Archive for May, 2013

Pompadour Pudding

Sunday, May 26th, 2013


Warm vanilla custard comically sporting a chocolate mousse topping, Pompadour pudding is like the inverse of molten chocolate cake, that chocolate cake with a gooey center that defined dessert in the 1990’s.

Wellesley College alums online wax nostalgically about Pompadour Pudding’s warm-from-the-oven’s charms; it seems to have been the girls’ favorite dining hall dessert in 1950.  According to the combination of oooooh’s, WOW!’s, and “what IS this?!” that Pompadour Pudding inspired around my dining table on Saturday night, I predict it to be the next “it” dessert.



As retro as the hairstyle for which it’s named, Pompadour Pudding stands poised for a revival.

My neighbor, Heath Ritchie, carefully demonstrated his Pompadour techniques in my kitchen.  (Custard already made.  Beat egg whites.  Fold into melted chocolate.  Top custard with mousse.  Place cups in a hot water bath.  Bake for 10 minutes.)


Heath grew up in Rockport, lived an urban life in Somerville for a while, and has now returned to Cape Ann to declare a stone cottage and three acres of old gardens his and and his wife Heather’s home, along with their dog Rosie and a hive of bees.

Heath’s Pompadour Pudding history begins with Rockport’s Seaward Inn, owned by the Cameron family from 1945; their daughter still runs it today.  Ann Cameron, who claims her recipes are all adapted from those favorites friends sent her over the years, managed the dining room, considered for years a fine restaurant to locals and visitors in Rockport.  Maybe one of those friends was a Wellesley graduate?  Cameron thankfully assembled a cookbook of Seaward Inn dishes entitled, Pierre Tells All!  The Cooks‘ Book.  The cookbook is still a favorite in the community, and can be found online and in old bookstores.

One of the things I love about Heath is that he’s a little like a Pompadour pudding.  Like the thin, crisp shell that forms when the chocolate mousse is baked, Heath has a crisp covering, too;  he’s a pseudo crank about anything he sees as remotely “popular.”  (Heath recently left a strong finance career to learn Ruby, the computer language of the start-up.)  Beneath that thin veneer of dispassion, Heath is sweet and warm about Rockport, his wife’s cooking, bee-keeping, beating egg whites in his own copper bowl, his nieces and nephews – the list is long of things that make a bright, boyish smile suddenly triumph across his willfully serious beard.

Thank you, Heath, for introducing me to the layered charms of Pompadour Pudding.


Pompadour Pudding

serves 4


1 square melted chocolate

2 tablespoons milk

6 tablespoons sugar + 1/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups milk

2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 egg whites


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

To make the topping, in a small saucepan blend together the square of melted chocolate, milk, and 6 tablespoons sugar.  Set aside to cool.

To make the custard, in the top of a double boiler, combine using a wire whisk 1/3 cup sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and the cornstarch.  Add gradually 2 cups milk and 2 egg yolks.  Cook over boilling water for 10 minutes, or until thickened, stirring constantly.  Add the vanilla.  Fill 6 custard cups two-thirds full.

To finish the topping beat 2 egg whites until stiff.  Fold a small bit of egg white into the melted chocolate mixture to make it “fluffy.”  Then fold all of the chocolate mixture back into the beaten egg whites.  Fold lightly to combine.

Top each custard with evenly divided chocolate mixture.  Set cups in a glass baking dish, and fill the dish with water 2/3 up the sides of the custard cups.  Bake about 20 minutes or until the topping puffs and cracks a little.

Saima Natti Hancock’s Kala Kukko

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013



Kala kukko is what wives in the Savo region of Finland pack for their husbands’ lunch.  It’s so definitively Finnish that the European Union has added kala kukko to its “Protected Designation of Origin” list.  It is to the Savo region of Finland what Parmigiano Reggiano is to Parma.

Kala kukko is “fish in bread,” specifically a large loaf of warm rye bread in which is baked some kind of fish – from perch to salmon – with a bit of bacon. (the Finns use salt pork.)  Some recipes I found bake the loaves for 4 – 5 hours at a low temperature;  any fish bones melt away, and the interior bacon-draped fish is still piping hot by noon, when that hard-working Finnish husband cuts into it for lunch.  Traditionally, the top of the loaf was cut off and eaten separately with butter, leaving a “bread bowl” of fish inside –  just like Panera!


