Food – Press Herald Fri, 24 Nov 2017 09:00:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Maine shrimp fishery looks unlikely to reopen in 2018 Wed, 22 Nov 2017 16:51:50 +0000 The Maine shrimp fishery appears headed toward another closed season in 2018, based on bleak stock assessments made earlier this year, regional fishery regulators say.

If a panel meeting in Portland on Nov. 29 agrees with the recommendations released this week, 2018 will be the fourth year the small but much-loved winter fishery is closed.

“It was not a good result for shrimp this year,” said Max Appelman, who coordinates the fishery for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the interstate regulatory body that oversees the fisheries along the Atlantic Coast.

Abundance of the species was at a 34-year low in 2017, the commission said. During the annual summer scientific survey, data showed that survival of the shrimp that spawned in 2016 was the second lowest observed in the history of the survey, which began in the mid-80s.

Climate change is the likeliest cause for the crash in the fishery; Northern shrimp, or pandalus borealis, require cold winter water to spawn. Waters in the Gulf of Maine, the southernmost waters the shrimp can survive in, are warming faster than 99 percent of the world’s oceans, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute has reported.

The environment for shrimp is increasingly “inhospitable,” the commission’s report said, attributing the rising temperature to climate change. There is consensus among scientists around the world that the earth’s climate is changing as a result of human activity, including burning fossil fuels to heat homes, emissions from cars and the gases emitted by livestock.

The Northern Shrimp Advisory Panel will meet at the Portland Westin Harborview on Wednesday to review the findings, and that afternoon members of the Northern Shrimp Section will make a final decision.

Appelman said it’s not unheard of for the section board to buck a recommendation by the advisory panel.

“It is almost rare that the section does exactly what the technical committee recommends,” Appelman said. “But it is mostly in the same ballpark.”

In the fall of 2012, Northern shrimp recruitment – the number of the species that survive to reach reproductive age – was down and the technical committee recommended closure. Despite this, the section voted to open the fishery in 2013. It closed early that year because toward the end of the season, the shrimpers were not meeting their quota, Appelman said, and what they were catching included too many of the small male shrimp that are vital to reproduction.

Arnie Gammage, a longtime shrimp trapper out of South Bristol and a member of the advisory panel, wasn’t surprised to learn that the numbers were down. Typically by this time of the year, lobstermen would be seeing the occasional shrimp turn up in their traps, he said, caught in a corner. Not a lot, maybe a half dozen a day. This year, he said, “I haven’t heard of one person who has seen one good shrimp yet.”

His son was one of a small group of Maine shrimpers who participated in a research program last winter, making limited shrimp runs once a week in February and March and then reporting their findings to the Maine Department of Marine Resources, enabling state biologists to track shrimp size and what stage of development they had achieved. Northern shrimp start their lives as males and transition to female, typically in their third season.

While Gammage said his son did find shrimp in the area he was assigned to, near Pemaquid Point, he told his father that by the middle of February, most of the shrimp he caught already had dropped their eggs.

“The eggs that drop that early don’t survive,” Gammage said.

That’s because the algae that the shrimp feed on can’t grow at that time of year. It’s not a matter of warmth, but rather sunlight reaching into the water. The shrimp that were out there this past winter were not in sync with the season. From Gammage’s perspective, whatever shrimp are out there should be left alone, in hopes the species can rebound.

“Why kill off the shrimp?” he said. “We have to give them the best chance.”

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

Twitter: MaryPols

]]> 0 Press Herald file photo by Gregory Rec... Roger Collard unloads totes of shrimp from the hold of the Theresa Irene III after the boat tied up to the pier at Camp Ellis in Saco on Wednesday, January 3, 2006. Collard and the boat owner Tom Casamassa sell some of their catch right off the pier.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 21:11:27 +0000
Saltfish cakes (aka Stamp and Go) Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:00:10 +0000 This Caribbean dish is a favorite on the Thanksgiving table at the home of Buxton residents Marcia MacDonald and Desmond Williams, who met in St. Kitts. You need to start the recipe the day before you plan to serve it.

Serves 6

1 pound salted cod

1½ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

1 cup milk

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

½ teaspoon allspice

Dash of red pepper flakes

½ habanero chili, seeds removed, finely diced

2-3 scallions, chopped

Salt, pepper to taste

Vegetable oil for pan frying

Soak the codfish in a bowl overnight. Drain, then place the fish in a saucepan and cover again with cold water. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop, and simmer for about 10 minutes; this will remove some of the salt. Drain well, then chop up saltfish and set aside.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and milk together, then stir it into flour mixture. Stir in the garlic, herbs, spices, habanero and scallions. Add the saltfish and combine. The batter will be a bit sticky. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper. Saltcod is very salty, so you probably won’t need much salt.

Heat the oil in a skillet. (Drop in a little batter to test if the oil is hot enough.) Drop the batter by tablespoon into the skillet. Press down with a spatula and cook the fishcakes until golden brown. Flip and cook on other side. Place on paper towels to drain.

Serve warm, as is, or with a favorite dipping sauce. The MacDonald-Williams family favorite follows:


1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons horseradish

Juice of a lemon

2 tablespoons capers

2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

]]> 0 chicken moambe was one of the offerings at the potluck, which included ethnic and traditional Thanskgiving dishes.Tue, 21 Nov 2017 18:59:55 +0000
‘The Perfect Cookie’ brings back memories of perfect Christmases Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 “The Perfect Cookie.” By America’s Test Kitchen. 448 pages. $35.

When I was 8, my father married Pam, giving me the bonus mom of my dreams and an extended family that celebrated Christmas with the kind of festive joy I thought was reserved for Hollywood movies.

As winter falls over Maine and the holidays approach, I often find my mind wandering back to those first Christmases together as a blended family. Pam’s grandmother Elsie (Grammy to her and Gram-Gram to us), an expert seamstress whose hands were never still, would deliver mittens and hats and Christmas sweaters she knitted for me and my brothers.

On a Saturday before Christmas, we’d pile into the car for the long drive to Pam’s family Christmas celebration two states away. There was something especially magical about this trip to Aunt Shirley and Uncle Puzzy’s house, where wreaths hung on the porch and a pool waited out back for parties the following summer. An oversized Christmas tree always stood in the corner of the living room, decorations glimmering and presents spilling in piles from underneath the lowest branches.

Aunt Shirley, the kind of perfect hostess I still aspire to be, would serve what seemed like endless appetizers before dinner was ready. The long table in the dining room was always covered with festive Christmas centerpieces and a buffet of favorite family dishes, like fluffy mashed potatoes and carved roasts.

There on the dessert table, between Nana’s peanut butter fudge and other fancy treats, I’d find the dessert Gram-Gram brought. To other family gatherings she’d often bring a lemon meringue pie or a dessert layered with chocolate pudding, Cool Whip and nuts (which I only just recently learned from Aunt Shirley was likely a dish called Better Than Sex). But at Christmastime there were small round cookies, buttery and flaky and rolled in confectioners’ sugar. They were my favorite, even if the sugar sprinkled down on my Christmas dress like a dusting of snow.

Eventually, as family members died and children grew and moved away, the Christmas parties stopped. After Gram-Gram was gone, I never had those cookies again. I’d occasionally think of them and promised someday to find a recipe for something similar.

When I grabbed “The Perfect Cookie” from America’s Test Kitchen off a shelf and flipped it open, it was to the recipe for Mexican Wedding Cookies. I knew these had to be Gram-Gram’s cookies.

As expected from America’s Test Kitchen, this book offers 250 recipes that are clearly explained and promise to be foolproof. Divided into 10 categories of cookies, brownies and bars, the recipes range from “perfect” chocolate chip cookies to baklava to key lime bars. The book includes sections on Christmas cookies and gluten-free desserts. If you have room in your kitchen for only one cookie cookbook, this would be a good choice.

The Mexican Wedding Cookie recipe was easy to follow and came together quickly. As I rolled the cookies in confectioners’ sugar, my mind drifted back to those early Christmases with Pam and her family. Three generations are gone now – Pam, Nana and Gram-Gram – but I still look for ways to keep their memories with me. These cookies were a welcome connection to Gram-Gram and will become part of my holiday baking tradition.


Makes 48 cookies

2 cups pecans or walnuts

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup (21/3 ounces) superfine sugar

11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

11/2 cups (6 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Process 1 cup pecans in food processor until texture of course cornmeal, about 10 to 15 seconds; transfer pecans to bowl. Process remaining 1 cup pecans in now-empty food processor until coarsely chopped, about 5 seconds; transfer to bowl with ground pecans. Stir flour and salt into pecans.

2. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and superfine sugar at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and slowly add nut mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl and continue to mix on low speed until dough is cohesive, about 7 seconds. Give dough final stir by hand to ensure no dry pockets of flour remain.

3. Working with 1 tablespoon dough at a time, roll into balls and space them 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake until tops are pale golden brown and bottoms are just beginning to brown, about 18 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Let cookies cool completely.

4. Spread confectioners’ sugar in shallow dish. Working with several cookies at a time, roll in sugar to coat. Before serving, re-roll cookies in confectioners’ sugar and gently shake off excess.

]]> 0, 21 Nov 2017 16:54:22 +0000
This Thanksgiving, be grateful that you tried a surprising wine Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 I’m finding it quite difficult to write this article. Many of the Thanksgiving wine articles I have read are unbelievably boring. “Drink this Beaujolais Nouveau!” or “Drink this zinfandel – it’s quintessentially American: a peculiarly American wine paired with a peculiarly American food.” It’s been said a million times and it doesn’t need to be repeated. It might be so boring it’s offensive.

It’s all true, of course. Beaujolais goes quite nicely with roasted turkey. Wines from Beaujolais tend to have softer tannins, and the turkey is a lean fowl. That’s one of the classic rules of wine drinking I do abide by: fatty food, high tannins; not-so-fatty food, low tannins. The bright red-fruit quality of most Beaujolais goes well with turkey, roasted root vegetables and cranberry sauce.

I have drunk zinfandel with my Thanksgiving turkey before. My memory isn’t quite what it used to be, but I don’t remember it being bad. If it was horrible, I would’ve remembered it standing out. It didn’t, which means it must’ve been fine. If you’re going for fine, you could do worse than a zinfandel or a Beaujolais.

Or you could do something not many other people are going to do and drink a few bottles of passito. What? Exactly.

Many people will recommend the classics. Others will recommend that you drink something different, and I’d like to be one of those people. I reckon you don’t need me to recommend bottles of wine you’ve already had. I’ll be happy if I can introduce traditional varietals that are unknown and phenomenal. Two birds, one stone sort of thing.

I’m writing this article from Umbria, a small hamlet in Umbria to be precise, Geppa by name. It’s only a little warmer than it is back in Maine – cool, autumnal, crisp. Naturally I’ve been drinking lots of wines here, most of which would be delicious with Thanksgiving dinner. They’d be delicious with Thanksgiving dinner because the people here make wines that are meant to pair with most foods, and they don’t get too persnickety about it. Here are a few wines I plan to drink with my Thanksgiving meal.

I’ll be drinking passito with my turkey. Passitos are sweet. I know it sounds weird, but I’m going to do it anyway. Passito is a sweeter style wine made from red grapes, and, in the area I’m in, the sagrantino grape. While touring the Paolo Bea Winery in Montefalco, we were able to see sagrantino grapes drying on bamboo slats. Ninety days drying on bamboo slats and then the wine is made. The grapes are dessicated – less water and more sugar.

We don’t get Bea’s wines in Maine (to my knowledge) because he doesn’t make a lot of them, and bigger markets gobble them up. However, we do get the Moretti Omero Passito, distributed by Devenish Wines, which I will be drinking, and I know will be just as fascinating.

Passitos have a dried fruit quality to them, and the good ones have a racing stripe of acidity, like sour cherry juice or sour pomegranates. They have dark, raisin-ated red fruit and tart red fruit simultaneously. It’s trippy. Imagine dried red fruits and tart red fruits and crispy, salty turkey skin with dark and white meat NOT dried out by too much roasting. Sounds harmonious.

Our guide at Cantina Paolo Bea told me they drink passito, and have for generations, with their roasted pigeon. For dinner! I love it that sweet wines have a traditional place within a savory meal. Sweet and salty are great friends at the dinner table. Try it. Haven’t you always loved sweet wines but just been afraid to tell your snobbish, I-only-drink-dry-wines-but-I-don’t-know-why friends? Exit the closet, my friends! You’re in good, traditional company with the Umbrians. You can buy the Moretti Omero Passito at Maine & Loire on Washington Avenue in Portland.

I mentioned two weeks ago that I planned to drink Villeneuve’s “Tabacal” rancio wine. I’m still going to be doing that, by the way. I haven’t tried it, and I’m curious to see how the flavors of the wine will mingle with my pie. Chills. Two “dessert” wines in one meal. Bacchus save me.

So in conclusion, my advice is: Get creative! There’s almost no way to ruin a Thanksgiving meal with wine. Grab a Beaujolais or a juicy American zinfandel; they’re safe and predictable choices, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

Or … you can take a crazy recommendation from a guy who won’t stop experimenting with flavors and textures, tradition and progress, all in the hopes of having an interesting and memorable experience. Wouldn’t that be something to be thankful for?

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, 21 Nov 2017 16:58:36 +0000
This French toast for brunch gives pumpkin spice a good name Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 There are some major misconceptions about brunch, like that it’s just an excuse for people to drink mimosas and bloody marys before noon. And, well, yes – but the drinks are only the third-best thing about brunch.

Obviously if we’re discussing the merits of this late-morning, early-afternoon, weekend-only occasion, we have to address the very best things about it. No. 1: bacon as a side, no matter what you have ordered, since it is the official liaison between sweet and savory foods.

The No. 2 reason that brunch is the best: dessert for breakfast. Monday through Friday, breakfast should be wholesome, nutrient-filled foods to power you through your day. But on the weekends, brunch menus all over the world offer us many shapes of cake to break the fast, and it’s just not a fair test of any person’s willpower.

So if we’re all going to agree that once in a while a cake covered in maple syrup is breakfast, then we ought to be prepared with the very best recipe for our at-home brunching occasions. And for that, The Culinary Institute of America has you covered. But you have to pinky swear to eat something full of whole grains and fruit for breakfast on Monday.

Pumpkin spice is a divisive subject, but whether or not you want it in your coffee (or lip balm), you need a little bit of pumpkin to officially ring in the season. So what better way to pumpkin-ify your life than with a delightfully decadent dessert-turned-breakfast?

For this Pumpkin Bread French Toast, we’ve reverse-engineered a pumpkin bread pudding, which is really just reverse-engineered French toast. First we start with the best pumpkin bread you’ll ever make (and that is still super quick and easy). It’s then sliced, lightly dried and dunked in a maple-egg mixture.

After a quick cook, it is creamy, dense and just sweet enough to make you feel like you’re breaking the rules. You can pair it with maple syrup, if you like, but if you’re going to go for it, you should really go for it. We’re including a recipe for our favorite Bourbon Creme Anglaise.

This French dessert sauce is also known as vanilla sauce, and as students in the CIA’s baking and pastry arts degree program will tell you, it’s closely related to a lot of familiar desserts. Baked, you’ve got a creme brulee. Frozen, it’s vanilla ice cream. Add a little cornstarch and some elbow grease, and you made pastry cream (or vanilla pudding!). It’s easy to make, but you’ll just want to be careful as you add the hot liquid to your egg mixture. If you don’t whisk enough, the eggs will cook, leaving you scrambled eggs. If you have an issue, just strain them out.

We’ve added bourbon to this vanilla sauce, because its rich caramel flavor is perfectly paired with the pumpkin and maple. If that’s not up your alley, CIA Chef Genevieve Meli has some tips. “You can flavor your custard by infusing the hot milk with spices or teas before incorporating the eggs. You can even add melted chocolate (off the heat, so it doesn’t burn) to the finished sauce for a chocolate variation.” Chocolate sauce sounds like the perfect brunch accessory.


Servings: 10


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing

13/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

11/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup unsweetened pumpkin purée

2 large eggs

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup unsweetened pumpkin purée

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Confectioners’ sugar, as needed

1/2 cup dried fruits, like cranberries and golden raisins

Spiced Crème Anglaise for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with butter and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 4 tablespoons butter, sugar and vegetable oil. Mix on medium speed, scraping the bottom of the bowl occasionally, until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add the pumpkin and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated each time and scraping the bowl as needed. Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined, about 30 seconds.

Spread the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 60 to 75 minutes. Place the pan on a cooling rack to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely.

To prepare the French toast, preheat the oven to 300 F. Slice the pumpkin bread into 10 slices and place on a baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake until the bread has dried out slightly, flipping once during cooking, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, pumpkin, maple syrup, salt and cinnamon in a shallow dish.

Once the bread has cooled slightly, melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Working in batches, soak the sliced bread in the egg mixture until it softens slightly, about 20 seconds per side. The bread is very absorbent, so be careful not to oversoak or it will fall apart.

Transfer to the hot pan and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Lower the heat as needed to prevent browning.

Transfer to a serving platter as done, dust with confectioners’ sugar and garnish with dried fruit. Serve right away with crème anglaise.


Makes about 2 cups

1 cup whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup sugar (divided use)

4 large egg yolks

1 to 2 tablespoon bourbon (optional)

Combine the milk, cream, vanilla bean and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a large, heavy, nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Prepare an ice bath if you plan to serve the sauce cooled. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the egg yolks. Whisk until thoroughly combined.

Temper the eggs by gradually adding about one-third of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly.

Add the remaining cream mixture, return to the pan, and gently cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in bourbon, if using.

Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher to serve warm, or into a bowl set over the ice bath to serve chilled. Stir the sauce occasionally as it cools.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

]]> 0, 21 Nov 2017 19:05:52 +0000
Vegetable gratin lets potatoes be part of a rootsy medley Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 The side dishes on our annual Thanksgiving menu almost always include mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables. This year I decided to change up the routine by combining the two, adding a little cream and topping off the hybrid with some crunch. It’s heartier that way and tastier, too.

This recipe calls for a pound of turnips and one-half pound each of carrots and parsnips. What if you’re not a fan of turnips? (Some folks find them a bit funky.) Just leave them out and increase the amount of carrots and parsnips. But try not to mess with the specified amount of potatoes. It’s their starch that thickens the sauce.

The dairy is a combination of cream and milk (the latter lightens the dish) infused with garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Seasoning a gratin is usually hit or miss – you sprinkle some salt willy-nilly on top of the raw vegetables as you layer them into the baking pan. Here we call for an exact measure of salt to be added to and dissolved into the cream/milk mixture. That way the seasoning is perfect.

It’s important to make sure the vegetables are sliced thinly and evenly so that they all become tender at the same time. You can do it by hand, but you will get more uniform results with a mandoline or the slicing disk of your food processor. (If you do choose to work with the mandoline, be sure to put the guard into place.)

One final note – not all baking pans perform the same way in the oven. When I made this dish in a metal pan, the vegetables were tender in 40 minutes. When I used a glazed earthenware pan, they took over 50 minutes. The difference speaks to the relative ability of each material to conduct – or resist – heat. In either case, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the process.


Servings: 10 to 12

13/4 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

4 large sprigs fresh thyme, crushed with a rolling pin

1 bay leaf

4 garlic cloves, smashed

21/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound russet potatoes

1 pound turnips

1/2 pound carrots

1/2 pound parsnips

2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees; adjust the oven rack to the middle position.

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cream, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, salt and pepper; heat the mixture over medium-high heat until bubbles form around the edge. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep while you prepare the vegetables.

Peel all the root vegetables. Using a mandoline or the slicing disk of a food processor, slice them crosswise, 1/8-inch thick.

