Food Friday: Apple and Sultana Crumble for Downrigging Weekend

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This weekend is Downrigging Weekend in Chestertown, a busy time for everyone. And we have gone to the Way Back Machine for this week’s recipe because it will be fast and easy to prepare so we won’t miss out on any of the festivities. Plus it will use local, seasonal fruit (which helps to assuage our oh, so many guilts) and it will celebrate the Sultana. And look, the sultanas are almost the same color as the schooner! Who would have guessed?

We ran downtown to the Farmers’ Market last week to procure the ingredients for the crumble, and are laying in a good supply of craft beers and Prosecco, because Saturday night is Prosecco Night whether there are tall ships in the harbor or not!

Here is a link to all that is happening this weekend on Downrigging Weekend: http://sultanaeducation.org/public-programs/downrigging-weekend-2/festival-schedule/

There is so much going on! Tall Ships, Halloween, Marc Castelli has an opening at the Massoni Gallery and there is music and the RiverArts studio tour and the Halloween Parade! Get cooking now so you can join in all the fun!
The National Weather Service warns that it will be cool and breezy, with a 40% chance of rain. Don your sou’wester, toss on a sweater, and don’t forget your Trick or Treat bags!

Apple and Sultana Crumble

Filling:
6 cups peeled and cored apples, chopped
½ cup Sultanas
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Topping:
¾ cup flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ pound chilled butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large mixing bowl, add the apple pieces and then scatter the sultanas like rosebuds. Mix the cinnamon and the sugar together, and sprinkle over the apples. Now sprinkle the lemon juice over everything. Toss briskly. Put the apple mixture into a deep pie pan, spreading it evenly.

Combine the dry topping ingredients in another bowl, adding the butter, and mixing it coarsely with a spoon or an electric mixer. Now spread the crumbling crumble mixture over the apple filling.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until the topping is golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream, or homemade Devon cream if you’ve a mind to. Personally, I can’t wait.

“Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.”
-Jane Austen

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2003/10/apple_crumble_with_vanilla_ice_cream

http://www.marthastewart.com/332796/apple-cranberry-crumble

http://www.gourmet.com/recipes/2000s/2008/11/fall-fruit-crumble

Revenge on the Chestnut by Bobbie Brittingham

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The word revenge might be a little too strong for this situation, but it really felt good to say it. There are several different kind of chestnuts. The color of a horse for one. I had a beautiful big 17 hand horse named Shannon when I was a young woman many years ago, but I still can see how bright his coat shinned after giving him a bath as he stood in the sun. He had a lovely bright chestnut color. I loved it. Horses also have a small hard scaly growth on their legs called a chestnut. There is the chestnut wood used in fine furniture, and it has beautiful rich grain to it. A woman with chestnut color hair as Maureen O’Hara had, to be envied by many. THEN there is the chestnut tree. A tree that produces sought after edible nuts. More about them later. I want to inform you about the beauty of this tree. It is rather a medium to fast growing deciduous tree that can eventually reach 75 to 100 feet. In the early 20th century, a fungal blight carried by a hitch hiker almost wiped out the American Chestnut. They are breeding them now in hopes that they can create a tree that will be resistant to this deadly blight. Large oval serrated leaves that cover wide sweeping arching branches. The bark has an interesting rough grey-brown bark. The spring brings forth a beautiful white cascading candle-like blossom, and it has a slight sweet fragrance. They were so prominent on the Appalachian Mountain tops that when they were in bloom it was said to look like snow on the tops of the mountains. These blossoms drop and will create drifts that can clog the gutters.

Close up ChestnutThe architectural branches add great interest to the winter landscape too. They are a very lovely tree with many attributes, but they do have a major major (that is a double major) drawback. Word of caution, my language and tone might change as I reveal the very despicable side of this tree. In the fall these stately trees drop a round, hard, thorny, sharply, bristly, prickly, spiky, covered ball. They are treacherous to step on and it will go thru a flip – flop. Yes, I really do know about this from firsthand experience. The tree should never, ever, be planted near any path, door or opening within 100 yards of where inhabitants or cohabitants are living. Mine is !!!!! Located on the drive side of the house, right where anyone who gets out of a car steps on them, and I walk almost daily. This is my real reason for the extreme disdain I have for this particular chestnut tree.

