Wednesday, December 31, 2003

New Year's Eve New York Cheesecake

Everyone has their favorite cheesecake recipe, and this is mine, passed down to me from that great blonde in Florida, my mom.

I've loved this recipe ever since she started making it for me and sending it to me as a care package in high school. The secret is the ricotta cheese. I've added a few refinements of my own and it is delightful.

It's cooking as I type and I'll take it to a New Year's party tonight.

Heat oven to 325 degrees

Two packages graham crackers
1 stick melted butter
1/2 cup sugar

1 lb of cream cheese
1 lb of ricotta
1.5 cups sugar
5 eggs room temp
1/2 stick butter melted and cooled
3 tblspoons flour
3 tblespoons cornstarch
2.5 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sour cream folded
lemon zest if desired.

grind the crackers to crumbs
add the sugar and melted butter and combine
pour into an ungreased 10" springform pan and tamp down on bottom and 1/2 way up sides forming a large cavity for the cheesecake batter.
cook in the oven while making the batter (appoximately 10-15 minutes)

Blend the ricotta and the cream cheese and the sugar together until light. Add eggs one at a time blending well each time. Add butter, flour and cornstarch and then vanilla and combine well. Fold in sour cream and if desired , 2 tablespoons lemon zest. Pour into crust (will exceed crust on sides of pan) and bake in a slow 325 degree oven for 1 hour. Turn off oven and let cake sit for 2 hours to dry out. Cool completely on rack in pan and then chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

For tonight's dinner, I added some leftover key lime juice that I had and added zest to the crust.


Sunday, December 28, 2003

Summer House Cafe, Belfast

Every Sunday we wake Vicky out of a sound sleep at about 7:45 am by telephoning her and wispering "get out of bed, all the good stuff is gonna be gone!" We then proceed to pick her up for Church......our church is different from you Sunday go to worship folks...we pray to the object gods by going to our Church, the fleamarket in a nearby town.....
So after a morning of junquing, we are usually hungry, but on this morning, we also took the dogs for a spin around Sears' Island so we were pretty famished by then. We decided to drop the dogs off and go to the Summer House Cafe across from Agway on Rte 1 in Belfast. We had seen a lot of cars there in the past few weeks since it has opened, and wanted to check it out. When we walked in, this nice young woman told us someone would be with us in a minute.........then someone else told us the same thing......then it happened again....we started keeping count by then and when it happened two more times, we pointed the problem out. That's the fifth time we've been told that and there are empty tables to be seen everywhere.
My rule is...if you are going to make people wait, don't leave the menus within easy reach...6.95 for eggs, bacon and toast? In Belfast??? I don't think so, especially not if we had to wait 15 minutes with empty tables around. We left and went to Dudley's for the $4.95 special of two eggs, chedder and sausage potatos, and a grilled biscuit...what more do you need????
So far I can only rate this place on my first impressions and it gets a D for its attitude

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Early Christmas Dinner

Every year at about this time, my family gets together for Christmas in New York. We all dread travelling over the holidays and so we meet, have a big dinner and exchange is wonderful to have Christmas "over" three weeks before the actual event, making the actual day of Christmas much less stressful. So, why am I telling you all this? Because we had about a foot more snowfall in New York than we had in Maine, and I got stuck there and couldn't get back here, where my pipes froze and my furnace quit on me (Luckily, Greg stayed behind with the mutts and was able to remedy the situation!)

My mother has finally relinquished her kitchen to me completely. There was a turning point in our food relationship when she called me on Thanksgiving day to find out how I made my mashed potatoes instead of me calling her. So, she told me that "Christmas dinner" was all mine to make....of course only after she bought the food (I went out later and bought the things I really needed) I wanted to share my Roasted Beef Tenderloin in green peppercorn sauce with you:

Trim and prepare your tenderloin in a roasting pan.
and marinate in the green peppercorn mixture:

In a blender, puree:
4 tablespoons green peppercorns (rinsed if pickled)
4 cloves garlic
1/2-3/4 cup red wine
dash of olive oil
pinch of thyme if you have it

pour over the tenderloin (you might need to double the recipe of your tenderloin is larger), cover in plastic wrap and set in refrigerator for at least three hours.

before cooking, bring tenderloin to room temp. take off plastic wrap, baste meat with sauce from pan and place in a preheated 500 degree oven for 10 minutes. lower temp to 350 and roast for another 25 to 30 minutes depending on how you like your tenderloin. Let rest covered for 20 minutes on a cutting board.

Place roasting pan with juices on stove burner medium high and add two tablespoons butter when melted wisk in two tablespoons flour until smooth and then add 1/2 cup heavy cream wisking constantly, if sauce starts to boil , reduce temp and keep wisking until desired thickness. Sauce will be quite zesty. cut beef in slices and add a bit of sauce over the top. Serve with:

Baby carrots and asparagus tips sauteed lightly in two tablespoons butter, dash of white wine, and fine herbs


Monday, December 01, 2003

Thanksgiving has come and gone and there is STILL turkey left in the fridge! We brined a 20 lb turkey for 24 hours in 3 gallons of water, 2 cups salt, 2 cups dark rum, cayanne pepper, and cilantro. We then cooked it over low heat on the gas grill for three hours and it was just as tender as can be. I am a brining fan from now on!
I cooked a lot of food over several days and so there was no real stress about 10 people for dinner. I found a wonderful dried cranberry and orange yeast bread and tweaked it a bit to make it my own. Greg declared it his new favorite and wants me to make loaves for each of his family members for Christmas presents (I also have to make chocolate almond bark by request for his sisters) So the recipe for the bread is as follows:

3 cups (or more) bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 envelopes quick-rising dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, hot
1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest
Juice from one orange
1/3 cup (about) hot water (120°F to 130°F)
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 large egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)

Stir 3 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt in large bowl to blend. Add milk, 2 eggs, melted butter and orange zest and juice and stir vigorously until well blended. Gradually stir in enough hot water to form soft, slightly sticky dough. Transfer dough to floured work surface. Knead dough until smooth and slightly tacky but not sticky, adding more flour if necessary, about 7 minutes. Knead in dried cranberries 1/3 cup at a time; then knead in pecans. Form dough into ball.

