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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

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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.

August 6, 2013

Maine Lobster Mac-N-Cheese: LobFest 2013 Finalist

John Ruppert of Brunswick says he was born into a cooking family and he does a lot of home cooking. His recipe for Maine Lobster Mac-N-Cheese made him a finalist in this year’s Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest.

“My first press exposure was when I was just a few months old. My picture was in the local Endicott, NY, newspaper with my mother as she prepared her winning recipe for the New York Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest. After those few minutes in the limelight, I always seemed to be hanging around the kitchen.”

John-Louise_0248John Ruppert is interviewed by event emcee Louise MacLellan-Ruf

John says he entered the contest this year with some coaxing from his daughter, Jessica, who was a princess in last year’s Sea Goddess contest. In addition to running his own insurance/real estate investment firm, John enjoys spending time in the kitchen. He comes to the Maine Lobster Festival every year.

“I enjoy all types of food. I am also an avid boater, having cruised the Maine Coast for many years. While going through high school and college, I used to lobster in a small boat during the summertime. So it was natural for me to select an easy to prepare lobster dish to enter in the contest.”

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John wanted to create a recipe that would be simple to prepare on the typical galley stove of a small boat- with no oven and easy to obtain ingredients. “My Maine Lobster Mac-n- Cheese can be made in the smallest of boat galleys after a quick trip to your local lobster pound,” he said. In fact, when the power went out a couple times during the contest, some of the contestants got a mild case of nerves. Not John, who was able to remain as cool as a cucumber. He came prepared with his own gas burner stove and kept right on cooking.

“I’ve tried this recipe out on friends and neighbors. They loved it, and their feedback has helped me to make just the right adjustments,” John said. “This is a quick, hearty and tasty meal which is perfect after a long day of sailing.”

John picked up his lobsters at a lobster pound in Bath for use in the contest. His table was set with lobster print napkins, and he served his mac-n-cheese in whimsical white fish bowls. A complementary salad with Maine blueberries and a blueberry vinaigrette dressing rounded out the meal.

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John says that a little known fact about himself is that he is also an avid space enthusiast, and he got to personally meet and talk with Jim Lovell, the commander of the doomed Apollo 13 flight to the moon.

We recommend you try John’s recipe for Maine Lobster Mac-N-Cheese for yourself. You’ll probably say it’s out of this world!

Maine Lobster Mac-N-Cheese
John Ruppert, Brunswick, ME

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2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
½ green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 pound Maine lobster meat, cooked
1 pound cellentani pasta (or similar spiral-shaped pasta)
6 Tablespoons butter, divided
3 Tablespoons flour
1 cup vegetable broth
½ cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
¼ Tablespoon cayenne pepper
4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 ounces Swiss cheese
4 Tablespoon Panko bread crumbs
1 cup light cream
4 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
4 Tablespoons freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat medium sauce pan with olive oil on medium heat. Add bell peppers, shallots, and crushed garlic and sauté until peppers are soft, about 4 minutes.

Add in lobster to sauce pan and sauté for 2 minutes, then set pan aside. Start large pot of water to cook cellentani; wait for it to boil.

In large sauce pan over medium heat, melt 4 Tablespoons of butter. Slowly add flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly until a smooth roux is formed.

Slowly whisk in the vegetable broth into the roux, and then stir in wine. Cook on medium-low for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Begin cooking the pasta per directions on the box.

Now add the two cheeses to the vegetable broth and wine mixture, stir to mix and help melt cheeses. Add white pepper, paprika, salt, and cayenne pepper into cheese sauce. Stir occasionally as the pasta is cooking.

In a separate small sauce pan on medium-high, melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons butter, then add the Panko crumbs. Stir constantly until the Panko is a golden brown color (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat when complete.

Combine lobster meat mixture with the cheese sauce, and stir to combine well, keep heated on low heat until noodles are done. Drain noodles when complete.

Slowly add noodles into the cheese/lobster mixture, stirring to mix well. Depending on the exact type of noodle, you will add between ¾ to the full amount of cooked noodles. Ensure that there is plenty of sauce to coat the noodles well.

Serve in shallow bowls, topping with 1 Tablespoon of chives, 1 Tablespoon of Parmesan cheese, and 1 Tablespoon of fresh chives.

Yields 4 hearty servings.

August 5, 2013

Owls Head Lobster Étouffée: LobFest 2013 Finalist

Adam Marcus from Owls Head took 2nd place honors in this year’s Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest with his Cajun inspired recipe for Owls Head Lobster Étouffée. Inspiration for his dish came from his youth, growing up in New Orleans and going to school in the south. The real estate developer says love of food, family, and southern roots all come into play when being creative in the kitchen.

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Of his culinary background, Adam found necessity to be the mother of invention. “I started cooking in college in Austin, Texas, because the food was so bad. The first dish I cooked was my Mom’s Rock Cornish Game Hens. That first experience of cooking for myself and friends taught me that not only did I like eating good food, I also enjoyed the accolades it brought from friends. Cooking reminded me of home and my loving family which made me less homesick. This new common interest with my Mom is one I still share with her as she approaches her 82nd birthday on August 14th. We talk food and recipes often.”

While in college, Adam discovered Whole Foods. “If you can believe it, back when I was in college there was only one Whole Foods company in the country. Lucky for me it was in Austin.” This started his affair with fresh local produce and ingredients. He now says Whole Foods has gotten too big and he prefers farmers’ markets and knowing where all his foods come from with an emphasis on fresh and local. After college, Adam returned to his home town of New Orleans and watched the development of chefs like Emeril, Paul Prudhomme, and John Harris. He enjoyed eating the inventive and classic food of New Orleans and evolving his own repertoire of regional dishes.

Sharing recipes and family meals has extended to his own family, as Adam now shares this love with his daughter and two sons. When they were growing up, he took on all the family cooking. He introduced them to favorites like soft shell crabs, shrimp creole, herb-stuffed roast chicken, and crawfish étouffée. Adam’s gumbo is a family tradition at noon on Christmas Day.

One night last year at the bar in Primo, Adam and a friend struck up a conversation with a local lobsterman and his wife about cooking lobster in non-traditional dishes. He became inspired. Acadian/Cajun and Creole dishes of southern Louisiana like étouffée, gumbo, jambalaya, etc. use shellfish like crawfish, oysters, shrimp, and crab. He decided to apply his knowledge of regional Louisiana culture and mix in his love of Maine to create a stand-by favorite – étouffée, using Maine lobster and corn instead of crawfish.
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Adam sourced produce for his special dish from the Rockland Farmers’ Market, items like cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and corn. Oil was sourced locally from Fiore, and his lobsters were harvested from Owls Head water at 7am on the morning of the contest. His table was set to evoke the setting of the Maine coast, with a candle centerpiece and surrounding rocks creating a replica of Owls Head Light.
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Try your hand at a taste of fine Southern cooking with Adam Marcus’s Owls Head Lobster Étouffée!

