Old New England Recipes

Old New England Recipes
Old New England Recipes

Apron Free Cooking ~ New England Baked Beans

by Noel Lizotte


I’m sharing another family recipe this week. My dad’s family is from New England. They are true New Englanders, having lived in four of the original thirteen states. I remember trips to Vermont to visit my grandparents. Many people go to Vermont to see the pretty fall leaves. My family went because that’s where we are from.

My Aunt Dot still lives in Vermont. She shared a classic New England recipe with her daughter, who in turn shared it with me. Baked beans are as traditional fare in New England as the fall colors. I think that has a bit to do with the native Americans using a native food source and a bit to do with the frugal New England. This dish is quite inexpensive under most circumstances and it is quite hearty and filling under all circumstances.

Baked beans were a staple in the New England logging camps and sugar camps. There’s a need for hot, filling food when folks are working long hours in the cold.

New England Baked Beans

1 lb beans

2 or 3 oz of salt pork or bacon

1 onion

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp dry ginger

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/3 c molasses

1/3 c real maple syrup (if you don’t have this use brown sugar)

Wash, sort and soak beans overnight in water. Parboil beans with salt pork or bacon. Coarsely chop the onion. Combine the spices and syrup/sugar with molasses. Dump all together into the bean pot. Cover with water. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour then reduce heat to 225 for (depends on the beans) and bake for an additional 4-5 hours for Navy beans or 6-8 hours for larger beans like Soldier. Check on the water from time to time so they don’t dry out on top

Approximate Nutrition Information: Servings Per Recipe: 10, Amount Per Serving: Calories: 392, Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 13mg, Sodium: 500mg, Total Carbs: 55g, Protein: 10g.

Make it a Meal: Serve these baked beans with your favorite sandwich and a small salad for a hearty supper. If you’re looking for a smaller meal, a serving of beans a slice of bread will hold you over.

Variations: Add diced celery, green peppers or carrots for extra flavor and color. Mix the type up beans you use, add some kidney beans and black beans to the navy beans.

I’m sure you’re familiar with baked bean dishes that incorporate tomatoes or tomato sauce. This dish does not, and honestly, you won’t miss it. The flavor of the beans is sweet with a bit of spice. You are welcome to top your serving of baked beans with ketchup, if you are looking for some fast tomato flavor.

You’ll notice the recipe calls for real maple syrup. For Vermonters there is only one kind of real maple syrup and it comes from their own maple trees. Grade A, of course. If you ask a Vermonter, anything less than Grade A isn’t worth consuming. I’m sure there are some Ohio Maple Syrup producers who feel the same way about their product!

I’ve discovered that real maple syrup, whether it comes from Vermont or Ohio, adds a flavor to the beans that isn’t possible with store bought commercial syrups. Therefore, I highly recommend splurging on the real maple syrup for this recipe!

Reader Feedback: Stuffed pancakes with peanut butter and banana are worth trying. If you don’t have bananas, some readers substituted their favorite jam or chocolate chips with the peanut butter. Another reader replaced the peanut butter with Nutella as suggested and raved about that combination!

Noel Lizotte is cooking her way through winter with easy recipes like this. More recipes are available in her cookbook, for sale at www.ApronFreeCooking.com


Serves 4
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1 pound large shrimp (about 20), peeled, deveined, and roughly chopped, shells reserved
1 bay leaf
4 strips orange zest
2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks, white and light green parts, rinsed well and roughly chopped
2 shallots, chopped
Salt and black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of cayenne pepper
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons dry sherry
¼ cup flour
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons tomato paste
In a large saucepan, combine shrimp shells, bay leaf, orange zest, stock, and 2 cups water. Cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and reserve liquid.

In the large saucepan, heat oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add leeks and shallots, cook until softened, 7 to 10 minutes, and season with salt and black pepper. Add garlic and cayenne and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Add sherry and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a food processor (in batches if necessary) and process until pureed but mixture still has some texture.


