Fettuccine with Chicken, Mushrooms, and Caramelized Onions

Every week over the course of the summer, a new brown paper bag of mushrooms arrive from Oyster Creek Mushrooms.  It’s always a surprise and it’s always delicious.  Almost any mushroom will do in this recipe, and sometimes, in the winter, when our CSA is inactive, I use button mushroom which are also wonderful in this dish.

This happens to be one of E’s favorites and is in my cookbook, Sugar & Salt: The Blue Book.

Fettuccine with Chicken, Mushrooms, and Caramelized Onions

Fettuccine with Chicken, Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions
This recipe is perfect for using up leftovers from a whole roasted chicken. If you don’t have cooked chicken handy, you can use uncooked, boneless chicken – 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of chicken tenders, breasts, or thighs, cut into 1/4-inch slices. Just add the chicken at the same time as the mushrooms instead of at the end of the recipe and increase the cooking time to 10 minutes.

1 pound fettuccine
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups sliced onions; about 2 small to medium onions
10 ounces mushrooms, sliced; about 4 cups
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups cooked chicken, pulled into 1-inch pieces
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese; 1/2 cup lightly packed

Following the instructions on the package, bring water for the fettuccine to a boil. While the water is heating, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat; once the oil is hot, add the onions. Sauté the onions for 20 minutes, reducing heat to medium-low when the pan begins to brown slightly. When the onions are tender and golden brown, add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the wine, return the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Begin cooking the pasta following the package instructions. Add the heavy cream to the onion/mushroom pan and bring to a boil again. Add the chicken and continue cooking for a few more minutes, stirring frequently, until the chicken is heated through; serve over the pasta with Parmesan as a garnish.

Serves 4 to 6 generously

Annie
P.S. Jean, if you are cooking for only 2 people, this recipe will freeze well.  Just saying.  🙂

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

 

Lemon Curd Cheesecake – Bake Ahead Holiday Dessert

Outside the windchill is frigid. Inside, there is a cheesecake in the oven, the house feels toasty warm, and the Christmas tree is up and decorated. As of yet, there are only a few gifts beneath it, so it’s still open for viewing – from the bottom up.

I lie under the tree with the room lights off and the tree lights fully illuminated and breathe in. The scent of pine floats over, and the soft white light causes the whole tree to glow.

This view of the tree became a tradition in our house when our girls were little. One of them was rolling on the floor close to the tree having a tantrum when she suddenly stopped cold. She’d looked up and become absorbed by how the light hit the branches and reflected off of the ornaments in rainbow prisms and sparkles. All vestiges of the tantrum evaporated in a single moment of distraction. We got down on the floor with her, wanting to reward her new, calm behavior. And we became absorbed too.

The girls are older now, but we’ve carried on the tradition. Today, whoever is needing a moment of calm and peace simply squeezes under the tree to absorb the glow and the scent. Most of our holiday traditions are that way – simple.

I find that if I can remember that one word, “simple,” my holidays nourish the soul. If not, well, you’ve been there too.

So I wish you simple this season – in all things, including cheesecake recipes.

Lemon Curd Cheesecake

These two recipes highlight two different ways of easing a cheesecake in and out of baking – slowly raising and lowering the temperature of the batter – to prevent it from drying out or cracking. One uses steam, the other a water bath or, to use the technical term, a bain marie.

Cheesecakes are easily frozen and thawed, should you want to get ahead of the holiday craziness and make it ahead of time. Remove the cheesecake from its springform pan and place it on a cardboard round, then either wrap well or place in a large plastic container with a lid and freeze. It will thaw in several hours at room temperature, then keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.

The tricks to making a successful cheesecake are simple.  They also make sense when you understand the reason behind them.

Eggs, a major component of cheesecakes, don’t like to be heated quickly or subject to high heat.  Instead they like to be handled gently and with a little tender loving care.  They freak out when the heat is too fast or too high, curdling or puffing up, both of which we don’t want in a cheesecake.  This is why having all ingredients at room temperature to begin with helps.  Another trick is some sort of water – either in the form of steam or a water bath, to mitigate the formation of a crust and to gentle the heat.  Lastly, letting the cheesecake cool down in the oven helps gentle the change in heat and prevents those craters we don’t want to see in our cheesecakes.

Vanilla Cheesecake
Adapted from a recipe given to me by Ed Quinn. Leave the cream cheese on the counter for 1 hour to reach room temperature.

Serves 12

Crust:
1 1/4 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus a little extra for the pan

Cheesecake:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
5 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup vanilla-flavored liqueur, such as homemade bourbon vanilla or French Vanilla Kahlua
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Lightly grease a 10-inch springform pan. To make the crust, mix the wafers and butter together in a small bowl. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

To make the cheesecake, place a large pan on the lowest rack of your oven and fill it with water to produce steam as the cheesecake bakes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the cream cheese in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Gradually add the sugar and cornstarch. Add the cream and mix well. The mixture will resemble whipped cream. Add the whole eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the egg yolk, liqueur and vanilla and mix well. Pour the batter over the crust. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 200 degrees F and bake for 60 to 70 minutes. When the cheesecake is done, the center should no longer look wet or shiny but should still be jiggly. Turn the oven off and keep the oven door closed. Let the cake cool in the oven for 2 hours, then remove, cover and refrigerate at least 3 to 4 hours.

