Cooking with Annie: Episode 11 – Irish Soda Bread

Hands down, my favorite meal to have with this bread is New England Boiled Dinner, an absolute classic.  Next would be a beef stew or other hearty soup.  It makes wonderful toast the next day and doesn’t last long in our house at all.  For those of you having a hard time finding yeast, this is a good one.  No yeast required.  Also, no rising time.  It’s an easy one!

It does call for buttermilk, but don’t fret.  If you don’t have that on hand, combine a bit more than 3/4 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar and let it sit for 5 minutes or so.  Presto!  Buttermilk is made.

Irish Soda Bread 
This is another recipe passed down through the women in my family. I’ve used dried apricots or raisins in place of the currants. The caraway seeds are traditional, but also optional. My grandma favored currents and caraway seeds and my mom made it unadorned. Either way, it’s a versatile recipe.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)
1/2 cup currants
3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk (maybe a little extra)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the milk. Stir until a ball just forms, adding a little extra buttermilk if needed to get everything to come together.  Turn onto floured board and knead until just combined, about 5 turns. Cut the dough in half and shape into two 6-inch round loaves. Place the loaves on a baking sheet. Make two perpendicular cuts on top of the loaves in the shape of a cross. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 1 loaf

Variations
Fennel and Raisin – Add 2 tablespoons fennel seeds and 1 cup raisins.
Caraway and Currants – Add 2 tablespoons caraway seeds and 1 cup currants.
Whole Wheat and Flax Seed – Replace 1 cup all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Add 3 tablespoons whole flax seeds.
Stilton and Chives – Reduce the buttermilk by 1 tablespoon. Add 1 cup crumbled Stilton and 1/2 cup minced chives.

Cooking with Annie: Episode 7 – Maine Blueberry Muffins (with and without eggs)

So you’re jonesing for a baked good, but you don’t have any eggs (or couldn’t get them at the grocery store this run).  No problem.  There are some handy substitutes for eggs that work almost as well as the eggs themselves.  If you are a vegan, same goes.  No need to go without baked goods, there are some pretty great substitutes out there which will have your non-vegan friends fooled.

To be sure, there’s a decent amount of talk around substituting ground flax seeds or chia seeds, but to my taste, these always end up tasting “healthy”.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  However, when I want a seedy breakfast muffin, I’ll ask for it, not make it by default.

The other direction when substituting for eggs in baked goods is some kind of mushy fruit – either mashed bananas, apple sauce, or stewed prunes.  All of which work wonderfully for making moist baked goods, but don’t do so much in the leavening/rising department.  These subs tend to make for flatter baked goods without that nice dome on top.

There are two substitutions which I’ve used consistently over the years which work beautifully and are nearly imperceptible from the baked goods with eggs.  They are either carbonated water OR a mixture of baking soda and vinegar.  Both create a wonderful rise and crumb without taking away any level of moisture.  That said, this substitution works best in quick breads, muffins, and cakes.  Not so much with say, eclairs or some other egg dependent confection.

In the latest episode of Cooking with Annie, I make Maine Blueberry Muffins with both of my favorite substitutions and show you the difference in the end result.  As they come out of the oven, the lighting in the video begins to change (thanks so much Maine weather) so it may be a little tough to see 100% clearly, but the carbonated water muffins have a perfect dome and are a little lighter in color.  The baking soda and vinegar muffins didn’t rise quite as much but have a more golden color.

Substitutions for eggs in baking
1. 1/4 cup carbonated water to 1 egg
2. 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon vinegar to 1 egg
3. 1/3 cup mashed banana, apple sauce, or stewed prunes to 1 egg

Maine Blueberry Muffins  
This recipe is actually my basic muffin recipe from which I make dozens of different kinds of muffins.  On the Riggin, to save time in the morning, I make a huge batch of dry ingredients and then measure out what I’ll need for that morning’s muffins.  Each day is a different muffin with dried or fresh fruit, different toppings, and/or spices.  It’s excerpted from the Red Book, At Home, At Sea: Recipes from a Maine Windjammer.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs OR 1/2 cup carbonated water OR 2 teaspoons baking soda and 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup whole milk
1 1/3 cups fresh (or frozen) Maine blueberries

