The Great British Baking Show – I had to try a recipe

Who has not spent an afternoon snuggled on the couch with their daughter watching The Great British Baking Show?  If you haven’t, you need to.  Especially the earlier seasons.  I’m still a little unaccepting of the recent changes to the show, but that’s just me and eventually I will move on.  However, Mary Berry is still my favorite host and will be forever and ever.

Of course after spending an afternoon watching, any self respecting foodie has to try a recipe or two.  This one is a perfect winter time cake.  We made ours and had it with tea in honor of, well, Britain, but it would be just as good served after dinner as a special dessert.

The recipe for Mary Berry’s Frosted Walnut Layer Cake is on the BBC website.

Mary Berry's Frosted Walnut Layer Cake
Mary Berry’s Frosted Walnut Layer Cake

 

Holiday Baking – White Chocolate, Cranberry, Pecan Bars

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, Pecan, and Coconut Bars Photo by Elizabeth Poisson

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.

Crust
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

Topping
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

Crust
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.

Topping
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

Annie
P.S. Cookbooks make a wonderful holiday gift.  Just saying.

Holiday Appetizer – Rosemary Cheese with Apricot Preserves

Rosemaryt Cheese with Apricot Preserves by Elizabeth Poisson

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
1/2 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 Cocktail – Fresh Sea Breeze

I raise a glass to all of you and your loved ones.  Thank you to all of you who read, comment, and use my recipes.  To all of you who sail with us and allow us to do the work we do.  We are so thankful for you all!

Here’s a cocktail for your Thanksgiving table.  May your day be filled with family and friends, love and laughter.

Thanksgiving cocktail with cranberries
A toast to you all!

Fresh Sea Breeze
1 1/2 ounces Cold River Vodka
3 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
1 1/2 ounces cranberry syrup (see recipe below)
ice for serving
3 cranberries in syrup
1 lime wheel

Add ice to an old-fashioned glass. Pour vodka and grapefruit juice over the ice and stir. Add the cranberry syrup and let it fall to the bottom of the glass. Garnish with cranberries and lime wheel

Makes 1 cocktail

Cranberry Syrup
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
3 cups water

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the cranberries all “pop” and release their juices. Cool and store in a covered jar in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Makes 4 cups

Alternate: Shake 1/4 cup cranberries and syrup together and serve with candied grapefruit peel.

Holiday Pumpkin Roll

Pumpkin Roll Photo by Elizabeth Poisson

This recipe was given to me by my friend, Linda Bournival, and I’ve only adjusted it for style, not content. She makes it for holiday gifts and gifts it with the recipe included since so many people ask her for it. It will forever be one of my favorites.

Pumpkin Roll
Cake
unsalted butter (for the jelly roll pan)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup minced pecans
1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Filling
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 15 1/2- x 10 1/2- inch jelly roll pan and line with parchment paper. Place a sifter on top of a small plate and measure the dry ingredients into the sifter. Combine the eggs and sugar in a large bowl with a whisk or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the pumpkin, combine well, and then sift in the dry ingredients. Spread the batter onto the prepared pan and sprinkle with the pecans. Bake for 15 minutes or until the center is done and the edges pull slightly away from the pan. Meanwhile, spread a kitchen towel out on the counter and sprinkle with the confectioner’s sugar. Turn the finished cake onto the towel to cool. Peel off the parchment paper and roll the cake and towel into a log. Set aside to cool.

Filling
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, scraping down the sides occasionally. Unroll the cooled cake and spread the filling over the whole cake. Roll up again, removing the towel and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the filling to set and slice into 8 to 12 pieces.

Serves 8 to 12

Annie
May your holidays be filled with love and laughter

Sesame, Ginger and Tahini Chicken and Shrimp

Today I’m thinking about healthy choices – in what I eat, how I move, the interactions I have with my family – and the balance that is required to do these things well.

Greens AND brownies, running AND couch time, speaking my mind AND holding my tongue.  I want them all, just not in the same amount and at the same time.  The trick is to navigate when a brownie is just the thing (and these King Arthur Flour brownies are totally the thing) and when greens are a better choice.  Likewise with relationships, say, just hypothetically, when you are having a conversation with your daughter about future college and life plans when you are both hormonal.  Sometimes the healthiest choice is to say what you feel.  Other times, it’s best to not share exactly what is running through your mind in that specific moment.  When I’m navigating these moments successfully, which, let me tell you, is not always the case, I’m feeling my way to the best choice.  Calmly noticing.  Aware, but not hyper sensitive.

