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April 30, 2011

Walnut-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Pomegranate Syrup

No wonder pomegranates are popular—they’re a great source of antioxidants, and they taste wonderful, like a combination of apples, mixed berries, and citrus—a fruit salad in a glass! With so many pomegranate juice blends now available, feel free to experiment with your favorite in this recipe—just make sure to use a brand that’s labeled 100 percent fruit juice.


Walnut-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Pomegranate Syrup
Liz Vaccariello, Flat Belly Diet Cookbook

1 egg
1 Tablespoon water
½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
¼ cup whole grain bread crumbs
½ teaspoon salt
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (5 ounces each)
2 cups pomegranate juice
1 Tablespoon honey
2 teaspoon minced crystallized ginger
6 cups mesclun or mixed greens

Preheat the oven to 425°. coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Whisk the egg with the water in a shallow dish. Combine the walnuts, bread crumbs, and salt in another shallow dish. Dip the chicken into the egg and then the nut mixture. Place on the prepared baking sheet and coat with cooking spray.

Bake, turning once, for 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion registers 165°. Let rest for 10 minutes, then slice the breasts.

Meanwhile, bring the pomegranate juice, honey, and ginger to a boil. Boil for about 15 minutes or until reduced by half. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Arrange the mesclun on 4 plates. Place the chicken on top and drizzle with the pomegranate syrup.

Serves 4.

April 29, 2011

Branding Iron Beef with Smoked Tomato Drizzle

Rustle up this easy version of beef carpaccio. The beef has a little tasty char around the outside, is very rare inside, and has a smoky sauce to finish. You can make the sauce and grill the beef a day ahead and then assemble the thin slices a few hours before your guests arrive. Keep them chilled until you’re ready to serve.

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April 28, 2011

Rhubarb Sour Cream Pie

The presence of rhubarb in my garden this morning is merely nubs, barely breaking the ground, leaves wrinkly and tightly furled. But there promises to be a bumper crop of everyone’s favorite early spring fruit before long. Or is it a vegetable? We mainly use it as a fruit or pair it in pies with other fruits. In a pie, I prefer it with a hint of citrus and the smoothness that sour cream brings to the palate.

This is a pie that my sister Lynn, a terrific cook and pastry chef in her own right, makes for guests at her wonderful Victorian inn, The Widow McCrea House, in Frenchtown, NJ. People rave about this recipe, which also works well as a “buckle” with a biscuit top. Here it is:

Rhubarb Sour Cream Pie

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April 27, 2011

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Picadillo Rice

For the most colorful presentation of this dish, use three colors of peppers—red, yellow, and orange. Nestled on a bed of spinach, they are especially colorful and inviting. Or drape the peppers across a bed of pristine white basmati rice for an equally attractive presentation.


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April 26, 2011

Curried Cauliflower Jacket Potatoes

In London, we ran into “jacket potatoes” in all the little sidewalk restaurants and sandwich shops. The British fluff up a whole baked potato and pour over it things like chicken and cheddar cheese or baked beans and sausages, resulting in a tasty square meal similar to our own stuffed baked potatoes. I devised this version in remembrance of the great Indian cuisine we enjoyed at the Regent Tandoori, near Picadilly Circus.

Concoct the curried cauliflower while the potatoes are baking.

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April 25, 2011

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut macaroons are traditional dessert favorites, and these are truly the best macaroon cookies you’ve ever tasted. The short list of ingredients makes them especially appealing to busy cooks.
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April 24, 2011

Ramp Pesto

A recent article in the New York Times captured my eye about the wild leek or “ramp,” as they are called, and the unprecedented number of folks now out gathering them to near extinction. With that in mind, I wasn’t sure about posting this recipe but I hope readers understand that when harvesting wild foods you should never over harvest…always leave over half of the ‘tribe” undisturbed to assure that there will be a local treat available again next season.

It’s easy to understand why the first of the local forest foods inspires such a frenzy after such a long winter. They are beautiful to look at with their dark red stems and elegant leaves. Their delicious garlicky flavor is unique and this allium has powerful tonic properties. The wild ramp is now in big demand in upscale city restaurants.

I’ve got a simple recipe for a ramp pesto that freezes well, enabling us to enjoy that fresh spring flavor year round (and it works well with leek or scallions too). The trick is in lightly cooking the bulb, while using the tender part of the greens raw for that verdant spring green color. I enjoy this pesto made with blanched almonds, but pine nuts, lightly toasted, would be good too.


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April 23, 2011

Easter Bread

I consider this to be the best bread that there is. It gives the family a quick breakfast and is great year round.


