Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mushroom, Parmesan, and Sage Risotto

 Don't you just love it when things go perfectly right on the first try!

I have never made risotto before. No matter how many recipes tell me it's easy, I have always been intimidated by it.

Probably because it is so freakin delicious, I don't want to be disappointed if I fudge it up!

But as you can see I didn't! Annnd I learned how easy it is. Trust me, its really easy! Thanks to Martha, my risotto was the best I've ever had-no lie! It was perfectly creamy and even though it was made with only a couple of simple ingredients, the dish was full of flavor! I mixed in fresh sage right at the end to add a little more fragrance and flair.

Mushroom, Parmesan, and Sage Risotto
original recipe by Everyday Food Fresh Flavor Fast
adapted recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
2 cans (14 ounces each) chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
2 cups water
3 tablespoons butter
8 ounces mixed fresh mushrooms (I used cremini)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (freshly grated is key here!)
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
salt and pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring broth , water, and porcini mushrooms to a boil. Cook until porcinis are tender, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms, and coarsley chop and set aside. Reduce heat to low, and cover.

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium high heat. Add fresh mushrooms, chopped porcini, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook stirring frequently, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to plate.

Reduce heat to medium low. Add 1 tablespoon butter and the onion to large saucepan; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add rice and cook stirring, 1 minute. Pour in wine; cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 1 minute.

Ladle in 2 cups warm broth (leave behind any remains from the porcini) cook; stirring occasionally, until almost completely absorbed, about 4 to 5 minutes. Continue to add broth 1 cup at a time, stirring occasionally and allowing liquid to be almost absorbed before adding more, until the rice is al dente and mixture is creamy, about 25 minutes total (you may not need all the broth)

Remove from heat. Stir in parmesan, remaining tablespoon of butter, mushrooms, and chopped sage. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Zucchini-Gruyere Beer Bread Biscuits

 I was given this giant zucchini from my grandmother's garden and instead of chopping it up and grilling it with dinner, I wanted to make something different with it.

I'm really not a fan of zucchini on it's own, I have to admit, but I love it's versatility. You can throw it in anything and no one even knows its there! Its perfect for sneaking in vegetables, for kids and for husbands! haha

While browsing through some of my favorite blogs, I found this amazing recipe for Zucchini-Cheddar Drop Biscuits at A Cozy Kitchen. 

We were having quite the cool and dreary day so I thought I would make a nice roasted tomato and red pepper soup and these biscuits to go along with it. The only problem was I had no milk, no cheddar, and only about 3 tablespoons of butter. 

But what I did have was plenty of gruyere and a box of beer bread mix from Tastefully Simple! So I improvised a little bit by adding the zucchini and shredded gruyere to the mix, brushed them with melted butter and sprinkled the tops with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. 

They were the perfect accompaniment to the delicious tomato soup! If you don't have a beer bread mix, no sweat, just click on the link above and following along with Adrianna's recipe!

Zucchini-Gruyere Beer Bread Biscuits
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry. adapted from A Cozy Kitchen
makes 18 to 20 biscuits
3/4 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 small zucchini-I only used have of mine)
1 cup shredded gruyere (or whatever you have on hand)
1 package beer bread mix
12 oz of your favorite beer
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.   

Shred zucchini and squeeze it in paper towels or cheesecloth to release excess water.  Sprinkle it with sea salt.

Mix together beer and bread mix according to package instructions. Gently mix in zucchini and cheese. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and drop large tablespoonfuls of mix. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt and coarsely ground pepper.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Caramel Flan (Pudim Flan)

 This is my last post (for now) of my mom's recipes. Or possibly my last post for a while if I am swept away by this hurricane!

Let's hope not.

Anyways, they say to save the best for last, and that is exactly what I did here! My mom's recipe for pudim flan is one of the best I've had. And she's not even Portuguese!

My father is from Portugal and this dessert is quite the tradition in our family. My mom fell in love with their flan and found a recipe for it in 1987 when Better Homes and Garden featured Portuguese recipes. Ecstatic with what she found, she made it immediately. The recipe didn't let her down and her flan measured up to the tried and true versions of my Portuguese relatives. 

