Archive for November, 2013

roasted beets and cranberries

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013


Here is a glistening Thanksgiving dish to make a pilgrim blush.  Sweet, earthy roasted beets mix with a mulled cranberry sauce, with just enough spices to revive the beet-weary.



1 pound small beets or 2 large beets

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

2 cups cranberries

1 cup red wine

8 peppercorns

zest from 1 orange

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon water


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Trim the ends off the beets.  Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and wrap in aluminum foil, or put in a small covered pot.  Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until soft when pricked with a fork.

Meanwhile, put the cranberries, wine, peppercorns, zest, bay leaf, and brown sugar into a medium saucepan.  Put the pan on low heat, and simmer for twenty minutes, or until the berries become soft and shiny.  Remove the bay leaf and peppercorns.

When the beets are roasted, run them under cold water to easily peel off the skins.  If using large beets, cut into 1/4 inch slices.  Keep small beets whole.  Toss the beets into the cranberry mixture.

In a small dish mix the cornstarch with the water to dissolve, and stir into the vegetables.  Stir well, for about two minutes, allowing the cornstarch mixture to thicken the cranberries.  Serve warm or room temperature.

Orange Glazed Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

Monday, November 25th, 2013


I’m thankful for the bulk section at Common Crow where I can buy large or small amounts of dried chickpeas, short-grain brown rice, and couscous.

I’m thankful for inexpensive persimmons at Market Basket, and for the regular friendliness of its check-out people.

I’m thankful for Ann, the woman who stocks the cheese counter at Stop & Shop.  She maintains burrata levels, and has recently introduced “Satori;” a semi-hard Wisconsin cheese that isn’t quite feta and isn’t quite cheddar, but has more character than it’s modest packaging would have you believe.  With an apple or chutney it’s an instantly delicious appetizer, or even a lunch.

I’m thankful that Shaw’s, still small enough get to the milk aisle in less than fifteen minutes, seems a little cleaner and brighter these days.  I’m thankful for helpful check-out people here, too.

I’m thankful for the vigor and heart of our farmers.  Noah Kellerman, Mike Raymond, Andy Varela, Farmer Dave’s, The Food Project people at Moraine Farm.  Their long days and sun-bleached toil have inserted a new economy into our community, not to mention hundreds of pounds of beautiful local produce.  We take home their carrots and kale – grown carefully, to scale, in local soil; my crumpled check gets stacked on Noah’s desk, not processed in Indiana by a faceless A small circle of an economy is created, a little exit off the high-speed expressway upon which trucks transporting boxed food speed in from anonymous warehouses, and our dollars are driven out of town just as quickly.  Defensively, I realize the Market Basket persimmons and Sartori cheese arrive this way, but food shopping on Cape Ann is stitching together buying locally to walking store aisles, sometimes paying a little more to looking for a bargain.

I’m thankful for the Appleton Farm cows.

I’m thankful for The Cape Ann Farmers’ Market, a weekly celebration of local foods,  equal parts smiles and kale.

I’m thankful for the Rockport Farmers’ Market, where on Saturday summer mornings you can purchase locally grown and raised dinner ingredients, or just go for some kale and some friends.

I’m thankful for Paolo’s pesto.

I’m thankful for Alexandra’s cobbles.

I’m thankful for Cape Ann Fresh Catch.

I’m thankful for lobster, scallops, dogfish, skate, hake, redfish, and any other fish left in our seas.

I’m thankful for Turtle Alley Chocolates and Harbor Sweets.

I’m thankful we live in a community that has family food traditions extending back generations, that often connects with each other over those old shared recipes.  I’m thankful we live in a community that demands Mike Ciamitaro never stop making Trupiano’s sausage, available at The Cave.

From a place of thanks I offer a cozy, bake-y, traditional recipe to make for breakfast Thanksgiving Day.  It is amazing made with homemade cranberry sauce and fresh squash, but almost as familiar-pumpkin-ey, cranberry delicious made with canned.



Orange Glazed Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

from Favorite Recipes from Johnny Cake Hill



3 1/2 cups flour

1 2/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 (16 ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce

1 (16 ounce can) solid pack pumpkin, or 2 cups cooked fresh squash or pumpkin

3/4 cup chopped pecans

2/3 cup oil

4 eggs



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and baking powder,  In another bowl, stir together remaining ingredients until well mixed.  Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture and stir until all ingredients are well moistened.  Pour batter into 2 (91/4 x 5 1/4 inch) greased loaf pans.  Bake at 350F for 65 minutes.  Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove to cooling racks.  Cool completely, then drizzle glaze over top and sides.


