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Month: May 2010

The drum are here!

Ladies and Gentleman, the DRUM ARE HERE. Multiple boats have gone out this week catching drum, not just the little ones we’ve had the big ones! The Cape Queen went out yesterday the 22nd and pulled in a few drum, one weighting in at 72lbs. going in on season record board. Also out on the water yesterday was the Slammer and the Cape May Lady pulling in everything from Sea Bass to drum. Wait, did I say Sea Bass? That’s right opening season started yesterday, let’s get down here and get down to business, and Let the fishing begin! The reports are in that the NEW JERSEY DRUM BITE IS ON!

SOMA NewArtGallery's opening of "Reinventing the Romans"

The work of local artist Harriett Sosson and her son Max Samuelson were the focus of SOMA NewArtGallery’s opening  reception Saturday, May 22.  “Reinventing the Romans” features new paintings and collages by Sosson, who also owns and operates Poor Richards Inn on Jackson Street. Her work is about transforming Classical Roman statues to archetypal to 21st century contemporary art. The installation, “Woody Bicycles” features Samuelson’s hand-crafted wood bikes. The exhibition contiues to June 20. SOMA NewArt Gallery is located in Carpenters Square Mall, 31 Perry Street.

Roasting Meat – A Juicy Subject

Roasting meat is probably the most ancient form of cooking.

This month it is time to sink my teeth into a juicy subject. Roasting meat.

Roasting meat is probably the most ancient form of cooking. Forest fires and slow deer combined to give our ancestors their first taste of roasted meat. In the 20th century roasting came to mean cooking in dry heat in an enclosed oven. Prior to that, roasting was done over an open fire on a spit. Open fire roasting would be akin to barbecuing with a less smoky taste. Cooking meat over an open fire yields meat with a nice caramelized exterior and juicy interior. The Chaine de Rotisseurs, one of the world’s oldest gastronomic societies has its origins in the Guilds of medieval France. In the 13th century, King Louis IX granted a royal charter to the goose roasters and over the years their responsibilities grew to include poultry and venison. The guilds, think of the teamsters union with knives, codified roasting techniques and controlled how, who and when meats could be roasted. In those days large spits were turned by hand or chain cranks.

Roasting today is a less arduous process, but still time consuming.

The smell of roasting meat is one of the great smells. When it emanates from the kitchen, it stirs the appetite. The smell and color of roasted meat is caused by the Maillard reaction. This chemical change of amino acids and carbohydrates occurs when high heat and low moisture conditions occur.

For prime rib or English style round roasts, try the high-heat method. It yields better caramelization and a tastier exterior.

In contemporary oven roasting, there are two general schools of thought. High heat roasting or low heat roasting. Both methods have their pluses and minuses. Roasting generally involves the more tender leg or center cuts of meats. Less tender cuts such as brisket or shoulder cuts, if dry roasted, should be done low and slow.

For prime rib or English style round roasts, I prefer the high-heat method. It yields better caramelization and a tastier exterior. The downside is shrinkage. The high heat melts the fat quickly resulting in great flavor, but causing the meat to contract quickly as well.

Low-heat roasting preserves the fat and has less shrinkage, but does not have the deep carmelization which means less robust flavor. The solution for me is a combination. Roasting at 500 degrees for the first 20 minutes, then dropping the heat to 250 degrees or lower until the desired internal temperature is reached. I prefer 125 degrees for rare beef counting on 10%-15% carry-over cooking. The high-heat method also yields richly colored pan drippings for gravies and sauces. Friend and fellow Cape May chef Chris Shriver is a fervent proponent of low and slow roasting. After tasting his eight-hour, slow-roasted pulled pork, one can easily be converted to his point of view. The key advantages of low-slow are tenderness and juiciness.

Besides oven temperature, another debate is whether to roast on a rack or not. The concept of the rack is to provide air flow under the meat and allow the juices to drip. This provides all around browning and keeps the bottom of the meat from steaming in its own juices.

Personally, I like to use a base of mirepoix – rough chopped celery carrots and onions. This adds flavor to the meat and more importantly to the drippings which enhances the sauce.

Certain meats are more suitable to high-heat roasting than others. Prime rib and roast beef benefit best from this technique. Less tender cuts are often best braised, but can yield fantastic flavor when roasted low and slow.

