Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chocolate Delights!

We're off to find the best chocolate we can discover for you. Who is your favorite chocolatier?
Here is one of my most requested recipes that's all chocolate all the time!
Savor. Linger. Enjoy!

Chocolate Angel Food Cake
Angel Food Cake is the ultimate in (almost) guilt free delight. Airy and light it will melt in your mouth. This chocolate version is lovely with a warm, dark, fudgy sauce, or fresh fruit and whipped cream. Cut the cake in half and fill it with custard and top it with chocolate for a boston cream version.
Serves 12-14
14  large egg whites- about 1 1/2 cups- at room temperature
3/4 cup sifted cake flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar- or Bakewell Cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Sift the flour before measuring. If you don't have a sifter, use a wire strainer and a whisk to fluff the flour before measuring. Add about half the sugar to the flour and the cocoa and sift again. Sift the flour, cocoa and half the sugar together once more.
Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl, adding the salt and the cream of tartar to the whites as soon as they become foamy. Continue beating. As soft peaks begin to form, add the remaining sugar and vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form.
Using a flexible spatula, gently fold the flour, cocoa, and sugar mixture into the egg white mixture with an under, over, cut straight down through the mixture and up motions. Be sure to go all the way to the bottom of the bowl with each folding motion.  Mix only until the dry ingredients are combined.
Gently place the batter into a ten-inch tube pan and bake immediately. Bake for 45 minutes or until the cake is done.
When the cake is removed from the oven, immediately invert the tube pan on the counter. If the tube pan does not have legs, invert the pan over a glass wine type bottle-inserted into the center tube. Cool.

Chocolate Whipped Cream
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate bits
3 Tablespoons sugar or to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons chocolate covered cocoa nibs
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or in the microwave for one minute at high heat) Stir gently. Continue heating until smooth and melted. Let the chocolate cool for five minutes. peaks form. Sprinkle the sugar over the cream and whip another minute. The chocolate should be slightly warm and still liquid but not hot.
Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Stir 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate. Very gently, fold the chocolate mixture and the extract into the remaining whipped cream.
Make sure the cake has cooled completely, at least two hours. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan to separate the cake from the sides. Invert the cake onto a plate and remove the pan. Brush any loose crumbs off of the cake. Turn right side up and place on a serving plate.  Use a spatula to spread the chocolate whipped cream evenly over the cake. Place the cake in the freezer for an hour to set the whipped cream. Serve either frozen or chilled.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Recipe Testers Club #107: Heirloom Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Frosting

Heirloom Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Frosting
Using several varieties of heirloom carrots and zucchini adds an extraordinary sweetness to this traditional cake. They are surprisingly hidden- the kids might not even notice they're there. Pastor Chuck's applesauce gives it a special moistness that almost removes the need for frosting- my daughter Elizabeth would disagree. Creeze cheam frosting is good on just about anything.
Serves 24
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Pastor Chuck's applesauce
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup
2 cups grated fresh heirloom carrots in assorted colors
1 cup grated fresh zucchini
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dried currants
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, applesauce, eggs and sugar. Set aside. In a large bowl sift together the cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the grated carrots, zucchini, currants and cherries. Toss the vegetables and fruit in the dry ingredients to coat. Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and veggies. Stir until all are completely combined.
Pour the batter into an ungreased 10 inch bundt pan or three greased 8 inch round cake pans. Set the pans on a cookie sheet and place in the oven.
Bake in the bundt pan for 55 to 60 minutes or the 8 inch round cake pans for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven. Turn the bundt pan upside down to cool. If your bundt pan does not have little legs to keep the top of the cake from touching the counter, carefully balance it upside down on a long necked bottle. Cool. Remove from pan.
When cake is completely cool, cover with coconut cream frosting.

Coconut Cream Frosting
1/2 cup unsalted butter
8 oz cream cheese
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 lb confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
Cream the butter and cream cheese together. Scrape down the bowl often. Slowly incorporate the confectioners sugar. Add the vanilla and heavy cream. Whip the frosting for 4 minutes. If the mixture is too dense, add another Tablespoon of cream. If the mixture is too runny add more confectioners sugar one Tablespoon at a time. When you have the consistency you want, stir in the coconut. Use immediately or chill until you need it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Recipe Tester's Club # 106: Fall Baking- Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Applesauce Quick Breads- The house smells so good!

The air is starting to get chilly- which somehow draws me into the kitchen to bake. The recipes below are each unique and will add wonderful options for your next family dinner or holiday party. Hope you give them a try- Let me know what you changed and how they turned out. I'd love to hear from you!
Savor. Linger. Enjoy. 