Serves 6
TIP I recommend Dave’s Coffee’s Coffee Syrup. It has a pure flavor that isn’t too sweet.
When I moved to the South Coast, I fell in love with coffee milk at first sip. Here, the drink is transformed into a special-occasion dessert.
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup coffee syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces white chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Fresh whipped cream, for garnish, optional
Finely grated coffee beans, for garnish, optional

Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a medium bowl, combine milk, heavy cream, coffee syrup, and vanilla. Whisk into dry mixture until combined. Place saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, whisking continuously, until mixture has thickened, about 15 minutes. If mixture starts to boil, lower heat to medium while it cooks. When thickened, add white chocolate and whisk until completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted.

New England Tea Cookies

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup shortening
3 egg yolks
2 tsps. Karo syrup
1 cup black coffee
1 tsp. baking soda dissolved in a 1 tsp. hot water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
3 ½ cups flour
1 cup finely chopped nuts
1 cup raisins
Fold in 3 stiffly beaten egg whites.
Bake on cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 20 minutes
Or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove and top with icing.
1 ½ tablespoon butter
2 tsps. vanilla
1 ½ cups powder sugar

Add milk until smooth.

‘Calamari Rhode Island’ has an appetizing ring

 “Who doesn’t like calamari?”

It wasn’t so much a question as it was an exclamation made by Rep. Joseph McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick) during a recent phone interview, as he seeks to make calamari Rhode Island’s official appetizer.

He thinks the crispy fried squid that’s served as a pre-dinner treat has the potential to serve up more tourism in the Ocean State, and Rhode Island should be highlighting its attributes when tied with Nevada for the nation’s worst unemployment rate.

“We, as a state, have to start promoting our assets,” McNamara said, noting that the Rhode Island Hospitality and Tourism Association is supporting the bill, which he introduced last week.

“If we do that and market them correctly, to use a nautical analogy, all ships rise with the time. It helps everyone. We can be negative and down and keep repeating the things in our economy that aren’t working, but we have to continue to promote our successes, and promote them beyond our borders.”

About two months ago, McNamara visited an upscale seafood restaurant in Portsmouth, N.H., and noticed that the first thing on the menu was Rhode Island-style calamari. Distinguishing characteristics include hot peppers, which are sometimes pickled or sautéed. Marinara sauce is often served on the side.

“I’ve noticed it on the Cape, and in Connecticut, too,” he said.

McNamara also discovered that chefs across the nation are serving Rhode Island-style calamari, including acclaimed chef Guy Fieri of the Food Network. After doing more research, he learned that Rhode Island’s squid fleet produced more than 7 million pounds last year, which is 54 percent of the squid landed in the Northeast. That fact, he said, combined with Rhode Island’s already national reputation for fine seafood and Italian cuisine, should attract people from throughout the nation to the state.

“There’s a great interest in locally-sourced food,” McNamara said. “People are fascinated by it, and they travel for it. I have traveled to different places and restaurants to try various dishes. I go to named restaurants and try products I’ve seen and read about. I guarantee people from out-of-state would agree the state’s calamari is outstanding.”

He said they should visit to experience the plethora of Rhode Island restaurants that serve it, as not every establishment makes it exactly the same. Some, including local places like L’attitudes, O’Rourke’s and Governor Francis Inn, have subtle varieties.

Melanie Flamand, co-owner of Carousel Grille at 859 Oakland Beach Avenue, favors the legislation. While she admits there are more pressing things on the agenda, she agrees that if approved, it would be good for tourism.

“There are people out there that don’t realize what a wide variety of calamari is being made,” she said. “We have two ways – classic with pepper rings and oil, and calamari balsamico, which is served with olives, red peppers and a balsamic glaze.”

Flamand said no matter the order, their seafood is delivered fresh daily. Calamari is cut thin, deep fried, and then sautéed in a pan with peppers.

“Some people serve it whole, but we like it where it’s just the rings,” she said.

That’s good news for Cranston resident Stacy Sotirakos, who likes her calamari crispy with hot peppers. She’s not the biggest fan of seafood, yet loves calamari. But don’t serve her any with tentacles.

“Those look scary,” she said.

Sotirakos, whose father co-owns Wein-O-Rama, a diner located at 1009 Oaklawn Avenue in Cranston that specializes in hot wieners, another signature Rhode Island food, enjoys calamari from a restaurant in her hometown.

