Recipes – Press Herald Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:01:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ‘The Perfect Cookie’ brings back memories of perfect Christmases Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 “The Perfect Cookie.” By America’s Test Kitchen. 448 pages. $35.

When I was 8, my father married Pam, giving me the bonus mom of my dreams and an extended family that celebrated Christmas with the kind of festive joy I thought was reserved for Hollywood movies.

As winter falls over Maine and the holidays approach, I often find my mind wandering back to those first Christmases together as a blended family. Pam’s grandmother Elsie (Grammy to her and Gram-Gram to us), an expert seamstress whose hands were never still, would deliver mittens and hats and Christmas sweaters she knitted for me and my brothers.

On a Saturday before Christmas, we’d pile into the car for the long drive to Pam’s family Christmas celebration two states away. There was something especially magical about this trip to Aunt Shirley and Uncle Puzzy’s house, where wreaths hung on the porch and a pool waited out back for parties the following summer. An oversized Christmas tree always stood in the corner of the living room, decorations glimmering and presents spilling in piles from underneath the lowest branches.

Aunt Shirley, the kind of perfect hostess I still aspire to be, would serve what seemed like endless appetizers before dinner was ready. The long table in the dining room was always covered with festive Christmas centerpieces and a buffet of favorite family dishes, like fluffy mashed potatoes and carved roasts.

There on the dessert table, between Nana’s peanut butter fudge and other fancy treats, I’d find the dessert Gram-Gram brought. To other family gatherings she’d often bring a lemon meringue pie or a dessert layered with chocolate pudding, Cool Whip and nuts (which I only just recently learned from Aunt Shirley was likely a dish called Better Than Sex). But at Christmastime there were small round cookies, buttery and flaky and rolled in confectioners’ sugar. They were my favorite, even if the sugar sprinkled down on my Christmas dress like a dusting of snow.

Eventually, as family members died and children grew and moved away, the Christmas parties stopped. After Gram-Gram was gone, I never had those cookies again. I’d occasionally think of them and promised someday to find a recipe for something similar.

When I grabbed “The Perfect Cookie” from America’s Test Kitchen off a shelf and flipped it open, it was to the recipe for Mexican Wedding Cookies. I knew these had to be Gram-Gram’s cookies.

As expected from America’s Test Kitchen, this book offers 250 recipes that are clearly explained and promise to be foolproof. Divided into 10 categories of cookies, brownies and bars, the recipes range from “perfect” chocolate chip cookies to baklava to key lime bars. The book includes sections on Christmas cookies and gluten-free desserts. If you have room in your kitchen for only one cookie cookbook, this would be a good choice.

The Mexican Wedding Cookie recipe was easy to follow and came together quickly. As I rolled the cookies in confectioners’ sugar, my mind drifted back to those early Christmases with Pam and her family. Three generations are gone now – Pam, Nana and Gram-Gram – but I still look for ways to keep their memories with me. These cookies were a welcome connection to Gram-Gram and will become part of my holiday baking tradition.


Makes 48 cookies

2 cups pecans or walnuts

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup (21/3 ounces) superfine sugar

11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

11/2 cups (6 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Process 1 cup pecans in food processor until texture of course cornmeal, about 10 to 15 seconds; transfer pecans to bowl. Process remaining 1 cup pecans in now-empty food processor until coarsely chopped, about 5 seconds; transfer to bowl with ground pecans. Stir flour and salt into pecans.

2. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and superfine sugar at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and slowly add nut mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl and continue to mix on low speed until dough is cohesive, about 7 seconds. Give dough final stir by hand to ensure no dry pockets of flour remain.

3. Working with 1 tablespoon dough at a time, roll into balls and space them 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake until tops are pale golden brown and bottoms are just beginning to brown, about 18 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Let cookies cool completely.

4. Spread confectioners’ sugar in shallow dish. Working with several cookies at a time, roll in sugar to coat. Before serving, re-roll cookies in confectioners’ sugar and gently shake off excess.

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This French toast for brunch gives pumpkin spice a good name Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 There are some major misconceptions about brunch, like that it’s just an excuse for people to drink mimosas and bloody marys before noon. And, well, yes – but the drinks are only the third-best thing about brunch.

Obviously if we’re discussing the merits of this late-morning, early-afternoon, weekend-only occasion, we have to address the very best things about it. No. 1: bacon as a side, no matter what you have ordered, since it is the official liaison between sweet and savory foods.

The No. 2 reason that brunch is the best: dessert for breakfast. Monday through Friday, breakfast should be wholesome, nutrient-filled foods to power you through your day. But on the weekends, brunch menus all over the world offer us many shapes of cake to break the fast, and it’s just not a fair test of any person’s willpower.

So if we’re all going to agree that once in a while a cake covered in maple syrup is breakfast, then we ought to be prepared with the very best recipe for our at-home brunching occasions. And for that, The Culinary Institute of America has you covered. But you have to pinky swear to eat something full of whole grains and fruit for breakfast on Monday.

Pumpkin spice is a divisive subject, but whether or not you want it in your coffee (or lip balm), you need a little bit of pumpkin to officially ring in the season. So what better way to pumpkin-ify your life than with a delightfully decadent dessert-turned-breakfast?

For this Pumpkin Bread French Toast, we’ve reverse-engineered a pumpkin bread pudding, which is really just reverse-engineered French toast. First we start with the best pumpkin bread you’ll ever make (and that is still super quick and easy). It’s then sliced, lightly dried and dunked in a maple-egg mixture.

After a quick cook, it is creamy, dense and just sweet enough to make you feel like you’re breaking the rules. You can pair it with maple syrup, if you like, but if you’re going to go for it, you should really go for it. We’re including a recipe for our favorite Bourbon Creme Anglaise.

This French dessert sauce is also known as vanilla sauce, and as students in the CIA’s baking and pastry arts degree program will tell you, it’s closely related to a lot of familiar desserts. Baked, you’ve got a creme brulee. Frozen, it’s vanilla ice cream. Add a little cornstarch and some elbow grease, and you made pastry cream (or vanilla pudding!). It’s easy to make, but you’ll just want to be careful as you add the hot liquid to your egg mixture. If you don’t whisk enough, the eggs will cook, leaving you scrambled eggs. If you have an issue, just strain them out.

We’ve added bourbon to this vanilla sauce, because its rich caramel flavor is perfectly paired with the pumpkin and maple. If that’s not up your alley, CIA Chef Genevieve Meli has some tips. “You can flavor your custard by infusing the hot milk with spices or teas before incorporating the eggs. You can even add melted chocolate (off the heat, so it doesn’t burn) to the finished sauce for a chocolate variation.” Chocolate sauce sounds like the perfect brunch accessory.


Servings: 10


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing

13/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

11/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup unsweetened pumpkin purée

2 large eggs

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup unsweetened pumpkin purée

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Confectioners’ sugar, as needed

1/2 cup dried fruits, like cranberries and golden raisins

Spiced Crème Anglaise for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with butter and set aside.

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

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 4 tablespoons butter, sugar and vegetable oil. Mix on medium speed, scraping the bottom of the bowl occasionally, until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add the pumpkin and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated each time and scraping the bowl as needed. Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined, about 30 seconds.

Spread the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 60 to 75 minutes. Place the pan on a cooling rack to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely.

To prepare the French toast, preheat the oven to 300 F. Slice the pumpkin bread into 10 slices and place on a baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake until the bread has dried out slightly, flipping once during cooking, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, pumpkin, maple syrup, salt and cinnamon in a shallow dish.

Once the bread has cooled slightly, melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Working in batches, soak the sliced bread in the egg mixture until it softens slightly, about 20 seconds per side. The bread is very absorbent, so be careful not to oversoak or it will fall apart.

Transfer to the hot pan and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Lower the heat as needed to prevent browning.

Transfer to a serving platter as done, dust with confectioners’ sugar and garnish with dried fruit. Serve right away with crème anglaise.


Makes about 2 cups

1 cup whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup sugar (divided use)

4 large egg yolks

1 to 2 tablespoon bourbon (optional)

Combine the milk, cream, vanilla bean and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a large, heavy, nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Prepare an ice bath if you plan to serve the sauce cooled. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the egg yolks. Whisk until thoroughly combined.

Temper the eggs by gradually adding about one-third of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly.

Add the remaining cream mixture, return to the pan, and gently cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in bourbon, if using.

Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher to serve warm, or into a bowl set over the ice bath to serve chilled. Stir the sauce occasionally as it cools.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

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Vegetable gratin lets potatoes be part of a rootsy medley Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 The side dishes on our annual Thanksgiving menu almost always include mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables. This year I decided to change up the routine by combining the two, adding a little cream and topping off the hybrid with some crunch. It’s heartier that way and tastier, too.

This recipe calls for a pound of turnips and one-half pound each of carrots and parsnips. What if you’re not a fan of turnips? (Some folks find them a bit funky.) Just leave them out and increase the amount of carrots and parsnips. But try not to mess with the specified amount of potatoes. It’s their starch that thickens the sauce.

The dairy is a combination of cream and milk (the latter lightens the dish) infused with garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Seasoning a gratin is usually hit or miss – you sprinkle some salt willy-nilly on top of the raw vegetables as you layer them into the baking pan. Here we call for an exact measure of salt to be added to and dissolved into the cream/milk mixture. That way the seasoning is perfect.

It’s important to make sure the vegetables are sliced thinly and evenly so that they all become tender at the same time. You can do it by hand, but you will get more uniform results with a mandoline or the slicing disk of your food processor. (If you do choose to work with the mandoline, be sure to put the guard into place.)

One final note – not all baking pans perform the same way in the oven. When I made this dish in a metal pan, the vegetables were tender in 40 minutes. When I used a glazed earthenware pan, they took over 50 minutes. The difference speaks to the relative ability of each material to conduct – or resist – heat. In either case, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the process.


Servings: 10 to 12

13/4 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

4 large sprigs fresh thyme, crushed with a rolling pin

1 bay leaf

4 garlic cloves, smashed

21/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound russet potatoes

1 pound turnips

1/2 pound carrots

1/2 pound parsnips

2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees; adjust the oven rack to the middle position.

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cream, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, salt and pepper; heat the mixture over medium-high heat until bubbles form around the edge. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep while you prepare the vegetables.

Peel all the root vegetables. Using a mandoline or the slicing disk of a food processor, slice them crosswise, 1/8-inch thick.

Remove and discard the thyme, bay leaf and garlic cloves from the cream mixture and pour one-fourth of the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

Add the vegetables and the remaining milk mixture to the baking pan (the liquid will just come up to the level of the vegetables). Stir the vegetables to make sure they are separated and then press them down to distribute them evenly.

Bake the gratin on the middle shelf of the oven for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and press the vegetables down with a large metal spatula. Return the gratin to the oven and bake until the liquid has thickened and vegetables are tender when pricked with a knife, about 15 to 25 minutes more.

In a bowl combine the cheese, panko and oil; sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the pan. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the top is browned, about 10 minutes.

Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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The Maine Ingredient: Sure, we love Thanksgiving, but we’re devoted to the leftovers Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 If you’ve hosted the dinner, chances are you’ve got the cook’s dividend: leftovers, which are the payoff for polishing the silver, setting the table and toiling over a hot oven. Here are a couple of stellar suggestions.


This curry, which is a beautiful golden color from the curry powder and sweet potato, gets its richness from coconut milk and its heat from jalapeño peppers and lots of grated ginger. (Use the larger amount of ginger if you want to open your sinuses.) Serve over steamed basmati or jasmine rice, accompanied by a cucumber and red pepper salad and a dish of fruit chutney.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 large or 2 small jalapeño peppers, ribs and seeds removed, finely chopped

3 tablespoons good-quality curry powder

1½ teaspoons cumin seeds

1 can (14½ ounces) unsweetened coconut milk

1 medium sweet potato (about 10 ounces), peeled and cut into ½-inch dice

1 large tomato, seeded and finely chopped

4 cups cooked turkey, cut into 1½-inch chunks

1-2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 scallions, thinly sliced

¾ cup coarsely chopped cilantro

2 limes, cut into wedges

In a very large skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring now and then, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add jalapeños, curry powder and cumin seeds and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add coconut milk, ½ cup water, sweet potato and tomato, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add turkey and ginger and cook about 5 minutes until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Can be made up to a day ahead and refrigerated.)

Reheat gently before serving, thinning with more water if necessary. Scatter with scallions and cilantro. Serve over rice, with lime wedges on the side for squeezing.


If you have leftover stuffing, substitute it for some of the potatoes. If you don’t have leftover mashed potatoes, cook 2 large peeled russet potatoes, cut in chunks, in boiling salted water until tender. Drain, mash and season with salt and pepper. Steamed or sautéed broccolini makes an excellent accompaniment.

Serves 4

5 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups chopped shiitake mushroom caps or other wild mushrooms

1 large garlic clove, minced

3 cups chopped cooked turkey meat

3 cups mashed potatoes

1 cup panko crumbs, divided

¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions

4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cranberry sauce

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and garlic and sauté, stirring often, until mushrooms give off some liquid and are tender, about 5 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl. Add turkey, mashed potatoes, about a third of the panko crumbs, cheese, scallions and sage. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide turkey mixture into 8 equal portions, shape into ½- to ¾-inch thick patties, and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up patties.

Spread remaining panko crumbs out on a plate. Divide the remaining 3 tablespoons oil between 2 large skillets and heat over medium-high heat. Dredge patties in crumbs and cook until brown and crusty on both sides and hot inside, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve patties topped with cranberry sauce.

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:

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Basmati rice makes Greek-Style Rice Pilaf special Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 With the exception of ooey-gooey potato concoctions, side dishes rarely get any respect. Most of us devote our love and attention to the protein in the center of the plate and then throw together some kind of vegetable and/or starch as an afterthought. Here, however, is a pilaf fully capable of stealing the limelight from the usual star of the show.

It’s basmati rice that makes Greek-Style Rice Pilaf special. An aromatic grain used for centuries in India and Pakistan, basmati doesn’t usually show up in a Greek-styled pilaf. But I prefer its naturally nutty taste to the blandness of the usual varieties of long-grain rice. The seasonings are also key: sauteed spinach spiked with red pepper flakes, feta cheese, olives and dill.

To make sure the cooked grains ended up separate and fluffy – and to wash away excess starch – I started by rinsing the rice. This requires covering the rice in several inches of cold water, stirring it in a circular motion several times, dumping off the water and starting again with fresh water. Repeat this process as often as it takes for the water to become almost clear.

Cooking rice also requires some care. It needs to be tightly sealed and cooked at a bare simmer to achieve the right texture. Place a wet paper towel under the lid to ensure that no liquid can escape. Waiting 10 minutes after it’s cooked before fluffing it up allows all the moisture to be absorbed.

If you’re no fan of feta, just swap in ricotta salata, a kind of aged ricotta. You’re also welcome to lose the dill in favor of oregano, basil or mint.

Born as a side dish, Greek Style Rice Pilaf easily converts to main-dish status. Just top it off with a little sauteed shrimp or chicken and call it a meal.


Servings: 6

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 cup basmati rice, rinsed until the water runs clear and drained

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon lemon zest

12/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth

8 ounces baby spinach

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 ounces finely crumbled feta cheese (about 1/2 cup)

1 ounce chopped Mediterranean olives (heaping 1/4 cup)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

In a medium saucepan cook the onion in 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it is golden, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and garlic; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low, adjusting the temperature to make sure that the broth maintains a bare simmer, cover the top of the pot with a wet paper towel and a tight-fitting lid and cook, without stirring, for 17 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.

While the rice is simmering, cook the spinach. In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil over high heat, add half the spinach and cook, stirring until it is wilted, add half the pepper flakes, stir and transfer the spinach to a bowl. Repeat the procedure with the remaining oil, spinach and pepper flakes and set aside.

When the rice is done and has rested for 10 minutes, add the feta, olives and dill and, using a fork, fluff the rice to separate the grains. Serve right away.

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Think kale is ‘so over’? Try it kissed by cream and cheese Wed, 15 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 My father and grandfather, both no longer here, loved nothing better than a serious steak dinner at their favorite steakhouse, Peter Lugar’s, in New York City. If there was something to celebrate, an out-of-town guest to impress or the desire to indulge an extravagant comfort-food craving, there was one clear choice.

Ordering was easy: a starter of thickly sliced tomatoes and onions with the house dressing, which was also the house steak sauce (think of Worcestershire sauce disguised as a thick dressing), and possibly a wedge salad with bacon and blue cheese. To follow, there was a T-bone steak, sliced but with the bone served up for nibbling, with fried potatoes and creamed spinach. And after belts had been loosened, perhaps a piece of key lime pie.

I think that for most of us, to like creamed spinach is to love creamed spinach. You have to go all in if you go at all. And I love creamed spinach.

But because envelopes need the occasional pushing, I recently decided to cream up some kale with a generous amount of cream and Parmesan cheese in memory of my dad and grandpa. I know that in some circles kale is considered the king of the greens, and in others it’s considered “over.” I don’t belong to either camp, but I do love cooking with kale.

It has similar nutritional perks to spinach (not that I am selling this particular recipe as healthy), and holds up to heat with more presence. If you want, you can use baby kale in this recipe, which isn’t as tough as fully grown kale, and has no thick ribs to remove, which makes the prep easier.

This begs to be served up next to a roast chicken, a piece of seared or roasted fish, or, in the most perfect of all worlds, a juicy T-bone steak.


Serves 4 to 6

1 pound kale

11/2 cups heavy cream

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Pinch red pepper flakes

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

If you are using mature kale, trim the tough middle rib from the leaves, and roughly chop the leaves. If you are using baby kale, roughly chop that. Rinse in a colander. Add the kale to the boiling water and boil for 4 to 5 minutes, until the kale is fairly tender. Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water, and then use your hands to squeeze as much water as you can out of the kale.

Place the cream in the pot you used to cook the kale. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and then lower the heat to medium and continue to simmer until reduced by about a half, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and the red pepper flakes. Add the blanched kale and simmer, stirring often, until the cream sauce is further reduced and coats the kale, about 3 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan until the cheese is melted and everything is well blended.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot.

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Hearty, rib-sticking ingredients define this cold-weather salad Wed, 15 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Summer may officially be the season of green salads, but wintertime versions have advantages that make them worth exploring.

The cooler weather seasonable greens are hearty and darker green, which makes them nutrient-rich. And these thicker-leaved greens, such as kale or spinach, can hold up to the addition of warm ingredients, opening up the possibilities for topping your salad with roasted goodies in a way that delicate butter lettuce never could.

Have some hearty root veggies in the fridge? Toss them (and some whole garlic cloves – yum!) in some olive oil and roast them up, and add warm to raw kale leaves with lemon juice, Parmesan and black pepper and you’ve got a winter salad rivaling anything you’d make in July.

Today’s recipe takes inspiration from this season’s holiday cooking pantry ingredients that I always seem to have on hand. Apples, leftover from apple pie, are the salad’s real star, while the pumpkin vinaigrette – also of pie fame – plays an important supporting role.

I cut the apples into small cubes and quickly roast them in a little salt and rosemary at high heat, and the little cubes turn into sweet, herbaceous nuggets of flavor – like raisins, but better – and make other ingredients almost unnecessary. I add leftover turkey for protein, almonds for crunch and tomatoes for a tiny bit of acid.

You could even add blue cheese or feta if you happened to have some floating around the house, leftover from a cheese party platter. Feel free to swap out ingredients to match your pantry: As long as you are topping winter greens with something warm, whether roasted Brussels sprouts or pan-seared salmon, you’ll be on your way to a tasty winter green salad.


Servings: 4


2 large tart apples (such as Granny Smith), cut into 1-inch cubes (unpeeled), about 3 cups

2 teaspoons fresh minced rosemary

5 cups baby spinach or kale, or other hearty greens

1/2 cup baby tomatoes, halved or quartered

11/2 cups shredded cooked white meat chicken or turkey

1/4 cup marcona almonds

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Olive oil in a mister


1/4 cup pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary

1 teaspoon minced shallot

A few turns of freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place the cubed apple on a parchment-line baking tray and spray with an olive oil mister to coat the cubes.

Sprinkle on the minced rosemary and salt, and gently toss the cubes to coat. Bake just until tender and edges are starting to turn golden, about 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and set aside to cool just a few minutes. While the apples are roasting, make the vinaigrette. Place the pumpkin puree, water, vinegar and maple syrup in a small bowl. Whisk the olive oil into the mixture until well-blended. Add the rosemary, shallot and black pepper and stir.

TO ASSEMBLE THE SALAD: Place the spinach in a bowl or platter and top with the tomatoes, chicken, almonds and warm, roasted apples. Drizzle with pumpkin vinaigrette, toss, and serve.

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Chorizo takes Brussels sprouts on a fun Spanish holiday Wed, 15 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Brussels sprouts lovers, you are in for a treat: a side dish that will threaten to steal center stage.

Spanish chorizo, a wonderfully spiced smoked pork sausage, gets sauteed just enough to brown a bit and release its oils. Then fresh bread crumbs are sauteed in the same pan and set aside to become a flavorful and delightfully textured topping for sauteed and flash-braised Brussels sprouts, combined with the browned chorizo.

This is delicious served hot, warm or even at room temperature – a boon to busy cooks getting a big holiday meal on the table. Try this bread crumb technique to top roasted broccoli, cauliflower or asparagus as well.

Uncooked Mexican chorizo, while delicious, is not what you want in this recipe. Spanish chorizo is available at well-stocked markets. The casing is edible.


Serves 6

2 ounces Spanish chorizo sausage, diced (about 1/2 cup)

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

2/3 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 teaspoon minced garlic, divided

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

3 tablespoons chicken broth

Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the chorizo and saute for 2 minutes over medium-high heat, until it starts to brown and release some of its oils. Remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon to a plate.

Add 3 tablespoons of the oil to the pan, leaving any oil left from sauteeing the chorizo, and heat over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs, season with salt and pepper, and toast, stirring frequently, until the breadcrumbs are a light golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add half of the garlic and cook and stir for one more minute, until you can small the garlic. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the toasted crumbs to a paper towel-lined plate. Wipe out the skillet and return to the heat.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan, and heat over medium high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring only occasionally, until they begin to become tender and lightly browned in spots, about 6 minutes. Add the remaining half of the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds, until you can smell the garlic. Add the broth, cover the pan, and cook for another 4 minutes until the Brussels sprouts are tender (but not soft!).

