Biscuit and Jam – The Biscuit Contract

I woke up this morning to my car cloaked in a glow of pink.  The sun had not yet broken the horizon and my snow-covered car received it’s kiss as it rose to greet the day.

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Fitting that today should also be Biscuit Contract Day on our office calendar.  This contract was agreed upon and signed 7 months ago to the day.  The contract follows:

July 20, 2013 – Annie returned to shore after a 4-day cruise and proceeded to heat the entire downstairs with steam as she made batches of jam in 84 degree/humid weather.  THEN she wanted to open the windows to “cool down.”   Ha.  E made Annie promise that 7 months from now, February 20th, that we would have jam & biscuits to make up for it.  Annie agreed.  Annie hereby agrees to make biscuits with Strawberry or Rhubarb Champagne Jam as she has promised.  Signed by both parties.

And here they are, E.  As promised and as delicious.

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Baking Powder Biscuits 
This is a recipe my grandma passed on to me through my mom.  Thank you, Grandma, for being so good at making both biscuits and pie dough.  I think of you every time I make either.

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4  cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  This is an important step because you want to add air to the mixture so the biscuits are as fluffy as possible.  Cut the butter in with a pastry knife until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Stir in any additional dry ingredients here.  Add milk and any additional wet ingredients, stirring until a soft dough forms. Do not overmix.  This is very important; if you overmix you will probably get hard tack instead of fluffy biscuits.  Great for sailors of old, but not so delicious in present time.  Turn out onto a floured board and knead 5 to 10 times, then stop.  Roll or pat out the dough until it is 1/2-inch thick.  Cut with a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter.  Bake on ungreased cookie pan for 12 to 15 minutes.

Makes 12 biscuits

Annie
Keepin’ E happy.  It’s a good thing.

Praline Kettle Corn and Smoked Paprika Popcorn – Stove-Top Style

While we are home this week having adventures of the cozy sort, we’ll probably watch another movie and we’ll probably want popcorn to go with it.  The column this week ran with all sorts of popcorn variations that we’ve played with over the years -Lime and Cumin Popcorn, Truffle Sea Salt Popcorn, Curry and Red Pepper Popcorn, Parmesan and Black Pepper Popcorn and Kettle Corn.   All stove-top varieties, because one, it’s so much better and two, it’s so much better for you.

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Stove-Top Praline Kettle Corn
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup corn kernels
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup sugar
Big pinch sea salt

Have a large bowl ready before beginning.  Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Your pot has to have a lid and if it’s a glass lid that’s super helpful.  Add two corn kernels to the pot and wait for them to pop.  At the same time they pop, the oil will begin to smoke just a little bit.  This means it’s time to add the rest of the corn kernels, pecans, sugar and salt.  You need to add them all at once and stir for just 10 seconds or so.  Make sure to get that lid on before the first one pops, your goal is to just barely coat the popcorn with the sugar.  Cover with the lid and shake the pot with potholders or a kitchen towel holding each handle.  Shake the pot every 20 seconds or so until the popping sounds have diminished to every 1 seconds.  Don’t wait to make sure that all the kernels get popped.  Instead, err on the side of not burning the sugar and a few more unpopped kernels . Immediately transfer the popped corn to the ready bowl.  Use tongs or a spoon to turn the popcorn and distribute the sugar.  Serve with lots of napkins and be careful to wait until the sugar has cooled!

Makes WAY more than you think (about 16 cups)

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Stove-Top Smoked Paprika and Lemon Popcorn
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Have both a large bowl and the melted butter ready before beginning.  Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Your pot has to have a lid and if it’s a glass lid that’s super helpful.  Add two corn kernels to the pot and wait for them to pop.    At the same time they pop, the oil will begin to smoke just a little bit.  This means it’s time to add the rest of the corn kernels.  Add the smoked paprika carefully and quickly once the kernels begin to pop.  Cover with the lid and shake the pot with potholders or a kitchen towel holding each handle.  Shake the pot every 20 seconds or so until the popping sounds have diminished to every 1 to 2 seconds.  Immediately transfer the popped corn to the large bowl and drizzle both the melted butter, lemon zest and salt over all.  Use tongs or a spoon to coat thoroughly.  Serve immediately with lots of napkins!

