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Pea Pesto Crostini


More than ever, my guests are eating a “plant forward” or Vegan diet , or simply avoiding the heavier appetizers.

That’s the time to say “we see you” with an appetizer that will please everyone, even that thin-as -a -rail Vegan niece.

Try visualizing “whirled peas”. No really! Fresh, blanched and drained peas whirled in the cuisinart with good EVOO, Parmesan, parsley leaves, seasonings and toasted pine nuts.

Bright green and velvety, this spread needs no recipe, just salt to tastes and spread on freshly toasted baguette right before serving. The color will oxidize if done too far ahead.

Simple, good for you and appealing even to kids….VISUALIZE WHIRLED PEAS this Independence Day!

Rhubarb Crisp


This recipe is wonderful with the season’s first tender stalks, but if you don’t mind “stringing” the stalks like celery, you can use them all season long. I like to dice and freeze extra for the winter months. Make your dice about a half inch, it holds up to the baking better.

RHUBARB CRISP, serves 6 to 8. Bake until bubbly at 350 degrees, about 40 minutes

3 # trimmed rhubarb stalks
Zest and juice of one lemon
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tb vanilla and a dash of cinnamon
1 tsp. Freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup quick cooking tapioca

Mix all together. Let this soak and soften the tapioca while you prepare a bottom crust, or this can be omitted. Sometimes a crunchy topping is enough.

CRUMBLE TOPPING
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 stick of cold butter

Cut the butter into the dry mixture .

Add:
1/2 cup crumbled quick oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts , if desired

Grease a glass pan of choice with butter, add the rhubarb mixture.
Top evenly with the crumble. I add a few more pieces of butter on top of all.
We enjoy this dessert hot out of the oven with a local vanilla ice cream or gelato!

LIFE IS GOOD! ~ ENJOY THE LUSH AND EARLY DAYS OF SUMMER~ Laura

Homemade Buttermilk Dill Ranch Dressing


INGREDIENTS

Equal parts of: SOUR CREAM . MAYO . BUTTERMILK

FRESH FINELY CHOPPED HERBS to taste: DILL,  GARLIC, PARSLEY, ONION POWDER, SALT & CRACKED PEPPER

Add, to taste FRESH LEMON JUICE, no seeds, I like a bit of lemon zest and EVOO.

Whisk together TO COMBINE, then refrigerate in a covered jar.

This delicious SALAD DRESSING will keep for a week or more!

Use sparingly, especially on TENDER SPRING GREENS

Eat . Your . Vegetables.    And enjoy the fleeting jewels of Spring.

~ Chef Laura

Savory SKYR Sauce

Photo Credit Laura Cabot

A word about Skyr.

I love it for breakfast with my homemade granola and fresh berries . I always thought it was a yogurt, but it is ,in fact, a cheese and tremendously healthful, full of probiotics. It takes a savory turn in Icelandic cuisine as outlined here in Chef Gunnar Karl’s recipe from his restaurant Dill.

  • 1/2 half cup skyr
  • 6 TB sour cream
  • 1 TB honey
  • Sea salt, fresh nutmeg to taste

Cider vinegar to taste.

Combine all, cover and chill for a few hours to let the flavors marry. A perfect dip or spread for meats and crudity!

Couldn’t be easier.

Ides of March Refrigerator Challenge – Maine Potato Boxty

Sure, these are a traditional Irish food and you can wait until St. Patrick Day and wash these fluffy potato pancakes down with a Guinness.

But , honestly, most Mainers have Maine potatoes in their refrigerators right now along with green spring onions …or at least an old onion with greens on top. Splurge on some buttermilk and you basically have it made.

Boxty are traditional potato pancakes, a dish most closely associated with the Northern Midlands of Ireland and my recipe of preference contain potatoes both grated raw and boiled/mashed. I season mine with fresh cracked pepper and sea salt. That’s it. Otherwise its potato , flour eggs and buttermilk mixed with the mashed and grated potato to form a patty then fried in oil. Crispy on the outside and fluffy interior, that’s what you’re after. Makes a wonderful side dish, or make them thin and use them like a wrap. My favorite may be to create tiny, bite sized ones and top with sour cream or creme fraiche and caviar or smoked salmon like a blini appetizer! Nice with a glass of Cremant!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1tsp. Baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup mashed Maine potato
  • 1 1/2 cups grated raw potato
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Butter or oil to fry ( I prefer avocado oil)

METHOD

Sift all dry ingredients in one bowl.

In another, mix mashed and grated potato.
Add the dry ingredients.
Gently add the buttermilk, taking care not to over stir, which toughens the mixture.

You’ll want a stiff batter, almost a dough. Add more buttermilk if the mixture seems too stiff.

