Plating Up Blog Banner Back Issues Sign Up For Our Free eNewsletter Subscribe to Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine Plating Up Blog Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine Table of Contents Subscribe to Our Magazine About Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine Bits and Bites Press Page Send Email Plating Up Blog

February 28, 2010

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

My Mom, bless her heart, has a serious addiction: Chocolate. This 85 years young dynamo must have chocolate every day. Chocolate cookies, chocolate cream pie, brownies, chocolate cake, hot fudge sauce, whoopee pies, hot chocolate, M&M’s, chocolate covered peanuts…chocolate anything is on her menu without fail. She recently confessed that her “stash” had somehow become depleted (gremlins, no doubt) which resulted in sheer panic until she scrounged around in her pantry and found some baking chocolate which suited her sweet tooth perfectly. (That is so off my radar screen as I would choose chicken livers over dark chocolate any day.)

What IS on my radar screen (front and center with flashing lights) is chocolate cheesecake. The crunchy chocolate almond crust and the rich (feels like velvet in your mouth) filling. Oh my. Chocolate nirvana.


Continue reading “Triple Chocolate Cheesecake” »

February 27, 2010

Brachetto Martini

With the weather all crazed and power outages all over, we in Maine need something that can help bring some spark into our moods. Here’s a suggestion: Put the kids to bed, light a bunch of candles, sit next to the fire, and enjoy a Brachetto Martini.

A little background on Brachetto D’Aqui…It’s a DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita; part of the governing body for Italian wines) from the Piedmont region in Italy. Brachetto is the grape that it is made from a light slightly sparkling red that is best served chilled. Its perfumy nose and fruit filled palate are a treat. It is technically a dessert wine, with some residual sugar.

It is also delightful on its own sitting on the back patio on a warm day. But who am I kidding? We’re in Maine and it’s not likely that scenario is in the near future, so let’s make our own.



Continue reading “Brachetto Martini” »

February 26, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper and Black Olive Hummus

I make this hummus for the appetizer table and serve it with my herb toasted pita chips (recipe follows). It also makes a great lunch, spread in a warm pita pocket with sliced tomatoes and cucumber, red onion, and feta cheese.



Continue reading “Roasted Red Pepper and Black Olive Hummus” »

February 25, 2010

Quick Caribbean Fish & Shrimp Stew

Port Clyde Fresh Catch asks you to consider the importance of the following questions when purchasing your seafood. Does it matter to you…

  • That it’s wild-caught in an environmentally sustainable way?
  • That it’s of exceptional quality and handled with great care?
  • That you can trace the short, speedy path it follows from the moment it’s harvested until it reaches your plate?
  • That you’re helping sustain one of the last traditional fishing villages in Maine?
  • If you answered yes to any or all, give Port Clyde Fresh Catch a Call!


Continue reading “Quick Caribbean Fish & Shrimp Stew” »

February 24, 2010

James Beard Semifinalists Revealed

It’s time once again for the “Oscars” of the Food World. The 2010 James Beard Semifinalists have been announced, and Maine has made another fine showing. Not to sound cliche, but they are all winners in our book, representing us in a most tasteful manner. We’d like to congratulate the following:

Outstanding Restaurant: Fore Street, Portland, ME

Outstanding Chef: Sam Hayward, Fore Street, Portland, ME

Best Chef Northeast:

Penelle Chase, Phoebe Chase, Megan Chase, and Ted Lafage, Chase’s Daily, Belfast, ME

Krista Kern Desjarlais, Bresca, Portland, ME

Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier, Arrows Restaurant, Ogunquit, ME

Brian Hill, Francine Bistro, Camden, ME

Chef of the Year: Rick Hirsch of Damariscotta River Grill

The Maine Restaurant Association has chosen Chef Rick Hirsch, owner of Damariscotta River Grill (in Damariscotta, of course) as its 2010 Chef of the Year. Chef Hirsch will accept the award on March 30 at the organization’s annual awards event in Portland.


