This recipe is a riff on an old classic in the Maine Windjammer fleet – Congo Bars. Usually made for lunch and scarfed up by mid-afternoon, this recipe is amped up for a dinner dessert with the addition of both Ancho chili powder and Kentucky Bourbon. Both give a punch and a depth that makes the perfect cross between comfort dessert and swanky dessert. As with the bar recipe, the pie recipe is much better slightly underdone than even the smallest bit overdone. Of course, this recipe is for one pie, whereas on the Riggin, I’m making 3 or 4 pies at at time, hence the several pies in the photos below.
Drunken Pepper Pie
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons unflavored vodka
2 tablespoons ice cold water (or more)
Combine the flour, salt, and butter into a medium bowl; cut in well with a pastry knife.
Add vodka and water and mix until dough pulls away from the bowl and forms a ball. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Remove and roll onto a floured board to at least 12 inches in diameter. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan and pinch the edges. Let rest in the refrigerator again until the pie batter is done.
Makes 1 crust
1 1/2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Kentucky Bourbon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon Ancho chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the brown sugar and butter over low heat. Cool slightly so that the pan is comfortable to touch and then add the bourbon and vanilla extract. Mix in the eggs one at a time.
Sift the flour, baking powder, ancho chili powder, and salt into the sugar and butter mixture and stir. When the dry ingredients are completely incorporated, add the chocolate chips.
Spatula the pie batter into the prepared pie shell and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the pie crust is golden brown. If a fork poked into the center comes out slightly gooey this is okay.
Cool slightly and serve while still warm with Brown Sugar Whipped Cream.
Serves 8 to 12
Brown Sugar Whipped Cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and beat with a whisk until soft peaks form.
Getting excited to go sailing! You should come with us this summer!
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!
For years, a visit to the rustic fishing village of Stonington, Maine required a walk down Main Street to the Purple Fish, a little publicized, but revered little gallery run by Jan and Evelyn Kok. When we shared with our guests the not-to-miss sites of Stonington, these two people and their gallery were always top of the list. We described Jan and Evelyn as the oldest kids we knew. With their heads of hair that had turned fully white and their backs bending to the weight of gravity a little more each year, the vitality and energy of this couple dimmed not one bit.
I say that when I grow up, I want to be like them. As a couple. As a person. I always left the Purple Fish feeling as if I had my priorities straight. Life is about good music, harmony, joy, stories, laughter, love, sharing… the important things.
Evelyn has now left us, but today in the mail I received a whiff of her essence in the form of her artwork. Christina Ships, owner of Inn on the Harbor in Stonington and also niece to these incredible human beings, has taken on the project of sorting through Evelyn’s artwork and turning them into cards and stationary. (We’ll be selling these in the ship’s store this summer. Let us know if you’d like us to send you a set: 6 packs are $20 plus shipping for either of the Riggin shots or a collection of the sea shells.)
So for a moment, Evelyn was alive again, stories of her wafting across the screen of my mind leaving me with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart.
Thank you Christina
Last fall, the wood stove that we inherited when we bought the Riggin 18 years ago, died. Admittedly, it was a slow death, complete with many repairs and upgrades, but once the stove was out of position, like a soldier out of step with the rest of his/her unit, the flaws became more evident. The first one being, no one should be able to look from the outside wall of the fire box and see through a crack to the grate inside. No one. Ever.
But before we were able to get a good look at the stove from all angles, we had to get it out of the space it had occupied for almost 40 years. (Remember that we inherited the stove with the Riggin. The original installation would have been some time in 1977.) To get the stove out required a feat of engineering, as with most anything involving schooners where everything is heavy and nothing is square. The trick to getting the stove out had to include no one getting hurt, so just getting a bunch of crew muckled onto the thing and muscling it out of the space wasn’t going to work. We’ve tried to fit more than three people in my galley space and trust me, there’s no room to maneuver a single thing, much less a several-hundred pound stove.
This would require the largest muscle of all – the brain. Often in the schooner world, heavy objects are moved by rolling them over logs or poles rather than sheer brute strength. This concept applied to the stove worked brilliantly. Several oblong fenders were placed on the sole in front of the stove where I usually stand. The stove was then carefully tilted on end to rest on top of the fenders and then rolled out of the galley space to in front of the stairs. Then fenders were placed on the backside of the stairs and with a pulley system rigged to the boom, rolled up and out of the galley. From there, the boom was able to swing the stove off the deck and onto the dock.
