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August 8, 2013

Maine Chili Lobster: LobFest 2013 Finalist

Gerald Huang grew up in Hong Kong, and moved to Montreal and Toronto before finally settling in the New York and New Jersey area. His love of traveling and adventure brought him to this year’s Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest with his recipe for Maine Chili Lobster.

Gerald_0422Gerald Huang  prepares his Maine Chili Lobster for the Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest.

The origin of this recipe was Gerald’s visit to Singapore for the first time this year. He was impressed by their unofficial national dish: Singapore Chili Crab. Upon returning to New York, he created his own version using lobster. “I thought, this is a delicious dish with crab. I’ll bet it would be even better with lobster,” he said.

Gerald was encouraged to enter the Seafood Cooking Contest by his girlfriend, Mimi, when their friends were planning a trip to the Maine Lobster Festival together. All his supporters, including 3 adorable dogs, were just as excited about the contest as he was. They were spotted in the audience wearing orange “Team Gerald” T-shirts with big lobsters on front.

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Gerald’s Table was set with burnt orange placemats, and he served his dish on white square plates. He served an accompanying local white wine, and created a refreshing Thai drink which was spiced with a touch of Old Bay Seasoning. He rounded out his meal with French bread and white rice.

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A Senior Vice President of an IT solutions company on Wall Street, with many leading global banks as clients, Gerald frequently travels to Asia and Europe. He loves dining out wherever great food can be found around the world. On his many journeys, he picks up food ideas, and when he returns home, he likes to reinterpret or adapt those findings.

“The sauce is slightly sweet and a bit spicy, and this dish blends the influences of Malaysian, Indian, and Chinese cuisines. The lemongrass add a nice flavor. You can make this dish as spicy or as sweet as you want, with a little tweaking of the ingredients.”

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We hope Gerald’s worldly travels continue to make their way into his kitchen, where he makes delicious creations like this Maine Chili Lobster.

Maine Chili Lobster
Gerald Huang, Jersey City, New Jersey

Gerald_LobsterChili_0544

2 2-pound Maine lobsters
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Chili Paste:
3 Tablespoons ginger, minced
2 Tablespoons garlic, minced
1/2 cup shallots, minced
2 small red chili peppers, minced
1 Tablespoon shrimp paste
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon salt

Sauce:
1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon chili sauce
1 Tablespoon bean sauce
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 cups stock
1 stalk lemongrass (optional)

Finishing:
4 Tablespoons butter
1 stalk scallion, 1 1/2 inch cut
2 medium eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Put all the chili paste ingredients into a small food processor to create a paste. Sauté the chili paste in olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the other sauce ingredients into the pan and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Purée the sauce in a blender.

Steam the lobsters by putting them in a pot with 1 1/2 inches of boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove the claws and legs from lobsters. Crack them slightly and set aside.

Cut lobsters lengthwise and clean them.

In a sauté pan, cook the lobster bodies in butter, meat side down, for 5 minutes. Turn the lobster bodies over and sauté for 3 more minutes. Remove the lobster bodies to warm plates. Put the claws and legs into the pan and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add the scallions and sauce into the pan with lobster parts and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from heat. Quickly stir in the beaten eggs to thicken the sauce. Add the chopped cilantro into the sauce and serve on the plates with the lobster bodies. Serve with Italian bread or white rice.

Serves 4.

August 7, 2013

Buzzy’s Lobster Casserole: LobFest 2013 Finalist

Justin Libby was a finalist in this year’s Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest with his recipe for Buzzy’s Lobster Casserole. He shared the following information with us about his life.

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Justin Libby interviewed by Allison Fishman Task, one of the contest judges and host of Yahoo! Blue Ribbon Hunter.

Captain Justin “Buzz” Libby is a 33 year old, lifelong, 3rd generation groundfisherman/scalloper/shrimper from Port Clyde. His boat, the 50-foot dragger the F/V Capt’n Lee, is based out of Port Clyde and is a bit of a local celebrity. A couple years ago, Kenny Chesney shot a country music video on it. It was also the star of the local movie, “The Fish Belong to the People.”

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Justin is one of the founders and owners of Port Clyde Fresh Catch, a fish processing and retail store that sells sustainably caught seafood and supports local fishermen. Port Clyde Fresh Catch is an outlet for customers to buy “net-to-plate” seafood. Seafood is caught sustainably, and processed and sold locally so you get only the freshest, highest quality product from the Gulf of Maine.

A member of the Port Clyde Groundfish Sector/Midcoast Fishermen’s Association, Justin is also working with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute to bring underutilized fish species that are considered healthy stocks in the Gulf of Maine to the table. His efforts include educating people on the importance of having a healthy fishery in Maine through the “Out of the Blue” campaign.

Buzz says his love of cooking is more of a love of eating. He enjoys shows, and his girlfriend urged him to enter this year’s cooking contest.