Oil large bowl. Add dough to bowl, turning to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.

Lightly oil heavy large baking sheet. Punch down dough. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces; then divide 1 dough piece into 3 equal pieces and reserve. Using palms of hands, roll out each of remaining 3 large pieces on work surface to 13-inch-long ropes. Braid ropes together. Tuck ends under and pinch together. Transfer braid to prepared baking sheet. Roll out each of reserved 3 small dough pieces to 10-inch-long ropes. Braid ropes together. Tuck ends under and pinch together. Brush large braid with some of egg glaze. Place small braid atop center of large braid. Brush small braid with some of egg glaze. Let rise uncovered in warm area until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Brush loaf again with egg glaze. Bake until loaf is deep golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 45 minutes. Transfer loaf to rack and cool at least 45 minutes before slicing. (Can be prepared ahead. Cool completely. Wrap tightly in foil and freeze up to 2 weeks. Uncover and thaw at room temperature.)

Makes 1 loaf.

Other highlights of the Turkey day feast were the ginger candied carrots and butternut squash. MM MMM MMM. I cut baby carrots and butternut squash in to bite sized pieces and sauteed with butter, fresh orange juice, fresh ginger, and salt and pepper..the results were great!
That along with traditional whole cranberry sauce, a good zucchini bread and the spiced pumpkin soup that is elsewhere on this site made a great dinner. Others brought other dishes, so the feast was a sight to behold.
Til next time!

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

So, Greg made a cozy dinner tonight and we had Vicky over. She is always good when we want to sit around and giggle and laugh. After dinner I had an attack of the insatiable sweet tooth and wanted something really decadent......So, I adjusted a recipe for toffee bars, 1/2ed it and made the richest chocolate chip cookies I've ever made. Here is what transpired:

Riichest chocolate chip cookies

Start out melting 2 sticks of salted butter
combine with 1 cup of packed brown sugar
add one egg yolk and mix well
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
mix well
fold in 12 oz semi sweet or milk chocolate chips

(these are girl nuts)

I served them hot off the cookie sheet on plates with a scoop of ice cream and a dollop of some frozen chocolate glaze I had.

Vicky and I were discussing her book club and I thought to myself "self," I said " I'd like to start a dinner group...gourmet pot luck. Start a theme dinner and let the guests bring something to make a several course meal..better than any restaurant could...put effort into it. Carribean night, Moroccan food! Afgani cuisine...something different from the same ole grind up here. I don't know if this would would be set up like a book group in that you wouldn't nessesarily see most of the group outside of the dining room...would that work?

Its food for thought. If there is anyone in the Camden-Lincolnville-Northport-Belfast area that reads this missive and is interested in pursuing this idea, gimme a shout at


Wednesday, October 22, 2003

well, it snowed here today, so you can imagine what the temperature is. I found myself wandering the aisles of the grocery store yesterday trying to find the perfect comfort food for dinner...then it hit me "POT ROAST." I have never made it, haven't eaten it in years, since dear ole' mom used to shove it in the oven around noon and serve it up to us after school, while she and my dad had cocktail hour.

Anyway, pot roast happened to be on sale for about 2 bucks a pound..a real bonus. Got some fingerling potatos and some baby carrots and I was all set...a whole dinner in one pot..what could be easier.

It was so easy, in fact, that I invited some folks over to share.. we built a big fire and had a riot with the black meanies (our two XL dogs). I love low key evenings cooking for friends and eating on our laps in front of the fire. There are very few people in this world that are close enough to you to not mind eating on their laps...these are the people with whom you should surround yourselves. Listed below is the recipe I came up with for dinner. The great thing about pot roast is that you can throw anything in with it to simmer with it and it comes out pretty good all the time.


I used a cast iron stew pot and did the whole thing on the stove.

Got the pot really hot and added olive oil and butter mixture.
Rub and coat the roast with a mixture of flour, salt and pepper and brown each side of the roast in the oil and butter mixture.
Add onions and turn the heat down a bit..cover and cook about 10 minutes until the onions are cooked through and brownish
Add baby carrots and spices----I used hand-ripped fresh sage (doesn't that sound snobby???--its wonderful) and threw in a bundle of thyme. added some ground ginger and a few cloves of garlic, a 1/2 cup of spiced rum, a bit of white zinfindel (we had it left over from a party...gotta use it for something) and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Let the whole thing come to a boil and then turn to simmer. REMEMBER: Cook the roast with the fat side up.
The whole should cook for 4-5 hours on low on your stove.
after two hours turn the beast over
after three hours add some potatos.

When you take this out of the pot, it should have trouble staying together and should crumble when you cut it.
Let the roast sit for a few minutes out of the liquid before carving.

strain out veggies from pot and turn the heat up. rapidly whisk in a touch of corn starch to the juices to make gravy.

Serve with a side of the veggies and homemade rolled parmesan butter biscuits..... :-)

My friend Anne called up today and raved about the pot roast, saying it was so tender and the flavor was excellent. We talked food for about 20 minutes and it was great to get that input. While eating last night our friend Vicky said that the roast was just the perfect thing and that it made her think of her Mom....can't get much better than that. Food that evokes memories...kewl!

Tonight I'm having stew (I cheated and just shoved the leftovers in the pot with the gravy, added some water and am serving over rice with bread from Chase's Daily.) Greg is refusing to eat stew and is having leftover clam chowder....have I written that recipe down yet???? I know it by heart after making it for 3Tides everyday for a bout a month. I still get compliments from people about it Best chowder they've ever had...don't know what I did, but it makes me proud to have done it and never, ever, tasted it!


