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January 30, 2012

Hot and Sour Soup with Maine Lobster Dumplings

Looking for a special way to feature Maine Lobster at your next meal? Look no further than this amazing recipe for hot and sour soup!

Maine Lobsters image © 2010 by Jim Bazin

Hot and Sour Soup with Maine Lobster Dumplings
recipe by Chef Tom Gutow, courtesy of Maine Lobster Promotion Council

Hot and Sour Soup:
2 inches ginger, peeled and chopped
3 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 Tablespoons oil
1 cup dashi (bonito flake broth)
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup Maine Lobster stock
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
3/4 cup mirin
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
2 ounces hot chili oil
1 cup sake
6 scallion greens
For garnish, bias cut scallion greens, plus toasted black and white sesame seeds

Maine Lobster Dumpling Filling:
1/3 pound scallops
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Zest and juice of one lemon
2/3 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons sweet butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 pound Maine Lobster meat, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup sliced chives or scallions
2 Tablespoons ginger, minced finely
1 clove garlic, minced finely
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 package wonton skins
1 egg, lightly beaten

To prepare Hot and Sour Soup:
In a large saucepot, sweat the ginger and shallots in the oil until well heated and the shallots begin to soften. Deglaze the pan with the dashi, Maine Lobster stock, and vegetable stock. Add the rice wine vinegar, mirin, the sesame oil, and the chili oil. Bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer slowly for 20 minutes. At this point, check the sweet, sour, and spicy elements of the broth. If necessary, add more of the vinegar, mirin, or chili oil. Remember, balance is the goal. If ingredients are added, allow broth to simmer five more minutes to properly incorporate the flavors. Add the sake and the scallions and continue simmering for 10 minutes or until the raw taste of the sake disappears. Strain this broth through a fine strainer such as a chinois and set aside.

To prepare the Dumplings:
Place scallops, salt, pepper, and lemon zest and juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse these ingredients together a few times. With machine running, slowly add the olive oil and continue processing until the mixture is smooth. Add the butter and process until smooth again. Remove the mixture from the food processor and fold in the remaining ingredients.

To assemble the dumplings, lay out several of the wonton wrappers on a flat surface and brush the edges with the beaten egg mixture. Place a small amount of the Maine Lobster/scallop filling in the middle of each wonton wrapper and fold the wrapper over the filling and carefully seal the edges of the dumpling.

To assemble the soup:
Preheat 8 soup plates. Cook the dumplings in a pot of boiling water for 4 minutes, drain, and place 3 – 5 dumplings in each bowl. Ladle the soup into the bowls and garnish each with toasted sesame seeds and the scallions.

Serves 8.

January 29, 2012

Salad: The Wedge

Forget iceberg; the traditional Wedge salad is better with Romaine lettuce and a healthier ranch-style dressing.


The Wedge
recipe and image courtesy of

2 heart of romaine, quartered lengthwise and cores removed
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, (recipe follows)

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons champagne, or white-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, tarragon, basil, or dill

Whisk buttermilk, mayonnaise, champagne (or white-wine) vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl until smooth. Stir in herbs.

Yields 1 cup dressing. Salad recipe serves 4.

January 28, 2012

Steamed Eggs with Vinegar and Herbs

Try this healthy version of a Sunday brunch meal. Satisfying, full of great taste, and light on the waistline.

Steamed Eggs with Vinegar and Herbs


Cooking spray
8 eggs
2-4 sprigs fresh marjoram, oregano, or any other herb
4 whole wheat English muffins, sliced and toasted
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray eight ramekins with cooking spray. Break one egg into each ramekin.

Place the dishes in an oven-safe lasagna pan. Fill the pan with boiling water until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover tightly with foil and bake in the oven for 4 minutes, until the egg whites are firm and the yolks are creamy.

While the eggs cook, roughly chop the herbs. Remove the eggs from the ramekins by easing them out with the tip of a knife. Place each egg on an English muffin half and lightly press the eggs into the muffins with a fork. Sprinkle with vinegar, chopped herbs, and salt and pepper.

Serves 4.

