Saturday, February 25, 2023

Cadillac Mountain Stout

One place that we love to visit is Acadia National Park in Maine. Every part of the park, from Jordan Pond to Sand Beach, from Schoodic Point to Cadillac Mountain is amazing. Like many national parks, Acadia offers a person the ability to surround themselves with some of the most amazing and beautiful scenes that nature has to offer. 

Just as certain as we are to see the various sights of the park when we visit Acadia, we will find our way to Atlantic Brewing. (We are, after all, Savage Boleks.)  Atlantic Brewing has two locations, the original one on Knox Road and a newer tap room in downtown Bar Harbor. I made it to both over the course of our vacation.

Back in 2008, Atlantic Brewing purchased Bar Harbor Brewing and its recipes. Atlantic Brewing continues to make two of Bar Harbor's beers - Thunder Hole Ale and Cadillac Mountain Stout. Needless to say, we had both while we were in Bar Harbor, and, we took home a four pack of the Cadillac Mountain Stout to enjoy back at home. 

The Cadillac Mountain Stout is brewed in the style of a dry Irish Stout. This beer style features a jet black color, with aromatic notes and flavors of coffee or bitter chocolate that come with roasted barley, along with a smoothness that sets this beer apart from other stouts.

The brewers at Atlantic Brewing have checked off most of the key features of a dry Irish Stout with the Cadillac Mountain Stout. The beer pours as black as oil, with a thick foam whose coloration resembles a light chocolate cream. The aromatic elements feature light coffee notes, but tend more toward chocolate. That tendency is also reflected in the taste, as this dry Irish Stout as a sweetness that predominates over any bitter or roasted notes. Overall, this is perhaps one of my favorite beers brewed by Atlantic Brewing.

If you happen to find yourself at Pesamkuk, also known as Mount Desert Island, in Maine, you should make your way to Atlantic Brewing and try the stout or another of the brewery's beers. It is definitely worth the visit. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Chile-Hot Bright Green Soybeans with Garlic

This recipe comes from the Bai people, who are one of fifty-five (55) "official" ethnic minorities recognized by the People's Republic of China. There are approximately two million Bais in China, the majority of whom live in the Yunnan province, which is located in the south along the borders with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. Within the province, the Bai mostly reside in the Dali Autonomous Prefecture, around Lake Er Hai and the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.  

The Bai have a long history, having resided in the Dali region for nearly thirty centuries. The highlights of that history include the Kingdom of Nanzhao (649 C.E. to 902 C.E.) and the Dali Kingdom (937 C.E. to 1253 C.E.). However, an independent Bai kingdom vanished after falling to the Mongols of the Yuan Dynasty. And, to shorten a long story, the region and its people eventually came under the control of the Ming Dynasty and what would become modern day China. 

In addition to their own history, the Bai also have their own culture. They speak their own language, known as Bai, which differs from Mandarin or Cantonese. The majority of Bai practice Mahayana Buddhism, although some practice a form of Buddhism known as Azhaliism, which is more along the lines of Vajrayana Buddhism or Tantric Buddhism. A minority of Bai practice Benzhuism, which is an indigenous folk religion.  

As for their cuisine, the Bai diet features a range of proteins (including pork, beef and fish) and vegetables. This recipe - Chile Hot Bright Green Soybeans with Garlic - is representative of a Bai vegetable dish. I found this recipe in a book called Beyond the Great Wall, which features recipes from China's various ethnic groups.  The authors, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, note that the Bai typically prepare this dish with fresh fava beans. The authors suggest soybeans or edamame as a substitute, because it is more available and because those beans add a bright green color to the dish.


Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, Beyond the Great Wall, at pg. 103

Serves 4


  • 1 pound (2 cups) fresh or frozen shelled soybeans
  • Scant 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced pickled red chiles or store bought pickled chiles, or 5 dried red chiles
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon star anise pieces
  • About 1 cup mild chicken broth or pork broth or water
  • 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, dissolved in two tablespoons of cold water (optional)


1.  Prepare the beans.  Rinse the beans under cold water, drain and set aside.

2. Stir fry the beans. Heat a wok over high heat. Add the oil and swirl it a little, then add the chiles and garlic and stir fry for about 30 seconds. Add the soybeans and the star anise and stir fry for about 1 minute. Add the salt and broth or water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the beans are very tender, about 7 minutes.  (Fresh and frozen beans take about the same amount of time.)

3. Thicken the broth. Give the cornstarch mixture a stir and add it to the wok. Stir fry for a moment, until the liquid thickens. Turn off the heat and serve immediately. 


