Friday, September 15, 2017

We've Moved

Hey, just a quick note.  We've moved most of our cooking posts over to, so after you've had your fill here, wander on over and check out the newer posts over there.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Joys of Foraged Goods

If you've wandered over to our other blogs ( or Life, Art Water) you'll know we love eating local and we do a bit of foraging when we can.  Here is one of our wonderful recent scores:
oh, yesssss
These are wild black raspberries.  You'll never find these in any store.  They're only ripe for about two days, are fragile, and have to be hand picked.  If you want to see some shots of us acquiring these, drop over to Morgainne's blog Life, Art, Water for some pictures.  They're a beautiful, juicy, sweet and tart flavor bomb.  In short, they rock.

We could make a jam out of them, or a fruit compote, but when you have something this fresh and delightful,  I rather think it's better to let them stand on their own.  So they became dessert, real vanilla ice cream, frozen and shaved dark chocolate, and the wonderful, wonderful berries.

Yes, it was EXACTLY as good as it looks.
The treat is all the better for being seasonal and rare, a sense of anticipation and treasure found that we've lost in our rather bland consumer world of instant gratification.

Ooooh, Ice Cream Headache.
So look around, guys.  Everywhere on the planet--well virtually anyway--every spring and summer there are treats to be found a few feet from your door, things no grocery will ever see, things most of your neighbors ignore or try to weed out.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, May 26, 2015


The season at Middle River Landing is officially open with the celebration of Memorial Day's first 'annual' slipholders picnic. There was lots of yummy food, and beer, did i mention, lots of beer?
Mungo made two excellent Key Lime pies, i made a fresh tomato salad and introduced pickled radishes to the gang. The radishes were a big hit, and since i had many requests for the recipe i thought that i would share it with all of you.
The party begins!

The recipe comes from Katy Sparks, via her book "Sparks in the Kitchen", it is quick and easy to make; all of the ingredients are readily available at your local supermarket, although you will find some of the ingredients less expensively at an Asian market. The closest Asian market to our marina is Ha Ha ( i kid you not), a Korean market off of Pulaski Highway, we make a trip down there about once a month as it is the best local source for Butane fuel canisters and most importantly high quality coconut milk. I also want to add that this recipe is rare, in that i have never fiddled with it.


1/2 CUP RICE VINEGAR ( you can use any mild white vinegar)
2 BUNCHES OF RADISHES (about 24- 30, depending on size), SLICED OR CHUNKED, YOUR PREFRENCE

Combine shallot, ginger, lemon juice, vinegar, and sesame oil in a non-reactive bowl. Toss in the radishes and stir well to coat. Sprinkle with the sugar and salt and stir again. Let the radishes rest for several hours at room temperature before serving. I usually cover the bowl with a cloth napkin to protect the pickles while still allowing the pickles to breathe. The radishes will turn a beautiful pink, a reaction between the ginger, radishes and vinegar. Katy claims that these pickles will keep for two to three weeks in the refrigerator. I have no personal knowledge to back that claim, as i have rarely had them last for longer than a day or two. This makes about two cups. Don't throw out the pickling liquid, it makes a good base for a salad dressing.

Yup, i am definitely full!
 OOPS! I completely forgot to take a picture of the radishes. Oh well, i will make them again, soon and then publish a pic.


Friday, April 10, 2015


First Painkillers of the season.
This past Saturday we had to cook inside: although the sun was shining and the temperature mild, the wind was not. Sigh! I was practically drooling over the prospect of Grilled Branzino with Roasted Sweet Potatoes. Alas, this was not to be as we determined that an open fire in 20 m.p.h. winds was well, yes, a fire hazard. Okay, i'm adaptable, and with a little help from Chef Google, Mungo and i proceeded. Oh ya, the recipe that i looked at, well it did still have fish and bread crumbs in it by the time i was finished. Just saying that almost any recipe should be looked at as a guideline, or inspiration.

If you don't know, Branzino is an European Bass, almost always wild caught, it is very prevalent in the Mediterranean and let me tell you it is 'move over' Chilean Sea Bass in the flavor department. Usually i am far more likely to support and buy local. There are many reasons for this but how could i resist those brilliant shiny fish(whole) for only $4.95 a pound, increased carbon footprint not withstanding. They were worth it.

