Holiday Cocktails

A Winter’s Tale

 Cool Mule - Photo by Michael Marquand

Cool Mule - Photo by Michael Marquand

With the winter holiday season nipping at our heels, I went on an inspiration hunt for fresh and friendly creative cognac concoction ideas. Cognac is my favorite cold weather spirit, whether neat or mixed. It’s warm earthy notes and fragrant nose warm the cockles of my heart. Transforming traditional drinks into Winter Holiday Cognac Cocktails became a pre-winter week labor of love.

My first conquest was the classic 1940’s Moscow Mule made with vodka, ice cubes, freshly squeezed lime juice and spicy sparkly ginger beer. My twist on the old favorite replaces the vodka with cognac, adds seasonal Clementine or Mandarin juice and some gorgeous garnishes.

 The fragrantly sweet Clementine citrus compliments the cognac, while the ginger beer augments its spicy undertones. Candied ginger skewered with golden fruit (or kumquat) adds a tasteful touch to this modern Cool Mule.

Cool Cognac Mule

Makes One Drink

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Cognac

  • 4 ounces Ginger Beer

  • 1 ounce of freshly squeezed Clementine juice

  • ½ an ounce of freshly squeezed Lime juice

Garnish

  • Candied Ginger- Can be readily purchased or easily homemade

  • Golden Fruit, kumquat or Clementine wedge

  • Sugared Cranberries- Recipe included

  • Simple bamboo skewer

Directions

  1. Combine cognac, Clementine and lime juices.

  2. Pour over ice, top with the ginger beer and stir.

  3. Serve garnished with skewered candied ginger and Golden Fruit, or if not that is available, whole kumquat or Clementine wedge.

Candied Ginger Slices smaller res.jpg

Candied Ginger Slices

To Make the Candied Ginger - ~ 2 hours to make or can be readily purchased

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of granulated sugar

  • 1 cup of water

  • ½ cup of sliced freshly peeled ginger root

Directions

  1. To make the candied ginger, bring the sugar and water to a simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Add in the sliced and boil until the ginger is tender, about 15 minutes.

  2. Remove the ginger syrup from heat. With a fork or tweezers, pull out the ginger slices and cool on a wire rack sitting on top of a parchment paper lined plate or tray to catch any drips.

  3. Reserve the ginger syrup in a sealed jar for many other spectacular uses. It will crystallize and can be revived by a small amount of hot water.

  4. Let the wet candied ginger slices dry until they are just tacky but do not stick to your fingers, about 30 minutes to an hour.

  5. Toss them in superfine sugar and let them dry in a single layer on a clean piece of parchment paper for about hour or so.

 Sugared Fresh Cranberries

Sugared Fresh Cranberries

To Make the Sugared Cranberries - ~ 2.5 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 cups of sugar divided

  • 1 cup of fresh cranberries

Directions

  1. Dissolve ½ cup of Granulated Cane sugar into ½ cup of water by bringing it to a boil for about 3 minutes.

  2. Stir in the cranberries.

  3. With a slotted spoon, lift the coated cranberries out of the syrup and drain on a wire rack resting on a parchment paper lined ½ sheet pan.

  4. Let cool and dry for about an hour.

  5. Place the remaining 1½ cups of sugar in a small bowl.

  6. Prepare a clean sheet of parchment paper on a pan to receive the candied cranberries.

  7. Roll the cooled coated cranberries, a few at a time, into the sugar bowl.

  8. Let the sugared cranberries set for another hour to be ready to handle as garnish

 Brandied Apple Jack Rose - Photo by Michael Marquand

Brandied Apple Jack Rose - Photo by Michael Marquand

The Name of the Jack Rose

The cheery red color of the classic Jack Rose lends itself to this holiday rendition. Grenadine, AKA - pomegranate syrup, is the ingredient that gives the rose color to the cocktail’s surname. Seasonal pomegranates permeate winter produce markets making their seeds the perfect holiday garnish. Their jewel-like beauty shine radiantly delicious.

 

The first name of the vintage Jack Rose is derived from the once ubiquitous Apple Jack Brandy, which comprised the bulk of the original cocktail recipe. Apple Jack, having lost past popularity, has become harder to find. In my version I use my favorite cognac or brandy, and add fresh apple cider to achieve a delightful spiced apple flavor. Seasonal slices of lemon juice dipped red skinned apple grace my modern Brandied Apple Jack Rose.

 

Brandied Apple Jack Rose

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces of Cognac or Brandy

  • 3 ounce of fresh Apple Cider

  • 1 ounce of Lemon juice

  • ½ ounce of Grenadine

Garnishes

  • Thinly sliced red skinned apples dipped in lemon juice to preserve color

  • Pomegranate seeds

Directions

  1. In a cocktail shaker with ice, add the cocktail ingredients.

  2. Strain into two glasses

  3. Garnish with apple slices and pomegranate seeds-click link for seeding video

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/videos/techniques/how-remove-pomegranate-seeds

Spiced Cranberry Cognac Sour Cocktail

While reading up on the history of the classic Whiskey Sour, one that evokes fond childhood memories of my parents’ cocktail parties, I came across a respected cocktail  author’s thoughts on the subject. “There has been a movement back to the basic blocks when it comes to cocktails. There is something special about the simple cocktails. They are enjoyable and well known from a customer standpoint, and easy to assemble from behind the bar.”* I whole hearted applaud this sentiment and think that holiday specials can be a welcome exception, given the same author’s next observation.

 

“There are some historians that believe the sour category is a scaled down version of the basic punch. It has the elements of ‘one sour, two sweet, three strong, four weak’ that a classic punch has, but in an individual serving size.”* With all of that said, I open for viewing the creative process of my rendition of a holiday Spiced Cranberry Cognac Cocktail - no special gadgets required.

 * https://www.alcoholprofessor.com/blog-posts/blog/2015/01/27/classic-cocktails-in-history-the-whiskey-sour

 As per the cognac cocktail theme of my holiday beverage mission, I swap in cognac for whiskey and my spiced cranberry-honey simple syrup for traditional cane sugar simple syrup. I check my recipe to see how it stacks up to the basic punch proportion, noting that mine is lacking in the ‘weak element’ quantity, making my recipe a bit stronger, just the way I like it. Exchanging the sweeter seasonal Mandarin for orange juice, employs it as both a weak and a sweet element, allowing for less of the syrupy sweetening agent in my concoction. You can use more if you like. With no further explanation needed, here is the recipe for my Spiced Cranberry Cognac Cocktail.

 Spiced Cranberry Cognac Sour - Photo by Michael Marquand

Spiced Cranberry Cognac Sour - Photo by Michael Marquand

Spiced Cranberry Cognac Sour

inspired by a classic Whiskey Sour, Blender made for frothiness

Serves 2

Spiced Cranberry Honey Syrup Ingredients

  • 1 cup of fresh cranberries

  • 1 cup of water

  • 1 cup of honey

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • 2 star anise

Spiced Cranberry Honey Syrup Directions

  1. Make the spiced cranberry honey syrup by boiling the ingredients in the water until the berries burst open and color the water.

  2. With a fine gauge seive, strain the syrup of all fruit seeds and spices.

  3. Chill the remaining liquid to at least room temperature. Keeps well refrigerated

Cocktail Ingredients

  • 6 ounces of cognac

  • 4 ounces of freshly squeezed Tangerine, Clementine or Mandarin juice

  • 1 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice

  • 1 ounce of Spiced Cranberry Honey Syrup

  • ¼teaspoon of egg white powder (meringue powder) dissolved in 1 ounce of warm water, or one teaspoon of a beaten fresh egg white - Optional to create foaminess

Rim

  • ½  ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice for dipping the rim

  • ¼ cup of crystal demerara sugar in a saucer to bedazzle the rim

Garnishes

  • Cinnamon stick

  • Star anise

  • Plain or sugared clementine slice, wedge, twist or curl

  • Sugared Cranberries

Cocktail Directions

  1. Add all of  the Cranberry Cognac Sour ingredients to the blender. Blend until well mixed and frothy.

  2. Pour into 4 cold, rim ready glasses.

  3. Garnish with a cinnamon stick, star anise and a sugared clementine twist. You can also float a couple of sugared cranberries for extra dazzle.

