Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Bass Man Cometh

I'm so pleased to have my dear friend, Maryanne Haigley, as my first guest blogger.  Maryanne and Michael Haigley live on the beautiful island of Nantucket where Micheal is an avid fisherman. Having lived on the island now for over 40 years, Michael knows where to go to catch a great Striper and Maryanne has the culinary skills to turn this bounty into an unforgettable meal.

The Bass Man - Michael Haigley


Striped Bass in the style of Madaket by Maryanne Haigley
(I also use this method for Cod)

This is a very simple recipe which I think is important when your fish is as fresh as ours.  I don't want to disguise the natural salty taste of the ocean with too many competing flavors, so this simple preparation works well.  A husband who fishes is a plus, but we're fortunate to also have great seafood markets on the Cape and the Islands where you can purchase fresh fish.  Our fish is always caught off  Nantucket at Handkerchief Shoals close to Monomy Island or, if  we are lucky that day, close to our Nantucket home in Madaket, where Laurie and I have enjoyed this delicious bounty from the ocean!
Striped Bass Fish filets, skinned and de-boned
Panko bread crumbs
1-2 Eggs
Lemon/Pepper seasoning
Fresh Lemon

Heat a heavy bottomed skillet (cast iron is my favorite) with enough oil (canola/vegetable) to approx. 1/4" making sure the skillet is large enough so fish can easily be turned in the pan.

Lightly salt fish and squeeze some fresh lemon on each side
Dip fish and cover in egg wash (1-2 eggs beaten with a bit of water)
Cover fish completely in Panko crumbs - I use "Ian's Panko" no artificial flavors or preservatives, and prefer the "original style”.  I've also used the "Italian style" but you should adjust the salt as this is a saltier bread crumb.
Dip again in egg wash
Bring immediately to pan
Shake the lemon/pepper seasoning while in pan on each turn of the fish
Squeeze lemon while cooking (will cause some crackling in the pan)

My only secret is that I turn fish fairly frequently so that it gets a great crust without burning.  I squeeze a lot of fresh lemon at the end as we like it more lemon-y. Total cooking time is about 15 minutes.

I usually serve this with some fresh Bartlett Farm tomatoes right from our beautiful Nantucket farm:
3 sliced ripe tomatoes
Chopped fresh basil - about 6-8 leaves
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Few drops of balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Serve on a bed of:
Mixed arugula and Boston lettuce with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste

This is always a simple, yet delicious, "fan favorite" that always receives rave reviews.

Many thanks to Maryanne and Michael.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili was a regular on the menu at Laureen's, the gourmet shop I operated in Falmouth, MA from 1986 through 1994. I made a batch the other day and just had a bowl for lunch. Perfect on this very chilly day, so I thought I'd share the recipe with you.

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili
2 bags of dried black beans
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 small sweet white onion
1.5 tsp cumin seed
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground thyme
2 tbsp olive oil
1 - 12oz can of diced tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Place the dried black beans onto a baking sheet and remove any stones or odd looking beans.  Then rinse them in a colander:

Place the beans in a heavy sauce pan and fill with water to about an inch over the beans.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 1.5 hours or until beans are tender.  Add a good pinch of salt. You'll need to add water a few times (set a timer for 20 minute intervals) to keep the water level about an inch over the beans. (Note: it is not necessary to soak the beans before cooking)

Chop the onion into a dice and set aside:

Do the same with the peppers.  Note: I used yellow, orange, and red pepper for this batch.

Add the olive oil to your stock pot and cook the onions until tender.  Then add the spices and salt to the onions:

Next add the peppers and saute until the peppers are tender:

Add the chopped tomato to the peppers and onions and allow to simmer, very low, while the beans are cooking.

Once your beans are cooked empty the liquid so that the beans are just barely covered with the water (this water will be black).  Add to the cooked onions, peppers and the chopped tomatoes.  Cook over low heat for 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the vinegar which brings out the flavor. Allow the chili to sit for about 20 minutes before serving.  This will make about a gallon of chili.  It can be frozen, and it will also keep in the refrigerator for a week.

