Food – Press Herald Thu, 19 Oct 2017 02:12:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ‘Posh Rice’ offers recipes from all over the world Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “Posh Rice: Over 70 Recipes for All Things Rice.” By Emily Kydd. Quadrille. $19.99

In my kitchen, recipes are more like guidelines than rules.

I measure spices in pinches and accidental spills. I cook by taste rather than tablespoons. I pour what kind of looks like a cup of this into a bowl of that.

Rice, as it happens, has never been my specialty.

Cooking rice really requires loyalty to the directions. Too little water, I end up with dry and crunchy bits. Too much water, I might serve sticky and bloated grains. Looking for some guidance, I turned to “Posh Rice: Over 70 Recipes for All Things Rice” by Emily Kydd.

“Although it makes a great accompaniment to any meal, rice doesn’t always have to play a supporting role,” Kydd writes in the introduction. “It’s time to show that bag of rice in your cupboard some love and elevate it to star status.”

Kydd is a food stylist and recipe writer based in London, and her book is part of a series from U.K.-based Quadrille Publishing. (Be prepared for Britishisms in both spelling and ingredient names in the book.) There’s also “Posh Eggs” by Lucy O’Reilly and “Posh Toast” also by Kydd. “Posh Rice” could serve as a textbook for Cooking Rice 101. Kydd starts off with a no-frills guide (with pictures) to different types of rice. Some, like wild rice or basmati rice, are familiar to me. Others, like pudding rice or Camargue red rice, are less common in my pantry. But she spends little time opining and turns her attention quickly to the recipes.

As I flipped through the glossy pages and ogled at the colorful photos, it seemed like this book contained every rice recipe on the planet. There’s stuffed vine leaves from Greece, an Italian rice ball called arancini and a triangle-shaped Japanese snack called onigiri. And that’s just in the chapter on soups and snacks. The main courses ranged from one-pot jambalaya to a Korean dish called bibimbap, a cheesy courgette (Americans call it zucchini) gratin and Moroccan baked chicken. I folded the corner of the recipe for wild rice and bacon stuffing for a Thanksgiving side. The dessert section had me drooling over blueberry rice puddings and risotto fritters.

I couldn’t find a recipe I didn’t want to try. Granted, not all of the recipes “Posh Rice” are within my skill level in the kitchen. I eyed the spanakopita spiral pies, but I decided I needed to just cook rice without burning it to the bottom of the pan before attempting that one. And while many of the side dishes cook in 40 minutes or less, most of the entrees in the book require more than an hour or even two. These dishes are a little more advanced than a box of Minute microwave white rice.

I settled on stuffed peppers – a warm comfort food for one of the first chilly days of fall. Cooking the rice in beef stock, onion and garlic gave it a more savory flavor than if I had used water. I was skeptical of the allspice, but I dutifully poured two heaping teaspoons over the ground lamb and other ingredients. When the peppers came out of the oven 65 minutes later, the allspice sang in my first bite. Drizzling olive oil and beef stock over the pan before baking kept the rice and lamb moist inside the roasted peppers. I had more filling than could fit in the peppers, but adding the leftovers to scrambled eggs gave me a delicious breakfast the next morning.

Maybe following a recipe isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

Twitter: megan_e_doyle


Serves 6; takes about 1 hour, 30 minutes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 onion, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

150 grams or 3/4 cup easy-cook long-grain rice

600 millimeters or 11/4 pints hot lamb or beef stock

6 mixed colour (bell) peppers

2 teaspoons allspice

250 grams or 9 ounces lamb mince

50 grams or 2 ounces pine nuts, toasted

2 tablespoons tomato puree

50 grams or 2 ounces raisins

1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper


250 grams or 9 ounces Greek yoghurt

1 garlic clove, crushed,

Handful dill, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/400 degrees Fahrenheit/gas 6. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion for about eight minutes until softened. Add the garlic and rice and stir. Turn the heat down and pour in 150 millimeters or 5 fluid ounces of the stock. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Tip into a large bowl and leave to cool.

Slice the tops from the peppers, reserving the lids, and scoop out the seeds and core. Place in a casserole dish – trim the bottoms without making any holes to make them stand, if needed.

Add the allspice, lamb mince, pine nuts, tomato puree, raisins and parsley to the cooler rice, along with 150 millimeters or 5 fluid ounces of the stock, the salt and some black pepper. Spoon into the peppers, packing the mixture down. Poor over a little of the stock, then pop the pepper lids back on. Drizzle generously with oil and pour the remaining stock into the bottom of the dish. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together the yoghurt, garlic, dill and some seasoning and serve alongside the peppers.

]]> 0, 17 Oct 2017 17:42:15 +0000
Pumpkin coconut squares are a scrumptious treat for Halloween Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Here’s a scrumptious treat for Halloween. It happens to be too delicate to give away to the trick-or-treaters, but it’s just right for y-o-u and your family and friends at a Halloween party or dinner.

Preparing Pumpkin Coconut Squares takes some time, but it’s mostly waiting time, not hands-on time. This beauty is four layers thick, and two of them require time to set up. There’s a gingersnap crust on the bottom, a layer of pumpkin/coconut milk puree, a layer of tart cream cheese and a topping of toasted coconut flakes.

If you’ve ever dug into a pumpkin pie or dessert and wondered where the flavor went, I can pinpoint the problem: Pumpkin puree is terribly watery whether it’s fresh or canned. It occurred to me that draining it would concentrate the flavor, and here’s how to do it: First, wrap it in a layer of cheesecloth, then tie the cheesecloth like a hobo’s sack to a chopstick, skewer, or dinner knife, and finally hang the sack over a deep bowl. Let it drip, drip, drip for eight hours or overnight. Afterward, there will be a fair amount of water at the bottom of the bowl – and even more in the cheesecloth. Squeeze the cheesecloth gently to remove the additional water. (If you don’t have cheesecloth, a coffee filter will do the trick.) Be sure to use pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling, which is presweetened.

If you’re inclined to lighten up the recipe, swap in light coconut milk, 1/3-less-fat cream cheese and unsweetened coconut flakes for the specified full-fat ingredients. Then again, it is Halloween and these Pumpkin Coconut Squares are an old-fashioned holiday treat. Feel free to enjoy the uncensored version.


Makes 36 squares

One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus extra for buttering the pan

11/2 cups finely ground gingersnap crumbs (about 35 2-inch cookies)

2 large eggs

3/4 cup well-stirred unsweetened coconut milk (stir the coconut cream at the top of the tin down into the rest of the milk to incorporate it before measuring)

2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

13/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided

13/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon table salt

6 ounces cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons toasted sweetened coconut flakes

Cut out a square of cheesecloth large enough to wrap around the puree with about a 4-inch border on all sides. Spoon the puree into the cheesecloth, tie the ends of the cheesecloth together to form a bag (like what we used to call a hobo sack) and thread a chopstick, skewer or dinner knife through the opening at the top. Place the chopstick over the top of a deep bowl and let the bag hang over the bowl. Chill for at least 8 hours or overnight. After the draining period, squeeze the cheesecloth gently to extract even more water, discard all the liquid at the bottom of the bowl and set the puree aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Butter a 9-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan. Melt 1 tablespoons of the butter.

In a medium bowl, stir together the gingersnap crumbs and the melted butter and pat the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven until the crumbs begin to darken, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, in the same bowl you mixed the crumb mixture, whisk the eggs until they are beaten lightly, add the coconut milk, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of the vanilla, ginger and salt, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the drained pumpkin puree and spread evenly over the crumbs.

Bake on the middle shelf of the oven, until the center has set, about 25 minutes. Remove and let cool completely on a rack. In a medium bowl combine the cream cheese, the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, confectioners’ sugar, remaining teaspoon cinnamon and teaspoon vanilla; beat until very smooth. Spread the mixture evenly over the top of the cooled pumpkin filling and sprinkle the coconut on top of the cream cheese frosting, pressing it down lightly. Chill until firm, about 2 hours. Cut into 36 squares and serve.

]]> 0, 17 Oct 2017 17:50:12 +0000
Next football game, score one for slow-cooker soup Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 I am a Football Mom. A New York City Football Mom, so Football Moms from, say, Texas or California might smirk at me a little. That’s OK. I recognize the difference.

But no matter how competitive the league, there is always food involved – for the kids before and after games, and at the game itself for parents and friends who show up no matter the weather.

And what could be more welcome in any of these situations than a robust, hot, rib-sticking soup?

This soup has tailgating or sidelines or post-game meal written all over it. It’s thick from the lentils, and fragrant with cumin and coriander. If you are familiar with Indian food, it might remind you of a soupy version of dal, with satisfying small cubes of chicken nestled throughout. And it’s made in a slow cooker, which means that if you are serving it after you come home, it’s right there waiting for you, like a warm hug.

Last year was the first time I made this soup, lugging it in the slow cooker to the game. My family thought I had gone one step too far – that setting up a vat of soup on the sidelines was going to seem pretty weird. They were pretty wrong. The ladle was passed from person to person, heavy-duty paper cups were filled, and not a drop was left.

The soup thickens upon sitting, and if you refrigerate it and heat it up the next day, you may want to add more broth or water.

And I would definitely add the fresh parsley at the end.

The football game is purely optional.


Serves 12

2 onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large fennel bulb, cored and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)

1/2 pound dried red lentils

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced small

5 cups less-sodium chicken broth, plus more if needed

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley, plus more to serve if desired

In a large (5-quart or more) slow cooker, combine the onion, garlic, fennel, carrots, lentils, cumin, coriander, chicken, broth and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook on high for 4 hours. Stir in another cup or two of broth toward the end if it’s thicker than you want it to be. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Stir in the parsley and serve. Sprinkle servings with additional parsley if desired.

]]> 0, 17 Oct 2017 17:59:03 +0000
Mongolian beef boasts depth of flavor, delectably clingy sauce Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 My family cannot get enough of Asian food, and any time I crank out a dish that announces itself with aromas of garlic, ginger and soy sauce, I pretty much know dinner will be a success.

That’s why I’m earmarking this dish for Halloween, since getting something hearty in my boys’ stomachs before the sugar-palooza is pretty much the extent of what I can control with teenagers.

This dish allows a wonderful glaze to coat the ultra-thin slices of steak. It reminds me of something you might get at an old-school Chinese restaurant.

Mongolian beef can be made with different types of thinly sliced or small-cut meat, and if shaved beef isn’t an option, place a piece of flank steak in the freezer until it’s quite firm but not totally frozen and then thinly slice it across the grain. It will essentially defrost as you cut it.

Dusting the slices of beef in cornstarch before sauteing them allows them to brown nicely. Then, when the beef meets with sauce, the cornstarch not only helps thicken the sauce, but it also helps the sauce coat the beef deliciously.


Serves 6

1/2 cup (approximately) plus 2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil, divided

2 teaspoons finely minced garlic

1 tablespoon freshly minced ginger

cup less sodium soy sauce

cup packed brown sugar

11/2 pounds beef shaved steak

3 tablespoons cornstarch

6 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (white and green parts)

Hot cooked brown or white rice to serve

In a small saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil. Add the garlic and ginger, and saute for 30 seconds. Then add the soy sauce and brown sugar and bring to a simmer, whisking frequently over medium heat. Allow it to simmer and reduce a bit, until it gets a glazy consistency, about 4 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, toss the shaved steak in a mixing bowl with the cornstarch until evenly distributed.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet (the bigger the better) over medium high heat. Line a counter or a large plate with paper towels. Sauté the beef in batches, taking care not to crowd the pan, and flipping it as it browns, about 1 minute on each side. Use a fork or tongs to remove the beef when it is browned, transferring it to the paper towels. Repeat until all of the beef is browned, adding more oil as needed (make sure the oil has a chance to get hot before you add the next batch of beef so it browns up nicely).

Pour off any additional oil and return the large skillet to medium high heat. Add all of the beef back to the pan, along with the sauce and scallions. Stir for about 3 minutes, until the sauce is thickened and glazes all of the meat evenly. Serve over the rice.

]]> 0, 17 Oct 2017 18:48:28 +0000
Grandmother’s lemon sponge pudding stands up to time – and children Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 As I helped my 94-year-old grandmother clean out her kitchen before a move a few years back, she looked at a cupboard stuffed with cookbooks and suggested I take whichever I liked. My eyes flitted to her worn copy of Fannie Farmer’s “Boston Cooking School Cook Book” and a 1946 copy of the Lily Wallace “New American Cook Book,” its spine barely held together by packing tape.

But not these, Nana said, pulling those same volumes aside. “These are some of the oldest things I have.”

A few months later, my sister sheepishly told me that Nana had given the cookbooks to her, first thumbing through Wallace’s tome of numbered recipes to find one for Lemon Sponge Pudding (No. 2514) – a favorite, she had said. The page was dotted with stains and torn in places where drips of sugar had fused one sheet to the next. In the margin next to the pudding recipe was one tiny check mark: Make this one again.

My envy subsided when, a few months later, a package arrived from my sister with a beautifully framed, high-quality copy of the cookbook’s cover and the splattered page. The pudding wasn’t a dish made for special occasions, Nana told me later, and not necessarily one for company. She made it “now and then,” in rotation with Farmer’s baked custard, because she favored lemon.

Plus, she said, “the children liked it.”

Chelsea Conaboy squeezes a lemon with the help of her son, Hartley Byun. Photo by Yoon S. Byun


The children. Five in all, four of them boys, and a husband with a career at the telephone company.

In the two years or so since Nana’s recipe went up on the wall of our kitchen in South Portland, I’ve begun raising my own two boys. I’ve thought so often about my grandmother, Margaret Conaboy, and other women of her generation, and of what childrearing was like in their households, often with bigger broods, less helpful partners, no daycare and more made from scratch – though less often done while balancing a full-time job as well.

Like other cookbook authors of the mid-20th century, Wallace argues for the importance of women’s work. As World War II was ending, women in many families returned from factories to domestic life, and they looked for ways to assert themselves in whatever venue they were allowed – a trend that had been building for decades – said Don Lindgren, an antiquarian cookbook expert and dealer at Rabelais in Biddeford.

Food is diplomacy, Wallace writes. It fuels family life and keeps people from “straying.” It has influenced all of recorded history, and it can dictate the future.

“[I]t is highly probable that the lives of children, whose grandparents may yet be unborn, will be influenced by the meals being served in many homes today,” writes Wallace in the introduction. (There is so little historical record of Wallace, beyond what she writes about her own life, that Lindgren wonders whether Lily Wallace may in fact have been a pseudonym.)

Encyclopedic cookbooks like hers – she claimed that 54 “leading authorities on domestic science and the art of modern cooking” assisted in writing it – were born from the home economics movement of the early 20th century and the practicality and accuracy that was important through the Great Depression and wartime. But they would soon fall out of favor in publishing, replaced by books filled with pictures or defined by big personalities, Lindgren said. Julia Child would change the nature of cookbook publishing 15 years later, with “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”

Still, books like Wallace’s, tested and dependable, stayed on families’ shelves for years to come, sometimes standing in for distant family members, said Helen Zoe Veit, associate professor of history at Michigan State University, where she specializes in the history of food.

“You might turn to the cookbook as you might have turned to a mother or a grandmother living nearby and say, how do you do this? And you could turn to the cookbook, because the cookbook knew so much,” Veit said.

Chelsea Conaboy pours boiling water into a tray holding ramekins for Lemon Sponge Pudding. Her son, Hartley Byun, waits to taste-test. Photo by Yoon S. Byun


Certainly, Wallace’s cookbook knew more than I did. For starters, I had no idea what a “pudding dish” was or even approximately what a sponge pudding should look like when finished. Short on time – see above, two young boys – and with my grandmother, now 97, living two time zones away, I consulted the modern-day cooking encyclopedia: the internet.

It led me astray.

Some sponge puddings apparently are meant to be flipped, being composed more of sponge than of pudding. Wallace didn’t call for flipping her pudding, but I thought perhaps that was one more thing she had assumed I would know.

When I flipped the mixing bowl I’d used as a stand-in for a pudding dish, a puddle of hot lemon goo oozed out onto my hand and the countertop. My 21/2-year-old son, Hartley, looked up at me with concern as I yelped in pain and then in frustration.

Two weeks later, we tried again, this time with ramekins. No flipping. Hartley helped juice the lemon and fold in stiff egg whites. Then we waited together for the pudding to bake.

Before my husband and I had children, life was marked by major milestones: a first job, then a new city and another, as I moved with my career. Next came a proposal, marriage, our first home. The markers that lie ahead seem different. They track the unfolding of a young life – two lives – and all of the daily tasks and rituals that, my grandmother knows well, make that unfolding possible, all of the things that create the splattered page of a family’s history.

Hartley and I ate the pudding together, sharing one dish and two spoons. We broke through the sponge top to a glossy yellow beneath and scraped at the bottom of the ramekin for every last bit.

Put a check mark next to this one, I thought. The children like it.

Chelsea Conaboy is a freelance writer and editor. She is the former features editor at the Press Herald. She can be contacted at:; Twitter: @cconaboy


The “New American Cook Book” called for using a pudding dish and cooking this recipe for 45 minutes. I don’t own a pudding dish and decided, as my grandmother often does<present tense<, to use 4-inch ramekins and to reduce the cooking time slightly. I filled five ramekins for larger portions, though this recipe could be stretched to six dishes. I used the full amount of recommended sugar. Nana cuts it by a quarter cup.

Lemon sponge pudding made by Chelsea Conaboy. Photo by Yoon S. Byun

Serves 5 to 6

2 eggs, yolks and whites separated

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

Pinch of salt

1 cup milk

Rind and juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Put a kettle of water on to boil to make a water bath.

Beat egg yolks. In a large mixing bowl, sift the sugar, flour and salt, and add to the egg yolks. Add the milk, lemon juice and rind, and beat thoroughly. Melt butter and add. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold the whites into the yolk and lemon mixture. Divide evenly into ramekins.

Pour boiling water in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place ramekins, evenly spaced, in the pan. Top off the water, if necessary (taking care not to get any in the pudding) so that the water reaches about halfway up the ramekins. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the tops of the puddings are very lightly browned. Chill and serve cold.

]]> 0 attempts to squeeze more juice out of a lemon and add it to the batter. A copy of the recipe and the cover of the book from which it came, the "New American Cook Book" by Lily Wallace, hangs on the wall above the mixer.Wed, 18 Oct 2017 10:09:00 +0000
Bite: Tipo’s Margherita pizza reminds us of the power of simplicity Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 In my experience, pizza has always been a great equalizer. It’s a food people can gather around, eat with their hands, share with everyone. It’s easy and comforting and intimate. “Let’s just order a pizza” implies a casual ease, a laid-back dinner followed by a true heart-to-heart. There is decadence and joy in cold pizza for breakfast. There is care and love in making pizza dough at home. Even the pizza stone itself is a touching artifact – sturdy and imperfect, marked by charred crusts and marbled colors faded from repeated exposure to hot ovens.

Pizza has always been a big part of my life with my husband. We are forever tasting new slices, and returning to our old favorites in Westchester, New York, and New York City itself. We’ve tried close to every pizza shop in Portland, and have driven to Boston more than once just to eat at the classic, storied Santarpio’s. When I was pregnant with my son, and we were making frequent trips to see my doctor at Mass General Hospital, Santarpio’s pizza was all I ate. For us, pizza is not just pizza. It’s joy and birth and family and comfort and a symbolic coming in from the cold.


For these details alone, it could be said that all pizza is good pizza. But alas, it is not only emotion that goes into the making of an excellent pie. That’s why my husband and I were overjoyed when Tipo Restaurant opened in the Back Cove, and we tasted their Le Panyol wood oven-fired pizza.

One rule my husband lives by is that a good slice of pizza requires no additional toppings, the usual suspects like pepperoni, mushrooms or onions. Tipo’s Margherita ($10) is no exception. It is fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, basil, olive oil and a thin, perfectly textured crust – a touch crisp, a touch chewy. The sauce is airy and delicate and not at all sweet, the cheese light and expertly melted. The pizza arrives on a muted silvery tray, a masterpiece of a pie you might even find in Tuscany, with uneven edges and the scattered scent of fresh vegetables. It’s the kind of pizza that has you reaching for a second slice before you’ve finished the first, the kind that, once you’ve tried it, inspires the decision, “Let’s just get two whole ones,” whenever we order. “We can always eat it for breakfast.”

Anna Stoessinger lives in Maine with her husband, Keith, her son, Henry, and their dog, Bess. She is a writer who works in advertising. She can be reached at or on Instagram @astoessinger.

]]> 0, 17 Oct 2017 17:15:32 +0000
Fresh ginger tea good for what ails you Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 With the arrival of the cold-and-cough season, you may be thinking about cooking up a big batch of chicken soup as a cure for what ails us. I love the stuff, too, but I suggest you stock up on some fresh gingerroot instead. Ginger, of course, is one of the many flavors to be found in a stir-fry Asian dish or Indian curry. But used in larger quantities than specified for those recipes, it can become quite spicy. Of all the home remedies out there, I have found tea, prepared with fresh ginger, to be the most effective.

Ginger Tea is easy to make (and is much cheaper than chicken soup). Essentially, there’s nothing to do but chop up some fresh gingerroot, combine it with water and let it simmer. When you’re done, you’re looking at a potent, clean-out-your-sinuses beverage that’s ready to sip. I’ve provided a recipe below, but there’s no need to be so formal. You can wing it and you’ll be fine.

When making the tea, you might imagine that the first task would be to peel that gnarly gingerroot. In fact, it’s not necessary. Just rinse it well and slice off any bruised spots, then chop it and pile all the chunks into a small saucepan. The more finely it’s chopped, the better – but half-inch chunks are good enough. Cover the gingerroot with 1 inch of cold water, then bring the tea to a boil. (Starting with cold water pulls out more of the ginger flavor than starting with hot water.) The longer you simmer it, the stronger it becomes. So take a sip after 15 minutes or so and, if you approve, strain out the liquid. You can drink it straight up or embellished with honey and lemon – or even a pinch of cayenne.

If one potful of the tea doesn’t entirely vanquish your cold, you can return the chunks to the saucepan, add fresh water and repeat the process. A single crop of chopped ginger can keep a pot going all day.


Serves 4

4 ounces fresh gingerroot

11/2 tablespoons honey, divided, or to taste

4 lemon wedges

Rinse the ginger, cut off any bruised spots and cut it into (roughly) 1/2-inch pieces. In a medium saucepan, combine the ginger with 4 cups cold water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover partially and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste, and if strong enough, strain and pour into mugs. Add 1 teaspoon honey or more if desired to each portion and serve with a wedge of lemon.

]]> 0, 17 Oct 2017 17:18:52 +0000
The Maine Ingredient: Peasant soups from Portugal and Greece are easy to make Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Both of these simple soups, which can be on the table in less than half an hour, are a reminder of just how delicious peasant cooking can be. I’ve had both in Maine diners, but I really think the homemade versions are best. Add some chewy artisan bread and a tomato or mixed lettuce salad, and you’ve a scrumptious supper.


This soup is hearty, filling, inexpensive and utterly delicious. Sometimes kidney beans are included, but I love the simpler combination of starchy potatoes, pleasantly bitter kale, and the punch of garlicky sausage. You can peel the potatoes or leave the skins on.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ pound garlicky pork sausage, such as chourico, linguica or kielbasa, thinly sliced

1 large onion, chopped

4 cups chicken broth

1½ pounds all-purpose or Yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced

1 small bunch (about 1 pound) kale, thickest stems removed and discarded, leaves thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large saucepan or soup pot, heat the oil. Add sausage and onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sausage browns lightly and onion softens, about 5 minutes.

Add broth, potatoes, kale, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for about 25 minutes until the potatoes are very soft and the kale is tender. Use a large fork or whisk to break up some of the potatoes against the side of the pot to thicken the soup. Adjust liquid, adding more broth or water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Avgolemono means “egg and lemon” in Greek, and this soup, thickened with egg and seasoned with lemon, is tasty nourishment in a bowl. It’s often what I cook for any family member who is feeling peaked or in need of a quick, easy fix of comforting food. You can make it more substantial with shredded chicken.

Serves 8 as a first course, 4 as a main course

8 cups chicken broth

1 cup dried orzo or ½ cup raw long-grain rice

3 eggs

6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

In a large soup pot, combine broth and orzo or rice, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the starch is tender, about 10 minutes for orzo, 20 minutes for rice.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with the lemon juice until smooth. Whisk about a cup of hot liquid into the egg mixture, then slowly and gradually whisk the egg mixture into the gently simmering soup, stirring until the soup achieves a smooth, velvety, lightly thickened consistency, 2 to 3 minutes.

