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Great Chefs of the Hudson Valley: Agnes Devereux of The Village Tea Room Restaurant & Bake Shop

by Tom Grasso

Many people claim to have spent their whole life in the hospitality business. Few can claim to have been born in it! Agnes Devereux’s story began in a small village at the foot of a mountain in “the golden vale” of Ireland. Her parents had a hotel and before home births were fashionable she was born in room number nine. Ireland’s hospitality is world famous and life revolved around their guests, many of whom came back year after year from all corners of the world. Baking was one of her favourite tasks, inspiring some of her best childhood memories of delicious meals and the memory of a house filled with the scent of stews and soups and cakes.

Living in Paris for two years another world of food opened up and there was an education in every patisserie in the city.

While studying interior design in Manhattan she worked for many years at NYC’s Union Square Café. During that time the restaurant was awarded the James Beard award for outstanding service. She received a remarkable education in food wine and hospitality from owner, Danny Meyer who is considered a leader in the field today.

After moving to New Paltz she attended the Institute of Culinary Education while planning the renovation of the beautiful 19th century structure, the former tailor shop of Alderd Schoonmaker.

Here’s Agnes’ recipe for one of her most popular items. Enjoy!

lamb pies 030

Dingle pie.

DINGLE PIES (Irish Style Lamb Pies)
Dingle is mountainous sheep country in the west of Ireland where the peninsula plunges into the Atlantic Ocean. Traditionally these pies were made from scraps of mutton. Fisherman cooked them in a can at sea. Farmers slipped the cooled pies in a pocket for a tasty meal.
Our version is made with ground lamb & flavoured with cumin seed. They make an excellent lunch on a hike or picnic.

2 Large Onions
5 Carrots
2 Stalks Celery
3 Teaspoons Cumin seed
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ Teaspoon Pepper
2Lb Ground Lamb
1Pint Chicken Stock
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Eggs (egg wash)

Makes approx 2 dozen pies.

Dice finely the onions, carrots & celery. Season with ½ teaspoon salt & soften on a low flame in the butter approximately 15 minutes.  Add the ground lamb and brown evenly breaking up the meat, so there are no lumps. Add the cumin seed, remaining salt & freshly ground pepper. Stir in chicken stock when lamb is browned. Place, uncovered in a low oven (250º) for 30 minutes.

Roll out cream cheese pie dough and cut into 5” circles. Chill circles for at least one hour. Holding a circle of dough in the palm of one hand, fill with cooled lamb mixture. Bring both sides together starting with the outer edges and working towards the center. Pinch the edges of the dough so it sticks together. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and crimp the edge. Freeze overnight or for several hours. (If the pies are not frozen they will burst open in the oven).
Whisk eggs in a bowl with a pinch of salt. When the pies are completely frozen, brush with egg wash and bake in a 400º oven for 35 –40 minutes until golden & filling is bubbling.

Flaky Cream Cheese Pie Crust

6 oz   Cold Unsalted Butter
10 oz Unbleached All-​​purpose Flour
¼  Teaspoon   Salt
¼  Teaspoons Non Aluminum Baking Powder
4.5 Oz Cold Cream Cheese
2 Table spoons   Ice Water
1 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar
Make Two 9” crusts

Place flour, salt & baking powder in the bowl of a mixer. Add well chilled cream cheese cut into 1” pieces and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add butter & process until butter is no larger than pea sized. Add water & vinegar Mix briefly. Mixture will be in particles. Dump out on to counter & bring together with you hands. Divide into two discs, wrap & refrigerate at least one hour

The Village Tea Room, 10 Plattekill Avenue, New Paltz (845) 255‑3434 www​.thevillagetearoom​.com

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