  4. Serve immediately.

  Honeyed Cardamom Clove Cognac Eggnog -  Photo by Michael Marquand

Honeyed Cardamom Clove Cognac Eggnog - Photo by Michael Marquand

Honeyed Cardamom Clove Cognac Eggnog

Eggnog is one of my all-time favorite winter holiday treats. I admit that eggnog is great with or without any added spirits, but my preference is with a hefty dose of cognac and a fragrant dusting of freshly grated nutmeg. In my newest special spicy version I steep the milk with honey, cloves and cardamom for an exotic twist on a classic recipe. 

 The fun begins with carefully cooking the egg yolks into the mixture without turning them to scrambled eggs. It may seem daunting, but it merely takes a careful eye and a studied attention span for only about 3-5 minutes, stirring over low heat all the while. Once completely cooled, and only then, do you add in the oh-so-rich heavy cream and yummy caramelly cognac. Adding spirits to hot liquid will evaporate the alcohol, though it will not diminish the flavor.

Honeyed Cardamom Clove Cognac Eggnog

Makes 6 - 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of Cognac

  • 2 cups of Whole milk

  • 2 cups of Heavy cream

  • ¼ cup of Honey

  • 8 organic free range Egg yolks

  • 4 Whole Cardamom seed pods

  • 6 Whole Cloves

Garnish

  • Freshly grated Nutmeg

Directions

  1. Combine the milk, honey, cloves, and cardamom in a saucepan. Heat on low for about 5 minutes to infuse the milk with spice flavor. Do not boil.

  2. Strain the cloves and cardamom pods out of the mixture into a wide rimmed pitcher.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks well. Very slowly and gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg yolks.

  4. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens, about 3 - 5 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Pour the mixture back into the pitcher. Cover and it let cool completely.

  5. Stir in the cognac and cream and cover tightly. Refrigerate overnight.

  6. Serve chilled with a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg over each glass or cup.

  Orange Cognac Cheesecake Cloud -  Photo by Michael Marquand

Orange Cognac Cheesecake Cloud - Photo by Michael Marquand

Orange Cognac Cheesecake Cloud 

This über rich dessert cocktail is inspired by my love of everything cheesecake. After all, what is not to love about cheesecake, except maybe all of that sugar? I swap in a bit of healthful honey for just a touch of sweetness, replacing gobs of granular cane sugar in classic cheesecake fare. 

 

Having made cheesecake in many manifestations, including blueberry cheesecake ice cream popsicles, I have found that it is essential for me to include graham crackers for those taste-bud textural memories to swirl the dreaminess of my psyche. I incorporated graham cracker crumbs into the honey swirl inner glass garnish and rim, and a graham cracker cookie to dip into the orange cognac cloud and munch. Feel free to serve this cocktail concoction with as many graham cookies as you like! You can even layer crumbs in between the clouds as you fill the glass, if you are a big graham fan. Most importantly, enjoy your play in the clouds.

Orange Cognac Cheesecake Cloud

An Original Recipe

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of Whole milk

  • 1 cup of Heavy cream

  • 1 cup of Cognac

  • ½ cup of Triple Sec, Cointreau or any orange liqueur

  • 4 ounce package of regular full fat Cream Cheese – room temperature

  • 4 ounces of regular full fat Sour Cream

  • ¾ cup of Honey – divided

  • 1 teaspoon of quality pure Vanilla extract

  • 3 Graham Crackers

Directions

Prepare the glasses

  1. Crush one of the graham crackers into crumbs for rim garnish. Break the other 2 crackers into quarters for added garnish.

  2. One glass at a time, with a fine tipped small squeeze bottle, swirl thin whirls of honey on the inside of a glass. Immediately toss a teaspoon of graham crumbs into the glass to stick to the honey streaks, shaking out the excess t use in the next glass.

  3. Repeat until all of the glasses are prepped and in the freezer.

  4. Put the honeyed glasses upside down on waxed paper in the freezer to harden the honey.

Build the Beverages

  1. With an electric hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sour cream in a medium size bowl until very creamy smooth and lump free to make the cheesecake base.

  2. Beat ¼ cup of honey into the cheesecake base until it is homogenous.

  3. Beat in the whole milk, cognac, orange liqueur and vanilla extract to make the base into a cocktail consistency.

  4. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.

  5. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese cocktail mixture and chill until ready to serve.

  6. Optional: Dip the rim of each glass into remaining graham cracker crumbs for extra texture and flavor.  

  7. Pour the chilled cognac cheesecake cloud cocktail into the prepared frozen glasses.

  8. Garnish with graham cracker quarters and serve immediately.

A Festive Fall Fare

Chicken Liver Paté with Caramelized Apples & Onions

 Happy Hour with Style

Happy Hour with Style

If you think you don’t like chicken livers then you probably have not had them prepared well. When buying chicken livers, be sure to go for the freshest, firm, boldly colored lobes. I prefer local free-range farmed chickens from a reputable purveyor. Over cooking chicken livers turns them bitter, chalky, dry and rubbery, spoiling their naturally juicy sweet flavor. I use a blend of plu gras butter or Ghee, mixed with olive oil for the apple onion sauté and the liver sear. The oil/butter mix must be hot enough to make a brown sear while leaving the inside pink. Adding bit of freshly ground nutmeg and finely ground white pepper to the apples and onions while they sauté, adds an earthy aroma and depth of flavor to the mélange. After all of the ingredients are cooked to perfection, I add a generous dash of cognac to the processor to accompany the seared livers with the caramelized spiced apples and onions, using all of the buttery oil from the pan.

Plu gras literally means more fat. European butter has more fat than American butter. It is far better for baking and cooking than the American butter, which has considerably more water content. Ghee can be purchased or made by reducing butter as directed by experts.

 

For my recipe:

Paté Ingredients

  • I pint of fresh plump chicken livers, trimmed of any stringy white bits

  • 1 cup of Vidalia onions, shallots or whatever onions you have on hand - chopped

  • 1 half of a Fuji, Gala, Braeburn, or Honey Crisp apple – chopped

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon of plu gras butter or Ghee

  • ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg

  • ¼ teaspoon of finely ground white pepper

  • 2 ounces cognac of French brandy

  • Salt to taste

2 Tablespoon of plu gras butter or Ghee for sealing the paté – melted

Paté Directions

  1. Trim the liver pieces of any white stringy bits. Cut the lobes into evenly sized pieces for even cooking.

  2. In a large skillet on medium low heat, slowly sauté the onions and apples with the oil and butter and a pinch of salt. About 15 minutes.

  3. Remove the apples and onions with a slotted spoon, leaving behind as much of the oil and butter as possible. Add them to the food processor bowl.

  4. Turn the heat up to medium high heat to sear the livers.

  5. Add the pan contents of livers and fat, along with the cognac, to the apple onion mix in the processor.

  6. Pulse the ingredients, scraping down the bowl occasionally.

  7. Finish processing the mixture until puréed.

  8. Taste the mixture for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper or nutmeg if needed. Give the mix another whirr if you have adjusted the seasoning.

  9. In a small saucepan, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter for sealing the paté.

  10. Pour half of the melted butter into the bottom of a 32 ounce loaf pan, or split it up into smaller containers.

  11. Spoon the paté over the butter. Level the paté.

  12. Evenly cover the paté with the other half of the melted butter, sealing it to preserve the color and flavor.

Food Styling Tip: When I approached this shoot I was showcasing my newest paté recipe. Because of the caramelized apple inclusion in this version, I decided on the fruit and bread crisps to underline and augment the visual flavors. The presentation is my vision of how I would serve it to honored and beloved guests. The table cloth and dish choices were an instinctive decision based on the predominant colors of the fruit and flavors. The bread texture and color seemed to work naturally with the scheme of the whole. The bottle of honey and Mandarine orange are accent touches for balance and interest.

Apple and leaf smaller.jpg

Blueberry Cherry Acai Pom Smoothie and Friends

Just because it’s Fall doesn’t mean I stop drinking smoothies.

