Sunday, August 31, 2014

Boothbay.....All The Way!




I just spent the best two days of judging since I began my food competition circuit years ago. I have judged New England chowders all over the United States including New York believe it or not, and I must say that Mainah's just have a way with chowder. Not to give a back seat to the chili recipes I also judged, but there is just something ingrained in a Yankee that plain loves milk-based chowder. And in Boothbay Harbor, those fishermen and fishermen's wives certainly know how to reel us in. In all fairness however(and a little "truth be told") many other people that aren't "of the sea" or in the restaurant industry whipped up their own version of chili and chowder that truly tempted me to take more than a taste. But from experience and many upset stomachs later, I have learned to curtail my ingestion of creamy chowder and spicy chili so that I can get through each and every entrant.


And that brings me to the entrants. I have never felt so welcomed anywhere than I did in this Downeast area of Maine. Although the old adage holds true that there will always be a bad apple in the lot, I constantly was on the lookout for that one sourpuss who wasn't a people person or simply didn't want to put on a smile. Heck, I even prompted someone to grimace in my own, dry Yankee style, but nobody would have any of it. Regardless of my "pushing their buttons" at times, I walked away with both happiness and "I'll get the next one" attitude. Every single shop owner, restaurant chef, retail clerk and even the tourists, seemed happy to be where they were and rubbing elbows with everyone that crammed into their shops and accidentally bumped into them.

Not only did I have to judge food, but I was also a judge for the displays that many businesses set up in front of their shops. From adolescnet girls in lobster costumes to all out decorations that involved a 20 gallon martini glass, it was all just such a great way to spend a sun-filled weekend on the coast.

But my main object of participation was to taste the chowders and chili's. And staying on track was very difficult. The restaurants, individuals and businesses that contributed to my tasting frenzy and set up beautiful displays included:

(Go ahead, safely click on each of these places to take you to their website or FB page. Beautiful places)




Mine Oyster







McSeagulls

Smiling Cow

Jansons Clothing

Coastal Maine Popcorn Company

Silver Lining

Sadie Greenes

Andrew's Harborside Restaurant

Capers

Harbor Optical

2 Salty Dogs

Casual Interiors

Abacus

Gold/Smith Gallery

Calypso

Coco Vivo

Boothbay Region Greenhouse

Whales Tale

Rocktide Inn

Robinson's Wharf



                                                                                   Watershed Tavern













                                                         
Fisherman's Wharf Inn and Restaurant





Kalers


I cannot tell you the winner until it is announced next weekend but I will tell you that the winner of the chowder challange is a chowder that I have never had the equal of. I have tasted chowder all over the United States and have judged some chowders from the finest, upscale restaurants in this country, but it was this one recipe in a little town in Maine that won my palate becaue of the one ingredient that many chowder makers never put in anymore. Along with that ingredient, the consistency was perfect for the classic preparation of this New England....well, classic chowder.

The best chili was one of the best I have eaten as well. With that hint of spice that stuck around just long enough to let you know it was there, but not altering the flavor and heat of the next bite.

Please come back next weekend to see who the winner is for best chowder, chili and decoration. Not only will I give you the winners, but my thoughts for those that didn't place. I know, I know. Us Mainah's are never good at taking constructive criticism, but if these folks accept what I have to say with the same gracious and dignified way they treated me while I was down there, maybe that sour, dry, stubborn and unforgiving attitude that Yankee's are known for just may be on the way out.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sufferin' Succotash

Ever give it much thought when Sylvester blurted out that phrase whenever he didn't get his way?

There has been so much written about Succotash and, as in genealogy, there is a lot of half truths. While many "authorities" say that Succotash comes from the Algonquin misckquatash, I don't believe that to be the case. See my article on corn at theyankeechef.com.

In the meantime, Succotash is a great, original American Indian dish that our fore-families have enjoyed for centuries. This dish is made mostly during the Holiday times of year, which is not understood by me. It was eaten at all times of the year, whether it was when the corn was ripe to eat or in the middle of winter when they had to use their dried corn and beans.

Although fava and lima beans were the original beans used for this dish, I have substituted Great Northern, only because my kids won't touch either one of the other two. Clabbard, or Clapboard, beans were used during the 18th and 19th centuries more often than not as well.

I have also used a variety of vegetables in this Yankee staple too, but have omitted any protein, although the Indians and colonists used whatever meat or fish they had on hand. Succotash is great by itself as a side dish or as a base for meat or fish. It is as tasty as it is colorful.

Enjoy these three recipes that highlight our heritage and simplicity as well as being the original colony of comfort foods, the New England colony.




