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Showing posts from September, 2010

Not Your Normal Potato Recipe

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I was a picky eater as a child. Turnip? Cauliflower? Parsnips? No way! Plain simple mashed potatoes were a favorite, especially Memere's. Always light, fluffy and very tasty – never pasty or clumpy. I loved Memere's potatoes. What I didn't know was she was feeding me turnip.

Turnip-potato casserole comes from French-Canadian cuisine. Those fur traders had to survive harsh winters and found lots of ways to gussy up their boring winter provisions. I substitute cauliflower in the early fall when local veggies are plentiful and switch to the traditional turnip when the weather turns freezing.

I'm a very lucky cook, a member of a true melting pot American household. French, Italian, Polish and a touch more of this and that -- the hardest part when it comes to whipping up family favorites is to decide which part of the family!

WONDERFUL WHIPPERS
1 head cauliflower, chopped
4 parsnips - peeled and diced
2 medium white potatoes - peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon butter or ma…

Note from Red Sox Nation

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OK, so what if they're out of it unless they win every single game left in the baseball season. This is Red Sox nation, and the game is on TV so guess what we're doing tonight? The Sox are playing for nothing but pride and we're damned proud of 'em.

Drinking red martinis and snacking on perfect rosy cold-cooked shrimp dipped in spicy red cocktail sauce while we root for our team. Hell, it's all tied up at the end of three … time for another red martini for me and the drunk guy sitting next to me on the couch.  As for the rest of you: Just wait until next year!

Update: Despite a late inning 2 run homer by Victor Martinez and what looked like a rally in the 9th, the Red Sox lost to the Blue Jays: 11-9. Oh well.

RED CANDIED APPLE MARTINI
2 fluid ounces pear vodka
2 fluid ounces sour apple schnapps (such as DeKuyper® Sour Apple Pucker)
2 fluid ounces cranberry juice

Pour the pear vodka, apple schnapps, and cranberry juice into a cocktail shaker over ice. Cover, and sha…

Maine: New England's Potato State

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Next week, the only multi-state agricultural fair in the United States will open in West Springfield, MA. The Big E is billed as "New England's Great State Fair" -- it's the sixth largest agricultural fair in the nation and the largest in New England. Each state has a small-scale replica of their state capital on the Avenue of States.

The star attraction? Food.

Vermont has maple syrup, Ben and Jerry's ice cream and lots of cheese. Rhode Island offers clam fritters and Massachusetts' apple pie washed down with, of course, cranberry juice. Connecticut has Italian ice and New Hampshire's chocolate fudge is amazing. Then there's Maine -- the building everyone flocks to. Sure, they have lobster rolls. But it's Maine baked potatoes (move over, Idaho!) that draws hordes willing to wait in long lines for a taste of hot, buttered, sour-creamed spuds.

Did I mention they weigh at least a pound each?

What about the leftovers? Ugh. I can't count how many…

Best Butter Crust Ever

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This crust recipe is worthy of the best French chef -- the simplest ingredients using a complicated technique that delivers scrumptious results. From fussy Frangipane with pears (full recipe below) to fresh berries glazed with seedless jam (microwave the jam a minute before brushing it over the berries piled in the perfectly baked crust).

Cooked chocolate pudding (make it dark chocolate) also makes a yummy filling. Add a dollop of whipped cream. Not exactly on the low-cal diet menu but I guarantee your family will be in awe!

BUTTER SHORTBREAD TART CRUST
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
dash of salt
1 stick very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in — mixture will be the size of baby peas. Whisk the yolk in a small bowl before adding it a little at a time, pul…

Applesauce!

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Only one ingredient matters when making applesauce. Pick sweet apples like Gala Fuji, McIntosh or Honeycrisp – forget Granny Smith's. They make great pie but sour applesauce. Use at least two different varieties. I have McIntosh apples and Bartlett pears from our own trees so I add a pear or two instead of a second variety of apple to enhance taste. I didn't need to add any sugar.

You can pick your own, or buy them at an orchard or grocery store. Here in western Massachusetts, the UMass Cold Spring Orchard reasearch and education facility sells all kinds of apples. If you are buying your apples from a commercial orchard, ask for "seconds" or "drops". Apples with a bruise or odd shape make great sauce and cost less than perfect apples. Not all orchards sell "seconds", but they're a bargain when you can get them. A half bushel of apples will yield about 12 pints of sauce.

Get the jars ready before you start cooking the apples. The dishwasher is…

Love Me Tender Beef Roast

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Not long after Farmer Paul and I said "I do" I tried and failed to make a proper beef roast. I underestimated how long it should cook based on a cookbook which said 20 minutes per pound. The next try, I overestimated and the result was more like bland beef jerky than a pink juicy roast. It wasn't until my mother-in-law bought me one that I realized that what I was missing was a good quality thermometer.

Boneless ribeye roast was on sale this week and today was just cool enough an afternoon to turn on the oven. A few simple ingredients and armed with your own trusty meat thermomenter, the result will be tender, juicy prime beef every time.

SUNDAY SPECIAL ROAST BEEF
One 3-4 pound boneless rib roast
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, finely grated

To cook evenly, the roast must not be cold - let it stand at room temperature, loosely covered, for one hour. If you don't let the roast sit…