We want to take this opportunity to congratulate Melissa Kelly of Primo in Rockland for her 2013 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Northeast. Well Done!!
image courtesy of Kent Miller, Portland Press Herald
Winter is a wonderful time for using assertive herbs. When I am cooking, I want people to know it the moment they open my front door. Warmth and fragrance is so welcoming!
So, considering what I’d call an assertive herb, let’s pick one with a history, shall we? Most of us know about juniper’s use in gin making, locally and historically. But juniper is also long associated with spiritual purification, refuge, and protection. Medicinally, Juniper is used to alleviate digestive disorders and flatulence as well as for antiseptic purposes.
This winter, try using pungent and warming juniper berries in the following recipe for Rabbit with Bacon and Juniper. Juniper berries are readily available almost everywhere you look outside in the winter months, (or at Morse’s Sauerkraut in Waldoboro in small packets, if you’re not into foraging). Paired with lardons or thick cut bacon and rabbit, this flavor profile with fill your kitchen with bracing piny woodland aromas. As a bonus, its reputation as an aid to digestion works well with most fatty or wild meats, all game birds, and in marinades. Playing well with others, juniper works nicely in a variety of potato and vegetable preparations, too.
Juniper berries and I first got acquainted way back when I was “living off the land” in the 70’s, and canning most of my own food. At the time, I made my own sauerkraut and discovered (via German cookbooks) the happy marriage that is fermented cabbage and a bit of juniper berry.
Juniper Berries image courtesy of drterrywillard.com
Wondering where to source rabbit in the Midcoast? Try the excellent Bleeker and Flamms Maine Street Meats in Rockport. If bunny is not your style, chicken on the bone works well in this recipe.
RABBIT WITH BACON AND JUNIPER BERRIES
Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro
1/4 cup xvoo
1 cup cubed smoked bacon
1 large rabbit, cut into pieces, and dredged in seasoned flour ( salt, pepper, and paprika)
2 onions, diced
2 bay leaves
1 carrot, scrubbed and sliced
2 stalks, cubed celery and leaves
1 level Tablespoon crushed juniper berries
1 bunch of fresh thyme, wrapped with string
Half a bottle of red wine
Chicken stock, as needed
1/2 cup stemmed and chopped parsley
Heat up a large skillet and cook the bacon. Set bacon aside.
Leaving the rendered bacon fat in the pan, add the oil and, when hot, add the dredged and seasoned rabbit, cooking until nicely browned but not finished cooking. Remove rabbit from pan and set aside.
Saute the onion, celery, and carrot in the drippings, stirring for about ten minutes. Add the thyme, bay, and juniper and cook five minutes more.
Return the bacon and rabbit and any juices to the pan with vegetables and seasonings, and add the wine and chicken stock just to cover.
Cover with a close fitting lid and turn heat down to a simmer for a good hour. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Check for seasonings. The flour on the meat should make a thin gravy of the stock and wine.
This dish is very nice over polenta or mashed potatoes, with a side of vibrant greens. Hale and hearty!
James Beard Award winning Maine chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier of Arrows and MC Perkins Cove Restaurants in Ogunquit, ME are getting some national attention in Rachael Ray’s magazine, EveryDay with Rachael Ray. They are featured in an article entitled “For the Love of Food” and are one of three chef couples from hot restaurants around the country, sharing a recipe that brought them closer – perfect for foodies who also love Valentine’s Day.
Mark and Clark have shared their Roasted Salmon with Mom’s Sauce, String Beans and Pine Nut recipe which reminds them of a special dinner at Clark’s family’s house – sealing Mark’s new love of salmon and of course the relationship.
image and recipe courtesy of rachaelraymag.com
Roasted Salmon with Mom’s Sauce, String Beans and Pine Nuts
Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, Arrows Restaurant and MC Perkins Cove, Ogunquit, ME
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1½ teaspoon grainy mustard
1½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus 2 whole sprigs
Coarse salt and black pepper
9 Tablespoons EVOO, plus more for brushing
6 ounces green and yellow string beans
2 skinless salmon fillets (6 to 7 ounces each)
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
Position a rack in the center of the oven; Preheat to 424°. In a medium bowl, stir together the two vinegars, brown sugar, Worcestershire, soy sauce, mustard, and chopped rosemary; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in 9 Tablespoons EVOO.