 A Rainbow of Fruit Smoothie Treats

A Rainbow of Fruit Smoothie Treats

I have been making smoothies for breakfast since I was a teenager. They have evolved dramatically since the fruit and ice cream versions of my high school years. In the past decades, a high anti-oxidant frozen berry version has garnered the attention and awe of many guests at my place. I have been asked for the recipe more than once.

I recently chipped the bottom of the glass jar to my blender. It leaks so I had to improvise or do without my morning smoothie delight. I got out my stick blender, AKA immersion blender, to do the job. I found that I could make the smoothie much thicker than with a regular blender because it didn’t need as much liquid. I could press down on the ingredients to blend them instead of relying on gravity in the blender. Using the blender, I often had to stop and loosen stuck pieces of frozen fruit wedged in the blender blades. I call these sorts of discoveries Happy Accidents.

 When I asked David Bishop, the photographer, to shoot my favorite smoothie for my book, he said he would like to shoot a smoothie series. I came up with another three tasty, healthy and eye catching recipes, using the same principle and technique as my Blueberry Cherry Acai Pom Smoothie, with the theme of color and garnish for variety. Most of the ingredients are found in any grocery store these days. If you can’t find some of the fruits in frozen form, you can freeze them yourself. Cut ripe fruit into one-inch chunks and spreading them on a waxed paper lined tray in the freezer for about an hour. When they are sufficiently frozen, so that they won’t stick together, store them in sealed plastic container or plastic zipper bag until you use them. I find it helpful to label and date anything I put into my freezer.

My fruit smoothies are not just the domaine of breakfast fare. With the protein elements, they can be a snack or any meal accompaniment. Experiment for yourself to find your favorites, your friends’ and the whole family’s.

For the recipes for my smoothies you can follow below, or use your favorite ingredients. In any season, use whatever is available. As for the instructions, they are basically the same for any of my smoothies or your own renditions.

 A Plethora of Fruit Choices

A Plethora of Fruit Choices

Blueberry Cherry Acai Pom Smoothie

  • ½ cup of pomegranate juice

  • ¼ cup of Wild Maine frozen blueberries

  • ¼ cup of frozen pitted Bing cherries

  • ¼ cup of almond milk or plain yogurt, optional

  • 2 ounces of semi-thawed frozen Acai pureé

  • 2 tablespoons Maca powder, optional

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened Cacao or cocoa powder, optional

  • ½ teaspoon of Spirulina powder, optional

Mango Papaya Apple Smoothie

  • ½ cup of organic cold pressed apple juice

  • ½ cup of frozen mango chunks

  • ½ cup of frozen papaya chunks

  • ¼ cup of almond milk or plain yogurt, optional

  • 2 tablespoons Maca powder, optional

Strawberry Raspberry Cranberry Smoothie

  • ½ cup of natural cranberry juice

  • ½ cup of frozen strawberries

  • ½ cup of frozen raspberries

  • ¼ cup of almond milk or plain yogurt, optional

  • Agave nectar, honey or Stevia to taste

Kiwi Honeydew Coca Smoothie

  • ½ cup of coconut water, virgin no heat process if possible

  • ½ cup frozen kiwi chunks, peeled of course

  • ½ cup frozen honeydew chunks

  • ¼ cup of almond milk or plain yogurt, optional

  • 2 tablespoons Maca powder, optional

Directions for any Smoothie

  1. When using a stick blender, place the ingredients in a tall narrow flat-bottomed quart container.

  2. Put the liquids and/or yogurt in first, then the powders.

  3. Add in the fruits and other ingredients, and blend with the immersion blender.

  4. For conventional blenders, follow the same suggestions, using the proper blender jar.

Tip: You may want to add the frozen pieces in a bit gradually if they are really hard or give them some time to soften just a bit before adding and blending.

Porcini Lamb Meatballs with Fennel Carrot Shallot Mushroom Sauce

Grass-grazed Lamb Meatballs with Fennel Sauce

Lamb Meat balls in Fennel Shallot Carrot Mushroom Sauce.jpg

Grass grazed ground lamb creates a flavor canvas for the palette of plentiful vegetal pleasures from nature. To make these luscious gluten free lamb meatballs tender and moist, I soak pulverized dried Porcini mushrooms in beaten egg to replace the usual breadcrumbs. Adding to the richness of flavor, texture and creamy experience of the dish, is the use of tons of fennel root, replacing celery in the Mirepiox trio, which begins the satiny sauce preparation.

To make this sensational savory dish for yourself, the ingredients and directions, including food styling tips, are as follows:

Meatball Ingredients

  • 1 pound of ground lamb - grass-grazed

  • ½ cup of rendered duck, or other, fat for browning meatballs (or use coconut oil)

  • ¼ cup dried Porcini mushrooms – pulverized

  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil

  • 1 large egg – free range, well beaten

  • 1 medium shallot – minced

  • 1 teaspoon of salt

  • ¼ teaspoon of coriander – ground

  • ¼ teaspoon of allspice – ground

  • ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg – ground

  • ¼ teaspoon of turmeric – ground

  • ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper – ground

  • ¼ teaspoon of white pepper – finely ground

Meatball Directions

  1. Soak the pulverized Porcini in the beaten egg for at least 10 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, slowly caramelize the shallots with the salt and spices in the olive oil, stirring frequently. ~15 min

  3. In a 2 Quart bowl, blend the porcini/egg and the cooled cooked shallot/spice mixtures.

  4. With clean hands, thoroughly knead the ground lamb into the wet mix.

  5. Portion the meatballs with a 1½ inch release style scooper, onto a wax paper lined sheet pan.

  6. With wet hands, roll the portions into rounded balls. Refrigerate for 30 minute or more to firm before browning.

  7. Make the sauce while they are chilling.

  8. Brown the meatballs all over, in your favorite fat. Drain and add them to the sauce as they finish.

  9. Cook the meatballs in the simmering sauce for about 15 minutes.

  10. For best results, let the finished recipe cool and refrigerate covered overnight to meld the flavors.

Fennel Carrot Shallot Mushroom Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 pint of broth, your choice of what you have on hand - be ware of salt!

  • 1 cup of fresh fennel bulb - finely sliced

  • 1 cup of Vidalia onion – medium chopped

  • 1 cup of shallots - thinly sliced

  • 1 cup of carrots - chopped

  • 1 cup of Baby Bella mushrooms (Crimini) - sliced

  • ¼ cup of olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste

  • 1 teaspoon of wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, marjoram or savory

  • 1 teaspoon of dried or fresh parsley

  • 1 teaspoon of dried basil

  • 1 teaspoon of salt

  • ½ teaspoon of white pepper – finely ground

  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper – finely ground

  • ½ teaspoon of black pepper – medium or fine grind

Fennel Carrot Shallot Mushroom Sauce Directions

  1. In a large lidded skillet, sauté the fennel and onions in the olive oil on medium low heat until softened and nearly clear. Add the shallots and cook for another 2 minutes.

  2. Add the carrots and mushrooms and continue cooking for 5 minutes.

  3. Make a well in the center of the pan to make a space for the tomato paste. Spoon the paste into place and let it cook for a few minute while stirring to prevent scorching. Stir the cooked paste into the rest of the pan mixture.

  4. Add the broth and vinegar into the pan and stir everything together. Bring the pan to a boil then reduce the heat so the contents simmer.

  5. Add the meatballs as they are browned and slightly drained.

  6. Cook the meatballs in the sauce for about 15 minutes.

  7. For best results, let the pan cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight to meld the flavors.

Serve reheated, garnished with chopped fresh parsley

 Fresh Fennel Bulb Halves

Fresh Fennel Bulb Halves

A Jubilant July Picnic at Coastal Maine’s Mead Meadow

Part 4: Wild Maine Blueberry Cheesecake Popsicles with Magic Chocolate Coating

 Photos by Michael Marquand  Recipes by Marilinda Hodgdon  Nothing speaks of summer in Maine like wild blueberries. These berry beauties combined with creamy cheesecake ice cream, crafted into popsicles dipped in dark chocolate, spell a fabulous finish to a sumptuous summer picnic supper. The  Magic  of the chocolate sauce is that it hardens onto the cold ice cream almost instantly. The recipe is one of the most simple and easy chocolate sauces imaginable. This tasty treat will delight at first bite.  My memorable recipe for Maine Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Popsicles makes about 12 popsicles. Use horizontal silicon molds with holes for the sticks. Make sure your sticks fit the mold openings. Most molds come with the appropriate sticks.