Remove and discard the thyme, bay leaf and garlic cloves from the cream mixture and pour one-fourth of the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

Add the vegetables and the remaining milk mixture to the baking pan (the liquid will just come up to the level of the vegetables). Stir the vegetables to make sure they are separated and then press them down to distribute them evenly.

Bake the gratin on the middle shelf of the oven for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and press the vegetables down with a large metal spatula. Return the gratin to the oven and bake until the liquid has thickened and vegetables are tender when pricked with a knife, about 15 to 25 minutes more.

In a bowl combine the cheese, panko and oil; sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the pan. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the top is browned, about 10 minutes.

Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

]]> 0, 21 Nov 2017 17:45:03 +0000
The Maine Ingredient: Sure, we love Thanksgiving, but we’re devoted to the leftovers Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 If you’ve hosted the dinner, chances are you’ve got the cook’s dividend: leftovers, which are the payoff for polishing the silver, setting the table and toiling over a hot oven. Here are a couple of stellar suggestions.


This curry, which is a beautiful golden color from the curry powder and sweet potato, gets its richness from coconut milk and its heat from jalapeño peppers and lots of grated ginger. (Use the larger amount of ginger if you want to open your sinuses.) Serve over steamed basmati or jasmine rice, accompanied by a cucumber and red pepper salad and a dish of fruit chutney.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 large or 2 small jalapeño peppers, ribs and seeds removed, finely chopped

3 tablespoons good-quality curry powder

1½ teaspoons cumin seeds

1 can (14½ ounces) unsweetened coconut milk

1 medium sweet potato (about 10 ounces), peeled and cut into ½-inch dice

1 large tomato, seeded and finely chopped

4 cups cooked turkey, cut into 1½-inch chunks

1-2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 scallions, thinly sliced

¾ cup coarsely chopped cilantro

2 limes, cut into wedges

In a very large skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring now and then, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add jalapeños, curry powder and cumin seeds and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add coconut milk, ½ cup water, sweet potato and tomato, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add turkey and ginger and cook about 5 minutes until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Can be made up to a day ahead and refrigerated.)

Reheat gently before serving, thinning with more water if necessary. Scatter with scallions and cilantro. Serve over rice, with lime wedges on the side for squeezing.


If you have leftover stuffing, substitute it for some of the potatoes. If you don’t have leftover mashed potatoes, cook 2 large peeled russet potatoes, cut in chunks, in boiling salted water until tender. Drain, mash and season with salt and pepper. Steamed or sautéed broccolini makes an excellent accompaniment.

Serves 4

5 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups chopped shiitake mushroom caps or other wild mushrooms

1 large garlic clove, minced

3 cups chopped cooked turkey meat

3 cups mashed potatoes

1 cup panko crumbs, divided

¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions

4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cranberry sauce

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and garlic and sauté, stirring often, until mushrooms give off some liquid and are tender, about 5 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl. Add turkey, mashed potatoes, about a third of the panko crumbs, cheese, scallions and sage. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide turkey mixture into 8 equal portions, shape into ½- to ¾-inch thick patties, and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up patties.

Spread remaining panko crumbs out on a plate. Divide the remaining 3 tablespoons oil between 2 large skillets and heat over medium-high heat. Dredge patties in crumbs and cook until brown and crusty on both sides and hot inside, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve patties topped with cranberry sauce.

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

]]> 0, 21 Nov 2017 17:53:40 +0000
Basmati rice makes Greek-Style Rice Pilaf special Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 With the exception of ooey-gooey potato concoctions, side dishes rarely get any respect. Most of us devote our love and attention to the protein in the center of the plate and then throw together some kind of vegetable and/or starch as an afterthought. Here, however, is a pilaf fully capable of stealing the limelight from the usual star of the show.

It’s basmati rice that makes Greek-Style Rice Pilaf special. An aromatic grain used for centuries in India and Pakistan, basmati doesn’t usually show up in a Greek-styled pilaf. But I prefer its naturally nutty taste to the blandness of the usual varieties of long-grain rice. The seasonings are also key: sauteed spinach spiked with red pepper flakes, feta cheese, olives and dill.

To make sure the cooked grains ended up separate and fluffy – and to wash away excess starch – I started by rinsing the rice. This requires covering the rice in several inches of cold water, stirring it in a circular motion several times, dumping off the water and starting again with fresh water. Repeat this process as often as it takes for the water to become almost clear.

Cooking rice also requires some care. It needs to be tightly sealed and cooked at a bare simmer to achieve the right texture. Place a wet paper towel under the lid to ensure that no liquid can escape. Waiting 10 minutes after it’s cooked before fluffing it up allows all the moisture to be absorbed.

If you’re no fan of feta, just swap in ricotta salata, a kind of aged ricotta. You’re also welcome to lose the dill in favor of oregano, basil or mint.

Born as a side dish, Greek Style Rice Pilaf easily converts to main-dish status. Just top it off with a little sauteed shrimp or chicken and call it a meal.


Servings: 6

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 cup basmati rice, rinsed until the water runs clear and drained

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon lemon zest

12/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth

8 ounces baby spinach

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 ounces finely crumbled feta cheese (about 1/2 cup)

1 ounce chopped Mediterranean olives (heaping 1/4 cup)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

In a medium saucepan cook the onion in 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it is golden, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and garlic; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low, adjusting the temperature to make sure that the broth maintains a bare simmer, cover the top of the pot with a wet paper towel and a tight-fitting lid and cook, without stirring, for 17 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.

While the rice is simmering, cook the spinach. In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil over high heat, add half the spinach and cook, stirring until it is wilted, add half the pepper flakes, stir and transfer the spinach to a bowl. Repeat the procedure with the remaining oil, spinach and pepper flakes and set aside.

When the rice is done and has rested for 10 minutes, add the feta, olives and dill and, using a fork, fluff the rice to separate the grains. Serve right away.

]]> 0, 21 Nov 2017 19:08:49 +0000
Feast of many nations: Mainers offer fresh takes on Thanksgiving dinner from around the world Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Claudette Ndayininahaze, an immigrant from Burundi who has lived in Portland for six years, celebrates Thanksgiving with her family, but fish is on the table instead of turkey. The fish reminds her of sangala, a fish that lives in Lake Tanganyika back home, and she serves it with rice, beans, vegetables, and sometimes banana. There’s no pumpkin pie because desserts are not a part of her culture.

Ndayininahaze, who works as a “cultural broker” for The Opportunity Alliance in Portland, doesn’t completely embrace Thanksgiving, but she makes a special meal, and sometimes invites people over, because “it’s a holiday and we need to do something.”

“It’s so hard to relate to, to be a part of,” she said. “I don’t even eat turkey.”

As holidays go, Thanksgiving is as all-American as it gets. Families all across the country sit down to plates overflowing with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, and count their blessings. But what’s it like when you’ve grown up in a culture that is unfamiliar with – maybe even disdains – the taste of turkey and has never heard of pumpkin pie?

Claudette Ndayininahaze chats at a pre-Thanksgiving potluck in Portland on Sunday. Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh

For immigrants, it’s a matter of fitting in and learning about a new culture. For couples who have brought two cultures together through marriage, it’s about blending cultures and cuisines every November.


Last Sunday, a group called Welcoming the Stranger, which matches mentors with asylum seekers to help them integrate into their new communities, held a Thanksgiving-themed potluck at the Maine Irish Heritage Center in Portland for the second year in a row. The Thanksgiving holiday was not formally discussed, but the large gathering – about 150 attended – celebrated its spirit.

As people came in, they used colorful pens to trace their hands on the table coverings, creating cartoonish turkey outlines, just as millions of American schoolchildren do every year.

Congolese chicken moambe was one of the offerings at the potluck, which included ethnic and traditional Thanskgiving dishes. Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh

Mentors brought classic Thanksgiving dishes, while newcomers brought African dishes. Generous helpings of turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce lay on plates next to Congolese chicken moambe and a South African vegetable dish known as chakalaka. African doughnuts were served next to a slice of pumpkin pie.

Gyne Minouka sat at a table with her husband, Alban, and their 6-month-old daughter, Gloria, and gingerly took her first bite ever of pumpkin pie. Her brow furrowed and her eyes looked off into the distance as she lingered over the taste. “It’s sweet,” said Minouka, who is Congolese but came to America by way of South Africa. “It’s good. It’s a bit better than apple pie, for me.”

At Hope House in Parkside, a place that takes in asylum seekers until they find jobs and housing, program coordinator Carolyn Graney has been matching its 13 residents – all happen to be from African countries at the moment – with families willing to share their Thanksgiving meal. Graney discussed the holiday at a house meeting, and found explaining it to be “kind of tricky.” Lots of cultures gather together around food, she noted, but the Thanksgiving story of Pilgrims and Indians has become a hot button in recent years as the Pilgrims have come to be seen by some as invaders and occupiers. So Markowitz skipped the history lesson and stuck with the idea of giving “thanks for community and family and all the good in the world.”

“We focus more on the present and less on lore, which can be kind of loaded, I think,” Graney said.

Talking about food was much easier – up to a point. The residents could relate to sweet potatoes and other vegetables, but when Graney tried to explain what gravy was, things got complicated.

“People looked very confused when I talked about the juice of the turkey,” she said. “Then I explained a sauce made of broth made of flour.”

That was even more confusing – a sauce with flour in it? But overall, Graney said, the newcomers were “definitely excited to have the chance to experience Thanksgiving.”

“It feels good to be invited into the homes of local people here,” Graney said. “It’s just another step of expanding their community here and making them feel more of a part of Portland.”


Even after families have lived here a generation or two, the Thanksgiving table can still represent a coming together of cultures. In other cases, marriage brings different cultures and cuisines together.

Marcia MacDonald’s eclectic family Thanksgiving celebration is a result of her marriage to a Caribbean man. She met her husband, Desmond Williams, in St. Kitts. They married on the island, then moved back to Maine in the mid-1990s. Today they live on a farm in Buxton with their two almost grown children.

Williams, a vegetarian, had no idea what Thanksgiving was all about when he married MacDonald. But because he likes to cook, he has long contributed Caribbean foods to their American holiday tables, in part to expose the children to both sides of their heritage. A typical Thanksgiving meal includes turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing, as well as rice and beans, roasted snapper, coconut dumplings and squash fritters. Saltfish cakes are a Thanksgiving favorite, too; they’re made with salted cod, an ingredient with deep roots in New England and the Caribbean.

Williams forgoes the turkey on Thanksgiving, but happily eats the vegetarian stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

The blended meal feels more important than ever in today’s political climate, MacDonald said. “We’re sort of in a hostile world for anybody who’s not from here,” she said.

Faveur Mabika, 2, bottom right, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, eats turkey at a holiday-themed potluck dinner Sunday at the Irish Heritage Center in Portland. Behind him are Manuela Afamado, 27, and her son Paulo Pombola, 2, immigrants from Angola. Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh


Asian cuisines, like those in Africa, don’t include turkey, so where does that leave the Thanksgiving meal?

Kim Lully and Sonny Chung, owners of Yobo, a Korean restaurant on Forest Avenue in Portland, celebrate in Massachusetts with Chung’s family, eating the traditional turkey and all the fixings alongside a Korean feast. The family starts eating at noon, buffet-style, and is still going at it several hours later, a little turkey here, a little jab chae there. “You just kind of nosh all day long,” Lully said.

Cindy Han, who works at Maine Public Broadcasting, says that even on Thanksgiving turkey is not readily embraced by Asian moms – in part because it can’t be eaten with chopsticks.

“My mom, as many Asians, thinks that American meats are usually too tough and dry and big, and so she was against turkey.”

Ophelia Hu Kinney, president of the board of the Chinese & American Friendship Association of Maine, has had a similar experience. “My mother is not a fan of turkey,” she said. “And since she’s the head chef in the house, there will be no turkey.”

Han, who grew up in Ohio and Maryland, said her childhood Thanksgivings were typically a big Chinese feast of as many as 20 favorite Shanghainese dishes, such as stewed duck, peas with shrimp, and dumplings. They ate around a big table outfitted with a lazy Susan.

“It was delicious, and we had no complaints about the meal,” Han said. “It’s just when you’re in school and everybody’s talking about the turkey they had, and the teachers would ask who had mashed potatoes, you kind of felt left out.”

Han married a Korean-American man who grew up attending churches in Ohio, where the cooking was done by “Midwestern church ladies.”

“He experienced an Americana kind of Thanksgiving, although it was the ladies from church who were making it rather than his parents,” Han said.

Their children “totally love” turkey, and they want and expect a traditional American Thanksgiving. Han’s husband cooks the turkey, and she makes all the sides, among them a nod to their Asian heritage: a sticky rice dish with bits of meat and vegetables that doubles as a stuffing.

For Ophelia Hu Kinney, whose parents immigrated from Southern China, childhood Thanksgivings in Chicago were shared with other Asian families from places like Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China. Their homelands may not have gotten along politically, but thrust together in a new place, the families set aside those differences and focused on what they had in common, Hu Kinney said.

Thanksgiving was a potluck-style Chinese dinner that often started in the early afternoon and lasted until the wee hours of the morning, ending with karaoke and card games.

Diners at the potluck used markers to trace their hands on the table coverings, creating cartoonish turkeys – just as millions of American schoolchildren do each year. Staff photo by Meredith Goad

“What I remember the most is the visceral sensation that my family was not alone,” Hu Kinney said, “and that might be the most universal part of the Thanksgiving feast – the feeling that wherever you come from, you end up kind of cobbling together a family wherever you land.”

Today Hu Kinney and her wife, Hayli Kinney, are like most married couples – they spend Thanksgiving with one set of parents one year, the other set the next. Last year, they went to the San Francisco home of Hu Kinney’s brother. Her mother cooked all of her Hunanese specialties in Chicago and flew them to San Francisco in her suitcase. Hayli Kinney wanted pumpkin pie, so they searched all over San Francisco on Thanksgiving Day until they found one – they call it the “miracle pie.”

“My mother was very perplexed as to why it was so important to find this pie,” Hu Kinney said.

This year, the couple will spend the holiday with Hu Kinney’s in-laws, who have lived in Maine for generations. Just as Hu Kinney’s parents insist on Chinese food for Thanksgiving, her in-laws have “very strong opinions about what they think Thanksgiving should feel like and taste like.”

With one exception: They forgo the traditional green bean casserole and ask Hu Kinney to bring her “special” green beans – lightly steamed and then sauteed in olive oil or chili oil, with a little soy sauce and lots of garlic.

Hu Kinney says when she thinks of the future and how her wife and children will celebrate their own Thanksgivings one day, “in my imagination it’s a pretty blended meal.”

“The meal is ultimately just what I think is going to comfort everyone around the table and give them joy,” she said.

]]> 0 offerings, including traditional American turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce, are plated with African dishes, upper left and right, South African chakalaka and Congolese fumbwa, with mwambe (peanut butter cream sauce) at a pre-Thanksgiving introduction to the holiday for immigrants at the Irish Heritage Center in Portland on Nov. 19.Wed, 22 Nov 2017 11:41:23 +0000
Patron files race discrimination lawsuit against Boone’s Fish House Fri, 17 Nov 2017 15:32:43 +0000 A former Maine woman has sued a Portland waterfront restaurant, saying the wait staff subjected her and her party to snide comments and poor service because she is black and her group was racially diverse.

RyiSHisa Morris is suing Boone’s Fish House over the incident that occurred 2½ years ago. Morris is black and Native American.

The owner of Boone’s, Harding Lee Smith, denies the claims and said the suit is a bid for money.

Morris has sued over discrimination claims before. In 2007, she sued Regis, which operates a hair salon in the Maine Mall in South Portland, after working there for a day. Morris said she was fired for pointing out what she said was a discriminatory practice. She and Regis settled the case, but the terms were not disclosed.

In 2012, she was awarded $100,000, plus $23,000 for legal fees and interest, after she said she was denied service because of her race at the Zales jewelry store-owned Piercing Pagoda in the Maine Mall. The Maine Human Rights Commission determined that Morris had been the victim of illegal discrimination. Zale Delaware Inc. appealed the ruling, but the appeal was denied.

In her suit against Boone’s, Morris said she and a large group of friends made reservations at Boone’s to celebrate her birthday. But she said they received “second-class service,” were referred to as “the black party” and were eventually asked to leave the restaurant. She said the incident led her to relocate to Massachusetts from South Portland.

Morris said her group included people with Dominican, Haitian, Jamaican, Puerto Rican, Laotian and Vietnamese backgrounds, and contends that was the basis for their alleged mistreatment.

“This isn’t your kind of place, you should go somewhere else more your crowd,” a restaurant worker told one of the members of Morris’ group, the lawsuit alleges.

Morris is seeking damages for discrimination and a requirement that the restaurant’s employees take civil rights training.

Smith, who owns Boone’s and three other restaurants in Portland, denied that Morris was discriminated against.

“It’s simply a cash grab,” Smith said, alleging that Morris sent him a letter saying she would not sue if she was paid $85,000.

“They were served, they were fed, they were intoxicated and they were asked to leave,” said Smith, who said he was at the restaurant the night of the alleged incident. “There was no discrimination of any kind.”

Morris filed the suit Tuesday in federal court in Portland. As required by state law, she had earlier filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission, which found by a 4-0 vote in August that there were “no reasonable grounds” to believe that the restaurant discriminated against her.

Morris’ attorney in the federal suit, David Webbert, said his client did not have a lawyer guiding her through the commission process and was not present for the vote against her complaint. Webbert said Morris was not available Friday to comment.

In her suit, Morris said servers at the restaurant did not respond to her or her guests’ requests, made them wait an hour before putting in their dinner orders and another hour before bringing the meals, dropped plates on the table, served the meals to the wrong diners and simply switched the plates when that was pointed out, even after the diners had already begun to eat from the plates. Some guests never received meals at all, the suit alleges, and the staff refused to cut and serve a birthday cake they had brought to the restaurant, even though they provided that same service to a nearby group of white diners celebrating a birthday.

When the group moved to the restaurant’s bar for its 10 p.m. “reverse happy hour,” a manager told them they were being “cut off” and told to leave.

“I was so disappointed at how we were treated,” Morris said in a statement released by her lawyer. “I hope this lawsuit will make restaurants like Boone’s Fish House understand that the law requires them to treat all patrons the same, no matter their race.”

But Smith said Morris’ account of the evening changed as the case worked its way through the Human Rights Commission.

Smith said Morris and her party didn’t bring in a cake, so there was no basis for the complaint about servers refusing to cut a cake and serve it. He said the group was cut off at the bar and asked to leave because some of them were intoxicated.

“As this has gone on and on, it keeps changing,” he said. “We didn’t do anything wrong. We didn’t discriminate against anybody.”

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

]]> 0 Chibroski, Staff Photographer. On Thursday, September 19, 2013, a photo of the main dining room at Boone's for Dine Out Maine.Fri, 17 Nov 2017 18:44:58 +0000
Portland Winter Farmers’ Market hopes to move to Stevens Avenue Thu, 16 Nov 2017 22:02:59 +0000 Plenty of parking at a Portland farmers market? No, it’s not an impossible dream.

If the city council approves the move on Monday, the Portland Winter Farmers’ Market will relocate to the Maine Girls’ Academy at 631 Stevens Ave., which has 125 parking spaces and plenty of street parking as well.

The new location is also located on two bus routes, with a bus stop directly in front of the school.

“There have been a lot of complaints at the past couple of locations about not having public transportation that goes directly there,” said Clara Moore, program manager for the Portland Farmers’ Market Association.