Uncover the pan, saute for one more minute until most of the liquid is evaporated, stir in the chorizo, then turn it all into a serving dish.

Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and serve hot or warm.

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Maine chefs, cookbook authors offer tips on transforming your Thanksgiving repertoire Wed, 15 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Even cooks who swear they will never, ever make anything other than their grandmother’s cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving sometimes need a little break from tradition.

They may leave the cranberry sauce alone, but yearn to shake up that stuffing or put a different twist on the pumpkin pie their family has eaten for the past 30 years.

The internet is so full of recipes it can be overwhelming to find something suitable, and some of the online recipes are just plain weird.

Maine is populated with standout chefs and talented cookbook authors, so why not turn to them for some fresh ideas? Here we’ve gathered their takes on some Thanksgiving classics that put a little twist on your favorite dishes without ruining them. And we’ve thrown in a different kind of appetizer – step away from the stuffed mushroom caps – for good measure.


Home cooks yearn for a couple of things at Thanksgiving: at least one recipe that does not require complicated techniques or fancy equipment, and a crowd-pleasing dish that can be made the night before.

Nick Alfiero’s Salmon Carpaccio satisfies on both counts.

Alfiero and his family are Portland’s best known fishmongers. He shared his recipe for marinated raw salmon – a great Thanksgiving appetizer – in the “Harbor Fish Market” cookbook, published by Down East Books in 2013.

“It’s one of the dishes I make when I know I’m going to have company, and they love it,” Alfiero said.

The recipe says to refrigerate the salmon for an hour before serving. If you make it the night before, just cover the fish in plastic wrap, refrigerate it, “and it’s fine,” Alfiero said.

And in case you’re wondering… yes, even with some of the best seafood on the East Coast at their fingertips, the Alfieros still eat turkey for the main course on Thanksgiving.

“I’m a traditionalist, I guess,” Alfiero said.


Serves 4

1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot

1 tablespoon chopped dill

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/4 cup olive oil

Black pepper, to taste

1 pound fresh salmon fillet

1 tablespoon capers

Lemon wedge, for garnish

Dill weed sprigs, for garnish

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or 1/4 teaspoon dried nutmeg

Mix the shallot, dill, sea salt, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, and pepper in a bowl and set aside. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Slice the salmon at a 45-degree angle (on the bias), as thinly as possible, and arrange the slices on the parchment paper. Put another piece of parchment paper on top of the salmon. With a food mallet, pound the salmon lightly, enough to thin it out but not crush it. Lift off the top parchment paper and spoon the mixture from the bowl over the salmon and spread evenly.

Refrigerate for one hour and remove. Place the salmon on individual serving plates. Garnish with capers, lemon wedge, and dill. Grate the nutmeg and pepper in equal amounts over the tops


The recipes for chef Mark Gaier’s herb-brined turkey with pear gravy were originally written for Barbara Fairchild, the former editor of Bon Appetit. The recipes, along with Gaier’s creative take on stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, were reprinted in “Maine Classics,” the 2011 cookbook he wrote with his kitchen partner/husband, chef Clark Frasier.

The turkey and gravy became staples on the Thanksgiving menu at Arrows, the elegant Ogunquit restaurant the couple ran for 25 years.

At first, Gaier said, “I think people were, like, ‘Pear gravy? That’s a little weird,’ but it was very popular at Arrows.”

The restaurant, located in an 18th-century farmhouse, had an antique clawfoot bathtub that the chefs used to brine their turkeys. Despite recent skepticism about brining, Gaier is a big proponent of the practice.

“I think it really makes a difference,” he said. “I think it makes the turkey more flavorful, more tender, more moist. There’s a reason why the big companies inject the turkeys with all that crap. What we’re doing is the right way of doing that.”

After spending more than a quarter-century’s worth of Thanksgivings in restaurants, Gaier and Frasier finally took a year off after they shuttered Arrows in 2013 and spent Thanksgiving that year with family in Ohio. (They still cooked a turkey, but just one.) Now they are back to it, serving Thanksgiving dinner at MC Perkins Cove, their Ogunquit restaurant with a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean. Traditional turkey gravy has replaced the pear gravy, but they are still serving their turkey brined the same way “except we don’t have a big bathtub.”


Serves 8


5 gallons water

1 (1-pound) box coarse kosher salt

1/2 cup whole black peppercorns

Chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier at a book launch for “Maine Classics” at MC Perkins Cove in Ogunquit in 2011. Staff photo by Jill Brady

1/2 cup fresh thyme sprigs

1/2 cup fresh marjoram sprigs

1/2 cup fresh sage sprigs

12 bay leaves

1 (13-pound) turkey

4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups low-salt chicken broth

1 cup pear juice

2 tablespoons dark rum

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram


Select a container large enough to hold the turkey. Add the water and the salt and stir until the salt dissolves. Stir in the peppercorns, thyme, marjoram, sage, and bay leaves. Add the turkey to the brine. Place a large plate on top of the turkey to submerge it. Place in a cold place and soak for 8 to 10 hours.

Remove the turkey from the brine. Rinse and pat dry. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Place the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan. Rub the butter over the turkey. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the turkey in the oven and reduce the heat to 325 F. Roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 175 F, about 2-1/2 hours. Transfer the turkey to a platter and tent with foil. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before carving.



Spoon off the fat from the drippings in the roasting pan, reserving 1/4 cup of fat. Measure 2/3 cup of pan juices and set aside. Melt the butter and the reserved fat in a large saucepan over medium heat. Mix in the flour. Stir and cook until light brown, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the chicken broth, pear juice, and the pan juices. Simmer until thickened, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Stir in the rum. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the turkey with marjoram and serve with the gravy.

Kate Krukowski Gooding is best known for her expertise in cooking wild game, from moose and venison to bear and beaver.

Gooding, author of several cookbooks and wild game food columnist for The Maine Sportsman magazine, likes to cook a wild turkey for Thanksgiving, when she is lucky enough to get one from a turkey-hunting friend. (Her backup: a free-range turkey.) A lot of people think wild turkeys will taste gamey, Gooding said, but she describes the flavor as “fresh” and “real.” A wild turkey is smaller and not as moist as a store-bought bird, so if you’ve never cooked one before it’s easy to dry it out, she said. “You cannot cook them any more than 15 minutes a pound,” she said.

A wild turkey still needs good side dishes, and Gooding likes serving these potatoes with her holiday bird.

“I like them for Thanksgiving just because everybody is looking for rich food, and it’s a great complement to the turkey,” she said. (This dish also goes well with lamb, she adds.)

Gooding says the white sweet potatoes mess with her guests’ heads. They’re not much different in flavor than regular sweet potatoes, but the color confuses their brain cells and taste buds.

“I served them one time and they were actually caught off guard,” Gooding said. “They couldn’t figure out what the taste was. They didn’t know what to do.”

She makes another version with herbs and Gruyere cheese that also throws off peoples’ palates.

Either way, the dish goes well with an “earthy” stuffing, Gooding said.


Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus enough butter to grease a casserole dish

2 pounds white sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (about 1/8-inch)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

21/2 cups heavy cream

2 cups grated Parmesan

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13 casserole dish. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, salt and pepper, and half the garlic. Toss to coat. Pour potatoes into buttered baking pan. (Layer the coated potatoes into the baking dish for a more elegant presentation.)

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in frying pan. When it has melted, add remaining half of the garlic and the shallot, and cook until softened. Add cream and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes, then add 1 cup Parmesan and heat through until melted down and warm. Pour over potatoes and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Cover dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh chives.


All families have certain dishes at Thanksgiving that are sacrosanct – the cornbread stuffing with just the right amount of sage, the pumpkin pie that tastes exactly the way Aunt Edna used to make it. The cook messes with these family favorites at her own peril.

For food writer Kathy Gunst, it’s her cranberry sauce, included in her 2011 cookbook of Maine seasonal foods, “Notes from a Maine Kitchen.” She tweaks the recipe a little from year to year, ever-so-slightly, but doesn’t dare make wholesale changes “or people get very upset.”

Adding fresh pineapple was one such tweak. One year she was making the cranberry sauce and spied a pineapple that had been sitting on her kitchen counter for a few days, and thought why not?

“It’s incredibly juicy, it’s natural sweetness, and it pairs well with the cranberries,” Gunst said. “It’s certainly not a native fruit, but it does complement cranberry sauce.”

(If you must use canned, crushed pineapple in this recipe, she advises, cut way back on the sugar and maple syrup. Canned pineapple is, she said, “way too sweet.”)

Gunst always makes at least a double batch because her family eats the cranberry sauce for days after Thanksgiving. They spread it on sandwiches, pound cake and butter cookies. They spoon it over ginger ice cream. It goes really well with chocolate cake, Gunst said, or even on a breakfast of yogurt and granola. “It can live anywhere,” she said.

With two grown daughters out of the house, this will be the first Thanksgiving in Gunst’s entire adult life that she hasn’t cooked a turkey and the entire Thanksgiving feast. She’ll be making something, but she’ll be taking it to share at a “Friendsgiving” gathering. Rather than feeling relieved, or grateful for the break, she’s a little wistful.

“I love making Thanksgiving for many reasons,” she said, “but one of them, being a food writer, I love the idea that almost everybody in the country is doing what I’m doing for once. They’re all cooking, and we’re all cooking something that’s somewhat similar. I take great comfort in that.”


Makes about 6 cups

1 cup sugar

2 cups water

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 pound fresh cranberries

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup julienned orange rind

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped candied (or crystallized) ginger

1 cup chopped fresh pineapple

1 cup pecans, or your favorite nut, chopped

Place the sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook 10 to 15 minutes, or until the sugar syrup begins to thicken slightly and turn a pale amber color. Add the maple syrup and the cranberries and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries begin to pop. Add the orange juice, orange rind, and orange zest and cook another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken slightly. Add the fresh and crystallized ginger, and the pineapple, and cook 2 minutes. The sauce should be full of flavor and slightly thickened. (If the sauce still seems thin – remember, it will thicken as it chills – remove the cranberries and flavorings with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Boil the liquid in a pot over a moderate-high heat until it is thickened slightly, about 10 additional minutes, if needed. Place the cranberries back in the slightly thickened sauce.)

Remove the sauce from the heat and add the nuts, stirring well. Let cool completely. Place in a clean glass jar and cover; refrigerate for up to 10 days, or freeze for up to 6 months.


Erin French of The Lost Kitchen, whose restaurant and story have attracted nationwide attention, included this Thanksgiving pie recipe in her first cookbook, “The Lost Kitchen: Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom, Maine,” which came out in May.

In the book, she says: “I request this for Thanksgiving every year. It’s like having the most delicious cloud of pumpkin pie – light and fluffy yet with all the deep flavors of the heavier classic version. Exactly what you want after eating such an indulgent meal. My mom uses a can of One-Pie pumpkin filling – which is completely acceptable – but using your own winter squash puree feels rustic and grown-up.”


Makes one 9-inch pie; serves 8-10


11/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough

12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup ice water


1 (1/4-ounce) envelope gelatin

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk

3 large eggs, separated

11/2 cups pureed roasted winter squash, such as kabocha or butternut (see instructions below), or 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


1 pint heavy cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a food processor, pulse the flour, butter and salt until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Add the ice water and pulse again until just incorporated.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Work it into a ball with your hands and then roll it out into a 16-inch round about 1/8-inch thick. Lay the dough over a 9-inch pie pan and remove the excess dough from the edge, leaving about 1 inch to crimp decoratively.

Line the crust with foil and fill with pastry weights or dried beans. Bake until the edges are golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the foil and weights, and let cool.


Combine the gelatin, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the evaporated milk, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Whisk constantly over low heat until the gelatin and sugar dissolve and the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the squash, salt, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Chill the mixture, stirring occasionally, until completely cool.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or using a hand mixer, whip the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and then fold in the chilled squash mixture. Pour into the prepared pie shell and chill for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Serve topped with big dollops of perfectly whipped cream.


In a stand mixer or working by hand with a whisk, preferably with a chilled bowl, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla on high speed until soft peaks form.


Preheat the oven to 425 F. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Brush the flesh with 1/4 cup olive oil and season each half with 1 teaspoon salt. Put a tablespoon of butter on top of each, wrap individually in foil, and transfer to the oven. Bake until the squash is fork-tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Scoop out the flesh and puree.

]]> 0 writer Kathy Gunst in the kitchen of her South Berwick home in 2016.Tue, 14 Nov 2017 19:05:59 +0000
The Maine Ingredient: Hearty supper sandwiches a perfect go-to option Wed, 15 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 As preparations for Thanksgiving begin to heat up, it’s nice to have simple, hearty sandwich supper options in your back pocket. Because protein, starch and even some vegetables are already on the rolls, all you really need to add are some pickles and chips to make a meal.


Several companies in Maine produce really excellent fresh Italian sausages. This sandwich makes a great supper accompanied by a big tomato salad.

Serves 4

1½ pounds sweet or hot Italian sausages

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 green or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

½ teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

4 Portuguese or grinder rolls, sliced horizontally, warmed if you like

4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, optional

Cut sausages into 3-inch lengths and prick in several places with a fork. Place in a single layer in a large skillet, add about ½-inch of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover, and cook over medium to medium-low heat until water cooks off and sausages brown on all sides and are cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Heat oil in another large skillet. Add onion and peppers and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown and soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in the oregano, cook for a minute, and stir in the vinegar.

Split sausages in half lengthwise if desired and layer onto rolls with peppers, sprinkle with optional mozzarella, slice in half diagonally and serve.


Haddock sandwiches could well be the most popular year-round lunchtime sandwich in Maine. The fresh fish is usually dredged in a breading mix (lightly, preferably), deep-fried and served on a bun with a lettuce leaf and sliced tomato – tartar sauce, chips and a dill pickle on the side. What could be better? For the home version, I’ve called for pan-frying the fish (less messy, less greasy) and making a quick, delicious homemade tartar sauce.

Serves 4


¾ cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons drained sweet pickle relish

1 tablespoon finely chopped or grated sweet onion, such as Vidalia

2 teaspoons chopped capers

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1¼ pounds haddock not more than ½-inch thick

½ cup flour

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon paprika

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 sandwich buns, split

Greenleaf lettuce leaves

Sliced tomato

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, pickle relish, onion and capers. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to blend flavors. (Sauce will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week.)

Cut fish into pieces a bit larger than the buns. On a plate, combine the flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Dredge haddock in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess.

Divide the oil between two medium-large skillets over medium-high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add fish to the pans and cook, turning once, until golden brown and crisp on both sides and just cooked within, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Spread buns with tartar sauce, layer on the fish, lettuce and sliced tomato, 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, 14 Nov 2017 18:09:30 +0000
‘Grains, Seeds and Legumes’ offers recipes for the way we eat today Wed, 08 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 “Grains, Seeds & Legumes: 150 Recipes for Every Appetite.” By Molly Brown, photography by Dierdre Rooney. Hardie Grant Books. $24.99.

The subtitle of “Grains, Seeds & Legumes,” a new cookbook that crossed my desk recently, promises “150 Recipes for Every Appetite.” I can only speak for my own appetite, but as far as that goes, author Molly Brown is dead on; she could just as well have subtitled her book: “150 Recipes for Peggy Grodinsky.” (I dunno, Hardie Grant Books, maybe that wouldn’t sell?)

I like so many things about this cookbook – and more on those in a moment – but what I like most of all are the recipes, which manage to be contemporary, classic and on trend all at once. The recipes are healthful, but not militant. They ask you to take cooking seriously – to devote some time and attention to it – but they don’t demand that cooking take over your life. Every page offers the sort of food I want to cook and eat.

Furthermore, the recipes are clearly written and are supported by an uncluttered, well-organized design that makes it both an easy and an aesthetically pleasurable cookbook to use; the beautiful photographs don’t hurt. A handsome photographic glossary of grains, seeds and legumes conveys useful information, and several step-by-step hand-drawn renderings tell you such things as how to make a no-knead quinoa loaf or DIY seed milk. If the funny little doodles throughout “Grains, Seeds & Legumes” of funny little men planting, watering and hoeing said grains, seeds and legumes don’t make you laugh, they’ll have you wondering how, exactly, they wandered onto these otherwise very clean pages.

As I cooked, I found myself in conversation with Brown. I made her Warm Barley with Roast Pumpkin and Feta, and liked it very much. Nonetheless, next time, I told an imaginary Ms. Brown in my kitchen, I’ll substitute pomegranate molasses for the white balsamic vinegar that’s called for, and I’ll sprinkle pomegranate seeds throughout. The Tuscan Beans were also delicious, and I felt sure Brown wouldn’t mind that I threw in some corn stock – because I had it around and the beans seemed to be getting a tad dry – and that I grated curls of Parmesan cheese over top when I served the beans.

I’m sorry to say I have one major bone of contention with “Grains, Seeds & Legumes,” and two quibbles.

It is standard in modern cookbooks to list the ingredients in the order they are called for in the recipe instructions. This is done to make a cook’s life easier. Brown instead chose to list ingredients by where you’d shop: From the Grocer, From the Butcher, From the Greengrocer. Possibly this is an attempt to emphasize where food comes from, a concern that tops the food world agenda today. But it forces the cook to constantly scan the ingredients list to find the amounts she needs. Inexperienced writers like to come up with all sorts of words for the perfectly serviceable “said.” They try out such verbs as “mused,” “quipped” and “yakked,” which are often distracting rather than interesting. That’s what the peculiar and irksome ingredients order here brings to mind.

As for my quibbles, “Grains, Seeds & Legumes” is an Australian book that is being sold in the American market. The geographic gap brings some inevitable confusion, for instance, what is malthouse flour? Where can I get it? What can I substitute for it? Or why the heck would I poach smoked fish before adding it to a (Leek & Smoked Haddock) risotto? Is that an Aussie thing? Also, when Brown calls for cumin, does she mean seeds or ground? And with bulgur, should I reach for fine, medium or coarse? And can she possibly mean 25 grams (1 ounce) active dried yeast for the Buckwheat Blini with Yogurt and Smoked Salmon? That would be about four envelops of yeast, which seems so much more than necessary, I was scared to give the recipe a try. Given such puzzles, the book is probably better-suited to confident cooks.

Finally, on Page 234, in the recipe for Blackberry, Apple & Maple Brown Betty, Brown blithely tells her readers this: “If you don’t like the flavour of maple syrup, leave it out …” Don’t like the flavor of maple syrup??!! To a New Englander, that’s just crazy talk, Ms. Brown.


I adored this dish – its contrasts of warm and cold, sweet and savory, spice and mellow grain, were spot on. That said, I reduced the cayenne from a whopping 2 teaspoons (did cookbook writer Molly Brown really mean that??) to a much gentler 1/4 teaspoon. And I’d caution cooks to start with 2 cloves garlic and taste as they go. I used ground cumin and medium-grain bulgur; the latter took longer than 15 minutes to cook and required additional stock.


125 g (41/2 ounces, 2/3 cup) brown lentils

60 ml (2 fl oz, 1/4 cup) olive oil

11/2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper (see recipe headnote)

200 g (7 oz) burghul (bulgur wheat) (see recipe headnote)

375 ml (121/2 fl oz, 11/2 cups) chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 pitted dates, chopped

350 g (121/2 oz) Greek-style yoghurt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

25 g (1 oz, 1/4 cup) flaked almonds, toasted

1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds, for sprinkling


1 onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves (see recipe headnote)

1 Lebanese (short) cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes

2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint

Juice of 1/2 lemon

15 g (1/2 oz, 1/4 cup) chopped coriander (cilantro)

Put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook until soft but not falling apart, about 20-35 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, sauté the onion in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until soft but not coloured. Add 2 of the garlic cloves (finely chopped), the cumin and cayenne pepper and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the burghul, stock, seasoning and dates. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer, cover and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the burghul is cooked, about 15 minutes.

Make the tzatziki by combining the yoghurt with the remaining garlic (crushed), the remaining olive oil, the cucumber and mint. Stir gently to avoid squashing the cucumber.

Drain the lentils, season with salt and pepper and stir in the extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Carefully fork the lentils through the burghul, along with the coriander and almonds. Check for seasoning. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve with the tzatziki.

]]> 0, 07 Nov 2017 17:26:19 +0000
Healthy eggplant and spinach Parmesan: Freeze it now, eat it later Wed, 08 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Make-ahead meals and cooking for the freezer, once relegated to suburban supermoms who had it more together than the rest of us, are now trendy with the healthy-eating crowd.

Sure, we call it “meal prep” but it’s pretty much the same thing: Make good food in advance, so we can eat it sometime in the future. In the past, this was primarily to save meal-planning stress, dishwashing time and money. Now, we are recognizing another implicit benefit: We are more likely to make healthy food choices if something tasty and nutritious is already prepared.

My Eggplant and Spinach Parmesan, healthy and veggie-filled, is quite easy to pull together,and freezes beautifully.

I focused on an eggplant dish simply because I felt the pasta would be missed less. The eggplant, usually breaded and fried, was simply seasoned and roasted, and no one in my family missed the extra breadcrumbs or oil. I added in baby spinach, which contributed nutrients but also a nice layered lasagna-like element to the dish.

Without actual pasta, though, I knew I needed to keep some serious cheese. Using part-skim ricotta as the main component worked well, and I boosted the flavor with just a little bit of nutty Parmesan, and a reasonable quantity of mozzarella for melty-stretchy goodness.

The recipe makes enough for eight, so a small family can freeze half for a second meal.


Servings: 8

2 medium eggplants, 11/2-2 pounds total

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

Olive oil from a mister (or nonstick spray)

1 (15-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese

1 egg white

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning

5 cups baby spinach

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese plus 1/4 cup additional for topping

4 cups prepared marinara sauce (no sugar added)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Slice eggplant into 1/4-inch slices. Place on a large baking sheet fitted with a baking rack. Sprinkle slices with half the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and spray lightly with an olive oil mister. Bake for 10 minutes, and then flip over the slices. Season the second side with the remaining garlic, another 1/4 teaspoon of salt and spray with olive oil. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until slices are tender, but not falling apart, and then allow to cool enough to handle. Lower the oven temperature to 350 F.

Meanwhile, mix together in a small bowl the ricotta, egg white, Parmesan cheese, Italian herb seasoning, black pepper and remaining salt. Spray the inside of a medium-sized baking or casserole dish. Place 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce at the bottom of the pan.

Layer in order: half the eggplant, half the ricotta cheese, half the spinach, half the 1 cup of mozzarella, half the (remaining) sauce. Repeat the layers, ending with sauce. Top with remaining 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese.

