January 17, 2013
Steve and I picked up the flu on a recent trip to New York City. Too bad that this is the lasting taste in my mouth from an otherwise super fun, eating, drinking, walking, sightseeing vacation. I’m sure the fonder memories will return once the worst of my symptoms recede, but for now, all I can think about is how to kick this thing and get on with the rest of my goals for 2013.
If I have enough energy tonight, I will definitely be trying to recreate the shojin ramen we got to go at Pai Men Miyake on State Street in Portland the other night. The kombu-shitake broth was salty and full of flavor, while the charred cabbage added depth. The noodles and the added spicy garlic paste made it more comforting than even a bowl of grandma’s chicken soup. If we all had unlimited access to spirit-nourishing food like this, the flu would not be such a long-drawn out pest.
Steve and I slurped it up while holding up in our room at the Inn at St. John. He watched the second season of Downton Abbey online, while I wondered at the mass appeal of cooking competition shows on the Food Network.
The next morning we grabbed a great cup of coffee from Bard Coffee on Middle St., and hit the road back home. We’ve cancelled everyone’s schedule for the rest of the week and are spending the day catching up and trying to get better. I’ll keep you posted on whether or not my attempt at the ramen is successful. In the meantime, wash your hands, and make sure your sweeties do too. My buddy Krystal swears by raw garlic, taken several times a day. Below is an adaptation of a flu remedy my friend Julie sent me. It’s certainly easier to get down than a mouthful of raw garlic, and, yes, I do believe it’s making me feel better. This version requires a juicer.
1 head garlic (yes, an entire head), peeled
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons honey
2 inches fresh gingerroot
Cut the peels off the lemons and the rind off the pineapple. Put the lemons, pineapple and gingerroot through a juicer. Mash the garlic into a paste and add this, the honey and the cayenne to the juice. Mix thoroughly. Drink several shot glasses a day.
January 5, 2013
In a momentary lapse of reason last week, I asked Bernie Castle for a few lobsters to take up to Caribou for Steve’s family Christmas. I had forgotten that my sister- and brother-in-law won’t touch the things in any form–a fact that returned to my brain after Bernie left them for me in a fish crate down at the town dock. My heart was in the right place–I had wanted to bring up the best thing I could offer from our tiny corner of paradise–but my brain was slightly addled with overwork and the stress of holiday chocolate production.
So when we returned just before the New Year, the lobsters were still waiting in the submerged crate on the dock. I steamed them for our New Year’s Day dinner, and we ate them with macaroni salad and a fresh-baked baguette (a la Dindy). Washed down with a lot of water (in an ongoing effort to dilute the overindulgences of the night before), it was the perfect meal for the first day of 2013; simple, fresh, local and delicious.
I put the leftovers in the refrigerator, and began to muse about what to do with them the next day.
My husband often accuses me of not liking leftovers. It’s not entirely false. I don’t like leftovers when the original meal wasn’t all that inspired to begin with. The truth is, I like creating–cooking–more than I like just heating something up. But what I really really like, is creating something new and fabulous from leftovers. It’s challenging and fun and it’s something that demands originality, some risk taking, a bit of go-with-your-gut.
I know. I really live on the edge.
I had saved our shells for my usual lobster stock, but as the temperature outside plummeted below zero, the thought of something hot and full of fat and flavor seemed just the thing. So I got to work on a bisque. And, when the next day, I found that we had leftovers of that, I threw together a lobster mac and cheese to beat all lobster mac & cheeses. Below are the recipes for both the bisque and the pasta. Bear in mind that because I was working with leftovers (and whatever else I had on hand), my measurements of some key ingredients (such as lobster and bisque and cooked pasta) are rough estimates. Use your best judgement. Or hell, just throw caution to the wind and set a trend for a brand new year.
