The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram » Recipes http://www.pressherald.com Thu, 25 Aug 2016 11:20:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.5 ‘The Cardamom Trail: Chetna Bakes with Flavours of the East,’ may be a struggle in American kitchens http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/cookbook-review-the-cardamom-trail-chetna-bakes-with-flavours-of-the-east-written-for-british-bakers-may-be-a-struggle-in-american-kitchens/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/cookbook-review-the-cardamom-trail-chetna-bakes-with-flavours-of-the-east-written-for-british-bakers-may-be-a-struggle-in-american-kitchens/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1026734 “The Cardamom Trail: Chetna Bakes with Flavours of the East.” By Chetna Makan. Photographs by Nassima Rothacker. Mitchell Beazley. $29.99

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LYCHEE CAKE

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

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

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

Serves 10-12

400g (14 oz.) canned lychees

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

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

4 large eggs

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

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

1 teaspoon baking powder

FOR THE CARAMEL SAUCE:

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

2 tablespoons water

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

4 tablespoons double cream

FOR THE DECORATION:

300ml (1/2 pint) double cream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let it sit at room temperature before serving.

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

LATE SUMMER SQUASH CHOWDER

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

Makes 4 to 5 servings

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

2 tablespoons butter, plus more if necessary

1 large onion, sliced

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

2 tablespoons flour

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

2 cups half-and-half

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

½ teaspoon salt, plus more if needed

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

1½ tablespoons chopped thyme leaves

1½ tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

Liquid hot pepper sauce

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

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

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

CRISP SALT AND PEPPER BISCUITS

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

Makes about 16 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon table salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in chunks

3 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening, cut in chunks

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

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

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

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

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

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

facebook.com/brookedojny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHILLED WATERMELON-BASIL GAZPACHO

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

Makes 6 servings

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

1 medium heirloom tomato, chopped

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 limes

3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

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

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

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

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

UKRAINIAN SORREL SOUP (SCHAV)

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

Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 pound fresh sorrel leaves, stemmed

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

6 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock, or purchased stock

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 large egg yolks

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 to 4 diced hard-cooked eggs, for garnish

1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, for garnish

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

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

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

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

Chilled Minted Peach and Prosecco Soup

Chilled Minted Peach and Prosecco Soup

CHILLED MINTED PEACH AND PROSECCO SOUP

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

Makes 4 servings

2 pounds fresh peaches, peeled and pitted

11/2 cups dry prosecco

1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

1/2 cup coconut milk

2 tablespoons agave syrup, plus extra if needed

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus extra if needed

4 sprigs mint

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOT WILD ABOUT SAFFRON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STICKING TO HIS RIBEYES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BAKED MAC AND SMOKED CHEESE RECIPE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cburn1227@gmail.com

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http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/moms-cooking-becomes-his-own/feed/ 8 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/1027055_504629-20160817_owenproje3.jpgWed, 24 Aug 2016 08:52:29 +0000
Garden herbs that bolt early still have plenty to offer http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/21/green-plate-special-garden-herbs-that-bolt-early-still-have-plenty-to-offer/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/21/green-plate-special-garden-herbs-that-bolt-early-still-have-plenty-to-offer/#comments Sun, 21 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1020353 Chef, slow food advocate and food writer Deborah Madison waxes poetic in the opening chapter of her “Vegetable Literacy” cookbook about the beautiful flowers a home gardener can enjoy as she looks over her patch of kitchen vegetables and passel of herbs at the season’s end.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/21/green-plate-special-garden-herbs-that-bolt-early-still-have-plenty-to-offer/feed/ 0 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/1020353_71331-20160816_Green-Plate_.jpgFri, 19 Aug 2016 13:34:33 +0000
Doctors throw party to accentuate appeal of Earth-friendly food http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/17/vegan-kitchen-doctors-throw-party-to-accentuate-appeal-of-earth-friendly-food/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/17/vegan-kitchen-doctors-throw-party-to-accentuate-appeal-of-earth-friendly-food/#comments Wed, 17 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1017268 I’ve been to my fair share of parties, and The Taste for Change was the coolest I ever attended.

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

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

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

Fourteen restaurants and food vendors donated to the event.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The other thing no one missed was the meat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLASSIC TOMATO PANZANELLA

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

Makes 6 servings

VINAIGRETTE:

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

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 grinds black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

SALAD:

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

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

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

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

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

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

14 basil leaves, divided

Salt and pepper to taste

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

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

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

CORNBREAD PANZANELLA WITH SPICY CILANTRO RANCH DRESSING

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

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

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

Makes 6 to 8 servings

FOR THE DRESSING:

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

3/4 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons lime juice

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped chives

3 to 4 dashes hot sauce

4 grinds black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

FOR THE SALAD:

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

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 jalapeno, seeds and membranes removed, finely chopped

2 ears corn

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

5 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

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

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

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

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

PEACH BLUEBERRY PANZANELLA WITH LEMON WHIPPED CREAM

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

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

4 tablespoons melted butter

4 ripe peaches

3/4 cup blueberries

2 teaspoons sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

WHIPPED LEMON CREAM:

1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel

2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHILLED BLT SOUP

Makes 4 servings

3 pounds large tomatoes

Kosher salt

2 cups 1/2-inch bread cubes

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

4 slices bacon

1 pound cherry tomatoes, quartered

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Black pepper

1 cup shredded romaine

Preheat oven to 425 F.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COLORFUL SUMMER ROLLS WITH DIPPING SAUCE

Makes 4 servings (8 rolls)

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

FOR THE SAUCE:

1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon chili sauce, such as Sriracha

1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce

1 scallion (white and green parts), thinly sliced

FOR THE ROLLS:

8 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, cooked and chilled

16 medium fresh basil leaves

16 medium mint leaves

1/2 cup shredded carrot

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

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

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

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

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

FOR THE SAUCE:

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

FOR THE ROLLS:

Slice each shrimp in half lengthwise.

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

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

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

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

Serve with the dipping sauce.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EVERY BREATH YOU TIKKA MASALA BURGER

Makes 8 burgers

2 cups basmati rice

3 large potatoes, diced

4 sweet peppers, finely diced

1 hot chili pepper, seeded and finely diced

2 tablespoons butter

Paprika

1 large onion, coarsely diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 (14.5-ounce) cans whole plum tomatoes

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 cup yogurt

2 pounds ground beef or lamb

8 buns

Fresh Thai basil leaves (1 cup)

MAKE THE RICE:

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

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

MAKE THE POTATOES:

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

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

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

MAKE THE MASALA:

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

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

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

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

MAKE THE BURGERS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This recipe is adapted from his classic book.

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

Makes 8 servings

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 onions, chopped

1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

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

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup chopped fresh parsley, divided

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

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

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

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Hot cooked white rice to serve (about 6 cups)

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

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

Turn the flour out of the pan onto a plate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve over white rice.

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

THE BEST BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

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

Makes 12 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour

⅓ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

2 eggs

¾ cup whole or low-fat milk

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Generous 1 cup blueberries

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

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

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

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

BLUEBERRY COBBLER

WITH CORNMEAL BISCUIT

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

Makes 4 to 6 servings

FRUIT LAYER:

1 tablespoon softened butter for the dish

5 cups low-bush Maine blueberries

½ cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon grated lemon zest and 2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

COBBLER DOUGH:

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar

5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in about 10 pieces

⅓ cup whole or low-fat milk

Lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving

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

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

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

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

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

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

facebook.com/brookedojny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24 ounces (1⅔ cups) white rice flour

7½ ounces (2¼ cups) brown rice flour

7 ounces (1⅓ cups) potato starch

3 ounces (¾ cup) tapioca starch (flour)

¾ ounce (3 tablespoons) nonfat milk powder

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

Bring to room temperature before using.

HAMBURGER ROLLS

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

Makes 8 rolls

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

2¼ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

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

6 ounces (2 cups) oat flour

3 tablespoons powdered psyllium husk

2 teaspoons baking powder

1½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

TANDOORI-SPICED CHICKEN SALAD

Makes 4 servings

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

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

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

2 cups no-salt-added chicken broth

Water, as needed

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

1 small clove garlic

¼ teaspoon salt, or more as needed

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

2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon peeled, finely grated fresh ginger root

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

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

⅓ cup fresh cilantro leaves

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve chilled, or at a cool room temperature.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FRUIT SLAB PIE

Makes 24 to 32 servings

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

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

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

FOR THE FILLING:

4 pounds apricots, slightly firm (see headnote)

1 cup sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

Three 3-inch sprigs of lemon verbena (optional)

¼ cup cornstarch

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

FOR THE CRUST:

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

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

1 cup ice water

2 pinches kosher salt

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

2 tablespoons sugar, for sprinkling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Makes 6 popovers

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups milk

2 large eggs (½ cup beaten eggs)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re going to need some inspiration.

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

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

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

Layer in textures and flavors.

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

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

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

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

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

Stebner suggests using a few almost imperceptible sprigs of in-season herbs such as basil, mint, tarragon and parsley; they, too, can add zip to your greens.

Practice your knife skills.

Because raw onion slices the size of the rings of Saturn have no place in your salad.

To make sure every bite has an ideal mix of flavors, cut or tear your ingredients so they’re about the same size, says Stebner. Thinly shave a radish to temper its punch. Dice that onion.

No thick, orange cubes of cheddar cheese, no enormous hunks of roasted Brussels sprouts, no cherry tomatoes tossed in whole. Bite-size cuts will play nicer together.

Kale is (somehow!) still trendy. But not every salad should be a kale salad.

“Lettuce is a main player in a salad,” says Stebner.

He suggests considering flavor and texture when deciding which greens will best complement your starring ingredients. Arugula is flavorful, all peppery bite. Mesclun, tender and neutral. Iceberg is earthy, if otherwise lacking in flavor, but it can provide crunch the others don’t.

If your main ingredient is sweet, as with Stebner’s corn salad, or if you’re making a peach or watermelon salad, arugula’s savory qualities can spice things up. In the raw corn salad, it adds “an herbal, peppery flavor that is going to go against the sweet, ripe flavor of the corn,” says Stebner. “It’s my favorite, because it has so much flavor and so much character.”

And when you’re working with stronger flavors, such as roasted vegetables, and mushier textures, reach for crunchy, mild greens such as gem lettuce and romaine.

OK, now throw in a little kale.

Or better, watercress, chard, or mustard or beet greens.

A salad isn’t an either-or equation. If you’re worried that your delicious salad is also shaping up to be a nutritionally vacuous one, slipping in a few healthful vegetables won’t turn it into a macrobiotic yoga meal only Gwyneth Paltrow could enjoy. Stebner advises mixing up your lettuces, cutting a crowd-pleasing spring mix with a few ragged leaves of kale. The easy-to-digest greens will help the healthful ones seem a little more palatable to your salad-averse friends, plus they can add texture to your salad: In Stebner’s corn salad, arugula brings flavor, but its leaves can quickly go limp. He adds butter lettuce, a sweet, crisp green, to amplify the volume and add bite.

Don’t pile on.

It’s a salad, not a three-ring circus. It’s entirely possible to have too many crunchy, salty and smoky elements doing back flips for any one player in your salad to make an impression. “Adding more ingredients doesn’t improve the flavor, and too many can make it muddy and confusing,” says Stebner.

Make your dressing at home.

Bottled dressings are convenient, but a basic homemade dressing takes only a whisk and a few ingredients probably already on your shelves. Stebner makes a pantry-friendly dressing by mincing garlic to release its flavor and blending it with sherry vinegar, smoked salt and olive oil. “Sherry vinegar is more nuanced,” says Stebner, preferable in the summer to the overused balsamic. In the fall, he suggests trying apple cider vinegar. (It will play nicely with a tart fall apple salad.) To help emulsify the dressing so the oil and vinegar are combined into one rich mix that won’t separate before you’re ready to toss it all together, he loves using an immersion (stick) blender.

n Now, break out the tongs and toss. And keep at it till every leafy green appears coated.

Now is not the time to fret about calories or to defer to your aunt who asks for dressing on the side. Your salad is ready when every element is dressed. Says Stebner: “It doesn’t have to have a ton of dressing. If it’s mixed well, it does the work.”

MARINATED CORN, TOMATO AND HALLOUMI SALAD

This Latin American-inspired salad ups the ante on the ripe, sweet quality of summer vegetables by marinating them briefly. Adding a smoked salt to the dressing imparts a subtle grilled flavor.

To save a cooking step, buy precooked quinoa or wheat berries.

To augment the salad’s Latin American inspiration, add a tablespoon of chopped cilantro.

Adapted from a recipe from Michael Stebner, culinary director at Sweetgreen.

Note: The vegetables need to marinate for 1 hour ahead of time.

FOR THE SALAD:

2 small sweet chili peppers in various colors, seeded and thinly sliced

1/2 poblano pepper, seeded and cut into thin, bite-size pieces

1/2 pint (3/4 cup) cherry tomatoes, each cut in half

Kernels from 2 ears sweet corn

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

One 6-ounce piece halloumi cheese, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 head butter lettuce or Bibb lettuce, washed, dried, and cut or torn into large pieces

4 cups packed arugula, washed and dried

Flesh of 1 large, firm avocado, cut into bite-size chunks

1 cup cooked, cooled quinoa

1 cup cooked, cooled wheat berries

FOR THE DRESSING:

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

1 to 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon smoked salt

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad: Combine the sweet chili peppers, poblano pepper, tomatoes, corn, sherry vinegar and oil in a medium bowl. Season with a pinch each of kosher salt and pepper; toss gently to incorporate. Marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: Combine the garlic, sherry vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes (to taste) and smoked salt in a mixing bowl. Gradually drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly, just long enough to lightly emulsify the dressing.

Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Add the halloumi; cook for about 30 seconds on each side or until browned in spots. The texture should be firm and slightly chewy. Let cool slightly, then cut into bite-size pieces, about the same size as the avocado and cherry tomatoes.

Combine the butter lettuce and arugula, avocado, pan-grilled halloumi pieces, wheat berries, quinoa and the lightly marinated vegetables in a large serving bowl. Gradually pour in the dressing, adding just enough to coat; toss well. (You might not use all the dressing.)

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Ployes find a new audience – vegan eaters http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/vegan-kitchenployes-find-a-new-audience-vegan-eaters/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/vegan-kitchenployes-find-a-new-audience-vegan-eaters/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=996026 Ployes may have a meaty history, but this traditional regional food is steadily gaining vegan street cred.

Made from buckwheat flour, wheat flour, salt and a leavening agent, ployes are a griddle cake associated with the French Acadian communities of eastern Canada and northern Maine. Though traditionally eaten with chicken stew, hot dogs and other meat-based meals, ployes have been embraced by Maine’s vegan community.

They’re also a familiar part of Maine’s natural-food scene. Most health food stores stock the mix made by Bouchard Family Farms in Fort Kent. At Local Sprouts Cooperative Cafe in Portland, the Bouchard Family Farms’ ployes show up on the breakfast menu as a vegan pancake. (The addition of water turns the dry ingredients into a batter.)

They’re a unique Maine product,” said Leslie Hogan, who is a worker-owner at Local Sprouts. “The fact that they are vegan and cholesterol-free and sugar-free and contain no eggs or dairy is also appealing to a lot of our customers.”

Local Sprouts, which focuses on local foods, has served ployes since it opened six years ago, Hogan said, adding, “I don’t think we could take them away.”

Far beyond Portland’s vegan-friendly cafes, Janice Bouchard in Fort Kent said, “We feel the vegan love.”

Bouchard, an owner of Bouchard Family Farms, said the company has brought its ployes to vegetarian festivals in Portland and Boston, where it’s “amazing how many people were attracted to ployes and wanted to know more.”

Here in Maine, many people rely on a packaged mix to make ployes and, in fact, Bouchard Family Farms is often credited with keeping the tradition of ployes alive in the age of microwaves and drive-thrus. I myself grew up in Litchfield with two working parents, who adopted the mix when Bouchard Family Farms introduced it in the early 1980s. Ployes began showing up at our dinner table, stacked and topped with maple syrup, fruits and nuts as a “breakfast for dinner” treat.

A new Maine-made ployes mix is scheduled to hit the market in late summer or early fall. Vassalboro-based Fiddler’s Green Farm is launching a certified organic ployes mix made with Maine-grown tartary buckwheat flour.

“It’s a heritage flour more traditional for northern Maine than the Japanese buckwheat flour that has a larger presence in the market,” said Robert Ericksen, miller and manager at Fiddler’s Green. “The tartary buckwheat’s got a little bit more of a yellowish color, and it’s a lighter flavor.”

Fiddler’s Green, which mills and packages organic porridges, baking mixes and other bulk foods, distributes locally through Crown O’Maine Organic Cooperative and New Hampshire-based Associated Buyers. It also does a brisk trade online, much of it with out-of-staters. Because of its customer base, the company plans to market the product as a flatbread mix, a term Ericksen said is “more accessible to people who don’t know what a ploye is.”

“Up to this point, it’s been a cloistered regional food,” he added.

The Fiddler’s Green team hopes the wording will help broaden the geographic appeal of ployes.

“I like a hearty breakfast, and not eating eggs can be a challenge,” said Beth Gallie, a vegan who has eaten ployes for more than a decade. “Ployes are great because they are tasty, nutritious, very easy to make and do not require eggs.”

Gallie is president of the Maine Animal Coalition, which hosts the annual Vegetarian Food Festival in Portland.

Karen Coker, a vegan and a founder of the Portland-based educational group Plant IQ, likes the pancake’s nutritional qualities.

“Ployes appeal to plant-based eaters because they’re free of eggs and dairy,” Coker said, “and they appeal to Plant IQ’s members because they’re also free of added oil, which we strive to avoid because it’s so calorie-dense and has little nutritional value.”

Plant IQ is a local group associated with the 2015 documentary “Plant Pure Nation,” which advocates for an oil-free, plant-based style of eating.

“Buckwheat is high in essential nutrients and an important group of antioxidants called bound antioxidants,” Coker continued. “Ployes are a great alternative to white flour pancakes and flatbreads, especially when topped with fresh fruits or savory vegetables, instead of loaded with sugary syrups.”

Jennifer McCann of Washington state includes a recipe for ployes in her book “Vegan Lunch Box Around the World: 125 Easy, International Lunches Kids and Grown-Ups Will Love!” as part of her Canadian menu, which also features maple syrup, vegan Canadian bacon, steamed fiddleheads and dried blueberries.

“They’re already vegan, so I didn’t have to do any substituting or veganizing,” McCann said, “and they’re wonderful rolled up and packed with a container of maple syrup for dipping or some baked beans for an on-the-go breakfast or lunch.”

Traditionally, ployes are cooked without flipping them, which creates the distinctive air holes on top, similar to French crepes or Ethopian inerja bread. McCann lets the batter sit for 30 minutes before cooking, as many crepe recipes also suggest. The Bouchard mix sits for just five minutes before it is cooked.

At Local Sprouts, the ployes can look either more puffy and pancakelike or more thin and crepelike, depending on who is cooking and the culinary tricks they employ, Hogan said. But no matter who is behind the spatula, she assured me, Local Sprouts isn’t “making your grandma’s ployes.”

Instead they’re making Acadian Ployes Pancakes, vegan.

