Food – Press Herald Wed, 26 Apr 2017 21:41:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 El Corazon will open a new restaurant in May Wed, 26 Apr 2017 19:37:19 +0000 Another Portland food truck is opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant, this time in Longfellow Square.

The owners of El Corazon, a Mexican food truck that has been serving the Portland area since 2013, announced on Facebook that will open a restaurant in early May at 190 State St., the former home of Petite Jacqueline and Evangeline. (The Otto pizza group was supposed to open a burrito shop there, but those plans have been on hold for months.)

Restaurante El Corazon will serve both large and small plates, and offer an “oversized tequila selection.”

Fans of the El Corazon food truck need not worry: It will continue to motor about town.


]]> 0, 26 Apr 2017 16:05:28 +0000
Treat strawberries as if they were cannoli Wed, 26 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 I developed this recipe to take advantage of strawberry season. Some of you are naturally scratching your heads. “Strawberry season? Name a time of year that isn’t strawberry season.” And it certainly can feel that way.

Strawberries are grown in all 50 states and, depending on the state, the season can be as short as a few weeks or as long as 11 months. But the heart of the strawberry season – the sweet spot of the year when you can find juicy, delicious and locally grown strawberries at your supermarket or farmers market – is April through June. (In Maine, it’s June and July.)

Here are a few tips about how to buy and store strawberries.

Start by selecting the specimens that are unblemished and smooth and, most important, bright red from tip to tail. Then, pick one up and take a whiff. It should smell strongly of … strawberries.

When you get the winners home, put a layer of them in a shallow bowl lined with paper towels. Cover and store the berries in the refrigerator and try to eat them within a few days. (Local strawberries are more perishable than the commercial varieties.)

Do not wash or hull the berries until right before you’re ready to eat them.

When the moment arrives, simply put the strawberries in a colander and run some cold water over them. Then lift them out and let them drain on paper towels.

What makes this recipe Italian? The filling used to stuff these berries is a twist on the mixture of ricotta cheese, candied orange and chocolate that’s piped into cannoli. The difference is that I substituted Neufchatel for ricotta because it’s tangier and more assertive and teams up better with the berries.

This dessert is a simple and elegant way to end a meal now that spring has sprung – and it only takes 20 minutes to make. You can even prep the strawberries and stuffing ahead. But don’t stuff them until the last minute. You don’t want the sugar in the filling to make the berries soggy.


Makes 4 servings

1 pound strawberries

2 ounces Neufchatel or one-third less-fat cream cheese (about 1/4 cup), softened

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 ounce bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Cut each strawberry in half lengthwise through the cap. Arrange the strawberry halves, cut side up, on a serving plate. Trim a thin slice from the bottom if necessary to make each half sit evenly.

Using a small spoon or melon baller, scoop out a hollow in the center of the cut side of each strawberry. Reserve the strawberry scraps for another use (or eat them).

In a small bowl combine the cream cheese and sugar; stir in the chocolate and orange zest. Divide the cream cheese mixture into the hollows in the strawberries and serve.

Note: You can prepare the strawberries and the filling several hours ahead of time but do not stuff the strawberries until right before serving.

]]> 0, 25 Apr 2017 17:39:34 +0000
‘Rise and Shine’ breaks the bland breakfast routine Wed, 26 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “Rise & Shine: Better Breakfasts for Busy Mornings.” By Katie Sullivan Morford. Roost Books. $24.95.

I am not a morning person.

I set multiple alarms and usually hit “snooze” for at least two of them. I have mastered the 4-minute shower for mornings when I oversleep. And I groggily eat the same unsatisfying breakfast every morning before work: yogurt, sometimes mixed with cereal and fruit.

Hoping to break my routine, I turned to “Rise & Shine: Better Breakfasts for Busy Mornings” by Katie Sullivan Morford.

This book is geared toward parents with children, like Morford. I don’t have children, but I do revert to my cranky 13-year-old self before I’ve had my morning coffee.

“In the process of writing this book, nearly everyone I spoke to responded the same way: with an enthusiastic ‘I LOOOOVE breakfast.’ Yet many of these same folks confessed that breakfast often gets the shaft. This book intends to change that,” Morford writes.

Morford is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition from New York University. She wrote her cookbook with an emphasis on using fresh ingredients over packaged foods. In that spirit, an entire chapter is dedicated to grocery shopping for a balanced breakfast. When a homemade breakfast isn’t an option, charts scattered throughout offer lists of her preferred healthy brands for cereal and other breakfast staples. Her suggestions are thorough and informative, but certainly more expensive than the cereal boxes that stocked my family’s pantry in my childhood.

Morford also includes a chart to “remodel your breakfast,” which provides healthier alternatives for traditional morning meals. I made a note of her recommendations to upgrade a cup of strawberry yogurt: plain yogurt with strawberries and one of the granola recipes in her book. The switch allows for more protein, less refined sugar, more nutrients and more fiber to start the day, she says. Some of the ingredients in the Apricot Ginger Cluster Granola – flaxseed, spelt, hemp – are not usually on my shopping list, but Morford did suggest several substitutes if they can’t be found in the grocery store.

Many of the 75 recipes in “Rise & Shine” offer homemade alternatives to store-bought staples – including Make-and-Freeze Buttermilk Waffles, Freezer-Friendly Breakfast Burritos and Homemade “Better than Boxed” Instant Oatmeal. I quickly realized Morford’s key to busy mornings is strategic planning. Almost every recipe includes instructions for preparing part of the dish ahead of time and reheating leftovers.

I always complain that cooking eggs before work requires too much time, but the recipe for Muffin-Tin Baked Eggs promises they will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. A whole chapter is dedicated to make-ahead muffins, breads and bars. Buckwheat Blender Crepes were a surprisingly easy recipe in the chapter on “Weekend Favorites,” and if my boyfriend and I hadn’t enjoyed them so much and finished the dish, I would have taken up Morford’s suggestion to reheat them in a skillet the next day. Same with Big Joe’s Huevos Rancheros, another weekend breakfast meant to supply leftovers but too tasty to resist seconds.

Some recipes require little to no cooking, like all the ideas in the chapters on toast toppings, yogurt bowls and smoothies. Others require kitchen tools I don’t own, like a waffle iron or a crepe pan. (Luckily, Morford gave detailed instructions for making crepes in a regular skillet, which I found worked well.) Some were illustrated with photos, but not all. But most made me feel like I could liven up my yogurt without setting my alarm for the crack of dawn. It might require a longer grocery list and an evening of prep work, but Morford’s book chips away at my excuses for my bland breakfast routine. Perhaps a busy family – the target audience for this cookbook – would find those adjustments more difficult, but they don’t ask too much of a childless adult like me.

Maybe I’ll become a morning person someday, but in the meantime, at least I’ll eat a better breakfast.


A note on the ingredients: I like my food spicy, so I added three chipotle chiles instead of one.

Makes 4 large or 8 small servings

6 bacon slices

1 medium onion, finely chopped

One (28-ounce can) diced tomatoes, with liquid

1/2 cup water

1 chipotle chile en adobo, minced into a puree (about 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a generous pinch, divided

2/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro, divided

8 eggs

8 corn or small flour tortillas

1 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese

Sliced avocado or sour cream, for serving (optional)

1. Set a large skillet over medium heat. Lay the bacon slices flat in the pan. Cook until the slices are deeply browned on one side and begin to curl up, about 5 minutes. Using a fork, turn the slices over and cook the second side until browned and most of the fat is rendered, another 3 minutes or so. Transfer to a plate covered with a couple of paper towels to absorb the drippings. When they are cool enough to handle, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces.

2. Pour off all but about 2 teaspoons of the bacon fat from the pan and return to medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender and translucent, scraping up any tiny bacon bits in the bottom of the pan. Add the chopped bacon, tomatoes with their liquid, water, chipotle, lime juice, and 1 teaspoon of the salt to the pan. Stir well. Adjust the heat so the sauce simmers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes soften and a little of the liquid cooks off, about 10 minutes. It should look like a thick, chunky sauce. If it appears too dry, add 2 tablespoons more water.

3. Add half the cilantro and stir. Crack the eggs into the sauce, spacing them evenly in the pan, and sprinkle a generous pinch of salt over the top. Set a lid, large pot, or a piece of aluminum foil over the skillet so that it’s completely covered (I inverted a wok on top of the pan). Simmer the eggs, adjusting the heat as needed, until done to your liking. For runny eggs, the whites should be cooked but the yolks still soft to the touch, about 6 or 8 minutes. Hard-cooked eggs will take an additional 2 minutes or so.

4. While the eggs are cooking, heat the tortillas in another skillet set over high heat or directly on the burner if you have a gas range, quickly warming each side. You want the tortillas warm and maybe a little blistered, but not crispy. Wrap in a napkin or a dish towel to keep warm until ready to eat.

5. When the eggs are done, scatter the cheese and the remaining cilantro over the top. Serve right from the pan: spoon an egg and plenty of sauce onto a tortilla and top with avocado and sour cream, if desired. Eat like a very messy taco, or use a fork and knife.

To make ahead: Follow the recipe until just before adding the eggs (through the first addition of cilantro) and store the sauce in the fridge overnight. To prepare the dish the next day, reheat the sauce, add the eggs, and continue the recipe. You may need to add a little more water when reheating. Leftovers keep well for up to 2 days.

]]> 0, 25 Apr 2017 17:33:23 +0000
MamaSezz delivers meals inspired by a mother’s return to health Wed, 26 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Among the recent wave of meal delivery companies shipping to nearby doorsteps, one stands out for its ties to Maine and its organic, vegan menu. MamaSezz was launched last year by Maine native Meg Donahue and her wife, Lisa Lorimer, former CEO of the all-organic Vermont Bread Company.

Lorimer retired in 2005 when she sold the large northeastern bakery to a private equity firm. She wasn’t looking for a new business, Lorimer said. However, she and Donahue, who’d recently had a baby, say they were propelled into this career by a sense of social responsibility.

“There’s a need out there to get this food and message out to the people,” Lorimer told me by phone. “It is changing people’s lives.”

The urgency in Lorimer’s voice comes from personal experience.

Six years ago Donahue’s mother, Millie, was referred to hospice care in Scarborough for end-stage congestive heart failure. Soon after, Lorimer and Donahue moved her to their home in Vermont, intending to make her comfortable during her final days.

“She was so sick,” Donahue recalled when we spoke by phone. “The medics were at the house regularly reviving her. I was making biweekly calls to my siblings saying, ‘This is it. You have to come.’ ”

Everything changed when a Google search turned up information about treating congestive heart failure with a plant-based diet.

“I started feeding her smoothies because eating a salad took too much energy, she was that weak,” Donahue said. “I made green smoothies, adding hemp and chia for a little extra oomph.” As her mom began to eat more, Donahue began feeding her plant-based soups.

Millie Donahue, now 86, told me by phone that her memories of this time aren’t very sharp, yet she does remember the severity of her illness and the fact that walking five feet to the bathroom was nearly impossible.

“I was very sick, and I couldn’t eat anything,” Millie said. “I knew I was going downhill. I didn’t think I could even get out of bed.”

The switch to plant-based food made all the difference, both mother and daughter confirm.

“She gradually stabilized over a year,” Donahue said. “She kept getting better and better.” Today, Millie swims four times a week, drives herself wherever she needs to go and says, “I feel 100 percent better.”

Witnessing such a transformation at close range had a profound impact on the couple, causing Lorimer, Donahue and their daughter to adopt a vegan diet. Yet they faced a challenge familiar to many families: How to get the food they wanted on the table fast.

Not only did they want it to be vegan but they wanted it to be gluten-free and plant-based, meaning no added oils, refined sugars or preservatives. They couldn’t find a meal delivery company that met all their needs.

“We’re all busy and we want to cook this way, but it takes a lot of time,” Donahue said. “We wanted to make it super easy. To lower that bar to entry” for people interested in trying out a plant-based diet.

So they founded MamaSezz. Along the way Donahue picked up a certificate in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University’s T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, and Lorimer used her skills and contacts from the bakery days to get the food business up and running.

Soon they were shipping prepared meals delivered fresh rather than frozen at a cost of less than $5 per meal. (Shipping is free on orders of $89 or more). Meals – all veganized comfort foods such as Millie’s Chili, Love It Loaf, Mac Attack Stack, Gardener’s Pie and Harvest Stew – are designed to be heated and enjoyed as is or incorporated into other dishes. For instance, suggested uses for the veggie loaf include cutting it into veggie burgers, crumbling it into a taco filling and adding it to spaghetti sauce.

Gardener’s Pie, a vegan version of shepherd’s pie, is one of the dishes available from MamaSezz. Photo courtesy of MamaSezz

As with everything vegan these days, the customers ordering from MamaSezz aren’t necessarily vegans. Laurie Fisher of Cumberland Foreside is a regular MamaSezz customer. She travels often and likes the convenience of ordering delivery meals when she is home in Maine. Before discovering MamaSezz, she tried many other delivery companies but said she “was mostly frustrated that healthy is defined so inconsistently. If the meal is saturated with salt or oil, for instance, it is not healthy.” Also, she was looking for a meal delivery company that uses organic food.

Then a friend told her about MamaSezz, and it checked all the boxes. Fisher describes the MamaSezz meals as “healthy, satisfying and full of flavor” and orders from them about twice a month. As a pescatarian who eats fish and eggs, Fisher often adds these to the vegan meals.

Joy Russell of Providence, Rhode Island, is another regular MamaSezz customer who isn’t a vegan but is interested in eating vegetarian food because of her Christian faith. “As a single mom, I wanted easy food,” Russell said. “When I saw their site, I was amazed at the offerings. The prices are great and let me tell you for the food you get, it lasts.”

One of the recommended ways to serve the MamaSezz veggie loaf is as a veggie burger. Photo courtesy of MamaSezz

Each MamaSezz meal generally serves four, and will last in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. The box comes with a FedEx return label and packing tape, and customers return the box and packaging material (including all the food packaging) so MamaSezz can reuse and recycle it.

Business has been brisk, and the company just expanded its FedEx delivery range to the whole East Coast (as far south as Florida and as far west as Illinois and Alabama). MamaSezz recently opened a storefront in Brattleboro, Vermont; its production facility is in Keene, New Hampshire.

For her part, Millie Donahue continues to eat a plant-based diet that is mostly vegan (except for the occasional ice cream cone). Donahue, who grew up eating meat and potatoes in Fairfield, now looks at what her peers eat and the health challenges they confront and sees plant-based eating as the future.

“Every day I get up and plant these two feet on the floor and say, ‘Thank you dear God,’ ” Millie said. “I never in God’s world thought I would feel this good. I’m living rather than existing. There’s not enough time in the day to do the things I want to do.”

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

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

]]> 0 of the recommended ways to serve the MamaSezz veggie loaf is as a veggie burger.Tue, 25 Apr 2017 17:20:53 +0000
Beloved Le Garage bids adieu to Wiscasset Wed, 26 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 WISCASSET — Twice a month, for two or three decades, Charles and Stanley Wick have had lunch together at their favorite restaurant, Le Garage. Ever since hearing the news that it is closing on Sunday, they have eaten there twice a week.

On a recent Friday, the brothers – both retired residents of Damariscotta – enjoyed bowls of French onion soup at a table overlooking the Sheepscot River and reminisced about eating at Le Garage when their parents were still alive.

Stanley Wick still tears up thinking about how kind the staff was when they heard his mother had died. He got hugs.

“We don’t see it as a restaurant,” he said. “We see it as a part of our lives, our family.”

Le Garage has been in Wiscasset for 40 years – longer if you count its beginnings as a small take-out spot that sold sandwiches, chowder and ice cream – and some of its employees have been there nearly as long. Alan Dodge, the chef, has cooked at Le Garage for more than 32 years. Barbara Wyman has been a server there nearly 37 years, since the summer of 1980. Others on the staff can’t boast that kind of extreme longevity but still have impressive employment records, especially considering that today many restaurant owners complain they can’t keep employees six months.

Linda Verney, the chef’s sister-in-law, started working as a server in 2006 after a short stint as a bartender in the mid-1990s. Danny Peters has washed dishes for 19 years. Daphne Cromwell has been at Le Garage for about 20 years, and during one summer in the late 1990s three generations of her family worked there – Cromwell was a server, her mother was the hostess, and her daughter bused tables.

Such loyalty from the staff has helped create loyal customers and turned Le Garage into a family restaurant – not in the traditional sense, but by fostering a feeling of family among those who work and eat there.

“We fight just like family too,” Dodge said, laughing. Then he turned serious.

“If somebody’s sick, everybody wants to know what’s going on with them,” he continued. “If somebody’s crabby, we try to find out why.”

In its heyday, Le Garage was a destination restaurant in Maine. Gourmet magazine featured the seafood platter Dodge created when the restaurant first opened; he broiled the seafood because he had no fryolator in the kitchen. Bon Appetit, owner Cheryl Rust recalled, did a spread on Tree Richardson, the Westport Island woman who was the baker at Le Garage from age 66 until she finally retired at 94.

Over the years a few celebrities discovered the place, including Walter Cronkite, legendary Associated Press White House reporter Helen Thomas, a teenage John F. Kennedy Jr., and former first lady Barbara Bush. Beau Bridges visited Le Bar, the cozy bar Rust added downstairs, while he was in Maine filming “Signs of Life” in 1988; the actor said, Dodge recalled, that he liked the wine list.

Le Garage got its name because in the early 20th century it was an auto and engine repair shop. Today, it’s a beautiful cream-colored structure made of formed metal that looks like chiseled fieldstone, with a hip roof. It could have been transported to the banks of the Sheepscot from a field in France, except for one feature that hints of its past – two big, weathered garage doors, painted blue, on either side of the entrance.

Linda Verney delivers food to the dining room. Verney has worked at Le Garage in one capacity or another for 14 years. “I still feel like the new kid,” she jokes. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Inside, hanging near the hostess area, are old black-and-white photographs of workers in the garage. Nearby is a more recent photo, a large image of a young Dodge and five grinning, fresh-faced employees posing by a vintage Cadillac convertible that parked in front of the restaurant one day in 1984. (Bruce Springsteen released “Pink Cadillac” that year.)

As Dodge – much older now but still sporting wavy brown hair – reminisces in the dining room, a young man on his way out the door stops to shake his hand.

“I came back to eat one last time,” the man said. “Good luck to you, sir. Thank you for keeping me on when you shouldn’t have.”

Dodge explained that the young man once worked as a dishwasher. Dishwashers are usually kids, he said, “so they’re always doing something wrong.” But because they are so young, he doesn’t consider anything they do, really, a fireable offense.

Wyman, the server, says she thinks the kind of employee longevity seen at Le Garage is more common in rural Maine, where there’s often not much work to go around. But nationally, it is unusual.

According to a 2014 restaurant workforce survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association’s Educational Foundation, about half of all restaurant employees 35 and older have worked for five or more restaurant or foodservice businesses during their career. Only 3 percent of chefs/cooks have worked for just one restaurant.

Dodge himself started at another restaurant. When he was a freshman in high school, he washed dishes at the Dodge Inn restaurant (no relation) in Edgecomb, just across the bridge, and over the years worked his way up to head chef. At age 19, he got a call from Crosby and Charlotte Hodgman, owners of the early take-out version of Le Garage, asking if he wanted to buy the business. Dodge declined, then got another call from Crosby Hodgman informing him they had sold the restaurant to Hodgman’s stepdaughter (Charlotte Hodgman’s daughter), Cheryl Rust, and asking if he would consider being the chef. Dodge agreed.

Forty years later, the kitchen at Le Garage is twice the size it was when Dodge, now 60, started. In 1986, Rust added a bakery as well as Le Bar, which offered locals a place to unwind. The view of the Sheepscot from the upstairs dining room is still stunning, despite the removal in the late 1990s of the Hester and Luther Little, two schooners abandoned in the harbor for decades that had become popular local attractions.


Le Garage now has 25 year-round employees, and the staff swells to 35-40 in the summer. It has felt a lot like summer at Le Garage lately, ever since Rust announced her retirement.

“We’re doing a summer business with a winter crew,” Wyman said in between checking on tables.

The restaurant is getting more than twice the number of reservations it normally does at this time of year. There are 170 seats, if you include the seating in Le Bar, and on a recent weeknight 83 customers came in. A fan trying to squeeze in one last dinner drove up from Philadelphia, then drove back the next day.

“I’ve never seen it so busy,” said Brittany West of Damariscotta, who got her first job at age 15 washing dishes here and now, 15 years later, works as a part-time server.

Chef Al Dodge, who has cooked at Le Garage for more than 32 years, prepares salmon fillets. The restaurant – a midcoast mainstay since the 1970s – will close its doors on Sunday. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Dodge has had to bring back former employees to help out, including architectural designer Lynn Talacko, who worked summers here for about five years starting in the late 1970s, when he was in college. After he graduated, he continued to work two or three nights a week for years, “just to get some extra money.” He came back about a month ago at Dodge’s request.

“Al was desperate,” Talacko said, only half joking.

Matt Craig, who worked at Le Garage 11 years, is back behind the line, tossing pasta and folding crepes, and Nate Ridley calls out orders for Reubens, omelettes and plates of creamed finnan haddie on toast.

To keep up with demand, Dodge is making seven-pound batches of creamed finnan haddie daily – it’s his grandmother’s recipe.

Customers cite the New England-style menu as a reason they’ve embraced the restaurant over the years – dishes like crab cakes, lobster stew, lobster rolls, pot roast and homemade chicken pie. They weren’t happy when Dodge left the restaurant in 2009 after his father died. He had lost his energy and creativity after 32 years, so took the summer off to ride his motorcycle. “In this business,” he said, “we never get to see summer, so I felt like a kid in the candy store the first year I wasn’t here.”

Dodge stayed away a few years, working construction, doing maintenance for a vacation rental business, and working in food service at Bowdoin College. The restaurant hired a succession of chefs to replace him, and customers still talk about that period as if they had taken a bad cruise. “Al went away for a while and we went through a series of chefs,” Schildroth said. “Some of them we got trained properly, and some of them we didn’t.”

Dodge came back to the Le Garage kitchen last August, just as two prep cooks were retiring – one had been at the restaurant for 27 years, the other for 25.

“I think it was hard on everybody” when Dodge left, said James Schildroth, a local architect who eats lunch every day at Le Garage. “I was glad when he came back.”

Schildroth sits at the same table every day, sometimes with a client but usually alone. A large label with his name on it is stuck to the wall above the table, serving as a permanent lunch reservation. Schildroth has been here from the beginning, ever since Rust called him in 1977 for help designing a stairway, and for advice on winterizing a screened-in porch.

“I’m good friends with the people here,” he said, “and it’s part of my routine to come down and have lunch and kibbutz with all the wait staff and the cooks and the chef.”

Linda Verney arrives and asks, “Are you ready to order?”

“I’m going to have the pot roast,” Schildroth replies.

They talk in their own shorthand.

“Mashed potato,” she says.

“Gravy, if you’ve got any,” he says.

“Green beans.”

“Oh boy.”

“OK, gotcha.”

Verney, who lives in Alna, wears her light hair pulled back, with a pair of rhinestone-studded glasses perched on her head. Her nails are painted bright pink. She chats expressively with her customers, especially a table of four women she knows. She’s the kind of old-fashioned waitress who says things like “See ya, honey.”