Orange Glaze


1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup orange juice concentrate 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice


Mix all ingredients until smooth.  Drizzle over cooled breads.  Makes 1/2 cup glaze.






An invitation –

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

a local addition to the Thanksgiving menu

Monday, November 18th, 2013


Every Thanksgiving menu needs one dish with surprises.  Sauteed Mushrooms and Jerusalem Artichokes, a recipe from Marcella Hazan, who adored this native American tuber, arrives at the table with not only good stories, but good nutritional information.

Jerusalem Artichokes taste like a sweeter yukon gold, a more refined parsnip.  The short, knobby roots look like ginger root, or some ancient un-evolved plant cultivated by gnomes.  One online source I read said that the vegetable was once banned in Europe because it was believed that the knotted, knobby root, looking much like misshapen fingers, caused leprosy.


Peeling and cleaning the golden bumps is one of those tasks that could be tedious unless you embrace it, and then it becomes a calming lesson in hands rearranging the earth-bound.

To serve Jerusalem Artichokes in New England is to serve the most local of foods.  Samuel de Champlain landed on the shores of Cape Cod in 1605 and found the Wampanoags roasting Jerusalem Artichokes, drying and grinding them for pancakes, even fermenting them.  De Champlain returned to France with Helianthus tuberosus, and the root exploded across Europe.  Fields of Jerusalem Artichokes now grow in Italy, the source of the confusing name.  Italians tasted artichoke hearts in the mild, crisp vegetable, but named it “Girasole,” meaning “turning to the sun,” for the way its golden yellow flowers face skywards.  Some non-Italian speaking person reacquainting themselves with the tuber heard “Jerusalem,” not “Girasole.”

Members of the daisy family and the sunflower species, Helianthus tuberosus have a folkloric reputation as a remedy for diabetes.  The tubers, which can be eaten raw in salads or cooked any way one would cook a potato, have no starch; the plant stores carbohydrates as inulin, giving it a much lower glycemic index than a potato.

Inulin has so many virtues that the processed food industry is looking to it as a sugar and fat substitute.   A quick Wikipedia read attributes inulin with increasing calcium and magnesium absorption, and promoting the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria; it’s considered “prebiotic,” meaning setting the intestinal stage well for a good bacteria performance.

Jerusalem Artichokes still grow wild on Cape Ann.  A tuft of them has been noted in Lanes Cove.  My neighbor grows them, and offered me a delicious basket of the roots a few weeks ago.  Friend and botanist Marvin Roberts has a healthy patch in his garden in Gloucester.

Easy to grow, pest resistant, low in calories, glycemic index kind, and high in potassium, Jerusalem Artichokes have a downside.  That inulin is legendarily hard to digest for some people.  I confess I’ve never had that problem.  Marcella and I speak for Jerusalem Artichoke’s deliciousness; as a native plant they are a wonderful addition to Thanksgiving Day.  This recipe, a slow braise of thinly sliced artichoke and mushrooms, bathed in garlic and parsley, is a beautiful way to add interest to your Thanksgiving Day menu.  It is even a polite bow to the Native Americans foodways that kept the early settlers alive.



If you don’t see Jerusalem Artichokes in the stores, and you probably won’t, I know they can special ordered from Willowrest or Whole Foods;  I suspect the other grocery stores will, too.


Sauteed Mushrooms and Jerusalem Artichokes, based on a recipe from Marcella Hazan



1 pound jerusalem artichokes

lemon juice

1 pound fresh, firm cultivated mushrooms, whole or sliced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

3 tablespoons chopped Italian fine-leaf parsley

red pepper flakes


black pepper



Skin the Jerusalem artichokes using a small paring knife or a peeler.  Rinse them in cold water, and then toss in lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

Using the fine slicing disk of a food processor thinly slice the artichokes.

Brush the mushrooms clean if they are whole, and slice as thinly as the artichokes.

In a large saute pan or skillet put the oil and garlic, and turn heat to medium high.  Cook the garlic stirring frequently, until it becomes colored gold.  Add the parsley, stir quickly two or three times.  Then put in both the artichokes and mushrooms.  Turn them over a few times to coat them well, add red pepper flakes, salt and generous grindings of pepper.  Turn the heat down to low, and cover the pan.