Blueberry Pumpkin Bread
The combination of pumpkin and blueberries is delightful. Molasses—a traditional thick, sweet syrup—keeps the bread moist and delicious. Toast a slice and spread with a whisper of fresh butter. It’s a great accompaniment to a cup of soup.
Yield: 2 loaves
4 c King Arthur flour
1 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1⁄2 t nutmeg
1 t salt
3⁄4 c molasses
2⁄3 c sugar
1⁄2 c unsweetened applesauce
1⁄2 c oil
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 c canned pumpkin
1⁄4 c apple cider
11⁄2 c fresh or frozen blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two loaf pans.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
In a separate bowl, combine the molasses, sugar, applesauce, oil, eggs, pumpkin, and cider. Mix well. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Gently fold in the blueberries.
Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centers of the loaves comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool the bread in the pans for about 10 minutes, then turn the loaves out of the pans onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Applesauce Brown Bread
I grew up with this bread—it’s wonderful with any soup containing legumes. This bread is steamed in a mold, or you can use empty metal coffee cans or large soup cans for this task.
Yield: 2 loaves
1 c wheat flour
1 c rye flour
1 c cornmeal
1 t baking soda
1⁄2 t salt
2 c buttermilk
3⁄4 c blackstrap molasses
1⁄2 c unsweetened applesauce
1 c currants
butter for greasing the molds
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously grease two 1-quart pudding molds or 1-pound coffee cans with butter.
Combine the flours, cornmeal, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, molasses, and applesauce. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and combine. Fold in the currants.
Fill the molds or coffee cans two-thirds full with batter. Cover the tops with foil and tie securely with a string to seal. Place the molds or coffee cans in a deep baking pan and fill the pan with boiling water halfway up the side of the mold (there should be at least 2 inches of water in the pan). Place in the preheated oven and allow to steam for 21⁄2 to 3 hours. Check the water level after 1 hour and add more boiling water if needed. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove the string and foil and allow the bread to cool for 15 minutes. Unmold the bread and serve warm.

Maple–Sweet Potato Rolls
Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods. They are yummy and good for you. These golden rolls are wonderful with a smear of blueberry jam or maple butter.
Yield: 3 dozen rolls
11⁄2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 T yeast
1 t Maine maple syrup
11⁄2 c (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 c Maine maple syrup
1⁄4 c oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 t salt
3 c all-purpose flour
3-4 c white whole-wheat flour
4 c digestive biscuit or graham cracker crumbs
Cook the potatoes in a large saucepan of simmering water until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Place the potatoes in a medium bowl and transfer the reserved cooking liquid to a large bowl.
When the cooking liquid has cooled to warm room temperature, sprinkle the yeast and 1 teaspoon of maple syrup over the reserved warm liquid; stir to dissolve. Let the yeast mixture stand until it’s bubbling and foamy, about 5 minutes.
Combine the potatoes, 1⁄2 cup melted butter, 1⁄2 cup maple syrup, oil, eggs, and salt in a food processor. Purée until smooth and add to the yeast mixture. Mix in the white flour. Gradually stir in enough white whole-wheat flour, 1⁄2 cup at a time, to form soft, slightly sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding more white whole-wheat flour if the dough is sticky.
Lightly oil a large bowl. Add the dough, turning it to coat the entire surface with the oil. Cover the bowl with a moist kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease three 9-inch–diameter cake pans. Punch down the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it again until it is smooth. Divide the dough into thirds. Cut each third into 12 pieces and roll each piece into a ball.
Mix the remaining 1 cup of melted butter and 1⁄2 cup of maple syrup. Dip each dough ball into the syrup mixture and then roll in the digestive biscuit or graham cracker crumbs to coat. Place 12 balls in each prepared pan, arranging them closely together. Let stand 15 minutes.
Bake the rolls until they are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve warm.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Good News- Bad News: Recipe Testers Club #105

Good News Bad News: Recipe Testers Club #105: It's raining cats and dogs. It's chilly. Its a perfect day to make warm and bubbly onion soup. The good news is: this recipe makes rich and delicious soup, that's easy and relatively quick to make. The bad news is: since our refrigerator's ice and water connection broke and flooded 2/3 of our house, I can't seem to find my pots and pans to make this wonderful soup! We had to move the base cabinets in our kitchen to replace the maple flooring- Thanks Lee! SO, I had to pack up my kitchen, pots and all, to make the move possible. Since then we've been working out of a tiny tote of kitchen essentials and two pots... neither of which will do for a big pot of soup. I hope you find the time to make this for friends and family- Let me know how it went! I'll live vicariously through you until my kitchen is back together! Yay for Onion Soup!

