Cooking with Annie: Episode 11 – Irish Soda Bread

Hands down, my favorite meal to have with this bread is New England Boiled Dinner, an absolute classic.  Next would be a beef stew or other hearty soup.  It makes wonderful toast the next day and doesn’t last long in our house at all.  For those of you having a hard time finding yeast, this is a good one.  No yeast required.  Also, no rising time.  It’s an easy one!

It does call for buttermilk, but don’t fret.  If you don’t have that on hand, combine a bit more than 3/4 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar and let it sit for 5 minutes or so.  Presto!  Buttermilk is made.

Irish Soda Bread 
This is another recipe passed down through the women in my family. I’ve used dried apricots or raisins in place of the currants. The caraway seeds are traditional, but also optional. My grandma favored currents and caraway seeds and my mom made it unadorned. Either way, it’s a versatile recipe.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)
1/2 cup currants
3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk (maybe a little extra)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the milk. Stir until a ball just forms, adding a little extra buttermilk if needed to get everything to come together.  Turn onto floured board and knead until just combined, about 5 turns. Cut the dough in half and shape into two 6-inch round loaves. Place the loaves on a baking sheet. Make two perpendicular cuts on top of the loaves in the shape of a cross. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 1 loaf

Variations
Fennel and Raisin – Add 2 tablespoons fennel seeds and 1 cup raisins.
Caraway and Currants – Add 2 tablespoons caraway seeds and 1 cup currants.
Whole Wheat and Flax Seed – Replace 1 cup all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Add 3 tablespoons whole flax seeds.
Stilton and Chives – Reduce the buttermilk by 1 tablespoon. Add 1 cup crumbled Stilton and 1/2 cup minced chives.

Cooking with Annie: Episode 8 – Roast Chicken and Root Vegetables

To help stretch the groceries in the house, this meal turns into three meals with a couple of simple techniques.  The roast chicken is one meal.  The broth that gets made with the bones can become soup.  And any leftover meat can become a third meal.  I’ll share the broth and the leftover meal in future episodes, but for now, roast chicken is one of the simplest meals that we love to have over and over.

If you are in a hurry, butterfly or spatchcock the chicken by cutting the chicken through the breastbone and laying it flat on a baking sheet. It will reduce the cooking time by about 45 minutes.  The herbs in the variation are a classic blend, Herbs de Provence, but not always the same.  The ones I like to use are thyme, rosemary, basil, savory, and lavender buds.  Others I’ve seen added are fennel, marjoram, and mints.  Most grocery stores carry a pre-mixed version, so it’s not necessary to buy each herb individually.

Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetables
1 (4 1/2 pound) whole chicken
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus extra for the vegetables)
several grinds fresh black pepper (plus extra for the vegetables)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices (or 3 cups baby carrots)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Rub the chicken outside and inside with the paprika, salt, and pepper and place on a roasting pan with the onion, parsnips, and carrots. Drizzle the vegetables with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 1 1/2 hours or until the legs feel loose in the joint and the vegetables are tender. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Whisk the mustard into the pan to make a pan sauce, adding a little water if needed to loosen the sticky bits on the bottom of the pan. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Variations
Lemon Garlic Chicken
Follow the instructions above and stuff the chicken with one whole lemon cut in half and two heads of garlic. If butterflied, place the chicken on top of the lemon and garlic, then roast.
5-Herb Chicken
Follow the instructions above and add 2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence to the paprika, salt, and pepper.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Hang in there!

Cooking with Annie: Episode 7 – Maine Blueberry Muffins (with and without eggs)

So you’re jonesing for a baked good, but you don’t have any eggs (or couldn’t get them at the grocery store this run).  No problem.  There are some handy substitutes for eggs that work almost as well as the eggs themselves.  If you are a vegan, same goes.  No need to go without baked goods, there are some pretty great substitutes out there which will have your non-vegan friends fooled.

To be sure, there’s a decent amount of talk around substituting ground flax seeds or chia seeds, but to my taste, these always end up tasting “healthy”.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  However, when I want a seedy breakfast muffin, I’ll ask for it, not make it by default.

The other direction when substituting for eggs in baked goods is some kind of mushy fruit – either mashed bananas, apple sauce, or stewed prunes.  All of which work wonderfully for making moist baked goods, but don’t do so much in the leavening/rising department.  These subs tend to make for flatter baked goods without that nice dome on top.

