple, this process is integral to allow the seasoning to absorb into the meat before it heads to the smoker to cook for 16 hours. “Brisket is one of those finicky things,” says Durgin. “If you’re not cooking at a nice low heat, nice and slow, it’s going to wind up being tough. So, if you want a tender brisket, you really just have to take your time and make sure you have consistent heat.” And take his time he does—with the total duration of the brisket-making process clocking in at a cool 26 hours.
And it’s been “one hell of a ride” for the chef, too—diving right into creating his own recipes and building camaraderie in his kitchen.
Along with being the perfect accompaniment to a side of fries and a craft brew, the sandwich is also the perfect stick-to-your-ribs meal for snowmobilers, according to Durgin, as they take a break from a long winter ride. And it’s been “one hell of a ride” for the chef, too—diving right in to creating his own recipes and building camaraderie in his kitchen. “The people that you work with—you build relationships with almost family-like values,” says Durgin. “I really try to give the shirt off my back for the people that work for me. They really make the restaurant what it is.”
RECIPE: BURNT ENDS BRISKET SANDWICH Yields 12oz of brisket per sandwich
White BBQ sauce
- 8 oz of mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp Texas Pete Hot Sauce
- ½ tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 pinch of ground white pepper
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 lemon wedges, squeezed
Rub for brisket
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 2½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp onion powder
- ¾ tsp ground mustard
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
The brisket is made up of two different muscles: the point and the flat. The point cut is the fatty part of the brisket, which is called the deckle. The flat cut, also known as first cut, has the deckle removed, which makes it leaner and causes it to lay flat. Brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of beef or veal. The beef brisket is one of the nine beef primal cuts, though the definition of the cut differs internationally. The brisket muscles include the superficial and deep pectorals.
- 14- to 17-pound brisket, pat dry, then season with rub; let it marinate for 12-24 hours; if you’re going to smoke it, you’ll want to use hickory or pecan wood for a nice rich smoke flavor.
- Depending on if you’re using an offset smoker or an electric cabinet smoker will determine how much you will have to keep an eye on your fire; with a cabinet smoker, you can load your chamber with wood and set the timer and it will do all the work for you; using an offset smoker you’ll have to keep an eye on your fire, keeping the temperature between 200 and 250 degrees.
- The key to brisket is to have it well sea- soned, cooking it at a low temperature for a long period of time—that ensures all the fat renders, giving you all those great flavors of brisket.
- Smoke the brisket for 15 hours at 170-180 degrees; then let it rest for about a half-hour before cutting into it. 5. To make the burnt ends, take the point cut of the brisket, cut it into 1” x 1” pieces, then coat with about a 1½ cups of brown sugar, 1 cup of preferred BBQ sauce, put in a disposable aluminum pan, cover with foil, and return to the smoker to cook for another hour or two.
302 WEST SMOKEHOUSE & TAVERN
Fryeburg, ME • (207) 935-3021 • www.302west.com
CRANBERRY POT ROAST
From Chef Brian Coffey, Owner of Brian Coffey Catering
With a decades-long history behind it, Chef Brian Coffey’s cranberry pot roast proves that great food stands the test of time. The dish, which Coffey created while working at the New England Inn in 1981, still remains on its restaurant’s menu 40 years later—the only one to do so. “I was a young chef and wanted a dish on the menu that had great flavor and texture, and was very affordable,” says Coffey, who now helms his eponymous catering business full time after retiring from the restaurant industry in 2019. “It ended up being the most popular dish on the menu, so it kind of gained its own momentum right there, and still to this day, I get recipe requests for it.”
“I was a young chef and wanted a dish on the menu that had great flavor and texture, and was very affordable.”
To make this rich and hearty winter entrée, this veteran chef uses chuck roast—a primal cut filled with flavor—and slowly braises it to render the beef juicy and tender. He complements the meat’s savoriness with a generous quantity of fresh cranberries, which yield a tart, refreshing burst, and adds a touch of sweetness with maple syrup and brown sugar. All mingle together to form a pool of complex flavor. “The cranberries along with the braising liquid make for a wonderfully rich gravy,” says Coffey.
Cooks should pair the roast with classic sides like buttery mashed potatoes or maple-glazed carrots and, as far as libations go, Chef Coffey suggests a cabernet sauvignon.
