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July 31, 2012

Olympic Recipes for Success

What do Olympians need for optimum performance?

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Quite often the same nutritional needs we all do, just often in greater quantities and more frequently. Read up on some recipes that Olympic contenders will find optimal for competition and overall good health. Click the link here for an amazing Olympic menu courtesy of CNN.

July 30, 2012

Five-Spice Tilapia for Two

Chinese five-spice powder, soy sauce, and brown sugar make a quick glaze for tilapia in this easy recipe for two.

MF7278
Five-Spice Tilapia for Two
delish.com

2  8-ounce tilapia fillets
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
2 Tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Sprinkle both sides of tilapia fillets with five-spice powder. Combine soy sauce and brown sugar in a small bowl.

Heat oil in a medium or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tilapia and cook until the outer edges are opaque, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, turn the fish over, stir the soy mixture, and pour into the pan.

Bring the sauce to a boil and cook until the fish is cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes more. Add scallions and remove from the heat. Serve the fish drizzled with the pan sauce.

Dinner for 2.

July 29, 2012

Raw Food: Mediterranean Broccoli Salad

The key to this mouthwatering broccoli salad lies in its tasty dressing, which is actually a blend of raw cashews, olive oil, and garlic. The sauce serves to infuse the salad with flavor, but it’s also delicious as a dipping sauce for veggies or a sour cream alternative on top of tostadas.

“This sauce is so simple, yet so versatile,” Stowers says. “One thing that will help a lot when adding more raw fresh greens [to your diet] is to find a dressing you really enjoy, one you are always happy to go back to when you are feeling the most uninspired.”—shape.com

broccoli-salad-420x400
Raw Food: Mediterranean Broccoli Salad
shape.com

For The Basic White Sauce:
2 cups raw cashews
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoon salt
3 small garlic cloves
2/3-1 cup water (for thicker, cheese-like spreads, use 2/3 cup; for a sauce consistency, use 1 cup)

For the salad:
4-6 cups broccoli florets, cut into small, bite-size pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 small jar pitted kalamata olives, sliced
The Basic White Sauce (use an amount you’re comfortable with)

Directions:
For The Basic White Sauce:
Blend all your ingredients in a high-speed blender.  Use more or less water until you reach your desired consistency. Once you store this sauce in the refrigerator, it will thicken. Simply add more water if you need to thin it out for recipes.

For the salad:
In a large bowl, coat your broccoli florets with The Basic White Sauce. Now add your diced yellow bell pepper and sliced kalamata olives. This salad is a beautiful meal when you put it on top of a bed of arugula, followed by a layer of julienned zucchini noodles, drizzle on a little olive oil, and garnish with some pine nuts and a few fresh sprigs of basil.

Makes 4 servings.

July 28, 2012

Poached Eggs in Portobello Mushroom Caps

Need a quick-fix meal that’s high in nutrition and low in calories? This egg and mushroom combo fits the bill—and you probably have all of the ingredients already.

poachedeggs
Photo by Benoît Levac

Poached Eggs in Portobello Mushroom Caps
readersdigest.ca

4 large portobello mushrooms, cleaned
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 300 gram package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup grated cheddar or Swiss cheese
4 eggs
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For mushrooms, carefully remove stems so as not to break the caps. Chop stems and reserve. With a small spoon, gently clean out and discard the gills from the mushroom caps. Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, thyme, and salt. Brush over both sides of mush­room caps and arrange rounded side up on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 400˚ oven for 10 minutes, until cooked through.

Meanwhile, for filling, heat remaining 1 Tablespoon oil in a skillet. Add garlic and onions and cook 5 minutes, or until ten­der but not brown. Add chopped mush­room stems and cook until liquid eva­po­rates and pan is dry. Add spinach, salt, and dill.

Turn mushrooms cup side up. Fill each with the mushroom/spinach mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 5 minutes.

Bring a skillet of water to a boil. Add vinegar. Crack in eggs. Poach gently 3 to 4 minutes until whites are set and yolks are a little runny. Remove eggs from water to a plate lined with paper towels or a tea towel. Trim away excess whites. Place eggs on mushrooms. Dust with pepper.

