Spring Tartlet

Galettes have become a staple in my kitchen. It’s easier than a pie and more elegant in some ways because it’s different, portable for taking to another’s for dinner without keeping track of your pie plate, and, well, fun! Needless to say, I’m a big fan. I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of savory combinations for a quick dinner, as these days we are all working at a vigorous clip to get the Riggin ready for the season.

A galette is essentially a rustic, loosely formed pie. They are beautiful and can be made large for 10 to 12 people, small for 4 to 6, or even individual. This crust has some cornmeal in it, which gives a nice texture, compliments the rustic style, and gives the crust a bit more form. For transporting, simply loosely surround them with parchment paper for a rustic wrapping.

While recipes have specific amounts, what I’ve found most useful about galettes, similar to pizza, is the ability to use up little bits of cheese and/or leftover grilled meat and vegetables. It therefore goes without saying that no galette in my house will every be the same, as we will never have the exact same combinations of leftovers. The recipe below is meant as a starting point to give you an idea of how much to use and in what combinations, but experiment away!

While these are savory, you can always use berries, a little flour, and some sugar for a dessert galette like the Raspberry Cinnamon Galette in my cookbook, Sugar and Salt: The Blue Book.

Galette Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup cornmeal
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup ice water
1/4 cup buttermilk

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the butter and either press with your thumbs or use a pastry knife to incorporate. The mixture should look like something between breadcrumbs and small peas. The smaller the pieces the more tender; the bigger, the flakier. Add the ice water and buttermilk. If you need more liquid, add 1 teaspoon at a time until the mixture forms a ball. Divide into 2 equal rounds, cover well, and freeze for 30 minutes. Lightly flour the counter top and roll out each disc into an 11-inch circle. Place the ingredients in the center in the order listed, leaving a 2-inch perimeter without filling. Neatly fold over the 2-inch edge toward the center, pinching where needed. Bake for 45 minutes or until the center is hot and the pastry is golden brown. Cut into 4 to 6 pieces each. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 2 large serving 4 to 6 people

Tomato, Dill, and Fontina Galette
8 ounces grated Fontina cheese; about 4 cups lightly packed
20 cherry and orange tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon fresh dill sprigs
zest from 1 lemon
pinch of salt
several grinds fresh black pepper

Annie
Spring is a happy time

 

 

Seared Salmon and Arugula Salad with Lime Crema

Snap.  The weather turned ever so slightly warmer and now all I want is salad for dinner.  With protein.

A trip to our local fish monger, Jess’s Market, solved that healthy problem and not that long after, dinner was on the table.  While I was waiting my turn to be served, another customer had some curiosity about how to cook the beautiful shad roe resting in the display case like ruby jewels.  Sharon, one of the owners, shared a couple of Maine ways it’s often prepared.  One being to par-boil it and then sauté the slices in bacon fat.  We then started talking about chives and garlic chives shooting up in the garden and how a little lemony beurre blanc flavored with one or both would go great with shad roe and some greens.  With capers maybe.  Hmmm, I may have to go back and get some shad roe for this recipe floating around in my head.

You’ll notice that this recipe calls for reusing the same pan several times.  Reusing the pan is something that happens a lot in my kitchen.  Rather than dirtying 5 pans and creating a mountain of clean up, rinsing a pan between uses is a simple way to make light duty of the dishes once dinner is finished (Jon loves me for this).  This is especially true when the flavors will compliment each other and are all going into the same dish in any case.

Simple, simple, simple.  My favorite.  Also, side note, I used my new favorite olive oil, a l’Olivier, from Maine Street Meats to drizzle on the salad.

Seared Salmon Arugula Salad with Lime Crema
2 (6 to 8 ounce) skin on salmon fillets
several pinches kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper
2 ounces arugula, about 4 cups lightly packed
1/2 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
zest from 1 lime; about 1 teaspoon (for both sour cream and arugula)
juice from 1 lime; about 3 tablespoons (for both sour cream and arugula)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
2 roma tomatoes, quartered
2 ears of corn with corn removed
1 (16-ounce) can black beans
1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves

Sprinkle the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Add the arugula to a medium salad bowl and using a spoon, scoop small pieces of avocado onto the arugula. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon lime zest, and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Toss to combine.

