Annie on TV! – 207 and Rob Caldwell

Once again, I made my way down to Portland through snow and sleet to do a taping of a Mushroom and Chicken Pot Pie for 207’s comfort food segment.  Rob and the NBC affiliate, WCSH6, as always, was the perfect host and here we are having a good time cooking together.

Mushroom and Chicken Pot Pie on WCSH’s 207

It’s a quick, fun watch.

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.


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


Cream cheese

Pumpkin bread

Cream cheese

French bread

Raspberry jam

Cream cheese

The Fall Bounty – Creamy Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

Creamy Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup onions, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash (or 1/2 butternut squash), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pear, peeled, cored and minced
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup sherry
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, over medium high heat, melt butter and sauté the onions, celery and garlic.  When they are translucent, add the squash, pear and nutmeg.  Sauté until the squash starts to stick to the bottom, stirring frequently and then add the sherry, chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the squash is very tender, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a blender and puree.  Freeze for up to 6 weeks.  When you are ready to serve, bring to a simmer in a medium saucepan and then add the cream.

Serves 8

Perfect Fall Dinner – Dijon Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Lentils and Fried Onions

As the weather turns to the cosy-sweater-and-maybe-a-scarf variety, I find myself looking to the dining room table rather than the picnic table as a place to entertain friends.  It’s no longer warm enough to eat outside, but we can still bring the brilliant leaves-in-full-color glory to our tables with pumpkin, beets, squashes and leeks.  The deeper scents of root vegetables roasting, squashes simmering, and onions beginning to caramelize all satisfy that nesting instinct to come inside and make a warm, welcoming space for family and friends.

This meal is intended for a weekend evening of entertaining and lingering at the table with laughter and stories.

The fried onions are a wonderful, crunchy treat, but if you are pressed for time you may excluded them.  The time pressed may also choose to skip the pan sauce at the end.

Dijon Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Lentils and Fried Onions

2 to 3 pounds pork tenderloin with silver skin removed
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 cup white wine
3/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter

Fried Onions:
2/3 cup canola oil
2 cups sliced onions
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups lentils
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves

Cut the pork tenderloin into 15 or 16 equal pieces and flatten them with the palm of your hand.  Rub them on both sides with the mustard, salt and pepper.  Five minutes before the lentils are done, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Heat two tablespoon of the reserved oil.  Carefully place the pork into the pan and cook for 5 minutes on one side and 3-4 minutes on the second.  Remove before they are fully cooked and let rest as they cook the rest of the way.  Meanwhile, deglaze the pan with the wine and stock.  Simmer for 5 minutes, remove from heat and whisk in the butter.  Spoon lentils onto the plate, place the pork chops on top and spoon sauce on top.

Fried Onions:
Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Heat the oil and carefully add the onions, frying for 5 minutes.  Remove the onions with a slotted spoon and set on paper towel to drain and sprinkle with salt.  Remove all of the oil from the pan and set aside.

Using the onion pan add the lentils, chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves and simmer for 30 minutes.

Serves 6-8

Cook the Book: Zucchini and Genoa Salami Deep Dish Pizza

Zucchini and Genoa Salami Deep Dish Pizza

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 zucchini, roughly chopped
2 summer squash, roughly chopped
1/2teaspoon salt
1/2teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound Genoa salami, cut in medium-thick slices
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese

1 Crusty Peasant Bread dough recipe.  You can also use the pre-made bread dough you can find in most grocery stores – you’ll need 2 bags.

Olive oil to brush over the crust
Dried basil, Italian seasoning, oregano – whatever you like – to sprinkle on the crust

Oil a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, summer squash, salt and pepper. Sauté until tender. Divide the dough roughly in half; make one part slightly larger than the other. Either roll or use your hands to stretch the larger piece until it’s big enough to overlap over the sides of the baking pan by about 1 inchSpread half of the Parmesan cheese evenly over the dough. Add layers (in order) of half each of the salami, mozzarella, ricotta, zucchini and summer squash.  When you transfer the squash to the pizza, use a slotted spoon to drain the excess liquid.  Repeat. Stretch the remaining half of the dough out enough to overlap the top of the pan, then pinch the two layers of dough together neatly. Brush the crust with the olive oil and sprinkle with the herbs. Preheat oven to 350°. Let the pizza rest and rise for 30 minutes, then bake until golden brown (about an hour).  Cool 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Serves 8-12.

Cook the Book – Potatoes Roasted with Red Wine

Potatoes Roasted with Red Wine

These are Jon’s all-time favorite potatoes.  I serve them often with the Roasted Pork Loin found in At Home, At Sea: Recipes from the Maine Windjammer J&E Riggin.

6 to 8 medium sized red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1 whole head garlic, peeled
2 to 3 cups red wine
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375°. Put all the ingredients except the cream into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Cover and bake for 1 hour, stirring once or twice. Remove cover, add cream and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes.

Serves 4-6

Cook the Book – Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushroom Barley Soup

3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup pearled barley
6 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
1/3 cup tamari
1/3 cup dry sherry

Melt the butter in a medium sized stockpot over medium heat; add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender. Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring the soup to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until the barley is completely cooked. Serve.

