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

  

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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.

  
  

Adventures in Foraging: Chanterelles and Wild Strawberries

  
Yesterday was a good day. No, scratch that. Yesterday was a great day. I had enough time in the afternoon to wander about the island enjoying the beautiful weather and the best nature has to offer.

  
Early in the afternoon, my client came down to the kitchen to tell me how much they enjoyed the filet with chanterelle velouté and ask me if I knew of any more chanterelles we could have for dinner that night. I told her I would be happy to go find some and headed out to check the usual spots. I don’t like to take everything out of one spot so I went down to a spot near the beach where I had seen some last year.

  
I only found a couple mushrooms but was pleasantly surprised by how many wild strawberries were growing and how perfectly ripe most of them were! I wasted no time collecting the nicest ones and set off down the beach looking for more chanterelles.

  
I didn’t find much more than tranquility and spectacular views walking down the beach. That was more than enough for me, but I had promised my client mushrooms for dinner so I doubled back through the woods hoping to get lucky.

  
As I wandered through the woods with my eyes on the forest floor, I saw many mushrooms. I marveled at the diversity of nature and the beauty of its many creatures. I walked for over an hour revelling at my surroundings but did not find a single chanterelle.

  
As I headed nearer to the kitchen, I thought I might at least see if I could find some more strawberries. Maybe this just wasn’t my day for mushroom hunting. I headed back down toward the beach where I had seen the strawberries, thinking about how I might use them later. I found a few more ripe ones I had missed earlier and turned to head back and build the fire. Suddenly, I stopped dead in my tracks.

  
Directly in front of me was a big patch of apricot colored beauties. More than enough for dinner, and just in time! I quickly gathered the nicest ones and placed them in my basket before hurrying back to start the fire for dinner.

  
When the fire was ready, I grilled the steaks and the mushrooms together and then made a quick salad with blue cheese dressing, wild strawberries and chives. A red wine reduction mounted with a little cream and butter made a perfect sauce for the steak. My clients were thrilled with dinner but not as thrilled as I was with my afternoon adventure.

Strawberries and Wild Mint

When I arrived at the island yesterday, I was faced with a challenge that will probably seem all too familiar to any kitchen dweller in the summer. What do you do with all the fruit and berries that are a little past their plump, juicy, inhale straight from your fingers prime?

This particular day, it happened to be a pound of strawberries that somehow had been neglected the previous week. There they sat, staring at me from inside the refrigerator, daring me to make something delicious out of them before it was too late.

I did what I so often do when confronted with the endless possibilities of leftover usage. I looked around at what else might be hiding in plain sight, waiting to be transformed into something extraordinary. I quickly noticed the pint of heavy cream leftover from the whipped cream I made for an apple tart earlier that week and I knew that I was going to make strawberry ice cream.

 
I preheated the oven and cored the berries. I quickly cut each in half before tossing with some sugar, a vanilla bean and a splash of Grand Marnier. I let the berries macerate in the roasting pan while the oven heated up. When the oven was ready, I gave the mixture one last stir before placing it on the top rack to roast.

While the berries were cooking, I took a short walk down to the patch of wild mint that pops up through the stones near the end of the dock every summer. I cut off the ends of several hearty stems and carried them back to the kitchen. After rinsing them several times, I rolled them up in paper towels to dry while I removed the strawberries from the oven. I gingerly fished out the spent vanilla pod and transferred them into a bowl to cool.

I made some quick calculations for an ice cream base recipe that would allow me to use the cream I found as well as some leftover milk and sour cream. Then, I headed to the cabinet for my immersion blender. I added the milk and the sour cream to the slightly cooled berries and gave the mixture a quick stir before tossing in the mint leaves and letting the blender rip. I stirred in the heavy cream and transferred the finished strawberry mint cream to a sealed container to chill in the fridge overnight.

 

The next day, I could hardly wait to freeze the delicious concoction in my electric ice cream maker. It turns out that I had no choice but to be patient. I came in to a dark kitchen. There had been trouble with the generator overnight and I was on electricity lock down. I decided to organize the pantry while I waited and while I did, I found the final piece to the ice cream puzzle. Buried deep behind the baking supplies was a half used bag of mini chocolate chips. I could hardly believe I hadn’t thought of it earlier. Strawberry mint chocolate chip ice cream!

 

By the time I finished with the pantry, the generator was back up and running. I grabbed my strawberry mint cream and fired up the ice cream maker. I added the chocolate chips and waited patiently while the mixture froze. After about twenty minutes I could hear the motor starting to strain and I knew it was ready. I transferred the frozen cream into a lined container and put it in the freezer to store but not before taking a few glorious spoonfuls to reward myself for all my hard work!

 

Roasted Strawberry and Wild Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1 Pound Strawberries

1 Cup Sugar

1 Vanilla Bean, split and scraped

2 Ounces Grand Marnier

1 1/3 Cup Whole Milk

2/3 Cup Sour Cream

1 Bunch Wild Mint (1 Cup, loosely packed)

2 Cups Heavy Cream

1 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425

Combine strawberries, vanilla, sugar and Grand Marnier in an oven safe dish and roast for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and transfer to a heat safe container and chill slightly.

Add milk, sour cream and mint and blend until smooth.
Add heavy cream and stir well.

Chill completely in refrigerator, several hours or overnight.

Freeze in ice cream make according to manufacturers instructions.

Makes 2 quarts.