Serves 2, plus enough leftover to make the Lobster Mac & Cheese, below
Shells, bodies and meat from two cooked 1-1/2 pound lobsters
Any reserved cooking liquid from steaming, or up to 2 cups reserved cooking liquid if you boiled the lobsters
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
1 fresh ripe tomato, sliced
a couple pinches dried tarragon (unless you have fresh, then use a complimentary amount of that)
a couple pinches of dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup dry sherry
4 cups fish stock, lobster stock or bottled clam juice
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup-1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Break up the shells and bodies as best you can. Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the shells and bodies and saute until the shells begin to brown. Add the onion, celery, garlic, tomato, tarragon, thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns. Cook and stir until the vegetables begin to soften, then add the sherry. Bring to a boil and cook until almost all the liquid is reduced at least by half. Add the stock and reserved cooking liquid and simmer for about an hour.
Strain the soup through a chinois or sieve into a saucepan, pressing down on solids. Discard the solids. Simmer the strained soup until it’s reduced to about 3 cups, then whisk in the tomato paste.
Put the cornstarch into a small heatproof measuring cup and stir in a couple of tablespoons of the hot soup to create a slurry. Stir the slurry into the soup and boil until slightly thickened. Reduce heat, and add cream until the soup is the consistency you want. Stir the chopped lobster meat into the soup and serve.
Lobster Mac & Cheese
Leftover bisque–1 or 2 cups
3-4 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
3-4 tablespoons flour
1-1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
About 4 cups cooked macaroni (or other pasta, such as penne, chiciocciole, farfalle, you get the picture)
cream, half-and-half, or whole milk
2 tablespoons bread crumbs from a slightly stale baguette
sea salt and black pepper
Heat the butter in a wide cast-iron skillet until it is very hot. Add the onion and saute until it softens and begins to brown. Add the flour and stir for a few minutes, then add the bisque. Whisk until the roux is completely incorporated into the bisque and the mixture is hot. Add the cooked pasta and assess how much more cream/half-and-half/milk to add. I like my pasta swimming slightly. Stir in the cheese, level the mixture in the skillet, top with the breadcrumbs and then pop into a hot oven. Bake until the dish is bubbling and the breadcrumbs are just beginning to brown.
Serve with a fresh, green salad, and a super crispy Sauvignon Blanc.
October 10, 2011
So in a fit of online self-congratulation for a near perfect execution of cider doughnuts yesterday morning, I promised our FB peeps that I’d finally break my long blog silence and post the recipe.
Later, as I was enjoying my second cup of coffee, and slowly recovering from the previous nights escapades in wine and ABBA (if that sounds fun, it is: but I caution you on mixing the two), I began to have an inkling of a memory of posting this recipe once before. Almost exactly a year, ago, in fact.
I wish I had remembered that I had already developed a cider doughnut recipe, when, 3 weeks ago, I started developing a cider doughnut recipe. You know what I’m saying? Anyhoo, this latest version is much like last year’s (nothing like re-inventing the wheel), with just a few little changes. The changes, I think, warrant this second posting. The resulting pastry is dark and crunchy on the outside, and soft, buttery and apple-y fragrant on the inside. But if you can’t find boiled cider (read a great article on boiled cider here), and don’t have any apple sauce on hand, the recipe from last year will stand in as an almost-as-delicious substitute.
Apple Cider Doughnuts, redux
1 cup sugar (I use organic evaporated cane juice)
1/2 cup boiled cider
3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3-3/4 to 4 cups flour
Roughly 6 cups vegetable oil for frying (I use safflower oil)
About a cup of superfine sugar
With an electric beater, the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, or by hand, beat together 1 cup sugar and the eggs until the mixture is light in color.
In a medium size bowl (or a large measuring cup), mix together the boiled cider, apple sauce and the baking soda. Don’t let all that foaming and frothing worry you. That’s just the baking soda reacting to the acid in the apples. Beat this mixture into the sugar and eggs.
