Cook the Book – Lorraine’s Nectarine-Blueberry Bread

Lorraine, one of the owners of the Victory Chimes, gave this recipe to me when I was running the galley for them.

Lorraine’s Nectarine-Blueberry Bread

3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 medium nectarine, peeled and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 cup fresh blueberries

Almond and Sugar Topping
2/3 cup chopped almonds
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease one loaf pan. Cream the sugar and butter together in a bowl.Add the eggs and mix well. Sift all the dry ingredients on top of the mixture and mix until just blended. Gently stir in the fruit.  Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Mix the almonds and sugar together and sprinkle the mixture over the batter.  Bake until the bread springs back when gently pressed (about 1 hour).

Makes 1 loaf

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Cook the Book – Roasted Mushroom and Artichoke Sauce

I love artichokes any way you cook them.  But this tangy, creamy sauce is one of my favorites.  When artichokes are on sale, I’ll get a bunch of them and serve this sauce on the boat for pasta night.  It used to be that I’d only serve one sauce, but then my energetic side got the better of me (coinciding with the girls getting a little older) and I now serve at least two, if not three sauces.  I know the list of ingredients is long, but really, they are all worth it.

Roasted Mushroom and Artichoke Sauce

1 pound whole, clean button mushrooms
Olive oil as needed
Salt as needed
Freshly ground black pepper as needed

2 fresh artichokes
Juice from one lemon

2 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, diced
9 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock (or more)
2 cups diced fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded or one 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons Marsala wine
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons fresh, minced basil
2 teaspoons fresh, minced thyme
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Preheat oven to 450°. Place the mushrooms on a roasting pan; and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the mushrooms for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool and slice the mushrooms. Set aside. Trim and cut the artichokes into eighths. Take the choke out with a spoon (that’s the fuzzy part). Fill a bowl with water and add the lemon juice and artichokes. Heat a large pot on medium-high heat. Melt the butter then add the onions, salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium.  Cook, stirring frequently, until they are caramelized (20-30 minutes). Sprinkle the flour on top of the onions; stir for a minute or so. Add the chicken stock and stir vigorously. Add the tomatoes, Marsala, cream, herbs and reserved mushrooms and bring to simmer. Add the cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the artichokes and cook until they are done, about 20 minutes. Serve on top of linguini or fettuccini and garnish with the Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4-6

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Cook the Book – Zucchini and Mushroom Frittata

The chickens have hit their stride and are now gracing us with up to one dozen eggs a day.  This is most welcome as in the heart of winter, one or two eggs a day is common.  A person can only take this ratio so long before they begin to question, “Why exactly:  do we have chickens/am I buying organic feed/am I trudging through knee deep snow to replenish frozen water?”  Just about the time I begin to seriously consider sending a few older hens to the stew pot, the producers of the gang redeem the whole and they return to the safe zone in my mind.

As the girls can’t sell as many eggs as the hens produce right now, eggs are for dinner more frequently.  This frittata recipe is one I use on the boat all the time for breakfast.  On shore, we have it for dinner with a simply dressed green salad.  I switch up the cheese and the veggies all the time.

Zucchini and Mushroom Frittata

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
8 medium mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 medium green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon basil, minced
1 tablespoon thyme, minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
8 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°.  Heat a 9 or 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Cook the veggies and garlic until soft. Whisk the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and pour the mixture over the veggies. Bake until the frittata has puffed up, around 30 to 40 minutes.

Serves 4 to 6 generously


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Cook the Book – Braised Lamb Shanks with Thyme, Cinnamon and Fennel

We hauled yesterday evening to a chilly, darkening sky.  It’s now drizzly wet and not too cold and everyone is down working on the through hull fittings, spraying the bottom with the pressure washer to remove a year’s worth of muck and growth and setting up staging for the sanding and painting portion of the program.

This is exactly the kind of day that calls for one of those long, simmering stews while the oven gives off the welcomed radiant heat that warms chilled fingers and bones.

If I were a nicer boss, I’d be making this for my crew tonight.  But I’m not, so I won’t.  Instead, I’m off to test some baking recipes which they’ll get to have for an afternoon break.  And hey, I did whip up dinner for them last night though, in all honesty, I tried to whip up a store bought pizza from our local pizzeria about 10 minutes before closing time.  And then got the busy signal for the next 1o minutes.  Trust me.  No restaurant is that busy at 7:50pm.  On a Thursday night.  In Rockland, Maine.  And then, of course, at 8:01 I got the machine.  I’m blonde, but I’m not that dense.

