Looking for something to take to a party? How about a little (real) Clam Dip?
Start by softening up an 8 oz. block of cream cheese to room temperature. When it is soft enough to work, whip it with a fork and gradually add a cup of sour cream. Then add one or two cans of minced clams (drained but with a little juice left in them). Be careful not to add too much juice as your dip will be too thin. Season with a shake or two of salt and lots of fresh ground pepper. Traditionally, the recipe calls for a tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce and a dash of Tabasco; I wouldn't skip this tradition. But you can add any or all of the following: a tablespoon of lemon juice, finely minced garlic, parsley and/or chopped green onion. Put your dip in a dish with a tightly sealing lid and store in the fridge overnight to allow the flavors to develop.
Serve with potato chips or try the old Maine way - spread on saltine crackers!
Cole Slaw is served year round in every diner and fish restaurant in Maine and is an old picnic and barbecue favorite.
Pare a couple carrots and peel a large onion. Peel off the outer leaves of a head of cabbage and, if it is large, cut it in half. Save one half for a later batch or use for another recipe. Very thinly slice the cabbage and onion and grate the carrot on a hand grater. Or, if you'd rather, grate the cabbage, too, but not the onion as it just goes to mush. You might use a food processor for the job.
To make a tangy dressing, mix a couple of tablespoons of your favorite mustard with 1/4 - 1/2 a cup of vinegar and 1 to 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise. Add a teaspoon of celery seeds and one of sugar. Season with a salt and pepper. Mix the dressing and the slaw in a large bowl. Chill before serving. Goes great with beans, potato salad and fish or barbecued meat. Stores well in a sealed plastic container in the refrigerator.
I add red pepper flakes and minced garlic to my cole slaw. Chopped apples are a nice flavor addition, too. Sometimes I use purple cabbage for a startling effect.
Corn Relish is a great condiment to have at a cookout to dress up your burgers and dogs, but it is also great on baked beans or to dress up a winter salad. I make up a quart every summer and it just about lasts us until the next sweet corn season. It's easy to make and keeps well in the back of your fridge without processing. You could do it up in quantity and process it in a canner for unrefridgerated storage.
First, cut the kernels off several ears of corn - you'll need about 3-4 cups. You can use cooked corn on the cob leftovers or raw corn. Chop up a rib of celery, half a large onion and half a green and a red sweet pepper. This should be a small dice - say corn kernel size.
Yep, those dogs are really nuclear red. See Maine Foodways for the scoop on red hotdogs
In a large kettle, put your vegetables (reserve the corn if it is already cooked) and one garlic clove, a one inch piece of hot pepper, 1/3 cup of sugar, a teaspoon of salt and 2 cups of vinegar. Mix seperately a couple tablespoons of flour with a tablespoon of dry mustard and half a teaspoon each of tumeric and cumin. Bring the pot to a boil and cook a few minutes until the veggies are soft then slowly add the flour-mustard mix. Add the cooked corn now with the mustard if you are not using raw corn. Cook another couple minutes. Ladle into a sterile quart canning jar, wipe the rim and crank on a lid. Turn it upside down for an hour and the lid will probably seal - this is NOT meant to be a safe canning procedure! After the jar cools, put it in the back of your refridgerator for a couple weeks tp allow pickling before using it.
Back before we could import out of season and exotic fruits and vegetables from all over the world, Mainers used to wait impatiently for the first green sprouts of spring. Dandelion Greens were the physic of choice guaranteed to provide the vitamin C we all craved. Now many people are more concerned with ridding their lawns of the plants. This spring give this highly edible, prolific plant a try.
Start by gathering a whole mess of greens. You can go at this a couple different ways. First do not dig them out of your yard if you have used lawn fertilizers and weed treatments. Second, gather your greens before they flower, dandelions become bitter after flowering. You can pick just the leaves or, better, take a knife and cut the crown just above the roots. The developing flower buds tucked inside the crowns are good, too. For that matter, so are the roots. Wash your dandelions really well and leave them in a pot of cold water until you are ready to use them.
You can make a nice salad from the raw leaves and thinly sliced crowns dressed with a little vinegar, oil and crumbled bacon. Or you can boil the whole plant for five or so minutes until tender. Leaves only need about three minutes. Season with butter, salt and pepper or lemon juice or vinegar to taste.
