Truffles for Backpacks

More than $1,600 in truffles were consumed in the creation of this post.

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You should have seen them all, smelled them. There were loads of big beautiful Black Perigord truffles generously donated by Jane Smith of Truffles NC.

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It was all in support of the Backpack Program, a child hunger initiative created by the Second Harvest Food Bank. These truffles were the draw that brought more than 4o guests, two chefs, a local food writer and a team of volunteers together to raise more than $3,000 in three hours for food insecure children in our rural communities.

Truffles NC donates a percentage of their sales each year to the Backpack Program. This annual dinner was created by Jane to help increase those funds each year.

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We met Jane a few months ago at the Cobblestone Farmers Market and we quickly became raving fans of her truffle honey and truffle butter. We picked her brain for tips and nerded out on facts, like –

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  • Did you know the piedmont region of North Carolina is prime for growing truffles? The NC Department of Agriculture awarded grant money years back to encourage former tobacco farmers to transition to this newly transplanted, highly coveted crop.
  • On average, black perigord truffles sell from $60 – $100 an OUNCE.
  • It typically takes 8 – 10 years after planting the inoculated trees for growers to reap their first harvest (talk about patience! No wonder they’re so expensive!)
  • Trained dogs (or traditionally female pigs) are used to sniff out the truffles for growers. (Turtle might be getting a new day job.)
  • When Martha Stewart was looking to start a truffle growing operation, she visited North Carolina and Jane to get the expert scoop!

Last month, Jane and our new friends at Beta Verde reached out to see if we might want to help bring the Second Annual Truffle Dinner together.

Hmmm… let’s see… eat decadent truffles for a day while giving back and supporting Jane’s generous efforts. How could we resist?

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Chef Susi Gott Seguret, director of the Seasonal School of Culinary Arts in Asheville designed the evening’s menu and Harrison pitched in on execution. Margaret and Salem Neff, owners of Beta Verde and managers of the Cobblestreet Farmers Market, opened up their fantastic home and sourced almost all of the ingredients locally from nearby producers, including Harmony Ridge Farms, Gary’s Produce, Flora Ridge Farm, Grace Meadow Farm, Border Springs Farm, Carolina Mountain Trout, Camino Bakery and Three Sisters Bakery.

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Biltmore Estate graciously provided champagne to kick off the evening while Susi treated the guests to truffle rolling demos to get their hands dirty.

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Sanders Ridge Winery also joined us for wine tastings and bottle sales for proper pairings and to keep the good times flowing.

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The dollars raised will be used to provide elementary school children at risk of hunger with backpacks full of nutritious, child-friendly foods to take home over the weekends during the school year.

A special thank you to everyone who helped make this special night possible and bring Jane’s vision and mission to life.

And thanks to Michael Hastings for the great coverage in the Winston-Salem Journal here!

Until cook with new friends again,

a+h

Cinnamon Sugar Churros with Black Winter Perigord Truffle Honey

Hello lovebugs. We hope your week was a sweet one and that you took time to love on someone, and do something you love for yourself.

This week, he pulled his snowboard back out and hit the snowy slopes of Western, NC to catch some air …and his breath.

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I also headed west for a slumber party with some dear old friends… and played dress up with this munchkin….

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And for Valentine’s Day we holed up at home to catch each other up on the latest while he taught me how to make this…

citrus salad

lobster tails with truffle butter

{Butter Poached Lobster Tails with Warm Truffled Potato, Asparagus and Sous Vide Breakfast Radish Salad with Mascarpone & Preserved Lemon }

Mmm…truffle butter, truffle honey, truffle salt… truffles truffles truffles are all the rage in the Littell house these days. But not just any truffles will do here. We love the decadent winter black perigord truffle products from our new friend Jane Morgan Smith of Truffles NC.

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Lately imaginations have been running wild as Harrison, Chef Susi Gott Seguret and Jane have brainstormed on all things truffle deliciousness. It’s all for an upcoming Truffle Dinner to benefit the Backpack Program of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina.

