Friday, August 27, 2010


By Head Chef Orlo Coots

Adair Country Inn & Restaurant “Dine Around the World” will take you to India on Thursday, August 26. Indian food — just the thought of it brings back two of my earliest culinary experiences. The first time I ever ate Indian food was at a new restaurant in my hometown. As soon as I walked in the front door, I was instantly enthralled with the smells coming from the kitchen. They were some of the most exotic and intoxicating aromas I had ever encountered. When the foods were brought to the table, they were beyond imagination: flavorful and spicy curries, amazing breads and aromatic basmati rice, all blended into a fantastic dining experience.

My second memorable experience with Indian food was the time my sister’s friend cooked us dinner at my sister’s house. She prepared the curry from scratch the way her grandmother had shown her. The house was full of the wonderful scents for hours. It was simple food, yet totally from the heart, which only enhanced the flavors. My only regret is that she would not allow me in the kitchen while she was making the curry, so I was left in the dark as to the preparation.

People have traveled the world over in search of the spices of India. Columbus was sent to find a new route to India when he “discovered” America. India’s foods and spices have been sought after and traded for centuries, and the foods have a varied, yet unique flavor. Like most countries, each region has certain foods and cooking techniques particular to that region. However, India also has distinct foods and cooking styles pertaining to religion and social class.

The most popular and famous food of India is curry. Each region — and household — has its unique method of blending the various spices to form one of the world’s great dishes. Once eaten, it is easy to see why so many have fallen in love with this dish. Typically between six and 20 ingredients are combined to make a curry, so it is certainly a dish that can be adapted to suit what is available to the home cook.

For a refreshing drink on a hot summer’s day, try a Mango Lassi, a yogurt drink made with mangoes.

Mango Lassi — Indian Mango Yogurt Drink — Serves Two
2 cups peeled and chopped mangoes
1 cup yogurt
3 tablespoons sugar (Adjust to taste)
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves (Optional)
6 to 10 ice cubes (As needed)
Blend the mangoes, yogurt, and sugar into a puree.
Add chopped mint leaves.
Add the ice cubes.
You can adjust the thickness of the lassi.
Serve chilled.
For lassi it’s better if mangoes do not have any fibers. Using very ripe mangoes is best. The sugar can be adjusted to taste, depending on the taste of the mangoes and yogurt.
Replace the mint with rose water or a generous pinch of cardamom powder.


By Head Chef Orlo Coots

August- the dog days of summer means the height of the tomato season. This is the time when eating a tomato is one of the special joys in life. For 10 ½ months of the year, it is best to avoid most tomatoes. However, now that August is here, you should try to eat as many locally grown tomatoes as you can get your hands on- and make sure to can or freeze the rest to enjoy the flavors of summer even longer.

There is nothing that says summer as much as plucking a tomato off the vine, slicing it and eating it simply with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add some fresh mozzarella cheese, basil and olive oil and you have a wonderful meal bursting with the flavors of summer.

The 3 main types of tomatoes are plum, beef steak and cherry. There are dozens of varieties of beef steak and cherry. The beef steak tomatoes are the most seasonal of the 3 types. Edible plum and cherry varieties are available year round, but of course in summer they are at their peak. However, beef steak tomatoes should generally be avoided the rest of the year. They are picked green and color (but not really ripen) in their transport boxes.

But- in season they cannot be beat. They are versatile and can be used for just about any culinary application. The less you do to them, the better they are in summer. From simply seasoning with salt to making a tomato herb tart, the flavors are full and fresh. Try not to over work them in the summer. That can wait until later in the year when the fresh ones are flavorless and the best types to use are canned. Enjoy the summer product when the flavor is at its peak. For even better flavor, try to get a hold of some heirloom varieties for the fullest flavor of summer.
There are many great recipes for tomatoes and as long as you’re using fresh local summer tomatoes, you cannot go wrong. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and fresh herbs and enjoy.

To keep some of the summer flavor for the rest of the year, try canning some summer tomatoes. If canning is not feasible, freezing is another alternative to enjoy some summer flavor throughout the year. While frozen tomatoes obviously will not be able to be sliced, they can be used in any preparation you would use canned tomatoes for and of course they do make a great sauce. To prepare the tomatoes for freezing, cut out the core and make an X on the other end. This makes peeling them later easier. Put them into zip-lock bags and freeze until ready to bring out the taste of summer.

Orlo Coots is Head Chef at Adair Country Inn & Restaurant. Enjoy his cooking Thursday through Monday. (603) 444-2600. Orlo can be reached at for any questions about tomatoes or any other food-related questions you may have. Remember- whether cooking for 1 or for a crowd, make every bite count.


By Head Chef Orlo Coots.

The aroma of freshly baked bread- is there a better smell in a home? Baking bread is one of the easiest and most rewarding things a chef can do in the kitchen.

By choosing the correct recipe, you can turn out fantastic and consistent loaves very easily. Mixing and kneading the dough can be done by using a mixer or food processor, though doing the process by hand can be a soothing and relaxing exercise.

Bread baking consists of just a few ingredients to start with- flour, yeast, sugar, salt, butter or oil and water. We will keep with the basics to start so that your first loaf is a success and will be the stepping-stone to future loaves.

