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March 31, 2012

Spicy Mussels Diablo

Join Skinny Chef Jennifer Iserloh as she puts a healthy spin on an indulgent Spanish dish, Spicy Mussels Diablo.


Each week, Jennifer also posts a handy healthy cheat video if you’re in a time crunch. To see the video on how to make this tasty dish, click HERE

March 30, 2012

Greek Capellini with Shrimp, Tomatoes, and Mint

This fresh but filling pasta is full of flavor, with or without the shrimp. The aromatic mint leaves are ideal, but an equal amount of cilantro or flat-leaf (Italian) parsley will work.


Image courtesy of: Colin Erricson/

Greek Capellini with Shrimp, Tomatoes, and Mint
Excerpted from 5 Easy Steps to Healthy Cooking by Camilla V. Saulsbury © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

8 ounces multigrain or whole wheat capellini
(angel hair) pasta
2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1⁄4 cup pitted brine-cured black olives
(such as kalamata), chopped
2 Tablespoons drained capers
1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1⁄2 cup packed fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
1⁄4 cup crumbled feta cheese

In a large pot of boiling salted water (see tip, at left), cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1⁄3 cup pasta water.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shrimp; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes or until thickened. Stir in pasta, olives, capers, salt, pepper and the reserved pasta water; simmer, stirring, for 1 minute. Serve sprinkled with mint and cheese.

Tip: Make sure to use fine sea salt in the water you use to cook the pasta. Conventional table salt contains chemicals and additives, whereas sea salt contains an abundance of naturally occurring trace minerals.

Serves 4.

March 29, 2012

Spring Asian Vegetable Recipe

With spring in the air, change is in the wind at Arrows restaurant in Ogunquit, ME. James Beard Award winning chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier have just launched the Arrows revolution, a menu redesign and restaurant re-concept that includes a newly expanded Asian Vegetable garden. In honor of the changes, here is a recipe for Baby Bok Choy with Chives and Smoked Ham.


Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, chefs and co-owners of Arrows, MC Perkins Cove and Summer Winter (located inside the Burlington Marriott) Photo © Ron Manville.

“In the spring, we grow row upon row of bok choy in our greenhouse. Outside one of the first herbs to appear is chives, so the two ingredients combined are a natural for us. Bok choy are quite hearty and can be grown outdoors as soon as the ground has thawed. We recommend this side dish with our Grilled Rib-Eye Steak or Lemongrass and Lemon Roasted Chicken.” –chefs Mark and Clark

Baby Bok Choy with Chives and Smoked Ham
Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, Arrows restaurant, Ogunquit

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
6 heads baby bok choy, leaves pulled apart, washed and dried
½ cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons soy sauce
4 ounces Smithfield or other smoked ham, cut into 1 x ¼ inch matchsticks
1 bunch chives, cut into 1-inch lengths, about ½ cup

In a large sauté pan or wok, warm the oil over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, until barely golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Add the bok choy and sauté, stirring constantly, until the leaves start to wilt. Add the chicken stock, soy sauce, and ham and cook until the liquid is reduced by half.

Transfer the bok choy to a serving dish. Sprinkle with the chives and serve at once.

Serves 6.

March 28, 2012


Mom was first introduced to this dessert, named after the Russian ballerina, by friends in Australia. It has been a family favorite for years and has been served on many a birthday by request. While the instructions appear long, it is not difficult to make and can be made in stages. If you don’t have the time or energy to make the sauce, don’t worry – it is just as good without it! —Lee Clayton Roper

A Well-Seasoned Kitchen: Classic Recipes for Contemporary Living by Sally Clayton and Lee Clayton Roper




1 cup sugar, divided
1½ teaspoons cornstarch
4 egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1½ teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups whipping cream
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup vanilla flavored brandy or Grand Marnier
¼ teaspoon vanilla
Mixture of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, sliced strawberries and peeled, sliced kiwi

Sauce (optional)

1 Tablespoon cornstarch
½ cup sugar
Dash salt
½ cup water
3 teaspoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 package (10 ounce) frozen unsweetened raspberries (if sweetened, reduce amount of sugar)

To make the meringue

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and draw a 10-inch circle in the middle.