Have a comment or question. Post it below. Enjoy!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ravioli made by hand

Our Christmas Eve dinner tradition is homemade ravioli filled with ricotta cheese.  This recipe was passed down to me by my father, whose mother made homemade pasta just like they do in the old country.  While Grandma made her dough on her macaroni board by mixing all the ingredients by hand, I will show you how you can easily mix the dough in your Cuisinart.  Either way is delicious!

Pasta dough in the Cuisinart:
Insert the dough blade (small plastic blade)
Add 4 eggs
1 tsp salt
Mix the eggs and salt for a minute
Add 3 cups of flour
Turn on to high speed and mix until dough starts to thicken
Add small amount of water through the feed tube while the machine is running until the dough forms into a ball.  Once it is a solid ball moving around the blade let it knead on high speed for 2-3 minutes.  Dust dough ball with flour and place it on a plate covered with a clean dish cloth.  Repeat to make a second batch.

Ricotta filling:
One large (2lb) container ricotta cheese
(Good Italian markets often carry a fresh imported ricotta from Italy that is delicious)
2 eggs
2 tbls fresh chopped parsley
Handful of pecorino romano cheese
salt and pepper
Mix all ingredients together and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Take 1/3 of a dough ball and dust with flour and begin rolling it out on a floured surface.  A wooden surface works best.  I use a chopping block.  Roll the dough out to form a rectangular shape.
Rub the dough with a little flour to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin or surface.  Roll until it's almost paper thin (more like the thickness of construction paper)

Then trim the edges so you have a even rectangular shape.  I take these trimmed edges and cut them into small pieces and flash freeze them.  They are delicious in a homemade soup.

Place a generous tablespoon of the ricotta filling about 2 inches from the edge and 2 inches apart:

Now take a glass of water, and dipping your fingers in the water, draw an outline across the top and sides of what will be each ravioli:

Carefully fold the dough over the cheese making sure to align the top over the bottom to form the ravioli.  It's a little tricky lining it up, but with practice it gets easier.  Run your fingers around the edges and between the ravioli to seal.  Then cut evenly between each ravioli:

Take a fork and dip it into the flour then gently fork the cut edges. Making sure that you don't push the tines of the fork into the dough and puncture the ravioli.

Place the ravioli on a sheet with parchment paper allowing a little space between them.  You can flash freeze them on the sheets and then place them in freezer bags.  If I am cooking them the same day, I just store them in the refrigerator until I'm ready to use them.

Place the ravioli into boiling salted water, and bring them back up to a boil then cook them for about 8-10 minutes depending on thickness.  Remove from the boiling water with a small strainer or large slotted spoon.  If you dump them into a colander they will break.

Place them in a pasta dish and add a little sauce as you layer the ravioli into the serving dish. This recipe makes about 2 -3 dozen ravioli depending on the size you make. I tend to make them on the larger side as they measure about 3"x 4" once cooked. I love the texture of the dough, which is slightly uneven from hand rolling the pasta.

Buon appetito!

If you have any questions about this or any of our recipes, please submit your question using the comment box.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Simple Cod Dinner

Cod is probably our most popular fish here on the Cape. When preparing it I like to keep it simple by using just a few ingredients.  This allows for the natural flavor of each ingredient to be savored and enjoyed. Accompanied with roasted potatoes and broccolini - you'll have a simple, delicious and healthful meal.

Baked Cod with red peppers and sweet onions (serves 4)

1 1/2 to 2 lbs fresh Cod
1 red pepper
1/2 sweet white onion
1 tbsp Mirin
2 tbsp Tamari
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Victoria Taylor's Toasted Sesame Ginger Seasoning

Slice the red pepper and onion into thin strips.  Saute in olive oil until onions are translucent and peppers are soft. Add tamari, mirin, and balsamic and cook over medium heat for an additional 5 minutes. Divide peppers and onions evenly over the scrod.  Cook on the stove for 2 minutes, then place in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes. Switch to the broiler and cook another 3 minutes, or just until brow. (I use a cast iron pan)

Serve with:
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes:
Cut potatoes in quarters lengthwise.  Chop onion in half and then into small crescents. Chop fresh parsley.  Place all ingredients on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and mix so all potatoes are evenly coated.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake in 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until tender and golden brown.

