Sunday, November 29, 2015

Holiday Soup Shooters

Serving hot soup as shooters? Yup! I created these soups in order for uyou to be able to quickly, and simply, prepare them with minimal effort, but with extraordinary kick. Serve these in small shot glasses in order to correctly live up to the name, or ladle them in large bowls to savor even longer.

Mexican Caliente

Although a churro is a sweet, cinnamon snack throughout Central America, this soup is the perfect vehicle for a touch of churro-flavored vodka. For those of you who aren't keen on parsnips, you will enjoy this great flavored soup because of the abundance of other flavors working so well together.

1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 pound parsnips, peeled and sliced
1 apple, peeled cored and diced
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Smirnoff Cinnamon Churros Vodka*

Place oil in a large saucpan over medium heat. When hot, add onion and cook 4-6 minutes, or until softened. Stir in curry powder and parsnips. Continue cooking an additional 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add apple and broth, bringing to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until parsnips are very tender. In batches if needed, transfer to a food processor or blender and pulse on high until as smooth as possible. Place back into pan and keep warm. . Remove from heat and evenly divide among cordial, appertif or shot glasses. Drizzle vodka into each glass and serve.

Makes about 3 1/2 cups total volume

*Or use any cinnamon flavored vodka or liqueur.


'Jacked' Oyster-Gouda Bisque

This is my favorite soup shooter. The smoked Gouda and oysters are satisfying to my primal instinct while the cider brings out the best Yankee in me. This entire preparation works perfectly together.

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup minced onion
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup hard apple cider *
1(7-ounce)can smoked oysters, drained

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add flour and stir until thickened and combined well. Add chicken broth and milk. Whisk well and continue cooking over medium heat until thickened and hot, about 4-5 minutes. Add cheese and continue stirring until cheese has completely melted. Remove from heat and blend in the oysters. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among cordial, appertif or shot glasses and drizzle desired amoung of hard apple cider on top of each. Serve immediately.

Makes about 3 1/2 cups by volume.

*Or use Applejack liquor


Citrusy Spiked Butternut Soup


There is just something about the flavor of orange with squash that just seems natural. Enjoy this low fat soup that has so much working for it, I would be here babbling too long trying to explain it. It is the perfect soup to begin a Holiday meal.

1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup orange-flavored liqueur *
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 small butternut squash, about 1 pound, peeled, seeded and diced
3 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup plain yogurt
Sprinkle nutmeg

Add cranberries and liqueur to a bowl, cover with film wrap and microwave until liquid is hot, but not boiling. Remove to let sit for at least 1 hour before continuing with recipe.

Add oil to a large saucepan over medium high heat. When hot, add onion and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add carrot and continue to cook and stir an additional 5 minutes. Add squash, broth, bay leaf and salt and black pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 20 minutes, or until vegetables are quite soft.

In batches if needed, transfer to a food processor or blender, removing bay leaf. Pulse on high until as smooth as possible. Carefully strain soup back into pan and bring to scalding. Remove from heat and stir in plain yogurt. Evenly divide among cordial, appertif or shot glasses and place some soaked cranberries in the middle of each, sprinkling with nutmeg before serving.

* This was a tough decision but use whatever orange liqueur you enjoy the most. Here are a couple of ideas though. Cointreau, Grand Marnier(although Cognac dominates the flavor of this alcohol and will darken the color of the soup) Orange or Blue Curaçao and Triple sec are the top choices for this recipe.


Damn Pumpkin Shooters

A great touch to these shooters would be to sprinkle some Cinnamon Schnapps into each right before serving.

1 cup pumpkin ale
1/4 cup dried figs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup skim milk
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon maple syrup
Salt and black pepper to taste

Warm the pumpkin ale in a large saucepan over low heat. Add figs and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove figs from liquid; set aside. Add remainder of ingredients to ale and whisk well. Increase heat to medium and bring to scalding, stirring frequently.

When ready to serve, Add ale mixture and soaked raisins to a food processor or blender and puree until as smooth as possible. Transfer to soup, stir well and divide among cordial, appertif or shot glasses. Garnish with some chopped figs on top if desired.