Although Verney looks forward to spending more time with her grandchildren, she’s going to miss what has become her family – and she doesn’t mean just her brother-in-law.

“We take care of each other,” she said.

Wyman, who is looking forward to her first summer off in 36 years, agrees.

“People just help each other out, not only inside the restaurant but outside the restaurant,” she said. “I had to move my mother’s bed from one nursing home to another. I didn’t have a truck and Linda did, so she lent me the truck and her physicality and helped me move my mom’s bed.”

When an employee who was a single mother needed her house painted quickly, or risk losing a loan she desperately needed, Dodge recruited co-workers to help.

“A whole mess of us went up and we scraped and puttied and painted and turned that house into a wonder in a day,” Rust recalled.

West said if former employees come in struggling, Dodge will find something for them to do.

“The people who have no cars, no places to live, he helps them get a job and get money in their pockets,” she said. “He’s very caring.”

Rust says Dodge is “like a brother” to her.

“I just have enormous respect and affection for him,” she said. “The only time I ever really saw him get mad was when he kicked out a line chef for being rude to a dishwasher.”

Wyman, a former teacher, said the family atmosphere extends to dealing with customers. “A lot of people will come in and say ‘How was your teaching year this year?’ Or ‘I remember you retired. How has your year been?’ ” she said. “So they remember you.”

West has fond memories of an elderly customer from Damariscotta named Arlene who always arrived dressed to the nines and drank her martini with a straw.

“I told her she was my grandmother because she didn’t have any grandkids,” West said. “She came in twice, three times a week.”

As her health failed, Arlene wrote West a letter to say she would never forget her. She left the waitress a bracelet in her will.

Rust says the Le Garage building has long been paid off, and she has no debt. She is simply tired. She is selling the building (asking price $775,000) and hopes it may attract another restaurateur.

Employees have already made plans for life after Le Garage. Dodge will return to his vacation rental job. West will work at King Eider’s Pub in Damariscotta. Varney plans to nurture two side businesses she owns. Peters, the dishwasher, has a job lined up at Hancock Lumber in Damariscotta.

The customers will have to move on as well.

The Wick brothers say they’ll probably start going to the Cupboard Café in New Harbor. Schildroth said his other favorite restaurant is Moody’s Diner, but it’s too far away to eat lunch there every day.

“I’ve got to eat somewhere,” he said, “but it’s not going to be here, I guess.”

]]> 0 Wyman leaves the bustling kitchen at Le Garage with a full tray of food.Wed, 26 Apr 2017 08:32:55 +0000
Greek sauce brightens spring asparagus Wed, 26 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 A Greek avgolemono sauce is a reminder of the simple wonder of cooking. Whenever I whip one up, I feel like I am making magic. By applying an easy technique to a few everyday ingredients – egg (“avgo,” in Greek), lemon juice and broth – you get a lusciously silky, tangy sauce that turns just about any cooked vegetable, fish or poultry into an elegant dish, and in a healthful way, to boot.

To make it, you whisk together an egg and a couple of tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, optionally adding a little cornstarch for a thicker, more stable sauce. While continuing to whisk, slowly add some simmering broth to temper the egg. (I used chicken broth in the accompanying recipe, but vegetable broth works too, as would fish stock if you were serving over seafood.)

Then pour the tempered egg mixture into the pot containing the remaining hot broth, stirring constantly, until it has thickened into a glossy, pale-yellow sauce. The transformation is fast and stunning, and the process is not at all difficult. It just needs your attention for about five minutes, stirring and regulating the heat so the mixture doesn’t come to a boil and coagulate.

It’s so quick and simple that even if you somehow mess it up the first time, you can just whip up another one, barely missing a beat. Although the sauce feels right any time of year, its pastel color and bright flavor are especially well suited for spring and for gracing another staple of the season: steamed asparagus.


Avgolemono is a lusciously silky, brightly citrusy Greek sauce made with egg and lemon juice that can be drizzled liberally over anything from vegetables and poultry to fish. It takes just 5 minutes to whip up, and it’s healthful to boot.

The sauce can be refrigerated a day in advance.

Makes 4 servings

1/3 cup no-salt-added chicken broth

1 large egg

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 bunch (14 to 16 ounces) asparagus, tough ends trimmed

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish

Bring about 2 inches of water to a rapid boil in a large pot fitted with a collapsible metal steamer.

Heat the broth in a medium saucepan over medium heat; once it bubbles at the edges, reduce the heat to low.

Whisk the egg in a medium bowl until foamy, then add the lemon juice and cornstarch, whisking until incorporated. Gradually add 2 tablespoons of the hot broth to the egg mixture, constantly whisking to incorporate.

Pour the tempered mixture into the saucepan with the remaining broth (over low heat); cook, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes, to form a lightly thickened sauce. Remove from the heat, stir in the salt and cover to keep warm.

Place the asparagus spears in the steamer basket, cover and steam for 3 to 6 minutes (depending on their thickness), until crisp-tender.

Serve the asparagus drizzled with the sauce and garnished with the parsley leaves.

]]> 0, 25 Apr 2017 17:45:00 +0000
Doctor’s advice for a happier, healthier brain put to the test Sun, 23 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Dr. Drew Ramsey has an interesting spin on eating mindfully.

He is a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and one of modern medicine’s leading proponents of a nutrition-based approach to clinical mental health treatment. The right foods can help as much as the right medications is his point.

He has written several books on the topic. The first, a cookbook called “Fifty Shades of Kale,” tries to make nutrient-dense kale look sexy while explaining how it plays a huge role in brain health. The second, more of a lifestyle book, called “The Happiness Diet,” tells readers how to avoid the common “mood busters” (sugar, bad fats, chemical additives and dangerous pesticides) commonly found in processed foods and to choose whole foods that give the brain the nutrients (magnesium, vitamin B12, iron, vitamin D and good fats) it needs for optimal health.

In his latest book, “Eat Complete: The 21 Nutrients That Fuel Brainpower, Boost Weight Loss and Transform Your Health,” he explains just how hungry the human brain is. It needs, at a minimum, 420 calories a day to simply function. Now I understand why my Fitbit tells me each morning that I’ve burned just about that much energy while I slept!

But they can’t be just empty calories, Ramsey says. He offers a prescription (and 100 seriously good-looking recipes) for how to get the recommended daily amounts of omega-3 fats, zinc, vitamins B9 and B12, magnesium, pre- and probiotics (the good bugs) and complete proteins that form the foundation of a healthy brain.

He outlines a strategy for consuming foods with enough vitamins A, D, E and K, phytonutrients, mono-unsaturated fats and selenium needed to protect your brain from free radicals (the waste) and inflammation. And he tells you how to get enough iron, vitamin B1 and C, choline, calcium, potassium and iodine to feel more energized.

Christine Burns Rudalevige gets recipe ideas from Dr. Drew Ramsey. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Could I combat my lingering winter blues without driving myself crazy driving around (an unsustainable activity in and of itself) looking for obscure health foods that are neither local nor sustainable for a Maine eater? This was the question I had on my mind in early March when I decided to give Ramsey’s approach a try. While nothing rescues me from the tide of full moon emotions that wash over me, six weeks in I can honestly say I feel lighter, brighter and only a tad preoccupied by making the numbers work on my plate.

On the sustainability front, I only had to indulge in my usual winter non-local foods (avocados and lemons) and tap Canadian flax seeds to make it happen. Granted, I focused only on getting the foundation elements into my diet to keep myself sane amid the flurry of a busy life.

Including the good fats was easy. The best omega-3 fats are found in cold-water seafood like salmon, mackerel and sardines; shellfish like oysters, mussels and clams; eggs and meat from pastured animals; hearty brassicas like kale, Brussels sprouts and broccoli; and the ubiquitous (at least in this book) flaxseed (see cracker recipe). Ramsey says studies show that having enough of these in your diet can help fight depression, dementia and ADHD.

Forty-two percent of the American population is deficient in dietary zinc, so I assumed I was likely included in that statistic. But eating oysters, pumpkin seeds and ground local turkey and beef was a pretty accessible fix.

Recent blood tests told me I’ve not done what I needed to pull in the right amounts of B12, though. But local clam season is just around the corner: A 3-ounce serving will give me 1,401 percent of my recommended daily dose.

Magnesium – needed for the proper function of both nerve and brain cells – requires more cooked dried beans and uncooked leafy greens, both in good supply here in Maine year-round.

Wintertime B6 (aka folate) requirements needed to form S-adenosylmethionine, a substance in the brain used to make serotonin (a lack of which causes depression) can be met by eating chicken liver (which I don’t), chickpeas and Brussels sprouts in winter, but springtime asparagus and spinach will be a welcome change for me on this front.

I’ve never been good about good gut health, and that has likely prevented my body from fully absorbing the nutrients I do eat, Dr. Ramsey advises. He says I’ve got to both seed the gut with good bacteria from fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut and subsequently feed it with fibrous foods like navy beans (see hummus recipe), raspberries and collard greens. All widely available, sustainable options in Maine.

As with every eating regime I’ve tried that has made me count things – calories, glasses of water, points – this one made me keep track of nutrient intake, a process I found more complicated than I routinely have time for. So I can’t attest to a total conversion to Ramsey’s principles. But I do intend to use a bit of my noticeable extra energy eating this way to see if it continues to bring a brighter outlook on life for me.

Christine Burns Rudalevige is a recipe developer and tester and cooking teacher in Brunswick, and author of “Green Plate Special” (Islandport Press, May 2017). Contact her at:


Ingredients for Sunflower-Parmesan Crisps with Navy Bean-Rosemary Hummus. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellett


This recipe is adapted from one printed in Dr. Drew Ramsey’s “Eat Complete, a book on the nutrients to consume for optimum mental health.” This recipe is boosted, in Ramsey’s formula, by nutrient-rich salmon roe. Browne Trading Co. in Portland offers many options on that front.

Makes 24 crackers and 11/4 cups hummus

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup flax seeds

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup freshly grated local hard cheese (like City of Ships from Hahn’s End)

2 egg whites (from pastured chickens)

11/2 cups cooked navy beans

2 tablespoons finely minced fresh rosemary leaves

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/3 cup olive oil

Sea salt

2 ounces fish eggs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with a silicone mat.

Combine the sunflower and flax seeds in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse about 15 times so the sunflower seeds are finely chopped. Add the cheese and egg whites and pulse to combine the mixture into a thick batter.

Drop the batter by scant tablespoons onto the prepared sheet. Use a flat-bottomed glass or measuring cup to press the batter flat to a 1/8-inch thickness. Bake until the crackers are lightly browned around the edges, 10-12 minutes. Transfer the crackers to a baking rack to cool completely.

Wipe out the food processor bowl. Add the beans, rosemary, lemon juice, garlic and paprika to the bowl. Process until it forms a smooth paste. With the processor running, slowly add the oil and continue to process until creamy.

Season with salt to taste. Serve with the frico crackers and the fish eggs.

]]> 0 Burns Rudalevige gets recipe ideas from Dr. Drew Ramsey.Mon, 24 Apr 2017 13:30:22 +0000
Cousins Maine Lobster is coming home Fri, 21 Apr 2017 18:57:44 +0000 After Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac emerged from ABC’s “Shark Tank” in 2012 with a $55,000 investment in their business, Cousins Maine Lobster, they opened 25 lobster-themed food trucks around the country. But they’ve never parked one of them in Maine.

That’s like not serving hot dogs at the ballpark.

All that is about to change. Cousins Maine Lobster will fire up its first food truck in Maine sometime in May. Tselikis said it will wander around southern Maine, probably from Kennebunkport up to the Freeport area, and be available for catering and weekend events.

Tselikis said he and Lomac, his cousin, started their business in California because it was a market that didn’t have access to affordable lobster meat, and the food truck industry there was well established and thriving, “which is how we’ve picked some of our other markets as well throughout the country.”

The timing is right to bring the idea back home.

“Now there’s a little bit more of a food truck scene in Portland and southern Maine,” he said.

They’ve also had requests from customers who like their food and are puzzled why they can’t get it in Maine when they vacation here, Tselikis said.

The cousins also own a restaurant in West Hollywood, California.

Tselikis and Lomac, who are from Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough, respectively, return to Maine every other month or so to visit family or to do business. (Their lobster is sourced from the Gulf of Maine.)

Their food trucks serve two kinds of lobster rolls: warm lobster served with butter (also known as Connecticut style) and cold with mayonnaise (Maine style). They also serve 4-5-ounce lobster tails in the shell, lobster tacos, lobster quesadillas, shrimp tacos, clam chowder and lobster bisque. Tselikis said the Maine food truck will serve the company’s two newest items as well – lobster grilled cheese and “lobster tots.” Lobster tots are tater tots served with lobster meat on top, a little warm butter, pico de gallo and cilantro lime sauce.

“People call that their food crack here,” Tselikis said.

The cousins still stay in regular touch with their “Shark Tank” investor, real estate guru Barbara Corcoran, who received 15 percent of the company for her $55,000 investment. Tselikis said they talk every other week by Skype or phone, and their relationship has gone from dealing with details, like designing marketing brochures, to larger discussions about the big picture of the business – for example, what kind of infrastructure they’ll need as the business grows.

Mainers can follow the new food truck through Twitter or Instagram (@cmlobster), Facebook, the website, or the Cousins Maine Lobster app.

Tselikis said while they don’t envision having a dozen food trucks in Maine, they have high hopes for this first venture.

“I don’t know what it will turn into,” he said, “but we hope this unit, at least, will be very successful.”

Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

Twitter: MeredithGoad

]]> 0, 21 Apr 2017 21:16:23 +0000
‘Smith and Daughters: A Cookbook’ comes from Australia with a great backstory Wed, 19 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “Smith & Daughters: A Cookbook (That Happens to be Vegan).” By Shannon Martinez and Mo Wyse. Hardie Grant Books. $35.00

This cookbook title got it right: These recipes only happen to be vegan.

That was my first thought when I flipped through the cookbook by Shannon Martinez and Mo Wyse, who run a vegan restaurant in Melbourne, Australia.

What jumps out instead are the many Spanish-influenced dishes – pozole, sofrito, flan, sangria crumble and paella – that pepper the entire cookbook.

Turns out the cooking half of the duo – Martinez – isn’t even vegan and her people moved to Australia from Andalusia, Spain. As for the vegan thing – it’s as punk rock as Shannon herself. In addition to a passion for a career in cooking, she was married to a professional skateboarder and played in a band for the Vans’ Warped Tour in America.

The restaurant is vegan because Martinez and Wyse wanted to carve out a niche in the hyper-competitive restaurant business.

It’s worth noting that the narrative that accompanies and explains the backstory of each recipe is both endearing and functional. We learn the paella is a fifth-generation recipe and that Martinez’s grandfather studied to be a boilermaker for two years to qualify to emigrate to Australia.

The pan con chocolate is another family hand-me-down.

The pictures tell personal and professional tales. Live shots show the hustle and bustle in the kitchen and the dining room; another shows the list of music Martinez cooks to, from Cuban jazz to Slayer. The edgy vibe continues with food shots revealing her tattooed knuckles (“food” on the right hand, “life” on the left), black fingernail polish and magenta hair.

The recipe instructions are chatty and casual, sometimes admonishing the reader with a stern warning on measurements (see below!).

It makes you want to settle in at the bar and order a gangster horchata, or one of the other vegan drinks that make up an entire section of the cookbook.

In addition to making horchata (summer is coming!) I made Spiced Mexican Flan, in part because the traditional dish is so decidedly non-vegan. Usually made with eggs and several kinds of milk, this vegan version came together beautifully with soy milk, tofu and agar powder. It was a bit denser than traditional flan, but that could have been my heavy hand with the agar powder.

A note on the ingredients: It took a trip to a specialty store to find the agar powder (also available online at Amazon), so check your cupboard before diving in. I also learned a bit about the caramel – heat your pan slightly before pouring it in or, like mine, it will cool too quickly and crackle. But it’s just as sweet.


Serves 4-6

3 cups soy milk

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract or paste

4 cloves

6 fennel seeds

1 cinnamon stick

2 strips orange peel, white pith removed

1¾ ounces caster (superfine) sugar

1 thyme sprig

Pinch salt

¾ teaspoon agar powder (no more, no less. I’m serious, this is not a time to be a cowboy)

6 ounces silken tofu


¾ cup caster sugar

Pinch salt

You can make either 1 large flan, or 4-6 individual servings.

Place all of the ingredients for the flan except the tofu and agar in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to the boil, then remove from heat and transfer to a heatproof bowl. Set aside for the flavors to develop for 30 minutes. Wipe the saucepan clean for later use.

To make the caramel, combine the sugar, salt and ¼ cup water in a very clean, small saucepan over medium heat, without stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Continue to cook until the liquid begins to turn a light amber, approximately 8-10 minutes. At this stage, don’t walk away from the caramel because it WILL turn on you the very first chance it gets! Once the caramel resembles the piece of amber that holds the mosquito in Jurassic Park, you know you’re good to go. Pour the caramel into your desired molds and set aside while you finish the custard. Don’t stress, the caramel will go hard.

Using a fine-meshed sieve, strain the infused soy milk back into the clean saucepan and sprinkle the agar powder over it. Bring the mixture to the boil over medium heat, then reduce to a low simmer and stir for about 3 minutes to make sure the agar is fully dissolved. Set aside to cool a little.

Place the tofu in a blender and pour the soy milk mixture over it. Blend well, ensuring that you have no lumps. If you want to be extra sure that you have a totally smooth custard, pour the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl. If you find that the blender has created a foam on top of the milk and you would rather the bottom of the flan to have a flat, smooth edge, spoon it off the surface if it bothers you. (We do this at the restaurant, but when Shannon’s making this at home, she doesn’t bother.) Pour the custard over the set caramel and cover with plastic wrap.

Set aside in the fridge for at least 2 hours to chill completely. To remove the flan from the mold, place in a sink or bowl of hot water for about 15 seconds to help soften the caramel, making sure you don’t get any water on the flan. Place your serving dish on top, then quickly turn over, allowing the flan to drop onto the dish. Don’t be scared, it’s easier than it sounds!

]]> 0 Mexican Flan skips the traditional eggs and dairy in favor of soy milk, tofu and agar powder.Tue, 18 Apr 2017 17:35:10 +0000
Burrata’s silky pleasures are revealed on prosciutto pizza Wed, 19 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 If you haven’t had the chance to try burrata, I would be honored if this recipe became the first occasion. Burrata is a semisoft, white Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. It is like the silkiest, creamiest fresh mozzarella, with a rich molten cream filling as a bonus.

And here it is paired with another Italian culinary triumph, prosciutto. Prosciutto is a ham made from selected legs of pork, slow cured with sea salt. The end product is sweet and delicious, with a wonderful texture. Prosciutto aged for 12 months will be less expensive and have a more delicate flavor and softer texture, while more aged prosciuttos will be denser and deeper in taste.

This pizza is made without tomato sauce, which allows the flavor of the burrata and the cured ham to shine, punctuated by the herby oregano. The prosciutto isn’t cooked, but rather just draped over the finished pizza, where it is gently warmed, preserving its texture and singular flavor.

You can use any store-bought pizza dough. If you can find the super-convenient type that is rolled up in a tube in the dairy aisle, it will save you some stretching and pulling, which can be fun but takes a bit longer.


Serves 2

1 tablespoon cornmeal

9 ounces pizza dough, at room temperature

Olive oil as needed

8 ounces burrata

4 slices paper thin slices prosciutto

1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 F.

Sprinkle the cornmeal on a flat cutting board or a pizza peel if you have one, and stretch and pat the dough into a circle about 8 inches in diameter. Let it sit for several minutes, then stretch it a bit further, into a 10-inch circle.

Allow it to rest between gentle pulls until it holds its shape and remains about 1/3-inch thick. Brush the top lightly with olive oil.

Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven and swiftly slide the pizza dough onto the baking sheet. Bake the dough for about 10 minutes until it is fairly firm and lightly browned, but not cooked through.

Remove the pizza from the oven. Tear the burrata into small pieces and distribute them over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Return to the oven and bake until the dough is cooked through and the burrata is melted, about five more minutes.

Remove from the oven, then drape the slices of prosciutto over the top of the pizza, allowing the burrata to peek through. Sprinkle the oregano leaves over the top, and season with salt and a nice grind of black pepper to finish. Cut in wedges to serve.

]]> 0, 18 Apr 2017 17:46:08 +0000
Orange, a worthy understudy, shines Wed, 19 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 As a kid, I remember being sent to the backyard to grab a snack. I’d forego the plethora of fuzzy zucchini, and grab either a tomato or orange. Biting into a sun-warmed fruit, sweet juice dripping down my chin in the dry heat of Tucson, Arizona, is a memory stuck in my bones.

No surprise oranges and tomatoes were interchangeable snacks, both of them sweet, acidic and juicy. Turns out, oranges and tomatoes are worthy swaps for each other in a host of raw recipes.

So if you are out of tomatoes, or they are simply out of season, consider using oranges instead, tasty year-round.

When you are stuck for a side dish, grab a few oranges from the fruit basket, slice them up and lay them out on a platter, and add whatever tasty toppings you have on hand – avocado, chopped scallions or shallots, nuts, seeds, fresh herbs, spicy greens, leftover rotisserie chicken, a drizzle of pesto are just a few ideas. Try this week’s Orange and Cucumber Layered Salad with Shrimp, but use the ingredient list as a mere suggestion to start your own creative version.


Serves 2

1 medium naval or cara cara orange (or grapefruit), peeled, sliced, membrane and seeds removed

1 medium blood red orange, peeled, sliced, membrane and seeds removed

1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced

1/4 medium avocado, sliced

1/4 fennel bulb, core removed, thinly sliced

1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced (To mellow the red onion flavor, shock the red onion slices by placing for ten seconds in ice cold water, and then blotting dry.)

1 cup watercress (or arugula or other favorite greens)

6 ounces steamed shrimp

1 tablespoon toasted pumpkin seeds (or other nut or seed)

1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or orange juice

2 teaspoons high quality extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Optional: chopped fennel fronds for garnish

Layer the orange slices and cucumber on a platter. Top with the avocado slices, fennel slices, watercress, shrimp and pumpkin seeds. Squeeze the lemon or orange juice over the whole salad, and then drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and fennel fronds, if using.

]]> 0, 18 Apr 2017 17:58:07 +0000
Put a little spring in your hummus with roasted carrots Wed, 19 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Hummus generally contains five basic ingredients; chickpeas, tahini, lemon, garlic and olive oil. Once you have these ingredients combined, it is easy to add other herbs, spices and even roasted carrots – like I do here – to flavor and season basic hummus.

In the early spring, I love to roast fresh carrots until they are deeply caramelized and puree them to add to the base of chickpeas and tahini. To deepen the golden color, I add a touch of turmeric. The combined result is a deep golden yellow hummus that is the perfect color for daffodil season.

Served with flatbread for breakfast in some Mediterranean countries, the protein-rich and fiber-filled chickpeas make hummus a good way to start the day. In the U.S., hummus has become a popular appetizer and snack. Although hummus is sold at virtually all supermarkets, it is so easy to prepare that you really should start making it yourself. Frankly, it also tastes much better than store bought.