Maine French Onion Soup with Canadian Bacon
French onion soup is wonderful topped with slivers of Canadian bacon, shredded cheese, and artisinal bread. When you use crusty slices of Borealis Bread and State of Maine Cheese Company’s Saint Croix Black Pepper Jack cheese, you’ve got a doubly delicious combination.
Serves 6
3 T butter
1 T olive oil
6 medium onions, sliced in half then thinly sliced
2 T fresh minced garlic
3 T Maine maple syrup
1 c marsala wine
1⁄2 t freshly ground white pepper
3 c chicken stock
3 c beef broth
1 T chicken bouillon paste or powder
1 T beef bouillon paste or powder
12 slices Canadian bacon, cut into slivers or chopped
8 slices artisanal bread, toasted
1 c grated Gruyère cheese (or more)
1⁄2 c grated Parmesan (or more)
1⁄2 c grated black pepper Jack cheese (or more)

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, garlic, and maple syrup. Cook, stirring often, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the onion is caramel brown.
Deglaze the pan: Add the marsala and scrape up all the tasty brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the pepper, stock, broth, and chicken and beef bouillon. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
Preheat the broiler. Taste and adjust seasonings. Ladle soup into oven-proof bowls. Top each bowl with a layer of Canadian bacon, a slice of toast, and the grated cheeses. Broil until the cheeses melt and bubble.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Soup Beginnings- Recipe Tester's Club #104

The fragrance of bubbling, warm soup can hypnotize the strongest among us to extend a bowl and pull up a chair to the table. These days of hurried meals and convenience foods have caught up to us. It’s time to slow down, to appreciate once again the flavors that can come from our own kitchen in surprisingly little time.
You’ll find ideas and recipes here that allow you to make a quick batch of hearty soup—or prepare a few ingredients in the morning before work, plug in your slow cooker, and come home to a delicious, healthful meal. With very little planning, you can enjoy additive- and preservative-free meals that are full of flavor and tempt even the tiniest tummies.
Find time. Sit back. Savor your food. Linger with your family, and enjoy what you have before you. It’s time for a bowl of your favorite soup.

I grew up in a home where my mom always baked bread, roasted chickens, and made her own stock. Those were the times when it was expected that meals would be homemade. I can remember begging her at the grocery store to buy TV dinners. They were a novelty. How cool it seemed then to have all your food in one handy tray! These days the norm for most families is to purchase convenience foods. They pick up prepackaged potatoes, refrigerator biscuits, and frozen entrées. Why not take a moment to break this cycle?
I’ve learned through my frugal Yankee roots to freeze any leftover goodies that I can use to flavor my soups. My friend Robin is the best I know at organizing her leftovers. By labeling gallon-size ziplock plastic freezer bags, she keeps her onion ends, extra green beans, turkey bones, and squash peelings in the freezer, ready to use. Every day she casually tosses extra bits and pieces into the appropriate bag. When the veggie-peel bag gets full, it’s time to make soup. If she needs to make stock, she simply takes out whichever bags she wants to use. The leftovers go into a pot of water, and her soup is started before she even has to go to her pantry. This is a great way to economize when making soups, because freezing leftovers lets us use up the extra bits that would otherwise get thrown away or composted. Adding mashed potato or winter squash, for example, will thicken the broth and enhance its flavor.
One of my favorite ways to start a soup is by using leftover chicken bones. Whenever we finish a roast chicken or turkey—whether it came from the market’s rotisserie or was roasted in our oven—we freeze the bones with any meat still left on them. At soup making time, I just place them in a pot, cover them with water, and simmer for a couple of hours to extract all the flavorful goodness. I throw in herb stems that I’ve saved, vegetable peelings from the freezer, whole cloves of garlic, and voilà! My soup is well on its way to being full of flavor.
The best soups incorporate layers of flavor. It’s important to have a balance of ingredients so one doesn’t dominate your dish. You want to taste the delicate herbs alongside the hearty meat or creamy cheeses. Sample as you go. It is the best way to keep the flavors balanced.
Soups are often meat based, but vegetables are a wonderful alternative. We have several prepared commercial options to achieve the flavors of chicken, beef, seafood, or vegetables. Powdered bouillon comes in packets, in jars, and pressed into cubes. These are viable options for flavoring soups. Broth also comes in cans or coated paper containers. Bouillon pastes often come in jars, and most should be refrigerated.
Read the labels before you purchase bouillon or broth. Decide for yourself and your family what combination of ingredients will best suit you. Some brands are very high in sodium, although many offer low-salt and fat-free versions, as well. Others contain MSG or starch. Whichever brand you choose, make sure to adjust your recipe to accommodate the amount of salt in the prepackaged bouillon or broth.