I’m always scanning community cookbooks for familiar names; the names that thread through this book are Bistema, Poli, Olsen, Nikola, Finnish sir-names I’ve heard mentioned in my neighborhood.

One of the most interesting recipes in the book, kala kukko, stood out not just as unusual, but as the lone contribution of Saima Natti Hancock.

Saima Hancock, wife of the nationally renowned sculptor Walker Hancock, grew up in Lanesville, the village at the northern tip of Gloucester.  Saima was number three of twelve Natti children.  According to her daughter Deanie Hancock French, Saima’s older brothers first befriended the sculptor Hancock, and never intended to share him.  They seemed to have wanted to keep the gentle, talented man to themselves.  Walker met Saima eventually, and the two maintained what Deanie says was the longest courtship ever, fourteen years.  Roger Edsel, in Monuments Men, the story of Hancock’s and others’ successful efforts to save troves of European masterpieces stolen by the Nazis, describes Saima as Hancock’s  “great love.”



Saima Natti Hancock died almost thirty years ago, but she has fascinated me ever since I moved to this village, and began to understand the closely knit community of artists and Finns here.  Saima, to me, is the person who must have perfectly – if not sometimes painfully – bridged the two cultures.  While her brothers could enjoy Walker as a brilliant sculptor living among them, being their friend, it was Saima who needed to leave her familiar Lanesville and stand beside Walker with some of the world’s most prominent people.  Deanie tells a wonderful story that describes a familiar moment in any marriage but one probably repeated often in the Hancock’s:

When my mother and father were first married, they were going to a party at a very wealthy family, the Sinclairs.  On the way my father kept saying to my mother, ‘don’t say this or that.’  Saima finally said, ‘you don’t need to tell me what to say, Walker!’ and refused to get out of the car until  he apologized.

Saima apparently loved clothes and design; shopping for new outfits was one of her favorite pastimes.  She had wanted to study interior design, but the depression changed that course.  Instead Saima attended Wheelock College and taught kindergarten in New Jersey.

When I asked Deanie to describe her mother and her mother’s cooking, she said this:

Actually, I don’t remember her cooking very many Finnish recipes, outside

of nisu, but she made coffee by putting grounds directly in the water,

bringing it to a boil, and then removing it immediately from the heat.

Strong stuff.

She had a very whimsical sense of humor; we laughed a lot.

Every summer of my childhood we swam together in the small

pit in our backyard.  We loved blueberry picking together, singing

Finnish songs, sitting on the rocks at Folly Cove. I have a photo of

her swishing me around in Folly Cove water when I was a baby.

She loved Folly Cove more than just about anyplace…had swan dived

off the high cliffs as a teenager.  She had a natural grace about her, a completely natural dignity.  

But, also, she was the dragon at the gate for my father’s sake, trying to keep visitors at

bay while he worked at the studio.


Of Saima’s kala kukko Deanie says, “Kala kukko was not a staple in our diet.  I only remember having it a couple of times, and can’t think of the occasion.  But I do remember it was good.”

From a blog on Finnish foods I found this:  “One of the most important aspects of the kala kukko experience is arguing with your friends or neighbors about them. The argument should concern things such as which fish makes the best filling, the best way to eat them, serving temperature and so on. You must form strong opinions about kala kukko and tell them to the world. It really doesn’t matter if someone wants to hear them or not.”



Tucked behind St. Mary’s church in Rockport is a Meditation Garden, in which stands a tender Hancock sculpture, “Christ the Good Shepherd,” in memory of Saima Natti Hancock.


Saima Natti Hancock’s Kala Kukko


makes one loaf, serves 6




1 package of yeast

2 cups warm water

3/4 pound rye flour

white flour as needed

1 teaspoon salt

1 pound cod or salmon

3 slices crisply cooked bacon

cornmeal for the baking sheet



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Add the rye flour and stir until smooth.  Let rise overnight in a warm place.

Stir in white flour and salt until batter becomes a firm dough.  Knead well, and let it rise again in a warm place.  Punch down dough, and knead into a loaf.  Let it rise again.

