Let’s Talk Pumpkin!

I was recently interviewed for a story about “Cooking with Pumpkin” which appeared in today’s Cape Cod Times. My family and I always enjoy cooking with pumpkins this time of year. Click Here to read the full story.





This is the recipe I shared in the story. It is by far one of my favorites:

Pumpkin Cobbler

2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
3 cups cooked and mashed sugar pumpkin
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the crust:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Garnish: Chopped lightly toasted pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For the filling, combine eggs, evaporated milk, and pumpkin in a mixing bowl. Add 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the dark brown sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. With mixer or wire whisk, beat lightly just until combined; set aside. For crust, pour butter into a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular baking dish and spread evenly. Combine 1 cup flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, 1 cup milk, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a mixing bowl. Pour this batter evenly over the melted butter to make crust. Pour the pumpkin mixture evenly over crust. Do not stir. Bake on middle rack of a preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If desired, garnish with chopped toasted pecans. Serve the cobbler warm with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Note: If you don’t have or want to use fresh pumpkin, you can substitute canned pumpkin.

Chef Higby

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Hearth ’n Kettle was “Taste of the Town” on FOX 25 Zip Trips

A couple of weeks ago on Friday, August 24th, it was a sunny day in Carver, Massachusetts—perfect weather for a visit from FOX 25’s “Zip Trips”. I don’t know the exact number of people crowded on the lawn of the Town Hall that morning, but I would venture to say it was well over two hundred. Despite the intensifying heat, there was an excited buzz in the air… everyone turned out to catch a glimpse of the FOX 25 news anchors, to meet the sponsors and get a chance TO BE SEEN ON TV!

Hearth ’n Kettle and our parent company, the Catania Hospitality Group, sponsored the “Fan of the Week” this summer, providing gift cards for winners at each of the 15 Zip Trip stops. On this particular day, H’n K was also showcased as the “Taste of the Town.”

Mary Sue Ganshaw, our Supervisor of Training, and Lou Massi, Director of Operations, accompanied me to the Plymouth Hearth ’n Kettle early in the morning, where we cooked and packed up special dishes to display at this event. Our table made everyone’s mouths water with plates of our homemade Summer Berry French Toast, Nut-Crusted Cod with Mango Salsa, Summer Berry Salad made with fresh organic greens, our popular Triple Decker sandwich the “Ultimate Reuben” and more. Joe Allen, general manager of the John Carver Inn & Spa/Plymouth Hearth ’n Kettle was assisted by managers Rebecca Nydam and Scott Hudson-Bryant, who treated the hungry spectators to our mini bacon-cheddar scones - tasty little versions of the scones on our breakfast menu.

When news co-anchor, Gene Lavanchy and news commentator, Doug ‘VB’ Goudie interviewed me and Mary Sue, we talked about the food we brought and reported that it was a busy summer. Watch the full interview here and see additional photos.

The morning was a lot of fun and we enjoyed the warm reception we received from the Zip Trip Staff and the Fans in Carver! Maybe next time you see us interviewed on TV, it will be by Anthony Bourdain on “No Reservations”!

Chef Higby

“VB”, Steve Higgins, Mary Sue Ganshaw and Gene Lavanchey



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A New Recipe From Chef Higby

Polish Pickles

6 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
6 tablespoons non-iodized salt
Four dill heads (or large sprigs of dill)
4 garlic cloves
2 grape leaves
2 tablespoons pickling spice

In a one gallon jar, place the dill, garlic, grape leaves and pickling spice. Pack the jar full to the top with cucumbers. Bring water, vinegar and salt to a boil and pour over the top. Let pickles sit on the counter for 36 hours and then refrigerate.


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What To Do When Your Garden is Producing!

August Recipe of the Month: BLT APPETIZERS


40 cherry tomatoes
6 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
2 cups chopped lettuce
2 – 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Slice thin slice off top of each cherry tomato. With a sharp knife gently separate the tomato membranes from shell. Scoop out the insides of tomatoes using the 1/2 teaspoon on a set of measuring spoons. In a medium sized bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Stuff each tomato with the mixture

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July Recipe - Bananas Foster

This is one of my favorite breakfast recipes that my wife and I make at home.