January 27, 2012

Savory Sea Scallops and Angel Hair Pasta

This is a very simple, easy to prepare meal that you will most likely be asked to prepare again and again. The taste, if carefully prepared and not overcooked, is incredible. ENJOY!


Savory Sea Scallops and Angel Hair Pasta

1 (16 ounce) package angel hair pasta
¼ cup butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup heavy cream (optional)
1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese to taste (optional)

Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the angel hair pasta, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant and softened, about 1 minute. Slice any scallops over ¾-inch thick in half so they’ll cook evenly; stir scallops, basil, and parsley into the skillet. Cook and gently stir just until scallops feel slightly firm when pressed with a finger, 2 to 3 minutes.

Scallops will become tough and chewy if overcooked. Stir in lemon juice, and season with salt and black pepper. Pour in cream if you like a thicker sauce. Bring the mixture just to a bare simmer.

Serve over hot angel hair pasta; sprinkle to taste with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6.

January 26, 2012

Healthy Sausage Lasagna

Only a small amount of turkey sausage was needed to give big meat flavor to this lasagna. We kept a thick fluffy cheese layer by combining part-skim ricotta with low-fat cottage cheese and a lesser amount of part-skim mozzarella cheese. Fresh basil in the sauce and cheese filling keeps this tasting light and fresh.


Healthy Sausage Lasagna
image and recipe courtesy of

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
¼ cup dry red wine
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus 2 whole sprigs
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) container 1 percent low-fat cottage cheese
1 (15-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 scallions, chopped
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 ounces lean sweet Italian-style turkey sausage, casings removed
½ cup finely chopped onion
9 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles, 5½-ounces, (recommended: Barilla)
1½ cups part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese, 6 ounces

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small pot bring the tomatoes, wine, whole basil sprigs, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, to taste, to a simmer; cook until slightly thickened, 10 minutes; set aside.

Meanwhile, purée the cottage cheese in the bowl of a food processor until smooth. Add the ricotta, spinach, ¼ cup chopped basil, scallions, nutmeg, and salt and pepper and pulse until just combined; set aside.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray set over medium heat. Cook the sausage and onion, breaking it up with a wooden spoon into small pieces, until the meat is browned and the onion tender, 10 minutes.

Assemble the lasagna: Mist a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spread ½ cup tomato sauce on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with 3 noodles, half the ricotta mixture, half the sausage and ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers with sauce, noodles, remaining ricotta and sausage and ½ cup mozzarella cheese. Top with remaining noodles and sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the noodles are tender and the sauce is bubbling around the edges of the pan, 1 hour.

Uncover, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and continue to bake until melted, 10 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup basil. Serve.

Yields 8 servings.

January 25, 2012

Roasted Maine Shrimp

This is a super-easy, super-tasty way to serve up Maine shrimp, which are now at the height of their season!

image: Jim Bazin

Roasted Maine Shrimp

1 pound Maine shrimp
Sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 500°. (Yes, it will take a while.) Remove heads if any, and peel. Layer shrimp (one layer only) on a baking sheet (or two as needed).

Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Roast 1½ minutes at 500°. Serve immediately.

Serves 2-3.

January 24, 2012

Fore Street Chef Sam Hayward: Pan Roast of Fish and Shellfish

At Fore Street, entrée choices change daily and with the seasons, as would be expected from a chef as well-regarded as Sam Hayward. This pan roast of fish and shellfish is another example of why he’s earned such praise.

Fore Street Chef Sam Hayward image:

Pan Roast of Fish and Shellfish
Brooke Dojny, Dishing Up Maine

5 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 leek, cleaned and thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 spring onion or medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¾ cup dry white wine
1 bouquet garni (see note)
2 cups fish stock or bottled clam juice
1 Maine lobster, 1½ pounds
1½ pounds assorted fillets of white-fleshed fish such as monkfish, whiting, wolf fish, skate, or hake (use at least 3 varieties), cut into large chunks
1 large ripe tomato, cored, seeded, and cut into large pieces
24 smallish littleneck clams, scrubbed
24 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
12 medium-sized scallops, tough muscle removed from side of each if necessary
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh chervil
2 Tablespoons stripped fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 2 Tablespoons of the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the carrot, leek, onion, and garlic and cook until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, raise the heat to high, and boil for 2 minutes. Add the bouquet garni and fish stock, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Place the lobster in the freezer for 10 minutes, if desired. Plunge a sharp knife into the top of the lobster’s head just behind the eyes and split the lobster in half lengthwise, through the tail. Twist off the tail pieces and claws. Remove the digestive tract from the tails and cut the tail halves in half crosswise. Crack the large claws. Put all the lobster pieces, including the body, into a large, deep ovenproof pot. (At Fore Street they use a cazuela—a Spanish pottery vessel—but a large enameled cast iron or other similar ovenproof casserole dish works fine.)

Arrange the fish, tomato, clams, mussels, and scallops over and around the lobster, sprinkle with the parsley, chervil, and thyme, drizzle with the remaining 3 Tablespoons olive oil, and season with the salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the broth and vegetables over the seafood and cover the baking dish.

Bake until the bivalves open, about 30 minutes. (Even if the clams are just cracked open, remove from the oven now so as not to overcook the rest of the seafood. You can wedge the clams open further if you like.)

Remove and discard the lobster body, the bouquet garni, and any unopened clams or mussels. Serve the pan roast directly from the cooking vessel.

Note: For the bouquet garni, tie together 4 parsley sprigs, 4 thyme branches, and 1 bay leaf with kitchen twine. To debeard mussels, pull out the dark threads that protrude from the shell. Do this just before cooking; mussels die when debearded.

Serves 6-8.

January 23, 2012

Michael Salmon’s Pistachio Pound Cake

I have made many different pound cakes over the years, but the flavor, color, and texture that the pistachios lend to this cake are incredible. Pound cake is terrific served with afternoon tea also. If you don’t eat nuts, the pistachios may be omitted from the recipe. Experiment with other nuts or other flavors like citrus, blueberries, or chopped dried fruits.


Pistachio Pound Cake
Michael Salmon, Hartsone Inn, Camden

1 cup, plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, soft
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cracked pistachios (plus 1 Tablespoon for the top)

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cream the sugar and butter together in a mixer until smooth.

Add the eggs and vanilla and mix in. Add the flour and ½ cup of pistachios and mix until incorporated.

Butter two small loaf pans (2½ cup size) and lightly coat with flour, tapping out the excess flour. Divide the batter between the two pans and sprinkle the tops with the remaining pistachios. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes. Transfer the loaves to cooling racks to cool.

Makes 2 small loaves.

January 22, 2012

Lobster Nachos

This New England recipe is a nod in congratulations to our own New England Patriots. Celebrate Superbowl XLVI  by serving up these Lobster Nachos, which make a decadent snack or appetizer that’s easy to prepare if you start with cooked lobster meat. Congrats, Pats!!


Lobster Nachos

1 13.5-ounce bag of white or red corn tortilla chips
4 Tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red onion, chopped
2 4-ounce cans baby shrimp, drained
8-14 ounces of cooked lobster meat
8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2-3 scallions, chopped
1 cup sour cream
1 16-ounce jar of salsa

Preheat oven to 350°.

Layer tortilla chips in a 13″ x 9″ x 2″ baking dish.

Blend cheeses. Sprinkle half of the cheese mixture and tomatoes over tortilla chips.

Melt butter in large frying pan over medium heat.

Add garlic and onion to pan and sauté until onions are tender, approximately two minutes.

Add shrimp and lobster meat and heat until warm, about three minutes.

Drain and layer warm seafood mixture on top of nachos.

Top with the remaining cheese and bake at 350° for about 15 minutes until cheese is melted.

Top with scallions and dollops of sour cream. Serve hot with salsa on the side.

Serving Suggestion: Wash these Lobster Nachos down with Shipyard Export Ale, which is brewed in Portland, Maine, and available throughout the U.S.

Serves 8.