Pat dough out onto a floured board.  Lay fillet in the center of the dough.  Sprinkle lightly with salt.  Lay bacon strips down the fillet.  Fold in the edges of the dough, and then fold over the top and bottom to make a package.  Flip over the “dough package” so the seams are on the bottom.

Lay the dough on a cornmeal sprinkled baking sheet, and bake for 1 1/2 hours.  I find it best served in slices accompanied by a fresh salad.




strawberry rhubarb pie

Thursday, May 16th, 2013


We call her “the biscotti lady,” because Rosanne Leblanc makes soft, luxurious biscotti draped in chocolate, crowned in fresh nuts.  She also makes homemade turtles, little candy drifts of chocolate, caramel and nuts.  She does all this baking in a beautiful home in West Gloucester, the centerpiece of which is an enormous brick chimney harboring an old cast iron cookstove and a pizza oven.  Rosanne loves to cook;  her kitchen says it all.


Still, as of yesterday, I am changing her tag to “the strawberry rhubarb pie lady.”  LeBlanc served me a slice of this springtime classic which was the perfect balance of sweet to tart.  A streusel topping beneath the lattice top gave a nutty crunch, compliment to the unavoidable slippery feel of cooked rhubarb.

I’m wondering what her next title will be; I think she makes delicious granola bars – she might be “the granola bar lady” soon!



Rosanne’s biscotti and turtles can be purchased at Rosanne’s Biscottis.    While you’re visiting, check out her blog and video.



Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

makes 2 pies





4 cups peeled and cut rhubarb

1 1/2 cup sugar (divided)

4 cups strawberries, washed and cut

1/2 cup flour

2 teaspoons tapioca



2 cups old fashioned oatmeal

½ cup flour

½ cup  brown sugar

1/2 cup ground pecans

1/4 cup chopped pecans

½ cup  butter

½ cup  Crisco (more if needed)

½ teaspoon salt

1  teaspoon cinnamon

non-stick spray for the pie pan

1 pie crust recipe for the lattice tops

egg and sugar for the crust



Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and cut rhubarb.  Cook with about ½ c. sugar for about 5 minutes.

Wash and cut strawberries into large pieces.  Add to rhubarb.

Mix about ½ c. flour along with 1 c. sugar and 2 tsp. tapioca

Add fruit to this mixture.  Pour into two pie dishes sprayed with non-stick spray.

Mix together the topping ingredients with fingers until crumbly.

Sprinkle this over pies.


Cut your favorite pie crust recipe into strips and lattice over the whole pies.

Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with white sugar.  Bake for approximately 40 min.


Roast Chicken with Port and Orange

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013


I wrote about Alice B. Toklas chicken – roast chicken with port and orange –  after I returned from France last year.  After making this family favorite recently, I thought I need to sing it’s delicious and easy song once again.   It makes a stunning, elegant weeknight dinner; the only tricky ingredient is finding the 50 minutes it takes to cook.

Here’s an abridged version of the original post:

A really good thing to read if you have any interest in the gossipy stories about Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne and the circle of Bohemian painters Gertrude Stein collected is The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Toklas was Gertrude Stein’s life-time companion, an amused observer of the early-20th century Montmartre atelier scene, and a great cook.  (Stein wrote the book, but insisted “everything about it is Toklas except the authorship.”)

To read the Toklas autobiography is to learn that Matisse was virile, his wife not so much, but she made an excellent potted hare.

Fernande, Picasso’s deadly dull but gorgeous girlfriend, could only talk about makeup, dogs and hats.  This famously dolorous early Picasso lover is comically tolerated by both Gertrude Stein and Toklas.  Stein is always sending Toklas off to keep Fernande busy, so she and Picasso can talk about serious subjects.

Picasso always seems to be in a state of being driven out of his mind by Fernande’s vapidity, but is unable to abandon what a great model she is, or something else.  At one point Picasso has ended it with Fernande, but sets her up in an apartment on Montmartre, hoping she can give Americans French lessons to earn a living (and he can therefore quit supporting her.)  Stein believes if Fernande is ok than Pablo’s ok, so she sends Toklas off to be Fernande’s first student, first of two, ever.

