Saturday, December 1, 2007

Maine Shrimp Risotto for the Holidays

Here is a recipe from an email I received from Deanne Herman at the Maine Dept of Agriculture. The risotto would be an excellent addition to your holiday meal!
Maine shrimp can be enjoyed simply and quickly, for example sautéed gently with olive oil, chopped garlic and a little bit of lemon juice. At holidays, we have a bit more time available to us and can consider taking on more complicated preparations. This dish offers a fresh, Maine take on the classic Italian rice dish risotto. It calls for shrimp stock which you can easily make yourself if you are starting with whole Maine shrimp in their shells. After boiling them, you simply pour off and strain the cooking juices. If you are using shelled Maine shrimp, either fresh or frozen, you may substitute vegetable stock in place of shrimp stock.

This recipe was adapted by the folks at GetRealMaine from Rob Evans, Chef/Owner of Hugo’s Restaurant.

2 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 pound risotto rice
1/2 pound of Maine shrimp meat
1/2 cup fresh peas (or frozen)
8 thin slices of prosciutto
1 cup of grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 small white onion, diced small
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese (optional)
2 tablespoons cold butter
1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
2 1/2 quarts shrimp stock, hot
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Sweat onions, garlic, crushed red pepper, coriander, cumin and paprika for about 10 minutes in a heavy bottom pan.
2. Add rice and gently stir for 3 minutes to warm rice.
3. Add wine and continue cooking until rice has absorbed all the liquid.
4. Add a third of the stock and make sure the rice is not sticking to the pan.
5. When stock gets below the rice level, ladle more stock into rice.
Continue until the rice is "al dente."
6. Add shrimp, butter, mascarpone, peas, lemon juice, grated cheese, thyme, salt and pepper. Adjust consistency with shrimp stock at end so risotto runs level in bowl.
7. Line shallow bowl with 2 slices of prosciutto side by side.
8. Spoon risotto into bowls and fold over ends of prosciutto.
8. Garnish with whole peeled shrimp if desired.

Serves four

Local Maine for the Holidays

I just received an email reminding me of the benefits we all can enjoy by focusing on local Maine ingredients. Here is an excerpt:
By giving a gift of Maine food and agricultural products, whether to a loved-one or yourself, you’re not only doing something nice for that person, but also for the Maine economy. Maine farmers capture only 4% of the nearly $3 billion Mainers spend on food each year. It has been estimated that if Maine families were to spend even just $10 a week on Maine agricultural products, it would add up to an additional $100 million staying in the Maine economy. That’s one New Year’s resolution that we all can afford to keep.

Thanks for sharing this Maine-grown gift list with your readers, listeners, and viewers.

Deanne Herman
Marketing Manager
Maine Department of Agriculture
28 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Chocolate Coeur a la Crème with Raspberry Sauce

Since the Holidays are coming, I thought you might enjoy a not too sweet, but still elegant dessert idea. Coeur a la Creme is a delicious, easy, make the night before, dessert. It can be romantic or fun for a party. If you don't have heart shaped coeur a la creme molds, you can use a small colander. Line it with the cheesecloth as directed. When it comes time to unmold, place it in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove it from the freezer and follow the instructions below. Slice the beautiful chocolate coeur into slices and serve with the raspberry sauce. Happy Holidays!

1/2 c heavy cream, divided
4 T dutch process Cocoa
1 T butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c confectioners sugar
1 t vanilla extract

Line two 1/2-cup coeur a la crème (heart shaped) molds or two 6-ounce custard cups with a double thickness of dampened cheesecloth, extending far enough beyond edges to encompass filling completely.
Combine 1/4 cup of the cream, cocoa and butter in small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Remove from heat; cool.
Place cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whip until smooth. Add cocoa mixture, blending well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl often to completely homogenize the chocolate. Add remaining 1/4 cup cream; whip until blended. Spoon mixture into prepared molds. Smooth the tops of the mixture in the molds. Fold the cheesecloth over top. Place a wire rack in a tray with 2 inch sides; place molds on rack. Chill at least 6 hours or overnight.
To serve, gently remove the cheesecloth from the top of your Coeur a la crème and invert each mold onto a chilled dessert plate; remove the cheesecloth very carefully. Spoon Raspberry Sauce around the hearts.
Raspberry Sauce
Puree 1 cup fresh raspberries until smooth. Add 3 T powdered sugar and puree again.
Strain pureed berries through fine sieve into small bowl. Stir in 1 T Chambourd or Grand Marnier.
Grate a little bittersweet or white chocolate over the top for an additional flair.

Monday, November 19, 2007

ChocoMochaLatte Soup at the Prudential Center

Happy Holidays! I love this season that starts with gratitude and continues for weeks on end with delicious celebrations. The gifts of time spent with friends and family are my favorite ways to enjoy the holiday spirit.
We went to Boston last weekend and spent Saturday at the Prudential Center Barnes and Noble store, signing a few books and sharing gallons of warm, silky ChocoMochaLatte Soup. It is the perfect liquid chocolate ending to a wonderful meal. I have to mention how the folks at Barnes and Noble were so kind and accommodating to us. It was delightful to be in the busy store and find smiling faces all around. Kudos to the staff!! Rachel Ray was there in the afternoon signing copies of her new book. We were able to stop by and say hello. I offered her copies of Fresh Maine Salads and Superb Maine Soups. It was fun to hear her say-" So you're the one with the chocolate soup everyone is talking about!" Best of luck to her in her culinary ventures.
Randy Smith- the photographer for Fresh Maine Salads and Superb Maine Soups and Charles from Nutmeg Foods were also in attendance to sign and sample.
Charles and his wife Victoria have developed a wonderful line of chocolates from their shop in Portland, Maine. Their chocolate caviar is the perfect garnish for this rich soup.

ChocoMochaLatte Soup
A strong coffee infused cream embraces the dark sweet chocolate in this soup. Find amazing chocolates at Nutmeg Foods.
2 cups heavy cream
4 Tablespoons freshly ground espresso beans
2 cups dark chocolate bits
2 ounces chopped unsweetened chocolate
2 Tablespoons heavy cream for garnish
chocolate covered espresso beans
In a small saucepan heat the ground espresso and heavy cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Remove from heat. Pour through a fine mesh sieve lined with a coffee filter into a clean small saucepan. Whisk in the chocolates. Stir until melted. Serve warm.
Garnish with chocolate covered espresso beans or chocolate caviar and drops of heavy cream floated atop the soup. If you place a drop of cream and gently drag a toothpick through the entire drop, (right through the middle) it will form a pretty heart.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mom’s Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies

I grew up with these delectable soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside cookies. When they come out of the oven the whole house smells delicious. Taking that first bite of cookie, just out of the oven, hot and c crispy with the gooey melted chocolate in molten little bits… My mom made these on a regular basis- never without my absconding with a good portion of the dough. She would protest with a smile, knowing that her resistance would never work. When my brother was in high school she even started a little cookie delivery business. They are worth their weight in gold.
1 c brown sugar 1/2 c granulated sugar 1/2 c butter
1/2 c shortening 1 1/2 t. Vanilla 2 eggs
2 1/2 c flour 1 t. Baking soda 1/2 t. Salt
1 12ounce package chocolate chips 1 c nuts (optional)
If you plan to bake your cookies right away preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together the two sugars, butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add vanilla.
Add eggs one at a time beating thoroughly after each.
Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Mix in dry ingredients until well blended.
Stir in chocolate bits. Add nuts if you like- pecans and macadamia nuts are especially good. Scrape down the sides of your bowl to be sure all of the goodies are incorporated into your dough.
At this point you have many options:
I find using an ice cream scoop -the kind with a moving release band inside the scoop-, I can drop the cookies onto the baking sheet easily and the sizes are consistent. Baking times will vary depending on the size of your scoop. For a 2 ounce scoop, drop the cookies about 2” apart on a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until they are golden brown.
Another option is to spread the dough into a greased 9 X 13 baking pan. Bake these for 25 minutes or until the center is lightly brown. Cool a bit then cut them into squares. Baked this way they make wonderful ice cream sandwiches. Place a cooled square on a plate. Top with a scoop of your favorite ice cream. Cover with another square. For the deluxe version- drizzle with hot fudge sauce. Yum!
This dough freezes extremely well. If you want to save some for later, spoon or scoop the dough onto a plastic wrap lined pan. Top with another piece of plastic and place in your freezer. When the dough balls are hardened, transfer them into a plastic, zip freezer bag. They store indefinitely. This is a dangerous thing to do if you like the dough. Removing one from the freezer to bake or to eat frozen is a treat anytime. You can bake them straight from the freezer. Just keep an eye on them as they bake for a bit longer.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Curried Sweet Potato Soup with Spiced Rum

A friend of ours came to a soup party and was willing to give this a try- even though she had never liked sweet potatoes. It was her favorite soup of the night- and mine too. The curry is a nice undertone. Combine it with the rum and the flavors are complex and scrumptuous.
Serves 4-6
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 scant Tablespoons curry powder
1 cup chopped onions
3 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 cups peeled, cubed sweet potatoes
4 cups peeled, cubed Maine potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cups hearty vegetable stock
3 Tablespoons spiced rum
8 oz cream cheese
4-6 Tablespoons sour cream
In a large saucepan, warm oil over medium-low heat. Add curry powder and onions and cook for five minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and ginger. Cook for another 3 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, Maine potatoes, salt and peppers. Add stock and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
Using an immersion blender, puree soup in the pot; or pour soup into a food processor or blender, process until smooth and return to pot. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted and incorporated. Add more stock or water for the consistency you’d like. Add rum and serve immediately.
Top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of paprika.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Warm and Delicious Thai Portobello Tortellini Bisque

