Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Tribute

With great sadness I read today that one of my favorite farmers from the Orono Farmer Market, Joe McBrine, from Vine and Branch Farm, has recently passed away. I have a special relationship with Joe, because he sold me my first dozen of local organic free-range eggs 2 years ago, and being my favorite farmer (and his wife) to buy eggs from ever since. So sad to think that I won’t be seeing him anymore this summer as a familiar face at the Farmer Market.
joe mcbrine

Kale planting time

The sun is still rare but the temperatures are up and no frost in sight so I decided today to plant my kale seedlings in the raised bed. I hope the combination of light, warmth and rain will make them happy (and grow!). Some of the mache I planted last summer had actually survived the harsh Maine winter and 2 feet of snow, and is ready to go into a second season. The curly parsley is also saying hello to the new season.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Almost …free lunch

After I packed my lunch box and headed to work I realize it is “Maine Day” at the University of Maine. In the old days Maine Day meant no classes for a day and everyone rides around on a broomstick to clean the campus from the signs of the almost finished school year and winter. Nowadays it seems to involve actually getting dirty instead of cleaning anything.

mud volleyball

Besides a tournament of mud volleyball, it involved loud house music blasting from the fraternity houses, many people shaving their heads for a kids with cancer fundraiser and yes, free lunch – hamburgers, hot dogs, coleslaw and something that looked very much like beer (but very likely was no beer). I missed the free lunch by about 3 mins. Dang!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Young Cheddar

It was Easter Saturday, and more of the seemingly endless, harsh winter this year. Fortunately, it started out dry but still windy and cold; the tents at the farmers market were almost blown away. However, there was wonderful tuna and crab meat (as well as live crabs) at the Lobster Shack and at Olde Oak Farm I bought some of the first, mild cheddar of the year. Tomorrow will be warmer and warmer months are ahead. At least, we hope. I think otherwise everyone will be ready to buy a one way ticket to the Caribbean.
cheddar olde oak farme

Friday, April 22, 2011

It is Earth Day today!

Earth day, Good Friday, the Easter weekend upon us and it is also a sunny and maybe not too frigid day so that I can celebrate Earth Day with leaving the car in the garage and bike around. Also, the annual group of greenish painted nakid students biking around on campus won’t freeze their nakid butts off (I am not one of them, but let me tell you it’s quite a surprise running in 10 nakid students on campus waving and shouting "Happy Earth Day!"). So, I leave you with Leonardo Di Caprio and a baby picture of Knut, the polar bear, who sadly passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 4 years. RIP, Knut and hopefully something will done to rescue the wild life polar bears with keeping a lid on global warming.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

First grilled corn of 2011

It is still more than chilly in Maine despite the abundant sunshine. Some patio furniture and the first plants are already outside. I am more than looking forward to a summer of vegan eats, so different from mostly frozen vegetables and salads in the winter, fresh seasonal produce will be available. When I saw cobs of corn at the supermarket, I was plotting my first vegan meal on the BBQ.
I cleared out some of the corn husk, and put the cobs on the grill on medium heat, and let the inside steam and perfectly cook protected by its own leaves.
After about 20 min, the hulls were charred and the corn perfectly steamed. I pulled back the husk to add some grill marks to the corn. The BBQ helped with the final removing the husk by them just burning it off.
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At the same time, I put 2 big sweet potatoes on the bbq, poking its skin to let the steam escape. After 30min they were soft cooked and caramel sweet. Adding some garlicky kale salad, the first BBQ lunch was ready.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lobster, revisited

Lobster is one of my favorite dishes, lucky me living in Maine. I love eating freshly steamed lobster at the road side lobster shacks on the way to Acadia National park. Only recently, however, I discovered there is more to lobster than the delicious lobster meat – the shells! After watching old Julia Child episodes I had started to make my own stock last year, mostly with Maine shrimp shells. Especially seafood stock is incredible when home-made and used for risotto.
After I enjoyed my birthday lobster, it was time to make stock. Slow cooked, with cognac, sweet onions, herbs, and tomatoes. It is waiting now in my freezer for my next seafood risotto or lobster risotto. 