The BackPack Program aims to address childhood hunger in rural communities by providing elementary school children at risk of hunger with backpacks full of nutritious, child-friendly foods to take home over the weekends during the school year.

It’s a program that’s near and dear to Jane’s heart and in addition to hosting this annual Truffle Dinner, she has pledged to donate a percentage of her annual sales to help feed hungry children.

This year’s benefit dinner will be hosted on Feb. 23rd at the open and airy Beta Verde Farm, owned by the passionate and creative mother-daughter duo, Margaret and Salem Norfleet Neff. There, guests will be treated to five dishes made with truffles, demos and select wines. Jane will be on hand to educate us all on truffles and why they grow so well in our area. It’s sure to be a memorable evening of learning, savoring and community building. We hope you will join us!

Truffle Trifecta Invite

In the meantime, here’s a peek at one of the many truffle inspired creations from our house that would be so easy to recreate in yours. All you need is a little of this

Cinnamon Sugar Churros with Black Winter Perigord Truffle Honey
{Adapted from recipe by Daisy Martinez on FoodNetwork.com }

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 to 5 eggs
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Black Winter Perigord Truffle Honey to drizzle

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Directions
1.    In a medium saucepan, heat 1 cup of water, your butter, sugar, vanilla and salt over medium-high heat until the edges of the liquid start to bubble. Add the flour all at once and stir briskly with a wooden spoon until well mixed and no lumps of flour remain.

2.    Remove saucepan from heat. Add (4) of the eggs, one at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon or a whisk. The dough should look soft and glossy and keep a “hook” shape when the spoon is pulled from the dough.  If not, beat in the last egg.

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3.    Scrape the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.

4.    Pour enough canola oil into a deep heavy skillet (cast iron is ideal) to fill 1-inch. Heat over medium heat until the tip of the handle of a wooden spoon gives off a slow steady stream of tiny bubbles.

5.    Carefully pipe the dough into the oil, forming roughly 6-inch churros. Pipe only as many churros into the oil as comfortably fits. Overcrowding the pan will result in soggy churros (yuck!)

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6.    Fry, turning once, until golden brown on each side.

7.    Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining dough

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8.    Put the sugar and cinnamon in a paper bag or large mixing bowl. Drop a few churros in at a time and toss until coated.

9.    Drizzle your truffle honey on top to finish. Best to eat your churros as soon as possible – so dig in and enjoy!

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With love and truffles,

a+h

July Sunset Farm Dinner and Tour at Sandiwood Farm

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece” ― Claude Monet

To watch them walk through the rows and rows of vegetables and select by hand those that will make the cut for our July dinner was surreal. For me it wasn’t too long ago that I ate out of boxes, cans, and frozen trays.  And this year has been a crash course on how to live, eat and prepare so much better. For this experience, I am forever grateful.

The late-July harvest was a beautiful masterpiece. Tomatoes were plump and beautiful. The snap peas had a perfect crunch. As we peeled the loads and loads of harvested garlic, the smell lingered on our fingers. The smells, the textures, the colors, the fresh-out-of-the-ground flavors were spinning through our minds as menu ideas were freely exchanged outside in the warm sun. Harrison and Sandi once again walked through which items would be at their peak that week with Sara. Together our chefs curated a lovely farm to fork menu for the 24 hungry guests who joined us that night.


There was a 50th birthday celebration at one table and intermixed at the other were new and old friends including an established Stowe concierge and an intrigued farm to table tour operator. Among the tables set with freshly picked flowers, garlic braids and tomatoes was a sincere appreciation for the love and dedication behind the evening’s food. As guests made introductions and shared stories at the communal dinner tables, a shared energy and enthusiasm was felt throughout the farm while a series of fresh, colorful courses were served just as the sun set.

