Thursday, March 29, 2007

Swing! and Whoopie Pies!

Swing Dancing with 7th and 8th graders is a workout. Cam and I assisted with the middle school swing dance lessons today. So many of the kids are naturally eager and quick learners. They danced so well. We had our regular Thursday night swing practice tonight, so, we danced from 8:30 or so am to 8:15 or so pm- with a break for lunch and dinner. Life is so good! I'm off to bake for Alice in Wonderland. If I have time I'll make Whoopie Pies. These are a family favorite- somehow they always disappear.

Whoopie Pies
These delectable treats will never fail to please a crowd. Whoopie Pies are the best combination of cookie and cake. Their moist chocolaty outside wraps a rich vanilla filling. The only trick is being sure there are enough to go around. Kids and adults gobble them up as quickly as you can make them.

For the
1 cup butter 2 cups sugar 2 eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla 4 cups flour(or 2+c) 3 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp salt 1 cup cocoa 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream(or mascarpone) 1 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350.
In the bowl of an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Add the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa.
In a small bowl whisk together the buttermilk and sour cream.
Add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
Add the hot water slowly and mix until incorporated.
Use an ice-cream scoop if you have one handy, to drop the batter 2” apart on a parchment lined or greased baking sheet.
Bake for 10-14 minutes or until tops are springy.
Remove from the pan on the sheets of parchment to a rack.
Cool completely.
For the Filling
12 Tbsp. Butter 2 1/2 c. Confectioners sugar-sifted Pinch salt
4 tsp. Pure Vanilla 2 egg whites or 2 Tbsp “just whites”
2 tsp. Fresh lemon juice
In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter with the confectioners sugar and salt until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla and lemon juice.
Add the egg whites one at a time. The filling will seem to break but just keep going and whisk away. It will come right back together.
Continue beating until very light and fluffy- as long as 5 minutes.
Take one chocolate piece. Smooth a thick layer of filling on a flat side. Top with another chocolate piece. Continue putting the Whoopie Pies together until all are assembled. Hopefully you have made an odd number of chocolate pieces- then you get to top the last one with filling and pop it into your mouth. Ah the sweet rewards.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Blueberry Morning, Noon and Night

Hello! I thought I'd share with you an excerpt from an article I wrote for Lincoln County Magazine...
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 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.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Blueberry Bran Muffins

This is the best muffin recipe I know. Enjoy the beautiful bursts of flavor as the blueberries explode in your mouth. Delicious!
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.

I.O.U. Quinoa Salad and Blueberry Smoothies

I Owe You a few recipes. We were away last weekend at Tea Party Swings- a swing dance weekend in Danvers, Massachusetts. What fun!! We danced for hours and learned for days! I forgot my computer cord at home so only had enough power to check email for the three days we were gone. I'll give you some extra recipes today to make up for the last few I missed. Here are two to start...
Quinoa Salad
Let’s get ready for spring. Here is a salad that tastes fresh and light- like a slightly different version of taboule.
2 cups quinoa
4 cups water
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped scallion
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2/3 cup finely chopped fresh dill or basil or cilantro or parsley
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 c honey
2 T Dijon mustard
5 twists freshly ground pepper
a pinch of salt
2 T Extra virgin olive oil
Rinse the quinoa well before cooking to remove its slightly bitter
coating. Place quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.
Combine the chopped veggies including the fresh chopped herb of your choice in a large bowl. Mix well. Add cooked quinoa and toss gently. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, salt, pepper and oil. Taste and adjust seasonings. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine and evenly distribute the flavors. Cover and chill for 2 hours before serving.

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.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Warm Wilted Greens with Pears, Pecans and Goat Cheese

Tonight is a night for homework and dress rehearsal for the play. Here is a recipe from my files to keep you going until I have time to write more. This is an elegant and Very Simple salad for entertaining or dinner anytime. It's an excerpt from Fresh Maine Salads...

Warm wilted greens with pears, pecans and goat cheese
Many fancy restaurants have a version of this recipe. This one is simple and delicious. Add vegetables, as you like to give it your own special flare. Appleton Creamery has wonderful chevre- they have several flavors- all of which are scrumptious.
For the salad:
2 ripe Anjou pears
1 T lemon juice
1 c pecans
6 c baby greens
6 to 8 oz chevre
3 baby Vidalia onions
For the dressing:
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 T balsamic vinegar
4 T olive oil
1⁄2 t salt
1⁄2 t fresh ground pepper
1 t sugar or splenda
For the salad:
Wash and dry the greens. Place in a large bowl. Wash, trim and slice the baby Vidalias. Add to greens. Add pecans.
Rinse and core the pears. Coarsely chop. Toss with 1 T lemon juice. Add pears to the greens.
Crumble the chevre into 1⁄2 inch chunks toss with the vegetables.
In a small sauce pan heat the dressing ingredients. When warm pour over the salad and toss. The greens will wilt and the chevre will begin to soften. Serve immediately.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Quickie Weeknight Nachos

Tonight was a night for food fast. This is a great example of how to make things work without going the "fastfood" route. Here is my slow food version of a quickie meal. You can choose to serve up the meat and toppings in a soft tortilla instead of over chips for tacos or roll up the meat, with a layer of refried beans, top with the cheese and bake a while for another burrito style version. Pickled jalapenos are a great addition. Here, as always, adapt the recipe to your taste- add a little more of this, a little less of that. Whatever tastes good to you and your family. Keep in mind that you want your dinner to be healthy...then go for the gusto!

