Sunday, February 26, 2017

I AM The Yankee Chef

 
I can't tell you how thankful I am that my brand, The Yankee Chef, has finally overcome any and all obstacles that has stood in the way for the past 3 months with regards to registering with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. As per my previous post about the New York Yankees, I was quite ill prepared to begin with when registering the name with the USPTP. Never in a million years did I think ANYONE would either object or try to delay what is obviously a "no brainah" when it came to being called The Yankee Chef. Once all my p's and q's were all lined up, I thought it would only have been a matter or time in order to finally have The Yankee Chef legally binding, but then a wrench was thrown in.....so I thought.

The New York Yankees asked for an extension of time in order to learn if I would be detrimental to their organization if I were to officially become such. The NEW YORK Yankees!!!!! Really!?!?

So I hired an attorney to represent not only my best interest, but to sort through what could possibly be so "defaming". Come to find out, it was money I didn't need to spend.

The Yankee organization was more than willing to explain everything to me and help me through the process and the reasons why they were concerned....although I still don't believe there should have been ANY concern. After all, I AM a Yankee, I AM a chef, I AM THE YANKEE CHEF!!!


At first, they wanted me to agree that I will NOT have anything to do with ANY sports team EVER...again, REALLY!?!? I couldn't endorse, work with or even have any collusion with even an amateur boxer with the name The Yankee Chef. It didn't take long to completely and utterly refuse such a silly request on their part.

So after some haggling back and forth and another long delay on their part(apparently to think it over and for the legal department to talk to the owners)they emailed me to let me know that as long as I changed my fonts on my website and logo, we were good to go....oh, and NOT to have any relationship with another baseball team.

So I thought about it long and hard, at least through one cup of coffee, and decided that the money I spent, the time I paced would be all the "side bars" I would entertain again. So be it!

I signed the final agreement and now we are good to go.

 
I will gladly thank the organization for the help and sincere friendship they showed me in finalizing our agreement. At first it bothered me, they irritated me and angered me. Now I feel quite comfortable with the end result and, although they are New Yorker's, I am proud to call them friends on a personal level.

We had a few laughs during the many phone conversations I had with them and they showed me that they were NOT the big bad guys I initially touted them as. They were there for me even when I had silly questions, They were there for me when I had sincere concerns and they were there WITH me during the final draft. Hell, I might even watch them play once in a while now.

So from a few generations of real Yankees to a team that is Yankee in name only, I say thanks. (And that was NOT a slam.....maybe an elbow in the side though.)






 



Monday, February 6, 2017

Why Didn't I Think Of That?

There have been many times, too often to recall, that I have shaken my head, sworn under my breath and just plain ol' kicked myself in the back-end because I never "thought of it". Anything from seeing an invention that is making millions of dollars to wishing I had stayed focus and marketed something that could net me the same.

I remember my brother, wayyyyy back in the early 70s, making English muffin pizzas at my parents first restaurant and thinking it was a stupid idea. I never tried it because I never thought anything but butter and jam belong on English muffins. Boy, was I wrong when just a short few years later, we began seeing these kinds of pizzas in the freezer isle of every supermarket.

I think Yankee stubborness plays a huge part in that manner of thinking as well. Take gravy for example.

I have never swayed from the classic preparation of gravy that I was taught by my Dad. "Using butter-based roux was the ONLY way to make a gravy", I thought for many decades. I never bought that sort of shiny gravy you see in the store that was obviously not made from roux.

Now with my next cookbook almost finished, I wanted to stay in focus with the overall theme, fruits, vegetables and children. How could I make a gravy that is healthy, a gravy that my children would NEVER guess I slipped in a healthy amount of vegetables, a gravy that takes mere minutes to make and a gravy with flavor that mimics the classic presentation?

Now I am sure many of you have made such a gravy in some form or another, but I urge you to come up with a gravy that encompasses ALL the above properties. This recipe does that and more.

I only use low sodium broth because it truly is too salty using regular broth. Not because of my preference to salt(which I might add is an addiction) but because the flavor of vegetables more than compensates and you may even think it is STILL too salty!

This, my friends, is the best gravy.....bar none!