“Spain has the best calamari,” said Sotirakos. “It just has a kick, and it’s delicious.”

Tommy Patrick, owner of Dockside Seafood Marketplace at 2275 Warwick Avenue, said he sells raw calamari all sorts of ways, from the tubes only or tubes and tentacles, to cut rings that you can bread or sauté at home or prepared calamari that’s ready to cook.

Every Friday, he and his staff sell cooked calamari with hot peppers and marinara sauce for take-out, in addition to fish and chips. Last Friday, they ran out of calamari, and Patrick wonders if the recent media attention on the bill is the reason for the influx.

“We usually go through about 100 or so orders on Friday nights, and we actually ran out,” he said. “I was surprised. We usually have a few extra.”

And while there’s a debate that stuffed quahogs should be named Rhode Island’s official appetizer, Sotirakos and Flamand don’t think any other food item rivals calamari for the slot.

Clearly, McNamara feels the same, even though some of his colleagues say the stuffie should reign supreme as the official appetizer. His response is that the quahog is already the state shell.

No hard feelings to the quahog, he said, as he digs his own and makes stuffies with chorizo. He won’t tell you his special spot in the Bay, however.

“My quahogging spot is secret, and I’d have to blindfold you to take you there,” McNamara said.


A gourmet food tour of Providence

By Diane Bair and Pamela Wright

 “It’s time to master the crepe,” said Bob Burke, owner of Pot au Feu restaurant. “See the side of this pan? It looks like a skateboard ramp because it’s meant to launch things. You’re going to shoot the crepe across the bottom of the pan, up the other side, and flip it. Got that?
“You don’t get to eat the crepes if you don’t do the flip,” he said, urging us to give it a try.
We spent about 45 minutes in this cozy eatery, the oldest French bistro in the United States, not only learning to flip crepes, but savoring them, stuffed with wine-poached pears and drizzled in a delicate sauce made with pear-infused vodka, accompanied with glasses of Beaujolais nouveau.
We were on the Providence Riverwalk culinary tour, offered by Newport Gourmet Tours. The company, which also offers culinary tours in Newport, introduced the two-hour-plus tour last September as a fun way to experience one of the country’s culinary hot spots. (CNBC recently named Providence one of the top foodie cities in the country.)
 “Providence is a great food destination city,” said Mike Martini, former chef and co-owner of the tour company. “I love to find ways to show the incredible food scene in this city.”
The jam-packed, behind-the-scenes walking tour not only took us to some of Providence’s top kitchens to meet chefs and sample signature dishes and drinks, but also included a few cooking and history lessons along the way.
We started at XO Cafe, located in the historic 1799 John Updike House on North Main Street, where executive chef Marty Lyons was serving contemporary, locavore-focused dishes with creative flourish. Chef magazine recently called it the hippest restaurant in the city.
“I had fun with this,” Lyons said, as we sat down in the intimate, brick-walled eatery. He presented us with our first taste on the tour: gnocchi made with parsnips instead of the traditional potatoes. “Parsnips aren’t quite as starchy as potatoes,” he explained, “and they add some fun texture.”
The gnocchi had been browned in butter, tossed with a duck confit, served with a vanilla onion puree and smoked cranberry, and topped with a slice of raw apple.
“I know there are lots of crazy flavors going on,” Lyons said, “but it all works as a whole.”
It was a tasty dish, at once sweet and tart, soft and crunchy, and a good start to the tour.
Martini guided us to Hemenway’s, our next stop, pointing out several landmarks and historical sites along the way. The restaurant, founded by Edward Grace as an homage to his grandfather Charles Hemenway, has been a mainstay on the Providence food scene for more than 20 years. “It’s now owned by the Newport Restaurant Group,” Martini said, “and they’ve brought the quality back to Grace’s time.”
We already knew that the large restaurant, with floor-to-ceiling windows and contemporary decor, was a hot spot in downtown, with high marks for its ultra-fresh seafood. We walked inside, passed the fish counter where people were shucking oysters and peeling shrimp, and went directly into a surprisingly tiny kitchen.
“It’s small, but we make the most of it,” chef Steven Long said, with a sweep of his arms. “Magic happens here.” He joked about handing out aprons so we could help with the dishes, before explaining what they would be serving us: tiny, sweet Nantucket Bay scallops, fresh off the boat.
“A lot of us feel that they’re the best seafood you can get, bar none, better than anything else,” Long said. “They’re like the M&Ms of the seafood world.”