Owl’s Head Lobster Étouffée
Adam Marcus, Owls Head, ME
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1 pound of cooked lobster meat (tail and claw)

Cook according to favorite method and chop claws and tails into bite-sized pieces. Set aside while you prepare the étouffée .

1 large onion, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced

Heat 3 Tablespoons olive oil in heavy bottomed stockpot. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery, sauté for 3 minutes, then cover the pot and sweat the vegetables at a med-low simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in minced garlic and replace cover. Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until onions seem almost melted but not browned.

½ stick unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon flour
Pinch cayenne pepper (or more to taste)

Add ½ stick of butter to the cooked vegetable mixture. Once the butter has melted, sprinkle 1 Tablespoon flour over mixture, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Add pinch of cayenne if you want a hint of spice. Sauté, stirring constantly over med-low heat for 3 minutes.

½ pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
2 bay leaves
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 cups seafood stock (homemade or store bought)
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 pound lobster meat
Salt and pepper to taste

Add cherry tomatoes, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Slowly whisk in seafood stock until well blended with flour and butter mixture. Bring to a boil. Cover pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, corn, and lobster meat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook étouffée, stirring occasionally until heated through, 3-4 minutes.

2 green onions  – discard white parts, slice thinly
Crusty bread or rolls
Olive oil

Ladle the étouffée into bowls, sprinkle each bowl with thinly sliced green onion, and serve with olive oil toasted bread.

Serves 4 as a main or 8 as an appetizer.  

August 3, 2013

Spectacular Seafood Cannelloni: LobsterFest 2013 Winner

Tyrrell Hunter was content to rest on the laurels of her big win last year at the 2012 Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest… on one condition. Her husband was to enter the contest this year instead. Her 1st prize entry last year was a Seafood Hash with Lobster Hollandaise.

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Tyrrell was encouraging her husband to enter this year’s contest with his idea for a Deconstructed Caesar Salad recipe featuring Maine seafood. When that recipe “went south,” Tyrrell decided she had to jump back into the kitchen and get cooking once again. We’ll bet she’s glad she did! This year, Tyrrell’s recipe for Spectacular Seafood Cannelloni took top honors.

Tyrrell paired her special dish with a delightful side salad with nasturtiums, perfectly toasted garlic bread, and complementary prosecco. Her table setting created the image of summertime in Maine complete with round straw and sunny yellow place mats, blue plates and napkins, and blue vases of flowers.

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“I’d made this recipe for years at home, using different ingredients. I thought it would be the perfect recipe to change up using some seafood like lobster and scallops,” said Tyrrell. The special flavors of Maine were complemented with sun-dried tomatoes, herbs, and a heavenly bechamel sauce she made with the lobster bodies and shells.

Tyrrell had this to say of her culinary background: “Both my parents were wonderful cooks who introduced me to a broad variety of foods. I remember cooking at an early age, maybe 7 or 8 years old, baking pies with my grandmother for various holidays. By the time I was 12, I was selling my baked goods during the summer on an island in Maine. While my friends made money babysitting, I made money baking. As an adult, I have hosted most holidays and celebrations and held too many dinner parties to count.” Tyrrell has also worked to organize and cook gourmet dinners at her church for fundraising efforts.

As a diversion from closing her medical equipment business in 2011, she entered the Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest for the first time. She was a finalist that year with her recipe for Salmon with Lobster Mousse. 2012 was a great year for Tyrrell. In addition to her Lobster Festival win, she was also crowned the winner of the Damariscotta Pumpkin Festival Cooking Contest with her entry for Bûche de Pumpkin with Pumpkin Mousse, Caramel Buttercream Frosting (real buttercream!), garnished with Salted Pumpkin Seed Brittle, which she made look like leaves surrounding the “log.”

What’s next for Tyrrell? We hope to see her at next year’s competition as she tries for a three-peat! She said, “Numerous friends have encouraged me to open a restaurant. However, it just never happened. Given a different life path, I may have become a professional chef. Currently, my life consists of enjoying time with my children and grandkids, working full-time, as fortunately I found a decent job after our business closed, and cooking for family and friends for holidays, events, and occasional cooking competitions. Someday, maybe when I retire, I hope to write a cookbook.”

When Tyrrell writes her cookbook, we hope she includes this amazing, grand prize winning recipe for her Spectacular Seafood Cannelloni!

Spectacular Seafood Cannelloni
Tyrrell Hunter, Brunswick, ME

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Filling:

4 each 1 1/4 pound Maine lobsters, cold water cooked method (see below), shucked. After removing the tail vein, cut the tail and claws into 1/2- inch chunks, mix with knuckle and body meat. Save the shells and bodies of two lobsters but discard the tamale. Refrigerate all until needed.
1 pound Large Sea Scallops – with muscle removed
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (need total of 10 Tablespoons for complete recipe)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 Tablespoon onion, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, washed, dried and chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, washed, dried and chopped
1 Tablespoon sun-dried tomatoes – packed in oil, drained and chopped
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper

Sauce:

Lobster Shells & Bodies
3½ cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
8 Tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (divided in 2 each ½ cups)
½ cup Pecorino cheese, grated (if you can’t find Pecorino, you can increase the Parmesan by ½ cup)

Pasta Shells

12 each No-Boil Lasagna Noodles

Early preparation – even a day or two in advance:

Lobsters – Next time you cook lobsters, try starting them in cold, heavily salted water (about 2 Tablespoons for large pot). Turn on heat to high (we use a gas turkey fryer outside) and bring to a rolling boil. This should take about 20-30 minutes, depending on how many lobsters are in the pot. For this recipe, you want to take 4 lobsters out as soon as they come to a boil and plunge them into cold water to stop their cooking. You want the lobsters under-cooked because the meat will finish cooking in the Cannelloni. (We cook other lobsters to eat that evening by boiling those lobsters just two more minutes for a traditional boiled lobster dinner. We use the partially cooked lobster in a variety of recipes, such as this Cannelloni recipe, over the next few days. The beauty of the cold water method is the meat is very tender because all the lobsters cook at the same temperature and the lobsters weren’t shocked entering hot water.)

