Taste of Vermont
By PATRICK McARDLE STAFF WRITER | February 24,2009
PATRICK McARDLE / Rutland Herald
Amy Chamberlain is the owner and chef of the Perfect Wife Restaurant in Manchester.
MANCHESTER – "I love Vermont sharp cheddar," Kelly Ripa said with delight as Regis Philbin handed her a piece of Cabot cheese during the opening segment of their syndicated New York-based talk show earlier this month.
It would be enough to please anyone who wants to promote Vermont products but it may have been topped moments later when Ripa held up a bottle of Vermont maple syrup and called it "the nectar of the gods," before she and Philbin each took long swigs.
The heartfelt endorsement from the hosts of "Live with Regis and Kelly" was made possible by an unusual collaboration by Gov. James Douglas, the Boathouse Restaurant in New York City's Central Park and the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing.
Philbin got a round of applause on his show when he announced that he had lunch with Douglas.
"He's a very pleasant guy. We ushered him over to a Cabot Cheese display and told him about artisan cheeses from Vermont that had won international competitions," Douglas said on Tuesday.
Vermont Commissioner of Tourism and Marketing Bruce Hyde said Philbin, who told Douglas and Hyde he was a "cheese connoisseur," was a bit of a skeptic until he tried the Vermont cheeses.
But the key ingredient to this "taste of Vermont" experience was provided by Amy Chamberlain, owner and chef of the Perfect Wife Restaurant on routes 1-1/30 in Manchester.
Chamberlain was invited to provide the menu for a Vermont products luncheon attended by members of the media at the Boathouse on Feb. 4.
Working with the Boathouse's chef Anthony Walton and Black River Produce of North Springfield, Chamberlain prepared a five-course lunch menu.
Chamberlain made Vermont cheddar and ale soup with Grafton Village cheddar and Long Trail Ale and turkey schnitzel, a dish from the Perfect Wife menu, using turkey from Misty Knoll Farm in New Haven and served with a beurre blanc sauce with Vermont butter and cheese.
The three desserts prepared were maple panicotta, apple walnut turnover and warm chocolate cake and two cheeses, one from cow's milk and another from goat's milk, created by Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet.
"I think a lot of people were surprised that pretty much everything they were eating was from Vermont at this time of year. Had we done it in August and September, it would have been crazy. But we were able to make something so fresh and delicious out of what we could only get in February which is great," Chamberlain said.
The ingredients were delivered to the Boathouse and Chamberlain got her first professional opportunity to act as a chef in New York City.
"Well my dad lived there when I was little so I'm sure I prepared a meal (in New York City) but never in a big city kitchen. You would think it would be intimidating or scary but everyone was so wicked nice and it was so much fun. I could totally relax. I walked in and I felt immediately like I fit in there," she said.
Chamberlain had a chance to meet the various members of the media who could promote Vermont products including a producer from CBS' "The Early Show" and representatives of "Martha Stewart's Living," and, well, one long shot.
"There was a couple girls there from 'Maxim Magazine' that had been sent there because their boss wants them to do a story on spring break spots. So I was trying to (tell them,) 'Vermont's great in March,'" Chamberlain said.
Hyde said he hoped the exposure on Philbin's show would be only the first story to spring from the lunch.
"Hopefully, this is the start of a lot more success stories," he said.
Chamberlain, who does quite an accurate Philbin impression, said she got to speak to the talk show host and he loved the cheeses from Consider Bardwell Farm. She admitted that she was a little disappointed that Philbin didn't mention her or the Perfect Wife by name on his show, especially since she's shopping for a publisher for her book of recipes.
Philbin did mention Douglas, though, and when Ripa asked why she wasn't invited to the luncheon, Philbin joked Douglas "wanted to pick my brain about something."
Douglas said he was always interested in the opinions of people who wanted to talk about Vermont. The governor said Philbin has an open invitation to visit in the Green Mountain State.
"Maybe he could come to the real Perfect Wife or wherever he wants to visit in Vermont. He's certainly welcome to bring Kelly too," Douglas said.
To see the "Live with Regis and Kelly" segment where Philbin discusses the luncheon, visit the Web site, www.liveregisandkelly.com; go to "video and photos"; scroll down to "host chat"; scroll down to Feb. 5.