I know, I know, you are probably thinking "What is the big deal with making gravy?". My answer to you is simply to ask any teenager you can if they know how to make real gravy. You will be amazed at the response! It isn't like when we were kids when parents and grandparents showed us how to cook at home, but even young adults. They will not, or can not, make homemade gravy because it is easier to buy it and heat it up. This recipe blows the competition away and only takes about 2 minutes longer than opening and heating up a jar of store bought gravy.

Chicken Gravy


 
 

Amazing Gravy

What a great way to make something that is good for you AND a phenomenal way to introduce vegetables into your childrens diet without them even knowing. I have done away with the classic roux thickener here, without any loss of flavor.

Perfect for beginners or those in a rush. This gravy should not take more than five minutes from beginnging to end and it will be the best gravy you'll ever have. For an amazingly tasty gravy without fat, simply buy fat free broth.

 

1(15-ounce)can low sodium beef or chicken broth *
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables of your choice, thawed
1 tablespoon cornstarch

 

Warm up the broth in the microwave or stove top until hot, but not scalding. Place in a food processor or blender with the last 2 ingredients and puree, on high, until you can no longer see even small bits of vegetables, about 30 seconds.

You can either strain the bulk from the vegetables from the liquid or leave as is. There will not be more than a teaspoon, if any.

Place mixture in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring almost constantly. Once boiling, remove from heat and serve.


* If you are using bouillion, use enough to flavor 2 cups water.
Beef Gravy


NOTE: I would like to touch base on two things. First, the beef gravy will not be as brown as you are used to because of the carrots in the mixed vegetables(As evidenced from both pictures above). Purchased gravy uses caramel coloring to darken the end result. And secondly, to make this recipe even quicker. Bring broth to a boil before continuing with recipe. There will be no need to bring it to a boil again if you are going to immediately consume it. The reason I prepare it as directed is because it will get slightly thicker when boiling it after pureeing and I have always brought food up to temp in all restaurants because of health code restrictions.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Understanding Flour Choices This Winter




With baking season in full swing among us in the colder climates and the ever increasing threat of celiac disease, understanding our choices of flour is a great way to shake things up in the kitchen. Without rambling on, let's take a peak of choices you may not have thought of, beginning with the standby:


All purpose flour is blended using both hard and soft wheat. You may have also noticed it comes in bleached or unbleached. Simply put, bleached means that it has had edible bleaching agents introduced to make it white, while unbleached(although it is still bleached)has been whitened naturally. Between 8-11% protein(gluten), all-purpose flour is the most easily attainable and widespread utilized flours.

 

Almond flour, which is gluten-free, has just a touch of almond flavor and should take up no more than a third of the entire amount of flour in any recipe, when combined with other flours. It is great with pies, pastries and sweet breads. It comes in a variety of colors as well, from white to dark brown. You can also make your own flour by using skinless, blanched almonds. IN a food processor, pulse 1 cup to make 1 cup flour. But only use 2 cups at the most at a time. You don't want to run your processor any longer than needed or you will end up with almond butter.

 

Amaranth flour has low gluten and is used in the same ratio as almond flour. It has even more protein than wheat flour. Did you know that amaranth seeds were responsible for almost all energy needed by the pre-Spanish conquest Aztecs?

 

Barley flour, which is also low-gluten and is simply made by grinding barley, contains 4x the fiber of all-purpose purpose flour, so use it as a substitute for up to a quarter of your total content of white flour the next time you make bread. This flour is a tremendous asset to your favorite pancake recipe as well.

 

Bread flour has more structural strength than all-purpose because of its' higher levels of protein, making it superb for.....well, yeast breads.

 

Buckwheat flour is gluten-free and has a nutty flavor. It has long been a staple in old Yankee kitchens, especially in pancakes.

 

Cake flour is much finer than all-purpose and has a high starch content. Lower in protein, you wouldn't think it gives structural substance but because it is chlorinated, it is great for recipes that need to hold their height such as sweet breads and muffins. If you don't hve cake flour but want to try it before you buy it, simply blend 1 cup all purpose flour with 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch.