Once the stove was in the back of the truck, Cap. took it to be repaired at Bryant Stove Works, a well-known stove repair company in our area. The sad news came when the owner of the store suggested that she had cooked her last meal and the best use for her was a 21-gun salute. Good bye, old friend.
Lucy installed in her new home!
Hello, new friend, with your shiny chrome, your curlicues and your warming shelves. Welcome to my galley. I’m thinking her name should be Lucy. It’s an old-fashioned name and a wood stove on a 1927-built schooner should have an old-fashioned name. Plus, if some goes wrong I’ll be able to say, “Luuucy, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do.” I hope we will become fast friends, Lucy.
Making new friends
On a sunny day in March (they are happening more and more frequently), Elizabeth and I left the office for a cocktail adventure. Sometimes work is so HARD! As we entered the back door of In Good Company, one of my favorite restaurants in Rockland; well… in Maine; well… anywhere, we were greeted by Melody Wolfertz, owner and chef, and an unusual sound found in restaurants – quiet.
As she led us to the patina-ed walnut bar, she started right in, filling the quiet with the sounds of a restaurant – the click of ice falling into bar glasses, the dull chime of spirit bottles bumping up next to each other as they are pulled from shelves and amidst it all, the chatter of engaged creativity on my favorite subjects – food and cocktails. We spent a good deal of time talking about flavor profiles, the wonderful freshness and ingenuity that has literally and figuratively infused the cocktail world over the past decade, and what she thinks about when she’s making a well-balanced cocktail.
The full recipe and article will be out in the May issue of Maine Spirits, but in the meantime, here’s a look at our fun afternoon together.
Sometimes a girls gotta work REEAL hard
One calm Sunday in April, the crew of the Riggin and the Timberwind moved our new pretty schooner up Penobscot Bay to her new home in Belfast, Maine. The day started calm and then picked up to a feisty 25 knots of breeze on the beam, but for a spring day in Maine, this is still a fairly low key day on the bay. As the sun was closing out the day, our crews celebrated their efforts. To top it all off, the Bangor Daily News was kind enough to highlight the Timberwind‘s new life.
Thank you, Belfast, for your welcoming ways
Elizabeth’s favorite flavors are chocolate and orange and so for her birthday in late March, can you guess what sort of cake she asked for? Knowing that Easter was on it’s way, and also knowing that while SHE got her cake, WE didn’t get our cake, I decided to make it again and this time for our Easter dinner crowd.
This cake is lovely for a couple of reasons. The oil and sour cream make it a forgiving batter that once baked into a cake, stays forever moist. The clementine zest, orange extract and Grand Marnier ensure that the cake is infused with orange flavor at several different levels. Lastly, the bright orange garnish of the clementine lends an eye-catching splash of happy color and tang.
Clementine and Grand Marnier Chocolate Cake
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons clementine zest; about 3 clementines
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
2 teaspoons orange extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
8 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
2 clementines, sliced thinly and halved for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and set aside.
Using the paddle attachment and a large mixing bowl combine sugar, zest, eggs and canola oil on low speed. Measure out the rest of the wet ingredients in one liquid measuring container and measure all of the dry ingredients into a sifter. Alternate adding the wet and dry ingredients to the mixing bowl ending with wet.
Divide batter evenly between the two cake pans and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the edges of the cake have pulled away from the sides of the pan a little and a toothpick comes clean when inserted into the center. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. When the butter is melted, remove the pan from the heat and let the chocolate continue to melt. When the chocolate is fully melted, add the sour cream and the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
To assemble the cake, remove the cooled cakes from their pans and transfer one to a serving platter. Spread 1/2 of the glaze onto the top of the cake and rim with clementines so that you will be able to see the rinds. Repeat the process with the second cake. The glaze is a little easier to deal with if it has cooled somewhat, but don’t wait until it has cooled completely as it will set up. Garnish with clementine halves and serve.
Serves 12 to 16
Gonna get me that last slice…