Starting from Scratch
Don’t let it scare you: Starting from scratch is an easy way to create your own masterpieces in the kitchen. Soup is best when you bring together the flavors your family loves.
My favorite way to begin a soup is by making stock. Once it has simmered and settled, you’re left with a delicious base from which to build the flavors of your soup.
Many people ask about the difference in flavor between fresh and frozen vegetables. Whenever you have the opportunity to purchase locally grown ingredients from a farmer’s market or your corner market, take it! Fresh veggies are always the best, although frozen vegetables take a close second in flavor. Most often they are frozen at their peak of freshness, so they are ready to become a part of your soup as soon as they’re out of the bag. Frozen vegetables can be added right into your bubbling pot just before you’re ready to serve. They will cook in the last few minutes and be bright and colorful as you dish up your soup.
Herbs and spices are another story. When did you last purchase dried herbs? Do you remember when you bought that can of ground black pepper that is at the back of your spice shelf? If you aren’t sure you bought those herbs and spices within the last six months, out they go. Use fresh herbs whenever possible. Their flavor is brighter and more full-bodied. If you need to use dried herbs, purchase them in small quantities. Buying herbs and spices on the same day you pick up your vegetables will give your recipes an extra zing.

The Veggie Trinity, often referred to as aromatics, is the first thing to go into any soup pot. Each culture has its own name for the combination. In France it is mirepoix. Latino chefs refer to it as sofrito. In Italy it is soffrito. This triad is the base for most soups and sauces and includes celery, carrot or green pepper, and onion. When these ingredients are sautéed and simmered, they combine to emit a luscious flavor and aroma that set our mouths watering.
Creating stock is much more of an art than a science. Knowing the starter ingredients makes the seemingly monumental task of making stock an easy exercise. The following recipes will give you an outline of what to use, but they are only suggestions. The amounts of each aromatic you use aren’t precise. Classically, a mirepoix is a mixture of 50 percent onion, 25 percent carrot, and 25 percent celery that enhances the flavor, aroma, and balance of stocks.
This combination of vegetables adds layers of flavor and depth to a stock. I frequently add garlic, mushrooms, and leeks. There should be approximately one pound of mirepoix or sofrito to one gallon of meat stock. If you’re making vegetable stock, you should use four pounds of mirepoix or sofrito to one gallon of water, or one part vegetables to two parts of water.
Tasting your stock is key. Sample it at different stages, adding herbs and other seasonings and more aromatics, if necessary. Another shortcut I often use is to make up a large batch of mirepoix or sofrito. I divide the portion I need for the recipe I’m creating. I divide the balance of the mirepoix or sofrito into 1⁄2-cup portions in ziplock plastic bags, which I label, date, and freeze for up to six months. Whenever I want to make soup, all I need to do is thaw a bag and I’m off and running. Another option is to pour the cooled mixture into clean ice cube trays and freeze. When the mixture is frozen, remove the cubes from the trays and save them in the freezer in a ziplock plastic freezer bag. I can then use the cubes as needed as a flavoring or base for my soups, sauces, and stews.
Whenever you see onion, carrots or green bell pepper, and celery listed in the recipes that follow, feel free to use an equal quantity of your choice of mirepoix, white mirepoix, sofrito, or soffrito, depending on what flavors you desire.

Traditional Mirepoix
Here is a basic recipe for mirepoix.
Yield: 1quart
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1⁄2 lb onions, chopped
1⁄4 lb carrots, peeled and chopped
1⁄4 lb celery, chopped

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large stockpot. Add the vegetables and sauté over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Remove from the heat and refrigerate or freeze until you’re ready to make your soup.

White Mirepoix
A white stock is made by simmering bones, vegetables, and aromatics in water. The mirepoix for this stock remains almost colorless throughout the cooking process.
Yield: 1 quart
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1⁄4 lb onions, chopped
1⁄4 lb leeks, chopped
1⁄4 lb celery, chopped
1⁄4 lb parsnips, peeled and chopped
1⁄4 lb mushrooms or mushroom trimmings

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large stockpot. Add the vegetables and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add to your meats and stock as your recipe instructs, or refrigerate or freeze to use later.

Sofrito is a traditional base for many Latino and Spanish dishes. This building-block mixture of annatto oil, onion, garlic, peppers, and cilantro adds a wonderful flavor and depth to almost any meal. Annatto oil is available at many grocery stores.
Yield: 1 quart
2 T annatto or olive oil
3 c finely chopped onion
1 c finely chopped green bell peppers
1 c finely chopped red bell peppers
1 jalapeño, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 T tomato paste
1⁄2 c chopped cilantro
1⁄4 t salt
1⁄4 t black pepper
1 lime, juice and zest

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottom skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté 1 minute. Add the bell peppers, jalapeño, garlic, and tomato paste. Cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
Use in your favorite soup or sauce, or freeze for later use.