But the chestnut does have a little secret inside these tennis size monstrous balls. There is a sweet delicious buttery nut. This is the first year I took the challenge, or rather an attempt at doing something with them. After all, I had to find a way to wage revenge on the tree. I really didn’t want to cut it down since I love my trees and have planted over 87 trees in three years on a few acres. This seemed like a reasonable excuse to salvage some decent kind of reward from the continuous raking and cleaning up these nasty —- spiny, prickly things that the devil grew. The little nut inside will luckily loosen from the surrounding barricade and to descend with a thud to the ground. The only thing is that between the squirrels and me was an hourly dash to grab Chestnut treewhat we could before the other did. I had collected a nice bag of these exquisite chestnuts and decided this would be my revenge. These are the nuts that romantic, holiday songs have been written, and people pay dearly for from a street vendor. They are of culinary fame from soup to, well, nuts is one word, but I will say just deserts. So I looked up on Goggle how to roast these prized gems. I bought a special roasting pan and a special tool for cutting the ends in a cross pattern. I invested all of only $68.00 at Amazon. This proves they really do have everything.

I invited a friend over to enter into this process with me. I was making sure that if I were poisoned from this experiment, someone could tell my children how brave I was. I followed the directions from Miss Martha (you know THE one) and opened a bottle of white wine to help with digestion. The special frying pan was scattered with about fifteen prepared nuts. I turned the gas on to medium and stood back in admiration of this fulfilling moment. Soon the cross started to peel away from the inside treasure. All was waiting for REVENGE. Some butter was melted, and some salt was ground and then the moment of complete ecstatic REVENGE !!!! YES– YES– YES. Almost as good as When Harry Met Sally.

Now you can make up your own mind about whether you want a Chestnut tree . If I had my choice, I would never plant one close to the house. I would certainly plant one just far enough out of the way so that it does not cause undo pain, but still close enough that I can race the squirrels.

Food Friday: It’s Better with Butter

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Some foods are just better with butter; better dipped in butter, or served with lashings of melted butter. Those steamed organic French green beans? Add some butter. Have a tough little steak? Get out the beurre de maitre d’hotel.

And honestly, is there is nothing more satisfying than eating home made popcorn with oodles of melted butter? When you are still only halfway through the movie, and you have polished off the fluffy popped whole kernels, and you are reduced to pushing the hard nubbins and old maids around the bottom of the bowl, through the clots of salt and the limpid pools of melted butter. Divine! And look! Mr. D’Arcy and Lizzie are coming around, again! Pride and Prejudice can never get more romantic than that!

Melted butter is the principal excuse for eating so many of our favorite foods: popcorn, lobster, and artichokes. Add to those basics corn on the cob, conch, potatoes Anna, steamed stone crabs; feel free to fill in the blanks with a few of your own! _____________________________, ______________________________ and don’t forget___________________________. These foods are merely vehicles for conveying melted butter down our gullets and chins.

Here is a cheat sheet:

First: You have to know how to make clarified butter. In a 1-quart saucepan melt 1/2 cup butter over low heat without stirring. Remove from the heat and let the butter cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Use a spoon to skim off the milky top layer, if present, and discard. Pour off the clear top layer and save. This is the clarified butter.

Popcorn: https://food52.com/recipes/24215-perfect-popcorn

Steamed lobster: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/perfectly-steamed-lobster

Steamed artichokes: http://www.oceanmist.com/artichokes/steam-artichoke-2/

How to eat an artichoke: http://www.yummly.com/recipe/external/Basic-Steamed-Artichokes-506509

Stone crabs: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Steamed-Stone-Crab-Claws-with-Melted-Butter

Corn on the cob: http://damndelicious.net/2014/04/18/mexican-corn-cob/

Conch: http://www.nytimes.com/1991/02/10/magazine/food-that-old-poisoned-arrow.html?src=pm&pagewanted=2

Potatoes Anna: http://www.marthastewart.com/338792/potatoes-anna
This was the recipe I used for years, and I thought quite deelish, but now my college graduate children say they disliked intensely. They said it was too greasy. Perhaps I erred on the heavy-handed side with the butter. But to my children, ungrateful wretches, to whom I say, “It’s a good thing you don’t live here anymore!”

