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THE AMERICAN Lighthouse COOKBOOKThe Best Recipes and Stories from America's Shorelines
By BECKY SUE EPSTEIN ED JACKSON
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2009 Becky Sue Epstein and Ed Jackson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneNORTHEAST ATLANTIC REGION
The Northeast was home to the first lighthouses in America. These first lights were nothing more than lanterns hung on tall sticks at the mouths of harbors in the evenings. But by the beginning of the 1700s, sailors and sea captains were petitioning for permanent lighthouses, and from 1749 on, the government (initially the British empire) began designing and building them at critical points on the seacoast.
When the Revolutionary War began in 1775, construction ceased. In some cases, British soldiers retreated to the lighthouses and held them as bastions of the empire against the colonists. In others, Crown soldiers left as early as 1776-taking the lighting equipment with them and burning the lighthouses as they fled.
When peace came, shipping routes that were made safe by lighthouses also provided keepers and their families with imported spices, such as pepper, ginger, sugar, and molasses. But foods shipped in were often costlier than locally farmed produce, and they were used sparingly by thrifty Yankees.
While some seasonal vegetables and greens tended to be eaten as they ripened, the settlers had to pickle or can surplusvegetables like green beans, cauliflower, beets, and cabbage. In every household, summer fruits were preserved for the long winter. Often, fall fruits and root vegetables-most commonly apples, blueberries, carrots, onions, parsnips, potatoes, and turnips-were stored safely for months in dark, naturally cooled earthen cellars.
New England's climate, which is similar to that of England and Holland, provides a short growing season that was familiar to the early settlers and colonists. Native American foods, such as corn and beans, became staples of the New England diet. From the cool ocean waters, there was plenty of cod, haddock, and lobster, along with delicate oysters, shrimp, crab, and scallops.
Two to three hundred years later, immigrants from more southern climates brought a wealth of new foods, recipes, and cooking techniques to standard New England fare. Notably, the Portuguese and Italians introduced their Mediterranean flavors, with herbs and tomatoes added to seafood dishes. From plain, boiled foods, New Englanders' menus slowly evolved to include rich chowders, kale and sausage soup, pizza and pasta, herbed and grilled seafood and game, and even desserts with a touch of lemon or lavender.
Matinicus Rock Lighthouse MATINICUS, MAINE
First constructed in 1827, the twin lighthouse towers sit on a rock island six miles out to sea from Matinicus Island, which is itself twenty miles from Rockland, Maine. During the severe winter storms of 1856, lighthouse keeper Captain Samuel Burgess left one morning for Matinicus Island to obtain supplies for his large family, expecting to return that evening. Storms trapped him onshore for more than a month, during which time his fourteen-year-old daughter, Abbie Burgess, heroically kept the lights in both towers burning. The young girl's bravery was immortalized in the poem "Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie," which is studied by schoolchildren to this day.
Abbie also kept the rest of her family fed by rescuing their chickens moments before the coop was swept into the sea under the forty-foot waves that ravaged the tiny island. After moving out of the keepers' cottage and into the relative safety of the lighthouse tower, Abbie and her family subsisted on daily rations of an egg and a cup of cornmeal until her father returned with more supplies.
Early Spring Dinner
This is a modernized menu for a spring meal that takes advantage of the first greens to appear. The menu is influenced by the Italians who immigrated to various East Coast cities and then moved north to settle in the Portland area. Seafood is plentiful year-round, and when the earth warms and is nourished by melted snow, new greens, such as ramps and spring onions, start to appear in the forests and fields. Rhubarb and asparagus, two of the first vegetables of the season, are celebrated in this menu.
Salt Cod Fritters and Homemade Ketchup
Boiled Lobster with Melted Butter
Baked Potatoes with Smoked Salmon, Spring Onions, Capers, and Hand-Packed Ricotta Cheese
Sautéed Fiddlehead Ferns and Asparagus
SALT COD FRITTERS AND HOMEMADE KETCHUP
Salt cod has been the staple of every seafaring people for centuries. This is a different spin on a classic.
