Posts Tagged ‘Michael Collins’

Extravagant Pies!

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

pie-flyer-web

Things are humming here in Hawley, Massachusetts. In just over a week—on Sunday, October 9—the Sons & Daughters of Hawley will host the Hawley Gentlemen’s Pie and Tart Extravaganza!

This event is modeled after our occasional pudding contest. It was inspired by two sentences I turned up in an old book many years ago while doing research for Hawley’s bicentennial.

In about 1920 in “A Sketch of the [Hawley] Ladies Aid,” Mattie Carter White recalled, “At one time there was a contest for the women sawing wood. The men had a pie baking contest. Mr. Clarence Gould got the prize for making the best pie.”

For years several of Hawley’s men—my friend Peter in particular—have lobbied for a revival of the pie-baking contest. No one has lobbied for a revival of the wood-sawing contest so we’re ignoring that. But we are at last holding a men’s pie contest as a fundraiser for the ongoing restoration of the Hawley Meeting House.

It will be open to men and boys who come from other places, of course. And it should offer fun for women as well as men.

The day will include a tour of historic sites, a sumptuous lunch, a pie parade, and an entertainment in which we reenact the circumstances of the original pie contest.

Of course, we have no idea what those circumstances were. We don’t even know what kind of pie Clarence Gould made or precisely when he made it. That won’t stop us from telling a fun story involving music, vegetarianism, and a chicken named Jerusha.

Please join us if you can—and spread the word! It may be another 100 years before we revive the contest once more.

Making Pie with Michael Collins

Making Pie with Michael Collins

Here is a recipe to get male readers started. It comes from my friend Michael Collins, now semi-retired as a chef. Michael’s main responsibility is cooking filling breakfasts for the guests at the Bed and Breakfast establishment he and his partner Tony now run at their home in Colrain.

Michael came on Mass Appeal with me this week to show how quickly one can assemble a pie. I prepared my Rustic Apple Tart, and he threw together this quiche-like concoction. The herbs and the mushrooms gave it rich flavor. And we had fun as always cooking together.

Michael's Pie

Michael’s Pie

Michael’s Breakfast Pie

from Chef Michael Collins at the Barrel Shop Gallery Airbnb

Ingredients:

4 to 5 strips of bacon
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (Shitake or the mushroom of your choice)
uncooked top and bottom pie crusts
4 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, crumbled
1 teaspoon fresh basil, crumbled
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, crumbled
a few gratings of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Fry the bacon in a pan. Take it out, but do not remove the grease from the pan. Drain the bacon on paper towels, and crumble it. Sauté the mushrooms in the remaining bacon grease. Return the crumbled bacon to the pan, and toss.

Place the fried bacon and mushrooms in the bottom pie crust. Whisk together the eggs, milk, herbs, and seasonings. Pour the egg mixture over the bacon and mushrooms.

Place top crust on the pie. Make a few holes in the top for ventilation.

Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees, and bake for about 30 minutes more, until golden brown.

Serves 6 to 8.

And now the video….

Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

pot of cherriesweb

My plan for this week’s television segment was sidelined when I got an email from Clarkdale Fruit Farms announcing that the orchard’s cherry crop had come in. I LOVE cherries—and I couldn’t resist the chance to cook with them during their short but glorious local season.

My friend Michael Collins, chef at the new Mexican Fusion restaurant Ponte in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, had recently informed me that he makes gazpacho with cherries. So of course I brought him along to cook with me on Mass Appeal. Michael actually worked a lot harder than I did, but we all had a good time.

goodtimeweb

I’m not sure I’d swear that I could taste the cherries in his soup—but whatever I tasted, it was awfully good: spicy and substantial. He was kind enough to share the recipe with me, and here it is. If you watch the video below, you’ll see that some of his quantities are subject to improvisation; I KNOW he threw in a lot more herbs and vinegar than he calls for in the recipe!