Lobster Stock (based on Julia Child’s stock for bouillabaisse):
  • 1 sliced sweet onion
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • A heavy 8-quart kettle or casserole
  • 2 TB tomato paste
  • 3 cloves mashed garlic
  • swig of cognac
Cook the onions slowly in the olive oil for 5 minutes without browning. Take pot from flame, add in the cognac, stir, put back on heat and cook cognac off (or flambe it!). Stir in the tomato paste and garlic, and cook 5 minutes more.
  • 2½ quarts water
  • 2 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • a few juniper berries
  • a pinch of saffron
  • A 2-inch piece or ½ tsp dried orange peel
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • shells of 2 lobsters (not the body, just tail and claws)
Add the water, herbs, seasoning, and lobster shells to the pot. Bring to boil, and cook, uncovered, at the very slow boil for 2h. Strain, correct seasoning. Set aside, uncovered, until cool. If you are not using immediately, refrigerate or freeze.
FOOD (1 of 1) lobster_broth

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A little piece of heaven

Yesterday, I was in heaven for about 10 min eating a small serving of zabaglione gelato from Gorgeous Gelato on Fore Street in Portland. It was my birthday weekend trip to Portland, and K. had mentioned that a pretty good gelato place had opened, if I had tried it out already. Gelato? Can that be trusted if the gelato place is not located in Italy? Well, this one can be trusted.
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The gelato is freshly made everyday in small batches with authentic Italian recipes. Chocolate, berries, cinnamon, tiramisu and other wonderful flavors. It really puts you in heaven for 10 mins.
Gorgeous Gelato, 434 Fore Street, Portland, ME   (website)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fiery Volcano Risotto

The temperatures outside need a little bit of help. A fiery hot risotto might do so, especially if it is made with home-made stock from Maine shrimp, hot fresh chilies, and scallops, mussels and shrimp.
  • 1/2 cup Arborio rice, washed and rinsed
  • 1 ts ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1/2 sweet white onion, finely minced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • good splash of dry white wine
  • 1 fresh hot chili, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 cup of home-made shrimp stock
  • 1 TB tomato paste
  • 6 large scallops
  • handful of frozen or fresh shrimp
  • 10 mussels
  • 2 TB fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the clarified butter in a heavy sauce pan on medium-high heat. Add onion and sweat until translucent. Then add the washed rice, the garlic and the chili, stir and toast for 30 seconds on medium heat.Add the white wine, stir gentle and wait until it is evaporated. Turn down the heat to medium-low, and start laddling in 1/4-1/2 cup of heated shrimp stock to the risotto. Cook the risotto gently on low heat until the liquid is evaporated (4-5 min). Once the stock is cooked off, add another 1/2 cup of shrimp stock. Repeat until the rice is soft and cooked (about 20 min). Now, add the seafood and cook another 3-4 minutes until the seafood is just cooked. Add the parmesan cheese and gently stir in. Serve!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Garlicky Kale

Last time I perused the salad bar at   the Whole Foods Market in Portland, I tried the ‘garlicky kale’. I must admit I was not a big fan of raw kale before since its texture felt too coarse, but the very garlicky dressing made me forget all about it. Grabbing a large bunch of curly kale last time at the grocery store, it was time to recreate the recipe, and it came out amazingly well
  • 1/2 bunch curly kale, washed and padded dry
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 TB Trader Joes' Champagne Pear Dressing
  • 1 TB fat reduced feta crumbles
  • pepper to taste
In a bowl, whisk all the marinade/sauce ingredients, and then rip the kale leaves into ‘chips’, discard the steams. Using your hands, mix in the marinade. Cover bowl with a lid, and let sit for about 1h in the fridge. Serve!
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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Lamb Olive Tagine

There was still a half pound of local, organic, grass-fed lamb from last year farmer market in my freezer, and since it is the season of fresh lamb soon again with Easter slowly approaching, I decided to cook it in a wonderful recipe by Nigella Lawson. A simple stew with onions, kalamata olives, capers, a good amount of good red wine and slowly cooked for 1 1/2 hours.

  • 1/2 pound lamb shoulder, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 large sweet white onion, peeled, halved and cut into thin half moons
  • 1 cup whole kalamata olives, drained (preserve 2 TB brine)
  • 4 TB capers, drained (preserve 2 TB brine )
  • 1 TB tomato paste
  • 2 cups of cabernet
  • 1/2 TB cumin
  • salt, pepper to tasted

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil, and brown the lamb cubes in batches so that each batch has enough bottom surface individually to brown the meat on all sides for a few minutes; add salt and pepper to each batch. Save the browned meat on a separate plate. Once oll the lamb is browned, add the onions, the kalamata and capers brine, and cook onions down for 3-4 minutes. Now, add the meat back in, the olives, kalamata, cumin, tomato paste and the red wine. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid, and cook covered on very low heat for about 1 1/2 hours until the lamb is extremely tender. Serve with couscous!


Winter wonderland, once again

This week, we went from this
to this on April 1 (no joke!)….
to waking up this this…… I guess I will be going skiing again!