About 1 ½ to 2 hours prior to serving:

To Make the Lobster Sauce:

Thoroughly strain any liquid that may have accumulated from the lobster shells. In a large saucepan on medium-low heat, steep the milk and cream with the lobster shells (without tamale!) for ½ hour, stirring a few times. Strain, reserve the milk mixture, and set aside. Discard the shells and bodies.

In the same large saucepan over medium heat, melt 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter; then stir in ½ cup flour. Stir for 1 minute to slightly cook the flour. Stir in the nutmeg, salt, and white pepper. Whisk in the hot milk/cream mixture and whisk for 5-7 minutes until the sauce is thick and smooth. Stir in ½ cup Parmesan and set aside off heat.

To Prepare the Pasta Shells:

Soak the no-bake lasagna noodles in a large bowl of warm water for about 8-10 minutes or just until they are pliable so you can bend them easily. Take out of water, pat dry, cut each noodle to 5½-6 inches long, then stack between paper towels.

To Make the Filling: (Preheat oven to 375º while making the stuffing)

In a large sauté pan on medium-high heat, melt one Tablespoon of butter with one Tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper. Add scallops and onions to the pan and quickly cook the scallops about 20-30 seconds per side; add the minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds more. Cut the scallops into quarters or eights (about the same size of the lobster tail cut-up pieces; the scallops will not be completely cooked at this point). Stir in the lobster meat, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs, and sauté for one minute to combine flavors. Drain off any accumulated water/juices. To 2/3 cup of Lobster Sauce, stir in the anchovy paste. Then add this sauce mixture to the seafood and mix gently to combine. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Take pan off heat.

To Assemble and Bake Cannelloni:

In a 13 x 9-inch pan, pour 1½ cups of the sauce and spread to cover the bottom of the pan. Put ½ cup of the filling mixture across the short side (about 3 ½ inches) of a pasta shell and roll up, putting it seam-side down in the pan. Repeat with the other shells, leaving a little space between the shells. Pour the remaining sauce over all the shells, covering completely, and sprinkle the top with the remaining ½ cup Parmesan and ½ cup Pecorino. Dot with an additional Tablespoon of butter cut into small pieces. Cover pan and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20 minutes. If needed, lightly golden brown under the broiler just before serving. Suggest serving with a crisp salad and toasted garlic bread.

(Can be prepared in advance of final baking and refrigerated for up to 24 hours; let sit at room temperature for ½ hour, then bake for 30 minutes covered and 20 minutes uncovered, lightly brown under broiler if needed.)

Enjoy!

Serves 5-6.

August 2, 2013

Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest 2013

Another delicious time was had by all again this year at the annual Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest. Held Friday morning at the North Entertainment Tent on the Lobster Festival grounds, the event drew a record crowd. Despite the rain, the heat was on as this year’s five finalists entertained festival-goers and impressed judges with their unique seafood recipes.

This event is always a lively, fun time in great part to outstanding emcee Louise MacLellan-Ruf and volunteer Celia Crie Knight. Audience participation is encouraged as lobster lore is discussed and there is an opportunity to ask questions of the panelists as they prepare their dishes.

The five amateur chefs who shared their culinary talents this year were John Ruppert, Brunswick, ME; Adam B. Marcus, Owls Head, ME; Tyrrell Hunter, Brunswick, ME; Justin Libby, Tenants Harbor, ME; and Gerald Huang, Jersey City, New Jersey.

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Contestants and Judges (L to R): Adam B. Marcus, Allison Fishman Task, Lynn Archer, Melanie Beckett Hyatt, Louise MacLellan-Ruf, Gerald Huang, Tyrrell Hunter, John Ruppert, and Justin Libby.

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L to R: Allison Fishman Task, Tyrrell Hunter, Lynn Archer, Melanie Beckett Hyatt, Louise MacLellan-Ruf

This year’s winner (and her second year in a row taking the top prize), was Tyrrell Hunter for her Spectacular Seafood Cannelloni.

Judges were Lynn Archer, owner and chef at Brass Compass Cafe and Archer’s on the Pier in Rockland; Allison Fishman Task, host of the Yahoo! Original Program, Blue Ribbon Hunter; and Melanie Beckett Hyatt, editor of Maine Food & Lifestyle.

Check our blog in the coming days for complete stories, recipes, and images! As always, we had a great time covering and helping promote this special event!

July 30, 2013

Lobster Festival Cooking Contest 2013

One of the main events of the 66th Annual Maine Lobster Festival is happening this Friday, August 2. The Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest begins at 9am in the North Entertainment Tent on the festival grounds in Harbor Park, Rockland. Judging will begin at 11:30 a.m., with prizes announced and awarded around 12:30 p.m.

Due to some oversight, this event was not published in the supplement sent out this year in the Free Press or The Courier Publication. So we want to be sure this wonderful contest gets all the publicity it deserves! Information about the Cooking Contest is available on the Maine Lobster Festival website.

Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine is always a big supporter of this great event, posting all the contestants’  bios, recipes, and photos here on our Plating Up blog as well as on our Facebook page. See our link for past years’ coverage HERE.

Terrell_369112012 First Place Winner, Tyrrell Hunter, plating up her Seafood Hash with Lobster Hollandaise. Guess what? She’s returning this year to compete again!

First prize is $200, second prize is $175, and third prize is $150. The contest audience will have the opportunity to sample the prepared recipes in the cooking area and pick up the contestants’ recipes after the awards are presented. It is truly a fun gathering, showcasing wonderful amateur food talent from all over the country cooking up amazing dishes using Maine seafood.

Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine is always a big supporter of this great event, posting all the contestants’  bios, recipes, and photos here on our blog as well as on our Facebook page. See our link for past years’ coverage HERE.

We hope to see you at this year’s Seafood Cooking Contest!

June 13, 2013

Maine Lobster Festival Cooking Contest: Calling All Amateur Chefs

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FOR  IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  June 6, 2013

CONTACT:  Celia Knight 207-542-1192

Call for Maine Lobster Festival Cooking Contest

ROCKLAND — Amateur chefs are invited to sign up for the annual Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest. The contest is part of the 66th annual festival, which will be held July 31 through Aug. 4 at Harbor Park along the city’s waterfront.

Amateur chefs age 18 and older are welcome to compete for more than $500 in prize money during this popular event. A panel will pick five contestants and their recipes to participate in the contest. Selection is based on creativity, suitability of the seafood to the recipe and simplicity. The recipes can be any dish and must contain seafood found in Maine waters.

