Early Spring Soup, based on Kesakeitto

March 27th, 2013

 

This is a reprint of a recipe I love.  It looks like a painting and tastes like a spring garden.  Based on a Finnish recipe called Kesakeitto, or Finnish Summer Soup, this is a small mound of the most delicate spring vegetables pooled in a broth of hot, fresh milk, garnished with smoked salmon and peas.  My version of the dish crosses the Atlantic and backs up a season; I call it “Early Spring Soup in New England.”

 

Small parsnips, baby turnips, tiny yellow beets, broccoli florets, the tiniest baby potatoes, and a dice of carrots, all cooked quickly in boiling salted water, mound in the center of each bowl.

I looked for the best vegetables I could find.  I chopped the larger vegetables like parsnips and carrots, still looking for the smallest versions of them, into a tiny dice.  If a beet or turnip was small enough, I sliced them into rounds.   Along with a variety of vegetables, I wanted a variety of shapes, not just a pile of diced Birds Eye veggies.  The only vegetable I kept whole were the tiny potatoes.

I found a treasure of root vegetables at a Winter Farmer’s Market, but if seeking freshly dug produce isn’t on your to-do list this week, a keen eye at the grocery store will allow you a beautiful palette in your bowl, and probably a delicious one.

All the vegetables are cooked in boiling, salted water, beginning with the vegetables that make take the longest, (in my case it was the potatoes,) to the vegetables that will cook the fastest, using your judgement.  My order went like this:  potatoes cooked for two minutes, then I added the diced parsnip and carrots, then the beets and turnips, then the broccoli.

Half the deliciousness of this soup is the milk broth, simply the freshest, best milk you can find heated with a tiny bit of sugar and flour, and poured hot over the vegetables.  The thirty-eight Jersey cows at Appleton Farms in Ipswich can take a bow here.

I slit open a few snap peas, and saved the tiny beads inside for a garnish, along with some thinly sliced radishes, and fresh dill.  Rosy chunks of smoked salmon crumbled over the top.  I prefer the hot-smoked chunky kind for this, and used the locally cured Sasquatch smoked salmon available at Willowrest in Gloucester, but Steve Connolly also sells excellent hot-smoked salmon.

 

 

Early Spring Soup, based on the Finnish Kesakeitto

 

serves 6-8

Ingredients

4 cups organic whole milk, preferably local

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus 1 tablespoon for the vegetables

8 cups of tiny, fresh vegetables:  broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, new potatoes, zucchini, carrot, onion, asparagus tips, kohlrabi, beets, turnips, fennel, radishes,  and especially peas

water to cover

for the garnish:

1/2 pound hot-smoked salmon

fresh radishes, thinly sliced

fresh peas, or the tiny peas from inside 4-5 snap peas

fresh dill, chopped

fresh pepper, use white pepper if you want to retain the whiteness of the milk

 

Instructions

In a large saucepan stir together the sugar, flour and salt.  Slowly at first, stirring to blend, add the milk.  Whisk until mixture is smooth.  Gently heat the milk, whisking it occasionally to keep the flour from cooking on the bottom of the pan. Do not let it boil.

In a separate large pot, bring the salted water to a boil.

Prep the vegetables, peeling the potatoes, carrots, beets and turnips to keep them tender, and cutting all into roughly equivalent size.

When the water boils, drop in the vegetables that will take the longest to cook, like the potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, etc.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, and then add the lighter vegetables like radishes, peas, and broccoli.  Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon or sieve, and distribute them evenly into heated bowls.  Pour the hot milk over the vegetables but not to cover.  Allow the vegetables to rise attractively in a mound out of the milk.

Crumble the smoked salmon over the top, and garnish with radish, peas, and dill.  Grind some pepper over all, and serve immediately.

 

Feather & Wedge, Rockport’s new place.

September 17th, 2016

bar-at-feather-wedge

Feather & Wedge is open, and it’s even better than I could have imagined.

Its architecture and design are to restaurants what the Shalin Liu is to concert halls: petite but powerful iterations of their province. I walked into Feather & Wedge on Friday evening and felt as if I was walking into a chic, finely lit space, but also a restaurant so intimate and inviting that it seemed to have already been in Rockport for years.

The grand black and white graphic of Blood Ledge Quarry on the immediate wall instantly captured a mix of modernity and antiquity.  (Feathers and wedges are tools used to split granite, referring to Rockport’s once vital quarrying industry.) The room’s clear, punctuated lighting makes the room feel candlelit, effecting enchantment. At the same time Feather & Wedge could have borrowed – in a good way – themes from the main office of the Rockport Granite Company, the Pigeon Cove stoneworks that dominated the town economy at the turn of the 20th century: the high ceilings and over-sized, gently Victorian decorated mirror behind the bar.

 

fw-mirror

 

This is Rockport, our pin-prick of a town, so there were friends, of course, to greet right away. It was truly lovely to say hello, how’s it going, and sit down beside them at the bar, to enjoy the Italian wine,Vernaccia, in a long-stemmed, thin-rimmed wine glass with a proper size bowl. (I have a thing about wine glasses; the shape of the usual stubby restaurant goblet destroys nose and taste and in wine. Why have a good wine list if you are going to kill it in a crude glass?) The wine list is utterly compelling, with a lot of, “oh, they have that!” I couldn’t decide between the Vernaccia or a Loire Sauvignon Blanc so the bartender gave me a sip of the Loire wine, which was delicious, but had slightly more fruit than I wanted at that moment. My guest was instantly happy to see the Provencal Minuty Rose, one of her favorites on the list; I sipped hers which she described as gamey-forward rose, not too sweet, and pairing well with food – and ordered that for my second glass.

We sat at the corner table, one seamless window offered us Main St., and we could nod to friends passing by; the other wall window looked down to the Old Harbor; again, quintessential Rockport framed in new ways.

I am a fan of the limited menu, a few things done very well with the flexibility to highlight local ingredients as they are available. That’s the Feather & Wedge principle so far. I’ve been told the menu may expand a bit more, but never become a fold-out event. Last night we enjoyed a dish so local it deserves a photo on Google Maps: Pastaio Via Corta handmade spaghetti (Pastaio via Corta is the new fresh pasta shop on Center St. in Gloucester), tossed with fresh lobster and local corn. The lobster was as tender as the corn, and all a light, sweet drape over the perfectly al dente spaghetti.

