Lemon Tarragon Lobster Pasta Salad

lemon tarragon lobster pasta
Lemon Tarragon Lobster Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1/2 Pound Bow Tie Pasta

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Pint Grape or Cherry Tomatoes

1 1/2 Pounds Lobster Meat, fully cooked

1/2 Cup Fresh Tarragon, roughly chopped

1 Shallot, minced

1/2 Cup Diced Celery

1/2 Lemon, juiced

1/4 Cup Olive Oil

Salt and pepper to taste

tarragon
Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan on high. When pan is hot, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and tomatoes.


Cook tomatoes on medium high heat for 2-4 minutes, mashing half with a potato masher or spoon to release juices. When pasta is finished cooking, drain water and toss with tomatoes immediately. Cool to room temperature.


While the pasta is cooling, cut the lobster meat into bite size chunks, chop the tarragon, mince the shallot, dice the celery and juice the lemon.


Combine pasta and tomatoes with lobster, tarragon, shallot, celery and lemon juice in a large bowl.


Add olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Taste after a few minutes and adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer to a serving bowl or platter and enjoy!

lobster pasta salad

Advertisements

Moxie Falls

Moxie Falls


I woke up yesterday to the sun shining through my window, a gentle breeze blowing and the smell of coffee coming from the kitchen. As the family talked over a breakfast of eggs and toast, my wife suggested that it would be a perfect day for a hike. She had found a spot that she was excited to share with me, a place I had heard of, but not yet been to: Moxie Falls.


We packed up the van and drove down a long, unpaved road just outside of Greenville, Maine. It was slow going but we had the beautiful scenery to keep us entertained. After what seemed like quite a long drive into the middle of the North Woods, a paved road and a small town appeared suddenly. We had arrived at Lake Moxie.


It might seem strange to find a quaint little town out in the middle of the woods. It is almost like something out of a fairy tale or fantasy novel. One look at Lake Moxie is all it takes to understand what draws people to this remote location. It is a beautiful view, teeming with life and all of nature’s majesty.

Lake Moxie


As we headed further up the road, we dreamed about what our life would be like if we packed up our home in Florida and moved to a remote location like Lake Moxie. The thought of a long cold winter in such a remote location quickly snapped us back to reality. Before we knew it, we had reached the trail head and the beginning of our hike to Moxie Falls.


It was less like a hike, it turned out, and more like a delightful stroll on a well maintained path through a beautiful forest. My son quickly ran and leaped from rock to tree and back again, making laps around us with childish abandon.


About halfway down the mile long trail, he found an uprooted tree that he immediately declared his cave/castle and it was some time before we were able to uproot him and continue down the path.


We hadn’t gone too much farther when we encountered a sign marking the entrance to the falls and a series of steps leading down toward the sound of rushing water.


The first area we discovered was a large pool at the top of the waterfall where we could hop across rocks and swim in the water. It would have been a delightful place to have a picnic if we weren’t so excited about exploring the beauty of this natural wonder.


As we explored further, we noticed that there is a series of small falls before the main waterfall. Everywhere we looked, there was some small wonder or great beauty to discover.


Moxie Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in all of New England. It drops an impressive 90 feet into a pool that is about 17 feet deep. It is a beautiful and majestic sight to behold.


One of the highlights of the hike for both my son and I was the impressive rock formations found in and around the pools of cool, flowing water. We all enjoyed climbing them and appreciated their unique natural beauty.


After a snack of apples and another splash in the water, we took one last look at the falls and decided to head back toward the van.


On our way back up the path, my wife pointed out a small trail heading off in the opposite direction. It seemed that none of us were actually ready to leave just yet, so we set off down the trail not knowing where it might lead.


It wasn’t long before we found out. The trail led us upstream to another series of small falls.


It seems none of us ever tires of walking through the woods, swimming in the water or climbing on the rocks. Even after a full day of doing nothing else we were delighted to spend another hour swimming and exploring.




We all headed back up the trail in good spirits. It had been a beautiful day filled with fun and surprises. When we returned to the trail head, we piled into the van and said goodbye to Moxie Falls as we headed east toward The Forks. This drive was much shorter on a paved road.


As we turned north and drove along the Kennebec River toward Jackman, we all felt refreshed. It was as if the waterfall had washed away all our troubles and the worries of everyday life.

Near Jackman, we stopped at a scenic overlook to enjoy the impressive view north to the Canadian border. My wife and I reflected on our day together and the summer that was so quickly coming to a close. It was only August but we could already feel the autumn chill in the evening air.

