Friday, October 24, 2014

Boston Cuisine Part 2

Boston North End Fish Market

You do not need to fly to Boston for swordfish. Grab some swordfish next time you're in the grocery store. The high omega-3 fat content makes it a heart-healthy option.
Swordfish is made for the grill. It is always sold as steaks, and the meat is so firm and, well, meaty, that many non-fish eaters will gladly eat sword. This texture also helps prevent the steaks from falling apart on the grill, a huge plus. But swordfish steaks can be baked in the oven as in the following recipe.

Rinsing the steaks under cool, running water removes juices from the swordfish that makes the meat taste slightly fishier. A marinade will tenderize the swordfish meat and infuse it with flavor. Fresh lemon or orange juice makes an ideal base for a marinade. For added flavor, minced garlic, grated ginger, fresh rosemary, tarragon and ground black pepper work well. Swordfish needs to be refrigerated while submerged in the marinade, but not for more than two hours.
I picked this recipe to try so I could use a bit of the Vermont maple syrup I recently bought.
Maple-Balsamic Glazed Swordfish Steaks
Marinating can take 30 minutes minimum or up to 2 hours maximum.
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 (6 to 8 oz.) each swordfish steaks, each about 1 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoon olive oil or Blood orange Olive Oil
  • 1 TB. parsley
  • 2 lemon slices
  • juice from one half lemon
1. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, syrup, and soy sauce. Simmer over low heat until mixture is slightly syrupy and reduced by one-third, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes. If marinade gets too thick reheat.

2. Place swordfish steaks in a resealable plastic bag. Pour the cooled balsamic-maple mixture into the bag, turn to coat fish, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 4oo degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with vegetable cooking spray.
5. Remove swordfish from marinade, reserving marinade in a small saucepan.Place steaks on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle generously on both sides with pepper. Brush both sides with olive oil, sprinkle with parsley and juice from lemon. Place lemon slices on top of the swordfish steaks.
6. Bake the swordfish for 20 minutes or until just cooked through (fish should flake easily with a fork).
7. While fish cooks, heat saucepan with marinade over high heat and bring to a boil. Then lower heat and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes.
8. Drizzle the simmered reserved marinade over the fish. Serve immediately..
Recipe adapted from Fresh Magazine March, April 2010

Many communities have cakes whose recipes are passed around and around. The confections in New England typically contain blueberries or apples. Of all the beautiful fruits and vegetables grown in this region during the short farming season, nothing says New England fall better than a local apple. And while everyone can agree on the pleasure of biting into a crisp, freshly picked fruit, the consensus stops there. Some like them sweet, others tart, some prefer only whole fruits, others head to the kitchen for simple, comforting savory dishes and confections. 
Try this Apple Crumb Cake. The recipe comes from food editor, Jean Kressy at Boston Globe
Apple Crumb Cake
makes one 9-inch cake
Ingredients Crumbs:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
Directions Crumbs:
  • In a bowl, combine the flour, granulated and brown sugars, and butter.
  • With your fingers or 2 blunt knives, cut the butter into the mixture until it resembles crumbs. Add the walnuts and toss well.
Ingredients Apples:
  • 2 large baking apples, cored, peeled, and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice 
Directions Apples:
  • In a bowl, combine the apples, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, and apple pie spice. nutmeg.
Ingredients Cake:
  • 1- 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Confectioners’ sugar (for sprinkling)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Sprinkle the pan with flour and tap out the excess.
  • In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to blend them.
  • Beat the butter and granulated sugar until well blended on medium speed. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
  • With the mixer set on its lowest speed, blend in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Spread about 2/3 of the batter in the pan. Arrange the apple mixture on top. Drop the remaining batter over the apples and spread with a spatula. Some fruit will not be covered; that’s OK. Sprinkle the crumbs on top.
  • Bake the cake for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into wedges. 
This past week has been a very brief overview of some culinary delights that can be found in the New England region.  Perhaps you found a recipe or two to try that captures the flavors of fall.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