About the residents of her adopted country, Toklas says, “the French are like their Bourbon Kings: they learn nothing; they forget nothing.”

Gertrude Stein died in 1946 at seventy-two.  Toklas died in 1967 at age 89.  While Stein had established a trust upon which Toklas could live, and they had shared their amassed collection of 27 Picassos, 7 Juan Grises, and Matisse, a legal battle prevented Toklas from accessing the collection.  She died penniless in a rented flat in Paris, supported by the generosity of friends.  In the New York Times obituary, James Beard wrote, “Alice was one of the really great cooks of all time.  She went all over Paris to find the right ingredients for her meals. She had endless specialities, but her chicken dishes were especially magnificent.”

This chicken roasted with oranges and port is a favorite in our home.  Go ahead and make it twice in a week because, as Toklas once wrote, “if perfection is good, more perfection is better.”



Roast Chicken with Port and Orange from Alice B. Toklas 

serves 4-6


1 medium-sized (about 3½ pounds) roasting chicken, preferably free-range


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ cup ruby port

½ cup orange juice

3 tablespoons heavy cream

Zest of 1 orange, grated

Salt and freshly ground black pepper



When you bring the chicken home from the market, unwrap it and sprinkle it generously with salt. Cover and refrigerate it until ready to cook. Bring the bird to room temperature before cooking. Do not rub off the salt.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large ovenproof skillet warm the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Brown the chicken breast side down, for 3 to 5 minutes then turn it over and brown the other side for 3 to 5 minutes.

Place the skillet in the oven and roast the chicken for 45 minutes. Pour the port over the chicken and baste it. Roast for 10 minutes more, than add the orange juice and baste again. Roast for about 5 minutes more. The chicken is done when the juices of the thigh run clear when pierced with the blade of a sharp knife, or when the thigh wiggles easily. Remove the chicken from the oven, transfer it to a cutting board, and let it rest as you make the sauce.

Skim as much fat off the top of the juices in the skillet as you can and discard. Place the skillet over medium heat and add the cream, stirring up the crispy bits on the bottom. Add about half the orange zest and allow the sauce to reduce as you stir constantly for a few minutes.

Carve the chicken and transfer it to a serving platter. Pour some of the sauce over the chicken and transfer the rest into a gravy boat or small pitcher and serve it at the table. Sprinkle the remaining orange zest over the chicken.

A beautiful centerpiece celebrating homework

Saturday, May 11th, 2013


This is how you set the table at a luncheon for mothers who, for the last six years of their children’s high school education, have been asking almost nightly,  “could you clear away your homework so we can sit down to dinner?”



Leslie Lyman recently gave this luncheon for seventeen mothers of high school seniors.      Her centerpiece was flowers and ribbons tumbling through not just the books our children have tackled these last six years but the notebooks, schedules, handouts, notecards, and ephemera, much of it not so pretty, that have decorated our kitchen tables much more often than a vase of tulips.



More than one mother wiped a tear from her eye at these familiar piles.  Thank you, Leslie, not just for the delicious lunch but for the sentiments.


Old Boyfriend Pie

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013



This is an old column I’m reprinting, because someone recently asked me for the recipe.  For the record, it is hands-down delicious, my daughter’s favorite meal.  Serve it hot or room temperature.  It can dress up or dress down.  Take it to the picnic or serve a warm wedge for an anniversary dinner, although in that case you should probably call it something different, not a time to revisit old boyfriends.


I was nineteen, wearing Laura Ashley dresses, red cowboy boots, and studying literature.  John, twenty, drove a small black pick-up truck and was studying architecture.  We were adorable.

We both loved old houses, beautiful sweaters, and good food.  I conquered him with homemade croissants, because those were the days I had nothing better to do but challenge myself with chilled butter and flour.  He made homemade ice cream, and collected antique ice cream molds.  For a few years John drove a tomato-red, 1930’s ambulance.  He took a photo of it, which he sent to me as that year’s valentine.

John and I broke up (a few times), but we ended up living down the street from each other in the North End of Boston for while, a time in which some of our best meals were initiated with a phone call:

“Hey, Heather, watcha’ got?  I’ve got two avocados, some mozzarella that better get eaten today, and farfalle.  And a beer.”

