Maine Gourmet Food Cruises – Bread Baking

Fresh sourdough baguette straight from a wood fired oven?  Sure!  Off the coast of Maine on an historic sail boat?  Even better.

Gourmet cooking cruises, culinary travel, or Maine Food Cruises, no matter what you call them, they all have the same thing in common – local Maine food, grown sustainably, and served with care and attention on the deck of the Schooner J. & E. Riggin.  We serve what I call swanky comfort food all summer long, but our special Cooking with Annie trips have an additional element – a bit of education.

Kalamata Olive and Black Pepper Bread.  Yum.
Kalamata Olive and Black Pepper Bread. Yum.

We aren’t “in class” all day long, so if you have a spouse or friends that are just interested in eating well while you learn a few more tips and techniques to add to your culinary arsenal, this is perfectly planned.

That said, anyone who wants to spend all day in the galley with me, watching and learning, absolutely can.  From 6am to 7pm, I’m in the galley making breakfast, lunch and dinner, so there are plenty of chances to get your hands doughy or dirty, so to speak.

The first in the series of topics that we talk about during the trip is bread.

Breads – to knead or not to knead, sourdough or quick breads, baguette or stirata, the world of bread is big and the options are many.

Bread Tip:  Did you know that there are two ways to encourage the formation of gluten (what gives a loaf it’s loft and structure) in bread?  Kneading is one and more moisture is another.  So to achieve a similar result, you can either spend 5 to 10 minutes kneading your bread or you can add more liquid to your dough and let time do the work.


Gourmet cooking cruises?  Who doesn’t want to eat well on vacation?  July 6 to 9th is our next Maine Gourmet Food Cruise.

Wich, Please is De-Wich-ious

There’s a new sandwich gig in Rocklandtown and it’s delightful.  Malcom and Jillian Bedell, of From Away fame, have joined the corps of high-caliber restaurants in town with their food truck, Wich, Please.  This tiny kitchen, serving breakfast and lunch sandwiches such as a swanky BLT built on sourdough bread, with frisee, confited tomatoes and crispy bacon, began with a Kickstarter campaign and the faith of several hundred fans and supporters.

Tomato Confit BLT at Wich Please
Tomato Confit BLT

That belief has paid off and the food truck is open for business beginning this week.  Set up to handle two cooks max, Malcom and his assistant have very little room to maneuver in this small food truck.  Actually, the space looks pretty familiar – a lot like my galley.  No jumping jacks for those two, just the dance of two chefs moving from one place to the next weaving in and around each other to reach for the next ingredient. Cassie, my assistant cook, and I get this all too well.

Malcom Bedell
Malcom Bedell

My Rubenesque, a vegetarian Ruben made with roasted beets and Morse’s sauerkraut, was a well-balanced blend of texture and flavor.  The crispy bread off-set the crunch of the kraut and the easy bite of the beets – the flavors all complimenting one another.

The Reubenesque and The O.D.B. Grilled Cheese
The Reubenesque and The O.D.B. Grilled Cheese
De-Wich-ious sandwiches from ‘Wich, Please

Located on the edges of Rockland Harbor with the tang of the sea greeting the outdoor park seating, there’s no doubt that these two have a formula for success.  Oh, and try the grilled cheese too – ours was with caramelized onions, pickled jalapenos, and chips.

The Spring menu at 'Wich, Please in Rockland's Buoy Park
The Spring menu at ‘Wich, Please in Rockland’s Buoy Park

Good luck to you both!  Today is taco Friday, friends, from 4-7pm.

P.S. My galley is still smaller.

No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread – Easy Peasy

No-knead techniques have taken the baking world by storm, or really been rediscovered by storm, and are a wonderful addition to any bread baker’s arsenal.  Truly, there is nothing I love better than pulling several loaves of freshly baked bread from the oven, whether it’s on the boat or in our home.

For me, the connection of homemade bread to our roots, to our communities, to our families and to our personal nutrition is a tie that weaves beautifully through all of these multi-layered parts of our lives.  I know, I know, there are a number of us that can’t have gluten and even more who shun bread due to the carbohydrate thing, but truly, a kale smoothie just doesn’t make the same heart and soul connection for me.

This bread is wonderful with a bowl of soup on a chilly spring day or toasted for breakfast and slathered with some homemade jam.  It’s a staple on our Maine windjammer and one I make at home all the time too.


No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread

1 tablespoon unsalted butter for greasing the pans
12 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
5 cups warm water (more or less)

Grease 3 loaf pans and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and mixing with one hand while turning the bowl with the other, add the water.  When the flour is fully incorporated into the dough, turn out onto a floured counter and cut into three equal pieces.  Press into rectangular shapes and roll the dough gently into a log.  Transfer to the prepared loaf pans, cover, and set aside for several hours until the loaves have doubled in size.   Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown on the outside and the loaves come out of the pans easily. Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.

Makes 3 loaves

Happy baking to you and to me!

Feather Rolls for Holiday Meals

Rolls for a special dinner should be soft and buttery and have you wanting at least seconds if not thirds. They should also be served warm. That’s just how it is. Now, I’ve posted Aunt Annie Rolls before and those are super good. We make these for holiday dinners all the time. However, when my friend made these Feather Rolls with me on the boat one year, I fell in love.