The gutsier entree option was the roast leg of lamb with braised escarole and a half a head of roasted-to-butter- garlic.

 

patrick-steele-executive-chef

 

The executive chef, Patrick Steele, has a provenance with the venerable Barbara Lynch Gruppo. Steele cooked at the Lynch South End seafood restaurant, B&G Oyster, which specialized in small plates of inspired seafood creations. Feather & Wedge similarly offers a variety of small plates (not necessarily seafood) that will change almost daily, making it a nice way to order as a four-some; have the assortment of small plates and then share two entrees. May I say this makes perfect pre-Shalin Liu dining?

To be clear, this is not the local pub; prices reflect the quality of both the bar and dining menus. – A glass of wine is between $8 and $10. Small plates are $7 – $9; and entrees are $25.

At that table in the corner, I was acutely aware of how wonderful this seat, and this restaurant, will be with a light snow falling on Main St. Also, how beautiful it will be after the DPW have raised the small Christmas trees on the streetlights. And then how beautiful it will be in the spring, when the pansies start fluttering in Main Street’s window boxes. Feather & Wedge already feels like classic Rockport.

fw-window

Pop-up Farmers’ Market – local pasta meets local produce!

September 13th, 2016

astrid

Astrid of Astrofarms at Moraine Farm

At this pop-up farmers’ market, all you need do is walk in the door and a beautiful, fresh, local dinner is practically made. Leave someone at home to start the pasta water boiling while you run out!

This Friday – September 16th, 2016 – from 12- 4 p.m. Astrid from Astrofarms in Beverly will set up her harvest at Pastaio via Corta, 11 Center St. Gloucester.  Astrid will have this and more:

arugula

baby mustard greens,

Toscana kale,

red curly kale

celery

scallions

parsley

shelling beans

potatoes

tomatoes

hot peppers

The Case

Pastaio via Corta has handmade pasta made fresh every day, often handmade cheeses, olives, and a fine selection of Italian cooking basics.

Go to this pop-up market Friday and take home all the ingredients for pasta fagipoli, pasta puttanesca, or almost all the ingredients for Marcella Hazan’s Linguini with Crab and Arugula or her Pasta with braised Celery, Onion and Pancetta.

Pastaio

A perfect autumn Cape Ann event!

September 13th, 2016

img_1887-1

This menu says it all!  – for the Salt Marsh Farms pulled pork alone…

fullsizerender

 

Seafood Throwdown in the Boogie-down Bronx!

September 2nd, 2016

Karen Washington

“Why not the Bronx?!”

When nationally renowned food activist Karen Washington met Niaz Dorry, director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, at a conference last spring, Dorry explained that NAMA often distributed its message through something called Seafood Throwdowns. Seafood Throwdowns are cooking competitions held in public spaces to promote under-utilized species and to teach people about sourcing local fish.

“Yeah,” Dorry said, “We’re having one in Brooklyn this year – “

“Brooklyn?!” Washington called out, “why does everything happen in Brooklyn?! Why not the Bronx?!”

Inside that question lies almost the entire issue of food justice. Why not the Bronx? Why does society – even the most conscientious among us – systemically omit neighborhoods of color from the good food conversation?

Dorry immediately understood the obviousness of her own omission, and right there began planning with Washington the “Garden of Happiness” First Annual Seafood Throwdown in the Bronx! – between 181st and 182nd.

corn & Garden of Happiness

As Washington declared many times last Sunday afternoon, in between the smiling young DJ’s pulsing Rhianna and Michael Jackson spins, “we’re not in Brooklyn! We’re not in Queens! We’re not in Manhattan; we’re in THE BRONX! – this is the ‘First Annual Seafood Throwdown in THE BRONX! – the Boogie-down BRONX!”

The secret fish was bluefish. Michaela Hayes from Rise and Root Farm and Crock and Jar teamed up with Suzanne Cupps from the restaurant Untitled at the new Whitney Museum.

Suzanne Cupps & Michaela Hayes

untitled

They competed against Aneesha Hargrave from the fresh salad franchise Chopt. This Seafood Throwdown attracted social brass.

Aneesha

chopt

A very tall New York State Senator Gustavo Riveira, looking like a basketball center at a church supper, joked for a couple of hours with his District 33 constituents, even after admitting that fish creeped him out. But, he added, “anytime Karen Washington says show up, I show up.”

Gustavo Riveira

Aside, he confided that he had five more events to attend that day, and meals to eat at each of them, but he pointed to the opulent display of Rise and Root Farm heirloom tomatoes:

“See those tomatoes over there? I have a nice loaf of whole grain bread at home. I’m going to buy the ugliest tomatoes – the ugliest ones always taste the best – and I’m going to go home tonight and slice some of that bread. I’m going to lay some thick slices of those tomatoes on top, and lay slices of fresh mozzarella over them, and that’s going to be my dinner tonight!”

Rise and Root Tomatoes

I saw him leaving 45 minutes later, happily swinging a plastic bag heaving with Rise and Root tomatoes.

Joe Heller, Resource Conservationist for the USDA and his wife helped to judge the Throwdown. Heller declared his earnest professional interest in seafood issues, saying he hoped the USDA could partner better in the future with fishermen.

Deborah Lomax from the Bronx Health Department and the Center for Health Equity, “responsible for lowering the health inequalities in this borough,” seated herself at the judge’s table, declaring before she tasted her first bluefish dish, “I can’t wait to have the taste of equity in my mouth!”

The New York Botanical Gardens nurtures its 250 acres, 50 gardens and hundreds of millions of plant species just around the corner from this Bronx block party. Built in 1891 upon the estate of Pierre Lorillard, who amassed a fortune with the world’s most popular plant, tobacco, the NYBG has a pedigree peppered with names like Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Morgan and Rockefeller. It’s treasures include 50 acres of Old Growth forest – the original un-cut, un-logged trees that once covered the island of Manhattan. It includes the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden designed by landscape designer Beatrix Jones Farrand. Its library holds the writings of Charles Darwin and Carl Von Linne (Linnaeus), who created our latin system for naming plants. Karen Washington is a New York Botanical Garden board member.