Combine the sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon lime zest, and 1 tablespoon lime juice in a small bowl. Set aside for garnish.

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the 2 salmon fillets, skin side down. When the salmon is cooked half way through, about 5 minutes, turn carefully and cook the second side for another 4 minutes. Remove the salmon from the pan when it is still dark pink in the center and set aside on a platter or cutting board. Clean the pan and return it to medium-high heat.

Add grapeseed oil to the pan and add the tomatoes. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and sear until the edges begin to brown. Transfer to the edges of the salad bowl and return the pan to the heat. Add the corn and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes and transfer to the salad bowl as well.

Meanwhile, heat another skillet over medium heat and add the black beans, bring to simmer and set aside. Serve with the salad and the salmon. Garnish with the sour cream and cilantro.

Serves 2

Annie
Happy, healthy dinner (and one still creating in my head)

Lemon Curd Cheesecake – Bake Ahead Holiday Dessert

Outside the windchill is frigid. Inside, there is a cheesecake in the oven, the house feels toasty warm, and the Christmas tree is up and decorated. As of yet, there are only a few gifts beneath it, so it’s still open for viewing – from the bottom up.

I lie under the tree with the room lights off and the tree lights fully illuminated and breathe in. The scent of pine floats over, and the soft white light causes the whole tree to glow.

This view of the tree became a tradition in our house when our girls were little. One of them was rolling on the floor close to the tree having a tantrum when she suddenly stopped cold. She’d looked up and become absorbed by how the light hit the branches and reflected off of the ornaments in rainbow prisms and sparkles. All vestiges of the tantrum evaporated in a single moment of distraction. We got down on the floor with her, wanting to reward her new, calm behavior. And we became absorbed too.

The girls are older now, but we’ve carried on the tradition. Today, whoever is needing a moment of calm and peace simply squeezes under the tree to absorb the glow and the scent. Most of our holiday traditions are that way – simple.

I find that if I can remember that one word, “simple,” my holidays nourish the soul. If not, well, you’ve been there too.

So I wish you simple this season – in all things, including cheesecake recipes.

Lemon Curd Cheesecake

These two recipes highlight two different ways of easing a cheesecake in and out of baking – slowly raising and lowering the temperature of the batter – to prevent it from drying out or cracking. One uses steam, the other a water bath or, to use the technical term, a bain marie.

Cheesecakes are easily frozen and thawed, should you want to get ahead of the holiday craziness and make it ahead of time. Remove the cheesecake from its springform pan and place it on a cardboard round, then either wrap well or place in a large plastic container with a lid and freeze. It will thaw in several hours at room temperature, then keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.

The tricks to making a successful cheesecake are simple.  They also make sense when you understand the reason behind them.

Eggs, a major component of cheesecakes, don’t like to be heated quickly or subject to high heat.  Instead they like to be handled gently and with a little tender loving care.  They freak out when the heat is too fast or too high, curdling or puffing up, both of which we don’t want in a cheesecake.  This is why having all ingredients at room temperature to begin with helps.  Another trick is some sort of water – either in the form of steam or a water bath, to mitigate the formation of a crust and to gentle the heat.  Lastly, letting the cheesecake cool down in the oven helps gentle the change in heat and prevents those craters we don’t want to see in our cheesecakes.

Vanilla Cheesecake
Adapted from a recipe given to me by Ed Quinn. Leave the cream cheese on the counter for 1 hour to reach room temperature.

