Holiday Appetizer – Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves

Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves
A reader gave this recipe to me and I’ve adjusted it a tiny bit by adding more goat cheese. The black pepper and honey work well together next to the rosemary and the preserves just make it something really special.

This could make a lovely holiday gift if packed in a small crock or a special addition to your holiday appetizer plans.

4 ounces crumbled goat cheese; about 1 cup
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons apricot or fig preserves

Combine all ingredients except the preserves in a food processor. Pack into a shallow serving dish or small crock and chill. Cover thickly with apricot preserves and serve with assorted whole grain crackers or the Homemade Crackers found in Sugar & Salt: Book 1 (the Blue Book).

Makes 2 cups

Annie
Just got the wreaths today and the house is full of evergreens!

Thanksgiving Leftovers – Take Four – Turkey Shepard’s Pie

Thanksgiving dinner is truly my favorite of all the holiday meals, but it’s a toss up as to whether I like the meal itself or the leftovers more.  Here’s another idea for how to use up all those delicious leftovers and a few from previous years to keep you busy for a couple of dinners following the big one.

Thanksgiving Leftovers
One – Leftover Turkey Soup and/or Leftover Turkey Sandwich Ideas
Two – Turkey Hash
Three – Potato Cakes, Potato Bread, Potato Leek Soup

Also, don’t forget to freeze and label what you won’t use in the several days following the big meal.  Save it all for later in the winter when you need a weeknight dinner right quick and in a hurry.

Turkey Shepard’s Pie
In a casserole dish, layer cooked turkey meat, gravy, cut up green beans (or other vegetable) and top with mashed potatoes or mashed squash.  Bake at 350°F or until the edges are beginning to brown and the center is hot all the way through.  If you don’t have enough gravy, make a little sauce of your own by heating up the turkey and the green beans with a little butter in an oven-proof skillet.  Sprinkle with flour and stir to incorporate.  Add a cup or so of stock and stir.  Add more if the mixture is too thick.  Then layer the rest of your ingredients on top.

 

 

Cider Pressing

It’s a tradition in our family to pick a ton of apples in the fall and then take them to the press to be turned into cider at Sewall Organic Orchard.  Every since the girls were old enough to pick up apples from the tarp on the ground, we have joined our long-time family friends in this fall ritual.  They have more heirloom trees than we do, so most of the apples come from their property.  Over the years, as the girls have grown, we’ve perfected our apple picking technique to the point were we’ve got it down to a science.  This year, our crew was able to see the press and spend some time sipping cider.  And next summer on the Riggin, we will have organic cider every week!  There’s a video of the process on Instagram.

Apples ready for the press
Hauling in the apples. Many hands…
Loading the hopper. Ear protection is key.

Bob Sewell, the man himself.

The end result.

 

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

Spring Tartlet

Galettes have become a staple in my kitchen. It’s easier than a pie and more elegant in some ways because it’s different, portable for taking to another’s for dinner without keeping track of your pie plate, and, well, fun! Needless to say, I’m a big fan. I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of savory combinations for a quick dinner, as these days we are all working at a vigorous clip to get the Riggin ready for the season.

A galette is essentially a rustic, loosely formed pie. They are beautiful and can be made large for 10 to 12 people, small for 4 to 6, or even individual. This crust has some cornmeal in it, which gives a nice texture, compliments the rustic style, and gives the crust a bit more form. For transporting, simply loosely surround them with parchment paper for a rustic wrapping.

While recipes have specific amounts, what I’ve found most useful about galettes, similar to pizza, is the ability to use up little bits of cheese and/or leftover grilled meat and vegetables. It therefore goes without saying that no galette in my house will every be the same, as we will never have the exact same combinations of leftovers. The recipe below is meant as a starting point to give you an idea of how much to use and in what combinations, but experiment away!

While these are savory, you can always use berries, a little flour, and some sugar for a dessert galette like the Raspberry Cinnamon Galette in my cookbook, Sugar and Salt: The Blue Book.

Galette Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup cornmeal
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup ice water
1/4 cup buttermilk

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the butter and either press with your thumbs or use a pastry knife to incorporate. The mixture should look like something between breadcrumbs and small peas. The smaller the pieces the more tender; the bigger, the flakier. Add the ice water and buttermilk. If you need more liquid, add 1 teaspoon at a time until the mixture forms a ball. Divide into 2 equal rounds, cover well, and freeze for 30 minutes. Lightly flour the counter top and roll out each disc into an 11-inch circle. Place the ingredients in the center in the order listed, leaving a 2-inch perimeter without filling. Neatly fold over the 2-inch edge toward the center, pinching where needed. Bake for 45 minutes or until the center is hot and the pastry is golden brown. Cut into 4 to 6 pieces each. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 2 large serving 4 to 6 people

Tomato, Dill, and Fontina Galette
8 ounces grated Fontina cheese; about 4 cups lightly packed
20 cherry and orange tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon fresh dill sprigs
zest from 1 lemon
pinch of salt
several grinds fresh black pepper

Annie
Spring is a happy time

 

 

Seared Salmon and Arugula Salad with Lime Crema

Snap.  The weather turned ever so slightly warmer and now all I want is salad for dinner.  With protein.

A trip to our local fish monger, Jess’s Market, solved that healthy problem and not that long after, dinner was on the table.  While I was waiting my turn to be served, another customer had some curiosity about how to cook the beautiful shad roe resting in the display case like ruby jewels.  Sharon, one of the owners, shared a couple of Maine ways it’s often prepared.  One being to par-boil it and then sauté the slices in bacon fat.  We then started talking about chives and garlic chives shooting up in the garden and how a little lemony beurre blanc flavored with one or both would go great with shad roe and some greens.  With capers maybe.  Hmmm, I may have to go back and get some shad roe for this recipe floating around in my head.

