Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Farro Risotto with Porcini


Digging out of a blizzard, enjoy winter wonderland and cross country skiing, a risotto is just the right fare. Giada di Laurentiis was cooking a risotto with farro the other day on Giada At Home, and I was enticed. Farro is a ancient grain and looks like wheatberries. It has a nutty flavor, and it works really well in salads. 

She prepared her farro risotto like a regular risotto, and added sultanas, pine nuts, feta cheese and parseley. For me it ended with the sultanas, because I dislike anything raisins. I rolled with the basic idea and turned it into a mushroom farro risotto, adding mini portabella mushrooms, dried porcini and some pecorino. It was very flavorful and creamy, and I must say I almost like it better than the arborio rice version because the nutty flavor and creamy texture of the farro went perfectly well with the mushrooms.

(makes 2 servings)

1/2 cup dried farro (available on Amazon.com or Gustiamo.com)
1 TB olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
salt, pepper
1 cup portabello button mushroom, chopped
1-2 oz dried porcini
3 cups of beef bouillon, heated
pecorino (or parmesan cheese)

Heat the beef stock, and add the porcini mushroom to rehydrate for 5 min. Remove and chop.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil and add the shallot, and saute for 1-2 min. Add garlic and saute for another 1 min. Add the farro and 'toast' it in the oil, shallot and garlic mix for ca 1-2 min. Add the white wine, stir and cook down the wine until almost evaporated (all on medium heat). 

Now, add all the mushrooms and porcini and 1/4 cup of the beef stock, and stir and slowly cook down the liquid. Once the risotto become dry, add another 1/4 cup of beef stock. Repeat until the farro is softened, about 25-30min. Always check, and stir, and add more liquid (you might need more or less than the 3 cups, but make sure to add hot broth). Once the farro is soft and creamy, take it off the heat, and grate in a few tablespoon of pecorino and stir. Serve!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cauliflower Curry



When I asked myself what I wanted to eat for Christmas Eve, I had a clear idea: cauliflower curry. A lot of cauliflower, some coconut milk and the curry spice part. Light, yet festive. 

1 bag of frozen cauliflower (or a half head, fresh, cut into florets)
1 ts grapeseed oil
1/2 ts black mustard seeds
1/2 ts cumin seeds
3-4 curry leaves
1/2 can light coonut milk
1 ts chili flakes
2 garlic cloves
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 ts red Thai curry paste

In a large skillet, heat the grapeseed oil and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and wait until the mustard seeds start to pop like popcorn (in hot oil, ca. 30 sec.). Stir, and heat for ca 15 sec, and then add the cauliflower and the coconut milk. Mix well, and cover with a lid. Simmer on very low heat for ca 30 min, until the cauliflower gets cooked through and slightly mushy. Makes sure the liquid does not evaporated (therefore, simmering on REALLY LOW), or add a bit of water. Once cooked, add in the Thai curry paste and mix well. Serve with some blanched almonds.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ramen, Genuine Ramen.


(source)
Nice article in Boston.com about some ethnic/Asian restaurants in Maine.

"PORTLAND — It is late fall in Longfellow Square. The leaves have dropped, the grass is brown, flowers are frosted and dead. 

At least there’s ramen, genuine ramen. It’s at Pai Men Miyake, and it’s served all day and late into the night. The rich broth is made from the bones, meat, and fat of guinea hens and Berkshire pigs. After a day of simmering it is ready to be studded with sliced pork belly, fresh noodles, seaweed, and boiled egg, and ladled into ceramic bowls. This is heavy soup in heavy bowls to wrap your hands around, to hunch over slurping, to take off the chill.