He would arrive at my apartment with said ingredients, and we’d put something together with the olive oil, escarole, shallot and figs that were my only provisions, embryonic moments of the Iron Chef.

Our shared aesthetic has never dulled.  We talk on the phone now, and he tells me how his espaliered pear trees are doing and I tell him about my asparagus bed and husk cherries.  We both named our daughters Isabelle.  One day, after not seeing each other for years, I ran into him on a Boston street and we were wearing the same Irish knit sweater.

When I told him I was writing a food column, he said, “Hey, I’ve got a great recipe!”

“Can you mail it to me?” For some reason I can’t imagine cyber-correspondence with John.  He’s written my address on a seashell, put a stamp on it and mailed it successfully around the world.  I couldn’t imagine emailing him.

“No, I’ll just tell you -” and I think John’s got it right again, because isn’t that how a recipe should truly be, right there in your mind ready to make, or to teach someone else, not something deep in the pages of a book or lost in a manila file folder?

Yes, there should be a scallop, not a fish carved into this pie; as usual I was rushing.


Old Boyfriend Pie

serves 8-10



1.5 pounds scallops

About 8 small round potatoes – 1 inch to 1/5 inches in diameter

2 large onions chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons dried thyme

A good pinch of red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

1.5 cups of cheddar cheese

½ (one half cup) cup cream or milk

1 double pie crust

(These are my proportions for a double crust, but you can use your own.  It should be made with butter.)

2 cups of flour

Dash salt

5-6 tablespoons ice water

1.5 sticks unsalted butter cut into pieces

Put flour, salt and butter in a food processor and pulse until it is like meal.  Add five tablespoons of ice water, and pulse again, fairly aggressively.  If it doesn’t come nicely into a ball, add the last tablespoon of water.  Divide dough in two, wrap in saran wrap, and chill for a 1/2 hour.

Keep potatoes whole but parboil them in lightly salted water for about 12 minutes, or until a fork inserts into them, but they do not yet crumble.

Saute onions in the olive oil until clear, about 5 minutes, with the thyme, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper.  (Be more generous with the spices if you want.)

When done, toss potatoes and onions together in the pan.  Roll out the first pie dough, and lay it into a 10 inch pie pan.   Put the potatoes and onions into the bottom pie crust.  Press the scallops into the curves in the potatoes, pressing all down.  Sprinkle the cheese over the top.  Pour the milk or cream over all.

Roll out the second pie crust, and place on top, crimping together the edges.  Cut attractive slits to release the steam.  John says a fish is nice, but a simple hatching like petals of a flower is lovely, too.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until the crust is browned.  Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes before cutting as there is a lot of delicious sauce that runs out otherwise.

roasted tomato salsa, tomatilla salsa, the best guacamole, and a Jamaican margarita.

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013


Maria Gonzalez grew up in Sonoita Arizona, about 40 miles north of the Mexican border, “right in the middle of beautiful high desert grasslands,” Maria’s husband, Jim Thornhill, told me.



“Maria’s father, Alexander, was from Sonoita; he lived his entire life a few miles from where he was born,” Thornhill said, “he’s a legend.”

Thirty years older than Maria’s mother, Alexander died just a few days short of his 95th birthday.  Horseback was the only way for him to get around when he was young. He worked in the CCC camps for a while, then volunteered for the army during WWII.

“I’ve never met a harder working, kinder, more knowledgeable man,” Thornhill said.  “When I first met Maria, she had braces.  She told me one time she’s never paid a cent for dental work; her dad saved the life of the local dentist, and he repaid Alex by taking care of Maria. There are so many stories about him like that.”

Maria’s mother, Elizabeth, is from England; she worked as a nanny for a family that eventually moved to southern Arizona, where she met and married Alex. Elizabeth, a wonderful cook, quickly learned traditional Mexican recipes from her husband.

I met Maria when she was working for the architects Luna Design Group, who renovated our first house.  Jim was our project manager, and we became friends.  Thornhill now has his own architectural and construction firm, Applied Form and Space, and Maria is an architect with EGA Architects in Newburyport.

The great big news is that Maria and Jim have just welcomed the next Alex – Alexander Asher –  into the world, born April 23rd.