Serves 4.

July 27, 2012

Almost Homemade Meal: BBQ Skirt Steak with Warm Potato Salad

“Speed up dinner prep with recipes that mix wholesome eats with ready-made goods.

Some nights, you have all the time you need to whip up an entire homemade spread. Others…well, you’re lucky if the oven even gets turned on. But making dinner doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing affair. Instead, go the almost homemade route with the following recipe. Thanks to a few convenience foods — boxed, bottled, canned, or frozen — you can transform everything from pork to pasta into a fanciful meal in minutes.”—womensday.com

BBQ-Skirt-Steak-with-Warm-Potato-Salad-Recipe-lg
image: Caren Alpert

BBQ Skirt Steak with Warm Potato Salad
womensday.com

2 teaspoons oil
2 teaspoons dry rub barbecue seasoning (we used Weber)
One 12-ounce beef skirt steak, cut crosswise into 3 pieces
Warm potato salad
1 bag (12 ounce) microwave-in-bag frozen cut green beans (such as Birds Eye Steamfresh)
1 pound deli German potato salad
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Heat oil in large skillet over high heat. Rub barbecue seasoning on steak. Add steak; cook 5 to 6 minutes, turning once, for medium-rare. Let rest 2 minutes before slicing thinly against the grain.

Meanwhile, make Potato Salad: Steam green beans as package directs. Stir in purchased salad, red onion, vinegar, and cumin. Serve with steak.

Serves 4.

July 26, 2012

Callaloo

Callaloo. Where else but Beth’s Farm Market in Warren, I ask you?

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Beth has been using Jamaican help for so long that some Jamaican good cooking is filtering down.

Take Callaloo, for instance. Eaten all over the West Indies, it is actually amaranth, a “potherb”, meaning that it needs to be cooked to be enjoyed. It is quite similar to spinach and is very high in minerals, vitamins, and even offers up some protein. Left long enough, the plant will set seed, something like millet. The greens are best when young and need to be cleaned carefully. I don’t cook the biggest part of the stems, preferring the toothsome quality of the soft cooked leaves.

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If one was to research it, a recipe for cooking this tasty green would vary all over the Caribbean. But I learned to love it in Negril, Jamaica, way back when. At the time I was mentored by an Ital cook named “Dice”.

Ital cooking is practiced by Rastafarians. They are vegetarian, do not eat salt, nor cut any hair on their bodies. I really loved the food, though I need a bit of salt in most recipes. Typically, in Jamaican style, this cooking includes some hot peppers, tomato, and fresh thyme.

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Always ahead of the curve, my friends in Friendship, Maine, David Kapp and Cecily Kahn, have been singing the praises of Beth’s callaloo for some time. So I trundled down there last week and was indeed impressed by how young and fresh the bunches were. Ain’t life grand?

Callaloo
recipe and images by Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro

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1 large white onion, diced
1 large clove of garlic, smashed
¼ cup cooking oil
1 large tomato, diced with the juice saved
Fresh thyme, salt, and pepper to taste
2 bunches of callaloo from Beth’s Farm Market in Warren, cleaned and rinsed twice, then stemmed and chopped
1 hot pepper of choice (don’t use a Scotch Bonnet unless you are ready for some serious heat!) or
A big dash of hot sauce like Tabasco

In a medium sized pot, sauté the onion and garlic in oil until translucent.

Add the tomato and seasonings and cook a few minutes more.

Add the chopped callaloo leaves and a bit of water, the hot sauce or peppers, tossing them to start them wilting.

Cover the pot with a tight fitting cover and cook over a medium flame until the callaloo is soft.

Correct seasonings, mix well, and enjoy as a healthy side dish to most anything! Be sure to drink the rich broth. That’s where so many of the vitamins go!