 

 

Chickpea flour is aka gram and garbanzo flour. Super low in protein, it is simply made by grinding chickpeas and is traditional in Mid-East cooking. You can substitute the total flour content of a recipe by half with chickpea flour without damaging the end result in the way of texture. This type of flour is essential in Indian cooking and is available two ways, using roasted gram beans or raw. I highly suggest looking for roasted because it has much less of a bitter flavor. Did I mention that it is gluten-free?

 

Corn flour is also gluten free and comes in white or yellow, so that the North and South don't start fighting again. It is most welcome in recipes that need help in the binding department, such as crab cakes and croquettes.

 

Millet flour has a slight sweet flavor and should be used no more than a quarter of the entire flour content of any given recipe. And talk about the health benefits of millet...take a minute and look it up! But also be warned that new studies have shown that too much millet in your diet has adverse effects on your thyroid.

 

Oat flour is just that, oats that have been ground to a flour. I make this all the time at home because, let's face it, who doesn't have rolled oats laying around? Simply pulse it in a blender or food processor for a minute and there you go. A great partial substitution to all breads.

 

Pumpernickel flour is also low gluten and made from a combination of rye flour and whole rye berries that have been pulverized. It IS available in its pure form however. If you like old world charm and taste, you have it all in this flour.

 

Quinoa flour is gluten-free, a great 1:1 mix with all-purpose flour in recipes, but tends to be expensive.

 

Rice flour can be found in varying colors because it is made from varying rice grains. From white to wild, you can make this at home s well. And as for oat flour, I dare say every single one of you have rice at home that has been sitting up in the cupboard for ages. Take it, pulse it and use it. It's Just That Simple!

 

Rye flour comes in so many colors it is hard to get any information in one small paragraph. I use white rye in a recipe or two here and there, but this flour can be used by those of you who suffer diabetes because it is low in gluten.

 

Semolina flour is expensive. That is why most of the time when you see semolina, it is already used in pasta. It has the highest protein of all flours.

 

Sorghum flour is gluten-free and a superb substitution for whole wheat in bread recipes. This nutritional powerhouse provides 50% or your fiber needed for a day in just 1 cup. It is one of the few that is processed using 100% whole grain kernel and is considered one of the top 5 cereal crops grown today. Sorghum blends are also available and widely popular.

 

Soy flour is gluten-free and can be found in varying levels of fat. Remember that the more fat content of the soy flour you buy, the higher the chance that you will have to keep it refrigerated between uses. Choose wisely when using in any sweet recipe and never use more than a quarter of the entire flour content of any recipe.

 

Spelt flour is low in gluten and very popular lately because of its nutriyional content, fat soluble protein and sweet flavor.

 

Tapioca flour is gluten free and known as tapioca starch. It is one of the very few flours that actually improves the texture in baked goods when sticking with a gluten-free recipe. It is a superior thickening agent in puddings, fruit pies and desserts.

 

Teff flour is also gluten free, higher in protein than wheat and is abundant in calcium and iron. Very high in fiber, it is thought to help regulate blood sugar levels, making it a winner with people suffering from diabetes. Athletes are now discovering the "energy properties' of adding teff to their diets.

 

 

Whole-wheat flour is low in gluten and also called graham flour. This flour is so-so among all flours and not extraordinary by itself. A good partial substitution for all-purpose flours, however, because it cuts down on the gluten levels of other flours.

 

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Progression.....

My grandfather, the first Yankee Chef
.....of three generations of Yankee Chefs(Yup, I can hear it now. The Yankees are going to have a head fit about me using the word YANKEE as a stand-alone word, hahahaha)

(Although I owe much of my worthiness to my stepmother, Anne, and I can't even begin to thank her for all she went through while I was growing up, this post simply alludes to the three Yankee Chefs)  

I have been blessed with a lineage of a true Yankee(there I go again), the love of the violin, the never-ending desire to learn, the incessant need to read and the DNA of a cook.

My father, the second Yankee Chef, never considered himself a chef, nor did his father(my grandfather Samuel)before him. He never wanted anyone to call him such because he considered himself no better than the "next fellar" on the line with him. I have people calling me chef when I walk in through the door of my neighborhood store, and the first thing that comes out of my mouth is "JIM! Call me JIM!". 

