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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 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.

April 18, 2013

Warm Dandelion Greens Salad

With a spring chill lingering in the air before the arrival of May flowers, chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier suggest their Warm Dandelion Greens Salad. The salad is a great way to take advantage of early spring produce, while still providing a warm, hearty side dish to any meal.

Dandelion greens are not always for sale in the supermarket but you’ll frequently see them in season or at the farmers’ market. They do seem a bit intimidating because they’re in these big, unwieldy, long bunches, but just chop them up to get a real treat. They have a unique flavor not unlike Belgian endive or radicchio. We think this is a great technique for preparing any kind of warm salad. Serve as a start to dinner or as a side to a main.–Chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier (markandclarkrestaurants.com)

DandelionGreens
Warm Dandelion Greens Salad
recipe and image courtesy of Chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, Arrows Restaurant and MC Perkins Cove, Ogunquit, ME

1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic cloves
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup dried currants
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
10 cups (about 3 ounces) dandelion greens, washed and chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a nonreactive saucepan, make the vinaigrette by mixing the onion, garlic, rosemary, chili flakes, sugar, currants, vinegar, and canola oil. Heat the vinaigrette over medium heat until just hot. Toast the pine nuts in a dry sauté pan over medium heat until just lightly brown. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and toss in the dandelion greens to warm, about 2 minutes. Toss the greens in the vinaigrette and top with the pine nuts. Serve at once.

Yields 6 servings.

January 3, 2013

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Technically, you can’t call a cup of cocoa “hot chocolate,” because cocoa is made from cocoa powder and hot chocolate from a hunk of chocolate. Fat content figures into it, too. But do we care?

Make this good hot drink with Mexican overtones and see what people call it when they ask for refills.

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image: loveandhomemaderecipes.com

Mexican Hot Chocolate
Karyl Bannister, Cook & Tell

2 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of salt
3 cups milk
1 heaping teaspoon grated fresh orange zest
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream, for garnish

Melt the chocolate with 1 cup water in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Gradually stir into the melted chocolate. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange zest, almond extract, and vanilla.

Return the pan to low heat and warm gently; do not boil. Using a stick blender or an eggbeater, beat the hot chocolate until frothy. Pour into cups or mugs and garnish with whipped cream.

Serves 4-6.

December 19, 2012

Oyster Stew

Every Christmas Eve, we fix a sumptuous soup dinner, starring the elegant oyster. Yes, there’s cream and butter. The road to sumptuosity is paved with cream and butter. Come on! It’s Christmas!

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image from tasteofhome.com

Christmas Eve Oyster Stew
Karyl Bannister, Cook & Tell

4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
3 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 pint shucked fresh oysters, drained (reserve the liquid)
2 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 cups light cream or milk

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and saute the celery, bell pepper, and onion until the onion is limp and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the oysters, reduce the heat to low, and saute for 3-4 minutes, or until their edges curl.

Stir in the reserved oyster liquid, stock or broth, and salt and white pepper to taste and heat gently. Heat the cream or milk in a separate small saucepan, then add it to the oyster mixture.

Don’t expect the stew to be thick. We’re talking oysters and cream here, and we like it fashionably thin. Serve hot.

Serves 4.

October 22, 2012

Scalloped Salmon

From Cook & Tell’s portfolio of comfy, friendly standard family recipes comes this perfect weeknight supper dish. Glazed carrots, scallions and peas make nice accompaniments.

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Scalloped Salmon
Karyl Bannister, Cook & Tell

Butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 2 Tablespoons dried
2 Tablespoons chopped onion
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
15 ounces salmon, cooked and flaked or 1 15-ounce can red salmon
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 cups herb-seasoned croutons or stuffing mix
1 tomato, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon snipped fresh chives
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 9-inch pie plate.

Combine the milk, stock or broth, eggs, celery, parsley, onion, and mustard in a large bowl. Add the salmon, cheese, and croutons or stuffing and stir to blend. Transfer the pie plate and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown. For the last 5 minutes of baking, arrange the tomato slices in a ring on top of the scalloped salmon. Sprinkle with the chives and parsley and serve hot in wedges.

Serves 6.