Here is a short history: Karen Washington, single mother of two and a physical therapist, purchased her brick row house between 181 and 182nd in the Bronx in the early 1980’s. One day she saw a man with a shovel in the vacant lot across the street from her new house. She asked him what he was doing, and he said, “I”m going to build a garden here.”

“Well, let me help!” Washington replied. Today that garden, named “Garden of Happiness,” is an extravagant plot of land filled with mature trees, a chicken coop, and garden plots heaving with tomatillas and papalo, Porophyllum ruderale, a tender spicy green similar to cilantro used in Mexican cuisine. To step into the Garden of Happiness on an August morning is to be struck hard by the simple lesson that gardens and trees are easy bandaids to the harsh concrete heat of the city. Temperatures drop and mood lifts when one steps off the street and into this bountiful half-acre of chlorophyll and leafy shade.

Garden of Happiness Bench

Garden of Happiness

garden of happiness trees

Garden of Happiness tree

papalo

Here’s a glimpse of Karen Washington’s biography now:

Since 1985 Karen Washington has been a community activist, striving to make the New York City a better place to live. As a community gardener and board member of the New York Botanical Gardens, she worked with Bronx neighborhoods to turn empty lots into community gardens. As an advocate, and former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, she stood up and spoke out for garden protection and preservation. As a member of the La Familia Verde Garden Coalition, she helped launched a City Farms Market, bringing fresh vegetables to the community. Karen is a Just Food board member and Just Food Trainer, leading workshops on growing food and food justice across the country. In 2010, she co-founded Black Urban Growers (BUGS), an organization supporting growers in both urban and rural settings. In 2012, Ebonymagazine voted her one of their 100 most influential African Americans in the country, and in 2014 she was the recipient of the James Beard Leadership Award. Since retiring from Physical Therapy in 2014, Karen is Co-owner/Farmer at Rise & Root Farm.

It all started with a garden, the garden which offered a cool bench at the First Annual Seafood Throwdown in the Bronx. Today Carmen Pepe and his wife maintain The Garden of Happiness, which is also part of the NYBG Bronx Green-up initiative.

Karen Washington & crew

Wearing an untucked button-down shirt and rumpled khakis, Todd Forrest, the Arthur Ross Vice President for Horticulture and Living Collections at the New York Botanical Garden, mingled with the crowd and followed the chef’s work throughout the cooking process. Washington introduced him as “a dear friend, and the heart and soul of the New York Botanical Gardens.”

Todd Forest - New York Botanical Gardens

Forrest, in turn, had nothing but deference and praise for Washington. “who has just made the Bronx a more wonderful place.”

The Seafood Throwdown was part of the 181 – 182nd Block Party, a precious time for an urban kid, Washington describes, when New York City actually stops traffic on their street for a day. Washington says, “We try to live in this community, to celebrate a day kids can run around in the streets with no cares, to be free.

181 - 182

At one point, a parked car needed to exit the street, and a pack of adults sprang forward to protect a few young kids still wobbly on their small bicycles. The DJ called into his microphone, “Hey, watch those kids! They’re our future!”

A day to practice bike riding on a wide open street. Gardens. Fresh farm-raised vegetables. Each of these components were treasured this day in the boogie-down Bronx. Each seemed to be valued far higher than communities I see with less concrete and more trees. Karen Washington acknowledged as much, describing the one farmers market in the Bronx, La Famiglia Verde, as an extremely important event for this particular community, important in ways one doesn’t associate with local melons and fresh cut flowers.  Washington said this about working at La Famiglia Verde:

“If I see someone who just got out of prison, and they have nothing to eat, I hand them some food. Or if I see someone walking by, and I know they have no money to feed their family, I hand them some vegetables. They might say to me, ‘but I don’t have a check,’ and I say to them, ‘did I say anything about a check? – just get over here!’”

“I grew up in the projects where people took care of each other. Today, with materiality, the explosion of the media, emphasis has been on things, not basic human compassion. The rise of the individual has taken over, and we have lost community. We lost how to lean on each other, to share things. People don’t want to borrow because they’re afraid they will be thought of as ‘poor.’ It’s become shameful to be poor.”

Washington’s words ring true in communities far beyond the Bronx.

Here is Aneesha’s winning bluefish recipe.

Aneesha's winning bluefish

 

Chopt’s Aneesha’s WINNING Bluefish “Mejor” – “Better Bluefish”

Ingredients:

For the Tomato Sauce:
1/2 cup good quality olive oil + 2 tablespoons (divided)
8 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons “Mama Lil’s Goathorn Peppers” or jarred roasted peppers
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
6 medium – large tomatoes, blanched, peeled, and crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1 diced green pepper
1 cup diced raw bluefish (skin removed)

For the bluefish:
2 pounds bluefish fillets
olive oil
about 4 lemons, sliced into rounds
salt and pepper

For the salad:
2 bulbs fennel, stalks and tough end removed
4 leeks, cleaned, halved lengthwise, then cut into 6” lengths
8 Hungarian wax peppers or your choice of peppers
olive oil for tossing vegetables
1/2 cup diced red onion
kernels from 2 ears of corn
handful of chopped celery leaves
1 teaspoon capers
salt for finishing
Spanish olive oil to taste

To finish:
sea salt
chopped parsley leaves
capers
For the sauce:
Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan to medium heat. Add the garlic cloves, and lower temperature. Cook until garlic just begins to soften but becomes sweet. Add the peppers, and cook to blend flavors for 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan, and stir to blend in the warm pan. Remove from heat.
Pulse very lightly in a food processor, just to mix well and blend in the garlic, not to puree.
Add sherry vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Heat a 10” saute pan to medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil, and saute the green pepper until softened, and just beginning to brown. Add the tomato sauce, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the diced bluefish, and simmer until the fish is cooked, another 5-7 minutes. Set sauce aside.
For the bluefish fillets:
Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Brush the lemons lightly with olive oil, both sides, and lay on the grill closely together, making a surface upon which to lay the fillets. Rub fillets lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Lay the fillets on top of the lemon slices, and cover grill. Roast for 10 – 12 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through, and flakes easily when pushed with a fork. (Alternately, lay the lemon slices on a foil-covered baking sheet. Lay the fillets on top of the lemons. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast at 400 degrees F. until the fish flakes easily, about 8-10 minutes to the inch.)

