Top 10 Gifts for the Bakers in Your Life

baking powder biscuits
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. 🙂

Annie
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)?

Holiday Baking – White Chocolate, Cranberry, Pecan Bars

The windows are slightly foggy in the corners and the house is filled with the redolent smells of baking chocolate, toasted coconut, and warm pecans.  Right now, there might not be anything more tempting.  All the while outside, the wind howls and the snow pelts the side of the house.  Occasionally, a large mound of snow will slide off the roof to announce itself and inside, we are warm and cozy, baking one of our many holiday gifts.  Later, when the wind dies down, I’ll go for a snow shoe in the field out back.  If it’s really late, I’ll cross my fingers the sky is clear and the moon lights the way.  Moments like these have me feeling grateful for family, warmth, small houses, little things, rosy cheeks, and Maine winters.

White Chocolate, Cranberry, Pecan, and Coconut Bars Photo by Elizabeth Poisson

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pecan Bars
We also called these Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Bars.  They first appeared in At Home, At Sea: Recipes from a Maine Windjammer and this is a riff on that original recipe.

Crust
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted (plus a little extra for the pan)
2 cups crushed vanilla wafers or graham crackers
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

Topping
6 ounces shaved white chocolate or white chocolate chips; about 1 1/4 cup
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Crust
Preheat oven to 300°F. Spread the coconut in a 9- x 13-inch pan and toast for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring two or three times. In a medium bowl, combine the graham crackers, melted butter, and toasted coconut. Lightly butter the 9- x 13-inch pan and then transfer the mixture, pressing firmly with your hands to pack evenly. Turn the oven temperature up to 325°F. Chill the pan for 15 minutes and then bake for 10 minutes or until it begins to turn golden.

Topping
Remove from oven and sprinkle the chocolate, cranberries, and pecans over the crust. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over all and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes or until the center begins to bubble just slightly.

Let cool on a wire rack and cut into 12 or 24 even pieces.

Makes 12 or 24 bars

Annie
P.S. Cookbooks make a wonderful holiday gift.  Just saying.

Nautical Holiday Cards – First 10 Orders Get One Free

All of these nautical holiday cards are for sale in our little online store.  Anyone interested in cookbooks for the foodies in your life can find them there as well.  The packs come in sets of 10 and the first 10 orders receive a pack of “Santa’s New Ride” for free.

Every one of these beauties was hand-painted by Jon, my super talented husband and the captain of the Riggin.  He’s got an eye for boats, that guy does.

Capt Jon Finger Nautical Holiday Cards numbered
Nautical holiday cards by Capt. Jon Finger

Cooking Class Complete

Getting ready to roll!

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.

Fun fall decorations outside the cooking school.
Using the garden as harvest decoration

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!

Working on the Poached Garlic and Thyme Soup

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.

One of our long-time guests and her friend arrived to lend support and fun. xo!
The mile long counter top, and I’m not kidding.

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.

Signing books and chatting with the peeps

Annie
Looking forward to the next time

Stonewall Kitchen Cooking Class

Stonewall Kitchen cooking class with Annie Mahle of the Schooner J. & E. Riggin

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

Poached Garlic Soup with Thyme and Red Pepper Cream
Cornish Game Hens with Smoked Shrimp and Brandy Stuffing over Greens
Leek and Carrot Parmesan Gratin
No-Knead Stirato Bread

Butterscotch-Topped Gingerbread with Sautéed Apples

Stonewall Kitchen cooking class with Annie Mahle of the Schooner J. & E. Riggin

Stonewall Kitchen cooking class with Annie Mahle of the Schooner J. & E. Riggin

As you might expect the kitchen is well-appointed and kitted with beautiful equipment.  I can’t wait to share some stories, some recipes, and lots of laughter with you all!
Details:  Friday, October 26th, from 11:30 to 1 p.m. at the York, Maine flagship store.
See you there!
Annie

Boat Magic with Yankee Magazine

For those of you who don’t live in Maine or New England, this month’s issue 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

 

Cook the Book: French Toast

French Toast

I will use almost any leftover bread for this recipe.  This is a good example of leftovers being better the second time around.

1 egg per person
1/2 cup milk per person
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4  teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4  teaspoon rum – if it’s for grown ups
Butter for the skillet
3 slices day-old Crusty Peasant or French bread per person

Combine all of the ingredients except the butter and bread.  Mix well. Heat the butter on a griddle or skillet over medium heat. While the pan is heating, soak the bread slices in the batter (be sure both sides are coated) and immediately place the slices on the heated skillet. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, flip the bread, and continue to cook until the other side is brown. Set the toast aside on a plate in a warm oven and continue cooking until all the bread is gone.

Variations:

I often make a special French Toast with cream cheese and jam in the center of two slices of bread.  Here are my favorite combinations

Cranberry Bread

Marmalade

Cream cheese

Pumpkin bread

Cream cheese

French bread

Raspberry jam

Cream cheese

Cook the Book: Beef Ragu with Fennel & Orange

Beef Ragu with Fennel and Orange

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds stew beef
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 large onion, diced
1 cup diced fennel
2 large carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
½ green pepper, diced
6 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons fennel seed
½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Zest of one orange
2 cups red wine
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

 

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Toss the beef, flour, salt, pepper and paprika in a bowl so the beef is coated with the flour. Place the beef in the pot and cook until browned. Add the onions, fennel, carrots, celery, peppers, garlic, spices, salt and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the orange zest, red wine and tomatoes.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours or until the meat is tender.

Serve with polenta

Cook the Book: Garbanzo Bean & Roasted Eggplant Salad

Garbanzo Bean & Roasted Eggplant Salad

1 eggplant
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 bunch minced parsley
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
2 16-ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained

Preheat oven to 400°. Pierce the skin of the eggplant several times with a fork.  Place the whole eggplant in a baking dish and roast it for 20 to 30 minutes (until you can squeeze it and it’s soft).  Cool the eggplant, scoop it out of the skin, and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes. Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper and gently toss the mixture with the eggplant and remaining ingredients and serve.

Serves 4-6.

Cook the Book: Tomato, Leek, Brie Linguini

Tomato, Leek, Brie Linguini

1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large leek, cut in half lengthwise, thoroughly washed, and thinly sliced
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
3 tablespoons white wine
4 ounces brie
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare enough linguini for two while making the sauce. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté it briefly. Add the leeks and cook until tender. Add the tomatoes and wine; bring the sauce to a simmer, then whisk in the brie a few pieces at a time. When the brie is melted, season to taste with salt and pepper, toss with the linguini and serve.

Serves 2.