January is typically a very busy month for bookings in the Riggin office with people getting their vacations times in order and planning their summers. Really, what this means is if you are planning on sailing with us, now is the time. Many of our trips are already full. Take advantage of our Early Bird 5% discount (10% for repeats) if you book before Feb. 1st. We’ll be so happy to welcome you aboard!
As the summer season progresses, I sometimes run out of creative ideas and begin asking the crew what they want me to make. Pretty much anything is on the table as long as I can make it on the woodstove and without electricity (meaning something with a lot of whisking is off the table). Not too many years ago, we had a crew member of Italian decent who was from New York, and he asked me to make garlic knots. I’d never heard of them, being from the Midwest and having lived in Maine the better part of my life.
He was flabbergasted. So I looked them up and fashioned my own recipe. And aren’t they just little bits of heaven? There’s always more to learn.
3/4 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 teaspoon table salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic; about 2 cloves
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
1/2 ounce grated Romano cheese; 1/4 cup lightly packed
Combine the yeast, salt, and flour in a large bowl. Stir in all the remaining ingredients, reserving 1/4 cup water. Mix thoroughly and add the reserved water if needed. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes or until smooth. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and set aside in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place a pan filled with stones in the bottom of the oven or alternately, prepare a squirt bottle of water. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll the dough into 4 long logs and cut each log into 5 equal lengths, making a total of 20 small logs. Roll each piece again briefly and then tie into a loose knot. Arrange evenly on a baking sheet, cover, and allow to rise again until doubled. Place the pan in the oven, add water to the stones in the pan (or squirt the oven with water), and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 20 minutes or until an internal-read thermometer registers 190°F.
Meanwhile, combine the butter, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and set aside. Transfer the hot knots to a large bowl, toss with the butter mixture, and sprinkle with Romano. Serve warm.
Makes 20 garlic knots
Having just returned from a first-ever family vacation, I can attest with absolute certainty that there’s nothing that replaces time with family, making memories. Presents under the tree are wonderful (and the hand-made ones are the best). But even more, the gift of unrestricted time, to allow the day to unfold without an agenda and with each other, is truly without compare.
With that said, we now have a way to order gift certificates online. You don’t need to purchase a whole trip, but could just contribute to a trip for someone you love. I realize now, more poignantly, how we participate in these memories and are honored to do so.
Happy Holidays to you all!
As anyone who has sailed with us knows, Kitchen Aides and Cuisinarts are not a part of my tool kit on the Riggin. They require electricity, something I don’t have in my galley. What I do have is good, old-fashioned muscle and technique. I use very basic tools to make very special baked goods and I don’t need a lot to accomplish this.
Also, because I have limited space, the tools I do have on the boat need to be ones that I use all the time or they need to do more than one task. Here’s my list of tools that I wouldn’t go sailing without and that might spark an idea or two for the baker in your life, whether they bake on dry land or on the water.
My three favorite stores for baking and cooking tools are: The Good Table, Now You’re Cooking, and King Arthur Flour. All are wonderful, local stores with a well-curated supply of useful baking tools.
Sifter – While a whisk will work for this task, there’s nothing that works better for making light, fluffy cakes.
Scale – The best bakers weigh all of their ingredients. If nothing else, sometimes a recipe calls for a weighed amount and not a measured amount. Super helpful.
Thermometer – All baking is about details and precision. Don’t over or under bake anything again by removing it from the heat at just the right temperature.
Parchment paper – A gift from the non-stick gods. Lining cake pans and cookies sheets with parchment or with a silicone sheet helps with the least favorite part of baking – the clean up!
Whisk – Just don’t try a baking life without one. Great for thin batters, egg whites, and whipped cream, but a whisk will also work as a sifter in a pinch. Just not for those super fluffy genoise cakes and such.
Rolling pin – Wooden ones are my favorite. With or without handles, this is an essential piece of any bakers arsenal.
Pastry bag – At some point you’ll want to try your hand at pate au choux or decorating a cake. The professional way to go is with a pastry bag and at least a few basic pastry tips.
Cookie scoop – Bake cookies that are all the same size by scooping them with this cookie scoop. It makes the process go so much faster too.
Pastry knife – For making biscuits and pie crust, this tool is essential. There isn’t a day on the boat that goes by where I don’t use this handy tool.
Bench scraper – Bread bakers, pie bakers, biscuit bakers and basically anyone who gets dough on the counter for any reason will love this tool. Again, I use it on a daily basis.
Cooling rack – While this is one tool that I don’t have space for on the Riggin, I do use them at home all the time, and there I almost never have enough. 🙂
Also, doesn’t it go without saying that every baker (and cook) should have cookbooks that they love and trust (like Sugar & Salt and At Home, At Sea)?
The windows are slightly foggy in the corners and the house is filled with the redolent smells of baking chocolate, toasted coconut, and warm pecans. Right now, there might not be anything more tempting. All the while outside, the wind howls and the snow pelts the side of the house. Occasionally, a large mound of snow will slide off the roof to announce itself and inside, we are warm and cozy, baking one of our many holiday gifts. Later, when the wind dies down, I’ll go for a snow shoe in the field out back. If it’s really late, I’ll cross my fingers the sky is clear and the moon lights the way. Moments like these have me feeling grateful for family, warmth, small houses, little things, rosy cheeks, and Maine winters.
White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Pecan Bars
We also called these Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Bars. They first appeared in At Home, At Sea: Recipes from a Maine Windjammer and this is a riff on that original recipe.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted (plus a little extra for the pan)
2 cups crushed vanilla wafers or graham crackers
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
6 ounces shaved white chocolate or white chocolate chips; about 1 1/4 cup
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 300°F. Spread the coconut in a 9- x 13-inch pan and toast for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring two or three times. In a medium bowl, combine the graham crackers, melted butter, and toasted coconut. Lightly butter the 9- x 13-inch pan and then transfer the mixture, pressing firmly with your hands to pack evenly. Turn the oven temperature up to 325°F. Chill the pan for 15 minutes and then bake for 10 minutes or until it begins to turn golden.
Remove from oven and sprinkle the chocolate, cranberries, and pecans over the crust. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over all and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes or until the center begins to bubble just slightly.
Let cool on a wire rack and cut into 12 or 24 even pieces.
Makes 12 or 24 bars
P.S. Cookbooks make a wonderful holiday gift. Just saying.
All of these nautical holiday cards are for sale in our little online store. Anyone interested in cookbooks for the foodies in your life can find them there as well. The packs come in sets of 10 and the first 10 orders receive a pack of “Santa’s New Ride” for free.
Every one of these beauties was hand-painted by Jon, my super talented husband and the captain of the Riggin. He’s got an eye for boats, that guy does.