The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram » Recipes http://www.pressherald.com Mon, 26 Sep 2016 10:29:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.6 The magic of baking leads to spicy cake http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/21/the-magic-of-baking-leads-to-spicy-cake/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/21/the-magic-of-baking-leads-to-spicy-cake/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1067701 I love baking but until I was 16, our oven was just used as a place to keep big cutting boards and exiled frying pans.

My Indian parents were of a place and time where no one had ovens at home. All breads were flatbreads, like chapattis, which were hand-rolled and cooked on the stove and all cakes, if any, were either baked with the help of the village bakery or purchased.

Even now, ovens are rare across the whole of India because there’s never been much of a culture around baking, so baked goods are precious treats and baker’s skills are revered.

Having not grown up with baking, the first cake I made felt like real magic. Creating a goo out of eggs, butter, sugar and flour and watching it rise into something magnificent was very special to me and the total opposite of the way we cooked Indian food, by tasting, balancing and adjusting along the way.

Over time, classics became mingled with Indian spices and ingredients like cardamom, cinnamon and dates – as in this cake.

The dates add a lot of moisture, density and a caramel flavor to the sponge and the spices add sweetness and exoticism. Strictly speaking, the icing is unnecessary – a dusting of icing sugar would do – but the coffee butter icing gives it a special celebratory feel, which is, partly what baking is really all about.

Date And Cardamom Cake With Coffee Frosting

Soft dates are best for this cake as they’ll add to the moisture.

Serves 10

FOR THE CAKE:

1 stick butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

11/4 cups dates, pitted

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

11/2 cups all-purpose flour

11/2 teaspoons ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

A pinch of salt

FOR THE FROSTING:

6 tablespoons butter, softened

11/4 cups powder sugar

1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

1 tablespoon boiling water

Butter a loaf tin (approximately 9 x 5 inches) and line with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Chop the dates and place them in a saucepan. Add 1 cup of water to the pan and bring to a boil over a low heat, stirring occasionally. When the dates disintegrate into a soft paste, take off the heat and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar, cream together, then add the eggs, mixing in one by one. Fold in the flour, baking powder, salt and spices and when folded, add the date mixture and mix well.

Pour the batter into the loaf tin and place in the center of the oven for 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave the cake in the tin to cool before removing.

To make the frosting, mix the coffee granules with a tablespoon of boiling water (no more or you’ll have wet frosting until the granules dissolve).

Add the butter and sugar and whisk until soft and creamy.

When the cake has cooled, remove from the tin and smooth the frosting over the top.

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The Maine Ingredient: Celebrate September’s bounty with versatile frittata http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/21/celebrate-the-bounty-of-september-with-a-versatile-frittata/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/21/celebrate-the-bounty-of-september-with-a-versatile-frittata/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1067707 In Maine, the real height of farmers markets – at least in the midcoast region where I live – is in September. The markets burst with bounty, and it gets even harder to resist buying way more than seems prudent. Somehow, my husband and I always seem to get through it in a week’s time without a problem, savoring every flavorful (and healthy) bite.

FARMERS MARKET FRITTATA

For the last month or so of summer, I make this – or a variation – about once a week. It’s a very forgiving dish, with many possible substitutions open to the farmers market shopper. You can use sliced fennel, or young turnips or kohlrabi, greens, beans, tomatoes – almost any vegetable. A bit of starch in the form of potatoes, leftover rice, or cubed bread adds body and substance, and ham contributes smoky, salty flavor. Serve with pickled beets and crusty country bread (from the farmers market!) and butter.

Makes 2 to 3 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional if necessary

1 small (about ½ pound) eggplant, unpeeled, cut in ½-inch rounds

¾ teaspoon salt, plus more to season eggplant

1 medium onion, sliced

2 small summer squash, any color (about ½ pound), sliced

1 red frying pepper (about 4 ounces), sliced

½ cup slivered ham or smoked sausage (optional)

About ¾ cup starch – cubed leftover potatoes, rice, or bread or pasta

About ½ cup torn basil leaves

5 eggs

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup shredded cheese, such as cheddar

Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet with ovenproof handle. Season eggplant with salt and cook over medium heat, turning once or twice, until softened and nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Add a tablespoon or 2 more oil to pan if necessary. Sauté onion, squash, pepper and optional ham over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tinged with brown and softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in cooked potatoes or other starch, layer eggplant over vegetables and scatter with basil.

Preheat broiler. Beat eggs with 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper and pour evenly over vegetables. Cover pan and cook over low heat, tilting pan and lifting up edges of frittata to allow uncooked egg to flow to the bottom, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese. Place pan in oven about 5 inches from heat source and broil until cheese melts and top browns slightly.

Cut into wedges to serve.

MULTICOLORED PICKLED BEETS

Pickled beets are one of those old-fashioned dishes whose goodness lies in its simplicity. These days, with pretty golden varieties and striped Chioggias in the mix, the resulting pickle is more beautiful and more delicious than ever.

Makes about 1½ cups

12 ounces (about 8 medium) trimmed beets, at least 2 colors if possible

Salt for cooking

2/3 cup cider vinegar

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup beet-cooking water or plain water

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup slivered onion

Cover beets with water, add salt, and cook, covered, until tender, about 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel beets and cut into ½-inch dice. (Alternatively, wrap beets in foil and roast in a 375-degree oven for about 40 minutes until tender.)

In a medium saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar, water and salt to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Put beets and onion in a bowl, pour pickling liquid over and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to a week.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

facebook.com/brookedojny

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Make brisket with no worries and all the flavor http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/21/make-brisket-with-no-worries-and-all-the-flavor/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/21/make-brisket-with-no-worries-and-all-the-flavor/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1067722 As the Jewish holidays approach, it’s time for many of us to think about brisket.

My sister who cooks for the Jewish holidays every year (and plenty during the rest of the year) recently admitted to me that she had never made brisket, that it intimidated her. How to make sure it’s flavorful? How to know how long to cook it? It all made her anxious.

This brisket recipe is straightforward, uses traditional seasonings and flavors, and results in a tender-but-still-sliceable piece of meat. Aside from setting aside a few hours for it to cook, it really takes little work. Don’t you just love a main course that you can ignore while you’re preparing the rest of the dinner?

Some recipes call for browning a brisket first, which is nice if you have extra time on your hands, but it’s not necessary for a perfectly tender brisket.

If possible, make the brisket a day ahead. This accomplishes several things: One, your main course is made and checked off the list. Two, you can scoop off any fat that has hardened on top of the sauce, resulting in a cleaner-tasting gravy. Three, cold brisket is easier to slice, and then you reheat the slices in the sauce. Four, the flavors have more time to meld and build (like soups and stews).

First-cut brisket means brisket with much of the fat cut off (but not all; you don’t want that). If you get a bigger piece of meat and want to cut it into two pieces, you can overlap them in the pot. In general, brisket is resilient.

Brisket is great served with mashed potatoes or some simple buttered noodles.

BRISKET

Makes 8 to 10 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

11/2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 teaspoon kosher or coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 first-cut beef brisket (4 to 5 pounds)

2 cups chopped onions

4 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced

3 bay leaves

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup low-sodium beef or chicken broth

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in juice or puréed

1 cup red wine

2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Place the olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl and stir to mix. Rub the mixture all over the meat.

Place the brisket, fat side up, in a large casserole or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Toss in the onions, carrots and bay leaves. Blend the tomato paste into the broth and then pour it over the meat and vegetables. Pour the crushed tomatoes and red wine on top. The liquid should cover the meat and most of the vegetables. Cover the casserole and bake until the meat is very tender, about 31/2 hours.

If you are serving the brisket the next day:

Let it cool and then put the entire casserole in the refrigerator. About an hour before serving, skim off any hardened fat, then take the meat out of the sauce and cut off any excess fat from the top of the meat. Slice the brisket across the grain, as thin or thick as you like, then neatly return the sliced meat to the sauce. You can let it sit at room temperature for an hour before reheating it, which will make the process go faster and the meat heat more evenly.

Place the pot over medium-low heat, and heat the brisket in the sauce until everything is hot. Alternatively, you may place the pot in a preheated 325 F oven until everything is warmed through, and the cooking liquid has reduced and thickened a bit. This will take about 30 minutes in the oven, maybe less on the stovetop. Adjust seasonings as needed.

You can serve the brisket in the casserole or transfer it to a large shallow serving bowl. Either way, remove and discard the bay leaves and sprinkle the parsley on top of the brisket, if desired.

If you are serving the brisket right after you cook it:

Remove the meat from the casserole and let it rest on a platter, loosely tented with aluminum foil. Let the cooking liquid and vegetables sit for about 15 minutes, then spoon off any fat that has accumulated. Place the casserole over medium-high heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces a bit, about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings as necessary, and remove and discard the bay leaves. Slice the meat neatly across the grain, return it to the pot.

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Five essential sauces for building new recipes http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/21/five-essential-sauces-recipes/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/21/five-essential-sauces-recipes/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1067731 Most sauces are designed to develop flavor over a long time, which is a nice idea if you have the time to keep an eye on the stove. Or you can whip up five sauces in under five minutes each, using just a lidded jar or an electric blender.

Even better, these sauces mix and match with one another or with other pantry staples in a variety of ways, so you can build new recipes: Add a spoonful of the marinara sauce to the coconut curry base to create an Indian-style curry sauce; toss chicken strips and root vegetables with the red wine vinaigrette for a quick marinade; or stir honey, cinnamon and vanilla extract into the Cashew Cream to make a sweet dip for sliced apples.

BASIC COCONUT CURRY SAUCE

From Washington food writer and editor Kristen Hartke.

If you’re craving a quick curry, then start with this sauce, which provides a good base for both Indian- and Thai-style curry dishes. Mixing and matching ingredients allows you to create new sauces from a single base, and as your ingredient pantry grows, you can start to create richer curries with more depth of flavor.

Using raw onion in the basic sauce will give a slightly sharper flavor than is traditionally found in curry sauce, so sauté the onion with the ginger in a little oil first if you want to get a mellower flavor, then blend with the rest of the ingredients.

The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Makes 8 servings (about 41/2 cups)

27 ounces canned low-fat coconut milk (2 cans, shaken well)

1/2 cup no-salt-added vegetable broth

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon seasoning blend, such as Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute

1 teaspoon chili powder

Combine the coconut milk, broth, ginger, onion, seasoning blend and chili powder in a blender; puree until smooth.

VARIATIONS:

To make an Indian-style curry sauce (2 to 3 servings’ worth), combine 1 cup of the basic Coconut Curry Sauce, 2/3 cup Fast Blender Marinara Sauce (see recipe below), 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon curry powder and a pinch of sugar in a blender; puree until smooth. The yield is 12/3 cups. Cook in a saucepan over low heat for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop, then stir in cooked proteins, canned chickpeas or vegetables; cook for about 15 minutes while the sauce thickens. Serve over rice.

 To make a Thai-style curry sauce (2 to 3 servings’ worth), combine 1 cup of the basic Coconut Curry Sauce, 2 tablespoons each of Cashew Cream and Quick Stir-Fry sauces (see recipes below), 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon sugar and Sriracha (to taste) in a blender; puree until smooth. The yield is 11/3 cups. Cook in a saucepan over low heat for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop, then stir in cooked proteins, canned chickpeas or vegetables; cook for about 15 minutes while the sauce thickens. Serve with rice or rice noodles and a slice of lime.

BASIC RED WINE VINAIGRETTE

Adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart.

Basic Red Wine Vinaigrette

Basic Red Wine Vinaigrette

A good vinaigrette goes a long way in the kitchen, whether you’re using it on fresh salads and sauteed vegetables or as a marinade for proteins. This recipe is as basic as you can get, and it’s perfectly fine to use different kinds of vinegar and mustard, add a touch of honey for sweetness, add fresh herbs or substitute lemon juice for the vinegar.

The vinaigrette can be refrigerated for up to 4 weeks. Shake well before using.

Makes 4 servings (1/2 cup)

1/3 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 small clove garlic, minced

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the oil, vinegar, mustard and garlic in a mason jar. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Seal and shake well, until emulsified. Use right away, or refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.

CASHEW CREAM

Adapted from “Yum Universe: Infinite Possibilities for a Gluten-Free, Plant-Powerful, Whole-Food Lifestyle,” by Heather Crosby.

Cashew Cream

Cashew Cream

If you’ve ever wanted a creamy sauce but didn’t have dairy products on hand, then this is the next best thing. Made with raw cashews and water, this sauce has a nutty creaminess that is also extremely versatile. Thin it down further with water to create a savory base for macaroni and cheese, or mix in a little honey, cinnamon and vanilla extract to make a sweet dip for sliced apples.

This quick method calls for boiling the cashews for a few minutes to soften them, but you can also put them in a bowl, cover them with water, and let them soak in the refrigerator overnight.

The cashew cream can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Makes 10 servings (21/2 cups)

2 cups raw, unsalted cashews

1 cup cold water, or more as needed

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Place the cashews in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium; cook for 15 minutes, or until the nuts begin to plump slightly and soften.

Drain the cashews, then transfer them to a blender along with the 1 cup of cold water, the lemon juice and salt. Puree until smooth, stopping to scrape the sides of the blender, as needed.

If the mixture seems too thick while blending, add more water, one tablespoon at a time. Use right away, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

QUICK STIR-FRY SAUCE

From Washington food writer and editor Kristen Hartke.

Quick Stir-Fry Sauce

Quick Stir-Fry Sauce

Salty, tangy and lightly spicy, this is a great sauce to have in your repertoire when you need to pull together a fast meal out of whatever’s in the refrigerator. Toss it with leftover rice or noodles, vegetables and any kind of protein for an impromptu dish of fried rice or lo mein, or use it as a marinade for chicken, beef or tofu.

Add it to the Basic Coconut Curry Sauce with some Cashew Cream (see related recipes), a squirt of lime juice and Sriracha to give it a Thai-inspired flavor, or substitute it for that packet of dried seasoning the next time you mix up a late-night bowl of ramen.

The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 4 weeks.

Makes 20 servings (11/4 cups)

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1/2 cup no-salt-added vegetable broth

1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar

1 teaspoon vinegar

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

Combine the soy sauce, broth, honey or agave nectar, vinegar, ginger and garlic in a mason jar. Seal and shake well, until incorporated. Use right away, or refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.

FAST BLENDER MARINARA SAUCE

Adapted from a recipe at Vitamix.com.

Fast Blender Marinara Sauce

Fast Blender Marinara Sauce

It’s true that the most flavorful marinara sauces are cooked for hours in order to allow them to develop the richest flavors, but this quick sauce has a bright freshness that’s perfect with pasta or as a topping for a weeknight pita-bread pizza.

If you want to take some time to develop the flavor of the sauce, saute the carrot, onion and garlic in a little olive oil before adding them to the blender, then continue the recipe as written.

The just-blended, uncooked marinara can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. The cooked sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Makes 8 servings (4 cups)

1/2 cup chopped carrot (about one 6-inch carrot will do)

3 cloves garlic

3/4 cup chopped onion

One 28-ounce can no-salt-added, whole peeled tomatoes, plus their juices

1 teaspoon seasoning blend, such as Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine the carrot, garlic, onion, tomatoes and their juices, seasoning blend and pepper in a blender; puree on low speed until all the vegetables are finely chopped.

Pour into a medium saucepan; cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. Use right away, or cool completely before storing.

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A London vegetarian restaurant produces ‘Mildreds: The Cookbook’ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/21/cookbook-review-a-well-known-vegetarian-restaurant-in-london-produces-mildreds-the-cookbook/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/21/cookbook-review-a-well-known-vegetarian-restaurant-in-london-produces-mildreds-the-cookbook/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1067806 As I flipped through a pile of new cookbooks that had just arrived in the newsroom, my eye went right to “Mildreds: The Cookbook.” The simple cover features a sketch of the restaurant that has been a vegetarian mecca in London since 1988, but the inside pops with bright photos of vegetarian and vegan dishes featuring fresh produce.

Although I love vegetables, I’m not vegetarian and my meat-loving husband most definitely is not. I hesitated: Would any of the recipes be a hit at my house?

A quick flip through the book assured me that, yes, we could get behind this one. Plus, the authors promise delicious vegetarian recipes for “simply everyone.”

Jane Muir opened Mildreds with the late Diane Thomas in Soho at a time when most places with vegetarian menus still had a distinctly 1960s hippie vibe. Mildreds focused on affordable, fresh and colorful international vegetarian food. Muir said she and Thomas deliberately stayed away from the brown food in earthenware pottery that was more common in vegetarian restaurants at the time.

The book’s introduction is written by Muir and chefs Daniel Acevedo and Sarah Wasserman, who also wrote the recipes.

“Nowadays, vegetarian cooking really is for everyone, whether you still enjoy tucking into a steak, or prefer a completely vegetarian diet,” they write. “Vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts and seeds have now taken their rightful place in the kitchen and have stolen the limelight.”

The recipes are grouped by course, but the appetizers – enticing dishes like stuffed baby eggplants and spring vegetable pakora – could also work as entrees. Vegan and gluten-free recipes are marked as such, and the chefs point out that many recipes that aren’t gluten-free can easily be adapted to fit food restrictions.

With the air taking on a bit of early fall chill, many recipes have been added to my to-try list: Black Bean Chili-Filled Baby Pumpkins with Toasted Coconut Rice, Wild Mushroom and Ale Pies, and a Wellington made with roasted portobello mushrooms, pecans and chestnuts in place of the standard beef.

I couldn’t resist the Lapsang-scented Mushroom Stroganoff. The description promises a fun twist on a classic Russian recipe with a slightly smoky taste from the tea. Which would have been great if I had been able to find the tea. It proved hard to find at grocery stores near my house, though some Portland tea purveyors, including Dobrá Tea and Whole Foods carry it. The recipe was still tasty without it – the dill was a great complement to the rich cream and earthy mushrooms – and I’ll be sure to buy the tea before I make the stroganoff again.

— GILLIAN GRAHAM

LAPSANG-SCENTED MUSHROOM STROGANOFF

The recipe calls for corn flour, which is the British way of saying cornstarch. Lapsang souchong tea has an aggressive smoky taste, which adds complexity and depth to the stew that would normally come from the beef. Like the original dish, this stroganoff is quite rich. Serve with rice pilaf.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 pounds mixed mushrooms (such as ceps, cremini and meadow), trimmed

Light cooking oil (such as canola, peanut and sunflower)

2 lapsang souchong tea bags

21/2 cups boiling water

2 tablespoons butter

2 onions, finely sliced

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

2 tablespoons corn flour

13/4 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup sour cream

1 bunch of dill leaves, chopped

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the mushrooms into even, bite-sized pieces. Drizzle a little oil into a roasting pan, add the mushrooms, and toss together thoroughly to coat. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender but have not yet begun to shrivel. Set aside.

Put the lapsang souchong tea bags into a bowl, cover with the boiling water and let stand to infuse for 4 minutes. Remove and discard the tea bags and set the tea aside.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onions and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and paprika and fry for another 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the corn flour and stir together well. Pour in the tea and heavy cream, then stir in the mushrooms, mustard and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has begun to reduce and thicken slightly.

Add the sour cream and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the stroganoff is thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide between serving plates and scatter with dill.

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Melon glams up deliciously with something sparkling http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/21/melon-glams-up-deliciously-with-something-sparkling/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/21/melon-glams-up-deliciously-with-something-sparkling/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1067821 Sparkling wine is my aperitif of choice. It’s light and refreshing, it pairs well with just about any starter, and those bubbles always put me in a good mood.

Occasionally, I will spring for a glass of French Champagne, but I find Italian prosecco, Spanish cava or an American sparkling wine does the trick just as well for, typically, a much lower price, making it possible to enjoy that effervescence in an everyday way.

It turns out sparkling wine also makes for a wonderful end to a meal, as a star ingredient in this easy, elegant, four-ingredient dessert. First you sweeten prosecco (or whatever sparkling wine you prefer) with a little sugar – just enough so it is lightly sweetened but not at all syrupy.

Superfine sugar is preferred because it dissolves quickly and easily, but if you don’t have any on hand you can make your own by putting regular granulated sugar in the food processor to grind it more finely.

Then add balls of sweet, juicy honeydew melon, and let the mixture steep in the refrigerator for at least two hours, so the flavors can meld and everything is well chilled. Spoon into cocktail glasses, shower with a fragrant, floral confetti of basil, and you have a grown-up dessert that is fresh, fun and glamorous.

It is one that is well suited to cap off a special-occasion meal but, like those tiny bubbles themselves, can make a regular day feel like a celebration.

PROSECCO-SPIKED MELON WITH BASIL

If you can’t find superfine sugar, give your granulated sugar a good turn in the food processor.

The melon balls need to macerate in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.

Makes 4 servings

1 cup prosecco (not extra-dry)

3 tablespoons superfine sugar (may substitute granulated sugar; see headnote)

4 cups (1 pound 7 ounces) honeydew melon balls, from one 4-to-41/2-pound melon

1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Pour the prosecco into a large bowl. Add the sugar and stir gently until it is dissolved. Add the melon balls and stir to coat evenly. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.

Just before serving, stack the basil leaves, roll them tightly and cut them crosswise into thin ribbons (chiffonade).

To serve, divide the melon balls and their liquid among 4 cocktail (martini) or dessert glasses; garnish each with about 1 tablespoon of the basil ribbons.

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Thai Green Pork Curry tantalizes with aroma and taste http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/21/thai-green-pork-curry-tantalizes-with-aroma-and-taste/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/21/thai-green-pork-curry-tantalizes-with-aroma-and-taste/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1067827 The scent of Thai curry cooking is very possibly one of the greatest kitchen smells ever.

Ingredients like lemongrass, chilies, garlic, ginger, coconut milk and spices like coriander and cumin all mingle to create a heady perfume that pulls people to the table.

There are as many versions of Thai curry as there are provinces of the country – perhaps as many as there are Thai cooks. Thailand is at the center of Southeast Asia, and its cooking has influenced and been influenced by the cuisines of many countries, from India to China.

While making your own curry paste is an interesting and rewarding experience, opening a jar of Thai curry paste is by far the easiest solution for a weeknight dinner. It’s available in the Asian section of supermarkets, and online.

Fish sauce is a traditional ingredient in Thai and other Southeast Asian cuisines. It is made from fermented anchovies or other seafood, and has a pungent smell, but when a small amount is employed in a recipe it adds a bracing, salty flavor that calls your taste buds to attention. If you like Thai food, you probably like fish sauce. Start with a small amount, and add more from there.

The sauce of this curry is fairly thin. If you want a thicker sauce, stir a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch into 2 tablespoons of water and add with the coconut milk. Either way, you’ll want to serve it with plenty of rice to soak up the delicious liquid.

THAI GREEN PORK CURRY

Makes 6 servings

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil

1 onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons Thai green curry paste

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 red bell pepper, slivered

11/2 cups chicken broth

1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk

1 tablespoon fish sauce or soy sauce

2 cups small cauliflower florets

4 cups cubed pork loin

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3/4 cup slivered fresh basil leaves

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

6 cups hot cooked white or jasmine rice to serve

Lime wedges to serve

In a large pot over medium high heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the curry paste and ginger and stir until you can smell the spices. Stir in the bell pepper, then add the broth and coconut milk and bring to a gentle simmer (do not let the mixture boil or it might separate or curdle).

Add the fish sauce or soy sauce, and the cauliflower. Simmer for 5 minutes, until the cauliflower starts to become tender. Add the pork and the chickpeas and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 10 minutes, until the pork is cooked and the cauliflower is tender. Stir in the basil and lime juice and serve over the hot rice, with the lime wedges on the side to squeeze over.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/21/thai-green-pork-curry-tantalizes-with-aroma-and-taste/feed/ 1 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1067827_648711-curry.jpgWed, 21 Sep 2016 08:19:00 +0000
Which Maine heritage apples work best in your favorite recipes? http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/18/green-plate-special-which-maine-heritage-apples-work-best-in-your-favorite-recipes/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/18/green-plate-special-which-maine-heritage-apples-work-best-in-your-favorite-recipes/#comments Sun, 18 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1060984 My favorite part of the Common Ground Fair is preservation pomologist John Bunker’s annual Apple Tasting. You’ve got to get there early to get a seat under the tent. But as the crowd gathers at its edges, a loaves and fishes kind of thing happens: everybody gets at least a sliver of each heirloom variety on offer and a chance to hear their stories told by Maine’s own apple whisperer.

Bunker’s apple joy is contagious. I just joined his cooperative Out on a Limb heirloom apple CSA through which, for $150, I will get a quarter bushel of rare, Maine apples (10 to 12 pounds) sourced from multiple orchards every other week through early November.

The point of the CSA is to provide a market for these old apples, which many growers don’t even bother to harvest for lack of retail interest.

“If we keep these growers happy, we hope that they will take good care of their old trees” and keep the heritage varieties alive for future generations, Bunker explained.

Cultivating biodiversity in any crop is protection from having a monolithic failure of any monocrop by pests and disease. But from a culinary standpoint, cultivating apple biodiversity means that cooks can have a wide variety of apple tastes, textures, tannin levels and times at which the apples ripen.

In all, I’ll get to sample over 20 varieties I could never find in the grocery store and might only see at a farm stand once in a blue moon. I will receive a mix of eating and culinary apples.

Uh-oh. How do I know how any of these apples will behave in the pan? I went looking for a few rules for fitting apple varieties I don’t know into recipes I do.

Yankee Magazine Food Editor Amy Traverso, author of “The Apple Lover’s Cookbook,” divides all cooking apple types into four categories. Firm-tart ones like Granny Smith, Gravenstein and Ida Red hold their shape when cooked, are best for cakes and pie and benefit recipes that require “a bit of acidity and bright flavor.” Firm-sweet apples like Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Ginger Gold, Honeycrisp and Jonagold work well in savory and sweet dishes that need firm, but sweet fruit. Tender-tart apples like Cortland, Macoun or McIntosh are best for soups and sauces. And lastly, tender-sweet Gala and Fuji apples suit quick-cooking dishes, dessert sauces and especially salads since neither tends to brown very quickly when sliced.

These apples are familiar because they (plus the ubiquitous Red Delicious) are the dozen best-selling in the United States. Traverso offers up a cheat sheet for how 48 more interesting but less common culinary apples (her favorites are the firm-tart Calville Blanc and firm-sweet Pink Lady, both of which are good options for her Pork and Apple Pie with Cheddar-Sage Crust, recipe below), line up in her categories as well.

Of the 123 apple varieties Rowan Jacobsen profiles in his book “Apples of Uncommon Character,” he only enthusiastically recommends about 40 for cooking. He says early summer apples should be eaten as the first raw tastes of apple season; that dessert apples (in the English sense of fruit being served for dessert) should also be eaten straight up; and that the bulk of what he calls keepers, should be taken fresh from the root cellar as a necessary dose of freshness in winter.

I cross-checked Jacobsen’s list with Traverso’s, looking for agreement on heirloom cooking apples and found only a baker’s dozen in common. Both authors agree that Arkansas Black, Ashmead Kernel, Bramley’s Seedling, Calville Blanc, Newtown Pippin, Northern Spy, Rhode Island Greening, Rome, Roxbury Russet and Staymen Winesap apples would make great stand-ins for ordinary firm-tart Granny Smiths in cakes and pies. And they agree that Black Oxfords and Grimes Goldens can be used anywhere a recipe calls for a Braeburn. The Black Twig is the only one they agree upon as a tender-tart apple good for soups and sauces.

Understanding where the rest of the thousands of apples that grow in this region fall into your own recipes requires case-by-case research. The website maintained by Fedco Trees, an outgrowth of Fedco Seeds that is headed by Bunker, serves up an interactive chart (fedcoseeds.com/trees/apple_chart.htm) depicting over 90 types of Maine apples, their flavor profiles, their best culinary uses and their seasonality.