January 21, 2012

Winter Supper Pork Chop Dish

This dish will warm you, heart and soul!
one dish pork chops with rice-Dec 26
Winter Supper Pork Chop Dish
adapted from

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 sliced onion
3 Tablespoons chopped green bell peppers
1 cup rice
2 teaspoons sugar
1 sliced tomato or 2 cups chopped stewed tomatoes
4 Browned pork chops
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oil in a skillet that can go into oven; add onion, green peppers, and rice. Sauté until rice is translucent.

Add sugar and tomatoes; blend.

Top with pork chops and then cheese. Bake, covered, in preheated 350° oven for about 1 hour. Uncover and carefully stir rice mixture after 50 minutes.

Serves 4.

January 20, 2012

Tres Leche Cake

Tomorrow is my birthday, Yup! Thirty nine again and this is the cake I am making for my big day. These are flavors I learned to love in Buenos Aires recently, and very traditional in South American and Mexican cultures. The three milks represented are heavy cream, evaporated milk, and condensed milk. Almost custard-like in texture, this cake is dense, moist, and delicious. I give mine a whipped cream topping.

If you’ve resolved to lose weight this new year, better stay clear of this recipe. It may even be a sin.

food pix 2379

Tres Leche Cake
Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro

1½ cup cake flour
1 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla
5 large eggs
1/2 cup milk

Cream syrup for soaking
Whipped cream topping

Combine cake flour, sugar, salt, and powder. In a separate bowl combine the oil and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Stir in the 1/2 cup milk, then fold in the flour mixture.

Pour the batter into a greased cake pan, (I use a square one), and bake at 325° for 30-40 minutes.

Let the cake cool to room temperature. Turn the cake out onto a deep platter and pierce with a fork a few dozen times so that the cake will accept the cream syrup. Meanwhile prepare the cream syrup.

Cream Syrup
12 ounces evaporated milk
14 ounces condensed milk
1/2 cup heavy cream

Whisk together the three milks. Slowly pour over the cooled cake. Spoon the runoff back over the cake.

Whipped topping
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon sugar

In a cold mixing bowl, beat the cream, vanilla, and sugar together until peaks form.

Spread thickly over the cake and serve at once. I like this with whatever berry is in season. And a sprint on the treadmill.

January 19, 2012

Chef Jeff Landry’s Beer-Braised Brisket

Hearty and packed with flavor, this recipe from Jeff Landry of The Farmer’s Table in Portland is one you’ll want to try! Jeff also includes directions for making this finished beer-braised brisket into a great breakfast hash.

image: Chef Jeff Landry in the kitchen

Jeff Landry’s Beer-Braised Brisket
The Farmer’s Table, Portland

1½ Tablespoons pickling spice
4 Tablespoons kosher salt
4 Tablespoons brown sugar
½ cup molasses
3 pounds beef brisket
1 12-ounce bottle medium ale beer
1 cup water, more as needed

In a bowl mix pickling spice, salt, sugar, and molasses. Put brisket in a covered pan just larger than the meat and add beer and water in equal amounts until the meat is just covered.

Simmer, covered, over low heat about 2 hours or until the meat falls away in shreds on your fork. Serve over braised or boiled cabbage as a main course.

For a breakfast hash, chop fine and add chopped, sautéed onion and small diced fried potatoes.

Serves 4-6.

January 18, 2012

Fettuccine with Shiitake Mushrooms and Basil

This fresh-tasting whole-wheat pasta recipe utilizes lemon zest, basil, and shiitake mushrooms, which accent each other beautifully. Whole-wheat pastas are higher in fiber than white pastas. They can be found in health-food stores and some large supermarkets.


Fettuccine with Shiitake Mushrooms & Basil
from Eating Well, Fall 2004

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (1½ cups)
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
2 Tablespoons lemon juice, juice
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine, or spaghetti
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, (1 ounce)
½ cup chopped fresh basil, divided

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil for cooking pasta.
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and increase heat to medium-high; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 9 to 11 minutes or according to package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup cooking liquid.

Add the pasta, the reserved cooking liquid, Parmesan, and ¼ cup basil to the mushrooms in the skillet; toss to coat well. Serve immediately, garnished with remaining basil.

Serves 4.