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

avery.kamila@gmail.com

PLOYES

This recipe comes from “Vegan Lunch Box Around the World: 125 Easy, International Lunches Kids and Grown-Ups Will Love!” by Jennifer McCann.

Makes 8 ployes

1 cup buckwheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Sift the flours, baking powder and salt together into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add 1½ cups cold water and whisk until smooth. Add ½ cup boiling water and stir to combine.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the batter sit for 30 minutes. Toward the end of that time, begin heating a nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.

Pour ⅓ cup batter onto the hot, ungreased skillet. The batter should be the consistency of cake batter and should spread out on its own to form a thin, round ploye 6 to 7 inches across. If it’s too thick, add extra water to the mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Cook without turning until the bottom is crisp and the top is dry and dotted with large holes, about 2 minutes. Remove from the skillet and serve. Repeat with the remaining batter.

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Daunting at first, ‘Good Things to Drink with Mr. Lyan and Friends’ offers simple cocktail recipes http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/cookbook-review-at-first-glance-some-of-the-recipes-in-good-things-to-drink-with-mr-lyan-and-friends-looked-much-too-complicated/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/cookbook-review-at-first-glance-some-of-the-recipes-in-good-things-to-drink-with-mr-lyan-and-friends-looked-much-too-complicated/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=996041 My first impression of “Good Things to Drink” was that it was pretentious and impractical.

Flipping through the pages, it seemed the recipes were either insultingly simplistic (who needs instructions for making a gin and tonic?) or something that I can’t imagine anyone actually following, other than a bartender at a fancy cocktail lounge – someone like Ryan Chetiyawardana, a celebrated mixologist from London, known by his nickname, Mr Lyan, and the author of this cookbook.

I don’t know about you, but I am not about to bake up some eggplant chips as a garnish for drinks for me and a couple friends.

I picked up the book in the hopes of finding a punch or some other large-batch drink to make during my upcoming vacation, either for entertaining or to keep in a pitcher for whenever I felt like a fun, refreshing cocktail.

I figured there had to be something suitable within the inch-thick hard cover. A quick look through the index, where the book is broken down into several sections from “Market Fresh” to “Winter Feasting,” led me to “Summer Social Sips,” which sounded exactly like what I was seeking.

There was a recipe for a punch that seemed promising, but the main ingredient was apple juice – not my favorite. The following two recipes showed pictures of refreshing-looking drinks in pitchers with lemon rinds, both made with scotch, also not my first choice.

Then, there was a section within the section called “infusions.” I figured I would’ve had to start making these a month in advance, but that wasn’t the case.

It can be a bit of work preparing the infusion for Grapefruit and Rosemary Gin with Ginger Ale, but it's well worth the effort.

It can be a bit of work preparing the infusion for Grapefruit and Rosemary Gin with Ginger Ale, but it’s well worth the effort.

The recipe for grapefruit and rosemary gin with ginger ale used some of my favorite flavors and didn’t require that I purchase ingredients like green chartreuse that I’d never use again.

Making the infusion seemed simple enough too, with the booze needing just a few hours in the fridge to infuse. In a weeklong vacation, I could find time for that.

Starting a little too close to cocktail hour, I gave it just two hours before giving it a taste. I was worried the flavors wouldn’t have fully infused but I was wrong. I was also worried the ginger ale would overpower the infusion. Wrong again.

What I got was a deliciously refreshing cocktail with a flavor all its own. If I hadn’t known the ingredients in it, I probably could not have guessed them. I had a second serving of the infusion with tonic instead of ginger ale, as the recipe offers as an alternative, and that made for another distinctly flavored drink.

As with all the recipes in the book, a second preparation was proposed. It used the flesh of the grapefruit in addition to the peel but warned that the drink’s fuller flavor could get old quick. Even with just the peel, I found the infusion to be pretty bold.

Surprised by the simplicity and success of my first recipe, I started reading the cookbook more closely. In his introduction, Chetiyawardana notes that the recipes should act as inspirations and needn’t be followed to a T. It hit me that the recipes were the opposite of what I had initially thought. They were fairly simple ways to make very impressive cocktails. A breakdown of essential bar equipment at the beginning of the book shows no huge investment is needed to become a home barkeep.

And there’s sure to be something to fit anyone’s tastes and time constraints among the dozens of recipes that incorporate various ingredients and require different levels of commitment – which, for the most part, is less than I would have thought.

Soon, I was considering whipping up a quick rhubarb syrup for the next one.

GRAPEFRUIT AND ROSEMARY GIN WITH GINGER ALE

3 grapefruits

100g/4oz sugar

2 sprigs rosemary

1 bottle London dry gin

Cubed ice

Chilled ginger ale, to finish

Grapefruit, to garnish

Zest the grapefruit using a peeler.

Add the peel along with the sugar, rosemary and gin to a large jar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Allow to infuse for a few hours (or up to a day), then strain through a sieve. Store in the fridge.

To serve, fill a highball with cubes of ice and add 2 shots of the infusion. Top with chilled ginger ale, stir and add a slice of grapefruit.

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Carrots go from zzzzz to zesty after a visit to Morocco http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/carrots-go-from-zzzzz-to-zesty-after-a-visit-to-morocco/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/carrots-go-from-zzzzz-to-zesty-after-a-visit-to-morocco/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=995978 Serving a couple of vegetables every night at dinner is a great strategy for families with picky eaters.

Offering young kids a choice (“Would you like green beans or parsnips or both tonight?”) gives them a small but important sense of efficacy, while also helping to demystify ingredients that are served (non-threateningly) at the table. And for the rest of us, eating a couple of vegetables with each meal is a great opportunity to get in the variety of nutrients that keeps us healthy.

But two vegetables a night adds up quickly, and we can find ourselves a little lost for creative preparations, especially when time is short.

One of my favorite ways to cook veggies quickly (even thicker root veggies) is the pan-sauté/steam method. It’s quick and melds the best of sautéing (a little fat and flavor) and steaming (speedy cooking without bland boiling).

Start by adding a little fat to a sauté pan. I love coconut oil for the healthy benefits and slightly nutty and exotic notes it adds to the veggies, but any neutral oil will do.

Sauté the veggies for a couple of minutes, adding in whatever spices or aromatics you have around the house that your family loves. You can go simple with shallots or garlic or more complex with curry paste or Chinese five-spice powder.

Next, add liquid – water, broth, citrus juice – and cover to steam for a few minutes. Once the veggies are crisp-tender from the steam, uncover the pan and allow the liquid to evaporate, leaving the veggies in a tasty and simple glaze. Top with some kind of acid – lime juice, or tangy plain yogurt both work well with a variety of flavors.

And the final touch? Something crunchy (like pumpkin seeds or chopped nuts) and something fresh like chopped basil, cilantro or mint. The perfect veggie plan for weeknights.

MOROCCAN SPICED CARROTS WITH YOGURT SAUCE

Makes 4 servings

1 pound baby carrots, peeled and greens removed

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon mustard seed

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

3/4 teaspoon ras el hanout (Moroccan seasoning)

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Sauce:

1/4 cup plain Greek lowfat yogurt

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons toasted chopped walnuts

Torn mint leaves for garnish

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Cook the mustard seed in coconut oil until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cumin, ras el hanout, paprika, granulated garlic and stir. Add the carrots and salt and stir to coat carrots with spices, and cook until the spices are deep in color, stirring, about 3 minutes.

Then deglaze the pan with stock and lime juice. Cover the pan and let steam for 3 minutes, then uncover and cook until liquid evaporates, another 2 minutes.

Meanwhile make the sauce by mixing yogurt, lime juice, smoked paprika and salt in a small bowl. Lay the carrots on a platter and spoon some yogurt over the carrots. Top with walnuts and mint leaves to serve.

Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is the author of the cookbook “Supermarket Healthy.”

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Grilled lamb: Minimal prep yields maximum flavor http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/grilled-lamb-minimal-prep-yields-maximum-flavor/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/03/grilled-lamb-minimal-prep-yields-maximum-flavor/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=996002 This recipe sounds, looks and tastes fancy, but it takes only a few steps of preparation and some simple assembly.

It’s one of those recipes that demands the best ingredients you can afford; it will make a difference. You can also use rib lamb chops, which are a bit pricier.

Play around with the herb and lettuce mixture. Any assortment of tender lettuces and fresh herbs will be lovely atop the rich grilled chops and tender, smoky onions. Grilling the lemons with the lamb and onions caramelizes them, and the juice you sprinkle over the finished dish will have a nice hint of smokiness.

You can let the onions and lemons sit in the marinade at room temperature for an hour or so, or in the fridge for up to 2 days for more flavor.

If you have a vegetable grilling grate, use it. Otherwise, even if you use a wide grilling spatula, you might end up sacrificing a few of the onion rings to the grilling gods.

GRILLED LAMB CHOPS AND ONIONS WITH HERB SALAD

Serves 5

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, preferably white balsamic

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3 large yellow or Vidalia onions

3 lemons, halved crosswise

10 loin lamb chops, about 1-inch thick

2 cups baby arugula

1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

Combine 1/4 cup of the olive oil with the white wine, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper in a shallow baking dish. Peel the onions and cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Place them in the baking dish along with the lemon halves, turn to coat with the marinade (it’s fine to stack the onion slices) and set aside.

Brush the lamb chops with 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil, generously season with salt and pepper, and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat the grill to medium/medium-high.

Grill the onions and the lamb chops for about 8 minutes, about 4 minutes on each side, so that they get nicely browned on both sides. Turn the onions with a grilling spatula (you can use a spatula or tongs for the lamb). At the same time, grill the lemons cut-side down for about 5 minutes. The internal temperature of the lamb chops should be 130 degree Fahrenheit for medium rare.

Remove the chops and lemons from the grill and let sit on a cutting board for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, move the onions to a cooler area of the grill or turn the gas down, and let them continue to soften while the lamb and lemons sit, watching carefully to make sure the onions don’t burn.

While the chops sit and the onions finish cooking, place the arugula and parsley in a medium bowl. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss.

Place the lamb chops and onions on a serving platter. Pile the arugula and herb salad on top. Place the lemon halves on the side so people can squeeze them, or squeeze the juice yourself all over the meal and serve immediately.

Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.”

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Indian condiments bring on both fresh taste and memories http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/indian-condiments-bring-a-lot-to-the-table/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/indian-condiments-bring-a-lot-to-the-table/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=986788 One of the best things about coming home after school in southern India was the array of amazing snacks my mother made for me on different days: green chutney and tomato chutney tea sandwiches; crudités of seasonal vegetables with a tangy yogurt dip; a crunchy salad with fried goodies, potatoes and onions, dressed with a lovely cilantro chutney; chapati flatbreads rolled in cheese and a sweet and tangy relish.

After I grew up and moved several thousand miles away, my method of shunning loneliness and banishing a homesick feeling was to throw together a quick chutney or relish and use it as a dip with pita, tortilla chips or some store-bought baby-cut carrots and celery sticks. It would sometimes morph into a spread for a grilled cheese sandwich or become the topping for a mix of chopped veggies. Occasionally I would spread the chutney on a chapati or tortilla, throw in some vegetables and cheese and make a wrap out of it. It would make a fabulous accompaniment for those quiet times when I just wanted to look through photo books or read old letters and cards.

Gradually, those chutneys (a blended texture) and relishes (distinct textures) evolved. I started playing around with different combinations of the main ingredients alongside what was available locally and seasonally. My yogurt-based raita contained avocado, an uncommon ingredient in the Indian dishes of my youth, or a combination of red onion, carrot and jalapeño.

During graduate school days, I used whichever ingredient was the cheapest. As a young wife and a new employee, I paired my chutneys with interesting flavors, herbs and spices that were local to the area I lived in. As a mom, I introduced flavors such as mango and pineapple that I knew my children would love.

Over the years, the chutneys and relishes that have become go-to favorites have had common characteristics in spice and tang. I like the artisanal look of them, which is to say they rarely come off as manufactured, gooey or saucy. The little surprises – a seed here and a chunk there – charm and tingle the taste buds.

Many of them are better when made ahead of time. Some of them sit well in a refrigerator for up to three days. I even freeze some of the blended chutneys in small condiment jars for a couple of weeks and defrost them just before serving. Any which way, they add color and pizazz to the table.

The accompanying recipes are some of my family’s favorites. Their flavors are intense and bold. They are a fabulous accompaniment to grilled vegetables and proteins. Try tossing a potato salad or sweet potato salad with one of these chutneys. Use the relish as a topping for burgers and sandwiches.

Another simple way of serving them during the summer, besides those mentioned above, is to toast some herby flatbread and top it with fresh greens, grilled veggies and tofu, then garnish with your chutney or relish of choice. That’s a perfect wrap.

Tomato and Garlic Scape Chutney

Tomato and Garlic Scape Chutney Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

TOMATO AND GARLIC SCAPE CHUTNEY

Garlic scapes add a spicy crunch to this pinkish chutney, but if they’re out of season, regular garlic cloves will suffice and bring a slight bite.

This is wonderful as a dressing for a potato salad or as a spread for a grilled sandwich. Also use it as a topping for grilled vegetables and proteins. The tomato paste is optional but adds a lovely color, creaminess and more-intense tomato flavor to the chutney.

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

12 servings (makes about 1 1/2 cups)

2 medium (11 ounces total) vine-ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped

4 full stems garlic scapes (may substitute 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon agave nectar

Juice of 1 lime

1 teaspoon tomato paste (optional)

Combine the tomatoes, garlic scapes, salt, cayenne pepper, agave nectar, lime juice and tomato paste, if using, in a food processor. Pulse to the desired consistency.

Use right away, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

SPICY, SWEET AND SOUR PINEAPPLE-JALAPENO RELISH

This fruity relish is wonderful on burgers and flatbreads. It is also great as a dip for pita and chips. Try different variations by replacing the pineapple with mangoes, grapes, plums or a seasonal tart fruit.

The relish needs to be refrigerated in an airtight container for at least 2 hours before serving. It is best served the same day it’s made.

12 servings (makes about 1 1/2 cups)

1 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion (optional)

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

1 medium jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (seeded, if desired, for less heat)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon honey

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine the pineapple; red onion, if using; cilantro; jalapeño; cumin; coriander; salt; honey and lemon juice in a mixing bowl, tossing until well incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

AVOCADO-GINGER RAITA

This a healthful and wonderful creamy sauce with rich flavors. Try it in wraps and as a dip for a crudites platter. The raita also makes a great dressing for chopped salads, coleslaws and potato salads.

For those who love the flavor of avocados, feel free to double up for a more intense avocado flavor.

The raita can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; place plastic wrap directly on the surface.

8 servings (makes 2 cups)

Flesh of 1 large ripe avocado

1 cup plain low-fat Greek-style yogurt

1/4 teaspoon jarred, pureed ginger or fresh peeled minced ginger root

Juice of 1/2 lime

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch sugar

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped mint leaves

1/2 teaspoon good-quality powdered harissa

Mash the avocado in a mixing bowl. Add the yogurt, ginger, lime juice, salt, pepper and sugar, mixing until well combined.

Stir in half of the mint and half of the harissa. Transfer to a serving bowl; garnish with the remaining mint and harissa.

Avocado-Ginger Raita

Avocado-Ginger Raita Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

TART APPLE AND COCONUT CHUTNEY

Chewy and bright-tasting, this unusual chutney makes a great dip or a spread for avocado toast.

Try stirring 1 tablespoon of the chutney into 1/2 cup of buttermilk to make a fresh salad dressing.

Coconut milk powder (not the same as coconut flour) is an optional ingredient here; it adds another layer of coconut flavor, and it is available at health food stores.

The chutney needs to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours, and up to 3 days, before serving. It can be frozen for up to 1 month.

14 servings (makes a generous 13/4 cups)

1 Granny Smith apple, cored and coarsely chopped

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 packed cup desiccated (dried) unsweetened grated coconut

1/4 teaspoon black mustard seed

1/2 teaspoon cumin seed

1 to 2 medium serrano peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons plain low-fat Greek-style yogurt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium clove garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon coconut milk powder (optional; see headnote)

1/4 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro, for garnish

Toss together the apple, lemon juice and salt in a mixing bowl; let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Combine the desiccated coconut, black mustard and cumin seeds, serrano pepper (to taste), yogurt, oil, garlic and coconut milk powder, if using, in a food processor or blender; add the apple mixture and puree until fairly smooth and thick.

Transfer to a serving bowl; garnish with the cilantro.

GREEN CILANTRO AND CUMIN CHUTNEY

This chutney is not for the faint of heart; its flavors are intense and bold. Spread a thin layer on a thick slice of bread and make a grilled cheese sandwich. Add a tablespoon of the chutney to a cup of cream cheese, whip well and use as a dip or as a spread for fresh sandwiches. Spread it on a flatbread, add toppings and make a spicy grilled pizza.

This recipe features jaggery, a naturally processed sugar made from the sap of sugar cane or palm trees. It is available at Indian markets.

The chutney needs to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days before serving.

4 to 6 servings (makes a scant 1/2 cup)

2 cups packed, chopped cilantro leaves (1 3/5 ounces)

1 large jalapeño pepper, coarsely chopped (seeded, if desired, for less heat)

1 1/4 teaspoons cumin seed

1 heaping teaspoon tamarind paste

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon jaggery or dark brown sugar (see headnote)

Combine the cilantro, jalapeño, 1/4 teaspoon of the cumin seed, the tamarind paste, salt and jaggery or brown sugar in a food processor or blender; puree until fairly smooth.

Transfer to a serving bowl; just before serving, sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of cumin.

Visi Tilak, a Massachusetts-based freelance writer, blogs at WorldlyVegetarian.com.

Twitter: visitilak

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Cookbook Review: ‘Simply Ramen: A Complete Course in Preparing Ramen Meals at Home’ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/simply-ramen-a-complete-course-in-preparing-ramen-meals-at-home/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/simply-ramen-a-complete-course-in-preparing-ramen-meals-at-home/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=986806 “Simply Ramen: A Complete Course in Preparing Ramen Meals at Home” by Amy Kimoto-Kahn. Race Point Publishing, $22.99.

Don’t be deceived by the title. There is nothing simple about “Simply Ramen.”

This is a cookbook for the ramen purist, someone willing to devote days to prep in their home kitchen to make steaming hot bowls of the rich, fatty broth and noodles in the Japanese tradition.

The book, by Amy Kimoto-Kahn, is not for the rainy day enthusiast. It’s not for the casual umbrella shaker, stepping off a wet Portland street into Pai Men Miyake hoping to sip beer while gazing through steamy windows for five minutes before a nap-inducing bowl arrives with chop sticks and spoon.

Scott Dolan/Staff Writer

Scott Dolan/Staff Writer

In short, this is not a book for me. But it was a lot of fun figuring that out.

For the uninitiated, let me start by saying that the ramen in Kimoto-Kahn’s beautifully laid-out primer has nothing to do with the four-for-a-dollar cellophane packets of instant noodles in the grocery store.

Each complete ramen meal recipe in Kimoto-Kahn’s book is built on several other base recipes, many that require being made a day or more in advance. Each base recipe calls for dozens of ingredients, some obscure, to yield a complex mix of textures and flavors, from rich meat broth to crispy greens with a mix of savory-sweet toppings and elastic noodles just firm enough to keep from getting soggy in soup.

