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Four Courses in Winter Comfort
Photography by
An edible lesson for cold-weather cooking

Winter is a time for comfort. Whether you’re celebrating with friends and family for the holidays or looking for a respite from the cold and wet, there’s no better comfort than a home-cooked meal. Fill your kitchen with inviting smells and impress your guests with these unique takes on time-honored dishes—created by chef, recipe developer, and food photographer Derek Bissonnette and inspired by in-season winter ingredients that can be found at the Maine co-op nearest you. 


Bissonnette leaves the winter greens up to you in his Winter Greens Salad Bar, but he strongly recommends you decorate your leafy selection with his herbed goat cheese roulade, roasted root vegetables, and a garnish of roasted concord grapes and honey pecans. Each item, with its distinctive flavor, is highlighted and unified by the caramelization of roasting. 


You may not consider celery to be anything special, but Bissonnette would disagree. This root vegetable, which tends to be in season until early winter, can be cooked, simmered, and pureed into a creamy, flavorful bisque. Bissonnette’s recipe adds an unexpected twist with beer-battered celery hearts.


For the main dish, a roasted pork loin is in order. This dish will take some planning, as it needs to sit in an apple cider brine for 12 hours, but the result is well worth the preparation. If you don’t plan to cook the loin right away after removing it from the brine, says Bissonnette, just rinse, wrap, and refrigerate it until you’re ready.


Last but not least, Bissonnette’s Apple Tart Tatin is anything but your average apple pie. His recipe uses a store-bought puff pastry to save you some time, but feel free to make your own! While this caramel-sweet treat does need to cool for two hours before being eaten, you can use that time to make your salted caramel sauce and whipped cream. 


Don’t forget to top it all off with a scoop of local ice cream and to thank your farmers, delivery drivers, and clerks at your hometown co-op for playing a role in Your Local Dish!


Winter Greens Salad Bar

 

Serves 8


Pair your favorite winter greens with the below recipes.

 

Herbed Goat Cheese Roulade

The process of rolling the cucumbers and cheese in this recipe into a log gives the cheese wonderful aromatics, and the lactic acid in the goat cheese pickles the cucumbers. Don’t be afraid to make it the night before, as that’s actually preferred. If this step seems intimidating, just scoop the cheese with an ice cream scoop and sprinkle the herbs on top.


1 pound goat cheese, room temperature

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup heavy cream

1 European cucumber

2 tablespoons dill, finely chopped

4 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

4 tablespoons chives, finely chopped

 

In a mixing bowl or stand-up mixer, combine the goat cheese, salt, and heavy cream. Whip until the mixture is soft and well combined, then add in the herbs and mix until evenly distributed.


Trim 1 inch off each end of the cucumber. Using a sharp peeler or mandoline, shave long slices from the top of the cucumber to the bottom, until you get to the seeds. When you do, peel the other side.


Place a layer of plastic wrap directly on your work surface. Lay another piece on top and flatten evenly with your hand. This extra layer is necessary to allow a nice tight roulade.  Layer the cucumber slices on the plastic wrap, scalloping one over another until you’ve created a 12- by 12-inch square.


Using a small offset spatula, spread the softened cheese on the cucumbers, leaving 1 inch empty at the top of the slices.


Using the base of the plastic wrap, roll the cucumber into a log and wrap tight. Tighten the plastic wrap on both edges of the log and tie into a knot. Place in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours or longer, until it feels firm. Slice and enjoy.



 Apple Cider Vinaigrette

 1 small apple, cored and cut into small pieces 

¼ cup apple cider or apple juice

½ shallot, minced

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1 ½ cup vegetable oil

½ teaspoon salt

 

In a food processor, add the apple, cider, shallot, dijon mustard, vinegar, and honey.  Blend until smooth. On low speed, pour in the vegetable oil in a slow stream until all incorporated and emulsified. Add the salt and refrigerate until needed.

 

 

Roasted Vegetables and Concord Grapes

1 delicata squash, cut in half, seeds removed, and cut into ½-inch slices

2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces

2 parsnips, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces

4 beets, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces

2 cups concord grapes

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon pepper

 

 Preheat oven to 375°F.  


Place the vegetables on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. If you are using red beets, cook them on a separate tray to avoid having all your other vegetables turn red. Cook the vegetables for 20 minutes or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.



Place the concord grapes on a separate, small baking tray and drizzle with olive oil.

Roast the grapes in the oven for 10 minutes and remove. Remove from the oven and cool.

 

Honey Roasted Pecans

2 cups pecan halves

1 cup honey

¼ tsp salt

 

 Preheat oven to 375°F.  


In a small heavy-bottom pan, add the pecans, honey, and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.


Pour the mixture on a parchment-lined baking tray and bake for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool.


Celery Bisque with Beer-Battered Celery Hearts


Serves 6


¼ cup butter

1 small onion, chopped

½ leek, white part only, cut in ¾-inch pieces

2 bunches celery, chopped

1 bay leaf

1 medium potato, peeled and chopped

4 cups chicken stock

1 cinnamon stick

½ cup heavy cream

Freshly ground nutmeg

Salt and pepper

Crispy celery hearts, for garnish (recipe included)

 

In a medium heavy-bottom pan, melt the butter and add the onions, leek, and celery; cook for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add the bay leaf and potato and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until the potatoes and celery are soft.


