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.