Butter-Dipped Radishes: for when you need to impress! http://thesensitiveepicure.blogspot.com/2013/12/butter-dipped-radishes-with-sea-salt.html

The science of melted butter in baked goods: http://www.finecooking.com/item/31976/melted-butter-in-baked-goods

My brother is the mashed potato guru in our family. He is called upon to ritualistically prepare the tubers for major feast days. He mashes the steaming potatoes with a hand-held electric mixer before adding cream and then melted butter. He insists that using melted butter is the swiftest path to lump-free potatoes. And with the holidays sneaking up on us once again, that is probably a fun fact to file away.

You will be pleased to know that I draw the line at cinnamon fried butter from the Iowa State Fair– something I found during my research. It was almost as off-putting at the Fried Pig Ears (from the Minnesota State Fair) in a photo just below the fried butter story. Blech. (http://kitchenette.jezebel.com/the-most-ridiculous-deep-fried-foods-from-state-fairs-a-1572769682) I am sure that someday my heart will thank me for finally drawing a line in the butter!

Once, long ago and far, far away, I ordered Chicken Kiev at the old Russian Tea Room restaurant in New York City. It was a glorious, intimidating place, and I was fairly certain in my college-sophisticate fashion, that it was very expensive. I had read about it in New York Magazine, after all. I think I was given one of those menus often passed out to women diners in those days – no prices were printed on it. I had a reputation in college for being a cheap date, and invariably I would order chicken. Dutifully, I sipped thimbles of cold vodka, and fumbled with some unfamiliar caviar and blinis. When my default chicken dish arrived I was surprised, first when the waiter cut into it for me, and then when a small wave of tarragon-infused molten butter gushed out onto my plate. The chandelier and mirror-glittery, red velvet flocked restaurant was full of surprises. And the melted butter made it all so delicious.

“I shouldn’t think even millionaires could eat anything nicer than new bread and real butter and honey for tea.”
― Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

The Roadhouse Clams, Swamp Donkey Headline Oct. 25 OysterFest

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The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s October 25 OysterFest features two stages of live music, with The Roadhouse Clams, shown here, playing from the historic Tolchester Beach Bandstand, and the Annapolis-based Swamp Donkey playing from the lower deck of the Steamboat Building. Special to this year’s OysterFest will be songwriter Michael Kelly, who will debut his song, The Boatbuilder, during one of The Roadhouse Clams’ breaks. The song was written about legendary boatbuilder Bronza Parks, who built the skipjack Rosie Parks and dovetail Martha, among many other boats along the Chesapeake Bay. Photo Credit: Michael Driscoll.

OysterFest features two stages of live music, with The Roadhouse Clams, shown here, playing from the historic Tolchester Beach Bandstand, and the Annapolis-based Swamp Donkey playing from the lower deck of the Steamboat Building.

The Chesapeake’s favorite bivalve may be the star of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s October 25 OysterFest, but the music line-up and the return of Fordham Brewing Company’s Rosie Parks Oyster Stout will provide some of this year’s highlights.

Slated to bring a feisty blend of country, roadhouse and “juke joint” music to OysterFest is the Centreville-based group The Roadhouse Clams. The Clams are known to bring the sounds of Steve Earle, The Rolling Stones, John Hiatt, Old 97’s, and the Zac Brown Band to life. They have appeared live with the Avett Brothers, Jonny Lang, Deanna Bogart, Flogging Molly, Gin Blossoms and other nationally known artists. The Clams play at OysterFest from the historic Tolchester Beach Bandstand beginning at 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Beginning at 10 a.m., singer-songwriter Michael Kelly will weave melodic guitar and soulful vocals into his performance from the Tolchester Beach Bandstand. Kelly will debut his song, The Boatbuilder, during one of The Roadhouse Clams’ breaks. The song was written about legendary boatbuilder Bronza Parks, who built the museum’s skipjack Rosie Parks and dovetail Martha, among many other boats along the Chesapeake Bay.