In a large pot, bring 2 quarts water and 1 Tablespoon salt to a boil. Fill a medium bowl halfway with ice water. Add the string beans to the boiling water and cook until brightly colored and al dente, about 1 minute; drain and plunge immediately into the ice bath to cool completely. Drain again, then pat dry.
Lay the salmon fillets skin side down on a greased baking sheet. Tuck a rosemary spring under each. Brush the fillets with EVOO; season with salt and pepper. Whisk the sauce and spoon some over the fillets. Roast until firm and just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove and tent with foil.
In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat; cook until light golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Immediately add the toasted pine nuts and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring to coat with butter. Add the beans, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until hot, about 2 minutes. Divide the beans and pine nuts between 2 plates.
Using a spatula, transfer the salmon fillets to the plates and drizzle each with another spoonful of sauce. Serve immediately.
Dinner for 2.
We’d just come from the movies. Hungry, yes. And thirsty. We rolled into FOG, the new hang in Rockland, the intention being to get a quick drink before a meal elsewhere. Long story short, we were seduced into staying right there. Plate after small plate emerged, wafting goodness, and we’re still raving three days later.
Owned by Ashley’s parents, but the love-child of Ashley Seelig and Josh Cardoso, FOG seems destined to be the new “best place to meet” on the Main Street. The lofty atmosphere and big spaces offer the perfect foil for the old black and white movies or anime digitally projected on the back wall. Especially fun at Christmas time! Christmas in CT, anyone? Ashley is clearly in charge, here there and everywhere making sure all is running smoothly and, indeed, the staff seems very well schooled. Josh is a beer genius with 8 interesting beers on tap, both from Maine and imported. Friendly and knowledgeable, everyone on staff appears to be having fun.
Chef Nick Krunkkala, who we’ve seen before at Rock City, is turning out inspired food, although not every dish is fully evolved. They are well on their way with French and Southern inspired comfort food offerings that speak to solid kitchen technique and modern interpretations. I noticed a perfect potato carre (large square dice) on their vegetable plate along with beautifully ribboned vegetables. The cheesy grits were creamy. The shaved salad was generous and fresh, and the duck wings were nicely sticky and flavored with an interesting tamarind sauce. Fried green tomatoes with candied bacon could have benefited from more lacquering on the bacon for more flavor and crunch. The rabbit rolls, the most anticipated, yet my least favorite item, needed a more appropriate, sharper sauce. Maybe mustard? I do like that they are bringing in unusual items and exalting the flavors of simple ingredients.
I can tell that time will be kind to this endeavor. There is so much enthusiasm and talent on tap, they can only get better and better. And we are lucky to have such an interesting and delicious new place to go in Rockland. Cheers!
Checklist—cars loaded up and off we go. The audience of 200 is lined up at the door anxiously awaiting the opportunity to sample the lobster dishes of three contestants, be entertained by same three chefs on stage, and finally get the chance to vote for their favorite. I must admit hearing “Chef Margaret’s here, hello chef, best of luck to Mac, it’s the mother-son team” from all corners of the waiting crowd makes me feel like I am the one about to be back on stage…. Nope…I am to be the wilberforce behind the curtain. The one who will keep the rest of the team calm and focused and make sure the water is boiling and no one misses a spec when putting the lobster on during plating.
image courtesy of harvestontheharbor.com
Now the flurry begins, we have less than an hour to get everything boiling-everything reheated-judges plates are photo plate-perfect and orchestrate the plating of another 200 plates. We were promised induction burners (a professional type of hot plate that has water boiling in 90 seconds). What we walk into is a row of butane gas portable burners, and no one has thought to put in fresh cans of butane….Obstacle #1. Mac and I think alike and at the last minute packed up one of our induction burners… Saved!