Makes WAY more than you think (about 16 cups)

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Annie
Getting ready for movie time!

Maine Adventures at Home

Many of our friends and family are off to warmer climes this week while we stay home.  The wanderer in me is pining for an adventure of our own, AND I know that there are plenty of adventures to be had right here in Maine.  This moment of someone leaving the state to travel and explore is always a moment when I can either choose to pine for what is not, or turn my gaze to appreciate what is.

“What is” is that the sun is bright, the sky is clear and by 10 a.m. this morning I’d already been for a long cross country ski with a friend.  “What is” is that as I write, Ella is making her first cake all by herself (with dozens of questions for me filled with both uncertainty and excitement).  “What is” is that last night we all easily agreed on the same movie and we found ourselves piled in the same place on the settee attempting to be under one blanket while we watched.  “What is” is that even though we aren’t traveling out of the Maine this week, I know we’ll find our own adventures.  “What is” is that I truly love living in this state and staying home, being cozy and relaxed, reading and sipping tea, skiing and snow shoeing has a romance all it’s own.  Suddenly, I’ve talked myself into loving staying home.

Ella's first cake

Ella’s first cake

As it turns out, not two minutes after typing the above about “adventures and such” the oven door slammed open and wouldn’t stay shut.  The spring had broken and Jon is now, as we speak, off to the hardware store for a replacement.  See?  Adventure!

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Or this is more like it!

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Annie
Appreciating “What is”

Yellow Tomato, Ginger and Lemongrass Shrimp over Coconut Rice

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Today, on this snowy day in Maine when the kids are home from school, the column ran with this recipe for Yellow Tomato, Ginger and Lemongrass Shrimp over Coconut Rice.  There’s also a recipe for Butterscotch Mocha Cake with Butterscotch Buttercream that was inspired by Kate Schaffer’s Olive Oil Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream from her book “Desserted.”  Kate and Steve own Black Dinah Chocolatiers on Ilse au Haut and if we are lucky we get to visit them at least once a summer.

Annie
Enjoy this beautiful day!

Go Pats!… I Mean Wes

Is there anything good about your team not playing in the Super Bowl?  Hmmm… For starters, it’s safe to spend the game with others without embarrassing outbursts and too much enthusiasm.  If one team looses, at least it’s not yours.  One can focus on the food and not so much the game.  Turns out there are a few upsides after all!

As for the food, I’ve been thinking about what sounds good to me this weekend and found this recipe in my column archives.  I’m thinking some oven-fried potatoes and a big salad plus maybe a brothy soup to go with it.

Go Welker! (even though you don’t play for the Patriots any more and your uniform is the wrong color).

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Red Onion Meatloaf Sandwiches on Baguettes w/Havarti and Sautéed Onions and Peppers
Sandwich makings:
2 baguettes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 red pepper; seeded, cored and sliced
1 green pepper; seeded, cored and sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Havarti, sliced
Red Onion Meatloaf (recipe below)

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Heat the oil and add the onions, peppers, salt and pepper.  Sauté until tender and remove from heat.

Slice baguettes in half length-wise and place on a baking sheet.  Place slices of meatloaf on baguettes and top with onion and pepper mixture and the slices of cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Slice into 3-inch pieces and serve.

