Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Coffee brandy ice cream float

Want to go down memory lane with me? Close your eyes and come with me, on a trip down memory lane to the place where red and white checked dreams come true. Many of us from the older generation can remember going to the local soda fountain for a burger and a shake or to have a burger and fries after school.

Many were decorated with red bar stools and black and white floors and if you were lucky enough those miniature juke boxes just ready for you to plunk your coins in to listen, while you waited for your orders. Two plays for a quarter no less that featured old 45's that I know I haven't heard in years. Our local soda fountain was in the 'square' of town, in a corner drugstore--Halls Drug.

Every afternoon as school let out Mr Hall readied for the slew of kids that would be pushing their way into his store just about 3 o'clock every weekday afternoon. Two of my favorite items were lime rickey's and rootbeer floats. It's funny the way our minds sometimes work-- remembering the little things, we sometimes can recall from back in those good old days. One thing that stands out in my mind was looking down the row of spinning bar stools to see so many pairs of dangling saddle shoes and poodle skirts swirling around. You do remember saddle shoes don't you? Nope, they weren't specialty fit shoes for the equestrians. And also how Mr Hall would always serve your orders--first he'd re-wipe off the counter in front of your seat, and then neatly place a paper napkin followed by your order placed on top. He was such a quiet, yet sweet old gent who seldom forgot to ask 'would you like 'jimmies' on top' regardless of whether you ordered a milk shake, ice cream soda, or banana split! It was just one of his little quirks.

Many of the great recipes for our best frozen confections have been lost to us and, since I just love ice cream, and just made a new batch of coffee brandy a few weeks ago, I decided to try a new twist on an old favorite-- So this is my recapture the nostalgic flavor of childhood but with a grownups-only version of the root beer float. With the heat wave we've all been having this past week, this was a deliciously thirst quenching treat. Don't forget to put a scoop of your fave ice cream on top before serving and cool off! Autumn's just around the corner.

Coffee Brandy Ice Cream Float

* ¼ cup of milk
* 3 TBLS coffee brandy - recipe follows
* 1 scoop coffee ice cream
* club soda

Mix milk and coffee brandy together in a tall glass. Then pour club soda over top to fill the glass about ¾ of the glass full, and then top off with a scoop of coffee ice cream & cool off! Enjoy.

Homemade Coffee Brandy

3 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar

Bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes.

1/2 cup instant coffee - I used Colombian
1/2 cup boiling water

Dissolve and add it to the above mixture.

Cool all and pour into a half gallon canning jar. Then add 2 bourbon vanilla beans split lengthwise, and 3 cups of brandy and 1/4 cup quality vodka. Cover and store in a cool cupboard 3-4 weeks.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chicken Marsala

This is one of my favorite chicken dishes, and one I make often, it seems we never tire of it. It’s quick enough to whip up on a weeknight, and always a hit when served to dinner guests. So if you need a dish that looks like you've been slaving in a hot kitchen all afternoon, give this a try-- it's just wonderful.

The best part for me is the mushrooms - they absorb all the flavor from the marsala wine and delicately rich sauce. I served this with Jamie Oliver's recipe for chilled roasted vegetable farro salad. The salad was very flavorful, but I couldn't get past the coldness - so I warmed it up a bit before serving.

If you don't have any Marsala wine on hand, and need to pick some up, just be certain of two things -- You don’t need anything too expensive, and make sure it’s just regular dry Marsala wine, and not Sweet Marsala, a desert wine, and too sweet for this dish. This same recipe can also be made the with veal cutlets with very nice results.

Chicken Marsala

1/4 cup flour
4 boned & skinless chicken breast, pounded flat-- cut into medalians
sea salt and white pepper
1 TBLS butter
2 TBLS olive oil
2 oz of dry Marsala wine
3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chicken stock
juice of half a fresh lemon
1 TBLS fresh parsley, minced

Season the flour with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge the chicken medalians with seasoned flour. Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium size skillet. Place the chicken pieces in the pan and brown on both sides. Once browned remove from pan and set aside.

Add the Marsala wine to your pan and gently bring it to a boil. Add the chicken broth, lemon juice and stir in the sliced mushrooms. Lower the heat and cook for about 10 minutes reducing the sauce. Return the cooked chicken medalians to the pan and spoon over the Marsala sauce. Cook for five minutes more on each side until warmed through. Sprinkle on some fresh parsley and serve with roasted vegetable farro salad or over linguini or pasta of choice Enjoy!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wild Blueberry Cobbler

High bush blueberry season has gone by. Peach season is flourishing and now our wild blueberries are turning up on most of the northern routes. We are simply wild about Maine wild blueberries. There's something so special about these gorgeous berries that clearly sets them apart from any other crop. Add to that their status as nature's number one antioxidant, their incredible nutritional value, and their ability to help in the prevention of cancer. Pretty impressive yes? But for us, even moreso, is the fact that 90 percent of the wild blueberry crops harvested each year in the USA comes from our home state of Maine. And because our wild blueberries have become so popular, this adds up to approximately 30 million pounds of blueberries a year. Even more impressive!

Wild blueberries aren't planted as high bush berries. Rather, the fields and barrens where they thrive here in our pinetree state, are carefully managed to encourage the plants to grow in a healthy sustainable fashion. Many suggest that our acidic soil and harsh winters that prevail here in Maine, where the land is wild and generally inaccessible, where the winter temperatures can dip down as low as -30 and the ground too acidic for most plants to thrive, all may be part of the reason that they are so rich in the natural chemicals that provide the health benefits associated with the fruit. Wild blueberries aren't farmed in the traditional way, the bushes simply grow where nature takes them -- and up north they are even still picked in a traditional way as well, by hand. Whatever the reason is, we think they are simply the berries!

Last week we went up to Machias and Blue Hill area of Maine and then down to Booth Bay Harbor, ending up in Pemaquid Point. You can always tell it's August in our neck of the woods -- you can smell the berries in the air. Blueberry farms galore! Along the roadsides you'll find literally hundreds of vendors selling fresh berries. We stopped by one and I picked up a bushel basket to freeze for winter baking along with morning cereals. The nicest thing about these delicious morsels is that wild blueberries, as opposed to highbush berries never lose any of their punch. All that healthy goodness remains in the berries as though you were eating freshly picked.
So the next time you are pouring your morning cereal into a bowl, be sure to add a handful of our naturally healthy and so so scrumptious wild blueberries. Or add some to your favorite blueberry cobbler. Here's a family recipe that's been around longer than I can recall -- my Grandma's Wild Blueberry Cobbler.

Grandma's Wild Blueberry Cobbler

Mix together:
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 egg

Stir in 1/2 cup whole milk

Sift together:
2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

2 cups wild blueberries -- washed & drained
sugar, cinnamon powder, flour

Gently mix with egg mixture. Set aside 1/3 batter to use as topping. Spread the batter into a greased and floured 9 inch square baking dish. Fold in 2 cups washed & drained wild blueberries that have been tossed with sugar, cinnamon and 2 TBLS of flour. Dot blueberry layer with four pads of butter and scoop remaining reserved batter in pieces and sprinkle the top. Dust the top with 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon. Bake cobbler 35-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven until browned on top and blueberries just beginning to burst open. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream. Enjoy!

Pemaquid Lighthouse