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Red Wine Brownies

Red Wine Brownies, Fresh Tracks Farm style

2 local eggs
2/3 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter, melted (Vermont Creamery unsalted is best!)
½ cup chopped walnuts
¾ cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Cocoa (or for a kick, Lake Champlain Chocolates Spicy Aztec Hot Chocolate)
2 Tbsp Freerider Red (for the Spicier Brownies try Dog River Red instead)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine eggs with sugar and vanilla; add butter and wine. Stir Ghirardelli Chocolate with flour, baking powder and salt.  Combine with egg mixture; add nuts. Spread into greased 8×8-inch pan. Bake 25-30 minutes. Yields 16-20 brownies.

Icing (it’s essential)

4 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 ½ Tbsp granulated sugar
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
3 Tbsp Freerider Red or Dog River Red

Meanwhile prepare icing.  Melt butter over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and add chocolate, sugar and wine.  Continue heating over low heat stirring often, until mixture is smooth – don’t let it boil. Spoon hot icing over fresh brownies and let stand for a minimum of an hour; 12 hours is best.  Enjoy with a glass of your leftover wine!!

Adapted from:  Handcraft Wines – Pinot Noir Chocolate Brownies.



A Wine Competition for a Good Cause

The 2015 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition results are in! The two wines we submitted – The Messenger and 2014 Vermont Rose – earned Silver and Bronze medals respectively. We chose to participate in this wine competition for a number of reasons. Namely, it’s reputation, high level of quality, and for all of the hard work it does for Camp Good Days, a New York based organization that assists children affected by cancer, HIV/AIDS, abuse, and other life-challenges.

For the past 36 years, Camp Good Days has served more than 45,000 campers from 22 states across the U.S., and 29 countries from around the world. All of the programs and services provided by Camp Good Days are offered free of charge – thanks to the efforts of countless individuals, businesses and organizations. The Finger Lakes International Wine Competition is one of their key fundraisers, from which all proceeds are donated to Camp Good Days, and the remaining bottles of wine are auctioned off at their annual Auction Dinner in order to raise additional funding. We are thankful for the opportunity to contribute to the efforts of such an amazing program.



Awesome Arugula Salad

This salad brings together all the flavors of fall and winter. The Brussels sprouts lend a gorgeous smokiness the melds with the sweet apples and onions, and the blue cheese brings all the flavors together with its tangy richness. We loved this with our Grilled Ham and Cheese sandwiches, but it would be wonderful with a hearty quiche or topped with herbed chicken.

Ingredients:

  • Baby arugula
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1 empire apple or your favorite
  • 1 small red onion
  • Blue cheese from Blue Ledge Farm
  • Slivered snap peas (optional)
  • ½ a lemon
  • Fresh Tracks Red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs

Instructions:
Turn the oven on to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with the convection going. Toss the Brussels sprouts in a bowl with a little olive oil (just enough to coat them) and spread them out on a cookie sheet. Season with salt and a little pepper, and roast them for around 15-20 minutes. Us farm folk enjoy a little char on our Brussels sprouts, so we left them in for the long end but keep an eye on them if you prefer otherwise! Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, skin and slice the red onion into small strips and place in a small bowl. Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and a good pinch of salt over the onions. Add a little water to slightly dilute the vinegar. Toss it all together and let for at least 15 minutes, re-mixing every few minutes.

Fill a salad bowl ¾ of the way with baby arugula. Julienne the empire apple (a fancy way to say cut into small sticks like mini French fries) and pile them to one side of the salad bowl. Take the Brussels sprouts and pile them in a similar fashion in the salad. If you feel there are too many sprouts, feel free to just eat the stragglers.

Drain the vinegar mixture from the onions. Quickly rinse with cold water, drain and gently press them to remove any excess water. Mound them on the salad like the apple and Brussels sprouts. If you chose to use slivered snap peas than go ahead and have them join the party. Add the blue cheese by crumbling it over the other ingredients.

To make a quick dressing, juice half a lemon and whisk in some olive oil to a slightly thick, emulsified texture. Chop up whatever herbs you prefer and whisk them in with salt and pepper to taste. We used Penzy’s French Country Vinaigrette mix for convenience but suggest using some fresh herbs if you have them on hand!

