Archive for September, 2014

The Best Thing To Do With Beets

Monday, September 29th, 2014

best beet recipe


Friends have recently brought a couple of dishes so delicious the recipes must be shared. I’m starting with posting this beet dip, which my friend Leslie first made for a picnic we had celebrating our birthdays. The tahini, the garlic, the toasted cumin, and the lemon all combine to make a sublime, middle-eastern inspired spread that re-fires what may be your dwindling enthusiasm for the season’s beets. Pull that scraggly beet bunch leftover from last week’s CSA share out of the back of your refrigerator, or race to the farm stand for a healthy half-pound of Chioggas, and make this. Invite over a girlfriend; add a few warm, toasted pita quarters and a glass of Vouvray. Put on your sweaters, go out on the porch, and enjoy the last of autumn’s evening light. This is easily dinner for a couple of women, but a fabulous appetizer for anyone. Even children hungrily plunge their crackers in.


beet and toast


The Best Thing to Do With Beets Dip

makes 2 cups

4 medium cooked beets, about 1/2 pound (Toss whole unpeeled beets olive oil, salt and pepper.w Wrap them in foil, and roast at 375 for about 45 minutes or until tender. The skins slip off easily afterward. Cut them into chunks.)

2-3 ounces stale bread, pulled into 1” pieces

2 tablespoons tahini

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup walnuts

5 tablespoons lemon juice

1 small clove garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon cumin seed, lightly toasted to aromatic

1 tablespoon lemon zest

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


1.  Place beets, bread and olive oil in a food processor and blend until all is a paste.  Add remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth. Taste to adjust seasoning. Chill, and then serve with toasted pita chips, crostini, or cucumber rounds.

HarvestFest Pie Jam and Jelly Contest

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

RHFpiecontestENTRYEmail me @ with any questions; here’s the link to online registration:

Local Food wins in Rockport in October!

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

unnamed   For centuries October in Rockport has been cherished by artists, writers, and simply moms standing at the bus stop waiting for their children to return from school, having a blessedly quiet fifteen minutes to see the long slant of autumn light make Sandy Bay a purple plane, town glowing in the sunset like a trainset village along the bay’s rim. October in Rockport will always be known for its particular combination of autumnal quarry and seaside beauty – and the Boy Scout Haunted Hay Ride – but more recently October in Rockport has become famous for its local food.

Beginning with Spiran Hall’s Swedish Pancake Breakfast on October 5th and peaking with HarvestFest, October 18th, Rockport has become a destination for those who love a very specific kind of culinary moment. Call it real; call it authentic; call it local: Swedish pancakes, golden braids of cardamom-specked Nisu, the singular molasses and cornmeal taste of Rockport-born Anadama Bread, Grass-fed beef raised on South St. from Seaview Farms, Topdog’s award-winning fried clams, Sasquatch smoked cod. These are just some of the only-on-Cape-Ann, some only-in-Rockport, foods that will be served here in October; between Spiran Hall’s pancakes and HarvestFest’s bounty you will be able to taste the best of what’s flipped, fished, grown, and even brewed very close to home.

The people of Spiran Lodge #98, the Vasa Order of America, have been creating Scandinavian specialties for one hundred years, since the organization first served as an aid society for Scandinavian immigrants arriving on Cape Ann to work in the quarries. On October 5th, the large orange Dala horse will be placed on the sidewalk; the Spiran Hall doors will open to the public, and the coffee will begin to pour. Days in advance, just as they have been doing for years, and their mothers and aunts did for years before that, Spiran members will have started making the Swedish pancakes, Janice Ramsden’s family recipe, prepared in the special Swedish pans. A separate team, lead by Claire Franklin, will mix, braid, and bake the Nisu.

1200 pancakes will be ready starting Sunday morning at 8:00, served with lingonberries, sausage, fresh fruit, and coffee. The plump loaves of Nisu will be for sale.  Arrive early; they go fast!