Creamy New England Succotash

Without going into a long spiel about the beginnings of Succotash and variations over the years, I will simply tell you this is probably as good of a true Yankee dish as you are going to enjoy. True Succotash used chicken, pork or whatever protein the family had and cooked it with beans, corn and onion. They would then add some milk to the pot and let it get a little thick before serving it to their family. I have added some more vegetables but have kept the true recipe intact. I think you will enjoy this trip back in time, with a modern approach.

3 strips bacon, diced
1 small summer squash, diced*
1 small zucchini, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, minced
1/4 cup minced onion
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups whole kernel corn
1 cup cooked navy beans
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet or pot, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Leaving the bacon and fat in the pan, add the squash, zucchini, bell pepper and onion. Stirring occasionally, cook until vegetables are crisp tender. In a bowl, whisk together the milk and sour cream until well incorporated; set aside.

Add the corn, beans and milk mixture and salt and pepper to taste. continue cooking, stirring occasionally still, until everything is heated through and most of the liquid has been absorbed, another 5-7 minutes.

*or use zucchini or a combination of each




Cheesy Succotash Grill

Want a great and filling grilled cheese sandwich that is truly filling? Here it is, and using Succotash ingredients gives you the satisfaction of protein without the fat. As you know, Succotash has been around for centuries here in New England and many moons before us Europeans coming over. This is, yet again, one of the true, great food gifts bestowed upon us from the Native Americans.

2 small pita breads

Pumpkin Mayonnaise, recipe below
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup shredded Pepperjack cheese
1 cup whole kernel corn
1/2 small diced tomato
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup cooked great northern beans*
1/2 cup diced, cooked chicken

 

With a sharp knife, insert it into the pita bread and cut around it to form two thin halves. Repeat with other pita. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons pumpkin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper; mix well; set aside. Spray the outer outer half of two pitas and place in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Spread some Pumpkin Mayonnaise and top with equal amounts of half the cheese, corn, tomato, onion, beans and chicken. Sprinkle remainder of the cheese over both and top with the other halves of the pita, with more Pumpkin Mayonnaise spread over each. Cook, flattening down with a spatula, until it is starting to crisp. Carefully flip over to finish crisping on the other side. Remove and enjoy.


*Lima, fava, kidney or cooked pinto beans would be equally delicious




Tempting Jagasse

Not many people know, or even heard, of Jagasse. In the early 1800s, fishermen along the Massachusetts coast were also farmers in their 'non-fishing' time. Of course their families had their fill of fish in meals and this dish gave them a subtle hint of the ocean while enjoying the bounty of the garden as well. They used whole fish in their Jagasse, but just the hint of the ocean is all that is needed in this delicious, original Yankee recipe derived from Succotash.

2 strips bacon, diced
1 cup fish broth or clam juice
1/2 small summer squash, diced*
1/2 small zucchini, diced
1 cup whole kernel corn
1/2 cup red bell pepper, minced
1/4 cup minced onion
1 cup cooked navy beans
2 cups cooked rice
1(15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper to taste

 

In a large pot, add the bacon and cook until crispy over medium heat. With the bacon and fat still in pot, add the fish broth. Boil for 3 minutes before adding the squash, zucchini, corn, red bell pepper and onion. Stirring occasionally, cook until the vegetables are just barely tender. Add beans, rice, tomato sauce, garlic and onion powders, red pepper and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and continue cooking until everything is heated through.

 

Enough for 4 side dishes
















 
 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Continuing with Early New England Settlers, 1600-1700






Besbedge, Besbitch or Beesbeech

Thomas came from Kent, England to Scituate, Mass, in 1635, then to Duxbury and finally to Sudbury, Mass..

 

Besse or Bessey

Anthony was at Lynn in 1635, then to Sandwich in 1637.

 

Best

John was a tailor who came from St. George, Canterbury, England in 1630.

Robert was at Sudbury pre-1635.

 

Betts

John, born 1594 and came to N.E. in 1634. Was at Cambridge and Lexington within a year or two

John, was at Charlestown, Mass. on 1678

Richard came from Hemel Hempstead, Hertsfordshire to Ipswich in 1648, then to Newtown, L.I. in 1656

Roger was at New Haven, Conn. in 1644, then to Branford, Conn. in 1646.

Samuel, brother of preceding, was at Branford, Conn. in 1679.

Thomas, born 1618 came in 1639. He was a founder of Guilfrod, Conn. in 1650 then went to Milford, Conn. in 1658, ending at Norwalk in 1664.

William, was at Barnstable in 1635 then to Scituate and Dorchester.