When you are ready to serve it, release the cake from the pan by running a thin knife around its edge. To make clean cuts, dip the knife in hot water after each slice.

Lemon Curd Cheesecake
I’m afraid I’ve forgotten who gave me this recipe, but whoever you are – thank you! Leave the cream cheese on the counter for 1 hour to reach room temperature.

Serves 12

Crust:
2 whole graham crackers, finely ground
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake:
3 (8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lemon curd:
2 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
6 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup crème fraîche
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

To make the cheesecake, preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Brush the inside of a 10-inch springform pan with butter and sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs, tilting and tapping the pan to coat evenly. Place the pan over two layers of aluminum foil and pull up the sides. This is to prevent water from the water bath from leaking into your pan. Place both the pan and the foil in a large roasting pan and bring a pot of water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and then the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Pour the batter into the springform pan. Move the roasting pan into the oven, then pour boiling water into it to come at least halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake 60 to 70 minutes or until the cheesecake is set but the center is still jiggly. Turn the oven off, keep the oven door closed and cool the cheesecake in the oven for 2 hours. Remove the cake and the water bath from the oven.

Prepare the lemon curd about 1 hour before the cheesecake is ready.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, whisk the yolks, eggs, sugar, lemon zest and juice. Heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens to a mound, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and add the crème fraîche. Stir in the butter, one-third at a time.

Strain the curd through a fine-meshed sieve to remove any egg you inadvertently scrambled, then spread it on top of the cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate the cheesecake 3 to 4 hours.

When you are ready to serve it, release the cake from the pan by running a thin knife around its edge. To make clean cuts, dip the knife in hot water after each slice.

Baked Brie – Holiday Appetizers for a Crowd

Entertaining equals stress in many home kitchens, but fear not. It needn’t be this way! The trick is to choose wisely and plan ahead. Even if you like to fly by the seat of your pants and let the choices reveal themselves to you. Even if you aren’t a planner. Now is the time to step out of your usual pattern and be kind to yourself by spending a little time thinking and organizing. Then let the rest go.

Clean ahead, set the table ahead, shop ahead, bake ahead. Choose simple but elegant menus. And then enjoy your guests, your clean house and your delicious food.

The appetizers offered here are ones in just this category. Because you’ll be adding lots of flavor to the brie, choose brands that are on the lower end of the price spectrum – ones that you might not choose for a cheese platter, but that will be perfect for the addition of a funky or traditional topping.

Wishing you calm, serene moments with your family and friends.

Crushed Pretzel and Garlic-Crusted Baked Brie

1 8-ounce wheel of brie
1/2 cup crushed pretzels; about 3 pretzel rods
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese, about 1/3 cup lightly packed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic, about 1 clove garlic
Several grinds fresh black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the wheel of brie on an oven proof serving platter or a pie tin. To crush the pretzel rods, place them on a cutting board and roll over them with a rolling pin. The pieces want to be the size of peas, not pulverized into crumbs. In a small bowl, combine the pretzels, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic and pepper. Mix well and mound the mixture on top of the brie wheel. Some will fall off; this is fine. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is beginning to brown and get crispy and the brie has softened and is pliable but the surface is still unbroken.

Serves 8 to 12 as an appetizer.

VARIATIONS on the above recipe:

Almond, Cranberry, and Brown Sugar
1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine in a small bowl and mound over brie as in above recipe and bake.

Walnuts and Lemon Marmalade
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons lemon marmalade
Pinch of salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine in a small bowl and mound over brie as in above recipe and bake.

Herb and Sun-Dried Tomato
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until completely combined. Top brie as in above recipe and bake.

Black Olive Tapenade
You can make the tapenade up to two weeks in advance, as it gets better with time. This spread is great as an appetizer with goat cheese as well.

1 cup dried Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons capers
2 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup packed fresh Italian parsley
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Because the capers are so salty, soak them in fresh water for a few minutes to release some of the salt. Drain them after soaking. Puree all the ingredients in a food processor. Refrigerate until ready to serve if making ahead or top brie as in above recipe.

Makes 1 cup

Cook, Sip, and Sail Away on Penobscot Bay – a Maine Gourmet Feast

Join us on the Schooner J. & E. Riggin for a unique Maine Gourmet Feast! Come savor the best of Maine’s local foodways on this 4-day foodie adventure!

