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January 31, 2011

Homemade Fudge Brownies and Hot Fudge Sauce

“As with most fine things, chocolate has its season. There is a simple memory aid that you can use to determine whether it is the correct time to order chocolate dishes: any month whose name contains the letter A, E, or U is the proper time for chocolate.”

This quote is from the book “Chocolate: The Consuming Passion” written by Sandra Boynton in 1982, but I remember my Mom saying something very similar at least 50 years ago. A day without chocolate is just not a good day for Mom. Before we headed south for the winter, I stocked her freezer with a couple batches of brownies and tucked 3 jars of hot fudge sauce in the ‘fridge so she can enjoy her favorite dessert: a brownie topped with vanilla ice cream and a very healthy drizzle of warm and gooey hot fudge sauce.

If you need an excuse for all this chocolate decadence, February is National Chocolate Month. Get ready to celebrate!


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January 30, 2011

African-Style Chicken in Onion Gravy

If you are desperately seeking a break from the same old thing, try this take on yassa, a traditional celebratory dish originating in Senegal. It’s very simple—chicken braised in a blanket of onions and seasoned stock—but the results are seductive. I like to serve this over steamed brown rice or whole-grain couscous.

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January 29, 2011

Plank-Roasted Salmon with Rosemary-Mustard Vinaigrette

Plank-roasting is an ancient method of cooking among the Indians of the Pacific Northwest. For important feasts known as potlatches, whole salmon fillets were suspended on cedar planks and placed around a fire to cook.

Plank-roasting in your home oven is simple and infuses the salmon with a complex woody flavor, similar to the way oak barrels add flavor to wine. At your local lumberyard or home center, select a piece of 1 x 8-inch or 1 x 6-inch cedar just long enough to fit inside you oven. (The salmon fillets will be laid out in a row on this board.) About 20 inches long should work, but measure your oven to be sure. Pine or fir can be substituted, with a little less aromatic flavor; it’s better to spend a few dollars more for the real thing. Make sure the wood has not been primed or treated with any chemicals.

At Arrows, we often use fresh herbs or dry seasonings to add another level of flavor the the plank-roasted fish. Rosemary, with its robust character, is a perfect match for salmon.


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January 28, 2011

New England Goulash

This recipe is fun and delicious and is true to the wonderful nature of a traditional goulash. Use only a beef chuck roast for ultimate tenderness. The initial browning of the beef serves to seal in the juices; the intention is not to cook the meat at this stage, so it is best to keep the heat high to medium-high and not extend the suggested cooking time. If the baby potatoes are on the large side, cut them in half to maintain the proper cooking time. Use caution when handling the hot peppers.

beef goulash


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January 27, 2011

Japanese Vegetable Pancakes (Okonomi-yaki)

Feel like changing up dinner tonight? Try Okonomi-yaki, or Japanese Vegetable Pancake. Perfect for brunch or a light supper, it is even appropriate for breakfast for those who prefer a savory start to the day over a sweet one, as the Japanese do.

There are many variations on this recipe and substitutions are just fine, so if you don’t like sweet potato, substitute carrot, for instance. It’s a very forgiving recipe. And a great low fat way to begin or end your day.

Japanese veg pan

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January 26, 2011

Sweet Potato Casserole

My husband Jim and I lived in Pennsylvania for a few years and it didn’t take me long to make friends with Ginny Brehmer, a fellow Mainer. Ginny was from Machias—a true Down Easter—and was a fabulous cook. She shared this delicious sweet potato casserole with me and I have been making it ever since.

sweet potato casserole

Ginny Brehmer’s Sweet Potato Casserole
Martha Greenlaw, Recipes From a Very Small Island

2½ pounds sweet potatoes
4 Tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted if potatoes are not hot
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup milk
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pecan topping:
¾ cup pecans
½ cup packed light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 Tablespoons (½ stick) cold unsalted butter

Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or other similar shallow baking dish.

Scrub potatoes, but in 2- to 3-inch chunks, and boil in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and when cool enough to handle, peel. Mash with a potato masher (you should have about 4 cups) and beat in the butter, sugar, milk, eggs, salt, and vanilla. Spread into the prepared dish.

In a food processor, pulse the pecans until chopped medium fine; remove. Add the brown sugar and flour to the work bowl and process to remove large lumps. Cut the butter into chunks, add to the work bowl, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the pecans and pulse once or twice just to combine. (Or you can make this topping by hand.) Sprinkle over the sweet potatoes. (The casserole can be made several hours ahead and refrigerated. Return to room temperature before baking.)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the casserole until heated through and the topping is golden, 30-45 minutes.

