Cook the Book: Green Olive Tapenade

Green Olive Tapenade

You can make the tapenade up to two weeks in advance.  It gets better with time.  This dip is great with goat cheese and spread on Crostini or crackers.

1 cup pitted green olives
2 tablespoons capers
2 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup packed fresh Italian parsley
2 cloves garlic
1/4  cup extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh black pepper to taste

Because the olives and capers are so salty you may want to soak them in fresh water for a few minutes to release some of the salt.  Drain them after soaking.  Purée all the ingredients in a food processor.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with Crostini.

Makes 1 cup


Cook the Book – Warm Cheddar and Horseradish Dip

I love this dip.  Mostly because I’m a sucker for most anything with cheese that ends up bubbly and gooey with a edge that’s darkened to brown and a little crispy.  It’s one I use all the time on the Riggin.  Sometimes I serve it with crackers so that folks can scoop.  A more festive way to serve the dip is to dig out the center of a round loaf of bread and cut the center into 1-inch cubes.  Warm the dip in a double boiler and pour it into the center of the bread and serve with the bread cubes.  Usually I make my own bread, but if it’s the first night of a trip, I do myself a favor and buy a few good loaves at Atlantic Bakery in Rockland.

Warm Cheddar and Horseradish Dip

4 ounces softened cream cheese
1 tablespoon grated onion
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons horseradish
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375°.  Combine all the ingredients by hand or in a food processor.  Spoon the mixture onto an ovenproof platter.  Bake for 20 minutes until the dip is bubbling around the edges.

Ooey, gooey and cheesy, hmmm.

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Tomato and Avocado Quesadillas with Mango and Red Pepper Salsa

Love, love, love quesadillas and salsa.  Easy, forgiving, zingy, sloppy, cheap, pretty and the girls like them.  What more could a person ask for?

Wait for them to cool a bit before slicing as it gives the cheese time to set up and not ooze out the sides.
You can hold these in the oven at 200º for up to one hour.

Tomato and Avocado Quesadillas

8 plain flour tortillas, 8-inch
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 tomatoes, peeled pitted and sliced
3 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
Pinch of salt for each quesadilla, use sparingly as the cheese is also salty
3 tablespoons olive oil, approximately

Prepare the quesadillas by laying out four tortillas and dividing the avocado, cheese and tomatoes evenly between  them.  Sprinkle with salt.  Place the other tortillas on top like a sandwich.  Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium  high heat.  Add a tablespoon of the oil and carefully place one quesadilla into the skillet.  Cook for 2 minutes  on one side or until golden brown and flip.  Cook for another 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool on a cutting board or hold in the oven on a cookie sheet at 200º.

Repeat with the other three quesadillas adding oil to the pan at the beginning as needed.  Cut into 6 or 8 pieces each.

Serves 4-8

Mango and Red Pepper Salsa

1 mango, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2-3 tablespoons of lime juice, 1 to 2 limes
1 tablespoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon minced jalapeno pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh black pepper

Combine all ingredients together and serve.

Makes 2 to 3 cups


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Wilted Brie Salad

This recipe was inspired by Kerry Altiero, chef and co-owner of Café Miranda’s in Rockland, Maine.  If you haven’t eaten there yet, it’s a palate’s delight.

This is a perfect last minute meal for greens that you might find popping up in your garden (or under the cold frame).  If you don’t have time to make the pesto or the crostini, just skip it and buy both.  This salad also makes a great sit down appetizer for a dinner party.

Wilted Brie Salad
8 cups mesclun mix, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
8 oz. brie cheese, cut into four wedges

Preheat broiler.  Mix all ingredients except for the brie and divide evenly onto 4 plates.  Place wedge of brie on top of salad.  Place under broiler for 2 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4

No longer looking for a quick dinner tonight

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Artichokes – How to cut them, how to eat them

Artichokes are one of my favorite foods.  It’s a toss up between the flavor of them and how much fun the leaves are to eat.  This week’s column features these versatile veggie with:

Veal Shanks w/Artichokes, Mushrooms and Cream
Artichoke Leaves with Garlic and Lemon
Artichoke, Feta and Green Bean Salad

Don’t forget that the column links expire in 7 days!

Trimming artichokes may seem like a mystery, but like most everything, once you understand how to do it, it’s not that hard.  Jacques Pepin has a detailed slide show on how to trim artichokes.  One of the best I’ve seen.