Still, as the saying goes, there is no accounting for personal taste. So as you’re digesting virtual information about a new-to-you apple, take a bite out of the real thing to really understand how it might fit into your own favorite apple recipes moving forward.

Christine Burns Rudalevige is a food writer, a recipe developer and tester, and a cooking teacher in Brunswick. Contact her at: cburn1227@gmail.com.

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‘The Modern Preserver’ gets creative with canning http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/14/the-modern-preserver-gets-creative-with-canning/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/14/the-modern-preserver-gets-creative-with-canning/#comments Wed, 14 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1057203 “The Modern Preserver: Jams, Pickles, Cordials, Compotes and More.” By Kylee Newton. Countryman Press $25.95

Canning is not fun. With all of the attendant preparation, sterilization of jars and sweating over a simmering pot often in the height of summer, canning is labor.

What is fun is having canned, possessing the finished product, pretty jars sitting on a dark shelf as the temperature dips and scarcity replaces splendor, that satisfaction equivalent, as the “Joy of Cooking” puts it, “only to a clear conscience or a very becoming hat.”

“The Modern Preserver” by Kylee Newton presents a very different view. Here, canning is color and flash, preservation for an all-at-once age. A celebration not so much of capturing the seasons – Newton briefly describes the importance of using produce at its peak and wasting none of it – but of the alchemy of blending flavors to create something new and capturing that thing, like a sprite, in a jar with a vacuum seal.

Newton, a New Zealander who has lived for years in London, where she sells her homemade creations as Newton & Pott, encourages readers in the introduction to play with fruits and vegetables that are grown around the world and are now more accessible than ever.

“Let travel influence your ideas, spin that flavor wheel and try out new and interesting combinations,” she writes.

This is not your guide to canning local produce. Here recipes are offered for Beets and Orange Chutney, Roasted Pineapple and Coconut Sweet Pickle, Apple and Sage Butter, and Passionfruit Curd.

Yet, I did go to Newton’s book looking for ways to make the most of what’s ripe in my garden right now. Her recipe for homemade ketchup may be sedate, but it excited for me for its simplicity. She adds apples for sweetness, making this a perfect recipe for right now in New England, when local tomatoes and apples are abundant.

The bag of raspberries in my freezer are bound for Chocolate and Raspberry Jam. And I’ve earmarked Blueberries In a Pickle and Rhubarb and Prosecco Jelly, for when the seasons come around again. (Call me old-fashioned.)

Newton spends just two pages on sterilization and food safety. Her recipes generally recommend pouring hot contents into well-sterilized jars and sealing, without the extra step of processing the finished jars in boiling water or a pressure cooker. Lots of people have done it that way for many years, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that method isn’t enough to absolutely prevent botulism.

Use “Modern Preserver” for its many tantalizing recipes. For a guide to the basics of food preservation, try the “Joy of Cooking.”

HOMEMADE KETCHUP

Makes 4-5 17-ounce bottles

Newton writes that the key to thick ketchup is steeping the tomatoes in salt as long as possible, for at least three hours, and draining well. (I left them to steep overnight.) She recommends eating this with fish and chips, burgers (duh), or “anything else you like eating with ketchup.” Which, with this recipe, might be everything.

To make the spice bag, wrap the spices in a small piece of cheesecloth and secure with kitchen twine.

4 pounds tomatoes (preferably vine)

1 tablespoon salt

1 pound apples

1 pound onions

1 cup raw granulated sugar

11/4 cup distilled malt vinegar

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground allspice

SPICE BAG:

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon whole cloves, lightly toasted

1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp chili flakes

Roughly chop the tomatoes, place in a large bowl and gently stir through with the salt. Leave to steep for at least 3 hours. If you don’t want tomato skins in your ketchup, blanch the tomatoes to remove the skins before chopping and salting.

Meanwhile, peel, core and dice the apples, and peel and roughly chop the onions.

Drain off the excess salted liquid from the tomatoes and prepare the spice bag. Put the tomatoes and spice bag, along with all the other ingredients, in a large, heavy-bottomed pan and bring to boil.

Simmer and stir steadily for 1 hour until the mixture has thickened and reduced by around a third.

Remove the spice bag and leave to cool then use a food processor or a food mill to blend the mixture to a smooth sauce-like consistency.

Return the sauce to the pan and bring to boil once again, simmering and stirring for another 20 minutes, skimming off any scum on the surface as it reduces.

Remove from the heat once it is as thick as you want it.

Using a funnel, ladle or pour the ketchup into warm, dry sterilized bottles.

Gently tap the bottom of the bottles on a hard surface to remove any air bubbles, then seal.

Can be eaten immediately but best left to mature for 2-4 weeks before opening.

Keeps for up to 6 months to a year unopened. Once opened, refrigerate and eat within 4 months.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/14/the-modern-preserver-gets-creative-with-canning/feed/ 0 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1057203_772542-modernpreserver.jpgWed, 14 Sep 2016 08:43:12 +0000
With tomatoes at their best, think beyond the BLT http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/14/with-tomatoes-at-their-best-think-beyond-blt/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/14/with-tomatoes-at-their-best-think-beyond-blt/#comments Wed, 14 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1057212 While we all have access to tomatoes in even the depths of winter, the words we use to describe them sound like other names for disappointment – mealy, bland and sad. But describe an encounter with the best summertime tomatoes, and suddenly it sounds as if you’re reliving some steamy affair – luscious, sumptuous and messy.

The best summertime tomatoes have a super juicy interior with a taste that hovers from sweet to acidic to, most importantly, savory. You probably think I’m joking, but tomatoes contain a high proportion of glutamic acid, which also lends Parmesan cheese and soy sauce their oddly meaty powers. Kind of amazing, no?

As an American, I make sure to eat my fair share of BLT sandwiches; when done right, it is a nearly flawless creation. But it’s not the only word on tomatoes and bread. There’s a wide world of options out there, and making the slightest adjustment to the bread or the fat used completely changes the result. The only rule is to keep things simple.

Let’s start with the obvious. We’ve all heard of bruschetta, right? At its simplest, the base recipe is nothing more than toasted or grilled slices of bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil and salt. If you’re using great bread, this can be satisfying, if a tad boring. But add tomatoes to the mix and maybe some torn basil, and now you have one of the most ubiquitous appetizers on earth. The crunch of the bread contrasts with the soft chopped tomatoes, with the garlic heat coming at the end.

In northern Spain, they also serve a toasted bread and tomato dish called pan de tomate (or pa amb tomaquet in the Catalan language), but while the ingredients are extremely similar to bruschetta, the dish differs dramatically. Instead of neatly chopped tomatoes and a pop of bright green basil, cooks drag a halved tomato across the toasted bread, saturating the slice and leaving a trail of pulp and seeds in its wake.

Compared to bruschetta, it’s a messy, unkempt sight. But it’s immensely satisfying, perhaps even more so than the Italian version, because of the mix of crunchy toasted bread and the soft tomato-soaked interior.

If you prefer your sandwich more handsome, follow the example of Denmark’s meticulously composed open-faced sandwiches, called smorrebrod. Though topping options are nearly limitless, they all start with a firm foundation of grilled or toasted rye bread spread with butter. One of the simplest is to pair sliced tomato with hard-cooked egg and watercress. You could stack all the ingredients on top of each other, but Nika Hazelton, in her book “Classic Scandinavian Cooking,” suggests placing eggs on one side and tomatoes on the other, with watercress neatly positioned on top. Be as fiddly as you like.

The result certainly looks much neater, but if you’re using plump summertime tomatoes, each bite is still adequately messy. The sliced egg adds a creaminess, while the tangle of watercress lends a pleasing peppery bite.

Not all tomato sandwiches need to be toasted. In the southern United States, tomato sandwiches are usually built on untoasted, pearly white bread. While the softness of the bread seems destined to buckle under the juicy tomato slices, a healthy coating of mayonnaise helps protect it. What kind of mayonnaise? According to Southern cookbook author Virginia Willis, store-bought brands are actually the traditional way, with the regional brand Duke’s being mentioned often, though Hellman’s works, too.

Honestly, I quite enjoyed the sandwich I made with Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise, though that will seem sacrilegious to some.

Regardless of which recipe you try, the tomato sandwich should be unreasonably messy, necessitating a nearby stack of napkins for backup. That part of the sandwich crosses all borders.

Pan de tomate is a simple way to savor the flavor.

Pan de tomate is a simple way to savor the flavor.

BRUSCHETTA

Makes 2 servings

1 large tomato

Salt and pepper

2 slices rustic bread, sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 clove garlic, peeled, sliced in half

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

10 fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped

Chop the tomato, discarding the core, and transfer to a bowl. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well; set aside for 10 minutes.

Heat a broiler to high. Place bread slices on a baking sheet; transfer to the top rack of the oven underneath the broiler. Cook until bread is well toasted on top, about 2 minutes. Flip and toast bread on the other side, about 2 minutes. Remove and immediately rub one side of both slices with cut side of the garlic.

Spoon the chopped tomatoes over the garlic-rubbed side of both slices of bread. Drizzle each with olive oil; garnish with fresh basil.

PAN DE TOMATE

Makes 2 servings

2 slices of rustic bread, sliced 1-inch thick

1 clove garlic, peeled, sliced in half

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 large tomato, cut in half

Salt and pepper

Heat a broiler to high. Place bread on a baking sheet; transfer to the top rack of the oven underneath the broiler. Cook until bread is well toasted on top, about 2 minutes. Flip and toast bread on the other side, about 2 minutes. Remove and immediately rub one side of both slices with cut side of the garlic.

Drizzle both slices with olive oil. Take a tomato half and firmly rub it on the top of one slice of bread, leaving some of the pulp and seeds behind, but not the skin. Repeat on other slice. Season with salt and pepper.

Tomato and egg smorrebrod

Tomato and egg smorrebrod

TOMATO AND EGG SMORREBROD

Adapted from “Classic Scandinavian Cooking” by Nika Hazelton.

Makes 1 serving

1 slice dense rye bread

1 tablespoon softened butter

1/2 large tomato, core removed, sliced

1 hard-cooked egg, shelled, sliced

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup fresh watercress

Heat a broiler to high. Place bread on a baking sheet; transfer to the top rack of the oven underneath the broiler. Cook until bread is well toasted on top, about 2 minutes. Flip and toast bread on the other side, about 2 minutes. Spread one side with butter.

Place slices of tomatoes on half of the bread. Place egg slices on the other. (You can also build egg and tomato slices one on top of the other.) Season with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Top with watercress.

SOUTHERN TOMATO SANDWICH

Makes 1 serving

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 slices white bread

1 large tomato, core removed, sliced thickly

Salt and pepper

Spread the mayonnaise on one side of both slices of bread. With one slice facing mayonnaise-side up, add a tomato slice and season with salt and pepper. Continue adding tomato slices and seasoning them until the whole tomato has been used. Top with slice of bread facing mayonnaise-side down. Slice sandwich down the middle and serve.

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Pasta salad goes everywhere without losing any appeal http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/14/pasta-salad-goes-everywhere-without-losing-any-appeal/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/14/pasta-salad-goes-everywhere-without-losing-any-appeal/#comments Wed, 14 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1057224 I am on the road for work fairly often, and although my teenage daughter and husband can surely fend for themselves while I am away, it puts me at ease knowing I have left them with a couple of prepared dishes in the refrigerator.

This pasta salad is one I make again and again at my daughter’s request, whether I am heading out of town or not. She typically digs into it when she gets home from school, famished after volleyball practice, but I have dubbed it the Lunch Box Pasta Salad because of the way it holds up in a cooler pack, making it an ideal midday meal for toting to work or school.

I use whole-grain pasta (specifically fusilli, because its corkscrew shape ensnares all the flavorful salad ingredients), but you could use any short shape: farfalle or penne, for example.

The salad is chock-full of chopped, colorful vegetables – bell peppers, broccoli and tomatoes – along with diced, fresh mozzarella cheese.

The dressing is a classic combination of extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, basil, oregano, salt, pepper and a touch of garlic.

But what makes this salad most unique and serviceable is what it doesn’t have. There is nothing in it that becomes soggy or unappealing after several days in the refrigerator or hours in a lunchbox.

Instead of dicing a large tomato, which quickly becomes mealy mush with refrigeration, I use grape tomatoes, which are firm enough to hold up beautifully.

The bell peppers and broccoli retain their crispness, and I use dried herbs to avoid unappealing, oxidized, wilted leaves.

It’s a salad that I am confident will make it into regular rotation in your home, as it has in mine.

LUNCH BOX PASTA SALAD

This colorful pasta salad, full of vegetables and fresh mozzarella cheese in an herb-garlic vinaigrette dressing, earns its name for being an ideal meal to tote to work or school.

Makes 4 servings

8 ounces whole-grain fusilli pasta

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 small clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced

1/2 pint grape tomatoes, quartered

1 cup cooked, chilled, coarsely chopped broccoli

6 ounces fresh, part-skim mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-to-1/2-inch dice

Cook the pasta al dente according to directions on the package. Drain, then transfer it to a large bowl, toss with 1 teaspoon of the oil and allow it to cool completely.

Whisk together in a small bowl the remaining 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of olive oil, the vinegar, oregano, basil, garlic, salt and black pepper to form a dressing.

Add the bell pepper, tomatoes, broccoli, mozzarella and dressing to the pasta, and toss to combine.

Krieger blogs and offers a weekly newsletter at elliekrieger.com

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Bread and Butter: Joys and sorrows of the staff revolving door http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/14/bread-and-butter-joys-and-sorrows-of-the-staff-revolving-door/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/14/bread-and-butter-joys-and-sorrows-of-the-staff-revolving-door/#comments Wed, 14 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1057251 EDITOR’S NOTE: Mike Wiley, chef and co-owner of Eventide Oyster Co., Hugo’s and The Honey Paw, all on Middle Street in Portland, is the second chef to contribute to our occasional chef-written series, Bread and Butter. This is the first of his three columns.

I’m not going to whine about how hard it is to hire good cooks, because enough ink has been spilled on the subject already. Cooking is hard work, it eats up a lot of time, and it isn’t for everyone. But as part owner of three restaurants in Portland – Hugo’s, Eventide Oyster Co. and The Honey Paw – I can say with authority that staffing sure is hard.

A lot of cooks have quit our restaurants over the years. We’ve fired a few people for dangerous, insane or illegal behavior, but for the most part, cooks leave of their own volition. We’ve had people leave our kitchens and change careers entirely; frequently these folks need more time with their families and a more “normal” work schedule. Or they finally succumbed to the siren’s call of insurance adjusting, I’m not sure which.

Occasionally, cooks quit because they don’t like the job. Earlier this summer, in an unforgivable display of cowardice, a cook walked out the door without giving any notice on a very busy Saturday afternoon – he melted a plastic container by accident, and was embarrassed. You should hear the Hugo’s cooks talk when his name comes up.

On the other end of the spectrum, fantastic cooks like Dane Newman, who had worked for us for almost three years, move to Seattle for their partner’s career, no matter how much begging I did – or how much I slandered the Emerald City.

In some cases, the best thing to do is to shoo people out the door. Since in this industry, cooks aren’t in it for the money, learning is part of the salary. If we come to a point where we don’t have much left to teach cooks, it seems like the right thing to encourage them to find a new job where they can grow and learn.

However it happens, it’s always painful to lose a staff member with whom you’ve shared a lot personally and professionally. I can’t imagine that rehashing “Game of Thrones” around the water cooler in an office setting forges the same kind of deep bond that challenging prep days and busy services at restaurants can.

In fact, people in restaurants become so close, so dependent on each other that many chefs behave like disowned parents when valuable cooks leave.

But such behavior is childish and short-sighted. We’ve been lucky enough to rehire cooks regularly. We’ve hired Teen Wolf (Ian Driscoll, who started at Hugo’s and needed a haircut, hence the nickname) something like three times, maybe because we got a him a gift certificate to Eleven Madison Park (one of New York City’s best restaurants) when he left the first time. Or maybe because we treated him like a human being.

I’m interested to see if Nick Nappi ever comes back. We presented him with a gilded Gray Kunz spoon. If that’s not a symbolic parting gift, I don’t know what is. (Gray Kunz, for those of you not in my world, ran the four-star Lespinasse in New York for many years. And he designed a special spoon for chefs to taste, portion and sauce.)

We’ve been lucky enough to have cooks work in the building while they are working toward opening their own restaurants, such talents as Anders Tallberg (eventually, he opened Roustabout) and Chris Gould (Central Provisions). Right now, Brant Dadaleares is helping us out in the pastry department (and pulling the occasional shucking shift at Eventide) as he works toward opening his dessert bar.

It is a privilege to have such dedicated professionals staff our restaurants. We provide them a source of income and a place where they can keep their knives and skills sharp before their own spots open, and they set a high standard of professionalism in our kitchen. I’m not so deluded as to think that they’re working for us to pick up new recipes from the likes of me. But I am thrilled that they serve our kitchens’ culture by inspiring and teaching greener cooks.

It’s funny, people want to believe that all restaurants have one artistic genius, the brilliant chef, from whose noggin springs – like Athena from Zeus – inspired and delicious dishes. This is not the case. At least not for us.

When I try to be frank with our guests about where the ideas and food come from, I get the sense they think my explanations are false modesty. That’s not it at all: A lot of really talented and hardworking people work in our restaurants, and everything is a collaboration.

BEN GROPPE’S BEEF SCHWARMA

This dish is a real crowd-pleaser. You can bake it as a big log or pack it into the same kind of pan you might use for meat loaf, or you could make it into little meatballs.

Serve this with pitas, a red onion and tomato salad, grated cucumbers in a yogurt dressing, some leaf lettuce, and maybe a little hot sauce on the side.

2 pounds ground beef (90 percent lean)

1 tablespoon Diamond Kosher Salt

1 onion, minced

5 garlic cloves, minced

5 parsley sprigs, minced

1 mint sprig, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper (sweet paprika is a reasonable substitute)

1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Combine salt and dry spices with the ground beef.

Allow to cure in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

After curing period, transfer mixture to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Paddle on low for 5 minutes.

While the mixer is running, add garlic, onion, parsley and mint.

Choose your shape – logs, meatloaf or meatballs.

Arrange schwarma mixture on a baking sheet, and bake until golden brown and delicious. Internal temperature should be 155 degrees F.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Arrange your delicious Grecian buffet, and slice schwarma as you like it.

While you bask in the adulation of your friends and loved ones, look skyward and whisper, “Thank you, Chef Ben Groppe.”

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In ‘Cooking with Loula, Greek Recipes from My Family to Yours,’ the recipes satisfy http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/07/in-cooking-with-loula-greek-recipes-from-my-family-to-yours-the-recipes-satisfy/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/07/in-cooking-with-loula-greek-recipes-from-my-family-to-yours-the-recipes-satisfy/#comments Wed, 07 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1046715 “Cooking with Loula, Greek Recipes from My Family to Yours.” By Alexandra Stratou. Artisan New York. $29.95.

The first thing that struck me about “Cooking with Loula, Greek Recipes from My Family to Yours,” was its physical appearance: no spine binding and a partial cover. I hadn’t even cracked the cover and I was already intrigued – congrats to the marketing team for making this cookbook stand out in a tsunami of niche cookbooks!

But like a romantic infatuation that fades with time, this cookbook’s charms – from its gorgeous photos to broad range of recipes – slowly morphed into a trying-too-hard-to-impress distraction.

Random essays and free-form poetry were something to get past. Recipes organized by weekdays, Sundays, holidays and traditions made for a fun initial flip-through, but made choosing between side vegetable dishes later a frustration.

And not to dumb it down, but I would have appreciated a pronunciation guide for the many, many Greek dish names, so I could serve them up with aplomb, instead of a paler description: “Here’s some … Greek beef stew.” (Hunkiar Beyendi) “And some … custard pie!” (Galaktoboureko)

Recipes have rambling, poorly written, introductions (“I have found that if I am to be at peace, I must have a multidimensional relationship with food, just as it was in my home, and many other Greek homes, when I was growing up,” the jam tart entry starts. It goes on: “Pasta flora seemed like an appropriate recipe to accompany these thoughts as the lattice design on top that separates the jam into squares reminds me of the way I, and other humans, often sort our life into boxes.”

I dunno about all that. Sometimes a jam tart is just a jam tart.

For sheer over-the-top imagery, the moussaka recipe says: “If moussaka represents Greece only in one’s mental capacity, then we must let go of it as an emblem. Perhaps the deconstructed identity of a modern-day Greek man or woman lies deep in the center of a moussaka.”

But, like these descriptions, I digress.

The recipes themselves satisfy, with easy-to-follow instructions and range from everyday go-to dishes to complex holiday affairs. As a weekend-warrior chef, I appreciated the inclusion of recipes for basic sauces and purees that I can use in multiple dishes but overall, I felt like this cookbook made me work to hard to get to its strengths. Ultimately, the intimate tone of the writing and rambling additions made it seem more of a self-published vanity press product than a professionally edited cookbook.

FASOLADA (WHITE BEAN SOUP)

Serves 4 to 6, Time under 3 hours

One 16-ounce (500 gram) bag dried white beans

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, grated

2 carrots, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 small celery stalk, sliced

Salt and pepper

1 bay leaf

Red chili flakes

Place the beans in a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Coat the bottom of the same pot with a thin layer of oil and place over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent, add the tomato paste and then add the parboiled beans. Stir well to coat the beans in the oil, and add the celery. Cook for 5 minutes, allowing all of the flavors to blend.

Add water to cover the ingredients by about 1 inch, along with a large pinch of salt and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer gently for 1½ to 2 hours. The beans are ready when they are so full of water that they want to burst. Taste and adjust the salt. Add pepper and chili flakes to taste. Remove the bay leaf and the garlic if you see them swimming around still intact.

Serve in a soup bowl, with some leaves of baby lettuce, Taramosalata (cod roe dip,) smoked herring, black olives, feta and fresh bread.

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The Maine Ingredient: Do yourself a flavor and roast tomatoes http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/07/the-maine-ingredient-do-yourself-a-flavor-and-roast-tomatoes/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/07/the-maine-ingredient-do-yourself-a-flavor-and-roast-tomatoes/#comments Wed, 07 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1046733 At last, they’re here in abundance, and in all manner of shapes and sizes and colors. What heaven! Here’s a lovely recipe for gently cooked ripe tomatoes layered with buttered garlic crumbs, as well as instructions for roasting them, which concentrates and deepens their incomparable flavor.

SCALLOPED TOMATOES WITH BUTTERED GARLIC CRUMBS

To make fresh bread crumbs, tear 4 to 5 slices of good-quality white bread into pieces and whir in a food processor.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

4 cups fresh bread crumbs or Panko crumbs

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or marjoram

2 tablespoons snipped chives

1 large garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon salt, plus additional for sprinkling

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional for sprinkling

5 tablespoons melted butter

6 large ripe tomatoes, cored and sliced about ½-inch thick

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, oregano, chives, garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle butter over crumb mixture and toss to combine thoroughly. Spread about half the mixture out in a shallow 2-quart baking dish, such as a 9-by-11-inch dish, and press down firmly to make an even “crust.” Bake in the preheated oven until golden, about 10 minutes. (Crust can be baked a couple hours ahead and held, loosely covered, at cool room temperature.)

Arrange a layer of sliced tomatoes over the crust, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Repeat until all tomatoes are used, finishing with a top layer of crumbs.

Return the casserole to the oven and bake, uncovered, until the tomatoes just begin to soften, their juices have started to run and the crumbs are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

OVEN-ROASTED TOMATOES

Some recipes call for several hours in a slow oven, but I find that an hour or so at 350 degrees F does the job perfectly. You can use any type or color tomato, but plum tomatoes are the meatiest and produce the most substantial result.

Makes about ¾ cup

6 to 12 plum tomatoes (or other types), about 1½ pounds

Salt

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Core tomatoes and cut lengthwise in quarters if small, and in eighths if large. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet and arrange tomatoes cut sides up in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and dribble with a small amount of oil.

Roast in the preheated oven, without turning, until the tomatoes soften, give up their juice, and are caramelized on the bottom, 1 to 1½ hours, depending on size. Grind black pepper over.

Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze.

Here are some serving suggestions for your Oven-Roasted Tomatoes:

 Spread French bread croutes with goat cheese, add a small smear of pesto, and top with a tomato for an hors d’oeuvre.

 Fold roasted tomatoes in half and skewer on toothpicks with small wedges of mozzarella and a basil leaf.

 Layer country bread with thinly sliced sharp cheddar cheese and top with a thin slice of red onion and roasted tomatoes for lunch.

 To boost flavor of almost any other sandwich, (turkey, cucumber, avocado, roast beef, chicken, etc.), add a layer of roasted tomatoes.

 Soften garlic in a small amount of olive oil; add heavy cream and simmer until reduced by one-third. Coarsely chop roasted tomatoes and add to the cream with a handful of torn basil. Toss with hot pasta and pass grated pecorino cheese.

 Sauté zucchini, a sliced sweet pepper and sliced onion in olive oil until caramelized. Add coarsely chopped roasted tomatoes to heat through. Sprinkle with crumbled feta and serve with crusty country bread.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

facebook.com/brookedojny

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Grilled greens – and reds – gain silky texture and deeper flavor http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/07/grilled-greens-and-reds-gain-silky-texture-and-deeper-flavor/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/07/grilled-greens-and-reds-gain-silky-texture-and-deeper-flavor/#comments Wed, 07 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1046739 I have been playing around lately with grilling wedges of greens, with delicious results. When they meet the grill, varieties such as romaine lettuce, napa cabbage and endive retain their crisp, quenching essence, yet they yield to the heat just enough to gain a softer, more luxurious texture, more savory flavor and an appealing, smoky char.

Radicchio, although red, certainly qualifies as a grill-friendly “green,” and both its royal color and pleasantly bitter flavor deepen beautifully during grilling.

Prep is minimal, and the technique applies across the board: Just quarter the head lengthwise, so each piece retains a bit of the core to hold it together on the grill. Then brush with oil, sprinkle with salt and grill for two to three minutes per side.

You can serve it just like that or with your favorite salad dressing, as a first course or alongside whatever protein you might be firing up.

In the accompanying dish, I paired grilled radicchio with fresh, sweet cherries to counterbalance the vegetable’s bitterness and match its dramatic, dark red hue.

The fruit is the base of a vinaigrette made in the blender with balsamic vinegar (for additional sweetness and dark color), a little chopped shallot and extra-virgin olive oil.

To get the most vivid effect, the dressing is poured onto serving plates or drizzled onto a platter, then topped with the char-grilled radicchio wedges, scattered with fresh cherries and showered with chopped chives.

It is a salad that is as tasty and healthful as it is out of the ordinary.

GRILLED RADICCHIO WITH CHERRY-BALSAMIC DRESSING

The dressing can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Makes 4 servings

20 sweet red cherries, pitted, each cut in half

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot

1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 medium heads radicchio (about 6 ounces each)

2 teaspoons finely chopped or cut chives

Combine 12 of the cherries (24 halves), 3 tablespoons of the oil, the balsamic vinegar, shallot, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and the 1/8 teaspoon of pepper in a blender; puree until smooth. (Some flecks of cherry skin will be visible.) Transfer the dressing to a container or serving bowl.

Remove and discard any wilted or tough outer leaves from the heads of radicchio, then cut each head lengthwise into quarters, so each quarter retains a piece of the core to keep it together. Brush the radicchio lightly on all sides with the remaining tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of salt.

Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the radicchio wedges until softened and lightly charred, about 2 minutes on each of the three sides.

Meanwhile, cut the remaining cherry halves into quarters.

To serve, spoon about 2 tablespoons of the dressing onto individual salad plates, or drizzle or spread it on a platter. Top each salad plate with two wedges of the grilled radicchio, or arrange them all on the platter. Scatter the quartered cherries on each plate or on the platter, then garnish with the chives.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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What saved the 1970s from a purely polyester legacy? Culinary breakthroughs http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/07/what-saved-the-1970s-from-a-purely-polyester-legacy-culinary-breakthroughs/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/07/what-saved-the-1970s-from-a-purely-polyester-legacy-culinary-breakthroughs/#comments Wed, 07 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1046745 The ’70s were the decadelong equivalent of March. It came in like a lion and went out with a mirrored disco ball.