The book’s cover photo, Oven-Broiled Karaage Curry Ramen, caught my attention from the start. I always like to make cookbook cover recipes. In the photo, the dish looks simple and delicious: a deep, mint-green bowl of golden broth is filled high with noodles, tender-looking chicken, garlic chips and a perfectly halved soft-boiled egg. Arugula leaves and green sheets of nori stick out over the bowl’s edge.

But by the time my girlfriend and I finished shopping for the ingredients, with our bill already over $100, I began to lose heart. Between us, we had assembled all but one of the ingredients, Golden Curry, a boxed curry mix that my editor later informed me is a staple of Japanese instant home cooking.

Walking home one evening from work downtown, I stopped in Sun Oriental Market on Congress Street and quickly located the missing ingredient.

The photo on the box of Golden Curry looked nothing like the beautiful cover photo of Simply Ramen. The “food” shown on the Golden Curry box looked like gelatinous slop, a glistening brown mucous-like liquid I might expect on the lowest grade of wet dog foods.

While at the store, I sent my girlfriend a picture from my phone of the Golden Curry. Here’s an excerpt of our actual text message exchange:

Me: “It has MSG”

Her: “Ugh”

Me: “What should I do?”

Her: “God, it looks disgusting”

Me: “It’s revolting”

Needless to say, I walked out of the store empty-handed. My girlfriend ended up making her own curry powder from an online recipe that looked infinitely more palatable.

The Oven-Broiled Karaage Curry Ramen recipe is actually five recipes, two required and three optional. (Each of the soup recipes in the book requires making one of four soup bases.) Our recipe required a miso base, which we made on the first night. Kimoto-Kahn says it takes 45 minutes, but it took us more than two hours to make and even more time to clean up. The recipe calls for a 1/2 cup of bacon fat. We didn’t have enough (who would?), so we made up the remainder with coconut oil, which “Simply Ramen” suggests as an alternative. When we finally tasted the soup, the coconut oil was overpowering.

We skipped three other steps because we ran out of time: making the ramen noodles (an estimated three-hour task), marinating half-cooked eggs (1 1/2 hours plus two days in the refrigerator) and making batches of garlic chips (under 10 minutes, in theory).

Both my girlfriend and I have full-time jobs that often require us to work late. By the time we finished cooking on the second night and set two bowls of finished ramen on the table, it was nearly midnight.

At first bite, we were both delighted. We were beyond hungry, and it seemed so good. By the third and fourth bite, we found the dish overpoweringly salty and far too rich. Neither of us finished our bowls, and days later, we threw out the leftover miso base. We knew it was wasteful, but neither of us could face more of it.

The karaage, which is the broiled chicken, was the star of the dish. I would make that alone again and again.

But we were baffled by the overall ramen recipe. Why would a writer who outlined each step so meticulously and required so many expensive ingredients then just throw in an instant curry mix? It makes no sense.

In the future, when the rainy day hankering hits, we agreed we’ll save ourselves the effort and the money. We’ll just head to Pai Men Miyake in Longfellow Square.

Our experience, through, cooking from “Simply Ramen” for two intense nights was worth the one-time effort and even the disappointment. If not great soup, at least we came away with a great story.

— Scott Dolan

Photo courtesy of Race Point Publishing

Photo courtesy of Race Point Publishing

OVEN-BROILED KARAAGE CURRY RAMEN

I found the Golden Curry at Sun Oriental Market in Portland.

Serves 6

Preparation time: 1 hour, plus time to make Ramen Soup Base, Ramen Noodles (optional), Marinated Half-Cooked Egg (optional) and Garlic Chips (optional)

1 cup (235 ml) shoyu (soy sauce)

1 cup (200g) sugar

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon grated ginger

¼ cup (60 ml) mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)

1 pound (455 g) chicken thighs

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 red onion, thinly sliced

¼ cup (32 g) cornstarch

1 box Golden Curry (Japanese instant curry)

ADDITIONAL TOPPINGS

1½ lemons, quartered

Roasted sesame seeds, for garnish

1 bunch arugula (or Japanese mizuna lettuce)

3 sheets nori (seaweed), quartered (2 squares per serving)

1. Add shoyu, sugar, garlic and ginger to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the liquid is boiling, remove from heat and add mirin. Let the mixture cool at room temperature.

2. Rinse and pat dry chicken thighs and cut into bite-size pieces.

3. Add chicken to medium-sized bowl and cover with marinade. Refrigerate and let marinate for at least 1 hour.

4. Heat sesame oil in medium-sized skillet one medium-high heat. Add red onion and sauté until charred around edges. Set aside.

5. Set oven rack at top of the oven and preheat the broiler.

6. Drain excess marinade from bowl of chicken and sprinkle chicken with cornstarch until all the pieces are liberally coated.

7. Place the chicken on a parchment-lined baking sheet, making sure that no pieces are touching.

8. Broil for about 6 minutes, then flip and broil for an additional 5 minutes or until they are crispy and brown. Watch closely so they do not burn, as ovens will vary.

9. Set aside chicken on a wire rack to cool.

10. Boil a pot of water for the noodles. In a separate saucepan, combine 2 1/4 cups (530 ml) Miso Base (see recipe), 12 cups (2.8 L) of chicken or vegetable stock and 6 Golden Curry bouillons squares to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer until it’s ready to serve. Note: It’s 3 tablespoons base to every 1 cup (235 ml) chicken or vegetable stock. Use about 2 cups (475 ml) soup per serving. Right before serving, crank it back up to boil.

11. Boil the noodles – if fresh, boil for about one minute; if packaged, boil for about two minutes. As soon as they’re done, drain well and separate into serving bowls.

12. Pour 2 cups (475 ml) soup over each bowl of noodles. Top with pieces of chicken karaage, sautéed red onions, arugula, marinated half-cooked egg and garlic chips. Sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds and slip two nori sheets into the broth. Squeeze lemon juice over the top just before serving.

986806_834490 broth.jpg

MISO BASE

Serves up to 12

Preparation time: 45 minutes

1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and cut into large dice

½ onion, peeled and cut into large dice

½ apple, cored, peeled and cut into large dice

1 celery stalk, cut into large dice

3 garlic cloves

½ cup (120 ml) bacon fat (recommended), ghee or coconut oil

2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided

1½ cups (340 g) ground pork

2 teaspoons fresh ground ginger

1 teaspoon sriracha

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon kelp granules (optional but not recommended)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground sesame seed paste or tahini

¾ cup (175 ml) shiro miso (white miso, which is lighter and sweeter)

¾ cup (175 ml) akamiso (red miso, which is darker and saltier)

Low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock – 2 cups (475 ml) per serving based on the number of servings

1. Add the carrot, onion, apple, celery and garlic to a food processor. Pulse into a fine chop. If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop these ingredients by hand.

2. Add the bacon fat and 1 tablespoon sesame oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the finely chopped fruit and vegetables and cook until the onions are translucent and the apple is tender, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes. When done, turn heat down to medium-low.

3. Add the ground pork to the cooked vegetable mixture. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the ginger, sriracha, soy sauce, kelp granules, apple cider vinegar and salt. Incorporate well.

4. Return the entire mixture to the food processor and pulse until pork is finely ground. If you don’t have a food processor, then use a potato masher or wooden spoon to break the mixture into very small pieces in the skillet.

5. Add the sesame seed paste and the miso to the ground pork mixture and mix well. It should have the consistency of a thick paste. Your base is done.

6. Bring the Miso Base and chicken or vegetable stock to a boil (depending on the number of people you are serving, use the ratio of 3 tablespoons Miso Base to 1 cup (235 ml) chicken or vegetable stock). Lower heat and let simmer until it’s ready to serve. Use about 2 cups (475 ml) soup per serving. Lower heat and let simmer until it’s ready to serve. Right before serving, crank up the heat to boil the soup.

7. Pour 2 cups soup (475 ml) over each bowl of noodles. Top each bowl with desired toppings.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/simply-ramen-a-complete-course-in-preparing-ramen-meals-at-home/feed/ 3 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/scottshot.-crop.jpgWed, 27 Jul 2016 08:07:58 +0000
Bake-ahead egg cups combat morning scramble http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/bake-ahead-egg-cups-combat-morning-scramble/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/bake-ahead-egg-cups-combat-morning-scramble/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=986821 When it comes to healthy eating, good intentions and willpower can only take us so far. That’s why I believe strongly in making the healthy choice the easy choice, especially when it comes to morning decisions.

Spending a little time to set myself up for success makes a huge difference in my ability to stick to my healthy living plans. For instance, I set out my workout clothes the night before, so rolling out of bed and into them is a no-brainer. Should the extra 15-seconds that it would take for me to open the dresser drawer to grab my exercise clothes be the thing that derails an entire workout? Perhaps not. But alas it does. For me, anyway.

Same thing can happen when it comes to food. When I’m hungry and in a rush, I’m far more likely to grab just anything that will fill my belly. But I’ll absolutely eat a healthy protein-filled breakfast if it’s all prepped and ready to go.

In fact, my whole family eats better when I invest a little time cooking and stocking my freezer with my own version of “fast food.” One of our favorites is the morning egg muffin, which is essentially scrambled eggs baked up in muffin tins.

I make a dozen or two on weekends to keep in the freezer and in less than two microwave minutes, we have a weekday breakfast that is chock-full of filling protein. My secret: I use two eggs to get some of that luscious fat, flavor, and color from the yolk and then load up on serious-protein egg whites.

Use whatever veggies you have on hand, and don’t be shy about loading up – even my two pickiest kiddos love these little guys! Make several flavors when you find eggs on sale, and you’ll have a veritable morning buffet of protein for weeks. No last minute drive-thrus to stave off the hunger on the way to work.

BAKE-AHEAD MORNING EGG CUPS

Makes 12 servings

1 link turkey Italian sausage, about 3 ounces, crumbled

1/2 red pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped onion

1 tablespoons flour (all purpose or rice flour both work)

1 1/2 cups baby spinach, washed

2 eggs

3/4 cup egg whites (about 7 egg whites)

1/4 cup lowfat milk

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a saute pan, cook the sausage over medium high heat until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the pepper and chopped onion and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and stir in.

Chop the spinach and stir into the pan, and cook another minute for spinach to wilt. Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites and milk until pale yellow and smooth. Stir in the sausage mixture and cheese.

Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick spray. Spoon the mixture into the tin. Bake until eggs are firm but not dry, about 15 minutes. Let cool in the muffin tins for 10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool on a baking rack.

Eat right away, or freeze in a resealable freezer bag. Label well! To microwave for breakfast: Wrap in a paper towel and heat on 70 percent heat until hot, about 90 seconds, depending on microwave strength.

Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is the author of the cookbook “Supermarket Healthy.”

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The Maine Ingredient: Elegant summer fruit and vegetable hors d’oeuvres ready in an instant http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/the-maine-ingredientwith-just-a-few-minutes-work-you-can-make-elegant-almost-instant-summer-fruit-and-vegetable-hors-doeuvres/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/the-maine-ingredientwith-just-a-few-minutes-work-you-can-make-elegant-almost-instant-summer-fruit-and-vegetable-hors-doeuvres/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=986827 Summer fruits and vegetables are delicious unto themselves for sure, but I also like to add a bit of richness when using them raw as pre-dinner hors d’oeuvre. Here are three examples of just such combinations, which I hope will inspire you to create your own permutations for similar pre-dinner nibble.

WATERMELON AND FETA PICKS

This is a lovely riff on the by-now classic watermelon and feta salad, and the picks are as pretty to look at as they are delicious to eat. You can assemble the picks up to about two hours ahead, store them loosely covered in the refrigerator, and place them on their bed of oil and vinegar at the last minute. You’ll need toothpicks to make this recipe.

Makes about 32 picks

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

6 ounce chunk of feta (not crumbles)

About 1 pound watermelon

Small rosemary sprigs (about 3 leaves each)

Freshly ground black pepper

Pour oil and vinegar on a serving platter and tilt to coat platter.

Cut feta into ½- to ¾-inch squares. Slice watermelon, remove rind, and cut into same size squares. Pierce cheese with toothpick, add watermelon square, and stand upright on platter. Continue with remaining cheese and watermelon. Garnish each with a rosemary sprig, and grind black pepper over all.

SMOKED SALMON MOUSSE ON CUCUMBER

I can find at least three brands of salmon mousse (sometimes labeled as “salmon pate”) at my supermarket. Typical ingredients are cream cheese, chopped smoked salmon, sometimes cream and various seasonings. Some brands (usually the less expensive products) are looser and runnier than you want for this recipe, so try to get one with some body and plenty of delicious smoked salmon flavor. If you don’t have a pastry bag, simply spoon or spread the mousse onto the cucumber rounds. Taste the mousse; if it already contains dill or another herb, you may not want to add the chopped dill.

Makes about 24 canapes

1 long English seedless cucumber

1 small (7-ounce) container good quality smoked salmon mousse

2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill, if desired, and dill sprigs

Freshly ground black pepper

Use a fork to score cucumber down its length all around its circumference. Cut into ¼- to ½-inch slices, thick enough so they can be picked up by hand. Arrange on serving tray.

Mash mousse with a fork to soften a bit if necessary and stir in dill, if using. Spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe a 1- to 1½-teaspoon rosette onto each cucumber round. Grind black pepper over and garnish each with a dill sprig. Refrigerate until ready to serve to firm up mousse. (Can be made about 2 hours ahead.)

RED PEPPER BOATS WITH ST. ANDRE AND THYME LEAVES

Rich, soft-ripened triple crème St. Andre cheese is the perfect foil for sweet-sharp bell peppers, and its buttery texture allows for easy spreading. A restrained garnish of thyme leaves or blossoms adds interest and a complementary flavor.

Makes about 30 canapes

1 red bell pepper

¼ pound St. Andre, left at room temperature for a couple of hours to soften

Tiny thyme leaves or small blossoms

Cut pepper into strips about 3/4-inch wide. Use a small blunt knife to spread a teaspoon or so of cheese into center of each pepper “boat.” Arrange on serving platter and garnish with thyme sprigs. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 hours.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” (Storey, 2015). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

facebook.com/brookedojny

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http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/27/the-maine-ingredientwith-just-a-few-minutes-work-you-can-make-elegant-almost-instant-summer-fruit-and-vegetable-hors-doeuvres/feed/ 0 http://www.pressherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/986827_980601-melonfeta.jpgWed, 27 Jul 2016 08:08:05 +0000
Granola bars rely on dates and honey for sweetness http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/granola-bars-rely-on-dates-and-honey-for-sweetness/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/granola-bars-rely-on-dates-and-honey-for-sweetness/#comments Wed, 20 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=977176 Once upon a time, my Indian grandma was left in charge of packing school lunches for my sisters and me. We were sent off to school with some potato curry and a garlic chutney so fierce my eyebrows twitched on the bus all the way to school and I couldn’t bear to open the Tupperware in fear of what might be unleashed on my friends.

After that, I outlawed traditional Indian food in my packed lunches, setting my mother free to get creative with Anglo-Indian dishes that became family favorites.

This granola bar using dates, coconut and peanuts is among the recipes she created. It doesn’t use sugar, instead relying on dates and honey as sweeteners. The dates add a lovely fudgy texture and the oats and peanuts give slow release energy which will keep your kids (and you) going for a few hours. Cinnamon and ginger, in a nod to India, are used in small amounts to add a hint of warmth and extra flavor.

Mum used to make it in big batches on a Sunday and fill the house with the most divine smells, which would creep under the door while I was doing my homework. For the rest of the week, I’d look forward to packed lunches knowing what I was going to get.

DATE, COCONUT AND PEANUT GRANOLA BARS

Serves 16

10 tablespoons butter, unsalted

1 cup dates, pitted and chopped

1/3 cup honey, plus more to drizzle

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 cup desiccated coconut

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped

Grease and line an 8-inch square baking pan and pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Add the butter, dates, honey, coconut, ginger and cinnamon to a deep saucepan and heat over a low flame until butter and honey melt, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the oats and chopped peanuts until mixed, then spread evenly into the baking pan. Pat the top down with a spoon to smooth the top and drizzle top with honey.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until brown and firm on top. Cool before cutting into squares.

These bars will keep for up to a week in an airtight tin.

Meera Sodha is an Indian foods expert and author of “Made in India: Recipes from an Indian family kitchen.”

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Try tempura-like batter for fried zucchini flowers http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/try-tempura-like-batter-for-fried-zucchini-flowers/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/try-tempura-like-batter-for-fried-zucchini-flowers/#comments Wed, 20 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=977185 Zucchini flowers are perfect for stuffing. In the following recipe, the flowers are filled with cheese before frying. The result is a creamy, flavorful filling and a supercrisp crust.

For years, my go-to deep-frying batter has been made of roughly equal parts beer and flour. But I wanted the batter for this dish to be crisper, more like tempura, so I added seltzer and baking soda and swapped out half of the flour for cornstarch. Unlike flour, cornstarch has no gluten, which ensures a thinner, more delicate coating that nonetheless holds its shape.

You’ll want to mix the batter just before using it to prevent the bubbles from evaporating. Combine the dry ingredients and park them on the counter while you prep the blossoms and begin to heat the oil. When the oil is almost up to temperature, add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix the batter quickly. Take care not to rip the petals while stuffing the flower with cheese, then close the open end of the flower by twisting the petals like a New Year’s Eve party popper. The cheese should stay put and not leak into the oil.

Choose a pan with deep sides and fill it with no more than 1 1/2 or 2 inches of oil. Make sure the oil has a high smoke point. Use a deep-fat thermometer to keep track of the temperature and try to maintain it at a constant 365 F. Depending on the size of your pan, fry no more than three or four stuffed blossoms at a time. This will ensure that the temperature of the oil neither drops nor bubbles over the top. If the temperature begins to creep up, pull the pan off the flame and/or add a little cool oil. Transfer each batch of fried blossoms to a paper towel-lined sheet pan, sprinkle lightly with salt and keep warm in the oven while you fry the rest.

CHEESE STUFFED ZUCCHINI BLOSSOMS

Serves 4

12 squash blossoms

1/2 ounce coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 ounce mozzarella, cut into 12 cubes

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (2 3/8 ounces)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup ice-cold beer

1/2 cup ice-cold seltzer

Vegetable oil for deep frying

1 cup marinara sauce (homemade or your favorite store brand), heated

Basil sprigs for garnish

Preheat oven to 200 F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with a double layer of paper towels.

Working with one blossom at a time, carefully separate the petals to expose the inside of the flower and the central stamen (on a male plant) or pistil (on a female plant). Using small sharp scissors cut out as much of the stamen or pistil as possible to make room for the cheese. Put about 1 teaspoon of the Parmigiano-Reggiano in the cavity; top with a chunk of mozzarella. Twist the petals gently to enclose the filling; set aside the stuffed blossoms.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, cornstarch, soda and salt. In a large, deep saucepan heat 11/2 to 2 inches of oil over medium high heat to 365 F. When the oil is at around 325 F, combine the dry ingredients in the bowl with the beer and the seltzer; stir the mixture until it is combined well but with a few lumps remaining.