Bananas Foster - Serves 4
4 bananas, peeled and sliced on the diagonal in 2 inch chunks
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup dark rum 1/4 tsp salt

Melt butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat until caramelized, about five minutes. Add rum and salt, whisk until incorporated. Cook until alcohol burns off and the sauce thickens again, about 5 minutes. Add sliced bananas and cook until they are warmed through, stirring gently and spooning sauce over them to coat. Serve over premium vanilla ice cream.


Chef Higby

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Dining in the Summer Heat

Summer heat and the heat from cooking are not a very good mix. When summer comes around, the idea of spending time in a hot kitchen is probably not a popular choice. Comfort foods that might be satisfying and warming in winter are not the best choice for a hot summer evening. Instead, choose light, refreshing foods that require little or no cooking. That will leave you with more time to enjoy the beach, pool and the sun.

Hearth ’n Kettle's Grilled Gazpacho with Shrimp

Chilled soups might be a good choice for a main meal during the summer. They provide a tasty, fresh and nutritious meal without adding heat to your body. Add lots of fresh vegetables and pre-grilled chicken or shrimp to the pot. You can make recipes like gazpacho or your own combination using veggies from your garden. Squash is a great summer vegetable that works and so are tomatoes, peppers.

Fruit is always a great summer treat, choosing those rich in water, like watermelon and grapes, can be pleasantly cooling. I like to put mine in the freezer for about 10 minutes before serving to make them extra refreshing and cold. The fruit is a healthier and more nutritious snack than a Popsicle or ice cream. You can also make your own popsicles by freezing your favorite 100% juice in molds.

Summer is the time for barbecues. Try grilling some of the summer’s fresh vegetables you’ll find at the local farmer’s market or stand. Serve them with your burgers, chicken or sausages this summer for a healthier option to the pasta and potato salads.

Sometimes when the heat gets too much to bear, going to an air-conditioned restaurant and enjoying a relaxing meal can be a great choice too!

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Roasted Red Pepper Feta Dip Recipe

This is my new favorite dip recipe. It’s super easy, delicious and perfect to have after a day at the beach while relaxing on the deck with friends or family. It tastes even better when you roast your own peppers!

How to Roast Peppers
This is done by halving 2 red, yellow or orange peppers or a combination of two, and seasoning them with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

You can grill or broil them on both sides until charred and place in a sealed plastic or paper bag to steam for 5 minutes.

The skins should peel off easy and then you can process them.

Roasted Red Pepper Feta Dip
8 oz. block of Cream Cheese
6 oz. container of feta cheese crumbles
12 oz. jar roasted red-peppers (in water)-drain well
3 tbls. of chopped pepperoncinis
1 clove of minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until combined and slightly chunky.
Serve with toasted pita chips and vegetable sticks

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Skillets, Wraps & Stir Fry Bowls

New Stir-Fry Bowl

Skillets, Wraps and Stir-Fry Bowls!

Last week I talked about the process of developing a new menu. This week I want to tell you about some of the great new additions on the Hearth ’n Kettle Spring Menu!

For breakfast we have added some “skillets” which are served layered in a casserole dish.

The Harvest Skillet starts with our made from scratch butternut squash and potato hash that is topped with an egg white and vegetable scramble which is then topped with our cheddar cheese sauce. These layers of flavors will make a tasty start to your day.

We also have added a Chili Skillet, which includes our homemade grilled potato cake topped with scrambled eggs, our all-natural, hormone-free chili and cheddar cheese sauce.

New from the appetizer page is the Organic Arugula Salad which is tossed with dried cranberries, pecans, uncured nitrate-free smoked bacon, bleu cheese, and our homemade maple balsamic dressing.

We also added a Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Plate that comes with grilled flatbread, feta cheese, Kalamata olives and sticks of celery and carrots for dipping.