 

Dad at Howard Johnsons


It was that sort of personality, and subsequent work ethic, that both separated all three generations of Yankee chefs from those who think of themselves as above their peers. But at the same time, endeared ourselves in the circle of those who were prep cooks, dishwashers, fry cooks and the like.

All three of us went through the toil of learning our craft from the ground floor up, rather than jumping into the cooking schools that, for the most part, churn out students that demand a 6-figure income immediately upon graduating without knowing what the pleats on a chefs hat is.



Samuel Bailey(the first Yankee chef)was born in 1902 and chose, as his first career, the violin. He attended the Boston Conservatory of Music and graduated in 1922. During his stint at the school, he picked up the dish rag and washed dishes, learned the craft of cooking in the Boston area and, as time progressed without the income of teaching, he toiled away at various restaurants in Massachusetts and Maine.

In Bangor, Maine, he cooked at well-known places such as the Bangor House and the old Adams House. He also cooked as lesser known establishments whose names are lost to history.

In the 1940s, he was in Lincoln, Maine with his only son, Jack(my father)and opened up Sam's Clam Shell, on the lake downtown. Through the generosity of his brother 'Woody', he bought his deep fryer and was not only known for his breaded and batter-fried clams, but also for his hot dogs that he plunked down in the hot grease, only to emerge blackened and split. I don't know how long he keep the shack running, but it was only for a couple years.





He is then found in Bangor with his sweetheart Doris Street. She, too, was a cook and one of the most no-nonsense, stubborn and cantankerous woman I ever knew. How my grandfather and her ever cooked side-by-side together will never be understood. For there are still stories abounding about how she used to get so mad at Sam that she would chase him around the kitchen with a cleaver!

We loved her dearly. For it was this type of woman you want in your corner when the times got tough.

The love of music, his violin and the determination of hard work was genetically passed to his son, Jack, when Sam died in 1967.

 

Jack(Dad)began his cooking career while in the Navy from 1956 to 1960. He always told me it was the best job he ever had and it was, by far, the most enviest of all jobs aboard a destroyer.

Upon his honorable discharge, he and his father opened up the Bangor Exchange Restaurant, at Pickering Square until 1963.


 
 
The cover of Dads journal of expenses for the Bangor Exchange

 


When it closed down, he started cooking at Howard Johnson's Restaurant in Bangor, working his way up to chef. It was here that I fondly remember taking our weekly car ride with my brothers and sister for that anticipated ice cream cone. Times were simple and that truly was a treat at the time.
 
 
 
Other restaurants Jack cooked at were the Bangor House, Quality Bakery, Checkmate, Brass Rail, Peter's, Perry's, Judy's, Treadwell's as well as a few others I will refrain from adding so that you don't all asleep. During this time, my father entered the Northern Conservatory of Music and excelled until they decided to shut the doors on the students. What a shame graduation would elude him but I was gifted with his music books from the school, as well as Sam's books from Boston.

In 1976, his and my mother loaded us kids and moved lock, stock and barrel to Canaan, Maine. This little corner of the "boonies" was the site of his very first restaurant that Dad could call his own. It was called Dickey's. From there, Mom and Dad opened Oak Pond Restaurant in the same town, ran the Eaton Mountain kitchen and then back to Dickey's, this time renaming it the Canaan Country Kitchen.

 

Dad worked side by side with one of the best chefs in Maine, in the way of Florence Stearns, of Skowhegan. She owned the Candlelighter, which was an upscale restaurant in the heart of the city. But because of personal events, my father and I ended up together, with the rest of the family living with my mother.

Together we moved back to Bangor during my senior year of high school and each found a job cooking at Peter's.

 


Boy, I thought life was tough when my father wanted me to dishwash and learn cooking at the age of 14 at Treadwells!

 

While we both worked at the same restaurant in '79/'80, I worked the 3-11 shift, which meant directly after school, I needed to be in the kitchen. And this was full time.

How I balanced making a living, having a social life with my best friend Rob, becoming a magician and escape artist, boxing AND making sure my homework was done I will never know! I often tell my children about this in order that they may THINK before the next time they speak about how rough it is to balance their time with the ps4 and homework, LOL.

