Savor Nantucket -June 2009

Recipes from the Parishioners of St. Mary’s

by: M.R. Stanton

photography by: Jeffrey Allen

Church cookbooks tend to be homely little tomes: spiral-bound collections of recipes from churchgoers, compiled to raise a few dollars to help support the church’s mission and often its operating fund.

Recipes bear names such as Lazy Gal’s Stew, Ella’s Prune Cake, or Lime Pineapple Mold. The contributor’s name is usually listed at the bottom of the recipe, so if someone has always been looking for Mrs. So-and-So’s great recipe for tarred roof cake, then there it is.

But this is not only the 21st century, but the 21st century on Nantucket, where everything – even church cookbooks – has gone upscale in the last 25 years.

Two years ago St. Paul’s Episcopal Church raised the bar for church cookbooks by hiring some island photographers to contribute photos of Nantucket while the cookbook was also set up with menus to match the seasons and the many events we hold from Daffodil Weekend to Christmas Stroll, and featured a full-color cover.

Last year the ladies, and some of the men, at St. Mary’s Our Lady of the Isle Catholic Church put together a cookbook of recipes from parishioners and friends that knocks the socks off the typical church ladies’ cookbook. “Savor Nantucket” features the photography of Nantucket’s Jeffrey Allen and styling, editing and layout by Kathleen Hay Designs, with the reliable Libby Oldham serving as copy editor. The book is a stunner, worthy of coffee-table praise as well as kudos from the kitchen.

The cookbook is conveniently divided into eight sections: appetizers; breakfasts and breads; soups and condiments; salads and dressings; vegetables and sides; seafood; meat and poultry; and desserts and sweets.

The recipes are all fairly simple and easy to follow, so the book makes a nice hostess gift this year if you are visiting friends on the island, and is an excellent present to bring home.

We flipped through the pages and found several recipes that would be perfect do-ahead picnic fare.

Garlic-stuffed Clams are a real Nantucket dish, perfect with a cold beer or soda for the kids at the end of the day. Serve these hors d’oeuvres along with Deviled Eggs with Shrimp for a cool contrast of flavors before your meal.

Everyone seems to resort to the same old salads for summer picnics: potato, pasta, cole slaw and mixed greens. We found the Almond Broccoli Salad with red and green grapes a nice alternative. The flavors are fresh, the texture crunchy with the almonds and broccoli, and smooth and cooling with the grapes. Perfect for a hot summer day.

If you really want to give your dinner an island flavor, serve up the Clambake in a Pot. It couldn’t be easier to do or cheaper as it saves you the expense of digging a pit and making the “bake” at the beach, or of shelling out big money for a restaurant clambake.

Not a seafood fan? You probably have everything you need in your pantry and fridge for the Cheese-Stuffed Italian Chicken, which is essentially herbed chicken breasts, rolled around a mozzarella stick and coated in bread crumbs. When the chicken rolls are done baking they are sliced to reveal the spiral of herbs, vegetables and cheese inside. A very pretty dish, and easy to prepare ahead, ready to pop into the oven when guests arrive for drinks.

Summer doesn’t call for fancy desserts. A plate of watermelon slices and some homemade brownies or chocolate chip cookies, or Grandma Vera’s Cherry Coffee Cake Torte, would be just fine. The latter is a simpler cobbler-like recipe that relies on canned pie filling. It is easy to make, easy to serve and very good, especially served warm out of the oven with whipped cream or ice cream. You could easily substitute a can of blueberry, peach or apple-pie filling for the cherry.

I am sending “Savor Nantucket” to my two best friends who grew up with me on Nantucket, and good Catholic girls that they were, will appreciate the memories of their birthplace as well as recipes that harken back to simpler days. The book is worth its weight alone for Julie Reinemo’s recipe from the Downyflake for Scotch-Irish Cake. My only disappointment was that the book didn’t put the name of the person who donated the recipe with the recipe. Instead, all the donors are listed at the end of the book.

The cookbook can be purchased at island bookstores: Mitchell’s, Nantucket Bookworks and The Hub as well as ordered online for $38 at www.stmarysnantucket.org/cookbookindex.html.

