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.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Roasted Eggplant Stuffed Tomatoes

Ok, I just watched my DVR recording of a dog named Tilly who "paints" pictures by scratching, chewing and licking a carbon paper covered canvas. Her art works sell for up to 2200 dollars.... oh my goodness. Ginger may be in for a new career!
I had a delightful lunch today with Amy Burchstead, her family and farm crew. It was wonderful to sit and chat about community supported agriculture. I just love the family and friends component to building a culture around a farm. I made a roasted vegetable dish tonight that inspired me to get to the computer.
Roasted Eggplant Stuffed Tomatoes
2 medium sized eggplant, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch chunks ( I forgot to peel the eggplant when I made it tonight. I would definitely peel it next time, though it did taste like it was full of fiber...)
4 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
a few grinds black pepper
a sprinkle of garlic powder
a sprinkle of adobo seasoning
a light sprinkle of cumin
Toss all of these ingredients together on a lightly greased sheet pan. Roast at 350 degrees for just shy of an hour.
The tomato part should be done at the same time. Cut 10 plum tomatoes in half and remove all of the seeds and inner membranes. Place cut side up on the same sheet pan beside the eggplant.
Roast for the same amount of time with the eggplant.
Stir the eggplant about 30 minutes into the cooking time. When the veggies smell wonderful and are slightly caramelized, stir once more and remove from oven.
Place all of the eggplant into the bowl of a food processor. Add another sprinkle of adobo seasoning, and garlic powder. Pulse to begin pureeing. Add up to 3 T of water and continue pulsing to create a very thick- almost smooth- paste. Remove the tomato halves from the sheet pan carefully- to keep their shape.
Generously fill the roasted tomato halves with the eggplant puree. Serve alongside some spinach salad or curried chicken salad over spinach with fresh apple slices (like we did tonight)
It was absolutely scrumptious!
Savor. Linger. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Haddock Chowder with Bacon

We went for our first tandem bike ride since January tonight. Easing into it we only rode between 9 and 10 miles. It was great fun. Both of us got home with extra in the tank. It feels so great to get moving. We earned a bowl of fish chowder, so, after a quick shower I dove into the kitchen. This is the quickie chowder recipe... Hope you like it!
Haddock Chowder with Bacon
4-5 slices thick cut bacon, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium sweet onion, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
3 potatoes, peeled and chopped into 3/4 inch chunks
3 cups boiling water
6 large mushrooms chopped into 3/4 inch chunks
1 Tablespoon chicken bouillon paste
2 teaspoons vegetable bouillon paste
1 lb haddock or chowder mix from your favorite fish market
1 cup (or more) frozen corn
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups skim milk
10-15 twists fresh ground black pepper
In a heavy bottomed medium pot, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove from the pot to a plate lined with paper towels.
place the onion and potato in the bacon fat. Cook until the onions are lightly caramelized.
Add water and bring to a boil. Add mushrooms and both bouillons. Cook for 10 minutes or so until the potatoes are cooked through. Add the fish. Cover and cook until the fish is flaky. It's ok to stir everything around- the fish will get all broken up and mix with the other ingredients. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add corn. Cook another 5 minutes. Add the cream, milk and pepper. Stir gently and heat through. Lower the heat and let come barely to a simmer- it takes about 5 more minutes. Skim off any foam or impurities that have come to the surface. Ladle out the chowder into pretty bowls. Serve with pilot crackers or oyster crackers.
Tonight- this tasted like home.
Savor. Linger. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Lime Seared Tuna with Wasabi Cilantro Drizzle

Wow! Coming back from the west coast has inspired me once again! I spent the afternoon putting the finishing touches on the manuscript for Superb Maine Soups. It set my mind to percolating. I saw some beautiful tuna steaks at the market and one thing led to another. Back at home in the kitchen this recipe evolved to a delightful conclusion. Sherwood almost licked his plate clean. I love it when that happens. Hope you enjoy it too.
Wasabi Cilantro Drizzle
2 teaspoons prepared wasabi paste- or more to taste
juice of half a lime
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
3/4 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
Whisk all ingredients together. Chill until ready to serve. The maple syrup reduces the tang of the yogurt. If you like the tangy-ness you can omit the syrup.

Lime Seared Tuna
Marinate two tuna steaks in the juice of half a lime. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Let sit for half an hour. Turn them a couple of times or marinate them in a ziploc bag. Heat your pan til it's very hot. Drizzle with olive oil and add a little pat of butter. Place the tuna in the pan carefully. Sear the tuna on all sides just until it's slightly caramelized but rare. Drape with the wasabi cilantro drizzle and serve immediately.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Lemon- Yogurt Ceasar Dressing

