Recipes – Press Herald Thu, 30 Mar 2017 10:35:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Naan pizza is a fun way to sample the flavors of India Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 This naan pizza is a fun way to eat the flavors of India in America’s favorite food. The popular chicken tikka masala is widely believed to have been created in England for the British palate and is actually the national dish. But it is so tasty that restaurant diners have demanded that the dish is made worldwide.

These days, naan – Indian flatbread – is available in nearly every grocery store. It can be plain or flavored, and even stuffed.

Naan used to be an occasional treat when I’d go out to eat at an Indian restaurant. It was hard not to fill up on the naan before the meal arrived. But now that naan is as available as pita bread, you can enjoy it at home.

The small size and light and airy texture of store-bought naan makes it a shoe-in for a quick pre-made pizza crust. And because I wanted to keep the pizza in the spirit of India, I am topping the pizza with chicken tikka masala which is tailor-made for pizza as it is the sauce and toppings in one. The ever-popular dish is chock-full of chunks of chicken simmered in an aromatic, creamy and slightly spicy tomato sauce full of onions, garlic, ginger, cumin and turmeric.

This sauce is the perfect thing to brighten up a boneless, skinless chicken breast and will “dress” to impress grilled shrimp, pork and countless vegetables. I used to think that I could only have this exotic sauce in an Indian restaurant, but truth be told, it is one of the easiest pan sauces to make.


Makes 6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups white onions, finely chopped (1 large onion)

3 cloves garlic, grated

1 inch piece of ginger root, grated

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

teaspoon turmeric powder

teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups crushed tomatoes

cup heavy whipping cream or sour cream

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

4 prepared naan bread

Heat clarified butter or ghee and olive oil in a heavy-bottom saucepan. Sautee onions until translucent. Add garlic and ginger. Stir to combine and continue sauteing until the garlic and ginger begin to turn golden.

Add tomato paste, paprika, cumin, cayenne, salt, turmeric and cinnamon. Saute for a couple more minutes to “toast” the spices.

Add the crushed tomatoes and chunks of chicken. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes with the lid on. Stir occasionally. Stir in cream. Continue to simmer on low heat with the lid off, stirring occasionally until the sauce is reduced and the consistency of thick gravy. The sauce can be made in advance and kept for 2 days in the refrigerator.

To use: Preheat oven to 400 F. Lay the naan out on a rack set into a sheet pan and sprinkle a small amount of the grated cheese on the bread. Top the cheese with the tikka masala, leaving a inch border around the edge. Sprinkle the top with more grated cheese. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes. The pizza is done when the cheese is melted and the edges are crisp.

Remove from the oven and brush the edges with a little olive oil while it is still hot. Serve and enjoy.

]]> 0 small size and light and airy texture of store-bought naan make it a shoe-in for a quick pre-made pizza crust.Tue, 28 Mar 2017 17:22:52 +0000
Greek-style roasted lemon potatoes are delicious Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 With two big feast days looming – Easter and Passover – I thought I’d offer up a simple but delicious side dish. I’m talking about the lemony roasted potatoes that are one of the dependable delights on the menu at a Greek restaurant. They’re crispy on the outside, but tangy and creamy on the inside … and surprisingly easy to make.

The key is to start by only partially cooking the potatoes – five minutes, then pull them off the heat. Then drain them and, while they’re still hot, toss them with lemon juice and salt. The potatoes will soak up the flavorings like a sponge.

The next step is the one that creates the crispy crust: Coat them with oil and roast them in an oven.

The final touch? Toss the potatoes with fresh chopped herbs right before you serve them. I prefer parsley and oregano, but they’d be great with rosemary or basil, too.

What are the best kinds of spuds for this dish? The top of the list is occupied by boiling potatoes and all-purpose potatoes because they hold their shape when roasted. Yukon Golds are my particular favorite. Russet potatoes – aka baking potatoes, the most famous being the Idaho – would fall apart.

If you manage not to eat them all in one sitting, you’ll love these guys all over again as leftovers. That’s because they happen to make terrific hash browns.

Just saute some chopped onion in oil or butter in a skillet over medium-low heat until it’s caramelized, add the potatoes, then mush them down with a potato masher or fork until they form a big pancake. Brown it slowly on both sides and you’re done.

That lemony edge makes these hash browns a particularly toothsome variation on the standard version.


Makes 6 servings

2 pounds Yukon Gold or other all-purpose or boiling potatoes

Kosher salt

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling the pan

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

Black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch pieces. In a medium saucepan combine the potatoes with salted cold water to cover by 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes for 5 minutes. While they are simmering, in a large bowl whisk together the lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt until the salt is dissolved and then whisk in 1 tablespoon of the oil.

Drain the potatoes well, and while they are still hot, add them to the bowl and toss. Leave them in the bowl for 15 minutes, stirring several times to make sure that the liquid is well distributed. Add the remaining 1/4 cup oil and combine well, being careful not to break up the potatoes.

Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and brush it with oil. Transfer the potatoes to the pan and spread them out in one layer.

Roast the potatoes on the middle shelf of the oven, turning them several times, until they are golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove them from the oven and toss them with the parsley, oregano and pepper to taste.

]]> 0, 28 Mar 2017 17:32:00 +0000
Cauliflower, onion and chickpeas make a tasty side dish Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 The produce aisle is a healthy budget cook’s best place to start a supermarket shopping trip.

By loading up the cart with bulky, nutrient-filled produce, you’ll visually make the cart smaller, and you’ll be less likely to fill up the cart with (less healthy) impulse buys from the more processed middle aisles. Plus, if you focus on in-season produce, you’ll be getting some of the lowest-cost nutrients in the store.

Buy a combination of softer, more perishable veggies, like leafy greens, to eat right away, as well as hardier veggies, such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower that can last longer in the crisper drawer.

On a weekday night, you can open up that mini “veggie pantry” and roast up a tasty and healthy side dish in a snap. One of my favorite combinations is cauliflower and onion. I add in a drained, rinsed can of chickpeas to boost the protein and fiber (and filling factor).

The basic ingredients are easy, cheap and can be swapped out easily according to what you have in the fridge – try broccoli if you are out of cauliflower. To jazz up the flavor, I use a bit of red pepper flake, lemon and tiny touch of za’atar, which is a terrific herb and spice blend that is worth having in your pantry. I like to serve it as a side with white fish and summer veggies, but it’s flavorful enough to be served alongside a cut of toothsome meat. Or, serve over quinoa or brown rice for a meatless main dish.


Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3/4 teaspoon (or more) za’atar (herb blend)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 small cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets, about 21/2 cups

1 small yellow onion, chopped, about 3/4 cup

11/4 cup cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), about one 15-ounce can, drained, rinsed, and patted dry

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, red pepper flakes, za’atar, salt and pepper. Place the vegetables and chickpeas in the bowl, and toss to coat. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the vegetables on the paper. Roast until cauliflower is tender and golden, about 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Squeeze lemon juice onto the mixture, stir, and serve.

]]> 0, 28 Mar 2017 17:37:31 +0000
Hearty fish and veggie stew gets zing from Moroccan flavors Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 This is the hardest time of year, to my mind: Spring storms may yet bring harsh weather, just as our spirits begin to yearn for longer, warmer days. Cold and weary, we look eagerly now for the early noses of daffodils and crocus to poke through the last of the snow. Spring must surely come soon, we think.

My solution to a snow-stunned palate is to dapple my early-spring menus with meals bright with herbs and still-seasonal citrus, dishes sturdy enough to nourish a winter-worn body but colorful enough to fill my eye with the hues of the season I hunger for.

This hearty fish and vegetable stew fills the need quite handily. Its complex, layered flavors draw on Morocco’s fascinating court cuisine, but only a couple of ingredients may not be in your pantry already. In Morocco, a tagine of fish would be served over a bed of couscous, and you certainly can serve this stew that way. In my kitchen, though, it tends to come out more as a stew, eaten from a big bowl, and yes, please, I’ll help myself to seconds.

Chermoula is what the Moroccans call the fragrant sauce that often accompanies fish. In a thicker variant, it might be used to stuff a whole roasted fish; loosened with a generous pour of olive oil, as here, it becomes a condiment much like Argentine chimichurri or Yemeni zhug.

Use it with any firm white fish that’s reasonably priced; I don’t care for basa (swai) or tilapia, two farm-raised fish that come from Indochina, most frequently, but if you like them, they’d work here as well.


A classic Moroccan chermoula doesn’t include mint, but I’ve added it here for its bright, springy flavor. You may not need all the sauce for the recipe; if you have some left over, it’s also a terrific marinade for chicken, and is a good accompaniment to beef or pork. While the vegetable stew will be delicious without the preserved lemon, it’s definitely worth the effort to find or make preserved lemons for their silky, salty contribution. (Use store-bought, or try the method below.)

Makes 4 servings


1/2 bunch parley

1/2 bunch cilantro

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, packed

3 cloves garlic, peeled

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon each: ground coriander, minced fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon each: salt, cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, optional

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup olive oil


Meyer lemons are particularly good in this recipe. Photo by Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune via TNS

4 portions (4 to 6 ounces each) mild, firm white fish fillets or steaks, such as flounder, sole, halibut, catfish or sea bass

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced vertically

1 bell pepper, sliced

1 teaspoon each: salt, ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 russet potato, peeled, thinly sliced

2 carrots, sliced diagonally

1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes

Peel of 1 preserved lemon, cut into slivers, optional

1/2 cup pitted green olives, such as Castelvetrano or Picholine, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped

For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender; whiz until well blended into a thick paste. Makes about 11/4 cups.

Use about half the paste to marinate the fish pieces. If your fish fillets are thin, as with flounder and sole, spread the uppermost side with the sauce, then fold into thirds. Refrigerate fish to marinate for 1 to 2 hours. Set remaining sauce aside.

Begin the vegetable stew: Heat olive oil over medium in a large, heavy skillet with a close-fitting lid. Add onion and peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until onions and peppers soften, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine salt, cumin and cayenne pepper; toss sliced potatoes in spice mixture until they are well-coated.

Add carrots, potatoes and diced tomatoes with their juices to the skillet. Stir to blend. Stir in preserved lemon, green olives, honey and cinnamon; bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a slow simmer. If the liquid seems to evaporate, add water to bring the mixture back to a stewy consistency.

When the vegetables are almost tender, 20-25 minutes, stir in chopped parsley. Nestle the fish portions into the vegetable stew, brushing with a little of their marinade if you wish. Re-cover the skillet, and cook until the fish is opaque but still moist, about 15 minutes.

To serve, divide the vegetable stew among 4 bowls. Top each portion of stew with fish. Pass additional sauce at table, if desired.


This method from the archives is written by “Dinner at Home” columnist JeanMarie Brownson, Meyer lemons are good here – they are sweet and tender. Look for them at large specialty markets.

Scrub 2 whole lemons clean. Cut each lemon into wedges, leaving them attached at the stem end. Coat with a generous amount of coarse (kosher) salt. Pack tightly into a small glass jar; sprinkle with more salt. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice to come about halfway up the lemons. Put the lid on the jar.

Let stand at room temperature a couple of days, shaking the jar every day. Refrigerate about 1 week. Lemons will keep 3 months or more in the refrigerator, and the skins will get softer. Rinse off salt before using.

]]> 0 lemons are particularly good in this recipe.Tue, 28 Mar 2017 19:54:05 +0000
Sauteed pork medallions a surefire success Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Here’s a quick, easy and delicious weeknight entree that’s certain to impress your family. The star of the show is pork tenderloin, the leanest and most tender part of the animal. Like beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin is a muscle cushioned by other muscles. It’s tender because it’s not used very much. I prefer it hands-down to pork loin, which is prone to cook up dry and tough.

Pork tenderloin is a narrow cylinder of meat, usually weighing between 1 to 11/4 pounds. For this recipe it’s cut crosswise into rounds (or medallions). These medallions would be kind of puny if you cut the tenderloin straight down because it’s only about 2 inches in diameter. Here, though, we slice it at a 45-degree angle into rounds that are around 3 inches in diameter.

Once you’ve tasted the cooked grapes in this recipe, you may find yourself adding them to other savory sauces. Try them with sauteed chicken and see for yourself.


Makes 4 servings

1 pork tenderloin (about 1-11/4 pounds)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper

1/2 cup Wondra or all-purpose flour

1/4 cup minced shallots or onion

1 cup red or yellow seedless grapes or a mix, halved

1/2 cup dry white wine

11/2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon firmly packed dark brown sugar

11/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Slice the pork diagonally at a 45-degree angle into 7 to 8 pieces, each about 3/4- to 1-inch thick. Don’t worry if the pieces are not all the same size. Just make sure they are all the same thickness.

In a large skillet heat half the oil over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating, season half the pork medallions on both sides with salt and pepper and then dip them in the flour, shaking off the excess. Add them to the skillet and brown them quickly, about 1 minute a side, transferring them to a plate when they are done. Repeat the procedure with the remaining pork, flour and oil.

Add the shallots to the skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the shallots, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the grapes and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown bits and simmer the wine until it is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Add the chicken broth and sugar and simmer until reduced by half. Whisk in the mustard. Return the pork and any juice from the plate to the skillet and simmer gently, turning the medallions, several times, for 2 minutes. Divide the pork medallions among 4 plates and spoon some of the sauce over each portion.

]]> 0, 28 Mar 2017 18:01:22 +0000
‘Delicious’ and ‘vegan’ not mutually exclusive: These dishes prove it Wed, 22 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Some people become vegetarians because they love animals. Some, as comedian A. Whitney Brown put it, because they hate plants.

But vegans are committed. Not only do they not eat food that harms or kills animals, some don’t even want food that inconveniences animals.

Like honey. Hardcore vegans will not eat honey because, as Noah Lewis of puts it, “the simple fact is that the bees are enslaved.” Similarly, some vegans will not eat sugar because, while it comes entirely from a plant, some sugar is whitened by using bone char, which comes from animals.

Although the vegan diet lacks in meat, dairy and egg products – or because of it – the diet can be better for you than that which the standard American eats. In 2009, the American Dietetic Association took the position that vegetarian and vegan diets reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and lead to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

It can be healthy, but there are some things to watch out for when on a vegan diet: You have to make sure to get enough protein and vitamin B-12 – and calcium, iodine, vitamin D, iron, zinc and n-3 fatty acids.

Fortunately, a well-balanced vegan diet provides all of these essential nutrients, though you may want to take vitamin B-12 supplements, just in case.

Still, cooking a well-balanced vegan diet can be difficult, at least if you want to stick to what most Americans think of as normal ingredients. Many vegan recipes attempt to re-create meatless versions of familiar meat-based dishes, and to do so they rely on such potentially off-putting ingredients as vegan chicken, egg replacers and nondairy cheese.

Other recipes use soy products such as tofu and tempeh for their protein, and it is one of these that I tried first in cooking a vegan diet for a day.

Mee Goreng, which is a type of stir-fried noodles, is popular street fare in the Philippines. When I have had it before, it always had meat in it, usually chicken or shrimp or both. But then I came upon a vegan recipe for it using tofu, and tofu fans are sure to be instantly hooked.

If they like spicy food, that is. As with a lot of street food, Mee Goreng usually packs a kick. If you want it milder, simply trim down or eliminate the amount you use of sambal oelek, the all-purpose Indonesian and Malaysian ground chili paste.

Also as is the case with much street food, Mee Goreng tends to be a little oily. The recipe calls for 5 tablespoons of oil for four to six servings; I got by with four tablespoons, but that is still a quarter cup of oil.

Do you need it? Yes. The oil brings the dish together, from the spicy sambal to the faintly bitter bok choy to the sweet sauce made from equal parts of soy sauce, brown sugar and molasses.

The tofu, which has the amazing ability to soak up all the flavors in which it is cooked, serves as a protein-rich punctuation to the meal.

Indian-style vegetable curry with potatoes and cauliflower. Photo by Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via TNS

For my next dish, I dispensed with the tofu and received my protein in the form of garbanzo beans, which are also known as chickpeas.

Indian-Style Vegetable Curry With Potatoes and Cauliflower (that name seems a little over-descriptive to me) is another spicy dish. I like spices; sue me. If less fiery food is more your style, you can use a mild curry powder (but I wouldn’t use much less) and leave out the serrano chile.

This dish benefits greatly from the mutually complementary flavors of potato, cauliflower, garbanzo beans and curry. A bit of tomato paste and a cup of coconut milk make it deeply satisfying, yet it is so healthful that you’ll practically pat yourself on the back for eating it.

It is the kind of dish that calls out for basmati rice; if you have it, use it.

Finally, I made a vegan version of one of the least vegan dishes I could think of, pancakes.

Pancakes pretty much need eggs, milk and butter. If you try to make them from just flour, water, sugar, salt, baking powder and a little oil, you’ll wind up with paste.

Or so I thought. But then a colleague passed me a recipe for Vegan Pancakes that she swore was excellent. And she was right.

I don’t know how this works. I don’t understand how they hold together without becoming slightly sweetened hardtack. I’m guessing the oil has something to do with it, but we are only talking about a single tablespoon for 10 smallish pancakes.

These vegan pancakes are fine the way they are, but I incorporated a couple of additions suggested by my colleague: I added two tablespoons of soy milk (almond milk would also do) and a teaspoon of vanilla, just to make the pancakes even better.

They are a perfect foil for maple syrup. And maple syrup doesn’t inconvenience any animal.


Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 pound fresh Chinese noodles – yellow wheat or “stir fried” – or 12 ounces dried spaghetti or linguine

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup soy sauce

4 large shallots; 2 minced and 2 sliced thin

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons sambal oelek, see note

14 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons cornstarch

5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1 pound bok choy, stalks and greens separated and sliced 1/2-inch thick

4 scallions, sliced thin on bias

Lime wedges

Note: Sambal oelek can be found in the international aisle of grocery stores.

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in a large pot. Add noodles and cook, stirring often, until tender. Drain noodles and set aside.

Whisk sugar, molasses and soy sauce together in bowl. In a separate bowl, combine minced shallots, garlic and sambal oelek.

Spread tofu on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and let drain for 20 minutes. Gently pat tofu dry with paper towels, season with salt and pepper, then toss with cornstarch in bowl. Transfer coated tofu to a strainer and shake gently over bowl to remove excess cornstarch. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add tofu and cook, turning as needed, until crisp and browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes; transfer to bowl.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty skillet and heat until shimmering. Add sliced shallots and cook until golden, about 5 minutes; transfer to paper towel-lined plate.

If necessary, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty skillet and heat until shimmering. Add bok choy stalks and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Clear center of skillet, add garlic mixture and cook, mashing mixture into skillet until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir into vegetables.

Stir in noodles, tofu, bok choy leaves and scallions. Whisk sauce to recombine, add to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle fried shallots on top. Serve with lime wedges.


Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 teaspoons curry powder

11/2 teaspoons garam masala, see note

2 onions, chopped fine

12 ounces red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Salt and pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 serrano chile, stemmed, seeded and minced

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 head cauliflower (1 pound), cored and cut into 1-inch florets

11/2 cup water

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed

11/2 cups frozen peas

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

Note: Garam masala can be found at international food stores and the spice aisles of well-stocked grocery stores.

Pulse diced tomatoes with their juice in a food processor until nearly smooth, with some 1/4-inch pieces visible, about 3 pulses.

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add curry powder and garam masala and cook until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Stir in onions, potatoes and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are browned and potatoes are golden brown at edges, about 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium. Stir in garlic, chile, ginger and tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cauliflower florets and cook, stirring constantly, until florets are coated with spices, about 2 minutes.

Gradually stir in water, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in chickpeas and processed tomatoes and bring to simmer. Cover, reduce to gentle simmer and cook until vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Uncover, stir in peas and coconut milk, and continue to cook until peas are heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Off heat, stir in cilantro, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve over rice.

Vegan pancakes. Photo by Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via TNS


Makes 8 to 10 (6-inch) pancakes

11/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

11/4 cups water

1 tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons soy or almond milk, optional

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the water, oil, vanilla and optional soy or almond milk. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir until just blended.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Pour batter onto the griddle or skillet until it forms a 6-inch puddle. Cook until bubbles form and the edges are dry; check underneath to see if the bottom is lightly browned. Flip and cook until browned on the other side. Repeat with the remaining batter.

]]> 0 Goreng, tofu and vegetables with noodles.Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:40:56 +0000
Just in time for spring, a hearty soup made verdant with kale Wed, 22 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Green drinks such as juices and smoothies may be on the cutting edge of fashionable, healthful eats, but green soups are even hotter – a claim that can at least be substantiated temperature-wise, if not trend-wise.

Proof of popularity aside, there is something quite chic and modern about a soup made verdant with a blended whir of kale leaves. Yet green soup is an old-world staple, and perhaps the most well-known one is Portuguese caldo verde, which means “green broth.” It is made with potatoes and collards or kale in a garlic-seasoned broth and often fortified with slices of smoked sausage.

In this version of it, sauteed mushrooms coated in Spanish smoked paprika add a similar meaty smokiness to the bowl in a plant-based way. I use chicken broth here, but you could substitute vegetable broth to make the soup vegetarian. Pureeing potato and greens gives this soup a thick creaminess and a fresh, grassy hue; adding an extra handful of kale in the last few minutes of cooking provides another textural dimension.

The result is an on-trend, healthful comfort-food dish that is destined to stand the test of time.


This version of the traditional Portuguese soup uses mushrooms coated in smoked paprika for meaty flavor instead of the typical smoked sausage.

Makes 6 servings (about 11 cups)

1/4 cup olive oil

10 ounces white button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced

11/2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton)

Pinch ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds russet potatoes (3 large), peeled and diced

7 cups no-salt-added chicken or vegetable broth

8 ounces kale (1 small bunch, stems removed), leaves very thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat half the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms and cook for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have released their moisture and become well browned. Remove from the heat just long enough to stir in the smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, then transfer the mushrooms to a plate.

Return the pot to medium-high heat. Add the remaining oil and the onion; cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the diced potatoes and broth; once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Add about three-quarters of the kale and cook for about 3 minutes, or until it is wilted yet still a vibrant green. Puree with a stick (immersion) blender directly in the pot, or in batches in a regular blender (center knob of the lid removed and covered with paper towel) until smooth, with small flecks of kale. (If you wish, reserve a few pieces of potato before pureeing and add them to the finished soup.)

Increase the heat to medium; once the pureed soup begins to boil, stir in the remaining kale, the cooked mushrooms, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and the black pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes, until that kale is wilted.

Serve hot.

]]> 0 Verde With Mushrooms.Tue, 21 Mar 2017 16:50:28 +0000
‘Brooklyn Rustic: Simple Food for Sophisticated Palates’ isn’t always as simple as advertised Wed, 22 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “Brooklyn Rustic: Simple Food for Sophisticated Palates.” By Bryan Calvert (with Tammy Walker). Little, Brown and Company. $30.