So, instead, we had the perfect comfort food – sloppy joes.  Good mama.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Thyme, Cinnamon and Fennel

4 lamb shanks, 3/4- to 1-pound each
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 medium onions, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 large parsnips, chopped
4 large fresh thyme sprigs
2 whole garlic heads; unpeeled, cut in half horizontally
1 cup dry red wine
5 cups chicken stock
1 large orange, peeled, quartered and pith cut away
2 whole cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375°. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in large, heavy-duty, ovenproof pot over high heat. Add the lamb and cook until brown on all sides (about 10 minutes). Remove the lamb and keep warm. Add the butter to the drippings in the pot. Add the onion, carrots, parsnips, thyme, and garlic.  Sauté until the vegetables soften and begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and boil until the liquid is reduced almost to a glaze, about 4 minutes. Return the lamb shanks to the pot, arranging them in a single layer. Add the stock, orange, cinnamon sticks, and fennel seeds; bring to boil. Place the pot in the oven and cook, uncovered, until tender, turning and basting often (about 2 hours 15 minutes). Transfer the lamb to a plate and keep warm. Strain the braising liquid into a bowl and spoon off the fat. Return the liquid to the pot.  Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Return the lamb to the pot; cover and warm over medium-low heat 10 to 15 minutes, until the lamb is completely reheated. Serve.

Serves 4

Off to test recipes

Photo credit (as always!) Elizabeth Poisson

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A Weekend in Maine

My Maine weekend:

  1. tap maple trees
  2. go up and down the hill what seems like one million times for items left in one place or the other
  3. take  scenic drive
  4. go for a swim with the girls
  5. cut up tree that fell over in the last big storm
  6. cut down the rest of the tree with the help of all the neighbors’ advice and tools
  7. buck up part of the tree for fire wood
  8. save one big log to use on the schooner and drag it over to the side of the barn with a line and a truck

I told a friend of mine in New York City about my weekend and he said, “Could you be any more of a cliche?”


Cook the Book – Fruit Compote

Fruit Compote

This is great on top of the toasted oatmeal recipe we shared last week, which is how we serve it on the boat.  In the winter, my daughters Ella and Chlöe like it warmed up for breakfast with a little yogurt or milk in it.

Below is my favorite combination of fruits, but I’ve also used currants, dried cranberries and dried blueberries.  I would use these on special occasions.  You can use a little rum or Grand Marnier in place of ¼ cup of the apple juice. And it tastes even better the next day!

1 cup dried apricots, whole or chopped 
1 cup raisins
1 cup prunes, whole or chopped
1 apple, cored, peeled, and diced
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups apple juice 

Put all the ingredients into a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until fruit is all cooked together, around 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve warm or cold.

Recipe from At Home, At Sea: Recipes from the Maine Windjammer J&E Riggin by Anne Mahle

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Cranberry Syrup

A friend called yesterday and asked what would be local and suitable to bring to a brunch with pancakes or french toast. Local fruit in Maine? In November? Cranberries of course! And perfect for around Thanksgiving. After giving her the basics over the phone, I got the creative bug and decided to make pancakes for the girls this morning and test the cranberry syrup recipe while I was at it. I then made this quick french toast with some leftover, stale baguette. One egg, a little milk, a sprinkle of sugar, soak the bread, butter into the pan and ta da… pretty picture. And my lunch. Yum.

The interesting bit of discovery that came from making the syrup is that when it cooled, it was more like jam. When I heated it up again, it became more liquidy. The way it set up indicates that cranberries have a lot of pectin in them, the thickening agent often used in jams and jellies. It would probably make a great mate with other berries in a jam project although I’ve never tried it due to the fact that cranberries are not in season when other berries are.

Cranberry Syrup
1 1/2 cup cranberries
1 cup water (or more if you like the syrup a little looser)
1 cup sugar pinch of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, split

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Mash the cranberries once they’ve popped with a potato masher. You can strain this sauce, but I preferred it with all the cranberry bits. Serve hot.

Makes about 1 cup


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Maine Ingredient – All About Squash

Squash and pumpkins come in a myriad of shapes and sizes some endearing and some impressive.  Some pretty or cute and some, well, just downright ugly.  No matter about what they look like on the outside though, because it’s the flavorful inside that counts.  The seeds and the flesh.

