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.

Cooking (and sipping) away on Penobscot Bay

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.

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

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

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

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

Every year, three or four mom’s and our kidlets congregate in one of our small kitchens and completely sugar up our kids with Christmas cookies.  Mountains of frosting and sprinkles are usually constructed on top of the unrecognizable sugar cookies as they decorate with an unrestrained hand.  The floors are wooden and everything wipes down in the end.  This year, the girls asked if they could have a food fight with the leftover frosting.  Hmm.  Definitely not in the house.  Too cold to go outside.  Don’t want to have to wash the coats anyway.  Hmm… “What if we get our bathing suits on and do it in the tub, Mama?  Please?”  SURE.  Good idea.  And one I got to say “yes” to in the sea of what sometimes seems continual “no.”  The giggles are to be treasured for a lifetime.

The standby chocolate peanut balls and the sugar cookies usually have a recipe or two that make an audition, but don’t last for more than a year.  Not so with this recipe taken straight from Bon Appetit December 2005.  Good job guys.  These are like the best Oreo’s a person could imagine – on steroids.  Love them.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetend Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops (or more) green food coloring

1/2 cup crushed red- and white-stripped cady canes or hard peppermint candies (about 4 ounces)

Whisk flour, cocoa and salt in medium bowl to blend.  Using mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended.  Beat in egg.  Add dry ingredients:  beat until blended.  Refrigerate dough 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Scoop out dough by level tablespoonfuls, then roll into smooth balls.  Place balls on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.  Using bottom of glass or hands, flatten each ball to 2-inch round (edges will crack).  Bake until cookies no longer look wet and small indentation appears when tops of cookies are lightly touched with fingers, about 11 minutes (do not over bake or cookies will become too crisp).  Cool on sheet 5 minutes.  Transfer chocolate cookies to racks and cool completely.

Using mixer, beat powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl until well blended.  Add peppermint extract and 2 drops food coloring.  Beat until light pink and well blended, adding more food coloring by dropfuls if darker pink color is desired.  Spread 2 generous teaspoons filling evenly over flat side of 1 cookie to edges, top with another cookie, flat side down, pressing gently to adhere.  Repeat with remaining cookies and peppermint filling.

Place crushed candy canes on plate.  Roll edges of cookie sandwiches in crushed candies (candies will adhere to filling).  Store in singe layer in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.

Makes about 18 sandwich cookies

Heaven to bake and then eat these cookies!

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

Maine Ingredient – Turkey and Accompaniments

The latest column is hopefully a help to all of those who stress over Thanksgiving Dinner.  I offered to help by email anyone who would like to ask questions about their specific meal.  Happy to help blog readers too.  I’ll post any questions so that everyone can benefit.

Brined and Roasted Turkey Breast
Sage and Rosemary Gravy
Cranberry and Challah Stuffing

Grateful for ALL of it

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

Turkey Confit

If you don’t care to break down your own turkey, it’s easy enough to ask your butcher to provide these pieces for you.  I know its not common to have 4 cups of rendered fat hanging around most households, but again, your butcher can provide this for you. I used pork fat rendered from a whole pig broken down last winter.  It was deeelicious.  Lard can be found in either the baking or butter section of your grocery store.

If you would like breast meat as well, you have a couple of options.  One is to confit both breasts, bone on, with everything else.  The directions and timing would remain the same.  The other is to brine the breast and roast it while the rest is heating up and skin crisping.  That recipe is part of today’s Brined Turkey Breast column in the PPH.  The third option is to simply marinate it in something sagey, garlicky and delicious and roast it again while the confit is crisping up.

2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh black pepper
5 tablespoons minced sage and rosemary
legs, wings and thighs from a 12 to 14 pound turkey
4 cups duck fat, port fat or lard

Pulverize the salt, pepper and herbs in a food processor or spice grinder.  Rub the entire exterior of the turkey pieces and place on a platter with sides high enough to catch any liquid that will drain from the turkey.  Do not cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Place the turkey and fat in a Dutch oven or other oven proof pot with lid.  Bake for 3 to 3 1/2 hours until the meat is so tender it is nearly (but not) falling off the bones.

At this point you can remove the turkey and crisp up the skin right away.  Even better is to cool the turkey completely.  Refrigerate until you are ready to use it and then bake it for an hour on a roasting pan.  Serve immediately and enjoy how the skin is crispy and the meat just falls off the bone.

Serves 6 to 8

Happy Turkey Day to you all!

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

Stuffed Turkey Breast

The fancy word for stuffed turkey breast is “galantine,” which I love because it sounds so elegant.  In any event, it’s a fairly easy, but elegant way to serve turkey for a small group.  With lots of side dishes you could get away with 8 to 10 people.

Use your favorite stuffing or my recipes for Cranberry and Challah Stuffing; Bacon, Rosemary and Cornbread Stuffing or  Sausage and Apple Stuffing.