In between was a national malaise and a long, national nightmare. It was the best time for movies and the worst time for fashion. And we were more concerned about the price of oil than the fact that, for two full years, we had both a president and a vice president who had not been elected to their positions.

We got out of Vietnam, but we got into polyester.

In the culinary world, though, things were not that bad. In the ’70s, people began to think more seriously about eating for their health; the health-food fad began in earnest and has yet to fade away. Yogurt became popular, and so did granola.

Two culinary events in the ’70s changed forever the way we look at food.

The iconic restaurant Chez Panisse opened in Berkeley, California, in 1971, eliminating the stuffiness previously associated with fine dining and igniting a revolution of cooking with the best possible, local ingredients.

The other cuisine-altering event was the 1977 publication of “Moosewood Cookbook.” One of the best-selling American cookbooks of all time, “Moosewood Cookbook” moved vegetarian food from something of a punchline into a viable and even popular way to cook (though “Moosewood” author Mollie Katzen, who originally self-published “Moosewood” in 1974, gives more credit to Anna Thomas, who came out with “The Vegetarian Epicure” in 1972).

So for my culinary sojourn through the 1970s, I turned to my favorite recipe in “Moosewood Cookbook,” Hungarian Mushroom Soup. I had remembered liking it, but I did not recall just how staggeringly rich and filling it was.

As the book’s recipes often did, this one calls for tamari or soy sauce to create an earthy, umami flavor to make up for a lack of meat. A shot of lemon juice, too, brightens the taste.

The soup has the expected mushrooms, onion, stock and milk, plus a hefty dose of paprika and dill for that authentic Hungarian piquancy. It also has lots of butter and sour cream – health food may have come into its own in the ’70s, but plenty was still being served that wasn’t healthy.

Like Quiche Lorraine. Quiche Lorraine was everywhere in the ’70s; any luncheon was bound to have it. And why not? With a filling made from eggs, cream and shredded cheese, it is basically a custard set inside a tart shell – with bacon.

Sales dipped dramatically after the 1982 publication of the book “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche,” but maybe it is time to bring them back up again. It’s hard to get any better than cheesy custard, crust and bacon.

Every bit as ubiquitous as Quiche Lorraine in the ’70s was, perhaps surprisingly, guacamole. Although it had been available in certain places for decades, when the country as a whole discovered it in the ’70s it suddenly became a part of every summertime gathering.

Because everyone makes pretty much the same guacamole as everyone else (some use garlic powder and onion powder, some don’t), I decided to go back to the basics with mine.

I made it without lime juice. That may not be the 1970s way to do it, but apparently it is the authentically Mexican way.

And I have to say I loved it, even though I am also a huge fan of limes. With just five ingredients (avocados, serrano chiles, cilantro, chopped onion and salt), this limeless version really lets the avocado flavor shine through. With guacamole, the avocado should always be the star.

The ’70s simply would not have been the ’70s without crepes. Crepe restaurants sprang up all around the country, most notably the Magic Pan, a chain that was owned by Quaker Oats throughout the decade.

The great thing about crepes is you can use them for practically everything. Their popularity soared when people realized they could be used to make a fancy presentation of leftovers, but they are also great with vegetables, chicken or seafood – try any of these with a simple white sauce. Just add a little sugar to the batter for dessert, and fill them with ice cream, whipped cream, or jam.

Or just eat them fresh off the pan, as I did. Well, some of them.

Finally, I made a big pot of pasta primavera, which, I was surprised to learn, was invented in the 1970s, in New York City. Its actual origin is a matter of some debate, but it is universally agreed that it came to prominence in 1976 with the opening of the famed Le Cirque restaurant in New York.

A 1977 recipe from Le Cirque in the New York Times sealed its popularity. It became the dish of the moment, the dish of the hour, the dish of the decade.

I made the version as originally printed in the Times, and it was so much better than any other version I’ve had that it was like eating a different dish. This one has the cascade of vegetables that you would expect (broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, peas and pea pods – I used sugar snap peas) plus some ingredients that you might not.

Butter, for one, and heavy cream. Plus, Parmesan cheese, lots of olive oil and toasted pine nuts.

All this time, I have thought of pasta primavera as a healthy meal, but no. It may not be good for you, but it tastes amazing.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup, from "Moosewood Cookbook."

Hungarian Mushroom Soup, from “Moosewood Cookbook.”

HUNGARIAN MUSHROOM SOUP

Yield: 4 servings

4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, divided

2 cups chopped onion

12 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 teaspoon salt

1 to 2 teaspoons dried dill

2 cups stock or water, divided

1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce

1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup chopped parsley

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet. Add onions, and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, salt, dill, ½ cup of the stock or water, tamari and paprika. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, for a few minutes. Add the milk and cook, stirring frequently, over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until thick.

Stir the mushroom mixture and remaining 1½ cups stock or water into the milk mixture. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Just before serving, add salt and pepper to taste, lemon juice, sour cream and, if desired, extra dill. Serve hot, topped with freshly minced parsley.

Quiche Lorraine always satisfies.

Quiche Lorraine always satisfies.

QUICHE LORRAINE

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1¾ cups all-purpose flour

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more

3 eggs, divided

¾ cup grated Gruyère cheese

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup milk

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Black pepper, to taste

3 slices bacon, finely chopped

Chopped chives, to garnish

Place flour, butter and salt in a bowl; using your fingers, rub together until pea-size crumbles form. Add 1 of the eggs and 1 tablespoon ice-cold water; stir until dough forms. Briefly knead until smooth; form into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Whisk together remaining 2 eggs, cheese, cream, milk, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Cook bacon in a small skillet over medium heat to render its fat, about 12 minutes; drain on paper towels until cool. Add to egg mixture. Set filling aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll dough into a 13-inch circle; transfer to an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing into bottom and sides. Trim excess dough; chill for 30 minutes. Prick bottom with a fork; cover with parchment paper, fill with dried beans or pie weights, and bake until set, about 20 minutes.

Remove paper and beans; bake until light brown, about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees; pour filling into crust. Bake until just set, about 20 minutes; garnish with chives.

– Adapted from Saveur

Hold-The-Lime Guacamole is a soothing, salty treat.

Hold-The-Lime Guacamole is a soothing, salty treat.

HOLD-THE-LIME GUACAMOLE

Yield: About 2 cups

1 or 2 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, finely chopped

¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped

¼ cup white onion, finely chopped

2 large ripe Hass avocados

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Combine chiles, cilantro and onion in a large bowl. Just before serving, halve and seed avocados, scoop out pulp and mash pulp into chile mixture with a fork until just combined. Season with salt and serve immediately.

– From “Epicurious,” by Nils Bernstein

CREPES

Yield: 8 servings (16 crepes)

1 cup cold water

1 cup cold milk

4 large eggs

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons butter, melted

Cooking oil or more butter

Whirl water, milk, eggs, salt, flour and melted butter in a blender at high speed for about 1 minute. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Set a small nonstick or cast-iron skillet over moderately high heat and brush lightly with oil or butter. Just when it begins to smoke, immediately remove from heat. Hold the pan with one hand and pour a scant ¼ cup of batter into the middle of the pan with your other. Quickly tilt pan in all directions to run batter all over bottom of pan in a thin film, pouring back any batter that does not adhere to the pan.

Immediately set pan over heat and cook for about 1 minute. The crepe is ready for turning when you can shake and jerk it loose from bottom of pan; lift an edge to see that it is a nice brown underneath. Turn the crepe and cook for about 30 seconds on the other side. Slide the crepe onto a plate and continue with the rest of the batter, greasing the pan lightly each time it seems necessary.

If you make the crepes in advance, it is best to stack them between layers of waxed paper or foil to prevent them from sticking together.

Roll crepes around a filling of creamed fish, meat, vegetables or leftovers. If desired, cover with a white sauce, sprinkle with cheese and brown in the oven before serving.

– From “The French Chef Cookbook,” by Julia Child

Le Cirque's Spaghetti Primavera

Le Cirque’s Spaghetti Primavera

LE CIRQUE’S SPAGHETTI PRIMAVERA

Yield: 4 servings (or 6 to 8 appetizers)

1 bunch broccoli

2 small zucchini, unpeeled

4 asparagus spears

1½ cups green beans

½ cup fresh or frozen peas

¾ cup fresh or frozen pea pods

1 tablespoon peanut, vegetable or corn oil

2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon minced hot red or green chili, or 1/2 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes

¼ cup finely chopped parsley

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon minced garlic, divided

3 cups tomato cubes, cut into 1-inch dice

6 basil leaves, chopped

1 pound spaghetti

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons chicken broth

½ cup heavy cream, or more

½ cup grated Parmesan

⅓ cup toasted pine nuts

Trim broccoli and break into florets. Trim off ends of the zucchini. Cut into quarters, then cut into 1-inch or slightly longer lengths (about 1½ cups). Cut each asparagus into 2-inch pieces. Trim beans and cut into 1-inch pieces.

Cook each of the green vegetables separately in boiling salted water to cover until crisp but tender. Drain well, then run under cold water to chill, and drain again thoroughly. Combine the cooked vegetables in a bowl.

Cook the peas and pods; about 1 minute if fresh; 30 seconds if frozen. Drain, chill with cold water and drain again. Combine with the vegetables.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat the peanut oil and add the mushrooms. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Cook about 2 minutes, shaking the skillet and stirring. Add the mushrooms, chili and parsley to the vegetables.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a saucepan and add ½ teaspoon of the garlic, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook about 4 minutes. Add the basil.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet and add the remaining ½ teaspoon of garlic and the vegetable mixture. Cook, stirring gently, until heated through.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until almost (but not quite) tender, retaining a slight resilience in the center. Drain well.

In a pot large enough to hold the spaghetti and vegetables, add the butter and melt over medium-low heat. Then add the chicken broth and half a cup each of cream and Parmesan, stirring constantly. Cook gently until smooth. Add the spaghetti and toss quickly to blend. Add half the vegetables and pour in the liquid from the tomatoes, tossing over very low heat.

Add the remaining vegetables (but not the tomatoes). If the sauce seems dry, add 3 to 4 tablespoons more cream. Add the pine nuts and give the mixture a final tossing.

Serve equal portions of the spaghetti mixture in soup or spaghetti bowls. Spoon equal amounts of the tomatoes over each serving. Serve immediately.

– From Le Cirque restaurant, published in the New York Times in 1977

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For healthy, forgiving cooking, try a foil pack in the oven http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/07/for-healthy-forgiving-cooking-try-a-foil-pack-in-the-oven/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/07/for-healthy-forgiving-cooking-try-a-foil-pack-in-the-oven/#comments Wed, 07 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1046832 Social media tells me that in part of the country, kids are already back to school. And so we are teetering between the lazy days of summer and the impending promise of crisp, cool air, long sleeves and the desire to fire down the grill and turn on the oven instead.

This is the perfect time to talk about one of my favorite shoulder-season cooking strategies: the foil pack. Place thinly sliced veggies with a little marinade or vinaigrette in a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil and fold shut into a packet, pinching the edges, and this handy little guy will be equally delicious whether cooked on the grill if you have a hot fall day, or in the oven, if you’re already in pumpkin latte weather.

Add some fish or chicken, and you’ll have a full meal, all packaged and pretty in individual servings, a presentation that thrills dinner party guests and kiddos alike. Foil packet cooking is healthy – little fat is needed to accomplish tender, flavorful results.

And packet-cookery is incredibly forgiving – you basically can’t overcook a foil packet. A few minutes extra in the oven won’t ruin packet-fish like it would dry out a fillet cooked on the stovetop, grill or even just roasted directly in the oven. As a mom of four, I appreciate that kind of weeknight-meal flexibility.

Try my foil-pack fish tacos to master some of the basics, like layering the ingredients in order of how quickly they cook – the bottom will cook more quickly since it will be touching a direct heat source.

Fish tacos are an excellent summertime favorite to take with us into colder weather. I love using cod because it full of healthy fats which feed your brain, your heart and make you feel full, but it’s available frozen year-round. And these packets do great with frozen fish – no need to thaw before making.

Happy fall indeed.

FOIL-PACK FISH TACOS

Makes 4 servings

Juice of 1 lime, about 2 tablespoons

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

4 fillets of cod (or other fish), frozen, about 4-5 ounces each

1 yellow onion, sliced thinly (about 2 cups)

2 sweet peppers (red, yellow, orange), sliced thinly (about 2 cups total)

SPICY SLAW TOPPING:

2 cups chopped or sliced cabbage

1/4 cup plain Greek lowfat yogurt

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 chopped green onion

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Chopped tomatoes, for garnish (optional)

Salt and pepper

8 corn tortillas, for serving

Cubed avocado, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, mix together the lime juice, olive oil, chili powder, cumin and granulated garlic.

Cut four 12-inch by 12-inch pieces of heavy-duty foil. Dip the fish into the marinade and set aside.

Toss the onion and peppers in the marinade to coat, and divide among the foil squares. Place the fish on top of the onions and peppers.

Toss the tomatoes into the marinade and then place on top of the fish, along with any remaining marinade. Close the foil up into packets, crimping the edges together.

Place on a baking sheet and bake until fish is cooked through and vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Subtract 10 minutes if you use fresh fish.

Meanwhile, mix together all the ingredients for the spicy slaw topping.

Serve one foil packet per person, along with corn tortillas, slaw for topping and avocado if desired.

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‘America’s Best Breakfasts’ uses day’s first meal to take readers on tour of the country http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/31/cookbook-review-americas-best-breakfasts-favorite-local-recipes-from-coast-to-coast-uses-the-first-meal-of-the-day-to-take-readers-on-a-tour-of-the-country/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/31/cookbook-review-americas-best-breakfasts-favorite-local-recipes-from-coast-to-coast-uses-the-first-meal-of-the-day-to-take-readers-on-a-tour-of-the-country/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1036866 “America’s Best Breakfasts: Favorite Local Recipes from Coast to Coast.” By Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman. Clarkson Potter. $23.

There’s little better than indulging in a top-notch breakfast from a favorite diner – except maybe indulging in that same breakfast in the comfort of your own home, while wearing fuzzy slippers and plaid PJs.

“America’s Best Breakfasts: Favorite Local Recipes from Coast to Coast” gives you that opportunity. In this attractive soft-cover book, writers Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman break the country into four geographic regions: The West Coast and Pacific Northwest; Northeast and Mid-Atlantic; Midwest; and the South. They also include two bonus sections at the back: one with several pages of Bloody Mary photographs from the writers’ travels to breakfast spots, the other on How to Get Perfect Eggs Every Time. Although the Northeast section doesn’t include any Maine eateries, the first recipe in the West Coast section is for Lobster Scrambled Eggs. Definitely something I can fall in food-love with.

The cookbook has an abundance of delicious-sounding and wide-ranging recipes – from malawach (Yemenite fried bread) and pozole to graham cracker waffles with marshmallows and Nutella and Creole file gumbo. As a group, the recipes reflect the breadth of 21st century America. But my favorite part may have been reading the brief overviews included with each recipe. These describe, in text and photographs, the towns and cities where the diners, bakeries, coffee shops and food trucks are located, as well as the restaurants themselves.

The recipe I tested, for instance, originated in a Florida restaurant, and the description with it almost gave me the feeling of being in Miami, while I preheated my oven in Maine. That recipe, for Morning Glory Muffins, was described as a local favorite at Panther Coffee shop, where baker Cindy Kruse provides the baked goods. The description in “America’s Best Breakfasts” sold me: “Cindy Kruse hand delivers her scrumptious pastries; get there early or these morning muffins will most definitely be sold out.”

Muffins are typically a hit-or- miss breakfast item in my kitchen. I’ve often found they are too dry or I mess up an easy blueberry muffin recipe by adding too many berries. But I was confident after reading the first few lines of the ingredients list that the end result would be moist. And it was. The recipe gave me plenty of guidance, so despite my uneven track record, these muffins turned out really well.

The recipe also gave instructions on how to wrap the muffins individually and freeze them for up to three months, a helpful tip that I appreciated because leftovers – especially leftover muffins – are a favorite in my family of two.

MORNING GLORY MUFFINS

This recipe is from “America’s Best Breakfast: Favorite Local Recipes from Coast to Coast.” The instructions call for making the muffins in larger than typical muffin tins, yielding 12 large muffins; I used the standard size tin and made 24.

2 cups grated carrots
1 apple, peeled and grated
1 (14-ounce) can crushed pineapple, squeezed of excess liquid (1 cup drained)
½ cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup golden raisins
3 large eggs
1½ cups sugar
1½ cups vegetable oil
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the carrots, apple, pineapple, coconut, walnuts and raisins. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the sugar until smooth. Whisk in the oil and vanilla.

In a third, large bowl, stir the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt until well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Add the carrot-apple mixture to the batter and fold with a spatula until just combined. Divide the batter among the muffin liners and bake until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 minutes.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/31/cookbook-review-americas-best-breakfasts-favorite-local-recipes-from-coast-to-coast-uses-the-first-meal-of-the-day-to-take-readers-on-a-tour-of-the-country/feed/ 0 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/1036866_651672-muffins.jpgTue, 30 Aug 2016 22:56:08 +0000
Pros share their secrets for mouth-watering veggie burgers http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/31/vegan-kitchen-pros-share-their-secrets-for-mouth-watering-veggie-burgers/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/31/vegan-kitchen-pros-share-their-secrets-for-mouth-watering-veggie-burgers/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1037097 With Labor Day weekend almost here, so too are the waning days of backyard cookouts. There is no time to waste. Let’s brush up on our homemade veggie burger skills so we can close the grilling season with our best vegan patties yet.

Veggie burgers are having their moment. Seemingly everyone from high-profile chefs, such as Jean-Georges Vongerichten andDavid Chang, to fast food restaurants, such as Wendy’s and White Castle, have added them to their menus.

Last year, GQ magazine bestowed its 2015 Best Burger of the Year title on the veggie burgers from Superiority Burger in New York’s East Village, and Grub Street recently penned a report headlined “Why Veggie Burgers Are Poised to Be the Country’s Most Exciting New Burgers.”

To help regular home cooks compete with trendy Manhattan restaurants and celebrity chefs, I reached out to a few veggie burger experts. The keys to a memorable plant-based burger, they said, are choosing the right ingredients, combining them to maximize texture, and preparing the burgers properly. Which, come to think of it, are the keys to pretty much all cooking.

START WITH THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS

Toni Fiore, who lives in Cumberland and hosts the PBS cooking shows “Vegan Mashup” and “Totally Vegetarian,” makes veggie burgers at least once a week. “It’s endless how many varieties of veggie burgers you can do,” Fiore told me.

Her cookbook, “Totally Vegetarian: Easy, Fast, Comforting Cooking for Every Kind of Vegetarian,” offers three vegan burger recipes, including a beet burger that came from vegetarian cookbook author Didi Emmons. “She had one of the first beet burger recipes,” Fiore said. “We didn’t realize back then how important it would be.”

Since then, beets have become a familiar veggie burger ingredient. Beyond Meat uses beets in the pre-made veggie burger it has recently begun selling in the meat department at Whole Foods Market. The burger is marketed to non-vegetarians as a veggie patty that “bleeds.”

Other commonplace veggie burger ingredients include various grains, beans, mushrooms, nuts, seeds, tomato paste and onions.

Fiore said when she is working from other people’s recipes, she wants to see nuts and grains that will offer “something to chew on. If I don’t see nuts or things that are going to give me a good texture I will modify the recipes and add them myself.”

Miyoko Schinner, who wrote “The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples,” suggested another benefit: “Nuts add richness and the fatty sensation without added oils.”

Fiore also regularly incorporates yesterday’s soups, pastas, rice or vegetables into today’s veggie burgers.

“It’s a good way of using leftover foods,” Fiore said. “And the flavors are so intense. I use leftover soup. I whiz that in a processor and mix in other things.”

Italian Herb Burger adds some spice to the veggie burger scene.

Italian Herb Burger adds some spice to the veggie burger scene.

USE A BINDER

Beans, grains and mushrooms don’t naturally adhere to each other, so vegan burgers need something that can hold them together. Bread crumbs, flour or vital wheat gluten can all serve that purpose.

In “Grilling Vegan Style: 125 Fired-Up Recipes to Turn Every Bite into a Backyard BBQ,” writer John Schlimm variously uses white or whole wheat flour, oats and vegan egg substitute to bind his veggie burgers.

In “The Homemade Vegan Pantry,” Schinner uses vital wheat gluten. She created her recipe for what she calls a Real Burger more than 20 years ago for her former San Francisco restaurant Now and Zen.

“I was really proud of myself when I thought of adding gluten flour to hold it together, since I hadn’t seen that in burgers,” said Schinner, who these days is known for her cultured vegan cheese company Miyoko’s Kitchen. “There weren’t many veggie burgers around back then. Most of them were tofu, bean or grain-based and were often mushy or dry and tended to crumble and fall apart.”

“I wanted a burger that would not only hold together but was juicy and chewy and without added fat,” she added. “So the idea of raw, ground mushrooms came to me. They create the juiciness of the burger, and the gluten flour holds it all together.”

For eaters who are allergic to wheat, she suggests ground flax or chia seeds to bind the patties.

PULSE, DON’T PULVERIZE

In addition to using nuts and grains, both Fiore and Schlimm recommend pulsing veggie burger ingredients in a food processor to achieve the best texture while making the ingredients stickier.

“I always tell people: ‘Don’t use the process button, use the pulse button,'” Fiore said. “If you use the process button, you have hummus or mush.”

COOK THEM CORRECTLY

Both Schlimm and Fiore chill their burger mixtures before cooking, but when it comes time to make them, the three cooks I interviewed each takes a different tack.

Schinner’s Real Burger is baked. Schlimm’s recipes are either broiled or sauteed in a skillet and then finished on the grill. To make her patties crispy on the outside, Fiore dredges them in flour or cornmeal, then cooks them in a skillet. She does so over medium-high heat for a good sear, because as she pointed out, “the longer you cook a veggie burger, it loses moisture and falls apart.”

And as both veggie burgers and veggie burger eaters proliferate, we can all agree that no one wants a veggie burger that crumbles as it cooks.

Avery Yale Kamila is a freelance food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at:

avery.kamila@gmail.com

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

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What to do if the neighbor leaves a bag of zukes on your porch http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/31/what-to-do-if-the-neighbor-leaves-a-bag-of-zukes-on-your-porch/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/31/what-to-do-if-the-neighbor-leaves-a-bag-of-zukes-on-your-porch/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1036860 When a friend gave me a 20-pound box of zucchini, I was in an upper ring of Zucchini Heaven.

First, I dug through my mother’s old Farm Journal canning book and made a double batch of what are basically zucchini bread-and-butter pickles, a little sweet, with the fragrance of celery and mustard seeds.

From another canning book, I followed (loosely) a recipe for zucchini chow chow. Then I had to get really creative.

It turns out zucchini works for every meal of the day. For a Saturday breakfast, we had zucchini pancakes from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything.”

I squeezed out excess liquid before mixing in the other ingredients and let the mixture sit a few minutes before forming the cakes. It was a quick and easy breakfast with a little low-fat yogurt on the side.

At lunch, we put some of those zucchini pickles and relish on our sandwiches. (I also love to grill a couple zucchini cut into quarter-inch slabs, which I can keep in the refrigerator for salads during the week.)

I searched through the kitchen gadgets at TJ Maxx until I found a spiralizer, one of those cutters that turns vegetables into curly strands, for less than 10 bucks. That opened up vast possibilities for dinners besides the standards.

One night, we had a simple zucchini salad, cut in spirals and tossed with fresh lemon juice and a little olive oil.

The crowning dinner event was Zucchini Pad Thai, with spiralized zucchini standing in for the noodles. A quick sauté softened them without making them limp and unappealing. A sauce came together easily with natural peanut butter (which I substituted for the ketchup called for in the recipe), fish sauce and a few other ingredients I always have on hand. I crisp-fried some tofu as a protein and we enjoyed a tasty, nutritious dinner.

And what’s dinner without dessert? I whipped up a zucchini cake, similar to carrot cake: shredded zucchini, spices, chopped nuts. It calls for a cup of oil, but dedicated gleaner that I am, I had some mashed banana in the freezer. (I never let those mushy Costco bananas go to waste!) I substituted a 1/2 cup of mashed banana for half of the oil. It made a rich, tender cake that lasted well.

This weekend, you can sneak those zucchini onto your neighbor’s porch if you’d like. But if you keep them for yourself, there’s plenty you can do with them.

SLICED ZUCCHINI PICKLES

Makes 6 to 7 pints

4 quarts sliced, unpeeled zucchini

1 quart onions, sliced

1 quart distilled white vinegar

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup salt

2 teaspoons celery seed

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 teaspoon ground mustard

Place zucchini and onions in a large, heatproof bowl. Combine vinegar, sugar, salt and spices in a large pot or Dutch oven.

Bring to a boil; pour over zucchini and onions and let stand 1 hour.

Fill a deep pot with a rack with water and bring to a boil. Wash 6 to 7 pint canning jars well and fill with hot water. Wash rings and new canning lids.

Return the zucchini and onion mixture to the pot, bring to a boil again and cook for 3 minutes.

Pour the hot water out of the jars and divide the zucchini and onion mixture among the hot jars. Immediately top with the lids and rings.

Using tongs, lower the jars into the boiling water bath and process for 5 minutes. Use tongs to remove the jars and place on a dish towel.

Let stand until cool, then check to make sure the lids are sealed.

ZUCCHINI PAD THAI ‘ZOODLES’

Makes 2 servings

About 2 medium zucchini

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 pound firm tofu, sliced

3 large cloves garlic, minced or crushed

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin

3 green onions, sliced

1 large egg

About 2 cups bean sprouts

1/3 cup roasted peanuts

1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

Few lime wedges for serving (optional)

SAUCE:

2 tablespoons rice vinegar or distilled white vinegar

2 tablespoons fish sauce or to taste

3 tablespoons peanut butter

1 teaspoon packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1 small red chile, sliced

1 teaspoon chile garlic sauce, or to taste

Make the sauce: In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, fish sauce, peanut butter, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and chile garlic sauce. Set aside.

Cut the zucchini into noodles or long pasta using a vegetable spiralizer or sharp vegetable peeler.

Heat a large pan on medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add zucchini noodles and cook 2-3 minutes or until tender. (Don’t overcook. The zucchini should be slightly crunchy.)

Let the noodles rest for about 3 minutes to allow as much moisture as possible to release. Remove the noodles from the pan and drain.

In a small skillet, heat about 2 teaspoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the tofu slices and cook about 4 minutes, until it’s brown and releases from the skillet. Turn over and cook on the other side.

Remove to a plate, cut into cubes and let stand.

Wipe out the pan you used for the zucchini, then reheat on medium high heat. Add the remaining olive oil and garlic. Cook the garlic until soft, about 30 seconds.

Add the tofu and cook, turning, until crisp on both sides.

Add the bell peppers and green onions. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes or until tender. Add the egg and stir in with the vegetables until the egg is cooked.

Return the zucchini noodles to the pan, stir in the cooked tofu and add the sauce. Cook about 1 minute, until heated through. Stir in bean sprouts.

Serve topped with roasted peanuts, cilantro and lime wedges.

ZUCCHINI CAKE

CAKE:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon (or use a mix of spices such as allspice and nutmeg)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

3 eggs

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional)

2 cups (from 3 or 4 zucchini) grated zucchini (squeeze out moisture before measuring)

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)

FROSTING:

3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan or a loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

Beat the eggs on high speed with an electric mixer until frothy. Lower the speed and beat in the sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla and lemon zest (if using). Stir in the flour mixture a third at a time. Stir in the zucchini and chopped nuts and/or raisins.