Trimming an Artichoke
1.    Cut one lemon into slices and add to a bowl of water.  Slice another lemon in half to rub on the sliced areas of the artichokes.
2.    Cut 1/3 off the top.  Cut all but 1 1/2 – 2 inches off the stem.
3.    Remove the outer leave from the base – about two layers.
4.    With scissors, trim the pointy ends of the remaining leaves.
5.    Trim the base and stem with a paring knife so that they are smooth.
6.    For steaming:  leave whole.
7.    For braising:  Cut in quarters and remove the center purple leaves and the fuzzy choke with a grapefruit spoon.
8.    For a finer look:  remove all outer leaves with a chef’s knife until you have reached the light yellow leaves.  Separate them from the bottom and discard the purple, pointy center leaves, placing the yellow leaves in the lemon water.  Remove the choke (the fuzzy part) from the bottom and add the bottom to the lemon water.
9.    Rub finished artichokes with lemon and place in lemon water until you are ready to cook them to prevent them from browning.

Steamed Artichokes
4 artichokes
2 lemons (One for the water as indicated in the trimming instructions, 1/2 to rub on the exposed parts and 1/2 for the steaming water.)

In a saucepan or stockpot large enough to accommodate 4 artichokes, add 1 inch of water and 1/2 of a lemon.  Steam the artichokes, tops up, in a vegetables steamer for 30-40 minutes.   Drain upside down.  Serve warm or chilled with Parmesan Aioli.

Serves 4 as a large appetizer

Parmesan Aioli

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

In a food processor, pulse the first 6 ingredients.  With the food processor on, slowly add the vegetable oil going drop by drop at first and then increasing to a thin stream.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 1/4 cups


artichokes – Veal Shanks w/Artichokes, Mushrooms and Cream, Artichoke Leaves with Garlic and Lemon, Artichoke, Feta and Green Bean Salad,

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Mother Earth News Radio – Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

This recipe was given to me by one of our guests years ago and when I make it on the Riggin the plates NEVER come back to the galley with even a speck of food on them.  Of course, as is my nature, I switch it up some – adding crab meat, cream cheese, spinach or black beans – but the basic recipe remains the same and we don’t tire of this bubbly, melty, zingy, addictive dip.

This week, it became the Project of the Week, on Mother Earth News Radio.  Andrea Ridout and Dan Lepinski, hosts of the show, and I talked about composting, buying local, food, sustainable business and well, more food.  The show will air this Saturday and then be on Mother Earth News Radio website to stream.  I’ll be sure to post the link when its live.

Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Dip
This can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to bake it.

1 8-ounce jar marinated artichokes, liquid drained, minced
1 small can chopped green chilies
1 small can chopped red peppers
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup salsa
Fresh black pepper to taste
2 cups grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 400°.  Mix all of the ingredients together then spoon the mixture onto a large ovenproof platter.  Bake until bubbly and lightly brown on top, approximately 15 minutes.  Serve with crackers or corn chips.

Makes 3 cups

Wahoo!  The new stove is in!  Post to follow.

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Maine Ingredient – Holiday Appetizers

Every week on the Riggin, we do some sort of tasting for one of our appetizers.  It’s fun, educational, elegant and not that much work.  All perfect reasons to have a tasting be part of your holiday appetizer repertoire.

This week’s column is all about how to do tastings.  The traditional, formal way is to have it be blind and then reveal the labels after everyone has tasted.  I rarely do that because it feels too stiff to me.  Also, it’s typical to have a plain vehicle on which to serve your tasting – baguette, small fresh mozarella balls, cucumbers, radishes – you get the idea.

What you are not supposed to do, if you are going the traditional route, which, big surprise, I rarely do, is serve anything else with the tasting items so as not to confuse the flavor.  I, on the other hand, think this is part of the fun.  When, in cooking, do you have one, single ingredient?  Our ingredients are almost always combined with something else.  Hence adding flavor.  My mantra.

I also, included recipes of funky deviled eggs.  A little bit of a non sequitor with the tasting subject, I know, but when taken under the heading “Easy Holiday Appetizers” it works.

How to conduct fun tastings
Chipotle and Lime Deviled Eggs
Dill and Relish Deviled Eggs
Horseradish and Black Pepper Deviled Eggs

A toast to holidays filled with laughter and fun

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