There are two substitutions which I’ve used consistently over the years which work beautifully and are nearly imperceptible from the baked goods with eggs.  They are either carbonated water OR a mixture of baking soda and vinegar.  Both create a wonderful rise and crumb without taking away any level of moisture.  That said, this substitution works best in quick breads, muffins, and cakes.  Not so much with say, eclairs or some other egg dependent confection.

In the latest episode of Cooking with Annie, I make Maine Blueberry Muffins with both of my favorite substitutions and show you the difference in the end result.  As they come out of the oven, the lighting in the video begins to change (thanks so much Maine weather) so it may be a little tough to see 100% clearly, but the carbonated water muffins have a perfect dome and are a little lighter in color.  The baking soda and vinegar muffins didn’t rise quite as much but have a more golden color.

Substitutions for eggs in baking
1. 1/4 cup carbonated water to 1 egg
2. 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon vinegar to 1 egg
3. 1/3 cup mashed banana, apple sauce, or stewed prunes to 1 egg

Maine Blueberry Muffins  
This recipe is actually my basic muffin recipe from which I make dozens of different kinds of muffins.  On the Riggin, to save time in the morning, I make a huge batch of dry ingredients and then measure out what I’ll need for that morning’s muffins.  Each day is a different muffin with dried or fresh fruit, different toppings, and/or spices.  It’s excerpted from the Red Book, At Home, At Sea: Recipes from a Maine Windjammer.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs OR 1/2 cup carbonated water OR 2 teaspoons baking soda and 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup whole milk
1 1/3 cups fresh (or frozen) Maine blueberries

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan or line with paper liners. Sift the dry ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the oil, eggs, and milk. Stir until just combined. Gently fold in the blueberries. Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the muffins spring back when lightly pressed. Remove the muffins from the pan to cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12 muffins

Variations
Pumpkin, Honey, and Walnut
Reduce the milk to 1/3 cup, add 2 tablespoons honey, and 1 cup pumpkin puree with the other liquid ingredients. Stir in 3/4 cup chopped walnuts instead of the blueberries.

Other Variations
Replace the blueberries with dried cranberries or apricots; raisins; or chocolate chips.
Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with granulated or coarse-grain sugar.
Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with streusel.

Cooking with Annie: Episode 6 – Roasted Tomato, Pepper, and Onion Omelette

Yesterday I spent the day outside in the light and warmth – listening to the birds and breathing fresh air.  While I was in the garden, walking wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of wood chips from the large pile out in the front yard to the walkways in and around the garden out back, I found myself repeating a mantra to myself.  As there is so much that is not within my control right now, my mind moved to all of the things of which I am in charge and do control.

I am in charge of the food I choose to eat.  I am responsible for how I move my body each day.  I can choose to be outside no matter what the weather.  I am the one who chooses what I buy or don’t buy.  I am the one who is in charge of how I treat my family, the kindnesses I offer others, the way I greet my fellow humans.  I can choose to wait before I speak.  I choose grace.  I choose intention.  I choose surrender.

The word surrender has a connection to the phrase, “I quit”.  But that’s not what I mean.  I surrender to the things I cannot change.  I surrender to peace – in my mind and in my space.  I surrender to something greater than myself.

And I felt better.  And continued to walk the heavy wheelbarrow of wood chips to the garden – creating new pathways and adding a layer of freshness to the already worn paths.  And I felt better.

Annie
safe, calm, kind

Cooking with Annie: Episode 5 – Baking Powder Biscuits

This is a recipe my grandma passed on to me through my mom. The original recipe, written on a weathered and wore 3 x 5 index card, in my mom’s handwriting from a time when my grandmother gave it to her verbally. My grandmother used shortening, and maybe even lard. Currently, shortening is out and butter is in, but to honor the history of the recipe, I’ve left shortening as an ingredient. It is a one to one replacement to substitute butter.

