Sesame, Ginger and Tahini Chicken and Shrimp

Today I’m thinking about healthy choices – in what I eat, how I move, the interactions I have with my family – and the balance that is required to do these things well.

Greens AND brownies, running AND couch time, speaking my mind AND holding my tongue.  I want them all, just not in the same amount and at the same time.  The trick is to navigate when a brownie is just the thing (and these King Arthur Flour brownies are totally the thing) and when greens are a better choice.  Likewise with relationships, say, just hypothetically, when you are having a conversation with your daughter about future college and life plans when you are both hormonal.  Sometimes the healthiest choice is to say what you feel.  Other times, it’s best to not share exactly what is running through your mind in that specific moment.  When I’m navigating these moments successfully, which, let me tell you, is not always the case, I’m feeling my way to the best choice.  Calmly noticing.  Aware, but not hyper sensitive.

And, not to segue too abruptly to food, but actually, the same is true when I’m making a recipe.  I sort of feel my way to the right flavors.  In the same way that you might feel your way through a delicate conversation.  In this case, it’s a conversation with food and flavors.  This meal, the creamy AND limey, the greens AND rice, the chicken AND shrimp is one with balance.  One that walks the line of not too much sharing and not too much holding back.  I could have used a little more of that last night when in conversation with my daughter.  Ah well, at least I managed it in this meal.

SeasmeTahiniChickenSesame, Ginger and Tahini Chicken and Shrimp over Rice and a Bed of Spinach
This dish is just as easily made with chicken OR shrimp, but the combination of the two is my favorite.
Basmati Rice:
2 cups basmati rice
Salt

Sauce:
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup tahini
1 1/2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup diced onions; about 1 medium onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger
8 ounces boneless chicken breast; about 1 large breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces medium (41-50 count) raw shrimp, peeled
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup water, as needed
8 ounces baby spinach leaves

Garnish:
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Wedges of lime
Cilantro leaves
Sriracha

Rice:
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. The water should be as salted as you want your rice and no more. Add the rice and stir well. When the water again comes to a boil, set the timer for 18 minutes. Pour into a strainer and let sit for 5 minutes or longer while you prepare the sauce.

Sauce:
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the pumpkin seeds. Heat, stirring often, until the seeds begin to brown. Transfer to a blender and add the chicken stock, tahini and tamari. Blend until well mixed and smooth. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the salt, garlic, ginger and chicken and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the white wine and bring to a simmer. Add the shrimp and cook until you can just see a little bit of gray remaining. Add the pumpkin seed mixture and stir well adding water as needed to loosen the sauce. Serve immediately over rice and a bed of spinach. Garnish with sesame seeds, lime, cilantro, and Sriracha.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Finding the balance where I can.

Maine Seafood Chowder

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 Photo by Rocky Coast Photography

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

Annie
Headed off to make biscuits to go with AND into the chowder!

Chocolate Cashew Pudding

My friend Glen, mentioned in the doughnut post, is often down in the galley in the wee morning hours when I’m making all the decisions about what we’ll be eating for the rest of the day.  I’ll often share out loud what I’m thinking because one, I know he likes to hear the winding road of my thought process, and two, I like to share with him because it helps me to hear, in my own words, what I’m thinking about. Somehow, when it’s outside of myself and in the space of the galley I’m able to see the big picture a little more clearly.

In any event, because I’m having these ‘out loud’ conversations, Glen gets a preview and many times an input.  Long before he talked me into doughnuts, he talked me into pudding.  Sure, it’s a pain to stand over the wood stove and stir it until it thickens, however, the creamy, sublime result is totally worth the effort.  This is one I just made up this summer and will have to share with Glen when he sails with us again.

Chocolate Cashew Pudding Photo by Rocky Coast Photography

Chocolate Cashew Pudding
For an extra rich dessert, serve with whipped cream on top and dusted with cocoa powder.

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate cut into small chunks
1/2 cup cashew butter

In a thick bottomed pot, combine the sugar, cornstarch, milk, and salt.  Bring to a full boil over medium heat whisking often to make sure the bottom doesn’t scorch.  Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract and then the chocolate.  Let the chocolate melt from the heat of the mixture, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is melted.  Add the cashew butter and again mix well.  Transfer to small serving bowls, cover with plastic wrap and chill.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Making all of the women in the household happy – the husband too, actually.

Lemon Curd Tarlets – Feeling Tart and Sunny

These little tartlets came about when working on a catering job for a winter dinner.  The whole affair was a cocktail party, so finger food was the name of the game, including the desserts.  Once topped with a berry – raspberry or blueberry – these beauties were perfect for a small bite confection.

Little lemon tarlets that will be topped with a raspberry garnish.
Little lemon tarlets that will be topped with a raspberry garnish.