October 21, 2012

Julia Child’s Apple Cream Tart

Over her long and illustrious lifetime, Julia Child forged a couple of strong ties to Maine. She and her husband, Paul, spent many summer vacations at his family home on Mount Desert Island, and then, in her later years, she often visited good friends on Deer Isle. In fact, one of the several 85th birthday parties that were given for her all across the country happened on Deer Isle. Like countless other late-twentieth century cooks, I was inspired by Julia’s wonderful television show and her cookbooks. I like to think that she would approve this slight adaptation of her delectable Apple Cream Tart from Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Knopf, 1966). I also think she’d approve the use of local cooking apples, such as Macouns or Jonathans.

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image courtesy of laterbloomer.com

Julia’s Apple Cream Tart
Brooke Dojny,  Dishing Up Maine

Sweet Short Crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into 5 pieces
3 Tablespoons cold vegetable shortening, cut into 3 chunks
4 Tablespoons ice water

Apple Cream Filling
3 cups peeled and sliced medium-sweet apples, such as Macouns or Jonathans (about 1 pound)
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light cream
1 Tablespoon rum or cognac
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Powdered sugar

Crust:
To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the shortening is about the size of small peas. Drizzle the water through the feed tube and pulse until the pastry begins to clump together. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (To make by hand, whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl, work in the cold butter and shortening with your fingertips, add the water, and stir with a large fork to make a soft dough.)

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface, working from the center in all directions until you have an 11-inch round. Fold the dough in half and ease it into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom with the fold in the center. Unfold the dough, press it against the sides of the pan, and trim the edges. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Press a sheet of foil into the bottom of the tart shell. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for 5-8 minutes, until pale golden. If the pastry starts to puff up, press the bottom gently with a large spatula or oven-mitted hand to flatten. Fill immediately or cool on a rack. If proceeding immediately, leave the oven temperature at 375°.

Filling:
In a large bowl, toss the apples with 1/3 cup of the sugar and the cinnamon and spread into the bottom of the tart shell. Bake until the apples begin to color and are almost tender, 20-25 minutes.

Reduce oven to 350°.

Whisk together the egg and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a medium-sized bowl until well-blended. Whisk in the flour, then the cream, rum, and vanilla. Pour the mixture over the apple mixture.

Bake until the top is pale golden and a knife inserted part way to the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with the powdered sugar before serving.

Serves 6-8.

October 14, 2012

Maine Seafood Recipes

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

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

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

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image: tasteofhome.com

Bread Bowl Seafood Dip
Paula Anderson, Scarborough

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

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

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

Yield: about 2¼ cups dip.

Haddock Provencal
Paula Anderson, Scarborough

fish-provencal
image: dairydiarychat.co.uk

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

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

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

Yield: 6 servings.

October 6, 2012

Atlantic Smoked Salmon Frittata

“The frittatas I serve at the Inn are basically thick open-faced omelets. Toppings used are only limited by your imagination. Some of my favorite combinations include broccoli, bacon and Swiss cheese or bell peppers, prosciutto and Boursin cheese or cooked lobster, asparagus and Spanish Manchego cheese.”—Michael Salmon, Hartstone Inn, Camden

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image: myrecipes.com

Atlantic Smoked Salmon Frittata
Michael Salmon, Hartstone Inn: Signature Recipes From an Elegant Maine Inn

6 large whole eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces Atlantic smoked salmon
1/4 cup grated sharp Vermont cheddar
2 Tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 Tablespoons capers
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
2 Tablespoons sour cream
Fruit for garnish

These are individual open-faced frittatas. Crack the eggs in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk well. Add milk and salt, and mix.

In a 7-inch nonstick sauté pan, melt 1 Tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add half of the egg mixture and stir gently (as you would for scrambled eggs) until the eggs are about 3/4 firm. Stop stirring and let the eggs set up. Flip over and firm up the other side. Remove to a baking sheet and cook the other half of the egg mixture in the same way.

Spread one ounce of the smoked salmon over each frittata. Evenly sprinkle the cheese, red onion, and capers and crack some black pepper on each frittata. Place the baking sheet under a salamander or broiler to melt the cheese and lightly brown the top of the frittatas. Sprinkle with the chives.

