Wild&Delicious Spins on Your Favorite Comfort Food
You haven't lived until you've tried French fries with brown gravy and two different kinds of cheese. Or better yet, taste jalapeños stuffed with goat cheese and ricotta. Oh, add pasta with seared scallops, red pastrami and marsala cream to the list. These are just some of the crazy delicious comfort food recipes Chef Altiero Kerry and Katherine Gaudet have up their sleeves.
Adventures in Comfort Food takes ordinary dishes like wontons, salad and lasange and turns them into Wontons From Spaaaace, Hot. Dressed. Salad. and Sorta Lasange. Other concoctions include:
-FBOM (Fabulous Bowl of Meat)
-New Age Chowder
-Lobster Mac 'N Cheese
-Polenta Pizza Casserole
-Smoked Meat Loaf
-Seared Scallops in Asian Sauce
-Oven-Roasted Fish Tacos
-Pierogies á la Pink Plate
Each recipe has a unique spin that takes the flavor to new levels of greatness for you and your family. With one-of-a-kind recipes throughout, this book is a surefire way to have your dinner guests talking about your food and coming back for more. So if you're looking to make yourself stand out in the kitchen, don't hold back with the amazing recipes in this book.
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About the Author
Kerry Altiero is the chef and owner of Cafe Miranda, an edgy yet intimate multi-cuisine restaurant in Rockland, Maine. Kerry and the restaurant have been awarded numerous honors, including Lobster Chef of the Year and Best Farm to Table Restaurant. Kerry lives in Owls Head, Maine.
Katherine Gaudet works at the University of New Hampshire and is a freelance writer and editor. She lives with her husband and daughter in Saco, Maine.
Foreword by Melissa Kelly, the chef/owner of Primo restaurant and two-time winner of the James Beard Best Chef award.
Read an Excerpt
Adventures in Comfort Food
Incredible, Delicious and New Recipes from a Unique, Small-Town Restaurant
By Kerry Altiero, Katherine Gaudet, Stacey Cramp
Page Street Publishing Co.Copyright © 2014 Kerry Altiero with Katherine Gaudet
All rights reserved.
The start of a meal is a wonderful thing. It's when you leave the rest of your day behind and tuck in for an evening of food, drink and conversation. The recipes in this chapter are about that glow of anticipation. They are built on strong, bright flavors and surprising combinations, unique enough to be conversation pieces themselves. You'll find the beginnings of all kinds of evenings in these pages. The Warm Zucchini Antipasto requires only the gentlest poaching of zucchini and bit of tomato chopping to start off a graceful summer meal; I Dreamt of Jerry is a spicy, meaty bowl to shovel in at the end of a long day. Try the Thai-spiced flavor bomb we call Beef Groce, the samosa-like Wontons from Spaaaace, the Mexican-inspired stuffed peppers of I Had It in Biddeford and the Middle Eastern lamb patties of Sorta Kefta. The best part is, this is just the beginning.
WARM ZUCCHINI ANTIPASTO
This recipe emerged from an off-the-menu request: A diner wanted a warm antipasto. Antonio Cassasanto, my boss at the Swallows in Cape May, came up with this simple, perfect dish. It blew me away then and it still does more than 30 years (and a lot of brain cells) later.
1 decent-size zucchini
1 ripe tomato
6 tbsp/90 ml extra-virgin olive oil (a good fruity one)
Coarsely ground black pepper
Cut the zucchini into quarters from tip to stem, giving you long strips with a cross-section that looks like a pie slice. Cut the tomato into ½-inch/1.5 cm slices.
Put about an inch/2.5 cm of water in a shallow 12-inch/30 cm nonreactive pan, add a good pinch of salt and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat so that the water is simmering.
While the water is heating, place the slices of tomato on a plate and lightly salt them.
Poach the zuke in the simmering water until just barely cooked through. This will take about 5 minutes, but will depend on the size of your slices. The color will intensify; it should be bright, not drab.
Place the poached and warm zukes on top of the tomatoes. Drizzle with the olive oil. Grind the pepper over it.
Enjoy this with Prosecco and a pal: a fine start to a genteel evening.
RED CURRY MUSSELS
The first time I had this dish, when I was working at the Bayberry Inn in Cape May, my boss, Joe Lotozo, said, "If you ever have mussels that are better than this, you gotta tell me." I've never had to tell him. The salt in the fish sauce rips open your taste buds, and the curry flavor rushes in like soldiers when the line breaks. The herbs are fresh and aromatic and the coconut smooths everything out. Mussels are usually pretty good, but in this preparation they are spectacular.