Friday, October 17, 2003

Lobster Pound, Lincolnville Maine

We finally went to the Lobster Pound for dinner last night, having never eaten there at all. I figured as one who is allergic to seafood, that they would typically offer bad landlubber fare to those of us who don't imbibe....this was true. Greg had deep fried haddock as usual which he said was really good, but not as good as the Irving Mainway. His dad had the baked stuffed haddock and his mom had the baked parents, like son I guess. Both parents gave the food a big thumbs up. I had the roast turkey with Gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce and it was good, but smothered in a tastless canned gravy. that made it a disappointment. The atmosphere was pretty pared down...florescent lighting did a lot for the mood of the place...two well placed spider plants were all we had for decor...but the gift shop was hoppin'!

Food B
Atmosphere D-

OOPS! Greg just informed me that he didn't want to hurt his parents's feelings about the dinner at the Lobster Pound and so he fibbed a bit. When I asked him a few days later if he REAAAAAAALLLYYY thought the fish and chips were as good as Irving, he said the Lobster Pound food was horrible! No taste, very greasy, etc. He also tried his father's and thought there was no taste at all in the food and that the stuffing was just a bunch of seafood mush. I have to revise the ratings and give the Lobster Pound a resounding D all around.


Can't believe I haven't been here since August! Anyway, I need to unload about the bad sitcom birthday party I threw this week. Greg's parents were here for a week and his mom's birthday was on the 14th. One of our clients kept asking to meet his parents, stop by for cocktails, I invited them to join in the festivities. I also asked a few other people...I love cooking for friends. Tuesday morning rolls around and the day starts off badly...shoulda just gone back to bed and ordered Thai food for dinner! The dogs were sick all day and had to be tended to....everyone except our clients and Greg's parents cancelled because they all have that flu thing that sticks around for weeks on end. So the dinner was going to be Greg's West Virginian parents and our doctor clients! Oh the conversation stoppers I was imagining all day long!
So I make the spiced pumpkin soup no problem (recipe below) and then move onto cake. Greg's mom said all she wanted was chocolate I gave it to her....a flourless chocolate cake that is so rich it makes your face sweat...I prepare the cake and let it is gorgeous coming out of the oven...looks like a huge soufle..raised about an inch above the pan....beautiful! I then let it sit so that it can fall and crack while I take the dogs out.....Get back 20 minutes later and find that the darn thing isn't cooked all the way through...back it goes in the oven for about 20 minutes longer than usual for some reason...take it out and let it sit again...turn it over and the cake just falls apart :-( I'm crushed. So, I guess its time to make that chocolate glaze to glue the darn thing back together works to some extent, but the beautiful cake I envisioned looks a bit lok a lopsided leaky tire.

We are getting ready for guests and have about 1/2 hour to go when Greg comes downstairs stark naked and says that something is wrong with the shower. Meanwhile I've noticed that the Doc and his wife have pulled up and are walking up the front steps while Greg is standing there in all his glory in full view. (They say they didn't see him streak through the house, but how could they not) Early party guests are hard to take, especially since I wasn't shoes on and no h'ors d'oeuvres available. So they come in and comment with dismay at the dining table saying (We're your only guests?) They ask for Vodkas and ice and I go into the kitchen only to find that we have enough of both for just two drinks! Ahhhhggghhhh. Greg is still primping upstairs. The doc goes to pet one of our large dogs and Sebastian growls at him (we have this reputation for our large black mean dogs who are sweet as can be as long as guest don't look at them!). Greg finally comes down and I pop off to the mobil station for cheap vodka and ice, forgetting of course to put the sausage in puff pastry in the oven . When I return, the appetizers go in and start to brown. No sign of the birthday girl yet (Greg's parents show up about 1/2 hour late) I get impatient with the sausage and put the broiler on to brown them....get the picture about what happens here? I can carbon date the tops of these tasty suckers when I remember about them 10 minutes later........Greg saves the day by cutting the tops off and making sausage cups sprinkled with cheese and tomato...great save!

meanwhile Greg's mom and dad show up the first thing she says to me is that she wished we'd told her to dress up! I can't believe how unorganized I am...The pork roast doesn't cook fast enough so by the time the soup is heated and eaten (delicious reviews all around) the pork is not even close to being cooked......While I'm frantically cutting the roast into strips and throwing it in the microwave to cook...Greg's diningroom chair breaks and he falls to the floor.......way to impress the guests!

The pork comes out of the microwave and some pieces are a bit dry, but the whole thing is tasteless because I made the mistake of experimenting with the cooking process by throwing them in the cast iron covered pot in the oven. While I'm trying to whip up an orange sweet and sour sauce to go over top of the pork, Greg's Mom yells in from the other room "Tom, Come sit down" Then I hear "Who's Tom?" Tom was Greg's previous partner (5 years ago) So I choose to ignore the whole thing, but hear Greg explaining who Tom is.

Needless to say...I spilled the beans over coffee and dessert that I felt like Jack Tripper in Three's Company when he tries to impress investors in a new restaurant idea and just blows the whole evening...everyone said that they didn't notice a thing!

Spiced Pumkin Soup
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup chopped carrot
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped ripe banana
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 cups canned pure pumpkin
3/4 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried sage leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon yellow curry powder

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add carrot and next 6 ingredients and sauté until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Transfer mixture to processor and blend until smooth. Return mixture to pot. Add broth and all remaining ingredients. Boil soup over medium-high heat 15 minutes to blend flavors. Cool slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate.)

Bring soup to simmer. Divide among 8 bowls. I add a dollop of plain yogurt for contrast

Makes 8 servings.