July 25, 2012

Back Porch Lemonade

I receive a plethora of Maine cookbooks for review, most of which are absolutely delightful. Maine food and books are two of my favorite things in the world. A refreshing little breeze blew onto my desk with a recent pile of mail: Drinking In Maine by Michael Sanders. This recipe book, complete with mouth-watering complementary images by Russell French, is a roundup of the best libations from the state’s finest restaurants. Organized by seasons and featuring artisanal Maine products, this little gem of a book is a great Maine resource.—Melanie Hyatt

“A fresh take on summer’s all-time favorite drink, lemonade from our friends at Seagrass Bistro. For a non-alcoholic drink, just substitute seltzer for the vodka.”—from Drinking In Maine: 50 Cocktails, Concoctions, and Drinks From Our Best Artisinal Producers and Restaurants by Michael Sanders

Pint_BackPorchLemonda_Seagrass
image © Russell French

Back Porch Lemonade
recipe from Seagrass Bistro, Yarmouth

1½ ounces vodka
3 ounces lemon juice
Splash of cranberry juice
Splash of Maine Root Ginger Brew
1 ounce + ginger syrup
1 piece candied ginger
2-3 black peppercorns

In a pint glass, combine first 5 ingredients with ice, stir.

Adjust sweetness with more ginger syrup. Garnish with the peppercorns and candied ginger.

July 24, 2012

Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Quinoa and Citrus Vinaigrette

Sugar snap peas are packed with nutritious calcium, iron, and vitamin C. Paired with quinoa, a whole-grain powerhouse, and fresh citrus, this salad is both healthy and delicious.

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Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Quinoa and Citrus Vinaigrette
image by Vanessa Bush and recipe courtesy of kaboose.com

1 cup cooked quinoa (about 1/2 cup before cooking)
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons organic or raw honey
Juice from 1/2 medium-size lemon
Juice from 1/2 medium-size orange
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds
8 ounces sugar snap peas, rinsed and de-stringed
Segments from 1 medium-size orange, skin and pith removed

Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Fluff with a fork and let cool completely.

While quinoa cooks, make citrus vinaigrette: Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, honey, lemon juice, orange juice, salt, pepper, and sesame seeds in a small bowl; set aside.

Toss snap peas with quinoa and orange segments. Drizzle citrus vinaigrette over salad and serve.

Serves 6.

July 23, 2012

Salmon with Pepita-Lime Butter

Lime juice, chili powder, and pepitas give this salmon Mexican flair. Serve with wild rice and steamed vegetables.

MF6702
Salmon with Pepita-Lime Butter
from eatingwell.com

2 Tablespoons unsalted pepitas (see Tip)
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 pound salmon fillet, skinned (see Tip) and cut into 4 portions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Toast pepitas (see Tip below). Place in a small bowl with butter, lime zest, lime juice, and chili powder.

Generously coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper, add to the pan, and cook until browned and just cooked through in the center, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the salmon to a plate. Add the butter-lime mixture to the hot pan; stir until the butter is melted. Serve the salmon topped with the sauce.

Tips: Pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) can be found in the bulk-foods section of natural-foods stores or Mexican groceries.

Place a salmon fillet on a clean cutting board, skin side down. Starting at the tail end, slip the blade of a long, sharp knife between the fish flesh and the skin, holding the skin down firmly with your other hand. Gently push the blade along at a 30° angle, separating the fillet from the skin without cutting through either.

Place pepitas in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.

Serves 4.

July 22, 2012

Cool Cantaloupe Soup with Basil Cream

This refreshing summer soup is also very satisfying!
picrTOvOX
Cool Cantaloupe Soup with Basil Cream
food.com

1 cantaloupe, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
2 Tablespoons mint leaves, chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons fine sugar
1/2 cup packed basil leaves
3/4 cup sparkling white grape juice

Place the cantaloupe, lemon juice, and zest in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the mint and salt and pulse to combine. Transfer to a large bowl, cover, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Basil Cream: Place the cream and sugar in the bowl of food processor and process until slightly thickened. Add the basil and process until thick-about 20 seconds-and set aside.

Add the grape juice to the soup right before serving.

Divide evenly among four bowls and top with the cream. Enjoy!