Season the soup with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

]]> 0 verde makes a hearty, filling and inexpensive meal.Tue, 17 Oct 2017 17:24:11 +0000
Skillet apple cranberry pie is delicious and comforting Wed, 18 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Just because nothing’s more American than apple pie – and few desserts more delicious – doesn’t mean that making one is easy. On the contrary, the standard recipes can be pretty involved. But this recipe is for a pie with only one crust, not two, and with everything cooked in the same skillet. There’s just one sheet of dough to roll out, and because there’s no crust on the bottom, you spend no time crimping it together with the crust on top. In short, Skillet Apple Cranberry Pie is the ideal recipe for someone unsure of his or her baking skills.

To start, you’re going to precook the apples. Apples tend to shrink as they bake, opening up a large gap between the apple filling and the upper crust. I’ve read recipes that suggest precooking the apples, then dumping off the liquid that’s generated while they cook. That makes no sense. The liquid is rich in apple flavor. You just need to remove the precooked apples from the pan, then simmer the liquid to cook off the excess water. What’s left is apple syrup. Add a little fresh cider to it and you’ve really intensified the apple-ness.

All the apples are piled into a 10-inch skillet. You may wonder if they’ll cook evenly, given how crowded together they are. The answer is yes. Just be sure to stir them frequently as they cook.

Once the filling is prepared and has cooled off, take the pre-rolled dough, place it over the apples, tuck in the edges and bake the pie. Because the apples have been precooked and the pie has a single crust, it bakes much more quickly than a more conventional apple pie. The cream and granulated sugar brushed on top make the crust sweet and crunchy.


Servings: 6

Pie dough (recipe follows) or 121/2 ounces store-bought pie dough

21/2 pounds mixed apples (your choice, but avoid apples that fall apart like McIntosh), peeled, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon table salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup fresh apple cider

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 heaping tablespoon granulated sugar

Vanilla ice cream for garnish

Roll out the crust on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch round, transfer to a round platter and chill, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator and let soften slightly at room temperature for 15 minutes.

While the dough is chilling, in a medium bowl toss together the apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, salt and cinnamon. In a 10-inch skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium and add the apple mixture and the cider. Cook, tightly covered, stirring frequently, until most of the apples are tender but still hold their shape, 12 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the apples with a slotted spoon to a rimmed sheet pan, leaving all the liquid in the skillet, and spread the apples out in one layer. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until it is reduced to a few tablespoons and is quite syrupy. Add the reduced syrup and the cranberries to the apples and stir well. Let the apples and the skillet cool.

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Put the bottom rack in the lower third of the oven.

When the apples have cooled, transfer them back to the skillet, smoothing the top. Carefully lift up the dough round that has softened on the counter and place it over the apples, letting the edges hang out over the rim of the skillet. Ease the dough down, pressing it in gently where the apples meet the skillet. Trim the crust with a pair of clean scissors so that it is flush with the top rim of the skillet and fold the edges of the dough back in on top of the remaining dough to form a rim. Re-roll the dough scraps, cut out several leaf shapes and place them in the center of the dough. Brush the crust evenly all over with the cream and sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake the pie on the lower rack of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving, garnish with the ice cream.


11/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (180 grams)

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon table salt

10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and the salt, add the butter and, working quickly with your fingertips or a pastry blender, mix the dough until most of mixture resembles coarse meal, with the rest in small (roughly pea-sized) lumps. Drizzle 2 tablespoons ice water evenly over the mixture and gently stir with a fork until incorporated. Gently squeeze a small handful, which should hold together without crumbling apart. If it doesn’t, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring two or three times after each addition until it comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. With the heel of your hand, smear the dough in a forward motion on the work surface to help distribute fat. Gather the smeared dough together and repeat the process. Form the dough into a disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour. Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before rolling it out.

]]> 0, 17 Oct 2017 17:31:18 +0000
No lines, no waiting at self-serve Portland food cart Tue, 17 Oct 2017 16:17:11 +0000 Lunch in Portland’s Old Port usually means waiting in lines to get food. A startup food offering aims to change that.

Veebie rolled out a new refrigerated food trailer last week, and it’s hard to miss. The bright orange cart sits at the corner of Middle and Temple streets around lunchtime.

Tuesday was the cart’s fifth of 10 planned testing days.

“The initial target market is urban professionals,” CEO Steven Sperry said. “Our market research finds that lunchtimes are shrinking, and office workers don’t want to spend their breaks waiting in line.”

The company stocks up on local offerings from restaurants such as Sisters Gourmet Deli, Union Kitchen and b.Good. Customers log in to the Veebie app (at, place their order from the options on the menu, then pick up the food. The offerings generally cost around $10.

The prototype doesn’t have locks, Sperry said, but eventually customers will unlock the locker containing their food by using the app.

Eventually, Sperry envisions that the carts could become self-driving, delivering food from commercial kitchens to customers at office parks, festivals or schools. “We’re starting here, but the goal is for this to scale up beyond Maine,” says Sperry.

Sperry was born in Caribou but has spent most of his life in Seattle, where he founded three venture capital-backed software companies. He returned to Maine a year and a half ago to seek a better quality of life and is the current “entrepreneur in residence” at Venture Hall, a nonprofit organization devoted to cultivating tech startups in Portland.


]]> 0, 17 Oct 2017 12:37:29 +0000
Dine Out Maine: It’s a bar, sure, but Liquid Riot serves really good food, too Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 For some chefs, maybe even most chefs, a call from Cooking Channel announcing an upcoming visit would be the sort of good news that would send them cartwheeling into whooping, fist-pumping celebrations.

Just picture it: a single half-hour of television that has the power to introduce hundreds of thousands of viewers to your restaurant, your food and, perhaps most importantly, to you.

Joshua Doria, formerly of Central Provisions and now executive chef at Portland’s Liquid Riot Bottling Company, had a different response to the network sending a team to showcase two of his dishes on “Late Night Eats.”

“Eh,” he said.

“It was a little stressful. Basically 12 hours of them filming, and honestly, I’m not that kind of chef. I’m in the kitchen for a reason: I like to hide out.”

Liquid Riot, which bills itself as a brewery/distillery/resto-bar offers him plenty of opportunities to do just that, starting early in the morning, when prep begins for a marathon of continuous service that runs from noon until as late as 1 a.m. No matter what time of day or night you visit, the menu is the same.

That approach fits well with Doria’s understated attitude. “We don’t do a traditional lunch or dinner seating. I wouldn’t want to,” he explained. “It’s a bar, and the bar comes first.”

In truth, Liquid Riot is much more than a bar. Its in-house distillery bottles a minty, 41-percent ABV Italian-style amaro called Fernet Michaud that is the star ingredient in the subtly sweet, wonderfully puckery Endless Summer cocktail ($10). And don’t forget the on-site brewery that produces upwards of a dozen beers, all available on tap – from an almost delicately effervescent lime-peel flavored session IPA called Herbie ($7 for 16 oz.), to a rough and ready dry lambic-style Raspy Trouble ($7.50 for 16 oz.) that tastes like sipping dark ale from a cold raspberry jam jar.

Doria’s roasted mushroom toast features North Spore mushrooms drizzled with a sauce flavored with Liquid Riot’s Beer Schnapps, topped with arugula and pickled onions and layered on a slab of Standard Baking sourdough.

Doria also doesn’t miss his chance to echo Liquid Riot’s primary identity in his cooking. His roasted mushroom toast ($12) features North Spore Mushroom’s “kitchen grade assortment,” a blend of oyster, shiitake and sometimes hen of the woods mushrooms, seared to order, then drizzled with a pan sauce made by deglazing with Liquid Riot’s Beer Schnapps. “Whatever is left at the bottom of the tanks and going to waste, we distill it into schnapps, and it tastes almost like a light whiskey,” Doria said. Served on a thick plank of Standard Baking sourdough and garnished with a few tiny, crisp-fried mushrooms, it’s an umami supernova that would be improved only by a few more pickled onions.

In his rum cake ($7), he goes to even greater lengths to link dining to the surroundings. “I take the spent grains from brewing (malt, barley and oats) and dehydrate them for two days. It’s a long process,” he explained. “Once they’re dried, I can blast them in the Vitamix to turn them into sort of a flour. They usually go to pigs at a local farm, but before we give them to the farmer, I take some. A lot of places just throw it away.” His unorthodox flour gives the dense, perhaps sludgy cake a heady, bready flavor that marries well with the crunchy, sugary topping of housemade Dow’s Demise dark rum and coconut. One slice is enough to share.

Creative dishes like these make it hard not to notice Doria’s positive influence on Liquid Riot. Stop for a second and look at the menu he redesigned when he took over the kitchen in July. What you see there isn’t just typical bar food.

Sure, there’s a phenomenally good housemade pretzel ($6), looped into the shape of a napping figure eight as an homage to Liquid Riot’s former name: Infinity. And yes, you’ll also find a 6-ounce beef burger ($15) served with sweet pickles and peppery arugula, pickled onions and Cabot cheddar cheese, all layered in a precise order that somehow keeps the brioche bun from ever getting soggy. Hamburger witchcraft, really.

But further in, something unusual: an excellent salad of local goat cheese, kale and heirloom cherry tomatoes ($9), exuberantly seasoned with tarragon and mint and fortified with soft, barely chewy farro. “I wanted something a vegetarian could come in and have and feel satisfied. Farro is good for you and it’s filling,” Doria said. It’s not just for herbivores, either. I spotted a party of 12 college students seated on comfy, black leather sofas, sharing three servings of the farro salad with their burgers. Then, underneath sparkly sail tarps on the back patio, a couple cuddled up on adjacent aluminum-and-plywood barstools and split both the salad and the Chinese Takeout chicken wings ($12) as they watched the moonlight over Union Wharf.

I followed their lead and ordered the wings myself, which is how I discovered that Doria is kind of a fryer genius.

He starts with double-fried wings that require no breading, coating or dredge, yet still develop a brittle, shatteringly crisp exterior. These are tossed in Doria’s special red sauce, a trans-national blend of Korean gochujang chili paste, Japanese mirin, soy sauce and chili oil before receiving a finishing sprinkle of black and white sesame seeds. In the end, I’m not sure how Chinese the dish is, but it’s undeniably good – sweet and sticky, with a 9-volt current of spicy heat sparking through every bite.

There’s gochujang in the aioli-based dipping sauce for Liquid Riot’s French fries ($6), as well, but that’s not the best thing about the dish. Cut from skin-on potatoes from Green Thumb Farms in Fryeburg, Doria’s fries are blanched in oil, frozen and then fried again to order and dusted with salt. Two ingredients. No margin for error. But Doria doesn’t need it. His fries are crisp, with buff-toned blisters and a steamy, tender interior. They are probably the best fries I have eaten in Maine.

A little more fryer magic makes its way into the kimchi-flavored Korean bowl ($17) entrée, here in the form of two thumb-sized portions of juicy, barely fried local hake that sit atop a pyramid of cockles, seared pork belly and mussels. Underneath, a kaleidoscopically herbal broth made from lemongrass, cilantro, star anise, citrus and green onion sends puffs of brightness up like smoke signals.

And apart from a few pieces of cabbage in the kimchi, there are pretty much no carbs in the bowl. “I know it’s weird. People always ask why I don’t add starch, but I don’t think every dish needs starch. That one is all protein, and it’s super clean,” Doria told me over the phone. I laughed and told him I agreed with his decision. What I didn’t have the heart to tell him is that the episode of “Late Night Eats” that aired this Thursday might be the least of his concerns. If he persists with such a wide-ranging, strongly conceived and executed menu, he won’t be able to stay incognito much longer, no matter how hard he tries.

Andrew Ross has written about food in the United Kingdom and in New York, where he co-founded NYCnosh, a food website. He and his work have been featured on Martha Stewart Living Radio and in The New York Times. He is an Internet researcher and higher education consultant. Contact him at:

Twitter: @AndrewRossME

]]> 0, ME - OCTOBER 9: Chinese Takeout Wings with red dragon sauce, lime and sesame seeds, photographed at Liquid Riot in Portland on Monday, October 9, 2017. (Staff Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer)Sat, 14 Oct 2017 18:08:28 +0000
Rice that multiplies in Maine soil is a big plus Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 There is a children’s book written in the 1970s titled “One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale.” The story is set in India, where a greedy raja takes nearly all of the subsistence growers’ rice for safekeeping should famine come. When it does, he hoards the rice for himself.

A wise village girl named Rani convinces him to give her just a single grain of rice on the first day of the new moon, doubling the amount daily until a full moon appears in the sky. After thinking out loud on the page that one grain of rice could hardly amount to much, the raja grants Rani’s request.

One grain becomes 2 then 4 then 8 then 16, and so on until it tops out at 536,870,912 on the 30th day. The math lesson in play means that Rani gets a billion grains of rice in the end. A little long division translates that number to 29,000 pounds of rice. The average Asian eats about 300 pounds of rice annually (in the United States we’re closer to 26 pounds a year), so Rani’s supplication saves her village from starvation. The life lesson in play is that a single grain of rice can indeed multiply to feed the collective even in harsh conditions.

That’s the mindset farmers Ben Rooney and David Gulak of Wild Folk Farm had when they planted a single experimental paddy of cold weather rice in traditionally agriculturally inhospitable clay soil in Benton back in 2013. The enterprise has since grown at a pretty good clip.

I was part of the work party last May that transplanted seedlings into eight paddies, each named after a planet. It’s back-breaking work. You fasten a flat of 3-inch-high juvenile plants that germinated in the farm’s rudimentary aquaponic greenhouse around your waist with a bungee cord. Then you wade barefoot (if you’re brave; I wore boots) through ankle-deep, oozing muck; bend over the flat as it digs into your hip; gently coax a seedling from its cozy crib; and nestle its spindling roots into its watery big-boy bed in a neat row. Each plant sits about 6 inches from its nearest sibling. You take a giant step backwards and do it over again, and again, and again. Optimally, it takes four people working two hours to transplant seedlings into a single 5,000-square-foot paddy.

Rooney takes it from there. Because rice is a water-intensive crop, the paddies are flooded and drained using a closed irrigation system fed by a pond. The paddies are also planted with azolla, a companion plant for rice that both prevents weeds and helps fix the nitrogen into the clay soil. Khaki Campbell ducks waddle and swim, eating the azolla and fertilizing the clay soil. The ducks are harvested for their meat before they can eat the growing grains of rice. Nets draped over the paddies when the plants are heavy with rice prevents a premature harvest by bobolinks, black birds native to Maine whose Latin name loosely translates into “rice devourer.”

I returned to Wild Folk Farm last weekend to help harvest what Rooney says will amount to 3,500 pounds of cold-climate heirloom rices with names like Akamuro, Arpa Shal, Cse He Jao, Duborskian and Hayayuki.

I worked the paddy where the Akamura rice grew. Akamura is an open-pollinated, short-grained variety that Rooney knows grows well here so he saves 10 percent of it for seed, a portion of which he’ll germinate to plant next year’s crop and a portion of which he’ll sell to Fedco Seeds so other farmers in Maine or similar cold climates can give rice a go.

I used a curved sickle to cut off bunches of tillers, laying these 3-foot-tall stalks laden with rice to cure slightly in the now dried paddy. In a call-and-response cycle, the six of us working to clear the paddy sang a song that Rooney composed. “Cut ’em down. Among autumn leaves. Where the ducks swam. These are rice paddies. On cool clay earth. Tread lightly. We sing together. Soon we’ll feast.”

The cured rice then gets sorted into fist-sized bundles and is gently slapped into a foot-powered thresher to remove the rice from the stalks. The rice, still in its husks, falls into a bucket below the thresher, and the stalks get repurposed, perhaps as crop cover material or a medium for a local potter to decorate his clay wares. (Rooney said they tried out a borrowed mechanical harvester last year, but they like the low-tech approach in part so they can show schoolchildren how rice is processed.)

The rice sits in a high tunnel on tarps to dry for a few days. We took bucketsful of the dried stuff and ran it in a 19th-century hand-cranked wooden winnower Rooney found in an antique shop in western Massachusetts to separate the rice from the chaff. The rice moves down the work row set up on the bank between the paddies to the bicycle-powered husker, where workers pedal their way to edible rice that the farm will begin selling on its website for about $7 per pound in five-pound bags in late November. And so goes the math of rice production.

Served atop roasted squash, the rice salad is sprinkled with sesame seeds. Staff photos by Derek Davis

Roasted Winter Squash with Cold Climate Rice Salad

Kabocha squash is a dark green, stocky cousin of the pumpkin with a flavor and texture that evokes a sweet potato. You may have enjoyed it in Japanese restaurants as tempura, or as an addition to Asian hot pots and soups. Go with locally grown rice like Akamuro from Wild Folk Farm in Benton, if you can, but any short-grained golden rice will work.

Serves 4 as a main dish

1 small kabocha or butternut squash

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

Black pepper to taste

1/2 cup warm water or sake

6 tablespoons white miso paste

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon mirin

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 cups cooked short grain rice, cooled

½ cup chopped scallion

1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons black or white sesame seeds, toasted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the unpeeled squash into 1-inch wedges. Toss the wedges with the oil, salt and pepper and lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast until soft, about 20 minutes.

While the squash cooks, combine the water or sake, miso, sugar, mirin and rice vinegar in a medium-sized bowl. Add the cooked rice, scallion and bell pepper. Stir to combine.

Arrange the roasted squash around the edges of a large platter. Fill the middle of the platter with the rice salad. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve.

Christine Burns Rudalevige is a food writer, a recipe developer and tester and a cooking teacher in Brunswick, and the author of “Green Plate Special,” a new cookbook from Islandport based on these columns. She can be contacted at

]]> 0 Rice Salad is served on a bed of roasted squash.Wed, 18 Oct 2017 13:17:21 +0000
Bath’s 1st brewpub set to open in November Thu, 12 Oct 2017 03:59:19 +0000 BATH — You’ve probably noticed the beer industry in Maine is a big deal.

But despite the explosion in brewing around the state, Sagadahoc County has remained underrepresented when it comes to local brewers. Sure, Sea Dog Brewing has been serving great beer for a while, but that was founded in Camden, not Topsham.

Nearby Brunswick has some new breweries. Freeport has Maine Beer Company. Lincoln County has multiple breweries.

Sagadahoc has no brewery to truly call its own.


Mike Therriault, Terry Geaghan and developer Sean Ireland hope to fill the void by opening Bath Brewing Company in November.

“We perceived a niche, and we thought it would be good for the community to have,” said Geaghan. “There seemed to be a void in a state-wide movement.”

This logo, posted on the front of Bath Brewing Company’s future location, has been tantalizing passersby for weeks. Staff photo by Chris Chase

Before any confusion arises, yes, Geaghan is related to Geaghan Brothers, they of the successful breweries in Bangor.

But Bath Brewing Company is an entirely local venture and will not be affiliated with its northern cousin.

The three men met at the Bath YMCA where they played basketball together.

While talking in between games, they lamented the fact that Bath had no real brewery. Naturally, that led to starting one.

Geaghan has experience in the industry, as does Therriault, and Ireland has developed projects similar to brew pubs in the past.

They’ve talked about the idea for years, but were waiting for the right spot. The building couldn’t be too large, too small or in a bad location.

“Let’s just say we’ve learned a lot along the way,” said Geaghan.

“Mike and I always had a vision, but bringing it to concept and reality took us down several different roads.”

Eventually, the space at 141 Front St. opened up. The building’s size is perfect for the scale of the brewpub the three hope to create, and its location in downtown is perfect.

Plus, its historic nature lends plenty of interesting architectural elements to the design.

“We knew when we saw it that this was the building,” said Geaghan.

The history of the building is evident inside. After removing offices on the second floor, the original brick wall was revealed. Scorch marks from a fire in the building’s past are visible. Old flooring and ceilings came to light.

The trio hopes to preserve elements of that history in their work, which has been substantial so far.

The plan is to turn the first floor into the brewing and pub-style area, with the top floor reserved for formal dining, with some casual seating, as well.

The rear of the building will house brewing equipment and cold storage, while the “brite” tanks will be set out front near the large windows to draw people in.

The current entrance to the building will be shifted south, with a large floating staircase leading to the second floor just inside. The goal is to have separate spaces that still feel connected.

The hope, said Therriault, is that the brewpub will become a gathering place that’s family friendly, approachable and easygoing.

“The brewpub is a place for all; to share a family meal, catch up with an old friend, meet new friends, enjoy a game, listen to music, grab a drink or just stop in and say hello,” he said.
“Our goal is to provide a space that is comfortable and familiar, a place you can call your own.”

Bath Brewing Company is on track for a potential November opening, barring any unforeseen complications – which is always a possibility with an old building.

Nancy Carleton, who owns a neighboring real estate business, has observed first-hand how much work has gone into renovating the building.

“I know they’ve come up against more issues than expected,” she said.

She’s looking forward to the brewery’s opening.

“We think it will bring some life back to our side of the street and we’re looking forward to enjoying the deck after work,” she said.

Brewing won’t start until 2018. Federal licensing and getting the equipment will require some time. The optimistic timeline is for brewing to begin in April.

Therriault, Geaghan and Ireland are all confident the new spot will be a hit in Bath.

“I’ve always had this strong urge to do something like this in Bath,” said Therriault. “I grew up here, I work here and I love our little city, and for years I’ve been feeling like there was this opportunity to create something unique and local that would honor the history of Bath and bring the community together.”

]]> Therriault, Terry Geaghan, and developer Sean Ireland in the space that will become Bath Brewing Company.Thu, 12 Oct 2017 13:48:48 +0000
Apple Culture: Local apples taste best in October when the russets ripen Wed, 11 Oct 2017 08:00:20 +0000 EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the sixth and last Apple Culture column, which we’ve been running in conjunction with apple season in Maine (though crazily, just last week we saw peaches in the farmers market, alongside the apples!).

To me, the middle of October is peak apple season. This is when russets ripen – the apples with the most complex, interesting flavors of all. I like these varieties so much that I adopted the term “russet” as part of my digital nom de plume, The Righteous Russet. My editors worried Maine readers might see my email address and Instagram account name and confuse me with a potato expert. But I was willing to risk it. There is, in fact, no “Righteous Russet” apple varietal, but the name stuck after my wife and I mistakenly thought we saw one listed at an orchard where we were picking apples last year.

As this is my last column of the season, I wanted to end by going back to the beginning and sharing my love for the russeted varieties that most inspire my obsession with the heirloom and unconventional apples that grow in Maine.

The idea that October is peak apple season may surprise people who are accustomed to measuring the season’s length with the ebb in availability of locally grown commercial apples like McIntosh and Cortland; these fruits fall off in quality as the season progresses and turns colder. But orchard owners I talked to when I put together a guide to orchards that specialize in unconventional apples for the Press Herald, bemoaned the fact that many Mainers pick Macs and Cortlands in September, then scratch apple-picking off their fall To Do list. They’ve no idea they are missing out on the many excellent varieties, like russets, that need additional time on the tree to develop their exceptional flavors.

The varieties that populate orchards at the beginning of the season are blander because early-season apples need to bulk up quickly, which means they contain far more air and water than later-season apples. They are often mushy and underwhelming – especially when eaten fresh. Russets and other late-season apples, by contrast, are typically crisp and crunchy. They contain high levels of acidity and sugar that play off each other in fascinating ways. The flavors run the gamut: from well balanced or cleanly sweet to floral, astringent or punchy tart, complicated flavors that no early season apple can replicate. Some people liken the taste of russets to pears. It’s the extra tree time to ripen that makes the difference.

“I don’t know if russeting a naturally occurring condition that slightly hardens and browns the skin affects the taste of apples, but all the russets I can think of pack a flavor punch,” says Cammy Watts of Super Chilly Farm in Palermo. “We even have one russet from Albion that tastes like Lemonhead candy.”

Watts and apple expert John Bunker are partners in the Out on a Limb CSA, which offers subscribers a huge diversity of heirloom and unconventional apples each fall. Russets are among subscriber favorites, Watts said.

To no small extent, the first half of apple season is making due with what is available. Then October happens, and the world of apples explodes with possibilities. If September is about using apples creatively, October is about simply picking apples off the tree, taking a bite, and marveling at their flavors.

But please don’t be put off by their looks. Russets are, it must be said, funny-looking apples with brownish skin.

“Not long ago I was some describing some of the odd shapes and colors you see in apple varieties to some kids and when I told them that some apples were brown, they looked at me a bit shocked and asked, ‘like rotten?’ ” said Laura Sieger, a fellow russet aficionado and Maine Heritage Orchard employee. “Some people definitely are intrigued, though, and once you get past that the apple is very different looking, I think it’s easy to appreciate their best qualities.”