Serve with a spoonful of sour cream and a fruit garnish on the side.

Serves 2.

October 5, 2012

Hot Apple Sundaes

Susan Delaney-Mech, consulting food chemist to Cook & Tell (well, she’s a chemist, she likes to cook, and she’s a subscriber), dreamed up this topping for glorious autumn sundaes. Ladies and gentlemen, it may sound like just apples and maple syrup, but let me tell you, something wonderful happens in the oven. Call it chemistry. Use only McIntosh apples; they turn properly slurpy in the designated time.

mcintosh
image: mainelyapples.com

Hot Apple Sundaes
Karyl Bannister, Cook & Tell

5 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and diced
3 Tablespoons pure Maine maple syrup
1 quart vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350°.

Put the diced apples in an 8-inch square baking dish. Stir in the maple syrup. Cover and bake for 1 hour, or until the apples are soft.

At serving time, dole out the ice cream into six bowls or sundae dishes. Ladle the hot topping over the ice cream and serve immediately.

Serves 6.

September 25, 2012

Hot-Tip Corn Bread

All dressed up with a gift jar of hot pepper jelly and no place to go? Has Cook & Tell got a hot tip for you! For the wary but willing, here’s a slightly racy corn-bread adventure you can feel free to write home about.

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image: everydaydutchoven.com

Hot-Tip Corn Bread
Karyl Bannister, Cook & Tell

3 Tablespoons butter, plus more for the pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup hot pepper jelly
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 400°. Butter an 8- or 9- inch square baking pan.

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, chili powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Melt the 3 Tablespoons butter and jelly together in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the jelly mixture, buttermilk, and eggs to the flour mixture and mix just until moistened. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until the corn bread springs back when gently pressed in the center. Serve hot.

Serves 9.

September 1, 2012

Lobster Stew

Second only to a hot boiled lobster in the affections of true lobster lovers is a bowl of lobster stew. All you need for the genuine article, the stew that steams out of Maine home kitchens, is this recipe shared by Ellie Hastings, which was given to her by a friend in 1938.

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image: roadfood.com

Lobster Stew
Karyl Bannister, Cook & Tell

4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
2 cups cooked lobster meat, cut into medium chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups half-and-half or light cream
2 cups milk

Melt the butter in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat and sauté the lobster until the butter picks up its red color, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to start, then the half-and-half or cream and milk. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

The stew tastes best if chilled in the refrigerator for 5-6 hours before serving. Reheat over low heat (do not boil) and serve.

Serves 4.

August 31, 2012

Roasted Root Vegetables with Thyme and Marjoram Vinaigrette

This colorful dish is great anytime you want roasted vegetables. And it’s so easy; you can make it well ahead of time and serve it either warm or at room temperature.

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image: eatingbirdfood.com

Roasted Root Vegetables with Thyme and Marjoram Vinaigrette
Martha Greenlaw, Recipes From a Very Small Island

9 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram
2 pounds yams, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut crossways into 1 1/4- 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch rounds (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch-thick rounds (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 pounds rutabagas, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
2 medium-sized red onions (about 1 pound) peeled and cut into 1-inch-thick wedges
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Parsley sprigs, for garnish

Position the oven rack in the top third and the other rack in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°. Spray two rimmed baking sheets or a large roasting pan with nonstick vegetable spray.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 6 Tablespoons of the oil, 2 Tablespoons of the thyme, and 2 Tablespoons of the marjoram. Add the yams, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, and onions and toss to coat. Sprinkle the vegetables generously with salt and pepper and divide between the baking sheets, spreading the vegetables evenly.

Roast for about 50 minutes, or until tender and brown in spots. Using a spatula, turn the vegetables several times during roasting. Remove from the oven and let the vegetables cool slightly or to room temperature. You can make these up to this point 4 hours ahead of time. If you prefer to serve these warm, you can rewarm them in a 350° oven for about 15 minutes, or microwave them on high for about 6 minutes, or until heated through.

In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar with the remaining 3 Tablespoons of oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons of thyme, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of marjoram. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the vegetables to a shallow serving dish. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss gently. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and lemon zest. Adjust the seasonings. Garnish with the parsley sprigs. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 8-10.