Photos by Michael Marquand

Recipes by Marilinda Hodgdon

Nothing speaks of summer in Maine like wild blueberries. These berry beauties combined with creamy cheesecake ice cream, crafted into popsicles dipped in dark chocolate, spell a fabulous finish to a sumptuous summer picnic supper. The Magic of the chocolate sauce is that it hardens onto the cold ice cream almost instantly. The recipe is one of the most simple and easy chocolate sauces imaginable. This tasty treat will delight at first bite.

My memorable recipe for Maine Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Popsicles makes about 12 popsicles. Use horizontal silicon molds with holes for the sticks. Make sure your sticks fit the mold openings. Most molds come with the appropriate sticks.

 Choose blueberries that are small firm, plump, fragrant with a dark rich berry color and a dusty white bloom, which is their natural protection from the sun. You can also use frozen Wild Maine blueberries.

Choose blueberries that are small firm, plump, fragrant with a dark rich berry color and a dusty white bloom, which is their natural protection from the sun. You can also use frozen Wild Maine blueberries.

  Ice Cream    Ingredients   · 2 cups of heavy whipping cream  · 1 cup of sweetened condensed canned milk  · 8 ounces of room temperature softened cream cheese  · 2 Teaspoons of pure vanilla extract     Blueberry Sauce    Ingredients   · 2 cups fresh small blueberries, or frozen Maine blueberries  · ½ cup water  · ¼ cup sugar  · 4 teaspoons of cornstarch  · 4 teaspoons of lemon juice  · pinch of sea salt  · Crushed Graham Crackers for interior texture and flavor are optional

Ice Cream

Ingredients

· 2 cups of heavy whipping cream

· 1 cup of sweetened condensed canned milk

· 8 ounces of room temperature softened cream cheese

· 2 Teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

Blueberry Sauce

Ingredients

· 2 cups fresh small blueberries, or frozen Maine blueberries

· ½ cup water

· ¼ cup sugar

· 4 teaspoons of cornstarch

· 4 teaspoons of lemon juice

· pinch of sea salt

· Crushed Graham Crackers for interior texture and flavor are optional

  Directions    Making the Sauce   1. Place the sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, salt and water in a medium size saucepan on low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  2. Stir in the blueberries and raise the heat to medium.  3. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the some of the berries have started to burst and the juices have thickened, about 5 minutes. Most of the blueberries will break down but others will still remain whole. ( To make distinct outer blueberry swirls, drain some of the blueberry liquid and place it in a small squeeze bottle with a little hole in the tip. Sparingly, make thin graceful lines of blueberry sauce before and after filling the popsicle molds .)  4. Set aside and make the ice cream base, allowing the sauces to cool to room temperature.

Directions

Making the Sauce

1. Place the sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, salt and water in a medium size saucepan on low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

2. Stir in the blueberries and raise the heat to medium.

3. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the some of the berries have started to burst and the juices have thickened, about 5 minutes. Most of the blueberries will break down but others will still remain whole. (To make distinct outer blueberry swirls, drain some of the blueberry liquid and place it in a small squeeze bottle with a little hole in the tip. Sparingly, make thin graceful lines of blueberry sauce before and after filling the popsicle molds.)

4. Set aside and make the ice cream base, allowing the sauces to cool to room temperature.

Blueberry Cheesecake Popsicle Builds.jpg

Making the Ice Cream and Building the Popsicles

1.     Using a whisk or a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth.

2.     Add the heavy whipping cream, condensed milk, and vanilla extract and beat the mixture on high speed until soft peaks form.

3.     With your squeeze bottle of strained sauce, swirl graceful lines of sauce into each mold.  Dot in a blueberry here and there.  This will ensure a beautiful berry presentation on the outside. 

4.     Using a small flatware pointy teaspoon, not a rounded measuring spoon, add a layer of the ice cream base to each of the molds.

5.     With a smaller spoon, swirl in a bit of the cooked blueberries. You can use a narrow utensil to assist in swirling.

6.    Sprinkle a layer of graham cracker crumbs about an 1/8 inch thick.

7.     Repeat steps 4 & 5 until each mold is filled.

8.     Repeat step 3 to give a finished blueberry presence to the exposed outside. 

9.     Insert the sticks into the molds. If there is any left over base and sauce, freeze it in a covered cardboard, plastic or metal container.

10.    Leaving the molds in their protective trays, freeze them for at least 6 hours. Over night is best.

11.     After un-molding the pops, place each popsicle into an individual cellophane, plastic or waxed bag, and close securely to store in the freezer until ready to serve. This prevents freezer frost.

BBCC Pops on plate askew.jpg
  Chocolate Magic Shell   makes ~1½ cups    Ingredients   · 12 Ounces of Pure Unsweetened Cacao or Sweetened Cocoa Powder  · 8 Ounces of Virgin Coconut Oil   Directions   1. Measure the coconut oil into a 4 cup liquid measuring cup. This allows room for stirring in the cacao powder.  2. Slowly and gradually stir the cacao powder into the coconut oil until the mixture becomes homogenous and smooth.  3. Store in a 2 cup tightly covered lidded glass jar at room temperature until ready for use.  4. Upon request for a chocolate covered popsicle, uncover the popsicles one at a time and dip into the sauce.

Chocolate Magic Shell makes ~1½ cups

Ingredients

· 12 Ounces of Pure Unsweetened Cacao or Sweetened Cocoa Powder

· 8 Ounces of Virgin Coconut Oil

Directions

1. Measure the coconut oil into a 4 cup liquid measuring cup. This allows room for stirring in the cacao powder.

2. Slowly and gradually stir the cacao powder into the coconut oil until the mixture becomes homogenous and smooth.

3. Store in a 2 cup tightly covered lidded glass jar at room temperature until ready for use.

4. Upon request for a chocolate covered popsicle, uncover the popsicles one at a time and dip into the sauce.

  The Magic of the chocolate sauce is that it hardens onto the cold ice cream almost instantly. This is one of the most simple and easy chocolate sauces imaginable.    Tip: Thinning the chocolate sauce with a bit more coconut oil will make a thinner shell that hardens more quickly. If the room temperature is below 70   ˚F, the chocolate sauce may harden. Simply place the jar into warm water until it becomes liquid again.   Thanks for joining me in our sumptuous summer supper alfresco at Maine's Mead Meadow. I hope you can take the time to enjoy the recipes.

The Magic of the chocolate sauce is that it hardens onto the cold ice cream almost instantly. This is one of the most simple and easy chocolate sauces imaginable.

Tip: Thinning the chocolate sauce with a bit more coconut oil will make a thinner shell that hardens more quickly. If the room temperature is below 70 ˚F, the chocolate sauce may harden. Simply place the jar into warm water until it becomes liquid again.

Thanks for joining me in our sumptuous summer supper alfresco at Maine's Mead Meadow. I hope you can take the time to enjoy the recipes.

 A special heartfelt thanks to Angela Olsen Matthews and her husband, Peter Matthews, at  Mead Meadow  for their thoughtful and gracious generosity and hard work in hosting our scrumptious and serene summer picnic. You can visit Angela’s Instagram page @ MeadMeadow    About Mead Meadow    We were invited to historic Mead Meadow, in picturesque Kittery Maine, to shoot our delightful summer outdoor meal. This water front paradise is a restored 140 year old farmstead, originally a 20 acre estate, was called Mead Summer House. Included: the main house, a horse and buggy carriage house, which is now a guest cottage, a boat house and the original well. The lovingly restored buildings are now nestled on 4 acres of manicured grass surrounded by wild and cultivated flowers, raspberry bush stands, shrubbery and original trees. The garden shed was torn down and its naturally weathered old New England stones have been transformed into a spacious patio surrounded by potted herbs and flourishing flowers, with a bucolic view of the rear grounds and coastal cove.