The origins for his Buzzy’s Lobster Casserole recipe came from a Christmas dinner he had as a child. His father was always away fishing, so it was usually him, his mom, and his sister at home together much of the time. Buzz would cook this and bring it to family events, and it became his casserole. The lobster meat was his personal touch that he added to the recipe in recent years, but the dish originally contained no seafood. He says his family and friends love this casserole. For the contest, he served it with an unusually delightful kelp salad, which he harvested himself, of course.

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So we had to ask. Where did he get the name “Buzzy?”

“Well, I was always buzzing around with my matchbox cars as a kid. Always active, always on the move.” Looks like he’s keeping the momentum going. There’s no sign of slowing this hardworking Mainer down, unless it’s long enough to stop by the kitchen to make his signature dish.

Buzzy’s Lobster Casserole
Justin Libby, Port Clyde, ME

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4 cups cubed potatoes
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 pint sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound diced lobster meat
1 large onion, diced
1 stick butter
1 Tablespoon salt
Box of corn flakes

Preheat oven to 400º. Prepare potatoes, lobster meat, and onion. Mix all ingredients (leave 1/2 stick of butter and cornflakes out) in a large mixing bowl with 1/2 stick of melted butter. After mixing, put in a large casserole dish.

Crunch up cornflakes and put a decent layer over the top. Melt other 1/2 stick of butter and drizzle over cornflakes. Cover with tin foil.

Bake for 45 minutes. Take tin foil off and bake for another 15 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes and serve.

Yields about 6 servings.

July 12, 2013

Curried Quinoa Salad

Here is another delightful summer salad recipe. This Curried Quinoa Salad is bursting with wonderful flavor, texture, and health benefits! For a link to the recipe, click on the image below.

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recipe and image from fitness.com

May 7, 2013

Melissa Kelly of Primo Wins JBF Best Chef Northeast Award

We want to take this opportunity to congratulate Melissa Kelly of Primo in Rockland for her 2013 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Northeast. Well Done!!

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image courtesy of Kent Miller, Portland Press Herald

May 2, 2013

Pan-Seared Salmon on Baby Arugula

Eating anti-inflammatory foods—and avoiding inflammatory ones—can make weight loss easier, slow down the aging process, and prevent disease. Salmon is high on the list of these anti-inflammatory, good foods we should be eating regularly. Here is a great recipe for good health!

pan-seared-salmon
image by Susan Goldman

Pan-Seared Salmon on Baby Arugula
epicurious.com

2 center-cut salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
1 1/2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the salad:
3 cups baby arugula leaves
2/3 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup thinly slivered red onion
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon red-wine vinegar

Place the salmon fillets in a shallow bowl. Toss well with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Let rest for 15 minutes.

Cook the salmon, skin side down in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, shaking the pan and carefully lifting the salmon with a spatula to loosen it from the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pan and cook until the salmon is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes more. The skin should be crisp and the flesh medium-rare.

Meanwhile, combine the arugula, tomatoes, and onion in a bowl. Just before serving, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil and vinegar. Toss well.

Serves 2.

April 30, 2013

Cucumber Infused Water

With hot weather on its way, consider making your own “smart water!”

Few things are more delicious, refreshing… and economical…than an infused water made with either fruits or vegetables, just like in your spa. My personal favorite is cucumber. Citrus, fennel, mint, or basil and blackberry are also contenders.

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image: thingsweheart.blogspot.com

Cucumber Infused Water
Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro

Here is my recipe for cucumber infused water:

One cucumber, washed
A lemon
One pitcher of filtered water

Slice the cucumber thinly with a very sharp knife. Add to the water with a squeeze of lemon if you like. Cover and let sit for a few hours.

Serve chilled with a slice of cucumber as a garnish.

Ahhhh….

February 27, 2013

Raw Kale Salad

It’s winter, and I find myself craving fresh greens. Kale is a smart choice containing a powerhouse of nutrients. It’s high in vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, copper and vitamin K, among others. This kale salad recipe comes to us from paleodietlifestyle.com

kale-salad

Raw Kale Salad Recipe
image and recipes from paleodietlifestyle.com

3 bunches fresh kale
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 medium carrots, grated
1/2 cup pomegranate seed
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 Tablespoon fresh mint, chopped

Balsamic Vinaigrette

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons Dijon or homemade mustard
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Rinse the kale and spin it or pat it with paper towels until dry. Place in a large serving bowl and top with the remaining ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Whisk immediately before serving to ensure that the olive oil and vinegar haven’t separated.

Pour the vinaigrette evenly on the salad. Toss well and serve.

Serves 4.

December 10, 2012

Russell Libby, RIP

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association announces, with great sadness, the death of its beloved leader Russell Libby, following a long struggle with cancer. He passed away peacefully among his family at his home this morning in Mt. Vernon, Maine. He was 56.

