Plating Up Blog Banner Back Issues Sign Up For Our Free eNewsletter Subscribe to Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine Plating Up Blog Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine Table of Contents Subscribe to Our Magazine About Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine Bits and Bites Press Page Send Email Plating Up Blog

August 7, 2014

Maine LobsterFest 2014: Seafood Cooking Contest Judges

Judges for this year’s Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest were:

Judges_6348

(from left to right) Elizabeth Watkinson, owner of Owl’s Head Lobster Company; Chaz Doherty, Chef at Trackside Station in Rockland; and Susan Axelrod, food writer for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday.com

August 6, 2014

Dr K’s Lobster Fried Rice: LobsterFest 2014 Finalist

This is Edith Khurana’s 4th year attending the Maine Lobster Festival, and her 1st year as a contestant and finalist in the Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest. She is an emergency room doctor from Chicago, IL. An avid home cook, Edith taught her son to cook as well. He was in attendance to cheer his mother on.

“We really don’t have any lobster out in Chicago, you have to go to a specialty shop and pay a high premium for it,” Edith says. My recipe for Lobster Fried Rice is a traditional Philippine staple, and a favorite in my home. I usually use shrimp in this dish, since it is more readily available.” For this year’s contest, she used fresh, local lobsters.

Edith_6289

Edith says her recipe is easy to make at home, and involves three basic ingredients: rice, garlic, and eggs. Then you add whatever ingredients to this base that you’d like. For her dish, Edith uses Jasmine rice, and always adds chopped green onions on top. “You can add scallions, jalapenos, peppers, chicken, whatever you feel like eating,” she adds.

A side garnish of cucumbers, shallots, and tomatoes with a blueberry balsamic vinaigrette was offered to judges. Edith’s table was set with delicate orange flowered serving bowls, chopsticks, and soy sauce.

We hope to see Edith return next year to the Lobster Festival and the Seafood Cooking Contest. Her Lobster Fried Rice was outstanding, and we encourage you to try making it at home!

Dr. K’s (Edith Khurana) Lobster Fried Rice
Edith Khurana, Chicago, IL

Edith_Meal_Closeup_6352

5 pounds of raw, de-shelled lobster, cut into fours
3 cups of Jasmine long grain rice
1 head of finely chopped garlic
A dozen eggs, scrambled and cut into small pieces
1 cup of olive oil
Salt, to season
A bunch of green onions

Wash the Jasmine rice and place in appropriate amount of water, about 4 cups, (depending on the age of the rice). Once cooked (about 20 minutes) set aside to cool.

Clean in running tap water and de-shell the lobster. Half the lobster lengthwise and then cut each piece in two, so you have quarter pieces of lobster. Set aside.

Peel each head of garlic, making sure that each head is separated from the other head. Finely chop each head and set aside.

Beat the dozen eggs and fry in olive oil. When cooked, cut into small pieces with your spatula and set aside.

Place about half a cup of olive oil in the wok and heat the wok on medium heat. Add one head of finely chopped garlic and sauté until golden brown. Mix while doing so, so that the garlic does not get burned. When golden brown, add the quartered lobster. Salt and mix until pink. This is done fast so that the lobster does not get chewy and hard. Set aside.

Heat the wok again on medium heat. Place about half a cup of olive oil and sauté the other head of finely chopped garlic until golden brown. Mixing again while doing so, so that the garlic does not get burned. Add the cooled, steamed rice. Mix well as you go so that the garlic is evenly distributed and every kernel of rice is separated from each other. Add about a teaspoon of salt to taste. May add more if desired.

Let the rice slightly brown on the wok about 15-20 minutes, making sure that you are mixing from time to time. When browned, add the scrambled egg and then the lobster. The lobster should not be left too long in the heat as it may get hard and chewy. Top with minced green onion. Serve.

EdithMeal_6353

August 3, 2014

Seafood Jambalaya: LobsterFest 2014 Finalist

Maynard Stanley, Jr. of Owl’s Head, ME took 2nd place honors in this year’s Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest. His prize winning recipe was Seafood Jambalaya.

Maynard_6298

“Traditionally a southern dish made with shrimp or in some places alligator, I chose to feature Maine lobster, shrimp, and scallops. I mixed it up a little,” Maynard said. “This dish can have some strong flavors. I used lighter spices, different than those traditionally used so as not to overpower the delicate flavors of the Maine seafood.” His dish also utilized the traditional ingredients peppers, celery, onions, and sausage.

