Eating Spring Dug Root Vegetables – Parsnip Latkes

How fun to have both harvested the last of the parsnips on the same day that I planted next spring’s crop.  In playing around with these ivory beauties, I created a couple of new recipes for a column:  Parsnip Latkes, Root Vegetable Soup, Roasted Parsnips and Collard Greens.

Parsnip Latkes

Gone Digging

Potato Skins with Artichokes and Fontina

I’m sure that other parts of the country are beginning to thaw (if they ever were really frozen), but up here in Maine, the idea of having the oven on for a couple of hours to bake potatoes, bread, pie and a roast while we pull our chairs up around the stove to warm our toes, hands and cheeks is still quite in vogue.

This is one I made yesterday when the wind was howling – still.  The crew was happy to run from the barn to the house to find a blast of warm air hit their cheeks as they came in for tea or to check on the new baby chicks.

Potato Skins with Artichokes and Fontina
5 russet potatoes
10 marinated artichoke quarters, coarsely chopped
6 ounces sliced Fontina cheese
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pierce the skin of the potatoes with a fork and place on the middle rack bake for one hour or until the potatoes are tender in the middle and give a little when you squeeze them.  You can do this step ahead of time.  When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half and scoop out the flesh on the inside.  Save the flesh for gnocchi or a soup and place the skins onto a baking sheet.

Reduce oven to 300 degrees.  Divide  the artichoke quarters evenly among the the potato skins and top with slices of  Fontina.  Grind the pepper on top and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer

Good to go in the garden as soon as the ground thaws

Praline Kettle Corn and Smoked Paprika Popcorn – Stove-Top Style

While we are home this week having adventures of the cozy sort, we’ll probably watch another movie and we’ll probably want popcorn to go with it.  The column this week ran with all sorts of popcorn variations that we’ve played with over the years –Lime and Cumin Popcorn, Truffle Sea Salt Popcorn, Curry and Red Pepper Popcorn, Parmesan and Black Pepper Popcorn and Kettle Corn.   All stove-top varieties, because one, it’s so much better and two, it’s so much better for you.

Kettle Corn smaller

Stove-Top Praline Kettle Corn
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup corn kernels
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup sugar
Big pinch sea salt

Have a large bowl ready before beginning.  Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Your pot has to have a lid and if it’s a glass lid that’s super helpful.  Add two corn kernels to the pot and wait for them to pop.  At the same time they pop, the oil will begin to smoke just a little bit.  This means it’s time to add the rest of the corn kernels, pecans, sugar and salt.  You need to add them all at once and stir for just 10 seconds or so.  Make sure to get that lid on before the first one pops, your goal is to just barely coat the popcorn with the sugar.  Cover with the lid and shake the pot with potholders or a kitchen towel holding each handle.  Shake the pot every 20 seconds or so until the popping sounds have diminished to every 1 seconds.  Don’t wait to make sure that all the kernels get popped.  Instead, err on the side of not burning the sugar and a few more unpopped kernels . Immediately transfer the popped corn to the ready bowl.  Use tongs or a spoon to turn the popcorn and distribute the sugar.  Serve with lots of napkins and be careful to wait until the sugar has cooled!

Makes WAY more than you think (about 16 cups)

Smoked Paprika smaller

Stove-Top Smoked Paprika and Lemon Popcorn
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Have both a large bowl and the melted butter ready before beginning.  Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Your pot has to have a lid and if it’s a glass lid that’s super helpful.  Add two corn kernels to the pot and wait for them to pop.    At the same time they pop, the oil will begin to smoke just a little bit.  This means it’s time to add the rest of the corn kernels.  Add the smoked paprika carefully and quickly once the kernels begin to pop.  Cover with the lid and shake the pot with potholders or a kitchen towel holding each handle.  Shake the pot every 20 seconds or so until the popping sounds have diminished to every 1 to 2 seconds.  Immediately transfer the popped corn to the large bowl and drizzle both the melted butter, lemon zest and salt over all.  Use tongs or a spoon to coat thoroughly.  Serve immediately with lots of napkins!