Ricotta gnudi, a delicate tiny Italian style dumpling (for lack of a better description), is to be cooked on site. We will have to hustle to make this happen on portable butane burners. Obstacle # 2-the Alto Sham aka hot box onsite is luke warm (barely). Its purpose is to hold hot food, but at 120 degrees. You could put a baby in it for a nap and still need a blanket…. Mac thinks fast…All the stainless bowls we brought for just in case we need them are put on top of the pots of “slowly boiling water”, and the lobster in brown butter is dumped in for a faster reheat. Meanwhile, the induction burner we brought along is boiling pot after pot for a “boiling pot Chinese fire drill”. Boil 1 swap it out, boil 1 swap it out….
The back stage area is a bit chaotic as three cooking teams try to work, and a half dozen culinary student helpers stand in the way with “deer in the headlight eyes”. I snap into executive chef mode and start assessing the space and working on a game plan so that when Mac in on stage charming the crowd, his food will be plated in order and go out as it should.
We love Melissa Bouchard, executive chef at Dimillos Floating Restaurant. She is the first chef up. Her team is working on plates, the dish is beautiful, but I know from experience that being the first on stage sucks. Mac is number two and we are now in control of our destiny and everything is going according to plan.
Bless the heart of the third chef, Kerry Alterio of Café Miranda. In all the chaos, he actually asked if we needed help. I’m thinking “that’s a switch”. At my last national competition, a southern chef stole my butane back ups and my power strip. My sous found them hidden behind a trash can….
So here we go. Dina will cook the gnudi, toss it gently (Ricotta gnudi is delicate as a cloud, it breaks easily but when it keeps itself together and makes it to the plate and then the lips in one piece, it is like eating something an angel kissed.) in the truffle cream sauce, and pass it on to the student who will be plating it. I’ll take chanterelle duty until a student sees the placement and takes it over. (Side note on chanterelle mushrooms- they are a highly sought after wild foraged species-currently not in season in Maine so these costly fungi came to us from the woods of Oregon. Full of pungent woodsy, earthy flavor-the chanterelle is the best flavor friend lobster can have.
Sandra will be on knuckle meat duty, cautiously placing two to three pieces on each tiny plate, and then I will follow the gnudi patrol with perfect claws, placed exactly atop the gnudi. Ifrah will bring up the rear with the chervil garnish. (Chervil-an underutilized herb-actually a member of the carrot family but one of my personal favorites). Then out go the plates.
We can hear Mac talking with Tom Martin, owner of Lucky Catch Lobster (he’s the MC and an excellent choice) as calmly as if they are sitting in a bar having a drink together. He gives a shout out to his brother and Dad who are in the audience (2 votes for sure) I sneak out to take a peak at the monitor. QVC training paid off well. Mac talks directly to Tom and when Tom turns his eye to the audience, so does Mac. Good job! I hear Tom ask Mac if his Mom, the Maine Lobster Chef of 2008, is in the audience. Mac quips “Nope, I got her out back working.”
As the last stack of 20 plates leaves the plating area, we sigh in unison that it’s done. We hear the audience give Mac a huge round of cheer and his lanky 6’5” presence pops back behind the curtain, all smiles. We join Melissa and her team on the sidelines to watch chef # 3 give his pitch.
Finally, the three chefs are called to the stage for awards.
MacKenzie Arrington—Maine Lobster Chef of 2012-Peoples Choice.
Okay-Now we all scramble back to clean up, dump trash, pack cars, carry dirty pans back down Commercial Street and an hour later Mac and Dina are elbow deep in the dish sink. And that is what culinary competition is all about!
