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Rabbit, Rabbit / A French Recipe

It’s tradition to say Rabbit, Rabbit at the beginning of each month. I am not sure why.

But, truly in the springtime, a rabbit fricassee over wide noodles with a touch of woodland or garden herbs and grainy mustard transports me to in Paris in April.

Rabbit hasn’t caught on in popularity in America like in France. It tasted mild, much the same as poultry. Honestly, cutting up a rabbit is not harder than cutting up a chicken, once you get over the fact that it’s a rabbit. The technique is much the same: dredging in seasoned flour, a little sautéed shallot, turn once when brown, remove meat and deglaze with white wine, mustard and heavy cream or creme fraiche. Add in fresh chopped thyme, ramps or rosemary at the end to keep it bright.

Served over wide noodles with a big salad, one couldn’t ask for more on a blustery early spring day….for lunch, at a bistro in Paris!

Here is a recipe we prepared when I was a student at La Varenne, in Burgundy,France:

Lapin a la Moutarde

1 small, dressed rabbit, cut into 8 pieces.

Flour, salt and pepper…a little paprika for color

1/2 cup avocado oil

Combine the flour and seasonings, Dredge the rabbit in the flour and set aside. Heat the oil on a medium heat.

1 cup, chopped shallot

2 cups dry white wine, 2 cups rich chicken broth

1 TB whole grain mustard, 2 fresh thyme springs and fresh rosemary or chopped ramps or chives, added last..

1 pound of wide egg noodles, cooked al dente. Keep warm.

Fry the rabbit in medium hot oil, turning once until just cooked through, salt lightly, and set to drain on paper towels.

Pour off most of the oil, and sauté the shallot in the same pan, deglaze with wine and broth, check seasonings. Add the mustard and creme fraiche or heavy cream, and place rabbit back into the pan, cook covered over a low heat for 45 minutes to an hour. Stir occasionally and add more broth if it seems to need it.

When it’s time to serve, choose an impressive platter (make it warm). Add the noodles and top with the rabbit pieces. Taste the gravy and add more creme fraiche and the herbs… give it a stir and pour over the rabbit and noodles. I add even more spring chives and their deconstructed blossoms to the top, to garnish.

Choose a crisp, white Burgundy and enjoy a hearty lunch with friends. Is that the Eiffel Tower I see?

There’s no time BUT the present, so enjoy!!

Bilberry Pie

Bilberries are not typical in Maine, although Finnish people are. The common wisdom, and it works nicely, is to substitute Maine wild blueberries for the Bilberries. Equally wholesome and delicious.

BILBERRY OR WILD MAINE BLUEBERRY PIE | Serves 6

CRUST
Here we welcome you to use your own crust recipe, as people have preferences in this regard. Make enough for a two crust pie. Roll them out and have ready in the fridge.

FILLING

 5 cups Bilberries or Wild Blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. lemon zest and juice of one small lemon
3 tb quick cooking tapioca
1 tb vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°

Combine all and let rest, covered for an hour. This gives the tapioca time to swell and effectively thicken the juices.

Pile all filling and juice into your rolled out crust in a deep pie plate. Top with the second crust and crimp the edges high, as it’s a generous filling.

Bake at 350 degrees on a half sheet pan to catch any spills for around one hour, or until bubbly and browned.

This pie needs an hour to set up and slice nicely. Serve with good vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

This wild berry pie is worth the wait!

Chinese-style Duck Egg Rolls

The flavor profile in these is reminiscent of some of my favorite foods from China, although I am told by a close friend who lived for a time in China, Dr. Jane Liedtke,  the Egg Roll is as American as it gets. More traditionally, Peking duck is wrapped in a “bing”, or wrapper with Hoisin sauce, scallion, etc. for a delicious part of the duck dinner. These egg rolls stand in for us home cooks in America.

Supposedly, making the wrappers is as easy as making pasta. Also, you can purchase perfectly good ones to produce these. The filling is open to inspiration, I like a bit of star anise in mine.

 

FILLING INGREDIENTS  |  Makes a dozen

Shredded cabbage and carrot, to equal 2 cups

Mung bean sprouts, minced celery and green onion to equal 2 cups

2 cups cooked, shredded duck meat, chopped fine

1 large beaten egg, cooked and chopped

Season with a bit of garlic, star anise, salt , pepper, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil & Asian chili sauce to taste. 

Dust with cornstarch, 1 tb or a bit more if it seems wet . Mix all together and let rest.