In a small bowl, mix together 1 Tablespoon of the sugar and the cornstarch and set aside.

With an electric mixer on high, beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar together until just frothy. With the machine running, start adding the remaining sugar to the egg white mixture, 1 Tablespoon at a time. Next add the sugar-cornstarch mixture, then the vinegar and vanilla. Beat until the mixture is glossy and forms stiff peaks. Try not to over beat, as the meringue doesn’t come out right if the mixture gets dry.

Using a spatula, spread the meringue mixture within the circle on your parchment, stopping 1-inch inside the border. Spread it slightly higher around the edges than in the middle. Place in the preheated oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 250°. Bake for 1 hour, or until lightly browned and dry on the surface. Remove the meringue from the oven – don’t be worried if it cracks. Cool completely. Wrap airtight with plastic wrap and store at room temperature until ready to use (up to 24 hours).

To make the topping and assemble

With an electric mixer, beat the whipping cream, sugar, liquor, and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Just before serving, spread the whipped cream mixture over the meringue, covering it completely (you may have some left over). Spread the fruit over the top in a decorative pattern. Spoon a small amount of the sauce on the side of each serving if desired (not too much – it is very sweet).

To make the sauce

In a medium saucepan, stir together the cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Whisk in the water, lemon juice, and vanilla. Add the berries and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sauce thickens and turns clear (this is when the sugar and cornstarch have dissolved). With an immersion blender, purée the mixture. Put it in a fine mesh strainer set over a medium mixing bowl, and using a wooden spoon, push the mixture through the strainer to remove the seeds. Cool, then place in a glass jar with a fitted lid and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Make ahead: The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. The meringue can be made up to 24 hours in advance, wrapped airtight, and stored at room temperature. The whipping cream can be made earlier in the day and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Whip it slightly more than you would normally.

Serves 8.

March 27, 2012

Carrot Soup: Cleaning out the Root Cellar

If you like to store a “winter keeper” carrot, as so many gardeners do, this recipe for a sunny carrot soup is a great way to clean up last season’s vegetables and prepare for the new season. This recipe remains vegan without the crème fraîche dollop, but is equally good both ways.


image: Continue reading “Carrot Soup: Cleaning out the Root Cellar” »

March 26, 2012

Chicken with Tarragon and White Wine

Giada De Laurentiis’ new cookbook, Weeknights with Giada, comes out tomorrow and we have an interview with Giada and an exclusive recipe from her book for Chicken with Tarragon and White Wine.

The Italian-born chef gives an even deeper look into her home, sharing cooking tips and easy-to-replicate dishes that take the grunt work—and guesswork—out of surviving Monday-to-Friday mayhem.

Check out the interview and recipe here:


Photos copyright © 2012 by Amy Neunsinger.

March 25, 2012

Veggie Tacos

A handy recipe for a Meatless Monday meal from Simply Recipes. The veggies can vary, according to the season and/or what your local co-op or grocery store has in stock. The combinations and flavors are endless, and they’re good for you too! Remember to heat and soften your tortillas if using packaged ones. The Mexican cotija cheese is mandatory for maximum flavor!

Click on the image below to get this recipe.

Recipe and image by Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes blog

March 24, 2012

Light and Easy Banana Cake

Debbie Peck, of the Ciao from Debbie blog, found she had some overripe bananas in her kitchen. So what did she do? Debbie made a Banana Cake, of course. This recipe was adapted from the one in her cookbook, O Taste See Some More!, to make it a bit simpler to follow.

Click on the image below to get this recipe.