And, not to segue too abruptly to food, but actually, the same is true when I’m making a recipe.  I sort of feel my way to the right flavors.  In the same way that you might feel your way through a delicate conversation.  In this case, it’s a conversation with food and flavors.  This meal, the creamy AND limey, the greens AND rice, the chicken AND shrimp is one with balance.  One that walks the line of not too much sharing and not too much holding back.  I could have used a little more of that last night when in conversation with my daughter.  Ah well, at least I managed it in this meal.

SeasmeTahiniChickenSesame, Ginger and Tahini Chicken and Shrimp over Rice and a Bed of Spinach
This dish is just as easily made with chicken OR shrimp, but the combination of the two is my favorite.
Basmati Rice:
2 cups basmati rice
Salt

Sauce:
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup tahini
1 1/2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup diced onions; about 1 medium onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger
8 ounces boneless chicken breast; about 1 large breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces medium (41-50 count) raw shrimp, peeled
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup water, as needed
8 ounces baby spinach leaves

Garnish:
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Wedges of lime
Cilantro leaves
Sriracha

Rice:
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. The water should be as salted as you want your rice and no more. Add the rice and stir well. When the water again comes to a boil, set the timer for 18 minutes. Pour into a strainer and let sit for 5 minutes or longer while you prepare the sauce.

Sauce:
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the pumpkin seeds. Heat, stirring often, until the seeds begin to brown. Transfer to a blender and add the chicken stock, tahini and tamari. Blend until well mixed and smooth. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the salt, garlic, ginger and chicken and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the white wine and bring to a simmer. Add the shrimp and cook until you can just see a little bit of gray remaining. Add the pumpkin seed mixture and stir well adding water as needed to loosen the sauce. Serve immediately over rice and a bed of spinach. Garnish with sesame seeds, lime, cilantro, and Sriracha.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Finding the balance where I can.

Maine Seafood Chowder

Often times when I make chowder, I’m standing next to my hot cast iron wood stove (on our Maine windjammer) stirring at least a couple of pots, turning bread baking in the oven and prepping yet another baked good slatted for a future meal.  I think of how many pots of chowder have been made on wood stoves just like mine and the people these potages have nourished.

It’s a traditional meal that pulls musings of times past and almost demands the ritual of following in the footsteps of cooks that have gone before.

All sorts of chowder recipes abound in these parts, but most of them, while delicious, are not chowder in the book of old-time Mainers.  True chowder is milky, not thick, and is slightly thickened with either day old biscuits or oyster crackers (or saltines), not a roux (a flour and butter mixture).  In addition, true chowder contains salt pork, not bacon.  Always.  If either of these things are not in existence, then, I’ve been told, it’s not true Maine chowder, however yummy.

This recipe begins with the required salt pork, something fairly easy to come by in our local Maine butchers or even in the grocery store.  This salted, but not smoked, pig belly is the backbone of flavor for every traditional chowder one might concoct.  In addition, once the vegetables have sauteed and become soft, day-old biscuits are added – fairly early in the soup making process so they have ample time to soften and disintegrate, becoming indistinguishable and thickening the soup slightly.

Lastly, because I’m often making my chowder on the Riggin where I could be called away from the stove at any moment to drive the yawl boat, take the wheel, or tend to a guest, I use evaporated milk.  Evaporated milk doesn’t separate nearly as easily as straight milk when the heat is on for too long.  It’s a safety net for me and does add a bit of body and flavor to the soup as well.

Enjoy this nod to the food traditions of the past.  Who knows, maybe one of your ancestors made chowder for their people.

Maine Seafood Chowder Photo by Rocky Coast Photography

Maine Seafood Chowder
6 ounces salt pork
2 cups diced celery; about 3 stalks
2 cups diced onion; about 1 large onion
6 cups potatoes, peeled if need and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 day old biscuits or 6 saltines
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups clam juice
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cans evaporated milk
1 pound haddock
1/4 pound 40-60 shrimp, shells removed and sliced in half
1 pound fresh clams, well-cleaned or 2 cups canned clams

Score the salt pork and place it scored side down in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. When the salt pork has rendered for 5 to 10 minutes, add the celery and the onions and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the potatoes and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the biscuits, salt, pepper, clam juice and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the biscuits have disintegrated and the potatoes are cooked through. Add the evaporated milk and bring to a simmer again. Lastly add the seafood and just cook through, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let the haddock finish cooking.

Serves 6 to 8

Annie
Headed off to make biscuits to go with AND into the chowder!

Greens with Toasted Cumin, Beans, Beets, and Goat Cheese

This time of year when excess has surpassed moderation to a degree that feels uncomfortable, I reach for greens, roasted vegetables, and grains. Protein comes in the form of beans, nuts, and avocados and I crave simple flavors, rich only in the essence of the ingredient, not slathered in sauce or gravy.