The contest will begin at 9 a.m., Friday, Aug. 2, in the North Entertainment Tent on the festival grounds. Judging will begin at 11:30 a.m., with prizes announced and awarded around 12:30 p.m. First prize is $200, second prize is $175, and third prize is $150.  Lead Sponsor for this event is Fiore Artisan Olive Oils and Vinegar.
The contest audience will have the opportunity to sample the prepared recipes in the cooking area and pick up the contestants’ recipes after the awards are presented.

For additional contest details and to download an application form, visit www.MaineLobsterFestival.com or contact Celia Knight by e-mail at celia@knightmarineservice.com or call 207-542-1192.

Applications will be considered until July 13. Selected contestants will be notified by July 20.

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.

August 5, 2012

Maine Lobster and Shrimp Summer Rolls: LobFest 2012 Finalist

Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest 2012 Finalist: Allison Stratis

Allison Stratis of Scarbourough, ME, impressed judges at this year’s Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest with her recipe for Maine Lobster and Shrimp Summer Rolls. She received this year’s second place prize.

Allison_Louise_crop_3463Allison Stratis (left) is interviewed by Master of Ceremonies Louise MacLellan.

Allison has great history with the Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest. She entered once before, back when she was 17 years old and the event was held at the old Rockland High School Home Economics room. Years later, she was back again, this time to share her easy appetizer recipe.

“I love Asian food and its wonderful flavors. Whenever I attend a party, this is the dish I take. It has become a favorite of all my friends,” Allison says. “These summer rolls are healthy and simple. The flavors are so fresh and just bursting. And the chili sauce is perfect for dipping.”

Made with bean thread noodles, avocado, fresh basil, and Maine lobster and shrimp, the nice thing about making Allison’s summer rolls is you can change them up in any way you’d like and make them your own. They are versatile and you can use up whatever you have on hand to make them, she says.

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Once you master the technique of rolling the spring roll wrappers, Allison says the rest of her recipe is simple. She sourced her fresh lobster and shrimp from Delano’s in Waldoboro.

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Allison says she loved cooking as a small child. Now she enjoys cooking and experimenting with fresh ingredients. “Basil is big in my kitchen,” she says. “My son loves pesto, so I make a lot of it.” Allison’s table showcased basil plants with a setting of wooden cutting board platters, whimsical lobster napkins, and sea glass. And her lobster claw headband added an appropriate element of fun.

Take Allison’s spring rolls to your next party!

Maine Lobster and Shrimp Summer Rolls
Allison Stratis, Scarborough

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1/2 pound fresh Maine lobster meat (I like to use whole claw meat)
20 fresh (frozen) Maine shrimp
1 ripe avocado
4 spring roll wrappers (rice pancakes)
1 pack bean thread noodles (comes in three pack, use one section)
12 large basil leaves
1 cup shredded iceburg lettuce
1/4 cup sweet chile sauce

Cook noodles according to package; cool. Chop lobster into small bite size pieces or leave whole if using claws. Cut avocado into slices.

Assemble all the ingredients in front of two plates. Take one spring roll wrapper and run under warm water until soft. Lay flat on one plate. At top of wrapper, place line of lobster meat, on top lay 5 shrimp, 3 basil leaves, 1/4 cup lettuce, 2-3 slices avocado and 1/4 cup noodles.

Starting at top of wrapper roll forward once, then fold up both ends and continue rolling until tight (like rolling a burrito). Place on other plate and repeat process until all 4 rolls are done.

Cut rolls in half and place on serving dish with sweet chile sauce and spoon. Eat and enjoy! Yum!

Appetizer serves 4-8.

August 4, 2012

Seafood Hash with Lobster Hollandaise: LobsterFest 2012 Winner

Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest 2012 Winner: Tyrrell Hunter

This year’s 1st Place Winner of the Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest is Tyrrell Hunter of Brunswick, ME. Tyrrell, a finalist in the 2011 cooking competition, calls this year’s win , “A lovely surprise. Really, I thought my dish might have been too simple,” she humbly says of her unusual recipe: “Seafood Hash with Lobster Hollandaise.”

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Tyrrell Hunter (left) accepts the cooking contest First Place Award from Event Director Celia Knight and Master of Ceremonies Louise MacLellan.

Tyrrell’s seafood dish combines Maine lobster, scallops, sweet and red potatoes. The “secret” to her recipe? A melding of her delicious lobster sauce and blend of herbs parsley, tarragon, thyme, and oregano.

“I received great feedback from my entry last year, which helped me make some different decisions regarding my entry this year. (See Tyrrell’s 2011 recipe entry here.) I featured salmon with a lobster “moose” last year, and this year I said, ‘Lobster all the way!’ This year’s recipe is so succulent with lots of lobster meat,” says Tyrrell. “Every ingredient is somehow bathed in the flavor of lobster.” Tyrrell’s husband, daughter, and granddaughters were all in attendance for her big win this year. They helped her tweak her recipe and balance her flavors with all their taste-testing in the weeks prior to the big event.

Tyrrell’s Seafood Hash with Lobster Hollandaise was inspired by her corned beef hash she loves to make at home. The lobster sauce, she says, is a great way to use up every bit of that wonderful Maine lobster, including the lobster bodies and swimmer legs. Just par-cook the lobsters, she recommends, for ease of use in recipes. Shucking the lobsters, she says, is really the only challenging part. During the contest, Tyrrell graciously offered shucking lessons to demonstrate to audience members how to do the job right.

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Red flowers and red and white checked placemats completed Tyrrell’s table setting. At her table, judges received generous portions of her Seafood Hash, which she served with complementary spicy Bloody Marys and a salad of radish and spicy greens. She said a pop of spicy flavors balances the texture and richness of her dish.

Here’s Tyrrell’s prize-winning recipe for you to try at your next brunch!