 


It was still just me and Dad and I think the best way to describe my motivation was my endearment to my Dad, my devotion to him, my adoration.....

He was my world and there was no better man in my eyes than him. Sure, we all had our faults, our pitfalls and our weaknesses. Hell, I was the slave to the bottle for many years, but not in the sense of it ruining or controlling my life, but the omission of any asset that I could have easily acquired had it not been for spending my money on beer.

My fathers' struggle was the opposite though. After over 10 years with a new liver, my mentor passed in 2001. He passed on the same hard working attributes that his father gave to him, to me.

I also was the benefactor of the same violin my grandfather used, and the same one my Dad played throughout his life. And yes, I have been a violinist since the age of 6 believe it or not.

I held just as many jobs in the restaurant industry as my grandfather and father. I jumped from one kitchen to another, never to stay in once place very long. It wasn't because I couldn't handle it because I was NEVER fired from any job I held. I think it was my missing youth re-emerging and wanting to experience everything I missed out on while young. Women, fun, adventure and the like.

Killarney's, Judy's, Perry's, Checkmate, the Chuck Wagon, Donnely's, Governor's, Coachhouse as well as various restaurants around the country during my "ambitious" days shaped me into a cook/chef that can stand up to any television chef as well as any line cook anywhere.
Could this be the FOURTH Yankee Chef?

At the time, I just wanted a paycheck to cover my social life, not realizing that I was learning more and more as time progressed. Even though I didn't have a "pot to piss in", I was inadvertently expanding my knowledge of the craft.

My life has not even entered into its' final chapter. Although I have brought myself up by the straps of my boots, I continue to love what was handed to me, and am grateful that the two Yankee Chefs before me has transformed a simple and humble boy into a man that can challenge absolutely any line cook anywhere, and I mean from the greasy spoon diner to those on television that cannot go on with their lives unless they are referred to as CHEF.

Step back and ask yourself, "Are you really better than the cook that works incessantly just to get by?"

I was that guy and will raise my fathers spatula to anyone who believes otherwise!

 


 

                                It's Just That Simple!
 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Try An Original, New England Toddy For Christmas

UPDATE; Have since been the envy of my area with the first taster of Eden's Ice Cider. More on that by mid-January. In the meantime, read on.



Choosing something deliciously New England for Christmas this year is finally at our fingertips. What better way to celebrate the often seen snowy hillside cottages and farms of New England packed with family and friends than with an equally recognizable addition in the way of apple cider, and not just any old apple cider. Read on.....

 




The history of apple cider, as well as hard apple cider, in New England, has been written about over and over again so I will not do the same here.

I will, however, add that Yankees have been enjoying apple cider, in all forms, since the first decade of the 17th century and we have not stopped since. Hard apple cider is now global and is enjoyed universally.

But there has been that one sticking point and that is the overt sugary, sweetness that usually comes along with it. Many of my friends on all social media platforms have the aptitude and strong desire to at least try bottled, hard apple cider, but when they do, they are taken back by the sweetness. No complexity or other hints of flavors, just sweetness.  I, too, have tried almost every single brand and have yet to find that perfect hard cider that adds more apple flavor.

I have seen dozens of reviews for hard cider, as well as the product I am about to tout, but it truly takes a New Englander to appropriately and honestly give a true summation of ANYTHING cider!. I know this will "offend" many professional taste testers out there, but pull your big boy pants up and move on to another product you can review.

There is just something about a fermented apple product that takes a genetic "je ne sais quois" in order to accurately describe, and thusly recommend an apple product.

Now that I have ticked off anyone that isn't a Yankee, let's move on to a product that is another Yankee original, Ice[d] Cider! (Well, original in a sense that us Yankee's made Ice Cider, but we fermented the cider BEFORE freezing, whereas these distillers freeze THEN ferment.)


If you are tired of tasting the same ol', too sweet, hard apple cider, than this product is for you. The only drawback, and truly NOT akin to what the original New Englander called it, is that most of the producers of Ice Cider calls it Ice Cider WINE.

