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July 31, 2009

Blueberry Fields Forever

Yesterday I played hooky. I had scheduled too many things for a single morning and finally decided I had to make choices between doing what I felt obligated to do, and doing something I had always wanted to do. I figured I had attended or chaired close to 19 zillion meetings in my life, but I had never — not once — picked wild blueberries on a summer morning in Maine. It wasn’t a hard choice to make: Blueberries For Sal, redux.

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Maine Events Calendar: August 2009

Summer is finally here! We hope you make the most of it. Get out and enjoy the sunshine and a wide variety of activities across the state. August is the traditional month for Maine fairs and festivals. Whether you’re a local or visitor, we encourage you take part in the fun Maine has to offer.

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Lobster Fest Sighting

Spotted at Rockland’s Lobster Fest today (Friday), Maine Food & Lifestyle Editor, Melanie Hyatt, accompanied by Blackbeard, our famous local Pirate Captain. We look forward to seeing Captain Blackbeard each year at this event!

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From the staff at Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.

2009 Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest

One of the highlights of the Maine Lobster Festival was held today at the North entertainment tent in Harbor Park, Rockland. The annual Seafood Cooking Contest showcased an array of amateur cooking talent, and the heat was on! Five finalist contestants cooked off their recipes after being chosen as the winning applicants from a sea of entries. Each one vied for the top spot, but in the end, all were certainly winners.

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L to R: Elizabeth Heydebrand, Chris Oliver, Chris Abbruzzese, Jeffrey Seitzinger, and Julia Irace

Top honors went to Julia Irace, a Camden, Maine native who now hails from Portland, with her “Lobster Pot Pie.” Other winners were: Liz Heydebrand of New York, NY; Chris Oliver of Rockland, ME; Jeffrey Seitzinger of Midway, AL; and Chris Abbruzzese of Brimfield, IL.

Check our blog in the coming week where we’ll have a profile on each of the finalists, including their recipes!

From the staff at Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.

July 30, 2009

Madeira-Sauteéd Lobster on Angel Hair Pasta

Here’s a typical scenario: I invite eight or so people for dinner in the morning. Not having a clue as to what I’m going to serve, I get busy checking out recipes in kitchen drawers, books, buffet drawers, bedroom nightstands, and so on. Quite often, I settle on Madeira-Sautéed Lobster with some sort of pasta.

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Fried Dough: A Recipe For Nostalgia

I love fried dough. It is my guilty pleasure, the secret reason I look forward to the fairs and festivals occurring every summer in Maine. Fourth of July, Lobster Festival, Union Fair, Windsor Fair, Common Ground Fair…those doughboys keep me happy with a taste of nostalgia, year after year. They’re the sweetbread taste of childhood I hope I never outgrow. Somehow, I can’t see that happening anytime soon.

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July 29, 2009

Chilled Gazpacho with Lobster and Lime Crème Fraîche

Few dishes are as refreshing on a hot summer day as gazpacho. In Maine we embellish this classic Spanish “liquid salad” with lobster.

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Lobster Crusted Beef Fillet

This is one of the most popular dishes I serve at the Inn. Alison, my friend and evening server, loves this when paired with Caramelized Onion, Garlic, and Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes and Beet Puree. She insisted that I include all three recipes in my book, so of course I did!

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July 28, 2009

Maine Fare: a Preview

I’ve been privileged to be a part of the group that is producing Maine Fare, a culinary event that takes place in Camden September 11-13. But this is not “just another food event,” an excuse to graze up and down aisles and aisles of food vendors sampling their wares. Sure, there will be plenty of opportunities to taste and sip, but Maine Fare is much more.

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A Downeast Southwest Salad

It’s late July, and we’re just getting our first taste of heat and humidity. When the weather’s like this, all I can muster for dinner are simple, fresh, cooling salads.

A few years ago, the New York Times featured a list of 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less. I highlighted the twenty or so that struck my fancy and played around with them all summer. This salad, a variation on #39, is the one meal on the list that’s stuck with me. I make it regularly this time of year, since it offers a refreshing balance of smokey, sweet, and citrus flavors. It also makes great use of late summer produce; you can probably find everything but the limes at your farmers’ market.

