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Volume 40 Issue 15 • August 12-18, 2010
now in our 40th season

Potent Portable Potables

by Jenn Farmer
Chef, Bartlett’s Ocean View Farm 

Entertainment and food have been going hand-in-hand since ancient times.  I cannot fib: I am a cook that needs music to work effectively.  It is funny to watch, actually.  At first everything is alright, but I progressively get more and more distracted.  Then comes the melt down, (I believe this stems from hearing myself think too much).  I just get too easily diverted, I cannot find a rhythm, and start too many projects.  Then inevitably I start walking in circles.  “Please can we put some music on” or “Can we please change the station” are two phrases that come from me on a regular basis.   Some of my co-workers find it pretty entertaining to watch, but for me it is truly counterproductive.  Even when I am whipping up a quick meal at home, there needs to be some sound for me to create something edible.

My mother, who is incidentally unaware (or at least was) of this cooking handicap of mine, has been sending me these wonderful little music cd’s with corresponding recipe cards.  They are my favorite!  Not only is the music great for preparing food (except the baby and children’s food/bedtime music set- it is waaay too soothing!), but if you are throwing a theme party the music flows with the event.  The best gift ever!  I especially love the retro cocktail party set.  It has upbeat music by Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, and Louis Armstrong among others.  The recipes included are for spiced nuts, little finger sandwiches, pineapple ham skewers, and martinis of course!  I even like to listen to this cd when I am not cooking 
As crazy as it sounds, certain genres lend themselves to cooking.  Depending on what I am cooking,  Latin beats, and Indian influenced music are two of my favorite genres to cook by.  If I am working on something very intricate or important, I prefer opera or Jazz piano.  In fact I find nearly every style of music fits a style of cooking.  Even hard rock or heavy metal is great when working quickly, especially for short intervals.  Well I guess there is a time and place for every type of music. 

The Pops for me are one of the ultimate food and music occurrences.  It gives people a chance to experience something on a large scale with a whole lot of other people who are interested in having a similar event.  I love the concept of it.  When I was thinking about the Pops this year, this is the food I thought of, and the food I would picture would be on the recipe cards that pair with the music.  Simple yet elegant food, that is suitable for a toting to a picnic and sharing.  I also chose food that had a little twist or spice or sass to it, since well that is how I feel about the Pops.  Yes I listened to the Boston Pops during this composition, just to keep me on track.   

London Potted Shrimp

  • 1 pound shrimp, preferably small sized
  • Bay leaf
  • Two allspice
  • Salt
  • 14 ounces (1.5 cups) unsalted butter, clarified
  • One quarter teaspoon ground mace (if you have no mace a pinch of nutmeg may be substituted)
  • One quarter teaspoon cayenne pepper, ground
  • Melba toast or toast points
  • Lemon wedges
  • Chives, chopped

Cook the shrimp in salted water with a bay leaf and allspice.  Simmer until the shrimp are cooked.  Chill the shrimp in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.  Peel the shrimp, and chop into quarter inch pieces. 

Put one cup of the clarified butter into a saucepan with the shrimp, mace, and cayenne.  Cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the spices are well infused in the butter.  Divide the shrimp and butter into four ramekins, pressing firmly on the shrimp with a spoon.  Chill the ramekins for about 3-4 hours.

In a small saucepan just barely melt the remaining clarified butter, be aware not to let the butter become hot.  Pour the melted butter evenly into the ramekins, to seal the shrimp.  Refrigerate for another 2 hours, or preferably overnight.  Serve the potted shrimp with warm toast points or Melba toast, lemon wedges, and garnished with chives.    Serves four.

Chickpea and Portuguese Chorizo Salad

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • One quarter cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red-wine or sherry wine vinegar
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 anaheim, or jalepeno chilie
  • 1 pound tomatoes, small diced
  • 1 small red onion, small diced
  • 2 cans chickpeas rinsed and drained (or 15 ounces cooked fresh chickpeas)
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Pinch of smoked paprika (optional)

One half pound Portuguese or Spanish Chorizo, sliced lengthwise, then into slices (half moons)
Make vinaigrette with the garlic, vinegar, and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  Grill or broil the red pepper and chilie pepper, until the skin begins to blister, and becomes black.  Put into a small bowl, and wrap with plastic wrap immediately, set aside for about 10 minutes.  Unwrap the chilies, and remove the skins from the peppers.  Remove the stems and seeds before chopping into a medium dice.  Toss together with remaining ingredients, except chorizo.

In a small sauté pan heat a tablespoon of olive oil, then add chorizo and cook until it is crispy.  Toss the chorizo into the salad and mix well.  Taste the salad, and season with salt and pepper if necessary.  Serve immediately if possible.  It may be refrigerated and served later, but it should be brought back to room temperature before serving.  It also should be served the same day; the quality suffers significantly after about 5 or 6 hours.  Serves about four

This recipe comes from a restaurant that specialized in Asian cuisine.  I love the flavor and texture of these cookies.  Sometimes the chef would replace the almond garnish on the cookie with half of a maraschino cherry before baking.  I dislike maraschino cherries, but somehow they are very good in this cookie.

Delicious Almond Cookies

  • One half cup unsalted butter, softened
  • Three quarters cup granulated sugar
  • Two eggs, each beaten, by kept separate
  • One and one half cups flour
  • One half teaspoon baking powder
  • One half teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • One teaspoon almond extract
  • One cup almonds finely chopped
  • 25 almonds, blanched or maraschino cherry halves

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly spray or grease some sheet pans.  Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer for about 5 minutes, until very light and smooth.  Add one egg, and beat until very smooth.  Sift together all dry ingredients, and slowly incorporate into the butter mixture, mixing well.  Next add the almonds and the extract and mix until fairly smooth. 

Drop by Tablespoons onto sheet pans; about one and a half inches apart (it will yield 25 cookies).  Brush the cookies with remaining egg, and press an almond or cherry into the center of each cookie.  Bake the cookies for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are golden and a little puffy.   Cool slightly on baking sheet before transferring them to racks to cool completely.  Store the cookies in tightly sealed containers to retain crispness.  Makes 25 cookies.


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