This will be the winter market’s fourth move in seven years. The first winter market was set up by a group of farmers unaffiliated with the Portland Farmers’ Market Association in 2010, in a building on Free Street. The market moved to the Maine Irish Heritage Center after that, under the umbrella of the association, but complaints about parking led to another move to Urban Farm Fermentory in East Bayside in 2013. The market quickly ran out of space there, and moved two years ago to a vacant building on Cove Street in East Bayside. Again space grew tight, parking was at a premium, and the rent became unaffordable for some farmers, according to Moore and Mary Ellen Chadd of Green Spark Farm in Cape Elizabeth, one of the farmers who worked on finding a new space for the market.

“There are a number of farms, my farm included, that last year at the winter market table space was so tight we could only bring half our offerings,” Chadd said.

By comparison, the Maine Girls’ Academy gymnasium is nearly three times the size of the Cove Street location.

To make the move to the school possible, the Portland City Council must amend the farmers market section of the city ordinance to allow farmers markets in the R5 zone. The amendment will make it easier for the market to move again in the future, if need be, according to a city memo, and may make it easier to hold farmers markets on private property in other parts of the city.

The new location abuts the Deering, Back Cove and Rosemont neighborhoods, all walkable residential areas the market can pull customers from every Saturday.

“Having a more accessible market will make it more profitable for farmers,” Moore said.

In addition, the former convent adjacent to the Maine Girls’ Academy is being converted into an 80-unit senior housing complex, which means more availability of fresh, healthy foods for Maine seniors, she said.

Twenty farmers are expected to participate in the winter market, selling mushrooms, eggs, cheese, goat’s milk, beef, pork and vegetables. The first market is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 2, with a grand opening Dec. 23 that will feature sampling, giveaways, food and live music. The winter market will run through April 21.

Amy Jolly, head of school at Maine Girls’ Academy, said having the farmers market on site fulfills part of her goal of making the private school more of a community resource.

“We like having other groups here,” she said. “It just makes it a more interesting place.”


CORRECTION: This story was updated at 12:26 p.m. on Nov. 17, 2017, to correct the attribution of the quote about profitability.

]]> 0, ME - DECEMBER 26: Winter Farmers' Market is open for business at its new location, 84 Cove Street. (Photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)Fri, 17 Nov 2017 12:29:29 +0000
Old Port eatery Sonny’s set to become a burger place with ‘real food’ Wed, 15 Nov 2017 21:13:41 +0000 The owners of Sonny’s, which has served Latin-inspired food in Portland’s Old Port for nine years, will close the restaurant and bar at the end of the year to make way for a new concept: Black Cow, a casual hamburger-and-shake shop featuring a classic soda fountain.

Nicholas Nappi, who will oversee daily operations at Black Cow, at 83 Exchange St., says he wants the restaurant to resurrect customers’ pleasant childhood memories of going to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal, “except have it be real food.”

Almost everything on the menu at Black Cow will be made in-house, from the sodas and hamburger buns to the ballpark-style mustard and caramelized tomato mayonnaise.

Nappi is a longtime chef at Local 188 and partner in the new venture with restaurateurs Jay Villani and Garry Bowcott, who also own Sonny’s, Local 188 and Salvage BBQ. He says he has long dreamed of opening a restaurant like Black Cow “because I love hamburgers and shakes. It’s as simple as that.”

“I’m a little obsessed with cheeseburgers,” he said. “It’s Americana. I was tired of doing food that didn’t feel like food I grew up with. Cooking French and Spanish and ultra-modern American, it’s super fun and challenging, but it didn’t resonate with me the way that going to McDonald’s did when I was a kid.”


Nappi, who grew up in a restaurant family (his grandfather and uncle owned the Magic Muffin on Congress Street, where Nosh is now located) left Local 188 a few years ago to take a break and eventually landed at Eventide Oyster Co. and Hugo’s. He had been discussing the possibility of developing his own project with Villani and Bowcott before he left the Local 188 Restaurant Group. Seeing the long lines of people waiting to get into Eventide and Duckfat across the street convinced him that opening a casual hamburger place might work. When he returned to the Local 188, the idea was back on the table.

After searching in vain for a good space to open Black Cow (which is early 1900s soda shop slang for root beer), it was Villani who suggested that maybe Sonny’s time had come, Nappi said. The consensus was that it was time to make way for something new, Nappi said.

Villani said in a written statement that Sonny’s had “a great run” but he is “fired up for the Black Cow” and looking forward to seeing what Nappi and Bowcott do with it.


Sonny’s will serve its last meal Dec. 31. The restaurant plans to hold special events in the coming weeks so regulars can say their goodbyes. (Events and news about Black Cow will be posted on Instagram @SonnysPortland.) Black Cow is expected to open six weeks later, following a few renovations – including the installation of the soda fountain, which is being built around a deep, two-bay soapstone sink Bowcott found at Portland Architectural Salvage.

Black Cow will be open for lunch and dinner. Nappi said while the restaurant will be a reimagining of the classic soda fountain and hamburger shop, there will be no “kitschy” or “gimmicky” touches – no paper hats, no waiters dressed as Buddy Holly, no photographs of ’57 Chevys on the wall. And there will be no menu with dozens of “specialty burgers,” he said, explaining that he wants “to do one thing very well.” That means classic toppings only, such as dill pickles, onions and cheese. As far as prices go, Nappi said he’s shooting for burgers that cost under $10.

The shakes, crafted from housemade ice cream, will come mostly in classic flavors such as chocolate, vanilla and strawberry (when strawberries are in season), as well as a few specialty flavors for floats with the housemade sodas – say fennel ice cream with blood orange soda. Sonny’s popular cocktail bar will remain.

Nappi said his goal, from trimming and grinding the meat properly to adding just the right amount of sauce to a bun, is “to really convey the joy of eating a cheeseburger.”

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

Twitter: MeredithGoad

]]> 0 ME - MAY 5: Customers dine outside at Sonny's Tuesday, May 5, 2015. (Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer)Wed, 15 Nov 2017 22:39:03 +0000
Maine chefs, cookbook authors offer tips on transforming your Thanksgiving repertoire Wed, 15 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Even cooks who swear they will never, ever make anything other than their grandmother’s cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving sometimes need a little break from tradition.

They may leave the cranberry sauce alone, but yearn to shake up that stuffing or put a different twist on the pumpkin pie their family has eaten for the past 30 years.

The internet is so full of recipes it can be overwhelming to find something suitable, and some of the online recipes are just plain weird.

Maine is populated with standout chefs and talented cookbook authors, so why not turn to them for some fresh ideas? Here we’ve gathered their takes on some Thanksgiving classics that put a little twist on your favorite dishes without ruining them. And we’ve thrown in a different kind of appetizer – step away from the stuffed mushroom caps – for good measure.


Home cooks yearn for a couple of things at Thanksgiving: at least one recipe that does not require complicated techniques or fancy equipment, and a crowd-pleasing dish that can be made the night before.

Nick Alfiero’s Salmon Carpaccio satisfies on both counts.

Alfiero and his family are Portland’s best known fishmongers. He shared his recipe for marinated raw salmon – a great Thanksgiving appetizer – in the “Harbor Fish Market” cookbook, published by Down East Books in 2013.

“It’s one of the dishes I make when I know I’m going to have company, and they love it,” Alfiero said.

The recipe says to refrigerate the salmon for an hour before serving. If you make it the night before, just cover the fish in plastic wrap, refrigerate it, “and it’s fine,” Alfiero said.

And in case you’re wondering… yes, even with some of the best seafood on the East Coast at their fingertips, the Alfieros still eat turkey for the main course on Thanksgiving.

“I’m a traditionalist, I guess,” Alfiero said.


Serves 4

1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot

1 tablespoon chopped dill

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/4 cup olive oil

Black pepper, to taste

1 pound fresh salmon fillet

1 tablespoon capers

Lemon wedge, for garnish

Dill weed sprigs, for garnish

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or 1/4 teaspoon dried nutmeg

Mix the shallot, dill, sea salt, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, and pepper in a bowl and set aside. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Slice the salmon at a 45-degree angle (on the bias), as thinly as possible, and arrange the slices on the parchment paper. Put another piece of parchment paper on top of the salmon. With a food mallet, pound the salmon lightly, enough to thin it out but not crush it. Lift off the top parchment paper and spoon the mixture from the bowl over the salmon and spread evenly.

Refrigerate for one hour and remove. Place the salmon on individual serving plates. Garnish with capers, lemon wedge, and dill. Grate the nutmeg and pepper in equal amounts over the tops


The recipes for chef Mark Gaier’s herb-brined turkey with pear gravy were originally written for Barbara Fairchild, the former editor of Bon Appetit. The recipes, along with Gaier’s creative take on stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, were reprinted in “Maine Classics,” the 2011 cookbook he wrote with his kitchen partner/husband, chef Clark Frasier.

The turkey and gravy became staples on the Thanksgiving menu at Arrows, the elegant Ogunquit restaurant the couple ran for 25 years.

At first, Gaier said, “I think people were, like, ‘Pear gravy? That’s a little weird,’ but it was very popular at Arrows.”

The restaurant, located in an 18th-century farmhouse, had an antique clawfoot bathtub that the chefs used to brine their turkeys. Despite recent skepticism about brining, Gaier is a big proponent of the practice.

“I think it really makes a difference,” he said. “I think it makes the turkey more flavorful, more tender, more moist. There’s a reason why the big companies inject the turkeys with all that crap. What we’re doing is the right way of doing that.”

After spending more than a quarter-century’s worth of Thanksgivings in restaurants, Gaier and Frasier finally took a year off after they shuttered Arrows in 2013 and spent Thanksgiving that year with family in Ohio. (They still cooked a turkey, but just one.) Now they are back to it, serving Thanksgiving dinner at MC Perkins Cove, their Ogunquit restaurant with a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean. Traditional turkey gravy has replaced the pear gravy, but they are still serving their turkey brined the same way “except we don’t have a big bathtub.”


Serves 8


5 gallons water

1 (1-pound) box coarse kosher salt

1/2 cup whole black peppercorns

Chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier at a book launch for “Maine Classics” at MC Perkins Cove in Ogunquit in 2011. Staff photo by Jill Brady

1/2 cup fresh thyme sprigs

1/2 cup fresh marjoram sprigs

1/2 cup fresh sage sprigs

12 bay leaves

1 (13-pound) turkey

4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups low-salt chicken broth

1 cup pear juice

2 tablespoons dark rum

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram


Select a container large enough to hold the turkey. Add the water and the salt and stir until the salt dissolves. Stir in the peppercorns, thyme, marjoram, sage, and bay leaves. Add the turkey to the brine. Place a large plate on top of the turkey to submerge it. Place in a cold place and soak for 8 to 10 hours.

Remove the turkey from the brine. Rinse and pat dry. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Place the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan. Rub the butter over the turkey. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the turkey in the oven and reduce the heat to 325 F. Roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 175 F, about 2-1/2 hours. Transfer the turkey to a platter and tent with foil. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before carving.



Spoon off the fat from the drippings in the roasting pan, reserving 1/4 cup of fat. Measure 2/3 cup of pan juices and set aside. Melt the butter and the reserved fat in a large saucepan over medium heat. Mix in the flour. Stir and cook until light brown, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the chicken broth, pear juice, and the pan juices. Simmer until thickened, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Stir in the rum. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the turkey with marjoram and serve with the gravy.

Kate Krukowski Gooding is best known for her expertise in cooking wild game, from moose and venison to bear and beaver.

Gooding, author of several cookbooks and wild game food columnist for The Maine Sportsman magazine, likes to cook a wild turkey for Thanksgiving, when she is lucky enough to get one from a turkey-hunting friend. (Her backup: a free-range turkey.) A lot of people think wild turkeys will taste gamey, Gooding said, but she describes the flavor as “fresh” and “real.” A wild turkey is smaller and not as moist as a store-bought bird, so if you’ve never cooked one before it’s easy to dry it out, she said. “You cannot cook them any more than 15 minutes a pound,” she said.

A wild turkey still needs good side dishes, and Gooding likes serving these potatoes with her holiday bird.

“I like them for Thanksgiving just because everybody is looking for rich food, and it’s a great complement to the turkey,” she said. (This dish also goes well with lamb, she adds.)

Gooding says the white sweet potatoes mess with her guests’ heads. They’re not much different in flavor than regular sweet potatoes, but the color confuses their brain cells and taste buds.

“I served them one time and they were actually caught off guard,” Gooding said. “They couldn’t figure out what the taste was. They didn’t know what to do.”

She makes another version with herbs and Gruyere cheese that also throws off peoples’ palates.

Either way, the dish goes well with an “earthy” stuffing, Gooding said.


Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus enough butter to grease a casserole dish

2 pounds white sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (about 1/8-inch)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

21/2 cups heavy cream

2 cups grated Parmesan

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13 casserole dish. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, salt and pepper, and half the garlic. Toss to coat. Pour potatoes into buttered baking pan. (Layer the coated potatoes into the baking dish for a more elegant presentation.)

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in frying pan. When it has melted, add remaining half of the garlic and the shallot, and cook until softened. Add cream and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes, then add 1 cup Parmesan and heat through until melted down and warm. Pour over potatoes and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Cover dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh chives.


All families have certain dishes at Thanksgiving that are sacrosanct – the cornbread stuffing with just the right amount of sage, the pumpkin pie that tastes exactly the way Aunt Edna used to make it. The cook messes with these family favorites at her own peril.

For food writer Kathy Gunst, it’s her cranberry sauce, included in her 2011 cookbook of Maine seasonal foods, “Notes from a Maine Kitchen.” She tweaks the recipe a little from year to year, ever-so-slightly, but doesn’t dare make wholesale changes “or people get very upset.”

Adding fresh pineapple was one such tweak. One year she was making the cranberry sauce and spied a pineapple that had been sitting on her kitchen counter for a few days, and thought why not?

“It’s incredibly juicy, it’s natural sweetness, and it pairs well with the cranberries,” Gunst said. “It’s certainly not a native fruit, but it does complement cranberry sauce.”

(If you must use canned, crushed pineapple in this recipe, she advises, cut way back on the sugar and maple syrup. Canned pineapple is, she said, “way too sweet.”)

Gunst always makes at least a double batch because her family eats the cranberry sauce for days after Thanksgiving. They spread it on sandwiches, pound cake and butter cookies. They spoon it over ginger ice cream. It goes really well with chocolate cake, Gunst said, or even on a breakfast of yogurt and granola. “It can live anywhere,” she said.

With two grown daughters out of the house, this will be the first Thanksgiving in Gunst’s entire adult life that she hasn’t cooked a turkey and the entire Thanksgiving feast. She’ll be making something, but she’ll be taking it to share at a “Friendsgiving” gathering. Rather than feeling relieved, or grateful for the break, she’s a little wistful.

“I love making Thanksgiving for many reasons,” she said, “but one of them, being a food writer, I love the idea that almost everybody in the country is doing what I’m doing for once. They’re all cooking, and we’re all cooking something that’s somewhat similar. I take great comfort in that.”


Makes about 6 cups

1 cup sugar

2 cups water

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 pound fresh cranberries

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup julienned orange rind

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped candied (or crystallized) ginger

1 cup chopped fresh pineapple

1 cup pecans, or your favorite nut, chopped

Place the sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook 10 to 15 minutes, or until the sugar syrup begins to thicken slightly and turn a pale amber color. Add the maple syrup and the cranberries and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries begin to pop. Add the orange juice, orange rind, and orange zest and cook another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken slightly. Add the fresh and crystallized ginger, and the pineapple, and cook 2 minutes. The sauce should be full of flavor and slightly thickened. (If the sauce still seems thin – remember, it will thicken as it chills – remove the cranberries and flavorings with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Boil the liquid in a pot over a moderate-high heat until it is thickened slightly, about 10 additional minutes, if needed. Place the cranberries back in the slightly thickened sauce.)

Remove the sauce from the heat and add the nuts, stirring well. Let cool completely. Place in a clean glass jar and cover; refrigerate for up to 10 days, or freeze for up to 6 months.


Erin French of The Lost Kitchen, whose restaurant and story have attracted nationwide attention, included this Thanksgiving pie recipe in her first cookbook, “The Lost Kitchen: Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom, Maine,” which came out in May.

In the book, she says: “I request this for Thanksgiving every year. It’s like having the most delicious cloud of pumpkin pie – light and fluffy yet with all the deep flavors of the heavier classic version. Exactly what you want after eating such an indulgent meal. My mom uses a can of One-Pie pumpkin filling – which is completely acceptable – but using your own winter squash puree feels rustic and grown-up.”


Makes one 9-inch pie; serves 8-10


11/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough

12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup ice water


1 (1/4-ounce) envelope gelatin

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk

3 large eggs, separated

11/2 cups pureed roasted winter squash, such as kabocha or butternut (see instructions below), or 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


1 pint heavy cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a food processor, pulse the flour, butter and salt until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Add the ice water and pulse again until just incorporated.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Work it into a ball with your hands and then roll it out into a 16-inch round about 1/8-inch thick. Lay the dough over a 9-inch pie pan and remove the excess dough from the edge, leaving about 1 inch to crimp decoratively.

Line the crust with foil and fill with pastry weights or dried beans. Bake until the edges are golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the foil and weights, and let cool.


Combine the gelatin, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the evaporated milk, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Whisk constantly over low heat until the gelatin and sugar dissolve and the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the squash, salt, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Chill the mixture, stirring occasionally, until completely cool.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or using a hand mixer, whip the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and then fold in the chilled squash mixture. Pour into the prepared pie shell and chill for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Serve topped with big dollops of perfectly whipped cream.


In a stand mixer or working by hand with a whisk, preferably with a chilled bowl, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla on high speed until soft peaks form.


Preheat the oven to 425 F. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Brush the flesh with 1/4 cup olive oil and season each half with 1 teaspoon salt. Put a tablespoon of butter on top of each, wrap individually in foil, and transfer to the oven. Bake until the squash is fork-tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Scoop out the flesh and puree.

]]> 0 writer Kathy Gunst in the kitchen of her South Berwick home in 2016.Tue, 14 Nov 2017 19:05:59 +0000
The Maine Ingredient: Hearty supper sandwiches a perfect go-to option Wed, 15 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 As preparations for Thanksgiving begin to heat up, it’s nice to have simple, hearty sandwich supper options in your back pocket. Because protein, starch and even some vegetables are already on the rolls, all you really need to add are some pickles and chips to make a meal.


Several companies in Maine produce really excellent fresh Italian sausages. This sandwich makes a great supper accompanied by a big tomato salad.

Serves 4

1½ pounds sweet or hot Italian sausages

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 green or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

½ teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

4 Portuguese or grinder rolls, sliced horizontally, warmed if you like

4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, optional

Cut sausages into 3-inch lengths and prick in several places with a fork. Place in a single layer in a large skillet, add about ½-inch of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover, and cook over medium to medium-low heat until water cooks off and sausages brown on all sides and are cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Heat oil in another large skillet. Add onion and peppers and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown and soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in the oregano, cook for a minute, and stir in the vinegar.

Split sausages in half lengthwise if desired and layer onto rolls with peppers, sprinkle with optional mozzarella, slice in half diagonally and serve.


Haddock sandwiches could well be the most popular year-round lunchtime sandwich in Maine. The fresh fish is usually dredged in a breading mix (lightly, preferably), deep-fried and served on a bun with a lettuce leaf and sliced tomato – tartar sauce, chips and a dill pickle on the side. What could be better? For the home version, I’ve called for pan-frying the fish (less messy, less greasy) and making a quick, delicious homemade tartar sauce.