CHEESE-STUFFED ITALIAN CHICKEN

4 (4 oz.) skinless, boneless chicken 
breast halves
1⁄8 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. basil
1⁄4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1⁄4 cup minced green bell pepper
4 3⁄4 oz. part-skim milk mozzarella 
cheese sticks
2 tbsps. fat-free Italian dressing
1⁄8 tsp. paprika
1⁄4 cup dry bread crumbs

  1. Using a mallet, flatten each chicken breast to quarter-inch thickness between plastic wrap or waxed paper.
  2. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt, 1/2 tbsp. basil and crushed red pepper. Sprinkle each half with 1 tbsp. bell pepper. Place one cheese stick lengthwise down the center. Roll up, jelly-roll fashion. Brush rolls with Italian dressing. Combine paprika and bread crumbs. Dredge chicken rolls in mixture, turning to coat evenly.
  3. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, seam-side down. Lightly coat chicken with spray. Sprinkle with remaining basil. Bake at 400 degrees F. or until done. Let stand two minutes before serving or until cheese sets.

DEVILED EGGS WITH SHRIMP

1⁄3 to 1⁄2 cup chopped cooked shrimp
2 tbsps. lemon or lime juice
8 large eggs
1⁄4 tsp. Coleman’s dry mustard
3 tbsps. Hellmann’s mayonnaise
1⁄2 tsp. cider vinegar
Bottled horseradish
Salt
Freshly-ground pepper
Chopped fresh chives or parsley

  1. Put shrimp in a glass bowl and toss with lemon juice. Set aside. Place the eggs in a medium saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Run the eggs under cold water, peel and halve.
  2. Place the cooked yolks in a bowl and mash them with the mustard, mayonnaise, cider vinegar and horseradish, using a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain the shrimp and mix them with the egg yolks. You may need to add more mayonnaise. Stuff the whites with the egg-yolk mix, garnish with chopped chives or parsley, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

ALMOND BROCCOLI SALAD

4 cups finely-chopped fresh broccoli
1 cup celery
1 cup red seedless grapes
1 cup green seedless grapes
8 slices bacon, 
crisp-cooked and crumbled
1⁄2 cup sliced scallions
1 cup mayonnaise
1⁄4 cup sugar
2 tbsps. cider vinegar
1⁄2 tsp. pepper
1⁄2 tsp. curry powder
2⁄3 cup slivered almonds

Combine the broccoli, celery, red grapes, green grapes, bacon and scallions in a large salad bowl and toss to combine. Mix together in a small bowl the mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, pepper and curry powder. 
Add to the broccoli mixture and toss to coat. Sprinkle with almonds just before serving.

CLAMBAKE IN A POT

1 lb. linguica
3 lbs. mussels, cleaned and debearded
4 1.5 lb. lobsters
4 ears corn, husked
1 can beer or 1⁄2 cup water
3 lbs. littleneck clams
1 1⁄2 lbs. new potatoes
1 lb. bacon
Optional seasonings: bay leaf, basil, oregano and garlic

  1. Put linguica and bacon in the bottom of a large steamer pot. Add clams and mussels. Top with potatoes. Sprinkle in seasonings. Top with the corn and lobsters. Add the beer or water.
  2. Cover and cook on high for 15 minutes, shaking the pot often. After 15 minutes, check potatoes. When potatoes are done, take out lobsters and corn and set aside. Scoop out the rest of the ingredients to four platters. Arrange the lobster and corn around the edge of each platter. Serve with melted butter.
    Serves 4.

GARLIC-STUFFED CLAMS

1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1⁄4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, cut into fine shreds
24 littleneck clams, shucked and meat finely chopped (Save shells and scrub to remove any grit) or 2 eight-ounce cans chopped clams, drained
2 cups fresh French bread crumbs
1 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese

  1. In a medium-sized skillet over low heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook until the butter is infused with the flavor of the garlic, about 5 minutes. Don’t allow the garlic or butter to brown. Stir in parsley and basil and set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the clams, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Dribble in about half the butter mixture until the crumbs appear moist, 
    but not soggy. Stuff the reserved clamshells, or oven-proof, store-bought shells, with the mixture. Transfer to a baking sheet and drizzle each clam with a bit of the remaining garlic butter. At this point you can cover and refrigerate for up to two days.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake clams until heated through or when the tops begin to turn golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve warm or at room temperature.

GRANDMA VERA’S CHERRY COFFEE CAKE TORTE

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 cups flour, sifted
2 tsps. baking powder
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1 can cherry-pie filling
3 tsp. butter softened
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄4 cup flour
3⁄4 cup chopped nuts, 
sliced almonds are nice (optional)

  1. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and extracts and beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix well. Batter will be very heavy. Spread half of the batter in a 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan and cover with cherry-pie filling. Drop remaining batter over pie filling by spoonfuls and cut in with knife held vertically to swirl gently over all. Combine last four ingredients by hand to make a streusel topping. Sprinkle streusel mix over entire cherry batter mix. 
  2. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes.

M.R. Stanton writes about food, wine and travel for Nantucket Today.






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