Note: You may use purple sparkling grape juice, but this will change the color of the soup.

Serves 4.

July 21, 2012

Spinach Frittata with Bacon and Cheddar

A frittata is an Italian-style flat omelet that’s baked in a skillet. This frittata recipe features spinach, bacon, and cheddar cheese. It’s perfect for brunches or other special occasions — even dinner.

For this frittata recipe we cook everything in a cast-iron skillet because it can be heated on the stovetop and then transferred to the oven where the cooking is finished. But any other large skillet that is safe for both stovetop and oven should be fine.

Bacon_Cheese_Spinach_Frittata
image: shakeandcook.com

Spinach Frittata Recipe with Bacon and Cheddar
about.com

8 eggs
½ cup whole milk
½ pound fresh spinach, rinsed, dried and torn into roughly 1-inch pieces
8 slices bacon
½ large onion, peeled and diced
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Kosher salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 450°.

Cook the bacon in a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. When bacon is crispy, remove it from the pan, drain on paper towels, and set aside. When it’s cool, roughly chop it into ¼ inch pieces — or just crumble it up.

Reserve about 2 Tablespoons of bacon fat, then add diced onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until it’s slightly translucent.

Turn off the heat under the pan, then add the spinach pieces and stir with a wooden spoon for a minute until the leaves are fully wilted.

In a glass mixing bowl, thoroughly beat the eggs until nice and frothy. Add the milk and stir until combined. Season to taste with Kosher salt.

Pour the egg mixture into the skillet, and sprinkle the bacon pieces in as well. Give everything a stir to distribute the ingredients evenly. This is the last time you’re going to stir, so get it all out of your system now!

Turn the heat under the skillet back on to about medium and cook for about 5 minutes or until the egg begins to set. No stirring!

Add the grated cheese, sprinkling it evenly across the top, and then transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until the eggs are fully cooked.

Makes 4 wedge-shaped portions of frittata.

NOTE: If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, you can pour the egg mixture into a baking dish and add the cooked onions, spinach, and bacon as well as the grated cheese, and just bake the frittata in that dish. If you do it this way, add 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time and check to make sure the egg is fully cooked before serving.

July 20, 2012

Cold- or Hot-Smoked Salmon

“We smoke a lot of salmon at the Hartstone Inn. Generally when I refer to smoked salmon, I am referring to cold-smoked salmon, which is a cured side of salmon that is gently smoked at low temperatures. With cold smoking, the salmon is “cooked” by the curing process and “flavored” by the smoke. The distinctive texture of cold-smoked salmon comes from the curing, and makes the flesh firm but not crumbly like salmon exposed to heat. Hot-smoked salmon, on the other hand, is seasoned fresh salmon that is smoked at high temperatures and the fish actually cooks through while smoking.”—Michael Salmon, from In the Kitchen With Michael Salmon

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image: finecooking.com

Cold-Smoked Salmon
Michael Salmon, In the Kitchen With Michael Salmon

Dry Cure Mix:

1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup kosher salt
1 Tablespoon dried dill

Mix all ingredients together.

Coat both sides of a one-pound salmon fillet (skin on, pin bones removed) with 1/4 cup dry cure mix. Place the salmon in a small container with a lid and refrigerate for 24 hours. This process is known as “curing.” The salt will draw out a great deal of liquid from the salmon and preserve it, actually “cooking” the flesh.

After 24 hours, gently rinse both sides of the salmon under cold water and place skin side down on the smoking rack. Cold smoke the salmon (at a maximum of 90 degrees) for 2 hours with cherry chips. This is a delicate process in the stove top smoker. The best technique is to get the smoker to the point where it is producing smoke, place the salmon on the smoking rack, close the cover and remove the pan from the heat. Allow the smoke to be exposed to the salmon for 10 minutes off the heat then remove the salmon from the pan and continue the process over and over for a full 2 hours. Add new cherry chips as necessary. Cold-smoked salmon is best if allowed to rest for 24 hours before slicing very thinly.

