From the Atlantic Ocean to well-tended organic farms, Maine offers some of the best raw materials for rustic, hearty cuisine. Add the independent spirit and quiet humor of the people and it becomes apparent why chefs, fisherman, and artisans are drawn to the state. Their fierce pride, respect for the land, and lack of pretension are recognizable ingredients in the food they produce, from fresh lobster to blueberry pancakes. Dive in to the salty personality of Maine’s cuisine!
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Starters, Snacks, Sandwiches, and So On
Jalapeño Johnnycakes Topped with Smoked Fish
MAKES ABOUT 60 PANCAKES (ABOUT 10 SERVINGS)
Henry & Marty, a wonderful restaurant in Brunswick, serves these savory little cakes as an accompaniment to their luxurious lobster salad. The Johnnycakes have so much intrinsic flavor that I love them as an hors d'oeuvre, topped with a small piece of almost any smoked fish — salmon, arctic char, smoked Maine shrimp, or scallops.
* ¾ cup cornmeal
* ½ cup all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* ½ teaspoon ground cumin
* ½ teaspoon dried oregano
* ½ teaspoon salt
* 1 egg
* 1 cup low-fat or whole milk
* 2 tablespoons finely chopped seeded jalapeño chiles
* 4 tablespoons finely chopped scallions (about 4 scallions)
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 teaspoon liquid hot pepper sauce (see Note)
* 1 cup corn kernels (thawed frozen corn is fine)
* 1 tablespoon butter
* Approximately 60 small pieces (the size of a quarter) smoked salmon, arctic char, smoked shrimp, or scallops
1. Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, cumin, oregano, and salt in a bowl.
2. In another bowl, whisk the egg with the milk. Whisk in the jalapeños, 2 tablespoons of the scallions, oil, and hot pepper sauce. Gently whisk the egg mixture into the cornmeal mixture. Stir in the corn.
3. Heat the butter in a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Spoon out the batter by half-tablespoons to make pancakes about the size of silver dollars. Cook, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to baking sheets and repeat until batter is used.
4. Serve immediately, or reheat in a 375°F oven until just warm. Top each pancake with a piece of seafood, sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons scallions, and serve.
Note:At Henry & Marty in Brunswick, they prefer Frank's hot sauce. Tabasco is fine, but be aware that it is a little hotter, so adjust to your taste.
Smoked Salmon and Scallion Triangles
MAKES 32 TRIANGLES
I'm always looking for ways to showcase Maine's gorgeous smoked salmon. This is my version of the rather classic hors d'oeuvre, and it's one of my favorites. The dense, chewy pumpernickel makes an ideal hand-held base, the richness of the scallion butter counterpoints the salty fish, and the piquant, vinegary capers are the perfect little burst-in-the-mouth garnish.
* ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
* ¼ cup finely minced scallions (about 2 scallions), plus scallion brushes as garnish (optional; see Note)
* 2 teaspoons coarse-grain mustard
* 8 pieces thin-sliced sandwich-size pumpernickel bread
* ¼ pound thinly sliced smoked salmon
* 1 ½ tablespoons small capers, drained
* Freshly ground black pepper, coarse grind
1. Combine the butter, scallions, and mustard in a small bowl and mix well. (This can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Return to room temperature before using.)
2. Place the bread on a work surface and spread evenly with the scallion butter. Arrange the salmon evenly over the butter, coming to within ¼ inch or so of the edge of the bread. With a large knife, cut off the crusts; then cut each piece of bread diagonally into four triangles. Arrange on a platter and scatter with the capers, pressing them into the salmon. Grind the pepper to taste over the top. (These can be made up to 3 hours ahead. Cover with damp paper towels, then wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)
3. If desired, garnish with the scallion brushes before serving.
Note:To make the scallion brushes, trim 4 or 5 scallions into 4-inch lengths and cut off the root ends. Make 4 or 5 cuts (1 inch long) in the white ends of the scallions. Drop into a bowl of water and ice cubes and let stand for about 30 minutes. The ends of the scallions will open up into a feathery brush.
Salt Cod Mousse with Farmers' Market Dippers
Before the days of refrigeration and food processing, dried salt cod was a staple ingredient, an essential part of the New England diet. For about a hundred years, salt cod was packaged in cute little wooden boxes, and Mainers loved to combine it with mashed potatoes and shape it into delicate cakes (see Salt Codfish Cakes with Bacon). It was beginning to fade from the scene, but recently, because of its deliciously intense flavor, salt cod experienced something of a resurgence. This mousse, called brandade de morue, is a classic French treatment for the salted fish, and since Maine does have ties with French Canada, I think it can very legitimately be included here.
