I am hugely excited for my new podcast featuring potter, author, and lifestyle guru Christopher Spitzmiller. However, I am even more excited about his new book A Year at Clove Brook Farm: Gardening, Tending Flocks, Keeping Bees, Collecting Antiques, and Entertaining Friends. Christopher is known to his many friends, and Instagram fans, as the ultimate weekend farmer, who raises his own chicks, grows his own flowers, and puts up his own jam, cider, and honey.
In his first book, he treats readers to a full year at his country retreat, Clove Brook Farm. Organized into four sections by season, the book begins with spring: the lilacs and apple blossoms, the dovecote with Indian fantail pigeons, Easter lunch, with daffodils and porcelain, and Spitzmiller’s recipe for rhubarb pie. Summer brings hydrangeas, dahlias, readying the chickens for the Dutchess County fair, and a garden cocktail party. Fall focuses on collecting, cider making, an orchard luncheon and a Thanksgiving table, honey-gathering, and planting bulbs. Winter closes the book with holiday decorating, gilding allium, a holiday buffet, and homemade gifts.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE
MY MENU FOR CHRISTOPHER
Fresh Rhubarb Salsa
1 cup finely diced rhubarb stems (use tender, thin stalks)
1 cup finely diced English cucumber
½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
juice of a lime
Place the rhubarb, cucumber, bell pepper, jalapeño and cilantro in a bowl, toss and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk cumin, salt, pepper, oil and lime juice. Add to the rhubarb mixture. Toss to coat. Adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper or cumin, if needed. Serve alongside the roasted chicken.
Roast Chicken with Za’atar
3 pound whole chicken
1 lemon, sliced
2 shallots, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons za’atar
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons za’atar
1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
4 medium sweet potatoes, washed, and cut into wedges
Using a paper towel, pat the chicken dry. Place the slices of lemon, shallots and garlic cloves inside the cavity of the chicken and tie the legs together. Coat chicken with salt and za’atar. Let the chicken sit up to 1 hour to allow the salt and spices to penetrate.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
In a small bowl mix together olive oil, salt, za’atar, and smoked paprika. Toss potatoes in za’atar olive oil mixture. Evenly coat and set aside.
Place chicken in the center of a 12″ cast-iron skillet or an enameled cast-iron baking dish. Arrange the potatoes around the chicken. Roast until potatoes are golden brown and crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breasts registers 165°, 60-75 minutes. Let chicken rest in skillet at least 20 minutes, and up to 45 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and carve. Serve with potatoes and fresh rhubarb salsa.
Pear & Honey Tart
1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
8 ounces soft goat cheese
2 large pears, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
¼ cup chopped pistachios
a pinch of flakey sea salt
honey , to taste
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 12×17 inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
Unroll the pastry sheets on a floured work surface. Place the edge of one over the other, and use a rolling pin to roll them together so they adhere. Once they adhere, roll the pastry into a 10×14 rectangle. Fold the edges.
Place the pasty in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Remove and crimp the folded edges with a fork.
Beat the egg with a tablespoon of milk. Brush the pastry, including the edges, with the egg wash.
Top the pastry with goat cheese. Toss the pear slices with the brown sugar, then place the pears on top of the goat cheese. Sprinkle with pistachios and sea salt.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Drizzle with honey. Slice and serve.