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July 31, 2008

Rockland Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest

Following on the heels of other popular Maine Lobster Festival traditions, including the Sea Goddess Coronation and a 2 hour parade extravaganza through Main Street, is the Annual Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest. This year’s event, open only to amateur cooks, will be held at the North Entertainment Tent at the Rockland Public Landing on Friday, August 1st, beginning at 9 a.m. Judging will follow at 11:30.

Finalists have been notified, and the roster and their recipes includes: Ellie Souza with her Double Stuffed Sea Scallops, Christopher Oliver’s Baked Stuffed Lobster Tail on a Cedar Plank, Maine Shrimp Chimichanga by Jan Campbell, Seafood Strudel by Mary Brett Rabaioli, and Antonia Ionescu’s Lobster Capellini with Herb and Lobster Oil.

In deciding on finalists, recipe criteria were evaluated on originality, diversity, variety of ingredients, whether recipes could be recreated within contest setting, and of course, seafood had to be an ingredient! Audience members will have a chance to sample the dishes, and the 3 official judges for the contest are: Rockland Mayor Hal Perry; Jim Bazin, Creative Director of Maine Food and Lifestyle Magazine; and U.S.S. Whidbey Island Commanding Officer Michael Junge.

From the staff at Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.

2008 Maine Lobster Chef of the Year Margaret McLellan

Growing up in Boothbay Harbor, Margaret McLellan’s parents gave her two choices: she could either spend the summer helping her father on his commercial fishing boat or helping her mother at her bed & breakfast. She chose the latter. Helping to bake muffins and pastries early in the morning, she was bitten by the baking bug. While studying the language in Germany, she fell in love with Europe. After her studies ended, she decided to stay on and landed an apprenticeship as a pastry chef at an Austrian hotel. Her immersion into the culinary world was deepened by courses at the Cordon Bleu in London and Paris.

Raised in family of commercial fishermen and lobsterman, she says handling the tasty crustaceans is second-nature to her. "If you’re a Mainer who grew up on the coast, you naturally know how to cook seafood."

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Margaret (right), with First Lady Karen Baldacci (and one of her Springer Spaniels), and Margaret’s son/Sous Chef

Unlike the other chefs at this year’s Maine Lobster Chef of the Year competition, Margaret doesn’t work in a restaurant. As a corporate chef at Native Maine Produce and Shucks Lobster, she oversees HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) training, new product development, and customer education. She is, however, available for catering and says she would happily recreate her award-winning dish for lucky clients.

Continue reading “2008 Maine Lobster Chef of the Year Margaret McLellan” »

July 30, 2008

Maine’s First Lady, Karen Baldacci Presides Over Prestigious Lobster Ceremony

Amid a quiet flurry of professional activity at the Blaine House on Tuesday, July 22nd, the Maine Lobster Chef of the Year contest was revivified. First Lady Karen Baldacci looked lovely in a gold suit adorned with flowers as she circulated rooms and chatted with guests.

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Maine’s First Lady, Karen Baldacci, at the Lobster Chef of the Year Competion

Accompanied by the first family’s two sweet spaniels, Mia and Sam, Mrs. Baldacci made all guests feel warmly welcomed and at home. Her gracious manner, down-to-earth mien, warm smile, and knowledge and appreciation of Maine’s lobster industry made the day a most stimulating and enjoyable one for all. “The event was held here for years,” she said. “It’s a good promotion for Maine, and we’re glad it’s back. It’s in huge demand [Maine lobster] and it’s our future.”

From the staff at Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.

July 29, 2008

Tuna Marinade, Lost and Found

There’s nothing worse than misplacing a favorite recipe.

A couple of summers ago, I got hooked on a marinade for ahi tuna that a friend in California had given me, and used the recipe at least a million times during the grilling season. And then I didn’t. The seasons changed, I got out of the habit, and I guess the hand-written recipe just disappeared into an unmanageable pile of loose recipes in my kitchen.

