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April 30, 2014

Spinach Brownie

I am just back from the market with bunches of lovely fresh spring spinach in tow. Looking for a new way to use them, I went to allrecipes.com and found an interesting take on a spinach “bite”; call it a brownie if it makes your kids like spinach more. Trust me, your cocktail guests will like it as well as an appetizer.

Quick and easy, this recipe makes its own crust.

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image courtesy of allrecipes.com

Spinach Brownie
Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro

1 large bunch of fresh spinach, washed well, drained, and quickly steamed. Chop and squeeze excess water out.
1 onion, chopped
1 cup white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1 stick butter, melted
Freshly ground pepper and a bit of nutmeg
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375 °. Sauté onion and add to chopped spinach.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Stir in eggs, milk, and butter. Mix in spinach mixture and cheese.

Place in a prepared glass brownie pan and place in preheated oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cool before cutting.

Makes 18 bite-sized appetizers.

Spring has arrived somewhere and is heading our way!

Cheers form Laura Cabot and staff

November 25, 2013

Beef Ribs

Okay. Chilly weather is upon us. It’s time to get hearty in the kitchen and break out the “stick to your ribs” ribs!

Here is a bangin’ recipe for beef ribs that had all the guests at my sister Lynn’s Autumn dinner party, held at the Widow McCrea B&B in Frenchtown, NJ, begging for more!

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image: ifood.tv

THE RUB
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup Emeril’s “essence” seasoning
2 Tablespoons chipotle powder
1 Tablespoon ancho powder
2 Tablespoons garlic powder, and 2 Tablespoons dried onion
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper

THE SAUCE
1/2 can tomato sauce, smaller size
1 Tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup honey
Just enough water to loosen

Cook over a low heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until a bit reduced, maybe an hour.

THE BEEF
Go to a good butcher and get meat beef ribs from local cattle. It’s worth it.

THE PROCEDURE
Wash and pat dry the racks of ribs. The night before, rub racks generously with the spice rub. Refrigerate overnight wrapped tightly in Saran wrap.

Prior to cooking, wrap the ribs in foil, leaving the Saran wrap intact. Place ribs on cooking trays.

Set oven to 225°. Cook low and slow for six hours.

Finish on the grill, minus wrappings, basting with the sauce, serving extra on the side.

Per serving size, two big beef ribs per guest should be ample. We had bacon cornbread and braised kale to round out a truly delicious meal. Be ready for raves!

Thanks to sister Lynn for this recipe!

October 22, 2013

Hot and Savory Sautéed Swiss Chard

When rummaging in my garden for dinner, I tend to reach for kale over the Swiss chard. I think that’s because I never really came upon the right flavor combo that seemed over- the- top- delicious. Well, those days are over. The combination of spicy hot pepper flakes, pink salt, olive oil, and the zip of lemon juice send me to the moon. Plus chard is a powerhouse of vitamins A, C, and K as well as providing a wealth of minerals like iron and potassium.

It couldn’t be quicker or easier. So if your garden resembles mine and has a big stand of rainbow chard…take charge of the chard with this healthy recipe….

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image by Laura Cabot

Hot and Savory Sautéed Swiss Chard

Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro

2 large bunches of Swiss chard, trimmed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
Juice of one lemon
Himalayan pink salt and fresh ground pepper

Melt butter and oil together in a heavy skillet. Add garlic and red pepper. Add the chopped chard, a little salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 5-9 minutes.

Add the lemon juice, stirring and correct seasonings.

Enjoy as a side to a vegetarian meal or complements rich, roasted meats nicely too.

Serves 4.

HAPPY FALL FROM YOUR FRIENDS AT LAURA CABOT CATERING!

October 13, 2013

Maine Mussel Chowder with Colorful Vegetables

While many Maine chowders look alike, this gorgeous brew has eye appeal to add to its gustatory delight. Age this one for at least a day for best results!

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image by Scott Dorrance

Mussel Chowder with Colorful Vegetables
Brooke Dojny, Dishing Up Maine

2 cups water
1 cup bottled clam juice
4 pounds Maine mussels, scrubbed and debearded
6 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons olive oil
4 cups peeled, diced all-purpose potatoes (about 1½ pounds)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 large shallot, chopped
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups heavy cream

Bring the water and clam juice to a boil in a large pot. Add the mussels, return to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, covered, until the shells open, about 4-6 minutes depending on size. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a bowl, discarding any that do not open. Set aside 16 mussels in their shells and shuck the rest. Pour the mussel broth into a large glass measure and set aside to allow any sediment to settle.

