Sunday, July 29, 2012

Refrigerator Pickles

Refrigerator Pickles
My garden is definitely IN and I am getting cucumbers, zucchini, and green beans. With my extras, I have been making quick and crisp refrigerator pickles which are about as easy peezy as you can get!
Start with freshly sliced Garden Bounty!

7 cups assorted peeled and sliced garden fresh vegetables 
I used zucchini, cukes, green beans 

1 Tbsp. salt

1 c. sugar

1 large sliced Vidalia Onion

1-2 c. + Cider Vinegar depending on jars used

1 teasp. celery seed or pickling spice

Mix the Veggies with the salt and let sit for 1 hour. Then add the rest of the ingredients and place into clean jars with covers and place in the refrigerator. Ready to eat almost immediately . You will love the crispness and fresh taste. 

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl after salting the veggies for 1 hour and then pack into jars and refrigerate! Quick, Easy, Delicious!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mackeral and an Ear of Marini Farms, Ipswich Corn and a Blueberry Beet Salad! YUM!

Mackeral and an Ear of Corn
My mother in law, Priscilla, Allen Abbott, used to love a typically Gloucester summer dinner. Yes, a lowly grilled Mackeral and an ear of corn. I think this is a very old fashioned local summer dinner, largely forgotten but readily available. She always begged us for a fresh mackerel when corn was in season. A couple of days ago we were out on the "Blue Pearl" by the Groaner buoy off the breakwater and just for fun threw in a mackeral line and within minutes had a few "tinkers". Charlie and I had made a trek to Marini Farms on Linebrook Rd., in Ipswich the day before and purchased extremely fresh local corn. Usually my husband just keeps the mackerel for lobster or bass bait but we decided to bring home a few for dinner in honor of Priscilla. Her ways were the old fashioned Gloucester ways as she was decended from the Allen's who actually came to Gloucester with the Dorchester Company in the 1600's. The Dorchester Company settled and built stages or large drying racks at Stage Fort Park to dry salt cod. Her family decended from one of them and over the last several hundred years ran local businesses and we very active in the community. She knew lots of really simple and delicious ways to harvest and cook local seafoods. She remembered many of the old ways and I was fascinated by her tales. 

Mackeral is extremely delicious. The reason people don't eat much of it is because of the bones. There is a way to split the cooked fish and take out the whole skeletal system all at once, which my husband Charlie is rather good at, all the same one must be careful. I am of the opinion that mackerel grilled on the gas grill gives ups its bones easier than pan friend. All the same, it is a tender and sweet fish to eat, especially the small ones or tinkers.

Fresh Tinker Mackeral ready for the gas grill
seasoned with olive oil, sea salt,
dried herbs, dried, kelp, and cracked pepper

I season the gutted whole fish with Olive oil, sea salt, cracker pepper, dried herbs from my garden, and dried flaked sea kelp. I actually make this seasoning myself which I give as Christmas presents. It is supremely good on fish. I dry the kelp my husband brings home on a trellis out in the sun in the back yard and then put it through the food processor when it is bone dry and then mix it with my own dried herbs and sea salt and put in a shaker. I don't even have a name for this but it is a Kelp Seasoning. We have so much beautiful seaweed here on Cape Ann and people do not take advantage of it as I think it is largely forgotten. Many people actually go to the health food store and buy kelp pills and take them because they are so good for you. Honestly, if you live in Gloucester, pick up some clean looking kelp and dry it and use it with salt as a seasoning and you will be well rewarded with a fantastic flavor. Great on Seafood and Chicken!! ok, I know what you are thinking, I must be nuts, but I am not. It is actually good!