In honor of the CBMM’s skipjack Rosie Parks—which was relaunched at OysterFest 2013 after a historic, three year restoration—Fordham Brewing Co.’s Rosie Parks Oyster Stout will be served on tap during this year’s October 25 event. The stout is now available in 12-ounce six packs in regional markets, with Fordham donating proceeds from each sale to CBMM. At the festival, singer-songwriter Michael Kelly will debut The Boatbuilder, a song written about legendary boatbuilder Bronza Parks, who built the museum’s skipjack Rosie Parks and dovetail Martha, among many others along the Chesapeake Bay.

In honor of the CBMM’s skipjack Rosie Parks—which was relaunched at OysterFest 2013 after a historic, three year restoration—Fordham Brewing Co.’s Rosie Parks Oyster Stout will be served on tap during this year’s October 25 event.

Across the boardwalk along Fogg’s Cove, festival-goers can listen to the vocal harmonies and tight transitions of the Annapolis-based group, Swamp Donkey. Noted as a high energy newgrass band with a twist of rock, the group will be playing on the lower decks of the Steamboat Building from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In honor of the museum’s skipjack Rosie Parks—which was relaunched at OysterFest 2013 after a three year restoration—Fordham Brewing Co.’s Rosie Parks Oyster Stout will be served on tap during the event. The stout is also available in 12-ounce six packs at select locations throughout the Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Washington D.C. markets, with Fordham donating a portion of each sale’s proceeds to CBMM.

OysterFest admission will be taken at the museum the day of the event, and is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students with ID, and $6 for children between the ages of six and 17. Admission is free for CBMM members and children under six. Performances are included in the admission prices, with food, beverages and boat rides available at an additional cost. For safety reasons, festival-goers need to keep dogs at home, as leashed dogs are only permitted on museum grounds during regular operating hours. For more information about OysterFest, visit www.cbmm.org/oysterfest or call 410-745-2916.

Food Friday: The Julia Child Effect

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Twice a day, Luke and I eye each other for a few moments after he sits, on command, before he falls on his bowl of kibble. He is waiting for me to give him the okay to start eating. What trills out of my mouth is my bad imitation of Julia Child shrieking in falsetto, “Bon appétit!” We have been doing this for two years. The poor dog. He lives in a bad Saturday Night Live sketch, sans a Bass-o-matic.

Although I should report that I just stalked back into the studio from the laundry room where I stood, and looked accusingly at Luke, as he retreated from attempting to inhale the stinky cat food. Wouldn’t Julia Child have shouted out, “Bad dog!” in French? “Luc, tu es un vilain chien!” (That was my best Kevin Kline French accent, by the way.) These are the daily trials that challenge people who work from home. If I had been in a proper office exchanging bon mots with my talented and creative colleagues, Luke could have carried out his mission in triumph, and no one would have been the wiser. The cat would suffer in her usual silent, moribund fashion. Bon appétit, indeed…

I hear Julia’s voice like Handel’s fanfare announcing the arrival of the Queen of Sheba when I think of certain foods, like quiche Lorraine, cheese soufflé and babas au rhum, and of course, coq au vin. Julie Powell wrote cleverly about her fascination with Julia Child, but I think we all have a little bit of Julia Child’s spirit when we return to the kitchen after our summer hiatus, and take up the challenge of cooking warm, nurturing meals for our dinner companions and loved ones. Julia is whispering inside our pointy little heads that we can be French chefs, if only for the weekend. Walk away from the grill, put down the pizza dough and file the take away menus. Light the stove. Open the wine. Let’s cook!

Coq Au Vin [Chicken in Red Wine with Onions, Mushrooms and Bacon]
Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Feeds 4 to 6 people
A 3- to 4-ounce chunk of bacon
A heavy, 10-inch, fireproof casserole
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 to 3 pounds cut-up frying chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup cognac
3 cups young, full-bodied red wine such as Burgundy, Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Chianti
1 to 2 cups brown chicken stock, brown stock or canned beef bouillon
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
12 to 24 brown-braised onions (recipe follows)
1/2 pound sautéed mushrooms (recipe follows)
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons softened butter
Sprigs of fresh parsley