We headed back out to the dining room where we were served the delicate seafood candies with local, roasted spaghetti squash, slivers of sautéed Brussels sprouts and sage butter, accompanied with cold glasses of Sancerre wine.
We left happy as clams and followed part of the capital city’s Independence Trail on to the next restaurant. The 2.5-mile path, marked by a green line painted on the sidewalk, goes by historic sites, highlighting Providence’s role in the American Revolution. Emblems mark significant locations along the trail, and give a phone number to call; dial up the number from any cellphone and punch in the location number to learn more about the site. “The guy who paints the line runs historical tours in town,” Martini said. “The trail also runs right in front of his restaurant.” He pointed to Pot au Feu.
“This was Julia Child’s favorite restaurant in Providence,” Martini said. “She was in the restaurant many times, and even had Bob [Burke] for dinner at her home in Cambridge.”
We headed down to the snug basement, with brick floors and stone walls, and wooden tables set with flowers and candlelight, where we started our visit with a glass of Beaujolais nouveau, taken from a wooden barrel.
“This is a wine you want to date not marry,” Burke said. “It’s just a little fling. You’re going to have some fun with it, but by January, you’re on to champagne.” We raised our glasses and saluted before moving on to our crepe-flipping lessons.
Our next stop, 10 Prime Steak and Sushi, was a short distance away, but an entirely different atmosphere. The sleek, contemporary space with bright colors, curvy angles, and a bubble machine above the door, is lively and fun. Premium steaks were being cooked over hot lava rocks, while chef David Jackson prepared for us his version of surf and turf: cooked sushi with tempura crab and tuna, served with rare steak strips.
Our last stop was The Dorrance, a grand, opulent space, located in a former Federal Reserve Bank. Much of the original 1902 building remains, including a wall safe, ornate woodwork, marble floors and walls, and elegant stained glass windows. The restaurant, headed by chef Ben Sukle, is racking up awards. Bon Appetit magazine named it one of the country’s best 50 new restaurants in 2012. Sukle has also received a best new chef nomination from Food & Wine magazine.
We entered the luxurious space and sat at the long wooden bar. A trio of mixologists prepared craft cocktails, a contemporary version of a whiskey sour. The sweet-sour drink was made with Sons of Liberty pumpkin whiskey and spicy cinnamon, and contained special ice designed to keep the drink perfectly chilled with proper dilution. (We didn’t have ours long enough to verify.) Next came artistically-presented plates, with slices of 60-day, dry-aged sirloin and chickweed harissa greens on a garlic crostini, topped with crunchy radish. This was followed by a dollop of house-made, sweet French vanilla ice cream.
We had originally planned on staying in Providence for dinner. That wasn’t going to happen. We were perfectly and pleasantly full — and knew exactly where we’d dine the next time we were in town.


Serves 6 as a first course
Really more of a rich soup than a stew, this dish comes together quickly and tastes best when freshly made. Take care to neither boil the liquid nor overcook the oysters. Warmed serving bowls are a very nice touch here.
1 pint shucked oysters, with their liquor
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium leek, white and light green part quartered lengthwise and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 cup finely chopped celery
Salt and pepper
4 cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons minced chives
In a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl, drain the oysters and save their liquor (you should have about cup). Pick over the oysters to remove any bits of shell; refrigerate until ready to use.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the leek, celery, and ½ teaspoon salt, and saute until vegetables are soft but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add the oyster liquor and half-and-half and bring to a bare simmer, stirring, about 12 minutes. Cover and set aside off heat to allow flavors to meld, about 15 minutes.
Return the saucepan to medium heat and heat until the liquid is warm and barely steamy, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet over high heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. When the foaming subsides, add the oysters in a single layer, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and cook just until the oysters begin to curl at the edges, about 2 minutes (do not overcook). Add the oysters and any liquid in the pan and ½ teaspoon salt to the half-and-half mixture and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Divide the stew among warm soup plates, sprinkle with chives, and serve at once.