Pour mixture into the prepared pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Frost the cake and serve.

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‘The Cardamom Trail: Chetna Bakes with Flavours of the East,’ may be a struggle in American kitchens http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/cookbook-review-the-cardamom-trail-chetna-bakes-with-flavours-of-the-east-written-for-british-bakers-may-be-a-struggle-in-american-kitchens/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/cookbook-review-the-cardamom-trail-chetna-bakes-with-flavours-of-the-east-written-for-british-bakers-may-be-a-struggle-in-american-kitchens/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1026734 “The Cardamom Trail: Chetna Bakes with Flavours of the East.” By Chetna Makan. Photographs by Nassima Rothacker. Mitchell Beazley. $29.99

Never have I felt the truth of George Bernard Shaw’s witticism that England and America are “two countries divided by a common language” so forcefully as I did when baking from Chetna Makan’s new cookbook, “The Cardamom Trail: Chetna Bakes with Flavours of the East.”

Weighing ingredients was not the problem – I own a digital kitchen scale that records both ounces and grams so I can navigate amounts outside of the American cup system. I could also work out relatively quickly that their “plain flour” is our “all-purpose flour,” that “bicarbonate of soda” is “baking soda” and “double cream” is “heavy cream.”

A few minutes of internet sleuthing taught me that I could substitute granulated sugar for caster sugar (though some disagreement exists about whether or not it needs to be whizzed in the food processor first to make it finer) and that we Americans have no real substitute for golden caster sugar so I’d have to settle for more granulated sugar. I also knew “digestive biscuits” as one of those charmingly English unembellished cookies.

But was “plain dark chocolate” our semi-sweet or unsweetened? Did their “dessicated coconut” contain sugar? Why did so few recipes call for either salt or vanilla extract? And how the heck did the 2-pound loaf tin called for to make Black Sesame and Lime Cake relate to my own American standard 9 x 5-inch pan?

I was already scratching my head in puzzlement and frustration, wondering if I could ever bake the many intriguing pies, cakes and loaves in “The Cardamom Trail” that the stunning photographs had me lusting for, when I flipped the page to Raspberry Biscuits with Coriander Lemon Curd; the utterly alien “freeze-dried raspberry powder” lurking in the ingredients list stopped me cold.

I am an experienced home baker. So despite the language obstacles – the book was put out by a division of the British firm Octopus Publishing Group – I refused to be daunted.

“The Cardamom Trail” is the second of three cookbooks that have crossed my desk recently, all of them on the same theme – infusing Western-style baked goods with exotic spices, in other words pushing the baking envelope beyond cinnamon.

I reviewed “The New Sugar & Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking in June and will review the last in the trio this fall. “The Cardamom Trail” author Chetna Makan, Indian by birth, English by current residency, was a semifinalist in the popular British show “The Great British Bake Off.” This is her first book.

In it, she ranges from savory to sweet, from clearly Western cakes (though with Indian touches) such as Mango, Cardamom and Coconut Cake to clearly Indian foods, such as Spinach Pakoras and Rajma Paratha.

She sprinkles the book with practical information on the exotic spices in her baking arsenal, including tamarind, fenugreek and coriander. When it comes to our ubiquitous cinnamon, she brings an outsider’s perspective: “To the British, cinnamon is the quintessential sweet spice and most people have a jar of ground cinnamon in the cupboard for baking. I did not know of it until I moved to the UK. In India, my mother used whole cinnamon sticks, and only for savoury dishes.”

I tested three recipes from “The Cardamom Trail.” Each had its own translation challenges, yet I was really pleased with all three outcomes. Lychee Cake was moist, tender, floral and surprising. Black Sesame and Lime Cake had an equally lovely tender texture, and the attractive black sesame seeds that flecked the cake also gave it an appealing slight crunch.

Curry Onion Tart – imagine a quiche traveling to India and reinventing itself – was truly delicious with layered complex flavors, make that flavours.

I had specifically selected these three recipes because the language barrier in the directions and ingredients felt lower than with other recipes in “The Cardamom Trail.” Nonetheless, with each one, I had to wing it at times, adding extra cream, guessing at pan sizes, ignoring my misgivings about mixing methods.

I intend to take up Makan’s challenge – “experiment as I do and give your favourite bakes a new edge.”

But until the publisher translates this book to “American,” I would recommend it to only the most confident of American bakers.

LYCHEE CAKE

This recipe comes from “The Cardamom Trail: Chetna Bakes with Flavours of the East.”

I wouldn’t have thought to put together lychees and caramel, but the combination turns out to be delectable.

Depending on the season, you can sometimes find fresh lychees at Veranda Asian Market.

Serves 10-12

400g (14 oz.) canned lychees

200g (7 oz.) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

150g (5 1/2 oz.) caster sugar, plus 4 tablespoons

4 large eggs

150g (5 1/2 oz.) self-raising flour

50g (1 3/4 oz.) ground almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

FOR THE CARAMEL SAUCE:

100g (3 1/2 oz.) caster sugar

2 tablespoons water

40g (1 1/2 oz.) unsalted butter, diced

4 tablespoons double cream

FOR THE DECORATION:

300ml (1/2 pint) double cream

200g (7 oz.) canned lychees (drained weight) or fresh peeled and pitted lychees, halved

Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F), Gas Mark 4. Grease 2 x 20 cm (8in) cake tins and line them with nonstick baking paper.

To make the cake, drain the canned lychees, reserving the syrup, then chop the fruit into small pieces and set aside. Cream the butter and the 150g (51/2 oz) sugar together with an electric whisk or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients and beat for 1 minute until thoroughly combined.

Fold the chopped lychees into the cake batter, then pour the mixture equally into the prepared tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centres of the cakes comes out clean. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the reserved syrup from the lychees and add the remaining 4 tablespoons caster sugar. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the volume of the liquid has reduced by half.

Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

When both the cakes and syrup are cool, brush the syrup over the cakes.

To make the caramel sauce, combine the caster sugar and measured water in a small saucepan and cook for 5-6 minutes until the mixture turns into a golden-brown caramel.

Stir in the butter and cook for another couple of minutes. Now slowly add the cream, stirring continuously.

Cook for a further 3 minutes, then set aside to cool.

To prepare the decoration, whisk the double cream in a bowl until soft peaks form. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the cooled caramel sauce and fold it in.

To assemble, place the cake on a serving plate and spread half the flavoured cream on it. Sit the second cake over the cream and spread the remainder of the flavoured cream on top.

Decorate with the lychees and drizzle with some of the remaining caramel sauce.

This cake will keep, refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Let it sit at room temperature before serving.

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The Maine Ingredient: What’s not to like about chowder and biscuits? http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/the-maine-ingredient-whats-not-to-like-about-chowder-and-biscuits/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/the-maine-ingredient-whats-not-to-like-about-chowder-and-biscuits/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1026743 I hope you’ll forgive me if I run a chowder recipe every so often. Since writing “Chowderland” (Storey Publishing, 2015), my chowder repertoire has expanded, and I make it more often than ever. It’s especially nice to have discovered or developed several summery chowders that showcase vegetables at the height of their season. This squash chowder is a case in point. An especially suitable accompaniment is Crisp Salt and Pepper Biscuits.

LATE SUMMER SQUASH CHOWDER

When your garden or farmers market overfloweth with summer squash – whether it be yellow crookneck or green or yellow zucchini or patty pan – make a pot of this quick, scrumptious chowder. Also included in this brew are late-summer long skinny peppers known as Italian frying or Cubanelle, and thin-skinned new potatoes. A handful of cheese enriches the soup and adds pretty color.

Makes 4 to 5 servings

4 ounces bacon, cut into ½-inch dice (about 1 cup)

2 tablespoons butter, plus more if necessary

1 large onion, sliced

1 red, green, or yellow Italian frying pepper (also called Cubanelle), chopped

2 tablespoons flour

1 (32-ounce) box shelf-stable chicken broth

2 cups half-and-half

1 pound red- or yellow-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, halved, and sliced (about 3 cups)

½ teaspoon salt, plus more if needed

1 pound summer squash (any type) cut into ½- to 3/4-inch slices or chunks (about 3 cups)

1½ tablespoons chopped thyme leaves

1½ tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

Liquid hot pepper sauce

Cook the bacon in a large heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat until crisp and the fat is rendered, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove cooked bits with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels and reserve. You should have about 2 tablespoons of fat in the pot. Pour off any excess; if not enough fat, make up the difference with extra butter.

Add the 2 tablespoons butter and cook the onion over medium heat until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add flour and whisk until thick and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and half-and-half and whisk over high heat until the mixture comes to a simmer. Add the potatoes and salt and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the squash, thyme and tarragon and continue to cook until the potatoes and squash are both very tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the chowder from the heat and stir in the cheese. Return the bacon bits to the chowder and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the chowder sit at cool room temperature for at least an hour or, better yet, refrigerate overnight.

Reheat over low heat and ladle into bowls. Pass the hot sauce at the table.

CRISP SALT AND PEPPER BISCUITS

Not your fluffy mile-high biscuits, these are designed to be less than an inch tall, with a crisp bite akin to a cracker. Black pepper adds a subtle kick and a generous sprinkling of flaky sea salt is a lovely final fillip. There are several types of flaky sea salt, including Maldon salt, produced in England, which has soft flakes and is beloved by chefs for its pure flavor, absence of bitterness, and extreme saltiness.

Makes about 16 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon table salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in chunks

3 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening, cut in chunks

¾ cup cold whole milk, plus about 1 tablespoon for brushing biscuit tops

1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a food processor, combine flour, salt, pepper, baking powder and sugar and pulse to blend. Distribute chunks of butter and shortening over the flour and pulse 8 to 10 times, until most of the shortening is about the size of peas. Slowly pour the ¾ cup of milk through the feed tube, pulsing until the dough begins to clump together. (To make by hand, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and shortening and use your fingers to rub the mixture together until most of the shortening is the size of peas. Add the milk all at once and stir with a fork to make a soft dough.)

Turn out onto a lightly floured board, gather into a ball, and knead 5 to 10 times until smooth. Roll to a scant ½-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch cutter or a floured glass, cut biscuits and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Reroll and cut the scraps once. (Biscuits can be shaped up to 3 hours ahead. Refrigerate, loosely covered.)

Brush tops with the remaining 1 tablespoon milk and sprinkle with the sea salt. Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until pale golden and risen. Serve hot or warm. (Can be made a few hours ahead. If making ahead, under bake slightly and reheat in a 400-degree oven for 5 minutes.)

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks. She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

facebook.com/brookedojny

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With watermelon and basil, peach and prosecco – soup’s on http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/with-watermelon-and-basil-peach-and-prosecco-soups-on/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/with-watermelon-and-basil-peach-and-prosecco-soups-on/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1026749 Hot soup is the quintessential comfort food, but there’s nothing more welcoming than a bowl of chilled soup during scorching summer days.

Cold soups combine a wealth of fresh, seasonal ingredients and flavors in a quick, no-fuss, simple meal.

“Soup is a four-season food that isn’t meant just for the cold days when you want to be cozy but also for the summer when you want something refreshing and easy and don’t want to turn on the stove,” says Julie Peacock, co-author of “The Soup Club Cookbook.” It’s a good genre of food – it’s an easy meal and way of combining lots of flavors in a bowl, she adds.

When we think of chilled soups the first thing that usually comes to mind is the renowned Spanish gazpacho – the uncooked tomato-based soup with raw cucumbers, peppers and onion. Despite the extra chopping involved, Peacock favors the concoction because the end result packs a bold, chunky bite of savory summer flavors.

Trendier variations have expanded the cold soup menu in recent times. There are savory purees including the classic vichyssoise crafted by Chef Louis Diat at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York in the early 20th century. Sassy, textured raw vegetable creations are on the list, while cooked then chilled soups are always a convenient option. And then there are the semi-sweet fruit purees and raw fruit-based soups served as desserts.

Cold soups are supposed to excite your appetite, not satiate your hunger, and therefore are served primarily as starters or accompaniments. Occasionally they can be the main attraction of the meal. “They are also a nice finisher and palate cleanser and can act as a digestif at the end of a meal,” Peacock says.

You can make a plethora of things with chilled soups, yet, to a novice it can still be a surprising sensation when tasting a cold soup, especially given the texture and fresh, uncooked ingredients, says Mikhail Istomin, marketing director at the Uzbek restaurant Kavsar in Pittsburgh’s Mount Washington.

The rule of thumb for cold soups is fresh ingredients, he says. Fresh kefir (liquid) and yogurt also are important when making milk-based broths, he says. Peacock stresses the importance of seasonal and high-quality ingredients when whipping up chilled soups. Moreover, it’s key to use citrus to bring that next level of zing, and be liberal with fresh herbs for that extra brightness. Add plenty of seasoning and don’t forget to factor in the time to chill the soup and allow the flavors to mingle, she says.

When it comes to combinations, there’s a world of possibilities. Peacock opts to combine vegetables and herbs such as cucumber and yogurt, tomato, basil and parsley; avocado, arugula and cilantro; or melon and mint. You can always turn your salad into soup with a mix of lettuces and herbs, thicken the puree with yogurt and top it with a colorful salsa. Combine sweet melons with vegetables and brighten the flavor with splashes of lime or lemon juice. Spike peaches with prosecco and cool mint or drown crimson berries in a pool of red wine. For a vegan approach, try a blend of bread, almonds, garlic, vinegar, water and olive oil.

Countries around the world embrace the cold soup tradition. Ukraine is proud of its sorrel soup, Russia is famous for its beet borsch, while Uzbekistan revels in its okroshka, a traditional mixture of raw vegetables served in a milk-based, tangy cold broth. It can be vegetarian or speckled with chunks of beef for a meaty version. In Pittsburgh, chef Tahmina Umaralieva of Kavsar serves an authentic family recipe of okroshka.

But regardless of country, technique or type of soup, plenty of seasoning is vital as cold soups tend to showcase a dull edge with flavors lessening in the cold, Peacock says. Amp up the taste of soups with a wide array of garnishes; top them with tangy vegetables, hard-cooked eggs, dollops of sour cream and seafood. Sprinkle purees with herbs such as mint, basil or dill, add a dash of citrus and toss in some toasted nuts. For a brave punch, finish the dish with a pinch of red pepper flakes.

You might want to avoid loads of animal fat or butter in cold soups as they tend to envelop your mouth in an unpleasant way.

Don’t be intimidated to make cold soups. “If you can make a margarita you can make a cold soup,” Peacock says. At the very least, get out of your comfort zone and try chilled soups. It will be a challenge, but you will be pleasantly surprised, Istomin adds.

CHILLED WATERMELON-BASIL GAZPACHO

I love watermelon, so having the watery fruit be the star of this soup was right up my alley. Although it’s called a gazpacho, the tomato shines faintly in the background leaving center stage for the watermelon.

Makes 6 servings

1 (5-pound) seedless watermelon, rind removed and flesh chopped (6 cups)

1 medium heirloom tomato, chopped

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 limes

3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a blender or food processor, combine watermelon, tomato and olive oil. Zest one lime and squeeze juice; add zest and juice to the blender and puree until mixture is smooth. Pour soup into a large bowl and stir in the basil, mint, salt and pepper. Chill soup for at least 3 hours before serving.

To serve, pour soup into chilled bowls. Cut remaining lime into wedges and use to garnish the bowls.

Served cold or hot, this Ukrainian Sorrel Soup is a treat.   Dan Cizmas/Tribune News Service

Served cold or hot, this Ukrainian Sorrel Soup is a treat. Dan Cizmas/Tribune News Service

UKRAINIAN SORREL SOUP (SCHAV)

This recipe calls for sorrel, an herb that looks like arugula but has a somewhat sour taste. As I could not find it, I used baby spinach and added a few extra tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. Although it’s called Ukranian Sorrel Soup, this soup is actually very popular in my native Romania, too. It can be served cold but it tastes just as delicious hot.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 pound fresh sorrel leaves, stemmed

1 bunch scallions, white parts and 4 inches of green tops, sliced

6 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock, or purchased stock

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 large egg yolks

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 to 4 diced hard-cooked eggs, for garnish

1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, for garnish

Heat butter in a 4-quart soup pot over medium heat. Add sorrel and scallions and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until the sorrel wilts. Add stock and tarragon and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir sugar and lemon juice into the soup.

Beat egg yolks in a mixing bowl with a whisk until thick and light yellow in color. Slowly beat about 1 cup of the hot soup into the egg yolks so they are gradually warmed up, and then return the egg and soup mixture to the pot. Place pot over medium-low heat, and stir constantly, reaching all parts of the bottom of the pot, until mixture reaches about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. At this point it will begin to steam and thicken slightly. Do not allow mixture to boil or the eggs will scramble. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Refrigerate soup until cold, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight. Adjust seasoning if necessary. To serve, ladle into bowls, topping each serving with diced eggs, sour cream and dill.

Note: The soup can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated, tightly covered. Stir well before serving.

Chilled Minted Peach and Prosecco Soup

Chilled Minted Peach and Prosecco Soup

CHILLED MINTED PEACH AND PROSECCO SOUP

Pleasantly fruity and sweet with a boozy punch of prosecco, this dessert is a palate cleanser. I loved every spoonful.

Makes 4 servings

2 pounds fresh peaches, peeled and pitted

11/2 cups dry prosecco

1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

1/2 cup coconut milk

2 tablespoons agave syrup, plus extra if needed

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus extra if needed

4 sprigs mint

Chop peaches and put them in a 4-quart saucepan with prosecco. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until peaches are breaking down, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in mint and let cool.

In a blender or food processor, puree peaches with milk, agave syrup and lemon juice.

Refrigerate soup up to 4 days. Taste and adjust lemon juice or agave. Serve in bowls with mint sprigs.

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For college-bound kid, Mom’s cooking becomes his own http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/moms-cooking-becomes-his-own/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/moms-cooking-becomes-his-own/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1027055 I spent the last 15 months attempting to teach my college-bound son to cook, and all I got was a lousy tattoo. Let’s be clear. I didn’t get the tattoo. And my son doesn’t think it’s lousy at all. He considers it an artful, expressive rite of passage for himself and a genuine tribute to me.

It’s a tidy, less-than-life-size outline of my favorite 10-inch chef’s knife. On his ribcage. Pointing to his heart. Don’t get me wrong. I get the sentiment. My first-born has permanently inked his devotion to my home cooking on his torso, after all.

But the basic tenet of my calculated cooking curriculum – which started with steaming, shocking and properly storing vegetables for weeklong-use; was supposed to have sailed through making pizza dough as a party starter; and be capped off with a lesson in cookware versatility with cast iron skillet cornbread – was to give Owen the skills and culinary confidence he’ll need to venture into kitchens unknown. The tattoo is a reminder, every time he takes off his shirt, that he’s still somewhat attached to my apron strings.

Cooking classes, like most of the homework Owen completed during his senior year at Brunswick High School, started off strong, fueled by good intentions. For example, in September, he became expert at using the oven to cook a side of skin-on salmon. He now knows he prefers the mild taste and silky texture of sustainably farmed local salmon to the stronger, less fatty but arguably better-for-you-and-the-earth wild variety from Alaska.

He learned the hard way that lining a half-sheet pan with foil covered in a skim coat of oil, before laying the fish cut-side down onto it, makes the job of flipping the fish once the broiler has bubbled up the skin for easy removal much, much easier. And he’s discovered that leftover salmon is a great breakfast item.

But his time in front of the stove was severely curtailed by soccer in October, the college application process in November, a successful basketball season that included tournament play through late February, and jazz band competitions in March.

The delays, going back to the homework analogy, resulted in panicked cramming in the kitchen starting in April, motivated by the prospect of a University of Chicago housing placement that included cooking facilities, the realization that dining halls aren’t open on Saturday nights, and the reality that Owen doesn’t want to use too much of his limited cash flow on food.

Owen's favorite mac-and-cheese goes into the pan. Joel Page/Staff Photographer

Owen’s favorite mac-and-cheese goes into the pan. Joel Page/Staff Photographer

NOT WILD ABOUT SAFFRON

As with many of the push-pull teaching moments I’ve experienced while parenting teenagers, the cooking lessons that did stick were the ones he actually wanted to learn.

He flat out refused to cook eggs because he doesn’t eat them. When we were whisking oil drop by drop into the mustard, vinegar and shallot that would eventually result in a basic French vinaigrette, he was so exhausted by the process that he asked for a stool. And he was less than gracious about making peanut butter buttercream so he could pull off his sister’s birthday cake if I couldn’t at some future point, because of his firm conviction that there is only one true frosting flavor: straight vanilla.

The skills he willingly mastered he did so because he was hungry for tasty food, copious amounts, mostly meat, acquired as cheaply as possible. Yes, I know, that’s the polar opposite of how sustainable food activist and author Michael Pollan says we should be eating for a better planet. Baby steps.

Owen prefers food writer Mark Bittman’s technique for making whole roasted (local) chicken a weeknight staple to full-on butterflying a bird to accomplish the same hour-long cook time. Bittman simply preheats a cast iron pan in a very hot oven, and severs the skin holding the legs and thighs close to the breasts so that when you place the seasoned chicken into the pan, the dark meat settles onto the surface of the hot pan and gets a jumpstart on cooking so that it’s done at the same time as the normally faster-cooking white meat.

Spatchcocking the chicken by removing its backbone so that it lies flat on a sheet pan means that Owen has to touch the raw bird more intimately than he finds comfortable. That said, he’s more than happy for me to butcher a chicken in this fashion as it produces crispier skin on the thighs, a favorite aspect of his favorite part of the bird.

To go with either roast chicken, Owen practiced making his favorite yellow rice. Sometimes from a Goya or Vigo pouch, sometimes from scratch using real saffron.

Certainly the homemade is better overall because you can taste more than just salt, he concluded. “But at this point in my life, it’s going to come down to price. When you tell me that saffron is the most expensive spice out there, I’m not feeling it,” Owen said.

He’s mastered the method for cooking both, because it’s one and the same: combine ingredients, boil, don’t stir, cover, turn off the heat, wait 20 minutes, fluff and serve. But the price differential for one cup, we calculated, was 39 cents for the processed stuff compared to $1.05 for the saffron-laced variety.

While he accepted that math on the rice front, my showing him how to use chicken bones to make stock that could then be used to flavor any rice dish, and pointing out that he was basically using free garbage to make something that would cost him almost $3 a quart in the store, didn’t add up in his eyes. Doesn’t that dried yellow powder in the rice mix have chicken flavor in it too, he asked. Clearly, my work is not done.

STICKING TO HIS RIBEYES

We’re covering tuition, dorm fees and an unlimited meal plan for his freshman year, but Owen’s responsible for buying the books he’ll need for each of the three quarters he’ll take classes running through next June.

So he knows he’s not buying a good steak to cook on his own anytime soon. But he’s also figured out I’m more likely to spring for things like that if there’s a lesson to be learned.

“I think I need to practice my grill marks on a ribeye, Mom,” he said one night in early August. It was a total “aha” moment for me in culinary school when the chef explained that if you place a steak on the grill at an angle pointing to 2 o’clock, wait three minutes, and turn it to 10 o’clock to sit for the same period of time, you get restaurant-quality marks.

Owen rejected my point that he could practice making marks on slices of zucchini, eggplant and summer squash just as easily at much less cost. But he’s rarely hungry for those items. I bought the steak because I am both a sucker and I know he’s not likely to be home for dinner at a regular clip for much longer.

If I had it to do over again, I’d have started my home cooking school 15 years ago. I stand by the lesson plan because I think it strikes a good balance between needing to feed a body, a soul and an extended family.

But I’ve come to understand as well that there needs to be more time built into the schedule for both a little less task-mastering by the teacher and more self-guided culinary exploration by the student.

For his final class, Owen asked to learn how to make my version of baked macaroni and cheese. I, of course, obliged, as it starts with a béchamel, one of the classic mother sauces I was more than honored to pass along to my son, who received it with gusto.

I’m totally OK with him admitting that he cooks out of hunger. If he wants to be reminded of how food can make a nostalgic mark on a person, there’s always the tattoo.

The finished product is perfect for a college freshman – or anyone. Joel Page/Staff Photographer

The finished product is perfect for a college freshman – or anyone. Joel Page/Staff Photographer

BAKED MAC AND SMOKED CHEESE RECIPE

Owen has always preferred homemade to the boxed variety. This recipe has evolved to be more flavorful over the years as we’ve mixed and matched cheeses we’ve come to love along the way. Owen likes to make this dish with rigatoni as they are bigger than other dried shaped pasta, like medium shells, elbows, penne or rotini. But any of those other pastas will work just fine, cooked al dente so that the pasta has room to soak up a little cheese sauce.
Serves 6 to 8

1 pound shaped pasta
¼ cup butter plus more for buttering dish
¼ cup flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
4 cups milk (whole is best but 2% is okay)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, grated
4 ounces yellow mild cheddar cheese, grated
4 ounces Alpine cheese, grated
4 ounces stretchy cheese like Monterey Jack, grated
½ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente, 9 to 12 minutes, depending on the pasta type. Drain.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the ¼ cup butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep whisking for about 5 minutes to cook out the floury taste. Make sure the mixture is free of lumps. Stir in the milk and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Combine all of the cheeses. Slowly add ¾ of the cheese to the sauce, a handful at a time, stirring after each addition. Season with salt and peppers. Fold the pasta into the mix and pour into prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake the macaroni and cheese for 30 minutes until the cheese on the top has browned a bit and the sauce is bubbling up around the edges. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Christine Burns Rudalevige is a food writer, a recipe developer and tester, and a cooking teacher in Brunswick. She also writes the Green Plate Special column in Source. Contact her at:

cburn1227@gmail.com

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Garden herbs that bolt early still have plenty to offer http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/21/green-plate-special-garden-herbs-that-bolt-early-still-have-plenty-to-offer/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/21/green-plate-special-garden-herbs-that-bolt-early-still-have-plenty-to-offer/#comments Sun, 21 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1020353 Chef, slow food advocate and food writer Deborah Madison waxes poetic in the opening chapter of her “Vegetable Literacy” cookbook about the beautiful flowers a home gardener can enjoy as she looks over her patch of kitchen vegetables and passel of herbs at the season’s end.

In due time, these flowers are all well and good. They signal the point in the plants’ growth cycle when they are ready to produce seeds and ensure future generations of their species. But the abnormally warm and dry weather we are experiencing has many an herb in our area bolting early, leaving cooks and gardeners seemingly unable to experience their flavor for much longer.

No worries, folks. You can still enjoy your bolting herbs. According to Massachusetts-based herbalist Betsy Williams, backyard gardeners can pinch off the flowers from perennial herbs like chives, marjoram, mint, oregano, sage, tarragon and thyme; cut the plants back a bit; and give them a good watering. With that care, they will keep growing.

For annual herbs like basil, cilantro/coriander, dill and fennel, their one and only botanical job is to bear seeds; bolting signals the end of their growth cycle, so you need to use them before you lose them to seed (which really isn’t a loss, anyway, but a head start on next year’s garden if you save them).

Chef Ben Hasty of Thistle Pig in South Berwick uses bolted herbs to make flavored oils for marinating meat and mushrooms. And if the bolted herbs have made it to the seed production part of their life cycle, he uses them fresh to garnish plates of crudo (carefully prepared raw fish and meat dishes) for an interesting look and a pop of flavor.

Hasty also uses them in broths and braises because bolted herbs have the same flavor as non-bolted ones.

For a quick broth that will add great flavor to summertime soups, follow food writer Mark Bittman’s recipe for herb broth. He puts a small handful of rosemary, thyme or sage sprigs (bolted or not), a large handful of parsley sprigs, a few bay leaves, 1 or 2 crushed garlic cloves and a pinch of black peppercorns in a pot with 6 cups of cold water, then brings the pot to barely a simmer, steeps the herbs for 15 minutes off the heat and finally strains the broth before using it.