A special heartfelt thanks to Angela Olsen Matthews and her husband, Peter Matthews, at Mead Meadow for their thoughtful and gracious generosity and hard work in hosting our scrumptious and serene summer picnic. You can visit Angela’s Instagram page @MeadMeadow

About Mead Meadow

We were invited to historic Mead Meadow, in picturesque Kittery Maine, to shoot our delightful summer outdoor meal. This water front paradise is a restored 140 year old farmstead, originally a 20 acre estate, was called Mead Summer House. Included: the main house, a horse and buggy carriage house, which is now a guest cottage, a boat house and the original well. The lovingly restored buildings are now nestled on 4 acres of manicured grass surrounded by wild and cultivated flowers, raspberry bush stands, shrubbery and original trees. The garden shed was torn down and its naturally weathered old New England stones have been transformed into a spacious patio surrounded by potted herbs and flourishing flowers, with a bucolic view of the rear grounds and coastal cove.

A Jubilant July Picnic at Coastal Maine’s Mead Meadow

Part 3: Portobello Cheese Burgers and Grilled Vegetables

 Photos by Michael Marquand  Recipes by Marilinda Hodgdon  Welcome to Part 3 of our Southern Maine picnic, inspired by the glorious fresh bounty of summer by the sea. In the last post I expounded the virtues of two delectable seafood appetizers to go with Part 1’s sparkling sangrias; Fresh oysters on the half shell with chive, cucumber and pink peppercorn mignonette, plus crostini of lobster and pea purèe with Amontillado Hollandaise sauce. In this post I present my vegetarian main course of Grilled Portobello Cheeseburgers with Baby Arugula, Avocado Herb Mash and Pickled Red Onions accompanied by Grilled Asparagus, Leeks and Fennel with Moroccan Spiced Corn on the Cob.  The star of our main event, Portobello Burgers, are all dressed up with  everywhere  to go! Their giddy grilled vege entourage is ready for a party night. Let’s go behind the scenes for an up-close and personal look at the making of the tantalizingly tasty oh-so-umami burgers. The magic is in the marinade!

Photos by Michael Marquand

Recipes by Marilinda Hodgdon

Welcome to Part 3 of our Southern Maine picnic, inspired by the glorious fresh bounty of summer by the sea. In the last post I expounded the virtues of two delectable seafood appetizers to go with Part 1’s sparkling sangrias; Fresh oysters on the half shell with chive, cucumber and pink peppercorn mignonette, plus crostini of lobster and pea purèe with Amontillado Hollandaise sauce. In this post I present my vegetarian main course of Grilled Portobello Cheeseburgers with Baby Arugula, Avocado Herb Mash and Pickled Red Onions accompanied by Grilled Asparagus, Leeks and Fennel with Moroccan Spiced Corn on the Cob.

The star of our main event, Portobello Burgers, are all dressed up with everywhere to go! Their giddy grilled vege entourage is ready for a party night. Let’s go behind the scenes for an up-close and personal look at the making of the tantalizingly tasty oh-so-umami burgers. The magic is in the marinade!

 First we must gather the  Burger Build Components,  some of which we can make ourselves. The recipes make 12 servings, but you can adjust the numbers for your own party needs.  · Portobello Mushrooms Caps-3-4 inch diameter by 1-2 inch high  · English Muffins  · Plu gras butter – softened at room temperature  · Baby Arugula Lettuce  · Havarti Cheese Slices  · Pickled Red Onions  · Avocado Herb Mash  You will want to make the Pickled Red Onions first, to give them time to rest and cool before they are called for their close-ups.

First we must gather the Burger Build Components, some of which we can make ourselves. The recipes make 12 servings, but you can adjust the numbers for your own party needs.

· Portobello Mushrooms Caps-3-4 inch diameter by 1-2 inch high

· English Muffins

· Plu gras butter – softened at room temperature

· Baby Arugula Lettuce

· Havarti Cheese Slices

· Pickled Red Onions

· Avocado Herb Mash

You will want to make the Pickled Red Onions first, to give them time to rest and cool before they are called for their close-ups.

  Pickled Red Onions    Ingredients   · 2 Small red onions, sliced into thin crescents  · 1 Cup of pomegranate juice  · ½ Cup of red wine vinegar  · ¼ Cup of honey  · ½ Teaspoon yellow mustard seeds  · ½ Teaspoon coriander seeds  · ¼ Teaspoon   sea salt  · 4 Juniper berries   Directions    1.  Bring the liquids and spices to a boil   2.  Lower the heat to a simmer and add the onions   3.  Cook for 5 minutes or less until just tender   Let cool - The onions will continue to soften while the mix cools   Next, prepare the mushroom caps for their marinade soak and subsequent grilling. You can use a charcoal or wood grill, gas grill or frying pan. Whatever is best for you, or easiest, will work. A wood fire adds a nice earthy smoky flavor component, but these babies are bursting with so much flavor that you will be thrilled either way you do it.

Pickled Red Onions

Ingredients

· 2 Small red onions, sliced into thin crescents

· 1 Cup of pomegranate juice

· ½ Cup of red wine vinegar

· ¼ Cup of honey

· ½ Teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

· ½ Teaspoon coriander seeds

· ¼ Teaspoon sea salt

· 4 Juniper berries

Directions

1. Bring the liquids and spices to a boil

2. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the onions

3. Cook for 5 minutes or less until just tender

Let cool - The onions will continue to soften while the mix cools

Next, prepare the mushroom caps for their marinade soak and subsequent grilling. You can use a charcoal or wood grill, gas grill or frying pan. Whatever is best for you, or easiest, will work. A wood fire adds a nice earthy smoky flavor component, but these babies are bursting with so much flavor that you will be thrilled either way you do it.

 Photo by Angela Olsen Mathews   Magic Marinade    Ingredients   · 1 Cup olive oil  · ¼ Cup Balsamic vinegar  · 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil  · ½ Teaspoon sea salt, or to taste  · ½ Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste   Directions   1. Whisk all of the ingredients together     Portobello Mushroom Caps    Ingredients   · 12 semi open Portobello Caps that slightly overhang the English muffins   Tip: If the mushrooms are completely opened they will be very flat with a less appealing finished look on the burger sandwich. Use the leftover mushroom stems in your morning omelet.    Directions   1. Clean the dirt from the mushroom caps being careful to  avoid  getting the gills wet.   2.  Brush both sides of Portobello mushroom caps with marinade.  3. Let them rest for 15 minutes.   4.  Prepare the rest of the components  before  you cook the mushroom caps.   5.  Grill the rounded side on medium heat until tender, 3 minutes.   6.  Flip the cap to the gill side and add a slice of Havarti cheese slice to the round side.   7.  Cook for another minute or less. Do not let the cheese get too melted. It will continue melting after it is off the heat.  8. Place the cheese-covered caps onto a plate and place in your building station.  The next step is to prepare the Avocado Herb Mash.

Photo by Angela Olsen Mathews

Magic Marinade

Ingredients

· 1 Cup olive oil

· ¼ Cup Balsamic vinegar

· 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil

· ½ Teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

· ½ Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Directions

1. Whisk all of the ingredients together

Portobello Mushroom Caps

Ingredients

· 12 semi open Portobello Caps that slightly overhang the English muffins

Tip: If the mushrooms are completely opened they will be very flat with a less appealing finished look on the burger sandwich. Use the leftover mushroom stems in your morning omelet.

Directions

1. Clean the dirt from the mushroom caps being careful to avoid getting the gills wet.

2. Brush both sides of Portobello mushroom caps with marinade.

3. Let them rest for 15 minutes.

4. Prepare the rest of the components before you cook the mushroom caps.

5. Grill the rounded side on medium heat until tender, 3 minutes.

6. Flip the cap to the gill side and add a slice of Havarti cheese slice to the round side.

7. Cook for another minute or less. Do not let the cheese get too melted. It will continue melting after it is off the heat.

8. Place the cheese-covered caps onto a plate and place in your building station.

The next step is to prepare the Avocado Herb Mash.