“Brooklyn Rustic: Simple Food for Sophisticated Palates” is a big, handsome book that would be as at home on the coffee table as in the kitchen. It lays out its philosophy in the introduction: a mix of “country simplicity with urban complexity.” The author, Bryan Calvert, is the chef/proprietor of the restaurant James in, it goes without saying, Brooklyn. He writes how, after the 2008 recession, his restaurant evolved from serving more complicated and expensive special-occasion food: “My strategy shifted from what I should add to the plate to what I should take off.”

The book is filled with beautiful, rustic photos; earnest essays (“A Pantry Full of Mason Jars,” “Perfect Ripeness”); and irresistible-sounding, globe-trotting recipes that capture Brooklyn’s current artisanal, imaginative and on-fire dining scene.

In keeping with the borough’s new farmers-market-centric outlook, the largest section in “Brooklyn Rustic” is devoted to vegetables (Eggplant Fries with Curry Aioli and Baby Blue Hubbard Squash Soup with Blue Cheese and Pickled Pears, to name just two), and in keeping with the borough’s craft cocktail movement, it offers a chapter on cocktails. Chapters on Seafood, Meat, Poultry, Sweets and Basics fill out the book.

I tested six recipes, and based on that sampling, I’m not sure Calvert always hits his mark. Rainbow Chard with Lentils, Apricots and Green Curry, for instance, is an intriguing and delicious combination of flavors, but I made several changes before I was pleased. To begin, the recipe suggests using red lentils, which may offer the prettiest color contrast here, but instantly turned to mush; they are better for making soup. Next, it instructed home cooks to blanch the chopped chard stems in boiling water for 3 minutes, fish them all out, then blanch the leaves for 2 minutes. The second time I made the recipe, I saved myself trouble by starting the stems 1 minute ahead and then blanching the stems and leaves together for 2 minutes. The third time I made it, I wondered why I was blanching the Swiss chard at all – unlike kale, it’s not a tough, fibrous green. Why not simply saute it with the shallot and curry paste and save myself both the pot and the trouble? Yes, this is a quibble, but yes, this is a cookbook that stakes a large part of its claim on simplicity.

Likewise with the Striped Bass Poached in Corn Broth. It sounds fantastic, right? And it bills itself as a “hassle-free meal.” Check and check. Unfortunately, one of the ingredients the recipe calls for is 2 quarts corn broth. I dutifully turned to page 63, where the broth recipe required that I remove the kernels from six ears of corn, toast coriander, simmer the broth for 45 minutes, strain the broth, add the kernels to the broth, then blend the broth. Note to self: The striped bass is “hassle-free” only if I’ve already got the corn broth sitting around. And no doubt, if I ran a restaurant in Brooklyn, my sous chef would have the broth ready and waiting. Alas, in my home kitchen, not.

As for the tasty and easy Blackberry-Basted Pork Tenderloin, I wish Calvert had thought to give me the equivalent of 1 pint fresh blackberries in frozen, which typically are measured in ounces; even with Internet guidance, it was not simple to figure out.

I cannot nitpick with the recipe for Tandoori Chicken, however, which delivered 100 percent on the promise of simple and sophisticated. It was delicious. “Yes!” I scribbled on the page by the recipe.



The recipe calls for twice as much marinade as necessary and suggests you “refrigerate or freeze the rest for up to one month.” Unless you plan to make the recipe again within the month, you may prefer to simply half the marinade recipe.

Serves 4

Active: 20 minutes

Total: 1 hour, 10 minutes, plus 4 hours to 2 days for marinating

2 tablespoons cumin seeds

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 garlic cloves, peeled

2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime

2 cups whole-milk yogurt

1 (31/2- to 5-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces (drumsticks, thighs, breasts, wings)

Blend the cumin seeds, sweet and smoked paprikas, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, salt and red pepper flakes in a blender until they become a fine powder.

Add the garlic cloves, ginger, and lemon and lime zests and juice, and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Add the yogurt and pulse on and off until all the ingredients are combined.

In a glass bowl or baking dish, thoroughly coat the chicken pieces with half the yogurt marinade (refrigerate or freeze the rest for up to one month for another recipe). Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least four hours and up to two days.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange a roasting rack on top.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, leaving a generous coating on each piece. Place the chicken skin-side up on the roasting rack. Leave at least 1/2 inch between pieces. Spoon any extra marinade from the bowl on top of the pieces.

Roast the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, about 45 minutes. Turn the oven broiler on low and broil the chicken until the yogurt marinade starts to slightly blacken, about 5 minutes. If your oven doesn’t have a broiler crank the oven to 450 degrees F and brown the chicken for about 5 minutes.

]]> 0, 21 Mar 2017 17:16:13 +0000
Here’s how to use barrel-aged maple syrups Wed, 22 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 For people who grew up on “fake” maple syrup and remember their first, mind-blowing taste of the real thing, barrel-aged syrup kicks it up another notch. The bourbon-flavored syrup actually doesn’t taste much like bourbon, but it has a depth and complexity of flavor, including notes of vanilla and an undeniable oakiness. On the other hand, the rum is hard to miss in the rum-flavored syrup.

“When somebody tastes our syrup, I want them primarily to taste maple syrup with a really nice, pleasant, sort of unexpected flavor of bourbon or rum,” said Scott Arndt, vice president of Maine Gold in Rockland. “I can do things, potentially, to intensify the flavor, but I don’t really want to.”

Arndt says he uses the syrup primarily as a dessert – on top of ice cream, for example, to which he then adds maple sugar for crunch. Most often he just drinks it straight out of a shot glass. He also suggests using it to glaze roasted vegetables.

David Woods includes it in cocktails at his Wiggly Bridge tasting room. At home, he glazes scallops with the bourbon syrup, slathers it on Belgian waffles, and pours it into his oatmeal.

“Rum is great with a glazed chicken tender and pineapple,” he said. “I mean, the flavors are just intense.”

Woods gave us this recipe for a cocktail that uses bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup:


2 ounces gin

½ ounce bourbon maple syrup

3 drops bitters

Slice orange or lemon

Thyme sprig

Mix the gin, bourbon maple syrup and bitters in a glass and add the orange or lemon for garnish. Serve with a sprig of thyme.

]]> 0, 21 Mar 2017 18:35:42 +0000
The Maine Ingredient: Turkey patties and roasted lemon broccoli supper Wed, 22 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Here’s a nifty little supper that is easily put together. The turkey patties work well when served with this roasted broccoli and a baked potato, or the meat mixture could be made into smaller patties and served on slider rolls, with a salad on the side.


Mustard, scallions and tarragon flavor these turkey patties, and a bit of wine to deglaze the pan adds another flavor dimension, as well.

Makes 4 servings

1¼ to 1½ pounds ground turkey

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs or Panko crumbs

1 egg

½ cup chopped scallions

1½ tablespoons whole grain mustard

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup dry white wine

In a large bowl, combine the turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, scallions, mustard, tarragon, salt and pepper. Use your clean hands to mix gently but thoroughly. Shape into 4 patties about ½-inch thick.

Heat the butter in a large skillet. Add the patties and cook over medium to medium-high heat, turning once, until the outside is nicely browned outside and the inside is white but still moist, about 10 minutes total. Remove to a plate, leaving drippings in the pan.

Add wine to the skillet, raise heat to high, and boil, stirring up the browned bits, until the sauce is reduced by about one-third, about 3 minutes. Pour the sauce over patties and serve.


Makes 4 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 large bunch of broccoli

Half a lemon, thinly sliced, plus other half for juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine the oil and garlic.

Cut the broccoli into florets with 2 to 3 inches of stem and spread out onto a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the garlic oil over the broccoli, add the lemon slices, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until broccoli and lemon are tender and charred at the edges, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice from half a lemon and serve.

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:

]]> 0, 21 Mar 2017 17:58:24 +0000
‘Eat What You Love: Quick & Easy’ says you can eat healthfully and still enjoy it Wed, 15 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “Eat What You Love: Quick & Easy: Great Recipes Low in Sugar, Fat, and Calories.” By Marlene Koch. Running Press. 336 pages. $27.

On my top 10 list of favorite things to do, cooking would come in at about 11. Eating, however, would definitely be in the top three.

So Marlene Koch’s “Eat What You Love: Quick & Easy” spoke to me. Koch, a dietitian known for recipes that promise to be healthy and great-tasting, has published three other “Eat What You Love” cookbooks.

The cookbook targets the many Americans who choose easily prepared meals that are high in carbohydrates, but who, like me, want to eat healthier and still enjoy comfort foods – to have it all, in other words. But Koch’s introduction does give lots of practical guidance about good nutrition to help readers – especially those with diabetes or other diet-related health concerns – choose their foods wisely.

Koch also says readers have written to her about their “effortless” weight loss from using her recipes. I don’t think anything is effortless, much less weight loss, so that added to my skepticism.

The book’s recipes, 180 in all, reduce fat and calories in everything from breakfast goodies and salad dressings to “fried” macaroni & cheese and many other popular dishes.

Lots of recipes jumped out at me, including a Watermelon Feta “Pizza” Salad, which is no more than a round of watermelon cut into wedges shaped like pizza slices, topped by feta, red onion, mint leaves and a simple balsamic syrup. In the photo, it looked creative and tasty.

I also want to try Blackened Tilapia Po’ Boys and Muffin Tin Crab Cakes. Both of those recipes call for simple, nutritious ingredients, as did the one I tested: Fuss-Free Sheet Pan Fajitas. I can’t say the same for some of the sweets in the cookbook.

In a bunch of recipes, from breakfast items to desserts, Koch calls for granulated sweetener and suggests using sucralose (Splenda), stevia or sugar. She gives information about each to give readers options. But sugar substitutes, other than honey and maple syrup, don’t appeal to me, and neither did the book’s dessert recipes.

I hit a winner with the fajita recipe, though. We hardly ever eat beef at our house, for health and environmental reasons, so it felt decadent to feast on marinated and broiled steak with roasted peppers and onions wrapped in soft corn tortillas. It tasted superb and was quick and easy to prepare.

Learning to love healthier foods is the smart thing to do, and this cookbook says favorite dishes can be part of that.


I didn’t use the liquid smoke called for here, and didn’t miss it.

Serves 4

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 pound flank steak

2 large bell peppers, sliced into strips

1 large onion, sliced into strips

Warmed corn or flour tortillas

1. Position an oven rack about 4 inches below the broiler, place another rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the first 8 ingredients (lime juice through cayenne). Place the steak in a large zip-top bag, pour all but 2 tablespoons of the mixture into the bag, seal and set aside. Add the peppers and onions to the bowl with the remaining marinade, stir to coat and transfer the vegetables to a 13- by 18-inch sheet pan. Roast for 10 minutes on the center rack, or until slightly softened.

3. Remove the pan from oven and turn on the broiler. Push the vegetables to the sides of the pan, remove the steak from the marinade, allowing excess to drain, and place steak in the center of the pan. Place the pan on the top rack and broil steak for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until a meat thermometer registers 135 degrees F (for medium-rare).

Let the steak rest for 10 minutes, and slice thinly against the grain. Assemble the fajitas and serve.

]]> 0, 14 Mar 2017 16:06:03 +0000
Chickpea flour makes a better crepe Wed, 15 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 I’ve always loved crepes, those elegant, paper-thin French pancakes. They’re great containers for any filling and – as long as you have the proper pan – they’re really a cinch to make. But let’s face it, the typical flour-based crepe is pretty bland. It’s a messenger, not a message. We care far less about the crepe itself than we do about what’s wrapped up in it.

But what if the crepe boasted some flavor and nutrition? Enter chickpea flour. Popular throughout the Middle East and Asia, as well as along the Mediterranean, it’s a good source of protein and fiber and happens to be quite tasty, almost nutty. Today’s recipe is a variation on a swell little chickpea pancake that’s known as socca in southern France and farinata in northern Italy.

Made with chickpea flour, water, olive oil and seasonings, socca is pretty elemental. As noted, it’s delicious, but texture-wise, it’s sturdy, not pliable. I wanted to make a chickpea pancake that was thin enough to fold like a crepe. So I added some eggs and a tiny amount of flour.

There’s a way to make gluten-free chickpea crepes, but you’ll have to swap out the regular flour for cornstarch (just be sure it’s gluten-free cornstarch) or gluten-free flour. If you roll with the gluten-free flour, you’ll need to add an additional tablespoon or two of water to thin out the batter.

What about the filling? Anything you might want to put into a crepe or tortilla, you can put into a chickpea crepe. Here I’ve taken an Indian vegetarian route: Indian spices, potatoes and peas. But if you happen to be short of time, feel free to combine any leftovers you have in the refrigerator, roll them up in the crepes and heat them in a 300 F oven for about 10 minutes. Instant dinner! (But without the empty carbs.)


Makes 4 servings


1/2 chickpea flour (60 grams) (available at many supermarkets and online)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra for brushing the pan


1/2 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups chopped (1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces) cauliflower

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Kosher salt

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 cup finely chopped onion

2 teaspoons minced chile (with the seeds and veins)

2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 cup thawed frozen peas

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish

Make the crepes: In a medium bowl sift together the chickpea flour, all-purpose flour, salt and baking soda. In a second medium bowl, whisk the eggs, add 1/2 cup water and the oil; mix well. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until there are no lumps. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes. (Make the filling while the batter is resting.)

Brush the bottom of an 8-inch nonstick skillet and a 1/2-inch up the sides with a little oil and heat the pan over medium-high heat until it is hot. Whisk the batter to remix. Add slightly more than 1/8 cup of the batter to the pan and working quickly, pick up and tilt the pan so that the batter coats the bottom. Let the crepe cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute or until it is set. Flip the crepe and cook it for 30 seconds on the second side. Transfer it to a plate and make more crepes with the remaining batter. You should have at least 8 crepes.

Make the filling:

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

In a small saucepan combine the potatoes with enough cold, salted water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 5 to 8 minutes.

On a rimmed sheet pan lined with parchment or foil, toss the cauliflower with 1 tablespoon of the oil and a hefty pinch of salt. Arrange it in one layer and bake it on the middle shelf of the oven until golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside and reduce the oven to 300 F.

In a medium skillet combine the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil with the cumin and mustard seeds. Cover the skillet and cook over medium heat until the seeds become fragrant and start popping, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the onion, chile, ginger and garam masala. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden.

When the potatoes are tender, transfer them to a bowl and mash them with a potato masher or fork until mostly mashed with a few lumps (don’t overdo it or you will get gluey potatoes).

Add the cauliflower, onion mixture, peas, lemon juice, cilantro and salt to taste; stir until combined.

Arrange 8 crepes on a cutting board and divide the potato mixture among them (about 1/4 cup per crepe). Roll up the crepes to enclose the filling and transfer them to the rimmed sheet, seam side down. Cover with foil and bake them on the middle shelf of the oven until hot, about 10 minutes.

]]> 0, 18 Mar 2017 17:34:54 +0000
Irish scones with smoked salmon come just in time for St. Patrick’s Day Wed, 15 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Is it not enjoyable to take advantage of another culture’s holiday to explore new recipes and treat yourself to something delicious? It is.

And is St. Patrick’s Day not right around the corner? As the Irish might say, ’tis.

Moist, biscuit-y Irish scones, lashed with rich butter and a few slices of smoked salmon top my list of Irish culinary yearnings this March 17.

European-style butter makes a big difference in this dish; it has a slightly higher butterfat content than everyday supermarket butter. If you’re sticking close to the theme, look for good Irish butter.

The dough might seem a little sticky; that’s fine, just work quickly and nimbly, and make sure the work surface is well dusted with flour.

These scones are not too sweet, as their intended filling is smoked, salty fish, but if you are wishing for scones to slather with butter and jam, just add another tablespoon or two of sugar.


Makes about 10 scones

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for patting out the dough

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 cup milk, preferably whole

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

About 3 tablespoons softened unsalted butter for serving

1/2 pound good-quality smoked salmon

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour a clean work surface.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. In a small bowl, combine the milk and the egg yolk. Stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients just until the mixture comes together.

Turn the dough onto the floured work surface, and roll or pat it out to 11/4-inch thick. Cut out 21/2-inch circles with a biscuit cutter, as close as possible to one another. Gently pat together the scraps so they are 11/4-inch thick, and cut out another two or three circles. Place them on the prepared baking sheet at least 1 inch apart. Beat the egg with 1 teaspoon of water in a small bowl, and use a pastry brush to lightly brush the top of each scone with the egg mixture.

Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool until barely warm, or at room temperature. Split them in half, spread the butter evenly between the scones, layer some salmon onto each bottom half, and place the scone tops over the salmon.

]]> 0, 14 Mar 2017 15:34:01 +0000
This St. Patrick’s Day, get your green on with lamb chops and mint sauce Wed, 15 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 St. Patrick’s Day, aka the Feast of St. Patrick, is devoted not only to “the wearing o’ the green,” but the eating of the green. Both customs nod to the color of the shamrock, one of the great totems of Ireland, of which Patrick is the patron saint.

Like the shamrock, mint is green, which helps to explain why recipes for lamb with a sweet-and-sour mint sauce abound in Ireland (and throughout the British Isles). My version of the sauce isn’t sweet but it is bright green, deeply flavorful and refreshing.

The lamb chops available in our supermarkets usually come from America or New Zealand. American chops tend to be larger and milder in flavor, but either kind would be delicious here. I call for these rib chops to be pounded, which creates more surface area, which means a more delicious crust on the chops once they’ve been seared in the skillet. The easiest way to pound them (or any thin piece of meat) is to sprinkle the chops liberally with water on both sides, put them into a ziplock bag or between two pieces of plastic wrap, and then pound them with a meat pounder or rolling pin until they’re uniformly 1/4-inch thick. (The water keeps them from sticking to the plastic and shredding.)

What to serve with these chops? Irish tradition calls for potatoes. Just slice some Yukon Golds about 1/4-inch thick, toss them with oil, salt and pepper, and roast them in a 400 F oven until golden.


Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup finely chopped mint

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons minced shallot

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

Eight trimmed, Frenched rib chops (about 2 ounces each)

Black pepper

In a small bowl combine the mint, parsley, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, shallot, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and salt; set aside.

Working with one chop at a time, sprinkle it generously on both sides with water. Place the chop in a large re-sealable bag or between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound the chop using either a meat pounder or a rolling pin until it is 1/4-inch thick. Repeat the procedure with the remaining chops. Pat dry.

In a large skillet heat half the remaining oil over high heat. Season half the chops with salt and pepper on both sides and add them to the pan. Saute until nicely browned, about 1 minute a side. Transfer to a platter and keep covered loosely with foil. Pour off the fat, add 1/4 cup water and simmer to clean the pan. Dump off the water and wipe out the skillet. Repeat the procedure with the remaining chops and the remaining oil. Transfer the chops to the platter and let them rest for 3 minutes before serving. Add any juices from the platter to the herb mixture.

To serve, transfer two chops to each of four plates and top each portion with a heaping spoonful of the mint herb sauce.

]]> 0, 14 Mar 2017 15:59:45 +0000
This healthful pear recipe doubles as dessert and breakfast Wed, 15 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 This dish of warm, cinnamon-scented pears with a nutty crumble topping makes you feel good before you even take a bite. Its homey aroma fills your kitchen as it bakes so you can’t help but smile with anticipation.

The dessert delivers completely when you dig in, too, not only because it hits the spot as a comfort-food classic but also because it achieves that goal in a healthier way. Rather than being loaded with added sugar, the natural sweetness and subtle flavor of ripe pears shines through, enhanced with a little maple syrup and gently spiced with ground cinnamon and ginger.

And instead of leaning on butter, white flour and sugar for the crumble topping, this one is centered on the nutty crunch of ground almonds (or almond meal) with healthy oil and two kinds of whole grains: oats and whole-wheat flour. The recipe has just the right level of sweetness to satisfy as a dessert, especially with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt on top, but not so much that it would be out of place for breakfast. I can tell you firsthand that, with a dollop of yogurt, it is a lovely way to start the day.


Makes 8 to 9 servings


1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon slivered almonds (may substitute 1/2 cup almond meal)

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (do not use quick-cooking or instant)

1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (may substitute regular whole-wheat flour)

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup canola oil, or other neutral-tasting oil, plus more for the baking dish


3 pounds ripe but firm pears, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4- inch slices

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the baking dish lightly with oil.

For the topping: Process the slivered almonds in a food processor and process until finely ground.

Transfer to a medium bowl, along with the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Drizzle with the 1/4 cup of oil; stir until well incorporated.

For the filling: Combine the sliced pears, maple syrup and lemon juice in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the cornstarch, cinnamon and ginger; stir until the pears are evenly coated.

Transfer to the baking dish, then crumble the topping over the pears.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until bubbling and the topping is lightly browned. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

]]> 0, 14 Mar 2017 15:41:35 +0000
Recipes: Steamed brown bread; baked beans Wed, 15 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 STEAMED BROWN BREAD

Recipe adapted from “Cooking Down East: Favorite Maine Recipes” by Majorie Standish. Traditionally, brown bread was steamed in a 1-pound coffee tin. But most coffee these days is packaged in cardboard, so I used an empty 21/2-pound can of kidney beans instead. In an attempt to channel my inner frugal Mainer, I used whey in place of the liquid called for, as I had it around, and needed to use it up, after making ricotta. I’ve wanted – and intended – to make brown bread for years and was so thrilled with how simple and delicious it was when I finally did.

1 cup rye flour

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup whole-wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup molasses

2 cups sour milk, buttermilk or whey

1/3 cup currants or raisins

Remove the lid from 1 end of your tin. Grease the tin well and set aside. Set a kettle of water to boil.

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the molasses and milk. Stir in the currants. Pour the batter into the tin. Cover it with tin foil and secure the foil with string.

Put the tin in a large pot. Pour boiling water around it halfway up the sides. Cover the pot with a lid. Steam the bread on the stovetop over very low, even heat or in a 300-degree F oven (if you’ve been a clever planner, steam the bread while you are baking the beans) for about 21/2 hours; recipes give wildly varying suggestions for the time, so keep an eye on it. Test the bread for doneness by poking a clean straw through the foil.

Remove the tin from the pot. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then remove the brown bread from the tin. (If you’re having trouble, some recipes suggest you open the other end of the tin with a can opener and push the bread through.) Serve with baked beans and/or good butter.


This recipe is an amalgam of several, as well as a few ideas of my own. You can cut the hot dogs into chunks or leave them whole and slash them, which, I have it on good authority, will make the dogs curl attractively. I do several things that are against some bean orthodoxy here – I skip the soak (out of laziness) and I salt the beans from the start. Also, classic Maine recipes often leave the onion and the salt pork whole.

