Monthly Archives: September 2012

See You at the Fair!

On March 31, 1713, Lexington was incorporated as a town. Up until that time, it was known as Cambridge Farms and was part of the city of Cambridge, 8 miles away. Now it’s 2012. In celebration of the 300th anniversary f the town, opening ceremonies and other festivities were held this weekend to kickoff a 9 month celebration that will end Memorial Day 2013.

The opening ceremonies were held in two locations with a high-tech simulcast between the two locales. There were speeches and music and dancing and singing. It was a morning filled with civic pride. It was a little bit corny, but fun to part of the enthusiasm and spirit of the day.

Next on the day’s agenda was an all-town photo. I’m not sure how many people participated, but there were a lot of people on the town track. Again, high technology made this possible. I’m not quite sure how it worked, but click here to see the photo.

Finally, there was an old-fashioned country fair. Many local businesses and organizations were there to promote their merchandise, services, or mission. And, there was a blue ribbon contest. There were both food and gardening categories. Food categories were Jams and Jellies, Family Favorite Corn Dish, or Quick Breads. Gardening categories were Widest Sunflower Head, Tastiest Tomato, or Oddest Vegetable.

My friend Laury and I both entered in the Quick Bread category. She baked a Sweet Potato Bread, and I made an Apple Bread. As much as I loved my own bread, with its pieces of apples, crystallized ginger, and chopped almonds, I came up empty-handed. However, I pleased to report that Laury took the blue ribbon! It was quite exciting!

Laury proudly showing off her ribbon

In honor of her award, here’s her recipe:

Laury’s Sweet Potato Bread

1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup orange juice
1¼ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 cup pecans

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan and dust it with flour, tapping out the excess.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sweet potato just enough to lighten it. Add both sugars, eggs, oil, and orange juice. Beat for 1 minute.

Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspices, and cloves. Remove the beaters and use a rubber spatula to stir in the pecans.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake the bread in the preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Let the loaf rest in the pan for 30 minutes. Remove from the pan, and let it cool completely on a rack. Slice thickly to serve.

ffwd: chicken basquaise

Autumn is here! Fall weather with its crisp mornings and evenings with warm afternoons has always been my favorite. Food cravings change this time of year too. I’m actually tiring of tomatoes and corn and ready for squash and apples. I always think of peppers as a transitional vegetable. While their Mediterranean-ness plant them mentally in summer, they are most plentiful in late summer and early fall. Fortunately for peppers, they complement tomatoes and winter squash equally well.

This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is about as peppery as you can get. Chicken Basquaise is a satisfying stew from the Basque region of France. Peppers, in the form of a silky piperade, star in this dish.

I would say that piperade is to peppers what stewed tomatoes are to tomatoes. First, sweet onions are sautéed until soft. Then a huge pile of peppers are added to the pan to soften as well. I used a combination of dark green, light green, red, and purple peppers. Finally, some diced plum tomatoes, garlic, and herbs are added to round things out. Everything cooks together for the flavors to meld.

For convenience, I made the piperade the day before I made the final dish. When it was dinner time, I browned the chicken thighs, deglazed the pan with white wine, then added the piperade. The stew simmered while I made rice and a salad.

I’m wondering if the piperade would freeze well. With the sauce already prepared, this was a quick meal to prepare. The piperade doesn’t take that long to make, but doing it all in one shot would be impossible on a weeknight.

Chicken basquaise was a hit. It offered wonderful comfort food for the changing weather. The aroma of the peppers was reminiscent of Italian sausage and peppers, and my husband mentioned that, based on the smell, he was expecting bites of sausage in the dish. There’s an idea for next time.

I’ve also set aside some of the piperade to try as Eggs and Piperade for a breakfast this weekend. Can’t wait to try it!

We don’t post the recipes, but consider getting your own copy of the book, Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.

To see the other Doristas’ chicken basquaise, follow their links posted here.