12 oz/355 ml coconut milk 2 tbsp/29 g red curry paste (preferably Maesri brand) 1 lb/454 g mussels, cleaned and debearded 5 basil leaves, Thai if you have it, or a combination of mint and basil 8 sprigs cilantro 1 lime 1 tbsp/15 ml Thai fish sauce, or to taste Some rice or bread for dipping (optional)
Grab a large, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan. First, render some coconut fat: Put 3 tablespoons/45 ml of the coconut milk in the pan. Boil on medium-high heat until the milk stops bubbling, but before it starts smoking; this will only take a minute. Add the curry paste and stir vigorously so that it cooks in the fat briefly; don't brown it. Add the rest of the coconut milk and whisk for 20 seconds or so, until the liquid is an even, deep red. Taste and add more curry paste if you want it spicier.
Add the mussels to the pan and cover. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, occasionally giving them a gentle stir. When most of the mussels have opened, add the basil and stir gently. Let sit for 1 minute, or until you can smell it. Remove from the heat and garnish with the cilantro. Squeeze the lime over the mussels and squirt with plenty of fish sauce. Serve with rice or with bread for dipping.
CHEF'S TIP: Look for green-lipped mussels for this dish, if you can't find Maine mussels. The best are three years old or less. How can you tell? Mussels grow rings every year, like trees, so you can look at the shell and see how many there are. Generally rope-grown mussels are freer of grit. If your mussels are wild or you just want to be safe, purge them first. Cover the shells with cold salted water and add a half-handful of cornmeal. Give it a stir every once in a while. After a couple of hours, the mussels will have eaten the cornmeal and spit out the sand.
FBOM (FABULOUS BOWL OF MEAT)
Like many people who work in kitchens, I occasionally employ the F-Bomb. But believe it or not, the Fabulous Bowl of Meat was on the menu for years before someone pointed out to me that the acronym has another meaning when you say it out loud. As a person who also occasionally likes a pun, I can say that this dish has no need for any extra salt or spice in the name (but hey, it doesn't hurt). It's an ideal appetizer: light, but hearty and super flavorful.
1 ball cellophane mung bean thread or rice vermicelli noodles (about 1 oz/28 g dried noodles
4 tbsp/60 ml vegetable oil
½ Spanish or yellow onion, cut into small dice
2 tbsp/29 g green curry paste (Maesri brand preferred)
1 lb/454 g ground turkey (you can also use ground pork or chicken)
2 to 4 tsp/10 to 20 ml Thai fish sauce
10 big leaves romaine lettuce, washed and dried
2 tbsp/8 g carrot, shredded
¼ cup/33 g red onion, sliced
5 sprigs cilantro
½ lime, cut into wedges
Soak the noodles in cold water until flexible, overnight if possible.
Heat the oil in a 12-inch/30 cm nonreactive skillet over medium heat. Add the Spanish onion and cook slowly until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the curry paste and sauté for 5 minutes, until it smells really good. Add the ground turkey. As the meat cooks, break it up with a potato masher to keep it crumbled. When all the pink is gone, 5 to 8 minutes, remove from the heat and sprinkle with the fish sauce.
Break off the outer leaves of the romaine (keep the core for another purpose). Fan out the leaves in a nice, big, flat-bottomed bowl with shallow sides. You can use a plate; you'll have to change the name of the recipe, though. Place the carrot, red onion, cilantro, lime and rice noodles in piles around the perimeter of the bowl, and put the meat in the middle.
To eat, take a leaf and top it with a bit of everything and a squeeze of lime. Tilt your head in a taco-eating kind of way, and enjoy!
CHEF'S TIP: As with all curry dishes, the curry paste you use matters. The more standard supermarket brands will not give you the powerful, exciting flavor of a good Thai paste. It's worth seeking out the Maesri brand or another high-quality paste (probably featuring a Thai grandmother and no English on the label except the nutrition facts), which you can find in a specialty or Asian market or on the Internet. An extra stop or a Web order might be a little more trouble than going to the supermarket, but certainly easier than making your own curry!
BLUE APPLE APPETIZER
This simple, quick appetizer is the perfect combination of sweet, soft roasted apples, a rich blue cheese cream and fresh green chard. We use the apples from the old trees in the yard at Headacre Farm and the fantastic cider vinegar from Sewall Orchard, one of the oldest organic orchards around. Heirloom apples and quality vinegar will up the impact of this dish, but you can make this with your supermarket varieties, too. For the blue cheese, go ahead and use the cheap crumbles and save the better stuff for a cheese plate.