Recipe and image by Debbie Peck of Ciao from Debbie blog

March 23, 2012

Crockpot French Onion Soup

Toast some French bread and top with your favorite cheese; broil this and float it on top of each serving of soup. Or, for the classic look of cheese sealed onto the bowls, spoon the soup into six ovenproof bowls and top each with a toasted slice of French or sourdough bread. Divide 2 cups shredded cheese over toasted bread in each bowl. Place the filled bowls on a cookie sheet and bake in 400° oven for 10 to 15 minutes until cheese is melted and starts to brown. Be careful when eating this – the whole thing is going to be very hot!

Crockpot French Onion Soup
Linda Larsen,

3 large onions, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
4 (14 ounce) cans ready to serve beef broth

In 3-4 quart crockpot, combine onions, melted butter, olive oil, and sugar. Cover crockpot and cook onions on high heat for 30-40 minutes or until onions begin to brown around the edges. Stir thoroughly.

Sprinkle flour, salt, and pepper over the onions; mix well. Let cook for 15 minutes longer on high. Then add thyme, bay leaf, and beef broth and stir again. Cover crockpot and cook on low for 7-9 hours until onions are tender. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Yields 8 servings.

March 22, 2012

Salmon with Crumb Topping and Herb Mayonnaise

Mom and I have both been serving this salmon at dinner parties for years. It is very easy as all the prep work can be done the day before. Without fail, every time we serve it, someone asks for the recipe. Sure enough, a couple of months later we are at someone else’s dinner party eating this salmon! – Lee Clayton Roper


Salmon with Crumb Topping and Herb Mayonnaise
A Well-Seasoned Kitchen: Classic Recipes for Contemporary Living
By Sally Clayton and Lee Clayton Roper

Herb Mayonnaise

1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup mayonnaise


1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or more to taste)
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 to 2 1/4 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 1/2 pound salmon fillet (in one piece)

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a shallow baking pan large enough to hold the fish.

To make the herb mayonnaise: in a medium mixing bowl, stir together the parsley, cilantro, onions, vinegar, garlic, oregano, and peppers. Stir in mayonnaise. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the crumb topping for the salmon: place the parsley, Parmesan cheese, thyme, lemon zest, salt and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped and mixed together. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and mix in breadcrumbs (we like to do this by hand).

Place the salmon skin side down in the prepared pan. Pat the breadcrumb mixture over the top. Drizzle the melted butter evenly over the bread crumbs. Bake fish until desired doneness, around 20 minutes. Serve with mayonnaise mixture on the side.

Make ahead: The mayonnaise and crumb mixture can be made the day before, covered and refrigerated. Bring both to room temperature before using.

Serves 6-8.

March 21, 2012

Chicken with Cherry Tomato and Avocado Salsa

A simple cherry tomato and avocado salsa is served with chicken that’s been quickly seared to tender perfection. Enjoy the free time that follows.


Chicken with Cherry Tomato and Avocado Salsa
Excerpted from 5 Easy Steps to Healthy Cooking by Camilla V. Saulsbury © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

1 small firm-ripe Hass avocado
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
1 ⁄4 cup chopped green onions
1 ⁄4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 Tablespoon minced seeded jalapeño pepper
1 ⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 ⁄4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

In a medium bowl, combine avocado, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, jalapeño, half the salt, and lime juice.

Sprinkle chicken with the remaining salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, turning once, for 5 to 6 minutes per side or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast registers 165°. Serve with avocado salsa.

Serves 4.

Tip: Any leftover salsa can be tucked into a whole wheat pita (perhaps with some spinach leaves or shredded lettuce) for a quick sandwich.

March 20, 2012

Vegetable Stuffed Meatloaf

At a recent neighborhood cocktail party where 3/4 of the gathering were self-proclaimed “foodies”, the conversation turned to what else, but FOOD! A woman from Louisiana who was a house guest of the hosts asked “Just what IS this meatloaf that you northerners talk about? Is it like Spam?” Rest assured, I set this lovely lady straight on meatloaf, which just happens to be one of my favorite comfort foods. (But have you heard the buzz that Spam is making a come-back in popularity?)