In Italian, soffrito means under- or lightly fried. Dozens of Italian dishes use soffrito as a base or flavoring, especially for soups, stews, and sauces.
Yield: 2 quarts
1⁄4 c olive oil
6 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 c chopped parsley
3 T chopped basil
1 c fresh or dried-and-reconstituted porcini mushrooms
2 c peeled and crushed tomatoes or 1 2-lb can, with liquid
1⁄4 t nutmeg
1 t salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

If you are using dried mushrooms, soak them in 2 cups of warm water for approximately 30 minutes. Reserve the soaking liquid.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook until the onion is soft. Add the parsley and basil, and cook until the parsley loses its intense green color. Add the mushrooms to the pan; if you are using dried mushrooms, strain the mushroom soaking water and add 1⁄4 cup of the liquid to the pan. Add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper and simmer over low heat until the liquid reduces by 25% about thirty minutes. Use immediately or freeze.

The liquid in many soups comes from water that has been seasoned with the essence of meats, seafood, or vegetables. Here are some suggestions for making your own stock. I use the words stock and broth interchangeably in the recipes that follow, although broth is usually from a can and stock refers to the homemade variety. Add the vegetables that you prefer to create a soup your family will love. If you’d like to use mirepoix, substitute it for the same quantity of vegetables in the recipe. Stock can be refrigerated for up to four days or stored in the freezer for up to six months.

Chicken or Turkey Stock
Yield: 3 quarts
4 lb chicken or turkey bones, cut into pieces
chicken or turkey giblets and neck, chopped
13 c cold water
1 medium onion
2 leeks, halved lengthwise and rinsed
2 carrots
2 stalks celery, halved
2 t salt
6 sprigs parsley
6 sprigs fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves

In a kettle, combine the chicken or turkey bones, giblets, neck, and 12 cups of cold water. Bring the water to a boil. Skim the frothy foam from the top and discard.
Add another cup of cold water and bring to a boil again. Skim the foam from the top again and discard.
Add the onion, leeks, carrots, celery, salt, parsley, thyme, garlic, and bay leaves. Lower the heat and simmer the stock for 2 hours, continuing to skim and discard the foam as it forms.
Remove the chicken or turkey from the kettle. Let cool for 10 minutes or until it’s cool enough to handle. Remove the meat and skin from the bones, and reserve the meat for later use.
Break apart the bones and return them with the skin to the kettle. Simmer the stock for 2 more hours, adding boiling water if necessary to keep the bones covered.
Strain the stock through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on the solids, and let it cool. Discard the solids and chill the stock. When the stock has cooled, remove the congealed fat on top with a slotted spoon.

Chicken Stock—Double-Day Doozie
This slow-cooked chicken stock has outstanding flavor. It’s worth the extra day to prepare.
Yield: 3 quarts
Day One:
5 lb fresh chicken bones (necks, backs, wings)
5 qt cold water
21⁄2 inches gingerroot, cut into 1⁄2-inch chunks
2 baby Vidalia onions or 2 bunches of scallions, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 c chopped celery
2 c chopped carrots
4 cloves garlic
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
10 white peppercorns
10 red or pink peppercorns

Day Two:
3 qt chicken stock, from Day One
2 qt cold water
5 lb fresh chicken bones (necks, backs, wings)
21⁄2 inches gingerroot, cut into 1⁄2-in chunks
2 baby Vidalia onions or 2 bunches of scallions, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 c chopped celery
2 c chopped carrots
4 cloves garlic
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
10 white peppercorns
10 red or pink peppercorns

Day One:
Rinse the chicken bones under cold running water. Place bones in a heavy 10-quart stockpot. Add the cold water and set the pot over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until there is a thick foam on the surface. Skim off and discard the foam.
Add the remaining ingredients for Day One and simmer on low for 4 hours, or until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain the finished stock through several layers of cheesecloth and discard the solids. Chill overnight.

Day Two:
Skim off the congealed fat from Day One’s stock with a slotted spoon. Repeat the process from Day One, starting with Day One’s stock and using the ingredients for Day Two.

Brown Chicken Stock
Winterport Winery Dry Pear works well in this recipe (see appendix).
Yield: 2 quarts
5 lb chicken bones
10 c water, or enough to cover the chicken by 2 inches
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 bay leaf
10 peppercorns
1 bunch parsley stems
1 c dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 450º F. Rinse the bones in cold water. Place the rinsed bones in a roasting pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until well browned all over.
Transfer the roasted bones to a stockpot. Cover with water and simmer for 30 minutes. Skim the foam off the top of the liquid carefully and discard.
While you are simmering the bones, place the vegetables in the same roasting pan used for the bones and roast them until they brown. Add the vegetables to the stockpot.
Place the hot roasting pan over medium heat on the stove top and pour in the wine.
Stir and scrape up all the browned bits stuck to the bottom and sides of the pan and pour everything into the stockpot. Add the bay leaf, peppercorns, and parsley. Continue to simmer on low, uncovered, for 4 hours.
Strain the stock through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on the solids, and let the stock cool. Discard the solids and chill the stock. When the stock has cooled, scrape off the congealed fat with a slotted spoon.
Note: If you want to clarify the stock, whisk 4 egg whites in a bowl and add them to the stock in your stockpot. Stir the stock gently and constantly to prevent the whites from sticking to the bottom and sides of the pot. Bring the stock to a boil. The egg whites will rise to the top. Once they have risen, stop stirring. The whites will solidify on the top of the liquid, forming a soft crust. Any impurities and fats will cling to the egg whites. Carefully skim the egg whites off the top and discard. The stock below will be transparent.