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan or line with paper liners. Sift the dry ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the oil, eggs, and milk. Stir until just combined. Gently fold in the blueberries. Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the muffins spring back when lightly pressed. Remove the muffins from the pan to cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12 muffins

Variations
Pumpkin, Honey, and Walnut
Reduce the milk to 1/3 cup, add 2 tablespoons honey, and 1 cup pumpkin puree with the other liquid ingredients. Stir in 3/4 cup chopped walnuts instead of the blueberries.

Other Variations
Replace the blueberries with dried cranberries or apricots; raisins; or chocolate chips.
Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with granulated or coarse-grain sugar.
Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with streusel.

Cooking with Annie: Episode 6 – Roasted Tomato, Pepper, and Onion Omelette

Yesterday I spent the day outside in the light and warmth – listening to the birds and breathing fresh air.  While I was in the garden, walking wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of wood chips from the large pile out in the front yard to the walkways in and around the garden out back, I found myself repeating a mantra to myself.  As there is so much that is not within my control right now, my mind moved to all of the things of which I am in charge and do control.

I am in charge of the food I choose to eat.  I am responsible for how I move my body each day.  I can choose to be outside no matter what the weather.  I am the one who chooses what I buy or don’t buy.  I am the one who is in charge of how I treat my family, the kindnesses I offer others, the way I greet my fellow humans.  I can choose to wait before I speak.  I choose grace.  I choose intention.  I choose surrender.

The word surrender has a connection to the phrase, “I quit”.  But that’s not what I mean.  I surrender to the things I cannot change.  I surrender to peace – in my mind and in my space.  I surrender to something greater than myself.

And I felt better.  And continued to walk the heavy wheelbarrow of wood chips to the garden – creating new pathways and adding a layer of freshness to the already worn paths.  And I felt better.

Annie
safe, calm, kind

Cooking with Annie: Episode 5 – Baking Powder Biscuits

This is a recipe my grandma passed on to me through my mom. The original recipe, written on a weathered and wore 3 x 5 index card, in my mom’s handwriting from a time when my grandmother gave it to her verbally. My grandmother used shortening, and maybe even lard. Currently, shortening is out and butter is in, but to honor the history of the recipe, I’ve left shortening as an ingredient. It is a one to one replacement to substitute butter.

The best way to eat these is fresh from the oven, still warm with a pat of butter.  Hands down.  They are just as delicious with strawberry jam as they are with a beef stew.  The day after, they loose their texture a bit.  I still remember my grandmother eating the day old biscuits (because nothing went to waste in her kitchen) with peanut butter and a squirt of French’s mustard.  It sounds a little crazy, and feel free to knock it once you’ve tried it, I loved the combination as a kid too.  While I haven’t had them like this in some time, I do feel it’s time for me to revive the snack if only to honor my Grandma occationally.

Baking Powder Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter (or shortening like my Grandma used to do)
3/4 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 450°F. Measure the flour, baking powder, and salt into a sifter set in a medium bowl. This is an important step because you want to add air to the mixture so the biscuits are as fluffy as possible. Use a pastry cutter to cut the shortening into the mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. Stir in any additional dry ingredients here (page xx). Add milk and any additional wet ingredients, stirring until a soft dough forms. It is important to not overmix; you’ll hard tack instead of fluffy biscuits. Turn out onto a floured board and knead 10 times, then STOP!  Roll or pat out the dough until it is 1/2-inch thick. Cut with a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter. Transfer the biscuits to an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 12 biscuits

Variations
Lemon and Herb Biscuits
To the basic recipe add:
1 tablespoon lemon zest; about 1 lemon
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons of fresh herbs such as chives, chive blossoms, lemon thyme, thyme, rosemary, and/or lavender

Parmesan and Black Pepper Biscuits
To the basic recipe add:
several grinds fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese; about 1 cup lightly packed
1 large egg
a little extra milk if needed