Mackeral once it has been Grilled

I served this with a salad with greens and grated zucchini from my garden,
 grated Topsfield beets, local blueberries.
So yes, this dinner is a throwback! I know it isn't for everyone and there are those among you who would scoff and say we were eating bait but harvesting and eating locally is a thing well forgotten. Although there has been a resurgence of interest with Farmers Markets, honestly, this is something I have done my whole life. Growing up and living on Cape Ann, there has always been those long summer nights we boiled mussels and periwinkles in a coffee can on the beach or cooked lobsters and clams wrapped in seaweed on buried hot rocks in the sand. Mackeral and an Ear of Local Corn is a GEM of a meal and ancient in its roots as a decent and delicious dinner. If you can't make the leap of drying your own kelp for seasoning, just use olive oil, salt and pepper ...maybe a little lemon to season fish.  Just so you know, the mackerel must be very fresh and if you caught it yourself off Niles Beach or out off the breakwater, even better! Happy Cooking, Blessings and Love to you and Your Families!  ~~Melissa Smith Abbott 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

LOBSTER PIE - Summertime doesn't get any Better than This!

Lobster Pie fresh out of the Oven

Lobster Pies isn't just something you get as a "special" at any old waterfront restaurant. It is an absolute "must" for your summer repertoire of engaging menus using what is at hand on Cape Ann. It has been a not just a good year for lobsters, it has been a great year. My husband has been coming home with them from his traps pretty often. I need to pair this with my summer garden and there are just so many boiled lobsters, lobster cocktails, and lobster salads one can do without boredom setting in. It seems like every year around about the beginning of August, I start getting a little more creative with the lobster recipes. This year, inspiration struck early. Now you can get a can of CAMPBELLS Shrimp Bisque at the store and use it for your sauce. You may go blind looking for it amongst the soups but in a pinch you can use that for Lobster Pie and it is decent. My husband, Charlie, and I got talking and I remembered the Lobster Pies from the Easterly Inn during the 1960's and 70's, made by a host of french chefs named Marcelle and Pierre, hired by my grandmother, restauranteur, Melissa C. Smith. I plotted to recreate these magnificent memories this summer. I think I did a pretty good job and I have to tell you, this dish, is totally worth the work of making a lobster stock first. 

I love to serve Lobster Pie with Pasta!

I like to serve Lobster Pie with a pasta. I am sure this isn't the way it was done years ago but I don't care, it is delicious with a nice pasta. My new favorite is "Cavatappi" which looks like corkscrews. I bought it by accident one time when I was getting some rotini for a pasta salad I was making and was pleasantly surprised by the way it holds the sauce.

Pair Pasta/Pie with a steamed
Vegetable and a Garden Salad!

It is great with a steamed veggie like broccoli or asparagus too!

lobster shells cooking with wine and
veggies to get out the flavor of the Lobster

Speaking of Sauce, this dish seems like it is about Lobster and yes, Lobster is the main player, how could Lobster be anything but the main player but the supporting actor is the sauce and to make a REALLY good sauce for Lobster Pie one must take the shells of the tails (after you shuck the lobster meat, I used 5 small lobsters for the meat in this pie ). I cut the shells into quarters.

1 pie

Main Ingredient:
4-6 small lobsters cooked and shucked (set meat aside till assembling pie)

Lobster Stock Ingredients:
1 small chopped onion or shallots
1 stalk cellery chopped
1 small carrot chopped
2 cups white wine
3 Tbsp Butter
salt and pepper to taste (white pepper works well)

Sauce for Pie Ingredients:
4 Tbsp. Butter
1/4 cup scant flour
1 cup heavy cream
1-11/4 cup strained Lobster Stock
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4+ dry sherry to taste
salt and white pepper to taste

1 sleeve of crushed with a rolling pin in a plastic bag Ritz Cracker Crumbs
3 Tbsp. Melted butter drizzled on top

Saute your onions, celery, and carrots in the butter till slightly cooked, add 2 c. white wine and lobster shells.  Do this in a heavy pan. I use an enameled cast iron pan. Bring to a boil and then set on low and let simmer or cook down. You are looking to get at least 1 cup of cooked down stock for this recipe. You can always make extra, if desired, and save for future use. I cooked this down down about 20 minutes. Then I strained out the shells and vegetables to get the stock.

