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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
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
Headed off to make biscuits to go with AND into the chowder!
So many leftovers, so little space in the belly. This is day two of Thanksgiving leftover ideas and turkey hash is one of my favorites. Especially so when combined with greens – a much needed addition after a bit of fat and carb overload.
I’ve pared this hash with Brussels sprouts greens after discovering that they are just as delicious as any kale or broccoli leaves. I’m lucky enough to still have some in the garden and will need to cull the rest shortly before it succumbs to a really sustained frost.
Cut turkey and roasted potatoes into 1/2-inch pieces. Sauté onions and celery in a large skillet and add the turkey, potatoes and any vegetables or squash that you like. Add salt, pepper, Dijon mustard and maybe some horseradish to the pan. Sauté until the ingredients are warmed through and are beginning to brown on the bottom. Serve with poached eggs and roasted Brussels sprout leaves (or kale or broccoli leaves).
It’s a toss up as to which is the better meal – the Thanksgiving meal we had yesterday or the amazing leftovers we will have today and this weekend. My mouth is watering over the endless possibilities, not the least of which is the turkey club sandwich that will be on my plate in the near future. In truth, I considered having it for breakfast.
First things first, however. If you haven’t already done so, add all of the bones from your turkey to a stock pot, cover with water, add an onion, a carrot or two, and a stalk of celery. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let it hang out on the stove top for an hour or so. Strain and either freeze or use for a quick leftover soup.
The next thing to do is freeze anything that you won’t use within the next couple of days. Divide everything into individual or family-sized portions and place into re-sealable freezer bags or freezer containers. Label and date everything. (Even if you are SURE you will remember. Three months from now, you won’t have a clue.) Most items from a Thanksgiving meal will freeze well except anything that has potatoes in it. Even mashed potatoes tend to become mealy and watery after being frozen so use those up quickly.
Next is to utilize all of those yummy leftovers and make something equally yummy for a meal today. Here are a few thoughts and I’ll post a few more over the course of the weekend.
Leftover Turkey Soup
Less a recipe and more a suggestion, this is my favorite kind of cooking – open the refrigerator door and start pulling things out to make a meal.
In a medium or large stock pot, melt butter. Sauté diced onions and celery until translucent. Spices like cumin, curry, and chili powder take this soup far away from the traditional meal it began as. Add cut up or pulled pieces of turkey, pureed squash or sweet potatoes, any steamed or sautéed vegetable and the turkey stock you just made with the leftover bones. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with a salad and some leftover rolls heated up. Add noodles, rice, gnocchi, diced potatoes, lentils or barley for variations.
Leftover Turkey Sandwich Ideas
The sky is the limit here, but you might try these combinations:
Turkey with mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, havarti cheese and lettuce on a baguette.
Turkey with avocado, mango salsa, cilantro and mayonnaise in a wrap (or wrap with lettuce).
If you were lucky enough to have ham too, layer turkey and ham with cranberry sauce, caramelized red onion and cheddar cheese on rye bread.
Roasted zucchini slices with creamed onions, Dijon mustard, tomato slices and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts on focaccia bread with or without turkey.
Let me know what you made!
One of the many questions I get from folks in the cooking realm is what to do with all the veggies that come for their CSAs. Now that Community Supported Agriculture has taken parts of our country by storm, the questions keep coming. Among them are… What else can I do with my kale? How do I use up that ugly kohlrabi that keeps turning up in my box? Is there a way to combine all of these veggies in a meal or dish?
On our Maine Gourmet Food Cruises we talk about how to combine veggies, what to do to make them interesting, and how to preserve them if you just have too darn much to use in a week’s time.
Vegetable Tip: To keep lettuce and greens longer in the refrigerator, wash the lettuce and remove every bit of water that you can and then layer the leaves with a dish towel or paper towel. Store in a large tub with a lid or in a resealable plastic bag. I’ve used this technique on long, at sea adventures, on the Riggin and in my home kitchen to great effect. Another way to preserve hearty greens is to clean and dry them, ribs removed. Once they are dry, coat them in a thin layer of olive oil. They will last for at least a week and a half in the refrigerator.
Thinking about greens galore and our next Maine Food Cruise, July 6 to 9!
At first glance, soups and stews might not seem all that glamorous in terms of a topic for a gourmet cooking cruise, however, how to begin and season a soup or stew is the very basis for not only many a diners’ dinner, but also the sauces that can elegantly top a seared tenderloin or grilled salmon.
From stock to pistou, we’ll talk about how to make super tasty and healthy soups, stews, and sauces and then sample them for lunch or for dinner. Perhaps it will be a Coconut Curried Lentil and Potato Soup with Nan or a Pork Loin Roast with a Rhubarb and Red Wine Reduction Sauce. Who knows, because the menu is different every week on the Riggin, so your guess is as good as mine.
Soup, Stew, and Sauce Tip: The time a cook takes to saute the vegetables at the beginning of a soup, sauce, or stew can not be underestimated. When the vegetables caramelize a bit and begin to develop a little brown on the bottom of the pan, flavor is building. To rush this process is to forgo the depth of flavor that is possible forever.