6 leaves chard, destemmed
1 cup minus 2 tbsp/236 ml heavy cream
4 oz/113 g blue cheese crumbles
2 leaves sage
1 tbsp/15 ml cider vinegar
Coarsely ground black pepper
Focaccia or a good crusty bread
Preheat your oven to 375°F/191°C.
Halve and core the apples. Neat tip: Use a melon baller to scoop out the core. Brush them with olive oil. Place the apples in a 9 ½-inch/24 cm oven-safe casserole dish.
Toss the chard with a little oil and set aside.
Roast the apples until they just start to puff up, 20 to 30 minutes.
Add the cream and cheese; return to the oven. Bake until the sauce will coat a spoon, 5 minutes or so. Add the sage and chard. Continue to cook for a few minutes, until the chard is wilted. Remove from the oven. Drizzle with the vinegar. Grind lots of black pepper over. Wa-la.
Serve with bread to squeegee up all that great sauce. A fave wine pairing from back in the day is Honig Sauvignon Blanc. A perfect "pear."
LOBSTER ON A SHINGLE
The inspiration for this dish began in my Catholic grade school cafeteria. No, they did not serve us lobster. It was something else on a shingle. Many of you may remember the classic diner (and military) dish "Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast." We won't be impersonating that one, but using the idea and turning it into something fabulous. So, here in the Lobster Capital of the World, we make a creamed lobster with tomato, tarragon and wilted greens and serve it over toasted focaccia.
4 (7" x 2"/18 x 5 cm) strips of Focaccia or other substantial bread
6 tbsp/90 ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups/473 ml heavy cream (36% or more fat)
½ tsp fresh garlic, minced
2 tbsp/30 ml fortified wine (dry marsala is good)
½ cup/80 g ripe tomatoes, diced
5 oz/142 g cooked lobster meat, cut into large dice
¼ cup/57 g Romano or Parmesan cheese, grated
4 cups/120 g spinach, stemmed if necessary
1 sprig tarragon
Coarsely ground black pepper
Brush the bread with some of the olive oil and toast in a 350°F/177°C oven, 8 to 10 minutes. It should be golden brown, like toast.
Place the cream, garlic, wine and tomatoes in a 12-inch/30 cm heavy-bottomed, nonreactive pan. On medium heat, simmer to reduce and thicken the cream mixture. (It's fine to boil cream, and it will thicken. This won't work with milk.) Your goal is to end up with about half the volume of the liquid that you started with, which will take 8 minutes or so, depending on how much liquid is in your tomatoes. You are looking for the coat-a-spoon consistency.
Remove the cream mixture from the heat and add the lobster, cheese, spinach and tarragon. Cover. This will warm the lobster, melt the cheese and wilt the greens. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
On a platter or 2 plates, arrange the focaccia strips at the 4 "corners." Pour the lobster mixture in the center. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with pepper.
BRUNCH VARIATION: Poach 4 eggs and place 2 on each plate, on top of the lobster and toast.
CHEF'S TIP: I highly recommend buying cooked fresh lobster meat. The price is well worth it, when you consider the time and effort that goes into picking a lobster. If you are picking your own, you'll get about 3 ounces/85 g of meat from your average 1 ½pound/680 g lobster.
50 MPH TOMATOES
You know how people think Chicago is called the Windy City because it's windy, but it was originally called that because the politicians talked so much? Something similar happened with 50 MPH Tomatoes; this is an extra-zippy dish, and it does fly off the plates, but the name has another origin. A lot of the tomatoes you can get in the winter (and year-round in most supermarkets) have to withstand highway speeds, and so are pretty hard and not as flavorful as we'd wish. This recipe takes advantage of winter tomatoes' firmness, which makes them ideal for frying, and amps up the flavor with a variation on our "Ranch" dressing. They are spicy, crispy and juicy and in demand year-round.
SERVES 1 TO 2
50 MPH DRESSING
½ cup/110 g mayonnaise
1 tbsp/15 g hot pepper relish
2 tsp/10 g sweet relish
½ tsp paprika
Sprinkle cayenne pepper
Coarsely ground black pepper
2 tsp/4 g dried onion or minced fresh onion
2 pinches dried dill
½ cup/85 g cornmeal
A few grinds black pepper
½ lb/227 g tomatoes, cut into 1"/2.5 cm slices
Vegetable oil, for frying
Mix the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
Combine the cornmeal with the salt and pepper in a bowl. Then coat the tomato slices in the mixture.