What exactly causes the skin to brown – it can range from a small patch to a lattice pattern to an all-over brown – is unclear. One theory is that the russeting protects an apple from rupturing when it grows faster than its skin can otherwise handle. Another is that russetting occurs when an apple accommodates itself to colder climates that produce later frosts.

Although russeting can appear on many varieties that no one would categorize as russets, it is the intensity and prominence of this skin condition that led people to apply the term to particular varieties. Two of the most iconic russets are the Knobbed Russet and the Egremont Russet. The Knobbed Russet really is hideous, with a heavy splattering of russeting. I can imagine a witch in a fairy tale offering this apple to an innocent young girl. David Buchanan of Portersfield Cider in Pownal likens them to “mummified shrunken heads.”

The Egremont Russet, which happens to be my very favorite apple, has a clean, golden skin that gives it a regal quality; it would not look out of place in a still life painting. Despite their disparate appearances, both apples are wonderful dessert varieties – a term used to mean they are good for eating out of hand – with odd and complex flavors.

“Behind the rough texture of russets lie some of the best flavors – they’re incomparably delicious,” Buchanan says.

If you’ve already picked apples this year and scratched the activity off of your fall To Do list, I beg you to reconsider. Return for the russets!

And enjoy the rest of apple season and all the amazing fruit that is yet to come.

Sean Turley is a lifelong fruit enthusiast and an amateur apple picker and sleuth. Every fall, Turley dedicates himself to locating and devouring as many of Maine’s heritage and wild apple varietals as possible. Sean posts his finds on Instagram @therighteousrusset and can be contacted at:

]]> 0, 10 Oct 2017 20:13:22 +0000
‘Complete Guide to the Underground Superfood’ gets you in touch with your roots Wed, 11 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “Roots: The Complete Guide to the Underground Superfood.” By Stephanie Pedersen. Sterling. 192 pages. $14.95

“Roots: The Complete Guide to the Underground Superfood” pays homage to the humble vegetables that grow underground. Humans have eaten roots since the beginning of time, author Stephanie Pedersen writes, both for nourishment and for medicinal purposes.

Her compact cookbook is packed with root vegetable facts and lore. In many countries, a specific root vegetable is a source of cultural identity. In my Irish family, potatoes were the mainstay of our diet; we ate them at practically every meal, while Pedersen says it was her Sicilian in-laws who introduced her to rutabaga (though it hails from northern Europe). Traditional Chinese medicine uses burdock to heal skin conditions, stimulate hair growth and purify the blood, while beets are considered a blood-building vegetable – no surprise given their blood-red color.

Edible roots, Pedersen writes, grow on every continent except Antarctica and they’re infinitely adaptable, doing well in sandy, loamy or clay-like soils; and moist, dry or cold conditions, which makes for a long growing season. These factors make them relatively easy to grow. They are also easy to store: Root vegetables can last for months in a dark, cool cellar. For all these reasons, root vegetables have long been a dietary backbone for humankind.

The book is a paperback, and one in a series Pedersen has written (others include “Kale” and “Coconut”). It has a handful of color photos of finished dishes, as well as small, sepia photos of the raw roots and other ingredients. Chapter 1 offers 40 pages of nutritional profiles. The information on beets, carrots, and parsnips as well as lesser-known roots such as burdock, cassava and scorzonera, encompasses vitamin levels, medicinal benefits and history, and tells readers how to buy, grow, use and store root vegetables. The remaining chapters offer recipes.

In general, the recipes are simple; many contain fewer than a half-dozen ingredients. Since sweet potatoes are a favorite with our family, I tested a recipe for Sweet Potato Protein Burgers. Most of my past attempts at making meatless burgers have resulted in crumbly patties. These sweet potato burgers were a definite improvement. Yes, the texture was soft and somewhat squishy, but the burgers held together, and the combination of flavors was fresh and savory. In fact, we taste-tested the blended ingredients before mixing in the quinoa and sunflower seeds, and thought it would make a delicious dip. Pedersen writes that she sometimes crumbles the cooked burger into a chopped salad for a delicious nutrition boost. Really, you can’t go wrong whatever way you eat these burgers.

Reading “Roots” has motivated me to incorporate more of these “underground superfoods” into my family’s diet. Given their versatility – they can be eaten raw, boiled, baked or roasted – that shouldn’t be too hard.



The recipe calls for 4 patties, but I found I was able to make 6.

Makes 4 (or 6) servings

1 cup cooked sweet potato, no skin

1 cup cooked chickpeas

1/2 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger root

1 garlic clove, minced

2 scallions, chopped

1/2 minced jalapeño (optional)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, dill, chives, or a combination of these

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup cooked quinoa, white or red

3 tablespoons quinoa, millet, teff, or almond flour

1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons avocado or coconut oil, for frying

In a food processor, pulse the sweet potato, chickpeas, ginger, garlic, scallions, jalapeño (if using), herbs, salt, pepper, cumin, and lemon juice, until somewhat blended. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, then sprinkle in the cooked quinoa and the grain or nut flour. Gently fold until combined. Adjust seasonings and fold in the sunflower seeds.

Form the mixture into 4 (or 6) patties and place them, covered, in the refrigerator for 1 hour or more to firm up. To cook, add 1 tablespoon of oil to a frying pan and heat over medium heat. Add the patties and cook for about 5 minutes, until golden. Be careful to keep the heat low. Turn the burgers and cook on the other side for about 5 minutes, until golden.

]]> 0, 10 Oct 2017 18:33:23 +0000
Vegan grain bowls gain popularity in Maine Wed, 11 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Grain bowls are riding high on current healthy eating trends, around the country and right here in Maine, too. In our state, they’re on the rise at local restaurants, where chefs and owners report that vegan bowls quickly become bestsellers.

Two and half years ago Ten Ten Pié in Portland added a vegan grain bowl to its menu. “It’s become one of our top-selling items,” owner Markos Miller said. “We were pleasantly surprised by how well-received it was.”

The multi-grain veggie bowl has a base of three kinds of rice and quinoa, which is topped with greens, seaweed, avocado, pickles and tofu. A carrot-ginger dressing finishes the dish.

A few blocks away at the Press Hotel, Union restaurant chef Josh Berry offered a “very successful” vegan grain bowl on the spring menu. Since then, grain bowls have been popping up on the restaurant’s specials board. Berry said he’s noticed customers on a business lunch “want a lighter dish but want to still really remain full.” Grain bowls score on both points.

The most recent grain bowl offered at Union united green bamboo rice, French green lentils, green zebra tomatoes and zucchini. Berry said fall versions might include wheat berries, seared tempeh, red cabbage and pumpkin broth.

On the island of North Haven, where the year-round population of 350 swells to 1,500 in the summer months, a vegetarian grain bowl added to the menu at Calderwood Hall two years ago has won a following among both locals and summer folks. Called the grains and greens bowl, its made up of brown rice, seasonal vegetables, quick pickles and feta; the cheese can be left off to make it vegan, and a choice of two dressings are offered.

“I didn’t have any idea it would be so popular,” said Jessie Hallowell, who is the kitchen manager at Calderwood Hall, which is the only restaurant on the island to stay open year round. “It appeals to a broad audience,” Hallowell continued. “It’s really surprising to me, but it really is across the board. Kids don’t order it as much, but lobstermen, carpenters, moms, vegetarians, the gluten-free and teenagers do.”

Miller at Ten Ten Pié said his grain bowl eaters also run the gamut. Many are younger people and women, “but more and more we see carpenters, construction workers and guys that a generation ago would be ordering Italians from the same spot,” he said. (Ten Ten Pié is located in the storefront that once held DiPietro’s Italian sandwich shop.)

One restaurant that has gone all in on the grain bowl trend is LB Kitchen in Portland, which opened in late February with a health-focused menu of grain bowls and avocado toasts. Bryna Gootkind, who opened the restaurant with chef Lee Farrington, said they decided to focus on grain bowls as a result of her experience in the natural foods industry; she works in marketing for California-based superfood brand Navitas Organics. On business trips, she said she has noticed how well grain bowl restaurants have done in major cities.

“We were surprised the concept wasn’t happening very much in Portland,” Gootkind said.

LB Kitchen has been busy since opening, and the recently added tofu banh mi bowl has replaced the All the Vegetables bowl as its top seller. Both are vegan. The banh mi bowl features brown rice topped with pickled daikon, pickled beets, avocado, greens, spicy vegan mayo and tofu. All the Vegetables starts with a base of quinoa or farro and then is topped with seasonal vegetables, pickled beets, sauerkraut and, if desire, turmeric grilled tofu.

These grain bowls and the rest of its healthful, on-trend menu landed LB Kitchen the contract to provide all the breakfasts and lunches for the bands playing at Thompson’s Point this past summer.

One of the newest grain bowls can be found at Gather in Yarmouth, which tested the vegan Golden Bowl on its specials board in September. Composed of rice piled with roasted vegetables, pickled red peppers, tofu and a nutritional yeast sauce, the dish captured the attention of diners.

“Interestingly, this dish got such a positive response from people who don’t always order vegetarian,” Gather owner Matt Chappell said.

On the nights the grain bowl was on the specials board, it accounted for 10 percent of the dishes ordered. “For a vegan option to be 10 percent of the meals that go out that night really says a lot,” he said. “My top dish on a given night wouldn’t exceed 10 percent, let alone a dish on the specials board.”

The Golden Bowl is now on Gather’s permanent menu.


Step 1: Pick a cooked grain

Go basic with white rice, or take it up a notch with brown basmati rice, jasmine rice or red rice. More adventurous bowl makers may opt for quinoa, buckwheat, hulled barley, wheat berries, farro or rye berries. Try a mix of grains.

Step 2: Select your vegetables

Let the season and the farmers market be your guide. Or pick a flavor profile and work from there. At this time of year, roasted root vegetables or Brussels sprouts are nice, as is sauteed kale and garlic.

Step 3: Choose a protein

Try tofu – either baked or fried, hot or cold. Tempeh works well, too, but is better served hot. Other good grain complements are plant-based meats made from seitan, beans, and falafel or crumbled veggie burgers.

Step 4: Add a pickle

It can really help brighten a bowl. Options range from pickled cucumbers and pickled peppers to pickled cauliflower. Marinated artichoke hearts, olive, sauerkraut and kimchi also add zest.

Step 5: Top with sauce

This crucial element brings the bowl together, and the possibilities are endless. To name just a few, balsamic vinaigrette, carrot-ginger dressing, vegan ranch dressing, lemon-tahini sauce, Thai peanut sauce, miso broth, and vegan cheese sauce.

Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at:

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

]]> 0 Golden Bowl at Gather in Yarmouth, above, and the All the Vegetables bowl at LB Kitchen in Portland, right.Tue, 10 Oct 2017 18:27:03 +0000
When it comes to wine, sweet doesn’t have to mean cloying Wed, 11 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 I talk to lots of people each week about wine. Most of them don’t know what they want to drink. This makes sense – they are usually about to embark on a blind tasting menu at the restaurant where I work and have no idea what they are about to eat. To help them figure it out, I usually ask if there are certain kinds of wines they definitely do not want to drink. Interestingly, their answers rarely vary. Over-oaked, buttery Chardonnay typically gets an immediate thumbs down. Merlot fares almost no better. But one kind of wine is even more often categorically marginalized/dismissed wholesale: sweet wines. We aren’t talking dessert wines. I mean wines that have residual sugar.

Residual sugar is the amount of sugar that is in a wine after its fermentation cycle is complete. If, for example, a vat of pressed grape juice starts off with 10g/L of sugar and the winemaker chooses to halt the fermentation after 8g of sugar have been gobbled up and converted to alcohol by the yeasts, then you will have a wine with 2g/L of residual sugar.

Most people dismiss “sweet” wines out of hand, and I’ll be the first to admit some well-founded reasons exist for doing so.

For instance, many cheap, sweet wines are in the marketplace. Some of these wines (if you can call them that) have sugar added to them after the wine has completed fermentation. Adding sugar to a wine is a surefire way fill quality gaps and cover up faults. If the acidity level in your wine is through the roof, just add sugar. If some of the aromas wafting from the barrel are unpleasant, just add sugar. I think of these kinds of products as beverages, not really wines. They have been manipulated in such an overt fashion that they’ve lost their resemblance to wine. So I agree, people are right to reject such imposters out of hand.

But consumers who reject any sweetness in wine at all are wildly overcompensating.

The highly regarded Riesling and Champagne importer Terry Theise has mused about why so many people dislike sweet wines. In one online interview he asks people who are opposed to any sweetness in their wines to consider different types of sweetness, say the sweetness of an apple versus that of a Twinkie. Most people are not opposed to sweetness in their apples, quite the opposite, actually. But Twinkies are a different story. As Terry surmises, Twinkies are merely sweet, a quality that doesn’t satisfy most of us because it lacks balance. The apple, on the other hand, is a more complex sweetness experience because apples are also acidic.

In the wine world, too much sugar without a supplemental boost of acidity is called cloying, an excess of sweetness. I don’t gravitate towards cloying wines, and I suspect that most people, when they eschew sweet wines, are actually opposed to cloying wines. I get it. I believe that our palates have evolved to detect harmony of sensation. When we detect a lack of harmony we grow bored and go in search for what’s lacking. It’s why bakers add salt to their chocolate chip cookies. The salt makes the bittersweet chocolate come alive not because it is more sweet or more chocolatey, but because it creates a contrast that is exciting and interesting.

Counterintuitive? Yes. True? A thousand times, yes.

In the wine world, thankfully, you can find a plethora of excellent, balanced, complex wines with residual sugar that are not merely sweet and are far from cloying. In fact, some of the very best wines in the world — in that they reflect the most complex, dynamic harmony of flavors — are wines drinkers often reject for being in the “sweet” category: Riesling and Gewürztraminer.

If I’ve done my job here, by now you’re probably hoping for suggestions, and I’m happy to give you some. Both of these wines have residual sugar, but the key is that they also have acidity. Acidity and sugar are good friends because they balance each other out. Lemonade is a good example of this friendship. I’m quite sure that most of you don’t chug quarts of freshly squeezed lemon juice, or eat full handfuls of granulated sugar. But put them together and, voila!

My two suggestions are a Riesling and a Gewürztraminer. Both are German and both inexpensive because they aren’t trendy.

South Portland Wine Company distributes a number of wines from Terry Theise’s German portfolio. Terry is cut from admirable cloth, both as a wine importer and a human. His book, “Reading between the Wines,” is a favorite of mine. Look out for the J. & H. Selbach, Bernkasteler Kurfurstlay, Kabinett Riesling. Kabinett, as distinct from Spätlese and Auslese, is the German designation given to the grapes that are picked first during harvest. These grapes have the highest levels of acidity, which make them ideal for making wines with a modicum of sweetness. Drinking this bottle is like drinking liquid Granny Smith apples with the addition of alcohol.

Pine State Beverage brings in the Villa Wolf Gewürztraminer. I don’t know how readily available it is since most retail spots don’t keep heavy stock on these kinds of wines, but if you know the distributor of a wine, most shops will bring in special orders. It’s an off-dry wine, which means it’s in between dry and sweet. It’s all liquid peaches and orange blossoms and finishes with a nice little acidity corset to keep the sweetness from spilling out all over the place. Let others spend $50 on the latest Chardonnay; you can drop just a hair over $14 and be quite happy with this one.

You don’t have to avoid sweet wines. You just have to avoid the trashy ones. The two above will get you started on the right path to appreciating sweetness in wine.

Bryan Flewelling is the wine director for Big Tree Hospitality, which owns three restaurants in Portland – Hugo’s, Eventide Oyster Co. and The Honey Paw – and one in Boston.

]]> 0, 10 Oct 2017 18:12:21 +0000
Harvest on the Harbor toasts an anniversary Wed, 11 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 What better way to toast the 10th anniversary of Harvest on the Harbor than with a good cocktail?

Yes, Portland’s biggest food festival hits the double digits when it launches Oct. 17 with a series of “sustainable suppers” held at a half-dozen local restaurants. It will end on Oct. 22 with a self-guided “Harvest Crawl” to tasting rooms, retailers, bars and restaurants around Portland. In between there will be lots of events celebrating local food and drink, including the wildly popular Maine Lobster Chef of the Year event and the annual grand tasting, known this year as Flavors of Maine.

The newest addition to the lineup is also one of the most exciting. The Harvest Happy Hour, which will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 20 at Aura, celebrates the rise of craft distilling in Maine. For the first time, Maine’s 15 craft distilleries will be all in one spot, serving samples of their products as well as cocktails paired with local foods. The event costs $65, and proceeds will go to Full Plates Full Potential, an organization that is working to end childhood hunger in Maine.

The event is the brainchild of Stefanie Manning, one of the owners of the festival, and Constance Bodine and Ian Michaud of the Maine Distiller’s Guild. (Manning is also vice president of circulation and marketing at Maine Today Media.)

Manning said she thinks most people have no idea how much craft distilling has grown in Maine. Harvest on the Harbor, she said, could do the same thing for craft distillers that it did for craft brewers, who raised public awareness of their products through pouring samples at festival events. “I think it’s going to be one of the best events of the week,” she said.

Michaud, the head distiller at Liquid Riot, said Maine’s craft distilleries get a lot of attention from people who come here for the bustling craft beer scene, noting that Maine has become one of the top states for “beer tourism.”

“But I think there’s a much broader range of people who drink spirits and may not be interested in the whole beer scene, and may not be aware of the whole craft distillation movement,” he said.

Michaud said the Maine Distiller’s Guild is planning a marketing campaign with the slogan “Make Mine from Maine,” but in the meantime Harvest on the Harbor will be a good showcase for these Maine products, from absinthe to rye whiskey.

“If you are a spirits drinker,” he said, “it’s very likely your preferred spirit is available from a Maine producer.”

The Harvest Happy Hour will feature four tasting bars, each with a different theme, pairing styles of food with different types of spirits. At “Brown Goods and Bacon,” for example, whiskies and other aged liquors will be paired with a few food bites made with bacon. The other tasting bars will pair vodka with vegetable bites and cheese; gin and other liquors made with botanicals with smoked seafood; and specialty liquors, including rum and products such as Liquid Riot’s Bierschnaps (a high-proof spirit made from beer), with barbecue and pickled foods.

Christopher Mikesell, the chef at Aura, will be preparing all of the food with local ingredients that have been donated for the occasion.

]]> 0, ME - OCTOBER 21: Executive Chef Matt Ginn, of Evo, at right, works with his team at the Maine Lobster Chef Celebration during Harvest on the Harbor. (Photo by Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer)Tue, 10 Oct 2017 19:25:57 +0000
Chefs keep refining dishes until they’re ready for prime time Wed, 11 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 When chef Justin Walker and his wife, Danielle, bought the Cape Neddick Inn in May, they pretty much had to throw out the old menu and start over.

“Everything was precooked,” Walker said. “A lot of stuff was held for hours and hours and hours. All the vegetables were from South America. Nothing was local. Some of the seafood was frozen, some of it was from China. We’re in Maine, and virtually none of it was from Maine except for lobster.”

Longtime customers of the restaurant were angry that he deep-sixed the chicken parm and the Statler chicken. They wanted simple food they could recognize – no fancy sauces, no words they couldn’t understand.

So Walker created a simple new “base menu” to get the restaurant through to Nov. 4, when it will close for 10 weeks for renovations before re-opening as Walkers. He’ll hold off on the crudos and interesting vegetable preparations until the new restaurant launches. In the meantime, he is testing dishes on his customers, old and new, to get a feel for their tastes.

“We’re trying to see what they’re into,” he said. “You know, duck can be weird for people. Could we do a guinea hen? I don’t know. So let’s get a few guinea hens and give it a try. That’s where we’re at now.”

Recipe development and testing goes on all the time in restaurant kitchens, but is especially intense in the weeks before opening a new place. It gives chefs the opportunity to make tweaks in dishes that can transform them from just OK into real crowd pleasers. It gives the kitchen staff time to become familiar with ingredients and techniques. And it can help chefs balance their overall menu.

Chefs handle recipe testing in different ways. Some rely solely on their own palates and the advice of their staff. Others bounce dishes off of friends and family.

When the Portland restaurant Chaval was under construction in preparation for its mid-July opening, chef/owners Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez covered everything up at night with tarps and dropcloths so they could test recipes on staff and friends without getting the food dusty, and spot the things they wanted to change.

“There were a couple of things where we just kept going back to the drawing board,” Sansonetti said. “And there were some things that were perfect at the start.”

The black pepper brioche bun that holds the house burger together (and is made with beef tallow) went through several incarnations as they experimented with different flours and tried nail the ratio of bun to meat.

The Spanish tortilla, a simple starter made with potatoes, eggs and onions, went under the flame about a dozen times to get it just right. (Served with garlic aioli, it’s now one of the cooks’ favorite snacks.)

Vien Dobui, chef/owner of Cong Tu Bot, and his sous chef, Joseph Zohn, worked on the pork patty for the Bún Cha – a vermicelli noodle bowl – for a month, getting together once or twice a week and sharing their adjustments as they tried to perfect it.

“I knew what I wanted it to taste like, and I knew how I wanted to cook it in the restaurant – over charcoal to get a nice smoky flavor,” Dobui said.

Dobui and Zohn went through 20 different versions of the patty before hitting the mark. For the final version, they added “really smoky bacon” and a Vietnamese caramel, which Dobui says is like a Vietnamese mother sauce. “It’s basically caramel that’s taken way too far,” he said. “A French cook would think that we’re doing something terribly, terribly wrong. Every Vietnamese family has a jar of caramel.”

Recipe testing starts with inspiration. Much of the menu at Cong Tu Bot is rooted in Dobui’s fond memories of growing up in California and eating “unexpected, comforting food” from tiny restaurants in bustling shopping centers. Inspiration could also be found in family gatherings and the chicken pho Dobui’s mother made for him every time he came home for a visit.

A simple cabbage salad Dobui grew up on “wasn’t sexy enough” for Cong Tu Bot’s menu, the chef fretted, but it’s become one of the restaurant’s more popular items.

Dobui and Zohn traveled to Vietnam last November, and found that for each dish Dobui wanted on his menu, there was a Vietnamese restaurant dedicated to making that dish, and that dish only, “and they’ve been tweaking it for 20 years.” Now Dobui’s personal goal is to make the perfect pho, even if the testing takes two decades.


Sansonetti and Lopez have also been inspired by favorite childhood foods, but the menu at Chaval was influenced mostly by their travels and what they’ve learned working with top French and Spanish chefs. They are, Sansonetti said, always talking about flavor and texture combinations that they really like.

A recipe, Sansonetti said, can start with a list of ingredients, or it can start with how the chef wants the plate to look and work backwards from there. If there’s rabbit in the kitchen, should the dish revolve around the legs only, or should the meat be stuffed into a roulade or wrapped in puff pastry?

Lopez recently created a Spanish sundae, a savory dessert that features ice cream made from ham bones and caramel made from pork fat. The sundae is topped with crispy fried serrano ham. It took her two weeks to develop and test the recipe.

Walker gets his inspiration almost entirely from the seasons. He doesn’t look at cookbooks or consider what other chefs are into, but he does go foraging – he has 70 pounds of maitake mushrooms in his walk-in – and visits local farms. He loves doing things with winter squash, baked beans and pastas this time of year.

Sometimes inspiration is forced upon you, as it was recently for chef Daron Goldstein. Three weeks ago, Goldstein suddenly found himself with an unexpected opportunity to open a new restaurant. He’s in the throes of recipe writing for the new place, called Provender, that he and his wife will open in a few weeks at 112 Main St. in Ellsworth.

Goldstein is planning a “contemporary American” menu that will be attractive to both lawyers and lobstermen. He’s working on a pan-seared scallop dish he’s changed four times so far. The current version includes parsnip puree, apple cider reduction and mushroom ragout.

“It’s not enough,” he said, sighing. “I think I can do better.”

The next version will be “a little more composed” and include celery root, golden raisins, capers, parsnip crisps and brown butter. “I know those flavors go well together,” Goldstein said. “I feel better about that dish now, and I know it’s something can be executed.”

For other chefs, recipe testing can get in the way of the creative process.

Ask Stephanie Brown how far ahead she started planning the menu for North 43 Bistro, which opened in July in South Portland, and she replies: “Two nights before we opened. I’m not kidding.”

“I always seem to do better when it’s like a last-minute homework assignment and I procrastinate,” she said, laughing. “I think the adrenaline and the pressure make me create better.”

