Monday, April 28, 2008

Chicken Piccata II

Yesterday we said goodbye to our farm in NH :( but before we left I dug up close to 100 perennials, culinary herbs and medicinals, to go into my new perennial gardens in Maine. After digging for over five hours and then heading back up north I just wanted to make a quickie type dinner.. so piccata it was. I'm kind of torn between this version and an earlier version I've posted.. this one is a bit quicker to prepare and equally as good!

4 medium chicken breasts, boned & cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 cup flour
1/3 tsp paprika
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 TBLS olive oil
2-4 TBLS dry Madeira wine
3 TBLS fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup minced parsley

Mix together flour, paprika, salt & pepper. Place in a paper bag. Add cut up chicken pieces, a few at a time. Shake well until pieces are well coated with flour mixture. Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet. Saute' chicken about 4 minutes on each side. Don't overcook it. Remove chicken, drain on paper towel and keep warm. Drain off all but 2 TBLS of butter & olive oil and stir wine into drippings, scraping the bottom of pan to loosen up any brown bits. Add lemon juice and heat briefly. Return the chicken to pan and heat, until sauce thickens. Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Serve with angel hair pasta or linguini.. easy, quick and best of all, yummy. Enjoy!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Climb for Breast Cancer

My daughter is a cancer researcher and July 7th she will cimb Mt Ranier as a challenge to support breast cancer and lymphoma research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. We are so proud of her and that she has exceeded her goal! Thanks so much for all your donations. She has determination and we know she will need the inner strength and endurance to accomplish this difficult, but so rewarding effort. I just know she'll do great...and just think of the long-range benefits that her goal will mean to so many cancer patients and their families. Take a moment to view her challenge please! Thanks

Hooray! Fiddleheads

After two weeks of fast foods (*yuck)due to this endless move.. my kitchen is finally getting back to order and after many months of serving root vegetables, the spring fiddlehead is a welcomed change and absolutely delicious! As May Day is my birthday, I decided to celebrate with an early birthday present to myself :o).. a big bowl of steamed & sauteed fiddleheads with fresh lemon & butter.

One of the finest spring greens and New England delicacy. Fiddleheads are the curled up wild shoots of the ostrich fern, resembling the head of a violin and flavour similar to asparagus & almonds. They are harvested in northern Maine, usually in early spring for two to three weeks. They are rich in Vit C & are extremely tasty... and a true sign that spring is really here. I like them because they are low in sodium yet high in potassium, so are a good source of fibre and appropriate for low salt diets. When fresh are not available, they are available frozen... but yucky to me LOL You can add them to any dish that requires vegetables...
in soups, stews, quiche, over linguini, salads and omelettes or simply steam and top with butter & lemon, hollandaise or vinaigrette. I really enjoy adding some grated kohlrabi to my fiddlehead dishes.

I like to make pasta primavera w/ fiddleheads..or fiddlehead quiche or fiddlehead lemon/rice soup.. or just sautee them in olive, shallots, baby bella mushrooms & merlot we just love' em around here as much as fresh asparagus!

I belong to a cooking group & monthly we go around to members homes for dinners. This month is my turn, a Spring theme.. so I am making stuffed flounder with sauteed fiddleheads/asapragus & baby carrots with crumbs.. rolled up the fish filets.. & tied with scallions..yum!

Here are a couple of my favorite fiddlehead recipes. Enjoy!

Sauteed Fiddleheads

1 pound fiddleheads, rinsed well and brown ends cut off
1 large clove of garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
Juice of a lemon
Salt & pepper to taste
Mushrooms - opt
Broccoli - opt

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil over high heat.

Blanch the fiddleheads (cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes). This really brings out the green and leeches out the bitterness. Scoop out fiddleheads, using a slotted spoon and put them in the bowl cold water for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
Now heat olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium high heat.Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds or so. Add fiddleheads and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice, salt and pepper and toss.

Fiddlehead Pasta Primavera

1 pound fiddleheads
1 pound asparagus cut in 2 inch pieces
1/4 cup butter & 1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced fine
2-4 minced shallots
cherry or roma tomatoes chopped
1/2 can chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
Rosemary, thyme, salt & ground pepper to taste

Blanche the cleaned, picked-over fiddleheads in a large pot of water for about 1 minute. Drain and rinse under coldwater. Heat the butter in a skillet and saute cut asparagus ( until just tender), garlic, shallots until aromatic but not browned. Add fiddleheads, cherry tomatoes & 1/2 can chicken broth and saute another 1 to 2minutes. Season with lemon juice , and serve immediately over linguini or angelhair pasta.

Down East Fiddlehead Souffle

3 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter (or margarine)
1 cup milk
4 eggs, separated
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 lb fiddleheads- par boiled & drained well
2 tablespoons buttered bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375 F. Make a white sauce (melt butter with flour and
slowly stir in milk), then beat in egg yolks one at a time. Add grated cheese,
3/4 teaspoon of salt~ and set aside. Beat the egg whites and add cream of
tartar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Add Worcestershire sauce. Fold egg whites into egg yolk mixture. Gently fold in warm fiddleheads and place mixture in a lightly greased 6-cup mold or souffle dish. Top with buttered bread crumbs and bake 25 to 30 minutes.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Lemon Saffron Risotto

Spring has finally made it's appearance in southern Maine, so I took full advantage of mother nature's sunny day and did some outdoor garden cleanup and raking. The daffodils, croccus and tulips were hiding snuggled under all mulched beds! It'll be great to see colorful openings next week.