Another favorite way to use lemon curd is in the Blizzard Bluberry Lemon Curd Roulade, which, as you might guess, was made on a snowy day last winter when the winds were slapping at the windows and doors.  Indoors was the only place fit for humans, except the occasional forays into the wild for a snow shoe or ski and then back inside for a warm cup around which to wrap the cold hands.

If I were to find myself with some leftover lemon curd, I might have several thoughts on what to do with it other than eat it straight from the spoon.  One, this is a perfect combination for my Nana’s Lemon Prune Cake.  Two, if you find yourself wishing for something elegant, layered in a wine glass with sliced strawberries and vanilla whipped cream would hook me right quick and in a hurry.  Three, I’ve been known to have it with some yogurt.  Hey, if Liberte brand yogurt can do it, so can I.

Lemon Curd
This recipe is inspired by “The New York Times Cookbook.”
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice; juice from about 2 lemons
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind; rind from about 2 lemons

Cream the butter and gradually beat in the sugar. Beat the eggs into the creamed mixture, then add the lemon juice and grated rind.

Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking continuously until mixture thickens and deepens in color. This must be cooked over low heat and stirred constantly to keep it from curdling. If desired, use a double boiler.

Press through a fine sieve into a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Makes about 2 cups

Tartlet Crust
This crust is extremely versatile and is one of my go-to recipes when creating tartlets or tarts that require a fairly structured crust.  It is inspired by Alice Medrich, author and pastry chef extraordinaire.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon homemade vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Press 1 tablespoon of dough into the bottom of two 12-hole muffin tins.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown and the tartlet shells release from the tins easily.  Transfer to a grate to cool.  Fill with lemon curd when the shells are fully cooled.

Makes 24

Annie
Feeling tart and sunny

 

 

Watch the Riggin on Animal Planet’s North Woods Law

This summer a buuuunch of kids and their families came sailing with us for a Kids and Family trip… and so did a film crew.  “North Woods Law,” the wildly popular show on Animal Planet that showcases the Maine Warden Service, decided to catch some shots of Maine from the water for their show, “In a Hot Minute”. Led by supervising producer, Andy Seestedt (yep, our former mate!), the crew detailed life aboard the Riggin for a day.   While none of the kids were caught fishing without a licence or sailing without their life jackets, they did catch a bunch of fun moments on board.

Catch the episode this coming Sunday, January 17th at 8 p.m. EST. The segment on the Riggin is at the beginning, so make sure you get settled early! (If you don’t get Animal Planet where you are, they typically post it on the website shortly after it airs.)

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Get in the water, Mom and Dad! We’ve been in for ages already!
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Making bread with Annie. Also, how many kids can fit into the galley at one time?
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Film crew catching the goings on.
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Checking out the drone. Oh, and p.s., don’t look at it while it’s flying around over head. Nope, don’t look at it.
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One last look at the drone before launch time.
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Interviewing the kids on board.
Reading to each other. Love their faces.
Reading to each other. Love their faces.

Greens with Toasted Cumin, Beans, Beets, and Goat Cheese

This time of year when excess has surpassed moderation to a degree that feels uncomfortable, I reach for greens, roasted vegetables, and grains. Protein comes in the form of beans, nuts, and avocados and I crave simple flavors, rich only in the essence of the ingredient, not slathered in sauce or gravy.

After the New Year dinner. Tons of greens, no meat. Whew!
After the New Year dinner. Tons of greens, no meat. Whew!

This dish is one that came from needing to use up a number of ingredients left from a farm share and the last harvest of miraculous greens from the garden. Vegetarian in design and satisfying in flavor and simplicity, this dish is among those we’ve been reaching for ever since the first of the year.

Greens with Toasted Cumin, Beans, Beets, and Goat Cheese
1, 29 ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
1 teaspoon lime juice
Pinch of salt
Fresh black pepper
4 ounces goat cheese
Roasted Beets and Leeks (recipe below)
Greens with Toasted Cumin (recipe below)

To assemble, spread the greens on large platter or on individual plates. Heat the black beans in the skillet that cooked the greens and meanwhile gather the rest of your ingredients. When the beans are hot, transfer them on top of the greens. The beats go next. Garnish with slices of avocado, sprinkle with lime juice, salt and pepper and dot with goat cheese.

Serves 4 to 6

Roasted Beets and Leeks
Remove the skin of the beets only if they are very large. Otherwise, the skin adds a textural element that is a complement to the softer flesh.
2 pounds beets, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups diced leeks, about 1 leek cleaned well
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the beets with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheets with sides. Transfer to the oven for 1 hour. Add the diced leeks and stir to coat with the oil and return to the oven for another 15 minutes or until the leeks are cooked through and beginning to brown.

Greens with Toasted Cumin
I used Brussels sprouts greens for this recipe, but it’s only because I’d just harvested them from the garden. I’ve never seen them in our grocery store, and kale or collard greens are a perfect substitute.