Flan can be tricky. It can be overcooked easily, air bubbles can form ruining it's creamy texture, the sugar can burn creating a bitter taste, or not entirely melt leaving you with small crunchy crystals. The recipe will not let you down! I think the secret is in using the condensed milk! Just follow these simple steps and you will have the richest, creamiest caramel flan!

In the meantime, stay safe New England! Irene is heading our way!

Note: Original recipe calls for only 1 cup sugar and ½ cup water, but my mom increases the sugar because we love the sauce and she skipped the water (for the syrup) since it evaporates anyways. She also omitted the additional sugar added in the custard because the condensed milk is sweet enough.

Caramel Flan (Pudim Flan)
adapted recipe by Jackie S.
serves 6
Caramel Syrup:
1 1/2 cups sugar

Custard:
1 can condensed milk
1 cup whole milk
Pinch of salt
Teaspoon of vanilla
4 eggs

In a dry non stick skillet over medium heat add the sugar. It won’t look like it’s doing a thing or even melting for a bit till it reaches just the right temperature. You have to watch it. Every now and then give it a stir and it will stick and be clumpy and hard but just be patient and let it melt. All of a sudden you will see it start to melt and turn brown. The goal is to only let it get light to medium colored brown, like amber gold, and you must keep stirring once you see a glimmer of melting.  It will reach this color very fast and once it does remove from heat otherwise it will get too dark and take on a burnt taste…throw away and start over if this happens.

Pour the syrup into a glass round baking dish and using pot holders, quickly turn the dish so that the sides are glazed with the syrup. It will set very quickly and the idea is to get the sides to be coated more-so than the bottom. That’s because when you invert it the next day, some of the syrup stays in the bottom and I like all I can get. Set aside.


Add all custard ingredients into a blender and process until well blended. Pour into glazed dish and put it into another larger pan with hot water so that he water comes up half the side of the flan dish. 

Bake in 325 degree oven until knife inserted near the center comes out clean or it is slightly brown on top and feels set if you jiggle the pan a bit. About 1 hour.

Allow to cool and refrigerate overnight. 

When time to serve, use a knife to just cut around the edge and invert onto platter. Spoon out as much of the syrup as you can so everyone gets enough. 
Secret: By omitting the water in the melting of the sugar you get a stronger caramel taste that almost has a coffee flavor and by omitting the sugar in the custard it’s not too sweet.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Pecan Crisps

 I know what you're thinking...you forgot to list the pecans! 

 No, no. These wonderful little treats are not made with pecans, even though their name leads you to believe so. By all means, you can use pecans! I bet they will be just as delicious! But my mother never used them. I'll let her tell you the story about our family's beloved pecan crisps!

"This is such an old recipe. If I remember correctly, Grammy saw this recipe in the evening newspaper one holiday season when I was just a kid. She made them for the holidays, but pecans were expensive back then (and probably still are) so she substituted walnuts. She used walnuts my entire life but we always called them pecan crisps. I continued the tradition and even YOU still call them pecan crisps ha ha and I mostly used walnuts. The best thing about these tarts is that they are not made with corn syrup, many are."

At every holiday get-together, pecan crisps always find their way to the dessert table. I remember my mom grinding the walnuts with a hand grinder and my dad helping to form the crusts. This was the first time I made this recipe. My Aunt bought me a set of tiny tart tins for Christmas one year so I could keep up the family tradition. I was surprised at how easy it was to make these. Although the gooey, nutty, center is just heavenly, the tiny crusts are my favorite! They're made with cream cheese and butter! Need I say more.

Pecan Crisps
original recipe unknown
adapted recipe by Jackie S.
makes 24 tarts
Filling:
1 cup chopped nuts
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. melted butter
1 egg, well beaten
Dough:
3 oz cream cheese 
1 stick butter
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix filling ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. 