Cherry Gazpacho web

Ponte Cherry Gazpacho

Ingredients:

1 pound ripe tomatoes, seeded, diced, an drained (or 2 cups canned seeded tomatoes)
1 pound pitted cherries (about a pint)
1 small red onion
1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper in adobo
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon cilantro or parsley
the juice of 1 lime and the zest of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons blanched almonds
2 tablespoons mint leaves
2 sliced pitted cherries and mint leaves for garnish

Instructions:

Place all ingredients (except the cherries and mint for garnish) in a blender. Blend well.

Chill in the refrigerator for several hours.

Serve in your favorite bowl or glass, topped with cherry slices and mint.

Serves 6 as a first course.

I prepared something very simple, a cherry cobbler, which we dubbed “Cherry Plop Pie” on the air since the topping is simply plopped on. The cherries looked gorgeous in this recipe, and the cobber or pie or whatever you want to call it was well received.

Thanks to Oxo for sending me the cherry pitter I used! Yes, one does have to separate the pits manually from the cherries in a few cases, especially if one is a klutz in the kitchen like me. In general, however, this device sped up the task of making the cobbler/pie considerably—and kept the kitchen and my hands cleaner.

And thanks to Clarkdale for the Balaton cherries, which gave this dish its gorgeous color and flavor.

Cherry Cobblerweb

Cherry Cobbler (a.k.a. Cherry Plop Pie)

Ingredients:

for the fruit base:

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups pitted cherries
2 tablespoons lemon juice

for the cobbler crust:

1 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten

for the topping:

sparkling sugar as needed

Instructions:

Begin by making the base. Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a smallish nonreactive pot. Stir in the cherries and lemon juice. Cover this mixture and let it sit for a while until the cherries juice up. (Half an hour should do!)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish.

Uncover the cherry mixture and bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil, stirring gently, for 1 minute. Remove the fruit from the heat. Spread the cherry mixture in the prepared baking dish.

To make the crust whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter, but don’t overdo the process. You should still have tiny pieces of butter in the mixture.

Whisk together the milk and egg. Add them to the dry ingredients, and mix just until moist. Drop this mixture onto the fruit mixture, and spread it around to cover the fruit. Sprinkle sparkling sugar on the top for crunch and glow.

Bake until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Serves 8.

And now the video!

Pasta with Melon? You Bet!

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

melon pastaweb

My friend Michael Collins accompanied me to my most recent TV appearance. Michael and his partner Tony, an artist, were the owners and hosts at one of my family’s favorite western Massachusetts eateries, the Green Emporium in Colrain.

That restaurant closed a couple of years ago, but they are hoping to reopen in a new location, and they want to keep Michael’s work as a chef in the public eye. So he made the main course for our gig on Mass Appeal, and I put together the dessert.

His dish was absolutely fabulous. I would never have thought of pairing fresh local melon (or any melon, for that matter) with pasta, but the sweetness of the melon with the acid of Michael’s tomato sauce really worked. (The cream didn’t hurt, either.)

Michael’s recipe appears below (thank you, Michael, for sharing it), along with the video of his segment. I’m afraid my face disappears behind my hat somewhere in the middle of the segment, but he looked fine, and that’s all that matters.

But before we get to the recipe, I want to announce that we have a winner for the Yummy Yammy salsa giveaway—Peter from Connecticut. Thanks to all of you who left comments on my last post.

On to Michael’s triumph……

Tinky Michael Cweb

Michael’s Pasta with Melon and Tomatoes

Ingredients:

1 local cantaloupe, peeled and seeded
butter and olive oil as needed for sautéing
the juice of 1/2 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pint heavy cream
approximately 4 cups marinara sauce, pureed
grated Parmigiano Reggiano, fresh basil, and freshly ground pepper for garnish

Instructions:

Cut the melon into 1-inch chunks. Sauté it very briefly in butter and olive oil. Add the lemon juice, the salt, the pepper, and the cream. Stir in marinara sauce until the whole concoction is a pretty pink, more or less the color of the melon. (You’ll probably want about 3 cups here.)