  Avocado Herb Mash    Ingredients   · 1 Ripe avocado  · ½ Lemon for juicing  · 2 Tablespoons of chopped chives  · 2 Tablespoons of minced fresh Italian parsley  · ½ Teaspoon freshly ground white pepper  · Pinch of sea salt to taste   Directions    1.  Mash the avocado with the lemon juice, leaving at bit of chunky texture.  2. Add the herbs and spices into mashed avocado and mix well.  Wash and dry the baby arugula and prepare the English Muffins to get ready for your build.     English Muffins   · 12 English muffins  · 2 Sticks or ½ pound softened (room temperature) European Style Plu Gras Butter   Tip: I sometimes use 1:1 unsalted:salted, depending on how salty you make the rest of your ingredients.   Grill the mushroom caps.

Avocado Herb Mash

Ingredients

· 1 Ripe avocado

· ½ Lemon for juicing

· 2 Tablespoons of chopped chives

· 2 Tablespoons of minced fresh Italian parsley

· ½ Teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

· Pinch of sea salt to taste

Directions

1. Mash the avocado with the lemon juice, leaving at bit of chunky texture.

2. Add the herbs and spices into mashed avocado and mix well.

Wash and dry the baby arugula and prepare the English Muffins to get ready for your build.

English Muffins

· 12 English muffins

· 2 Sticks or ½ pound softened (room temperature) European Style Plu Gras Butter

Tip: I sometimes use 1:1 unsalted:salted, depending on how salty you make the rest of your ingredients.

Grill the mushroom caps.

  Burger Build    1.  Split the English muffins and toast both halves.   2.  Spread the bottom muffin half with softened unsalted plugras butter.   3.  Add a small handful of baby arugula onto the butter on the muffin bottom.   4.  Spread the Avocado Herb Mash on the top muffin half   5.  Place the cheese topped mushroom on the arugula   6.  Top the cheese with about a tablespoon of pickled onions  7. Add the top muffin half to finish the burger build

Burger Build

1. Split the English muffins and toast both halves.

2. Spread the bottom muffin half with softened unsalted plugras butter.

3. Add a small handful of baby arugula onto the butter on the muffin bottom.

4. Spread the Avocado Herb Mash on the top muffin half

5. Place the cheese topped mushroom on the arugula

6. Top the cheese with about a tablespoon of pickled onions

7. Add the top muffin half to finish the burger build

 To accompany our Portobello Burger star is the beautiful and delicious medley choir of  Grilled Vegetables and Moroccan Spiced Corn on the Cob.

To accompany our Portobello Burger star is the beautiful and delicious medley choir of Grilled Vegetables and Moroccan Spiced Corn on the Cob.

 The first step in preparing the vegetables is to ready them for the grill. The is corn is cooked with the husk on to impart the flavor of the char-roasting husks into the fresh and delicate kernels of sweet just picked corn, without scorching or drying them out. This is done by carefully pulling back each leaf, leaving them attached to the cob. Once accomplished, remove the silk. Delicately smooth the husk leaves back to their original positions on the cob. Soaking the cobs in water, restored of their husks, will prevent too much burning, allowing the sweet kernels to steam to perfect tender juiciness.    The leeks are split in half or quarts lengthwise, depending on their girth, to allow washing of their sandy interiors. The fennel bulbs, stems and fronds are also sliced lengthwise into halves, quarters or eighths, depending on their bulb circumference, for even cooking. The asparagus are trimmed of the woody ends of their stalks for even cooking and tender eating. If they are very large asparagus, they will need an additional pairing, with a vegetable peeler, of the thickest part of the ends.

The first step in preparing the vegetables is to ready them for the grill. The is corn is cooked with the husk on to impart the flavor of the char-roasting husks into the fresh and delicate kernels of sweet just picked corn, without scorching or drying them out. This is done by carefully pulling back each leaf, leaving them attached to the cob. Once accomplished, remove the silk. Delicately smooth the husk leaves back to their original positions on the cob. Soaking the cobs in water, restored of their husks, will prevent too much burning, allowing the sweet kernels to steam to perfect tender juiciness.

The leeks are split in half or quarts lengthwise, depending on their girth, to allow washing of their sandy interiors. The fennel bulbs, stems and fronds are also sliced lengthwise into halves, quarters or eighths, depending on their bulb circumference, for even cooking. The asparagus are trimmed of the woody ends of their stalks for even cooking and tender eating. If they are very large asparagus, they will need an additional pairing, with a vegetable peeler, of the thickest part of the ends.

 The preserved half lemons are grilled with their cut faces down. Most directions for  preserved lemons  call for them to be cut lengthwise in quarters and require a month to be ready. I preserve mine for 2-3 weeks cut into halves for this presentation and better grilling. You can find many recipes for preserved lemons online, or buy them in jars at gourmet specialty shops or Middle Eastern stores. Recipes often say to use just the rinds, but I often use the whole fruit in my recipes. They are very easy to make. If you can’t find Meyers lemons, just use what you can find. Myers lemons are sweeter and less acidic. In this recipe it does not matter.

The preserved half lemons are grilled with their cut faces down. Most directions for preserved lemons call for them to be cut lengthwise in quarters and require a month to be ready. I preserve mine for 2-3 weeks cut into halves for this presentation and better grilling. You can find many recipes for preserved lemons online, or buy them in jars at gourmet specialty shops or Middle Eastern stores. Recipes often say to use just the rinds, but I often use the whole fruit in my recipes. They are very easy to make. If you can’t find Meyers lemons, just use what you can find. Myers lemons are sweeter and less acidic. In this recipe it does not matter.

  Grilled Vegetables    Ingredients   · Large Asparagus  · Leeks split into halves lengthwise  · Fennel Stalks split into quarters or eighths lengthwise  · Corn on the Cob with husks attached  · Preserved Lemon Halves  · Olive Oil enough to lightly coat the asparagus, leeks and fennel  ·  Marash Pepper Flakes   · Sea salt to taste     Directions   1. Lightly brush asparagus, leeks and fennel with slightly seasoned olive oil to prevent sticking to the grill.  2. Add a sprinkle of Marash pepper flakes for extra color and flavor  3. Carefully pull back the husks of the corncobs, leaving them attached.  4. Remove the silks from the corn  5. Replace the cornhusks onto the corncobs, one by one to cover the kernels well  6. Soak the corncobs so that they resist burning on the grill  7. With a watchful eye, on medium high heat, grill the vegetables and corn, turning as needed until they reach the desired doneness, each vegetable will take a different timing. The fennel will take the longest. The corn takes less time than you think.  Do not over cook the delicate asparagus!   8. Grill the preserved lemons with their cut sides down until grill marks are distinctive.  When the corn is finished roasting, remove the husks to ready them for their adornment of amazingly delectable  Marash Pepper Herbed Goat Cheese & Greek Yogurt Sauce.

Grilled Vegetables

Ingredients

· Large Asparagus

· Leeks split into halves lengthwise

· Fennel Stalks split into quarters or eighths lengthwise

· Corn on the Cob with husks attached

· Preserved Lemon Halves

· Olive Oil enough to lightly coat the asparagus, leeks and fennel

· Marash Pepper Flakes

· Sea salt to taste

Directions

1. Lightly brush asparagus, leeks and fennel with slightly seasoned olive oil to prevent sticking to the grill.

2. Add a sprinkle of Marash pepper flakes for extra color and flavor

3. Carefully pull back the husks of the corncobs, leaving them attached.

4. Remove the silks from the corn

5. Replace the cornhusks onto the corncobs, one by one to cover the kernels well

6. Soak the corncobs so that they resist burning on the grill

7. With a watchful eye, on medium high heat, grill the vegetables and corn, turning as needed until they reach the desired doneness, each vegetable will take a different timing. The fennel will take the longest. The corn takes less time than you think. Do not over cook the delicate asparagus!

8. Grill the preserved lemons with their cut sides down until grill marks are distinctive.

When the corn is finished roasting, remove the husks to ready them for their adornment of amazingly delectable Marash Pepper Herbed Goat Cheese & Greek Yogurt Sauce.