Working with three or four blossoms at a time, dip them in the batter, coating them well and letting the excess drip off. Add them gently to the 365 F oil; let cook for 30 seconds. Using tongs, gently turn them over. Cook until they are golden, about 1 to 11/2 minutes, turning them once again. Transfer the blossoms to the rimmed sheet pan using a slotted spoon, sprinkle with kosher salt and keep warm in the oven while you batter and fry the remaining zucchini blossoms.

To serve, spoon one-fourth of the marinara sauce into the bottom of each of four soup bowls, arrange three fried blossoms on top and garnish with a basil sprig.

Sara Moulton is host of public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.” She was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows, including “Cooking Live.” Her latest cookbook is “Home Cooking 101.”

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Mango, fresh tuna make a perfect match http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/mango-fresh-tuna-make-a-perfect-match/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/mango-fresh-tuna-make-a-perfect-match/#comments Wed, 20 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=977191 Ripe, sweet mangos are at the height of their season. They make a great accompaniment for pan-seared fresh tuna. Simply saute the tuna and top it with this mango salsa for a quick summer meal.

It takes a few minutes to cut a mango into cubes. Here’s an easy method. Stand the mango on the thick end and cut it in half on each side sliding the knife down the side of the stone. Run a large spoon around the edge of the flesh and scoop it out. Cut the pulp into 1/4-inch pieces. Do this over a bowl to catch the juices.

TUNA AND MANGO SALSA

Makes 2 servings.

1 cup mango cubes

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon canola oil

3/4 pound fresh tuna steaks

Cut mango in half around the pit. Hold the mango with cut side up. Scoop out pulp with a large spoon. Cut into 1/4-inch pieces. Mix lime juice, honey, cilantro and jalapeno pepper together. Toss with mango. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sear tuna for 2 minutes. Turn and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste on the cooked side. Sear second side 2 minutes for a half-inch thick tuna steak. For a 1-inch tuna steak, lower heat and cook 2 more minutes. Remove to two dinner plates, spoon salsa on top and serve.

Linda Gassenheimer is the author of “Delicious One-Pot Dishes.”

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‘K Food’ redefines Korean home cooking http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/splattered-page-k-food-redefines-korean-home-cooking/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/splattered-page-k-food-redefines-korean-home-cooking/#comments Wed, 20 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=977197 “K Food: Korean Home Cooking and Street Food” by Da-Hae and Gareth West. Mitchell Beazley, $24.99

On first impression, “K Food” looks like a cookbook with a boldly Western take on Korean fusion food. It’s sprinkled with photos of Korean street scenes and markets, wrapped in blue and red geometric designs, and filled with recipes like Kimchi Mac ‘n’ Cheese or K-fries, french fries topped with bulgogi beef, kimchi, pickled chiles and sour cream. The subtitle, “Korean home cooking and street food,” seemed a bit off point.

But, as Gareth and Da-Hae West tell it, their cookbook is reflective of the new Korean food, evolved to suit the many Korean migrants who moved across the globe in the late 20th century, often traveling back to their homeland – or that of their parents or grandparents – again and again, carrying with them the food traditions of their ancestors and of their acquired homes.

These recipes don’t simply borrow the bold flavors of Korean food for dishes that please the sometimes blander palettes of eaters in America or in the U.K. The Wests present very traditional Korean dishes alongside recipes that have become newly popular in Korea and more that they’ve dreamed up themselves, inspired by changes in the country where Da-Hae was born.

While honeymooning in Korea, she introduced her husband to a fast-food staple in Korea: the bulgogi burger. A standard beef patty, that American food icon, is marinated in the sweet and tangy flavors of traditional Korean BBQ.

Back home in the U.K., the couple started developing a recipe for their own bulgogi burger. The idea for their Korean food trailer company, Busan BBQ, was born when they hit on something so delicious that Gareth West ate three burgers in one sitting, the story goes.

It’s easy to see why. After the patty is cooked and just before it goes on the bun, the burger is dipped in a traditional marinade of soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, sugar and fruit juice (Asian pear juice is typical but here they use apple juice). Thickened slightly, the sauce soaks into the bun enough to be delicious but not soggy.

For even more flavor, the burger is topped with onions quick-pickled in a mustard brine and with Ssamjang Mayo.

Ssamjang is a loose paste that is sweet and spicy, typically used to add a kick to barbecued meats wrapped in lettuce leaves with rice and other toppings (“ssam” meaning “wrap”).

The Wests note that the sauce also makes a good dipping sauce for raw vegetables. Mixed with mayo – not a traditional Korean ingredient – it is especially versatile. The spread takes a plain, old turkey sandwich to a whole new level.

Recipes for common Korean dishes (mandu, japchae, ramyun) are included in about equal measure as the more fanciful ones (Corn on the Cob with Kimchi Butter, Yuja Cheesecake, Kimchi Bloody Mary).

The Wests’ kimchi jjiggae, a stew made with “extra-mature” cabbage kimchi and pork belly, is simple and delicious.

They also include a list of essential Korean ingredients, starting with “jang,” pastes or sauce made from fermented soybeans.

Most of the ingredients – including gochujang, a red chile paste – can be found in a traditional grocery store. The rest almost certainly can be found at one of Portland’s Asian markets.

SSAMJANG MAYO

Makes about 1 cup

1 tablespoon doenjang (Korean soybean paste)

1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean red chile paste)

1/2 a scallion, trimmed and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1 cup mayonnaise

Put the doenjang, gochujang, scallion, garlic, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and sesame seeds in a bowl and mix together well, to make the ssamjang.

Reserve all but 2 teaspoons for another occasion.

In a bowl, mix the 2 teaspoons of Ssamjang with the mayonnaise and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil.

Serve or keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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Herbed salmon atop greens a fitting summer dish http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/herbed-salmon-atop-greens-a-fitting-summer-dish/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/20/herbed-salmon-atop-greens-a-fitting-summer-dish/#comments Wed, 20 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=977356 It’s amazing how the weather dictates what we want to eat, isn’t it? Even if you’re not consciously trying to cook with the seasons, you want braises and stews when it’s cool out, and food that is lighter and brighter when it’s warm.

This decidedly warm-weather salmon is bathed in an olive oil and herb mixture and cooked at a fairly low temperature to give it a very tender texture. Then it’s perched on a pile of spring-y greens – you can use any baby lettuce mix you like, or create your own. Mix that with a pile of additional fresh herbs and toss with some fresh lemon juice and good olive oil.

Would I eat this in November? Sure. But I am craving it now.

Sometimes I like salmon to be browned and crispy, but in this case I was going for a more delicate, poached texture so the herbs would retain their color, and the whole dish would be soft and gentle. Summer is peak season for wild Alaskan salmon, which has a more pronounced salmon flavor than farm-raised; I used Coho salmon here, with a deep, rich, reddish-orange color. Grab it when you see it.

Serves 4

HERBED SALMON

FOR THE SALMON:

4 6-ounce salmon fillets

5 scallions, white and light green parts only, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh dill sprigs

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

1/2 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt, plus more to taste

FOR THE SALAD:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt to taste

6 cups baby salad mix, or a mix of purslane, butter lettuce, Boston lettuce and mache, for example

1/2 cup whole fresh parsley leaves

1/4 cup sliced chives

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a baking pan with nonstick spray, or lightly oil the pan. Place the salmon fillets in the pan.

In a small food processor, blend together the scallions, 1/3 cup olive oil, dill, 1/4 cup parsley leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread the mixture over the salmon, and bake for about 16 to 18 minutes, just until the salmon is barely cooked through and flakes easily. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan, until just warm.

For the salad, in a large bowl, mix together the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus salt to taste. Add the lettuces, 1/2 cup parsley leaves and chives, and toss. Divide the salad among 4 plates and place a piece of salmon atop each pile of greens, removing the skin if you wish. Serve while the salmon is warm, or at room temperature if you prefer.

Katie Workman is the author of “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.” She blogs at themom100.com.

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Tess Ward’s ‘The Naked Cookbook’ is haphazardly organized but worth a look http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/13/cookbook-review-the-organization-in-tess-wards-the-naked-cookbook-may-be-a-little-sillyconfusing/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/13/cookbook-review-the-organization-in-tess-wards-the-naked-cookbook-may-be-a-little-sillyconfusing/#comments Wed, 13 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=967204 “The Naked Cookbook” by Tess Ward. Ten Speed Press, $24.99

This is the story of someone who chose a cookbook by its cover and then regretted the cover, but not the cookbook.

“The Naked Cookbook” is the work of Tess Ward, a London-based food blogger who previously wrote “The Naked Diet.” The “naked” in the title refers to her belief that it is best to eat “food in its most naked form,” meaning fresh and not processed. This is not new, of course. The era when people ate and fed their families casseroles made of Fritos, hamburger and cream of mushroom soup (Hi, Mom!) is long past.

Also long past is the time when you could name a cookbook, say, “The Joy of Cooking,” and call it a day. You must now have, it seems, an angle. Ward promotes nutritious “naked” eating based on some vague generalizations and her own health history.

“The Naked Cookbook” is divided into seven chapters: raw, pure, stripped, bare, nude, clean and detox. The detox chapter is really about detoxing but the other chapters are filled somewhat haphazardly. The “pure” chapter contains a recipe for ginger porkballs and the “bare” one has lamb meatballs. If there is a rationale behind this, I couldn’t find it.

The greatest weakness of this book is its cover. In keeping with the nude theme, this book seems to have been published with almost nothing on it. The cover is made up of what looks like the cardboard stiffening of most bound books and it has no spine. Just taking it home with me bruised and marked the cover. If something spilled or spattered on it (I am a messy cook), the cover will either melt away or, at the very least, lose its trendy, edgy design and appear not clean and pure but unkempt and possibly unhygienic.

All this nitpicking can be set aside, however, when you cook from this book. Many of the recipes appealed to me. They are, for the most part, simple and fast. I was tempted by a Prune + Bitter Chocolate Frozen Ricotta dessert and a salad of Tomatoes with Capers, Almonds + Herbs, but settled on the Green Cauliflower “Couscous” with Pumpkin Seeds.

Two small warnings: This recipe requires a food processor (or a cook who is willing to reduce a head of cauliflower to tiny bits by hand). It also calls for fava beans, which I was unable to find. I substituted shelled frozen edamame, which I boiled for a few minutes before using. They worked very well.

GREEN CAULIFLOWER ‘COUSCOUS’ WITH PUMPKIN SEEDS

Serves 4

1 head cauliflower, stem and florets, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

2 garlic cloves, chopped

7 ounces thawed frozen or cooked fresh fava beans

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted

2 handfuls of mixed herbs (such as mint and basil), minced

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Scant 1/2 cup crumbled soft goat cheese

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the cauliflower in a food processor and process to a fine couscous- or ricelike texture, in batches if you have a small food processor.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet, add the garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden. Add the cauliflower, tossing it to coat with the garlic oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until heated through. Transfer to a large serving bowl.

Add the fava beans, pumpkin seeds, herbs, lemon juice, goat cheese and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss until mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste and finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve warm.

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If potluck is a competition, here are ways to clinch the win http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/13/if-potluck-is-a-competition-here-are-ways-to-clinch-the-win/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/13/if-potluck-is-a-competition-here-are-ways-to-clinch-the-win/#comments Wed, 13 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=967213 Potluck is a competitive sport, at least when it’s done right.

You go to a potluck and you check out the competition. Gail brought some sugar cookies – that’s good, but it won’t be good enough. Gabe made some fried chicken. Everyone likes fried chicken, but no one ever raves about it. Danielle contributed a store-bought carrot cake.

Store-bought? Please. It’s like she didn’t even try.

And then you uncover your dish. You can tell by the delight in some of the guests – and the green-eyed jealousy in others – that you’ve done it. You’ve won the potluck.

It’s a good feeling.

All it takes to win a potluck is a little bit of time and a little bit of effort. If you use the right ingredients, you’re halfway there.

Most potluckers throw something together quickly at the last moment or they make it on the cheap. If a cookie is made with margarine instead of butter, you can be sure it is never going to win.

To truly impress at a potluck, especially if you know that other guests also realize it is a competition, you have to make something that looks as good as it tastes. And that is why, for my first blue-ribbon potluck dish, I turned to the best-looking potluck dish I have ever seen.

It was invented by my wife. We were going to a garden party, which is to say a party for gardeners, and everyone was encouraged to bring a dish with a garden theme. My wife brought a Garden in a Pan.

The bottom layer was refried beans, to represent the dirt. Placed on top of it were colorful rows of chopped vegetables, sour cream, cheese, salsa and guacamole to represent rows of plants.

When scooped up with a tortilla chip, it all made for a delicious, fresh, Tex-Mex dip. It’s kind of like a seven-layer dip, but horizontal.

I stayed with the idea of a healthful dip with my next dish, tzatziki. A bright-tasting Greek sauce made from yogurt and cucumbers, tzatziki is best known as the topping to gyros. But it goes well with any grilled meat, with shrimp or with baked potatoes.

And for the purposes of a potluck, it also goes well with crudités. Simply serve it as a dip along with carrot sticks, celery sticks, sliced red pepper and cherry tomatoes, and the other guests will appreciate how much you are looking out for their health and happiness.

If you’re truly trying to win at potluck – or if you know someone else is also trying to win – you may have to spend some money. And that means … shrimp.

Shrimp cocktail won’t cut it. Everybody knows shrimp cocktail. Everybody loves shrimp cocktail. But shrimp cocktail is too ordinary.

If you’re going to win with shrimp, you’ll have to go big – like the big flavors you find in Spiced Shrimp.

The flavors are actually simple: garlic, salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, olive oil and lemon juice. But when you put them all together and make sort of a paste to cover the shrimp, that’s when you get something notable.

The original recipe from The New York Times called for the shrimp to be grilled. And you could certainly cook them that way, if you really wanted to show off. But simply sautéeing them in a pan is easily good enough to secure a victory.

Bold flavors are the key to another sure-fire winner, too. When spiced nuts are done right, they tend to be addictive. The combination of salt and sugar and nuttiness makes them too good to pass up.

If you bring Rum-Glazed Pecans to a potluck, they are almost certain to be the first thing finished. With a satisfied smile (but only if you keep it to yourself), you will notice the other guests going back to the bowl again and again and again.

Why? Well, you begin with pecans, which you toast to a fragrant crispness. Then you glaze them with a combination of melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla and dark rum. When they are still sticky, you toss them in a combination of granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice.

These are flavors made for one another. Make sure you grab some for yourself before they are all gone.

For one last dish to impress, I made a South Carolina standard, Country Captain Chicken. This is chicken slow-cooked in a tomato-curry sauce. It is a warming, homey dish, the kind of dish the other guests will think about for days.

It is also easy to make. It does take a lot of ingredients, but most of the cooking is done in a slow cooker. You just set it and forget it.

When the other guests ask you for the recipe, be sure to hand it to them with all the modesty you can muster. Winners never gloat.

GARDEN IN A PAN

Yield: 12 servings

1 1/2 (16-ounce) cans or 2/3 (31-ounce) can refried beans

1/2 cup guacamole

1/2 cup salsa, drained

1/2 cup shredded Mexican-style cheese

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped scallions

1/4 cup sliced black olives

1/2 cup chopped orange bell pepper

Chives, optional

Spread the refried beans evenly across the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan. Make thin rows lengthwise down the pan of guacamole, salsa, cheese, red onions, sour cream, tomatoes, scallions, olives and orange peppers, to resemble a garden. If desired, cut chives in half and stick them in clumps between rows to look like a fence or other plants. Serve with tortilla chips.

Recipe by Mary Anne Pikrone

TZATZIKI

Yield: 16 servings

1 English cucumber about 12 inches long, peeled

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt, see note

1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Note: For best results, use full-fat (whole milk) Greek yogurt. Two percent fat is acceptable, but do not use nonfat yogurt.

Grate the cucumber into a mesh strainer. Sprinkle with salt and let sit in the sink or in a bowl to sweat out the moisture for 30 minutes. Squeeze out as much of the remaining moisture as you can with paper towels.

In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, dill, olive oil and vinegar. Add the strained cucumber and stir until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Store in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours to allow the flavors to combine. Serve with crudites.

Recipe adapted from OMGFood

Spiced shrimp will deliver a kick to your potluck.   Cristina M. Fletes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Spiced shrimp will deliver a kick to your potluck. Cristina M. Fletes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

SPICED SHRIMP

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1 large clove garlic

1 tablespoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon paprika

3 or 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 to 2 pounds shrimp, peeled

Lemon wedges

Mince garlic with salt; mix with cayenne and paprika, then make into a paste with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and lemon juice. Smear paste on shrimp.

Put the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick pan or 2 tablespoons in a large regular pan, and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, until done, about 3 to 5 minutes depending on their size. Serve hot, at room temperature or cold, with lemon wedges.

Recipe adapted from the New York Times

Rum-glazed pecans make a great potluck food.    Cristina M. Fletes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Rum-glazed pecans make a great potluck food. Cristina M. Fletes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

RUM-GLAZED PECANS

Yield: 8 servings

2 cups unsalted pecans

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or 3/8 teaspoon table salt)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon rum, preferably dark

1 tablespoon butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the pecans evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Toast until fragrant and the color deepens slightly, about 8 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. Transfer the baking sheet with the nuts to a wire rack.

Meanwhile, combine the granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice in a medium bowl; set aside.

Bring the rum, butter, vanilla and brown sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Stir in the toasted pecans and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the nuts are shiny and almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 11/2 minutes.

Transfer the glazed pecans to the bowl with the spice mix; toss well to coat. Return the glazed and spiced pecans to the parchment-lined baking sheet to cool. The nuts can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Recipe from “Cook’s Country Best Potluck Recipes”

COUNTRY CAPTAIN CHICKEN

Yield: 6 servings

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 onions, chopped coarse

1 green bell pepper, stemmed and seeded

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 cup chicken broth

5 tablespoons tomato paste

1 (9-ounce) jar mango chutney, such as Major Grey’s

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons Madras curry powder (see note)

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Note: Basic curry powder turns bitter after 6 hours in a slow cooker, but Madras curry powder will not.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 10 minutes (you may have to do this in batches). Cool the chicken slightly on a plate, remove and discard the skin, and transfer the chicken to the slow-cooker insert.

Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet and return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell pepper and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, broth and tomato paste and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Simmer until thick and smooth, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the chutney, garlic, curry powder, paprika, thyme and cayenne. Pour the mixture into the slow-cooker insert, submerging the chicken in the sauce.

Cover and cook on low until the chicken is tender, about 6 hours. Turn off the slow cooker, remove the lid and gently stir the sauce to recombine. Replace the lid and let sit for about 15 minutes to thicken the sauce before serving. If serving at a potluck, tear the chicken into bite-sized pieces, discarding the bones. If serving for dinner, serve over rice.

Recipe from “Cook’s Country Best Potluck Recipes”

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The Maine Ingredient: From pizza to pesto to jewelry, garlic scapes are versatile and tasty http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/13/the-maine-ingredient-from-pizza-to-pesto-to-jewelry-garlic-scapes-are-versatile-and-tasty/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/13/the-maine-ingredient-from-pizza-to-pesto-to-jewelry-garlic-scapes-are-versatile-and-tasty/#comments Wed, 13 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=967243 “Scape” is an old botanical term for a stalk that rises from a root. Garlic scapes ascend through the leaves of the plant and then twist into a curl or coil topped by a seed-like bulb.

