October 15, 2011

The Reading Corner.....Northern Hospitality.....Cooking New England Style!

I am a lover of cookbooks! Most of my vast collection is admittedly Southern! It's not surprising that I have very few "Yankee" cookbooks since I don't very often cook this way. At Estelle's we savor southern, down-home comfort food! This feeds our soul. However, since I grew up on a combination of Northern-Southern dishes, there are certain times of the year that I draw from some of Mother and Grandmother's recipes that were family favorites, such as their New England Boiled Dinner or their Yankee Pot Roast. I came across a very interesting cookbook the other day, entitled Northern Hospitality: Cooking by the Book in New England! It has now been added to my collection and I cannot quite put it down! What an interesting teaching in history and cooking from the area of the country where we now live!

Northern Hospitality: Cooking by the Book in New England

Those who thought New England cuisine consisted of lobster rolls and baked beans will find Northern Hospitality: Cooking by the Book in New England as unexpected and refreshing as a warm breeze off the North Atlantic. . . . Northern Hospitality is . . . filled with information and recipes that will enlighten and enthrall anyone interested in food, cooking, or social history."

I often thought of  traditional New England cooking rather average, like baked beans and clam chowder. This gorgeous cookbook features an enticing anthology of almost 400 historic New England recipes from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century. There are dishes like wine-soaked bass served with oysters and cranberries, roast shoulder of lamb seasoned with sweet herbs, almond cheesecake infused with rosewater, robust Connecticut brown bread, zesty ginger nuts, and high-peaked White Mountain cake.

One review read as: "This is an elegantly written, well conceived, and compelling work . . . a delight to read."

Chapters are grouped into the categories of the liquid one-pot meal, fish, fowl, meat and game, pie, pudding, bread, and cake. The cookbook puts the New England cooking tradition on display in all its unexpected, and delicious complexity.

Here are few of Estelle's favorite New England Recipes!

Estelle's Apple custard pie
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
4 medium apples, peeled, cored, and cut into thin wedges
 (enough for two layers)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small dice

 Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
 Arrange approximately half of apple slices on bottom of pie crust in an overlapping pattern. Sift together sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Sprinkle half of cinnamon sugar over apples. Pour heavy cream into 2-cup glass measuring cup. Add eggs and vanilla and beat with a fork or small whisk to combine. Pour half of egg mixture over top of pie. Layer remaining apples in pie and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar. Pour remaining cream mixture over top of pie. Dot with butter. Bake 10 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 350°F, and bake 45 minutes more, or until filling bubbles rapidly and edges of crust are nicely browned. Check pie during baking; if crust is browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil. Cool pie on rack at least 2 hours before serving. This pie is best served the day it is baked. Store covered with paper towels and plastic wrap in the refrigerator.

Estelle's Quick and Easy Shepard’s Pie
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 large carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
3/4 cup Steak & Chop Marinade With Garlic & Cracked Black Pepper
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 package (24 ounces) prepared mashed potatoes or 2 1/2 cups leftover mashed potatoes, heated

Melt butter in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots and mushrooms; cook and stir 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add ground beef; cook and stir 5 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Stir in marinade and tomato paste until well blended. Add peas; stir gently.  Spoon mixture into 2-quart casserole. Spread evenly with potatoes. Broil 5 to 6 minutes or until golden brown.

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