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Wednesday, 06 February 2013 15:33

Another Yankee cook

My very good friend, Heather Atwood, is a food columnist for the Gloucester Times in Massachusetts and a great cook. She has a popular website called Food for Thought filled with simple recipes that have a bit of flair. One such dish caught my eye and upon giving her a call, she told me she would be delighted if I shared with my readers up here in Maine. This pork stew is easy to prepare, with a nice tangy sauce that matches perfectly with pork. 

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 06 June 2012 16:41

Simply Caribbean

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!

Published in The Cooking Edge
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 16:01

Vinegar the alternative cleaner?!?

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.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Friday, 25 May 2012 08:23

Not your momma's pesto

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.

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, 02 May 2012 22:44

Something old, something new

While I was going through my cupboards the other day, I noticed I still had some molasses hidden behind that cylindrical box of oatmeal that's been up there just as long.(You know what I'm talking about, admit it). Although I knew that it would still be good, even after two years, I glanced it over nonetheless. Yup! Still good. Now before you start chastising me, remember that molasses, along with honey, stays edible for so long because of its sugar content. The sucrose inhibits bacterial growth. I don't want to tell everyone to be as cheap as I am, but I can't help it, it's the Yankee in me. Now what to do with it...? Got it! One of the messiest, delectable and comforting summer foods imaginable: pulled pork. Never heard of a pulled pork recipe using molasses? Then why don't we just call it -

Published in The Cooking Edge
Thursday, 26 April 2012 12:31

Must-haves in the kitchen

Recently I posted a video on YouTube dealing with gravies. Since then I have received so many requests for a list of spices and herbs that you should keep in your kitchen, I made another video dealing with just that. This week's article will address that as well. I think because so many people are marinating steaks and chicken, they want to know what to keep on hand. So here is my list - not only for this summer's grilling and marinades, but for the holidays as well.

Ground cumin - Native to the Mediterranean, this is the second most popular spice (behind pepper) in the world. Most commonly used in the cuisines of Brazil, Texas and Mexico.

Basil - Commonly known for Italian cuisine, but very popular in Asian cooking as well. Oddly absent in India, where it originated.

Cinnamon - Used in both sweet and savory dishes, this pungent yet sweet spice was what Moses was commanded to put in anointing water, believe it or not.

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
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:19

Making your own pasta

Nah, I wouldn't do that to you nice folks. I am, however, going to give you some recipes that combine vibrant spring colors with freshness that will remind you that spring is here. These quick, delicious and beautiful pasta dishes are great to look at and have that spring zing in taste.

Published in The Cooking Edge
Thursday, 08 March 2012 13:44

A second helping of vegetables

I am continuing last week's article on vegetables because of the past few wintery months, during which many of us have become couch potatoes. If we aren't going to get off that couch, then the least we can do is put something nutritionally valuable into our system. I am adding some flavor and depth into our vegetable dishes this week, so I do hope you enjoy.

Published in The Cooking Edge

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