1. Remove the rind of and cut the bacon into lardons (rectangles 1/4-inch across and 1 inch long). Simmer for 10 minutes in 2 quarts of water. Rinse in cold water. Dry. [Deb note: As noted, I'd totally skip this step next time.]
2. Sauté the bacon slowly in hot butter until it is very lightly browned. Remove to a side dish.
3. Dry the chicken thoroughly. Brown it in the hot fat in the casserole.
4. Season the chicken. Return the bacon to the casserole with the chicken. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.
5. Uncover, and pour in the cognac. Averting your face, ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the casserole back and forth for several seconds until the flames subside.
6. Pour the wine into the casserole. Add just enough stock or bouillon to cover the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to the simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and its juices run a clear yellow when the meat is pricked with a fork. Remove the chicken to a side dish.
7. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms (recipe follows).
8. Simmer the chicken cooking liquid in the casserole for a minute or two, skimming off the fat. Then raise the heat and boil rapidly, reducing the liquid to about 2 1/4 cups. Correct seasoning. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf.
9. Blend the butter and flour together into a smooth paste (buerre manie). Beat the paste into the hot liquid with a wire whip. Bring to the simmer, stirring, and simmer for a minute or two. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
10. Arrange the chicken in the casserole, place the mushrooms and onions around it and baste with the sauce. If this dish is not to be served immediately, film the top of the sauce with stock or dot with small pieces of butter. Set aside uncovered. It can now wait indefinitely.
11. Shortly before serving, bring to the simmer, basting the chicken with the sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is hot enough.
12. Sever from the casserole, or arrange on a hot platter. Decorate with spring for parsley.

Oignons Glacés a Brun [Brown-braised Onions]
Mastering the Art of French Cooking

For 18 to 24 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter:
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
A 9- to 10-inch enameled skillet
1/2 cup of brown stock, canned beef bouillon, dry white wine, red wine or water
Salt and pepper to taste
A medium herb bouquet: 3 parsley springs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 teaspoon thyme tied in cheesecloth
When the butter and oil are bubbling the skillet, add the onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect to brown them uniformly.
Pour in the liquid, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the herb bouquet. Serve them as they are.

Champignons Sautés Au Buerre [Sautéed Mushrooms]
Mastering the Art of French Cooking

A 10-inch enameled skillet
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large
1 to 2 tablespoons minced shallots or green onions (optional)
Salt and pepper
Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating that it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During their sauté the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.
Toss the shallots or green onions with the mushrooms. Sauté over moderate heat for 2 minutes.
Sautéed mushrooms may be cooked in advance, set aside, then reheated when needed. Season to taste just before serving.

(Thanks to http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2006/12/magnificence-au-vin/)

Here are one hundred of Julia Child’s favorite dishes:
http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/06/01/julia-child%E2%80%99s-100-favorite-recipes-revealed Mmmmm. #37, braised calf brains…

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
― Julia Child

Rabbi Hyman and Bishop Johnson to Teach “Ancient Voices, Modern Topics”

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Bishop Joel Marcus Johnson, Scossa owner-chef Giancarlo Tondin, and Rabbi Peter E. Hyman are presenting a savory seminar beginning October 22, entitled “Ancient Voices, Modern Topics.”

That irrepressible trio is at it again! Rabbi Peter E. Hyman, Scossa owner-chef Giancarlo Tondin, and Bishop Joel Marcus Johnson, are offering another savory seminar in the banquet hall of Ristorante Scossa in downtown Easton. The seminar is entitled “Ancient Voices, Modern Topics.” Scholars will dine on Tondin’s culinary delights, while learning from ancient writers with Bishop and Rabbi.

The seminar will be held on four consecutive Wednesdays, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., October 22 and 29, and November 5 and 7. Scholars also will have first dibs for the best seats on an exclusive November 19 motor coach trip to Washington, DC, for a private tour of the Freer Sackler Smithsonian Museum’s exciting new exhibition, “Unearthing Arabia: The Archaeological Adventures of Wendell Phillips.”

This will be Rabbi Hyman and Bishop Johnson’s eleventh academic course, most often in college classrooms and museums, and now four times in Ristorante Scossa. They do not teach religion classes as such, but offer courses in history and literature.