 

Betty

James was at Salem in 1661.

 

Bevans or Bevens

Arthur was at Glastonbury, Conn. in 1697 when he died.

Benjamin was at Farmington, Conn. pre-1688

Rowland, was at Boston pre-1660

 

Bewett, Buet or Buitt

George was at Sandwich, Mass. in 1643

Hugh was banished from Mass. because of his quakerism in 1640, settling in Providence, R.I..

 

Bibble

John, was at Boston in 1637 then to Malden, Mass. in 1644.

 

Bickmore

Thomas, came to New England in 1635

 

Bickness

John was at Weymouth pre-1651

Zachary was born in 1590 and brought his only son, John(aged 11) in 1635. He died in 1636 at Weymouth.

 

Bicknor or Bickner

Thomas was at Charlestown pre-1635

William was at Charrlestown in 1658 and died in 1659

 

Biddle

John was at Hartford in 1639

Joseph was at Marshfield, Mass. in 1636 but left no issue.

 

Bidfield, Bedfield or Betfield

Samuel was at Boston in 1641



Bidgood or Betgood

Boston was at Ipswich in 1642

 

Bidwell

Richard was at Windsor, Conn. and died there in 1647

 

Bigelow

John was the son of Randle Baguley of Wrentham, Suffolk and born in 1617. He came to Watertown, Mass. in 1642                                                                    A 1605 map drawn by Samuel Des Champlain

 

Biggs or Bigg

John came with Winthrop in 1630, then to Ipswich in 1635, then to Dorchester, Mass. and lastly to Exeter, N.H.

Timothy was at Boston in 1665

William was at Middletown, Conn. in 1681 when he died

 

Bill

John was the son of John and went to Boston in 1635

Thomas was at Boston in 1657

 

Billings

Nathaniel was at Concord, Mass. pre-1640

Richard was at Hartford, Conn. in 1640, then to Hadley in 1661

Roger was at Dorchester, Mass. in 1640

Samuel was at Newport, R.I. in 1658

William came to either Dorchester or Braintree, Mass. in 1640, then to Lancaster, Mass. in 1654, lastly to Stonington, Conn.

 

Billington

John, from the Mayflower, was hung for murder at Boston in 1630

Thomas was at Exeter, N.H. in 1650, then to Taunton in 1662 when he died.

 

Bills or Billes

Matthew was at Dover, N.H. in 1654

Robert was born in 1602 and went to Charlestown, Mass. in 1635

 

Bingham

Thomas(son of Henry) was born in 1642, came to New England with his mother and stepfather William Backus to Saybrook, Connn. in 1658. Went to New London in 1660 then to Norwich, Conn. and Windham by 1693

 

Bingley

Thomas was at Boston in 1665

William was at Newbury in 1659

 

Binney

John was at Hull, Mass. pre-1679

 

Binns

Jonas was at Dover, N.H. in 1648

 

Birch

Simon was at Mass. in 1635

Thomas was at Dorchester, Mass. in 1657

Thomas was at Swanzey, Mass in 1684

 

Birchard or Burchard

Thomas was at Dorchester in 1635, then to Hartford, Conn. and Saybrook in 1650



Bird

Jathiel was Ipswich in 1641

Simon was at Boston in 1635, then to Chelsea in 1644. Lastly to Billerica in 1655

Thomas was at Hartford, Conn. pre-1653

Thomas was at Scituate pre-1630

Thmoas was at Dorchester, Mass. in 1640

 

Birdley

Giles was at Ipswich in 1648

Tyler, brother or preceding, was at Ipswich in 1648 but his name may been Burley

 

Birdseye

John came to New Haven, Conn. in 1636

 

Birge

Richard was at Dorchester pre-1636 when he is found as one of the first settlers of Windsor, Conn.



Bisbee(see Besbedge)

Edward was at Beverly, Mass. in 1640

Henry was at New Haven, Conn. in 1644

Henry was at Ipswich pre-1657 when he is found at Boston.