Garlic Broccolini:
Wash and trim ends.  Add 2 inches of water to large saute or frying pan and bring to boil.  Add broccolini and cook for about 6 minutes, or until just tender.  Remove from water. Add about a tbsp of olive oil to a saute pan and 2 cloves of sliced garlic. Lightly brown the garlic, then add the broccolini. Cook over medium to high heat until browned

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas made by hand

One of my very favorite Christmas decorations is this angel, which was made by  the daughter of one of my dearest friends.  I received it about 12 years ago and have hung it every year since then.  It represents the simplest, yet most important part of the holidays for me—receiving a gift made by the hand of a child.  It is also a constant reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.

Yesterday  Ally and I made Christmas cookies, a favorite tradition for many during the holidays.  What a wonderful gift these little treasures would be for anyone on your list.  We used this very simple, yet delicious, sugar cookie recipe: The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies.  Please note that you can substitute Earth Balance for the butter.

For decorating I made a simple buttercream frosting:
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup butter or Earth Balance (room temperature)
4 tbls milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (the real stuff)
Food coloring

Cream butter and sugar in an electric mixer.  Add confectioners' sugar, milk and vanilla. Beat on high speed until fluffy (about 5 minutes)

We divided the frosting into 3 bowls and made a batch of green, red and kept one white.  You'll  need 3 pastry bags and frosting tips and the coupling device or tip holder.  Here's some tips on how to decorate using a pastry bag.

Fill each pastry bag, squeezing the frosting down to the tip, then tie off with a twist tie, and place each one in a tall glass.  This will keep them neat and orderly during the decorating process.

I let Ally do all the decorating:



 Ally's beautiful creations, all made by hand:

May your holidays be blessed with the joy of receiving a gift, created by hand.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lobster Slather by Gail Blakely

Lobster Slather by Gail is a great spread for a holiday party.  My friend Gail writes the food column for the Falmouth and Mashpee Enterprise.  She will be joining me here to share great recipes and creative ideas for entertaining.  Gail and I became fast friends when she interviewed me for an article about Laureen's, the gourmet shop I started back in 1986.  We've bonded over food and the friendship continues.

Lobster Slather
1/2 lb fresh cooked lobster meat
scant 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 lb whipped cream cheese

Chop the lobster meat into small dice and season with Old Bay; add mayonnaise to taste, cover, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Bring back to room temperature and beat with the cream cheese; cover and refrigerate again for at least 8 hours.  To serve, place in a pretty bowl and bring to room temperature; garnish with an orange nasturtium, if available, or a dark orchid blossom.  Serve with crackers or buttered toasts on the side.

Christmas weekend in NY

A Christmas weekend in NY
is always a special treat, and what better place to start than in the heart of the city.  The tree is magnificent and the streets were teeming with people who all seemed to be in a festive mood.  The windows on 5th Avenue were breathtaking displays of creativity.

Our first lunch on Friday was at one of my favorite little restaurants on the upper east side, Caffe Grazzi. At 84th and Madison, it's just a few blocks from the Metropolitan. We did venture over to the museum after lunch to see the Christmas tree and Neapolitan Baroque crèche.  It was lovely. 

 I had a salad of grilled chicken, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts over wilted spinach. My daughter, Ally, had pumpkin ravioli with shrimp and cherry tomatoes.  The menu is always creative and everything is prepared with the freshest ingredients. For dessert Ally indulged in the Italian version of smores.  Graham crackers on the bottom, then a layer of nutella, and topped with mini-marshmallows.  It was baked in the oven then popped under the broiler to brown. A real neighborhood gem that is terrific for lunch or dinner.

On Saturday we had lunch at L'Ecole, the restaurant of the French Culinary Institute of New York.  This school uses a total immersion teaching curriculum to turn out some great talent.  I had salmon in a lemon sauce with Brussels sprouts which was delicious.  If you find yourself on Canal Street it is definitely worth a visit.

The burger was also scrumptious!

Leaving the city I always try to stop at Eli's Vinegar Factory on 91st and York Ave.  It's one of my favorite gourmet shops.  Entering the store you are greeted by some of the best vegetables and fruit I have ever seen:

Then it's on to the gourmet take out food:

The salad bar:


Baked goods:



And special Christmas treats:


Easy to see why it's one of my favorites.  We always pick up their wonderful prepared sandwiches for the ride home.  So much better than any of the food at the roadside rest stops.  It was a wonderful weekend!