“For this course,” Bishop Johnson said, “we have chosen four modern topics, and have searched the literature to see what the ancients had to say about them. For five thousand years, the topics are surprisingly the same, whether in cuneiform from ancient Sumer and Mesopotamia, or in the Hebrew Scriptures, or the Talmud. The seminar will be full of surprises.”

The four topics are immigration, abortion & euthanasia, capital punishment, and sexual & gender identity issues.

“The bishop and I always admonish our students,” Rabbi Hyman said, “that ‘ancient’ doesn’t mean ‘stupid’ – those writers were very sophisticated thinkers. We like to think we bring out the best in them.”

A few good seats are still available for the seminar. The registration fee of $50 covers the four lectures, and scholars have the right of first refusal to register for the November 19 field trip at a separate cost. The cost of luncheon is separate from the tuition, and generally in the $13 range. To register, call Temple B’nai Israel at 410-822-0553, and ask for Nancy.

Certificates of Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are provided for clergy and other professionals.

Hyman is Rabbi of Temple B’nai Israel, and Johnson is Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of The Chesapeake. They are both longtime theological educators.

 

Food Friday: Beer Today, Gone Tomorrow

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We have quite a few friends who are real beer enthusiasts. They have traveled to Belgium and Holland for the beer. They make sudden detours when spinning around Irish roundabouts to find remote specialty pubs. They visit microbreweries. They make knowing and considered remarks about the subtle and alluring flavor of a wheat beer. They nod seriously as they quaff. So perhaps they should read no further, because this week, in honor of National American Beer Month, we will be using beer as an ingredient, not as a beverage.

When I started drinking beer back in the Dark Ages, the event we remember most fondly about Freshman Orientation at Washington College was that there was a beer truck, dispensing pale, watery tepid refreshment. (It was legal back then for eighteen year olds to drink beer.) We progressed to highly sophisticated and stylish Dollar Drunks in East Hall, and on Thursday nights we ordered the cheapest, lightest beers at the Tavern. Flash ahead a few years when I was living in London, and learning to drink bitter, never lager. Perhaps it was the Orientation experience that set my palate for warmish, watery brews…

In Washington State while on vacation this summer we visited some local establishments that had many an artisanal beer on tap, and my recent college graduate would delight in pontificating on the pros and cons of each beer he taste-tested. I will drink a good local beer to be polite when traveling, but mostly I order Bass Pale Ale. With Fall arriving, we need to consider some comfort foods, and freshly baked breads and cakes should fit the bill.

Easy, Peasy Beer Bread

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups self-rising flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
12 ounces beer (I used Heineken)
2 tablespoons melted butter

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
2. Butter an 8×4 inch loaf pan and set aside. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and beer in a large bowl and mix well. The mixture will be sticky. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for about 55 minutes.
3. During the last few minutes of baking, remove the loaf from oven, and brush the top with the melted butter and return to oven for the final three minutes of baking.

Add chili, chips and more beer.

http://www.brit.co/beer-bread-recipes/

http://www.spoonforkbacon.com/2012/11/black-pepper-parmesan-beer-bread/

Here is a Guinness Cake from the kitchen goddess herself, Nigella Lawson:
http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/chocolate-guinness-cake-3086

I just love her opening line: “This cake is magnificent in its damp blackness.”

We have started talking about Thanksgiving – which is a huge development in our normal planning process (which is to procrastinate until the last possible moment) and perhaps we will be brining and then deep frying the turkey this year. Here is a baby step for anyone else contemplating such a radical change to a holiday tradition! And here we give thanks to our friends at Food52 for cooking a chicken: https://food52.com/recipes/1431-stout-little-hen

Needless to say, one must always be sure to use high quality, well-tested ingredients when cooking at home. Bottoms up!

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”
― Abraham Lincoln

Food, Herbs and History of the War of 1812 Era

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Katherine Barney Moose

Katherine Barney Moose

Author, lecturer and gourmet cook Katie Barney Moose will be the speaker for the October 16 Brown Bag Lunch at the Easton Branch of the Talbot County Free Library. The program is free and open to the public.