James was at New Haven in 1648

James was at Duxbury, Mass. in 1679

John was at Newbury in 1647 then to Nantucket, Mass. and then Woodbridge, New Jersey

Rev. John was at Taunton in 1640 then to Stamford, Conn. in 1644

John was born in 1600 and was one of the first settlers of Guilford, Conn. in 1639

Nathaniel was at Ipswich in 1634 then to Boston in 1645

Richard was at Salem in 1635

Thomas, brother of Nathaniel, was at Ipswich in 1636

Townsend was at Salem in 1635

 

Biss

James was at Boston in 1668

 

Bissell

John was born in 1591 and came to Plymouth in 1628, then to East Windsor, Conn. in 1649

 

Bixby

Joseph was of Assington, England was was at Salisbury pre-1647. Then to Ipswich in 1649, ending at Rowley in 1667

Nathaniel was at Ipswich in 1636

Thomas was at Salem in 1636

 

Black

Daniel was at Boxford, Mass. in 1666

George was at Gloucester, Mass. pre-1658

John was at Charlestown in 1634

Miles was at Sandwich, Mass. in 1643

 

Blackburn

Walter arrived to New England in 1638 and was at Roxbury and Boston around 1640. He returned to England in 1641

 

Blackford

Nicholas was at Newport, R.I. in 1655

 

Blackleach
                                                                                                                An invite to settle New Jersey
Benjamin was at Cambridge pre-1650

John was at Salem in 1635 then to Boston and Hartford, Conn. and he died at Wethersfield, Conn. in 1683

Richard was born in 1655 and was at Stratford, Conn. in 1685

 

Blackley, Blakesley or Blakeslee

Samuel was at Hartford, Conn. in 1641, Branford, Conn. in 1645, Guilford, Conn. in 1650 then to New Haven, Conn. in 1655

Thomas came in 1635 and was at Boston until 1641 when he is found at Hartford, Conn., then to New Haven in 1655

Thomas came in 1635 and was at Hartford, Conn. in 1641, then to Branford, Conn. by 1645

 

Blackman or Blakeman

Rev. Adam was born at Staffordshire in 1598 and came in 1638. He was at Guilford, Conn. in 1640

John was born in 1625 and was at Dorchester, Mass. pre-1640

 

Blackmore

James was at Providence, R.I. in 1690

William came in 1665 and settled at Scituate

 

Blackwell

Jeremy came to New England when he was 18 in 1635

Michael (or Myles) was at Sandwich, Mass. in 1643

 

Blagge

Henry was at Braintree in 1643, then to Boston in 1653

 

Blaisdell

Henry was at Salisbury in 1657

Ralph was born in 1600 and was at York, Maine in 1637, then to Salisbury in 1640

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

MOTHER Knows Best

Mother of Vinegar that is. Let me 'splain!(Can't tell I was brought up in a certain era, can you?

Apple Cider Vinegar is simply a soured apple cider. Although any liquid that can ferment can be converted to vinegar, it is with pride that we New Englander's grew up with this, most popular, type.

Although most, if not all, definitions of vinegar state that the word vinegar means literally sour wine, this is not true. Sources say that 'vin' means wine and 'aigre', from Old French, means sour. Nope! Although 'vin' does equal wine, 'aigre' is Old French for sharp or biting. So it really isn't so much from sour wine, but from sharp wine. But regardless, it is the soured wine(or cider) that vinegar is derived.

Now this particular post will be a brief talk on true apple cider vinegar, the kind our forefathers and mothers made and used. Raw, unfiltered and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. The type with the Mother of Vinegar still visible. Although this slimy, floating mass is unappealing in many ways, it is the healthiest part of cider vinegar. This gelatinous film is remarkable in a number of ways:

Want to cut down on your salt intake?
Simply substitute apple cider vinegar for the salt found in many recipes. This works well for any cake, bread or meats. It lessens the sweetness in fruited and berried desserts as well.

Our ancestors took a portion of Mother of Vinegar from each batch and used it to speed up the process of the next batch of cider. Much the same as they took a little piece of bread dough from one days baking to begin the next days bread making. 


During the Civil War, Mother of Vinegar was used to dress and disinfect wounds.



Only found in unpasteurized vinegar, it is the most healthful part of cider vinegar. Used as an antiseptic for eons, is is known to help with ear aches, sunburns and when mixed with water, a great throat gargle.



Speaking of drinks(the best lead-in I can come up with), right up until the early 1900s, when mixed 1 part vinegar, 1 part molasses or sugar and 4 parts water, it was called a Haymakers Switchel. My grandfather and many before him, took this drink many times throughout haying season. And they didn't rely on the mechanical toys of today, I am talking about taking the scythe out in the hot summer sun and “swooshing” through their 'mowing lanes', cutting down the tall grass to dry for hay.



Want to clean your windows the old fashioned way and leave them just as streak free as that blue liquid? Put ½ and ½ vinegar and water and us newspapers.



And there is growing proof that apple cider vinegar is key in weight loss. Scientists have yet to determine exactly how it works but they say it works.





Some evidence newly out refers to making your own vinegar drink(such as the Haymakers Switchel above)and drinking a glass a day to help with type-2 diabetes or for those that are inherent it contracting it.