You’ll notice that this recipe calls for reusing the same pan several times.  Reusing the pan is something that happens a lot in my kitchen.  Rather than dirtying 5 pans and creating a mountain of clean up, rinsing a pan between uses is a simple way to make light duty of the dishes once dinner is finished (Jon loves me for this).  This is especially true when the flavors will compliment each other and are all going into the same dish in any case.

Simple, simple, simple.  My favorite.  Also, side note, I used my new favorite olive oil, a l’Olivier, from Maine Street Meats to drizzle on the salad.

Seared Salmon Arugula Salad with Lime Crema
2 (6 to 8 ounce) skin on salmon fillets
several pinches kosher salt
several grinds fresh black pepper
2 ounces arugula, about 4 cups lightly packed
1/2 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
zest from 1 lime; about 1 teaspoon (for both sour cream and arugula)
juice from 1 lime; about 3 tablespoons (for both sour cream and arugula)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
2 roma tomatoes, quartered
2 ears of corn with corn removed
1 (16-ounce) can black beans
1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves

Sprinkle the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Add the arugula to a medium salad bowl and using a spoon, scoop small pieces of avocado onto the arugula. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon lime zest, and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Toss to combine.

Combine the sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon lime zest, and 1 tablespoon lime juice in a small bowl. Set aside for garnish.

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the 2 salmon fillets, skin side down. When the salmon is cooked half way through, about 5 minutes, turn carefully and cook the second side for another 4 minutes. Remove the salmon from the pan when it is still dark pink in the center and set aside on a platter or cutting board. Clean the pan and return it to medium-high heat.

Add grapeseed oil to the pan and add the tomatoes. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and sear until the edges begin to brown. Transfer to the edges of the salad bowl and return the pan to the heat. Add the corn and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes and transfer to the salad bowl as well.

Meanwhile, heat another skillet over medium heat and add the black beans, bring to simmer and set aside. Serve with the salad and the salmon. Garnish with the sour cream and cilantro.

Serves 2

Annie
Happy, healthy dinner (and one still creating in my head)

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.

Portland Press Herald Article

In case you missed it on Facebook, here’s the link to our most recent press about the Sugar & Salt books.  Peggy Grodinsky is the acclaimed food editor of the Portland Press Herald and was actually my editor for a couple of years until I stopped doing the food column for that paper.  It was interesting to talk with her in this interview, as while we worked together for several years, we inherited each other and never actually met face to face.  Most of our conversations were via email based exclusively on the text and content of my columns.  To have our awareness of each other expand into our larger life realms was fun.

The piece is in the Chop Chop segment and features my recipes for Blizzard Carbonara and Beet, Pear, and Cranberry Salad with Shaved Asiago.

Photo by Elizabeth Poisson

 

Roasted Carrots, Red Onion, and Kale

Carrots from the garden Photo by Elizabeth Poisson

Roasted Carrots, Red Onion, and Kale
Curly or Russian kale will get a little crispy on the edges in this recipe while Lacinato kale (the longer more wrinkled variety) will wilt more like other greens do. Both are delicious.

1 1/2 pounds carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus another 1/4 teaspoon for the kale
several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus another 2 tablespoons for the kale
1/2 bunch of kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped; about 4 cups

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a large roasting pan, drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper over the carrots and onions. Use your hands to coat evenly. Roast for 1 hour or until the carrots are tender and the onions are beginning to brown. Add the kale and drizzle with more oil, salt, and pepper. Stir well and roast for another 20 minutes or until the kale is bright green and a little crispy on the edges.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Clean eating – I’m into it.

Ricotta and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Shells

These babies are not the insipid things that used to pass as your school lunch.  These guys are fun, delightful, and full of yum.  The kale adds a grownup kick and the fresh mozzarella is also a nice bump in flavor.

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Ricotta and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Shells
You will have extra sauce from this recipe, but that is never a problem in our household. Simply freeze what you don’t use for another time.

Homemade Tomato Sauce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup minced onion; about 1 small onion
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic; about 4 cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

Filling and Shells
6 ounces jumbo pasta shells
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups diced onions; about 1 large onion
1 teaspoon kosher salt (for the kale)
8 ounces kale, chopped; about 8 cups lightly packed
16 ounces ricotta cheese; 2 cups
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese; about 1 cup lightly packed
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (for the filling)
several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 large eggs
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Tomato Sauce
Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and then the onions. Sauté the onions for 7 to 10 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and sauté for another 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Makes 3 to 4 cups

Filling and Shells
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta shells, stirring often when they first go into the pot. Cook until al dente, drain, and then rinse with cold water.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onions, and salt and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes or until translucent and beginning to brown. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the onions are very soft and caramelized. Remove 1/2 cup to a medium bowl (that will receive the ricotta filling). Add the kale to the skillet and cook until wilted but still bright green. Transfer to a 9- x 13-inch casserole dish.

Combine the rest of the filling ingredients, except the eggs and mozzarella, with the onions in a medium bowl. Before adding the eggs, taste for salt. I typically don’t feel any is needed due to the bread crumbs and cheese, but it’s good to double-check.

Scoop soup-spoon portions of filling and press into the shells. Try not to overstuff so that you have enough stuffing at the end. Place the shells onto the kale and cover with 2 cups of tomato sauce. Lay slices of mozzarella over the sauce. Bake for 45 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly on the sides and the filling is cooked through.

Serves 4 to 6