Mix cheese, butter and flour well. I always cut in the butter and cheese using two knives then eventually got my hands into it.

Pinch off pieces of dough and shape into balls. Using an ungreased small muffin tin, press each ball to line each cup. Spoon rounded teaspoon of filling into each cup. Bake for 20-25 minutes. However, ovens may vary and you only want the dough slightly brown so make sure to keep an eye on them. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and remove with a butter knife. They should slide right out.


Note: dough works better when slightly chilled.



linked with: Sweets for a Saturday, Whipperberry


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Whoopie Pies

After our trip to Portland, where we sampled real Maine whoopie pies, my mom decided to dig out her recipe so we could enjoy them without the 2 hour drive.


My mom really knows how to make a good whoopie pie and I am so happy she decided to share this recipe with you! So if you're looking for an authentic recipe, look no further!


Whoopie Pies
recipe by Jackie S.
makes about 24 
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
1 egg
5 tablespoons cocoa
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Beat together sugar and butter, add egg and mix until combined. Sift together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture and milk and mix well. Drop on an un-greased cookie sheet by small tablespoons. Bake 5 to 7 minutes. Once cooled, transfer to a wire rack.



Filling:

1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 cup marshmallow fluff
1/4 teaspoon salt 
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat together ingredients until smooth. Pipe the mixture in between cooled cake patties or spread with a butter knife. Enjoy!


linked with: Sweets for a Saturday, Whipperberry

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fig, Walnut, and Proscuitto Pizza

 Here is another wonderful creation from my mom. She actually has quite a few pizza recipes up her sleeve. This is one of my favorites and one she thinks you all will like best.

For the sauce she uses Fig & Walnut Butter from Stonewall Kitchen.We visited Stonewall Kitchen in Portland, Maine a couple months ago. I picked up a jar so I could make this pizza and hopefully more delicious items in the near future. Stonewall's website has tons of recipes  using their products so if you see something in the store you love, check out their site to see the different ways you can use it!

This pizza is a favorite for many reasons! It's the perfect combination of salty and sweet with the crispy proscuitto and chunky fig and walnut butter. Its topped with white cheddar cheese and fresh spinach. and by using store-bought Naan bread for the crust, this dish comes together in less than 20 minutes!

Fig, Walnut, and Proscuitto Pizza
makes 2 individual pizzas
recipes by Jackie S.
1 package tandoori naan bread (2 are in a package)
4 slices proscuitto, sliced into small strips
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup fig and walnut butter
2 cups chopped baby spinach

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Spread fig and walnut butter over both naan breads.

Top with sliced proscuitto and cheese and bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and proscuitto is crispy.

Top with chopped spinach and enjoy!



Monday, August 22, 2011

Watermelon, Blueberry, and Kale Salad





Meet Jackie. She's my mom. She is the most amazing woman I know.




Her birthday is on Wednesday and I'd like to celebrate her by giving you a week of her recipes!

She has taught me that I can do anything or be anything I want to; and she herself is the perfect example of that. I am very lucky to have her in my life, not only as a mom, but also as a best friend.


She also taught me how to cook and is probably the reason why I love food so much! My mom cooks with mainly organic and all natural ingredients that are extremely healthy and powerful. She also has some traditional recipes that I will never forget enjoying as a child. These may not be as good for you, (like her killer whoopie pies!) but they are definitely amazing! I'll be sharing a little of both with you this week!

This dish is one of the most refreshing summer salads I've had. You really can't go wrong with watermelon, blueberries, and mint! And the benefits of kale are endless!


Watermelon, Blueberry, and Kale Salad
serves 4
recipe by Jackie S.
1 large bunch of kale, stems removed, and finely chopped
2 cups cubed watermelon
1 pint blueberries
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
balsamic vinaigrette


Toss all ingredients together and dress with balsamic vinaigrette. Perfect for a hot summer night!






Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Portuguese Peasant Supper

 I love peasant food. I love the simplicity of it. The fact that its homemade, hearty, and cheap! Peasant food is made from local staple foods, items grown from the garden, and that are plentiful in your area.