But first and foremost is the Mother of Vinegar. It truly and I urge everyone to at least check it out. You don't have to do anything with it as is, just shake the bottle up before using. Once you purchase and use, raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, you will never go back to distilled. The taste is phenomenal. No more expensive and much better for you.



It is also effective in killing 0-157 strain of E-coli. And if it that powerful, no wonder world wide attention has been focused on its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.



As for the life span. It will last 3-5 years if kept out of direct sunlight. Of course it will last much longer but the taste will diminish. “Then why does it have an expiration date on it?” you ask. Because that date only corresponds to the best quality of the vinegar.



Check out Bioscience, Biotechnilogy and Biochemisty, a well respected scientific journal in Japan. They have done extensive testing and experiments. Look them up and see for yourself.



It's Just that Simple!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Yanked™ Red Flannel Hash

Now don't you dare turn your nose up at this recipe or post. I realize the thought of Red Flannel Hash belongs during the colder months, when we are all enjoying(at least up here in the NE)boiled dinners but this one is different. After all, it is YANKED!

Classically, and rightfully, made, it is a chopped combination of leftover vegetables from a true New England boiled dinner with beets, onions, turnip, potatoes, carrots and corned beef. This recipe is a variation on the theme, hence the moniker YANKED.

I truly believe I have elevated this dish so that not only can the younger generation enjoy it, but it fits perfectly with any gathering, be it formal or otherwise. The preparation takes little time but the cooking is what takes the longest. One good thing about it though, you have plenty of time to mingle, read or have a drink while everything is cooking.

Red Flannel Hash has an amusing beginning. During the mid-19th century here in New England, a husband woke up to a plate of hot, grilled, chopped hash in front of him early in the morning before he was to leave for the woods. He was a lumberman and his name has faded into obscurity now but the legend lives on. His wife began pouring his coffee as he was digging in, when he looked up and asserted that his breakfast looked like his red flannel shirt he had donned for the day. It was at that point the name Red Flannel Hash began and has lived on ever since.

Another Yankee link to this recipe is the polenta itself. I often laugh when I see polenta served at fine dining restaurants around the world because we Yankees were the first on these shores to make this 'mush'. Yes, I said mush. Corn meal mush to be exact. We have been stirring yellow cornmeal into boiling water since the early 17th century and enjoying it with butter or a drizzle of cream on top. We also let the leftover cornmeal mush firm up overnight so that it could be sliced and fried the next morning. It was a lowly meal but easy to make and very VERY cheap, as it still is today. I wouldn't pay more than a buck for a serving of cornmeal mush now, if a restaurant served it,. But because the name has changed to Polenta, people pay a lot more simply because of the name change. Yup! I am even laughing as I write this post.

This recipe is my take on a classic Yankee dish, taking out the protein and giving it a whole new twist. By all means add some chopped ham in this recipe but I think you will find it more than satisfying without it.

Yanked™ Red Flannel Hash
This dish is not only fragrant but beautiful as well, a pink hue from the beets soaki9ng into all the vegetables.

½ pound carrots, halved lengthwise and crosswise
1 bell pepper, halved and seeded
1 onion, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rings
½ pound beets, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
Greens from beets
1 pound potatoes, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 ear of corn
Nonstick cooking spray
6-8 thick slices polenta*
3 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded or shaved

Marinade:
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper to taste


In a bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients together and set aside. Pull down husk on the corn, removing the hair. Soak for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat grill on medium heat. Spray the vegetables on all sides with nonstick cooking spray. Lay carrots, onion, beets, bell pepper and potatoes on the grill and close lid. Watching carefully, char both sides of all veggies just until you can see the marks, remembering that bell peppers take less time. No need to cook vegetables thoroughly, we are after the charred flavor.
Remove the vegetables  reduce grill heat to low. On a cutting surface. chop charred vegetables into roughly 1-inch cubes. Evenly divide into 4-5 large pieces of tin foil. Place the beet greens in a smaller piece of foil. Drizzle a couple tablespoons marinade into each and crimp well. Place back onto the grill,  along with polenta slices and corn on the cob. Close lid and cook 20-25 minutes, rotating corn frequently, or until the corn husk has darkened and the kernels are done. Take a peak, carefully, to make sure vegetables are done as well. You don't want them mushy, just cooked.

Remove all items from the grill, emptying the vegetable packets into a large bowl along with greens, stir to combine. Cut the stem end of the corn off and remove husk. With cut side down, slice off the kernels of corn onto a plate.
To serve, Place a couple slices of charred polenta slices on each plate, evenly divide vegetables over polenta,  followed by some of the grilled corn and shavings of Cheddar cheese.

