Cornmeal Griddle Cakes

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Cornmeal griddle cakes are probably our guests’ favorite pancake, and ours as well. They are light, tangy with yogurt, and with a nice crunch that the cornmeal provides.

For 4 servings:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal (preferably stone ground)
3 TBS sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup low fat yogurt
2 eggs
2 oz. unsalted butter, melted

Mix together dry ingredients.  Whisk together yogurt and eggs and add melted butter, then. stir into the flour mixture.

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Cook on medium-hot griddle. Start with a scant 1/4 cup of batter per pancake and experiment with size since they grow a bit as they cook.  Flip when top is bubbly and the bottom is nicely browned. Remove from griddle when 2nd side is browned. Serve with maple or blueberry syrup.

Fried green tomatoes for breakfast!

 

green tomatoes in frying pan, with brown crusty coating

Fried green tomatoes, browned and ready to serve

Late summer and fall are the time to find ripe red tomatoes in the farmers market. It’s a bit harder to find green tomatoes (unless you have them growing in your own garden!). We ordered a bag from our favorite farm stand and decided to try a popular southern dish, fried green tomatoes, as an unusual addition to a breakfast menu. The results were so popular we’re adding them to our regular breakfast repertoire. We served them with herbed scrambled eggs, cheddar-chive scones, and Niman Ranch sausage links. Delicious!

Making fried green tomatoes couldn’t be easier. Core and slice firm green tomatoes into 1/4-inch slices and place them on a baking sheet. The secret is then to sprinkle both sides generously with salt and sugar (like you were seasoning a steak) and let them sit 30 minutes or so to draw out the water and insure a crispy coating. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium high heat and add two tablespoons olive oil and two tablespoons unsalted butter. Gently press each slice between layers of paper towels to dry and then dip each first into lightly beaten egg, and then press into a mixture of half panko bread crumbs and half grated Parmesan cheese, until both sides are thoroughly covered and the crumb-cheese mixture adheres well. Make sure the oil is hot but not smoking. Fry until bottoms are golden brown; turn and fry other sides till golden, adding more butter and oil if necessary. Top with eggs — scrambled, poached, or fried. Or try a fried green tomato benedict, using the tomato instead of an English muffin, topped with ham or bacon, a poached egg, and hollandaise sauce. We found the basic recipe for the tomatoes on one of our favorite food blogs, Amanda Hesser’s Food 52. The recipe for the delicious cheddar-chive scones is in the new cookbook from Portland’s Standard Baking Company.

Harvest Dinner at Coveside Bed and Breakfast

candlelit table with plates set with salad

Tables ready for guests at Coveside’s first harvest dinner

Local Georgetown restaurants are frequently closed one or more nights during the week in the autumn, a particular problem for guests arriving in the evening after a long drive. We decided to offer the option of dinner at Coveside on several fall evenings when a number of guests were scheduled to arrive. We invited our Georgetown neighbor, Robert Masciola, to be guest chef. Rob’s family comes from the Abruzzi region of Italy and he is an accomplished cook. He (aided by his wife, Amy) prepared a memorable meal that featured vegetables from our local farm market, home-made pasta, local Five Islands Lobster, and a delectable apple caramel tart prepared by Carolyn (served with Tom’s home-made salty caramel ice cream). The menu and pictures (by Amy Masciola) are below.

 

 

 

Lemon Cream Scones

Lemon cream scones

Lemon cream scones

These scones are always a favorite at Coveside’s breakfasts.  They’re best fresh from the oven, served with lemon curd and berry jam. (You can buy lemon curd at specialty food stores, or there is a recipe here.)