Cook for a few minutes to reduce the sauce slightly. Serve over the pasta of your choice. Garnish with cheese and basil, and grind pepper over all. Have the extra marinara sauce warm at the table in case it’s wanted. Serves 4 to 6.

Here’s the video:

And here’s the clip of my dessert, a peach cobbler. The recipe appears elsewhere on this blog.

Warm Beet Salad

Monday, April 7th, 2014

beet saladweb

I know beets haven’t arrived in farm stands yet—but I’m looking forward to them! Here is a very fattening but a very fun, delectable, and showy way to use this colorful vegetable.

The recipe comes from my dear friend Michael Collins, the chef at the now closed Green Emporium in Colrain, Massachusetts. Michael and his partner Tony Palumbo are hoping to open a new Mexican restaurant, Mi Vida Loca, in nearby Shelburne Falls soon. I can’t wait to eat there—and I’m hoping the new eatery will have room for a piano so I can perform!

If you have high-speed internet, you can watch Michael prepare the beets with a little help from me by clicking “play” on the video below the recipe.

Just in case you can’t watch videos (I can’t at home in Massachusetts!), I have provided the recipe.

beetsweb

Ingredients:

3 small beets
a small handful of pine nuts
a small, flat bowl lined with all-purpose flower
1 egg
panko bread crumbs as needed
olive oil as needed for light frying
a bed of red-leaf lettuce
a few tablespoons fresh, soft goat cheese
the juice of 1/2 lemon
freshly ground pepper
fresh chives to taste

Instructions:

Quickly wash the beets and immerse them in boiling, salted water. Return the water to a boil, turn it down, and simmer the beets until they are fork tender (about 40 minutes). Drain the beets, rinse them in cold water, and quickly remove their skins and ends. If you wish, you may do this first step early in the day and finish preparing the salad just before you want to serve it.

When you are almost ready to serve the salad, toast the pine nuts in a small iron skillet until they start to smell lovely and begin to brown. Remove them from the pan and set them aside.

Place the flour in one bowl, the egg in a second bowl, and the panko crumbs in a third bowl. Add a small amount of water to the egg, and whisk the egg and water together.

Slice each beet into four slices. Dip the beet pieces first in the flour, then in the egg mixture, and finally in the crumbs.

Pour oil into a 10-inch skillet (enough to cover the bottom). Heat the oil over medium heat. When it is hot, add the breaded pieces of beet and cook them quickly until they are golden brown, turning once. (This will take less than 5 minutes.)

Place the lettuce on a plate, and arrange the fried beet pieces on top. Top each beet with a small amount of cheese; then squeeze lemon juice over all. Sprinkle pepper and freshly cut chives on top of the salad.

Serves 2 elegantly.

Cider Time

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

Most New Englanders see early November as a time for winding down from summer and harvest activities. The leaves dwindle, the air takes on a distinct chill, and farm stands begin closing their doors.

For cider lovers, however, this season is a highlight of the year.

Here in Franklin County, Massachusetts, we are lucky to have a weekend devoted to the joys of apples and cider, a weekend that seems to become richer each year.

Today and tomorrow mark the 17th annual occurrence of Cider Days, a celebration founded by Judith Maloney of West County Cider and her late husband Terry in 1994.

This year the festivities include a pancake breakfast, programs and sales at various locations throughout the county, canning classes, a home orchard workshop, tastings galore, and a special cider dinner.

Several local eateries will feature apple and cider items on their menus that weekend, including my beloved Green Emporium, where apple-cheddar pizza and appletinis are just the beginning of the apple madness.

This morning the Green Emporium featured cooking demonstrations by its chef, Michael Collins, and by Amy Traverso of Yankee magazine, the author of The Apple Lover’s Cookbook.