Seafood Hash with Lobster Hollandaise
Tyrrell Hunter, Brunswick, ME

Lobster Hash
4 Maine lobsters, cold water cooked method (see below), shucked, including all legs and body meat,
and after removing the tail vein, cut the tail and claws into one-inch chunks.
3 cups red potatoes, washed and cut into 1” pieces
2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
8 cups lobster stock (see below)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, washed, dried and chopped
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, washed, dried and chopped
½ teaspoon fresh thyme, washed, dried and chopped
½ teaspoon fresh oregano, washed dried and chopped
1 cup onion, rough chopped in ½” pieces
10 large sea scallops, cut in half horizontally, making 20 discs
Salt and pepper (preferably Kosher salt)

Lobster Hollandaise Sauce
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
5 each extra-large egg yolks, or 6 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup Lobster meat, finely chopped (use small legs and body meat from 4 lobsters, or leftover fully cooked lobster meat from the boiled lobster dinner)

Early preparation:

Lobsters – Next time you cook lobsters, try starting them in cold, heavily salted water. Turn on heat to high (we use a gas turkey fryer outside) and bring to a rolling boil; this should take about 20-30 minutes, depending on how many lobsters are in the pot. For this recipe, you want to take 4 lobsters out as soon as they come to a boil and plunge them into cold water to stop their cooking. We cook other lobsters to eat that evening by boiling those lobsters just two more minutes for a traditional boiled lobster dinner. We use the partially cooked lobster in a variety of recipes, such as this Hash recipe, over the next few days. The beauty of the cold water method is that all the lobsters cook at the same temperature and the meat is very tender because the lobsters weren’t shocked entering hot water.

Stock – Make a stock from the lobster carcasses and shells by adding 3 ribs celery, two quartered onions, 10 peppercorns to a stock pot and add 12 cups or enough water to cover; cook for 1½ hours. Strain when cooled; reserve 8 cups and refrigerate. Freeze the rest for another recipe.

Potatoes – Add all the red and sweet potatoes to 8 cups cold lobster stock with 2 teaspoons Kosher salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil and cook until barely fork tender (15-20 minutes total cooking time). Drain and rinse with cold water, pat dry and reserve; I do this early in the day and refrigerate.

One half hour before serving:

To a large frying pan, melt 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter with 1 Tablespoon canola oil. Add cooked potatoes and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; cook over medium heat until lightly browned and crispy on most sides, about 15-20 minutes total. In the meantime, chop herbs, slice scallops, and make the Lobster Hollandaise Sauce but don’t forget to stir the potatoes once in a while.

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Lobster Hollandaise Sauce – Add egg yolks, lemon juice, cayenne, and salt in a blender; pulse three or four times to combine. Melt and heat butter to slight boil (I use the microwave for this) and slowing pour the butter into the feed tube of the blender with the blender on medium speed. The sauce should thicken within 10-20 seconds. Stop and sample the sauce for taste and thickness. Blend a few more seconds if it needs more thickening. Add the chopped lobster meat, pulse once to combine and pour into a warm pitcher (a gravy boat works well). Cover to keep warm.

Take the potatoes out of the pan. Add the remaining butter and canola oil to the frying pan and sauté the chopped onions over medium heat until translucent. Add the scallops and sauté very quickly (about 30 seconds on each side); add the lobster meat chunks, all the herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste and cook for 2-3 minutes to heat the lobster. Add the potatoes and sauté for another 2-3 minutes to heat and combine the flavors. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

Serve the Seafood Hash with the Lobster Hollandaise Sauce on the side. I suggest serving a salad of spicy greens with radishes to balance the richness and texture of the main dish.

Serves 4 for entrée or 6 for brunch.

August 3, 2012

Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest 2012

Friday morning’s event at the North Entertainment Tent in Harbor Park, Rockland, was a delight for the senses. It was there that five amazing home chefs displayed their seafood cooking talents before a packed audience.

Winners_3803Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest Finalists from left to right are: Sheila Veronessa, Jodi Willey, Allison Stratis, Tyrrell Hunter, and Carol Bachofner

If you were fortunate enough to be in attendance and sample this year’s Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest entries, you know what a difficult decision judges faced. We look forward to covering this event each year, and have to note that each year this event just keeps growing in sheer foodie talent and spectator popularity. Click here for a link to last year’s winning recipe by Russ James.

The 2012 Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest was a resounding success. This year’s winner (and returning finalist from last year’s contest) Tyrrell Hunter of Brunswick, ME, impressed judges with her Seafood Hash with Lobster Hollandaise. Other finalists include Allison Stratis of Scarborough, ME; Carol Bachofner of Rockland, ME; Jodi Willey of Owl’s Head, ME; and Sheila Veronessa of Brooklyn, NY.

Be sure to check our blog in the upcoming days as we feature each finalist and her recipe! You will be wowed by this impressive array of culinary talent and creativity. Maybe you will even be inspired to get cooking on your own entry for next year’s contest!

The smells, the sounds, and the smiles were all a memorable part of the 65th Annual Maine Lobster Festival.

August 12, 2011

Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest 2011 Winner: Russ James

Winnah_5309Russ James accepts his First Place Awards from contest emcee Louise MacLellan

Retired policeman Russ James from Plainville, CT, took top honors in this year’s Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest. His recipe for “Pan Seared Sea Scallops & Lobster Medallions with Lemon Butter Sauce” wowed judges and audience members alike with its delicious taste and artful presentation.

Russ_5087Russ cooks up his lemon-butter sauce for his scallop and lobster medallions.

“I came up last year to the Lobster Festival and I was in the audience of the cooking contest. Coming to Maine and the festival is a wonderful way to spend a vacation. I enjoy cooking at home, and my wife encouraged me to enter the contest. She tried my recipe and said it was ‘the best thing I ever made,’ so I knew this was the recipe I’d make. I packed a cooler and brought all my ingredients with me and here I am.

LobsterTails_5183Lobster tails and…

Scallops_5200Scallops were the main ingredients in this contest winning dish.

“This is an easy, original recipe that is also very pretty. I enjoy trying out different reduction sauces at home. The reduction sauce for this recipe delicately enhances the seafood. It has a rich, mellow flavor. It is great on cod, scallops, lobster, and other white fish.”

Russ says this recipe is fun to plate and present. He is currently an artist, and spends time doing paintings in oil and drawings in pencil. One of his favorite subjects is lighthouses. He also works designing web pages. His finished dish is an artistic inspiration in its own right: it appears the lobster is offering up the bounty of the sea.

LobsterHeads_5152Russ used lobster heads in an artistic presentation of scallop and lobster dish.

“I would play with that lobster carapace and think of how to best use it on the plate. I saw the creative possibilities in my mind and envisioned the artistic presentation of that meal long before it got to the plate.”

JudgeTastes_5241It appears the lobster is offering up the bounty of the sea.

Upon learning he had won 1st place, Russ said, “I can’t believe it! Everyone was so busy dicing, mincing, and chopping all around me. Each finalist’s dish was amazing and I had very tough competition. But I had made this recipe about 50 times in the past few weeks to perfect it,” he laughs. “I could literally make it blindfolded at this point!”