If left to develop naturally, the garlic plant will throw all its energy into the flower, but when the scapes are harvested in full curl, they themselves are edible – crisp and delicious, with a milder flavor than a head of garlic.

Find them at your local farmers market, and then try this easy garlic scape pizza or the lovely green pesto sauce, or use the scapes in one of the other ways suggested below.

GARLIC SCAPE FOCACCIA PIZZA

Plain or rosemary focaccia makes a great quick pizza base, but you can also use store-bought prebaked pizza rounds or raw dough.

Serve with a tomato and sweet onion salad for a quick, light and delicious supper.

Makes 2-3 servings

One (12-inch round) focaccia (homemade or store-bought), sliced horizontally

8 to 10 garlic scapes, depending on size

5 to 6 tablespoons good olive oil, plus additional if desired

2/3 cup fresh goat cheese

1/3 cup shredded Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

½ cup torn basil leaves

Sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place bread rounds on baking sheet, arrange garlic scapes overlapping on focaccia, drizzle with olive oil, dot with goat cheese and scatter with shredded cheese.

Sprinkle hot pepper flakes evenly over the top and strew with basil leaves.

Bake in the preheated oven until cheese softens and garlic scapes are crispy and tinged with brown, 10 to 15 minutes. If scapes aren’t brown enough, turn oven to broil for a couple of minutes. Cut pizza in wedges, drizzle with a bit more oil if desired, sprinkle with sea salt, and serve.

GARLIC SCAPE PESTO

Toss this pesto with hot pasta, using some of the cooking water to thin the sauce, dollop on boiled potatoes or spread on chicken sandwiches. Pine nuts are the classic choice, but you can also use walnuts, almonds or sunflower seeds.

Makes about 1 cup

¾ cup coarsely chopped garlic scapes

½ cup packed parsley sprigs

1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup pine nuts

½ cup good olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a blender, food processor or mini-processor, pulse together scapes, sprigs, cheese and nuts. With motor running, drizzle in oil and process to make a slightly coarse paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This pesto will stay bright green for several days in the refrigerator or can be frozen.

Other ways to use scapes:

 Brush scapes lightly with oil and grill until blackened on edges. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a dribble of balsamic vinegar.

 Press into the tops of steaks, hamburgers or meaty fish such as swordfish and grill.

 Add chopped scapes to omelets, frittatas, and tomato and other pasta sauces.

 Finely mince and stir into fresh goat cheese or cream cheese.

 Add to flower arrangements.

 Wear on the wrist as beautiful fragrant jewelry.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” (Storey, 2012). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

facebook.com/brookedojny

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Elizabeth Knowlton shares her old family favorite fish chowder recipe http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/06/elizabeth-knowlton-shares-her-old-family-favorite-fish-chowder-recipe/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/06/elizabeth-knowlton-shares-her-old-family-favorite-fish-chowder-recipe/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 08:00:19 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=956960 Elizabeth Knowlton has adapted the recipe from her grandmother’s 1934 edition of “The Boston Cooking School Cook Book.” She says the chowder only gets better the longer it sits in the refrigerator (within reason), which lets the flavors meld. She suggests either making it a day ahead, or the morning of the day you plan to serve it for dinner.

Serves 6

3 slices thick bacon, chopped

2 leeks

1/2 medium onion, chopped

Salt and pepper

2 cups bite-sized pieces red potato

2 cups chopped carrots

1/2 cup chopped celery

2 (15-ounce) cans Bar Harbor brand fish
   stock

1 pound haddock, cut into small pieces

4 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

2 cups whole milk

Render the bacon in a 4- to 6-quart, heavy-duty soup pot or Dutch oven, then set the bacon pieces aside; leave 2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat in the pot and discard the rest.

Keep the white root end of the leek, discarding all but 2 inches of the green tops and any funky outer layers. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise, and then slice the halves into quarters. Then slice the leeks thinly crosswise and rinse the pieces thoroughly.

Saute the leeks and onion in the reserved bacon fat until they soften, about 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the potatoes, carrots and celery to the pot and stir. Pour in the fish stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Sprinkle in the parsley and thyme, and stir. Add the haddock to the pot, cover and simmer on low another 10 minutes.

Before serving, add the whole milk and heat through. Sprinkle each serving with some of the reserved bacon.

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Roasted tomatoes deepen gazpacho flavor http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/06/roasted-tomatoes-deepen-gazpacho-flavor/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/06/roasted-tomatoes-deepen-gazpacho-flavor/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=956795 I could eat quarts of gazpacho all summer long. When I set about making this version, the goal was a gazpacho with great, fresh tomato taste, but even deeper flavor.

The solution was simple: roast the tomatoes first.

The sweet, layered result is well worth the slight extra hands-off time it took to bake them. If you feel like your tomatoes are perfect, skip the roasting and get right to the chopping.

You can use peppers that are all the same color, but the blend of hues won’t be as varied. You also can swap in one green pepper; some people love their slightly more bitter flavor.

In a perfect world, all of the vegetables in a gazpacho might be finely diced, and look pretty and symmetrical. I don’t happen to live in a perfect world, and I happen to love my food processor, so I just use that to pulse the vegetables in batches so they chop evenly. Is it as pretty as dicing? Nope. Does it taste as good? Yup.

What to do with all of that extra time? I’m sure you’ll find something good.

ROASTED TOMATO GAZPACHO

Makes 6 to 8 servings

12 plum tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 seedless cucumbers, skin on, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 red orange pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces

6 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 to 3 cups tomato juice

3 tablespoons white wine, champagne, or white balsamic vinegar

Hot sauce to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, or lightly oil the sheet.

Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and place them cut side up on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle them evenly with the olive oil and the vinegar, and then sprinkle them with the sugar and salt. Roast them for about 45 to 50 minutes, until they are lightly caramelized and starting to collapse.

Add half of the tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onion and scallions into the food processor. Pulse to chop the vegetables as finely as you would like them in the finished soup. Turn the chopped vegetables into a bowl, and repeat with the remaining vegetables. Add half of this batch of chopped vegetables to the bowl, and then let the food processor run for about 20 seconds until the remaining couple of cups of vegetables are pureed. Add those to the bowl.

Add the tomato juice and vinegar, as well as hot sauce to taste. Stir, and adjust the salt and pepper as desired. Refrigerate the soup for at least 2 hours, and up to 2 days. Serve chilled.

Katie Workman is the author of “The Mom 100 Cookbook.”

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Head to farmers market with a strategy for canning http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/06/head-to-farmers-market-with-a-strategy-for-canning/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/06/head-to-farmers-market-with-a-strategy-for-canning/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=956798 After years of over- and underestimating, I finally know how many quarts of tomatoes we’ll use in the course of a year. I’ve learned to double up on the raspberry jam. Even the most delicious peach preserves go partly uneaten, but we’ll finish all the peach pie filling. Seven different chutneys could be too many.

Those are among the lessons learned. Beyond the seasonal time crunches of preserving – sour cherries are here and gone! – it’s important to be organized and tactical, and to put up only what you’ll eat or give away before it expires.

Once I have my wish list for the summer’s planned canning, I strategize at the farmers markets, too. I talk with producers about the food they’re growing, about the harvest, the weather, pests. Such chats inform my preserving plans.

When a farmer can tell me exactly when his raspberries will be ready for picking, I block out the closest weekend day to make jam. When possible, I email ahead to place an order; the farmers I buy from appreciate that.

By mid-season, farmers’ stalls are chock-full. So that’s the best time to shop around for gluts, seconds and imperfect fruits and vegetables at reduced prices.

Buy in quantity whenever possible. Learn to think in pounds, flats, boxes and lugs. I purchase in quantities based on specific recipes and have committed those amounts to memory: 3 pounds of fruit for jam, 5 pounds of vegetables for pickles, never less than 25 pounds of tomatoes at a time.

If you can get out of the city, you can find better deals. In rural areas, farm stands and pick-your-own farms can offer even greater values. Grab some friends and go picking. Speaking from experience, it’s remarkable how quickly three people can pick 45 pounds of blueberries.

Remember, preserving goes beyond canning. Freezing is an excellent way to store foods for winter, as is dehydrating. Whichever technique you choose, the effort takes time and money, so put up only foods you love and foods you will share with your family and friends.

In the meantime, give the accompanying recipe a try. It makes dependable dill pickle chips that are crisp, bright, sassy and ready for your summer cookouts. Make this the summer you put at least one home-canned food in your cupboard.

‘HAMBURGER’ DILL PICKLE CHIPS

These vinegar-brined pickles are crisp and tangy, and stack on a burger just like they should.

Use a mandoline to cut the best-looking, slimmest chips.

The glory of these pickles doesn’t end with the chip. When the snappy pickles are gone, there’s always a pickleback: a shot of pickle brine served with a shot of whiskey.

Only pickling cucumbers, often called Kirbys, will work in this recipe.

You’ll need a mandoline; a bubbler (or non-metallic knife); a tall, deep pot with a rack; and four 1-pint jars with new lids and rings.

The cucumbers need to brine for 8 hours. The pickles need to cure in a cool, dark spot for 1 month. They can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.

Makes 4 pints

3 1/2 tablespoons) kosher salt

11 cups cold water (nonchlorinated)

2 pounds pickling cucumbers (see headnote)

4 stems fresh dill, preferably with seed heads (may substitute 2 tablespoons dill seed)

2 teaspoons yellow mustard seed

2 cups distilled white vinegar

4 cloves garlic, root ends trimmed

Combine half of the salt and 8 cups of the water in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Stir well to dissolve. Add the whole cucumbers, and place a plate on top of them to keep them submerged. Brine in a cool spot for 8 hours.

Drain and rinse the cucumbers; dispose of the brine. Remove and dispose of a small slice from both ends of each cucumber. Use a mandoline, or a very sharp knife and a steady hand to slice the cucumbers 1/8-inch thick.

Divide the cucumber slices among the four jars. Divide the dill and mustard seed among the jars.

Bring the remaining salt, the remaining 3 cups of water, the vinegar and the garlic cloves to a boil in a 3-quart nonreactive pot over medium-high heat. Pour the hot brine over the cucumber slices, adding one garlic clove to each jar and leaving 1- to 2-inch of head space. You may have brine left over; dispose of it.

Run a bubbler, chopstick or non-metal knife around the inside of the jar to remove the air bubbles from the brine. Clean each jar rim with a damp paper towel, place the lids and rings on the jars, and finger-tighten the rings. Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.

Lift the jars from the boiling water, keeping them upright, and place them on a folded towel. Let them cool for several hours, then remove the rings, test the seals and wash the jars well before labeling. Let the pickles cure in a cool, dark spot for 1 month. Chill thoroughly before serving.

Note: Water-bath canning safely seals high-acid, low-pH foods in jars. The time for processing in the water bath is calculated based on the size of the jar and the consistency and density of the food.

For safety’s sake, do not alter the jar size, ingredients, ratios or processing time in any canning recipe. If moved to change any of those factors, simply put the prepared food in the refrigerator and eat within a month.

Cathy Barrow is the author of “Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving.” She blogs at:

mrswheelbarrow.com

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‘Lorena Garcia’s New Taco Classics’ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/06/cookbook-review-lorena-garcias-new-taco-classics/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/06/cookbook-review-lorena-garcias-new-taco-classics/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=956807 “Lorena Garcia’s New Taco Classics.” Celebra. $29.95

When I was growing up, taco night meant seasoned ground beef, chopped tomatoes, a little cheese and shreds of iceberg lettuce in a store-bought crunchy shell.

Taco nights were always my favorite and still are, but I now find myself gravitating toward the more creative and flavorful street-style tacos that have finally made their way to restaurants and food trucks in Maine.

Looking for a way to spice up Taco Thursday at Casa Graham, I turned to “Lorena Garcia’s New Taco Classics.” I’m glad I did.

In an engaging introduction, Garcia, with whom I was familiar from her appearance on “Top Chef Masters,” describes how the street foods of Latin America “welcome you with a warm hug” and describes her earliest memories in the kitchen with her mother.

“Dishes tell stories. Sometimes those stories echo the beats of a particular place or culture, and sometimes they echo a mix of beats,” she writes. “And when we explore the culinary beats we share in Latin America and the Caribbean, we must pay homage to the taco.”

Garcia does indeed pay homage to the taco and inspires her readers to do the same. She shares recipes that do not require hours of labor at the stove and are meant to be “accessible, shareable and celebration-worthy, even on a weeknight.”

The book itself is a feast for the eyes, with plenty of bright photos of colorful dishes. Each recipe is explained in easy-to-follow steps that make preparation seem easy, even for the more complex dishes.

The chapters are grouped in four sections: base, toppings, fillings and sides. The recipes are made for pairing and sharing and are easily tailored to your cravings and any occasion.

Recipes range from salsas to slaws to tostadas topped with roasted meats and veggies. I was tempted by a lobster guacamole until I realized it called for six lobster tails, quickly putting that into the “most expensive guacamole ever” category for me.

After a long debate with myself about what to try first, I settled on Cuban-style pork. The bite-size pieces of pork, marinated in a citrus-garlic-herb mix, are topped with peppery smothered onions and served atop a warm corn tortilla (I went with store-bought this time). Though the onions were a tad too peppery for my taste – I’d reduce the pepper next time – the marinade won me over. I think it would be great on grilled chicken as well.

I’ve already decided my next dive into “New Taco Classics” will be to make the roasted beef and potato tostada and, if I’m feeling ambitious, to make my own tortillas.

CUBAN-STYLE PORK

Makes 8 tacos

8 soft corn tortillas

1 recipe Cuban-style pork

1/4 cup cilantro sprigs

Lime wedges

FOR THE PORK:

1 pound pork loin, cut into bite-size pieces

8 whole garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons fresh oregano, finely chopped

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup lemon juice

Zest of 1 whole lemon

Zest of 1 whole orange

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

FOR THE SMOTHERED ONIONS:

1 tablespoon butter

2 cups white onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon celery leaves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon fresh black pepper

MAKE THE PORK:

1. In a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag, place pork loin cubes, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, lemon and orange zests. Set aside and let pork marinate for at least 21/2 hours or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove pork from refrigerator and remove excess marinade from pork cubes.

3. Heat saute pan over high heat. Add vegetable oil and pork to the pan. Saute pork cubes until they are seared, about 2 minutes.

4. Spread browned pork cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and set saute pan aside for the moment. Place the baking sheet in the hot oven and roast the pork chunks for 10 minutes.

5. Turn the oven to broil and cook the pork at the higher heat for 5 minutes, until golden brown.

MAKE THE SMOTHERED ONIONS:

1. In the saute pan, add butter and onions and saute over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

2. Squeeze lime juice over the onions and add vinegar, remove pan from heat. Finish with celery leaves, salt and pepper.

BUILD THE TACO:

On a warm corn tortilla, place the pork chunks and top with the smothered onions. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro and a lime wedge.

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Fish chowder brings back memories of an unconventional grandmother http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/06/fish-chowder-brings-back-memories-of-an-unconventional-grandmother/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/06/fish-chowder-brings-back-memories-of-an-unconventional-grandmother/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=956828 BATH — Elizabeth Knowlton waited at the stove for the chopped bacon to start sizzling. It would add flavor to and also be the finishing touch for her grandmother’s fish chowder.

The chowder is a thin broth of fish stock and whole milk filled with chunks of haddock, carrots, celery, leeks, onions and potatoes.

The recipe comes from the 1934 edition of “The Boston Cooking School Cook Book” by Fannie Merritt Farmer, which Knowlton inherited from her grandmother, Dorothy Wellington Britt. The book, stained from decades of use, sits on the kitchen counter at the Inn at Bath, which Knowlton owns, while she cooks.

Knowlton starts explaining the tweaks and shortcuts she’s made to the original recipe, such as substituting bacon for salt pork and adding chopped carrots and celery to give the chowder a little color. Rather than make her own fish stock, she uses canned Bar Harbor brand fish stock, “which is actually good and means you’re not dealing with heads and tails and stuff like that.”

This fish chowder is one of Knowlton’s favorite dishes, but not just because of how it tastes. When Knowlton was a little girl visiting her grandmother in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, her grandmother always made the chowder to welcome her, serving it from a big pottery urn.

“I loved the ritual of arriving for the weekend and the fish chowder would be on the stove,” Knowlton said.

Later, Knowlton’s mother made the soup in her electric skillet. Knowlton learned how to make the chowder at an early age, taught by her mother and grandmother. But Britt may have learned the recipe straight from the source. Sometime between graduating from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School and marrying her husband, Albert, a humanities professor, Britt attended Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery in Boston.

MISS FARMER’S PUPIL

Fannie Farmer was born in Boston in 1857 and learned to cook as a teenager. After overseeing her family boarding house for some time, she enrolled in the Boston Cooking School, and eventually she ran the place.

Farmer wrote a lot of cookbooks, but her best known is “The Boston Cooking School Cook Book.” It was an immediate best-seller and has since gone through 13 editions, the most recent in 1990. In the book, Farmer promoted standardized measurements, eliminating such charming but imprecise recipe instructions as a chunk of butter the size of a walnut or a teacupful of sugar.

In 1902, Farmer launched her own school, Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery, which was like a culinary finishing school for young women like Dorothy Wellington Britt.

Britt was born in Boston in 1893 and was a proper lady, like her name. She learned how to cook and sew, but dressed casually most of the time in her trademark blue jeans with braided hair wrapped around her head.

“She would have called this Baaath, where we are,” Knowlton said, drawing out her a’s into a long ahhh sound. “She had this great, very Brahmin-y Boston accent, not the typical Boston accent. I lived in Montana, and she called it Mahn-tahn-ah.”

Britt may have had a conservative upbringing, but she held tight to her free spirit. After she married, she lived for a time in New York City, where she became a painter. She sold some of her work, but her bread and butter was an interior design business she founded. After stints in Illinois, where Albert Britt was president of Knox College, and California, where he taught at Scripps College, the couple moved back to Massachusetts.

Once, when her two children were still little, Britt and her husband left them in someone else’s care and went out West to travel on horseback through the Canadian Rockies. “Who does that?” Knowlton said, marveling at her grandmother’s ahead-of-her-time adventures. “Who does that now?”

LIFE IN LETTERS

Britt left behind more than two dozen small, handwritten journals dating back to 1907, most of which now belong to Knowlton. (Every grandchild received the journal from the year of their birth; Knowlton kept the rest.) Most cover a single year, although one details a trip to Italy Britt took as a girl with her Aunt Ella. An entry in 1947 notes she woke up early at 6:30 a.m. to finish some ironing. She kept note of how much she paid for dinners and a corset, and she listed books she read and movies she saw.

Knowlton likes to skim through the diaries occasionally, seeking out historic dates. On Nov. 22, 1963, Britt wrote: “Started cleaning house when Van (a neighbor) phoned. Pres. Kennedy shot! Radio on til dinner while cleaning.”

