Archive for the ‘Raw Ingredients’ Category

86 middle street

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Our friends Arlin, Andrew and Michael from next door at Hugo’s have taken over the former home of Rabelais to create a fantastic raw bar in Portland: Eventide. We were honored to be invited to the friends and family night this past Monday. We couldn’t be happier to know that our old digs will host thousands of happy diners eating millions of Maine oysters starting this week. Please stop in and say hi to our friends, wish them good luck and have some oysters…!

backyard hens

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Rhode Island Reds

It has been very interesting to notice how hens are spreading through our countryside.  When we first got birds, back in 2008, only our neighbors across the street had them.  The other neighbors looked at us as some sort of throw backs.  But now when we drive down the road from home to work we see many many houses with hens scratching around the yard.  Everyday it feels like someone else has birds.  Is it because of the economy? Is it due to the rise in knowledge of what industrial food means in terms of quality of life, both for us and the chickens? I am a firm convert.  In fact eggs anywhere else just don’t taste as good.  I am an egg snob.  Happy to see others jumping on the bandwagon.

 

Samantha

fail

Friday, May 25th, 2012

murdered le creuset

I haven’t done this is a long while.  Shows you that cooking is a contact sport. One that should not be done half-heartedly.

You are looking at a five quart Le Creuset that is no longer usable as a cooking vessel.  Ouch.  It started as a pound of rhubarb and two cups of sugar.  It was supposed to be rhubarb syrup.  Instead it is a horrifying mess, a distinct fail.  I am a great fan of Le Creuset, we have quite a few of them, purchased over the years.  This particular pot was part of Don’s dowry, bought at a Park Slope stoop sale.  When we married we discovered we had two of these lovely pots.  Mine is a shred larger, weighing in at seven quarts.  They were a good complement to our batterie de cuisine.  If you own any of these pots you know that they are wonderful to cook with: heavy; solid and dependable.  Until you walk away from one full of sugar and rhubarb to do some quilting.  I am rather embarrassed, and pissed off.  These things do not come cheap.  And we use them all the time. So I am going to need to go and replace it.  Damn, that was stupid. Sigh.

I am often guilty of nagging at Don not to walk away from the kitchen while he is cooking.  Now look at me. Dose of my own medicine. When I used to bake for a living I relied on my timers. I had a couple of them that I brought to work with me all the time. I endured some teasing for depending on a piece of electronics to practice my craft.  Having a timer for me meant that I move on to another project without worrying about burning the cookies. It gave me the freedom to release that task from my crowded brain and replace it with another. I am out of practice. Should have used a timer for the rhubarb.  Hopefully will not make this mistake again any time soon. It was a painful, and costly, one.

Samantha

dinner with friends

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

A couple of bottles of wine, some pink, some red.

Nettle soup, stingless.

Ottolenghi chicken with hazelnuts, honey and Orange Blossom water.

Pan roasted fennel.

Asparagus with homemade mayonnaise.

Maple Pineapple upside down cake.

A lovely Sunday late afternoon meal with good people.  The outdoor season has begun. Praise be.

Samantha

good friends

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

are a good thing to have.  This luscious loaf of Slavic style bread was gifted to us from our dear friend Anna last Saturday.  We are trying hard not to inhale it in one sitting.  As I believe I have mentioned in the past, I am not much of a bread baker.  Being a stone’s throw from Standard Baking in Portland absolved me of trying.  We are a shred further from that blessed Portland institution now, so I make sure to include a stop on Commercial street to any trip to ‘town’.  So when we get a gift like this, it is truly precious…

Bread from AnnaSamantha

anticipation

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

That’s what this time of year is all about. Waiting for fresh produce to appear again at the market.  We are lucky here in Maine to have many farmers who make it a personal (and probably professional as well) mission to fight the seasons and grow as much as possible under cover.  Many of them are quite successful at it, and we thank them hardily for allowing us to eat fresh greens all Winter.  When it gets to be this time of year Spring is on the calendar, yet Mother Nature is slow to wake.  The ground is still cold and germination is tricky. This is when I really start to crave fresh vegetables. I find myself buying eggplants that I know have been trucked here from at least Florida and while they approximate the flavor of their in-season relatives, they are still a pale comparison.  Longing for the smell of fresh soil, the feeling of the sun on your back while you dig around in the garden, and the taste of the fruits of those labors.  The wait does make it all taste that much better.  I just wish it would hurry up and get here.