Lemon Cream Scones
(Makes 12 scones)

3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
zest of one lemon

6 Tbsp cold butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 eggs
1/2 tsp lemon extract

Preheat over to 400 degrees

Pulse dry ingredients in a food processor, including the lemon zest.  Cut butter into 6 pieces and add to dry ingredients.  Pulse only until butter is the size of peas.  Whisk eggs and heavy cream together and then add the lemon extract. At the B&B I prepare the ingredients the night before and keep them in the refrigerator.  This way the ingredients are very cold and make for a better scone.  Put the dry ingredients into a bowl and slowly add the egg/milk mixture, gently combining with a fork.  Add a little more cream if necessary to hold the dough together.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently, just until dough becomes smooth and holds together.  Divide dough into two pieces.  Pat each piece into a circle 1 inch thick and 6-8 inches in diameter.  Place circles onto baking sheet and cut each into 6 wedges.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown; serve warm.

Here’s how they look, ready to eat with lemon curd and strawberry jam.  Yummm!

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An Elegant Easter Pie

Italian Easter Pie or Torta di Spinaci

Italian Easter Pie or Torta di Spinaci

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The well-worn recipe from 1972

We learned about Easter Pie years ago, when visiting the family of an Italian-American graduate school friend, John Agresto (who recently published a cookbook full of great recipes and reminiscences of growing up in Brooklyn, Tomatoes, Basil and Olive Oil: An Italian-American Cookbook). In addition to an Easter dinner of monumental proportions, their holiday was marked by a tasty spinach/cheese/meat pie that simply sat around in the kitchen for snacking in the unlikely event that someone was hungry. Carolyn and I spotted a recipe a few years later (1972!) in the Sunday NY Times for “An Elegant Easter Pie,” a recipe by Jean Hewitt under the title “Anita Sheldon’s Torta Di Spinaci.” It wasn’t quite the same as the Easter pie we remembered at the Agrestos, but it was mighty good and it became a family tradition at Eastertime until we lost the recipe some years back. It was, thankfully, recovered recently at the bottom of a file cabinet and it’s been reinstated in our holiday repertoire. We served it most recently at our annual Easter Brunch. While it has holiday credentials, it also makes for great picnic fare, or an easy luncheon dish. We just noticed that the recipe has also been published in Amanda Hesser’s wonderful new The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

Here’s the recipe, with thanks to the New York Times, Jean Hewitt, Amanda Hesser, and Anita Sheldon.

ANITA SHELDON’S TORTA Dl SPINACI
Serves 8 to 10 [or more -- it's a generous size]

For the Pastry
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces [put in all this butter; the pastry is rich, but delicious!]
1 large egg yolk
Approximately 3 tablespoons water

For the Filling
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 3/4 pounds fresh spinach, trimmed and washed well, or two 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach
Three 1-inch-thick smoked pork chops or pork loin (about 1 pound), any fat and bones removed and meat diced, or 1/2 pound bacon, diced
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 5 ounces)
1 cup (8 ounces) ricotta cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

1. To make the pastry, place the flour, salt, and butter in a bowl. With a pastry blender, 2 knives, or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse oatmeal.

2. Mix the egg yolk with 3 tablespoons water and sprinkle over the mixture. Stir with a fork, adding only enough extra water to make a dough that just clings together. Divide the dough in half and form into 2 disks. Wrap each one in wax paper and chill briefly.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Heat the oil in a large skillet and sauté the onions until tender but not browned. Set aside.

4. If using fresh spinach, place the washed spinach leaves, with just the water that clings, in a large saucepan, cover tightly, and cook until the leaves wilt. Drain well and let cool enough to touch. In batches, gather the leaves in your palm and press out all the liquid by squeezing as firmly as possible. Chop the spinach. Or, if using frozen spinach, cook according to the package directions; drain well, cool, and squeeze dry. [Note: the squeezing part is really important -- get all the water our or you'll have a soggy crust!]

5. Combine the chopped spinach and onions in a bowl and let cool completely, then add the diced smoked pork, Parmesan cheese, ricotta, salt and pepper to taste, and lightly beaten eggs.

6. Heat the oven to 425°F. Roll out half the pastry on a lightly floured work surface into 12-inch circle and line a 10-inch pie plate with it. Brush the bottom and sides of the shell with the lightly beaten egg white. Pour in the filling.