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Russ’s table was set with striped placemats and sun napkin holders, sunflowers, and shells. And here is his recipe for you to create and plate at your table.

Pan Seared Sea Scallops & Lobster Medallions With Lemon Butter Sauce
Russ James, Plainville, CT

This fantastic Maine seafood combination is hard to beat. Can be served as an elegant appetizer or as a main entrée at your backyard picnic. It’s fun to make and is easy to serve. A great way to introduce inlanders to the classic rich flavor of our New England Ocean without the mess of nutcrackers and lobster bibs!

4 Maine Lobsters, (chix) 1-¼ pounds each
1-½ pounds of large sea scallops, fresh
1 bunch of fresh broccolini (small heads of broccoli will due)
Sea salt (in a small cup for pinching) & fresh crushed black pepper in another cup
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ pound of butter

Put lobsters in large covered pot. Add 2 inches of water, just enough to steam them. When steam comes out, cook for 20 minutes and remove from heat. Spill lobsters out into sink and spray with cold water, removing white yogurt looking stuff (lobster blood). Set them aside for cooling.

While lobsters are cooking, spread out a 5-sheet length of paper towels. Lay sea scallops atop the towels. Lay another 5-sheet length atop the scallops and lightly press down to dry the scallops, top and bottom. Get them as dry as possible. Dust the tops and bottoms with salt and black pepper.

Pre-heat large saucepan until the edge is too hot to touch with the side of your hand. Add olive oil and one small cube of butter until melted. One by one place scallops into pan. Do not overcrowd pan! It may take several separate pan cookings to do them all. Flip them around with tongs as they become brown. When they’re done remove, set aside, and sear the next batch. You may have to add more oil and butter to the pan should it become dry.

Don’t overcook the scallops! Here’s how to tell when done: Make a tight fist with your left hand. Use the index finger on your right hand to poke the soft meaty part of your left hand, just below the thumb. Tap the scallops with the tong. If they feel like that soft part of your hand, THEY’RE DONE! Remember, they will continue cooking for a short time after being removed from the heat. Set all cooked scallops in a covered bowl to stay warm and moist.

In the meantime, place a small steamer pot on to boil. Cover and steam your broccolini. Lobsters will now be cool to handle. Remove claws and pull lobsters breastplate out. Pick the meat out of small legs and thoracic shell pockets. Use a spoon to scrape the tomalley (green stuff) and red roe out of lobster. Set the tomalley and roe aside in separate dish. Crack open claw and remove meat, also set this aside.

Twist the tail section from the body. Use kitchen scissors to cut along the length of the underside of tail shell, front to back. Press down on shell edges and it will crack open. Pull chunk of tail meat out and set out on cutting board. Make a shallow slice down the bottom center of tail meat. Remove and discard the dark strand, especially where it thickens at the tip of the tail. Press tail meat flat on cutting board and slice it into crosswise pieces, making thin round medallions, about ¼ of an inch thick.

Use kitchen scissors to cut each of the 4 carapace shells. Trim along the edges to make a wider opening and trim the bottom so that it sits nicely upon the plate!

Plating:
Intermingle scallops and lobster medallions piled high in center of plate. Crumble tomalley atop the pyramids. If you were lucky enough to have found red roe, use this as the crowning glory on each mound of succulent seafood. Place the carapace, standing, as if to be offering its bounty. Stuff one broccolini stalk into the carapace that delicately flowers out atop seafood, looking like a spray of sea kelp. Lastly, drizzle lemon butter sauce (see separate instructions) over the entire seafood medley, until it makes a golden pool of deliciousness in the plate!

Serves 4.

I made a delicate white butter sauce from some common things found around the kitchen. It starts with white Riesling wine and shallots, and ends with cream sherry, lemon, and butter. Once you try it you’ll find it easy to make, and delicious with any seafood. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the rich mellow flavor. One word of warning: This delicious topping has a “one time only” shelf life. In other words, this ambrosia cannot be refrigerated. After that, it separates and does not taste the same. While it’s warm try it on cod, scallops, lobster or other white fish to add the air of eloquence to any party.

Lemon-Butter Sauce
1 cup Riesling wine
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon white sugar
¼ cup cream sherry
½ fresh lemon, squeezed and juiced
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold butter cut into small ¼ inch cubes

Pre-heat large saucepan and add wine, lemon juice, and shallots.

Use medium heat to bring mixture to mildly bubbling simmer. Stir occasionally until mix reduces to about 75% of original liquid.

Turn heat to lowest setting available on your stove. After mix reduces, use a whisk to mix the heavy cream into the reduction. Add 4 or 5 small cubes of butter to the pan and gently “rub” them into mix with whisk. After they’ve slowly melted into the hot reduction, add another 4 or 5 cubes and repeat the process until all the butter is melted. The cold butter is used to flavor and cool the mix.

Turn off the heat and add remaining ingredients: White pepper, sugar, and cream sherry. Gently whisk the mixture until it takes on a pure ivory white color.

Let sit for 2 or 3 minutes, and then ladle the reduction atop any seafood.

Serves 4.

JudgesTable_5245The judges sample Russ James’ dish as the audience lines up for a taste.

August 11, 2011

Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest 2011: Finalist Sue Jobes

Return finalist Sue Jobes of Davie, FL, says it’s always great coming to Maine, any time of year. She and her husband, Bob, had planned a vacation around this time of year, and her entry for “Lobster and Crab Galette” brought her back to Rockland and the Maine Lobster Festival when she learned she had become a finalist again this year. “The pressure’s still there, but it’s so much fun, too,” she adds. “I’m glad to be back!”

Interview_5093Multi-tasking: Sue Jobes prepares her Galettes while being interviewed.

Last year Sue’s recipe for “Maine Lobstah Puff” won her top honors.

This year’s recipe earned Sue runner-up honors. “This dish is easy to make, a kind of free-form pie. I tested it with salmon, and it was delicious that way, too. I decided to use Maine lobster and crab as the filling for my contest entry. When I make this dish, it is so fragrant. You just inhale the local ingredients when you’re cooking. The sauce, the seasonings, the Maine seafood… it’s wonderful!”

CookieCutter_5095

Shaping_5097

Before-After_5214Before and after finishing in the oven.

Some of Sue’s meal is prepared on the stove, like the sauce with the seasonings and sherry, and the rest is finished off in the oven. “This recipe comes together very nicely. I recommend serving it with your favorite salad or vegetable. My husband loved it when he tried it and had already declared it a winner before I even got here!”