* 1 pound salt cod
* 2 garlic cloves, peeled
* 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
* 2/3 cup olive oil
* 3 tablespoons snipped fresh chives, plus longer chive spears for garnish
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of medium lemon)
* 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* Assorted firm vegetables for dipping, such as bell pepper strips, broccoli florets, carrots, grape tomatoes, asparagus, and small steamed new potatoes (about 2½pounds total)
1. Soak the cod in a large dish in cold water to cover overnight, changing the water twice.
2. Drain, place the cod in a saucepan or large skillet, add water to cover, and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium-low heat until the fish is soft and flakes easily with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, strip off and discard any skin and remove any bones.
3. Place half the cod in a food processor with the garlic and ¼ cup of the cream and process, scraping down the sides once or twice, until smooth. Add the remaining cod and ¼ cup more cream, and repeat. With the motor running, drizzle the remaining cream and the olive oil through the feed tube, processing until smooth, creamy, and light.
4. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the chives, lemon juice, and nutmeg. Season with the salt and pepper to taste. It may not need salt; the salt cod may provide enough. (The mousse can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated.)
5. Bring to room temperature (if prepared ahead), garnish with the chive spears, surround with the vegetables, and serve.
Carter Point Lemon-Tarragon Crab Spread
MAKES ABOUT 50 HORS D'OEUVRES (ABOUT 8 SERVINGS)
Coast-of-Mainers are lucky enough to be able to buy sweet, freshly picked crabmeat from local vendors during much of the year. This spread, bound with mayonnaise and some cream cheese to give it a bit of body and spiked with lemon and tarragon, is my favorite treatment of the delicate meat. It's got just enough seasoning to enhance, while allowing the incredible flavor of the fresh crabmeat to still shine through.
* ¼ cup mayonnaise
* 1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened (see Note)
* 1/3 cup finely chopped scallions (about 2 scallions)
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dried), plus sprigs for garnish (optional)
* 1½ teaspoons grated lemon zest (from ½ medium lemon)
* ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1 pound fresh crabmeat, picked over to remove any shell or cartilage
* 2 European cucumbers
1. Whisk together the mayonnaise, cream cheese, scallions, tarragon, lemon zest, and cayenne in a large bowl until smooth.
2. Add the crab and stir with a large fork until well mixed. Season with the salt to taste. (You can make this up to 6 hours ahead and refrigerate.)
3. Score the cucumbers horizontally with a fork and slice about ¼-inch thick. Spoon the crab mixture atop the cucumber slices, garnish with a tarragon sprig, if desired, and serve. (Alternatively, place the crab mixture in a bowl, surround with the cucumber slices, and let guests serve themselves.)
Note:If you forget to leave the cream cheese out at room temperature for an hour or so to soften, simply remove from its foil wrapper and zap it in the microwave for a few seconds.
Tiny Crab Cakes with Curry-Orange Mayo
MAKES ABOUT 24 MINI CAKES (4–6 SERVINGS)
These crab cakes, made with Maine's sweet lump crabmeat, are a fabulous hors d'oeuvre, passed on a platter with a piquant curry-orange dipping sauce. Of course, you can make them with any good-quality fresh or pasteurized crabmeat. To serve the cakes as a knife-and-fork first course, shape them larger and present two or three on a plate, topped with dollops of the sauce.
* ½ cup mayonnaise
* 1 tablespoon curry powder
* ½ teaspoon grated orange zest
* 1 tablespoon orange juice (juice of about ¼ orange)
* ½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped scallions or chives
TINY CRAB CAKES
* 1 egg
* 1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs (see Note)
* ¼ cup finely chopped scallions (2–3 scallions)
* 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
* 1 teaspoon lemon juice (juice of about 1/6 medium lemon)
* ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
* ¼ teaspoon seafood seasoning mix, such as Old Bay
* 8 ounces fresh lump-style crabmeat, picked over
* 2–3 tablespoons vegetable oil
* Scallion brushes for garnish (optional; see here)
1. To make the Curry-Orange Mayo, whisk together the mayonnaise, curry powder, orange zest, orange juice, and Tabasco in a small bowl. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days. When ready to serve, transfer to a pretty bowl and sprinkle with the scallions.
2. To make the crab cakes, lightly beat the egg in a large bowl. Add ¾ cup of the breadcrumbs, the scallions, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and seasoning mix. Stir well to blend. Add the crabmeat and mix gently, being careful not to shred the crabmeat entirely.
3. Spread the remaining ¾ cup of breadcrumbs onto a plate. Form the crab mixture into 24 cakes, using a scant tablespoon for each one, and dredge lightly in the crumbs. Arrange on a wax paper-lined baking sheet.
4. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in one or two large skillets over medium heat. Cook the cakes until golden brown and crisp on one side, about 2 to 2½ minutes. Flip and repeat. The cakes should be hot inside. Repeat with any remaining cakes, adding more oil as necessary. Serve immediately, or place on a foil-lined baking sheet, wrap well, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, or freeze for up to 2 weeks.
5. If you make the cakes ahead, remove from the refrigerator or freezer 30 minutes prior to reheating. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake the cakes until hot and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.
6. Arrange on a platter with the sauce for dipping, and garnish with the scallion brushes, if desired.
Note:Tear 3 slices of good-quality bread into pieces and whir in a food processor to make breadcrumbs.
Limed Lobster and Melon Skewers
MAKES ABOUT 40 SMALL SKEWERS (ABOUT 6 SERVINGS)
Let's be honest: even in Maine, serving lobster to a group of more than a few people can get prohibitively costly. But if you use the lobster meat as part of a single-bite hors d'oeuvre, then it becomes ever so much more affordable. The inspiration for these very pretty and absolutely delicious little skewers comes from my friend Holly Williams, who lives in Georgia. Sometimes it takes the insight of a person "from away" to illuminate what should have been obvious all along.
* ¼ cup olive oil
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish
* 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
* 1½ tablespoons lime juice (juice of medium lime)
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* ½ teaspoon salt
* ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 2 cups cooked lobster meat, cut into ¾-inch chunks
* About 40 cubes (¾-inch each) honeydew melon or cantaloupe
* About 40 tiny triangles of thinly sliced lime (see Note)
* About 40 bamboo skewers (5 inches each) or long toothpicks
1. Whisk together the oil, cilantro, lime zest and juice, garlic, salt, and cayenne in a medium-sized bowl. Add the lobster meat and stir to combine. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or for up to 4 hours.
2. When ready to assemble, thread the skewers with one cube of melon, one slice of lime, and a chunk of lobster. (If using the longer skewers, stack the food near the end of the pick so that guests can eat it easily.)
3. Arrange the skewers on a platter. (The skewers can be assembled up to about an hour ahead and refrigerated, covered.) Garnish with the cilantro sprigs before serving.
Note:To make the lime triangles, cut a lime in half lengthwise and cut several very thin slices. Cut each sliced half into triangles less than ½-inch wide.
8–10 APPETIZER SERVINGS
I originally developed this recipe for my New England Cookbook (Harvard Common Press, 1999), but out of necessity have since adapted and streamlined it because I now make these citrusy mussels in large quantities every summer for our annual Mussel Mania party. I put out large bowls of the mussels, along with baskets of cubed peasant bread. Guests serve themselves a bowl full, eat them mostly with their fingers, and mop up the sauce with the bread. The sauce gets its delightfully salty intensity from a little hit of anchovies.
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 cup finely chopped onion (1 medium onion)
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 4 anchovy fillets (from a 2-ounce can), coarsely chopped
* 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
* ½ teaspoon grated lime zest
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice (juice of ½ medium lemon)
* 1 tablespoon lime juice (juice of medium lime)
* ¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
* 2 pounds mussels, rinsed and debearded (see Note) if necessary
* ½ cup dry white wine
* ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
* Thin slices of lemon and lime for garnish
1. Heat the oil in a medium-sized skillet. Cook the onion in the oil over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and anchovies and cook, mashing the anchovies until they dissolve, for 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon and lime zest and juice and the pepper flakes. (This base can be made a day or so ahead and refrigerated, or frozen for up to 3 weeks.)
2. Combine the mussels and wine in a large pot. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the mussels open, 4 to 10 minutes, depending on size. Remove the mussels from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to a serving bowl.
3. Meanwhile, if the citrus sauce base has been refrigerated or frozen, reheat in a saucepan. Carefully pour the mussel broth into the citrus mixture, leaving behind the last third or so of the liquid, lest it contain any grit.
4. Pour this sauce over the mussels, sprinkle with parsley, garnish with the lemon and lime slices, and serve.
Note:To debeard mussels, pull out the dark threads that protrude from the shell. Do this just before cooking; mussels die when debearded.
"Nude" Raw Oysters with Sauces
These oysters are among the raw bivalves that are a specialty at the eponymously named J's Oyster Bar. (And what if I told you that half-shell oysters are, almost unbelievably, free during happy hour for the entire month of February?) J's other oyster treatments include baked stuffed oysters, oysters Rockefeller, and oysters Mornay. You can also order an oyster sampler of all of the above.