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound Brussels sprouts greens (or kale or collard greens)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the cumin into the bottom of the pan and make sure that the greens are ready to add. Toast the cumin for about 30 seconds or until it becomes fragrant. Add the greens immediately and then the olive oil. Turn with tongs and incorporate the salt and pepper as well. Brussels sprouts greens are sturdy and take about 10 minutes to soften. Kale will be cooked in just a few minutes.

Annie
I feel lighter just writing about 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!

Ginger, Sesame Chicken Soup with Cilantro Sesame Pesto

A pot of chicken stock simmering on the stove.  The windows edged with moisture.  The wind howling outside while inside, all is well, warm, and welcoming.  That’s what this soup is about.

Today I’m feeling especially grateful for the people who grow our food and the animals that become our meals.  That our food is well-tended before it reaches our plates is a gift.  I appreciate what nourishes my body and the bodies of those I love.  Abundance comes to us in so many ways and I feel rich and full and blessed.

Chicken Soup Photo Rocky Coast Photography

Ginger, Sesame Chicken Soup with Cilantro Sesame Pesto
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups diced onions; about 1 large onion
2 cups diced carrots; about 2 carrots
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and julienned (cut into match-stick sized pieces)
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 cups cooked chicken meat

Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil, onions and carrots and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the ginger and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil to heat through. Serve with a dollop of Cilantro Sesame Pesto.

Serves 4 to 6

Cilantro Sesame Pesto
1/3 cup sesame seeds
2 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves and stems
1/4 cup scallions, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 small garlic clove, smashed
3/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine everything in the food processor and pulse until thoroughly combined.

Makes about 1/2 cup

Annie
Enjoy this light, after-the-holidays meal!

Goat Cheese and Scallion Twice-Baked Potatoes – Holiday Side or Appetizer

The grown-up version of a childhood favorite, these twice-baked potatoes are both a nod to my mom and her simply delicious cooking and to Appleton Creamery, from whence this recipe inspiration was born.

Just as satisfying as the traditional, the tangy goat cheese and bite of the scallions takes this classic to another level.  Still comfort food, yet elegant enough to serve as a holiday side-dish.

Another thought is to use baby potatoes and serve tiny versions of these delights as a holiday appetizer.  Be sure to back off on the baking time and use a small melon scoop to remove the potato flesh.

My mouth might be watering just a tiny bit.  Scuze me, I gotta go cook…

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Goat Cheese and Scallion Twice-Baked Potatoes
4 large or medium russet potatoes, scrubbed cleaned and pierced with a fork
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces crème frâiche
4 ounces goat cheese
1/4 cup minced scallions
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/8 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the potatoes in the middle of the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until they are tender when squeezed or pierced with a fork.

Remove from oven and slice in half along the widest part of the potato to make it so they will more easily lay flat. Hold each half of potato with a towel and with a spoon scoop out the center. Press through a ricer or smash with a potato masher. Add the rest of the ingredients.

Using either a pastry bag with a large hole or just a spoon, return the potato mixture to the potato shells. At this point you can cover and refrigerate them overnight. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through. If you have refrigerated them, bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Thank goodness for comfort food.

Chocolate Truffles – Little Rounds of Heaven

The days around the holidays, I’m especially reminded of traditions surrounding family.  Of creating and sustaining those rhythms that our girls will look back upon and remember well.  It’s not the presents around the tree, I think, that will be held the strongest in their minds and hearts, but those less tangible moments that have nothing to do with receiving.

Instead it will be the ritual of tromping into the woods to find just the right Christmas tree.  Decorating the house with pine boughs, roping and white lights.  Lying underneath the decorated tree and looking up at all of the branches illuminated with that golden glow.  And, of course, Christmas cookie making.

Now, we’ve gotten “better” at these rituals as the years have progressed.  The tree now has ornaments from top to bottom rather than a band of decorations high enough for a young one to reach on their tip toes.  The cookie making is a more ordered affair.  In other words, I’m not scraping flour and sugar off the floor and ceiling for a month afterwards.  And even the decorating of the house happens without tears or broken ornaments.  What a blessing to be able to spend these special days together.

Hands in the cookies.
Hands in the truffles.

The girls and I made these dark, silky balls of decadence as one of our Christmas “cookies” this year and had trouble not eating them ALL.  Fine Cooking‘s recipe is perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing.  We covered them in several ways – with cocoa powder, chopped walnuts, and the classic ganache.  Some got an espresso bean inserted in the center.  Those were our favorites, but they were all out-of-the-park delicious.  They make a perfect homemade holiday gift (If you can bear to give some away!)

Truffles2
Rolling truffles in cocoa powder.
All of the varieties.
All of the varieties.

Annie
In chocolate heaven!