Archive for category In the Dog House

Christmas Cheer

cranberry-liqueurWe’ve come up with a fun beverage for adults which makes a beautiful homemade gift, so long as you start now.  As the Big Dog described it, “It’s like Christmas in a glass.”

In a clean, decorative jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine about one part each of clean fresh cranberries, unflavored vodka, and granulated sugar.*  We used a cup of each and put them in a quart jar with a clamp lid. Add one tablespooon whole cloves for each cup of cranberries.

To give an extra boost of clove flavor, simmer some cloves in vodka for 20 minutes and add that to the jar.

Seal the jar and shake it gently, inverting it so the sugar begins to dissolve. Sit the jar on a counter and give it a shake every day or two.  After a week, the sugar will completely dissolve and the liquid will begin to redden.

The cranberry liqueur will be ready to use in about a month.

img_2869We put about an ounce of liqueur in a champagne flute, added a cube or two of ice, and poured soda water over.  Add a few cranberries (but not cloves) for garnish. If you like unsweetened cranberries, you’ll like these. The vodka itself absorbs the color but not the taste of the berries.

*We made our first batches for Thanksgiving: one with your standard commercial sugar, one with organic cane sugar, and one with the mixture simmered together before bottling. The only difference we could detect was that the simmered batch turned red right away.

For Christmas we’re trying a version that uses half the amount of cranberries and sugar. We’ll provide an update in about three weeks!

 

 

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In the Dog House: French Meat Pie from Makepeace Farms

003Gina was despondent.  A concert for which we’d purchased tickets many months in advance was cancelled just hours before showtime. The Big Dog suggested a nice dinner out, to make up for the disappointment. The performer was Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music, if you must know.

“No,” Gina sulked. “Let’s sit home and eat meat pie.”

We’d bought the meat pie for $18 from Makepeace Farms in Wareham earlier in the day.  Owner Karen Makepeace once told us that she does the pies when she has time, and apparently that’s not very often.  We weren’t sure what was in it, but it seemed to have a nice philo-esque crust and surprising density.

Now, let this be a warning to people like Mr. Ferry and their so-called viral infections: a carefully crafted, expertly seasoned, perfectly cooked meat pie will make us forget ALL ABOUT YOU in no time.

We started dinner with the bottle of Faustino V 2008 Rioja we’d put aside for a special event.  As you may know, a Rioja from Spain is typically a great bargain, but a reserva is an extraordinary value.  This one was rich and peppery, and just $17 at the local wine purveyor. We were not disappointed.

Gina tossed together some pea greens, red leaf lettuce, cucumber, and tomato which we got from our CSA (Silverbrook Farms, but that’s a story for another day), along with half a sliced avocado and some homemade basil vinaigrette from the refrigerator.

A quarter of the pie, along with some salad, was a hearty dinner for each of us.  We think the pie contained mashed potatoes and the meat was partly, if not completely, ground pork.  We promise to ask, but nice as Karen Makepeace is, we don’t see her willingly parting with a recipe like this.

Makepeace Farms
146 Tihonet Road, Wareham

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In the Dog House: Dog House Burgers

Scan0004The Big Dog is a big fan of kale. In our part of the world, where we’ve got a certain Portuguese influence, it’s always played a starring role in soups and stews.  As people have come to recognize its health benefits, it’s gotten broader, more varied use.

But to really appreciate kale’s charms, you have to eat it raw.  Toss some into a fruit smoothie for breakfast (more on those some other time). Tear the tiniest leaves into a big green salad.  Steal some out of the neighboring community garden plot for a snack on the drive home. (Not that we’re endorsing community garden theft, but we know it happens.)

Or do what we do in the Dog House: pretend it’s lettuce, lettuce with nutrients and heartiness.  We add it to lots of sandwiches.  But with this dish, the Big Dog outdid himself.

We recently visited a restaurant — we don’t remember where — that offered burgers topped by bacon patties. Although we often order dishes just because we’re curious, we passed in this case.

But the image haunted us.  Bacon!  Burgers! Was it brilliant?  Or did it just need one little addition… kale?

We sat in the back yard by an early spring campfire, discussing the possibilities.  We sketched schematics.  We analyzed cooking times and curvatures.  And finally, it was time to get to work.  Gina scooted to one side and made a salad while the Big Dog manned the stove.

We ground four slices of bacon in the Cuisinart and created kind of a paste. We spread it thinly over a non-stick pan to create kind of a web of bacon. Before flipping it, we added a chiffonade of basil trimmed from the kitchen window plant.

We cooked ground beef patties in a pan and sprinkled them with a seasoned salt blend before the first flip. After the seasoned side was thoroughly browned, aided by pouring the fat off the pan, we flipped again, then topped the patty with trimmed raw curly kale, then the bacon patty, then a slice of American cheese. The stack steamed in the pan for a moment, then we slid it onto a potato roll with a slice of raw tomato.  We concurred that in a future iteration, the tomato would be topped by another leaf of kale.

(When we say “we,” we mean that Gina was cowering in a corner while the pans flew.)

The result was delicious. Surprisingly, the wan springtime basil dominated these strong flavors. The juicy burger and tomato slice offset the crisp kale and bacon. The lightly toasted potato roll held it together with elegance, not aggression. Accompanied by a spinach salad with a light vinaigrette, the burger made a perfect Sunday night dinner.

 

 

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Wareham Oyster Festival

Oyster Festival LogoWe at Chow are proud to be a sponsor of Wareham’s first-ever Oyster Festival, taking place this April.  Please join us in Wareham Village on Sunday, April 27, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., for some great food, music, crafts, and fun.

The day begins with the Oyster Festival 5K Run/Walk, on a flat and scenic course through Wareham Village.  Click here for registration information.

The event will feature an Oyster Trail, highlighting local restaurants which offer oyster dishes, between April 21 and April 27. The Wareham Village Association, which is presenting the Wareham Oyster Festival, will host a fundraising Gala in the former Tobey Memorial Library on High Street on Friday, April 25, from 5 to 9 p.m.  The WVA will also host a Speakers’ Series, with educational and interesting presentations, book signings, cooking demonstrations, and more.

If you’re interested in supporting, helping, buying Gala tickets, or just learning more, please e-mail us.

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At Home: Omaha Fish

20130207_192948We live near New Bedford, home to the highest valued commercial fishing port in the United States.  So it may seem weird if not stupid to eat fish that came in the mail, from America’s heartland no less.  But Mom is an Omaha Steaks afficionado, and her generous gifts regularly arrive by FedEx, packed in dry ice and Styrofoam, and they’re not just steak.

On a recent Thursday, we sampled a pair of sole fillets stuffed with scallops and crabmeat. Zipped straight from the freezer into the convection oven for 40 minutes, they were tender and moist, and the stuffing was crackery, with no discernible pieces of shellfish, but flavorful.

Alongside, we served stuffed baked potatoes that had been in the freezer since the last shipment, about two months ago.  Stuffed with whipped potatoes, sour cream, cheddar, and chives, they seemed kind of dry, but we acknowledge this could be because of a recent incident involving an open freezer door. If the Omaha website, or little cookbook that comes with every order, says how long the products are supposed to keep in the freezer, we couldn’t find it.

In keeping with our “minimal effort” theme, we cooked precut green beans in butter with a little garlic powder, and they were excellent.

One cool thing about eating packaged food is nutrition labeling.  We know that the fish was 190 calories per serving, and the potatoes 280.  So the dish, before the added butter (which was considerable), was just 500 calories, and we would have been okay with spending $13.95 on it in a restaurant.

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