So this isn’t about Maine (though I did make this dish here in Maine and it will be in my cookbook) but more about photography and how just the right lighting, contrast and reflection can make a photo pop. The shine of the glaze fascinates me! The plums are roasted with honey and the skins give off this beautiful pink juice. They tasted great too, by the way…
Of course in keeping with all things local, I stopped at the local farmers market today and picked up some Udderview goat cheese (this one, an Italian Torte layered with roasted tomatoes, pesto, goat cheese and crushed almonds). Yesterday I stopped at Chase’s Daily in Belfast and bought a beautiful, fresh bunch of purple basil. And then my cocktail? It’s Cold River Vodka (worth the splurge), orange juice, a dash of Limoncello, a splash of my basil simple syrup and garnished with purple basil. And of course, the colors are opposite on the color wheel and pair as well as the flavors!
This was a collaboration between @kimswan, @candacekaru, @lesliecottrell and myself (@danamoos) – (aka The Danforth Divas) we wanted to hold a “Tweetup” but not at a bar or restaurant, but somewhere that I could prepare brunch and fulfill my foodie needs (as well as many of our foodie friends’ needs!). Kim offered the venue and Candace and Leslie offered to help in the kitchen. It was a chance for us to spend time with friends and meet some new ones IRL or F2F (in real life or face to face in Twitterspeak). Thanks to everyone, it was fabulous!
For this light and refreshing “Sangria” I used a Grenache Rose and Club Soda (ratio of 3 to 1), the juice of half of a lime and a hefty splash (who measures?) of Limoncello Liquor. Shake, pour over ice and enjoy!
A Simple and Elegant Fruit Dish – an inspiration from a visit to Manzanillo, Mexico. Papaya, Mango and Strawberries with Basil Simple Syrup and Fresh Lemon: allow the papaya and mango to fully ripen; cut into small chunks, toss with the juice of 2 lemons and the zest of the lemons. Add in a handful of sliced strawberries. Gently mix.
2 Cups white sugar, 1 1/2 cups water, 3 tablespoons corn syrup – bring slowly to a boil over medium heat. Add a large bunch of finely chopped basil and reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Toss with the fruit and allow to meld in the refrigerator at least a few hours before serving. It looks like a sunrise served in a tall glass.
A friend of mine brought me some freshly dug clams from his property today. I used about 3 dozen Cherrystone (which aren’t a native clam but apparently they can be found if you know where to look).
I sauteed 1 onion, 4 garlic cloves (I use a zester to grate the garlic, extracting the oils), sweated until soft, added 1 cup of Sauvignon Blanc and then added the clams and covered for about 10 minutes. I took the clams out of the pan, removed the clams from the shells and rough chopped them. I added about 1 cup of heavy cream to the cooking liquid and let it reduce by about half. I added the chopped clams back in with a couple tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley and a dash of saffron and let it cook for a couple minutes. I added al dente linguine and tossed with some fresh grated Parmesan, freshly grated black pepper and served over some baby spinach. Bon Appetit!
Do as I say, not as I do…(famous words from my parents and many). Well, next time I want pizza, it’s OUT for me, meaning carry OUT or eat OUT! Last night I decided I wanted to make pizza at home. It was a comedy of errors.
I’ve had pizza stones for years, but never a pizza peel (a device used to build the pizza on and then transfer to the hot stone in the oven). A peel just seemed like one of those tools you’d buy and use once a year? I always assumed I could substitute something for it. Hmmm…don’t use flexible mats (mistake #1)… Hmmm…no corn meal for dusting the peel (so that the pizza would easily transfer to the stone and not stick)…this was mistake #2…never assume (mistake #3)….(mistakes will be referenced throughout this post)
First, I bought fresh dough from a local market. It smelled wonderful, all puffy and yeasty. I cut the dough ball into two and then I began to attempt to stretch it. That’s when it went downhill. Oh the laughing was great (husband laughing AT me), the stretching was not. He asked “what shape are they supposed to be?”