Maynard said he entered this contest because he likes to cook, and he “likes competition.” An avid home cook, he also cooks at local fundraising dinners such as those held at the Conway House in Camden. He enjoys cooking traditional Maine Bean Hole Bean dinners there.

The table setting Maynard prepared was complete with red and yellow carnations, decorative lobsters, red place mats and crisp white plates. He served his dish with a side of coleslaw and “lobster biscuits” (traditional biscuits shaped with cookie cutters in the shape of lobsters).

When asked the secret ingredient to the success of his recipe at this year’s contest, Maynard was quick to credit “Maine seafood, along with a little touch from God.”

Maynard, who is self-employed, traps and helps relocate wild animals.

Try Maynard’s recipe at home!

Seafood Jambalaya
Maynard Stanley, Jr., Owl’s Head, ME

MaynardMeal_6367

¼ pound andouille sausage, cubed and browned
¼ cup each bell pepper, red and green, rough chopped
½ cup celery, ¼-inch sliced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
½ cup onion, diced
28 ounces of tomatoes, diced or 6 plum tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon Maine sea salt
¼ cup butter
8 ounces Bar Harbor clam juice
½ teaspoon thyme
2 cups long brown rice or white
2 pounds cooked Maine lobster meat, rough chopped and divided
½ pound Maine scallops, cleaned, rough chopped, and salted
1 pound cleaned Maine shrimp, rough chopped, seasoned, and deveined
⅓ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup green onion, chopped

For Plating:

1 pound Maine lobster meat, rough chopped for plating
½ pound Maine shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1 Tablespoon Fiore’s Meyer Lemon Olive Oil (for dipping on the side)
½ cup toasted pine nuts for plating

In a 4 quart Dutch oven, brown the cubed andouille sausage, drain, and set aside.

Cook the next seven ingredients in butter, with salt to taste, on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Do not overcook. With a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables to the bowl with the sausage and set aside.

Now add 2 cups of clam juice and thyme, bring to a boil, and add the rice. Cook by directions on rice. While rice is cooking, prep the seafood. Devein and rough cut ½ pound of shrimp and scallops. Chop parsley and green onions.

When the rice is done, add the shrimp and scallops, as well as the 1 pound chopped lobster, parsley and green onions, vegetable mix, and smoked sausage. Fluff the rice gently to the mix but do not stir.

Place the ½ pound of clean, un-chopped shrimp on top of the rice and cover. On low heat, cook the whole shrimp and when done, remove the ½ pound of un-chopped shrimp to use for plating.

Plate using the precooked, chopped lobster and ½ pound of un-chopped shrimp and toasted pine nuts.

Serves 4.

August 2, 2014

Lobster Bonart: LobsterFest 2014 Winner

The winner of this year’s Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest was Adam Marcus of Owl’s Head, ME. His recipe for Lobster Bonart took top honors.

“My middle name is Bonart,” Adam said when asked where the title of his recipe originated. “This is a New Orleans inspired recipe. I am originally from New Orleans, and this meal reflects that region. I wanted to create a dish that honored lobster in its shrine of Rockland,” he adds. Adam said his recipe is the perfect brunch item.

WinnerWithCelia

“You don’t want to mask the quality of Maine lobster. I sautéed Owl’s Head lobsters in chives and capers and created a platform. On the plate, I placed a warmed artichoke heart, poached egg, lobster, and a slightly spicy yet light Hollandaise sauce. I use the lobster meat to help create the platform.” Adam featured local, farm fresh products in his recipe.

A repeat contestant in the cooking contest, Adam’s recipe for Owl’s Head Lobster Étouffée took last year’s 2nd place honors.

His table featured a red lobster buoy centerpiece and lobster plates and napkins. Adam provided a welcoming table setting for judges to sample his dish. Glasses that said, “The Bloody Merrier” served up complementary Bloody Marys with lobster claws as stirrers.

Adam is currently building a house in Owl’s Head, with plans to become an alpaca farmer. We hope he also spends some time in the kitchen and comes back with an entry for next year’s contest. Here is his 2014 prize-winning entry!

Lobster Bonart
Adam Marcus, Owl’s Head, ME
Adam_recipe_6378

The cooked meat of 4  1¼-1½ pound lobsters, chopped
4 artichoke hearts, cooked and cleaned
4 eggs+4 yolks
1 Tablespoon lemon
½ cup butter
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ Tablespoon capers, chopped
2 Tablespoons chives, chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Pinch of cayenne

Start a pot of water to boil for poaching eggs. At the same time, sauté the crushed garlic in olive oil. Just before the garlic turns brown, remove from the pan and discard.