This month try my recipes for English Roast Beef with au jus, Roast Leg of Lamb with Boulangere Potatoes, and Herb-Roasted Chicken with Sage Gravy.

English-Style Roast Beef

  • 8-10 pounds beef round roast
  • Kosher salt, cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 onions, sliced into rings

Preheat oven to 500 degrees

Season meat with Kosher salt, cracked black pepper, 2 teaspoons granulated garlic, 2 teaspoons chopped thyme, 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce.

Mix spices, oil and Worcestershire sauce. Rub evenly over meat. Slice 2 onions into rings and arrange over meat. Place meat on rack in roasting pan. Place pan on middle rack in oven cook for 35 minutes at 500 degrees. Reduce heat to 250 degrees and cook for 7 minutes per pound. A 10-pound roast would be 1 hour 10 minutes. More importantly, do not open oven. When done, remove roast to platter. Cover. Let rest 10 minutes.

For Au Jus

  • 2 cups red wine
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • Salt
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary sprigs

Deglaze roasting pan with 2 cups red wine and 4 cups beef stock. Scrape pan. Well season with salt, thyme and rosemary sprigs. Simmer 10 minutes. Strain. Serve with rare roast beef

Roast Leg of Lamb with Boulangere Potatoes

  • 1 8-pound lamb roast
  • Salt, pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Rosemary
  • 4 ribs celery
  • 2 quartered onions
  • 4 peeled carrots, split lengthwise
  • 2 cups merlot wine
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 potatoes per person

Seasoned roast with salt, pepper, 4 tablespoons olive oil and generously sprinkled with chopped fresh rosemary.

In roasting pan, place 4 ribs celery, 2 quartered onions and 4 peeled carrots, split lengthwise. Cook at 375 degrees for approximately 1½ hours until meat thermometer reads 135 degrees. After the first 30 minutes, add 2 peeled and halved potatoes per person. Season potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary. Turn potatoes after 20 minutes.

Let meat rest. Deglaze pan with 2 cups merlot wine, 4 sprigs rosemary, 2 cups chicken stock and 2 cups beef stock. Simmer 10 minutes. Thicken with 2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water. Bring jus to boil. Add slurry. Whisk. Bring back to boil. Serve with lamb and potatoes.

Herb Roasted Chicken with Sage Gravy

Rub an herb mixture underneath the chicken skin for a flavorful bird.

  • 1 3-pound roasting chicken
  • 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 3 teaspoons chopped rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 3 chopped onions
  • 3 celery ribs
  • 3 peeled chopped carrots
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 2 lemons
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Heat oven to 450 degrees

Place chicken in roasting pan over 3 chopped onions 3 celery ribs and 3 peeled chopped carrots. Loosen skin on chicken. Rub with herb mix under skin and all around. Stuff with 3 bay leaves, 6 cloves garlic, 1 bunch thyme and 2 lemons. Roast at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat. Cook 45 more minutes until 165 degrees internal temp is reached. Cover. Let rest 10 minutes.

To make gravy: Deglaze roasting pan with 5 cups chicken stock. Bring to boil. Knead 3 tablespoons flour with 3 tablespoons butter. Whisk into simmering liquid. Cook 5 minutes. Strain. Serve with chicken.

persnicketychefJon Davies is a graduate of Johnson and Wales University of Culinary Arts. His work as a chef has taken him to Aspen, Colorado; Cape May, NJ; and the odd private jet for culinary gigs for the rich and famous.

Of Lilacs and Lily of the Valley


As spring matures and May arrives, gentle breezes are laden with the fragrance of Lilacs and Lily of the Valley. I love these and can drift back to childhood days in either of my grandmothers’ gardens when I could smell their wonderful fragrances. Back then, I think that most everyone had hedges of lilacs, often started from ‘slips’ from friends or neighbor’s yards in years gone by. As for Lily of the Valley, they were allowed to race and run under trees and shrubs in many gardens. I still just give them free reign among the shade loving shrubs in boarders all over my gardens. They push right up through the leaves and never need any care whatsoever.

Garden Tip: It doesn’t hurt to give them a handful of granular 10-10-10 each spring.

What other ground cover is so tough, smells so good and multiplies so quickly? Lily of the Valley will grow anywhere and spreads like spilled milk in sun or shade. They are very hardy perennials and return for years and years to bloom early in May. I love to tuck them into spring prom and wedding bouquets when they are in bloom. They are one of the old fashioned tussie mussie blooms for May.