January 17, 2012

Maine Shrimp with Chipotle Chili and Pumpkin Seeds

Hulled, roasted, salted pumpkin seeds can be found in the natural foods or snack section of the grocery store. This is one where substituting pumpkin seeds that you pulled from your very own pumpkins will NOT work; the seeds need to be hulled. If you are unable to find them roasted and salted, you can toast the pumpkin seeds in a large skillet over medium-high heat until they puff up a little and turn a tiny bit brown. You will need to adjust the amount of salt in the recipe.

photo by Jim Bazin

Maine Shrimp with Chipotle Chili and Pumpkin Seeds
Anne Mahle, Rockland

1 pound whole, uncooked Maine shrimp
2 Tablespoons butter, divided in half
1 cup diced onions, about 1 small onion
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth or clam juice
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 to 1 chipotle chili en adobo, minced
1 cup hulled, roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt

Remove the heads from the shrimp and set aside. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and melt half the butter. Add the onions and cumin and sauté until the onions are translucent. Deglaze with white wine and add broth, heavy cream, and chipotle chili. Bring to a boil and reduce for 5 minutes.

Transfer the sauce to a blender and add pumpkin seeds. Pulse carefully and then blend until the sauce is smooth. Meanwhile, return the skillet to medium heat and melt the rest of the butter. Add the shrimp and salt and sauté until only a little gray remains. Using Maine shrimp, the time will be less than a minute. Return the sauce to the pan and bring to a simmer.

Immediately remove from heat and serve over rice or pasta.

Serves 4-6.

January 16, 2012

Parsley-Parmesan Biscuits

Good news for stews! Your basic biscuit is given a personality makeover and comes back to life as a mini bread with an attitude. By cutting the dough into squares, you do away with re-rolling the scraps and ending up with a batch that inevitably includes a couple of ugly-duckling specimens. Every good biscuit deserves to be eaten hot (to melt the butter you’ll slather on them), so if they’re not served straight out of the oven, reheat them in a toaster oven or microwave.

Parsley-Parmesan Biscuits
Karyl Bannister, Cook & Tell

2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon snipped fresh chives
1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Sift 2 cups of the flour, the baking powder, sugar, and salt into a medium bowl. Stir in the cheese. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or two knives. Add the parsley and chives. Add the milk all at once and mix with a fork until just combined. The dough will be very wet and soft.

Spread ¼ to ½ cup flour onto a work surface and turn out the dough. Flip it over to take up some flour on both sides. Gently pat the dough into an 8-inch square, ½ inch thick. Cut into 16 squares with a floured chef’s knife or a dough scraper. Place the biscuits about 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 18 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom and barely colored on top. Serve hot.

Makes 16 biscuits.

January 15, 2012

Broiled Oysters with Bacon and Herbs

“This dish works as a nice passed appetizer if using small oysters or as a first course with larger, plumper oysters. Two of our favorite food groups—tarragon and bacon—are included here! At Summer Winter, we’re lucky to have year-round access to this great herb thanks to the restaurant’s on-site green house, but fresh tarragon can be found at most local farmers’ markets and groceries. ” –Mark and Clark


Broiled Oysters with Bacon and Herbs
Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, Chefs of Arrows in Ogunquit, Maine; MC Perkins Cove and Summer Winter in Burlington, MA, and authors of Maine Classics

24 oysters on the half shell
6 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ Tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
½ Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the broiler. Arrange the opened oysters and their shells on a cookie sheet. Combine the bacon, breadcrumbs, butter, cheese, tarragon, and thyme in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the breadcrumbs mixture evenly over the oysters. Broil until golden brown and serve at once.

January 14, 2012

Cowboy Caviar

This easy and healthy recipe gives you a good dose of your daily citrus fruits which are so important, especially during these long winter months! And we are learning just how good avocado is for us as well. This tasty, good for you snack or appetizer is also great with grilled steak or chicken!