Serves 4


¾ cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons drained sweet pickle relish

1 tablespoon finely chopped or grated sweet onion, such as Vidalia

2 teaspoons chopped capers

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1¼ pounds haddock not more than ½-inch thick

½ cup flour

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon paprika

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 sandwich buns, split

Greenleaf lettuce leaves

Sliced tomato

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, pickle relish, onion and capers. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to blend flavors. (Sauce will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week.)

Cut fish into pieces a bit larger than the buns. On a plate, combine the flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Dredge haddock in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess.

Divide the oil between two medium-large skillets over medium-high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add fish to the pans and cook, turning once, until golden brown and crisp on both sides and just cooked within, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Spread buns with tartar sauce, layer on the fish, lettuce and sliced tomato, and serve.

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

]]> 0, 14 Nov 2017 18:09:30 +0000
Think kale is ‘so over’? Try it kissed by cream and cheese Wed, 15 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 My father and grandfather, both no longer here, loved nothing better than a serious steak dinner at their favorite steakhouse, Peter Lugar’s, in New York City. If there was something to celebrate, an out-of-town guest to impress or the desire to indulge an extravagant comfort-food craving, there was one clear choice.

Ordering was easy: a starter of thickly sliced tomatoes and onions with the house dressing, which was also the house steak sauce (think of Worcestershire sauce disguised as a thick dressing), and possibly a wedge salad with bacon and blue cheese. To follow, there was a T-bone steak, sliced but with the bone served up for nibbling, with fried potatoes and creamed spinach. And after belts had been loosened, perhaps a piece of key lime pie.

I think that for most of us, to like creamed spinach is to love creamed spinach. You have to go all in if you go at all. And I love creamed spinach.

But because envelopes need the occasional pushing, I recently decided to cream up some kale with a generous amount of cream and Parmesan cheese in memory of my dad and grandpa. I know that in some circles kale is considered the king of the greens, and in others it’s considered “over.” I don’t belong to either camp, but I do love cooking with kale.

It has similar nutritional perks to spinach (not that I am selling this particular recipe as healthy), and holds up to heat with more presence. If you want, you can use baby kale in this recipe, which isn’t as tough as fully grown kale, and has no thick ribs to remove, which makes the prep easier.

This begs to be served up next to a roast chicken, a piece of seared or roasted fish, or, in the most perfect of all worlds, a juicy T-bone steak.


Serves 4 to 6

1 pound kale

11/2 cups heavy cream

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Pinch red pepper flakes

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

If you are using mature kale, trim the tough middle rib from the leaves, and roughly chop the leaves. If you are using baby kale, roughly chop that. Rinse in a colander. Add the kale to the boiling water and boil for 4 to 5 minutes, until the kale is fairly tender. Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water, and then use your hands to squeeze as much water as you can out of the kale.

Place the cream in the pot you used to cook the kale. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and then lower the heat to medium and continue to simmer until reduced by about a half, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and the red pepper flakes. Add the blanched kale and simmer, stirring often, until the cream sauce is further reduced and coats the kale, about 3 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan until the cheese is melted and everything is well blended.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot.

]]> 0, 14 Nov 2017 18:09:13 +0000
Freezing biscuits to bake later turns out to be a great, flaky idea Wed, 15 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 You can’t beat hot-from-the oven, crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside buttermilk biscuits.

I like mine slathered with sweet butter and molasses, or stuffed with salty country ham. I am not picky: I like them for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. This summer, I wanted to serve them with fried chicken at a big picnic and pondered how I could make 100 hot, fresh biscuits with everything else that needed to be done.

I decided to experiment with my simple three-ingredient recipe, freeze the biscuits and bake them from frozen. Not only did they bake beautifully from frozen, they baked better. They were the best biscuits that I had ever made. In fact, some of my friends loaded up on the biscuits and forgot the fried chicken.

These biscuits are so simple that anyone can make them. I use self-rising flour, which means that the leavening (what makes things rise) is already in the flour. I add lard and real buttermilk. Once the biscuits are cut and on the cookie sheet, I brush the tops with melted butter before and after baking.

If you have never made biscuits from scratch before, you need to know that biscuit dough is one of those doughs that “feels right” when you are kneading it or rolling it out. What that means is that when it is soft and tender to the touch, not dry and not sticky or too wet, you will know it. I like the flaky tender crumb of a lard biscuit and the lard very easy to mix in with the flour.

Weather affects the humidity of the flour, which is why I suggest beginning with 2 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of buttermilk and adding more of each if necessary until the dough feels right.

Other than that, there are a few tips to making biscuits whether you are baking them fresh or freezing them for later:

Keep the fat and buttermilk cold.

 Cut lard into a small dice. If using butter, grate with a box grater.

 Use a blending fork or two knives to cut the fat into the flour.

Don’t over-work or over-mix the dough or it will be tough.

 Use a floured biscuit cutter and cut straight down, don’t twist the cutter.

 Preheat the oven so the biscuits begin to rise immediately.

 Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter before and after baking.


Makes 15 servings

21/4 cups self-rising flour, divided

1/4 pound cold (1 stick) lard (or cold butter that you grate with a box grater in a pinch)

1/2 – 3/4 cup real buttermilk

1 stick salted butter, melted

Heat oven to 425 F. Place parchment paper in cookie sheet or half-sheet pan.

Place 2 cups of flour in large bowl. Cut in shortening, using a pastry blender or blending fork (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 1/2 cup of buttermilk; stir with fork until soft dough forms and mixture begins to pull away from sides of bowl.

If the dough is too wet, add the extra 1/4 cup of flour, little by little. If it is too dry, add the extra 1/4 cup of buttermilk, little by little.

On lightly floured surface, knead dough 1 or 2 times, or just until smooth. Do not over-work the dough.

Roll out dough to about 1/3-inch thickness and fold over. Roll out the folded-over dough so that it is even. Cut straight down with a floured 2-inch round cutter – do not twist the cutter. Place biscuits on the sheet pan. Brush the tops with the melted butter.

Place in the center of the oven and bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven. While the biscuits are still on the sheet pan, brush tops again with the melted salted butter. Transfer from sheet pan to a cooling rack.

Serve warm with butter, honey and molasses or your favorite jam or ham.

CHEF’S NOTE: If making in advance to freeze, follow recipe up until you brush the tops with melted butter. Place on a piece of parchment on a tray and place in the freezer without any wrap. Let freeze and when biscuits are completely frozen, slide the parchment paper and biscuits into a heavy-duty freezer bag. If the bag is too small, fold the piece of parchment paper and place in the bag with the frozen biscuits. That way, you will have the parchment to bake them on in the bag. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 F and bake until tops are brown and the biscuits are done, about 15-17 minutes. Brush tops with melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven.

]]> 0, 14 Nov 2017 17:27:24 +0000
Hearty, rib-sticking ingredients define this cold-weather salad Wed, 15 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Summer may officially be the season of green salads, but wintertime versions have advantages that make them worth exploring.

The cooler weather seasonable greens are hearty and darker green, which makes them nutrient-rich. And these thicker-leaved greens, such as kale or spinach, can hold up to the addition of warm ingredients, opening up the possibilities for topping your salad with roasted goodies in a way that delicate butter lettuce never could.

Have some hearty root veggies in the fridge? Toss them (and some whole garlic cloves – yum!) in some olive oil and roast them up, and add warm to raw kale leaves with lemon juice, Parmesan and black pepper and you’ve got a winter salad rivaling anything you’d make in July.

Today’s recipe takes inspiration from this season’s holiday cooking pantry ingredients that I always seem to have on hand. Apples, leftover from apple pie, are the salad’s real star, while the pumpkin vinaigrette – also of pie fame – plays an important supporting role.

I cut the apples into small cubes and quickly roast them in a little salt and rosemary at high heat, and the little cubes turn into sweet, herbaceous nuggets of flavor – like raisins, but better – and make other ingredients almost unnecessary. I add leftover turkey for protein, almonds for crunch and tomatoes for a tiny bit of acid.

You could even add blue cheese or feta if you happened to have some floating around the house, leftover from a cheese party platter. Feel free to swap out ingredients to match your pantry: As long as you are topping winter greens with something warm, whether roasted Brussels sprouts or pan-seared salmon, you’ll be on your way to a tasty winter green salad.


Servings: 4


2 large tart apples (such as Granny Smith), cut into 1-inch cubes (unpeeled), about 3 cups

2 teaspoons fresh minced rosemary

5 cups baby spinach or kale, or other hearty greens

1/2 cup baby tomatoes, halved or quartered

11/2 cups shredded cooked white meat chicken or turkey

1/4 cup marcona almonds

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Olive oil in a mister


1/4 cup pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary

1 teaspoon minced shallot

A few turns of freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place the cubed apple on a parchment-line baking tray and spray with an olive oil mister to coat the cubes.

Sprinkle on the minced rosemary and salt, and gently toss the cubes to coat. Bake just until tender and edges are starting to turn golden, about 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and set aside to cool just a few minutes. While the apples are roasting, make the vinaigrette. Place the pumpkin puree, water, vinegar and maple syrup in a small bowl. Whisk the olive oil into the mixture until well-blended. Add the rosemary, shallot and black pepper and stir.

TO ASSEMBLE THE SALAD: Place the spinach in a bowl or platter and top with the tomatoes, chicken, almonds and warm, roasted apples. Drizzle with pumpkin vinaigrette, toss, and serve.

]]> 0, 14 Nov 2017 18:11:38 +0000
Chorizo takes Brussels sprouts on a fun Spanish holiday Wed, 15 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Brussels sprouts lovers, you are in for a treat: a side dish that will threaten to steal center stage.

Spanish chorizo, a wonderfully spiced smoked pork sausage, gets sauteed just enough to brown a bit and release its oils. Then fresh bread crumbs are sauteed in the same pan and set aside to become a flavorful and delightfully textured topping for sauteed and flash-braised Brussels sprouts, combined with the browned chorizo.

This is delicious served hot, warm or even at room temperature – a boon to busy cooks getting a big holiday meal on the table. Try this bread crumb technique to top roasted broccoli, cauliflower or asparagus as well.

Uncooked Mexican chorizo, while delicious, is not what you want in this recipe. Spanish chorizo is available at well-stocked markets. The casing is edible.


Serves 6

2 ounces Spanish chorizo sausage, diced (about 1/2 cup)

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

2/3 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 teaspoon minced garlic, divided

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

3 tablespoons chicken broth

Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the chorizo and saute for 2 minutes over medium-high heat, until it starts to brown and release some of its oils. Remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon to a plate.

Add 3 tablespoons of the oil to the pan, leaving any oil left from sauteeing the chorizo, and heat over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs, season with salt and pepper, and toast, stirring frequently, until the breadcrumbs are a light golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add half of the garlic and cook and stir for one more minute, until you can small the garlic. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the toasted crumbs to a paper towel-lined plate. Wipe out the skillet and return to the heat.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan, and heat over medium high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring only occasionally, until they begin to become tender and lightly browned in spots, about 6 minutes. Add the remaining half of the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds, until you can smell the garlic. Add the broth, cover the pan, and cook for another 4 minutes until the Brussels sprouts are tender (but not soft!).

Uncover the pan, saute for one more minute until most of the liquid is evaporated, stir in the chorizo, then turn it all into a serving dish.

Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and serve hot or warm.

]]> 0, 14 Nov 2017 18:14:40 +0000
Dine Out Maine: ‘Coffee nerds’ use their noodles to break delicious new grounds Sun, 12 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Vien Dobui’s journey started with coffee, but Vietnamese food was always his destination.

Dobui, the chef and co-owner of Portland’s new noodle restaurant, Cong Tu Bot, got his start working as a brewing trainer at Blue Bottle Coffee, first in California then in New York. At Blue Bottle, he and his wife, co-owner Jessica Sheahan, befriended Cong Tu Bot’s current sous chef, Joseph Zohn, as well as Will and Kathleen Pratt, with whom the couple moved to Maine to start Tandem Coffee Roasters.

“But I always knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to open a Vietnamese restaurant. So pretty much whenever I could, I’d stage (intern) or train in restaurants on weekends,” Dobui said.

Along the way, he wove together his perspectives on food and coffee, finding them more similar than not. The result is a clear linearity of thinking that suffuses Cong Tu Bot, from the succinct list of dishes – four entrees, three appetizers, two desserts – to a no-tipping policy that equalizes the compensation of all the staff.

When asked how he describes Cong Tu Bot, Dobui said, “It depends on who I’m talking to. For most people, I just say it’s casual, with a simple menu. But, if they’re into food, I tell them it’s like Palace Diner (the upscale, unpretentious Biddeford diner where Dobui worked for a year), but for Vietnamese food.”

With their slim menus and sharp focus on high-quality ingredients, the two restaurants do feel like distant relatives. But their kinship goes further. Connections pop up unexpectedly, like pressed flowers that slip from the pages of an old book. One, the surprise appearance of revered former Palace Diner server Mel Shapiro, who worked a few shifts at Cong Tu Bot last month, made me do a double-take when I saw her out of context.

Or the banh pandan ($7) – a lilypad-green pound cake, sliced and browned on the flattop – that echoes the presentation of Palace Diner’s dense banana bread almost gesture-for-gesture. I laughed as I asked Dobui tentatively if he had noticed the similarity. “Absolutely. Are you kidding? One of my prep tasks was to make the banana bread at Palace. It definitely was an influence.” And it’s a brilliant move, tempering the strong nutty flavor of pandan with a buttery, caramelized richness.

Yet even as it makes culinary references to its peers, Cong Tu Bot manages to produce something wholly original. Take the pho ga ($13), a chicken-based soup bowl teeming with flat, fettuccine-like rice noodles and irregular shreds of tender chicken meat. Dobui and Zohn intentionally construct their version of this classic using techniques borrowed from Japanese ramen shops. Just as a ramen-ya might, they prepare each of the soup’s components separately, from pressure-cooked chicken stock simmered with charred onion, ginger and toasted spices, to the seasoning sauce that they winkingly call “pho tare,” a blend of sugar and fish sauce, steeped in a little XO sauce for depth. Right before service, the kitchen even cuts the broth with dashi and adds back a spoonful of chicken fat. It is both delicate and decadent – and phenomenally good.

So too, the goi cai bap ($6), a salad of Napa cabbage and endive, tangled together with mint, cilantro, bird’s-eye chilies and slivers of raw red onion. “It’s a great reset after eating some of the heavier food,” Dobui said. It might not be a date-night dish, but it is undeniably bright and fresh, thanks to a vividly acidic dressing of lime juice, rice vinegar, sugar and fish sauce. It works especially well to offset more savory dishes.

Two, in particular really demand a little counterbalance. The first, rau cai xao ($8), a side dish of slow-roasted delicata squash stir-fried with preserved black beans, peanuts, mustard, green onion and fermented tofu, is too salty, even when eaten in tiny bites with a scoop of steamed rice (com, $2). Similarly, the com chien ($13), fried rice with peas – prepared “Make it like Mom”-style with slices of red hot dog, canned pineapple, scallion and XO seafood sauce – is also sometimes over-salted, though never enough to keep me from identifying it for what it is: proper hangover food.

On one recent visit, I followed up my com chien with a soothing order of the che khuc bach dessert ($6), a “Jell-O” salad featuring three varieties of vegan agar-thickened cubes. That night, I spooned mung bean, sweet potato and coconut blocks from a loose, cold-brewed Jasmine tea “broth” infused with shiso syrup and pandan. Dobui calls it an acquired taste, and he’s got a point – it is not very sweet, and the tangy, floral flavors of the broth seem less like they belong in a dessert than in a beverage.

Bun Cha features cold vermicelli noodles with caramel pork patties, peanuts, herbs and a fish sauce for dipping. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

Whether it appeals to you or not, che khuc bach is emblematic of changes to come in Vietnamese dining in the United States. “Right now, we are where Italian food was in the ’80s. Everyone knows pho and banh mi sandwiches, and we’re finally at a point where people are ready to see more esoteric dishes and regionality. Now is the time to explore that,” Dobui said.

Another example is Cong Tu Bot’s northern Vietnamese take on bun cha ($15), a rice vermicelli bowl served with lettuce, herbs and pork sausage patties that Dobui and Zohn agonized over. Without a char-grill to lend smokiness, they tinkered with alternatives, eventually figuring out that bacon, burnt Vietnamese caramel and mushroom powder gave their patties the savory depth of flavor they wanted – just enough to anchor a lettuce-wrapped bite dipped into a shallow bowl of tart and ultra-garlicky fish-sauce broth. “It took a lot of iterations, but that’s the coffee nerd in us. We’re used to brewing the same cup 30 times,” Dobui said.

More than any other dish I have eaten at Cong Tu Bot, I am happiest to have been introduced to hu tieu xao ($12), a sweet, sticky and insanely spicy dish of chewy flat rice noodles that curl at their edges when they are heated in a volcanically hot wok along with Chinese broccoli, bird’s-eye chilies, jalapenos and cabbage. “We wanted to have something that you wouldn’t eat every day. It’s pretty much a vehicle for sugar and brown sauce,” Dobui said. Yet despite that, the dish is never too sweet. In no small part, that’s due to one key ingredient that brings out a sawtooth edge of bitterness in the brown sauce – one that slices cleanly across all the sugar and spicy heat. No surprise: It’s coffee.

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 Tu Bot chef and co-owner Vien Dobui came to Portland with his wife, co-owner Jessica Sheahan, to help their friends Will and Kathleen Pratt open Tandem Coffee Roasters. "But I always knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to open a Vietnamese restaurant," Dobui said.Sun, 12 Nov 2017 15:31:49 +0000
A memoir of wine, family and the love of literature Sun, 12 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Anne Fadiman has been telling stories, her own and those of others, for several decades. She has written about the ordeal of a Hmong family grappling with American healthcare; about her love of books and reading; about butterflies, ice cream and coffee. In her absorbing new memoir, “The Wine Lover’s Daughter,” the award-winning author and essayist takes on perhaps her most personal and challenging subject to date – namely, her late father and their relationship.

Clifton Fadiman was an esteemed wordsmith in multiple media. Author, anthologist and emcee, he was also editor-in-chief at Simon and Schuster, book critic for the New Yorker and host of the popular radio quiz show “Information Please” from the 1930s. Ever the refined overachiever, Fadiman was renowned for his urbane intellect and wit, and for his commanding voice.

For all his accomplishments, however, the elder Fadiman lived with a crushing sense of fraudulence. He could never quite transcend his origins as a short, homely kid from the tenements of pregentrified Brooklyn. The son of immigrants who spoke fractured English, he was an outsider in the new world. Fadiman was also a Jew, which he likened to a disability.

“He wanted to be as far as possible from his own origins,” the author writes. “After all, he had put a great deal of skill and effort into fabricating himself …. In his seventies, he recalled that as a young man he had looked around him and realized that things were run by people who spoke well and who were not Jewish, not poor, and not ugly. He couldn’t become a gentile, but there was nothing to stop him from acquiring money and perfect English.”

If Clifton Fadiman reinvented himself, he had considerable help from an unlikely source. As a young man visiting Paris, he didn’t just discover wine; he fell head over heels for it. Over the years, he began collecting wine, studying and writing about it; developing a wine cellar and cultivating ties with leading wine authorities. In short, he was enthralled by everything about wine – its complexity and sensory pleasures, its chemistry and civilizing effects. And, as the author notes, there was a bonus: “Wine wasn’t Jewish.”

In the Fadiman household, wine was also a bond between father and daughter. “It was a foregone conclusion that I would love wine someday. I wouldn’t be my father’s daughter if I didn’t,” the author says.