For the salad:
Chop fennel bulbs into 1” wedges. Toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper. Heat a grill or grill pan to high heat, and lay fennel slices on top. Cover grill or pan, and cook for 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until fennel is cooked through but not mushy. Halfway through, toss leeks and pepper in olive oil and salt, and add to the pan, cooking them similarly.
Allow vegetables to cool slightly before tossing. Then put all in a large bowl, adding the onion, corn, and parsley leaves. Toss in the capers. Taste for salt and pepper, and drizzle good quality Spanish olive oil over all to taste.

To assemble dish:
1. On four dinner plates, spoon out approximately 3/4 cup of the chunky sauce. Lay a serving of grilled bluefish on top. Spoon the vegetables over all. Finish with salt, more chopped parsley leaves, and capers.

Karen video

Karen Washington interview

Pastaio Via Corta – pasta is changing Glosta

August 23rd, 2016

 

Danielle at the Seafood Throwdown

Once a softball player, ever a purist, Danielle Glantz has opened a “pastaio,” a fresh pasta shop named “Pastaio via Corta” – “pasta maker on a short street,” transforming “a short Gloucester street” into a Florentine neighborhood.

Pastaio

Glantz will say her palate was actualized as a child at her Lebanese mother’s and grandmother’s sides in her home in western Massachusetts. (Her father is Italian.)  Bold, fragrant dishes created with love and joy in a family kitchen seems to be the Glantz culinary syllabus.

She received a degree and a Brillat-Savarin Medal of Merit from the Culinary Institute of America (after starting out at the University of Hartford on a softball scholarship). She cooked for four and a half years at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA, and returned to Massachusetts as sous chef at Nico and Amelia Monday’s restaurant The Market on Lobster Cove. After a year there Glantz became head chef at Short and Main, the Monday’s and partners’ second restaurant on Main St. in Gloucester. But Glantz still speaks with awe of her grandmother’s shish barak, a tiny lamb and pine nut tortellini served in a yogurt soup, as if that cooking had more power over Glantz’s professional style than the other way around.

Yet, under Chez Panisse chefs Jean-Pierre Moulle and David Tanis, Glantz saw that purchasing locally meant more than the promise of better tasting produce; it meant a commitment to the community.

With this personal canon, Glantz has opened Pastaio via Corta, a handmade pasta and cheese shop on Center St. in Gloucester.

Pastaio Counter

If you have noticed the small chalk sandwich board saying “fresh pasta” on the corner of Main St. across from Passports, follow the pointing arrow; just go. It’s your lucky day if Glantz has made burrata, a sphere of freshly pulled mozzarella so plump with cream that it bursts at the tenderest pressure, and they are not all spoken for.

While I was there last week, a 30-ish year old woman walked in and said, “I came here for your burrata; my mother says it’s the best she’s had in her life, even after living in Italy for years.” Glantz smiled back with her steady, brown-eyed soundness. This is the woman who, when talking about working with the wood-fired oven at Short and Main, said, again with that straight-shooting clarity, “the oven will own you unless you own it.”

Glantz makes burrata, mozzarella, and stracciatella every week, but it disappears as quickly as it goes in the case. If luck isn’t your thing, order ahead: 978-868-5005.

IMG_0795

making gnocchi

Pastaio gnocchi

The Case

Glantz makes all of the pasta by hand in her shop. On any day (Glantz is open 7 days a week, from 11:00 – 7:00.) you can walk into the sun-filled store, and she is standing behind the counter rolling dough into long snakes, breaking off thumb-size pieces for gnocchi, and then rolling each on the wooden board that imprints those signature gnocchi lines. Or she is pressing tiny disks of pasta into orrechiette. On Thursdays and Saturday’s she makes ravioli. Last week’s were filled with ricotta, mascarpone, Parmigiana Reggiano, cardoons, squash blossoms, olives and basil.

Glantz makes four basic kinds of pasta: short, stuffed, long, and “pastine” – or soup pastas. She always has a whole wheat pasta made from Alprilla Farm’s milled whole wheat. Flour is now the symbol of Glantz’s conviction.

“I believe that good food should be available to everyone. When I thought about opening my own business, I thought, if I’m entering the market as someone who is honestly concerned about farm-to-table living and sustainability, I’ll start with pasta,” – a product that can make local, healthy ingredients like wheat, eggs, milk and vegetables available to everyone.

Gloucester Italians have already discovered Pastaio via Corta. The day I was there a 40-ish year old man named Caesar, wearing bright orange running shoes to match his silver and orange motor cycle helmet, sat on the bench for a good 45 minutes. He just wanted to talk about homemade ricotta cheese, a certain sign for me that Pastaio via Corta has already improved our community in many ways.

Glantz competed with this dish in last week’s Cape Ann Farmers’ Market Seafood Throwdown.  For the record, Cape Ann Fresh Catch will be selling whiting, so delicious in this summery pasta recipe, this week (8/25).

 

Seafood Throwdown Radiatore

 

Pastaio via Corta Seafood Throwdown Radiatore

serves 4 for dinner

Ingredients

1 whole whiting or 2 small (about 1/2 pound of cooked meat)

3/4 cup olive oil, divided (for fish and cherry tomatoes)

salt and pepper

1 pound Pastaio via Corta radiatore

2 tablespoons minced garlic 1 pint cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup chopped basil

1 cup squash blossoms, roughly chopped

Instructions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.

Heat a clean grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Rub fish with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap fish securely in aluminum foil, and lay on grill. Grill for 15-20 minutes, or until the fish flakes well when checked. Remove from the grill, and open the foil slightly to stop the cooking. After it is cool enough to handle, pull the flesh from the bones, discarding the skin. You should have about a cup of fish, or to taste. Set aside.

In a large skillet heat 1/2 cup olive oil to medium high. Add garlic, and toss in the pan very briefly, for about a minute Do not brown. Add cherry tomatoes. Toss a bit with the garlic, and let cook until the tomatoes just begin to soften. Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Add the pasta to the water and cook for 2 minutes, if using Pastaio via Corta, or until al dente. (Boxed radiatore will take 5-7 minutes.) Drain pasta but leave a small amount of water on the pasta, just dripping a bit, and toss the pasta into the pan with the cherry tomatoes. With 2 wooden spoons, start tossing the pasta in the pan with the tomatoes. Add the fish, and keep tossing, until the pasta begins to “drape” with the liquid in the pan. (Return the pan to warm heat if necessary.) Toss in the fresh herbs, squash blossoms, and toss well again. Taste for salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Visiting Belgrade and Ayvar – Serbia’s roasted eggplant and pepper preserves

August 11th, 2016

Izzy & Milica at Kalemegdan

Anna Kareninna’s Vronsky died in Serbia. Tolstoy based Anna’s lover on a real Russian captain who had appeared on a Serbian battlefield to help the Serbs fight (once again) the Turks. But he also confessed had come to die, as he had nothing to live for, his lover gone. The Serbian General was not pleased.