In a heavy 12-inch/30 cm stainless-steel or cast-iron skillet over medium heat, heat ¼ inch/6 mm of oil; don't let it smoke. Fry the tomatoes for 5 minutes, until golden brown, then flip them and fry until golden on the other side, another 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Smear some dressing on a plate. Don't stack the tomatoes; plate them side by side so that crust you have created so carefully doesn't turn to mush. Sprinkle with scallions and serve.
This dish is as irresistible and addictive as it is hard to categorize. I created it when Susan Groce — artist, professor, violinist and kick-ass cook, among other things — asked me for a low-starch, low-fat, summery and very spicy dish. This dish is all of those things, and so much more. It's a hearty salad of mixed greens and cellophane noodles, with a dressing full of big Thai-inspired flavors and a scattering of beef that's fried until crunchy. It's a true Miranda classic, just like its namesake.
SERVES 1 TO 2
¼ cup/33 g red onion, sliced thinly
2 cups/60 g mixed salad greens, such as mesclun
¼ cup/20 g radicchio, shredded
1 tbsp/10 g cooked unsalted peanuts, chopped
1 tbsp/4 g carrot, shredded
3 tbsp plus 1 tsp/50 ml sambal oelek
1 tbsp/15 ml Thai fish sauce
2 tbsp/30 ml freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ cup/44 g cellophane mung bean thread or rice vermicelli noodles, soaked according to
6 leaves basil
3 tbsp/45 ml vegetable oil
3 oz/85 g shaved steak, chopped into 1"/2.5 cm pieces
4 sprigs cilantro
In a medium bowl, place all the ingredients, except the oil, beef and cilantro.
Heat the oil in a wok or skillet and add the shaved steak. Stir-fry, breaking it up while frying. What you are doing is desiccating the beef, making it crispy, rendering what fat may be in it and flavoring the oil. (Beef-flavored oil! Forget the truffle oil, baby!) This may take 5 to 10 minutes. Get it brown and crispy! When it's there — that is, crispy (hear me yet?) — remove from the heat.
While hot, dump the contents of the wok into the bowl. Toss everything together, plate in an Asian-style bowl, top with the cilantro and serve with chopsticks.
Eat with beer, lots. A Geary's Pale Ale from Portland is a Maine classic and a good choice.
CHEF'S TIP: Sambal oelek (Thai chili-garlic sauce) is widely available in the ethnic aisles of supermarkets, even here in our little fishing village. You'll find the Thai fish sauce and noodles there, too.
GNOCCHI IN SAUCE ROSA
This is a big-time fave of anyone who has tried it. Soft, toothsome gnocchi in a pink, creamy sauce will bring comfort and warmth to any evening. I advise serving this in small portions as an appetizer; it is quite filling.
My recipe is a variation of the traditional potato item. I add more flour to give these Italian dumplings a chewier and more interesting texture. To get a more consistent result, we also use potato flakes.
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
¾ lb/340 g boiled russet potatoes, peeled and well mashed, or prepared potato flakes
(about 1 2/3 cups/140 g), at room temperature
1 lb/454 g all-purpose flour
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp/22 g Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tbsp/2 g fresh parsley, minced
Coarsely ground black pepper
3 cups/612 ml Latex Marinara
2 cups/444 ml heavy cream
½ cup/112 ml dry marsala wine
8 leaves basil
To make the gnocchi, mix all the ingredients together to form a dough. If it's too wet to handle, you can add more flour, but keep it as wet as you can. Turn onto a lightly floured board. Shape the mixture into a rope ¾ inch/2 cm in diameter (remember your Play-Doh days?). Cut it into 1-inch/2.5 cm sections. Push your thumb into each to make an indentation in the center. You want it to be about the same thickness all the way through, and you don't want it too thick or you'll end up with lead balloons instead of potato pillows.
Boil a pot of water and cook the gnocchi until they float and are consistently textured throughout. This can take from 5 to 15 minutes, so check on them a few times. Drain and toss in olive oil. You should have 2 cups/240 g of cooked gnocchi.
Excerpted from Adventures in Comfort Food by Kerry Altiero, Katherine Gaudet, Stacey Cramp. Copyright © 2014 Kerry Altiero with Katherine Gaudet. Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
SOUPS AND SALADS,
VEGETABLES AND SIDES,
BREAD, PIZZA AND SANDWICHES,
ABOUT THE AUTHORS,