But that proved to be elusive. Although she could appreciate the delicate notes and smooth finish that so captivated her dad, she never really enjoyed wine; she found it too astringent. Unnerved by this “failure” on her part, even as an adult, she underwent a battery of scientific taste tests that examined the papillae on her tongue, oral receptors, flavor preferences – all in hopes of exoneration. The tests proved that her lackings were actually an excess of certain taste buds – not, as she feared, a character flaw.

“So there it was. I didn’t taste what my father tasted,” Fadiman says. “I was in my late forties when I finally admitted to myself that I would never love wine.”

More pointedly, she once asked her brother why he thought they didn’t share their father’s passion for wine. “Because,” he replied, “we didn’t need to escape our origins.”

Clifton Fadiman died in 1999, leaving nearly two decades for the author, a daddy’s girl, to mull over her father’s legacy. Alternating between the lives of the two principals, Fadiman explores her father’s divergent selves – the diminished child, aspiring WASP and famed literary maven – with grace and humor. She reflects on her own role as an “oakling,” long eclipsed by her father’s shadow, and their naturally shifting balance over time.

“The Wine Lover’s Daughter” pays tribute to a man who enlivened language and literature for the better part of a century, until his death at the age of 95. It is also much more – a study of class and family; of anti-Semitism and immigrants as outsiders; and of the pursuit of excellence. Above all, it’s a story of wine as conduit and holy grail, as the centerpiece of a life. Clifton Fadiman loved books and wine beyond all else. His daughter’s memoir decants a narrative that’s spirited, full-bodied and complex.

Joan Silverman writes op-eds, essays and book reviews. Her work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Chicago Tribune and Dallas Morning News.

]]> 0, 21 Nov 2017 15:36:18 +0000
You have the makings for DIY soda in your pantry and garden Sun, 12 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 When I was 14, I had the best job a curious girl could ask for: soda jerk.

McClelland’s Drug store was in my tiny home town’s informational ground zero. Gossip poured from the regulars perched atop swiveling, red-topped stools in front of the speckled Formica counter as effortlessly as the carbonated water poured from its arching chrome dispenser. I, the aspiring journalist, got schooled in separating fact from fiction as I parsed the hearsay and managed the flow of the 16-cent sodas served in contoured Coca-Cola glasses.

“I heard your cousin Matt is saying he swerved to avoid a deer before landing his shiny new Chevy in the ditch last night. Really, a deer? More like he didn’t avoid the ‘one for the road’ before leaving the Men’s Club, I’d say.”

“I’m pretty sure Henry (the high school teacher turned principal turned school superintendent) won’t convince Town Meeting to pass his school budget on Tuesday night.”

“The Gangell girl is going to hit her 1,000 points on Thursday, they say.”

“I read somewhere the bottled soda industry is turning out to be a both a health and environmental hazard.”

OK, that last question was only in my own head, a likely reaction to a couple of things bubbling up around me at the time. My mother limited our family of seven’s at-home intake of soda to equal shares of one (two-liter) bottle of generic cola per week. The debate around the bottle bill in Massachusetts was pretty heated in 1983. Early rumblings about the impact of high-fructose corn syrup on a body and carbon dioxide (the gas that makes soda effervescent) emissions’ toll on the environment were, to make a bad pun, already in the air.

Christine Burns Rudalevige strains freshly made cran-rosemary vanilla syrup to remove the berries and herbs. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

And there was also something we in the jerk profession called “Soda Suicide.” When a brave patron ordered one, I pumped into the glass a squirt of every flavored syrup on offer – cola, grape, orange, cherry, strawberry, vanilla, cream and root beer – to create a dark sludge that left room enough for a only a few ounces of soda water. It was rumored to put a person on a sugar high, which then crashed into a sugar coma. It’s a practice the on-line Urban Dictionary explains is still alive and well at self-serve soft drink dispensers in fast food establishments across the country.

I didn’t then, and don’t now, partake in soda suicide myself. Then, my go-to combo was a judicious mix of two parts cherry to one part vanilla syrups, with lots of ice that in the end melted into the heavy syrup in the bottom of the glass. Now I find a better health and environmental balance in producing my own simple syrups made from more sustainable sweeteners (raw sugar, honey and maple and birch syrups), garden herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil, mint and lemon verbena), seasonal fruits (cranberries, apples, citrus and frozen berries), edible flowers (lavender, elderflower, lilacs), interesting roots and rhizomes (ginger, lemongrass, turmeric) popping up in local farmers markets, and staple spices and extracts (vanilla, black pepper, cinnamon) that I find in my kitchen.

Before you deem the practice too Martha for your busy schedule, hear me out. Simple syrups are just that: one part sweetener to two parts water boiled for a minute so the former dissolves into the latter and then simmered for 8 minutes to reduce the mixture by one-third. To progress to infused simple syrups, just add a combination of flavorings in a quantity that equals about one- quarter of the syrup. For example, if you’ve got two cups of syrup, add about 1/2 cup of finely chopped flavorings. My top combinations at the moment are Cran-Rosemary Vanilla; Maple–Lemon Zest–Thyme; Honey-Ginger-Orange Zest; and Birch Syrup, Apple Peel and Black Pepper.

Ingredients for cran-rosemary simple syrup. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Once you’ve added your flavorings of choice, let the stuff steep for about an hour so the ingredients get to know each other well. When you’ve got a minute, strain the cooled syrup into a clean glass bottle or jar and label it. Simple syrups can be stored in the refrigerator for about two weeks. They don’t generally go bad in a food poisoning sense, but the sugars can crystallize as they settle. You can bring a crystallized syrup back to life by boiling it for a minute and straining it once more before using it.

To make homemade sodas, add as much of the flavored syrups to carbonated water as suits your taste. There are a couple of considerations regarding how a soda drinker gets her carbonated water. The carbon dioxide pushed into the water to make it bubbly is the same gas that ultimately contributes to global warming. But drinking carbonated water doesn’t necessarily add to greenhouse gas emissions because the CO2 is typically captured as a byproduct from another process already being conducted along the food production chain and bottled for this purpose.

Sparkling water drinkers can either buy their bubbly in recyclable bottles or use any number of at-home carbonation systems from companies like Hamilton Beach, KitchenAid, Primo, SodaSparkle and SodaStream. These companies contend their systems cut down on how much plastic is in circulation because the systems ship with reusable bottles and refillable CO2 canisters. Whether or not the price tag, which range from $50 to $250, makes sense economically or environmentally depends on how much soda water you drink.

Regardless of the water, DIY flavored syrups are certainly cheaper and more sustainable than buying packaged syrups and powders these same vendors offer to raise the flavor of your bubbly.

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

A pot of cran-rosemary vanilla syrup after cooking – but before straining. Staff photo by Ben McCanna


Organic vanilla beans must travel a long distance from Madagascar to my kitchen so I suck the life out of them once they get here. If I scrape the seeds from a bean for custard, the spent bean goes into a pint jar of organic sugar to flavor it for recipes like this one.

Makes 2 cups flavored syrup

1 cup vanilla-scented organic sugar

1/3 cup finely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries

2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary

Combine the vanilla sugar in a medium pan with 2 cups water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture is reduced by one-third, 8-10 minutes.

Remove from heat, stir in the cranberries and rosemary, and set the syrup aside to steep for at least an hour. Strain the syrup into a glass jar and store in refrigerator for 2 weeks.

]]> 0 syrups, from left, birch with apple and black pepper, cran-rosemary, lemon thyme, and honey ginger clementine.Fri, 10 Nov 2017 08:32:56 +0000
Three Maine companies are finalists for Good Food Award Fri, 10 Nov 2017 22:05:13 +0000 Three Maine companies are finalists for a 2018 Good Food Award, given annually to independent food producers who meet certain environmental and agricultural standards.

Finalists are chosen by the non-profit Good Food Foundation from a blind tasting of more than 2,000 entries. This year’s entries were whittled down to 279 in 15 categories, from cheese to chocolate.

Maine finalists are Portland-based Allagash Brewing Co. in the beer category for it’s “16 Counties” brew made with 100 percent Maine-grown grains; Royal Rose Syrups in Brunswick in the Elixirs category for its Rose Syrup; and Gold Star Honeybees in Waterville in the honey category for its Gold Star Gold honey.

The winners will be announced Jan. 19 at an awards ceremony and gala in San Francisco.

]]> 0 brewmaster Jason Perkins tastes a beer in Portland. "We like growth," he says, "but we're not a competitive bunch."Fri, 10 Nov 2017 17:44:59 +0000
Lewiston’s Forage Market coming to Portland Fri, 10 Nov 2017 21:53:58 +0000 Forage Market in Lewiston is opening a new location in Portland at 123 Washington Ave., the same building complex that houses an oyster bar and a craft distillery.

The market is actually a bakery and cafe that makes breakfast and lunch sandwiches to order, pastries, soups and salads. The staff bakes a variety of breads, mostly for the cafe’s use, but loaves are sold to the public as well.

Forage is perhaps best known for its hand-rolled bagels prepared the old-fashioned way and baked in a wood-fired oven. A writer for Saveur magazine last year called Forage Market bagels “one of America’s best.”

Owner Allen Smith said the new space on Washington Avenue is about 4,000 square feet. Forage’s neighbors will be The Shop, which is an oyster bar and retail shop run by Island Creek Oysters, and Maine Craft Distilling.

“We’ve been interested (in Portland) for quite a while, and we got serious maybe a year ago,” said owner Allen Smith. “The space that we were looking at fell through. We just waited until we found a place that we felt would work really well for us.”

Smith said he hopes to open in Portland in the spring, after a new wood-fired oven is installed.

]]> 0, 10 Nov 2017 22:02:55 +0000
Yarmouth bakery opening second location in Portland Fri, 10 Nov 2017 21:48:44 +0000 An interactive bakery in Yarmouth that allows customers to decorate their own cakes and cupcakes will open a second location this winter on Stevens Avenue in Portland.

Alan Fried, who owns Ice It! Bakery in Yarmouth with his wife, Sharon Kuhrt, said the new location at 502 Stevens Ave. will feature everything sold at the Yarmouth bakery – pastries, cupcakes, custom cakes – but it will also be a coffee shop with full espresso bar service. Fried and Kuhrt plan to emphasize more prominently their savory hand pies at the Portland bakery, and they’ll add some breakfast sandwiches and light lunch items to the menu.

“We’ve been doing great here in Yarmouth, and we’ve really been looking for a way to expand,” Fried said. “The Deering neighborhood is one we’ve had our eye on for a couple of years.”

The Yarmouth bakery is located at 305 Route 1. The Portland location will be in a new mixed-use building still under construction. Fried said there will be three businesses on the ground level and residential apartments upstairs.

The Yarmouth bakery hosts scheduled decorating parties for both adults and children. Individuals are also welcome to drop in on their own, even without a reservation, to decorate a cake or cupcakes, Fried said.

“I think it gives them a chance to be artistic in a way that’s easy,” he said. “They can come and do this without having any skill. A lot of people would never decorate a cake at home because they don’t have the equipment, they don’t have the confidence.”

Fried said he hopes to have the Portland bakery open by mid-January.

]]> 0, 10 Nov 2017 22:02:07 +0000
Nutella changes recipe, sending its fans to the edge Thu, 09 Nov 2017 16:46:22 +0000 Not many foods inspire a fandom quite like Nutella.

McDonald’s restaurants in Italy serve it on hamburger buns. Lifestyle websites cheekily offer lists of “signs you’re addicted to Nutella.” And at least one German soccer team dropped a player who couldn’t stop eating it.

Yes, a legion of snackers live for the hazelnut spread. And they’re not happy.

Nutella confirmed on its Twitter feed Wednesday that the recipe “underwent a fine-tuning” after Germany’s Hamburg Consumer Protection Center said on Facebook that it appeared the recipe had changed.

That set off both panic and anger on social media in a symphony of languages – English, German and Italian chief among them.

“Real cool,” wrote one user, adding, “why not draw a mustache on the Mona Lisa too?”

“OMG!! They are changing the recipe of #Nutella !!! NOOOOOOOO HOW DARE THEY!! Leave the sugar & coco alone!!!” wrote one slightly more impassioned user. The tweet also included five angry-face emoji, two screaming emoji, two disappointed-face emoji and three crying emoji.

It even spawned the hashtag #NutellaGate.

Ferrero, the Italian company that makes Nutella, Tic Tacs and Ferrero Rocher chocolates, insisted that “the quality . . . and all other aspects of Nutella remain the same,” in a statement obtained by the BBC.

The changes are to its milk and sugar content. The new recipe has 8.7 percent powdered skim milk, instead of 7.5 percent. It also contains 56.3 percent sugar, instead of the previous 55.9 percent, the Hamburg Consumer Protection Center said, according to Deutsche Welle.

“As the color of the new Nutella is lighter, we are working on the assumption that skimmed milk powder was added at the expense of cacao,” the center said, although Ferrero did not confirm this.

The outcry is slightly ironic when considering the candy’s history. Nutella was created by an altered recipe for a chocolate spread.

It was invented by Italian chef Pietro Ferrero after World War II out of necessity, according to the BBC. Cocoa was hard to come by in postwar Italy. In an attempt to make a chocolate paste without much chocolate, he decided to stretch a little bit of cocoa a long way with hazelnuts. He shaped this into a loaf he called “Giandujot,” after a carnival character.

Thus, the hazelnut-chocolate spread was born. Years later, Ferrero’s son Michele would tweak the recipe and rename it “Nutella,” and it became a worldwide sensation.

Over the years, it attracted an army of imitators, from large brands such as Jif, Hershey and Kroger – but fans always came back to the original.

In the past five years, Nutella sales are up 39 percent in the United States, despite nutritional concerns. For years, Ferrero has been petitioning the Food and Drug Administration to change the serving size on its labels by cutting it in half. A smaller serving size would show fewer calories, and it “might make people more likely to grab a jar from supermarket shelves,” as CNN put it.

The reaction to the recipe change brings to mind the outcry when U.S.-based Mondelez International spaced out the triangular chocolate pieces on its beloved Toblerone bars.

Fans called the move “underhanded” and “dreadful.” Meanwhile, enough people blamed Brexit for the change that a Mondelez spokesman had to tell the BBC, “This change wasn’t done as a result of Brexit.”

]]> 0, 09 Nov 2017 21:23:21 +0000
Boston restaurant serves 5-foot-long roll packed with Maine lobster Wed, 08 Nov 2017 22:53:04 +0000

A new Boston restaurant, Lobstah on a Roll, is thinking big.

The South End shop offers a 5-foot-long roll packed with the meat of 80 Maine lobsters.

Chef Kenny Dupree’s creation is called the Monstah. The price? About $850 to $900, depending on the market rate.


]]> 0, MA- NOVEMBER 07, 2017- : Chef Kenny Dupree poses with a 5 foot "Monstah" roll at Lobstah on a Roll in Boston, MA on November 07, 2017. With 12 lbs of lobster the roll can feed up to 50 people. (CRAIG F. WALKER/GLOBE STAFF) section: Lifestyle reporter:Wed, 08 Nov 2017 20:20:15 +0000
Maine hotels include vegans in the Thanksgiving feast Wed, 08 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Restaurants in two upscale hotels in Greater Portland will offer vegan entrees on their Thanksgiving menus for the first time this year. Thanksgiving diners at Sea Glass at the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth and Union in the Press Hotel in Portland will see vegan choices alongside the traditional options.

Many hotels in Maine serve special Thanksgiving meals, but in the past vegan offerings have been limited to side dishes. While a few hotels offer vegetarian entrees on Thanksgiving, the addition of vegan ones to at least two hotel menus is a milestone in Maine’s ongoing embrace of plant-based cuisine.

The offerings are in line with a shift in the wider hospitality industry to offer more vegan choices in response to market demand. In October, the British Good Hotel Guide published its top 10 list of customer complaints. Poor wi-fi was No. 1, followed by dim bedroom lighting. The only food complaint to make the top 10 was number seven: no vegan menu.

There’s certainly plenty of room for growth on that front. Last fall, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals posted a list of hotels offering vegan menus. The list included three upscale chains and one all-vegan inn in California, while the German-based site lists only 40 vegan-friendly hotels across the entire globe.

Here in Maine, I’ve reported in this space on bed and breakfasts adding vegan options and outdoor adventure companies serving up vegan meals.

Both Sea Glass and Union offer vegan entrees on their regular menus. The two restaurants also book reservations weeks in advance of Thanksgiving, so if you’re interested, you need to act fast.

“We see the trend,” said Josh Berry, executive chef at Union, who has been eating vegetarian since New Year’s Day. “Even omnivores are eating more vegetarian meals. I definitely see vegetarianism and veganism becoming more of an accepted norm.”

For Thanksgiving, Union will offer smoked squash stuffed with tempeh and wild rice and finished with a ginger gastrique. Last year, Union fulfilled vegan Thanksgiving requests with an off-menu dish of acorn squash and smoked tofu. This year, the vegan choices will be printed alongside the roast turkey. The restaurant is offering salads and vegetable sides, too, of course, and desserts will include a vegan lemon sorbet with warm fig chutney and a sprinkle of dukkah (an Egyptian seed, nut and spice blend).

At Sea Glass in Cape Elizabeth, executive chef Andrew Chadwick said his kitchen fields orders for vegan meals every day, and as a result he and his team decided to extend their plant-based offerings to the Thanksgiving menu.

“People eat vegan for health or to try new things,” Chadwick said. “We always have vegan on the menu.”

Two of the three Thanksgiving soup choices at Sea Glass are plant-based: butternut squash and lentil with vegan apple-maple sausage. For the salad course, vegans can feast on roasted beet with quinoa and citrus.

“Instead of traditional turkey and stuffing,” said Chadwick when asked about the vegan entree choice, “we’re going to do Hasselback butternut squash, sliced thin and then roasted whole with bay leaf, maple and cracked pepper.”

The squash will come with a side of wild rice and oat stuffing, roasted root vegetables, and osso bucco in which carrot chunks – on a bed of braised chickpeas – will stand in for the traditional veal shanks. A baked apple with soy ice cream will cap the vegan Thanksgiving.

According to Chadwick and Berry, it’s only a matter of time before more hotels offer vegan entrees for Thanksgiving.

“With the amount of guests we see coming in with dietary restrictions or healthy eating, there is such a big call for vegan,” Chadwick said. “We have fun with it and make a fully constructed meal with a sauce. We treat it as a fully composed dish. I think you will see a lot more people trying to execute that.”

For now, I’m grateful Sea Glass and Union are leading Thanksgiving service into the plant-based era.

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

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

]]> 0 vegan Thanksgiving dinner at Sea Glass at the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth will include, clockwise from top, carrot osso bucco with braised chickpeas, Hasselback butternut squash with wild rice and oat dressing, and roasted root vegetables with maple, soy and sesame.Tue, 07 Nov 2017 16:48:46 +0000
Strange, but true: Baked wines possess tantalizing flavors Wed, 08 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 I have a bias toward things that diverge from the norm. I’m not biased against the norm; in fact I believe that the norm, in most domains, is an accurate reflection of what has worked well and what people have decided is good.

For example, many generations have decided that French sauvignon blanc reaches its apogee in Sancerre. I’ve tasted quite a few of them, and I agree. But I’m always interested to try sauvignon blanc that comes from elsewhere in France. Tasting the deviants makes me appreciate the norm more – and vice versa.

It’s the yin-yang of experience. One foot in the norm and one foot in that which is not the norm is, in my opinion, the sweet spot of human existence, and wine drinking is no exception.

Maybe everybody shares my bias to a greater or lesser degree. Or maybe not, as I’ve noticed that when it comes to wine drinking, people tend to stick with the known. I’d like to counter that tendency by offering a suggestion for something delicious and novel to try, a category of wines called rancios.

