Tuesday, January 29, 2008



As long as we’re talking Maine, I will now share with you Maine’s greatest treasure: its seafood. My wife has been cooking for over 50 years; she learned as a child from her dietician aunt, who had one of the first (live broadcast) televised cooking programs. Her cooking is widely admired, as are her techniques, first and foremost of which is what she refers to as her “life’s most creative journey” -- how to get to the best-tasting result with less fuss, time and complicated steps than the original recipe dictates. She particularly enjoys preparing seafoods; fortunate, since that’s what we have in abundance here on the coast of Maine! We serve them at opera parties and art openings, as well as in our home. Herewith, some of my favorite Super Simple Seafood Recipes from Maine.

Freezy Breezy Crab Puffs (makes 48)

Mix well: 1 jar Old English cheese, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder,
½ teaspoon seasoned salt, 3 scallions, minced,
1 stick butter, softened, 1 1/2 tablespoons light mayonnaise

Fold in: 1 can good quality crabmeat, drained.
Separate: 6 Thomas’s English Muffins, and spread mixture on all 12 halves.
Freeze: on a cookie sheet covered with plastic wrap. Then place in freezer bags.
To serve: Cut into quarters while frozen, and broil till bubbly and just brown.

Italian Mussels One Way (2 pounds serves 2 for dinner or 8 as canapés)

Combine in large pot 2-pound bag mussels (those from our good neighbors in Prince Edward Island are pretty darned clean and the steaming will finish the job) and ½ cup of any Italian white wine. Cover and cook over medium-high, shaking from time to time for about 8-10 minutes, until they’re all open.

Drain and discard the tops of shells, arranging the mussels in shells on a cookie sheet.
If you insist, you can make your own pesto sauce from scratch in a food processor. I’ve found the one I think is best in a jar – Classico brand is super. Spread about a teaspoon of pesto sauce over each mussel. Grate about a cup of fresh parmesan (more if you like) and sprinkle over the mussels, then bake at 350 for about 8 minutes, until bubbly.

Italian Mussels the Other Way (same yields as in above recipe)

Combine in large pot another 2-pound bag of mussels and one 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes (the oregano/basil flavored variety) plus ½ cup of chianti (mediocre quality will do fine.) Cover and cook over medium-high, shaking from time to time for about 8-10 minutes, until they’re all open. When serving, spoon sauce from pot over them.

Lobster & Crab Gazpacho (serves 6)

Combine in a large glass bowl, then cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours:

2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes,(2 garlic & onion flavor and 1 zesty jalapeno flavor)
1 quart of V-8, 1 cup of bottled clam juice,
1 tablespoon each lemon and lime juice, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar,
2 tablespoon thin-sliced scallions, 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley,
5-6 ounces of lump crabmeat, 5-6 ounces of lobster meat,
3 dashes Tabasco, sea salt & fresh-ground pepper

Serve with a hearty multi-grain peasant boule or baguette.

Grilled Salmon with Scallion Butter (serves 4)

Mix well and refrigerate: 1 stick butter, softened,1 teaspoon minced curly parsley,
1 1/2 tablespoons minced scallions, dash of lemon juice,
Salt & pepper to taste

Brush: 4 salmon steaks with olive oil and grill 5-6 minutes per side.
Spread: a generous pat of scallion butter over each hot steak to serve.

In Maine, salmon in any form is the traditional Fourth of July entrée, accompanied by conveniently in-season fresh peas.

Pepper Parmesan Salmon Salad (serves 4)

Grill an extra 8 ounces of salmon when preparing another meal. Remove skin and any bones and break the salmon into small pieces.

Whisk together: juice of 4 lemons, 6 cloves garlic, chopped,
1 teaspoon white Worcestershire sauce,
1 teaspoon fresh cracked peppercorns (medley is preferred),
½ cup chopped Italian flat parsley,
Slowly whisk in 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil until dressing is emulsified

Toss: in a large salad bowl 2 heads romaine, trimmed and chopped, 1 cup grated
fresh parmesan, and the dressing.

Serve salad on 4 plates and top with salmon.

Bon appetit!

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