Cook the Book – Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper and Couscous Salad

Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper and Couscous Salad

3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups couscous
1 large red pepper, roasted, seeded, and diced
1/4 cup minced chives
3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Several grinds on the pepper mill
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Bring the water and salt to a boil.  Add the chicken and reduce the heat until the liquid is just below a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Reserve 2 cups of the liquid, remove the chicken from the rest of the liquid, and set the chicken aside to cool. Bring the reserved liquid to a boil and remove from heat.  Stir in the couscous, cover, and let it sit for 5 minutes. Dice the cooled chicken. Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients. Fluff the couscous with a fork; toss it with the vinaigrette, chicken, and remaining ingredients.

Serves 6-8

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Cook the Book – Cranberry Almond Biscotti

Cranberry-Almond Biscotti

A passenger of ours, Lauren Hubbell, gave this recipe to me.  To dress them up a bit, dip one end of the biscotti into melted semi-sweet chocolate and place on waxed paper to cool.  Biscotti are crunchy and store well.  They’re excellent for dipping into coffee, hot cocoa, or whatever you’d like.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups dried cranberries
1 cup whole almonds

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease one cookie pan. Mix together all the ingredients.  The dough will be stiff and sticky. Grease your hands well and form the dough into 2 logs (1 x 2 x 15 inches) place on the greased cookie pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the logs from pan to rack and cool for 5-10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°. While still warm, slice the logs at an angle into 3/4-inch slices.  Place the slices on an ungreased cookie pan and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on rack.

Makes 2 dozen

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Cook the Book – Focaccia


We usually have focaccia at some point during the week on the boat.  I make it with several of the toppings, below, for lunch, or as an accompaniment to an entrée.

1 1/2  tablespoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cornmeal for dusting

Combine the yeast, salt, and flour in a large bowl. Stir in all the remaining ingredients, reserving 1/4 cup water.  Add more water if needed. Knead for 10-15 minutes. Oil the bowl and the top of the dough, cover, and set aside in a warm, draft free place to rise until doubled (about 1 hour). Preheat oven to 350° and oil two cookie pans. After the first rise divide the dough and place half on each pan.  Work both pieces flat either with your hands or with a rolling pin.  If the dough is fighting you (keeps shrinking back when you stretch it), just let it rest for 5 minutes and continue until it reaches the edge of the cookie pan. Oil the top of the dough and let it rise until doubled.  Press your fingers quickly into the dough all over the surface as if you were playing the piano and then dust with both salt and pepper.  Bake until golden brown (around 35 minutes).

Makes 2 focaccia

Some of my favorite focaccia toppings:

Green Olive Tapenade and Goat Cheese
Ricotta and Prosciutto
Caramelized Onion, Sautéed Green and Red Peppers with Onion
Red Onion, Mushroom and Parmesan Cheese

Stovetop Focaccia

Our good friend Jim Amaral is a baker and owns a fabulous statewide bakery called Borealis Breads.  He uses organic wheat grown by farmers in Aroostook County (“The County” as it’s called, covers most of Northern Maine) and has done more for the quality of bread making in the state than any other business around.  He and his family came sailing with us a few years ago and when he saw my woodstove, his first comment was about how great it would be to bake flat bread on TOP of the stove.  Of course I’m used to cooking stews and the like on top of the stove, but baking bread had never occurred to me.  We tested it out that week in many different ways.  After several tries and the indignity of having smoke billowing from my galley, I now use the stovetop at least once a week, most often to make a basic focaccia.  I clear the pots off of the stove and then clean it.  I don’t oil it because of the aforementioned smoke, but simply throw down a fairly thin piece of dough directly on the stove surface.  I find myself needing to move it frequently as there are many hot spots that will scorch the bread.  Once I’ve flipped the bread over, I oil it and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.  This bread should be served immediately.

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Cook the Book – Summer Vegetable Strata

Summer Vegetable Strata


12 slices of day old or dry French or Italian Bread, cut in 1/2-inch slices
1 clove garlic, slightly crushed
5 large eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup loosely packed fresh chopped basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 medium summer squash or zucchini, washed and cut into quarters lengthwise, then cut into pieces about 1/2-inch thick
2 tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.  Lightly butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Rub the top of each slice of bread with the garlic clove. Lay the slices in the dish in one layer, cutting them into pieces when necessary. Season lightly with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs then whisk in the milk, half of the cheese, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Add the basil and stir gently.  Set aside. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens and colors lightly. Stir the squash into the onion, spread everything in a single layer, and let it sit undisturbed for 1 to 2 minutes to encourage browning; turn and continue cooking another 1 to 2 minutes until browned. When the squash is lightly browned on both sides, stir in the tomatoes, stir to toss, and remove from heat. Use a slotted spoon to drain off any excess liquid and spread the vegetables evenly over the bread. Give the milk and egg mixture a stir and gently pour it all into the dish. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake until the milk and egg mixture sets, about 40-45 minutes. Cool at least 5 minutes, cut into squares and serve.