And because she gets bored easily, Brown usually changes her menus every three weeks. Hence her motto: A week to learn it, a week to love it, a week to hate it, and then it’s gone. At her new restaurant, she’s stretched that time period to four weeks because she doesn’t want changing the menu to be “more of a strain than a pleasure.”

Brown says she only needs a single ingredient to catch her attention – something as big as a protein or as small as a seed – to trigger inspiration for an entire menu. She also tries to be constantly aware of the market and what’s going on in the world. Are dayboats going out? Will the hurricane in Texas affect beef prices?

Once she has an idea, she sits in front of the computer and writes recipes out of her head, making sure they will balance with everything else on the menu – soft versus crunchy, sweet versus salty, grilled versus sauteed. She knows from experience, she said, what ratios of ingredients work.

On “new menu day,” she walks into the kitchen with her recipes, and her staff starts prepping. They adjust the recipes as they go along, creating a “bible menu packet” with all the changes that have been made that they can follow for the next four weeks. If one particular component of a recipe – say, a batter that will coat fried seafood causes concern – they’ll do a small test.

In the beginning, Brown admits, her crew got a deer-in-the-headlights look whenever she came into the kitchen with new recipes. But now they can’t wait to get rid of menu items and move on.

“It’s funny how they’re now all on board,” Brown said. “It gets them excited and stimulated.”


For Walker, testing dishes will be critical to making a smooth transition from the old Cape Neddick Inn to the new Walkers.

He and his staff test two dishes a week. Walker makes a lot of notes, and watches his staff’s reactions when they taste something.

“If you truly want to do menu development,” he said, “you have to give yourself time and you have to be patient.”

To try to keep the restaurant’s longtime customers from walking away, Walker has been replacing some dishes with fresh new ones, and putting a modern twist on others. The old menu, for example, featured a salad that Walker called “the cliche of cliches” – made with arugula, goat cheese and dried cranberries. He replaced it with a salad of kale and broccoli greens dressed in a vinaigrette that includes fish sauce, serrano chiles, lime juice and spicy peanuts. “People started going crazy over it,” he said.

Walker replaced the frozen-at-sea Icelandic haddock (baked with crushed Ritz crackers and dehydrated parsley on top) with a pan-roasted local hake basted in brown butter and served with new potatoes, roasted turnips and an herb salad.

Probably the most successful dish has been the pork loin, which replaced a pork schnitzel made from frozen pork cutlets and served with “mashed potatoes that were made at 9 o’clock in the morning with garlic powder in them.”

Walker’s version is brined, pan-roasted pork tenderloin served with chicharrones, creamed kale, wood-roasted carrots in brown butter, and peach agrodolce.

“The flavors are designed to work together. The textures are designed to work together,” Walker said. “(The customers) don’t know why it’s good, but they know it is good.”

“They’re being patient. We’re being patient,” he said, “and I think it will end up working out.”

]]> 0, 14 Oct 2017 18:02:52 +0000
Eventide Fenway opens in Boston Tue, 10 Oct 2017 15:03:29 +0000 Eventide Fenway has opened in Boston. The sister restaurant to Eventide Oyster on Portland’s Middle Street is the first venture of Big Tree Hospitality outside of Portland, let alone out of state. It is the fourth restaurant for the company’s James Beard Award winning chefs Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley, with partner and General Manager Arlin Smith. Eventide Oyster, Hugo’s and Honey Paw sit cheek by jowl in Portland and share a kitchen.

Eventide Fenway, at 1321 Boylston Street, will be open every day from 11 a.m to 10 p.m. The company describes it as “a modern, metropolitan take on the window walk-up seafood shacks that dot the New England coast.” Will it relieve the pressure of crowds at Eventide Oyster in Portland? Time will tell.

An oyster display inside the new Eventide Fenway in Boston. Photo by Zack Bowen/Knack Factory

]]> 0, 10 Oct 2017 11:18:18 +0000
Recipe contest may find you in NYC, meeting Mario Batali Tue, 10 Oct 2017 15:02:50 +0000 Hannaford supermarkets and celebrity chef/restaurateur/cookbook author/TV star Mario Batali are collaborating on a recipe contest designed to celebrate home chefs and their cooking inspirations.

Mario Batali

Cooks interested in entering the Mario Batali Home Chef Challenge must submit an original recipe, along with a story that explains both the recipe’s significance and how it can serve to excite others to cook at home. Entries are due by Oct. 31.

The grand prize winner gets a free trip to New York City for two, the chance to meet Batali on the set of ABC’s “The Chew,” and dinner at one of his restaurants. Among Batali culinary achievements? Twenty-six restaurants, 11 cookbooks, many television shows and five glitzy Eataly marketplaces, including one in Boston.

To enter the contest, participants must purchase a Mario Batali pasta or sauce and one additional qualifying item. For a list of products, visit, where you will also find contest details. At checkout, customers will receive an entry code for submitting their recipe online.

Nine semifinalists will compete in one of three tasting events in Portland; Burlington, Vermont; and Albany, New York. A finalist will be chosen from each location, then Batali himself will select the grand prize winner.

]]> 0, 10 Oct 2017 11:20:04 +0000
Dine Out Maine: North 43 chef re-emerges with fresh, international take on American bistro Sun, 08 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 If you’re coming out of hiding, there are worse places to do it than on the waterfront.

Stephanie Brown, former chef/owner of Seagrass Bistro in Yarmouth, first disappeared from the public eye when she sold her business and went to work as the executive chef of the private Woodlands Club in Falmouth. “From that point on, for four years, members of the club were the only ones who could have my food,” she said.

Earlier this year, Laura Argitis of Old Port Sea Grill lured her back. All it took was an offer to partner on a new endeavor – a South Portland bistro called North 43, housed in a newly renovated, contemporary corrugated steel, glass and wood structure that occupies the spot where Joe’s Boathouse once sat in Spring Point Marina.

Inside, there’s an open kitchen, high-backed twill banquette seating and chunky dark wood tables. Right away, it’s clear that the interior is at odds with the exterior. From the giant gilt-lettered, Copperplate Gothic sign reading “Company” to the striped throw pillows, the vibe indoors leans stately country, while the building itself looks like a modernist fold-out centerfold from Dwell magazine.

Despite its proximity to deep water and views that pan cinematically across the Fore River, hopscotching over Little, then Great Diamond islands, the bistro is not a nautical-themed seafood restaurant. Brown and Argitis rejected the idea as too touristy, focusing on a long view of their business, one where January is as important as July.

Instead, North 43 is, as Brown describes it, an “American bistro with French, Tuscan and Asian influences that reflect my style of cooking.”

“My training is French classical, my heritage is Italian, and my childhood was very much about homemade food, gardens, big dinners. And since we’re here on the water, Asian flair goes really well with seafood,” she explained.

With that in mind, it’s hard to know what to expect from the menu. That’s doubly true when you look at the cocktail list, which is full of enjoyable, if not particularly adventurous drinks like a citrusy bourbon cocktail ($9) with lemon, maple and apple cider and bourbon. Or the Eternal Flame ($10) a tweaked Negroni made with Aperol and chili liqueur – but not enough of either to make you guess that you’re drinking anything other than a standard-issue Negroni.

And when guests have knocked back a few, the dining room can get barbarically noisy. Despite a few soundproofing tiles on the ceiling of the dining room, I could barely hear my dinner guest on a recent visit – thanks to a party of nine, high-fiving across their table and bellowing in celebration of something having to do with LinkedIn. “Looks like a Friday in here, not a Thursday,” our server commented apologetically. “But you won’t notice them once you start eating.”

She wasn’t entirely right, but there was indeed plenty to focus on once our plates arrived. I was particularly taken with the Italian-esque pan-seared scallops with saffron-tomato reduction ($14), especially the sauce, an enthusiastically tangy and floral concoction. Brown prepares it by finishing puréed tomatoes with a compound butter flavored with saffron, shallot and thyme. Poured over three well-seared, medium-sized scallops, it was fantastic – the sort of sauce I would have sopped up with bread, if I had any nearby. The dish’s single flaw was an unnecessary drizzle of balsamic reduction that tipped the balance of the plate too far toward the acidic.

Wild boar with carrots and chard.

Another Italian-inspired dish, the rack of wild boar with chard and candy-sweet molasses-roasted carrots ($27) was nearly as good. Some days, a portion consists of one large chop, some days a few smaller ones. “It’s legitimately wild, so we have no control over the size of the rack. It just depends on the animal we get,” Brown said. Brined overnight in apple cider, brown sugar and anise, the boar is finished to order in a hot oven with apple butter and cinnamon, giving the meat a deep, caramel crust. It’s astoundingly good.

The chard that accompanies the boar, on the other hand, is not. Lift the edge of the rack, and you’ll discover torn raw leaves and broken stems, all folded onto the plate – no dressing, no cooking, no seasoning. “On each plate I try to put something simple to go with something more powerful,” Brown explained. But uncooked, forearm-long leaves of ruffled, late-season chard are fibrous and tough, unpleasant to anyone who is not part rabbit.

Elsewhere on the menu, chewiness is something to be avoided. It’s the entire reason why North 43’s curly kale salad ($10) is chiffonaded into skinny ribbons: “Kale can be really rough on the palate and the digestive tract. Chopping it brings a little bit of elegance to eating it. Plus the dressing works its way through the kale to soften it, so you’re not chewing forever,” Brown said. She’s right on both counts. Her creamy-textured Asian peanut dressing, made from cider, sambal, lime zest and lime juice not only tenderizes the greens, julienned carrots and shaved radishes, it is also bewitchingly tasty. The duck breast ($28) entrée reveals intriguing, cuisine-straddling elements, as well. Brown starts by searing fennel-, red pepper flake- and cumin-rubbed duck breasts, then roasting them with hoisin, tamari and anise, a few glugs of red wine, chicken stock and a blood orange purée. It’s a little bit Asian, a little French and a little Tuscan, all on the same plate.

But it’s all about execution, and on a recent visit, the duck was overcooked and its sauce both oversalted and far too tart. The line cooks that evening also ran amok, adding fist-sized piles of radish microgreens to the plate, creating a bitter, hairy-looking mess that hid the best components of the dish: tamari-roasted Brussels sprouts and remarkably savory, golden brown spaghetti squash galette – an ingenious (and seasonally appropriate) substitute for potatoes.

You have to give credit to Brown for trying, and sometimes succeeding, in her attempts to stitch together a patchwork crazy quilt of French, Tuscan and Asian influences. That’s no easy feat, and it explains why loyal customers from both of her recent local gigs have followed her to North 43, blending into the already eclectic mix of patrons: locals who walk to the restaurant, visitors who travel by water from neighboring islands, as well as people who keep boats at the marina. “I’ve been away for a while now, so it’s nice to see when people still remember you,” she said. With such an original perspective on something as potentially dull as American bistro cooking, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could forget her.

Andrew Ross has written about food in the United Kingdom and in New York, where he co-founded NYCnosh, a food website. He and his work have been featured on Martha Stewart Living Radio and in The New York Times. He is an internet researcher and higher education consultant. Contact him at:

Twitter: @AndrewRossME

]]> 0 boar with carrots and chard.Fri, 13 Oct 2017 18:08:58 +0000
Over $1 million in federal funding coming to Maine’s farms and food businesses Thu, 05 Oct 2017 21:27:37 +0000 Maine businesses and food projects will receive over $1 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including $500,000 designated for food processing and distribution in the Greater Portland area, according to U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree.

The biggest single grant is to the Greater Portland Council of Governments, which will receive $500,000 for its project “Scaling for Growth in the Portland Foodshed.”

That project is intended to address a lack of food processing infrastructure and an inefficient distribution network and will include outreach and training to 907 farms, wholesalers, institutions, processors and retailers within the Portland foodshed.

It will also fund the use of a technology platform, Spoiler Alert, that seeks to reduce food waste.

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Services is awarding $61 million in grants nationwide. Typically the service announces those grants, but this year there was no news release.

Pingree’s staff learned about the grants and prepared its own statement.

Other funding coming to Maine includes nearly $100,000 for the Gulf of Maine Research Institute to address supply chain challenges for local seafood. The USDA grants also include $530,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grants to be distributed by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

The grants will provide support for two different aspects of the maple syrup business.

The Maine Maple Producers Association will receive funding for its efforts to increase retail sales by at least 10 percent, and the Maine Agricultural & Forest Experimentation Station and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will use USDA funding to address microbial quality and safety of the state’s maple syrup. Two of Maine’s most important crops, wild blueberries and potatoes, are on tap for federal grants as well.

The Maine Potato Board’s research into crop rotation as a means to improve potato yields will receive funding, as will a project of the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine to optimize inputs for weed and disease management.

“Increasing the production and consumption of local food represents a fantastic opportunity for Maine jobs and businesses,” Pingree said in the statement. “From boosting local food processing in Greater Portland to marketing locally caught seafood, these federal investments will be terrific assets to building Maine’s food-based economy. That’s why I’ve advocated so hard for these kinds of investments in Washington and am actively working to strengthen them.”

Mary Pols can be contacted at 207-791-6456 or at:

Twitter: @MaryPols

]]> 0 Thu, 05 Oct 2017 21:20:27 +0000
South Portland close to scratching its toast itch Thu, 05 Oct 2017 08:01:39 +0000 SOUTH PORTLAND — It’s taken longer than expected, but Scratch Baking Co. plans to open its Toast Bar in the next few weeks.

The new venture on Broadway near the Ferry Village neighborhood will feature bagels, breads, and English muffins, toasted and topped with a variety of spreads, served with specialty coffees, teas, and juices.

Initially, the Toast Bar will be open Thursdays through Sundays from 7 a.m.-noon, “as we find our footing,” co-owner Sonja Swanberg said. “We’re letting it evolve and let it be what it wants to be.”

The 13-year-old bakery at 416 Preble St., in Willard Square, is a household name to many, even appearing in local real estate ads that tout “walk to Scratch bakery.”

The new Toast Bar will be adjacent to Scratch’s Bread Kitchen, 205 Broadway, at the corner of Sawyer Street, and will seat 10 to 12. It will have a stand-up bar along the window and picnic tables behind the building.

Swanberg, who owns the business with husband Bob Johnson and business partner Allison Reid, said they call it “slow Scratch.” Instead of people running in to grab a quick dozen bagels, like the self-serve station at Willard Square, people will line up and be served.

“If it doesn’t toast, we don’t have it,” Reid quipped.

Customers who want Scratch’s pastries, cakes, cookies and other sweets will have to visit the Willard Square store, where Reid said nothing will change.

The bakery opened in June 2004 under the name of “One Fifty Ate at Willard Square” and in December 2006, its name was changed to Scratch Baking Co.

Swanberg said people have been asking for years for toasted bagels.

The Toast Bar concept was announced in April 2016. The business moved its bread and bagel making operations into the former Getty gas station on Broadway last September.

But it has taken even longer to complete the 900-square-foot Toast Bar, where gleaming glass and metal garage doors allow natural light into an interior of white and gray, with accents of blue and steel. Large pots of flowers decorate the front of the building, softening the graphic lines and beckoning bagel lovers.

The bar will feature all six of Scratch’s well known bagel varieties: plain, Maine sea salt, sesame, poppy, everything and whole wheat. Breads will include Country Miche and Whole 9 multi-Grain daily, as well, as a rotating and seasonal selection.

Toppings will include cream cheeses, Casco Bay butter, Myrt’s pimento cheese, homemade jams and jellies, and nut butters including a chocolate and almond spread.

Swanberg said the infrastructure is complete and fully staffed, but they are waiting for tables and will do dry runs before the business formally opens to the public.

Reid said she and her business partners have always wanted to open a toast bar and when the opportunity arose to move their production facilities to the former Getty station”we all looked at each other and said – toast bar. It was serendipitous.”

To say Reid is a fan of  toast would be an understatement. She has her own toast bar in her South Portland home, which she calls a “shrine to toast” where friends and neighbors visit and enjoy toast together at the wood-topped bar.

Her home toast bar has a commercial-grade toaster, a bread box to display condiments, and baskets for bread.

Reid even has pictures of toast on the wall, Swanberg said.

]]> 0, 04 Oct 2017 12:15:13 +0000
Mass. bakery can’t claim ‘love’ as an ingredient in granola Wed, 04 Oct 2017 13:31:41 +0000 The ingredient list for Massachusetts-based Nashoba Brook Bakery’s granola was normal enough, save for one ingredient. Amid the oats and sweetener was “love.” The subject of nearly every rock-and-roll song, the thing Romeo and Juliet died for, was supposedly in the granola, which was sold at around 120 stores around New England.

The “ingredient” was a nod to the passion bakers put into their product and wink to fans of the snack. As the Concord bakery’s Twitter account shows, the business has a sense of humor.

“I really like that we list ‘love’ in the granola,” Nashoba Chief Executive Officer John Gates told Bloomberg News. “People ask us what makes it so good. It’s kind of nice that this artisan bakery can say there’s love in it and it puts a smile on people’s face.”

But the Food and Drug Administration didn’t see it that way. A human emotion, it said, cannot be an ingredient in baked goods.

The FDA published a warning letter to the bakery on Tuesday, which told the bakery to stop claiming that its granola contains love:

Gates said the letter “just felt so George Orwell.”

“Situations like that where the government is telling you you can’t list ‘love’ as an ingredient, because it might be deceptive, just feels so silly,” he told Bloomberg.

While the bakers may have poured love into their granola, they might have gone a little light on care.

The FDA also noted numerous code violations at the bakery, such as a single unspecified one-inch-long “crawling insect” in the pastry area among the “focaccia breads, 7-Grain rolls, and brioche rolls.” It also listed a few mislabeled products and other sanity violations.

The agency said that the use of “love” as an ingredient was not “among the agency’s top concerns.”

It “expects the company to correct the serious violations found on FDA’s inspection, as noted in the warning letter,” the agency said in a statement to Bloomberg.

]]> 0, 04 Oct 2017 09:43:54 +0000
The Maine Ingredient: If you pickle local produce, be ready for grateful puckering up Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Pickles and relishes have played a crucial role in Maine cooking for centuries, adding lift and sparkle to many a homespun meal in days of old.

Although it’s no longer necessary to “put up” food as our forebears did, it’s still fun and rewarding to make pickles with produce at its seasonal peak.

These days you have the option of preserving using the water bath canning process, or treating the vegetables as refrigerator pickles, where they will keep for at least four weeks.


Kirby cucumbers, sometimes called pickling cucumbers, are smallish cucumbers without many seeds. They are sold unwaxed, so that the pretty green peel can be included in the pickling process.

Makes about 4 pints

3 pounds Kirby cucumbers, washed and sliced thin

1 cup sliced onions

¼ cup kosher salt

2 cups cider vinegar

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds

1 teaspoon celery seeds

¾ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Toss the cucumbers in a large bowl with onions and salt. Add a handful of ice cubes and mix again. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 3 hours, stirring once or twice. Drain well in a colander.

Combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard and celery seed, turmeric and cloves in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the drained cucumbers. Return the liquid just to the boiling point and remove from the heat.

Let pickles cool in the brine and then pack into jars or plastic containers.

Refrigerate for at least 12 hours or for up to 4 weeks.


Most traditional chutney recipes call for simmering the fruit-spice mixture for upwards of 2 hours. This one, a delectable sweet-hot apple and tomato blend, is done in less than 30 minutes, start to finish.

It’s great served atop a curry or spread on meat or cheese sandwiches.

Makes about 3 cups

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 large tart apples, such as Granny Smith, unpeeled, cored and cut into ½-inch dice

1 large tomato, cored and cut into ½-inch dice

½ cup raisins

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root

1 teaspoon minced fresh or pickled jalapeño

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

¾ cup distilled white vinegar

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

½ cup orange juice

1 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a wide, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the apples, tomato, raisins, ginger, jalapeño, allspice and cloves and cook, stirring, until the fruit begins to give up its juices, about 3 minutes.

Add the vinegar, sugar, orange juice, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil, stirring.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until the apples are soft and the juices are reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. (Do not cook until dry, because the chutney will thicken as it cools. Add a bit of water if necessary.)

Cool and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to 2 weeks. Adjust salt, if necessary, before using.

Brooke Dojny is the author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

]]> 0, 03 Oct 2017 17:19:36 +0000
Who wrote ‘The Turmeric Cookbook’? It’s a mystery Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “The Turmeric Cookbook.” Octopus Books USA. 128 pages. $12.99.

It seems fitting that I grabbed “The Turmeric Cookbook” as our lingering Maine summer ticked over to fall.

My voracious appetite for cool cucumbers and peppers has waned as the temperature drops, and I’m moving past yogurt-based dill sauces and light fish meals to the heartier soups and stews that signal fall in our house.

A spicy dish simmering on the stove, warming the cool evenings, is just what the doctor ordered. The turmeric reminds me of the first time I was really introduced to cooking Indian foods, during my first autumn on the East Coast. The blazing trees outside my sister’s house were a revelation to this California native, and I fondly recall long afternoons cooking in the kitchen, discovering new spices and techniques. Now the season and the spice are intermingled in my mind and on my tongue.

Now I can feel virtuous too – turmeric is having a moment, as they say, for its purported health benefits. An ancient spice, it has long been associated with medicinal uses as an anti-inflammatory in Asian culture.

The slim volume, with just 50 recipes, is understated. There’s no author’s personality in the writing – no author’s name at all, in fact – and it reads almost like a textbook. A primer on turmeric discusses its health benefits, its history and includes some very helpful hints on how to remove the bright yellow coloring it can leave on cooktops, pots and hands. (Lemon juice and white vinegar to the rescue again!)

The cookbook has a nice mix of what I thought of as more standard dishes, with the turmeric added in the rub (roast chicken with tandoori rub) or a glaze (salmon glazed with miso and turmeric with wilted greens,) and more turmeric-dominated recipes such as “golden milk,” a coconut milk-based drink or turmeric-chai muffins.

For the adventurous, considering the distinct yellow hue that goes along with the spice, there is even a section on turmeric-based beauty products, including a face mask and body scrub. The instructions note “it is important to use organic non-dyed turmeric for these recipes.” Indeed.

Given my urge to rush into fall recipes, I tried the ginger and turmeric carrot soup.

Written for only two servings, I doubled the recipe and got chopping and measuring. It was simple to prepare, and the generous ginger and turmeric spices didn’t overwhelm the carrot flavoring. Quick, delicious, perfect.

And I didn’t even stain my fingernails.

Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at:

Twitter: noelinmaine


Serves two

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root

1 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric or ground turmeric

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus extra to season

1/2 pound carrots, coarsely chopped

13/4 cups hot vegetable stock

1/2 cup cashews, coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon mild chili powder

Sea salt flakes

Heat the oil in a saucepan over low-medium heat, add the onion and saute for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the ginger, turmeric and black pepper and stir through before adding the carrots.

Continue to stir the carrots for another couple of minutes, then add the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the carrots can be easily pierced with a sharp knife.

Transfer the soup to a blender and process until smooth; taste and adjust the seasoning.

Mix the chopped cashew nuts with the mild chili powder and dry roast in a skillet for a few minutes over low heat.

Ladle the soup into bowls, scatter with the spiced cashews and serve.

]]> 0, 03 Oct 2017 16:40:20 +0000
More Maine restaurants are sharing their kitchen spaces with bakeries, food trucks Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 FALMOUTH — Missy Dwinal is coming to the end of her 4 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. shift at Bernie’s Foreside, a popular breakfast-and-lunch spot on Route 1. Still toasting bread, she passes one of the last sandwiches of the day to Judy Dyer, who takes it out to the dining room.

Over the next half-hour, the number of lingering lunch customers will dwindle to one lone man finishing up his fries. Dwinal, Dyer and Sal Parra, the line cook, will store food and equipment away, sweep the floors, and do all the other chores that need to be done before a restaurant closes for the day.

But the kitchen at Bernie’s will not close. Chef Jay Harris and his crew will swoop in with their own supplies and start prepping for dinner, when the restaurant space is transformed from a soup, salad and sandwich spot into Esidore’s, a bistro with an unusual mix of Asian and Mexican food.

Jay Harris, chef of Esidore’s Bistro, left, carries prepped food to the line while Sal Parra, cook for Bernie’s Foreside, cleans the griddle at the end of his shift. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

The idea of restaurants sharing their kitchens has been coming to life all over the country in the past three to five years, and the trend has recently reached Maine. Portlanders may immediately think of the former Good Egg Cafe and Pepperclub, restaurants that were housed in the same Old Port space. But today’s arrangements are different. The Good Egg and Pepperclub were owned by one person, while these new arrangements are marriages of two or more businesses and take shape in myriad ways.