Cover with oven safe lid or with foil (spray lightly with oil to avoid sticking), and bake until hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes, removing cover halfway through the baking time. Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving.

CHEF’S TIP: The dish will firm up as it cools, if you are trying to cut neater squares.

]]> 0, 07 Nov 2017 16:33:10 +0000
Sweet potato and mushroom soup is a winner Wed, 08 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 What’s for dinner? It is the eternal question and, nationwide, the “I’m out of ideas” face can be spotted on folks wandering the grocery store in search of inspiration.

While even chefs sometimes get “dinner block,” there is an advantage to having a library of tricks and techniques at your disposal. And as the weather grows cold and the days grow short, top chefs look to their most coveted culinary secret: soup.

You can make soup out of anything. Which, OK, is not exactly a secret, but sometimes we need a reminder that soup is the ultimate winner in the most important categories. Quick and easy? Check! Perfect make-ahead item? Check. Slow-cooker friendly? Double check! Delicious and satisfying on its own, or paired with sandwiches or salad? Check, check, check.

But just because soup is easy, it doesn’t mean you necessarily know what kind of soup you want to make, so the students at The Culinary Institute of America are here to nudge you in the right direction. We challenged Chef Martin Matysik’s Advanced Cooking class to develop a user-friendly soup that will help jumpstart your weekly meal planning. And boy, did they deliver.

The competition was tight, but this recipe for Autumn Sweet Potato and Mushroom Soup stood out. It is creamy (more on that in a minute) with rich, meaty flavors of sweet potato and portobello mushroom. The aromatic rosemary, bay leaves and celery come in for that parting hug as the soup warms you.

This recipe is almost vegetarian (omit the Worcestershire sauce, which is made with anchovies, or replace with a vegetarian version) and can be made dairy-free or vegan with a few slight changes. Substitute olive oil when it calls for butter, and replace the cream with your favorite unsweetened nondairy milk substitute. Or, to help replicate the richness that heavy cream offers, stir in soaked and puréed cashews.

Once you’ve made this soup, you have a base recipe that you can use all the way through winter. Instead of sweet potato, you can use any hearty vegetable, like butternut squash, parsnip or carrot. Use your favorite herbs, like sage or thyme, and your go-to flavoring ingredients like hot sauce, Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar.

A soup this hearty can be served as a main course, alongside a bright fall salad (think greens, apples and pecans) or an open-faced chicken salad sandwich on multigrain toast. It’s also a perfect next-day lunch or starter course at a dinner party. After all, now that you know our secret, you really should share it with friends.


Servings: 4

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt, as needed

Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

1 cup diced yellow onion

1/2 cup diced shallot

4 cloves garlic, diced

2 portobello mushroom caps, roughly chopped

1 cup heavy cream

2 sprigs rosemary, minced

2 dried bay leaves

2 cups vegetable stock

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup celery leaves, for garnish

2 ounces Camembert cheese, cubed, for garnish

8 sweet potato chips, as needed for garnish

1/4 cup creme fraiche, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt, and toss to combine. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, shallot, garlic and mushroom and cook until the vegetables are softened and the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.

Add the reserved potatoes, cream, rosemary and bay leaves. Cover and simmer to blend ingredients, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves and carefully transfer the sweet potato mixture to a blender. Blend until smooth.

Return the mixture to the soup pot and add the vegetable stock. Simmer over medium heat, uncovered, until the mixture has reduced slightly and is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, as needed, and serve with Worcestershire sauce, celery leaves, Camembert, sweet potato chips and creme fraiche, if using.

]]> 0, 07 Nov 2017 16:37:20 +0000
Try pumpkin puree instead of fruit for a breakfast bowl Wed, 01 Nov 2017 08:00:00 +0000 All four of my daughters love frozen acai bowls because they feel like you’re eating ice cream for breakfast, except healthier. If you haven’t hopped on the acai bowl craze, allow me to update you.

Superfood acai berry puree is blended with fruit – usually berries or banana – and then served thick, creamy and semi-frozen, topped with granola, fruit, nuts or other goodies.

You can buy gorgeous berry-topped bowls at juice bars across the country, or make your own by blending up the base, pouring it into individual bowls and freezing. Once frozen solid, they’ll last for weeks.

But, you’ll need to let it soften a little to achieve the desired consistency, which means this is a great make-ahead breakfast. Stock up the freezer with frozen bowls, and pull them out as needed to thaw a few minutes on the counter, adding toppings, and eat.

But frozen breakfast bowls are also fantastic as a to-go snack in a lunchbox: An ice pack slows down the thawing enough to have the bowl at the perfect texture about two hours later. And don’t worry if you miss the mark: Even if it completely thaws, the bowl stays tasty, even if more smoothie-bowl-esque than ice-creamy.

Today, I’m winterizing this summertime treat by swapping out the acai and bringing in the beloved flavors of the season in my Pumpkin and Spice Breakfast Bowl. Pumpkin puree is not only perfectly seasonal, but it boasts a ton of vitamin A (more than a day’s worth in one serving), and a smattering of other vitamins, minerals and fiber.

And it’s naturally sweet, so not a lot of extra sugar is needed to make this breakfast feel like more of an indulgence than it actually is.


Servings: 4


1 large ripe banana, sliced

1-1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree

1 cup reduced fat vanilla Greek yogurt (nonfat yogurt not recommended)

3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice)

Pinch of salt


2 small apples, thinly sliced

1/4 cup pecan halves or pieces

1/4 cup raw oats

4 teaspoons maple syrup

Place all the ingredients for the base into a blender and blend until creamy and smooth, about one minute. (Tip: Blend on low. You may need to start and stop blender, breaking up the ingredients using a wooden spoon when not blending.) Divide the blended mixture among four individual freezer-safe bowls or to-go containers. Top and eat as is for a smoothie bowl. Or, freeze for at least 30 minutes, or up to a month (covered). Just before serving, top with apples, pecans, oats and the maple syrup drizzled on top.

Breakfast bowl can then be eaten frozen like ice cream: Allow a frozen solid bowl to soften a little before – at room temperature, this will take approximately 20 minutes.

In a lunchbox with an ice pack, the ideal frozen eating time is 1 to 2 hours after removing from the freezer. If the bowls “overthaw,” simply enjoy them as smoothie bowls.

]]>, 31 Oct 2017 18:12:25 +0000
Cookbook review: ‘K is for Korean’ makes the cuisine accessible and fast Wed, 01 Nov 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “K is for Korean.” By Rukmini Iyer, Quadrille, $19.99

For a crash course in Korean basics, look no further than “K is for Korean,” part of a new series from Quadrille called Alphabet Cooking. Other titles so far include “M is for Mexican” and “S is for Sri Lankan.”

The small, slim book has neon pink accents and bright, full-page photographs. The approach is stripped-down – no long exposition on culture or technique, just straightforward ingredients and instructions. There are Korean classics, like bulgogi – marinated beef – and bibimbap – a rice bowl with stir-fried vegetables and meat. And there are head-turning concoctions like budae-jjigae, a stew made with Spam, hot dogs, baked beans and instant ramen – as well as kimchi and Korean spices – devised in the aftermath of the Korean War to make use of surplus food from U.S. military bases.

The 50 recipes encompass small plates, condiments, sides and salads, broths and stews, big dishes, rice, noodles and desserts.

Very few of the recipes include more than three or four steps and many won’t take more than an hour to prepare and cook, but almost all require some specialized ingredients many home cooks likely don’t have on their shelves. Of critical importance are gochujang, a spicy red pepper paste; gochugaru, ground red pepper flakes; and kimchi.

One downside to Korean cooking (for non-Koreans) is that these three staple condiments have no good substitutes. Gochujang is a thick, dark red paste that imparts a unique funky-spicy depth to dishes. Gochugaru has a sharper, smokier spice that standard red pepper flakes can’t replicate. Kimchi, a fermented mix of vegetables – like cabbage, radishes and scallions – with spices is a ubiquitous feature of Korean cooking, an ingredient of many dishes and served as a condiment, too. Ultimately, if you don’t have these three ingredients in your pantry, you won’t get far in “K is for Korean.”

Luckily, sourcing these three staples is relatively easy. They should be available at Asian markets like Hong Kong or Veranda in Portland or Tran’s Market in Biddeford, and can be found at larger supermarkets, too. Spices and kimchi have long shelf lives, so you don’t have to go head-over-heels into Korean cooking before they go bad.

Once you procure the staples, preparing most of the recipes in “K is for Korean” is fairly simple.

Kimchi jjigae (tofu stew) is a perfect example. It was a recent wet, cool evening and I was sick when I tried this recipe. While it didn’t heal me all the way, the brew of spice, funk and sweet definitely lifted my spirits, and the simplicity of preparation was easy on a mind and body wracked with walking influenza. The directions went like this: chop vegetables, sauté in oil, add spices and liquid, cook, serve. Even better, almost everything I needed was already in my kitchen. It was just a quick trip to my local Asian mart to pick up tofu, shiitake mushrooms and a large container of gochugaru.

I took a couple of liberties with the recipe, adding a chicken bullion cube to the stew and halving the liquid to concentrate the flavors. The result was exactly what I needed, tons of flavor, plenty of heat and the kind of comfort only a hot bowl of soup can bring. It piqued my interest in what else “K is for Korean,” has to offer, and I’ll certainly return to find out when I want to try something fast and easy.

Peter McGuire can be reached at 791-6325 or at:

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

KIMCHI JJIGAE (tofu stew)

Serves 4

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

9 ounces kimchi, roughly chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1-inch piece ginger, minced

1 teaspoon gochugaru

1 teaspoon gochujang

4-1/2 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, halved

2 teaspoons sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces firm tofu

1 spring onion, finely sliced, to serve

Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan, add the kimchi, onion, garlic and ginger, and stir-fry for 5 minutes.

Stir through the gochugaru and gochujang, then add the mushrooms, 8 cups water, sea salt and a good grind of black pepper.

Bring to boil, then lower the heat and simmer, for 25 minutes.

Slice the tofu in 1/2-inch slices. After the mixture has cooked for 20 minutes, taste it and adjust the level of salt if needed. Place the tofu on top of it, spoon some sauce over it, and cook gently for a further 5 minutes.

Top with the spring onion and serve immediately.

]]> 0, 31 Oct 2017 18:09:33 +0000
Tray delicious: Roasted vegetable hash sneaks in just a bit of bacon Wed, 01 Nov 2017 08:00:00 +0000 A chill is finally in the air, which transforms what goes on our table.

Winter squash, hardy greens like kale and chard, cabbage, cauliflower and sweet potatoes are filling the markets and my recipe-testing table. The colder weather has me craving filling side dishes to go alongside juicy roasts and festive winter meals.

Baking sheets covered in cubed veggies offer a nutritious and weeknight-friendly solution. Cut almost any firm veggie into cubes, toss in a little olive oil and seasoning, and roast on high heat until the inside is tender and the edges are golden and caramelized. Time varies by vegetable, but most are done in the 20-30 minute range. Serve your roasted veggies with sliced beef or pork roast, or serve simply with some steamed quinoa.

Today’s Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts Hash is filling enough to step in for less healthy options at your holiday table, but broad enough in its appeal to be eaten year-round (OK, so maybe not at your 4th of July barbecue).

Brussels sprouts and their ever-popular companion bacon are teamed up with sweet potato to make a tasty oven-roasted hash that requires just minutes of prep time to cube the veggies, all of which can be done a day in advance.

Fans of sweet potatoes love that they have a lower glycemic index than their white counterparts, while fans of bacon love that I’m not such a stickler for healthy that we can’t indulge a little here. It only takes two thick slices of bacon, boosted by a little smoked paprika and smoked turmeric (a worthy splurge if you can find it), to impart a lovely salty-smokiness on the whole dish.

Garlic cloves roast up into mellow creamy pods of flavor while tart apple cubes add a welcomed touch of acidity. The hash is meant to be a plug-and-play recipe – swap out ingredients as you wish – but this combination is exactly right, so you may find yourself making this version over and over.


Yield: 6 servings

3/4 pound medium-sized Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved, about 2 cups

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes, about 11/2 cups

1 medium Granny Smith (or other tart) apple, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes, about 1 cup

1/2 cup whole garlic cloves, peeled

2 thick-cut slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon smoked turmeric (optional)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Chopped fresh chives and rosemary for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the chives and rosemary, and stir until vegetables are coated evenly with olive oil and spices.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the mixture out into a single layer. Bake until sweet potato, Brussels sprouts and garlic are tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through cook time. Sprinkle with fresh herbs if desired and serve.

]]> 0, 31 Oct 2017 18:11:20 +0000
The Maine Ingredient: A loaf of bread, a dish of mussels and a group of friends add up to happiness Wed, 01 Nov 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Fall is the perfect time to invite friends over to gather around a big pot of steamed mussels for a beautifully messy feast. Wine and cream add a touch of elegance, and a kale salad is the ideal accompaniment. Be sure to serve plenty of crusty artisanal bread to sop up every last drop of sauce, and complete the meal with an apple or pear tart topped with scoops of vanilla ice cream.


Farmed mussels, which are commonplace, will be free of those pesky black wiry beards and require very little, if any, scrubbing.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons butter

2 slender leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved and thinly sliced

1 small fennel bulb, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 pounds (about 4 dozen) mussels, scrubbed and debearded if necessary

1 cup white wine

1 cup bottled clam juice

2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons Pernod or other anise-flavored liqueur, optional

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leeks and fennel to the pan and sauté until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and reserve.

In a large pot, combine mussels, wine, clam juice and ¾ cup water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until shells open, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mussels to a bowl, discarding any that do not open. Pour broth into a large measuring cup and let liquid settle for 5 minutes.

Slowly pour mussel liquid into pot with leeks, leaving any grit behind in the bottom of the measuring cup. Add cream, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer uncovered until liquid is reduced by about one-third, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in optional Pernod and season with salt and pepper. Add mussels to cream mixture and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes to reheat.

Divide mussels among 4 shallow soup dishes, ladle broth over and serve.



Use the tender baby kale that is now being sold with the other packaged lettuces or buy a bunch of mature kale and cut it into fine slivers. Chances are, only the cook will know the secret ingredient in the dressing – mashed anchovies – but they give the dressing exactly enough salty intensity to stand up to the assertive greens.

4 to 6 servings

3 ounces (about ½ cup) hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

3 anchovy fillets

1 small shallot, finely chopped

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 cups (about 5 ounces) baby kale, torn into bite-size pieces, or thinly sliced kale leaves

1 cup dried currants

½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Toast nuts in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring now and then, until one shade darker, about 5 minutes.

Chop anchovies and then mash to a paste with the side of a chef’s knife. Combine in a small bowl or covered container with shallot, lemon juice, oil, honey, salt and pepper, whisking to blend. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Combine kale and currants in a salad bowl. Drizzle with enough dressing to moisten and toss gently. Add cheese and toss again. Sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts before serving.

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, 31 Oct 2017 18:10:39 +0000
‘True’ cinnamon is pricey – but is it truly different? Wed, 25 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Eating tree bark is often the punchline of some bad joke about a healthful diet. But we do it – collectively, to the tune of tens of millions of pounds a year. Odds are, you have some right in your pantry.

It is cinnamon, of course – the best thing to come from tree bark since aspirin, and the best-selling component of the pumpkin-spice axis of fall flavors, dwarfing nutmeg and cloves by at least a factor of 10.

There are several species of trees with the cinnamon-yielding bark, but they’re all from the genus Cinnamonum. If you start looking into cinnamon’s provenance, you’ll find a school of thought that insists there is only one kind of “true” cinnamon – from the bark of C. verum, which is native to Sri Lanka. To hear that school of thought tell it, that cinnamon has a more sophisticated, subtle flavor than other kinds.

Should you encounter someone from that school, you could reasonably say, “I bet you couldn’t pick it out of a lineup.” It’s a pretty safe bet. We did a blind tasting, and none of us could. The reality is that we are a planet endowed with many tree species that have fragrant, cinnamony bark, and that’s a good reason to find joy in the world.

You can often figure out which species of cinnamon you have by the name on the label. If it’s Ceylon cinnamon, it’s the “true” stuff, Ceylon being the British colonial name for the nation known since 1972 as Sri Lanka.

Pretty much everything else is cassia cinnamon, sometimes (particularly in Europe) labeled simply as “cassia.” Chinese cinnamon is from the tree species bearing that name, but Indonesian (or Korintje) and Vietnamese (or Saigon) come from closely related species. When there’s no mention of its origin on the label, it’s probably cassia. Although there are differences among the various kinds, they’re small enough that you probably won’t notice them in whatever you’re cooking.

No matter the provenance, your cinnamon’s flavor is derived from a group of essential oils. And, where essential oils go, health claims will not be far behind. Depending on whom you ask, you might find that cinnamon can help fight acne, colitis or bad breath. Its antimicrobial qualities might make it a good wash for carrots or contact lenses. It might even make you learn faster, at least if you’re a mouse. On the animal front, it has been studied for its ability to reduce methane produced by cattle (it can’t) or help control salmonella in chickens (it might).

One of its best-studied properties is the ability to help diabetics with blood sugar control. According to Rebecca Costello, a scientific consultant formerly with the Office of Dietary Supplements (part of the National Institutes of Health) and co-author of a recent review of the evidence, there is a compound in the spice that appears to act like insulin, shuttling blood sugar out of the bloodstream and into cells.

Although some studies have shown that cinnamon does seem to lower blood sugar, “the weight of the evidence regarding the efficacy for cinnamon for lowering blood glucose remains equivocal,” Costello wrote in an email. “It would be premature,” she said, to conclude that cinnamon can help control diabetes.

But how about all those other things – the acne, the colitis, the bad breath? “Traditional use of cinnamon purports to treat many conditions and disorders for which there is insufficient evidence to support its use,” Costello said.

It is clear, though, that compounds in cinnamon can affect us. And not always in a good way. The spice contains a compound called coumarin, which can cause liver damage. In the normal course of events, you are unlikely to eat so much cinnamon that this becomes an issue, but it’s a serious enough concern that Denmark considered limiting the amount bakers could use in an iconic Danish cinnamon-swirl pastry called kanelsnegle. (The bakers wheedled their way out on a technicality.)

Which brings us back to the distinction between “true” cinnamon and other cinnamons. Turns out, the “true” version is relatively low in coumarin. If you eat a truly epic amount of cinnamon and you are concerned about liver damage, you might want to take that into account.

The rest of us are left to choose our cinnamon by taste and price. And if you expect the expensive stuff to taste better than the cheap stuff, you are going to be disappointed. In our Washington Post food tasting, both the dollar-store cinnamon and the fancy-pants cinnamon had their share of fans and detractors. The overall favorite, though not by much, was a supermarket standard.

What our survey established, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that cinnamon cannot be the stuff that food snobbery is made of. And that’s a good thing. Break out the butter and sugar, and let it be the stuff that kanelsnegle is made of.


Once we decided to do a cinnamon tasting, an important question left us scratching our heads: How?

Tasting it straight up does not work all that well. (No cinnamon challenge for us.) It is gritty and strong, and the nuances are hard to detect. But when you taste it in a way that reflects how real, live cinnamon consumers enjoy it – say, cinnamon toast – the nuances are also hard to detect, with things such as bread and butter mucking up your palate’s works.

One of us had the idea of suspending the samples in simple syrup (equal parts cooked water and sugar). Cooking the cinnamon briefly in the syrup brought out flavors and differences in aromas we could not detect in the plain old powders.

But, of course, when you use cinnamon at home, it’s not always cooked or in baked goods, and it is most likely not suspended in syrup, so we added a round of cinnamon toast, as well. Six Washington Post food staffers and I smelled each sample, tasted both the syrups and the toasts, and rated preferences for each on a 1-to-5 scale.

The results for seven brands were all over the map. Once we tallied up the rankings, the averages were in a fairly small range: All our samples were perfectly respectable, and they all racked up some good scores and some bad.

Nothing about the samples predicted what tasters thought of them. A couple of the cheaper samples did very well, while one of the most expensive was at the bottom. Of the top two, one was a supermarket brand (McCormick), and the other was a spice purveyor brand (Penzeys). The two Ceylon samples – known in some quarters as “true” cinnamon – didn’t stand out as either better or worse; one was second from the top, the other was dead last. They did, however, stand out as the most expensive; they were both more than twice the price of the most expensive cassia sample (Simply Organic, at $32.59 per pound). It’s worth noting that, although none of our tasters could identify the Ceylon samples, a couple of us did describe them in similar terms. (I thought both of them had a clovelike flavor.)

What was most notable, though, was that most tasters remarked on how different the simple syrup samples tasted, but how similar the cinnamon toasts were.

Yes, there are differences in cinnamon, and it is worth buying a few brands to see which one you prefer. But once you bake it in a cookie, stew it in a tagine or sprinkle it on toast, you will be unlikely to notice the difference.


McCormick’s rating was 3.3 out of 5 and costs $23.80 per pound.

Penzeys Ceylon Cinnamon earned a 3.1 out of 5 and costs $79.50 per pound.

Badia’s rating was 3.0 out of 5 and costs $15.92 per pound.

Simply Organic’s rating was 2.8 out of 5 and costs $32.59 per pound.

Spice Supreme cinnamon earned a 2.6 out of 5 and costs $4.92 per pound.

365 Korintje’s rating was 2.4 out of 5 and costs $23.80 per pound.

Simply Organic Ceylon’s rating was 2.3 out of 5 and costs $69.15 per pound.


Cinnamon rings loud and clear in this moist, easy-to-assemble cake.

Makes 16 to 20 servings


3 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup pure pumpkin puree

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups peeled, coarsely chopped apples

1 cup chopped pecans


1 cup sugar

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/4 cup buttermilk, whole milk or low-fat milk

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

FOR THE CAKE: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking oil spray to grease a 9-by-13-inch pan, preferably with tall sides.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, baking soda and the salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture.

Whisk the eggs in a large liquid measuring cup until lightly beaten, then add the oil, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract, stirring to incorporate. Pour into the flour mixture’s well and stir until there is no trace of dry ingredients left.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon over the apples, then stir them and the pecans into the cake batter. Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake (middle rack) for about 40 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack.

FOR THE GLAZE: Combine the sugar, butter and buttermilk or milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, then cook for 1 minute, to form a thickened glaze. Whisk in the cinnamon until well incorporated. Remove from the heat.