Next, stir in the melted butter, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and vanilla. Finally, add 3-3/4 cups of flour and mix just until the batter is combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
When you’re ready to fry the doughnuts, heat the oil in a large cast iron pot to 375 degrees. While the oil is heating, turn your chilled batter out onto a well-floured countertop and pat or roll the batter to about 1/2-inch thickness. Cut as many doughnuts as possible with a 2-inch doughnut cutter. Scrape the scraps together gently, re-roll and cut one more time.
When the oil has reached the correct temperature, fry the doughnuts, a few minutes on each side, until they turn a burnished golden brown. Remove them to a cookie sheet lined thickly with paper towels and allow to drain.
Mix about a cup of superfine sugar and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon in a paper lunch bag. Before the fried doughnuts are completely cool, toss a few at a time into the bag, and shake to coat.
June 20, 2011
After the Boston Globe ran a very nice story on BDC last Wednesday (haven’t read it? Click here), I’ve had many requests for the recipe for our Schmoolie that author Amy Sutherland mentioned in her article. And here I thought that everyone would be thrilled with the Banana-Coconut Chocolate Swirl Bread from my upcoming cookbook. Wrongo!
So, here it is: in all it’s delicious, humble, bundled up glory.
3-1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. instant yeast
1-1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. butter, melted
1-1/4 cups milk, warmed slightly
3 roasted red peppers (I use the kind that come in a jar), diced
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 14-oz can quartered artichoke hearts
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
a handful of parsley, chopped
3 or 4 green onions, sliced
Combine the flour, yeast, salt, butter, sugar and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and knead with the dough hook for 10 minutes. Add more flour as necessary to create a soft, elastic bread dough. (You can also do this by hand, of course.) When done kneading, form the dough into a ball, and place it in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with some plastic wrap or a towel and allow the dough to rise for an hour, or until it is doubled in size.
While the dough is rising, combine the roasted red peppers, feta cheese, artichoke hearts, olives, parsley and green onions in a medium size bowl. Set aside.
When the bread dough is ready, heat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dough from the bowl and, on a lightly floured board, roll it out into roughly an 11″x18″ rectangle. Cut this rectangle into 8 smaller rectangles by cutting the dough in half, lengthwise; and then quartering each half.
Place about 1/4 cup of filling onto the center of each little rectangle. Use up all the filling.
Next, fold the corners of a rectangle of dough up over the filling; then the sides, and pinch together the edges to adhere. I always imagine that I am making a hobo bundle. Repeat this with each dough rectangle.
Place the bundles on an 11″x18″ cookie sheet, and pop them in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the dough is golden and puffed. Serve them immediately, or, pop one in your pocket and go for a long hike. Schmoolies taste best when eaten under a tree, streamside, in the middle of a mossy island woods.
October 4, 2010
It is not unusual for me to go all summer without eating a single morsel of my own baking. But the last two weeks of the cafe season comes, and I’m like a bear getting ready for the starvation of hibernation: I totally pig out.
My latest weakness? The fleeting decadence of New England cider doughnuts. Theses babies are great consolation for having to keep the cafe open through Columbus Day weekend. It’s painfully quiet around the island right now. Our cafe workers have left for the season; Amy is off to New Zealand, and Sarena is has just begun her first year of college in Vermont. The schooners have sailed into their home ports for the winter, and so have stopped their very welcome shore trips to the cafe. The violent remnants of southern hurricanes, followed by the sudden drop in temperatures, have chased off day-trippers and would-be campers. And the Sunday mailboat service has stopped for the season, making Sundays feel like, well, Sundays, minus the newspaper delivery.
All this adds up to a trickle of cafe business, leaving lots of time to plan the winter, catch up on my much ignored bookkeeping, bake-off apples and pumpkins for the seasonal batches of our Northern Apple and New England Pie Pumpkin truffles, and contemplate an entire counter full of fresh pastries. There are only so many tasks to keep me away from my own cooking, and since there is just one short week left of temptation, I have gleefully surrendered to the cider doughnuts. Great with coffee and bill paying.