Trio_5264Plated up, and ready for the Judges to sample.

Sue’s “Lobster and Crab Galette” utilizes ingredients from local purveyors. Olive oils from Rockland’s Fiore, herbs from Fresh Off the Farm, and Maine lobster and crabmeat from Michael Salmon of the Hartstone Inn. Wine from Cellar Door completed her meal.

A table setting inspired from the sea included blue crab and red lobster decorations, red napkins, and a seafood themed tablecloth.

Judge_5268Sue Jobes’ Galette on the table and being sampled by a contest judge.

You’ll want to make Sue Jobe’s savory recipe for “Lobster and Crab Galette” at home. Here’s how!

Lobster and Crab Galette
Sue Jobes, Davie, FL

8 ounces fresh Maine lobster meat
8 ounces Maine crabmeat
1 box prepared pie dough
2 eggs (1 egg for seafood mixture and 1 egg yolk for the dough)
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
½ teaspoon seafood seasoning (such as Old Bay seasoning)
2-3 dashes of hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
¼ cup finely diced celery
¼ finely diced shallot
¼ cup unsalted crackers, smashed
¼ cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 large (or 2 small) anchovy fillets
2 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 Tablespoons finely chopped basil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1-2 Tablespoons sherry (or chicken stock)
1 Tablespoon water (for dough)
1 lemon (for garnish)
Salt and pepper
Topping: Combine the following items and spread a small dollop on top of seafood before placing in oven.
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon seafood seasoning
1-2 Tablespoons cream
¼ teaspoon paprika

Preheat oven to 375˚.

Chop celery and shallot and set aside. Chop garlic and set aside. Chop parsley and basil. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add the celery and anchovy fillets and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the shallots and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until translucent. Add the chopped garlic. When you smell the garlic fragrance, pour in the sherry. Let the sherry reduce until almost dry. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the herbs. Set aside and let ingredients cool.

Chop lobster into ¼-inch to ½-inch pieces.

Combine 1 egg and mayonnaise. Whisk until smooth. Add the seafood seasoning, cheese, and cracker crumbs. Stir until combined.

Mix seafood (lobster and crab) and egg mixture. Toss gently to combine. Add the cooked vegetables/her mixture and combine. Set aside.

Unroll the pie dough. Roll out the dough to half the thickness. Using a bowl (or round pastry cutter), make 4 circles of dough, 5-6 inches in diameter.

Place ¼ of the seafood mixture in the center of each dough circle. Bring the pie dough up and pleat around the seafood mixture.

Whisk one egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water. Using a pastry brush, brush dough with egg. Spread a dollop of the topping on top of seafood.

Bake for 20 minutes at 375˚. Remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

Serves 4.

Award_5302Sue receives her award as a finalist and runner-up in the Seafood Cooking Contest.

August 10, 2011

Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest 2011: Finalist Michael Sciacchetano

Seafood Cooking contestant Michael Sciacchetano, from Atlanta, GA, says he came to Maine to beat the oppressive heat wave in the south. He’d been to Bar Harbor and Camden in the past and thought he’d spend some time vacationing in Rockland during this Maine visit. He found out about the Maine Lobster Festival and decided to enter this year’s cooking contest. His recipe entry, Lobster Étouffée, has a Cajun flair.

Michael_5275Michael Sciacchetano with his plated up Maine Lobster Étouffée.

“This dish, usually made with crawfish, was an inspiration. I decided that the texture and flavor of Maine lobster would lend itself nicely. I think this recipe is unique,” says Michael.

StirRue_5116Stirring and stirring, making the roux blend properly is the key to this dish.

Michael also says he likes the fun of the “trial and error” aspect of cooking. “I moved from New Orleans to Atlanta and those big, bold flavors I was missing in the real Cajun food prompted my first experiments in the kitchen. Because I couldn’t get those flavors, I had to make them at home if I wanted them.

Dish'n'Beers_5285A New Orleans beer is the proper accompaniment to this Cajun inspired dish.

“This étouffée is not complicated, you just need to spend a little time with it. The roux needs your attention at the stove. You start with flour, oil, or butter, then you add your vegetables: onion, celery, and bell pepper. Next you season with some hot sauce, pepper, and Cajun spice and you pay attention to stirring it for desired color and consistency. Gotta love the hot sauce!” says Michael.

JudgeSamples_5290Diggin’ in to Michael’s Lobster Étouffée.

After making this for the first time, Michael says he knew this was “it,” the recipe he wanted to enter into the contest. He plated it up for judges at the contest along with some New Orleans Dixie Beer. His table had a Mardi Gras theme, complete with purple, green, and gold beads and masks as the centerpiece decorations.

JudgesAtTable_5293The judges enjoy the New Orleans party at Michael’s table.

Michael Schiacchetano, when not entering Seafood Cooking Contests far from home, is the President of ML Healthcare.

Make Michael’s delicious Lobster Étouffée for yourself. We have the recipe here!

Lobster Étouffée
Michael Sciacchetano, Atlanta, GA

3  1½-pound Maine lobsters cut into small bite size pieces
Cajun trinity (onion, red bell pepper, celery)
2 teaspoons mixed spices (typically these spices are made in bulk for the year)
1 can stewed tomatoes (optional)
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
½ cup light brown roux (or use equal parts melted butter/flour)
2 cups chicken stock
½ teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon red chili pepper
1 teaspoon celery salt

Finely chop the vegetables. Boil lobsters 7-9 minutes, or until bright red.

Melt 1 stick of butter and 2 cups flour until roux is light brown…usually about 15 minutes; constant stir or will burn.

Cook vegetables in 3 Tablespoons butter for 5 minutes. Add Cajun spices, celery salt, basil, and chili pepper. Cook 2-3 minutes more.

Add vegetables and chicken stock to the roux. Cook for 20 minutes on low heat. Stir occasionally. Add lobster and finely chopped green onions; cook for 3-4 minutes.

Serve over steamed rice.

Serves 4-6.

Award_5299Michael receives his reward as a finalist in the Seafood Cooking Contest.

August 9, 2011

Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest 2011: Finalist Tyrrell Hunter

Tyrrell Hunter of Brunswick, ME, says she has done a lot of event cooking and cooking for gourmet church suppers. “I’ve spent many years cooking! I saw the call for entrants for this contest in one of our local papers in Brunswick and I came up with a couple recipes which I tested. My “Salmon with Maine Lobster “Moose” was the one I decided to make. It is quick, easy, and delicious. It looks elegant and makes an impressive plate.”