“I think the reason we have beans in Maine Saturday night is so you know Sunday is the next day,” my guest Elsie Maxwell said over a Friday afternoon Maine foods lunch. “You’ll get all mixed up if you don’t have them Saturday night.” Sorry, Elsie!

1 pound Maine yellow-eye beans (about 21/2 cups)

6 ounces meaty salt pork, diced

1 large onion, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup molasses

11/2 teaspoons dry mustard

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

5 red snapper hot dogs

2 sprigs fresh thyme

About 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, or to taste

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Mix the beans, salt pork, onion, salt, molasses, mustard and sugar together in a Dutch oven. Add 5 cups water (or enough to cover the beans by about 1 inch). Clamp on the lid on and bring the mixture to just below a boil on the stove top.

Transfer the pot to the oven and cook for 4 hours to overnight. The time varies widely depending on the age of your beans. When the dish is done, you want soft but not mushy beans and a concentrated but not stodgy sauce. Add more water as necessary to keep the beans covered while cooking, and in the last hour or so, remove the lid to let the liquid concentrate, and stir in the hot dogs. When you remove the beans from the oven, stir in the cider vinegar to give the beans some zip.

]]> 0 cuts brown bread for the meal. Would Mainers consider the added currants too fancy?Tue, 14 Mar 2017 17:16:08 +0000
Normally undervalued onion has its moment in winter Wed, 08 Mar 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Winter is not my time of year. As seasons go, I rank it last, in the kitchen and everywhere else. I’m cold, there’s nothing fresh to cook, and it makes a curmudgeon out of me. But increasingly, I’m realizing that winter cooking has an upside.

With less to work with, you focus on what you do have. You think past your typical impulses, reframing the usual suspects. For the often overstimulated and overwhelmed, this can be freeing.

At mealtime, it means paying due attention to one of the most common yet underestimated ingredients of everyday cooking: onions. Not spring’s precious bunching onions with their grass-green tops, or even the sweet specialty onions of summer. I mean plain, round storage onions, the ones we rarely think about – until there’s a crisis because they’re not in the house.

Elizabeth Robins Pennell, an American who wrote about food in 19th- and early-20th-century London, spared no drama when praising the onion’s essential nature. “Banish it from the kitchen, and all pleasure of eating flies with it,” she wrote in an essay called “The Incomparable Onion.” “Its presence lends color and enchantment to the most modest dish; its absence reduces the rarest dainty to hopeless insipidity, and the diner to despair.”

Onions are both foundation and finishing touch, so common to our cooking habits that to leave them out must be deliberate. Yet despite this reliance, how often do we summon the onion for its own sake?

Not often enough, and perhaps that’s because we tend to undervalue anything we have perennial access to, anything dependable and ubiquitous. Winter, with so few fleeting distractions outselling this humble vegetable’s charms, is my annual cue to yield more space to them on the plate.

Sometimes that means rummaging through my pantry and old notes to scavenge for ideas I never seem to have time for in spring, summer or fall. Other times it means letting the onion speak for itself. When I need a nudge in that direction, I turn to cooks such as the late food writer Richard Olney who remind me that simplicity and restraint can be as compelling as the glitz of novelty and complex orchestration. Olney’s selection of onion dishes in his book “Simple French Food” reads like a study: onions baked into a delicate pudding; onions layered in a brothy, cheesy panade; onions bathed in cream in a gratin; onions glazed with vinegar and rolled into an omelet (which he classifies as an “attractively vulgar presentation”); onions braised in beer.

Each of those treatments is a meditation on the onion’s possibilities: gently stewed until mild and sweet; caramelized to jammy, bittersweet depths; simmered long and slow until silken and creamy; sauteed and lashed with acid, still racy and willfully bright.

One maxim worth repeating is that you should always, when cutting onions (or any other vegetable, for that matter), use a sharp knife. A dull one will bruise the flesh, which leads to ragged slices that are prone to stick to a pan’s surface.

Likewise, avoid nonstick cookware when cooking onions; it discourages proper (and delicious!) coloring.

These recipes also employ two cutting techniques. One applies the knife across the grain, to produce the familiar onion ring shape. Slices like these will break down more quickly, so I’ve called for this approach in the soup, where the onions will help thicken and sweeten at the same time.

Cutting onions with the grain, from end to end, produces crescent-shaped slices. Incidentally, onions are also less pungent when sliced this way, so I call for this slice in the beet salad, as well as in the pasta dish, where they stand up a bit better to the higher cooking temperature.

Beets and onion in ume vinegar dressing. Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

When you begin to cook, take a moment to linger on the onion’s fragrance, the way it fills up the room with warmth. As Elizabeth Robins Pennell wrote, with reference to a Stevenson poem: ” ‘Rose among roots,’ its very name revives memories of pleasant feasting; its fragrance is rich forecast of delights to come.”

When those delights are in winter, all the better.


Makes 4 to 6 servings (about 2½ cups)

Once the beets are roasted, this earthy, tangy salad comes together quickly. Leftovers will hold up well in the refrigerator, although the salad’s bright flavor will give way to an earthier, more mellow profile after a few days.

Unhulled sesame seeds will add a bit more crunch than their typical hulled counterparts. Find them at natural foods stores.

Ume vinegar can be found in the Asian section of Whole Foods Markets and at Asian grocery stores.

The salad, without the sesame seeds, can be made and refrigerated up to 4 days in advance. Bring it to room temperature before serving.

12 ounces small to medium red beets (about the size of a golf ball, preferably all the same size)

1 small red onion

2 tablespoons ume (umeboshi, or plum) vinegar (see headnote)

1 teaspoon sesame seeds, preferably raw/unhulled (see headnote)

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Trim the beets’ root ends. Wrap each beet in just enough aluminum foil to cover with one layer. Place directly on the middle oven rack and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour or just until tender. (Smaller beets may take less time to cook; larger beets will take longer.) The beets are ready when they are easy to pierce with the tip of a sharp knife. Let cool, which may take up to an hour.

Unwrap the beets; loosen and discard their skins under cool running water. If the beets are small, cut them into small wedges. If they are medium-sized, cut them into 1-inch cubes. Transfer the beets to a mixing bowl.

Cut the onion in half from top to bottom. Cut each half lengthwise into thin slices. Transfer the onion to the bowl with the beets. Add the ume vinegar to the bowl, toss well and let sit for 10 minutes.

Onion soup with porcini and thyme. Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds in a small skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, tossing occasionally, until they darken a shade and smell fragrant. Let cool.

Whisk together the lemon juice and the oil in a large liquid measuring cup until emulsified, then pour over the beets and onions, tossing to coat.

To serve, spoon onto plates and sprinkle the sesame seeds over each portion.


Makes 4 servings

This soup gets its earthy flavor from a handful of dried porcini mushrooms. To balance the sweetness of the onions, be sure to use a good baguette or sourdough loaf for the toast. Anything too dense or grainy will contribute a sodden texture and a too-sweet overall flavor.

The soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days in advance. Reheat on the stove top while you toast the bread, just before serving.

4½ cups water, 2 cups’ worth brought to a boil

½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms

1½ pounds yellow onions

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

1 cup dry white wine

¼ teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper, or more as needed

8 baguette slices or 4 slices sourdough bread, cut ¾-inch thick

Pour the 2 cups of boiling water over the dried mushrooms in a bowl; let soak for about 20 minutes while you cook the onions.

Cut the onions in half, top to bottom. Cut each half crosswise into thin half-moon slices.

Heat a wide, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat, then stir in the onions and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring a few times, until the onions begin to break down somewhat but are not falling apart. Reduce the heat as needed to keep the onions from sticking or browning excessively; they should remain a pale golden color.

Stir in the garlic and thyme; cook for 5 minutes, then add the wine. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 5 minutes or until the wine has reduced by about half.

Place a fine-mesh strainer over the pot; pour in the mushrooms and their soaking liquid, reserving the rehydrated mushrooms. Add the remaining 2½ cups of water; once the liquids in the pot start to bubble at the edges, partially cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Chop the rehydrated mushrooms into small pieces. Add them to the pot along with the pepper and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Partially cover and cook for another 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven (or a toaster oven) to 400 degrees.

Toast the bread until crisped and barely golden. Place the slices in the bottom of individual soup bowls. Ladle the soup over the toast; serve hot.


Makes 6 servings

Onions are both vessel and filling in this pretty herb-and-cheese-stuffed vegetarian main dish. Use a variety of onions – red, white, yellow – for a colorful spread.

For a vegan version, omit the cheese.

The onions can be hollowed out and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. The stuffed, baked onions can be reheated in a 400-degree oven for 35 minutes; tent loosely with aluminum foil for the first 25 minutes, then remove the foil for the last 10.

6 large onions, weighing about 12 ounces each (see headnote)

5 ounces day-old bread, cut into 1-inch slices

4 cups no-salt-added vegetable broth, half of it heated to a boil

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 cloves garlic, smashed and then finely chopped

¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (a combination of parsley, marjoram, thyme, celery leaves and/or oregano)

2 ounces fontina cheese, grated on the medium-size holes of a grater

1 ounce Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated on the small holes of a grater

¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut about ½ inch off the top of each onion and reserve for another use, if desired. Cut a very small slice from the bottom so the onion will stand upright. Use a melon baller or grapefruit spoon to scoop out the inside of each onion, leaving a shell that’s about two layers thick. Chop enough of the onion pulp to equal 1½ cups, which you’ll need for this recipe. Reserve any excess for another use.

Arrange the bread in a double layer in a shallow dish. Pour the 2 cups of boiling broth over; allow the bread to soak for 10 minutes.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add all but 2 teaspoons of the oil and swirl to coat, then add the chopped onion and salt; cook for 7 or 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, with a bit of color. Stir in the garlic; cook for 3 minutes, then add the herbs and cook for 1 minute. Turn off the heat.

Squeeze the bread gently with your hands. It should be moist but not dripping. Working over a medium bowl, tear the bread into small pieces. Scrape the onion mixture into the bowl with the bread, then add the cheeses and pepper. Mix gently, then spoon the stuffing into each onion cavity, mounding it slightly.

Arrange the onions in a deep baking dish just large enough to hold them, and drizzle the tops with the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil. Pour the remaining 2 cups of broth in the bottom of the baking dish, and tent the dish with foil.

Bake (middle rack) for 45 minutes, then remove the foil. Baste the tops of the onions with the liquid in the baking dish, and continue to bake for another 30 minutes, until the tops are browned.

Serve warm.

]]> 0 Stuffed with Herbs and CheeseTue, 07 Mar 2017 17:05:31 +0000
The Maine Ingredient: Add a quick vegetarian sauce to store-bought, fresh pasta for a terrific meal Wed, 08 Mar 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Good quality, fresh, packaged egg pasta from the refrigerator or freezer case can be the basis for a terrific – and terrifically quick – weeknight supper. I usually forgo the ready-made sauces often displayed with the pasta, preferring to make my own quick pan sauces from scratch.

Here are a couple of ideas that are delicious and just happen to be meatless.


Asparagus season is beginning, and now is the time to start using the beautiful herbaceous stalks in as many ways as possible. This is a lovely sauce for fresh egg fettuccine, and a mixed green salad and garlic bread would suit it nicely.

Serves about 3

1 pound asparagus

About 12 shiitake mushrooms

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

¾ cup chicken or vegetable broth

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving

¾ cup torn basil leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 (9-ounce) package fresh fettuccine

Break off tough ends of asparagus and slice into ¾-inch pieces on an angle. Trim mushrooms, discard stems (or save for another use), and chop coarsely.

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet. Add asparagus, mushrooms and garlic and cook over medium-high heat, stirring almost constantly, until asparagus is crisp-tender and mushrooms have softened, about 5 minutes. Add broth, cheese and basil and season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions, separating with tongs, until al dente. Do not overcook. Scoop out and reserve about ¾ cup of cooking water and drain pasta.

Reheat sauce if necessary. Toss pasta with sauce, adding a bit of the cooking water to loosen sauce if necessary. Check seasoning and serve. Pass more cheese at the table.


This butter and sage sauce is a classic, and is great tossed with cheese-filled tortellini or ravioli. Serve with a tomato, yellow pepper and red onion salad and sesame breadsticks.

Serves 2 to 3

6 tablespoons butter

¾ cup fresh breadcrumbs or panko crumbs

4 tablespoons coarsely chopped sage leaves

1 (9-ounce) package fresh cheese tortellini

¼ cup shredded Pecorino Romano cheese

Juice of half a lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet. Add crumbs and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Reserve.

In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons butter with the sage over medium heat, swirling pan almost constantly, until butter is fragrant and turns a nutty brown, 3 to 4 minutes. (Be careful not to let it burn.)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add tortellini and cook according to package directions until al dente. Scoop out and reserve about ¾ cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.

Toss pasta with the brown butter sauce, cheese and lemon juice, adding a bit of the cooking water to loosen if necessary.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with crumbs and serve.

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:

]]> 0, 07 Mar 2017 17:13:58 +0000
Students of butchering workshop probe inner workings of sustainable meat Sun, 05 Mar 2017 09:00:00 +0000 I participated in a workshop where we butchered half a hog. It was the right half of a pig with the good fortune of having lived its whole life happily and humanely at Winter Hill Farm in Freeport. My main take-away from the experience? A realization of just how much more I need to learn about eating sustainable meat. Well, that, and a scrumptious pig jowl I turned into spicy pork buns (see recipe below).

The nose-to-tail workshop – led by local butcher Lily Joslin at Fork Food Lab in Portland and a pilot event for Maine Foodscapes’ Edible Education Project – was attended by two dozen people from Maine and Massachusetts.

As we learned in our round-robin introductions, we each signed up for different reasons. It was in Joslin’s masterful attention to individual perspectives – both her explanations and her actions breaking down the pig – that I recognized the gap between what I know and what I need to know about sourcing meat responsibly.

Christine Burns Rudalevige makes Asian Pork Jowl Bao. Staff photo by Derek Davis

One woman came to the class wondering how and why broth made from bones of sustainably raised animals looks different and is more nutritious than broth made from bones of conventionally raised livestock. Joslin taught us that sustainably sourced bones yield clearer broth because those pigs ate cleaner food (the grass, acorns, bugs and foliage that their bodies were designed to consume), thus rendered less scum and more nutrients when made into broth.

A woman who grew up on a farm in Gray attended the workshop to better understand what happens to the animals once they leave the family farm to be slaughtered. When we all approached the stainless steel cutting table, she was the first to notice the unprocessed leaf lard sitting in the animal’s empty gut cavity. Joslin, a butcher at Farmers’ Gate Market in Wales, explained it was the same fat that protects the animal’s kidneys that, when rendered, makes the very best pie crusts. The back fat, which is greasier, is best used for frying, she added.

Both the historian and the nutritionist in the group wanted to understand how to better tell the story of the pig’s journey from farm to kitchen, their own kitchen or those of their clients. As several of us examined our pig’s head, fellow Farmers’ Gate butcher Logan Higger, on hand to assist Joslin in the oversight of novice butchers using very sharp knives, explained how the animal died: It was immobilized with a single shot of a captive bolt stun gun, hung by its back feet, had its throat slit, and then was bled out. Face up to its death, Joslin said, so you honor its life.

Christine Burns Rudalevige prepares Asian Pork Jowl Bao. Staff photo by Derek Davis

A University of Southern Maine student sought hands-on knowledge of the differences between commercial butchering practices and those he’d picked up on his own from hunting, skinning and breaking down just about every animal in the Maine woods except for moose and black bear. As he used Joslin’s bone saw to free the shoulder from the spine, we learned that once you’ve cut through the bone you must switch to a knife or risk damaging some of the most expensive cuts, which are in the adjacent loin.

Joslin explained that the position of the pricey cuts at the top of the animal gave rise to the expression “living high off the hog.”

A surgical nurse in the group was not at all squeamish; she was all about the offal – the organs, morsels and unmentionables that “all fall” onto the butcher’s table. She walked out of the class with the head because, she said, she has long wanted to make head cheese.

Lucky for me, you don’t need the jowl – a mix of fatty tissue surrounding the pig’s strong cheek muscles – for head cheese. So I scored the jowl.

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


Farmers’ Gate Market butcher Lily Joslin shows Ed Somers of Bridgton how to remove the pig’s jowl and cheek at the butchering workshop last Sunday at Fork Food Lab in Portland. Photo by Christine Burns Rudalevige

Pork jowls often go into sausage mix, Farmers’ Gate Market butcher Lily Joslin explains, because few Mainers know the cut. But they are available; any butcher shop that breaks down whole or half pigs, will have a few. Joslin advises you to call ahead and ask for as much of the cheek to come with the jowl as possible. You can use jowl in almost any recipe that calls for pork belly, from bacon to bao, small Asian bun sandwiches.

In this recipe, I’ve run with chipotle chilies in adobo as my heat source for the braising liquid, both because I like their smoky flavor and I always have them on hand, frozen into ice cubes. Be warned that jowls need to cook low and slow – 4 to 5 hours slow.

While you wait, you can certainly make your own bao buns, but I buy them frozen from an Asian grocery because my attempts to make them myself have been so inconsistent. That just proves my point about still having a lot to learn.

Makes 12 buns


1 large onion, roughly chopped

4-5 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup applesauce

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 well-trimmed pork jowl, about 3/4 pound


1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

2 green apples, very thinly sliced

1 small to medium red onion, very thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

12 steamed bao buns

To make the jowl, preheat the oven or set a slow cooker to 250 degrees F.

Process the onion, chilies, garlic, syrup, apple cider and vinegar with 1 cup warm water in a blender to a smooth paste.

Place the jowl in a baking dish or the slow cooker and pour the blended braising liquid over it.

Cover the baking dish or the slow cooker.

Braise the jowl for 4 to 5 hours until it is very tender, checking it hourly and adding water if the braising liquid gets any denser than the consistency of applesauce.

Carefully remove the jowl from its braising liquid and place on a cutting board. Cool both jowl and sauce to room temperature and refrigerate until ready to make the sandwiches.

To make the quick pickle, combine the vinegar, syrup, salt and peppercorns in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stir and remove from the heat. Stir in 6 ice cubes to cool the brine.

Place the apples, onion and cilantro in a bowl. Pour the brine over the apple mixture and refrigerate for 20 minutes to meld the flavors.

To serve, slice the braised jowl thinly into 12 pieces. Place a large skillet over high heat. Sear both sides of each slice until crispy.

Snuggle 1 piece of seared jowl inside each warm bao bun.

Top with a little braising liquid and a spoonful of the quick pickles. Serve immediately.

]]> 0 Pork Jowl, Apple and Maple BaoFri, 10 Mar 2017 18:58:28 +0000
Caramelized bananas give your oatmeal the glam treatment Wed, 01 Mar 2017 09:00:00 +0000 This sumptuous breakfast bowl is what happens when frumpy regular oatmeal gets a modern, stylish makeover. It doesn’t take much effort, and the before-and-after results are astounding.

First, the foundation: Using chewy, nutty steel-cut oats makes the most of the cereal’s natural flavor assets; cooking them with red quinoa and stirring in a pop of chia seeds adds compelling texture, color and nutrition; and adding milk to the mix makes it luxuriously creamy.

Then the culinary bling: a topping of warm, sweet, cinnamon-scented caramelized bananas and an optional crunch of toasted walnuts immediately lure you to the table. The bananas look and feel ultra-indulgent, but it takes only a dab of butter, a small amount of brown sugar and three minutes in a skillet to make them so.


Red quinoa is available at Whole Foods Markets, but if you can’t track it down, use regular quinoa instead.

Makes 4 servings

3 cups water, or more as needed

1/2 cup steel-cut oats

1/2 cup red quinoa (see headnote)

1 cup milk of choice (low-fat, whole, almond or coconut), plus more for serving

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 medium firm-ripe bananas

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

11/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, plus more for serving

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces, optional

Bring the 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Stir in the oats; reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir in the quinoa and continue to cook for 10 minutes more. Add the milk and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes. Stir in the chia seeds and vanilla, then remove the pot from the heat, cover it and let it sit while you prepare the bananas. The cereal will thicken.

Peel the bananas and cut them diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Heat the butter in a large nonstick pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bananas to the skillet and cook, turning once, until browned, about 1 minute per side. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and the cinnamon and cook, stirring gently, until the sugar melts, about 1 minute. Add a tablespoon or two of water if the pan seems dry.

Spoon the grain mixture into serving bowls; top with the bananas and the walnuts, if using. Drizzle with additional milk and/or sprinkle with additional sugar, if desired.

]]> 0, 28 Feb 2017 17:58:07 +0000
‘Soframiz’ offers memorable Middle Eastern meals to make every day Wed, 01 Mar 2017 09:00:00 +0000 “Soframiz: Vibrant Middle Eastern Recipes from Sofra Bakery & Cafe,” by Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick. Ten Speed Press. $35.

Perhaps my favorite thing about cooking is the sense of creating something from nothing: Vegetable scraps and a chicken carcass simmered for hours create a delicious broth that puts the boxed versions to shame. Fresh-ground nutmeg added to simple mashed potatoes adds a whole extra layer of flavor that somehow says “home.” Simple oats baked with just the right blend of nuts, spices and maple syrup make breakfast better for days.

“Soframiz” offers recipes from across the Middle East that capture that alchemy of the kitchen, using simple ingredients and uncomplicated processes to create what truly can become, as the book describes them, “beloved everyday dishes.” Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick are the chef and pastry chef behind Sofra Bakery & Cafe and the award-winning Oleana, both in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“Soframiz” means, loosely, “our table,” and the authors explain that their recipes are meant to be mixed and matched, to create a spread, or a meze, that fits the occasion, the company, even the weather, and to create new traditions. It’s a book I can imagine using at my table for years to come.

That may be because my introduction was Chicken Shawarma with Garlic Sauce and Greens, which starts with homemade yufka, a flatbread that is chewy and flaky at once.

Talk about making something from nothing: The ingredient list is salt, water, flour and olive oil. This bread is so good you’ll want to double the batch and stash a few in the freezer for later.

The chicken, marinated in yogurt, lemon juice and a shawarma spice blend, is roasted on a rimmed baking sheet into which you first pour a half cup of water, so that the bird starts cooking in moist heat. The result is tender, deeply flavorful chicken. I’ve made toum, or garlic sauce, before but had never achieved the perfectly creamy consistency created here by poaching the garlic in milk before blending it with lemon juice and olive oil.

Spread on the yufka and topped with chicken and ribbons of spinach, this made for a meal that left my family speechless.

The yufka was equally delicious as the foundation for Sausage Pita with Cumin, Orange and Olive, with the toum replaced by a spread of butter blended with feta cheese.