Rancio wines, although new to the Maine market, are very traditional in places like Catalonia and the southwest of France. They are strange wines, to say the least.

A base wine, usually a local white varietal but not always, when finished fermenting, is placed into large glass jars to bake in the summer heat for about a year. Yes, to bake in the summer heat. Intentionally. This baking causes the wine to oxidize, giving the finished wine flavors not typical in unoxidized wines. After it fully oxidizes, it is then transferred to wooden casks where the flavors are further concentrated and enhanced by the wood.

Roughly speaking, you can think of the process of controlled oxidation as the intentional and fast-paced aging of a wine. A winemaker does this when she wants some of the older aromatics and flavors of a wine but doesn’t want to wait 20 years.

Wines like rancios are in the same family tree as sherries and Madeiras. As a result of the oxidation process these wines drop, almost entirely, their primary fruit characteristics. (Primary fruit characteristics are fresh fruit flavors, such as apples, pears, lemons or limes.) New flavors, such as dried fruit peel, salt, roasted nuts, caramel and tobacco, develop in their stead. Easterly Wines distributes all three of the rancios that I know of in Maine. You can find these wines at RSVP on Forest Avenue.

Mas Peyre’s “Le Demon du Midi” is the lightest of the three. It is almost indistinguishable from a fino sherry. Made from the macabeo grape, it’s a light golden straw color and tastes like drinking salted almonds. Enjoy it as an aperitif with nuts, cheese and anchovies or oysters.

Terre des Templiers’ “Hors d’Age” is slightly heartier. Made from brenache noir, of Chateauneuf-du-Pape fame, it is darker in both color and flavor. The aromas are toastier, hinting at tobacco and nuts.

Arnaud de Villeneuve’s “Tabacal” blew my mind, and I like it the best. I first tasted it with a traditional raclette – a classic Swiss cheese dish that’s a cousin to fondue – while sitting in front of a fire during a snowstorm last year. It was insanely good. It is made from the holy trinity of grenache: blanc, gris and noir. It is aged nine years in old rancio casks and then blended with a bit of old, sweet rancio. The addition of sweetness is what really got me. The wine tastes like a seamless flow of dried orange peel into slightly sweet and salty almonds into a leathery sort of tobacco. My best verbal conjurings don’t do it justice.

The other night I drank it with a Moroccan lamb stew my wife made. Words fail. I plan to have some with my pumpkin pie in a few weeks, and I have high expectations. I’m not sure if I can say it’ll be the best thing you can do for yourself this year, but it might sneak its way into the top 10.

If rancio wines are new to you, I highly recommend adventuring into this seemingly divergent category of wine drinking, where you’ll get to enjoy something ancient and novel at the same time.

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 wines from Domaine de Chevalerie in France’s Loire Valley will reward those who store it for a few years.Tue, 07 Nov 2017 17:01:26 +0000
Cookbook writer Lily Wallace a familiar name in early 1900s, but her summertime ties to Maine are little known Wed, 08 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 EDGECOMB — When cookbook author and culinary educator Lily Wallace bought the Edgecomb property where she would build her summer home in 1922, she surely sought what other seasonal residents on rural Cross Point Road were after: fresh air, a swing on the front porch with a view of the Sheepscot River, a respite from her busy life in Brooklyn. And privacy.

A portrait of Lily Wallace from the 1931 “Woman’s World Cook Book.” Photo courtesy of the Schlesinger Library

Wallace’s name was known to many homemakers across the United States in the first half of the 20th century, for her cookbooks, her business savvy and her work as an editor at Woman’s World magazine. But within the stories that make up Maine’s food history or the tales of celebrated summer people, Wallace’s name does not appear.

Perhaps that’s just what she intended.

Wallace is so little known here today that Don Lindgren, an expert in antique cookbooks as well as those by Maine writers, thought she might not even be real. It wasn’t unusual, after all, for American food companies in her day to dream up a persona – Betty Crocker, for example – to help sell their products.

I quoted him saying so in an essay I wrote for the Press Herald last month about cooking lemon sponge pudding from my grandmother’s 1946 copy of Wallace’s “New American Cook Book.”

An email arrived in my inbox the day that essay was published from Cara Gaffney. The subject line made me gasp: “Our home is Lily H. Wallace summer home” – with a smiley face emoji.

Wallace was real. Not only that, but she had spent summers cooking in an Edgecomb cottage that lacked electricity or running water, where a wood-fired oven sat in front of a fieldstone fireplace in a kitchen hung with cooking tools.

Gaffney and her husband, Michael, moved from Portland and bought the home in 2005, attracted by the cozy cottage feel and its view of the river. The house had been updated and winterized, mostly, and they began adding their own touches, with antique light fixtures and doors, a fleur-de-lis trim on the front porch, and hashmarks tracking the growth of their two sons on a bedroom doorjamb. From the small shed of a boathouse, they launched their candle-making business, Seawicks, which now supplies L.L. Bean, Seabags and about 300 others sellers.

Lily H. Wallace’s “New American Cook Book” on Cara Gaffney’s dining room table. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

Gaffney immediately began researching the history of the home. The deed on file in Lincoln County listed Lily H. Wallace as the owner, and Gaffney learned from neighbors that she was British and had been a famous cookbook author.

She began collecting Wallace’s books and found a few more records through a citizenship certificate for “Lillie Haxworth” from 1902, Census records from 1910 and 1925, a ship’s manifest showing she traveled home to the United States from Liverpool in 1912.

The more Gaffney searched, the more puzzled she became about why there was so little information on Wallace’s personal life and absolutely nothing in the historical record about her time spent in Maine.

“Every once in awhile, I’ll Google and see what I can find,” Gaffney said. But the searches never turn up much. “She was lost to time. That’s all I can think of.”

When I called Don Lindgren, who deals in rare cookbooks at Rabelais in Biddeford, to tell him what I’d learned about Wallace’s tie to Maine, he was intrigued.

“It’s a marvelous example of simple inquiry turning up, first, an historical question of, is this person – why don’t we know more about this person, and does this indicate something one way or another?” he said. “Why is there such a paucity of information?”

Lindgren began his own research, while I called around.

The Maine Historical Society had no records related to Wallace. Nor did the Maine Women Writers Collection at the University of New England. Maine food historian Sandy Oliver was not familiar with Wallace. Marylène Altieri, curator of books at Harvard’s Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, knew of Wallace’s books but couldn’t at first find much about her life. She enlisted the help of another researcher who found three newspaper clippings, including Wallace’s 1952 obituary in the New York Times.

The obituary listed her many successful cookbooks, her studies at the National Training College of Cookery in London, her teaching at the Ballard School for practical nursing in New York, the 17 printings her cookbook “Just for Two” enjoyed, and the 16 years she was homemaking editor of Woman’s World magazine. She was active with various homemaking and Episcopal organizations. And she was the widow of George Wallace. No mention of Maine.

Gaffney has a theory, though it’s only that. When she saw that only Wallace’s name was listed on the property’s deed – and not her husband’s – she began wondering whether Wallace might have been gay. The summer house could have been a retreat for her, and maybe a companion.

It wouldn’t have been so unusual, said Connie Chase Wells, whose family first settled in the late 1700s on Cross Point Road, where homes at either end were built by her great-grandfather and her great-great-grandfather, both sea captains. In a small town like Edgecomb, she said, neighbors both cared for each other and minded their own business. She recalled that two women summered together in a home just down the road from Wallace’s cottage.

Cara Gaffney in the dining area of her Edgecomb home, originally owned by cookbook author Lily Wallace. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

“At the time, if anyone thought anything of it,” she said, “they didn’t say so.”

Chase Wells remembers meeting Wallace just once when she was a young girl. She and her mother brought fir tips to Wallace for making scented pillows and then stayed for tea. She figures she wasn’t much interested in Wallace then. But she thinks her mother may have wanted her to see Wallace as an example.

“There are so many of those women, really, that leave a mark on this world and made a mark on other women in their soft way that wasn’t brash,” she said. “That may have been another reason why my mother wanted me to meet her. There weren’t a lot of models for women.”

And Wallace would have been quite a model.

After we spoke, Lindgren compiled a timeline of Wallace’s publications, starting with a booklet dated 1900, and continuing through at least 1963, 11 years after her death. He said he saw her as part of a lineage of educators, lecturers and cookbook writers, women who took the roles that society had ascribed to their gender and used them to carve paths for themselves – and for other women – as successful and independent businesspeople.

For decades, Wallace wrote and updated “The Rumford Complete Cook Book,” published by the New England company that made Rumford baking powder. She co-authored early versions of that book with celebrated Bostonian Fannie Farmer, and she shared credit on other books with Mildred Maddocks, founder of the Good Housekeeping Institute; and Janet McKenzie, editor of American Cookery magazine.

A wooden board with Wallace’s name written on it hangs above the office in Gaffney’s home. Gaffney surmises that the board is from a shipping crate and was later used to frame the windows of the boathouse on the property. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

“There was a whole sort of category of these very hardworking women who were involved in education and the commercial food world, and they were actually linked by these very books,” Lindgren said. “And Lily sort of sits in the middle of it.”

Farmer attained the most fame in that category as the leading voice for a scientific approach to cooking. The way Gaffney sees it, maybe there was room for just one such cookbook author in our collective memory.

Lindgren has spent a decade building a collection of more than 300 books about Maine food, called Maine Food in Print, largely made up of modern single-author and tourist-driven books and older community cookbooks compiled for church fundraisers and by groups of townswomen. He plans to add Wallace’s works.

“Lily’s books are different, because they represent cookbooks that come from the educational and larger commercial world of publishing,” Lindgren said. “It adds something new. And it’s a really nice example of it.”

In 1945, Wallace sold her home to Dorothy Evelyn Crozier (who was also married, to Edwin, though his name was not included on the deed), retaining the right to lifetime use. In her will, on file in Lincoln County, Wallace gave $5,000, a chest of sterling table silver, “my seed-pearl ring with grandfather’s hair,” and future royalties on her books to a nephew living in Exeter, England. The contents of her home in Edgecomb and the remainder of her possessions in Brooklyn, “including china and tableware,” went to Crozier, whose relation to Wallace is listed only as executrix of her will.

Wallace died in 1952 at age 81. Two years later, Crozier sold the Edgecomb cottage to the family of a boy Wallace had once hired to haul water from the well outside and wood to the kitchen.

Gaffney likes to cook in Wallace’s kitchen, comfort food mostly, though she hasn’t ever cooked from Wallace’s books. She may start.

“I have made Fannie Farmer’s chicken pot pie,” she said, laughing. “My cousin gave it to me, and it was really good. I have to make Lily’s next. She’s going to haunt me.”

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

Twitter: @cconaboy

A letter from Hilda Porter to Gaffney. Porter lived in the home before Gaffney, and Porter’s husband worked for Wallace. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup


Lily Wallace’s recipe for chicken pot pie (today, we’d probably call this Chicken with Dumplings) starts with directions on how to dress the chicken, including chopping off the head. We’ve omitted that step here, assuming your chicken has already been dressed. We’ve also edited the recipe, applying some guesswork, as the directions weren’t entirely clear for the 21st century cook. Wallace published the recipe in her “New American Cook Book,” 1946 edition.

Serves 6


4-pound roasting chicken, cut-up

6 medium-sized potatoes

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper


2 cups flour, plus 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

3 tablespoons shortening

3/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter or fat

Put the chicken in a large saucepan, cover with hot water, and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken, and when it’s sufficiently cool, take the meat from the bones and cut into bite-size pieces. Return the chicken to the pot, discarding the skin and bones. Add the potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper, and continue to simmer.

While the mixture simmers, make the dumplings: sift 2 cups flour, the salt and baking powder together. Rub in the shortening with a knife or use your finger tips, until they are roughly pea-sized. Add the milk to make a soft dough. Do not overmix. Drop the dumpling dough on top of the simmering chicken in the last 15 to 20 minutes of cooking, 1 tablespoon at a time. Cover tightly and cook until dumplings are light. The cover must not be removed during cooking.

Remove the chicken, potatoes, and dumplings to warm bowls for serving. Melt butter and mix with the remaining 2 tablespoons flour to form a smooth paste (or roux). Add to the cooking liquid in the pot and bring to a boil. Serve as a thin gravy.

]]> 0, 08 Nov 2017 10:10:20 +0000
Maine’s ‘Best Baker’ makes a fine flan Wed, 08 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 When the Hemophilia Alliance of Maine announced the winners of its first ever fundraising baking competition, Megan Brown’s name wasn’t on the list. That honor went to Cornerstone Food, which produced a flan.

But the Farmington single mother who sought to claim the title, with an entry of Thai ice tea cupcakes, said she learned a lot.

“It was great networking and I met some really cool people,” Brown said.

Brown was featured in a story in the Press Herald’s Food section in advance of the event and as a result, her great-aunt showed up at the competition. “And my boyfriend’s entire family showed up!”

That a flan won a baking competition that encouraged bakers to bring cookies, cupcakes or doughnuts might seem odd, but, after all, it is baked.

“We let it go as a cake,” said Jill Sallade-Packard, a founder of the Hemophilia Alliance of Maine.

Ten bakers competed at the event, which was held Saturday in Portland. Others had to cancel because of the power outages that affected much of Maine last week, she said. Sallade-Packard has two sons with hemophilia, aged 13 and 10, who number among the 400 people in Maine identified with hemophilia and many others who suffer from bleeding disorders, she said. Sallade-Packard started the group in 2010. This is the first year the alliance has held a baking contest. Other winners were Black Tie Bakes with a people’s choice award, Little Marie’s Hand Made Pies for Best Cookie, Sugar Supply for Best Cake, and Congdon’s doughnuts for Best Donut. The contest was open to individuals and businesses.

Brown said she was encouraged by the experience to enter other, more established competitions in the future. She said she broke even on the cost of her ingredients by selling baked goods at the event. She also connected with a baker just starting out with a gluten-free baking business; the two of them might team up some day. In the meantime, Brown said, she was happy to have participated. “They must have made a pretty good chunk of change, and it all goes to a good cause,” Brown said.

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

Twitter: MaryPols

]]> 0 Mexican Flan skips the traditional eggs and dairy in favor of soy milk, tofu and agar powder.Tue, 07 Nov 2017 17:13:26 +0000
‘Grains, Seeds and Legumes’ offers recipes for the way we eat today Wed, 08 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 “Grains, Seeds & Legumes: 150 Recipes for Every Appetite.” By Molly Brown, photography by Dierdre Rooney. Hardie Grant Books. $24.99.

The subtitle of “Grains, Seeds & Legumes,” a new cookbook that crossed my desk recently, promises “150 Recipes for Every Appetite.” I can only speak for my own appetite, but as far as that goes, author Molly Brown is dead on; she could just as well have subtitled her book: “150 Recipes for Peggy Grodinsky.” (I dunno, Hardie Grant Books, maybe that wouldn’t sell?)

I like so many things about this cookbook – and more on those in a moment – but what I like most of all are the recipes, which manage to be contemporary, classic and on trend all at once. The recipes are healthful, but not militant. They ask you to take cooking seriously – to devote some time and attention to it – but they don’t demand that cooking take over your life. Every page offers the sort of food I want to cook and eat.

Furthermore, the recipes are clearly written and are supported by an uncluttered, well-organized design that makes it both an easy and an aesthetically pleasurable cookbook to use; the beautiful photographs don’t hurt. A handsome photographic glossary of grains, seeds and legumes conveys useful information, and several step-by-step hand-drawn renderings tell you such things as how to make a no-knead quinoa loaf or DIY seed milk. If the funny little doodles throughout “Grains, Seeds & Legumes” of funny little men planting, watering and hoeing said grains, seeds and legumes don’t make you laugh, they’ll have you wondering how, exactly, they wandered onto these otherwise very clean pages.

As I cooked, I found myself in conversation with Brown. I made her Warm Barley with Roast Pumpkin and Feta, and liked it very much. Nonetheless, next time, I told an imaginary Ms. Brown in my kitchen, I’ll substitute pomegranate molasses for the white balsamic vinegar that’s called for, and I’ll sprinkle pomegranate seeds throughout. The Tuscan Beans were also delicious, and I felt sure Brown wouldn’t mind that I threw in some corn stock – because I had it around and the beans seemed to be getting a tad dry – and that I grated curls of Parmesan cheese over top when I served the beans.

I’m sorry to say I have one major bone of contention with “Grains, Seeds & Legumes,” and two quibbles.

It is standard in modern cookbooks to list the ingredients in the order they are called for in the recipe instructions. This is done to make a cook’s life easier. Brown instead chose to list ingredients by where you’d shop: From the Grocer, From the Butcher, From the Greengrocer. Possibly this is an attempt to emphasize where food comes from, a concern that tops the food world agenda today. But it forces the cook to constantly scan the ingredients list to find the amounts she needs. Inexperienced writers like to come up with all sorts of words for the perfectly serviceable “said.” They try out such verbs as “mused,” “quipped” and “yakked,” which are often distracting rather than interesting. That’s what the peculiar and irksome ingredients order here brings to mind.

As for my quibbles, “Grains, Seeds & Legumes” is an Australian book that is being sold in the American market. The geographic gap brings some inevitable confusion, for instance, what is malthouse flour? Where can I get it? What can I substitute for it? Or why the heck would I poach smoked fish before adding it to a (Leek & Smoked Haddock) risotto? Is that an Aussie thing? Also, when Brown calls for cumin, does she mean seeds or ground? And with bulgur, should I reach for fine, medium or coarse? And can she possibly mean 25 grams (1 ounce) active dried yeast for the Buckwheat Blini with Yogurt and Smoked Salmon? That would be about four envelops of yeast, which seems so much more than necessary, I was scared to give the recipe a try. Given such puzzles, the book is probably better-suited to confident cooks.

Finally, on Page 234, in the recipe for Blackberry, Apple & Maple Brown Betty, Brown blithely tells her readers this: “If you don’t like the flavour of maple syrup, leave it out …” Don’t like the flavor of maple syrup??!! To a New Englander, that’s just crazy talk, Ms. Brown.


I adored this dish – its contrasts of warm and cold, sweet and savory, spice and mellow grain, were spot on. That said, I reduced the cayenne from a whopping 2 teaspoons (did cookbook writer Molly Brown really mean that??) to a much gentler 1/4 teaspoon. And I’d caution cooks to start with 2 cloves garlic and taste as they go. I used ground cumin and medium-grain bulgur; the latter took longer than 15 minutes to cook and required additional stock.


125 g (41/2 ounces, 2/3 cup) brown lentils

60 ml (2 fl oz, 1/4 cup) olive oil

11/2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper (see recipe headnote)

200 g (7 oz) burghul (bulgur wheat) (see recipe headnote)

375 ml (121/2 fl oz, 11/2 cups) chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 pitted dates, chopped

350 g (121/2 oz) Greek-style yoghurt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

25 g (1 oz, 1/4 cup) flaked almonds, toasted

1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds, for sprinkling


1 onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves (see recipe headnote)

1 Lebanese (short) cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes

2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint

Juice of 1/2 lemon

15 g (1/2 oz, 1/4 cup) chopped coriander (cilantro)

Put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook until soft but not falling apart, about 20-35 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, sauté the onion in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until soft but not coloured. Add 2 of the garlic cloves (finely chopped), the cumin and cayenne pepper and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the burghul, stock, seasoning and dates. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer, cover and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the burghul is cooked, about 15 minutes.

Make the tzatziki by combining the yoghurt with the remaining garlic (crushed), the remaining olive oil, the cucumber and mint. Stir gently to avoid squashing the cucumber.

Drain the lentils, season with salt and pepper and stir in the extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Carefully fork the lentils through the burghul, along with the coriander and almonds. Check for seasoning. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve with the tzatziki.