The mushrooms will shed a fair quantity of liquid.   Cook, turning the pan’s contents over from time to time, until the mushroom water has completely evaporated and the artichokes feel tender when poked with a fork.  Continue to taste for salt and pepper, adding more as you need it.  If, once the artichokes are done, there is still liquid left in the pan, uncover it, raise the heat, and boil all the liquid away.

This dish can be cooked completely several hours in advance.  Reheat gently but thoroughly turning over the mushrooms and artichokes with a wooden spoon from time to time.

Gloucester’s Mortillaro Lobster goes to Farm Aid

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013



Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Jack Johnson, and John Mellencamp were all there, singing their hearts out on behalf of the small family farm at this year’s Farm Aid Concert, September 21st, in Saratoga Springs, New York.  For lunch, the earnest stars relaxed backstage, spooning into creamy, hot bowls of Lobster Mac and Cheese, made with thirty pounds of sweet Gloucester lobster meat, compliments of the quietly industrious sheet metal building at the far end of Harbor Cove, Mortillaro’s Lobster.


Being included in Farm Aid’s lunch line is not easy.  All Farm Aid’s meals – from snacks to backstage dining – are provided by Homegrown Concessions, the Farm Aid catering company promising “that all food products served in concessions and catering are sustainably produced by family farmers, identified as local, or organic, or non-GMO, or humanely raised, or utilizing other ecological practices, along with a commitment to a fair price for producers,” as stated by the Farm Aid Concessions Criteria.  Farm Aid promises to source as locally as possible.  They follow “least waste food service protocol.”  They compost.  They recycle.  They donate leftover foods to local foodbanks.  This year’s Farm Aid cotton candy was made with upstate New York maple syrup.

Thus Mortillaro’s lobster received a special kind of crown by being included in the Farm Aid chafing dishes.  Mortillaro lobster quality –  locally fished, kept in pure seawater tanks without chemicals, and processed humanely – was duly acknowledged.

But the Mortillaro Lobster presence at an event intended to save the family farm had another meaning: traveling with the Mortillaro lobster was The Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance and four fishing families, all at Farm Aid to draw parallels between what is happening to small farmers and what is happening to small fishermen.

Fair price.  The Right to Fish.  Healthy Fish.  Access to the food that’s being grown (or fished.)  A place at the political table.  These are just a few of the issues small fishermen and small farmers share.

“Many of the lessons learned in the farming world are the same as fishing,” Niaz Dorry of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance says, “it’s the equivalent of family farms on the water.  This was the fifth year NAMA has attended Farm Aid.  Dorry says that each year this group representing the world’s small fishermen, feel more solidarity with the farmers.  Shannon Eldredge is a fisherwoman from Cape Cod who attended Farm Aid this year; she says “I feel energized and supported.”  Thank you, Neil Young and Willie Nelson.

Sonya Dagovitz who leads Homegrown Concessions, said she “jumped for joy” when she heard of the Mortillaro lobster donation.  “I try to get as much of our food donated, but it’s hard to find fish that’s completely sustainable; you should have seen to look on people’s faces when they saw Lobster Mac and Cheese!”

Dagovitz reinforced the Farm Aid credo, dedication to the small food producer:  “The plight of the fisherman is exactly what has happened to farmers; who better to fish these waters than the small fisherman?”

When I asked her for the recipe, Dagovitz worried that her Lobster Mac and Cheese was too difficult to take from serving one hundred to serving six.  She suggested I include any good recipe I could find; Ina Garten’s never fails, and I am certain she would approve of Gloucester lobster as a main ingredient.


For a good look at the Mortillaro Lobster Fleet, compliments of Vince Mortillaro, click here:  Glo Lobster fleet-Mobile





Ina Garten’s Lobster Mac and Cheese




Kosher salt

Vegetable oil

1 pound cavatappi or elbow macaroni

1 quart milk

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)

8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat

1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and lobster and stir well. Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

*** photo of Chuck Parisi comes from Mortillaro’s.

The Sargent House Museum Dinner

Thursday, November 7th, 2013


Sarah Kelly, from The Roving Home, and I recently hosted a dinner at Howlets.  Some may remember we created a lunch in the spring – “Spring at Howlets.”  We’re planning another celebration, in collaboration with Flatrocks Gallery in Lanesville, a benefit for The Open Door, named  “Feast! An evening of light and warmth in the gathering dark.”  If you’re interested in attending – we’d love to have you! – contact me or Flatrocks Gallery for a tickets.