Williams puts the stems into Garbage Herb Vinegar and uses the flowers (especially those of Thai basil plants) to make flavored brandy by filling a quart mason jar with the blossoms, pouring in a pint of moderately priced brandy, 1½ cups sugar and ½ cup water, twisting on the lid and storing it in a dark, cool place for two to three months before she strains it and saves it for sipping around the holidays.

With the other flowers, she’ll chop them very finely if she has a small number and incorporate them into compound butters for slathering on bread, baked or grilled poultry and fish, and into dressings for both raw or cooked vegetable salads.

For a large number of blossoms, she suggests drying them, spread out on a pan in the sun. She then rubs them together to break them up, puts them in a jar labeled “Flower Power” and shakes them over cooked vegetables all winter long for a burst of summer sunshine.

CHRISTINE BURNS RUDALEVIGE is a food writer, a recipe developer and tester, and a cooking teacher in Brunswick. Contact her at: cburn1227@gmail.com.

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Doctors throw party to accentuate appeal of Earth-friendly food http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/17/vegan-kitchen-doctors-throw-party-to-accentuate-appeal-of-earth-friendly-food/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/17/vegan-kitchen-doctors-throw-party-to-accentuate-appeal-of-earth-friendly-food/#comments Wed, 17 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1017268 I’ve been to my fair share of parties, and The Taste for Change was the coolest I ever attended.

While the all-vegan party had many must-haves of a hip soiree, its true coolness came from its low carbon footprint. Held in late July at O’Maine Studios in Portland and hosted by the Maine chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility in conjunction with Delicious TV, the event had the express goal of illustrating how our food choices affect climate change.

Not only was all the food vegan at this sold-out event, but much of it was made from organic or local ingredients and all the waste – including napkins, plates, cups and cutlery – was composted by Garbage to Garden.

As soon as I walked through the open garage doors into the industrial space, I was surrounded by food. One minute I was being handed a slice of Flatbread pizza, the next deciding whether to try a Green Elephant banh mi sandwich or a Terra Cotta Pasta veggie dumpling. Or maybe a Pai Men Miyake futomaki?

Fourteen restaurants and food vendors donated to the event.

“We highlighted vegan food because we know that meat and dairy production plays a large role in contributing to climate change,” said Karen D’Andrea, executive director of the Physicians for Social Responsibility Maine chapter.

Another purpose of the event, she said, was to show party-goers how easy and delicious it can be to add more plant-based meals to their lives.

“You don’t have to go, ‘Today I’m done with meat,’ ” D’Andrea said. “It’s not like giving up smoking.” A gradual or partial approach is fine, she said.

Physicians for Social Responsibility Maine counts 3,000 physicians and health-care professionals as members, and D’Andrea said its membership is all over the map when it comes to their personal eating habits. However, whether vegans, meat-eaters or somewhere in between, D’Andrea said all the organization’s members are interested in lowering the carbon footprint of what they eat.

Not only did the party tempt with seemingly unending vegan hors d’oeuvres, the festivities included three cooking demonstrations in the facility’s media kitchen.

Elizabeth Fraser of the Girl Gone Raw cooking school on Munjoy Hill led the first demo, showing how to make three varieties of nice cream using frozen bananas and a high speed blender (see recipe).

She was followed by Toni Fiore, the host of the Maine-produced PBS cooking show “Vegan Mashup,” who demonstrated how to make a tuna-free salad with artichoke hearts and chickpeas. (Find the recipe in Vegan Kitchen, Press Herald, June 11, 2014.)

Fiore urged audience members to “start shifting to some of these foods,” and she spoke about her deep concern for the state of the oceans and endangered fish like tuna. “Understand what’s happening on land with animal agriculture is seriously impacting our oceans,” Fiore told the crowd of onlookers.

The final cooking demonstration featured Kirsten Scarcelli of Plant IQ showing the crowd how to make Super Easy Beans without any oil; the group advocates a diet with no oil.

“Even though we’re not cooking with oil, it’s not sticking,” Scarcelli told the audience as she sauteed peppers, onions, corn and black beans. She later added that once you switch to cooking without oil “you really don’t miss it.”

The other thing no one missed was the meat.

“The food is excellent and the cause is very important,” Dr. Bruce Taylor told me. “As a physician I’m very concerned about the quality of our food and water.”

Taylor pointed out that climate change enables communicable diseases (and the creatures that spread them) to migrate north and it worsens air pollution, which is highly linked to diseases such as stroke.

“We’re in a vicious cycle with the way we produce food,” Physicians for Social Responsibility Maine board member Dr. Daniel Oppenheim told the crowd. “We need to find ways to eat lower on the food chain.”

The party’s final event was the Climate Cake Contest, judged by yours truly, Portland Press Herald food writer Meredith Goad and Fiore. Three gorgeous vegan cakes were brought out and we had the tough task of deciding whether the chocolate cake from The Cookie Jar, the chocolate peanut butter cake from Ice It Bakery or the lime-Bacardi coconut cake from Love Cupcakes should be awarded top marks.

After much tasting and consulting, we all cast our votes for the Love Cupcakes creation.

As Goad said, “It’s like having a key lime pie in a cake.”

No one complained that the moist and flavorful cakes lacked dairy or eggs. And when the party wrapped up, all that was left were a few crumbs for the compost bin.

Avery Yale Kamila is a freelance food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at: avery.kamila@gmail.com

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

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Use of old bread in panzanella a gift of good sense from Italy http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/17/use-of-old-bread-in-panzanella-a-gift-of-good-sense-from-italy/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/17/use-of-old-bread-in-panzanella-a-gift-of-good-sense-from-italy/#comments Wed, 17 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1017301 File this under “everything old is new again” – panzanella, the Italian bread salad, is a harmonious marriage between old and new. Leftover stale bread added to vibrant summer produce leads to a winning seasonal dish.

The “old” of panzanella is further linked to the Italian tradition of using up leftovers. With all due respect to the more recent – and vitally necessary – emphasis on reducing food waste around the world, Italians have been making do with leftovers for centuries. Day-old risotto becomes arancini (fried rice balls), last night’s spaghetti transforms into a breakfast pasta frittata and squishy grapes find new life as high-gravity grappa.

Bread is especially well-suited to Italian leftover reincarnation. Besides, bread and other baked goods are in particular need of creative recycling because uneaten bread is a major component of food waste.

In his book “American Wasteland” (Da Capo Press, 2010), Durham, N.C., blogger, journalist and food waste expert Jonathan Bloom reported that supermarkets waste a lot of bread: “Bread and baked goods are by far the most commonly wasted foods at supermarkets.”

All the more reason to find reuses for this daily staple, and the Italians are on it. For example, old loaves show up in Italian soups like ribollita (bread, bean and vegetable soup) and pappa al pomodoro (bread and tomato soup), and milk-soaked bread or bread crumbs are used in meatballs.

Appreciation for the particular charms of panzanella is so old it was documented in ancient literature. Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio mentioned “pan lavato,” or washed bread, in his 14th-century opus “The Decameron.” Florentine Renaissance poet and painter Agnolo di Cosimo, otherwise known as Bronzino, waxed poetic about the salad in the 16th century:

“He who wishes to fly above the stars / dip his bread and eat to bursting / a salad of chopped onion / with purslane and cucumbers / wins every other pleasure of this life / consider if I were to add some basil / and rocket.”

Yet, for all its romantic associations, panzanella has quite humble origins. In her book “The Classic Italian Cookbook,” doyenne of authentic Italian cuisine Marcella Hazan brought the rustic salad down to earth: “This salad was originally the poor man’s dinner in parts of Tuscany and Rome.”

So what’s “new” about panzanella? A lot! The salad has undergone a bit of a renaissance since the Renaissance. You’ll notice that Bronzino’s recipe does not include a single tomato because tomatoes were not introduced to Italy until the 1500s. However, today’s panzanella recipes often contain that New World ingredient.

Also, early panzanellas were not made with the cubed, toasted bread popular in recipes today. They were made with saltless Tuscan country bread that was soaked in water, squeezed and added to the salad to give it additional heft. (This method of reviving stale bread was apparently popular with ancient Italian mariners, who liked to dip their dried-out chunks in sea water before eating.)

The wet-bread method is not as popular today, perhaps in part because it’s not easy to find the authentic Tuscan bread that works better when soaked. While Hazan acknowledges the authenticity of the wet-bread technique in her book, she said, “I much prefer this version, however decadent it may be, in which the waterlogged bread is replaced by crisp squares of bread fried in olive oil.”

Really, every dish of panzanella has new elements because it incorporates the freshest produce available. If you’re lucky to have your own garden, your salad will have fresh-from-the-soil cucumbers, just-picked tomatoes and scissor-snipped basil. If the farmer’s market is your source for produce, your panzanella ingredients are likely to be very recently harvested from the farm. The latest and greatest from the vegetable patch or vine (or fruit orchard) are just the things to extend the life of your mature bread in panzanella form.

One last note: A lot of recipes recommend that the longer the salad sits, the better it gets. However, you don’t want the salad to sit so long that the bread gets soggy. It should still have some structure to it when it’s time to eat. And most panzanellas are best served the day they’re made.

However, if you find yourself with last night’s tomato panzanella in your fridge, you can experiment with making gazpacho out of the leftovers by whirring an extra tomato or two with the salad in a food processor. Yet another way to make the old new again – it would make an Italian grandmother proud.

CLASSIC TOMATO PANZANELLA

This classic tomato panzanella recipe is the updated version with summer tomatoes and crouton-like bread cubes. Feel free to experiment: Use different kinds of breads and vegetables, stir in cheeses like mozzarella, parmesan or feta or add other new ingredients like olives, capers, hard-boiled eggs, pine nuts or whatever else you like in a salad. In a pinch, a store-bought balsamic or red wine vinegar dressing may stand in for the homemade vinaigrette. Inspired by an Ina Garten recipe.

Makes 6 servings

VINAIGRETTE:

One regular clove or 1/2 of a large clove of garlic

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 grinds black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

SALAD:

4 cups of 1-inch bread cubes cut from a loaf of leftover rustic French or Italian bread (roughly half of a large loaf)

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

4 small or two medium-sized ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 cucumber peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into 1-inch cubes

14 basil leaves, divided

Salt and pepper to taste

Make the vinaigrette: Mince garlic as finely as possible, then smash it against the cutting board with the side of the knife. Place in a bowl with the vinegars, mustard and salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly until all of the oil is incorporated. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Let vinaigrette sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before adding to the salad.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Toss the bread cubes in 1 tablespoon olive oil; add more oil if needed to coat the bread cubes thoroughly without drenching them. Spread the cubes on a sheet pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the bread is crispy like a crouton. Let the bread cool.

Make the salad: Mix tomatoes, cucumber, onion and bell peppers in a salad bowl. Slice 10 of the basil leaves into thin ribbons and add to salad. Add 2 tablespoons vinaigrette to salad and let sit for 15 minutes. Add the bread cubes and the remaining vinaigrette, mix everything together and let sit for at least an hour or up to 4 hours in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Right before serving, top the salad with the remaining four basil leaves cut into ribbons.

CORNBREAD PANZANELLA WITH SPICY CILANTRO RANCH DRESSING

Though it retains some of the elements of the classic recipe (tomato, onion), panzanella gets an even newer spin with this cornbread version. The texture is rather crumbly, similar to a Thanksgiving cornbread dressing. Feel free to substitute your favorite cornbread recipe, or you may use store-bought cornbread, but keep in mind that the recipe works best with a cornbread that’s not sweet.

Serve this as a side dish for grilled meats like ribs, pork chops, turkey or chicken. Unlike other panzanellas, this dish tastes great the next day – it just might need to be freshened up with extra dressing and salt and pepper.

One note: If you don’t want to grill the corn, you can prepare it as you like. The dressing recipe makes about a pint, which is more than you need. It will keep for five days in the refrigerator.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

FOR THE DRESSING:

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

3/4 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons lime juice

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped chives

3 to 4 dashes hot sauce

4 grinds black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

FOR THE SALAD:

2 small or 1 medium-sized ripe tomato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 jalapeno, seeds and membranes removed, finely chopped

2 ears corn

1 (8.5-ounce) box cornbread mix, prepared, or 5-6 cups of leftover cornbread, cut into ½-inch cubes

5 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

Make dressing: Place garlic, buttermilk, lime juice, mayonnaise, cilantro, chives and hot sauce in a food processor and finely chop. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Let dressing sit in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.

Mix tomato, onion and jalapeno in a salad bowl. Add a tablespoon of spicy cilantro dressing to the vegetables and mix. Let vegetables sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Grill the corn on a hot grill for 10 to 15 minutes until the corn is charred all over. Let corn cool, then slice the corn off the cob and add to the vegetables.

Fold the cornbread into the vegetables (mixture will be crumbly). Add 1/4 cup dressing until incorporated. Add additional dressing if needed until the salad is slightly moist but the cornbread is not drenched. Fold in bacon crumbles and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Let salad sit for 15 minutes before serving.

PEACH BLUEBERRY PANZANELLA WITH LEMON WHIPPED CREAM

The dessert take on this ancient salad is similar mostly in concept, but not in ingredients or even general execution. Peaches and blueberries taste great together, but the dessert would work just as well with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, nectarines or plums. Also, leftover angel food cake would be a fine substitute for the pound cake. Makes 4 servings

4 cups leftover pound cake, or one thawed 10.75-ounce frozen pound cake, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

4 tablespoons melted butter

4 ripe peaches

3/4 cup blueberries

2 teaspoons sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

WHIPPED LEMON CREAM:

1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel

2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place metal mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for the lemon whipped cream.

Toss pound cake cubes with melted butter. Spread cubes on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Prepare a bowl with water and ice. Score the bottom of the peaches with a paring knife.

Carefully place peaches in the boiling water. After about 40 seconds, remove the peaches from the hot water and place immediately in the ice bath to shock them. After about 1 minute, remove the peaches from the ice water. Peel the peaches, then cut the peaches into 1/2-inch cubes.

Place the peaches in a bowl with the blueberries. Add sugar and lemon juice to the fruit and stir thoroughly. Place the fruit in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes until you are ready to assemble the dessert.

Once you are ready to serve, prepare the lemon whipped cream with the chilled metal bowl and beaters. Combine heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, lemon peel and 2 teaspoons lemon juice in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat to soft peaks. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Rewhisk before using.)

Divide the pound cake cubes into four dessert bowls. Spread the fruit over the pound cake, then top each serving with lemon whipped cream. Serve immediately.

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Tomatoes are stars of BLT as a chilled soup http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/17/tomatoes-are-stars-of-blt-as-a-chilled-soup/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/17/tomatoes-are-stars-of-blt-as-a-chilled-soup/#comments Wed, 17 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1017316 Everyone knows Joyce Kilmer’s love song to trees – “I think that I shall never see/ A poem lovely as a tree.” That’s the way I feel about tomatoes. Accordingly, Chilled BLT Soup puts the “T” in BLT. Yes, there’s bacon and lettuce, and some toast, too, in the form of croutons. But the star of this show is the tomato in its season.

How do you know whether you’re buying a good tomato? To start, pick it up. It should feel heavy, which lets you know it’s ripe and juicy. Then take a whiff of the stem end. It should smell strongly like … a tomato. Once you get it home, store it on the counter, out of the sun. If it’s not fully red, just leave it alone. It will continue to ripen at room temperature. Refrigerating it kills the flavor and the texture.

You want to salt your tomatoes ahead of time, before you cook them, a step that helps to concentrate their flavor. First salt the large tomatoes, which form the base of the soup. Then salt the quartered tomatoes, which provide crunch.

Do not seed the tomatoes. If you do, you lose a lot of the jelly surrounding the seeds – and that jelly is where the tomato essence lives.

On the chance that you’ve somehow underrated tomatoes before, this deeply flavorful and refreshing soup will show you what you’ve been missing.

CHILLED BLT SOUP

Makes 4 servings

3 pounds large tomatoes

Kosher salt

2 cups 1/2-inch bread cubes

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

4 slices bacon

1 pound cherry tomatoes, quartered

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Black pepper

1 cup shredded romaine

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Core and cut the large tomatoes into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. In a large bowl toss the wedges with 1 teaspoon salt and set them aside for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, on a large rimmed sheet pan toss the bread cubes with 1 tablespoon olive oil until they are well coated. Sprinkle them very lightly with salt and toss again. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven until they are golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Set them aside to cool.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the bacon until it is crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. When the bacon is cool, crumble it and set it aside.

In a strainer set over a bowl, toss the cherry tomatoes with 1/2 teaspoon salt and let them drain for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise with the garlic, the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the tomato juice from the drained cherry tomatoes and stir well.

Working in batches, transfer the tomato wedges and their liquid to a blender and blend until very smooth. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the sherry vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the cherry tomatoes and chill the soup until it is cold.

Spoon one-fourth of the soup into each of four soup bowls. Drizzle each with some of the mayonnaise and top with the bacon, the romaine and the croutons.

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Take right veggies, add some zingy sauce and roll with it http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/17/bright-veggies-zingy-sauce-and-roll-with-it/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/17/bright-veggies-zingy-sauce-and-roll-with-it/#comments Wed, 17 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1017397 A single game-changing ingredient can turn summer salads into festive finger food that is sure to elicit oohs and ahhs at a beach or backyard gathering: rice paper rounds, also called spring roll wrappers.

They are widely available on the international aisle of larger grocery stores and in Asian markets. Working with them always feels a bit magical to me. They come in a package, dehydrated and brittle, looking like thin sheets of almost-opaque plastic. But a brief dip in warm water transforms them into pliable, sheer wrappers for creating tidy bundles of whatever chilled fillings you can imagine.

Here, I went with the most brilliantly hued garden vegetables I could find: carrot, watermelon radish, bell pepper and red lettuce leaves, along with fragrant fresh basil and mint, a cool crunch of cucumber, and plump, pink shrimp. It’s important to have all the ingredients lined up and ready before you begin, because a softened wrapper needs to be filled before it gets too sticky and hard to handle.

And because the ingredient you add first will be visible against the sheer wrapper, I recommend starting each roll with a different component, so you get the full spectrum of color and variety facing up on your serving platter. Be sure to serve the rolls with the accompanying dipping sauce.

Although the wrappers are the ingredient that loads the bases, the tangy-sweet-spicy sauce is the mouthwatering hit that brings it all home.

COLORFUL SUMMER ROLLS WITH DIPPING SAUCE

Makes 4 servings (8 rolls)

The rolls may be prepared several hours in advance; cover with a damp paper towel and refrigerate in an airtight container. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in advance.

FOR THE SAUCE:

1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon chili sauce, such as Sriracha

1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce

1 scallion (white and green parts), thinly sliced

FOR THE ROLLS:

8 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, cooked and chilled

16 medium fresh basil leaves

16 medium mint leaves

1/2 cup shredded carrot

1/4 cup thinly sliced radish, cut into half-moons, preferably watermelon radish

1/4 English (seedless) cucumber (unpeeled), sliced thinly into half-moons

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into matchsticks (julienne)

3 red leaf lettuce leaves, spines removed, torn into large pieces

8 round rice paper wrappers (about 6 inches in diameter)

FOR THE SAUCE:

Whisk together the rice vinegar, honey, lime juice, chili sauce, fish sauce and scallion in a medium bowl until they are well combined and the honey is dissolved. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 3 days).

FOR THE ROLLS:

Slice each shrimp in half lengthwise.

Line up the remaining basil and mint leaves, carrot, radish, cucumber, red bell pepper and lettuce in separate bowls.

Fill a 9-inch or larger pie plate with very warm water that is not too hot to touch. Place a rice paper round in the hot water and soak for no more than 15 seconds – just until it is pliable and the pattern on the surface of the rice paper is barely visible. Transfer to a clean work surface, making sure to lay the softened round flat.

Layer some of each of the ingredients onto the center of the round, then roll it up, burrito style, tucking in the sides as you go.

Place the finished roll on a plate and cover with a damp cloth or paper towel. Repeat with the remaining rice paper rounds and filling ingredients, starting each roll with a different filling ingredient on the bottom, so a different color ingredient is showing under the translucent rice paper wrapper for each roll.

Serve with the dipping sauce.

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Beyond bad puns, Bob’s Burgers Burger Book has inventive recipes http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/17/beyond-bad-puns-bobs-burgers-burger-book-has-inventive-recipes-with-unlikely-ingredients/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/17/beyond-bad-puns-bobs-burgers-burger-book-has-inventive-recipes-with-unlikely-ingredients/#comments Wed, 17 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1017256 “The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book: Real Recipes for Joke Burgers” by Loren Bouchard, recipes by Cole Bowden. Universe Publishing, $19.95

Fans of the cult animated sitcom “Bob’s Burgers” know to watch the chalkboard behind the fictional burger joint’s lunch counter every episode to catch the burger of the day.

The creations, ostensibly by Bob, the owner of the financially struggling family-run burger joint, is inevitably a cringe-worthy pun – the type that elicits a groan, rather than a chuckle.

Bob’s creations evoke common popular culture tropes like “Hummus a Tune,” “Human Polenta-Pede,” “Baby you can Chive my Car,” “A Leek of their Own,” “The Sound and the Curry,” and “Onion-tended Consequences.”

The writers of the show never intended anyone to actually cook the burgers, but tried to style them in a way that would seem palatable if they showed up on an actual menu. But sometime during its eight-season run, one enterprising fan, Cole Bowden, took it on himself to re-create the joke burgers and post the recipes on his blog, bobsburgerexperiment.com.

As these things tend to do, the blog was turned into a book, with recipes from Bowden and original art and writing by show creator Loren Bouchard and the show’s writing staff.

The resulting book, with more than 70 burger recipes, is geared toward fans of the show. It is debatable whether you’d find it in the cooking or humor section of your local bookstore.

But behind its hokey writing, bad jokes and cartoon illustrations are a number of inventive, fun and delicious burgers. The first section of the book describes how to mold and cook a standard burger, and the recipes build from that base. The kaleidescope of toppings and combinations will likely alienate burger purists, but those willing to take a step beyond basic 1/4 pound of ground beef with lettuce, tomato and onion won’t be disappointed.

My wife and I have both spent hours binge-watching “Bob’s Burgers,” so the recipe collection seemed like it would be a nice addition to our kitchen bookcase.

Since we’re both fans of Indian food we went with the Every Breath You Tikka Masala Burger. The standard burger is topped with masala rice and fresh basil, served with a side of spicy potatoes and peppers.

Because there were only two of us, I halved the recipe and decided to use ground beef instead of the suggested lamb.

On its face, the four-part recipe for the meal seems involved and time-consuming (like many of the other recipes in the book) but most of the ingredients are basic. I made the rice and a simple masala sauce out of sautéed onions and garlic simmered with canned plum tomatoes, spices and a healthy dollop of yogurt stirred in to give it creamy body. I stirred some of the sauce in with the rice and cooked four burgers in a cast iron pan on the stove top, then toasted sesame-seeded bus in the same pan.

We constructed each burger with a bun, patty, rice, then fresh basil. We also opted to add sliced red onion and a healthy smear of mayonnaise to bind everything together. The potatoes were parboiled, tossed in a pan with sautéed peppers and roasted in the oven, then combined with the remaining masala sauce.

The result was delicious. The spices in the rice didn’t overpower the perfectly cooked burger, and the basil and red onion added a welcome fresh bite. What’s even better, the rice masala was the right consistency so it didn’t spill out the sides of the bun while we were eating, a problem I had anticipated with the recipe.

The bottom line? “The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book” doesn’t ask to be taken seriously but shouldn’t be ignored as a guidebook to unexpected, quirky burger creations.

EVERY BREATH YOU TIKKA MASALA BURGER

Makes 8 burgers

2 cups basmati rice

3 large potatoes, diced

4 sweet peppers, finely diced

1 hot chili pepper, seeded and finely diced

2 tablespoons butter

Paprika

1 large onion, coarsely diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 (14.5-ounce) cans whole plum tomatoes

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 cup yogurt

2 pounds ground beef or lamb

8 buns

Fresh Thai basil leaves (1 cup)

MAKE THE RICE:

1. Don’t skip this step. Rinse your rice until the water runs clear, then let it soak in clean water for at least 30 minutes.

2. Bring 31/2 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the rice and stir. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until done (until all the water is absorbed and the rice is moist but not sticking to the pot).

MAKE THE POTATOES:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Cover the potatoes in a large saucepan with water and season with salt. Bring the potatoes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until tender.

2. In a large oven-proof frying pan, sauté the sweet and hot peppers in 1 tablespoon of butter until the chili pepper heat hits your eyes and your kitchen smells delicious.

3. Drain the potatoes and add them to the pan with the peppers. Sprinkle with a generous amount of paprika and bake for 20-30 minutes (or until the sauce is done and you are ready to eat.)

MAKE THE MASALA:

1. Sauté the onion over medium-high heat in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter until translucent. Add the garlic.

2. Add the tomatoes and their juice to the onions and keep the mixture at a simmer. Add in the cumin, curry powder and ginger. Wait for the tomatoes “to sweat” – a fancy cooking term for when they start to release their liquid, you can see the liquid sort of pool up in a lighter color. When this happens, add the salt and garam masala.

3. Let the mixture reduce for about 10 minutes, and then remove from heat. Give it some time to cool.

4. Add the yogurt and mix it up. The yogurt will curdle but you didn’t ruin anything! You’re still a good person and this is totally safe to eat. It just means the yogurt is in contact with the acid, it’s not like curdled milk. Mix enough masala with the rice so that it is saturated but not soupy; reserve remaining masala for the potatoes.

MAKE THE BURGERS:

1. Form 8 patties, season both sides with salt and pepper and grill or cook the burgers as you normally would.

2. Toast the buns, then build your burger; bottom buns, burger, masala-rice mixture, basil leaves, top buns.

3. Pour the remaining masala over the potatoes and serve on the side.

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Tune into summer Olympics with Brazilian shrimp casserole at hand http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/10/tune-into-summer-olympics-with-brazilian-shrimp-casserole-at-hand/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/10/tune-into-summer-olympics-with-brazilian-shrimp-casserole-at-hand/#comments Wed, 10 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1006771 As the world turns its attention to the host country of the Olympic Games, I’m reminded of a trip I took to Brazil 20 years ago with my friend, chef and cookbook author Christopher Idone.

Idone was so enamored of Brazilian food that he had written a wonderful cookbook, “Brazil: A Cook’s Tour” (Clarkson Potter), for which I was the editor.

We traveled through Sao Paulo, Rio and Bahia, and all the recipes over which we had pored on manuscript pages were suddenly there in real life, 3-D, red with dende oil, crunchy with manioc flour, aromatic with coconut milk. There were rich Feijoadas, creamy Tutu a Mineira, hot and cheesy Pao de Queijo.

Brazil’s combination of Indian, African and European (mainly Portuguese) cultures is visible in the ingredients, techniques and dishes of the country.

In more recent years, an influx of Japanese, Lebanese, North American, Chinese and other immigrants has continued to enrich the culture and food with new influences.

One of my favorite dishes was Camaroes com Palmito, or Casserole of Shrimp and Hearts of Palm, which we encountered in Rio de Janeiro. Two of the most appealing foods ever are nestled together in a tomato-tinged, brothy, one-pot dish, fragrant with scallions, cilantro and parsley.

Christopher and I continued to cook and eat together after our trip to Brazil. He died just months ago, having introduced a whole lot of people to a whole lot of cuisines, including Brazilian.

This recipe is adapted from his classic book.

CASSEROLE OF SHRIMP AND HEARTS OF PALM (CAMAROES COM PALMITO)

Makes 8 servings

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 onions, chopped

1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

10 large ripe plum tomatoes, roughly chopped (juices reserved)

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup chopped fresh parsley, divided

4 scallions, white and most of the green, trimmed and chopped, divided

2 pounds extra-large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 (14-ounce) cans hearts of palm, drained and cut into 1-inch pieces

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Hot cooked white rice to serve (about 6 cups)

Heat a large heavy stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.