The gastronomic guru also recommends trussing (tying) the roast before you begin cooking, as it better holds it shape, and reminds us not to skip the searing step before the meat goes into the oven—it seals in moisture and gives the chuck a rich mahogany hue. Cooks should pair the roast with classic sides like buttery mashed potatoes or maple-glazed carrots and, as far as libations go, Chef Coffey suggests a cabernet sauvignon, Moat Mountain Brewing’s Czech Pilsner, or a glass of ice-cold milk (his children’s favorite).
Before he was cooking up dishes like his signature roast, Brian was shadowing his mother (also a caterer) in the kitchen since the age of 9. He later honed his culinary skills at high-end Boston hotels like the Lenox and the Park Plaza before he put down roots in the Valley by chance—coming up during an unfortunately rainy ski season and getting a cooking job at the New England Inn to pass the time. Soon, he became their lead chef and eventually went on to open Studebaker’s restaurant in North Conway and cook at other area eateries before turning his catering hobby into a fulltime gig.
And despite the dish’s history of topping tables at sumptuous banquets and refined weddings, he assures that it’s as simple to make as it is delicious to eat.
Now, Chef Coffey constructs elegant menus for everything from dinner parties to intimate elopements and also shares his vast culinary know-how through instructional videos on his cooking YouTube channel (including one on how to make this roast). And despite the dish’s history of topping tables at sumptuous banquets and refined weddings, he assures that it’s as simple to make as it is delicious to eat: “People constantly send me emails and say they were surprised about how easy it was to make and how well it came out because the recipe is so easy to follow.”
Recipe: CRANBERRY POT ROAST Yields 4-6 servings
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 4-5 lbs chuck roast
- 2 cups Spanish onions, chopped
- 2 cups whole cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup maple syrup (100% pure)
- 2 cups beef stock, warm
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch mixed well with
- ¼ cup of cold beef stock
You can substitute canned whole cranberry sauce for the whole cranberries—just remove the brown sugar. Keeps fresh in the fridge up to 7 days.
1.Preheat oven to 300° F
2. In a cast iron skillet or large sauté pan over high heat, add olive oil
3. Once the oil begins to smoke, add meat and sear on all sides
4. Once meat is seared, remove from heat, lower heat to medium-high, and add onions; cook onions until they start to caramelize, then remove from heat
5. In a braising pan, place cooked onions before placing the seared chuck roast on top; add cranberries, brown sugar, maple syrup, beef stock, and cover with a lid
6. Place in preheated oven and cook for 3 hours, or until meat is fork tender
7. Remove meat from pan, and place braising pan on stove; bring liquid to slow boil and stir in the corn starch mixture of until liquid coats the back of a spoon
8. Strain the gravy; slice the roast against the grain and portion onto plates, top with gravy and serve!
BRIAN COFFEY CATERING Bartlett, NH • (603) 730-2267 • www.briancoffeycatering.com
CINNAMON ROLLS FROM KRYSTYNA LARAMIE
Baker at Frontside Coffee Roasters
When Krystyna Laramie was offered the very first in-house baker position at Frontside Coffee Roasters last February, she began testing and tinkering with recipes before she even entered the café’s kitchen. The cinnamon roll was one of the first treats she set out to master. “It includes all of the things about baking that I really love: a yeasted, buttery dough, cinnamon, brown sugar, and a cream cheese frosting,” says Laramie. “I spent the day looking at recipes and carefully trying out the one I liked best. That afternoon, I brought them over to Kirstie’s (the general manager of Frontside) house for a get-together with friends—and we ate the whole pan.”
Now a popular weekend special at the coffee shop, Laramie’s cinnamon rolls are soft, buttery and stuffed with a sweet and warming filling. A classic cream cheese frosting brings an irresistible tanginess that balances the roll’s richness, while a caramelized bottom adds a pleasant chew and texture. “I find making a good bread really satisfying, and while cinnamon rolls may not exactly be bread, they have the same elements,” says Laramie. “Also, there’s something really wonderful about cutting up the rolls and seeing the cinnamon swirl inside.”
Although the cinnamon rolls are scrumptious as they are, Laramie’s secret for a little extra softness and longer shelf life lies in an unexpected, optional ingredient: mashed potatoes.