Pumpkins and squash at the farm

I find that many squashes can be used interchangeably although each kind has it’s own individual flavor and texture.

Two of my recipes that ran today in the Portland Press Herald column are:

Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Butter and Spinach
Delicata Squash and Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon and Chive Cream Fraiche

We just had the Pumpkin Ravioli with a Spinach Salad – more greens, yeah! – last night for dinner.  Perfect fall meal.

Thinking up more things to do with all the squash from the farmer’s market

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Russian Penne

When I made this recipe this week, I wouldn’t tell anyone what was in it until they tried it.  Then I shared.  Knowing that the combination of ingredients don’t sound good unless you are a desperate vegetarian or have a bumper cabbage crop.  Turns out, the combination hits you just right when you want a cosy pasta dish filled with gooey cheese and healthy veggies.

This is a recipe that harks back to a time when Jon and I were vegetarians and ate more cheese than two people should ever consume in one year.  We wanted to see if we felt healthier by a change our eating habits.  And while it’s true, we did eat more vegetables, we also ate a ri-di-cu-lous amount of cheese.  No surprise that we didn’t feel much different at the end of our vegetarian year.  The reason for so much cheese? – we were looking for the big boosts of flavor that meat can bring to food and cheese was the solution for us.  Of course now, there are all sorts of great vegetarian cookbooks that would help us build flavor in our food without adding so much dairy.   Turns out we couldn’t wait that long and only lasted a year before we succumbed to burgers and bacon.  Molly Katzen’s cookbook, Moosewood Cookbook, was one of the few highlights of that year and I still use the dog eared, grease-stained copy.

Russian Penne
Adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen

1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup grated cheddar
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 diced scallions
1 diceded green pepper
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 pounds sliced mushrooms
1 shredded carrot
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 cups uncooked penne
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
several grinds of fresh black pepper

Cook the penne in salted boiling water until just underdone.  Drain and reserve.  Over medium-high heat, melt the butter and saute the cabbage, green pepper, mushroom and carrot.  Combine everything in the pasta pot or large bowl.

Bake in a buttered 9×13 pan, covered, at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Serves 6-8

I dare you to try it!

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Lavender Chicken with Sea Salt and Roasted Baby Carrots

Roast chicken is one of my favorite meals;  I love it rubbed and roasted with just salt and pepper.  But when I feel like playing, herbs are the first place I go.  Lavender might not be the first herb you think of when cooking, an herb that comes more to mind when thinking of bath soaps or pot pourri. The taste, however, is similar to rosemary with a lemon and citrus taste and a bit more delicate, more summery tasting. The place you see it most in cooking and may not have known is in a dried herb mixture called Herbs de Provence, where it’s combined with other herbs like thyme, rosemary and marjoram in differing combinations.

You can of course roast the chicken whole, but I’ve shortened the cooking time by butterflying the chicken. You get a wonderfully crispy skin, with out so much heat in the kitchen. If you prep it before work, you can have dinner ready in a little over an hour.

Lavender Chicken with Sea Salt
Roasting the chicken with the lemon underneath is a great way to add flavor and moisture to the dish.  The best place to find lavender is in your own garden (or a friend’s).  In the summertime I use fresh lavender and in the winter dried.  Dried is a more pungent, and still very tasty.

4-6 pound chicken
2 tablespoons lavender
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 lemon, cut into 3 big slices
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the small bag on the inside of the chicken and then cut off any excess fat around the opening. Place the lemon slices and the gizzards (what’s in the bag that was inside the chicken) on a roasting pan. Cut the chicken in half, splitting the breastbone, but not cutting through the spine on the other side. Open the chicken up like you would a book. Rub the whole chicken with the lavender, salt and pepper and lay flat on top of the lemon slices and gizzards, breast side up.

Roast for 1 – 1 1/2 hours depending on how large the chicken is. It is done when an internal thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 170-175 degrees.  Remove and let rest for 15 minutes. Carve and serve with roasted baby carrots.

Serves 4-6

Roasted Baby Carrots

1 pound baby carrots, well scrubbed

Twenty minutes before you are ready to remove the chicken from the oven, Scatter the carrots over the roasting pan. Stir once and to coat with the juice in the pan and roast for 20 minutes. It’s not necessary to add salt or pepper, the seasoning will come from the chicken juices.

Loving the smell of roasting chicken in my galley

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