Vt. Cheddar and Ale Soup
1 large white onion
2 ribs celery
1 large carrot
1 med. red bell peppers
2 teaspoons butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
12 oz. Long Trail Ale (or other good amber microbrew)
2 gallons chicken stock
8 large white potatoes peeled and diced into 1/2" cubes
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 lb. Grafton cheddar, grated
3 T. Dijon mustard
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes Tobasco sauce
1 cup heavy cream (optional)
Using a thick bottomed pot, sweat the onions, celery, carrots, and red peppers in the 2 teaspoons butter over medium heat. Add the thyme and sweat 1 minute more. Add the ale, chicken stock, and potatoes. Turn up to medium high heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, make the roux: Melt 1/2 cup butter in a sauté pan. When it starts to foam, add flour. Cook, stirring very often, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Pull the roux off the heat and let it cool for three or four minutes.
Gradually whisk the roux into the simmering soup. Allow the soup to come to a boil briefly and then turn off the heat. Gradually whisk in the grated Grafton cheddar. Do not allow it to boil once the cheese has been added. Season the soup with the mustard, Worcestershire, Tobasco, salt and white pepper. Finish with chopped fresh parsley.
If you like a nice, creamy chowder, Chamberlain suggests finishing the soup with a cup of heavy cream. Serve immediately. It goes very well with a nice ham sandwich.
Tip: You may reheat this soup, but do not boil it. Bring it up to temperature slowly over low heat, stirring frequently.
Ingredient advice: When choosing your cheddar cheese, pick one that is less aged. Grafton makes cheddars with one-10 years of aging on them. I like the one-year-old cheddar because it melts the most smoothly. Aged cheddars (and sharper ones) tend to curdle slightly when melted.
Turkey Schnitzel with Lemon-Sage Butter Sauce
2 lbs boneless turkey breast (may use chicken instead)
2 eggs beaten with 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs (Chamberlain uses Panko brand)
Slice turkey breast against the grain into 1/2" slices. Pound gently with a mallet until 1/4" thick. (If using chicken, slice breasts in half and then pound.) Dredge each slice in flour, shake off excess, dip into egg wash, and coat with breadcrumbs. Refrigerate while you make the sauce. When the sauce is done sauté the schnitzel in butter over medium heat until golden on both sides. Serve while still hot and spoon sauce over it.
Lemon-Sage Butter Sauce
1 teaspoon shallots, minced
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 teaspoon white wine
1/3 c.up heavy cream
2 sticks butter (do not substitute!), cold and cut into 1 teaspoon pieces
1 teaspoon rubbed sage or 2 teaspoon fresh chopped sage
In a stainless steel or other non-reactive saucepan, sweat shallots in butter over medium heat. Do not brown. Add lemon juice and white wine. Reduce until almost dry. Add heavy cream. Reduce by 1/2, until cream is thick and saucy. Off the heat, add butter by the tablespoon, whisking constantly, until it is all incorporated. If the sauce cools down and the butter is not melting you may put the pan over the heat for a moment. Season with sage, salt and white pepper. Hold warm, but do not reheat again or the sauce will break.
How to bread the turkey without getting "Muppet fingers"
First, practice answering the phone with your elbow, pressing speaker works best, in case the phone rings while you are in the middle of this.
Then, set up your station left to right with the turkey cutlets on your left. Set out three shallow containers filled from left to right in this order:
1. About 1 cup of flour seasoned with salt and pepper
2. Eggwash of two eggs (equal parts water and egg, whisked together)
3. 1-1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Have a sheetpan or similar at the end of the line in which to keep the breaded turkey in a single layer. Have some wax paper or parchment cut out in case you need to layer the turkey.
To begin breading , choose one hand for dry and one hand for wet. Since you will spend more time using your dry hand I suggest you make your dominant hand your dry hand.
Pick up a cutlet of turkey and place it into the flour. Using your dry hand, dredge the turkey in the flour and then shake the pan to evenly coat the turkey. Pick up the turkey with your dry hand and shake it gently to release and excess flour. Slip the cutlet into the egg wash. Next, using your wet hand, slide cutlet back and forth until coated. Dangle the cutlet and allow the eggwash to run off of the turkey just a little. Place the cutlet into the breadcrumbs now and using dry hand, coat the turkey well. Place the breaded turkey on your sheet pan and continue with the rest of the turkey.