When the pan is hot, add the flour and stir until it starts to turn light beige, about 2 minutes.

Turn the flour out of the pan onto a plate.

In the same pot, heat the oil over medium heat.

Add the onions, and saute until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add the bell pepper and garlic, and sauté until the vegetables are all tender, about 4 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices.

Partially cover and bring to a simmer. Adjust the heat so the tomatoes keep at a simmer, and cook for another 10 minutes, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are soft and soupy.

Add the broth and return the mixture to a simmer. Stir in half of the parsley and half of the scallions.

Add the shrimp and hearts of palm to the pot with the tomato broth mixture, season with salt and pepper and stir.

Sprinkle the flour very gradually over the cooking shrimp and tomatoes, stirring constantly, until all of the flour is incorporated.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and the shrimp are almost cooked through, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the remaining parsley and scallions, and the cilantro, and cook for 1 more minute.

Serve over white rice.

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Maine Ingredient: Nothing beats baking for bringing out best in blueberries http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/10/maine-ingredient-nothing-beats-baking-for-bringing-out-best-in-blueberries/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/10/maine-ingredient-nothing-beats-baking-for-bringing-out-best-in-blueberries/#comments Wed, 10 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1006789 Ahhh, blueberry season. Isn’t it the best? When wild blueberries were designated the Maine state fruit in 1991, there were really no other contenders. I eat them every day during their brief season – sprinkled on my breakfast yogurt or cereal, added to my salad at lunch, and eaten by the handful after supper. As great as they are in their raw state, it’s in baked goods that blueberries really come into their own, releasing some of their flavorful juices and contributing their gorgeous color to pies, muffins, cobblers, cakes, quick breads and pancakes.

THE BEST BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

These really are The Best Muffins – chock full of blueberries, enough butter to make them taste just the right degree of rich, and the perfect amount of sweetening, including some brown sugar, which adds a subtle dimension of flavor.

Makes 12 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour

⅓ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

2 eggs

¾ cup whole or low-fat milk

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Generous 1 cup blueberries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin well or line with paper liners and spray liners with cooking oil spray.

Set a medium-mesh sieve over a large bowl and measure flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder and salt into the sieve. Use your fingers or a wooden spoon to push mixture through the sieve. (This removes any lumps from brown sugar and blends the dry ingredients.)

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and melted butter. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until flour is moistened. (Do not overmix or the muffins will be tough; batter should still look slightly lumpy.) Fold in the blueberries. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups.

Bake until the muffins are pale golden brown and springy to the touch, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing. Serve warm.

BLUEBERRY COBBLER

WITH CORNMEAL BISCUIT

Pie is wonderful, but somewhat time consuming, whereas cobbler is simple and straightforward and takes under an hour to make and bake. In this one, a touch of cornmeal adds a hint of golden color and a pleasing gritty crunch to the biscuit topping. You can roll out the dough to make a one-piece topping as I suggest here, or cut out rounds or other shapes with a cookie cutter, or simply drop the unrolled dough onto the top of the fruit for that nice bumpy “cobbled” effect.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

FRUIT LAYER:

1 tablespoon softened butter for the dish

5 cups low-bush Maine blueberries

½ cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon grated lemon zest and 2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

COBBLER DOUGH:

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar

5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in about 10 pieces

⅓ cup whole or low-fat milk

Lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Generously butter a shallow 1½-quart baking dish such as a deep pie plate or 8-inch-square dish.

In the prepared dish, combine blueberries, sugar, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla, and stir gently to mix. Place in preheated oven for 15 minutes to start berries releasing their juices. Remove dish from oven.

For the dough, in a food processor combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and 2 tablespoons of the sugar and pulse to blend. Distribute butter over flour mixture and pulse until butter chunks are about the size of peas. Dribble milk through feed tube, pulsing until flour is moistened and dough begins to clump together. (To make by hand, whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl, work the butter in with your fingertips, and stir in the milk with a large fork.) Transfer to a lightly floured board, knead a couple of times to bring the dough together, and roll or pat out into the approximate shape of the top of your dish.

Trim edges if necessary so topping is slightly smaller than the dish; then crimp edges with your fingertips or a fork. Place over the berries and cut several deep slashes to let steam escape. Sprinkle with remaining teaspoon of sugar.

Return dish to the oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until biscuit is golden and fruit is bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream or ice cream.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula and can be contacted via Facebook at:

facebook.com/brookedojny

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‘The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook: Volume 2’ offers winning recipe for burger buns http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/10/cookbook-review-americas-test-kitchens-the-how-can-it-be-gluten-free-cookbook-volume-2-offers-winning-recipe-for-burger-buns/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/10/cookbook-review-americas-test-kitchens-the-how-can-it-be-gluten-free-cookbook-volume-2-offers-winning-recipe-for-burger-buns/#comments Wed, 10 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1006795 “The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook: Volume 2.” America’s Test Kitchen. $26.95

Since my daughter-in-law became gluten-sensitive more than a year ago, it’s been a challenge to find gluten-free alternatives to serve with family meals.

To date, the store-bought, gluten-free products I’ve served have been met with comments such as “too dense,” “like cardboard” and “I’m not a fan.” I’ve also gotten feedback delivered via a face so horribly contorted that words weren’t necessary.

Trust me, I get it! I’d find it difficult to content myself with a celery stick while watching others enjoy favorite foods that are no longer part of my diet.

It all came to a head recently at a barbecue, where I served store-bought, gluten-free hot dog rolls that turned out to be the texture of a Styrofoam pool noodle. Exasperated with the pre-made options, I turned to the folks at America’s Test Kitchen, who recently published a second volume of gluten-free recipes, “How Can It Be Gluten Free 2.”

The cookbook begins with a 35-page tutorial on the science of gluten and its role in developing baked goods, while offering tips for creating gluten-free flour alternatives. It gives strategies for using binders, hints for troubleshooting recipes and reviews of gluten-free store products. This section is especially helpful in explaining how different ingredients and techniques affect the outcome of recipes, as shown in plentiful side-by-side comparison photos. (I was momentarily transported back to junior high science class, where I naively wondered when I would ever need to use chemistry in daily life.) It’s worth reading this section carefully before you get into the kitchen and begin cooking.

“How Can It Be Gluten Free 2” offers a varied selection of 190 recipes for breakfast, comfort foods and desserts, every single one of which is front-loaded with commentary explaining what the test kitchen tried – and whether it worked or didn’t. I focused on baked goods because this is where gluten-sensitive folks tend to struggle.

Also, baking is notoriously exacting, and when baking gluten-free goodies, there is even less room for error; the book’s meticulous instructions and photos are a big help. Recipes include brioche (yes! brioche!), yeast doughnuts, bagels, graham crackers (hello cheesecake!), pizza dough and dumplings.

First, I put together the “all-purpose flour” mixture called for in many of the book’s recipes. It’s a pricey blend of white rice and brown rices and potato and tapioca flours. The book also lists measurement changes for cooks who prefer to use store-bought gluten-free flour blends.

Then, using my homemade mix, I made hamburger buns. For DIY types, this recipe offers a step-by-step tutorial for making 4-inch round aluminum foil molds that help the buns hold their shape as they rise and bake. It’s extra work, but which do you want to eat – a Styrofoam pool noodle or a tender hamburger bun? Some things are worth the effort.

My first batch of buns was dense and dry and had a chemical aftertaste. The recipe said I’d need those tinfoil collars to hem in the loose dough as it rose, but my dough was as solid as a new container of Play-Doh.

Since the cookbook lists ingredients by weight and measure, and I use a “dip and sweep” method to measure ingredients, I wondered if humidity was to blame for the outcome. (Maybe I’d learned more in science class than I thought, though perhaps I should have paid more attention in math class – this culinary experiment was starting to add up to a lot of money!) Too far in to quit, I made one final investment. I bought a food scale, then retested the recipe.

It turns out that the 12 ounces of weighed flour called for in the hamburger buns amounted to far less than the 2⅔ cups called for by measure. I noticed the difference immediately when mixing the ingredients. Though the second batch started off very wet, a 5-minute beating time allowed the flour to absorb the liquid and resulted in the cookie-doughlike texture the recipe sought.

A taste of the batter revealed the same chemical aftertaste as before. Undaunted, I continued with the recipe and one hour later, I was rewarded with a tray of hot, fluffy hamburger buns. Ignoring the recipe instructions, I immediately tore off a chunk from a roll for a taste.

Ooohhh … it was tender and delicious, with no unpleasant aftertaste. I slathered the rest of the roll with butter and finished it, thinking that these could be the perfect substitute for dinner rolls at Thanksgiving. Though their texture is heartier than classic store-bought hamburger rolls, for gluten-sensitive folks, they are a great alternative.

The next day, a leftover bun was still pillowy soft and delicious. I smiled as I tossed the other leftover buns into the freezer, ready for my next barbecue.

1006795_681432 how can it be gl.jpgATK ALL-PURPOSE GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR BLEND

24 ounces (1⅔ cups) white rice flour

7½ ounces (2¼ cups) brown rice flour

7 ounces (1⅓ cups) potato starch

3 ounces (¾ cup) tapioca starch (flour)

¾ ounce (3 tablespoons) nonfat milk powder

Whisk together ingredients and store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to three months or freeze for up to six months.

Bring to room temperature before using.

HAMBURGER ROLLS

You can find powdered psyllium husk at many health food stores.

Makes 8 rolls

18 ounces (2¼ cups) warm water (110 degrees)

2¼ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

12 ounces (2⅔ cups) ATK all-purpose gluten-free flour blend

6 ounces (2 cups) oat flour

3 tablespoons powdered psyllium husk

2 teaspoons baking powder

1½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. As soon as oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Create the bun molds using aluminum foil: Cut a piece of foil 13½ inches long for each mold, folding in half, lengthwise, then in half again until the strip is about 2-3 inches wide; shape each of these into a 4-inch ring, stapling a few times to hold its shape.

Place on baking sheet and spray insides lightly with nonstick spray.

Combine warm water, yeast and one teaspoon of the sugar; let sit until bubbly, about five minutes. Whisk in eggs and butter.

Using a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle, combine flours with remaining dry ingredients.

With mixer on low, slowly add wet ingredients, scraping down mixture in bowl as needed. Increase speed to medium and beat until sticky and uniform, 5-6 minutes. Dough will resemble cookie dough.

Working with half-cups of dough at a time, shape each into a rough round using wet hands, and place each into a foil collar. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in oven to proof for 10 minutes; do not let plastic wrap touch oven rack.

Remove rolls from oven and allow to continue rising at room temperature for 20 more minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Reduce oven to 350 degrees, remove plastic wrap and bake rolls for 35 to 40 minutes.

Transfer rolls to wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

Split rolls can be wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to two days, or freeze for up to one month.

If frozen, microwave at 50 percent power for one minute, then toast until golden.

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Chorus of spices makes this tandoori chicken sing http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/10/chorus-of-spices-makes-this-tandoori-chicken-sing/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/10/chorus-of-spices-makes-this-tandoori-chicken-sing/#comments Wed, 10 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1006810 Poached, chilled chicken breast is a protein-packed blank canvas that’s primed to take on just about any palette of flavor and texture you can conjure.

This chicken salad recipe makes the most of that invitation. Its dressing, inspired by a tandoori marinade, is spiked with big, bold flavors: garlic, ginger, coriander, turmeric, cumin, salt and both black and cayenne peppers. The spices are forward and exciting, but they work harmoniously without being overwhelming. Plus, they impart not only flavor, but also color and texture to the dish.

TANDOORI-SPICED CHICKEN SALAD

Makes 4 servings

Serve over lettuce with lemon wedges, or with crusty bread.

The chicken needs to be poached, drained and refrigerated for at least 30 minutes, and up to 3 days, in advance. If you’re making the chicken salad in advance, wait to add the cilantro until just before serving.

1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to an even ½-inch thickness

2 cups no-salt-added chicken broth

Water, as needed

1 teaspoon cumin seed (may substitute ½ teaspoon ground cumin)

1 small clove garlic

¼ teaspoon salt, or more as needed

½ cup plain low-fat yogurt (not Greek style)

2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon peeled, finely grated fresh ginger root

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

½ English (seedless) cucumber, seeded, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices

⅓ cup fresh cilantro leaves

Arrange the pounded chicken breast pieces in a single layer in a large skillet; it’s OK if the pieces overlap slightly. Add the broth and enough water to cover by about an inch. Cover and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat, then immediately remove from the heat; let the chicken sit in the liquid, covered, for about 10 minutes or until it is just cooked through.

Transfer the chicken to a container with a tight-fitting lid, discarding the liquid. Cool, then cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (and up to 3 days).

Toast the cumin seed in a small, dry skillet over medium heat; cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, just until fragrant and lightly browned. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and crush the seeds a bit; or transfer to a cutting board and use the flat side of a chef’s knife to do the crushing.

Mince the garlic on a cutting board, then sprinkle with the salt. Use the flat side of a chef’s knife to reduce the mixture into a pastelike consistency.

Whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Add the ginger, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, the crushed cumin seed and garlic-salt paste, stirring to form a smooth dressing. Taste, and add the cayenne pepper, if using.

Cut the chicken into bite-size chunks and place in a mixing bowl, along with the cucumber and cilantro. (See the headnote above, regarding the cilantro.) Pour the dressing over and toss to coat. Taste, and season lightly with salt, as needed.

Serve chilled, or at a cool room temperature.

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Give ’em slab pie, and watch your status skyrocket http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/10/give-em-slab-pie-and-watch-your-status-skyrocket/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/10/give-em-slab-pie-and-watch-your-status-skyrocket/#comments Wed, 10 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1006816 Hello, dog days of summer – a time for potlucks, cookouts, family reunions and pool parties. By their very nature, these gatherings are dependent on the guests’ generosity and collective enthusiasm and on, by my reckoning, three key types of contributors: the pick-up artist, the one-dish wonder and the showstopper.

Happy to provide critical essentials, the pick-up artist buys chips or drinks or cold cuts, slaws or salads, cookies or paper goods.

The one-dish wonder arrives with the same tried-and-true platter no matter the occasion. In my neighborhood, Mr. Bishop’s meatballs are legendary: sweet, tangy, perfectly sized. If I went to a gathering and didn’t see them, I would be bereft.

The showstopper is competitive to the core; in a potluck guest, this is by no means a negative quality. As hosts, we count on the sensational contributions from our friends the showstoppers. These are the guests of whom we can ask, “Will you bring a vegetarian dish that will feed a crowd?” Or, “Do you have a dessert for 25?”

A slab pie can put you in the showstopper class. For a winning dessert in the glorious fruit-filled months, nothing beats pie; slab pies are easily transportable and can yield 24 to 36 pieces, so they are a crowd-size contribution. Part pie, part giant Pop-Tart, a slab pie is for crust lovers. It’s easy to serve and easy to eat.

And, as it turns out, easy to make. Even though I am an experienced pie maker, I once feared slab pie. I wasn’t sure I could roll out the dough large enough to cover a rimmed baking sheet. I thought transferring it from the floured counter would be nightmarish.

I’m going to tell you straight: It wasn’t bad. The trick is using plenty of dough. And any patchwork on the bottom crust won’t show.

For my first attempt, I made three standard batches of pie-crust dough, using 1½ batches for each layer. The result was skimpy in the pan. A slab pie needs a significant crust. For the next attempt, I upped the quantity to four batches. The crust was sturdy, not too thin, with plenty of flaky layers, well crimped and pleated at the edge to hold back the flood of fruit juices once the pie started to bake. Every subsequent iteration has only gotten easier. As with so many kitchen techniques, practice really does make perfect.

I like a slab pie with a top crust, as opposed to a streusel topping; it’s a far sturdier option when you’re serving on paper plates. With peaches or apricots, a top crust protects the fruit from overcooking and keeps the filling juicy. And if that top crust tears as you get it situated, steam-vent slashes cover a multitude of sins.

Lattice or other decorated lids are the bailiwick of the showstopper. Go ahead and get fancy.

While four cups of fruit will make a plump nine-inch pie, a slab pie requires a generous six cups. My preference is for a tart taste, using scant sugar, but add more sugar if you prefer a sweeter filling. Herbs and spices added while the fruit macerates can serve as counterpoints to the fruits’ flavor.

Freeze the unbaked pie for an hour, or overnight. Starting with cold pastry in a blazing-hot oven means more flakiness in the bake. The egg wash and sprinkling of sugar help burnish the top; a nicely browned slab pie looks best.

Traveling with a hot pie is never a good idea. Allow plenty of time to let it come to room temperature – about 2 hours – just to be safe. Although it’s fine to make a slab pie the night before the party, I’m a fan of baking the morning of any event. The pie will taste fresher, and the crust is going to retain the snap and flake that will set this dessert apart.

Go ahead. Strut into the potluck, head held high. You’ve got a showstopper dessert.

FRUIT SLAB PIE

Makes 24 to 32 servings

You can crumble almond paste over the fruit filling for a sweeter, richer pie. Leave plenty of time to cool the pie so the filling will firm up before slicing. If apricots are hard to come by, use plums or peaches instead.

You’ll need two 13-by-18-inch baking sheets; the ones that come with a plastic cover are quite handy for transporting.

The fruit needs to macerate and the pie crust dough needs to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight. This pie is best eaten the day it is made, but wrapped well, it makes a superb breakfast.

FOR THE FILLING:

4 pounds apricots, slightly firm (see headnote)

1 cup sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

Three 3-inch sprigs of lemon verbena (optional)

¼ cup cornstarch

12 ounces almond paste, crumbled (not marzipan; optional)

FOR THE CRUST:

5⅓ cups (22 ounces) flour, plus more for the work surface and rolling pin

16 ounces (4 sticks) unsalted butter, diced and frozen

1 cup ice water

2 pinches kosher salt

2 to 3 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream, for brushing

2 tablespoons sugar, for sprinkling

FOR THE FILLING: Cut each apricot in half, remove and discard the pit, then cut each half into 3 or 4 slices. Combine the apricot slices, sugar, lemon juice and lemon verbena, if using, in a glass or ceramic bowl. Stir well to begin to dissolve the sugar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight.

FOR THE CRUST: Lightly flour a work surface. Combine half of the flour and half of the butter in a food processor; pulse about 10 times or until the butter is reduced to small pieces. Add ½ cup of the ice water and a pinch of salt. Run the processor just until dough just comes together in a ball. Transfer to the work surface and shape into a block that’s about 6 inches by 4 inches by 2 inches. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight. Repeat with the remaining flour, butter, ice water and salt.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Make room in the freezer (or the refrigerator) for the baking sheets. Flour a rolling pin and re-flour the work surface; then mark off a space about 20 inches by 15 inches (use tape or place salt and pepper shakers at the four corners). This is your guide.

Roll out one brick of dough out to a final size as close to the guide as possible.

Don’t worry if the dough splits or tears; it will patch easily. Roll the dough up around the pin and then drape it over one of the baking sheets, letting it fall into the corners and edges. Working quickly, lightly press the dough into the baking sheet, trimming (with kitchen scissors) as needed to leave a 1-inch overhang of dough; transfer the baking sheet to cold storage. Repeat with the second brick of dough.

When you’re ready to bake, use the first chilled bottom slab pie shell. Discard the lemon verbena, if using, from the fruit mixture and add the cornstarch, stirring until well incorporated. Pour the fruit and every bit of the sugary syrup into the bottom crust and push it around until evenly distributed. Sprinkle the almond paste over the fruit, if using.

Invert the second chilled slab pie dough over the filling; you no longer need that second baking sheet. Fold and tuck in the dough overhang on both bottom and top moving all the way around the pan, then go back around to decoratively crimp the edges. Cut slits in the top crust (to allow steam to escape). Brush with the milk or cream, then sprinkle with the sugar.

Place the pie on the middle rack of the oven; immediately reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for 55 minutes or until the fruit juices are bubbling and the crust is toasty brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 3 hours before serving.

VARIATION: If apricots are unavailable, peaches or plums work beautifully in this slab pie. While apricots and plums have a tender, edible skin, the peel on a peach is tough and fuzzy. To remove the peach skins, score a shallow “X” in the bottom of each piece of fruit. Carefully drop in batches into a pot of boiling water; blanch for 30 seconds, then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a bowl of ice water to cool. The peels will then slide right off.

Cut the fruit into about 8 or 10 chunky pieces per peach and 6 or 8 per plum.

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How to make the Common Good Cafe popovers http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/10/common-good-cafe-popovers/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/10/common-good-cafe-popovers/#comments Wed, 10 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1006855 Common Good Cafe bakers recommend warming the batter to room temperature before pouring it into the popover pan. Though many recipes recommend preheating the pan, unless it’s very cold outside, they say you needn’t bother.

The staff at the cafe has baked thousands of these popovers, so believe them when they say you will be successful “just about all the time” once you get the hang of their technique. Positive thinking helps, they say.

To ask questions or share photos of your beautiful popovers, email commongoodpopovers@gmail.com.

Makes 6 popovers

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups milk

2 large eggs (½ cup beaten eggs)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Put flour and salt into a bowl. Add milk and mix together gently, by hand or with a mixer set to low. Beat eggs separately. Mix the beaten eggs into the bowl. The batter should have the consistency of heavy cream. A few small lumps or bubbles are fine.

Grease the baking cups of a popover pan or muffin tin with cooking spray or brush with shortening. Take care to grease the bottom, as that is where popovers tend to stick.

Pour batter into each baking cup, filling it two-thirds full. Place the filled pan on a medium-high oven rack leaving room for the “pop.” Bake for 20 minutes.

Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake 18-20 minutes more.

Do not open the oven door while the popovers are baking.

Remove the pan from the oven and let the popovers cool. Serve with butter and/or jam.

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Overly tempted at farmers market? Here’s how to use it all. http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/07/green-plate-special-eyes-bigger-than-your-stomach-at-the-height-of-farmers-market-season/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/07/green-plate-special-eyes-bigger-than-your-stomach-at-the-height-of-farmers-market-season/#comments Sun, 07 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=999664 Farmers market wooden tokens and portable point of sale systems have wreaked havoc on my already challenged sense of staying inside the lines of my food budget. As the market stalls overflow with gorgeous summer produce, I want it all. Each type of slicing tomato; every bouquet of herbs; all the lovely heads of lettuce; yellow, green and purple beans; peak of summer corn; experimental melons; bright berries by the quart; radishes and baby turnips in all sizes; and chili peppers running up and down the Scoville scale.

You see my problem? As recently as five years ago, I was kept in check by the cash in my wallet, as credit cards were useless at farmers markets. But electronic payment systems have enabled my eyes to become bigger than my family’s collective stomach on any given market day.

Rather than heeding my husband’s fiscal warnings to buy only what we can eat until the next market day, I have developed four kitchen behaviors to make sure that none of the extraneous produce that lands here goes to waste.

Firstly, take the time on market day to prep produce for longer-term storage. Herbs look artfully trendy sitting in a mason jar on the counter. But they will last much longer if you wrap them loosely in a clean flour-sack towel and store them, labeled (I keep masking tape and a Sharpie on the kitchen counter) in the very front of the vegetable crisper. Don’t wash the herbs until just before you want to use them, as water will hurry decomposition.

Lovely lettuces should get washed, torn into pieces and twirled in the salad spinner before they, too, are wrapped and stored, for easy salad pickings.

For heartier greens like kale and chard and edible leaves that come attached to any root vegetables, it’s best to remove the leaves from their stems in bite-sized pieces (save the stems for green smoothies or to be chopped and sautéed). Wash and spin them dry and place them front and center in the refrigerator so that every time you open the door, your mind registers the sub-conscious message of “USE ME”!

That subliminal message brings me to breakfast, my second secret weapon for using up produce. Berries, breads and eggs are obvious morning mealtime items. But you can also train yourself to use any kind of market bounty for breakfast. I started by grating surplus tomatoes on toast for my daughter and graduated to greens sautéed in reserved bacon grease sitting under my fried egg and/or next to my toast, another easy way to routinely green up breakfast. If I’m cooking to impress overnight guests with little effort, a savory Dutch baby (see recipe) gets herbs and greens into eaters early in the day.

Thirdly, I make sure eggplant, bell peppers, summer squash and zucchini get eaten throughout the week by grilling them en masse on market day. Firing up the grill just once conserves energy, and having the vegetables already cooked means they can easily be included in lunchtime sandwiches and quick dinners.

And finally, I put up a few jars of something. For many people, preserving the summer bounty conjures up long, hot days in a steamy kitchen preserving gobs of stuff. But it simply doesn’t have to be that big of a production. Three jars of pickled beets or dilly beans takes fewer than 45 minutes to pull off and are just as welcome on a gray February day as any big batch jar would be.

CHRISTINE BURNS RUDALEVIGE is a food writer, a recipe developer and tester, and a cooking teacher in Brunswick. Contact her at: cburn1227@gmail.com.

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How to make a salad that everyone wants to eat http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/how-to-make-a-salad-that-everyone-wants-to-eat/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/how-to-make-a-salad-that-everyone-wants-to-eat/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=996020 There was a time when the word “salad” referred to little more than a pile of iceberg lettuce. It was ornamentation, sometimes doused in a sickly-sweet, carrot-colored dressing described, inexplicably, as “French.”

No one then may have actually wanted to eat a salad. It was punishment, a self-flagellation for all the truly delicious things we had been eating, for the jiggle we were slowly accruing. If you threw in a couple of cherry tomatoes and a few croutons so stale they resembled moon rocks, you could tote one of those travesties to a summer potluck, and people would practically thank you for bringing something healthful.

Then, something happened. A trend that traces right back to the produce aisles and to the boom in farmers markets, places where vegetables such as sweet potatoes, mache, turnip greens and ramps have turned up anew.

We have more ingredients within our reach. We also have more notions about how we might prepare them: Should we grill or spiralize? Go raw or serve our vegetables slightly warm?

Amid all that change, the pallid pile of lettuce and bacon bits went out. Complexity is in. And a modern salad can require as much thinking – and, occasionally, cooking – as an elaborate main course. These days, it often is the main course. If your salad making skills haven’t quite kept pace, one could hardly blame you.

“When you have all these ingredients, that’s the hard part,” says Michael Stebner, culinary director for the salad chain Sweetgreen, which dishes up bowls with as many as eight components, some of them as labor-intensive as spicy, blackened broccoli or baked falafel. We all wonder, he says, “How am I going to compose a salad that isn’t confusing?”

Here’s how: Follow these tips from Stebner for upping your salad game.

Pluck one or two in-season vegetables to be your salad’s stars.

Homing in on a few main flavors will help keep even an elaborate salad grounded. Let the season dictate what those flavors should be.

“Don’t go to the market expecting to find something, and, if you don’t find it, your plans are ruined,” says Stebner. Choose what’s sprouting up all over the markets you frequent. At the height of summer, it might be sweet corn and tomatoes, which Stebner picked to demonstrate how to compose a summer salad. Whatever you choose, however, it will taste better when it’s in season.

More about seasonality: When the market is spilling over with vegetables at the height of summer, fight the urge to turn on the oven and, say, roast sweet potatoes. “This time of year, for me, it’s about not cooking,” Stebner says. If you’re using in-season vegetables, they will be at their ripest and sweetest, and you can absolutely eat them raw, with a hint of seasoning. “The ingredients do all the work,” Stebner says. (Worthy exception: making use of the grill and your stockpile of briquettes to blacken corn, chilies or, if you’re feeling really rock ‘n’ roll, romaine lettuce.)

Once the weather turns and you’re staring down piles of cauliflower, potatoes and Brussels sprouts, by all means, turn on the oven and roast them, and season heavily. “In the winter,” Stebner says, “you’re going for deeper, more rich flavors.”

You’re going to need some inspiration.

You’ve arrived at the most confounding moment in salad making: What do you add now?