Cowboy Caviar
recipe adapted from Rio Star Cowboy Caviar by

2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1½ teaspoons salad oil
1 clove garlic, minced
⅛ teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 firm, ripe avocado cubed
1 can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 can corn kernels, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup sliced green onions
2/3 cup chopped cilantro
½ cup grapefruit sections, roughly chopped

In a large bowl mix grapefruit juice, hot sauce, oil, garlic, and pepper. Add remaining ingredients – gently fold to coat. Add 1 minced jalapeno for a kick of spice! Serve with chips.

Yields 4 servings.

January 13, 2012

Carrot and Zucchini Mini Muffins

We’re just now coming out of our holiday season food coma. So for our first kitchen session in 2012, we whipped up a healthy treat to start the year off on the right track. Giada De Laurentiis – culinary genius – blends together deliciously sweet veggies, raisins, and cinnamon for a calorie-conscious muffin recipe. Great for breakfast or a quick snack in between meals, these little muffins have big bite. And for those still seeking an extra dose of sweetness, spread on the soft cream cheese and honey frosting.

Carrot and Zucchini Mini Muffins by Giada De Laurentiis

1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup grape seed oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 large egg, room temperature
1/3 cup grated carrots (from 1 medium peeled carrot)
1/2 cup grated zucchini (from 1 medium unpeeled zucchini)
1/2 cup raisins

For the frosting (optional)
1 cup (about 8 ounces) whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 Tablespoons honey

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat to 350°. Line 24 mini muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sieve together the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add any solids leftover in the sieve to the bowl and mix in.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the oil, syrup, and egg. Add the dry ingredients and mix well until combined. Mix in the carrot, zucchini, and raisins.

Using 2 small spoons, fill the muffin cups 3/4 full with the batter and bake for 15 minutes until light golden. Cool for 5 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool, about 30 minutes.


Frosting: In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese and honey until smooth. Spread the cooled muffins with frosting and serve.


Makes 24 mini muffins.

January 12, 2012

Argentine Foodways

Let’s begin by defining “foodways.” Wikipedia defines this term as “the cultural, social, and economic practices relating to the production and consumption of food tied to larger social and economic factors.”


Immediately noted by me, an enthusiastic eater of regular meals, Argentina is a night culture and a café culture. Meals do not occur on an American schedule. The Argentine people eat four meals a day, which must be necessary for staying up half the night.

Their breakfast, or desayuno, is a light meal of coffee or mate, medialunas (pastry) and jam or dulce de leche, sometimes bread and cold cuts. Mate is worth a discussion. While everyone drinks it and it is traditional to do so, it seems to be considered a bit of a vice. Probably much like drinking coffee is here in the US. Less fortunate folk drink it to excess to stave off hunger, I was told, and it’s not uncommon to see working class people carting around their thermos of hot water along with their mate gourd (or calabazo) and straw (or bombilla). While it contains caffeine and is stimulating, it is also relaxing with a deeply vegetal flavor which is quite enjoyable.

Lunch, or almuerzo, features meat and vegetables or salad. In the larger cities I noted several vegetarian buffets, popular as lunch spots and incredibly good values. Perhaps a rebuttal to the famous Argentine beef, which is heavily favored in most meals, sometimes prepared in the Milanese style, or pounded and breaded.

After work it’s “tea time, which means time to linger forever in one of the ubiquitous street side cafés, over either tea or a “cafe solo” and lots of conversation. Maybe you prefer yours “con leche?” At this time tapas-like snacks or little panini are consumed with gusto. This is a good thing since dinner won’t be until 10 p.m. or later. My traveling companion and I got called “grandmothers” for wanting to eat by 8 or 9 pm. Hey, we’re not even mothers, just can’t sleep on a full stomach.

Returning to the cafés …many are associated with particular artistic or literary, political, or student groups and are important within the social context of the city. It’s nice to see people giving themselves permission to converse passionately and spend time together with nothing seeming to pressure them. I feel it’s time well spent.

The people in Buenos Aires love their snacks. I noticed the bakeries doing a booming business at all times of day selling delicious varieties of empanadas (think beef, chicken, seafood, Caprese, mushroom, pork….) and other savory snacks or cookies galore, like the Alfajore sandwich cookie. They ought to be illegal and are so good with their filling of dulce de leche or jam and chocolate coat. I saw more carbonated water being consumed that sodas, but the show stopper of any drink I had in the country was a fabulous “slushy” of heavily gingered lemonade. Completely refreshing, you can bet I will be making this at home this summer.