According to food historians, meatloaf first came on the scene in the late 19th century when meat grinders became a popular kitchen tool. A recipe for ground veal mixed with breadcrumbs and eggs and baked in individual molds is mentioned as early as 1884 in The Boston Cooking School Cookbook. The term “meatloaf” first appeared in the New York Times during the 1930’s and 1940’s when the economy forced homemakers to really stretch their food budget. The main ingredient was inexpensive hamburger combined with whatever leftovers (veggies) might be in the ‘fridge as well as the addition of some kind of grain-based filler such as oatmeal, bread crumbs or cracker crumbs. An egg was blended into the mixture as a binder to firm it up enough so that it could be sliced.

In a 2007 poll conducted by Good Housekeeping Magazine, meatloaf ranked #7 in the list of America’s favorite dishes. From roadside diners to upscale eateries to school cafeterias, meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans is the perfect comfort meal. (And don’t forget a cold meatloaf sandwich for lunch. I’ll have mine with ketchup and a slice of raw onion. Yum!)

This recipe is my favorite meatloaf – it’s stuffed with spinach and roasted red bell peppers.


Vegetable Stuffed Meatloaf
Paula Anderson

1 large red bell pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided use
1 bag (6-ounce) fresh baby spinach, washed and spun dry
2 cups chopped onions
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from French bread
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
6 Tablespoons ketchup
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
1 pound lean ground beef
About a 2-1/2 inch thick slice of bulk hot sausage (like Jimmy Dean™ brand)

Char red bell pepper over gas flame or boiler until blackened on all sides. Place pepper in a paper bag and let stand 10 minutes to steam. Peel, seed and slice pepper into 1/2-inch wide strips.

Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach and toss just until wilted. Remove spinach from skillet and place in a small bowl. Add remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil to skillet and sauté onions and garlic until tender.

Transfer onion mixture to a large bowl and add breadcrumbs, eggs, basil, ketchup, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix in ground veal, pork, beef, and sausage.

Place half of meat mixture in a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan.  Using the back of a spoon, make a 1-inch wide by 1/2-inch deep trough lengthwise down the middle of the loaf. Lay half of the roasted red bell pepper strips in trough and then layer with spinach and remaining pepper strips. Top with remaining meat mixture, pressing down firmly.

Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 1 hour 30 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 160°. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing.

Yields 6-8 servings.

March 19, 2012

Sweet and Sour Cod Kabobs

Here is one delicious recipe to help you get your recommended 2 servings of fish every week. With this great weather we are having, it is time to get outdoors, fire up the grill, and make these Sweet and Sour Maine Cod Kabobs!

image courtesy of

Sweet and Sour Maine Cod Kabobs

1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound cod fillets, cut into bite-size pieces
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 small purple onion, cut into 1 inch pieces

Combine lime juice, brown sugar, and crushed red pepper flakes in small bowl; set aside.

Thread cod, red bell pepper, pineapple, and onion onto 6 8-inch skewers and place in shallow baking dish.

Drizzle with lime juice mixture. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

Coat grill rack with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat grill to medium-high (350° to 400°). Grill skewers, covered, 5 to 7 minutes per side, turning occasionally or until fish flakes evenly with a fork.

Serves 4.

March 18, 2012

Reuben Soup

This is a terrific soup recipe for those who have some leftover corned beef from their St. Patrick’s Day meals. In Kevin Lynch’s recipe (Closet Cooking blog), this hearty soup has all of the flavors of a reuben sandwich served French onion soup style, topped with dark rye and melted swiss. Prep time is 10 minutes and a cook time of 35 minutes.

Click on the image below to get this recipe.