While stock is cooking, I buttered a nice glass pie plate 

Cut the Lobster Meat into Small Bite Size Pieces
 and place in your buttered pie plate

Strained Lobster Stock - You need 1 cup of it for Pie, freeze
any extras for future Bisque or Chowder

Making the Roux
Melt Butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat. You want to cook this slowly to thicken beautifully. After Butter is melted, add flour and whisk to make a roux and then add some cream and stir constantly. Continue to add cream, lobster stock alternately and continue stirring over medium heat until thickened. Add dry mustard, sherry, and any salt and white pepper you need to get the right taste.

Pour the completed and thickened Lobster Sauce over the bite size lobster pieces in the pie plate. You should have 2 cups of Sauce which is enough for the pie. 

Crush 1 sleeve of Ritz Crackers (20-25 crackers) in a plastic bag. Use a rolling pin. Make sure they are fully crushed and look like bread crumbs. Sprinkle crushed Ritz Cracker Crumbs over top of Lobster Pie. Then drizzle with melted butter. At this point you can either cook it right away or pop it into the refrigerator for later when its dinner time or guests arrive. This is actually a very good dinner party dish because you can make it up earlier in the day and cook it while you have wine, cocktails, and conversation before dinner and as the hostess you won't have the stress of cooking with people looking over your shoulder and you can spend more time with them.
Lobster Pie cooking in the Oven
When its 20-25 minutes before dinner, pop the gorgeous Lobster Pie in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

While Lobster Pie is cooking, I like to cook my Cavatappi Pasta!
 I have also made this with Angel Hair Pasta to RAVE reviews!

This is what Lobster Pie looks like when you
take it our of the Oven
Browned and Bubbly

I like to steam up a fresh vegetable to go with Lobster Pie
 and this is some of my Organic Steamed Broccoli
from my Cape Ann Garden

Serve quickly while it is all still piping hot. This recipe makes quite a bit and it should be enough for 4-6 people easily for a dinner party. My husband love making this and eating the leftovers if we aren't entertaining. Believe me, this Pie will never go to waste!

The flavor is light, aromatic, and pleasingly delicious. If guided you could add some parmesan cheese to the pasta. I have to tell you that we enjoy it just as it is. Simple flavors enhanced by fresh New England Ingredients. You could doctor this up with all kinds of various herbs, garlic, and chopped whatever in all kinds of reductions but the truth is, this simple old fashioned New England stable truly pleases the palate and the senses.

Good Luck in your cooking and if you feel inspired to try your hand at this Pie you will be rewarded with not only a delicious meal but the appreciation and gratitude of your guests.

Cooking with Love enhances all the flavors of Life! Good Living doesn't get any better than this!

~~Melissa Smith Abbott
Tues., July 24, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012

Zuchinni Pancakes

Oh what to do with all of that Zuchinni! It is a bombshell year and I have been bombed with Zuchinni. I do all the usual things. Zuchinni Bread, Brownies, Saute Zuchinni, Stuffed Zuchinni, Zuchinni Relish, and I even juice Zuchinnis and drink the refreshing juice. Sort of like cucumber juice. Very good mixed with carrot. Anyway, yesterday, I juiced some Zuchinnis and I mean it's getting scary I have so many. What to do?

I love a good potato pancake and I remembered making some Zuchinni Pancakes years ago and at one point I even made a giant Zuchinni Pizza Pancake. I decided to take some of the left over pulp from juicing zucchinis and make some pancakes. This is a savory pancake and good served with usual sour cream and apple sauce as with potato Latkes or even maple syrup!! The Savory sweet combination is quite interesting. Simple, healthy, and delicious!