The book’s clear language and tantalizing photos made me eager to dive into recipes that my lack of patience or precision might otherwise have caused me to avoid, particularly yeast breads and baked goods. The tahini brioche threatened to undermine my confidence, after I let it rise too long and overbaked it slightly. Even with those hiccups, a slice eaten warm with a small mug of Tahini Hot Chocolate was a delightful winter afternoon treat.

Next on my to-try list are Warm Buttered Hummus, Spicy Lamb and Pine Nuts, where the hummus is made in a Turkish style that replaces some of the olive oil with unsalted butter, and revani, a semolina cake soaked in simple syrup infused with chamomile.

Sortun and Kilpatrick have included a sourcing list for the few harder-to-find ingredients they use, such as Maras red pepper, fine chocolate or olive oil. They sell many such items at the Cambridge bakery. While there, if these recipes are any measure, you’ll want to take a seat at their table.


Syrian-style Lentils with Chard Photo by Kristin Teig


Sortun writes that this recipe is a staple at Sofra in the fall, when leafy greens are at their sweetest. It’s easy to see why. The molasses added here makes for a tart dressing that perfectly balances the sweet onion, dark greens and earthy lentils. This recipe avoids overcooking the lentils and chard for a salad that holds up for several days of lunches.

Serves 4 to 6

11/2 cups brown or French green lentils (lentilles du Puy), picked through for stones

3 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

11/2 cups sliced sweet onion, such as Ailsa Craig, Vidalia or Walla Walla

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

10 chard leaves, stalks removed, sliced into thin ribbons (about 3 cups)

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons grape or pomegranate molasses

3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (about 1 bunch)

Freshly ground black pepper

In a saucepan, bring 6 cups water to a boil over high heat. Add the lentils, lower the heat and simmer until just tender, about 20 minutes.

Add 2 teaspoons of salt and let the lentils stand off the heat for 5 minutes to absorb the salt. If the lentils cool down before they have time to absorb the salt, they will be salty on the outside and not seasoned throughout. Drain and spread them onto a baking sheet to cool.

Meanwhile, place a sauté pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté on low heat until the onion starts to brown, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and chard leaves and cook until the chard wilts and is tender, about 3 minutes.

Combine the lentils in a large mixing bowl with the onion and chard mixture. Add the lemon juice, grape or pomegranate molasses, and remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the cilantro, and season with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper to taste.

Serve at room temperature or chilled. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

]]> 0 Lentils with ChardTue, 28 Feb 2017 18:44:16 +0000
For Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins, meatloaf serves as political metaphor Wed, 01 Mar 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Imagine our surprise when idly thumbing through the recently published “A Meatloaf in Every Oven: Two Chatty Cooks, One Iconic Dish and Dozens of Recipes – From Mom’s to Mario Batali’s” we came across a recipe for meatloaf from Sen. Susan Collins.

The book, written with friendly good humor by former New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni (he now writes for the op-ed page) and New York Times correspondent Jennifer Steinhauer, stemmed from obsessive conversations the two food lovers often had at the office about, of all things, meatloaf.

“Meatloaf is the most personal of dishes, and the most autobiographical,” they write in the introduction. “Show us a person’s meatloaf and we’ll show you that person’s soul. Meatloaf is mirror: You are how you loaf.”

The recipes range from the classic to what used to be called “ethnic” (Chicken Curry Masala Loaf with Mango Chutney Glaze). They include loaves made from beef, lamb, turkey or zucchini. There’s high-brow (Auvergne-Style Loaf with Prunes) and homey (Joan Futter’s Meatloaf, made with cornflake crumbs and Lipton onion soup mix).

Collins is in excellent company. Famous chefs are represented (Michael Solomonov of Israeli restaurant Zahav in Philadelphia, for one), and also other politicians: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer share recipes for meatloaf in the “Political Postscript” chapter.

That chapter also relates the following anecdote about Collins, told – as is much of the book – in the form of a chat between Bruni and Steinhauer.

“JENN: We were very proud that we were able to perfectly emulate the loaf of (Collins’) youth in our own kitchens, which we can state with confidence because when we brought her a slice to taste, she was so enamored with it that she wished to discuss it for a full 30 minutes. This did not amuse her staff, who were trying to usher her off to give a speech.

“FRANK: This is why we and so many other Americans respect Senator Collins so much. She has priorities. She has values. She knows what is important, and when standing at a fork in the road, with oratory in one direction and ground meat in the other, she heads without hesitation toward the loaf.”

It’s an oft-heard cliché that sharing food – breaking bread – brings us together. An oversimplification, like most clichés. Still, if ever we needed a Bipartisan Loaf, it’s now.


Recipe and text from “A Meatloaf in Every Oven” by Frank Bruni and Jennifer Steinhauer.

“Senator Susan Collins of Maine may be best known for her willingness to cooperate with colleagues across the aisle and for her expertise on appropriations, but her non-political passion is all things food. She runs a weekly lunch group with her fellow Republicans, in which each member shows off his or her home-state specialty. She spends every weekend in front of the stove or oven, cooking up treats for her husband.

“Among his favorites is the meatloaf created by her mother, Pat. It has a few special twists: pungent dry mustard, horseradish and a topping of barbecue sauce rather than ketchup. ‘I grew up in a large family with five brothers and sisters,’ the senator told us. ‘The six of us all had very different food preferences, but on one thing we were unanimous: We all loved my mother’s meatloaf.’ ”

Serves 6

2 teaspoons olive oil

3/4 cup minced onion

2 large eggs

2 pounds ground chuck

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1/4 cup minced green bell peppers

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

2 tablespoons dry mustard

1/4 cup whole milk

3/4 cup barbecue sauce

1 slice bacon

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet or a large baking pan with parchment paper. (This loaf can also be made in a lightly oiled loaf pan, to keep it strictly Pat Collins correct.)

2. Warm the olive oil in a small skillet over low heat, add the onions and saute until they are soft and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly with a fork. Mix in the beef and then the breadcrumbs (slightly cooled), onions and bell peppers. Add the horseradish, dry mustard, milk and 1/4 cup of the barbecue sauce.

4. Place the bacon slice lengthwise on top, and then spread the remaining 1/2 cup barbecue sauce over the loaf.

5. Bake for roughly 50 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches about 150 degrees F. Let the loaf rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

]]> 0 Susan Collins and her husband, Thomas Daffron, visit Raye's Mustard in Eastport. Her meatloaf, featuring dry mustard, is one of his favorite dishes of hers.Thu, 02 Mar 2017 00:49:10 +0000
Smooth, homemade tofu helps Maine restaurant keep its edge Wed, 01 Mar 2017 09:00:00 +0000 BRUNSWICK — It’s all about the soybeans.

To make the best tofu, says Saskia Poulos, kitchen manager at Tao Yuan restaurant, start with the best quality soybeans. Tofu is, after all, just soybeans and water.

She pinched open a plump dried bean that had been soaked overnight, revealing a light cream-colored interior.

“You just want to make sure that they’re super hydrated so they’re nice and creamy all the way through,” Poulos said.

Once a week, sometimes twice, Poulos comes into the kitchen at Tao Yuan before the cooks arrive for the day to make the soy milk that will then be used to make a batch of tofu. Tao Yuan has not done a lot with tofu in the past, but after chef/owner Cara Stadler returned from a trip to China in January, she realized “we need to be using more of it.” (Stadler’s maternal grandparents are Chinese.)

Stadler acknowledges there are local companies making perfectly fine tofu, and purchasing it could save her staff time.

“But everything is better when you do it yourself,” she said. “You have control of the product. You have the consistency you want. You have the texture.”

It’s part of a broader philosophy that has Stadler slowly working her way through the Tao Yuan pantry, finding ways to make her own versions of products the restaurant had been buying commercially. Making tofu brings Stadler close to another key goal, as well – preventing waste in her kitchen.

“We started making our own miso a few years ago,” she said. “We’re trying to figure out how to make all of our brown sauces on our own. I’m trying to make my own black bean chili sauce. We’re in the process of trying to make almost everything in-house if we can. And tofu is easy to make.”

Poulos may now be the designated tofu maker, but until just a few weeks ago she was a complete novice. Her first step was sourcing. So many soybeans are genetically modified, but Poulos was determined to find a company that grows non-GMO soybeans. She found it in Laura’s Soybeans, grown on a large family farm in Iowa.

Next, she consulted Andrea Nguyen’s book, “Asian Tofu: Discover the Best, Make Your Own, and Cook It at Home,” and watched Nguyen’s YouTube video four times before she felt ready to try making tofu herself.

It’s a simple process, she said, but it can be tricky if you are – as she is – experimenting with different textures.

To make a small batch – one large block of tofu – Poulos starts by making soy milk: she soaks 170 grams of dried soybeans in 2 quarts of water overnight. After draining the soybeans, Poulos blends them with some of the soaking water until the mix is the consistency of a milkshake.

As she works, she occasionally refers to handwritten notes she’s made during previous tofu-making sessions. Other than the restaurant’s pastry chef, she is the only one in the small kitchen at mid-morning – the cooks won’t arrive until nearly noon.

A coagulant separates the soy milk into curds and whey, which Saskia Poulos ladles into a lined bamboo tofu mold. Staff photo by Jill Brady

Poulos gently pours the contents of the blender into a pot of hot water on the stove top; a giant pot of chicken-and-duck stock has been simmering all night on an adjacent burner. She stirs the soybean mixture frequently as it heats up to prevent it from sticking. As soon as it starts to foam and rise – like dairy milk, it will boil over if not watched carefully – Poulos turns off the heat and strains the soy milk through a cloth-lined sieve.

Soy milk is typically strained through a double layer of cheesecloth, but Poulos has found something better – the cloth bags used to pack scallops at Upstream Trucking, the restaurant’s seafood purveyor. (They are washable and reusable.)

Poulos squeezes and presses the solids left in the bag to get as much milk out of them as she can; she pours a little more reserved bean soaking water over the solids to extract the maximum amount of milk.


The soybean solids, or soy pulp, are known as okara in Japanese, and they never go to waste in Stadler’s kitchen. She’s found a variety of uses for them. The texture resembles an almost gritty paste, but the taste, like tofu, is a blank slate, “so it’s super versatile,” Poulos said.

For one, Stadler uses the okara to fill a dumpling, first sauteeing the pulp with abalone mushrooms, ginger, garlic and soy, and serving the dumpling with broth made from kombu seaweed and scallop “feet.” (Scallop feet are muscles too tough to serve, so Stadler dries them, then rehydrates and shreds them to use in soups or sauces.)

“It almost tastes like creamy shellfish because these mushrooms, when they cook, taste like shrimp, and this (okara) acts like ricotta,” Stadler said. “We ended up pairing it with a shellfish broth because it tastes so seafoody. But it’s just a really interesting flavor and texture.”

Stadler also uses the okara in yangyou ma doufu, a creamy spread she describes as “Chinese-style hummus” because it has similar consistency and is served with flatbread. That dish, which also calls for fermented greens, lamb belly, lamb fat and chili oil, is “a byproduct dish,” she said, not only using up the okara but also other leftover ingredients from making other dishes. “It’s making sure we don’t waste anything,” Stadler said, “and it’s one of my favorite dishes.”

As for the soy milk, Tao Yuan uses some of it for an egg custard topped with steamed fish, but the bulk of it goes to make tofu.


To make the tofu, Poulos heats the soy milk to a simmer. As it’s heating, she points out a thin skin that develops on top. Tofu skin is used in many Asian dishes, usually commercial skins that have been dried. “You rehydrate them, and they’re really delicious,” Poulos said. (Finding ways to use the skin is the next project at Tao Yuan, but the restaurant doesn’t yet make enough tofu to keep the skin on the menu consistently, Stadler said.)

Once the soy milk is simmering, Poulos turns down the heat to “let it do its thing for 5 minutes.” Meanwhile, she adds nigari, a coagulant, to water, stirring until it dissolves. She takes the soy milk off the heat and stirs it vigorously while she pours in some of the coagulant. She stops stirring, but holds the spoon in the middle of the pot to help slow down the movement of the soy milk.

The tofu is starting to set up. Poulos adds more coagulant, a little at a time, dripping it around the pan for full, even coverage. She puts a lid on the pot and sets a timer. Three minutes later, she adds the last of the coagulant, agitating it to disperse it.

“You see how it’s separating out so you have essentially curds and whey?” Poulos asked.

Poulos assembles her wooden tofu mold – she bought it on Amazon – and places it in a perforated pan. She lines the mold with a scallop bag, wets the cloth with some of the whey and starts ladling in the curds and whey. The whey drips through holes in the side of the mold and a slit in the bottom, then through the perforated pan.

“This is important,” Poulos instructed. “You want to get it in the biggest clumps, the biggest pieces, that you can, because that also affects texture.”

Owner/head chef Cara Cara Stadler garnishes mapo doufu, made with from-scratch tofu, at Tao Yuan. Staff photo by Jill Brady

When it’s done draining, she folds over the cloth and then weights it down. Now Poulos lets the curds set up for 15 to 20 minutes. What she removes from the mold is now tofu, which is stored in cold water in a plastic tub. The whole process has taken no more than an hour and a half.

The leftover whey – it’s known as tofu milk – gives Stadler yet another opportunity to recycle: it can be used in rice dishes or to braise meats.


Tao Yuan’s tofu tastes incredibly fresh, as if it had been made with spring water instead of ordinary tap water. The texture seems smoother than store-bought tofu.

It absorbs flavors better than commercial tofu, Stadler says.

“Anything fresher is better,” she said.

Stadler uses the tofu in dishes such as mapo doufu, a popular dish that will be featured at her Sichuan regional dinner March 19. She has been freezing the tofu, too, because “it creates this weird structure. Then when it defrosts, it’s like a sponge. It sucks up sauce.” And she’s working on ultra-dense, “super-pressed” tofu to use in salad.

“It’s not easy to do because we can’t get the pressure right,” Stadler said. But made commercially, she said, it “tastes disgusting, so until I learn how to make it myself I’m never going to have it on my menu.”

Smiling like a kid anticipating her first time at bat, Stadler said she also wants to make “stinky tofu,” or choudoufu. This fermented tofu smells, she says, like “straight-up dirty gym socks.”

But it tastes great, she adds.

“If I can find a way of doing it, I’m doing it,” she said.

]]> 0 Poulos, kitchen manager at Tao Yuan in Brunswick, checks her timer while waiting for soy milk to thicken for homemade tofu. The restaurant makes its own soy milk, which it uses to make tofu. "Everything is better when you do it yourself," says chef/owner Cara Stadler.Tue, 28 Feb 2017 23:51:27 +0000
With ‘Posh Eggs’ on your shelf, you’ll never lack for egg cookery inspiration Wed, 22 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 “Posh Eggs: Over 70 recipes for wonderful eggy things.” By Lucy O’Reilly. Quadrille Publishing Limited. 176 pages. $19.95.

If you don’t already appreciate the versatility of the simple egg, you will be the time you’ve finished flipping through “Posh Eggs: Over 70 recipes for wonderful eggy things.”

“From providing reassuringly humble treats to something very, very posh, without the mighty egg, our culinary lives would be infinitely poorer,” Lucy O’Reilly writes in the introduction.

Eggs are a staple in my kitchen, but I rarely experiment with new ways to serve them. There are only so many ways to make fritattas and scrambled eggs interesting, so I was excited to get my hands on “Posh Eggs.” Nearly every recipe appeals to me: the egg foo yung and egg drop soup, the traditional Greek lemon and egg soup, the salmon quiche with pink peppercorns.

O’Reilly, a U.K.-based freelance food stylist and writer, opens the book with the most basic and helpful instructions on how to boil, poach, scramble and fry eggs, though this book may be a bit of a challenge for an inexperienced cook. The recipes are presented in a very straightforward way and some are simple – including the classic retro canape deviled eggs – but others take more skill in the kitchen, like the twice-baked crab souffles topped with crème fraîche and Gruyere. Many of the recipes will appeal to people who appreciate complex flavors, like in the Turkish Menemen. O’Reilly says the “simple yet gutsy” baked egg dish is best serve straight from the pan with warm flatbreads for mopping and dipping.

I’ll admit that I often choose cookbooks with my eyes (at least initially) and have a hard time inspiring myself to try a new recipe that doesn’t include photos. For me, “Posh Eggs” was a visual delight. The photos, by Louise Hagger, may be among the most beautiful I’ve seen in a cookbook.

I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the photo of the Israeli Green Shakshuka, and not just because the dish was plated on a stunning vintage Catherineholm platter I lusted over. The shakshuka looked luscious: a bright orange yolk dusted with pepper and nestled on a pile of greens scattered with bright green sprigs of dill and bright red chilis. The dish was easy to prepare, and packed a big flavor punch. The yolk added a nice richness to complement the sweet onion, salty feta and olives and crisp greens.

The book is divided into five sections based on type of eggs: breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, and desserts and drinks. I found the Green Shakshuka in the lunch section, but really I’d eat that for any meal of the day. Or maybe twice in a day. This recipe will now be in regular rotation in my kitchen.

I prepared the shakshuka as instructed by O’Reilly, but didn’t use the optional sumac (which would given it a pleasingly sour wallop). It wasn’t available at my small local grocery store, but should be available in bigger stores or specialty shops. O’Reilly suggests using purple kale if you come across it to add an extra pop of color to the already bright dish.

Green Shakshuka Photo by Louise Hagger


Serves 2; takes 25 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

2 ounces mixed shredded greens such as kale or chard (any thick stems removed)

4 ounces baby spinach leaves

3 tablespoons double (heavy) cream

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1.5 ounces black and green pitted olives, roughly chopped

2 eggs

2 ounces feta

Handful chopped parsley leaves

Small handful dill sprigs

1/2 red chili pepper, finely sliced

Pinch of sumac (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a small frying pan, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over a low heat until softened. Stir in the garlic and spices, and continue to cook for a couple minutes. Add the shredded greens and season well. Cover and cook for 1 minute, then uncover and continue to cook for 3 minutes. Add the baby spinach, folding through to wilt the leaves.

Stir in the cream, lemon juice and olives. Make 2 depressions in the vegetables and crack your eggs into these. Crumble over the feta and scatter with the herbs and chili. Season the eggs with the sumac and salt and pepper, then cook gently for 12 minutes or until the egg whites have set. Serve in the pan at the table.

]]> 0 ShakshukaTue, 21 Feb 2017 18:29:20 +0000
Veggie-focused spin does a Cincinnati chili one better Wed, 22 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 This recipe is a loose interpretation of a true Cincinnati chili, but that richly spiced meat dish is a loose interpretation of chili to begin with, so I figure it is OK that I am tapping into the same spirit of inspiration and innovation here.

The warmly spiced and fragrant flavor of the Midwestern classic is at this recipe’s core. Mine is made with lean ground beef or turkey, cooked low and slow with tomatoes and what might seem like just about every spice in your cupboard: chili powder, paprika, allspice, cinnamon, cloves and more. After a minimum of an hour, the ingredients seem almost melted, and a deep, mole-like savory-sweet flavor develops.

But whereas the typical Cincinnati chili is soupier and often served ladled over spaghetti, this one has the chunky-thick texture you typically expect when you think “chili” – plus a more vegetable-focused spin, as it is served over ribbons of spaghetti squash. I make mine a “five-way,” as they call it in that Ohio city: topped with beans, chopped onion and shredded cheese for a crowd-pleasing and healthful comfort food meal that just may become a new classic.


The chili can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Makes 4 to 6 servings (about 6 cups)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large white or yellow onion, chopped

1 large green bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 pound ground beef or ground turkey (90 to 93 percent lean)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon unsweetened natural (not Dutch-process) cocoa powder

2 teaspoons sweet or mild paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt, or more as needed

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 bay leaf

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

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses

1 spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)

1 cup canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained (from one 14-ounce can), for garnish

1/4 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese, for garnish

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, for garnish

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper and beef or turkey and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with the spoon, until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic.

Whisk together the chili powder, cocoa powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and cloves in a small bowl, then add to the pot; cook for 1 minute, stirring, until fragrant. Add the bay leaf, the tomatoes and their juices, the water and molasses, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, use a sharp knife to cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds (reserve for another use or discard, as you wish). To cook the squash in the microwave, place one half, cut side down, in a microwave-safe baking dish with about a half-inch of water; microwave on high for 5 to 7 minutes, until the squash is tender. Repeat with the other half of the squash.

(Alternatively, you can roast the squash halves in a 400-degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes, cut sides down, in a baking dish with about a half-inch of water in the dish, until tender.)

Transfer the cooked squash to a cutting board and allow it to cool slightly, then use a fork to scrape out the squash flesh into spaghetti-like ribbons. Transfer to a bowl, draining off any excess liquid, and cover to keep warm.

When ready to serve, discard the bay leaf from the chili. Taste, and add a bit more salt, as needed. Place the squash in a serving dish or divide among individual bowls or mugs. Ladle the chili over the squash. Garnish with the kidney beans, cheese and red onion.

]]> 0, 21 Feb 2017 18:37:25 +0000
Shrimp cooked in romesco tantalizes Wed, 22 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 As memorably as I’ve eaten away from home over the years, there’s no restaurant, anywhere, that calls to me like Zuni Cafe in San Francisco, where for four glorious years in the 1990s I covered the food scene for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Judy Rodgers, Zuni’s longtime minder and chef, is mostly to thank for the many fond memories. Before she died in 2003, too young at 57, she wrote “The Zuni Cafe Cookbook” (2002, W.W. Norton). Of the hundreds of cookbooks on my shelves at home, hers would be the first one I’d reach for in a fire. Not only is it a scrapbook of sorts of a time and place I cherish, it’s also a master class in how and why good cooks do what they do.


As Judy Rodgers noted in her headnote for this recipe, the flavor of the sauce improves with a day’s refrigeration. We’ve streamlined a few steps, thanks to the availability of prepped ingredients that weren’t around 14 years ago. But be advised that the recipe does call for several pans.

The sauce needs to sit for 30 minutes (in the saucepan).

Adapted from Rodgers’ “The Zuni Cafe Cookbook” (W.W. Norton, 2003).

Makes 4 servings

About 1 cup mild-tasting olive oil, or as needed

1 thick slice (11/2 ounces) chewy white country bread, torn into several pieces

3 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste

1 dried ancho chili pepper, stemmed, seeded and soaked for 1 to 2 minutes in boiling water

1/2 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) blanched almonds

1 ounce (1/4 cup) skinned unsalted hazelnuts, toasted (see note)

1/2 cup drained, coarsely chopped fire-roasted tomatoes

1 teaspoon assertive red wine vinegar, preferably Spanish (as a substitute, may add a few drops of sherry vinegar to another red wine vinegar)

1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton), or more as needed

1/2 teaspoon mild paprika, or more as needed

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

1 cup no-salt-added chicken broth, seafood stock, water or a combination

3 tablespoons dry white wine

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

About 11/4 pounds peeled, deveined large or jumbo shrimp, preferably American wild-caught (tails on or off)

12 ounces fresh spinach

Water (optional)

FOR THE SAUCE: Line a plate with paper towels. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Pour the mild-tasting olive oil into a medium skillet to a depth of 1/2 inch; heat over medium heat. Use a small piece of bread to test the temperature; once the oil barely sizzles around the bread in the skillet, add the rest of the bread. Fry for a total of 2 to 3 minutes, turning as needed, until golden on both sides.