Put the chopped lobster, artichoke hearts and chopped capers in the pan of olive oil on low heat and sauté.

Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and a Tablespoon of water together. Place mixture over the pot of boiling water and whisk in the melted butter. Stir constantly until Hollandaise just starts to thicken. When it reaches a sauce consistency, place the bowl in a cold, liquid bath. A separate double boiler is better for this procedure if you own one.

Poach the eggs for two minutes in the boiling water.

To assemble Lobster Bonart:

Place the artichoke heart in the middle of a warm plate. Surround the heart with the sautéed lobster meat.

Place the poached egg on the artichoke heart. Pour the sauce over the egg and sprinkle with the chopped chives over the lobster meat and place two whole capers on the egg. Place two uncut chive stems on the side of the plate and serve.

Serves 4.

August 1, 2014

Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest 2014

One of the highlights of this year’s 67th Annual Maine Lobster Festival was the Seafood Cooking Contest. Held in the North Entertainment Tent on the fairgrounds, this event was a crowd pleaser of the highest order. Five creative chefs from all over the country vied for the title of Seafood Cooking Champion, with some of the most unique dishes ever seen.

Emceed by Celia Crie Knight, the Seafood Cooking Contest was judged by locals who are involved in Maine’s food scene: Chef Chaz Doherty of Trackside Station, Elizabeth Watkinson of Owl’s Head Lobster Company, and Susan Axelrod of the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday.com

Chefs_Judges_6416

(From left to right: Judge Chaz Doherty of Trackside Station, Finalist Tyrrell Hunter, Finalist Maynard Stanley, Jr., Contest Winner Adam Marcus, Finalist Andrew Hohns, Finalist Edith Khurana, and Judges Elizabeth Watkinson and Susan Axelrod.)

The Winner of this year’s contest was Adam Marcus of Owl’s Head, ME (formerly of New Orleans) with his dish called Lobster Bonart.

Runner-up honors went to Maynard Stanley, Jr. of Owl’s Head, ME with his Seafood Jambalaya.

In third place was Tyrrell Hunter of Brunswick, ME with her Lobster Pasta with Seafood Trio.

Coming in fourth was Andrew Hohns of Philadelphia, PA with his Philadelphia Lobster Cheesesteak.

In fifth place was Edith Khurana of Chicago, IL with her Dr. K’s Lobster Fried Rice.

Look for our blog posts in the days to come, where we will be featuring each of the finalists with their complete stories, photos, and recipes! All contestants and their dishes were clearly winners!

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.

Gerald_TeamMascot_0199

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.

Gerald_Table_0552

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.”

Gerald_Table_Judges_0558

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

Gerald_LobsterChili_0544

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 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.

AdamMarcus_0498

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.
Adam_prep_0508

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.
Adam_PlaceSetting_0164

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
Adam_plated_0520

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 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.

Group_0635

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.

TyrrellAndJudges_0627
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!

November 9, 2012

Apple Crêpes with Calvados Sauce

When I think of France at this time of the year, my mind runs to images of fur and feathered game in shopping stalls, wild mushrooms, crisp days bundled up in Parisian parks, insanely strong nips of milky Pastis in a bar, steaming crêpes, folded and eaten street side, and shining copper pots and pans from Normandy.

If I had to combine as many French memories as I could into a dish, I’d prepare these apple-filled crêpes with real French apple brandy, or Calvados. Cider may be substituted if you wish to avoid the alcohol. One could also change this recipe up with ripe pears and Poire William.

Make the crêpes ahead and share these with friends after a hearty beef Bourgogne and crisp endive salad.

crepe
image: dianeandfernando.com

Apple Crêpes with Calvados Sauce
Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro

Crêpes

1 cup milk
1/3 cup flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature
Dash sea salt
3 Tablespoons melted butter

Beat the eggs, add the milk, and mix.

Add the dry ingredients, and mix with a whisk.

Add in melted butter. Let it rest before frying them, as thinly as possible, preferably in French iron crêpe pans.

Cool, cover, and refrigerate.

Apple Filling
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 of your favorite cooking apples, peeled, cored and cubed
3 Tablespoons sugar and a dash each of salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon
1/4 cup Calvados (French apple brandy)

Melt butter in a large sauté pan.