Many thanks go to the wonderful folks who made the book launch party for Superb Maine Soups happen. Adele Gale made this Thai inspired soup that was a huge hit! Now you can make it for your family- it warms the throat, fills the belly and causes the yummy noise. My Favorite sound!
East meets West in this spicy, creamy, full-flavored soup. Portobello mushrooms and crabmeat are favored tortellini fillings, but if you have a different one you love, use it in this soup.
Serves 4

1 shallot, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 t curry powder
2 T minced garlic
1 T olive oil
1 large portobello mushroom cap, thinly sliced
1⁄2 t coriander
1 T sambal oelek (chili paste; see page 000)
2 c full-flavored chicken stock
1 can coconut milk (Be sure to use unsweetened coconut milk—not cream of coconut.)
1 9-oz package refrigerated mushroom- or crabmeat-filled tortellini
1 T fresh basil, snipped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 c heavy cream

In a medium saucepan, cook the shallot, jalapeño pepper, curry powder, and garlic in olive oil about 1 minute, until the shallot is tender. Add the portobello and coriander, and cook 2 more minutes. Stir in the sambal oelek and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes.
Stir in the coconut milk, tortellini, and basil. Cook and stir about 5 minutes more, or until the pasta is tender but still firm. Stir in the tomato and cream and cook until the soup is heated through; do not boil. Ladle into soup bowls and enjoy!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Baked Brie with Dried Cherries and Maple Sugar

Be careful with this one! If you serve it to hungry guests as an appetizer they might not leave room for dinner. Its outstanding with a soup and salad for a delicious meal.
6” wheel of brie
1 sheet of puff pastry at room temperature
1/2 c dried cherries
2 T crumbled maple sugar
1/2 c rough chopped pecans or pinenuts (optional)
Place a piece of waxed paper or parchment on your work surface.
Unwrap and unfold your puff pastry sheet. Press any cracks to seal pastry into a whole sheet.
Sprinkle the maple sugar in the center of the pastry and smooth out to the size of the wheel of brie.
Mound the dried cherries and pecans on top of the sugar.
Gently place the brie upside down on top of the fruit and nuts.
One by one carefully pull the corners of the puff pastry up onto the brie. Use a touch of water when you place the pastry corners on top of each other to seal. After the four corners are touching- encasing the cheese- trim the four sides if you need, so they will not be too bulky. Save the trimmings. Now carefully pull the sides down to fully encase the brie.
Use the trimmings to decorate the top. You can slice long thin triangles and roll them up from one point. Dab a bit of water on the top of the brie with your finger and gently press your decorations on.
Bake in a 400’ oven according to the puff pastry package directions. 30 minutes is usually enough. Bake until golden brown.
Serve with a knife and crackers or bread rounds.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sweet and Sour German Potato Salad

This warm and tangy salad is delicious with grilled bratwurst or any kind of barbeque. It holds its own alongside other flavorful foods. Mom used to make this when we were growing up- it is sweet and salty with the familiar potato to soak up all the wonderful dressing.

For the salad:
6 large Maine potatoes
1 large Vidalia onion

For the dressing:

1 lb bacon, diced
3⁄4 c finely chopped yellow onion
3 T flour
1⁄2 c white vinegar
3⁄4 c water
3 T sugar
1 T celery seeds
1 1⁄2 t salt
1 t fresh ground black pepper

Wash and trim the potatoes and onion. Peel the potatoes if you like. Cut the potatoes and onion into quarters. In a large saucepan boil the potatoes and onion until the potatoes are fork tender but not mushy. Drain the water (reserving it if you are making foccacia). Let the potatoes cool. When they are cool enough to handle chop them into bite-sized pieces. Slice the onion into bite sized pieces.

In a large pan, fry bacon till crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, crumble and set aside.

Add the 3⁄4 c onion to bacon fat in pan and cook 5-8 minutes till onion is soft. With a slotted spoon, remove onion and set aside with bacon.

Whisk flour into bacon fat. Add the vinegar, water, celery seeds, sugar, salt and pepper. Heat to a boil. Set pan on medium heat and cook till thickened.

Add potatoes, cooked Vidalia onion, bacon and sautéed onion. Gently stir to coat the potatoes. Serve while warm.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Chunky Fresh Gazpacho

Chunky Fresh Gazpacho
This is one of the easiest recipes you’ll find to create this refreshing summer classic. The addition of vinegar gives it a delicious, subtle tang.
Serves 8 to 10

2 c tomato juice or vegetable juice cocktail
1 c peeled, seeded, finely chopped tomatoes
2 c diced canned tomatoes, with their liquid
1 c finely chopped celery
1 c seeded and finely chopped cucumber
1⁄2 c finely chopped red bell pepper
1⁄2 c finely chopped Vidalia onion
1⁄4 c finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 T red wine vinegar
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 T chopped fresh oregano or 1 t dried
2 t sugar or Splenda sweetener
1 t salt
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 t cayenne pepper (optional)
10 sprigs fresh parsley, for garnish

Place all of the ingredients except the 10 parsley sprigs in a large stainless steel or glass bowl. Cover and chill 6 hours or overnight. Serve cold, garnished with sprigs of parsley.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Heirloom Tomato Bisque from Morning Dew Farm

This simple, creamy soup is enhanced by the bright flavor of fresh basil. It is delicious warm or at room temperature by the bowl or atop pasta with steamed veggies and a touch of garlic oil for a complete meal. Heirloom Tomatoes are found at many farms in Maine- Morning Dew Farm in Newcastle has several delicious varieties available through their CSA or at the Damariscotta Farmer’s Market.
Serves 6
1 large Vidalia or sweet onion, minced
3 cloves garlic minced
3 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white or black pepper
2 Tablespoon sugar
6 large tomatoes peeled, seeded and chopped (approximately 4 cups)
1 cup light cream or plain soymilk
12 large leaves fresh basil
Place the onion in a medium saucepan. Sauté over medium heat with the garlic, olive oil and butter. Cook until the onions are transparent. Stir the onions often- Do not let the onions brown.
Deglaze the pan with sherry. Stir the onions and sherry well, scraping the bottom to incorporate all of the brown bits of flavor. Cook the sherry and onions on medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook over low heat another 10 minutes, stirring often.
Wash the basil leaves well and pat dry with paper towels. Stack the leaves one on top of each other on a cutting board. Roll the leaves up into a tight cylinder with the stems at the bottom and the tips at the top. Using a sharp knife and starting at the tips/top, carefully cut the leaves into 1⁄8” (1mm) slices. End just before the stems. Set the stems aside (these are wonderful to put in a baggie in the freezer for the next time you want extra flavor in your homemade stock.) Lift the ribbons gently and sprinkle them down on the cutting board to unfurl and separate the ribbons. This is called a chiffonade of basil.
Now is the time to puree your soup. If you have an immersion blender it is perfect for blending the soup right in the pan. If you have a regular blender, puree the soup by the cup-full being very careful not to burn yourself. Return all of the pureed soup to the pan.
When the tomatoes and onions are all pureed add the cream to the pan and stir. Heat the soup on low just until it’s is warm enough for your taste.
Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with the fresh basil ribbons. You are ready to eat!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Oyster Creek Mushroom Company- Wild Mushroom Dip

Dan and Candice Heydon own and run Oyster Creek Mushroom co. in Damariscotta, Maine. They are certainly the purveyors of the most extensive wild mushroom selection in the region. Fortunately they attend many of the farmer's markets so we can all enjoy fresh and dried mushrooms as often as possible. Oyster Creek sells online so you too can create delicious dishes with wild Maine mushrooms. This recipe is from their website and is absolutely delicious!
Oyster Creek Wild Mushroom Dip
8 oz. cream cheese
3/4 oz. Maine Wild Mix {dried mushrooms}
2 - 3 cloves roasted garlic
parsley and or chives (chopped)
salt & pepper to taste
Reconstitute dried mushrooms in 2 cups hot water for 30 minutes. Drain, saving the soaking liquid. Rinse mushrooms with cold water, then press with a paper towel to remove excess liquid. Chop the mushrooms fine, saute in very little olive oil a few minutes. Add soaking liquid to mushrooms being careful not to use any sediment at the bottom (sometimes wild mushrooms can be gritty). Simmer slowly, stirring occasionally until liquid is gone but mixture is still moist. Remove mushrooms to a bowl to cool. Add mashed, roasted garlic, softened cream cheese, herbs, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate before serving. This can also be used as a sauce over pasta by thinning the dip with a little yogurt or cream, and heating it up a little.