The secret to creating the creamiest and freshest hummus is making sure that the skins of the chickpeas are removed and discarded. Many brands of water-packed cooked and canned chickpeas come mostly skinless, so this is not as labor-intensive as it may sound and it’s well worth the effort. I tested this recipe both ways and the skinless creamy texture made all the difference in the world. The skin-on version was rougher and chunkier and the texture took away from the delicate nature of the hummus.

Serve the hummus with crudites for a springy colorful snack or appetizer and pita chips. I like to make my own pita chips baked with a light brush of olive oil and seasoned with a sprinkling of coarse salt and za’atar. Once they are seasoned, you can cut them into triangles – six per pita bread is a good size – and bake them in a 350 F. oven until they are crisp.


Makes 16 appetizer-sized portions

1/2 cup well-roasted carrots, cut into small pieces (about 6 small carrots)

Juice of 2 lemons, plus more as needed (about 2 ounces)

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnishing hummus

2 generous tablespoons tahini (sesame paste), with some of its oil

2 15-ounce cans drained chickpeas, liquid reserved and skins removed

2 cloves garlic, peeled, or to taste

1 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste

1/4 teaspoon of white pepper or pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

Paprika, a sprinkling for garnish

Curly parsley for garnish

Pita chips (homemade or store bought)

Raw vegetables

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Coat carrots with oil and season with salt. Place on a sheet pan and roast carrots. Remove from oven when soft and browned in places, about 30 minutes depending on the size of your carrots. Cut into small pieces and set aside.

Place carrots in a food processor with the lemon juice, lemon zest, tahini and olive oil and process until smooth, about 1 minute.

Put remaining ingredients except the paprika and the parsley in a food processor and begin to process; add a couple of tablespoons of the chickpea liquid and more olive oil as needed to allow the machine to produce a smooth puree. The amount will vary every time you make it based on how much liquid is in the chickpeas.

Taste and adjust the seasoning (I often add more lemon juice).

Serve immediately or chilled in a shallow bowl with pita chips and raw vegetables, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with a bit of paprika and some parsley.

Will keep up to five days in refrigerator.

]]> 0, 18 Apr 2017 18:11:15 +0000
The Maine Ingredient: It’s easy to warm up to chicken tenders for quick dinners Wed, 19 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Chicken “tenders” (sometimes labeled as cutlets or fingers) are pieces of white meat chicken cut from under the breastbone. They are neat small strips, and they cook very quickly. Their only drawback is that each one contains a small strip of tendon. Some people choose to cut it out, but I don’t bother.


The richness of toasted almonds in this sauce makes a lovely counterpoint to the lean chicken meat. Serve this dish with couscous or rice pilaf and oven-roasted carrots tossed with thawed frozen peas.

Serves 4

1¼ pounds chicken tenders or thinly sliced chicken breasts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons light olive oil

½ cup sliced almonds

½ cup thinly sliced scallions

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or 1½ teaspoons dried

1¼ cups dry white wine

Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour, shaking off the excess.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter with the oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken and cook over medium heat, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate, leaving the drippings in the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the almonds to pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the nuts are just beginning to color, about 2 minutes. Add the scallions and tarragon and cook for another minute or two until the nuts are lightly browned.

Add the wine and boil, uncovered, until the sauce is slightly reduced, 1 to 2 minutes. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to sauce, heat through, and serve.

Chicken tenders cook quickly and are perfect for a variety of sautées. Bonchan/


Use fresh spinach instead of frozen if you prefer. This sauté is great with parslied new potatoes and a salad of tomatoes, red onion and feta cheese.

Serves 4

1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach

1¼ pounds chicken tenders or thinly sliced chicken breasts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons light olive oil

1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Thaw the spinach in a microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain well and squeeze out as much moisture as possible.

Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and cook the chicken over medium heat until lightly browned and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

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

Stir in the spinach and cook, stirring, until heated through. Stir in the cheese and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, spread the spinach out onto a platter and arrange the chicken on top. Drizzle any remaining pan juices over all.

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 is on Facebook at:

]]> 0 tenders cook quickly and are perfect for a variety of sautées.Tue, 18 Apr 2017 17:07:27 +0000
Granita a bright delight from the freezer Wed, 19 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 A DIY dessert you can serve straight from cold storage gets my vote every time, as it comes in so handy for company and an occasional personal reward.

Pomegranate and Valencia orange juices are frozen separately here, in layers, and when you scrape through to serve the granita, the effect is light and pretty.

The mixture is plenty tart and just a bit sweet, so a layer of coconut milk makes all the difference.

This recipe earns extra points because there’s no cooking, barely any prep work – and it clocks in at a mere 90 calories and 3 grams of fat per serving.

Tip: Valencia orange juice has rich color and tastes sweeter than regular orange juice. Look for it in the produce department refrigerated juice case.


6 to 8 servings

You’ll need a 6-by-7-inch freezer-safe casserole or lidded storage container, with sides at least 2 inches tall.

21/4 cups 100-percent pomegranate juice

2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk (from a can, shaken well), preferably Aroy-D brand

11/2 cups fresh Valencia orange juice (see tip)

2 blood oranges, peeled (no pith) and cut into 1/4-inch slices

Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

Turbinado sugar, for garnish

Pour the pomegranate juice into the casserole or lidded container. Cover and place on a flat surface in the freezer; freeze for 1 to 2 hours, until firm to the touch. Remove from the freezer and uncover; pour the coconut milk evenly over the frozen layer of pomegranate juice. Cover and freeze on a flat surface for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until firm.

Remove from the freezer and uncover; pour the orange juice over the coconut milk layer. Add the blood orange slices, arranging them as you like (they will float). Cover and freeze on a flat surface for 2 hours, or until set.

When ready to serve, use a large, sturdy fork to scrape the frozen block into granita ice crystals, making sure to dig into all 3 layers. Use a spoon to scoop them into individual cups or glasses. While you’re adding spoonfuls, feel free to add dollops of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Sprinkle each serving with a bit of turbinado sugar. Serve right away.

]]> 0, 18 Apr 2017 17:17:39 +0000
Portland’s robust restaurant scene about to get a lot more crowded Wed, 19 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 This is the time of year we put away our crockpots, which have been cranking out soups and stews all winter, and gingerly step back outside into a snow-free world filled with new restaurants to try. Yes, we know you still haven’t caught up on last year’s crop of new restaurants, or maybe even the year before, considering the wild pace at which Portland restaurants have multiplied in recent years. This year is no exception, and the newcomers are all over the culinary map – Thai, Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese, Japanese and, of course, American.

One thread running through three of these new ventures – and already a national trend – is the interest in communal “large-format dining:” shareable, family-style meals that typically feed several people. Chef Mourad Lahlou of San Francisco’s Mourad described its appeal to Open Table this way: “The act of eating from the same vessel is extremely powerful. It’s unifying; you just feel this togetherness.”

Or, as another San Francisco chef, Chris Cosentino, put it to Bon Appetit last year: “It’s like having Thanksgiving on a whim.” Another notable thread? Lots of new Asian options coming to the Portland area.

Here’s a sampling of new restaurants coming to Portland and South Portland this spring and summer. Dig in.


North 43 Bistro, the restaurant that’s replacing Joe’s Boathouse at the Spring Point Marina in South Portland, may be on the waterfront, but don’t expect a seafood-heavy menu.

Chef Stephanie Brown, who co-owns the restaurant with Laura Argitis (owner of Old Port Sea Grill), says that while she will serve fish, hers will be an “American bistro” menu with Asian, French and Tuscan influences. “It’s going to be relatable food,” Brown said, “nothing that is overly extravagant and you don’t know what it is you’re eating. It’s all food that is uncomplicated but full of flavors. We will always have a steak on the menu. We’ll have a burger during the day. We’re trying to appeal to all palates under one roof.” That roof comes with a great view that, come summertime, can be enjoyed from an outside deck that seats 30 or an upstairs cocktails-only deck. The dining room, which has lots of windows that look out on the marina, seats 100.

North 43 Bistro will be open for lunch and dinner, beginning the first week of June.

1 Spring Point Drive, South Portland

Kim Lully and Sunny Chung’s new Korean-American restaurant, YOBO, is scheduled to open at the end of May. Staff photo by Ben McCanna


Theatergoers lost a favorite venue for a pre-show dinner when Bibo’s Madd Apple Cafe, next to Portland Stage Co., closed at the new year. Now that void will be filled by YOBO, a Korean-American restaurant scheduled to open at the end of May.

The owners, Sunny Chung and his wife, Kim Lully, previously owned two restaurants in New Hampshire: the Korean Place in Manchester for about 10 years, followed by Sunny’s Table in Concord, which the couple sold in November. They now live in Portland, closer to home for Lully, who grew up in northern Maine and still has family in Caribou and South China.

YOBO, she says, “loosely translates into a greeting between husband and wife in the Korean culture. We always joke that at my house, it means ‘Yes, dear.’ ” The menu at the 35-seat restaurant will be Korean, but with a few twists to make it more accessible to people who are unfamiliar with the cuisine. It will serve dinner only, to start. A sample menu includes dishes such as a mu shu smoked duck and a “Maine Italian” pork belly bahn mi. But the focus, the Chungs say, will be on two Korean favorites: bibimbop, the traditional dish of rice mixed with vegetables, meat and an egg, and served in a stone crock that makes the rice deliciously crunchy; and bo ssam – tender, spicy pork wrapped in lettuce or other vegetable leaves with a variety of accompaniments.

“We’ll do a group bo ssam, and it will feed two to four people,” Kim Chung said. “It will be kind of like a lettuce wrap picnic that you’ll be able to have right here at the restaurant with everything that goes along with it – the condiments, the kimchee, the sauces.”

23 Forest Ave., Portland


Caterer Ryan Carey lives near the old Taco Trio space on outer Forest Avenue in Portland, and when the Mexican eatery closed last year, he was just as unhappy as everyone else in the neighborhood. So he decided to fill the restaurant void himself: He is moving his busy wood-fired meat catering business, Fire and Company, into the building and opening a 26-seat restaurant, Noble Barbecue.

Carey, who started out with mobile, wood-fired pizza ovens that he took to fairs and festivals, has spent the past couple of years traveling to such holy grail barbecue states as Tennessee, Texas and the Carolinas to hone his craft. His Portland menu will feature wood-smoked meats by the half-pound, 10 or so signature, barbecue-themed sandwiches, Belgian fries and eight local beers on draft. He wants to keep prices in line with Taco Trio’s, so those hefty barbecue sandwiches will sell for $9-$12. Customers can dine in or take out. The opening day is scheduled for June 13.

1706 Forest Ave., Portland

Search for Fire and Company on Facebook


Vien Dobui and his wife, Jessica Sheahan moved to Portland from San Francisco a few years ago to help their friends open Tandem Coffee Roasters and Tandem Bakery. Now it’s their turn. They are opening Cong Tu Bot, a Vietnamese restaurant under development in the historic Nissen building in Portland. The 30-seat restaurant is scheduled to open in mid- to late May.

“Vien has been cooking off and on for the past eight years or so, and it was always his dream to have a Vietnamese restaurant,” Sheahan said. “The timing just seemed right.”

(The couple is also about to give birth to a second joint project – their first child.)

Dobui was born in the United States after his parents came over from Vietnam in the early 1980s, several years after the Vietnam War ended. He grew up in San Jose, which, according to the 2010 U.S. census, has the largest population of Vietnamese-Americans in the United States.

Jessica Sheahan and Vien Dobui at the site of their future Vietnamese restaurant, Cong Tu Bot. Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh

Dobui stage-ed, or interned, in several restaurants in San Francisco. Then, about five years ago, he traveled to Vietnam to visit his extended family. He cooked for four months in his uncle’s noodle restaurant and spent time exploring and eating Vietnamese food. In Maine, he has worked at Palace Diner and the recently closed Roustabout, in addition to Tandem.

The menu at Cong Tu Bot will be small and tightly focused. It will include noodle dishes commonly found in Saigon, accompanied by side dishes and snacks. Sheahan, who will run the front of the house, said they will start with dinner only. She has worked as a cheesemaker and a farm apprentice, and at a number of restaurants, including Roustabout.

What does Cong Tu Bot mean? It’s an old-fashioned Vietnamese nickname that Dobui’s older cousins gave to him when he was a kid. “It’s just poking fun at somebody at who is maybe a little fancy, who doesn’t like to get their hands dirty,” Sheahan said. “He’s just trying to reclaim the name.”

59 Washington Ave., Portland


Chaval is the new incarnation of Caiola’s, a popular neighborhood restaurant on Portland’s West End.

Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez, already the owners of Piccolo, an Italian restaurant in Portland, bought the restaurant last summer and kept things as they were for seven months so they could get to know their potential new customers and not scare them away with too many changes too fast. “It’s just respectful,” Lopez said. But they closed Caiola’s over the winter and have been busy since then carrying out their own vision with extensive renovations and a research trip to Spain.

Chaval’s menu will be focused on French and Spanish food. The couple were classically French trained, and both spent many years working for famed New York City chef/restaurateur Daniel Boulud. Sansonetti has spent kitchen time in Paris, and Lopez is a veteran of a couple of Spanish restaurants, including the famous El Bulli. But they say Chaval will be a more approachable, casual place, with family-friendly prices – similar to places they visited on their recent 10-day trip to northern Spain, with stops in San Sebastian and the Rioja wine region.

“There’s a part of me that just loves Spanish food and the style of it,” Sansonsetti said, “and the sense of family and how voracious they are with life, and how much they celebrate it when they are together.”

That family sensibility will translate into a few larger dishes that feed a group – a braised beef shank that feeds two to four, for example, or a whole coil of sausage served with a couple of sides that can feed an entire family.

Ilma Lopez and Damian Sansonetti at Piccolo in 2014. Staff photo by John Patriquin

The new restaurant is named, in a way, after their daughter. They named their first restaurant Piccolo because she was just 2 weeks old when they signed their lease, and piccolo means “small” in Italian. She is now 3 years old, and Chaval, opening in May, means “kid” in Spanish.

Lopez’ family is from Venezuela, so why not open a Venezuelan restaurant?

“Just wait,” she hinted. “We’re not done.”

58 Pine St., Portland

(207) 772-1110


Cheevitdee, a 37-seat restaurant in Portland’s Old Port, will serve Thai food with a healthy twist. Cheevitdee means “Good Life,” explains Nuttaya Suriyayanyong, who co-owns the restaurant with her cousin, Darit Chandpen. (Chandpen also owns Mi Sen Noodle Bar on Congress Street.)

Suriyayanyong explained that Cheevitdee will serve low-sodium dishes made with organic ingredients. Most of the food will be steamed – never fried. The menu will offer chicken, shrimp, fish and tofu, but no pork or beef. Entrees on a sample menu include Ping Ngob, a grilled seafood curry with rice wrapped in banana leaves, and salmon choo chee, a red curry salmon with kaffir lime leaves.

Cheevitdee won’t serve white rice. Rather, it will be a deep purple Thai variety known as riceberry, which is rich in antioxidants, fiber and minerals. Cheevitdee may be open as early as next week, depending on when the last health inspection is done, and will serve both lunch and dinner. The family will do the cooking themselves.

363 Fore St., Portland


Jie Ming Liang wants you to get your kicks at his new fast casual, Asian fusion restaurant, 66s Fusion. The Portland restaurant is named after the famous Route 66, and Liang envisions a chain of restaurants all across America, “from the East to the West.” Another 66s is already under development in New York. (The “s” in the name is silent but indicates his plan for more than one restaurant, Liang said.)

The menu includes sushi, teppanyaki grill, ramen noodles and an Asian meat bun – all with prices ending in 66. An order of udon noodles, for example, will cost $7.66, while an order of teriyaki chicken or shrimp will be priced at $5.66.

Open for lunch and dinner, 66s Fusion will have about a dozen tables, with bar seating for 10 to 12 more. Liang had hoped to open at the end of April, but remodeling issues have pushed the opening day into May.

425 Fore St., Portland


Old Port Lobster Shack, a string of California restaurants licensed under the same name and concept, announced a couple of years ago that it was coming to the original Old Port. Then, silence. So what happened? It’s complicated. The restaurateur who started the company, Russell Deutsch, was arrested in California last spring for tax evasion, according to several news accounts. But Michael Michalski, who is the licensee of the Portland branch and holds the long-term lease on the space here, says the real reason for the delay is that he’s been busy working with the West Coast restaurants, including one that opened in February in the Sacramento area. The Fore Street location is back under construction, and Michalski hopes to open for business in June or July. “This time we are determined to get it done,” he said.

425 Fore St., Portland

Chad Conley of Palace Diner is working to open an as yet unnamed restaurant on Forest Avenue in Portland. Staff photo by John Patriquin


Blyth & Burrows is a cocktail bar, not a restaurant, but it will have a raw bar and food will be an important focus, according to a recent press release. Well-known local bartender Joshua Miranda, the owner, has hired an executive chef and executive sous chef/fish monger from Napa Valley, Calif. to oversee the food. Blyth & Burrows will open in May on 26 Exchange St.

Bujabelle, opening this spring at 249 St. John St., will cater to Portland’s growing Central African population, according to partners Jerome Niryumwami, Thierry Mugabe and Jean Claude Nitunga. The proposed menu includes sambusas, salmon cubes, beignets, fried meatballs, and goat meat.

Joshua Miranda’s Blyth and Burrows will open in May. Photo courtesy of Joshua Miranda

Chad Conley’s as yet unnamed restaurant on Forest Avenue is making progress, but Conley, co-owner of the Palace Diner in Biddeford, doesn’t want to give any details, even the name or concept, for another few weeks. He will work at the new place as well as at Palace Diner, he said, but he is searching for a sous chef and kitchen manager for the new restaurant.

Island Creek Oysters, based in Duxbury, Mass., will open a retail shop and restaurant at 123 Washington Ave. in Portland by June. The restaurant will sell oysters from Maine and Massachusetts waters.

Little Giant, a mid-priced, family-oriented restaurant from Briana and Andrew Volk, owners of the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club, will serve dinner every day and breakfast on the weekends. The 60-seat restaurant, opening in May on 211 Danforth St., will feature “Continental European” food and offer shareable, large-format dishes. It will be the kind of place you can bring your family and still enjoy a good cocktail, Briana Volk says. Imbibe 75 named it one of its “Places to Watch” in 2017.

Lio, a wine-focused restaurant at 3 Spring St. in Portland, is unlikely to open until around Labor Day, according to Chris Peterman, director of operations and sommelier for chef Cara Stadler’s restaurant group, Eighty-Ate Hospitality. The group owns Tao Yuan in Brunswick and Bao Bao Dumpling House in Portland.

Mami, the long-awaited brick-and-mortar version of the popular Portland food truck, is scheduled to open Thursday at 339 Fore Street in Portland. Austin Miller and Hannah Tamaki will be serving okonomiyaki, yakisoba and other casual Japanese favorites. The prices range from $4 to 6 for steamed buns, onigiri (rice balls) and Japanese-style hot dogs to $12 to $15 for noodle dishes.

]]> 0, 19 Apr 2017 11:24:03 +0000
Portland company will offer fair trade scallops Mon, 17 Apr 2017 00:15:09 +0000 Fair trade coffee, bananas and … scallops? Yes, very soon.

Fair trade certification status, which is conferred by independent groups to denote environmental sustainability and fair working conditions, has been around for years. But it’s just now on the rise among seafood products in the U.S., where consumers’ interest in the story behind the fish and shellfish they eat is growing.

Certification of seafood products, including tuna and shrimp, began in 2014, and the volume of imports of such products grew more than 350 percent last year to more than 1.2 million pounds, said Fair Trade USA, a California-based nonprofit group. The first company to offer fair trade seafood harvested from U.S. waters will have scallops on the market this month.

The company, Bristol Seafood of Portland, is looking to capitalize on the growing interest in authenticity of seafood, said its president, Peter Handy.

“There’s a certain sanctity to food when it comes to the story about it,” he said. “It tastes better the more you know.”

Independent groups, including Fair Trade USA, provide certifications to a host of products that people buy in stores, ranging from fruit and nuts to home goods. The certification is most commonly associated with coffee, which launched the fair trade movement in the 1990s.

To achieve certification, companies need to submit to an audit and interviews to make sure the food is produced with fair working conditions and environmental stewardship along the supply chain.

Fair Trade USA currently certifies shrimp from Mexico, yellowfin tuna from Indonesia, and skipjack and yellowfin tuna from Maldives. It is the only group currently certifying seafood as fair trade, representatives for the nonprofit said.

Interest in the seafood supply chain has grown since an Associated Press investigation of slave labor conditions in Thailand’s shrimp fishery, said Ashley Apel, senior manager of the seafood program for Fair Trade USA. Even before that, a 2014 study by a pair of economists from the University of Kentucky said more than 80 percent of consumers were at least somewhat influenced by labels that tell the story of seafood.

The standards for achieving the certification for seafood products focus on management of fish stocks and fishing habitat, as well as the wages and working conditions of the fishermen and others in the supply chain. Steps must be taken to eliminate forced labor and human trafficking, and workers must have the freedom to organize. At the same time, there must be documentation of things like proper waste management and protection of ecosystems, Fair Trade USA’s materials say.

Fair Trade USA is one of a handful of major groups involved in certifying food products, with another prominent one being Germany-based Fairtrade International.

They’re banking on chefs and restaurants getting excited about the products. Barton Seaver, a chef and author in Freeport, said fair trade seafood is too new to be familiar to many restaurateurs but is part of seafood’s future.

“It’s currently in its infancy, but I think the products they are working with will quickly prove the model, and the value that it can offer,” he said.

]]> 0 Elliott of Bristol Seafood in Portland examines a bag of scallops at auction in New Bedford, Mass. Fair trade certification status is now gaining prominence with seafood in the U.S., where interest is growing in the story behind the fish and shellfish people consume.Wed, 19 Apr 2017 10:50:51 +0000
Duck eggs get the job done for cooking, baking Sun, 16 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Easter eggs and I have a storied history.

As children, my siblings and I colored factory-farmed, hard-boiled, white chicken eggs; left them on the counter for the Easter Bunny to hide; and, had to find and eat all of them before we were allowed to tuck into our jelly beans. Bittersweet for sure.

I once dyed a couple dozen to use as props for the children’s lesson I’d been asked to teach during an Easter service. I’d stored them in the fridge overnight, but as the scripture was read in church that morning, they began to sweat. When I gave them to the kids, they were dripping in Technicolor all over pristine Easter outfits. Oops.

Six duck eggs give a serious lift to Duck Egg Strawberry-Rhubarb Chiffon Cake. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

I didn’t realize brown eggs didn’t take well to food coloring the first Easter I lived in England, where white chicken eggs are uncommon based on the breeds raised there. The results were less than vibrant brown eggs disguised as festive with the application of stickers. The next Easter, I moved on to duck eggs, which were twice the price, but had thick, white shells, and therefore, easily decorated.

Easter stories aside, I am finding that I turn, more and more, to duck eggs for eating straight up. They’re bigger and richer than chicken eggs, their yolk to white ratio favors yellow (my preference), and there seems to be more and more on offer locally.

