Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Lady Killigrew Cafe at the Montague Book Mill

The Bread Board - local version of a Ploughman's. Amazing local sourdough bread, stoneground mustard, kielbasa, cheddar and apple. OMGWTF awesome...

Peanut-Ginger Udon Noodles

Dupont Farmhouse Ale

Seriously, this place is absolutely amazing - you must go !! Room after room of used books, a music store, the cafe, and a restaurant I am dying to go back and try...will write a full review then. For now - just go !! :

Josephs II

Eggs St. Christeen - poached eggs topped with Bernaise over country ham and croissants. Yum !!

"Berkshire" breakfast - apple crisp over French toast

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lemon Berry Mascarpone Cake

The cake we had at Easter was so spectacular, it deserves its own entry - so here it is !

We've had a version of this cake at various local restaurants...the restaurant version, I found later, is one made by Sysco, a supplier to the restaurant industry. Luckily, it turns out the cake is also pretty easy to make at home. Mark found a great version of it at a great blog called Let's Get Cooking . The recipe we used was here :

Lemon Berry Mascarpone Cake

My one minor quibble - a recurring theme, this week - is that there was no recipe ingredient list. Mine is shown below, with a few minor tweaks. This is a great, great cake...and easy, I promise !

EDITED 6/14/2017 : wow, this is by far the most visited recipe on this blog - I'm so humbled !! Based on reader comments I've tweaked the crumble a little bit; some lemons are juicier than others, resulting in the crumble being a bit too wet to work with. Otherwise, carry on as written !! K

Lemon Berry Mascarpone Cake

3 cups flour
1 and 2/3 cup sugar
Zest and juice of two lemons
6 tbsp of melted butter, plus one stick of butter at room temperature
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
2 cups mixed berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries…)
500g mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup half & half
4 - 6 tbsp powdered sugar, plus more for topping

Start by making the crumb topping. Combine one cup of the flour, 2/3 cup of the sugar, half the lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice to start., Stir in 6 tbsp of melted butter with a fork until crumbly. (If you feel the crumble is too dry, add a bit more lemon juice until it's the consistency you like) 
Move on to the cake portion. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Butter two 8″ cake pans (to make things even easier, you can fit a round of parchment paper into the pans as well…this is a pretty sticky cake ! I did it without, though…)
In a small bowl, sift together the remaining 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp baking soda.
In mixer bowl, cream the 1 stick of softened butter and the remainder of the lemon zest and juice.  Add the remaining 1 cup sugar and mix well.  Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Mix in about half the dry ingredients, then half the sour cream, then the rest of the dry ingredients, then the last of the sour cream. Beat until well combined.
Divide batter between prepared cake pans. Sprinkle one cup of berries over the top of each cake pan. Divide the crumb topping mixture evenly between the two pans and press down gently. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, or until cake tester (or toothpick) inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Let cake cool completely in pans.
When you’re ready to assemble, prepare your filling. Beat together the mascarpone cheese, half & half, and powdered sugar to taste. Place one cake layer on your serving plate, crumb side up, and spread all the filling on top. Top with second cake layer, crumb side up, and dust with powdered sugar.
Refrigerate the cake until the filling is firm, a few hours at least.  Serve cold or at room temperature. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Easter Dinner, CO Style : Lamb with Mint Demiglace, Mushroom Risotto, Roasted Asparagus

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This year's Easter dinner...was exactly the same as last year's Easter dinner. Luckily for you, readers, I didn't have this blog last I get to tell you all about it now :). Besides, when your mother specifically requests her favorite meal...well, how can you say no to your Mom ?