Caesar Salad with Fresh Maine Blueberries

When I first made this salad for friends- they came back with their bread to scoop out any leftover dribbles of dressing from the empty bowl. Please your family and your friends with this simple yet flavor dazzling recipe. My children even love it!
Caesar Salad with Fresh Maine Blueberries
For the Dressing:
2 lemons
1 anchovy or 1⁄4-1⁄2 t anchovy paste
2 T minced garlic
1 T Raye’s stone-ground mustard
1 T cider vinegar
3 dashes Tabasco
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
6-8 oz. extra virgin olive oil
1⁄2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1⁄4 t salt
1⁄2 t fresh cracked black pepper
In a medium glass or stainless steel bowl, juice the lemons. Add the anchovy, garlic, mustard, vinegar, Tabasco and Worcestershire. Whisk together for one minute. Be sure all of the ingredients are well blended.
SLOWLY drizzle the oil into the bowl as you whisk. Continue whisking until all of the oil is incorporated.
Whisk in the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
For the Croutons:
Either purchase ready made croutons at your local market or…
1 loaf of bread- you can use pumpernickel, crusty baguette or what you have on hand
1⁄3 c butter
1t garlic powder
1⁄4 t fresh cracked black pepper
dash salt
Cut the loaf of bread into 3⁄4” cubes. Place in a large bowl.
Melt the butter and stir in the garlic, pepper and salt
Pour the butter mixture over the bread cubes and toss to coat all pieces.
Arrange a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet
Place the bread cubes on the rack. Toast in a preheated 350’ oven for 6-9 minutes
Remove from oven and cool. Croutons can be stored in a plastic bag or airtight container in the freezer for several months.
For the Salad:
3 heads of Romaine lettuce
1⁄4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 hard cooked eggs- peeled and chopped (you can use three raw egg yolks if you like)
1 c fresh Maine Blueberries
Wash the lettuce and tear into bite-sized pieces. Remember, not pieces that you have to fold twice before they will fit into your mouth. Think of the circle the size of a golf ball- they should fit through that Place the clean, dry, torn lettuce in a beautiful bowl.
Just before you serve, whisk or shake the dressing well. Drizzle the dressing onto the greens. Add the Parmesan cheese, chopped (or raw) eggs, Blueberries and croutons. Toss well to coat all of the little lettuce leaves with dressing.
This salad looks beautiful with the addition of a head of chopped radicchio tossed in with the final ingredients. Add Grilled marinated chicken, shrimp or steak.

Blueberry Bruschetta- An Appetizer with a Surprise

Try out this ‘bruschetta with a twist’. Delicious atop your favorite multigrain bread or with your favorite chips or celery sticks. Feel free to increase the heat to your taste.
Blueberry Bruschetta
1 c. fresh Maine Blueberries
2 c. diced fresh or canned tomatoes
1 T. minced fresh garlic
1/4 c. fresh cilantro chopped finely
1/4 c. fresh chopped parsley
2 T. fresh lime juice or cider vinegar
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 T. sugar or splenda
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
2 T. olive oil
In a medium non-reactive bowl, place all ingredients. Stir well to incorporate. Chill an hour or overnight. The blueberries will tint the whole mixture a beautiful shade of burgundy.

Blueberry Smoothies All Around

Here's one for the whole family. Kids and grown-ups alike all love a good smoothie. Whip this up on a school morning for a quick and healthy breakfast.
Blueberry Smoothie
Frozen or fresh Maine Blueberries can be used in this recipe. Be sure, as always to check the berries for bits of stem or leaves before you place them in the blender.
Serves 4
1 c. blueberry juice or orange juice
1 c. skim milk
1 c. plain or vanilla yogurt
2 c. clean fresh or frozen Maine Blueberries
2 ripe bananas- peeled or 2 c. of fresh fruit in season- pitted cherries, raspberries, or strawberries
2 T. fresh lime juice
3 T. Maine Maple Syrup
2 c. ice
Sprigs of mint for garnish
Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until all of the ice is completely crushed and the mixture is smooth and delicious. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Blueberry Cobbler

Here's another way to enjoy fresh Maine Blueberries...

Blueberry Cobbler
This fresh tasting treat is especially sumptuous with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. Blue tooth smiles will surround your table with plates extended for second helpings. You can double this recipe- and increase the size of your pan- if you’re serving a crowd.
6 c. fresh Maine Blueberries- rinsed and free of stems
1 to 1 1/2c. sugar or splenda to your taste
1 t. cinnamon
1 c. cold water
4 T. cornstarch
5 T. fresh lemon or lime juice
2 c. plain oatmeal
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter at room temperature
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Add the berries and cinnamon. Slowly bring fruit mixture to a boil and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Pour into a 9x9 greased glass baking dish.
In a separate bowl mix together the topping ingredients. Stir until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs over the top of the hot berries.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Here come the Blueberries

Where did August go? Already it's time for blueberries.

Blueberries are some of Maine’s most famous edible treasures. These tiny purses filled with sweet and sour, enrobed in royal purple, burst on your tongue leaving a smile behind. Just the idea of fresh blueberry pie makes me think of summer. These versatile berries are an excellent addition to any meal. By themselves or atop a salad, the blueberry explodes with both color and flavor- a feast for both your eyes and mouth.

If you look at the flower end of each berry the fruit bears a perfect five pointed star. Native Americans told stories about these “star berries”. Blueberries were dried and used in soups, stews, and jerky. The wisdom of the Native Americans spoke of the health giving properties of the berry that scientists are confirming today. Blueberries are one of the best fruits to eat for their antioxidant qualities. Not only are they healthy- they’re delicious too.

We all have read the book Blueberries for Sal. If you’re lucky enough (or brave enough) you have gone blueberry picking yourself, you know this is no easy task. There are no plink-plank-plunks in the bucket of today’s blueberry harvest. These days rakes are used by field workers to scoop the berries off of their stems. They carefully remove the leaves and package them up in tidy quart containers. It’s a difficult job that they make so easy for us.

The delicious berries are ready to be incorporated into your favorite recipe. Whether it’s muffins, salad or smoothies- they add fiber, vitamins and incredible flavor to your meal. Try them whenever you would use strawberries, raspberries or cherries. Dried blueberries are a wonderful addition to trail mix, and are great to snack on by the hand full.

When you see fresh Maine Blueberries at your local farm stand buy a few extra quarts. At home, place the quart containers of unwashed berries in individual zip plastic bags and store them in your freezer. They will be ready and waiting for your favorite recipe this winter. Any time of year is a great time to eat fresh Maine Blueberries!
Blueberry Bran Muffins
These muffins are a delightful treat on a summer morning. They are scrumptious hot out of the oven. If you and your family can’t eat them all- they freeze well. Just place them into a plastic zip bag and toss them in the deep freeze for later.
3c. Bran (All Bran Cereal works well here)
1c. Boiling water
1/2c. melted butter or oil
1 1/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
2c. buttermilk
2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t cinnamon
2 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 c. fresh Maine blueberries- washed, with any stems removed
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. melted butter
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a dozen large muffin cups with papers.
Place Bran in a bowl. Pour boiling water over the top and cover. Let stand for 10 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the melted butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Beat well for three minutes.
Add the softened bran mixture. Stir until well incorporated.
Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Mix just until blended. Do not overmix or the muffins will be tough.
Gently fold in the blueberries.
Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon gently fill the muffin cups to 3/4 full. Bake 25 minutes or until lightly golden.
Place the 1 t. cinnamon and 1/2 c. sugar into a shallow bowl and mix together. In another bowl place the 1/2 c. melted butter. When the muffins are still warm dip the tops lightly in the melted butter then into the cinnamon sugar. This will form a most delicious crust.
You can also make this recipe using mini muffin tins or a 9 x 11 pan- adjust the baking time to be sure the centers are done and the edges not too brown.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Hummus with a Twist

This Saturday we'll be at the Camden Farmer's Market from 9:30 to 11:30. Fresh Maine Salads will be available and I'll have some tasty samples to share. Hope to see you there!
We're always looking for easy, healthy snacks for summer gatherings. Here is a Hummus recipe that will keep your guests coming back for more. If you prefer another bean- this is a great way to use your imagination. Adzuki or black beans also fit this recipe. Experiment and dazzle your taste buds.
Hummus with a Twist
2 cups cooked chick peas (garbanzo beans)
2 cloves garlic- roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup lime juice
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup tahini
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
olive oil
1/4 cup roasted red peppers roughly chopped

Pour the chick peas (If you are using canned chick peas pour in the liquid as well) into a blender or food processor bowl. Pulse until mashed. Add the garlic, salt, lime juice and lemon juice and blend. Add the tahini, cumin, cayenne, and fresh parsley or cilantro and blend until smooth. If you need additional liquid to make it the consistency you like, add a drizzle of olive oil while you blend or process. If you want to keep the fat content low you can add a drizzle of water instead.
Place the hummus into a shallow bowl. Garnish with the roasted red pepper pieces and serve with carrot sticks, pita bread triangles, celery or your favorite dip vehicle.
You can save out a half cup or so and turn that into a salad dressing for tomorrow's supper. This recipe is even better the next day.
Savor. Linger. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Seven Layer Dip for a Party and Port City Life

Port City Life artistic director Susan Hackett and freelance photographer Fred Field came on over today to shoot for their September issue. What wonderful people. Fred's son Robert came along, too and was an extraordinary young man. I love 13 year old boys who have good manners, are kind to their parents, have a good sense of humor and are extremely patient while their dad works. He was a delight! Susan was a hoot and right on target with set up and vision for the shots she needed. Fred on the other hand... well, I guess I'd have to say that anytime he wanted to shoot anything I'm cooking up- he can take the pix and eat it up afterward. He got some shots that were absolutely beautiful! Rich apple butter sliding off a spoon into mid-air; the first glistening, golden droplet of pure maple syrup as it hovered, gravity calling it to it's appley future home... apples in shadow, apples in light. He has a gift for capturing the essence of his subjects. Thanks so much Fred for sharing your talents!
Ok, now for some food, We're going to a party this weekend and I'm bringing a dip that I haven't made for a long time. It's an old stand by that everyone loves- an 80's classic you might say.
7 Layer Dip
Take an oven safe platter or casserole dish and grease it lightly with oil.
Spread evenly in layers:
1. 16 ounces of cream cheese or Neufchatel lower fat cream cheese sprinkled with 1 teaspoon chili powder
2. 1 can or about 2 cups of lowfat refried beans sprinkled with 1 t ground cumin
3. 2 cups shredded jack cheese
You can stop here and chill it overnight if you'd like. An hour or so before serving, place the dish in a cold oven and turn it on to 350 degrees. Set the timer to 30 minutes when you put it in. Check it at 30 minutes and if it is bubbly take it out and proceed.
Gently layer the remaining ingredients on next.
4. 2 cups of your favorite salsa
5. 1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
6. 1 cup sour cream mixed with the juice of a lime and 2 or more dashes of Chalula or other hot pepper sauce
7. Sprinkle with 4 or 5 scallions that you've sliced up finely and a handful of pickled jalapenos that have been finely chopped.
Serve with lots of tortilla chips for dipping and napkins of course.
Savor. Linger. Enjoy! -Cynthia