***Tomorrow, be sure to check back here for MacKenzie Arrington’s winning Ricotta Gnudi recipe!!***
Flash back to 2008. Maine Lobster Chef of the Year competition at the Blaine House in Augusta….When yours truly was crowned, MacKenzie Arrington, my son, sous chef for the event and student at the Culinary Institute of America announced with total confidence, that he would steal the title from me in 2009. And, “so he did”. Two weeks after graduating from the Bachelors program at CIA, Mac became Maine Lobster Chef of 2009.
Between then and now, Mac moved to Brooklyn, NY, and began his calculated progression through the culinary world. In the last two years, under the guiding hands of David Chang (Momofuko), Daniel Humm (NoMad), and Andrew Carmellini (The Dutch and Locanda Verde) (a few of New York’s top chefs) Mac has learned skills, techniques and nuances that we “provincial cooks” only see on shows like Iron Chef. So recently when invited by the Maine Lobster Promotion Council to return to Maine to compete in the 2012 Maine Lobster Competition, Mac jumped on a chance to bring his city style back home.
This year’s event would be different from year’s past in that a panel of 3 judges would cast their vote for their favorite and the audience of 200 would cast their vote for a second winner.
Along with his sous, the amazingly talented Dina Fan also of NYC and Taiwan, Mac, all packed and ready to fly north, arrived at JFK to pass through TSA (airport security). TSA can be a bit of a challenge for a traveling chef. Here’s how it goes…. Carry on bag opened and passing through the scanner revealing some questionable skeletons. Any chef who travels, especially if cooking is involved on the other end of a trip, takes his knives.
As security watches cautiously, Mac opens his case to reveal knives of almost surgical instrument comparison. “Very sharp-very expensive-very necessary.” What follows is the explanation of why he has them, what they will be used for, etc. Next item to be scrutinized by security—a jar of black truffles packed in salt. Explanation follows as to what they will be used for. Fear goes along with this explanation. These little balls of black “gold” are about as valuable as “gold”. Please don’t confiscate them officer!
Now of course the knives pose some concern for security. Can a traveling chef be trusted to leave them in his carry on bag? Must a flight attendant baby-sit them during the flight? Must they be locked in the cockpit with the pilot until the plane lands in Portland?
So far, as far as we know, no terrorist wearing size 15 Sven kitchen clogs ever hijacked a plane with an 8” inch chef’s knife, so Mac’s knife roll is allowed to travel in carry on….
Safely arrived in Maine, Mac and Dina begin prepping for the competition. Within sight of Ocean Gateway (where the event will be held) is my seafood processing facility, complete with a huge state of the art production and manufacturing kitchen. What could be better? Chanterelle mushrooms (pounds and pounds upon pounds of them) can all be browned off at one time in a 40 gallon tilt skillet, pots of melting butter cover the top of an 8 burner range, gallons of cream are reduced quick and slick on a row of induction burners. An entire 12 foot stainless table is floured for kneading, curing and cutting ricotta gnudi (recipe will follow!).
Culinary competition is in Mac’s blood. He is in high gear and thriving…. Guess he got that from his Momma! Prep tasks are delegated as my kitchen intern Ifrah (Raised and trained in strict German kitchens) culls through mounds of fresh lobster claws, picking out 220 perfect specimens, while Sandra, a retired Marine turned culinary student, exactingly picks through chervil (it’s an herb-recipe will follow!) Music is blasting; energy is high. Mac is methodically detailing his expectations of his team for tomorrow’s cook off. They all listen carefully. I go about my own flurry of business knowing Mac always has it under control.
Tomorrow—Thursday 6 am comes way too quickly. Back to the kitchen we go for the final prep work then hustle over to the Ocean Gateway for “show time”. Culinary competition may look easy from the audience but for the chef, being on stage is only the tip of the iceberg and unless every detail is planned like synchronized swim, the iceberg melts fast.