Derek DeGeer, a midcoast baker who rents space at the Damariscotta River Grill, considers the unused hours in Maine’s restaurant kitchens “an untapped gold mine” for the state’s food economy. “There’s so much potential for developing a business in these kinds of spaces,” he said. “It’s so much less pressure and less overhead than opening and operating a brick-and-mortar store.”

Patrick Bottiglieri, professor of business management at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., knows of no statistics illustrating how widespread the practice is. But he said such arrangements come with both financial benefits and downsides. Scheduling conflicts, sanitation issues, equipment space, and lack of storage can all be problematic, especially for bakeries.

“Bakeries need larger storage areas, especially for their dry goods because of the sheer size and quantities of what they buy,” Bottiglieri said. “Those types of things need to be worked out in advance.”

Still, he said, “it could be a win-win situation.”


In Maine, shared kitchen arrangements often arise out of friendship.

Sushi cart chef Jordan Rubin wanted to open his own restaurant, but “financially it was hard.” So he worked out an arrangement with Aaron Mallory, the chef at 33 Elmwood in Westbrook. The two men are former kitchen co-workers and friends.

“If there is any way I can help a friend succeed in this business, in this town, and all I have to do (is share a kitchen), I’m all about it,” Mallory said.

During busy weeks for his sushi cart, Rubin uses the 33 Elmwood kitchen four days, arriving at 6:30 a.m. and leaving by 9 a.m., shortly before Mallory’s prep crew comes in.

Mallory charges Rubin $25 per visit, which makes just a small dent in his overhead, but he doesn’t mind since he’s helping out a friend.

Austin Miller, co-owner of Mami, remembers the hardest thing about starting a food truck in Portland was finding affordable commissary space; some places charged as much as $800 a month, he said. So as soon as he and his fiancé opened their own brick-and-mortar restaurant, they made a prep area available for $150 per month to a friend who owns the Snappy’s Tube Steaks food cart, and to the owner of Strictly Cold Brew; the extra income helps pay Mami’s utilities and other costs.

Portland restaurateur Jason Loring is not helping to launch a new food business, but a shared kitchen is useful for other reasons. His plan to sell pizzas from Slab, his Preble Street restaurant, at the East End Cupcake’s Fore Street storefront, is a bid to capture more Old Port tourist dollars as well as late-night barhoppers with the munchies. He’ll share profits with Alysia Zoidis, owner of East End Cupcakes, who says her friendship with Loring is her main motivation.

One of the longest-running shared kitchen arrangements in Maine also grew out of a friend helping a friend. When Derek DeGeer attended his first Kneading Conference in Skowhegan about seven years ago, it inspired him to start baking. Soon people were suggesting he sell his loaves. One of his best friends, Rick Hirsch, the chef/owner of the Damariscotta River Grill, offered to let him use his kitchen and convection oven during off hours for $50 a month.

So DeGeer went to the restaurant at 10 p.m. to mix and shape doughs until about midnight. He’d come back at 4 a.m., after the dough had time to rise, and bake until 8 a.m., leaving before the staff arrived to begin prepping for lunch.

Judy Dyer, head server at Bernie’s Foreside, counts money after the breakfast-and-lunch spot closes for the day. Meanwhile, Jay Harris, right, chef of Esidore’s Bistro, prepares to transition the kitchen from one business to the other. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

“People loved it, and I just couldn’t bake enough bread,” DeGeer said. He moved to a café and bakery where the ovens were free from 2 p.m. until 2 a.m. and remained there for three years. Eventually, Damariscotta River Grill built a prep kitchen for catering jobs and DeGeer moved back in, customizing some of that space for himself and renting it for $500 a month.

The owners of Damariscotta River Grill are good customers – they serve DeGeer’s ciabatta and rye, and the two businesses do a shared pizza night every Friday – and good mentors, DeGeer said. Hirsch helped him research pricing, and has modeled how to manage stock and purchase ingredients efficiently.

“I didn’t have a big business loan that I had to be servicing,” DeGeer said. “A lot of times that will dictate what you have to produce. I can’t imagine how much bread I’d need to make to service a $30,000 oven.”

But DeGeer’s baking business has grown so big – he’s added pretzels, croissants and more to his line – that he is again outgrowing the Damariscotta River Grill.

Hirsch has also been feeling the squeeze. “(DeGeer’s) crew is coming in a little earlier than ever before and staying a little later,” he said. “We’re encroaching a little more on each other’s space.”

This spring, DeGeer plans to move production to his renovated garage, where he estimates he’ll be able to double his output.

“It’s not all roses,” DeGeer said. “Sharing with another business is hard. It’s really a partnership and takes a lot of cooperation and compromise.”

That’s why setting boundaries in the beginning is important. Many entrepreneurs interviewed for this story mentioned that they view themselves as guests in someone else’s home, so they always clean up after themselves and leave things the way they found them.

DeGeer’s experience also illustrates that these situations are almost always temporary. Falafel Underground, which has shared space three nights a week with Union Bagel on Cumberland Avenue in Portland since March 2016, hopes to have a new location locked down by the end of the year. Co-owner Scott Ryan says they have outgrown the bagel shop and want to create a more expansive Middle Eastern menu.

Kerry Hanney’s Night Moves Bread + Pie is preparing to move on with the help of a GoFundMe campaign that Hanney hopes will pay for a bread oven and a stone mill. Hanney has been based at Maple’s in Yarmouth, a coffee shop/bakery/gelateria, for the past year and a half. She needed equipment and space for her fledgling bakery, and Maples’ owner Robin Ray was looking for someone who could supply Maples with bread and pie.

“We would take a small percentage of her sales,” Ray said, recalling the negotiations, “and she would have a safe environment to test out and learn retail.”

They worked out an arrangement whereby Hanney arrives at Maples after it closes at 2:30 p.m. and bakes all night, leaving when the Maples staff returns at 4 a.m.

Using Maple’s equipment helped Hanney increase production in a major way. Instead of baking two loaves at a time in her home commercial kitchen, she can produce 14 loaves at Maples. When she started at Maples, she had just two accounts. Now she has 12, and a list of customers she lacks the space and time to supply.


The arrangement at Bernie’s/Esidore’s Bistro @ Night is still new, and it’s taking time for Harris to build up his clientele. Two months in, he’s just starting to see some crossover with daytime diners.

Shortly past 2 p.m., Bernie’s Foreside transforms into Esidore’s Bistro. Adam Shapiro, the businessman who owns Bernie’s, and chef Jay Harris of Esidore’s are cousins. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Kathie and Kevin Hooper of Falmouth and their daughter Casey Hooper, who lives in Cumberland, met at Bernie’s for lunch last week. “I think it was very smart to use the space like that,” Casey Hooper said about the shared arrangement. “That’s another nighttime restaurant in Falmouth, which is nice.” The Hoopers had recently tried Esidore’s, and Kathie Hooper said they had “a great experience.”

While Bernie’s offers eggs, pancakes, club sandwiches and patty melts, at night Harris changes it up entirely. The dinner menu is an eclectic mix of tacos, Asian-style noodle bowls and chicken tikka masala. The transition from daytime to dinner service begins around 2:30, just after Bernie’s closes for the day. On a recent afternoon, Chef Jay Harris opened the door to the walk-in cooler, where a few shelves held containers of his marinated pork, roasted peppers, pickled onions, purple asparagus and yogurt-marinated chicken.

“My restaurant is all condensed,” he said. “I’ve got a third of the walk-in.”

In a back office, he stores two rolling carts filled with plates, bowls, silverware, coffee cups, teapots, bamboo chopsticks, and lots of small ketchup bottles. A third cart holds all the glassware, including sake bottles. (Bernie’s uses plastic glasses.)

Front-of-house employee Christy Stenger arrived with boxes full of artsy-craftsy materials to make centerpieces for the tables. “We have our placemats,” she said, “but something to make it pop would make it really cool.”

This is Harris’ third restaurant. He and Adam Shapiro, the businessman who owns Bernie’s, are cousins. Shapiro had long dreamed of finding someone to run a nighttime restaurant in his Bernie’s space. Then Harris called to tell say he was moving back to Maine.

Shapiro owns part of Esidore’s for licensing and insurance reasons. Harris says he pays his cousin $2,500 a month in rent, about half of what he would pay in Portland.

The walls, once an unfortunate shade of blue with white trim, have been painted a light gray. The kitchen has been updated, and Shapiro added new flooring and a lot of booths “to make it less dinerish, more dinnerish.”

For now, Bernie’s and Esidore’s co-exist, sharing things like plastic wrap. Harris buys fryer oil for both restaurants. There are two fryers on site, and one restaurant changes the oil in one fryer, the other takes care of the second fryer. The two businesses sometimes alternate buying sugar and salt.

The biggest challenge is storage, Harris said: There is never enough.

Shapiro says his cousin’s food is “great,” but he worries the menu is not broad enough to attract enough customers.

Harris has his worries, too. “I don’t want to get in the way of what they’re doing in the morning,” he said. “That’s a busy, successful restaurant. And he’s family.”

But so far, both men seem to be happy with their arrangement.

“It’s not always easy,” Harris said, “but up until now it’s been pretty seamless.”

]]> 0 Harris, chef of Esidore's Bistro, left, carries prepped food to the line while Sal Parra, cook for Bernie's Foreside, cleans the griddle at the end of his shift.Wed, 04 Oct 2017 17:03:41 +0000
Bite: Good pho is hard to find Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Good pho is hard to come by in this country. In Hanoi, I’ve sat on tiny plastic stools on narrow, wandering side streets full of color and smoke. There, in the sweltering heat, I’ve slurped up salty noodles with heaping handfuls of the freshest basil, mung bean sprouts, sliced chicken or pork, sometimes squid and little red chilies.

It was impossible (at least for me) to ever find the pho shop where I’d last eaten, as Hanoi’s chaotic landscape is forever changing, and even the buildings and street signs seemed to transform before my eyes. I found myself turned around again and again. That is to say my terrible sense of direction enabled me to sample many different varieties of sublime pho. It is a practice one could build a life upon.

In Hanoi, the soup is deep and rich despite the broth’s delicate consistency, and the noodles are cooked perfectly – just soft enough to absorb every individual flavor you put into your bowl. I’d never before eaten anything whose various tastes could be so specifically pointed out – (the bright bite of a scallion, the tender meat, the pleasant sting of chili, the scent of basil) – and yet also had come together so fluidly. After I returned home, I fretted that I’d never experience that particular unity of taste again, and certainly not in Portland.

But a few years later, quite recently in fact, a Vietnamese friend suggested I try Veranda Noodle Bar. “Their Vietnamese basil is so fresh!” she said enthusiastically. I paused, remembering Hanoi, longing for the basil I’d eaten there.

I wandered into Veranda last week. It was an off hour, and only a few tables were full. I ordered the Pho Ga, (pho with chicken, $10.95), and soon enough a steaming bowl of noodles arrived, with its usual plate of basil, sprouts, lime and green chili peppers. The broth was rich, salty, warming goodness, nothing like the watery, flavorless soups I’d eaten elsewhere in the States. I added all the basil, and asked for more.

The waitress noticed I hadn’t put Sriracha in my soup. It’s not spicy enough for me, I explained. She put her hand up as if to say, “Stop eating. Wait for it,” then disappeared, returning seconds later with a small dish of deep red, thick paste in a tiny pool of oil. “Ot sa te,” she said proudly.

I added it all. Not only was it spicy, but it was deep and full of flavor, with the kind of darkness and heat that I adore. It brought out the meatiness of the broth, the freshness of the vegetables, the savor of the perfectly thin rice noodles.

This is what I think of when I remember Hanoi. This is what I reach for as the weather cools. This is the stuff that can both soothe the soul and cure a cold. This is a complicated, beautiful dish based on pure simplicity. This could even be love. And this is what we talk about when we talk about pho.

Anna Stoessinger is a writer who works in advertising. She lives in Maine with her husband, Keith, their son, Henry and her dog, Bess. Anna can be reached at or on Instagram @astoessinger.

]]> 0, 03 Oct 2017 18:38:25 +0000
Apple Culture: True beauty of Maine’s wild apples is in their ‘crazy flavors’ Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 If you’ve spent any time driving our state’s country (or even urban) roads, you’ve doubtless noticed all of the colorful fruit that adorns the wild apple trees of Maine. They are everywhere: on the roadside, at the edge of old fields as they meet forests or streams, even overhanging sidewalks in the heart of Portland.

“You don’t even have to go to a rural part of Maine to find wild apples,” said Abbey Verrier, co-founder of Rocky Ground Cider in Newburgh and an avid wild apple forager. “Just start on your road and go check out the trees because there are a ton of interesting varieties that are free for the picking.”

The shame of it is, this fruit often goes to waste because people pass by without realizing the bounty right in front of them. They dismiss the fruit as ugly, inedible or even dangerous.

So much of our food comes to us pre-washed and selected for its cosmetic quality that it’s easy to forget that for thousands of years people ate whatever tasty things they could find, regardless of how they looked. Today, the imperfections that develop naturally on apples – like fly speck or apple scab – are sorted out well before the fruit gets to market, perpetuating the common falsehood that imperfect food is bad food.

Small wonder that when I have offered wild apples to friends, they’ve occasionally recoiled and asked, “How do you know these aren’t dangerous?”

Verrier has had similar experiences: “I’ve had people tell me on their perfectly manicured property with everything looking really clean that they wouldn’t dare bite into the apples on their trees as I am eating one right in front of them,” she said.

But if you can put aside the idea that an apple needs to look perfect, round and red, then a wide world of flavors and textures awaits – often for free – throughout the apple season. Meaning right now.

First, some terminology: Colloquially, apple experts use the terms “wild” and “seedling” interchangeably to refer to apples from an ungrafted trees that grow outside of an orchard. These apples all belong to the species malus domestica, which is the type of eating apple that originated in Kazakhstan, spread to the Middle East and Europe more than 4,000 years ago, and arrived in the United States with colonists and missionaries.

Around the world, some 30 to 50 wild apple species have never been cultivated because of their extremely unpleasant flavors and minuscule fruit, but these are so rare that foragers have co-opted the term “wild” for seedling trees that are technically malus domestica.

“Ninety-nine percent of trees that exist in the state may be seedlings, and they have no name,” said College of Atlantic history professor and apple buff Todd Little-Siebold.

In other words, the taste we associate with an apple is merely a very narrow band of what you can taste in the wild.

“You get a lot of crazy flavors out there, like pineapple flavors,” said Angus Deighan, Verrier’s partner and fellow forager. “One time we found this apple we called the Cheddar Apple of Hermon” because it tasted like an apple combined with the cheese in a Ritz Cracker sandwich.”

Even familiar flavors taste more extreme in wild apples, which are, it goes without saying, less coddled than their orchard-grown brethren, so the flavors concentrate. The apples may look less than stellar, but their true beauty lies in their strange, intense flavors.

Apple seeds are special packages of unique genetic material; the seed of one apple variety grows into a tree that bears fruit that has never before existed. Maine apple expert John Bunker compares the relationship between the fruit and its seed to that of a parent and child: Though we share many characteristics with our parents, each of us is unique.

The seed from a malus domestica will produce a malus domestica apple – we are all familiar with these from the grafted tree, the orchard or the supermarket – but that is where the similarities end. A seed from the massive Wolf River apple may produce an apple the size of a crab apple while the seed of a dessert apple (the term experts use for an apple you eat fresh, no cooking or waiting required) may produce a tree whose fruit requires months of storage before it tastes its best. The possibilities are almost endless.

The search for wild apples can be driven by love, necessity or both.

“I am excited for their potential for (hard) cider in particular, but other people should be excited about them for all of their potentials and because they are free apples,” said Laura Sieger of the Maine Heritage Orchard.

Likewise, Verrier and Deighan look to wild apples to make hard cider. Until the recent revival of the industry in the United States, cider culture here was “nonexistent,” Verrier said. In turn, orchards didn’t bother to grow the trees that produce the type of fruits that make delicious hard cider.

It’s easy to forget that excepting apples bred by universities, most cultivated apples originated as wild apples. They would never have achieved popularity if a forager, farmer or gardener hadn’t tasted them and asked herself, “Are they good?” Exploring wild fruit lets us follow in their footsteps and perhaps, if we’re very lucky, discover the next great dessert or cooking apple ourselves.

But without foraging, we are destined to eat ever less interesting apples. That’s because the university scientists who develop new apple varieties for the supermarket never go far afield when they are making new hybrids.

“Searching for new trees is necessary because the only varieties that are being bred right now are from experimental stations that reuse the same genetic materials, resulting in a smaller and smaller set of flavors,” Sieger explained.

But setting aside the bigger questions of breeding and supermarket varieties, wild apple foraging offers ordinary Mainers the rare opportunity to escape into a delicious world of the unknown without any investment but time.

“It’s like going to a casino where you never lose money,” Deighan said. “Some of (the apples) are not that good, but then there are some that are jackpots.”


HERE ARE A FEW THINGS you need to know before you forage for wild apples:

MANY TREES are accessible from the road, but others are clearly on private property. Always ask for permission. To date, no one has ever denied me permission to pick from their trees.

WHILE SUPPLIES aren’t a prerequisite, some come in handy. A picker to get the apples off of the tree is useful as are baskets or cardboard boxes for storage. I like to carry brown paper bags so I can label the apples, as well as a map of Maine roads so I can mark the tree’s location and find it again the following fall.

HOW DO YOU KNOW if a wild apple is ripe? Cut into the fruit and expose the seeds. If they are dark brown, then the apple is ripe and it will be at its tastiest. This rule applies to non-wild apples, too.

Sean Turley is a lifelong fruit enthusiast and an amateur apple picker and sleuth. Every fall, Turley dedicates himself to locating and devouring as many of Maine’s heritage and wild apple varietals as possible. Sean posts his finds on Instagram @therighteousrusset and can be contacted at

]]> 0 haul from a weekend spent foraging.Tue, 03 Oct 2017 17:48:44 +0000
Chopped salad might sound mundane, but let me convince you otherwise Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Since the first of May, I’ve eaten at least 100 salads, probably more. How do I choose a good salad? Sometimes it’s simple mixed greens and herbs, a pristine bowl of butter lettuce, greens with add-ins, all tossed with good olive oil, lemon juice; other times it’s all fruit, or all veg, and potato, egg and tuna salads; or composed salads such as Nicoise, Italian, Greek; and single subjects such as asparagus, carrot, green bean, tomatoes and other salad plates. Dressed, topped and drizzled. If there is a salad fork in the road, I’ll take it.

One type of salad, however, is too often overlooked, forgotten and ignored. It’s the decidedly mundane, banal and clear-out-the-vegetable bin chopped salad. That’s what I thought before I tried the Chopped Salad at Atria’s, a popular Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, watering hole. It has a whopping dozen veggies, all precision chopped, tossed with garlic vinaigrette and topped with avocado and blue cheese. The game-changer chopped salad, for $4.99, is big enough to share.

Atria’s salad includes romaine and iceberg lettuces, but not too much, and cubed carrots, celery, red onion, cucumber, corn kernels, tomato, scallions, pimento, avocado and something else that I forgot.

After flying into Pittsburgh International Airport, my husband and I often make a pit stop at Ditka’s in Robinson for lunch or supper. It serves a killer chopped salad, too, with all the usual suspects plus red and green sweet peppers, chickpeas and pickled pepperoncini for snap. Blue cheese and tortilla chip strips top Dikta’s hearty salad ($7).

Maybe the drama queen of chopped salads is the Cobb Salad where the chopped ingredients are arranged in bars or stripes over a bed of greens. Rows of hard cooked egg, bacon crumbles, roasted chicken shreds, avocado, tomatoes and the ever-present blue cheese and vinaigrette dressing are the other ingredients. The diner does the tossing, but still, it’s a chopped salad.

To make a chopped salad at home, think very fresh vegetables, refreshing and cold, cut into uniform shapes and above all, crunchy. I like to add cubes of apple and a handful of nuts, too. Toss lightly with a highly seasoned dressing and top with cheese crumbles, real bacon bits and small crunchy croutons.

So good.


A salad of colorful stripes is a real eye catcher. Cobb salads are served with the ingredients lined up in neat rows, and then the diner tosses it all together, or not, as he or she chooses. Got vegetarians? Lose the bacon and chicken, but add more veggies. Almost any dressing will do – creamy pesto, Ranch or a simple vinaigrette.

Makes about 1 cup

6 cups slivered romaine lettuce (or a combo of romaine and iceberg)

8 slices crisp bacon, cooked and roughly crumbled

3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into large dice

2 medium-size tomatoes, seeded and cut into large dice

11/2 cups cubed cooked chicken

1 avocado, peeled and cubed

1/2 cup diced red onion

Optional rows: chickpeas, English peas, diced sweet peppers, cook’s choice

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Creamy Pesto Dressing

Scatter the lettuce over a large serving platter. Over the greens, make neat rows of crumbled bacon, eggs, tomatoes, chicken, avocado, onion and blue cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle Creamy Pesto Dressing over the salad, or serve it on the side.


1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably Hellman’s

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 cup fresh basil leaves (or half basil, half mint)

2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic, finely minced

Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Blend or whisk together mayonnaise, buttermilk, basil, cheese, garlic, and salt and pepper until everything is well combined. Transfer to a plastic container. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. It will last for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

]]> 0, 03 Oct 2017 20:00:26 +0000
Don’t be intimidated by tarte tatin Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Taxi cab confession: Before now, I had never made a tarte tatin. It sounded just plain scary – flipping a pan over so that the fruit ends up on top and the crust ends up on the bottom. Such drama! Why would anyone put themselves through such angst?

But there I was just minding my own business, and suddenly it was pear season, and the voluptuous, colorful, squatty fruits were everywhere. I bought some puff pastry, gave myself a big old pep talk, and turned up the music. An hour later, my first pear tatin was a success. A few pears stuck to the pan when I inverted it, but I pulled them off and settled them back into place on the tarte, and no one was the wiser.

And while I will have to accomplish a few more successful tarte tatins to feel as though it is no longer intimidating, I am now on my way. I can envision that day when I will be able to say with casual confidence: “Oh, can I bring a dessert? How about a tarte tatin?”

You want your pears to be just ripe, but not soft. They need to hold their shape in the baking. Buy yourself some good ice cream for this – you and your tarte tatin deserve it.

In closing, I take a moment yet again to profess my abiding love for premade puff pastry. I may be excited to add tarte tatins to my repertoire, but I’m pretty far away from wanting to make my own puff pastry.


Serves 6 to 8

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

4 just-ripe but firm Anjou or Barlett pears

All-purpose flour for rolling out the pastry

1 sheet (1/2 of a 17.3 ounce package) puff pastry, either refrigerated and cool, or, if frozen, thawed according to package directions but still slightly chilled

Vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a 10-inch, heavy ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, stir together the sugar with 2 tablespoons of water. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until the mixture starts to turn a golden color, about 6 minutes. Stir in the butter, and continue stirring occasionally until the mixture is a rich golden color, but not too dark. Stir in the lemon juice.

While the sugar mixture is cooking, slice the pears in half, then into quarters, remove the cores with a paring knife, and cut the halves lengthwise into two thick slices each (so, eight slices total per pear). When the sugar mixture is golden, arrange the pear slices in concentric circles in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the pears are slightly tender, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly flour a clean work surface. Roll out the puff pastry to a square slightly larger than the pan’s diameter. Trim the pastry into a circle just barely larger than the circumference of the pan, and prick the puff pastry in several places with a fork. Place the pastry over the pears and carefully tuck the edges around the tops of the pears (you may want to use a rubber spatula, as the pan will be hot). Bake for about 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and puffed.

Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the skillet, place a serving plate (larger than the pan) on top of it, and carefully invert the tarte tatin onto the plate. If any pears cling to the pan, remove them and place them back in their rightful spots. Let cool a bit more, and then serve warm, with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

]]> 0 Aug. 16, 2017 photo shows a pear tarte tatin in New York. This dish is from a recipe by Katie Workman. (Sara E Crowder/Katie Workman via AP)Tue, 03 Oct 2017 18:25:33 +0000
Leeks are the star in this quick, simple chicken dinner Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Barely a month into the school year, and suddenly, we’re swamped.

You too?

Six o’clock sneaks up on my family, and we have a million balls in the air – soccer practice, dance class, pre-algebra homework, jobs – and none of them is magically making dinner.

Still, my family needs to eat. So, I have a slew of super simple under-30-minute dinners that I can pull together in less time than it takes to get a pizza delivered. The trick is to keep the number of ingredients to a minimum, and select a fast-cooking protein, like boneless skinless chicken breast.

