On the seventh day before Christmas, our annual holiday pilgrimage brought us to the popular destination of Woodstock, Vermont – a charming, quaint and quintessential New England town, established in 1761 by settlers from Massachusetts and situated along the Ottauquechee River.
There we visited the Woodstock Inn & Resort, a local landmark that opened in 1892, beautifully decorated for the holiday season. It’s most unique decoration? A 9-foot tall, 7-foot long giant, homemade gingerbread house that festively greets you upon entrance into the lobby, consisting of about 180 pounds of flour, 150 pounds of confectioners sugar, more than 350 rooftop shingles and 700 bricks on the wall.
According to the Inn’s pastry Chef Lerome Campbell – its architect and creator – the gingerbread house took approximately 320 hours to make over the course of a 3-week period. Built around a wooden frame, it is mostly edible with ceilings nearly high enough for most people to stand up. What a truly miraculous creation during such a magical time of year! See our photos below.
Please note that the details of the gingerbread house were gathered from a staff member at the Inn, in addition to the following local news article from NECN: “Giant Gingerbread House Towers Above the Rest.”
And…on the actual day of Christmas, Santa gave to us…some Christmas morning recipes:
Vermont Cheddar Quiche (taken from the Simon Pearce cookbook A Way of Living, 2009)
“A deep 9-inch pie plate or baking dish is required for this thick quiche. Your choice of fillings – such as ham and spinach, or crab and leek, or any combination of vegetables – would work well.”
Ingredients for the crust (option: you can use any market brand frozen pie crust)
1 ½ cups King Arthur (or any quality) all-purpose flour
1 stick cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/3 cup ice water
Instructions for crust:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cut butter into small pieces. Cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg and ice water and mix until dough forms. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and let rest for 20 minutes. Roll out dough to a circle a bit larger than baking dish. Line baking dish with dough and crimp edges. Refrigerate dough-lined baking dish for at least 1 hour.
Ingredients for cheese and choice of filling:
24 ounces extra-sharp Vermont cheddar cheese, grated and divided into thirds
8 ounces filling of your choice
Instructions for cheese and choice of filling:
Fill dough-lined baking dish with one-third of grated cheese. Place filling of your choice on top of cheese. Layer remaining two-thirds of grated cheese on top of filling.
For eggs and cream:
2 cups whipping cream
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
Mix eggs and cream together and season with salt and pepper. Create a well in the center of the cheese and filling mixture in the baking dish and pour in the egg mixture. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until done.
German Sour Cream Coffee Cake (from a colonial kitchen cookbook, 1979)
2 sticks butter, room temp.
2 scant cups sugar
2 eggs room temp.
1 cup sour cream (Stonyfield whole milk Plain Yogurt also works)
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
½ cup finely chopped pecans
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. brown sugar
Grease bundt cake pan or angel food cake pan. Cream butter and sugar until light and set aside. Beat together 2 eggs, sour cream, and vanilla and then blend into the butter and sugar mixture. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and combine with the other combined mixture. Pour half of the batter in the pan. Sprinkle with half of the topping. Add remaining batter and sprinkle remaining topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 min. Insert clean knife to test if done. Cool before turning cake out of pan.
Field-Greens Salad with Warm Goat Cheese (taken from the Simon Pearce cookbook A Way of Living, 2009)
4-ounce log of goat cheese
½ cup panko bread crumbs
2 tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. fresh or dried thyme
1 tsp. fresh or dried parsley
½ tsp. minced garlic (optional)
Mixed field greens for four
Cucumber slices or endive spears
Cut goat cheese into four even slices and set aside. Combine bread crumbs, melted butter, herbs, and garlic. Press the herb-crumb mixture onto all sides of each cheese slice. Place cheese slices in a single layer on a small baking tray, brown under a broiler, and set aside.
Ingredients for house vinaigrette:
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup malt vinegar
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 ½ cups olive oil
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Instructions for house vinaigrette:
Add first six ingredients in a blender and pulse to combine. While blender is running, slowly stream in the olive oil until well combined. Add parsley and pulse for 10 seconds or until vinaigrette is creamy and smooth.
To construct salad:
Mix and toss field greens with vinaigrette to taste. Place greens on chilled plate. Place warm goat cheese on the salad. Arrange sliced tomatoes around the greens and place cucumber slices or endive spears on top.
French Breakfast Puffs (taken from The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook, 2009)
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter
1 cup milk
Ingredients for sugar coating:
½ pound butter (2 sticks)
1 ½ cups sugar
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Set aside. In a separate large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Add the eggs and mix again. Alternate adding one-third of the flour mixture and one-third of the milk to the creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden. Remove the muffins from the pan and set aside.
To make the sugar coating, melt the butter in a bowl or glass pan. In a separate container, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Dip the warm muffins in the butter, coating thoroughly. Then roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Helpful hint: After cooling completely, puffs can be frozen in plastic bags and reheated.