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!

Sitting Down to the Dinner Table Together

A number of years ago, when the girls were small and bedtime was 8pm (for me and them), a friend of mine said something to me and I didn’t believe her.  As I was holding my tired, tear-stained four year old on my hip, she said that when your kids get older, it’s just as intense as when they are small.  She said that instead of clinging to your pant legs, they need you in a completely different way, but just as much.  She said that her teenagers were just as time consuming and just as needing of her nurturing as when they were small.

I thought she had motherhood amnesia.  You know, the syndrome that has a mother, who recently experienced labor, to be so awash in baby love that she wants another child.  She forgets that this will require another labor.

Now that I have teenagers, I still think my friend forgot how intense mothering small children can be.  So when I’m trying to figure out how and when all of us can have dinner together because one has play practice from 6 to 8pm and the other has a class that begins at 7pm and it turns out the only time we can all sit at the table together is at 5pm, I remember when they were small.

DinnerTable

When at the end of the day, everyone was a little (or a lot) frayed at the edges and no one could really handle entertaining themselves.  When having little people “help” with dinner meant starting at 4pm for a dinner at 6pm.  When holding one in the sling and the other on the hip meant that I couldn’t chop a vegetable or make a salad.  But if I set them down, the terror of the toddler would reign down on the household.  Back then I wished I were an octopus.

Now I wish I could clone myself.  I’d have one mom drive and the other make dinner.  Since neither of those is likely, I’ll just stick with having a lot more free time in the day, serving dinner at the oddest of hours so that we can all sit face to face, and driving my teenagers to and fro with “car talk” to sustain me.

Annie
Dinner time – it’s important

Sweet Potatoes Stuffed with Caramelized Red Onion, Goat Cheese and Bacon

Sweet potatoes have become one of my new favorite vegetables.  While they also can be considered a carbohydrate, they are so filled with goodness in the vitamin and mineral category, not to mention the fiber, that they don’t count as a strike against you in the same way white potatoes do.

As we move into the deepest days of the calendar, when the daylight hours are at their ebb, meals that require the oven to be on for an hour or so are a welcome balm.  Right now, it’s all about the cozy, the creamy, the toasty and the mellow.  The way the salty bacon meets the tangy goat cheese blanketed by caramelized onions topping the soft, natural sweetness of the sweet potato is just exactly what the drop in light and temperature of this time of year calls for.Sweet Potatoes Photo Rocky Coast PhotographyWhen I first made this recipe, we actually had it as the main course with some roasted kale and homemade bread.  But it’s swanky enough to stand up as a holiday side with no problem what-so-ever.
Bacon Stuffed Sweet Potatoes Photo Rocky Coast PhotographySweet Potatoes Stuffed with Caramelized Red Onion, Goat Cheese and Bacon
To make fresh bread crumbs pulse the equivalent of three large rolls torn into pieces in the food processor until the pieces are the size of peas. Transfer to a baking pan and bake until the crumbs are crunchy, about 15 minutes.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (half for the onions and half for the sweet potatoes)
2 cups sliced red onions; about 2 large red onions
3 cups fresh bread crumbs, the equivalent of three rolls
4 large or 6 medium sweet potatoes, with skins on, cut in half
1/2 teaspoon salt (for the onions, sweet potatoes and stuffing to taste)
several grinds of fresh black pepper (for the onions, sweet potatoes and stuffing to taste)
3 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 ounces goat cheese
3 tablespoons chicken broth or water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a half sheet of parchment paper. Place the sweet potatoes flesh side up on the parchment paper and rub with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 1 hour in the oven.

Meanwhile heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add the red onion and sauté until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low when the bottom begins to stick. When the onions are finished, remove from the pan and add the bacon. Cook until the bacon is almost fully cooked. Drain the fat and then add the onion and the rest of the ingredients to the same pan. Combine well.

When the sweet potatoes are tender, remove from the oven and carefully top with the stuffing by pressing the stuffing into a shape similar to the potatoes. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes.

Makes 4 to 6

 

 

Thanksgiving Leftovers – Take Three

Potatoes are the one leftover which needs to be used up before it is relegated to the compost pile.  They don’t freeze well, so think of ways to incorporate this Thanksgiving leftover into another meal sooner rather than later.

Potato Leek Soup Photo Rocky Coast Photography
Of course, mashed potatoes can easily become a side for another meal.  And I’ve already mentioned that roasted potatoes could become Turkey Hash.  But there are a myriad of other ways that these versatile spuds can take root in another dish (see what I did there?).

Potato Cakes – Combine the mashed potatoes with some bread crumbs and an egg or two.  Dredge them in more bread crumbs or in grated Parmesan cheese and pan fry them in a little oil or butter.  Serve along-side grilled hanger or skirt steak or for breakfast with eggs and toast.