***Stay tuned for tomorrow’s conclusion of Flying With Knives***
For the benefit of Mr. Kite, there will be a drink tonight at Fromviandoux.
Yup, Mr. Kite’s…it’s a drink on the cocktail menu. Camden’s new best kept secret is actually in the old digs of Mr. Kite’s (remembered by those of us “of a certain age”) and more recently, the former location of Zaddick’s Pizza.
Located at 20 Washington Street, the completely retrofitted, stylistic masterpiece that is Fromviandoux begins to soothe you beginning with that first glance through the windows. Big on French nuances, tastefully appointed and cushy, the understated elements of design all conspire to lull you right into the upholstered lounging area. There one can begin the delightful task of choosing from their terrific wine list, offered in full or half pours, or from a bevy of interesting and original cocktails (unless your prefer to sit at the bar).
image courtesy of Fromviandoux
Self-described as “relaxed fine dining” and as food “prepared with modern, local and seasonal influences”, this restaurant is a dream for those who love to taste and sample smaller plates. For those of us with food anxiety, such as myself, rest assured that the bigger plates are ample enough to really satisfy. Cheese lovers can also rejoice in the nicely chosen cheese list with interesting embellishments such as brittles, jams, or spiced nuts.
Upon dining there recently, my dinner companion and I arrived just at 5pm and watched the place fill up in short order. After a drink in the lounge area, now safely ensconced in a cozy, comfortable nook, and glowing after one Absinthe cocktail, we were ready to order. I chose sublimely crispy and creamy sweetbreads on a spinach purée and a lovely composed salad, accompanied by a nice Austrian wine, as starters. We then went on to a perfectly pan roasted Fluke on French lentils for me and the “house ground” burger with frites for him. That huge burger at $14 was one heck of a buy, supremely delicious, and accompanied by the best fries EVER. One of my complaints with French food is that it is often over salted. Not here. All is in balance, letting the flavors really shine. And the accompanying aioli and house made ketchup was to die for.
I wanted a cheese course or dessert… but was so comfortable that I decided to save that pleasure for the next time. Or maybe I will come for their lovely afternoon tea, which I am sure all the proper attentions are given to.
Take it from me, sometimes less really can be more!
This is a beautiful salad with a lot of different flavors: sweet beets, salty cheese, and tangy vinaigrette. For this recipe, we use farmer’s cheese, a fresh, crumbly white cheese available at specialty food stores. You can substitute a good feta.
Red and Golden Beet Salad with Sherry-Shallot Vinaigrette
Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, The Arrows Cookbook
For the Vinaigrette
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 large shallots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
12 whole black peppercorns
Combine all the ingredients in the jar of a blender and process until smooth. The vinaigrette will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
For the Salad
2 medium yellow beets, trimmed
2 medium red beets, trimmed
3 ounces butterhead lettuce (about 1/2 head), leaves separated, washed and dried
3 ounces mixed greens such as arugula and mizuna (about 3 handfuls), washed and dried
8 ounces farmer’s or feta cheese, crumbled
Put the yellow and red beets in separate medium saucepans with enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches and add 2 teaspoons salt to each pan. Bring both pans to a boil over high heat. Cook until beets are easily pierced with a small knife, about 20 minutes.
Drain the beets and submerge them in ice water until cool. Using your fingers, slip the skins from the beets and discard. Slice the beets into 1/8-inch rounds.
In a large bowl toss the lettuce and greens with half of the vinaigrette. Arrange on 6 chilled plates. Put the yellow beets in the same bowl, drizzle with half of the remaining vinaigrette, and arrange on the plates. Repeat with the red beets. Sprinkle the cheese over the salads and serve.
Note: We like to make this salad with a mix of red and yellow beets. Be sure to cook them separately, and toss the yellow beets first, so the red beets don’t stain the yellow ones.
Makes 6 servings.