August 23, 2012

Boiled Maine Lobsters

There is truly no more magnificent feast than a lobster dinner, whether it’s eaten at a lobster pound picnic table or on your very own deck. At Thurston’s Lobster Pound in Bernard, Maine, on Mount Desert Island, you choose your lobsters from the tanks near the order window, and then they are boiled in clean seawater in a large propane-fired cooker. To replicate at home, just be sure to add enough salt to the water to create the right balance of ocean-briny flavor. A mere swipe through melted butter, a squirt of lemon—and that’s all anyone needs. Heaven!

Editor’s Note: It’s now time to help the Maine Lobster Industry and our local lobster men and women and their families. Buy Maine lobster, and if you’ve never cooked it at home before, here’s a basic recipe to get you started.

MBH-Lobsters
Maine Lobsters photo by Melanie Beckett Hyatt

Boiled Maine Lobsters
Brooke Dojny, The New England Clam Shack Cookbook

2-3 Tablespoons salt
4 live lobsters, about 1 1/2 pounds each
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
Lemon wedges

Fill a large stockpot about half full of water. Add the salt and bring to a boil.

When the water has come to a rolling boil, plunge the lobsters headfirst into the pot. Clamp the lid back on tightly and return the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the lobsters for 12-18 minutes (hard-shell lobsters will take the longer time), until the shells turn bright red and the tail meat is firm and opaque when checked.

Lift the lobsters out of the water with tongs and drain in a colander. Place underside up on a work surface and, grasping firmly, split the tails lengthwise with a large knife. Drain off the excess liquid. Serve with melted butter and lemon wedges.

Serves 4.

August 21, 2012

Chocolate-Glazed Turtle Cookies

These fudgy, brownie-like cookies are made in a waffle iron! They’re especially fun to make in the summer, when the thought of turning on the oven doesn’t turn you on.

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Maxine Perry’s Chocolate-Glazed Turtle Cookies
Karyl Bannister, Cook & Tell

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter
2 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped almonds or pecans
1/4-1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
Chocolate glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat the waffle iron.

Melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir in the sugar and remove from the heat. Cool briefly, then whisk in the eggs, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the flour, almonds or pecans, and chocolate chips.

Drop by scant Tablespoons onto the hot waffle iron, three or four at a time, depending on the size of your waffle iron. Don’t try to smooth them out—you want raggedy edges. Immediately close the waffle iron and bake for 45-60 seconds. Do not overbake! Make ‘em fudgy!

Lift off gently with a fork, cool on a rack, and glaze. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Chocolate Glaze
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
Pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup light cream or half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the butter, sugar, chocolate, and a dash of salt in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until melted. Put the cornstarch in a small bowl and stir in the milk, blending well to avoid lumps. Add the cornstarch mixture and the cream or half-and-half to the chocolate mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened like a pudding.

Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Immediately spoon a generous gob of glaze over each cookie, because it sets fairly quickly. In a real hurry? Put a tray of glazed cookies in the fridge for super-quick setting.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

July 25, 2012

Back Porch Lemonade

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

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

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image © Russell French

Back Porch Lemonade
recipe from Seagrass Bistro, Yarmouth

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

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

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

June 27, 2012

A Place Apart

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

ct_house

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 23, 2012

Barbecued Salmon

Gather around, boys and grills! Light ‘em up and let’s get cookin’! Pam Pingree from Alaska sent in this winner. Cook & Tell spent a lot of time trying to figure out what made her barbecue sauce special. Hint: nutmeg.

GrilledSalmon
image: americas-harvest.com

Barbecued Salmon
Karyl Bannister, Cook & Tell

1½ pounds salmon fillets, skin on
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
½ cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons prepared mustard (any kind)
1 small onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
Barbecue sauce (see recipe below)

Preheat the grill.

Sprinkle the fleshy side of the fillet with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix the mayonnaise and mustard in a small bowl and spread on the same side of the fillet.

Cook the fillet, flesh side down, on a covered grill for 7 minutes. Keep a squirt bottle of water at the ready for flame dousing, in case of drippy mayonnaise. Turn the fillet flesh side up. Scatter the onion rings over the fish and cover it lightly with foil. Grill, covered, for 15 minutes more, or until the flesh flakes with a fork. Serve with warm Barbecue Sauce.