The Balkan Peninsula is one of the world’s most important hallways; civilizations for thousands of years have trampled and marauded it for its value as the ultimate passageway, the parcel connecting Turkey and Austria, Europe and the Middle East, the East and West. The Balkan peninsula touches five seas – the Mediterranean, the Adriatic, the Ionian, the Aegean, and The Black. It is criss-crossed by rivers, natural highways that have made East-West trade possible, and men rich, for centuries, the stuff of empire envy. The region has basically been the ball in a game of Pickle between the Ottoman and Astro-Hungarian Empires for thousands of years.

The Balkan people could feel tired, martyred, victimized by all these years of not being left alone, being everyone’s breezeway, being neither East nor West, neither European nor Eastern. Instead, history seems to have honed their sense of irony. “Neither East nor West exist at all in a geographical sense, because the Earth is round,” is the way Balkan writer Tin Ujevic refuses this geographic fate.

Serbian writer Momo Kapor says all this east/west stuff has simply etched hard a Serbian philosophy: “Because we live between the East and the West we believe that truth and human measure are somewhere in the middle.”

I spent a week in Belgrade with my daughter, who is studying there. Belgrade is not always beautiful, but the beauty – that view across the Sava River from Fortress Kalemegdan. the feminine curve of the Danube – breaks hearts.

danube

When I landed at the Nikola Tesla Airport I took a photo of the “Welcome to Serbia” sign, and posted it on Instagram. Instantly, a friend from Gloucester commented back, “Are you in Belgrade?!” She had been here for the month, she wrote me, but was leaving the next day. “I ADORE BELGRADE!” she instagrammed me. That was how I arrived in this city. And now, without even realizing when and how it happened, I adore Belgrade, too.

Starting with history’s leading bad guy, Atila the Hun, Belgrade has been razed at least forty times; NATO bombs fell on it as recently as 1999. A 30-ish year old man my daughter met told her that he and his friends danced through the NATO bombings:

“Because of the curfew, we went to clubs during the day. We would be inside dancing, and occasionally looked outside to see where the bombs had fallen, to see what parts of our city were left, and then we’d just go back inside and keep dancing.”

wedding at Kalemegdan

The Kalamegden Fortress stands over the meeting of the Sava and Danube Rivers, marking the entire northwestern edge of Belgrade’s old city, a fortress the size of an American small town with a wall so high a fall from it would probably kill you. It dates to at least the 14th century. Today people get married within its grounds. There are cafes, and even a zoo, but those massive walls still remind how important was this seat. You see the strength and violence of the enemy in the impenetrability of those walls. Another reminder of the warfare this city has endured are the crumbling high-rise apartment shells on the occasional downtown Belgrade block, where those NATO bombs did fall. Like Kalemegden, these buildings, looking as if a wrecking ball only half-finished the job, insist that no one forgets what this city has endured. But the people DO seem to forget. They drink coffee – the streets are lined in cafes and the coffee is better than any I’ve had in France or Italy. They eat gelato. There is music everywhere – street music – mostly young people – and I mean children – casting Vivaldi and Mozart into the TRG Republic, the main city meeting place.

coffee #2

coffee

Uzitak

young violinist

I felt welcome in every cafe, on every corner, in all the shops and the one museum I found. When I asked to speak English, almost everyone looked kindly, and said, “of course,” and continued a fluid exchange with me about a coffee, or the menu, or the wifi password.

Traditional Serbian cuisine seems to reflect a culture always under attack, never enough peace time to create something beyond basic. It seems to be a mashup of 15th century “fast food,” meaning sausages and a pot of beans ready at all times to feed a warrior grabbing his bow, and a few remaining staples of a solid agrarian culture, like Kaymek and Ayvar, cultured “butter cheese” and preserved eggplant, peppers and garlic. Serbian traditional cuisine includes two – and only two – salads, and one salad is made of cheese.  Strangest to me, street vendors sell roasted, buttered corn-on-the-cob, which must be incredibly Serbian because it’s not European and it’s not Turkish. This simple Serbian fare is proudly served all over the city, particularly in Skardaljia, Belgrade’s Montmartre. My favorite Serbian table rule: only the sick eat chicken.

The city’s restaurants reflect a culture that smiles kindly but a little ironically at their traditions while lacing up their Adidas for new and urbane.  My daughter and I dined in a vegetarian restaurant called Radost, that served dinner in a back terrace with very modern planked illuminated walkways that navigated a garden of ferns, with broad library tables for communal seating, and the menus tucked into leather-bound books. We dined under a tent of red umbrellas at Manufaktura, an urbane interpretation of ultra-Serbian cuisine: cevapi, gibanica, and Kaymek – homemade meat patties, cheese pie, and butter cheese.

manufaktura umbrellas

gibanica - cheese pie

Serbian Salad at Manufaktura

cevapi - serbian sausages

Izzy and I

And we dined in two glamorous Italian and Japanese restaurants facing the Sava River. Each experience, chosen randomly with no yelping – from the food to the wines to the service – was refined, relaxed, professional and nothing less than delicious.

restaurants along the Sava

The Serbian wines I tasted – particularly the crisp whites and roses – rivaled Sancerres and Otts, (but Rakija, fruit brandies, best when homemade, is the Serbian signature beverage.)

rose at Kalemegdan

Author Momo Kapor says, “what sets Serbs apart from other western peoples is well-hidden from the sight of strangers: the winter store and household hoarding which originates from the primeval fear of going hungry in winter.”

The Belgrade Green Market, Kalenic, spilled with purple plums while I was there.  Leathery-skinned  women crouched by enormous buckets of freshly picked blackberries, selling them by the cupful.  It was early for the eggplant and peppers, but apparently Alvar, the Serbian eggplant and pepper preserve, is considered a season itself.  My daughter’s teacher, who kindly gave me the Momo Kapor book from which I got the quotes about east and west, told me that Ayvar is the best thing about September, “the whole Serbia smells like ayvar.”

