This feature is a sample of an LRF forthcoming series “Then & Now: Best Recipes from America’s Historic Hotels.”
The story of Hawley, PA’s The Settlers Inn is like Sleeping Beauty, revisited. Conceived at a sparkling moment in the town’s history when area entrepreneurs had just man-made Lake Wallenpaupack and expected a tourist boom, the hotel was hatched in the mid-1920s as a community project. Hawley-born architect Louis Edgar Welsh styled the building with a Tudor facade and English Arts & Crafts interior and city fathers sold dozens of townspeople $100 shares in the dream.
Then came the curse: The stock market crashed. Investors lost everything. And the beautiful hotel didn’t open, languishing empty and neglected through the Great Depression and WWII. Finally, in 1947, a string of new investors trickled in, intrigued by the building’s potential. Each tried, but failed to make a success of the property, which served as a state boys home, and several restaurants, but never a fully-realized inn.
Then in the late ’70s, along came Grant and Jeanne Genzlinger. Already operating a restaurant in town called The Settlers Inn, the couple first tried to help the Semonski family–whose six-sister singing act was a hit on the Lawrence Welk Show–make a success of a restaurant at the inn site. But the Semonskis bowed out, and in 1980 the Genzlingers became the new owners–the first to undertake a full, historic renovation of the building, and the first to bring it to its originally-intended completion as both elegant lodging-place and destination fine-dining restaurant. Following original blueprints which were discovered in a nearby attic, the Genzlingers carefully fulfilled the hotel’s Arts & Crafts stylings in dining room, guest rooms and public areas.
Menus for the property followed suit: Happily, the Genzlingers once operated a 600-acre orchard/farm/health-food collective with Rodale-Institute leanings. Their farm-to-table practices fit neatly with original Arts & Crafts movement objectives. 33 years hence, Settler’s Inn menus are still filled with locally-grown and sourced ingredients. 25 farmers, foragers and producers supply the inn with a panoply of fresh herbs, edible flowers, wild mushrooms, hand made cheeses and sustainably raised meats, poultry and fish.
Of these, brook trout is the Inn’s most-acclaimed specialty. The trout-fllled waters of the Lackawaxen River–once praised by Western-writer Zane Grey as some of the best fishing in the country–run through the Inn’s backyard. Showcasing such bounty, Executive Chef Grant regularly features dishes such as curried trout dumplings, smoked trout, and trout almondine. He likes these pretty flower- and herb-laced crepes for looks and taste: They’re filled with a luscious combination of smoked and fresh trout in a warm mousse. For best results, start the batter two hours before you plan to make the crepes.
Makes 2 cups mousse; 8 to 10 crepes; 8 to 10 servings
Fresh & Smoked Trout Mousse Ingredients
- 1/2 lb. smoked trout fillets, skin and bones removed
- 1/2 lb. fresh trout fillets, skin and bones removed
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 cup very cold heavy cream
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp kosher salt (use less if smoked trout is salty)
- Fresh-cracked black pepper to taste
Flower & Herb Crepes Ingredients
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (NOTE: Use Wondra flour if you have less time to let the batter rest: With Wondra, crepes can be made 1 hour after mixing batter. With all-purpose flour, crepe batter must rest 2 hours)
- 1 cup cold 2% milk
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 Tbsp clarified butter, divided
- Assorted fresh herb sprigs (dill, lemon thyme, rosemary leaves)
- Assorted fresh edible flower petals (pansies, scarlet runner bean blossoms, marigold petals, snap dragon flowers, rose petals)
- Make crepe batter: Combine flour, salt and eggs in food processor. With motor running, add milk, water, and 3 Tbsp of the clarified butter. Blend until smooth. Place, covered, in refrigerator and let rest for 2 hours.
- While batter rests, make mousse: Place both fresh and smoked trout pieces in food processor and puree. Add egg whites. Pulse again for about 1 minute, until well blended. While processor is running, add cold cream in a steady stream until fully incorporated. Place mixture, covered, in refrigerator.
- Make crepes: Heat crepe pan until drops of water dance on it. Brush pan lightly with some of the remaining 3 Tbsp of clarified butter. Gently place herb sprigs and flower petals in four quadrants of the pan; pour 1/4 cup crepe batter over all. Tilt and swirl batter in a circular motion to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook crepe for about 30 seconds until bottom is light brown. Spread parchment paper over a section of table or counter top. Remove crepe from pan to the parchment. Repeat until you have desired number of crepes.
- Preheat oven to 375.
- To assemble: For small filled crepes as shown in photo: cut each crepe into four equal, wedge-shaped pieces. Spread each with small amount of trout mousse. Roll each wedge into a cone shape. Place cones on parchment lined cookie sheet, seam side down. Bake at 375 for 10 to 12 minutes until mousse puffs up and becomes slightly firm. Serve filled crepes with light salad garnished with remaining flower petals and herbs.