Serves 12

Red Onion Meatloaf
4 pounds ground beef
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups chopped red onion
4 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 cup breadcrumbs
2 cup vegetable juice
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons parsley
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes.  Mix all of the ingredients together; pat it into two 9×4 loaf pans and place in the oven.  Bake for 1 hour or until a thermometer inserted into the center reads 160 degrees.  Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Annie
Happy game day to you all

Photo Friday – Peregrine Falcon and a Pigeon

Fridays have occasionally been a place for ‘fun photos,’ hence the usual ‘Fun Photo Friday’ title.  What follows is definitely amazing photography, but I’m a little reluctant to call it ‘fun.’  Incredible, gripping, fascinating – yes.  Fun?  Noooot really.

This peregrine falcon apparently had little trouble catching it’s prey, a pigeon, this morning on the Rockland waterfront.  It chose the top of the J. & E. Riggin‘s main mast as it’s dinner table.  Many thanks to Don Reimer for his photos and generosity in sharing them with us.

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Raspberry Cinnamon Galette for Pies on Parade

Raspberries are my favorite right off the bush, warm and bursting with tart juice on a summer’s morning.  However, if, in the middle of winter, that scene seems a far way off, a raspberry galette full of sweet, lemony berries is the next best thing.  Not too much sugar, but enough that it compliments the tang of the berries.

This is the second pie that I served at Rheal for Pies on Parade here in Rockland, Maine last weekend.  My feet hurt and I talked with only a fraction of the 480 people that walked into Rhonda’s store AND I left her place feeling satisfaction for our good work and our part in helping the Area Interfaith Outreach Pantry raise close to $20,000.

While organizers are still tallying up the monies raised, they figure if one $25 ticket  can buy 3 meals for 5 days for a family of 4, then we raised more than 43,000 meals this weekend. The collaborative business community that we have fostered in Rockland is unique and something to be proud of.   Nice work, Rockland!  Good to be a part of your community.

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Galette ready to go into the oven, complete with tiny pats of butter on top.

Raspberry Cinnamon Galette
We have in our garden what is becoming a raspberry forest, where eventually the saddest thing happens and we get tired of eating raspberries. Even as I write this I find it tremendously unbelievable, but it’s actually true. When this implausible moment occurs, we pick but don’t eat them and freeze the berries for the middle of winter when we can’t remember what it’s like to be tired of eating raspberries. When using frozen berries in the galette, I bake it for 70 to 80 minutes.

2 cups raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon large grain sugar such as demerara or turbinado
1 galette crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the galette crust onto the sheet. In a medium bowl, combine raspberries, sugar, flour and cinnamon. Toss together and place in the middle of the galette dough leaving a 2 to 3-inch border. Fold the border up and let the pleats fall naturally. Pinch them together where they fold. Dot the raspberries with little bits of the unsalted butter. Brush the edges of the dough with the milk and sprinkle with the large grain sugar. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the raspberry center is bubbly and set up some the crust is golden brown. Serve warm or cool, cutting with a pizza wheel or sharp knife.

Serves 8

Galette Crust
This crust is a rustic one made so by the addition of the cornmeal. It is not as flaky as you think of a perfect pie crust, but is instead supported by the structure that the cornmeal provides.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup ice water
1/4 cup buttermilk

Combine all of the dry ingredients. Add the butter and either press with your thumbs or use a pastry knife to incorporate. The mixture should look something between bread crumbs and small peas. The smaller the pieces, the more tender and flakier the crust. Add the ice water and buttermilk. If you need more liquid, add 1 teaspoon at a time until the mixture forms a ball. Divide into two, cover well and put in freezer for 30 minutes. Lightly flour the counter top and roll out one disc into an 11-inch circle to receive the raspberry filling. Reserve one disc for another galette.

Makes enough for two 8-inch galettes

Lemon Lavender Yogurt Honey Pie for Pies on Parade

I was just doing my thing in the kitchen; following a recipe that was given to me.  One that I was supposed to make.  Couldn’t do it.  Had to change it.  Had. To.  This just proves that I am constitutionally incapable of following a recipe.  I prefer to think of it as a gift.

So now we have two new verbs in this office:  “Mahled” and “swankmeistered,” inspired by my handicap, er,   gift.  E calls me The Swankmeister sometimes.  That’s where that one comes from.