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tomato Salad for a Summer Day

Hi All, We have had the most wonderful week. Wednesday Elizabeth and I were in Casco for the Casco Library's annual morning tea. She was a chef extraordinaire and my assistant. I made sure to speak a little less to allow her to fill in- and fill in she did. Folks even came up to her after the demo and asked her to sign a book. It was simply delightful! The tea was at the Pleasant Lake House B&B, a lovely lakeside place with the perfect flat lawn to host the event. Mark Heidmann of Maple Springs Farm in Harrison supplied us with gorgeous greens- rainbow chard included, three types of basil, lemon balm, flat leaf parsley, and close to five pounds of heirloom tomatoes. These succulent, vine-ripened beauties included a dark burgundy variety called Black Krim. They were absolutely gorgeous and melt in your mouth delicious. Here is a quick recipe for a tomato salad that features each flavor in turn.
Tomato Salad
Have available at least three types of fresh tomatoes. I used Black Krim, Beefsteak and tiny grape tomatoes. I selected the equivalent of at least one large tomato per person's portion.
To serve 4-6
4 large tomatoes
1 8oz box grape tomatoes
1 8oz package mini fresh mozzarella balls
3 T good balsamic vinegar
3 T Gasull or other fruity extra virgin olive oil
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 clove fresh garlic, minced or pressed
6-10 large fresh basil leaves cut into a chiffonade of ribbons or rough chopped plus an additional couple of leaves for garnish.
Combine the tomatoes and mozzarella in a large bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the remaining ingredients. Pour over the tomatoes and toss gently. You can serve this salad right away or let it sit for a half hour or so. Garnish with additional basil and serve.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Food Details-Foodie Tales- What makes the dinner IT factor?

FooDieTaleS It's all in the details...of foodies. It's amazing how quickly you can see the experience and confidence of a person who loves to cook. They are often fearless, seldom follow recipes exactly, and love to experiment. Flavors come together in their heads- in their imaginations- before they ever reach their tongues. They can see a dish, smell its aroma, feel the textures in their mouth; all before they've lifted a spoon. Thee Experience the dish ethereally Waaayy before its actual inception. I LOVE that! I love imagining a food and crafting the dish layer by layer of flavor until it achieves the mmmm level I am shooting for. That yummy noise is better than any tangible certificate on the wall. You've moved people in a way that gives them an involuntary wave of delight; causing an intake of breath and a sigh of pleasure. It matters not if the recipient is a child or adult, neighbor or a king- you've made the world a better place for a moment in time. This is truly what makes the universe propel through space. Imagine if we could synchronize delight for thousands at one moment. It might just shift the path of the Earth for the good.
I offer you this quickie recipe for tonight. Simple delight. Share some with your family or your friends. Perpetuate the yummy noise. Pay attention to the details. You're making the world a better place.

Warm Chocolate Silk with Fresh Strawberries and White Chocolate Curls
Use the best cocoa you can find for this thick chocolate soup. Your tongue will thank you.
Serves 4-6
1 c premium cocoa powder (such as Ghirardelli or Scharffen Berger), sifted
1 1⁄4 c hot water
1 1⁄2 c granulated sugar
1 c heavy cream
1 c chopped semisweet chocolate
8 fresh strawberries, sliced
white chocolate curls
4 T cocoa nibs (optional)
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the cocoa with the water over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until thick.
Add the sugar and whisk until it dissolves. Add the heavy cream and chopped chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate melts completely. Serve warm, garnished with sliced fresh strawberries, white chocolate curls, and, if desired, cocoa nibs.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Hot Artichoke Dip for new friends

Summer is a time for gatherings and friends. I've been so fortunate to meet some wonderful people in the last week. Sarah, Jenny and John are three of these folks of note. How amazing is it to begin relationships and choose others to share your life- very cool!
Here is a quick four ingredient recipe to treat your guests. No kidding- they will love it. If you like things spicy, your fifth ingredient can be cayenne or Chalula sauce
Hot Artichoke Dip
In a 2 qt baking dish mix together:
1 cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts
1 cup Real Mayonnaise
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions or shredded vidalia onion
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and hot. If you like to add green healthy bits to your snacks feel free to stir in 2 cups of chopped fresh spinach when you take it out of the oven. Serve hot with crackers or bread rounds.
Savor. Linger. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Strawberry Ice Cream Smoothies

I was reminiscing with Elizabeth this morning and realized that freshly picked strawberries are one of my very favorite foods. Here is an easy way to enjoy this summer fruit on a scorching hot day.
Strawberry Ice Cream Smoothies
3 scoops “no sugar added” vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup low fat milk
1 cup strawberries- hulled and sliced
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Blend until smooth and slushy.
Serve garnished with a pretty berry on top.

BBQ and Lindy-Hop in Beantown

I'm giving you several recipes today as I will be off to Beantown Camp this weekend. The Lindy Hop workshops will feature instructors from across the globe. We'll be dancing our feet off!
Hope your weekend is filled with cook-outs and frisbee!

Hot Onion Barbecue Sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato puree
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard

In a food processor, puree the onion and 1/4 cup water until completely smooth.
Melt butter in saucepan. Cook onion mixture and garlic 4 minutes. Add remaining
ingredients and bring to boil. Store in a tightly sealed container. Chill until ready to use

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Strawberry Lemongrass Prosecco Soup for your summer brunch

Since strawberries are almost ripe for the picking- it's time to enhance your berry repertoire. Perfect for a wedding shower or summer brunch this cold, thick soup is easy to make and delightful to sip. Rob Caldwell made it easily on 207 last week. Everyone in the news room thought it was elegant and summer-y. If you go strawberry picking, use up any bruised berries in this recipe. The soup is macerated so save the pretty berries for garnish. Note the beautiful bowl from Sheepscot Pottery. John and Karen Oakey make bowls of many sizes and patterns. This one is large enough to be a fountain- and serves enough soup for dozens of happy mouths.

Strawberry Lemongrass Prosecco Soup
This slightly sweet dessert soup is perfect for a wedding brunch or shower. Anytime you’ve got fresh berries available is the right time for a light, delicious soup. Prosecco is a sparkling Italian wine that is readily available. If you can’t find it, you can substitute champagne.
Serves 8 to 12
2 c water
1 3-oz pouch liquid pectin (Certo or your favorite brand)
1⁄2 c sugar
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped or grated
6 c strawberries, quartered
2 lemons, juice and zest
4 c prosecco

6 strawberries
1 carambola (star fruit) or 1 lemon, seeded and thinly sliced
zest from 1 lemon, finely chopped

Combine the water, pectin, sugar, and lemongrass in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat.
Place the strawberries in a blender or food processor. Purée the strawberries. Add the grated lemon zest and juice and puree again. Place the purée in a large bowl. Set a fine mesh strainer over the bowl and pour the hot lemongrass liquid through it. Adjust sweetness, if necessary.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. When you’re ready to serve, add the prosecco to the bowl and gently stir to combine. Serve garnished with strawberries, thin slices of star fruit, and a sprinkle of lemon zest.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

FARMS- Steps to create a Harvest Lunch

For those of you in the education and culinary fields we are helping to promote FARMS- Focus on Agriculture in Rural Maine Schools. I will be posting recipes and ideas here for your own town or school to freely implement as you can. Our local farmers are an incredible asset- environmentally, economically and educationally- not to mention culinarily. Below please find an outline from Amy Winston and FARMS.

FARMS Harvest Lunch
4 Essential Steps

1. Build relationships with food service personnel

2. Plan Menu

3. Engage volunteers

4. Publicity

FARMS Harvest Lunch How-To (Strategies-Activities):

1. Form a Farm to School Committee
A. Set a monthly meeting time
B. Build relationships
2. Plan Menu
A. Decide on menu
B. Calculate amount of food/Cost
C. Decide on farms/farmer’s market
D. Schedule pick up and delivery of food
3. Engage Volunteers
A. Schedule volunteers for prepping
food/set up/clean up
4. Publicity
A. Write press release
B. Newsletter/send flyers home
C. Circulate posters
5. Education
A. Classroom connections
Nutrition curriculum
What is Local?
The True Cost of Food(older students)
Generate fact sheets on tables in cafeteria
Poster contest
Promote healthy community
Promote sustainable agriculture
Support local
Raise awareness
6. Farmers
A. Build relationships with farmers
B. Field trips to farms
C. Bring farmers to classrooms and cafeteria
D. Student Garden Project supported by local

Farmer's Market Pasta Salad on NBC

The Farmer's Markets are bursting with color these days. The vegetables, still warm from the sun, restore my faith in the simple, beautiful things in life. It makes such a difference to know that the food you're eating was grown in your neighborhood and tended by hands that truly cared about what you put on your plate. So Wonderful.
I had some fun this week. I appeared on WCSH6 for a cooking segment on 207. They are now posting all of their kitchtn segments online with streaming video. If you'd like to see it follow the link to 207. Rob Caldwell and I put together a colorful Farmer's Market Pasta Salad. It looked as good as it tasted! Hope you have a chance to eat all your colors today.