New England Cuisine and Boston Part One

Cuisine in Boston is similar to the rest of New England cuisine, in that it has a large emphasis on seafood and dairy products. Its best-known dishes are New England clam chowder, fish and chips, lobster, steamed and fried clams, Parker House rolls,
Boston Cream pie 
Boston cream doughnuts,Boston Brown Bread,cranberries, pizza, Boston Baked Beans and corn muffins.
Boston has many restaurants, including those serving various ethnic cuisines. The Union Oyster House is the oldest operating restaurant in the United States. Quincy Market part of Faneuil Hall Marketplace has a variety of restaurants and food shops. See photo below.
Nearby Cheers is a popular dining spot where 'everybody knows your name'. 
Boston's Chinatown has a variety of Asian restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores and Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean and Thai restaurants in the neighborhood.
The North End has a variety of Italian restaurants, pizzerias, and bakeries and is well known as Boston's "Little Italy."
Boston has a tradition of holding a weekly open-air Farmers market known locally as Haymarket. 
Haymarket caters mainly to selling fresh fruit and vegetable produce, though meats can also be purchased in local establishments. In addition to so-called "winter farmers markets", other more seasonal farmer's markets are held in locations around Boston and its suburbs. Boston has over 27 open air farmers markets and a handful of active winter markets.
Hard apple cider was the most popular drink in Colonial America, as it was typically safer to drink than water.  Three top brands recommended are Angry Orchard, Strongbow and Woodchuck. Since it is alcoholic hard cider is found at liquor stores. Hard apple cider has refreshing complexity with its strong apple sweetness and a crisp clean flavor. It is perfect for glazing root vegetables.   
Non-alcoholic sparkling or regular cider can be substituted for hard apple cider but reduce the sugar to 1 tablespoon in the following recipe. 
Cider-Glazed Root Vegetables

Cook's notes: Why this recipe works...
For a seasonal vegetable recipe that produces vegetables with a lightly sweetened glaze, cut the carrots slightly smaller than the other vegetables for even cooking. By  caramelizing the vegetables in butter and deglazing with hard cider, a glaze is created that tastes bright and flavorful. A final addition of diced Granny Smith apple and minced tarragon completed the dish. Other suggested root vegetables that work well for this recipe include: sweet potatoes, fingerling potatoes, celery root and beets.
recipe from Cook's Country October/November 2014
  • 4 TB butter
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 12 oz. parsnips, peeled and cut 3/4-inch pieces
  • 12 oz. turnips, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 3 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-1/2 cups hard cider
  • 3 TB. sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces,unpeeled
  • 2 TB fresh tarragon, thyme or rosemary
  • 2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots, parsnips, turnips, and shallots and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add cider, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and remaining 3 tablespoons butter and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until vegetables are just tender, 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Uncover, increase heat to medium, and cook until vegetables are fully tender, about 13 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in apple and continue to cook until cider is syrupy and apple is just tender, about 2 minutes longer. Off heat, stir in tarragon and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving dish and pour any remaining glaze over vegetables. 

Boston Baked Beans
Although traditionally cooked in an oven, Boston baked beans lend themselves perfectly to slow cookers.
Baked beans is a dish containing beans, sometimes baked but, despite the name, usually stewed, in a sauce. American Boston baked beans use a sauce prepared with molasses and salt pork, the popularity of which has led to the city being nicknamed "Beantown".  Beans in a tomato and brown sugar, sugar or corn syrup sauce are a widely available type throughout the US. Canada's Quebec's style beans often use maple syrup.
  • 1 lb. dried navy beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 lb. dried small red beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 3 c. water
  • 6 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 c. celery, finely diced
  • 1 c. onion, finely diced
  • 1 c. ketchup
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp. molasses
  • 4 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 2 TB. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • In a large bowl, combine beans and 4 qt water (you can do two bowls, with 2 qt. of water in each). Add the salt and soak at least 8 hours or overnight. 
  • Drain well and pour into slow cooker. Add 3 c. water. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or until beans are tender. 
  • In a medium sauté pan cook bacon until just about crispy. Dry on paper towel. Drain most of the grease, reserving about a tablespoon.. 
  • Add celery and onion and cook until translucent. Add bacon, celery and onion to the slow cooker. 
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, Worcestershire, and honey. Mix well and add seasonings and vinegar. 
  • Pour into the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cook an additional 30 minutes to heat throughout.
  • Serve with cornbread.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Vermont Cuisine

"Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons."
by Jim Bishop (1907-1987)
journalist and author

Vermont has a long history of small, independent farms. From century to century, this land of steep hills and rocky soils has had to reinvent itself economically, using a limited range of resources. Farming has become an important contributor to Vermont's economy. Dairy farming and dairy products are the chief agricultural activity. Cheese makers produce an impressive variety of specialty cheeses that rank among the nation's finest. Likewise, Vermont is famous for producing maple syrup and maple sugar. It is the largest producer of maple syrup in the U.S. Potatoes are the leading vegetable while apples are the leading fruit. 
Baking and stewing are two methods used extensively in food preparation. 

With that being said 'maple' seemed to be the buzz word. This ingredient is found in a variety of dishes on every menu. It even rivaled in numbers the amount of lobster items found on Maine's menus. I learned early on in the trip  Maple Walnut Ice Cream was the sweet treat to be had. 

Did you know Ben and Jerry's, an American ice cream company that manufactures ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet and ice cream novelty products is headquartered in Burlington,Vermont, with the main factory in Waterbury, Vermont? It is best known as a premium ice cream brand, founded in 1978 in Burlington, Vermont by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. 
Ben and Jerry's iconic Cherry Garcia flavor has been unseated as the company's most popular U.S. ice cream flavor for the first time in a decade by Half Baked, according to a statement by the company. Cherry Garcia, named for Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia, was introduced in 1987 and has been the most popular flavor for more than a decade. Flavored with cherries and chocolate flakes, it is one of the brand's simpler flavor combinations.

By contrast, Half Baked is a combination of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Chocolate Fudge Brownie, two of the seller's most popular - and ingredient-laden - flavors.

Apple Pie and Maple Nut Ice Cream
  • 5 large tart apples such as Granny Smith, peeled and chopped into chunks.
  • 3 TB. flour
  • 2 TB. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. apple pie spice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. butter
  • refrigerated pie crusts or prepare your own pie crust dough
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, cinnamon and apple pie spice.
  • Roll out one crust on a floured wax paper sheet and line the bottom of a pie pan with the dough. 
  • Place apple mixture in pie pan and top with butter. 
  • Add a top crust and crimp edges. 
  • Using a pastry brush lightly brush top of the crust with milk.
  • Mix a little cinnamon with sugar and sprinkle on top of the crust. 
  • With a sharp knife cut 4 vents into the dough top.   
  • Usually at this point I would add foil strips around edges of pie pan to prevent over browning but this time I used a new kitchen tool I received as a gift. It is a metal piece called a pie crust shield that fits over the pie to prevent over browning. The shield is removed the last 10 minutes of cooking time.  
  • Bake pie at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 400 degrees for 35 minutes or until juices are bubbling inside the open vents.  

Spinach Salad with Apple and Maple Vinaigrette
recipe adapted from Byerly and Lund's Cookbook
Maple-Cider Vinaigrette Ingredients:
  • 3 TB. cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. apple pie spice 
  • 1/8 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
Salad Ingredients:
  • 1 small package fresh baby spinach or mixed greens
  • 2 Gala or Honey Crisp apples, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 1 prepared package glazed pecans
  • 1 (4-oz.) package crumbled goat cheese or Feta
Vinaigrette: Whisk together cider vinegar and next 5 ingredients. Gradually whisk in oil until well blended.
Salad: Combine spinach and next 3 ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle with desired amount of Maple-Cider Vinaigrette; toss to coat. Sprinkle with pecans and goat cheese. Serve salad with any remaining vinaigrette.
Vinaigrette may be made up to 3 days ahead. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Pork Chop with Maple and Pear Sauce 
Cook's notes:Maple syrup and pears make an elegant side dish to the skillet-cooked chops in this 20-minute dinner. Recipe adapted from Midwest Living.
  • 4 boneless pork loin chops, cut 3/4 inch thick (about 1 pound)
  • 1/2 tsp.sea salt or salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 TB. olive oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil
  • 2 TB. butter 
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup or maple-flavored syrup
  • 3 tablespoons peach or apricot preserves 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 1-1/2 tsp. snipped fresh basil
  • 3 medium pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • Hot cooked couscous
  • Trim fat from pork. Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper. In a 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook chops 8 to 12 minutes or till chops are done (160 degrees) and juices run clear, turning once. 
  • Remove chops from skillet; cover to keep warm and set aside.
  • For sauce: In same skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in maple syrup, peach preserves and basil. Add pears. Cook, covered, about 3 minutes or just till the pears are tender and heated through, occasionally spooning sauce over pears. 
  • Place couscous in a mound in the center of 4 dinner plates. Top with a chop and spoon sauce over pork. Serves 4 servings.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New Hampshire Cuisine

