Fine cuisine, New England touch
The menu at the manor is a testament to his local finds as well as a background of cooking professionally in such far-flung and food-diverse areas as Portland, Ore., San Diego and Atlanta, and his training at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont.
To those diverse influences, add a penchant for French cuisine, and you’ve got a whole lot of variety.
Venison, for instance, comes from nearby Bonnie Brae Farms in Plymouth, but don’t expect Sheedy to make anything run of the mill with the red deer raised there. Expect instead a venison liver pate or venison tongue. Salad greens from Owens Truck Farm in Holderness are offered alongside apple celeriac soup, salmon smoked in house and a John Dory fish fillet served with a curry and Chardonnay butter.
“People come to us from Boston or New York for a weekend and say, ‘We didn’t expect to eat this good outside the city,’” Sheedy said.
He especially likes to experiment with local organic cheese. “The character, for one, is more interesting.
Sometimes it’s not as refined, but at least it’s interesting.”
Plus, he added, “Anything you can do to support the microeconomy is good karma.”
The Manor on Golden Pond was built as an English-style mansion in 1904, the summer home of real estate developer Isaac Van Horn and his family. It was transformed into an inn during the 1950s.
Current owners Brian and Mary Ellen Shields bought it in 1999. Their M Bistro and Van Horn Dining Room have earned a four-diamond rating from AAA, which puts the inn’s dining experience among the top 3 percent of rated restaurants.
Sheedy has been the inn’s chef for the past two years. In addition to cooking, he shares his skills by teaching weekend classes at the inn for small groups. With guests from other countries as well as from big American cities, the inn provides Sheedy with an audience he appreciates. “I’ve found the people here to be much more receptive to exotic or unfamiliar things than elsewhere,” he said.
New England’s never far
While free to share the varied influences from his travels, being back in New England has brought a renewed appreciation for this region’s culinary heritage. A literature major in college before turning to the culinary arts, Sheedy enjoys reading old cookbooks and gleaning information about traditional foods. “The things we might otherwise forget are the things that are most interesting about our food,” he said.
For a true regional specialty, Sheedy turns to New England boiled dinner. It’s a dish he remembers his own grandmother making during his New Hampshire childhood.
Discerning cooks will not take the name literally, however, he said.
“When my grandmother made New England boiled dinner, it was literally that — things boiled together for a long time,” he said. Much better to cook some of the ingredients separately or in a way that maximizes their unique flavors and then put them together, he said. (To learn how, see recipe below.) This time of year, Sheedy might pair two other New England staples: baked beans and brown bread. With its pudding-like moistness and robust flavor, he feels brown bread gets easily undeservedly overlooked these days.
“It’s virtually fat free, and it’s quite easy to make. One sort of wonders, why isn’t this more popular?” he said.
New England “Boiled” Dinner
2 medium onions, peeled and julienne cut 2 cloves garlic, slivered 4-5 springs fresh thyme 2 oz. butter (half a stick) 2 bay leaves Juice of one lemon 1 1/2 quarts water 4 small carrots, peeled and oblique cut 5 ribs celery, sliced 2 lbs. (approx.) cooked corned beef brisket 1/2 small head white cabbage 4 medium potatoes, poached in salted water, cut in half 12 oz. light-bodied beer (such as Harp, or domestic lager) Salt to taste Pepper from the mill 1. Choose a large, stainless steel pot that will (eventually) accommodate your piece of corned beef. Add to the cold pot: julienne onions, slivered garlic, thyme, 1 ounce of butter (you’ll add the second ounce at the end of cooking), bay leaves and 2 pinches of salt. 2. Set the pot containing these ingredients over a moderatelow flame and sweat under a parchment lid until very soft and fragrant, approximately half an hour. Stir occasionally.
3. Once the aromatic vegetables are sweated, remove the parchment lid and add the beer and the lemon juice. Increase the heat to medium-high. Simmer the beer until its aroma softens slightly.
4. Reduce the heat to medium and add to the pot: oblique carrots, celery, poached potatoes, corned beef. Add the water to the pot. (More or less water may be required depending on the dimensions of your pot — the liquid in the pot needn’t submerge the ingredients, but should cover at least the bottom half of the corned beef.) 5. Return the parchment lid to the pot and allow to simmer gently until all the ingredients are heated through, approximately half an hour to an hour. The corned beef should be flipped every 15 minutes so that is bastes evenly.
6. When the vegetables are tender and the corned beef is heated through, remove them from the liquid, cover them and hold them warm. Meanwhile reduce the liquid in the pot to a manageable quantity. Your goal is to concentrate the flavor and body of the corned beef broth as far as possible before it becomes unpleasantly salty.
7. When you’re happy with the concentration of your broth, add the remaining 1 ounce of butter and the cabbage leaves to the pot. Steam the cabbage briefly in the reduced broth, tossing to coat, until it is softened and slightly translucent.
8. Serve immediately.
1/2 cup whole wheat flour 1/2 cup rye flour 1/2 cup corn meal 1/2 cup raisins 1 tsp. baking soda 1/2 tsp. salt 1/4 cup molasses 1/4 cup maple syrup 1 cup skim milk 2 Tbs. lemon juice non-stick pan spray, as needed 1. Combine the flours, baking soda and salt in an oversized bowl. Whisk to homogenize before stirring in the raisins.
2. Prepare a clean coffee can by spraying generously with pan spray.
3. Choose a large pot with a tight-fitting lid in which to steam the bread. Line the bottom of the pot with a thin metal pie plate to prevent the bread from contracting the bottom of the pot and potentially scorching. Add several inches of water to the pot and bring to a simmer.
4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the molasses, maple syrup, milk and lemon juice. Stir slowly to incorporate the flour into a smooth, sticky batter. Add this batter to your prepared can, and cover with aluminum foil. Secure the foil tightly with string, and carefully add to the simmering water. Adjust the volume of water as necessary so that it comes halfway up the outside of the mold.
Lid the pot and allow the bread to steam for 1 hour.
5. After 1 hour, check the water level in the pot. If it is very much reduced, add more so that the water level remains roughly consistent. Continue steaming for 45 minutes before checking the bread for the first time: When the bread is done, a wooden skewer inserted into its center will be dry when removed. If the bread doesn’t pass this first test, continue steaming until it does, rechecking at 30-45 minute intervals. Every time you check the bread, it is necessary to re-cover it well, which can be especially tedious once the mold is hot, so err on the side of over-cooking. The absorbent grains and moist cooking environment make it unlikely to get dry and overdone.
6. Once fully cooked, remove the bread from the simmering water and allow to rest, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes at room temperature. The bread must be relatively cool to be successfully removed from the mold.
Do not, however, attempt to rush it into the refrigerator, nor leave the bread indefinitely in its mold — in either event, condensation will likely make pudding of your bread.
7. Once the bread is un-molded, allow to cool completely to room temperature before storing.
Wrapped in plastic, the bread will keep at least 3-5 days in the refrigerator.
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