Feather Rolls

Thank you to my friend, Glen Rines, and the women in his family, for passing this recipe down through the generations. May our holiday meals always be as delicious as yours were.

Feather Rolls

Feather Rolls

6 1/2 cups sifted flour
2 cups warm water
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast; about 2 packages of yeast or 1 large yeast cake
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup melted salted butter

Put water, sugar and yeast into a large bowl and add salt. Add 1 cup of flour and beat for 2 minutes. Add eggs, unsalted butter and beat for another minute. Add the rest of the flour and stir until dough is firm. Let rise 1 hour. Remove from bowl onto a floured counter top. Roll the dough out to about 3/4-inch thick and cut into rounds with a large biscuit or the outside of a doughnut cutter (without the hole). Brush both the top and bottom of the rounds with butter and fold in half. Place them on a rimmed 12 x 17 inch baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour or until they are doubled in size. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 25 minutes or until the rolls are cooked through and golden brown on the top. Serve warm.

Makes about 25 rolls

Here’s to passing down recipes!

Sun-dried Tomato, Artichoke and Spinach No Knead Bread

Let’s be honest, there is nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread in your own home to make you feel accomplished and cozy all at the same time.  This is a no knead version, so it’s super simple.  Mix, wait, shape, wait, bake, wait.  Eat.  With butter.  What could be better?

Sun-dried Tomato, Artichoke and Spinach No Knead Bread

5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon yeast
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
3/4 cup artichokes, drained and broken into pieces
1 cup lightly packed spinach, de-stemmed, washed and well-drained
1 to 2 cups of warm water

Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. With your hands, mix in the sourdough starter, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. Begin to add water until the dough just barely forms a ball and there are no little dry bits hanging out in the bowl.

Cover the bowl with a layer of plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours or in the refrigerator overnight, until the surface of the dough has risen and is flat, not rounded. For those who have worked with traditional kneaded dough, this will look like a disaster. Just wait, it will be fine.Spinach, Sun-dried Tomato & Artichoke No Knead Bread 1

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a heavy (empty) pan or skillet in the bottom of the oven (you’ll use this when you put your bread in the oven to create steam). I use a cast iron skillet, filled with rocks I’ve picked from the garden and scrubbed clean, to create a sauna of sorts. It just stays in the oven all the time. The addition of moisture into the oven air helps the bread rise more and then creates a terrific crust.Spinach, Sun-dried Tomato & Artichoke No Knead Bread 2

Shape the dough into the loaves of your choice – 3 baguettes, 2 batons or 1 large boule. Do this by turning the dough onto a floured surface, cutting into the number of pieces you need and gently turning the edges under to form the desired shape. Sprinkle a baking sheet with corn meal or rice flour and place the loaf/loaves on the baking sheet.Spinach, Sun-dried Tomato & Artichoke No Knead Bread 3

Spinach, Sun-dried Tomato & Artichoke No Knead Bread 4

Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise again for another 20 to 45 minutes depending on the size and looseness of your loaf/loaves.

Slash the tops of the loaf/loaves with a sharp knife, transfer the baking sheet to the oven and immediately pour a cup of warm water into the pan on the bottom of the oven to create the aforementioned steam. Be extra careful with this step and quickly remove your arm from the oven once you’ve poured the water.

Bake until the exterior is golden brown and the bottom is firm, from 25 to 40 minutes depending on the size of your loaf/loaves.

Spinach, Sun-dried Tomato & Artichoke No Knead Bread 6
Happy that the house is warm and my belly is full


Fish Stew with Porcini Mushrooms with a Quick Buttermilk Bread

It’s only a few days until daylight savings time, however, until the snow melts from the ground and the temperature rises above 35 degrees most days, comfort food will remain a staple in our house.  I just can’t bring myself to keep the stove off!  Scarves, many layers, turtlenecks and fingerless mittens are also a constant.  It’s just how it is some years in Maine.

I find myself looking for those things I love because complaining about weather, over which I have zero control, is not my cup of tea (or bowl of stew)…  Could this be the last snow fall of the season?  How lovely that a new coat of snow has freshened up the roadsides and our yard.  Are those cardinals at the bird feeder?  The seeds are on their way.  The green is on its way.  The warmth is on its way….


And for now I’ll delight in the cozy meals that still sound just as delicious now as they did in October when I began to crave them.  Fish Stew with Porcini Mushrooms is the recipe that ran in the Portland Press Herald today.  Of course Quick Buttermilk Bread goes super well with the stew.  Check it out.

Turning my attention to things I like

Biscuit and Jam – The Biscuit Contract

I woke up this morning to my car cloaked in a glow of pink.  The sun had not yet broken the horizon and my snow-covered car received it’s kiss as it rose to greet the day.