The centerpiece of this meal is Lamb For Lovers - rack of lamb with the most amazing demiglace that, properly made, takes three days to make and is worth every single second. Day 1 is all in the crockpot, and Day 2 is mostly just reducing on the stove, so it's not really hands on for three'll hardly know you're cooking, except the house smells absolutely amazing. The basic recipe can be found here :

Lamb for Lovers

The only change we make to the demiglace is to use lamb shanks instead of the trimmings, because the racks we get tend to be pretty well trimmed. This year we used a bone and trimmings from the leg of lamb we used in the tagine , which worked perfectly. The demiglace recipe made plenty for the five racks of lamb we cooked for dinner. Mark also mixes mustard powder and paprika in with the panko crumbs when he sears the lamb.

racks ready for the oven

soooo good !
Roasted Asparagus is really super simple - fresh asparagus tossed with olive oil, kosher or sea salt, and freshly cracked pepper, roasted on a rimmed baking sheet in a 400 oven for 10 minutes or so, until done to your liking.

The Mushroom that is just the perfect third corner in this orgasmic triangle. Risotto is really a labor of love...anyone that tells you that you don't really need to stir it the whole time that it cooks just really doesn't get it. Stirring releases the starch from the surface of the rice grains, which - when slowly incorporated into the stock that you add bit by bit - creates the creamiest, most luxurious version of rice you've ever had - risotto does not typically contain cream, which surprises some first timers. Using the correct rice (one with the right shape and amount of starch) is also critical to a good risotto. Arborio makes a fine, fine risotto...but I prefer Carnaroli. It's a bit harder to find (really not an issue to the girl who goes to five stores looking for rabbit) , but so worth has a higher starch content and better consistency than even the best Arborio. Definite Culinary Orgasm.

Mushroom Risotto

• 8 cups chicken broth (plus 1 more cup)
• 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• 2 -4 shallots, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced, divided
• 1 pound fresh mushrooms (portobello, crimini, white button, etc) sliced
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
• 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
• 2 – 4 tablespoons butter
• Salt and pepper
• 1 tablespoon truffle oil
• 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, wiped of grit
• 2 cups carnaroli or arborio rice
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
• Garnish with fresh Italian parsley or chives or scallions…
Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, herbs and butter. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned, season with salt and pepper. Drizzle in truffle oil then add the dried porcini mushrooms which were reconstituted in 1 cup of warm chicken broth. Season again with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Sauté 1 minute then remove from heat and set aside.
Coat a saucepan with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Sauté the remaining shallots and garlic. Add the rice and stir quickly until it is well-coated and opaque, 1 minute. This step cooks the starchy coating and prevents the grains from sticking. Stir in wine and cook until it is nearly all evaporated.
Now, with a ladle, add 1 cup of the warm broth and cook, stirring, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to cook and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy, not mushy. Transfer the mushrooms to the rice mixture. Stir in Parmesan cheese, cook briefly until melted. Top with a drizzle of truffle oil and your chosen garnish before serving.
stay tuned for the dessert posting !!

Alpine Rabbit Stew; or, Here Comes Peter Cottontail

My family - husband and in-laws included - all seem to have a very, well, perverse sense of humor. In the midst of preparing a three-day demiglace (more on that in the next post), my husband decided that we absolutely must have rabbit stew...the day before the Easter Bunny was due. Not that we'd ever made rabbit stew before, mind...took us 5 stores to find the rabbit (H Mart was where we finally hit the jackpot), but make it we did .

The recipe Mark found online was really rather spectacular, and can be found in its entirety here :

Alpine Rabbit Stew

The one thing I didn't like about the recipe, though, is that it lacked a recipe list, so I am taking the liberty of writing it up here, with the minor modifications that we made. We did serve it over the polenta as suggested - which was fantastic - but mashed potatoes, egg noodles, spätzle or gnocchi would all be wonderful with it as well.

Alpine Rabbit Stew
2  onions, chopped
5 celery stalks, chopped
 8 oz air-dried bacon (we used pancetta)
 2 bay leaves
 juniper berries (we used a small handful of dried blueberries – a teaspoon of whole allspice would have been better though)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
Cinnamon stick
5 chopped carrots
Fresh thyme, marjoram and rosemary – a sprig of each, or to taste
 half a bottle of red wine (we used Italian red table wine)
 a can of tomatoes (we used a can of diced San Marzanos)
2 rabbits, cut into large pieces
½ cup chicken livers (unless you can find rabbit livers  !)