The Making of Alvar means spreading spoonfuls of sunshine on Serbian cornbread or adding a bright spot to a grainy homemade sausage in December.  It is exactly what we should all be putting up in jars right now, with our own sunshine-filled eggplants and peppers beginning to emerge in farmers’ markets.

ayvar

Serbian Ayvar

makes about 2 cups – by the way, for some reason jars of Ayvar are always covered in plastic wrap; that’s part of the recipe!

Ingredients
2 large eggplants
6 red bell peppers
salt and pepper
finely chopped garlic to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice or mild vinegar
olive oil
coarsely chopped parsley

Instructions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Put the eggplant and pepper together on a baking sheet covered in parchment or aluminum foil. Roast until the skins are all charred and crinkly, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and place them under a very large bowl, or put them in a paper bag for a few minutes. This allows them to cool a bit, and steam a bit more, making it easier to remove the skins. Remove the skins either by dipping your fingers in cold water and pulling off the skin or by running the fruit under cold water if it is too difficult. Dry well afterward.
Remove the core and seeds from the peppers and finely chop the flesh. Coarsely chop the eggplant. Add these to a food processor and process lightly. Add salt, pepper and garlic to the mixture. Then add lemon juice or vinegar, and process again.
Very slowly, with the processor running, add the olive oil until the mixture thickens to a mayonnaise-like consistency.
Serve immediately spread on a shallow bowl, drizzled with more olive oil and chopped parsley, and serve with chunks of fresh bread. Mixture will keep like this in the refrigerator for a week – covered in plastic wrap and then a lid!  Alternately, spoon into sterilized jars, and process as you would for preserves.

“Sea to Supper”

August 9th, 2016

mile marker invite

August 25th, 2016 at 6:00 at the Waterfront Pavilion Tent at Mile Marker One Restaurant and Bar, Cape Ann Marina

– to benefit the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives

This dinner was originally scheduled to be on the Jodrey State Fish Pier, but due to changes in the state regulations, we’ve had to change the venue.

Thanks to the great generosity of the Mile Marker Restaurant and Bar, “Sea to Supper” will be a community dinner a mile down the road.  There will be a great menu of local fish, highlighting creative ways to prepare underloved Gloucester landed species.  We’ll talk about efforts to make these diverse species “local” again, perhaps giving fishermen more opportunities to sell their catches right in Gloucester.  Fishermen and their families will be there to answer questions:  – what’s it like to be ground fishing alone in the Gulf of Maine?  Do you ever see sharks?  Does it get lonely?  Do you love it still?

There will be short performances by Lisa Hahn, Gordon Baird, and Henry Cameron Allen.  And don’t forget the dancing! Code Blue, a rock cover band, will start up at 8:30.

$75 per person – to reserve tickets go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sea-to-supper-tickets-27004720847 or call 978-821-1590.

Here’s a peek at the working” menu:

  “Sea to Supper” All Gloucester Seafood Dinner 

to start:

Gloucester-landed Dab Ceviche served with Ryan & Woods Rum Cocktail

Pan Seared Redfish Baja Style Tacos served with Cape Ann Brewery’s freshest brew

Fried Glocuester Whiting “Fish and Chips” with Fennel Remoulade 

“Sasquatch” Smoked  Hake Pate served with Wood Wheat Whiskey  

second course:

Grilled Gloucester Whiting with Tomatoes and Arugula, Lemon and pinenuts  

third course:

“Cape Ann Bouillabaisse”

-Assorted Local Fish and Shellfish in Lobster-Tomato Broth

dessert

Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Tiramisu

Summer Means Whiting in Ipswich Bay

July 21st, 2016

 steamer

 

Many people reading this blog will say whiting is old news. And it is; the whiting fishery in Gloucester was once so important that many families made a living fishing nothing but Gulf of Maine shrimp in the winter and whiting in the summer. They didn’t even bother with ground fish; shrimp and whiting provided a comfortable enough living for a fisherman’s family. Gloucester whiting went directly to the Fulton Fish Market in New York City, where vendors from New York and Philadelphia purchased almost all of it. Jewish cultures smoke it and serve it with bagels; the Spanish split it, grill it, and drizzle it with olive oil. In Sicily whiting is considered a definitive delicacy and sells for many euros a pound.

I spoke to Gloucester fisherman Al Cottone, Executive Director Gloucester Fisheries Commission, at the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives offices after his fourth day fishing for whiting. A strapping, dark-haired 50 years old, Cottone confessed he was beat. He’s not used to the unrelenting action fishing for whiting demands anymore.
Cottone has been fishing since he was 17, and has never had any other kind of work. But his ground fish quota this year, allocated by NOAA, was pared down to almost nothing: Cottone is allowed to catch 1,800 pounds of cod, 2,800 pounds of dabs, 3,000 pounds of grey sole, and 2,400 pounds of yellow tail flounder for the year. He has been ground fishing two times since the season began, when the allocations were announced in early March. In just two “tows,” meaning two drops of the net – that means ground fishing for four hours in total – he landed 700 pounds of grey sole, 600 pounds of dabs, and 300 pounds of yellow tail. In four hours of fishing he landed 1/4 of his quota for the year.

This means two things: Cottone cannot catch enough fish to make a living, unless he begins leasing quota from other fishermen, which has added costs. (Cottone says that many fishermen are so fed up, or they are just leasing their allocated quota to the few fishermen left, and finding other work.) It also means Cottone is out of shape; he just hasn’t had enough fishing practice recently.
But Cottone loves fishing for whiting.

“I fell in love with it immediately. Fishing for whiting is constant work; it’s constant action. You’re moving constantly, fishing the whole time. There’s no time to eat, no time to do anything, and you fish everyday.”

Ground fishing is long tows that take a couple of hours each. Fishing for whiting means short tows that take an hour at most. As soon as the catch is landed on the deck the other partner begins sorting the catch, while the net goes down again. Whiting fishing requires two men, one to run the boat and tows, the other to sort the catch. Most ground fishing these days is done solo, a particularly dangerous situation.
Cottone fished for whiting on the FV Razzo with Captain Joe Randazzo for four days. They did three tows, and landed 6,000 pounds the first day, 7,500 the second, and 6,000 the third, Thursday, the last day, rough seas limited the catch to 4,500 pounds. NOAA allows 7,500 pounds of whiting per day per boat. Ipswich Bay, where Cottone was fishing, is teaming with whiting.