Cena, or dinner, is unfathomably late in the evening and is the largest meal of the day. Since Italians settled this place, it’s all reminding me of Rome. You can get Italian bitters like Frenet Branca anywhere after a meal. Even on your mini bar. Oh joy! I ate at some great steak joints and I can tell you that the beef is amazing, thick, juicy, delicious and all grass fed. Usually, a steak dinner is offered with salad choices, side vegetables, and lots of good red wine. I didn’t notice many desserts eaten in the evening.100_2620

If you want a traditional “asado,” or barbeque, you must go into the country where the cattlemen are…or befriend a traditionalist and hope for an invitation to a family affair. The religion is to cook over wood coals, never flame. A full compliment of meats (beef, lamb, sometimes goat, always sausage) will be roasting, often flayed open and whole. Grilled vegetables and many side salads will be offered up as well a Chimichurri sauce. Everything is mopped up with crusty bread, washed down with good red wine, and eaten off wooden plates. 100_3353


Back in the city, those out for the evening will continue drinking and dancing…tango is huge, though sadly not with the youth so much. But you’d better pace yourselves. Oh, and bring your sunglasses. The younger set strike out after 1 am. Things heat up by 3 am and, to our surprise, they’re still at it Sunday morning at 10 am, sunglasses on and piling out of the clubs and onto the sidewalks. Suddenly eating dinner late is making all the sense in the world!

I noticed salmon on most restaurant menus in Buenos Aires and, while on a side trip to Chile, I remembered why. We saw salmon and mussel farms everywhere while traveling through the fiords of Chile. They look innocent enough but the waters, once pristine, are suffering and the ecosystems are dying. Most of the world’s salmon is now coming from Chile and while tasty, it is good to remember the cost of farmed fish. I am happy to report that the wild trout are still plentiful and were biting for me! I caught an 18-inch beautiful brown trout, with sweet, pink salmon-like flesh.

Did I mention ice cream? It is done in the Italian gelato style and called helado. The ice cream of Argentina is very rich and wonderful and comes in very exotic flavors, Andean chocolate became my favorite (a mix of bitter chocolate, dulce de leche and Patagonian walnuts), but you can get rosehip too and a variety of other inventive flavors!


About visiting Argentina in December…it’s early summer there, the lupines, wild orchids, and Scotch broom are in full bloom, kids are getting out of school for summer vacation, and it’s Christmas! The farms are also producing wonderful vegetables, nuts and fruits, honey, hops and berries of all varieties, cherries, strawberries, gooseberries and calafate, the mystery berry of Argentina. It’s a type of dark berry from a barberry bush. It’s said if you eat these berries, you’ll return for another stay. I bought some jam which I’ve not tasted yet, but I will keep you posted! I fully intend to return to this beautiful place for further adventure in the Patagonia.100_2810100_2813100_2884

January 11, 2012

Carrot-Ginger Chicken and Rice

This recipe couldn’t be easier or more delicious! Great weeknight dinner for busy families.


Carrot-Ginger Chicken and Rice

1 cup basmati rice
1 cinnamon stick
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 2½-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small red onion, sliced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced into rounds
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
½ cup roughly chopped fresh mint and/or cilantro
1 cup whole-milk plain yogurt
¼ cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 450°. Put the rice, cinnamon, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a saucepan and cover with water by 1 inch. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then uncover and cook until the rice is just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain; reserve the cinnamon stick.

Pulse the ginger, coriander, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and 1 Tablespoon water in a mini food processor. Heat the vegetable oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the ginger mixture and carrots and cook 2 minutes, adding a splash of water if the mixture sticks. Stir in 1/3 cup water, the chicken, herbs and yogurt and heat through. Season with salt.

Top the chicken mixture with the rice and the reserved cinnamon stick; sprinkle with the almonds. Bake until the rice is cooked through and the almonds are lightly toasted, 8 to 12 minutes.

Serves 4.