Gently fry the finely diced bacon with a little butter for about 3-5 minutes or until soft.
 Carefully lay the rabbit into the pot so that each piece of meat will lay on the pot bottom. If they don't fit, do this in as many batches as it takes. Add the remaining rabbit pieces and continue to sauté over high heat.
Salt the rabbit and set aside.
Add the onions, garlic, celery, carrot, cinnamon and bay leaf to the bacon. Fry over medium-high heat, moving constantly.
Add the chopped liver and let it color. It will turn from red to grey.
When the liver has turned in color, add the wine and let it bubble.
Add the tomatoes and the herbs.  Add the rabbit, bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a gentle simmering. Let it cook for at least one hour or as long as it takes for the rabbit to be really soft.
Serve over…whatever you like J

wow. Just, wow.

we had the rest of the livers as a snack...yum !

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Finnan Haddie Chowder

creamy smoky goodness...

Sorry I've been a bit quiet lately...never fear, I've been eating plenty :)

I love fish, I love chowder, and I love smoked really, this is the perfect combination for me : some of my favorite things, in convenient spoonable form. Not to mention Lent-friendly and made from items I had around the house...and I happen to come from a long line of chowder makers and great aunt, Narnie, was a particular mistress of the art. Really, I had no choice !!

First, a word about Finnan Haddie itself. Finnan Haddie is Scottish in origin (like me....well, partially ;) ) . It is a lightly smoked haddock, "Finnan" referring to the village of Findon, Scotland and "haddie" being, of course, haddock. In the Scots vernacular, "Findon Haddock" eases its way to "Finnan Haddie". The official origins are unknown - it probably didn't take cavemen long to figure out that the food that picked up smoke from the fire not only tasted better, but lasted longer - and many, many cultures have been salting and smoking fish since the beginning of time. I did once read a charming story about a shack full of salted fish in Findon that had the misfortune of having the building next door catch on fire, and the surprised villagers finding that it actually tasted better....thus resulting in the first Finnan Haddie. I find this one a little far fetched - for one thing, it not verra easy to surprise a Scotsman, and I don't think he'd admit it if you did ;). Still, a charming most Scottish ones are.

Our Finnan Haddie came from fish that we actually caught and smoked ourselves (see fishing trip here, recipe here, and picture of the smoking fish here.  ) . The fish is brined, and then smoked - here's a picture of the finished product :

Och, a lovely wee platter o' fishies ;)

Traditional Finnan Haddie is lightly smoked - so lightly that it's actually not quite fully cooked. Ours ended up more smoke-cooked, which was actually preferable - the boy happily ate up quite a bit of it with cream cheese on bagels for breakfast. It also froze beautifully, which is why I still had two pounds left to make this lovely, lovely chowder. True Finnan Haddie is available in many markets, or you can order it online . We found a great smokehouse on a road trip last summer, Bold Coast Smokehouse , which we would highly recommend for anything - including Finnan Haddie. The basics of the chowder are quite straightforward : simmer the haddock in a sort of quickie court bouillon of water and aromatic vegetables, then use the delicious smoky bouillon to cook the potatoes, add the fish back in along with milk and cream, and slowly heat (never boil) until the flavors are happily melded and the whole thing is a silky, hot, delicious Culinary Orgasm.

One last word before we get into the recipe...well, two words : salt pork. Traditionally, chowders are made with salt pork - Narnie would definitely not have made it any other way. However, to keep this recipe Lent-friendly ( and hey, also kosher...I'm good like that)  , I have substituted butter. To do it right, you would render about 1/4 pound of salt pork and saute the onion and celery in the fat. (To render, cut pork into small bits and slowly cook in the bottom of your pot until you are just left with crispy bits and lovely pork fat. When we were kids we used to fight over who got to eat the bits...but you can also just garnish the chowder with them).