Samantha

Soda

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Blood Orange syrup.  I loves me some bubbly water but do not appreciate the over sweetness of most commercially made sodas.  We have one of those home soda system available these days, with a charged canister that delivers the bubbles.  I have been squeezing citrus into my glass but it tends to be more watered down that I desire.  So I decided to make myself some syrup.  Basically it’s zest, juice, sugar and a little water reduced on the stove by about half. The juice/water sugar proportions are about 2:1 liquid to dry.   A good tablespoon or so gives me a delicious soda with just the right blend of bubbles and tang. Ah, refreshment!

Temperate days

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Mother Nature is one confused broad these days.  She has been showering us with hot sunny days at a time of year when we should be wet, muddy and grey.  I think it will all go back to normal this weekend, but for the past week we have been playing at Summer, before having gone through Spring.

garlic sprouts

The garlic has sprung from it’s cold Winters bed.  We may need to close the garden back up so the chickens can’t get in to scratch at the tender shoots.  My chicken wire defense only partially works. But the green is a welcome sight.  Someone asked me at yoga the other day if I had planted my peas on St. Patrick’s Day.  This is common wisdom further South in New England, I have planted peas this early in other gardens, in other lifetimes.  Here in Maine we wait until Patriots Day, a holiday I was fully unaware of until we moved up here.  It comes right around tax day, a full month later than St. Patty’s.  I suppose if one was bold one could try putting some peas in the ground now.  Our soil was too frozen in the beginning of this week.  By now it has probably warmed up enough for an attempt.  For me however, that entails plotting out where I will plant what for the whole season, as I try to rotate my crops (!?) as much as possible to keep down disease and pests.  Somehow I am just not there yet.  Perhaps in another week or so, after it has gotten cold again, and I am longing for days planting with the sun on my back.  Then I will plot it all out, so the next time it gets even close to warm enough, I can run right out and plant those darling peas.

birthday cake In the meantime, we spent Thursday at home, having made an executive decision to enjoy its lovely weather and forgo our usual Sunday off, as rain is forecast for that day.  Our friend Peter came over for lunch and we sat on the patio, eating, talking and staring out at the still brown field.  We grilled some Scup, or Porgys as our fishmonger compared them. They were delicious.  Just brushed with olive oil, salt & pepper and a few slices of lemon in their cavities. The crackling skin was marvelous, the meat sweet and tender.  Accompanied by a Cauliflower and Red Pepper salad (because it is still March and here in Maine we have fewer fresh vegetable options this time of year) it was a tasty afternoon meal outdoors. The only thing missing was some green, no leaves anywhere with those temps was just plain queer.

We finished up with my new favorite cake, the Brown Sugar Lightning cake from The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider.  It is just as it sounds, brown sugary goodness that comes together lightning fast.  Split, filled with some Mangoes that had been macerating with brown sugar and lime juice, and frosted with whipped cream laced with Greek yogurt (full fat, thank you) and, wait for it, brown sugar.  It was dreamy.  Turns out it was Peter’s birthday, so we didn’t have any candles, and we didn’t sing at him, but it was his birthday cake.

John Dory

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Last nights dinner was a foil roasted John Dory bought from Harbor Fish, one of our all time favorite seafood purveyors.  Have you been there?  If you live in Portland, Maine, it is probably on your circuit.  Even if you are a summer visitor to Maine, you have been to Harbor Fish.  If not, add it to your itinerary.

I had a craving for some fish on Saturday, but only after the possibility for securing such raw ingredients was past.  Sunday morning after yoga I drove over to Custom House wharf.  Arriving at Harbor Fish at 10:30 on a Sunday morning was a new experience for me.  The place was empty, I had it all to myself.  And what an array of choices to be had.  Taking my sweet time, I surveyed all offerings and decided on the whole John Dory which they gutted for me. It is an ugly fish no doubt, spiny and flat with an enormous mouth. But man, was it delicious.

We buttered a big piece of tin foil, lay the fish on it with a couple cloves of garlic, some slices of lemon, salt/pepper, a sprig or two of thyme and a generous lashing of vermouth. In the oven at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Served with some sauteed spinach and eggplant (a vegetable drawer combo if ever there was one) and whole wheat cous cous to soak up the juices form the fish.  Oh my….

I do love living somewhere where this kind of raw ingredient is so fresh, tasty and readily available.

New Coke?

Friday, March 9th, 2012

I have been a die-hard fan of the New York Times for my entire life.  However lately there just doesn’t seem to be any there there.  Been reading the Guardian.  They report things the US press misses or is late to.  Such as carcinogens in Coke and Pepsi….