Fitting that today should also be Biscuit Contract Day on our office calendar.  This contract was agreed upon and signed 7 months ago to the day.  The contract follows:

July 20, 2013 – Annie returned to shore after a 4-day cruise and proceeded to heat the entire downstairs with steam as she made batches of jam in 84 degree/humid weather.  THEN she wanted to open the windows to “cool down.”   Ha.  E made Annie promise that 7 months from now, February 20th, that we would have jam & biscuits to make up for it.  Annie agreed.  Annie hereby agrees to make biscuits with Strawberry or Rhubarb Champagne Jam as she has promised.  Signed by both parties.

And here they are, E.  As promised and as delicious.


Baking Powder Biscuits 
This is a recipe my grandma passed on to me through my mom.  Thank you, Grandma, for being so good at making both biscuits and pie dough.  I think of you every time I make either.

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4  cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  This is an important step because you want to add air to the mixture so the biscuits are as fluffy as possible.  Cut the butter in with a pastry knife until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Stir in any additional dry ingredients here.  Add milk and any additional wet ingredients, stirring until a soft dough forms. Do not overmix.  This is very important; if you overmix you will probably get hard tack instead of fluffy biscuits.  Great for sailors of old, but not so delicious in present time.  Turn out onto a floured board and knead 5 to 10 times, then stop.  Roll or pat out the dough until it is 1/2-inch thick.  Cut with a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter.  Bake on ungreased cookie pan for 12 to 15 minutes.

Makes 12 biscuits

Keepin’ E happy.  It’s a good thing.

Go Pats!… I Mean Wes

Is there anything good about your team not playing in the Super Bowl?  Hmmm… For starters, it’s safe to spend the game with others without embarrassing outbursts and too much enthusiasm.  If one team looses, at least it’s not yours.  One can focus on the food and not so much the game.  Turns out there are a few upsides after all!

As for the food, I’ve been thinking about what sounds good to me this weekend and found this recipe in my column archives.  I’m thinking some oven-fried potatoes and a big salad plus maybe a brothy soup to go with it.

Go Welker! (even though you don’t play for the Patriots any more and your uniform is the wrong color).

wes-welker-broncos smaller

Red Onion Meatloaf Sandwiches on Baguettes w/Havarti and Sautéed Onions and Peppers
Sandwich makings:
2 baguettes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 red pepper; seeded, cored and sliced
1 green pepper; seeded, cored and sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Havarti, sliced
Red Onion Meatloaf (recipe below)

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Heat the oil and add the onions, peppers, salt and pepper.  Sauté until tender and remove from heat.

Slice baguettes in half length-wise and place on a baking sheet.  Place slices of meatloaf on baguettes and top with onion and pepper mixture and the slices of cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Slice into 3-inch pieces and serve.

Serves 12

Red Onion Meatloaf
4 pounds ground beef
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups chopped red onion
4 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 cup breadcrumbs
2 cup vegetable juice
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons parsley
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes.  Mix all of the ingredients together; pat it into two 9×4 loaf pans and place in the oven.  Bake for 1 hour or until a thermometer inserted into the center reads 160 degrees.  Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Happy game day to you all

Breads – To Knead or Not to Knead

Spinach, Sun-dried Tomato & Artichoke No Knead Bread 5

I’m a fan of them all, kneaded and no-knead breads.  They are all my children and I love them, different though they be.  This week’s column is on ways to use sourdough starter in breads for flavor rather than as a leavener.  I know, I know, sourdough IS a leavener, but not for someone who has limited space and time, say someone who cooks out of a boat galley.  Therefore, because sourdough isn’t a fail proof method for me on the boat, I’ve developed my own ways of using it that don’t require so much tending.

There are also a number of other sourdough breads that I’ve posted in the past should you get super excited and find yourself on a bread roll….  Ha!

Still ‘Ha!’

Homemade Doughnuts Care of Grandma

Glen, a long time Riggin Relic and friend, is often the first to greet me in the morning and I am often the first to greet him, with his cup of steaming coffee in hand.  His cup is poured before anyone else’s, one because he’s a guest and two because he’s down in the galley having early morning conversation amid the chopping and slicing of vegetables and fruit in prep for all of the meals of the day.

Food memories come up often as we move in and out of intense work and then a sip of coffee.   During one of these moments, Glen shared a memory he had of making doughnuts with his Grandmother who was the long-time cook at Bowdoin College in one of their fraternity houses.

We’ve been talking for two years about making his Grandmother’s doughnuts together.  He’d long since shared the recipe with me, from memory, but I didn’t want to make my first batch without Glen.  It just didn’t seem right.

Last trip, after another winter had gone by with out making doughnuts together, I put my foot down.  We were making doughnuts and we were making them together on the boat.  And so we did.  And they were fantastic.  And I felt full in so many ways!

Glen in my spot pressing out doughnuts.
Cassie and Ian having their first bites!

Cinnamon and sugar on top. Delish.

Note the very important meat fork as a turning tool. Another piece of history carried forward.

An opened can and a biscuit cutter serve as our doughnut cutter.

Our crew – Cassie, Justin (apprentice), Kaitlin and Ian.
Sugar and cinnamon, powdered sugar or plain anyone?

What can I say, would someone help me with my hair for goodness sake?

Team work with a friend. The best.

You rock, Glen.