The recipe provided here is a variation of the one I started with when I bought my own business 8 years ago. I have tweaked it a little and it is readily adaptable to other ingredients. When kneading is complete, the dough should be smooth, soft and supple.

A key to a good loaf is in the rise. I put it inside a turned off oven in the summer and near the wood stove in the winter when baking at home. It should take about 45 to 60 minutes to double in size. After shaping, return the loaves back to proof again for another 45 minutes. Make sure to remove from the oven before preheating.

Basic Bread Loaf
2 cups plus 1 cup All Purpose Flour
1 package (1 ½ teaspoons) Dried Yeast
1-tablespoon sugar
1-tablespoon salt
1-tablespoon oil
2 oz hot (110-115 degrees) water to activate yeast
6 oz hot (110-115 degrees) water

*Put yeast into a small bowl or cup, add 2 oz water. Let sit for 10 minutes until foamy. If it is not foamy, the yeast is not working properly.
*Put 2 cups flour, salt, sugar, oil and yeast into processor. Blend 30 seconds.
*Slowly add 4 oz of water, until dough comes together.
*Add last cup of flour, process while slowly adding last 2 oz water. Dough should come together and scrape sides of bowl. Knead in machine 1-2 minutes, until dough is soft and smooth.
*Lightly grease a mixing bowl, put dough into bowl and cover tightly with wrap.
*Place aside to proof until double in size.
*Punch dough to release air. Divide into two French bread –style loaves onto a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Spray with pan spray, allow to double again in size.
*Preheat oven to 350. Bake 20 minutes, spin pan end to end, bake 10 more minutes. Loaves should be nicely golden brown. Let rest 5 minutes, slice and enjoy each bite.

Orlo Coots is Head Chef at Adair Country Inn & Restaurant. Enjoy his cooking by making a reservation at 603-444-2600. Orlo can be reached at for questions about this recipe or any other food-related questions. Remember — whether cooking for one or for a crowd, make every bite count.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Homecoming for the North Country Chamber Players

A Homecoming for the North Country Chamber Players
For Ronnie Bauch and Chris Finckel, two of the founding members of the North Country Chamber Players of Franconia, August 12 was like coming home. We had invited a string quartet of the Chamber Players to present an informal concert in the Inn’s living room for a small group of guests. It had been about 25 years ago that the Chamber Players had last played in the room and we were very excited to welcome them back.

Ronnie and Chris were well acquainted with Dorothy Adair Guider, the first owner of the house and one of the original trustees – as well as good friend -- to the renowned musical group in their early days.

“The Chamber Players have a very long and quite significant history with Adair and its original inhabitant, Dorothy Guider,” says Ronnie. “Dorothy was wonderful and generous to us, and we developed a close relationship over the years. We were indebted to her in many, many ways.”

During the early ‘80s, Dorothy was instrumental in arranging for the Chamber Players to tour the North Country, presenting programs to school children. Ronnie recalls that Dorothy offered her house as a home base during those days. “We’d arrive from New York City at 6:30 or 7 and head to the third floor,” says Ronnie. “As we passed the second floor we’d hear, ‘How do!’ (from Dorothy). The next day we’d be off to the far reaches of New Hampshire, a one room schoolhouse in Stark, to high schools in Berlin and Groveton.”

During the concert, Ronnie on violin, Chris on cello, and violist Ah Ling Neu and violinist Miki-Sophia Cloud offered selections from Mozart, Gershwin and Cole Porter for the two-dozen guests gathered in the living room on the comfortable chairs and sofas which had been pushed back to make room for the musicians in front of the fireplace.

Along with the music, Ronnie regaled the guests with stories about Dorothy and her relationship to the community and the Chamber Players. In 1927, Dorothy received the home as a wedding present from her father, Frank Hogan, an influential lawyer, and she lived there until her death in 1991. Having grown up in Washington, DC, she “knew everyone,” including every president from Wilson on.

Dorothy’s birthday was in late July, and “she was a Leo in every sense of the word,” says Ronnie. One of his fondest memories is of the several times he and other Chamber players would surprise her by sneaking into Adair through the back door just off the living room on the morning of her birthday, and setting up and playing some Mozart selections for her.

She was a childhood friend of Helen Hayes, the two having met at age six in ballet class, and Robbie recalls having tea with the women during one of his visits to Adair.

He also recalled Dorothy’s abilities as a community leader and mediator, which extended to her tenure as the president of Franconia College during some of its troubled years.

Several of the Gershwin and Cole Porter tunes played by the quartet during their visit had been played before in the very same living room. Ronnie says that Cole Porter, the grandson of the richest man in Indiana, who had a luxurious lifestyle, reminds him greatly of the kind of life Dorothy led during the ‘30s, traveling to Europe on ocean liners and eating at wonderful restaurants.

The Guider Steinway, which sat in a corner of the living room for 50 years and is signed by the Polish pianist Paderewski, now graces Alumni Hall in Haverhill. Upon Dorothy’s death it was bequeathed to the Chamber Players and keeps alive her memory and her connection to the musical group.

“We treasure Dorothy Adair Guider,” said Ilja during the Chamber Players’ visit. “We’re just very, very pleased to have the North Country Chamber Players here in this house again today.”

Warm wishes,
Ilja and Brad, Innkeepers