Russell With Suffolks SmallRussell lent his extraordinary leadership skills to MOFGA for almost 30 years. He served on the Board of Directors for a decade before becoming its long-serving Executive Director in 1995. He held that position until November 2 of this year, when he assumed the title of Senior Policy Advisor. In that role he continued to guide the organization with his characteristic wisdom, compassion and dedication, even as his health failed. Prudently, he took many steps to ensure that MOFGA’s course would remain steady in the time to come. A search for a new Executive Director is set to begin on January 1, 2013. MOFGA is currently under the guidance of Heather Spalding, who has worked closely with Russell at MOFGA since 1997.

“We are saddened beyond words by Russell’s passing, but we are grateful for the legacy he has given us,” said MOFGA Board President Barbara Damrosch. “MOFGA has always been a vibrant organization that, through educational and policy work, has advanced the cause of safe, healthful food in Maine and championed the farmers and gardeners who grow it. Russell nurtured MOFGA to the point where its membership now exceeds that of any other state organic group. New farmers look to Maine for encouragement and inspiration.”

A memorial service will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 15, at the Mount Vernon Elementary School. At a later date, to be determined, MOFGA will host a gathering in honor of Russell in the Exhibition Hall at the Common Ground Education in Unity.

November 13, 2012

Spicy Scallop Salad Recipe

“Scallops are a great dinner option, as they are quick and easy to prepare. They aren’t a very popular source of protein, but it’s a shame because they are nutritious and blend very well with many flavors. They are a good source of vitamin B12, magnesium, zinc, selenium and phosphorus, many of which are lacking in many people’s diet.

If you are not a fan of scallops, shrimp would be a great substitute. In addition, the vinaigrette is very versatile, making it a great topper for many salads.”—paleodietlifestyle.com

spicy-scallop-salad

Spicy Scallop Salad Recipe
paleodietlifestyle.com

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt;
1 pound small sea or bay scallops
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (about 1.5 lemons)
1 Tablespoon paleo mayonnaise, optional (see website)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon or homemade mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
2 big handfuls of mixed greens
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 avocado, cubed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons cooking fat

Get your chopping done first and save the scallops for last to ensure they are still warm upon serving.

Combine mixed greens, peppers, and avocado in a large bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together the lemon juice, mayonnaise, mustard, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste. Once combined, slowly mix in the olive oil.

In a bowl large enough to hold the scallops, mix the cayenne, salt, and pepper.

Rinse the scallops and lightly pat dry.

Add the scallops to the mixture prepared in step 4 and ensure that they are evenly coated.

Over medium heat, heat a skillet and melt the cooking fat in preparation for searing the scallops. Your skillet must be hot prior to adding the scallops; however, do not allow the cooking fat to burn.

Place the scallops in the pan and cook for about two minutes per side, until they are opaque white and just cooked through.

Add the scallops to the bowl of mixed greens and veggies, and add the dressing over top. Serve while the scallops are still warm.

There you have it! A quick and easy salad that will help limit your time in the kitchen.

Serves 4.

November 12, 2012

Simple Hummus Snack Wrap

So simple, easy, and tastes delicious. Good for anytime, but is a great post workout snack!

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image: myrecipes.com

Simple Hummus Snack Wrap
sparkpeople.com

2 Tablespoons hummus
1 ounce fat free feta cheese
1 ounce roasted red peppers
Low carb wrap (La Tortilla Factory is 50 cal, high fiber, high protein, low fat)

So simple, if you couldn’t already tell from the ingredients.

Spread hummus on tortilla. Press feta crumbles into hummus and put roasted peppers on top. Roll up and enjoy.

Delicious!!

Makes 1 serving.

October 14, 2012

Maine Seafood Recipes

Aren’t we the luckiest people to live in Maine where we have a consistent supply of the freshest and best tasting seafood? I was recently at our favorite Portland fish market getting some haddock for dinner when I overheard a woman complaining about the price of “plain old haddock which is a rip-off at $6.99 a pound.” I clenched my fists, took some calming breaths, and counted to 10. I so wanted to give her a good jab and tell her that I think that’s an absolute BARGAIN price given the cost of the fishing vessel, fuel, insurance, equipment, bait – never mind the risks our fishermen and fisherwomen face every single day when they venture out to the depths of the Atlantic to catch our dinner. I am a staunch defender of fisher-people (and farmers, too) who are totally at the mercy of Mother Nature and who work incredibly hard at their jobs. I definitely think they deserve greater appreciation and respect. (I will now step ever so carefully off from my soapbox.)

According to Laine Welch, a long time writer of news about the seafood industry, more than $60 billion a year is funneled into the US from the bounty of our waters and also provides more than 25,000 jobs. It is estimated that the average Joe (or Jane) in our country consumes only 16.2 pounds of seafood per year. (That surely cannot apply to New Englanders, can it?) When compared to other parts of the world, that number is negligible. Japanese people eat about 146 pounds per person each year, Greenland residents about 186 pounds and in Iceland, it tallies up to 200 pounds per person. But the big winner is the people of Tokelau, an island in the South Pacific, who eat more than 400 pounds per person every year. (The country with the lowest seafood consumption? Afghanistan – ZERO pounds.).