Cafe Cider Doughnuts
Ingredients for batter:
- 2 eggs
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 t. baking soda dissolved in 1 c. fresh apple cider
- 3 T. melted butter
- 1 T. vanilla extract
- 1 t. baking powder
- 4 c. flour
- 1/4 t. cinnamon
- 1/4 t. nutmeg
- Roughly 6 c. vegetable oil for frying (I use safflower)
Ingredients for glaze:
- 2 c. confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 c. cider
- 1/2 t. vanilla
Beat together eggs and sugar until light. Beat in the cider/soda, butter and vanilla. Add baking powder, flour and spices all at once. Place this loose batter in the refrigerator (or freezer if you’re in a hurry), bowl and all, until it firms up a bit.
Meanwhile, heat your oil in a deep cast iron kettle. Keep a close eye on the temperature.* When it reaches 290 degrees, take out your batter and pat it out onto a well-floured board. cut as many doughnuts as possible with a 2-inch doughnut cutter. Check the temperature of your oil again, and when it reaches 375 degrees, start frying doughnuts in batches, flipping once. Remove the doughnuts with tongs from the oil, and drain on paper towels. The doughnuts should take only a few minutes to cook, but you might have to check one from your first batch to make sure it’s cooked completely through. Make sure the oil returns to 375 degrees before you plop in the next batch of doughnuts.
Scrape together and re-pat (or roll) and cut the dough once more. After than, you may roll any remaining dough into ropes and form doughnuts that way.
While the doughnuts cool, make the glaze by stirring together all ingredients in a medium size bowl until completely smooth.
When doughnuts are cool enough to handle, dip one side into the bowl of glaze, and allow them to crystallize on a cooling rack. Best served warm, but the other day, my neighbors gave me 3 lobsters from their day’s haul for the day-olds. Hope you’re so lucky!
*Note: In deep frying, the right temperature makes the difference between the sickening and the sublime. Do take the temperature of your oil. For super accurate results (and more fun in the kitchen), I use an $80 refractometer (purchased from Chef Rubber), which gives me an instant surface temperature read on everything from oil to ganache to caramel. Arguably, the best thing about this handy little tool, is the fact that you need never stir around a clunky candy thermometer again. Oh no wait: the BEST thing about this tool is taking the surface temperature of everything in sight. I’ve always said, there’s a little OCD in all of us.
On the edge of a forest in Sargentville, Maine, right off Route 15, and about a 1/4 mile from the Eggemoggin Country Store, is a tiny Mexican restaurant called El El Frijoles. This place is the very best kind of California-style cantina–squashed into a classic Maine farmhouse barn, it creates a ironic kind of harmony perfectly suited to its quixotic owner/operators, Michael Rossney and Michele Levesque.
Michele is the magician in front of the stove at El El Frijoles, and whether she’s in the restaurant or next door in her home, Michele always seems to be cooking up something fabulous–and more than willing to share a plate with a friend. Her recipe for Chiliquiles is a simple, hearty breakfast which, she claims, is perfect for those mornings when getting out of bed seems totally beyond one’s capacity. Sounds like a great breakfast in bed to me!
- 1 T. olive oil
- 4 (6-inch) corn tortillas torn into strips, or 24 tortilla chips (Michele says she prefers to use chips for “added crunch.”
- 5 eggs, lightly beaten with a T. of milk
- 3/4 c. favorite salsa (If Michele doesn’t have any of her homemade salsas in the fridge, she always has a can of Herdez on hand.)
- 1/2 c. shredded Cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and fry the tortilla strips until lightly browned and crisp.
Add the eggs to the skillet, and cook, stirring, until eggs are scrambled and fluffy. Stir in the salsa and the cheese.
Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with a wedge of avocado and a dollop of sour cream.
If you like your eggs spicy, Michele recommends Cholula hot sauce.