… I have a new appreciation for pizza makers, particularly those who toss them up in the air and make it look effortless. So we each took a dough ball and worked on stretching the dough. So what to use to build the pizzas on? Well (because I didn’t have a pizza peel) I assumed I could use the plastic flexible cutting mats (mistake #1 and #3) thinking that if I dusted them with flour instead of the corn meal that I didn’t have (mistake #2) that I’d be able to slide the pizzas off of the mat onto the cooking stone (again, mistake #3, assuming). I had fresh mushrooms, pepperoni, Applewood smoked bacon (that I cooked earlier in the day), Ricotta, fresh mozzarella, freshly shaved Parmesan, and roasted tomatoes (that I cooked earlier in the day). Hmmm…no tomato paste in the pantry, only canned tomatoes…(mistake #4, not having a shopping list). So I pureed the roasted tomatoes, added the garlic, a can of drained tomatoes, seasonings, but it was still a little too thin for pizza sauce. I needed a touch of tomato paste…so no choice but to reduce the sauce. When the sauce is eventually thick enough, I start building the pizzas. In the meantime, the stones are in the oven on 450 degrees getting nice and hot. What’s that smoke??? (mistake #5, not ensuring that the oven is PERFECTLY clean before high heat – one tiny little drop of food on the bottom not visible to the naked eye and with the high heat, you’re going to get smoke). Eventually the smoke burned off, with the help of a great Bosch oven hood, and we were good to go. So my husband pulled the oven rack out for me to slide the pizzas onto. But the pizzas don’t want to slide. Why? Because they’re STUCK. Why? Because I had no cornmeal (mistake #2) and because I chose to use a floured plastic flexible mat instead of waiting until I bought a pizza peel (mistake #1). Um, now what? close the oven and let’s try and lift the edges of the now heavily topped pizza and get more flour under the dough in hopes that it would slide. But no go. Was it the olive oil that we drizzled on the dough before topping them or the sauce that soaked through the tiny holes in the poorly stretched dough? Who knows, who cares, all I know is that I have a big mess on my hands and I reallllly wanted pizza. I wanted this homemade pizza. Hmmm…maybe we’ll fold it up like a Calzone and just cook it that way? Okay, so that’s what we did with one of them. Rolled it up and dropped it on the stone. But I was determined to put the other one flat on the stone. Or so I tried. But when it looked like a big mess of toppings and wet dough, we couldn’t really tell what was what, it was that bad. So after putting the mangled pizza on the stone, I tried my best to salvage what still appeared to be dough, cheese and toppings and get it all into place, cover with more cheese and get it in the oven to cook. At this point I just really gave up on the whole photo blogging the recipe thing. Now I just wanted to eat! Well, the Calzone style pizza looked nice, but the inside dough didn’t cook at the same pace as the outside! So while the other pizza was cooking, we cut off the edges of the Calzone and although they were done, the toppings were all in the middle. We put it back in the oven. We took the other flat pizza out. Okay, it tastes pretty good, but looks like a mess and it’s still too doughy. The photo of the flat pizza doesn’t show how bad it really looked and I should have taken a picture of how it looked all completely mangled before cooking it. I have to hand it to the cheese. Cheese covers a lot…Needless to say, we didn’t keep the leftovers and I am NOT making pizza at home again. Unless I get a pizza peel…
This is a savory cheesecake. It’s more of a cheese dip, but holds together like a cheesecake. Talk about the perfect appetizer for cocktail hour? I needed to bring an appetizer to a dinner party – and decided to make this Mushroom and Caramelized Shallot Cheesecake with 4 cheeses and a touch of fresh baby spinach. It is out of this world! It can be a side dish, an appetizer, or a light meal with a salad and glass of wine.
So here’s the recipe:
In a mixing bowl, combine 3 twelve oz. packages of room temperature cream cheese, 2 tablespoons dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon paprika and 1/4 cup heavy cream. Mix until creamy. Add 4 eggs, incorporating one at a time until combined.
Saute 4 large shallots until slightly browned. Add 16 oz. of sliced mushrooms – I used Cremini, but any will do. Add 1 teaspoon Worcestershire and a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper. Saute until they’re all fragrant and caramelized. Remove a third of the mixture and set aside. Add 1 cello-package of fresh baby spinach to the pan and cover. Cook for a couple minutes and then remove from heat. Let cool a couple minutes.
Chop or shred 2 cups total of the following cheeses: white cheddar, Parmesan, Gruyere or Swiss, and Manchego (the Gruyere or Swiss and Parmesan are a must). Add to egg/cheese mixture.
Fold in spinach and 1/3 of the mushroom and shallots and mix well.
Spray an 8 or 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray and coat lightly with breadcrumbs.
Pour cheesecake mixture in and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Then add remaining shallot and mushroom mixture to the top, toss another handful of shredded Parmesan and freshly ground pepper on top and bake an additional 15 minutes. Let cool for 1o minutes before slicing.
Note: the mushrooms and shallots are not necessary – they were my adaptation of this recipe. The original as it was given to me used 1 package of frozen and thawed/drained spinach and none of the shallots or mushrooms and was absolutely delicious as well. Feel free to put your own twist on it!
Serve with crusty bread or crackers and enjoy!