Combine the garlic, the rehydrated ancho chili pepper, the cooled fried bread pieces, almonds and hazelnuts in a food processor. Pulse to a moist paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the tomatoes and pulse a few times, then add the vinegar, smoked paprika, mild paprika, 1/4 cup of the extra-virgin olive oil and a good pinch of salt; pulse just to combine, forming a thick sauce.

Taste, and add salt or paprika as needed.

Spread the sauce in a small, shallow baking dish; roast (middle rack) for about 8 minutes or until the surface has darkened, with occasional brown flecks.

Meanwhile, heat the broth, seafood stock, water or combination of those liquids, plus the wine, in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the just-browned romesco sauce base until well incorporated. Cover, and turn off the heat; let it sit for 30 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onion and a couple pinches of salt; cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent.

Stir in the rested romesco sauce; once it has warmed through, add the shrimp and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook gently for 6 to 7 minutes, turning the shrimp over, until they are opaque and cooked through.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the spinach and season lightly with salt. Use tongs to turn the leaves until just wilted and bright green.

Divide the spinach among individual plates.

If the romesco sauce seems too thick to spoon over with the shrimp, stir in a little water. Spoon the shrimp and sauce over each portion of spinach. Serve right away.

NOTE: Toast the hazelnuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for several minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant, shaking the pan often to prevent scorching. Let cool completely.

]]> 0, 21 Feb 2017 18:43:17 +0000
Annie Mahle is back with her second ‘Sugar & Salt’ book Wed, 22 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 At 21, newly minted college graduate and Michigan native Annie Mahle tacked left. She needed an advance degree to make a career for herself in psychology, “but I could not make myself look at Ph.D. programs, take the tests.”

“I knew I needed to take a break from school,” she continued. “I said, ‘I am going to travel. I am going to learn how to sail and I am not calling home for money.’ It’s the first time I made an intentional decision about my own life that didn’t have to do with anybody else’s desires for me.”

She came to Maine, where she found work on a windjammer. In short order, she fell in love with Jon, the man who would become her husband. And she fell in love with cooking. Thus is one’s life course charted.

Today, Mahle and Jon Finger, co-captain the J.&E. Riggin and their teenage daughters serve as crew. Every summer for the last 20, they have sailed the schooner in and around Penobscot Bay, with Mahle cooking lavish meals (local eggs, homemade breads, curried lamb and lentil stew, homemade pies…) over a wood stove for as many as 30 vacationers. Winters, the family lives in Rockland. Over the years, Mahle has written cooking columns for the Portland Press Herald – The Maine Ingredient and Sea Food – and she recently self-published her second cookbook in the series, “Sugar & Salt: A Year at Home and at Sea.”

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: When did your interest in cooking develop?

A: I didn’t start being interested in food, really interested, until I came out to work on the windjammers, and I saw pies and jams being made by hand. The more I saw things at their origin, made from scratch, the more interested I became in well, how do you make your own vanilla? How do you make mustard? How do you make sauerkraut? And they taste so different! It wasn’t until I came to Maine did that ignite a food curiosity and lifelong investigation into this.

Q: You’ve just written your third cookbook. Do you use cookbooks yourself?

A: I use cookbooks as inspiration. I have a lot of them. The books I buy now are very niched – fermentation or pasta making by a master or sourdough bread. Things where I want to delve deeper into a particular subject. I love looking at general cookbooks and old cookbooks, but I don’t use them in the way that I used to.

I’m sort of constitutionally unable to follow a recipe at this point. I’m always thinking, ‘Oh, interesting, I wonder if I just tweaked it here, how would it be better or what would happen?’ The other thing is that’s something that I have to do, because on the boat there are numerous times when I thought we had enough of some ingredient, but I used it to cook something else, so I’m constantly substituting one ingredient for another because I can’t go to the grocery store and get it.

Q: Do you have a favorite cooking task?

A: I love to make bread. Bread is baking. It can be very precise. At the same time you are dealing with a live organism. You need to be really present when you are making bread.

Q: Some people say there is a divide between bakers and cooks. Do you think so? Which do you consider yourself?

A: Bakers are people who feel most satisfied following the rules. They are more precise, more accurate. Cooks are more fluid, more creative, more flexible but then not always consistent. I am definitely a cook. That doesn’t mean you can’t do both if you know that about yourself: I know for sure the things I have to do the same every time (when I am baking) and the things that I can change.

Q: So now tell us about a kitchen task you don’t like so much.

A: (Long pause.) It’s really nice if I have somebody cleaning up after me.

Q: What advice do you have for someone cooking on a boat?

A: Keep it simple. Stay organized. And remember cooking for your family is always more nourishing than a machine cooking for your family. There is soul in that. There is heart in that. Honor the effort and the care.

Q: What are the most important provisions to stock on the boat?

A: I always have extra of the basics – flour, butter, sugar and eggs. I never leave the dock without 1½ to 2 times what I need of those ingredients. With the basic ingredients, if I am missing something else, I can still make something.

At home I would never be without greens and eggs. To me, an egg is such an elegant protein, and we have our own chickens so they are the freshest eggs you can possibly have.

Q: Do you cook differently on land than at sea?

A: Not really. The biggest difference is that I’m not cooking for 30 people. At home, I have the hardest time paring down the amount we would eat. And we don’t have a dog so that doesn’t help, either. I suppose the other thing that changes in the wintertime is we eat more simply.

Q: Wait a minute! I thought you have no electricity on the boat? That’s not different?

A: (Loud, long laughter) That’s a good point. It’s funny – I make that transition so seamlessly it doesn’t even occur to me. I cook on a wood stove on the boat, so the biggest difference is I don’t have to get up at 4:30 a.m. at home to light the wood stove. (More laughter.)

There are a lot of things you can do to control the heat of a wood stove, but like baking bread, wood heat or heat from a fire is an alive being. It ebbs and it flows and it needs tending. It definitely needs paying attention to. I love it. I love the smell of it. I love the warmth of it. I love the glow of it. I love that stove and the flavor that I can evoke from it.

And at the same time, I am grateful to have a gas oven at home when I am just cooking for three or four people. On the boat, cooking is my full-time job, well, one of 10 jobs, whereas at home cooking is not nearly as central to my daily life. It’s a part of, mixed in with, writing and taxes and balancing the checkbook.

Q: I’m curious about the title of your cookbook series – “Sugar & Salt: A Year at Home and at Sea.” Where did that come from?

A: My life is spent on the ocean for half of the year, so that’s the salt, and then on land the other half of the year, so sugar – sugar cane. These are really basic ingredients that are part of our palate, the palate of life and the palate of food.


Annie Mahle says this is one of her favorite recipes in her new book, the second in the series “Sugar & Salt: A Year at Home and at Sea.” We interviewed her just as a blizzard was bearing down on Maine. “This is just about the exact time of year and circumstances that I made that recipe,” she told us.

To get refrigerated eggs to room temperature, place the eggs in a bowl of warm water while you prep the rest of your ingredients. If the hot pasta doesn’t set up the eggs, try returning the pan to the residual heat of the burner – without turning it on.

Mahle likes to serve the carbonara with her Beet, Pear and Cranberry Salad with Shaved Asiago.

Serves 4 to 6

1 pound spaghetti

4 large eggs, room temperature

6 ounces (about 3/4 cup lightly packed) grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to serve

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 ounces prosciutto, sliced into 1/4-inch strips

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1/2 cup minced fresh Italian parsley

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Several grinds fresh black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente according to package instructions.

Beat the eggs with a fork in a small bowl until they are frothy. Add the cheese to the eggs and beat again to mix. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the prosciutto and sauté for 1 minute. Add the garlic and remove the pan from the heat. After a minute, add the parsley.

When the pasta is done, drain it and immediately add it to the skillet with the prosciutto and garlic. Add the egg mixture, season with the salt and pepper, and gently but quickly incorporate all with rubber-tipped tongs or a wooden spoon.

The process of mixing the pasta should take less than 1 minute. Serve immediately with extra grated Parmesan cheese and black pepper.


Also from Mahle’s new book, this salad and the dressing below.

Serves 4 to 6

8 cups (about 8 ounces) lightly packed spinach

2 tablespoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

Pinch kosher salt

Several grinds fresh black pepper

1 recipe Beets with White Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 pear, cored and sliced thinly

1/4 cup dried cranberries

2 ounces (about 1/4 cup) shaved Asiago cheese

Toss the spinach with the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large salad bowl. Add the Beets with White Balsamic Vinaigrette. Top with the pear slices, cranberries and Asiago. Serve immediately.


Makes about 3 cups

1 pound small to medium beets

1 tablespoon good quality extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

Pinch kosher salt

Several grinds fresh black pepper

Trim the root tips and greens from the beets and wash well. Reserve the greens for another use.

Cover the beets with salted water in a medium stockpot and bring the water to a boil. Boil until the beets are just tender, 30-35 minutes, and drain. Let the beets cool until you are able to touch them. Peel. Cut into quarters or smaller.

Toss the beets with the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl.

]]> 0 Mahle in her kitchen at home in Rockland. Mahle has recently self-published the second cookbook in her "Sugar & Salt" series.Tue, 21 Feb 2017 19:15:54 +0000
The Maine Ingredient: Rediscover the pleasures of hash for breakfast, brunch or supper Wed, 22 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Sometimes I’ll go months without making hash, and then I suddenly remember its pleasures and take off on a hash riff, making not just the corned beef classic, but using clams or leftover chicken or turkey or other meat.

Hash used to have a less than stellar reputation as an odds-and-ends kind of dish, but now it often makes an appearance on high-end restaurant menus, usually for breakfast or brunch. I love it for supper.


You can use fresh chopped hard-shell clams and their liquor here, of course, but chopped pasteurized clams, either fresh or frozen make a delicious hash, and even canned clams will do. Include about 2/3 of a cup of the clam liquid in your hash mix. Serve with a grape tomato salad and warm cornbread.

Makes 3 to 4 servings

1¼ pounds all-purpose or russet potatoes, peeled and cut in 2-inch chunks

6 slices bacon, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

12 ounces partially drained chopped clams, fresh, thawed frozen, or canned

1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup chopped parsley

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water to cover until just barely tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain. When they are cool enough to handle, cut into ½-inch dice.

In a very large, heavy (preferably cast iron) skillet, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon bits with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off excess grease, leaving about 3 tablespoons of drippings in the skillet. Add the onion and green pepper and cook over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes until the vegetables are beginning to soften. Stir in the reserved bacon, potatoes, clams, thyme, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring well once or twice. Stir in the parsley, raise the heat to medium-high and cook uncovered, flattening the hash and turning it over in sections as it browns, until it is browned and crisp, about 10 more minutes.

Serve directly from the pan.


This is the perfect vehicle for using up leftover roast chicken or turkey, or you can make it with rotisserie-roasted chicken from the deli. I’d suggest a salad of dark leafy greens and whole wheat rolls as accompaniments.

Makes 3 to 4 servings

4 cups diced, cooked, unpeeled red-skinned potatoes

4 cups (16 ounces) diced cooked chicken or turkey

1 cup thinly sliced scallions

¾ cup sweetened dried cranberries

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or 2 teaspoons crumbled dried

¾ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

½ cup half-and-half or light cream, plus 2-3 tablespoons

3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Toss together the potatoes, chicken, scallions, cranberries, sage, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Drizzle on the ½ cup cream and toss to combine well.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a very large, heavy (preferably cast iron) skillet. Add the hash mixture, spreading evenly and pressing down with a spatula. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, uncovering to stir well every 5 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high, and cook uncovered, stirring often, until the hash is crusty and rich golden brown, about 10 minutes more. If the hash seems too dry, add the additional tablespoon of oil to the pan.

Just before serving, stir in the remaining 2-3 tablespoons of cream. Taste, add more salt if necessary, and serve.

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:

]]> 0 PORTLAND, ME - FEBRUARY 26: Chef Matt Tremblay (cq) of Sea Dog Brewing Co. presented this dish of prime rib hash with a fried egg and truffle Hollandaise served on a biscuit at the Incredible Breakfast Cook-off at Sea Dog Brewing Company in South Portland Friday, February 26, 2016. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer)Wed, 22 Feb 2017 10:48:51 +0000
To fight sickness or even a broken heart, a soothing stew works wonders Wed, 15 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Some cooks head to the kitchen at the first sign of those in need, a bit like firefighters who rush to answer emergency calls. Homemade food can help when a friend is ill, a heart is broken, a new neighbor has moved in or a relative has welcomed home a new baby. In such situations, I turn to one recipe that is spirit-building and tummy-warming: lamb stew.

Although it is humble, a stew can achieve greatness. What is boeuf bourguignon but stew with a fancy name? A thick gravy cloaks large pieces of tender meat surrounded by hearty vegetables that burst with flavor. It brings comfort.

My first piece of advice is to ignore those packages of pre-cut “stew meat” in the grocery store. Generally, the pieces are too small and will disintegrate into nubs – not the least bit satisfying. Ask the butcher to cut the meat into 2-inch cubes or 4-by-1-inch strips. Alternatively, buy whole cuts and do it yourself. For this stew, I use lamb shoulder and a lamb shank. The latter adds flavor and lends a velvety texture with its bone, marrow and collagen.

Use a heavy pan that can take the heat, and brown the meat until it is suitably crusted. That deep color will tint the all-important gravy. The onions, too, need to brown significantly. Because small and sweet cipollini onions are more widely available, I was inspired to use them instead of the pearl onions I typically reach for. Any onions can be a pain to prep, but all the peeling is worth it for this stew.

Pour in a wine such as malbec, merlot, cahors: opulent choices for the gravy base and equally suitable in a glass alongside. This stew can stand up to a hearty red.

In my recipe, some vegetables cook with the meat, while others are added at the end. Potatoes cannot take the hours of cooking called for, so boil them separately and stir them in along with the peas, which go in minutes before the dish is done. But carrots and celery, which flavor both the meat and the gravy, benefit from a slow, burbling bath. Abundant herbs are tied into a bundle that includes star anise, which subtly echoes some of the spice notes of the wine.

Give this stew time. Two hours in the oven or about eight hours in the slow cooker will yield a beautiful, satisfying meal. If possible, give it a day’s rest in the refrigerator so the flavors can get to know each other.

Serve it to those who are recovering. This stew tastes as if it’s good for just about anything that ails them.


In addition to the stove-top-and-oven method, this stew can be done in a slow cooker; see the variation below.

The sweetness of small, whole cipollini onions is particularly delicious here. But if you can’t find them, use pearl onions, which won’t take as long to brown. Frozen/defrosted pearl onions will work in this recipe.

Serve with a green salad and warm dinner rolls.

Like all slow braises, this stew tastes even better the next day. Leftovers can be spooned over pasta or rice or thinned with broth for a soupy version of the original. The base stew freezes like a dream. Don’t freeze the potatoes and peas, but rather wait to add them when reheating.

Makes 12 servings (3 quarts)

2/3 cup flour

11/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 lamb shank (1 to 11/2 pounds total)

21/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder (excess fat trimmed), cut into 2-inch chunks

12 ounces cipollini onions, root ends removed (see headnote)

6 medium carrots (trimmed), scrubbed well and cut crosswise into 1-inch chunks

3 ribs celery, cut crosswise in 1/2-inch slices

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

Herb bundle, tied with kitchen twine (10 parsley stems, 6 thyme stems, 2 rosemary stems, 1 bay leaf, 1 whole star anise)

3 wide strips lemon peel (no pith)

2 cups robust red wine, such as malbec or merlot

4 cups no-salt-added chicken or veal broth

10 to 15 tiny red potatoes or 8 to 12 medium red potatoes (11/2 pounds total)

11/2 cups fresh or frozen petite green peas

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment to fit just inside the pot.

Place 1/3 cup of the flour on a plate or in a shallow bowl; stir in 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper.

Heat the oil in a large (5-quart or larger) Dutch oven or a big, heavy skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the lamb shank and brown well on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Keep the pan over medium heat.

Use paper towels to pat dry the pieces of lamb shoulder. Coat the meat in the seasoned flour, then add it to the hot pan, taking care not to crowd the pan. Brown the pieces on all sides, then transfer them to the bowl holding the shank.

Add the cipollini onions to the pan and brown them well, turning them at least once; this should take about 10 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and butter, stirring to coat as the butter melts into the oils in the pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup of flour over the vegetables in the pan, stir well and cook until the flour begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the herb bundle, the strips of lemon peel and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.

Slide the lamb shank and pieces of lamb shoulder, plus any accumulated juices, into the pan. Pour the wine over everything and turn up the heat, bringing the wine to a boil and cooking off the strong alcohol smell, 3 to 5 minutes once it’s boiling. Add the broth and return to a boil.

Cover the stew with the parchment paper (placing it directly on the surface) and then cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Transfer to the middle oven rack and cook until the meat is tender, 11/2 to 2 hours.

Meanwhile, put the potatoes in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and add a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook until tender, 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the potatoes’ size. Drain.

Once the stew is finished, discard the herb bundle and strips of lemon peel. (If the star anise has slipped out, be sure to search for it; nobody wants to bite into that.) Remove the lamb shank from the stew; detach the meat and return it to the pot in chunks. Discard the bone.

Add the cooked potatoes to the stew, then stir in the peas, which will cook through with the heat of the stew in a minute or two. Taste, and add more salt and/or pepper, as needed.

Serve piping hot, in shallow bowls.

VARIATION: To make this stew in the slow cooker, follow the directions above, browning the shank and flour-coated meat, then browning the onions, and cooking the alcohol off the wine. If you have a slow cooker with a saute function, those steps may be accomplished in the slow cooker. Combine the meats, onions, carrots, celery, seasonings and broth (everything except the potatoes and peas) in the slow cooker. If you have a dual-heat slow cooker, bring the stew to a boil on HIGH before reducing the heat to LOW; cook for 7 to 9 hours, until the meat is tender. Remove the shank from the stew and take the meat off the bone, cutting it into chunks before putting it back in the slow cooker. Add the cooked potatoes and heat for another few minutes, until the potatoes are warmed through, then stir in the peas.

]]> 0 lamb stew requires two hours in the oven or about eight hours in the slow cooker.Tue, 14 Feb 2017 18:00:31 +0000
These bars give lemon lovers a chocolate twist Wed, 15 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Up the game on lemon bars by using a chocolate crust instead of the usual all-purpose flour one.

The holy trinity for a lemon bar crust is flour, butter and sugar, usually powdered sugar as granulated sugar can produce a brittle texture, giving it a shortbread taste and feel.

There’s nothing wrong with that tried and true recipe, but how about amping the flavor and giving the crust some chocolate love that would still have a buttery goodness about it?

It’s easy to scoff and say lemon bars are for rookies, since all it takes is to whisk egg yolks, cream cheese or heavy cream (if you want it creamy), sugar or sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and lemon zest together, pour the mixture into a crust and then bake. And voila, you have a citrusy treat.

But take a pause, and keep a few guidelines in mind.

It’s best to crush the cookies with a rolling pin so they are a combination of crumbs and bits to form a sturdy crust to shoulder the weight of the filling. The crumbly mixture needs to be firmly pressed into a baking pan evenly so that it is compact. This helps prevent the crust from crumbling when cut. Then it needs to be baked for about 15 minutes at 325 degrees. The crust needs to stay crisp even after it’s topped with the filling.

I prefer if the bars are not cloying sweet and instead have a bright fresh lemon flavor and plenty of pucker power, so I add finely grated lemon zest to the smooth filling.

A colleague grows a dwarf Meyer lemon tree in a container, and I used the smooth-skinned, juicy, sweet and fragrant fruits of his labor to bake the bars. He said his lemon tree took eight months to bear eight fruits. I kicked myself for “wasting” them in the bars as Meyers generally are not in the least sour, and the ones I used were not tart enough for the bars. They would have received the deserving accolades in a vinaigrette instead.

One way to ensure that squares come out in equal sizes is to first cut the entire square in half and then cut into smaller equal-sized squares.

If you are a lemon-head and a chocoholic, look no further than the lemon chocolate bars.


These creamy, zesty bars are a refreshing addition to any spread, and they come together in no time.

Makes 16 bars


2 cups crushed chocolate cookies

8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, melted


1/4 cup (2 ounces) cream cheese, softened

3 egg yolks

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1/4 cup powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lay two sheets of parchment paper in an 8-by-8-inch baking pan; set aside.

Prepare chocolate crust: Combine crushed cookies and melted butter. Press crust mixture into the bottom of prepared pan.

Bake crust for about 15 minutes.

While the crust is baking, make filling by whisking together cream cheese, egg yolks, condensed milk, lemon juice and lemon zest. Let mixture rest for a few minutes to allow some of the air bubbles to rise to the surface.

Pour filling into warm crust. Place pan back into oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until filling has set.

Remove from oven and let cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar.

]]> 0 up the flavor of lemon bars and give the crust some chocolate love.Tue, 14 Feb 2017 18:04:24 +0000
‘Fresh Fish’ is just the seafood guide a flatlander needed Wed, 15 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 “Fresh Fish: A Fearless Guide to Grilling, Shucking, Searing, Packing and Roasting Seafood.” By Jennifer Trainer Thompson. Storey Publishing. 352 pages. $13.30.

Those glossy fish eyes were staring up at me, and I was staring right back.

I have spent most of my life hundreds of miles from any saltwater body. Since graduating college in Indiana, however, I have moved progressively east until Casco Bay is just outside my front door. I know what to do with poultry or beef in my kitchen, but when it comes to gills and shells, I’m a fish out of water.

My boyfriend, Sean, however, has spent his entire life on the East Coast. He’ll place an order for fresh mussels and a cup of clam chowder before I’ve even read the menu. My first meal with his family in New Hampshire included a lesson on how to cook and crack open a lobster.

So there I was at a fish market in Portland, face to face with a glistening dead haddock, emboldened only by the copy of “Fresh Fish: A Fearless Guide to Grilling, Shucking, Searing, Packing and Roasting Seafood” in my bag.

I had turned to Jennifer Trainer Thompson’s cookbook for advice on how to prepare all the fresh seafood in my new neighborhood. She reassured me I could cook Sean’s favorite seafood dishes – and more.