Drizzle the dressing over the salad or serve on the side, and chow down! This is lovely with our Vermont Apple Wine or even a lighter red with a little oak and bright fruit, such as our Freerider Red.



Citrus Kale Salad

Citrus SaladThis simple salad has lots of vitamins, minerals, and lovely colors and textures to satisfy the winter blues.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch lacinato kale
  • 1 small-medium radicchio
  • 1 ruby grapefruit
  • 1 navel or Valencia orange
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 handfuls fresh snap peas
  • Small bag pea shoots
  • Wine vinegar, preferably Rosé or White
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper

Instructions:
Wash all the veggies and drain. While they are drying, take a sharp knife and cut away all the peel and pith from the citrus fruits on a cutting board, leaving as much of the internal fruit as possible. Carefully cut each section out from between the membranes over a bowl to catch the juice and sections together. Once all the sections are cut out, gently squeeze the remaining juice out of what’s left. Put to the side.

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits and peel gently, and place cut side down on the cutting board. Slice into half moons and put to the side.

Remove the tough ends and threads from the snap peas and slice diagonally into angular slivers. Put to the side.
Cut the woody parts of the stems out of the kale, leaving the tender parts. Slice across the leaves into thin strips about ¼-1/2 inch thick, but don’t worry it doesn’t need to be perfect! Put into whichever salad bowl you plan on using to serve.Citrus Kale Salad

Treat the radicchio similarly; remove the outer first layer of leaves, cut in half to more easily cut out the tough
heart, and cut into quarters. Chop them up into strips and toss in with the kale.

Drain the juice from the citrus segments into a small bowl. Add about half as much vinegar as juice and whisk together. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking rapidly until you get a silky consistency, not too thick or too watery. It’s basically what you prefer, just be sure not to dilute the citrus/vinegar flavors too much. Season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste.

Now to assemble! Toss the dressing in with the kale, radicchio, and half the avocado. Top the salad with the remaining avocado, citrus segments, slivered peas, and pea shoots. Show off this beauty as a table centerpiece or divide between plates, and enjoy with a local rosé, apple wine or good old well water.

Note! This salad keeps very well if you assemble the everything accept the avocado, citrus and pea shoots before hand, so it is great for warm weather picnics!



Grilled Ham and Gruyère Sandwiches

There is something so comforting about grilled cheese, especially during the winter when its frigid cold outside and staying as close to the stove as possible is all we really want to do. All the fantastic smells coming from pans full of butter slathered bread, ham, and cheese crisping up don’t hurt either.

 

Ingredients

Instructions
Get a thick-bottomed pan, preferably cast iron, on the stove over medium high heat and brush the bottom of the pan with some of the melted butter.

Slice the bread into ½ inch thick slices and pair up pieces for sandwiches. Cut the cheese into thin slices; you want to make sure they will melt in the pan and not just get gunky. We like gruyère in this recipe for its nuttiness, but if you have a favorite melting cheese then go for it!

Fold the pieces of ham to approximately the same size as the bread so that it doesn’t hang out and get burned on the pan.

Once the pan is just smoking hot brush two pieces of bread on both sides with a little of the melted butter, just enough to get an even coating, and lay them in the pan. Toast until just turning golden brown, than flip both pieces over.

On one piece of the toasted bread, spread a layer of cheese slices, one or two pieces of ham, and top with a final cheese layer. You want to get about a 50/50 ratio of meat to cheese so either ingredient doesn’t take over. If you want to play with sweet and savory flavors, try slathering a layer of Rosé Wine Jelly on the inside of the second piece of bread. Either way, place the other slice on top and press down gently.

Cook the sandwich until the bottom is a deep golden brown on the edges and flip over. You are welcome to put a cover over the pan for a few minutes to help melt the cheese fully, but is not always necessary. Cook until the second side is golden brown and the cheese is melted through.

Remove from the pan with a spatula to a cutting board, and start the process all over again until you have made the desired number of sandwiches. To serve, simply cut the sandwiches in half, arrange on platter or individual plates and enjoy! It is a perfect lunch or dinner with a soup or side salad, such as a Citrus Kale Salad and a glass of The Messenger.