JoAnn Meyers raises endangered breeds of ducks – like Welsh Harlequins, Dutch Hookbills, Khaki Campbells, Indian Runners, Black Cayugas, Magpies and Buffs – at Beau Chemin Preservation Farm, a certified organic operation in Waldoboro. She sells both eggs (the Khaki Campbells are the best layers, averaging one egg per day) and breeding trios to folks looking to raise their own ducks. Meyers says keeping ducks is easier than keeping chickens on a small scale because they are quieter, more comfortable in rain and snow, and have nicer temperaments than chickens. And, contrary to popular believe, they don’t need a backyard pond to survive. Like chickens, they are foragers, but their rounded bills do less damage to gardens and lawns than sharp chicken beaks. That said, ducks’ webbed feet might cause problems for low-lying plants.

Duck eggs, bottom, compared to regular eggs, top. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Much to my delight, Meyers also says eating more duck eggs could help boost the overall population and, in turn, make the eggs more widely available. It’s a supply and demand kind of proposition.

How will you cook with all of these eventual duck eggs?

Since they are typically 25-30 percent larger, Meyers typically soft boils, hard boils or poaches them for a minute longer than she would a chicken egg. But when she’s scrambling them or using them in an omelet, she shaves off a bit of time because duck eggs turn rubbery if they are scrambled until dry.

Duck eggs taste eggier than factory-farmed eggs, for sure. But if you’ve already switched to farm-fresh chicken eggs, the difference in taste will be negligible.

For baking, the change in taste is undetectable. But substituting one duck egg for one chicken egg in most recipes will make pancakes, waffles and layer and chiffon cakes much fluffier (see recipe) because the higher level of protein in the duck egg means it builds – and holds – a loftier structure when whipped. The bigger yolk also means they are excellent coagulating agents for custards, puddings and ice cream bases. Really, anything a chicken egg can do, a duck egg can arguably do better.

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” (Islandport Press, May 2017). Contact her at:


Layer and chiffon cakes turn out taller and fluffier with duck eggs. Staff photo Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Duck eggs are increasingly showing up at farmers markets and health food stores in Maine. You can also find them at some Asian markets here. If you find it’s a too early to get local rhubarb, use an equal amount of last year’s strawberry-rhubarb jam.
Serves 10-12

3 cups chopped red rhubarb
2 cups chopped strawberries
1 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange

6 duck eggs
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sliced strawberries for garnish, optional

To make the stewed rhubarb, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, 1/2 cup water and orange zest in a medium-sized pan. Bring to a boil over med-high heat, turn down, cover and cook until the rhubarb is soft and stringy, 10-12 minutes. Cool completely.

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Carefully separate the duck eggs. Put the whites into a clean, large mixing bowl, and put the yolks into a small bowl. Set aside.

Sift the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt and baking powder into a second large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the oil, lightly beaten egg yolks, 1 1/4 cups of the cooled stewed rhubarb and the lemon juice. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.

Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat with an electric mixer on high until soft peaks form. Increase the speed to high and gradually beat in 1/2 cup sugar. Continue beating until very stiff peaks form.

Use a rubber spatula to fold 1/3 of the whipped whites into the cake batter until they are completely incorporated. Gingerly fold in the remaining whites. Immediately transfer the batter to an ungreased 10-inch tube pan.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Immediately turn the pan upside down and rest on its feet, letting the cake hang free until completely cooled. If your tube pan doesn’t have feet, perch the cake upside down on a bottle to cool.

When the cake is cooled, whip the cream until thick. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the vanilla and whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Frost the cake with the cream. Decorate with strawberries, if using. Slice and serve the cake with the remaining stewed rhubarb.

]]> 0 duck eggs give a serious lift to Duck Egg Strawberry-Rhubarb Chiffon Cake.Fri, 14 Apr 2017 16:16:30 +0000
Recipe: Grandma’s pigne (pane di pasqua) Wed, 12 Apr 2017 08:00:52 +0000 The bread has no salt, but the fennel and zest give it plenty of flavor. Damian Sansonetti knows from experience that bread doesn’t always turn out the way you hope it will. He says that if this bread does not proof (or rise) properly and the loaf is dense, underbake it a little, then slice it and bake the slices on a baking sheet at 250 degrees F to turn it into delicious biscotti. Allow plenty of time to make this recipe, as the bread must rise three times.

Makes 2 loaves
3¼ teaspoons dry yeast (about 11/2 packets)
3/8 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
3 eggs
1/8 teaspoon anise oil (double or triple if using anise extract, or to your taste)
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup whole milk
½ cup golden raisins
2½ tablespoons unsalted butter
3½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, optional
Zest of ½ lemon
Zest of ½ orange
1 egg, whisked well with splash of milk, for egg wash

Place the yeast in a small container or bowl, add the warm water and mix. Let the mixture sit about 10 minutes until it begins to bubble.

Whisk together the 3 eggs, anise oil and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

Scald the milk (bring it to just under a boil). Stir in the raisins to “plump” them. Add the butter to melt. Set the mixture aside until it is cool to the touch.

Attach the dough hook to your electric mixer. Put the flour in the mixer bowl. With the mixer on low/medium, add the egg-sugar mixture. Next add the yeast mixture and continue mixing, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed to incorporate.

Add the milk-raisin mixture, and the fennel seeds if using. Add the orange and lemon zest. Mix, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula, as needed. Continue to mix on medium until the dough is incorporated and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. This develop the glutens, which is what gives bread its structure.

Remove the dough from the mixer and finish kneading by hand on a clean surface for 5-8 minutes until smooth.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a large bowl, stainless steel preferred, that has been sprayed with pan spray or olive oil.

Roll the dough ball in the bowl to coat it lightly with the oil. Cover both dough ball and the container with plastic wrap.

Proof in a warm place for about 11/2 hours until it doubles in size. Punch the dough down and proof again until it doubles again, another 11/2 hours or so. The second proof can also be done overnight, in which case leave the dough to proof on the kitchen counter.

Divide the dough in half to make 2 loaves. Cut each half into 3 equal portions for the braids. Roll each portion into logs 11-12 inches long. (To speed up proofing and baking, roll them longer.) Braid the loaves, pinch ends together to seal, transfer the 2 loaves to baking sheets, cover with plastic and let rise 30-60 minutes, until almost double.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven (avoid a convection oven) to 325 degrees F. Brush each loaf generously with egg wash. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Let cool to the touch and enjoy warm, or toasted with butter.

]]> 0 bread made by chef Damian Sansonetti of Piccolo restaurant.Tue, 11 Apr 2017 18:01:35 +0000
Classical Indian dancer Ranee Ramaswamy adept both onstage and in the kitchen Wed, 12 Apr 2017 08:00:13 +0000 Classical Indian dancer Ranee Ramaswamy and her Minnesota-based Ragamala Dance Company will perform in Westbrook on Thursday. The 25-year-old company has performed at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and the Bali Arts Festival in Indonesia, to name just a very few of its venues. The New York Times has praised the company for demonstrating “how Indian forms can provide some of the most transcendent experiences that dance has to offer.” And a video excerpt of “Sacred Earth,” the dance to be performed in Maine, on the website of Maine sponsor Portland Ovations, is transfixing.

So we’re a little embarrassed to admit that what really caught our eye here in the food section is the Indian vegetarian cooking class that Ramaswamy will teach this evening in Portland (the class, at O’Maine Studios, is sold out). Offhand, we couldn’t recall hearing of another famous dancer teaching a cooking class in conjunction with a tour. Curious, we called up Ramaswamy to ask about it. She didn’t remember how this particular class got on the schedule, but told us that she’s often taught cooking in conjunction with dance, and that every year she cooks for hundreds for an annual fundraiser for her company.

We also learned that she began dancing Bharatanatyam, a genre of Indian classical dance, as a girl in India, moved to the States as a young adult with her then-husband and eventually co-founded the dance company here with her daughter. Ramaswamy mentioned that her sacred name is Annapoorna, who is the Indian goddess of food (“In India, everything is given a form. Food is imagined as a beautiful woman”); that she thinks Americans need to tone it down with our current craze for turmeric (“We use a pinch of turmeric. If you use a tablespoon of turmeric, you can’t put it in your mouth, it’s so strong”); and that when she was growing up, her grandparents would clean the stove, then make designs in rice flour next to it “to thank that stove for helping us cook.”

The Indian practice of making beautiful, sometimes elaborate rice flour patterns outside of homes and businesses – the designs are intended to invite in prosperity – in part inspires the dance “Sacred Earth.”

This interview, conducted over two telephone conversations, has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: We were surprised to hear that a famous dancer on tour in Maine is teaching a cooking class. How’d that happen?

A: When I first came (to America), I did a lot of work in schools all over Minnesota. They had a residency program where you teach Indian culture through dance. Many schools where I did these residencies asked me if I would cook and if the chefs in the lunchroom could make one simple thing for the kids to eat for India Residency Week. This is how I started to understand that food was a way to socialize and to get an entryway to the culture of India to Americans.

I started cooking when I was 20. I got married at 20 and had to set up my own household and had to cook, and I wasn’t very good at it. Slowly and surely, I improved. For 45 years I have cooked. I am used to doing fast, quick, easy, tasty food. So it comes from experience, not because I am a professional. I am not a chef. We have an expression – that person has a good hand smell.

It means they are a good cook. Somehow I am a really good cook, and I love to cook.

Ranee Ramaswamy (kneeling) and her daughter Aparna (center) are the founders of the Ragamala Dance Company, which will perform Thursday in Westbrook. Ramaswamy will also teach an Indian vegetarian cooking class. Photo by Grant Halverson

Q: American dancers, at least ballet dancers, are infamous for a tortured relationship with food, many suffering from anorexia and other eating disorders. Is the same true of classical Indian dancers?

A: No. If you go to India, you find dancers of all sizes. Women are voluptuous. Women are curvy. (Indians) like women who are not just stick-like. In general, in India, looking curvaceous is a little connected to wealth. You are well off, and you look good.

The expectation of being very skinny is not there.

Because (Bharatanatyam classical) dance is a solo dance, you don’t have a body type, eight people or 12 people don’t have to look the same. The dancer is an individual who embodies the spirit of the music, the song. In all Asian dance, the strength comes from within. It is not about having long, tall bodies. It’s more about having an extremely emotive face, and a body that goes with that face. Even in my own company, we have five dancers. There is one very tall dancer. I am the shortest. There is all in between. They are all beautifully shaped but nobody is stick-thin. (The difficulty with food) happens when everybody has to look the same.

That doesn’t mean you can let your body go. We keep healthy in every which way. We are careful with what we eat. We exercise so that we keep in shape. We avoid eating sweets and ice cream. It’s not easy to dance when you are overweight. I am 65, and I still dance full time with the company, and I maintain my body. Sometimes, I say, ‘Why am I doing this? Maybe I can eat all I want and just relax.’ But I don’t really feel like I am missing anything. Because what I get out of performing is so satisfying. Just practicing this art form is so satisfying. It doesn’t seem like a sacrifice.

Q: How do you eat before a performance?

A: Traveling, it’s actually a little difficult to keep your food routine. We live such disciplined lives. We need rest. We need food.

And you have to constantly keep fit. Dance takes a lot of energy.

We eat breakfast in the morning, like oatmeal or toast or yogurt. We usually eat our lunch at 2 p.m. Yesterday, we were performing in Winona (Minnesota). For lunch, we had soup, vegetarian soup, rice, some bread – our carbohydrates. We had cheese. None of us are vegan. A lot of us are vegetarians. Some of us have a little salad or munch on a bagel. And after 2, we don’t eat anything.

Then we eat after the performance. The presenters give us dinner. We usually give a list of what we won’t eat. Last night we had a pizza. It’s often easiest for presenters to order a pizza. They can get it vegetarian, and it’s easy for us to carry to our hotels.

When we are traveling, I carry a rice cooker. We always try to find a co-op, where we can buy some yogurt. Once you have toured a lot, you figure out what works. I always carry these things in case there is food that is not…. Sometimes the presenter will provide meat sandwiches, which I don’t eat. It used to be very difficult when I first came to this country as a vegetarian, but now things have changed so much. It’s so much easier.

Q: Dance is, of course, an art form. Do you think cooking is also an art form?

A: There are two words in Indian classical dance: Bhava means expression. Rasa means flavor. So the bhava is the emotion that the dancer puts in their body. They emote as they dance. And the rasa is the feeling the audience gets watching the dancers. It is like the chef. The chef puts in ingredients, the spices you put in your food, that’s bhava. And rasa is the flavor that the person who eats it gets. If the perfect ingredients don’t go in, the taste is not going to happen. But it’s not about measuring 1/2 cup, 1/4 cup, 1 cup. It is about knowing how much to boil, how much to blend, how much to stir fry. That comes with practice.

]]> 0, 11 Apr 2017 19:29:13 +0000
Mango and chicken meet, marry well and happiness ensues Wed, 12 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 This recipe treats tender chicken thighs to two of my all-time favorite flavor sensations: a mouthwatering Asian-style marinade that hits every single taste bud, and the alluring char that happens when food gets near fire.

The marinade strikes a bold sweet-salty-savory-spicy balance without the heaps of refined sugar found in many like it. Here, most of the sweetness comes from the mango itself, which, of course, also lends a tropical flair. That sweetness is offset by the tang of fresh lime juice, a generous helping of savory garlic and a salty umami punch from Thai fish sauce. If you don’t have the latter, you could substitute soy sauce, but I think it is worth picking up a bottle of fish sauce, as it has become a “new essential” ingredient – along with the Sriracha here, which gives the marinade a kick. I used a gentle amount in the accompanying recipe, but feel free to add a couple more shakes if you like things hotter.

The ingredients come together easily in the blender, and then time does the work as the chicken marinates. For full impact, four hours is the minimum, but it could go for up to 12 hours, making this recipe easy to pull off on busy weekdays. I typically blend the marinade the night before I am planning to cook, then combine it with the chicken in the morning so that it is ready to cook when I get home from work.

Then all it takes is less than 20 minutes in the broiler, or on the grill, for succulent chicken with crisped edges that complement a realm of big flavor within.


Here, tender chicken is treated to a bold mango-lime mixture then char-broiled for mouthwatering flavor. The marinade has a tantalizing sweet-salty-savory-spicy balance without the heaps of refined sugar found in many similar store-bought marinades, thanks to the sweetness inherent in the tropical fruit.

The chicken needs to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 cup mango chunks (defrosted if from frozen)

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)

11/2 to 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce

2 tablespoons canola oil, or other neutral-tasting oil

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

2 teaspoons Sriracha

3 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

11/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving

Lime wedges, for serving

Combine the mango, lime juice, fish sauce, oil, sugar, Sriracha, garlic and salt in a blender; puree to form a smooth marinade. Transfer to a quart-size zip-top bag. Add the chicken and seal; refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler element; preheat the broiler.

Place the chicken on a broiler pan, allowing some marinade to cling to it. Broil for about 8 minutes, then use tongs to turn the chicken over and spoon a bit more marinade on the second side. (Discard any remaining marinade, at this point.) Broil for about 9 minutes, until lightly charred around the edges and the chicken is cooked through.

Serve warm, with cilantro and lime wedges.

]]> 0, 11 Apr 2017 19:34:59 +0000
Portland chef shares memories of Italian Easter bread, handed down from his grandmother Wed, 12 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Damian Sansonetti has baked and eaten Easter bread all his life, but when it comes to braiding the dough for the holiday treat, he has to call over his wife and business partner, llma Lopez.

“Your left…up…across…” she coaches him. As the mother of a 3-year-old girl, she’s had a lot more practice with braiding.

“This guy’s going over, and this guy’s going under, right?” Sansonetti mutters in reply as he braids three logs of bread dough back and forth, over and under.

After the braiding and one more proofing, what will emerge from the oven is a beautifully browned bread that looks deceptively simple. But cut a slice and chew the fine crumb, and it’s more complex than it appears. Bite into a fennel seed and taste a hint of licorice, then feel the soft pop of a golden raisin that adds just a touch of sweetness. Running through the whole slice is a backdrop of lemon and orange zest.

Sansonetti, an Italian-American chef who co-owns the Portland restaurant Piccolo with Lopez, a pastry chef, learned how to make Easter bread from his grandmother, and he suspects his great-grandmother in Italy made it the same way he does today. His family is from the Abruzzi region in central/southern Italy; his grandmother, Ann Benequista Sansonetti, was born in the town of Castel Di Sangro.

Italian Easter bread, pane di pasqua in Italian, is known as pigne in the Sansonetti family (a local dialect? Sansonetti isn’t sure), and it’s a little different from the festive Easter breads with the colorful sprinkles and dyed Easter eggs on top. Sansonetti says his family’s version was more ornate when it was made in Italy, where they decorated the top with dried fruit, or put raw, dyed eggs in the dough that would bake with the bread. Ann Sansonetti preferred flavoring with fennel seeds, golden raisins and anise extract, which she had to buy at the neighborhood pharmacist in Pittsburgh because it was not in wide use in those days and could not be found in supermarket aisles.

“You could always tell when she was making pigne or pizzelles because the whole kitchen always smelled like anise oil,” Sansonetti recalled.

The anise oil came in a big dark bottle with a medicinal dropper for rationing it out. The golden raisins filled a big, clear canister on her kitchen counter. “I thought they were super special,” Damian Sansonetti said. “At the time, you never saw golden raisins around that much. I guess she bought them at the Italian grocery store.”

His voice fell to a hush: “I thought they were these sacred golden raisins.”

Sansonetti with finished loaves. Staff photo by Derek Davis


Ann Sansonetti, now 94, came to the United States when she was 12. After entering through Ellis Island, the family settled in Pittsburgh, where her father found work as a bricklayer and woodworker. Damian Sansonetti still has some memories of his great-grandfather, who fought for Italy in World War I and carried mustard gas burns on the back of his neck the rest of his life. He smelled like wine and salumi, which he made in the family’s basement.

“They would use the wine press to press the prosciutto legs to get the blood out,” Sansonetti said.

Ann Sansonetti and her husband of some 70 years now live in a retirement home just three blocks from the house where they raised their five children. Damian Sansonetti is their oldest grandchild. She taught him how to make cavatelli and other pasta when he was a boy.

“She’d make spaghetti and leave it on the board to dry, and then we’d have it for dinner,” he recalled.

If they didn’t make the pasta themselves, they’d buy it from the local Italian grocery store where it was made fresh every day. The family frequented Mancini’s, a well-known Pittsburgh bakery where they bought Italian bread.

Sansonetti said his grandmother started with recipes, but she only followed them once, and after that trusted her memory and instincts. She cooked and baked by feel and touch. She paid attention, but no matter what she made, and no matter how good it was, “She was never happy with it,” Sansonetti said.

Ann Sansonetti baked lots of Italian cookies and pizzelles, making a small batch of something sweet every day. All of the women in the family took their own versions of Italian cookies to weddings, where a cookie table took the place of a wedding cake and people gossiped about whose cookies weren’t quite up to snuff.

“She’d make wedding soup all the time, but her style of wedding soup, with tiny meatballs, braised green escarole, with pastina and nice cut-up pieces of onion and carrot,” Sansonetti said. “The broth, I don’t know how long it took to cook but it tasted like fresh, roasted chickens.”


The Sansonetti Easter tradition began with church (Sansonetti was an altar boy) and maybe a slice or two of toasted pigne with butter. Later came an Easter egg hunt at his aunt’s house, and food – lots and lots of food. Sansonetti said sometimes – especially when he was younger and the family was smaller – they visited two or three relatives’ homes on Easter Sunday, with a spread laid out at each location.

“There was always ham, and usually some kind of pasta, and then a boatload of side dishes,” Sansonetti said. “We would have lamb sometimes because it was springtime.”

Easter bread was not just for breakfast. It was out all day long, eaten before and after the big meal and as a snack, too.

Orange marmalade is another Easter food tradition for Sansonetti, thanks to his father, Steve Sansonetti, a classically trained chef who attended the Culinary Institute of America and worked as a corporate chef for 25 years. He ran the Carnegie Museum’s dining hall at one point, and cooked for a couple of U.S. presidents.

The ingredients and tools Damian Sansonetti uses to make the Easter bread of his childhood, as well as braids waiting to be woven. Staff photo by Derek Davis

“He could do a banquet for a thousand people and serve Beef Wellington and it would be no problem,” Sansonetti bragged.

For some reason, one Easter Sansonetti’s father made him orange marmalade, and after that it became an annual tradition. To this day, the Portland chef says, whenever he sees orange marmalade he thinks of Easter.

In the Sansonetti family, “everything seemed to revolve around food,” he said. “I can name family members by food, by what they liked and didn’t like.”

What was it like for Ilma Lopez, whose family is from Venezuela, to marry into such a large Italian family? Is a Venezuelan Easter anything like an Italian-American Easter?

“We do eat a ton,” Lopez said, “but it’s super different.”

Venezuelan Easters are less commercial, she said – there are no Easter egg hunts or Easter bunnies. People hike into the mountains on Palm Sunday to gather their palm fronds for church. It’s mostly a religious holiday.

Sansonetti says everyone in his family makes some version of the bread for Easter, adjusting based on personal taste. Staff photo by Derek Davis


Lopez said Ann Sansonetti – “a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, and really skinny, and adorable lady” – is still clearly the matriarch of the family who “tells everyone what to do and how to do it” and “puts food in front of you all the time.”

Does she get upset if the food is left uneaten?

“I don’t know,” Lopez said, smiling. “I usually eat everything she puts in front of me. It’s that rule. It’s the same in my family. If my grandmother cooks, you eat it. Nobody asks if you like it.”

Ever since the couple had their daughter, Isabella, three years ago, they’ve tried to meld family holiday traditions. This year, Isabella will be going on her first Easter egg hunt at Smiling Hill Farm.

Isabella enjoys helping her parents make pasta, and she has helped Sansonetti make the family pigne. The toddler loves cracking open the eggs for the bread, which she calls “hatching” the eggs. (Lopez says the disappointment shows on her little face every time she “hatches” an egg and there’s no chicken inside.)

Even as the fourth generation of the Sansonetti family is learning to make pigne, Ann Sansonetti still makes it herself every Easter. So do Sansonetti’s siblings and other members of the family. Everyone’s bread varies slightly because they’ve adapted it to their own tastes. Some skip the fennel seeds, others use less anise oil. Some of the family bakers leave out the raisins, or substitute black raisins for gold. One aunt likes her loaf wider, another likes the braids super thin and bakes it at a higher temperature so it comes out chewy. But for all of them, Sansonetti says, the bread is still one thing: “Pure memory.”

]]> 0 The ingredients and tools Damian Sansonetti uses to make the Easter bread of his childhood, as well as braids waiting to be woven. Below: The finished bread. Sansonetti says everyone in his family makes some version of the bread for Easter, adjusting based on personal taste.Wed, 12 Apr 2017 09:05:51 +0000
Vegetarian banh mi sandwiches are popping up in the Portland area Wed, 12 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 The typical banh mi is made by stuffing cold cuts, pâtés and pork products into a fluffy French roll with fresh herbs and pickled vegetables. But lately a lesser-known, vegetarian version of the classic Vietnamese sandwich has found its way onto at least four menus in and near Portland.

