The Weekly Whisk - 10/16/20

Musings from a foodie…

Now…on with the food 😊. Fall brings “apple” season. Suzanne and I argued over whether we should do an “apple pie” or an “apple crisp” when we came upon this recipe for an Apple Galette [ * * * * ]. “Galette” is a Norman word derived from “gale”, meaning "flat cake". Basically, it is the use of dough to create a flattened dessert where the fruit is piled upon the dough and then the edges are rolled up in a free-form fashion to create a container for the fruit. The type of dough is critical and it is a holiday staple in France. The galette came to us from Food52 – a recipe site that I frequent with customization and changes to reflect the “Kevin&Suzanne-ization” of the dessert.

The first focus is on the dough. There are many recipes out there for flaky pie crust. You can pick your favorite one. In addition, it takes time in advance of the apple prep to be ready – or about 2 hours of prep time. The following ingredients are needed for the dough: 3 1/2 cups (325 grams) all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 cup (230 grams) very cold butter cut into 1/2-inch cubes (or, 2 sticks), 4 to 8 tablespoons ice water; and 1 cup of Greek yoghurt. Using a food processor quickens the process or you can do it the old-fashioned way using traditional mixing. Once the dough is mixed roll up the dough into a ball and let it sit for about an hour to “chill”. When you are ready to proceed, you can place the dough on a flat surface and – using your hands – press it out onto a flat baking dish.

Peel 5 apples and slice into 1/8-inch slides – any shape you like. Set aside. Pour 1/3 cup of bourbon into a small pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. We light the bourbon to burn off the alcohol, so you only have the taste. There should be about 2 Tbsp remaining. Stir in 3 Tbsp of butter plus 1/3 cup of dark brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and mix together. Let cool. Set aside. Then, lightly flour the dough and place apple sections across the dough in whatever artistic fashion you desire. Leave about 2” of uncovered dough at the edges. Fold the edges of the dough over the edge of the apples. Then, carefully spoon the bourbon-sugar-cinnamon mixture over the apples. Prepare an egg wash and brush on the dough. Sprinkle the top with turbinado (rough cane) sugar. Bake the galette for 38 – 33 minutes at 425o.

The Weekly Whisk - 9/29/20

Musings from a foodie…

Boy – did I get a bunch of emails from readers about NOT having a restaurant or recipe noted in my last blog!! I’ll never do that again. One of the problems I’ve had is that historically because I traveled every week, I was able to highlight a new restaurant for every blog. Well, I’ve covered most of the restaurants in and around Kittery, Maine (a more limited selection, I might add) which has made the task more difficult. But this is really an important issue because after all is said and done – this section of the blog is the one that is read by most everyone…most of the time J . So, it became apparent that I really need to start minding my P’s and Q’s with a better focus on food – especially during the stress of the pandemic and these Covid-makes-us-stay-at-home-by-the-hearth times…

It is with great fanfare that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND [should be a double underline: * * * * *] trying this very easy and ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL dinner ensemble – Fennel-Crusted Cod with Black Frijoles and Eggplant.  The recipe is incredibly easy and a people pleaser to boot. So, start by cutting a small eggplant into ½ inch cubes (no need to peel it). Set aside. Cut a medium fennel bulb into thin slices (¼ inch or less). Set aside. Take a pint or so of cherry tomatoes – preferably ones you’ve grown because the flavor will be so much better. Cut them in half. Set aside. Fry the eggplant in olive oil until the surfaces are just browned a touch. Remove and set aside again.

Then, take 3 tsp of fennel seed and sauté over medium heat until darkened and fragrant. Let cool. Divide into 1 tsp (A) and 2 tsp (B) portions and set the latter aside. Then, to portion A add Italian seasoning or (preferably) Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Magic to taste plus 4 diced garlic cloves and 1½ tsp of dried thyme. Set aside. Sauté the eggplant for about 6+ minutes, then add the sliced fennel for another 2 – 3 minutes, then combine with two cans of black frijoles. Set on simmer. Take 1½ - 2 pounds of fresh cod, pat dry and rub with portion B on one side. Prepare a sauté pan and fry the fish spiced side down (4 minutes). Sprinkle the other side with the Italian seasoning or Prudhomme’s. Flip the fish and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Serve the eggplant, fennel, and beans mixture into large flat bowl and top with fried fish. Oh la la! You’re gonna love it – I promise!! And the calorie count is far less than 500-550. Prep time – 20 minutes. Cook time – 15 minutes. ENJOY!