Shrimp is rated as the #1 most eaten seafood in America and the percentage of Americans who eat the recommended 2 servings of seafood per week is only 20%. So come on, support your local fishermen and prepare one of these delicious recipe in honor of National Seafood Month.

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image: tasteofhome.com

Bread Bowl Seafood Dip
Paula Anderson, Scarborough

1 package (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened (regular or reduced fat)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (regular or reduced fat)
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 cup cooked Maine shrimp, shelled and rough chopped
6 ounces fresh Maine crabmeat
2/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided use
2-3 drops hot pepper sauce
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 round loaf (1 pound) sourdough bread
Assorted fresh veggies (cucumbers, carrots, celery, broccoli, red bell peppers, etc.)

Place softened cream cheese in a medium bowl; with electric mixer on medium speed, beat until creamy. Add mayon­naise, mustard and hot pepper sauce and beat until blended. By hand, stir in the shrimp, crabmeat, 1/3 cup Monterey Jack cheese and green onions. With a bread knife, cut the top fourth off the top of the bread and then carefully hollow out the bottom, leaving about a 1/2-inch shell all the way around and on the bottom. Cut the removed bread (including the piece from the top) into cubes and set aside. (You can toast these or not.)

Spoon seafood mixture into bread shell and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Wrap tightly in heavy-duty foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 25 minutes. Unwrap; continue baking for 20-25 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and dip is heated through. Serve with bread cubes and veggies.

Yield: about 2¼ cups dip.

Haddock Provencal
Paula Anderson, Scarborough

fish-provencal
image: dairydiarychat.co.uk

1-1/2 pounds haddock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half lengthwise
2 Tablespoons dry white wine
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Place fish in a single layer; season with salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated 375° oven 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan set over medium heat.  Add onion and cook stirring often for 5 minutes or until onion is tender but not brown. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes, olives, wine, basil and thyme; simmer 4-5 minutes.

Spoon sauce over fish (after the 15 minutes) and continue baking for 5-7 more minutes or until fish flakes easily.

Yield: 6 servings.

September 17, 2012

Halibut with Fennel

Inflammation is now thought to be the foundation of many diseases and chronic health conditions. It is indicated in conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain and obesity, cancer, asthma, diabetes, and arthritis. Research indicates that diet can reduce inflammation and increase a person’s overall health, well-being, and energy levels.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide® Anti-Inflammation Cookbook – a companion to The Complete Idiot’s Guide® to The Anti-Inflammation Diet – has more than 200 recipes that help the reader reduce and manage inflammation levels. Below is a featured recipe for Halibut with Fennel. The sun-dried tomatoes, fennel, and Kalamata olives add a Mediterranean flavor to the halibut.

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image from eggsonsunday.wordpress.com

Halibut with Fennel
Elizabeth Vierck and Lucy Beale, The Complete Idiot’s Guide® Anti-Inflammation Cookbook

Aluminum foil
4 (5-ounce) halibut fillet
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
4 Kalamata or other black olives, drained, pitted and sliced

Preheat oven to 400°.

Tear off 4 pieces of foil to form a square. Place foil on a baking dish and place each fillet in center of square.

For each fillet: drizzle with oil, season with garlic powder and red pepper. Sprinkle sun-dried tomatoes over top. Arrange onion slices over fish, and top with fennel and olives.

Fold aluminum foil around fish to make an enclosed packet, keeping seam at top of packet

Place packets on a large baking sheet in oven and cook for 12 to 14 minutes, depending on thickness of fish. Remove baking dish from oven and place on serving dish. Carefully unfold foil to allow steam to escape.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

August 11, 2012

Grilled Maine Lobster Chicago

Buy Maine Lobster Now! Support our local lobstermen and women!!

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Lobsters ©2010 by Jim Bazin

Grilled Maine Lobster Chicago
lobsterfrommaine.com

2 cups Maine Lobster meat
4 fresh mushrooms
1 teaspoon fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon pimientos (canned)
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon pimiento juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ cup Sauterne wine
8 slices bread
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons butter

Chop first four ingredients.  Add salt, pimiento juice, and lemon juice. Put in a stone jar and add enough Sauterne wine to cover, let stand over night.

Take slices of bread and dip one side of each in beaten egg.  Squeeze out 4 Tablespoons of lobster mix and spread on one slice of bread (the side not dipped in egg).  Top with another slice of bread, egg side out. Grill in buttered pan, until browned.

Bake in a hot oven, 400°, 15 to 30 minutes.

Serves 4.

