Couple of Recipes for a Spring Weekend in Maine
We went to sleep last week after yet another day of miserable rain and cold, and woke to summer — hot, sunny, humid. Maine has such gorgeous springs, but this year we kind of missed the boat. It rained almost the entire month of May, creating a cool, soggy mess. The poor lilacs — my favorite scent of the season — barely made it inside, with their wet, drooping purple flowers. I finally put away my heavy sweaters and got out the shorts and tank tops and I’m ready to take on this heat. The garden seems to feel as grateful as I am — I could swear things are growing so fast you can practically watch it happen.
We spent hours out in the garden these last few warm days — planting dozens of tomato plants, staking up the peas, and tending to the very healthy-looking fava beans and greens.
And, like so many other Americans, we had a big BBQ this past holiday weekend, the official beginning of the season. I grilled flatiron steak (marinated overnight in an Asian mixture of crushed lemongrass and garlic, ginger, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar), skewers of shrimp (coated in olive oil, lime juice, and Chinese chile paste) and then made a chicken adobo, a wonderfully spicy, vinegar-spiked Filipino dish I learned from my friends Amy Besa and Romy Doroton of the Purple Yam in Brooklyn, New York.
The adobo can be served as a stew or cooked for about twenty minutes in the coconut milk-chile-vinegar-garlic sauce and then placed on the grill with the adobo sauce simmered down and brushed on as a glaze.
I also spent some time this past weekend reading through Maine Classics—More Than 150 Delicious Recipes From Down East by Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier with Rachel Forrest, the new book from the James Beard Award-winning chefs from Arrows restaurant in Ogunquit. I’ve tried Mark’s Boston Brown Bread, Justin’s Coffee BBQ Sauce, and the truly fabulous Scalloped Clams with Maine Potatoes and Yams. The book, co-written with Rachel Forrest, the restaurant reviewer for the Portsmouth Herald, offer a great collection of regional recipes. They are not the fancy, overly-complex restaurant food you find on the table at Arrows, but far more approachable (yet still sophisticated) Maine home cooking. Essays on Maine farms, bakeries, fishermen, and more make it a good choice for anyone who loves our state and all the good food it offers.
Herewith, a couple of recipes for a warm spring weekend:
from Memories of Philippine Kitchens by Amy Besa and Romy Doroton (Stewart, Tabori & Chang)
1 ½ cups rice vinegar
1 cup coconut milk
¼ cup soy sauce
12 garlic cloves, peeled
3 bay leaves
3 whole birdseye chiles, or spicy chile peppers
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
One 3 ½ pound chicken, quartered and cut into pieces
In a large non-reactive bowl combine the vinegar, coconut milk, soy, garlic, bay leaves, chiles, and pepper. Add the chicken pieces and coat in the marinade for at least 2 hours or overnight, refrigerated.
In a large casserole or Dutch oven, heat the chicken and the marinade over high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure the chicken is covered in the marinade, until the chicken is cooked through and tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the sauce with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reduce the sauce until it is the consistency of heavy cream, about 5 to 10 minutes.
You can then return the chicken to the marinade and warm through and serve or place the chicken on a hot grill and baste with the marinade and serve any remaining marinade on the side. Serves 4 to 6.
Scalloped Clams with Maine Potatoes and Yams
from Maine Classics by Mark Gaier, Clark Fraser with Rachel Forrest (Running Press, 2011).
This easy casserole is a hearty side dish that can easily be translated into a dinner with the addition of a side salad.
Clams and Potatoes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped Spanish onions
2 cups milk
1 medium Mane potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
1 medium yam, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups shucked clams
2 tablespoons chopped chives
½ cup grated shark Cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Sauté the onions in the butter until soft and translucent. Add them ilk and heat to simmer Add the potato and yam and cook them slowly until just soft, about 15 minutes. Add the cayenne and the clams and mix well.
Melt the butter for the breadcrumb mixture in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and the red chili flakes. Sauté until golden,
Spoon the potato and clam mixture into a 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle chives on top and then add cheese and then the breadcrumb mixture. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve at once. Serves 6.