This dinner, a donation to The Sargent House Museum, is best described – the history, the context, the candles, the hydrangea, the conversion –  on The Roving Home. 

For anyone who’s interested, I offer the menu, and a recipe:  Daniel Boulud’s homemade harissa, which is wonderful on salmon and swordfish.



Sargent House Dinner –  November 2, 1013

kitchen-smoked cod with chipotle mayonnaise on crackers

breakfast radishes served with parsley & smoked oyster emulsion

Marcella Hazan’s cavolfiore al pomodoro – cauliflower and tomato

grilled swordfish with homemade harissa

sauteed fresh spinach

quince tarte tatin



Daniel Boulud’s Harissa


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 onion, peeled, trimmed, and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled, split, germ removed, and finely chopped

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste


4 pieces tomato confit (recipe follows) coarsely chopped, or 1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 tomato, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks

1 roasted red pepper, coarsely chopped


Warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium saute pan or skillet over medium heat, and add the onion and garlic, spices, and salt to taste.  Cook, stirring until the onion softens and turns lightly golden, about 8 minutes.  Add the tomato confit or paste, the fresh tomato, and the roasted pepper and continue to cook and stir for 3 minutes more.  Turn the ingredients into the container of a blender or food processor, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and pulse on and off just until the mixture is finely shopped – it shouldn’t be a puree.  Set aside to cool.  (The harissa can be made up to 5 days ahead and kept in a lightly sealed jar in the refrigerator.)


Tomato Confit


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra if storing

salt and freshly ground white pepper

3 cloves garlic, peeled split, germ removed and finely sliced

10 leaves basil, torn

4 springs thyme, leaves only

2 bay leaves, broken

20 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sugar


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and our about 2 tablespoons olive oil evenly over the pan.  Sprinkle the oil with salt and pepper.  Strew a little of the garlic, basil, and thyme, and bay leaves over the oil.  Cut each tomato lengthwise in half and carefully with your fingers or a tiny spoon, remove the seeds.  Lay the tomato halves cut side down in the pan, wiggling the tomatoes around if necessary so that each tomato has a gloss of oil on its cut side.  Using a pastry brush, give the tops of the tomatoes a light coat of olive oil.  Season the tops of the tomatoes with salt and pepper and a little sugar, and scatter over the rest of the garlic, basil thyme and bay.  Slide the pan into the oven and bake the tomatoes for 2 1/2 hours, or until the are very tender but still able to hold their shape, turn the tomatoes over at half-time and open the oven for just a second every 30 minutes or so to get rid of the moisture that will build up in the oven.  Cool the tomatoes to room temperature on their pan.


When the tomatoes are cool, transfer them to a jar, stacking them neatly.  Pour whatever oil remains in the pan over the tomatoes and then, if you plan to keep tomatoes longer than a day or two, pour in enough olive to cover them.  Refrigerate.


Hank Shaw’s “Duck, Duck Goose”

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013


If shotguns, swamps, dogs and duck-blinds are your thing, or if you browse the packaged Muscovy breasts beside the chicken in the grocery store, “Duck, Duck, Goose,” by Hank Shaw, is a cookbook you should own.


Shaw’s first book, “Hunt, Gather, Cook,” took us fishing, hunting and foraging.  “Duck, Duck, Goose,” is everything we need to know about hunting, buying, and cooking these fowl, wild and domestic.  Shaw’s a serious hunter and cook, but he’s also a journalist.  He can write a book that makes this cook, who will never step into a pair of waders, stay up late reading about how best to stock a duck blind.  His writing sings of the outdoors and the kitchen.

I’ve learned more helpful lessons on exactly how to prepare a duck breast, with skin or without, how to render duck fat, why duck eggs are different than chicken eggs (larger, larger yolks, yolks stand higher when cracked, whites are stiffer) and what is the difference between a Moulard and a Muscovy with “Duck, Duck, Goose” as my bedside reading.  My copy is already tattered, a sign of love and usefulness.

