Cookbook Spotlight: Ships of the Great Lakes Cookbook
|Oh jeez, it's been two months now (time flies!) since I saw Mary's post about these yummy looking Walnut Bars.. and yeah they really did look that good, because I can't stand walnuts but the picture had me drooling =) As I read the post, I was so intrigued by the book that the recipe came from - it was a gift to her from her parents and it contained information and recipes from the stewards (the ship's cook) on the big freighter ships that travel on the Great Lakes.|
I was so intrigued by the book, mainly I think, because these huge ships have been part of my life for, well, all of my life. I've lived no further than 2 miles (currently less than 1/2 mile) from Lake Erie my whole life, so these ships are a common occurrence in my neck of the woods. So common, in fact, that they become part of the background. I don't even really notice them all the time when I'm looking out on the lake.. just like someone who lives near a busy street or near a railroad crossing, sooner than you realize, you just block out the noise and you forget it's there.
Well thanks to my new friend, Mary, I started thinking about all of those ships and the people who live/work on them. And the more I got to thinking the more curious I was about what they ate. I left her a comment on that post and that was the beginning of many conversations between us. As it happened, Mary and sweet Sara were in touch with the publishers of Ships of the Great Lakes Cookbook
with the idea of this book being the next Cookbook Spotlight. I received an e-mail from Mary asking if I'd be interested on reviewing the book.. oh hell yes, I'd be interested! I was tickled she asked me and just as excited to read the book.
A few weeks later a package arrived containing the book and a very cool nautical themed book mark! Maritime Book Threads to be exact - check them out, they are very cool (I got the anchor thread and it rocks) Okay so a cool cook book and some cool book bling - what's not to like about this deal, eh? =)
I think my first perusal of the book was more concentrated on the ship's stories and background info - also to see if there were any mentioned from Northeast Ohio (there was).. I really couldn't take a detailed look at it because I had a certain fisherman type person nagging me the whole time, "I wanna see!" "Can I look now?" "C'mon! My turn!!" Ugh. And so, I gave up the book for a few hours.
When I finally got it back, I started taking note of some recipes I wanted to try. There are many really good sounding recipes in this book - and most of them are easy to make, down home recipes that you'd expect from this kind of book. Although there is a french pastry recipe tossed in here and there ;) The only one thing that bummed me about this book was that I'd happen upon a recipe that sounded so damn good and I'd get all, "Oh yeah, I'm making this for dinner this week!!" and then it'd be a big let down because the recipe served like 97 people. Hello? I'm pretty confident in my skills to cut a recipe in half.. even thirds.. but from 97 to uhhmm maybe 4? Yeah, that's a lil too much friction for my wee brain cells, if yanno what I mean?
And that really is my only bitch about the book. The lay out is nice and it's the kind of cookbook that doesn't bother me with it's lack of pictures. I like how so many freighters, Coast Guard vessels, tall ships, passenger vessels and the old retired ships - some of which have been turned into museums - have been highlighted. Not only is there a picture of the ship, but information on what it carried, how large it was, who the key personnel were and actual menu's are printed too. There is just so much more to this cook book than recipes. I would recommend this book to just about anyone - I can't imagine someone not being able to find a few good recipes as well as not learning anything from the book's stories.
Now as for the recipes I made.. well, not to keep using this as an excuse, but it seemed that during the time from my mom's fall, through all of her follow up doctor appointments and just generally caring for her, my opportunities to actually cook or bake the recipes I wanted, just kinda of slipped by. I did manage to make two though! Although one was scarfed down so quickly by myself, hubbs and my little sister that when the thought surfaced to grab the camera there was pretty much an empty pan sitting in front of us. And that was the morning I made Cinnamon Rolls courtesy of the fine cooks on the Schooner Manitou, docked in Michigan. All I can say is they were the first yeast rolls that I've ever made and they were easy and soooooooooooooo delicious. All warm and gooey what with the cinnamon/sugar between the layers and the vanilla icing on top.. *swoon* I will be making them again and I will photograph how pretty they came out. =)
The second recipe was thought about for quite some time - especially when I saw that one of the loves of my life, that sexy Laura Rebecca had made my first two choices.. the roasted potatoes and braised pork chops with cabbage. I shall still make them, especially from seeing how gorgeous hers turned out.
But now we are having some especially lovely weather and I'm in the mood for a picnic, which led me to choose Marinated Focaccia Bread Sandwiches. The description reminded me of a muffuletta, a sandwich I've always wanted to make anyway. Unfortunately, I ran into a snag when purchasing the ingredients I'd need. We went to two different shops for focaccia bread (there was no way I could make my own) and struck out both times. So at the 2nd shop, I opted for Monterey Sour Dough. And as I was making the sandwich, I thought with just the meats and cheeses, it might be a little dry so I added a layer of roasted red and yellow peppers and also a layer of mild banana pepper rings. I made the marinade as per the recipe and used the salami, proscuitto and Provolone that was called for. I wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap and placed in my fridge. When I took it out the next day, my fridge smelled really quite good!
I cut the sandwich up into smaller, easier to handle portions and served this with a buffet of nibblers that we enjoyed on our "picnic" in front of the tube watching Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe *swoon* We both enjoyed this sandwich very much, but we agreed to try a different bread the next time and to double the marinade because it lended wonderful flavor but the bread was still a little dry. The addition of the roasted peppers and the banana peppers was spot on - they really went well with this sandwich. It was super easy to make, and was quite huge - plenty to serve 4 easily.
Marinated Focaccia Bread Sandwiches
Courtesy of Ships of the Great Lakes Cookbook, published by Creative Characters Publishing Group, 2001
2 (14 inch) Focaccia flat breads, homemade or purchased at an Italian bakery (Bobbi also works)
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 TBS. fresh basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 TBS. onion, finely minced
2 TBS. garlic, finely minced
2 TBS. green olives, finely minced
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 lb. salami, sliced
1/2 lb. proscuitto, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. Provolone cheese, sliced
Combine ingredients for marinade and set aside. Cut a very thin top layer off each bread to expose bread and allow marinade to soak in. Spread 1/2 marinade on the cut side of 1 of the flat breads. Layer cheese, proscuitto and salami on marinated side of bread. Spread remaining marinade on cut side of second flat bread; place on top of layered filling ingredients. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Unwrap cut into squares and serve.