Wednesday, 26 September 2012 18:51

Which is better?

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.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 21:02

What am I doing wrong?

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).

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 16:27

When was the last time?

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.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 16:19

Eric Furry and his books

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.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 15:25

Is it apple season yet?

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...

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 22:42

Skinny! Skinny! Skinny!

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...

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 21:45

I just had to do it

Here it is almost the middle of summer, and I am enjoying a dish that should be cooked in the snappy air of winter. Having taken the kids to the fair, all I could smell was sausages, simmering inside that crispy, grilled casing and the aroma of spices just beckoning me. I didn't end up getting a sausage for the first time in eons, but I did bring my appetite for sausages home with me. It wasn't terribly hot out so I ran to Bean's and got some chicken sausage, stopped at the store and picked up the rest, and I was in my glory making

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 16:52

Fix it, forget it and fall asleep

I just so happen to know quite a bit about French toast. Being a genealogist, I traced my line back many many centuries. While doing so, I researched food during each century wherever my ancestors happened to have been living at the time. Looking at my notes, I found that French toast (as we know it today, using eggs) wasn't mentioned in any text until the early 14th century. This was in French Normandy, where it was referred to as tostees dorees. Guillaume Tirel, the chief cook of King Charles V of France, wrote that you were to toast bread first, then glaze it with egg yolks and sugar. Put them in hot grease, sprinkle with sugar and cook until done. This recipe is far more delightfully tasty, and you make it at night, go to bed and wake up, only to pop it in the oven.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 16:57

The blessing of the fleet

A tradition of over 35 years, Rhode Island has honored its coastline laborers with a weekend-long event including a road race, seafood festival and diverse festivities on the weekend of July 28. Held in Galilee, it coincides with another fervently held tradition: drinking coffee milk. You think we Mainers are stubborn about how our lobster and chowder should be enjoyed? Ha! Rhode Islanders have been steadfast in how they make their coffee milk. Many believe that only Eclipse syrup should be used, while others think that Autocrat Coffee syrup is the only way to go, even though Autocrat bought out Eclipse in 1991. In 1993, the state senate even approved coffee milk as the official state drink of Rhode Island.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 18 July 2012 16:34

Disney's Pixar and The Yankee Chef?!

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.

Published in The Cooking Edge
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