The Last Day of Summer

  
I awoke early this morning, made a pot of coffee and headed down to the dock. It was just starting to get light as I cast off and headed toward the east side of the island.

  
Today was going to be the last day of my summer in Maine and I wanted to enjoy every moment. As I rounded the northern point of the island, I could see the first rays of sun breaking through the clouds. I shut off the engine and let the boat drift, enjoying the sound of the lake and the birds.

  
As I sipped my coffee, I thought back on all the great times I had enjoyed over the summer. I remembered fishing on Moosehead Lake with my son, William, our first trip to Montreal, meeting new friends and, of course, lots of great food.

  
After the sunrise, I started up the motor and headed back toward the dock. It was time to make breakfast and get ready for my last day of work.

  
When I arrived at the island, the ducks were already at the kitchen house waiting to be fed. I tossed them a few scraps and set about cleaning and packing up the kitchen for winter.

  
When I was finished, I took one last look around the island. I was going to miss it here but I was excited to head south to the island in Florida and to visit my good friend in Seattle soon for his wedding.

  
I took one last look at the pencil forest and the spectacular view of Mt. Kineo before heading back to camp to pack for my flight home.

  
I was already looking forward to my next summer on Moosehead Lake.

  

Maine Lobster Mac

 maine lobster mac and cheese 
Maine Lobster Mac and Cheese

Today I wanted to do something special for the other staff here on the island. We had some lobster left over from the last dinner so I decided to make everybody a nice, hearty lunch. 

 maine lobster 
I’ve wanted to make a lobster mac for a long time so I seized the opportunity. The result was even better than I anticipated. I am seriously in love with this dish. Here is my recipe for lobster mac.

 maine lobster mac and cheese 

Maine Lobster Mac and Cheese

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

8 oz. salt pork or pancetta, diced

1 small onion, diced

2 Tbsp butter

3 Tbsp flour

2 cups milk

8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

8 oz. pasta

1 pound cooked lobster meat

1/4 cup chives, chopped

Ground black pepper

Topping:

2 Tbsp butter

4 oz. crackers, crushed

Directions:

Heat a medium pot and add vegetable oil. Add salt pork and cook until the fat is rendered and pork is golden brown.

  
Add diced onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, five or six minutes.

  
Add butter and allow to melt. I like to bring all the pork and onion to one side of the pot and let the fat collect on the other before I whisk in the flour, but it is not absolutely necessary.

  

When the butter is completely melted, gradually add in your flour and whisk over medium heat to make a roux. When all the lumps are worked out and mixture starts to smell nutty, gradually add milk while whisking.

  
Bring mixture to a simmer and cook over medium heat five more minutes, stirring frequently.

  
Reduce heat to low and add cheddar cheese, stirring until completely melted.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 F and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

  
Elbow macaroni is a traditional choice but I didn’t have any so I used these garden ruffles instead.

Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente.

  
Immediately after draining pasta, add to sauce and stir to combine.

  
Remove lobster from the shell, and cut into large chunks.

  
Add to pot along with chopped chives and fresh ground black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

  
Transfer into a 2 inch deep, oven safe casserole dish.

  
To prepare topping, crumble crackers into a bowl (I used John Wm. Macy’s Asiago and Cheddar Cheese Crisps but just about any cracker will do). Add melted butter and stir to combine.

  
Place crackers on top of the casserole in an even layer and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

  
Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Dinner For One: Maine Lobster Carbonara

  
Maine Lobster Carbonara

This take on the Italian classic was perfect for a quick dinner at home. Where I am in Maine, it can be hard to find pancetta, let alone guanciale. What we do have on this side of the Atlantic Ocean is salt pork, which is not so different than pancetta or bacon and considerably less expensive. A little lobster brings this dish the rest of the way across the Atlantic and adds some sweetness to round out the salty fatty pork and the rich, peppery sauce.

Ingredients:

Olive oil

4 oz. salt pork, diced small

1-2 steamed lobster tails, depending on size, cut into pieces

4 oz dry spaghetti

1 egg, beaten

4 oz. Romano or Parmesan cheese, shredded

Black pepper

Directions:

Heat a sauté pan and add a little olive oil. When oil is hot, add the diced salt pork and cook over medium heat until fat is rendered and pork is crispy.

  
Turn off heat and add the lobster pieces, stirring to warm.

  
Cook spaghetti according to package directions, reserving some of the pasta water.

  
Remove spaghetti from water and add to the pan, stirring to coat with the rendered pork fat. Add beaten egg and stir to coat. Add cheese and black pepper as well as some hot pasta water and stir well. The heat from the spaghetti and pasta water should cook the egg just enough to thicken slightly and coat the noodles. Place in a dish and garnish with a little more cheese and black pepper. Enjoy immediately.