Happy to be home! We spent the last week on the left coast visiting with my brother Todd and his amazing fiance Rebecca. We Love Rebecca! While we were gone there was some interesting weather here in Maine. The National Guard closed Main Street because high winds were blowing bricks off of the buildings downtown. Our county and the entire state of Maine both were in a state of emergency. The airlines were all discombobulated- so we had to delay returning for two days. That gave us time to enjoy even more food!
We had some wonderful meals out in sunny California. Tommy's was fantastic; Home magnificent; DeLessio divine; and San Tung consistently delicious. I'll be sharing information about each place over the next few days. Tonight we are recovering from jet lag and lack of sleep. Dinner was simple and healthy. No more indulgence for a little while (though I admit- I'm having a couple of spoons of chilled chocolate ganache while I write.)
I was in the mood for salad this afternoon- We brought the sun back with us from out west- it was a beautiful spring 70. I couldn't help that sooo-ready-to-get-my-hands-in-the-dirt feeling I always get when the weather turns warm. Rising Tide had some of the first local organic mesclun I've seen this year. Here is a recipe for dressing that is delicious and Caesar-y without all the fat of regular dressing.
Lemon-Yogurt Caesar Dressing
In a small nonreactive bowl place the following ingredients:
the juice and zest of half a lemon
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (or your favorite pepper sauce)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 clove of garlic- pressed or finely minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup freshly grated aged provolone or Parmesan cheese
using a microplane- grate 1/2 a granny smith apple- this must be so fine it's almost mushy
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
notice the distinct lack of any oil here...
Whisk all together until completely blended. Place clean washed greens on top of the dressing in the bowl. Use a rubber spatula or two to toss the greens to coat with the dressing. Scrape all of the bits up from the bottom of the bowl. Serve piled high on a chilled plate.
Top with Maine Shrimp (that have been marinated in lemon and garlic) and sauteed in a bit of olive oil until just cooked through.
-Savor. Linger. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

24 Makes a Party

Happy Easter Everyone! What a wonderful day. From the realization at 7:30 Friday night that Cam, Cathy, Pete and Ellie didn't have plans for Easter dinner to 2:00 Sunday when the kitchen was reverberating with the laughter and conversation of 24 voices, it was as if a delightful April snowball was gathering speed and mass as it rolled down a 30 hour long hill. Sometimes spontaneity is the best (and fastest) way to host a holiday dinner. Let's see... Mom, Dad, Ashlyn and Kayla, Cam, Ellie, Cathy and Pete, Adele, David, Tanner and Tess, Amy and Steve, Serafina and Darin, Greg and Sally, Sarah and Tony, Sherwood, Travis, Elizabeth and I. Now, that's a party. Everyone pitched in, and no one left hungry. Adele made Green Bean Casserole. Cathy brought bread. Sarah made deviled eggs. Serafina made a warm carrot salad. Mom brought some chips, edemamme, ham, Apple Crisp, Chiffon Cake, Strawberries and Whipped Cream. Greg made a Mediterranean Cucumber and Tomato Salad. I made some veggie dip and onion dip with carrots and pretzels, cashews, and shrimp cocktail. For dinner I added corn, mashed potatoes, pineapple casserole, and roast leg of lamb with rosemary gravy. It was so succulent. We also had traditional cheesecake with dark and white chocolate sauces, lemon bread, and lemon muffins.
We had a feast. A feast of blessings. How wonderful it was to be surrounded by family and friends old and new. To know that we had enough to share. We could break bread and give thanks for all of those who joined us at the table. I absolutely love the moments at a gathering where I can fade into the background, become the kitchen, and embrace the feeling of contentment. I have given myself to these people. They have received me and they are happier because of it. That is pure pleasure for me- It's pure love. Thank you all for giving me such a wonderful day.
Here is one version of Chocolate Sauce for Serafina and Rosemary Lamb for everyone.
Chocolate Sauce
1 12ounce package Ghirardelli Chocolate Bits
1 ounce unsweetend chocolate- chopped
1 cup heavy cream
Place all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Cover. Heat on high for 2 minutes. Stir with a small whisk until all chocolate is melted. Serve over chiffon cake, cheesecake, ice cream or just on your finger.

Roast Leg of Lamb
1 7 or so pound fresh leg of lamb
1 Tablespoon dried Rosemary
10 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried lavender
1 teaspoon dried oregano
For the gravy: 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water, and 3 Tablespoons chicken or vegetable bouillon paste
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash the leg of lamb and trim any silver skin. With the blade of a sharp paring knife, pierce the lamb with 15 or so 3/4" deep slits all over the leg. Set the lamb on a rack in a deep baking pan, fat side up. Peel the garlic cloves and cut the larger ones in half. Push the garlic pieces deep into the slits. Sprinkle the entire leg with the herbs and spices. Pour 6 cups of water into the baking pan. Cover well with foil and roast 45 minutes. Turn down the heat to 325 degrees and continue cooking 2 1/2 hours. Uncover and cook another 15 minutes. Remove the lamb from the oven and place on a deep platter. Cover with foil and let rest 15 minutes. Pour the drippings through a fine mesh sieve into a medium saucepan. Heat on high. Add the bouillon. In a separate bowl mix the cornstarch and cold water until completely dissolved. Pour the mixture into the saucepan. Whisk constantly until the gravy comes to a boil, and thickens. Turn the heat all the way to its lowest setting. Carve the lamb into slices to your liking. Drizzle the meat with gravy and serve. Be sure you've got extra gravy at the table. Hope you like it!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Getting Ready for Easter