Come share some super good food with us! July 6 to 9 is our next Maine Food Cruise, but there are more on the schedule. Check it out!
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.
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.
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!
This recipe is a combination of both a Julia Child and Ellen Barnes recipe. Julia Child’s cookbook “Baking with Julia” is a classic I enjoy returning to again and again. Ellen Barnes is a former windjammer owner and one of my mentor’s. Her cookbook is called “The Taber Cookbook” and the well worn pages of my copy were hand-sewn together once the plastic spiral binding disintegrated. Clearly a cookbook I treasure.
I began making Bûche de Noël for Christmas dessert over 10 years ago when the girls and I wanted a baking project that was a little less intense than making our own gingerbread house from scratch, an event that will live in infamy in our house for the overwhelm meltdowns this effort produced. Needless to say, it takes a special 5 year old to handle the construction and then collapse of a gingerbread house. Maybe a special adult too as ours might have ended up in the trash…
Anyway, that was a long time ago and we have held to our Bûche de Noël making with eager joy. While it, in our household, is an easier and more welcome project than gingerbread, it is not for the faint of heart. Also, I would say that if you don’t have all the tools – pastry bag with tips, baking sheet, pastry knife, that maybe you’d just forgo this project. It’s rare for me to say this, but the tools make this project SO much easier.
Bûche de Noël
This cake is inspired by a recipe in Julia Child’s cookbook “Baking with Julia.”
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (plus a little extra for the pan), melted
1 cup sifted cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons rum
Mocha Cream Frosting:
1 1/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
4 egg yolks
2 cups soft butter
3 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons espresso or strong coffee
4 tablespoons rum
4 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt
1 tablespoon or more of milk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Pour 1 tablespoon melted butter into a 1-quart bowl; set aside.
Put the flour, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the salt in to sifter and sift the ingredients onto a piece of waxed paper; set aside.
Put the eggs and the remaining sugar into the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Holding the whisk attachment from the mixer in your hand, beat the mixture to blend the ingredients. With the bowl and whisk attachment in place, whip the mixture on medium speed until it is airy, pale, and tripled in volume, like softly whipped cream, 4 to 5 minutes. You’ll know that the eggs are properly whipped when you lift the whisk and the mixture falls back into the bowl in a ribbon that rests on the surface for about 10 seconds. If the ribbon immediately sinks into the mixture, continue whipping for a few more minutes. Pour in the vanilla extract during eh last moments of whipping.
Detach the bowl from the mixer. Sprinkle about one third of the sifted flour mixture over the batter. Fold in the flour with a rubber spatula, stopping as soon as the flour is incorporated. Fold in the rest of the flour in 2 more additions. (This is the point at which the batter is at its most fragile, so fold gingerly.)
Brush the extra butter onto a 12 by 17-inch baking sheet that has a rim. Cover with parchment paper and scrape the batter onto the sheet, smoothing out with the spatula. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed in the center and the edges pull away from the sides of the pan.
Dust a large kitchen towel with powdered sugar. Invert the baking sheet onto the towel and cool slightly. Before it is completely cooled, roll the cake (with the towel) up into a log.
Boil the sugar and water together until syrupy, about 3 minutes. Cool and add the rum.
Mocha Cream Frosting:
Boil the sugar and water together until 240 degree on a candy thermometer or until the soft ball stage. Beat the egg yolks until fluffy. Add the sugar and water mixture gradually while beating and continue until mixture is cool. Add the butter bit by bit until it has all been incorporated. Beat in the chocolate, coffee and rum.
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Beat egg whites until frothy. Add the salt and cream of tartar and beat well. Add the sugar gradually and add the vanilla. Continue beating until mixture is glossy and stiff but not dry. Cover a 12 by 17-inch baking sheet with waxed paper and using a pastry bag, pipe the mushrooms tops and stems onto the sheet. Bake about 1 hour or until the meringues are dry. When you are ready to work with them, gently assemble by pressing the mushroom caps onto the stems. Lightly dust the tops with cocoa powder.
Cream the butter and add 1/2 cup confectioners sugar and milk until fluffy. Add the salt and vanilla and then the remaining sugar and milk, alternating between the two. Beat until frosting stands in stiff peaks. Transfer to a pastry bag.
Unroll the cake and peel the parchment paper off. Use half of the Mocha Cream Frosting and spread evenly over the cake. Using the towel to help you, roll the cake up snuggly without causing the frosting to squeeze out of the ends. Poke toothpicks into the final edge to keep it from unrolling. Make a diagonal cut about 1/3 of the way down and snug that cut up to the side of the log to make it look like the v in a branch. Spread the rest of the Mocha Cream Frosting on the top and sides, leaving the ends frosting free. Pipe the Decorative Frosting on all of the ends and any place you’d like to make a decoration. Add the Meringue Mushrooms to the sides in clusters. Decorate with pine sprigs and pomegranate seeds.
Post your cakes so I can see!
Photo credit: Ella Finger
The tricks to making a successful cheesecake are simple. They also make sense when you understand the reason behind them.
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.
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.