White Veal Stock
This stock is an elegant beginning for beef stew, soups, and gravies.
Yield: 4 qts
4 lb veal bones
4 qt cold water
2 c chopped carrots
1 c chopped white onion
1 c chopped celery
2 leeks, washed well and chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 small bunch parsley
4 sprigs fresh thyme

Place the bones in a large stockpot and cover with the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer. Skim the fat and foam from the surface and discard them. Add the remaining ingredients. Partially cover the pot and allow the mixture to simmer for 3 hours. Add water if necessary during the cooking process to keep the bones covered. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and discard the solids. Cool and refrigerate.

Lobster or Shrimp Stock
In the true Maine tradition, we would save and refrigerate all the lobster shells and bodies after a lobster feed. The next day, we’d place them all in a pot and make a delicious stock out of them. The lobster bodies themselves are enough to capture the essence of lobster flavor for a bisque or stew.
Yield: 2 quarts
5 lb Maine lobster shells and/or bodies or Maine shrimp heads and shells
10 c water
1 c coarsely chopped carrots
1 c coarsely chopped celery
1 c peeled and coarsely chopped leeks
2 bay leaves
5 sprigs parsley
10 peppercorns
1 c dry white wine—Winterport Dry Pear is excellent

Place all the ingredients in a large, heavy stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
Remove the stock from the heat; strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids.
Return the liquid to the stove top and simmer over moderate heat until it is reduced to about 2 quarts.

Fish Stock
Yield: 4 qt
6 lb fish bones, heads, fins, or fillets
2 T olive oil
1 c chopped onion
1 c sliced leek, white part only
1 c chopped celery
1 c chopped carrot
1 c chopped cremini mushrooms
2 c white wine (optional)
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs sage
3 sprigs thyme
3 sprigs parsley
1 t freshly ground white pepper
4 qt cold water

Rinse the fish parts well under cold running water for at least 5 minutes to remove any impurities. If you are using the heads, remove the eyes. Drain the fish parts and let them sit in a colander while you prepare the vegetables.
Place the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the vegetables, and cook on low heat for 6 minutes. Do not brown. Add the fish parts and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the white wine, if desired, and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the herbs, pepper, and the cold water. Be sure that the ingredients are completely covered by the liquid; add more water, if necessary. Increase the heat to medium and bring the stock almost to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Skim the surface every 10 minutes or so to remove any foam and impurities.
Turn the heat off, and let the stock stand another 30 minutes.
Skim once more. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids. Cool, and refrigerate overnight.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the fat layer on top and discard. Use a paper towel to absorb any remaining fat.
Use fish stock in chowders, paellas, or seafood bisques, as desired.

V10 Vegetables
Veggies are the champions of our culinary world. They make every savory soup taste better. My Top Ten Vegetables for soups and stews are as follows:
1. Onion
2. Carrot
3. Celery
4. Leeks
5. Potato or Sweet Potato
6. Squash
7. Beans
8. Mushrooms
9. Peas or Carrots
10. Parsnip or Turnip

Slow-Cooker Vegetable Stock
When creating a flavorful veggie stock, I’ve found it best to use at least one part vegetables to two parts liquid. That means if you are using 12 cups of water, you need a good 6 cups of vegetables to flavor the liquid. This recipe uses an even richer one-to-one ratio for maximum flavor in a slow cooker.
Yield: 6 cups
2 c chopped onion
1 c chopped carrots
1 c chopped celery
1 c chopped parsnip
1 c chopped button mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, sliced in half
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
6 c cold water
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook over low heat for 6 to 8 hours. Strain and discard the solids.