Quick Skillet Chicken with Leeks earns high marks on both fronts, making it an excellent addition to your weeknight dinner rotation. Just a few carefully selected ingredients work together to get a ton of flavor without a lot of fuss. Leeks are the star. If you aren’t familiar with them, leeks may feel a little exotic. Used frequently in French cooking, they look like an oversized scallion, and taste like a mellow, slightly grassy onion (but better – I hesitated to use the word grassy, but then opted for accuracy over enticement).

Once you discover leeks and realize how hardy they are – they’ll last at least a week in your fridge – you’ll buy them and find ways to work them into your recipes. Almost any place you use onions, you could swap in leeks for a flavor tweak. Find them in the produce aisle, or with frozen vegetables. And, you can even freeze your own fresh leek slices if you want to stock up for a future recipe.

Today’s recipe couldn’t be easier: pan-sear chicken, and spoon over sliced leeks mixed with a little melted butter, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce and chicken stock, and then finish the whole thing in the oven for 15 minutes. By the time you set out the plates, dinner will be on the table.


Servings: 6

6 small chicken breast cutlets, about 2 pounds

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced leek (fresh, or frozen), white and light green only, about 1 leek

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon powdered dry mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F, salt and pepper the chicken. Brown the chicken in olive oil in oven safe skillet over medium high heat just until the first side is golden, about 3 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix together the sliced leeks, melted butter, chicken stock, dry mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Flip the chicken over in the skillet. Spoon the leek mixture on top of the chicken and place the whole pan in the oven to finish cooking, about 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through the leeks are tender. (If leeks appear to get too dry, place a sheet of aluminum foil light on top of the pan.) Serve the chicken with some sauce spooned on top.

]]> 0, 03 Oct 2017 17:11:59 +0000
Make fig brandy for gifts, and get brandied figs as a bonus Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Soon, there will be an uptick in get-togethers, weekend company and visits with those who are far away, and while I don’t want to see decorated evergreens until after Thanksgiving, I am willing to do a little work now for a head start on the holidays.

So I am sharing with you my four-ingredient plan: Make fig brandy. It is a pretty and tasty gift that also creates brandied figs – a company-worthy accompaniment for cheese or ice cream.

Most fruit-based infusions, such as Cherry Bounce, slivovitz and limoncello, need sugar or honey to effectively bring out the fruit’s flavor. Figs are sweet enough on their own to stand up to a boozy bath. Brown Turkey, Black Mission and other fig varietals are suitable for the accompanying recipe. Look for firm, fresh fruit with no signs of bruising or mold.

The brandy does not have to be expensive. Figs are heady and strong-flavored, and will mellow even the roughest plonk. Nor is a special jar required – any glass food storage container with a tight-fitting lid will work.


12 servings

9 to 12 plump, ripe fresh figs (stems trimmed)

1 lemon, seeded and thinly sliced, preferably organic

3 fresh thyme sprigs

11/2 to 2 cups brandy

Pierce each of the figs four or five times with a sharp knife. Place the figs in the jar, alternately layering in the lemon slices and thyme. Pack firmly and fill the jar, being careful not to split open any of the figs; sliced or broken fruit will make the brandy murky.

Pour the brandy over the figs to fill the jar. Seal and place the jar in a dark cupboard and make a note on the calendar: Fig Brandy Ready in 30 days.

Pour the brandy through a fine-mesh strainer into a jar or gift bottle. The brandy will keep for 1 year. Serve chilled in small glasses.

Discard the lemon slices and thyme. Store the brandied figs in a covered container in the refrigerator. The figs will keep for a month.

]]> 0, 03 Oct 2017 18:10:19 +0000
Maine’s first Krispy Kreme opens, and it’s likely not the last Tue, 03 Oct 2017 10:30:02 +0000 SACO — Sonia and Moe Damon of Saco rolled out of bed long before dawn Tuesday, wrapped themselves in jackets and blankets and headed outside to wait for the doughnuts.

The mother and son joined dozens of other fans of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts for the opening of the first location in Maine. The arrival of the iconic doughnut shop in Maine was welcome news to the Damons, who eagerly watched the construction of the store and planned to be there when the “hot light” sign was lit for the first time. The family first discovered the doughnuts during a vacation in Erie, Pennsylvania.

“We made a pact in the family we’d never drive by a Krispy Kreme and if they asked us if we wanted a second dozen we’d never say no,” Sonia Damon said. “We ate 12 dozen doughnuts that week. We’re Krispy Kreme die-hards.”

The store officially opened at 6 a.m. as the first doughnuts of the day moved out of the fryer to be coated with warm glaze. Festivities began Monday, with the first fans showing up to stake out their spot in line at 3 a.m. – more than 24 hours before the first doughnuts were sold.

The first person in line got a dozen doughnuts a week for a year, while the next 99 get a free dozen each month.

The free doughnuts were an exciting prospect for Erin Lally and her boyfriend, Brendan Farrell. The Biddeford couple and their 4-month-old son, Waylon, arrived at 1:30 a.m. and were numbers 50 and 51 in line. Farrell and Lally became fond of Krispy Kreme doughnuts when there was a location in Medford, Massachusetts, and missed them when it closed.

“We haven’t had Krispy Kreme in a long time,” Lally said.

Cort Mendez, president and CEO of NH Glazed, said the Saco store is one of about a half-dozen in the country with Krispy Kreme’s new design, which looks more like a cafe then the traditional doughnut shop. But like all Krispy Kreme locations, a viewing window allows guests to watch the doughnuts being made.

Mendez will have another location in Auburn that is expected to open in November, and is considering opening more Krispy Kreme shops in Windham, Bangor and in two New Hampshire towns.

A former Five Guys franchisee, Mendez said he was drawn to Krispy Kreme in part because of the smiles the doughnuts bring to people’s faces and his own memories of eating at Krispy Kreme while growing up in Baltimore.

City officials welcomed the new store, not just because it adds to the city’s diverse food offerings, but because of the jobs and investment in the community that came with it, said William Mann, Saco’s economic development director. The store has 35 full-time employees, 35 part-time employees and offers medical and dental insurance and tuition reimbursement, he said.

At 5:30 a.m., the line of waiting customers stretched along the side of the building. Inside, the first glazed doughnuts of the day came off the line and were boxed by some of the employees. The machine produces 270 dozen doughnuts an hour.

The “hot light,” which indicates fresh doughnuts are ready, lit up minutes before the doors opened at 6 a.m.

Alice Gagne and her daughter Amanda Culbertson, both of Saco, were the first in line and each snagged a dozen glazed doughnuts.

“We just wanted to be part of the experience,” said Gagne, who plans to share her dozen free doughnuts each week with friends and co-workers.

Near the back of the line, 2-year-old Giovanni Palmariello waited with his mom, Kassie, of Kennebunkport. Giovanni wore a costume that looked like a dozen doughnuts, while his mom sported a doughnut headband. Giovanni said he was excited to get a chocolate doughnut.

“This is the best thing to hit Maine since lobster rolls,” Kassie Palmariello said.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

Twitter: grahamgillian

]]> 0 Foss fills boxes of doughnuts early Tuesday morning just before Krispy Kreme opened its doors for the first time in Saco7. (Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer)Wed, 04 Oct 2017 13:26:43 +0000
Dine Out Maine: Cheevitdee aims to burnish health food’s image, with mixed results Sun, 01 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “Health food” may well be the least appetizing phrase in the English language. It calls to mind thoughts of virtuous yet joyless dishes. Murky green juices that smell like lawn clippings and taste of pond water, or steadfastly unmeltable vegan cheese with the flavor and consistency of Silly Putty. To this day, I have nightmares about being tricked into eating a carob-coated candy bar one Halloween. So chalky!

Cheevitdee, which opened in April in an expensively renovated space in Portland’s Old Port, is determined to rehabilitate health food’s poor image, using tricks from the arsenal of Thai cuisine.

Chef/co-owner Jay Pranadsri, who until recently was a chef at Portland’s Mi Sen, Cheevitdee’s well-established sister restaurant, takes this mission seriously, embracing organic ingredients and eschewing deep-fried and otherwise oily foods completely. That means no greasy crowd pleasers like crab rangoons (which, to be fair, aren’t actually Thai) or even pad thai.

Even the phrase “Chee Vit Dee” translates as “good life” in Thai. Front-of-house staffer Nick Thonglamun explains, “We try to make food that also makes you healthy and gives you a good life.”

It all starts with riceberry, a crossbreed of jasmine and non-glutinous purple rice that is so important to Cheevitdee, it is rendered in silhouette on the restaurant’s logo. When cooked, riceberry is a deep maroon, with a soft texture and largely neutral flavor. And although full of dietary fiber, riceberry is free from the rubberiness and husk-like, papery mouthfeel that sometimes make regular brown rice intolerable.

“Riceberry has lots of nutrition,” Thonglamun told me. “It’s a superfood.” Bolstering his claim are a couple of dodgy scientific studies from Thailand that gesture imprecisely at the hybrid cereal grain’s salutary properties. While the jury may still be out on riceberry’s health benefits, there’s little doubt that it is not universally successful as a replacement for traditional white jasmine rice.

When it works, the substitution seems like a brilliant idea, as in Cheevitdee’s ping ngob ($22), banana-leaf wrapped spicy salmon from the Hua Hin district in coastal Thailand – the restaurant’s signature plate. To prepare it, Pranadsri layers red curry-marinated salmon with napa cabbage, basil leaves, kaffir lime leaves and par-cooked riceberry, then enfolds the mixture in a tight, flat parcel before grilling. It is a delightful dish with a perfectly calibrated balance of spicy heat and tang.

In the khao mun gai ($16), on the other hand, riceberry makes a disappointing stand-in for its paler cousin. Next to a simple, unadorned steamed chicken thigh sit a mound of ginger-garlic riceberry, slices of cucumber and a small bowl of thin sauce. All fine and good, as the dish’s simplicity is intentional; khao mun gai derives part of its charm from camouflaged jolts of flavor, startling the diner with the richness of its chicken-fat infused rice, the megawatt heat of its sauce and the cucumber’s ability to cool off your tongue while knitting all the flavors together.

Not here. Cheevitdee’s sauce is arch and acidic, with no spice whatsoever. The steamed riceberry substitute: downright austere. This khao mun gai is strictly what-you-see-is-what-you-get, and it looks dull, including the flavorless, unnecessary winter melon soup served alongside. It’s the sort of dish you might expect to be served when recovering from surgery, not out to eat on Fore Street.

So too, the po pia sod ($7), rice paper-wrapped fresh spring rolls filled with tofu and fine matchsticks of carrot, beet, cabbage and cucumber. Even doused in garlic-lime dipping sauce, they taste of little other than the earthy minerality of raw root vegetables.

Pla goong (spicy shrimp bites) soars with flavors of lime juice, chili, kaffir lime leaf and cilantro. Staff photos by Ben McCanna

Or the tom jub chai ($15), a turbid, lavender-hued vegetable stew bulked up with chubby glass vermicelli and seasoned with nothing other than a little salt and black pepper. According to Thonglamun, “all the flavor comes from the vegetables.” Sadly, there’s precious little of it, apart from a hint of sweetness from the carrot and a sulfuric undercurrent from the cabbage and Chinese broccoli.

Even the som tum ($10) – normally a tart, crunchy and umami-rich salad of shaved unripe papaya, green beans, tomatoes and peanuts, all roughed up with a mortar and pestle to create tiny tears in the vegetables that trap palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice – tastes dreary and underseasoned, like something out of a wartime rationing cookbook.

A few dishes do possess clearer flavor profiles. One, the ba me pu ($19), moroheiya-flavored noodles topped with bok choi, sweet black soy sauce and fresh-picked Maine crabmeat, is an inventive experiment that deserves further exploration (and a squeeze of lime). The green algal flavors of the moroheiya – another purported superfood and the same plant used to make jute fiber – match well with musky, sweet crabmeat. That is, as long as the crab is not dried out, as it was when I visited recently.

There’s also something intriguing, if incomplete, about Pranadsri’s take on the classic spicy-sour soup, tom yum nam sai ($7). For her rendition, she adds generous chunks of North Spore oyster mushrooms to a clear chicken-broth base infused with racy Thai basil. As it is now, the balance tips too far toward volatile, herbal aromatics, away from the heat and acid that make tom yum an enduring classic. Cheevitdee’s is still a tweak or two away from greatness.

By contrast, the lemongrass-scented sauce for the pla goong ($9), spicy shrimp bites, gets the harmony exactly right, exploiting the extremes of lime juice, chili, kaffir lime leaf and cilantro to spotlight the sweetness of a single steamed shrimp served in a curvy spoon. Incontrovertibly healthful, yet sparkling with lively flavors, this simple appetizer embodies everything Cheevitdee sets out to do.

Here and there, it all comes together – sometimes beautifully. But for now at least, I’ll keep believing in my own version of the “good life,” one that allows for an occasional taste of wheat noodles, jasmine rice and chicken fat.

Andrew Ross has written about food in the United Kingdom and in New York, where he co-founded NYCnosh, a food website. He and his work have been featured on Martha Stewart Living Radio and in The New York Times. He is an Internet researcher and higher education consultant. Contact him at:

Twitter: @AndrewRossME

]]> 0 goong (spicy shrimp bites) soars with flavors of lime juice, chili, kaffir lime leaf and cilantro.Sat, 30 Sep 2017 21:14:14 +0000
Here’s hoping quince can make a comeback in Maine Sun, 01 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Nurserywoman Carol Armatis and I had very different reactions to our first encounters with quince, the yellow, apple-y, pear-shaped fruit that, according to the 2018 Fedco Trees annual catalog for spring plantings, used to grow on trees in nearly every dooryard in Maine.

Armatis, owner of 3B Apiary in Newport, plucked a perfectly ripe quince from a tree about 10 years ago and fell in love with its sweet, floral scent. I got smacked in the back of the head with a half-rotten one thrown by a brother when I was about 10. I, too, fell hard.

Her quince came from a lovingly tended tree, grown in an Oregon orchard, the grower fully intending for the fruit to be eaten. (It was a variety that could be eaten raw, a sort you’re unlikely to run across in the American grocery stores.) Mine dropped from a neglected old tree, surviving without human help on a steep slope behind the garage of my childhood home in western Massachusetts, a climate too cold to permit the sour fruit to be eaten unless it was cooked. My grandmother would take a few bags home to make quince jelly for her cronies who remembered it fondly. But most of the fruit landed on the ground. There it degraded into organic ammunition for girls versus boys backyard battles. They were solid enough to fly the distance but soft enough to hit the target with a satisfying splat.

Rudalevige places the pears onto the quince jam. Staff photo by Derek Davis

Quince have been cultivated for millennia around the world. Ancient Greeks presented the “golden apple” to brides on their wedding day, and they are still coveted for pastries, cordials, jams, and stews throughout Europe and the Middle East. But quince was eradicated from the retail realm in New England since the homogenization of fresh fruit available in grocery stores took root in the 1970s.

I’d tasted membrillo, quince boiled down to a semi-solid paste, alongside salty Manchego cheese, in the Spanish tradition. But it wasn’t until 2012 when my own young family spent a fall semester in Lyon, France, that I could look at the whole fruit through a culinary lens. A pear and quince tart in a patisserie display case did the trick. Peeled, poached pear and quince halves were arranged in concentric circles inside a flaky crust. The poached pears stayed a neutral color. But the quince were rosy pink, a function of the astringent fruit’s colorless tannins transforming into colorful pigments called anthocyanins as the flesh poached. Sweet, browned-butter custard filled in the gaps around the picture perfect beauties. It tasted as good as it looked.

On a return trip to Lyon last December, walking through a market, I remarked to a friend how few quince were available in Maine as we passed basketsful on vendors’ tables. She bought some, made preserves by cooking the peeled fruit with honey and water to a fine puree, and sent me home with a stash so I could spread it across a tart crust to make a close cousin of the tart I’d tasted years before.

Quince and Pear Tart. Staff photo by Derek Davis

Armatis, because she wanted to relive her Oregon quince experience, hunted for commercial quince growers in Maine. She found none. Quince trees survive in Maine mostly as backyard remnants, Jen Ries of Fedco Trees explains. The trees are susceptible to pine tree blister, fireblight and apple borers in these parts. Fighting off those issues, coupled with a non-existent commercial market, made quince a hard sell to grow in quantities here.

Four years ago, Armatis started trialing several varieties of trees (not the ornamental bushes that produce smaller, more sour fruits) of her own. The most successful variety – the Cydonia oblonga Aromatnaya, a hardy Russian cultivar bred for its disease resistance – she now grows both for both its fruit that ripen in mid-October and scions which Fedco Trees grafts onto rootstock to sell to other quince lovers. In its 2018 catalog of spring planting options, Fedco is selling Smyrna (brought to this country from Turkey) and Pineapple (one said to be good for eating fresh) varieties of quince trees.

Armatis has a friend who makes a citrusy, fragrant, orangy-red jelly from the fruits of her labor that she spreads on toast with cream cheese. Quince is high in pectin so it sets a jelly really well. This year’s crop is late due to unseasonably hot weather in September, and the fruit size smaller due to the abnormally dry summer weather, but she’s still planning on getting a bit of that jelly once the quince ripen from green to golden and lose their downy fuzz, a telltale sign they are ready to pick.

Armatis is hopeful that quince will make comeback in Maine and help restore this bygone measure of biodiversity across the state. But that will take orchardists and home gardeners caring for old trees and planting new ones that produce the fruit. And it will require home cooks tapping old recipes (perhaps Fanny Farmer’s Honeyed Quince and Quince Ice Cream) and creating new ones (like the cocktails made with quince-infused tequila that are served at Enoteca Athena in Brunswick) that include them. Every plate filled with quince treats served is a step in the right direction. Start with this tart.

Christine Burns Rudalevige is a food writer, a recipe developer and tester and a cooking teacher in Brunswick, and the author of “Green Plate Special,” a new cookbook from Islandport based on these columns. She can be contacted at

Quince and Pear Tart. Staff photo by Derek Davis


You can get quince into this tart in one of two ways: If you’ve scored some fresh whole quince, you can use half poached pears and half poached quince. Otherwise, use quince preserves or jelly combined with poached pears. As this year’s crop is late, I ran with the preserves option for the tart in this photo. You’ll need a 9 or 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
Makes 1 tart and 4 cups fruity, vanilla syrup

For the poached fruit:
1 cup (12 ounces, 516 grams) honey
4 large Bartlett pears or quince, peeled, halved and cored
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons lemon juice

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups (5.6 ounces, 150 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces, 113 grams) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:
1 cup quince jelly or jam (optional)
8 tablespoons (4 ounces, 113 grams) unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (1.76 ounces, 50 grams) sugar
2 tablespoons (.5 ounce, 15 grams) all-purpose flour

To make the poached fruit, bring 4 cups of water and the honey to a boil over medium heat in a Dutch oven. Stir to dissolve the honey. Add the pears (and quince if using), split vanilla bean and lemon juice. Return the mixture to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Place a small ovenproof plate into the pan to keep the fruit submerged. Cover and simmer the fruit until it is tender, about 30-60 minutes depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Cool the poached fruit in the syrup and refrigerate until you prepare the tart.

To make the pastry, combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse several times to mix. Add the butter and pulse 3-4 times until the butter is in pea-size pieces. Add the ice water and pulse 2-3 times, until the dough forms clumps, but not a ball. Dump dough onto a floured work surface and shape it into a disk, wrap it tightly, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When you are ready to prepare the tart, set a rack in the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a floured work surface. Tap it with a rolling pin to soften it. Roll it out to an 11-inch disk and transfer it to the tart pan, pressing it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Cut off any dough hanging over the rim of the pan. Chill the crust while preparing the filling.

Remove the poached fruit halves from the syrup with a slotted spoon and place them on a clean towel to drain. Pour the flavored syrup into a clean jar and save in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks for another purpose. If you are using quince jelly or jam, spread it over the bottom of the chilled crust.

To make the filling, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the butter begins to become foamy and turns a light brown color, 2-3 minutes. Do not walk away, as it can burn easily. Pour the butter into a heatproof bowl to cool slightly. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large measuring cup. Whisk in the flour and then slightly cooled brown butter.

Arrange the poached fruit, cut side down on top of the pastry or the quince jam, if using. They should fit closely together with the rounded ends perpendicular to the edge of the crust and the stem end toward the middle. You should be able to fit 8 halves. Pour the brown butter filling into the center of the pears and allow it to flow around them. Bake the tart until the pastry is baked through and the filling is puffed and slightly browned, about 45 minutes.

Remove the tart from the oven and cool it on a rack. The filling will fall as the tart cools.

To serve the tart, remove the side of the pan and slide the tart from the metal base of the pan to a platter. Serve the tart at room temperature, cut into wedges.

]]> 0 and Pear Tart.Fri, 29 Sep 2017 11:35:14 +0000
Hannaford recalling sandwiches and seafood stuffing because of listeria risk Sat, 30 Sep 2017 01:42:41 +0000 Hannaford supermarkets announced Friday a manufacturer’s recall of two types of sandwiches and a seafood stuffing because of a risk of listeria.

The items were recalled by Greencore USA, a convenience foods manufacturer based in Illinois, according to a statement from Hannaford. The products being recalled are:

Hannaford Seafood Stuffing, 10 ounces, with a use or sell date of Oct. 2 to Oct. 18. The UPC number is 41268-20509

Hannaford Egg Salad Club Sandwich, 5.10 ounces, with a use or sell by date of September 28 to October 2. The UPC number is 41268-16587

Hannaford Ham Salad Club Sandwich, 5.10 ounces, with a use or sell by date of September 28 to October 2. The UPC number is 41268-16589.

Customers who bought the recalled products should return them, or proof of purchase to a Hannaford store for a full refund. No illnesses have been reported in connection with the recall, Hannaford said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, listeria is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with listeria monocytogenes, a type of bacteria. An estimated 1,600 people get Listeria each year and about 260 die. The infection is most likely to sicken pregnant women, adults over 65 and people with weakened immune systems.

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

Twitter: @RayRouthier

]]> 0, 29 Sep 2017 21:48:41 +0000
Lobster food truck ready to add to its roll Thu, 28 Sep 2017 15:56:34 +0000 SCARBOROUGH — Bite Into Maine, a nationally recognized lobster roll food truck, will open its first brick-and-mortar restaurant just east of the Oak Hill neighborhood.

Bite Into Maine Commissary, at 185 U.S. Route 1 next door to The Egg I plaza, will focus on takeout, but also seat 14 to 16 people. The new eatery will include some twists to its popular menu, according to husband-and-wife team Sarah and Karl Sutton.

The Suttons, who moved to Scarborough from South Portland this summer, launched Bite Into Maine in 2011 in Cape Elizabeth’s Fort Williams Park. The couple said they started their business after they tried lobster rolls across the state and thought the variety was lacking.

While the new Scarborough menu isn’t finalized, it will include the lobster rolls the business is famous for, in addition to new and unique innovations, and locally sourced meat, cheesesbread, and butter. Maine crab is also being considered, Sarah Sutton said.

There will be a variety of  “funky, locally-sourced grilled cheese sandwiches,” she said, “like blueberry jam and brie. … We want to do things a little different than traditionally thought of.”

While no official opening day is set, Sutton estimated the restaurant will be open in the next few weeks. The hours have not been established, but the location will continue to house the kitchen for the company’s food trucks.

The owners said they hope to attract new clientele from the large number of businesses in the area and expect to have substantial take-out business.

The new restaurant is being renovated in a traditional New England style, but with a modern feel. The decor includes a lot of white with silver finishes, and incorporates corrugated metal and pops of orange to tie it to the original food truck.

Customers will be able to watch the food being prepared in an open kitchen.

“It was very important for us to be open so people see what is going on,” Sutton said. “It is almost like getting a behind-the-scenes look.”

Customers got a first-hand peek Sept. 25 – National Lobster Day – at Fort Williams, where a steady line of people watched and waited as Sutton made the lobster rolls. Using a food scale, she carefully measured out 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces of the fresh shellfish, which she scooped onto rolls.

Sutton said the business’ seventh season at the park has been its best so far. She attributed it to good weather, repeat customers, word of mouth and being in the national spotlight thanks to recent print media and television accolades.

Travel & Leisure magazine in May included the food truck in its list of best lobster rolls in New England. In September, Bite Into Maine was featured on the Food Network’s “I Hart Food,” where host Hannah Hart picked the wasabi lobster roll as her favorite.