Makes WAY more than you think (about 16 cups)

Popcorn 1 smaller

Getting ready for movie time!

Healthy Superbowl Sunday Menu

For those who know me, but don’t live with me, it sometimes comes as a shock to find that I love football and specifically, the Patriots.

Photo Credit:  AP
Photo Credit: AP

While our guys didn’t play as well as we know they can for the AFC Championship this year… and while I’m still adjusting to the fact that my Sundays will no longer be spent having a blast cheering on my team, there is a small light to this whole thing. I could actually have people over for Superbowl Sunday now.  When I was sure that I would be watching the Patriots, I worried that maybe guests weren’t the best choice.  One, what if I got grumpy because my team did what they did last weekend and struggled on defense AND offense?  (Grumpy definitely happened last weekend.)  Two, what if I needed to be hostess, but really all I wanted to do was watch the game?  No, guests weren’t a good idea I said honestly to myself.  But now, I’m good.

Now that that’s settled, what’s the menu?  Well it could be pounds of chips and dip that would require weeks of running and P90X to burn off… OR it could be Texas Beef and Black Bean Chili, Cheesy Corn Muffins, Easy Salsa, Salsa Dip.

See ya next year, guys!

Baked Brie – Holiday Appetizers for a Crowd

Wow!  The response to the Orange Marmalade Pound Cake post was serious.  Ya’ll really like your citrus, huh?  Thanks for all the emails and comments.  It’s always fun to chat with everyone.

Today my Maine Ingredient column ran and it’s on all different kinds of baked brie.  Who doesn’t love that?  My favorite (today at least) is the Walnut and Lemon Marmalade Bake Brie.  Are we seeing a citrus trend here?


This one is the Crushed Pretzel and Garlic-Crusted Baked Brie

Getting ready for a couple of catering jobs and then the Dinner Subscriptions begin!

Make Your Own Boursin

In this weeks The Maine Ingredient I share a recipe for Boursin Mashers to accompany Delicata Squash with Thyme and Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Turkey Meatloaf. Comfort food.

Boursin is actually a trademark for a type of cheese that originated in Gournay, France that has since been swallowed by the business of food.  The cheese is readily available in the deli section of the grocery store, but a close substitute can easily be made at home with cream cheese, herbs and garlic.

This is also nice as an easy hors d’oeuvres served with crackers, crostinis or crudités

12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend well.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 cup

Happy fall!

** Sugar & Salt: A Year at Home & at Sea is now available for purchase. ** 

Catering for 20 – Ahhh, Now We’re Talking

Sometimes it’s such a relief to cook for the same number I cook for all summer long.  It must sound funny, but it’s actually LESS thinking for me.  I don’t have to hold back on amounts like I do when cooking for the family or testing recipes and even then half the time I end up with twice as much as I need!  This job came a while ago, but no matter, it has some of my favorites, one of which is oft requested on the Riggin, Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Dip.  When I take these platters of bubbly, crusty, cheesy flavor out of my wood stove on the boat and bring them on deck to a crowd of hungry sailors, they NEVER come back empty.  I’ve taken to setting some aside for the crew so that they get a bite as well.

food for a crowd

Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

dip for crudite

Could the color of these veggies be any prettier?  That’s White Bean and Roasted Garlic Dip for the vegans.

dip for crudites

More dip, cause we all gotta have our veggies!

easy appetizers for a crowd

Roasted Mushroom Pate en Croute – another one that never comes back empty.  For me, this is one that I have to say to myself, “Step awaaay from the food.  Awaaaay.”

appetizers for a crowd

This one is my favorite because it’s so pretty.  Sesame Soy Udon noodles are wrapped around forks and served on a bed of shaved bright purple cabbage.  Guests just take one or two forks for their plates.

appetizers for a crowd

Delicata Squash and Goat Cheese Tartlets – kinda pop in your mouth goodness.