The best way to eat these is fresh from the oven, still warm with a pat of butter.  Hands down.  They are just as delicious with strawberry jam as they are with a beef stew.  The day after, they loose their texture a bit.  I still remember my grandmother eating the day old biscuits (because nothing went to waste in her kitchen) with peanut butter and a squirt of French’s mustard.  It sounds a little crazy, and feel free to knock it once you’ve tried it, I loved the combination as a kid too.  While I haven’t had them like this in some time, I do feel it’s time for me to revive the snack if only to honor my Grandma occationally.

Baking Powder Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter (or shortening like my Grandma used to do)
3/4 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 450°F. Measure the flour, baking powder, and salt into a sifter set in a medium bowl. This is an important step because you want to add air to the mixture so the biscuits are as fluffy as possible. Use a pastry cutter to cut the shortening into the mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. Stir in any additional dry ingredients here (page xx). Add milk and any additional wet ingredients, stirring until a soft dough forms. It is important to not overmix; you’ll hard tack instead of fluffy biscuits. Turn out onto a floured board and knead 10 times, then STOP!  Roll or pat out the dough until it is 1/2-inch thick. Cut with a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter. Transfer the biscuits to an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 12 biscuits

Variations
Lemon and Herb Biscuits
To the basic recipe add:
1 tablespoon lemon zest; about 1 lemon
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons of fresh herbs such as chives, chive blossoms, lemon thyme, thyme, rosemary, and/or lavender

Parmesan and Black Pepper Biscuits
To the basic recipe add:
several grinds fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese; about 1 cup lightly packed
1 large egg
a little extra milk if needed

Roquefort and Walnut Biscuits
To the basic recipe add:
4 ounces crumbled Roquefort cheese; about 1 cup
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
pinch of paprika
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Jack and Jalapeno Biscuits:
To the basic recipe add:
2 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese; about 1 cup
1 tablespoon seeded and minced jalapeno pepper

Poppy Seed and Orange:
To the basic recipe add:
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons orange zest; about 1 orange

Annie
#weatheringthestorm #hanginginthere

Cooking with Annie: Episode 3 – Traditional Boston Brown Bread

With all of the comments about folks not being able to find some ingredients (and wanting to stay away from the grocery store in general), I thought perhaps this recipe would be a good one to share.  It’s one of my favorite and is super traditional New England.  It uses whole wheat flour, which for some I’m hearing is easier for people to find than regular white flour, and NO eggs, which I’m also hearing are sometimes tough to come by especially around these Easter days when everyone is dying eyes with their kidos.

On the Riggin, I often serve this Boston Brown Brea with homemade butter, fresh garden radishes, an assortment of sea salts as one of many appetizers.  Here at home, we had it with lamb stew and then snacked on the remainder.  It’s delicious toasted with cream cheese or a little pat of butter.

The first recipe works well with either rye or whole wheat flour, but again, I have a hard time getting rye flour in ‘normal’ times, so wrote the recipe with whole wheat in mind.  If you don’t have buttermilk, it’s easy to make.  Combine just over 3/4 cup milk with 1 or 2 tablespoons of white or apple cider vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes or so.  The result is usually just a little thinner than store-bought buttermilk, so I just end up substituting a little less than 1 cup of homemade buttermilk for 1 cup of store-bought.

Hope you all love it!

Traditional Boston Brown Bread
1 cup whole wheat or rye flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup molasses
1/2 cup raisins

3, 14-ounce cans
waxed or parchment paper
foil
string

To prepare the cans, trace the edge of each can on waxed paper and then cut out 3 rounds. Liberally grease each can and place the waxed paper round in the base of each can.

Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk, molasses, and raisins and mix until just combined from the center out to the edges of the bowl.

Divide the batter equally between the three prepared cans, cover with tin foil, and use string to keep the tin foil ‘lids’ in place.

Transfer the cans to a medium pot of simmering water. The water should reach just about half way up the side of the cans. Cover and simmer until the breads are set and gently pulling away from the sides of the pan, about 35 minutes.

Transfer the cans from the pot to a cooling rack, remove the foil, and allow the bread to cool. Run a knife along the inside of the cans to loosen the bread and then invert the cans into the cup of your palm or rap firmly on a work surface to dislodge the bread.

Makes 3 little loaves

Mom and Grandma’s Brown Bread 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons molasses
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8 1/2- x 4 1/2-inch bread pan. Cream together the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon in a medium-sized bowl. Add the milk, eggs, and molasses and stir until just combined. Stir in the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Pour into the prepared pan, and let it sit 20 to 30 minutes. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the center springs back when lightly pressed. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing.