Heat the butter and oil in a large soup pot. Add the potatoes, salt, and pepper, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, leeks, bell pepper, and shallot, and cook, covered, over low heat until all the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the wine, raise the heat to high, and cook briskly until reduced by about one-third, about 3 minutes.

Add the reserved mussel broth, leaving any sediment behind, and add the cream and the shucked mussels. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes to blend flavors.

Add the reserved mussels in their shells. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. (The chowder is best when allowed to age for at least 4 hours, or overnight.)

Reheat gently. Ladle into bowls, making sure that each serving contains at least 2 mussels intheir shells, and serve.

Yields about 2 quarts (6 main-course servings).

October 10, 2013

Pickled Pears

Pear trees seem to have on years and off years. This must be an “on” year. I’ve noticed many pear trees really laden with fruit, and I had the good fortune to get the green light from a friend with two prolific pear trees recently. I’ve had a huge box of pears on my porch steps for a week now and I have finally decided what to do with them…pickled pears! Perfect with a cheese plate or on a holiday spread.

I have a tried and true recipe from “a guy who pickles” in Friendship, Bob Stafford…and here it is! The recipe was handed down from Bob’s Great Grandmother, Ida. It’s from the 1870’s and sure to please.

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image: growitcookitcanit.com

Pickled Pears
Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro

30 Seckel pears
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon allspice
1 ounce ginger root, peeled and chopped
1 pint cider vinegar
3 1/2 pounds brown sugar (Ida’s recipe called for dark, but I prefer light brown sugar)
Whole cloves

Peel the pears and stud with whole cloves. Bring to a boil all the above. Add peeled pears and cook until tender. Add pears and syrup to cover into Mason jar or larger glass gallon jar.

Can as usual or these will keep for quite a while under refrigeration.

Makes four quart jars of pickles.

Note: Spears Farm Stand in Waldoboro has lots of pickling supplies and large one gallon glass jars, which are my preference.

October 8, 2013

Apple-Maple Salad Dressing

This is a good basic recipe for fruit-based dressings. You may experiment with your own choice of fruits, but this combination of real Maine maple syrup and apples is perfect for fall salads and as a marinade. This dressing will keep for several weeks under refrigeration.

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image: mainelyapples.com

Apple-Maple Salad Dressing
Michael Salmon, Hartstone Inn, Camden

½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup chopped vidalia onion
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1½ Tablespoons real Maine maple syrup
2 small Cortland apples, cored and coarsely chopped

Combine all ingredients listed above and mix in a blender until smooth.

Makes about 1½ cups.

September 26, 2013

Pumpkin Butter

If you like to shop the farm stands, Autumn may be one of your favorite times of year. Bins of every kind of pumpkin, squash, and gourd offer their unique personalities for our culinary and decorating pleasure.

I’ve tried cooking down sugar pumpkins for pie with satisfactory results, but actually prefer a dry squash such as buttercup for pie making. Every year I make a batch of pumpkin butter and, at the end of the day, I must say that my usual routine is to go with canned pumpkin for pumpkin butter, even after looking at all the farm stand beauties. Here is my recipe and it’s a quick and “no fail” deal….

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image: sweets.seriouseats.com

Pumpkin Butter
Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro

1  29-ounce can of pumpkin purée
11/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup of cider
2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon clove
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
Juice of a half a lemon, added last

Combine all ingredients except the lemon juice in a heavy bottom pot. Bring to a simmer and, stirring often, cook for 30-40 minutes until it is thickened. Let it cool and add the lemon juice, adjusting the spices if you so desire. Keeps in the fridge near forever. While this spicy and delicious butter keeps well under refrigeration, it is not safe to can. I love it on toast. It’s the essence of Autumn all year long!

September 24, 2013

Roasted Cod with Stone Fruit Salad

A simple ingredients list makes this recipe easy to shop for and prepare. Delicious seafood dish in a few easy steps!
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Roasted Cod with Stone Fruit Salad
fitness.com

2 pounds cod fillets, each about 3/4 to 1 inch thick, cut into 4 equal pieces
2
medium nectarines, pitted and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 cup pitted, halved green olives
1/2 cup halved, thinly sliced red onion
2 Tablespoons
chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 450°. Place cod in a baking dish; drizzle with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roast 3/4-inch-thick pieces for 5 minutes, 1-inch-thick pieces for 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine nectarines, olives, onion, 1 Tablespoon parsley and 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a medium bowl. Spoon fruit mixture over cod and roast 5 minutes more, or until fruit is just warmed through and fish is opaque. Sprinkle with remaining parsley.

