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The Cooking Edge (75)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012 16:34

Disney's Pixar and The Yankee Chef?!

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The connection? We were all proud of W.A. Bean of Bangor for the opportunity to be contracted to provide Wolfgang Puck with Haggis for the premiere of the movie 'Brave.' My family has been buying from W.A. Bean for over 80 years, with the first Yankee Chef, Samuel Bailey. While working at the Bangor House in the 20s and 30s, he bought meat and such from Bean's, and the second Yankee Chef did the same from the 60s until his death in 2001.

I, the third Yankee Chef, have bought from Bean's over the years as well. The connection, however, is while Pixar contracted with W.A. Bean's, I have just been told that this local, dynamic company will be sponsoring me and my culinary projects. I know my grandfather and father would be delighted at the fact that the Yankee Chef's legacy and Bean legacy will be united yet again, going on to the century mark. I am proud to call David Bean a friend first, sponsor second. So without gabbing yet again, let me take one of Bean's Meats that you can purchase at their retail shop on the Bomarc Road and give you a sample of just what you can do with their fresh sausage.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012 13:14

Boy did I screw up!

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I received more emails on this topic than any other column since my debut in The Maine Edge. Everyone and their mother asked me why I didn't include the Coney dog. Even the eminent Dr. Mazzei of Bangor, for whom I have great admiration, spoke to me like my father would have. With a laugh and a hearty reminder, he bellowed, "Where's the Detroit dog, Jim ?" It was funny because his assistant, "Cutty" - another great friend - told me he tried to get in my room before the doctor to forewarn me but he couldn't make it. Well I heard you, Dr. Mazzei, loud and clear along with everyone else. Can I tell a little about it first though?

Let me explain the difference between the Coney and Detroit dogs to begin with. While Coney Island may be the birthplace of the hot dog, it is not the origination of the Coney dog, which uses a special type of beef and pork hot dog in a natural casing. The 'chili' originally was a mixture of beef hearts, cinnamon, nutmeg, bacon and olives - with no beans.

Tuesday, 03 July 2012 16:11

Finger lickin'

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My friend Gail vanWart's family has owned Peaked Mountain Farm in Dedham for about 150 years. She is an author and poet and very knowledgeable about wild blueberries, blueberry recipes, blueberry cultivation...heck, everything blueberry. Having talked to her this past week, she has me salivating for her crop of MOFGA wild blueberries. But like strawberries, we have to wait for the perfect time. In the meantime, I am going to whet my (and hopefully your) taste buds for blueberries with the following finger-lickin' chicken and something to top it off with.

Thursday, 28 June 2012 07:20

Dressed up dogs

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A red snapper with mustard? Nothing wrong with that, but sometimes some people crave a bit more refinement than the classic red hot provides, especially when they see what the upscale restaurants and eateries are serving during the summer season. Gourmet dogs are poised to become a national (even an international) phenom, so here are a few of what everyone else is eating, supposedly.

Thursday, 21 June 2012 07:41


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Guess what time of year it is everyone? I wait for strawberry season every year now for ... years. Although the fresh strawberries you can get in the supermarket are adequate, that's their downfall as well: mere adequacy. I want to taste fruit that is local, just-picked and still warm from the sun it grows under.

My kids look forward to them as well. For over 10 years, I hand-picked and sold these gems at my farm stand, with my children right alongside me. They earned extra money picking and selling, learning important lessons along the way. They learned the hard way when they wanted something special at the store, but they had eaten five out of the eight quarts they picked - they were going to have to settle for something else. And no, I didn't cave in! But I always made sure they had their fill of strawberries both in the field and at home. It worked. After the third or fourth day, they wanted nothing more to do with strawberries. I learned a lesson as well: Not only didn't they want to eat any more strawberries, they didn't want to help pick anymore either. Tough love bit me right in the strawberry patch.