Knowlton recalls a summer day in the 1970s when she canceled her plans to go to the beach after learning that her grandmother – then about 80 years old – planned to board a bus to Seabrook, New Hampshire, to take part in a nuclear power protest. Knowlton asked to tag along, “and so we hung out together.”

“(Nuclear power) was often a big topic of conversation at our dinner table,” Knowlton said, “so she just went to learn about it. I was blown away that she was doing it.”

When Britt died in 1996 at age 103, her obituary called her “a talented painter as well as an organic gardener and an early promoter of natural foods and vegetarian cooking.”

“She loved vegetable gardening, and she loved to cook,” Knowlton said. “Every night, all summer long, we’d just have stuff out of the garden.”

Britt did not talk about Fannie Farmer’s school much, Knowlton said, but she always referred to the iconic cook as “Miss Farmer.” Britt tucked notes, scribbled in tiny handwriting, into her copy of the cookbook marking her favorite recipes. The notes, which remain in the book, are her shorter, “cheat sheet” versions of Farmer’s recipes, Knowlton said.

One note goes with the lobster bisque, which may well be Knowlton’s least favorite dish of her grandmother’s. Whenever the family ate lobster, Britt would save the “lobster bones” to make bisque.

“She’d start it at 5 in the morning,” Knowlton recalled. “We’d be sound asleep. And the smell of the lobster bones just boiling …”

It wasn’t exactly appetizing at the eggs-and-toast time of day. Plus, she made the bisque with powdered milk and water.

ONIONS WITH ROOTS

Even the smell of fresh beets at a farmers market can bring back memories for Knowlton. Her grandmother and aunt were both avid gardeners who summered in Blue Hill, where Knowlton visited them every year. Both women were acquainted with back-to-the-land gurus Helen and Scott Nearing, who also lived in the area.

“My grandmother got some top onions from the Nearings, and then gave some to my dad, who then gave some to my friend Betsy’s father,” Knowlton said. “Betsy, 10 years after that, moved to Montana, and her dad gave her some from that same batch.”

Betsy’s onions eventually died, but by then she had spread them around to her own friends. About 10 or 15 years later, Betsy was walking through a friend’s garden in Helena and the friend pointed out some of the Nearing top onions. When Betsy’s son returned to Maine to go to college, she sent along some top onions for Knowlton, descendants of that original Nearing plant.

“Isn’t that a great story?” Knowlton said. “So now they’re here. I had them at my house down the street, and when I bought the inn I dug them up and brought them here.”

Just as the onions tied generations of gardeners together, Knowlton’s grandmother was the person who held the family together. Though she was often unconventional, she also loved and protected her family “like a mother bear,” Knowlton said.

“She was a real solid person in all of our lives,” Knowlton said. “She was glue for the family in many ways. Not matriarchal so much, but she was totally predictable all the time. You knew she would be there for you.”

After Britt died, Knowlton asked for the cookbook, both for sentimental reasons and because she wanted it for her cookbook collection. Britt kept most of her recipes on note cards, which were claimed by one of Knowlton’s sisters.

Knowlton returns to “The Boston Cooking School Cook Book” for basic recipes, which she then plays with in her own kitchen, as she has with the fish chowder, her favorite from the book and one she says has held up well.

“My sisters and I all make it now, and we’ve worked on the adaptations of it,” including a pesco-vegetarian version, Knowlton said. “We make it without the bacon and with olive oil. Leeks instead of a lot of onions.”

But her love of the book goes much deeper than a single recipe. The fact that she can still hold something that her grandmother held, and see her distinctive handwriting in the notes she tucked into its pages, is priceless.

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For summer baking, let your grill take the cake http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/03/green-plate-special-for-summer-baking-let-your-grill-take-the-cake/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/03/green-plate-special-for-summer-baking-let-your-grill-take-the-cake/#comments Sun, 03 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=950372 So I baked a cake on the grill. Not because my oven was broken, but because I am never keen to crank up my oven when the outside temperature breaks 80 degrees and was wondering if the grill might help keep my kitchen cool as my husband’s birthday approaches.

My grill is powered by propane gas and my oven by natural gas, both of which sit at the lower end of the carbon emissions scale than charcoal and electric grills as well as electric ovens.

The difference in environmental cost of using them on an hourly basis is negligible. But since I typically fire up the grill most summer nights anyway, turning on the oven seems redundant. And preheating the grill takes less time than getting my oven to reach 350 degrees F. And since as the oven bakes the cake it heats the house – a condition I value highly nine months out of 12 – I am always tempted to spend more energy on the electric fans to cool it down.

Given these factors, the greener option for my summertime baking is on my patio rather than in my kitchen.

If you’ve not thought about using your grill to bake, you’ve plenty of company. According to a study conducted by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, only about 4 percent of Americans have used their grills or smokers to make desserts regularly in the past five years. And the study doesn’t discern s’mores from grilled peaches from triple fudge brownies.

But Eric Davis, the organization’s spokesman, was upbeat about the future of grilled desserts. “The rule of thumb is simple: If you can bake it in your indoor oven, you can bake it on your charcoal, gas, electric or wood pellet grillor smoker,” said Davis. The only difference between the oven and the grill, he argued, was that the latter will give you a better flavor.

Armed with Davis’ enthusiasm, I whipped up a vanilla cake batter (my husband Andy’s birthday cake is always a Boston cream pie) and gave it a go. It worked, sort of.

The cake was lopsided, with a burnt bottom and a slightly beefy finish.

Given the output, the lessons learned from my al fresco baking experiment are many.

Firstly, don’t skip the prep. Clean the grill really well with a wire brush before you switch from savory to sweet. While most times you won’t be cooking directly on the grates (unless you’re trying to bake biscuits on the grill), the grill top is down while the baked goods cook to completion and the flavors from barbecued chicken and seared steak left on the grates burn off as the cake bakes. Those smoky flavors circulate and get locked into the goods for better or worse.

Secondly, take the grill’s temperature. Mine has a handy thermostat on the outside of the cover. I used a second meat thermometer lowered through the vent hole to make sure the outside sensor was accurate.

If your grill’s like mine, whose flame tends to creep up, check the temperature a couple of times as your dessert bakes to make sure it hasn’t also crept up, and adjust the gas flow accordingly.

And finally, diffuse the heat further so that the bottom of your baked goods are not charred before the top is set. I have a three-element setup on my grill, so I can turn the middle one off to even out the heat around the pan rather than have it directly beneath. Davis says for two-burner gas grills or charcoal ones, it’s best to concentrate the heat on a single side, and place your baking pan over the other.

There are purpose-built grill diffusion plates on the market that help to further spread the heat evenly, but I don’t bother with those.

Instead, I lay an old aluminum baking sheet across the grill. It does the trick as long as I understand that it will be unfit for baking future cookies in the oven or on the grill.

With a better handle on the nuances of grill-baking, this year’s birthday Boston cream pie is going to be the coolest yet.

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

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After the fast of Ramadan, Muslims will bring out the feast http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/29/after-the-fast-the-feast/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/29/after-the-fast-the-feast/#comments Wed, 29 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=946787 Ramadan, a holy month of fasting for Muslims that commemorates the first revelation of the Quran, will end next week with the Islamic religious holiday known as Eid-al-Fitr, or the “festival of breaking of the fast.” It’s a joyous occasion that begins with prayer and is followed by feasting.

Unlike, say, Thanksgiving in this country, food traditions for Eid-al-Fitr are far more individual. For the holiday, Muslims dress up, and give money, clothes and food to the poor so that they, too, may celebrate. Children receive candy and presents.

Feasting is especially welcome after Ramadan, during which Muslims refrain from consuming anything – even water – between sunrise and sunset. Each evening, after the sun goes down, they gather together for iftar, the breaking of the daily fast. The holiday began on June 6 this year and will end July 5 or 6, depending on when the new moon first appears.

“For me and my family, Ramadan is when you feel hunger, and you thank God because it’s precious how you can eat,” said Zoe Sahloul of Falmouth, executive director of the New England Arab American Organization, a new nonprofit group formed earlier this year to help Arab immigrants integrate into American society. “And you think, ‘There are people who cannot eat.’ ”

This year, for the first time, a special community Eid-al-Fitr celebration with music, games for children and a huge meal will be held July 9 in Westbrook, hosted by the New England Arab American Organization.

“Muslim or not, we’re inviting everyone to come and share a good meal,” Sahloul said.

We spoke with four Maine residents from three countries in the Middle East and Palestine to hear about the role food plays in their Eid celebrations.

Lebanon native Zoe Sahloul loves dolmas – stuffed grape leaves – but never makes them during Ramadan because she is not allowed to taste anything while she’s fasting, and the recipe is too time-consuming to get it wrong. On the first day of Eid, though, (the holiday can last one to three days) expect to find her in the kitchen stuffing dolmas. “I have my power back,” she says. “I have my energy back.”

On Eid, Sahloul’s family often shares a big meal featuring a lot of meat and rice with a couple of other local families. Some families prefer to eat fish, Sahloul said, while a Palestinian family she knows always has a barbecue brunch.

“Usually in the morning, in Lebanon back home, people that can afford it go buy meat or they slaughter a sheep, and then they donate that to people who could not afford to have meat for Eid,” Sahloul said. “Here what we do is we donate to the mosque, and then the people responsible in the mosque go and distribute that.”

Zoe Sahloul lightheartedly says she has no choice about her family’s evening meals during Ramadan itself. Every night, without fail, she has to make her husband’s favorite lentil soup and a fattoush salad.

“The whole of Ramadan I have to cook it,” she said. “When you eat it, you squeeze lemon on top. It’s very, very good.”

She also makes several small dishes, which might include a few appetizers, a chicken dish, or kibbeh, a popular Lebanese dish made of bulgur, minced onions, and ground lamb or beef with Middle-Eastern spices. Each evening after dinner, she prepares food for the following night’s iftar.

Sanaa Abduljabbar comes from Mosul, a city in Iraq now controlled by the militant Islamic group ISIS.

For her, the most important part of Ramadan and the Eid-al-Fitr celebration is not food for herself and her family, but the focus on charity. Particularly close to her heart this year are family members who have fled Iraq to get away from ISIS, and a good friend who is now living in a safe part of northern Iraq but has four children to feed.

“We know they are struggling, so we try to collect money,” she said, “and my husband is trying to put some money aside during this Ramadan to send to our family.”

On Eid, Abduljabbar and her family, who now live in Portland, visit two or three other families they know who are also from Mosul. They eat lunch or dinner and dessert together.

“We don’t have specific dishes for Eid,” she said. “I can make whatever they would like on that day.” Most of the time, though, she makes Iraqi food.

One family favorite is oroug, a baked patty filled with ground lamb, onions, green pepper, parsley, tomatoes and – if you like a little spice –- a small piece of hot pepper. The dough is made from jarish, a kind of bulgur wheat. Before they’re put into the oven, the patties are brushed with a mixture of oil, tomato paste, and egg. The oroug are typically eaten with a salad and lentil soup.

A typical Ramadan meal for the family starts with a cup of lentil soup – it’s easy on the stomach after a day of fasting, Abduljabbar says – followed by rice with chicken or a meat dish served with vegetables.

Anwar al Shareefi and her family are celebrating their first Ramadan and first Eid in America. They arrived here from Jordan just six months ago, and are now living in Westbrook.

“We want to start a new life here,” she said. “I like it. I think it’s a good place where you can start again.”

In Jordan, she fasted 15 hours a day during Ramadan, but here it is closer to 19 hours. “It’s a little bit different, but that’s OK,” she said. (The number of fasting hours varies from country to country depending on the time between sunrise and sunset.)

Al Shareefi said she breaks her daily fast by eating yogurt and dates, and drinking a cup of water. “That’s how we prepare our stomach to be able to eat after the long day,” she said.

Next comes some Arabic bread, or maybe white rice “because it has quick energy for us.” Main dishes might include Musakhan, a mixture of bread, chicken, onion and fragrant spices roasted together until it is “so delicious.” There may also be a vegetable or potato soup and a salad. Dessert is likely to be bassboosa (or basbousa), a traditional Middle Eastern semolina cake soaked in syrup.

At the end of Ramadan in Jordan, al Shareefi said, families visit each other and make ma’amoul especially for Eid. Children, and even older people, are given money. And, like millions of other Muslim families around the world, they share their food with the poor.

“You should give them the best thing that you have,” al Shareefi said. “The kind of food that you want to eat yourself, you should give it to them.”

Deen Haleem, a Portland restaurateur who owns Tiqa, was born Muslim of Palestinian descent and still considers himself Muslim, “but I would have to tell you that I’m probably not the best-practicing Muslim.”

Still, whenever he can, he travels to see his family in Chicago to celebrate Eid al Fitr.

“I haven’t been as good as (at visiting) since I’ve gotten into the world of restaurants,” he said. When you’re a kid, Eid is like Christmas, he said, with children unable to sleep because they’re anticipating money and candy. As for the adults, they get to enjoy “one of the best meals of the year,” he said. In his family, that means a whole lamb accompanied by rice with raisins and pine nuts. Just as the vast majority of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving, all across Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria and Morrocco, he said, “a whole cooked lamb will still be the most common dish.”

“It’s commonly stuffed with wild rice and all kinds of dressings,” Haleem said. “There’s a dry rub on it. It goes into the oven for four or five hours. The fat from the lamb melts into the rice and just creates amazing flavor.”

Haleem says his family gradually immigrated from Palestine to the United States beginning in the 1920s, when his great-great-grandfather, who served with the U.S. military in World War II, brought them over a few at a time. “My dad was the last of all my uncles and aunts to hold out,” he said. Haleem’s immediate family immigrated from their village on the West Bank to Jordan, then Kuwait, and arrived in Chicago in 1972.

Haleem’s favorite Eid desserts include ma’amoul – cookies stuffed with either dates or nuts such as pistachios and walnuts – and qataif, which are dessert crepes stuffed with cheese or mixed nuts. Haleem has a version of qataif on Tiqa’s brunch menu.

Haleem said just the smell of qataif being fried or the sound of ma’amoul being knocked out of their molds for baking can transport him back to his childhood and family Eid celebrations.

Haleem described hospitality at Eid-al-Fitr, as “voracious” – in the best possible way.

“If you and I walked into a Middle Eastern home on Eid al Fitr just before they started dinner,” he said, “I could guarantee you we would be invited to sit and have dinner with them.”

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‘The New Sugar & Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking’ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/29/cookbook-review-the-new-sugar-spice-a-recipe-for-bolder-baking/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/29/cookbook-review-the-new-sugar-spice-a-recipe-for-bolder-baking/#comments Wed, 29 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=946685 “The New Sugar & Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking,” by Samantha Seneviratne, photography by Erin Kunkel. Ten Speed Press. $27.50.

Three baking books based on the same intriguing idea came across my desk recently. All take classic western recipes for cakes, cookies and tarts and infuse them with exotic, often Indian, spices and flavors.

Even the titles of two of these books are exceptionally similar: “The New Sugar & Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking” and “Sweet Sugar, Sultry Spice: Exotic Flavors to Wake up Your Baking”; the third is called “The Cardamom Trail: Chetna Bakes with the Flavors of the East.”

I’m an avid baker who owns a lot of (too many) baking books, yet I couldn’t think of any others that take this approach. Now, apparently, spices are in the air. I snagged all three, and with nutmeg grater and mortar and pestle in hand, decided to give each a try.

First up: “The New Sugar and Spice” by Samantha Seneviratne, a New York-based food writer, recipe developer and food stylist.

If you can judge a book by its cover, this book – with its lovely cover shot of Pistachio and Chocolate Butter Cake – earns an A+. I was seized by a powerful and immediate desire to bake this cake/eat this cake/buy this book. Though I haven’t yet managed to slake my desire – the cake requires hard-to-find pistachio paste – I did bake The New Chocolate Chip Cookie, which adds shredded coconut and pistachios to the classic cookie and swaps out butter for coconut oil. The cookies were reasonably popular among my colleagues, although I found them a tad salty and too virtuous tasting. I intend to stick with The Old Chocolate Chip Cookie.

I followed the cookies with Ricotta Cheesecake with Bourbon-Raisin Jam. It was pretty good, but when it comes to cheesecake I say “pretty good” doesn’t cut it. Worse, I found the directions sloppy in the extreme. Among the problems, I didn’t need the amount of graham cracker crumbs called for in the crust. The instructions shorted the baking time by at least 13 minutes, and the raisin jam used so much liquid, I had to remove 3/4 cup before I could puree the jam. It annoyed me to waste that amount of bourbon.

The third time, thankfully, was the charm. The Blackberry Cuatro Leches cake was easy and delicious.

I’m not sure I would call it “bolder,” as the book title promises, but neither I nor any of those who also devoured the cake cared. It was good enough to persuade me to give “The New Sugar & Spice” another chance. And I was glad I did.

The Black Pepper, Dark Chocolate and Sour Cherry Bread was also excellent, and the intriguing Custard Cake with Chocolate and Prunes was decadent and really scrumptious, though the instructions about swirling in the custard didn’t match my experience in the kitchen.

The chapters in the book are divided by flavors, such as Peppercorn & Chile or Clove & Cardamom. The photos are stunning. I even like the size of the book, though frankly, I think the storytelling recipe headnotes could be trimmed.

Fingers crossed that the many recipes I still have my eye on – among them Pear Tarte Tatin with Anise Seed Caramel and Profiteroles with Coconut Allspice Ice Cream and Hot Fudge – deliver on how very, very good they sound.

BLACKBERRY CUATRO LECHES

The recipe, from “The New Sugar & Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking,” calls for fresh blackberries; I used frozen with no ill effects.

Serves 12

Unsalted butter, for greasing the pan

12 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) fresh blackberries

1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 large eggs, separated

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup plus 3/4 cup whole milk

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

3/4 cup condensed milk

3/4 cup evaporated milk

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan.

Cut 6 ounces of the blackberries in half lengthwise and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar on medium speed until pale and thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in 1/3 cup of the whole milk and the vanilla seeds. Beat in the flour mixture just until combined.

In a large bowl, with clean beaters, whip the egg whites until foamy and the yellowish hue has disappeared, about 1 minute. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar while beating and continue to beat the mixture until you have shiny, medium-stiff peaks, about 2 minutes. Stir one-quarter of the egg white mixture into the flour mixture to loosen it. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the remaining whites into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and scatter the halved berries on top. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool on rack for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup whole milk, the condensed milk, the evaporated milk, the heavy cream, and the vanilla extract. Cut around the edges of the cake. With a toothpick, poke holes all over the cake. Pour about 1 cup of the milk mixture evenly over the cake and let it soak in. Then pour another 1 cup over the cake. Cover and chill the cake for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Serve slices of the cake with the remaining milk mixture and remaining blackberries. Store leftovers, well-wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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The Maine Ingredient: Native strawberries and backyard rhubarb make all-star desserts http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/29/the-maine-ingredient-native-strawberries-and-backyard-rhubarb-make-all-star-desserts/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/29/the-maine-ingredient-native-strawberries-and-backyard-rhubarb-make-all-star-desserts/#comments Wed, 29 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=946694 Berry or other fruit shortcake is surely one of this country’s most estimable contributions to the list of the world’s great desserts. Simplicity itself, shortcake is the epitome of good New England country cooking – sweetened biscuit dough, split, buttered, layered with sweet fruit filling and topped with whipped cream.