Add apples, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon

Cook together until the apples are cooked through and tender.

Add Calvados and continue to cook until  liquid is mostly evaporated. Set aside.

Calvados Sauce
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup or Calvados

Using a electric mixer, beat the butter.

Add the sugar and beat with butter till fluffy.

Gradually add in brandy until incorporated.

Cover and keep in refrigerator until needed. Bring to room temperate before using.

To Finish the Dish:

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Warm the apple filling slightly in the microwave and fill the crêpes generously, rolling up, tucking in the sides.

Place the crêpes, seam side down, in a buttered glass baking dish.

Spread the softened Calvados butter over all and warm the casserole up for 15-20 minutes, covered, in the oven.

Plate with two crêpes per plate, being sure to get some sauce for all and flame with additional Calvados table side. Whipped cream is never a bad thing, either.

Enjoy bringing the warmth of brandy, flames, and friendship together around your dinner table!

Makes 6 servings; these freeze well.

April 30, 2012

Essential Nourishment: Lamb’s Quarters with Feta

The first Estonian edition of the book Essential Nourishment, by Marika Blossfeldt, came out in 2009. The first English edition appeared in 2011. It is chock-a-block full of wholesome and visually appealing recipes as well as gorgeous photographs of food and European country scenery. Scenery of Marika’s beautiful Estonian farm, to be exact. This “life book” (so much more than a cookbook) is better than plane fare. It is a window into a world where time has slowed to a healing pace, where living in the present is all there is, and there is time to live in gratitude. Cooking is done in a mindful and seasonal way, with fresh food from the gardens and foraged ingredients. I love the way the text in this book is punctuated by frequent bits of information divided into “Essence” and “Action”. These are very real tools for affecting change.

Making life a work of art seems to come naturally to Estonian born Marika Blossfeldt. But tracing her roots, the journey back to her kitchen has been a full and interesting one. A globe trotting dancer and painter, early on in the 1970s and 80s she worked and performed in Berlin and later, New York. Eventually her career in performing arts took her all over the world. Some seventeen years ago, she fulfilled a lifelong dream of owning and restoring an old farm.

Now an international art and wellness center called Polli Talu Arts Center (www.pollitalu.wordpress.com), this farm in Estonia is where Marika welcomes visitors, practices and teaches yoga, cooking, wellness, and tends her gardens. Her culinary skills were honed by a course of study at New York’s Institute for Integrative Nutrition and her life direction illuminated by the realization that body, spirit, and mind are one.

Good vibrations and lifestyle suggestions abound in these recipes; the balance of her food and presentation is palpable. Marika’s food is beautiful, delicious, nutritious, and fun. Regionally sourced, Estonian style!

Bookcover_EssentialNourishment
image by Lindsay Taub

Laura’s Recipe Note: Pretty soon, we will have plenty of these lamb’s quarters in my gardens! Because of their wild nature, they are very nutrient-dense.

lk143

Lamb’s Quarters with Feta
Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro

2 cups pure water
1 pound lamb’s quarters, leaves and tender tops only
1/4 cup olive oil
A little lemon juice
Fresh grated pepper and sea salt
9 ounces feta cheese, cubed

Bring the water to a boil.

Add the lamb’s quarters and cook quickly until tender, about five minutes.

Drain. Mix lightly with oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Add in the feta and mix carefully.

Serve warm.

Serves 4.

(From  Essential Nourishment by Marika Blossfeldt, Delicious Nutrition, Beacon NY, 2009.)

April 10, 2012

Cooking with Fernet Branca

Like to cook, read, and laugh? Pick up this book Cooking with Fernet Branca, by British novelist James Hamilton-Paterson. It is the tale of a British opera buff who moves to the wilds of Tuscany and all the comical adventures that ensue.

I found myself interested first in the title, as I am one of those seemingly rare people that love “amaros”, or Italian bitters, and especially Fernet Branca. But I found myself laughing out loud as I lay on the sofa reading, then picking up the phone to order multiple copies for all my foodie friends.

Fernet-Branca-and-Coca-Cola
image: therealargentina.com

Recipe:

Drinking Fernet Branca the way “portenos” do (people of the port, as in the port of Buenos Aires):

Mix Fernet Branca (half and half ratio) with Coke over plenty of ice. Yes. Really!

