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Wednesday, 11 July 2012 13:14

Boy did I screw up!

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.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 16:11

Finger lickin'

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.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Thursday, 28 June 2012 07:20

Dressed up dogs

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.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Thursday, 21 June 2012 07:41

Finally!

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.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 18:00

Flavored butters

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.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 14:12

The second Yankee Chef

My father, Jack Bailey, was the second Yankee Chef (with his father being the first), and his birthday is May 10. He would have been 74 years of age this year. I remember well the types of food he adored, and one of them was pork chops. Didn't matter how they were cooked, bone-in pork chops were his favorite. He also enjoyed any recipe that screamed New England, using ingredients such as blueberries, molasses, fiddleheads, maple syrup and apple cider. Because his salt intake was limited, he used pepper extensively on his chops and steaks, which he always loved anyway. He also had an affinity for sweet potatoes and yams. Dad would smother every meat he cooked with grilled onions, a habit I proudly continue. Dad would have thoroughly enjoyed this week's recipe, created with him in mind, because I use bone-in chops along with apple cider and a few fixin's he would have loved. I think you will love it too.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 11 April 2012 20:27

I really REALLY hate capers!

There are very few foods that I just plain hate, and capers is one of them. I could have won any episode of 'Fear Factor' because there was (and is) nothing I wouldn't have eaten for money. I mean, worms? Forget about it. Intestines? Again, I wouldn't give it a second thought. But as odd as it sounds, I have the dry heaves when I think of olives, I don't even like being in the same room as capers, and when cottage cheese comes a-knockin', I run out the back door. But as any good chef, I do taste my food, even when those items are involved. But even with their lemony flavor (a taste I adore by the way), I still can't do it. I won't tell you what happens afterwards, though.

Now that I have whetted your appetite, let me give you a recipe that truly ties two flavors together very well. Cod is usually served with parsley sauce, but cod and capers really do accent each other well. I am altering my original recipe to fit the outdoor grill, so you can clip and save if you like. Me? I don't want to see it in print again!

Published in The Cooking Edge
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