Sunday, February 12, 2023

Ceylon Curry of Oysters

This recipe is a reminder that we have the British to blame for what is known as "curry." (I say that half-sarcastically, half-seriously.) The word "curry" is the anglicized version of kari, a word from the Tamil language for "sauce" or "relish for rice." The British used the word "curry" to describe basically every sauce and every relish for rice. They used the word not just for those dishes in India, but also for dishes made in a similar fashion across the British empire. 

The point is that, by lumping everything together as "curry," one takes away the individuality of the underlying dishes and the cuisines from which they originate. A "curry" from the subcontinent (such as from India or Sri Lanka) is different than a curry from Southeast Asia (such as from Thailand or Vietnam). Curries also differ significantly within countries, such as from Uttar Pradesh to Tamil Nadu in India or among the different ethnic minorities of Myanmar. 

Another aspect of westernization is apparent in the recipes themselves, in which the authors substitute more readily available ingredients for those used by the locals. This substitution was done perhaps out of necessity (as some ingredients were not available to western cooks) or a misunderstanding of the ingredients.

All of these thoughts are embodied in this recipe, Ceylon Curry of Oysters. The recipe originated with a person named Darmadasa, who worked at the East India Curry shop, which was located on East 57th Street in New York City. I used the past tense because both Darmadasa and the shop could be found on East 57th Street in the late 1930s, long before the emergence of Whole Foods, BLT Steak, or Mr. Chow. Darmadasa's recipe became public through a newspaper article written by Charlotte Hughes. Ms. Hughes declared that, "everybody in India, apparently, eats curry." She added that, while curries are difficult to make, "American cooks with pioneering spirits can master curry dishes." 

Hughes included some recipes with her article, including this oyster curry. Yet, as some have noted, her recipe had been Westernized, with substitutions of ingredients that would not have been used by Sri Lankan cooks. For instance, Hughes included "green pepper" in her recipe (most likely a reference to the bell pepper). However, the "green pepper" used by Sri Lankan cooks would have been more likely one of the more piquant varieties, such as a serrano pepper or a Thai (bird's eye) chile. She also called for the use of butter (in place of coconut oil), bay leaves (in place of curry leaves or pandan leaves) and "curry powder" (as opposed to identifying the various spices that would be included in making the masala).  

I made the Charlotte Hughes' Westernized version of Darmadasa's recipe. However, I added a few of my own changes to that recipe. The first change is a nod to the recipe's Sri Lankan roots. I substituted "curry powder" with roasted curry powder, which is, as far as I can tell, an ingredient that is unique to Sri Lankan curries. The second change goes to the method by which the oysters are "cooked" in the curry." The original recipe calls for the oysters to be placed in the curry and cooked for 3 to 4 minutes. That will cause the oysters to shrink and, depending upon the size of the oyster, may result in tough, chewy, little nuggets. I decided that I would add the oysters at the very end of the cooking process. By adding the oysters at this time, I rely upon the residual heat in the curry liquid. The oysters will not be completely raw, but they will also not be completely cooked. Such a result is fine given that oyster can be eaten raw.   


Recipe adapted from New York Times Cooking

Serves 2-3


  • 2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
  • 4 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 serrano chile or Thai chile, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon roasted curry powder
  • 1 large pinch turmeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Salt
  • 12 oysters, shucked, liquor reserved
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon


1.  Saute the shallots, garlic and chiles. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots, garlic and chiles, and saute until softened and starting to brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon stick, cloves and bay leaf. Cook for 1 minute. 

2. Saute the oysters. Reduce the heat to low and add the coconut milk and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Simmer for 3 minutes. Add the oyster and their liquor; simmer until the oysters are just firm, 3 to 4 minutes. Take the pan off heat and add the lemon juice and salt to taste. Serve over rice or on hoppers.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Native American Inspired Rib Roast

In my continuing quest to learn more about the cultures behind the cuisines, I have spent a lot of time reading about different indigenous cultures across North America (that is, the Canada, the United States and Mexico). One aspect of this educational endeavor has been to learn about the native ingredients that these indigenous cultures had to cook with, long before the arrival of conquistadors, colonists and more. I have been helped greatly by reading the books of, as well as following the work of, Native American chefs, like Sean Sherman.

Their work has opened my eyes and my understanding that there is more to the history of ingredients than what I have already learned or what I know. Just a few years ago, if someone would have asked me what cuisines would have incorporated juniper berries, my first thoughts would have taken me to Northern Europe or Eastern Europe. If someone asked me which cuisine utilizes sumac, I would have reflexively answered Turkish or Persian cuisines. I would never have thought to respond with Sioux, Ojibwe or any other Native American nation. Yet, both of these ingredients - juniper and sumac - have their place in Native American cuisine. 

