Fourth of July

salmonpeas.jpg The “old timers” in Maine always eat salmon and peas for their fourth of July family feast. This tradition was started a long time ago when salmon still came “up river to spawn” and people still rushed in the Spring to plant their peas so they would have the first peas of the year, hopefully by the 4th, if the weather was good.  (I still have customers that plant their peas in the fall so they sprout when they are ready come Spring.)

The old tradition is to bake a center cut chunk of salmon at 350 degrees till it is less than moist, (so all the relatives like it) than nap it with a white sauce, better known as a béchamel sauce to which you add in chopped hard cooked eggs.  And peas, lot of peas cooked with butter, salt, pepper and a little water. The rule of thumb was to cook them till when you blew on a spoonful they wrinkled.

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nightlove.jpg Cecilia was a ‘10’ on a scale of one to two. She had unmitigated primal passion. Her sexual appetite was unparalleled and horizontal. It was vertical and diagonal. When I suggested to Cecilia that we spend the Fourth of July in Hawaii, she responded by giving me a fireworks show in the bedroom that went on till daybreak.

After Cecilia made my night, I made travel plans. We would first go to Hanalei Bay on the North Shore of Kauai. Then to Maui – Kaanapali Beach and Hana.

As I was packing for the trip, the phone rang. It was Cecilia. She stammered and fumfered and did everything audibly possible without actually forming words.

“What’re you trying to tell me?” I asked repeatedly.

“I can’t go,” she finally said. 

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patrioticpotatoes.jpgGenerally I'm not one for "themed" food. But a girl's gotta have some fun. So for the 4th of July, I'd like to share a patriotic potato salad made with three kinds of spuds: old fashioned white russet, delicate red-skinned taters, and sassy All-Blue potatoes (which are sometimes labeled purple Peruvian).

This potato salad is just kitschy enough without being tacky. Though I recommend using red-white-and-blue checkered cloths, I don't think sticking sparklers or miniature American flags in the potatoes is necessary.

The potatoes you see here are called All-Blues. They are slightly starchier but the same color as purple Peruvians, which are technically fingerling potatoes -- smaller, thinner potatoes. Apparently, both get their brilliant color from iron. The color will fade when cooked, but try this trick to minimize the fading: add a couple of splashes of white vinegar to the cooking water.

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cornsoup004a.jpgAt my local farmers' market this past week, I found some thick, hefty ears of corn that had been growing all summer with swollen kernels to match. They reminded me of the juicy ears of corn we had used at Tante Marie's Cooking School in San Francisco when we made a wonderful corn soup with a fresh tomato salsa. As soon as I saw those ears of corn I knew I would make that soup as soon as I got home.

As I visited with each farmer at the market, exclaiming over all the beautiful produce, I was able to buy the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomatillos and jalapenos that I needed for the salsa that would top each serving of corn soup.

The soup doesn't take long to make. Removing the kernels of corn from the cob is not difficult when you stand each ear of corn on its wide end in a large bowl. Using a sharp knife or an electric knife, cut away the kernels from each ear. I ran into a friend at the grocery store today who told me when he does this job, he props an ear of corn in the middle hole of an angel food cake pan and then cuts the kernels away using an electric knife. The corn drops into the cake pan

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blueberrypieA friend of mine from NYC called the other day to ask which pie bakery I preferred. He had guests from Norway stopping by that afternoon for coffee and wanted to offer them a slice of “American pie”.

When he told me a whole pie from a bakeshop would cost anywhere from $35-$65, I suggested he take a quick lesson in pie making and bake one himself. He had 3 hours before they arrived and I was convinced I could help him get a pie, prepped, baked, and on a cooling rack before they rang his buzzer.

I quickly emailed this recipe for Best Ever Blueberry pie and he raced to his local grocery store to pick up everything we needed, (including a pie plate). With the help of Skype, I coached him through the basic steps (he saved time with a ready-made pie crust) and the pie was in the oven in no time.

There's nothing better than the smell of a freshly baked pie and this one is certain to please any guest.

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