Continue reading “Chef of the Year: Rick Hirsch of Damariscotta River Grill” »

February 23, 2010

Linda Greenlaw’s Corned (Salted) Hake

This is a very old Maine recipe that comes from the days when fish was salted (or corned) to preserve it. The first time I tasted corned hake was several years ago when the captain of a commercial fishing boat fixed it as a special treat for his crew. (This was a memorable occasion itself, because it’s rare that a captain actually cooks.) He started with a fresh hake, which he buried in a pound of table salt for a day or so. The corned fish then gets “freshened” in several changes of water to remove most of the excess salt, then cooked. If you can’t get your hands on a hake, any salt fish, such as salt cod, will do just fine.


salt fish image courtesy of

Continue reading “Linda Greenlaw’s Corned (Salted) Hake” »

February 22, 2010

Raisin Bread

Jim is a true Maine character; I’ve known him ever since I started working on the windjammers. He’s panned for gold in the Camden Hills, taught me how to upholster my first chair, and done just about everything else in between. He gave me this recipe—it’s easy, delicious, and it always works.raisbreadimage from

Jim’s Raisin Bread
Anne Mahle, At Home, At Sea

8 cups all-purpose flour
2 packages (2 Tablespoons) yeast
1 Tablespoon salt
3½ cups warm water
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups raisins
1 egg (optional)

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in all the remaining ingredients, reserving ¼ cup water. Add more water if needed. Knead for 10-15 minutes.

Oil the bowl and the top of the dough, cover, and set aside in a warm, draft free place to rise until doubled (about 1 hour). Preheat oven to 350°.

Divide the dough in half; shape them into long French-style loaves onto the pan. Cover and allow to rise again. When the loaves have nearly doubled, make three diagonal slashes on each loaf with a very sharp knife.

Place the pans in the oven, throw a cup of water over hot stones set in a pan in the bottom of the oven (or toss 3-4 ice cubes into a pan in the bottom of the oven) to generate steam and quickly close the oven door. Bake until golden brown (around 35-40 minutes).

Makes 2 loaves.

February 21, 2010

Portland Museum of Art, Restaurant Week team up

Maine Restaurant Week is March 1-10, which is actually more than a week, but no one is complaining.  Restaurants from Old Orchard Beach to Bethel and Thomaston to Bangor are offering three-course menus priced at $20.10, $30.10 and $40.10 during the 10-day period. In addition to the special pricing, there is a Breakfast Cook-off March 5 and a Bartender’s Bash (to benefit the Preble Street Resource Center) on March 1, the latter sponsored by Cold River Vodka.

Continue reading “Portland Museum of Art, Restaurant Week team up” »

February 20, 2010

Eggs Florentine with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

If you’re a brunch fan, invite some friends over and impress them with this belly-busting creation. Don’t worry if you’ve never poached an egg before—the dash of vinegar in the water helps the egg white hold its shape.

eggs florentine


Continue reading “Eggs Florentine with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto” »

February 19, 2010

The Square Route to Dinner

Marvin, my boss, was the art director of his own ad agency. I was his assistant, fresh out of art school. From him I learned plenty about advertising and design. Once he wrote me a bit of doggerel that ended with this affectionate put-down:

If you really try your hardest
Maybe you’ll become an ardest.

He also taught me about squaring things up. Marvin never left the office without lining up his pencils, all parallel, straightening up the papers on his desk, and arranging his layout pad flush with the edge of his drawing board. He told me his closets at home got the same treatment. I imagined his wardrobe of shoes resembling the disembodied feet of a precision drill team. Continue reading “The Square Route to Dinner” »

February 18, 2010

Warm Red Cabbage Slaw with Creamy Herbed Goat Cheese

One of Mark’s favorite dishes growing up was his mother’s pork roast, which she served with his uncle’s homemade sauerkraut or with braised red cabbage. When we cooked at Stars for Jeremiah Tower, we made several different red cabbage salads. Gradually we changed this recipe to be more like Mark’s mom’s, but the cooking technique that we learned from Jeremiah is still the best. Great served with Roast Pork Loin with Rosemary and Garlic.


