Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Golden Beet Salad at Rupununi

It was one of those hot summer day, temperatures in the upper 80s, bright blue sky, bright sun and a light ocean breeze (likely). I drove to Acadia National Park to get a dose of vacation in 'vacationland', still being back home in the afternoon to get some work done. It was the first time I went there since the Obamas had visited. I wondered if it was the newly added national PR or simply the height of summer tourist season that the parked cars at the start of the hikes had tripled and that at Jordan Pond House the cars parked a 1/2 mile down the carriage road. Okay...

The walk around Jordan pond was relaxed and picturesque. I was not up for climbing heights due to the heat, but the light breeze and the shady trees made for a great, relaxed, breezy, even leveled hike. 

Back at Jordan Pond House, I was redirected from the lawn to the receptionist to the information desk to be handed a beeper and a "1h waiting time". After 15 min waiting, I decided that despite of visions of popovers and lobster salad I did not have the patience to wait, and handed the beeper to another guest in line at the information desk. I headed out of the crowds towards a relatively empty Bar Harbor, and my other favorite restaurant, Rupununi, had no line and plenty of tables. "Life as it should be". The golden beet salad with goat cheese, greens and pine nuts was delicious, as usual.

The crowds felt a bit un-Maine-ish today.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It's the time of the year again...

The height of summer is announced by fields and barrens of ripe wild blueberries. Around mid-July, the first pints of local blueberries pop up at the farmers market, and it is around that time that I schedule my annual 'blueberry field trip'. In the region around (appropriately called) Blue Hill, many wild blueberry barrens are tended by local farmers, and the blueberry fields stretch endlessly into the horizon. Last year, 88 million pounds of wild blueberries were harvested in Maine, and around 600,000 pounds were sold fresh. Maine is actually the largest producer of wild blueberries in the world. 

Naturally, there are also many patches with truly wild blueberries, which you can pick yourself, including a back ache from bending over for hours, and tinted fingers and mouth, but being shielded from investigating farmers for illegal picking. Anyway, I get my blueberries from the farmers market after a few of those bent back adventures, but I am still mesmerized by the blueberries fields. They remind me of the Beatles song "Strawberry fields forever". Just blueberry fields forever, in my case. There is a true beauty to those endless fields of barely 10 inch high plants, which turn a deep reddish purple in the fall, the tiny green leaves, and the clusters of sweet blueberries,..... a sea of blueberries. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Haddock en Escabeche

When I saw Rick Bayless the first time on the newly launched Cooking Channel a few weeks ago, I was hooked: this man knows Mexican cuisine. He does not only have his James Beard award and a Top Chef win to prove it, but his talking about Mexican cuisine speaks for itself. Since his shows are on PBS (appropriately), but not available on satellite, I ordered a few of his DVDs from his website.  Today, I watched one of the DVDs, and lunch was decided: haddock en escabeche.

Serves 2
2 TB olive oil
1 medium white onion, sliced in full rounds, 1/8-inch thick
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly sliced into long thin sticks
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup of water
1 large sprig fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried), plus a few sprigs for garnish
1 sprig fresh marjoram (or 1/2 teaspoon dried), plus a few sprigs for garnish
A 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly and coarsely ground
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
a few black and green olives
2-3 pickled jalapeƱo chiles, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
Salt, about 1 teaspoon
2 haddock fillets

1. Making the escabeche. Heat the oil in a large (12-inch), deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and carrots on not too high heat; stir often, until onions are crisp-tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, water, thyme, marjoram, cinnamon stick, pepper, bay and cloves. Cover, and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat, add the jalapeƱos, and season with salt, usually about 1/4 teaspoon.It should still be brothy.
2. Season the haddock fillet with salt and pepper. Wipe out the skillet, add a 1/2 tablespoon of the oil and set over medium heat. When hot, fry the haddock. Cook, turning once, until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer the haddock to a baking dish and pour the escabeche over the fish. Let cool to room temperature, and serve.
3. Serving. Remove the bay leaves, cloves and cinnamon. Garnish with sprigs of thyme and marjoram. Enjoy!

Friday, July 16, 2010

So, they are here

The First Family is spending weekend getaway on Mount Desert Island this weekend. We Mainers feel honored, and admire their good taste. Mount Desert Island is one of the most beautiful island in the US to go hiking with phenomenal ocean views, biking on sandy and shady carriage roads,  kajak along the sounds, sail to nearby islands like the Cranberry Islands from Southwest Harbor, swim in Echo Lake, and, of course, eat lobster or steamers at a roadside lobster shack (or something more fancy). The weather could not be better this weekend.

It seems reasonable to avoid MDI for the next few days, or factor in to be stopped to let the motorcade pass by, or see your favorite hike being closed for the Obamas. But then, there are plenty of other hikes, and typically even in the height of the tourist season Acadia provides a relaxing degree of privacy and calm.

So, what will they do? Take in the views from the mountains.....

Enjoy a lunch at Jordan Pond house, and eat the famous popovers with strawberry jam...

Enjoy the view of Bar Harbor's harbor at sunset from their hotel.... (the blueberry pie at the Bar Harbor Regency is definitely worth trying!)

Sail in Southwest Harbor...

And maybe, eat a steamed Maine lobster.

Well, at least this is what I would do this weekend. But then, there is always next weekend.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lobster Ravioli

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I received a coupon for a Buitoni Frozen Meal for 2 a while back. There are several seductive options to choose from, but, of course, my first choice had to be: Maine Lobster Ravioli! Unfortunately, I could not find this particular product in my local Target store, and so I settled for Lobster and Shrimp (close enough!). The entire package, found in the frozen food section, is a meal for 2 people (but about 4 full meals for me!). The ravioli are large and filled with a tasty mix of lobster, shrimp and a creamy sauce. I was delighted when I tasted large pieces of succulent lobster meat in the ravioli, just how it should be. Definitely a treat worth for a special meal!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Finds from the Farmers Market

It was finally cooling down, and rain was predicted for the day. Looking at the weather map, it was clear the best time to go to the farmers market would be before 9am. Obviously, everyone else thought so, too, and I've never seen so many people at the FM. Despite telling myself "only the essentials!" I spent a fortune as usual, but the finds were wonderful: an almost 1 pound blue fin tuna steak from the Stonington fish truck, free range eggs from Maine-ly Poultry, mixed lettuce with some yellow flower petals and fresh summer squash from Peacemeal farm and my favorite goat cheese from Olde Oak Farm. Good eats!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Day on the beach

The July 4th weekend is finally here, the official start of summer. Of summer-summer, with temperatures in the 90s, humidity, and a desire to be close to water.... any water, a lake, a river, a pool or the ocean. Since the ocean's water temperature are frigid along the coast, it is most attractive on a really hot day like today. The cooling breeze invites for a stroll with the feet in the water, the only body part that can really get used to the water temperatures.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kale smoothie, the summer version

Kale, the superfood. I am not particularly fond of curly kale, but adore lacinato kale. The one planted in my garden is growing, and every other morning, a kale smoothie is breakfast with fresh cut leaves from the raised bed.

8-10 medium sized lacinato kale leaves
1 cup greek yogurt
1/2 frozen or fresh banana
1 TB agave nectar or honey

Put in blender and puree until smooth. If consistency is too thick, add water.