Dinner for two: Seared Duck Breast with Truffled Polenta, Maple Glazed Carrots and Cabernet-Red Currant Reduction


When my clients asked me to shop in Montreal to make them dinner, I jumped at the chance. The produce at the markets is so beautiful and fresh and the selection of items seems to go on forever.

I had a wonderful time perusing the Jean-Talon Market and when I saw the duck breasts and tasted the red currants, I knew what I wanted to do. Seared duck breast with a red currant sauce and rainbow carrots with soft polenta. We rushed back to Maine and I got to work right away. The results were fantastic! Succulent duck with a crispy skin, fragrant polenta and sweet baby carrots all paired beautifully with the spice and acidity of the bold red currant-Cabernet sauce.


The following recipes will show you how to replicate this dish at home. When you break the dish down into individual components, you might be surprised at how simple it is to execute. The polenta and carrots can be prepared up to a few hours ahead of time, allowing you to focus on the duck and the sauce. When everything is ready, you simply heat, plate and serve!

Maple Glazed Baby Carrots

Ingredients:

8-10 Baby Carrots

1 Tbsp Butter

1 Tbsp Brown Sugar

2 Tbsp Maple Syrup

Coarse Salt to taste


Directions:

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Peel carrots and trim green stems very short. Boil carrots for 10 minutes or until a knife pierces them with little resistance.


Collect carrots in strainer, remove from water and cool to room temperature. Place in a cold sauté pan with butter, brown sugar and maple syrup until ready to serve.


When ready to serve, simmer over medium-low heat until butter melts and sauce thickens into a glaze, 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle with coarse salt just before serving.

Truffled Polenta


Ingredients:

1 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock

1 1/2 Cups Milk

1/2 Cup Yellow Corn Meal

2 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Parsley

1 Tbsp Butter

1 Tbsp White Truffle Oil

Directions:

Combine chicken stock and milk in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add polenta, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit at room temperature until ready to serve.


When ready to serve, add remaining ingredients and heat on medium low while stirring. You may need to add additional liquid to thin if it becomes too thick. You can use chicken stock, milk or water. Polenta should be the consistency of porridge. Taste and season with salt if necessary.

Pan Seared Duck Breast with Cabernet-Red Currant Reduction


Ingredients:

1-2 Duck Breasts, depending on size and appetite

1-2 Shallots, Chopped or Sliced

1/2 Cup Cabernet Sauvignon

1 Small Bunch Fresh Thyme

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2.5-3 Ounces Red Currants (if you are unable to find fresh currants, you may substitute your favorite fruit or berry (blackberries, cherries or plums would be nice)

4 Tbsp Cold Butter, cut into pieces

Directions:


Heat a pan on the stove over medium heat and preheat the oven to 350 F. Using a very sharp knife, cut through the skin of the duck, first one way, then the other to make a diamond pattern. Be careful not to cut into the flesh.


Season liberally with coarse salt and place skin side down in the heated pan. As the duck cooks, the fat under the skin will render into the pan, eliminating the need for oil and making the skin crispy. Cook gently over medium heat for 5-7 minutes undisturbed until skin is golden brown and releases from the pan easily.


Turn heat up to medium-high, flip over the breast and sear the other side, about 3-5 minutes. Turn heat off and place the duck breast on a wire rack on a baking sheet. Cook in oven 2-3 minutes for medium rare, 5 minutes for medium. If you prefer your duck rare, just place it on the rack to rest. When duck is finished cooking, allow it to rest on the rack at least 5 minutes while you prepare the sauce.


While the duck is resting, turn the heat back on your pan, pour off any excess fat and add all remaining ingredients except the butter to the pan. Bring to a boil, lower heat and reduce, mashing up currants to help them release their juices, until almost all the liquid has evaporated.


Turn off heat and add the cold butter. Stir the melting butter into the sauce and as soon as butter is completely melted, pour through a strainer into a room temperature container. Place finished sauce in a warm, but not hot part of the kitchen until ready to serve.


After the duck has rested, place it on a cutting board, skin side down and slice with a sharp knife.


Place polenta, carrots and sliced duck on a warm plate and pour sauce around. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Montreal Highlight Reel

I have been fortunate enough to spend the last week on vacation with my family in Montreal, Quebec. It has been a wonderful week in a beautiful city. Here are some of the highlights.


We started at the Expo Center. The view from the top of the lift was incredible. We could see the entire city!


The Biodome was excellent, especially with kids. Four distinct habitats are on display with many different species in each. Everybody enjoyed this unique experience.


The whole family enjoyed seeing some old friends as well as making some new ones!


The view and the brew was superb at La Terrase St-Ambroise.


I got a lesson in making crepes that I will always remember. The best recipes come with memories of family and friends!