But the Rockport food culture faces forward, too, away from history. On October 18th, in a designated “celebration section” near the Big Tent, HarvestFest will be tastefully pouring “Pretty Things Beer,” a hugely acclaimed artisanal brew produced by Martha and Dann Paquette out of Somerville. Also, exciting for anyone who enjoys a good glass of wine with their fried clams, nationally be-ribboned Westport Rivers Winery from Westport, MA will also be pouring. Frank McClelland’s five star restaurant, L’Espalier, commissioned Westport Rivers to create its own private label, 1996 Westport Rivers, “Cuvee L’Espalier,” brut. Not just local treasures, Westport Rivers Vineyards boast gold medals at the World Wine Championships, along with real estate on some of the country’s best wine lists.


Knead Dough Bakery, the Af Klinteberg family baking business from Lanesville, is just one of the many local vendors selling homemade baked lovelies at HarvestFest. When tragedy struck the Af Klinteberg family, no one wanted to make the bread anymore. Sten Af Klinteberg lll, the youngest child of Sten and Lila AfKlinteberg, died in 2011 at 40 years old; the Knead Dough Bakery, which had been producing sweets from Finnish Nisu to Congo Bars, withered to only a few loaves of bread baked for a few church fairs.

“My grandmother started this business in the 1970’s,” granddaughter Carson explained. “My grandfather had lost his job, and my grandmother needed to feed five children. They began accepting food from the Federal Surplus Program. ‘I’ll take what no on else wants,’ Lila said,” – meaning flour, cornmeal, molasses, and margarine, “and, we’ll make Anadama Bread.”   Sten, Jr., Lila’s husband, found work again, and the baking business became a way for the growing Af Klinteberg children to supplement their incomes in hard times.

When Stennie, III needed to stop fishing because of an injury, he began making Nisu beside his mother.

“The key to good Nisu is patience and attention to detail,” Carson said. “You have to love it, or else it gets sloppy and flat. – Everyone thought my grandmother made the best Nisu, but the family knew it was actually Stennie, the last of the Af Klintebergs to bake the bread.”

When Stennie was lost, Lila had no heart for baking. “It was something she did with her son, and he wasn’t there anymore,” Carson said. Lila died in 2013, and the Knead Dough business deflated to just a few loaves prepared by Sten, Jr. for the occasional church fair. This summer, the Rockport Farmers’ Market asked Sten to bake again. Even he seemed surprised at the speed with which his loaves disappeared. By 11:30 his boxes were empty.

“I sold out,” he would say, with a mystified shake of his head and a resigned crossing of arms on chest. No one had any idea how much Cape Ann missed Anadama, Onion Dill, and Nisu. After selling out three Saturdays in a row, even after doubling production, Af Klinteberg brought in the next generation to benefit from the bakery. Carson Af Klinteberg, leaving behind a job in prop design on Broadway, has returned to Lanesville to help her grandfather bake the bread. For Rockport’s HarvestFest, and for next year’s farmers markets, Carson will be bringing back the full line of Knead Dough baked goods, everything from congo bars to brownies. “It’s an honor and a joy to see Cape Ann respond once again to our bread. We’re just very proud and grateful.”

This year’s Seafood Throwdown will revive a short but golden moment in Rockport’s culinary history: for what felt like the blink of an eye, Parisian-born Fred Arnaud once stunned Pigeon Covers with the quality of his take-out dinners, sold from the refrigerator in the old Pigeon Cove Coop. This year Fred will return for the Seafood Throwdown, competing against Rosalie Harrington, chef and owner of Marblehead’s once beloved Rosalie’s Restaurant.

Pie-bakers, jam and jelly makers! – In the spirit of an agricultural fair, HarvestFest will recreate the pie, jam, and jelly contest. Bring entries to the Farmers’ Market Tent on the morning of HarvestFest; judging happens at 4:00.

Regional differences in cuisine are disappearing. Industrialized agriculture and national franchises threaten to homogenize America, leaving nothing but a museum in each town to memorialize the work people once did, the fish they caught, the breads they baked. In Rockport, people are still baking the bread and turning the pancakes, particularly in October.

This recipe is from an old Rockport church cookbook, an authentic Rockport dessert to prepare at home, in case you can’t make it to the HarvestFest or the Pancake Breakfast.