Serve the dish with some refried beans and a good, strong cup of coffee!
On the east side of the island, there is a lovely inn run by my friend and culinary comrade, Diana Santospago. While Diana is much more than just her inn, the Inn at Isle au Haut is a perfect manifestation of Diana’s many talents. Because there are no other restaurants on Isle au Haut, the inn offers three delicious, fresh, and beautifully presented meals every day, accompanied by some of the best shorefront scenery in the world. So good, in fact, that the Inn at Isle au Haut was just listed by Yankee Magazine as one of Maine’s top ten “Dinners with a View.”
Here is Diana’s choice for Mother’s Day breakfast:
“Baked Pancake with Berry Sauce and Melted Ice Cream is my choice for a breakfast recipe for your blog for a couple reasons. First, it’s practically foolproof for kids(with Dad’s help of course)to make for Mom for that special breakfast in bed, and it’s totally yummy.
First make the sauce.
- 1-1/2 cups of fresh or frozen raspberries, blackberries, strawberries or blueberries or a combination of any or all. (If using fresh berries, mash half of them.)
- 1/3 cup sugar or honey
- zest of 1/2 a lemon
Combine the berries, sugar/honey and zest, tossing gently. Let sit at room temperature until the berries release their juice and the sugar is dissolved.
Meanwhile, scoop out about 1 cup of good quality vanilla ice cream and set aside to melt.
- 2 eggs
- 1 C. milk
- 3/4 C. all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt pinch of cinnamon
- 1 T. unsalted butter
Here’s where Dad comes in!
Preheat a cast iron skillet in a 425-degree oven. Beat the eggs. Add the milk, flour salt, and cinnamon and mix well. Add the butter to the skillet. When melted, pour in the egg mixture. Bake for 15 minutes then lower the heat to 325 degrees and bake until puffed and golden-about 6-8 minutes. Slide onto a serving platter, slice into wedges, spoon on the berry sauce and drizzle with the melted ice cream.”
May 2, 2010
A long time ago, during my past life in a land called Santa Cruz, California there used to be a fabulous pastry shop called Rebecca’s Mighty Muffins on Front St. Rebecca and her crew baked up some of the tastiest organic, homey, completely over-the-top muffins known to the human race. Personal favorites included her California Glory and Zucchini Millet–but by far, my favorite pastry to accompany a double latte and the Sunday SF Chronicle, was her Blackberry Cream Cheese Scone.
This delectable crisp-on-the-outside, tender-and-crumbly on the inside piece of pastry perfection has haunted me since I first bit into one at the tender age of 19. At the age of 28, on the day before I moved from Santa Cruz for good, I screwed up my courage, marched into Rebecca’s, and using all my powers of persuasion, tried to convince the cute counter boy to get me the recipe. I was politely, but resolutely, denied.
Ten years later I am still trying to re-create that scone. The following recipe, though not as delectable as Rebecca’s, is still pretty darn good–at least good enough to grace the pastry case at my own bakery here on the island; and, I’m proud to say, have attracted their own passionate followers.
Black Dinah Cafe Blackberry Cream Cheese Scones
- 1/2-3/4 c. buttermilk
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3 c. flour
- 4 t. baking powder
- 1/2 t. baking soda
- 1/2 t. salt
- 8 T. cold, unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 oz. frozen cream cheese
- 1 c. frozen blackberries
Heat your oven to 400°.
Whisk together buttermilk and egg and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. On the large holes of a hand grater, grate cold butter into dry ingredients, tossing the flakes into the flour mixture with your hands as you go. Pour in the sugar, and with cold hands, quickly rub the sugar into the flour/butter mixture. Don’t over do it–leave some nice fat flakes of butter in there.
Next, cut the frozen cream cheese into rough 1/4-inch chunks, and toss them into the dry ingredients. Same deal with the blackberries.
