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May 31, 2011

Coconut-Steamed Mussels

When I go to purchase fresh mussels, I always look for shells that are closed with a fresh “sea” aroma (not a fishy one). If the shells are open, it means the mussels are not fresh and are beginning to die. Soak the closed mussels in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes to allow them to purge any sand or grit that may be inside the shell. Gently scrub the shells to remove any debris from the outside and pull on the beard (stringy part protruding from the inside) to remove it and discard. The mussels are now ready to cook.

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May 30, 2011

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Butter

Corn really must be grilled on an outdoor grill, rather than on an indoor grill pan. Seasoning the kernels before grilling is key to getting the best tasting result.


Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Butter
Meredith Laurence, Blue Jean Chef: Comfortable in the Kitchen

4 corn on the cob, husks intact
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 Chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped (see note below)
½ teaspoon salt

Pre-heat the outdoor grill for at least 10-15 minutes.

Remove some of the husks of the corn, but leave a few layers on the cob. Pull those remaining layers back from the kernels and rub the silk off the kernels. Brush the kernels with olive oil, and season with salt. Pull the husks back over the kernels and wrap tightly.

Using a food processor, or just a fork, combine the butter and the Chipotle in adobo. Mix well to distribute the Chipotle throughout the butter. Add the salt and mix again.

Grill the corn in the husks for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating occasionally. The husks will become charred. Remove the corn and let it sit for a minute or two. Using a hand towel to protect yourself from the heat, peel back the husks and tear them off the cobs. If desired, place the corn back on the grill for a minute or two, just to get grill marks. Serve with a dollop of Chipotle butter.

Serves 4.

Note: A Chipotle pepper is a dried smoked Jalapeño pepper. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce can be found in the Mexican section of your grocery store. You can make the Chipotle butter ahead of time and keep it in your fridge or freezer. The best method is to roll the finished butter into a log in a piece of plastic wrap, and then freeze it. Pull the butter out of the freezer and let it defrost a little before serving. Slice off a piece and serve it on grilled vegetables, chicken, or fish.

Blue Cheese Burgers

No barbeque is complete without burgers! Try out this upgraded version of an American classic.


Blue Cheese Burgers

1 pound ground beef round
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
Handful fresh sage, finely chopped
6 ounces Castello-Rosenborg® Extra Creamy Danish Blue cheese
1 Tablespoon oil
Few salad leaves
4 sesame burger buns

Place the ground beef into a bowl, and then add the scallions, seasonings, and sage. Mix well together.

Divide into 4 equal portions and then divide each portion into two, giving 8 portions of meat. Flatten each out into a burger shape.

Place a slice of cheese on top of 4 of the burgers and top with the remaining 4, sealing with a little water. Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook over a moderate heat for approximately 3-4 minutes per side.

Serve with a little salad in a toasted bun topped with another half slice of cheese.

Makes 4  burgers.

May 28, 2011

Rhubarb Crisp

“This traditional family dessert is given a lift with the addition of orange juice and ginger. A scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream makes it even better.

You’ll need about 10 medium-sized stalks of fresh rhubarb to get the 10 cups required for this recipe. Cut it into slices about ¾ inch thick.”–Eric Akis


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May 27, 2011

Backyard Farms Barbeque Sauce

In looking toward the pastime of outdoor entertaining and enjoying fresh, grilled meals with family and friends, Backyard Farms has created the perfect recipe for a savory barbeque sauce that’s sure to please any palate. With their greenhouse located in Madison, Maine, Backyard Farms ships its tomatoes within just one day of harvest and are the only locally-grown tomatoes available year-round in New England. While other tomatoes make the trip to stores from as far away as Holland and Mexico, Backyard Farms tomatoes are allowed to stay on the vine longer and are picked at peak maturity. Enjoy this recipe as a marinade for pulled pork, the perfect topping for steaks and burgers, or your favorite barbeque dish!


Backyard Farms Barbeque Sauce
4 pounds fresh Backyard Farms tomatoes, peeled & chopped
1 cup chopped sweet onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup butter
1 cup chili sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

Combine all ingredients in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1½ to 2 hours or until desired thickness. Stir occasionally. Serve to your liking!

May 26, 2011

Roti Bread

Roti is a flat bread that is very simple and quick to make and resembles a flour tortilla. Roti came to the Caribbean from India and has become a local staple in many islands, especially Trinidad and Tobago. India’s influence in Caribbean cuisine is very apparent and curry dishes are a prime example. In Aruba, curried goat stew was very popular and roti is the perfect “utensil” for mopping up the sauce on your plate. Roti can also be filled with ingredients and rolled up to form a sandwich wrap.