Let the glaze cool for a minute or so, then drizzle it over the still-warm cake (in its pan). Wait until the glaze has cooled and set before serving.

]]> 0, 24 Oct 2017 16:20:32 +0000
‘Better-than-Takeout’ offers an easy introduction to Thai cooking Wed, 25 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “The Better-than-Takeout Thai Cookbook: Favorite Thai Food Recipes Made at Home.” By Danette St. Onge. Rockridge Press. $17.99

I could probably get my husband to do just about anything if the reward is pad Thai.

The classic Thai noodle dish, topped with crispy golden triangles of tofu, is his hands-down favorite. His love affair with the takeout staple goes back to his first visit to our hometown Thai restaurant when we were in high school. Unfamiliar with most items on the menu, he opted for the one dish he could name because it was on the license plate of the restaurant owner, who happened to frequent the driving range where Adam worked at the time.

It was love at first bite.

Some 20 years later, pad Thai with tofu is his standby on the rare occasions we get takeout. It’s his birthday dinner every single year. Whenever we’re looking over the menu of our favorite Thai restaurant (currently Jojo’s Thai Kitchen in Scarborough. Oh man, that crispy duck pad Thai…), he’ll comment how good everything sounds. He promises that next time will be the time he tries something new. But in the end he always goes for the pad Thai. “It’s just hard,” Adam will say, “because pad Thai is my favorite and I can’t say no.”

So when I saw “The Better-than-Takeout Thai Cookbook: Favorite Thai Food Recipes Made at Home” on the shelf next to our food editor’s desk, I greedily scooped it up and claimed it as mine. It is written by Danette St. Onge, a food and travel writer who specializes in international cuisines. A native Californian born to a Thai mother and American father, she spent some of her childhood in Bangkok before her family returned to the United States to open a Thai restaurant.

The book provides an easy-to-follow guide to understanding the basic flavors of Thai dishes. The first chapter, The Thai Kitchen, walks the reader through common ingredients, pantry staples and tools used in Thai cuisine. The 100 recipes in the book range from snacks and appetizers to soups, curries and desserts.

Within an hour of picking up the book, I had at least a dozen recipes marked to try. I’m looking forward to using St. Onge’s recipes to make my own satay sauce and crispy tofu. I know at some point I’ll try the recipe for pad Thai, but knowing Adam’s birthday dinner was right around the corner, I opted first for scallops stir-fried in a spicy red curry sauce with sweet Thai basil. Easy to pull together and surprisingly flavorful, it made for a quick but decadent weeknight dinner.


This recipe is gluten-free, soy-free and nut-free.

Serves 3 to 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons red curry paste (homemade or store-bought)

1/4 cup water or chicken stock

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon palm sugar, light brown sugar or granulated sugar

2 stems young green peppercorns, fresh or brined (optional but recommended)

1 pound fresh or frozen scallops

1/2 cup fresh Thai sweet basil or Italian sweet basil leaves

Jasmine rice for serving

1. In a large wok or skillet over medium heat, heat the oil.

2. Add the curry paste and cook until slightly thickened, darkened and fragrant, about 2 minutes.

3. Stir in the water, fish sauce and sugar, and stir until the sugar dissolves.

4. Add the peppercorns (if using), turn the heat to medium low and simmer gently for 2 minutes.

5. Add the scallops and simmer in the curry sauce just until opaque, 5 to 8 minutes, depending on their size.

6. Turn off the heat, stir in the basil leaves until just wilted and serve with jasmine rice.

Serving suggestion: Garnish with fresh or fried basil leaves and julienned fresh kaffir lime leaf just before serving. You can also use crisp-fried pieces of fish in place of the scallops, or bite-sized pieces of beef, pork, chicken or tofu.

]]> 0 Elephant’s version of pad Thai.Tue, 24 Oct 2017 17:04:04 +0000
Documentary on Israeli cuisine to be screened in Portland Nov. 5 Wed, 25 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 A new documentary on the complex, diverse and ancient cookery screens Nov. 5 at the Jewish Community Alliance, followed by a reception and tastings.

“Food is not political. It is what is grown on this land by the people who are living in it – if they are called Palestinians or Israelis, I don’t think the tomato care.”

So an Israeli chef tells narrator and chef Michael Solomonov in the new documentary “In Search of Israeli Cuisine.” The film follows Solomonov, a James Beard Award winner and chef/co-owner of the celebrated Zahav restaurant in Philadelphia, as he travels around Israel talking with chefs and home cooks, cheesemakers and vintners, food writers and farmers about the definition of Israeli cuisine. There’s no single answer – it’s complex, ancient and diverse.

In recent years, the food of Israel has become widely popular, spurred in no small part by cookbooks like those of Yottam Ottolenghi as well as Solomonov’s own “Zahav: A World of Israeli Cuisine.” In Portland, restaurants like Tiqa and Baharat testify to the newfound interest in and respect for Israeli cuisine. At the same time, the tradition of Jewish deli food in the United States has escaped the confines of Jewish eaters and spread to the culture at large.

On Nov. 5, the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine and the Maine Jewish Film Festival will be screening “In Search of Israeli Cuisine” in Portland, followed by a reception with Israeli foods prepared by Portland-area chefs. — PEGGY GRODINSKY


Recipe from “Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking” by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook.

Makes 4 cups

5 cups plus

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

8 medium beets

1/2 cup Basic Tehina Sauce

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, plus more for topping

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus more for topping

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spread 1 cup of the salt in an ovenproof skillet or baking dish. Put the beets on the salt and cover with the remaining 4 cups salt. Bake until the beets are tender, about 90 minutes.

When they are cool enough to handle, remove the beets from the salt and peel. Set them aside to cool completely.

Grate the beets into a mixing bowl using the coarse holes of a box grater. Add the tehina sauce, oil, lemon juice, dill and mint and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix well to blend. Top with more chopped dill and mint and serve at room temperature or cold.


Recipe from “Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking” by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook. You’ll need just a little of this sauce to make the beets recipe. Solomonov also combines the sauce with green herbs to make a dip for crudite; he uses it to make a harissa-spiked sauce for fried potatoes; he serves it with fried eggplant and pomegranate seeds; and much more.

Makes about 4 cups

1 head garlic

3/4 cup lemon juice (from 3 lemons)

11/2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 generous cups tehina

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

A vendor in Levinsky market with narrator and chef Michael Solomonov in the new documentary “In Search of Israeli Cuisine.” Courtesy of Florentine Films/Sherman Productions

Break up the head of garlic with your hands, letting the unpeeled cloves fall into a blender. Add the lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Blend on high for a few seconds until you have a coarse puree. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes to let the garlic mellow.

Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large mixing bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Add the tehina to the strained lemon juice in the bowl, along with the cumin and 1 teaspoon of the salt.

Whisk the mixture together until smooth (or use a food processor), adding ice water, a few tablespoons at a time to thin it out. The sauce will lighten in color as you whisk. When the tehina seizes up or tightens, keep adding ice water bit by bit (about 11/2 cups total), whisking energetically until you have a perfectly smooth, creamy, thick sauce.

Taste and add up to 11/2 teaspoons more salt and cumin, if you like. If you’re not using the sauce immediately, whisk in a few tablespoons ice water to loosen it before refrigerating. The tehina sauce will keep a week refrigerated, or it can be frozen for up to a month.

]]> 0 Seltzer, a goat farmer and master cheesemaker near Jerusalem, from "In Search of Israeli Cuisine."Tue, 24 Oct 2017 16:47:08 +0000
Cauliflower with sesame drizzle sizzles beside Asian entrees Wed, 25 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Food writers (and I include myself) are often talking about what new things you can do with that package of chicken breasts or that pound of ground beef to get out of the same-old, same-old cooking rut. But we might not spend enough time talking about what to do with that head of cauliflower or broccoli. We can all feel as uninspired looking at those stoic spheres as we do with our proteins, right?

So off we go, on the hunt for a new and simple side dish. This is definitely one to keep in mind when you’re making a stir fry or other Asian-influenced dish. It’s especially useful since you can make the drizzle ahead of time, pop the vegetable in the oven, and get to work at the stove making the rest of the meal. The cauliflower or broccoli needs no attention as it roasts, only the sound of the buzzer to remind you to take it out of the oven.


Serves 4

1 large (13/4 pound) head cauliflower (or substitute the same amount of broccoli heads)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons untoasted sesame seeds (optional)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the cauliflower into florets. Place the cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss well, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and browned at the edges.

Meanwhile, if you are using the sesame seeds, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds and stir frequently for about 1 or 2 minutes, until they start to become golden; don’t let them get too brown. Transfer them to a plate.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, honey and Sriracha sauce. When the cauliflower is roasted, transfer it to a serving platter and drizzle the sauce over it (or pass the sauce on the side for everyone to drizzle over their own portion). Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds, if desired, and serve hot or warm.

]]> 0, 27 Oct 2017 15:51:02 +0000
Bisque-like soup puts carrots at center stage Wed, 25 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Humble, bumpy, rough carrots. We peel and slice them into sticks and stuff them in lunchboxes, or put them out with a dip when company comes. We chop them and use them in soups and stews, but rarely do we let them star on their own.

This bisque-like soup changes that thinking. Pretty and lush, this creamy bowl of deliciousness gives carrots their due respect.

And it’s worth pausing to shake your head at how cheap carrots usually are; you can do a lot with a pound or two of carrots, and they won’t make much of a dent in your food budget. Carrots are also seriously nutritious – tons of vitamin A and antioxidants, and an assortment of other vitamins and minerals.

But once you start eating, you will not be thinking, “Boy, this sure is healthy!” Just surrender to the velvety texture and round flavor of the soup.

The addition of a small amount of white rice simply serves to thicken the soup once it’s pureed, which lets the carrots and other supporting vegetables hold the spotlight. And it’s always amazing to me how a small amount of cream added to a soup adds such voluptuousness and rounds out the flavor.


Serves 8

4 slices bacon

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped

1 red onion, chopped

2 shallots, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup uncooked white rice

6 cups less-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup heavy cream

To serve (optional):

Crumbled cooked bacon

Crumbled feta, goat cheese or blue cheese

Chopped fresh parsley

In a large pot or a Dutch oven, saute the bacon until it is crisp, over medium high heat. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, let cool and drain, and crumble the bacon. Set aside.

Pour off all the bacon fat from the pot, and then melt the butter over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, shallots and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, until the carrots have started to become tender.

Add the rice and the chicken broth, turn the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the vegetables are completely tender and the rice is very soft. Puree the soup in batches in a blender or a food processor, or use an immersion blender to puree it in the pot, until very smooth. Stir in the cream and heat through.

Serve the soup hot, topped with the bacon, a crumble of whatever cheese you like, and some parsley. Give it a final sprinkle of pepper if desired.

]]> 0, 24 Oct 2017 17:16:14 +0000
Fresh ginger tea good for what ails you Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 With the arrival of the cold-and-cough season, you may be thinking about cooking up a big batch of chicken soup as a cure for what ails us. I love the stuff, too, but I suggest you stock up on some fresh gingerroot instead. Ginger, of course, is one of the many flavors to be found in a stir-fry Asian dish or Indian curry. But used in larger quantities than specified for those recipes, it can become quite spicy. Of all the home remedies out there, I have found tea, prepared with fresh ginger, to be the most effective.

Ginger Tea is easy to make (and is much cheaper than chicken soup). Essentially, there’s nothing to do but chop up some fresh gingerroot, combine it with water and let it simmer. When you’re done, you’re looking at a potent, clean-out-your-sinuses beverage that’s ready to sip. I’ve provided a recipe below, but there’s no need to be so formal. You can wing it and you’ll be fine.

When making the tea, you might imagine that the first task would be to peel that gnarly gingerroot. In fact, it’s not necessary. Just rinse it well and slice off any bruised spots, then chop it and pile all the chunks into a small saucepan. The more finely it’s chopped, the better – but half-inch chunks are good enough. Cover the gingerroot with 1 inch of cold water, then bring the tea to a boil. (Starting with cold water pulls out more of the ginger flavor than starting with hot water.) The longer you simmer it, the stronger it becomes. So take a sip after 15 minutes or so and, if you approve, strain out the liquid. You can drink it straight up or embellished with honey and lemon – or even a pinch of cayenne.

If one potful of the tea doesn’t entirely vanquish your cold, you can return the chunks to the saucepan, add fresh water and repeat the process. A single crop of chopped ginger can keep a pot going all day.


Serves 4

4 ounces fresh gingerroot

11/2 tablespoons honey, divided, or to taste

4 lemon wedges

Rinse the ginger, cut off any bruised spots and cut it into (roughly) 1/2-inch pieces. In a medium saucepan, combine the ginger with 4 cups cold water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover partially and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste, and if strong enough, strain and pour into mugs. Add 1 teaspoon honey or more if desired to each portion and serve with a wedge of lemon.

]]> 0, 17 Oct 2017 17:18:52 +0000
The Maine Ingredient: Peasant soups from Portugal and Greece are easy to make Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Both of these simple soups, which can be on the table in less than half an hour, are a reminder of just how delicious peasant cooking can be. I’ve had both in Maine diners, but I really think the homemade versions are best. Add some chewy artisan bread and a tomato or mixed lettuce salad, and you’ve a scrumptious supper.


This soup is hearty, filling, inexpensive and utterly delicious. Sometimes kidney beans are included, but I love the simpler combination of starchy potatoes, pleasantly bitter kale, and the punch of garlicky sausage. You can peel the potatoes or leave the skins on.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ pound garlicky pork sausage, such as chourico, linguica or kielbasa, thinly sliced

1 large onion, chopped

4 cups chicken broth

1½ pounds all-purpose or Yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced

1 small bunch (about 1 pound) kale, thickest stems removed and discarded, leaves thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large saucepan or soup pot, heat the oil. Add sausage and onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sausage browns lightly and onion softens, about 5 minutes.

Add broth, potatoes, kale, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for about 25 minutes until the potatoes are very soft and the kale is tender. Use a large fork or whisk to break up some of the potatoes against the side of the pot to thicken the soup. Adjust liquid, adding more broth or water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Avgolemono means “egg and lemon” in Greek, and this soup, thickened with egg and seasoned with lemon, is tasty nourishment in a bowl. It’s often what I cook for any family member who is feeling peaked or in need of a quick, easy fix of comforting food. You can make it more substantial with shredded chicken.

Serves 8 as a first course, 4 as a main course

8 cups chicken broth

1 cup dried orzo or ½ cup raw long-grain rice

3 eggs

6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

In a large soup pot, combine broth and orzo or rice, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the starch is tender, about 10 minutes for orzo, 20 minutes for rice.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with the lemon juice until smooth. Whisk about a cup of hot liquid into the egg mixture, then slowly and gradually whisk the egg mixture into the gently simmering soup, stirring until the soup achieves a smooth, velvety, lightly thickened consistency, 2 to 3 minutes.

Season the soup with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with parsley before serving.

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 verde makes a hearty, filling and inexpensive meal.Tue, 17 Oct 2017 17:24:11 +0000
Skillet apple cranberry pie is delicious and comforting Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Just because nothing’s more American than apple pie – and few desserts more delicious – doesn’t mean that making one is easy. On the contrary, the standard recipes can be pretty involved. But this recipe is for a pie with only one crust, not two, and with everything cooked in the same skillet. There’s just one sheet of dough to roll out, and because there’s no crust on the bottom, you spend no time crimping it together with the crust on top. In short, Skillet Apple Cranberry Pie is the ideal recipe for someone unsure of his or her baking skills.

To start, you’re going to precook the apples. Apples tend to shrink as they bake, opening up a large gap between the apple filling and the upper crust. I’ve read recipes that suggest precooking the apples, then dumping off the liquid that’s generated while they cook. That makes no sense. The liquid is rich in apple flavor. You just need to remove the precooked apples from the pan, then simmer the liquid to cook off the excess water. What’s left is apple syrup. Add a little fresh cider to it and you’ve really intensified the apple-ness.

All the apples are piled into a 10-inch skillet. You may wonder if they’ll cook evenly, given how crowded together they are. The answer is yes. Just be sure to stir them frequently as they cook.

Once the filling is prepared and has cooled off, take the pre-rolled dough, place it over the apples, tuck in the edges and bake the pie. Because the apples have been precooked and the pie has a single crust, it bakes much more quickly than a more conventional apple pie. The cream and granulated sugar brushed on top make the crust sweet and crunchy.


Servings: 6

Pie dough (recipe follows) or 121/2 ounces store-bought pie dough

21/2 pounds mixed apples (your choice, but avoid apples that fall apart like McIntosh), peeled, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon table salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup fresh apple cider

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 heaping tablespoon granulated sugar

Vanilla ice cream for garnish

Roll out the crust on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch round, transfer to a round platter and chill, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator and let soften slightly at room temperature for 15 minutes.

While the dough is chilling, in a medium bowl toss together the apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, salt and cinnamon. In a 10-inch skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium and add the apple mixture and the cider. Cook, tightly covered, stirring frequently, until most of the apples are tender but still hold their shape, 12 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the apples with a slotted spoon to a rimmed sheet pan, leaving all the liquid in the skillet, and spread the apples out in one layer. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until it is reduced to a few tablespoons and is quite syrupy. Add the reduced syrup and the cranberries to the apples and stir well. Let the apples and the skillet cool.

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Put the bottom rack in the lower third of the oven.

When the apples have cooled, transfer them back to the skillet, smoothing the top. Carefully lift up the dough round that has softened on the counter and place it over the apples, letting the edges hang out over the rim of the skillet. Ease the dough down, pressing it in gently where the apples meet the skillet. Trim the crust with a pair of clean scissors so that it is flush with the top rim of the skillet and fold the edges of the dough back in on top of the remaining dough to form a rim. Re-roll the dough scraps, cut out several leaf shapes and place them in the center of the dough. Brush the crust evenly all over with the cream and sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake the pie on the lower rack of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving, garnish with the ice cream.


11/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (180 grams)

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon table salt

10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and the salt, add the butter and, working quickly with your fingertips or a pastry blender, mix the dough until most of mixture resembles coarse meal, with the rest in small (roughly pea-sized) lumps. Drizzle 2 tablespoons ice water evenly over the mixture and gently stir with a fork until incorporated. Gently squeeze a small handful, which should hold together without crumbling apart. If it doesn’t, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring two or three times after each addition until it comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. With the heel of your hand, smear the dough in a forward motion on the work surface to help distribute fat. Gather the smeared dough together and repeat the process. Form the dough into a disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour. Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before rolling it out.

]]> 0, 17 Oct 2017 17:31:18 +0000
‘Posh Rice’ offers recipes from all over the world Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “Posh Rice: Over 70 Recipes for All Things Rice.” By Emily Kydd. Quadrille. $19.99

In my kitchen, recipes are more like guidelines than rules.

I measure spices in pinches and accidental spills. I cook by taste rather than tablespoons. I pour what kind of looks like a cup of this into a bowl of that.

Rice, as it happens, has never been my specialty.

Cooking rice really requires loyalty to the directions. Too little water, I end up with dry and crunchy bits. Too much water, I might serve sticky and bloated grains. Looking for some guidance, I turned to “Posh Rice: Over 70 Recipes for All Things Rice” by Emily Kydd.

“Although it makes a great accompaniment to any meal, rice doesn’t always have to play a supporting role,” Kydd writes in the introduction. “It’s time to show that bag of rice in your cupboard some love and elevate it to star status.”

Kydd is a food stylist and recipe writer based in London, and her book is part of a series from U.K.-based Quadrille Publishing. (Be prepared for Britishisms in both spelling and ingredient names in the book.) There’s also “Posh Eggs” by Lucy O’Reilly and “Posh Toast” also by Kydd. “Posh Rice” could serve as a textbook for Cooking Rice 101. Kydd starts off with a no-frills guide (with pictures) to different types of rice. Some, like wild rice or basmati rice, are familiar to me. Others, like pudding rice or Camargue red rice, are less common in my pantry. But she spends little time opining and turns her attention quickly to the recipes.

As I flipped through the glossy pages and ogled at the colorful photos, it seemed like this book contained every rice recipe on the planet. There’s stuffed vine leaves from Greece, an Italian rice ball called arancini and a triangle-shaped Japanese snack called onigiri. And that’s just in the chapter on soups and snacks. The main courses ranged from one-pot jambalaya to a Korean dish called bibimbap, a cheesy courgette (Americans call it zucchini) gratin and Moroccan baked chicken. I folded the corner of the recipe for wild rice and bacon stuffing for a Thanksgiving side. The dessert section had me drooling over blueberry rice puddings and risotto fritters.

I couldn’t find a recipe I didn’t want to try. Granted, not all of the recipes “Posh Rice” are within my skill level in the kitchen. I eyed the spanakopita spiral pies, but I decided I needed to just cook rice without burning it to the bottom of the pan before attempting that one. And while many of the side dishes cook in 40 minutes or less, most of the entrees in the book require more than an hour or even two. These dishes are a little more advanced than a box of Minute microwave white rice.

I settled on stuffed peppers – a warm comfort food for one of the first chilly days of fall. Cooking the rice in beef stock, onion and garlic gave it a more savory flavor than if I had used water. I was skeptical of the allspice, but I dutifully poured two heaping teaspoons over the ground lamb and other ingredients. When the peppers came out of the oven 65 minutes later, the allspice sang in my first bite. Drizzling olive oil and beef stock over the pan before baking kept the rice and lamb moist inside the roasted peppers. I had more filling than could fit in the peppers, but adding the leftovers to scrambled eggs gave me a delicious breakfast the next morning.

Maybe following a recipe isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

Twitter: megan_e_doyle


Serves 6; takes about 1 hour, 30 minutes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 onion, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

150 grams or 3/4 cup easy-cook long-grain rice

600 millimeters or 11/4 pints hot lamb or beef stock

6 mixed colour (bell) peppers

2 teaspoons allspice

250 grams or 9 ounces lamb mince

50 grams or 2 ounces pine nuts, toasted

2 tablespoons tomato puree

50 grams or 2 ounces raisins

1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper


250 grams or 9 ounces Greek yoghurt

1 garlic clove, crushed,

Handful dill, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/400 degrees Fahrenheit/gas 6. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion for about eight minutes until softened. Add the garlic and rice and stir. Turn the heat down and pour in 150 millimeters or 5 fluid ounces of the stock. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Tip into a large bowl and leave to cool.

Slice the tops from the peppers, reserving the lids, and scoop out the seeds and core. Place in a casserole dish – trim the bottoms without making any holes to make them stand, if needed.