Not only is the word 'wine' a turn off for many men, Yankee men to be precise, but it instantly denotes something less alcoholic and as sweet as wine. That is where this product comes in. Ice Cider is actually a pleasant beverage, says Linda Fondulas of Newhall Farms(see below). The apples she produces is used in Eden's brand below. She tells me that there is so much more depth of flavor in Ice Cider than simply hard cider. The apple bursts its Yankee roots in every sip and all the profiles of an apple are quite apparent as well.

Originally either called Jersey Lightning or Apple Jack(the latter more prevalently), fermented apple cider was frozen in whatever cider barrels a family had laying around. Once the water portion of the cider was frozen, the remaining cider was drawn off and placed in another barrel. This was repeated one more time, with the resulting cider being as strong as any Southerner's White Lightning!

So why was the name Jersey Lightning applied at times to this delicious alcohol? Because the road crews in New Jersey during the colonial era were paid with this Apple Jack!

Anyway, the alcoholic content of todays' Ice Ciders can't compare to the original either. Today, they range anywhere from 10%-20%, stronger than beer but still a far cry from the old days. I have seen, somewhere online, of Ice Ciders having a 30-40% content of alcohol. These would be the first I would try.

There are also two different manufacturing processes used as well, one being far superior than the other.

The generally acquired and used system is to use apples from the tree, pulverize them(I am taking a journalistic shortcut here), squeeze as much juice from them before freezing, filtering and fermenting. Although this results in a good tasting Ice Cider, the best way is the old way.

By letting the apples freeze while still on the branches before picking and continuing with the fermentation process, you are left with an Ice Cider that is superior in taste than any other hard apple cider product in the world! The flavor is almost identical to an apple pie, without even having to add spices.

I am adding a few companies, both here in New England and abroad, that produces Ice Cider, and I will let you decide which is your favorite and with a little due diligence, investigate which of these uses frozen apples rather than freezing the juice. I have added one particular company that is known to use frozen apples.

Let me know which you enjoy the most and in the meantime, I will be forming my own opinion as I can acquire each of these products. The winning Ice Cider will be having a spotlight in my third cookbook already in the works.

 


Domain Pinnacle Ice Cider is a Canadian product that was the winner of the Great Gold medal at the Catavinum World Wine Spirits Competition(there's that word 'wine"again), as well as many other medals. This Ice Cider is that it is 12% alcohol. They have a century old apple orchard and use 6 varieties of apples as well. Go ahead, check them out at: http://domainepinnacle.com/en/produits/domaine-pinnacle-ice-cider-en/





Touting 54 awards, Ice Cider Neige Premiere is a blend of McIntosh, Spartan and Cortland apples and is 12.5% alcohol. The reviews, as seen on their front page, likens this cider to wine which is a common denominator throughout my research. Although they show pictures of apples being picked in the middle of winter, and thusly assuming the apples are frozen, there is no mention of using the frozen apples for the base of this cider. They also say that the apples are "autumn harvested". Regardless, this Canadian "wine" is available for your tasting as well.

https://domaineneige.com/en/our-products/detail/neige-premiere-ice-cider/





Now onto a Vermont company, Eden Calville Blend Ice Cider, of West Charlestown, Vermont. Linda and Ted Fondulas provide the apples for this Ice Cider on their Newhall Farm. They claim to use 11 apple varieties and is 10% alcohol. On Eden's web page, it is shown that a few different Ice Ciders are produced, each bearing their own flavor profile. The only downfall is that only a dozen or so states are in on their shipping list. Although additional flavorings are added, the Orleans cider is on my list to try.

 
http://www.cherrywine.com/wineries/eden-ice-cider/

 



Self proclaimed "Vermonts Premier Apple Cider", this New England company, Boyden Valley, has two products that stand out, Ice Cider and Double Bourbon Cider. We will stick with the nuances of Ice Cider for the benefit of this column.

Although little is mentioned in the way of production, this site does say that it is 12% alcohol and uses ONLY Vermont grown Northern Spy, McIntosh and Empire apples, which is almost the perfect blend to be honest. This Ice Cider is aged in French oak barrels, which is fine but in order to be true to New England, oak trees were not nearly used as widely as other types by Puritan and colonial coopers. The staves of the barrel were generally made at home by whatever tree one had on their property, mostly Beech, maple, birch and fir.


https://boydenvalley.com/product/vermont-ice-cider/







Now we are at a place that freezes their apples on the branch BEFORE any other process. Although Northern Natural Winery is based in Michigan, I truly want to try their Ice Cider, and that is coming from a 13th generation Yankee!

