As the summer season progresses, I sometimes run out of creative ideas and begin asking the crew what they want me to make. Pretty much anything is on the table as long as I can make it on the woodstove and without electricity (meaning something with a lot of whisking is off the table). Not too many years ago, we had a crew member of Italian decent who was from New York, and he asked me to make garlic knots. I’d never heard of them, being from the Midwest and having lived in Maine the better part of my life.
He was flabbergasted. So I looked them up and fashioned my own recipe. And aren’t they just little bits of heaven? There’s always more to learn.
3/4 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 teaspoon table salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic; about 2 cloves
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
1/2 ounce grated Romano cheese; 1/4 cup lightly packed
Combine the yeast, salt, and flour in a large bowl. Stir in all the remaining ingredients, reserving 1/4 cup water. Mix thoroughly and add the reserved water if needed. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes or until smooth. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and set aside in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place a pan filled with stones in the bottom of the oven or alternately, prepare a squirt bottle of water. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll the dough into 4 long logs and cut each log into 5 equal lengths, making a total of 20 small logs. Roll each piece again briefly and then tie into a loose knot. Arrange evenly on a baking sheet, cover, and allow to rise again until doubled. Place the pan in the oven, add water to the stones in the pan (or squirt the oven with water), and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 20 minutes or until an internal-read thermometer registers 190°F.
Meanwhile, combine the butter, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and set aside. Transfer the hot knots to a large bowl, toss with the butter mixture, and sprinkle with Romano. Serve warm.
Makes 20 garlic knots
As anyone who has sailed with us knows, Kitchen Aides and Cuisinarts are not a part of my tool kit on the Riggin. They require electricity, something I don’t have in my galley. What I do have is good, old-fashioned muscle and technique. I use very basic tools to make very special baked goods and I don’t need a lot to accomplish this.
Also, because I have limited space, the tools I do have on the boat need to be ones that I use all the time or they need to do more than one task. Here’s my list of tools that I wouldn’t go sailing without and that might spark an idea or two for the baker in your life, whether they bake on dry land or on the water.
My three favorite stores for baking and cooking tools are: The Good Table, Now You’re Cooking, and King Arthur Flour. All are wonderful, local stores with a well-curated supply of useful baking tools.
Sifter – While a whisk will work for this task, there’s nothing that works better for making light, fluffy cakes.
Scale – The best bakers weigh all of their ingredients. If nothing else, sometimes a recipe calls for a weighed amount and not a measured amount. Super helpful.
Thermometer – All baking is about details and precision. Don’t over or under bake anything again by removing it from the heat at just the right temperature.
Parchment paper – A gift from the non-stick gods. Lining cake pans and cookies sheets with parchment or with a silicone sheet helps with the least favorite part of baking – the clean up!
Whisk – Just don’t try a baking life without one. Great for thin batters, egg whites, and whipped cream, but a whisk will also work as a sifter in a pinch. Just not for those super fluffy genoise cakes and such.
Rolling pin – Wooden ones are my favorite. With or without handles, this is an essential piece of any bakers arsenal.
Pastry bag – At some point you’ll want to try your hand at pate au choux or decorating a cake. The professional way to go is with a pastry bag and at least a few basic pastry tips.
Cookie scoop – Bake cookies that are all the same size by scooping them with this cookie scoop. It makes the process go so much faster too.
Pastry knife – For making biscuits and pie crust, this tool is essential. There isn’t a day on the boat that goes by where I don’t use this handy tool.
Bench scraper – Bread bakers, pie bakers, biscuit bakers and basically anyone who gets dough on the counter for any reason will love this tool. Again, I use it on a daily basis.
Cooling rack – While this is one tool that I don’t have space for on the Riggin, I do use them at home all the time, and there I almost never have enough. 🙂
Also, doesn’t it go without saying that every baker (and cook) should have cookbooks that they love and trust (like Sugar & Salt and At Home, At Sea)?
Almost always, making something from scratch is better than anything you can buy at the grocery store. These crackers are no exception. Super crispy, super flavor, super fun – and a special addition to any holiday appetizer board (especially with Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves).
I like them simple – with just salt and pepper sprinkled on them, but if you prefer, sprinkle fennel, sesame, or poppy seeds instead. Recipe excerpted from Sugar & Salt: Book 2 (The Orange Book).
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons table salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and then add the oil and water. Mix together for 1 to 2 minutes until fully combined. If there are still bits of flour in the bottom of the bowl, add more water a teaspoon at a time until the flour is fully incorporated.
Transfer the dough to a floured counter. Cut the dough in half and cover one half with plastic wrap while you roll out the other to a thickness of 1/8-inch. Slice into small squares with a pizza cutter and with a spatula, transfer to a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper and the other optional toppings and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the edges begin to brown and the centers are firm. Repeat with the second half of the dough.
Cool completely and store in an air-tight container.
Makes about 8 dozen crackers
These crackers also make a special hostess gift, wrapped in a cellophane bag and tied up with some red and white kitchen twine.
Thanksgiving dinner is truly my favorite of all the holiday meals, but it’s a toss up as to whether I like the meal itself or the leftovers more. Here’s another idea for how to use up all those delicious leftovers and a few from previous years to keep you busy for a couple of dinners following the big one.
Also, don’t forget to freeze and label what you won’t use in the several days following the big meal. Save it all for later in the winter when you need a weeknight dinner right quick and in a hurry.
Turkey Shepard’s Pie
In a casserole dish, layer cooked turkey meat, gravy, cut up green beans (or other vegetable) and top with mashed potatoes or mashed squash. Bake at 350°F or until the edges are beginning to brown and the center is hot all the way through. If you don’t have enough gravy, make a little sauce of your own by heating up the turkey and the green beans with a little butter in an oven-proof skillet. Sprinkle with flour and stir to incorporate. Add a cup or so of stock and stir. Add more if the mixture is too thick. Then layer the rest of your ingredients on top.
If you’ve never taken a class at Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School in York, you should. The space is beautifully appointed and the crew top-notch.
It’s also seriously at least 10 times the cooking space I have on the Riggin. Instead of standing at my stove and turning, turning, turning from stove to baking supplies to counter top, I had miles of kitchen to cover and all sorts of spaces to loose track of my knives and glasses and any number of trays of mise en place kitted up for the class. This girl is not used to being able to spread out!
I had not a clue what to expect when I arrived, as I’ve never been in the cooking school side of the campus before. As I walked around to familiarize myself with the space, I had several lovely surprises in the form of Riggin guests who kept walking through the door. As soon as I’d hugged one, the next walked in! What a treat to have the support of those who already knew me as I began the class and walked everyone through the recipes from bread to dessert.
After teaching to a full class for 90 minutes, there was time to sign books and talk with folks as they filtered out. What a lovely way for everyone to spend a long lunch and what a fun time I had sharing it with them. Many thanks to the Stonewall Kitchen crew for making my first time go so smoothly.
Looking forward to the next time
If any of you happen to be or live in the area, I’ll be doing a cooking class at Stonewall Kitchen this Friday, October 26th. We’ll be making recipes from my newest cookbook, At Home. At Sea – The Red Book, 2nd Edition. On the menu for the learning luncheon:
Stonewall Kitchen Menu
Butterscotch-Topped Gingerbread with Sautéed Apples