Add the allspice, lamb mince, pine nuts, tomato puree, raisins and parsley to the cooler rice, along with 150 millimeters or 5 fluid ounces of the stock, the salt and some black pepper. Spoon into the peppers, packing the mixture down. Poor over a little of the stock, then pop the pepper lids back on. Drizzle generously with oil and pour the remaining stock into the bottom of the dish. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together the yoghurt, garlic, dill and some seasoning and serve alongside the peppers.

]]> 0, 17 Oct 2017 17:42:15 +0000
Pumpkin coconut squares are a scrumptious treat for Halloween Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Here’s a scrumptious treat for Halloween. It happens to be too delicate to give away to the trick-or-treaters, but it’s just right for y-o-u and your family and friends at a Halloween party or dinner.

Preparing Pumpkin Coconut Squares takes some time, but it’s mostly waiting time, not hands-on time. This beauty is four layers thick, and two of them require time to set up. There’s a gingersnap crust on the bottom, a layer of pumpkin/coconut milk puree, a layer of tart cream cheese and a topping of toasted coconut flakes.

If you’ve ever dug into a pumpkin pie or dessert and wondered where the flavor went, I can pinpoint the problem: Pumpkin puree is terribly watery whether it’s fresh or canned. It occurred to me that draining it would concentrate the flavor, and here’s how to do it: First, wrap it in a layer of cheesecloth, then tie the cheesecloth like a hobo’s sack to a chopstick, skewer, or dinner knife, and finally hang the sack over a deep bowl. Let it drip, drip, drip for eight hours or overnight. Afterward, there will be a fair amount of water at the bottom of the bowl – and even more in the cheesecloth. Squeeze the cheesecloth gently to remove the additional water. (If you don’t have cheesecloth, a coffee filter will do the trick.) Be sure to use pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling, which is presweetened.

If you’re inclined to lighten up the recipe, swap in light coconut milk, 1/3-less-fat cream cheese and unsweetened coconut flakes for the specified full-fat ingredients. Then again, it is Halloween and these Pumpkin Coconut Squares are an old-fashioned holiday treat. Feel free to enjoy the uncensored version.


Makes 36 squares

One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus extra for buttering the pan

11/2 cups finely ground gingersnap crumbs (about 35 2-inch cookies)

2 large eggs

3/4 cup well-stirred unsweetened coconut milk (stir the coconut cream at the top of the tin down into the rest of the milk to incorporate it before measuring)

2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

13/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided

13/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon table salt

6 ounces cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons toasted sweetened coconut flakes

Cut out a square of cheesecloth large enough to wrap around the puree with about a 4-inch border on all sides. Spoon the puree into the cheesecloth, tie the ends of the cheesecloth together to form a bag (like what we used to call a hobo sack) and thread a chopstick, skewer or dinner knife through the opening at the top. Place the chopstick over the top of a deep bowl and let the bag hang over the bowl. Chill for at least 8 hours or overnight. After the draining period, squeeze the cheesecloth gently to extract even more water, discard all the liquid at the bottom of the bowl and set the puree aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Butter a 9-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan. Melt 1 tablespoons of the butter.

In a medium bowl, stir together the gingersnap crumbs and the melted butter and pat the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven until the crumbs begin to darken, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, in the same bowl you mixed the crumb mixture, whisk the eggs until they are beaten lightly, add the coconut milk, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of the vanilla, ginger and salt, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the drained pumpkin puree and spread evenly over the crumbs.

Bake on the middle shelf of the oven, until the center has set, about 25 minutes. Remove and let cool completely on a rack. In a medium bowl combine the cream cheese, the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, confectioners’ sugar, remaining teaspoon cinnamon and teaspoon vanilla; beat until very smooth. Spread the mixture evenly over the top of the cooled pumpkin filling and sprinkle the coconut on top of the cream cheese frosting, pressing it down lightly. Chill until firm, about 2 hours. Cut into 36 squares and serve.

]]> 0, 17 Oct 2017 17:50:12 +0000
Next football game, score one for slow-cooker soup Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 I am a Football Mom. A New York City Football Mom, so Football Moms from, say, Texas or California might smirk at me a little. That’s OK. I recognize the difference.

But no matter how competitive the league, there is always food involved – for the kids before and after games, and at the game itself for parents and friends who show up no matter the weather.

And what could be more welcome in any of these situations than a robust, hot, rib-sticking soup?

This soup has tailgating or sidelines or post-game meal written all over it. It’s thick from the lentils, and fragrant with cumin and coriander. If you are familiar with Indian food, it might remind you of a soupy version of dal, with satisfying small cubes of chicken nestled throughout. And it’s made in a slow cooker, which means that if you are serving it after you come home, it’s right there waiting for you, like a warm hug.

Last year was the first time I made this soup, lugging it in the slow cooker to the game. My family thought I had gone one step too far – that setting up a vat of soup on the sidelines was going to seem pretty weird. They were pretty wrong. The ladle was passed from person to person, heavy-duty paper cups were filled, and not a drop was left.

The soup thickens upon sitting, and if you refrigerate it and heat it up the next day, you may want to add more broth or water.

And I would definitely add the fresh parsley at the end.

The football game is purely optional.


Serves 12

2 onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large fennel bulb, cored and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)

1/2 pound dried red lentils

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced small

5 cups less-sodium chicken broth, plus more if needed

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley, plus more to serve if desired

In a large (5-quart or more) slow cooker, combine the onion, garlic, fennel, carrots, lentils, cumin, coriander, chicken, broth and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook on high for 4 hours. Stir in another cup or two of broth toward the end if it’s thicker than you want it to be. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Stir in the parsley and serve. Sprinkle servings with additional parsley if desired.

]]> 0, 17 Oct 2017 17:59:03 +0000
Mongolian beef boasts depth of flavor, delectably clingy sauce Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 My family cannot get enough of Asian food, and any time I crank out a dish that announces itself with aromas of garlic, ginger and soy sauce, I pretty much know dinner will be a success.

That’s why I’m earmarking this dish for Halloween, since getting something hearty in my boys’ stomachs before the sugar-palooza is pretty much the extent of what I can control with teenagers.

This dish allows a wonderful glaze to coat the ultra-thin slices of steak. It reminds me of something you might get at an old-school Chinese restaurant.

Mongolian beef can be made with different types of thinly sliced or small-cut meat, and if shaved beef isn’t an option, place a piece of flank steak in the freezer until it’s quite firm but not totally frozen and then thinly slice it across the grain. It will essentially defrost as you cut it.

Dusting the slices of beef in cornstarch before sauteing them allows them to brown nicely. Then, when the beef meets with sauce, the cornstarch not only helps thicken the sauce, but it also helps the sauce coat the beef deliciously.


Serves 6

1/2 cup (approximately) plus 2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil, divided

2 teaspoons finely minced garlic

1 tablespoon freshly minced ginger

cup less sodium soy sauce

cup packed brown sugar

11/2 pounds beef shaved steak

3 tablespoons cornstarch

6 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (white and green parts)

Hot cooked brown or white rice to serve

In a small saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil. Add the garlic and ginger, and saute for 30 seconds. Then add the soy sauce and brown sugar and bring to a simmer, whisking frequently over medium heat. Allow it to simmer and reduce a bit, until it gets a glazy consistency, about 4 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, toss the shaved steak in a mixing bowl with the cornstarch until evenly distributed.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet (the bigger the better) over medium high heat. Line a counter or a large plate with paper towels. Sauté the beef in batches, taking care not to crowd the pan, and flipping it as it browns, about 1 minute on each side. Use a fork or tongs to remove the beef when it is browned, transferring it to the paper towels. Repeat until all of the beef is browned, adding more oil as needed (make sure the oil has a chance to get hot before you add the next batch of beef so it browns up nicely).

Pour off any additional oil and return the large skillet to medium high heat. Add all of the beef back to the pan, along with the sauce and scallions. Stir for about 3 minutes, until the sauce is thickened and glazes all of the meat evenly. Serve over the rice.

]]> 0, 17 Oct 2017 18:48:28 +0000
Grandmother’s lemon sponge pudding stands up to time – and children Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 As I helped my 94-year-old grandmother clean out her kitchen before a move a few years back, she looked at a cupboard stuffed with cookbooks and suggested I take whichever I liked. My eyes flitted to her worn copy of Fannie Farmer’s “Boston Cooking School Cook Book” and a 1946 copy of the Lily Wallace “New American Cook Book,” its spine barely held together by packing tape.

But not these, Nana said, pulling those same volumes aside. “These are some of the oldest things I have.”

A few months later, my sister sheepishly told me that Nana had given the cookbooks to her, first thumbing through Wallace’s tome of numbered recipes to find one for Lemon Sponge Pudding (No. 2514) – a favorite, she had said. The page was dotted with stains and torn in places where drips of sugar had fused one sheet to the next. In the margin next to the pudding recipe was one tiny check mark: Make this one again.

My envy subsided when, a few months later, a package arrived from my sister with a beautifully framed, high-quality copy of the cookbook’s cover and the splattered page. The pudding wasn’t a dish made for special occasions, Nana told me later, and not necessarily one for company. She made it “now and then,” in rotation with Farmer’s baked custard, because she favored lemon.

Plus, she said, “the children liked it.”

Chelsea Conaboy squeezes a lemon with the help of her son, Hartley Byun. Photo by Yoon S. Byun


The children. Five in all, four of them boys, and a husband with a career at the telephone company.

In the two years or so since Nana’s recipe went up on the wall of our kitchen in South Portland, I’ve begun raising my own two boys. I’ve thought so often about my grandmother, Margaret Conaboy, and other women of her generation, and of what childrearing was like in their households, often with bigger broods, less helpful partners, no daycare and more made from scratch – though less often done while balancing a full-time job as well.

Like other cookbook authors of the mid-20th century, Wallace argues for the importance of women’s work. As World War II was ending, women in many families returned from factories to domestic life, and they looked for ways to assert themselves in whatever venue they were allowed – a trend that had been building for decades – said Don Lindgren, an antiquarian cookbook expert and dealer at Rabelais in Biddeford.

Food is diplomacy, Wallace writes. It fuels family life and keeps people from “straying.” It has influenced all of recorded history, and it can dictate the future.

“[I]t is highly probable that the lives of children, whose grandparents may yet be unborn, will be influenced by the meals being served in many homes today,” writes Wallace in the introduction. (There is so little historical record of Wallace, beyond what she writes about her own life, that Lindgren wonders whether Lily Wallace may in fact have been a pseudonym.)

Encyclopedic cookbooks like hers – she claimed that 54 “leading authorities on domestic science and the art of modern cooking” assisted in writing it – were born from the home economics movement of the early 20th century and the practicality and accuracy that was important through the Great Depression and wartime. But they would soon fall out of favor in publishing, replaced by books filled with pictures or defined by big personalities, Lindgren said. Julia Child would change the nature of cookbook publishing 15 years later, with “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”

Still, books like Wallace’s, tested and dependable, stayed on families’ shelves for years to come, sometimes standing in for distant family members, said Helen Zoe Veit, associate professor of history at Michigan State University, where she specializes in the history of food.

“You might turn to the cookbook as you might have turned to a mother or a grandmother living nearby and say, how do you do this? And you could turn to the cookbook, because the cookbook knew so much,” Veit said.

Chelsea Conaboy pours boiling water into a tray holding ramekins for Lemon Sponge Pudding. Her son, Hartley Byun, waits to taste-test. Photo by Yoon S. Byun


Certainly, Wallace’s cookbook knew more than I did. For starters, I had no idea what a “pudding dish” was or even approximately what a sponge pudding should look like when finished. Short on time – see above, two young boys – and with my grandmother, now 97, living two time zones away, I consulted the modern-day cooking encyclopedia: the internet.

It led me astray.

Some sponge puddings apparently are meant to be flipped, being composed more of sponge than of pudding. Wallace didn’t call for flipping her pudding, but I thought perhaps that was one more thing she had assumed I would know.

When I flipped the mixing bowl I’d used as a stand-in for a pudding dish, a puddle of hot lemon goo oozed out onto my hand and the countertop. My 21/2-year-old son, Hartley, looked up at me with concern as I yelped in pain and then in frustration.

Two weeks later, we tried again, this time with ramekins. No flipping. Hartley helped juice the lemon and fold in stiff egg whites. Then we waited together for the pudding to bake.

Before my husband and I had children, life was marked by major milestones: a first job, then a new city and another, as I moved with my career. Next came a proposal, marriage, our first home. The markers that lie ahead seem different. They track the unfolding of a young life – two lives – and all of the daily tasks and rituals that, my grandmother knows well, make that unfolding possible, all of the things that create the splattered page of a family’s history.

Hartley and I ate the pudding together, sharing one dish and two spoons. We broke through the sponge top to a glossy yellow beneath and scraped at the bottom of the ramekin for every last bit.

Put a check mark next to this one, I thought. The children like it.

Chelsea Conaboy is a freelance writer and editor. She is the former features editor at the Press Herald. She can be contacted at:; Twitter: @cconaboy


The “New American Cook Book” called for using a pudding dish and cooking this recipe for 45 minutes. I don’t own a pudding dish and decided, as my grandmother often does, to use 4-inch ramekins and to reduce the cooking time slightly. I filled five ramekins for larger portions, though this recipe could be stretched to six dishes. I used the full amount of recommended sugar. Nana cuts it by a quarter cup.

Lemon sponge pudding made by Chelsea Conaboy. Photo by Yoon S. Byun

Serves 5 to 6

2 eggs, yolks and whites separated

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

Pinch of salt

1 cup milk

Rind and juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Put a kettle of water on to boil to make a water bath.

Beat egg yolks. In a large mixing bowl, sift the sugar, flour and salt, and add to the egg yolks. Add the milk, lemon juice and rind, and beat thoroughly. Melt butter and add. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold the whites into the yolk and lemon mixture. Divide evenly into ramekins.

Pour boiling water in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place ramekins, evenly spaced, in the pan. Top off the water, if necessary (taking care not to get any in the pudding) so that the water reaches about halfway up the ramekins. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the tops of the puddings are very lightly browned. Chill and serve cold.

]]> 0 attempts to squeeze more juice out of a lemon and add it to the batter. A copy of the recipe and the cover of the book from which it came, the "New American Cook Book" by Lily Wallace, hangs on the wall above the mixer.Fri, 20 Oct 2017 13:21:51 +0000
Vegan grain bowls gain popularity in Maine Wed, 11 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Grain bowls are riding high on current healthy eating trends, around the country and right here in Maine, too. In our state, they’re on the rise at local restaurants, where chefs and owners report that vegan bowls quickly become bestsellers.

Two and half years ago Ten Ten Pié in Portland added a vegan grain bowl to its menu. “It’s become one of our top-selling items,” owner Markos Miller said. “We were pleasantly surprised by how well-received it was.”

The multi-grain veggie bowl has a base of three kinds of rice and quinoa, which is topped with greens, seaweed, avocado, pickles and tofu. A carrot-ginger dressing finishes the dish.

A few blocks away at the Press Hotel, Union restaurant chef Josh Berry offered a “very successful” vegan grain bowl on the spring menu. Since then, grain bowls have been popping up on the restaurant’s specials board. Berry said he’s noticed customers on a business lunch “want a lighter dish but want to still really remain full.” Grain bowls score on both points.

The most recent grain bowl offered at Union united green bamboo rice, French green lentils, green zebra tomatoes and zucchini. Berry said fall versions might include wheat berries, seared tempeh, red cabbage and pumpkin broth.

On the island of North Haven, where the year-round population of 350 swells to 1,500 in the summer months, a vegetarian grain bowl added to the menu at Calderwood Hall two years ago has won a following among both locals and summer folks. Called the grains and greens bowl, its made up of brown rice, seasonal vegetables, quick pickles and feta; the cheese can be left off to make it vegan, and a choice of two dressings are offered.

“I didn’t have any idea it would be so popular,” said Jessie Hallowell, who is the kitchen manager at Calderwood Hall, which is the only restaurant on the island to stay open year round. “It appeals to a broad audience,” Hallowell continued. “It’s really surprising to me, but it really is across the board. Kids don’t order it as much, but lobstermen, carpenters, moms, vegetarians, the gluten-free and teenagers do.”

Miller at Ten Ten Pié said his grain bowl eaters also run the gamut. Many are younger people and women, “but more and more we see carpenters, construction workers and guys that a generation ago would be ordering Italians from the same spot,” he said. (Ten Ten Pié is located in the storefront that once held DiPietro’s Italian sandwich shop.)

One restaurant that has gone all in on the grain bowl trend is LB Kitchen in Portland, which opened in late February with a health-focused menu of grain bowls and avocado toasts. Bryna Gootkind, who opened the restaurant with chef Lee Farrington, said they decided to focus on grain bowls as a result of her experience in the natural foods industry; she works in marketing for California-based superfood brand Navitas Organics. On business trips, she said she has noticed how well grain bowl restaurants have done in major cities.

“We were surprised the concept wasn’t happening very much in Portland,” Gootkind said.

LB Kitchen has been busy since opening, and the recently added tofu banh mi bowl has replaced the All the Vegetables bowl as its top seller. Both are vegan. The banh mi bowl features brown rice topped with pickled daikon, pickled beets, avocado, greens, spicy vegan mayo and tofu. All the Vegetables starts with a base of quinoa or farro and then is topped with seasonal vegetables, pickled beets, sauerkraut and, if desire, turmeric grilled tofu.

These grain bowls and the rest of its healthful, on-trend menu landed LB Kitchen the contract to provide all the breakfasts and lunches for the bands playing at Thompson’s Point this past summer.

One of the newest grain bowls can be found at Gather in Yarmouth, which tested the vegan Golden Bowl on its specials board in September. Composed of rice piled with roasted vegetables, pickled red peppers, tofu and a nutritional yeast sauce, the dish captured the attention of diners.

“Interestingly, this dish got such a positive response from people who don’t always order vegetarian,” Gather owner Matt Chappell said.

On the nights the grain bowl was on the specials board, it accounted for 10 percent of the dishes ordered. “For a vegan option to be 10 percent of the meals that go out that night really says a lot,” he said. “My top dish on a given night wouldn’t exceed 10 percent, let alone a dish on the specials board.”

The Golden Bowl is now on Gather’s permanent menu.


Step 1: Pick a cooked grain

Go basic with white rice, or take it up a notch with brown basmati rice, jasmine rice or red rice. More adventurous bowl makers may opt for quinoa, buckwheat, hulled barley, wheat berries, farro or rye berries. Try a mix of grains.

Step 2: Select your vegetables

Let the season and the farmers market be your guide. Or pick a flavor profile and work from there. At this time of year, roasted root vegetables or Brussels sprouts are nice, as is sauteed kale and garlic.

Step 3: Choose a protein

Try tofu – either baked or fried, hot or cold. Tempeh works well, too, but is better served hot. Other good grain complements are plant-based meats made from seitan, beans, and falafel or crumbled veggie burgers.

Step 4: Add a pickle

It can really help brighten a bowl. Options range from pickled cucumbers and pickled peppers to pickled cauliflower. Marinated artichoke hearts, olive, sauerkraut and kimchi also add zest.

Step 5: Top with sauce

This crucial element brings the bowl together, and the possibilities are endless. To name just a few, balsamic vinaigrette, carrot-ginger dressing, vegan ranch dressing, lemon-tahini sauce, Thai peanut sauce, miso broth, and vegan cheese sauce.

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

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

]]> 0 Golden Bowl at Gather in Yarmouth, above, and the All the Vegetables bowl at LB Kitchen in Portland, right.Tue, 10 Oct 2017 18:27:03 +0000
Chopped salad might sound mundane, but let me convince you otherwise Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Since the first of May, I’ve eaten at least 100 salads, probably more. How do I choose a good salad? Sometimes it’s simple mixed greens and herbs, a pristine bowl of butter lettuce, greens with add-ins, all tossed with good olive oil, lemon juice; other times it’s all fruit, or all veg, and potato, egg and tuna salads; or composed salads such as Nicoise, Italian, Greek; and single subjects such as asparagus, carrot, green bean, tomatoes and other salad plates. Dressed, topped and drizzled. If there is a salad fork in the road, I’ll take it.

One type of salad, however, is too often overlooked, forgotten and ignored. It’s the decidedly mundane, banal and clear-out-the-vegetable bin chopped salad. That’s what I thought before I tried the Chopped Salad at Atria’s, a popular Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, watering hole. It has a whopping dozen veggies, all precision chopped, tossed with garlic vinaigrette and topped with avocado and blue cheese. The game-changer chopped salad, for $4.99, is big enough to share.

Atria’s salad includes romaine and iceberg lettuces, but not too much, and cubed carrots, celery, red onion, cucumber, corn kernels, tomato, scallions, pimento, avocado and something else that I forgot.

After flying into Pittsburgh International Airport, my husband and I often make a pit stop at Ditka’s in Robinson for lunch or supper. It serves a killer chopped salad, too, with all the usual suspects plus red and green sweet peppers, chickpeas and pickled pepperoncini for snap. Blue cheese and tortilla chip strips top Dikta’s hearty salad ($7).

Maybe the drama queen of chopped salads is the Cobb Salad where the chopped ingredients are arranged in bars or stripes over a bed of greens. Rows of hard cooked egg, bacon crumbles, roasted chicken shreds, avocado, tomatoes and the ever-present blue cheese and vinaigrette dressing are the other ingredients. The diner does the tossing, but still, it’s a chopped salad.

To make a chopped salad at home, think very fresh vegetables, refreshing and cold, cut into uniform shapes and above all, crunchy. I like to add cubes of apple and a handful of nuts, too. Toss lightly with a highly seasoned dressing and top with cheese crumbles, real bacon bits and small crunchy croutons.

So good.


A salad of colorful stripes is a real eye catcher. Cobb salads are served with the ingredients lined up in neat rows, and then the diner tosses it all together, or not, as he or she chooses. Got vegetarians? Lose the bacon and chicken, but add more veggies. Almost any dressing will do – creamy pesto, Ranch or a simple vinaigrette.

Makes about 1 cup

6 cups slivered romaine lettuce (or a combo of romaine and iceberg)

8 slices crisp bacon, cooked and roughly crumbled

3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into large dice

2 medium-size tomatoes, seeded and cut into large dice

11/2 cups cubed cooked chicken

1 avocado, peeled and cubed

1/2 cup diced red onion

Optional rows: chickpeas, English peas, diced sweet peppers, cook’s choice

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Creamy Pesto Dressing

Scatter the lettuce over a large serving platter. Over the greens, make neat rows of crumbled bacon, eggs, tomatoes, chicken, avocado, onion and blue cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle Creamy Pesto Dressing over the salad, or serve it on the side.


