Contains: Gluten, grains, dairy, nightshades, added sugars. Is: An admitted splurge.
There’s a restaurant in Bernardston, Massachusetts, The Farm Table. Everything (that possibly can be) is sourced locally, from individual farms, all credited on the menu. We went here back on February 25th, during the Wind Storm of The Winter of 2019. (At least, I hope it the last and only one so intensive!)
Although I’m not writing up a true review of the place (in part because the menu will change often according to availability), I’d consider this a 4.25 star establishment. We visited at lunch. My friend and I shared a salad with various lettuces, arugula, fennel, onion, carrot — and a to-die-for smoky maple salad dressing. There was just enough maple in it for the dish not to be too sweet even for me, but to capture the essence of good Massachusetts-reared local maple. NO tomatoes… not in season! Although we shared ONE salad, our individual halves were larger than most full salads at most establishments.
We were in the mood for cheese, there were a variety of other dishes available for lunch, most of which also sounded great.
We shared two entrées. The second was okay (a little too starchy for either of us, but otherwise flavorful), but the first was stupendous. I’m sorry, you do NOT need to add flour to make a cheese roux for mac ‘n’ cheese, no matter HOW much you use several good quality cheeses and good home grown bacon or avocado to the dish. (Since I doubt it is ever possible to grow avocado in Massachusetts any time of the year, I can see them making an exception for this ingredient.) And this was even before you crusted up the top with more flour or flour-product-related, however lightly. The dish already has PASTA. It does not remotely need more of the same. But, okay, it was a far more decent mac ‘n’ cheese compared to most you might get out anywhere else. The right combination of cheeses… Just won’t order that again.
The first though: We shared open face grilled cheese sandwiches. Awesome!
Local made bread slices, toasted, with a layer of a locally produced jam atop, followed by locally-produced Brie, topped with thick slices of local bacon, and speckled with thin slivers of jalapeño pepper. Served open-faced. There was a great balance between salty, sweet, fat, and a speck of heat. All the ingredients succeeded in mellowing out the excesses of the other ingredients. YUMMM. Five stars!
So, I decided to re-create this dish to some degree. I didn’t remember the type of jam they used (and I had a couple potential jams here, and since I don’t eat much jam, I wasn’t willing to go buy something else…). Nor the type of bread. But… hey… I can have fun doing my own personal riff on this. Maybe it will work out enough that I can post it on my blog??? Ahem, here it is!
Here goes… the health value on this dish is on the low side (but hey, the jalapeños are healthy!)
(Note: Dish created February 28th.)
Ingredient notes (adapt to what you find around you):
Toast: I bought sourdough bread from Berkshire Bakery, Pittsfield. They will pre-slice it for you if you so with. Everything is baked on site. I wanted to select something without much in the way of added ingredients (olives, nuts, rosemary, etc.), that might conflict with the gestalt of the finished sandwich. But I figured the sourdough flavor would go along. (PS, this place called this item their San Francisco loaf.) Genuine bakery loafs will yield a wide range of bread slices sizes. If you have no other choices, a good supermarket loaf could work, just don’t get wild with the ingredients.
Jam: I don’t eat jam much, so I figured I’d select from the gifted ones in my cabinet. ATM I needed to choose between Farm to Jar’s Strawberry Rhubarb Jam or Stonewall Kitchen’s Boysenberry Jam. Both sounded great, but I went with Strawberry Rhubarb solely on the basis that this one was in the house longer, thus should be used sooner. Use what you have/like, preferably with a degree of tartness, and preferably without that commercial emphasis on excess sugar.
Brie: The supermarket won. I went with St. Andre’s brie, because it could provide wide slices, and it was also a bit more price-savvy than some of the other brands. After making this, however, I think a slightly more tart brand (probably more expensive) would likely work even better. It needed a bit more bite.
Bacon: From a Connecticut pasture-raised hog farm. I prefer to use the skillet (with a splatter guard) to cook these, but oven-baked is okay, too. I find that microwaved bacon is hit or miss – I like mine crispy but not blackened, and since bacon varies wildly in size and thickness (especially if you get yours direct from the farm), microwaved bacon passes from flabby to burnt in mere microseconds. So, I recommend never microwave it.
Jalapeño: Supermarket again, but from the organic section. Taste yours prior to use, as I’ve discovered that not all jalapeño are created to the same level of heat. And individual preferences obviously vary.
I’m not really going to give precise measurements here, because everything I’m using can come in different sizes if we go by the slice or something. And this dish doesn’t really lend itself to weighing.
Oh, one more thing. I know this isn’t “grilled” – I simply grew up with parents that called any melted cheese sandwich a “grilled cheese”, even though they were usually open-faced and cooked in the oven. Just like they also called fried chicken (always baked in the oven) just that, simply because it was battered as if it were “fried” chicken… Old habits die hard!
Prep Time: About 15 minutes.
Cook Time: About 10 minutes, both the skillet and the toaster oven or oven.
Rest Time: Eat immediately.
Serves: Below recipe given for per person.
Cuisine: Brunch or lunch with French overtones.
Leftovers: Not optimal.
Grilled/Melted Brie, Jam, Bacon, Jalapeño on Sourdough Toast
- Bacon, 2-3 slices.
- Bread slices, 1-3 slices, size depending.
- Jam, around 2 tablespoons or so, whatever will cover your toast.
- Slices of Brie. You can and should include bits of rim. Enough to cover your toast.
- Thin slices of jalapeño, de-seeded.
Get everything lined up and ready.
Cook your bacon as you usually do, but I recommend the skillet (if only because you will briefly grill your slices of bread here). But use your favorite timings and settings, based on slice thickness, flipping accordingly.
Remove the bacon to a paper towel to absorb the grease.
Remove all but about a tablespoon of bacon fat from the skillet.
Grill one side only of the slices of bread in the skillet, about a minute on the same heat that you used to make the bacon.
Remove the bread from the skillet, place briefly on an absorbent paper towel.
Place these slices, grilled side down, in an appropriate pan, then smear on some jam on the un-grilled side, to the edges.
Arrange the Brie slices so they don’t overlap, on top of the jam.
Add the bacon, covering much of the cheese.
Dot on the jalapeño as desired.
Bake in a toaster oven (370 F) for 2 – 3 minutes (check it at two minutes). This is handy if you are just making this for yourself.
~~ OR ~~
Pre-heat your regular oven to 370 F, place the pan in the oven, bake for 2-3 minutes (check at the 2 minute mark).
You want the cheese soft but not oozing out and all over. Well, Brie is soft, but you want it noticeably softer.
Verdict: Very good, and will be made on an occasional, more celebratory basis, although I will use a higher grade Brie next time, and just a little less of this particular jam, as it was slightly sweeter than I personally would prefer – which means it would be perfect for most people! (Jams, of course, will vary.)
I’d rate this quick and easy, except for the fact that quantities of ingredients cannot be spelt out for the user of this recipe with precision.
I’ll note that my friend ordered a dessert at The Farm Table for her birthday, and I took a taste or two. Also awesome, and it didn’t even need to have chocolate, raspberry or coffee to be awesome. (WHAT?) I learned about something called “olive ice cream”, and there were various other good flavors in it, mostly not overly sweet.
As for the first part of our day out: We ventured to Magic Wings, in Deerfield, MA, a butterfly conservancy. I’m closing out with a few photos from there to whet your visual appetite… :
Also at the Homestead Blog Hop.
And at the Full Plate Thursday home.
And, at What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link Up.