This meal brings back so many memories for me. I would stay at my Avo's house during the summer and she would fix us a boiled lunch, consisting of potatoes, eggs, and some kind of bitter greens - everyday. We would dress it simply with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.


Sometimes she would mix it up by adding or substituting carrots, turnips, or red beans. She would basically use whatever she had in her cabinets. The other day, my mom brought me over a fresh bundle of broccoli rabe (or "grelos" in Portuguese) I knew just what I had to make with it!


I made my favorite combination of potatoes, beans, grelos, and eggs. Instead of boiled potatoes, I used some leftover red potatoes we grilled the night before. This dish may seem plain and uninteresting, but it gives you the opportunity to get up close and personal with the true flavors of each ingredient.


I find it very interesting nowadays, to see peasant food has been brought back into current food trends. It's really all about eating simply, organic, and local. In this case organic and local meant right outside in my Avo's backyard. 


Portuguese Peasant Supper
recipe by Maria S.
serves 4
8 yellow potatoes, peeled and cut horizontally to form circles a 1/2 in thick (or use any leftover over potatoes that are whole)
1 15oz can red kidney beans, drained
1 large bunch broccoli rabe, ends trimmed
4 boiled eggs
olive oil
vinegar (I used balsamic)
salt & pepper


Fill a tall pan with water. Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender. About 10 to 15 minutes. Add broccoli rabe to the pot cook during the last 5 minutes. Drain and arrange on a serving platter.


Heat beans and small saucepan until heated through. Add to platter, along with sliced boiled eggs. Serve with oil and vinegar.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries with an Avocado Aioli

 A couple weeks ago, I received a little surprise in the mail from Foodbuzz's Tastemaker Program! A coupon for a bag of Ore-Ida Sweet Potato Fries! Along with the coupon was a letter from Foodbuzz asking me to make something delicious with them! I thought long and hard about making something spectacular and outside the box. However, since the fries are meant to save you time, I decided on making something simple instead, using store-bought ingredients.

I decided on coating the fries with a salty and spicy blend and making an avocado aioli with guacamole, mayonnaise, and fresh cilantro to dip them in.

What I like most about these fries is how crispy they turned out! I typically hesitate buying frozen fries because I've yet to find ones that aren't soggy. Although I baked these in the oven, they tasted like they were straight from the deep fryer!

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries with an Avocado Aioli
recipe by Sabrina W. for eat.drink.and be merry.
Serves 6 to 8 as a snack / appetizer
1 bag Ore-Ida Sweet Potato Fries
1/2 cup store-bought guacamole (I used Wholly Guacamole)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Bake sweet potato fries according to package instructions. Once cooked through, immediately sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and chili powder.

While fries are baking. Mix together guacamole, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and cilantro. Serve alongside spicy sweet potato fries.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Rustic Summer Berry Croustade

I wouldn't be able to post a week of Maine dishes without posting something blueberry. While in Maine we enjoyed a variety of blueberry dishes from a traditional blueberry pie to fresh blueberry daiquiris with homemade whipped cream!

What I like about this particular blueberry dish is how un-perfect it looks (if that's a word!) The rustic edges give it that homemade or "down to earth" look and the addition of sliced almonds gives it an unexpected crunch!

I have had a lot of fun making my way through Brooke's book, Dishing Up Maine. You can find my previous posts from her cookbook here.

I also picked up a wonderful book titled "The Way Life Should Be" by Christina Baker Kline. The story takes place on Mount Desert Island and follows the main character, Angela, as she ends up in Maine chasing her fantasy of the way life should be. She not only explores a new way of life, very different from NYC, but she finds a passion for cooking that she picked up from her Italian grandmother. I entirely enjoyed her story and it is also filled with some fabulous recipes and cooking tips! 