Much has been made of Maine’s local food culture — the farm to table restaurants, the meadmakers and cheesemakers, the heirloom everything. There has been a lot less hype about the ethnic restaurants, many of which serve delicious, carefully made food — true to this mother’s kitchen or that night market vendor’s street cart. It is great food, but, until recently, with the exception of a handful of sushi bars, the exotic restaurants were lacking in atmosphere and service and everything else that makes a restaurant worth going to. With boring beer and wine lists, buzz kill lighting, and orchestral pop songs, they were better for lunch than for a big night out.
Now, three places have given far-away flavors a new sense of place: Pai Men Miyake; Boda, a Thai tapas and skewer bar across the street; and Long Grain, Asian street food and home cooking a couple of hours up the coast in Camden. They serve food that Mainers used to have to travel a long way for, and they do it with local ingredients and they do it in style."

Read more....

Boda
671 Congress St.
Portland
207-347-7557
bodamaine.com
Entrees $12-$19.
Long Grain
31 Elm St., Camden
207-236-9001
Entrees $9-$14.
Pai Men Miyake
188 State St., Portland
207-541-9204
$5-$11.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Original Brussels Sprouts, Courtesy of Trader Joes


I love to see how vegetables actually grow. I can still remember the awe of seeing my first artichoke field in Central California, a huge tuscan kale plant, rice in Japan, or zucchini  and eggplants plants in a farmers market exhibition garden. This time, Trader Joe's brought the brussels sprouts to the store, including their habitat: a stalk. On top of looking picturesque, the stalk was also inexpensive. So, roasted balsamic brussels sprouts, sauteed endives, baby spinach and a handful of cherry tomatoes, all courtesy of Trader Joes, made up today's lunch.

Balsamic roasted brussels sprouts:
cut brussels sprouts off stalk
half, and line on a baking sheet lined with alu foil
salt, pepper, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil
roast for about 15-20 min at 375F.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Balsamic Vinaigrette


After using the balsamic vinaigrette in many of my salad recipes, it is time that I actually post the recipe. I promise this is the best balsamic vinaigrette ever.

1/4 cup very good, smooth, at least 8 year aged balsamic vinegar (I use Fini or Fiore's Black Cherry Balsamic Vinegar)
1/8 cup excellent extra-virgin olive oil (currently, I used a price-winning Australian olive oil I got at Wholefoods)
1 TB grainy mustard (Maille recommended)
1 TB honey
1 garlic clove, microplaned

Add all ingredients in a vinaigrette bottle (or simply a jar with a tightly closing lid) and shake vigorously. Keep chilled in the fridge, and serve for salad.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Blog Bites: Feta Spinach Pumpkin Muffins


I cannot believe I have not blogged about them yet; I made them twice already! I favor savory things to sweets any day, and these are now my favorite savory muffins. My local farmers market sells a wonderful, strong feta, as well as fresh spinach and any type of winter squash, and these are the main ingredients. I adapted it slightly from the original recipe from 101Cookbooks, but they are also delightful in their original conception.

cooking spray (or butter for the muffin pan)
1 gluck of olive oil
255g cubed butternut squash, cut 1/2-inch cubes (I buy peeled butternut squash, less work)
salt and pepper to taste
1 large handful of fresh baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds kernels, roasted, unsalted
100g  cubed feta (full-fat, and best a local product from the farmers market)
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
180 ml un-flavored almond milk
1 cup allpurpose flour
1 cup quinoa flour
4 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

Preheat oven to 405F / 200C, with rack in the top third. Grease 2 12-hole muffin pans and set aside.

Sprinkle the olive oil, salt and pepper over the cubed squash. Arrange in a single layer on a baking pan and bake for 15 - 25 minutes so that the squash is mostly cooked, but not mushy or dry. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl beat the eggs and almond milk together. Sift the flours and baking powder onto the mix, add in some salt and a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper, and mix until smooth. Fold in gently the spinach, sunflower seeds, feta, and all of the mustard. At last, fold in the baked squash.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, filling each hole 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops and sides of the muffins are golden, and the muffins have set up completely. Let cool for a couple minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Radicchio Salad with Grapes, Walnuts and Shaved Parmesan


Sunday mornings often start with tuning into Food TV or the Cooking channel, and sometimes this results in inspirations for a few meals. Today was such a day. The original salad calls for pecorino and pistachios (great idea! but I was out) and blistered grapes, but for me only the combination of radicchio and (raw) grapes stood, with balsamic vinaigrette and toasted walnuts and shaved parmesan. The combination of the crunchy, slightly bitter radicchio, the full-flavored balsamic vinaigrette and the juicy, sweet grapes with the crunch of walnuts is a wonderful combination.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vegan Strawberry Smoothie


A vegan strawberry smoothie!