Vegan “Chicken” Stock
Here is another tasty adaptation for vegetarians.
Yield: 1 quart
1 c chopped carrots
1 c chopped celery
1 c chopped shiitake mushrooms
4 c water
2 bay leaves
1⁄2 t celery seeds
1 t rubbed sage
1⁄2 t salt
3 sprigs parsley
3 T nutritional yeast

Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve. Pick out the vegetables from the herbs and save them to soup or casseroles, as they have not been cooked to death. Discard the herbs.
The yeast tends to settle out of this stock, so if you want a thick stock, you may wish to add a teaspoon of cornstarch dissolved in a little cold water.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Recipe Testers Club #103: Salad Dressing Primer

Making your own salad dressing is one way to save money and create exactly what you want. Here are a few examples of flavor combinations and easy methods that will make your salads extraordinary! Scroll to the bottom for Spicy Pecans to top your favorite salad.
Classic Vinaigrette
Makes 1⁄2c- enough to dress a salad for four to six servings
1 T red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 to 2 t Dijon mustard
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
1 T parsley, finely chopped
1 medium shallot (or scallion), minced
2 T olive oil
2 T canola oil
(or 4 T olive oil, or 4 T heavy cream)
1 T maple syrup
1 t finely chopped tarragon or fresh herb of your choice (optional)
2 garlic cloves (optional)
Food processor method:
Chop the shallots or scallions roughly. Do not mince the parsley or tarragon. Place all ingredients in the blender and pulse 5 to 6 times until blended.

Traditional method:
Pour the vinegar into a shallow soup plate and add the mustard, salt, pepper, parsley, and shallot (as well as tarragon, if using). Mix well with a fork.
Add the oil all at once. Keeping the tines of the fork flat against the bottom of the dish, mix well using a circular motion to emulsify the dressing.

Garlic Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves: 8-10
2 T Dijon mustard
4 T white wine vinegar
1 T packed brown sugar (light or dark) or honey or pure maple syrup
1⁄4 c olive oil
1 T chopped chives
1 t Cholula pepper sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
fresh ground pepper
In a medium bowl whisk together the mustard, vinegar, and sugar or sweetener. Add the olive oil in a slow, thin stream whisking all the time.
Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir in the chives, pepper sauce and garlic. Taste, and add salt and pepper to taste.
For a real treat, drizzle some on roasted asparagus. The dressing may be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Warm Port Vinaigrette
Serving: 3 cups
3 shallots, minced
21⁄2 c extra virgin olive oil
1⁄2 c port
1⁄4 c balsamic vinegar
21⁄2 T honey
2 T fresh lemon juice
fresh ground pepper
 Place the shallots in a skillet, pour the oil over them, and heat over medium-high heat until it starts to sizzle. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes; remove from heat.Whisk port, vinegar, honey, and lemon juice together. Whisk in the hot shallot and oil mixture, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
This is an excellent dressing for a salad of greens and sliced pears, sprinkled with Roquefort. It may be used immediately, or stored for later use, covered in the refrigerator. It is best used within a week. When ready to serve, heat the desired amount until it comes to a simmer, and then pour over the salad.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Creamy and flavorful, the dry ingredients in the mixture can be combined and stored for later use.
8 low sodium, saltine type crackers
1 c dried parsley
¼ c dried onion flakes
1 T dried dill
2 T onion salt
2 T garlic granules
2 T onion powder
2 T garlic powder
2 t ground black pepper
(to make dressing you’ll need 1 c mayo and 1 c buttermilk also)
In a food processor puree crackers to a fine powder. Add the parsley, onion and dill. Pulse to almost dust. Pour into a bowl and add the remaining dry ingredients. Mix well. This recipe is easily multiplied and keeps well for up to 1 year in an airtight container.
To make dressing Add 2 heaping T's to 1 cup buttermilk and 1 cup mayo. Mix well and serve.

Cajun Spiced Pecans
Great for topping a soup or serving on a salad.
1 lb pecan halves
1/4 c melted butter
1 T chili powder
1 t salt
1 t dried basil
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried thyme
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 to 1/2 t ground cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in a shallow baking dish. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Stir and reduce heat to 250 degrees. Cook, stirring every 15 minutes for one hour. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Recipe Testers Club #102: Double Squash Pie

Double Squash Pie
This recipe is great for harvest time. Its easy to tweak and great with what vegetables you have on hand. It is such fun to see how we alter a recipe to our own family’s taste, improving on an already great dish. Here’s the version of this pie that we’ve come to love. Try it with your favorite veggies, herbs, cheeses and mustards. Let me know what you’ve changed!
Serves 6-8
1⁄2 c butter
2-3 c zucchini, shredded
1-2 c summer squash, shredded
1 c carrots, shredded
1 c onion, grated
1⁄2 c fresh parsley, chopped
1 t salt
1 t fresh ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T fresh basil, chopped (or 2 t dried)
1 T fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 t dried)
1 box frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 T Raye’s Dundicott Hot Mustard or your favorite spicy mustard
6 eggs, well beaten
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz shredded Parmesan cheese