Roquefort and Walnut Biscuits
To the basic recipe add:
4 ounces crumbled Roquefort cheese; about 1 cup
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
pinch of paprika
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Jack and Jalapeno Biscuits:
To the basic recipe add:
2 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese; about 1 cup
1 tablespoon seeded and minced jalapeno pepper

Poppy Seed and Orange:
To the basic recipe add:
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons orange zest; about 1 orange

Annie
#weatheringthestorm #hanginginthere

Prosciutto, Goat Cheese, Fennel and Red Bell Pepper Tartlet

prosciutto chevre fennel red bell pepper tartlet, savory tart recipe, cooking, recipe, baking, maine windjammer

“Summer’s here!” proclaimed my youngest daughter several years ago as she climbed into bed full of satisfaction that she was without the need to set her alarm in preparation for another day of school. The time for formal education had come to a close for the year. The structure and the rhythm of a school year released into the dreamier, looser days of summer, opening up the unstructured, but no less important, time of summer discovery and adventure.

At least that’s what we think summer should be – one big adventure. My memories of summer, on the other hand, are like a jigsaw puzzle of moments of boredom interspersed with swimming, reading, and capture the flag which then circled back around to boredom. I lost myself in books time and time again, then would leave that imaginary world for another by the creek or in the swimming pool and then onward to a game of capture the flag. Back to listless ennui and the cycle repeated itself.

As I look back on my childhood and compare a similar rhythm to my own children’s summer days, I don’t regret that boredom.  From those moments of lethargy came inspiration and imagination.  As my girls grew, I was privileged to witness the same transformation in them.  And what came after boredom was always full of creativity and fun.

Just as the schedule of summer loosens and becomes more elastic and flexible, what we eat and how we prepare it does too. The structure of recipes and needing meals to be on time and planned around family schedules relaxes. The found treasures of the farmer’s markets turn into impromptu salads, pastas, pizzas, grilled anything or… tartlets.

This is the time of year to be playful and creative with your time and your meals. Enjoy both!

Prosciutto, Chèvre, Fennel, and Red Bell Pepper Tartlet
While this dish is delicious with the fennel and red pepper, the sky is really the limit when it comes to the meat, cheese, and vegetables that you use. Substitute some Genoa salami, an aged cheddar, spinach, and spring onions OR bacon, Parmesan, zucchini, and tomatoes OR grilled chicken, mozzarella, and pea shoots OR strips of salmon, farmer’s cheese, fresh corn, and cherry tomatoes…. Play with what you find from the farmer’s market or what you have leftover in the refrigerator from another meal.

Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
9 tablespoons (1 stick, plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon ice cold water

Filling
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced fennel; about 1/2 bulb
2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper, seeded and cored; about 1 pepper
1 cup thinly sliced onion; about 1 small onion
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper
4 ounces crumbled chèvre; about 1 cup
3 large eggs
3/4 cup half and half
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese; about ¼ cup lightly packed

Crust
In a food processor pulse flour, salt, and butter. Add the egg yolk and water and pulse until combined. If the mixture is too dry, add more water 1 teaspoon at a time until it forms a ball. Remove from processor, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. When ready, dust the surface of the counter with flour and roll out to 1/4-inch thick. Press into an 11-inch tart pan. Cover with parchment paper and beans or pie beads and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden brown. Meanwhile prepare the filling. When the crust is done, remove from oven, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees, and add the filling mixtures beginning with the fennel and then the chèvre. Lay the prosciutto slices on top and sprinkle with thyme leaves and Parmesan cheese.

Filling
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and then the fennel, peppers, onions, salt, and pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are soft and pliable, about 7 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, mash the chèvre with a fork and add the eggs one at a time incorporating each time until there are few if any lumps in the mixture. Add the half and half and mix well.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the center is just barely cooked and still wiggly. Serve hot or room temperature.