Covered Bridge Jackson, NH

New England cuisine is an American cuisine which originated in the northeastern region of the United States. It is characterized by extensive use of seafood and dairy products, which results from its historical reliance on its seaports and fishing industry, as well as extensive dairy farming in inland regions.

From shores for fish and lobster to sugar bush for maple syrup and meadows for grazing dairy animals, New Hampshire has an impressive range of local foodstuffs for a small state.

Vermont's syrup may be more famous, but New Hampshire is justly proud of its maple syrup production and locally pressed apple cider. Maple Orange Roasted Chicken Breasts,  yankee bean pot chili, baked beans, squash and apple casserole, maple milkshake, apple crisp, and even "New England" clam chowder are few of the regions's favorites. The state drink is apple cider. 

Maple Orange Roasted Chicken-serves 6

  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 TB. balsamic vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp.Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt, divided
  • 3/4 tsp.pepper, divided
  • 1 TB. minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tsp. grated orange peel
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
  • In a small saucepan, combine the orange juice, syrup, vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. 
  • Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes. Stir in basil and orange peel. Remove from the heat; set aside.
  • Sprinkle chicken with remaining salt and pepper. Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 165°, basting frequently with orange juice mixture. 
Crab Cakes
Cook's notes: The most important thing to remember when you're making crab cakes is to try to use fresh good quality lump crabmeat. Check out Whole Foods if there is one in your area. Canned crabmeat can be substituted. 
Another key to great crab cakes is to go light on the filler. 
recipe from onceuponachef
For the Crab Cakes

  • 1 large egg
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's or Duke's
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup each finely diced celery and green or red pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced onions
  • 2 TB. finely chopped fresh parsley or 1 TB. dried parsley
  • 1 pound lump crab meat 
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • Vegetable or canola oil, for cooking

  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Combine the egg, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, Old Bay, salt, celery, peppers, onions and parsley in a large bowl and mix well. Add the crab meat (be sure to check the meat for any hard and sharp cartilage) and panko; gently fold mixture together until just combined, being careful not to shred the crab meat. Shape into 6 crab cakes (about ½ cup each) and place on prepared baking sheet. 
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat a large nonstick pan to medium heat and coat with canola oil. When oil is hot, place crab cakes in pan and cook until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. Serve immediately with tartar sauce or a squeeze of lemon.
Edward Estlin Cummings known as E.E. Cummings was an American poet, painter, essayist, author, playwright from New Hampshire. He wrote poetry in an unconventional style. 
From The Heart
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Monday, October 20, 2014


Blueberries for Sal is a children's picture book by Robert McCloskey. It was awarded the Caldecott Honor in 1949.

It is the story of a little girl Sal and her mother as they go out into the country to pick blueberries for winter, and a bear and his mother as they go to eat berries for winter from the other side of the same hill. Set in a small town in Maine this picture book piece uses a single dark blue color and block printing for the illustrations.
Sal and Sal's mother are modeled after McCloskey's wife, Peggy, and daughter, Sally.

One Morning in Maine is a picture book by Robert McCloskey set in Brooksville, Maine. It was awarded the Caldecott Honor in 1953.