Serves 8-10.

January 25, 2011

Pantry Pasta

Between the pantry, the vegetable bin, and the fridge, you’re going to find everything you need to make Judi Wagner’s pasta supper for two. We like to use orzo, a rice-shaped pasta. If you want to break out the grated cheese rut, use a vegetable peeler to produce interesting cheese shavings for the topping.

pantry pasta 2

Pantry Pasta
Karyl Bannister, Cook & Tell

1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced or finely chopped
½ cup chopped broccoli
½ cup chopped cauliflower
1 cup uncooked orzo or your favorite pasta
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
A few white mushrooms, sliced
1 14.5-ounce can stewed tomatoes, drained (reserve 2 Tablespoons of their jucie)
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained
¼ cup grated or shaved Parmesan or Romano cheese (about 1 ounce)
1/3 cup pitted black olives

Cook the carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, and pasta in a large pot of boiling water for 8 minutes, or until everything is tender. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic until limp and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they soften and give up their juices, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and artichokes and sauté for 1-2 minutes more, or until heated through. Add the 2 Tablespoons reserved tomato juice and the pasta mixture and toss to distribute everything evenly. Dole it out into bowls and top each serving with 2 Tablespoons cheese and a few olives.

Serves 2.

Note: You may use any combination of carrots, broccoli, and/or cauliflower or skip them altogether. For the sautéed portion, you may add sliced red or green bell pepper and skip the mushrooms.

January 24, 2011

Linda Greenlaw’s Fresh Cod Cakes with Chili Mayo

This recipe can be made with nearly any type of fish. I’ve used salmon, haddock, pollock, and hake, but I like cod best. The cakes can be shaped and refrigerated for up to a couple of days before frying, and the chili mayo can also be prepared ahead. It’s a nice alternative to traditional tartar sauce.


Fresh Cod Cakes with Chili Mayo
Linda Greenlaw, Recipes From a Very Small Island

Chili Mayo
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup plain fat-free yogurt
1 Tablespoon chili powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons jalapeño salsa (optional)

Fish Cakes
4 bacon strips
1½ pounds (about 6 medium) all-purpose potatoes
1 pound fresh cod
1 large onion, chopped
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons light olive oil

For the chili mayo, whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the fish cakes, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp, 10-12 minutes. Drain on paper towels, leaving the drippings in the pan.

Peel the potatoes and cut into ½-inch cubes. cook in boiling salted water until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Bring a skillet of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the cod and poach in simmering water until the fish flakes easily with a fork, 5-8 minutes. Drain and break or chop into small chunks and add to the potatoes.

Cook the onion over medium heat in the bacon drippings until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add to the potato mixture. Crumble the bacon and add it to the bowl along with the eggs and the tarragon. Work the mixture together with your hands until well blended. Season with black pepper and additional salt to taste. Shape into 8 cakes about ½ inch thick. Spread the flour onto a plate; dredge the cakes in the flour.

Heat the butter and oil in one very large or two smaller frying pans. Cook the fish cakes over medium to medium-high heat, turning once, until browned and slightly crisp on both sides and heated through inside, about 10 minutes. Pass the chili mayo for spooning on top.

Serves 4.

January 23, 2011

Crockpot Salsa Swiss Steak

This simple recipe updates a classic; the steak cooks to tender perfection in your slow cooker.
Crockpot Salsa Swiss Steak

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless beef top round steak
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 onions, chopped
1 10-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup with roasted garlic
1 cup chunky salsa

Trim fat from steak and cut into four serving pieces. Heat oil in large skillet. Sprinkle steak pieces with salt and pepper and cook in the oil for about 5 minutes or until browned, turning once.

Place in 4-6 quart slow cooker. Top with onion. In the same skillet, combine soup and salsa and mix well with drippings. Pour over steak in crockpot. Cover and cook on low setting for 8-10 hours.

Serves 4.

January 22, 2011

Roasted Peaches and Plums with Cookie Crumble

With fresh peaches and plums from Chile currently in ample supply, now is the time to brighten gray winter days with a sweet, colorful and nutritious homemade dessert.


Roasted Peaches and Plums with Cookie Crumble
Chilean Fresh Fruit Association

Crumble Dessert
6 Amaretti Italian or oatmeal cookies, crumbled
¼ cup toasted nuts, chopped
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup chilled butter, cubed
Pinch of salt

2 fresh peaches & 3 fresh plums, halved, pits removed

Preheat oven to 400°. In a food processor, combine all crumble ingredients. Pulse until crumble is chunky and mixed well.