Christina’s Culinary Adventures: Sandwiches, Salads, & Wine

Messenger, sandwich, and saladThe smell of roasted vegetables, melting butter, and cured meats wafted through the kitchen, and a smoky haze permeated the space, a telltale sign of cozy-cooking at work. The three women – Christina, Hannah, and Tracy – had shed their roles as winemakers and managers, and were now bouncing around the room in a whirlwind of culinary prowess,with spatulas, pots, and pans in hand.

It was truly a sight to behold, and the end-result was even more splendid: an entire table filled with toasty grilled ham and cheese sandwiches; pancetta puff pastries with melted cheese, scallions, and prosciutto; a kale salad mixed with a medley of citrus fruits; and a hearty arugula salad topped with sliced apples, crumbled blue cheese, and roasted Brussels sprouts.

The pièce de résistance? Two freshly uncorked bottles – The Messenger and Vermont Apple Wine – stood in the center of it all, begging to be paired with the surrounding food.

First, we started with the Citrus Kale Salad (detailed recipe here). A delicious blend of sliced grapefruit, orange, avocados, and pea sprouts, atop a nest of chopped kale and radicchio, with grapefruit vinaigrette drizzled on top.

The beauty of this salad comes from its simplicity. All the ingredients give a little something; sweet-tart citrus, creamy avocado, hearty kale, crunchy peas, bitter radicchio, and the pop of the pea sprouts to top it all off. The juice from the citrus played into the vinaigrette, allowing the citrus presence in the salad to be distinct without overwhelming any of the other flavors. The colors remind us of spring and sunny days – which are just around the corner, we hope – while the flavors are distinctly hardy and cold-weather oriented.

IMG_6839The dressing was just as simple: mix the juice collected from segmenting the citrus with a little red wine vinegar (thankfully we make some right here on the farm), whisk in some olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Fabulous.

Our other amazing salad was comprised of arugula, apple slices, roasted Brussels sprouts, peas, and red onions (full recipe here). Arugula is a terrific and versatile ingredient. It can be worked into salads, omelets, soups, stir-frys, even sauces. Here, it’s was the base for this substantial salad, perfect for a side dish or a light meal. A bed of arugula holds the roasted Brussels sprouts, local Empire apples, slivered peas, and pickled onions. The crown to this dish is the blue cheese, which adds a little more richness and salt. We used “Middlebury Blue” from Blue Ledge Farm in Leicester, Vermont.

The grilled ham and cheese sandwiches (full recipe here) served as our “main dish,” so to speak, and were incredibly easy to make. Simply add some ham from North Country Smokehouse, slice up some Gruyere cheese, and melt it all between two slices of buttery, toasty bread from O Bread Bakery in Shelburne – we used a smoking-hot cast-iron pan for this recipe, too. Also, if you’re looking to spruce up this already-delicious meal, try spreading a little Rosé Wine Jelly on one of the slices of bread. It will add some sweetness to counter the salt of the sandwich. Out of all our available wines, we were drawn to The Messenger in particular when tasting these cheesy treats. The savory, almost-caramelized flavors of the grilled gruyere and ham blended beautifully with the woodsy components of the wine, and The Messenger’s acidity downplayed the sandwiches’ salt to a level of elegant sensory interplay. Translation: It rocked.

The puff pastries were topped with gruyere, cheddar, scallions, prosciutto, and ground pepper. Simply take the dough (bought frozen), add the extra ingredients, set the oven to 400, and stick them in for fifteen minutes, or until the outside turns a nice, crispy golden-brown. Be careful if you finish cooking these before the rest of the food is ready – I nearly spoiled my appetite just from snacking on these alone.

The Vermont Apple Wine was a home run when coupled with this flaky delight: its sweetness and crisp, juicy intensity complemented the pastry’s richness and the wine’s spicy finish married well with the prosciutto. Not to mention the fact that cheddar cheese and apples make a perfect pairing on their own. Like we said, it’s a no brainer.

