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.

Nana’s Lemon Prune Cake with Lemon Butter Sauce

My mom sent me a recipe for my Nana’s Lemon Sauce via email, which was a little odd.  Normally, when I ask for a recipe, it comes by mail – photocopied recipe card complete with my Nana’s handwriting.  Even though I bless the convenience of computers every day, there is something a little sad inside of me that misses the recipe written in her own hand, stained with drops of milk and string of egg white.

I remembered the sauce well from my childhood when my Nana would don a ruffled gingham apron and create a tiny bit of magic in her small kitchen.  I loved that space, not much bigger than my own kitchen now, with really tall cabinets, an old-fashioned oven complete with warmer and a small aluminum-edged table in the middle of it all where everyone gathered.  For the big meals, we ate in the dinning room, but the real heart and action happened in that small kitchen.

Prune Cake Photo Rocky Coast Photography

The sauce itself was silky, tart, lip-smacking… but I didn’t remember how she served it.  After questioning my mom, the reason became clear.  My Nana served it with fruit cake – never my favorite on the best of days.   I went to bed that night thinking about what would go well with my Nana’s Lemon Sauce and how I could reinvent fruit cake into something not only palatable, but actually yummy.  That is how this recipe was born.

My Nana always called it Butter Sauce, but I always remember calling it Lemon Sauce.  When I think of butter sauce now, it brings to mind a Creme Anglaise, and this sauce is much like that, only less smooth vanilla and more punch of lemon.

Lemon Prune Cake with Nana’s Lemon Butter Sauce
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
Zest from one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice (juice from about 1 lemon)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 cup diced prunes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Make a well in the center and add the remaining ingredients. Stir until just well mixed. Pour into prepared cake pan using a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl.

Bake until cake springs back when lightly pressed in the middle and the edges have pulled away from the sides of the pan, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan before serving either warm or room temperature with Nana’s Lemon Butter Sauce.

Serves 12

Nana’s Lemon Butter Sauce
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped

In a medium double boiler heat egg yolks until they lighten in color, whisking fairly consistently.  Gradually add sugar, continuing to heat and whisk.  Remove from heat and add butter, lemon rind, juice, and salt. Fold in whipped cream.  Chill and serve on top of warm cake.

Makes enough to serve with cake plus extra — have a spoon ready.

Annie
Thanks, Nana!

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

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

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!

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…

Easter Celebration – Complete with Bunny Cake

Every celebration comes with traditions that we build around food.  In our extended family here in Maine, where very few of us are actually related, but most of us celebrate our holidays together, we have several traditions.  The first of which is that the Finger/Mahle house hosts the Easter meal.

Followed by… there are little girls running around collecting Easter eggs in the yard – usually hundreds of them – hundreds of what seems like little girls and, in fact, hundreds of eggs.  Before the actual hunt there is the boiling, dying, painting, and coloring of eggs in preparation for the hunt – an afternoon of spring color applied to eggs in all manner of ways.

But wait a minute.  This year, for the first time, we don’t have little ones running around at our knees (ours or anyone else’s) and our girls are old enough that dying eggs doesn’t hold the magic that it used to.  Neither does the hunting of them.  Our girls are firmly in teenager-land and while they weren’t quite ready to give up on the gift of candy, they were ready to let go of the traditional Easter Egg Hunt.  I, on the other hand, might have had to rally a bit to the new order of things and, in secret, wistfully respected the wishes and interests of the budding adults in our household.

Another tradition that we moms pensively released was the annual Easter Cake.  Long celebrated in our household with the usual argument of how the cake is actually constructed, neither the cake, nor the argument would be produced this year.  Until… Maggie, our newest crew member, walked in with a Bunny Cake – decorated in nearly the same way as the Easter Egg cake and a perfect serendipitous addition to our Easter table.

While our family traditions are changing, what matters the most – that we gather together to eat and laugh – will firmly and forever be a part of how we celebrate together – teenagers or not, Easter Egg Hunt or not, Easter Cake or not.

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Annie
Adjusting to change and grateful for the people around our table

Canning Pear Nectar

This fall, I was the surprised recipient of a beautiful bushel of pears from what we think is a Seckle Pear tree. That gift, however, did not come co-bundled with an abundance of time. I was determined that this gift would not sit too long while I put it off until the pears were passed perfectly ripe and had moved into “uh oh.”

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To hustle along, I decided to not can them as whole pears, but as nectar. Making nectar is a much easier process than canning whole fruit, as it does not require peeling. It begins with making a loose pear sauce much the same way one would apple sauce by bringing to a simmer pear quarters and water and cooking until the pears are either tender or falling apart. Pear varieties will differ in whether they stay together once they are fully cooked or fall apart – just like apples.

With the addition of lemon juice and sugar plus a hot pack canning process, pear nectar emerges. I’ll use it all winter long in smoothies instead of honey, as a juice for brunch, a foundation for mixed drinks, combined with ginger ale for a special drink for the girls and, well, I let you know what else I come up with!

Annie
Thank you, friend Glen. I’m glad we are both good at sharing.

All Hail Kale – Kale is King!

Maybe it’s because outside it’s white and windy.  The grey and brown skeletons of the trees rise up against clouds filled with coming snow.  The only green to be seen in our landscape is from the frost-tipped branches of evergreens.  Perhaps this is why this season brings such a strong craving for greens.  If it’s not in our landscape, we want it on our plates?

Potato, Cheddar & Kale Souffle

I don’t know.  What I do know is that I need to honor the instincts of my body and have created a number of recipes for cooking winter greens, this time for kale.  Potato, Cheddar and Kale Souffle; Thai Peanut Shrimp with Kale; and Tuscan Kale, Chickpeas and Olives are all in the Maine Ingredient column this week.

Annie
Kale is King