The book gives a small slice of everyday life in Maine, where McCloskey and his family moved following World War II. Sal (also the heroine of McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal) finds she has a loose tooth and worries that she won't be able to go sailing with her father. She goes digging for clams and the tooth falls out. Eventually she gets an ice cream and her day turns out fine.

Robert McCloskey found inspiration for his writing right in his home state of Maine. While touring the New England region I found these classic children's books prominently placed in store windows and inside on shelves. I noted a sense of pride that the author was from their home state, Maine. Robert McCloskey also wrote Make Way for Ducklings. The setting for that book is Boston Public Gardens.

Our tour missed the key season for harvesting in Downeast Maine which occurred in August. I have been told that driving through the Wild Blueberry barrens, the thousands of acres of wild blueberries make for a beautiful landscape scene. The majority of the harvest is frozen within 24 hours for our enjoyment year round but nothing like plucking one straight from the bush. A wish for another time.  
July is blueberry month but these berries can be enjoyed all year round. They are delicious, versatile and healthy.

Blueberry Pie
Crust: Make your own crust or use prepared refrigerated crusts.
6 cups fresh blueberries, 2 tsp. lemon zest and 2 tsp. juice from one lemon, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 2 TB. tapioca, 1 tsp. butter
  • Preheat oven to 400 and adjust oven rack to lowest setting.
  • In saucepan place 3 cups blueberries and mash with a potato masher, cook stirring frequently till thickened, and mixture reduced to 1-1/2 cup about 7 minutes-cool slightly.
  • Add to cooked blueberry mixture the remaining blueberries, lemon zest, cinnamon, lemon juice, sugar, tapioca and pinch of salt.
  • Pour blueberry filling into bottom pie crust. Top with 1 tsp. of butter.
  • Place a top crust over filling, crimp strips of foil around edges of dough to prevent over browning.
  • Mix a little sugar and cinnamon together. Moisten crust with a little milk using a pastry brush and sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture over pie crust top. Make 4 large slits in pie for vents.
  • Bake 30 minutes @ 400 then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake about 10-15 minutes more or until juices bubble and crust is brown. Let pie set several hours before cutting.
Serve sauce over ice cream, cakes or pancakes 
Blueberry-Lemon Sauce: 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch 
  • 1 cup blueberries 
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
  • 1-1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice 
  • optional 1 tsp. Grand Marnier
  • Mix sugar and cornstarch in small saucepan, add in blueberries, water, lemon peel and lemon juice. 
  • Bring to boil on medium heat, stirring constantly and boil 1 minute. 
  • Remove from heat, add in Grand Marnier and cool.

Berry-Almond Cheesecake Tart
  • 1- 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

  • 2 cups strawberries, halved
  • 1-1/2 cups blueberries
  • 1/4 cup seedless raspberry preserves, melted
  • Heat oven to 325F. Spray a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom with cooking spray.
  • Process graham crackers, cinnamon and sugar in food processor or blender. Mix in melted butter. Press crumb mixture into bottom and up sides of pan. A cheesecake pan can be used for this recipe.
  • Place prepared pan on a baking sheet and bake 10 minutes or until set. Cool on wire rack.
  • Process cream cheese, 2/3 cup sugar, eggs and flour in food processor for 30 seconds until smooth. Add in lemon juice, vanilla and almond extract. Process 15 seconds. Pour into baked crust.
  • Bake 25-minutes or until center is set when gently shaken. 
  • Remove tart from baking sheet and cool completely on wire rack. Refrigerate uncovered for 5 hours or overnight.
  • Remove outside of pan and arrange strawberries around tart. Fill in with blueberries. Gently brush berries with melted preserves. 
  • Store in refrigerator uncovered.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Coastal Maine Cuisine

Coastal Maine has breathtaking scenery with craggy shorelines and lots of lighthouses. To be exact fifty-seven active lights in the state. 
Coastal cooking finds its inspiration from the sea as well as poets, authors and artists. As a young boy, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow knew he wanted to become a poet. The beautiful scenery of the coastal city left an impact on young Longfellow and the waterfront served as the quiet escape for meditation . His responsive listening to the lapping of the waves and to the sighing of the wind in lofty pines inspired Longfellow to create beautiful poems enabling the rest of the world to share in these indescribable visions.
Longfellow and his second wife Fanny had five children. He was tender, devotional, and loving toward his children, and "The Children's Hour" is one of the poems Longfellow wrote depicting himself as their father, a poet. 