Yuletide Chestnut Cheer

Named for Fra Angelico, who was a hermit known for his unique, liquor-based recipes, the hazelnut flavor of Frangelico goes perfectly with the chestnuts in this soup shooter. Second on Santa's list would be Amaretto. Be it almond or hazelnut, this soup is quintessentially Yuletide.

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic in oil
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 rib celery, sliced
1(24-ounce)can or jar chestnuts, drained
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup creme fraiche
Frangelico or Amaretto

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic, carrots, celery and chestnuts. Cook, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, or until vegetables are starting to brown. Add broth and apple juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until vegetables and chestnuts are completely tender. In batches, puree in a blender or food processor until as smooth as possible. Strain into another saucepan and stir in creme fraiche. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into shot glassses and drizzle Frangelico or Amaretto into each glass. Serve immediately.




Thursday, November 12, 2015

Holiday(Anyday)Sweet Flavored Butters

These butters are great for toast, bagels or muffins and are equally at home melted over pancakes or waffles. Many chefs will tell you to use unsalted real butter for flavored butters, but that's foolish! I rather enjoy the slight salty with the sweet and I think you will as well. Listed from top to bottom, enjoy any of these sweet spreads anytime.

Salted Caramel Butter
This is where the salty nature of plain butter or margarine is perfect with caramel.

5 caramel candies
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
1 stick(1/2 cup) butter or margarine, room temperature

Unwrap caramels and place in a bowl with maple syrup. Cover and microwave for 20-30 seconds, or until caramel is melted and it is slightly foaming. Be careful when removing the cover to stir, it will be extremely hot. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes, or until room temperature. Place in refrigerator if desired to hasten cooling. Beat butter with caramel mixture until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.


Pecan Fig Butter

This is a slightly tricky recipe, Not for the preparation, but because of the type of fig you can use. If using dried figs, pour boiling water over them and let sit for about 30 minutes to soften. Drain well, pushing out the liquid from each fig before continuing with recipe. If using fresh figs, follow the recipe below, but be forewarned. You will not use an entire fig for this recipe, So I guess you will just have to eat the remainder of the unused, sweet, delicious fig. You can also purchase jarred or canned figs as well. Simply squeeze the daylights out of them before continuing with recipe. Raisins can be successfully substituted here as well. Simply treat as dried figs.

1 fresh fig
1 stick(1/2 cup) butter or margarine, room temperature
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon chopped pecans

It is as easy as removing the stem, and peeling fig if desired before mashing with a sturdy fork and adding to a bowl with remainder of ingredients. Beat until as creamy as possible. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

Apple Cinnamon Butter
What on earth could I possibly say about this butter that the title doesn't already? My favorite butter for everything from muffins to pork chops.

1 stick(1/2 cup) butter or margarine, room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup apple jelly, whisked smooth
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a bowl and beat until as creamy as possible. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.


Maple Cranberry Butter

Think you've had cranberry butter before? Wait till you try this one!

1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup apple juice or cider, boiling
1 stick(1/2 cup) butter or margarine, room temperature
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pour boiling juice over cranberries and let soak for at least 30 minutes. Drain well, squeezing cranberries to remove as much liquid as possible. Place in a bowl with remainder of ingredients and beat until smooth and creamy. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.


Orange-Lemon Butter
Sunshine in the morning! Besides coffee,(and percolated coffee at that)the fresh taste of fruit first thing always brings a smile to my face.

1 stick(1/2 cup) butter or margarine, room temperature
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Place everything in a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

Merry Berry Butter
And here is a present from me to you. Such a simple butter and one I didn't think of until after I took the picture. This way you won't be looking for that elusive 6th spoon in the image. I dare say there is not one type of jam, preserves or all-fruit that you can't use with this recipe. Just choose and mix!

1 stick(1/2 cup) butter or margarine, room temperature
3 tablespoons berry preserves
1 teaspoon vanilla, almond, rum or mint extract

Place everything in a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Continuing with the Early New England Settlers, 1600-1700: Brimblecome to Brookes/Brooks


John, was at Boston, Mass. in 1654 and then removed to Marblehead, Mass. pre-1674
Phillip was a brother of John and was at Marblehead in 1668.


Robert was found to have married at Lynn, Mass. in 1667.

John lived in Charlestown, Mass. in 1637 and moved to Stratford, Conn. by 1650.
William was at Dorchester, Mass. between 1628-1630.