The whiting first show up in the middle of June. Cottone says he doesn’t know where they come from. When they disappear in October, they are gone – just gone – until the following June.

“When I started fishing,” Cottone said, “we would only fish for ground fish in the spring. We fished whiting from June to November, and Gulf of Maine shrimp all winter. Now the shrimp fishery is gone.”

And whiting in Gloucester is news again. When the Fulton Fish Market in New York closed down in its old site, the Gloucester whiting market lost its market, and the fishery faded away. Now, with the ground fish quota so spare, and the whiting fishery so healthy, fishermen are pairing up to go for whiting again.
But it’s a grind, Cottone reminds. And most of the fishermen left, the ones who just can’t stop fishing, are not young. With all the ground fish conflicts and closures of the last twenty years, a generation has been lost. John Sanfilippo, 70, and his brother-in-law Joe Orlando, 62, are the ones out there in Ipswich Bay beside the “Razzo,” dropping nets and sorting fish on the FV San Pio.

Captain Joe Orlando

John Sanfilippo on boat

 

“I don’t know how they do it,” Cottone says.

 

Whiting are sorted in three sizes, small, large and king, the last of which are usually more valuable.

sorting the catch

king whiting

 

Maybe it is the light texture and super-mild flavor, but Italians consider whiting health food. One Gloucester fisherman’s wife even believed it should be sold commercially as baby food. In the past month I have poached it in an infused olive oil, and served it over crispy paella. I have fried it so the skin is very crispy and served it with a fermented sofrito sauce. I have dusted it in flour, fried it, and served it with the cool, spicy Portuguese molho vilhao sauce – lots of diced raw onion, chilis and white vinegar. I have dipped it in vodka, rolled it in cornstarch and flour, and fried it to super-crispy. I served that with a black garlic, hoisin style sauce. I also prepared a winning recipe for whiting from a seafood throw down last season, Common Crow chefs’ recipe for whiting in lettuce cups with rice noodles and peanut sauce.

Danielle Glantz, from Pasta via Corta, the new cheese and pasta shop in Gloucester, gave me a recipe for steaming it in grape leaves, and serving the whiting with a lemon and olive-cured black olive salsa. Angela Sanfilippo would say that fresh whiting is so delicate and delicious that doing the least to it is the best way: dust small whiting lightly in flour and fry them or steam them and dress with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. Maybe garlic.  Versatility, thy name is “whiting.”

simple fried whiting

crispy fried whiting

But here’s the thing. Currently, New York is the only market receiving whiting. I wrote this blog in the first week of July. This week, July 11th, Joe Orlando was heading out fishing and the New York market called him to say, “don’t go.” The whiting market was flooded, and the price was down to pennies. So the boats returned to the dock, while people in Gloucester who would love this fresh, seasonal catch, can’t get it. These are the complex vagaries of the fishing industry today.

But I am going to leave you with the Rung McLean’s recipe for Thai Fish Cups.  Chefs Rung McClean and Mark Delaney of the Common Crow Natural Food Market, Gloucester, MA, took home the seafood throw down win with this ravishing Thai inspired dish: steamed delicate whiting, a nest of rice noodles, nestle into a burst of Boston lettuce leaves. A sweet-hot Thai chili-peanut dressing is spooned over the fish, and a cool watermelon/fennel salad, dressed in a purple-basil vinegar dressing, is spooned beside.

McClean wrapped the whole whiting in foil, and steamed it while she prepped the sauce, noodles, and greens. Any small to medium whole white fish could be used the same way, like pollock, haddock, hake or even halibut.  This is a light, fresh recipe that uses a lot of local produce, and it includes all the flavors no one can refuse.  As watermelon comes into the markets, the salad alone is great recipe to have on hand.

 

Thai Whiting Cups

Thai Fish Cups
prepared at the Cape Ann Farmers’ Market Seafood Throwdown, August, 2015
Serves 6

For the Fish:
2 whole king whiting, or 3-4 pounds other whole fish or 2-3 pounds fillets (If you can find medium-sized whole fish that’s great.  But you can steam fillets in the foil also.)
olive oil for rubbing
salt and pepper
6 fennel fronds

For the sauce:
6 Thai chilies, seeds and ribs removed, diced small
2 red bell peppers diced small
5 cloves of garlic crushed, and made into a paste
11/2 cups sugar
11/2 cups rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup crushed peanuts

For the salad:
2 tablespoons purple basil vinegar (or herb vinegar of your choice)
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 large fennel bulb thinly sliced
1 seedless watermelon either red or yellow diced small
1 lb. arugula

1/2 pound white rice noodles or brown rice vermicelli

1 fluffy head Boston Lettuce
1 bunch Thai Basil
1 bunch cilantro
For the fish:
1. Rinse and scale the whole whiting. Lightly score both sides. Rub both sides and cavity with olive oil, salt and pepper. In the cavity place fennel fronds. Loosely wrap fish in tin foil, almost tent-like, so the fish will steam inside the foil (- much like fish cooked in parchment paper en papillote style). Place foil package over a medium-high grill or place in a 400 degree oven. Roast for 20 minutes, or peek, opening up the foil, and checking to see that the meat is cooked through completely. If done, open foil package to stop the steaming, and allow the fish to cool slightly. When ready to serve, take forks and pull away large chunks of fish, discarding the skin. Set 2-3 large chunks (about 1/4 pound in total) upon the lettuce leaves, and continue with the plate.

For the sauce:
1. In a medium bowl combine all ingredients and reserve.

For the salad:
1. Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a glass measuring cup. Toss fennel, watermelon and arugula together in a large bowl, and coat lightly with vinaigrette.

For the Noodles:
Prepare as directed on package. Rinse, and set aside.

Garnish:
1 bunch Thai Basil
1 bunch cilantro

To Assemble the Dish:
1. Place a large Boston lettuce leaf or two on each plate. Set on that a portion of cooked rice noodles, a portion of steamed fish, draping all in the sauce. Place a portion of the watermelon/fennel/arugula salad beside the greens, and garnish with a few basil and cilantro leaves and a pinch more of the crushed peanuts.