Continue reading “Tuna Marinade, Lost and Found” »

July 28, 2008

Martha’s Wild Maine Blueberry Pancakes

This season Isle au Haut has more blueberries than I have seen in 50 years. They are growing everywhere. The hikers are enjoying a great treat on every trail.

This brings back fond memories of my children heading out every morning for the great blueberry expedition, promising enough berries for at least 3 or 4 pies, and a very large mound of the most delicious wild blueberry pancakes in the world.

Continue reading “Martha’s Wild Maine Blueberry Pancakes” »

July 27, 2008

Maine Lobster Chef of the Year Finalist Zeph Belanger

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Zeph Belanger, Sous Chef at Hartstone Inn, Camden, made quite an impression on judges with his Maine Lobster dish. His creation was a delightful salad with complementary Asian flavors. Elegantly and exquisitely prepared, including the care he took in all aspects of the competition, his attention to detail, all perfectly combined to accentuate his delectable finished product. He captured the 1st runner-up distinction at the 2008 Maine Lobster Chef of the Year competition.

Zeph, who has been working in professional kitchens since the age of 15, currently works with internationally award-winning Chef, Michael Salmon at The Hartstone Inn in Camden. Try your hand at his delicious award-winning dish.

Continue reading “Maine Lobster Chef of the Year Finalist Zeph Belanger” »

July 26, 2008

Maine Lobster Chef of the Year Finalist Joshua Clark

Chef Joshua Clark created one of the most memorable dishes of Joshclark1067_2
this
year’s Maine Lobster Chef of the Year
competition: Hot & Sour
Lobster Tail. Displaying bravado and chutzpah, Clark – Chef de
Cuisine at Atlantica Restaurant in Camden – dared to invent a dish that
would "cook itself." Lobsters were briefly blanched,
cooled in an ice bath, and then finished in a hot, flavorful
broth of orange juice, ginger, Thai chiles, and Szechuan peppercorns. The result: a
slurpy, zesty lobster experience.

Hot & Sour Lobster Tail

Plate
1½ – 2 pounds live lobster
1 ounce Daikon Radish, julienned
1 ounce baby bok choy chiffonade
2 scallions, greens only
½ ounce watercress
½ ounce dried red chile chiffonade
1 ounce sushi ginger

Continue reading “Maine Lobster Chef of the Year Finalist Joshua Clark” »

July 25, 2008

Maine Lobster Chef Finalist Pete Murphy

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Pete Murphy, Executive Chef of the Historic Russell House Restaurant and Tavern in Boothbay Harbor, has every reason to be proud. As second runner-up at the recent Maine Lobster Chef of the Year cook off event, he considered it “a personal and career achievement” just to have been selected one of the top five finalists to compete.

A graduate of Johnson and Wales Culinary Institute, Pete is classically trained in French cuisine but calls his personal style “Creative American." Below is his recipe which wowed judges.

 

Continue reading “Maine Lobster Chef Finalist Pete Murphy” »

Maine Lobster Chef Awards – Behind the Scenes

Tuesday was a big day for five Maine chefs. They spent the entire
day doing their best to impress a panel of culinary experts with
Maine’s top crustacean: Lobster. While dishes were painstakingly
prepared to perfection, tables were set with enticingly expressive
arrangements of each individual chef’s dishes.

Pete Russell of Historic Russell House displayed a melon with a
beautifully carved floral motif; sailing flags adorned the front of
Joshua Clark’s table for Atlantica Restaurant; Margaret McLellan, Shucks Maine Lobster, displayed
platters made of recycled lobster shells; black trays were lined with
rice on the table of Zeph Belanger, Hartstone Inn; timeless red roses
accented the clean white linen at Lawrence Klang’s table for Natalie’s
at Camden Harbour Inn.

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Zeph Belanger, Pete Russell, Lawrence Klang, Joshua Clark, Margaret McLellan

It was certainly an elegant and tasteful day, filled with the quiet suspense of waiting.

