Calvados Cocktail

Calvados Cocktail
Richmond and Annette gave me a bottle of Calvados (French apple brandy) for my birthday. I love Calvados, but I seldom have enough to spare for cocktailian experiments. This surprise windfall enabled me to try a few forgotten cocktails from Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails
The Calvados Cocktail was an obvious starting point. It's delicious, in a very oddball kind of way. It finishes with an unbelievable blast of orange bitters that makes it spectacular... or just weird. Try it, and then decide for yourself.

Greek Easter Bread

TsourekiTsoureki, or Greek Easter Bread, is difficult, expensive, and delicious in an exotic way that takes it far beyond the realm of everyday cuisine.  It is worth learning, if you have the skill, the time and patience, and access to three peculiar ingredients.

Debbie's Mango Pie

Debbie's Mango Pie

This splash of tropical sunshine was a huge hit at one of our Actifio Pot-lucks, and it was photographed for this article in Inc. Magazine's December-January 2014-15 issue!

Now Debbie's a star and her Mango Pie is a command performance every time we have another pot-luck lunch at work.

This is easy no-bake recipe is great whenever you can get fresh mango pulp.

Cappon Magro

A Small Cappon Magro

This is a fabulous seafood antipasto: seafood on a pile of steamed vegetables with a piquant Genoese green sauce to hold it together. 

Shown here is a small one made with only shrimp with steamed potatoes and pearl onions. See the first comment for two tips on how to make this delicious invention into a less intimidating affair.

St Patrick's Day Feast

St Patrick's Day Irish DinnerMy father's mother was born Peggy McBreen on Saint Patrick's Day in Bailieboro, County Cavan, Ireland. She's no longer with us, but I remember her every St Patrick's Day with an Irish feast and a proper Irish Coffee.

Most of these dishes came from Salmon Books' Favourite Irish Recipes.

Here's what we had:

  • We opened the meal with an assortment of Four Cheeses from Upstate New York that we scored on Saturday's trip to the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. These were served with strong tea and Irish Whole Wheat Soda Bread.
  • This was followed by Clam Soup, featuring fresh clams dug by our friend Rob out of nearby Duxbury Harbor. It was thickened with Jersey Cow Cream and seasoned with a lot of celery. It was really a sort of chowder by New England standards. It was a surprise hit.
  • Next came an Irish Baked Salmon and Colcannon.
  • With the meal we enjoyed a Slumbrew Porter Square Porter from Somerville Brewing and the last of the homebrewed cider from the cellar.
  • We finished with Irish Coffee and a lovely Honey Pudding.

The feast was held on Sunday, 18 March 2012.

Attendees were John and Lorna, Richmond and Annette


Type of Post: 
What's on my Plate?

Boston Baked Beans in the traditional beanpot

Beans are one of the Three Sisters, the trio of local foods that supported the Pilgrims and other early settlers. Thanks to their hardiness, easy cultivation, and excellent storability, beans soon became a core component of colonial New England cuisine. In fact, beans became so identified with New England that Boston became popularly referred to as Beantown.

Beans are a climbing plant. Today if you grow beans in your garden, you probably let them climb a beanpole. The Native Americans had a clever way to save space in (and dig less of) that stony New England soil: they also grew corn, and used the cornstalks as beanpoles.

You can find a lot of interesting information about beans in this article from the Maine Folklife Center at the University of Maine. The beans part starts in the fourth paragraph and continues to the end of the page.

Soak Beans Overnight

Fresh green beans can be steamed right from the garden, of course, but the great value of beans is their ability to be dried, stored and transported over primitive roads with low risk of spoilage.


Colcannon Colcannon is a traditional Irish vegetable side dish made with mashed potatoes and shredded cabbage, flavored with leeks boiled in milk or cream. After it is all mashed together it gets baked again and served with melted butter that sits in a well in the center.

Because it has the cream and it gets baked after it is all mashed together, it get a sort of twice-baked potato texture and flavor that goes well with Irish Baked Salmon.

Though I seldom eat potatoes, I have made this easy recipe again and again to share with friends. The biggest part of the recipe can be prepared ahead of time for later reheating. It's a nice change from the ubiquitous garlic-mashed-potatoes and others of that ilk served at so many restaurants today.

Potato-Caraway Bread Redux

Potato-Caraway Bread Redux, photo by BBQ Mike ConrodHere's a hearty bread for deli sandwiches or stew bread bowls.

It's the basic recipe for Potato-Caraway Bread, with flax meal and rye flour added. This recipe also calls for baking the potatoes for mashing, rather than boiling them. 

Because this recipe makes a loaf with such a great crust, this redux version includes some tips for using it as bread bowls.


a small KulebiakaThis Russian fish pie is wonderful made with Atlantic salmon. It's a big recipe, and a festive one, so it's great to prepare a big one for a crowd or you can make four smaller ones for a more intimate dinner (as shown here). Much of it can easily be prepared ahead of time, leaving only the final assembly and baking to be done on the day of the great feast. 

This is a great crowd-pleaser recipe, because it's easy to make and it makes you look like a culinary genius! 

It's an easy matter of making the crust and then filling it with layers of rice, sauteed mushrooms, hard-cooked egg, and poached fish, all of which can be prepared ahead of time. When you take that into account, the time required to prepare this for a fancy dinner is no more than an hour if you have prepared all the components beforehand.

a kulebiaka, cut

This recipe looks like a big dinner, but it's not as heavy as it looks, so it works for summer as well as winter. Serve this with a dry New England hard cider, or a crisp rose wine (or chilled vodka, or beer, or whatever you please!).



CastagnaccioCastagnaccio is a traditional Tuscan unleavened bread for travelers and field-workers. It's heavy, flavorful, and nourishing without being too sweet.

Castagnaccio is made with fresh chestnut flour, olive oil, rosemary, and pignoli, and sometimes raisins. I get chestnut flour in Boston's North End at Polcari's Market or at Salumeria Italiana; I am told that it is also available at Whole Foods sometimes. 

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