1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably Hellman’s

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 cup fresh basil leaves (or half basil, half mint)

2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic, finely minced

Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Blend or whisk together mayonnaise, buttermilk, basil, cheese, garlic, and salt and pepper until everything is well combined. Transfer to a plastic container. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. It will last for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

]]> 0, 03 Oct 2017 20:00:26 +0000
Don’t be intimidated by tarte tatin Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Taxi cab confession: Before now, I had never made a tarte tatin. It sounded just plain scary – flipping a pan over so that the fruit ends up on top and the crust ends up on the bottom. Such drama! Why would anyone put themselves through such angst?

But there I was just minding my own business, and suddenly it was pear season, and the voluptuous, colorful, squatty fruits were everywhere. I bought some puff pastry, gave myself a big old pep talk, and turned up the music. An hour later, my first pear tatin was a success. A few pears stuck to the pan when I inverted it, but I pulled them off and settled them back into place on the tarte, and no one was the wiser.

And while I will have to accomplish a few more successful tarte tatins to feel as though it is no longer intimidating, I am now on my way. I can envision that day when I will be able to say with casual confidence: “Oh, can I bring a dessert? How about a tarte tatin?”

You want your pears to be just ripe, but not soft. They need to hold their shape in the baking. Buy yourself some good ice cream for this – you and your tarte tatin deserve it.

In closing, I take a moment yet again to profess my abiding love for premade puff pastry. I may be excited to add tarte tatins to my repertoire, but I’m pretty far away from wanting to make my own puff pastry.


Serves 6 to 8

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

4 just-ripe but firm Anjou or Barlett pears

All-purpose flour for rolling out the pastry

1 sheet (1/2 of a 17.3 ounce package) puff pastry, either refrigerated and cool, or, if frozen, thawed according to package directions but still slightly chilled

Vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a 10-inch, heavy ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, stir together the sugar with 2 tablespoons of water. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until the mixture starts to turn a golden color, about 6 minutes. Stir in the butter, and continue stirring occasionally until the mixture is a rich golden color, but not too dark. Stir in the lemon juice.

While the sugar mixture is cooking, slice the pears in half, then into quarters, remove the cores with a paring knife, and cut the halves lengthwise into two thick slices each (so, eight slices total per pear). When the sugar mixture is golden, arrange the pear slices in concentric circles in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the pears are slightly tender, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly flour a clean work surface. Roll out the puff pastry to a square slightly larger than the pan’s diameter. Trim the pastry into a circle just barely larger than the circumference of the pan, and prick the puff pastry in several places with a fork. Place the pastry over the pears and carefully tuck the edges around the tops of the pears (you may want to use a rubber spatula, as the pan will be hot). Bake for about 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and puffed.

Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the skillet, place a serving plate (larger than the pan) on top of it, and carefully invert the tarte tatin onto the plate. If any pears cling to the pan, remove them and place them back in their rightful spots. Let cool a bit more, and then serve warm, with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

]]> 0 Aug. 16, 2017 photo shows a pear tarte tatin in New York. This dish is from a recipe by Katie Workman. (Sara E Crowder/Katie Workman via AP)Tue, 03 Oct 2017 18:25:33 +0000
Leeks are the star in this quick, simple chicken dinner Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Barely a month into the school year, and suddenly, we’re swamped.

You too?

Six o’clock sneaks up on my family, and we have a million balls in the air – soccer practice, dance class, pre-algebra homework, jobs – and none of them is magically making dinner.

Still, my family needs to eat. So, I have a slew of super simple under-30-minute dinners that I can pull together in less time than it takes to get a pizza delivered. The trick is to keep the number of ingredients to a minimum, and select a fast-cooking protein, like boneless skinless chicken breast.

Quick Skillet Chicken with Leeks earns high marks on both fronts, making it an excellent addition to your weeknight dinner rotation. Just a few carefully selected ingredients work together to get a ton of flavor without a lot of fuss. Leeks are the star. If you aren’t familiar with them, leeks may feel a little exotic. Used frequently in French cooking, they look like an oversized scallion, and taste like a mellow, slightly grassy onion (but better – I hesitated to use the word grassy, but then opted for accuracy over enticement).

Once you discover leeks and realize how hardy they are – they’ll last at least a week in your fridge – you’ll buy them and find ways to work them into your recipes. Almost any place you use onions, you could swap in leeks for a flavor tweak. Find them in the produce aisle, or with frozen vegetables. And, you can even freeze your own fresh leek slices if you want to stock up for a future recipe.

Today’s recipe couldn’t be easier: pan-sear chicken, and spoon over sliced leeks mixed with a little melted butter, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce and chicken stock, and then finish the whole thing in the oven for 15 minutes. By the time you set out the plates, dinner will be on the table.


Servings: 6

6 small chicken breast cutlets, about 2 pounds

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced leek (fresh, or frozen), white and light green only, about 1 leek

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon powdered dry mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F, salt and pepper the chicken. Brown the chicken in olive oil in oven safe skillet over medium high heat just until the first side is golden, about 3 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix together the sliced leeks, melted butter, chicken stock, dry mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Flip the chicken over in the skillet. Spoon the leek mixture on top of the chicken and place the whole pan in the oven to finish cooking, about 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through the leeks are tender. (If leeks appear to get too dry, place a sheet of aluminum foil light on top of the pan.) Serve the chicken with some sauce spooned on top.

]]> 0, 03 Oct 2017 17:11:59 +0000
The Maine Ingredient: If you pickle local produce, be ready for grateful puckering up Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Pickles and relishes have played a crucial role in Maine cooking for centuries, adding lift and sparkle to many a homespun meal in days of old.

Although it’s no longer necessary to “put up” food as our forebears did, it’s still fun and rewarding to make pickles with produce at its seasonal peak.

These days you have the option of preserving using the water bath canning process, or treating the vegetables as refrigerator pickles, where they will keep for at least four weeks.


Kirby cucumbers, sometimes called pickling cucumbers, are smallish cucumbers without many seeds. They are sold unwaxed, so that the pretty green peel can be included in the pickling process.

Makes about 4 pints

3 pounds Kirby cucumbers, washed and sliced thin

1 cup sliced onions

¼ cup kosher salt

2 cups cider vinegar

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds

1 teaspoon celery seeds

¾ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Toss the cucumbers in a large bowl with onions and salt. Add a handful of ice cubes and mix again. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 3 hours, stirring once or twice. Drain well in a colander.

Combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard and celery seed, turmeric and cloves in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the drained cucumbers. Return the liquid just to the boiling point and remove from the heat.

Let pickles cool in the brine and then pack into jars or plastic containers.

Refrigerate for at least 12 hours or for up to 4 weeks.


Most traditional chutney recipes call for simmering the fruit-spice mixture for upwards of 2 hours. This one, a delectable sweet-hot apple and tomato blend, is done in less than 30 minutes, start to finish.

It’s great served atop a curry or spread on meat or cheese sandwiches.

Makes about 3 cups

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 large tart apples, such as Granny Smith, unpeeled, cored and cut into ½-inch dice

1 large tomato, cored and cut into ½-inch dice

½ cup raisins

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root

1 teaspoon minced fresh or pickled jalapeño

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

¾ cup distilled white vinegar

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

½ cup orange juice

1 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a wide, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the apples, tomato, raisins, ginger, jalapeño, allspice and cloves and cook, stirring, until the fruit begins to give up its juices, about 3 minutes.

Add the vinegar, sugar, orange juice, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil, stirring.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until the apples are soft and the juices are reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. (Do not cook until dry, because the chutney will thicken as it cools. Add a bit of water if necessary.)

Cool and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to 2 weeks. Adjust salt, if necessary, before using.

Brooke Dojny is the 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, 03 Oct 2017 17:19:36 +0000
Looking for a gift for the serious-minded cook? Wed, 27 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “The Art of Flavor: Practices and Principles for Creating Delicious Food.” By Daniel Patterson and Mandy Aftel. Riverhead Books. $28.

My younger colleagues who like to cook won’t give a cookbook without photos the time of day. Unlike me, they have been reared on food television and food blogs. They expect – they demand – luscious photographs in every cookbook, preferably with every recipe. (They get them, because it’s no longer insanely expensive to print these photo-heavy cookbooks.)

So it is probably my contrary nature that drew me to “The Art of Flavor: Practices and Principles for Creating Delicious Food,” a deliberative, text-heavy, black-and-white cookbook with not a single photo unless, that is, you count the two of the authors on the book jacket flap. Also, I’m a writer and editor, so it pleased me to restore balance – to give words a little love in our image-centric world. Easy to do with this book, it turned out, because it is so nicely written.

About those two authors? One is San Francisco-based chef Daniel Patterson, past winner of a James Beard Foundation award, recognized as a Food & Wine Best New Chef, and holder of two Michelin stars. His unlikely (yet unexpectedly apt) collaborator for “The Art of Flavor” is Berkeley-based Mandy Aftel, headlined in a New York Times profile as “The World’s Most Dedicated All-Natural Perfumer.”

A few minutes perusing made it clear that it’s not accurate to call their work a cookbook. Yes, it has recipes, often quite unusual ones (such as Carrots Roasted with Coffee Beans; Winter Vegetables with Charred Onion Broth and Olive Oil; Oxtail Braised in Marrow Stock). But far more of the book is devoted to giving home cooks a set of practices and principles,” as the book’s subtitle and introduction say, for teaching “you to become a creative, confident cook who knows how to think about and respond to the ingredients available to you in ways that result in delicious, memorable food.”

Hence, readers get a “Brief, Biased History of Flavor” in Chapter 1, as well as meaty, rigorous instruction throughout, which builds chapter by chapter, on ingredients [the aim is to “arrive at (an) intimate understanding” of them], rules of flavor, fine-tuning – what Patterson and Aftel call “The Seven Dials,” and quite a bit more. Here, for instance, is a suggestion from a section on ingredients:

“Try this: Every time you go food shopping, practice comparing the aroma of ingredients that are similar, paying attention to the ways in which they are aromatically different – coffee beans from different countries; oolong, green, or black teas; milk or dark chocolate; blood or sweet orange; Pink Lady or Fuji apples. You will begin to notice the different facets of their aromas. Let yourself gravitate toward what draws you, with its vibrant color, its pungent smell, or simply its strangeness. Pick it up and inhale its aroma deeply. Try to put words to its character, the shape of its aroma, its facets. What familiar associations does it call up? A forest floor? What inspirations does it call forth? Maybe think of pairing it with a piney herb? Identifying those bridges from the familiar to the unfamiliar is the key to expanding not just your pantry but also your repertoire. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it makes for a good cook.”

Curiosity is also necessary for the reader of “The Art of Flavor.” If you are the sort of cook who simply wants to get a healthy, tasty dinner on the table fast before the kids melt down, this is probably not the book for you. If, however, you are the sort of cook who likes to intellectualize your meal-making; who wonders why one recipe shines and another is a dud; who likes to understand precisely what’s going on on the stovetop and in the oven, not merely follow a set of rote instructions; who geeks out on learning that herbs and spices are built, for the most part, from two chemical families, terpenes and phenolics, and is eager to read three pages about them; this book has your name on it.

You can, of course, skip all the lessons, and just cook the recipes, which range from the familiar, say, Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs, to the sophisticated, say, Chicken Stewed with Saffron, Orange and Tarragon. Many look intriguing; none looks overly complicated. Neglecting the lessons may not be the best and highest use of “The Art of Flavor,” but if the three recipes I tried are any indication, the approach will nonetheless be delicious.

Peggy Grodinsky can be contacted at 791-6653 or at:

Twitter: pgrodinsky


Serves 6-8

1 ripe tomato, skinned and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 serrano chili, seeded

2 tablespoons neutral-tasting vegetable oil, such as grapeseed or canola

1 tablespoon fresh goat’s or cow’s milk cheese


2 heads romaine lettuce, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups summer vegetables (squash, bell peppers, cucumbers, fennel, etc.), chopped, shaved, or cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 avocado, diced

Freshly ground black pepper

Place the tomato, vinegar, lime juice, chili, oil and cheese in the pitcher of a blender with a little salt and process until smooth.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a serving bowl. Dress with the tomato vinaigrette and season to taste with salt and black pepper.

]]> 0, 26 Sep 2017 19:08:41 +0000
Sorry, Grandma – I’m tweaking your spaghetti and meatballs Wed, 27 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Spaghetti and meatballs was the classic dish I ate at Grandma’s house growing up: She had her all-day recipe that filled her creaky house with heady aromas that built anticipation as meatballs simmered in sauce on the stove.

The fact that she was 100 percent first-generation German – she emigrated at the age of 6 – never stopped me from making her recipe the benchmark by which every other meatball would be judged.

Tweaking her recipe to lighten it up a bit, and make it weekday-friendly by shortening the cook time, was a task I didn’t take lightly. And truth to be told: There is a special place in this rush-to-eat food world for the leisurely simmer of small orbs of meat in thick, tangy tomato sauce covered in a fine slick of co-mingled pork and beef fat that has gently floated to the top. But life is busy, and we need to get a healthy dinner on the table and move on. I get it. These meatballs are for those nights.

First to change: The fatty mix of pork and beef became simply lean (93 percent) beef. Feel free to mix in turkey, but our family preferred the beef. The next tweak: I added a half-pound of mushrooms for every pound of beef to stretch the meat out and add in nutrients. I pulsed the mushrooms in a food processor, and then cooked them with another healthy meat stretcher – onions. (Here, you could add other veggies too: shredded zucchini, carrot, and chopped spinach work great.) I added the mushroom and onion mixture right in with the ground beef, and they added flavor, moisture and bulk, with nary an added calorie (nor a suspicious eye from any of my four kids). I used one egg white (no yolk), and used oats pulsed into a coarse flour instead of breadcrumbs. Simmer these meatballs directly in a pot of a high-quality jarred marinara sauce, and in 20 minutes, they will be succulent, tender and juicy.

Almost like Grandma’s.


Servings: 6

8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)

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

1 teaspoon olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1 pound 93 percent lean ground beef

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/3 cup oats, pulsed or blended into a coarse powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

4 cups jarred marinara sauce, with no sugar added

Place the sliced mushrooms in a food processor and pulse 4 or 5 times, until the mushrooms are the texture of coarse couscous. Do not over-process or it will become pasty. Heat a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil, onion, and mushrooms to the pan. Cook, stirring often, until onion and mushrooms are softened, and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 12 minutes.

Add the garlic, Italian herb blend, salt and pepper, give it a quick stir, and then remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes. In a large bowl, mix together the egg white and the cooled mushroom mixture. Add the ground beef and mix together, using hands if necessary. Add the Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, fresh basil and ground oats and mix together, just until blended.

Use a small ice cream scoop to portion out uniform meatballs, and roll them gently together in your hands. (You will have approximately 26 meatballs 1.5 inch in diameter.) Pour the marinara sauce into a heavy sauce pan or small Dutch over. Gently place the meatballs in the sauce. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer gently for 20 minutes, removing the cover about halfway through the cook time. Serve.

]]> 0, 26 Sep 2017 17:18:53 +0000
Tuna with smashed onion butter? Yes, please Wed, 27 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 I’m a big fan of tuna and that’s as true on the grill in summer and fall as under the broiler in midwinter. Usually I turn to tapenade as a topping, but I was ready for something different.

I found that in “Gastro Grilling,” by Ted Reader. He prepares the tuna with some heat – four kinds of peppercorns, plus hot pepper flakes for an extra level of spice. (If you don’t have time to run around looking for different peppercorns, feel free to use whatever you have in the pantry.)

It’s a snap to make the rub and pat it on the tuna before grilling. But say you want to branch out a bit more on the dinner menu.

You can make a compound butter with green onions to use as a dollop on the finished tuna. And for only another moment of your time, you can add green onions to the grilled mix. With this combo, dinner will look as pretty as it is flavorful.


Keep your tuna icy cold before grilling; this will keep the flesh firm. Plan the timing so you can soak the green onions for 30 minutes before putting them over the heat.

From “Gastro Grilling,” by Ted Reader.

Serves 4

Smashed Green Onion Butter (see recipe)

1 to 2 bunches green onions, trimmed (bigger onions work better)

1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns

1 tablespoon cracked Szechuan peppercorns

2 teaspoons cracked green peppercorns

2 teaspoons cracked white peppercorns

2 teaspoons cracked coriander seeds

1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon brown sugar

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 tuna steaks (each about 6 ounces), cut 11/2 inch thick

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare the Smashed Green Onion Butter. Soak the green onions for about 30 minutes in cold water.

To make the peppercorn rub: In a bowl, mix together the four peppercorns, coriander, hot pepper flakes, kosher salt and brown sugar. Add the garlic, soy sauce and olive oil. Stir to make a pepper slurry and set aside.

To prepare the tuna: Fire up the grill to 550 to 650 degrees.

Rub the tuna steaks with the pepper rub, pressing the seasoning into the flesh so that it adheres.

Grill the tuna steaks for 1 to 2 minutes per side, directly over the hot flame for rare. It won’t take long. Remember that the more done the tuna is, the drier it becomes. Rare to medium is the usual recommendation.

While grilling the tuna, add the green onions to the heat for 2 to 3 minutes, turning until lightly charred and tender, yet still bright green. Season with a little salt and pepper, if desired. Remove from grill.


From “Gastro Grilling,” by Ted Reader.

Makes about 1/2 cup

4 green onions

Kosher salt to taste

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 shallot, finely chopped

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened

Place the green onions onto a cutting board. Take a heavy-bottomed frying pan and smash them. You want them to split apart to extract their juices. Roughly chop them up and place in a bowl. Season the smashed onions with a little kosher salt and the lemon juice. Add the shallot, cilantro and softened butter. Mix to incorporate.

Transfer to a small bowl and set aside, or place mixture on a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into the dimensions of a stick of butter. (Store in the refrigerator if not using that day.)

]]> 0, 26 Sep 2017 17:53:13 +0000
Prepare a meaningful, no-hassle meal for Jewish New Year Wed, 20 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 When the Jewish New Year falls midweek, as it does this year at sundown Wednesday, the effort to make a fitting meal comes with extra challenges. The gracious invitation to a communal gathering might run up against homework, dog walks and work deadlines, so the family cook who wants to partake of “simanim” – Hebrew for the many symbolic foods of Rosh Hashanah – might spend the previous weekend baking an apple cake and round challahs.

The way I see it, one can never send too many positive vibes into the holiday atmosphere, which is why I recommend Honeyed Carrot Salad with Squash and Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette, which is chockablock with meaningful components. It’s also one-pan friendly.

At the risk of oversimplifying and keeping in mind my lack of Talmudic training, I offer a brief rundown of the ingredients involved. Carrots are said to symbolize the hope of increased blessings for Jews in the coming year; here, they are drizzled with honey and roasted till tender and sweet, along with colorful and easy delicata squash. The latter represents a desire for our merits to be recognized and outweigh the lesser aspects of our nature.

String beans, fenugreek seeds and garlic play their part in the oven medley, too; the roasted cloves enrich the salad’s vinaigrette. The roasted bits are then tossed with fresh spinach, crisp apple slices and shredded beets (each with their own blessing). A bounty of pomegranate seeds emphasizes the many blessings we wish for.

The salad is hearty enough to serve on its own, but I have really enjoyed it in tandem with a slow-cooker brisket that’s a new recipe for me. The amount of meat is modest (family of four-size) and the recipe could hardly be simpler: Cut a few pounds’ worth into large pieces and sear them, then toss them into the slow cooker with thin rounds of leeks (symbolic), dates and garlic (symbolic!), pomegranate molasses (ditto), a bit of water and a pinch of cayenne. This one-pot treatment can even be done on Wednesday itself or during a day of prayerful contemplation Thursday.

The resulting sauce, left chunky or stick-blended to a puree, has a sweet sourness to it that tastes like a High Holidays brisket should. If you make it ahead, it can be covered and warmed up along with the roasting vegetables.

The meal won’t guarantee a prosperous and healthy New Year, but I can promise it will be satisfying and easy to prepare. And you don’t have to celebrate Rosh Hashanah to enjoy it.


4 to 6 servings

Several foods that have symbolic meaning for the Jewish New Year – gourds, carrots, green beans, apples, honey, fenugreek seeds, garlic, spinach, fish, pomegranate seeds – come together in this colorful melange that tastes great warm or at room temperature.

From Washington Post Food deputy editor Bonnie S. Benwick.

3 small delicata squash

1 bunch young small carrots, scrubbed well

3 or 4 fresh sage leaves

Cloves from 1/2 head garlic (unpeeled)

2 tablespoons fenugreek seeds (may substitute 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek)

2 tablespoons plus 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

1/3 cup mild honey

3 large Jonathan apples

1 bunch Chinese long beans (6 ounces; may substitute 8 ounces trimmed haricots verts)

3 small cooked beets

2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

5 ounces baby spinach

2 or 3 sardines packed in olive oil, preferably Bela brand, drained (optional)

Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut each squash in half lengthwise and discard the seeds and trimmed ends. Turn cut sides down and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch half moons. Transfer them to the baking sheet, along with the carrots, sage leaves (to taste), garlic and fenugreek seeds. Drizzle with the 2 tablespoons of oil and toss to coat evenly, then season lightly with salt. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of the honey. Roast (middle rack) for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, core and cut the apples into thin slices; submerge in water or cover with a damp paper towel. Trim the beans and cut into bite-size lengths. Finely chop or shred the beets using the large-holed side of a box grater.

Toss the green beans into the roasted vegetable mixture in the oven, and stir with a fork to incorporate. Drizzle the remaining honey over the mixture. Roast for 5 to 10 minutes, until the carrots and squash look somewhat caramelized.

Remove the garlic from the roasted mixture, then squeeze the cloves into a medium bowl, discarding the skins. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil, the vinegar and a pinch each of salt and pepper; whisk to form an emulsified vinaigrette, making sure the roasted garlic has thoroughly broken down.

Arrange the spinach leaves on a large platter, and drizzle a little of the vinaigrette over them, tossing to coat. Scatter the roasted vegetables, including the roasted fenugreek seeds, evenly over the spinach, then add the sliced apples, shredded beets and sardines, if using. Drizzle with half the remaining dressing.

Garnish with the pomegranate seeds just before serving. Pass the remaining dressing at the table.