Zuchinni Pancake Recipe

Place in One Bowl:
2 c. Zuchinni Pulp or drained and squeezed grated zuchinni
1 small onion chopped
1/2 c. basil leaves chopped
salt and pepper

In a separate bowl or food processor mix together:
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 eggs
1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder

Fold egg/flour mixture into zuchinni pulp mixture.
Heat cast iron skillet and fry large flattened spoonfuls on a hot griddle. When browned on one side flip. Drain on platter lined with paper towels and keep warm in 200 degree oven while making the rest. Serve with a collection of condiments. Suggestions: Sour Cream, Apple Sauce, Berry Jam, Heated Maple Syrup, Honey, or just Salt and Pepper.

You can create a lot of variations of this using garlic, other herbs, walnuts, and even try some additions like cranberries or other dried fruits.

Good Luck with Zuchinni Madness!! 
Melissa :)

Zuchinni Pancakes cooking on Skillet

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Stalking the Wild Blueberry - Cape Ann Blueberry Griddle Cake Recipe

Wild Blueberries!
Unfortunately, this isn't the best blueberry year, 2012 but I managed to find a few East Gloucester berries which I bolstered with my own cultivated yard grown bushes, enough for some of the blueberry griddle cakes with real maple syrup. I only got a cup of berries the day I went searching with Emily and JJ. The mild winter must have played havoc with the crop because unlike last year, there are very few low bush berries available.  I decided to make the best of it and I had the option of making blueberry muffins, blueberry cake, or blueberry griddle cakes. I chose the griddle cakes. The recipe is old, it belonged to my grandmother and is available in my book "The Legacy of Three Melissas". It was something made in all my grandmother's Inns and Restaurants as a breakfast choice. A staple at the Blacksmith Shop Restaurant, Rockport, MA 1928-1971, The Easterly Inn, Gloucester, MA 1963-1972, and the Cable House Bed and Breakfast, Rockport, MA 1946-1997.  Hearty but light as a feather!
JJ & Emily
Looking for the Elusive Berries!!

Delicious Breakfast!

by Melissa C. Smith (my grandmother) owner of The Blacksmith Shop Restaurant, Easterly Inn, and Cable House Bed and Breakfast where this exact recipe was lovingly served to many happy customers, family, and friends over a period of many years. It may seem easier to just do a box mix but I promise you, if you follow this recipe exactly and yes, use up 3 bowls in the kitchen and make a bit of a mess with the electric mixer, you will be rewarded with a delightful breakfast!

Allow 3 cakes per person and serve with plenty of Real Maple Syrup!
The recipe makes about 6 large cakes so multiply it if you are cooking for more than 2 people.

1 1/2 c. sifted flour
3 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 c. milk
3 Tbs. melted butter

Separate the Yolk from white of egg. Beat egg white with electric mixer until stiff but moist. Sift flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together. Beat egg yolk and milk together. Add flour mixture to egg/milk mixture and mix together well but lightly. Fold in stiff egg while gently. Gently blend in butter. Treat it all very lightly to keep air in the mixture as this makes it especially light and delicious. Heat griddle or cast iron pan, grease lightly. Cook the cakes until small bubbles appear and then turn and cook until golden brown. Add blueberries one at a time to the top of the griddle cakes before you flip them. Poke them gently with a finger. Keep cooked griddle cakes warm in 200 degree oven on a plate while you finish cooking the rest. Heat maple syrup and serve with cakes hot.

Add the blueberries to the top of cooking cake

Heated Real Maple Syrup served in a Pitcher

Cooking Side two of the Cake!

JJ holding the Prize, a Cape Ann Wild Blueberry

Thank-you for letting me share with you, searching for and cooking a local delicacy, the Cape Ann Wild Blueberry with a historic Cape Ann Recipe!

Kindly, Melissa Smith Abbott

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Classic Lobster Roll - The Perfect Summer Lunch!