Serves 6

Annie
Get bored, then get creative

Prep Work in the Galley and/or Kitchen

Organization is about the single most important skill to have as a cook.  Sure, making food taste good is critical.  Safety and cleanliness are imperative.  Life is made even better when beautiful, interesting ingredients become part of a repertoire.  If, however, you can’t put it all on the table at the same time?  Not good.  Being safe and clean are inextricably linked to being organized.  And a beautiful ingredient doesn’t do much good if the whole package doesn’t come together into one moment.

To this mix, lets sprinkle a range of outdoor temperature from 35 degrees to 90 degrees peppered with a tilt that can get things sliding off counter tops and stove tops, topped with some wave action which sets the whole galley in motion.  Garnish this with the fluctuation of a super dry and sunny environment to sopping wet.  Under these circumstances, organization becomes imperative to any successful sailing cook.

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This was an especially good morning with lots of prep help. That row of zippies makes a girl’s heart happy.
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My throwback prep crew from a couple of years ago. xoxo

Part of being organized is working ahead and having the prep work done before begining to heat up a pan or add flour to a bowl.  That’s where our morning team comes into action.  The first cups of coffee are awarded to those early morning risers who come to spend their time waking up with us by peeling carrots and chopping onions among a myriad of other tasks.  The more we can prep before breakfast, the smoother our day goes.  Every day.  Because much of our produce comes from either my garden or our CSA, more prep work is required.  Just think about the difference between de-ribbing a pound of spinach, washing, and then drying it OR zipping open a box of spinach.  Now times that by 20 and you have the difference in prep time between farm-grown and store-bought.

Annie
Thank you to all those who come to share our quiet mornings.

Zucchini Maple Pecan Cake – In Honor of Maine Maple Syrup

This cake, like many delightful life events, came to me by accident.  You see, it’s maple syrup time here in Maine and many of our friends with maple trees are boiling their sap.  Their weekends are taken by all-day boils and then sometimes even staying up late to tend the wood fires.  They are surrounded by steam, wood smoke, and enveloped eventually with the ultimate reward of sweet maple syrup.

Zucchini Maple Pecan Cake

We don’t have maple trees on our property, so this is not a family ritual for us, but to honor our friends and the heritage of Maine maple syrup, I wanted to create a cake without sugar and to replace it with maple syrup.  While I was at it, the idea of using coconut oil, a healthier oil than canola or vegetable oil nudged its way into my process.

This lovely number is delicious, if a tad less moist than the original cake.  I then conjured a glaze with a maple liqueur, given to me by a favorite Canadian guest, and the results were addictive.

Zucchini Maple Pecan Cake

Zucchini Maple Pecan Cake
1 teaspoon salted butter and flour for the pan
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup coconut oil
1 cup pure maple syrup
2 cups grated zucchini; about 1 medium (or a portion of a huge one)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Glaze
3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons Gélinotte or other maple liquor

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour one 9- x 13-inch pan. In a large bowl thoroughly mix the oil, maple syrup, zucchini, and vanilla extract. Add all the remaining ingredients. Mix well. Transfer to prepared pan.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed.

Glaze
Combine the butter, syrup, and liquor in a small bowl and while the cake is still warm, brush the top with the glaze mixture. It may seem like a lot at the beginning, but it will soak in (and be delicious). Cool in the pan and slice into 12 or 16 pieces.

Serves 12 to 16

 

 

Boat Magic with Yankee Magazine

For those of you who don’t live in Maine or New England, this month’s issue of Yankee Magazine might be a harder to come by, but if you can get your hands on a copy, do it!  Amy Traverso, accomplished writer, has given the Riggin wonderful kudos and Mark Flemming, photographer extraordinaire, adds a lovely balance to her words.

Recipes included in the article are Pecan Sticky Buns, Cornish Game Hens with Smoked Shrimp and Brandy Stuffing, Zucchini Gratin, and Lime Pie Jars.  You can also find these recipes in At Home. At Sea – The Red Book, 2nd Edition.

This is one of the best articles we’ve seen on our sweet girl and you should check it out.  #boatmagic!

Photo by Mark Flemming