Remove the cinnamon stick and in a food processor, puree the soup until it’s creamy and passes through a fine sieve. Return the soup to the pan and simmer, then add the cream and nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Portion into bowls and serve with crispy celery hearts.

 

 

Crispy Celery Hearts

4 cups vegetable oil, for frying

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided

½ cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 ½ cups beer, preferably ale

18 celery hearts (the very center yellow sweet leaves of celery)

Salt

 

Preheat vegetable oil on the stove (or in a fryer, if you have one) to 350°F.


In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, cornstarch, and baking powder, and sieve. Add the beer and mix with a whisk until smooth.


In a small bowl, combine ½ cup flour and celery hearts and mix gently to coat. Dip each piece in the beer mixture and fry in vegetable oil until golden brown. With a slotted spoon, remove from oil and place on a paper towel; season with salt to taste. Serve immediately.


Roasted Pork Loin

 

Serves 4–6

 

 

1 ½ pounds pork loin

3 cups apple cider

3 cups water

3 tablespoons salt

1 teaspoon peppercorns

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 garlic cloves, smashed

1 teaspoon rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped

1 teaspoon herbs de Provence

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 sprigs rosemary

 

Brine the pork 

 Using butcher twine, wrap around the loin, about every inch, and tighten it firmly. Cut off any excess twine with shears. (This step is optional, but it allows the meat to cook evenly by maintaining a consistent shape.)


To make the brine, combine the cider, water, salt, peppercorns, brown sugar, garlic cloves, chopped rosemary, and herbs de Provence in a deep bowl and whisk together. Place the loin in a container and add the brine. The container should be small enough that the loin is completely covered with the brine. If it is not, add a little more water.


Wrap the loin container tightly and refrigerate for 12 hours. Remove the loin from the brine, rinse off, and pat dry. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. If not cooking right away, store in refrigerator.

 

Cook the loin

Preheat oven to 375°F. 


Warm a large heavy-bottom sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the vegetable oil and place the loin in the center. Sauté for 5 minutes or until all sides are evenly browned.


Add the butter and rosemary, and reduce heat to a simmer. Baste the melted butter and rosemary over the loin for 3–5 minutes or until the butter starts to brown. Remove the loin from the pan and place on a baking sheet.


Pour the browned butter and rosemary over the loin, and place the baking sheet in the oven. Cook for 15–20 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 145°F using a meat thermometer. Rest on a cutting board for 3–5 minutes, slice, and enjoy.


Apple Tart Tatin


Serves 4–6


½ cup butter, room temperature

½ cup sugar

4 cinnamon sticks

6 Granny Smith apples

1 sheet puff pastry

Salted caramel sauce, for garnish (recipe included)

Whipped cream, for garnish (recipe included)

Your favorite local ice cream, for garnish

 

Preheat oven to 425°F.


In an 8-inch cast-iron pan, spread the butter evenly to coat the entire pan.  Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the butter. Place the cinnamon sticks on top of the butter, creating a cross.


Peel and core the apples, then cut each apple in half (from top to bottom). Cut these halves into 8 even slices; each apple should yield 16 slices.


Fill the pan with apple slices. (I often place the first layer in a nice pattern, as it will be your presentation side once you serve the tart.) The pan should be well rounded with apples and as full as possible.


Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place on the stove, using the lowest flame or setting. Cook for 45 minutes or until apples are nice and caramelized on the outside edges.


Once the apples are caramelized, remove from heat and allow to cool.


Cut the puff pastry into an 8-inch circle, place on top of the cooled apples, and dock with a small knife. These incisions will allow the heat to escape while baking. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.


Remove from the oven and cool for 2 hours. This will allow the natural pectin in the apples to bind together and help maintain the tart’s shape. 


To remove the tart from the pan, place back in the oven for 5 minutes, then take it out and gently flip the tart onto a cutting board. Cut into 4–6 slices and enjoy with salted caramel sauce, whipped cream, and your favorite local ice cream.

 

Salted Caramel Sauce

1 cup sugar

¼ cup water

½ cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon salt

 

In a small heavy-bottom pan, add the sugar and water and mix together. Place on medium high heat and cook to a medium amber caramel, occasionally brushing the sides of the pan with a clean brush and water. This will prevent sugar crystals from falling in and crystallizing your sauce.


Remove from heat and gently pour in the heavy cream. Be careful when pouring as the hot caramel might spatter a bit. Return to the stove on low heat and mix until nicely combined.


Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and salt. Enjoy right away, or refrigerate and rewarm for serving later. 

 

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl or mixer and whip to soft peaks.



Born in Hartford, Connecticut and raised in Maine, Derek showed a passion for food from an early age. Beginning with a small bakery in Maine, formal training at The Culinary Institute of America, then Pastry Chef at The White Barn Inn in 1999 under the tutelage of Jonathan Cartwright, Executive Sous Chef and then appointed Executive Chef... Derek has been a long-time part of the culinary world in Maine and beyond. He joined the Edible Maine team to pursue a career outside of the kitchen while still maintaining a connection to food.

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