Serves 12

Crust:
1 1/4 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus a little extra for the pan

Cheesecake:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
5 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup vanilla-flavored liqueur, such as homemade bourbon vanilla or French Vanilla Kahlua
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Lightly grease a 10-inch springform pan. To make the crust, mix the wafers and butter together in a small bowl. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

To make the cheesecake, place a large pan on the lowest rack of your oven and fill it with water to produce steam as the cheesecake bakes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the cream cheese in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Gradually add the sugar and cornstarch. Add the cream and mix well. The mixture will resemble whipped cream. Add the whole eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the egg yolk, liqueur and vanilla and mix well. Pour the batter over the crust. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 200 degrees F and bake for 60 to 70 minutes. When the cheesecake is done, the center should no longer look wet or shiny but should still be jiggly. Turn the oven off and keep the oven door closed. Let the cake cool in the oven for 2 hours, then remove, cover and refrigerate at least 3 to 4 hours.

When you are ready to serve it, release the cake from the pan by running a thin knife around its edge. To make clean cuts, dip the knife in hot water after each slice.

Lemon Curd Cheesecake
I’m afraid I’ve forgotten who gave me this recipe, but whoever you are – thank you! Leave the cream cheese on the counter for 1 hour to reach room temperature.

Serves 12

Crust:
2 whole graham crackers, finely ground
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake:
3 (8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lemon curd:
2 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
6 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup crème fraîche
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

To make the cheesecake, preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Brush the inside of a 10-inch springform pan with butter and sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs, tilting and tapping the pan to coat evenly. Place the pan over two layers of aluminum foil and pull up the sides. This is to prevent water from the water bath from leaking into your pan. Place both the pan and the foil in a large roasting pan and bring a pot of water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and then the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Pour the batter into the springform pan. Move the roasting pan into the oven, then pour boiling water into it to come at least halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake 60 to 70 minutes or until the cheesecake is set but the center is still jiggly. Turn the oven off, keep the oven door closed and cool the cheesecake in the oven for 2 hours. Remove the cake and the water bath from the oven.

Prepare the lemon curd about 1 hour before the cheesecake is ready.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, whisk the yolks, eggs, sugar, lemon zest and juice. Heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens to a mound, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and add the crème fraîche. Stir in the butter, one-third at a time.

Strain the curd through a fine-meshed sieve to remove any egg you inadvertently scrambled, then spread it on top of the cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate the cheesecake 3 to 4 hours.

When you are ready to serve it, release the cake from the pan by running a thin knife around its edge. To make clean cuts, dip the knife in hot water after each slice.

Baked Brie – Holiday Appetizers for a Crowd

Entertaining equals stress in many home kitchens, but fear not. It needn’t be this way! The trick is to choose wisely and plan ahead. Even if you like to fly by the seat of your pants and let the choices reveal themselves to you. Even if you aren’t a planner. Now is the time to step out of your usual pattern and be kind to yourself by spending a little time thinking and organizing. Then let the rest go.

Clean ahead, set the table ahead, shop ahead, bake ahead. Choose simple but elegant menus. And then enjoy your guests, your clean house and your delicious food.

The appetizers offered here are ones in just this category. Because you’ll be adding lots of flavor to the brie, choose brands that are on the lower end of the price spectrum – ones that you might not choose for a cheese platter, but that will be perfect for the addition of a funky or traditional topping.

Wishing you calm, serene moments with your family and friends.

Crushed Pretzel and Garlic-Crusted Baked Brie

1 8-ounce wheel of brie
1/2 cup crushed pretzels; about 3 pretzel rods
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese, about 1/3 cup lightly packed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic, about 1 clove garlic
Several grinds fresh black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the wheel of brie on an oven proof serving platter or a pie tin. To crush the pretzel rods, place them on a cutting board and roll over them with a rolling pin. The pieces want to be the size of peas, not pulverized into crumbs. In a small bowl, combine the pretzels, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic and pepper. Mix well and mound the mixture on top of the brie wheel. Some will fall off; this is fine. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is beginning to brown and get crispy and the brie has softened and is pliable but the surface is still unbroken.

Serves 8 to 12 as an appetizer.

VARIATIONS on the above recipe:

Almond, Cranberry, and Brown Sugar
1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine in a small bowl and mound over brie as in above recipe and bake.

Walnuts and Lemon Marmalade
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons lemon marmalade
Pinch of salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine in a small bowl and mound over brie as in above recipe and bake.

