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October, and boy do we have cabbage! Making Kimchi.

It’s the end of the growing season here in Maine. Along with the fields of pumpkins, there are fields of cabbages still awaiting harvest, often just made sweeter by a bit of frost. I’ve seen conical ones, the heavy “keeper” style, Napa and Chinese cabbages and their cute cousin, Bok Choy.

Waldoboro is Sauerkraut Country. Ask anyone who’s a fan of Morse’s Sauerkraut out on Rt. 220. Theirs is a 100 year old tradition of making Kraut the old fashioned way. But when someone gifts you an armload of Napa Cabbage it’s either endless stir fries or, cabbage preserved as….Kimchi, that fermented food of Korean fame, stinky, zesty and a powerhouse of probiotic goodness.

So, I found a couple of large vessels, glass is best, and gathered garlic, ginger,fish sauce, Korean red pepper flakes, which can be found in a health food market, sugar, salt and everything nice…and smelly.

Began to salt down the cabbages after quartering them. Once the salt softens the cabbages, you rinse off the salt, and spread the spice paste between the leaves, then cram it all artfully into the jars and let them stand at room temperature for a few days to ferment. There. You’ve made food, pickles and medicine…all at once. Congratulations, you now have a superfood, low in fat but high in vitamins A, B and C.

Here’s a simple recipe:

Trim and quarter your Napa or Chinese cabbages, I am using three large cabbages for this recipe. Thinly slice green onion, radish, turnip and or carrot. Add all to a large bowl and salt it taking care to get between the leaves. Let this stand two hours until limp, then rinse well to remove the salt and leave it to drain.

Using a food processor, make a paste of 2 TB sugar, a 1/2 cup of fish sauce (can be omitted for a Vegan take on this forgiving recipe), 1- 1/2 cups Korean chili flakes, 1 head of fresh garlic,  1 large fresh ginger root (peeled), and a small Turmeric root.

Slather each leaf with this spicy paste. Wearing gloves is a good idea. Roll each quartered, slathered cabbage up tightly and pack into glass jars. Plastic is ok in a pinch.

Leave your jars out at room temperature for a day or two to ferment, I like to invert the jars in the sink occasionally to distribute all the juices which will present during the fermentation process. I noticed that plastic jars do need to be opened and off gassed occasionally while they’re ferment.

There you have it! Pretty easy. In Korea, Kimchi is eaten as a digestive aid at every meal and is attributed to weight loss due to it’s umami filled, satisfying nature.

Weight loss, satisfaction and a boosted immune system? Anything is worth a try in these pandemic times!

Up Your Cheeseboard Game with Pickled Pears

Raw Green Organic Seckel Pears I am lucky for many reasons. Adding to my bountiful homestead is a prolific ancient Seckel pear tree in my backyard. This was a windfall year. So the question of how to preserve them was easy…pickled pears.
 
Nothing offsets a rich roast, creamy or Blue cheeses like the sweet/acid bite of a pickled pear. Pleasing in form and so pretty for presentation, this addition to your cheese or charcuterie board with have you entertaining like a pro! Start now and offer them as a holiday gift, perfect for this moment of curated shopping.
 
 Makes 2 pints and this recipe easily doubles, have your pint jars hot and sterile, ready to go:

INGREDIENTS
2 pounds Seckel pears, peeled, halved and seeded
1 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
12 cinnamon sticks, several cloves and a few Star Anise
 
PREPARATION
 
Combine vinegar, sugar and salt with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil. In a stainless kettle or pan.
 
Pack the prepared pears into your clean jars and divide the spices equally.
 
Pour hot brine over the pears, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Tapping the jars releases any trapped air bubbles.
 
Cap tightly and you can choose to can them traditionally in a hot water bath, or let cool and store in the refrigerator.
 
Best when left to sit for a month in order to fully develop flavors.

The green herb sauces of late summer / Morroco’s Charmoula


Summer is just about at it’s peak. There’s way too many zucchini and tomatoes. But, I’ve got a plan for your culinary herbs. Here’s what to do with that bounty of green herbs, like cilantro, chives, scapes or parsley…make a vibrant green sauce! 

Almost every culture has one! From a global perspective, think about pesto, which most everyone knows…(Italy), green curry (India), chimichurri ( Argentina), zhoug (Yemen), or Mexico’s salsa verde.

One of my all time faves is Charmoula from Morocco. If you have lots of parsley and cilantro, love the flavors of lemon garlic, chile and cumin this North African sauce is for you.  Great on grilled shrimp, grilled chops, or to bump up a vegetarian dish, try it…it doesn’t disappoint. It’s one of those great recipes that you can make ahead and it just improves, keeps for days, and freezes well.

