Monday, September 10, 2012

Corn Soup

The thing about corn is that it always confuses me.  I picture long days of eating corn on the cob, savoring each burst of the kernels under the hot summer sun...but then every year the harsh reality sets in -corn doesnt come into season until late summer.  Of course, once it's here, I tend to take every opportunity to enjoy it.  When I was thinking up dishes for what to bring to our Progressive Dinner party, I knew I wanted to do something with fresh local corn. I was tasked with second course, which I translated into Soup and a salad....Corn Soup of course. 

Corn soup is always just slightly tricky.  I find that often it's so loaded down with cream that it turns into much more of an indulgence than wanted, or its thinned with wines or beers and the flavors overpower the sweet, delicate flavor of the vegetable.  I wanted to make a fluffy, flavorful, light (er), corn soup. 

I began with six ears of corn, freshly shucked (I beg of you-shuck your corn at home before you eat it- NOT in the store- it just loses moisture) and set them steam above three bottles of Harpoon UFO White beer and two sweet onios, quartered.  Once the corn was cooked, I removed it from the cob, placed it in my food processor with 4 teaspoons of butter (sorry kids had to happen), and ladeled in some of the reduced, boiled beer to think it out.  I pulsed and pureed, added more of the boiled beer, and salt and pepper to taste.  Then comes the "fun" part.  Once the the corn has been thinned by the beer mix, use any small hole collander to strain out the larger bits of corn, and use the back of a spoon to push the liquid through.  Set aside the thick mash that results, and once all of the corn has been sifted through, redeposit the mash back into the food processor, and add another bottle of beer, plus one of water to the original steaming pot with the leftover onions.  Boil until the alcohol has cooked out of the beer and add the liquid to the food processor.  Repeat the steps finally setting aside the mash either for corn cakes or for trash and preserving the liquid. 

The resulting, which can be served at room temperature without any adornment has all of the beautiful flavor of fresh corn with just a background hint of beer, salt and pepper.  I enjoyed every bite as though I was biting into a fresh ear of corn that I'd buttered salt and peppered and was enjoying with an ice cold beer.  It was a perfect soup with a light consistency and full rich flavor. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Ginger Diesel Cocktail

Photo courtesy of Beantown Baker
As I mentioned yesterday, in addition to the recipes from Maine chefs cookbook, I also received a cocktail book- Drinking In Maine:  50 Cocktails, Concoctions and Drinks from Our Best Artisan Producers and Restaurants.  Written again by Michael Sanders, this handy guide walks through the the varied seasons and offers boozy beverages for each.  Those of you who know me outside of the blog- you know how much I love this.

A few friends and I gathered a couple of weeks ago to have a Progressive Dinner party, wending our way through each others homes and supplying delicious foods and cocktails at each.  Friends Katie and Adam were gracious enough to allow me to host my course at their abode, as my current place just doesnt accommodate that many adults, and I consulted my Drinking in Maine cocktail book to find the perfect drink.  Now this group of friends are excellent connoisseurs of a fine drink, and have often selected the Dark and Stormy as their drink of choice.  So, when I found a Ginger Diesel listed in the book- I immediately jumped on it.

Combining ale, ginger beer and fruity creme de cassis this was a cocktail to love.  It was hearty, spicy and sweet.  It was light and effervescent making it lovely to serve with food, and unique enough to be special for a good group of friends.  I will definitely be serving this one again.

Ginger Diesel (supplied from Bar Lola, Portland)
6 oz Maine Root Ginger Beer
6 oz Allagash White
1/2 oz Creme de Cassis
Lemon Wheel

Pour ginger beer into a pint Pils glass.  Add the creme de cassis.  Slowly add the Allagash White beer, preserving the head.  Garnish with a lemon wheel.  No stirring required!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Recipe Testing: Fresh from Maine: Recipes and Stories from the State's Best Chefs

A couple of months ago- in the midst of my summer craziness- I was sent two cookbooks.  Lets rephrase- I was sent two cookbooks from MAINE, designed by MAINE chefs, using MAINE ingredients- since I'm basically in love with Maine- I was unbelievably eager to get moving on cooking from these bad boys.  I'll rephrase again- eating and drinking from them- that's right- one is a Maine based cocktail book- even better.

I spent weeks flipping through these books- the first- Fresh From Maine- Recipes and Stories from the State's Best Chefs, written by Michael S. Sanders made me happy with every flip of the page.  Treasures from Maine, from their shores, their lands, and their imaginations, were captured in every recipe, and each show cased a different side of the Maine lifestyle.  I think that's the real beauty of Maine- the state is full of fishermen and farmers, but doesn't leave their artists behind either.  The books shows all of the personalities with hearty classics, and refined creations.