Finnan Haddie Chowder
Serves six, generously

To poach haddock :

3 cups water
1 tsp peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 leafy celery stalk, roughly chopped (leaves and all)
1 small onion, roughly chopped
(Optional - if using leeks, include the dark green leafy tops here, chopped up a bit)
2 pounds Finnan Haddie (smoked haddock)

Bring all ingredients except haddock to a boil in a large, flat saucepan that will also hold the fish in one layer if possible. Add haddock and lower heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer covered for 15 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork (don't break it apart totally, though, because you're going to need to transfer it to your chowder).

Chowder :

2 tablespoons butter (or rendered salt pork - see above)
1 onion, finely chopped (or two leeks, white and tender green only, chopped)
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 large potatoes (a starchy, all purpose type if possible), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme

In a Dutch oven or heavy stockpot, melt the butter (or render and remove salt pork.) Add onion (or leek) and celery, and saute until onion is soft but not brown. Set a strainer in the pot, and strain the haddock poaching liquid right in.. Add potatoes, bring to a boil, then turn down to a healthy simmer until potatoes are done, about 15 minutes. Now add the haddock back in - breaking it up as you do - and add the milk, cream, and thyme. Slowly bring to the barest simmer to heat through, about 10 - 15 minutes or so.

ready to eat !


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Variations on two themes : Blueberry-White Chocolate Bread Pudding, Crockpot Version

posting this for my co-workers....

At our recent Red Sox Home Opener office party (oh yes...any excuse for a party around here !) we were encouraged to bring desserts...well, as you all probably know I need very little encouragement in that area :). The guys suggested my Blueberry-White Chocolate Bread Pudding  , which I liked the idea of except for the lack of ovens in my office (really, it's best served warm.) I recalled in my foodie reading adventures seeing variations on bread pudding made in a slow of my most-loved appliances. Just a few tweaks, I thought, and one of my most famous desserts could be brought to a whole new level. Less butter and more chocolate, and a bread that would work a little better with low and slow heat...oh yeah, I got this !

I showed up at work bright and early with my dry ingredients ready in the crockpot and my eggs and cream all mixed up in an oversized water bottle. A little mixing, plug it in....and after three and a half hours later of tormenting anyone who walked into the kitchen with the smell,  I had what was possibly the best version of this pudding I have ever made. And that, my friends, is saying something.

Without further's what to do ! 

Blueberry-White Chocolate Bread Pudding, Crockpot Variation

4 large eggs
4 cups heavy cream
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 bag Ghirardelli White Chocolate Chips (11 oz)
6 cups 1/2-inch cubes challah bread (Jewish egg bread, slightly sweet...Portuguese Sweet or even potato would work as well).
1 cup dried blueberries

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in the cream, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the bread, chocolate, and dried blueberries and stir well, Pour into crockpot. Cook on LOW for 3 1/2 hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

A note on the chocolate....if you're going to use white chocolate, try to use a really good quality one to avoid that fake vanilla flavor. Ghirardelli is not only good quality, but it comes in convenient bags of chips. No, they're not paying me to say that :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A freezer treasure hunt.

Clean Out The Freezer Cassoulet

I'm not going to actually blog about cassoulet again, since I've already mentioned it a few times...the basic recipe I use can be found here. I was amazed, however, at the cassoulet-ready contents I had around...which is why I made it today...and why I had to share : 

Home-Smoked Turkey Leg
a ham hock (I actually have a bunch of these left. And smoked turkey tails. Don't even ask :) )
duck necks
handful of chopped ham from the smokehouse in Canterbury, NH.
4 D'Artangnan chorizos
3 chicken breasts

And, of course, I had plenty of navy beans, chicken stock, vegetables, panko crumbs...

Seriously, I think I need an intervention. Or a second job !!

It was a really, really, REALLY awesome batch of cassoulet though :)

Hope you all had great weekends !!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Oktoberfest in April

Oktoberfest in April


Sauerbraten – German Pot Roast with Gingersnap Gravy  
Kartoffelklosse – German Potato Dumplings
Rothkohl – Braised Red Cabbage
Sellerisalat – Celery Root Salad
Homemade Pumpernickel Rolls
A selection of German beers and wines

Oh, was this some fun !!