PS – I’ve already got another one for next time!!

The Weekly Whisk - 9/3/20

Musings from a foodie…

Since we are still in lockdown and not going out much, we’re constantly thinking about what to cook next. So, when the crispness of the cooler mornings began to dominant the waking experience, it occurred to me that there is nothing better to look forward to than the likes of Old Fashioned Apple Crisp [ * * * * * ] ( fresh out of the oven, if possible) with a good helping of Haagen Daaz Vanilla (no other brand is acceptable, of course) on the side. All ages will swarm you for more, I promise! The following is adapted from Mom and I think she got it from my Grandmother who got it from…  In my experience Apple Crisp is one of those deserts where everyone has an origin of their menu from someone from somewhere. In fact, now that I think about it, I rarely actually follow the recipe but rather – use it a general guide. 

  • 10 golden delicious apples, peeled and diced into rough ½ in cubes
  • 4 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon – 1 tsp for the crisp and 1 tsp reserved for the batter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cubes of butter (unsalted or salted per your personal taste). Melt the butter in the microwave for about 40 seconds
  • A pinch of salt

Once you’ve pulled all of the ingredients together, begin the assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.  Butter an 8x12 baking dish, or spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, add the chopped apples, granulated sugar, and 1 tsp cinnamon.  Stir to combine, then transfer to prepared baking dish.
  3. Add to a separate bowl the brown sugar, oats, flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, salt, and melted butter to create the topping for the crisp.  Bring together the mixture into small, pea-sized nuggets.
  4. Spread topping over apples in baking dish, and gently pat to even it out.  Bake 40-50 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly
  5. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 – 15 minutes. Serve warm with the ice cream, of course AND, enjoy!

The Weekly Whisk - 7/29/20

Musings from a foodie…

I may have shared this at some point in the past. My Mom’s brother – Uncle Gail – would always make pancakes for us when we visited his place in North Platte, Nebraska. They were always the “bestest” pancakes and – literally – for decades I would ask for the recipe. Finally, about 20 years ago he relented and gave me the recipe for his Uncle Gail’s Famous Pancakes [* * * * * ]. Then, about a decade later, he shared the origin which I will share if you send me a note :-). The recipe follows – and, it’s easy to remember = “2 of everything except 1 Vanilla”: 2 Pints Buttermilk, 2 Cups Flour, 2 tsp Baking Soda, 2 tsp Baking Powder, 2 Tbsp Sugar, 2 Tbsp. Cooking Oil, 2 egg yolks, 1 Tbsp. Vanilla, 1 Tbsp Cinnamon (elective); and, a Pinch of Salt. Mix together into a pourable mixture. Set your griddle to about 400. When, the pancakes start to have little bubbles forming – flip ‘em over. Pour the size and quantity desired. Added blueberries are a regular feature at the Fickenscher household. Pour generous amounts of Maine Maple Syrup on the pancakes. Enjoy!!


The Weekly Whisk - 6/24/20

Musings from a foodie…

The Next Best Thing To Going Out – It’s summertime and that means grilling.  Besides what better place can a family (you will notice I did not say friends and colleagues) hang than close to the barby in the summer? The question then becomes what to cook on the BBQ grill.  Living in Maine, in recent years, I’ve leaned toward seafood due in large part to fresh availability. However, in browsing at the local grocery (wearing a full mask-on-top-of-a-mask outfit), I was awestruck when I discovered Johnsonville Brats. These are the most exquisite brats in the world. When I fired up the barby I was not disappointed. They were sweet and succulent just as I had remembered them from back in my Wisconsin days. They are the best. You should grab a bunch (but only tell the family) and cook ‘em up for lunch or dinner [* * * * * ].  Now the alternative is not bad either.  You see, I live in Maine and I’m trying to support our local producers to the extent possible. So…the price of lobster has dropped from a pre-COVID level of around $60 to about $35 for shelled and down to $6/pound for unshelled lobster. Rumor has it that you can get“fresh-off-the-boat” lobster for about $3/pound direct from the lobstermen themselves. It pays to live in Maine :-)

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