Roasted Carrots, Red Onion, and Kale

Carrots from the garden Photo by Elizabeth Poisson

Roasted Carrots, Red Onion, and Kale
Curly or Russian kale will get a little crispy on the edges in this recipe while Lacinato kale (the longer more wrinkled variety) will wilt more like other greens do. Both are delicious.

1 1/2 pounds carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus another 1/4 teaspoon for the kale
several grinds of fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus another 2 tablespoons for the kale
1/2 bunch of kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped; about 4 cups

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a large roasting pan, drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper over the carrots and onions. Use your hands to coat evenly. Roast for 1 hour or until the carrots are tender and the onions are beginning to brown. Add the kale and drizzle with more oil, salt, and pepper. Stir well and roast for another 20 minutes or until the kale is bright green and a little crispy on the edges.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Clean eating – I’m into it.

Nana’s Lemon Prune Cake with Lemon Butter Sauce

My mom sent me a recipe for my Nana’s Lemon Sauce via email, which was a little odd.  Normally, when I ask for a recipe, it comes by mail – photocopied recipe card complete with my Nana’s handwriting.  Even though I bless the convenience of computers every day, there is something a little sad inside of me that misses the recipe written in her own hand, stained with drops of milk and string of egg white.

I remembered the sauce well from my childhood when my Nana would don a ruffled gingham apron and create a tiny bit of magic in her small kitchen.  I loved that space, not much bigger than my own kitchen now, with really tall cabinets, an old-fashioned oven complete with warmer and a small aluminum-edged table in the middle of it all where everyone gathered.  For the big meals, we ate in the dinning room, but the real heart and action happened in that small kitchen.

Prune Cake Photo Rocky Coast Photography

The sauce itself was silky, tart, lip-smacking… but I didn’t remember how she served it.  After questioning my mom, the reason became clear.  My Nana served it with fruit cake – never my favorite on the best of days.   I went to bed that night thinking about what would go well with my Nana’s Lemon Sauce and how I could reinvent fruit cake into something not only palatable, but actually yummy.  That is how this recipe was born.

My Nana always called it Butter Sauce, but I always remember calling it Lemon Sauce.  When I think of butter sauce now, it brings to mind a Creme Anglaise, and this sauce is much like that, only less smooth vanilla and more punch of lemon.

Lemon Prune Cake with Nana’s Lemon Butter Sauce
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
Zest from one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice (juice from about 1 lemon)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 cup diced prunes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Make a well in the center and add the remaining ingredients. Stir until just well mixed. Pour into prepared cake pan using a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl.

Bake until cake springs back when lightly pressed in the middle and the edges have pulled away from the sides of the pan, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan before serving either warm or room temperature with Nana’s Lemon Butter Sauce.

Serves 12

Nana’s Lemon Butter Sauce
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped

In a medium double boiler heat egg yolks until they lighten in color, whisking fairly consistently.  Gradually add sugar, continuing to heat and whisk.  Remove from heat and add butter, lemon rind, juice, and salt. Fold in whipped cream.  Chill and serve on top of warm cake.

Makes enough to serve with cake plus extra — have a spoon ready.

Annie
Thanks, Nana!

Cocktails Anyone? – Let the Testing Begin

Those of you who know me well, may find this next announcement a little incongruous…  I’ve begun to write two columns on cocktails for the State of Maine’s publication, Maine Spirits.  While at first blush, my low alcohol consumption may seem a bit odd for the writer of such a pursuit.  On the other hand, cocktail creation is just another form of gastronomy and it’s in that vein that I approach this new project.

Last night the journey began.  I started with a trusted source, Jamie Oliver, and made an Elderflower Tom Collins (watch the video).  I must say, it was a good start.  This morning, I then went out to restock our liquor cabinet and am now ready to roll.  First on the list is a Blood Orange Margarita.  I’ll letcha know how it goes. IMG_8875

Annie
Cocktail recipes coming to a blog near you!

Blizzard Cake – Lemon Roulade with Blueberries and Cream

For our family, the winter is a time of much needed hibernation.  Our summers are busy, intense, focused (and lets not forget FUN), however, every second has a name from the middle of May to the middle of October.  This sort of intensity requires an equal and opposite energy, which is what winters in Maine are designed for in our house.

As you may have heard, our New England winter has had more than it’s fair share of snow this year, which fits perfectly into our hibernation mode.  Those years where it doesn’t snow much are just a little bit harder to sink into.  We CAN go out all the time.  There are very few snow days, the phone rings more, the possibilities for a day are endless.

Not true when it’s blowing 30 knots from the North East and the snow has been falling for hours with no end in sight.  Those days are p.j. days, cozy days, baking days, writing days.  They are slow because the choices are limited, meetings are cancelled and the urge to knit increases 10-fold.  The permission to have a meandering freedom about the day is exactly what a family needs when their summers are as packed as ours are.