1 cup almond milk (silk, vanilla flavor)
1 cup fresh strawberries
1/2 banana
3/4 scoop Sun Warrior raw vegan protein powder

For decoration: dried tropical fruit

Place all ingredients in blender (preferrably a vitamix), and blend until smooth. Serve!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Maine's own: Stonewall Kitchen scones


On a trip to Bar Harbor over the sunny, yet cold but marvelous Columbus day weekend with the foliage peaking, I picked up 2 boxes of Stonewall Kitchen scone mix. Today, I baked the first batch, cranberry orange scones with fresh orange zest and a few more cranberries. I used Ina Garten's trick, and pulsed the ingredients, including the cold, chopped butter in a large food processor for just a few pulses. To get a flaky scone, it is necessary to have intact little butter 'bubbles', and pulsing the ingredients in a food processor for 4-5 times does just that. Add ice cold water, pulse some more, and the scone dough is ready. I filled the small triangles of my scone pan and baked for 12-14 min (turned oven off after 12 min). They are the most flaky crunchy and tasty scones ever!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fall Muesli


The leaves are changing their colors into bright red and yellow, and the grapes in the garden are sweet this year, thanks to a long and sunny summer. Morning Greek yogurt got a fall spin.....

Greek yogurt
juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon
agave nectar
Vermont muesli (@ King Arthur Flour online)
grapes

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Porcini Madness


Since the weather has been just right for mushrooms to, well, mushroom (a lot of rain and warm temperatures), I went into the woods behind my house again to see if I would find more chanterelles at the location from last time. I did not, but instead I found porcinis. And not just a few, a whole lot of them. For someone considered quite optimistic bringing this basket last time, today I basically had to give up when the basket was filled to the brim.

After sharing the bounty with some friends, dinner tonight was simple: sauteed porcini in butter and with shallots, sour cream, chopped parsley and simply a slice of rye sourdough bread. Most of them, I will dry for the winter.




Another great recipe idea for wild mushroom: Risotto with mushroom and clams.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spicy Seafood Risotto



Fall, or a prelude of Fall, came with a bang this year. From searing heat, sunshine and 90F it became cold, rainy, and gray. Not much of an Indian summer so far, but we can always hope, right? Fall weather changes my appetite, and risotto is one of my favorite fall foods. This one tries to preserve the summer heat and spirit by using hot chili peppers and Trader Joes frozen seafood mix. On the good news side of this fall, all of Maine looks forward to the opening of a long-awaited Trader Joes market in Portland, ME, by the end of October 2010. 

Ingredients:
1 small white onion, finely diced
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 TB butter
100g/3.5oz arborio rice
a few glucks of dry sherry
1 spicy chili pepper, cut into thin slices
a few strands of saffron 
500ml of shrimp bouillon (dissolve a Knorr shrimp bouillon cube in 500ml boiling water)
cup of frozen Trader Joes seafood mix (fresh shrimp, calamari, scallops)
Parmesan, freshly grated.



Dissolve the butter in a large heavy skillet. Don't brown it, just melt it. Add the onion and garlic, and saute until translucent (not browned!) and add the risotto rice to toast it in the onions, garlic and butter mix for 3-4 min on medium-low heat. Add the sherry, and simmer until the sherry has evaporated. Add a laddle (ca. 1/2 cup) of the shrimp bouillion to the risotto, stir, and let simmer on low until the liquid is evaporated. Then, add another laddle (the bouillon should be hot). Do this until the rice is soft and most of the stock has been used, ca 20-25min. Now, add the seafood, and cook for 2-3 min until shrimp are cooked, have turned pink and into the shape of a 'C' ("C" is for 'cooked', an "O" would be for "overcooked). Grate parmesan cheese into the hot risotto, and serve.