Place fruit in a buttered medium sized roasting pan. Sprinkle crumble on top. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Fruit should be tender and juicy when pierced.

Serve warm with ice cream if desired.

January 21, 2011

Brandied Raisin Custard Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is a wonderful cold weather dessert, and this recipe is a great one! There are bread puddings, and there are bread puddings!! Brandied raisins give this one a very special flavor.

Easy to make, the final result tastes like you slaved away for hours in the kitchen.
Bread Pudding Brandy Sauce 3 copy

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January 20, 2011

Maine Party Chicken

With a little extra help from some pantry items, you can feed your family or friends and party on! Prepare this simple chicken recipe a day ahead and have it ready and waiting in your fridge. Just pop it into the oven and bake off.

This is a great dish that makes chicken a bit more exciting!

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January 19, 2011

Kiwi and Prosciutto Appetizer

Few fresh fruits can match the kiwi for sheer perfection. First there’s that dazzling green color perfectly accented with those tiny black seeds. Then there’s the satiny texture. And then there’s the taste – a tangy burst of sweetness just tart enough.

How do you improve on this perfection? You don’t. That’s the beauty of using fresh ingredients of the finest quality. They speak for themselves. And to make this appetizer really sing, here the natural sweetness of the kiwi is balanced with the smoky saltiness of the delicate prosciutto for a winning combination as visually appealing as it is tasty.

An added bonus is the huge health benefits of the little kiwi. Kiwis are rich in vitamin C, potassium, folic acid and one of the few ultra low-fat sources of the antioxidant vitamin E. Kiwis also contain lutein, an antioxidant compound known to protect eyesight from age-related macular degeneration. In addition, kiwi provides significant amounts of minerals such as iron and calcium.

image: Chilean Fresh Fruit Association Media Center

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January 18, 2011

Maine Potato Soup

This one is for the Maine potato lover! Aside from lobster and blueberries, nothing says Maine like potatoes. Try this recipe for Maine Potato Soup to warm you up on a cold winter night like tonight. Soup’s on!
Maine Potato
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January 17, 2011

Traditional Finnan Haddie Recipe

Curious about Finnan Haddie? Here is some information and a recipe to try at home.

Finnan Haddie (smoked haddock) originated in Findon, Scotland. There, fishwives would hang lightly salted pieces of haddock in their chimneys to dry over peat fires. Settlers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick brought this dish with them to the early New England colonies when them came here to work on fishing boats and in factories.

The following delicious recipe for Finnan Haddie is a traditional variation using cream and potatoes. It makes a great winter meal!


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January 16, 2011

Ahi Tuna Tartare in Won Ton Cups

The Sumptuous Small Plates Deck: 30 Recipes for Deliciously Fun Entertaining was written by Parties that Cook Founder and Executive Chef, Bibby Gignilliat. A corporate convert to professional cooking and the culinary entertainment world, Bibby is a graduate of Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco. She has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, the Food Network, and CNBC. Her company and recipes have been featured in Better Homes & Gardens, Cooking Light, Bon Appétit, Daily Candy, Business 2.0, and New York Times.

For a demonstration video for the following recipe: Watch here!


Ahi Tuna Tartare in Won Ton Cups
Bibby Gignilliat, The Sumptuous Small Plates Deck: 30 Recipes for Deliciously Fun Entertaining

Olive oil spray
24 won ton wrappers (or substitute egg roll wrappers)
9 ounce sushi-grade tuna, cut into ¼-inch cubes
2 Tablespoons green onions, green parts only, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 clove garlic, minced
¾ teaspoon orange zest
¼ teaspoon red chili sauce, such as Sriracha
2 Tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 avocado, cut into ¼-inch cubes
2 teaspoons lime juice
Cilantro sprigs for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray each won ton wrapper with olive oil on one side and tuck into mini muffin tin. Bake until golden, about 6 minutes. (Can burn easily so watch carefully). Remove cups from tin and let cool.

Combine tuna, green onions, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, orange zest, chili sauce, cilantro, and salt together in a medium bowl. Mix well. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

Just before serving, add avocado and lime juice to the tuna tartare mixture. (Do not mix in advance.) Place a heaping teaspoon of tuna mixture in won ton cup. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro. Serve immediately. Do not leave the tuna at room temperature for more than 1 hour.

Makes 24 cups.

