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!

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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

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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

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Zucchini and Summer Squash Gratin

There can be too much of a good thing!  Zucchini is one of them.   It’s “lock-your-car-door-season”  in Maine.  If don’t, you may find your car stuffed with huge, gargantuan-seeded zucchinis, courtesy of a “friend” who, in the spring, thought that they needed to plant 6 zucchini plants in their garden to feed their family of four!  This gratin is one of the many delicious things to do with this versatile vegetable.  During the summer, this could even become a first course with a garden salad and the ever present loaf of crusty bread.  A little good extra virgin olive oil and you are all set.

Zucchini & Summer Squash Gratin

2 medium zucchini
2 medium summer squash
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice zucchini and summer squash into 1/4 inch slices. Fan them neatly into the bottom of a 9×13 non-reactive (enamel or stainless steel) pan. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and bread crumbs. Drizzle with the olive oil. Bake for 40 minutes.

Serves 4-6

Colorful dinner, here we come!

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Grilled Eggplant with Toasted Cumin

Grilled Eggplant with Toasted Cumin

When we are lucky enough to have eggplant come from our Maine garden, I really love to treat it simply.  So true of how I think of vegetables and garden vegetables in particular.  Steamed, lightly seasoned, even roasted, as here, with very little adornment to cover the nuance of flavors you can discover in your mouth when a vegetable is freshly picked and thoughtfully prepared.

3 small to medium eggplants, split in half lengthwise
2 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place eggplant face side up on a roasting pan. Toast the cumin in a small saucepan over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes or until the cumin is fragrant. This releases the oils in the spice. Combine the cumin and olive oil in a blow and use a pastry brush to top the eggplant. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 50 minutes or until the eggplant is tender.

Serves 6 (or fewer if you are all feeling greedy)

Feeling greedy…

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Ginger Ice Cream

Ginger Ice Cream

This recipe is in honor of a deck hand that was with us for several years. He turned me on to ginger beer, although the one he likes will blow the back of your head off.  The crystallized ginger at the end isn’t a necessity, just depends on how much you love ginger.  Fresh apricots or strawberries on top would work nicely as well.

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup coarsely grated peeled ginger root
2 tablespoons water
2 cups half and half
4 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped crystallized ginger

In a medium saucepan, simmer the sugar, ginger root, and water over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in the half and half and bring to a simmer, stirring often.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and gradually add the half and  half mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until a  thermometer registers 170 degrees (do not let boil). Pour the custard through a sieve into a clean bowl and stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.

Cover the surface of the mixture with plastic wrap and chill until cold. Follow the instructions for your electric or hand-cranked ice cream maker. Add the finely chopped crystallized ginger 3/4 of the way through the process.

Makes 1 quart

Lickin’ the dasher!

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Maine Food and Lifestyle Column – Fresh Pea Soup

The new issue of Maine Food and Lifestyle came in the mail today and with it my column on fresh pea soup served hot or cold.  Try as we did to make a good looking picture of this beautiful, bright green soup, on film it looks, at best, unappealingly gray and therefore we will absolutely NOT be posting a photo of it.

Fresh Pea Soup Hot or Cold
I don’t know about what happens at your house, but when we begin shelling peas, it’s a little bit like picking berries, many go into the mouth and few go into the bucket.  This recipe is therefore, made with both pre-peas-in-the-garden or post-peas-in-the-mouth scenarios, meaning I used snow peas.

Snow peas are tender young peas that can be used whole, shell and all.  As peas mature on the vine, the shell becomes more fibrous and the peas inside larger.  At this stage, it’s the pea, not the shell, that is the treasure you harvest.  You open the shell and running your thumb or finger up the inside of the shell, remove the peas.  A word of caution about the size of the peas –pick them young.  When they get too big, meaning much bigger than the frozen kind you get at the grocery store, they become unpleasantly starchy.

For an extra burst of taste and frugality – the perfect combination – the shells can be used as a stock for your soup.  Cover them with an inch or two of lightly salted water in a stock pot.  Bring to a simmer, cook for 10 minutes and drain, reserving the liquid.

Because spring and early summer weather varies minute to minute from wanting the enveloping warmth of winter sweaters to ward off bone chilling wind and the daring thought that maybe it’s warm enough to bare your skin to the sun’s tentatively warming rays, I’ve created this soup for all weathers.  A sort of seasonal preparedness soup.
Peas are a hopeful vegetable and one that dares to go first.  The seeds are nearly impervious to the cold ground in the spring that would send a tomato seedling into hysteria.  Consequently, as soon as the snow has melted from the garden and doesn’t look like some kind of experiment in mud sculpture or pond construction, you can plant the seeds.  They may take a little longer to germinate, but when they poke their brave heads out of the ground, I know that a full garden in all its glorious scents and textures and flavors is coming to me soon.