Having a game plan helps, and how you arrive at it varies. Maybe you want to tweak a Caesar salad, or channel the flavors of shawarma. Or you can let the market guide you. Stebner likes to heed the old farming proverb “what grows together, goes together”; it’s why he chose to pair corn with tomatoes, because both reach their peak at roughly the same time of year. It also explains why, in the chillier months, crunchy beets pair so perfectly with winter citrus such as grapefruit and blood orange.

You can also look for cultural inspiration in the ingredients you have on hand. Stebner kicked around a faintly Italian theme that would pair his market finds with basil and a burrata or mozzarella cheese. But then he grabbed a few sweet peppers and avocados, and his concept changed. He reached for chewy, mild halloumi cheese and then could see he had in hand exactly what he needed for a meatless dish with a tinge of Latin American influence: a marinated corn salad with peppers and avocado.

Layer in textures and flavors.

Now it’s time to pile in chewy and crunchy elements and herbs that will add spice, acid, sweetness or creaminess to your salad.

Proteins such as chicken and tofu can turn a side salad into an entree, but so can wheat berries, farro and quinoa, which pack protein, iron and a nutty flavor.

For a funkiness that complements bitter lettuces and sour vinegars, Stebner frequently turns to goat cheeses. “We’re looking for umami, we’re looking for richness. And cheese is going to give you that,” he says. But for his corn salad, he used halloumi, a mild, buttery Mediterranean cheese that becomes chewy when tossed into a grill pan. It adds a warm element to Stebner’s cool, mostly raw salad.

For creaminess, bypass ranch dressing and try wedges of ripe avocado. There are myriad ways to add something crunchy, too: Toast almonds or even tiny kernels of raw quinoa in a dry pan until they’re golden, and toss them in. Or throw in chia seeds, which won’t add flavor, Stebner says, but will pack a nutritional punch.

With the tomatoes, corn and peppers going into his salad raw – they’ll contribute that crunch – Stebner lightly marinated them, giving them an hour to soak in a bath of vinegar and oil. Another pro tip: He blended some smoked salt into his dressing to add a faint taste of the grill without having to sweat over real flames.

Stebner suggests using a few almost imperceptible sprigs of in-season herbs such as basil, mint, tarragon and parsley; they, too, can add zip to your greens.

Practice your knife skills.

Because raw onion slices the size of the rings of Saturn have no place in your salad.

To make sure every bite has an ideal mix of flavors, cut or tear your ingredients so they’re about the same size, says Stebner. Thinly shave a radish to temper its punch. Dice that onion.

No thick, orange cubes of cheddar cheese, no enormous hunks of roasted Brussels sprouts, no cherry tomatoes tossed in whole. Bite-size cuts will play nicer together.

Kale is (somehow!) still trendy. But not every salad should be a kale salad.

“Lettuce is a main player in a salad,” says Stebner.

He suggests considering flavor and texture when deciding which greens will best complement your starring ingredients. Arugula is flavorful, all peppery bite. Mesclun, tender and neutral. Iceberg is earthy, if otherwise lacking in flavor, but it can provide crunch the others don’t.

If your main ingredient is sweet, as with Stebner’s corn salad, or if you’re making a peach or watermelon salad, arugula’s savory qualities can spice things up. In the raw corn salad, it adds “an herbal, peppery flavor that is going to go against the sweet, ripe flavor of the corn,” says Stebner. “It’s my favorite, because it has so much flavor and so much character.”

And when you’re working with stronger flavors, such as roasted vegetables, and mushier textures, reach for crunchy, mild greens such as gem lettuce and romaine.

OK, now throw in a little kale.

Or better, watercress, chard, or mustard or beet greens.

A salad isn’t an either-or equation. If you’re worried that your delicious salad is also shaping up to be a nutritionally vacuous one, slipping in a few healthful vegetables won’t turn it into a macrobiotic yoga meal only Gwyneth Paltrow could enjoy. Stebner advises mixing up your lettuces, cutting a crowd-pleasing spring mix with a few ragged leaves of kale. The easy-to-digest greens will help the healthful ones seem a little more palatable to your salad-averse friends, plus they can add texture to your salad: In Stebner’s corn salad, arugula brings flavor, but its leaves can quickly go limp. He adds butter lettuce, a sweet, crisp green, to amplify the volume and add bite.

Don’t pile on.

It’s a salad, not a three-ring circus. It’s entirely possible to have too many crunchy, salty and smoky elements doing back flips for any one player in your salad to make an impression. “Adding more ingredients doesn’t improve the flavor, and too many can make it muddy and confusing,” says Stebner.

Make your dressing at home.

Bottled dressings are convenient, but a basic homemade dressing takes only a whisk and a few ingredients probably already on your shelves. Stebner makes a pantry-friendly dressing by mincing garlic to release its flavor and blending it with sherry vinegar, smoked salt and olive oil. “Sherry vinegar is more nuanced,” says Stebner, preferable in the summer to the overused balsamic. In the fall, he suggests trying apple cider vinegar. (It will play nicely with a tart fall apple salad.) To help emulsify the dressing so the oil and vinegar are combined into one rich mix that won’t separate before you’re ready to toss it all together, he loves using an immersion (stick) blender.

n Now, break out the tongs and toss. And keep at it till every leafy green appears coated.

Now is not the time to fret about calories or to defer to your aunt who asks for dressing on the side. Your salad is ready when every element is dressed. Says Stebner: “It doesn’t have to have a ton of dressing. If it’s mixed well, it does the work.”

MARINATED CORN, TOMATO AND HALLOUMI SALAD

This Latin American-inspired salad ups the ante on the ripe, sweet quality of summer vegetables by marinating them briefly. Adding a smoked salt to the dressing imparts a subtle grilled flavor.

To save a cooking step, buy precooked quinoa or wheat berries.

To augment the salad’s Latin American inspiration, add a tablespoon of chopped cilantro.

Adapted from a recipe from Michael Stebner, culinary director at Sweetgreen.

Note: The vegetables need to marinate for 1 hour ahead of time.

FOR THE SALAD:

2 small sweet chili peppers in various colors, seeded and thinly sliced

1/2 poblano pepper, seeded and cut into thin, bite-size pieces

1/2 pint (3/4 cup) cherry tomatoes, each cut in half

Kernels from 2 ears sweet corn

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

One 6-ounce piece halloumi cheese, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 head butter lettuce or Bibb lettuce, washed, dried, and cut or torn into large pieces

4 cups packed arugula, washed and dried

Flesh of 1 large, firm avocado, cut into bite-size chunks

1 cup cooked, cooled quinoa

1 cup cooked, cooled wheat berries

FOR THE DRESSING:

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

1 to 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon smoked salt

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad: Combine the sweet chili peppers, poblano pepper, tomatoes, corn, sherry vinegar and oil in a medium bowl. Season with a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper; toss gently to incorporate. Marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: Combine the garlic, sherry vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes (to taste) and smoked salt in a mixing bowl. Gradually drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly, just long enough to lightly emulsify the dressing.

Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Add the halloumi; cook for about 30 seconds on each side or until browned in spots. The texture should be firm and slightly chewy. Let cool slightly, then cut into bite-size pieces, about the same size as the avocado and cherry tomatoes.

Combine the butter lettuce and arugula, avocado, pan-grilled halloumi pieces, wheat berries, quinoa and the lightly marinated vegetables in a large serving bowl. Gradually pour in the dressing, adding just enough to coat; toss well. (You might not use all the dressing.)

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Ployes find a new audience – vegan eaters http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/vegan-kitchenployes-find-a-new-audience-vegan-eaters/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/vegan-kitchenployes-find-a-new-audience-vegan-eaters/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=996026 Ployes may have a meaty history, but this traditional regional food is steadily gaining vegan street cred.

Made from buckwheat flour, wheat flour, salt and a leavening agent, ployes are a griddle cake associated with the French Acadian communities of eastern Canada and northern Maine. Though traditionally eaten with chicken stew, hot dogs and other meat-based meals, ployes have been embraced by Maine’s vegan community.

They’re also a familiar part of Maine’s natural-food scene. Most health food stores stock the mix made by Bouchard Family Farms in Fort Kent. At Local Sprouts Cooperative Cafe in Portland, the Bouchard Family Farms’ ployes show up on the breakfast menu as a vegan pancake. (The addition of water turns the dry ingredients into a batter.)

They’re a unique Maine product,” said Leslie Hogan, who is a worker-owner at Local Sprouts. “The fact that they are vegan and cholesterol-free and sugar-free and contain no eggs or dairy is also appealing to a lot of our customers.”

Local Sprouts, which focuses on local foods, has served ployes since it opened six years ago, Hogan said, adding, “I don’t think we could take them away.”

Far beyond Portland’s vegan-friendly cafes, Janice Bouchard in Fort Kent said, “We feel the vegan love.”

Bouchard, an owner of Bouchard Family Farms, said the company has brought its ployes to vegetarian festivals in Portland and Boston, where it’s “amazing how many people were attracted to ployes and wanted to know more.”

Here in Maine, many people rely on a packaged mix to make ployes and, in fact, Bouchard Family Farms is often credited with keeping the tradition of ployes alive in the age of microwaves and drive-thrus. I myself grew up in Litchfield with two working parents, who adopted the mix when Bouchard Family Farms introduced it in the early 1980s. Ployes began showing up at our dinner table, stacked and topped with maple syrup, fruits and nuts as a “breakfast for dinner” treat.

A new Maine-made ployes mix is scheduled to hit the market in late summer or early fall. Vassalboro-based Fiddler’s Green Farm is launching a certified organic ployes mix made with Maine-grown tartary buckwheat flour.

“It’s a heritage flour more traditional for northern Maine than the Japanese buckwheat flour that has a larger presence in the market,” said Robert Ericksen, miller and manager at Fiddler’s Green. “The tartary buckwheat’s got a little bit more of a yellowish color, and it’s a lighter flavor.”

Fiddler’s Green, which mills and packages organic porridges, baking mixes and other bulk foods, distributes locally through Crown O’Maine Organic Cooperative and New Hampshire-based Associated Buyers. It also does a brisk trade online, much of it with out-of-staters. Because of its customer base, the company plans to market the product as a flatbread mix, a term Ericksen said is “more accessible to people who don’t know what a ploye is.”

“Up to this point, it’s been a cloistered regional food,” he added.

The Fiddler’s Green team hopes the wording will help broaden the geographic appeal of ployes.

“I like a hearty breakfast, and not eating eggs can be a challenge,” said Beth Gallie, a vegan who has eaten ployes for more than a decade. “Ployes are great because they are tasty, nutritious, very easy to make and do not require eggs.”

Gallie is president of the Maine Animal Coalition, which hosts the annual Vegetarian Food Festival in Portland.

Karen Coker, a vegan and a founder of the Portland-based educational group Plant IQ, likes the pancake’s nutritional qualities.

“Ployes appeal to plant-based eaters because they’re free of eggs and dairy,” Coker said, “and they appeal to Plant IQ’s members because they’re also free of added oil, which we strive to avoid because it’s so calorie-dense and has little nutritional value.”

Plant IQ is a local group associated with the 2015 documentary “Plant Pure Nation,” which advocates for an oil-free, plant-based style of eating.

“Buckwheat is high in essential nutrients and an important group of antioxidants called bound antioxidants,” Coker continued. “Ployes are a great alternative to white flour pancakes and flatbreads, especially when topped with fresh fruits or savory vegetables, instead of loaded with sugary syrups.”

Jennifer McCann of Washington state includes a recipe for ployes in her book “Vegan Lunch Box Around the World: 125 Easy, International Lunches Kids and Grown-Ups Will Love!” as part of her Canadian menu, which also features maple syrup, vegan Canadian bacon, steamed fiddleheads and dried blueberries.

“They’re already vegan, so I didn’t have to do any substituting or veganizing,” McCann said, “and they’re wonderful rolled up and packed with a container of maple syrup for dipping or some baked beans for an on-the-go breakfast or lunch.”

Traditionally, ployes are cooked without flipping them, which creates the distinctive air holes on top, similar to French crepes or Ethopian inerja bread. McCann lets the batter sit for 30 minutes before cooking, as many crepe recipes also suggest. The Bouchard mix sits for just five minutes before it is cooked.

At Local Sprouts, the ployes can look either more puffy and pancakelike or more thin and crepelike, depending on who is cooking and the culinary tricks they employ, Hogan said. But no matter who is behind the spatula, she assured me, Local Sprouts isn’t “making your grandma’s ployes.”

Instead they’re making Acadian Ployes Pancakes, vegan.

Avery Yale Kamila is a freelance food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at:

avery.kamila@gmail.com

PLOYES

This recipe comes from “Vegan Lunch Box Around the World: 125 Easy, International Lunches Kids and Grown-Ups Will Love!” by Jennifer McCann.

Makes 8 ployes

1 cup buckwheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Sift the flours, baking powder and salt together into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add 1½ cups cold water and whisk until smooth. Add ½ cup boiling water and stir to combine.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the batter sit for 30 minutes. Toward the end of that time, begin heating a nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.

Pour ⅓ cup batter onto the hot, ungreased skillet. The batter should be the consistency of cake batter and should spread out on its own to form a thin, round ploye 6 to 7 inches across. If it’s too thick, add extra water to the mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Cook without turning until the bottom is crisp and the top is dry and dotted with large holes, about 2 minutes. Remove from the skillet and serve. Repeat with the remaining batter.

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Daunting at first, ‘Good Things to Drink with Mr. Lyan and Friends’ offers simple cocktail recipes http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/cookbook-review-at-first-glance-some-of-the-recipes-in-good-things-to-drink-with-mr-lyan-and-friends-looked-much-too-complicated/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/cookbook-review-at-first-glance-some-of-the-recipes-in-good-things-to-drink-with-mr-lyan-and-friends-looked-much-too-complicated/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=996041 My first impression of “Good Things to Drink” was that it was pretentious and impractical.

Flipping through the pages, it seemed the recipes were either insultingly simplistic (who needs instructions for making a gin and tonic?) or something that I can’t imagine anyone actually following, other than a bartender at a fancy cocktail lounge – someone like Ryan Chetiyawardana, a celebrated mixologist from London, known by his nickname, Mr Lyan, and the author of this cookbook.

I don’t know about you, but I am not about to bake up some eggplant chips as a garnish for drinks for me and a couple friends.

I picked up the book in the hopes of finding a punch or some other large-batch drink to make during my upcoming vacation, either for entertaining or to keep in a pitcher for whenever I felt like a fun, refreshing cocktail.

I figured there had to be something suitable within the inch-thick hard cover. A quick look through the index, where the book is broken down into several sections from “Market Fresh” to “Winter Feasting,” led me to “Summer Social Sips,” which sounded exactly like what I was seeking.

There was a recipe for a punch that seemed promising, but the main ingredient was apple juice – not my favorite. The following two recipes showed pictures of refreshing-looking drinks in pitchers with lemon rinds, both made with scotch, also not my first choice.

Then, there was a section within the section called “infusions.” I figured I would’ve had to start making these a month in advance, but that wasn’t the case.

It can be a bit of work preparing the infusion for Grapefruit and Rosemary Gin with Ginger Ale, but it's well worth the effort.

It can be a bit of work preparing the infusion for Grapefruit and Rosemary Gin with Ginger Ale, but it’s well worth the effort.

The recipe for grapefruit and rosemary gin with ginger ale used some of my favorite flavors and didn’t require that I purchase ingredients like green chartreuse that I’d never use again.

Making the infusion seemed simple enough too, with the booze needing just a few hours in the fridge to infuse. In a weeklong vacation, I could find time for that.

Starting a little too close to cocktail hour, I gave it just two hours before giving it a taste. I was worried the flavors wouldn’t have fully infused but I was wrong. I was also worried the ginger ale would overpower the infusion. Wrong again.

What I got was a deliciously refreshing cocktail with a flavor all its own. If I hadn’t known the ingredients in it, I probably could not have guessed them. I had a second serving of the infusion with tonic instead of ginger ale, as the recipe offers as an alternative, and that made for another distinctly flavored drink.

As with all the recipes in the book, a second preparation was proposed. It used the flesh of the grapefruit in addition to the peel but warned that the drink’s fuller flavor could get old quick. Even with just the peel, I found the infusion to be pretty bold.

Surprised by the simplicity and success of my first recipe, I started reading the cookbook more closely. In his introduction, Chetiyawardana notes that the recipes should act as inspirations and needn’t be followed to a T. It hit me that the recipes were the opposite of what I had initially thought. They were fairly simple ways to make very impressive cocktails. A breakdown of essential bar equipment at the beginning of the book shows no huge investment is needed to become a home barkeep.

And there’s sure to be something to fit anyone’s tastes and time constraints among the dozens of recipes that incorporate various ingredients and require different levels of commitment – which, for the most part, is less than I would have thought.

Soon, I was considering whipping up a quick rhubarb syrup for the next one.

GRAPEFRUIT AND ROSEMARY GIN WITH GINGER ALE

3 grapefruits

100g/4oz sugar

2 sprigs rosemary

1 bottle London dry gin

Cubed ice

Chilled ginger ale, to finish

Grapefruit, to garnish

Zest the grapefruit using a peeler.

Add the peel along with the sugar, rosemary and gin to a large jar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Allow to infuse for a few hours (or up to a day), then strain through a sieve. Store in the fridge.

To serve, fill a highball with cubes of ice and add 2 shots of the infusion. Top with chilled ginger ale, stir and add a slice of grapefruit.

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Carrots go from zzzzz to zesty after a visit to Morocco http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/carrots-go-from-zzzzz-to-zesty-after-a-visit-to-morocco/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/carrots-go-from-zzzzz-to-zesty-after-a-visit-to-morocco/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=995978 Serving a couple of vegetables every night at dinner is a great strategy for families with picky eaters.

Offering young kids a choice (“Would you like green beans or parsnips or both tonight?”) gives them a small but important sense of efficacy, while also helping to demystify ingredients that are served (non-threateningly) at the table. And for the rest of us, eating a couple of vegetables with each meal is a great opportunity to get in the variety of nutrients that keeps us healthy.

But two vegetables a night adds up quickly, and we can find ourselves a little lost for creative preparations, especially when time is short.

One of my favorite ways to cook veggies quickly (even thicker root veggies) is the pan-sauté/steam method. It’s quick and melds the best of sautéing (a little fat and flavor) and steaming (speedy cooking without bland boiling).

Start by adding a little fat to a sauté pan. I love coconut oil for the healthy benefits and slightly nutty and exotic notes it adds to the veggies, but any neutral oil will do.

Sauté the veggies for a couple of minutes, adding in whatever spices or aromatics you have around the house that your family loves. You can go simple with shallots or garlic or more complex with curry paste or Chinese five-spice powder.

Next, add liquid – water, broth, citrus juice – and cover to steam for a few minutes. Once the veggies are crisp-tender from the steam, uncover the pan and allow the liquid to evaporate, leaving the veggies in a tasty and simple glaze. Top with some kind of acid – lime juice, or tangy plain yogurt both work well with a variety of flavors.

And the final touch? Something crunchy (like pumpkin seeds or chopped nuts) and something fresh like chopped basil, cilantro or mint. The perfect veggie plan for weeknights.

MOROCCAN SPICED CARROTS WITH YOGURT SAUCE

Makes 4 servings

1 pound baby carrots, peeled and greens removed

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon mustard seed

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

3/4 teaspoon ras el hanout (Moroccan seasoning)

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Sauce:

1/4 cup plain Greek lowfat yogurt

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons toasted chopped walnuts

Torn mint leaves for garnish

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Cook the mustard seed in coconut oil until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cumin, ras el hanout, paprika, granulated garlic and stir. Add the carrots and salt and stir to coat carrots with spices, and cook until the spices are deep in color, stirring, about 3 minutes.

Then deglaze the pan with stock and lime juice. Cover the pan and let steam for 3 minutes, then uncover and cook until liquid evaporates, another 2 minutes.

Meanwhile make the sauce by mixing yogurt, lime juice, smoked paprika and salt in a small bowl. Lay the carrots on a platter and spoon some yogurt over the carrots. Top with walnuts and mint leaves to serve.

Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is the author of the cookbook “Supermarket Healthy.”

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Grilled lamb: Minimal prep yields maximum flavor http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/grilled-lamb-minimal-prep-yields-maximum-flavor/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/grilled-lamb-minimal-prep-yields-maximum-flavor/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=996002 This recipe sounds, looks and tastes fancy, but it takes only a few steps of preparation and some simple assembly.

It’s one of those recipes that demands the best ingredients you can afford; it will make a difference. You can also use rib lamb chops, which are a bit pricier.

Play around with the herb and lettuce mixture. Any assortment of tender lettuces and fresh herbs will be lovely atop the rich grilled chops and tender, smoky onions. Grilling the lemons with the lamb and onions caramelizes them, and the juice you sprinkle over the finished dish will have a nice hint of smokiness.

You can let the onions and lemons sit in the marinade at room temperature for an hour or so, or in the fridge for up to 2 days for more flavor.

If you have a vegetable grilling grate, use it. Otherwise, even if you use a wide grilling spatula, you might end up sacrificing a few of the onion rings to the grilling gods.

GRILLED LAMB CHOPS AND ONIONS WITH HERB SALAD

Serves 5

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, preferably white balsamic

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3 large yellow or Vidalia onions

3 lemons, halved crosswise

10 loin lamb chops, about 1-inch thick

2 cups baby arugula

1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

Combine 1/4 cup of the olive oil with the white wine, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper in a shallow baking dish. Peel the onions and cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Place them in the baking dish along with the lemon halves, turn to coat with the marinade (it’s fine to stack the onion slices) and set aside.

Brush the lamb chops with 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil, generously season with salt and pepper, and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat the grill to medium/medium-high.

Grill the onions and the lamb chops for about 8 minutes, about 4 minutes on each side, so that they get nicely browned on both sides. Turn the onions with a grilling spatula (you can use a spatula or tongs for the lamb). At the same time, grill the lemons cut-side down for about 5 minutes. The internal temperature of the lamb chops should be 130 degree Fahrenheit for medium rare.

Remove the chops and lemons from the grill and let sit on a cutting board for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, move the onions to a cooler area of the grill or turn the gas down, and let them continue to soften while the lamb and lemons sit, watching carefully to make sure the onions don’t burn.

While the chops sit and the onions finish cooking, place the arugula and parsley in a medium bowl. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss.

Place the lamb chops and onions on a serving platter. Pile the arugula and herb salad on top. Place the lemon halves on the side so people can squeeze them, or squeeze the juice yourself all over the meal and serve immediately.

Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.”

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Indian condiments bring on both fresh taste and memories http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/indian-condiments-bring-a-lot-to-the-table/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/indian-condiments-bring-a-lot-to-the-table/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=986788 One of the best things about coming home after school in southern India was the array of amazing snacks my mother made for me on different days: green chutney and tomato chutney tea sandwiches; crudités of seasonal vegetables with a tangy yogurt dip; a crunchy salad with fried goodies, potatoes and onions, dressed with a lovely cilantro chutney; chapati flatbreads rolled in cheese and a sweet and tangy relish.

After I grew up and moved several thousand miles away, my method of shunning loneliness and banishing a homesick feeling was to throw together a quick chutney or relish and use it as a dip with pita, tortilla chips or some store-bought baby-cut carrots and celery sticks. It would sometimes morph into a spread for a grilled cheese sandwich or become the topping for a mix of chopped veggies. Occasionally I would spread the chutney on a chapati or tortilla, throw in some vegetables and cheese and make a wrap out of it. It would make a fabulous accompaniment for those quiet times when I just wanted to look through photo books or read old letters and cards.

Gradually, those chutneys (a blended texture) and relishes (distinct textures) evolved. I started playing around with different combinations of the main ingredients alongside what was available locally and seasonally. My yogurt-based raita contained avocado, an uncommon ingredient in the Indian dishes of my youth, or a combination of red onion, carrot and jalapeño.

During graduate school days, I used whichever ingredient was the cheapest. As a young wife and a new employee, I paired my chutneys with interesting flavors, herbs and spices that were local to the area I lived in. As a mom, I introduced flavors such as mango and pineapple that I knew my children would love.

Over the years, the chutneys and relishes that have become go-to favorites have had common characteristics in spice and tang. I like the artisanal look of them, which is to say they rarely come off as manufactured, gooey or saucy. The little surprises – a seed here and a chunk there – charm and tingle the taste buds.

Many of them are better when made ahead of time. Some of them sit well in a refrigerator for up to three days. I even freeze some of the blended chutneys in small condiment jars for a couple of weeks and defrost them just before serving. Any which way, they add color and pizazz to the table.

The accompanying recipes are some of my family’s favorites. Their flavors are intense and bold. They are a fabulous accompaniment to grilled vegetables and proteins. Try tossing a potato salad or sweet potato salad with one of these chutneys. Use the relish as a topping for burgers and sandwiches.

Another simple way of serving them during the summer, besides those mentioned above, is to toast some herby flatbread and top it with fresh greens, grilled veggies and tofu, then garnish with your chutney or relish of choice. That’s a perfect wrap.

Tomato and Garlic Scape Chutney

Tomato and Garlic Scape Chutney Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

TOMATO AND GARLIC SCAPE CHUTNEY

Garlic scapes add a spicy crunch to this pinkish chutney, but if they’re out of season, regular garlic cloves will suffice and bring a slight bite.

This is wonderful as a dressing for a potato salad or as a spread for a grilled sandwich. Also use it as a topping for grilled vegetables and proteins. The tomato paste is optional but adds a lovely color, creaminess and more-intense tomato flavor to the chutney.

The chutney can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

12 servings (makes about 1 1/2 cups)

2 medium (11 ounces total) vine-ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped

4 full stems garlic scapes (may substitute 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon agave nectar

Juice of 1 lime

1 teaspoon tomato paste (optional)

Combine the tomatoes, garlic scapes, salt, cayenne pepper, agave nectar, lime juice and tomato paste, if using, in a food processor. Pulse to the desired consistency.

Use right away, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

SPICY, SWEET AND SOUR PINEAPPLE-JALAPENO RELISH

This fruity relish is wonderful on burgers and flatbreads. It is also great as a dip for pita and chips. Try different variations by replacing the pineapple with mangoes, grapes, plums or a seasonal tart fruit.

The relish needs to be refrigerated in an airtight container for at least 2 hours before serving. It is best served the same day it’s made.

12 servings (makes about 1 1/2 cups)

1 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion (optional)

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

1 medium jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (seeded, if desired, for less heat)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon honey

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine the pineapple; red onion, if using; cilantro; jalapeño; cumin; coriander; salt; honey and lemon juice in a mixing bowl, tossing until well incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

AVOCADO-GINGER RAITA

This a healthful and wonderful creamy sauce with rich flavors. Try it in wraps and as a dip for a crudites platter. The raita also makes a great dressing for chopped salads, coleslaws and potato salads.

For those who love the flavor of avocados, feel free to double up for a more intense avocado flavor.

The raita can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; place plastic wrap directly on the surface.

8 servings (makes 2 cups)

Flesh of 1 large ripe avocado

1 cup plain low-fat Greek-style yogurt

1/4 teaspoon jarred, pureed ginger or fresh peeled minced ginger root

Juice of 1/2 lime

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch sugar

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped mint leaves

1/2 teaspoon good-quality powdered harissa

Mash the avocado in a mixing bowl. Add the yogurt, ginger, lime juice, salt, pepper and sugar, mixing until well combined.

Stir in half of the mint and half of the harissa. Transfer to a serving bowl; garnish with the remaining mint and harissa.

Avocado-Ginger Raita

Avocado-Ginger Raita Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

TART APPLE AND COCONUT CHUTNEY

Chewy and bright-tasting, this unusual chutney makes a great dip or a spread for avocado toast.

Try stirring 1 tablespoon of the chutney into 1/2 cup of buttermilk to make a fresh salad dressing.