4 to 6 servings

This is tailor-made for a modest-size holiday family meal. Cooking the brisket in the slow cooker or with the slow cooker setting on an Instant Pot allows the meat to become meltingly tender and pick up flavors from some ingredients that are symbolic for the Jewish New Year.

You’ll need a 51/2- to 6-quart slow cooker (or equivalent). If you have an appliance that allows you to sear the meat as well, there’s no need to do that step separately on the stove top.

Serve with challah.

The brisket tastes even better after a day’s refrigeration. Cover with its sauce. Discard any congealed fat and reheat on the stove over medium-low heat, until warmed through.

Based on a recipe at

6 to 8 medium leeks, dark green parts trimmed

21/2 to 3 pounds flat-cut beef brisket

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 cup pomegranate molasses, or more as needed

1/3 cup water

5 ounces pitted dates, coarsely chopped (generous 1 cup)

2 large cloves garlic

Pinch ground cayenne pepper

Pomegranate seeds (arils) (optional)

Cut the leeks crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds; submerge in a bowl of cold water and ice cubes for 15 to 30 minutes, then use a slotted spoon or your hands to lift them out of the water and drain.

Meanwhile, cut the brisket into 4 equal pieces. Season generously with salt and pepper on both sides.

Pour 2 tablespoons of the oil into the slow cooker, then add the leeks; cover and turn on high.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron or nonstick) over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the brisket pieces and brown on all sides, turning as needed.

Transfer to the slow cooker, then add the pomegranate molasses, water, dates, garlic and cayenne pepper; cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 6 to 7 hours, or until the brisket is quite tender. Check it about halfway through and reposition the pieces so that they are coated and close to submerged in the liquid.

Once the meat is done, transfer the pieces to a cutting board. Increase the heat to high; if you’d like a non-chunky sauce, use an immersion (stick) blender to puree the slow cooker mixture until fairly smooth. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the sauce is slightly reduced. Taste and add salt and/or pepper and more pomegranate molasses, as needed.

Meanwhile, slice the meat as you wish and arrange it on a platter. Pour the sauce over the top; garnish with pomegranate seeds, if using. Serve warm.

]]> 0 with Leeks and Pomegranate Molasses and Honeyed Carrot Salad with Squash and Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette both have ingredients that are meaningful for Rosh Hashanah.Tue, 19 Sep 2017 20:34:27 +0000
‘Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables’ brings joy, not virtue, to vegetables Wed, 20 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables.” By Joshua McFadden with Martha Holmberg. Artisan. $35.

When I picked up “Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables,” I mistakenly assumed it would be another take on fresh and healthy eating – I strongly suspected it might lean heavily to the “fresh-healthy” spectrum, even dip into vegan-adjacent.

I couldn’t have been further off-point.

“Six Seasons” focuses on vegetables, but it is not a vegetarian cookbook. In fact, one could argue aside from the fact that it features vegetables, many of the recipes – full of cheese, oil and fatty meat like sausage – aren’t even terribly good for you.

But they are terribly good, and “Six Seasons” offers an exuberant, engaging approach to vegetables.

Chef and author Joshua McFadden, who owns Ava Gene’s, a Roman-style restaurant in Portland, Oregon, cooked and learned at high-end kitchens in New York, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay area. And for two years he worked on Four Season Farm near Castine, the year-round farm owned by renowned gardeners Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch.

“It was experience that marked me indelibly,” McFadden writes in the introduction to “Six Seasons.” “The sign on the dirt road that leads to the farm reads ‘Real farming, real food.’ When I took that dirt road on my first day, it was a big step toward understanding food in a whole new way, truly understanding the process of transforming a tiny seed into food that not only nourishes but delights, a process about the cycles of life that was life-changing for me.”

As its title suggests, seasonality is a key feature of McFadden’s book, which he wrote with Martha Holmberg, a former editor and publisher of Fine Cooking and former food editor at the Oregonian.

The book is divided into seasons, with summer split in three – early, mid- and late. The intent is to highlight the vegetables available, give some general cooking pointers, and four or five recipes for each.

None of the vegetables in the book would be unfamiliar to a Maine backyard gardener, anyone who has visited a local farmers market or who gets a weekly CSA collection of vegetables.

Eating through the seasons this way is really fun, and the book’s wealth of varied and inventive preparations is especially helpful right now, when Maine’s cornucopia of vegetable offerings is on full display. Unsure what to do with the pounds of zucchini overflowing your crisper? Try a squash and “tuna melt” casserole, McFadden’s take on the classic home-style dinner. Bored with steaming spring asparagus? Try it sautéed with garlic scapes, pea shoots, poached eggs and Pecorino cheese.

“Six Seasons” also includes a handy guide to quick-pickling solutions that can stretch the bounty further and a short, but utilitarian, breakdown of sauces, dips and dressings like pine nut vinaigrette, spicy fish-sauce sauce and pickled vegetable mayonnaise.

Though the recipes have no particular unifying theme, many are influenced by Italian cuisine. That holds true for Rigatoni with Broccoli and Sausage. It’s the kind of dish that shows off the parts of the book I liked the best. It’s a hearty, flavorful dish that doesn’t shy away from plenty of cheese and meaty sausage flavor, yet still manages to keep the broccoli front and center.

It also includes a couple of clever cooking tricks – cooking sausage as patties, not crumbled, and adding broccoli directly to the cooking pasta. The book’s recipes are full of such little asides and tips that I plan to use in my own recipes.

Overall, “Six Seasons,” a hardcover book, is a joy, full of bright watercolors of vegetables and fun, colored page edges for each season. With more than 250 recipes over nearly 400 pages, “Six Seasons” manages to feel comprehensive without sacrificing delight and humor. Case in point – on the next to last page, McFadden leaves a short message:

P.S. Don’t buy tomatoes in winter.

Love, Joshua.



Serves 4

3 to 4 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, bulk or casings removed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces rigatoni

1 pound broccoli, stems trimmed and peeled, stems sliced crosswise into 1/4 inch coins, and tops cut into florets

1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes

1/2 cup whipped ricotta (see recipe)

About 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiana-Reggiano

1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs

Put the garlic in a small bowl and pour over enough olive oil to cover. Shape the sausage into 4 balls, then flatten them like hamburger patties.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt until it tastes like the sea. Add the pasta and cook just shy of al dente, according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat a small glug of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage patties and cook until nicely browned on one side, about 4 minutes.

Add the broccoli coins and the sliced garlic, including the oil, to the skillet. Flip the sausage patties and keep cooking until the sausage is just about fully cooked (it’s OK if it’s a touch pink in the center, because it will continue to cook a bit), another 4 minutes or so. Break up the sausage with a spoon into bite-sized chunks. Add the chili flakes and cook for 30 seconds or so.

With a ladle or a measuring cup, scoop out about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water, add it to the pan to stop the cooking of everything, and slide the pan from the heat.

About 3 minutes before the pasta should be al dente, add the broccoli florets and cook all together, until the pasta is ready. Scoop out another cup of the pasta cooking water, drain the pasta and broccoli, and add to the skillet.

Return skillet to the heat. Add 1/4 cup or so of the pasta water, the whipped ricotta, and half of the Parmigiana. Shake the pan to combine the ingredients, put back over medium heat, and cook for a couple of minutes to warm everything through and make a nice saucy consistency.

Serve with more Parmiagiano and top with the breadcrumbs.


11/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Put the ricotta, salt and 20 twists of pepper in a food processor and start to process. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream. Pause and scrape down the sides if needed. The mixture should get lovely and creamy.

Taste it and adjust with more salt, pepper or even a bit more olive oil – you should be able to taste the oil as well as the ricotta.

Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

]]> 0, 19 Sep 2017 17:53:35 +0000
Pork schnitzel with cucumber salad is a tailor-made weeknight meal Wed, 06 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Schnitzels are often made with veal or chicken, but pork is a great alternative. Pounding out the cutlets makes them even thinner and more tender, so they cook up quickly, perfect for a weeknight meal. And there’s that irresistible crunch from the Panko bread-crumb coating. This is one of those heartening dishes that’s popular with both kids and adults.

The tangy, quickly pickled cucumbers and onions make a great counterpoint to the lightly fried pork cutlets. You could definitely use dried dill instead of fresh if it’s easier.

Also, yes, they’re called seedless cucumbers, but of course there are still a nominal amount of seeds in them. Removing the seeds gives the salad a nicer texture, and helps reduce any wateriness in the salad.

A little tip: Double the cucumber salad next time you are serving a bagel and smoked salmon spread – it’s a great side for a brunch of any sort, especially as a foil to smoked fish.


Serves 2 to 4


1 seedless cucumber, peeled if desired

1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon minced fresh dill (preferable) or 1 teaspoon dried dill

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


41/2-inch (4 ounce) thick boneless pork chops

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup whole milk

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 teaspoons finely minced fresh thyme

2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise, use a teaspoon to scoop out the seeds, and slice the cucumbers into thin half-moons.

Place the sliced cucumber and the onion in a colander and toss with the salt. Let sit for 10 minutes, then rinse the cucumber and onion in very cold water and, using your hands, squeeze the vegetables to remove as much water as possible. Place the cucumber mixture in a clean dishtowel, roll up, and twist and squeeze to remove as much water as possible again.

In a serving bowl, stir together the vinegar, sugar, dill and pepper. Add the cucumber and onion and toss to combine. Hold in the fridge.

Place each pork chop between two pieces of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin (or bottle of wine) to gently pound the pork chops until they are of an even thickness.

Place the flour in a shallow bowl, the milk in another shallow bowl, and the Panko bread crumbs in a third shallow bowl. Season the flour and the milk lightly with salt and pepper. Stir the thyme into the Panko.

Season the pork lightly with salt and pepper, then dip each piece into the flour, shaking off any excess, and then into the milk, then the Panko, pressing so that the bread crumbs adhere to the pork. Place the breaded pork on a plate or wire rack.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet until hot. Cook the pork for about 3 minutes on each side until golden brown and just cooked through; you will probably need to do this in at least two batches, adding more oil for the second batch as needed.

When the pieces of pork are cooked, place them briefly on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Serve with the Quick Pickley Cucumber Salad.

]]> 0, 05 Sep 2017 18:20:45 +0000
Serve spicy sauteed fish with pineapple mango salsa Wed, 06 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 When it comes to landing dinner on the table on a weeknight, fish fillets are among the very quickest dishes you can prepare, rarely requiring more than five minutes to go from raw to ready to eat. And given the relative mildness of a fish’s flavor, they’re a natural canvas for a vast palette of seasonings.

For Spicy Sauteed Fish with Pineapple Mango Salsa, white fish fillets are dusted with flour spiked with Creole spice mix, after which they’re crisped up in a skillet. The famously potent spice mix – spearheaded by cayenne and black pepper – is built into the DNA of Louisiana cuisine. Virtually all of New Orleans’ Hall of Fame chefs – including Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse – developed signature versions of this mix and used it liberally and to great effect in just about everything they cooked.

Fair warning: If you’re not a fan of blazing heat, you won’t be a fan of Creole spice mix. Unless, of course, you balance it with one key ingredient – sugar. Sugar will balance any spicy dish.

In this recipe, the fiery Creole spice mix is countered by the natural sugars built into the pineapple mango salsa. The additional herbs and fresh lime contribute some festive end-of-summer flair to this weeknight entree.


Servings: 4

3/4 cup finely diced pineapple

3/4 cup finely diced mango

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, soaked in ice water for 20 minutes and patted dry

2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or cilantro or a mix

Kosher salt

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons creole spice mix (recipe below) or store-bought, such as Zatarains

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Four 6-ounce firm-fleshed white fish fillet pieces, such as tilapia

In a bowl combine the pineapple, mango, onion, lime juice and herbs; add salt to taste.

On a piece of parchment, combine the flour and the spice mix; stir well. In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Dip the fish in the flour mixture, coating it well on all sides, shaking off the excess, and add it to the skillet. Cook it until golden brown, about 2 minutes a side and transfer a portion to each of 4 plates. Top each portion with a heaping spoonful of salsa.


2 teaspoons hot paprika

11/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon onion powder

3/4 teaspoon cayenne

3/4 teaspoon oregano

3/4 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together well.

]]> 0, 05 Sep 2017 18:25:29 +0000
An ode to salsa: America’s new favorite condiment, prepared three ways Wed, 06 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Goodbye, McDonald’s. Hello, Chipotle.

It has been some years now since salsa overtook ketchup as America’s favorite condiment. Americans buy more tortillas than hamburger or hot dog buns and more tortilla chips than potato chips.

Mexican food – or at least Tex-Mex, which is one narrow slice of the giant pie that is Mexican cuisine – has become assimilated. It is now so popular that a lot of people no longer even think of it as Mexican anymore; it is just American.

The all-American foods they supplanted, hamburgers and hot dogs, were once considered ethnic, too.

In celebration of this Americanization of Mexican food – but really just because fresh tomatoes are so good and abundant right now – I decided to take a look at salsa.

I didn’t want to do anything too fancy. This time out I wanted to stick with the basics.

Peach salsa is fine, but most people aren’t going to make it more than once or twice a decade, if that. Mango salsa is also special, but I’ll bet it is made even less often than peach salsa.

I made one green salsa, one white and one red. Those are the colors of the Mexican flag. True, the white salsa isn’t exactly white, but it has a lot of white in it in the form of chopped onion. So green, white and red salsas is my story, and I’m sticking with it.

Green salsa, salsa verde, can be served either cooked or raw. Raw salsa verde has a brighter, fresher taste, but I prefer the subtle complexity of the cooked green salsa.

Green salsa, of course, begins with tomatillos, those husk-covered green fruits that resemble tomatoes (they’re both members of the nightshade family, but so are potatoes and eggplants). If you have never cooked with them, there is no need to panic. You simply pull off the husk and give them a good rinse.

Cook the tomatillos in water with a white onion, garlic and small, thin serrano chiles. I started with just one serrano with the seeds removed (much of the heat is concentrated in the seeds), but that wasn’t hot enough for my taste, so I added another serrano with its seeds. That was just right for me, but a little too ebullient for some of the taste testers.

The secret of this salsa verde is that the vegetables are pureed with the water in which they are cooked. It takes less than 45 minutes to make from start to finish, and the result is absolutely spectacular. I’d say it is the best salsa I’ve ever made. It is a warming, earthy and multifaceted taste sensation.

For my white salsa – well, sort of white – I made pico de gallo. It is perhaps the most basic of all salsas, but it creates a tremendous amount of flavor out of very little effort.

To make a pico de gallo, all you have to do is chop up a couple of tomatoes, a sweet onion, some jalapeño, a bit of garlic, a sprinkling of cilantro and a splash of lime.

Add salt to taste and you will end up with a salsa that will make you a hit at any party. Your friends will ask you to make it again and again – which is fine, because it’s so easy.

For my genuinely red salsa, I used a recipe given to me a few years ago by a former colleague, Olivia Herrera. Olivia is a truly superb cook, and she showed me two tricks to making salsa that brings out the very best of the ingredients.

The first is diversity. Olivia (and now I) use three different kinds of peppers to give the salsa a multiplicity of flavors – a spicy serrano, a couple of mild Anaheims and a trusty jalapeño.

The other trick is roasting. Before pureeing her ingredients, she puts her peppers, tomatoes, garlic and onions on a pan over medium heat and cooks them until they are charred and blistered on all sides. By that point, they are cooked through. You just remove the skins and puree the tomatoes, peppers and garlic and blend them all together until the salsa becomes the consistency you like (I like mine just a little bit chunky).

Then you simply stir in the cooked onions, along with optional cilantro and salt.

The salsa is out of this world. It will be unlike any other you’ve ever had. No wonder salsa is so popular.


Yield: About 36 ounces

1 pound tomatillos

1 medium white onion, quartered

1 to 3 serrano peppers, seeds removed (if desired) for less heat

4 garlic cloves

12 sprigs of cilantro

2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon salt

Pull the husks from the tomatillos and rinse to remove sticky residue. Place tomatillos, onion, peppers and garlic in a large pot and just cover with water. Bring water and ingredients to a boil, lower the temperature and simmer for 10 minutes.

Transfer the cooked ingredients to a blender, along with the cilantro and 2 cups of the cooking liquid. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. If too thick, add more cooking liquid until desired texture.

Add 2 tablespoons oil to the pot on high heat. Pour the blended salsa into the pot. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the salt and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Adapted from


Yield: About 5 cups

2 large tomatoes, chopped

1 cup sweet onion, chopped

1/2 jalapeño, or to taste, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Juice from 2 to 3 lime wedges

Salt to taste

Mix together all ingredients. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.


Yield: About 1 quart

1 serrano pepper

2 Anaheim peppers

1 jalapeño pepper

6 to 10 tomatoes, mixed, regular and Roma (plum)

3 garlic cloves, unpeeled

1/2 large onion, sliced in rings

Fresh cilantro, optional


Place a large skillet or skillets over medium heat. Add the peppers, tomatoes, garlic and onions (you may wish to do this in batches). Cook, turning frequently, until they soften and the skin begins to blister all over. When cool enough to touch, peel and discard the skins. If less spicy heat is desired, remove some or all of the seeds from the peppers.

Place the peppers, tomatoes and garlic in a blender or food processor and blend until the salsa reaches your desired texture. Chop the onions and add, along with the optional cilantro. Salt to taste.

]]> 0 de Gallo.Tue, 05 Sep 2017 21:01:38 +0000
Peach cake punctuates a meal perfectly Wed, 06 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Say “good” and the antonym shoots back “bad.” That’s the sort of word it is: oppositional, defiant, difficult. It must be tough on the thesaurus, parenting a pack of antonyms.

The synonym, on the other hand, plays well with others. Say “good” and it chimes in with pleasing, lovely, delightful. Warming to the subject, it goes on: ripe peaches on a sunny afternoon, sliced over buttery batter, baked up sticky sweet. Perhaps a spritz of lemon, a spatter of sugar, a shake of cinnamon.

And here, the grammatically correct cook pauses. She savors cinnamon, practically a homonym for synonym, and shorthand for perfect finish to the perfect dessert.


Makes 8 servings

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (plus more for pan)

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons plus 2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 (or more) ripe peaches, pitted, sliced into 1/2-inch crescents

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. In a large measuring cup, briefly whisk together eggs and vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Drop the butter into a mixer bowl, beat fluffy, about 1 minute. Cascade in the remaining 2 cups sugar; beat fluffy, about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in egg mixture and beat fluffy, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Slide in flour mixture and beat on low speed just to combine. Scrape bowl one more time and beat a few seconds to erase any streaks.

Scrape cake batter into buttered pan; smooth top. Arrange peaches over the batter, gently pressing them in a bit. Sprinkle with lemon juice, then cinnamon sugar. Bake until cake turns light brown and is set (poke with a toothpick, it should come out clean), 50 to 55 minutes. Enjoy warm or room temperature.

]]> 0, 05 Sep 2017 18:02:52 +0000
For fast meals in a pan, made in three or four steps, turn to Good Housekeeping’s ‘Skillet Suppers’ Wed, 06 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Good Housekeeping’s “Skillet Suppers: 65 Delicious Recipes.” Hearst Books. $16.95.

I think I was in my 30s before I even turned on an oven.

When it came to my early culinary education, the stovetop ruled, and that mostly meant single-pan suppers – in large part because I didn’t have a dishwasher.

There was a lot of trial and error along the way in the form of burnt garlic, raw-in-the-middle meat and pan sauces reduced to a thimble’s worth of sticky syrup, but I’m now fairly adept at knowing when to add ingredients at what temperatures to produce a quick, complete and low-maintenance meal.

That said, my repertoire has gotten a little tired, so I was excited to come upon Good Housekeeping’s “Skillet Suppers.” My kind of cooking, I thought and laughed to myself when the first page I turned to was a picture of white wine and mushroom chicken cutlets, served with sauteed broccoli rabe – pretty much my signature meal.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t have a lot to learn from this 1/2-inch-thick title on making the most of the oh-so-versatile skillet, starting with a guide to different kinds of pans, including the pros and cons of cooking with nonstick (easy to clean but can’t sear), stainless steel (sleek but food sticks) and cast iron (ages well but heats slowly). From there, the collection of 65 recipes is broken down into steaks and chops, chicken, fish, meatless main courses and sweets.

Aside from a couple dishes that require baking, all of the recipes take less than an hour to make with most around a half-hour and some as few as 15 minutes. Almost all serve four people.

The lists of ingredients tend to hover around 10 items, give or take a few, and after purchasing the protein, produce and fresh herbs, you’re likely to have the rest in your pantry. Some complicate the recipe, as they require preparation on their own or purchasing pre-made, such as cooked rice, marinara sauce and shredded chicken.

Generally, though, the cooking instructions are just three or four steps. In addition, several include a “tip” at the end that troubleshoots the recipe or offers an alternative preparation. For example, Spanish noodles with shrimp and peas can be made with vermicelli instead of fideos, you can cut the carbs in the taco hero recipe by substituting rolls with Boston lettuce leaves, and make sure to use extra-thick tortilla chips for the chicken chilaquiles.

While some recipes are truly one-pan meals, like the baked pepper jack–quinoa skillet (a casserole with broccoli) and the veggie supreme pizza, others use the skillet to make the filling for a dish, like with barbecue chicken and cheddar burgers or bean- and corn-stuffed sweet potatoes.

The recipe I chose to make, crunchy salmon with lemony squash salad, uses the skillet twice to make the dish’s two disparate elements.

First, ribbons of zucchini and half-moons of yellow squash are slightly cooked in a couple tablespoons of water boiled in the skillet, an interesting technique I’d never used that keeps the vegetables crunchy and tastes healthier than sauteeing, even though oil is added to the mixture later, along with honey, lemon and dill, giving the side dish a slight, but bright flavor.

The technique used to cook the salmon is also unusual, creating a crust on one side of the fish using sourdough bread. I found the instructions for cutting the bread confusing, but eventually got the gist that it was just about flattening and shaping a section of the soft inside of the bread to fit the bottom of the fillet – literally, whatever way you slice it.

The crusted fish is first cooked, bread side down, in the skillet, then flipped over to finish. The cooking time was right on the mark, and the resulting golden crust added a great crunch to the dish.

Warning: You’ll have a lot of leftover bread, if you buy a standard-sized boule. I’d only recommend making this recipe if you already have the bread on hand or can make good use of the rest. I wonder if it would work with other kinds of bread and other kinds of fish or if the bread was slightly stale. In those cases, this technique could come in handy when you want to use up bread but don’t feel like making breadcrumbs.