January 12, 2012

Argentine Foodways

Let’s begin by defining “foodways.” Wikipedia defines this term as “the cultural, social, and economic practices relating to the production and consumption of food tied to larger social and economic factors.”

100_2570

Immediately noted by me, an enthusiastic eater of regular meals, Argentina is a night culture and a café culture. Meals do not occur on an American schedule. The Argentine people eat four meals a day, which must be necessary for staying up half the night.

Their breakfast, or desayuno, is a light meal of coffee or mate, medialunas (pastry) and jam or dulce de leche, sometimes bread and cold cuts. Mate is worth a discussion. While everyone drinks it and it is traditional to do so, it seems to be considered a bit of a vice. Probably much like drinking coffee is here in the US. Less fortunate folk drink it to excess to stave off hunger, I was told, and it’s not uncommon to see working class people carting around their thermos of hot water along with their mate gourd (or calabazo) and straw (or bombilla). While it contains caffeine and is stimulating, it is also relaxing with a deeply vegetal flavor which is quite enjoyable.

Lunch, or almuerzo, features meat and vegetables or salad. In the larger cities I noted several vegetarian buffets, popular as lunch spots and incredibly good values. Perhaps a rebuttal to the famous Argentine beef, which is heavily favored in most meals, sometimes prepared in the Milanese style, or pounded and breaded.

After work it’s “tea time, which means time to linger forever in one of the ubiquitous street side cafés, over either tea or a “cafe solo” and lots of conversation. Maybe you prefer yours “con leche?” At this time tapas-like snacks or little panini are consumed with gusto. This is a good thing since dinner won’t be until 10 p.m. or later. My traveling companion and I got called “grandmothers” for wanting to eat by 8 or 9 pm. Hey, we’re not even mothers, just can’t sleep on a full stomach.

Returning to the cafés …many are associated with particular artistic or literary, political, or student groups and are important within the social context of the city. It’s nice to see people giving themselves permission to converse passionately and spend time together with nothing seeming to pressure them. I feel it’s time well spent.

The people in Buenos Aires love their snacks. I noticed the bakeries doing a booming business at all times of day selling delicious varieties of empanadas (think beef, chicken, seafood, Caprese, mushroom, pork….) and other savory snacks or cookies galore, like the Alfajore sandwich cookie. They ought to be illegal and are so good with their filling of dulce de leche or jam and chocolate coat. I saw more carbonated water being consumed that sodas, but the show stopper of any drink I had in the country was a fabulous “slushy” of heavily gingered lemonade. Completely refreshing, you can bet I will be making this at home this summer.

Cena, or dinner, is unfathomably late in the evening and is the largest meal of the day. Since Italians settled this place, it’s all reminding me of Rome. You can get Italian bitters like Frenet Branca anywhere after a meal. Even on your mini bar. Oh joy! I ate at some great steak joints and I can tell you that the beef is amazing, thick, juicy, delicious and all grass fed. Usually, a steak dinner is offered with salad choices, side vegetables, and lots of good red wine. I didn’t notice many desserts eaten in the evening.100_2620

If you want a traditional “asado,” or barbeque, you must go into the country where the cattlemen are…or befriend a traditionalist and hope for an invitation to a family affair. The religion is to cook over wood coals, never flame. A full compliment of meats (beef, lamb, sometimes goat, always sausage) will be roasting, often flayed open and whole. Grilled vegetables and many side salads will be offered up as well a Chimichurri sauce. Everything is mopped up with crusty bread, washed down with good red wine, and eaten off wooden plates. 100_3353

100_2631100_2645100_2643

Back in the city, those out for the evening will continue drinking and dancing…tango is huge, though sadly not with the youth so much. But you’d better pace yourselves. Oh, and bring your sunglasses. The younger set strike out after 1 am. Things heat up by 3 am and, to our surprise, they’re still at it Sunday morning at 10 am, sunglasses on and piling out of the clubs and onto the sidewalks. Suddenly eating dinner late is making all the sense in the world!

I noticed salmon on most restaurant menus in Buenos Aires and, while on a side trip to Chile, I remembered why. We saw salmon and mussel farms everywhere while traveling through the fiords of Chile. They look innocent enough but the waters, once pristine, are suffering and the ecosystems are dying. Most of the world’s salmon is now coming from Chile and while tasty, it is good to remember the cost of farmed fish. I am happy to report that the wild trout are still plentiful and were biting for me! I caught an 18-inch beautiful brown trout, with sweet, pink salmon-like flesh.