Thursday, September 9, 2010

Spicy Thai Coconut Soup


This soup is very versatile -- light, with just a few mushroom and carrots and seafood, or filling with noodles, corn, edamame. It is all in the base. Ever since I found these fabulous spicy chili peppers at the Farmers market at Peacemeal Farm, I am finding new ways to use them. They make all the difference in this soup.

Thai coconut soup base:
2 cups of water
1/2 can of light coconut milk
1 TB red curry paste
1 TB bonito-based soup base
1 large red hot chili pepper (FM), sliced in thin stripes
1 inch ginger, cut in thin strips
1 garlic clove, cut into strips
curry leaves or lemon grass

Heat the water and add all other ingredients. Bring to a boil, and add ingredients from the list below. Simmer for 10-15min. Serve with thinly cut green onions.

Other soup ingredients:
King Oyster mushroom, thinly sliced
shitake mushroom, thinly sliced
tiny corn
sweet corn
carrots, cut in thin stripes
scallops
shrimp

Optionally:
peas
noodles
edamame
green onions


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Trader Joes coming to Portland, ME


All of Maine is ecstatic! According to rumors, the Trader Joe's store on Marginal Way (former Wild Oats location) in Portland is going to open on November 1 2010. Just in time to be thankful ;-)Post Options

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Grilled Chicken Sandwich on Walnut Cranberry Bread

 

Ever since I had this packaged sandwich at a Wholefoods Market south of Boston I was hooked: a delicious sweet, tart and crunchy bread popping with dried cranberries and walnuts that could stand on its own feet for a meal, and a slice of grilled chicken breast in the middle with a dollop of mango chutney. A perfect sandwich! While I enjoyed the sandwich the wheels in my mind already started spinning: I need to make a cranberry walnut bread! The rest would be simple. 


I still had a few Bob's Red Mill low-carb bread mixes in my pantry, so this is where I started (any simple bread mix will do, just avoid sourdough or other flavors). I added plenty of cranberries and walnuts (it might be good to actually soak the cranberries ahead of time), and maple syrup for the extra flavor.


1 package Bob's Red Mill low-carb bread mix (for a 2 pound loaf)
1/2 cup King Arthur all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 TB Baker's milk powder
1 TB yeast
2 TB maple syrup
1 TB organic canola oil
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup mix of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and raisins

Pour lukewarm water into kitchenaid standmixer. Add the bread mix, the flour, the yeast and baker's milk powder. Start mixing the dry ingredients on slow speed. Add egg, and canola oil as well the cranberries, walnuts,  trail mix and the maple syrup. Use dough setting to mix the dough, first on slow and then on higher until dough forms a ball. Let the dough rest for 60min.



Knead the dough one more time, and take dough out of stand mixer, and shape dough into a loaf, and add to a floured bread basket. Let rise for 1-2 hours until dough doubled in size.



Preheat oven to 350F, and bake for 50-60min. 

P.s. if you have a large enough breadmaker you can also make it in the machine.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spicy Refrigerator Pickles


This is a simple and tasty recipe, sweet garlicky pickles, crunchy and easy to make. I tried this Cooking Light recipe last year, and loved it. This year I gave it a spin of my own: the addition of two decorative hot peppers. Likely, it will not be only decorative.... but pickles with a kick will be great on a burger or in a tuna salad sandwich.

* about 1 1/2 pounds of thinly sliced pickling cucumbers
* 1 large thinly sliced white onion
* 2 cups white vinegar (I used a mix of white winegar, sherry vinegar and TJ white balsamic vinegar)
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
* 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
* 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
* 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
* 2 long thin spicy chili peppers

Place the garlic slices on the bottom of a sterilized large pickling jar. Slice the cucumbers thinly. Cut the onion in half and also cut into thin half moons. Layer both in the pickling jar, switching between cucumbers and onions. Once the jar is half full, position the chili peppers on the side.

Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan, heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Pour over cucumber mixture; close the lid of the jar, and let cool. Chill at least 4 days in the fridge.

Note: Pickles may be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Miso Cod and Vegetables


My current favorite mix of sauteed vegetables is zucchini, cut into thin strips, diced red bell pepper or tomatoes, and thinly sliced lacinato kale, sauteed with small diced some onion, salt and pepper, and when it is all done and still has a light crunch I add red miso. A half table spoon of red miso, dissolved in a 1/3 cup of hot water, and mixed into the vegetables, and slightly cooked down for 1 min. Sometimes,  I add farro soaked over night, and 1 TB of harrisa or Trader joe's red pepper spread for serving. A wonderful earthy seasonal flavorful combination.

A few days ago I came across the famous "Miso black cod" served at Nobu. Although google search told me that black cod and regular cod have not much in common, besides both being fish, I tried the recipe with the delicious fresh cod fillet that I had bought on the farmers market the other day. And, I admit, this recipe is a winner.

Miso Cod
1 cod fillet, cut into serving size pieces

Mariande:
3 TB red miso (I guess, white miso works, too)
dissolved in 1 cup of boiling hot water 
2 TB sake
1 TB rice wine vinegar
2 TB sugar

Immediately add the sake, rice wine vinegar and sugar to the hot miso mix so that the sugar can dissolve. Mix well, and let cool down to room temperature. Pour mixture in a glass dish with a lid, place cod fillets inside, and marinate at least overnight in the fridge. The chef's version of the original recipe calls for 2-3 days of marinading. I tried it after 1 day and it was delicious.

To prepare: Heat pan with cooking spray, and saute fillets on both sides for about 2-3 min each. Serve!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Elderberries..... the other blueberries


The plants in the garden are early this year with the long summer. The wild blueberries are gone, and the elderberries are already here, hanging low from the high branches with the heavy weight of the sweet juicy berries, as if lowering themselves to be picked. In other years, they were ripe in early Fall, and, with the onset of first colds, I made juice and drank it, giving me a few more weeks of immunity. But in mid August? Smoothie time, with greek yogurt. Different, but tasty.

1 cup greek yogurt
1/3 banana
1 cup elderberries.

Blend, and serve. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Simple Zucchini Salad



Zucchini are plentiful this time of the year. They likely grow in your own garden, are available at roadside farm stands and are 3 for 1$ at the farmers market. With the long and hot summer this year, not only are they plentiful but also huge. Truly, a zucchini deluge by this time. This is a wonderful simple salad with few ingredients and very refreshing for the hot summer days.

1 large zucchini
salt, pepper to taste
white grapefruit balsamic vinegar  (or just white balsamic vinegar or lemon) (*available at Fiore, Bar Harbor)
olive oil
fresh herbs (e.g. mint, cilantro, or fresh oregano)
feta crumbles  (best also from the farmer market)

special equipment: mandolin.

Slice the zucchini really thinly using a mandolin. Arrange on a plate, and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Cover with wrap and marinate for 15 min in the fridge. To serve, sprinkle with fresh chopped herbs and feta crumbles. 




Friday, August 6, 2010

Spaghetti with local wild chanterelles


A few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure to be invited over for home-made chanterelle ravioli at my friends' house.Yesterday, armed with a large basket (slightly overoptimistic) and with one half of the mushroom expert couple, I explored the woods in the back of my house. S., with her well-trained eye for even tiny chanterelles, immediately spotted some. Lucky me, they ended up being dinner for me tonight.

Spaghetti with fresh Chanterelles (makes 1 serving):
1/4 white onion, finely chopped
1/2 TB butter or ghee
cup of fresh chanterelle mushroom, cleaned with a wet towel, and slightly chopped
salt, pepper to taste
1 TB creme fraiche
1 TB freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
to serve: parmesan 

2 oz spaghetti, cooked al dente based on instructions.