Francis was a son of Thomas of Datchett, Buckinghamshire, England and was born in 1632. He is found in Newport, R.I. by 1652.


Thomas was a resident of Boston pre-1655.


Benjamin was a shoemaker at Boston, and married, in 1656.
Nathaniel was known far and wide as the "Rich Tanner" and was a descendant of Edward Bisco of Missenden, Buckinghamshire, England, who had died in 1653. Nathaniel was the 4th generation of Edward, of Little Missenden, England. Nathaniel came to Watertown, Mass. by 1639. He went back to England in 1654, leaving two sons and two daughters. The sons names were Nathaniel and John.
William was found at Boston in 1640.


Henry was at New Haven, Conn. in 1647.
Richard was the brother of the preceding and was at Guilford, Conn. in 1640.


James was born in England in 1610, and is found in Woburn, Mass. by 1637.
William came from Bristol, England to Newport, R.I.. His true surname was Summerill, but chose his mothers maiden name before comeng to New England.


Richard was at Casco, Maine in 1680.


Henry was at Dedham, Mass. by 1642 but left no issue
Richard was at Watertown, Mass. in 1635.
William was living in Salem, Mass. by 1639.

1600s Winter scene in New England


John was at New Haven, Conn. where he signed the first covenant in 1639.


John was at Rowley, Mass. pre-1655.


Woolstone bought land in Saybrook, Conn. in 1659.


Joshua was married in Woburn, Mass. in 1685.


Edward was the son of Henry and grandson of Arthur. He was born at the Haywood House in the New Forest, Hants, England in 1649 and came to Boston, Mass. by 1675.


Luke was living in Stonington, Conn. pre-1692.


Robert was at Boston by 1690, but very likely in New England in 1667.


John was at Hartfod, Conn. in 1636 and removed to Farmington, Conn. by 1641. He then settled at Waterbury, Conn.
Richard was the brother of the preceding and lived at Farmington, Conn. in 1641.

This is an engraving of the whipping of Obadiah Holmes(1610-1682). He was a Baptist minister at Newport, R.I. for 30 years but was punished for his beliefs while in Boston.


John was at Guilford, Conn. in 1695.


John was a resident of Boston by 1658.
William came on the ship Mason in 1631, first to Portsmouth, N.H. then to Charleston, Mass.


Ebenezer at at Woburn, Mass. pre-1688.
Gilbert was born in 1621 at England and came over to New England at the age of 14 years with William Vassall. He lived at Marshfield, Mass before removing to Scituate, Mass. in 1645.
Henry was at Boston in 1630, then to Concord, Mass, by 1639. He then removed to Woburn, Mass. by 1649.
Henry was at Wallingford, Conn. in 1660 before removing to New Haven, Conn, in 1670.
John, borther of Henry, was at New Haven, Conn. in 1649, then to Wallingford, Conn. with his brother in 1685.
John lived in Windsor, Conn. where he married in 1652, then went to Simsbury, Conn.
Richard was born in 1621 and was at Lynn, Mass. by 1635 before removing to Easthampton, L.I..
Richard was at Boston in 1674.
Robert came to New London, Conn. by 1635.
Robert was married at Plymouth, Mass to a daughter of Gov. Edward Winslow.
Capt. Thomas was born in 1613 at Suffolk, England and was given land at Watertown, Mass. in 1631 before removing to Concord, Mass. in 1636.
Thomas, brother of Richard, came to New England in 1635 and was one of the first settlers of Haddam, Conn..
Thomas was at Kittery, Maine in 1640.
Thomas was at Portsmouth, R.I. in 1655.
Timothy was at Billerica, Mass. in 1679.
William was the brother of Gilbert and was at Boston in 1635. He then went to Scituate, Mass., then to Marshfield, Mass. by 1643.
William was at Boston in 1635, then to Springfield, Mass. in 1649 before removing to Deerfield, Mass. in 1686.
William was one of the first settlers of Milford, Conn and died there in 1684.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Where's The Beef?

I remember having mincemeat so often during the Holiday season that I expect it every year now. Many of you will consider mincemeat an acquired taste, much like our beloved Moxie beverage here in Maine, while many of you will simply overlook this pie. Is it because of the word meat in the title? Maybe because there is no strong, and universal, agreement on exactly how to make mincemeat. It very well could be that suet is known to be a key ingredient in this pie filler since time immemorial. I lean toward that notion, which is a shame. Great mincemeat, that closely rivals the classic presentation, can be made without suet and meat.....and without butter that so many upscale celebrity chefs abide by.