2 MEDIUM RUSSET POTATOES, PEELED AND CUBED (ABOUT 1 POUND) 2 TEASPOONS SALT, DIVIDED 2 SLICES BACON, DICED 1 TABLESPOON VEGETABLE OIL 1/4 CUP DICED ONION 1/4 CUP DICED CELERY 8 OUNCES PREPARED SALT COD (RECIPE FOLLOWS) 4 EGGS, BEATEN, DIVIDED 1/4 CUP CHOPPED FRESH PARSLEY 1 CUP ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR 1 CUP PANKO BREAD CRUMBS 1/2 TEASPOON FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER, DIVIDED VEGETABLE SHORTENING, FOR FRYING HOMEMADE KETCHUP, FOR DIPPING (SEE RECIPE ON PAGE 6)
1. Put the potatoes in a pot with 1 teaspoon salt and cover with cold water. Boil until they can be easily pierced with a fork. When finished, strain and put through a ricer or food mill.
2. While potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Sauté bacon for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onions and celery to the bacon and sauté for 10 minutes, or until tender.
3. Combine the potatoes, cod, bacon, 2 eggs, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into a bowl and stir with a spoon. Form cod mixture into 1-inch balls for fritters.
4. Put the flour, remaining 2 eggs, and bread crumbs into 3 separate shallow dishes. Season each with remaining salt and pepper.
5. Pick up each fritter, dust it in the flour, dip it in the egg mixture, and finally dredge it in the bread crumbs, shaking off the excess after each step. Place fritters on a rack, cover and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes before frying.
6. Preheat the oven to 200�F. Fritters may need to be fried in batches, and they should be kept warm.
7. Heat 1/2 inch vegetable shortening in a heavy pot over medium-high heat to 360�F.
8. Place fritters into hot oil. Do not overcrowd. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, turning over once, until golden brown on both sides.
9. Drain on a rack. Place in a warm oven while the balance of the fritters are being fried. Serve hot with homemade ketchup.
YIELD: 20-25 fritters
PREPARATION TIME: 15-20 minutes
COOKING TIME: 25-30 minutes for the potatoes, 10-12 minutes for the bacon and vegetables, and 2-3 minutes per batch for the fritters
Note: This dish requires the cod to be soaked for 3 days.
6 OUNCES SALT COD 2 CUPS MILK 1 BAY LEAF 2 SPRIGS FRESH PARSLEY 4 WHOLE CLOVES
1. Put the cod into a bowl and cover with water. Cover dish with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3 days, changing the water each day. This will remove most of the salt.
2. Pour the milk, bay leaf, parsley, and cloves into a pot along with the cod. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cod is tender. Remove the cod from pot, and discard milk, bay leaf, parsley, and cloves.. Allow cod to cool. Pick through the cod, removing any skin and bones. Break the cod into small pieces.
YIELD: About 8 ounces prepared cod
PREPARATION TIME: Less than 5 minutes
SOAKING TIME: 3 days
COOKING TIME: 20-25 minutes
Note: Ketchup will keep for up to 10 days in refrigerator.
1 (15-OUNCE) CAN DICED TOMATOES 1/4 CUP APPLE CIDER VINEGAR 1/4 CUP MOLASSES 1/4 TEASPOON GARLIC POWDER 1/4 TEASPOON CELERY SEED 1 TEASPOON SALT PINCH GROUND ALLSPICE PINCH FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
1. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 40 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and purée in a blender.
3. Return to pot and simmer until reduced and very thick. Stir frequently to avoid burning.
4. Cool. Tightly cover and refrigerate.
YIELD: 3/4-1 cup
PREPARATION TIME: 10 minutes
COOKING TIME: 2 hours total
BOILED LOBSTER WITH MELTED BUTTER
With a delicacy like lobster, keep things simple-use just enough melted butter to enrich the experience. Nutcrackers and cocktail forks are a must.
4 LIVE MAINE LOBSTERS (ABOUT 1 1/4-1 1/2 POUNDS EACH) SEA SALT 1 POUND MELTED BUTTER
1. You will need a pot large enough to easily hold all the lobsters. A pot used for canning is great. If a pot that large is not available, use 2 smaller pots.
2. Fill pot or pots two-thirds full with water, and add 1/4 cup sea salt for each gallon of water. Cover and bring to a rolling boil.