Quickie Weeknight Nachos
You can have your dinner on the table in 20 minutes.
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 sweet onion- sliced or minced
1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic- minced
3/4 c salsa- we used black bean and corn
1 t or more chili powder
juice of half a lime
Tortilla chips
shredded cheese
avocado- peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped or sliced- spritzed with the juice of half a lime
lettuce- chopped or torn into bite sized pieces
1 fresh tomato- chopped
more salsa
crushed red pepper flakes

Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onions and turkey. Cook until the turkey is completely done, breaking up the meat with your spatula into smaller than bite sized pieces. Add the garlic, salsa, chili powder and lime juice. If you like your nachos spicy- add more chili powder or red pepper flakes. We placed our chips on a sheet pan and heated them in a 300 degree oven while the meat was cooking. Pile the chips onto an individual or serving plate. Top with the meat and shredded cheese. At this point you can heat them again in the oven to melt the cheese or you can just let the heat from the meat and chips melt the cheese. Just before serving top with slices or chunks of fresh avocado, lettuce, more salsa and whatever else you like on your Nachos. We sometimes sprinkle the top with cooked black beans, adzuki beans or add a dollop of sour cream. Mmmm! Soo gooood!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Applesauce Spice Cake with a Cream Cheese Basket Weave Frosting

Elizabeth did it! We tried the fantastic Pastor Chuck Orchard applesauce and she couldn't get enough. It's a dark, sweet, spicy applesauce cooked up here in Maine. We used it to make our family's famous Applesauce Spice Cake. It is always a favorite. We baked it last night and divided the batter to make four 9-inch round layers. It was so irresistable that we frosted and ate a layer last night. The remaining three layers were saved for today. Elizabeth used our deluxe cream cheese frosting recipe and created a beautiful design. She had seen an episode of some food network show that depicted a basket weave frosting design. The only direction she had was how to fill the pastry bag. Her first attempt was a fantastic success. I think it was a combination of her creativity and some sort of predisposed I-Love-to-make-the-fussiest-cake-designs-I-can-think-of gene. She started with an idea and made it into a wonderful cake. I'm so proud of her! Here is the recipe for our moist, delicious family recipe!
One Bowl Applesauce Spice Cake
3 3/4 cup King Argthur all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
3 t cinnamon
2 t cardamom
1 t freshly grated nutmeg
6 eggs
3 cups Pastor Chuck Orchard Applesauce (or your favorite applesauce)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg together into a large bowl.
Whisk together the eggs, applesauce and oil. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir gently until completely combined.
Grease four 9" round cake pans. Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Set two pans each on separate cookie sheets- Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester/toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cakes from the oven and cool completely. Frost and chill or serve right away- you might have to defend the cake if hungry mouths are waiting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 lb bag confectioners sugar
8oz cream cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 t salt
2 T pure vanilla extract
2-4 T cream
Cream the cream cheese and butter together with an electric mixer. Add salt. Slowly add the confectioners sugar a couple of Tablespoons at a time until it is all incorporated- scraping down the bowl often. Add 2 to 4 Tablespoons cream to give the frosting the consistency you like.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Boil your Dinner and Serve it with Remoulade Sauce

Elizabeth loves to bake. She is an excellent little chef. I made the traditional boiled dinner tonight to celebrate St. Patty's Day. No green beer-- but yummy corned beef, cabbage for the grownups and boiled potatoes for all of us. I've taken to peeling a few long carrots before dinner and have them out for the inevitable, "Mom, what can I have to eat...?" They have loved crunching the carrots while I'm putting the finishing touches on dinner. The house smells so good right now! We'll have a remoulade sauce with the corned beef. It's great with ham too.
Once my little peanut has cleaned her room we are baking a cake- she says she wants carrot or applesauce cake. We'll let you know which one we make and give you the recipe tomorrow. Happy St Patrick's Day!
Remoulade Sauce with Variations
This can be as simple as mixing the first two ingredients. Add additional ingredients as you like and taste as you go. Stop when you love it! I am usually making this on the fly with the ingredients I've got on hand.
1 c mayonnaise- I use hellmanns
1/4 c Dijon or honey mustard
5 twists fresh ground black pepper
1 T horseradish
2-4 T chili sauce
2 T (sweet, dill or mustard pickle) relish
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t garlic, finely minced
1 T vinegar- red wine/balsamic/rosemary as you like
2 T parsley, chopped
1 t Tabasco sauce - more or less if you like it spicy
1 t maple sugar
Mix all together and use as a sauce for meat or fish. A little goes a long way.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Apples, Broccoli and Dried Fruit Making Beautiful Music Together

Both children were in a concert tonight. They have their father's love of the trumpet and their step dad's love of eclectic music. Sherwood whipped up dinner tonight and did a great job. I was craving this salad so thought I'd share it with you.