Overhead Portobello Burger and Grilled Fennel Leeks and Presrved Lemon on plate smaller.jpg
  Marash Pepper Herbed Goat Cheese & Greek Yogurt Sauce for Grilled Corn    Ingredients   · 8 Ounces Plain Whole Milk Greek Yogurt  · 4 Ounces Soft Mild Spreadable Goat Cheese  · 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil  · 2 Tablespoons minced Chives  · 2 Tablespoons minced Italian Parsley  · 1 Tablespoon minced Fresh Mint Leaves  · 1 Tablespoon minced Preserved Lemon Rind  · 1 Tablespoon preserved Lemon Juice/Pulp  · 1 - 1½ Teaspoons Marash Pepper or Crushed Red Pepper Flakes  · 1 Teaspoon ground Coriander  · Crumbled Feta for Garnish -  Feta is used here to replace Jben, the commonly used Moroccan Cheese.      Directions   1. Mix everything  except the Feta  together thoroughly.  2. Pull the and discard the husks from the grilled corn cobs.  3. Roll the corncobs in the spiced sauce to coat each thoroughly.  4. Crumble Feta to garnish the sauced grilled corncobs.    My next post, Part 4 of the  Picnic at Coastal Maine’s Mead Meadow  is the finale to the feast. It will feature my homemade Maine blueberry cheesecake ice cream popsicles with a do-it-yourself dark chocolate magic shell coating. A perfect finish to a sumptuous summer supper al fresco!

Marash Pepper Herbed Goat Cheese & Greek Yogurt Sauce for Grilled Corn

Ingredients

· 8 Ounces Plain Whole Milk Greek Yogurt

· 4 Ounces Soft Mild Spreadable Goat Cheese

· 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

· 2 Tablespoons minced Chives

· 2 Tablespoons minced Italian Parsley

· 1 Tablespoon minced Fresh Mint Leaves

· 1 Tablespoon minced Preserved Lemon Rind

· 1 Tablespoon preserved Lemon Juice/Pulp

· 1 - 1½ Teaspoons Marash Pepper or Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

· 1 Teaspoon ground Coriander

· Crumbled Feta for Garnish - Feta is used here to replace Jben, the commonly used Moroccan Cheese.

Directions

1. Mix everything except the Feta together thoroughly.

2. Pull the and discard the husks from the grilled corn cobs.

3. Roll the corncobs in the spiced sauce to coat each thoroughly.

4. Crumble Feta to garnish the sauced grilled corncobs.

My next post, Part 4 of the Picnic at Coastal Maine’s Mead Meadow is the finale to the feast. It will feature my homemade Maine blueberry cheesecake ice cream popsicles with a do-it-yourself dark chocolate magic shell coating. A perfect finish to a sumptuous summer supper al fresco!

 Mead Meadow Main House and Patio  A special heartfelt thanks to Angela Olsen Matthews and her husband, Peter Matthews, at  Mead Meadow  for their thoughtful and gracious generosity and hard work in hosting our scrumptious and serene summer picnic. You can visit Angela’s Instagram page @ MeadMeadow      About Mead Meadow    We were invited to historic Mead Meadow, in picturesque Kittery Maine, to shoot our delightful summer outdoor meal. This water front paradise is a restored 140 year old farmstead, originally a 20 acre estate, was called Mead Summer House. Included: the main house, a horse and buggy carriage house, which is now a guest cottage, a boat house and the original well. The lovingly restored buildings are now nestled on 4 acres of manicured grass surrounded by wild and cultivated flowers, raspberry bush stands, shrubbery and original trees. The garden shed was torn down and its beautifully weathered old New England stones have been transformed into a spacious patio surrounded by potted herbs and flourishing flowers, with a bucolic view of the rear grounds and cove.

Mead Meadow Main House and Patio

A special heartfelt thanks to Angela Olsen Matthews and her husband, Peter Matthews, at Mead Meadow for their thoughtful and gracious generosity and hard work in hosting our scrumptious and serene summer picnic. You can visit Angela’s Instagram page @MeadMeadow

About Mead Meadow

We were invited to historic Mead Meadow, in picturesque Kittery Maine, to shoot our delightful summer outdoor meal. This water front paradise is a restored 140 year old farmstead, originally a 20 acre estate, was called Mead Summer House. Included: the main house, a horse and buggy carriage house, which is now a guest cottage, a boat house and the original well. The lovingly restored buildings are now nestled on 4 acres of manicured grass surrounded by wild and cultivated flowers, raspberry bush stands, shrubbery and original trees. The garden shed was torn down and its beautifully weathered old New England stones have been transformed into a spacious patio surrounded by potted herbs and flourishing flowers, with a bucolic view of the rear grounds and cove.

A Jubilant July Picnic at Coastal Maine’s Mead Meadow

Part 2: Seafood Appetizers

 

 Photos by Michael Marquand  Recipes by Marilinda Hodgdon  Welcome to Part 2 of our Southern Maine picnic, inspired by the glorious fresh bounty of July by the sea. In the last post I presented the Red, White and Blue Sparkling Prosecco and Lambrusco Sangrias to sip with our seafood appetizers. In this post I present the appetizers: my versions of oysters on the half shell with mignonette sauce and lobster claw and pea puree crostini.  The fresh oysters on the half shell are adorned with a colorful mignonette sauce, made of freshly snipped chives from Mead Meadow’s herb garden, minced mini cucumbers, crushed pink peppercorns and Moscatel wine vinegar.

Photos by Michael Marquand

Recipes by Marilinda Hodgdon

Welcome to Part 2 of our Southern Maine picnic, inspired by the glorious fresh bounty of July by the sea. In the last post I presented the Red, White and Blue Sparkling Prosecco and Lambrusco Sangrias to sip with our seafood appetizers. In this post I present the appetizers: my versions of oysters on the half shell with mignonette sauce and lobster claw and pea puree crostini.

The fresh oysters on the half shell are adorned with a colorful mignonette sauce, made of freshly snipped chives from Mead Meadow’s herb garden, minced mini cucumbers, crushed pink peppercorns and Moscatel wine vinegar.

 The sourdough crostini slices are loaded with a pureè of shallot and fresh English peas. The freshly caught local lobster claws nestle into the pea pureè . The claws are draped with lemony Amontillado Hollandaise sauce and are garnished with fresh pea tendrils. The local seafood vender graciously sold us just the claws we wanted by simply putting our order in a couple of days ahead. Some shops carry fresh containers of just claws, since they also sell just the tails. Because we ordered ahead of time, we were able to ask them to be careful to keep the claws as intact as possible for our aesthetic purposes. Some were a little ripped or separated, but I made due by covering those spots with the sauce. Angela of Mead Meadow grew the peas herself, on my request, to make sure we would have the pods and tendrils for our shoot. In spring and early summer they are plentiful in most markets these days.

The sourdough crostini slices are loaded with a pureè of shallot and fresh English peas. The freshly caught local lobster claws nestle into the pea pureè . The claws are draped with lemony Amontillado Hollandaise sauce and are garnished with fresh pea tendrils. The local seafood vender graciously sold us just the claws we wanted by simply putting our order in a couple of days ahead. Some shops carry fresh containers of just claws, since they also sell just the tails. Because we ordered ahead of time, we were able to ask them to be careful to keep the claws as intact as possible for our aesthetic purposes. Some were a little ripped or separated, but I made due by covering those spots with the sauce. Angela of Mead Meadow grew the peas herself, on my request, to make sure we would have the pods and tendrils for our shoot. In spring and early summer they are plentiful in most markets these days.

Lobster Pea Crostini.jpg

Recipes

 Maine Oysters on the Half Shell with Mignonette of Chives, Minced Cucumbers and Crushed Pink Peppercorns

 Ingredients

·      24 small Maine Oysters

·      1 Lb. Coarse Sea Salt for presentation

Mignonette Sauce

·      1 cup of Moscatel or Sherry Wine Vinegar

·      Small Bunch of Chives

·      1 Tablespoon of Pink Peppercorns

·      One small Persian Cucumber

·      3 Medium Lemons to Make 24 Lemon Wedges

Directions

1.     Sort oysters to discard any dead.

2.     Wash oysters of any sand.

3.     Finely chop Chives.

4.     Finely mince Persian cucumbers, keeping the skin

5.     Crush the Pink Peppercorns

6.     Mix the Chives, Cucumbers and Crushed Pink Peppercorns with the Vinegar

7.     Open Oysters, reserving all liquid.

8.     Lay oysters on a bed of course salt and add the oyster liquid to the oysters.

9.     Spoon a small amount of the Mignonette sauce onto each oyster shell

 Serve immediately while cold with sparkling sangrias.