Cook pasta first. In a skillet, heat the butter or ghee, and on low-medium heat sautee the onions until they are translucent. Add the chanterelles, and cook on medium heat gently for 3-5 min. Add salt and pepper to taste, and the creme fraiche. The creme fraiche should melt into the wild mushroom and intensify their flavor. Once the spaghetti are cooked, at 3-4 TB of the pasta water to the sauteed chanterelles mix, and also add the drained pasta. Stir gently, mix, add in parsley and serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.







Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Balsamic Roasted Beets



It is the time of the year again: beets are abundant at the farmers market, and Mark sells them in huge bags for $5 a bag. After hauling one home today, I made my favorite recipe, beets roasted/steamed in a mix of vegetable broth and balsamic vinegar. The beets are tender with a wonderful balsamic flavor. To serve? With pine nuts and goat cheese.

preheat oven to 375F.
4-5 beets, cut off ends, and cut in thick slices
arrange in a baking dish until the dish is full
mix 1 cup of vegetable broth or beef broth and 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
add a few cloves, a bay leaf, and fresh ground pepper
cover with foil, and bake for 45 min (turn off oven at 35min).



Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Golden Beet Salad at Rupununi


 
It was one of those hot summer day, temperatures in the upper 80s, bright blue sky, bright sun and a light ocean breeze (likely). I drove to Acadia National Park to get a dose of vacation in 'vacationland', still being back home in the afternoon to get some work done. It was the first time I went there since the Obamas had visited. I wondered if it was the newly added national PR or simply the height of summer tourist season that the parked cars at the start of the hikes had tripled and that at Jordan Pond House the cars parked a 1/2 mile down the carriage road. Okay...

The walk around Jordan pond was relaxed and picturesque. I was not up for climbing heights due to the heat, but the light breeze and the shady trees made for a great, relaxed, breezy, even leveled hike. 



Back at Jordan Pond House, I was redirected from the lawn to the receptionist to the information desk to be handed a beeper and a "1h waiting time". After 15 min waiting, I decided that despite of visions of popovers and lobster salad I did not have the patience to wait, and handed the beeper to another guest in line at the information desk. I headed out of the crowds towards a relatively empty Bar Harbor, and my other favorite restaurant, Rupununi, had no line and plenty of tables. "Life as it should be". The golden beet salad with goat cheese, greens and pine nuts was delicious, as usual.



The crowds felt a bit un-Maine-ish today.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It's the time of the year again...



The height of summer is announced by fields and barrens of ripe wild blueberries. Around mid-July, the first pints of local blueberries pop up at the farmers market, and it is around that time that I schedule my annual 'blueberry field trip'. In the region around (appropriately called) Blue Hill, many wild blueberry barrens are tended by local farmers, and the blueberry fields stretch endlessly into the horizon. Last year, 88 million pounds of wild blueberries were harvested in Maine, and around 600,000 pounds were sold fresh. Maine is actually the largest producer of wild blueberries in the world. 

Naturally, there are also many patches with truly wild blueberries, which you can pick yourself, including a back ache from bending over for hours, and tinted fingers and mouth, but being shielded from investigating farmers for illegal picking. Anyway, I get my blueberries from the farmers market after a few of those bent back adventures, but I am still mesmerized by the blueberries fields. They remind me of the Beatles song "Strawberry fields forever". Just blueberry fields forever, in my case. There is a true beauty to those endless fields of barely 10 inch high plants, which turn a deep reddish purple in the fall, the tiny green leaves, and the clusters of sweet blueberries,..... a sea of blueberries. 