Apple, Broccoli, and Dried Fruit Salad with Maple-Garlic Dressing
Serves 6-8
2 large heads broccoli
1 c dried fruit (I particularly love dried cherries and apricots)
2 large Granny Smith apples
2 T fresh lemon juice
1⁄2 c sunflower seeds, pecans, or walnuts (optional)
1 c mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄4 c pure Maine maple syrup
1⁄2 t salt
a few grinds of pepper
1⁄8 t cayenne

Wash and cut the broccoli into bite-size pieces. Cut the dried fruit so all the pieces are about the size of large raisins. Wash and core the apples and cut them into 3⁄4-inch chunks. Toss them in the lemon juice.
In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
In a large bowl, place the broccoli, dried fruit, apples, and seeds or nuts (if desired), and toss together. Pour the dressing over the salad and fold it together well, ensuring that everything is evenly coated and distributed. Chill for at least 30 minutes

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Herbs from the Kitchen Garden

This time of year it's great to pick up a pot or two of herbs from your local greenhouse or market. You can enjoy sprigs if fresh flavor in your recipes and once June first comes around they can go out into the garden. This fall you can re-pot them and enjoy them in your kitchen window. This recipe is perfect all year round. It saves you from purchasing premade herb cheeses. Make it yourself and use the herbs you love.

Kitchen Garden Herbed Cheese Spread
This creamy spread is wonderful on bagels, paninni, or on top of a warm piece of grilled steak. Herbed cheese is especially good when you purchase the herbs fresh from from your local farm stand or pick them from your own garden. One of the freshest cheeses we have here in Maine comes from the delectable chevre producers. Using this in combination with Neufchatel cheese produces a delicious lower fat spread- you’ll never miss those calories!
• 8 oz Neufchatel cheese or regular cream cheese
• 1T chopped fresh rosemary
• 8 oz plain chevre
• 1/4 c fresh minced parsley
• 1/4 c fresh minced chives
• 1/2 t garlic powder or 1 love fresh garlic very finely minced
• 1/2 t white pepper
• 1/2 t salt
Blend all together until smooth. Chill. This is better the day after it’s made so the flavors can dance around a bit.
If you have a type of herb that you particularly love and want to add some, ie; oregano, thyme, marjoram, or sage, add some to your taste.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Chicken Noodle Soup for the Stomach and the Soul

Cam came to the house tonight- I can always tell when a friend has become part of that insider group- the ones that are chosen as family- when my house feels messy and I don't stress about it before they arrive. Admittedly I warned him Before he got here, that the counters were far from uncluttered. The older I get, the easier it is to let it go when I have to. I still love having a clean, tidy house. When it is clean and tidy I look around and feel so content...but as Sherwood says, "People Live Here". Yup, Life happens. It's amazing how fast a room can go from pristine to Oh-my-gosh-what-happened!?! That's what occurs when I cook. Sometimes the kitchen just looks wonderfully "utilized" with dishes and pans and utensils in some form of 'usage' everywhere. I decided to make some soup to take to school so we could relax and eat before we danced tonight. Chicken Noodle Soup and a Cilantro Vegetable Soup were on the menu.
There's something satisfying about making stock. Boiling the bones of previously roasted and frozen chickens gives your soup an extra layer of flavor. I definitely made the soup tonight to my own personal taste. I love chicken soup with corn and noodles and rich, meaty broth. Cam delivered the pots to school and we met Darin and Serafina there. It is equally delicious to sit and break bread with new friends as it is to satisfy our stomachs with warm, homemade soup. Thanks for taking time to share dinner with us.
How about making your own chicken soup? Here is a recipe to start with---make it your own. Use what you've got and season it the way you like it. Create your own comfort food- It's truly a pot of gold....and it's great fuel for dancing!

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup
Always a crowd pleaser. It’s been Elizabeth’s favorite since she was a baby.
Serves 4-6
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup frozen corn
6 cups hearty chicken broth( make your own stock if you have time)
3 Tablespoons chicken bouillon paste or powder
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1 1/2 cups egg noodles (tonight I used the high protein Barilla rotini- it held well)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion, celery and carrots in butter until fork tender, 5 minutes. Add corn. Pour in chicken broth and stir in chicken, bouillon, and noodles. salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Serve sprinkled with fresh parsley.
A side of crusty bread and a salad makes this soup a meal.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Gratitude for Coffee and Chocolate and Dreams Coming True

