Wednesday, January 26, 2011

S. O. S. - Soup Or Snow

A barn near town hall
 Soup or snow, that seems to be the question of the day around here.  This morning we have had another "dusting" of snow, I think it amounted to about 2 inches of the blasted white stuff!  Apparently there's 12 more inches headed our way - yippee!  That's on top of the 50 inches we've already received since December 26th.  

So, after taking Duke to Pampered Paws, his photo is at the end of this post, I drove around town and took some photos of the fresh fallen snow, it is beautiful.  

You'll also find my delicious and unusual recipe for Lentil soup using "ancient grains" at the end of this post.  I came up with the recipe after buying some fresh lentil soup at Trader Joe's.  I read the ingredients, which used ancient grains (that's what the package said), and then set out to recreate this delicious soup.  I think it's very close to what I bought, I hope you enjoy it!!

Band Stand in the town center
This past week we were lucky enough to have two storms and a deep freeze, it was -17 at my home yesterday morning!  So the question in my home, is do you want soup before or after you run the snow blower!

A snow covered pond
Sure some people like the stuff, it's great for business - in the mountains where it belongs! So, at the risk of sounding grumpy, because I'm really not, I'm just sick of the snow and the extreme cold,  here are a few corny "snow jokes" for you to enjoy!  After the jokes, you'll find my recipe for my delicious lentil soup!  Keep warm!

Town Hall
What time is it when little white flakes fall past the classroom window?
Snow and Tell.
What do you call a snowman in the summer? 
A puddle.
What do you get if cross a snowman and a shark ? 
Frost bite !

Duke, fresh from Pampered Paws

Lentil Soup

1 1/2 cups lentils, washed
2  14 oz cans chicken stock
2 14 oz cans beef stock
2 14 oz cans of Hunts fire roasted tomatoes
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1/4 cup millet
1/4 cup flax seed
1/4 cup quinoa
2 tablespoons of good balsamic vinegar

Put all the ingredients, except the balsamic vinegar in the the crock-pot on low and let it simmer all day - it's delicious! When the soup is finished add 2 tablespoons of good balsamic vinegar, stir and serve!  Sour dough bread is a nice compliment to this hearty dish!  

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Maine Winter Weekend & Shrimp Chowdah!

Spring Point Light
This morning the hubby and I took a ride to The Scratch Bakery a wonderful little bakery in So. Portland, ME for the freshest bagels around - if they were any fresher they'd talk back!  It's truly amazing how busy this bakery is!  Along with our bagels and cream cheese we had their delicious blend of Rebel coffee.

Bug Light
From the bakery we took a ride to Spring Point Light then Bug Light, where we enjoyed our delicious baked goods, we stayed in the car as it was a brisk 25 degrees outside - burrrr!

Portland Head Light
We couldn't believe how much snow there was along the coast, so we decided to and visit a few of our favorite lighthouses.  It's amazing what a few months will make!  Normally these lighthouses are crawling with people!  Would you believe Portland Head Light was commissioned by President George Washington!  From it you can see the two lighthouses below.

Two Lights
These lighthouses, Two Lights and Portland Head Light are special to us. When we were married almost 17 years ago we named the tables at our reception, we sat at Portland Head Light with some of our bridal party and the rest of the bridal party sat at Two Lights!

Two Lights
Here's the Chowdah recipe, it's delicious.  It came from a 1970 cookbook that was a gift to me from my good friend Anne.  The cookbook had belonged to her late aunt, I hope you enjoy it, we did!

Shrimp Chowder
3 medium onions, sliced
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup boiling water
6 medium potatoes
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound of fresh shrimp, peeled and de-vained
1 quart milk, heated
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

Saute onions in hot butter in deep kettle until tender.  Add boiling water, then sliced potatoes, salt and pepper.  Simmer covered 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Then add shrimp, and hot milk in which the cheese has been melted, simmer until shrimp are cooked, finish with parsley and serve immediately!


If you have a moment, check out my friend Cathy's blog at Acorn Hollow, you'll love it!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sarabeth's Maple Muffin's

For Christmas I received a wonderful cookbook called Sarabeth's Bakery ~ From My Hands to Yours. It is, without a doubt probably the most comprehensive cookbook on baking that I've ever received.  I honestly don't think I'll ever need another cookbook on baking - again!  Sarabeth is famous for her jams, and she talks about how she got her start, it's a very inspiring story, especially if you're dreaming of writing a cookbook.  I'd suggest you visit her wonderful website Sarabeth's Kitchen, you won't be disappointed!

I decided to make the Maple Muffins. Next I dug out my late mother-in-law's muffin tin. I decided that after reading the Forward and the Introduction, I thought that these muffins deserved to be baked in a proper muffin tin.  Just look at the design on the top of that tin, isn't it pretty?

 Here's a short stack, hmm, two of the muffins seem to have disappeared, I know hubby had one, I can't imagine who ate the other . . . Duke is too short to reach the counters!

Look at the wonderful walnuts, they were toasted prior to being folded into the recipe.  At first I wasn't going to toast the walnuts, because I didn't think it would make much difference - was I ever wrong,  what a nice flavor - hence it's always good to listen to the expert, they're the expert for a reason!

Here's a closer look at the muffin, your palate will thank you!  The recipe makes 12 muffins, and your home will smell aromatic with scents wafting throughout!

Below is the long awaited recipe!

According to Sarabeth, this recipe was literally forced upon her by a customer who said her family had made these muffins for more than a hundred years.  The customer promised they would be fantastic, and Sarabeth said she was right.  Sarabeth says, their rich, bold maple flavor and crunchy tops are simply irresistible - I agree!

Softened unsalted butter, for the pan
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B*
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup whole milk
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted**

1. Position a rack in the center of he oven and preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Brush the insides of 12 muffin cups with softened butter, then brush the top of the pan.

2. Whisk the unbleached flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.  Whisk the maple syrup, melted butter, and milk together in another bowl, then whisk in the egg and yolk.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until smooth.  Stir in the walnuts. Let the batter stand so the dry ingredients can absorb the liquid, about 5 minutes.

3. Using a 2 1/2 inch-diameter ice-cream scoop, portion the batter, rounded side up, into the prepared muffin cups.

4. Bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake until the tops of the muffins are golden brown and a wire cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 15 minutes more.

5. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely.

* Grade B refers to the color & flavor, it's darker & stronger than Grade A.
** Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven on a half-sheet pan, stirring occasionally, until they are toasted and fragrant anywhere from 8-12 minutes.

Enjoy, and please let me know what you think of these wonderful muffins!  I think it's a keeper!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Spaghetti Carbonara for a weekend luncheon - yum!

The table was set with my holiday dishes for lunch with a good friend

A simple snack of cream cheese topped with red pepper jelly and crackers to catch up on world events!

Spaghetti Carbonara 

1 pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 slices bacon, diced (I used pancetta)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
4 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pinch salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti pasta until al dente. Drain well. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and set aside.

Meanwhile in a large skillet, cook chopped bacon until slightly crisp; remove and drain onto paper towels. Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon fat; add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and heat in reused large skillet. Add chopped onion, and cook over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add minced garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add wine if desired; cook one more minute.

Return cooked bacon to pan; add cooked and drained spaghetti. Toss to coat and heat through, adding more olive oil if it seems dry or is sticking together. Add beaten eggs and cook, tossing constantly with tongs or large fork until eggs are barely set. Quickly add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and toss again. Add salt and pepper to taste (remember that bacon and Parmesan are very salty).

Serve immediately with chopped parsley sprinkled on top, and extra Parmesan cheese at table.

Serves 8