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March 31, 2011

Oven-Grilled Waikiki Ribs

This recipe requires marinating the ribs overnight for a minimum of five hours. To toast sesame seeds for this dish, place in a small cast-iron pan on medium-high heat and cook until the seeds are just very lightly browned, turning often to prevent burning. Remove from pan immediately or sesame seeds will continue cooking.

Be cautious when handling the hot peppers this recipe calls for. A pepper’s heat resides primarily in its ribs (membrane), but also in its seeds, so keep and use both for optimum heat. If not wearing gloves, after handling the peppers, be sure to wash your hands and dip them in milk for a few minutes to help diffuse the heat. Refrain from touching you skin with your hands or rubbing your eyes until you have remove all traces of peppers from your hands as it will save you from a lot of misery.

Pork Rib

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March 30, 2011

Meatballs in Spinach Sauce

Serve this Middle-Eastern inspired dish on a bed of couscous for a delicious one-dish meal that is intriguingly different.


Meatballs in Spinach Sauce
George Geary & Judith Finlayson, 650 Best Food Processor Recipes

½ cup fine bulgur
¾ cup iced cold water
1 pound lean ground beef
¼ cup sun-dried tomato pesto
1 egg, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Spinach Sauce
1 pound fresh spinach, stems removed, or 1 package spinach leaves, thawed if frozen
1/3 cup tahini paste
2 Tablespoons green onions, white part only, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cooked couscous

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet.

To cook the couscous for this recipe, bring 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth or water to a boil. Gradually add 1 cup couscous, stirring well. Season with salt to taste. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for at least 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork before using.

For best flavor for this recipe, toast and grind cumin yourself. To toast cumin: Place seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Immediately transfer to a mortar or spice grinder and grind.

In a bowl, combine the bulgur and ice water. Stir well and set aside for 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze out excess liquid and return to bowl. Add ground beef, pesto, egg, and salt and pepper to taste. Using your hands, mix well. Shape into 12 meatballs, each about ¼ cup. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Turn and bake until beef is no longer pink, about 15 minutes more.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, cook spinach until wilted, about 5 minutes (or just until heated through if using frozen). Drain spinach but don’t squeeze the water out. Otherwise, your sauce will not have enough liquid. Transfer to work bowl fitted with metal blade. Add tahini, lemon juice, green onions, garlic, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds.

To serve, spoon couscous onto a deep platter and top with spinach sauce. Arrange meatballs over top.

Serves 6-8.

Krista Kern Desjarlais Named 2011 James Beard Finalist

Our congratulations to Krista Kern Desjarlais of Portland’s Bresca for being named a Best Chef: Northeast finalist for this year’s James Beard Awards! This is a tremendous honor for Krista, Bresca, and Maine!! We wish her all the best as winners will be announced on May 9. Krista is the only finalist from Maine in any category this year.

image of Krista Kern Desjarlais by John Patriquin/Portland Press Herald Staff Photographer

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March 29, 2011

Warm Snow Pea and Chicken Salad

Snow peas aren’t just for stir-fries. Thinly sliced, their crunchy texture and sweet taste combine with a creamy Asian dressing to make this salad special.


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March 28, 2011

Braised Duck

Braised dishes are great for entertaining because most of the work takes place at the front end. Serve this with risotto or mashed potatoes for a satisfying meal. Note: Most Whole Foods Markets and other grocers carry duck year round.
braised duck

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March 27, 2011

Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic

Grape tomatoes, already naturally sweet, take on a new intensity when roasted with a little olive oil and garlic. It’s important to enjoy all the MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids), so make sure to mop up the delicious juices with the toast.


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March 26, 2011

Sauteéd Maine Shrimp

Always on the lookout for new ways to cook Maine shrimp? Those of us who have stored some away in our freezers are! Here is a wonderfully simple recipe to try at home.
Maine shrimp image:

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March 25, 2011

Warm Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese

Okay, every so often you need to get off the island. It clears your head and reminds you of why you love the island so much. This is a version of a delicious lentil salad I had at Prune in New York City. (Editor’s note: The owner of Prune, Gabrielle Hamilton, recently released her acclaimed memoir Blood, Bones, and Butter.)