Amy also signed copies of her book, which was published in September by W.W. Norton. Norton sent me a copy of the book to review for a local paper. The book is a real find—a treasure trove of apple information (Amy has unearthed apple varieties completely new to me), stories of trips to orchards, and tempting recipes.

Amy has come to Cider Days several times although this is her first public appearance there. “Cider Days is something that my whole family looks forward to every year,” she told me.

“It’s just lovely to drive around rural Massachusetts for a day and taste apples! We may not live in wine country, but we certainly do live in cider country. I want to see New Englanders really embrace our cider heritage, and I’m so grateful to the Maloney family for helping put this drink [hard cider] back on the map. The festival seems to draw bigger crowds every year, so that’s really encouraging.”

I’m sorry that I didn’t post this in time to allow you to come to her signing—I’ve been having SERIOUS blog issues, just resolved thanks to my current hero (and always friend) Henry. Luckily, there are more events still to come this weekend.

For a full schedule of activities visit this link. For a couple of apple and cider recipes (I’m posting this a little late so we have two today!), read on….

I MEANT to photograph this in a pretty dish, but we got busy eating....

Farm Share Coleslaw

My mother’s darling nurse Pam Gerry told me months ago about her favorite coleslaw, which incorporates dill and apple with the cabbage.

I had to wait until fall to have the fresh ingredients with which to make it, however!

In early October our farm share turned up a small head of cabbage a couple of weeks ago—and we had apples on our trees and a small amount of dill still in the herb garden. The carrot was left over from a previous week’s farm share, and of course the cider vinegar was from Apex Orchards nearby.

Of course, you may tinker with the recipe and substitute something more conventionally coleslawy (maybe caraway seeds?) for the dill. I loved the fresh flavor it gave to the salad, however.

A generous friend sent me some REAL kosher corned beef and rye bread from New York City so I was able to make one of my favorite childhood sandwiches, corned beef with mustard and slaw. We got our cold cuts at a kosher deli where cheese was never mixed with corned beef so I never became a Reuben fan. But I adore coleslaw with my corned beef so between them Pam and Peter send me to heaven!

Ingredients:

1/2 small cabbage (about 3 cups when chopped), cored and loosely chopped or grated
1 small carrot, peeled and grated
1 small apple, cored and grated (remove skin if you like)
1/3 cup mayonnaise (plus or minus to taste)
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh dill leaves or a teaspoons dried dill weed (more or less to taste)
salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon salt and five turns of the pepper grinder)

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir and adjust seasonings to taste.

If you have time, let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for a while to maximize flavor. Be sure to stir it before serving.

Makes about 2 cups.

 

Sherry Hager’s Cider Doughnuts

My friend Cynthia O’Connor asked me more than a year ago if I had a recipe for Cider Doughnuts. It took me a while, but I finally got one!

Hager’s Farm Market in Shelburne, Massachusetts, will offer a plethora of apple products for this year’s Cider Days, plus the market’s signature fried dough with maple cream. I persuaded Sherry Hager and her daughter Kim to part with the recipe for Sherry’s cider doughnuts, pastries that are particularly light and crispy thanks to the cider and buttermilk in their dough … and to the Hagers’ deep-frying skills.

Ingredients:

3-1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter at room temperature (I used unsalted)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup buttermilk
canola oil as needed for frying

Instructions:

In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.

In another bowl beat the butter and sugar together with electric mixer. Mix in the eggs until they are thoroughly incorporated. Mix in the cider and buttermilk.

Dump in the dry ingredients and stir.

“Our secret is we let it refrigerate overnight,” says Kim of the dough.

The next day preheat the oil to 350 degrees in a large pan or fryer.

Roll the out dough on a floured surface; cut it with a doughnut cutter. This can be a little tricky even after refrigeration as the dough is sticky. As you can see from the photos here, I gave up on doughnuts and formed my dough into freeform crullers.

Cook the doughnuts a few at a time until they are brown on each side, a minute or two per side.

Makes about 18 doughnuts and 18 holes.

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