A party's a brewing. Mom and Dad lost power due to the storm. When it came back on their oven was out of commission. We had planned to go up to the farm for Easter dinner. We decided to have them here instead... and the more the merrier! Cam, Ellie, Cathy and Pete, Greg and Sally, Adele, David, Tanner and Tess, Sarah and Tony and us- we've got 20 and counting. I think parties like this are so wonderful. There is the tidying of the house and cooking to get to. So, I'll give you some recipes tomorrow. Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Chef's Seasoning for Your Table

There are many seasoning blends in the spice aisle created to give your dishes extra flavor. Here is one blend that is simple and delicious. If you need to use less salt, cut the amount in half.
This is a great way to use the flavors you like best. Add your favorite dried herbs or spices to this mixture to make it your own.
Chef's Salt
1/4 cup salt
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 Tablespoons sweet paprika
Mix all ingredients together. Store in a tightly sealed container. A clean empty spice container with a shaker top works well. It's a great substitute for your regular table salt and pepper.
Use to season your favorite recipes.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Fresh Salsa and Tortilla Chips

Even as we get ready for tonight's last (hopefully) snowstorm of the year, I am reminded of sunshine and salsa. I was in Rising Tide today talking about cooking on tv. John and I were standing in the produce section and I spied the most beautiful rip red tomatoes. They reminded me of a time when I would make dinners for dozens of friends in my tiny dorm kitchen. We would make a gallon of fresh salsa and scare up some chips. With these two things we were on our way to a fantastic evening picnic. Here's a recipe for fresh salsa that will get your party started on the right foot.
Fresh Salsa
2 large ripe tomatoes, finely diced
1/4 cup sweet onion, finely diced
2 scallions, finely chopped
4 Tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 large clove garlic, crushed and finely minced
1/2 orange bell pepper, minced (optional)
1/2 red bell pepper, minced (optional)
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
Pinch of chili flakes or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
juice of 1 lime
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt and a few grinds of black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a non reactive bowl and chill at least 1 hour before serving.
Great with the addition of chopped fresh peaches or mango, more heat from additional jalapenos or black beans and corn.

Strawberry Parfait for Any Day

I've been writing an article for Lincoln County Magazine about strawberries today. It does seem like spring will be here soon- even though the snow is flying outside the window this afternoon. Thank goodness it's not sticking. I've got Singers and Standards playing in the background with Witchcraft tempting me to dance. We learned a little bit of Balboa at Tea Party Swings. It's based on the foxtrot- one of my favorite dances. I am looking forward to getting out on the dance floor this Friday. Until then, my strawberry article has to take the front seat. I'll share this recipe with you. It's sooo good.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Mousse Parfait with Fresh Strawberries

This parfait will delight your guests — and only you will know how easy and fast it is to make! Serves 6
• 8 oz cream cheese or plain Chevre for a more earthy flavor (at room temperature)
• 1-1/4 c sifted powdered sugar (divided)
• 2 T pure vanilla extract
• 1 c chilled heavy cream
• 1 qt fresh strawberries
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl down often to be sure there are no lumps. Slowly add 1/2 c of the sifted powdered sugar.
In another bowl, beat the heavy cream. When soft peaks form slowly add the vanilla and 1/2 c of the sifted powdered sugar. Whip to stiff peaks. (Tip: When making whipped cream, chill your bowl for 30 minutes and the cream will whip much more easily.)
Gently fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. When it is completely incorporated, fold in another 1/3 of the whipped cream. Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Thinking of Spring and New Potatoes

It's raining today and almost all of the snow has disappeared. The only lump left is at the base of the driveway, the remains of the mountain the plow pushed down the hill all winter. This means it's time to start some seeds on the porch and get ready for planting. I thought I'd try tomatillos this year. The herbs are always a joy to see emerge. Their tender little shoots determined to see the sun. After our trip out west to see Todd and Rebecca, we'll get started in the garden. This recipe makes me think of spring...

Dilled New Potato Salad

Unlike the traditional Maine potato salad this one is lighter and flavored with fresh dill and lemon. It has a delightful taste. Try it using low fat ingredients if you like. It is especially beautiful garnished with nasturtiums or pansies. The nasturtiums are peppery and add a nice flavor to the lemon and dill.
For the salad:
• 2 lbs very small new Maine potatoes
• 2 baby Vidalia onions
• 2 hard-boiled eggs peeled and chopped
• 1 c grated carrots
For the dressing:
• 2/3 c sour cream
• 1 c Mayonnaise
• 3 T chopped fresh dill
• 3 T chopped fresh parsley
• 1/4 c fresh lemon juice
• 2 t minced lemon zest
• 1/2 t salt
• 1/ 2 t white pepper
Wash the potatoes well and cook in salted boiling water until just tender (but not mushy). Chunk them until they are in bite-sized pieces. Slice the baby Vidalia onions thinly and toss with the potatoes. Place all the vegetables in a large bowl and toss gently.

In a small bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour over vegetables and toss gently to coat. Make sure you don’t “smoosh” the potatoes.

Garnish with edible and colorful flowers.