August 9, 2012

Seafood Cooking Contest Celebrity Judges: Maine LobsterFest 2012

This year’s Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest was certainly a tasteful event. Held in the North Entertainment Tent under the direction of Maine Lobster Festival Director Celia Knight, it was once again emceed by Louise MacLellan. Maine seafood was the highlight of the show, with five home chefs cooking off their finalist-winning entries. And this year’s contest had another special attraction: celebrity judges.

Navy CMDR Neil Koprowski, Commanding Officer of the USS San Antonio, was one of this year’s judges. He was impressed with the overall talent from participants and said of the winning entry by Tyrrell Hunter, Seafood Hash with Lobster Hollandaise, “I’d definitely make this on board. It’s easy to make and really delicious!” The USS Antonio was docked in the harbor for the festival and the men aboard served as escorts for this year’s sea of princesses vying for the Sea Goddess crown.

Judges_3632Judges receive instructions from emcee Louise MacLellan. Left-to-right: CMDR Neil Koprowski, Louise MacLellan, Michele Ragussis, Signe Swanholm Garner.

And speaking of Sea Goddesses, judge Signe Swanholm Garner once held that Sea Goddess crown for the year 1949. She served as this year’s Lobster Festival Parade Grand Marshal. Signe brought her sash to the cooking contest, talking with the audience about her early involvement with the festival. Along with her first husband, she started the festival’s popular pancake breakfast in the 1950s. She says she’s never missed a Lobster Festival, and reminds people that “lobsters are the backbone of our community.”

Michele Ragussis, popular new chef at The Pearl On The Pier in Rockland, knows all about being a cooking contestant. The Season 8 finalist of “Food Network Star” rounded out this year’s panel of celebrity judges. The child of Greek/Italian parents, Michele grew up with some great ethnic cooking. She attended Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island, and has solid New England roots. Michele enjoyed all the original and creative recipes at this year’s cooking contest.

“It was a very hard job being a judge. But a great one, too,” Michele added with a laugh.

August 8, 2012

Lobster Jalapeño Hush Puppies with Avocado Dipping Sauce: LobFest 2012 Finalist

Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest 2012 Finalist: Jodi Willey

Jodi Willey of Owls Head, ME, a finalist in this year’s Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest, shared her recipe for Lobster Jalapeño Hush Puppies with Avocado Dipping Sauce.

Award_3765Jodi Willey (left) accepts her finalist award from event director Celia Knight and emcee Louise MacLellan.

Always looking for new ways to make lobster, she says, “steaming gets old.” Jodi is a Maine native, and her husband is a 5th generation lobsterman. “So everything we do revolves around the business of lobster,” she admits. “Lobster is our life.”

Deep fried corn balls with minced lobster, jalapeños, and chives is how Jodi describes her “hush puppies.” Her homemade accompanying Avocado Dipping Sauce, she says, is great for this recipe but is also easy to make and great as a general dip for other dishes.

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“We traveled to the south on our honeymoon. I fell in love with the food there…all those wonderful flavors. We toured Savannah, Charleston, other cities. I thought it would be great to give my contest entry a Southern theme.”

Jodi says this recipe takes a classic to the next level. Her husband and friends love these great appetizers, and she says she’ll be making more of them in the future since they have great flavor and are easy to make.

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This was Jodi’s first cooking contest, and she admitted it was “a bit nerve-wracking.” Inspired by her grandmother and Dad, whom she says are both great cooks, Jodi likes cooking because it’s “a family thing.”  “I really enjoy having company over for good food. Nothing gets people together like food.”

Jodi’s table was covered in a red, white, and blue ship’s wheel patterned tablecloth with blue napkins tied with knotted rope. A vase of blue hydrangeas and a lantern accented her display. Her hush puppy poppers were served in appetizer cone shaped servers with attached dipping cups. She offered cocktails of mint julep sweet tea in fun Ball mason jar glasses to complement her Lobster Jalapeño Hush Puppies, a decidedly Southern touch.

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Guests will love it if you serve up these puppies at your next get-together!

Lobster Jalapeño Hush Puppies with Avocado Dipping Sauce
Jodi Willey, Owls Head, ME

For the Hush Puppies:
Vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup All-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt, plus additional for sprinkling
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons chives
1-2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup clear lobster meat (about 4 lobsters), diced

For the Avocado Dipping Sauce:
1 avocado, chopped
8 ounce container plain Greek yogurt
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Make the Avocado Dipping Sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Put in the refrigerator to chill.

Pour the vegetable oil to a depth of 3 inches into a Dutch oven; heat to 375°.

Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in the chives and jalapeño. Add the eggs and buttermilk; stir just until moistened. Fold in the lobster meat.

Drop the batter by heaping Tablespoonfuls into the hot oil and fry, 6 per batch, for 1 1/2-2 minutes per side, or until golden. Remove from oil to drain on paper towels using a slotted spoon; immediately sprinkle with sea salt.

Keep warm in a 200° oven until ready to serve. Serve warm Hush Puppies with Avocado Dipping Sauce.

Yields 2 dozen Hush Puppies.