The sandwich has shown up at Honey Paw, Green Elephant, South Portland convenience store and Asian sandwich shop Le Variety, and the Portland Food Co-op, where you can find it in the prepared foods cooler.

The sandwich is a legacy of French colonialism in modern day Vietnam, marrying French-influenced baguettes and mayonnaise with Vietnamese-influenced pickled carrots and cilantro and mint. The tofu version is associated with the vegetarian traditions of Buddhist temple cuisine.

In fact, Quang Nguyen, one of the owners of Le Variety and a Buddhist himself, said the store in South Portland’s Redbank neighborhood does attract customers from the Vietnamese Buddhist temple in South Portland.

More noticeable, though, have been the customers from surrounding towns seeking out the off-the-beaten-path shop to try the tofu sandwich after the store promoted photos of it on Facebook.

“It’s a great healthy option for people and very affordable,” Nguyen said. “We want to create more options for the vegetarian community, keep the costs down, and make it quick and filling.”

The Le Variety tofu banh mi is a bargain at $4.85, while the others range in price from $9 to $12. Nguyen said the tofu banh mi is the store’s top seller alongside the beef banh mi.

The plant-based banh mi sandwiches in the Portland area share similar flavors, but have a number of differences, too: The tofu is generally fried, with the Green Elephant and the Honey Paw using Maine-made, organic Heiwa tofu. Both the Green Elephant and Le Variety season the tofu in a lemongrass marinade. The Honey Paw dunks it in tempura batter before frying and the bread is made in-house.

The sandwiches at Le Variety and Green Elephant feature house-pickled carrots (and daikon at Green Elephant). Le Variety and the Honey Paw make their own mayonnaise, with eggs, but the sandwiches can be ordered without the mayo. The Green Elephant uses vegan mayonnaise, while the Portland Food Co-op banh mi has no mayonnaise.

That is just one of the ways that the co-op’s banh mi is the least traditional of the four. In place of tofu, the co-op uses Maine-made, organic Lalibela tempeh marinated in Korean barbecue sauce and pan-seared. The carrots aren’t pickled. The sandwich is presented in a whole wheat wrap and comes with a container of red pepper vinaigrette dressing.

The co-op’s banh mi now competes with the falafel sandwich – also vegan – as the grocery store’s top seller. Steve Quattrucci, the co-op’s deli manager, speculated that the meat-free sandwich’s sudden rise in local popularity is because a vegetarian banh mi appeals to non-vegetarians.

“It’s one of those sandwiches that you don’t need the meat,” he said. “People feel satisfied by it. That’s the key to getting crossover sales that appeal to more than just vegans. We find lots of meat eaters who are eating meat less and looking for healthier options.”

The Green Elephant has seen steady sales of its banh mi, said front-of-house manager Andy Cole. He attributed the appearance of vegetarian banh mi on local menus to the closing last year of Kim’s Sandwich Shop on St. John Street, which for years had offered an inexpensive tofu banh mi. Local grocers and restaurants, he said, are responding to the market void.

Brewster Taylor, chef de cuisine at the Honey Paw, said the restaurant’s tofu banh mi “sells pretty well” and also noted its crossover appeal. The banh mi is gaining fans among foodies, he said, because it’s “just a delicious sandwich.”

Author, blogger and Instagram star Andrea Duclos agrees. She lives in West Palm Beach, Florida, and included a recipe for a tofu banh mi (see recipe) in her 2015 vegan family cookbook “The Plantiful Table.”

The lifestyle blogger said the tofu banh mi is increasingly popular nationwide, in part as an extension of what she calls “bread culture.” Bread culture, she explained, includes everything from artisan bread to restaurants that serve only toast to more sandwiches on all menus.

“Hip sandwiches are just the thing now,” she said. “With the banh mi, you don’t have to be a vegan restaurant to have the sandwich. Bread culture is back and the tofu banh mi is hip, easy, and cool.”

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

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

]]> 0 Green Elephant added a tofu banh mi to its specials board last summer and has kept it there because of how well it has sold.Wed, 12 Apr 2017 11:12:58 +0000
Don’t reject a wine simply because it’s no longer in vogue Wed, 12 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 I hustled over to the table. It was a busy Saturday night at Hugo’s in Portland, and my help had been requested by a couple who were trying to figure out what to drink. “We like rich, flavorful white wines,” they said. They went on: “Well… we’ll basically drink anything but Chardonnay.” And, without skipping a beat, the gentleman exclaimed, “This white Burgundy looks intriguing! Tell us about that!”

I was momentarily lost, and it took me a couple seconds to locate myself. Two things in the interaction gave me pause. One confusing, the other unfortunate.

The confusing aspect will be plainly evident to all those who know a thing or two about wine. Namely, that Chardonnay is, by and large, the principal grape in white Burgundian wine. Translated accurately, the gentleman’s statement would go like this, “Well… we’ll basically drink anything but Chardonnay… This Chardonnay looks intriguing! Tell us about that!”

This first bit can be chalked up to a simple lack of knowledge about how the French designate their wines. All Sancerre white wines are Sauvignon Blanc. All red Burgundy is Pinot Noir. All white Burgundy is Chardonnay. The couple lacked some fundamental information about the wine world. No crime. I just needed to look through the actual words they were using to get to what they meant by those words. That’s part of a sommelier’s job; to decipher what is meant by what is said when the sommelier and the guest aren’t speaking the same language. This part of the job is a little like being a detective and can actually be quite fun to figure out.

The aspect of the conversation that was unfortunate from my point of view was that anyone would refuse to drink all wine made from a particular grape.

Why does it continue to be fashionable to hate on Chardonnay? Wines made from Chardonnay are fetching the highest price tags in the world, consider $1,500 for a bottle of Grand Cru White Burgundy. This merciless marginalization rarely directs itself against other grapes, although in the wake of the hit movie “Sideways,” set in Santa Barbara County, California, it was the height of fashion to eschew drinking Merlot. What’s going on?

One reason could be that people like to be part of an informed group. For many of us, if we hear enough from multiple outlets that people who drink well don’t drink a particular thing, then we fall in line with popular trends. Drinking this way has palpable benefits, but also heavy costs. I wouldn’t recommend it because it inevitably brackets out a broad swath of drinking experiences merely because of some wine elites. It’s usually more fulfilling to try things yourself and make your own decisions. Popular tastes can be a fickle beast.

Chardonnay is the principal grape in white Burgundy. Vytautas Kielaitis/

Another reason is, ostensibly, that sometime in the distant past this couple drank a Chardonnay that they hated. Fair enough. I’ve had innumerable sips of Chardonnay that induced my gag reflex. But is this one negative experience sufficient to condemn all Chardonnay? It’s tantamount to saying, “I once had a hot dog, and I couldn’t stand it so I’m never ever going to eat another thing made from pork!” How about choucroute? Nope. How about the treasure trove of charcuterie from all over the world made from pork? Nope. How about bacon? Nope. Why? I had a hot dog once. Sigh.

To be fair, there is an ocean of bad Chardonnay out there. Chardonnay is a reliably neutral-tasting grape, with some notable exceptions. It’s the blank slate of the grape world. It will reflect, more than most other varietals, the vintner’s idealized version of Chardonnay, be that crisp and minerally or sappy, sweet and oaky, or the whole expansive spectrum in between. Why castigate all Chardonnay because you don’t like some of them? It makes no sense. It’s unnecessary. And, because wine drinking is principally about pleasure, it’s unfortunate to cut out so much potential pleasure.

So, think you don’t like Chardonnay? Here are two bottles that may persuade you to change your mind. Both are great examples of French Chardonnay, each doing different things.

La Chablisienne, “Pas Si Petit,” Petit Chablis

This fresh, young Chardonnay, aged in vats, shows no signs of oak on the nose or on the palate and is replete with citrus fruits combined with the shell-y minerality that is the hallmark of Chablis. If you don’t like wood in your wine, this is for you. In Maine, this Petit Chablis is distributed by Central Distributors.

Domaine Andre Bonhomme, Vire-Clesse

This Chardonnay hails from the southernmost area of Burgundy, near the Macon region. It is the warmest area in Burgundy and as a consequence usually produces the richest expression of Chardonnay. Whispers of oak – vanillin and baking spices – mix with the orchard fruits. It’s more opulent than the Petit Chablis but is by no means flabby. In Maine, Mariner Beverages distributes Vire-Clesse.

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 is the principal grape in white Burgundy.Tue, 11 Apr 2017 19:26:05 +0000
With ‘Mr. Apple’ speaking, talk is sure to be fruitful Wed, 12 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 John Bunker, aka Mr. Apple,” will speak on Thursday at the East End School, 195 North St., on caring for fruit trees, preparing for the growing season, the new(ish) heritage orchard at Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association in Unity, and what varieties of fruit trees are best-suited for growing in Maine.

Palermo resident Bunker, author of “Not Far from the Tree – a Brief History of the Apples and Orchards of Palermo, Maine,” is well-known for his work saving heritage apple varieties.

The talk begins at 5:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public; it’s sponsored by The Friends of Forest City Trees. Weather permitting, attendees will walk across the street to visit Mt. Joy Orchard, the free-to-pick public orchard, and the community garden.

You can’t eat much more local.

— Staff report

]]> 0, 11 Apr 2017 17:10:36 +0000
‘The Vegetable Butcher’ puts greens at the center of the plate Wed, 12 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini.” By Cara Mangini. Workman. $29.95.

“The Vegetable Butcher” by Cara Mangini contains information on every aspect of fresh vegetables, starting with the best season to find, select and store them and ending with their detailed preparation.

The incongruous title refers to Mangini’s message that vegetables can be “butchered” to make main course dishes, not just chopped or cubed for side dishes. Her approach reflects a current trend at many high-end restaurants in America that put vegetables at the center of the plate; Mangini herself worked as a “vegetable butcher” at Eataly in New York.

The first 21 pages of the cookbook, which is vegetarian, are dedicated to types of knives and other tools to show the variety of techniques for slicing and dicing vegetables.

That section is followed by the vegetables themselves, over 50 of them in alphabetical order, beginning with artichokes, and encompassing both the common – such as Brussels sprouts and rutabaga – and the exotic, such as crosnes, jicama, nettles and salsify.

Each vegetable gets a description, a photo of it raw, and a list of “good partners,” all useful information. Step-by-step instructions and more photos demonstrate how to cut and prepare that specific vegetable, followed by recipes, some with full-page photographs of the completed dishes, as well.

The recipe titles (for example, Kohlrabi Carpaccio with Collard Ribbons, Pears, Pistachios, and Lime-Balsamic Vinaigrette) and the list of ingredients are often long, giving the appearance of complicated dishes. But don’t be intimidated. In fact, many are actually fairly simple to make and the ingredients easy to come by. The combinations are often ones I’d have never thought of, especially for the less familiar vegetables.

Most of the cookbook is devoted to savory dishes, for example Smashed and Seared Beets with Chimichurri and Goat Cheese Crema. But Mangini includes some unusual sweet treats as well: Chocolate Avocado Budino with Cinnamon and Sea Salt, and Parsnip-Ginger Layer Cake with Browned Buttercream Frosting are just a couple of the desserts centered around vegetables.

Since my kids have a newly acquired taste for eggplant, I went right to eggplant, even though the “best season” for this vegetable is midsummer to early fall. What can I say? While leafing through this hefty hardback textbook (346 pages), a scrumptious photo of a slice of eggplant sandwiched between tomato and mozzarella cheese and topped with a basil sprig and drizzle of balsamic dressing caught my eye. The recipe opposite this photo is for Eggplant Steaks with Salsa Verde. In my haste, I made the salsa verde before I took a second look and realized the photo I was looking at went with the recipe on the previous page.

There are actually several places in the book where the photo facing a recipe does not correspond to that recipe but to the recipe on a page before or after. To be fair, the full-page photos do have the name of the dish and page number for the recipe in small print at the bottom. You just have to pay attention, something, unfortunately, I don’t always practice when multi-tasking in the kitchen.

The recipe that went with the photo I was looking at was for Eggplant Stacks, not steaks, a simple dish. The recipe calls for grilled eggplant, but as I tested it during springtime in Maine my grill is still covered in snow. The oven-roasted eggplant worked fine; however, I will definitely make this dish again on the grill during the best season for eggplant, when I will also take the salsa verde out of the freezer.



Serves 4-5

1 medium globe eggplant (about a pound) sliced into 1/2-inch rounds

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Eggplant, tomato and mozzarella stacks with pesto sauce and balsamic reduction. Photo by Matthew Benson

Fine sea salt

2 to 3 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced into a total of ten 1/4-inch thick rounds

2 small heirloom tomatoes, sliced into a total of 10 1/4-inch-thick rounds

Coarse or flaked sea salt

1/3 to 1/2 cup basil-walnut pesto

6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese cut into ten 1/4-inch -thick slices

Freshly ground black pepper

Balsamic reduction (recipe follows)

10 fresh basil leaves

Place eggplant rounds in a single layer on a baking sheet, and brush both sides with olive oil. Remove from sheet and grill 4 to 5 minutes per side over medium heat (or leave on sheet and roast at 400 degrees F in the oven about 20 minutes), turning once, until the eggplant flesh is tender through the center, but not completely soft. Return the eggplant to the baking sheet to cool. Sprinkle lightly with fine sea salt.

Line another baking sheet with parchment, and place ten of the largest tomato slices on top in a single layer. Sprinkle each with a pinch of coarse or flaked sea salt. Top each tomato slice with a grilled eggplant round that is the same size or slightly smaller. Spread a small spoonful of pesto over each eggplant round and top it with a slice of mozzarella. Place smaller tomato slices on top of the mozzarella. Sprinkle each tomato slice with a pinch of coarse or flaked sea salt and pepper. Drizzle with the Balsamic Reduction and top each stack with a basil leaf.


Makes about 1/4 cup

1 cup balsamic vinegar

Place the vinegar in a small, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer until the vinegar reduces to about one quarter of its original volume, about 20 minutes.

Check the consistency: should be syrupy and coat the back of a spoon. Simmer slightly longer if needed.

]]> 0, 12 Apr 2017 11:13:11 +0000
Another Portland restaurant closes Tue, 11 Apr 2017 21:50:08 +0000 Staff report

The Portland restaurant 3Buoys Seafood Shanty & Grille, located on the corner of Cumberland and Washington avenues, has closed permanently.

A “For Rent” sign appeared on the door at 111 Cumberland Ave. a few days ago, and the owner confirmed on his Facebook page that the seafood shanty is closed, without saying why. The restaurant’s telephone has been disconnected.

The shanty was known for its huge lobster rolls, seafood plates and “Buoy Burgers.” It opened in December 2012.

Another location on U.S. Route One in York appears to remain open, but several phone calls would not go through.

]]> 0 restaurant 3Buoys Seafood Shanty & Grille has closed.Tue, 11 Apr 2017 18:25:55 +0000
Florida-based chain tells Rockland restaurant to change its name Sun, 09 Apr 2017 15:51:54 +0000 ROCKLAND — A Main Street restaurant plans to reopen next month after shutting down because of a legal challenge to its name.

Broken Egg closed temporarily last month after its owner, Heather Symmt, received notices from a law firm representing the restaurant chain Another Broken Egg, which is based in Destin, Florida.

Another Broken Egg claimed that Rockland’s Broken Egg was infringing on the chain’s trademark.

The Rockland Broken Egg opened in May. Symmt moved to the area from Texas a month before that after working the previous 20 years as an accountant.

Symmt said she received a notice on March 17 from a law firm that represents Another Broken Egg. That was followed by a March 22 letter from the same firm demanding that Broken Egg stop using the name, which Another Broken Egg had trademarked through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Another Broken Egg had 34 restaurants as of June 2014, according to its website. The closest one to Maine is in Durham, North Carolina, which is 873 miles from Rockland.

Symmt said she closed the restaurant a week after receiving the notice, saying that legally Another Broken Egg has the right to object to her use of the name. She said, however, that she was offended by the letter’s insinuation that she was trying to take advantage of Another Broken Egg’s reputation.

Symmt said she came up with Broken Egg after brainstorming one night.

“I’m a small, independent shop. My menu is not close to their menu. My logo is not close to their logo,” she said.

The letter stated that she is prohibited from using Broken Egg, Broke Egg, Break the Egg, and Another Broken Egg.

Symmt said she decided to temporarily close to give herself time to choose a new name for the restaurant and get new menus, a new sign and new social media pages. She said she also still has T-shirts with Broken Egg on them.

“I’ve got a few mediums left if anyone is interested,” she said.

The cost of changes will be a few thousand dollars, Symmt said, in addition to the lost business during the shutdown.

Symmt said she will talk with a small group of creative people in the area to come up with a new name. She said she will also have a trademark search conducted.

The temporary closure came at a good time, however, since March and April are slower months for restaurants. Symmt said her goal is to have the restaurant at 421 Main St. reopened by May 18, which would be the first anniversary of when Broken Egg opened.

Another Broken Egg could not be reached for comment.

]]> 0 Egg in Rockland plans to reopen next month after it renames its Main Street business.Mon, 10 Apr 2017 12:25:28 +0000
The roots of this year’s Source prizes Sun, 09 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 EDITOR’S NOTE: Christine Burns Rudalevige writes the weekly Green Plate Special column for Source, which has been adapted into her first cookbook, “Green Plate Special” (Islandport Press, May 2017).

Thanks to Central Maine Power Company, Source writer Mary Pols and craftsman Jeff Raymond, a stunning turned maple bowl spends its days decorating my sideboard and its nights housing my family’s seasonal dinner salad. The bowl reminds me of the 125-year-old tree that stood in our yard until early January. It reminds me of that tree because it used to be part of it.

We (as well as our insurance company) have watched this particular maple closely since moving into the house in the summer of 2012. We’d argued among ourselves about whether the few green leaves sprouting each spring about 30 feet up were a stronger sign that the tree was alive than the big branches that rained down on our driveway during winter storms were a signal that it was dead. The electric company deemed the dying tree a menace to their service in our neighborhood and this winter made the decision to cut it down.

Once the deed was done, there were a dozen massive chunks of maple too big for us to move ourselves, let alone cut into usable firewood on our own. So we hired Tim Vail’s Tree Service to help us with the job. Before he hauled his gear over, Tim suggested we find a local woodworker who could put the bigger pieces to good use. Enter Mary, a Facebook as well as real-life friend, who responded to my social media query about local artisans looking for local mediums with which to work. She recommended her childhood friend, Jeff Raymond, who now lives and turns bowls in Richmond.

He spent an afternoon cutting the chunks into cross-sectioned rounds he could load into his truck. He explained how half the tree was still alive. All the more interesting the bowls will be, he said. I can attest to the fact. My bowl – a thank-you for the gift of natural material – is slightly oval, has stripes of honey amber, deep brown knots and even a few worm holes.

This story takes one more interesting turn, the bowls presented to the 2017 Source Award winners in recognition of their work in sustainability in Maine came from the selfsame tree. Life in full circle.

]]> 0 Awards bowls made by Jeff Raymond.Fri, 14 Apr 2017 16:16:34 +0000
Dine Out Maine: Big Fin Poké keeps quality high as it rides Hawaiian food trend Sun, 09 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 At 48 million, we stopped counting. On that brilliantly sunny Wednesday afternoon, my niece and I finally decided to relinquish our seats at Big Fin Poké’s long window counter, where we had spent the previous half-hour eating poké (rhymes with OK) and watching passersby on Westbrook’s Main Street, all the while jotting notes on a business card.

We must have looked ridiculous: two chopsticks in one hand and a pen in the other. But what we needed was a calculator.

Our goal was to figure out the total number of unique poké dishes someone could order from the fast-casual Hawaiian restaurant.

Thanks to a menu that features seven proteins, dozens of mix-ins, vegetables and crunch-enhancing toppings, it turns out that number is 3.2 billion, give or take a few. If you ate three meals a day at Big Fin Poké, it would take you more than 2 million years before you were forced to repeat a dish, and by that point, I suspect you’d have a serious case of poké burnout.

If you’re not familiar with one of the hottest international food trends of the past five years, poké is pretty easy to understand.

It is raw chunked or cubed fish (the Hawaiian word “poké” actually means “to cut crosswise into pieces”) that’s marinated and served with chopped vegetables and (often) rice. It’s the laugh-alike, walk-alike, Patty Duke cousin of Japanese chirashi sushi or Peruvian ceviche – just with better marketing.

Big Fin Poké’s owner Jimmy Liang first tasted the dish only a few years ago, but knew immediately that he wanted to introduce it to Maine. “We have a friend in California who made it for us and it blew my mind, opened my eyes to all the different flavors you could do with fish. Not like with sushi, where you’re just dipping it in soy and wasabi,” he said.

Liang, a Mainer whose family has operated Chinese restaurants like Scarborough’s Chia Sen for nearly 30 years, took his time before opening Big Fin Poké, waiting until he had first developed and workshopped a diverse catalog of sauce and marinade recipes, from yuzu citrus to Korean spicy gochu. “Every time I would go out to eat for the past couple of years, it was about taste testing. If I ate something I liked, I would go home and experiment to work out that flavor. Now all the sauces we use are my recipes,” he said.

If you’re overwhelmed by choice, Liang has also put together seven Big Fin Poké Favorite meals ($10.95 regular/$13.95 large) that can be ordered with rice, as a salad, or for extreme adventurers, coiled into a nori sheet and transformed into what he calls a “pokiritto,” in theory a cross between a gigantic maki sushi roll and a burrito.

In practice, it’s even less practical than it sounds. Big Fin Poké’s protein and mix-in portions are substantial: too large to fit comfortably inside a rice-and-seaweed package, even with the assistance of a plastic sushi rolling mat. Pokirittos wind up looking like untidy, unstable green Swiss roll cakes that must be swaddled in parchment paper just to hold their shape. They are also calamitously messy.

While poké may not yet work in a hand-held format, it is right at home in a bowl, whether sitting atop a paddle-flattened mound of slightly sticky sushi rice, or a heap of chopped romaine. Choose the former for a hearty meal, and the latter for a lighter option, which if the crowds are anything to go by, are quite popular with the yoga mat-toting set. But fair warning: Both can be more filling than they look.

Among the best of Big Fin’s pre-selected bowls are its spicy tuna with cucumbers, sweet onion and a punchy, peppery aioli that stands out best when incorporated into a poké salad. The yellowtail yuzu, made with chunks of rich, almost buttery fish, sweet pineapple, green onion and a floral, citrusy dressing, is the reverse, working best over short, fat grains of sushi rice.

By and large, Big Fin’s fish is high-quality and almost odor-free, just as any sushi-grade seafood ought to be. However, it is generally not local.

While a limited amount of fish comes from Maine suppliers like Harbor Fish Market, the majority of the restaurant’s supply comes from large corporate outfits out of New York and Massachusetts.

In almost any other circumstance, that would count as a cardinal sin, especially in a state with beautiful, world-class seafood. But Liang and his team serve raw and barely cooked fish. They do it in such volume that performing their own FDA-required food safety protocols (especially long-term freezing at ultra-low temperatures) would require space, equipment and human power that they do not have. Yet.

But that day may arrive soon, as Liang has plans to turn Big Fin Poké into a chain (another Greater Portland shop is in the works), and if that happens, it will be interesting to see if the restaurant gets in step with the local, seasonal ideology that has come to define contemporary Maine cuisine.

