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.

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…

download

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.

Pear Frangipane Tart – Holiday Dessert or Afternoon Tea

Easy, elegant desserts are my favorite.  Mix a few ingredients together, add heat, and presto, something beautiful and delicious is born. Plus anything made in a tart pan has to be elegant, right?

Initially I intended this to become a holiday dessert slated for company, but when it came out of the oven, it smelled so good that Jon and I had it on a rainy afternoon with Earl Grey tea. He came home early from a blustery day working down at the boat and let me tell you, didn’t we feel decadent!

The classic combination of sweet, slightly tangy pears combines perfectly with the robust, nutty layers of almond flavors in this recipe.  Apples and hazelnuts would also make good partners.

download (1)Pear Frangipane Tart
This recipe was inspired by one in the cookbook “Baking” by James Peterson.

Almond Frangipane:
1 cup whole almonds
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
pinch salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum

In a food processor, grind the almonds to a fine mixture. Add the butter and sugar and pulse until smooth. Add the egg and egg yolk one at a time and then the dark rum.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 puff pastry sheet or enough puff pastry to line an 11-inch tart pan
1 1/2 cups almond frangipane
4 1/2 pears peeled, halved and cored (the 1/2 a pear is a little off, I know. This is what worked for me, but if you’d rather squeeze the other half into the tart, go ahead.)
2 tablespoons melted salted butter
2 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Press the puff pastry into the bottom of the tart pan and up the sides. Spread the frangipane over the dough and then place the pear halves on top, arranging so that the wider part of the pear is toward the outside edge of the pan. Reserve the odd 1/2 pear and slice it into three wedges for the center.

Combine the melted butter and sugar and brush over the tops of the pears. Bake for 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the pears have cooked through. Remove from oven to cool and then remove from pan and slice. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream flavored with almond extract and sugar.

Serves 12 to 16

 

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

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 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.