August 7, 2012

Lobster Yorkshire Puddings with Corn Butter Sauce: LobFest 2012 Finalist

Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest 2012 Finalist: Sheila Veronessa

Sheila Veronessa of Brooklyn, NY, made her first trip to Maine a memorable one with a visit to the Maine Lobster Festival. Her recipe entry for Lobster Yorkshire Puddings with Corn Butter Sauce made her a finalist in this year’s Seafood Cooking Contest.

Award_3770Sheila Veronessa (left) accepts a finalist award from event director, Celia Knight, while emcee Louise MacLellan and cooking contest judge and Food Network Star Michelle Ragussis announce her award.

“This is my take on the traditional Maine Lobster Roll, but with an English twist. My boyfriend David Krell lived in England for a time, and this was an idea we thought would work well,” Sheila says of her recipe.

“We were scouting the web, looking for random fun things to do this summer when we came upon the Maine Lobster Festival website and learned about the seafood cooking contest. I’m just an amateur who loves to cook,” she says. “We thought this would be a fun thing to do, and I’m so happy to be a part of it.”

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Sheila totally immersed herself in local lobster culture on her first visit to the state. She actually went hauling for her own lobsters to use in this year’s contest with Rockland’s own Captain Jack’s Lobster Boat Adventure. “What a memorable experience that was! We had an amazing time and it was all so beautiful out on the Maine waters,” Sheila gushes.

This Lobster Yorkshire Pudding recipe with its Corn Butter Sauce requires a bit of prep work with a few different steps, but the very tasty outcome makes it so worth it, Sheila says. And timing, she adds, is everything.

“Sweet corn makes this a sunny sauce, and really complements the sweet taste of the succulent Maine lobster tails. Fried capers add a tangy taste and delightful crunch to the sauce.” For her sweet corn butter sauce, Sheila even used the corn cobs for flavoring. Her pudding is made from an old family recipe from Yorkshire, England: simple, sweet, and spongy.

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At Sheila’s table, judges were treated to her refreshing homemade watermelon-lime cooler. Her tables were adorned with roses, shells, and cherries. Place settings of straw placemats over red included contrasting white plates. As judges were seated to enjoy her dish, she told them to feel at home.

ServeJudge_3669Sheila serves her watermelon-lime cooler to judge Michelle Ragussis.

For a modern English twist on a Maine classic, give Sheila’s recipe a try!

Lobster Yorkshire Puddings With Corn Butter Sauce
Sheila Veronessa, Brooklyn, NY

1 1/2 pounds – Maine lobster tail meat
3 ears sweet corn
1 1/2 sticks salted butter
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup 2% milk
1/3 cup flour
2 eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 ounces capers
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Corn Butter Sauce
3 ears sweet corn
6 Tablespoons salted butter
2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt

Clean corn and remove the kernels. Cut cobs in small pieces to be used for flavoring.

Heat half the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add corn kernels and cobs to sizzling butter. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the 1 1/2 cups of milk and the heavy cream. Simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes until corn is tender.

Discard the corn cob and remove corn from heat. Purée the corn mixture in a blender until smooth. Drain the corn sauce for a smoother texture.

Return the sauce to the pan and stir remaining milk, butter, and salt. Simmer for 5 minutes until bubbly.

*The sauce may be made and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead.

Yorkshire Puddings
1/3 cup 2% milk
1/3 cup All-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 pinch sea salt
2 Tablespoons butter for melting in pan

Beat eggs in a small bowl (*take out 2 Tablespoons of egg whites to make less eggy). Add the milk to eggs and beat together.

Sift together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Form a well in the center. Add the milk and egg mixture and beat until the batter is completely smooth (no lumps), light, and foamy. Let it sit in the refrigerator for 35-40 minutes.

Heat oven to 400°. Use a 6 cup muffin pan, putting at least a teaspoon of butter in the bottom of each well, and place in oven for just a couple minutes until sizzling hot.

Take the refrigerated batter out and allow to sit at room temperature for a few minutes. Carefully pour the batter into the pan (or the wells of muffin pan, filling just 1/3 full), once the pan is hot. Cook for 20 minutes at 400° until puffy and golden brown. And don’t open the oven door!

Take the pan out of the oven and arrange the puddings for plating immediately.

Maine Lobster Filling
1 1/2 pounds fresh Maine lobster tail- thawed if frozen
1 Tablespoon good quality salted butter
Pinch of sea salt for taste

Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut through the bottom shell of the lobster tails lengthwise. Gently remove whole piece of meat out of the shell by using your finger or the handle of a spoon. (Meat can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 hours ahead.)

Melt 1 Tablespoon of butter in a saucepan over medium to high heat. Add lobster meat and cook for 2 minutes at high heat. Let it steep over medium to low heat for another 3 minutes. Serve on Yorkshire puddings.