After the New Year dinner. Tons of greens, no meat. Whew!
After the New Year dinner. Tons of greens, no meat. Whew!

This dish is one that came from needing to use up a number of ingredients left from a farm share and the last harvest of miraculous greens from the garden. Vegetarian in design and satisfying in flavor and simplicity, this dish is among those we’ve been reaching for ever since the first of the year.

Greens with Toasted Cumin, Beans, Beets, and Goat Cheese
1, 29 ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
1 teaspoon lime juice
Pinch of salt
Fresh black pepper
4 ounces goat cheese
Roasted Beets and Leeks (recipe below)
Greens with Toasted Cumin (recipe below)

To assemble, spread the greens on large platter or on individual plates. Heat the black beans in the skillet that cooked the greens and meanwhile gather the rest of your ingredients. When the beans are hot, transfer them on top of the greens. The beats go next. Garnish with slices of avocado, sprinkle with lime juice, salt and pepper and dot with goat cheese.

Serves 4 to 6

Roasted Beets and Leeks
Remove the skin of the beets only if they are very large. Otherwise, the skin adds a textural element that is a complement to the softer flesh.
2 pounds beets, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups diced leeks, about 1 leek cleaned well
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the beets with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheets with sides. Transfer to the oven for 1 hour. Add the diced leeks and stir to coat with the oil and return to the oven for another 15 minutes or until the leeks are cooked through and beginning to brown.

Greens with Toasted Cumin
I used Brussels sprouts greens for this recipe, but it’s only because I’d just harvested them from the garden. I’ve never seen them in our grocery store, and kale or collard greens are a perfect substitute.

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound Brussels sprouts greens (or kale or collard greens)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the cumin into the bottom of the pan and make sure that the greens are ready to add. Toast the cumin for about 30 seconds or until it becomes fragrant. Add the greens immediately and then the olive oil. Turn with tongs and incorporate the salt and pepper as well. Brussels sprouts greens are sturdy and take about 10 minutes to soften. Kale will be cooked in just a few minutes.

Annie
I feel lighter just writing about it.

Ginger, Sesame Chicken Soup with Cilantro Sesame Pesto

A pot of chicken stock simmering on the stove.  The windows edged with moisture.  The wind howling outside while inside, all is well, warm, and welcoming.  That’s what this soup is about.

Today I’m feeling especially grateful for the people who grow our food and the animals that become our meals.  That our food is well-tended before it reaches our plates is a gift.  I appreciate what nourishes my body and the bodies of those I love.  Abundance comes to us in so many ways and I feel rich and full and blessed.

Chicken Soup Photo Rocky Coast Photography

Ginger, Sesame Chicken Soup with Cilantro Sesame Pesto
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups diced onions; about 1 large onion
2 cups diced carrots; about 2 carrots
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and julienned (cut into match-stick sized pieces)
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 cups cooked chicken meat

Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil, onions and carrots and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the ginger and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil to heat through. Serve with a dollop of Cilantro Sesame Pesto.

Serves 4 to 6

Cilantro Sesame Pesto
1/3 cup sesame seeds
2 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves and stems
1/4 cup scallions, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 small garlic clove, smashed
3/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine everything in the food processor and pulse until thoroughly combined.

Makes about 1/2 cup

Annie
Enjoy this light, after-the-holidays meal!

Apricot Orange Pound Cake – Holiday Baking

Wondering what to bake for the mail man and your kids’ teachers?  This pound cake, filled with the fragrant, fruity flavors of apricot and orange could be just the thing.

While the apricot and orange extracts might not be readily on hand in your pantry, they make all the difference. I’ve seen them at my local grocery store and have also had some happy luck on Olive Nation with some seriously delicious extracts that have kept my creative baking spirit happy all summer long on the boat.

This recipe was given to me by an exceptional family that sailed with us several years ago. They own a bakery in Amish country and the original recipe is one of their top sellers.  I’ve, of course, changed some of the extracts, due in large part to running out rather than because the recipe needed a single tweak.  Thank you Beiler family for your gift of the original recipe.

Apricot Orange Poundcake Photo Rocky Coast Photography

Apricot Orange Pound Cake
If you end up doubling the recipe, then use five eggs instead of four.  I’ve found the recipe works just a wee bit better.
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon apricot extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract

Glaze:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon apricot extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one, 9 x 5 inch, loaf pan.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt to a sifter.  Measure the milk and add the extracts.  Sift half of the flour mixture and add half of the milk mixture to the butter and sugar and mix until incorporated.  Repeat and pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a fork inserted in the center of the cake comes clean.

Glaze:
Bring all the glaze ingredients to a boil; pour it over the cake just as it comes out of the oven. Let the cake cool a bit before removing it from the pan.

Serves 8

Annie