I was immediately drawn to the Crab Salad with Fried Tomato and Avocado which was supplied by Chef Henry Ares from his restaurant Anneke Jans found in Kittery.  Layering thick slices of crisp tomato, creamy crab salad, spicy micro greens and decadent avocado splashed with tart sherry vinegar- it all sounded too good to be true.

This was a simple to prepare recipe, with full flavors of the summer season.  I devoured every bite.

Crab Salad with Fried Tomato and Avocado

Crab Salad:
2 lbs fresh Maine crab meat, Peaky- Toe or Jonah
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 stalk celery
1 small red Holland pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste

Fried Tomatoes:
2 firm heirloom tomatoes, like Brandywine or Cherokee Purple, in 1/2" slices
2 cups all purpose flour for dredging
2 cups milk
2 eggs
3 cups Panko crumbs
2 cups Canola Oil
1 cup Micro Greens
3 ripe avocados
Sherry Vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

For the crab salad:
Roast the pepper in a 450 degree (F) oven 10 to 15 minutes until skin turns black.  Remove and, under running water, peel off the skin and pat dry before dicing finely.  Run the crab meat through your fingers lightly to check for shell and cartilage.  Mix the mayo, celery, crab meat, and pepper in a bowl and then salt and pepper to taste.

For the fried tomatoes:  in a bowl whisk eggs, and milk together until blended.  Put the flour and the Panko crumbs n two shallow dishes.  Dredge the sliced tomatoes first in the flour until well coated on both sides.  Then dip the tomato slices in the egg mixture, shake off excess then coat in Panko crumbs.  Put the 2 cups of canola oil n a deep sided saute pan on high heat.  When very hot, about 375 degrees (F), place the tomato slices in the oil and cook 3 to 4 minutes each side, watching carefully until golden brown and crispy.

To serve: peel and pit avocados and slice lengthwise into 1/4" slices.  Fan the avocado slices in the center of each plate, and put the fried tomato on the avocado slices.  Place a late spoonful of the crab mixture atop of the tomato. Top the crab with a small bunch of micro greens and drizzle the whole with sherry vinegar and oil, season with salt and fresh ground black pepper.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Salvatore's NEW Late Night Menu Deal!

You know those nights...those nights when it's late, and you're hungry and you want something GOOD. You dot want bad take out Chinese food from that sketchy place down the street, you know the selection at your local 7-11 is going to leave you depressed and yet most kitchens are closing down and you're fear that your stomach will have to wail all night is starting to take hold. Fear not, Salvatore's, with locations in the Theatre District and on the Waterfront has you covered. A new menu is launching- a menu that kicks off at 10 pm and satisfies that need for delicious food...and does so at a bargain price.

How's this for a deal: 10 pm til close, a selection of inventive wood fired pizzas, 6", $3.00. Right?

I had the opportunity to head into Salvatore's on the Waterfront to check out this new menu recently and let me tell you -I wasn't disappointed.

I started my tour of pizzas with the Sausage and Ricotta,  a mix of sausage, creamy ricotta cheese, a splash of tomato sauce and a generous heaping of banana peppers- all piled on Salvatore's signature crisp crust.  I really enjoyed the variations of flavor and texture here.  The peppers were spicy, but instantly cooled with the creamy ricotta, and the sausage made this slice hearty and filling.

Next on my list was a unique pie named Soppresata Picante which combined spicy and salty Soppresata ham with creamy fresh Mozzarella cheese, a sprinkle of Parmesan, a bit of Pomodoro sauce and the finishing flourish was a drizzle of spicy honey.  This was a pie that I felt immediate love for.  The combination of salt, spice, and sweet was perfect and when it was accompanied with the traditional cheese and tomato combination it made for a unique pie that I could go back for again and again.

Rounding out my favorites for the evening- the Vignola Cherry.  So for all you youngin's out there- this one comes with a warning- you must be 21+ to enjoy.  That's right- this one includes some honest to goodness alcohol which may just be the perfect thing you're looking for at 10 pm....  A crispy pizza crust is fresh mozzarella, tangy Gorgonzola, Prosciutto, a drizzle of orange blossom honey and then, scattered about on top- Bing cherries marinated in raspberry vodka.  I create some weird food combinations- but I never would have devised this one in my head, but man- I'm glad someone did.  The rich cherries were perfectly offset with the salty ham, and that sweetness from the honey cut the alcohol so every bite was full of everything nice. 

This is one of the best deals in town, and you MUST head over (now-well wait for 10pm) and then rush over and check out Salvatore's new late night menu- you will not be disappointed!!

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