Ms. Moose has developed a very interesting program for the War of 1812, discussing early food, herbs and history leading up to the War. Learn what was consumed during that time period, and how food was provided to the troops.

Ms. Moose is a descendant of the Clagett family of Maryland and old New England whaling families, and a member of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America. She has given lectures and cooking demonstrations on many parts of the world, including the Middle East, North Africa, the Chesapeake Bay region, the Pacific Northwest, French and British herbs, early American and Italian herbs, Latin America, Spices, Greece and Southeast Asia.

Ms. Moose has authored and co-authored many books about the Eastern Shore including Eastern Shore of Maryland: The Guidebook, Chesapeake’s Bounty and Chesapeake’s Bounty II. She is in the process of publishing an international cookbook covering every country around the world. This book will include the history of the cuisine of the countries, the dining etiquette, and recipes contributed by ambassadors, their chefs, and international friends. In addition, Ms. Moose is a consultant on international business and protocol.

This free program begins at noon and will last approximately one hour. Guests are invited to bring their lunch to eat during the program or just come to listen and learn. Coffee and sweets will be provided by the Friends of the Library, who sponsor the Brown Bag Lunch program.

Food Friday: It’s National Pumpkin Month!

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And it is also National Dessert Month!

Heavens to Betsy! However shall we deal with two such charming prospects? Let’s start at the very beginning, and learn how to prepare pumpkin purée, so you can leave the cans of Libby’s on the grocery store shelves and do more than decorate with all of the pumpkins you are going to haul home from this weekend’s farmers’ markets.

Pumpkin Purée

Ingredients
3 pounds sliced pumpkin
½ cup water

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 375°F and put the pumpkin chunks on a cookie sheet with sides or a big sheet cake pan – skin-side down or up – it doesn’t matter.
Pour the water in the pan. Roast for 45 minutes until fork tender.
Remove the pumpkin from skin when it is still warm. Purée in a food processor or blender until it is smooth. Store it in a container in the fridge for about a week or freeze some of it for a later use.

Now that you have some purée on hand, it is time to get baking! And because it is National Dessert Month you have to bake something sweet and wicked and pumpkin-y. (Next week is National American Beer Week, in case you wondered…)

I am a big fan of cupcakes. They are small, sweet and finite. We don’t live in a big hipster city, so I haven’t experienced many artisinal bakeries that specialize in solely cupcakes. We wandered into the Hummingbird Bakery in London one cold wet November and were delighted by their wee, sweet, and colorful cakes, but I missed all the hoopla and hours standing in line in New York at the trendy Magnolia Bakery, which was made famous and desirable by Sex and the City – though I doubt whether those skinny-mini actors actually ate any of the cupcakes… I would opt for the cupcakes over their shoes, though.

Cupcakes are a temptation you don’t have to resist; they are a perfect form of portion control. Plus you can enjoy delicately peeling away the fluted paper cup, and remember that it is a lifelong skill you mastered in first grade, perhaps. If you have no impulse management at all you can go buy half a dozen pumpkin pecan cupcakes at Magnolia for $24, or you can bake some more humble – yet equally delish pumpkin cupcakes – yourself, and pocket about $20. http://store.magnoliabakery.com/pumpkin-pecan-cupcake-p44.aspx

Here is a family-sized recipe for pumpkin cupcakes.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting – makes 18 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt (we like crunchy Maldon salt)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée (but you have yours safely tucked up in the fridge!)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium sized bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice together and set aside.
In a big bowl, whisk the sugars, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the pumpkin purée.
Divide batter evenly among liners, I use a plastic measuring cup, either the quarter cup or the third of a cup, depending on the size of the cupcake. (Too much math for me to figure out mini cupcake measurements, though. You will need to eyeball those.) Fill them each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, or if the toothpick comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let the pan cool on a rack.
It is the taste of pumpkin pie without the holiday trappings or in-law trauma!

Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick, 4 ounces), room temperature
8 ounces of Philadelphia cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
2 to 3 cups of confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla – pure extract – no imitation!

