Maine Food Cruises – Veggies and Greens, Oh My!

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?

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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.

Annie
Thinking about greens galore and our next Maine Food Cruise, July 6 to 9!

 

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!

Maine Gourmet Food Cruises – Bread Baking

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.

Kalamata Olive and Black Pepper Bread.  Yum.
Kalamata Olive and Black Pepper Bread. Yum.

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.

 

Annie
Gourmet cooking cruises?  Who doesn’t want to eat well on vacation?  July 6 to 9th is our next Maine Gourmet Food Cruise.

A Knitting Retreat to Dye For

The first of our Maine knitting cruises has come and gone with great success and many highlights to share!

The trip began with a visit to the Swan’s Island Company north of where the Riggin is docked.  Jackie Ottino Graf, the resident dye-master and social media maven of the company, took us through the dyeing process, handed out complementary patterns with yarn, and shared her extensive knowledge.

Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Damp, undyed yarn waiting for the dye vat. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Indigo-dyed yarn hanging to dry.  Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Indigo-dyed yarn hanging to dry. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Jackie displaying limited edition, indigo-dyed throw, "Whitecaps". Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Jackie displaying a limited edition, indigo-dyed throw, “Whitecaps”. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Each blanket is created by hand, each “whitecap” is added by hand. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Swan’s Island Blankets hanging in the show room. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Gorgeousness! Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Our hosts!  Thank you Jackie, Bill and Swan's Island Company.  Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Our hosts! Thank you Jackie, Bill and Swan’s Island Company. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
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Mim instructing on the first day.
Hanging out in the galley, knitting away.

The next day found us in the Rockland yarn shop, Over the Rainbow Yarn, owned by Mim Bird, resident knitting instructor extraordinaire, for last minute items and extra yarn (because who doesn’t need EXTRA yarn)?  We left the dock shortly after for our 4-day adventure armed with more yarn than we could possible knit in as many days.

Our first day had us romping across the bay to feisty winds and feistier seas with a promise of sunnier days to come.  Mim started everyone off with information on how to knit with multi-colored yarn, the difference between a tonal yarn and variegated yarn, plus many more tidbits and facts.

As with any knitting retreat, some dug right in to their project and managed to knit furiously, finishing on the last night.  Others meandered their way through the day, working on the official project some and their pet projects as well.

I’ll post photos of the actual dyeing process next, because that cool event deserves it’s own post.

Annie
My hands are blue (from indigo), but my spirit is sunny

P.S. When you go to the Swan’s Island Company website, check out what schooner is the setting for some of the photos!  And,yes, the model and the yarn are pretty too.

P.P.S.  Our next two knitting cruises are June 19 to 22 and August 31 to September 5.  You should come!

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.

Drunken Pepper Pie – It’s a Beautiful Thing

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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
Pie Crust
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

Pie Batter
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.

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Annie
Getting excited to go sailing!  You should come with us this summer!

No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread – Easy Peasy

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.

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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

Annie
Happy baking to you and to me!

Cocktails – In Good Company

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.

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A captivating array of bitters by the Fee Brothers and our local Sweet Grass Winery.
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Sharing The In Good Company, a Negroni and several botanicals.
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Talking, learning, sipping, and having fun!
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The In Good Company, a rif on a cosmo, made with rhubarb syrup and blueberry bitters.
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Ice ball made on site for those who like their spirits cold and only slightly watered.
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The bar at In Good Company in Rockland, Maine. You should go!

Annie
Sometimes a girls gotta work REEAL hard

Clementine and Grand Marnier Chocolate Cake

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.

IMG_9815-001aClementine and Grand Marnier Chocolate Cake
Cake:
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons clementine zest; about 3 clementines
2 eggs
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

Glaze:
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

Cake:
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.

Glaze:
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:
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

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Annie
Gonna get me that last slice…

Easy Cowl – Upcycled Turtleneck

Recycling used clothing has to be among one of the most satisfying ways to spend a cold Sunday afternoon (other than watching the Patriots win the Super Bowl – GO Pats!)  Easy, frugal, fun and useful all at the same time, this sweater became a pair of hand warmers for Ella, a mini-skirt for Chloe and a cowl for me.  Now the rule is that no one can wear their item on the same day.  Fair enough.

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Lay the sweater out on a cutting board.
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Cut straight across the top from sleeve seam to sleeve seam.
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Cut off the sleeves. They will need to be edged in some way. Create a thumb hole with a button hole attachment on your sewing machine.
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Trim the neck seam. Embellish with a blanket stitch in a complementary-colored yarn.
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Wear on the days that your daughters are not wearing their items!

Annie
New clothes!