Did I mention ice cream? It is done in the Italian gelato style and called helado. The ice cream of Argentina is very rich and wonderful and comes in very exotic flavors, Andean chocolate became my favorite (a mix of bitter chocolate, dulce de leche and Patagonian walnuts), but you can get rosehip too and a variety of other inventive flavors!

100_2746

About visiting Argentina in December…it’s early summer there, the lupines, wild orchids, and Scotch broom are in full bloom, kids are getting out of school for summer vacation, and it’s Christmas! The farms are also producing wonderful vegetables, nuts and fruits, honey, hops and berries of all varieties, cherries, strawberries, gooseberries and calafate, the mystery berry of Argentina. It’s a type of dark berry from a barberry bush. It’s said if you eat these berries, you’ll return for another stay. I bought some jam which I’ve not tasted yet, but I will keep you posted! I fully intend to return to this beautiful place for further adventure in the Patagonia.100_2810100_2813100_2884

January 9, 2012

Milanesas (Breaded Sirloin)

Thinking back on my recent trip to Argentina, a few foods stand out in retrospect that seem quintessentially Argentine, or at least especially good there. I loved the sweet baked goods like medialunas, a croissant-like pastry and a breakfast favorite…and savory baked goods too, like the many varieties of empanadas. The chocolate was terrific, their gelato style ice cream heavenly (seven types of chocolate…oh, come on!), amazing trout preparations in the lakes district, and beef of course.

3752266746_3a629529df
image: weareneverfull.com

In Argentina, they have a style of cooking beef and other meats called Milanese. Not surprisingly, much of Argentina is of Italian and German decent, so this is not a big stretch. A dish prepared in the Milanese style is sometimes pounded and always breaded, something like a chicken fried steak or veal cutlet. We enjoyed beef and chicken done in this manner, sometimes with the addition of the Caprese elements of tomato and mozzarella cheese melted on top.

I especially liked the heartiness of the beef Milanese just plain breaded and fried but not pounded for a juicier result. I think this is perfect fare for a bone chilling Maine winter night. I would enjoy this meal fleshed out with rich mashed potatoes flecked with parsley, the Milanese crispy from the frying pan and topped with sautéed onions, fresh green beans, and a pan gravy. Don’t over cook the beef for the best result.

Milanesas
Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro

2 eggs
½ cup milk
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds boneless beef (top sirloin steak is best), cut into slices 1½ inches thick
Oil for the fry pan and a heavy skillet
Lemon wedges, optional

In a shallow bowl, whisk eggs and milk. In a second bowl, combine all the breading elements.

Dip steak in the egg, then the crumb mixture. Have your oil hot in the skillet, about ½ inch deep. Brown the steak over a medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes per side.

Drain, season again to taste, and enjoy!

It tastes to me like Southern cooking that has kept going South, all the way to South America. Familiar, yet new.

Serves 8.

December 20, 2011

Holiday Subscripton Offer 2011

What’s the perfect gift for… the foodie on your list? The relative or friend who is currently a Mainer in exile, longing for a taste of their home state? The person who has everything? Yourself?

VegWreath-7727485px

It’s not too late to order the gift of Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine, a gift that will continue giving all year long with great recipes, local chef profiles, in-depth articles, and stunning photography.

Give the gift of Maine’s original food magazine, and make someone smile this holiday season. We’ll send the recipient a gift letter stating this gift is from you. Subscribe today for yourself or someone special on your holiday list!

Happy Holidays to you and those you love!

Melanie Hyatt & Jim Bazin

Alfajore Sandwich Cookies

How is it that I have lived thus far in ignorance of the Alfajore cookie?

I’ve just returned from South America with most of my travel time spent in Argentina. In a country that is 85% European heritage, it’s not surprising to find strong ties to different cultural heritages, German being one.

Sometimes called Alfajores Danubio, these cookies seem to be the national snack of Argentina and consist of a lemon or almond shortbread sandwich cookie nicely glued together with a generous dollop of Dulce de Leche, which is literally translated “milk jam” and regularly eaten for breakfast.

Argentina is the world’s largest producer of Dulce de Leche, (which Ben and Jerry’s ice cream may have helped to get on America’s radar). Now McDonald’s, Smuckers, Ben and Jerry’s, Haagen Dazs, and Hershey all use this flavor, which tastes like caramel.