All in all, it was a near-perfect way to spend an afternoon. Friends gathered together, creating and enjoying a well-earned meal. And we hope, ultimately, that you can take this recipe with you and make your very own rendition to share with friends, family and loved ones, too. A word of caution, however: stock up on napkins, because this can get deliciously messy!



Wine Dog

Wine Dogs are Best Dogs – Meet Arthur!

 Wine Dog

<— Arthur the wine dog meeting the greats that came before him…he has some big tracks to fill here at the farm, but he doesn’t look too intimidated.

We’d like to formally introduce you to Arthur, our new Fresh Tracks wine dog. He’s a golden retriever who loves the snow and following everyone around.  He’ll be spending time in the winery as well as out in the fields keeping an eye on things. He already met the horses Colleen and Mr. P, which left him feeling rather quiet and extra cuddly. We might wait a few days before introducing him to the chickens! If you happen to see him on your next visit to the winery, you’ll be happy to know that he loves people. With all of his incredible cuteness, he’s a bit of a distraction here on the farm, but nobody’s complaining about that! Welcome Arthur!



What’s Your ‘Local’? (by Edible Green Mountains)

Toward the end of December, we were contacted by the folks at Edible Green Mountain Magazine. They asked us to describe what the word “local” means to us, as Vermont winemakers and farmers. This is what we came up with.

Local” isn’t just our neighborhood as defined by the streets that we live on—it’s the people, the sense of place and the traditions that unite us.

Wine, in particular, is so often the catalyst for gathering friends and family together, and we appreciate that sense of community. And like any community, “local” is always transforming and evolving. It wasn’t all that long ago that wine in Vermont was exclusively imported; in fact, many other local products that we’ve come to know and love were once exclusively imported, too.

Wines have a long and storied history of distinguishing themselves by the cultures and regions from which they come. The influence that a location has on wine is often referred to as terroir, and as Vermont vintners we are starting to see how this translates to our own craft. The concept that location plays a pivotal role in the essence of a product is not unfamiliar to Vermont. In fact, a unique interpretation of this concept can be seen within the local-food movement. From wines and ciders to maple syrup to beef, Vermont seems like a place determined to hold on to its identity.

In a thriving, local-food economy such as Vermont’s, where the products are well crafted and such a reflection of the people who make them, “local” truly defines not just our food, but our culture. This is something to be valued: passionate and dedicated farmers, cheesemakers, brewers and bakers, deeply connected to their customers and to their communities.
There is such beauty in that, something so authentic about knowing where your favorite foods, drinks and products come from and the stories behind the people who made them.

Link to the Full Article



Liz Stephen Meet-And-Greet

Liz Stephen

Liz Stephen, our dear friend (and Central Vermont Olympian Nordic skier) is headed for the World Cup! Join us tonight for an informal meet-and-greet sendoff party! Liz will be in the tasting room from 5:00 – 7:00 pm, and as always, we’ll be serving $4 glasses of wine all day and all night long.

Please call us at 802-223-1151, or send an email here if you have any questions.



Red Wine Brownies: with or without a “kick”

Red Wine Brownies, Fresh Tracks Farm style

2 local eggs
2/3 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter, melted (Vermont Creamery unsalted is best!)
½ cup chopped walnuts
¾ cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Cocoa (or for a kick, Lake Champlain Chocolates Spicy Aztec Hot Chocolate)
2 Tbsp Freerider Red (for the Spicier Brownies try Dog River Red instead)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine eggs with sugar and vanilla; add butter and wine. Stir Ghirardelli Chocolate with flour, baking powder and salt.  Combine with egg mixture; add nuts. Spread into greased 8×8-inch pan. Bake 25-30 minutes. Yields 16-20 brownies.

Icing (it’s essential)

4 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 ½ Tbsp granulated sugar
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
3 Tbsp Freerider Red or Dog River Red

Meanwhile prepare icing.  Melt butter over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and add chocolate, sugar and wine.  Continue heating over low heat stirring often, until mixture is smooth – don’t let it boil. Spoon hot icing over fresh brownies and let stand for a minimum of an hour; 12 hours is best.  Enjoy with a glass of your leftover wine!!

Adapted from:  Handcraft Wines – Pinot Noir Chocolate Brownies.