Let me give you a quick rundown of mincemeat and then offer two recipes that will have you trying it either for the first time or all over again.

I could write and write about the origins of mincemeat and bore you to death as I explain this, because the true preparation of mincemeat goes back even further than any food historian would care to research, and it all began with a way of either preserving meat or using the lowly parts of the animal in some fashion.

I will skip to New England, where minced pies, or "coffyns", have been baked in a fire since we first set foot on this soil. I dare say that not many of us would care to relive the original recipe for mincemeat because it was more far savory than sweet. When you take suet, which is the fat of beef or mutton from around the kidneys, and stew it for hours on end until it completely melts, and throw in whatever ground, leftover meat you may have and add just enough fruit to taste, I don't believe many would enjoy this fat-laden dish.

Harpers Weekly, 1876
I will say, however, that the rich taste was broken up extremely well with ground cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. These three spices, having been an integral part of mincemeat since the Crusaders, have kept their place in this dish because of their moral relationship with the three magi, hence the origin of Christmas. Mace was frequently added along with these three spices as well, it being a very popular spice for many generations, but sadly ill used today.

Here is a recipe from The Frugal Housewife, 1772:

"To Make Minced Meat Pie: Shred a pound of neats tongue parboiled, with two pounds of beef suet, five pippins, and a green lemon peel. Season it with an ounce of spice, a little salt, a pound of sugar, two pounds of currents, half a pint of sack, a little orange-flower water, the juice of three or four lemons, a quarter of a pound of citron, lemon and orange peel. Mix these together and fill the pies."

An age-old beloved custom is to always stir mincemeat, while cooking, in a clockwise direction. While is was slowly cooking in a large kettle over the fire, many households only allowed you to stir it just one time, allowing others to follow suit. Then when it was your turn again, you would give it another clockwise whirl.


My favorite painting. Shows such a devotion to what you have, as opposed to what you don't have.

It wasn't until well into the 19th century that homes were starting to exclude meat in mincemeat, but the suet stayed.

From a personal standpoint, I adore mincemeat in any form, but as time and knowledge of health issues increase, so does my attitude about this Holiday staple. As with fruitcake, I would love to get more people to enjoy something so honored and traditional as mincemeat. And I truly believe I accomplished this quest.

I would like to say just a quick word though. I am going to get email after email, I am afraid, because so many well known chefs are going to tell me that if I don't add suet to mincemeat, I MUST use butter. My answer is quite simple. WRONG!

Butter adds absolutely nothing, and I mean NOTHING, to mincemeat. They will tell me that it adds smoothness and richness. REALLY!?!? Let me laugh just for a second then I will continue.

First, we are talking about mincemeat here people. Mincemeat, no matter what you do, will never be smooth in texture or flavor. It is inherently salty/sweet and the last thing I want is a coating of fat on my tongue, traveling down my throat, only to end up in clumps in my arteries.

Secondly, meat in mincemeat. Although I love venison, mutton or whatever type of ground or chopped meat you may desire to add to this dish, I do prefer the overall sweetness of mincemeat as prepared below because it is, after all, a dessert.

You will notice the absence of sugar, be it granulated or brown. I don't believe I have ever found a recipe that didn't have added sugar in a mincemeat. You simply don't need it. The sweetness of all the fruit is plentiful, almost too much actually. That is why I often use Asian Pears instead of, even, tart apples, because they are less sweet.

As for the molasses. That is a true Yankee addition and has been since the 17th century in most households in rural parts of New England, where sugar was too expense to use.

For substitutions and notes, please refer to the end of the recipe.

Perfect Mincemeat

I can hear it now. "This is NOT mincemeat!" But you will be in for one heck of a surprise. Especially when the smell of this recipe starts drifting in every room of the house. If you closed your eyes, you could swear you were transported in our ancestors kitchen. If you have any children that have never had mincemeat, give this a shot.

When it has cooled sufficiently, simply place the recipe below in a pie shell, and top with another pie crust on top. Vent and bake for 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Remove to cool completely before serving. This mincemeat recipe can be used in any cookie, tart or Holiday recipe that requires mincemeat.