Dulce de Leche is made by simply cooking down whole milk with a bit of sugar and vanilla to make a thick and delightfully fattening caramel filling. Some bakeries finish off the sandwich cookie with a quick roll in coconut on the sticky edge. These are beyond good and I like them best eaten in this traditional form. Now, of course, bakers are guilding the lily and offering Alfajores dipped in chocolate, sandwiched with homemade jams, for which Argentina is rightfully famous, or filled with mousse, etc. But give me the original any day of the week for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

My travel companion and I began to joke early on in our trip “Dulce de Leche, it’s not just for breakfast anymore!” You may agree.

I plan to add this new cookie revelation to my Christmas cookie tray this year.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Laura Cabot and the staff of Laura Cabot Catering!

Alfajores01
image: flamingomusings.com Continue reading “Alfajore Sandwich Cookies” »

August 24, 2011

Travel Channel Andrew Zimmern’s Maine Connection

Travel the world over, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a spot as serene, as beautiful, and as delicious as Maine. But don’t take our word for it. Ask Andrew Zimmern, star of the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.

In the new issue of Maine Food & Lifestyle, Andrew has many positive things to say about his adopted home state, including a touching tribute to his dad, who resides in Portland, and the highest praise for many of our favorite local chefs and restaurants. He shares his long history with Maine, his favorite haunts, and some outstanding Maine recipes, like one for Sweet and Sour Bangkok Style Lobster with Red Chiles.

IMG_7341_sRGBAndrew and Bob Zimmern (Andrew’s father) enjoying some Maine Chowdah.

Whether dining out at restaurants like Hugo’s, Fore Street, or  Back Bay Grill with his dad or hauling lobsters with the Greenlaw Family on Isle au Haut, Andrew thinks Maine is where the flavor’s at.

IMG_7198_sRGBCaptain Linda Greenlaw and Andrew Zimmern hauling traps on Isle au Haut.

Don’t miss this in-depth article with great images. Subscribe today to Maine’s original and only true food magazine!

August 23, 2011

Maine Food & Lifestyle Issue 13

We’re excited to report that the new issue of Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine prints this week! Issue 13 will be available soon! On the cover, we tease you with our lobster dinners at Cod End in Tenants Harbor.

Cover13(high)

As always, we offer recipes galore from several Maine destinations. Engaging feature articles complete with gorgeous photography await your every turn of the page.

In this issue: Travel Channel Andrew Zimmern’s Maine Connection, including his favorite Maine restaurants and recipes; Old Vines Wine Bar in Kennebunk, and The Stolen Menu Café and The Union Grill/Bluff Pub in York; Amalfi On the Water and Rustica Cucina Italiana, both well-established Rockland restaurants; two new eateries: Scott Yakovenko’s Slipway in Thomaston and Lynn Archer’s Archer’s on the Pier in Rockland, and much, much more!

Certified Master Gardener Maryann Blaisdell shares her love of gardening in her debut column. Editorial Assistant Chelsea Sonksen offers a tribute to Rock City Coffee and explores the Magic of a Full Moon Supper at Saltwater Farm.

Come sample some more of the good life in Maine. Subscribe or give the gift of good taste to those you love!

May 12, 2011

Maine Lobster Escargot

Editor’s Note: Here is another wonderful cookbook I received for review, called Flavors of the Florida Keys by Linda Gassenheimer. This entry called Lobster Escargot intrigued me, as it called for Maine lobster, which we all know is king.

Book note: A&B Lobster House has a prime spot with stunning views overlooking the Key West Bight, a part of Key West Harbor. You can reach it by walking along the Harbor Walk. Founded in 1947 by two men whose last names were Alonzo and Berlin, it’s still getting accolades today. Chef Phil Heimer won best appetizer at the Master Chef Competition for his lobster escargot. I’ve adapted his recipe for home cooking.

lobster-on-ice
image: mainelobsterdealers.org

Continue reading “Maine Lobster Escargot” »

February 22, 2011

Annato, Adobo, and Sofrito: A Latin Culinary Mystery Solved!

Can’t go tropical this year due to personal budget cuts? Me either. But I am revisiting one of my favorite recent vacations, Puerto Rico, from a culinary point of view. We’ll just have to imagine the sea and sand and tropical breezes….

Sofrito, Adobo and Annato were terms much bandied about in Latin cooking, but that didn’t mean that I really understood what they were. That is until I visited the magical island of Puerto Rico. I soon decided that “getting into one’s bathing suit” and Mofongo, their national dish of plantains with pork cracklings  and pork stew, didn’t really go together.