Playing in my winter kitchen

Cook the Book: Sundried Tomato Spread

Sun-Dried Tomato Spread  

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (not the kind you have to reconstitute), drained
1/4  cup packed fresh Italian parsley
1/4  cup packed fresh basil
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup grated fresh Romano cheese
1/2 head roasted garlic
Fresh pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and pulse them until they are completely mixed. Turn on the processor and add the olive oil in a steady stream just until the mixture gets loose enough to roll and turn over (rather than being bound up). Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.  Overnight is even better.  Serve with Crostini (page 50).

Makes approximately 2 cups

Grilled Clams and Mussels with Parmesan Aioli

Grilled Clams and Mussels with Parmesan Aioli

Making food for our families is one of the most mundane and also sacred things we can do each day to foster healthy bodies and healthy families.  Sitting down to the table for dinner can sometimes be trying when dealing with busy schedules, but it is also a way we bring our families together.  Dinner with our families is just like life, sometimes wonderful and sometimes just plain messy.

Good food doesn’t have to be hard or complicated to be wonderful and nourishing.. The purpose of good food is to bring us together, to delight our palates and to share ourselves with one another – it is my hope that by creating recipes that are easy AND wonderful that this will nourish your hearts and bodies as they do ours. I wish you happy hearts and full bellies around your kitchen tables.

To make the clams and mussels sweeter and cleanse them of their sandy grit, soak them in a cornmeal and water mixture (directions below).  You can also serve this as an appetizer with the aioli and fresh bread for dipping.

4 pounds of clams and mussels combined
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cornmeal

Garlic Butter:
1/4 cup butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
juice from one lemon
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper

Place the clams and mussels in a large bowl and cover with ice-cold water.  Sprinkle with cornmeal and salt and let sit for 1/2 hour, stirring once or twice.  Remove any “beards” or fuzzy bits you see on the edges and then rinse. Preheat grill to medium high heat.  Sauté butter and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat.  When the garlic has simmered for 30 seconds or so, add the rest of the ingredients. Place all of the shellfish on the hot grill in one layer.  When they start to open, drizzle half of the garlic butter over them, reserving half.  Remove them from the heat when they are fully open and drizzle the remaining garlic butter over them.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6 or 8-10 as an appetizer

Parmesan Aioli

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh black pepper

Put all ingredients except for the oil into a food processor.  Once everything is blended, very gradually pour the oil into the spout.  Mixture should thicken.  If it becomes too thick, add a teaspoon of water.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Herbed Feta Cheese

Herbed Feta Cheese

This recipe is only practical if you grow your own herbs, otherwise it gets to be pretty costly.  But maybe you have a friend who would be willing to have you raid his or her herb garden for, say, a lovely wedge of herbed feta cheese?

This recipe also makes a wonderful summertime appetizer.  Instead of making the Tomato and Kalamata Olive Salad, use whole Kalamata olives and tomato and lemon slices to decorate a platter.  If you’ve got extra herbs use them too.  It’s a beautiful presentation with all the different colors.


1 pound piece (or several large chunks) good quality feta cheese
8-10 fresh sage leaves
1 small handful fresh dill sprigs
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 small bunch Greek oregano
4 sprigs of Italian parsley
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 lemon, thinly sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil as needed

To serve:
1 lemon, thinly sliced
Sprigs of herbs for garnish

Place the cheese, herbs, spices, and lemon slices in a Ziploc bag.  Add olive oil until the cheese is covered (you’ll use less oil if you squeeze out air as you add oil).  Seal the bag and refrigerate at least 6 hours (24 hours is even better).

To serve:

Remove the cheese from the bag, reserving the oil.  Cut the cheese into bite-size slices and arrange the slices on a platter with the sliced lemon.  Drizzle with the reserved oil and garnish with herbs.

Serve at room temperature with crackers or pita bread.

Serves 6-8