Using a cast iron griddle , pre-heat the pan. The pan should be hot but not smoking Add some oil, then a dollop of batter, flattening slightly.

Cook until golden brown using a moderate heat  (needed to cook the dough through without burning), then flip only once.

Transfer to a warm plate and keep warm ,covered in the oven ,until all dough has been fried.

These delicious pancakes can be just as welcome at breakfast or as a side dish for dinner!

Because they are so quick to make, I sometimes enjoy them as a fast lunch with a green salad.

SERVES 4 TO 6

Chocolate Mousse

Buckle up for the simplest and most pleasing dessert ever. Forget that it’s made from tofu and keep an open mind!

Actually Vegan and gluten free, this mousse can stand in for a “fancy” dessert and can be whirled up in minutes in a Cuisinart.

It’s made simply from silken tofu, semi sweet chocolate chips, Maine maple syrup and pinch of salt and vanilla.It may even be good for you.

Here’s how it goes:

TAKES MINUTES . YIELDS ABOUT 6 PORTIONS

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 blocks of silken tofu
  • 10 oz semi sweet chocolate, melted 1 TB vanilla
  • Maple syrup to taste
  • Pinch of sea salt

METHOD

  1. Place tofu, salt, some maple syrup and melted chocolate into a cuisinart. Process until creamy. Add as much chocolate as you’d like to create a denser pudding and correct the sugar to taste by adding more maple ,if desired.
  2. Pour into ramekins and let set for a couple of hours to chill, then decorate the top with fresh berries and chocolate shavings.
  3. Practically guilt free and sure doesn’t taste it!

MAKE THIS FOR YER SWEETIE! HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Vegan Truffled White Bean Pate

Everybody loves Hummus….but why not up your game and try this delicious twist on a bean spread that everyone will adore. Great as a spread on bread or a dip for veggies.

Truffle oil is the luxury ingredient and it is optional, since not everyone loves the flavor. I like to use white cannelloni beans and save the “aquafaba” , or bean water from the can as a healthy egg alternative. The stuff has a viscosity a lot like eggs and will stand in for whipped egg whites in many recipes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 CUP COOKED AND DRAINED CANNELINI BEANS, SAVE THE LIQUID
  • 2 TB EVOO
  • 2 TB FRESH LEMON JUICE, AND A LITTLE LEMON ZEST
  • 1 LG CLOVE GARLIC
  • 1/2 tsp. WHOLE GRAIN GARLIC
  • SEA SALT AND FRSH PEPPER , TO TASTE
  • FRESH HERBS TO GARNISH OPTIONAL
  • 1 TSP WHITE TRUFFLE OIL OPTIONAL

In a food processor, pulse all ingredients until smooth with a bit of chunk ( that’s how I prefer it, others like it silky smooth).

Using a spatula, place the dip/pate into a bowl . GARNISH with EVOO and chopped parsley

Depending on how you intend to use the pate, you may add some of the aquafaba if you’re going for more of a dip that a spread.

Keep the mixture tight for a sandwich spread. Wonderful on a pita with lots of sprouts and cucumber!

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Photo Credit: Laura Cabot

TOPPING
2 CUPS FRESH COARSLY CHOPPED CRANBERRIES
1/2 CUP SUGAR
1 TSP ORANGE ZEST
1/2 CUP CHOPPED TOASTED WALNUTS

CAKE
3/4 CUP MELTED BUTTER
3/4 WHITE SUGAR
2 LARGE EGGS, ROOM TEMPERATURE
1 TSP. VANILLA ZEST OF ONE SMALL ORANGE
1 CUP FLOUR
PINCH SEA SALT

METHOD

  1. PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 DEGREES
  2. GREASE A 9 IN SPRINGFORM PAN
  3. IN A BOWL COMBINE CRANBERRIES, WALNITS, SUGAR AND ZEST. TOSS WELL. POUR INTO THE PAN.
  4. IN ANOTHER BOWL, COMBINE SUGAR AND BUTTER. MIX WELL. ADD EGGS, BEATING WELL.
    THEN ADD VANILLA AND REMAINING ORANGE ZEST.
    ADD FLOUR AND SALT, MIXING TILL SMOOTH.
    BATTER SHOULD BE QUITE THICK , SPREAD CAREFULLY OVER THE FRUIT/NUT MIXTURE UNTIL COMPLETELY COVERED
  5. BAKE ON A PARCHMENT SHEET FOR 30-35 MINUTES.
  6. LET THE BAKED CAKE COOL FOR 15 MINUTES, THEN LOOSEN THE PERIMETER WITH A KNIFE, CAREFULLY RELEASING THE SIDES OF THE PAN. REMOVE THE RING SLOWLY AND REMOVE.
  7. GENTLY INVERT ONTO A PLATE USING A BUTTER KNIFE TO ASSIST WITH THE EDGES, IF NEEDED.
  8. YOU’VE GOT A BEAUTIFUL AND FESTIVE HOLIDAY DESSERT, LUSCIOUS ENOUGH TO SHARE WITH COMPANY!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! ~ Laura

Southern Collard Greens

Actually originating as a slave dish, it jumped the fence into plantation homes due to sheer goodness and clever cooks. Many say that”pot likkur” or the rich stock remaining from the cooked greens actually sustained many slave families as it is the most nutritious part and was undervalued by the whites.