The Victorians loved fragrant plants. Many Lilacs and lilies have always graced the old gardens in Cape May County . This year the Lilacs began blooming quite early. Anyone can grow a Lilac as it is usually easy to grow and will grow in sun or part shade. Many of the Lilacs in my garden are in semi shade and do well until the shade gets too dense as large trees grow. I have lost a few that just weakened after many years in areas that became shadier and shadier. They are usually full of blooms, but the shrubs in full sun are sturdier and often have many more large heavy booms.

When adding Lilacs to the landscape, there are many considerations. You have an option with size, color, bloom time, and often fragrance. Whenever I look at the bright green of the unfurling leaves of the Lilac and the tight little grape like clusters of tiny buds, I anticipate the joy of the blooms and scent. We pick and pick them, filling vases all over the house. I always wish they bloomed for a longer time and look for the last bushes to bloom as well as the first. Thus, the reasoning for several kinds of Lilacs in the landscape.

The smallest of Lilacs are the Syringa meyeri and many other dwarf Lilacs. They bloom early in May for about 2 weeks. These plants are usually only 3-4 feet tall, but covered with flowers. Although it is fragrant, the scent is a little different from the common Lilac. This plant is also quite hardy and disease resistant. The much larger common Lilac or Syringa vulgaris is an upright shrub, often growing 8-15 feet high, with extremely fragrant flowers. These old fashion favorites are at home in a border or as a centerpiece in a lawn or garden. There are about 800 different clones or cultivars, with colors ranging from white and pink to many shades of blue, violet, lilac, purple and magenta. At least one Lilac is a must in every garden.

Lily of the Valley

Still another type of Lilac is the Japanese Tree Lilac or Syringa reticulata. This tall, 20-30 feet high plant has beautiful white flowers in early to mid-June. It has a fragrance, but it is more like privet then that of the Lilac. It is a trouble-free lilac and excellent specimen tree, according to Michael Dirr in his Manual Of Woody Landscape Plants. Another Lilac is the Syringa persica or Persian Lilac. This graceful shrub is upright with pale, somewhat delicate pale lilac flowers. These mid-May bloomers are also fragrant and among the oldest of cultivated shrubs. Still another is the Syringa villosa, a later Lilac. Tall with rosy lilac to white flowers, this one looks more like a Butterfly Bush bloom than Lilac and smells again like a privet. Late May to June blooms extend the season of color for lilac collectors. James MacFarlane is one of the most common and easiest to find of these late Lilacs.

I used to be confused about all the kinds of Lilacs, but soon found that the Michael Dirr’s Manual Of Woody Landscape Plants had the most information and explanations about the different kinds of Lilacs. Dirr tells much of what there is to know about these old-time favorites. Most colleges and horticulture schools require this book for their students and rightfully so. Dirr not only tells all about the plants, but he tells how and where to grow them! I love to read his descriptions, as well as cultural instructions. He sums up Lilac culture by saying that the best soil is one that is close to neural and supplemented with peat or leaf mold. I have also heard many old timers say that wood ashes dumped on the Lilac all winter make them bloom in spring. A good fertilizer that is lower in nitrogen also promotes good blooms. It is the middle number of phosphates that helps promote blooms. Shrubs with lush leaves and few blooms usually have too much nitrogen from lawn fertilizer. A cup or so of lime sweetens the soil in my sandy, oak environment, which is also helpful for healthy Lilacs.

Remember that trimming or picking the blooming Lilacs encourages better-shaped plants with an abundance of bloom the next season. Although an excuse is not needed to pick these fragrant beautiful blooms, this is a good reason to pick and enjoy them in your house. Remember, with all blooming shrubs, prune as the old blooms fade.

The next event at Triple Oaks, 2359 Delsea Drive,  Franklinville New Jersey is the 35th Annual Herb Weekend. Free lecture and demonstrations all day May 22 and 23. Look at web site for detailed schedule of times and events.

lorraine-kieferLorraine Kiefer has gardened all of her life. She is a garden writer, floral designer and professional horticulturist. Lorraine teaches many classes at Triple Oaks nursery and Herb Garden in Franklinville, NJ. Email for garden help or leave your questions below!