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March 24, 2011

Bread Pudding

Here is an innovative breakfast dish that could double as a simple supper, breakfast, or brunch dish. A recipe as forgiving as they come, the variations are endless and dictated only by your imagination. I like mine with smoked ham, artichoke hearts, and chevre. Making it vegetarian is a simple option, too.

One thing that makes this dish even easier is that it can be prepared a day in advance and popped in the oven in the morning. A great way to use left over bread crusts if you have a recipe (like crab cakes or tea sandwiches) that uses just the white part of the bread. I save those in the freezer and create this dish when I have enough.


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March 23, 2011

Filet Mignon with Blue Cheese Crust

No need to go to a steakhouse for a delicious steak anymore! Filet mignon is not inexpensive, but for a special occasion it’s a nice choice. Of course, this recipe could also be made with a different cut, like sirloin or ribeye instead.

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March 22, 2011

Jamaican Jerk Tofu

This is the kind of miracle dish that can convert anyone to tofu. The Jamaican “jerk” seasoning is sure-to-please. It’s sort of like barbeque and sort of like curry, savory and sweet at the same time. Just make sure you allow plenty of time for the pressing and marinating. The drier the tofu gets before you put it in the marinade, the better. It will soak up more flavor and be nicely chewy.


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March 21, 2011

Maine Maple Chai Tea

Harry Schwartz, a former writer of “The Maine Ingredient,” a weekly food column in the Portland Press Herald, has kindly shared some of his Maine maple recipes. The following is one of them.

This is a hot, soothing drink to sip after exercising in the cold outdoors, during a quiet moment at the end of a busy day, or while relaxing in the evening. In other words, whenever you need soothing.



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March 20, 2011

Bang’s Island Mussels

Awesome recipe for local mussels with roasted garlic, pickled cherry peppers, and chive butter from Steve Corry, owner of 555 in Portland! See Steve’s video here.

Bang’s Island Mussels
Five Fifty-Five, Portland

Roasted Garlic

Cut two bulbs of garlic in half (across the equator). Cover the garlic in oil (olive oil is preferable) and roast in the oven at 300° for approximately one and a half hours or until the garlic is spreadable. Then remove the garlic from the oven and let cool. Once cool, squeeze the garlic into a mortar and pestle and crush into a paste.

Cherry Peppers
¼ gallon water
¼ gallon vinegar
½ cup salt
¼ pound red cherry peppers
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 stalk of celery, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped

Sweat mirepoix in a small amount of oil until tender. Add water and vinegar and bring to a boil. Add salt. Return liquid to a boil. Remove liquid from heat and cover cherry peppers with hot liquid. Allow to pickle for 2 weeks.

Bang’s Island Mussels
2 Tablespoons diced orange peppers
1 Tablespoon pickled cherry peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
2 bulbs roasted garlic
3 pounds Bang’s Island mussels
1 cup dry white wine
4 ounces butter
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
Lemon juice to taste
Salt to taste

Heat a pan over high heat until it is smoking hot. Add a splash of oil, orange peppers, cherry peppers, and roasted garlic and sauté for 10 seconds. Add mussels and toss.

Add white wine and reduce by ½, then add butter, chives, lemon juice, and salt. Toss and then cover mussels and allow them to steam until the mussels open.

Once mussels have opened, remove the mussels from the pan, leaving sauce behind. Let sauce reduce until thickened and then pour over the mussels. Serve with crusty grilled bread.

Serves 6-8 as a starter.

March 19, 2011

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

American novelist David Leavitt said “Childhood smells of perfume and brownies.” Oh yes! The fragrance of brownies baking brings me back to such happy times baking with my Mom at around age 6.

What’s your preference when it comes to brownies? Dense and fudgy or light and cakey? With frosting? Pecans? Walnuts? Chocolate chips? Peanut butter chips? Marshmallows? Toffee bits? Or how about a Blondie instead of a chocolate brownie? The choices are seemingly endless with all sorts of delicious combinations.