Rustic Summer Berry Croustade
recipe by Brooke Dojny for Dishing Up Maine
serves 6 to 8

Pastry
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
 2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Filling
2 1/2 cups blueberries (1 1/4 pints) or fruit combination (I used blueberries and raspberries)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water (egg glaze)
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into 3 or 4 pieces
powdered sugar (garnish)
vanilla ice cream (optional)

To make the pastry, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse to mix. Distribute the butter over the flour and process in short bursts until the mixture is about the size of small peas. (or you can combine the butter into the dry mix with 2 knifes or your hands if you don't have a food processor) Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of ice water and mix in. The dough should be come just wet enough to form a ball. If it seems to dry, add the last tablespoon of water.

Turn out a sheet of plastic wrap, gather into a ball, flatten to a 5 inch disc, and refrigerate for at least 3 minutes.

To make the pie filling, toss the berries with the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a large bowl. (Note: Do not make ahead. Assemble together right before your dough is ready. The berries will become too juicy and with leak everywhere)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

On lightly floured surface, roll out the dough, working from the center in all directions until you have a 13 inch round. Do not trim the edges, as they are supposed to be ragged. Fold the pastry in half, then transfer it into a large rimmed baking sheet, patching any tears by pressing the dough together with your fingers. Brush the pastry with some of the egg glaze and sprinkle with almonds. Spoon the fruit filling onto the dough, mounding it slightly higher in the center and leaving a 2 inch border all around the edge. Fold the border in, pleating it as necessary to make and uneven 1 1/2 inch wide edge. Scatter the butter over the fruit and brush the edges of the crust with the egg glaze. 

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue to bake 25 to 30 minutes longer, until the pastry is golden brown, and the fruit is soft, and juices bubbly. Once completely cool, transfer to a wire rack with a large spatula to cool.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve slightly warm or at room temperature, with scoops of vanilla ice cream if desired.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Special Occasion Lobster Salad

 Brooke takes her traditional lobster salad for her lobster roll adds a few more ingredients to make it really stand out. I love the added fresh tarragon and the texture from the crunchy celery and green onions. Brooke serves this salad with snow peas and radishes.

Special Occasion Lobster Salad
recipe by Brooke Dojny for Dishing Up Maine
serves 4
2/3 mayonnaise
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard 
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 1/2 cups diced cooked lobster meat (about 1 pound)
2/3 cup minced celery (about 1 medium rib)
4 thinly sliced scallions
salt and pepper
bibb lettuce leaves
1 cup trimmed and blanched snow peas
4 radishes, thinly sliced

To make the dressing, whisk together the mayonnaise, tarragon, mustard, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cayenne in a small bowl.

To make the salad, toss together the lobster, celery, and scallions. Add most of the dressing and stir gently but thoroughly to mix. The salad can be made up to 4 hours ahead and refrigerated, covered.

To serve, stir the salad, adding more dressing if necessary, and season with the salt and pepper to taste. Serve on top of bibb lettuce leaves, and arrange snow peas and radishes along the edge.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chicken Breasts with Morels, Leeks, and Cream

 What in the world is a morel? 


I am glad you're wondering! Morels are extremely delicious and woodsy mushrooms that can be harvested in the forests of Maine during spring. Brooke describes them having "dark brown, pitted, conical caps" and look like "a sponge on a stick." Their earthy and bold flavor are the perfect compliment to chicken and pork.




Unfortunately I could not find Morels in my grocery store and I wish I would have grabbed some while I was up in Maine. I used dried porcini mushrooms instead and the dish was absolutely fabulous! Make sure to read the re hydration instructions on the back of the package. It is typically 10 minutes if they are soaked in boiling water.


Chicken Breasts with Morels, Leeks, and Cream
recipe by Brooke Dojny for Dishing Up Maine
serves 4
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, about 5 ounces each
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter
5 slender leeks, thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
8 ounces (about 3 cups) morel mushrooms, trimmed and halved if large (Unfortunately, morel mushrooms were not available so I substituted porcini mushrooms, Brooke also suggests portabellas or any other wild or cultivated mushrooms)
1 cup slightly sweet wine, such as reisling 
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of 3/4 medium lemon)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour, shaking off the excess.