In the meantime, Big Fin already offers options beyond raw fish. There is gyudon (Japanese for “beef and rice bowl”), made with sliced, soy-and-sake-marinated brisket, cooked with onions and simmered until the meat pulls apart in fine, fluffy threads.

The beef bowls tend to be a little fatty – not necessarily a flaw – and as a result, work especially well when topped with extra helpings of chopped scallion and scarlet shreds of pickled ginger.

Perhaps the least appealing of the non-seafood proteins is the chicken, first marinated in garlic, onion powder and turmeric, then deep fried. While the flavor of the meat itself was decent, and the chicken cooked well, the heaviness of the chunks reminded my dinner guests of something from a mall food court. Only a thin membrane separates fast-casual from fast food, and it is important to avoid piercing it.

Which is not to say that Big Fin can’t manage a fryer. Its vegetarian poké is one of the best dishes on the Favorites menu and includes cubes of delicately fried tofu seasoned with miso, honey and mirin. Tossed with sliced cucumber, it feels light, yet substantial, and – owing to tiny black strands of mineral-rich hijiki seaweed – somehow still connected to the ocean.

As Liang makes plans for expansion, he and his wife and daughter, both of whom also work at the restaurant, continue with tweaks to make the Westbrook restaurant more inviting.

Already, they have given the space a vibrant makeover, hanging colorful, framed cut-paper collages and painting walls a vivid pink and shocking aqua that make the restaurant feel tropical, even in the middle of a Maine winter.

Notably, they are also debating adding a few more toppings, like mango, or perhaps renkon (fried lotus) chips. Personally, I’d find it hard to resist shards of toasty, crisp renkon in my bowl. On the other hand, even one extra topping would double the number of possible combinations of meals at Big Fin Poké – but really, what’s another 3.2 billion choices among friends?

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 Liang prepares a poké bowl at Big Fin Poke in Westbrook.Mon, 10 Apr 2017 09:54:46 +0000
Bangor festival celebrates beer with bacon Thu, 06 Apr 2017 20:41:27 +0000 There was a time, not so long ago, when bacon was just bacon.

Turns out, according to the 5th Annual Bangor Beer Festival, there are actually 15 different flavors, all of which will be available for sampling – in “bacon bouquets,” no less – at the event’s new “bacon bar.”

Flavors available will include triple chocolate bacon, cracked pepper and ginger bacon, and barbecued pork belly bacon. If that’s not enough, try the bacon fat-fried chips.

The beer festival, which will be held June 17 on the Bangor waterfront, has expanded this year to include five additional breweries, bringing the total to 25. The event includes a VIP session for $65 from noon to 1 p.m. VIPs get lunch from Moe’s Original BBQ, special brews not available during the general session, the all-you-can-eat bacon bar, networking with brewers and a commemorative tasting glass.

The general session will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. and costs $35. Tickets to the bacon bar are an extra $5 per five-piece bacon bouquet.

If you prefer wine over beer, come out a day early, June 16, for Wine on the Waterfront. This wine festival will be held from 4:30 to 8 p.m. on the Bangor waterfront. Tickets are $35, with a VIP package for $50.

For more information, go to

]]> 0 Thu, 06 Apr 2017 18:23:50 +0000
New food festival coming to Thompson’s Point in June Thu, 06 Apr 2017 20:34:39 +0000 Home bakers, craft brewers and food lovers of any type will celebrate Maine food this summer at the first Portland Food Launch & Festival June 22 at Thompson’s Point.

The event will cater to the state’s emerging food industry. During the day, there will be a networking event where entrepreneurs can learn about how to launch or scale up their businesses, find legal advice, or improve their branding and marketing. The evening will feature new food launches, cooking competitions and craft brew tastings. Teams of local chefs will compete in a special event.

The festival also will include announcements about the Greater Portland Sustainable Food Production Cluster. Last year, the Greater Portland Region received one of a dozen designations from the U.S. Department of Commerce naming it an “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership” region. So far the food cluster has secured more than $46 million from state, federal and private resources for Maine food businesses.

Tickets are on sale now at The event is sponsored by Fork Food Lab, the Greater Portland Council of Governments and Norway Savings Bank.

]]> 0 Thu, 06 Apr 2017 22:36:41 +0000
‘What Good Cooks Know’ lacks whimsy, but makes up for it with evidence-based rules Wed, 05 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “What Good Cooks Know: 20 Years of Test Kitchen Expertise In One Essential Handbook.” By the editors at America’s Test Kitchen. $29.95

A lot of home cooks are fans of the PBS show “America’s Test Kitchen,” the hourlong examination of the best possible cooking techniques, ingredients and utensils based on exhaustive, evidence-based testing in its industrial kitchen outside of Boston.

Testers spend countless hours on each recommendation in the book. The test kitchen has a system for trying out equipment, tasting ingredients and experimenting with recipes. Testers don’t stop until they have ruled out every option but one and come to a final decision.

It’s a kind of obsessive drive for perfection that I certainly don’t bring into my own kitchen. In fact, I’m not sure how long I’d make it in the test kitchen before I ran screaming for the door. I just don’t have that kind of patience.

At the same time, I’m happy to soak up any of the knowledge the test kitchen gleans from its rigorous, scientific cooking regime.

That’s why “What Good Cooks Know” is such a great resource. The dense, 400-plus page tome covers everything from how to stock your fridge and pantry to choosing the right meat cut and selecting the best kitchen tools – including a recommendation for a manual citrus juicer.

The back of the book includes an appendix on the “best of” dozens and dozens of common brands – like the best Parmesan cheese, orange juice, or oyster sauce. An entire section is devoted to tried-and-tested common cooking techniques, like how to cut meat and fish, cook eggs, make multiple pie doughs and create custom grill fires.

Every entry is incredibly detailed, but written clearly enough so it is easy to follow and accompanied with high-resolution color photos. America’s Test Kitchen has put together an impressive collection, but it lacks one thing: a sense of fun. The kind of whimsy and imagination so central to many other cookbooks is distinctly lacking in the by-the-numbers “What Good Cooks Know” approach. That’s probably intentional, since the test kitchen prides itself on its scientific process to get to the best possible recipe. All the same, it can feel a little suffocating.

The message seems to be, since the test kitchen has already discovered the only way to cook something properly, why bother improvising or trying something new yourself?

Full recipes make up a very small portion of the book, and mostly stick to classic, American home-style dishes. Those include mac and cheese, roast chicken, cheese lasagna, biscuits, molasses cookies and yellow layer cake.

I tried the recipe for pan-seared steaks with red wine sauce. It’s a pretty classic, simple way of cooking and although I made the mistake of slightly overcooking the steaks, the velvety, flavorful sauce made up for it. My dinner guests loved the meal, and I plan to keep the book on my counter as a guide for future culinary adventures.

Despite my grumbles about the strait-laced feel of “What Good Cooks Know,” sometimes it makes sense to follow the rules.

A velvety, flavorful sauce makes pan-seared steaks a memorable dish. Photo courtesy of America's Test Kitchen



4 (8-ounce) boneless beef steaks, 1 to 11/4 inches thick, trimmed

Kosher salt and pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil


2 shallots, minced

2 teaspoons packed brown sugar

1/2 cups dry red wine

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

Salt and pepper

1. Pat steaks dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown steaks on first side, about 4 minutes.

2. Flip steaks and continue to cook until meat registers 120 to 125 degrees (for medium-rare), 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer steaks to plate, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest while making sauce (do not clean skillet or discard accumulated fat).

3. Add shallots and sugar to skillet off heat; using pan’s residual heat, cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are softened and browned and sugar is melted, about 45 seconds. Return skillet to high heat, add wine, broth and bay leaf; bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Boil until liquid is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 4 minutes. Stir in vinegar and mustard; cook over medium heat to blend flavors, about 1 minute longer.

4. Off heat, whisk in butter, one piece at a time. Add thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaf, spoon sauce over steaks and serve.

]]> 0, 04 Apr 2017 17:11:59 +0000
The Maine Ingredient: Impress Easter guests with parade of spiral-sliced ham, scalloped taters Wed, 05 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Easter is coming up fast and I need to decide whether to have ham or lamb. As much as I love lamb, roasting a leg to its proper degree of doneness can be daunting, especially with a living room full of guests, so I generally opt for the much-more-forgiving ham.

Whoever invented spiral-slicing is a genius. Slices can be easily cut off the bone, and it makes a beautiful presentation.

A creamy gratin (otherwise known as scalloped potatoes) is a great accompaniment. Other elements to round out the meal could be asparagus mimosa (blanched spears topped with sieved hard-boiled egg), an arugula and apple salad sprinkled with crumbled blue cheese, and something special like chocolate tart (or chocolate Easter bunnies) for dessert.


Baked ham does not need to be served hot. In fact, warm is actually preferable.

Serves 8 to 10, with leftovers

1 (7- to 10-pound) spiral-sliced, bone-in half ham

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup apple jelly

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

Place oven rack to lowest position and preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Remove all packaging from ham, including plastic disk covering bone, and place sliced side down in roasting pan. Cover pan tightly with foil. (Alternatively, wrap ham entirely in a large sheet of foil and place in pan.) Bake until center registers 100 degrees F, 15 to 18 minutes per pound.

Meanwhile, combine brown sugar, jelly and ginger in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture is thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Unwrap the ham, turn cut sides up, and brush thoroughly with glaze. Return to oven and bake uncovered for about 15 minutes until glaze is sticky. Remove from oven, brush with glaze again, and let stand for at least 15 minutes before transferring to serving platter.


If you have a really large oval gratin dish, double this recipe. It’s pretty much the centerpiece of the meal. No celery root available? Just make with all potatoes.

Serves 6

2 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 2 teaspoons for finishing

1 large garlic clove, minced

1½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced about -inch thick

1 pound celery root, peeled and sliced about ⅛-inch thick

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

1 bay leaf, broken in half

1¼ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 cup shredded Parmesan

Melt the butter in a large deep skillet. Add onion and cook over medium heat until beginning to soften and brown, about 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon thyme and the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the potatoes, celery root, broth, cream, bay leaf, and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, covered, until potatoes are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to a 1½-quart gratin dish and press into an even layer. (Can be made up to several hours ahead to this point. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Sprinkle the gratin with the cheese. If it’s warm, bake uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until the cream bubbles around edges and the top is golden brown. If it has been refrigerated, sprinkle with the cheese, cover the dish with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, and continue to bake until the cheese begins to brown and the cream bubbles, about 30 minutes more. Sprinkle the gratin with the remaining 2 teaspoons of thyme, and let rest for 10 minutes 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 can be contacted at:

]]> 0, 04 Apr 2017 17:27:07 +0000
Chicken with olives is fit for Passover or any chilly spring night Wed, 05 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Passover comes in the spring, this year beginning the evening of April 10, and there is often still a chill in the evening air as families and friends gather in their homes for Seder dinners. A richly flavored and warming meal is still very welcome at this time of year.

Tender chicken thighs can sit for an extra bit of time in the oven without drying out, which is handy for a meal that often can’t be timed precisely. A sauce dense with onions, lemon and olives also keeps the meat moist and hits nice notes of savory, sweet, tart and salty. A bit of hot sauce keeps it lively. If you have a huge pan you can double the recipe, or just make two pans’ worth for a bigger group.

You could serve this right from the pan or move the cooked chicken to a plate for a moment, transfer the onions and olives and all of the wonderful sauce to a shallow serving platter, and then place the chicken back on top. Serve with a big bowl of mashed potatoes, or maybe even polenta, depending on your tradition.

On occasions other than Passover, plenty of other starches, from fregola to couscous, would also be perfect.


Serves 4 to 6

3 pounds chicken thighs (about 6 to 8)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup pitted green olives, halved

1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Sriracha

1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Pat the chicken dry. Combine the salt, cumin, paprika, pepper and allspice. Rub the spice mixture evenly onto the thighs, on both sides.

Heat the oil in a very large, deep, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side, and then transfer them to a paper-towel-lined surface. Do this in batches if necessary.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat left in the pan, reduce the heat to medium low, and add the onions. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes until they are very soft and browned, but do not allow them to get too dark; adjust the heat as necessary. You can add a tablespoon of water from time to time if they appear to be getting too brown.

Stir in the broth, olives, hot sauce and lemon wedges. Return all of the chicken to the pan, skin side up, nestling the pieces into the sauce. Cover the pan, place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and tender and the skin is crisped.

Sprinkle with the parsley before serving.

Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.”

]]> 0 February 2017 photo shows braised chicken with green olives and onions in New York. This dish is from a recipe by Katie Workman. (Sarah Crowder via AP)Tue, 04 Apr 2017 17:34:14 +0000
Gratin ‘side dish’ may make you forget the roast entirely Wed, 05 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 One of the great things about serving a roast for Sunday supper is that it tends to cook itself. Slip it into the oven, and you’re free to do just about anything else – including focusing on the vegetables and other so-called “sides.”

This recipe is for a side dish that deserves star billing. It’s a variation on the Italian potato dumplings known as gnocchi, which are often made with russets combined with flour, then rolled, shaped and boiled. They’re great, but a lot of work.

When you use sweet potatoes instead of white, and don’t have to worry about the shaping, the dumplings get considerably easier. Just scoop up spoonfuls of dough and drop them in boiling water.

Ultimately, you might even consider moving this dish from the side of the plate to the center. None of the carnivores at the table will go hungry, I promise.

Sweet potato dumplings and spinach gratin is a variation on the Italian potato dumplings known as gnocchi. Photo by Renee Comet for the Washington Post/Styling by Bonnie S. Benwick


You’ll need a shallow, 14-inch gratin dish (or baking dish with a similar volume of 8 cups). Serve with roast chicken, pork loin or lamb, sauteed mushroom ragout and escarole, orange and red onion salad.

Makes 6 servings

2 large sweet potatoes (11/2 to 13/4 pounds total), scrubbed well

11/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish

About 11/2 cups flour, plus more as needed

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

10 ounces fresh baby spinach

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

11/2 ounces (61/4 tablespoons) coarsely grated Gruyere cheese

1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Prick the sweet potatoes with the tip of a paring knife several times and place on a baking sheet. Bake (middle rack) until they are very tender, about 1 1/4 hours.

Let them cool completely, then scrape out the potato flesh and put it either through a ricer or a food mill, or puree it in a food processor. Transfer it to a medium bowl; you should have about 1 3/4 cups. Discard the skins.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Grease the baking dish with a little butter. Lightly flour a work surface.

Add the egg, the 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and the nutmeg to the pureed potato, stirring until smooth. Fold in the 1 1/2 cups flour and stir until barely incorporated.

If the mixture is stiff enough so that an inserted spoon can stand in it, proceed with the next step. If it doesn’t, add a little more flour a few tablespoons at a time, stirring just until incorporated, to form a dough that holds its shape.

Use a 3/8-ounce ( 100) disher or a level tablespoon to portion the dough into (rough-shaped) balls, placing them on the floured surface as you work.

You should end up with about 36 balls.

Add half the balls to the boiling water, reduce the heat to medium and cook the dumplings until they all float, for 2 or 3 minutes. Use a Chinese spider or slotted spoon to transfer the dumplings to the gratin dish. Repeat with the remaining balls.

Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter just starts to brown, add half the spinach, stirring until most of the spinach has wilted.

Add the remaining spinach and a hefty pinch of salt; cook until all the spinach has wilted and most of the moisture it gave off has evaporated.

Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the spinach to the gratin dish.

Combine the heavy cream and broth in a large liquid measuring cup, then pour it over the spinach. Sprinkle the cheeses evenly over the top.

Bake (middle rack) for about 20 minutes, or until the liquid is bubbling around the edges. Serve hot.

]]> 0, 04 Apr 2017 17:52:18 +0000
Recipe: Black bean-cricket chili Wed, 05 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Reprinted with permission from Entomo Farms.

Makes 8-10 servings

2 tablespoons butter

½ onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

4 celery stalks, diced

1 large green pepper, diced

1 large yellow or red pepper, diced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

3 tablespoons chili powder

2 (28-ounce) cans unsalted diced tomatoes, rinsed

2 (19-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 bay leaves

1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

1/4 cup Entomo Farms cricket powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ to ½ cup pickled jalapeño peppers, optional

Melt the butter in a medium or large soup pot and sauté the onion, garlic, celery and bell peppers. Add the cumin and 1 tablespoon of the chili powder and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, black beans, remaining 2 tablespoons chili powder, oregano and bay leaves.

Whisk the broth and cricket powder together in a bowl, then add to the soup pot.

Simmer the mixture, partially covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour until vegetables soften and chili thickens. Add the salt and pepper and the pickled jalapeños, if desired.

]]> 0 crickets retrieve moisture from a sliced potato in an experimental cricket habitat made from egg cartons in Oakland, Calif.Tue, 04 Apr 2017 18:24:37 +0000
Edible insects: When dinner has 6 legs (or maybe 8) Wed, 05 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 AUBURN — Bill and Susan Broadbent have heard all of your clever puns already, thank you very much.

When you own a business that sells edible insects, Susan notes, “the puns fly.” But that’s OK, all the little jokes don’t, ahem, bug the brother-sister team. They’ve grown so used to talking about eating insects that the puns readily hatch from their own mouths before they realize what they’re saying.

“Cricket powder seems to be a lot easier for people to swallow,” Susan Broadbent said during a recent interview, followed by a look that says “I just did it again, didn’t I?”

The Broadbents are the team behind Entosense, home of a large online marketplace at for people who like to chow down on crickets, grasshoppers, ants, beetles, scorpions, tarantulas and other critters with lots of legs and plenty of crunch. They even sell (may your gag reflex forgive us) housefly pupae.

It’s easy to make jokes, but when it comes to eating insects, Americans are behind the curve. Insects are a regular source of nutrition in places like China, Brazil, Thailand – which has 20,000 insect farms – and Mexico.

“Mexico actually has over 200 kinds of insects that they eat, including six different kinds of ants,” Bill Broadbent said.

Chef David George Gordon, Seattle-based author of “The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook: 40 Ways to Cook Crickets, Grasshoppers, Ants, Water Bugs, Spiders, Centipedes and Their Kin,” notes that 80 percent of the world’s cultures already eat bugs.

“People need to learn that insects are not the enemy because they’re taught that when they are in school,” Gordon said. “People have an unreasonable fear of insects. People think they’re germy and disgusting and gross, but they’re not.”

Bill Broadbent and his sister, Susan Broadbent, hope to expand their edible-insect business. Staff photo by Derek Davis

According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, with 9 billion people expected to populate the planet by 2050, insects may become an important part of our diet. They contain at least 60 percent protein, meet amino acid requirements for humans, are high in the “good fats,” and rich in micronutrients such as iron, magnesium and zinc. And environmentally speaking, an insect farm uses far fewer resources than a cattle feedlot or pig farm. It takes 2,600 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, for example, while a pound of crickets consumes less than two cups.

Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, speaking to investors on Wall Street last fall, predicted interest in “bug-related stuff” will explode in coming years. Investors are already taking notice. Edible crickets are being farmed in “cricket condos” in Canada and in vacant buildings in Detroit, where the first American insects-as-food conference was held last year.


But there’s still that pesky “ick factor” to get past, which is where the Broadbents come in. They season their insect snacks with familiar flavors they hope will entice consumers to give them a try. Think sour cream-and-onion-flavored crickets ($3.95 for a 10-gram sample pack), as well as crickets that are flavored with sriracha, honey mustard or curry. They also sell Chirps – crickets baked into tortilla chips – and the Cricket Crunch Bar ($6.95), crickets covered in chocolate and marketed as “the only candy bar that will make you scream.”

The Broadbents carry a number of products from other companies, but the Entovida line is their own. For that line, they import the flavored insects from Mexico and Thailand and sell them under their own label. They are working with a local chocolatier on a couple products, too, including the Cricket Crunch Bar and milk chocolate-peanut butter cups made with cricket powder. For now, they are not raising any insects for food themselves.

Some insects have a natural flavor and don’t necessarily need seasoning, the Broadbents say. Water scorpions taste like pumpkin seeds (scorpion venom goes inert after the insects die or are cooked), and katydids are reminiscent of pistachios. Maguey worms are naturally sweet. Black ants from Thailand have a strong, citrusy flavor.

Their No. 1 seller – and Bill Broadbent’s favorite – is the chapulina, a grasshopper seasoned with lemon, salt, garlic and chile. It’s a favorite bar snack in Mexico. Broadbent says the grasshoppers taste great in burritos and frittatas.

“We compare it to sushi,” Susan Broadbent said, “because in the ’80s people were really grossed out by sushi, and it wasn’t until a California chef introduced the California roll to make it seem familiar” that American consumers embraced it. “And now between Lewiston-Auburn and Portland, there’s a sushi restaurant on every corner. So we’re hoping it’s going to take that route.”

Bill Broadbent had a screen-printing business and his sister was an artist when they first discovered edible insects. Bill’s 13-year-old son, Sam, asked him one day why people don’t eat bugs. That led the family down a research rabbit hole, and the result was, an informational website. When they started getting phone calls from people asking if they were selling edible insects, Bill Broadbent said he realized there was a wide-open niche waiting to be filled and figured why not fill it himself? In 2015, he and Susan opened Entomarket, their online marketplace on Now, they both work on the business full time, and they hope to hire their first employee later this year.

The business has been profitable from the beginning, and first quarter sales have already tripled over last year, the siblings say, although they declined to give sales figures because they are in talks with investors. Gordon describes them as “major players” in the world of edible insects.


When it comes to eating insects, the family practices what it preaches.

Sam Broadbent, now 15, eats mostly crickets, and he eats them daily, usually sprinkled over salad. His sister, 13-year-old Julia, says her favorite snack is the chrysalis of the silkworm, re-named “silkworm dolls” by the Broadbents because they look like little dolls.

“I just eat those out of the bag like chips, almost,” she said. “And I put the mealworms in macaroni and cheese, and I put it on my pizza at school.”

Julia Broadbent says at first, her friends were “grossed out,” but then it became “like a dare – like, ‘I dare you to eat a bug.’ ”

Thirteen-year-old Julia Broadbent snacks on mealworms. Staff photo by Derek Davis

According to Bill Broadbent, children are much more likely to give bugs a chance than adults: 70 to 80 percent of them will readily down a grasshopper or cricket, he said, compared with 30 to 40 percent of adults. Last summer, local kids got to sample an insect or two at Bug Fest, a special event held at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine.

Who are the Broadbents’ customers? They sell their products worldwide, but 80 to 90 percent of sales are within the United States. Many customers are health-conscious athletes, such as body builders and runners, they say. Many Latino and Asian-American consumers scarf up chapulines and silkworm pupae. Schools, camps and people interested in alternative foods or the environment are also high on the list. Churches order a lot of locusts, presumably to make stories of Biblical plagues come alive.

Then there are the “preppers,” the Broadbents say – people who are convinced the apocalypse is on our doorstep and that the world will be fighting over its food resources. Crickets and grasshoppers take up less shelf space than a chicken or a whole hog, after all, and have a shelf life of at least two to three years.

And every year, the Broadbents supply Google’s “bug conference” with insects – a conference about software bugs, not creepy crawlies – for a tongue-in-cheek “bug dinner.”