Potato Bread – Add mashed potatoes to your favorite bread recipe, reducing the liquid by half.  For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of water, add 1 cup of mashed potatoes and 1/2 cup of water.  Add dill, fennel or caraway seeds as an optional flavor.

Potato Leek Soup – Sauté onions and leeks in butter, salt and pepper. Add white wine and stock.  Stir in mashed potatoes and adjust for salt and pepper.

Potato Leek Soup Photo Rocky Coast PhotographyAnnie
My refrigerator is still full.  What about yours?

Thanksgiving Leftovers – Take Two

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.

Turkey Hash Photo Rocky Coast Photography

Turkey Hash
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).

Turkey Hash Photo Rocky Coast PhotographyAnnie
Using up what we’ve got… and what we’ve got it pretty great.

Thanksgiving Leftovers

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.

Make your own turkey stock

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!
Annie

Maine Food Cruises – Soups, Stews, and Sauces

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.

Lobster and Corn Chowda - Maine-style, Deaha.
Lobster and Corn Chowda – Maine-style, Deaha.

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.

Annie
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!

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.

Annie
P.S. My galley is still smaller.

On a Boat, It’s Not Always Perfect, But It Is Just Right

I traded swanky, landscaped, plated meals for the pine-studded coast liberally sprinkled with lichen-covered granite and a sea that is ever changing from a smokey charcoal to deep forest green.  My kitchen (galley) is outside and instead of being enclosed by four greasy walls lined with pots, pans and stainless equipment, I have pine tables, a cast iron wood stove and the smell of wood smoke.  My skin has the kiss of the sun, rather than the pasty white of someone who works indoors, even in the summer.

However, as a chef, there are a few things that occasionally ding my pride.  I’m a big girl, also an enthusiastic, optimistic one, so the moment doesn’t last long.  But I cook  on a boat all summer long and there are a number of situations that take priority over the visual attractiveness of my culinary hard work.  Sometimes my food doesn’t look perfect and it bothers me.

For example, the reason this salad has so many apples on it is not that Cassie, my assistant cook, got crazy with the apples, although this is not out of the question.  No, the true reason is that salad greens unprotected, literally, blow away with the first step on deck.  We feed the fish, not our guests.IMG_7753-001a

I love the look of micro-greens.  Do I ever use these delicate beauties?  No.  I would be the only one to see them.  See the blowing away reference above.

Also, the nature of my galley and the space available on any boat dictates that I serve family style.  I don’t have space to plate up 30 dinners in my galley.  Which means that sometimes my food is served in the pan in which it was cooked.  Again, there is a rustic simplicity, and dare I say beauty, to this look.  But no, beauty is not the word.  Practical, useful, convenient, expedient, safe, frugal.  These are the words I would use to describe my pans, but I tell you, a girl who wants to look pretty does NOT want to use these words and neither does the girl, who is the chef, who wants her food to look pretty.

The menu for lunch on the day these photos were taken was:

Local Porcini and Broccoli Leaf Mac n Cheese, Roasted Veggie and Local Italian Sausage Mac n Cheese, Garlic Knots, Apple, Walnut, Raisin Garden Greens Salad, Dijon and Champagne Vinaigrette and an Apricot Orange Pound Cake

IMG_7755-001a

It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  And then I look at these photos and I’m sad that they don’t do it justice.  I remember this meal and I loved the Porcini and Broccoli Leaf Mac n Cheese… There was nothing left of this meal.  But the look of it?  The pans are …  Hmm.

Ah well, at heart I am both creative, practical, artistic, and frugal.  It turns out that my food on this beautiful boat we sail, meandering along the breathtaking Maine Coast, has the exact qualities of both me and of Maine.  I’d rather be right where I am – in my outdoor kitchen, creating honest food that fits it’s place perfectly.

Annie
Just accepting what is

Citrus – As Colorful As Spring, Only Closer

The holidays are over and the color now seems to leach out of the landscape as the lights are down, the ribbons are recycled and the decorations stowed.  Outdoors is a poor place to be searching for color this time of year, so the inspiration and the delight needs to come from a different source.

Likewise, the gem-hued berries, the sunny-colored corn and the brightly adorned peppers are also a memory from last year’s garden.  Luckily, we have citrus to console us until the weather turns and once again we can delight in the rainbows that are produced in our gardens and our outdoor mural.

MoroccanChicken

 

This week’s column – Broiled Grapefruit; Chocolate Orange Pound Cake; Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Kalamata Olives – is all about this healthy, versatile fruit.  Just as welcome in cakes as in a main course dish.

Annie
Getting my Vitamin C