By preference i will always buy whole fish: when you buy whole fish you are getting more than just your supper. The flavor palette is enhanced anytime you cook 'bone in; you can use the scraps, head, tail, etc to make a broth(why buy an overly salty, processed broth if you don't have to?) and most importantly when you buy whole fresh fish it is simply that - fresher - just of the boat so to speak. When you are in the fish market get as close and personal to the fish of your choice as your fish monger will allow: look at the eyes, they should be clear, not cloud, fish should be lying naturally, in contact with  bed of fresh ice, there should be no 'off odor'! Of course fish will smell, well fishy, but it should be a good, briny, fish smell. There is a difference between the smell of fresh fish and three day old fish. The flesh should be wet and shiny and spring back when touched, so watch when your fishmonger picks it up. Be choosy, and by all means cultivate a relationship with your new best friend, a retailer who appreciates your insight and input and will be happy in the future to try ordering in fish that you are interested in.

I know that a lot of people do not like dealing with or eating whole fish because they believe that fish with bones is something to be afraid of! What? Why? Yes, i know there is the very small risk of choking - no, not really -but even with the backbone removed you will occasionally find small bones in the filet. This is part of eating food, after all there are bones in chicken, beef and pork.

Anyway, back to adaptability, we opted to bake the Branzino in a Mediterranean style. I greased a metal baking pan and surrounded the fish with a melange of chopped shallots, leeks, garlic, capers, drained tomatoes and lemon juice topped with bread crumbs seasoned with salt, pepper, thyme, smoked paprika and a few crushed fennel seeds. than poured a goodly amount of extra virgin olive oil over everything. This was baked at somewhere between 325 - 350 degrees F, until the fish was white and flaked.
Okay, so these are Mussels.  We forgot to take plated pictures.  Sorry.

It was awesome! It was so awesome we both forgot to take pictures. I went from fish to filet to mouth - barely stopping for the plate.

Okay. just a bit more on adaptability and recipes: When adapting a recipe, do think about ratios and proportion. You should strive for a similar balance of dry to wet ingredients. Think about the base tastes in the original recipe, don't despair if you are missing a key taste, you can almost always find an acceptable substitute, like onions will work if you don't have shallots or leeks. Necessity is the mother of invention, and invention can be delicious.

More later,

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mussels Andorra

Fresh mussels and fresh bread.....very little better than this

I first had these mussels on a trip to Spain during Spring Break 1973.  I think that culinary experience may have been my first time eating shellfish, or at least shellfish that didn't come out of a can or had not been fried.  I am, after all, a midwestern girl!  Moving on:  Needless to say I fell in love and have made them over and over again whenever high quality, fresh mussels are available!  I have collected them from "the wild" but more often than not buy them from a reputable fish monger.  Lucky for me, Geresbeck's, a local grocer, fills the bill nicely, and when i say local, I mean it.  Mungo and i walk up there all the time from our boat slip.  Often the mussels are "farm raised" and usually from New Jersey in this area, but occasionally we luck out and get wild caught Maine mussels.  I snap them up in a flash!  They have so much more delicious, briny flavor.  Two other reasons for buying mussels:  they are unbelievably inexpensive and take almost no time too cook!

There are many subtle variations on this dish but your basic "master" recipe goes like this : 

(note:  if you are using "wild caught" mussels, make sure you allow enough prep time to soak them in cold water brine with a little corn meal for at least half an hour so they will release any sand.  If wild, you will also need to de-beard them before cooking with a pair of kitchen scissors.  Make sure you discard any shell that has a crack or is otherwise broken, as well as any that will not close as those are dead, dead, dead and not at all good to eat!)

Mussels usually come in a net bag of around #3 pounds.  Mungo and I have a hard time eating all of that.  This recipe could easily serve 3 or 4 people with a salad, fresh bread, and a light antipasto.

You will need:

 3-4 TB good quality extra virgin olive oil,

Onion of some ilk ( a medium yellow onion, roughly chopped or a couple of sliced leeks or 4-5 minced shallots).  This is more about what you have than anything else, but it should be a fairly mild onion.