And I’ve learned things that I will most likely never need to know, like a solid roster of wild birds, how to hang, pluck and eviscerate them, or how to make goose neck sausages (the ultimate natural casing.)  I’ve learned that we like to eat birds that feed on seeds – even chicken – because these fowl fatten well and don’t taste “off.”  (We really like birds that have spent the day in a rice field.)  Gadwalls, “a duck lover’s bird,” prefer stems and reeds to seeds; they stink when eviscerated.

Duck meat is hormone and antibiotic-free.

I’ve learned that geese are one of our oldest domesticated animals, but they are traditionally difficult to raise, and fatten.  To the former point, they only lay eggs once a year, while ducks and chickens lay year round.  To the latter point, it requires seven pounds of feed to put on a pound of goose meat; geese grow slowly.  Attempts to create breeds that grow faster are undermined by those short goose legs, which can’t support a quickly heaving breast.  Still, Shaw quotes Jim Schlitz of Schlitz Goose Farm, “slow growing birds taste better.”

Shaw’s main point about cooking duck is that it’s more helpful to think of it as beef than fowl; the breast is steak; the rest of the bird is the brisket.

The skin is what makes duck truly special, Shaw reminds;  duck confit, the French preserve of duck skin and leg cooked slowly in its own fat, “has become many a chef’s deathbed meal.”

“Cooking duck is not rocket science;” the book’s primary goal is to make that little bit of specialized duck cooking knowledge accessible; my favorite Shaw line here: “to free ourselves from the Tryanny of Chicken.”

There are plenty of “I dare you!” recipes for fowl geeks, like corned gizzards – cooked in duck fat for a day, glazed in malt vinegar dressing and served with cabbage buds.  Or Crispy Duck Tongues, or Duck Heart Tartare Puttanesca.

But there are luscious recipes for people like me who are romantic and only occasionally that ambitious.  I will definitely be making Duck Fat Saffron Aioli, Duck Eggs Benedict (with duck fat hollandaise and duck sausage), Duck Egg Pasta, and Duck Egg Cake with Rosemary very soon.  I’ve marked a cooking calendar  – “To Make” – with Duck Risotto, Duck Chili, Italian Duck Meatballs, Goose Stew with Barley and Celery Root, and French Duck Wing Soup.   This is a book with which to head into winter.

Reading about Shaw and his girlfriend, Holly Heyser, whose crisp, bright photography illustrates the book, standing in a California swamp, shooting a fat gadwall hen (Heyser brought that one down), or the thrill of the dog returning to the duck blind with a fallen bird, which turns out to be the treasured Canvasback, is keeping me up late these nights.  (The king of ducks, the Canvasback feeds on wild celery, producing a flavor Shaw declares better than the finest rib-eye.)  So, I haven’t been more ambitious than the following recipe.


For it alone – Duck Bulgogi – the book is worth it.  This recipe makes ordinary grocery store duck breast a fabulous, easy, fast,  – did I say fabulous – did I say fast? – weeknight dinner.  Consider it just one drop in the vast ocean of duck and goose inspiration here.  As Shaw recommends, “mastering these birds will make you a more competent carnivore.”





Duck Bulgogi, from Hank Shaw’s “Duck, Duck, Goose”



1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

4 green onions, white and green parts, chopped

2 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger

5 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons sugar

2 pounds skinless duck breasts

kimchi and cooked white rice, for serving

black sesame seeds, for garnish, optional



In a blender, combine the vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, onions, ginger, garlic, and sugar and puree until smooth.  Put the duck breasts in a container just large enough to accommodate them, pour in the marinade, and turn to coat evenly.  Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours

Remove the duck breasts from the marinade, pat dry, and set aside.  Pour the marinade into a small saucepan, bring to a boil over medium high heat, and boil for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Coat the duck breasts with a little oil.  Shaw has detailed instructions about grilling duck breasts, which I’ll try to condense here:

Have breasts at room temperature.  After oiling them, salt breasts well.  Get the grill good and hot.  Oil the racks well.  Lay the breasts skin side down (if skin is on).   Don’t lay them over the pile of charcoal if you’re using it; put them to the side to eliminate flare-ups.  Grill uncovered for 3 minutes.  If the skin is brown and crispy, flip the breasts.  Grill for 2-5 minutes on the other side, or until done to your liking.

Transfer the duck breasts to a cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.  Slice the breasts thinly and arrange on  dinner plates along with the kimchi and rice.  Drizzle the hot marinade over the duck, then sprinkle the sesame seeds over everything.  Serve with a cold lager or pilsner.