  

Lobster BLT Lettuce Wrap

  
Lobster BLT Lettuce Wrap

I love a good Lobster BLT. The crispy bacon, sweet lobster salad and acidic tomato on toast with crunchy lettuce and mayonnaise is one of my favorite combinations.

Lately though, more and more guests are avoiding bread for a variety of reasons. While I love the classic, I felt a need to update this delicious dish to keep up with changing tastes so I ditched the bread and put the lettuce on the outside. Here is my recipe for Lobster BLT Lettuce Wraps.

Lobster BLT Lettuce Wraps

Makes 6 wraps

Ingredients:

Lobster Salad:

1/4 cup celery, small dice

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 cups lobster meat cut into large pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

Wrap and Garnish:

6 romaine leaves

10 grape tomatoes, quartered

4 strips bacon (or more) cooked

Chives

Directions:

To make lobster salad, combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir briefly. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. 

Trim the root end off the romaine leaves. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

  
Chop bacon and chives and quarter tomatoes.

  
Place lettuce rib side down and fill with lobster salad.

Garnish with tomatoes, bacon and chives.

Serve immediately.

Lobster Quiche and Beef Tenderloin

Lobster Quiche and Beef Tenderloin

Today was the last day one of my favorite groups would be with us. They have humorously dubbed themselves, “The Youth Group,” and they are always a joy to cook for. I must admit, I am a little biased because I look forward to seeing them all when I return to Florida for the winter. I wanted to share a few of the gastronomic highlights of their last day on the island.

  

Lobster, Chanterelle and Chive Quiche

  

  
Grilled Whole Beef Tenderloin

  
Tomato and Avocado Salad with Orange Segments, Fresh Herbs and Aged Balsamic Vinegar

  

Dessert for Lovers
  
A Bittersweet Boat Ride Home

  

Lobster Roll

 lobster roll 
This week we ordered a few extra lobsters so we could enjoy an iconic Maine treat for lunch one day. The classic lobster roll is usually pretty simple. It is most often lobster meat tossed in mayonnaise or melted butter on a roll, maybe with a little chopped celery. I wanted to dress it up a little but not too much so I added some shallots and fresh herbs from the garden and the results were spectacular! I hope you enjoy my recipe for Maine lobster rolls.

maine lobster  
Lobster Rolls with Fresh Herbs

This recipe makes enough lobster salad for 8 lobster rolls.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 pounds lobster meat
1/8 cup minced shallot

1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 Tbsp white wine

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon

1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives

1 cup diced celery

Salt and pepper to taste

8 split top hot dog buns

Butter at room temperature

Directions:

Cut lobster meat into 1-2 inch pieces, removing any roe, bits of shell and the vein that runs down the middle of the tail. Set aside.

  
Combine shallot, lemon juice and white wine in a large bowl and whisk together.

  
Add mayonnaise, black pepper and fresh herbs and whisk to combine.

 tarragon parsley chives  

Add lobster meat and chopped celery and gently toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

 lobster salad 
Heat up a griddle or large frying pan. Butter hot dog buns on both sides. This is just like making a grilled cheese sandwich but without the cheese.

  
Toast the buns on both sides and remove from griddle. Allow to cool slightly.

  
Fill the buns with lobster salad and watch them disappear!

 

Blueberry Cheesecake Hand Pies

Recently, a friend of mine had what I thought was a brilliant idea. I had posted a picture on social media of blueberries I had picked and asked if anybody had any suggestions for what to do with them. I had a lot of good responses but my favorite was the inspiration for this recipe.

  
Blueberry Cheesecake Hand Pies

Ingredients:

Crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold butter, diced

6 Tbsp cold water

Filling:

8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup blueberry jam

1/2 cup blueberries

Finishing:

1 egg and 1 Tbsp water, beaten together

Coarse sugar for sprinkling on top

Directions:

For the crust:

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse several times to combine.

  
Add cubed butter and toss in the flour mixture until it is well coated, being careful to avoid the blade.

Pulse 12-15 times until butter is pea sized.

Add water while processor is running and then pulse several more times until just before dough comes together.

  
Turn dough out onto floured surface and divide into 2 evenly sized disks.

  
Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least fifteen minutes or until ready to use.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

For the filling:

Combine cream cheese and sugar in a bowl and mix until sugar is dissolved.

  
Add egg and stir until combined.

Add vanilla extract and stir until combined.

Add blueberry jam and stir briefly.

  
Refrigerate at least one hour or until cold.

To assemble hand pies:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Roll out dough on a floured surface until it is 1/8 inch thick. Using a pastry cutter or knife, cut into even squares.

  
Separate squares and spoon cheesecake filling into the center, working one at a time.

  
Add a few blueberries and fold into a triangle, pressing the edges together when they meet.

  
Crimp the edges with a fork and trim off any excess.

  
Arrange on a baking sheet and poke a few vents in the top of each pie.

  
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar before putting in the oven.

  
Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway. Remove from oven and allow to cool at least fifteen minutes before enjoying.