* Simply buy a roll of premade polenta from the supermarket or spend far less by making it yourself. Put 3 cups water, chicken or vegetable broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add Salt, black pepper, Parmesan cheese or any seasoning you desire such as garlic powder, crushed thyme or other herbs. Slowly whisk in 1 cup cornmeal vigorously to prevent lumps from forming. Immediately remove from heat and pour into a plastic wrap-lined loaf pan. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or until firm and cooled.

 

 

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Yankee Chef versus..............


I am so proud of my accomplishments, both professionally and personally as of late. Professionally, I started in the restaurant business at the age of 14. It was in 1976 and my Dad, the second Yankee Chef, owned his 2d or 3d restaurant, I don't recall. Regardless, I did every menial task asked of me. I washed dishes mostly, but peeling potatoes, cleaning the dining room, sweeping the parking lot and scrubbing the toilets were on my list as well.

 I will never forget an old lady Dad hired by the name of Edie. She was the dishwasher and had to have been 70 if a day. Believe it or not, there is an art in washing dishes at a restaurant, especially in the days of single door electric dishwashers where you had to scoop the white soap powder onto the door and shut it.
She showed me how to soak certain types of baked-on messes and the easiest way of removing coffee stains from ANYTHING. She was  a peach and I will never forget how she showed me the proper way of peeling potatoes. I got so good that I could(and still can)peel a 50 pound bag of potatoes in 20 minutes.

Next were the dreadful deeds of making coleslaw, slicing meats and cheeses and the dreaded hand-cut French fries. This was in the day when Dad had us cut large cabbage heads in half, core them and slice them on the thinnest setting possible on the slicer. He often compared my slicing to his turning of the whetstone when he was a child.

 

My grandfather, the first Yankee Chef Samuel Bailey, would have my father sit at a whetstone(or foot peddled grindstone) and keep the stone turning while he sharpened his axe bit or scythe. Samuel told Dad that he would turn out to be a hard worker because he was always able to keep that whetstone moving at a constant rate for long periods of time. Of course, back then it Dad slowed down, the ol' bark of an old timer would scare the devil into ya' so that your feet kept 'a movin'.

At any rate, Dad told me the same thing his father has told him, I would grow up to be a hard worker because I never slacked on the slicer. It may have taken an hour to fill 4 bus buckets up with shaved cabbage but I never slowed down until it was done.

Eventually, I moved to the prized place in the kitchen, the line. I absorbed everything my father taught me. He was my idol, mentor and I still(to this day) don't think anyone could touch him with regards to his knowledge of the basics and speed of the plating. He grew up in the old tradition as well and I don't think I would ever change it.
Sure, there were times when I used to get so ugly at the fact that I had to go in after school almost every day to do dishes, cook, prep, clean or simply help in any way but it gave me a work ethic I would stand up against with any ANY chef out there.

There are local and celebrity chefs who think that because of their classically trained background, they rise above all others. Not so. not by a long shot.

I have worked at 'hole-in-the-walls' to fine dining, and in every single aspect of the restaurant. I am considered the fastest, yes...the FASTEST, line cook here in the Northeast and if there is one thing I can boast, I believe that is it. I not only am the fastest, but the most accomplished, the most well-versed and the most knowledgeable with regards to origins and history of New England food.....period!
Why can I boast? I have never been the one to boast. Heck, I abhor 'holier-than-thou' attitudes but I am that confident of my background in the restaurant business that I would pit my skills against anyone out there.
Let me back up just a bit. Morimoto is the exception. He truly is a master, along with several others, but I feel comfortable that I could execute well above any local chef and any celebrity chef.
You know, there have been times that I have had to hold my tongue. I have received comments from chefs that weren't very nice. My Dad would always tell me to walk the other way. But the boxer in me wants to holler "Put your money where your mouth is and step in the ring with me!'' Whether it is out of jealousy or not, I can't say that but when someone demeans you in any way, especially about your livelihood, it is a temptation. I keep thinking if these people can be rude, obnoxious and just plain mean-spirited, can they take that same attitude in the ring? I think not so I will keep my mouth shut, as my Dad always told me.

On a personal level, I have 4 great minor children that I am trying to raise with the same business tenacity that I hold. I am proud to really be one the great Dads who is lost without them. Heck, I have had to cancel many appearances simply because I can't and won't spend a night away from them. pretty sad, huh?
In any event, restaurants such as Millers, Checkmate, Perry's, Killarneys, Treadwells, Canaan Country Kitchen, Oak Pond Restaurant, Peters Candlelighter, The Candlelighter, Dickey's, Governors and many more made me the chef I am today. Dad made me the worker I am forever.