Since her cinnamon roll recipe was so rigorously tested, the baking guru has a handful of tips to help home cooks who decide to whip up this decadent sweet. Laramie reminds us to make sure the dough maintains a fairly soft, malleable texture, so it’s easier to flatten out and will yield a moist pastry once baked. And if the dough is misbehaving and snapping back into a ball despite numerous passes of the rolling pin, she suggests bakers let it sit for about 10 minutes until it relaxes and flattens out without issue. Although the cinnamon rolls are scrumptious as they are, Laramie’s secret for a little extra softness and longer shelf life lies in an unexpected, optional ingredient: mashed potatoes. “If you have the time and the potatoes, I definitely suggest trying it,” she says. Once the sweet treats emerge from the oven, the pastry extraordinaire says she likes to pair the rolls with your favorite coffee or tea and a cozy fireplace.
“I am always trying to improve my techniques and recipes and I hope that those who come in and buy my baked goods truly enjoy them.”
Before arriving in the kitchen at Frontside, Laramie began her culinary career after answering an ad for a baking job in the newspaper. She had no previous professional experience in the industry, but her pastry prowess scored her the position, nonetheless. From there, she spent time as a prep cook at the Sunrise Shack and continued to foster her love for culinary work. On how she’s liking her new gig at the coffee shop, Laramie says, “I was ecstatic and immediately took the job. I am always trying to improve my techniques and recipes and I hope that those who come in and buy my baked goods truly enjoy them.”
Recipe: CINNAMON ROLLS Yields about 15 pastries
- 4½ cups flour
- 2¼ tsp active dry yeast (1 package)
- ¼ cup warm water (about 110 degrees F)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup cooked mashed potato (optional)
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/4 cup sugar granulated
- 1 tsp salt 2 eggs, lightly beaten Cinnamon sugar mixture
- ½ cup brown sugar 2 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ cup butter melted (for brushing)
- 2 oz cream cheese, softened
- 2 Tbsp butter, very soft; can also be melted
- ¼ cup half & half or milk
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
1.Make mashed potatoes if you plan to use them. Allow to cool.
2. Bloom yeast in warm water: add a pinch of sugar to bottom of small bowl, add warm water and yeast; give it a gentle mix and allow to sit until foamy, about 5 minutes (if your yeast does not get foamy, it is either dead or your water was too hot; this recipe will not work if your yeast is not active)
3. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in bowl
4. Melt 1/3 cup butter; add to dry ingredients along with milk and lightly beaten eggs; add yeast mixture last (optional: add the mashed potatoes as well
5. Mix with dough hook for about 5 to 10 minutes until dough pulls away from the bowl and is tacky, but no longer sticky when touched (if doing this by hand, you will need to knead on a lightly floured cutting board; it will take about 8 to 12 minutes of kneading by hand
6. Place dough in an oiled bowl, turning over once to ensure dough is lightly oiled; cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size
7. Lightly flour a clean countertop; you will need a space that is about 14” x 24”; lay dough on floured surface and softly punch down to release some of the built-up gas; let sit for about 10 minutes without working it
8. Meanwhile, grease/spray a 9” x 13” pan; glass or metal is fine
9. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon for filling
10. Melt butter
11. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
12. Roll dough out into a 12” x 18” rectangle
13. Brush dough with melted butter; allow butter to cool for a minute or two before brushing onto dough
14. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture all over dough; you can use your hand to spread it around a bit if it is unevenly distributed
15. Carefully roll the dough into a log shape, rolling up from the bottom of the longest side
16. Cut the log into 12 equal sized rolls; (if the middle section of the log is thicker than the ends, you can cut the middle rolls slightly smaller than the end pieces)
17. Place rolls in prepared pan and cover with plastic wrap; let rise for 30 to 45 minutes until almost doubled in size
18. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown
19. While baking, make the frosting: add all ingredients to stand mixer with whisk attachment (or add to large bowl and use a hand mixer); beat until smooth
20. Let rolls cool for about 10 minutes and then spread frosting over tops, as much as is desired
FRONTSIDE COFFEE ROASTERS North Conway Village, NH • (603) 356-3603 • www.frontsidecoffee.com