3. Grasp each lobster by hand or with tongs, and plunge head first into water. Repeat for all.
4. Cover and start timing when water returns to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes. The lobsters will be bright red.
5. Remove from water and place in a colander to drain for several minutes.
6. Serve with melted butter.
YIELD: 4 servings
COOKING TIME: 15 minutes
BAKED POTATOES WITH SMOKED SALMON, SPRING ONIONS, CAPERS, AND HAND-PACKED RICOTTA CHEESE
Use hand-packed ricotta if you can find it. It is smooth and creamy.
4 RUSSET POTATOES 2 TABLESPOONS VEGETABLE OIL 8 OUNCES SMOKED SALMON, CHOPPED 4 TABLESPOONS DICED SPRING ONIONS (USE SCALLIONS IF SPRING ONIONS ARE NOT AVAILABLE) 4 TEASPOONS CAPERS, RINSED 1 CUP HAND-PACKED RICOTTA CHEESE
1. Preheat the oven to 400�F.
2. Rub the potatoes with the oil. Bake until easily pierced with a fork, about 60 to 70 minutes.
3. While potatoes are baking, fold together the salmon, onions, capers, and ricotta. Place in refrigerator until ready to use or up to two hours.
4. Remove the potatoes from oven and split down the middle. Pinch the sides to open them up. Divide the ricotta mixture equally among each, and serve.
YIELD: 4 servings
PREPARATION TIME: 10 minutes
BAKING TIME: 60-70 minutes
SAUTÉED FIDDLEHEAD FERNS AND ASPARAGUS
Two of spring's earliest vegetables, these are at their best when they are very new and freshly picked. The butter will give you a wonderful sauce.
1 POUND FIDDLEHEAD FERNS 1 POUND ASPARAGUS 3 TABLESPOONS VEGETABLE OIL 2 SHALLOTS, DICED (ABOUT 1/4 CUP) 1/2 CUP CHICKEN STOCK 2 TABLESPOONS BUTTER ZEST OF 1 LEMON 1 1/2 TEASPOONS SALT 1/2 TEASPOON FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
1. Wash the fiddlehead ferns by placing them in a bowl, covering them with water, and gently agitating them. Remove the ferns from the water and trim any discolored ends.
2. Trim the tough ends of the asparagus and cut them into 1-inch pieces.
3. Heat pan over medium heat and add oil.
4. Sauté the shallots for 5 minutes, or until tender. Toss in the asparagus and ferns and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If the asparagus is thick, add it first and cook for 5 minutes, and then add the fiddleheads and continue to cook for 10 minutes.)
5. Pour in the stock and simmer for 5 minutes, until the asparagus gives a little when pinched. Stir in the butter, zest, salt, and pepper.
YIELD: 6-8 servings
PREPARATION TIME: 10 minutes
COOKING TIME: 15-20 minutes
Rhubarb is the first fruit (a vegetable, really) of the spring that you can sink your teeth into. Turn it into crisps, pandowdies, or pies. The flavors in this pie will make you wish it was bottomless.
6 CUPS CUBED RHUBARB 2 CUPS SUGAR 1 TABLESPOON VERY FINELY CHOPPED FRESH, OR 1 TEASPOON DRIED, ROSEMARY 1/2 TEASPOON GROUND CARDAMOM 1/2 TEASPOON GROUND NUTMEG 1/2 CUP QUICK-COOKING TAPIOCA 1/4 CUP WATER 1 (9-INCH) PIE CRUST (RECIPE FOLLOWS), PREBAKED 2 TABLESPOONS BUTTER, CUT INTO 8 PIECES 2 CUPS CRISP TOPPING (RECIPE FOLLOWS)
1. Preheat the oven to 350�F.
2. Mix together the rhubarb, sugar, rosemary, cardamom, nutmeg, and tapioca in a pot. Add water and simmer for 20 minutes, until the sugar has melted.
3. Pour the rhubarb mixture into the pie crust. Dot with butter. Cover with Crisp Topping.
4. Place pie on a foil-covered baking sheet and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Cover with foil during the last 30 minutes.