Easter Bread
Brenda Erickson, Kitchen Memories: Recipe Paintings With a Taste of Art

Combine (a):
2 cakes yeast
½ cup lukewarm water

Combine (b):
1½ cups oatmeal
½ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
½ cup shortening
½ cup raisins

3 cups scalded milk
7 to 7½ cups sifted flour
2 beaten eggs
½ cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cinnamon

Soften yeast in warm water (a).

Pour milk over (b) combined oatmeal, sugar, salt, shortening, and raisins which have been placed together in large bowl. Cool to lukewarm. Beat in half the flour, yeast, and eggs. Add remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, cover, and rise until double, about two hours. Punch down, cover, and rise again.

Divide dough into three parts; round each into a ball. Roll with rolling pin into rectangle.  Combine cinnamon and ½ cup sugar. Sprinkle evenly over each rectangle. Roll up to form a loaf. Place in lightly greased bread pans with seam down. Cover and rise until double.

Bake 350° for 40-50 minutes.

Cooking hint: To keep milk form curdling when boiling, add a pinch of baking soda.

April 22, 2011

Pistachio-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Spiced Zinfandel Sauce

Although it’s a special occasion anytime rack of lamb is on the table, the addition of a crunchy and vaguely exotic coating of pistachio nuts brings something different to the party. We dressed it up with a red wine sauce made with Zinfandel, a bold, slightly spicy varietal. Make sure you dress up, too.

Pistachio-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Spiced Zinfandel Sauce
Meredith Deeds & Carla Snyder, Everyday to Entertaining


Preheat oven to 450°.

2 8-rib frenched racks of lamb
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 cup finely chopped unsalted natural pistachios
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

Spiced Zinfandel Sauce
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 Tablespoons chopped shallot
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup Zinfandel wine
1 cup beef stock or reduced-sodium ready-to-use beef broth
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lamb: Trim off all but a thin layer of fat from meat on lamb racks. Season lamb with salt and pepper. In a sauté pan or skillet, heat oil over high heat. Sear lamb, one rack at a time, on all sides for about 5 minutes total or until nicely browned. Transfer lamb to a platter and let cool. Do not wash pan.

Crust: In a small bowl, mix together pistachios, bread crumbs, parsley, salt, and pepper. When lamb is cool enough to handle, brush mustard on lamb and coat with crust mixture, pressing firmly to adhere.

Place lamb, bone side down, on baking sheet and roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and insert an instant-read thermometer into one end of the meatiest part, not touching the bone. If it registers 125° or more, remove immediately. If it reads less, put lamb back into oven and continue roasting for 5 minutes or until temperature reaches 125°. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand for 10 minutes.

Spiced Zinfandel Sauce: While lamb is resting, make sauce. In the pan that you seared the lamb in, pour off all the fat. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until softened. Add allspice and cinnamon and sauté for 1 minute more. Add wine and boil, stirring and scraping, for about 5 minutes or until most of the wine has evaporated.

Add stock and continue to boil for 3-4 minutes or until about ½ cup of liquid remains. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, 1 Tablespoon at a time. Add balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Separate the ribs by cutting down straight through them. Spoon sauce on warmed plates and lay chops over sauce.

Serves 4-6.

April 21, 2011

Baked Burgundy Ham

According to David Feldman’s book, Imponderables, the ritual of eating ham around Easter time predates Christianity. Ham was the main ingredient of all springtime feasts for a very simple reason: fresh meats were not available at the beginning of spring, so pagans would bury fresh pork legs in the sand by the sea during the fall and winter. The pork was cured by the salt water, which preserved it until spring. For their special spring feast, the pork was cooked over a wood fire. (Clever, those pagans!)

This method of cooking a ham is traditionally the star of our Easter meal. Preparation needs to begin the day before you plan to serve it.


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April 20, 2011

Spring Lamb Loin with Rosemary

The strong, piney taste of rosemary goes well with lamb. It’s also one of those herbs, like oregano and marjoram, that you can dig up in the fall and move indoors for the winter. Then you’ll have it fresh in the spring, when lamb is at its best.

To grown rosemary indoors, pick a plant that’s not too big, say a foot or so high. Water it well, then dig out enough of the roots and soil to fill a 10- or 12-inch round pot; they like to be a little root bound, so better to have a pot that’s slightly small rather than too large. Water it again after positioning it snugly in the pot (you may beed to add a little potting soil) and transfer it to a sunny spot in the house. Don’t let it get too dry and be sure to bring it outdoors again in spring, because rosemary can’t really survive indoors year-round. (You can replant it in the ground or keep it going in a large pot.)