Use an electric mixer and beat the cream cheese and butter together until completely smooth, about 3 minutes on medium speed. Then use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to be sure that the mixture is evenly mixed

Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer running, slowly add in the powdered sugar. Confectioners’ sugar has cornstarch that will help thicken the frosting, as well as making it sweet. Keeping adding confectioners’ sugar until the frosting is thick enough to schmear in an satisfyingly artistic fashion across the tops of the cupcakes. Decorate with abandon. Candy corn or sprinkles are encouraged, or the edible dragées, the silver ball bearings that the Doctor so adores. And what are you going to do with that $20?

“First we eat, then we do everything else.”
― M.F.K. Fisher

Eastern Shore: The New Wine Country

NewWineCountry

Wine Country and Eastern Shore of Maryland are yet to be synonymous phrases.

That could change as new vineyards are established across the Shore from Berlin to Rising Sun—and both new and older vineyards collect prestigious awards along the way.

Of the more than 60 wineries in Maryland—with $30 million annually in sales according to recent studies— 14 of them are part of the developing Chesapeake Wine Trail on the Eastern Shore.

Six wine trails now lace Maryland’s countryside and the Chesapeake Wine Trail on the Eastern Shore is poised to play a significant part in the new Vintage Atlantic Wine Region, along with Delaware, Pennsylvania, and southern New Jersey.

At the September 18 launch party for the new wine region, held at Harvest Ridge Winery in Marydel, Delaware, winery owner Chuck Nunan expressed his enthusiasm saying, “This is a really an exciting time for wine growing on the Eastern Shore. 55 wineries and vineyards are coming together to create tourist destinations points. We’re at the place Napa Valley was in the 60’s, and each of these wineries directly benefits their local communities. One out of 18 jobs in this country is related to tourism.”

vineyard

Lotte Bowie and her husband Walter took an early interest in Chesapeake region wineries. Connecting with the wine industry through their Loblolly Productions, a design and marketing firm in Still Pond, Maryland, they have become instrumental with branding and marketing Eastern Shore wineries and vineyards. Their online information portal, www.shorevines.com, showcases the growth and potential of vineyards and wineries on the Eastern Shore and offers detailed articles and in-depth video interviews about how to start and manage a winery.

“There are five wineries within 20 minutes of Chestertown: Crow Vineyard and Winery in Kennedyville, Salisa Winery and Clovelly Vineyards in Chestertown, Cassinelli Winery and Vineyards in Church Hill and Tilmon’s Island Winery in Sudlersville. We want locals to know about this group also because it is becoming an important part of our local economic health,” Bowie says.

Doris Mason, Executive Director of Upper Shore Regional Council, sees the Wine Trail and Chesapeake Wine County concept as a vibrant economic force. The USRC, charged with fostering economic and social development of Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties, supports the shoreVines initiative

“Not only is there an economic impact through employment, but also there are other arteries that go with supporting vineyards and wineries—restaurants, bed and breakfasts, hotels, even conversations about upcoming distilleries and breweries—that all play into networking and developing a larger tourist industry,” Mason says.

Crow Vineyard and Winery in Kennedyville.

Crow Vineyard and Winery in Kennedyville.

And the wine? People are taking notice.

Wine enthusiasts and judges are giving a hearty thumbs-up and handing out top-flight awards to Shore wineries.

Bordeleau Vineyards, near Salisbury, just won the Shore’s 1st Governor’s Cup Best in Show for their 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Amarone and many other Eastern Shore wineries  have won accolades as well, including Crow Vineyard and Winery Best in Class for their 2012 Barbera Rosé and gold for their 2012 Vidal Blanc, and Clovelly Vineyard’s silver for their 2013 Rosé and Vidal Blanc.

So much for the “Eastern Shore can’t make quality wine theory.”

“Our wines are phenomenal and the impact on the community is immense. It’s only just begun,” Chuck Nunan said at the Harvest Ridge ceremony for the Vintage Atlantic Wine Region.

In the following video, Lotte Bowie and Doris Mason talk about wineries and vineyards, the growth of the industry on the Eastern Shore, and the bright outlook for the Eastern Shore of Maryland as… Wine Country.

 

 

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Map and Crow Vineyard photo by Lotte Bowie, loblolly.biz

Links:

Vintage Atlantic Wine Region

ShoreVines

Maryland Wine

Chesapeake Wine Country