Farmer’s Market Pasta Salad
This salad is not a pasta salad that thinks about vegetables- It's a crisp, fresh, crunchy salad that is enhanced with pasta. Add grilled chicken for a complete meal.
3/4 c olive oil
1⁄2 c balsamic vinegar
1 T mustard
2 T finely chopped fresh basil
1 T finely chopped fresh chives
2 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 handful fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 t brown sugar- optional
2 c fresh garden tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 c yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 c cucumber, coarsely chopped
1 c broccoli florets, cut in bite sized pieces
1 c sweet red or Vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
1 c celery, coarsely chopped
1 cup carrots, thinly sliced or coarsely shredded
10 fresh large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 lb small mozzarella balls, or mozzarella cheese
1 lb whole wheat, spelt or spinach pasta- cooked just barely to al dente
Chive blossoms for garnish
Place the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together until completely incorporated. Set aside.
Wash and chop the vegetables. Add all of the vegetables and cheese to the bowl. Toss with the dressing and let marinate in the fridge overnight. The pasta will absorb the dressing as it sits. Toss before serving. Add a little drizzle of oil and vinegar if you need moisture. Serve with fresh crusty whole grain bread and chive blossoms for garnish.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting for Swing Dancers Extraordinaire

I made some Applesauce cake today to bring to our swing dance weekend. Sarah Spence Adams and Kevin St Laurent came to give us a two day lindy hop extravaganza. The core group from the Mainiac Swing Dance Society and other serious dancers near and far came together to share in the joys (and pain) of the spinnycurlyswoopyswively steps. It was great fun to get to know some of these excellent dancers a little better. I appreciate their patience and kindness when the steps don't come as quickly to me as I'd like. When they do- Oh! the feeling! I must admit that one mistake that landed me on my knees during a little aerial has been a good wake-up call. This is a sport. It is to be taken as passionately and as seriously as the hurdles or speed skating or tennis...and you CAN get hurt. The difference here is that you realllly have to trust your partner- both of you- to make it work. There are some people that you come across who will share with you a certain magic. They can be great dancers or not so great, but when you take their hand on the dance floor you will find the most marvelous steps are put into play. It's neat when you realize who these people are. You look forward to dancing with them. They will- through the ways you will reach to try the next new thing- make you a better dancer. It was exciting to find several of those people in our class. In the rotation of partners I always had leaders to look forward to who would give me suggestions and try it again. When we did it right- it was amazing! Sarah and Kevin were wonderful teachers. I'd take a class from them again in a heartbeat!
This morning I woke up thinking about what to whip up to share when our feet felt like they were ready to give out and our stomachs were growling (which happens about two hours in...). I decided to make an applesauce cake. I had a banana that was ripe and ready so I threw it in the batter. The cake was so moist and lovely! When I began to make the frosting- I knew I wanted to have a cream cheese variety- there wasn't a bag of confectionery sugar to be found. We were supposed to leave in 30 minutes so.... This was what I came up with. My dancing pals loved it! Hope it will give you another choice in your frosting department.
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
16 oz plain cream cheese- I used Neufchatel
8 oz white chocolate bits
4 oz half and half or light cream
2 t pure vanilla extract
dash salt
3/4 c brown sugar
2 T maple sugar
In a glass bowl place the white chocolate and cream. Heat over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave until the bits are melted. If you're doing this in the microwave, be sure to heat for 30 seconds at a time. Stir often. When the bits are completely melted stir until you've got a beautiful, smooth ganache. Let this cool for a few minutes. In the bowl of an electric mixer whip the cream cheese and brown sugar until it's light and fluffy- about 4 minutes-scraping down the sides of the bowl so there are no lumpy bits of cream cheese left. Slowly add the ganache to the cream cheese a spoonful at a time. When the mixture has been completely incorporated, add the salt, vanilla and maple sugar. Whisk again, scraping the sides of the bowl often, for another 3 or 4 minutes. Taste and adjust the sugar if necessary. This frosting ended up being on the edge of sweet and tangy. Perfect! and not anything like the tooth-painfully-sweet store bought kind. Next time I might just add a little bit of fresh orange zest and juice. MMM delicious!
Savor, Linger, Enjoy!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Bruschetta and Wedding Plans

Darrin and Serafina are in the thick of it planning their wedding. We were chatting about appetizers and they had decided on bruschetta. This recipe is an easy version that can be adapted to your tongues delight.
Serve this light and delicious concoction atop bread rounds with a side of garlic oil marinated mozzarella balls. If you are feeling adventurous slice a few large cloves of garlic in half. Toast your bread rounds lightly and rub each one with the moist cut side of a garlic clove. Top with the bruschetta mixture and you've got a taste sensation!

1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 T sugar
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 T dried oregano
2 T dried parsley
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/3 c finely chopped vidalia onion
Mix all ingredients together. Chill 2 hours or overnight. Serve cold or let come to room temperature. If you are making this in the summer substitute triple the amount of fresh herbs for the dried. This is also delicious with the addition of fresh basil and chives.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Herbed Chicken Breasts after biking in the rain

We have had a wonderful couple of days- very busy- but wonderful. Friday night we danced til our feet fell off at the swingnuts swing dance at the North Deering Grange. The Victory Swing Band, a 17 piece big band, played tunes from Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and more. Saturday we went up to BikesnJava in Rockland to get some advice. We stopped off at Sage Market and were so delighted! They have a lovely little gourmet shop. I found some triple creme brie and hot soppresatta that delighted my sweetheart. The rest of the day was filled with preparation for Sherwood's gig at Yosaku restaurant at the Old Port Festival.

Sunday it rained and was so chilly that the gig was cancelled. Since we had an afternoon that was suddenly NOT spoken for- how often does that happen?- we rode our tandem bike to Hannaford in the drizzle. It was fun to go the long way, get wet, and plan dinner on the way. They had some delicious looking chicken so that was our choice for tonight. When we got home we cooked up the yummy chicken breasts, with some rice pilaf and stir fried veggies. The chicken came out so great I though I'd share it with you.
Herbed Chicken Breasts
6 skin on bone in chicken breasts
1 sun dried tomato packed in oil
1 T olive oil
1 T white vinegar
1 t Tobasco or Chalula
1 t garlic powder or 1 clove fresh garlic minced
1 t rosemary
1 t thyme
1 t sage
1 t herbs de provence
1 t adobo powder
1 t fresh cracked black pepper
In a small food processor pulse together the tomato, oil, vinegar and pepper sauce. Place your chicken breasts in a baking pan so they are not quite touching. Paint them with the sauce. In another bowl mix together the spices. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with equal parts of this herb powder. Place pan in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or more depending on how thick the breasts are. When the juices run clear and the skin is nice and crisp serve the chicken over freshly cooked brown rice and veggies. It tasted soo good after a bike ride in the rain.
Savor. Linger. Enjoy! -Cynthia

Friday, June 1, 2007

Picnic in Style with an Over-Stuffed Ciabatta

Over Stuffed Ciabatta Picnic Sandwich
Make this sandwich the night before your picnic. It needs to rest, weighted, overnight in the refrigerator. Remember to bring along a cutting board and sharp knife to your gathering.
1 good sized Ciabatta loaf
Olive oil to taste
8 cloves of roasted garlic, mashed
3 Tablespoons basil or sun dried tomato pesto
1 pound thinly sliced cold cuts: this combination works well-1/4 pound pancetta or proscuitto
1/4 pound thinly sliced Genoa or hard salami
1/4 pound ham or sopressata
1/4 pound capicolla
1 small container (about 6 ounces or 1 cup) artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
Sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
Pepperoncini pepper or banana pepper slices
Marinated red peppers
Fresh Mozzarella cheese- cut in 1/2" slices
Fresh basil
crushed red pepper flakes- optional
Chalula sauce- optional
Slice your loaf of Ciabatta in half horizontally. Lay cut sides up on a foil lined cookie sheet. With your fingers remove some of the soft bread to leave a 1/2" hollow pocket on both the top and bottom sides. Drizzle both sides with olive oil. Allow the oil to penetrate the bread.
Spread roasted garlic on the top half of your Ciabatta and your choice of basil or sun dried tomato pesto on the bottom half. Layer meats, artichokes, tomatoes, peppers, mozzarella, fresh basil, and crushed red pepper flakes. Drizzle lightly with olive oil after each addition. If you like your sandwiches spicy, add a few shakes of Chalula sauce. Place the top of the loaf on the sandwich. Bring the foil up from under your loaf and wrap it tightly. Place a weight on top of your sandwich-a heavy cast iron pan works well. Refrigerate overnight. Bring it along to your picnic in a cooler. Slice and serve to your tastebuds' delight.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Herbed Chicken Breasts after biking in the rain