Maine Gourmet Cruise

Meals will feature the best of the best: oysters from Pemaquid Oyster Company, produce from acclaimed Hope’s Edge Farm, award-winning cheese from Appleton Creamery and Hahn’s End. Every night will feature a different specialty cocktail demo (be sure to bring your own vodka, gin, and whiskey!). Come join us and celebrate the outstanding local food MidCoast Maine is famed for and celebrate the release of the newest cookbook Sugar & Salt Book Two – The Orange Book.

This delectable foodie cruise will take place on our Maine Windjammer, the Schooner J. & E. Riggin from August 1st – 4th (2016)  at only $650 per person.

Annie
Cooking (and sipping) away on Penobscot Bay

Cook the Book: Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potato

Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potato

3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large sweet potatoes or three small, cut into a total of 6 pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°. Melt the butter and the cinnamon. Place the potatoes in a baking pan and toss with the melted butter and cinnamon mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 1 hour, until the potatoes are tender.

Serves 4 – 6.

Cook the Book – Spinach Gorgonzola Soup

Spinach & Gorgonzola Soup

1/4  cup (1/2 stick) butter
3 large onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons thyme
4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
5 ounces spinach, washed and julienned
2 cups peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes

Melt the butter in a stockpot over medium-high heat; add the onion, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the Gorgonzola and chicken stock; bring the stock to a simmer then purée it in a blender or food processor. Place the spinach in the stockpot and cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and puréed stock, simmer, and serve.

Serves 4-6

Cook the Book – Fresh Lime Pie

While we lived in the Caribbean, key limes were abundant and anything having to do with them brings me back to the beaches and the markets of the islands.  While I wouldn’t trade for one second living in Maine for anywhere else, a small hiatus during the muddiest part of the season wouldn’t be amiss!

Key limes are touted for having a very special taste and while they are really wonderful freshly squeezed into drinks (especially the rum variety), on grilled fish or in a salsa, I’m surprised to say that they don’t really make a big difference in this recipe.  I tested using both kinds of limes and the pies were a tie each time.

Key limes are smaller, rounder and have a thinner skin than the Persian or Tahitian limes we more often see in the North.  When you are looking for limes, choose ones that have lighter green skins and are a little softer as opposed to the ones that are deep green and hard.  Key limes will sometimes tend toward yellow and this is fine too.

It’s common in lime pies to have a layer of whipped cream on the top of the pie, but I opted for a lighter version with a much smaller amount of whipped cream.  The pie is creamy and rich enough as it is and the small amount of cream is a nice balance to the tartness of the limes.  This dessert would also be a nice ending to spicy grilled fish or grilled chicken with a mango or pepper salsa.

Fresh Lime Pie

1 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 325°. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter together in a medium bowl. Press the mixture into an 8 or 9-inch pie pan and chill about 15 minutes. Bake until the crust is firm and crisp (about 10 minutes). In a medium bowl, combine the condensed milk, lime juice, egg yolks and vanilla and beat until smooth and thick. In a separate bowl, beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Add the sugar to the whites and continue beating until stiff.  Fold the whites into the lime mixture and turn into the prepared shell. Bake until the filling is set, about 15 minutes.  Cool and serve.

Makes 6 servings

Photo from Google Images – credit unknown

Cook the Book – Bourbon Street Bread Pudding

Bourbon Street Bread Pudding

This is one of my favorites – and I don’t even like bread pudding!

Pudding:
Day-old French bread, sliced 1-inch thick, enough to cover the bottom of a 9-inch square pan.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
5 eggs
2 cups heavy cream
Dash of cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup raisins

Bourbon Sauce:
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
Dash of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup water
1/4 cup bourbon

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Arrange the sliced bread in one layer in the bottom of the pan.  If there are large gaps cut some pieces to fit. Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, cream, cinnamon, vanilla and raisins and mix well. Pour the mixture over the bread and let stand for at least 5 minutes. Turn the bread over and let stand another 10 minutes. Cover the pan with foil and place it in a larger pan filled halfway with warm tap water.  Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  The custard should still be soft when done. Remove the pudding from the oven and the water bath and allow it to cool a few minutes. While the pudding is cooling, combine all the sauce ingredients except for the bourbon in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Continue to boil until the sauce has thickened so it coats the back of a spoon.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the bourbon.  Keep warm. Cut the pudding into squares and serve with the warm sauce.

Makes 9 servings

Cook the Book – Chocolate Mint Bars

Chocolate Mint Bars

This is one that my family would make every Christmas.  My brothers and I could eat a pan of these in no time flat.

Bars:
2/3 cup shortening
4 squares chocolate
2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Frosting:
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) softened butter
2 tablespoons milk or cream
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Glaze:
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Melt the shortening and chocolate in a double boiler.  Cool. Beat in the sugar, eggs and vanilla. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix well. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a fork inserted in the bars comes out clean.  Cool in the pan. Beat the frosting ingredients together until light and creamy then frost the bars. Melt the glaze ingredients in a double boiler, cool slightly then pour the glaze over the frosting.  Tilt the pan to spread the glaze. Cut into bars.

Makes 24