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In any event, this is the version I came up with for Pies on Parade, inspired by our Rockland honey and by Lauren Chattman who wrote Icebox Desserts.2014-01-26_14-40-52_160-001a

Thank you to the nearly 500 people who came into Rheal to sample pie and socialize.  It was a blast!

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Rhonda, it was a pleasure to work with you and I can’t believe we’ve already had conversations about next year!

Lemon Lavender Yogurt Honey Pie
This recipe initially called for lavender honey, which seemed a silly extravagance to me when I already have gorgeous honey from my hives here in Rockland.  If you would prefer to use lavender honey, omit the 3 tablespoons of lavender water and substitute regular honey for the lavender honey in a one to one ratio.

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Crumb Crust:
11 whole graham crackers (to yield about 1 1/3 cups crumbs)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
3 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
zest from 1 lemon
1/8 teaspoon salt

Filling:
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons lavender water (see below)
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon apricot extract
1 cup whole-milk yogurt
1/2 cup honey (preferably local Rockland honey :) )
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled

Garnish:
1/2 lemon, quartered lengthwise and sliced very thinly
3 strawberries, hulled and halved and sliced very thinly

Lavender Water:
Cover 3 tablespoons of dried lavender buds with 1/2 cup water.  Bring to a simmer and let simmer for 5 minutes.   Remove from heat and let sit for at least 30 minutes or overnight.  Strain

Crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Process the graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground. Combine the crumbs, melted butter, oats, brown sugar, lemon zest and salt in a medium-size bowl and stir until moistened. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate and all the way up the side, packing it tightly with your fingertips so it is even and compacted. Bake until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. (The crust may be wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 1 month.)

Filling:
Sprinkle the gelatin over the lemon juice and lavender water in a small stainless-steel bowl and let soften for 2 minutes. Whisk together the yogurt and honey in a medium-size bowl.

Bring 2 inches of water in a small saucepan to a bare simmer. Set the bowl containing the gelatin over the pan, making sure it doesn’t touch the water, and heat, whisking constantly, just until it melts, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk into the yogurt mixture until smooth.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the cream cheese until smooth and then add the heavy cream until it holds stiff peaks. Gently fold the yogurt mixture into the whipped cream, taking care not to deflate the cream. Scrape into the prepared pie shell, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely set, at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.

Garnish:
When ready to serve, cut the pie slices and then garnish with both the lemon and strawberry slices.

Serves 8 to 12

Pies On Parade

Both a benefit for the local food pantry, Area Interfaith Outreach (AIO), and a festive mid-winter party, Pies on Parade has grown into a major event over the past several years.  Sold out a week ago at 600 tickets, it proves to be the event of the month for at least AIO if not Midcoast Maine.

This year, Rheal Day Spa (my favorite place ever) and I are partnering to make both Lemon Lavender Honey and Yogurt Pie and Cinnamon Raspberry Gallette from my cookbook Sugar and Salt.  Rhonda Nordstrom, spa owner extraordinaire, and I have shared tea a time or two as we plot and plan our menu and the details of cooking pies for 600 people out of a kitchen almost as small as the galley on the Riggin.

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Breads – To Knead or Not to Knead

Spinach, Sun-dried Tomato & Artichoke No Knead Bread 5

I’m a fan of them all, kneaded and no-knead breads.  They are all my children and I love them, different though they be.  This week’s column is on ways to use sourdough starter in breads for flavor rather than as a leavener.  I know, I know, sourdough IS a leavener, but not for someone who has limited space and time, say someone who cooks out of a boat galley.  Therefore, because sourdough isn’t a fail proof method for me on the boat, I’ve developed my own ways of using it that don’t require so much tending.

There are also a number of other sourdough breads that I’ve posted in the past should you get super excited and find yourself on a bread roll….  Ha!

Annie
Still ‘Ha!’

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