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May 25, 2011

Grilled Oysters with Rhubarb-Ginger Compote

Time to fire up the grill again! Yay! Here is an amazing way to start using some of that wonderful rhubarb that is showing up now in gardens, farmers’ markets, and grocery stores everywhere. This compote is so delicious when paired with Maine oysters, the best around!


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May 24, 2011

Fresh Tomato, Caramelized Onion, and Brie Cheese Galette

This is probably one of my most requested recipes. The variations on this are limited only by your imagination. I sometimes add prosciutto, crisp cooked pancetta, or even capicola (a hot Italian ham), provolone, bleu cheese, goat cheese, nicoise, or kalamata olives, shrimp, crab….

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May 23, 2011

Preparing Fresh Horseradish

I’ll bet you’d be surprised how many of you have it growing around your homes, especially if you live in or around an old farmstead. Why, I am talking about horseradish, or course!

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May 22, 2011

Portland Quahog Chowder

Mainers traditionally preferred chowders made with soft-shell steamer clams. In fact, if they built a chowder made with hard-shell clams, they would specifically call it quahog chowder as a differentiation. However, the further south you got—especially from Portland on down to the state line—the more likely you’d be to encounter the Boston-style brew: lightly flour-thickened and made with chopped hard-shell clams. These days, steamers are in somewhat short supply and hard-shells are still widely available (and in particularly convenient form, given that you can now buy containers of pasteurized chopped quahogs in their liquor in most fish markets), and this chowder is now popular all around the state.


Portland Quahog Chowder
Brooke Dojny, Dishing Up Maine

4 ounces salt pork, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 large onion, chopped
¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 cups clam liquor, clam broth, bottled clam juice, or a combination (see Note)
3 cups whole or low-fat milk
4-5 cups diced all-purpose potatoes, such as Maine Superiors or Yukon golds (about 1½ pounds)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried
3 cups coarsely chopped hard-shell clams (see Note)
2 cups half-and-half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons butter

Cook the salt pork in a large soup pot over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the pork bits are crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove the pork bits with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels (refrigerate until ready to serve), leaving the drippings in the pan.

Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle on the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add the clam liquor and milk, whisking until smooth. Add the potatoes and dried thyme, if using, now. Simmer, uncovered, over medium to medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

Add the clams and fresh thyme now, if using, and stir in the half-and-half. Continue to simmer until the potatoes are very tender, 5-10 minutes longer. Season with the salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and let the chowder sit at cool room temperature for at least an hour or refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Before serving, add the butter and reheat gently. Ladle into bowls and pass the reserved pork bits, if desired.

Note: You can buy chopped fresh clams in their juice from a fish market or seafood section of the supermarket, and use the juice (”liquor”) for part of the chowder liquid. Or use 5 quarts scrubbed hard-shell clams and steam them in a small amount of water just until they are open, about 5 minutes. Then scrape out the clam meat and chop or cut it with scissors into cranberry-size pieces. Pour the cooking liquid into a glass measuring cup, let any sediment settle, and pour off the clean broth.

Yields about 3 quarts (6-8 main-course servings).

May 21, 2011

Kale Chips

This recipe makes enough healthy alternative kale “chips” for 4 sandwiches, or a bowl of TV snacks. Best eaten within 24 hours, stored in a plastic bag. Loaded with vitamins A, C, Calcium, and Iron, these chips are an easy to make, wholesome snack!


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May 19, 2011

Grilled Chicken with Roasted Fiddleheads and Sweet Vidalia Onion

Fiddleheads are a true spring delicacy in Maine. They are the unfurled tops of a certain type of fern that grows wild in the woods. Don’t overcook them or the will get mushy. If you can’t get fiddleheads, asparagus would be a nice substitute.


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May 18, 2011

Morel-Grilled Rib-Eye

No matter if your steak is Hereford, Angus, Highland, Wagyu, or anonymous: Slather on this grilling paste that also functions as a marinade. Dried morel mushrooms—or other dried wild mushrooms like porcini, available in the produce section of better grocery stores or online—can make a very savory addition to the spice cupboard. Simply grind them into a powder in a clean coffee grinder or blender, and then use them in delicious concoctions like this one. Slather this paste on a big, thick sirloin, on smaller filet mignons, or on pork tenderloin destined for the grill. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, then sear. This paste gives foods a deep, complex, beefy flavor.