Swedish Apple Pudding Ingredients

1 cup diced bread 2 tablespoons butter

4 eggs

3 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup cream

1 tablespoon flour

2 cups diced apples

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon mixed with 2 tablespoons confectionary sugar for sifting


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 8” x 8” square pan or baking dish.

2.  In a medium skillet saute the bread cubes in melted butter until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

3.  In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, cinnamon, cream, and flour. Stir in apples and bread cubes.

4.  Pour into prepared dish, and bake for 1 hour or until custard is set.

5.  Mix together cinnamon and confectionary sugar, and sift over warm pudding.

Buried Baked Beans, Homemade Sausage, Gino’s Fishcakes, and Rockport Festivals.

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

buried beans

 Last Friday night Tim Sullivan dug a large hole in his back yard. He backed a truckload full of lumber and firewood up to the hole, unloaded the wood into it, and threw in a match. A good, hot fire began spitting flames.     beans and hole


hot coals

beans ready to cook

just out of the ground

  Sullivan, the burly bearded bagpiper and maple syrup purveyor at the Rockport Farmers’ Market, then stirred together soaked kidney beans, maple syrup, onions and a few mystery ingredients in a large black caldron. He placed the lid on the pot, and set it down into the hole of now inferno-worthy embers. Grave-digger style, he shoveled the dirt back on top of all, burying the pot of beans within the glowing coals. Then he turned back into his house, had dinner, and went to bed.

That same Friday, I pulled out the best cod cake recipe I know, from Gloucester’s Gino Mondello at the Dory Shop. I made a bechamel, which mixes gently into a bowl of freshly steamed cod and potatoes. I tossed in an egg, and a few stray ingredients, mixed all, covered the bowl, and refrigerated it. Then I went to bed.

Early Saturday morning, Sullivan shoveled the soil off his sweet, bubbling, ruby-colored beans; I patted my mixture into fishcakes, rolled them in breadcrumbs and fried them in a pan shining with a shallow layer of hot olive oil. All this while, Mike Ciaramitaro was mixing together his Trupiano’s sausage, like he does every week for Saturday’s Rockport Farmers’ Market.

This – the steaming brew of smokey beans, the tender fish cakes and the grilled savory chunks of Trupiano’s sausage – we served for a very special breakfast at the Rockport Farmers’ Market last Saturday.

Beans and Cakes Sign



  Admit it, you’re sorry you missed it, right? Besides lumber camps in Maine, and maybe some history-serious boyscouts, nowhere in the world are people still making baked beans this way. Homemade sausage is the only kind to ever have. Gino Mondello will serve you fishcakes browned in a big copper pan on his woodstove, but you better know when he’s making them.

Proceeds from the breakfast went to benefit The Rockport Farmers’ Market. This is the kind of quirky event we do at Rockport Festivals, the group that manages the Rockport Farmers’ Market – events that blend old and new, always with a nod to the granite, ocean and history that is Cape Ann. Thanks to Tim Sullivan and Mike Ciaramitaro for donating their time and deliciousness.  – and thanks to Tim Sullivan for most of these photos.

Tim Sullivan

Laurie Lufkin’s Pickled & Twisted Spicy Pork Cemitas

Monday, September 1st, 2014

cemitas 5

The Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest – the World Cup of cooking contests – will be held this November 2nd-4th in Nashville, Tennessee, and Cape Ann has a local girl in the race.

An Essex native and front-of-the-house manager at Manchester’s Foreign Affairs restaurant, Laurie Lufkin has been sending Pillsbury entries since 2007, soon after she won her first blue ribbon at the Topsfield Fair. Hundreds of thousands of home cooks submit recipes, (any number is allowed) to “the Dough Boy,” hoping to be selected as one of the 100 Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest finalists. This year the finalists will travel from 32 different states, with California sending as many as 17. There are four men and 96 women, ranging in age from 28 to 89. The contest guidelines require at least one Pillsbury ingredient from their eligible list (not all Pillsbury ingredients are eligible), no more than 7 ingredients altogether, and the recipe must take no longer than 30 minutes to prepare.