Even some vegetarians and vegans appreciate edible insects because they are raised humanely, Broadbent said.

“The cricket lives its whole life,” he said. “The way they harvest it is to put it into a cooler, cool it down to a point where they’re asleep, and then that kills them. So it’s just like winter coming on.”

Crickets are known in the industry as “the gateway bug,” and can be purchased in what is perhaps insects’ most palatable form – cricket flour, which looks like ground cinnamon and can be used in pancakes, muffins, chili and many other recipes. Buy a pound of cricket powder from the Broadbents, and they’ll throw in a shaker so you can get a boost of cricket protein on any dish you want.


The Broadbents have big plans. They intend to travel to Asia and Mexico to set up better channels for importing insects. If scientists suddenly discover that eating crickets helps ease arthritis symptoms, say, they want to be able to meet demand. Also, the Broadbents, who work out of their home – the business area looks like a storeroom with shelves of stacked edible insect products – hope to expand into a larger space and to do a little experimental farming one day. If you feed a cricket honey, will it turn out sweeter? “We’ve talked about using chile to see if we can get a spicy cricket,” he said.

They’d like to connect to Maine’s organic farmers. Maybe the farmers could make extra money selling the carrot tops, potato tops and other food waste they’re now composting to the edible insect industry for cricket food.

And they’d like to connect to local restaurants, too. Chefs around the country are beginning to hold bug dinners, such as one in January, where several chefs in Denver prepared a $75 five-course “bug banquet” that attracted 50 people.

“The chefs totally got into it,” cookbook author Gordon said. “They took some of my rudimentary recipes and made them really spectacular.”

Next to getting over a fear of eating bugs, the biggest hurdle insect cuisine faces is that the public must learn how to cook them, Gordon said.

“The more world-class chefs who are experimenting with insects – and there are several who are – are paving the way for broader acceptance,” he said. “People talk about how great (edible insects) are for the environment, and it is indeed good for the planet to be eating bugs as opposed to eating cattle, but if they don’t taste good, who cares?”

Says Bill Broadbent: “We always joke that the hardest bug to eat is your first one.”

]]> 0, 05 Apr 2017 12:20:29 +0000
Recipe: Deep-fried tarantula spider Wed, 05 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Reprinted with permission from “The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook” by David George Gordon.

Makes 4 servings

2 cups canola or vegetable oil

2 frozen adult Texas brown, Chilean rose, or similar-sized tarantulas, thawed

1 cup tempura batter (see recipe)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

In a deep saucepan or deep-fat fryer, heat the oil to 350 degrees F.

With a sharp knife, sever and discard the abdomens from the 2 tarantulas. Singe off any of the spider’s body hairs with a crème brûlée torch or butane cigarette lighter.

Dip each spider into the tempura batter to thoroughly coat. Use a slotted spoon or your hands to make sure each spider is spread-eagled (so to speak) and not clumped together before dropping it into the hot oil.

Deep-fry the spiders, 1 at a time, until the batter is lightly browned, about 1 minute. Remove each spider from the oil and place it on paper towels to drain.

Use a sharp knife to cut each spider in 2 lengthwise. Sprinkle with the paprika and serve. Encourage your guests to try the legs first and, if still hungry, to nibble on the meat-filled mesothorax, avoiding the spider’s paired fangs, which are tucked away in the head region.


1 medium egg

1/2 cup cold water

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Beat the egg in a small mixing bowl until smooth. Slowly add the cold water, continuing to beat until evenly mixed. Add the flour and baking soda and beat gently until combined; the batter should be a bit lumpy.

Let the batter sit at room temperature while heating the oil.

]]> 0, 04 Apr 2017 18:24:22 +0000
Attention, America: Dorie Greenspan’s bringing back the quiche Wed, 05 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Being a part-time Parisian allows me a full-time love affair with quiche.

The savory tart is everywhere. My favorite cafes have a quiche on the menu; the flavor changes daily, but it’s always served with the same little green salad (and a not very good dressing, which must come from cafe-central; it’s inescapable). Gérard Mulot, the patissier down the street, is famous for his quiches. They’re made in grand slabs and cut to order. They also come in single-serves for picnicking in the park, and stand-alones to serve at dinner parties and pass off as your own. (Everyone knows that quiche’s provenance, but no one’s rude enough to call out the host.)

Even my friends who don’t bake much make quiche. It’s easy for the French: They buy all-butter already-rolled-out crusts at the corner convenience store, getting them halfway to quichedom in no time.

Although I can pretty much count on being offered quiche at a Paris friend’s home at least once a month, I can’t remember the last time someone other than moi made me a quiche stateside. Was the tart done in by that book with the widely known title, “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche?”

Whatever. I’m on a crusade to bring it back. It’s all part of my mission to make the world tastier.

The most famous quiche of all is the Lorraine, made with custard, cheese and lardons (pork fat or bacon). But this is a dish that even the most tradition-bound French person will give you license to tinker with. The basics are a crust and a custard made of cream of eggs – and whatever you’ve got tucked away in the refrigerator. After that, you are on your own; because you don’t need much of any one ingredient, a quiche is a perfect catch-all.

My quiche gets its good flavor from mushrooms and its good looks from cheese and herbs. But as much as I love it, I know how fickle I am when it comes to quiche. As soon as the weather changes and there are asparagus or peas or ramps in the market, it’ll be au revoir ‘shrooms and hello, spring vegetables. That’s one of the joys of having quiche in your repertoire.


There are two classic pans for a quiche: one metal, with fluted sides and a removable base (it’s the one I use); and one porcelain, with fluted sides and a solid base. If all you’ve got is an all-American pie plate, that’s OK. It would be a shame to miss out on this quiche for lack of gear.

 My go-to crust for a quiche is my version of a classic pâte brisée. I add a tad of sugar to the mix – for flavor and color – and so it’s a great switch-hitter. You can use the crust with both savory and sweet fillings. And yes, you can be all-French and buy a ready-made crust.

Go the extra baby step and partially bake the crust before filling it; the quiche’s crust will stay crisper longer when you do.

 If you use a mix of mushrooms, your quiche will be more interesting; if you toss in some more unusual or exotic varieties, it just might be fascinating.

 When you’re mushroomed out, swap the mushrooms for leeks; think about celery, peppers and onions; try eggplant or zucchini (make sure you cook away all the excess liquid). You can use cubes of cheese instead of grated cheese; add bacon in bits or chunks; and top the quiche with cherry tomatoes, which are so pretty when they pop from the oven’s heat.


Serve warm or at room temperature, with a green salad.

Makes 6 servings (one 9- to 9½ -inch tart)


1¼ cups flour

1 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into bits, plus more as needed

1 large egg

1 teaspoon ice water


1½ tablespoons unsalted butter

1 small onion, finely chopped


Freshly ground black pepper

8 to 12 ounces mushrooms, trimmed, wiped clean with a damp paper towel and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices

3 tablespoons white wine or white vermouth (optional)

3 tablespoons finely minced fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, rosemary and/or basil

¼ cup grated Gruyere, Swiss or sharp white cheddar

¾ cup heavy cream

2 large eggs

2 scallions, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced (optional)

FOR THE CRUST: Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and whir a few times to blend. Scatter the bits of butter over the flour and pulse several times, to form a coarse, crumbly mixture.

Beat the egg with the ice water and pour it into the bowl in three additions, whirring after each one. (Don’t overdo it; the dough shouldn’t form a ball or ride on the blade.) You should have a moist, malleable dough that holds together when pinched. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it into a ball (if the dough doesn’t come together easily, push it, a few spoonfuls at a time, under the heel of your hand or knead it lightly) and flatten it into a disk.

Use butter to grease your tart pan – even though the pan may be nonstick.

Roll out the dough between sheets of parchment or wax paper. Lift the paper often (so that it doesn’t roll into the dough) and turn the dough over so that you’re rolling on both sides. The rolled-out dough should be about 3 inches larger than the bottom of your pan.

Transfer the dough to the tart pan, easing it into the pan without stretching it. (What you stretch now will shrink in the oven later.) Press the dough against the bottom and up the sides of the pan. If you would like to reinforce the sides of the crust, you can fold some dough over, so that you have a double thickness around the border. Use the back of a table knife to trim the dough even with the top of the pan. Prick the base of the crust in several places with the tines of a fork.

Refrigerate or freeze the dough in its pan for at least 1 hour before baking.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Press a piece of lightly buttered aluminum foil against the dough’s surface and fill with dried rice, dried beans or pie weights. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

To partially bake the crust, bake (middle rack) for 20 minutes, then very carefully remove the foil (with its weights). Return the bare crust to the oven; bake for 3 to 5 minutes.

Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and allow the crust to come to room temperature before you fill it.

FOR THE FILLING: Melt the butter in a large skillet, preferably one that’s nonstick, over medium-low heat. Toss in the chopped onion. Season lightly with salt and pepper; cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, until translucent. Add the mushrooms (to taste), season again lightly with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high; cook for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring, until the mushrooms are softened and browned here and there.

At first, the mushrooms will sop up all the liquid in the pan, then they’ll exude it, then take it up again. Add the wine or vermouth, if using; bring to a boil and cook until it evaporates. Sprinkle the onion-mushroom mixture with 1 tablespoon of the minced herbs, cook 30 seconds more, and then transfer to a bowl to cool for at least 15 minutes.

WHEN YOU’RE READY to bake the quiche, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the partially baked crust or chilled tart shell on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

Sprinkle half the grated cheese evenly over the bottom of the crust and top with the remaining herbs. Spoon over the onion-mushroom mixture, avoiding any liquid that may have accumulated in the bowl.

Lightly whisk together the heavy cream and eggs in a large liquid measuring cup just until well blended, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Pour over the cheese and mushrooms in the crust, then scatter the sliced scallions evenly over the top, if you’re using them, and the remaining cheese.

Carefully slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake (middle rack) for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the custard is uniformly puffed (wait for the center to puff), lightly golden and set.

Transfer the quiche to a rack and cool until it’s only just warm or until it reaches room temperature before serving.

]]> 0, 04 Apr 2017 18:01:17 +0000
Think about the soil when you think about what’s for dinner Sun, 02 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Understanding how food choices have an impact on the process of global warming is an up and down proposition.

As for up, you can recognize how the production of the foods you eat releases more or less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. You can make carbon emission-sensitive decisions like buying local broccoli instead of bunches trucked in from California; choosing products with little or no plastic packaging; cutting down on the amount of industrially raised beef, lamb and pork you eat; or taking your bike to the market instead of your car.

But you’ve also got to comprehend how our eating choices can help pull more carbon out of the air and sequester it in the soil, where it can nourish a busy underground world called the “soil food web.” Healthy soil includes a dizzying array of organisms that feed off each other. They range in size from tiny one-celled bacteria and protozoa to more complex nematodes and micro-arthropods and finally to the earthworms, insects and root systems visible to the naked eye. Trees and plants use only 40 to 60 percent of the sugars they produce through photosynthesis, the process by which plants breathe in carbon dioxide and use sunlight and water to make their own carbs.

Lamb, spinach and pistachio kofta being prepared. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

“The remaining 40 to 60 percent goes into feeding biologically active soil. And this vast underground economy, if we take care of it well, can help pull more carbon from the atmosphere to be put to good use underground,” explains Lisa Fernandes, executive director of The Resilience Hub, a Portland-based nonprofit group promoting permaculture and edible landscape design.

The easy answer is to plant more green things that pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and push carbon-based food into the soil. It’s more complicated if you buy most of your food because how can you know whether it was grown in ways that support the thriving underground economy?

According to a 2014 paper published by the Rodale Institute, “Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming,” decreasing tillage when sowing (in other words, turning the soil less), planting cover crops in dormant fields, practicing heavy-duty crop rotation in active ones and using lots of compost all can help sink carbon dioxide into the soil. The paper, which reviews these practices over decades, said that widespread adoption of “on-farm soil carbon sequestration can potentially sequester all of our current annual global greenhouse gas emissions.”

Christine Burns Rudalevige adds egg to the a blender with ingredients to make lamb, spinach and pistachio kofta. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

OK, so now we know what farmers have to do, but as eaters, what is our role? First, buy from local farmers who follow these practices. Second, try to eat well-pastured proteins (See Lamb, Spinach and Pistachio Kofta recipe). Fernandes says a growing body of scientific evidence indicates that rotational grazing – where animals are allowed to stand on a piece of pasture only long enough to nibble the tops of the grasses as opposed to chomping to bare ground – stimulates underground root growth and leaves behind a bit of manure to enrich the soil.

Fernandes also advises both eaters and growers to turn to perennial plants because the soil substrate is not disturbed to produce them year after year. Recurring springtime darlings like asparagus, fiddleheads, ramps and rhubarb will do, for sure. She says concerned gardeners also can foster lovage and sorrel and perennial varieties of celery and spinach, while adventurous eaters can tuck into hosta shoots and Japanese knotweed (a nasty invasive) if found in open areas set back from the road. Last, Fernandes tells folks to turn to fruit- and nut-bearing trees for both landscaping and food. They are the ultimate carbon-sinking mechanisms.

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” (Islandport Press, May 2017). Contact her at:

Ingredients for lamb, spinach and pistachio kofta. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette


Koftas are a family of meatballs served in Middle Eastern, Balkan, and South and Central Asian cuisine. Given the geographic range, no surprise there are many recipes with different meats, fillers, herbs and spices. This recipe highlights how protein (pastured lamb), vegetable (perennial spinach) and nut (pistachios) can be reared in such a manner as to help fix carbon dioxide from the air, where it sits as a greenhouse gas, into the soil where is can be used to keep an underground biological economy thriving. I serve them with sliced cucumbers and yogurt for dipping.

Makes 15 koftas

12 ounces local pastured ground lamb

1 egg

1 small onion, minced

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/2 cup cooked, drained and chopped spinach

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios

2 tablespoons chopped mint

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1-3 teaspoons harissa

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon toasted ground cumin seed

1 teaspoon toasted ground coriander seeds

1 teaspoon kosher salt

15 short wooden skewers, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a cooling rack inside a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

Place all of the ingredients (except for the skewers) in the bowl of a food processor and combine until fairly smooth, about 30 seconds.

Take 2 tablespoons of the mixture and use your hands to form it into an oblong shape. Place the kofta on the baking rack. Repeat until you have formed all of the mixture into kofta. Place the pan into preheated oven and cook until the kofta are browned on the outside and cooked through, 20-25 minutes. If using, insert a skewer through each kofta for easy pickings. Serve warm.

]]> 0, Spinach and Pistachio Kofta, finished, above, and in process, left.Fri, 14 Apr 2017 16:16:40 +0000
Dine Out Maine: It’s all big at Frontier – the space, the eclectic menu, the world of flavors Sun, 02 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “Daddy, are you scared?” the little girl asks, one table over.

Seated cross-legged on a bar stool, as if meditating to gin up his courage, the man next to her replies, “I am – but just a little bit. I know it’s worth it.” The server has just told him that Frontier’s kitchen is willing to accommodate his special request to serve his hamburger with the spiciest hot sauce they can brew up.

“You’re lucky, because we have a chef working today who loves hot stuff. He promised not to go easy on you,” she says, first setting down his burger and then very slowly, a small bowl. Everyone looks at the bowl. I’m several feet away, and it’s all I can look at, too.

With a knife, the man spreads a little of the weapons-grade sauce onto his patty. Meanwhile, his daughter gingerly dips into the sauce with the very tip of her pinky finger, touches her tongue, and quickly grabs her glass, swiveling the straw in a panic to get it into her mouth, STAT.

They don’t realize it, but I’m not the only one watching. Several of the staff observe the scene through a steel-framed window that Noly Lopez, Frontier’s food and beverage manager, calls “the porthole,” offering a clear line of sight from the dining room into the kitchen. Eventually, the chef comes out to the table to chat about peppers with the man and to say hello to his daughter. She smiles, a little teary, and mumbles something gurgly, the straw never leaving her mouth. “That’s my kid: not afraid of flavor!” he boasts.

Lopez later tells me that, in a restaurant with a more traditional, top-down kitchen hierarchy, none of this could have happened. Under the aegis of founder Michael “Gil” Gilroy, all the chefs in the kitchen are independent and relatively equal in status, which gives them autonomy to accept an unusual request and tackle it as a personal project. “It really encourages people to take a lot more ownership of their work. It also builds more creative collaboration,” Lopez said.

Likewise, that spirit of co-creation is the keystone that holds together the Brunswick restaurant’s perilously wide-ranging, eclectic menu. On it, you’ll find warming, Thai-inspired curried mussels ($9.50 half order/$16 full order), practically levitating off the plate on steamy clouds of fragrance: kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, ginger and Madras curry powder – the whole dish tethered by long scallion stems that have been cooked down like French leeks.

Just a few lines down on the menu, there’s a superlative fish taco ($6), made with rice-flour battered, buttermilk-soaked pollock chunks. Every bite is like a syncopated 1930s drum battle between Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich, with dueling, yet harmonious crunchy components vying for supremacy. Just when you think the golden, gluten-free fried fish has the edge, the slow-marinated golden raisin and red cabbage slaw snaps into focus. All you can do is keep chewing and wait for the tangy kimchi remoulade to set things back on the right pace, just in time for the next mouthful.

Then there’s a cilantro cream-topped Buffalo chicken sandwich ($14) with a difference: a generous slathering of sauce that leaves out the Texas Pete and Tabasco in favor of a unique blend of floral, aromatic harissa and Sriracha. It’s assertively spicy and very messy, but worth every drop that ends up on your trousers.

Despite the restaurant’s dizzyingly global scope, every dish begins with a careful team assessment of what is available locally – an easy conversation to have at a place where several staff members are farmers themselves. “We ask our people, then start with what we can get our hands on locally. Then we ask what we can do with it that is out of the box,” Lopez said.

However, amid the sushi bowls ($10) and falafel burgers ($13), you’ll find a scaffolding of simple dishes that stay well within the walls of that box – not always to good effect. The salt-roasted, skin-on onion ($7) with a thick apple cider vinaigrette is one example. After being nestled into a bed of salt, roasted slow and blasted in a convection oven right before serving, the onion is served split into delicately charred quarters and sprinkled with pepitas. Ours was sweet and tender at its center, but nearly raw toward the exterior. And, as if in impudent disdain of the several hours it spent in a very hot oven, our onion cooled to room temperature within a minute or two after it arrived at the table.

A chocolate cake with mocha frosting ($9), made by a local baker “keen not to receive recognition,” according to Lopez, was not much better: dense, dry and crumbly, with no hint of the Chambord flavor the menu advertised. Or a humdrum rigatoni bolognese ($23), made with agreeably al dente pasta, but sauced with a glug too much cream and not enough acid. Frontier’s better dishes, it seems, are the ones that reflect the staff’s zeal for border-busting experimentation.

That seems about right for a business that does not even conceive of itself as a place to dine. “Actually, it is more of a gathering space, not a restaurant, per se. It’s a place where some people come for food, some for drinks, some for film, some for art, and some for all at the same time,” Lopez said.

Frontier fills a sprawling, towering space in Brunswick’s historic Fort Andross Mill. Staff photos by Brianna Soukup

Frontier, which opened in the renovated, centuries-old Fort Andross in 2006, is certainly spacious enough to accommodate every one of its multiple personalities (and a few more to boot), with ceilings that tower dozens of feet overhead, restrooms larger than some studio apartments, an 85-seat cinema and enough wall space to host an enormous exhibition of local children’s art, including the eerie, entertaining marker-on-canvas portrait work of young artist John Hall.

Between courses, my dinner guest and I wandered, nursing glasses of snappy, tart bRosé ($7) from Burlington, Vermont, the evening’s draft cider selection. As we walked, we saw the site of Frontier’s upcoming expansion into the rear of the converted mill building, and heard one of the hosts telling a guest about designs to make an adjacent space into a new coffee bar.

Every once in a while, I thought I could also hear the thrum and rush of the Androscoggin River that flows right outside the windows. Yet now that I think about it, it could easily have been the sound of Frontier’s enthusiastic team and their bold communitarian ambitions, animating the space as it evolves rapidly into even more of a “third space” for locals. Are they scared? Probably – but just a little bit.

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 local pollock fish tacos with cabbage and golden raisin slaw and kimchi remoulade.Sat, 01 Apr 2017 17:05:29 +0000
Holy Donut owner named SBA business person of the year Wed, 29 Mar 2017 14:45:00 +0000 Leigh Kellis, founder of The Holy Donut in Portland, has been selected as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Maine Small Business Person of the Year.

The SBA announced its 2017 Maine Small Business Award winners Tuesday. The awards recognize outstanding small business owners throughout the state.

The Holy Donut, with two locations in Portland and one in Scarborough, specializes in potato-based doughnuts. The business also sells its doughnuts wholesale to Whole Foods and Coffee by Design. Kellis was chosen for the award based on the continued growth of her business and the contributions she has made to the local community, the SBA said.

“The story of Leigh Kellis and The Holy Donut perfectly illustrates the entrepreneurial spirit and tenacity necessary to start and grow a thriving business in Maine,” said SBA’s Maine District director, Amy Bassett, in a news release.

Kellis will compete with winners from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam for National Small Business Person of the Year during the SBA’s National Small Business Week celebration, April 30 to May 1. The announcement will be made in Washington, D.C., on May 1.

The SBA announced a total of 10 award winners in Maine, in categories including veteran-owned: Joshua Broder of Tilson Technology Management LLC of Portland; family-owned: Alison and Scott Snell of Wilson’s on Moosehead Lake of Big Moose Township; woman-owned: Pamela Laskey of Maine Foodie Tours of Portland; and minority-owned: Naima Abdirhmon of ARWO Learning Center LLC of Portland. The organization is also recognizing Small Business Exporter of the Year, James Banfield of Terra Speakers of Brunswick; Young Entrepreneurs of the Year, Devin McNeill and Charles Friedman of Flowfold of Scarborough; Home Based Business of the Year, Justin and Alisa Carney of Afterlife Affections LLC of Washburn; and Micro-Enterprise of the Year, Kate Beever of Maine Music & Health LLC of Saco.

The SBA named Ann Marie Swenson of People’s United Bank as its Maine financial services champion of the year.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

Twitter: @jcraiganderson

]]> 0, ME - SEPTEMBER 25: A stack of donuts, from top include a raspberry glazed, dark chocolate sea salt, and vegan cinnamon sugar, at The Holy Donut on Park Avenue in Portland Thursday, September 25, 2014. Leigh Kellis, owner of the business, is constantly trying to determine how many donuts to make for the day so as not to run out, but also not to make too many. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer)Thu, 30 Mar 2017 05:41:50 +0000
Naan pizza is a fun way to sample the flavors of India Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 This naan pizza is a fun way to eat the flavors of India in America’s favorite food. The popular chicken tikka masala is widely believed to have been created in England for the British palate and is actually the national dish. But it is so tasty that restaurant diners have demanded that the dish is made worldwide.

These days, naan – Indian flatbread – is available in nearly every grocery store. It can be plain or flavored, and even stuffed.

Naan used to be an occasional treat when I’d go out to eat at an Indian restaurant. It was hard not to fill up on the naan before the meal arrived. But now that naan is as available as pita bread, you can enjoy it at home.

