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June 30, 2009

“Caviar of Maine” makes a fancy debut

On a lazy Sunday morning, if you’re looking for something to go with your Ducktrap smoked salmon, try the caviar at Browne Trading Company. If it’s good enough for Le Bernardin, it’s probably good enough for a weekend nosh.

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Maine Events Calendar: July 2009

Let’s hope the sun begins to shine in Maine with the beginning of a new summer month! Rain, rain, go away. There are several events, as always, to take in and enjoy all over the state. If you have something you’d like to add to our July events calendar, please forward it to

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June 29, 2009

Recipe Hunt 2: Looking for Great Recipes

OK…I'm hungry again, so let's go check the blogs and see what we can hunt down to inspire us to shop, cook, and eat! How about Salmon, Grilled Stuffed Pork Loin, Herbalicious Chicken, Pan-Fried Gnocchi, Ancho Lentil Soup, Baby Back Ribs, Maine Baked Beans, and Orange and Spice Cookies? Got your attention yet?

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Stuffed Crab Shells

Called cua farci in Vietnamese, these stuffed crab shells make for an excellent appetizer or a light meal when served with a salad on the side. The dish reflects a French influence: The word farci is French for “stuffed,” for example, and the dish contains butter. But it is very much Vietnamese in flavor and texture. After you have enjoyed Atlantic blue crabs or small stone crabs (with black claws) in other dishes, scrub the shells and save them to make this dish. Otherwise, you can use individual soufflé dishes or ramekins.

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June 28, 2009

Heirloom Tomatoes, Now and Later

When I'm in California to visit family, I always have a list of favorite things I like to do while I'm there, and a trip to the local farmers' market is my Number 1 To-Do. The market in Ojai, a little town about 75 miles outside of Los Angeles, never fails to knock my socks off. Not only is the produce and fruit available almost year-round, but it's where I am guaranteed to run into old friends and catch up on their news. Not surprisingly, it takes me a couple of hours to make the rounds, all the while sampling the wares of farmers showing off their strawberries, tangerines, and apricots.

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Perfect Picnic on Monhegan (Conclusion)

The perfect picnic isn’t complete without divine desserts and complementary spirits. Here are a few suggestions to finish off the idyllic day on the island. Beverage suggestions follow recipes.

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June 27, 2009

Perfect Picnic on Monhegan (Part 2)

Here are a couple more sides to add to your picnic basket. Delicious, simple, and perfect to pack for your day trip over to the island.

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Perfect Picnic on Monhegan (Part 1)

IF there is a better moment in time to visit Monhegan Island, I cannot imagine what it is. When the last of the lilacs bloom coincides with the lupine show, it’s pure magic.

It’s no wonder that the island continues to spawn generation after generation of artists…locals and rusticators alike. Not having any real connections to Monhegan, a day tripper like myself must be content to spend a full and glorious day or two hiking, and give careful consideration to one’s own provisions.

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June 26, 2009

Rockland Throwdown: Lynn Archer vs. Bobby Flay

Amidst circulating rumors of a Food Network cooking event in Rockland’s Buoy Park, a tip-off from a reliable source prompted us to investigate. We were completely unprepared for the event which would unfold!

Lynn Archer, chef and proprietor of Rockland’s Brass Compass Cafe arrived a little before noon, clad in leather, on her motorcycle. Friends and family who had been issued invitations to this private event gathered around a tent, where there was a definite air of anticipation. Clearly, something would soon be cooking!LynnBobby-4566

A party atmosphere filled the small gathering. Lynn began with a message of grateful thanks for being blessed by all the good things about small town America, including the tremendous support of a close-knit community.

She then began a cooking demonstration: making bread, shucking lobster, and with great humor and rapport with her audience, began making her signature Lobster Club BLT. As she finished getting her ingredients prepared, who walks into the tent but Bobby Flay, who challenged Lynn to a Lobster Club Throwdown! Totally unfazed, Lynn said she was comfortable on her turf, and had “nothing to worry about.”

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June 25, 2009

Chocolate Pecan Cookies

A little known food holiday just slipped by us. Let me be the first to wish you a belated Happy National Sense of Smell Day. (Who knew?)

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Can Peanuts Grow in Maine?

My garden is in full swing. As a rule, I do not plant what I do not eat, and this year I have planted some unusual things, at least one of which may not be used to the Maine growing season.

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June 24, 2009

Another Oatsy-Fruitsy Morning

We here at Camp Cook & Tell, of which I am head counselor, really like oats.

