How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

It's Maryland Day!

Maryland holds a special place in the hearts of the Nueva Receta bloggers. Not only is it the land of Pam's birth, it is where we met and fell in love. See the whole story here. We started celebrating Maryland Day a few years ago, which then morphed into a year long project of recognizing the anniversary of each state with food, books, and movies. We no longer do every state, but do try to remember Arizona, Texas, and Maryland every year, and often our honorary home in Wisconsin as well. We began this year's celebration with coffee in our Maryland-themed mugs, accompanied by fresh-baked basil-corn muffins from the Dishing Up Maryland cookbook.

I began by mixing 1 1/4 c. Flour with 1/2 c. Cornmeal. I used twice the amount of cornmeal that the recipe indicated because I did not have the fresh corn kernels called for. I mixed this with 2 T. sugar, 3 t. baking powder, and 1/2 t. of salt. Once these were mixed I added 1 c. milk, 1 egg, 1/4 c. Canola oil and 1 T. chopped fresh basil (which was harvested right out of our windowsill). I divided the batter into 12 muffin cups and baked in my convection oven for 20 minutes at 375. James and I enjoyed these warm from the oven with a pat of butter. Savory taste with a wonderful texture, we will definitely make these again - perhaps late in the summer when we can be sure to add the fresh corn kernels.

(Note from James:  Pam was the  "I" who prepared the muffins above and the shrimp pate below. The muffins were even better than I thought they would be. Light and airy, sweet and just slightly savory. Much more suitable for breakfast than it might sound.)

Dinner comprised two more recipes from Dishing Up Maryland - an appetizer of shrimp pate and a chicken salad. The pate was easy to make, and put James in mind of the old Bass-o-Matic gag from the original Saturday Night Live. The cooked shrimp (about 3/4 lb.) was put into a blender along with  2 T. softened cream cheese, 3 T. softened butter, a healthy dollop of mayonnaise, the juice of one lime, 1 chopped garlic clove, a bit of dill, a generous helping of Old Bay (what would Maryland Day be without that!) and a few shakes of Tabasco sauce. I used the pulse setting until everything was finely chopped and evenly distributed. We spread the pate onto some good artisan bread. Delicious, and with plenty of leftovers so we can enjoy more tomorrow.
We picked this cookbook up in Nantucket!
Dinner was a delicious salad from the same book. We could not use ingredients from Washington County's Rinehart Orchards, as suggested at the top of the recipe, but managed to make quite a tasty salad with the store-bought apples and pears we can get this time of year. To make the salad, we (James taking the lead on this one, both in the kitchen and on the blog) modified the recipe entitled Apple and Pear Salad with Grilled Chicken and Pecans, on page 160.

We were fortunate to have firm apples and pears. I sliced the top and bottom off of each so that some skin would be retained, but not too much. I sliced them thin and set them aside. I then heated blood-orange-infused olive oil in our indispensable cast-iron skillet, to which I added three boneless, skinless chicken breasts, also sliced fairly thin. The recipe had called for grilling chicken, but at the end of a long -- though beautiful -- day this was not in the cards. The high-temp saute worked well with this tender, organic chicken.

Meanwhile, Pam rinsed spinach greens and arranged them on plates, adding the fruit slices, crumbled feta, and chopped walnuts (pecans having not made it onto our shopping list). We then added the chicken and a dressing I had made by vaguely following the recipe and whisking together about 3T each of the blood-orange olive oil and regular canola oil, together with about 1T each of Dijon, honey, and serrano-honey balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt.

The result was a salad that was both sweet and substantial, with many vibrant flavors. We paired it not-so-perfectly with a Snake Dog IPA from Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Maryland (home of our favorite oil and vinegar emporium). We had found it this afternoon in a shop in Concord after we had celebrated the day with a nice jaunt around Walden Pond. We had been hoping for a Maryland wine -- which would have paired beautifully -- but were happy to find several beers and ales from a brewery we have already enjoyed. The beer/wine clerk was delighted to learn it was Maryland Day, so that he could let his wife and father-in-law (from Bethesda) know that he had marked the occasion. We chilled the ale thoroughly and it was delicious -- more like an extra course than a side beverage.

Leftover plans: Maryland Day will be the culinary gift that keeps on giving. Monday morning's breakfast will feature omelets made with some Vermont extremely sharp cheddar cheese, some eggs from a friend in Bridgewater, and the remainder of the pear and apple slices. We had a bit of chicken left over, which we stored in the dressing -- a kind of post-cooked marinade. We do not know quite how we use this, but it will be put to a good use, and the delicious shrimp dip will of course not be lingering long in the fridge!

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