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May 17, 2011

Dandelion Wine

“My first taste of dandelion wine came from a Maine cousin. Her husband was making some repairs to the cellar where her wine was stored. As each trip back up the stairs became a bit harder for him to negotiate, she said to me, ‘You’d better try the wine now, otherwise it might not survive the repairs!’

“I made my first batch of dandelion wine at my first sporting camp, Tea-Pond, in 1987. It came out fine, but it froze over the holidays when I left camp. Next time I made the wine I was at Penobscot Lake Lodge. I left the wine in the gas oven, where the pilot light made just enough warmth to keep it from freezing, and I had the wine for New Year’s. The taste is really delicious and better than any champagne.

Here at Long Lake Camps, my partner, Doug Clements, and I don’t have many dandelions (or the time, for that matter, with fourteen cabins), but we recently opened some wine from eight years ago, and much to our amazement, it was smooth, potent, and very, very good.” – Sandra Smith


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May 16, 2011

Garlicky Periwinkle with Chorizo Appetizer

An underused but delicious “fruit of the sea” around here is the lowly periwinkle, sometimes called “wrinkle.” Last night a friend of a fisherman showed up at my door with a large bag of these little beauties and said, “Hey, how do you cook these?” And I can tell you it is not hard.

The most difficult piece of the project is cleaning the lil’ buggers, which requires several changes of cold bath water and one last soak in heavily salted water and a scrub. After that I rinsed them again to be rid of the salt and prepared them in much the same way as a mussel. Wine, butter, garlic and lots of it as well as native bay leaves. A large heavy pot with a close fitting cover is key, as well as a fast flame, to “get a good cook on it” as a native friend of mine used to say!

Don’t be surprised if you find a few snails making a break for it. I soaked mine in the fridge and had to clean up the strays that jumped out of the bowl. (That might take some getting used to!) I added a seasonal fillip with a quick trip to the garden to fetch some green garlic stalks and voila! Dinner of the finest kind.

Not one to be rushed, it takes some time to pick the meat out of the shells. But when they emerge succulent and garlicky on the end of your lobster pick, you’ll find yourself settling down to the task and thinking “the world can wait.”

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May 15, 2011

Broccoli and Orange Soup

The sweet-tart of the citrus complements the broccoli in this light soup. You can save four orange segments and use to garnish the soup or serve with yogurt gremolata, if desired.


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May 14, 2011

Maine Fiddlehead Salad

This recipe comes to us courtesy of the Damariscotta Farmers’ Market. Fiddleheads, a Maine delicacy, are in season now for a very short window of time. Enjoy them in a variety of ways. Here’s one simple and delicious recipe for you to try.


Maine Fiddlehead Salad
Damariscotta Farmers’ Market

2 cups fiddleheads, cleaned, cooked, and cooled
½ cup roasted red pepper strips
½ cup julienned Roma tomatoes
5 ounces fresh chevre
½ cup julienned red onion
¼ – ½ cup balsamic vinaigrette

Toss all ingredients together and serve.

Makes 1 large or 2 small side salads.

May 13, 2011


Sometimes you get a calzone that is basically a pizza folded in half. I prefer these, with a nice cheesy ricotta and greens for the filling. You can serve it with some warm tomato sauce or store-bought spaghetti sauce on the side for dipping.

Eat Local Cover NBN

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May 12, 2011

Maine Lobster Escargot

Editor’s Note: Here is another wonderful cookbook I received for review, called Flavors of the Florida Keys by Linda Gassenheimer. This entry called Lobster Escargot intrigued me, as it called for Maine lobster, which we all know is king.

Book note: A&B Lobster House has a prime spot with stunning views overlooking the Key West Bight, a part of Key West Harbor. You can reach it by walking along the Harbor Walk. Founded in 1947 by two men whose last names were Alonzo and Berlin, it’s still getting accolades today. Chef Phil Heimer won best appetizer at the Master Chef Competition for his lobster escargot. I’ve adapted his recipe for home cooking.


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May 11, 2011

Asian-Style Shrimp with Jasmine Rice

It’s safe to cook the rice before the shrimp for this dish, as it takes about 25 minutes to cook and rest. Jasmine rice is very delicate. Don’t stir it too much once it’s cooked or it will break apart. Other helpful notes for this dish: Stirring the fish sauce into the cornstarch allows the sauce to thicken without lumps; always devein shrimp, unless using Maine shrimp, for which this process isn’t necessary.


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