Fried Capers Topping
2 Tablespoons butter
4 1/2 ounces good quality capers

Drain 1/2 cup capers and pat dry with paper towels. Heat 2 Tablespoons of butter in a small, heavy-duty skillet over medium-high heat.

Add capers to sizzling butter in skillet. Fry until capers are crisp and open like flowers, stirring often, 45 to 60 seconds. Using slotted spoon, transfer capers to paper towels to drain.

*Capers can be fried two hours ahead before being used in a recipe. Just let them stand at room temperature until you’re ready to add them.

Plating
Place Yorkshire Puddings on plate. Fill with lobster meat filling. Drizzle corn butter sauce on lobster and Yorkshire Puddings. Top with fried capers and toasted sesame seeds.

August 6, 2012

Red White and Blue Lobster Lasagne: LobFest 2012 Finalist

Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest 2012 Finalist: Carol Bachofner

Carol Bachofner, Poet Laureate of Rockland, ME, was one of the five finalists competing in this year’s Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest. Her Red, White, & Blue Lobster Lasagne was a nod to this year’s Olympics and a way to showcase great Maine seafood and produce. A return finalist from last year’s contest (see Carol’s 2011 recipe here), Carol says she loves the Lobster Festival and this event in particular because it’s such fun and there is always great audience participation.

Award_3776Carol Bachofner (left) receives award from event director Celia Knight.

Her recipe includes the patriotic colors red from the Maine lobster, white from her creamy cheese sauce blend, and blue from her use of blue cheese. This lasagne, which she calls lighter for summer, features a sauce of local State of Maine Cheese Company fresh cheeses: mozzarella, ricotta, smoky gouda, and blue cheese. The garlic and basil used in her recipe were also locally sourced.

“It’s important to me to support our local economy. I’m involved in a farm share with Crescent Run and Hatchet Cove Farms. It’s a great feeling to support local farmers, and it means I can get farm fresh produce on a regular basis without the work of tending my own garden all summer. A win-win!”

Carol’s inspiration for this recipe came from being the mother of six children. “It’s a big, hearty meal. Really family friendly food. A fun recipe to eat,” she says. “My family loves my cooking. It’s a special gift I can give to them.” And speaking of gifts, Carol says lobster is happy to be our food and gives itself to us for that purpose, a natural Maine gift.

As she prepared her lobster lasagne recipe in front of the large audience, Carol said her grandmother would be appalled to see her using measuring cups. “She taught me to measure the old-fashioned way, with a teacup or my hands for a cup or two cups.”

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Red basket-woven placemats, sea blue plates, driftwood, and lighthouses accented Carol’s judges’ table. Each judge received on his or her plate an original lobster poem crafted by Carol. She offered Lobster Lover’s Beer and a salad of tomato, basil, mozzarella, cucumber, and onion with a citrus dressing made with local Fiore olive oils. Beautiful edible flowers were frozen in the ice cubes she displayed in water glasses.

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Try making this your family’s new favorite lasagne recipe!

Red, White, & Blue Lobster Lasagne
Carol W. Bachofner, Rockland, ME

1 box Dreamfield’s Lasagne Noodles (this is very low in carbs!) or regular lasagne noodles
2 1/2 pounds freshly picked Maine lobster meat (you really want the “red” to show!) and reserve the claw meat as edible garnish for the plate!
1 cup fine-chopped celery
1 large clove crushed garlic
2 small bunches fresh basil— plus one sprig basil per each plate for garnish
1 cup reduced fat ½ and ½
1 extra can of reduced fat evaporated milk in case you want your lasagne to be extra saucy
½ cup white wine
1 package cream cheese, softened
½ cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 pounds white cheese, sliced (I prefer Derby from State of Maine Cheese; but any local/ organic will do)
1 cup shredded gouda (or similar flavored smoky cheese)
1 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
1 large-sized tub of cottage cheese (NOT reduced fat)
1 jumbo beaten egg
3/4 cup melted Cabot butter

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Cook noodles until tender but not mushy (3 minutes), set aside.

In skillet place celery, garlic, basil; cook celery and garlic til tender. Add cream cheese, blue cheese, and half and half. Stir. Gradually add white cheddar and gouda; stir until melty. Add wine and basil. Heat until basil wilts; remove from heat.

Mix cottage cheese and egg.

Layer in baking pan in this order: sauce, noodles, lobster, cottage cheese/egg mix, Derby cheese slices; repeat and end with remaining sauce and top with Derby.

If you want your lasagne extra saucy, you may add evaporated milk to get to the consistency you desire. Top with 3/4 cup of melted butter, drizzled.

Bake at 350˚for 35 minutes; let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Carol’s Note: This lasagne is a wonder, with its chunks of “red” lobster meat, its creamy “white” sauce, and its “blue” cheese undertones! Makes a great family meal, or an elegant fine-dining moment by candlelight. Serve with a fresh summer salad or crusty bread. Pair with a dry white wine.