The recipe is as follows:

Charmoula (Makes a pint, easy to double and freeze half)

1 cup stemmed, packed flat parsley

1 cup packed cilantro

2 scallions, trimmed and chopped

2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

1/4 tsp. roasted cumin seed

1 tsp. salt, fresh pepper to taste

A pinch of red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper

1 tsp. of fresh lemon zest

3/4 to 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

 2 tsp. red wine vinegar, of use the juice of the grated lemon

Combine all in a Cuisinart and pulse to consistency, correct seasonings, and add more oil or vinegar as you see fit. It should be a stunning bright green, and loose enough to drop from a spoon.

Absolutely divine on grilled meats, fish or shrimp….even tofu! 

Enjoy the flavors of summer while we can still get out and grill!

Beantime! What to do with your bounty of summer beans


Yellow wax beans, broad and meaty Romano beans, Haricot Verte, Rattlesnake or Kentucky Wonder Pole beans…..we love them all here at Laura Cabot Catering…..and we grow them all! 

We also grow summer and winter savory, which, if you’re not familiar with this herb, please get to know it. Savory is the perfect compliment to beans of all sorts.

We love the hearty pole bans cooked Southern style with “sidemeat” and onion.

When I tire of eating string beans simply cooked with savory and doused with good olive oil and salt, I often turn to the picnic-y side dish called three bean salad.

Here’s my favorite recipe:

Prep time: 15 minutes, serves eight or more…

2 cups fresh, blanched green beans, cut into  2 inch pieces

2 cups wax beans, blanched and cut into 2 inch pieces

1- 15 oz can of dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1-15 oz can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 c. Red onion, diced small

1 tb chopped, stemmed flat parsley

Place all these ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

Now combine:

2/3 cup cider vinegar

1/4 c. Sugar

1/2 c. Olive oil

Salt, pepper and summer savory to taste

Combine all and pour over mixed beans, tossing gently.

This salad will benefit by a couple of hours in the fridge, before sharing with your friends. 

What a great addition to a chicken barbecue!

Callaloo / An Island Delicacy Comes To Maine


What I know about Beth’s Farm Market is that they employ many Jamaican farm workers. Having spent ample time in Jamaica, I know that it’s a culture that eats well and their diet is very vegetable forward.

I was delighted to learn that the good people at Beth’s have begun to grow this delicious leafy green, a member of the Amaranth family. I look for it every July. The entire plant is good to eat, although the larger stems may need to be peeled and chopped smaller than the leaves. A high fiber vegetable, Callaloo helps to prevent obesity,control blood sugar and lower the risk of heart disease. Being high in vitamin C is another bonus and the reason it should be cooked lightly, until a jewel-like green.

Below is my favorite treatment for this nourishing vegetable, taught to me by an Ital chef, Dice:

Serves four, as a side dish. Prep time 30 minutes.

One large bunch callaloo, the larger stems peeled and chopped fine, leave chopped larger

Coconut oil

Fresh thyme springs

One peeled chopped carrot and 1 chopped white onion

Four chopped Roma tomato, half a Scotch bonnet pepper

1 TB chopped garlic. Salt and peter to taste

Begin by heating 3 TB oil in a heavy bottom pot, add the onion,carrot, garlic, thyme,tomato, S and P. Cook until the carrot is tender.

Add the Callaloo stems first, salt lightly and toss to coat, when half cooked add the leaves and toss again, cover the pot, stir once or twice as it finishes cooking.

Take the dish off the flame while the colors are still vibrant, remove hot pepper and serve immediately.

Using July’s Garlic Scapes / Green Goddess Dressing

If you’re a garlic lover, it’s nice to know how to use the super pungent shoot, or scape of the garlic. Typically they’re cut off before they form a flower, so as not to allow the garlic’s energy to move upward…but to focus the plants energy down to the head or bulb that’s trying to form.

Scapes are often made into pesto or a compound butter, but my favorite use for garlic scapes is a tasty Green Goddess dressing. Her’s my favorite recipe, terrific on the garden salad greens so prevalent right now in gardens everywhere:

3/4 cup either mayo or full fat Greek yoghurt

1 cup flat, leaf parsley, leaves only

1/2 cup fresh tarragon leaves only

4 garlic scapes, tender parts only, rough chop

1/2 avocado, peeled and pitted

1 tbsp. White wine vinegar

Juice of one lemon

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine all and mix by hand until desired consistency

Toss with your favorite lineup of summer salad greens….Bibb lettuce for me!

Enjoy!