Reuben Soup 500 8764
Recipe and image courtesy of the Closet Cooking blog

March 17, 2012

Smothered Sherry Chicken

An quick ‘n’ easy recipe from My Gourmet Connection that’s perfect for a weeknight meal or casual dinner party.

Click on the image below to get this recipe.


Recipe and image from My Gourmet Connection

March 16, 2012

St. Patrick’s Day Recipes

‘Tis the day for everyone to celebrate all things Irish, and there is no better place to begin than in the kitchen. The following recipes for mini shepherd’s pies and Guinness cupcakes will have you in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day in no time. Erin Go Bragh!

Click on the image below for a link to some great St. Patrick’s Day recipes!

Image and recipes courtesy of

March 15, 2012

Black Treacle Scones

This is a very old recipe. Serve these flavorful scones warm with butter. They may be a little heavy but you can lighten them up by using an egg in place of some of the milk if you like.


Black Treacle Scones

3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup butter
2 Tablespoons molasses
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425°. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cream of tarter, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. Cut in butter with a fork or pastry blender. Combine milk and molasses in a small bowl; stir into flour mixture until moistened.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Roll dough out into a 1/2 inch thick round. Cut out circles with a medium biscuit cutter and place pieces on prepared baking sheet so that they are barely touching.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Move to a wire rack to cool slightly before serving. For soft scones, cover with a dry cloth for 10 minutes. For crisp scones, do not cover.

Yields 15 scones.

March 14, 2012

Orange Apple Green Juice

With St. Patrick’s Day just days away, it’s time to start thinking about what you will be drinking for this fun green holiday. There is no need to sacrifice your diet in the name of green. This year celebrate St. Patrick’s day in a healthy and delicious way. No food coloring is necessary to make this drink festive. This juice recipe is packed with natural ingredients and essential nutrients to help keep you energized and healthy. This green beverage is so delicious that you will wonder why you spent so many years drinking beer and cocktails infused with artificial colors and sweeteners.

Juicing is a great way to take in valuable nutrients without having your body word hard to break down the fibers. Through juicing, the food value is readily available to your body in larger quantities then when you eat the fruit whole. The benefits of consuming juiced fruits and veggies include keeping your heart, liver, and kidneys strong and healthy. Plus, juicing has been shown to provide significant health benefits to cancer patients.

Orange Apple Green Juice

2 stalks celery
1/2 cucumber
1 apple
2 oranges
3 big handfuls of sunflower sprouts
1 big handful of broccoli sprouts
3 leaves of kale
1 handful of spinach
1 handful dandelion greens
1 handful cilantro
1 handful beet greens
2 baby bok choy
Juice of 1 lemon
1 inch of grated ginger

Blend all ingredients together in juicer and enjoy the healthy benefits!

March 13, 2012

Parmesan Egg & Garlic Crostini with Baby Romaine Salad and Bacon Vinaigrette

Culinary artist Antonia Lofaso – Top Chef contestant, private chef to a few lucky A-list celebs and cuisine consultant at the new Studio City restaurant and bar Black Market – knows a thing or two about whipping up a good meal.

The French Culinary Institute alum dishes out a savory recipe for a light and scrumptious meal perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner: toasted garlic crostini topped with a fried egg drizzled in a rich Parmesan cream sauce, and a mouth-watering romaine salad with homemade bacon vinaigrette.


Sounds divine, right? We tested out the easy-to-follow recipe at home.

Parmesan Egg & Garlic Crostini with Baby Romaine Salad and Bacon Vinaigrette

Bacon Vinaigrette & Romaine Salad:
1 pound bacon, sliced into ¼-inch cubes
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons honey
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups baby romaine lettuce
1 Fuji apple – peeled, cored and thinly sliced

Parmesan Cream
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese

Garlic Crostini
1 demi-baguette, sliced ¼-inch thick
Salt and pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, halved
6 eggs
1 Tablespoon almonds, crushed or sliced
½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the bacon on a paper towel-lined plate and reserve the fat.