Cooked with a ham hock or smoked turkey leg the dish is delightfully smokey. Vinegar and pepper adds a kick, chicken stock, time and a slow flame work the rest of the magic.

Let’s warm up the kitchen….

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 LARGE BUNCH COLLARD GREENS,
  • RIBS OR STEMS REMOVED, LEAVES WELL RINSED
  • CHOP INTO MEDIUM SQUARES
  • CHICKEN BROTH, 1 QT.
  • 1 SMOKED TURKEY LEG
  • 1 LG CHOPPED WHITE ONION
  • SALT, PEPPER AND RED PEPPER FLAKES TO TASTE
  • OIL TO SAUTE
  • A DASH OF CIDER VINEGAR

METHOD

  1. CHOOSE A HEAVY POT WITH A HEAVY LID.
  2. PLACE ON A MEDIUM FLAME
  3. ADD OLIVE OIL TO THE POT, MAYBE A 1/4 CUP
  4. ADD ONION AND SEASONINGS AND SAUTE UNTIL TRANSLUCENT.
  5. ADD GREENS AND TOSS TO COAT
  6. ADD TURKEY LEG AND CHICKEN STOCK, GIVE A STIR.
  7. COVER AND COOK OVER LOW FLAME FOR A FEW HOURS, STIR OCCASIONALLY.
  8. THE MEAT OF THE TURKEY LEG MAY BE CHOPPED AND RETURNED TO THE POT.
  9. KEEP COVERED AND BE SURE THERE IS ADEQUATE LIQUID FOR THE LONG COOKING PROCESS WITHIN.ADD ADDITIONAL IF NEEDED.
  10. SERVE WITH HOT CORNBREAD AND HONEY BUTTER. ADD A PILE OF BBQ RIBS OR BEANS! A GREAT NOVEMBER MEAL.

NOTE: the ribs of the collards mat be saved, chopped and started sauteeing first ( if you prefer not to waste them). They take a little longer to cook ,so give them a head start!

Bob’s Pickled Pears

Photo Credit Robert Stafford

 

Bob lives in Friendship, Maine. Bob loves food.

He does many things well, so I wasn’t really that surprised to taste some fantastic pickled pears and learn that he had prepared them.

They were served with toasted walnuts and a good Bleu on an inspired chessboard one evening at dinner at their ocean view home. An invitation to Bob and Patience’s lovely home for dinner never ever disappointed. Good wine, good conversation, great food and always some incredible handmade elements are their signatures . Luck to have their friendship…in Friendship!

Like these pickled Bosc pears, good things are often worth the wait, these delicacies fall into that category. Not that hard to make, it’s more like waiting for a good pear season. Those seem to come every other year or so.

When it rains, it pours pears, at least here in the mid-coast where often old farmsteads had a few fruit trees, usually apples and pears. Pear trees are distinctive in their upright profile, quite different from other fruit trees. I am lucky enough to have one in my yard which is laden with fruit this year! So….let’s pickle some pears!

BOB’S PICKLED PEARS

Save some of these for your charcuterie plates or to accompany game or fowl at festive meals.Good with a pork chop!

6 pounds of small firm pears, peeled and cored
2 tb whole cloves
6 star anise pods
4 cinnamon sticks
1 large knob ginger peeled and sliced thin
3 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
2.5 cups sugar, white
1 cup brown sugar

Dash of salt
Tie all spices into a small muslin bag.
In a large stainless steel pot, mix together the water, sugars and salt and cinnamon sticks and spice bag…bring to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer for 7 minutes.
Add the pears in batches, one layer at a time, cooking until barely tender, 12 minutes or so.
Once the pears are all cooked transfer them to smaller Mason jars or one larger glass gallon jug(s).
Pour the hot pickling liquid over them and make sure to add another cinnamon stick and star anise to each.
Clean up any drips for a clean edge being sure to leave some headspace it you are actually canning these in a hot water bath. I use many at a time in my catering work, so I put mine up in large glass jars and refrigerate them cool, capping tightly.

These also make a dandy Holiday gift…always a welcome addition to the table or larder!

Cheers,

Laura Cabot