“I have had the pleasure of tasting some wonderful tomato sauces that have delicately simmered on the stovetop all day and into the night. To my delight, I have developed a decent sauce with a similar flavor that can be made in about 45 minutes.” —Kyra Alex, Lily’s Café & Wine Bar, Stonington
Tomato Sauce: Homemade and Quick
Kyra Alex, Lily’s Café Cookbook
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound fresh mushrooms
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomato
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme
Large pinch of ground cloves
1 (more or less to taste) Tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Heat oil in large saucepan, add onions and cook until just tender. Add garlic and mushrooms and continue cooking until very soft. Add crushed tomatoes, paste, and enough water to give desired sauce consistency (usually 1 or 2 empty tomato paste cans full), and the remaining herbs and spices. Bring to a boil stirring often to prevent sticking.
Gently simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often. Adjust salt and pepper and add sugar if tomatoes have too much of an acidic bite. Freezes well.
“To me, every party needs deviled eggs, but my deviled eggs are a little different. They are lobster deviled eggs. I mean, if you want New England-style deviled eggs then we are definitely talking lobster. The best thing is you can make this elegant party snack without spending a fortune. I hope you all enjoy one of my favorite party snacks. This transforms a regular old-time snack into a sexy little piece of New England.”—Michele Ragussis, Food Network Star
recipe and image courtesy of The Food Network
1 whole lobster, about 1 1/2 pounds (or 2 frozen tails if you can’t find live whole lobster)
1 dozen eggs, hard boiled
4 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chives
Pinch celery salt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
Finely chopped fresh dill, for garnish
Paprika, for sprinkling
Bring 3 to 4 inches of water to a boil in a large pasta pot. Add the lobster, cover and steam until fully cooked and the shell is bright red, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the meat from the shell and dice into 1/2-inch chunks.
Halve the eggs and reserve the yolks. In a bowl, mash the yolks and add the mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, ground mustard, chives, celery salt, salt and pepper to taste, celery and onions. Mix all together so that the yolk mixture is creamy. Fold in most of the lobster, reserving 24 small pieces. Add salt and pepper to taste, and then stuff the egg white halves with the filling. Garnish with a touch of fresh dill and a little piece of lobster. Sprinkle with paprika.
Yields 24 halves.
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 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.
“We smoke a lot of salmon at the Hartstone Inn. Generally when I refer to smoked salmon, I am referring to cold-smoked salmon, which is a cured side of salmon that is gently smoked at low temperatures. With cold smoking, the salmon is “cooked” by the curing process and “flavored” by the smoke. The distinctive texture of cold-smoked salmon comes from the curing, and makes the flesh firm but not crumbly like salmon exposed to heat. Hot-smoked salmon, on the other hand, is seasoned fresh salmon that is smoked at high temperatures and the fish actually cooks through while smoking.”—Michael Salmon, from In the Kitchen With Michael Salmon
Michael Salmon, In the Kitchen With Michael Salmon
Dry Cure Mix:
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup kosher salt
1 Tablespoon dried dill
Mix all ingredients together.
Coat both sides of a one-pound salmon fillet (skin on, pin bones removed) with 1/4 cup dry cure mix. Place the salmon in a small container with a lid and refrigerate for 24 hours. This process is known as “curing.” The salt will draw out a great deal of liquid from the salmon and preserve it, actually “cooking” the flesh.
After 24 hours, gently rinse both sides of the salmon under cold water and place skin side down on the smoking rack. Cold smoke the salmon (at a maximum of 90 degrees) for 2 hours with cherry chips. This is a delicate process in the stove top smoker. The best technique is to get the smoker to the point where it is producing smoke, place the salmon on the smoking rack, close the cover and remove the pan from the heat. Allow the smoke to be exposed to the salmon for 10 minutes off the heat then remove the salmon from the pan and continue the process over and over for a full 2 hours. Add new cherry chips as necessary. Cold-smoked salmon is best if allowed to rest for 24 hours before slicing very thinly.
Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over 6-ounce salmon fillets (skin off, pin bones removed) and lightly coat with a seasoning rub of your choice. Place them on the lightly oiled smoking rack and hot smoke at 350˚ for 15 minutes with 2 Tablespoons apple, cherry, or alder chips. Serve with fruit salsa, herbed sour cream, mustard, or Chimi Churri Sauce.
NW Cherries is launching a national campaign called Tree-to-Table where a chef at one iconic restaurant in every state is receiving 40 pounds of Rainier cherries to create a unique menu item in honor of National Rainier Cherry Day on Wednesday, July 11, 2012. Five Fifty-Five is Maine’s Tree-to-Table restaurant, and Chef Steve Corry has created one amazing cherry dessert!
image courtesy of Five Fifty-Five restaurant, Portland
555 Rainier Cherry Clafoutis with Cherry “Hot Sauce” and Black Forest Ice Cream
Chef Steve Corry, Five Fifty-Five restaurant, Portland
Preheat oven to 400˚.
Pinch of salt
2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean
¾ cup sugar
3 large local eggs
½ cup almond paste, creamed
2 cups pitted Rainier cherries
In a heavy-bottomed sauce pot heat the milk, sugar, salt, vanilla, and zest over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. To cream the almond paste, beat with a paddle until soft, then add eggs one at a time, scraping sides of bowl often. Slowly add hot milk to mixture.
Pre-heat oven to 400˚ and brush soft butter inside ceramic mold/s of your choice. Distribute cherries amongst the molds and pour batter in, covering cherries.
Bake until just set in centers, (about 30 minutes). Sprinkle custards with sugar and caramelize with a blowtorch or in a 500˚ oven for about 5 minutes.
Cherry Hot Sauce
¼ pound serrano peppers, de-stemmed and seeds removed-diced
½ sweet vidalia onion, diced
1 quart pitted Rainier cherries
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
¼ cup local wildflower honey
Cook sugar and honey to a caramel, deglaze pan with vinegar, and reduce. Separately, sauté peppers and onion until tender and just starting to color.
Deglaze pan with vinegar mixture, then add cherries. Simmer for five minutes. Purée and pass through a sieve into a jar.
Let ferment for 1 week.
Black Forest Ice Cream
3 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
12 ounces sugar
2 vanilla beans
1 cup pitted and chopped Rainier cherries
1 cup dried chocolate cake crumbs
1 Tablespoon kirsch (or similar cherry liqueur)
Combine all ingredients in a pan and heat until sugar has dissolved. Chill in ice bath.
Then add cherries, cake crumbs, and kirsch. Spin in ice cream maker. Freeze overnight. When plating, pour the hot sauce over the ice cream.
A wonderful new resource in our area is On the Rush of Wings Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Located in Friendship, Maine, the center offers rehabilitation to marine and pelagic (spending most of their lives on the open seas or oceans) birds that have become injured, orphaned, or abandoned and gives them a chance to heal and be rereleased back into the wild.
Licensed rehabilitators, along with veterinarians, offer their time, knowledge, skills, and facilities to address medical needs of wildlife in distress. Because of their ideal location, On the Rush of Wings is able to utilize ocean water for both its clinic and aviary pools. The staff includes Manager and President Cindy Mackie, Wildlife Rehabilitator Beth Settlemyer, Veterinarian Dr. Christine Welch, and consultant Bill Goodwill of Mid-Coast Audubon.
Relying entirely on public support, On the Rush of Wings invites you to learn more about their facility, philosophy, and how you can help the wildlife in your area. Click the link to their website here: On The Rush of Wings Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
They are excited to be holding their 1st Annual Happy Feet Benefit on July 22 at the Thomaston Cafe! This event, sponsored by the Thomaston Cafe and Peter Ott’s in Camden, will include great food, music, and a silent auction. See the poster below for more details on how you can help make a difference!