Savory Sausage Puffs

1/4 cup chopped onions
1 clove minced garlic or more
1 roll Jimmy Dean 50% lean ground sausage
fresh sage or thyme
pinch of ground red pepper
salt pepper to taste
sheet puff pastry

sautee onions and garlic in olive oil and add sausage and spices. cook until done and then let cool (pressed for time? Put pot in refrigerator while you prepare the pastry. )
Thaw one sheet of pastry and roll out on board until nice and thin. Cut into 2" squares and fill each with a spoonful of sausage, wrapping the corners over the top to seal. place seam side down on cookie sheets and bake until golden brown. Let sit for a few minutes to cool and serve.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Irving Mainway, Searsport

I never thought I'd be writing about the food served in a gas station on the side of route 1, but here goes......Greg had another craving for fish and chips after a long afternoon of installing and trimming out our new rear door to the house. I told him I'd treat him to his favorite dish down at the Hideaway, which happened to be closed...then we tried Anglers in Searsport, also, I suggested we could probably get fish and chips at the Irving Mainway described as a truck stop outside the big gas tanks in Searsport.
We were about the only ones there at 9pm on a Wednesday night..big suprise....Greg was adventurous and ordered the deep fried haddock and fries and I had a patty melt. The haddock was actually a fresh side of fish battered and deepfried on top of a heaping mound of the best crispy fries we'd had in a long time. Greg says that it was his best haddock experience yet. The patty melt was passible and I think you should stay away from the slaw.

Atmosphere: Mauve nautical
Food A-


Monday, August 18, 2003

Wow, July 21st was my last post here. We've been busy trying to get 3Tides, my friends's waterfront bar, open and up and running for the last few weeks. This is our first full week of being open and boy am I tired! David and Sarah asked me to help with the menu and help cook the food for the bar. We quickly realized that the place was more of a dining establishment than any of us realized it was going to be. Wednesday night there were people lined up down the stairs for a table on the deck and lobsters and steamers were flying out the door! We created some interesting, simple to prepare, dishes that could be served out of a very small space using warming ovens, etc. We want to be known for a few things such as the quality of our shellfish, our chowder, and of course, our cornbread muffins, which are a great accompanyment to every dish.........I feel sometimes like that Duncan Donuts commercial "Time to make the cornmuffins...the cornmuffins." I am also producing gallons of lemon-limabean hummus, black bean dip and salsa for our dip sampler platter. I came up with a spinach and onion frittatta for Sunday brunch and we hit upon a popular dish which is tomato, basil and mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and served with rounds of french bread. It looks amazing on the plate. We get our desserts from a local bakery and they are delicious....death by choc...lemon layer cake...and a frangiopan. I think 3Tides is going to be a hit......


Monday, July 21, 2003

Seng Thai, East Belfast, ME

House guests are at least good for one thing! We were taken out to dinner again by a different out of town guest. Since our guest room is full for a while, I think we'll probably eat well for a few weeks.

We'd been to Seng Thai a few years ago and didn't care to go back because Greg was not really impressed with his meal at that time. When I was down in Belfast yesterday thouh, some people were chatting about the place, so I thought we should go again.

We were pleasantly suprised this time. Our service was fast and attentive and we all had a glass of red wine faster than you can say "steamed dumplings, please."

I ordered the steamed dumplings which were really good. The black sauce was really tasty. Greg ordered the Crab balls, which were actually "krab" and not very good. Since we live on the coast of Maine, there is no excuse for using frozen crab substitute.

The menu told us to order our meals by means of a star grading for spicyness...1 star for least spicy and 5 for most. I ordered chicken cashew with a three star spice and my mouth was on was sinuses never felt better! Greg had the special of the evening, shrimp and chicken in a spicy asparagus sauce. He asked for 2 stars and said it was more like 5 stars..delicious, but it made his eyes water!

Our guest had a duck dish called "duck chow chee." The duck was plump and succulent and very nice.

We like the shabby chic interior. My favorite was the map of Thailand made entirely of pennies that confronts you at the front door. This place certainly gets the thumbs up from me. The price is right was about $20 a person.
Atmosphere......the penny art definitely makes this an A
Price...A for affordable.


Friday, July 18, 2003

Atlantica, Camden, ME

Last night we had an out of town friend treat us to dinner as payback for inviting her to Easter dinner! Though it was unnessesary, we never turn down a good free meal!!! Atlantica is one of the harborside restaurants on Bayview Street in Camden...the atmosphere of having boats and schooners float by while we sip our cocktails just cannot be beat. Right away, I give the place an A for location!

We started out with a couple of bottles of Austrailian Shiraz which was just lovely. The wine list is extensive and varies widely with affordable bottles as well as $125 bottles. Our server was very adept at getting the wine around the smallish table and keeping our glasses filled.

Three of us had the Atlantica salad, which was a bed of greens with walnuts, manderin oranges, blueberries, warm goat cheese, and a nice subtle dressing that did not overwhelm the salad. At $6.00 it was probably the best value on the menu. Greg had crab cakes (which turned out to be a single crab cake) He said it was wonderful, but later told me that it certainly wasn't worth getting again.

The chef appears to be a minimalist with a penchant for using his frothing machine....there were interesting sounding dishes that were served with some sort of foam on the side. Our dinner host ordered the salmon fillet with a side of Wasabi foam (wasabi whipped with cream) I think there was also a soy foam on something as well. For dinner there is not much choice for someone who doesn't eat seafood. I had the fillet of beef with carmelized onions and a bernaise butter. The dish arrived with a squirt of mashed potatos and three green beans. The dish was $23.00 and for that I think at least 10 beans should have been placed on the plate! The food was good, but the brown and orange sauces that were swirled together on the plate were pretty tasteless. Our friend Vicky had the Haddock which she said was mouthwatering and Greg had the scallops which he also said was wonderful, if a bit minimalist for the price.

We were lulled into ordering dessert by the dessert tray that kept passing by. My lemon layer cake was totally sublime and just delicious. I need to figure out how to make something with such a light lemon flavor! Vicky had lemon curd with fresh berries which was also wonderful, though I like my lemon curd better (this dessert gives me ideas for my next party though) Greg had a macademia nut torte that he loved and I thought was ok.