 

BUILD THE ROLLS

Make a slurry of cornstarch and water for sealing the sides of rolls

Each egg roll gets 3 tb of meat, egg and vegetable mixture.

Roll tightly, sealing the sides with the cornstarch mixture. Set aside.

 

PREPARE TO FRY EGG ROLLS

You will need a heavy fry pan, with high sides …or a wok. You will also need some sesame or avocado oil, your egg roll wrappers and plenty of paper towels.

We’re shallow frying these, so we don’t need really deep oil, just about 3 inches in the pan.

Preheat oil and add a few rolls at a time, do not crowd. Flip once to get a golden brown all over.

Drain and sprinkle with flaky salt.

 

We enjoy these right out of the oil with a Hoisin or Duck Sauce and very hot mustard!

 

Chilean Black Hake with Pebre Sauce

I travelled in Chile in the winter, which is like Springtime there at the bottom of the world. Imagine fields full of lupine at Christmas!
 
Well, another harbinger of very early spring is the Black Hake that is well known and loved there. My experience of this delicious flaky white fish was at a street vendor.

I’d like to share a recipe similar to the one I tried and loved:

Pan Seared Black Hake with Pebre Sauce  /  Yield: 2 hearty servings

1 lb. hake filet
Salt & pepper to taste, avocado oil to fry in
Season with salt and fresh pepper, set aside.

Beforehand, prepare the pebre sauce (a chilean salsa), using a blender:
3 roma tomato
a bunch of stemmed, chopped cilantro
6 green onions
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup red wine vinegar, equal part olive oil
salt, pepper and hot red pepper flakes

Using a food processor, pulse all ingredients and season to taste.
Set aside in the refrigerator, covered, until use.
Meanwhile, get a heavy iron skillet hot and heat the oil.
Gently, add the seasoned fish to the hot oil and fry it uncovered, turning once.
Top with the freshly made pebre sauce and serve with fried potatoes and a green salad. 

Give thanks for wild things everywhere.

 

 

Cavatelli with Sweet Italian Sausage, Broccoli Rabe, Blistered Cherry Tomato …and lots of Garlic

Recipe yields six servings

INGREDIENTS
 2 lbs broccoli rabe, washed and tough stems removed, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 cups red cherry tomato, halved
1 pkg. sweet Italian sausage, sliced medium thick
1 lb cavatelli pasta
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
12 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
Salt, pepper ground, to taste
1/2 cup good shaved or grated Parmesan

INSTRUCTIONS
Toss the tomatoes with oil and a bit of salt. On a sheet pan, in a hot oven, blister the tomatoes.  Reserve the tomatoes, retaining as much pan juice as possible.

In a saute pan, cook the sausage over medium heat until well browned. Remove from pan, but save the pan drippings.

In a large covered saucepan of boiling salted water, blanch the rabe and garlic. Lift it from the water with a strainer and drain, but save that water for the pasta.

Combine tomato, garlic, rabe and sausage with salt and pepper and a little more of the olive oil, keep warm but not hot (to retain colors)

Bring the pot of vegetable water, covered, back to a boil. Add a teaspoon more salt and the pasta.

Cook pasta until al dente, drain (I always save a 1/4 cup for the sauce and the remainder for soup stock.)

While the pasta is cooking, use your 1/4 cup of pasta water to deglaze the sausage pan and add that flavor layer and any tomato drippings to your cooked ingredients.

Finally add the hot, drained pasta and the rest of the cooked, seasoned ingredients to a large bowl. Toss well and top with the Parmesan cheese.

This dish is good warm but don’t over do it. The beauty is the bright green rabe and bright tomato, equally good at room temperature or the following day.

Bon Appetit!

Chef Laura Cabot

Ultimate Super Bowl Dip for Chips / FAGE Carmelized Onion Dip

When we hunker down to watch the big game, the snacks and commercials are as important as the players. At least for me, with my marginal understanding of the game.

Honestly, for me, it’s about being with friends, sharing some laughs and excitement and getting great snack food. One of the classics…always will be…a great onion dip.

There’s nothing hard or time consuming about this recipe and it’s a bit healthier because it uses high protein FAGE Greek yogurt rather than sour cream. Another flavor layer is that I like to caramelize and cool the onions before adding the other ingredients.

Make sure you select some chi chi artisanal potato chips, the hefty kind, to pair with this dip. It deserves the best! Double this recipe for a socially distanced crowd.

ONION DIP

2 cups FAGE sour cream
1 medium white onion, minced and carmelized in butter or olive oil, then cooled
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tb. green chives, minced
1 tsp. each salt, pepper, garlic powder.