1 1/2 cups orange juice
1 cup orange marmalade
1 cup raisins or golden raisins
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup diced, dried apricots
2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, Suncrisp, Delicious or Braeburn
3 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each salt, nutmeg and ginger
2 teaspoons rum extract

In a large saucepan, whisk orange juice and marmalade. Peel, core and chop apples and add to juice mixture along with remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring well. Reduce temperature to low and simmer 30 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir, while helping to break up ingredients, often while simmering.

Remove from heat, transfer to bowl, stir in rum extract and cover to refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using.

Makes about 3-3 1/2 cups

Many purists will be having a field day when they see I am using orange juice instead of apple cider or apple juice in this recipe. There is no more of a purist when it comes to New England recipes, and keeping them alive, more so than I am. However, I simply had to add orange juice. Why? Because you must have something to offset the entire sweetness of this mincemeat. Using apple cider on top of apples was just too much of a good thing. But helping to break up the dominant flavor of apple, and add something that you will taste on the sides of your tongue, orange juice and marmalade gave that perfect tang, as did the cranberries.

Now speaking of the apples, when I began Yanking this recipe, the best mincemeat I ever tasted, I substituted the apples for........Asian Pears. Almost blasphemy, I know, but I have never tasted a better mincemeat. So why did I not say that in the original recipe? Well, tart apples were a great alternative, plus I abhor angry emails.

I will also relate that a superb substitute for the apricots would be prunes, citron, dates or figs. I chose apricots because they were much less sweet than the other ingredients listed above and helped to add more depth in flavor.

About the rum extract. It just wouldn't be true New England mincemeat without the addition of rum flavor. If desired, replace a quarter cup of the orange juice with a good, dark rum. For those of you who do not want to purchase rum extract, only to have the rest of the bottle sit in your cupboard till next year, use vanilla or almond extract.

Now about that second Mincemeat recipe that I alluded to earlier. For those of you who want meat in their mincemeat, here is a perfect substitution for meat. Bacon!!!

Simply cook and crumble 3-5 slices bacon and add it to saucepan when you begin to simmer. It helps to break up the sweetness, adds great flavor but also gives you the fat you may desire. If not, add a half pound of ground venison that has been cooked and drained well to all the other ingredients before simmering.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Whoopie Pies versus Gobs

You don't know how many times I have been asked to settle this, seemingly, unsolvable riddle. The riddle of who on earth was the first to make Whoopie Pies.....or Gobs. Even though New England is nationally known to be synonymous with Whoopie Pies, Pennsylvania has jsut as many followers and believers.

Let's discount, first, that Boston Whoopie Pies are in the running. Some have speculated that because of a particular type of this "Whoopie Pie-like", hand-held treat resembles a Whoopie Pie (but has a custard filling and melted chocolate drizzled over it) it is somehow the progenitor. This is dispelled and should receive no more attention from me.

Another idea that has been in the running is that the Whoopie Pie was originally invented by the same people who brought Marshmallow Fluff to our New England children's diet. Durkee-Mower, owners of Marshmallow Fluff even denies this assertion and goes on to say that they didnt even print a recipe for Whoopie Pies until the 70s. It is said that as early as 1920, fluff was sandwiched between 2 layers of chocolate cake and given out to publicize "fluffernutter". This is entirely without merit and will, also, be discounted in this conversation.

Even Pennsylvania foodlore expert William Weaver states that Whoopie Pies originated not from Maine OR Pennsylvania, but was actually invented in the 1800s as Wienerkrapgens.
As much as I hate to disparage a fellow food historian, and William is a learned man, he is mistaken. The biggest reason is because wienerkrapgens(or wiener krapgens) are almost a perfect replica of a filled doughnut, and it is classically deep fried. These Viennese pastries have always been cooked in oil and bear absolutely no resemblance to even the earliest Whoopie Pies.

Also written, and attested to, is that Whoopie Pies were an invention of the Berwick Cake Company and they were being mass produced  and sold as early as 1926. Even Nancy Griffin, author of Making Whoopies; The Official Whoopie Pie Book indicated that the Berwick Company of Roxbury, Massachusetts were the first to make Whoopie Pies. Although I admire my friend, she is ill-adviced......okay, not correct.