Pour in the buttermilk/yolk mixture and mix very quickly with a rubber spatula. Tumble all this stuff onto an unfloured board (or a nice cool granite counter if you have one) and gently and quickly knead together using a bench scraper.
Pat this gorgeous purple-bejeweled dough into a rough disc, about 7 inches in diameter. With a very sharp knife, cut the disc into 8 triangles and place on two cookie sheets, 4 to a sheet. Space them out, so they have plenty of room to crisp up, unencumbered by the releasing moisture of its neighbor.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets once, about halfway through the bake time.
Remove the scones from the oven and immediately transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool until you can’t stand it anymore, and then dive in.
March 15, 2010
I would be hard-pressed to choose one thing that I miss most from my life in California. There were so many great aspects of just existing in Santa Cruz that to pluck one out and put it on a pedestal might possibly render it lackluster–or, at the very least, a victim of nostalgia. But lets face it; great friends, great pubs, great food, great wine, great coffee houses, great weather, great hiking, biking and running are really hard to come by all in one place.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I don’t pine away for my life there. I love my life right where I am. But every once in a while, particularly when March rolls around and the first green shoot of spring is still 2 months away, I miss my home state very much indeed.
Which, come to think of it, is probably why in the little free time that I have, I’ve been filling the refrigerator with homemade spicy salsas, roasting and freezing the few fresh poblano chiles that I can find in the mainland grocery, and dreaming up recipes that echo the flavors of a past life in warmer climes. Here’s one of them:
Serves 4, 342 calories per serving (but don’t quote me on it)
4 large poblano chiles
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut in small dice
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
5 small shallots, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. Adobo seasoning (I really don’t know what this is. Penzey’s Spices sent it to me as a sample and it’s been sitting on my spice shelf for many months. But it smelled good and I was in a bit of a hurry, so I tossed it in. I imagine a little cumin, oregano, ground chile might give you a similar result)
1 lb. raw Maine shrimp, peeled
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2 T. pinenuts, toasted
Roast the chiles. I do this by turning two of my stove burners to the highest flame possible and setting the whole chiles side by side on the burner grate. As the skin blackens, I turn the chiles with tongs. Roast the chiles until the skins are completely blackened, then place in a heat-proof bowl, cover the bowl with a plate and allow the chiles to “sweat” until they are cool enough to handle. When the chiles are cool, scrape off the blackened skin (I use the sharp edge of a pairing knife held at a 45 degree angle), make a small lengthwise slit in the chiles and remove the veins and seeds. Set the chiles aside.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the sweet potatoes, shallots, garlic and corn with the olive oil, salt and Adobo seasoning. Tumble this mixture onto a sheet pan and roast until the vegetables are tender.
Put the vegetables into a heat-proof bowl and toss in the shrimp, feta cheese and pinenuts. With your hands, stuff this mixture into the prepared chiles, place the chiles in a lightly oiled pyrex dish, reduce the oven temp to 350, and heat the chiles until the shrimp is cooked; about 15 minutes.
Serve hot, with salsa and a spoonful of pinto beans if desired.
March 10, 2010
Yesterday, in an attempt to create an energy bar that I could take along on my daily walk into the national park, I accidentally came up with this. Not quite what I was going for, but I must admit, today finds me more in love with them than yesterday. I’ll still be trying to come up with an energy bar that I can choke down, but for now, these babies get me where I want to go.
Flourless Peanut Butter Blondies
|1||cup natural peanut butter|
|1/4||cup raw honey|
|1||tsp. baking soda|
|1/4||cup black sesame seeds|
|1/4||cup raw almonds|
|1/4||cup raw sunflower seeds|
|1/4||cup golden raisins|
|1/4||cup unsweetened coconut|
- Combine peanut butter and honey until smooth.
- Beat in egg, banana, baking soda and salt.
- Stir in remaining ingredients and spread into 8 x 8 square baking dish.
- Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 16 portions.