Combine all, then let rest, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.

Enjoy the finest in dippin’ and the good feels of high protein!

Frank’s Lucky Pork and Beans

Cultures all over the world seem to favor some combination of pork and beans to bring luck and prosperity in the New Year. I usually make “Hopping’ John” from the American South, with ham or pork scraps and black eyed peas. 
 
In this Pandemic year, rather than a grocery run, I created a winner out of pantry items, garden remnants and some frozen pork loin chops. So this isn’t exactly a recipe, but rather an example of how to think on your feet. Necessity can truly be the “Mother of Invention.” So I’ll dedicate this non-recipe to one of my favorite modern composers, Frank Zappa,, clearly demonstrating how to think outside of the shake and bake box.
 

FRANK’S PORK AND BEANS FOR THE NEW YEAR, serves four
 
INGREDIENTS
 
4 pork loin chops, fat on
Spicy smoked paprika and flour dredge, salt and pepper
1 beaten egg, small crumble of dry sage 
2 cans cannellini beans, save the liquid
1 medium chopped onion
1/2 cup chicken stock
butter and avocado oil  
A bunch of trimmed, rinsed and chiffonade cut collard greens, I foraged mine, thrice frozen, from my garden….and they were delicious.
 
Pound out the pork chops but not too thin, coat with beaten egg, then dredge in flour mixture. Heat up a cast iron pan of size, add avocado oil, then when oil is hot, sauté chops over medium heat, turning once. Cooking slowly keeps pork tender. Remove from pan, set aside.
 
Add 3 tb butter to the saute pan, when hot, add the chopped onion and coat the onion season with salt and saute until translucent. Add the beans and their liquid, incorporating all the bottom bits from the pan. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock and stir. Place the chops back in with the beans, turn down to a low simmer and cook covered for 30 minutes.
 
While the pork and bean flavors are “marrying,” steam up those greens in a small amount of salted water with a tight lid, drain and save the “pot liquor” for a soup. Toss the bright green greens with virgin olive oil and a finishing salt….or you can add them into your one pot meal for a more long cooked, traditional appearance. 
 
Either way you get a beautiful and economical dish…which automatically makes you feel lucky!
 
Remove mask to eat for best results.  
 
Hoping for safety, health, humor and sanity as we navigate into 2021.

A Christmas Eve Tradition from Sweden

Tradition comes to the forefront for many families at Christmas time. A learned, or borrowed tradition I hold dear is the Swedish Christmas Eve meal that we’ve made our own: Swedish Meatballs in a home made, nutmeg scented beefy béchamel sauce. Ladled over rich, mashed potato with a side of Lingonberry sauce and enjoyed around a Christmas tree or fireplace, this rates right up there with a hearthside fondue dinner for me! So much better than Ikea! I’m told that the Swedes prefer their meatballs unsauced. More calorie friendly, but where’s the fun in that?


SWEDISH MEATBALLS, SERVES 8

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, I prefer fresh crumbled white bread
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup cream
1 large egg
1/2 tsp salt and fresh black and white pepper to taste, a grating of nutmeg
1/2 of a large white onion, diced small
1-1/2 pounds of good, ground beef, local if possible
1//4 cup finely chopped parsley, no stems
A mixture of butter and avocado oil to fry, save your pan drippings

GRAVY
1/3 cup of butter
1/4 cup of flour
2 cup beef stock
1 cup heavy cream
A dash of soy sauce, Dijon mustard and season to taste

METHOD
In a large bowl, mix all meatball ingredients, combining well.
Roll the meat into 24 or so uniform balls.
Heat the butter and oil over medium high heat, searing well. Remove to a warm plate and cover.
Add more butter to the drippings in the pan and whisk in the flour until it is browned, then add stock, mustard, cream and seasonings to make a rich Bechemel, simmer for ten minutes.
Add the meatballs and let the flavors marry over a low flame, while you’re mashing your potatoes and getting out the lignonberries.

I like to top mine with a dusting of fresh parsley. Bon Appetit!

Perfect Potato Latkes in time for Hannaukkah

Holidays were always fun in our household. They brought out the best cooking and baking from our two diverse Grandmothers-one a Bible beating Methodist and the other, Jewish from the old country. They both brought their “A” game in December with their own versions of holiday specialties. 