We enjoyed these cocktails, this roasted tomato salsa, guacamole and fresh tomatillo salsa last spring with Maria and Jim.  In honor of – whoops, it just slipped by – Cinco de Mayo and little Alex – I decided it was time to remind people that there should be no other recipe in your files for guacamole; get rid of the salsa jars in your pantry.  Balance of fire and flavor, these recipes make salsa and chips exciting again.  Only a rosy sunset could improve the Jamaican Margarita.

I’m going to make guacamole today, and think of Alex stooped in the saddle after a long ride across the Arizona dessert, knowing nothing of the New England snows his grandson will inevitably endure.



Roasted Tomato Salsa

2 fresh jalapenos or 4 serranos (if jalapenos I take out the sees, if serranos, I leave them in)

3 garlic cloves, unpeeled

1/2 cup finely chopped white onion rinsed in cold water

1 15 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes in their juice

1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro

1/2 a fresh lime (or vinegar in a pinch)


Roast chiles and garlic in a hot pan until skin is black on chiles and garlic is soft.  Place chiles in a damp paper towel to steam and peal off skin when cool.  Chop chiles and peeled garlic in food processor and add can of tomatoes (can process as course or as smooth as you like).  Add tomato mixture to onion and cilantro and add lime.  Add salt if desired.


Fresh Tomatillo Salsa

4-6 medium tomatillos, husked rinsed and quartered

1 large garlic clove, peeled

1 jalapeno or 2 serrano peppers, stemmed and roughly chopped

1/2 to 2/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro

1/2 teaspoon salt


Place everything in the food processor until it becomes a course puree.  You can add some water if it is a little thick.


2 ripe avocados

1/2 cup finely diced white onion, rinsed in cold water

1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro

1-2 serrano peppers, finely diced

Juice of one lime

salt to taste


Fork smash avocados leaving some chunks.  Mix all other ingredients together and serve immediately.


Jamaica Margaritas

Jamaica infusion:

5 oz. dried jamaica flowers

1 scant C. sugar

3 cups water


Bring water to boil and add flowers and sugar.  Stir until sugar dissolves.  Remove from burner and cover and let sit for 1-2 hours.  Strain and refrigerate.  Can be made several days in advance.


1-1/2 C fresh lime juice

2 C 100% agave blanco tequila (I usually use El Milagro)

1 C Contreau

1/2 C jamaica flower infusion


Stir together all ingredients and refrigerate for one hour.

For a pretty rim you can grind some dried jamaica flowers and mix with sugar to sugar the rim of the glasses.


Thanks again for having us over and I always look forward to checking in on your blog!


Kristen Kish cooks for Emmaus May 8th.

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Time is running short to buy tickets to the cooking demonstration by Kristen Kish at the Spring Celebrity Series to Benefit Emmaus on Wednesday, May 8, at the Rogers Center for the Arts at Merrimack College.

Chef de cuisine at Stir Boston, Kish is the winner of the tenth season of the reality television cooking competition Top Chef and the second female winner of Top Chef. In March 2013 she was promoted to chef de cusine at Menton in the Fort Point neighborhood of Boston, and will assume her new post in June 2013.

Proceeds from this event benefit the operating budget for Emmaus, which provides services to more than 3,000 homeless men, women and children in Haverhill each year.

Tickets may be purchased HERE.

Tickets will be available at the door on the night of the presentation if they remain.

Tickets are $25 for the presentation, a question-and-answer session and an open reception with Kish, as well as access to the raffle and silent auction, all beginning at 7:30 p.m.

VIP tickets are $75, which also include a private reception with Kish beginning at 6:15 p.m.

In addition to the presentation by Kish, the winner of Season 10 of the popular Bravo TV series “Top Chef”, there will be a number of exciting silent auction items and a raffle for more than $300 worth of restaurant gift certificates, with tickets just $10 each.

The silent auction items include:

Two State Street Pavilion tickets to the Red Sox vs. Padres game on July 3, with parking included.

An autographed Bruins team baseball cap.

A basket of Ovedia Artisan Chocolates of Amesbury plus 1-2 hours in the kitchen with the chocolatiers.

A $200 gift certificate from Jackson Lumber, good at all retail outlets including the Design Store in North Andover.