Five pristine white chef coats waited around anxiously for their
turn. Sportsmanship was admirable and commendable as the clocked ticked
down for each one. Some waited with sous-chefs, moms, sisters, sons,
girlfriends, restauranteurs. They paced, they prepped, they perfected,
and in the end, all did lobster proud.

From the staff at Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.

July means…Everything at once

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, July is supposed to be a lull in the farming season – all the big plantings are in, harvesting isn’t yet at it’s peak, and dry weather keeps weeds in check. I wish this supposed reality were true at the Bowdoin Organic Garden! July is the month when everything is going on at once.

Continue reading “July means…Everything at once” »

July 23, 2008

Maine Lobster Chef of the People

Following the official, hush-hush, and very closed door judging by four culinary professionals – which included our own creative director and culminated in the selection of the Maine Lobster Chef of the Year award (see previous post) – at 4 p.m. the doors to the Blaine House were opened to press and guests to cast their ballots for the People’s Choice award.

Continue reading “Maine Lobster Chef of the People” »

July 22, 2008

Maine Lobster Chef of the Year

Today at the Blaine House in Augusta, the Maine Lobster Promotion Council and sponsor Maine Food and Lifestyle magazine held the Maine Lobster Chef of the Year event. Inventive lobster recipes with exciting twists were prepared by some of Maine’s stellar chefs, and were sampled and rated by a panel of judges.

Margaret Salt McLellan was crowned the 2008 winner. Her prize winning dish was "Maine Lobster Purse with Wild Maine Complements and Pea Shoot Salad." McLellan is Corporate Chef at Native Maine Produce, and Shucks Lobster in Richmond.

The first runner up award went to Zeph Belanger, Sous-Chef at The Hartstone Inn in Camden, for his Maine Lobster Salad with Ginger, Kaikon, Bacon, and a warm Ponzu Dressing.

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Zeph Belanger, Maine’s First Lady Karen Baldacci, Margaret Salt McLellan.

First Lady Karen Baldacci presided over the event, where five finalists
vied for the coveted title. Among them were: McLellan; Belanger;
Executive Chef Pete Murphy of
the Historic Russell House Restaurant and Tavern in Boothbay Harbor;
Lawrence Klang, Chef de Cuisine at Natalie’s Camden Harbour Inn; and
Joshua Clark, Chef de Cuisine, Atlantica Restaurant, Camden.

For full coverage of the event and for Margaret McLellan’s award-winning recipe, the next issue of Maine Food and Lifestyle will have it all!

From the staff at Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.

July 21, 2008

Arrows’ Spicy Cilantro and Basil Sauce

Every year we try to get to some part of Asia and after many trips from Indonesia to Beijing, one begins to find that there are certain staple sauces that never fail to satisfy. Our spicy cilantro and basil sauce is just this sort of staple. It’s incredibly easy to make and tastes great on virtually everything! We tone down the use of fish sauce that one would commonly find in this sort of dipping sauce in Asia, but this is a matter of taste; add more (with care) if you want a more authentic South East Asian flavor.

1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
½ cup cilantro leaves
¼ cup basil leaves
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 shallots, peeled
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 serrano chile, stemmed and seeded
2 teaspoons finely chopped gingerroot
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all the ingredients in the jar of a blender and process for 30 seconds until smooth. Cover and refrigerate or keep at room temperature until serving. It is best used the same day it is made.

Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier are the chef-owners of Arrows  restaurant in Ogunquit.

July 20, 2008

What kind of insurance policy covers mashed potato wrestling?

The Maine Potato Blossom Festival closes today with live music, a bean supper, an evening social (BYO lawn chair) and fireworks over the Aroostook River. The hay-bale toss, beard-growing, skillet throw and barrel rolling contests have already been held, and the beautiful Potato Blossom Queens have been crowned. And yesterday, a beloved tradition returned to the nation’s top spud producing town of Fort Fairfield, Maine: mashed potato wrestling.

Continue reading “What kind of insurance policy covers mashed potato wrestling?” »

July 19, 2008

Favorite Food Find in Maine?

The staff at MF&L pondered this question at a recent end-of-the-day gab fest. We almost achieved consensus.