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken, covered, until golden brown on both sides, about 8 minutes total. Remove to a plate, leaving the drippings in the pan.

Add the leeks, cover the pan, and cook for 5 minutes.

Uncover, add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their aroma and start to wilt, about 3 minutes.

Add the wine, raise the heat high, and boil briskly until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

Add the cream, return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is lightly reduced and thickened and the chicken is no longer pink, 5 to 10 minutes.

Squeeze in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. (The dish can be made up to 4 hours ahead and refrigerated. Reheat gently before serving.)

Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Classic Down East Haddock Chowder

 This was my first attempt EVER at making a seafood chowder. To my surprise, it was just as simple as making my Grammy's Corn Chowder. I would suggest asking for a skinned piece of fish at your fish market, because I had quite the struggle getting the skin off mine. 


Brooke has a few wonderful chowder and stew recipes in her book, Dishing Up Maine, and it was very difficult trying to decided which one to make. It was a toss up between this recipe and the Creamy Smoked Fish and Corn Chowder that was listed on the next page.

I served the chowder with a fresh baguette, sliced, brushed with oil, and sprinkled with garlic powder, thyme, and shredded parmesan cheese. I baked them for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.


Classic Down East Haddock Chowder
recipe by Brooke Dojny for Dishing Up Maine
yields 4 to 6 main course servings (about 2 quarts)
3 oz bacon or salt pork, cut into small pieces, about 3/4 cup
1 large onion, sliced
1 celery rib, sliced (optional)
2 cups bottled clam juice
1 cup water, plus more if necessary
3 cups diced russet or all purpose, such as yukon gold (about 1 pound)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups half & half
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
2 pounds haddock, cod, or pollock, cut into 2 to 3 inch chunks
2 tablespoons butter
Cook the bacon in a large soup pot over medium heat until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the bacon bits with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels (refrigerate until ready to serve)You should have at least 2 to 3 tablespoons of fat left in the pot.

Add the onion and celery to the drippings and cook over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the clam juice, water, potatoes, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, covered until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Add the half and half and thyme. Add the fish, bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook until the fish is opaque, about 5 minutes. Cool, uncovered, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

When ready to serve, add the butter and reheat gently (do not boil) adjusting the seasonings and adding more water if necessary, and ladle into bowls. Pass a bowl of reserved bacon bits for sprinkle on top, if desired.
Note: You do not have to wait the 4 hours. Eric and I enjoyed this chowder once it was finished and it tasted wonderful. Brooke suggests that the "depth of the flavor lies in the aging process" and it was very tasty the next day at lunch. I do believe it made a difference in the flavor and it might be easier to make this chowder ahead of time if you are entertaining. But if you don't have the time, you do not have to wait.


 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lemon-Tarragon Crab Spread

Here it is! My first dish out of Brook Dojny's cookbook, Dishing Up Maine.

I love creamy spreads, especially those enhanced with fresh ingredients like lemon and tarragon. Serving this light appetizer with cucumbers is the perfect way to start off a delicious summer meal. The crab I found wasn't as good as the bounty of it you would find in Maine, but check with your local seafood market for the freshest quality.

Lemon-Tarragon Crab Spread
yields 8 servings
recipe by Brooke Dojny for Dishing Up Maine
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup finely chopped scallions (about 2 scallions)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (from 1/2 medium lemon)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound fresh crabmeat, picked over to remove any shell or cartilage
salt
2 European cucumbers

Whisk together the mayonnaise, cream cheese, scallions, tarragon, lemon zest, and cayenne pepper in a large bowl until smooth.

Add the crab and stir with a large fork until well mixed. Season with the salt to taste. (You can make this up to 6 hours ahead and refrigerate) 

Score the cucumbers horizontally with a fork and slice about 1/4-inch thick. Spoon the crab mixture atop the cucumber slices, garnish with tarragon sprigs. OR place the crab mixture in a bowl and surround with cucumber slices (I added wheat crackers too) and let guests serve themselves.


 

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