Friday, September 30, 2011

Hiding away in Hamlin Marina

I have been waiting for a place like this for a while. A long while. Any desires to sit near the water, watch boats, and have a meal outdoors in the sunset took a drive to the coast in the past. Bar Harbor, Belfast, Castine. Not anymore. Now, it is no more than a stone throw away. 

A few months ago McLaughlin Seafood opened a restaurant in the Hamlin Marina (formerly the Dana Grill), a quaint place with a beautiful views of the marina, no traffic (besides quiet boat traffic) in eye and hear sight, and a perfect view of the sunset, the river and the boats. The restaurant has a larger new patio area that will be covered with glass windows in the future, and a new deck that is currently built on top of the patio. Nothing better than having a pumpkin ale, sitting outdoors at the end of September and enjoying another day of Indian summer.  Friday nights even with live music.

Hamlin_marina_3 Hamlin_marina_2
Hamlin_marina_5 Hamlin_marina_1
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McLaughlin Seafood a the Marina, 108A Marina Rd, Hampden, ME, 207-990 1111

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Almost Vegan Stuffed Ancho Chiles

Today, a large basket of home-grown fresh ancho chiles appeared at work from a mystery gardener. I happily took a few home, and used them to make a loosely inspired type of chili relenos: stuffed, some type of cheese and baked. From yesterday, I had leftover farro french lentils slow-cooked with tomatoes, hot chiles, broth, cumin and some taco powder. I baked the chili on a small bed of roasted red pepper soup (Trader Joes), and with sheep's milk feta on top (Daiya chedder would have been nice, too). I baked them for 45min at 425h uncovered in the toaster oven (30min would probably have been fine). Delicious!!

chili_stuffed chili_stuffed2

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Late Summer Farmers Market

Today, the weather is bright and sunny, the temperatures are starting to come down and I actually had to wear a jacket biking to the farmers market. It won’t be long and I have to bundle up. The produce was bright, tomatoes, hot peppers, goat cheeses, organic beef and endless kid cuteness.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chanterelle and Red Kuri Squash Risotto

It is the time of the year again when the mild mushroom start to grow plentiful. Rain and still warm temperatures make the mushroom pop up everywhere in the forest. Chanterelles and porcini are my favorite wild mushroom, and chanterelles are a delicacy when they are fresh. Last week I have been lucky to find some and besides simply sauteing them risotto is my favorite way to cook wild mushroom. This recipe also adds the first red kuri squash of the fall 2011 season.

 chanterelle risotto fresh chanterelles red kuri squash

Red Kuri Squash and Chanterelle Risotto (makes 2 servings):

  • 1/2 cup Arborio rice, washed and rinsed
  • 1 ts butter
  • 1 ts olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet white onion, finely minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup of sliced, washed leeks (ca. 1/3 of a long stalk)
  • good splash of dry white wine
  • ca. 150g red kuri squash, peeled and diced
  • ca. 200g cleaned and sliced chanterelles
  • 1 1/2 cup of vegetable stock
  • 2 TB fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 TB (vegan) sour cream

Heat the butter and olive oil in a heavy sauce pan on medium-high heat. Add onion and sweat until translucent. Then add the garlic and the leeks and saute for ca 1 min. Add the washed rice and stir and toast for 30 seconds. Add the white wine, stir gentle and wait until the wine is evaporated. Add the kuri squash and chanterelles. Turn down the heat to medium-low, and start laddling in 1/4-1/2 cup of heated vegetable 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 stock. Repeat until the rice is soft and cooked (about 20 min). Add the parmesan cheese and gently stir in. Serve!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Big’ n’ Tasty--- Vegan Lasagna

Big and tasty…… that reminds me of a burger, a big juicy burger. But this dish is really the opposite: a vegan lasagna. However, it is big and tasty in flavors, texture and satisfaction I am not missing any cheese or meat. Vegan lasagna often includes a layer made of tofu and spinach, but this combination can be quite bland in taste. I added several things to make sure this does not happen: some garlic, bouillon, grated nutmeg, and white wine, and a tablespoon of mint pesto and vegan sour cream.

vegan lasagna

Vegan Lasagna: (Makes 4 large servings)

Spinach Tofu layer:

  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • a bundle of fresh spinach  (or a bag of baby spinach)
  • 2 TB chardonnay (or white wine)
  • 1/2 ts bouillon (powder or cube)
  • fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 package of light tofu, drained in press
  • 1 TB vegan sour cream
  • 1 TB mint pistachio pesto (or handful of fresh mint, and a TB of extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 2 TB nutritional yeast
  • slat and pepper to taste
  • 1 jar of marinara sauce (home-made or Giada’s Vegetabale Marinara at Target is my favorite)
  • 2/3 of a package of at lasagna noodles (boil or no-boil will work)
  • some cured kalamata olives
  • a fresh tomato, sliced
  • 0ptional: vegan cheese like Daiya


To make Spinach filling: Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and garlic in oil 4 minutes. Chop spinach and add to pan, together with bouillon, pepper, nutmeg and white wine, and cook 5 minutes, or until all liquid is evaporated. Drain and transfer spinach mixture to the bowl of food processor. Add drained tofu, vegan sour cream, nutritional yeast, pesto and purée until the mixture is thick and smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Spread one-quarter of the marinara sauce on bottom of small, long baking dish. Cover with one-third of the (cooked or uncooked, works with both) noodles (break them up so that they fit width-wise), then add 1/3 of spinach filling, and ladle on another layer of sauce. Repeat twice. Finish with final layer of marinara sauce, some fresh sliced tomato, kalamata olives and vegan mozzarella.

Cover lasagna with foil, and bake 30 minutes first. Then uncover, and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, or until noodles are tender and topping is melted. Remove from oven, and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Bon appetite!

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Fall superpowers.

My elderberry shrub is really a friendly plant. It is growing taller and taller (twice as tall as me?) but when the berries ripen it bends down like a UK commoner would bow meeting his Queen. The branches get so heavy from the weight of the ripening berries that it bends all the way down to the ground, and it is time for the annual elderberry harvest. I snip off the berries with scissors, and wash then gently. I remove all the berries and cook then in a large pot filled with water barely covering the berries. Once the pot comes to a boil, I simmer the berries for 10min, and after that let it cool to room temperature for a few hours.
I pour the berries and (black) juice into a large sieve that has a large bowl underneath and capture the juice. Then I smash the berries for the last bit of tasty juice residue and discard them on the compost pile. The juice stores well for a few days in the fridge, and just needs a bit of sweetener.

Why elderberry juice? “Black elderberry has been used medicinally for hundreds of years.” (wikipedia) They are definitely a local superfood, similar to blueberries. Who needs goji berries? 

 elderberry cooked elderberries elderberry juice