Sunday, June 29, 2008

Another Sunday...

Greetings from the Inn!
The thunderstorms and rain did not stop the happy spirits staying at the inn this weekend for local events. Saint Joseph's College had some guests here for an orientation. After many months of planning, also, Todd and Lindsay L. were wed, surrounded by friends and family from Conn. and Washington, DC (and other places!).
What a great group! They sat inside and enjoyed my Black Raspberry-Chocolate Cookies in the afternoon. For breakfast (and I figured they all could use some homespun carbs after their post-wedding cruise around Long Lake on the Songo River Queen), I made a yummy Banana French Toast with Pecan-Brown Sugar Streusel--nothing like comfort food on rainy days.
My gardening friend, Fay, from Somerville, Mass. came up to inspect the gardens. She was pleased at their progress. I re-discovered the wonderful fragrance of the flowers around the grounds. Well, after a busy weekend, I am off to literally take a breather & "stop and smell the flowers!"
Your Innkeeper,

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Soaking up Flavor" Chef's Tip of the Week

The next time you cook PASTA or RICE my tip to you today is to consider adding Chicken or Vegetable (Veggie) Stock to the water in which you are cooking. The pasta or rice will soak up the flavor of the stock, rather than just the water (which most people agree does not have much flavor!).
Commercial bases may be found at the wholesale stores (Sam's, BJ's) or one may find vegetable or chicken bouillon cubes in the food market. Or, of course, you can make your OWN stock.
Hope this easy tip makes you next meal even better!

A beautiful day in the Lakes Region today. Hope wherever you are it's just as nice.

Your Innkeeper,

Naples, Maine

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Summer is under way!!

Despite the weather (off and on showers) this past weekend was great.
I had the opportunity to meet Blog Reader Lindsay and her friend, Jeff, from Boston. And yes, I made those Sweet Potato-Pecan Muffins for them on Sunday morning. Also, Josh and Abby sent me the kindest note (Thanks!!) thanking me for everything, including my Pineapple Muffins (hadn't baked those in a while).
Got some time away to shop at my friend Tracy's store "wild plum" here in Naples. Wow! This lady has the eye for unique home accents. I scored some period style accents for the inn--couldn't resist (you know if you go back someone will have snatched it up!).
The Blacksmith's Winery wines I have on the Bev List have had rave reviews. The Trillium (a blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Chardonnay) has been a favorite. The Blacksmith's Blueberry Sparkling, too, is wonderful. Kathleen and Rudy from Greenland, NH enjoyed a glass before heading out to Venezia Restaurant (the Lakes Region's place for authentic Northern Italian food--YUM!).
Have to run...have some Strawberry Muffins in the oven. Look for the Chef's Tip of the Week tomorrow!! Make this day a fun one!

Your Innkeeper,
Naples, Maine

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Frozen Fruit versus Frozen Water " Chef's Tip of the Week

Hi, All.
This past weekend was the Maine Blues Festival and it sounded wonderful as the music flowed up from the Naples Causeway up to the inn.
Also, kicked off the Classic Cocktail Hour at the inn. I decided to have a Special Drink of the Weekend--a "Frozen Watermelon-Strawberry Daiquiri." It went over well.
I used Bacardi rum, a splash of Midori (melon liqueur), a bit of thawed lime-ade concentrate, and cubed FROZEN fresh watermelon and strawberries.
I picked up the technique of cubing and freezing the fresh fruit from Bon Appetit magazine. In the past I have used ice cubes and refrigerated fruit (the ice cubes watered down the taste of the beverage). Here the chilled fruit packs all fruit flavor while freezing up the Frozen Drink! Great Tip! Thought I'd pass it on.
Frozen fruit (pre-cut and bagged in your freezer)would be great for breakfast or post workout smoothies (hear that, reader Lindsay? Your B&B in Florida would be great to have a fresh fruit smoothie on those warm Florida mornings!!).
Stock up on seasonal fruit (especially when it is on sale) for those Summer cookouts and treadmill sessions. Other perfect summer choices: kiwi, peaches, berries. So, before you turn the blender on, think of this tip!

Your Innkeeper, Keith
Naples, Maine

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Your Recipes & Inspiration!" Chef's Tip of the Week

One of the best things I enjoy about innkeeping is finding a good basic recipe that has the capability to "accept inspiration." Many of us are taught to follow recipes to the letter and teaspoonful. That is, perhaps, true--although I find so much joy in adapting basic recipes into expressions of my cooking creativity!
Example: We've all made pancakes, next blueberry or apple pancakes once we learned to flip basic ones correctly. Don't stop there, though! How about spices??!! Apple pies have cinnamon, nutmeg, and a pinch of clove--why not apple PANCAKES??!! Lemon and blueberry have a natural affinity for each other (nothing too serious I have heard), why not zest some lemon in your blueberry pancakes?!
Pasta dishes, breakfast pies, sauces, cookies--make them all YOU. Maybe it's your family heritage (okay, we Germans understand that bacon drippings can't go in Everything!), or your favorite fruit, or some regional new food you tried on vacation and enjoyed. Add it to your favorite dish.
So, find recipes, work with them, and you'll have a personalized meal on your next table! Happy Cooking and next time you are at the inn, I'll tell you about my Jambalaya Omelets!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

One, Two, PUNCH! Chef's Tip of the Week

Seems like this past week has flown by. It's Wednesday again and hope this Tip of the Week is useful in your party planning:
When having a festive party, it is not expected that you have a full bar of alcoholic beverages available. A good alternative is to serve a Punch. This will benefit you in many ways: 1). it will allow to moderate the amount of alcohol (to some extent) that your guests are consuming (I usually make it of "sipping" strength, lighten up on the alcohol), 2). it will enable you to have one item rather than a full bar, 3). you can prepare it in advance, alcohol and mixers together.
An attractive pitcher is as nice as a punch bowl and cups.
Serve a punch that has fruity juices (milk punches are not a good option). When possible, freeze to a slushy consistency in the freezer prior to guests' arrival (too much ice will water it down and take away flavor). Try a Hawaiian Seabreeze (Baybreeze) with Vodka, Pineapple, and Cranberry...or a Rum Madras with rum, orange juice and cranberry. Remember to garnish the pitchers or cup area with ample fruits, cut and whole. Enjoy and serve responsibly!!
Your innkeeper-chef (and bartender!), Keith

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Breads and Spreads

The weather was cloudy and sunny all day yesterday so I had a few minutes to sort through some recipes I've been working on & saving. This is my favorite part of innkeeping. The classic recipes evoke a feeling; the new takes on the classics evoke, perhaps, new feelings! To me, that is what food is about---remembering, experiencing.

I enjoy making seasonal "refrigerator preserves." These do not have the preservatives that the store bought jars have. They don't, however, last as long. The guests at the inn enjoy it on their Warm Muffins or Toast.
Speaking of breads, I've been looking through some bread books. The bread exudes a glorious smell throughout the inn as it bakes. Trying to stay on the Whole Wheat side of breads these days--most guests prefer that.

Grounds are looking great and reservations are continuing to come in. My Mom is also coming up this weekend!
That's all for today. Make YOUR day one of the BEST yet!
Your Innkeeper, Keith