A bit of background - as some of you know, when I'm not wreaking havoc in the kitchen I can also be found doing the music thing...I sing alto and venue manage (for lack of a better term) for the Newton Community Chorus  - a fantastic group which I have had the pleasure of being a member of for the past 15 years or so. This past weekend was our first Mystery Dinner fundraiser - something I'd never heard of until now, but a super cool idea...and right up my alley :) For a minimum donation (in our case $20) , diners list their top three dinner choices from a list of options (we had ten) The evening of the event, you show up at a cocktail party where you find out your destination, chefs, and dining partners for the evening. You then proceed to your dinner, enjoy, and then meet up with all the other participants for dessert (and in our case a silent auction).  The dinners all had great themes...Under the Sea, The Big Night, Hungarian Rhapsody etc. We chose to put on a German dinner...and so, "Oktoberfest in April".  German is a style of cooking we do pretty well (see my previous Oktoberfest entry ) and it's easy to make a large quantity...but most important for this particular meal, it's fairly easy to do most of it in advance (except, as it turns out, the dumplings) and then transport. We had the pleasure of cooking at one of our other member's beautiful homes...a gorgeous house with a huge dining room and a dream kitchen - something which I sadly lack. She also has an amazing art collection...and is super nice and incredibly gracious besides (thank you again Betsy !!) The dinner was a huge success, even if the dumplings weren't my best batch ever...we had a great group of people, everyone ate everything up and oohed and aahed, and we enjoyed a nice shot of Kirschwasser afterwards. Oma would have been proud :). I'll find out tomorrow how much we raised...and what dessert I'm making for the person that won my silent auction item - a dessert of their choice. Definitely a great time !

The Sauerbraten, Rotkohl (red cabbage), and Kartoffelklosse (potato dumplings) are all in the link above...check after the pictures if you're interested in the recipes for Sellerisalat and the pumpernickel rolls.

Guten Essen !

(ETA  - the dinner and auction together raised over $7500 !! Go us !!)

ricing the potatoes for dumplings

croutons for dumplings

red cabbage simmering away

finished dumplings


pumpernickel rolls

meat and cabbage...what else do you need ? :)

oh - before the recipe - a few notes on celery root....

Celeriac, or celery root, is a root vegetable very closely related to regular celery (it does sprout celery-ish looking stalks, which are great to garnish a Bloody Mary but not particularly tasty on their own. ) They look like alien potatoes :

I swear, it's food...the tentacles don't move !!
Once you peel away all the ugly, you get a gorgeous white vegetable with a pleasant light celery smell and flavor. Germans absolutely love celery root, though when Oma was alive it was most often found in cans in this country. Now, though, you can get it in most better supermarkets - lucky for us ! You can use it in soups, roast it, mash it...or make Sellerisalat. There are two basic versions of this salad - one uses grated raw celery root in a mayonnaise-y type dressing. The other, which is what we grew up with, uses cooked celery root, marinated in vinegar. It's one of the best palate-cleansers I know...perfect after gorgeous, rich German food.

Try and buy the smallest celery roots you can, as they will have the best flavor and texture...fist-sized is really ideal.

Selleriesalat (Celery Root Salad)

2 small or 1 large celery root, peeled and cubed
Beef, chicken, or vegetable stock to just cover (2 cups or so)
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp salt
fresh dill, to garnish

Cook the celery root in the stock until tender, about 15 minutes or so. Drain, and mix with the vinegar, water salt and pepper. Marinate overnight. Drain before serving, and garnish with fresh chopped dill.

Pumpernickel Rolls

1 3/4 cups warm water
1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups bread flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
11/2 cups rye flour
2 teaspoons salt

Stir together first 3 ingredients in the mixing bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer. Let stand 5 minutes.
Add coffee and next 4 ingredients to yeast mixture. Beat at low speed with dough hook attachment for 1 minute or until soft dough comes together. Beat at medium speed 4 minutes. (Dough will be slightly sticky.)
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and separate, and roll into balls. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and let rise for 30 minutes. Spray tops of rolls with water (or carefully brush - only a little though ! ) . Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 12 - 14 minutes or until lightly browned.