Nothing says summer like a classic Lobster Roll on a toasted hot dog roll with pickles and chips! You will never get complaints  if you serve this meal! Just mix chopped fresh lobster meat with Cains Mayonnaise and a little bit of chopped celery, toast up some classic hot dog rolls, assemble with pickles and chips and you have the perfect summer lunch!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Salmon Burgers on Toasted Bun with Tartar Sauce and Garden Fresh Greens

Salmon Burger with Tartar Sauce
on Whole Wheat Bun

Have you ever cooked up a big piece of Salmon for dinner and then had leftovers and wondered what to do with it? For some reason, there is never enough to reheat but too much to ignore. Actually, my Salmon burgers are just a variation of Crab Cakes. Makes a delicious light dinner or luncheon meal. I pair it with a whole wheat bun, fresh lettuce form my garden, and a slice of tomato with some simple tartar sauce.

Salmon Burgers Recipe
saute 1/4 small chopped onion in a little olive oil, cool, add to
flaked with a fork, leftover salmon in a bowl,
add a few chopped basil and parsley leaves from your kitchen garden
add 1 egg, 1/2 c. panko bread crumbs, salt, and pepper, mix well and form into Burgers.
I let the burgers sit on a plate for at least 1/2 hour in the refrigerator to settle into a molded position before frying in a little olive oil in a pan on the stove.

Side one frying in a little
olive oil

When Browned, flip and
cook the other side

1/2 cup Cains Mayonaise and 2 Tbsp pickle relish,
mix together and Voila, Tartar Sauce

Gather and Wash Fresh Greens
from the Garden


Friday, July 13, 2012

Melissa's Lobster and Fresh Basil Pizza - How to Get that Brick Oven taste at HOME! Dough and Sauce Recipe included!

Lobster Pizza
Yes Folks, that is Lobster on that Pizza along with Fresh Basil Leaves! Years ago, I used to work at the Surf Restaurant in Magnolia, MA. They made a thin crust Pizza with Lobster on it and I have always remembered it. My version uses my trusty Pizza Dough Recipe along with my home made sauce. You can use any old crust and sauce with good success because the secret to the whole thing is plenty of Lobster!!

Melissa's Pizza 
1/4 c. Marsala wine
3/4 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. dried yeast
tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. honey
3 c. flour

Preheat to 420-430 degree oven. I use a cast iron Pizza Pan and I put it in the oven while the oven is heating up so it is red hot when I go to make the Pizza. You can use a cast iron skillet with good success. The reason I do this, is it makes a very crispy thin crust. I divid the dough into 2 balls. This recipe makes two pizzas. I roll out the dough with a rolling pin (secret to making it extra thin). I have all my ingredients ready out on the counter because once you take the hot pan(s) out of the oven, time is of the essence to get it assembled. I quickly place the rolled out dough onto a red hot and ungreased pan. Then I quickly put on the 1 c. Sauce (recipe below) , 1/2 lb. Lobster Meat, 2 Springs Basil Leaves, and  2 c. shredded Mozzerella and 1/2 shredded Parmesan cheese.  Once the pizza goes in the oven, I turn it down to 400 degrees. I put it on the lowest rack for 10 minutes and then switch it to the higher rack for 10 minutes. If your oven is a hot oven, the timing may take more or less. I am trying to replicate the brick oven temperatures and experience to get that really good, you can't buy this type of Pizza anywhere taste.

