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The Cooking Edge (75)

Thursday, 01 November 2012 12:44

Yanked tiramisu

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Tiramisu is Italian for "make me happy." The jolt of coffee one perceives in this dessert is the reason for the nomenclature. It is fairly new to the cooking arena, since only about the late 60s has it been offered up to chefs to interpret on their own. And here is The Yankee Chef's interpretation.

Though I don't use ladyfingers in my presentation, I use something even better: molasses cookies. I think these go absolutely perfectly, flavor-wise, with the other levels of taste, and the texture is slightly firmer, with a little crispness from the edge of each cookie that helps tie everything in. Although I don't soak the cookies in coffee, I add the flavor of espresso and soak the cookies in another New England mainstay: rum!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012 23:04

More from abroad

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I adore Vietnamese food, especially the zing in certain Vietnamese desserts. Most of the time, they add some freshly-minced or dried chili peppers in their sweets. Although once in a while I enjoy this tongue lashing, most of the time I want to taste the true fruit, unadulterated. So I took a popular Vietnamese banana fritter recipe and altered it many years ago. I forgot all about it until I was thumbing through my notes for my second cookbook and happened upon it. It is far simpler to prepare than the Vietnamese version and I believe much simpler and clean in flavor. If you want, by all means add some cinnamon to the batter, but remember, you will need to find Vietnamese cinnamon to be authentic (as well as about another dozen or so ingredients). So enjoy this treat two ways; see below.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012 20:00

Don't hate me!

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As all of you know, I hate having a laundry list of ingredients in a recipe, and hate even more a lengthy story behind its preparation. But I simply love this treat and I think you will too.

Wednesday, 03 October 2012 21:53

Aint you a brat!

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I bet you all have heard (or said) that phrase before. But I'm talking about bratwurst sausages. The month of October instantly brings to mind Oktoberfest and the pungent, spicy, aromatic images of German sausages. Bratwurst, being one of my favorites, is meant to be fried or roasted, hence the German word 'braten.' But I think you will find the addition of this sausage in New England chowder is just about as good as it gets. Pop by Bean's in Bangor for their Oktoberfest and see what they have to offer; that's where I got the brat for this recipe. By all means, substitute kielbasa for this recipe, or even cheddarwurst or chorizo.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012 18:51

Which is better?

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A friend of mine who is also a chef posted some pictures of a traditional Italian antipasto. It was a Caprese salad, or insalta Caprese as rightfully heralded. Although a great salad in its own right, and admired worldwide, I think I have a better one, and it's not Italian.

While working for the Brountas family here in Maine many years ago, I developed the love of Greek cuisine. Among the outstanding ingredients they use is feta cheese. It may be an acquired taste for some, but my palate instantly admired the crumbly texture of this cheese, and I think you will too.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012 21:02

What am I doing wrong?

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I want to thank everyone for visiting my column online at The Maine Edge. I truly appreciate the number of views and the people who come up to me saying they read my article. It is hard to believe that more men tell me they read my column than women. But the query I still get is, "Jim, can you make simpler recipes?" I truly thought I "dumbed down" for my great friends at Dr. Mazzei's office enough to satisfy even the green thumbs of the kitchen. Now don't think for a minute it bothers me to do this. I sincerely enjoy giving recipes my readers enjoy and want. So thanks for starting that trend, Lynn (you know who you are).

Wednesday, 12 September 2012 16:27

When was the last time?

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Do you even remember the last time you made your own donuts or fritters? There isn't anything like a gooey, warm Apple Fritter sticky with sugar to give you that warm, fulfilling feeling before you begin your day. Make these the night before if you want that little boost the next day. They truly are better the second day around.

Wednesday, 05 September 2012 16:19

Eric Furry and his books

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Every once in a while I like taking time to honor a business or individual in the Bangor area who exemplifies what it means to be a Yankee. I am forgoing this week's column on food to tell you about a man I have known for a number of years, a man my dad considered one of his closest friends. Eric Furry, owner of Pro Libris Bookstore in Bangor, has been in business since 1980. His is a small business, with books lined up wherever you aren't standing. It's a monotone place, with his cat quietly perched in its own little spot. Sound inviting? Maybe not, but there's something that keeps his clientele coming back year after year.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012 15:25

Is it apple season yet?

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It happened one day when my daughter wanted a candied apple at the fair. I bought her one. Five minutes later, after walking around the fairgrounds, she said, "Here, Dad, I'm done!" It was the same red, shiny orb I had just bought her, except with an abundance of gnaw marks up one side and down the other. Although a 10 year old with strong teeth, she couldn't penetrate the sweet, hardened glaze. After fretting and fuming to myself for wasted money, I decided to take a stab at it. She was right! Hard as nails, just the way I remembered it as a kid, but lacking one prized, distinctive quality: the bite. I mean the bite of real candied apple. You remember, you get that sweetly hot taste that made this confection true from the melted cinnamon candies that made the thought of a chipped tooth irrelevant. Yup, another shortcut by someone who obviously is out for the money rather than sticking with tradition.

Now The Yankee Chef is all about saving money, but not at the expense of keeping a tradition alive and allowing my children enjoy what we did growing up. So for posterity's sake, here's how to make a great, hard, shiny, sweet, hot, mouth-watering...

Wednesday, 22 August 2012 22:42

Skinny! Skinny! Skinny!

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I was watching a program the other day about how people perceive these rail thin models as beautiful. Now, I have to be politically and morally correct here, so instead of demeaning anyone who chooses to be rail thin for modeling purposes, let me just say one thing. They sure didn't look like that when I was a kid (well, besides Ziggy, Iggy, Twiggy or Figgy - whatever that Swedish models name was). But regardless of your intent, I do believe we should balance our food intake with much more fruits and vegetables. I am a staunch advocate of all things fruit and vegetables, as well as substituting low-fat products for full-fat items. For example, the recipe below. You will not taste any difference at all if you chose to use full fat ingredients rather than those listed. With all this said, try...

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