July 27, 2009

Maine Lobster Festival

Lots of people build their summer vacation round one of Maine’s famous food festivals–and of course, locals turn out in droves–to participate in the fun and the eating.

The 62nd Annual Maine Lobster Festival, starting this Wednesday noon in Harbor Park in Rockland, is a huge, five day festival which hosts thousands of visitors each year. There are lobster street sculptures, a parade, the annual Sea Goddess Coronation, music galore, arts tents, a race on half-submerged lobster crates and…lobster.

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Açai Mocktail

The Brazilian açai berry is high in antioxidant power. This mocktail includes other antioxidant-rich ingredients as well.

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Linny’s Tomalley & Roe All-Go Lobster Stew

The basic lobster stew recipe–usually just lobster, cream, and butter–doesn’t do it for me. I don’t think it has much flavor. But if you use the tomalley and the roe (Tomalley is the soft green material full of delicious flavor you find tucked away in the lobster bodies. Roe, also called coral, is brilliant red when cooked and less flavorful, but it adds pretty color to the stew.), I am confident that just one taste and you’ll never go back to throwing all this good stuff away.

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July 26, 2009

Cinnamon Buns

“Boy, it sure smells good in here!”

We hear that comment many times a day, from tourists and neighbors, pilots and captains, strangers and friends. My little tiny summer-only bakery is up and running now, which means my kitchen is no longer a family haven but is completely taken over by the needs of the business. My husband finds a few square feet of the kitchen table, way back in the corner, to sort through brass fittings or repair a piece of equipment, to draw a circuit diagram or do the crossword, but for the most part, he’s living in a bakery.

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July 25, 2009

Vanilla Ice Cream Drowned in Espresso (L’affogato al caffe)

This is so simple, but so delicious! When piping hot espresso is poured over ice cream, it melts into a rich, thick sweet cream around the edges, making an amazing contrast with the biter bite of the hot coffee. Just the thing to finish off a special barbecue dinner. Yum!

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Blueberry Sour Cream Pound Cake

This is a family favorite when served warm as side bread or dessert.

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July 24, 2009

How To Become a Locabib

Growing grapes in Maine is not an easy task. Some would say it’s impossible because of the short growing season and myriad pests and weather issues. But while the hills may not be alive with Pinot noir, there are plenty of Concord grapes, which are one of the few fruits native to the U.S. They grew wild all over my father's property in Turner, along the banks of the Androscoggin River. Growing up, I would crawl around in their thick, craggy darkness and emerge purple-stained; the grapes are slip-skin and separate easily from the flesh, leaving behind sticky trails of juice. My step-brothers and I would pick them and then try to make grape juice. It always turned out strong enough to peel paint even after we added sugar. Lots of it.

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Chilled Stuffed Grape Leaves

Yalanchi means “liar.” Normally grape leaves are stuffed with ground lamb and rice. I prefer this version, without meat, and served chilled, as an appetizer. I have yet to encounter anyone who has tried these Sarma without telling me they are the best they have ever eaten.

Just like Mexican families who gather at Christmas and make tamales, or Chinese families who get together to make dumplings, Armenians sit around the table and roll grape leaves. All these special, labor-intensive foods have a way of creating harmony and togetherness. These days I enlist my friends and my daughter’s friends to help.

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July 23, 2009

James Beard Award Winner Rob Evans: Fun with Duck Fat

I had to go to Portland when I heard about the Belgian style fries done in duck fat! Plus I needed to see what James Beard Award Winner Rob Evans of Hugo's was doing for FUN! Well, he's doing Duck Fat! "And why?" reads the menu. "Because it makes the fries taste good" is the response.

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The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich Around

When I asked a friend if she'd divulge the name of her favorite clam shack/lobster pound in her part of Maine, her unreserved recommendation was Cod End in Tenants Harbor. She said, "We go so often that sometimes we end up just getting the grilled cheese on anadama bread with tomatoes. It's outstanding, and the perfect lunch when you're not in the mood for seafood." The secret, of course, is to start with good bread–Cod End gets their oatmeal and molasses anadama from the Schoolhouse Bakery in town–and to use a nice, sharp Cheddar cheese.

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