Thursday, 14 June 2012 11:24

Happy Father's Day to me

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As anyone will tell you, I abhor talking about myself. But this week's article is about The Yankee Chef. I just learned that the cover of my first book, 'The Yankee Chef,' can be viewed (along with the book description) online at Just put 'The Yankee Chef' in the search bar to your left at this site and you will see a miniature picture of my book pop up. Click on the book cover and you will see some info on the book itself along with a larger image of the jacket. Although it says the book won't be available until January of 2013, Schiffer Publishing has a two month buffer, so it will be ready to order at the beginning of November. I am thrilled, and I think my father would be as well. If it wasn't for him, I certainly would not have had the ambition and tenacity it took to "peddle my wares" from publisher to publisher.

Now I would love to thank a very special outfit for their role in me being so handsome in my pink chef's coat. (Hey, Father's Day is coming up - I'm entitled) Unifirst is my first sponsor and I am proud to call Tracy a friend. Everyone at the Bangor office was fantastic to deal with, and Unifirst presented me with two, top-of-the-line chef's coats. One is my trademark pink coat, while the other is a beautiful black color. They did the embroidery as well. I can't say enough about them. That's why I give them a plug every chance I get on my YouTube videos.

Wednesday, 06 June 2012 16:41

Simply Caribbean

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The headline is an oxymoron, obviously. June is National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, and Caribbean cuisine is so far removed from what we are used to up here in the Northeast, it would take my whole article just to give you the ingredients and preparation for one dish.

Coconut is the most repeated item in Caribbean cooking, with coconut milk leading the pack. But don't confuse coconut milk with what you find in the middle of a coconut. It is the extraction of coconut oil and flavor into milk. To make it at home is simple. In a large bowl, place 4 c. grated coconut. Bring 2 c. milk to a scald on the stove, remove and pour over the coconut. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Strain the coconut mixture through a strainer, reserving the liquid. If you would like, remove the strained coconut into a muslin or cheese cloth and squeeze even more coconut flavor. Store this coconut milk in the refrigerator until cool. The cream will rise to the top, so before transferring this milk into an air-tight container, whisk well. That's it!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 16:01

Vinegar the alternative cleaner?!?

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In March of 2012, the Silent Springs Institute in Massachusetts released a "scientific study" declaring that vinegar be recommended as an "alternative cleaner." We Yankees have been using vinegar as a cleaner in hundreds of different ways for centuries. Well, before I get my gander up about how foolishly institutes spend their money or how foolish institutes are, let me give you some other ideas about how you can use vinegar and its namesake Vinaigrette - and how easy it is to make your own at home. You won't find these highly-addictive Vinaigrettes on your store shelves.

Friday, 25 May 2012 08:23

Not your momma's pesto

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For the third time so far, summer has peeked its inviting forehead from the sides of the clouds. And every time it does, I get the urge to cook outdoors, eat outdoors or enjoying recipes that make me feel good, much as the radiance of the sun. Pesto just happens to be my springtime fling. It is great used as a dip for crusty French bread, mixed in with a cold pasta salad, tossed with just cooked pasta or served as the following recipe suggests. Basil pesto is a classic recipe and delicious in its own right. But when you add a spring-time taste, such as asparagus, it transforms this clean taste into something that you will remember and want to make numerous times. Spice this recipe up a bit with a dash or two of hot pepper sauce, a minced jalapeno pepper, a teaspoon of ground mustard or even some flavored oils.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012 18:00

Flavored butters

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I remember many years ago I wanted to start my own line of flavored butters, but I never followed through with it. Why? Because one, I never got off my butt to do it and two, it is so simple to make it at home. With just a few ingredients, you can have a pat of flavored butter melting over freshly-cooked vegetables. Meat and seafood are impressive as are breads, rolls and waffles with the addition of your own flavored butters. Here are just a few I would like to share with you.

Start with 4 oz. unsalted butter or margarine at room temperature. Put the butter in a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or electric mixer till soft. Add the flavoring and season with salt and pepper before beating to a soft, whipped texture. Transfer to a piece of waxed paper or film wrap, shape into a tight roll and refrigerate until firm. When ready, just take out and slice into pats.

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