]]> 0, 07 Nov 2017 17:26:19 +0000
Healthy eggplant and spinach Parmesan: Freeze it now, eat it later Wed, 08 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Make-ahead meals and cooking for the freezer, once relegated to suburban supermoms who had it more together than the rest of us, are now trendy with the healthy-eating crowd.

Sure, we call it “meal prep” but it’s pretty much the same thing: Make good food in advance, so we can eat it sometime in the future. In the past, this was primarily to save meal-planning stress, dishwashing time and money. Now, we are recognizing another implicit benefit: We are more likely to make healthy food choices if something tasty and nutritious is already prepared.

My Eggplant and Spinach Parmesan, healthy and veggie-filled, is quite easy to pull together,and freezes beautifully.

I focused on an eggplant dish simply because I felt the pasta would be missed less. The eggplant, usually breaded and fried, was simply seasoned and roasted, and no one in my family missed the extra breadcrumbs or oil. I added in baby spinach, which contributed nutrients but also a nice layered lasagna-like element to the dish.

Without actual pasta, though, I knew I needed to keep some serious cheese. Using part-skim ricotta as the main component worked well, and I boosted the flavor with just a little bit of nutty Parmesan, and a reasonable quantity of mozzarella for melty-stretchy goodness.

The recipe makes enough for eight, so a small family can freeze half for a second meal.


Servings: 8

2 medium eggplants, 11/2-2 pounds total

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

Olive oil from a mister (or nonstick spray)

1 (15-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese

1 egg white

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning

5 cups baby spinach

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese plus 1/4 cup additional for topping

4 cups prepared marinara sauce (no sugar added)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Slice eggplant into 1/4-inch slices. Place on a large baking sheet fitted with a baking rack. Sprinkle slices with half the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and spray lightly with an olive oil mister. Bake for 10 minutes, and then flip over the slices. Season the second side with the remaining garlic, another 1/4 teaspoon of salt and spray with olive oil. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until slices are tender, but not falling apart, and then allow to cool enough to handle. Lower the oven temperature to 350 F.

Meanwhile, mix together in a small bowl the ricotta, egg white, Parmesan cheese, Italian herb seasoning, black pepper and remaining salt. Spray the inside of a medium-sized baking or casserole dish. Place 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce at the bottom of the pan.

Layer in order: half the eggplant, half the ricotta cheese, half the spinach, half the 1 cup of mozzarella, half the (remaining) sauce. Repeat the layers, ending with sauce. Top with remaining 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese.

Cover with oven safe lid or with foil (spray lightly with oil to avoid sticking), and bake until hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes, removing cover halfway through the baking time. Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving.

CHEF’S TIP: The dish will firm up as it cools, if you are trying to cut neater squares.

]]> 0, 07 Nov 2017 16:33:10 +0000
Sweet potato and mushroom soup is a winner Wed, 08 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 What’s for dinner? It is the eternal question and, nationwide, the “I’m out of ideas” face can be spotted on folks wandering the grocery store in search of inspiration.

While even chefs sometimes get “dinner block,” there is an advantage to having a library of tricks and techniques at your disposal. And as the weather grows cold and the days grow short, top chefs look to their most coveted culinary secret: soup.

You can make soup out of anything. Which, OK, is not exactly a secret, but sometimes we need a reminder that soup is the ultimate winner in the most important categories. Quick and easy? Check! Perfect make-ahead item? Check. Slow-cooker friendly? Double check! Delicious and satisfying on its own, or paired with sandwiches or salad? Check, check, check.

But just because soup is easy, it doesn’t mean you necessarily know what kind of soup you want to make, so the students at The Culinary Institute of America are here to nudge you in the right direction. We challenged Chef Martin Matysik’s Advanced Cooking class to develop a user-friendly soup that will help jumpstart your weekly meal planning. And boy, did they deliver.

The competition was tight, but this recipe for Autumn Sweet Potato and Mushroom Soup stood out. It is creamy (more on that in a minute) with rich, meaty flavors of sweet potato and portobello mushroom. The aromatic rosemary, bay leaves and celery come in for that parting hug as the soup warms you.

This recipe is almost vegetarian (omit the Worcestershire sauce, which is made with anchovies, or replace with a vegetarian version) and can be made dairy-free or vegan with a few slight changes. Substitute olive oil when it calls for butter, and replace the cream with your favorite unsweetened nondairy milk substitute. Or, to help replicate the richness that heavy cream offers, stir in soaked and puréed cashews.

Once you’ve made this soup, you have a base recipe that you can use all the way through winter. Instead of sweet potato, you can use any hearty vegetable, like butternut squash, parsnip or carrot. Use your favorite herbs, like sage or thyme, and your go-to flavoring ingredients like hot sauce, Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar.

A soup this hearty can be served as a main course, alongside a bright fall salad (think greens, apples and pecans) or an open-faced chicken salad sandwich on multigrain toast. It’s also a perfect next-day lunch or starter course at a dinner party. After all, now that you know our secret, you really should share it with friends.


Servings: 4

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt, as needed

Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

1 cup diced yellow onion

1/2 cup diced shallot

4 cloves garlic, diced

2 portobello mushroom caps, roughly chopped

1 cup heavy cream

2 sprigs rosemary, minced

2 dried bay leaves

2 cups vegetable stock

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup celery leaves, for garnish

2 ounces Camembert cheese, cubed, for garnish

8 sweet potato chips, as needed for garnish

1/4 cup creme fraiche, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt, and toss to combine. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, shallot, garlic and mushroom and cook until the vegetables are softened and the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.

Add the reserved potatoes, cream, rosemary and bay leaves. Cover and simmer to blend ingredients, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves and carefully transfer the sweet potato mixture to a blender. Blend until smooth.

Return the mixture to the soup pot and add the vegetable stock. Simmer over medium heat, uncovered, until the mixture has reduced slightly and is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, as needed, and serve with Worcestershire sauce, celery leaves, Camembert, sweet potato chips and creme fraiche, if using.

]]> 0, 07 Nov 2017 16:37:20 +0000
Bite Into Maine opening 1st brick-and-mortar location Tue, 07 Nov 2017 17:30:35 +0000 Bite Into Maine, one of southern Maine’s most popular lobster roll food trucks, will open its first brick-and-mortar location at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Scarborough.

Bite Into Maine usually serves its well-known roster of lobster rolls – from traditional to chipotle, curry and wasabi versions – with a spectacular view, from its oceanfront perch at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth. The company’s new commissary, located at 185 U.S. Route 1 in Scarborough, will have just 12 seats and be open year round so locals will always have access to lobster rolls and won’t have to fight the summer tourist crowd to get them.

In addition to lobster rolls, the menu includes clam and corn chowder, and a variety of sandwich melts, including a lobster grilled cheese with chipotle aioli and fontina, and the “Triple B” – made with bacon, brie and blueberry jam. Sides will be potato salad, cole slaw and potato chips.

Bite Into Maine will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m to 4 p.m. Sunday. It will be closed on Mondays.

]]> 0, 07 Nov 2017 13:57:06 +0000
Celebrity chef coming to Whole Foods Market Sunday Tue, 07 Nov 2017 17:30:23 +0000 Nationally renowned chef Hugh Acheson will be at Whole Foods Market in Portland from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday to sign books, do a cooking demonstration and sell tacos to benefit a non-profit group he founded called Seed Life Skills.

Acheson was named Best Chef: Southeast by the James Beard Foundation in 2012, and a Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine in 2002. He is a chef/partner in 5&10 and The National in Athens, Ga., and in Empire State South, First & Third Hot Dog & Sausage Shack, and Spiller Park Coffee in Atlanta.

Acheson also competed in season 3 of Top Chef Masters on the Bravo channel, and has been a judge on seasons 9 to 13 of Top Chef

He is the author of “A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen,” winner of a James Beard Award; “Pick a Pickle: 50 Recipes for Pickles, Relishes, and Fermented Snacks;” and “The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits.”

Acheson is on a cross-country tour of 25 cities as part of Airstream’s “Endless Caravan” program. At each stop, he’ll host an interactive taco-making demonstration and sell tacos for Seed Life Skills, a nonprofit that helps get kids cooking and connect science to real-life problems.

The public will have the chance to win an All-Clad Slow Cookers, a signed cookbook and bottles of Cholula Hot Sauce.

Whole Foods Market is located at 2 Somerset St.

]]> 0 retail giant Amazon is buying Whole Foods in a stunning move that gives it hundreds of stores across the U.S., a laboratory for radical retail experiments that could revolutionize the way people buy groceries.Tue, 07 Nov 2017 13:50:19 +0000
Fumbling in the dark to make cookies without GMOs Sun, 05 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 The last thing I watched before my house, like much of Maine, went dark early Monday morning was “Food Evolution,” a 2016 film on the heated debate surrounding genetic modification of food. Traveling from Hawaiian papaya groves to banana farms in Uganda to the cornfields of Iowa, director Scott Hamilton Kennedy walks viewers through the emotions and the science fueling the argument.

Modern genetic engineering techniques differ from conventional hybrid breeding ones in that the latter can happen in nature while the former can take place only in a laboratory. A hybrid can be as simple as crossing two varieties of strawberries to get one that has traits of both, say extra sweet and cold hardy. A GMO has genes spliced into its code that would not be there naturally. For example, editing the genetic makeup of corn to be resistant to a particular pesticide.

At the end of the film, I found myself still sitting on the fence where I’ve been teetering for a while now. I see plenty of scientific data available that says genetic engineering is safe and produces higher yields in harsher climates in the face of global warming. But what if the hypotheses about the damage GMOs could do to the environment and our bodies hold true when future science reveals itself? Can I easily avoid GMOs and continue along my path of indecision, effectively playing both sides of the fence?

Armed with a headlamp and the knowledge that 1) certified organic products are non-GMO by definition, 2) the Non-GMO Project label voluntarily affixed on over 42,000 retail food products means each contains less than 1 percent genetically modified ingredients and 3) that the main GMO crops in the United States are corn and soybeans, I foraged through my dark larder: Could I gather all of the ingredients for a batch of my favorite fall cookies without any GMO assistance? I was hopeful that by the end of this exercise, I’d have both my mise en place and power so that I could actually bake the cookies.

The oats for my Chewy Cherry-Oatmeal Cookies come from Grange Corner Farm in Lincolnville and are certified organic by Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, as are my eggs from Apple Creek Farm in Bowdoinham. Neither my cinnamon nor my pure vanilla comes from Maine, but both are certified organic nationally. All systems go on these.

My all-purpose flour comes from Vermont-based King Arthur. It’s unbleached, but not organic. But it’s got the Non-GMO Project label because King Arthur uses wheat sourced entirely from the United States. No genetically modified wheat has been approved for use in North America. Good to go.

My sugars were split. Domino sugar carries the Non-GMO Project label because it’s made from pure cane. Only sugar derived from beets is suspect, GMO-wise. My Hannaford-brand brown sugar was made from cane molasses, the label says, but the sugar was not listed as pure cane and, therefore, likely has genetically modified beets in the mix.

My dried cherries were unsweetened and since there are no GMO cherry crops, or pecan ones for that matter, I can assume neither come from genetically modified seed.

The unsalted butter, also Hannaford’s brand, that I keep on hand for baking doesn’t make the non-GMO grade. Yes, the ingredients list is short: just pasteurized cream and natural flavorings. But because the label does not explicitly say the cows that made the cream were never given genetically engineered bovine growth hormones or fed corn from a GMO crop, I have to assume they were. I could always use the local, organic butter (read, expensive) that I keep on hand. I typically reserve that for toast, where I can actually taste the difference, so committing it to cookies would signal a slide to the non-GMO side of the fence.

My honey is local. I bought it in an unlabeled mason jar. The national beekeeping industry contends honey, by its very nature, is non-GMO because there are no genetically modified honey bees. The Non-GMO Project counters that honey has a high GMO risk because the crops the honeybees are pollinating may be GMOs. How do you tell where a bee has been? I’m using only a tablespoon, so I’m OK with tabling this one for later investigation.

My baking soda does not carry a Non-GMO label, but the ingredient list has only a single entry: sodium bicarbonate, a naturally occurring compound that, if pure, is considered GMO-free. My trusted brand – Arm & Hammer – makes sodium bicarbonate by mining trona ore, and this method uses carbon dioxide and that carbon dioxide is often made from GMO fertilizer. So GMOs could linger. Once I reach the bottom of the box, I might consider replacing it with another brand – Whole Foods 365 or Bob’s Red Mill, for example – that uses pure sodium bicarbonate but seeing as I use the stuff in small increments of a 1/2 teaspoon at a time in cookie recipes, I’m not worried about causing my family harm.

My salt is kosher but is not certified as GMO-free. That said, salt has no genes, so why would a company pay for a certification process to deem it free of genetic modification? In my mind, doing so just to cash in on a perceived marketing demand for non-GMOs further muddies the issue. And as this little exercise proves, the waters are already pretty murky on a number of fronts as it is.

A nationwide GMO labeling bill was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in July 2016 to help clear these waters. It stipulates the USDA must have a scheme for labeling in place by the summer of 2018. The USDA is still mulling over how to feasibly implement the statute, but is expected to release recommendations before the end of the year.

Here’s hoping the final program will make it easier to find GMO ingredients should you find yourself looking for them.

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

Oatmeal cherry pecan cookies. Staff photo by Ben McCanna


This is a recipe I found in the holiday baking issue of Fine Cooking back in 2003. I’ve been tweaking it over the years to include cherries instead of cranberries, pecans instead of walnuts and local and organic ingredients when I can.

Makes 4 dozen cookies

21/2 cups (8¼ ounces) old-fashioned oats

11/2 cups (6¾ ounces) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, slightly softened

1 cup (7.5 ounces) packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1-1/3 cups (6 ounces) dried cherries

1 cup (5 ounces) chopped, toasted pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large cookie sheets with silicon mats. Mix together the oats, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Scrap down the sides of the bowl and add the honey and vanilla, beating until blended. Add the dry ingredients and mix slowly until well combined. Stir in the cherries and pecans.

Drop the dough in heaping tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheets. Bake until the centers of the cookies are soft and no longer look wet, 9 to 11 minutes.

Let cool on the sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 5 days.

]]> 0, 03 Nov 2017 10:51:18 +0000
Dine Out Maine: Four stars for Chaval, latest venture from Sansonetti and Lopez Sun, 05 Nov 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Nothing disappears faster than childhood. Some parents mark the cruel passage of time by bronzing baby booties, some by taping crayon-and-paste collages to their refrigerator doors. Chefs Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez name new restaurants.

The couple’s first sit-down restaurant, Piccolo, which means “little” in Italian, opened in 2013, when their daughter was just 2 weeks old – not long after the pair relocated from New York City to Maine. Then, late this summer, the two opened Chaval in Portland’s West End. The restaurant’s name is Spanish slang for “young kid.”

When I asked them to guess what their next business might be called, they didn’t hesitate.

“College Tuition,” laughed Sansonetti.

In their major endeavors, Lopez and Sansonetti have also shown a willingness to reinvent spaces left behind by beloved local institutions. Piccolo occupies the spot where Bresca stood, and Chaval the building that once was Caiola’s, a neighborhood stalwart.

“We knew that it might take people some time to get used to it. So we’re taking things slowly, being careful about it,” Lopez said when we spoke last year. This February, the pair started the process, shuttering Caiola’s for good and embarking on what would become several months of extensive renovations.

Today, the front room looks twice as large, with husky oak-and-pine furnishings and a rafter-lighted bar stocked prodigiously with amaros, vermouths and sherries, including a Spanish Aurora manzanilla sherry on draft ($6) that fits with Chaval’s hybrid Spanish-and-French menu.

There is also a rear dining room that can be accessed only by passing through the open kitchen – a design flaw that Lopez and Sansonetti have turned into a feature by stripping the restaurant of most of the traditional boundaries between front-of-house and back-of-house. Walk through Chaval’s kitchen and you won’t be chased out; you’ll probably be greeted by a prep cook, or (as happened to me one afternoon), offered a strawberry.

Free fruit samples aside, the dining room at the rear – with its long wall of hard banquette seating and blustery heat pump – can get brutally loud. Noise-dampening panels are on their way, according to Lopez, but until they arrive, ask to sit up front, among the mosaic walls of irregularly cut smoked mirror glass and crocheted plant holders that hang from the ceiling like stalactites.

“I brought you here so you could get some ideas for your venue,” a chatty wedding planner said to the couple seated with him at a nearby table. He gestured expansively around the room, then back to the menu. “And for the food, of course.”

All three proceeded to order the steak frites ($25). Glancing over at their plates, I knew I had to join them. Sansonetti, Chaval’s savory chef, prepares this classic French dish simply, seasoning grilled 10½-ounce New York strip steaks with nothing more than black pepper and flaked sea salt. Alongside, two cups: one a paper condiment cup of béarnaise sauce, buzzing with licorice flavors from chopped tarragon and housemade tarragon vinegar. The other a tall, stainless steel tumbler filled with crisp, salty, twice-fried local Green Thumb Farms potatoes.

But short loin cuts of beef are always a crapshoot, even when they’re cooked perfectly. And on the night I visited, mine was chewy – the evening’s only let-down.

I made up for it with an order of the outlandishly crimson tomato bread ($5), Chaval’s version of Spanish pan con tomate (or pa amb tomaquet in Catalonia). Each piece of bread is toasted on the flattop plancha, rubbed with clove after clove of raw garlic, then covered to the edges with chopped tomatoes that Sansonetti marinates in salt and white pepper to coax out their excess liquid. It’s a brilliant trick that keeps the warm bread crisp underneath the cool tomatoes.

Temperature also plays an important role in Chaval’s sepia ($12): cuttlefish with potatoes, celery and a squid-ink aioli. Here, the tender, blanched white flesh is served cold and topped with micro celery and lemon zest to tamp down any funk. Consequently, there’s nothing fishy about this dish, just a gorgeous, soft salinity and heat from the chili-powder-sprinkled aioli.

Chaval’s sepia features cuttlefish, celery and squid-ink aioli. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

Sansonetti’s pork terrine ($11) pulls off nearly the same feat. His “fromage de tête,” or head cheese, is clean-tasting, almost sweet, with none of the notorious barnyardy, old-boot off-flavors that mar other versions. And it’s even better spread with an atom-thin layer of Dijon mustard and topped with a sliver of homemade pickled local pear.

“I got the charcuterie bug when I was working in New York City and had the chance to work with some of the best charcuterie chefs in the world. Then I went to Paris to work with Gilles Verot, a third-generation charcuterie chef who won an international competition for his head cheese. I thought I knew how to make it, but then they showed me that I knew nothing. So I had to learn,” Sansonetti said. We should consider ourselves lucky that he did.

Chaval’s menu also offers Sansonetti plenty of opportunities to show off his skill with vegetables, from a salad of Belgian endive, veiny Cabrales bleu cheese, pickled onions and Applewood-smoked walnuts ($9) that tastes like the memory of a summer campfire, to a vegetarian entrée bluntly named “Vegetable” ($17).

On the page, the dish is so unassuming that an omnivore might never stop to read more. That would be a mistake. On the plate, “Vegetable” is a substantial dish of salt-roasted celeriac, half-moons of caramelized delicata squash, Swiss chard and a rustic Spanish romesco sauce with just enough structure and tang to resolve all the flavors into a cohesive whole.

As he cleared our plates, our server mused, “I think meat-eaters order that sometimes so they’re still hungry for dessert.” It’s not a bad strategy. With Lopez, a 2017 James Beard Award semifinalist, in charge of Chaval’s sweet dishes, skipping dessert just isn’t an option.