 
Not much, if anything, is found on their website below, about the process used, but simply because of the true process that results in a true New England flavor, this stands out to me more than others. You will have to look under 'Wine", on the left hand side, in order to pull up their product.


http://www.northernnaturalwinery.com/index.php

 



In Shoreham, Vermont comes a very intriguing Ice Cider. Champlain Orchards is a special place because they are eco-friendly, while producing a great product, as many aver. Their road to fame, I believe, is the Honeycrisp Ice Cider. The name along sounds enticing on one hand, but sweet on the other. The only way to tell is by ordering a bottle, or two, or.......with its' 11% alcohol.

   

http://www.champlainorchardscidery.com/ice-cider

 

 

Isle La Motte, Vermont raises their glasses to Hall Home Place. They are regaled as having the most distinctive Ice Cider in the world! What I like about this company is that the land, as well as the apple trees, have been in the family since the 1700s, and the apples have not been changed since that time, only more added. That, to me, is pure Yankee. At 13% alcohol, their Ice Cider just tweaks me in a good way. Another reason why I hang my hopes on the Hall family? They use ONLY Cortland apples for one of their Ice Ciders. And for those of you familiar with Cortlands, you know that they are less sweet than many other varieties, making this cider a beverage I think will "take the cake".


http://hallhomeplace.com/

 


Saturday, December 3, 2016

They Knew How To Cook 'Back in the day'

Do YOU know what the difference between ginger cakes, gingerbread, gingerbread biscuits, ginger cookies, gingersnaps or Pfeffernüsse cookies are?

Well today, it is easily understood what separates cakes from biscuits from cookies, but back during the heydey of family gatherings, holiday meals and the colonization of New England it was basically all the same.

Even to this day, the smell of spices classically represented in ginger-based desserts has a comforting effect on the soul. And with all the work our forebears maintained, they needed every bit of help they could find.

Here is an early recipe for Ginger Drop Cake but notice one thing, it has no ginger. An interesting omission.

"...take one cup each of sugar, mollasses lard and boiling water, one dab of soda half a dab of cream of tartar; stir in flour until it is thick as cake and sugar and salt."


From Sarah Hale, from The Good Housekeeper, 1841, we have Gingersnaps:



"Take a pound and a half of flour, and rub into it half a pound of butter; add half a pound of brown sugar and half a pint of molasses, two tablespoonfuls of cream, a tea-spoonful of pearlash, and ginger to the taste. Make in into a stiff paste, and roll it out thin. Put it on buttered tins, and bake in a moderate oven."

 
We can certainly thank the Germans for a certain New England "must have" during the Holidays, especially the Pensylvania Dutch. Pfeffernüsse cookies are the closest thing to the American gingersnap cookies but were originally baked according to whether or not a leavening agent was able to be procured.


If a housewife had no leavening agent, then small, super crispy cookies were made. But if pearlash was used then everyone had a high, soft, almost rounded cookie.


From The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple, 1747, by Hannah Glasse, we have the following recipe for Pfeffernüsse cookies:


"Take three pounds of flour, one pound of sugar, one pound of butter rubbed in very fine, two ounces of ginger beat fine, one large nutmeg grated, then take a pound of treacle, a quarter of a pint of cream, make them warm together, and make up the bread stiff; roll it out, and make it up into thin cakes, cut them out with a teacup, or small glass; or roll them out like nuts, and bake them on tin plates in a slack oven".


So as you can see, there was very little difference between any of these recipes. Here is my recipe for two different gingersnaps.

 
Soft and Puffy Gingersnap Cookies 
 
 

There are two different types of people. Those who love crispy, delicate gingersnaps(see NOTE) and those who love pillow soft, fluffy gingersnaps. Here are directions for both!. If you want darker cookies, use light or dark brown sugar in place of granulated in cookie dough. This recipe is foolproof and should be saved for many years to enjoy.