It's Just That Simple!™

 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Backyard Burger Bash


 
 
 
There are so many ways of enjoying burgers grilled to perfection on your grill that I will only give you my favorites. But I would like to give you some ideas of meat combinations though. Certainly we all grew up simply adoring 100% beef patties our parents prepared for us and most of the time, I am completely satisfied with them(but ever EVER put them onto Wonder bread again). But there are also many instances where I am in the mood for lamb, sausage, pork, chicken and ground turkey, or a combination of any of those. Now many chefs will tell you to even play with different types of beef as well. Some boast that a combination of ground sirloin mixed with flat iron is the best, while a 50-50 ratio of tenderloin and sirloin is above all others. Me? I say whatever works for you, but I would never combine expensive cuts of meat that have been ground and are about to be laden with every conceivable topping under the sun. The flavor is lost and with the price of sirloin and tenderloin, those are best suited for grilled 'au naturel'.
 
I will, however, admit that I often combine ground beef with Italian sausage(either sweet or hot) and topped with grilled onions and peppers. With a thick slice of Provolone melted over the top, there are very few burgers that can compete with the smell and taste of this.

Now these recipes aren't overly complicated....rather simple really, I just wanted to give you a tweak to get you to think of some of your own mixtures, recipes, ideas and combinations.
 
 
Here are some simple burger ideas for you to share with family and friends this summer.


French Tarragon Burgers

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons chopped shallots, 1 teaspoon dried tarragon and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Refrigerate until ready to use. Cut two loaves French bread into 4-inch segments then cut in half horizontally. In another bowl, combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 2 pounds ground beef and ¼ cup minced shallots. Patty up and grill to your liking. Grill bread, cut side down and assemble burgers. Slather some of your mayonnaise mixture on one or both sides of the bread and serve with lettuce and tomatoes.




Guacamole Burgers

In a large skillet, cook 8 slices bacon until crisp. Remove, drain and set aside. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup minced red onion and 1(4-ounce) can green chilies; set aside. Shape 1 pound ground beef into 8 thin patties and top 4 of them with the onion mixture. Cover with remaining patties and firmly seal edges. Grill until done and top each burger with bacon and a slice of Monterey Jack cheese. Serve with the cheese melted and divide 1/2 cup guacamole to be spread on each.




Teriyaki Burgers

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups crushed Rice Chex cereal, 1/4 cup minced onion, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon onion powder. Mix well and combine with a pound of ground beef. Shape into 4 patties and grill to your liking. Grill some pineapple rings until lightly browned on both sides and add to the burger in some grilled onion rolls.




Chicken Pesto Burgers

In a large bowl, combine 1 pound ground chicken with 2 (canned) chipotle chiles in adobo sauce that have been diced, 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon dried basil. Shape into 4 patties and grill until done. Top each burger with pesto, slices of mozzarella cheese and grab it and growl.



Bacon Wrapped Burgers

In a large bowl, combine 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, 1 small onion that has been minced, 1 beaten egg, 3 tablespoons ketchup or salsa, 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1 pound ground beef. Shape into 4 patties and wrap each with a raw bacon strip, securing with a toothpick. Grill to your liking and don't forget to throw away the toothpick before eating.



Zesty Turkey Burgers

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce. Mix in 1/4 cup oatmeal. Take out half of this mixture and set aside. In the other half, add 1 pound ground turkey. Mix well and shape into 4 patties. Grill patties until done, basting with remaining ketchup mixture.




The Burger Meister(for the thrifty)

Combine 1 pound ground beef, 1 cup fresh bread crumbs, 1/4 cup milk, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt, 1/2 teaspoon both onion and garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Mix well and patty into 4 burgers. Grill up!




Texas Chili Burgers

In a large bowl, combine 1 pound ground beef, 1/4 cup minced onion, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 2 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon garlic salt, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 3 tablespoons tomato paste and 1(8-ounce) can kidney beans that have been drained and mashed with a fork. Patty into 4 big ol' burgers and top each with a slab of extra sharp Cheddar cheese to melt, and add some sour cream and sliced tomatoes onto each burger.