June 27, 2012

A Place Apart

Dear old Gus is gone, and along with him, our beloved noontime haunt. Known variously as “the alley,” “the Pavilion,” “Gus’s,” “the CozyCove Café” (Cook & Tell’s code name for it), it was the place for a good no-fuss sandwich, some fries, and a piece of Em’s homemade pie for lunch. It was open every summer from the Fourth of July to Columbus Day since Gus started working for his father at the age of eighteen around 1920. The place was the definition of low-key. This, the first article in a continuing series that kept the story going through the years, introduced readers of C&T around the world to a precious piece of Americana.

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This is going to be an odd restaurant review. Not that the restaurant is odd, although it isn’t exactly ordinary, either. The odd thing about this review is that I’m not supposed to tell where the place is. It’s all right to come upon the place by accident, and a little word of mouth is tolerated. Gus never advertises. Even the reporter for the local weekly is under strict orders to avoid any mention of the place in her neighborhood news column. This a distinct hardship on the reporter, because a lot of neighborhood news is hashed over at Gus’s place.

The point is, artistry in sandwiches is his specialty, and he does not wish to sacrifice good service for the sake of a full house. Watch the furrow form over his eyebrows when nine people come in all at once. He can handle them, all right. It’s just that some of the artistry goes out of it when you become a pair of hands cranking out sandwiches. The menu is not extensive: hamburgers, hot dogs, BLTs, grilled cheese, the usual others. Sometimes we recognize the lettuce in a crabmeat roll, because we would bring it from our garden as often as possible. You’ll probably pay a different price each time you order a pickle to go with your sandwich, because the canny sandwich man sells them by the pound, not the piece.

For dessert, Gus’s wife Em makes apple, blueberry, and rhubarb pies that he cuts in sevenths. With a yardstick flailing the air he circumnavigates the pie, his thumb positioned somewhere between the three-and four-inch mark. Sixths or eighths would never do. Where’s the entertainment value in three or four swift whacks?

Gus’s place doesn’t even look like a restaurant. No sign identifies the old white clapboarded building set on pilings at the edge of one of the prettiest little harbors on the Maine Coast. It takes a minute to figure out where you are, once you get inside for the first time, too. There are two bowling lanes (with hand-set candlepins), a gleaming wooden counter with eight revolving stools, some wooden booths, and a few ice cream parlor chairs and tables, all original with the place.

The nostalgia down at Gus’s is not coy. The place is just so fetchingly out of step that it may actually be marching backwards. A platoon of regulars has been bringing up the rear every summer for well over fifty years, keeping their drums silent. So if Gus is suddenly swamped with new business and it gets out that I had anything to do with it, I will of course deny everything.

Watch for more stories from Gus’s, with his menu and favorite recipes….

June 20, 2012

On the Rush of Wings “Happy Feet” Benefit

A wonderful new resource in our area is On the Rush of Wings Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Located in Friendship, Maine, the center offers rehabilitation to marine and pelagic (spending most of their lives on the open seas or oceans) birds that have become injured, orphaned, or abandoned and gives them a chance to heal and be rereleased back into the wild.

Licensed rehabilitators, along with veterinarians, offer their time, knowledge, skills, and facilities to address medical needs of wildlife in distress. Because of their ideal location, On the Rush of Wings is able to utilize ocean water for both its clinic and aviary pools. The staff includes Manager and President Cindy Mackie, Wildlife Rehabilitator Beth Settlemyer, Veterinarian Dr. Christine Welch, and consultant Bill Goodwill of Mid-Coast Audubon.

Relying entirely on public support, On the Rush of Wings invites you to learn more about their facility, philosophy, and how you can help the wildlife in your area. Click the link to their website here: On The Rush of Wings Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

They are excited to be holding their 1st Annual Happy Feet Benefit on July 22 at the Thomaston Cafe! This event, sponsored by the Thomaston Cafe and Peter Ott’s in Camden, will include great food, music, and a silent auction. See the poster below for more details on how you can help make a difference!

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April 5, 2012

Pasta with Spinach, Garbanzos and Raisins

The key to this recipe is to have the pasta and sauce done at the same time so that they don’t overcook. This is a great recipe for two cooks in the kitchen.

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Pasta with Spinach, Garbanzos and Raisins
recipe and image courtesy of mayoclinic.com

8 ounces farfalle (bow tie) pasta
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 can (19 ounces) garbanzos, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup unsalted chicken broth
1/2 cup golden raisins
4 cups fresh spinach, chopped
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Cracked black peppercorns, to taste

Fill a large pot 3/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (tender), 10 to 12 minutes, or according to the package directions. Drain the pasta thoroughly.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium heat. Add the garbanzos and chicken broth. Stir until warmed through. Add the raisins and spinach. Heat just until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes. Don’t overcook.

Divide the pasta among the plates. Top each serving with 1/6 of the sauce, 1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese and peppercorns to taste. Serve immediately.

Serves 6.