In a medium-size sauté pan, melt the butter. Add the zucchini, summer squash, carrots, and onion. Cook 10 minutes on medium heat.
Stir in the parsley, salt, pepper, garlic, basil, and oregano. Stir and let cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Open the package of puff pastry. Unfold one sheet and press seams together. Place the sheet of puff pastry in a deep 10-inch pie plate. Trim the corners and add dough to any place that needs to be filled in. Crimp or press the edges to secure.
Spread the crust with the 2 T of mustard; this is very important! Place crust in a preheated 375°F oven for 5 minutes; then remove. While warm sprinkle a layer of cheese.
Add the remaining cheeses to the egg mixture and blend well. Pour the beaten eggs and cheese over the top of the vegetables in the pan. Stir well for 20 seconds. Immediately pour all ingredients into the warm crust.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until it is set in the middle and golden on top.
Serve warm with a tossed salad to accompany.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Recipe Testers Club #101- Whoopie Pies

Whoopie! Its time to get back in the kitchen! 
I thought I'd share two recipes today. One for traditional Maine whoopie pies; another for a pumpkin version that is filled with a creamy, spiced, maple confection. Both versions can be made as tiny or gigantic sandwich cakes OR bake the batter in a cake pan and frost with the filling for an Inside-Out Whoopie Pie. Either way they are Oh So Delicious. 
These are great for birthdays- an alternative to cupcakes for school. The "cake" part can be baked and frozen. Layer plastic wrap or parchment between them. Make up a fresh batch of filling, sandwich them together and you've got an instant dessert! 
A Big thank You to Joe Corrado for this photo from my book Delicious Maine Desserts!
Savor. Linger. Enjoy!

Feel free to share these recipes with anyone you think might enjoy them! Pass it on...
You're welcome to repost with attribution: 
Cynthia at Fresh to Flavorful dot com. Thank you!

Whoopie Pies
Woopie Pies are a Maine tradition. They are a combination of fluffy frosting sandwiched between two cake-like cookies. The originals were chocolate on the outside and vanilla on the inside. Most folks agree that the cakey cookie should be moist, yet sturdy enough to hold on to. The filling however is subject to much controversy. There are many secret recipes for creating the luscious, creamy, fluffy white stuff that acts as cookie glue. Some like the kind made with marshmallow fluff, some a buttery frosting and others a tooth-achingly sweet shortening confection. Recipes have sprung up over the years to satisfy the palates of gourmets and gourmands alike. Here are a few suggestions for my favorite versions of insides and outsides. Use your imagination to create the combinations your family will love.
Traditional Chocolate Whoopie Pies
For the cakey-cookie part:
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
3 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups cocoa
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup hot water
Preheat oven to 350. In the bowl of an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and yolks one at a time and beat until combined. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. 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 or a tablespoon, to drop the batter 2” apart on a parchment/silicone sheet lined or greased baking sheet. My favorite scoop size for whoopee pies is 2 oz. That's about 3 heaping Tablespoons of batter. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until tops are springy. Remove from the pan on the sheets of parchment to a rack. Cool completely.

Vanilla Cream Filling
12 Tbsp. Unsalted butter
2 1/2 c. confectioners sugar-sifted
Pinch salt
4 tsp. pure vanilla
2 egg 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 and mix until combined.
Add the egg whites one at a time, beating thoroughly after each one. The filling will seem to break but just keep going and whisk away. It will come right back together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue beating until very light and fluffy- as long as 5 minutes.
Take one chocolate piece. Using the same size ice cream scoop that you used to make the cookies, place a heaping scoop of filling on one 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.
Another version would bring the peanut butter-chocolate combo together:
Peanut Butter Filling
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
Place all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat together until creamy. Scrape down the bowl. Beat the filling for 4 minutes on high until the mixture is fluffy and light. This filling also makes incredible pie filling along with a chocolate mousse layer- recipe will follow.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Spice Filling
1 cup sugar
1 cup maple sugar
1 cup melted butter
3 eggs
2 cups cooked pureed pumpkin
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Stir together sugars, butter and eggs. Add pumpkin. In a separate bowl, sift together the remaining ingredients. Add to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl well and stir again to be sure the ingredients are evenly distributed. Use an ice-cream scoop if you have one handy, to drop the batter 2” apart on a parchment/silicone sheet lined or greased baking sheet. My favorite scoop size for whoopee pies is 2 oz. That's about 3 heaping Tablespoons of batter. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until tops are springy and light brown. Remove from the pan on the sheets of parchment to a rack. Cool completely. These cakes are very moist.

Maple Spice Filling
My husband loved this filling so much that we used it on the chocolate whoopie pies as well. Yum!
12 Tbsp. Butter
2 1/2c. Confectioners sugar-sifted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch salt
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 egg whites
2 tsp. Fresh lemon juice
In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter with the confectioners sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, maple syrup and lemon juice and mix until combined. Add the egg whites one at a time, beating thoroughly after each one. The filling will seem to break but just keep going and whisk away. It will come right back together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue beating until very light and fluffy- as long as 5 minutes.
Assemble the same as Chocolate Whoopie Pies