Yesterday's Island Today's Nantucket
Volume 40 Issue 21 • Sept. 30 - mid-Nov., 2010, now in our 40th season

Fresh Autumn!

by Jenn Farmer
Chef, Bartlett’s Ocean View Farm 

Autumn is finally here in all its glory.  The air has become crisp, and the evenings have a refreshing chill to them.  My favorite harvest is about to begin, Cranberry!  I love those tart little berries, and am excited to hear they are exceptionally healthy.  They are packed with vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, fiber, antioxidants, and are great for detoxifying the body.  The Native Americans used them for food, as well as “removing poisons” from wounds and as a beautiful natural dye.  They frequently sweetened cranberries with honey or maple sugar.  Cranberries also have excellent keeping qualities, and were frequently shipped on long voyages from North America to Europe in the 1700s and 1800s.  It is believed the Native Americans and English settlers (here in Massachusetts near Plymouth!) enjoyed cranberries at the first Thanksgiving, which of course is still our tradition today.   

There are only three fruits native to North America, cranberries are one of them!  They live in sandy bogs or marsh areas, on a type of low-bush evergreen shrubs with trailing vines.  The berries start out white, then turn ruby red.  So if you were ever wondering where white cranberry juice came from, it is the un-ripened berries.   Cranberries are harvested in two ways.  Dry harvested cranberries, are picked with machines, or by hand.  They only account for about 5% of the cranberries harvested, and are the fresh ones found in the produce aisle.  The rest are wet harvested.  Since mature cranberries float, the bog can be flooded with water, and then the floating berries can be gathered in an area, and removed from the water.  The wet harvested cranberries are typically used in products like juices, and sauce.  On October 9, there is a local harvest of cranberries at the bogs on the way to ‘Sconset.  It is a fun festival, very informative, and very interesting.  The red berries floating in the blue water of the flooded bogs are beautiful, so don’t forget your camera!  I highly recommend taking the journey, even if it means going out of your way to see it.  

Personally, I love the tart and bitter qualities of cranberries.  It makes them wonderful for savory, as well as sweet food applications.  They are also great raw and cooked.  If you are enjoying them raw, sugar usually needs to be added to make them palatable.  I love fresh cranberries, chopped with an orange, a few walnuts and some maple syrup as an accompaniment for turkey or pork.  Cranberries are also great in desserts.  Here is one of my favorites; it is unique, crisp and delicious, especially warm. 

Cranberry Apple Strudel

  • 6 tart apples (like granny smith) peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • One half cup dried cranberries
  • One and one half cup brown sugar or maple sugar
  • One teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 sheets of phyllo dough
  • One quarter cup melted butter or shortening
  • One half cup gingersnaps, or graham cracker crumbs
  • One half cup fresh raspberries or blueberries
  • One third cup mascarpone cheese (optional)
  • 2- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar (optional)
  • One teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Cook apples with dried fruit, cinnamon, and sugar until fairly tender (8-10 min).  Allow to drain, saving liquid.  Set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Layer 2 phyllo sheets on each other, brush top sheet with melted butter.  Sprinkle with one third cookie crumbs.  Layer 2 more sheets on top of crumbs, and repeat process.  Add last two sheets, and spread drained apple mixture on top.  Roll up from shorter end, and carefully place the strudel on a cooking sheet.  Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes till golden in color.  The next steps are optional, for whipped mascarpone cheese topping.  Whip the mascarpone in a mixer with powdered sugar and vanilla, until the cheese has lightened and is like a heavy whipped cream in texture.   Carefully cut cooled strudel into slices for serving.  Garnish with fresh berries, a dollop of whipped mascarpone and drizzle with liquid.  Serves 8

It is nearly Nantucket bay scallop season also.  They are about as precious as gold to seafood lovers.  The sweetness is incomparable.  My favorite way to enjoy bay scallops is shucked fresh from the ocean and eaten raw. There are hundreds of delicious recipes for the precious bay scallop.  The following is a spinoff of an old favorite.  If you are not fortunate enough to have Nantucket bay scallops, fresh sea scallops are a good substitute, but they take a little longer to cook. 

Nantucket Bay Scallops with Lacquered Bacon

  • Maple Sugar Glazed Bacon
  • One third cup maple sugar or brown sugar
  • Ground black pepper
  • One pound thickly sliced apple wood smoked bacon
  • 1 pound Nantucket Bay Scallops (Sea scallops can also be substituted)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, move rack to top or nearly top position.
Line a baking sheet with foil, and layout bacon on sheet.  Evenly sprinkle bacon with maple sugar and a little pepper.  Bake for 15-20 min until well glazed and crispy.  Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile dry scallops well, and remove large abductor muscle (this step is optional, but makes for a slightly less chewy finished product—if you are using sea scallops make certain to remove the tough abductor muscle).  Add a small amount of cooking oil or olive oil to a non-stick pan, and heat until it is very hot, the oil, nearly smoking.  Carefully place the scallops into pan, being careful not to overcrowd them—they will be cooked in batches.  Don’t move the scallops until you are ready to turn them over (after about 30-40 seconds on each side, longer if large sea scallops are being used).  They will be golden and crispy when done.  Avoid overcooking them, they become very chewy and undesirable.   Remove from pan, wipe out pan, and reheat it or the next batch.

Cut the bacon into bite sized pieces and affix the scallops onto them with a toothpick.  Eat while hot!

One of my favorite fall meals is seared scallops with wild rice and cranberry pilaf, served with winter squash puree.  It is comforting and fulfills the flavors of the season.  A nice salad with scallops and dried cranberries, and toasted pumpkin seeds  served with citrus vinaigrette is another autumn favorite in my house. When I serve roast meat, I like to make the following unique cranberry sauce.  I am not sure where I got this recipe so long ago, but I know it by heart.  It is tart and delicious!

Horseradish Cranberry Sauce

  • One pint fresh cranberries
  • One quarter cup freshly grated horseradish
  • One third cup sugar
  • Juice from one half of a lemon

Coarsely chop, or pulse together in food processor, then refrigerate mixture for a few hours or overnight to combine flavors.  Serve with roast beef or pork or lamb, which has been rubbed with fresh garlic and herbs before roasting.  4-6 servings.


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