All of this knowledge inspired me to create a rub based upon ingredients available to Native Americans before the colonial period. I knew going into this effort that I would be using juniper berries. That was the first ingredient. I needed to build around those berries. Fortunately, I found someone else who has been inspired by Chef Sherman: home chef Brad Prose, who has his own website, Chile and Smoke. I highly recommend the website. 

Prose has a recipe for a juniper spiced rub, which helped me to build this recipe. I used the proportions of coriander seed, Kosher salt and whole black pepper that can be found in his recipe, although I converted everything roughly from grams to teaspoons or tablespoons. As an aside, I should note that whole black peppercorns are native to South Asia and Southeastern Asia. I left peppercorns in because, from what I understand, there are native American equivalents that could have been used to achieve the same flavors and effects. 

I was less certain about other ingredients in Prose's recipe.  First, I left out the sugar, as Chef Sherman has left out sugar cane from his dishes. I also left out the chile flakes and garlic powder. My focus for this rub was more towards the Plains (for a reason I discuss further below), rather than the Southwest. This mean that chiles were less likely to be used (and it provides a future opportunity for a Native American inspired rub focused on the Southwest, as I have a lot of ancho peppers, chipotle peppers, and hatch peppers). As for the garlic, it is my understanding (right or wrong), that garlic was brought to the Americas by European settlers. While I am not sure about that understanding, I decided that I could leave it out.

Sumac (Source: Gardener Cook)

Setting aside the sugar, chiles and garlic left some holes that needed to be filled. At this point, I turned to what I learned. Sumac is native to all 48 contiguous United States and it has been used by Native American cooks to impart citrus notes to dishes. Adding sumac to this spice blend compounds the citrus notes provided by juniper berries. Rather than balance that citrus with the sweetness of sugar, I decided to go with dried thyme, which imparts earthier notes with hints of spice and sweetness. 

This rub had a specific purpose. I wanted to prepare a rub that could be used with a bison roast. Bison had an importance place in the cultures of the Plains tribes, such as the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho. These cultures used the bison not only for food, but they used all of the bison - for their shelter, clothing, jewelry and much more. And, at one point, there were tens of millions of bison that roamed the Plains of North America. However, the bison were nearly wiped out as part of a systematic and largely successful effort to remove Native Americans from their lands by depriving them of this important food resource. By the 1880s, the large herds of bison had largely vanished, and the native cultures that relied upon the bison were severely impacted. That is history. Today, there are more than 60 tribes working to restore the herds, both on their tribal lands and in federal parks. The tribes and the federal government are even working together in the State of Montana through the Interagency Bison Management Plan. The Plan has the goals of promoting a free range bison population, while minimizing the risk of diseases and managing those bison that leave Yellowstone and enter the State of Montana.

Source: National Park Service

While I wanted a rub for a bison roast, I did not have one for this recipe. Instead, I had a beef rib roast. I have found that, to a large degree, bison and beef recipes are interchangeable as long as one important principle is kept in mind: bison has far less fat than beef (especially the beef produced in the factory farm setting). Thus, if I was using a bison roast, I would probably baste it more often and perhaps pull it out of the oven at a slightly lower temperature (such as 125 degrees Fahrenheit). 

While I had been holding on to the beef rib roast for a special occasion, honoring the cuisines of Native Tribes and making the effort to learn more about their cultures is just as good of an occasion.


Recipe adapted from Chile and Smoke

Serves several

Ingredients (for the Spice Rub):

  • 2 1/4 tablespoons of Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons of whole black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons whole coriander seed
  • 2 teaspoons juniper berries
  • 2 teaspoons ground sumac
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme

Ingredients (for the Prime Rib):

  • 1 standing rib roast, beef or bison
  • Vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 cup water, beef stock or beef broth


1. Prepare the spice rub. Toast the whole spices (black pepper, coriander seed and juniper berries) in small skillet over medium to medium-low heat, until fragrant, move the spices around to avoid them from becoming burnt. Allow the spices to cool down and then combine with the ground and dried spices.

2. Cook the Roast. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the rib roast in a roasting pan with about 1 cup of water, beef stock, or beef broth. Cook the rib roast, covered, for about three hours; however, check the temperature after two and one-half hours. 

3. Finish the cook. When the internal temperature of the roast reaches about 125 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about medium rare. Pull out the roast, leave it covered and let it rest for about 15 to 20 minutes. The roast should cook another 5 to 10 degrees.