{local cheese board}

{fresh vegetables with homemade carrot hummus topped with nigella seeds}

{poached beet skewers with lemon-basil vinaigrette}

{bruschetta with homemade heirloom tomato jam, fresh mozzarella and assorted basils}

{roasted summer garlic with grapeseed oil}

{homemade fromage stuffed bite-sized tomatoes with roasted garlic & opal basil}

{flatbread with heirloom tomatoes, green onion, opal basil and homemade white sauce}

{“the green machine”: flatbread topped with braised greens, fennel, green onion, cabbage, sugar snaps, red onion}

{flatbread with fresh farm blueberry, heirloom tomato, goat cheese. opal basil and balsamic reduction}

{homemade pappardelle pasta}

{7-hour smoked chicken with herb pistou}

{sautéed and grilled summer green veggies}

{farm fresh egg custard with chocolate ganache, fresh blueberry compote and wooly mint}


On behalf of Sandiwood Farm, we would like to invite you to our upcoming sunset dinners and farm tours. Each night will include a unique menu inspired by the week’s farm harvest.

Upcoming Dates
August 21
September 20
October 10

Time: 6:00pm
Cost: $50/per person
BYOB and BYO appetite

These intimate meals will be capped at 20 guests, so RSVP early!

To RSVP or learn more, please email Sara at maplesyrup@myfairpoint.net or call 802-888-2881

Until we find fresh inspiration again,  
A + H

June Sunset Dinner and Tour at Sandiwood Farm

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”
― Henry David Thoreau

It rained. It poured. There was thunder. And lighting. In a word, the weather was – nasty.

It was the big debut of the new farm to fork dinner series at Sandiwood Farm. And the rain – that week of rain was spoiling all of our plans.

We began obsessing over those little details that we thought were ruined. No stunning sunset. No walking farm tour. Muddy grounds. Geesh … not even warm weather. “We should consider rescheduling”, we said. It’s our trial run and we were certain plan B just wouldn’t be as fun.

At least that’s what we had thought.

“It is what it is”, we repeated to one another as we pulled together to simplify the original plan. Without a word, we agreed to not give those uncontrollable details a second thought.

And so…

Behind the scenes, the harvesting room became an extra plating, prep and flower arranging station….


And our dinner table was reset family style in a greenhouse surrounded by growing tomato vines…


In the house, the kitchen came alive with direction and focus….

And the skies slowly cleared just in time for the evening’s guests to arrive.


The June dinner menu was inspired by the fresh organic produce and herbs harvested that day on the farm, along with other locally sourced ingredients. Crisp. Spicy. Crunchy. Green. Sandi and Harrison took a simplistic approach in their preparation. Flawlessly and respectfully the ingredients just shined.

{Fresh homemade cheeses + goat cheese from our friends at Sage Farm Goat Dairy}

{Warm bread freshly baked that afternoon by local baker/NECI Grad, Trenton Chamberlain }

{Veggie Summer Rolls filled with freshly harvested ingredients from the farm and homemade ponzu sauce }

{ Bruschetta: Homemade Chevre with farm herbs, arugula pesto and Wild Branch oyster mushrooms }

{ Cream of Zucchini Soup with herb and green garlic croutons. Topped with a curry creme fraiche drizzle }

{ Baby Lettuces, shaved radishes, edible flowers and grilled scape and Sandiwood farm maple vinaigrette }

{ Fresh tagliatelle pasta with homemade fromage blanc and seasonal farm veggies }

{ 7-hour smoked chicken with herb pistou }

{ First picked strawberry cobbler topped with decadent dulce de leche whipped cream }

And at the end of the night, just as the warm strawberry cobbler was served, a stunning electric pink sky emerged.

In the end, it turned out to be a magical evening… a special experience for new friends and old. All thanks in part to that darn rain.

On behalf of Sandiwood Farm, we would like to invite you to our upcoming sunset dinners and farm tours. Each night sure to offer its own pleasant surprises along with the latest in farm fresh delights.


Upcoming Dates

July 24

August 21

September 20

October 10

Time: 6:00pm
Cost: $50/per person
BYOB and BYO appetite
These intimate meals will be capped at 20 guests, so RSVP early!

To RSVP or learn more, please email Sara at maplesyrup@myfairpoint.net or call 802-888-2881

Until we find fresh inspiration again,
A + H