I came to love the island cooks’ delicious and deeply orange-y take on Arroz con Pollo, colored with Achiote oil or Annato seeds and Adobo, the richly flavored rub for meats or poultry and the basic seasoning behind so many traditional island foods we call Sofrito.

Here are recipes for preparing each and a recipe to practice your “Latin’ on….

ANNATO OR ACHIOTE is the seed of a tropical tree. If you can’t find them in a specialty market, I sometimes use a good paprika to achieve the rich reddish color that predominates in much Latin cooking.

sp_annatto05f
image: clovegarden.com

FOR ANNATO OIL…All you do is cook the ANNATO seeds with good paprika or saffron (if you are feeling flush and can’t find annato) until sizzling in lard or oil until you get that nice red-orange color. Do not overheat the oil or it will turn an off color. Cool a bit, then strain out the seeds. Keep this oil in the refrigerator and use by the spoonful for recipes like Chicken with Rice.

ADOBO is a blend of ingredients used to rub a unique flavor into meat or poultry. This recipe is appropriate for one pound of meat or chicken.

adobo
image: penandfork.com

1 teaspoon black peppercorns, whizzed in a coffee blender (I keep one in my kitchen for nothing but pepper)
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
¼ teaspoon of fresh or dried oregano, minced or crumbled
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon fresh lime juice

Mix all ingredients together and rub into your meat or chicken thoroughly. Let marinate for several hours for the best taste.

SOFRITO is the seasoning behind so many native dishes.

sofrito
image: arrozyfrijoles.com

1 ounce salt pork
2 ounces lean cured ham (pork and ham optional; you can make a great vegetarian version)
½ cup vegetable oil or lard, divided use
½ pound green pepper
½ pound white onion, peeled
¼ pound sweet red peppers
1 small head of garlic, peeled
1 small bunch of cilantro
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
You may want to add some salt to this recipe if salt pork is not used.
Tabasco sauce to taste

Wash all ingredients, seed them, and cut into small pieces.

Pour the first ¼ cup of vegetable oil into a blender and gradually add all the pork, vegetables, cilantro, and oregano and grind them up.

In a heavy kettle, pour the second ¼ cup of oil into the pot. Bring to medium heat and add the ground mixture. Bring up to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer and let cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Allow to cool, season with Tabasco to taste.

A  great way to use and keep Sofrito is to make ice cubes with it and keep them handy in the freezer, pulling out a few at a time to make a dish. They don’t stick together. Two to three cubes will suffice for a dish that feeds 6-8 people.

ARROZ CON POLLO

arrozconpollo
image: flickr.com

¼ cup of annato oil
1- 4 pound chicken, cut into ten pieces
Kosher salt and ground pepper
½ cup sofrito
¼ cup coarsely chopped green pimento stuffed olives (alcaparrado)
1 teaspoon cumin
Pinch of ground cloves
4 cups of long grain brown rice
5 cups of homemade chicken stock
1½ cups of roasted red peppers, cut into strips

Choose an attractive Paella pan or something that you can bring to the table for serving. It must have a tight fitting lid. In this large shallow pan, heat the Annato oil until it ripples. Add the salt and pepper seasoned chicken to the pan, only as many pieces as you can without crowding them, so you’ll be working in batches browning the chicken and cooking it almost through. Set it aside.

When the chicken has been cooked, add the sofrito and alcaparrado. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, adding the cumin and clove. Raise the heat and simmer off some of the water from the sofrito.

Stir in the rice and coat with the seasonings. Return the chicken to the pan and add enough broth to cover the rice by a width of two fingers (an inch, basically). Bring the rice to a boil and cook until the broth reaches the level of the rice. Stir and cover the pot tightly, reducing the heat to low. Let it cook until the rice is tender but firm, about 20 more minutes.

Fluff the rice with a fork, garnish with the red pepper strips, and bring the whole pot of chicken and rice to the table. If you don’t have a great looking pan, you may arrange the contents attractively on a large platter and dig in while hot.

Absolutely delicious, and cheaper than air fare!

Serves 6.

November 15, 2010

Pot Roast, Vegetables, and Beer

This is a great recipe for a quick family meal. Little prep time and makes great gravy for your meat and vegetables.

pot-roast-ck-1535414-l

Continue reading “Pot Roast, Vegetables, and Beer” »