The brownie is best described as a flat, baked square that is a cross between cake and a cookie. It first appeared during the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois when a chef at the Palmer House Hotel created the confection at the request of Bertha Palmer. She described what she wanted as something smaller than a piece of cake that could be easily eaten from boxed lunches. These first brownies had an apricot glaze and had walnuts in the batter and are still being made at the hotel according to the original recipe.

Our wonderful state of Maine can also stand up and take a bow for its role in the history of brownies. In 1907 Lowney’s Cook Book by Maria Willet Howard (published by Walter M. Lowney Company of Boston) listed a recipe for Bangor Brownies, created by a woman from where else but Bangor, Maine. A few years later, The Bangor Brownie was rated the #3 position in a rating of the 10 most popular snacks.


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March 18, 2011

Fajita Steak and Shrimp Tacos

This is my favorite surf ‘n’ turf taco. Tender shrimp sautéed with sweet peppers and onions complement the grilled beefy taste of this taco. Cooked shrimp speeds up the prep time.


Fajita Steak and Shrimp Tacos
Kelley Cleary Coffeen, 300 Best Taco Recipes

1 pound beef skirt steak
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt
12 medium shrimp, cooked, peeled, deveined and coarsely chopped (or a handful of Maine shrimp!)
1 onion, sliced into ¼-inch thick rings
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 orange or green bell pepper, julienned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8  6-8 inch corn or flour tortillas
2 limes, cut into 6 wedges

Brush meat with 1 Tablespoon of the oil. Season with salt to taste. Place steak on a broiler pan and broil 2-3 inches away from the heat or sear in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 3-4 inches per side. Let stand for a few minutes then thinly slice meat across the grain.

In a large skillet, heat remaining 1 Tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Sauté shrimp, onion, bell peppers, and salt and pepper to taste until peppers are tender-crisp, vegetables are slightly charred and shrimp is heated through, 10-12 minutes.

To build tacos, skillet warm tortillas. Divide meat and shrimp mixture equally among tortillas and fold tortillas in half. Serve with lime wedges.

Makes 12 tacos.

March 17, 2011

Chocolate Guinness Cake

“Need to make a special cake for a special occasion? Or feel like extending your Irish love just one more day this year? Make this chocolate cake featuring Guinness, the famous Irish beer. It adds rich color and moistness. If serving this cake with whipped cream, make it extra rich by flavoring the whipping cream with a splash or two of Irish cream liqueur.”—Eric Akis

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March 16, 2011

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

This is a fuss-free way to cook traditional corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day. Terrific served with Dijon mustard and crusty bread.


Traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage

1 medium onion, cut into wedges
4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 pound baby carrots
3 cups water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (3 pound) corned beef brisket with spice packet, cut in half
1 small head cabbage, cut into wedges

Place the onion, potatoes, and carrots in a 5-quart slow cooker.

Combine water, garlic, bay leaf, sugar, vinegar, pepper, and contents of spice packet; pour over vegetables. Top with brisket and cabbage.

Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Serves 6.

March 15, 2011

Irish Oatmeal Cake

Looking for the perfect dessert to compliment your St. Patty’s Day dinner? Irish eyes will be smiling when you bring this to the dinner table.

This is an easy one layer cake, often baked into a square shape but can be made into a two layer round cake by doubling the batter recipe. I like this cake, when presented as a two layer with an old-fashioned burnt sugar icing. There is a nice recipe for that icing at But the coconut and walnut broiled topping featured here really hits the spot too! Good old Irish whiskey really turbo charges the flavor.
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March 14, 2011

Savory Wild Mushroom Strudel

This strudel is delicious as a brunch dish, a substantial appetizer, a side dish for a game dinner, or a meatless main course. Use equal parts domestic and wild mushrooms or vary the proportions as you wish. Suggested mushroom varieties include morel, cremini, chanterelle, oyster, cèpe, and/or baby bella.

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March 13, 2011

Thai Corn and Crab Soup

Fish sauce, a popular ingredient in Thai cooking, adds savory, salty, and sour notes to this lusty soup. Its strong flavor is so assertive, you only need to use a little, which helps keep the sodium count down. Look for it next to the soy sauce in the international section of your grocery store. If you can’t find it, there isn’t really an appropriate substitute, unfortunately.crab-and-corn-chowder


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