Serves 4.

Barbecue Sauce
2 cups ketchup
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, or more to taste
½ teaspoon seasoned salt (Lawry’s, lemon-dill, or your favorite)

Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl, cover, and heat in the microwave until warm. Stir and serve on the side.

Makes a little over 2 cups.

May 30, 2012

Baby Spinach with Cumin-Roasted Pear and Maytag Blue Cheese

The honey and walnut dressing in this recipe is so flavorful and versatile it has become a staple in my kitchen. I use it in many appetizers and salad dishes I serve in the restaurant, changing the type of nuts and oils used, depending on the dish.—Michael Salmon, Hartstone Inn

warm-apple-vinaigrette-with-a-roasted-pear-spinach-salad-food.com_
image: blog.krrb.com


Baby Spinach with Cumin-Roasted Pear and Maytag Blue Cheese
Michael Salmon, In the Kitchen with Michael Salmon

3 Bosc pears
3 Tablespoons walnut oil
2 Tablespoons port wine
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons cumin spice mix (recipe follows)
1/3 cup walnut halves
1/3 cup dried cranberries
10 ounces baby spinach
Honey and walnut dressing (recipe follows)
1/4 pound maytag blue cheese (or other good quality creamy blue cheese), crumbled

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Peel the pears and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the core and stem with a melon baller and cut each half into 3 equal wedges.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the walnut oil, port wine, brown sugar, salt, and cumin spice mix. Add the pear wedges, walnut halves, and dried cranberries and toss evenly to coat.

Place a Silpat mat or piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and spread out the pear mixture on top. Roast in a preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature.

To serve, toss the baby spinach with enough of the honey and walnut dressing to coat. Arrange the baby spinach on the plate with the roasted pear wedges, cranberries, walnuts, and crumbled blue cheese.

Cumin Spice Mix
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons whole cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons whole anise seeds

Mix the sugar and spices together.

Honey and Walnut Dressing
1/2 cup walnut oil
1 Tablespoon crushed walnuts
1 Tablespoon minced shallot
2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the walnut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it gets very warm (not hot), add the crushed walnuts and shallots and allow it to steep off the heat until cool.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and honey. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the cooled walnut oil until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6.

May 23, 2012

Mussels Steamed with Leeks and Mustard Cream

This is a sublime and really quite elegant way to treat the once-lowly mussel. Hopefully you have access to nice clean mussels, preferably farm-raised, so when you buy them they’re without grit, barnacles, or wiry beards. All you need for a perfectly lovely meal is a salad—either Mixed Greens with Simple Shallot Vinaigrette or Green Bean, Walnut, and Feta Salad—some crusty country bread for sopping up all the luscious sauce, and, depending on the season, Cranberry-Pear Crisp with Almond Topping or Springtime Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble-Topping Pie for dessert.

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image: eastandmain.ca

Mussels Steamed with Leeks and Mustard Cream
Brooke Dojny, Dishing Up Maine

3 Tablespoons butter
3 slender leeks, thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded, if necessary
1 cup dry white wine
2 bay leaves
1½ cups heavy cream
1 Tablespoon coarse-grain Dijon mustard
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a very large, deep skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Combine the mussels, wine, and bay leaves in a large pot, cover the pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the shells open, 4 to 8 minutes, depending on size. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a bowl, discarding any that don’t open. Let the cooking liquid settle for a few minutes, then pour the clear broth into a glass measure, leaving any sediment behind.

Pour the broth into the skillet with the leeks, add the cream and mustard, and bring to a boil over high heat, whisking to dissolve the mustard. Cook, uncovered, until the liquid reduces by about one-third, about 5 minutes. The recipe can be made several hours ahead to this point. Cover the mussels and cream mixture and refrigerate separately. Bring to a boil before proceeding with the next step.

Add the mussels in their shells to the skillet and stir in the parsley and tarragon. Heat gently until the mussels are heated through, 2 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, divide the mussels and sauce among four large, shallow soup dishes.

Note: To debeard mussels, pull out the dark threads that protrude from the shell. Do this just before cooking; mussels die when debearded.

Serves 4.