Estia Blog | Recipes & Stories by Chef Colin Ambrose

Estia Blog | Recipes & Stories by Chef Colin Ambrose

Chocolate Pudding for 40 kids

40 servings of chocolate pudding with whipped cream

My annual Hayground school visit is a highlight on my winter schedule. This year the class was all boys. We started in the classroom and watched the riverside video demonstration for our main course recipe from Estia’s American Rivers Tour website.

Cooking class at the Hayground school

Both situations were a first in my experience cooking with the students in that school. I think the kids were excited and better informed going into the kitchen after watching recipe demo in the classroom.

Our menu included corn bread crusted chicken pot pie, cranberry sauce, a salad of spinach, arugula and cabbage in a tangerine, mustard vinaigrette, and for dessert, chocolate pudding.

Hayground school student with her helping of chocolate pudding for dessert


This recipe serves 40 – 3 oz servings.
It can be reduced as needed for smaller groups.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 gallon milk
  • 2.5 cups sugar
  • 1 cup cup coco powder
  • 12 cups chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup corn starch

Start by bringing the milk to a simmer over low heat, then add the coco powder, sugar, corn starch and sugar a little at a time stirring constantly, raise heat to medium flame and stir for 8-10 minutes until pudding begins to thicken and reduce.

Fill cups carefully and chill over night. Top with whipped cream and serve.

Hayground school student adding whipped cream to the chocolate pudding servings

Measuring chocolate chips for pudding - Hayground school cooking class

Melting and stirring the chocolate pudding ingerients

40 servings of chocolate pudding with whipped cream

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Cornbread Crusted Chicken Pot Pie

Colin Ambrose is serving his cornbread crusted chicken pot pie, cooked and enjoyed by the Teton River

cooked over open fire by the Teton River, Driggs, Idaho

Serves 6

This is one of the most satisfying open fire meals I can think of. Chicken pot pie is a complete campfire dish with vegetables, protein, starch and dairy. All you need besides a plan and ingredients is a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven with a lid and a spoon.

On this trip we bought a wooden spoon, which split in half as I opened the skillet that has a tendency to seal lid to base while cooking. But as you will see if you watch the video, it all worked out.

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Chewy Brownies for the Holidays

Estia's Fudgy Brownie recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2  1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1  1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1  1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Melt chocolate chips and butter together over low heat in a double boiler. Combine all ingredients in a mixer. Pour into buttered 1/2 sheet pan & place in preheated 375°F oven for 25 minutes.

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Sofrito from field to plate

Estia's Sofrito

Harvesting different types of peppers at the Quail Hill Farm

Reporting in from the Quail Hill Farm on October 30th. My membership here extends back to the early days, having joined New York’s first Community Supported Agriculture adventure (CSA) in 1993 I’m always thrilled to harvest here.

Harvesting carrots was my first task.  Take a look at our carrot video in the Estia Seed to Plate series. Once I was finished with the pitchfork in the carrot bed I moved on to find an abundance of chili’s three beds to the west. As always my eye was distracted by the beauty of the farm that’s been created and maintained by the Quail Hill crew now run by farmer Layton and mentored by poet and seed specialist Scott Chaskey.

Last week my email inbox featured a note from my pal Laura’s wife Catherine. She had visited a garden—planted by a man she spoke fondly of—and she carried a large bag filled with peppers home that day. Her note to me requested a recipe that might properly celebrate the harvest. Read More »

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Lemon Squares

Lemon Squares

Ingredients for crust:

  • 1 pound butter – cold – cut into pieces
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups gram cracker meal
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup corn starch

Combine flour, gram cracker meal & butter in a food processor, pulse for 30 seconds.

Add the rest and run until it starts to turn into a ball.

Line a ½ sheet pan with parchment. Roll the crust dough out to flat with a rolling pin and line the bottom of the sheet pan with the dough. Place in a 350°F oven for 25 minutes. Read More »

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Ramshackle Ranch Salad

Ramshackle Ranch Salad

It’s been years since a good, simple ranch dressing has graced the menu at Estia’s Little Kitchen. Inspired by Julia Moskin’s article “Ranch Nation” (Sept. 2018 NY Times) I put this recipe into play. The dressing is not original ranch style in that it doesn’t contain mayo. Instead, yogurt and red wine vinegar have been added, along with egg yolks to tighten it up.

For years my dinner menu has featured a Crisp California Chicken, finished with agave/chili sauce which has been made to order. Fingers crossed that this new salad finds an audience. The agave/chili sauce will now be prepped in advance and used on both dishes. I think it goes as close as our kitchen will to a simple, light buffalo chicken wing sauce. With that in mind, the salad is finished with just enough blue cheese to counter point the sweetness that the agave lends to the salad. Read More »

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“Over the top” Mac & Cheese

Estia's “Over the top” Mac & Cheese

This is a dish that I started using as a big starch filler for our annual Christmas party last year. The key ingredient was love as I had my 3 daughters by my side, each of them stuffing penne into rigatoni, singing Christmas songs and making it all so easy.

Today as I stood alone in the kitchen I was missing the girls—and their hands, their smiles & their cooking enthusiasm. Then our pals Stew, Tina and Amy walked in and took over the pasta stuffing. I made the béchamel, added the cheese, and in 15 minutes there were 3 casseroles going into the fridge, ready to be baked and served at tonight’s harvest dinner.