The small size and light and airy texture of store-bought naan makes it a shoe-in for a quick pre-made pizza crust. And because I wanted to keep the pizza in the spirit of India, I am topping the pizza with chicken tikka masala which is tailor-made for pizza as it is the sauce and toppings in one. The ever-popular dish is chock-full of chunks of chicken simmered in an aromatic, creamy and slightly spicy tomato sauce full of onions, garlic, ginger, cumin and turmeric.

This sauce is the perfect thing to brighten up a boneless, skinless chicken breast and will “dress” to impress grilled shrimp, pork and countless vegetables. I used to think that I could only have this exotic sauce in an Indian restaurant, but truth be told, it is one of the easiest pan sauces to make.


Makes 6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups white onions, finely chopped (1 large onion)

3 cloves garlic, grated

1 inch piece of ginger root, grated

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

teaspoon turmeric powder

teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups crushed tomatoes

cup heavy whipping cream or sour cream

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

4 prepared naan bread

Heat clarified butter or ghee and olive oil in a heavy-bottom saucepan. Sautee onions until translucent. Add garlic and ginger. Stir to combine and continue sauteing until the garlic and ginger begin to turn golden.

Add tomato paste, paprika, cumin, cayenne, salt, turmeric and cinnamon. Saute for a couple more minutes to “toast” the spices.

Add the crushed tomatoes and chunks of chicken. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes with the lid on. Stir occasionally. Stir in cream. Continue to simmer on low heat with the lid off, stirring occasionally until the sauce is reduced and the consistency of thick gravy. The sauce can be made in advance and kept for 2 days in the refrigerator.

To use: Preheat oven to 400 F. Lay the naan out on a rack set into a sheet pan and sprinkle a small amount of the grated cheese on the bread. Top the cheese with the tikka masala, leaving a inch border around the edge. Sprinkle the top with more grated cheese. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes. The pizza is done when the cheese is melted and the edges are crisp.

Remove from the oven and brush the edges with a little olive oil while it is still hot. Serve and enjoy.

]]> 0 small size and light and airy texture of store-bought naan make it a shoe-in for a quick pre-made pizza crust.Tue, 28 Mar 2017 17:22:52 +0000
Greek-style roasted lemon potatoes are delicious Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 With two big feast days looming – Easter and Passover – I thought I’d offer up a simple but delicious side dish. I’m talking about the lemony roasted potatoes that are one of the dependable delights on the menu at a Greek restaurant. They’re crispy on the outside, but tangy and creamy on the inside … and surprisingly easy to make.

The key is to start by only partially cooking the potatoes – five minutes, then pull them off the heat. Then drain them and, while they’re still hot, toss them with lemon juice and salt. The potatoes will soak up the flavorings like a sponge.

The next step is the one that creates the crispy crust: Coat them with oil and roast them in an oven.

The final touch? Toss the potatoes with fresh chopped herbs right before you serve them. I prefer parsley and oregano, but they’d be great with rosemary or basil, too.

What are the best kinds of spuds for this dish? The top of the list is occupied by boiling potatoes and all-purpose potatoes because they hold their shape when roasted. Yukon Golds are my particular favorite. Russet potatoes – aka baking potatoes, the most famous being the Idaho – would fall apart.

If you manage not to eat them all in one sitting, you’ll love these guys all over again as leftovers. That’s because they happen to make terrific hash browns.

Just saute some chopped onion in oil or butter in a skillet over medium-low heat until it’s caramelized, add the potatoes, then mush them down with a potato masher or fork until they form a big pancake. Brown it slowly on both sides and you’re done.

That lemony edge makes these hash browns a particularly toothsome variation on the standard version.


Makes 6 servings

2 pounds Yukon Gold or other all-purpose or boiling potatoes

Kosher salt

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling the pan

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

Black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch pieces. In a medium saucepan combine the potatoes with salted cold water to cover by 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes for 5 minutes. While they are simmering, in a large bowl whisk together the lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt until the salt is dissolved and then whisk in 1 tablespoon of the oil.

Drain the potatoes well, and while they are still hot, add them to the bowl and toss. Leave them in the bowl for 15 minutes, stirring several times to make sure that the liquid is well distributed. Add the remaining 1/4 cup oil and combine well, being careful not to break up the potatoes.

Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and brush it with oil. Transfer the potatoes to the pan and spread them out in one layer.

Roast the potatoes on the middle shelf of the oven, turning them several times, until they are golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove them from the oven and toss them with the parsley, oregano and pepper to taste.

]]> 0, 28 Mar 2017 17:32:00 +0000
Cauliflower, onion and chickpeas make a tasty side dish Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 The produce aisle is a healthy budget cook’s best place to start a supermarket shopping trip.

By loading up the cart with bulky, nutrient-filled produce, you’ll visually make the cart smaller, and you’ll be less likely to fill up the cart with (less healthy) impulse buys from the more processed middle aisles. Plus, if you focus on in-season produce, you’ll be getting some of the lowest-cost nutrients in the store.

Buy a combination of softer, more perishable veggies, like leafy greens, to eat right away, as well as hardier veggies, such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower that can last longer in the crisper drawer.

On a weekday night, you can open up that mini “veggie pantry” and roast up a tasty and healthy side dish in a snap. One of my favorite combinations is cauliflower and onion. I add in a drained, rinsed can of chickpeas to boost the protein and fiber (and filling factor).

The basic ingredients are easy, cheap and can be swapped out easily according to what you have in the fridge – try broccoli if you are out of cauliflower. To jazz up the flavor, I use a bit of red pepper flake, lemon and tiny touch of za’atar, which is a terrific herb and spice blend that is worth having in your pantry. I like to serve it as a side with white fish and summer veggies, but it’s flavorful enough to be served alongside a cut of toothsome meat. Or, serve over quinoa or brown rice for a meatless main dish.


Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3/4 teaspoon (or more) za’atar (herb blend)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 small cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets, about 21/2 cups

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

11/4 cup cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), about one 15-ounce can, drained, rinsed, and patted dry

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, red pepper flakes, za’atar, salt and pepper. Place the vegetables and chickpeas in the bowl, and toss to coat. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the vegetables on the paper. Roast until cauliflower is tender and golden, about 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Squeeze lemon juice onto the mixture, stir, and serve.

]]> 0, 28 Mar 2017 17:37:31 +0000
Hearty fish and veggie stew gets zing from Moroccan flavors Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 This is the hardest time of year, to my mind: Spring storms may yet bring harsh weather, just as our spirits begin to yearn for longer, warmer days. Cold and weary, we look eagerly now for the early noses of daffodils and crocus to poke through the last of the snow. Spring must surely come soon, we think.

My solution to a snow-stunned palate is to dapple my early-spring menus with meals bright with herbs and still-seasonal citrus, dishes sturdy enough to nourish a winter-worn body but colorful enough to fill my eye with the hues of the season I hunger for.

This hearty fish and vegetable stew fills the need quite handily. Its complex, layered flavors draw on Morocco’s fascinating court cuisine, but only a couple of ingredients may not be in your pantry already. In Morocco, a tagine of fish would be served over a bed of couscous, and you certainly can serve this stew that way. In my kitchen, though, it tends to come out more as a stew, eaten from a big bowl, and yes, please, I’ll help myself to seconds.

Chermoula is what the Moroccans call the fragrant sauce that often accompanies fish. In a thicker variant, it might be used to stuff a whole roasted fish; loosened with a generous pour of olive oil, as here, it becomes a condiment much like Argentine chimichurri or Yemeni zhug.

Use it with any firm white fish that’s reasonably priced; I don’t care for basa (swai) or tilapia, two farm-raised fish that come from Indochina, most frequently, but if you like them, they’d work here as well.


A classic Moroccan chermoula doesn’t include mint, but I’ve added it here for its bright, springy flavor. You may not need all the sauce for the recipe; if you have some left over, it’s also a terrific marinade for chicken, and is a good accompaniment to beef or pork. While the vegetable stew will be delicious without the preserved lemon, it’s definitely worth the effort to find or make preserved lemons for their silky, salty contribution. (Use store-bought, or try the method below.)

Makes 4 servings


1/2 bunch parley

1/2 bunch cilantro

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, packed

3 cloves garlic, peeled

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon each: ground coriander, minced fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon each: salt, cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, optional

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup olive oil


Meyer lemons are particularly good in this recipe. Photo by Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune via TNS

4 portions (4 to 6 ounces each) mild, firm white fish fillets or steaks, such as flounder, sole, halibut, catfish or sea bass

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced vertically

1 bell pepper, sliced

1 teaspoon each: salt, ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 russet potato, peeled, thinly sliced

2 carrots, sliced diagonally

1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes

Peel of 1 preserved lemon, cut into slivers, optional

1/2 cup pitted green olives, such as Castelvetrano or Picholine, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped

For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender; whiz until well blended into a thick paste. Makes about 11/4 cups.

Use about half the paste to marinate the fish pieces. If your fish fillets are thin, as with flounder and sole, spread the uppermost side with the sauce, then fold into thirds. Refrigerate fish to marinate for 1 to 2 hours. Set remaining sauce aside.

Begin the vegetable stew: Heat olive oil over medium in a large, heavy skillet with a close-fitting lid. Add onion and peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until onions and peppers soften, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine salt, cumin and cayenne pepper; toss sliced potatoes in spice mixture until they are well-coated.

Add carrots, potatoes and diced tomatoes with their juices to the skillet. Stir to blend. Stir in preserved lemon, green olives, honey and cinnamon; bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a slow simmer. If the liquid seems to evaporate, add water to bring the mixture back to a stewy consistency.

When the vegetables are almost tender, 20-25 minutes, stir in chopped parsley. Nestle the fish portions into the vegetable stew, brushing with a little of their marinade if you wish. Re-cover the skillet, and cook until the fish is opaque but still moist, about 15 minutes.

To serve, divide the vegetable stew among 4 bowls. Top each portion of stew with fish. Pass additional sauce at table, if desired.


This method from the archives is written by “Dinner at Home” columnist JeanMarie Brownson, Meyer lemons are good here – they are sweet and tender. Look for them at large specialty markets.

Scrub 2 whole lemons clean. Cut each lemon into wedges, leaving them attached at the stem end. Coat with a generous amount of coarse (kosher) salt. Pack tightly into a small glass jar; sprinkle with more salt. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice to come about halfway up the lemons. Put the lid on the jar.

Let stand at room temperature a couple of days, shaking the jar every day. Refrigerate about 1 week. Lemons will keep 3 months or more in the refrigerator, and the skins will get softer. Rinse off salt before using.

]]> 0 lemons are particularly good in this recipe.Tue, 28 Mar 2017 19:54:05 +0000
Sauteed pork medallions a surefire success Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Here’s a quick, easy and delicious weeknight entree that’s certain to impress your family. The star of the show is pork tenderloin, the leanest and most tender part of the animal. Like beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin is a muscle cushioned by other muscles. It’s tender because it’s not used very much. I prefer it hands-down to pork loin, which is prone to cook up dry and tough.

Pork tenderloin is a narrow cylinder of meat, usually weighing between 1 to 11/4 pounds. For this recipe it’s cut crosswise into rounds (or medallions). These medallions would be kind of puny if you cut the tenderloin straight down because it’s only about 2 inches in diameter. Here, though, we slice it at a 45-degree angle into rounds that are around 3 inches in diameter.

Once you’ve tasted the cooked grapes in this recipe, you may find yourself adding them to other savory sauces. Try them with sauteed chicken and see for yourself.


Makes 4 servings

1 pork tenderloin (about 1-11/4 pounds)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper

1/2 cup Wondra or all-purpose flour

1/4 cup minced shallots or onion

1 cup red or yellow seedless grapes or a mix, halved

1/2 cup dry white wine

11/2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon firmly packed dark brown sugar

11/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Slice the pork diagonally at a 45-degree angle into 7 to 8 pieces, each about 3/4- to 1-inch thick. Don’t worry if the pieces are not all the same size. Just make sure they are all the same thickness.

In a large skillet heat half the oil over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating, season half the pork medallions on both sides with salt and pepper and then dip them in the flour, shaking off the excess. Add them to the skillet and brown them quickly, about 1 minute a side, transferring them to a plate when they are done. Repeat the procedure with the remaining pork, flour and oil.

Add the shallots to the skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the shallots, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the grapes and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown bits and simmer the wine until it is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Add the chicken broth and sugar and simmer until reduced by half. Whisk in the mustard. Return the pork and any juice from the plate to the skillet and simmer gently, turning the medallions, several times, for 2 minutes. Divide the pork medallions among 4 plates and spoon some of the sauce over each portion.

]]> 0, 28 Mar 2017 18:01:22 +0000
Maine’s prep school students are demanding more vegetarian, vegan options Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Students at Hyde School in Bath are eating record amounts of plant-based foods. This new development is no accident. The boarding school has been actively promoting vegan and vegetarian dishes for the past three years.

Hyde’s embrace of plant-based fare puts it ahead of the curve of most other independent college preparatory schools. Like their public school counterparts, private schools in the state are serving ever more plant-based food. The reason? Students are eating more vegan and vegetarian food than ever before.

“Based on my invoices, we’re buying more plant-based food than we are any other food,” Hyde’s nutrition director Michael Flynn said. He says on a given week the school buys 60 to 80 percent more vegetables, fruits, beans, grains and seeds than it did on the same week five years ago.

“We’re constantly looking at how we can increase the plant-based options so potentially they’ll eat more,” Flynn said.

It’s easy to think Flynn and his sous-chef Donna Leonard want the students to go vegan. But that’s not the case. Instead Hyde wants to occupy the majority of each student’s plate with plants, allowing a smaller space for meat and dairy.

Naturally, Hyde’s student body includes full-time vegetarians. But the number of students who select plant-based options each day far exceeds their numbers. Similar trends are evident at the nation’s restaurants and grocery stores, where non-vegetarians are buying vegan food at record levels.

Heidi L’Heureux, who works in the Waynflete Cafe at the West End day school, prepares hummus wraps – a far cry from the late 1980s when bagels, pizza and grilled cheese were favorites with the student body. Photo courtesy of Waynflete School

One new plant-based dish winning over the students and faculty at Hyde School is the savory blueberry burger, made with Maine wild blueberries, quinoa, chickpeas, cilantro and red bell peppers. Other favorite veg dishes at Hyde include zucchini-crusted pizza with tofu, sweet potato hummus and Brussels sprouts salad.

“Students reach out to us and say, ‘We have a game this week. What will give us the most energy?’ ” Flynn told me. “We encourage them to go raw, plant-based. There isn’t a quick fix, but if you stick with that for the week you’ll have more energy for that fourth quarter.”)

Hyde’s increased vegetarian options reflect the dining staff’s awareness of the ever-widening body of medical evidence linking plant-based diets to disease reversal and prevention. Flynn’s background is in healthcare, and says he “watched a lot of the patients have issues because of their diet.” In his travels, he says he also saw how dietary customs affect health. “You start to feel responsible if you’re providing food that would put them in the hospital,” Flynn said.

Over at Waynflete School, a day school in Portland’s West End, the appearance of more plant-based fare reflects increased demand.

In recent years, Waynflete students have gravitated to “salads and the healthier items,” said Pauline Barry, who has run the Waynflete Cafe since 1989 when grilled cheese, bagels, ham Italians and pizza were top sellers. Recently Barry told me: “The majority of the stuff I do is the salads and wraps.”

The cafe offers three vegan salads – harvest blend, Asian and Thai – all of which can be served in a wrap. Other Waynflete veg favorites include vegetable sushi and hummus with avocado wraps.

At North Yarmouth Academy, a day school in Yarmouth’s village, favorite vegan dishes include the scratch-made hummus, veggie fried rice and California rolls.

Dining director David Daigle told me the population of vegan and vegetarian students changes from year-to-year, but “The older kids are the ones that are more apt to eat the vegetables and vegetarian options. They have an environmental club and are more aware of how beneficial that food is for them.”

At Gould Academy in the village of Bethel, just 20 or so students out of 250 are full-time vegetarians and vegans, yet to keep up with demand for popular vegan dishes – roasted tofu with tomatoes and lentil loaf with homemade barbecue sauce, to name two – dining director Brian Scheidegger makes 40 to 50 portions.

“In the last five years the number of people taking the vegetarian and vegan options has gone up significantly,” Scheidegger said.

Other student favorites at the boarding school include ripe plantain with black beans, pad Thai with tofu, quinoa vegetable pilaf, and fakin’ bacon with sliced jalapenos.

“We’re doing more with tofu and tempeh and we’re doing more with TVP (textured vegetable protein),” Scheidegger said. “We do a lot with bean and legumes. We use quinoa and wheat berries all the time now. We have organic brown rice every day. The kids really enjoy it.”

Back at Hyde, senior Aaron Ayala is a vegetarian who appreciates the school’s focus on vegetarian and vegan foods. “There are consistently healthy, delicious options for me,” he said.

Hyde’s dining staff is happy to oblige.

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

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

Correction: This story was updated at 1:53 p.m. on April 5 to correct the name of the cook at Waynflete School shown in a photo.

]]> 0 School chef Michael Flynn prepares samples of the vegan Crispy Blueberry Burger in the boarding school's dining hall.Thu, 06 Apr 2017 12:36:37 +0000
Register now to participate in Portland’s Edible Book Festival Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “Eat your words” has never been more true than during Portland’s annual Edible Book Festival, held for about a decade at the main branch of the public library but this year moving to Riverton Elementary School. The event is one of an international series of festivals that “unites bibliophiles, book artists and food lovers to celebrate the ingestion of culture and its fulfilling nourishment,” according to its Facebook page.

Around the world, the Edible Book Festival is timed for early April to coincide with the birthday of Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a famous French gastronome who wrote “The Physiology of Taste.” Even if you’ve never heard of him, you’ve probably heard his most famous words: “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”

Participants make edible creations, often cakes, inspired by favorite books, punning on book titles or sometimes simply in the shape of a book. The entries are judged at the festival; then, they’re eaten. Past entries in Portland include To Grill a Mockingbird (a sheetcake iced in orange with black licorice grills, Oreo cookie grill trim, and a marzipan mocking bird lying on its side), The Lord of the Pies (a homemade pie topped with a marzipan decapitated pig and a pair of glasses) and The Gingerbread Man (four panels – or pages – made from gingerbread with a gingerbread man running through them, all set on a platter decorated with edibles to resemble Candyland).

Rachel Harkness, library programming manager and one of the organizer’s of this year’s Edible Book Festival, encourages anyone to enter. Part of the beauty of the event, she said, is that participants may be fairly low-skill but eager bakers, a creative kid with a fun idea, or a very gifted cake decorator with an intricate, complex edible work of art.

“It’s a very low bar to enter,” she said.

Organizers seek book lovers and bakers in a variety of age categories (elementary, middle and high school, adult) as well as group entries and those from “Food & Beverage Professionals.” The professional category is new.

“It’s a really fun activity to do with your family,” said Celeste Biron-Libby, a teacher at Riverton Elementary and also an organizer. “It’s a nice collaboration with each other. To do something – even old-fashioned – to read a book together, talk about the book, and create something with it.”

]]> 0"The Swiss Family Robinson," an entry from the 2013 contest.Tue, 28 Mar 2017 19:01:19 +0000
New food magazine to be launched in Maine in June Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Edible Maine, part of a network of community-focused food magazines with an attractive handmade aesthetic that are published across the United States and Canada, will launch in June. The Edible magazines, which operate as individual franchises, focus on the “farmers, chefs, food artisans, fishers, vintners and home cooks who feed us,” as their website describes it. They do so with a strong local, seasonal slant.

Christopher Ellis and Dylan Jacobs, a couple who split their time between Boston and Greenwood, bought the Maine franchise from Heather Carroll. She had intended to start a publication called Coastal Maine Edible but never got it off the ground and subsequently moved out of state. A mission statement for the new magazine says it aims to help readers understand their food – such things as where it comes from, how it is made and how far it travels to reach stores shelves.

At least to start, Edible Maine will be published quarterly and will run some 50 pages an issue, according to Michael Sanders, a Maine food writer of more than two decades who will serve as its editor. “This is going to be a magazine you can cook from or look at, read deeply into or read for two minutes for fun things you didn’t know you could do in Maine,” he said. “Most of all, it should help you get out and do things – go to a restaurant, go clamming, cook…

“Particularly in the last five years, the whole Maine food landscape has changed,” he continued. “One of the challenges here is to walk the delicate line between welcoming innovative, absolutely necessary things that people from away bring while not losing what really makes Maine Maine.”

The vision for Edible Maine goes beyond the state’s traditional bake-blueberry-pie-and-eat-a-lobster-roll food coverage, Sanders said. He said he is looking for writers and photographers who think outside the box. Or as Ellis described it: “high-caliber, really strong editorial content that is meaningful. I don’t want it to be all fluff.”

Upcoming stories in the new magazine will focus on rice farming in Maine, and on blueberries and bees.

The state already has a dedicated food magazine, Zest, which was launched in 2014 and aims to help readers “discover Maine’s vast world of food, drink and those who make it all happen up front and behind the scenes,” according to its own website. Sanders launched Zest as editor and produced its first three issues. Today, Nancy Gordon is both publisher and editor in chief; subscriptions to Zest cost $18.95; it’s also available free at specialty food markets and other locations.

Boston, like many other locales around the country, has an Edible publication. Courtesy of

Can Maine, a comparatively small state, sustain two magazines devoted entirely to food and drink? There is both room, Sanders said, and there are untold stories. He also pointed to the success of the Edible franchise. “There are more than 80 around, so they obviously know something,” he said. “I really think that we can do something here that people here want and that visitors here want and that advertisers want.”

Ellis analogized it to the restaurant scene. If you’ve one restaurant on a city block and then a second opens on that same block, “that’s better for both of them.”

Nearby Edible franchises include Edible Boston and Edible New Hampshire. As with all Edible magazines, copies of Edible Maine will be free and placed at coffee shops, bakeries, farmers markets, Whole Food markets and similar locations. It will also be available by subscription for $24 annually. Its website, not yet launched, eventually will offer both the magazine content and extras, such as video, Ellis said, who is also planning a program of special events.

Despite the supposed demise of print, startup food magazines like Edible have enjoyed surprising success in recent years. The most ballyhoo-ed, the New York-based Lucky Peach, recently announced its final issue. But its closure was apparently driven by differences among the partners, despite growing circulation numbers and advertising sales.

“If you can be what people want to read, they’ll read you and they don’t care about the form,” Sanders said. He compared magazines to turntables – no longer the latest technology, not by a long shot, but highly desired again for their warm sound quality and nostalgia quotient. “We may be in this moment where magazine and newspapers become the turntable stuff of the written word,” Sanders said.

Ellis and Jacobs bring a business background to the venture. Ellis had worked front-of-the-house jobs in restaurants in Boston and New York state for some 15 years and has a master of business administration; Jacobs has a background in business and science. Ellis is also a keen cook and vegetable gardener. He said they brought Sanders on board to fill in their gap in editorial experience.

“This is a project of passion, not one of experience,” Ellis said. “It’s a lot of work. Most days I bounce back and forth between anxiety and excitement.”

]]> 0, 28 Mar 2017 17:17:59 +0000