Lobster Pizza fresh out of the Oven

Melissa's Fresh Tomato Sauce

I puree fresh tomatoes in my blender or you can use canned whole tomatoes. If you are making a nice batch of sauce figure on 2 large cans of tomatoes or 4 or 5 lbs fresh tomatoes. These particular tomatoes were frozen from last year's garden and I need to use them up before I am inundated with this years crop (coming soon). I put the tomatoes in my crock pot, add fresh herbs from my garden such as Oregano, Chives, and Basil. Then I saute an Onion just a little bit and put that in the mix. You can add Garlic if you like too but my husband doesn't like it so I don't add it but you can add anything else you have on hand like peppers or garlic. I like a nice Margarita taste to my pizza so a simple sauce is best for me. One of the tricks to a good sauce when using fresh tomatoes is to put a potato in the pot while it is cooking as this takes out any bitterness from the seeds. I learned this from the Italian community here in Gloucester. You can also use a carrot or other root vegetable. When my children were little they used to beg to eat the potato after the sauce was cooked. Truthfully, I throw it away, usually, but some people consider it a delicacy. I also add about 3 Tbsp. of Sugar or Honey to sweeten it up. Set the crock pot on high and let it cook for several hours. If the sauce is thin, add 1 can of tomato paste to thicken it.  After cooking for several hours, you can jar it up into a couple quart size jars and keep it in the refrigerator till you need sauce for a recipe. I grow lots of tomatoes every year and I freeze or can them for making sauce later.  Sometimes I make huge batches of just sauce in the fall and freeze bags of it for the winter. I usually have anywhere from 16-25 tomato plants in any given summer. This year, I am trying to dial it back and only have around 16 tomato plants. I try to grown several Roma plants but I am also a Big Boy fan and I love heirloom tomatoes too. Making your own sauce is an art and everyone has their own ideas of what works for them and what doesn't. I like a fresh natural taste. Other people like loads of garlic flavor. Basically you can be as creative as you want but the upshot is that I might spend $12-$20 on tomato plants in the spring and end up with 50 quarts of sauce or stewed tomatoes in the fall plus all the fresh tomatoes I grew and ate or gave away all summer. I have at least $100+ of tomatoes in my freezer every year. You can't beat fresh tomatoes and all the things you can cook with them including Pizza. A good garden cook as an arsenal of tomato recipes. I hope to share more of them with you in the future! Meanwhile Abondanza!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fifty Shades of Zuchinni or How I turned Juicing Zuchinnis into Making Lasagna

Ok, So I have so many Zucchinis that it is practically 50 Shades of Zucchini at my house.  In fact I have so many, I dusted off the Jack Lalaine juicer I bought on eBay a few years ago. I love the Jack Lalaine juicer, it is so easy and cleans up well. There is a lot of green juice in Zucchinis. It tastes ok, it is good for you. It is refreshing. It uses up lots of Zucchinis. There is a lot of pulp left over from making the juice and this is actually a very cool by product because one of the problems with using zucchinis in recipes is that there is a lot of extra water. You can take the Zucchini pulp left over from juicing and use it for a wonderful Zucchini Lasagna.

Photo of Melissa's Zucchini Juice - If you are not turned on by this photo, it's ok, I understand......

Melissa's Zucchini Juice

Recipe for Zucchini Lasagna

Makes 2 Pans (freeze one)
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes

Box of No Boil Lasagna Noodles
Pulp of Several Zucchinis after Juicing
container Cottage Cheese or Ricotta
Grated Mozzarella
Grated Parmesan
Two Chopped Onions
Tomato Sauce
Assorted Herbs and Salt and Pepper - whatever is on hand

Mix the Pulp with Cottage Cheese or Ricotta, chopped Onions,
Salt and Pepper in a Pan over Med Heat

Assemble your layers of No Boil Lasagna Noodles,
Zucchini Mixture,  Mozzarella, Parmesan, and
with or without Tomato Sauce. 
Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes - remove and
let cool for a few minutes before slicing
Slice of Zucchini Lasagna

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Really Good Super Zuchinni Brownies

Super Delicious Zuchinni Brownies

Zuchinni Brownies -  bake 30 minutes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
9"x13" baking pan greased

1/2 c. Olive Oil
11/2 c. Sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 c. Flour
1/2 c. Cocoa Powder
My Garden exploded with Zuchinni!!

11/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 c. Shredded and Squeezed Dry Fresh Zuchinni
2/3 c. Chopped Walnuts
Grate 2 cups zuchinni and squeeze out water 
2 eggs

Mix all ingredients together