Recipe serves over 20 people

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes Penne (DeCecco, Penne lisce #10)
  • 2 boxes Rigatoni ( DeCecco, Mezzi rigatoni #26)
  • 16 oz Swiss cheese, grated
  • 24 oz Gruyer cheese, grated
  • 16 oz Mozzarella, grated
  • 3 cups, salted butter
  • 1 cup A.P. flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons salt

Estia's “Over the top” Mac & Cheese

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Peach Pancakes with Organic, NY Woodlands Maple Syrup

Milk Peach pancakes with organic maple syrup at Estia's

Come to Estia’s Little Kitchen for a plate full of fresh, seasonal peach milk pancakes. We are introducing a new organic maple syrup that tastes wonderful drizzled over our pancakes and toasts.

Woodlands Maple is organic, single-origin New York State maple syrup sourced from farmers who believe in sustainable and environmentally friendly harvesting methods.

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Asado Birthday Party

Asado birthday party in Estia's garden using new outdoor setup

Half the crowd and twice as much fun. That’s the idea when it comes to garden entertaining at Estia’s Little Kitchen. Earlier this summer—with a simple request of good tequila and plenty of food—we shared our garden space with Nick Silvers as he set out to celebrate his wife Erin’s Birthday. Read More »

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Sweet corn & rye berry salad

Sweet corn and rye berry salad
Serves 10

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 corn cobs
  • 1 cup dried rye berries (or wheat berries)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 cups diced zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped scallion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

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Little Kitchen Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup

Recipe serves 30 cups

Ingredients:

  •  6 quarts water
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 10 plum tomatos
  • 25 Guajillo chilis (stems removed)
  • 3 Arbol chilis (stems removed)
  • 1 Spanish onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cumin powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 dozen fried, chopped tortillas

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CHILI CHICKEN RELLENOS

Chili Chicken Rellenos at Estia's Little Kitchen

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 3.5 lb chicken, roast, remove all meat in advance
  • 4 poblano peppers, medium size
  • 2 x large eggs
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 small Spanish onions, diced fine
  • 3 tablespoons chipotle with adobo
  • 1 cup shredded jack cheese
  • 2 cups queso fresco, cubed
  • Salt & pepper
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 12 oz Lange Pinot Gris
  • 2 tablespoons saffron
  • 36 oz chicken stock

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Big party pound cake with rhubarb & orange

Rhubarb and Orange Pound Cake

Makes 2 cakes – 12 x 5 ½ inch baking pans

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ pounds unsalted butter – room temperature
  • 3 cups brown sugar
  • 10 extra large eggs (separate 5 for whites only)
  • 5 cups sifted AP flour
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 cup orange, chopped (rind and flesh)
  • 10 slices orange
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

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Beaverkill Hatchery Rainbow Trout with Roasted Grape Relish

Beaverkill Trout Hatchery rainbow trout with roasted potatoes and roasted grape relish

Adapted from a recipe by Galen Sampson, Chef and G.M. at the Beaverkill Valley Inn that he demonstrated over fire at the BVI.

Galen Sampson has settled into a comfortable life with his wife on the edge of the Upper Beaverkill River in the Catskill mountains. As the Chef and General manager of the Beaverkill Valley Inn, Galen works hard to create new and interesting dishes and experiences of all kinds for his guests. Chef Sampson’s recipe is a good example of how he responds to expectations that an Inn on a famous trout stream should serve trout, without pulling fish from the Inn’s private stretch of river. This is a highly prized trout fishing paradise that requires all guests to agree to catch and release practices prior to stepping into the special mile of river.

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Hatchery Steelhead with Smashed Potatoes and Wild Greens

Hatchery-Steelhead-lunch_Eel-River

We cooked this delicious recipe over an open fire alongside the Eel River in Benbow, California

Adapted from a recipe demonstrated by Joshua Schwartz: Executive Chef at Del Dotto Vineyards

Josh Schwartz has an eye for all tasty things in the wild. When invited to spend a day fishing and cooking with our American Rivers Tour crew, he was quick to suggest we start by foraging for watercress and other wild greens that sprout around the cool, clear creeks which run into Humboldt County’s Eel River. He reminded me that any wild fish we catch should be returned to the resource. Hatchery steelhead are available in Northern California so our recipe will help tell that story.

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Priqly Pear & Habanero Tequila Margarita

This is our feature drink for the month of April at Estia’s Cafe in Darien! Make your own or come visit us at the restaurnat!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounces Priqly Pear Liquor
  • 2 oz Tanteo Habanero Tequila
  • 2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz pineapple juice

Pour all over ice in a shaker glass, shake aggressively.

Salt the rim of a large wine glass, fill ½ way with fresh ice.

Strain the shaken cocktail over ice, garnish rim with lime and pineapple. Read More »

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Garzon: with Francis Mallmann and the A.Sisters

It’s a delightfully arid drive from Ruta 9 (Rt.9) in to the Little Uruguayan village of Garzon. The gravel road winds about for 5 miles through grazing fields surrounded by wooden fence posts topped with sparrows and hawks, bird nests and a hairy mess of wind blown moss. Cows and sheep graze the vast range, flowers bloom on some parcels suggesting the rotation of live stock provides ample time for regeneration and return of fragile forage. Read More »

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