 

3/4 cup(1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons each baking powder and cinnamon
2 teaspoons dried ginger *
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


Cream the butter and 1 cup sugar in a large bowl until as smooth as possible with an electric mixer. Add egg and molasses and continue beating until well combined.

In a separate bowl, blend remaining ingredients and add to butter mixture slowly. After everything is beaten as smooth as possible with an electric mixer, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm enough to handle without being too sticky.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Pinch off enough dough to form a 2-inch ball, roll it between your palms and then roll in remainder of sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, leaving at least 1-inch between cookies. Bake 14-16 minutes, or until puffed up and starting to show small cracks on top. Remove from oven to cool slightly before removing to wire racks to completely cool.


Make 24


* Because I think all gingersnap cookies should be well pronounced with the flavor of ginger, these cookies stand up to that mantra. If a less pungent taste of ginger is desired, cut the amount in half.

 


NOTE: For Crispy Gingersnaps, after mixing all ingredients, transfer dough to a work surface and roughly shape into an 8 to 10-inch log. Place this rough log into the center of a large piece of film wrap. Roll the dough in wrap, forming a more uniform log as you do so. Place in freezer at least 2 hours, or until firm. Remove from freezer, unwrap and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Coat each side with sugar and place on an ungreased cookie pan with about 2-inches between each cookie. Bake in a 350-degree F oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the bottom of each is darker then the tops, and the centers are firm. Remove to cool as directed above.

Friday, November 18, 2016

To The New York Yankees

I have always abhorred bullying in any manner. I remember as a child being bullied to no end and I have a soft spot in my heart for children who are bullied even today. It truly saddens me when I see it happen day in and day out, even online. So when I see that you folks filed an extension of time in order to determine if The Yankee Chef negatively impacts your brand, the very first thing that came to mind is the term bullying, trademark bullying to be precise.

I took the time to peruse the objections you have filed over the years and for the life of me, I do not understand how you think a TRUE Yankee would impact the New York Yankees. It completely and utterly boggles me. Why? Let me count the ways.....

 

First and foremost, I AM A YANKEE. My family have been Yankees since 1635!!!! If anyone thinks, even for a minute, that they can diminish my heritage in any manner simply because an entity has the money to frivolously own a group of people, they are mistaken. Not only because my family(as many thousands of others)have been Yankees longer than baseball has been around, but the word Yankee itself is in the dictionary. That reason ALONE precludes ANYONE from "owning" the name.

It is the exact same thing as if I were calling myself The Indian Chef. The Cleveland Indians would have zero standing to oppose my name. Other examples?

The Viking Chef, The Cowboy Chef, The Chief Chef, The Pirate Chef, The Athletic Chef(I kinda like that name, hahahaha), The National Chef........ do I really need to go on and on?

Please see my article(as well as ANY encyclopedic entry)on the term Yankee at:

 

http://theyankeechef.com/index.php/featured/45-articles-guides/article/64-300-year-old-riddle-solved

 

In the meantime, and without giving away too much, how about Yankee Candles, Yankee Magazine, Yankee Pacific, Yankee Spirits, Yankee Estate Sales....and the list goes on and on.

 

We have Yankee Swap Parties, Yankee ingenuity or even Yankeetown, Florida. This is a fraction of things with the word Yankee in the title.

 

Although I absolutely think you should protect your brand, please do not bully the small guy who is 100% entitled to be called The Yankee Chef, especially since I am a third generation CHEF who happens to be a Yankee and NOT a baseball player. Heck, and not to be mean spirited, but New Yorker's aren't even Yankees, and most probably are happy about that, LOL.

 

Regardless, take all the time you need, but don't prevent someone from calling themselves a Yankee. I have more of a footing to challenge YOU for calling yourselves Yankees than vice-versa, but that would never happen.



If all you need is a disclaimer, than I would be more than happy to provide one here on my site, although I think it is a little(okay, a LOT)foolish. How's this?

 

I am a Yankee, not a baseball player and my brand has nothing to do with baseball, stadiums, mascots, sports, sports teams or a league.

                                 It's Just That Simple!™