I spoke with my friend Mary Allen today of Coffee By Design fame. She and her husband run the finest coffee roastery in the world (located here in Maine)- in the most socially conscious way. I've used their coffee in everything from my morning brew to the chocolate soup coming in the soup book. Oh! I just found out that Superb Maine Soups will be out on October 15, 2007. Sounds like I had better start planning a party! Let me know if you want to come.
So, Hey, all you people out in the blogosphere...I was just thinking about change. Change has a way of rearing it's ever-morphing head so often that you don't see what's happening until one day you open your eyes again and everything looks completely different. I was just reviewing some writing from three or four years ago and realizing that - Oh My Goodness!- I'm living in a completely different world... or at least a mostly different world. All of a gradual-sudden I'm doing what I have dreamed of doing. I've written a book- it's published- I've finished a second- it's on it's way to being published... I've got several cable stations, PBS, and sponsors ready for my up and coming cooking show... The kids are growing into amazing young adults before my eyes...and I'm Dancing- Yes! Dancing! Swing Dancing! every week... This is a dream come true!
What happened to the little girl who got everything she ever asked for??? She was incredibly grateful and extraordinarily happy!! I'm able to dance when I like, cook when I like, snuggle when I like, and generally be who I want to be. Wow! When you put your mind to actually creating what you want- It Comes True.
I imagined it. I asked for it. I believed it. It's here.
My dreams are certainly evolving- as I'm sure yours are- but as they evolve they come true... every step of the way.
Gratitude. Did I ever tell you that I had a horse when I was in high school. His name was Gratitude.
I have been thankful for a really, really long time.
I am thankful for you- reading this here- I hope that you find things in your life to be thankful for as well. It feels thoroughly wonderful and comfortable to the core to be thankful for you- whoever you are. Knowing that you might make a recipe or two; cook it up for yourself or your family or friends; make them smile. I am happy to share what I know with you so you can give to them. How cool is that?!!
OK. For today's recipe, how about something chocolate. I just had some dark chocolate m&ms for my 11:00 snack. Probably not on the best eating plan ever, but it tasted good melting on my tongue. How about if I share one of my chocolate soup recipes. SSSHHHH... it's coming out in October in Superb Maine Soups. You get the first written preview.
Hope you like it.
Liquid Cinnamon Chocolate with Brown Sugar Espresso Cream
The flavors of chocolate and cinnamon join espresso in this warm, luscious soup. It is designed to be bitter sweet- add more sugar if you have a very sweet tooth.
Serves 4
1 cups espresso made with Coffee by Design's wonderful espresso blend
3 cups light cream
2x 3 to 4 inch cinnamon sticks, broken in half
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
6 Tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar (or more if you like it sweeter)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups chopped dark chocolate
a sprinkle of ground nutmeg
Additional cinnamon sticks
Simmer espresso, cream and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan 5 minutes over medium-high heat.
Whisk in espresso powder and brown sugar and cocoa powder. Add chopped chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Discard cinnamon sticks. Ladle into 4 heatproof bowls. Top with Brown Sugar Espresso Cream. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Garnish with additional cinnamon sticks, if desired.
Brown Sugar Espresso Cream
1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 cup chilled heavy cream
3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Whisk cream in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in brown sugar, espresso powder and vanilla. Whisk until stiff. Cover and refrigerate whipped cream.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Scallops Wrapped in Bacon at the Red Cross Crystal Ball

There are few things I enjoy more at an event than having well dressed, polite, food-service-parambu passing crispy on the outside, moist and succulent on the inside scallops wrapped in bacon. Oooh, just the thought makes me salivate. We were treated to this particular taste temptation at the Last night Sherwood, Cam, Cathy, Reed, Susan, Jonathan, Ashley and I attended the Red Cross Crystal Ball in Freeport. I have not seen so many sparkles in one room in a very long time. Everyone was dressed-to-the-nines. The men were nattily attired in black tie evening wear. The women on the other hand- were coiffed and in full feather. It was a delight to be among so many lovely people who were out to make a difference for an excellent cause. Brian Cattell and his band were in fine form giving us all reason to make our way to the dance floor. You know me- any excuse to dance. Cam had Susan and I up on the floor before the first course of dinner was finished. Who needs to eat anyway when you can be dancing...
Just in case you want to try your hand at making Scallops Wrapped in Bacon for yourself, I've included the recipe below. When you go to the market, look for the very freshest scallops. If you are feeling expecially decadent and can delay your gratification long enough to order some bacon from Vermont- go to Harrington's and use their bacon for this recipe.
Scallops wrapped in thick cut bacon drizzled with maple syrup nestled on a bed of greens (excerpted from Fresh Maine Salads, c.Cynthia Finnemore Simonds, Down East Books)
This dish incorporates several of the delicious tastes of Maine. By searing the scallops they stay plump and juicy. You may choose to place them on the grill instead of in a pan. Long skewers are great for this. You may choose to use turkey bacon or regular pork bacon as you like.
For the Scallops:
16 oz large Maine Coast Scallops
8 oz Thick cut bacon
1⁄2 c Real Maine maple syrup
1 clove garlic, minced
Fresh ground black pepper
Sea salt
Toothpicks or bamboo skewers
4 c. fresh baby greens
Begin by soaking your skewers or toothpicks in a pie plate filled with room temperature water. Cut your bacon slices in half so you have two long pieces.
Rinse the scallops and wrap each with a piece of bacon. Fasten the ends together with a skewer or toothpick. Set them in a pie plate. Once all the scallops are wrapped drizzle them with 2 T maple syrup and sprinkle with the sea salt and pepper.
Grill or sauté the scallops-being sure that he bacon is crisp when you’re done. If you are grilling stay and watch them carefully. Use the top rack if you can so the flames will not burn the delicate flesh of the scallops. Set them on their sides in the pan if you are sautéing. As the bacon cooks the drippings will begin to coat the scallops. Cook them 3 minutes on each side if they are large- cook only until they are opaque and the bacon is done.
In a small bowl whisk the remaining maple syrup with the garlic, a sprinkle of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
Lay out your greens on a platter or on separate plates. Place the scallops on the greens and gently remove the toothpicks. If you have used skewers you may leave them in if they are clearly visible. Drizzle the salad with the maple syrup mixture.
Serve immediately.