* About 36 fresh raw oysters
* Horseradish, either freshly grated or from a fresh bottle of prepared horseradish
* Lemon wedges
* Mignonette Sauce (recipes follow)
* Tabasco sauce, or other liquid hot pepper sauce
1. Either have the oysters shucked at the fish market or shuck them yourself (see Maine Oysters, page 32). Arrange on a large platter on crushed ice.
2. Place the horseradish, ketchup, lemon wedges, and Mignonette Sauce in separate small bowls, but leave the hot pepper sauce in the bottle. Suggest that guests dress their oysters as they desire. Slurp and eat.
Peel 'n' Eat Maine Shrimp Boil with East-West Sauces
During the brief winter season when Maine shrimp are available fresh, I like to serve and eat them as often as possible. The tiny shrimp can now be bought peeled, but I think the flavor is better when they're cooked in their shells. In this preparation, guests are invited to peel off the shrimp's papery skins themselves and dunk in a choice of two sauces. It's a delightfully messy proposition, so serve the shrimp this way at a less-than-formal occasion — and provide plenty of napkins!
Excerpted from "Dishing Up Maine"
Copyright © 2006 Brooke Dojny.
Excerpted by permission of Storey Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1: Starters, Snacks, Sandwiches, and So On. Tasty morsels to begin the journey
2: Fresh from the Farmers' Market. Flavorful, local, sustainable -- a celebration of seasonal produce
3: The Chowder Pot, Soup Tureen, and Other One-Pot Wonders. Simple warmth in a single dish
4: Maine-Style Meat and Poultry. Tender preparations from a hardy state
5: Jewels of the Sea: Fin Fish and Shellfish Maine Style. The crowning glory of the Maine table
6: For the Breakfast Table, Bread Box, and Pantry. Hearty beginnings, piquant accompaniments
7: Delectable Desserts. A pint of wild blueberries, a splash of maple syrup
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These recipes range from the tried-and-true to the new combinations that restaurants are making with local ingredients. And it has the recipe for Moody's Diner's Walnut Pie. MMM!
A few years ago, my family spent several weeks in Maine, and I fell in love. Early October, the scenes were gorgeous, the people friendly and the food fantastic. I could not WAIT to get my hands on this cookbook! While there is an abundance of scrumptious recipes, I was so terribly disappointed in the dearth of seafood chowder/stew recipes. There are a few for a specific ingredient (haddock, mussels, lobster, etc), but only one for a mixed seafood stew, and that was Mediterranean Seafood Stew. If I want a Mediterranean dish, I'll go to a Mediterranean cookbook. In a Maine cookbook, I want MAINE foods!! While in Maine we happened by chance upon the Rockland Cafe in Rockland, ME where I had an unbelievably wonderful seafood chowder loaded with haddock, lobster, crab, clams, scallops and shrimp. I realize their recipe is a closely guarded secret, but I was hoping for something along that line--a good traditional mixed seafood chowder--only to be severely disappointed. On the bright side, this book is filled with wonderful recipes, great tips, facts and stories as well as truly gorgeous photos. Honestly, it's a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach, but I did come away with the feeling that it was more a cookbook of what people expect from Maine than a truly "Mainah" cookbook. Don't let that dissuade you from trying these great recipes. The Broiled Herb-Crumbed Sea Scallops are calling my name right along with the Shaker Chicken Stew with Scallion Dumplings, Pan Roast of Fish and Shellfish, Rustic Summer Berry Croustade (You HAVE to see the photo on this one! I wanted to dive right in!!), and Carding Brook Farm Scalloped Tomatoes with Garlic Crumbs. Let's get cooking!! I received a copy of this book from Storey Publishing for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Dishing Up Maine: 165 Recipes That Capture Authentic Down East Flavors by Brooke Dojny (winner of the James Beard Award and author of more than a dozen cookbooks) is an impressively assembled compendium of 165 recipes showcasing the cuisine of America's Eastern coast in general, and the state of Maine in particular. Offering a culinary wealth of easy to make, gourmet quality dishes for everything from snacks and sandwiches, to soups and side dishes, to entrees and deserts, Dishing Up Maine presents readers with recipes ranging from Oven-Roasted Asparagus Shaker Chicken Stew with Scallion Dumplings and Nutmeg-Scented Parsnip and Carrot Puree to 'Nude' Raw Oysters with Sauces Blueberry-Peach Torta and Split Pea Soup with Smoky Ham. A welcome addition to any kitchen cookbook collection, Dishing Up Maine is most especially recommended for anyone wanting to prepare an authentic 'Down East' meal showcasing the regional culinary style of Maine and the Eastern dining.