We have had a wonderful couple of days- very busy- but wonderful. Friday night we danced til our feet fell off at the swingnuts swing dance at the North Deering Grange. The Victory Swing Band, a 17 piece big band, played tunes from Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and more. Saturday we went up to BikesnJava in Rockland to get some advice. We stopped off at Sage Market and were so delighted! They have a lovely little gourmet shop. I found some triple creme brie and hot soppresatta that delighted my sweetheart. The rest of the day was filled with preparation for Sherwood's gig at Yosaku restaurant at the Old Port Festival.
Sunday it rained and was so chilly that the gig was cancelled. Since we had an afternoon that was suddenly NOT spoken for- how often does that happen?- we rode our bike to Hannaford in the drizzle. It was fun to go the long way, get wet, and plan dinner on the way. They had some delicious looking chicken so that was our choice for tonight. When we got home we cooked up the yummy chicken breasts, with some rice pilaf and stir fried veggies. The chicken came out so great I though I'd share it with you.
Herbed Chicken Breasts
6 skin on bone in chicken breasts
1 sun dried tomato packed in oil
1 T olive oil
1 T white vinegar
1 t Tobasco or Chalula
1 t garlic powder or 1 clove fresh garlic minced
1 t rosemary
1 t thyme
1 t sage
1 t herbs de provence
1 t adobo powder
1 t fresh cracked black pepper
In a small food processor pulse together the tomato, oil, vinegar and pepper sauce. Place your chicken breasts in a baking pan so they are not quite touching. Paint them with the sauce. In another bowl mix together the spices. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with equal parts of this herb powder. Place pan in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or more depending on how thick the breasts are. When the juices run clear and the skin is nice and crisp serve the chicken over freshly cooked brown rice and veggies. It tasted soo good after a bike ride in the rain.
Savor. Linger. Enjoy! -Cynthia

Pizzeles for a Summer's Day

Pizzeles- ah that thin, sweet, crispy cookie-treat... They are most often found here around Christmas time. Today, however, we had the waffle iron out from yesterday's waffles and how-conveeenient- the pizzele iron presented itself when we were cleaning the plates. There are times when you just have to stop what you're doing and bake (or in this case wait while these delicate crisps were cooked to perfection four at at time) Elizabeth was right there to whip up the batter. Dinner can wait while the iron is heating. This recipe was inherited as a wedding present from Flora Silvestro- one of the mistresses of the pizzele extraordinaire. I must admit to an occasional pizzele yearning. I remember being in high school and visiting the Silvestros. I always left with a smattering of powdered sugar somewhere on my clothing, no matter how hard I tried to conceal my pizzele consumption. They are just so darn delicious! Thank you Flora for this gift that keeps on giving. Elizabeth says Hi!
Flora Silvestro's Pizzeles
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup melted butter
2 generous teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 to 2 teaspoons anise extract- optional
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups flour
In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla (and anise extract if you like). Add the melted butter. Whisk until well combined.
In another bowl sift together the dry ingredients. Add to the egg mixture and blend just until smooth.
Heat your pizzele iron. When hot drop a heaping Tablespoon of batter into the center of each round. A small scoop works especially well. Lower the top and watch carefully. Remove cookies when just done. They should be only barely golden-not quite browned.
Remove to a cooling rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Stand back and watch as they are devoured or store in a sealed container. They are also easily frozen in a zip bag or container for later consumption.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Kitchen in your side yard leads to delicious salads

I spent some time at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens yesterday. Their newly designed kitchen garden will lend itself to a wonderful series of cooking lectures and demos by nationally known chefs. Their campus was teeming with landscapers and land shapers- I would love to have had a camera set up on the side of the buildings with a snapshot every 30 seconds or so. Sitting in their lovely cafe for my meeting allowed me a vantage point to witness the grounds changing before my eyes. These folks are serious! Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is a place that invites inspiration. The education director Rebecca Jacobs gave me a tour of their upcoming programming. They are right on track for the summer. I can't wait to join them. We're scheduling times in July, August and September for me to come in and work with their staff to produce some demos/cooking classes for both adults and kids. What fun!
Here is a recipe for an Herbed Bread. Enjoy it alongside your favorite salad. I've taken to adding a few whisps of fresh herbs to my salad greens. It's a great way to get a little sprinkle of extra flavor into your veggie creations.
Savory Herb Bread
This loaf is made from a soft dough—a bit sticky—but it bakes up moist on the inside and crusty on the outside. The fresh herbs infuse the bread with a kitchen garden scent. Serve it warm alongside your favorite soup.
Serves 12
2 T yeast
1⁄2 c warm water
1 t Maine maple syrup
5 c King Arthur flour
11⁄2 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 T fresh herbs of your choice- I like to use a combination of rosemary, sage, basil and thyme, finely chopped
2 c ricotta cheese
1⁄4 c Maine maple syrup
3 T chopped fresh chives
2 T chopped fresh parsley
3 eggs
2 T butter, melted, or extra-virgin olive oil
Mix the yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon of maple syrup. Let sit until it’s bubbling and frothy.
Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Stir in the herbs.
In another bowl, whisk together the ricotta cheese, 1⁄4 cup maple syrup, chives, parsley, eggs, and melted butter. Whisk in the yeast mixture and immediately pour all the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients. Using a wooden spoon, stir until combined.
Knead the dough lightly on a floured surface for 10 minutes. If the dough is too sticky add a Tablespoon of flour at a time until it is just firm enough to knead. Line a sheet pan with parchment or a Silpat. Place dough on the pan and form it into a long loaf. Let it rise until double in bulk.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Let the bread cool on a wire rack. Slice to serve.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Fiddlefest a Grand Success! Gorgonzola Cream Dressing for your fresh greens

The Fiddlefest was a wonderful event. Folks were happy and the food delicious. I rubbed elbows- literally at times- with the folks at Vignola/Cinque Terre and Duckfat restaurants. Cinque Terre was cooking up some fiddleheads with vermouth, chives, garlic, parm and gnocchi. Duckfat had deep fried fiddleheads. I did have the chance to share in their delights as the afternoon drew on. There were representatives from Aurora Provisions with some delectable cheeses and at least a half dozen other chefs sharing their spring selections. I would guess there were over 200 attendees enjoying the delicious food and lively music. Slow Food really has their act together. There were volunteers available to assist with every aspect of the day. All were happy and helpful. I was so lucky to be a part of this event. Now to share a recipe that I brought with me yesterday. People LOVED the Spicy 5 Bean Salad (that I posted yesterday). They also devoured the baby greens from Morning Dew Farm with a Gorgonzola Cream Dressing. Here it is for your enjoyment. If you like blue cheese and Gorgonzola- this recipe is just as good to spread on a slice of whole grain bread, serve as a dip or use to dress your salad. A little bit goes a long way.
Gorgonzola Cream Dressing
I'm giving you this in a small batch- feel free to multiply if you need more...
1/2 cup real mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons light cream
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black or white pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or one small clove minced
4 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
Whisk the first 7 ingredients together. Add the vinegar and whisk again. Fold in the cheese. Serve with your choice of vegetables as the vehicle.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Fiddlefest and Spicy Five-Bean Salad

We went dancing last night and I've got to tell you- Sherwood was on FIRE! He was stylin'! It was my favorite night of dancing ever!! Paul and Daniel did a great job with the DJ-ing- they kept us on our feet all night long. What a night! I live for this feeling. Dancing gives me such joy! I hope that all of you can find and actually do that thing that makes you smile from the inside out...and do it often. Every time I dance I add a few months ON to my life. Seriously. Thank goodness for Sherwood and his magic feet!
Sunday, May 20, 2007-It's time for Fiddlefest! Slow Food Portland holds this annual event featuring local chefs, delicious food and live music. It's going to rain, so it will be the perfect afternoon family activity. I'll be bringing Maine Antipasto with marinated fiddleheads (from Rising Tide Market), smoked shrimp, smoked scallops, miniature mozzarella balls and smoked salmon, Broccoli Apple Salad with Maple Garlic Dressing, Gorgonzola dressing with fresh arugula from Morning Dew Farm, Spicy Five Bean Salad and Herbed Chevre spread with crackers. I'm just about ready to fall into bed so I can get up early and be early to arrive at Fiddlefest. Hope to see you there.
Spicy Five-Bean Salad
This tangy salad is an ideal accompaniment for grilled chicken, sure to please your palate!
2 c black beans
2 c navy beans
2 c garbanzo beans
1 c broad beans
2 c edamamme (soybeans)
1 bunch fresh parsley, washed and chopped
4 scallions, washed and chopped
1 c olive oil
3⁄4 c red wine vinegar
2 T cumin
2 limes, zested and juiced
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 t sugar or Splenda sweetener
1 T fresh oregano, chopped
1 T chili powder
1 T fresh parsley, chopped
1⁄4 t Tabasco sauce (or more to your taste)
2 t salt
1 T white pepper
Toss all the beans together with parsley and scallions.
Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing. Pour over beans and toss evenly.
Marinate the salad for at least an hour, or overnight.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Do What Makes You Happy- and eat some lovely Herb Roasted Lamb