Cam's Kielbasa and Leading Lindy Hop

When I spoke to Cam this afternoon he was getting ready to cook dinner for his daughter Cathy. Since he had taken my recommendation to buy some kielbasa, there was a certain reasonable expectation that I would actually give him a recipe for how to prepare it. So, on the fly, in the car, while waiting for the service guy to come to the window, I gave him a run down of how to make a yummy dinner-- fast. Cam is a great cook. He has a decent culinary vocabulary...but when I start to suggest deglazing a pan- or if a recipe has more than 4 ingredients- he starts to shake his head and say- "too complicated- Nevermind". The recipe you'll find below has two versions. "The Caminator" (as Sherwood calls him) version and one that has more than four ingredients. Both are quick and delicious. Even though I don't consume all that much along the lines of processed meat- a good kielbasa is great from time to time. Healthy Choice has a turkey kielbasa- with a green label- that is absolutely overflowing with flavor.
Now, I have to tell you what happened after the recipe delivery. I decided that I would take a leap and go down to Maine Ballroom Dance and take their Lindy lesson. I called one of Cam's other daughters- Susan- who, with her husband Tak has the most amazing sushi restaurant in Portland called Yosaku. Susan is an excellent dancer and loves it almost as much as I do. So, I call Susan and say- Hey, let's both of us go and take this Lindy lesson. We met at Yosaku, had a delightful and delicious dinner ( as always) and made our way to Maine Ballroom Dance. This was their "Move and Groove" dance night- an open dance DJ'd and taught by Daniel Moore. For any of you who are learning to or want to learn to dance and are able to be convinced to travel to Portland- take lessons from Daniel. He is one of the most gentle human beings I know. Daniel teaches with kindness. He is so welcoming and willing to accept everyone where they are. Tonight, the follows outnumbered leaders, so, I decided to take the plunge and try to lead. It was the first time for me. I found out that I LOVE to follow. It was a pleasure to try and lead the lovely ladies who had come to learn the Lindy. I certainly benefitted greatly from the experience. I had the opportunity to dance with Daniel later in the evening and Yes Indeedie- I love to follow on the dancefloor. Thanks for the dance Daniel- and the's one more step on the ladder of learning Lindy!

Here is an example- in our own Portland, Maine of two extraordinary LindyHoppers who came to put on a workshop in February. This is how it's done...
Caminator's Kielbasa
1 package Healthy Choice kielbasa
1 cup frozen peas
3 cups cooked rice
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon paste or powder
Slice the kielbasa into 1/2 inch thick coins. Drizzle a little olive oil in a large pan and saute the coins until they release a bit of liquid and begin to brown. Add the peas and stir. Cook a couple of minutes and then add rice. Dissolve the bouillon in 1/4 cup of water. Pour the water over the entire mixture and scrape the bottom of the pan to release the caramellized brown bits. Cook stirring constantly until heated through. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper if necessary.
Kielbasa #2
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 medium sweet onion, sliced
1 package Healthy Choice kielbasa
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup fresh baby spinach
3 cups cooked rice
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon paste or powder
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or rosemary or herb of your choice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Slice the kielbasa into 1/2 inch thick coins. Drizzle a little olive oil in a large pan and saute the garlic and onion for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the coins and cook until they release a bit of liquid and begin to brown. Add the peas and stir. Cook a couple of minutes and then add the spinach and rice. Dissolve the bouillon in 1/4 cup of water. Pour the water over the entire mixture and scrape the bottom of the pan to release the caramellized brown bits. Add the herb of your choice and cayenne if you like. Cook stirring constantly until heated through. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper if necessary.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Corn Chowder in New England with a -20 Wind Chill

Swing dance practice was fun tonight. Each time we go, different people come and join us. It's wonderful to see folks try out the basic step and feel so good when they "get it" quickly.
Everyone who comes is wonderful about sharing what they know. We all helped Jonathan and Ashley with their aerial for the DownEast Country Dance Festival/ Mainaic Swing Dance Performance. They both looked so sore by the end of the evening. Serafina and Darin had some wonderful suggestions. They both look so fantastic when they dance. I LOVE to dance but I think watching is a great way to learn little techniques that can help with my own dancing. Yes, my face hurt a little when we finished from smiling so much.
It was absolutely frigid tonight. The wind chill must have made it feel like minus 20. It remined me of being a little kid and playing outside. You know that feeling when you're bundled up so warm that your arms stick out from your sides, the only part of your body that is exposed is your face but you don't want to smile because the wind freezes your teeth and when you breathe through your nose you immediately feel the nostril hairs form into little icicles. BRRRRR!! That's how cold it was tonight. On evenings like this, my Mom was famous for making a big pot of soup. I truly enjoy corn chowder. This recipe is great multiplied or made to these specs. It's easy to adjust to your taste. Add a little cayenne if you want it to have a kick. The creamed corn gives it a velvety consistency. It's great with biscuits to dunk. Mmm.

New England Corn Chowder
This recipe is non-traditional but quick and yummy. This Chowder tastes wonderful reheated. The recipe is easily doubled for a crowd.
Serves 6-8
1” thick by 1” wide by 3” long piece of salt pork or 4 slices bacon (if you don't want to use pork bacon you can use turkey bacon, turkey kielbasa or leave out all the meat and add an extra Tablespoon or two of vegetable bouillon to your liking)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock.
4 cups diced potatoes
2 cups light cream
2 cups or 2 cans evaporated milk
2 cups frozen or 1 can sweet corn
2 cans creamed corn
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Slice the salt pork (or bacon) into thin strips and finely dice. Sauté in a medium saucepan until brown and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Add onions to bacon fat and cook until translucent. Add the stock and potatoes. Simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Add the cream, evaporated milk, sweet corn, creamed corn, salt and pepper. Heat until just simmering. Do Not Boil. Serve with crunchy salt pork or bacon bits and oyster crackers or biscuits. Store in the refrigerator up to four days.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Creamy Turkey Pot Pie