Monday, July 19, 2010

Haddock en Escabeche



When I saw Rick Bayless the first time on the newly launched Cooking Channel a few weeks ago, I was hooked: this man knows Mexican cuisine. He does not only have his James Beard award and a Top Chef win to prove it, but his talking about Mexican cuisine speaks for itself. Since his shows are on PBS (appropriately), but not available on satellite, I ordered a few of his DVDs from his website.  Today, I watched one of the DVDs, and lunch was decided: haddock en escabeche.

Serves 2
2 TB olive oil
1 medium white onion, sliced in full rounds, 1/8-inch thick
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly sliced into long thin sticks
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup of water
1 large sprig fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried), plus a few sprigs for garnish
1 sprig fresh marjoram (or 1/2 teaspoon dried), plus a few sprigs for garnish
A 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly and coarsely ground
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
a few black and green olives
2-3 pickled jalapeƱo chiles, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
Salt, about 1 teaspoon
2 haddock fillets

1. Making the escabeche. Heat the oil in a large (12-inch), deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and carrots on not too high heat; stir often, until onions are crisp-tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, water, thyme, marjoram, cinnamon stick, pepper, bay and cloves. Cover, and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat, add the jalapeƱos, and season with salt, usually about 1/4 teaspoon.It should still be brothy.
2. Season the haddock fillet with salt and pepper. Wipe out the skillet, add a 1/2 tablespoon of the oil and set over medium heat. When hot, fry the haddock. Cook, turning once, until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer the haddock to a baking dish and pour the escabeche over the fish. Let cool to room temperature, and serve.
3. Serving. Remove the bay leaves, cloves and cinnamon. Garnish with sprigs of thyme and marjoram. Enjoy!


Friday, July 16, 2010

So, they are here



The First Family is spending weekend getaway on Mount Desert Island this weekend. We Mainers feel honored, and admire their good taste. Mount Desert Island is one of the most beautiful island in the US to go hiking with phenomenal ocean views, biking on sandy and shady carriage roads,  kajak along the sounds, sail to nearby islands like the Cranberry Islands from Southwest Harbor, swim in Echo Lake, and, of course, eat lobster or steamers at a roadside lobster shack (or something more fancy). The weather could not be better this weekend.

It seems reasonable to avoid MDI for the next few days, or factor in to be stopped to let the motorcade pass by, or see your favorite hike being closed for the Obamas. But then, there are plenty of other hikes, and typically even in the height of the tourist season Acadia provides a relaxing degree of privacy and calm.


So, what will they do? Take in the views from the mountains.....




Enjoy a lunch at Jordan Pond house, and eat the famous popovers with strawberry jam...



Enjoy the view of Bar Harbor's harbor at sunset from their hotel.... (the blueberry pie at the Bar Harbor Regency is definitely worth trying!)



Sail in Southwest Harbor...



And maybe, eat a steamed Maine lobster.



Well, at least this is what I would do this weekend. But then, there is always next weekend.



Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lobster Ravioli



As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I received a coupon for a Buitoni Frozen Meal for 2 a while back. There are several seductive options to choose from, but, of course, my first choice had to be: Maine Lobster Ravioli! Unfortunately, I could not find this particular product in my local Target store, and so I settled for Lobster and Shrimp (close enough!). The entire package, found in the frozen food section, is a meal for 2 people (but about 4 full meals for me!). The ravioli are large and filled with a tasty mix of lobster, shrimp and a creamy sauce. I was delighted when I tasted large pieces of succulent lobster meat in the ravioli, just how it should be. Definitely a treat worth for a special meal!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Finds from the Farmers Market



It was finally cooling down, and rain was predicted for the day. Looking at the weather map, it was clear the best time to go to the farmers market would be before 9am. Obviously, everyone else thought so, too, and I've never seen so many people at the FM. Despite telling myself "only the essentials!" I spent a fortune as usual, but the finds were wonderful: an almost 1 pound blue fin tuna steak from the Stonington fish truck, free range eggs from Maine-ly Poultry, mixed lettuce with some yellow flower petals and fresh summer squash from Peacemeal farm and my favorite goat cheese from Olde Oak Farm. Good eats!