"To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking." ~Agnes De Mille
Just found this quote in a contra dance email and loved it. Because I'm feeling that fullness of being, that happiness that brings the I've-got-the-power-to-do-anything feeling with it, I've decided to have business cards made up. They are in a font I like (Harrington), with words that describe ME, and pictures of my books on the back. It's the first time that I've made up something like this for "business" that is all about me. You know, we almost always analyze things like that to death. What will be appropriate? What makes sense? What will be a good representation? This time I threw it all into the wind. Convention- gone. Seriousness- gone. I just did what I wanted. The words on my new card make me smile. It says Cynthia Finnemore Simonds, Culinary Adventurer, Paradigm Specialist, Author, Swing Dancer. How cool is that! It's me on a little piece of paper.
I know that I am FAR from perfect.; never tried to be perfect. Did you know that the Latin root for the word perfect is ...finished... I am certainly not finished yet. I am however, trying to do my best. On this quest I shall remain until the day when I'm through. I intend to move forward, and all along the way I'm doing the things that make me smile... like dancing. There is a swing dance this Friday (that's one of those MakeMeSmile things) at the North Deering Grange in Portland, Maine. Come on down and kick up your heels. It just might make you smile too.
As for today's recipe, How about a spring lamb dish. I've got one marinating in the fridge. Rebecca's mom Susan just sent me a note about her Graduation party preparations. Congrats Doctor Katz!! They were having lamb too. It certainly is the season.
Boneless Leg of Lamb with Fresh Herbs
1 boneless leg of lamb (mine was about a pound and a quarter)
marinade ingredients:
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice
10 twists fresh cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tablespoons fresh Mint (IF you would prefer you can use fresh rosemary for the mint in both the marinade and the gravy)
If you'd like to make gravy you'll need some bouillon paste or powder, cornstarch and a little more fresh mint.
In a large ziploc bag place all of the marinade ingredients and the lamb. Seal the bag halfway. Press all of the air out of the bag and close completely. Massage the ingredients into the meat. Place the bag into a bowl and chill until ready to cook. You can grill the lamb or roast in a pan. For oven roasting: Remove the lamb from the bag and place on a low rack in the roasting pan. Pour 2 cups of water under the lamb before you place it in the oven. Roast the lamb at 325 degrees for 30 minutes per pound. When it's done you'll have all of the drippings ready to make into gravy. Remove the lamb to a platter. Cover with foil and let it rest 15 minutes. Remove the rack from the pan. Use a whisk to stir all of the lamb bits together in the roasting pan. Pour all of the juice into a sauce pan. Add enough water to make about 2 cups of liquid. Heat over medium until the mixture comes to a boil. While you're waiting mix together 1 heaping Tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 Tablespoons of cold water until it becomes a smooth slurry. Taste your broth and add a Tablespoon or so of vegetable or beef bouillon paste or powder to enhance the flavor. Pour in the cornstarch slurry and whisk until the gravy is thick and the cornstarch cloudiness has disappeared. It won't be completely clear but it should look like gravy. If your gravy is too thick, add a bit of hot water. If it is too thin, make up some more cornstarch slurry and add it to the gravy. Strain the gravy into a bowl and stir in some freshly minced mint- about 2 Tablespoons will be enough. Carve the lamb at a gentle angle and place slices on a platter. Pour any juice that has accumulated on the resting platter over the sliced meat. Pour or ladle your gravy into a gravy boat or small pitcher. Serve the lamb and gravy and listen for the yummy noises. MMM

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Wasabi Oil and Wasabi Ginger Marinade

Oh my goodness, what an amazing dance. We watched Dancing with the Stars tonight and the Jive that Joey and Kym performed was outstanding! I actually clapped spontaneously in my living room like they could actually hear me. What fun! I think I even picked up a couple of steps to add to our repertoire. We had sushi yesterday so, being the frugal gal that I am, I couldn't just toss the remaining pickled ginger, soy sauce packets and wasabi. Wasabi is a great element of flavor for many recipes. Here are two for you to try.
Wasabi Oil
Wasabi—that electric green pyramid that goes along for the ride with your sushi has the capability of detonating a small nuclear internal head rush if eaten too quickly. My friend Marita could bathe in it and not get enough- though I think a wasabi bath would make for too many overly tingly fingers and toes. This wasabi oil gives you the wasabi flavor while keeping your gray matter basically intact. Keep the extra wasabi from your sushi and use it to add that special spicy something to your next dish.
2 Tablespoon wasabi paste or more to your taste
1 Tablespoon mirin or sake
2 teaspoons sugar
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive or grapeseed oil
In a medium stainless non-reactive (steel or glass bowl), combine the mirin and sugar. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Add the wasabi and whisk well to blend. Whisk in the oil. Let the oil stand for 10 minutes before using. Be sure to whisk it up just before serving.

Wasabi Marinade
1 Tablespoon prepared wasabi paste
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons roughly chopped pickled ginger
2 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons olive oil or wasabi oil
In a medium stainless non-reactive (steel or glass bowl), combine all of the ingredients and whisk to combine. Pour into a large ziploc baggie with the steak, chicken, tofu or other meat you are preparing for dinner. Seal the bag most of the way across and press out all of the air. Seal the bag completely and massage the marinade into the meat for a minute or so. Place the bag in a bowl in the refrigerator. Chill until ready to cook. You can even freeze the meat in the marinade and thaw when you need it. Grill or roast the meat to your satisfaction. It's sooo good.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Lindy at Reid State Park and Needhams

What a beautiful sunny day, perfect for going to the beach. Sherwood fixed a deluxe picnic. He made broccoli apple salad with maple garlic dressing, curried chicken salad in lettuce wraps, garlic oil for some sourdough bread with carrots, dried apples and garlic pickles on the side. We all piled in the van and drove the surprisingly short distance to Reid State Park. The sun was brilliant off the waves as we walked along Mile Beach. Elizabeth and I each found sand dollars. It was perfect to spend Mother's Day enjoying the ocean, having a picnic and spending time with family. Sherwood and I couldn't resist a lindy on the sand. We tried a new aerial and laughed the whole time. I can't think of anything better than a dance in the sun on the beach- or anywhere.
We all started home smelling summer-y and feeling that sleepy, sun drenched contentment that always follows a day at the beach. Along Route 127 in Georgetown we saw a little place called MainSweets (207-371-2806). The sign said homemade candy, so, knowing the number of sweet teeth contained in the van, we stopped. I'm so glad we did. Patty and Charlie Mains greeted us at the door. They were just delightful. They had a nice selection of baked goods, created there on the premises. Patty offered us each a Needham she had made herself. The kids marveled at the ingredients- how could potato, coconut and chocolate taste so good? I was reminded of my Grandmother Mattie Finnemore making Needhams in her farm kitchen. The recipe below is the closest I could find to the one I remember.
If you're travelling down to Reid State Park, stop in and say hello to Patty and Charlie. They'd just love to see you.

Needhams- Maine Chocolate Covered Coconut Candies
These are great for bake sales and gifts for the holidays. Feel free do double as necessary.
3/4 cup unseasoned mashed potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 pounds confectioners sugar
1/3 stick melted butter- use real butter here
1/2 pound flaked coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla
Chocolate Coating: 12 ounces chocolate chips
2 squares (ounces) semi-sweet chocolate
2 squares (ounces) bakers unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cake paraffin wax ( 2.5 x 2.5 inches) found in your baking or canning aisle in the market
Cook (3 or so) peeled potatoes (do not season them at all). Once they're fork tender, mash them in the bowl of an electric mixer and check to make sure you've got 3/4 cup. {If you end up with more- you can increase the recipe}. Add salt, melted butter, confectioner's sugar, flaked coconut and vanilla and beat until smooth and well blended.
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Spread the coconut mixture evenly- it will be very thick. Cover with another layer of parchment and press with your hands to make an even layer.
Chill overnight to 24 hours. Remove the parchment layer from the top of the candy. Turn pan over onto a cutting board. Peel away the bottom layer of parchment and cut into small, bite-sized squares- really whatever size you like.
Melt paraffin, semi-sweet and unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler over medium heat. Lower heat and add chocolate chips. Stir until chocolate has melted but
mixture is still slightly thick. Leave the pan on low heat while you dip your Needhams one at a time to coat. Place dipped squares on a parchment lined pan- the jelly roll pan you just used will work well. Cool. Needhams will keep very well in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Happy Mother's Day with Fresh Fruit Salad

Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful Mom's! Sherwood treated me to dinner in Brunswick last night at El Camino- a little Mexican restaurant with incredible ambiance and yummy food. We shared chips and a smoky homemade salsa, a taco salad with marinated steak and nachos with grilled chicken. The salsa was not chunky but a fine-ish puree with a hint of smoky pepper. Both the nachos and taco salad were comprised of diced veggies and meats. Everything was fresh and lively. You can visit them on my space just click here for El Camino Cantina. We've been dancing around the house and most Thursday nights at Great Salt Bay School. I just can't get enough. The more I learn the more I want to dance. The kids made dinner tonight. It was a delicious fruit salad with a lemon pineapple dressing and deviled eggs. If you need to serve brunch for Mother's Day- this is sure to be a hit.
Fresh Fruit Salad with Lemon Pineapple Dressing
3 cups fresh hulled and quartered strawberries
3 cups fresh diced seedless watermelon
1 cup diced fresh pineapple
1 cup fresh blueberries
Toss all of these together and chill.
for the dressing combine: the juice of a lemon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup fresh pineapple juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (OR 1 to 2 Tablespoons spiced or dark rum- very optional)
Whisk the dressing ingredients to dissolve the sugar. (at this point you can opt to whisk 1/2 cup of sour cream, creme fraiche, mascarpone cheese or plain yogurt into the dressing- if you like your dressings creamier) Pour over the fruit and toss well.
Serve in chilled bowls with a sprinkle of brown sugar on top.
Savor. Linger. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Esau's Sorbet and Veal Stew

We're in for a treat tonight. Esau Crosby from Solo Bistro has come through. He has shared not one but two recipes with us. Thank you Esau!
Savor. Linger. Enjoy!

Here is a recipe for our veal and lamb stew that I have gotten a lot of positive response to. I had sent it to a customer and now I will forward it to you . I hope you can use it. Also I will give you a sorbet recipe that is always good to have which is a sorbet recipe that I use.

Sorbet Basic Recipe
4 C fruit puree
2 C corn syrup, light or dark depending on if the fruit is light or dark.
1 1/2 C water
Blend well and let sit over night in a refrigerator covered. The next day set remix till all well blended and freeze according to your machine's instructions. Note....The color of the product should get lighter as the freezing process is happening and should almost look creamy. Put in a container and into the freezer for at least 4 hours before service.