Coconut milk powder (not the same as coconut flour) is an optional ingredient here; it adds another layer of coconut flavor, and it is available at health food stores.

The chutney needs to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours, and up to 3 days, before serving. It can be frozen for up to 1 month.

14 servings (makes a generous 13/4 cups)

1 Granny Smith apple, cored and coarsely chopped

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 packed cup desiccated (dried) unsweetened grated coconut

1/4 teaspoon black mustard seed

1/2 teaspoon cumin seed

1 to 2 medium serrano peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons plain low-fat Greek-style yogurt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium clove garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon coconut milk powder (optional; see headnote)

1/4 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro, for garnish

Toss together the apple, lemon juice and salt in a mixing bowl; let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Combine the desiccated coconut, black mustard and cumin seeds, serrano pepper (to taste), yogurt, oil, garlic and coconut milk powder, if using, in a food processor or blender; add the apple mixture and puree until fairly smooth and thick.

Transfer to a serving bowl; garnish with the cilantro.

GREEN CILANTRO AND CUMIN CHUTNEY

This chutney is not for the faint of heart; its flavors are intense and bold. Spread a thin layer on a thick slice of bread and make a grilled cheese sandwich. Add a tablespoon of the chutney to a cup of cream cheese, whip well and use as a dip or as a spread for fresh sandwiches. Spread it on a flatbread, add toppings and make a spicy grilled pizza.

This recipe features jaggery, a naturally processed sugar made from the sap of sugar cane or palm trees. It is available at Indian markets.

The chutney needs to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days before serving.

4 to 6 servings (makes a scant 1/2 cup)

2 cups packed, chopped cilantro leaves (1 3/5 ounces)

1 large jalapeño pepper, coarsely chopped (seeded, if desired, for less heat)

1 1/4 teaspoons cumin seed

1 heaping teaspoon tamarind paste

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon jaggery or dark brown sugar (see headnote)

Combine the cilantro, jalapeño, 1/4 teaspoon of the cumin seed, the tamarind paste, salt and jaggery or brown sugar in a food processor or blender; puree until fairly smooth.

Transfer to a serving bowl; just before serving, sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of cumin.

Visi Tilak, a Massachusetts-based freelance writer, blogs at WorldlyVegetarian.com.

Twitter: visitilak

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Cookbook Review: ‘Simply Ramen: A Complete Course in Preparing Ramen Meals at Home’ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/simply-ramen-a-complete-course-in-preparing-ramen-meals-at-home/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/simply-ramen-a-complete-course-in-preparing-ramen-meals-at-home/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=986806 “Simply Ramen: A Complete Course in Preparing Ramen Meals at Home” by Amy Kimoto-Kahn. Race Point Publishing, $22.99.

Don’t be deceived by the title. There is nothing simple about “Simply Ramen.”

This is a cookbook for the ramen purist, someone willing to devote days to prep in their home kitchen to make steaming hot bowls of the rich, fatty broth and noodles in the Japanese tradition.

The book, by Amy Kimoto-Kahn, is not for the rainy day enthusiast. It’s not for the casual umbrella shaker, stepping off a wet Portland street into Pai Men Miyake hoping to sip beer while gazing through steamy windows for five minutes before a nap-inducing bowl arrives with chop sticks and spoon.

Scott Dolan/Staff Writer

Scott Dolan/Staff Writer

In short, this is not a book for me. But it was a lot of fun figuring that out.

For the uninitiated, let me start by saying that the ramen in Kimoto-Kahn’s beautifully laid-out primer has nothing to do with the four-for-a-dollar cellophane packets of instant noodles in the grocery store.

Each complete ramen meal recipe in Kimoto-Kahn’s book is built on several other base recipes, many that require being made a day or more in advance. Each base recipe calls for dozens of ingredients, some obscure, to yield a complex mix of textures and flavors, from rich meat broth to crispy greens with a mix of savory-sweet toppings and elastic noodles just firm enough to keep from getting soggy in soup.

The book’s cover photo, Oven-Broiled Karaage Curry Ramen, caught my attention from the start. I always like to make cookbook cover recipes. In the photo, the dish looks simple and delicious: a deep, mint-green bowl of golden broth is filled high with noodles, tender-looking chicken, garlic chips and a perfectly halved soft-boiled egg. Arugula leaves and green sheets of nori stick out over the bowl’s edge.

But by the time my girlfriend and I finished shopping for the ingredients, with our bill already over $100, I began to lose heart. Between us, we had assembled all but one of the ingredients, Golden Curry, a boxed curry mix that my editor later informed me is a staple of Japanese instant home cooking.

Walking home one evening from work downtown, I stopped in Sun Oriental Market on Congress Street and quickly located the missing ingredient.

The photo on the box of Golden Curry looked nothing like the beautiful cover photo of Simply Ramen. The “food” shown on the Golden Curry box looked like gelatinous slop, a glistening brown mucous-like liquid I might expect on the lowest grade of wet dog foods.

While at the store, I sent my girlfriend a picture from my phone of the Golden Curry. Here’s an excerpt of our actual text message exchange:

Me: “It has MSG”

Her: “Ugh”

Me: “What should I do?”

Her: “God, it looks disgusting”

Me: “It’s revolting”

Needless to say, I walked out of the store empty-handed. My girlfriend ended up making her own curry powder from an online recipe that looked infinitely more palatable.

The Oven-Broiled Karaage Curry Ramen recipe is actually five recipes, two required and three optional. (Each of the soup recipes in the book requires making one of four soup bases.) Our recipe required a miso base, which we made on the first night. Kimoto-Kahn says it takes 45 minutes, but it took us more than two hours to make and even more time to clean up. The recipe calls for a 1/2 cup of bacon fat. We didn’t have enough (who would?), so we made up the remainder with coconut oil, which “Simply Ramen” suggests as an alternative. When we finally tasted the soup, the coconut oil was overpowering.

We skipped three other steps because we ran out of time: making the ramen noodles (an estimated three-hour task), marinating half-cooked eggs (1 1/2 hours plus two days in the refrigerator) and making batches of garlic chips (under 10 minutes, in theory).

Both my girlfriend and I have full-time jobs that often require us to work late. By the time we finished cooking on the second night and set two bowls of finished ramen on the table, it was nearly midnight.

At first bite, we were both delighted. We were beyond hungry, and it seemed so good. By the third and fourth bite, we found the dish overpoweringly salty and far too rich. Neither of us finished our bowls, and days later, we threw out the leftover miso base. We knew it was wasteful, but neither of us could face more of it.

The karaage, which is the broiled chicken, was the star of the dish. I would make that alone again and again.

But we were baffled by the overall ramen recipe. Why would a writer who outlined each step so meticulously and required so many expensive ingredients then just throw in an instant curry mix? It makes no sense.

In the future, when the rainy day hankering hits, we agreed we’ll save ourselves the effort and the money. We’ll just head to Pai Men Miyake in Longfellow Square.

Our experience, through, cooking from “Simply Ramen” for two intense nights was worth the one-time effort and even the disappointment. If not great soup, at least we came away with a great story.

— Scott Dolan

Photo courtesy of Race Point Publishing

Photo courtesy of Race Point Publishing

OVEN-BROILED KARAAGE CURRY RAMEN

I found the Golden Curry at Sun Oriental Market in Portland.

Serves 6

Preparation time: 1 hour, plus time to make Ramen Soup Base, Ramen Noodles (optional), Marinated Half-Cooked Egg (optional) and Garlic Chips (optional)

1 cup (235 ml) shoyu (soy sauce)

1 cup (200g) sugar

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon grated ginger

¼ cup (60 ml) mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)

1 pound (455 g) chicken thighs

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 red onion, thinly sliced

¼ cup (32 g) cornstarch

1 box Golden Curry (Japanese instant curry)

ADDITIONAL TOPPINGS

1½ lemons, quartered

Roasted sesame seeds, for garnish

1 bunch arugula (or Japanese mizuna lettuce)

3 sheets nori (seaweed), quartered (2 squares per serving)

1. Add shoyu, sugar, garlic and ginger to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the liquid is boiling, remove from heat and add mirin. Let the mixture cool at room temperature.

2. Rinse and pat dry chicken thighs and cut into bite-size pieces.

3. Add chicken to medium-sized bowl and cover with marinade. Refrigerate and let marinate for at least 1 hour.

4. Heat sesame oil in medium-sized skillet one medium-high heat. Add red onion and sauté until charred around edges. Set aside.

5. Set oven rack at top of the oven and preheat the broiler.

6. Drain excess marinade from bowl of chicken and sprinkle chicken with cornstarch until all the pieces are liberally coated.

7. Place the chicken on a parchment-lined baking sheet, making sure that no pieces are touching.

8. Broil for about 6 minutes, then flip and broil for an additional 5 minutes or until they are crispy and brown. Watch closely so they do not burn, as ovens will vary.

9. Set aside chicken on a wire rack to cool.

10. Boil a pot of water for the noodles. In a separate saucepan, combine 2 1/4 cups (530 ml) Miso Base (see recipe), 12 cups (2.8 L) of chicken or vegetable stock and 6 Golden Curry bouillons squares to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer until it’s ready to serve. Note: It’s 3 tablespoons base to every 1 cup (235 ml) chicken or vegetable stock. Use about 2 cups (475 ml) soup per serving. Right before serving, crank it back up to boil.

11. Boil the noodles – if fresh, boil for about one minute; if packaged, boil for about two minutes. As soon as they’re done, drain well and separate into serving bowls.

12. Pour 2 cups (475 ml) soup over each bowl of noodles. Top with pieces of chicken karaage, sautéed red onions, arugula, marinated half-cooked egg and garlic chips. Sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds and slip two nori sheets into the broth. Squeeze lemon juice over the top just before serving.

986806_834490 broth.jpg

MISO BASE

Serves up to 12

Preparation time: 45 minutes

1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and cut into large dice

½ onion, peeled and cut into large dice

½ apple, cored, peeled and cut into large dice

1 celery stalk, cut into large dice

3 garlic cloves

½ cup (120 ml) bacon fat (recommended), ghee or coconut oil

2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided

1½ cups (340 g) ground pork

2 teaspoons fresh ground ginger

1 teaspoon sriracha

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon kelp granules (optional but not recommended)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground sesame seed paste or tahini

¾ cup (175 ml) shiro miso (white miso, which is lighter and sweeter)

¾ cup (175 ml) akamiso (red miso, which is darker and saltier)

Low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock – 2 cups (475 ml) per serving based on the number of servings

1. Add the carrot, onion, apple, celery and garlic to a food processor. Pulse into a fine chop. If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop these ingredients by hand.

2. Add the bacon fat and 1 tablespoon sesame oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the finely chopped fruit and vegetables and cook until the onions are translucent and the apple is tender, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes. When done, turn heat down to medium-low.

3. Add the ground pork to the cooked vegetable mixture. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the ginger, sriracha, soy sauce, kelp granules, apple cider vinegar and salt. Incorporate well.

4. Return the entire mixture to the food processor and pulse until pork is finely ground. If you don’t have a food processor, then use a potato masher or wooden spoon to break the mixture into very small pieces in the skillet.

5. Add the sesame seed paste and the miso to the ground pork mixture and mix well. It should have the consistency of a thick paste. Your base is done.

6. Bring the Miso Base and chicken or vegetable stock to a boil (depending on the number of people you are serving, use the ratio of 3 tablespoons Miso Base to 1 cup (235 ml) chicken or vegetable stock). Lower heat and let simmer until it’s ready to serve. Use about 2 cups (475 ml) soup per serving. Lower heat and let simmer until it’s ready to serve. Right before serving, crank up the heat to boil the soup.

7. Pour 2 cups soup (475 ml) over each bowl of noodles. Top each bowl with desired toppings.

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Bake-ahead egg cups combat morning scramble http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/bake-ahead-egg-cups-combat-morning-scramble/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/bake-ahead-egg-cups-combat-morning-scramble/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=986821 When it comes to healthy eating, good intentions and willpower can only take us so far. That’s why I believe strongly in making the healthy choice the easy choice, especially when it comes to morning decisions.

Spending a little time to set myself up for success makes a huge difference in my ability to stick to my healthy living plans. For instance, I set out my workout clothes the night before, so rolling out of bed and into them is a no-brainer. Should the extra 15-seconds that it would take for me to open the dresser drawer to grab my exercise clothes be the thing that derails an entire workout? Perhaps not. But alas it does. For me, anyway.

Same thing can happen when it comes to food. When I’m hungry and in a rush, I’m far more likely to grab just anything that will fill my belly. But I’ll absolutely eat a healthy protein-filled breakfast if it’s all prepped and ready to go.

In fact, my whole family eats better when I invest a little time cooking and stocking my freezer with my own version of “fast food.” One of our favorites is the morning egg muffin, which is essentially scrambled eggs baked up in muffin tins.

I make a dozen or two on weekends to keep in the freezer and in less than two microwave minutes, we have a weekday breakfast that is chock-full of filling protein. My secret: I use two eggs to get some of that luscious fat, flavor, and color from the yolk and then load up on serious-protein egg whites.

Use whatever veggies you have on hand, and don’t be shy about loading up – even my two pickiest kiddos love these little guys! Make several flavors when you find eggs on sale, and you’ll have a veritable morning buffet of protein for weeks. No last minute drive-thrus to stave off the hunger on the way to work.

BAKE-AHEAD MORNING EGG CUPS

Makes 12 servings

1 link turkey Italian sausage, about 3 ounces, crumbled

1/2 red pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped onion

1 tablespoons flour (all purpose or rice flour both work)

1 1/2 cups baby spinach, washed

2 eggs

3/4 cup egg whites (about 7 egg whites)

1/4 cup lowfat milk

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a saute pan, cook the sausage over medium high heat until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the pepper and chopped onion and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and stir in.

Chop the spinach and stir into the pan, and cook another minute for spinach to wilt. Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites and milk until pale yellow and smooth. Stir in the sausage mixture and cheese.

Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick spray. Spoon the mixture into the tin. Bake until eggs are firm but not dry, about 15 minutes. Let cool in the muffin tins for 10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool on a baking rack.

Eat right away, or freeze in a resealable freezer bag. Label well! To microwave for breakfast: Wrap in a paper towel and heat on 70 percent heat until hot, about 90 seconds, depending on microwave strength.

Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is the author of the cookbook “Supermarket Healthy.”

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The Maine Ingredient: Elegant summer fruit and vegetable hors d’oeuvres ready in an instant http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/the-maine-ingredientwith-just-a-few-minutes-work-you-can-make-elegant-almost-instant-summer-fruit-and-vegetable-hors-doeuvres/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/the-maine-ingredientwith-just-a-few-minutes-work-you-can-make-elegant-almost-instant-summer-fruit-and-vegetable-hors-doeuvres/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=986827 Summer fruits and vegetables are delicious unto themselves for sure, but I also like to add a bit of richness when using them raw as pre-dinner hors d’oeuvre. Here are three examples of just such combinations, which I hope will inspire you to create your own permutations for similar pre-dinner nibble.

WATERMELON AND FETA PICKS

This is a lovely riff on the by-now classic watermelon and feta salad, and the picks are as pretty to look at as they are delicious to eat. You can assemble the picks up to about two hours ahead, store them loosely covered in the refrigerator, and place them on their bed of oil and vinegar at the last minute. You’ll need toothpicks to make this recipe.

Makes about 32 picks

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

6 ounce chunk of feta (not crumbles)

About 1 pound watermelon

Small rosemary sprigs (about 3 leaves each)

Freshly ground black pepper

Pour oil and vinegar on a serving platter and tilt to coat platter.

Cut feta into ½- to ¾-inch squares. Slice watermelon, remove rind, and cut into same size squares. Pierce cheese with toothpick, add watermelon square, and stand upright on platter. Continue with remaining cheese and watermelon. Garnish each with a rosemary sprig, and grind black pepper over all.

SMOKED SALMON MOUSSE ON CUCUMBER

I can find at least three brands of salmon mousse (sometimes labeled as “salmon pate”) at my supermarket. Typical ingredients are cream cheese, chopped smoked salmon, sometimes cream and various seasonings. Some brands (usually the less expensive products) are looser and runnier than you want for this recipe, so try to get one with some body and plenty of delicious smoked salmon flavor. If you don’t have a pastry bag, simply spoon or spread the mousse onto the cucumber rounds. Taste the mousse; if it already contains dill or another herb, you may not want to add the chopped dill.

Makes about 24 canapes

1 long English seedless cucumber

1 small (7-ounce) container good quality smoked salmon mousse

2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill, if desired, and dill sprigs

Freshly ground black pepper

Use a fork to score cucumber down its length all around its circumference. Cut into ¼- to ½-inch slices, thick enough so they can be picked up by hand. Arrange on serving tray.

Mash mousse with a fork to soften a bit if necessary and stir in dill, if using. Spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe a 1- to 1½-teaspoon rosette onto each cucumber round. Grind black pepper over and garnish each with a dill sprig. Refrigerate until ready to serve to firm up mousse. (Can be made about 2 hours ahead.)

RED PEPPER BOATS WITH ST. ANDRE AND THYME LEAVES

Rich, soft-ripened triple crème St. Andre cheese is the perfect foil for sweet-sharp bell peppers, and its buttery texture allows for easy spreading. A restrained garnish of thyme leaves or blossoms adds interest and a complementary flavor.

Makes about 30 canapes

1 red bell pepper

¼ pound St. Andre, left at room temperature for a couple of hours to soften

Tiny thyme leaves or small blossoms

Cut pepper into strips about 3/4-inch wide. Use a small blunt knife to spread a teaspoon or so of cheese into center of each pepper “boat.” Arrange on serving platter and garnish with thyme sprigs. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 hours.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” (Storey, 2015). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

facebook.com/brookedojny

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Granola bars rely on dates and honey for sweetness http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/granola-bars-rely-on-dates-and-honey-for-sweetness/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/granola-bars-rely-on-dates-and-honey-for-sweetness/#comments Wed, 20 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=977176 Once upon a time, my Indian grandma was left in charge of packing school lunches for my sisters and me. We were sent off to school with some potato curry and a garlic chutney so fierce my eyebrows twitched on the bus all the way to school and I couldn’t bear to open the Tupperware in fear of what might be unleashed on my friends.

After that, I outlawed traditional Indian food in my packed lunches, setting my mother free to get creative with Anglo-Indian dishes that became family favorites.

This granola bar using dates, coconut and peanuts is among the recipes she created. It doesn’t use sugar, instead relying on dates and honey as sweeteners. The dates add a lovely fudgy texture and the oats and peanuts give slow release energy which will keep your kids (and you) going for a few hours. Cinnamon and ginger, in a nod to India, are used in small amounts to add a hint of warmth and extra flavor.

Mum used to make it in big batches on a Sunday and fill the house with the most divine smells, which would creep under the door while I was doing my homework. For the rest of the week, I’d look forward to packed lunches knowing what I was going to get.

DATE, COCONUT AND PEANUT GRANOLA BARS

Serves 16

10 tablespoons butter, unsalted

1 cup dates, pitted and chopped

1/3 cup honey, plus more to drizzle

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 cup desiccated coconut

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped

Grease and line an 8-inch square baking pan and pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Add the butter, dates, honey, coconut, ginger and cinnamon to a deep saucepan and heat over a low flame until butter and honey melt, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the oats and chopped peanuts until mixed, then spread evenly into the baking pan. Pat the top down with a spoon to smooth the top and drizzle top with honey.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until brown and firm on top. Cool before cutting into squares.

These bars will keep for up to a week in an airtight tin.

Meera Sodha is an Indian foods expert and author of “Made in India: Recipes from an Indian family kitchen.”

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Try tempura-like batter for fried zucchini flowers http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/try-tempura-like-batter-for-fried-zucchini-flowers/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/try-tempura-like-batter-for-fried-zucchini-flowers/#comments Wed, 20 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=977185 Zucchini flowers are perfect for stuffing. In the following recipe, the flowers are filled with cheese before frying. The result is a creamy, flavorful filling and a supercrisp crust.

For years, my go-to deep-frying batter has been made of roughly equal parts beer and flour. But I wanted the batter for this dish to be crisper, more like tempura, so I added seltzer and baking soda and swapped out half of the flour for cornstarch. Unlike flour, cornstarch has no gluten, which ensures a thinner, more delicate coating that nonetheless holds its shape.

You’ll want to mix the batter just before using it to prevent the bubbles from evaporating. Combine the dry ingredients and park them on the counter while you prep the blossoms and begin to heat the oil. When the oil is almost up to temperature, add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix the batter quickly. Take care not to rip the petals while stuffing the flower with cheese, then close the open end of the flower by twisting the petals like a New Year’s Eve party popper. The cheese should stay put and not leak into the oil.

Choose a pan with deep sides and fill it with no more than 1 1/2 or 2 inches of oil. Make sure the oil has a high smoke point. Use a deep-fat thermometer to keep track of the temperature and try to maintain it at a constant 365 F. Depending on the size of your pan, fry no more than three or four stuffed blossoms at a time. This will ensure that the temperature of the oil neither drops nor bubbles over the top. If the temperature begins to creep up, pull the pan off the flame and/or add a little cool oil. Transfer each batch of fried blossoms to a paper towel-lined sheet pan, sprinkle lightly with salt and keep warm in the oven while you fry the rest.

CHEESE STUFFED ZUCCHINI BLOSSOMS

Serves 4

12 squash blossoms

1/2 ounce coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 ounce mozzarella, cut into 12 cubes

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (2 3/8 ounces)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup ice-cold beer

1/2 cup ice-cold seltzer

Vegetable oil for deep frying

1 cup marinara sauce (homemade or your favorite store brand), heated

Basil sprigs for garnish

Preheat oven to 200 F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with a double layer of paper towels.

Working with one blossom at a time, carefully separate the petals to expose the inside of the flower and the central stamen (on a male plant) or pistil (on a female plant). Using small sharp scissors cut out as much of the stamen or pistil as possible to make room for the cheese. Put about 1 teaspoon of the Parmigiano-Reggiano in the cavity; top with a chunk of mozzarella. Twist the petals gently to enclose the filling; set aside the stuffed blossoms.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, cornstarch, soda and salt. In a large, deep saucepan heat 11/2 to 2 inches of oil over medium high heat to 365 F. When the oil is at around 325 F, combine the dry ingredients in the bowl with the beer and the seltzer; stir the mixture until it is combined well but with a few lumps remaining.

Working with three or four blossoms at a time, dip them in the batter, coating them well and letting the excess drip off. Add them gently to the 365 F oil; let cook for 30 seconds. Using tongs, gently turn them over. Cook until they are golden, about 1 to 11/2 minutes, turning them once again. Transfer the blossoms to the rimmed sheet pan using a slotted spoon, sprinkle with kosher salt and keep warm in the oven while you batter and fry the remaining zucchini blossoms.

To serve, spoon one-fourth of the marinara sauce into the bottom of each of four soup bowls, arrange three fried blossoms on top and garnish with a basil sprig.

Sara Moulton is host of public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.” She was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows, including “Cooking Live.” Her latest cookbook is “Home Cooking 101.”

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Mango, fresh tuna make a perfect match http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/mango-fresh-tuna-make-a-perfect-match/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/mango-fresh-tuna-make-a-perfect-match/#comments Wed, 20 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=977191 Ripe, sweet mangos are at the height of their season. They make a great accompaniment for pan-seared fresh tuna. Simply saute the tuna and top it with this mango salsa for a quick summer meal.

It takes a few minutes to cut a mango into cubes. Here’s an easy method. Stand the mango on the thick end and cut it in half on each side sliding the knife down the side of the stone. Run a large spoon around the edge of the flesh and scoop it out. Cut the pulp into 1/4-inch pieces. Do this over a bowl to catch the juices.

TUNA AND MANGO SALSA

Makes 2 servings.

1 cup mango cubes

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon canola oil

3/4 pound fresh tuna steaks

Cut mango in half around the pit. Hold the mango with cut side up. Scoop out pulp with a large spoon. Cut into 1/4-inch pieces. Mix lime juice, honey, cilantro and jalapeno pepper together. Toss with mango. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sear tuna for 2 minutes. Turn and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste on the cooked side. Sear second side 2 minutes for a half-inch thick tuna steak. For a 1-inch tuna steak, lower heat and cook 2 more minutes. Remove to two dinner plates, spoon salsa on top and serve.

Linda Gassenheimer is the author of “Delicious One-Pot Dishes.”

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‘K Food’ redefines Korean home cooking http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/splattered-page-k-food-redefines-korean-home-cooking/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/splattered-page-k-food-redefines-korean-home-cooking/#comments Wed, 20 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=977197 “K Food: Korean Home Cooking and Street Food” by Da-Hae and Gareth West. Mitchell Beazley, $24.99

On first impression, “K Food” looks like a cookbook with a boldly Western take on Korean fusion food. It’s sprinkled with photos of Korean street scenes and markets, wrapped in blue and red geometric designs, and filled with recipes like Kimchi Mac ‘n’ Cheese or K-fries, french fries topped with bulgogi beef, kimchi, pickled chiles and sour cream. The subtitle, “Korean home cooking and street food,” seemed a bit off point.

But, as Gareth and Da-Hae West tell it, their cookbook is reflective of the new Korean food, evolved to suit the many Korean migrants who moved across the globe in the late 20th century, often traveling back to their homeland – or that of their parents or grandparents – again and again, carrying with them the food traditions of their ancestors and of their acquired homes.

These recipes don’t simply borrow the bold flavors of Korean food for dishes that please the sometimes blander palettes of eaters in America or in the U.K. The Wests present very traditional Korean dishes alongside recipes that have become newly popular in Korea and more that they’ve dreamed up themselves, inspired by changes in the country where Da-Hae was born.

While honeymooning in Korea, she introduced her husband to a fast-food staple in Korea: the bulgogi burger. A standard beef patty, that American food icon, is marinated in the sweet and tangy flavors of traditional Korean BBQ.

Back home in the U.K., the couple started developing a recipe for their own bulgogi burger. The idea for their Korean food trailer company, Busan BBQ, was born when they hit on something so delicious that Gareth West ate three burgers in one sitting, the story goes.

It’s easy to see why. After the patty is cooked and just before it goes on the bun, the burger is dipped in a traditional marinade of soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, sugar and fruit juice (Asian pear juice is typical but here they use apple juice). Thickened slightly, the sauce soaks into the bun enough to be delicious but not soggy.

For even more flavor, the burger is topped with onions quick-pickled in a mustard brine and with Ssamjang Mayo.

Ssamjang is a loose paste that is sweet and spicy, typically used to add a kick to barbecued meats wrapped in lettuce leaves with rice and other toppings (“ssam” meaning “wrap”).

The Wests note that the sauce also makes a good dipping sauce for raw vegetables. Mixed with mayo – not a traditional Korean ingredient – it is especially versatile. The spread takes a plain, old turkey sandwich to a whole new level.

Recipes for common Korean dishes (mandu, japchae, ramyun) are included in about equal measure as the more fanciful ones (Corn on the Cob with Kimchi Butter, Yuja Cheesecake, Kimchi Bloody Mary).

The Wests’ kimchi jjiggae, a stew made with “extra-mature” cabbage kimchi and pork belly, is simple and delicious.

They also include a list of essential Korean ingredients, starting with “jang,” pastes or sauce made from fermented soybeans.

Most of the ingredients – including gochujang, a red chile paste – can be found in a traditional grocery store. The rest almost certainly can be found at one of Portland’s Asian markets.

SSAMJANG MAYO

Makes about 1 cup

1 tablespoon doenjang (Korean soybean paste)

1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean red chile paste)

1/2 a scallion, trimmed and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1 cup mayonnaise

Put the doenjang, gochujang, scallion, garlic, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and sesame seeds in a bowl and mix together well, to make the ssamjang.

Reserve all but 2 teaspoons for another occasion.

In a bowl, mix the 2 teaspoons of Ssamjang with the mayonnaise and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil.

Serve or keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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