Serves 6-8

French Onion Soup

In the spring, one of my favorite people gifted me with her mother’s french onion soup crocks and while I was excited to share about it then, it was too close to summer for anyone but me to be all that jazzed about French Onion Soup.  Only in Maine would someone find a day cool enough in June to still be wearing a sweater and thinking something warm and cozy for dinner.  SO, here we are in October and I managed to wait.  Yeah, me.

French Onion Soup

This is not the most traditional way to make French onion soup, but it sure is tasty and it doesn’t take four hours to sweat the onions.  Dawn, a galley colleague, makes it this way every week on her boat.  She made it for us one night and it was so yummy I had to develop a recipe for it.

Now, with the proper bowls and an honest to goodness salamander (restaurant broiler), I make crostini instead of croutons and melt the cheese the traditional way with the crostini floating as a raft in the soup and the cheese a generous mound on top.  Only a minute or two under the broiler produces bubbly, melted goodness.

This soup is infinitely better when made with homemade beef stock or broth.  I know it adds to the time factor but if you make the stock in batches to have on hand, it’s so worth the effort, and so much better for you.

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
5 cups onions (3 to 5 onions)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup red wine
6 cups beef stock
5 oz. grated Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups diced country or French bread

Preheat oven to 400°.  Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add onions and sauté for 15-20 minutes or until all of the onions are soft, translucent and golden brown.  Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Stir in flour and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add wine and then the beef stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for at least 1/2 hour.  Meanwhile, toss bread cubes with butter and spread onto a baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the croutons are golden and crispy.  Serve the soup with cheese and croutons on the side so your guests can add the amount that they like of each.

Serves 4-6

Comfort Food Fan

Email thisShare on FacebookTwitterDigg This!Save to del.icio.usStumble It!

Carmelized Carrots and Parsnips, Mashed Potatoes

These carrots, parsnips and potatoes go great with the Yankee Pot Roast recipe I posted earlier.  Much earlier actually, even though I intended for them to go together.

Here are some helpful hints about timing in the kitchen.

• Preheat the oven and begin the pot roast.  If you would like to have this meal waiting for you when you arrive home from work, brown the pot roast on all sides and then transfer to a slow-cooker with the rest of the ingredients from the recipe.  Cook all day on the slowest, longest setting.
• Once the pot roast is in the oven, prep the rest of the vegetables and potatoes.  Leave the potatoes covered in water until you are ready to cook them.
• You can make the potatoes ahead and reheat them in a double boiler or wait until the pot roast is close to done and begin to boil the water.
• Make the gravy, finish the potatoes, make the gravy and slice the meat.

ded for them to go together.

Caramelized Carrots and Parsnips

1 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon butter
4 carrots
4 parsnips
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Peel and cut the parsnips and cut into sticks like you would for crudite, 2 inches long and 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide.  Heat a large sauté or saucepan with a cover over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle the sugar in the bottom of the pan and when it is an amber color, add the butter.  When the butter is melted, add the carrots and parsnips, sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix.  Add the water and cover for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  Add the lemon juice and serve.

Serves 6-8

Mashed Potatoes

This is such a basic recipe, but a great favorite at my house.  You’ll use more or less milk depending on the moisture content of the potatoes.

8 medium red potatoes, peeled and whole
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for the water

Place the potatoes in a medium stockpot and cover with salted water.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when poked with a fork.  Drain the water; add the butter, milk and salt and whip with a hand mixer.

Email thisShare on FacebookTwitterDigg This!Save to del.icio.usStumble It!

Cook the Book – Three Sausage and Butternut Squash Sauce

I created this recipe for Curtis Custom Meats in Union, Maine several years ago.  We used to buy all of our meat from them, pre-the enormous freezer full of cuts of whole pig and cow from Terra Optima in Appleton.

This recipe makes a large pot of sauce – good for a big family dinner before or after Thanksgiving Day.  It also freezes well if you’ve a smaller group.  When I first created it, I thought I should cut it down to make it serve 4-6 people, but then all of the sausage comes in one pound pacakages.  So either you have all of these 1/2 pound bits of sausage, not to mention the 1/2 a butternut squash, or you’ve got your self a lot of sauce.  I went for the ‘lotta sauce’ knowing that everyone could use a dish that freezes well and cooks up in minutes for those crazy days when it’s either whatever you find in the freezer or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner.

Three Sausage and Butternut Squash Sauce

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound hot sausage, cut into 1-inch slices
1 pound sweet sausage, cut into 1-inch slices
1 pound garlic sausage, cut into 1-inch slices
3 large onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons fresh basil, or 2 tablespoons dried
3 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 cup red wine
6 cups peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes (or 2 16-ounce cans diced tomatoes)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley to garnish

Preheat oven to 500°.  Toss the squash with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast for 45 minutes or until the squash is cooked through (but not falling apart).  Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add the sausages and sauté until they are lightly browned.  Add the onions, garlic, and seasonings and continue to cook until the onions are translucent.  Add the wine, tomatoes and salt; reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Add the squash and serve over your favorite pasta and garnish with the ricotta cheese and parsley.

Serves 12-16

Looking forward to a big family dinner

Email thisShare on FacebookTwitterDigg This!Save to del.icio.usStumble It!