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April 19, 2011

Pear Upside-Down Chocolate Cake

And you thought pineapple was the only fruit that did headstands! Chocolate and pears team up here in a moist, rich, torte-like cake, whose satiny topping echoes the delicate flavor of the fruit.


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April 18, 2011

Maine Crabmeat Fondue

As many of us may know, the word “fondue” means “to melt” in French. This recipe is an appetizer superstar at parties where something rich, warm, and meltingly delicious made with local seafood is always a hit. I serve this dish with homemade crostini and keep it warm in a chafer. Also nice on a cracker.

Celebrate Spring with a party on your patio (first of the season!) for your friends. This warm crab “fondue” with take the chill off!

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Maine Crabmeat Deviled Eggs

Crab salad and deviled eggs are two great tastes on their own. What happens when you combine the two? A taste sensation!


Maine Crabmeat Deviled Eggs
adapted from

12 hard-cooked eggs
6 ounces Maine
½ cup
green onion, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon
finely chopped celery
1 Tablespoon
finely chopped green pepper
2 teaspoons
Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon
minced fresh parsley
½ teaspoon
1/8 teaspoon
3 dash
es hot pepper sauce
3 dash
es Worcestershire sauce
Additional minced fresh parsley

Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks; set whites aside. In a bowl, mash the yolks. Add the crab, mayonnaise, onion, celery, green pepper, mustard, parsley, salt, pepper, hot pepper sauce, and Worcestershire sauce; mix well.

Pipe or spoon into egg whites. Sprinkle with additional parsley. Refrigerate until serving.

Yields 2 dozen.

April 17, 2011

Spice-Trade Chicken Curry

The Maine table has been enlivened by the exotic spices of the Far East for a couple of centuries. Curries of various types, brought to New England coastal towns by English seamen, were a particular favorite. And they still are. I crave curries for their bright color as well as their powerful flavors. This one is sharp with spice, but mellowed and enriched by the coconut milk in the sauce.


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Green Bee All Natural Soda

One of our renewed commitments here at Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine has been taking care of our health. This includes regular exercise and conscious eating habits. Looking for good alternatives to soda, we serendipitously received a phone call followed by samples in the mail of Green Bee All Natural Soda called Lemon Sting. A four-pack later, and we are hooked.

green bee-soda-picture-188x300
Lemon Sting is handcrafted with carbonated water, Maine honey, natural lemon juice, and rosemary. That’s it. No sugar. No high fructose corn syrup. No junk. We have to say it is ultimately refreshing, light, and delicious!

Inventor and founder of Green Bee Soda, Christopher Kinkade, was thinking about the declining bee populations and the serious consequences of colony collapse disorder when he had an “Aha” moment. Why don’t more products use honey instead of sugar as a sweetener? Honey’s amazing health benefits include vitamins, antioxidants, and enzymes, making it a natural choice.

Handcrafted and bottled in Brunswick, Maine, Green Bee is the first soda company ever to exclusively source its sweeteners from local, sustainable resources. It can be purchased in local natural food stores, fine restaurants, leading supermarkets, and gourmet shops. Check Green Bee’s website for a listing of where to buy Green Bee near you. We are fortunate that Good Tern Natural Foods in Rockland carries it!

April 16, 2011

Lemon Poppy Seed Waffles

A myriad of waffle irons are available on the market, each producing a waffle of a different shape or size. There are thin waffles, thick Belgian-style waffles, round waffles, square waffles, even heart-shaped waffles. They all work well so choose the type and shape you like. When serving waffles, dust the top with powdered sugar, add a dollop of sweetened, whipped cream, and top with a garnish that will complement the flavoring of the waffles.


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April 15, 2011

Nested Eggs

The smell of the onions and garlic cooking slowly on the stove seems to get my guests up a bit earlier than usual. This hearty dish is good fortification for a day of hiking the Goat and Western Head trails in Acadia National Park.

egg nest

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April 14, 2011

Sautéed Tilapia with Lime Butter

Tilapia is a tropical freshwater fish with a mild flavor and white flesh. If you cannot find tilapia, you can substitute red snapper, orange roughy, or any white fish fillet. Simply prepared with a quick lime pan sauce, this is an easy dish to make for someone who is not a born fish-lover.

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April 13, 2011

Chilled Asparagus with Cherry Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

“Although asparagus is now available year-round, nothing says “spring” quite like this vegetable. Lightly cooked and paired with bright red tomatoes, it adds a cheerful note to the table.”—Eric Akis


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