(image courtesy of Continue reading “Warm Red Cabbage Slaw with Creamy Herbed Goat Cheese” »

February 17, 2010

Whaler’s Toddy

The very name of this warming toddy makes me think of old whaling ships coming into port in the dead of a cold night. Maybe people on the dock are waiting to catch their lines and the crew disembarks and heads to the nearest tavern for a hot toddy. In today’s world it would certainly be a welcome libation after a long afternoon on the ski

Continue reading “Whaler’s Toddy” »

February 16, 2010

Chive Smashed Potatoes

I use a potato masher to create the coarse texture of my smashed potatoes. As for the chives, my kitchen herb garden provides me with fresh herbs — everything from rosemary and Italian parsley to sage and thyme. All of these herbs and many others complement the mild flavor of potatoes. Other flavorings I add to the potatoes are Parmesan cheese, smoked tomato puree, roasted garlic and caramelized red onions.smashed-potatoes-ck-1853958-l

(image from Continue reading “Chive Smashed Potatoes” »

February 15, 2010

Sicilian Delights

I’ve been asked from time to time to teach cooking classes and run wine tastings. I love it when I teach for the Institute for Italian Studies. These are folks who teach immersion courses, travel with students to learn more about the culture and of course, partake in the food and wine (for education of course!). We have this right here in Portland.

Whenever I have to prepare for a class, I have to do research (a shame, really!). This next class (Feb 22nd) is a 5 course meal based on the delights of Sicily. Food is gorgeous there, wines are wonderful, how perfect to bring them together! As a study, I stumbled across Stuffed Sardines. We get these fresh sardines flown in from Portugal twice a week,  and they are incredible. I wanted to share the recipe and then a few Sicilian wines of course, because I think they are some of the unsung heroes in the world of wine.stuffed sardineseimage courtesy of

Continue reading “Sicilian Delights” »

Shrimp and Red Pepper Aioli Crostinis

Available soon at bookstores online and directly from, Eric S. Lee’s ode to Valentine’s cuisine, Sweeping Her Off Her Feet With Food, is a cookbook for the romantic chef in everyone. The directions he provides are so simple and easy to follow that it won’t really matter if they think they can’t or just don’t know where to begin. He makes the cooking easy. The book is also packed with romantic suggestions, tips for setting the mood, like how to set the dinner table, and wine recommendations for every recipe.clip_image010

Continue reading “Shrimp and Red Pepper Aioli Crostinis” »

February 13, 2010

Recipe for Romance

Looking for a recipe that’ll turn up the heat (in your kitchen) this Valentine’s Day?

Black Cherry and Black Pepper Lamb Chops with Sweet Pea Risotto
Recipe and image courtesy Rachael Ray and Food Network


Continue reading “Recipe for Romance” »

February 12, 2010

Lobster Parfaits with Teardrop Tomatoes, Hearts of Palm, and Cilantro-Avocado Dressing

A nice starter for a romantic Valentine’s Day menu. Be a kitchen cupid!

Lobster Parfaits with Teardrop Tomatoes, Hearts of Palm, and Cilantro-Avocado Dressing
Recipe and image from Emeril Lagasse and the Food Network


Continue reading “Lobster Parfaits with Teardrop Tomatoes, Hearts of Palm, and Cilantro-Avocado Dressing” »

February 11, 2010

Cream Cheese Brownies

People are constantly looking for inexpensive, meaningful ways to recognize their colleagues and loved ones – whether it is a co-worker, boss, parent or friend. Home-baked treats are the perfect alternative to costly gifts, but many home bakers feel they lack the skills to create delicious desserts. Sarah Levy, Chicago Pastry Chef and owner of Sarah’s Pastries & Candies, gives tips, instructions and advice in her new cookbook, Sweetness.

Sweetness is lined page after page with delectable treats, many featuring the classic dessert ingredient – vanilla. Vanilla is featured in recipes such as Mom’s Almond Moon Cookies, Amy’s Amazing Carrot Cupcakes and Vanilla Bean Chocolate Truffles.cream-cheese-browniesimage from

Continue reading “Cream Cheese Brownies” »

Swedish Grape Pudding (Kram)

Leigh Ann Schwartzkopf remembered her Swedish grandmother making a simple pudding with grape juice and a thickener and despaired of ever finding the directions for it (sometimes the simpler it is, the harder it is to get it exactly right). Barbara Larsen read Leigh Ann’s search in Cook & Tell and promptly sent us the very recipe of Leigh Ann’s dreams.grape pudding

image courtesy of

Continue reading “Swedish Grape Pudding (Kram)” »