This year, along with a batch of other recipes, Lufkin submitted this surprisingly simple cemitas recipe, which she developed researching 2014 food trends. Cemitas, traditional street food in Peubla, Mexico, are meat-filled sandwiches served on a special roll that is always sprinkled with sesame seeds; cemitas are hot right now. Baum + Whiteman, International restaurant consultants, list cemitas as one of 2014’s serious buzzwords.


chorizo and manchego


uncooked bun

baked bun sliced

Lufkin’s recipe uses fresh, loose chorizo, divided into portions and remade into patties. The small burgers are cooked in a skillet, then covered with melted Manchego cheese, and served with a quick-pickled slaw. Lufkin created the bun, the special Pillsbury ingredient, using Pillsbury original refrigerated breadstick dough, roping the uncooked dough together, strewing them with fresh cilantro, coiling them into a roll, sprinkling them with Watkins’ (a Bake-Off Contest sponsor) sesame seeds, and baking the buns to golden brown.

In years past, the call to the contest came by telephone; this year it arrived in an email which Lufkin received in one of those classically ordinary moments: she glanced at her phone, while running into Schooner’s Market to buy ice for her mother who has having a reception for state representative Ann Margaret Ferrante.

“I looked at my phone and saw another ‘official Bake-Off’ email; I figured it was another ad. I went into the store, got ice, and looked again when I got back in the car; it was a good thing I was sitting down!”


brushing dough


I recently watched Lufkin and her niece, Sarah Bethany Williams, affectionately known simply as “Chicka,” prepare this Pillsbury Finalist recipe. Chicka brushed water on the breadstick dough, while everyone in the kitchen tried to calmed Chicka’s worries about starting kindergarten at Essex Elementary School, where both her mother and aunt began their educations. When we all sat down to try the final cemitas, kindergarten fears had dissipated, and Chicka gave her Aunt her first blue-ribbon vote. I give the second vote.


Chicka and Cemitas


A new twist in this year’s Bake-Off Contest means that – just like American Idol – a percentage of the voting is public. After participants whisk, roll, and crimp their 100 recipes in their 100 little kitchens, judges choose winners in each of 4 categories: Simply Sweet Treats, Savory Snacks and Sides, Weekend Breakfast Wows, and Amazing Doable Dinners. The judges then vote on those four finalists for the final Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest winner. The judges’ votes account for a percentage of the final vote, but then the voting goes online, and the public chooses their winner out of these four.  The judges’ and public votes are added together to decide the winner.

Cape Ann, therefore, has a chance to make this region famous for not just lobsters and fried clams, but for being home to the 2014 Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest Winner, who brings home one million dollars, a truck-load of new GE appliances, and a lot of smiles.


 2nd cemitas


Laurie Lufkin’s Pickled & Twisted Spicy Pork Cemitas

serves 6


1 can Pillsbury refrigerated original breadsticks

36 fresh cilantro leaves plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon Watkins Sesame Seeds

1 cup tri-color coleslaw mix (from 16 ounce bag)

5 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 pound mild chorizo sausage, casings removed

6 slices (3/4 ounce each) Manchego or Mexican melting cheese (quesadilla)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large cookie sheet with Reynolds Parchment Paper.

Unroll dough on work surface; separate into 12 breadsticks. Pinch ends of 2 breadsticks together to make 1 long breadstick. Roll into an 18” rope. Repeat with remaining dough to make 6 (18”) ropes. Lightly brush breadsticks with water.

Place 6 cilantro leaves evenly along each breadstick. Gently twist 2 to 3 times into a 22” rope. Coil each rope into a 3” spiral shape, tucking ends under and pinching to seal. Place 2” apart on a cookie sheet. Brush lightly with water. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake 13-19 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

Meanwhile, in small bowl mix coleslaw mix, vinegar, chopped cilantro, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

Shape sausage into 6 (3 1/2”) patties. In 12” skillet, cook patties over medium heat 5-6 minutes, turning twice, until meat thermometer inserted in center of patties reads 160 degrees F. Place 1 cheese slice on each patty. Cover; remove from heat.

Drain coleslaw mixture.

Cut each roll in half horizontally. Top bottom half of each roll with 1 patty, 2 rounded tablespoons coleslaw mixture, and top half of roll. Garnish with additional cilantro, if desired.


Chicka and Laurie