2-4 cloves of Garlic,chopped

2-6 mushrooms, if desired, sliced

Sweat all of your veggies, starting with the onions (until they begin to get translucent) and adding garlic and mushrooms after a bit.  Do NOT allow them to color.  You want the sweet, subtle vegetable nature, not crisp fried and bitter.  Add any dry spices you will be using.  You will want to keep in the Mediterranean palate, so I usually use thyme, oregano, and basil.  Coarsely ground black pepper to taste, perhaps 1/2 a teaspoon of red pepper flakes and a 1/4 tsp or so of saffron threads.  DO NOT ADD SALT!  There's plenty in the seafood.  After the seasonings, add up to a cup of clam broth (you can also use a low sodium chicken broth) and about 1/2 cup of white wine (that you're drinking.  If you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it, please.) 

Bring to a boil, add all the mussels, cover, reduce the heat to a strong simmer and leave it alone for somewhere between 3-5 minutes.  Remove the cover and, as the mussels begin to open, immediately begin dividing them between your plates.  They should all be open within minutes.  You may close the pot back up if needed but usually as you stir them they will open and release their briny goodness.  Discard any that will not open.

Serve immediately with the broth and with a simple green salad, warm crusty bread, and good drinks.  Depending on what you use to serve, you may need to serve the broth on the side in a separate bowl.

And don't forget a boneyard for the shells.
What a beautiful dinner.

Bon Appetite.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Key Lime Pie: A wonderful summer treat in the dead of winter

One of my favorite treats growing up in Florida was the redoubtable Key Lime Pie.  Originally an uncooked confection (the filling is "cooked" chemically by the highly acidic Key lime juice) using the fragrant juice of the 'Swingle'  (Citrus aurantifolia) lime as opposed to the more common Persian limes, and mixing with sweetened condensed milk (which required no refrigeration), it became a staple dessert in the early 20th century in the south.  It's also monstrously easy to make.  Let's give it a shot aboard ship:

You'll need:  1/2 cup of Key Lime Juice (available most places now in bottled form), three egg yolks (keep the whites for something else), a 14 oz. Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk, and a 9" graham cracker crust.  What makes this a great on board ship dessert is none of this really requires refrigeration prior to making the dessert.
Separate the eggs and use the can always use the whites for something later.

Separate the eggs and blend in the sweetened condensed milk while you're heating your oven (350 Fahrenheit). 
Mix them well.  Remember, though, you're mixing, not whipping the mixture (which makes for some funky texture).  As soon as your oven hits temperature, thoroughly mix in the lime juice, pour into the pie shell, and cook.  Don't let the combined mixture sit around in the bowl before you pour into the pie shell.  You may have a bowl of cooked filler.
Add the juice, mix thoroughly
Don't dally.  Fill the pie crust and get it in the oven

There are, indeed, places with certified eggs that do not cook this pie.  If I knew for certain the health and province of my chickens, I might not either, but modern, commercial, factory laid eggs can't be trusted not to carry salmonella.  The brief cooking is enough to kill any nasties in the filling without changing it's nature. 
The smell is wonderful
Cook at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, then set the pie to rest (if you can keep your paws off of it that long) for about ten minutes before refrigerating it (if you can keep your paws off it for that long) for about half an hour.
REAL whipped cream, mind you.  Cream, a little sugar, drop of vanilla. 
Oh, Yum, even if I did nearly drop it.
Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and perhaps a thin lime slice.  This would look prettier if I hadn't almost dropped the pie when taking it out of the oven....sigh.  But it's still wonderful.

The taste is a wonderful symphony of sweet and tart, with the crunch of the graham crust as a bonus.  I just love it.



Sunday, March 1, 2015

Review: Butterfly Stovetop Oven

Hey, we've just posted a review of our new Butterfly Stovetop Oven over on our Floating Empire blog.
The Butterfly 16 wick Kerosene Stove and Stovetop Oven as sold by St. Paul Mercantile
It's a great new addition to the galley, but rather than be redundant, just hit the above link and have a look.  We do a lot of outdoor dutch oven baking, but this gives us a really good option for lousy weather.  Now we're sitting around plotting new recipes for it.
Pork Roast, plum sauce, Roasted potatoes. . . . oh yes.
At any rate, pop over to Floating Empire and have a look.