Tyrrell-Hunter_5035Tyrrell Hunter prepares her recipe for the Seafood Cooking Contest

This was Tyrell’s first visit to the Maine Lobster Festival, but she says she cooks lobster at home at least 4 times a summer. “This recipe idea came about because I had leftover corn and lobster. I only made this recipe once, and everyone loved it. I enjoy testing out a lot of original recipes at home.”

SalmonPrep_5215Salmon fillets with a generous helping of Lobster “Moose” ready for tasting.

The combination of shallots, tarragon, garlic, Maine lobster meat, Maine corn, and cheddar cheese give this “moose” mixture a special flavor. Tyrrell recommends spreading this mixture over some nice broiled salmon fillets for a very special seafood dinner. A salad with fresh peas and croutons along with a tarragon vinaigrette complement the meal.

PlatedUp_5254Salmon with Lobster “Moose” plated up and ready for the judges.

Tyrrell’s plated up her “Salmon with Maine Lobster Moose” with nasturtium flowers. Her table was decorated with red gladiolas, lilies, and green and pink flowered placemats and matching napkins.

Table_5063Tyrrell’s table setting, ready to serve the judges.

When she’s not busy in the kitchen, Tyrrell is the manager of a medical equipment store.

Try making her “Salmon with Maine Lobster Moose” at home. You’ll love it!

Salmon with Maine Lobster “Moose”
Tyrrell Hunter, Brunswick, ME

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons shallots, minced
2 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated (plus some lemon slices for garnish)
2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, chopped (plus some fresh tarragon for garnish)
1¼ pound Maine lobster meat, cooked and roughly chopped
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
¾ cup mild cheddar cheese–Cabots!
1½ cup mayonnaise
¾ cup Maine corn on the cob, cooked and cut off the cob
Salt and pepper
6  6-ounce salmon fillets, skinned

In a frying pan on medium/low heat, sauté shallots in melted butter until translucent (2-4 minutes); add garlic, lemon zest, tarragon, and sauté another minute. Add 1 pound of the cooked lobster meat, preferably the tails, and the Tabasco sauce. Sauté for another minute to blend flavors. Let the “moose” mixture cool for 10 minutes.

In a food processor, add the mayo, the lobster mixture, and the cheese and blend until smooth. Chop the remaining ¼ pound of lobster meat into smaller pieces (pea-sized) and stir it into the blended mixture. Stir in the corn and add salt and pepper to taste.

Use aluminum foil on a broiler and broil the salmon fillets 2-4 minutes on both sides (depending on the fillet thickness). Spread “moose” mixture over each fillet and broil for another 1-2 minutes, until lightly golden. Garnish with lemon slice and chopped tarragon and serve immediately.

Serves 6.

_MJudges_5258The judges sample Tyrrell’s contest recipe meal.

August 8, 2011

Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest 2011: Finalist Carol Bachofner

Rockland, Maine, native Carol Bachofner says a visit to last year’s Maine Lobster Festival prompted her entry into this year’s cooking contest. “I just love food, and I checked out the cooking contest last year and thought, ‘Why don’t I enter?’ ” With a lot of support from friends who lined the front row of this year’s audience, Carol made a fine showing with her recipe for “Maineuh’s Breezy Lobster Curry Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Crispy Crab Topping.”

Carol_5148Carol Bachofner with her Maine Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese creation.

“I love to cook, and I tend to get creative and inventive in the kitchen. And I believe in lobster two times a week, whether you need it or not! When I pick my lobster, there is absolutely nothing left, just the shells,” Carol emphasizes. “I thought that Maine lobster and Maine cheeses would be delicious together, and they certainly are.”

Carol’s Maine ingredients were locally sourced: cheese from State of Maine Cheese Company in Rockport (Sharp Cheddar, Jack, Jarlsberg, and Parmesan), Kate’s Homemade Butter, and Maine lobster and crab from Jess’s Market in Rockland. “It’s very important to me to support our local resources,” Carol says, “and they are some of the finest available anywhere.”

LobsterMac_5252Carol’s Maine Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese ready for the judges to sample!

Carol, who is a poet, created handmade books with original lobster poems inside as place settings for her judges’ table. The judges got to take those home with them. “People who come to events like these like to have something to take away with them as a momento, a memory,” she states. Her table was complete with shells, lovely mermaid sculptures, ocean blue place mats and lime green napkins.

PoetryBook_5139A handmade poetry book was included with each dish for the judges.

Served with her lobster mac and cheese for judges was an accompanying salad with her own homemade vinaigrette. Carol grows purple basil in her garden which she uses to make her dressing. A refreshing blueberry wine spritzer made with chilled Maine blueberry wine, Polar seltzer, and lemon finished her meal.

Table_5067Carol’s table was a work of art on its own.

Try Carol’s Lobster Curry Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Crispy Crab Topping at home. It’s sure to become a family favorite!

Maineuh’s Breezy Lobster Curry Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Crispy Crab Topping
Carol Bachofner, Rockland, ME

2 16 ounce packages Dreamfield’s Rotini, cooked al dente, drained
½ pound each: sharp white cheddar, Jarlsberg, and Jack cheeses, sliced
2  1¼ pound lobsters, steamed and picked
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon dry sherry
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard
12 ounces evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 375˚ (raise to 400˚ for final 10 minutes of cooking time). Prepare pasta to al dente texture. Butter a 2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish.

In a large glass mixing bowl, combine cooked pasta with chunks of steamed, cooled lobster meat. Beginning with macaroni, layer baking dish with macaroni and each cheese in turn: Jarlsberg first, followed by white cheddar, ending with Jack.

In a glass mixing bowl, combine evaporated milk with sherry, curry, butter, and dry mustard. Pour this mixture evenly over the top of the mac/cheese layers, cover with foil and bake at 375˚ for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Remove from oven and top with pre-made crispy crab topping (made while casserole is in its first cooking time to preserve freshness.)

Crispy Crab Topping
8 ounces fresh Maine crabmeat, crumbled
1 cup coarse bread crumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons butter, melted

Combine all the dry ingredients first, then toss with melted butter and spread over the casserole. Return uncovered casserole to oven and bake for 10 minutes at 400˚ (or until topping crisps).

Pair with Berry Wonderful Salad (mixed greens, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, and walnut pieces) and Purple Basil Balsamic Vinegar and olive oil dressing (or any homemade or purchased balsamic vinaigrette).

Serves 6.

Award_5301Carol receives her award as a finalist in the 2011 Seafood Cooking Contest.