Hot-Smoked Salmon

Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over 6-ounce salmon fillets (skin off, pin bones removed) and lightly coat with a seasoning rub of your choice. Place them on the lightly oiled smoking rack and hot smoke at 350˚ for 15 minutes with 2 Tablespoons apple, cherry, or alder chips. Serve with fruit salsa, herbed sour cream, mustard, or Chimi Churri Sauce.

July 19, 2012

Cabbage Slaw With Peanuts

Here is another “out of the box” side dish for great outdoor meals. It’s an Asian twist on coleslaw, made fragrant with sesame oil and cilantro and crunchy with skillfully sliced cabbage and peanuts. Good all winter long, it is especially nice with summer grill menus.

peanut_1
image: shelterrific.com

Cabbage Slaw with Peanuts
Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro

1 medium head of green cabbage
1 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
1 bunch of scallions
2 cups chopped and stemmed cilantro
Salt and pepper

Dressing:
1/2 cup canola or peanut oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 Tablespoon tamari soy sauce

Shred the cabbage very finely or use a cuisinart. Cut into bite-sized lengths. Toss with the peanuts in a large bowl.

Add the chopped scallions and cilantro to the cabbage and toss. Season with salt and pepper; toss again.

Whisk all the dressing ingredients until emulsified. Taste and correct.

Toss all together and serve. Will hold up well for several hours. This recipe will look great next to a pile of pork ribs!

Feeds 8-10 people as a side dish.

July 18, 2012

Peaches in Peach Schnapps with Basil

This refreshing recipe serves up summer peaches with peach schnapps and basil. Simply delicious!

summerprimer_peaches_lg
image: foodnetwork.com

Peaches in Peach Schnapps with Basil
recipe by Rozanne Gold courtesy of insatiable-critic.com

4 large ripe peaches
1/2 cup peach schnapps, chilled
2 Tablespoons wildflower honey
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup julienned basil

Wash peaches. Cut into thin wedges and put in a bowl. Stir together schnapps, honey, and 1/4 cup water. Pour over peaches and stir. Let sit 5 minutes. Transfer to wine glasses and top with basil.

Serves 4.

July 17, 2012

Spicy Cucumber Salad

Here is an interesting way to enjoy cucumbers, one of the bounties of your summer garden. This “keep it cool” recipe is perfect for this time of year when you’re trying to beat the heat. Also known as the Korean side dish Oye Moochim!

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Spicy Cucumber Salad
from myfoodrocks.com

1 English cucumber, you can also use Kirby cucumber
1 Tablespoon coarse salt
1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon brown sugar

Slice cucumber into thin rounds. Sprinkle with coarse salt and mix well. Let it sit for 20 minutes. Strain the cucumber by squeezing the water out using a cheesecloth. Set aside.

In another bowl, stir together red pepper flakes, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, garlic, sesame oil, and brown sugar. Then, add it into the cucumbers and toss with your hand to mix the seasonings evenly.

Store in an air-tight glass container or jar and keep refrigerated up to two days. Serve chilled.

July 16, 2012

Honey Garlic Pork Chops

Try pork chops on the grill tonight with this easy-to-prepare recipe.
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Honey Garlic Pork Chops
sparkpeople.com

1/4 plus 1/8 cup honey
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 pork loin chops, boneless, trimmed of excess fat, 4 ounces each

In a shallow dish, whisk together honey, soy sauce, and garlic. Coat chops in mixture.

Reserve left over honey mixture for basting.

Place chops on greased grill over medium-high heat, close lid, and cook. Baste twice during cooking.

Serves 6.

July 15, 2012

Summer Recipe: Soba Noodles with Wilted Bok Choy

“This recipe is perfect for a hot summer evening: boiling water is the only cooking required and the resulting bowl of slippery sesame-scented noodles satisfies our craving for fresh summer flavors.”—thekitchn.com

For a link to this cool summer recipe, click the image below.