“Fish is sort of weird looking (never mind the bivalves),” she wrote. “It’s slippery. And those eyes: you don’t see eyes staring at you when you buy or are served cow. Let’s get over it. Fish and shellfish are superfoods – lean, one of the world’s most protein-rich foods, good for your brains and your heart. They are remarkably easy to roast in the winter, pan-fry in the fall, stir-fry in the spring, and grill year-round.”

As the title promises, Thompson covers all types of seafood and all manner of preparing it – it’s a big book, 350 pages. The recipes – 175 of them – are divided into chapters like “Things with Shells” and “Things that Swim.” Thompson includes instructions for hosting a lobster-clambake on the beach, plus recipes for side dishes and desserts to accompany the main course.

Directions are clear and concise. As someone who has scratched her head at the fish counter, I was glad to see many recipes included suggestions on substituting one type of fish for another.

The required ingredients often included kitchen staples like rosemary or paprika, and many main courses required less than a half-hour to prepare and cook. I’ll definitely be flipping through the pages again in search of a quick meal.

The pages are full of glossy photos and stories of seaside life – some educational, most simply entertaining. A close read of these passages helped me find tips on grilling fish, cleaning clams and buying a whole fish from a market.

While many individual recipes mentioned the best season for the fish at hand, I could have used a guide for what to buy at different times of the year. The kind folks at Harbor Fish Market directed me to fresh Maine haddock, though I shied away from a whole fish in favor of fillets.

A recipe for Panko-Crusted Skillet-Cooked Haddock with Red Beans and Rice sounded comfortingly similar to chicken dishes I’ve made, but I found the end result lighter and more refreshing.

As I cooked, I was already marking the recipes I wanted to try next. Some, like wood-roasted native striped bass, require more ambition than I have – and equipment I do not own, like a smoker. But most dishes look doable at my stove or backyard grill. The sole en papillote – whitefish baked in parchment paper – seems easier to cook than pronounce.

I’m saving the clam chowder recipe for a snowy weekend when I want a warm meal. Maybe I’ll get really bold and try the seaweed sushi roll.

And as Sean reached for another helping of haddock, I thought, maybe I’ll bring the whole haddock home next time.



1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 small yellow onion, diced,

2 (15.5-ounce) cans red beans

1/2 cup white wine or water

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 teaspoons oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for skillet

2 teaspoons melted butter

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 haddock fillets, approximately 1/2 pound each

Lemon wedges

Hot rice, for serving

1. To make the beans: Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the beans, wine, tomato paste and oregano, stirring to combine. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes while you start the fish.

2. To prepare the fish: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a dry cast-iron skillet, spread the breadcrumbs in a single layer and bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Place the crumbs in a wide, shallow bowl and toss with parsley, oil, butter, salt, paprika and pepper. Brush the skillet with oil. Press both sides of each fillet into the crumbs, and then lay the fish flat into the skillet. Press any remaining crumbs on top of the haddock. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until the fish flakes when lifted with a fork. Serve on a plate with lemon wedges.

3. Stir the beans one last time, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with rice and the fish.

]]> 0, ME - OCTOBER 4: Christine Burns Rudalevige makes fish sticks with Brunswick resident Laura Franz and her children Charlie, 6, and Henry, 3. A haddock lays on the table before Christine fillets it. (Photo by Derek Davis/Staff Photographer)Tue, 14 Feb 2017 22:34:24 +0000
Bread and Butter: Crafting a wine list is more complicated than you may think Wed, 15 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of two columns from Stella Hernandez of Lolita Vinoteca + Asador in Portland.

Putting together our wine list for Lolita was the closest I’ve come to understanding what writers do. It’s less mechanical than you’d think. You have to choose your story line, craft that story, and then there’s the continual editing process. When I gave my first draft to a friend to review, I felt as if I were handing off my first novel. I had handed over something very personal.

Of the thousands of wines available in Maine (and the others I continue to pine for…), I had to find a way to make our list make sense. I bristled at absolutes – it should be all Old World or all organic or all whatever. Our menu at Lolita is broadly Mediterranean in focus, from Spain to Portugal to North Africa and then east to the Middle East.

We needed wines that complemented the food, so the bulk of our list was – and is – focused on French, Italian and Spanish wines. But we are also a vinoteca – a wine bar (or wine library, as I like to think of it). To me, that means we need to cultivate a list that makes diners comfortable with, and curious about, tasting new things.

I’ve always seen our by-the-glass list as a way to coax customers into trying a new wine. It’s like my husband (and business partner) Guy used to say about some of our small plates – you might be frightened off oxtail as a big, imposing entree but willing to try a small plate for just $9. Or maybe it’s like a first date as opposed to a relationship; glass pours are a great way for customers to experiment without the commitment of a full bottle. Since we opened in 2014, we’ve poured Zweigelt, my beloved Chenin Blanc, Lagrein, Frappato and other less well-known grape varietals by the glass. Our staff is well-trained to describe them, and customers can, in a small, safe way, get out of their comfort zone.

To get to the 80 bottles now on our list, I started with a draft list of more than three times that number – about 250 bottles. (Roughly 80 seemed like a happy medium between not having enough options or variety and having too many.) Clearly, I had a long way to go. After more than a little research, I chose to organize the list by style of wine, not region or varietal. For a more casual environment such as we have at Lolita, I find that having a traditional multi-page wine list organized by country of origin is limiting.

Stella Hernandez, owner of Lolita restaurant on Congress Street in Portland, said the process of creating a wine list gave her new appreciation for what writers do. Staff photo by John Ewing

We look at it more in terms of broad categories – crisp, aromatic, rich. Within each of those categories, I had to find a way to provide enough variety, not to mention value. It’s much easier to create a stellar list of blockbuster wines – cult producers, rare bottles, highly rated wines. A $500 Burgundy can be an exquisite treat, but it’s not an investment most people make casually nor one that’s available to most of us. At Lolita, my goal was to find the hidden gems – smaller producers, less familiar regions and wines that punched way above their weight class. I like to joke that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find these princes.

Then there’s our “Wild Things” category. That might be about a quirky producer – a winemaker who makes a brilliant Riesling from a centuries-old winery and who loves partnering with punk rock bands for marketing. Or it might be a unique expression – a New World field blend of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Gewürtrazminer – yes, please. Or it could be a wine that’s incredibly opulent – sometimes huge is awesome. They all have to be delicious, but they don’t all have to be pricey or typical.

Last is our “Le Coup de Foudre” catgory. It’s a phrase I adore – love at first sight. It’s the one you can’t necessarily explain – it’s just, sigh, about emotion. One of the wines we picked was from a winemaker I met while in Italy last year. He came back his holiday to his tiny winery a few days after Christmas just to give us a tour. His pedigree was tremendous – the great-grandson of a historic wine-making family whose grandmother took the vineyards she inherited and created her own winery. He walked us through his cellar and showed us his tanks and barrels, and talked about his wine-making process, all with his dog tagging along. He poured us his wines in a little tasting room with a wood-fired stove. These wines were technically gorgeous but they were also, now, personal.

It’s so easy to forget that wine is made by people. It’s not a mechanical process. The vast majority of our wines are hand-harvested and made in a manually intensive way. It’s not just a bottle on a shelf, it’s someone’s work. And when you connect those things, sometimes it’s love at first sight.

Maybe that’s how to best explain how our list finally came together. We chose each wine for its unique appeal. And, like my mom says about her children, I love them all equally.

Stella Hernandez is co-owner and wine director at Lolita Vinoteca + Asador. She is also a certified sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers program.


I’m not usually a fan of chicken liver mousse, but it’s something my husband really loves. On a recent trip to Florence, we discovered a version like the one below, which is so unique and has gone a long way toward changing my mind! You can stay in Italy and pair it with a lovely Chianti, like the Castello di Farnetella Chianti Colli Senesi. Or, if you want to try something new, I suggest a pretty Cabernet Franc from the Loire, like the Charles Joguet Chinon “Cuvée Terroir.”

Yield About 2 dozen toast points

1 pound chicken livers

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

3 salted anchovy fillets, rinsed

2 tablespoons toasted walnuts

1 tablespoon capers

4 sage leaves

1/2 cup white wine

Toast, for serving

With a paring knife, trim off any sinew and/or blemishes from the livers. Pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a pan large enough to hold the livers in a single layer, warm the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and gently sauté until aromatic, 3-4 minutes. Increase the heat to high. Add the livers and cook until well browned on both sides. Add the anchovies, walnuts, capers and sage leaves. Deglaze the pan with the wine and continue to cook until liquid is reduced and thick.

Transfer the mixture to the food processor and pulse until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with grilled toast points.

]]> 0 Hernandez, co-owner of Lolita restaurant in Portland, with Lolita's wine list, which she wrote herself.Tue, 14 Feb 2017 18:15:54 +0000
Farmers, cooks and food pros learn how to make masa from Maine-grown flint corn Sun, 12 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 The word “nixtamalization” is a mouthful, for sure. But the process – which involves cooking and steeping dried corn kernels in an alkaline solution like limewater before hulling them – increases how much protein, calcium and niacin (vitamin B3) a body can pull from a mouthful of maize, and reduces toxins that can make stored grain go bad.

Dusty Dowse, director of education and resident baking adviser at the Maine Grain Alliance, says the slightly nutty, somewhat mineral-like flavor of nixtamalized whole corn kernels (called mote, hominy or posole) or ground meal (wet masa paste or dried grits) is pleasantly unique, a driving force behind corn being prepared in this fashion for over 3,000 years in the Americas.

In the baking kitchen lab at Southern Maine Community College earlier this month, Dowse walked three dozen farmers, scientists, bakers, food manufacturers and home cooks through the nixtamalization process and subsequent grinding of the mote into masa. Lynne Rowe, owner of Portland’s Tortilleria Pachanga, who is well-versed in nixtamalized corn as she uses it to make thousands of tortillas weekly, oversaw the communal exercise of making piles of them from several varieties of corn grown in Maine.

Tortillas that originated as dried dent and flint corn. Photo courtesy of Christine Burns Rudelevige

The workshop was part of the Maine Grain Alliance’s continuing initiative to reinvigorate the state’s corn crop by positioning it as so much more than cattle feed. These corns differ from the sweet variety we eat off the cob as a vegetable in the height of summer, because they are inedible unless they are processed by nixtamalization or dried and ground into meal.

The most common heritage corn product found in Maine that we humans can eat is cornmeal, which is simply finely or coarsely ground flint corn. A growing number of growers and millers offer it, including Fairwinds Farm in Bowdoinham, Maine Grains in Skowhegan and Songbird Farm in Unity. The plan, as explained by the alliance’s executive director Tristan Noyes, is to build a market for value-added products made from heritage corn varieties grown in Maine so that local farmers will find it worth their while to cultivate those varieties.

“If we lose the corn, we’re all going down the tubes,” said corn keeper Albie Barden of Norridgewock. Barden offered everyone in the room 12 Darwin John kernels, the multicolored Indian corn variety that can be traced back to the Iroquois, so we could all try our hands at growing heritage corn ourselves.

Ingredients for polenta include cornmeal made from flint corn, stock, cream, cheese and butter. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

To make the masa, Dowse prepped 2 pounds each of dried dent (standard field corn that gets its name from the small indentation at the crown of each kernel) and Garland variety flint corn, which was donated by Barden. He simmered each batch of corn in a solution of 3 quarts boiling water, 1/2 cup slaked lime and 2 teaspoons salt for 20 minutes. Then he let the corn steep overnight.

The next day, students took turns washing the mote, removing the individual skins by rubbing the kernels round and round a colander and rinsing them multiple times in bowls of cold water so the skins and other inedible bits floated off the top. Attendees used a hand mill to grind the mote into masa, rolling the wet corn paste into golf-ball sized portions, then using wooden presses – which Rowe bought in Mexico – to flatten them into rounds. They then cooked the tortillas on an ungreased griddle.

From start to finish, the process took some 12 hours. Perhaps only a zealot would do it at home. But through the workshop, the Maine Grain Alliance hopes to seed a bigger market by demonstrating to local culinary influencers ways to use Maine-grown flint corn.

As points of reference, attendees also made tortillas from commercial masa harina (masa paste that has been dried and very finely ground) and run-of-the-mill all-purpose wheat flour. I am pretty sure the organizers knew they’d stacked the tortilla tasting so that we’d all prefer those made from local corn. But to seal the deal, Dowse made a pot of posole chili to fill the corn tortillas.

Most of the tasters I spoke with went away sold on the renewed value of growing – and eating – heritage corn in Maine.

Christine Burns Rudalevige is a food writer, a recipe developer and tester and a cooking teacher in Brunswick. Contact her at: cburns1227@



Christine Burns Rudalevige adds corn meal to stock while making polenta. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

I first ate grits while living in England in 2007. I’d befriended a woman named Weezie Boiles from Birmingham, Alabama, who landed in the East Anglian city of Norwich, as did I, due to our husbands’ academic pursuits. She was astounded I’d never had Southern grits, telling me that my Italian heritage’s polenta just didn’t cut it. While my Nonna made her cornmeal mush with just salted water, Weezie’s had cream, butter and cheese – and the secret ingredient, ground nixtamalized corn. I didn’t have true grits again until I went to Charleston two years ago. I’ve yet to find raw grits here in Maine, but I have adapted my family’s polenta recipe to Weezie’s richer technique, which certainly does justice to the local, heritage variety cornmeal I can readily get my hands on. I make the mush with a mix of smoked cheddar and local Alpine cheese.

Serves 4

3 cups vegetable stock
11/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
11/4 cups dry, stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup grated semi-hard cheese


2 slices bacon
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds mussels, rinsed and debearded
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped parsley

To make the mush, combine the stock, salt and pepper in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and bring the liquid to a rolling boil over high heat. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal, stirring constantly. Lower the heat to medium and continue to stir. Cook until the polenta is soft and creamy, 12-15 minutes. Stir in the cream. Take the pot off the heat, stir in butter and cheese. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Cover to keep warm.
To make the mussels, fry the bacon over medium high heat in a large pot until browned, remove it from the pan and drain well on a paper bag. Chop the cooled bacon and set it aside. Add the onion and garlic to the hot bacon grease. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add the mussels, wine, tomatoes and lemon juice. Stir, cover and steam until the mussels open, 4-6 minutes. Discard any mussels that have not opened. Stir in the parsley and reserved bacon. Serve over warm mush.

]]> 0 and cornmeal mush.Fri, 10 Feb 2017 11:34:51 +0000
Recipe: Southern Greek-style chicken and rice pilaf Wed, 08 Feb 2017 09:00:39 +0000 Bill Doukas says it’s OK to use chicken parts that have already been cut up by the grocery store, but that “would not be considered traditional for this Mediterranean dish.” When he makes the dish, he includes the back of the chicken, because the bones, skin and dark meat yield a tasty chicken stock. The back needn’t end up on the final platter, he said.

If you prefer a stronger tomato flavor, as Doukas’ paternal grandmother did, add 6 ounces more tomato paste (for a total of 12 ounces). Doukas sometimes “splits the difference” and adds 1 1/2 cans, or 9 ounces, tomato paste.

Serves 4 to 8

1 large whole chicken, about 5 pounds
1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more if needed
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 ounces tomato paste
4 teaspoons chicken bouillon
4 cups long-grain rice

Using a sharp knife cut the chicken into pieces: First cut off the wings, legs and thighs. Next, separate the back from the breasts.

Split the breasts lengthwise and cut them transversely for smaller pieces. Dry all the pieces.

Chop the onion into pieces, about 3/8 inch by 3/8 inch.

Pour the olive oil into a large skillet. When the oil is hot, add the onions and chicken parts, skin side down. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the exposed side of the chicken. When the cooked side has turned golden brown, about 10 minutes, flip the chicken and season the second side with salt and pepper. Saute 3 to 4 minutes on the second side. Add more olive oil if necessary to assure proper sautéing. You may need to brown the chicken in batches, or in 2 pans, to avoid overcrowding, thus steaming, the chicken.

While you are browning the chicken, add 14 cups of water to a large Dutch oven or kettle. Thoroughly whisk in the tomato paste and the bouillon and bring the liquid to a boil. You want the stock to come to a boil just about the time the chicken parts are fully browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken parts directly from the sauté pan to the Dutch oven. Transfer the now well-cooked onions and cooked bits from the base of the pan to the stock, as well. (If you pour a little of the stock into the large skillet and scrap the bottom vigorously with a spoon, then return the stock to the Dutch oven, you will get all the bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet, which carry much of the flavor.)

Reduce the boiling tomato stock to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, covered. Using tongs, remove the chicken pieces and place them in a ceramic dish or bowl, covering with foil to keep the chicken warm. You will need only 6 to 7 cups of the stock to cook the rice. Save the remainder for another use or add more rice in a roughly 2 parts liquid to 1 part rice ratio if you like.

Return the stock to a boil, stir in the rice, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot. The rice should be done after about 15 minutes.

Serve the rice with the chicken.

]]> Greek-style chicken and rice pilaf made by Bill Doukas.Tue, 07 Feb 2017 18:50:22 +0000
Recipe: Avgolemono soup (egg-lemon) Wed, 08 Feb 2017 09:00:02 +0000 Bill Doukas says that different cooks prefer varying amounts of rice, chicken and lemon, but this recipe is a good starting place.

Also, he warns that avgolemono is “a delicacy” and “quite sensitive.” It does not reheat well most of the time, nor can it last long periods of time over heat. It is best to serve it promptly.

Serves 8 full bowls

2 pieces bone-in, skin-on chicken, 1 dark and 1 white, such as thigh and breast
2 teaspoon chicken bouillon
6 large eggs
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ cups long-grain rice
Salt and pepper

Place the chicken parts in a large kettle with 12 cups water and chicken bouillon. Bring to a gentle boil, cover, and then reduce to a medium heat for about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside. Strain the stock with fine-mesh strainer and return to the heat, allowing a gentle boil.

Separate the eggs into whites and yolks in 2 small metal bowls. Beat the egg whites until frothy. Beat the egg yolks until creamy and add to egg white bowl. Transfer the beaten eggs into a large metal bowl. Very gradually add the lemon juice to the eggs, pouring it down the side of the bowl while stirring continuously.

Turn the heat off under the chicken stock and add 1½ cups rice (Alternatively, leave the heat on and cook the rice in the simmering stock until nearly done, then start tempering the egg mixture). Using a ladle, lift a scoop of hot stock out of kettle (avoid the rice grains) and very slowly pour the liquid down the side of the bowl into the egg-lemon mix while also whisking continuously. Gradually repeat this with a second ladle full of hot stock, stirring. Add a 3rd, 4th, 5th, and so on of the stock, always stirring. You can pick up the pace with each ladle transfer. When the stock pot is three-quarters empty, stop, and pour the contents of the bowl into the kettle. Gently stir.

If the egg did not curdle, you have succeeded in making this soup!

Dice the cooked, cooled chicken meat into small cubes and add to the soup. Test to see if the rice is cooked. If not, continue to cook the soup at a very gentle simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more lemon juice if you like.

]]> 0, ME - FEBRUARY 2: Avgolemono Soup made by Bill Doukas at his apartment in Portland. Both dishes were family favorites at home and with customers at Doukas' grandfathers restaurant, Bill's Café, that he opened at Longfellow Square in the 1930's. (Photo by Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer)Tue, 07 Feb 2017 18:51:36 +0000
Homemade Valentine’s candy shows love for body and soul Wed, 08 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 This recipe is a luscious way to celebrate your love, or at least your love of chocolate, in a way that loves you back.

It has just four easy-to-find ingredients, each lending its own sensuous element and remarkable health benefits.

Rich, dark chocolate, with its intoxicating melt-in-your mouth quality; a touch of fragrant grated orange zest; a generous helping of crunchy almonds; and chewy, sweet-tart dried cherries all bring a considerable dose of health-protective antioxidants along with their flavor. The almonds and cherries add essential nutrients and longer-lasting satisfaction, to boot.

Making this candy is almost as easy as eating it: Just melt the chocolate, stir in the zest, pour into a parchment-lined pan and scatter with the fruit and nuts. (You could swap in any nut and dried fruit you like or have on hand.)

Let the candy set in the refrigerator for an hour, then break it into pieces.

It’s a simple, but delightful, Valentine’s Day gift that is good for your heart in every sense of the word.


Makes 24 pieces

This luscious candy is not only easy to make, it’s also good for you. It’s loaded with health-protective antioxidants and essential nutrients, for a treat you’ll love that loves you back.

1 cup whole, skin-on almonds

12 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped (60 to 70 percent cocoa solids, or bittersweet)

1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

1/3 cup tart dried cherries (coarsely chopped if they are large)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pleat a 22-inch-long piece of parchment paper lengthwise to make a 9-inch-wide strip, then fit it into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish like a sling, pressing the paper into the corners to line the bottom and the 2 short sides of the pan. (The paper should overhang the two short sides.)

Spread the almonds on a baking sheet; toast in the oven for 7 or 8 minutes, until fragrant. Let them cool.

Place about three-quarters of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot with a few inches of barely bubbling water (over medium or medium-low heat). Heat, stirring, until the chocolate has melted.

Transfer the bowl to a folded dish towel on the countertop. Add the remaining chocolate, stirring until melted, then stir in the orange zest.

Pour that chocolate into the lined baking dish, and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly. Scatter the toasted almonds and dried cherries over the top, then refrigerate for 1 hour, just to set.

Remove the chocolate from the baking dish and discard the parchment. Cut or break up the bark into 24 pieces that are about the same size.

Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

]]> 0, 07 Feb 2017 17:23:37 +0000
Amped-Up Beef Stroganoff makes eating at home feel fabulous Wed, 08 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Primed to romance your certain someone on Valentine’s Day? Nothing says “I love you” more persuasively than a home-cooked meal. This one-pot noodle dish, a variation on beef Stroganoff, is the ideal messenger.

Although the roots of the classic recipe are certifiably aristocratic – a French chef working for Count Pavel Stroganoff, a Russian, created it in the early 1800s – beef Stroganoff was being treated pretty roughly in America by the 1960s. At that time, when “convenience” trumped every other value, home cooks loved being able to whip up a fancy main course using canned gravy, canned mushrooms, canned minced onions and canned roast beef.

We’re gonna treat it with a little more respect in this recipe for Amped-Up Beef Stroganoff. To start, the basics remain unchanged – thin slices of beef fillet topped with a sauce of fresh mushrooms and sour cream, all of it ladled over noodles. But I’ve beefed up the umami – and intensified the taste – with dried mushrooms, tomato paste and Dijon mustard. Also, we cook the noodles in the sauce, which makes them that much more delicious.