8 oz. smoked slab bacon small dice
1 lb. veal stew meat about 1/2 to 1 in cube
1 lb. lamb stew meat same
1 small onion diced small
1 small bulb of fennel diced small
16 oz. red wine
18 oz veal stock
2T tomato paste
1T fresh Garlic
4 T cold water or stock
2 T arrow root powder
8 oz. pearl onions peeled and cut in half length wise
In a stock pot or large sauce pan render the diced bacon until browned. Then add you onions, garlic and fennel bulb and saute until translucent. Now add lamb stew meat and cook until browned well. De-glaze with red wine and reduce to simmer. When wine is almost gone add veal stock. When lamb is tender add veal stew meat.and tomato paste and continue to simmer until veal is tender. season to taste and add arrowroot slurry until desired thickness is achieved.Stir in halved pearl onions and simmer until tender.
* * This stew can be served over any starch you desire or without any at all. You can choose to add more vegetables to it as well as potatoes. Play with this recipe and make it your own. If there is anything else that I may be of service for just let me know.
Executive Chef Esau A. Crosby II

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Solo Bistro Bistro- Delectable Dishes in Bath, Maine

Last evening we went to a little swing dance in Bath. On our way we decided to grab a bite to eat. We ended up at Solo Bistro in Bath (Maine of course). Michele served us delicious cocktails that the bartender and owner Will Neilson had created. The chef Esau Crosby was busy in the open kitchen. We enjoyed a wonderful meal that included a luscious grilled chicken risotto and hand cut cilantro noodles with sweet potatoes, tomatoes and a vegetable broth. I thought the menu was simple and innovative. It was one of the first times in recent memory that I would have ordered (and enjoyed) anything on the menu. That seldom happens for me. It was refreshing to see a chef who so carefully utilized local ingredients and incorporated them into dishes that virtually sang their names off the menu. The meal was finished with an espresso cake and an upside down lemon and cranberry cake with orange curd and whipped cream. SO Amazing! Chef Crosby may share a recipe with us later this week. Solo Bistro is worth the trip!
The upside down cake made me think of blueberry sauce. Here is a recipe for you to serve over your favorite dessert or some home made vanilla ice cream.
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup cold water
2 cups (frozen this time of year or fresh in the summer) Maine blueberries
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
In a small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Gradually stir in water. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil and is slightly thickened and clear, stirring constantly. Gently stir in blueberries, lemon zest and juice. Use immediately or chill for later.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Hello Dollies- Magic Bars- Congo Bars

I remember being a little girl and visiting my Aunt Betty in Eliot. She had the most wonderful gardens and would let me walk around and pick sprigs to put in a bouquet on the table. We would press the leaves between our fingers and release the scent into the air. The aromas were heady in her kitchen. She, like my mom, always encouraged me to cook.
One of my favorite recipes- everyone has their own version- was for a bar cookie called Hello Dollies. So good, so chewy and buttery and delicious. They are quick, easy and there are seldom leftovers. These are great for a bake sale- They're a sell out every time.
Hello Dollies
In a 9"x13" pan mix together: 1 stick melted butter and 1 1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers, Nabisco chocolate wafers, or graham crackers. Press mixture into the bottom of the pan to create a crust.
Sprinkle over the crust: 1 cup chocolate bits (I like Ghirardelli extra dark), 1 cup flaked coconut, and an optional 1/2 cup white, butterscotch or peanut butter bits.
Pour evenly over all the ingredients- 1 can sweetened condensed milk.
Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 30 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.
For another decadent layer, melt another half cup of chocolate bits and drizzle over the top. Mmm. Sticky, oooey-gooey, sweetness. This recipe should come with a warning- Not for those with their sweet tooth removed...

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Cottage Cheese Dip for Veggies

Buzz’s Healthy Dip

My friend Buzz is one of the most extraordinary men I know. Not only is he a genius in business, he writes poetry, is a brilliant cook and has a great sense of humor. This is his own invention- a dip that is unusual, delicious and actually good for you.

1 lb cottage cheese
3 oz katsup
6 drops Tabasco or Cholula sauce- or more to taste
1 t garlic powder or 1 clove fresh garlic minced
the juice and zest from 1 large lemon
5 twists of fresh ground pepper
1 t dried oregano
1⁄2 t celery salt or Beau Monde seasoning
1 T dried parsley

12 celery stalks- washed, and cut into 3’ sticks

In a medium bowl combine the cottage cheese, katsup, lemon juice and zest. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Serve with celery sticks for scooping. If you want a smoother dip, you can make this in a food processor and puree the cottage cheese before adding the other ingredients.
Savor. Linger. Enjoy!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Comments from You

Hi Ho
I was just pondering this process and wanted to let you all know how much I love to hear from you. Please feel free to jot me a note, post a comment or send a long detailed email... I like knowing when you've tried a recipe. What did you change? How did you like it? Who did you make it for? All this gives folks encouragement to build a community here. We all love food, or Maine, or just like reading the ramblings of a woman who absolutely ENJOYS cooking.
Let me know what you want to hear as well. Are there any recipes you have been looking for? Any old-timey things you've been longing to find? I'll give it my best shot. So, if I'm not on the dance floor, I'll be in the kitchen trying to concoct something new for your amusement. The french have a wonderful phrase- a little something to taste is an Amuse Bouche- entertainment for your mouth. It's time to have some fun!
You can post here or email at
As always... Savor. Linger. Enjoy!

Quick Veggies and Pasta- or- Seasonal Fresh Vegetables with Whole Wheat Pasta

Sherwood is the master of bachelor cooking. One of his favorite recipes is a 'whatever is in the fridge for veggies and pasta with garlic oil' standard. It makes for a quick and easy dinner when you'd really rather someone else cook for you. I am LUCKY that Sherwood's pasta is SO much better than takeout.
Quick Veggies and Pasta
Look in the fridge or garden (in summer)
Choose the veggies that you'd like to eat for dinner- usually the ones that really have to be eaten tonight or tomorrow will be too late. Sometimes it's even what we bought today. Clean, peel, chop and prep properly enough veggies to make half a main course each for the number of people you're serving. This usually means about a cup to two cups of veggies per person here. Tonight it was broccoli, broccoli and broccoli.
Peel and mince a clove or five of garlic. Mince it up.
Start your pasta water- get your dry or fresh pasta ready for cooking- again, enough portions per person to satiate you within reason. We like whole wheat or high protein pasta because it makes us feel like we're eating healthier.
Be sure to add salt to your pasta water. Heat a Tablespoon or two of canola or olive oil in a saute pan. When the water is boiling, add the pasta. At the same time add the garlic to you saute pan. Cook a minute or so and add your veggies. If you have all sorts of veggies, decide what you want to cook the longest and add it first. Add subsequent veggies about two minutes apart. Cook, stirring ( or if you're confident- flipping the pan to toss) until the pasta is done. I must admit that I love adding a pat of butter here- I know it's not as healthy, but it just tastes so good... Using a pair of tongs, gently transfer the pasta to your saute pan. Add a little splash of pasta water to the veggies. Fold the veggies and pasta together. Season with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and Parmesan cheese to taste.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Asparagus and Tomatoes with Lemon and Garlic

There are just so many wonderful things about pairing vegetables. Tonight we enjoyed dinner with the Schusters, Cam and Serafina and Darin. We celebrated both Raechel and Mike's birthday with Rack of Lamb, Pork Tenderloin, Lamb Riblets, Asparagus and Tomatoes with Lemon and Garlic, Three Cheese Souffle and Dark Chocolate Pots de Creme with Maple Highlighted Greek Yogurt. It was wonderful. The lamb was accented with the traditional rosemary and garlic. The riblets were seasoned with Adobo and Cholula sauce. This time of year the asparagus is especially tender. I wanted to have that spring-y flavor alongside the lamb. Here is a simple recipe for your asparagus...
Asparagus with Tomatoes, Garlic and Lemon
Yes. indeedy- tomatoes and lemon in the same dish. I don't usually combine the flavors- but somehow here they work.
1 lb asparagus- washed and trimmed- cut into 2 inch segments
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
juice of half a lemon
zest of half a lemon
2 cups chopped fresh or canned tomatoes with juice
a sprinkle of salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Place the asparagus in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, fresh garlic and garlic powder, juice and zest of the lemon. Toss to coat.
Cover with the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the additional salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cover the whole dish with foil or it's own top.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes- {I did this because I had the lamb cooking and had to finish dessert on the top of the stove- You could certainly saute this on the stove top.}
Toss before serving. Top with a garnish of lemon zest and the juice of the other half of the lemon.

Friday, April 27, 2007

White Garlic Chili

We're getting ready for a day of swing dancing tomorrow. Steve and Rebecca Drzewiczewski
are coming for some lindy hop workshops. A bunch of us are getting together for soup after the workshops and before the evening dance. I'm in the process of making stock right now. The brownies for dessert just came out of the oven. I was thinking about making some white chili too. Here is one version I like...
White Chili
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced sweet onion
3 ribs celery, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
In a large sauce pan, saute the onion, celery and garlic in the oil over medium heat until they are transluscent.
Add: 4 cups cooked shredded or diced meat (pork, ham, chicken or turkey or a combination)
2 cups (one can) cooked Great Northern Beans- drained
2 cups (one can) cooked baby butter beans- drained
3 to 4 cups hearty chicken broth depending on how thick you want it to be
2 cups (1 can) refried beans
1 Tablespoon chicken bouillon paste or powder
2 cups white corn
4 oz. can diced chilies
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoons Cholula hot pepper sauce
Simmer on low 20 to 30 minutes, stirring often.
When you serve sprinkle each bowl with shredded Monterey Jack Cheese and top with a dollop of sour cream.
If you want to add a little color to your chili, add 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro just before serving. You can also top with slices of fresh avocado, a few dashes of Cholula sauce and a little salsa.