This assertion is undocumented and the bakery closed its doors in 1977 without ever officially declaring themselves the first purveyor of Whoopie Pies. It is not to say they didnt make them though. It is known that in 1931, they did make "Whoopee" Pies. Notice the spelling, which is an important link to the origin of the name, which I will mention shortly.

That leaves us with only 2 claimants, Maine and the Pennsylvania Dutch. I have a personal attachment to Maine(obviously) but also a profound and respectable attachment to the Amish of Pennsylvania. They are much like us here in New England and I have always adored their cooking, food and sense of family.

Let's get one thing clear before diving into the origin of Whoopie Pies. Why the word "pie" in something that obviously is NOT a pie? Could it be because they were named after  Moon Pies? Many have speculated, also, that Moon Pies, and their creators, should get top billing in the dilemma. Foolishness!

The Maine Story

Just because the Whoopie Pie is officially the Maine State "treat", that does not bolster our claim to be the originator. So with that said, lets move on.

It is thought that Labadie's Bakery of Lewiston, Maine were the originators of Whoopie Pies. Some estimates put the year at 1925 at the opening of Labadie's. It is also known that all original records were destroyed in a fire in the late 1960s. So, again, we are left to speculation, but the Labadie's Bakery does pronounce themselves as the originators of the Whoopie Pie.

The Pennsylvania Story

Preface: I can't believe that the term Gobs is now trademarked! It is like someone trademarking the words Whoopie Pies. To me, there is only one reason for trademarking the word Gobs.  Dutch Maid Bakery, of Johnstown, PA bought the patent rights, thusly the name, from the now defunct Harris-Boyer Bakery. In all fairness, I will say that the owner of the term Gob has not sued anyone and for that, I am appreciative. But it just doesn't sit well with me for a variety of moral reasons. I just don't believe anyone should 'own' such a special, and generational, treat. Again, kudos to Tim Yost(owner of the name)for allowing people to continue using the word Gobs. 

It has been handed down orally(much the same as Maine)that Amish women have been baking Gobs since the early 1920s and putting them in lunch boxes of farmers. When the farmer opened up their boxes, they quickly exclaimed "Whoopee!!" (the correct spelling of that exclamation), so the story goes.

Also another handed down item is that these filled cakes were originally called "hucklebucks" and "creamy turtles", although this author can find no mention of either as being the same as Gobs or Whoopie Pies.

It is proclaimed that the PA Dutch originally made Whoopie Pies with leftover cake batter and cooked on pie tins. We will get to the subject of that shortly.

Now to distinguish Whoopie Pies from Gobs, let me add that mostly in Western PA are these pies referred to as Gobs. But many insist that Gobs were either first made in the western area of PA or that Whoopie Pies were first made somewhere in the remainder of the state of Pennsylvania. Either way, they allude, Pennsylvania is the true originator.

Susan Kalcik, an archivist and folklorist with the Southwestern PA Heritage Preservation Commission in Johnstown, PA says emphatically that:

"Men went into the coal mines or steel mills and the little cake with the icing on the inside instead of on the outside served their purpose. I’m convinced that the name Gob is related to the coal mines. Lumps of coal refuse were called gob piles. These working people adapted the name to the dessert."
Candied Yam Gobs

Susan also says that Whoopie Pies can be traced back to medieval Germany when they were making a cake-like pasty with a filling. She is probably referring to what I have dispelled already, the wienerkrapgens.

 Well, now I am busting out of the seams to dispel these observations!

Sometimes a historian or researcher WANTS to dig deeper than everyone else or doesn't think their research query has a simple answer. I have often found myself in the very same spot. But more often than not, the answers are right in front of you. Something my father(the second Yankee Chef) always drilled into my head.

This hold true with the names Whoopie and Pie and Gob.

Now I know many dozens of you say that Whoopie Pies were named after Eddie Cantor when he was in Boston in 1927 doing the musical "Makin' Whoopee".

It is said that he tossed mini Whoopie Pies to the audience as a publicity stunt while singing that song. I find absolutely not one reference of this happening.....period! Not one newspaper article, story or recording substantiating this.