Ideally, your steak of choice will be beef fillet – it is Valentine’s Day, after all – but if you don’t want to splurge, you can swap in less expensive cuts. And if you can’t find dried porcini, you’ll be fine with dried shiitakes or a mix of dried mushrooms. In truth, any dried mushroom packs a one-two punch, contributing not only itself, but also the savory liquid generated when it’s rehydrated. That mushroom liqueur makes a lip-smacking base for any sauce.

What to serve alongside this love offering? A nice refreshing salad involving citrus will provide the perfect contrast. And don’t forget the stagecraft! Set a proper table with cloth napkins and mats, a candle or two, and a bottle of robust red wine.

Amped-Up Beef Stroganoff Photo by Sara Moulton via AP


Makes 2 servings

11/2 ounces dried porcini, rinsed

11/2 cups low-sodium beef or chicken broth

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces filet mignon cut into 1-inch cubes

Kosher salt and black pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped shallot or onion

4 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms (white, cremini, exotic or a mix)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons fresh thyme

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon flour

1/3 cup dry red wine

4 ounces egg noodles

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

In a small saucepan combine the porcini mushrooms and the beef broth and bring the mixture just to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mushrooms steep for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid through a fine strainer, reserving it, and chop the mushrooms.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the meat with salt and pepper and add it to the pan. Sear the meat quickly on all sides and transfer it to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallot to the skillet and cook, stirring until softened; add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are lightly browned. Add the garlic, thyme, tomato paste and flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add the red wine, reserved broth, 11/2 cups water, the chopped porcini and the noodles to the skillet. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are just al dente, about 10 minutes, adding additional water if necessary to keep the noodles partly submerged. Stir in the sour cream, Dijon and lemon juice; adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add the beef and beef juices and simmer just until the meat is heated, about 1 minute. Serve right away, sprinkled with the parsley.

]]> 0 Beef StroganoffTue, 07 Feb 2017 17:44:30 +0000
The Maine Ingredient: Turkey tacos in soft, warm tortillas are a crowd-pleaser Wed, 08 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Soft tacos are now probably more popular than hamburgers, and they make an ideal family supper, as well as – with quantities multiplied – wonderful informal party fare.

Tacos fill all the requisites: easy to make, versatile (each taco can be personalized), healthful and the ingredients are not pricey. Plus they’re delicious!

Shun those stale-tasting pre-fried packaged taco shells and opt instead for fresh tortillas, either warmed over a gas flame or in a microwave.

Add refried beans – homemade or good quality from a can – if you’d like a little something more on the plate.


Makes 4 servings


3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 pound ground turkey

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons good-quality chili powder

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


8 to 10 corn tortillas

2 cups shredded “Mexican cheese blend” (Monterey Jack and cheddar, with queso fresco or other fresh Mexican cheeses included), or shred your own

2 cups thinly sliced red or green cabbage

1½ cups good-quality red or green salsa

1 large avocado, peeled and cut into large dice

1 cup sour cream

About 3/4 cup cilantro sprigs

Lime wedges

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic, turkey, oregano, cumin and chili powder and cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring frequently and breaking up the turkey with the side of a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce and 1 cup water, along with red pepper flakes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered over medium to medium-low heat until the sauce is reduced and the filling is of a spoonable consistency, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring the tortillas to room temperature. Put all the garnishes in bowls so people can serve themselves. If you have a gas stove, turn one burner to medium. When the grids are hot, place a tortilla directly over flame and cook until flecked with black. Turn with tongs and cook the second side. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, piling them on a plate and wrapping with foil or plastic wrap to keep warm.

(Alternatively, place tortillas in a pile on a plate, cover and heat in a microwave.)

To serve, reheat the filling and transfer to a bowl. Pass the tortillas and invite guests to add fillings and toppings of their choice.

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:

]]> 0, 07 Feb 2017 18:08:24 +0000
‘Leon Happy Salads’ offers clear recipes, borrows from many cultures Wed, 08 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 “Leon Happy Salads.” By Jane Baxter and John Vincent. Conran Octopus Limited. $19.99.

Who knew salad was so exciting?

I’ve long been a fan of the green stuff, but sadly my repertoire was mostly limited to topping my greens with cut-up vegetables or throwing in some grains or chicken.

With the already well-thumbed “Leon Happy Salads” cookbook on my shelf, those days of blah side salad are over. The recipes are divided up into the ways you might eat a salad, not the ingredients, which worked really well for me. Looking for a classic? There’s the Nicoise, fattoush and Waldorf salads. A salad to go? The “lunchbox” recipes are perfect to take to work. Or maybe it’s the weekend or dinner, and you need a centerpiece-worthy dish – check out the “food for family” and “food for friends” chapters.

The latter recipes are more complex, but worth lingering over – a paella deli salad with prawns and peppers – or a Mexican salad that involves roasting the corn and peppers on a grill before combining everything into the salad itself.

The recipes borrow from many cultures, and cover a range of seasons. A warm red cabbage salad for winters, and a fig, radicchio and pomegranate salad that sings of summertime.

“Happy Salads” is the latest in a series of cookbooks from business partners and couple Jane Baxter and John Vincent, cofounders of healthy fast-food Leon restaurants in England.

I liked the Eurocentric language of the cookbook, with measurements in grams, and recipes listing “courgettes” for zucchini and “aubergine” for eggplant. A distinction is made between runner beans and French beans, and one Italian chicken salad recipe called for five ingredients I had to look up: Puy lentils, rocket (it’s arugula here,) Coppa di Parma, Grana Padano and mostarda (a mustardy candied fruit condiment.) It should have been annoying – and I won’t be finding any mostarda in Maine – but it actually made me feel quite Continental as I hummed my way around the kitchen.

The cookbook itself is attractive, with lush photos on each page, clear and simple instructions and tips on how to swap out or supplement ingredients for a different take on the recipe.

And since it’s salads not soufflés, the recipes have a casual, confident approach to amounts – a handful of mint here, a bunch of spring onions there.

I tried out the Original Superfood Salad, a favorite at Leon among customers – on the menu since they opened in 2004. In addition to getting my greens with the broccoli, cukes, peas and avocado, the final dish had a wonderful mouthfeel – the crunch and texture of the broccoli and cucumbers were balanced by the smooth feel of avocado and couscous – a swap for the recommended quinoa that I prefer.

The French vinaigrette dressing – one of a dozen-plus in the back of the cookbook – was delicious but baffled me: The first ingredient was “1 sweet potato, peeled.” Huh? A quick online search revealed it was an error, so mind the gap (in accuracy) in the early editions of the book, and dive in and get happy.

The Original Superfood Salad Photo courtesy of Conran Octopus Limited


Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 5 minutes. WF/GF/V

For toasted seeds: Toast 50 percent sunflower seeds, 25 percent sesame seeds, 25 percent golden linseeds – that last is what we call flaxseed on this side of the pond.

Serves 2

2/3 of a head of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets, stalks peeled and sliced

120 g (4¼ oz) frozen peas, defrosted

¼ of a cucumber, cut into slim batons

100g (3½ oz) good-quality feta, crumbled

½ an avocado, cut into pieces

100 g (3½ oz) cooked quinoa, cooled

A small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

A small handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons Leon toasted seeds (see headnote)

3 tablespoons French vinaigrette

Put 2 cm (1/4 inch) of hot water into a saucepan with a pinch of salt and cover the pan. Once it’s boiling, drop in the broccoli and put the lid back on. Drain after 3 minutes, then run the broccoli under cold water to take all the heat out and keep it good and green. Now build your salad in layers: Broccoli, peas, cucumber, feta, avocado, quinoa and finally the herbs and seeds. Dress the salad just before you eat it.


Whisk together:

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/2 clove of garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons water

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon maple syrup

]]> 0 Original Superfood SaladTue, 07 Feb 2017 17:19:07 +0000
A bowl of Greek Revival: Portland family’s egg-lemon soup recipe a culinary heirloom Wed, 08 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Bill Doukas rigorously whipped the egg whites, then the yolks, for his avgolemono – a delicate Greek egg-lemon soup that can be tricky to make – and then combined them in a big silver bowl.

He painstakingly drizzled freshly squeezed lemon juice and hot chicken stock into the bowl, ladle by ladle, being careful not to curdle the eggs.

The egg mixture went into a pot and heated slowly on the stove. While a small bit of rice cooked in the warming broth, Doukas chopped chicken to add to the pot just before serving.

But his 88-year-old uncle – Doukas’ biggest critic in the kitchen – just couldn’t wait. An impatient Petros Panagakos ladled out a bit of the soup to sample. He hadn’t eaten this family specialty, he said, since his wife died a few years back.

“Whoooaaa, very good William!” Panagakos exclaimed after eating a couple of spoonfuls. His eyes lit up. “Four-star rating. But my mother still gets five stars.”

The Panagakos family has firm ties to Portland, including the city’s restaurant community, but their roots go back to the Peloponnese islands in Greece. Panagakos’ father, Vasos Panagakos, came to the United States in 1923 with $60 in his pocket. Doukas said no one knows why Vasos, who started his life as a shepherd, came to this country, but he suspects it was because adventure called.

“I’ll bet America was very attractive,” Doukas said.

Vasos Panagakos got here just in time.

“They halted immigration in 1924,” Panagakos said, noting similarities to today’s political climate. “Only 100 Greeks were allowed to come into the country. And he was able to get in in 1923.

“It was terrible,” he said. “People, they were against the Greeks, the Italians. My dad was lucky to have come in when he did.”

Bill Doukas and his uncle, Petros Panagakos, make Greek favorites at Doukas’ apartment in Portland. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

The avgolemono soup that Doukas made in his Portland apartment, above the King of the Roll restaurant at the corner of State and Congress streets, is a culinary heirloom that’s been handed down through the generations, along with another favorite family dish, southern Greek-style chicken and rice pilaf. The family’s versions of these classic Greek recipes go back at least as far as Doukas’ grandparents and probably further. The chicken and rice pilaf is a good Sunday dinner to enjoy before watching football, Doukas said.

The pilaf is one of those dishes that is a little bit different from family to family, and even within each Greek family, depending upon who makes it. Members of Doukas’ family use different amounts of tomato paste, for example, and Doukas added chicken bouillon to his version. His brother Andrew swears by cooking the pilaf in one pot.

The soup is a little more finicky, but the flavor is amazing and it suits any season. A bowlful will warm you in fall and winter, but it is light enough to feel like a refreshing spring or summer treat as well.

Vasos Panagakos initially settled in Dover, N.H., where the mills provided plenty of work. Eventually, he opened a restaurant with a partner, later selling his share and moving to Portland. Doukas speculates that his grandfather was attracted to the Greek community in Portland.

The family – Vasos Panagakos married another young Greek immigrant – owned two restaurants in Portland 70 to 80 years ago, back when, Uncle Petros estimates, 80 to 85 percent of the city’s restaurants were run by Greek immigrants. Vasos opened Bill’s Café (Vasos translates to William) on Congress Street in 1937 or 1938 in the place where Boda is now.

A fire destroyed the Panagakos family restaurant, Bill’s Café, in June 1945. They rebuilt and opened Longfellow Restaurant in the same spot. The building today houses Boda restaurant. Portland Press Herald File

“He very seldom had Greek dishes, interestingly enough,” Petros Panagakos recalled. “But the family, which lived upstairs, we always had our Sunday meals and they were always Greek cuisine. One of the most popular ones was the chicken pilaf.”

The menu at Bill’s Café featured American standards such as steak, chops, liver and turkey. Customers could enjoy an entrée of chicken croquettes, along with soup, dessert and coffee for just 95 cents.

One night in 1945, at 1 a.m., Petros awoke to a smoky room and heard his brother Nick urging him to get out of the building. Nick then ran back into the building to rescue their little brother, Panayote. The family living upstairs – nine people – made it out safely before flames enveloped the building.

“We all got out and watched the place burn down,” Panagakos said.

(In the 1950s, Nick became the city hall reporter for the Portland Press Herald. Doukas has hanging in his apartment a large black-and-white photo of Nick interviewing two unidentified starlets who happened to be visiting the city.)

The family rebuilt and about a year later opened Longfellow Restaurant on the same spot.

“It was probably the most modern restaurant in Portland at the time,” Panagakos said. “It had a big lobster at the top of it. It was about 6 or 7 feet high, and it was neon. It lit up. And it was really an eye-catching thing.”

Today, immigrants from places like Africa and the Middle East face prejudice when they come to the United States. In the 1940s and 1950s, Panagakos said, Greeks and Italians were the targets. Doukas remembers that his grandfather was friends with Joseph L. Discatio, the founder of Joe’s Smoke Shop next door to Bill’s Cafe.

When Discatio needed hot water, Doukas said, his landlord, who was “kind of tough on him” because he was Italian, refused to provide it. Discatio turned to Vasos Panagakos for help.

“He came over to my grandfather’s restaurant, and he gave him all the hot water he needed to run his operation,” Doukas recalled.

After 10 years or so in business, Vasos Panagakos retired. He wanted his son to take over, but Panagakos said that after so many years of filling in at the last minute for the chef, the waiters, the dishwashers – he had to quit his high school football team because he was always missing practice – he had soured on the restaurant business.

Fast-forward to the 1980s, when Panagakos’ sister bought the whole block, including the 1858-era building where King of the Roll is now. Doukas, who had been working as an engineer, and his mother, Rita, opened a restaurant there called the Longfellow Café on Thanksgiving Day 1981. After Doukas’ mother died, he changed the name to The Trojan Horse, where he served Greek, Moroccan, Portuguese, Turkish and Middle Eastern food. Around 1991, he returned to engineering. The spot became Shalimar of India, then the Bombay Club, and finally King of the Roll. Doukas and his brother, Andy, inherited their mother’s property. Doukas lives above King of the Roll, while his brother lives above Boda.

Doukas still enjoys cooking. He said he makes the chicken and rice pilaf every three weeks or so. The pilaf was the one Greek dish that was often served in the family’s restaurants. Panagakos recalls that when he lived in Crete, working for NATO in the late 1950s, it was the meal locals would bring over when they’d come for a visit, along with a selection of Greek pastries.

Doukas has been making it himself since he was a college student at Miami University.

“If you get a chicken for a good price, you can make the whole thing for $6,” he said. “No wonder college students and the fathers and mothers of immigrants liked it.”

Making the dishes today, Doukas said, ignites his taste memory, and he remembers what it was like when he was 4 or 5 years old and his mother or grandmother served him this family comfort food.

It also makes him feel more connected to the man who began his life as a shepherd in the hills of southern Greece.

]]> 0 Panagakos tucks into traditional Greek avgolemono soup at his nephew Bill Doukas' apartment in Portland.Tue, 07 Feb 2017 22:51:02 +0000
‘Making Dough’ provides ultra-careful instruction for making 12 master doughs Wed, 01 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000  “Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries.” By Russell van Kraayenburg. 2015. Quirk Books. $24.95

Russell van Kraayenburg’s “Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries” would make a fine addition to any aspiring pastry chef’s recipe collection. The 208-page cookbook focuses on the science behind making 12 master pastry doughs, namely biscuit, scone, pie, shortcrust, sweet crust, pâte à choux, brioche, puff pastry, rough puff pastry, croissant, Danish and phyllo dough.

Much thought and testing has gone into educating the reader about what makes for a great pastry dough, including the pairing of various flours and ingredients; the ratio of those blends; the requisite tools; the right way to measure; and sundry methods of mixing and working dough.

Most of the recipes include a photo, and an abundance of “how to” illustrations help the baker execute the recipes with more confidence.

This cookbook is filled with useful information, literally from cover to cover. The front inside cover lists the master doughs as well as recommendations for the types of pastries you can use them for. A chart on the back cover offers conversions for measuring ingredients by weight and volume, helpful because the book’s recipes list ingredients by weight. There’s even a chart listing oven temperature conversions, which is handy if you want to give the book to an overseas friend.

The first chapter, especially, is a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand the particulars of turning out good pastries.

The main recipes in “Making Dough” often include companion recipes for making the components that are called for in the ingredients list, such as homemade strawberry jam for the Bakewell tart or marshmallow filling for the iconic chocolate-dipped moon pies. For people who truly wish to bake from scratch, rather than using store-bought options, it’s a nice touch.

Most recipes add suggestions for using other fillings, toppings or ingredients to transform the sweet into something else.

I was contemplating making croissant or brioche dough when I spied a recipe for homemade Pop-Tarts. I loved brown sugar cinnamon Pop-Tarts as a kid, and I had always wanted to make my own. Since a nor’easter was brewing, making this a snow day, I figured there was no better time to make good on that desire, while also celebrating my inner child.

The recipe was easy to put together, and the shortcrust-based dough rolled out like a dream.

I opted to fill half of my tarts with brown sugar filling and half with raspberry filling. I paced in front of the oven like a caged tiger waiting for the tarts to bake. Nearly 20 minutes later, I nearly burned the roof of my mouth because I just couldn’t wait for them to cool. They were so good!

Bakers should be aware that the texture of these tarts is different from the commercially processed, individually packaged toaster treats you ate as a child. The crust is tender, crumbly and flakier than the original, and it gets even better the next day. I chased them with a glass of ice cold milk.

I found this cookbook to be a great tutorial on pastry making and plan to revisit it often to perfect my skill. I gained a better understanding of how pairing different types of flour (by protein content) with varying ratios of fat and liquid create different dough textures. And knowing is half the battle.

Homemade varieties of Pop-Tarts include brown sugar cinnamon frosted, left, and raspberry. The recipe offers eight filling options and suggestions for experimenting with your favorite flavor.

Homemade varieties of Pop-Tarts include brown sugar cinnamon frosted, left, and raspberry. The recipe offers eight filling options and suggestions for experimenting with your favorite flavor. Photo courtesy of Deborah Sayer


Recipe from “Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries” by Russell van Kraayenburg.

Yields 9 Pop-Tarts


The book gives instructions for mixing by hand and by machine. I have included only the machine directions here.

8 ounces (1 cup) bread flour

8 ounces (1 cup) cake flour

1 teaspoon salt

9 ounces (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 eggs, lightly beaten

In a large stand mixer bowl, add flours and salt. Using a flat paddle attachment, mix a few seconds to thoroughly combine flours. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces and add to the bowl.

Mix on medium-low speed, until butter is broken into tiny chunks and mixture resembles course sand. Add the egg and mix until dough just comes together, with a few large chunks with many smaller chunks.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into two. Lightly knead it a few times, just until dough holds its shape. Shape each half into a flat, 1-inch thick rectangle. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or parchment. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.


2 pounds shortcrust base (double the recipe)

8 ounces (1 cup) filling

1 egg, beaten

8 ounces (1 cup) sprinkle icing (see recipe)


6 ounces (3/4 cup) light brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and reserve until ready for them.


Recipe tester Deborah Sayer added ½ teaspoon cinnamon to the icing to elevate the flavor of the Brown Sugar Tarts. Be sure to watch frosted tarts carefully in a toaster, as the sugar topping burns easily.

8 ounces (1 cup) powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk

1/2 teaspoon egg white

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and frost tarts after they have cooled.

This image from "Making Dough" illustrates how to cut a 9" by 12" rectangle of shortcrust dough into nine 3" by 4" Pop-Tart shells. The recipe is doubled to make tops and bottoms.

This image from “Making Dough” illustrates how to cut a 9″ by 12″ rectangle of shortcrust dough into nine 3″ by 4″ Pop-Tart shells. The recipe is doubled to make tops and bottoms. Russell van Kraayenburg

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

To make the shortbread, lightly dust another large sheet of parchment paper with flour and roll out one of the shortcrust doughs into a 9- by 12-inch rectangle; stop to dust the dough and rolling pin lightly, as needed, to prevent sticking.

Using a straight-edge ruler and a paring knife, create nine (3- by 4-inch) rectangles by marking the short side of the dough every three inches and the long side of the dough every four inches. Lay a ruler atop the dough, connecting marks from top to bottom and, using a pizza cutter or pastry wheel and the flat edge of ruler as a guide, cut down the length of dough, repeating at the next mark to divide dough into three long 3- by 12-inch sections. Use a ruler to connect marks and cut the dough crosswise to create nine sections total.

Use a thin, wide metal spatula to lift and transfer the pastry onto the lined baking sheet, leaving space between. Roll out and repeat with the second rectangle of dough.

Place about 1 ounce of the filling on each of the tarts on the baking sheet and brush the outer ½-inch of shells with egg wash, top with remaining nine shells and press around outer edge of each to seal filling in. Using a fork, gently press tines along outer edges to further seal.

Brush each tart top with egg wash. Poke a few holes into top to allow steam to escape. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tarts are light golden brown.

Cool, before icing. Spoon a bit of the icing over the center of each of the tarts, using the back of the spoon to spread the icing out to within ½-inch of the edges. Allow to harden a few hours before handling. Store in a plastic bags or sealed container.

CORRECTION: This story was updated at 8:09 a.m. on Feb. 1, 2017 to correct the amount of butter required for the shortcrust base.

]]> 0 varieties of Pop-Tarts include brown sugar cinnamon frosted, left, and raspberry. The recipe offers eight filling options and suggestions for experimenting with your favorite flavor.Wed, 01 Feb 2017 08:11:04 +0000
Three ways to add lobster to your Super Bowl party Wed, 01 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 How lucky are you? You live in Maine, land of lobster. This year, take advantage of that culinary ace by adding lobster to your Super Bowl munchies table.

These three recipes, courtesy of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, can help.

Maine Lobster Guacamole

Maine Lobster Guacamole Photo courtesy of Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative


Recipe adapted from the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative. Keep tasting as you make the dip, and make the dip to suit yourself. For the lobster, use tails, knuckles or claws.

Serves about 8

4 ripe avocados

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice

1/4 to 1/2 cup minced red onion or thinly sliced scallions

2 to 4 serrano chilies, deseeded and minced

1 ripe tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (leaves and tender stems)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Dash freshly grated black pepper

About 1/2 pound sliced Maine lobster meat

Tortilla chips

Cut the avocados in half. Remove the seeds, discard and scoop out the flesh. Place the flesh in a bowl with the lime (or lemon) juice. Roughly mash it with a fork. Add the chopped onion, chilies, tomatoes and cilantro. Combine. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with the lobster and serve with tortilla chips.

Artichoke and Maine Lobster Dip

Artichoke and Maine Lobster Dip Photo courtesy of Maine Lobster Collaborative


Recipe adapted from the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative. You can buy artichokes canned in water or marinade. Be sure to use full-fat cream cheese for this dip.

Serves 8

2 cans artichoke hearts (approximately 10-12 to a can)

2 cups Maine lobster meat, in bite-sized chunks

1 pound cream cheese

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup grated Romano cheese

2 cups mayonnaise

1 to 2 tablespoons minced garlic

1/3 cup dry vermouth

2 tablespoons dry mustard powder

Nacho chips, crackers or bread bowl, to serve

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Drain the artichokes and cut into chunks. Place them in a medium bowl with the lobster. Set aside.