Marjorie Standish gives an old recipe involving thick slices of salt pork, greens and potatoes boiled forever. Try this update. Pare enough potatoes and cut into quarters. Brown some Italian sausage in a big pot, add the potatoes, salt and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Add the dandelion greens and crowns about five minutes before the potatoes are cooked. Stir often. When the potatoes and greens are cooked, drain most of the cooking water and serve in soup dishes. All that is needed is butter, salt and pepper.
This is a deceptively easy but oh so good accompaniment for pork and other meats. Or eat it the Native American way spread on hot fry bread.
The simplest version of Fried Apples requires about an apple for each serving plus a couple extras for the pot. Peel, core and cut into thick slices. Melt some butter or margarine in a large cast iron fry pan. When the pan is hot add the apples and sauté quickly. Try not to break up the apples too much. When the apples soften up sprinkle liberally with cinnamon and brown sugar. Let the sugar caramelize a bit then serve hot.
Some variations include the addition of raisins or chopped walnuts. You might try cooking pork cutlets with onions and garlic and adding the apples right in to fry when the meat is almost done. This last version requires less sugar and maybe a little hot pepper.
Even in Maine, spring will come. And when it does, those delectable little green curlicues will sprout all over the woods. Fiddleheads are the sprout of the ostrich fern. They appear in May as little tightly coiled spirals that resemble the scroll on the end of a fiddle. Mainers comb the woods and stream banks for the treat with a wild but delicate taste.
If you haven't picked before then go with someone who knows the difference between the ostrich fern and all the others which aren't edible. With a little on the job training, you won't have much difficulty. Pick fiddleheads that are only a couple inches tall and tightly curled. Just snap them off at the base. It is really important to clean your fiddleheads carefully to remove the brown scales and the papery, parchment sheath. Soaking will help release the little pieces which can then be skimmed off the top.
Fiddleheads are a rite of spring and a rejuvenating tonic that are high in vitamins A and C and in iron. They are best when you don't mess with them too much. Just lightly steam or saute and serve with butter, salt and pepper.
Old time Mainers tried to extend the fiddlehead season by pickling them. You might want to try this updated recipe for Marinated Fiddleheads.
Blanch one pound of fiddleheads for about a minute and immediately cool them down in a colander by rinsing in cold water. Put them in a glass jar with a sliced onion or shallot and some chopped pepper (sweet or hot). Adjust quantities to taste. Add a little rosemary, basil and /or tarragon plus a couple teaspoons of sugar. Add a cup of vinegar and a cup of olive oil. Crank the lid on the jar, and give the mix a shake. Store in the refrigerator. Your marinated fiddleheads should be ready to eat in a day or two. They make a great addition to salads.
Nowadays almost any vegetable or fruit is available "fresh" almost year round. However, before the advent of the modern supermarket, people depended on their preserving kettles and root cellars for fruits and vegetables after the growing season ended. Root Vegetables were standard fare in Maine kitchens because they kept well and did not require a whole lot of effort to put by. Here's a couple old time ways to cook and serve these vegetables:
Carrots with celery is an easy vegetable combination. (Yeah, I know celery is not a root vegetable.) Scrape your carrots and cut them into 3-4" lengths. Split the thick ones in half. Clean and cut celery into a similar size and length. Steam, braise or even boil them til tender. Drain and serve hot with butter, salt and pepper.
I often add potatoes, carrots and celery to the pan when I roast chicken or beef. Or try them solo this way. Prepare equal amounts of whole, peeled, smallish potatoes, medium onions and 4" scraped carrot chunks. Put in an uncovered baking pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper and your choice of herbs. Drizzle with a good amount (1/2 cup) of melted butter or a mix of butter and olive oil. Mix to coat the vegetables. Bake one hour at 350. Turn and baste frequently with butter/oil from pan. .
This is one of my favorites...smashed carrots and turnips. Peel and dice a turnip. Scrape and chop enough carrots to equal the amount of turnip. Boil until tender. Drain and coarsely mash with a fork. Add butter, salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot. I was surprised at how really old this recipe is. Last summer we went up to Cape Breton Island and visited the recreated Louisbourg historical site. We ate a meal in a tavern there that was supposed to be authentic period food. What did they serve? Pea soup, bread, fried fish and boiled turnip and carrots. Just like home in the 21st Century!
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