I would certainly recommend this wonderful restaurant, just ask for a few more beans with your dinner though.
Atmosphere A
Food A
Wine A


Sunday, July 13, 2003

Broadway Deli, Belfast, ME

Yesterday was wicked busy in Belfast with all sorts of art festivals and food booths set up. I went to help my friends David and Sarah at their lobster pound. We sold out of about 45 lbs of lobster in 40 minutes and cooked some for people to eat at our picnic tables. We had a load of people lined out the door for lobster when one of the lobstermen came into the dock with over 30 lbs of fresh catch for us to sell, including one that wieghed in at over 3lbs! (which we sold and cooked for a woman and her mother, who required our metal mallet to break the hard shell exterior!!! We also had a rare and elusive blue lobster! Anyway. Sarah and I don't eat lobster, so we had a break for lunch around 2:30 and I went to a new place in Belfast, the Broadway Deli on Main Street.

Great location, very nice atmosphere with show tunes (my favorite) and Broadway play posters. I thought the menu, which is designed to mimic a Broadway Playbill was very clever. The tables are small and look uncomfortable and the selection is not as extensive as one would want it to be.

When this place was being built out, I thought "great" they'll have a great selection of sandwiches and salads and other things. Well, since they only use Boar's Head products, there are really limited choices as to what to have. There are not Vegatarian subs (which is what Sarah wanted) and no salads, except pre packed potato and macaroni salads. :-( My sandwich was average. A lot of meat, but with only a measley single slice of cheese and a wilted looking tomato. Sarah ended up with a Turkey Club, which she said was pretty tasteless and not something she would order again.

We had a deli bar for dessert which appeared to be a butter crust with chocolate on top and then sprinkled with a crumb topping. The chocolate was mostly whipped egg and was really not what I was hoping for.
Atmosphere is a B+
Food is a C


Friday, July 11, 2003

See additions to Darby's review below

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Angler's Diner, Searsport, ME

Tonight we were craving diner food again, but wanted something different, so we took off for Searsport to the Angler's Diner. I have always wanted to try this looks good, as evidenced by so many cars in the parking lot at all hours. Its a bit of a dive to look at, but that's what we like to call Chaaaam up here!

We were sent there by someone who said they had the best fried clams on the midcoast, and they were right. The portion was extremely large and very very fresh. We ordered Ceasar salads of course..(I am still on a quest for the most perfect ceasar salad in Maine and these were very good) the salads had a real ceasar dressing on top, not steeped in creamy dressing base as most ceasars are..this one had lots of fresh lemon and a dash of garlic. The cheese could've been more plentiful as could the dressing portion as the salads were HUGE, much bigger than anticipated. I ordered chicken and it was fresh and juicy, just perfect. Lots of happy smiles all around and very friendly, but busy wait staff. A full bar compliments the menu and fresh and fried seafood are the way to go here. The Angler's platter had loads of seafood including shrimp, but not clams for a very reasonable $15.00. We were stuffed enough to wave off their desserts, so we'll be going back.

From here, we had to catch the late showing of Charlies Angels in Belfast, a totally fluff movie, but we're there for the entertainment value anyway.
Food A
Atmosphere A



Saturday, June 21, 2003

Chocolate Grille, Searsport, ME

I went to the Chocolate Grille with David and Eric last night after attending the premiere of Trap, a 15 minute short film written, directed, produced and performed by a Belfast woman. David said that the Chocolate Grille was his newest place to hang out because it had a good bar and was different, though very cookie response was "It sounds like a swank Denny's with a bar." and thats what it was.
I must say, I was impressed by the interior.....the restaurant actually has a very nice interior of sponged walls with black and white banquettes and tables and a very nice bar where we sat to eat. The bartender was great, big drinks that tasted good. We ordered off the bar menu and David had the crabcake special appetizer which was bready and not too terrific. I had the spinach and artichoke dip with crackers and veggies...The dish had some kind of bacon flavoring, which was terrible. It was also served in a bread bowl, which is a total waste of time and bread. The crackers were stale. We asked the bartender about the dish and if it was supposed to have bacon and he said no and took it off our bill without question. Ceasar salads came next which were basic, but very good. Eric tried encrusted salmon fillets which he said were moist, but he didn't like the crust. No dessert for us. I give the place a B+ for atmosphere and a C+ for food.



Thursday, May 15, 2003

LB, Belfast Maine

Its that time of year again here in Maine...Our first house guests of the season showed up a few days ago wantin' lobstah. Now, most visitors to Maine love soft shell lobstah because thats what they are taught to like...the shell is easy to break and the meat just slides right out. Dunk it in butter and you have a meal. Well, its still May here and hard shell lobstahs are just beginning to trickle in. these babies are packed with meat and taste entirely different than soft shell lobsters. I called my friends at "Lb" in Belfast and was greeted with a relieving "just got a load in fresh this many do you want? Are we cooking them for you or are you picking them up uncooked?" Lb, which is a play on pound, the measure by which lobsters are priced, is located on Marshall's Warf down by the tug boats in Belfast Harbor. Its owned and run by Sarah and David Carlson, two hard working admirable souls who have become very, very dear friends of ours in the last two years. Our dog, who does not play well with other dogs at all, loves David and Sarah almost as much as she loves Shadow, the Carlson's happy black lab.

Lb not only offers lobster by the pound, but David and Sarah will cook your lobsters for you and have them ready for you to pick up, or you can eat them on site, overlooking beautiful Belfast Harbor, at picnic tables. Come at the right time and you will see the lobstermen unloading the day's catch at the dock.

The Carlson's have come up with a very unique offering as well, a traditional Maine clam bake for larger parties looking for something different to do for the evening. Sarah also makes the best lobstah roll in town, thanks to her secret grilled and buttered roll.