You may recall our recent homage to granola, that oatsy-fruitsy cereal melange that sank into oblivion shortly after it was introduced by early health food faddists. Unappreciated for a century, the honeyed grains et al finally were embraced by the beaded and headbanded cohort of 1960s hippiedom and became their breakfast of choice. The rest of us tagged along and helped granola achieve enduring popularity.

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Homemade Granola

Guests John and Tammy from Delaware are granola connoisseurs. John
told me that he would buy my granola if it were available for sale.
This is for you John, now you can make your own!

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June 23, 2009

Maine Lobster Chef McLellan: “Bring It On!” (Conclusion)

Day Two: The five finalists were announced. Among them, Texas, Maryland, and of course the favored son of New Orleans, who was now representing Mississippi, John Currence. Chef Currence, on day one, had sauntered in wearing ripped jeans, cowboy boots, and a seriously wrinkled chef jacket. Day two, he at least wore an ironed jacket but I somehow knew he was not be underestimated.

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Champagne-Buttered Lobster Tails with Mâche Florets

Champagne-Buttered Lobster Tails with Mâche Florets
300 Big & Bold Barbecue & Grilling Recipes

4 rock lobster tails (each about 8 ounces)
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

Champagne Butter
1 cup unsalted butter                                 
½ cup Champagne                                   
¼ cup chopped fresh lemon balm leaves     
8 ounces mâche florets (about 4 cups)          
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice             
1 loaf crusty French bread, warmed              

Prepare a medium-hot fire in your grill. Using kitchen shears or a cleaver, cut the lobster tails in half lengthwise. Brush lobster meat with melted butter.

Prepare the Champagne butter: In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in Champagne and lemon balm. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Place lobster tails cut side down on the grill. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes to lightly char the meat. Turn and grill on the shell side for 7 to 9 minutes, or until meat is opaque and just firm to the touch (the shell may char).

Dress mâche with lemon juice and place in the center of each plate. Set a lobster tail on each portion of mâche. Serve with Champagne butter on the side for dipping and crusty French bread for sopping.

Definitely sip on the remaining chilled Champagne while enjoying this French version of grilled lobster tails. If you don’t have lemon balm, substitute 1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest (or to taste).

Serves 4.

From the staff at Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.

June 22, 2009

Maine Lobster Chef McLellan: “Bring it On!” (Part 2)

Night One: Our information packet gave us directions to the Arts District where we were treated to an amazing sampling of local cuisine prepared by chefs of New Orleans. One could not turn around without bumping into a bartender. (I am not complaining here.) From there we were loaded onto an air conditioned tour bus and escorted to the next stop, by far the best looking Harley riding big bald police officers imaginable. Lights flashing, sirens blaring, cars pulling out of the way. It was something!

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When Life Gives You Mint, Make Ice Cream

When a large bunch of mint showed up in my CSA bag last week, I puzzled over how to use it. I've never liked mint in any context but toothpaste and dessert, so chutney, jelly, tea, and biryani were out. Ignoring the mint until it went bad was not an option, as I've vowed to eat everything that arrives from the farm this season (except beets: I make my husband eat those).

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June 21, 2009

Maine Lobster Chef McLellan: “Bring It On!” (Part 1)

If you can’t take the heat, get back in the kitchen.

Culinary competition. Ask any chef how they feel about it and you will get one response or the other. Terrifying or exhilarating. I happen to be of the latter school.

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Grilled Rib-Eye Steak with Herbs and Caramelized Onions

Rib-eye steaks, which the French call entrecôtes, are richly marbled, which makes them quite juicy and full of flavor. Because they don't dry out over high heat, rib-eyes are our favorite cut of beef to throw on a searingly hot grill. Try to find aged rib-eye steaks, which are more tender and have a mellower flavor. Most aged beef is sold directly to restaurants, but good butchers and even some supermarkets stock aged beef, especially in the summer grilling season.

In this recipe, sweet caramelized onions stand up to the smoky flavor of the meat. Intensely aromatic herbs like tarragon (the foundation of that classic steak accompaniment, béarnaise sauce) also work well with grilled beef. Here we mix herbs into a salad that is sprinkled over the steaks.

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June 20, 2009

Martini Smoked Salmon

Smoking is the most flavorful way to cook a whole salmon. It gets a nice smokiness and is very moist and tender. Leftovers never go to waste. Leftover salmon, flaked and combined with cream cheese and a little lemon juice, makes a great cocktail spread.

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