Pizza Burger for a Crowd

In a large bowl, combine 1 pound ground beef, 1 pound hot Italian sausage(casing removed), 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs, 1/2-3/4 cup minced red onion, 1/2 cup pizza or spaghetti sauce. On a sheet of waxed paper, flatten out into 1 large patty, about 7-8-inches across. Place half purple onion, separated into rings, 1/2 bell pepper, sliced and 1(2.5-ounce) can sliced mushrooms and 1/4 cup sliced olives that have been drained into a large piece of foil. Crimp well to form a pouch. Place large burger and foil packet on grill and cook 13-15 minutes, or until burger is well done. Turn foil packet only once while cooking. During last 2 minutes, or so, of cooking burger, layer slices of mozzarella cheese over the top to melt. Grill 1 large focaccia or boule that has been split. Slice assembled burger into wedges to serve.




Wangan Burger Packets

In a bowl, combine 1 pound ground beef, 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs, 1/4 cup barbecue sauce and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Mix well and shape into 4 patties. Place each patty on a large piece of tin foil and top each with 1/4 cup canned baked beans and some raw slices of onion rings. Crimp well and place packets on grill rack,(seam side up)and cook 20-30 minutes.




Cranberry Topped Turkey Burgers

In a large bowl, combine 1 pound ground turkey, 1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms, 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs., 2 tablespoons minced onion, 1 teaspoon rubbed sage, 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed thyme. Mix well, divide into 4 patties and grill till well done. While cooking, grill hamburger rolls. Top each burger with lettuce, Dijon mustard and whole berry cranberry sauce.




Southwest Burrito Burgers

Combine 1 pound ground chicken, 2 cup finely crushed tortilla chips or corn chips and 1/4 cup salsa. Shape into 4 patties. Grill till well done. Meanwhile, wrap 4(10-inch)tortillas in foil with a splash or two of water. Place on grill during the last minute of cooking to heat and soften. To serve, place some shredded lettuce in the center of each tortilla, top with a cooked burger, guacamole and shredded flavored Cheddar cheese. Fold ends of tortilla toward the center and overlap sides to cover burger. Serve with salsa.




High Falutin' Burger

In a large bowl, combine 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausages, casing removed, 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs, 1 small, minced onion, 1 beaten egg and1/2 teaspoon dried oregano. Shape into 4 oblong patties to fit equally-sized slices of French bread. Grill till well done. Toast bread slices and assemble. Top each with shredded mozzarella cheese, sliced, canned artichoke hearts, bell pepper, onion and mushroom slices.




Mooooo Shu Burgers

Combine 1 pound ground pork, 1 small minced onion, 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs, 2 beaten egg, 1/2 cup minced bamboo shoots, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger. Form into 4 patties. lightly dampen 6 tortillas and wrap tightly in tin foil. In the last minute of cooking burgers, place foil packets onto grill to heat tortillas. Remove everything and assemble. Spread some hoisin sauce onto each tortilla and place a burger onto each. Top with sliced green onion, bean sprouts, sliced water chestnuts, sliced bamboo shoots  and fresh cilantro sprigs. Wrap and eat.




Greek Lamb Burgers


Combine 1 pound ground lamb, 1/2 small minced onion, 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs, 1/2 cup finely chopped dried pineapple, 1 beaten egg and 2 teaspoons curry powder. Form into 4 patties and cook as desired. Grill pita slices that have been cut in half crosswise. place cooked burger into each pita half and serve with chutney, yogurt and sliced cukes.




And my favorite of all burgers...............




THE Yankee Burger

If desired, use ground sausage or even all burger, making a total of 1 pound of meat. The subtle hint of apple and the salty, pungent addition of real Vermont cheese will have you laughing the next time you see a chef on television telling you NOT to forget the salt when seasoning burgers. The Yankee Chef says, forget about it-not needed!




3/4 pound hamburger

2 links sweet or hot Italian sausage, casing removed

1 large apple, peeled and cored

3-4 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

4 hamburger rolls




Grate the apple into a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the hamburger, sausage, grated apple and black pepper. Divide the burger mixture into 8 equal size balls. Between 2 sheets of film wrap, place 1 burger ball and lay a piece of film wrap over the top. Press down to flatten. The patties will be thin but it will be perfectly suited for our purpose. Put about a half ounce of cheese on top, coming to within a 1/4-inch of the edge. Flatten another burger ball the same way as instructed, placing on top of cheese-laden patty already formed. Repeat until all the burger is pattied and cheese is used. Put in refrigerator for 15 minutes while heating your gas grill to medium.

Cook each burger for 3-4 minutes over direct flame, or until nicely charred and flip to cook an additional 3-4 minutes, or  until well done. If your burger is heavier on fat content, lay your burgers slightly off the direct flame. Don't forget to toast your rolls while you're at it!