Sushi Art photographed by Michael Canyes.

A gourmet food basket by PS It

Two $100 Capital Grille gift certificates.

A $250 gift certificate to Sam’s at Louis on the Boston Seaport.

Jenny’s Wedding Cakes — two-plus hour cupcake decorating demonstration in your home, valued at $400 to $500.

One-hour cooking demonstration with Chef Tony Ortu at Wild Bites in Amesbury, valued at $200

$200 Interlocks Salon & Spa Gift Certificate

A Taste of Ipswich Basket

The Dining Out Raffle, with at least 12 restaurant gift cards, is valued at more than $300. Raffle tickets are $10 each, and the winner does not have to present to win. However, tickets can only be purchased in person at the benefit on Wednesday night.

Gift certificates include: The Black Cow, Newburyport; Not Your Average Joe’s, Newburyport; Angie’s Food, Newburyport; Winfrey’s Chocolates; Ithaki restaurant in Ipswich and Keon’s in Haverhill.



monk’s bowl

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

Barbara Erkkila’s Oatmeal Macaroons

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013


Barbara Erkkila, journalist, author of Hammers on Stone, a history of Cape Ann granite, and Village at Lanescove, told me a year ago that she doesn’t cook.  Then she told me that many years ago, when Robert Frost was in Lanesville posing for Walker Hancock, Hancock came to Erkkila to bake our National Poet Laureate’s birthday cake.

“Plain white cake with white frosting,” Erkkila told me impatiently; she had other things to tell me about than cakes, like the UPI award she won for getting the story of the first Gulf of Maine Shrimp landing in Gloucester, or swimming in the Baltic Sea in 1960, post Sputnik.  Erkkila studied Russian at Boston University to prepare for that trip.

When I first met Erkkila I would ask her for a recipe, hoping for something from the good old days of Finns and artists partying in Lanesville, but Erkkila always seemed impatient with that request; she would much rather talk about the new book she’s working on.

She may be a hardcore journalist, but she’s also kind.  The last time I went to see her, just before Christmas, I didn’t need to ask; she offered a recipe.  It took me a couple of months to get around to making these “oatmeal macaroons,” which Erkkila says came from a Royal Baking Powder Company cookbook from 1927 entitled, “Anyone Can Bake.”  When I finally made them, and tasted them warm from the oven, I just laughed.  After all these years of “not cooking,” Erkkila still knew not just a good recipe, but a GREAT recipe.  These cookies are amazing; not a macaroon at all, but a thin, crisp lace cookie studded with earthy oatmeal.  They have a “snap!” that could crack air.  They are ridiculously easy to throw together, and – ta-da! – gluten-free!


At 94, Erkkila still knows a great story, even if it’s about a cookie; her beautiful taste in all things hasn’t faded one bit.



I served these recently with a homemade tequila ice cream from Kinfolk Magazine, a resource in homespun, hip-hop beauty for which I thank Sarah Kelly of The Roving Home.  I loved this ice cream recipe at first site because it didn’t require an ice cream machine. Every ice cream maker I’ve owned has done nothing but make me appreciate The Dairy Train and Molly’s Sweet Tooth even more.  I suspect the creamy texture, spooned out of a saran-wrapped covered bowl, has something to do with using confectionary sugar and not granulated sugar.  This is everything homemade ice cream should be, minus unpacking the freezer to find space for a contraption as big as a lobster pot that holds two cups of dessert.


I offer this wisdom from Ralph Waldo Emerson as quoted on the back of Kinfolk, “We dare not trust our wit for making our house pleasant to our friend, and so we buy ice-cream.”


Barbara Erkkila’s Oatmeal Macaroons

makes 3 dozen


1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon melted shortening

2 eggs

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups rolled oats

2 teaspoons Royal Baking Powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Mix sugar with shortening; add salt, eggs, rolled oats, baking powder and vanilla.

Mix thoroughly.

Drop on cookie sheets lined in parchment paper about half teaspoon to each macaroon, allowing space for spreading.

Bake about 10 minutes in moderate oven at 350 degrees.  Let cool on parchment, as cookies will firm up when they’re not hot, and are thus easier to transfer.