Minted Pea Soup – A June recipe

I love this recipe for the present moment, because I have so many of these ingredients coming along in my garden in mid-June….chives, mint, peas…..sounds just as refreshing as it tastes. Give this easy recipe a try….it’s good enough for company!

Ingredients

3 tb. salted farm butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 qt. vegetable broth
6 cups fresh or frozen, thawed green peas
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves stemmed
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, stemmed
1/4 cup creme fraiche or a non dairy substitute.
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives for garnish

Preparation

Melt butter in a heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring until translucent, about 8 minutes.

Add half the broth and bring to a boil. Add the peas and simmer until just cooked through, if fresh just about 4 minutes.

Remove from heat and add herbs, seasonings and add remaining broth to pot.

Puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender, correcting the seasonings and amount of liquid until you get to a perfectly smooth consistency.

This soup may be served warm or cool and topped with creme fraiche and chives or left dairy free and Vegan.

Meyer Lemon Lobster Salad with Spring Greens

This recipe feeds four.

2 pounds of picked whole lobster body meat, tail, knuckle and claw

Homemade mayo …or Hellman’s with a touch of grated Meyer lemon zest mixed into the mayonnaise

Salt and pepper to taste

Two Meyer lemons, which are less tart than the usual lemon…still in the market in late spring

The freshest spicy blend of farmers market greens you can find, 1/2 pound

Cut the lobster meat into manageable chunks.

Dress very lightly with the lemony mayo and season to taste. Add a squeeze of Meyer lemon juice and mix lightly.

Arrange your seasonal greens on an attractive plates and add 1/2 pound dollop of lobster salad on top. Garnish with a Meyer lemon wedge.

A dusting of paprika and a wedge of baguette is all that’s needed, and maybe a glass of Rose. Couldn’t be easier or more luxurious….and that’s what summer entertaining is all about. Luxuriate.

Easy Five Ingredient Mayonnaise

Ingredients:
1 large egg, room temperature
1-1/4 c light olive or avocado oil
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt and a grind of white pepper
2 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice, in this case use Meyer lemon

1) Put 1/4 cup oil in food processor or blender, add egg, mustard and salt

2) Process for about 30 seconds, until light yellow in color

3) With blender on low, slowly add remaining oil very slowly until the mixture is emulsified and thickened

4) Finally add the lemon juice until incorporated

Your homemade mayo is good for a week under refrigeration. This is a great way to layer the Meyer lemon flavor into this recipe.

Claytonia, a little something about summer farm stand greens:

My favorite grower often adds claytonia, sometimes called miner’s lettuce in the west, into her mix. It’s said that this humble little green saved the early gold miners from scurvy back in the Gold Rush days. It’s one of my favorite addiotns because of it’s great look, with a flower in the middle (See lobster salad image) and for the fact that it’s loaded with vitamin C.

Soft, buttery and with unmistakable good looks, look for claytonia in your mid season farmer’s market.

Roasted Pheasant

I am new to the world of Hank Shaw and his James Beard award- winning blog, “Hunter Angler Gardener Cook”. But I’m resonating like a long lost lover with his take on simple roast pheasant. My recipe differed only in that I started the bird at a low temperature after a robust seasoning with good salt and freshly ground pepper. I trussed and oiled my 3-4 pound bird, tented it with foil over the breast and let it go, low and slow for 2 hours without opening the oven.
 
I then removed the bird’s foil tent, jacked up the oven to 450 degrees and oiled the bird once again. Into a hot oven it went for another 20 minutes. I was mindful of Hank’s warning not to dry it out, so pulled it just as soon as the skin crisped.
 
It important to let almost anything rest, to keep the meat juicy, so I cover my little bird up with parchment for 20 minutes while I prepared a pan gravy, enriched with a bit of red current jelly. Hank’s suggestion of a root vegetable melange seemed perfect for winter, but I used up my green beans instead. View Hank’s recipe here.

Spring Chive Goddess Dressing

chivesIt won’t be long now before we have lovely fresh chives in abundance, and baby lettuces too! Here’s the perfect dressing for these tender young treats.

3/4 cup full fat sour cream
3/4 cup olive oil mayo
2 large cloves, minced fresh garlic
1 cup minced fresh chives
1 tsp. fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp. of lemon zest
1TB. fresh lemon juice
2 anchovy filets, white or regular

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all but the chives in a blender until creamy. Transfer to a bowl. Add the chives by hand and fold in. Season to your taste, cover and refrigerate for an hour or so before serving.

You can use this as a dip or spread. Thin with a little cream to make a steelllar salad dressing. Top you salad with chive blossoms for the best effect.