Friday, December 13, 2013
John Golden has written about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for Downeast magazine, the Boston Globe, Cottages and Gardens magazine, Gourmet magazine, Cuisine magazine, the New York Times and the New York Post.
In his highly opinionated blog, John reports on his experiences dining out all over Maine and his visits with food personalities, farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.
In the realm of comfort food a terrific meatloaf is the star of the show. But there are as many bad versions as there are great ones. What I’ve yet to find is a restaurant that makes a tasty meatloaf. It’s usually served drenched in a dark brown corn-starch based sauce, and the meat is mixed with mystery ingredients that I probably wouldn’t want revealed.
A few Maine diners offer decent meat loaves. Moody’s is not bad; the Maine Diner’s, however, is disappointing. But there are probably good versions worth discovering at various comfort-food haunts like Dysart’s, Deb’s Diner, the A1 Diner and others.
My own meatloaf—modesty aside—is the standard by which I judge other loaves. I came up with the recipe inspired by one that I saw on the back of a Quaker Oats Oatmeal container. I’ve modified it over the years, but the basic ingredient—oatmeal--remains the same and imparts a unique texture and taste.
What goes with meatloaf is just as important as how the meatloaf is prepared. Mashed potatoes are a natural, but I like mashed sweet potatoes, too. The best way to prepare these is to bake the sweet potatoes first. This gives the flesh great caramelized flavor. Then peel and scoop out the potato and put it in a pot to mash. You can use an immersion blender for an extra fine puree. Then add copious amounts of butter and heavy cream, stirring until the butter melts and the cream is incorporated. Season it generously with salt and pepper. I assure you everyone will ask what you’ve done to make these so good. But as you see, the ingredients are
What is it about the bagels at Scratch Baking Company that makes relatively sane people turn into predators who want those bagels no matter what?
A lull in the bagel brigade--early Sunday morning at Scratch Baking on Willard Square
The drill on a Sunday morning is unmistakable. Parking along Willard Square during the bagel hour is difficult. Then once you’re inside and have been lucky enough to get your stash of bagels (they sell out in minutes), your next hurdle is to wait on line, often 20 people deep--to check out. Worse yet is arriving to find empty bagel bins, only to wait for the next batch out of the oven.
It’s getting so that the local boundaries of fine dining are borderless. While we expect striving chefs to populate Portland, one doesn’t necessarily have high expectations—generally speaking--beyond the city limits. That is until Orchid Thai opened in Falmouth last month, housed within an ignominious strip mall along the Route 1 corridor.
The commodious dining room at Orchid Thai is spacious, comfortable and surprisngly not overly noisy because of good accoustics
Orchid Thai is the fourth member of Rattanaphorn Boobphachati’s (Pom to her friends and followers) dining dynasty. Her other three establishments are familiar names: Pom’s Thai Taste on Congress St. in Portland and two Pom’s Thai Taste at opposite ends of South Portland on Cottage Rd. and Western
Some confusion exists amongst home cooks as to the difference between a pot roast and braised meat. There shouldn’t be because both terms refer to the same cooking method. A pot roast is a braised piece of meat that is slowly cooked in a small amount of liquid, with the addition of aromatics like onions, carrots and celery.
For a pot roast of beef, the simplest method is to dredge the meat in flour, brown it in a large ovenproof casserole like a Dutch oven, add a pile of sliced onions on top and moisten with a half cup of stock, water or wine (depending on the size of the beef), cover tightly and cook slowly for several hours.. It can be cooked on top of the stove over very low eat, but it’s preferable to put it in the oven for more even cooking.
There are endless variations on braised beef with the addition of vegetables, spices, the braising liquid and the cut of meat. For beef pot roast either brisket, shoulder or a chuck roast work best. Pork can also be substituted, giving the essentially neutral tasting pork lots of flavor from the braising liquid.
The recipe I’ve included here is for a sweet and sour pot roast that is slowly cooked with raisins, which have been soaked in sherry for several hours. The resulting sauce is fantastic, and the cut of beef I used here is a brisket, which benefits from this slow-cook
Another great festival of Harvest on the Harbor is behind us as the final festivities ended on Saturday. But the highlight for me was the Top of the Crop competition where four finalists vied for best farm-to-table cooking in a restaurant.
Chef extraordinaire and co-owner Sam Hayward of Fore Street emceed the proceedings
The crew was formidable. It included David Levi of the yet to be opened Vinland in Portland; Chad Conley of the highly regarded Gather in Yarmouth; Rich Hanson from long-running Cleonice in Ellsworth; and Kerry Altiero, whose Cafe Miranda is virtually a dining landmark in