Serves 4.

September 4, 2013

Baked Apples with Cherries and Almonds

This recipe makes a delightful dessert! Baked Apples with Cherries and Almonds are also perfect alongside roast pork or pork tenderloin. For details and a link to the recipe, click on the image below.

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image and recipe from mayoclinic.com

September 2, 2013

Arugula with Orzo and Garden Tomatoes

Here is a delicious, one-dish dinner from thekitchn.com. If you like arugula, you’ll love this recipe! For a link to the complete instructions, click on the image below.

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image and recipe from thekitchn.com

August 18, 2013

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Cherry Tomato

Cauliflower is one of the “white foods” I embrace. As a diabetic, white bread, cakes and cookies, mashed potatoes, etc. are verboten. But cauliflower is a personal favorite of mine, especially the orange “cheddar” variety. It is excellent roasted, in pasta, as a crudité, in quiche, with a cheese sauce or mashed as a potato substitute…you get the picture.

Not many local farmers seem to grow cauliflower, maybe it is not cost effective, the finished product being quite a bit smaller than the super market variety. But I found several heads of it recently at School House Farm, a little gem of a farm stand in Warren on Rt 1. I took them home and made the most phenomenal pasta dish, and here it is! If you’ve never had roasted cauliflower, you will be amazed at the depth of flavor roasting it achieves!

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image from cauliflowerrecipes.co.uk

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Cherry Tomato

Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro

1 large or two smaller heads of cauliflower
2 cups of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 pound bucatini pasta or a whole wheat substitution
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
Parsley chiffonade and toasted bread crumbs for garnish; Parmesan is optional

Toss the two veggies in oil and season with salt. Roast the cauliflower and tomatoes together in the oven until nutty and somewhat soft.

Cook the pasta al dente and drain, reserving a bit of pasta water.

Sauté the garlic in a large skillet, add the roasted veggies and cooked pasta, tossing and seasoning with salt and pepper. Add a little pasta water and toss all until nicely glazed.

Top with garnishes as you choose and enjoy this dish with a healthy side salad.

Serves 4.

August 11, 2013

Roast Lemon Balm Chicken

Working in my gardens at this time of the year is always a pleasure when I am near the lemon balm. Brushing against it releases the fresh scent of lemony goodness.

A member of the mint family, it has ridged leaves and likes to self seed if it is happy. Mine must be happy because now I have it everywhere! This fact lead me to consider new ways to use it rather than just in teas and tinctures. Here is a delicious recipe I came up with for Roast Lemon Balm Chicken. It works on the grill also, but you must use skin on chicken. If grilling, make a compound butter using the herb and slather it on under the skin of the chicken. Let it rest for a day under refrigeration to let flavors marry, then grill.

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image: sustainablescoop.com

Roast Lemon Balm Chicken
Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro

1 average size free range roasting bird, rinsed and patted dry, truss and salt the interior
1/2 stick of softened butter
1 cup of finely chopped lemon balm leaves
1 teaspoon sage leaves, chiffonade
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine herbs and seasonings with the softened butter to create a compound butter.

Loosen the bird’s skin, being careful not to tear it.

Slather the butter compound under the breast skin and everywhere you can. Salt and pepper the skin.

Roast in a preheated 350° oven for an hour and a half or until done per the weight. It should have a crisp skin, fragrant with lemon and sage. The drumstick moves easily in its joint when it is properly cooked.

Enjoy with friends and a nice garden salad, maybe a big pile of steamed Romano beans on the side. Ahhh….

Serves 4-6.

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!

July 22, 2013

Potato Salad with Lemon, Dill, and Smoked Salmon

Summer gatherings are made special occasions when everyone shares their favorite side dishes. Potato salad is always expected to make an appearance. Instead of the usual, why not make yours a bit outstanding with this recipe for Potato Salad with Lemon, Dill, and Smoked Salmon? Surely a crowd pleaser!

For a link to the recipe for Potato Salad with Lemon, Dill, and Smoked Salmon, click on the image below.

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image and recipe from culinate.com