Getting back to the matter at hand, Lobstah, I went to pick up the beasts and David pulled three beautiful hardshell 1.5 pounders out of the tank for me after asking the what, whos, wheres, and hows of our evening meal. Be ready to get grilled with questions as to how you are serving your meal, what else you are serving the meal with, and who is eating the beasts. Both David and Sarah want all their customers to be happy, so they ask questions and essentially custom tailor the lobster sizes to the meal. They told us that the lobsters were super hard shell and packed with meat. They told us exactly how to steam them (please, one never boils one's lobster), and exactly how much time the lobsters should be in the steam for hard shell (18 minutes). Our guests raved about the lobster so much, that I heard about it all the next day in the car. They had never had such lobsters, what a rare treat, etc..etc.. To top it off, David gave us some fresh mussels to try and said that he would have oysters soon.

We'll be back for that! There is not another place to get as good lobsters or as good, friendly service in the mid-coast. A solid A for effort, friendliness, and overall good food.

Watch for the opening of David and Sarah's new Tapas Bar, Three Tides, directly behind their lobstah Lb.


Sunday, May 04, 2003

The Hideaway Diner, Northport Maine

Greg and I went for a quick dinner at the Hideaway...This log cabin diner in Northport is one of the only local restaurants that is open all year. We often go for breakfast, and let me tell you, they have wonderful eggs on a biscuit. But this review is for dinner.......We were one of four tables, and the only people "from away". If you are not from Maine and move here when you are 6 months old and live here all your life, you are still considered "from away." Though my friend Sarah2 (see Darby's review below) said that if we lived through the cold all last winter and survived to complain about it, we were that much closer to being less "from away" than we were last spring.

Greg was dying for fish and chips and I reaaaaallly wanted chicken tenders for dinner...don't ask us why, we are growing boys! Our server was so very helpful and attentive...full of smiles and little was great. She brought the food pretty quickly (mmm peas tooo) and it was delicious. I have to give the Hideaway at least three stars for diner food, especially at dinner time. Times are tough and so we have to watch how much we spend. That said, there are times we are just itchin' to get out of the house and the Hideaway is a great, inexpensive alternative. Filling dinner complete with peas came to about 16 bucks...can't beat that with a stick.
We didn't try the pie this trip, but I know it is reaaally good.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Darby's Restaurant, Belfast Maine

Last Night six of us went to Darby's Restaurant after seeing The Hours at the local theater. Needless to say, we all needed martinis to digest what we had just watched on the screen! Darby's is Belfast's only restaurant with a welcoming, casual pub-type atmosphere. It’s a restaurant about which you don't have to think about going you can just stop in for a burger and a beer. We all ordered drinks, 3 Cosmopolitans, 1 Manhattan, 1 vodka and 1 glass of wine. Strike one:We waited a bit for the drinks, but during the wait, we ordered and chatted about the movie. David got a bit restless about the drinks service because it took so long. We've all started to look at eateries with a critical eye since I started this site and since David and his wife, Sarah, are about to open a Tapas eatery/ bar in Belfast called Three Tides. Three Tides will be a wonderful place to eat outside on the deck overlooking the harbor. I have tremendous respect for David and Sarah and our friend Ben, all of whom are building this bar from the ground up, by themselves. It's been a long road to hoe, but the place will be ready for the summer rush.

While we were waiting for the drinks, we decided pretty fast what to order. For me: Chicken chili with cashews sounded perfect. At $6.95 for a bowl, it was fairly attractive. Greg had his usual fish and chips…he can't get enough of the fried stuff! David and Ben ordered picky-toe crab rolls. Another friend at the table whom I've labeled Sarah2 so as not to confuse her with Sarah1, David's wife, didn't eat as she had way too much popcorn during the movie. Sarah1 ordered Asparagus and cheddar soup.

Strike two: The server put a basket of warm white rolls on the table and we dove right in. There was no butter to go along. All hell seemed to break loose as we went nuts over the restaurant's failure to supply this simple fare. When we finally got butter, the rolls were cold, but not as cold as the butter, which was frozen in little individually sealed packets. Bad form.

The food arrived quite quickly, but so did Strike Three. My chili arrived and looked anemic. It had shredded chicken, lots of water, and some crumbled blanched cashews on top as a garnish. It wasn't the thick rich chili with spicy ground chicken and plump whole roasted cashews that I was expecting. The kicker came when I dove in to find that the chili was tepid at best. Yuck!

Greg was halfway through his fish and chips before he gave two thumbs up. Between bites he said it was tender and flaky, but the fries were a bit squishy. Both David and Ben concurred that their picky-toe crab rolls had far too much mayo and not enough crab. Sarah1 like the flavor of her soup, but alas it was also tepid. I personally liked the fries, a bit of spice to them and hand-cut to boot.

When the server cleared our plates, she never once asked why I hadn't eaten the chili….what can I say, it was late…..I'm giving Darby's a solid C for this visit. I'm sure we'll be back.

As I said before Darby's is an easy place to eat, and there were pleas at the table to give the place another try because Ben and Sarah2 had been there the night before and eaten at the bar and had a lovely time. They actually raved about the chili when I ordered it, saying it was their favorite thing on the menu. I must admit that Greg and I have eaten at the bar before and had a wonderful time as well. There is not much to mess up with a Caesar salad and burger though.

What I am saying is…. try it, but don't blame me if your soup is cold…I warned you.



Darby's Revisited 5/19/03

Went back to Darby's last night with my sister for a quick bite. I went for the safe cheeseburger and fries and she had the Ceasar salad with chicken. Service was good and attentive, so as soon as we sat down, we had a drink order in. The burger was delicious but the fries were limp and cold...too bad. My sister ate about 1/2 of her ceasar because she was hungry. She said it was really salty and there was too much dressing. From what I saw, the dressing wasn't a ceasar style, but more like oil and vinegar and the raw onions on top were not a welcome addition.

We poured over the menu to try and find something to eat and decided that most dishes just missed the mark..meaning that some sounded good until we read the descriptions where there was always some wierd ingredient that didn't sound good. The menu ranges from burgers to Pad Thai to pinky toe crabmeat Quesadillas with brie cheese...its a bit all over the place.