7. Roll out the remaining pastry and cover the filling. Trim, seal, and crimp the edges. Make a steam hole and if you’re up for it place leaves, cut from the pastry scraps, around the hole (not over it). [We put leaves around the edges for an elegant spring look.]

8. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and done. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting.

Cooking Notes
The torta can be baked early in the day and reheated in a 375°F oven. Cover loosely with foil to prevent overbrowning. [It is also just fine at room temperature or slightly warmed]

Oysters from Damariscotta!

Oysters ready to be shucked

Damariscotta oysters ready to be shucked and plated

A sure sign of spring: oystering has begun on the Maine coast and our favorite spot for quaffing them (along with a pint of Pemaquid Ale ) is King Eider’s Pub, on the main drag in Damariscotta.  This delightful village is about a 40-minute drive north of Coveside on highway one. It sits at the top of the lovely Pemaquid peninsula, home to lighthouses, a favorite summer restaurant — Shaws Fish and Lobster Wharf in the village of New Harbor, and great scenery. We think these oysters from Darariscotta River, raised in the chilly waters of Maine, are about the finest oysters we’ve ever tasted. But ice in the river prevents their harvesting during the winter months.  All the more reason to take advantage of these treats when they are available!

Easter Brunch at Coveside

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We invited friends and neighbors to an Easter brunch at Coveside, so Carolyn could try out new recipes and get back into baking after our lengthy sojourn in Europe. The event was a great success and the food — especially the baked goods — was wonderful. Many new ideas for breakfasts next summer! Recipes for the baked goods came mostly from Thomas Keller’s beautiful new cookbook, Bouchon Bakery (Artisan Books), and from the new cookbook from our favorite Portland bakery: Alison Pray and Tara Smith, Standard Baking Company Pastries (Down East Press).

Rome food adventure

artichoke

After our four-week French course in Villefranche-Sur-Mer was over, we spent four days in Rome, visiting old friends who were in Rome for the month of March. On the first day they booked a fabulous Rome food tour with Elizabeth Minchilli, an acclaimed cookbook writer and blogger. She is an American who has lived in Rome for many years. Her blog, Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome, is one of our two most favorite food blogs (the other is David Libovitz’ “Living the Sweet Life in Paris.”)

We spent an hour or so in the Campo de’ Fiore, one of Rome’s best known vegetable markets. Artichoke season had just begun and the bounty of artichokes was amazing. To say nothing of the other vegetables, the flowers, spices, etc. And then we visited food shops in the neighborhood. A feast for the senses!  If you are in Rome, we highly recommend Elizabeth’s food tour, which includes visits to pastry, cheese, wine, bread, and sausage shops — with tasting — and a lovely lunch at a traditional Roman restaurant. Some pictures of the bounty:

Baking Classes at King Arthur

King Arthur baguette class

What Do You Do With 12 Baguettes?

Breakfast Pastries from King Arthur Class

Homework From Baking Class

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom & Carolyn spent the weekend in Norwich, Vermont, at the King Arthur bake center and school. Tom took a class called “Baguettes Six Ways” taught by Jeffrey Hammelman, chief baker at King Arthur. Carolyn took a class on “Artisan Breakfast Breads” taught by Ciril Hitz, author of several books on breads and pastries. Who knows how this will change breakfasts next summer! Some pictures of the classes:

 

Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Muffins

The taste of Autumn: pumpkin muffins with apple butter and a glass of fresh cider.

Carolyn tried a new fall muffin recipe this morning and it was a hit.  Here’s the reccipe:

Pumpkin Muffins

Grease 12 muffin tins. Preheat oven to 375.

Mix together following dry ingredients in a large bowl:
1 1/2 cups chopped dates or dried cranberries
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped in large pieces
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt

In separate bowl, whisk together the following wet ingredients:
2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt

Gently blend wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Do not overmix! It’s okay if a bit of flour   remains unmixed. Fill muffin tins. Sprinkle tops with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned and toothpick pushed into center of muffin comes out clean. Let rest in pan 5 minutes before removing to rack.