After cleaning out the potting shed.. I moved the grill out next to prepare last night's dinner.. lemon rosemary grilled chicken with some springtime Lemon Saffron Risotto. I really enjoy the lightness of this risotto, and goes well with chicken fish or pork.. or all by itself! :o)

Lemon Saffron Risotto

1/2 cup grated whole almonds
2 lemons
2 carrots, roughly grated
4 TBLS no salt butter
1 shallot, diced fine
1/4 cup spring baby peas
1 1/2 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 qt vegetable broth.. kept warm in separate pan
1/4 tsp powdered saffron
3 TBLS grated Parmesan cheese
chopped scallions, optional
sea salt & ground pepper to taste

Grate up almonds & set aside. Zest only the yellow part of the lemon's rind and set aside. Grate carrots roughly.
Put 2 TBLS of the butter in heavy pot and sautee shallots until just soft. Add the rice and sautee until transluscent, stirring all the while to prevent it from sticking. Stir in the wine, and grated lemon zest once the wine has evaporated. Add a ladleful of warmed vegetable broth. Stir it constantly and continue adding broth as it is absorbed for 10 minutes. Add the grated carrots,almonds, spring peas and saffron. Cover pot and continue cooking on low until rice is done. Stir in the rest of butter and parmesan cheese. Season with salt & pepper and serve and chopped scallions and serve. Enjoy!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Tuscan Garden.. Tomato & Basil

I had been busily working in the greenhouse transplanting all the basil seedlings, when my mind began wandering... I've been working for weeks on a new 'Garden Collection' line of soaps and stumped on the last two of the varieties I will offer at this years Farmer's Market. As I plugged along, it finally came to me!

What staple of the Tuscan Kitchen embodies the summer sun more.. tomato & basil! Bright and 'green' with just a touch of ripened tomatoes. It will be strong, earthy, deeply herbal, basil will simply add to it's green bouquet and sweet sensuality that clearly will round out my Garden Collection beautifully! Can you tell I am head over heels over basil? Genovese, sweet, Thai, ruby red.. this year I've added lemon basil to my list. Ayup, clearly head over heels! :o) And there, sitting right next to my basil plantings were cucumber seedlings.. finito! So the complete line will now include Pumpkin Mousse, Herb Garden, Carrot Patch, A Slice of Summer.. Cucumber and Tuscan Garden.. Tomato & Basil. I'm so psyched! Remarkable how much you can get accomplished working in the greenhouse LOL And even moreso, the appetite you can work up.

So in honor of a very fruitful day in the greenhouse and the fact that I had put on a pot of basil marinara sauce thankfully early in the day.. supper was decided upon.

The sauce...

1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, smashed & chopped
2 - 32 oz cans whole plum Italian tomatoes - crush them up with your hands
1 small can of crushed Italian tomatoes
1 TBLS each- fresh parsley & fresh basil
white pepper and a bit of ground sea salt
2 oz Pinot Grigio white wine

Saute your garlic in olive oil until lightly browned, add your herbs next.. sauteeing for only a minute or two. Add your hand crushed whole plum tomatoes, crushed tomatoes and wine next and stir pot well once.. bring it all to a gently boil, and then reduce heat to the lowest simmer. Continue simmering for an hour or so, until your sauce has thicken up and reduced. Try not to stir often.. you will want this sauce to be thick and chunky.

The shells filling...

20 oz Ricotta (whole milk) cheese
6 oz mozzarella cheese
2 oz asiago shredded cheese
handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup fresh spinach leaves, torn

Cook your large shells al dente.. fill with spinach ricotta ... ladle basil marinara sauce over all...a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella & pop into the oven for 45 minutes. Enjoy!

PS.. Oops, I almost forgot..

It kind of brings a whole new meaning to 'washing your mouth out with soap' now! LOL

Friday, April 4, 2008

New England Fish Chowder

There are so many 'authentic' New England chowder recipes, but to us Maineiacs the essentials of a really nice fish chowder seldom change.. a bit of onion, celery, potatoes, salt pork, fish stock, milk with a dab of butter, a bit of cream and fresh parsley to finish it off. You shouldn't be able to stand a spoon up in a traditional fish chowder, as any New England cook will attest. No flour, constarch, agar need be added. The thickener in this chowder comes from the cream and potato starch, leaving you with a broth that is slightly thicker than milk, and one that captures the delicious fresh fish flavor than overwhelm it with a flour based thickener

Most Mainers are pretty partial to haddock and I'd have to agree. It's well suited to fish chowder with it's wonderful flavor and perfect texture that breaks up nicely into larger chunks in the soup. I will oftentimes use a mix of white fish of cod, cusp, scrod or even flounder to my haddock base.

Chowders also improve with a bit of a rest. I like to make my chowder early in the day, cover and gently rewarmed just before serving. It's a great dish, made with few ingredients and generally served with common soda crackers, oyster crackers or a nice crusty bread. Enjoy!

1 1/2 lb fresh haddock
1/2 lb total.. cod,scrod,cusp or flounder
1/4 cup cubed salt pork or 5 slices bacon, roughly cut
1 small onion, diced
2 celery stalks diced
6 medium potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup clam juice or fish stock
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 pads butter
sea salt, ground pepper to taste
1 TBLS fresh parsley

In a stockpot over medium heat cook the salt pork or bacon until lightly browned. Add onion, celery and cook until the celery is just barely soft. Add potatoes, clam juice or fish stock and enough water to cover potatoes by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cooking for 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and at very light simmer add the milk and cream.. stir well.. then place your cut up haddock, fish filets gently on top, Cover pot and simmer for 15 minutes or until fish is opaque and flakes easily. Add sea salt, ground pepper and two pads of butter. Stir up pot once and allow chowder to rest before serving.