Darby's will have to reinvent itself this summer to be competitive as there are now two more restaurants opening up in town.

Darby's Yet Again The other night, Greg and I met our friend Vicky at Darby's before going to the movies. I know enough now to stay away from certain things. The drinks were good as was the service. We ordered a Cobb salad, a Fiesta salad with black beans instead of Chicken chili with cashews (see above) and a burger with chedder and fries. All in all the meal was just fine. Actually the burger was very good and the Fiesta salad was a nice change of pace. Just remember that Darby's is a pub and the less inventive foods are the better choices. By the way, we saw Leagally Blonde, which was realllllllllllly silly...but thats life in a small town!

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Sizzling Cornbread

Greg loves this recipe so much that I find myself making this at least once a week. It's very easy to remember and I just start throwing things into a bowl and volia! You can add anything you like to this version: course ground pepper, sundried tomatoes, jalapenos, whatever.

Preheat oven to 350 and put a small or medium cast iron skillet to warm in the oven.

Medium bowl:
I cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1 stick butter
1/3 cup olive oil
1 egg slightly beaten

Add everything to a bowl in order above and stir.
Take skillet out of oven and grease with generous amounts of olive oil. Put back in oven to warm. When ready take back out and scape in mixture. Let cook for about 20 minutes, or until it appears firm on top and just very slightly brown. Turn up heat to broil and just crisp top to your liking...Greg loves his cornbread crispy on the outside and moist on the inside and I've fooled around and found that this is the best way to get the bread exactly right.

Pop out of pan and smear with lots of butter or a big glass of cold milk!


Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Ingrahams on Richard's Hill, Rockport, Maine
Ingrahams website

We went here for our anti-valentine's day dinner. That is, we went on the 13th and had almost the whole restaurant to ourselves. We have a problem with a lot of the restaurants in the mid-coast because they either have nice enough food and no atmosphere or, they have GREAT atmosphere and terrible food. Ingraham's has pretty good atmosphere and really nice food. They throw in a wandering minstral from Thursday through Sunday for your listening enjoyment. We had the great pleasure of listening to John Boswell strum his guitar as he roamed through the dining rooms singing like a pro.

Do take my advice and book a reservation in the "library" (quotation marks are used here because the room actually looks like that spare room in your basement where you construct floor to ceiling bookcases out of unfinished pine just so you have someplace to put your collection of trashy romance novels) As I say, we like atmosphere and this quirky room where the bar is located is pretty cool. The rest of rooms in this old farmhouse have been transformed into smallish dining areas that aren't as charming.

We had a great sampling from the menu. As I can't eat seafood, I'll have to take Greg's word for how good his food was. His appetite was as big as his popeye arms and so he ordered the French onion soup, crab cakes, and Oysters on the 1/2 shell. I ordered the sweet potato pancake and the roasted vegetables in phylo served with pasta with herbed oil.

The onion soup was good, but we decided we could do it better (a key element when trashing a restaurant's menu). The soup was actually perfect, but the bread on top was only toasted on one side and therefore got soggy sitting in the soup and there was no enough cheese dribbling down the side. The crab cakes were sublime, delectable, and mmm mmm good. The oysters, so I'm told, were extremely fresh and, this I know, served beautifully.

My dinner was a mixed review. I had the sweet potato pancakes which still give me wonderful dreams about the taste! The brandied apple cider sauce was a treat and was drizzled perfectly on the plate. It was certainly one of the best treats I've had to eat on the mid-coast and reminded me of the food at Cornelia's, one of our favorite restaurants in Chicago before they changed the menu. I should never have ordered the roasted veggies in phylo, but I was in a vegetable mood that night. Everything about it was kind of soggy, from the overdone vegetables to the "puddle" (the descriptive term on the menu) of marinara sauce. A bad choice on my part. Next time I'll be savvier. There will be a next time, so we liked this restaurant and thought it kind of romantic. The bartender was friendly and made sure that our flagons were full all night long.

I give Ingrahams a B to B+

After Ingraham's, we went to my favorite place for atmosphere on the coast, The Whale's Tooth Pub in Lincolnville for dessert as its on our way home and not too far from the house. We should have waited and gotten icecream from the Mobil station instead! I'm always disappointed with the food at the Whale's Tooth and will review it soon......

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Lima bean and pea hummus

This sound terrible when emboldened, but I have never gotten anything but muffled kudos from full mouths when serving this. Greg and I personally adore lima beans...we eat them a lot with garlic and butter. I came across a recipe for lima bean hummus quite by accident and decided to try it. I've served it several times and through trial and error have made it my own.

Start with a bag of frozen baby limas and a half bag of frozen peas, an onion, garlic, olive oil, stock, ground red pepper, cilantro, and fresh parsley if you have it.

dice the onion and the garlic and saute in olive oil.
add ground red pepper (just a pinch)
salt and pepper to taste
and then throw in the beans and peas and saute, stirring frequently
when somewhat tender, add a bit of chicken or veggie stock, just to moisten bottom of will start to smell heavenly right about now!
keep stirring and add dried or fresh cilantro (I'm sure that basil would be nice in the summer)
when very tender, take off heat and add chopped parsley
drizzle more olive oil into mixture and either mash with potato masher to make a chunky dip or
transfer to blender or food processor to whip into more of a hummus dip, adding olive oil as nessesary.

Serve either warm or chill in fridge for at least two hours before serving with baby carrots, pita crisps, or blue corn chips.


Friday, March 28, 2003

Big G's, Winslow, Maine

This is perhaps one of the best sandwich places I have been to. This was a staple when I was in college, and the place has grown and moved three times in ten years. The atmosphere lacks something, but the food more than makes up for it. The sandwich board takes a good 15 minutes to read through if you are not familiar with the place. I have my usual favorites, the Miles Standwich which is essentially Thanksgiving dinner on bread, complete with cranberry relish, gravy, stuffing, etc or I have the Mad Max, hot spiced roast beef with melted cheese, lettuce, tomato on choice of bread.