The truck menu includes six lobster rolls, from Maine style with light mayonnaise and fresh chives and Connecticut style with hot butter, to more unusual styles that include mayo with either wasabi, curry, or chipotle seasoning.

But there are other lobster rolls not on the menu that are known by repeat customers, such as the “Maniac,” which is a hybrid combination of the Maine style with mayonnaise and “Picnic” style with coleslaw. The “Rachel” is a variation of the Connecticut style, but with chives and extra butter. The business also makes lobster rolls to order.

The Cape Elizabeth park trailer, with views of Portland Headlight, will remain open through the last Sunday in October. This summer the couple launched a second truck, a larger Airstream, which they park at the outdoor beer tasting area at Allagash Brewing Co. at 50 Industrial Way in Portland.

The couple hope the seasonal food trucks will remain a part of the landscape for a long time to come.

“The location is so awesome,” Sutton said about Fort Williams. “We want to be here as long as they let us. We want to be here forever.”

Sutton said she and her husband are also excited about operating Bite Into Maine year-round in Scarborough.

They will be “taking it up a notch,” she said, but promise to keep the business “Maine-centric.”

See this story in The Forecaster.

]]> 0 Sutton takes a break from selling lobster rolls from her Bite Into Maine food truck at Fort Williams Park on Wednesday. “We have the best office view ever!” she said.Thu, 28 Sep 2017 11:58:31 +0000
Local chefs to cook for gala to benefit SMCC program Wed, 27 Sep 2017 22:48:19 +0000 A Nov. 8 gala reception featuring Portland-area chefs and bartenders will benefit the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Program at Southern Maine Community College.

The event, “A Light on the Point,” will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in the Culinary Arts building at 80 Fort Road and costs $100. A VIP cocktail hour, with only 75 tickets available, will start an hour earlier and costs an extra $50. Both events are open to the public.

Proceeds will help pay for student scholarships and the President’s Emergency Fund, which provides financial support to students who experience unexpected financial difficulties.

Participating restaurants are Central Provisions, David’s restaurants, Evo Kitchen + Bar, Lolita Vinoteca and Asador, Piccolo, Sur Lie and Union. Culinary students will help the chefs prepare and serve a menu of light food. The VIP cocktail hour will feature mixologists from Portland Hunt & Alpine Cub and Fore Street, as well as oysters from Eventide.

Buy tickets at

]]> 0, ME - NOVEMBER 17: April Hatch makes Garlic & Parsley Pasta at Kennebec Valley Community College Culinary School Tuesday, November 17, 2015. (Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer)Wed, 27 Sep 2017 18:50:32 +0000
Looking for a gift for the serious-minded cook? Wed, 27 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “The Art of Flavor: Practices and Principles for Creating Delicious Food.” By Daniel Patterson and Mandy Aftel. Riverhead Books. $28.

My younger colleagues who like to cook won’t give a cookbook without photos the time of day. Unlike me, they have been reared on food television and food blogs. They expect – they demand – luscious photographs in every cookbook, preferably with every recipe. (They get them, because it’s no longer insanely expensive to print these photo-heavy cookbooks.)

So it is probably my contrary nature that drew me to “The Art of Flavor: Practices and Principles for Creating Delicious Food,” a deliberative, text-heavy, black-and-white cookbook with not a single photo unless, that is, you count the two of the authors on the book jacket flap. Also, I’m a writer and editor, so it pleased me to restore balance – to give words a little love in our image-centric world. Easy to do with this book, it turned out, because it is so nicely written.

About those two authors? One is San Francisco-based chef Daniel Patterson, past winner of a James Beard Foundation award, recognized as a Food & Wine Best New Chef, and holder of two Michelin stars. His unlikely (yet unexpectedly apt) collaborator for “The Art of Flavor” is Berkeley-based Mandy Aftel, headlined in a New York Times profile as “The World’s Most Dedicated All-Natural Perfumer.”

A few minutes perusing made it clear that it’s not accurate to call their work a cookbook. Yes, it has recipes, often quite unusual ones (such as Carrots Roasted with Coffee Beans; Winter Vegetables with Charred Onion Broth and Olive Oil; Oxtail Braised in Marrow Stock). But far more of the book is devoted to giving home cooks a set of practices and principles,” as the book’s subtitle and introduction say, for teaching “you to become a creative, confident cook who knows how to think about and respond to the ingredients available to you in ways that result in delicious, memorable food.”

Hence, readers get a “Brief, Biased History of Flavor” in Chapter 1, as well as meaty, rigorous instruction throughout, which builds chapter by chapter, on ingredients [the aim is to “arrive at (an) intimate understanding” of them], rules of flavor, fine-tuning – what Patterson and Aftel call “The Seven Dials,” and quite a bit more. Here, for instance, is a suggestion from a section on ingredients:

“Try this: Every time you go food shopping, practice comparing the aroma of ingredients that are similar, paying attention to the ways in which they are aromatically different – coffee beans from different countries; oolong, green, or black teas; milk or dark chocolate; blood or sweet orange; Pink Lady or Fuji apples. You will begin to notice the different facets of their aromas. Let yourself gravitate toward what draws you, with its vibrant color, its pungent smell, or simply its strangeness. Pick it up and inhale its aroma deeply. Try to put words to its character, the shape of its aroma, its facets. What familiar associations does it call up? A forest floor? What inspirations does it call forth? Maybe think of pairing it with a piney herb? Identifying those bridges from the familiar to the unfamiliar is the key to expanding not just your pantry but also your repertoire. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it makes for a good cook.”

Curiosity is also necessary for the reader of “The Art of Flavor.” If you are the sort of cook who simply wants to get a healthy, tasty dinner on the table fast before the kids melt down, this is probably not the book for you. If, however, you are the sort of cook who likes to intellectualize your meal-making; who wonders why one recipe shines and another is a dud; who likes to understand precisely what’s going on on the stovetop and in the oven, not merely follow a set of rote instructions; who geeks out on learning that herbs and spices are built, for the most part, from two chemical families, terpenes and phenolics, and is eager to read three pages about them; this book has your name on it.

You can, of course, skip all the lessons, and just cook the recipes, which range from the familiar, say, Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs, to the sophisticated, say, Chicken Stewed with Saffron, Orange and Tarragon. Many look intriguing; none looks overly complicated. Neglecting the lessons may not be the best and highest use of “The Art of Flavor,” but if the three recipes I tried are any indication, the approach will nonetheless be delicious.

Peggy Grodinsky can be contacted at 791-6653 or at:

Twitter: pgrodinsky


Serves 6-8

1 ripe tomato, skinned and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 serrano chili, seeded

2 tablespoons neutral-tasting vegetable oil, such as grapeseed or canola

1 tablespoon fresh goat’s or cow’s milk cheese


2 heads romaine lettuce, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups summer vegetables (squash, bell peppers, cucumbers, fennel, etc.), chopped, shaved, or cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 avocado, diced

Freshly ground black pepper

Place the tomato, vinegar, lime juice, chili, oil and cheese in the pitcher of a blender with a little salt and process until smooth.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a serving bowl. Dress with the tomato vinaigrette and season to taste with salt and black pepper.

]]> 0, 26 Sep 2017 19:08:41 +0000
Toast summer’s end with 7 fall cocktails created by local bartenders Wed, 27 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Remember how excited we all were when Cold River Vodka opened its own distillery in Freeport in 2005? At the time, a locally made liquor was almost unheard of.

Two years later, Americans were introduced to a fictional ad executive named Don Draper who enjoyed a well-made Old Fashioned.

Since then, as the food scene in Portland has grown, so has the cocktail culture. The city now has nearly a half-dozen distilleries making gin, rye, bourbon and other spirits that are giving diners trendy drinks to enjoy in local restaurants and to serve at cocktail parties at home.

Along with the distilleries have come interesting and sophisticated cocktail bars and specialty stores selling bitters, shakers, martini glasses and the other accoutrements of cocktail culture.

It seemed like a good time to ask Portland bartenders to share their ideas for cocktails that will pair well with the fall season. What would they like to drink after a long day of raking leaves or an afternoon of fun in the pumpkin patch?

Their creative suggestions for warming your spirit this autumn follow. (Each recipe serves one.)

Many of these recipes are a little challenging, requiring advance preparation so an ingredient can steep or, perhaps, a special trip to the store. But we have concentrated on bottles and other ingredients that are available in local stores, and have offered some substitutes for people who would like a shortcut.

With more people making their own shrubs at home, and taking the time to infuse their own liquors with fresh, local ingredients, we trust that the local appetite for cocktails has moved beyond bourbon and Coke, and that our readers are ready to try something different. Just as local chefs have inspired home cooks to challenge themselves in the kitchen, we hope these ideas will bring out your inner bartender.

The Tweed Jacket Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

TO TRAVIS GAUVIN, the assistant distiller at Hardshore Distilling, the most memorable cocktails transport you to a specific place and time. And fall in Maine, he says, is filled with “so many strong scenes, smells and flavors to choose from.”

“Many of my fondest memories are from spending time outdoors in the fall: going to the Fryeburg Fair with my family to see my grandmother, who would sell her vegetables from a little stall table; campfires on chilly nights in flannel shirts; and Sunday road trips seeking out great spots to view the changing leaves,” he said. “I wanted to create a drink that would smell, that would feel, like one of those special days.”

The Tweed Jacket – made with butternut squash, peaches and honey – recalls a slow morning stroll through a farmers market as the season’s best produce reaches its peak.


The drink requires that you make several components ahead of time. Once those are made, it comes together in a snap.

2 ounces Hardshore Original Gin

Bar spoon of Peach Puree

1 ounce Butternut Squash Mash

1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

1/2 ounce Honey-Thyme Syrup

Basil leaf

To make the Peach Puree, peel and slice 3 peaches (about 1 pound of peach slices total). Put the slices into a blender with 2 tablespoons water and a teaspoon of sugar and blend to a smoothie consistency, adding more water or sugar as needed.

To make the Butternut Squash Mash, slice the squash in half, remove seeds, and put both halves in boiling water for 20 minutes, or until the squash softens. Scoop the cooked flesh of the squash into a blender, discarding the peel. Add 1 tablespoon water and 1 teaspoon sugar (or to taste) and blend.

To make the Honey-Thyme Syrup, put equal parts honey and water into a pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. When the honey is dissolved, remove from the heat and steep several thyme sprigs in the honey water for 2 hours.

To make the Tweed Jacket drink itself, combine all the ingredients. Strain and serve in a rocks glass. Garnish with the basil leaf.

WARREN MURRAY, bar manager at Vena’s Fizz House, has long been a fan of a summery cocktail called “The Last Word.” It’s a strange mix of gin, lime juice, chartreuse green liqueur and maraschino cherry liqueur that was popular during Prohibition and resurfaced a few years ago in Seattle.

“It’s a weird-sounding recipe, which is why I really like it,” Murray said. “It just sounds like something you wouldn’t want to make, but it really blends together excellently.”

Murray decided to flip the cocktail forward into fall by substituting bourbon for the gin, lemon for the lime, and allspice liqueur and spiced pear liqueur for the sweeter chartreuse and cherry liqueurs. The result, he says, is “a warming bourbon drink” reminiscent of a mulled cider or hot toddy.

The recipe calls for Bitter Armando, small-batch bitters made by Vena’s Fizz House that have a smoky character, but you can substitute any orange bitters, Murray says. And Murray suggests using a locally made version of cranberry bitters from Owl & Whale.

The First Words of Fall cocktail at Vena’s Fizz House Staff photo by Brianna Soukup


3/4 ounce bourbon

3/4 ounce lemon juice

3/4 ounce St. George spiced pear liqueur

3/4 ounce allspice dram liquor

2 to 5 drops each Bitter Armando bitters and cranberry bitters

Orange twist

Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with the orange twist.

MAX OVERSTROM-COLEMAN, bartender at Little Giant, first traveled to Spain 12 years ago and became enamored of the variety of sherries. He returned recently with the U.S. Bartenders Guild on a trip to learn more about sherry.

Overstrom-Coleman’s cocktail, called “Midnight in Jerez,” is inspired by the marriage of sherry and vermouth in cocktails such as The Adonis and Bamboo, two drinks that date back to the 19th century. Most people don’t drink sherry or vermouth separately (although bartenders do), Overstrom-Coleman said; combining them makes for a more approachable concoction.

And the “deep and dark” flavor profile of Midnight in Jerez makes for a nice celebration of fall. It’s been a recent favorite of restaurant industry folk who come into Little Giant for a drink.

“I think that it’s just a wonderfully balanced, deep and earthy cocktail,” Overstrom-Coleman said. “It really does have a wide appeal.”

The Lustau Los Arcos Amontillado, Dolin Blanc and Carpano Antica Formula (both vermouths) are readily available in local liquor stores, as well as at Little Giant. Overstrom-Coleman suggested sticking with these brands because these two very different vermouths have their own distinctive flavors. The Cesar Florido Moscatel Especial is also readily available, he added, but a Pedro Jimenez can be substituted in a pinch.

You can buy the pineapple gomme or make your own.

Midnight in Jerez Photo by Erin Little


1 ounce Lustau Los Arcos Amontillado

1 ounce Dolin Blanc

1/2 ounce Carpano Antica Formula

1/2 ounce Cesar Florido Moscatel Especial

Bar spoon pineapple gomme

Pinch kosher salt

Grapefruit twist

To make the pineapple gomme, combine equal parts by weight peeled and cubed pineapple, sugar and water, and let the mixture sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Strain. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

To make Midnight in Jerez, stir all the ingredients together with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with grapefruit twist and its expressed oil.

MIKE GATLIN, bartender at Blyth & Burrows, often draws inspiration for his cocktails from the War of 1812 and the cultures and trade routes that were affected by the war. The bar is named after two sea captains who died in battle off the coast of Maine in 1813 (despite its name, the war lasted until 1815), and its cocktail menu reflects the trade routes the two captains would have traveled during their lifetimes.

Sophia Byzantine Photo by Anthony Di Biase Photography

The Sophia Byzantine, which will be on the bar’s fall menu, is inspired by the “Amber Road” trade route, which includes modern-day Turkey. It pays tribute not only to the season – “it’s rich and warm and comforting,” Gatlin says – but to the era and to the Byzantine Empire’s love of coffee and cherries. Cherry juice, he notes, is still a breakfast staple in Istanbul.


11/4 ounces Paddy Irish Whiskey

1/2 ounce Averna

1/2 ounce cherry syrup

1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice

1/2 ounce cold-brew coffee

Luxardo Maraschino cherry

Shake the first five ingredients together with ice in a cocktail shaker, strain and serve. Garnish with the cherry.


This recipe makes enough for many drinks.

1 cup cherry juice

1 cup sugar

1 cinnamon stick

7 grams (about 1/2 tablespoon) black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together in a pot. Heat to boiling – just enough to melt the sugar – then remove from the heat. The syrup will keep for 6 weeks in the refrigerator.

Matthew Marrier of Liquid Riot describes the Shrub Down as “savory and refreshing.” Staff photos by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

LIQUID RIOT’S “Shrub Down” not only screams falling leaves and fires in the wood stove, it would be a perfect pre-dinner cocktail on Thanksgiving Day.

This shrub cocktail features cranberries and sage, and is light enough that it won’t weigh you down before the big meal. It’s not “overly rich,” says bartender Matthew Marrier. “It’s really more savory and refreshing.”

The Shrub Down Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Shrubs are vinegar-based drinks that date back to Colonial times but have been widely rediscovered in the last decade. “I like to think that our new cocktail is a modern take on a Colonial classic,” Marrier said.

Marrier credits bar manager Kristin Rouse with this recipe. It will be on the Liquid Riot fall menu, and the ingredients will change seasonally.


2 ounces Liquid Riot Old Port Straight Bourbon Whiskey

2 ounces Cranberry-Sage Shrub

Seltzer water

Fresh sage leaf

Combine the whiskey and the shrub in a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain over crushed ice into a chilled rocks glass. Top with seltzer. Garnish with the sage leaf.


1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries

1 cup sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

2 fresh sage leaves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Bake the cranberries on the prepared sheet for 20 minutes. Let cool.

Transfer the cranberries to a 1-quart jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add the sugar, cover and shake vigorously to fully coat the berries. Let the mixture stand in cool, dark place for 5 hours.

Add the vinegar to the jar, cover and shake. Add the sage leaves, cover, and let rest in a cool, dark place for 24 hours, shaking periodically. Strain before drinking.

THE SECRET TO Jeff Sherman’s ode to autumn, “Let’s FALL in Love,” is Tom Cat gin.

“It’s aged in American oak barrels, so it drinks like a bourbon, but you still know you’re drinking gin because of the juniper berries,” said Sherman, a bartender at Crooners and Cocktails. “It’s made with honey, and it’s this sweet, oaky gin.”

The gin is so smooth it’s good on the rocks, he said, but that smoothness also makes it perfect for a cocktail. The “ginger syrup” in the cocktail is made with fresh ginger, so it’s more like a ginger juice. (And it’s good in tea, too, Sherman says.)

“It’s really potent, which is why there’s only a couple of dashes in it,” Sherman said.

If you don’t want to make the orange tincture, you can substitute orange bitters.

“It’s a way to add a little bit of citrus flavor without diluting the drink,” Sherman explained.

Let’s Fall in Love Photo by Jeff Sherman


1.5 ounces Tom Cat Gin

1 ounce apple cider

1/4 ounce Campari

1/4 ounce lemon juice

Dash simple syrup

2 dashes Ginger Syrup

2 dashes Orange Tincture

Mix all the ingredients together. Shake hard over ice, then double strain. Serve in a chilled coupe.


1/4 pound ginger root (1 big knob)

1/4 pound sugar

1/2 cup boiling water (just enough to get the blender going)

Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Blend. Strain.


Add the peel from 3 oranges to 1 cup grain alcohol and soak for 2 weeks.

BIRCH SHAMBAUGH and Fayth Preyer, the owners of Woodford Food & Beverage, named the Oakdale Special after Portland’s Oakdale neighborhood.

Fall is a good time for whiskey, and the Oakdale Special is a modern take on a classic Manhattan that, Shambaugh says, does “a nice job of showcasing rye’s backbone and spicy notes.”

“We’re particular suckers for a rye that has a nice oakiness along with the warmer spice flavors,” he said. “Pairing one with the bittersweet note of an amaro can further accentuate the whiskey’s character while introducing additional complexity.”‘

Shambaugh and Preyer like George Dickel Rye or Rittenhouse Bonded Rye for this drink, but they say Old Overholt can work well, too.

The Oakdale Special Photo by Birch Shambaugh



1 1/2 ounces rye whiskey

3/4 ounce Cynar

3/4 ounce Carpano Antica Vermouth

Orange peel or slice


Half fill a cocktail shaker or pint glass with ice for mixing.

Place a few cubes of ice in Old Fashioned or rocks glass. The larger the cube, the better.

Shake 3 or 4 strong dashes of bitters over the cubes in the glass.

Combine the spirits in the shaker or pint glass. Stir until chilled and strain over the ice and bitters in the Old Fashioned glass.

Serve with a stirring rod and garnish with the orange and cherry.

]]> 0, 28 Sep 2017 19:47:28 +0000
Sorry, Grandma – I’m tweaking your spaghetti and meatballs Wed, 27 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Spaghetti and meatballs was the classic dish I ate at Grandma’s house growing up: She had her all-day recipe that filled her creaky house with heady aromas that built anticipation as meatballs simmered in sauce on the stove.

The fact that she was 100 percent first-generation German – she emigrated at the age of 6 – never stopped me from making her recipe the benchmark by which every other meatball would be judged.

Tweaking her recipe to lighten it up a bit, and make it weekday-friendly by shortening the cook time, was a task I didn’t take lightly. And truth to be told: There is a special place in this rush-to-eat food world for the leisurely simmer of small orbs of meat in thick, tangy tomato sauce covered in a fine slick of co-mingled pork and beef fat that has gently floated to the top. But life is busy, and we need to get a healthy dinner on the table and move on. I get it. These meatballs are for those nights.

First to change: The fatty mix of pork and beef became simply lean (93 percent) beef. Feel free to mix in turkey, but our family preferred the beef. The next tweak: I added a half-pound of mushrooms for every pound of beef to stretch the meat out and add in nutrients. I pulsed the mushrooms in a food processor, and then cooked them with another healthy meat stretcher – onions. (Here, you could add other veggies too: shredded zucchini, carrot, and chopped spinach work great.) I added the mushroom and onion mixture right in with the ground beef, and they added flavor, moisture and bulk, with nary an added calorie (nor a suspicious eye from any of my four kids). I used one egg white (no yolk), and used oats pulsed into a coarse flour instead of breadcrumbs. Simmer these meatballs directly in a pot of a high-quality jarred marinara sauce, and in 20 minutes, they will be succulent, tender and juicy.

Almost like Grandma’s.


Servings: 6

8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped, about 3/4 cup

1 teaspoon olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1 pound 93 percent lean ground beef

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/3 cup oats, pulsed or blended into a coarse powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

4 cups jarred marinara sauce, with no sugar added

Place the sliced mushrooms in a food processor and pulse 4 or 5 times, until the mushrooms are the texture of coarse couscous. Do not over-process or it will become pasty. Heat a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil, onion, and mushrooms to the pan. Cook, stirring often, until onion and mushrooms are softened, and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 12 minutes.

Add the garlic, Italian herb blend, salt and pepper, give it a quick stir, and then remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes. In a large bowl, mix together the egg white and the cooled mushroom mixture. Add the ground beef and mix together, using hands if necessary. Add the Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, fresh basil and ground oats and mix together, just until blended.

Use a small ice cream scoop to portion out uniform meatballs, and roll them gently together in your hands. (You will have approximately 26 meatballs 1.5 inch in diameter.) Pour the marinara sauce into a heavy sauce pan or small Dutch over. Gently place the meatballs in the sauce. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer gently for 20 minutes, removing the cover about halfway through the cook time. Serve.

]]> 0, 26 Sep 2017 17:18:53 +0000
Local athletes discover the benefits of vegan diets Wed, 27 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Last month, Men’s Fitness profiled seven top-ranking vegan athletes. A couple weeks earlier, the Boston Globe wrote a long piece about how New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady is causing players throughout the National Football League to eat vegan. And all summer UK soccer club Forest Green Rovers created headlines because the team eats vegan to boost performance and plays in a stadium that serves only vegan food.

But this trend of athletes eating vegan isn’t just for the elite few. A small but growing number of Maine athletes are turning to plant-based foods to up their competitive edge. And sometimes this edge can surprise others.

Lisa Fasulo of Portland is 5 feet 4 inches tall, weights 136 pounds, eats a totally raw vegan diet and won first place in a powering lifting meet in August.

“Everyone was like, ‘There is no way this tiny little girl who is vegan is going to be able to take this,’ ” Fasulo said of her win in the 35-plus age category in the RPS Push-Pull Power Lifting Competition that took place in Saco. “I showed you can be a vegan and you can be strong.”

Fasulo is a fitness trainer at Quest in Portland and Turning Point in Scarborough and runs the personal fitness and nutrition coaching business Get Fit2. She has been power lifting for two years and eating vegan for six. Fasulo initially turned to plant-based foods to treat her celiac disease and then found it benefits her workouts, too.

“I wake up very clear in the morning and that energy lasts through the day,” Fasulo said. “I wake up and feel like I want to work out. If I don’t have time to work out in the morning because of work, I still have that energy and enthusiasm after work. And my recovery time has reduced. Before when I would exercise, I would feel stiffness for a longer period of time. I definitely think it has to do with my diet.”

On days she’s weight lifting and teaching a spin class, she needs to eat up to 5,000 calories. To meet this caloric demand on a diet of low-calorie, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, Fasulo spends time every night prepping raw food. She packs a cooler with meals composed of cut vegetables, fruits and her raw “tofu,” which she makes herself from cashews and coconut.

“I make sure I’m eating enough to have the energy to do my lifts, and then I eat enough after too,” Fasulo said. “I feel amazing. My sleep is awesome. My lifts are awesome. I have energy all day.”

Vegan runner Kristin Burgess competes in the Kennebunk 5 Miler. Julie Phaneuf photo

Long distance runner Kristin Burgess, of Westbrook, had a similar experience after she switched from a vegetarian to a vegan diet.

“I had this new-found energy almost immediately,” Burgess said. “It was almost like I was vibrating on a different level than my peers, which was both strange and intriguing to me. I kept thinking: ‘Do other vegans feel this way? Why aren’t more people talking about this?’ So I continued (eating vegan) because I was just feeling so great.”