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour.
I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.
From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.
A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.
A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!
They climb up into my turret
O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.
They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!
Do you think, O blue-eyed  banditti
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!
I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.
And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!
Our New England culinary adventures begin in the furthermost state of the region Maine. 
Lobster in any shape or form was a given on any menu as well as clam chowder.
There are countless varieties of clam chowder-the most popular New England Style and Manhattan Style. The label New England Style has come to mean that the chowder has a cream or dairy base while Manhattan Style refers to a tomato base. 

Repeat after me, “Chow-DAH!” That’s the way it should be said, if you are anywhere in the vicinity of New England, which is the birthplace of this wonderful clam stew. The word “chowder” is thought to have been derived from “chaudière”, an old French term for cauldron, or a big cooking pot. Traditionally chowder is made with salt pork, onions, potatoes, milk or cream, butter, and fish like cod or haddock, or clams dating back to the 1700s. Chowder is one of those things that is made in many different ways, and pretty much everyone thinks their way is best. It’s worth noting that the variations of this stew go back hundreds of years! 

Cook's notes: Most recipes call for using fresh clams but if you don't have access to fresh clams, you can use clam juice and canned chopped clams. Salt pork is traditional, it's like slab bacon that hasn't been smoked. You can easily substitute with bacon, or pancetta. The flour is a thickener. If you are cooking gluten-free or want a thinner consistency to your soup, leave it out. If you want a thicker soup, add more flour.

Makeover tip: Check sodium carefully on clam juice as it can vary dramatically between brands. Serves 4.
Clam Chowder
  • 6 slices of bacon 
  • 2 cans each (6.5 oz.) clams-rinsed or 12 oz. fresh clam strips found at seafood counter 
  • 1 small onion chopped 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped 
  • 1/3 cup flour 
  • 1-32 oz. chicken broth (low sodium) 
  • 1/3 cup white wine 
  • 1-(8 oz. ) bottle clam juice 
  • 3 cups diced raw red potatoes 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning 
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme 
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Cook bacon until crisp, set aside on a paper towel. 
  • Drain bacon fat and reserve 2 TB. in fry pan. 
  • Saute celery, onion, garlic cloves and celery. 
  • Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. 
  • Stir in broth, wine, clam juice, Old Bay Seasoning, thyme, bay leaf and cubed potatoes. 
  • Bring to boil and cover. Reduce heat and simmer stirring occasionally 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. 
  • Add in clams, bacon bits, heavy cream. Cook over low heat 8 minutes. 
  • Remove bay leaf and serve with oyster crackers 
Next posting: Blueberry picking in Maine. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies with Pistachios

When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there two years and two months. (Walden, 3)
by Henry D, Thoreau

With these words, Henry David Thoreau began the tale of his experiment of simple living at Walden Pond. Over the course of the next three hundred-odd pages, Thoreau outlined his philosophy of life, politics, and nature, laying the foundation for a secure place in the canon of great American writers. 
I did not actually see Walden Pond on my recent trip but I imagine it would look like this 
Today was our last hurrah taking a quick trip around the lake even though we had to wear winter attire for the ride.  Bella was on high alert as she searched the waters for wildlife. 
We spotted four loons who seemed lonely and lost (all the rest have left) swimming by a line of golden Tamaracks dotting the shores. 

after baking a fall treat.

Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies with Pistachios
  • 1 stick of butter and 1 stick of margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 3/4 cup chopped pistachios or walnuts
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Beat butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy.
  • Add in eggs and vanilla beat until smooth.
  • In a separate bowl sift flour, salt and baking soda.
  • Beat flour mixture into egg mixture, stir in chips, cranberries/cherries and nuts.
  • Chill dough in refrigerator or freezer for one hour. 
  • Drop dough by rounded teaspoons on cookie sheet and bake 11-12 minutes.
  • Cool cookies on wire rack.