January 15, 2011

Cream of Lobster Soup

This is a decadent soup, usually made for a special occasion. With this in mind, this recipe is designed for two people as a significant course, or four people as a small starter to a meal.lobster soup

Cream of Lobster Soup
Meredith Laurence, Blue Jean Chef Comfortable in the Kitchen

2 Tablespoons butter
½ onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 carrot, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 lobster tails in the shell
½ cup white wine
½ cup canned tomatoes in juice
2 cups chicken stock
½ cup cream
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
¼ teaspoon salt, or more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup crème fraiche or sour cream (optional)

Melt the butter in a stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook the onion and carrot for 5-10 minutes. The onion should be translucent, but not brown. Add the garlic, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf and cook for an additional minute.

Add the lobster tails (in their shells) to the pot and let them cook for about 4 minutes, turning them occasionally. The shells will turn pink. Add the white wine and the tomatoes with their juice and simmer with the lobster tails for 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock and continue t simmer for another 20 minutes.

Remove the lobster tails from the pot and once they are cool enough to handle, crack the shells and remove the meat, keeping the meat in one piece as much as possible. Discard the shells and reserve the meat.

Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf from the pot and them, using a blender, food processor, food mill or immersion blender, purée the soup until no lumps remain and the soup is smooth. Return the soup to the stovetop and add the cream and fresh tarragon. Bring to a simmer and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Slice the lobster meat into medallions and place them in the bottom of the serving bowls. Pour the hot soup on top. Garnish with a dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream.

Serves 2-4.

January 14, 2011

Potato Pancakes

“This savory, crispy, German-style potato dish is irresistible—I like to serve it alongside slices of Sauerbraten. These pancakes could also be served with any pork roast, or if you’d like to eat them for breakfast, they make a nice base for a poached egg.” –Eric Akis

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January 13, 2011

Za’atar Crusted Chicken Cutlets

I’ve been lucky enough to have friends from large Lebanese families. These families stick together, celebrate together, pretty much do everything as far as I can tell…and these families cook.

One friend of mine from central Maine, Janet Nichols, had a wonderful “sitto” or grandma that lived during the time she and I were in close proximity to each other, which was in the late 1970s and early 80s. I was honored to meet her before her passing and privileged to sample her recipes time and again. They live on through Janet and the many talented cooks in her family. This year I will be further honored to cater the wedding of Sito’s great-granddaughter, Saida.

I hung out with Saida’s mom, Janet, when her children were young. We worked together then, and we loved to cook and eat. At that time, I watched her make yogurt, stuffed squash, little Swiss chard hand pies, tabouleh salad, batlawa, hummus and the flat bread with za’atar that her sitto used to make. I used to love to visit her because I knew good food would abound and believe me, that has not changed.

Za’atar, now that was an epiphany! So savory, the flavor so inexplicable, so over the top good! I couldn’t guess then that I was tasting sesame, salt, sumac, oregano, savory, and thyme. And plenty of great Lebanese olive oil. It was really my first focaccia, just from a different part of the Mediterranean. Since then I have learned more about za’atar, its origins, and some new applications for contemporary dishes using this ancient mix of ingredients.

Basically a Middle Eastern phenomenon, za’atar is a condiment that can vary widely. It’s a regional thing and your za’atar mix can actually define where you may be from in some Arabic circles. I asked for it in Cairo and got oregano, and in fact wild oregano is sometimes called za’atar and is now a protected species. I’ve purchased it in red and green varieties. It is generally prepared by using ground thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds, salt, and sumac. Often, the recipes are closely held by families, not even being passed to new wives or daughters.

Traditionally za’atar is prepared by drying wild herbs in the sun. It’s then blended with salt, sesame seeds, and sumac. It can further be blended with good oil to make a paste to dip pita bread in, or to stuff breads with, to spread on a flat bread before baking (something like a pizza) or as a seasoning for vegetables. Try it as a “rub” for meats and in the case of the following recipe, a savory coating for chicken cutlets. It is available already blended in specialty and ethnic food stores.

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January 12, 2011

Pan-Fried Haddock Sandwich with Jalapeño Mayo

Haddock sandwiches could well be the most popular year-round lunchtime sandwich in Maine. The fresh fish is usually dredged in a breading mix (lightly, preferably), deep-fried, and served on a bun with a lettuce leaf and sliced tomato—tartar sauce, chips, and a dill pickle on the side. What could be better? For the home version, I’ve called for pan-frying the fish (less money, less greasy) and spreading the sandwich with a jalapeño-spiked mayonnaise—non-traditional but darn good!

haddock sand

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