Today was SOOO cold- I'm not sure it rose above 3 degrees. It felt like a pot pie day. The freezer yielded some frozen turkey and corn. There were portobello mushroom caps and carrots in the fridge. I always have chicken bouillon paste, fresh garlic, milk, some sort of potato (sweet this time) and flour. That's all I needed to make a special version of turkey pot pie. Here it is:
Turkey Pot Pie Casserole Dinner
2 cups frozen corn
2 cups chopped cooked turkey
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 portobello mushroom caps, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon Chicken bouillon paste
1 cup chopped baby carrots (peas would be good too)
2 medium sweet potatoes
4 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons flour
4 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 Tablespoons chicken bouillon paste
a few grinds black pepper
3 small or 2 medium sweet potatoes
In a 2" high approx 14" diameter casserole layer corn and turkey.
In a medium saucepan, saute the chopped mushrooms, carrots and garlic in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add 1 t of the bouillon and cook 5 minutes more. Pour the cooked mushroom mixture over the top of the turkey. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1/2"slices. Place sweet potatoes in a microwavable dish and cook in microwave for 4 minutes.
While the sweet potatoes are cooking melt the butter in the same pan you used to cook the mushrooms. Add the remaining 3 T chicken bouillon. Whisk in the flour and cook for three or four minutes stirring constantly. Add the nutmeg and pepper. Whisk over medium heat until well combined and thickened about 10 minutes. Arrange the slices of sweet potatoes over the mushrooms and turkey, making a pretty design as you lay them out. Pour the thick sauce evenly over the top of the sweet potatoes. Bake 1 hour in a 350 degree oven. Serve with a salad if you like.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Chicken Teriyaki and San Tung Dreams

Our family loves Asian food. We go to San Tung in San Francisco whenever we're there. It's our absolute favorite restaurant on the west coast. I programmed their phone number into my cel phone the last time we visited my brother. Some nights I just want to have them deliver to my doorstep- on the coast of Maine- someone, please invent a teleporter!! They make the most delicious dry-fried chicken. It is a combination of Korean and Chinese crispy chicken with a thick, spicy sauce. It's sooo good!
Elizabeth's favorite is teriyaki anything. Since she has been under the weather (her fever actually reached 106.7 about 10 minutes ago- The doc just started her on antibiotics tonight. We're hoping it's not appendicitis!) I wanted to make something special for her. I cooked up some chicken teriyaki, and broccoli. Sherwood made brown rice. Usually a dinner she will gobble up! Unfortunately, she didn't eat a thing. The rest of us enjoyed this healthy dinner. If you'd like to try Elizabeth's favorite teriyaki marinade for yourself this is how you make it.
Teriyaki Marinade for Chicken
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 Tablespoons Hoisin sauce
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons pickled ginger, minced- I like the pink kind
2 Tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sambal oelek (chili paste)-optional, or more if you like it spicy
2 Tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon thick sweet soy -(you can find this in most asian grocery stores- It is a wonderful ingredient for lomein as well)
Whisk all of the ingredients together. Pour over chicken. One of the best ways I've found to marinate meats is to place the meat in a large ziploc bag, pour the marinade over the meat, press all of the air out of the bag and zip it up. Massage the marinade into the meat and place the bag in a bowl. Place the bowl in the refrigerator. Let the meat sit at least 30 minutes. I love to get this step done the day before and let the meat soak up all of the flavor overnight. I've even been known to freeze the meat in the marinade. All you have to do is thaw out the meat and cook as you like. This teriyaki is great on steak, pork, chicken and shrimp. It is also a good mix to toss with lo mein noodles and veggies. Use just enough for your taste.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Roasted Eggplant with Garlic and Olive Oil

This seemed like a wonderful night for roast chicken. We will often pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and pair it with a salad for a busy weeknight dinner. Elizabeth was sick again today, so, I was home and could take the time to roast a chicken here. It came out so succulent and delicious! The market had some beautiful garnet sweet potatoes the other day and the eggplant looked fantastic. I wanted something to combine the two for a new side dish. The product was a scrumptuous roasted vegetable trio. The eggplant roasted just long enough that the coating ingredients had just begun to carmellize. Oh my! What a glorious combination of textures and flavors. The house smelled like home. All I need is a dance around the kitchen to make it perfect!
HomeStyle Roast Chicken
5 lb chicken- rinsed
Place the chicken in a roasting pan.
Sprinkle over the entire top of the chicken: garlic powder, salt, pepper, and paprika.
Give it a little spritz with Bragg's Liquid Aminos- this tastes like a light soy sauce.
Roast at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half.

Oven Roasted Eggplant and Sweet Potatoes with Garlic and Olive Oil
1 large eggplant
juice of 1 lemon
3 medium garnet sweet potatoes
2 large carrots
4 cloves garlic or more if you like
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon thick sweet soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Braggs Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Peel the eggplant and chop into 1 inch chunks. Place in a bowl with 1 teaspoon salt, lemon juice and fill with water to cover the eggplant. Cover with a papertowel. Press the paper towel down into the water to completely soak it. Let eggplant sit while you prepare the sweet potatoes.
Peel and chop the sweet potatoes and carrots into 1 inch pieces. Place the chopped sweet potatoes and carrots into a large ziploc bag. Pour 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil over the top and squish it around to coat all of the pieces. Peel and chop the garlic coarsely and add to the bag. Moosh it around to disperse.
Drain the eggplant and press a bit to remove as much of the liquid as possible. Add the eggplant to the bag along with the remaining olive oil, salt, pepper, thick soy and Bragg's or soy sauce. Move all of the vegetables around together to coat completely. Pour out onto a greased sheet pan. Roast in a 325 or 350 degree oven- depending on what you are cooking with it- for about an hour. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and serve warm. You can mash it a bit and add a little more olive oil to make a thick dip/spread for bread.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

