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 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.”
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.
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
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.