Jim Bazin: After sitting in Route 1 traffic in Wiscasset one too many times, I decided to find out why this was always happening to me and anyone else who had to cross the Wiscasset Bridge. I discovered the reason was this funny looking little shack named “Red’s Eats” that sits on the edge of town, just before the bridge. I parked my car and joined a very long line of people waiting for their turn to order what was billed as “the best lobster roll in Maine.” Guess what? It was. And it has been every time I’ve returned.

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Lobster Roll from Red’s Eats in Wiscasset

There may be a comparable lobster roll out there somewhere, and I’ve sampled some very good ones over the years, but I’ve yet to find one with the enormous quantity of lobster AND the sweet freshness of the meat at Red’s. Please, PLEASE, do let me know if you’ve found something even close to this good.

Continue reading “Favorite Food Find in Maine?” »

July 18, 2008

Farmers’ Market in Central Maine

I have just returned from the Dexter Community Farmer’s market which comes together every Friday thanks to the generosity of a local grocery store that makes their parking lot available to the vendors. Among the vendors is my friend Sandy who raises goats and makes the most delicious and delicate goat cheese I have ever tasted. The garlic flavored cheese had already been snatched up so I picked up the herbed flavor. The message: Get there early!

Continue reading “Farmers’ Market in Central Maine” »

July 17, 2008

Return of the Yoga Goddess

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Ok, so one of my great intentions as the weather got nicer this spring had been to exercise again regularly after my grueling winter stint as a couch potato. You see, I have an excuse for everything. In the winter, naturally it was too cold and too icy to take walks, and an indoor gym membership was just too expensive and impractical, as it would ha??ve involved driving at least 15 miles to get there… and in all the snowstorms we had, forget that. So, I waited it out and wintered well like a good Mainer.

As soon as the coast was clear, I laced up my Asics and started pounding the pavement. I walked gung-ho, 3 miles a day, for a surprising 2 weeks straight. It felt good, it was a natural high, and I was addicted once again to feeling positive about myself. Then the excuses came. Too much housework was being neglected, the fridge was empty, I was so tired, I had work to do and that 1/2 hr. I was walking would just have to wait… until tomorrow.

Continue reading “Return of the Yoga Goddess” »

Maine Roots, Maine Exhibit

Maine has been a source of inspiration for over 35 years. Interestingly, my family roots go back to the 1700s, one of my relatives fought in the Revolutionary War defending Deer Isle. The harbors and coastal areas which I paint carry their names. Another was Sir Hiram Maxim, the famous Maine inventor.

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Easy Peasy Limey Squeezy Summer Salad

The lazy, hazy days of summer are upon us. This is Maine weather at its finest and some afternoons beg for a cool spot in the shade with your feet propped up, a glass of lemonade in hand, and that novel you’ve been itching to read all summer at the ready. Then this idyllic image is erased with the realization that guests will be arriving, and they will definitely be bringing their appetites. When it’s too hot to fuss in the kitchen, but there are still meals to prepare, let your local supermarket take the heat and help you prepare a meal. Cruise into the deli department for cold cuts and rotisserie chicken or turkey, hit the bakery section for crusty herb focaccia or a baguette, and make the last stop the produce department for fresh fruits and veggies. VOILA! A delicious menu can easily be put together and someone else did much of the work.

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July 16, 2008

Exercise and Travel with Your Pet

Summer means more time in the outdoors, exercising,Dog6412_2 and traveling.
If your cat or dog participates in activities with you, remember there are precautions you need to take to assure their safety and good health.

While running, hiking, or biking with your pets, go earlier in the day or later in the evening when it’s cooler. Check their feet for blisters, especially if you are running on pavement which can get very hot. Bring plenty of water and take short breaks. Build them up to an exercise routine and remember: we sweat and they don’t. Too strenuous a routine can also put extra concussion on joints. It is not advisable to exercise with a puppy until it’s over a year old, larger breeds not until 18 months old.

Continue reading “Exercise and Travel with Your Pet” »