The only admonition is to use a light hand with the dough lest it become tough.

Herewith are two springtime shortcakes – strawberry, on a classic egg biscuit, and rhubarb, using an unusually delicious ground almond-enriched biscuit. Either would make a nice finale to a July 4 barbecue.

‘U- PICK’ NATIVE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE WITH EGG BISCUIT CAKE

Dead ripe, fragrant native strawberries, whether picked on your hands and knees or bought from a roadside stand or farmers market, are surely one of nature’s priceless seasonal offerings. In a perfect world, strawberry shortcake would be made only from local berries, picked that day, still warm from the sun, and never refrigerated. The “short” egg biscuit – here made into one large cake for an impressive presentation for a large group – is really best when eaten warm, directly from the oven, but all the elements can be made ahead and held for a few hours.

Serves 8

STRAWBERRY FILLING:

2 quarts ripe strawberries, preferably native berries

¼ to ½ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

EGG BISCUIT CAKE:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut in about 10 pieces, plus 3 tablespoons softened unsalted butter for spreading on the biscuit

1 egg

½ cup milk

1½ cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

To make the strawberry filling, choose 8 good-looking berries and set aside.

Hull remaining strawberries. Place half of the berries in a large shallow bowl or on a large rimmed plate and crush, using a potato masher or fork. Slice remaining berries and add to the crushed berries, along with sugar and lemon juice. The amount of sugar you use will depend on sweetness of berries. Stir well to combine.

Set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving. (Can be prepared up to 6 hours ahead and refrigerated. Bring back to room temperature well before using.)

To make the shortcake, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch cake pan.

In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pulse to combine. Distribute the 6 tablespoons butter over the flour mixture and pulse the machine until the butter is the size of peas.

In a glass measuring cup, whisk the egg with the milk. Pour the milk mixture slowly through the feed tube, pulsing just until dough begins to clump together. (To make by hand, whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl, work in cold butter with your fingertips, add egg and milk and stir with a large fork to make a soft dough.)

Scrape out onto a lightly floured board, knead lightly a few times, and roll or pat to an 8-inch round. (The dough can be prepared several hours ahead and refrigerated at this point. To make individual shortcake biscuits, see Note.)

Transfer the dough to the prepared pan, patting it in gently to make it fit. Place in preheated oven and immediately reduce the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 22 to 26 minutes until pale golden on top. Cool in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes.

To assemble, combine the heavy cream and the confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until soft peaks form. Pay attention, because if you over-whip the cream, it will turn to butter.

Transfer the shortcake to a large serving platter using a large spatula. Using a long serrated knife, split the cake horizontally and lift off the top carefully with the spatula. The biscuit is somewhat fragile, but it’s not a big deal if it breaks.

Spread the bottom of the cake with the 3 tablespoons softened butter. Spoon about half the berry mixture over the bottom layer, and dollop half the whipped cream over the berries. Replace shortcake top, spoon the rest of the berry mixture over, and top with the remaining whipped cream. Decorate with the reserved whole berries. Cut into wedges to serve.

Note: To make individual biscuits, roll or pat the dough to 3/4-inch thickness and cut 8 biscuits using a 2½-inch cutter. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes.

FRANK’S RHUBARB SHORTCAKE WITH ALMOND-BROWN SUGAR BISCUITS

My father-in-law, Frank Dojny, was a multi-talented man with a gentle disposition, who was never pushy about anything – except rhubarb. He had a passion for it. He grew it, but he couldn’t cook it, so every spring Frank began to bring me large bunches of rhubarb, and if I didn’t get around to it fast enough, he made it plain that he was beginning to get impatient.

I’d stew up the rhubarb to stock the freezer, and sometimes combine it with strawberries in a pie or cobbler, but after I made this almond-brown sugar shortcake one year, it became Frank’s favorite and most frequently requested rhubarb dessert. He was right. The orange liqueur rhubarb sauce is an exquisite pairing with these richly flavored almond biscuits.

Serves 4

RHUBARB MIXTURE:

1½ pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

ALMOND-BROWN SUGAR SHORTCAKE:

¼ cup sliced almonds

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut in about 10 pieces

¼ cup milk

Lightly sweetened whipped cream

To make the rhubarb mixture, in a medium-large saucepan, combine rhubarb with the sugar and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring, reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is tender but still holds some of its shape, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the liqueur, and cool to room temperature. (Can be made several hours ahead and refrigerated. Rewarm in a microwave.)

To make the biscuits, combine almonds and two sugars in a food processor and process until nuts are finely ground. Add flour, baking powder and salt, and pulse to combine. Distribute butter over the flour mixture and pulse until most of the butter is the size of small peas. Slowly pour milk through the feed tube, pulsing until dough begins to clump together.

Scrape out onto a lightly floured board, gather together, knead a couple of times and pat to an approximate 3/4-inch thickness. Using a 23/4- or 3-inch cutter, cut 4 biscuits, recutting scraps if necessary.

Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet at least 1½ inches apart. (Can be prepared up to 3 hours ahead and stored, loosely covered, in the refrigerator.)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bake biscuits in the preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Cool slightly on a rack.

To serve, split the shortcakes with a serrated knife. Place bottoms on serving plates, spoon about half the rhubarb mixture over, and replace the tops. Spoon remaining rhubarb over, and top with dollops of whipped cream.

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

facebook.com/brookedojny

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Marinating salmon in juice makes a delicious difference http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/29/marinating-salmon-in-juice-makes-a-delicious-difference/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/29/marinating-salmon-in-juice-makes-a-delicious-difference/#comments Wed, 29 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=946703 I try to get fish on my family’s table two or three times a week. The research describing the incredible heart and brain benefits to eating fish, especially fatty fish like salmon, is compelling.

Many home cooks shy away from making salmon, thinking it is too strong or fishy. With a few tips, you can be on your way to restaurant-quality salmon dishes.

First tip: Buy salmon straight from the fish counter. Because it is so perishable, the fish counter will often have gorgeous wild salmon on sale. The fish should smell like a salty ocean, not “fishy.” Buy it and make it the same day.

Second tip: Use high heat, and don’t overcook. The longer salmon cooks, the stronger the flavor, so a quick high-temp cook will keep the flavor mild, making outdoor grilling an ideal method for salmon cookery.

Cook to medium rare for best results – the interior of the salmon should be still pink and moist, not completely opaque, and certainly not dry enough to be “flaked.”

Last tip: try marinating the salmon to balance the flavor. Even a simple marinade of a little lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper will make a noticeable, if subtle, difference in the final result.

My secret ingredient for salmon marinades is pineapple juice, which adds both a little sweetness and a touch of acid, both ideal for a good flavorful soak. Once you try this simple recipe, you’ll be grilling salmon all summer long.

PINEAPPLE JUICE MARINATED SALMON

Serves 4.

1/2 cup pineapple juice

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

1/4 cup chopped green onion

1/4 teaspoon Sriracha, or other hot sauce

2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

4 (5-ounce) fillets wild salmon

Parsley and lemon slices for garnish, optional

Mix the pineapple juice, soy sauce, ginger, green onion, Sriracha and oil in a medium bowl. Place half the marinade in a small bowl and set aside. Place the salmon fillets in the medium bowl and coat well with the marinade. Marinate for 20 minutes or up to 12 hours.

When ready to serve, heat the grill to medium high. Grill the fish until just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, heat the reserved marinade in a small sauce pan until simmering. Spoon on the cooked salmon to serve. Garnish with chopped parsley and sliced lemon, if desired.

Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook “Supermarket Healthy.”

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Barton Seaver dives deeper into sustainable seafood http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/29/chop-chop-barton-seaver-dives-deeper-into-sustainable-seafood/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/29/chop-chop-barton-seaver-dives-deeper-into-sustainable-seafood/#comments Wed, 29 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=946745 Sometimes it seems like not a month goes by without a new cookbook by fish sustainability expert, chef and South Freeport resident Barton Seaver showing up in the mail. Most recently, it was the 304-page “Two if by Sea,” chock-full of recipes; indexes of fish species; short essays on sustainability, equipment and ingredients; more essays and step-by-step photographs on technique; and pictures of food, fish and Seaver himself fishing and cooking.

Just a few months earlier, it was “Superfood Seagreens,” a book devoted to persuading Americans to eat and cook seaweed.

Seaver, director of the Sustainable Seafood and Health Initiative at the Harvard School of Public Health, has written six cookbooks in as many years, and in the same period he married, bought a home and moved to Maine.

When we called him up to ask how the heck he fits it all in, he mentioned that book number seven is due to the publisher in two months, with book number eight, “another massive manuscript,” to follow next March.

Seaver, 37, had just returned from speaking at a conference in Dallas put on by the giant food service company Sysco. We began our conversation by asking him about, well, sleeping with the enemy, at least from a locavore/sustainability perspective.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: So how did Sysco executives, vendors, hotel executives, etc. take your message of sustainability?

A: I dedicate quite a bit of my time to engaging with the very largest players in the food service – those who are most often maligned as the problem – because of the fact that their ability to create change is so great. And they have, in very authentic ways, come to realize the civic virtues of local and sustainable and the romance that is being revived in our relationship with food. They’ve come to understand that as fundamental to operating a healthy business.

It’s easy to write off the enemy, but it’s a lot more helpful to engage them, and I don’t believe they’ve ever really been the enemy. They are American businesses doing what American businesses do – they are competing, and they succeeded. That’s capitalism, and you can’t blame them for it.

Q: I really called to talk with you about productivity. Six books in six years? What drives you? What’s your secret?

A: When I was first approached to write a book, it happened in a very unconventional way, in that the publisher, Sterling, sought me out, called me from New York, came down (to Washington, D.C., where Seaver had a restaurant at the time) to meet me and presented me a two-book offer. I thought about it and said I would love to write one book on the condition that my wife (a graphic designer) gets to design the entire thing. The only book she had ever designed at that point was her art school thesis. And I wanted to work with our wedding photographer to do all the photos. She had never shot food before. What I wanted the book to be – and what I think we, to a large extent, achieved – it communicates a sense of process, thought and strategy rather than just a static approach. I decided I wanted to write the book because I had something to say about food.

Q: As someone who’d never written a book, you were pretty nervy.

A: I knew what I wanted, and I knew I didn’t want to send my ideas off to some firm in New York who didn’t know me, with whom I had no connection, to whom this was just another project. I wanted it to be intimate, and I wanted it to reflect how I feel about food. This was “For Cod and Country.” Why I wanted our wedding photographer is that wedding photographers are particularly well trained to notice the special moments happening on the periphery and to whip around and capture them.

Q: To return to my question, though, why so many?

A: Because I am so passionate about seafood. Writing a book is a learning process for me. I am forever a student. Especially in the seafood conversation, the dialogue keeps shifting. There is more to say every day. And even my own viewpoints have shifted greatly from book to book as I have become more knowledgeable.

There is also a very practical aspect to this, which is my career is in the food world, and books are my avenue to remain relevant.

Q: You never wish you had more time to write each book?

A: I work very quickly. It’s the nature of being a chef. Chefs don’t have the luxury of taking our time. “I wish I had another half hour on your meal tonight. I could have really made that a ‘Wow’ if I had another half hour.” That thinking is not built in. Also, because I am so deeply involved with seafood in every aspect of my life, I don’t have to (start) thinking about seafood to get my head in the book. Of course, deadlines – I don’t know a single author who says, “I love deadlines. Can you move it up a week?”

Q: How do you describe yourself these days? Are you a chef? A writer? An activist?

A: I am definitely not an activist. I am not an advocate. I make that distinction, because I don’t have your answers to what food, sustainability, community means to you. Advocacy and activism is all too often speaking at people.

And for a long time, I have shied away from labeling myself as a chef out of respect for the folks who bravely don their whites and charge into the breach every single night. As my wife pointed out the other day – we were having this very same discussion – “What are you? What do you do?” I said, “I don’t consider myself an author.” She said, “You published six books, you idiot. I think you should say you are an author.”

The terminology I use is I am a recovering chef and author, and I work to support our civic values and the public health created by them.

Q: I’m not sure I know what you mean by civic values.

A: All too often we look at sustainability as simply empirical scientific measures of the state of a certain biological system, and therefore we end up in conversations that are inherently limited. If it’s only about the fish, where do the fishermen fit in? Where does public health fit in? Where does heritage fit in? That’s what I mean about the civic values. It’s not just about how we impact nature.

Q: May I return to the question of productivity? I know your mother died young. I know you were once very ill yourself. Did these circumstances have an impact?

A: You know, I’ve often asked myself this question. Yeah, I’m keenly aware of mortality, and by virtue of that I do not find a source of pessimism, but I am driven by the sense of optimism. I watched my mother die, and her only (regret) was that she wasn’t going to be able to enjoy another day, to live another day fully.

So I don’t think of it as a pressure, I don’t feel as though I am working against an unfair time line. I’m simply doing things that bring me joy. My mother taught me, and my illness especially, that it is absolutely worth facing the incredible terror of being courageous in your life and in your decisions, and that’s what we did. I wrote a book!

“For Cod and Country” was probably the most challenging, not just because I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, (my wife) Carrie had no idea, the photographer didn’t know what she was doing, and the publisher had no idea what they were going to receive. It was difficult because I was recently divorced from restaurants, and it was a bit of a struggle to write a cookbook and not a chef’s book.

In the process of writing those recipes, I had to learn to occupy the spiritual space of my own home kitchen. I had graduated high school and started cooking professionally a few months later. I never had a home kitchen – well, with anything in it but beer and booze. Dinner was a profession. I had to learn how to be a home cook. That has driven some of my motivation to write cookbooks. I am discovering cooking. This is still kind of new and fun to me. I get great joy out of writing them. Why not write as many as the publishing world will allow?

Q: Tell me about your next project.

A: It’s a very different book. It is 550-page thesis that tells the story and history, both through a culinary and anthropological lens, of the American seafood industry. I am elucidating all of these broad ideas and historical patterns by writing personality sketches and narratives of every single species that is legally landed in the U.S., and that is daunting.

Q: And the book after that?

A: All of these fish are entering my house. I’m tasting. I’m analyzing. Many I’ve had before. Many are new to me. If I have all the fish in the house, I might as well cook them. So it’s a comprehensive book using all these fish. The title is “The Joy of Seafood.” It has about 1,200 recipes.

It reverses one of the unsustainable behaviors consumers force onto the seafood industry. They come to the counter and say, “I need snapper.” We’ve too long told the oceans and the fishermen what we are willing to eat rather than ask them what they are willing to supply. The idea is, shift the order. Purchase first, then come home and decide what to cook.

LOBSTER ROSSEJAT

Seaver describes this Catalan dish as his favorite recipe in “Two if by Sea.”

1 pound spaghetti

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided use

Salt

2 (1 1/2 pound) lobsters, preferably new shell

1 bay leaf

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika

1 recipe Classic Aioli

1 bunch fresh herbs, such as chervil or parsley, leaves only

Lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Working in small batches, break the spaghetti into roughly 1-inch pieces and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 11/2 teaspoons olive oil and toss to coat. Bake the noodles, tossing every few minutes, until deep brown all over, 10 to 12 minutes. (Keep a close eye on them as they can go from pale to overdone in no time.)

Remove them from the oven and let them cool. If the pasta has cooked a little too much, scrape it onto a cool baking sheet to stop the cooking.

Bring 6 cups lightly salted water to a boil. Add the lobsters and the bay leaf and cook for 6 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer the lobsters to a bowl to catch all the juices, remove the meat from the lobsters and place it in a separate bowl. Add the shells (discarding the innards) to the cooking water. Pour the lobster juices through a fine-mesh strainer into the cooking water. Bring to a gentle simmer to further infuse this quick broth.

Preheat the broiler to high.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large paella or wide enameled pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until the edges begin to brown. Add the paprika and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add the noodles and toss to coat with the oil. Add 2 cups of the hot lobster broth and bring to an energetic simmer. Do not stir the noodles as they cook. When the broth has been absorbed, add another 2 cups, cooking until absorbed. Add the remaining broth and bring to a full boil. Immediately place the entire pan directly under the broiler.

Cook until the noodles have absorbed almost all of the broth, 8 to 10 minutes. The noodles will curl up and the ends will become crisp.

Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside while you cut the lobster tails into small medallions and the claws in half. Place the meat in neat arrangements around the pan. Place a very large dollop of aioli in the center of the dish and scatter the herbs over the top. Serve with the extra aioli and lemon wedges on the side.

CLASSIC AIOLI

Seaver often flavors his aioli with herbs. This recipe is from “Two if by Sea.”

1 egg yolk

1 large clove garlic, grated

11/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

2 teaspoons salt

2 cups vegetable oil

1 tablespoon water

Combine the egg yolk, garlic, vinegar and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Place the bowl on a damp towel or have someone hold it for you to keep it steady. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil until the sauce emulsifies and thickens. As it thickens, add 1 tablespoon water a few drops at a time (this will thin the aioli so it can take more oil). Continue drizzling and whisking until all the oil has been incorporated. Yes, your arm may be a little tired, but this is definitely worth the effort. Aioli keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Cookbook review: ‘Cooking: How to Make Food for Your Friends, Your Family and Yourself’ and ‘You’re the Chef’ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/22/cookbook-review-cooking-how-to-make-food-for-your-friends-your-family-and-yourself-and-youre-the-chef/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/22/cookbook-review-cooking-how-to-make-food-for-your-friends-your-family-and-yourself-and-youre-the-chef/#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=936383 “Cooking: How to Make Food for Your Friends, Your Family and Yourself.”
By Patrice Daniels and Darcie Johnston. $12.99
“You’re the Chef: a Cookbook Companion for ‘A Smart Girl’s Guide: Cooking.’ ”
By Lisa Cherkasky. American Girl. $9.99

Cooking with my 9-year-old is always a hoot. She’s old enough to be genuinely interested in cooking, but too young to work solo around boiling water and too-tall oven racks.

If my son’s eyes are too big for his stomach when it comes to dessert, Vivian’s cooking ambitions are too big for her skill sets. Just this morning she went through 8 eggs trying to make me breakfast, before giving up and waking me at 5:45 to confess.

I blame “MasterChef Junior.”

All of which brings me to a great pair of kid cookbooks, “Cooking: How to Make Food for Your Friends, Your Family and Yourself,” and its companion cookbook, “You’re the Chef,” by American Girl Publishing.

The “Cooking” book is where your child starts – it’s loaded with tips, like how to whisk, what a “flexitarian” is, pictures of various cooking utensils and the do’s and don’ts of handling raw meat. It has some recipes, but mostly we used it for descriptions of cooking terms, how to use a knife, and how fat and salt and seasonings affect taste.

One amusing section on a “safe kitchen” has a picture of two girls – one “don’t” example of a girl wearing loose dangling sleeves, long necklace, flip-flops and loose hair, while the squared-away girl next to her has an apron, tied-back hair, sleeves rolled up and bare wrists and hands.

“You’re the Chef” appealed to my daughter because it’s not a “baby” cookbook, with PB&J recipes and a condescending tone. I like it because it strikes a middle ground, emphasizing that the kid is the cook – but each recipe has an “ask an adult to help” line for some things, like using a grater or handling boiling soup.