YIELD: 6-8 servings
PREPARATION TIME: 10-15 minutes
COOKING TIME: 20-25 minutes on the stovetop, and 50-60 minutes in the oven
1 1/2 CUPS ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR 1/8 TEASPOON SALT 3/4 CUP SHORTENING, COLD 1/3 CUP COLD WATER
1. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl and cut the shortening into the flour with 2 knives or a pastry blender, until the mixture is in clumps the size of peas. Gradually add the water and blend together.
2. Form the pie dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3. Lightly flour work surface. Roll out the pie dough to be 1 inch larger than the pie plate. Fold the dough over rolling pin and place in the pie plate. Unfold to cover the entire plate. Fold the extra dough under, and crimp the edges.
4. With a fork, poke holes in the bottom of the crust, and place in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 450�F. Take the pie crust from the refrigerator, line the bottom with foil, and fill it with dried beans or rice. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove the pie crust from the oven, remove the foil and beans, and let cool on a rack.
YIELD: 1 (9-inch) pie crust
PREPARATION TIME: 15-20 minutes
REFRIGERATION TIME: 40 minutes
BAKING TIME: 20 minutes
1 CUP ROLLED OATS 1/2 CUP BROWN SUGAR 1/2 CUP ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR 4 TABLESPOONS BUTTER, MELTED
1. Combine all the ingredients.
YIELD: 2 cups
PREPARATION TIME: 5 minutes
Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse NEW CASTLE, NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the 1600s, this area was known as Strawberry Bank because the hillside was thick with wild strawberries. Although the berries are not still part of the landscape, a restored Colonial village in this location is now called Strawberry Banke.
The first lighthouse here was established in 1771, before the colonies had separated from Britain. The current lighthouse was built in 1878. It was automated in 1960, and several of the original buildings have since been restored.
Early keepers who lived here relied on what they called "Indian corn" as a staple, but they could get into town for fresh meat, as this is the only lighthouse in New Hampshire built on the mainland. Perhaps that's why it was visited by many early political heroes, including General Lafayette, George Washington, and Daniel Webster. Today, the site is accessible only on rare open-house days, but you can see it from the water on tour boats that depart from Portsmouth.
Fall has just begun. The last of the corn is made into chowder. Turnips, apples, and squash are still fresh from the farms. As it has been for centuries, striped bass is just offshore. It's time for supper.
Corn Chowder Mashed Turnips Baked Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Maple Syrup Roast Striped Bass With Onion and Fennel Upside-Down Apple Pandowdy
To ensure that this soup is at its fullest flavor, buy fresh corn and use it the same day. Corn begins to lose flavor and sweetness as soon as it is picked.
2 TABLESPOONS VEGETABLE OIL 4 SLICES BACON, DICED 1 CLOVE GARLIC, DICED 1 ONION, DICED 1 CUP CHOPPED CHANTERELLE MUSHROOMS 3 CUPS CHICKEN STOCK 3/4 POUND YUKON GOLD POTATOES, DICED 2 1/2 CUPS CORN KERNELS (ABOUT 5 EARS) 1 CUP HEAVY CREAM 2 CUPS WHOLE MILK 1 TEASPOON SALT 1/4 TEASPOON FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER 1/4 CUP CHOPPED BASIL 1/2 CUP GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE (ABOUT 2 OUNCES)
1. Heat oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Sauté bacon for 3-5 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, onion, and mushrooms, and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Mix in the stock and potatoes. Bring stock to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes.
4. Stir in the corn and cook for 5 minutes.
5. Reduce heat and add the cream, milk, salt, and pepper. Heat gently, making sure that the stock does not boil.
6. Serve in warm bowls. Garnish with basil and Parmesan cheese.
Note: If you wish to avoid using any dairy products, the soup can be thickened by puréeing an additional 1 cup of corn and adding it back in to the soup.
YIELD: 8-10 servings
PREPARATION TIME: 20-25 minutes
COOKING TIME: 30-35 minutes
Excerpted from THE AMERICAN Lighthouse COOKBOOK by BECKY SUE EPSTEIN ED JACKSON Copyright © 2009 by Becky Sue Epstein and Ed Jackson. Excerpted by permission.
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