Mix the remaining ingredients except for the chips/crackers together in a large bowl until they are smooth and creamy.

Gently fold in the artichoke-lobster mixture, taking care not to break them up much. Transfer the dip to an ovenproof dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until it is lightly browned and bubbling.

Serve warm in a bread bowl or with nacho chips or crackers.

Bacon, Maine Lobster and Tomato Sliders

Bacon, Maine Lobster and Tomato Sliders Photo courtesy of Maine Lobster Collaborative


Recipe adapted from the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative.

Makes 12 sliders

1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1/2 teaspoon Korean chili pepper

11/2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon sriracha, plus more if desired

3 pounds shell-on Maine lobster

4 bacon strips, cut into thirds

3 to 4 tomatoes (you’ll need 24 thin slices)

1 small head frisée lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)

12 mini-brioche rolls

Grind the seeds with the celery salt and Korean chili pepper until fine. Combine the mayonnaise with the spice blend. Add the sriracha. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, separate the claws and the tail from the lobster body, reserving the body for another use. Cook claws in the water for 9 minutes, the tail for 7 minutes. Remove the lobster and immediately chill in ice water.

Remove the lobster meat from the shells and chop into 1/2-inch cubes. Combine the lobster meat with the spiced mayonnaise.

Spoon 2 ounces of the lobster salad onto each mini brioche roll. Top each sandwich with a piece of bacon, 2 thin slices of tomato and some frisee. Skewer with bamboo skewers. Serve with additional sriracha, if desired.

Food editor Peggy Grodinsky can be contacted at 791-6453 or:

Twitter: @PGrodinsky

]]> 0 Lobster GuacamoleWed, 01 Feb 2017 10:53:33 +0000
For a New Orleans classic, a smothering of shrimp swims in Creole gravy Wed, 01 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Even if you’re not familiar with the name Paul Prudhomme, it’s likely you’ve enjoyed the benefits of his long and celebrated career. Prudhomme was a Louisiana-born chef who gained celebrity for his culinary expertise and larger-than-life personality.

Prudhomme thrust Cajun and Creole cuisine into the national spotlight. He introduced Americans to the bold flavors and rich roux-based dishes of his childhood, and with his commercial seasoning mixes, numerous cookbooks and television appearances, brought these dishes into homes across the country.

The cuisine of New Orleans is distinct, combining the rich culinary traditions of those who settled the area long ago. The city’s food is a reflection of the people who still live there today, with influences from France, Africa, and Spain (just for starters) and the strongly rooted traditions of the Cajun and Creole cultures.

In this shrimp etouffee recipe, The Culinary Institute of America channels the spirit of Prudhomme. Flavorful and vibrant, this rustic dish is meant to be shared around a table of family and good friends.

Meaning “smothered,” an etouffee coats the shrimp (or crawfish, as you’ll often find it in New Orleans) with a spice-packed gravy worthy of Chef Paul himself.

This recipe calls for homemade shrimp stock, but you can use store-bought if you prefer. Making it from scratch is quite easy, though, and a great way to use leftover shells. You’ll need about 1 pound of shells, which comes from about 2 pounds of shrimp. Remember that shells freeze well, so anytime you have leftovers, freeze them until you have enough to make a stock. Use the stock for shrimp bisque or as the base for a pasta sauce.

The fragrant and flavorful Creole seasoning mix that’s part of this recipe comes together in minutes, so make some extra to stock your pantry. Sprinkle it in soups, use it as a rub for chicken or fish, or keep it on hand for other New Orleans-inspired recipes.


Makes 10 servings

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 yellow onions, chopped

2 red bell peppers, chopped

6 stalks celery, chopped

2 tablespoons minced garlic

4 Roma tomatoes, seeds removed, diced

2 dried bay leaves

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons Creole seasoning (recipe follows)

1 quart Shrimp Stock (recipe follows)

3 pounds large shrimp (21/25 count), peeled and deveined, shells reserved for stock

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Spinach and roasted pepper tian (recipe follows)

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, celery and garlic. Cook until the vegetables have softened, stirring often, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, cayenne and 1 tablespoon of Creole seasoning. Cook until the tomatoes have released their juices, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the shrimp stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened and flavorful, about 45 minutes.

Season the shrimp with the remaining 1 tablespoon of Creole seasoning and add to the pot, nestling them into the hot liquid. Cook until the shrimp are cooked through, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.

To serve, place a spinach and red pepper tian in a shallow serving bowl. Spoon the hot etouffee around the tian and garnish with scallions.


21/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Combine the ingredients and stir to combine. Set aside until ready to use.


1 pound (about 1 quart) shrimp shells and heads

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon black peppercorns, cracked

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons brandy

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the shrimp shells and heads on a baking sheet. Bake until they begin to char on the edges, about 30 minutes.

Remove the shrimp from the oven and transfer to a stock pot. Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns and tomato paste, and stir to combine. Cook until the tomato paste has darkened slightly, about 6 minutes. Add the brandy and simmer until the liquid has reduced, about 4 minutes.

Add two quarts of water and bring to a simmer. Skim to remove any foam that rises to the surface.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until reduced by about half, about 45 minutes, skimming occasionally. Season with salt.

Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Set aside until ready to use.


Makes 10 servings

5 red bell peppers

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 shallots, sliced

5 cloves garlic, sliced

2 pounds, 8 ounces baby spinach

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Roast the red peppers over a flame until charred all over. Alternately, cut around the core of the pepper to remove the seeds and stem. Lay the pepper flat, skin side up, on a baking sheet and broil until charred, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a sealed container or covered bowl until cooled, about 15 minutes. Rub the charred skin from the pepper, using a clean towel, if needed. Cut the peppers open and remove the seeds. Use a 2½-inch round cutter to cut circles from the peppers. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the butter, shallots and garlic. Cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the spinach and cover. Cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Work in batches, if necessary. Stir in the salt, then transfer to a strainer and use the back of a spoon to press out as much liquid as possible.

Using a 21/2-inch cutter as a mold, place one piece of cut pepper in the cutter. Add a layer of spinach and top with another piece of cut pepper. Add another layer of spinach and top with a third cut pepper. Compress the layers and remove the cutter to reveal a three-layer tian. Repeat the process until you have 10 individual portions. Set aside until ready to use.

]]> 0 and roasted pepper tian makes a tasty centerpiece in a bowl of shrimp etouffee.Tue, 31 Jan 2017 17:44:57 +0000
Hot pretzels and cheese dip will have crowds cheering your name Wed, 01 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 It is easy enough to put out bag after bag of chips during a football-watching party, or any other gathering for that matter. And it’s not much harder to go the extra step and put those chips into an actual bowl … you know, if you’re feeling classy.

But how about making a 15-minute snack that will have the crowds calling your name from the stands (or, in all likelihood, from the couch)?

A hot pretzel served up with a creamy, cheesy dip is the kind of food you would be thrilled to happen on and buy at a stadium.

But you can easily find these soft pretzels in the frozen aisle of your supermarket, and they heat up quickly in the oven. While you are heating the oven and baking the pretzels (which take less than 5 minutes!), you can stir together a quick cheese-and-beer dip for dunking. And while you are stirring you can imagine the expressions of happiness that will greet you when you plunk down this platter of hot pretzel goodness.

If you have a big crowd and want to make a larger batch of pretzels, double the dip recipe and keep it warm in a slow cooker. It can also be gently reheated over low heat in a saucepan if it starts to thicken up too much.


Serves 12

2 (13-ounce) boxes of frozen hot soft pretzels, 12 pretzels in all

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 cup milk, preferably whole

3/4 cup good beer

2 teaspoons brown mustard

Sriracha or other hot sauce to taste

4 ounces cream cheese, cut into pieces

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar

Coarse or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Prepare the pretzels according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk and beer, then increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the mustard and Sriracha and cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture begins to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes.

Whisk in the cream cheese until it’s melted, then add the cheddar cheese in several batches, whisking until each batch has melted before adding the next. Serve hot, with hot pretzels.

Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.”

]]> 0 soft pretzels with hot cheddar cheese beer dip.Tue, 31 Jan 2017 17:57:53 +0000
Potato chips you can feel better about eating Sun, 29 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 If you’re an average American, the USDA Economic Research Service says you’ve eaten 17 pounds of potato chips annually since 2000. And if you’re like me, you may have refused a few for nutritional reasons, but not many based on sustainability grounds.

When my editor mentioned she’d heard potato chips were the least sustainable snack food on the shelf, I wanted to know whether that label applied across the snack aisle or if I could be sustainably choosy and still get my crispy fix on Super Bowl Sunday.

According to Internet calculators, it requires up to 90 gallons of water to move a spud from bud to bag. Potatoes are a thirsty crop to start. And in average 15-minute run along production line, a potato travels along a water canal to be washed, tumbles in a steel drum with a water spray to be peeled and gets rinsed multiple times before and after it has been sliced. Producing a bag of chips puts a pound of carbon dioxide into the air (the equivalent to driving your car a little less than 2 miles, according to a food carbon emissions calculator built by Portland, Oregon-based CleanMetrics). Focus groups say chips must be blemish free and light in color, so chip makers employ quality controls to discard edible but ugly chips. And then there’s all that mostly unrecyclable packaging designed to keep the chips light, crisp and intact as they make their way to your snack drawer – or more likely your belly.

Sautéed unions for Christine Burns Rudalevige's onion dip.

Sautéed unions for Christine Burns Rudalevige’s onion dip. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

The most sustainable chip is one you make yourself from local potatoes, Maine sea salt and organic oil you’ve strained and reused before turning it into biodiesel fuel. But if DIY chips are not your thing, here is some criteria to help you locate greener options:

Still look for Maine potatoes. The Maine Potato Board says the state’s seasonal climate gives potatoes the right mix of sun and rain, and therefore irrigation is kept to a minimum. Typically, cold winters mean fewer potato pests, which holds pesticide use on the Maine potato crop to about one-tenth the national average. And the University of Maine is using traditional breeding methods to develop new varieties – like the Sebec – especially suited for potato chip production.

Local pitch duly made, understand that the vast majority of Maine potatoes are trucked out of state to be made into fries and chips. Shipping out whole potatoes to have them shipped back as chips does not earn “eat local” accolades. Two commercially available chips made in Maine from Maine potatoes are Freeport-based Vintage Maine Kitchen and Fox Family Potato Chips, based in Presque Isle. The former sources Norwis and Keuka Gold potatoes from Bell Farms in Auburn, fries and seasons them with salt from the Maine Sea Salt Co. (and in some bags Maine maple syrup) and sells them in about 100 restaurants and specialty food stores between Boston and Dover-Foxcroft. Fox Family Chips sources russets from Double G Farms in Blaine, has a similar geographical distribution and recently inked a deal to ship chips to New Haven, Connecticut, and New York.

Both Vintage Maine Kitchen’s Kelly Brodeur and Rhett Fox, who heads up his family’s business, say their hands-on small-batch approach requires minimal fossil fuel energy in comparison with their larger competitors. Moreover, both have chosen oils that balance cost, sustainability and flavor across their product lines.

Brodeur uses a non-GMO high oleic (a feature that helps with shelf-live) sunflower oil produced in the United States and recycles it with Maine Biofuels in Portland. Fox opts for a canola oil, which he filters and reuses to reduce waste.

These local chip makers say a little color shows character and seasonality in a chip rather than rendering it food waste. As a potato is pulled from the dirt and stored over the winter, its starches are converted to sugar, which caramelizes when it hits hot oil, adding flavor and interesting shades of brown to the chips.

Both Brodeur and Fox admit their foil-based packaging is not recyclable – as small producers, they say their options are limited – but they are hopeful that better alternatives will come down the pike soon. Brodeur is working to collect spent Vintage Maine Kitchens bags to be reused in community arts projects. Chip eaters are invited to send or bring their (preferably rinsed) bags to the company’s Freeport facility located at 491 US Route 1, Suite 10.

Regardless of the less than sustainable packaging parameters, though, both are absolutely convinced their efforts to produce greener chips means they make ones that taste as they should: more like potatoes.

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

Christine Burns Rudalevige's makes her onion dip. (Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer)

Christine Burns Rudalevige’s makes onion dip using local products. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette


Come on, I know you love Lipton Onion Soup Mix Onion Dip with your chips. This one bypasses the preservatives and the miles traveled. Serve with local chips.
Serves 6-­8

3 pounds local onions (5-6 medium onions)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon granulated maple sugar
(2 teaspoons of maple syrup will do in a pinch)
8 ounces local cream cheese
16 ounces local Greek-style yogurt
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped chives or minced scallion tops

Peel and dice the onions quite finely. Melt the butter in olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and maple sugar, reduce heat to low, and cook slowly until the onions have caramelized, about 30 minutes. Since the onions are cut small and cooking with sugar, they will brown quickly. What you’re looking for is a deep, dark, caramelized brown and a slightly shriveled texture. Cooking them to this point both colors the dip and allows the onions to almost reconstitute with the liquid in the dairy products, which will keep the dip from separating.
Cool the onions for 15 minutes. Blend the onions with the cream cheese and yogurt in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with chives or scallions.

]]> 0 Plate special for Jan. 29, 2017: Potato chips aren't usually thought of as a sustainable snack, but with a little work in the kitchen you can make them - and some delish dip - from locally sourced products.Fri, 27 Jan 2017 16:55:49 +0000
Recipe for Netti’s Chocolate Cake Wed, 25 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 NETTI’S CHOCOLATE CAKE

Press Herald writer Gillian Graham learned to sour milk from her grandmother, who added 1 teaspoon white vinegar to each cup of milk; this trick also works with lemon juice. She baked the cake in two 8-inch round vintage Pyrex cake pans that were greased and floured.

11/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup lard or butter

1 cup sour milk

21/2 cups sifted flour

Pinch of salt

2 tsp baking soda (level)

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 cup boiling water

Cream sugar and butter. In separate bowl, mix together flour, salt and soda. Add flour mixture and milk to butter mixture.

In small bowl, stir vanilla and cocoa into 1/2 cup boiling water. Add to batter. Mix in electric mixer for 3 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

BROWN SUGAR-COCONUT FROSTING:  This recipe included no details about what kind of coconut to use nor instructions for making the frosting. Press Herald writer Gillian Graham used dried coconut flakes. She whipped the first three ingredients together, then added the coconut. She also doubled the recipe to frost a two-layer cake.

1 quarter pound margarine

1/4 cup canned milk (evaporated milk)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup coconut

]]> 0 paired two recipes from her yard-sale finds to create this cake for her father-in-law's birthday.Tue, 24 Jan 2017 18:09:12 +0000
Recipe for clam casserole Wed, 25 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 CLAM CASSEROLE

Press Herald writer Gillian Graham used two 6.5-ounce cans of minced clams and Ritz crackers to make this recipe.

2 cans minced clams, drain one and save the juice from the other

3 eggs

1/8 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp pepper

1/3 cup melted margarine

35 crushed crackers

Mix canned clams and clam juice with eggs, sugar, pepper and margarine. Stir in crushed crackers. Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

]]> 0 Graham declared Clam Casserole a keeper.Tue, 24 Jan 2017 18:14:20 +0000
Recipe for fruit cocktail cookies Wed, 25 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 FRUIT COCKTAIL COOKIES

The recipe called for a small can of fruit cocktail, which left Press Herald writer Gillian Graham guessing what “small” meant. She decided on a 15-ounce can. The cookies baked in about 10 minutes.

11/2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup shortening

1 egg, well-beaten

3 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

1 can fruit cocktail, pieces cut up

1 tsp vanilla

Sift flour, baking soda and cream of tartar three times.

Mix together sugar, shortening, fruit cocktail, egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture.

Drop on greased pan and bake at 350 degrees.

]]> 0's verdict on the Fruit Cocktail Cookies: Eh.Tue, 24 Jan 2017 18:18:33 +0000
Cauliflower offers healthy, versatile alternative to white rice Wed, 25 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Until pretty recently, there was nothing sexy about cauliflower. Boiled or steamed, it’s bland at best. And if you overcook it, you’d better duck or suffer the smell of dirty diapers. But roasting or sautéing cauliflower is a different story. The veggie’s natural sugars caramelize and its tasty inner cauliflower suddenly blossoms. Think popcorn with an attitude.

Cauliflower is surprisingly versatile, too. Pulsed in a food processor, it ends up looking and feeling like white rice. Indeed, given that it’s high in fiber and an assortment of vitamins and minerals, cauliflower is a healthy alternative to white rice.

In the interest of coaxing out cauliflower’s best flavor, I have cooked this recipe’s allotment as if it were fried rice, sauteing it until golden. The “rice” is then infused with the usual Asian suspects – scallions, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil – and bulked up with mushrooms, bacon and peas. (Vegetarians are welcome to swap in some tofu for the Canadian bacon.)

Wonderful as it is the first time around, this dish is also the perfect foil for leftovers. Steak, chicken, shrimp, other cooked vegetables? Whatever’s sitting in the refrigerator and awaiting its second chance, toss it in. And if you need an excuse to go Asian, consider the Lunar New Year, which begins Tuesday. Otherwise, feel free to enjoy this recipe year-round.

Fried cauliflower "rice."

Fried cauliflower “rice.” Sara Moulton via AP


Serves 4

1 small cauliflower (about 1 3/4 pounds)

1/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided

2 large eggs

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces Canadian bacon, cut into medium dice

2 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms

11/2 bunches scallions, sliced thin (white and green parts kept separate – you will need about 1/2 cup of the whites and 1/3 cup of the greens)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

1 cup blanched fresh or thawed frozen peas

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Remove the core and chop the cauliflower roughly into 1 to 11/2-inch pieces. In a food processor pulse the cauliflower in 2-cup amounts until chopped into rice-size pieces (you should have about 4 cups)

In a large nonstick or stick-resistant skillet over medium-high heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a tablespoon of water, a pinch of salt and some pepper and add the eggs to the pan. Tilt the pan to spread the eggs all around to make a flat pancake. Cook until almost set, 30 to 45 seconds. Turn over the egg (you can cut it in a few pieces to make it easier, using the side of a nonstick pan-safe spatula) and cook for another 10 seconds. Transfer the cooked eggs to a cutting board.

Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil, the Canadian bacon and the shiitakes to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is browned at the edges, about 6 minutes. Transfer the bacon mushroom mixture to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add 1/2 tablespoon of the remaining oil and the white part of the scallion to the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the bacon mixture and return the skillet to the heat.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to the skillet, then add the cauliflower and a hefty pinch of salt, pressing it flat with the back of the spatula. Cook until the “rice” is golden brown in spots, turning it over with the spatula, about 10 to 12 minutes.

While the “rice” is cooking slice the egg into strips and add it along with the peas to the bowl with the bacon.

When the “rice” is nicely crisped, add the contents of the bacon bowl, the peas, soy sauce and sesame oil to the skillet and cook, stirring, until the mixture is heated through. Transfer the fried cauliflower “rice” to four bowls and top each portion with some of the sliced scallion greens and the pine nuts.

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.”

]]> 0 cauliflower "rice."Tue, 24 Jan 2017 17:46:43 +0000
‘Soups: Quick and Easy Soups for Every Season’ offers recipes ideal for one person Wed, 25 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 “Soups: Quick and Easy Sups for Every Season.” By Anna Helm Baxter. Hardie Grant Books. $19.99

If there were ever a cookbook tailor-made for me, it’s “Soups: Quick and Easy Soups for Every Season” by Anna Helm Baxter.

First of all, it’s all about soup – something I could eat for every meal all year long and am constantly looking for new variations on.

This cookbook has both simple takes on classic recipes, from black bean to chicken noodle, and soups based on ingredients I’d never think to use, like chestnut (topped with bacon) and watercress, as well as others I’d never think to combine, such as chickpea and hazelnut, carrot and tahini, and courgette (the British word for zucchini) and brie.

Secondly, every single recipe has a picture. The clean layout gives overhead shots of the ingredients on one page and the finished soup on the facing page.

Each recipe calls for only a handful of ingredients, including stuff I’d barely call an ingredient (like water), and the directions are written out in just a couple sentences, so that if you read them once, you get the gist and probably don’t need to keep referring back to the page as you cook.

1142975_88673 SoupsBookCover.jpgAlso, unlike most soup recipes, these are written for two to four servings – the perfect amount for a single person to have a hearty meal and some leftovers, but not enough to get sick of it.

The 70-some soup recipes are split into four categories: chilled, smooth, stock-based and hearty. Each also comes with a recommended season for serving it: cucumber and yogurt in summer, field mushroom in fall, asparagus and Parmesan in spring. I didn’t notice this feature before I chose a recipe, but, fortunately, it turned out that the lemon and parsnip soup I decided to make is apparently best in winter.

While the recipe was incredibly easy to make (cook vegetables, puree, add milk), the taste was remarkably complex.

Each bite had me trying to break down the flavors and, though I got glimpses of the brightness from the lemon, the earthiness of the rosemary and the sweet parsnip, together they made a totally unique taste, different from any soup I’ve eaten before.

The soup didn’t come out as smooth as it looked in the picture, but that could have been the fault of my somewhat rough estimate measuring the water or my lack of patience pureeing. But it didn’t have to match the photo to taste good, and I think that’s the essence of this cookbook – that soup doesn’t have to be an exact science.

Lemon and parsnip soup.

Lemon and parsnip soup.

I’ve used other recipes in “Soups: Quick and Easy Soups for Every Season” as a general guideline for putting together items I had in the house. Although I didn’t have every ingredient for the roast chicken soup, I took the suggestion of pureeing half of it and it gave new life to my trusty (but rusty) old recipe. The curried root vegetable recipe helped me make the most out of a butternut squash, even though I didn’t have the rutabaga it called for.

I think many of these recipes can act as inspiration, and ingredients can be swapped among them. In fact, the beginning of the book provides a formula for making up soups of your own, starting with a member of the onion family, adding an herb or spice, a thickener, a star vegetable and a backup, choosing a stock, a consistency and a starch (or not) and topping it off with something herby, crunchy or cheesy at the end (recipes for several of which, from chorizo crumbs to creme fraiche, are in the back).

If “Soups: Quick and Easy Soups for Every Season” doesn’t already have it all, it gives you the tools for infinite ideas of your own.


Serves 2 to 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 leeks, finely chopped

2 large parsnips, peeled, cored and chopped

1 sprig rosemary

1/2 lemon

750 milliliters (25 fluid ounces) water

250 milliliters (81/2 fluid ounces) whole milk

Sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper

Heat the butter until melted and foaming. Add the leeks and parsnips and cook until starting to brown. Add the rosemary, lemon half and water and bring to a boil. Simmer until the parsnip is tender. Discard the rosemary and lemon half, then puree until smooth. Add the milk and season.

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

Twitter: lesliebridgers

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