Sunday, September 15, 2013

Are You Ready For The Country? Girls' Weekend In The Catskills

Photo: NK
Two words:

Girls. Weekend. 

Sometimes, we chicks just need to head to the country, breathe some fresh air, and renew those unshakeable bonds...

all while eating our weight in cheese and imbibing more wine than is, shall we say, ladylike.

Such a trip will, from time to time, include the occasional spontaneous living room dance party, preferably to the music of our glorious teen years. 

You haven't really lived until you've completely
shuffled off the hustle and bustle of city life for one bucolic getaway with your fellow womenfolk. 

Cheese on arrival, Photo: NK

That's why last weekend, my friends and I headed up to the Catskill Mountains in Upstate New York for the second year running. Again, we rented a nice little house in Monticello overlooking a pond. 

It was a blast. 

I hope you will enjoy today's recap of our Girls' Weekend extravaganza. And don't fret, we'll be sure include the most delicious and easy dessert recipe for you to add to your repertoire:

We arrived to our rental house quite late on a Friday night after several wrong turns and one hair-raising trip down the world's darkest and rockiest road cutting through what may as well have been the forest primeval. Cell service a distant memory, we were mildly shaken upon reaching our remote destination. 

A rustic cheese plate was immediately in order.

Rhianne, who is an amazing baker, had the presence of mind to bring her delicious Southern Cheese Wafers - her grammy's recipe. These crispy little crackers are savory and crunchy, just perfect with pimiento cheese or anything else, really. 
Their clever, secret ingredient: Rice Krispies! 
They were a great addition to our very humble cheese plate. For a close approximation of this secret family recipe, click HERE. 

Delectable Cheese Wafers, Photo: NK

Speaking of Rice Krispies, Rhianne also brought these amazing Brown Butter & Chocolate Salted Rice Krispie Treats - baked using her own light adaptation of Deb Perelman's (of Smitten Kitchen) recipe. It would be cruel of me not to share how to create this absurdly delicious treat. They are an absolute must-make!

Brown Butter & Chocolate Salted Rice Krispie Treats, Photo: NK

Brown Butter & Chocolate Salted Rice Krispie Treats
Recipe from Rhianne L./ Very Lightly adapted from Deb Perelman/Smitten Kitchen
Yield - about 16 2-inch squares 

4 Ounces (1 Stick) Unsalted butter (sliced up) + extra for greasing the pan
1 10 Ounce Bag of Marshmallows
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt (or more to taste)
6 Cups Rice Krispies - about half the small cereal box
1/2 Cup Hershey's Chocolate Chips

1. Generously grease an 8-inch square cake pan with butter. 

2. In a large pot, make the brown butter by melting it over medium low heat. Swirl it around until it melts, after which point, don't disturb it. The butter will then foam up before turning golden and beginning to smell nutty. Stir frequently now, being sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. It's very important to stay with the butter! It can burn in an instant so you must keep your eye on it. 

3. Once the butter takes on a nice medium brown color, turn off the heat and stir in the marshmallows and chocolate bits. They should melt in the still-hot butter but if not, you may turn the heat back on low until marshmallows are totally smooth. 

4. Take the pot off the stove and add both the salt and the Rice Krispies. Stir everything together and rapidly spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Press the mixture well into all corners of the pan. Allow to cool, slice, and enjoy!

Can we say, "yes please?!" 
For more ideas on baking with brown butter, check out Joy The Baker's post HERE.  

The next morning, our friend Felice arrived after making the long drive out to spend the day with us. She came bearing the gift of breakfast which included Blueberry Muffins and a really tasty Spinach Quiche, in, get this, a graham cracker crust. 

Spinach, Egg & Cheese Quiche in a Graham Cracker Crust, Photo: NK

Yup. You heard right. Felice informed us that after preparing her egg and spinach mixture, she realized that she'd purchased a graham cracker crust by accident. Never being one not to take the plunge, she went for it. I have to tell you, the ever-so-slightly sweet graham cracker against the savory egg mixture worked amazingly. This is how great recipes are born.

Now, I'm sure you've gathered that we aren't the type of girls that wait until noon to drink so, clearly, there were plenty of adult beverages at breakfast. Rhianne's Blueberry Wine from Pauley's Island mixed with some bubbly made for a fantastic Blueberry Mimosa on our scenic porch.

Photo: NK

The remainder of the day was spent laughing in between rides on the owner's rickety old rowboat. The pond had the most water lilies I'd ever seen.

Photo: NK 

Israeli Couscous with Pomegranate and Arugula
Photo: NK 

Still, It didn't take very long for us to start thinking about dinner. 

The plan was for a grilled pizza feast to be served on our beautiful deck. 

Also, my friend Natalie got to work on her delicious Couscous with Pomegranate and Arugula, a perennial favorite. 

Luckily, we had a really nice sparkling white to fuel all the prep work: 

Coppola's Blanc de Blancs, Photo: NK

This was our first time grilling pizza and, admittedly, we had some setbacks. Our efforts were further thwarted by the fact that our rental kitchen was missing some basics like flour.

After several comically atrocious pizza-making attempts, this beauty came off the grill:

Grilled Pizza with Green Peppers and Mushrooms, Photo: NK 

And with that, dinner was served

Photo: Rhianne L. 
and it was mighty good.

Photo: NK 

Sunday morning rolled around way too fast and we were all sad to see the weekend go. Some more than others:

Photo: NK

Happily, we are able to extend the magic a bit by taking a little side trip to nearby Bethel, NY, home of Bethel Woods, the site of the famous Woodstock festival. The day was warm and clear but fall was definitely in the air. 

Harvest Festival, Photo: NK 

The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has a great harvest fest each weekend in September. The home of Peace, Love and Music provided a fitting end to a great weekend. Until next year, ladies!

Bethel Woods, Photo: NK

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