Make the vinaigrette – Whisk the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and honey together in a mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle in the bacon fat and olive oil while whisking rapidly until the salad dressing is thick and creamy.

Toss the baby romaine, apples, cherry tomatoes and bacon crisps with the vinaigrette.

Make the Parmesan cream – Heat the milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until bubbles form at the edges. Reduce the temperature to low and stir constantly until the cream coats the back of a metal spoon.

Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Make the crostini – Lay bread slices on a foil-lined baking pan. Brush each baguette slice with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Toast the bread slices and rub each slice with the garlic.

Cook the egg – In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Crack eggs in pan and cook to desired firmness.

Assemble – Layer an egg, Parmesan cream, crushed or sliced almonds on a toasted baguette slice. Garnish salad and crostini with tomatoes and serve.

March 12, 2012

Belfast’s Lost Kitchen

Floral decor, fabulous cheeses, great food, cocktails and service at the Lost Kitchen, Belfast.

Sustainable, seasonal, and creative. These three words embody my dining experience at Belfast’s Lost Kitchen. It’s my kind of place: small, beautiful, and humming like a hive of bees that get along and have a plan. A commonality of purpose seems to suffuse the place along with a painterly touch evident in the flower arrangements as much as in the plating and pairing of the food. The wine list is concise and well-chosen. Cocktails looked great, with some of the herbal elixirs now trending in evidence on other dining tables.

The food is “of the moment”, utterly fresh and thoughtfully prepared. Mussels with rosemary? I wasn’t sure…but it really worked. Oranges with watercress, dates and mascarpone cheese? Why not, it was delicious. The young chef, Erin French, has instincts at work worth trusting. Her husband, Todd, is a boat builder and the fine floors and shiny wooden table tops spoke to his craft. The Lost Kitchen began as a sort of mysterious “pop up” supper club with a cult following, but now is at home as a bar and upscale dining in the beautiful Gothic building. And they are packing the house.

The menu is small, which I rather like, since there can be stressful moments when deciding on a larger menu. But small though it was, I still couldn’t fit in everything that I wanted to try, such as a cheese course. They feature Hahn’s End and Lakin’s cheeses which you can combine on a plate as a single, double, triple, or quad. Local honey, preserves, and the popular “Tinder Hearth” bread is presented along with the cheese.

I was thrilled to see a winter watermelon radish paired with “a taste of winter carrots” doused in garlicky bagna cauda , or a “hot bath” offered as an appetizer. Salads were gorgeous, ample, and perfectly dressed. My dining companion and I shared mussels as a first course, and they could not have been better. Offered too were Maine shrimp crudo, or shrimp in the shell sautéed with chili and lemon, local rock crab claws.

A nice looking Caldwell farm cheeseburger, duck, chicken under a brick, and Scottish salmon were among the main dishes that evening. The main dish portions were really generous and could stand alone, as they were offered with a starch and vegetable. No need to order all sorts of sides, which I really appreciate in today’s world. Prices should be sustainable for the dining public as well, right?

Desserts were nicely done, if on the homey side. Given the choice, I’ll take the cheese! I am absolutely going back for more of Erin’s sublime and intelligent cooking.


This Italian dip evolved from the Piedmontese peasants need to eat something hearty during their long day of vineyard work. Essentially, it is intended as a dip for raw or cooked vegetables and is made of olive oil slowly infused with ample amounts of garlic and anchovy. Some recipes use butter and cream, but I will offer you a very simple and satisfying recipe.

1/2 cup good quality olive oil
10 cloves garlic, chopped
4 ounces of anchovy filets, drained
A few chili flakes, optional
A sprinkle of finely chopped parsley at the end

Combine all in a heavy pot and cook it “low and slow” until the garlicky goodness infuses the oil and the anchovies dissolve. Place it in a small bowl and surround by interesting winter vegetables such as endives, travisio, celery, carrots, radish, and crusty bread.