Serves 6-8

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Cook the Book – Couscous & Chickpea Salad

Couscous and Chickpea Salad

1 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked couscous
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
2 small red bell peppers, seeded and diced
4 scallions, minced
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 cup pitted and diced Kalamata olives
3/4 cup chopped fresh mint (save a few sprigs for garnish)
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese

Bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the couscous, stir briefly, cover, and remove from heat.  Let it sit 5 minutes. While the couscous is sitting whisk together the vinegar, garlic, mustard, sugar, and olive oil. Fluff the couscous then toss it with the in the chickpeas, peppers, scallions, carrots, olives, and vinegar mixture. Add the feta cheese, chill, and serve.

Serves 6-8

Cook the Book – Mom’s Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

Mom’s Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

This dressing will hold in the refrigerator for two weeks.

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 to 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup salad oil

Pulse all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor. With the food processor running, gradually add the oil (this doesn’t need to be slow, just don’t dump it in all at once).

Makes approximately 1 cup

Cook the Book – Drop Strawberry Shortcake

Whether you pick or grow your own, or you pick up a quart at the local farm stand or farmers market – these sweet, juicy red beauties are a summertime favorite.

Fresh strawberries just picked from Chef Annie Mahle's garden

Drop Strawberry Shortcake

1 quart strawberries washed and sliced
3/4 cup sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold, unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk

Whipped Cream:
1 cup cream
3 tb sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Mix the sliced strawberries and sugar together in a large bowl and set aside for at least 1/2 hour (to allow the juice to develop). In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, zest, and nutmeg. Cut in the butter using a pastry knife or fingertips until coarsely mixed. Stir in the buttermilk until the mixture is just blended. Drop onto an ungreased baking pan and bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. When the biscuits are done, whip the cream, sugar, and extract. To serve, cut the shortcakes in half, spoon the berries on top of the bottom half of the shortcake, place the top half of the shortcake on the berries, and top with whipped cream.

Serves 6-8

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Cook the Book – Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread goes perfect with New England Boiled Dinner and of course the perfect side for your St Patrick’s Day dinner.

There are several theories as to the significance of the cross in soda bread. Some believe that the cross was placed in the bread to ward off evil (the devil) or to let the fairies out of the bread.

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2  teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 cup currants
1 1/2 cups sour milk

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Mix in the sugar, caraway seeds and raisins.
Stir in the milk until a ball forms. Turn onto floured board and knead until smooth (about 5-10 turns). Cut the dough in half and shape into two 6″ round loaves. Place the loaves on the cookie pan. Make two cuts on top of the loaves in the shape of a cross.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Makes 2 loaves

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

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Cook the Book – Toasted Oatmeal

Toasted Oatmeal

When I have extra time in the early morning, I’ll make the oatmeal this way.  This calls for steel cut oats, but I make it with the old fashioned oats and it’s just as delicious.  The aroma of the toasting is really cozy.

 3 cups water
1 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup steel cut oats

Bring the water, milk, and salt to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat until it just begins to foam; add the oats and toast, stirring constantly, with a wooden spoon, until golden and fragrant, about 1½ to 2 minutes.

Stir the toasted oats into the simmering liquid; reduce heat to medium-low; simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, about 40 minutes (20 minutes for old-fashioned oats). 

Remove from heat and let the oatmeal stand, uncovered, for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 6-8

Cook the Book – Chai Tea

Chai Tea

Chai tea is an Indian drink that has become popular in coffee houses.  It’s a nice alternative to hot chocolate. I make a batch of the spice base all at once so it’s always available.

1 bag of tea (orange pekoe or your favorite)
1 teaspoon spice base (below)
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar 

In a small saucepan, bring the water, tea bag and 1 teaspoon of the spice mix to a boil; remove from heat and steep approximately 5 minutes. Add the milk and sugar; return the pan to the stove over medium-high heat and continue to heat until the liquid is hot but not boiling.  Serve immediately.

Spice base

4 tablespoons ground cinnamon or 8 sticks
2 tablespoons cardamom seeds (try to buy them without the pods.  If they are in the pods, remove the pods and measure just the seeds)
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
8 whole star anise

Grind the spice base ingredients together in a food processor or spice grinder until finely ground. You can store the mixture in an airtight container for months.

Makes ½ cup spice base, 2 cups tea.

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