Burgess was a vegetarian when she took up long distance running, which soon led her to learn about ultra endurance athlete Rich Roll. Roll is an author and the host of a popular fitness podcast. He is also a vegan.

“I read his book ‘Finding Ultra’ and I started cutting out things that contained milk,” Burgess said. “Around the same time, I started watching documentaries. When I saw ‘Earthlings’ I was completely blown away…I literally cleaned out my refrigerator that night.”

Burgess has since found that combining a vegan diet with plenty of water and stretching helps her body recover more quickly from a run.

Angela May Bell, who is a vegan, cools off in the ocean after running the 2017 Beach to Beacon race this year. Nancy Wyman photo

Long distance runner Angela May Bell of Portland is banking on these same anti-inflammatory qualities to help her overcome the first injury she’s sustained in more than a dozen years of running and eating vegan. In late summer, she developed a cyst in her left foot, which began after she walked around New York City in flip flops. At first she ignored the pain and kept training for the Mount Desert Island Marathon, which takes place Oct. 15. But the pain worsened and a few trips to the doctor later, she had her diagnosis.

She’s won’t be able to run the marathon this year, but her plant-based diet gives her a positive outlook.

“I learned my bones are healthy when they did the initial X-ray,” Bell said. “As far as recovery goes, my diet is really going to help that.”

To speed recovery, Bell is eating more leafy greens and adding more turmeric to her meals.

In recent years, Bell has used her running as a way to raise money for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, whose ships roam the high seas and work to disrupt illegal whaling ships.

Like Bell, Hunter de Garmo is a vegan who uses his sport to raise money for and awareness of a cause he cares about. The ultra endurance athlete founded the annual STRIDE Walk. Jog. Run. event that takes place each May at the Boothbay Region YMCA in support of the Maine Parkinson Society.

Vegan ultramarathoner Hunter de Garmo in the STRIDE Walk. Jog. Run. fundraising event in May. Samantha de Garmo photo

A resident of Wiscasset, de Garmo started running seven years ago around the same time his mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and he went into recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. After he entered recovery, de Garmo stopped eating meat and soon cut out dairy and eggs.

“It didn’t really come from a health standpoint,” de Garmo said of his change in diet. “But I felt I could perform better eating this way.”

And he was right.

“As my running got more serious,” de Garmo recalls, “I went from never running to running a marathon within a year to running an ultramarathon.”

In order to run an ultramarathon – which is any race longer than a marathon – de Garmo said he has to be prepared with nutrient-dense meals and snacks made from whole, plant-based foods. Favorite foods he consumes while running the track at the YMCA include smoothies and energy balls he makes from dates, nuts and seeds.

While power lifter Fasulo has encountered skeptical comments about her vegan diet from others in her sport, de Garmo has seen the opposite.

“People are curious,” de Garmo said. “They’re like, ‘Wow! You’re fueled off plants and you get enough calories.'”

Their interest spurred de Garmo to create a vegan recipe booklet for this year’s STRIDE fundraiser and to serve butternut squash alfredo and black bean brownies to participants.

And while the food is well received, it’s his results that most intrigue his fellow runners. He said his switch to a plant-based diet totally changed how his body responds after a run.

“I can run 24 miles one day and 26 the next and not even be sore,” de Garmo said. After this year’s STRIDE fundraiser, where he ran 31 miles in six hours, he left, hopped in his car and went to pick up a stroller for his son.

“Normally, afterwards you can’t function,” de Garmo said. “You can’t drive a car because your legs are shot.”

De Garmo’s vegan diet has meant a new normal.

Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

]]> 0 lifter and vegan Lisa Fasulo recently surprised competitors when she won the 35-plus age category in a lifting competition in Saco.Tue, 26 Sep 2017 20:18:52 +0000
Tuna with smashed onion butter? Yes, please Wed, 27 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 I’m a big fan of tuna and that’s as true on the grill in summer and fall as under the broiler in midwinter. Usually I turn to tapenade as a topping, but I was ready for something different.

I found that in “Gastro Grilling,” by Ted Reader. He prepares the tuna with some heat – four kinds of peppercorns, plus hot pepper flakes for an extra level of spice. (If you don’t have time to run around looking for different peppercorns, feel free to use whatever you have in the pantry.)

It’s a snap to make the rub and pat it on the tuna before grilling. But say you want to branch out a bit more on the dinner menu.

You can make a compound butter with green onions to use as a dollop on the finished tuna. And for only another moment of your time, you can add green onions to the grilled mix. With this combo, dinner will look as pretty as it is flavorful.


Keep your tuna icy cold before grilling; this will keep the flesh firm. Plan the timing so you can soak the green onions for 30 minutes before putting them over the heat.

From “Gastro Grilling,” by Ted Reader.

Serves 4

Smashed Green Onion Butter (see recipe)

1 to 2 bunches green onions, trimmed (bigger onions work better)

1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns

1 tablespoon cracked Szechuan peppercorns

2 teaspoons cracked green peppercorns

2 teaspoons cracked white peppercorns

2 teaspoons cracked coriander seeds

1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon brown sugar

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 tuna steaks (each about 6 ounces), cut 11/2 inch thick

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare the Smashed Green Onion Butter. Soak the green onions for about 30 minutes in cold water.

To make the peppercorn rub: In a bowl, mix together the four peppercorns, coriander, hot pepper flakes, kosher salt and brown sugar. Add the garlic, soy sauce and olive oil. Stir to make a pepper slurry and set aside.

To prepare the tuna: Fire up the grill to 550 to 650 degrees.

Rub the tuna steaks with the pepper rub, pressing the seasoning into the flesh so that it adheres.

Grill the tuna steaks for 1 to 2 minutes per side, directly over the hot flame for rare. It won’t take long. Remember that the more done the tuna is, the drier it becomes. Rare to medium is the usual recommendation.

While grilling the tuna, add the green onions to the heat for 2 to 3 minutes, turning until lightly charred and tender, yet still bright green. Season with a little salt and pepper, if desired. Remove from grill.


From “Gastro Grilling,” by Ted Reader.

Makes about 1/2 cup

4 green onions

Kosher salt to taste

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 shallot, finely chopped

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened

Place the green onions onto a cutting board. Take a heavy-bottomed frying pan and smash them. You want them to split apart to extract their juices. Roughly chop them up and place in a bowl. Season the smashed onions with a little kosher salt and the lemon juice. Add the shallot, cilantro and softened butter. Mix to incorporate.

Transfer to a small bowl and set aside, or place mixture on a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into the dimensions of a stick of butter. (Store in the refrigerator if not using that day.)

]]> 0, 26 Sep 2017 17:53:13 +0000
Apple Culture: Give crabapples a chance Wed, 27 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 One of my earliest memories involves apples. It is not a pleasant recollection. As a preschooler at La Petite Academy in Palatine, Illinois (yes, I have just outed myself as a Midwestern transplant to Maine), I had the unfortunate experience of eating an ornamental crabapple. In the middle of the playground at my preschool a massive crabapple tree stood with fruit within easy reach of me and my fellow 4-year-olds. Why, in retrospect, this tree existed on the property, mightily tempting small children to pick fruit to throw at each other remains a mystery, but what that crabapple tasted like does not. Left unattended on the playground one day, I bit into a profoundly bitter, sour crabapple. I remember that taste still.

The experience left me believing – as I’ve come to learn many others believe – that crabapples are ornaments meant to please the eye, not the tongue. As cidermaker David Buchanan puts it, “For most people, crabapples are synonymous with ‘fruit I don’t want to eat.’ ”

Cammy Watts of Super Chilly Farm in Palermo and an apple lover par excellence seconded that: “What I find is that many people assume crabs are ornamental plants that produce fruits with no culinary value, and they are either too small or too bitter to eat. Because most crabs are planted for their bloom or to attract wildlife and not for the culinary value of their fruit, when people taste a crab that is good for fresh eating, they are wowed.”

Part of the reason for the widespread belief that crabapples are at best uninteresting and, at worst, disgusting, may be that our moms warned us when we were kids that they’d give us bellyaches. Then, there’s our tendency to think that bigger is better, if not best. Wander around the fruit section in a supermarket, and you are bound to notice the many new apple varieties with exciting names like “Fiesta,” “SnapDragon” and “Cosmic Crisp.” Each weighs close to a pound, resembles a volleyball and contains cavity-producing levels of sugar.

“This is something I can’t understand at all,” Buchanan said. “Eat two apples if you’re hungry!” This trend in fruit cultivation can’t be an accident. Apple researchers and marketers must know that the American public is attracted to fruit that is gigantic in size and in flavor. Unfortunately, these fruits literally overshadow their smaller competitors, leading many consumers to believe that apples not only need to taste a certain way, but also look a certain way.

It wasn’t until recently that I learned that the world of crabapples – defined as an apple that matures to fewer than two inches in diameter – is as varied and intricate as the world of apples in general. Four years ago, my wife and I went driving in the Maine countryside in search of orchards that offered unconventional varieties of apples. We ended up stopping by Rollins Orchard in Garland, which, if you have not visited, is well worth the trip – even if just to see the massive trees in the orchard, some of which are more than 100 years old.

Inside the orchard’s shop was an apple display. Dead center stood a basket of crabapples – “Virginia Crab” the label read. Remembering that horrid taste from my childhood, I suffered a momentary Post-Traumatic Taste episode and recoiled in shock that such an apple would not only be available to eat but for sale at such a beautiful orchard. Fortunately, my partner steadied me, as an orchard employee gave us samples. To my surprise, the Virginia Crab had a beautiful, nutty and succulent flavor with a hint of sweetness that is rarely replicated in larger varieties. I was hooked.

I soon learned that you can eat crab varietals throughout most of the apple season.

“Here are Super Chilly Farm we have a few favorites – it just depends on the week since they ripen throughout the season,” Watts said, listing Trailman and Centennial to start. “We often offer Martha the first week of our Apple CSA, and it is always a hit. Chestnut and Whitney are usually ripe about the time of the Common Ground Fair, and they have both been winners at the apple tasting there. And then my favorite late-season apple is Wickson, which is also a crab. All of these are amazing for fresh eating because they blend sweet and tart into one tiny package.”

While crabapples taste good out of hand, their punchy, intense flavors are well-suited to many other uses, too. In fact, given their strange, complex flavors, crabapples often outperform even the most prestigious regular apple. The most common use for many varieties, like Hewes Crab and Wickson, is hard cider.

“Hewe’s Crab is iconic in the cider world,” Buchanan said. “It is rich in history and wonderful for blending with high sugar and bright acidity. Crabs often have the most concentrated flavors for cider, so if you are growing a crabapple tree on your yard, don’t be surprised if I come knock on your door.”

Interestingly, it is their supposed “flaw” – their small size – that accounts for crabapples’ complex taste.

“Since apple flavor is contained in the cell layer just beneath the skin,” Watts explained, “the high surface-to-volume ratio of a crabapple means that you get a lot of punch in every bite.”

So while university apple breeders put tremendous effort into maximizing the amount of flavor in each and every bite of the new uberapples, crabapples are Mother Nature’s effortless way of reminding us that small packages often contain the most beautiful treasures.

Sean Turley is a lifelong fruit enthusiast and an amateur apple picker and sleuth. Every fall, Turley dedicates himself to locating and devouring as many of Maine’s heritage and wild apple varietals as possible. Sean posts his finds on Instagram @therighteousrusset and can be contacted at

]]> 0 hang on a tree on Wednesday at Kents Hill Orchard.Tue, 26 Sep 2017 18:19:03 +0000
Food editor Peggy Grodinsky’s story will appear in collection of ‘Best of Food Writing’ Wed, 27 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 A Portland Press Herald article by food editor Peggy Grodinsky about the bond between the chef and dishwasher at Back Bay Grill will appear in this year’s “Best of Food Writing” anthology.

For 18 years, the anthology has featured the best of each year’s food writing, including pieces from notable figures like Anthony Bourdain, Alice Waters, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and Besha Rodell. The 2017 edition includes 50 essays from journalists, authors, chefs and bloggers.

Grodinsky’s essay, “The chef, the dishwasher and a bond that keeps Back Bay Grill in sync,” highlights the unique bond between Larry Matthews Jr., the chef-owner of Back Bay Grill in Portland, and William “Franco” Tucker, the dishwasher who has worked with him for two decades. Grodinsky explores each man’s background and the relationship they forged while working in the same kitchen.

Grodinsky first heard about Tucker, the dishwasher, during a casual conversation she had with Matthews when she was eating at Back Bay Grill in which she happened to ask him about the employee he’d worked with the longest. Knowing that dishwashers rarely stay in restaurants for long, she was surprised by Matthews’ answer.

“I knew from the moment Larry said ‘the dishwasher’ that I had the germ of a good story,” Grodisnky said. “The idea appealed to me strongly for another reason, too: I am tired of reading 24-7 about celebrity chefs. Just like it takes a team to put together a newspaper, it takes a team to run a good restaurant. The idea of looking in concert at the top member of the team, the owner/executive chef, and the person who is considered the lowliest member, the dishwasher, really spoke to me.”

Grodinsky joined the staff of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram in 2014. She has been writing about food for more than 20 years.

Best of Food Writing 2017 is edited by Holly Hughes, a New York City-based writer and author of “Frommer’s 500 Places for Food and Wine Lovers.” The anthology will be released Oct. 24.


]]> 0 GrodinskyTue, 26 Sep 2017 18:26:11 +0000
Get over yourself and get in on entry-level wines Wed, 27 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Less expensive but well-made wines reveal a winery’s style.

Let’s talk about an important category of wine that is often overlooked and misunderstood. These wines serve an essential function in the wine world, and your ability to enjoy the many facets of wine will be enhanced if you know more about the category. It’s called, quite simply, entry-level.

When I recommend a wine in this category to people seeking suggestions for what to drink with dinner I’m often met with a polite-ish sneer that seems to communicate, “Oh! My tastes are much more evolved than that.”

Folks often seem to equate entry-level with swill, so basic that it’s beneath them and couldn’t possibly be worth purchasing. Frequently and unfortunately, this is merely wine hubris.

What is an entry-level wine? By definition, it is an entrance to something. You might ask, what is it an entrance to? Since entry-level wines are simple (by implication), and cheap, why would anyone in their right mind buy one? Shouldn’t we all be gunning for complex wines that aren’t cheap?

Two facets distinguish entry-level wines. First, they are made with an eye towards mass appeal. They are inexpensive enough that people in many economic brackets can buy them. Moreover, they are fruity and cute – simple and uncomplicated – enough that most people who buy them won’t hate them. Entry-level wines tend to be young and fresh, crafted to be enjoyed right now, not saved for years to come.

The second facet is less obvious and more abstract. Entry-level wines are an entrance to the overall winemaking style of a winery. A given winery might make a dozen different wines that range from fairly inexpensive to fairly expensive. If you know nothing about how the winery makes their wine and you would like to figure it out, which end of the expense spectrum should you select?

I will always select from a winery’s inexpensive entry-level offerings first. Obviously. Why would I risk starting with an expensive bottle? What if I hated the house’s style? I’d rather spend $15 to figure it out than $150. It’s common sense. If you enjoy the entry-level stuff, if you understand and appreciate the winery’s style, you might be ready for their top-tier offerings.

What are some of these entry-level wines that I would suggest? I’m glad you asked. Here are a couple I’ve really enjoyed. Maybe you will too.

The winery of St. Cosme has been noted in historical documents as far back as 1417. The Barruol family acquired the property in 1570 and remain its stewards still. They produce a slew of fantastic single-vineyard Gigondas – a grenache-based, Southern Rhone red wine, as well as one of my favorite Chateauneuf-du-Papes.

Their entry-level offerings go by the name of Little James Basket Press Blanc and Rouge, a nod to the traditional method of pressing grapes, which they employ. The red is 100 percent grenache, fermented in concrete tanks and juicy in the way that only grenache can be. The blanc has possessed me for a while. It’s a 50/50 blend of sauvignon blanc and viognier. It tastes like flowers and gooseberries and apricots fell into the same bottle of wine. Really good. National Distributors brings in the St. Cosme wines.

Another great entry-level style wine is the La Vieille Ferme Blanc. Now, I do not usually recommend wines with cute animals on the labels, but this one is different. The Perrin family has been making wines in the Rhone valley since 1909. They have become famous for their Chateauneuf-du-Papes, both white and red. Their entry-level wines, the La Vieille Ferme series, are fantastic, and, when you consider the price, they get even better.

The La Vieille Ferme Blanc is my favorite. You can buy a magnum for under $15 and you get a wine that punches well above its weight. I often compare drinking wines to the seasonal produce and flowers they conjure up. This bottle is floral without smelling like your grandmother’s bathroom. The fruit is clean and not sweet. Nappi Distributors brings in this inexpensive, but well worth it wine.

Entry-level wines are a great way to get a handle on a winery’s style. You don’t have to spend half your paycheck to figure out if a particular winery makes wines you’ll enjoy. You can do it on the cheap. And, in some cases, they’re a great way to drink wine made by experts at a price that almost anyone can afford. It would be foolish to overlook entry-level wines: They might just have something to teach you.

Bryan Flewelling is the wine director for Big Tree Hospitality, which owns three restaurants in Portland: Hugo’s, Eventide Oyster Co. and The Honey Paw.

]]> 0, 26 Sep 2017 18:34:44 +0000
Hannaford gives $140,000 to Maine groups trying to ease hunger Tue, 26 Sep 2017 19:45:14 +0000 Maine’s network of farmers and community organizations that help feed the hungry will receive a $140,000 boost from Hannaford, the supermarket chain announced Tuesday.

The funds will be divided among three Maine groups. The Good Shepherd Food Bank, which gathers donated food and works with a statewide network to distribute it throughout the state, will receive $100,000. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one in six Mainers is food insecure, meaning they live without reliable access to affordable, nutritious food. The number is even higher for Maine children, with one in four described as food insecure.

“This funding will allow us to purchase nutritious food from our local farm partners and test out innovative new methods for distributing the food to the most rural and under-served area of our state,” said Nancy Perry, program manager for Mainers Feeding Mainers, Good Shepherd Food Bank’s local foods program.

Cultivating Community in Portland was awarded $30,000. Cultivating Community leads training for New American farmers in Lewiston, Lisbon and elsewhere, and works with the city of Portland to expand and manage community gardens, including the Boyd Street Urban Farm in East Bayside, where Hannaford made its announcement. Among Cultivating Community’s many innovative programs is the Good Food Bus, a mobile food market which helps bring local food to customers in Auburn, Bath, Gorham, Lewiston and Westbrook. Craig Lapine, Cultivating Community’s executive director, said the group plans to use its $30,000 donation to further expand access to healthy food and to land for growing food, as well as to build community for people of all ages who are socially and economically disadvantaged.

The third recipient is Full Plates Full Potential in Portland. Justin Alfond, co-founder of the group, which aims to end child hunger in Maine, said in a release that Hannaford’s $10,000 donation means more students will have access to local produce. “Every day, nearly half of Maine children are eligible for free and reduced breakfast or lunch meals,” Alfond said.

The money for Maine programs is part of a $407,000 donation across the five-state region Hannaford serves. The supermarket set up a challenge to customers earlier this year, promising to make a donation toward hunger relief every time a customer purchased an item rated with at least one star in the chain’s three-star system, Guiding Stars.

One star means a food ranks as “good” in terms of offering nutrition for its calories (a three star item ranks as “best nutritional value”).

Last year, Hannaford, which has 181 stores in the Northeast, donated 23 million pounds of meat, seafood, produce and packaged food to local pantries and food banks.

Mary Pols can be contacted at 791-6456 or at:

Twitter: MaryPols

]]> 0 Perry, program manager for Mainers Feeding Mainers, Good Shepherd Food Bank’s local foods program. I've also attached a copy of Julie's remarks, in case you wanted anything from those for the story.Tue, 26 Sep 2017 17:27:54 +0000
Tasting introduces Maine foodies to latest flavors from local chefs, growers Mon, 25 Sep 2017 01:54:54 +0000 UNITY — Audrey Bemis tasted a small piece of homemade bread topped with a dab of ricotta cheese and Valen-Thyme Jam.

“That’s very good,” she said. “I think my grandchild might like it. Sometimes with little kids, it’s hard to get them enthused about vegetables.”

The jam, made with a new variety of grape tomato offered by Johnny’s Selected Seeds, was available for tasting Sunday at the second annual Seed to Table Variety Tasting at the Unity Schoolhouse, the site of the Unity Food Hub on Route 139.

Plant breeders, growers, chefs and local food enthusiasts took part in the event, hosted by Johnny’s and the Food Hub.

Two rooms in the renovated schoolhouse had tables with colorful squash, tomatoes, onions, peppers, greens, cucumbers and other vegetables beside samples of dishes cooked up in the kitchen by chefs from popular eateries – such as Melissa Kelly of Primo in Rockland, Frank Giglio of Three Lily Provisions in Thorndike, Jenn Legnini of Turtle Rock Farm in Brunswick and Morgan Kerr of Resurgam Hot Sauce in Portland.

Farmers and growers, besides Johnny’s, included Ben Rooney of Wild Folk Farm in Benton, Victoria Marshall of Dorolenna Farm in Montville, Courtney Williams of Marr Pond Farm in Sangerville and Nate Drummond of Six River Farm in Bowdoinham.

The bright, airy schoolhouse with hardwood floors and tall windows was decorated for the harvest, with produce displayed in glass vases and large bouquets of flowers placed throughout.

Emily Rose Haga, a tomato and pepper breeder for Johnny’s, said she and others try to develop flavorful, beautiful, disease-resistant and well-performing varieties. Sunday’s event was fun because breeders had the opportunity to work with local growers and chefs, and visitors got to taste-test, she said.

“This is really the first time the public can come and try these varieties. This is what makes it so special.”

Emily Rose Haga, a tomato and pepper breeder at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, sets up at the Seed to Table Variety Tasting. Johnny’s has locations in Fairfield, Winslow and Albion. Staff photo by David Leaming

Haga, 33, who holds a master’s degree in plant breeding and a bachelor’s in science and horticulture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the newly released grape tomato that Bemis tasted is high in lycopene, a red carotene pigment that is a powerful antioxidant. The cylindrical-shaped tomato was developed in collaboration with Rob Johnston, a public plant breeder at Pennsylvania State University, she said.

“It took him about 20 years to incorporate this high-lycopene color from a wild tomato species,” she said.

Johnston did the pre-breeding, which provided material Haga could work with, she said.

A Wisconsin native, Haga said she enjoys working in central Maine.

“It’s a really exciting area to be in for people who are in my field because there’s a lot of energy around farmers markets and people directly selling their produce to consumers,” she said. “The Food Hub is an amazing place for us to partner with.”

The Food Hub collects, markets and distributes Maine-grown foods throughout northern New England.

Johnny’s sells seeds around the U.S. and Canada, as well as in Europe and Asian countries, and has three locations: a marketing sales office in Fairfield; a seed storage, packing, shipping and distribution center in Winslow; and a research farm where Haga works in Albion.

Judy Ottmann of Belfast nibbled on a flax cracker with roasted acorn squash, scallop salt and garam masala, an Indian spice blend.

Two big tables at the renovated Unity schoolhouse featured an array of produce Sunday, such as these grape tomatoes. Staff photo by David Leaming

“It’s very delicious,” she said. “It’s really out of this world and something I would try to recreate.”

Ottmann’s son, Henry Ginsberg, and his partners, Morgan Kerr and Thomas Tutor, own Resurgam, a Portland-based business that makes hot sauces. They were displaying Original Leek, a red hot pepper sauce made with leeks. People were tasting the sauce by itself and on a piece of bok choy with ricotta.

“It is a lacto-fermented hot sauce,” Ginsberg said of the sauce, available at cooperatives in Belfast and Portland, as well as at Otherside Delicatessen in Portland.

Meanwhile, Audrey Bemis and her husband, Raymond, of Harmony, who are gardeners, perused varieties of squash displayed by Lindsay Wyatt, Johnny’s squash breeder who helped organize Sunday’s event with Colleen Hanlon-Smith of Unity Food Hub.

Audrey Bemis tasted a small piece of squash labeled “experimental.”

“It’s very good and it’s very interesting to taste the subtle differences in squash plants,” she said.

Wyatt said organizers last year put together the event in a short period of time, so it was somewhat last-minute.

“This year, we’ve had an entire year to plan, which is great,” she said.

Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

Twitter: AmyCalder17

]]> 0 big tables at the renovated Unity schoolhouse featured an array of produce Sunday, such as these grape tomatoes. Staff photo by David LeamingMon, 25 Sep 2017 12:49:17 +0000