2010-06-30-SobaSalad
image and recipe courtesy of thekitchn.com

July 14, 2012

Blueberry and Mascarpone Turnovers

“With summer comes fresh fruit, ripe and ready to eat—and a whole new realm of ingredients to incorporate in the kitchen. Our favorite? Blueberries.

Sweet, juicy blueberries peak in mid to late summer across the nation, so get ‘em while you can! Rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, these naturally sugary berries are amazing no matter how you eat them—fresh, frozen, baked, pureed, or picked right from the bush.

But Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis likes them best when they’re mixed with mascarpone cheese, stuffed into turnovers and fried. And we have to agree. We tried out her easy-to-follow recipe for blueberry and mascarpone turnovers and couldn’t resist eating the entire batch. With just a hint of lemon zest, these light pastries are the perfect pair to any brunch. Try them out by clicking on the image below!”—abullseyeview.com

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recipe and image courtesy of abullseyeview.com

July 13, 2012

Aguas Frescas

Now that the heat wave is upon us, here are a few simple recipes to help you cool off. Refreshing aguas frescas, or fresh waters, are blends of fresh fruit, water, and a bit of lime. You can be inventive and use your own concoctions of simple syrups, nectars, etc. The important thing is to stay cool and hydrated!

070110_aguafresca1_540recipes and images courtesy of thekitchn.com

Watermelon-Lime Agua Fresca
2 pounds seedless watermelon (1/8th of a good-size watermelon)
1 cup cold water
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 Tablespoon simple syrup or agave nectar

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Honeydew-Basil Agua Fresca
1 honeydew
2 cups cold water
4 teaspoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons basil-infused simple syrup or agave nectar

For the simple syrup: Mix 1/4 cup water with 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to boil over medium-low heat and simmer, without stirring, until all sugar is dissolved (about three minutes). Remove from heat, add 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (I used lemon basil for its fantastic citrus scent, but you could also use regular basil or mint). Let steep for 15 minutes until flavor has infused the syrup.

Blend all ingredients, adjusting sweetness as needed. Strain through a mesh strainer or cheesecloth (optional). Serve over ice.

Both recipes serve 4 (fill one blender).

July 12, 2012

Lovage, Lettuce, Cucumber, and Pea Soup

Of interest now in the garden is the versatile herb lovage. The French call it “celeri batard”, others “love parsley” since it is professed to have aphrodisiac qualities.

From the genus Levisticum officinale and a member of the umbelliferae family, this plant has long been used in Southern European cuisine. Carrot, parsnip, celery, and parsley are its cousins. An intriguing garden perennial, lovage has an upright habit. Easy to grow, but hard to buy, it is worth a place in any garden. It possesses a very forward celery flavor and all of the plant can be used in the kitchen from the root (peeled and used in stews or stir fry) to the leaves and stalks (soups, salad, chiffonade) to the seeds, which are similar to fennel.

Looking for ways to use my bounty of lovage, I came upon a site with recipes by British food writer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who muses, “It’s hard to work out why lovage is not more popular!” I have to agree since I tried his soup recipe: “Lovage, lettuce, pea, and cucumber soup.” He calls it “refreshing and pretty.”

What could be a more perfect way to use what is now in the garden…and it is cooling too!

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image: guardian.co.uk

Lovage, Lettuce, Cucumber, and Pea Soup
Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro

1/4 cup butter
1 white onion, diced finely
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Several lovage stalks, chopped (best when young)
2 cups strong chicken stock or vegetable stock, if you prefer
2 butterhead lettuces, shredded
1 cup of peas
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
A small handful of lovage leaves
Crème fraîche to finish/garnish

Warm the butter in a large saucepan and add the onion, thyme, pinch of salt, and sauté until onion is soft, about ten minutes.

Add the lovage stalks and sauté for two minutes. Pour in the stock and simmer ten minutes more. Add the remainder of the vegetables (saving out a few lovage leaves for garnish) and simmer for five more minutes.

Correct seasoning, salt, and thickness (add more broth if you prefer). Top with a dollop of crème fraîche and an artfully placed young lovage leaf. Good hot or cold. Enjoy with a summer breeze!