3 cups of your favorite stuffing
deboned whole turkey breast from a 12 to 14 pound turkey, skin on, about 4 pounds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil

Lay the turkey breast skin side down between two large layers of plastic wrap.  With a meat tenderizer, pound the breast until it is an even thickness and 1/2-inch thick.  Discard the plastic.  Season the breast with salt and pepper.  Place the stuffing in a row in the middle of the pounded turkey breast short side to short side.  Roll one side of the turkey up and over the stuffing, tucking everything in as neatly and tightly as you can.  Roll the other side to make a log with the stuffing in the center.  Use tooth picks to hold the final edge in place while you tie it with butcher’s string every 1 to 2 inches.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heat a large, oven proof skillet over medium high heat and add the canola oil.  Carefully place the roll into the pan.  Brown for 10 minutes on all sides, turning as needed.  Transfer skillet to oven and cook for 45 minutes or until an internal thermometer reads 155 in the center of the roll.  Let rest 5 minutes and slice in 1/2 inch slices.

Serves 6 to 8

E was able to follow the recipe without a picture, by practicing with a piece of paper first.  It’s actually harder to write than it is to do.

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

Breaking Down a Whole Turkey

The advantages to knowing how to break down poultry are many.  Not the least of which is the remaining bones with which to make flavorful and healthy stock.  It’s not hard to do.  (I know, easy for me to say as I do these things for a living, but really this whole breaking down process took longer to post than it did to do.  A LOT longer.)

Begin with a 12 to 14 pound turkey which will feed at least as many people.  It should be fresh (or fully defrosted before you begin).

As you hover over each photo, the step by step instructions will magically appear.  You can turn off the autoviewer screen if you wish by clicking in the lower right corner of the pop up window.

Save the breast and either brine and roast it or stuff it.

Give it a shot – you can do it!

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

Maine Ingredient – All About Squash

Squash and pumpkins come in a myriad of shapes and sizes some endearing and some impressive.  Some pretty or cute and some, well, just downright ugly.  No matter about what they look like on the outside though, because it’s the flavorful inside that counts.  The seeds and the flesh.

Pumpkins and squash at the farm

I find that many squashes can be used interchangeably although each kind has it’s own individual flavor and texture.

Two of my recipes that ran today in the Portland Press Herald column are:

Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Butter and Spinach
Delicata Squash and Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon and Chive Cream Fraiche

We just had the Pumpkin Ravioli with a Spinach Salad – more greens, yeah! – last night for dinner.  Perfect fall meal.

Thinking up more things to do with all the squash from the farmer’s market

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

Lavender Chicken with Sea Salt and Roasted Baby Carrots

Roast chicken is one of my favorite meals;  I love it rubbed and roasted with just salt and pepper.  But when I feel like playing, herbs are the first place I go.  Lavender might not be the first herb you think of when cooking, an herb that comes more to mind when thinking of bath soaps or pot pourri. The taste, however, is similar to rosemary with a lemon and citrus taste and a bit more delicate, more summery tasting. The place you see it most in cooking and may not have known is in a dried herb mixture called Herbs de Provence, where it’s combined with other herbs like thyme, rosemary and marjoram in differing combinations.

You can of course roast the chicken whole, but I’ve shortened the cooking time by butterflying the chicken. You get a wonderfully crispy skin, with out so much heat in the kitchen. If you prep it before work, you can have dinner ready in a little over an hour.

Lavender Chicken with Sea Salt
Roasting the chicken with the lemon underneath is a great way to add flavor and moisture to the dish.  The best place to find lavender is in your own garden (or a friend’s).  In the summertime I use fresh lavender and in the winter dried.  Dried is a more pungent, and still very tasty.

4-6 pound chicken
2 tablespoons lavender
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 lemon, cut into 3 big slices
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the small bag on the inside of the chicken and then cut off any excess fat around the opening. Place the lemon slices and the gizzards (what’s in the bag that was inside the chicken) on a roasting pan. Cut the chicken in half, splitting the breastbone, but not cutting through the spine on the other side. Open the chicken up like you would a book. Rub the whole chicken with the lavender, salt and pepper and lay flat on top of the lemon slices and gizzards, breast side up.

Roast for 1 – 1 1/2 hours depending on how large the chicken is. It is done when an internal thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 170-175 degrees.  Remove and let rest for 15 minutes. Carve and serve with roasted baby carrots.

Serves 4-6

Roasted Baby Carrots

1 pound baby carrots, well scrubbed

Twenty minutes before you are ready to remove the chicken from the oven, Scatter the carrots over the roasting pan. Stir once and to coat with the juice in the pan and roast for 20 minutes. It’s not necessary to add salt or pepper, the seasoning will come from the chicken juices.

Loving the smell of roasting chicken in my galley

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