St-Viateur is one of the best bagel shops in North America. We were lucky enough to rent an apartment directly above this iconic cafe.


Best breakfast in Montreal!


The Marche Jean-Talon has been in operation since 1933 and is one of the largest public markets in North America. The fresh produce is incredible and they are open all year.




After a long day of touring the city, we looked forward to returning to our apartment and having a relaxing evening.



There was plenty to see and do walking around our neighborhood in Mont Royal. There were shops and restaurants and art everywhere we went. We all wanted to stay here forever!




We will all miss Montreal and the wonderful friends we have made here. I can’t wait until next year so we can visit again!

Salted Caramel Creme Brulee

creme brulee
Salted caramel and creme brulee are two of my absolute favorite things. They come together in this recipe to make one spectacular dessert.

Salted Caramel Creme Brulee

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter

3/4 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar

1 3/4 Cups Heavy Cream

3/4 Cup Whole Milk

1/2 tsp Kosher Salt

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

6 Large Egg Yolks

Hot Water

Sugar

Directions:

Melt butter in a pot over medium heat. Add brown sugar and stir constantly until you smell a nutty aroma, about 5 minutes.


Add heavy cream gradually while whisking and bring to a simmer. Add milk and kosher salt and return to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes and then remove from heat and add vanilla extract.


Place egg yolks in a bowl and whisk vigorously. Slowly add cream mixture while whisking to temper the eggs into the warm cream. Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher and set aside.


Preheat oven to 325 F. In a roasting pan, arrange six 6 ounce ramekins and fill with custard mixture. Carefully place pan in the oven and fill with hot water until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.


Close oven door and bake 40-45 minutes or until custard is almost set. It should have a slight jiggle but not be completely set when removed from the over. Remove pan from oven carefully so the hot water does not splash on you or into the ramekins and place on a level surface. Remove ramekins from pan and place on a towel to dry.


When cool, either cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use or top with sugar, melt with a torch and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Day off at Shirley Pond


Just south of Greenville, Maine, before you get to Monson, is a tiny little town called Shirley. It is so small that if you blinked, you might miss it. You won’t find a lot of things in Shirley. There are no traffic lights, no big box stores, no banks and no congestion. What you might find, if you look closely, is a spectacular view and the best frog hunting this side of Moosehead Lake. I was fortunate enough to spend an afternoon enjoying the hidden gem known as Shirley Pond with my family recently and I am happy to share it with you.


Just off the side of the road is a steep bank of chipped slate. If you are brave enough to venture down to the pond, brave enough to venture into the pond, a myriad of natural wonders await you.


For my four year old son, it is a wonderland. For my fourteen month old daughter it is a delightful play space full of surprises. For my wife and I, the view is incredible and the serenity a welcome respite from every day stress and worries.


We were all transported by the childlike joy of hunting and catching frogs in the pond. Everybody splashed and dove to try and capture the quick swimmers and log hoppers before they disappeared beneath the surface only to reappear just out of reach.


Just up the road from the pond is another magnificent view. If you stand in the middle of the bridge and look south, you will be treated to a vision of pure Maine beauty. Water, rocks and trees meet the sky and clouds in perfect harmony.


Shirley, Maine might not have many of the things I am used to but the more time I spend there, the more I realize is that it’s value is in changing my expectations and reminding me of what is truly important. Time spent with people we care about in this beautiful world we all share is by far our most valuable resource and one we too easily forget about. Sometimes it takes a place like Shirley, Maine to remind us that what we really need is less, not more.

Grilled Brie with Apple Apricot Chutney

grilled brie appetizer
A few nights ago, I made this chutney on a whim. It was so easy to make and such a big hit. I served it with a small wheel of Brie  that I quickly marked on the grill and grilled toast points. Everybody loved the soft melty cheese with the sweet and savory chutney. The best part was I made the chutney way ahead of time and quickly grilled the rest when I was ready to serve.


Apple Apricot Chutney

Ingredients:

1Tbsp Vegetable Oil

1 Tbsp Butter

1 Granny Smith Apple, diced small

1/2 Cup Dried Apricots, diced small

1/2 Cup Golden Raisins

1-2 Tbsp Sugar

Pinch of Salt

1/4 Cup Apple Juice

1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Directions:

Heat pan on high and add oil, then butter. When butter is melted, add the apple and sauté for one minute. Add apricots, raisins, sugar and salt and lower heat to medium. Cook until sugar melts and caramelizes, about 3-5 minutes.

Add apple juice and cider vinegar and simmer a few more minutes until saucy. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cool to room temperature and serve with cheese and grilled bread or crackers.