Our days are on somewhat of a repeat.  Snow, shovel, bake, knit, write, snow, shovel, cook, knit, write.  Repeat. I find myself in the minority, where the continual wildness followed by a hoary, sunny calm is energizing.  Interspersed with a snow shoe and a horse ride, the dormancy is like a cozy sweater with a long, soft scarf wrapped around my neck.  Comforting, calm, creative and cozy.

This cake, Blizzard Roulade with Lemon Curd, Blueberries and Cream,  is named after the first blizzard that blew through our winter, but certainly not the last.  As I write, another 8 to 12 inches is falling on our world.  Maybe I’ll go bake another cake.

Annie
Cozy and calm

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Lay the cake out flat on the towel.
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Spread blueberry jam and lemon curd. Roll gently.
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Final roll. Anchor with a toothpick if needed.
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Delicious frosting.
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Can’t resist. Who caught that on camera?

All Hail Kale – Kale is King!

Maybe it’s because outside it’s white and windy.  The grey and brown skeletons of the trees rise up against clouds filled with coming snow.  The only green to be seen in our landscape is from the frost-tipped branches of evergreens.  Perhaps this is why this season brings such a strong craving for greens.  If it’s not in our landscape, we want it on our plates?

Potato, Cheddar & Kale Souffle

I don’t know.  What I do know is that I need to honor the instincts of my body and have created a number of recipes for cooking winter greens, this time for kale.  Potato, Cheddar and Kale Souffle; Thai Peanut Shrimp with Kale; and Tuscan Kale, Chickpeas and Olives are all in the Maine Ingredient column this week.

Annie
Kale is King

Thyme and Lime Potato-Crusted Salmon with Greens

Extra greens this time of year seems to be what I crave over and over again.  More kale, more spinach, more Swiss chard.  I’ve even begun eating kale for breakfast with my eggs instead of having toast.  It’s delicious and gives me one more serving of what’s good for me anyway.

This column for the Maine Ingredient, created with holiday entertaining in mind, could easily become a weekend dinner with friends.  The recipes – Thyme and Lime Potato-Crusted Salmon, Brown Butter Kale with Toasted Almonds, and Spinach Salad with Pomegranate Seeds, Cranberries and Preserved Grapefruit – are all healthy, with a large dash of elegance.

Spinach Salad with Pomegranate Cranberry Preserved Grapefruit

Annie
Eating my greens

Lemon Curd Cheesecake – A Bake Ahead Holiday Dessert

The tricks to making a successful cheesecake are simple.  They also make sense when you understand the reason behind them.

Lemon Curd Cheesecakes

Eggs, a major component of cheesecakes, don’t like to be heated quickly or subject to high heat.  Instead they like to be handled gently and with a little tender loving care.  They freak out when the heat is too fast or too high, curdling or puffing up, both of which we don’t want in a cheesecake.  This is why having all ingredients at room temperature to begin with helps.  Another trick is some sort of water – either in the form of steam or a water bath, to mitigate the formation of a crust and to gentle the heat.  Lastly, letting the cheesecake cool down in the oven helps gentle the change in heat and prevents those craters we don’t want to see in our cheesecakes.

Lemon Curd Cheesecake

The recipes that ran in the Portland Press Herald today, Vanilla Cheesecake and Lemon Curd Cheesecake, are both favorites in our family.  There I also write about how to freeze and thaw cheesecakes, making them a perfect make-ahead dessert.  The Lemon Curd Cheesecake has been a holiday dessert for years, appeasing those who are done with the chocolate overload.

Annie
Happy baking!

Asparagus and Tomato Gratin

Asparagus – classy, healthy and easy.  Three of my favorite things!  One incredibly simple way I like to do asparagus at home is to roast them in a bag with lemon and thyme.  The tang of the lemon combined with the herbal flavor of the thyme is a perfect combo for a light, healthy side to almost any protein.

Other asparagus recipes detailed in the latest Maine Ingredient column are:

Asparagus and Tomato Gratina
Red Rice and Asparagus Salad
Hake with Pork and Potatoes and Asparagus

Lemon and Thyme Bag-Roasted Asparagus
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the bottoms off one or more bunches of asparagus.  Place asparagus onto a large paper bag, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 1 lemon cut into 8 wedges and a generous sprig of thyme. Roll the bag closed and then place into a baking sheets with sides. Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until the asparagus is just done.

Caveat:  There are some that suggest that oiling the bag before putting it into the oven is a way to keep it from burning, however, that has never made much sense to me. I’ve also never had an oven fire while making this recipe, so there.

Asparagus Tomato Gratin
Asparagus Tomato Gratin (see link above for recipe)

Annie
Sad that the asparagus will go away soon, but happy to start seeing peas and strawberries

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

Annie
Gone Digging

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….

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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.

Annie
Turning my attention to things I like