Here is a piece of advice...if you are a first timer, order 1/2 a sandwich! really.....unless you are REALLY hungry, only order a half. Big G's makes its own bread (rye, wheat, white, pumpernickle) and the slices are probably 8 inches square.

The chicken finger basket is huge and the fries are great too....

All of this for an affordable price. I give Big G's a hearty A.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

The first review...Ocean's Edge, East Belfast, Maine

As I said, these post are going to cover a variety of restaurants all over the place in our state. The first is a special review because I'm going to begin with the restaurant where the idea for this blogging site occured, The Ocean's Edge Restaurant in East Belfast, ME. What attracted me to this restaurant was the really nice signage on Rte1. Needless to say, I should have come to my senses when Greg questioned, "we're going to the Comfort Inn for dinner?" I thought I'd give the place the benefit of the doubt.....I should've walked away. The restaurant and the Inn are built right on the water, so I can see the attraction to the locale in the summer....Well, its still 30 degrees here at the end of March, so they couldn't have the French doors open to the Bay during out dining experience. The restaurant is what you'd expect from a Comfort Inn, a lot of mauve and straw baskets. The decor filled me with dread even before our meals came.

We ordered the deep fried mushrooms to start and they came with our drinks. I was pleasantly suprised at the generous pour from the bartender and later, the price ($5) for a mixed drink. The mushrooms were plentiful, but passable...a bit on the bland side. I then ordered what sounded good on the appetizer menu, but what turned out to be bloody awful...the pan fried tortolini rolled in spices with a marinara dipping sauce. Spices turned out to be massive amounts of paprika which dried out the pasta, or maybe it was the microwave reheating that did it???? David told me to send them back and I'm glad I didn't. (scroll down, gentle reader, to find out why)

With the arrival of dinner came groans after the server left. My Delmonico cut pepper steak smothered with sauteed red peppers was one of the worst cuts of meat I have ever seen and at $16.95, I decided to call the server over and show her the gristle cut that I received. She pleasantly took it back and asked what else they could serve me. I asked for a plain grilled chicken breast without the Jack Daniels sauce. It was very juicy, but a bit overpriced for $10.95! David ordered beef tips in the JD dipping sauce and I thought they were pretty bad looking, though he liked them. Greg has scallops that he told me later were some of the worst he's had.

We decided against dessert, had a few more drinks and hightailed it out of there.

Might be a great place for lunch in the summer, the view on the deck with a sandwich and a cold one...don't think you could go wrong there. Until next time....I give this place a solid C. By the way, for the three of us, the bill was $95.00 for bad food.

Butternut Squash Soup
I have a beautiful butternut squah soup simmering on the back of the stove. The recipe is sooo easy that I just chop and drop into the pot without really measuring. Great soup for grayish/coldish/wettish/foggyish type days. There is a good skeleton to this soup that you can really use as a jumping off point when you get comfortable with it. I did a bit of experimenting today and I like what I ended up with.

I get a hankerin' to make this soup about every two weeks. I adore the deep orange color of the liquid because its so cozy. I am dying to paint my living room walls the same color.

Start with a large stock pot and some garlic infused olive oil.
Heat up the oil and throw in about 1/2 a large yellow onion, a few cloves of garlic, and one large leek.
Fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste.

Here's where I experimented: To the sizzling onions I added a few pinches of Madras curry and a dash of cayanne...just trust me Also threw in some sliced red peppers and baby carrots.end experimentation

A package of pre-peeled and cubed butternut squash comes next...I still feel the need to chop up the squash a bit more before dropping.
Next add two or three small hard apples. I like pink ladies or gala personally because they are hard, sweet and taste nice (read the posts during apple pie season, they'll make your mouth water). Core the apples, chop and drop into pot, skins and all (oh so healthy).
Add to this, some ground or fresh ginger.
Let everything sizzle and soften at a medium temp., turning mixture frequently. It smells gorgeous.

Today I added a bit of white wine at this point. It was open and on the bar and I wanted to feel like a chef today (try it and see what I mean. Use just enough white wine to get the bottom of the pot wet.

Now comes the stock, either veggie or chicken, homemade or canned (I'll won't tell if you won't) approximately 2 to 2.5 cups, or enough to almost cover the veggies in the pot. Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer, and let the vegetables get almost smushy.

Take off heat and let cool.

Transfer with ladle (I just got a long handled metal one and it makes me feel very important) to a blender in two batches. Puree the first batch until smooth and pu in clean bowl. Repete with second batch and transfer back to recently rinsed out stock pot...add the first batch and stir. keep on low and let the flavors meld. Just before serving, swirl in a pinch of crumbled romano cheese. (totally optional for all of you lactose intolerant souls.)

Today, I'm making fresh hot cornbread with this (not enough energy to write that experience today)

I've also served this topped with crumbled fried sage or a dollop cider infused sour cream.



First post, already lost one version of this one, hope this comes out.

Welcome. This weblog came about at dinner last week with foodie friends David and Sarah. We like to get together and experiment with all types of places to eat from crab shacks to diners, to reservation-type places to other people's houses). Our friends are opening a bar/place to eat to complement their already thriving lobster pound enterprise where they sell live or cooked lobsters to locals and tourists alike. Because of this, we are often invited to conduct "bar research" with them. As we were picking through the food we ordered, David came up with bright idea of starting a restaurant review webpage for our fair state ( a two hour drive to try a restaurant is not uncommon here, so I feel that eventually, I'll cover the whole state. I've been thinking about it ever since and decided to write down some of my thoughts on the food we encounter along the way. I'm also going to throw in my musings about what is simmering on my stove on any given day. You'll get my inspirations, and my experiments, both successful and failed. I usually start with recipes I get from or one of my cookbooks or from something I particularly liked when eating out that I try to copy (usually to a great failure the first two or four times).