Gloucester Fisherman’s Wife Seafood Casserole

July 3rd, 2016

GFWA cass

 

The fishing industry today has copious layers obscuring its comprehension (which some people view as intentional; if no one understands what’s going on, they can’t protest the regulations), starting with quotas and ending in catch shares. Fishing policy is byzantine and often seems contradictory, resulting in a cloud of thought hovering over the average consumer’s brain that looks like this at the fish counter:

I should eat fish because it’s good for me, but local fish is so expensive. But everyone says I shouldn’t eat cheap imported fish. But there are fish, specifically wild salmon, on the USDA food pyramid. The USDA is telling me to eat more fish, at the same time the government tells me that the fishing industry is dying. All kinds of people say that salmon is packed with omega 3‘s, and I should be eating lots of it. But not farmed salmon. Is salmon not fish?!

Leaving a salmon discussion out of it for now, no one understands anymore what fish to eat, or who are the good and bad guys in the fishing story. Sadly, since the 1990’s, the narrative being told throughout the media was so simple a kindergartner could understand it: the fishermen fish too much, and that’s why there are no fish left.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently held a two day workshop in Gloucester, a workshop called “Local Food Local Places,” created to help cities improve their local food systems. Historically Gloucester’s most important local food, fish, headlined the conversation. The participants at the workshop struggled to chart ideas for innovating the local fishing market in Gloucester. Those ideas will result in a report that Jason Espie, who directed the workshop on behalf of the EPA, will create. That report will be delivered to the White House.

Just weeks before St. Peter’s Festival and the blessing of the fleet, the fishermen in attendance at the workshop looked tired and depressed, as if they had seen all this before. They had attended too many meetings and tried to fight too many losing battles, and were still being defeated by government policies based on that much too simple, way too consumable tale: fishermen fish too much, and are destroying the ocean.

At the workshop, describing this battle to the other attendants, fisherman Joe Orlando told the story of how his own daughter once came home from Gloucester elementary school crying, accusing her father, who comes from generations of fishermen, of destroying the ocean. Again, a story so simple a kindergartner can understand it.  David Pierce, then Director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, had asked a room full of Gloucester school children how many believed over-fishing had destroyed the ocean; 90% of the children raised their hands.

Angela Sanfilippo, the daughter of a fishermen, the wife of a fisherman, and Joe Orlando’s sister, also participated in the EPA workshop.  Sanfilippo has been the outspoken and influential president of the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association since 1977. From the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association Cookbook, written by Susan Pollack, here is a list of what Sanfilippo had accomplished by the time the book was published in 2010:

“On Angela’s watch, among other accomplishment, the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association has helped bring about improved safety standards on US vessels, the end of ocean dumping, a ban on destructive factory trawlers, the first subsidized health plan for fishermen (upon which the Affordable Care Act was based), and a marine sanctuary at Stellwagen Bank.”

This is just the beginning of a long, rich story that disproves the short narrative about which those school children were surveyed.

I recently heard another daughter of a commercial fishermen, Emily Peterson of the podcast Sharp & Hot, say, “ like any other species, the best way to keep fish alive is to harvest and eat them.”

It is possible, as Angela SanFilippo is proving, to be a fishermen and the ocean’s best partner.

Watch for actions that resulted from the Local Food-Local Places workshop soon, but in the meantime, seek out local fish in the market, demand local fish at your favorite restaurant – even if it does cost a little more. You will be reminded of what honestly fresh fish tastes like and you will be rewarded in deliciousness; you will ask why you ever settled for “refreshed” (read: frozen) imported fish.

Lastly, greet your local fishermen with kindness, and stop accepting that suspiciously simplistic fish tale.

Here is a rich, delicious recipe from Angela; make it if you can with local lobster and scallops. If you can’t find USA wild caught shrimp, which I have been able to purchase frozen in Stop & Shop, simply omit the shrimp and make this with equal parts lobster and scallops; it’s even better that way. This recipe is also delicious, Angela says, made with monkfish cut into 1” chunks. Don’t scream, but I have been cooking with sea robin fillets recently, a fish the French feature in their most traditional bouillabaisse. They would be great here, as would layered dabs or flounder.

cass on table

Fishermen’s Wives Seafood Casserole

serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter + butter to rub in the dish

1 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh red chile (or 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes)

1/2 -3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

pinch of salt

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes

1/2 can (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes

1 1/2 cups plain breadcrumbs (or Panko)

1 cup grated Romano cheese

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound fresh lobster meat (cooked)

3/4 pound raw scallops, rinsed, patted dry, and halved if very large

3/4 pound cooked shrimp, halved if large, preferably wild caught in the USA

Instructions:

  1.  Rub a medium size, approximately 2 quart, glass or ceramic baking dish generously with butter. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Heat a large saute pan to medium heat, and add olive oil and butter. When butter is melted, add onion and cook until almost transparent, about 10 minutes. (Lower heat if onion is browning too quickly.) Add garlic, and cook for 5 more minutes. Add chiles, parsley and salt, and cook until onions begin to brown. Add tomatoes and let the dish cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until the tomatoes have lost their raw taste.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl mix together the breadcrumbs, cheese, and black pepper. In a separate bowl toss the seafood together. When the tomatoes mixture is cooked, add the breadcrumbs into the pan and gently stir together. The mixture will thicken. Toss that into the seafood bowl, and combine all together well. (Use your hands if that works best. The mixture will be stiff.) Pour into the prepared dish, distributing evenly. Pat down to even out the top as best you can. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the dish is bubbling at the edges and bits on the top are slightly browned. This dish is actually a little more flavorful when allowed to cool slightly.

Rockport’s Midsommar Festival!

June 17th, 2016

swedish-midsummer

The Annual Midsommar Festival is being held by Spiran Lodge #98 on Saturday, June 25 from 11 AM to 2 PM at Spiran Hall at the corner of Broadway and School St. in Rockport.  Nisu and scandinavian pasteries, Swedish meatballs, strawberries and cream, hot dogs and Swedish hamburgers, and Scandinavian gifts will be available.  Entertainment will be provided by the Finnish folk singing group HYVAA.  Come and enjoy a taste of Nordic culture to start summer 2016.

This photo is Sweden, not Rockport, but you get the idea.