I must confess that I do beleive that the name Whoopie was uttered for this first time with regards to this treat as an expression of joy because at this time(and before and after)the term and spelling of Whoopee is used universally as an outburst of joy. It makes not only plausible sense, but logical as well. Be it by the adult farmers or I prefer to think it was the children who originated the word as it relates to the pies. The parents just running with it. If this was the case, however, it had to have been made many years before the actual treat was commercially made for sale. The name Whoopie Pie would have been very popular, or the bakery would not have made them for sale. This only makes marketing and monetary sense.

The word Pie. Why Pie? Well it sure wasn't because they were made in pie tins, which makes zero sense as a kitchen professional, chef and historian to boot. Thinking simply and logically, if I had leftover cake batter, the last pan I would bake little round cakes would be a pie tin. I would immediately grab a square baking sheet.

If you argue, "But it had to have been a pie tin because Whoopie Pies and Gobs are round!" My answer, "If you had enough leftover cake batter from making a cake to put in a pie tin, you have enough to put in a cake pan!". And thereby you would have a cake, not a Whoopie Pie! And remember, if someone was making a cake, they would have had frosting or icing on hand as well top fill these mini discs of cooked batter.

The word pie is easily explained as a direct link to our colonial past. Pies were always made with very VERY thick crusts. These thick crusts were made in order to hold the contents in without it spilling out and burning. Over time, the crusts became thinner and even hand-held pies were being made in many households, both in New England and Pennsylvania. I believe that Whoopie Pies were intentionally made AND named as such because of their resemblance to pies of old. Heck, even as late as the last quarter of the 19th century, pie crusts were thick and soft.

Now many will argue that the name pie was also used because most cooks used pie tins instead of cake tins. This assumption is false however. Certainly colonial era 'pans' used for making pies and cakes resembled our pie tins of today with very long handles or they resembled shallow Dutch ovens and spider pans, but that was many generations previous to the introduction of Whoopie Pies.

Maine Needham Gobs
Now the word Gob, which means(even according to a dictionary printed in 1920)a lump, small pile or mass. So a thick cake batter dropped onto a baking pan in 3 or 4 small dollops and baked would have obviously been referred to as "gobs" of batter, and certainly NOT gobs of coal!

I also believe that Gobs would have been higher and more dense than how we enjoy Whoopie Pies today. If I were to put myself in the shoes of someone making these 100 years ago, I would have added more flour to the batter before scooping little circles of leftover batter onto a cooking pan. Otherwise they would have spread out too much. So by adding more flour, you would have a higher, more dense cake to fill with frosting.*

So bottom line. I do believe that the treat that the basic concept of our Whoopie Pie was first made by...............the Amish. Sorry Mainers. I would have loved to have given Maine credit, but logic dictates otherwise. However, that is not to say that this Amish-made Whoopie Pie, in its entirety and prepared as we know them today, was first made by the Amish.

It wasn't until at least 1917 in Somerville, Massachusetts that Marshmallow Fluff was "invented". And as well all know, a Whoopie Pie is NOT a Whoopie Pie without fluff. And if anyone thinks that Pennsylvania was the first to make filling using fluff ahead of either Massachusetts or Maine, they would be mistaken. Geography in itself would dictate otherwise.

The Amish may have put together the first Gobs, or Whoopie Pies, but they would have used whatever frosting they were making at the time. Because they were in the process of making a cake anyway. Boiled icing would have been used, or maybe, JUST MAYBE, some type of buttercream frosting, but certainly not filling with fluff.

So I am sorry for all the confusion, but when nothing is available to bolster a claim, one needs to return to logic, common sense and the preponderance of the evidence, which is what I did. And because of this, my opinion needed to be explained as thoroughly as possible.

*Please see my recipes for Gobs at the


Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Gentle Giant

I am obliged to Christine Gilbert for these photos

There were few men in fact and fiction that could quite hold a stick to Maine's own Barnabus Coffin Beal. The only difference is that he was truly a living man, with the strength and only legends allude to.

A fisherman, lobsterman and a man who scooped up clams and oysters in order to sell and provide for his huge family. Born in 1836, he grew to become known as Tall Barney, with the strenght of an bear with the gentleness of a cub. One exploit set his name in the annals of history when he stopped in Rockland while out fishing one day. While on land, he was involved in an agument wheter any man present could lift a 1200-ound anchor laying on the dock. The men standing there tried but miserbaley failed. Someone asked Tall Barney to give it a try. Because he was never one to boast, he politely declined. Until, that is, someone bet him five dollars. It didn't take Barney long to realize that five dollars would go along way to feeding his brood back home in Jonesport, Maine.