Overall, the dish didn’t have a ton of flavor, but was tasty enough and taught me new ways to use my trusty skillet. And although it had a few more steps than my standby one-pan meals, it was just as easy to make and quick to clean up.

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

Twitter: lesliebridgers


Serves 4

1 round loaf country or sourdough bread (7- to 8-inch diameter)

4 center-cut pieces salmon fillet (6 ounces each, skin removed)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 large zucchini, trimmed

1 large yellow squash, cut into very thin half-moons

1/2 teaspoon honey

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

1 lemon

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Fresh dill sprigs, for garnish

1. With serrated knife, cut top off bread. Cut two horizontal 1/2-inch thick slices from loaf, then cut off crusts. With rolling pin, roll slices to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut each slice in half and trim to match dimensions of skinned sides of salmon fillets. Reserve leftover bread for another use. Sprinkle salmon with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Press 1 bread slice onto skinned side of each fillet.

2. With vegetable peeler, peel zucchini into wide ribbons. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons water to boiling over high heat. Add yellow squash and zucchini; cook for 2 minutes or until just tender, stirring gently. Transfer to large bowl and toss with honey.

3. Wipe skillet dry; heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until hot. Add salmon to skillet in single layer, bread-sides down; cook for 7 minutes or until bread is golden brown. With spatula, carefully turn salmon over and cook for 4 minutes or until just opaque throughout.

4. Meanwhile, from lemon, grate 1/2 teaspoon peel and squeeze 1 tablespoon juice. Gently stir into squash mixture. Stir in dill, remaining 1 teaspoon oil, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

5. To serve, divide salmon and squash mixture among 4 main-dish serving plates. Garnish with dill sprigs.

]]> 0, 05 Sep 2017 21:18:32 +0000
‘Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen’ offers a lively introduction to an unfamiliar cuisine Wed, 30 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen: Traditional Ghanaian recipes re-mixed for the modern kitchen.” By Zoe Adjonyoh. Mitchell Beazley. $29.99

In my kitchen, spatulas double as microphones.

I almost always cook to music. I sing along into my spatula or spoon when I know the words. I dance as I stir.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find a playlist on the pages of “Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen: Traditional Ghanaian Recipes Remixed for the Modern Kitchen” by Zoe Adjonyoh. Early in the book is “A Soundtrack to Cook To,” a list of 27 lively songs by African artists. (This playlist and one other – “A Soundtrack to Eat To” – are available on Spotify.)

“When you want the feeling of being back at home in Ghana, apart from the food itself, having a soundtrack to bring the sights and sounds of everyday Ghanaian life and culture can transform the cooking process from an arduous task into a party in the kitchen,” Adjonyoh writes. “And let’s face it, all parties end up in the kitchen anyway! So settle into this backing track of Ghanaian High-life and Afro-beat to sway your way through cooking and dining, and maybe even bust some Azonto dance moves around the kitchen as you go.”

I pressed play and turned back to the cookbook.

Adjonyoh was born in Ghana but left as a small child. Her father is Ghanaian, and her mother is Irish. The family settled in South East London. Adjonyoh describes the chalé – spicy tomato – sauce her father would make when she was a child. She connected with her heritage through food and taught herself how to cook, building recipes from the dishes of her childhood table and the advice of London’s Ghanaian grocery store owners.

First published in Great Britain by Mitchell Beazley, the cookbook is a friendly introduction to a foreign cuisine. She begins with a guide to ingredients. Her recipes rest on onions, fresh ginger root and chili added to tomatoes, but her helpful descriptions of ingredients likely unknown to American and British cooks take up several pages. She also suggests substitutions and suppliers in London and online. Perhaps it was the catchy rhythm of “Nga Nga” by Ebo Taylor, but as I read, I felt more at ease with the unfamiliar recipes.

The 250 pages in the book are illustrated with photos that made my mouth water, even if I had never heard the name of the dish before. (See Nkruma Nkwan, an okra stew.) Many of the dishes are a fusion of Adjonyoh’s Ghanaian heritage and her experiences in London, like the Goat Ragu that draws inspiration from an Italian friend. Many recipes felt approachable because of their clear instructions and mouth-watering photos, and I chose a recipe for Lamb Cutlets with Peanut Sauce, the sauce Adjonyoh describes as her favorite childhood comfort food.

It took longer to make the dish than I expected. What seemed like a simple recipe actually required two sauces – first I made the spicy Chalé Sauce, which I then used as a base for the peanut sauce. But I didn’t mind the extra work when I dipped my finger into the finished product. It was savory on first taste, then hot and spicy in the back of my throat.

The lamb itself was quick and easy to prepare. A serious amount of cayenne pepper in the marinade gave the meat a kick, which permeated the entire chop. I was delightfully sweaty from the hot summer night, the warmth of my stove top, the delicious heat of the spices and the swing of my hips to “Mansa” by Bisa Kdei.

I am looking forward to visiting one of Portland’s several African markets for some of the ingredients in the book, like the dried ground melon seeds for Spinach & Agushi Curry or the cornmeal banku that look like dumplings, but the spices and peppers I needed for this dish were readily available at my local Hannaford. I found almost-ripe plantains in the produce section – how nice! – so I fried them as a side, a favorite of mine but a rare treat. With Adjonyoh’s easy instructions, I’ll certainly be making them again – while dancing to “Odo” by the Ghanaian hiphop duo R2Bees, of course.

Lamb Cutlets with Peanut Sauce Photo courtesy of Mitchell Beazley


Cooking times for the lamb cutlets will vary depending on their thickness. As a guide, cook for 2-3 minutes if you want your meat pink or 4-5 minutes if you prefer it well-done.

Serves 4

8 lamb cutlets or chops, about 2 cm (3/4-inch) thick

1 recipe Peanut Sauce (see recipe)


3 tablespoons canola oil or groundnut oil

2.5-cm (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger root, finely grated (unpeeled if organic)

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper


A few roughly chopped roasted peanuts

Sprinkle of finely sliced spring onion (scallion)

Place the lamb cutlets or chops in a dish. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, pour over the lamb and rub the mixture thoroughly into the meat, coating it all over. If you have time, cover the dish with plastic wrap and leave to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the peanut sauce, or reheat it if you have premade a batch.

Take the lamb out of the fridge and leave it to return to room temperature for a few minutes while you heat the griddle pan over a high heat until very hot. Add the lamb cutlets or chops – they should sizzle on contact – and then reduce the heat slightly. Cook the meat without disturbing it (see tip), allowing it to sear evenly and obtain even griddle marks, then flip and repeat. (If you move the meat around during the cooking process, it will be likely to stick to the pan and won’t cook evenly.)

Remove the lamb from the pan and leave to rest for 1 minute before transferring to warmed serving plates. Pour 1-2 tablespoons of the peanut sauce over each of the cutlets or chops, then add a little garnish of peanuts and spring onion. Serve with rice and Simple Fried Plantains with a green salad on the side.


Zoe Adjonyoh writes that she often leaves the peanut sauce to simmer for up to 2 hours so that the flavors really infuse, but that 30-40 minutes is good enough.

Makes 850-900 ml (about 11/2 pints)

1 tablespoon groundnut oil

1 onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon extra-hot chili powder

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 garlic clove, crushed

5-cm (2-inch) piece fresh ginger root, grated (unpeeled if organic)

1 red Scotch Bonnet chili, pierced

3 tablespoons crushed roasted peanuts

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

500 ml (18 fl. oz.) uncooked Chalé Sauce (see recipe)

500 ml (18 fl. oz.) good quality vegetable stock

100-200 g (31/2-7 oz.) organic peanut butter, depending on how thick you want the sauce

8 green kpakpo shito (cherry) chilies, or substitute green habanero chilies

Heat the groundnut oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onion and sauté over a medium heat for 2 minutes. Stir in the chili powder and curry powder, then add the garlic, ginger, Scotch Bonnet, crushed peanuts, sea salt and black pepper and stir well – lots of punchy aroma should be rising from the pot at this point.

Stir in the Chalé Sauce and vegetable stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Add the peanut butter 1 tablespoon at a time, while stirring, until it has dissolved, then use an immersion blender to blend all the ingredients to a smooth consistency.

Add the whole kpakpo shito chilies to the sauce and leave to simmer over a low heat for at least a further 30 minutes before serving, or leave to cool and then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Alternatively, freeze for future use. You can simply reheat as much sauce as needed at the time as a side dip, or create a soup by adding diced yams and plaintain or cooking meat in the sauce for a more substantial meal.


Zoe Adjonyoh writes: “This basic recipe is my dad’s everyday cooking sauce. He would whip this up and literally throw in any type of meat, fish or protein, but it was always tasty. You can just blend the ingredients and store the uncooked sauce for later use, or cook it and then leave to cool.”

Makes 500 ml (18 fl. oz.)

400 g (14 oz.) can tomatoes or 250 g (9 oz.) fresh tomatoes

30 g (1 oz.) or 2 tablespoons tomato purée

1 onion, roughly chopped

5-cm (2-inch) piece fresh ginger root, grated (unpeeled if organic)

1 red Scotch Bonnet chili, deseeded

1 tablespoon dried chili flakes

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 garlic cloves (optional)


1 tablespoon sunflower oil

1 onion finely diced

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon extra-hot chili powder

Place all the ingredients except the “to cook” ones in a blender and blend together until you have a fairly smooth paste. This is your uncooked chalé sauce.

For cooked chalé sauce, heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onion and sauté over a medium heat for a few minutes until softened. Then add the curry powder and chili powder and stir thoroughly to coat the onion evenly. Add the blended tomato mixture and simmer gently for 35-40 minutes.

Use straight away, or leave to cool then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for future use.

]]> 0 Cutlets with Peanut SauceTue, 29 Aug 2017 17:18:20 +0000
A menu well-suited for Dad: sausage for breakfast, lunch and dinner Wed, 30 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 I’ve devised a food day that will surely please my father on his 89th birthday. A long-retired butcher, my dad has marked many special occasions making and cooking sausage. From the family’s paprika and garlicky Hungarian pork sausage, to grilled veal bratwurst and thuringer buried in sauerkraut, the man enjoys it all.

It’s not difficult to enjoy the rich, flavorful indulgence of sausage all day long – morning to night.

Start the day with a skillet breakfast with sliced sausages or whole browned sausages served alongside. For lunch, another one-skillet meal. The recipe here features farmers market cabbages, tangy sauerkraut and full-bodied kielbasa. After a stroll in the park, we’ll sip a glass of wine while munching on peppered salami (remember, it’s a sausage, too) that’s been crisped in a moderate oven.

Sausage, highly seasoned minced meat mixed with a bit of fat, typically gets stuffed into casings made from cleaned animal intestines. Occasionally, I make my own blend and unearth the sausage stuffer from the cabinet. Mostly, I simply cook the seasoned meat, sans added fat and casings, over moderately high heat to render it moist and delicious.

For dinner, a free-form, casing-free sausage made from freshly ground lamb, Kalamata olives and plenty of fresh herbs comes together quickly. Serve the lamb sausage with a robust tomato dipping sauce and a side of basmati rice. Or, remove the sausage from skewers and serve it wrapped in warm pitas topped with the tomato sauce and paper thin slices of cucumber.

It’s a menu a dad could love.


Use coconut aminos (available at Whole Foods or on the internet) to season the dipping sauce if you are avoiding soy. Serve the kebabs with basmati rice, or try cauliflower rice sauteed with garlic, cumin, salt and crushed red pepper flakes.

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium leek, trimmed, halved, rinsed, chopped

1 can (28 ounces) unsalted crushed tomatoes, undrained

4 cloves garlic, crushed

3 tablespoons coconut aminos or 1 or 2 tablespoons soy sauce

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint


1 egg

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (see note)

1/3 cup finely chopped pitted Kalamata olives

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Finely grated zest of half a lemon

1 pound ground lamb

Immerse six 12-inch-long bamboo or wooden skewers in a dish full of water; let soak about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and leek. Cook and stir until leek is softened and a bit golden on the edges, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; transfer half of the leek to a bowl.

Add the tomatoes to the leek remaining in the skillet. Put over medium heat, and stir in half of the garlic, the coconut aminos (or soy), cumin and red pepper flakes. Simmer until thickened to the consistency of ketchup, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in mint, taste for seasoning, adding salt as needed. Cool.

Stir egg, breadcrumbs, olives, parsley, remaining garlic, lemon zest, lamb and 1 teaspoon salt into the leek in the bowl. Use clean hands to mix lightly until mixture is homogenous. Shape about 1/4 cup of the meat mixture into a log about 1 inch in diameter and 3 inches long. Repeat to make 12 sausage logs. Run a skewer through the long ends of the logs, putting 2 on each skewer. Place the skewers on an oiled, perforated broiler pan or rack set over a baking sheet. (Uncooked sausages can be refrigerated up to several hours.)

Heat oven to 400 degrees on convection or 425 degrees conventional. Cook skewered sausages, turning once, until the juices run clear, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. Serve hot with the tomato sauce on the side for dipping.

Note: If desired, substitute gluten-free old-fashioned oats for the breadcrumbs. Simply put the oats into a food processor and process with on/off turns to chop them finely before using.


Change up this recipe as you see fit, using cooked vegetables, various sausage flavors and greens as you like and have on hand. Cooked, diced potato (or sweet potato) makes a great addition. Warm cornbread muffins are great accompaniments.

Makes: 3 to 4 servings

1/4 cup olive oil

1 pound sliced mushrooms

3 green onions, trimmed, thinly sliced

4 links fully cooked spicy Italian chicken sausage

1 cup chopped raw asparagus or chopped cooked broccoli

2 cups (about 3 ounces) baby kale, spinach or arugula

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 large eggs

Red pepper hot sauce

Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, mushrooms and onions. Cook and stir until mushrooms are tender and nicely golden on the edges, about 10 minutes.

Push the mushrooms to one side of the pan and add the sausages. Cook, turning, until the sausages are heated through and golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer sausages to a plate.

Stir the asparagus, kale and salt into the mushrooms. Cook and stir over medium heat to lightly wilt the kale. Then use a spoon to make 6 indentations in the vegetable mixture. Crack an egg into each indentation. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan and cook until egg whites turn opaque and yolks are barely set, about 5 minutes.

Use a flexible spatula to transfer a nest of vegetables and egg to serving plates. Serve with the sausages and hot sauce.


Makes: 4 to 6 servings

3 tablespoons bacon fat or olive oil

1 large (10 ounces) sweet onion, chopped

1 half head (about 10 ounces total) of savoy cabbage, cored, cut into 1-inch pieces, about 6 cups

4 to 6 leaves lacinato kale, cores removed, leaves cut into 1-inch pieces, about 3 cups

2 red poblano or Anaheim peppers (or 1 small red bell pepper), cored, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound refrigerated sauerkraut, drained, well-rinsed, drained again

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

Freshly cracked black pepper

12 ounces uncured fully cooked kielbasa, cut on bias into 1/2-inch slices

2 tablespoons each, chopped: parsley, chives

Heat a large (12-inch) deep nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon fat or oil, onion, cabbage, kale, red peppers and salt. Cook until cabbage and kale are wilted and tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in sauerkraut; cook and stir 5 minutes.

Stir in garlic, mustard, horseradish and pepper to taste; cook 2 minutes. Stir in sausage. Cook and stir until heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with herbs and serve.


Arrange a single layer of thinly sliced peppered salami on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Place in a 325-degree oven until heated through and glazed, about 10 minutes. Let cool on the rack; salami will crisp as it cools. Serve at room temperature.

]]> 0 and Kalamata olive sausages are formed by hand then skewered for cooking. Serve them with a minted tomato sauce.Tue, 29 Aug 2017 17:55:02 +0000
Tangy orange dip a gallant escort for late-summer fruit Wed, 30 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Late summer fruit is perhaps my favorite. Berries are juicy and sweet, in their last flourish before slipping away into elite and expensive status. Peaches and plums are soft and caramel-like in flavor. Even the humble pebbly-skinned cantaloupe boasts rich orange flesh and syrupy-sweet flavor.

Like most in-season produce, it is least inexpensive this time of year, which makes my wallet happy. I’ll admit: I almost always overbuy late summer fruit. Perhaps it’s the threat of my favorites disappearing, or maybe it’s the great prices and vitamin supply. But now is the time when I find myself serving fruit plates to my family to finish every meal, and I reach for a basket of berries for snacking. Dessert for summer barbecues almost always star sweet fresh fruit.

The perfect addition to your fruit repertoire is today’s incredibly easy Tangy Orange Fruit Dip. It has only three ingredients, so it’s whipped up in seconds, not minutes. And it’s healthy enough that if you end up eating a whole recipe yourself, you’ll still feel great, and celebrate the big boost of protein you just had. (This might be the voice of experience.)

The base of the dip is low-fat plain Greek yogurt, which gives it tang, and the aforementioned protein. Simply stir in a surprise ingredient: orange juice concentrate. A little goes a long way, but this sweet gem of an ingredient magically transforms acidic yogurt into a tangy-sweet delight that brings out the best in ripe, almost-oversweet fruit. Add some finely chopped fresh mint leaves, and you have an unbeatable combination that will complement your late summer fruit stash.

Tangy Orange Fruit Dip with Fresh Mint Melissa d'Arabian via AP


Serves 6

Start to finish: 5 minutes

3/4 cup 2 percent plain Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons thawed orange juice concentrate

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

3 cups halved strawberries, or other berries or cut fruit

Stir the yogurt and orange juice concentrate together in a small bowl. Top with the mint. Serve with fruit for dipping, or spoon on fruit for eating with a spoon.

Nutrition information per serving: 49 calories; 7 calories from fat; 1 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 2 mg cholesterol; 10 mg sodium; 8 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 3 g protein.

]]> 0 Orange Fruit Dip with Fresh MintTue, 29 Aug 2017 17:31:53 +0000
Maine Ingredient: Time’s ripe to ditch the cob mentality Wed, 23 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 When you’ve had your fill of fresh local corn on the cob, you might like to try this corn pudding – a recipe that I keep honing and tweaking and have (hopefully) now perfected. I purée half the kernels, boosting the corn flavor as well as helping to thicken the pudding, then add seasonings, eggs, and a little flour and then cook the mixture some before it goes into the oven. Cheese and cream add richness. It’s a terrific side dish with anything grilled or it can be turned into a substantial-enough main dish by using one of these variations.


To cut corn off the cob, stand the ear on its flat end and use a large knife to cut off kernels. A few kernels will no doubt go flying around the kitchen. This pudding is best with fresh corn, but you can substitute frozen corn kernels in a pinch and shorten the pre-cooking by a couple of minutes.

Serves 4–5 as a side dish

3 cups corn kernels (cut from 3 to 4 ears)

2 tablespoons butter

½ cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 cup half-and-half

3 large eggs

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 1-quart baking dish.

In a food processor, puree half the corn kernels.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan or deep skillet. Add the onion and cook over medium-high heat until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the whole corn kernels and corn purée and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Sprinkle on the flour and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes. Add the half-and-half, raise heat to high, and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes until bubbly and thickened. In a small bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk about 1 cup of the corn mixture into the eggs to temper them, then whisk the egg mixture back into the mixture in the pan. Stir in the cheese and season with the sugar, salt, pepper and cayenne. Scrape into the prepared dish. (Can be made up to 2 hours ahead and held, covered, at cool room temperature.)

Place the baking dish in a larger pan and fill halfway up the sides with boiling water to make a water bath. Bake in the preheated oven until a knife inserted about two-thirds of the way to the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm from the baking dish.


Use a Mexican cheese blend or pepper Jack cheese and add ½ cup roasted and diced peppers such as poblanos or Anaheims for a Southwestern variation.

 Spread a thin layer of cooked greens (spinach or any other) in the bottom of the baking dish and add 1 cup diced ham to make a dish with a Southern flavor.

 Use shredded pizza cheese and add a clove of minced garlic, ¾ cup of small-diced pepperoni and 3 tablespoons slivered basil for an Italian twist.

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, 22 Aug 2017 21:51:21 +0000
Go ahead: Dive into the veggie noodle world with ‘zoodles’ Wed, 23 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Vegetable “noodles” are super trendy, and summer is the best time to make them since the king of veggie noodle – zucchini – is ubiquitous, and inexpensive.

Go ahead and load up, because zucchini is a true powerhouse of vitamins. One cup provides over a third of your daily vitamin C, and about 10 percent of five additional vitamins and minerals, and weighs in at under 20 calories.

While “zoodles” are easily the most popular noodle, noodles can be made from a variety of vegetables. Try other summer squashes, winter squash such as butternut, beet, carrot, sweet potato, and parsnips. Veggie noodles are easy to make, too. You can buy an inexpensive spiralizer to make quick work of cutting perfectly-shaped noodles.

Or, you can even use your vegetable peeler to shave long, thin ribbons from your vegetables; no special equipment needed. Cooking the noodles is quick: usually by steaming or sauteeing briefly. Some veggies, like summer squash, can be left completely raw if you want, and made into a cold summer noodle-like salad.

If you have been seeking the perfect recipe to dip your toe in the veggie noodle world, today’s recipe is perfect. Sunshine Vegetable Ribbons can be made in mere minutes using only a vegetable peeler and a pan as equipment. The flavors are bright and familiar: a little garlic, lemon, toasted pine nuts and nutty parmesan cheese.

Sunshine Vegetable Ribbons. Melissa d'Arabian via AP

Serve this as a pretty first course, as a side dish or even as a vegetarian main course with a thick slice of crusty Italian bread on the side. Once you’ve mastered the vegetable peeler noodle, get creative and explore the endless options for this new technique, swapping in vegetables for pasta in your favorite recipes.


Servings: 4

2 large carrots, peeled

2 crookneck squashes (yellow summer squash)

2 zucchini

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

1 ounce parmesan cheese, shaved into shards with a vegetable peeler

Lemon zest or fresh herbs for garnish, optional

kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Use a vegetable peeler to shave long, thin ribbons (like flat noodles) of the vegetables. (You will likely have a thin core remaining of each vegetable that you’ll have to use for another purpose.)

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the garlic and saute for one minute, until fragrant. Add the vegetable ribbons, a pinch of salt, and stir. Add the lemon juice and cover with a lid for just one minute (or longer if you want very soft ribbons). Remove the lid, and remove from heat.

Serve on four plates, topped with pine nuts, parmesan cheese, black pepper and lemon zest or fresh herbs, if desired.

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