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.

  

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Oven-Dried Tomatoes (and what to do with them)

It is finally the peak of summer here in Maine and beautiful, fresh produce is piling up in home gardens and farm stands all across the state. We recently found ourselves with an abundance of perfectly ripe tomatoes that were begging to be preserved at the height of their flavor and I knew just what I wanted to do with them.

  

Oven-drying tomatoes is an easy way to concentrate their flavor while extending their shelf life. The tomatoes come out of the oven with a deep, rich flavor that will take your BLT or burger to the next level.

You can use oven-dried tomatoes almost anywhere you would used sliced tomatoes but my favorite thing to do is make them into a spread. Before we get to that, let’s talk about how to make oven-dried tomatoes.

Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Ingredients:

Tomatoes

Olive Oil

Kosher Salt

Sugar

Directions:

  

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Slice tomatoes at least one inch thick, discarding the top and bottom. I usually get two slices out of a medium tomato and three out of a large.

Coat the tomatoes in olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and sugar.

Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil (this will make clean up a breeze later) and place a rack on top.

Lay your tomatoes out on the rack being careful not to let them touch each other. Place in the preheated oven and set a timer for 3 hours.

  
After 3 hours, remove from the oven and check tomatoes. If they are still a little moist on top, flip the tomatoes over and put them back in the oven for 30 more minutes.

  
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Oven-Dried Tomato Spread

   

Ingredients:

1 pound oven-dried tomatoes

1/8 cup packed basil leaves

1 shallot, quartered

1/2 garlic clove, crushed

1/8 cup red wine vinegar

1/8 cup water

1/4 cup olive oil

Directions:

Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor, making sure garlic and shallot are on the bottom.
Pulse several times and then add the olive oil gradually while the machine is running.

  
Remove from processor and refrigerate until ready to use.

Spread on your favorite sandwich as a condiment, use in place of tomato sauce or top crostini with feta and olives for a fantastic appetizer.

  

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!

 

Wild Blueberry Tart with Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake Filling and Snickerdoodle Pecan Crust

  
Wild Blueberry Tart with Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake Filling and Snickerdoodle Pecan Crust

Recipe makes one 11 inch tart

Ingredients:

  

Crust:

2 cups snickerdoodle crumbs

1 1/2 cup toasted pecan crumble (about 6 ounces whole)

1 stick butter, melted

Note: This is a basic crumb crust. You can substitute any crunchy cookie or graham crackers or any nuts or no nuts, whatever you have on hand. Gingersnaps would be a nice twist. I used snickerdoodles because I had some leftover in the cookie jar. The drier the cookie, the crunchier the crust!

Ricotta Cheesecake Filling:

8 oz. cream cheese at room temp

1 cup ricotta

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 lemon, zested

Note: If you don’t have ricotta you may use goat cheese or all cream cheese for the filling.

Blueberry Topping:

4 cups blueberries

1/2 cup and 2 Tbsp water, divided

2 Tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp lemon juice

Note: It is blueberry season here in Maine so I used wild blueberries. If you do not have access to wild blueberries, store bought or cultivated will work just fine.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Toast pecans in oven for 4-5 minutes. Allow to cool.

Smash or crumble Snickerdoodle cookies and place in food processor. Pulse until you have a fine crumb.

  
Place cooled pecans in food processor. Pulse until you have an even, coarse crumb.

  
Combine 2 cups cookie crumb and 1 1/2 pecan crumb in a large bowl and mix with melted butter until it is the consistency of wet sand and just holds its shape when pressed together.

  
Press crust into tart pan evenly, working from the center out. I find a straight sided cylindrical object with a flat bottom works well for this. I like to use my one cup measure. You may have a little extra crumb leftover.

  
Bake crust on a sheet pan for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and lower temperature to 325 F.

Allow to cool while you prepare the filling.

Combine cream cheese, ricotta and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low until completely combined. Scrape down bowl with a rubber spatula. While mixing on low, add eggs, one at a time, adding the next egg after the first is completely combined. Scrape down bowl with a rubber spatula. Add vanilla extract and lemon zest and mix on low until combined. Scrape down bowl with a rubber spatula.

Pour filling into crust and bake on a sheet pan for 30 minutes, rotating at 15 minutes.

  
When filling is set, turn off the oven and crack the door, allowing tart to cool slowly at least fifteen minutes. If the cheesecake filling cools too quickly, it may split.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping.

Combine 1 cup blueberries with 1/2 cup water in a pot and bring to a boil.

  
Combine 2 Tbsp cornstarch and 2 Tbsp water and mix until cornstarch is completely dissolved and mixture is smooth.

Whisk cornstarch slurry into pot and cook while whisking for several minutes over medium heat, being careful not to burn.

  
Add sugar and lemon juice and whisk over medium low heat until smooth.

Fold in remaining 3 cups blueberries until well coated and remove from heat.

Remove tart from oven and pour 3/4 of the blueberry topping into the center. Gently spread to the edge of the crust on all sides, adding more topping if necessary. You may have a small amount of topping left over.

  
Allow to cool at room temperature 1 hour before serving.