The behemoth of a man walked over, bent over and lifted this anchor clean off the dock. Turing to his bettor, he was slightly taken aback when hewasn't paid. Never being a man with anger in his body, Barney bent back over again, raised that same anchor, walked to the edge of the wharf adn dropped it right through the bottom of the boat belonging to the man who had refused to pay.

'Tall Barney's' wife, Phoebe

His feats of strength were legendary in life, and the cause of his death. When out fishing , he would often haul his large dory up on the beach when through for the day, draggin it by the tow rope(or painter) all the way out of the water. One day in 1899, at the age of 63 years, he was dragging his boat out of the water at Pond island, Maine after a day of fishing. As he was almost clear of the water, and still a number of feet to go, he broke a blood vessel in his heart and died instantly.

You can read bout him in a poem by Alice Frost Lord, entitled "The Ballad of Tall Barney", publised in 1938 in the Lewiston, Maine Journal. I have only touched upon what is written about this gently giant and I urge you to read more of him.


Italian-Yankee Corn Cake

This perfectly sweetened cake creates its own type of crust around the edges that crisp up as it cools, transforming it into a toss between a cake and a pie actually. It is recommended to slice it into segments before refrigerating, otherwise the caramelized crust will be next to impossible to cut. Classical Italian Corn Cake uses almond extract, but vanilla works equally as well if desired.

Nonstick cooking spray
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 cups small dice apple
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
Juice from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries


Grease a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Mix next 4 ingredients together until thoroughly combined; set aside. In a bowl, combine diced apple, orange juice and cinnamon; set aside. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. In a medium-sized bowl, blend cornmeal, coconut flour, sugar and baking powder until well blended. Stir in the milk, egg, lemon juice and melted butter. It should be mixed just enough to wet all ingredients, leaving it somewhat lumpy. Fold in the raisins and transfer to prepared pan, leveling out the top. Evenly divide apple mixture, juice and all, on top of batter. Sprinkle topping mixture evenly over the apples and bake 36-38 minutes, or until the center of the cake is firm. Immediately remove from oven to cool slightly before serving hot, or cover and refrigerate to serve cold.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Premiering National Fall Foliage Week

Welcome to the first, official year of National Fall Foliage Week, which will be held every year on the last Sunday of each September, and lasting a week. I didn't create this Holiday for marketing purposes or even to sell anything. The sole premise behind this observation is to get families together and enjoy nature at its' most beautiful.

Dedicating not only a time in September when families came together for the harvest of the winter crop, but starting on the allocated day of rest, frolic and beauty that was, and is, Sunday. Even during the 17th and 18th centuries, the people of New England put down their items of labor, went to church and spent the remainder of Sundays in repose. Those sunset tinged leaves that blanket the country side are the perfect setting for family chatter as you trapse through the countryside or simply down any tree-lined street. It was a time to relax and find out about your sons or daughters love interests or the gossip spreading through town.

You can smell the cleansing of the air as the atmosphere briskly changes from a sweater to a coat. But above all, the autumnal colors reinvigorated family togetherness, much as it does today. Keeping this splendid time of year alive through a National Holiday/Observance means keeping our past alive and our families together. It is a day when we should all take a walk among those crimson and gold leaves, above us and below, smile and talk to your kids, loved ones or simply to rid yourself of stress. Better yet, gather the family and go apple picking. This is the perfect time of year for some freshly picked apples for baking, canning("putting up" as we say here in New England)or simply eating.

As every generation goes by, we find ourselves with less and less time to do these amazingly simple things. So maybe, just maybe, a little "kick in the pants"(much like my Dad humorously did to me as we walked in the colorful woods if I slowed my pace down)is what we need in order to observe what is truly important in our lives. Beauty, nature and family.

So take at least one day out of this week to take a walk on that path you trod as a child or under the vivid hues of the leafy umbrella that once beckoned our ancestors time of harvest. But don't forget to put that roast in the oven, along with a pie or two in order to keep that amazing, comforting feeling with you as long as possible.