A Speecy-Spicy-Meat-A-Ball

Remember that commercial. I don't know which product it was for, but I can still hear the man saying I Like-A Speecy-Spicy-Meat-A-Ball. That's what we had for dinner. The kids engaged the Parental Taxi Service today as they all went to play with friends. Sherwood had band practice so I fixed dinner while he went to pick them up. He wanted pasta with meatballs. I cooked up my special quickandeasy meatballs and ended up making meatball patties. We tried the Barilla protein pluse penne and it was really quite good. A little fresh broccoli on the side and we had a yummy meal. The sauce we used was Emeril's Kicked up Tomato. Here is the recipe for the quickandeasy meatballs.
QuickAndEasy Turkey Meatballs
Serves 4 hungry people
1 lb fresh ground turkey
1 egg
1 cup dry seasoned turkey/chicken stuffing mix
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 garlic clove minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mix all of the above ingredients together with your hands until well combined. Form into 12-14 meatballs. If you like you can flatten them into little patties. Place them in a large saute pan with a teaspoon or so of oil. Cook meatballs until browned on all sides and meat is done. If you have other things to do you can place the meatballs on a sheet pan and bake them in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Heat up the tomato sauce of your choice and pour it over your meatballs in the pan. Serve over pasta with a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley.
Garlic bread makes a nice accompaniment as well.

Thinking of Spring...and herbs for the garden

It's time to start thinking about spring. I may relapse into my love of winter again but it's fun to think about the possibilities for planting my kitchen garden. I have a delightful little rock bordered garden that rests just beside my deck. It is the perfect place for flowers, herbs and fresh garnishes for our table. This spring I'll be going up to Moose Crossing Herbs in Waldoboro to find some hardy new perennials to add this year. Oregano is on the list. I'll be adding another type of thyme and some pineapple sage. I'll have to set in some annuals as well. Of course there will be parsley, sage, rosemary and cilantro. Last year the cilantro reseeded from 2005. I love when that happens!
We went to dinner at Cam's tonight before attending the swing dance at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. It was great to see all of the college kids learning the steps to the shim-sham, jitterbug stroll and two hand slide variations. It is always a joy to see young men willing to learn how to swing. I always try to participate in the lesson so the leads will have a follow who can do what they tell them to do.
I am so proud to be a swing dancer!
Here is a recipe for an herb rub to get you thinking about spring- I've used fresh herbs here but have included options for dried just in case you need to resort to the winter option. Let's be the early bird- and look toward a beautiful, warm, green Springtime!

Herb Rub recipe

3 Tablespoons fresh chopped thyme or 1 Tablespoon dried thyme
3 Tablespoons fresh chopped oregano or 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped marjoram or 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
3 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or 1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients; store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days if fresh or up to two weeks if dried.
Rub on chicken, fish, or pork chops before grilling. It is especially nice if you mix the entire batch with 1/2 cup of olive oil and rub it on chicken breasts or two long narrow pork tenderloins. Let them sit, covered in the refrigerator for a day. Wipe most of the mixture off, discard the used herbs and grill the meat. Delicious!
Instead of using on meat: The fresh herb and olive oil mixture is also wonderful tossed with freshly cooked pasta and a handful of parmesan cheese or as a dip for crusty bread.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Snowed In and Baking Challah

This is what winter is all about. Snow Days! The kids were home. Most businesses in town were closed. The coffee shop attached to our local bookstore even told customers yesterday that they would be closed today. I love that kind of planning. Travis and I walked to the end of our street to meet a friend of his- Sal and Sal's Mom Kate. He carried his gear with him for a sleepover. We were all being pelted by prickly little ice pellets and a gusty, cold wind. When we met them on the road, I remarked that this would be a great day to bake some bread. Kate said her daughter had just started some at their house. There's nothing like the aroma of fresh baking bread. I decided that it was about time for Elizabeth to learn how to braid Challah. While the bread was in its first rise- I started some stock with about 4 lbs of bones I had frozen (from various roast chickens and a turkey). The whole house smells SOOO good! It's bubbling away on the back burner right now. When it was time for the Challah to be braided Elizabeth was right there to help. She punched down the dough- and for her the punching down was a slow, flathanded, heymomcanIjustpushdownandtouchthebottom of the bowl???? It was so cute to watch her face as her hand sunk into the soft risen dough. That is one reason we bake bread. The tactile experience of kneading the dough and later, pressing our hands into the risen bulk. It's very satisfying. She did a tremendous job forming the strips and braiding the loaf. We each made one, side by side. It's in its second rise right now. Here is the recipe:

2 loaves
2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup honey
1 Tablespoon salt
6 cups unbleached all purpose flour- I like King Arthur
1 3/4 cups hot water
1/2 cup melted butter
4 eggs, slightly beaten- we had some from my mom's chickens- it always amazes me to see how yellow fresh from the farm eggs can be
Place the yeast, honey, salt and 2 cups of the flour in a large bowl.
Add the water, melted butter and eggs. Whisk vigorously for 4 minutes. Be sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl often.
Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn out onto a floured board and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour a Tablespoon at a time if necessary for the dough to be firm- so it's easy to shape.
Place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat the top completely. Cover with a clean, moistened linen dishtowel. Let rise until doubled in bulk- about 1 1/2 hours.
Deflate dough and cut into six even pieces. Roll or squeeze each piece to make a long strip. Set three strips next to eachother and pinch the tops together. Braid the pieces, pinch the ends together and tuck the ends under. Repeat with the remaining three pieces of dough. Place the braided loaves on parchment or silpat lined sheet pans.
Cover loaves loosely with a barely moistened linen towel or plastic wrap. Let rise until almost doubled. Brush dough with a glaze made from 1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon of cream. You can sprinkle poppy seeds, sesame seeds or any other seeds you like.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until a beautiful golden brown. Lift the braids off of the sheet pans cautiously with a spatula and cool on a rack before cutting.
This bread is So delicious with butter and cinnamon sugar. We are having it tonight alongside some yummy chicken noodle soup.
Hope you like it!

A Passion for Food and Friends- Revealing a Secret

Something important occurred to me today- one of those lightbulbs going off in cartoon form over the top of my head- I figured out something about food and life. Now, I'll reveal this secret to you.
I have always loved to cook. I mean REALLY loved to cook. I would take hours to make the perfect petit four or wrap dozens of scallops with bacon. For a local chocolate fest fundraiser last year I painted the ends of two hundred toothpicks with silver and crimson nailpolish, then dunked the wet polish in prismatic/holographic glitter. After they dried I used the non-colored end to pierce a chocolate truffle; dunked it in more dark chocolate and served them on a tiered glass display. They were plated alongside chocolate bowls that were filled with chocolate mousse and topped with chocolate curls. Yes, I know, chocolatechocolatechocolate... They were fussy and time consuming and difficult to make. But, I loved it. They were a feast for the senses. They were beautiful and unusual and aromatic and luscious. The coated stem-like toothpicks were rough to the touch but the truffles....oh my goodness. They melted on your tongue; enrobing it in a dark, silky, chocolate-velvet dream.
I used to say: at a dinner party or catering event when a room full of friends tasted the food...the room went quiet...then there was a ripple effect~they would all start to make that yummy noise. You know the soft, primal, eyes-rolling-back-in-the-head, crescendo of mmmmmm. It was that noise that made it all worthwhile. It still does. But somewhere in a book I was reading, I read a sentence that equated cooking with passion. Now, this passion can go two ways for me. It can go toward the 'Mother Earth nourishing the world, it's my calling to feed and nurture the spirit of those I touch, maternal, I offer you everything that is me in this dish in this moment' way. OR it can go toward the Like Water For Chocolate movie style direction...the heartracing, pulsing, yearning, gastronomically orgasmic direction.
The eating of food for me is satisfying. The making of food for me is in an entirely different stratosphere- it is one of my purposes for being, a reason for my existence. I can make something for you from a place in me that I can reach only through the pure joy of loving life. It is a physical embodiment of the word Namaste. I understand its meaning to be: I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells,
I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Truth, of Light and of Peace,
When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One.

We are all connected. We are all of one energy. From one source we all originated and to that one source we all shall return. Whatever label you give to that universal energy source~ from it comes peace and love and hope and joy and abundance.
My passion for cooking comes from the purest essence of who I am honoring and celebrating the purest essence of who you are. My hands and my heart draw forth the flavors and sensations from the foods I combine to create something magical that gives to your soul and tastebuds a pleasure that can only be described as rapture, as bliss. That is where my intentions begin and end. To share this delicious moment with those who choose to walk with me. I cook.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Charleston Practice and Cannoli Rewards

Tonight we had swing practice and since the snow is just starting to fall - most folks stayed home. We were lucky that Jonathan, Serafina, Darin, Megan, Cathy, Allen and Ashley joined the kids and I for a couple hours of fun. Since we had an uneven number of leads and follows we decided to work on some charleston and the jitterbug stroll. The basic charleston step starts on the right for follows (left for leads) its a right foot rock, step, kick, step (down with the right foot). Weight shifts to the right foot (left for leads) with a left foot kick, hitch, kick back, step. The hitch is a lift up and pause before moving the foot back for the kick and then down for the step. It sounds like this rock, step, kick, step, kick, hitch, kick, step- and as Jonathan says...rinse and repeat...rock, step, kick, step, kick, hitch, kick, step-rock, step, kick, step, kick, hitch, kick, step- Seraphina told us about a variation that had the followers step out to the right instead of the rock/weight shift. It sounded like push(out to the side), step, kick, step, kick, hitch, kick, step-push(out to the side), step, kick, step, kick, hitch, kick, step- We danced and practiced for almost three hours.
After dancing- Elizabeth and I had a delicious treat. Her tastebuds are growing-and she is finally sharing some of my favorite foods. The Mediterranean Kitchen in Damariscotta has lovely Cannoli- Here is a recipe to make them at home. If you've got some extra chocolate you can melt it and dunk the ends of your cannoli shell either before or after it contains the sweet cheesy filling.

3 lbs ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate
12 Cannoli shells
melted dark chocolate
chopped pistachios
Mix cheese, sugar, cinnamon and chips together well and stuff into cannoli shells. You can dip one end of the empty shell or the finished cannoli in the melted chocolate and roll in chopped nuts if you like.