Peas are also one of my favorite climbers.  They blanket the fences along my garden and some years I’ve even used them as climbers on my arbors and trellises.  When combined with a good summer bloomer like morning glory, they are absolutely perfect.  They give green an early boost of lime green just when it’s needed as a balm to the gardener’s soul and then produce small, but charming little white buds.  When it begins to get warm and the peas wilt and fizzle from the heat (and those tomato plants are in heaven), the morning glory takes over and is generous with it’s glorious scented blooms.

Fresh Pea Soup
Served hot with Curried, Lime Cream
Served cold with Lemon, Mint Cream

2 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup diced onion, about 1 small onion
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 small clove
12 oz. snow peas, about 4 cups (or three cups of fresh shelled peas)
1/2 teaspoon salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
4 cups pea broth, low sodium chicken or vegetable broth

Served Hot with Curried, Lime Cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
pinch of salt
a few grinds of fresh black pepper

Served Cold with Lemon, Mint Cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
pinch of salt
a few grinds of fresh black pepper

Remove the stem tip and any fiber that wants to come with it from the peas.  In a medium stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the onions.  When the onions begin to turn translucent, add the shallots and garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds to one minute.  Then add the peas, salt and pepper.  If you are using snow peas, sauté until they turn bright green and then remove 4 peas to julienne for garnish.  Sauté the rest of the peas for another minute or two.  Add the broth and bring to a simmer.  When the peas puff up a little, remove from heat and transfer the soup to a blender.  Place the lid on the blender, vent the lid, cover with a kitchen towel and puree the soup well.  Serve immediately or chill.  If you are making the soup ahead and plan to reheat later, be sure to heat it quickly and just until it’s hot.  Any longer will cause the bright green of the soup to turn to a muddier green (although it will still taste delish.)

Whisk all ingredients together and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until ready to use.

Place a dollop of cream on top of the soup and add the julienned peas.

Serves 4-6

Green in the garden, yeah!

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Cookbook Photo Bloopers

I was in the kitchen yesterday testing recipes for the latest column and for the new cookbook, in the groove, working with gorgeous, fat, fresh scallops from Jess's Market.  E was snapping photos.  I made Coquilles St. Jacques, a Black Bean and Goat Cheese Salad with Cilantro Seared Scallops and a Parisian version of Coquilles St. Jacques which is basically scallops sauteed in a butter, garlic and parsley sauce.  While I was measuring olive oil for the black bean salad, trucking right along, E made this photo.  See anything wrong with this picture?  Perhaps the lid on the olive oil should be off?

Laughing in the kitchen

© 2008 Anne Mahle

Culinary Travel – It’s All About the Food Cruise

AnnietomWe created the It’s All About the Food trips to challenge ourselves to go completely local in our buying  AND because on the Riggin we love food. 

Come make creative comfort food with me, Captain and Chef Annie Mahle. I’m not only the chef on the J&E Riggin, but am the author of At Home At Sea: Recipes from the Maine Windjammer J&E Riggin, a cooking instructor and columnist for Maine’s largest newspaper the, Portland Press Herald, and for Maine’s only food magazine, Maine Food and Lifestyle. Our Maine windjammer and I have also been seen in the Boston Globe, Traditional Home, Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors and cooking with Al Roker on the Today Show.

Your culinary travel experience begins with my 25 years in the kitchen. Learning how to build flavor, improvise with ingredients you have available and utilize different herbs and flowers from your garden to make creative dishes. The menus will focus on fresh, organic, and garden-grown ingredients, 100% of which will be procured within a 100 mile radius including meats, cheese and butter.  Our produce comes mostly from Tom at Hope’s Edge Farm. The photo above is of Tom delivering fresh produce. All the menus will showcase my love and passion for seasonal and quality ingredients.

The dates are June 7 – 10, July 21 – 23 and September 15 – 20. Visit our schedule for pricing and booking.

Actually, E wrote this post because I can’t stand talking about myself in this way, but it would be fun if you came sailing with us!

© 2008 Baggywrinkle Publishing

Bentwood Frame

Bentwood Bentwood fences and arbors are easy to make.  Especially when you have as many trees on your property as we do.  There are general guidelines for wood that is better to use in certain applications, but like many things I do, I just create using what I have on hand.

This frame will become the entrance to the vegetable garden.  The limbs came from a tree in the backyard that needed pruning.  After laying out the two straightest branches parallel to each other, I started shaping them by pounding in stakes to secure everything.  Once the curve at the top is shaped, I then tie everything together with some strong wire or twine. 

I’ve found through trial and error that it’s necessary to use green wood that has just been cut.  Even bending wood an hour or two later increases your chances that it will break rather than bend.

If you are looking for more information, the best source I found when I was learning is a book by Jim Long called Making Bentwood Trellis, Arbors, Gates and Fences.

The potatoes need planting so I think I’ll go do that next.