The recipes spell out the steps – not just wash the vegetables, but pull off the tough strings and brown leaves. Not just remove vegetables from the stove, but “drain them in a colander in the sink.” The quesadilla recipe notes “if anything falls out, just tuck it back in later.”

The clear instructions in made it easier for Viv to feel confident in knowing exactly what to do – and what to expect – without having to ask. That’s a big plus in my book.

The cookbook, which can work as a stand-alone purchase, also has great common-sense new-to-cooking tips on safety, the value of prepping ingredients, reading the whole recipe before you start, measuring carefully and a section on cooking terms and tools.

Viv devoured both books before picking out her favorite recipes from “You’re the Chef” to try. The 80-page cookbook also has a smart, functional design. Its narrow, tall format and sturdy ring binder make it easy for small fingers to manipulate, and it stays open when propped up on the counter.

The recipes are solid comfort food favorites that appeal to the younger set, but adults won’t turn down the results when they include homemade granola, coconut curry shrimp, a homemade marinara sauce and Italian minestrone. We decided an apple-blueberry crisp would be the perfect dish to warm us on still-cool Maine spring nights. My girl loved mixing up the topping and carefully coring and peeling the apples as she fine-tuned her knife skills.

The final result, she said, was “a little sweet … four out of five stars.”

Just like her.

APPLE-BLUEBERRY CRISP

Makes 6 to 8 servings

½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant)

½ cup brown sugar, packed

¼ cup (plus 1 tablespoon for the apples) all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

5 to 8 Granny Smith apples, enough for 6 cups when sliced

2 cups blueberries

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Vegetable-oil spray

Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Ask an adult to help with the knives, peeler and oven.

Turn on the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the topping. Put the uncooked oats, brown sugar, ¼ cup flour and salt into a medium-size mixing bowl and stir. Cut very cold butter into small pieces, and add it to the oatmeal mixture. With clean fingers, rub the oatmeal mixture and butter together, pressing hard enough to mash the butter into small pieces but not enough to melt it or blend it in. Set aside.

Prep the apples. Peel the apples, cut them into quarters and use a paring knife to cut out the core from each piece. Thinly slice the apples and place them in a separate, large mixing bowl.

Mix and bake. Add the blueberries, sugar, 1 tablespoon of flour and cinnamon to the apples and stir. Lightly coat an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking dish with vegetable-oil spray, and spoon in the fruit. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, set the timer for 55 minutes, and bake. Perfect crisp has a browned top and bubbling edges. Remove the crisp from the oven, let it cool and serve with ice cream, if you like.

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Marinated scallops wrapped in prosciutto great for grilled kebabs http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/22/marinated-scallops-wrapped-in-prosciutto-great-for-grilled-kebabs/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/22/marinated-scallops-wrapped-in-prosciutto-great-for-grilled-kebabs/#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=936401 I’ve always been a sucker for scallops. They’re sweet, meaty, cylindrical and bite-sized. This particular recipe puts scallops at the center of a skewer’s worth of very tasty kebabs. It requires no more than 15 minutes hands-on time and 40 minutes total from start to finish. And it’s how I spell dinner – and relief – at the end of a long day of work, when I have neither the time nor the patience to make anything more complicated.

First, buy the best scallops available. Sometimes, scallops are harvested, stored in water with preservatives, then kept at sea for days before the boat returns to shore. These are known as “wet” scallops, and I do not recommend them.

Instead, look for “dry” scallops or “day boat” scallops, which are caught and brought to market right away. Of these, you want the biggest, plumpest specimens you can find. Those are the ones that will most easily pick up nice grill marks when you set them down across the grates.

The bright, tangy citrus marinade here is a mixture of lemon juice, orange juice and the zest of both fruits, along with a little olive oil. It’s your choice of herb – sage or basil (the home team liked them both) – after which each scallop is wrapped in a strip of prosciutto.

You want to be careful to fold the prosciutto and herbs around the scallops so they’re flush with the scallops’ edge. That will ensure the scallops cook evenly on the grill after they’ve been threaded onto skewers. How to ensure they don’t stick to the grill? Pat them dry, then brush them with a little oil right before grilling.

The grill must be well heated before you start cooking. Once you’re rolling, don’t turn over the skewers until the scallops are easily loosened from the grill, which is how you know they’ve been properly seared. This will only take 2 to 3 minutes a side.

Give each one a little poke in the belly to see if it’s almost done. You want to pull them off the grill when there’s still a little bit of give, indicating they’re slightly undercooked. The carry-over cooking time will finish the job.

CITRUS-MARINATED SCALLOP

AND PROSCIUTTO KEBABS

Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing the scallops

16 sea scallops (about 11/2 inches in diameter, 1 pounds), tough muscle discarded

8 thin slices prosciutto di Parma (about 4 ounces)

16 large basil or sage leaves

Preheat the grill to medium.

In a medium bowl whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, orange juice and orange zest with a hefty pinch of salt until the salt has dissolved; whisk in the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the scallops and toss until they are well coated. Let them marinate for 8 minutes.

Cut the prosciutto slices in half crosswise and fold them into strips about 11/2 inches wide (the same width as the scallops) and 5 inches long. Arrange the strips on a work surface and place a basil leaf in the center of each strip. Top the leaf with a scallop and wrap the prosciutto around the scallop to enclose it.

Thread 4 prosciutto-wrapped scallops onto each of 4 metal skewers. (If using wooden skewers, soak them for 20 minutes in water before threading the scallops.)

Pat the exposed scallop surfaces dry and brush them lightly with olive oil.

Place the skewers on the grill and cook the scallops for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until almost firm to the touch, transfer to plates and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Sara Moulton is the host of public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.” She was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years. Her latest cookbook is “Home Cooking 101.”

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Paneer turns grilled cheese into a spicy, veggie entree http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/22/paneer-turns-grilled-cheese-into-a-spicy-veggie-entree/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/22/paneer-turns-grilled-cheese-into-a-spicy-veggie-entree/#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=936413 When it comes to cooking, my father has never really strayed into the kitchen.

But the joy of being my father’s daughter is that I know the things that make him stop and smile for a moment. And that thing for him, when it comes to food, is cheese, in particular paneer.

Paneer is Indian unsalted white cheese. It has a mild flavor so takes to marinades really well and unlike most cheeses, it can be grilled without melting so that it softens in the middle and chars on the edges.

This marinade is for the dish known as paneer tikka in India. It gives the paneer an addictive, lip-smacking and savory flavor.

SPICY GRILLED PANEER

The paneer is best served hot with a salad, raita and some Indian flatbreads, like roti or naan. Paneer is more widely available in Asian supermarkets, specialist stores and online. You’ll also need skewers.

Makes 4 servings

4 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1 lemon, juiced, plus extra wedges to serve

1 tablespoon chickpea flour

4 large cloves of garlic, peeled

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoons kosher salt

11/2 teaspoons red chili powder

1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil

1 pound paneer

2 handfuls of fresh coriander, chopped

2 bell peppers, cubed

1 red onion, cut into 8

1 small zucchini, thickly sliced

Blend the yogurt, lemon juice, chickpea flour, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt and chili powder together in a blender, then tip the marinade into a bowl. Add a handful of chopped coriander and mix.

Cut the paneer blocks into 9 equal sized cubes and add to the marinade. Stir to mix. Then thread each of your skewers alternately with the onion, pepper, zucchini and paneer.

To cook the paneer, coat griddle pan with oil and heat pan until very hot.

Lightly oil the pan so the paneer doesn’t stick. Place the skewers onto the pan and turn every minute or so until they are evenly cooked and a little charred on each side.

Serve with fresh coriander and lemon wedges.

Meera Sodha is an Indian foods expert and author of “Made in India: Recipes from an Indian family kitchen.” She lives in London and blogs at:

meerasodha.com

Twitter: meerasodha

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Ramen (the real thing) relies on a rich broth http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/22/ramen-the-real-thing-relies-on-a-rich-broth/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/22/ramen-the-real-thing-relies-on-a-rich-broth/#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=936440 Egg noodles. I love this innocuous pasta. The rich, tender noodles comfort me when I have a cold, have suffered a challenging day or need to recover from a week of “research eating.”

When they are buttery and cheesy, or topped with chicken paprikash, my childhood feels close. Fried crispy and topped with veggies, my first trip to New York’s Chinatown comes to mind. Brothy and enlivened with bold seasonings, I recall my first Tokyo ramen shop alongside a dear brother.

Perhaps those egg noodles are the reason a great big bowl of ramen proves so appealing. Not the cheap mushy instant ramen of college days; rather, the toothsome noodles nestled in rich broth, alongside chunks of vegetables, egg, roasted pork or chicken. Wow, I enjoy this hearty bowl any time of the day or night, cold weather or warm. Let’s make it at home.

Ramen’s convoluted history encompasses Chinese noodles and Japanese tastes. The story goes that Chinese cooks in Japan seasoned egg noodles in meat broth with soy sauce for a savory snack. The dish gained popularity in the 1950s for its low price and simplicity. Ever since, cooks happily tailor the combo into gourmet bowls with international influences. There are thousands of combinations all captured by the name “ramen.”

These days, many big cities sport ramen shops both plain and fancy. We stop for lunch, pre-theater, post-theater, midshopping and for a savory brunch. At home, a little advance cooking means a weeknight treat packed with flavor, little fat and big satisfaction.

Let’s start with the noodles. Look for egg noodles in the Asian section of most large grocery stores. I like Wel-Pac’s chuka soba just fine. More toothsome are the medium egg noodles sold in nest shapes by Blue Dragon and Sharwood’s. Plan on about 2 ounces uncooked noodles per main-dish serving.

Fortunately, these dried noodles can be kept on the pantry shelf for several months. And they cook fast – three to four minutes in boiling salted water. Working ahead, you can hold back a bit on the cooking; remove them with tongs to a plate and cool. Just before serving, give them a dunk back into the same boiling water for 30 seconds.

Noodles in hand, let’s talk broth. The best bowl of ramen is only as good as the broth.

My favorite way to make a well-seasoned broth is in the slow cooker. I can leave it unattended while I’m working and come home to a house that smells good. The slow-cooker proves especially welcome in warm weather because it doesn’t heat up the house like a stockpot bubbling on the stove.

Diet gurus, health professionals and cookbook publishers rattle on about “bone broth” for good nutrition and hunger satiation. Save for vegetable stock, most stocks are in fact bone broths. The bones add flavor to water. Simple as that. Roast the bones if you like a roasted flavor in your cooking. When it’s really warm out, I skip the roasting of the bones and welcome the lighter-tasting broth.

Chicken wings make terrific broth – they add flavor and body and just enough fat for satisfaction. Ditto for pork neck bones. The combination yields great flavor for little money. You could stop there; simply roast the bones, add water and simmer away. Alternatively, for a seafood-based broth, use fish bones (not roasted) and shrimp shells and reduce the cooking time by half.

When making broth for ramen, I add some dried shiitake mushrooms for their umami quality along with green onion for sweetness and rice wine for interest.

I also like to add a piece of seaweed to my broth. This sea plant adds an intriguing sea flavor. I simmer a small piece in water for a few minutes and then let it steep while the bones roast in the oven. Certified organic kelp from Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, sold at Whole Foods, similar to Japanese kombu, tastes good here.

Broth freezes beautifully. I package it in 16-ounce containers for easy thawing. Reheat the broth and season it highly with soy and/or miso paste before using. The following broth recipes are so good, you can drink them from a mug to help stave off hunger.

For spicy ramen bowls, dissolve a tablespoon or two of Korean gochujang chili paste in the hot broth. It’ll make you perspire on a warm day – trust me, it’s worth it.

I like to add grilled chicken thighs and soy-wasabi cooked eggs to my bowl of broth and noodles. For variety, I also squirrel away bits of roasted meat and vegetables to tuck into ramen bowls. I especially like charred and roasted flavors in my broth. Armed with egg noodles and delicious broth, a custom bowl of ramen is at your ready. At home, anytime.

Here are some other ideas for additions to your ramen bowl:

 Pan-seared, sliced, fully cooked pork belly (look for this in Trader Joe’s refrigerated section)

 Thinly sliced roasted pork or grilled country-style pork ribs

 Grilled or steamed shrimp, peeled

 Grilled or pan-seared pieces of superfirm tofu

 Grilled or pan-charred sliced sweet onion or whole green onions or knob onions

 Grilled or broiled sliced eggplant seasoned with soy sauce

 Fresh mung bean sprouts and bamboo shoots

 Steamed peapods

SLOW-COOKER ROASTED BROTH

No slow cooker? Simmer the bones with the kombu water and remaining ingredients in a large pot, stirring often, with the lid partly covering the pot, for 3 to 4 hours.

Makes about 8 cups

11/2 pounds chicken wings, separated at their joints

11/2 pounds pork neck bones

1/4 to 1/2-ounce piece kombu (kelp), optional

4 green onions, chopped

2 dried shiitake mushrooms, broken

1/4 cup sake or Chinese rice wine (or dry white vermouth)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put wings and bones on a large baking sheet in an uncrowded layer. Roast, turning once or twice, until golden brown on all sides, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, if using the kombu, heat 10 cups water and the kombu to a boil in a large saucepan. Simmer about 10 minutes. Then let steep while the bones finish browning. Use tongs to remove and discard the kombu.

Transfer the bones with all their pan drippings to a large (4-quart) slow cooker. Add kombu water (or 10 cups fresh water if not using the kombu) and the remaining ingredients. Cover and slow-cook on low, 8 hours.

Strain broth into a container. Refrigerate, covered, up to 1 week. Freeze up to several months.

SHORTCUT BROTH: Simmer 1 quart of store-bought chicken, vegetable or seafood broth (check out your local butcher’s house-made broth if possible) with 2 tablespoons of mirin or dry vermouth, 1 or 2 tablespoons miso paste, 1 or 2 thin slices fresh ginger and 1 or 2 teaspoons soy sauce in a saucepan for 10 minutes. Strain before using.

Shiitake mushroom caps and soy-wasabi hard-cooked eggs are favorite elements to add to a bowl of ramen noodles.

Shiitake mushroom caps and soy-wasabi hard-cooked eggs are favorite elements to add to a bowl of ramen noodles.

GRILLED CHICKEN RAMEN BOWLS

I like to add a couple of spoonfuls of miso to give the broth body and flavor. Shiro miso is light and sweet – perfect for a weekday bowl of ramen. Shichimi togarashi is a Japanese chili pepper spice blend. Use a combination of salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes if it is unavailable.

Makes 2 servings

4 cups slow-cooker roasted bone broth or shortcut broth, see recipes

2 tablespoons shiro miso, optional

1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce to taste

1 to 3 tablespoons chili paste or Korean gochujang, optional

1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh shiitake mushroom caps (no stems)

3 medium egg noodle nests, about 5 ounces total

2 grilled shichimi chicken thighs, see recipe, thinly sliced

1 soy wasabi hard-cooked egg, see recipe, halved

2 radishes, very thinly sliced

1/4 cup sliced bamboo shoots

2 green onions, charred in a skillet or chopped

Small handful fresh bean sprouts

Chopped fresh cilantro

Shichimi togarashi

1. Heat broth in small saucepan until hot. Season to taste with miso, soy sauce and chili paste. The broth should be highly seasoned. Add mushrooms and simmer over low heat.

2. Have all the remaining ingredients ready and near the cooking surface. Fill 2 deep soup bowls with very hot water to heat the bowls.

3. Meanwhile, for noodles, heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop noodles into the water; cook, stirring, until al dente (tender but still a bit firm in the center), about 3 minutes. Use tongs or a slotted wire basket to remove noodles to a plate. Save the cooking water for later.

4. When ready to serve, bring the noodle cooking water to a boil again and dunk the noodles back in to reheat, about 20 seconds. Dump the hot water out of the soup bowls. Divide the hot noodles between the heated bowls. Top each with half of the sliced chicken, egg, radish, bamboo shoots, green onions and bean sprouts.

Gently ladle hot broth over all. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve right away. Pass the pepper blend at the table.

SOY-WASABI EGGS: Mix 3 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 teaspoon wasabi paste in a small dish. Add 2 peeled hard-cooked eggs. Let soak, turning eggs often, 10 to 20 minutes until eggs are golden in color. Remove from soy bath.

Shichimi togarashi, a Japanese chili pepper spice blend, is sprinkled on chicken thighs before grilling.

Shichimi togarashi, a Japanese chili pepper spice blend, is sprinkled on chicken thighs before grilling.

GRILLED SHICHIMI CHICKEN THIGHS

Makes 4 servings

4 to 6 medium boneless chicken thighs

Japanese shichimi togarashi

Sesame seeds

Finely sliced green onions

Heat a gas grill or prepare a charcoal grill to medium heat. (Or heat a broiler to medium high.)

Meanwhile, generously sprinkle chicken thighs on all sides with shichimi.

Grill chicken directly over the heat source (or on a pan set 8 inches from the broiler), turning once, until almost firm when pressed with your finger or a spatula, usually 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from grill. Sprinkle generously with sesame seeds and green onions.

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Steve Shaffer’s Ratatouille for Two http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/21/steve-shaffers-ratatouille-for-two/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/21/steve-shaffers-ratatouille-for-two/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 21:38:09 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=936800 If I had to be honest with myself, Steve could eat mashed potatoes and peas every night and be a happy camper. And I would have a lot more time on my hands. But what can I say, I love to cook, and I love hitting on something that this anti-gastronome will ask for again and again. The following recipe is not the one I made the first night we met, but mishmash of several favorite meals Steve and I have developed over the years. It’s a little time-consuming, but the vegetarians in your life will love you.

1/2 teaspoon salt plus salt for eggplant

1 small globe eggplant, sliced into rounds 1/2-inch thick

1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs

2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons

1 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging

2 large eggs

1/4 cup milk

1 medium-sized zucchini, sliced on a diagonal 1/2-inch thick

1 medium-sized yellow squash, sliced on a diagonal 1/2-inch thick

1 medium yellow onion, chopped finely

2 green bell peppers, chopped finely

1 teaspoon fresh minced marjoram

1 teaspoon fresh minced oregano

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 (14-ounce) can chopped or pureed plum tomatoes

1 teaspoon sugar

Hot paprika, to taste

Salt the eggplant all over and allow to drain in colander for a half-hour. Rinse the eggplant and pat dry.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix the breadcrumbs, 1 cup of the cheese, and the 1/2 cup olive oil in a shallow bowl. Spread the flour on a plate, and beat the eggs and milk in another shallow bowl. Dredge the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash slices in the flour, then the egg mixture, then the breadcrumb mixture, pressing the crumbs in to make sure they stick.

Place the breaded vegetables on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake until they are crisp and golden, about 25 minutes.

While the vegetable are baking, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, marjoram and oregano, and sauté until everything begins to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute.

Stir in the tomatoes, sugar and paprika. Cover and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Then remove the cover and cook for 5 minutes more.

To serve, spread a spoonful of the sauce onto 2 plates, add a layer of the baked vegetables and a generous amount of the remaining 1 cup cheese. Repeat with another layer of sauce, vegetables and cheese. Serve hot, alongside a crisp salad of simple, fresh greens.

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