Steak frites are seasoned simply and accompanied with a condiment cup of béarnaise sauce. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

Take for example, Bee’s Knees ($11), an extraordinary beehive-shaped miniature bombe Alaska that Lopez builds from a disc of gin-soaked vanilla cake coiled around a spiral of lemon curd, a tight mound of caramelized honey ice cream and a frothy blanket of soft, browned meringue. When it arrives at the table, the server streams hyperactive blue drizzles of flaming rum over the top. Suddenly, everything smells like molasses and caramel.

It’s a self-assured, sophisticated dish – one that relies on Lopez’s masterful understanding of simple ingredients like egg whites, rum and honey, and how they connect back to the restaurant’s Spanish/French theme, as well as to the very ethos behind Chaval: “We know when to use different techniques, but we don’t feel like we need to show you 10 in one dish to make you happy,” Lopez said. “That just feels soulless, without love. For us, it’s about making really good food that makes our team excited to come to work every day. This is what we love to do. We’re older. We’re grown up.”

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 bread, Chaval's version of Spanish pan con tomate, and pork terrine, served with Dijon mustard and topped with homemade pickled local pear.Sun, 05 Nov 2017 17:51:14 +0000
What’s opening, what’s moving and other news from Portland’s food scene Fri, 03 Nov 2017 23:07:39 +0000 0 Marinated bluefish at Drifters Wife natural wine bar in Portland. Right: Customer Sam Gilbert watches as Domaine des Sablonnettes' "Le Bon Petit Diable" is poured.Fri, 03 Nov 2017 19:14:34 +0000 New tasting room coming to Portland Fri, 03 Nov 2017 21:52:20 +0000 The owners of Bow Street Market in Freeport are opening a lounge called The Tasting Room at 495 Forest Ave. in Portland.

Beer, wine and liquor tastings will be the focus of the new business, which will be located in the renovated Sony building.

According to the application filed with the city, the owners hope to open the lounge in November.

]]> 0 Fri, 03 Nov 2017 18:20:45 +0000
New cocktail lounge coming to Portland Fri, 03 Nov 2017 21:46:28 +0000 Atwater Holdings, a Pennsylvania-based company, plans to open a high-end cocktail lounge with outdoor dining next spring in the lobby of the historic Lafayette Building on the corner of Congress and Park streets.

The Sagamore Hill Lounge at 638 Congress St. will be located in a renovated portion of the existing lobby of the Lafayette, which has both apartments and shops.

The target opening date is April 1, according to its licensing application filed with the city.

]]> 0 Fri, 03 Nov 2017 18:21:11 +0000
Lobster food cart opening a restaurant in Portland Fri, 03 Nov 2017 21:43:05 +0000 Another Portland food cart is turning into a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

High Roller Lobster Co., in business since 2015, is known for its lobster rolls, crab rolls, lobster grilled cheeses, and cheese crisp taco stuffed with lobster. Now it’s opening a 50-seat restaurant with a bar area and counter service at 104 Exchange St., the former location of the Portland Meatball Co., according to its application filed with the city.

]]> 0 Fri, 03 Nov 2017 18:23:34 +0000
Urban Winery coming to East Bayside Fri, 03 Nov 2017 21:41:31 +0000 After a false start a few years ago, it looks as if Blue Lobster Urban Winery may finally get off the ground.

The owners of the business, Chris Gamble and Karen Rasmussen, have applied to the city of Portland for a winery license at 219 Anderson St., the former location of Pistol Pete’s. The winery and tasting room was originally slated for India Street.

Blue Lobster’s target opening date is Jan. 15, according to its winery license application.

]]> 0 Fri, 03 Nov 2017 17:41:31 +0000
Restaurant and wine bar will move to new location this winter Fri, 03 Nov 2017 21:39:09 +0000 The owners of the Drifters Wife and Maine & Loire, a Portland restaurant and wine shop that specializes in natural wines, will close their current location and move into a larger adjacent space on Washington Avenue that once housed the restaurant Roustabout. The wine shop/restaurant, now at 63 Washington Ave., will move early next year into 59 Washington Ave.

The last dinner service in the old space will be held Dec. 30.

According to application filed with the city, the new restaurant and wine bar will have 44 seats and a 10-seat bar, a substantial step up from the current seating of 28 total. The restaurant will be open five days a week for dinner.

In 2016, the editors of Bon Appetit named Drifters Wife one of the 50 Best New Restaurants in America.

Correction: This story was updated at 10:40 a.m. on Nov. 9, 2017 to correct the date of the last dinner service.

]]> 0 Thu, 09 Nov 2017 10:41:03 +0000
Don’s Lunch Van in Westbrook looking for a new home Thu, 02 Nov 2017 18:13:17 +0000 Don’s Lunch Van in Westbrook has closed while the owner looks for a new location for his iconic burger joint.

Craig Bernier has been operating the red-and-yellow van out of the parking lot at Friendly Gas and Redemption at 925 Main St. But the truck closed Tuesday, and a message on the Don’s Lunch Van Facebook page said the kitchen-on-wheels needs a new spot to park.

“We have 2 potential locations, both in Westbrook, of which we should have answers on within a week or two,” it said.

The Facebook post went on to thank loyal customers and promised an update as soon as possible. In response to a question from a customer, Don’s Lunch Van said they could not come to an agreement on rental costs with owners of the building. A message to Bernier through the Facebook page was not immediately returned.

“We hope to reopen within a few months and are hoping to continue serving tasty treats to all of you!” it said.

Don’s Lunch Van has a long history in Westbrook.

“It is an institution,” City Administrator Jerre Bryant said.

Original owners Don and Yvonne Richards first opened Don’s Lunch Van in 1976. They operated in the parking lot of The Muffler Shop at 959 Main St.

They sold the business in 2001 to Bill and Nancy Bombard, who moved it to 517 Main St.

Jim Richards, the son of the original owners, bought the business from the Bombards in 2012.

The state shut down the food truck in 2015 for nonpayment of sales taxes. Later that year, Bernier bought the van. He moved the business to the Friendly Gas parking lot, just down the road from its original home. A former customer, Bernier promised to strip the menu down to basics — hamburgers, hot dogs, clam cakes, french fries, onion rings and chicken nuggets.

As the end of his lease approached at Friendly Gas, Bernier approached the city of Westbrook for help. He wanted to lease a vacant city-owned property on Mechanic Street. Bryant said the Westbrook City Council had concerns about that location, but he is working with Bernier to identify another spot for the van.

“The whole litany of first, second and third choices haven’t worked out,” Bryant said. “We’re trying to find something.”

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

Twitter: megan_e_doyle

]]> 0, 02 Nov 2017 21:43:52 +0000
Otto Pizza takes a shot at Papa John’s Thu, 02 Nov 2017 16:29:18 +0000 They couldn’t resist.

Otto Pizza weighed in Thursday morning after Papa John’s blamed its slagging growth on the NFL’s dropping ratings. Papa John’s shares dropped 11 percent Thursday on the news that the company’s revenue growth was slowing. John Schnatter, founder and CEO of the pizza chain, said protests during the national anthem at NFL games are the problem.

“The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle,” Schnatter told investors on a conference call.

That led Otto Pizza, which has locations in Portland, South Portland and Yarmouth, to tweet: “We value individuality, freedom of expression, and the exchange of diverse ideas. Sales are fine.” Otto’s tweet included a link to a story about Papa John’s financial troubles.

]]> 0, 03 Nov 2017 00:47:52 +0000
Portland Beer Week’s the perfect time to determine your craft beer cliche Thu, 02 Nov 2017 08:00:06 +0000 0, 02 Nov 2017 14:29:06 +0000 Revised food sovereignty law lets consumers buy from source Wed, 01 Nov 2017 13:56:47 +0000 AUBURN — At 4 Season Farm Market, dried apple cider rings are coming back, pickles are planned for next week and Kathy Shaw hasn’t ruled out crafting kombucha, now that she can.

Gov. Paul LePage signed a revised food sovereignty bill into law Tuesday that eases restrictions for some farmers and processors like Shaw by changing state food laws to allow certain direct-to-consumer sales.

“People can have an idea and try it out in their home kitchen or on their farm,” said Heather Retberg at Quill’s End Farm in Penobscot, a Maine food advocate. “I have apples on my trees; I am now able to can and sell applesauce. Or my neighbor’s been coming here for years and saying, ‘Oh, I really love that goat cheese you make; can you sell it to me?’ and people have had to say no, and now they can say yes.”

At least 22 communities in Maine, Auburn the largest among them, have passed local food sovereignty ordinances in an effort to get people closer to their food, and to ease regulations on growers.

Starting Wednesday, any consumer living in or visiting one of those communities can make a face-to-face purchase at the farmer’s or processor’s farm or home, without state oversight or inspection of foods including milk, cheese, cider, canned foods and vegetables.

Poultry and meat will continue to be state inspected – the federal government had warned Maine that it would step in if those products weren’t processed in state-inspected slaughterhouses, and the new law was changed..

Shaw, who co-owns the market and Valley View Farm with Joe Gray, said the law makes it easier for someone like her to try something new. Before, launching a product such as pickles required sending the recipe to the state, shipping them a full sample, paying for testing and waiting for test results.

Now, she can just go ahead – as long as she sells direct from her processing spot or farm.

“If I wanted to take it to my farmers market in Falmouth or Cumberland, then I would need to have them all submitted for testing,” she said.

She’s hoping it creates more relationships between farmer and customer. The law isn’t the whole answer, she said, but it’s a good start at keeping things simple.

“It took me twice as long today to go do my deliveries and pickups as it usually does because of road conditions,” Shaw said. “If we have a major catastrophe, people need to be able to feed themselves, and one way they can do that is by relying on their local farmer and creating that relationship with them.”

Retberg, who helped draft the ordinance language more and more towns are using, said she’s heard from 25 to 30 towns since summer that are either interested in or working toward their own local ordinance.

“It makes Maine the first state in the entire country that is recognizing people at the community level have the authority to define our own terms for our food system and to really be making local rules for local food,” she said. “That leaves a foundation for all sorts of innovation and growth for more local food in our communities.”

]]> 0 the new food sovereignty law in place, Kathy Shaw of 4 Season Farm Market in Auburn can raise, make and sell certain food items direct to the customer without the item being inspected by a state inspector. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)Wed, 01 Nov 2017 20:55:49 +0000
Last Bite: A fan of Standard Baking Co. says goodbye Wed, 01 Nov 2017 08:00:00 +0000 My family and I are knee-deep in the middle of a significant move to two different cities – although we will be together in both of them. The last few weeks have involved a tremendous amount of sorting, and, with great joy, discarding, so that we achieve our goal of bringing nothing superfluous to either place. As such, most of my cookware has disappeared into boxes and I have not so much as minced a clove of garlic.

We don’t have the time to go out for a long meal, so we have been eating, appropriately to my final column, in bites. A hunk of cracked wheat bread and a subtly sharp, nutty cheddar. Slices of apples dipped in a jar of (transcendent) honey generously given to me by Alicia O’Connell, a former colleague and co-owner of Briggs Farm in Somerville. Handfuls of granola and the remaining chocolate from our trip to Porto in Portugal. Giant green olives. Hummus and julienned cucumber. The last of the baguettes from the freezer, toasted and buttered or laid on foil in a hot oven with a few slices of gruyere. And finally, most important of all, the almond macaroons from Standard Baking Co.

The very day my husband Keith and I arrived in Portland, we went to Standard. Keith is serious about bread, and his palate is trained to discern even the slightest variations in taste, texture, yeast, flour and salt. When he told me that Standard’s was the best baguette he’d tasted outside of Paris, I was sold, and their bread has become, well, our standard.

When our young son recently reached solid-food age, it became a tradition to take him to Standard on Saturdays with his friend Hartley and Hartley’s wonderful mother, for a few bites of a croissant or a morning bun. Since moving to Portland, I’ve been at least a thrice-weekly customer at the bakery, and as I began to frequent it, I started noticing more than just the bread. Little bags of treats appeared in my peripheral vision – molasses spice cookies, rugelach that rivals William Greenberg’s in New York, and yes, the almond macaroons.

Almost every time I saw them I’d buy a bag, and this week was no different. They’re made from absolutely nothing superfluous – just almonds, egg whites, sugar, lemon juice and a touch of salt. They are airy, chewy, golden, perfectly sized, not-too-sweet morsels of pure goodness, with an almond flavor so deep it’s almost boozy. Then, as you swallow and bask in the afterglow, you realize the headiness is just the beautiful result of five simple ingredients mixing and mingling in a delicious back-and-forth – a few thrilling bites in a town with incredible taste.

Thank you, Portland, for feeding us so exquisitely. We miss you already. — Anna, Keith, Henry and Bess.

Anna Stoessinger lives (rather, lived) in Maine with her husband, Keith; her son, Henry; and their dog, Bess. She is a writer who works in advertising. She can be contacted at

]]> 0, 31 Oct 2017 17:49:19 +0000
Try pumpkin puree instead of fruit for a breakfast bowl Wed, 01 Nov 2017 08:00:00 +0000 All four of my daughters love frozen acai bowls because they feel like you’re eating ice cream for breakfast, except healthier. If you haven’t hopped on the acai bowl craze, allow me to update you.

Superfood acai berry puree is blended with fruit – usually berries or banana – and then served thick, creamy and semi-frozen, topped with granola, fruit, nuts or other goodies.

You can buy gorgeous berry-topped bowls at juice bars across the country, or make your own by blending up the base, pouring it into individual bowls and freezing. Once frozen solid, they’ll last for weeks.

But, you’ll need to let it soften a little to achieve the desired consistency, which means this is a great make-ahead breakfast. Stock up the freezer with frozen bowls, and pull them out as needed to thaw a few minutes on the counter, adding toppings, and eat.

But frozen breakfast bowls are also fantastic as a to-go snack in a lunchbox: An ice pack slows down the thawing enough to have the bowl at the perfect texture about two hours later. And don’t worry if you miss the mark: Even if it completely thaws, the bowl stays tasty, even if more smoothie-bowl-esque than ice-creamy.

Today, I’m winterizing this summertime treat by swapping out the acai and bringing in the beloved flavors of the season in my Pumpkin and Spice Breakfast Bowl. Pumpkin puree is not only perfectly seasonal, but it boasts a ton of vitamin A (more than a day’s worth in one serving), and a smattering of other vitamins, minerals and fiber.

And it’s naturally sweet, so not a lot of extra sugar is needed to make this breakfast feel like more of an indulgence than it actually is.


Servings: 4


1 large ripe banana, sliced

1-1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree

1 cup reduced fat vanilla Greek yogurt (nonfat yogurt not recommended)

3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice)

Pinch of salt


2 small apples, thinly sliced

1/4 cup pecan halves or pieces

1/4 cup raw oats

4 teaspoons maple syrup

Place all the ingredients for the base into a blender and blend until creamy and smooth, about one minute. (Tip: Blend on low. You may need to start and stop blender, breaking up the ingredients using a wooden spoon when not blending.) Divide the blended mixture among four individual freezer-safe bowls or to-go containers. Top and eat as is for a smoothie bowl. Or, freeze for at least 30 minutes, or up to a month (covered). Just before serving, top with apples, pecans, oats and the maple syrup drizzled on top.

Breakfast bowl can then be eaten frozen like ice cream: Allow a frozen solid bowl to soften a little before – at room temperature, this will take approximately 20 minutes.

In a lunchbox with an ice pack, the ideal frozen eating time is 1 to 2 hours after removing from the freezer. If the bowls “overthaw,” simply enjoy them as smoothie bowls.

]]>, 31 Oct 2017 18:12:25 +0000
Cookbook review: ‘K is for Korean’ makes the cuisine accessible and fast Wed, 01 Nov 2017 08:00:00 +0000 “K is for Korean.” By Rukmini Iyer, Quadrille, $19.99

For a crash course in Korean basics, look no further than “K is for Korean,” part of a new series from Quadrille called Alphabet Cooking. Other titles so far include “M is for Mexican” and “S is for Sri Lankan.”

The small, slim book has neon pink accents and bright, full-page photographs. The approach is stripped-down – no long exposition on culture or technique, just straightforward ingredients and instructions. There are Korean classics, like bulgogi – marinated beef – and bibimbap – a rice bowl with stir-fried vegetables and meat. And there are head-turning concoctions like budae-jjigae, a stew made with Spam, hot dogs, baked beans and instant ramen – as well as kimchi and Korean spices – devised in the aftermath of the Korean War to make use of surplus food from U.S. military bases.

The 50 recipes encompass small plates, condiments, sides and salads, broths and stews, big dishes, rice, noodles and desserts.

Very few of the recipes include more than three or four steps and many won’t take more than an hour to prepare and cook, but almost all require some specialized ingredients many home cooks likely don’t have on their shelves. Of critical importance are gochujang, a spicy red pepper paste; gochugaru, ground red pepper flakes; and kimchi.

One downside to Korean cooking (for non-Koreans) is that these three staple condiments have no good substitutes. Gochujang is a thick, dark red paste that imparts a unique funky-spicy depth to dishes. Gochugaru has a sharper, smokier spice that standard red pepper flakes can’t replicate. Kimchi, a fermented mix of vegetables – like cabbage, radishes and scallions – with spices is a ubiquitous feature of Korean cooking, an ingredient of many dishes and served as a condiment, too. Ultimately, if you don’t have these three ingredients in your pantry, you won’t get far in “K is for Korean.”

Luckily, sourcing these three staples is relatively easy. They should be available at Asian markets like Hong Kong or Veranda in Portland or Tran’s Market in Biddeford, and can be found at larger supermarkets, too. Spices and kimchi have long shelf lives, so you don’t have to go head-over-heels into Korean cooking before they go bad.

Once you procure the staples, preparing most of the recipes in “K is for Korean” is fairly simple.

Kimchi jjigae (tofu stew) is a perfect example. It was a recent wet, cool evening and I was sick when I tried this recipe. While it didn’t heal me all the way, the brew of spice, funk and sweet definitely lifted my spirits, and the simplicity of preparation was easy on a mind and body wracked with walking influenza. The directions went like this: chop vegetables, sauté in oil, add spices and liquid, cook, serve. Even better, almost everything I needed was already in my kitchen. It was just a quick trip to my local Asian mart to pick up tofu, shiitake mushrooms and a large container of gochugaru.

I took a couple of liberties with the recipe, adding a chicken bullion cube to the stew and halving the liquid to concentrate the flavors. The result was exactly what I needed, tons of flavor, plenty of heat and the kind of comfort only a hot bowl of soup can bring. It piqued my interest in what else “K is for Korean,” has to offer, and I’ll certainly return to find out when I want to try something fast and easy.

Peter McGuire can be reached at 791-6325 or at:

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

KIMCHI JJIGAE (tofu stew)

Serves 4

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

9 ounces kimchi, roughly chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1-inch piece ginger, minced

1 teaspoon gochugaru

1 teaspoon gochujang

4-1/2 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, halved

2 teaspoons sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces firm tofu

1 spring onion, finely sliced, to serve

Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan, add the kimchi, onion, garlic and ginger, and stir-fry for 5 minutes.

Stir through the gochugaru and gochujang, then add the mushrooms, 8 cups water, sea salt and a good grind of black pepper.

Bring to boil, then lower the heat and simmer, for 25 minutes.

Slice the tofu in 1/2-inch slices. After the mixture has cooked for 20 minutes, taste it and adjust the level of salt if needed. Place the tofu on top of it, spoon some sauce over it, and cook gently for a further 5 minutes.

Top with the spring onion and serve immediately.

]]> 0, 31 Oct 2017 18:09:33 +0000