Makes 1 loaf

Annie
#staysafe #becalm #bekind

Cooking with Annie: Episode 2 – How to Use What You Have

I’m hearing a number of people talk about not being able to find one or more ingredients at the grocery store these days.  This makes menu planning, something I highly recommend for all sorts of efficiency reasons, difficult.  Does one still plan and then change the plan according to what is available?  Or does one go to the store without a plan and then create a weekly menu once the selections are made and purchased.  Well, I’d propose that both could be true. The question really becomes, HOW to be flexible and HOW to think creatively about what’s on hand.

This has always been true for those of us who have gardens or buy from a farmer’s market.  Sometimes certain ingredients are just not in season, in stock, or ready for harvest just yet.  Even with that, our current challenges are causing us to exercise our flexibility muscle even more than usual. In this latest video, I talk about what we picked up from our farmer this week and how I think about creating a menu around the fresh ingredients we were lucky enough to bring home.  Here’s a list of what we got and then some of what we ended up making through out the week.  While they aren’t recipes, per se, they are guidelines and ideas.  Have at ’em!

Large yellow carrots
Carrot Salad – Grate and toss with diced tomato, some radish micro greens, a minced green onion, some minced sorrel from the garden, evoo, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Sliced Carrots – Serve with preserved lemon hummus made with garbanzo beans.
Steamed Carrots – Toss with a little butter and fresh dill.

Baby Orange Carrots
Pan-roasted – Sear in extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.  The leftovers became a carrot, ginger, coconut soup.
Fresh – As a snack with dip or not.

Rutabaga
Mashed – Peel and cut into chunks just like for mashed potatoes.  When tender, drain the water and mash with a little butter and creme fraiche.  To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for this dish and I was wrong to be so skeptical.  They were delicious.

Daikon Radish
Radish Salad – Grate and toss with garlic, ginger, lime zest, lime juice, sesame oil, and tamari.
Radish Pickles – Slice thinly and toss with salt.  Let rest for at least 30 minutes and then add apple cider vinegar, mustard seeds, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Greens
They all got sauteed in extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper and then became a part of other meals.  I’ll often use greens in place of the carbohydrate at the meal.  So for example, if we are having lamb stew with mashed potatoes, I’d skip the potatoes and substitute the greens.

Pea Shoots
Pea Shoot and Quinoa Salad – Mix with dried blueberries, spiced pecans, crumbled feta cheese, and tangerine balsamic vinegar.

The list above is just an example of what could happen in your kitchen.  It was based entirely on my pantry and ingredients we already had on hand.  Yours might look completely different, but hopefully this gives you a starting point from which to begin creating in your own kitchen.

So what do you have in your fridge that you don’t know what to do with it?  What recipe do you want to make with an ingredient you can’t get right now?  Ask away!  I can help.

Annie
#staysafe, #becalm, #bekind

Maine Food Cruises – Soups, Stews, and Sauces

At first glance, soups and stews might not seem all that glamorous in terms of a topic for a gourmet cooking cruise, however, how to begin and season a soup or stew is the very basis for not only many a diners’ dinner, but also the sauces that can elegantly top a seared tenderloin or grilled salmon.

Lobster and Corn Chowda - Maine-style, Deaha.
Lobster and Corn Chowda – Maine-style, Deaha.

From stock to pistou, we’ll talk about how to make super tasty and healthy soups, stews, and sauces and then sample them for lunch or for dinner.  Perhaps it will be a Coconut Curried Lentil and Potato Soup with Nan or a Pork Loin Roast with a Rhubarb and Red Wine Reduction Sauce.  Who knows, because the menu is different every week on the Riggin, so your guess is as good as mine.

 

Soup, Stew, and Sauce Tip:  The time a cook takes to saute the vegetables at the beginning of a soup, sauce, or stew can not be underestimated.  When the vegetables caramelize a bit and begin to develop a little brown on the bottom of the pan, flavor is building.  To rush this process is to forgo the depth of flavor that is possible forever.

Annie
Come share some super good food with us!  July 6 to 9 is our next Maine Food Cruise, but there are more on the schedule.  Check it out!