New on the Early Bird scene are Homemade Mac ’n Cheese with grilled ham steak, and we also have a Flounder Francaise- fillets of George’s Bank flounder dipped in an egg and cheese batter and sautéed, then topped with a buttery lemon sauce. By the way, Early Bird selections ARE available after 6pm for a small surcharge so you can still enjoy these selections if you arrive later.

Several new and healthy sandwiches have been added too, such as the Mediterranean Wrap which has organic greens, Kalamata olives, cucumber, tomato, red onion, feta cheese, and roasted red pepper hummus.

We have expanded our all natural, hormone-free burger menu to include a Bleu Cheese Burger that is seasoned with black pepper and topped with grilled onions and bleu cheese.

We also added a Bacon and Swiss Burger that is topped with creamy Swiss cheese and the uncured, nitrate-free bacon, which is the tastiest and healthiest bacon we have ever tried.

For dinner you have to try the Stir Fry Bowls that are served with organic brown rice, a medley of vegetables and a pineapple teriyaki sauce. You get a choice of chicken, steak, shrimp, a vegetarian version, and even one topped with a grilled salmon fillet.

So you see we have been busy creating new entrées that are tasty, healthy and competitively priced because that is what “H&K Approved” is all about!

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What Goes Into A New Menu?

The past couple of months have been a lot of fun as I have worked with our chefs and the menu committee to brainstorm new recipes for Hearth ’n Kettle’s Spring/Summer menu. The process of creating a new item and adding it to the menu is not as easy as you might think. Here’s a sneak peak at what goes on behind the menu:

First, the Menu Committee challenges each chef to come up with a few new recipes. Then we have a bit of a “Tasting Smackdown” when all Hearth ’n Kettle managers and corporate management get together in the afternoon to sample as many as 25 different sandwiches, salads, entrées and appetizers in one sitting. Well, it’s not really a smackdown … not competitive at all. Everyone supports each other, makes suggestions and honestly evaluates and scores each creation based on taste, presentation, use of fresh ingredients and a suggested price point. Once the scores are tallied, the top items are looked at more closely.

As Executive Chef/Purchasing Director it is my job to take each item and “cost it out”. This means sourcing the ingredients to get the best quality for the price. Once we set a price for the item based on cost, we must decide if it is a good value and if it is competitively priced. Would some of our customers be willing to spend a few cents more for nitrate-free bacon in the Arugula Salad? We think so… it tastes great and is healthier for you. In another instance we might decide that the ingredients we choose push a price too high and so we look for alternative high quality ingredients to make the item a better value. Then we taste it again and sometimes run it as a special in the restaurants to get valuable customer feedback. This is all part of the H’nK Approval process when each item is evaluated against 3 criteria:

  1. Is it made with Wholesome Ingredients?
  2. Does it Taste Great?
  3. Is it Competitively Priced?

Only if the new item meets all 3 criteria is it “H’nK Approved” and added to our menu.

Our Spring/Summer menu will be in all of our restaurants Wednesday, May 16th and we look forward to your feedback. We think this is one of our best menus ever with more than 25 new items. Stay tuned for more about the new menu!


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Recipe of the Month: Apple Walnut French Toast

Our Apple Walnut French Toast is a favorite breakfast choice on our winter/spring menu. Now you can enjoy it at home!


Apple Walnut French Toast

¼ lb. butter
1/3 C maple syrup
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt
1 can apple pie filling
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 ½ lbs. Cortland apples (peeled, cored and sliced)

In a large saucepan, dissolve butter into syrup on low heat. Add spices and whip into syrup/butter mixture. Add apple pie filling and lemon juice. Fold in apples and keep on low heat.

French Toast Batter
½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 T. sugar
½ C. half and half
8 eggs

In a large bowl, mix seasonings with vanilla and half and half. Whip in eggs. Slice a loaf of Italian bread into twelve 1-inch thick slices (save ends for bread crumbs).

Heat frying pan or electric griddle on medium/high and add 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine, moving it around to coat the surface.

Dip the slices of bread into the batter and cook until golden brown. Flip bread over and cook the same. Repeat until all are done.

Place two slices of French toast on each plate and top with the apple mixture.
Sprinkle each with chopped walnuts or pecans.

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