Wednesday, April 23, 2014
John Golden has written about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for Downeast magazine, the Boston Globe, Cottages and Gardens magazine, Gourmet magazine, Cuisine magazine, the New York Times and the New York Post.
In his highly opinionated blog, John reports on his experiences dining out all over Maine and his visits with food personalities, farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.
This chocolate pound cake is so big and so rich that you shouldn’t even attempt to make it unless you have a stand mixer. That’s the advice from singer and songwriter Emmylou Harris who describes her mother’s recipe for this phenomenal cake in cookbook author Ronni Lundy’s book, Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes and Honest Fried Chicken.
The book is an incredible compendium of American regional recipes from the southern Midwestern states like Kentucky, Tennessee and farther south. And many of the recipes are from country western stars that the author knew.
This cake is a sensational mix of basic ingredients like mounds of sugar, butter, eggs and a bit of coco powder for that subtle touch of chocolate goodness.
How novel to go to a new restaurant that is so good fresh out of the gate. That is very much the case with the Palace Diner, the diminutive, big-as-a-booth 15-seat rail car that re-opened in downtown Biddeford last week.
The Palace Diner in downtown Biddeford
If only I could sing the praises of a fine Mexican restaurant, one that is serving impeccably made food and has recently opened in our fair restaurant town. Instead this is about the lowest common denominator where Americanized Mexican cooking convenes in a newly fangled watering hole where the margaritas flow like tap water in vessels virtually large enough to launch cruise ships; and perhaps what’s worse is the complacent crowd clamoring to ingest these insipid dishes—food that you find in every wishy-washy place offering the usual mockery of Mexican cuisine.
Casa Fiesta is just one of those middling establishments where the familiar world of chimichanga, quesadillas, enchiladas, et al., come roaring out of the kitchen in a vast space that looks like a pokey replication of something vaguely Mayan. To wit, heavy wood-sheathed booths and red-tile roofing covering the rafters set the scene where you just want to get up and cha-cha. In the end the best feature at Casa Fiesta is the ability to park in a large lot in front of this restaurant along the Forest Avenue hinterlands.
Lemon meringue pie is one of those great American desserts. With its tower of snow-white meringue and tart-sweet filling it just doesn’t get much better than this.
Most recipes are fairly standard. The filling is basically a mixture of sugar, cornstarch and sometimes flour, mixed with water or milk, brought to the boil to thicken and flavored with fresh lemon juice and grated rind.
Every cook has his or own formula, but one of the best that I came across recently was in the cookbook, Back in the Day by Savannah, GA., bakers Cheryl and Griffith Day whose bakeshop there goes by the same name. Their version of lemon meringue pie is quite rich and I’ve adapted it with a few changes.
Why do we Sunday brunch?
Not even this sacred day’s midday meal escapes the hijinks of the gastrotech’s mindset spurring ever serious chefs to reinvent the wheels of eggs Benedict or blueberry pancakes. That’s because the demand is so high, where no brash food centric can live without weekend pleasures of cuisine at warp speed.
Portland doesn’t yet have far-out menus, though, from chefs who want to shock and shake the world of brunch. We’re happy with the few twists on eggs Benedict, hash or waffles smothered in pork belly. The most inventive menu for brunch I’ve found so far is at Caiola’s where the likes of Asian meatballs might accompany your eggs.