Growing up, we  loved everything about Christmas, but lined up for Grandmom Marad’s Potato Latkes, perfectly seasoned and crunchy, hot out of the oil. She preferred to really squeeze the liquid out of the shredded onion and potato (saving the liquid, naturally). This makes for unsurpassed crunch in the finished product. She also used matzo meal rather than bread crumbs. The other thing to know is that Russet potatoes are the best to use, being the starchiest. The oil should also on medium high heat and it’s always best to do an exploratory with one cake until you know the temperature is right, because fairly hot oil is key. Lastly, the won’t hold successfully in a 200 degree oven longer than 20 minutes or so. In our family, they didn’t stand a chance!

Hanukkah is December 10th this year. Let’s pray for light and love the world over! Share some joy around the dinner table with these delicious latkes, and think about giving this year to a family less fortunate.

Fanny’s Potato Latkes, serves four

INGREDIENTS
2 1/2 lb. Russet potato, hand shredded
1 lg white onion, shredded
3/4 cup matzo meal
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tb potato starch (or a little more meal)
Salt and pepper to taste, Maldon salt to finish
Sunflower or Avocado oil to fry, add in 1/4 c schmaltz for flavor, or goose fat, if you have it.

INSTRUCTIONS
Set up a wire rack near your frying station, with paper toweling.

Combine the shredded onion and potato in cheesecloth and squeeze as much liquid out as possible, save for soup.

In a bowl, combine the beaten eggs, potato, starch seasonings and matzo meal, mixing well. Let this rest ten minutes. Then form carefully into tight little cakes, using 3 tb per latke.

Heat your oil at a medium high temp and deploy your test “cake.” You don’t want smoking oil, nor can it be too slow. You’ll know by the “sound of applause,” as I call it. Don’t crowd the pan, fry perhaps four latkes at a time and drain immediately.

Sprinkle with a good, crunchy finishing salt like Maldon. Traditional garnishes are applesauce, sour cream, chives and smoked salmon.

Enjoy the Holidays and your families, stay safe and God Bless!

One-Pie, A Waldoboro Thanksgiving Story

One -Pie squash or pumpkin puree was always my choice for pumpkin pie filling….long before I moved to Maine and subsequently to the town where it was actually canned. This was at at the Medomak Canning Company in Winslow’s Mills area of Waldoboro.

There was always something about the vintage inspired label, unchanged for decades, that attracted me. Seems nothing could surpass One-Pie for the satiny custard I craved. It’s New England’s unofficial brand, where taste meets tradition. It’s the can we reach for when the spice scented holidays arrive, just like our mothers and grandmothers did.

Doing a bit of research, I’ve found that the Medomak Canning Company was an offshoot of a Rockland canning company called the John Bird Company. It was he who build the Waldoboro canning  facility that so many of us remember. Understanding the power of imagery and label recognition, it was also Mr. Bird who gave us that unforgettable label!

When I first moved to the coast of Maine in the 80’s, the canning factory was still intact, although  closed for years. I was in the restaurant business then, and when the factory did finally get pieced out, a customer gifted me their iconic sign, which I still treasure. It hangs in my home kitchen to this day.

I’ve always been a loyal customer but realized that I didn’t know much about the brand. I did find, with a wave of relief, that it is still distributed in West Paris, Maine, although it’s now canned in the state of Illinois. Gone are the glory days of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s when One-Pie was one of hundreds of canning companies that processed the surplus of Maine farmers and fishermen. I recall one of my friends, Jane, a Morse of Waldoboro’s Sauerkraut farming fame, reminiscing about her childhood. She recalls picking pumpkins in her Grandmother Ethelyn’s field. These were earmarked for the One-Pie factory, which is where many farmers’ surplus crops landed. Local canning factories also processed beans, corn, peas, sardines and pumpkins or squash.

I for one, feel fortunate to have some of these One-Pie memories….and to live in Maine where it’s still on the shelf, like it always has been. I hear that one can on Amazon costs $10!

NEW ENGLAND PUMPKIN PIE

1 can ONE-PIE Pumpkin

1 tbsp Cornstarch

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Ginger

1/2 tsp Nutmeg, freshly ground

1/2 tsp Salt (scant)

1-1/2 tbsp Butter (melted)

1-1/2 cups Milk or one 12 oz can of Evaporated Milk

1 cup Sugar

1/8 cup Molasses

2 Eggs (beaten)

– Lemon Juice

Sift sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg together. Mix this with contents of one can ONE-PIE pumpkin. Add eggs, beaten, melted butter, molasses and milk. Add a dash of lemon juice (if desired). Line a 9 inch pie plate, pour in contents. Preheat over and bake at 450° for 15 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 350° and continue to bake for 50 minutes.