Herb and Sun-Dried Tomato
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until completely combined. Top brie as in above recipe and bake.

Black Olive Tapenade
You can make the tapenade up to two weeks in advance, as it gets better with time. This spread is great as an appetizer with goat cheese as well.

1 cup dried Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons capers
2 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup packed fresh Italian parsley
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Because the capers are so salty, soak them in fresh water for a few minutes to release some of the salt. Drain them after soaking. Puree all the ingredients in a food processor. Refrigerate until ready to serve if making ahead or top brie as in above recipe.

Makes 1 cup

We Got Some Good Karma In Our Lives

Horses and boats. I’m not sure why this is a common combination, but it seems to be rampant.  No less in our household than in any other, it seems. It’s like we have an addiction to really fun hobbies into which you pour money or something.  I don’t talk about my love of horses much and I’ve never shared my horse journeys here, but this one is special. Both the horse and the journey, and one worth telling.

My trainer, Jess, texted this summer from a horse auction while we were on an island for our lobster bake. When she texted, Jon and I were walking in the middle of a pine stand surrounded by granite, the sound of the ocean touching the beach, and the light casting late afternoon shadows through a fern stand up the path a bit. When shore side life inserts itself into boat life, even though we’ve been doing it for years, there’s this moment of focus required to bring attention to a part of our life we aren’t living at the moment. Our life on the boat is so rhythmic, tied to the weather, and the now that thoughts of winter and planning are sometimes surreal. Such was the case with our conversation.

Let me be clear, I was not in the market for a horse after having sold an older rescue horse last year.  While I ride all winter long and often more than one horse per day, I was perfectly happy riding other people’s horses. I’d been saying out loud that I wouldn’t be buying my own horse again until both girls were out of school. Sure.

Then Jess texted. A horse had just been bought by a “kill buyer”, so her future was as either meat or glue. She had a soft eye, a nice way of moving, wasn’t lame, and was super skinny. One, of course I’m a sucker, so saving a good horse from death, well, please. Two, the idea of training my own horse with only Jess or me to ride and work with her was undeniably enticing.

So in the middle of lobster bake island, surrounded by pines and granite and ocean, (and with Jon’s blessing I must add) I bought my next horse! She’s 5 years old, an off the track Thoroughbred. She was in a sketchy lesson program where she developed a “bucking problem”. Which to me means something hurt or she was really done with being treated poorly and had some things to say, i.e. bucked.

These are the first photos I got of her before we met.  Her nickname was Skinny Legs or Annie’s Mare until I was able to spend some time with her and get to know her.  I’ll be posting once a month about my journey with her. Oh, and her name is Good Karma, her show name is Gilkey’s Harbor, and she is a super sweet soul.

Annie
Winter projects!

Calm and settled on one of her first days at the barn.
A couple of days after she arrived in a paddock by herself to begin with. She needs about 300 pounds on her. That round belly is actually not great = worms, sand, and/or malnourished.
There’s that soft eye and head low even though she’s in a new home.
Those shoulder bones, though!
Eating was hard for her in the beginning until we could get her teeth power floated.
The dentist power floating Karma’s teeth. The horse needs to be sedated for this process, and you can see why. If this isn’t done, they develop burrs or horns on their teeth which make eating very painful.
Head in a grain bucket shortly after the dentist was done!
Getting plump! Photo by Amy Miller.

 

Best Maine Attraction – Maine Windjammers

Well, would ya look at that!  USA Today discovered what we already knew, that windjamming is awesome!

USA Today 10 Best Awards   The top 10 winners in the category Best Maine Attraction are as follows:

  1. Maine Windjammers – Rockland & Camden – That’s us!!
  2. Pemaquid Point Light – Bristol
  3. Maine Maritime Museum – Bath
  4. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens – Boothbay
  5. Moosehead Lake
  6. Acadia National Park
  7. Owls Head Transportation Museum – Owls Head
  8. Maine Huts & Trails
  9. Portland Head Light – Cape Elizabeth
  10. The Marginal Way – Ogunquit

Annie
Nice to be among some pretty great attractions.