Lobster Claw Crostini with Fresh Pea Pureè and Lemony Hollandaise Sauce

 Freshly Purchased

 ·      20 Small Fresh Maine Lobster Claws

·      1-2 Sourdough Baguettes Sliced into ½ inch Diagonals

Pea Puree

Ingredients

  • 1 Pound of Fresh English Peas

  • 1 Quart of Water, Vegetable or Seafood Broth, or a mix of your choice

  • 2 Medium Shallots

  • ¼ cup of Amontillado Sherry

  • 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt

  • ½ Teaspoon Ground White Pepper

Directions

  1. Thinly slice the shallots.

  2. Sort the peas for any withered items.

  3. Wash the peas.

  4. In a medium large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil.

  5. Add the shallots and peas.

  6. When the peas are tender and still bright green, remove them & shallots to cold water to stop the cooking and preserve the color. Reserve a cup of the cooking liquid in a measuring cup.

  7. With a slotted spoon or spider add the cooled peas back into the cooled empty pot with the sherry and pepper.

  8. With an immersion blender pureè the peas, shallots and sherry, adding in cooking liquid as needed, until smooth.

  9. Season with additional sea salt & white pepper to taste, being very careful to allow for salt in the lobster and hollandaise.

Marilinda’s Hollandaise Sauce

 Ingredients

  • 4 free range organic egg yolks

  • ½ cup or more of plu gras (European Style) unsalted butter

  • ½ freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste

  • 1 Tbs. Amontillado Sherry

  • 1/8 tsp of ground cayenne pepper

  • Pinch of sea salt to taste

Directions

  1. Beat egg yolks, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and salt together.

  2. Melt butter in a small pan over very low heat.

  3. Slowly whisk the butter into the egg yolk mixture until it is all incorporated.

  4. Keep whisking constantly until the egg yolks thicken the sauce to the desired consistency.

  5. Briskly whisk in warm sherry to flavor the sauce.

  6. Use the warm sauce immediately.

Tip: To thin and reheat congealed sauce, whisk in a tiny bit of warm water. Garnish             with fresh pea shoots and tendrils.

 To Assemble Crostini

  1. Slice the baguettes.

  2. Spread each slice with about 1-2 tablespoons of pea puree, depending on their size.

  3. Add one claw to each pureè topped slice.

  4. Spoon hollandaise over each of the claws

  5. Garnish with peas shoots and/or tendrils.

Stay tuned for my next post, Part 3 of our Picnic at Coastal Maine’s Mead Meadow. It will feature the main course of cheesy portobello burgers crowned by pickled red onions, avocado mash and baby arugula. The grilled vegetable sides are asparagus, fennel and leeks, accompanied by Moroccan spiced, grilled in their husks, corn on the cob.

Part 4, the finale to the feast, is homemade Maine blueberry cheesecake ice cream popsicles with a do-it-yourself dark chocolate magic shell coating.

 

 Mead Meadow Boat House  A special heartfelt thanks to Angela Olsen Matthews and her husband, Peter Matthews, at  Mead Meadow  for their thoughtful and gracious generosity and hard work in hosting our scrumptious and serene summer picnic. You can visit Angela’s Instagram page @ MeadMeadow   About Mead Meadow   We were invited to historic Mead Meadow, in picturesque Kittery Maine, to shoot our delightful summer outdoor meal. This water front paradise is a restored 140 year old farmstead, originally a 20 acre estate, was called Mead Summer House. Included: the main house, a horse and buggy carriage house, which is now a guest cottage, a boat house and the original well. The lovingly restored buildings are now nestled on 4 acres of manicured grass surrounded by wild and cultivated flowers, raspberry bush stands

Mead Meadow Boat House

A special heartfelt thanks to Angela Olsen Matthews and her husband, Peter Matthews, at Mead Meadow for their thoughtful and gracious generosity and hard work in hosting our scrumptious and serene summer picnic. You can visit Angela’s Instagram page @MeadMeadow

About Mead Meadow

We were invited to historic Mead Meadow, in picturesque Kittery Maine, to shoot our delightful summer outdoor meal. This water front paradise is a restored 140 year old farmstead, originally a 20 acre estate, was called Mead Summer House. Included: the main house, a horse and buggy carriage house, which is now a guest cottage, a boat house and the original well. The lovingly restored buildings are now nestled on 4 acres of manicured grass surrounded by wild and cultivated flowers, raspberry bush stands

A Jubilant July Picnic at Coastal Maine’s Mead Meadow

Part 1: Red, White & Blue Sangrias

 

 Photos by Michael Marquand  Recipes by Marilinda Hodgdon  Welcome to our Southern Maine picnic, inspired by the glorious fresh bounty of July by the sea. We begin with sparkling fruity Prosecco and Lambrusco Sangrias to sip with fresh oysters on the half shell, adorned with a colorful mignonette sauce, stunning Crostini appetizers of fresh pea pureè topped with local lobster claws and lemony Amontillado Hollandaise sauce. The main course is scrumptious cheesy Portobello burgers crowned by pickled red onions, avocado mash and baby arugula. Garden fresh grilled vegetable sides of asparagus, fennel and leeks are accompanied by Moroccan spiced corn on the cob. The finale to the feast is homemade Maine blueberry cheesecake ice cream popsicles with a do-it-yourself dark chocolate magic shell coating.    In this post, I am introducing my  Red, White and Blue Sparkling Sangrias  with their descriptions, ingredients and preparation directions. Each subsequent blog post will feature the next course of the meal.  Part 2  showcases the picnic’s appetizers, toasted by these sensational sangrias.

Photos by Michael Marquand

Recipes by Marilinda Hodgdon

Welcome to our Southern Maine picnic, inspired by the glorious fresh bounty of July by the sea. We begin with sparkling fruity Prosecco and Lambrusco Sangrias to sip with fresh oysters on the half shell, adorned with a colorful mignonette sauce, stunning Crostini appetizers of fresh pea pureè topped with local lobster claws and lemony Amontillado Hollandaise sauce. The main course is scrumptious cheesy Portobello burgers crowned by pickled red onions, avocado mash and baby arugula. Garden fresh grilled vegetable sides of asparagus, fennel and leeks are accompanied by Moroccan spiced corn on the cob. The finale to the feast is homemade Maine blueberry cheesecake ice cream popsicles with a do-it-yourself dark chocolate magic shell coating.

In this post, I am introducing my Red, White and Blue Sparkling Sangrias with their descriptions, ingredients and preparation directions. Each subsequent blog post will feature the next course of the meal. Part 2 showcases the picnic’s appetizers, toasted by these sensational sangrias.

  Red, White and Blue Sparkling Sangrias     Sparkling wines are so very festive and refreshing. I am particularly fond of  Prosecco , a white Italian favorite from the Veneto region. It is not too sweet, not too dry, and not too expensive. Perfect for fruity summer sangria. I added  Lambrusco , a light and bubbly red Northern Italian wine, to balance the party’s colors, flavors and personal pleasure.    I paired the Prosecco with strawberries and ripe nectarines. The Lambrusco is paired with ravishingly beautiful freshly picked raspberries and blackberries. The nectarines are cut to bite sized pieces and skewered with small strawberries to adorn the white wine glasses. The raspberries and blackberries are whimsically skewered to bejewel the red wine glasses. Remaining fruit medleys from each group bathe in their own separate saucers of cognac to macerate for an hour or two.    The skewers and macerations can be done ahead, covered and refrigerated, until ready to serve. I used one pint of each berry and 4 nectarines for one bottle each of the bubblies. For the maceration, use just enough cognac, or your favorite unsweetened spirit, to cover the bathing fruity beauties in their shallow bowls.    When serving, add a small ladle of the red or white maceration concoctions to the bottom of their designated glasses, and garnish with a skewer of the same fruits. Fill each glass, upon request, with the desired fizzy flavor.

Red, White and Blue Sparkling Sangrias

Sparkling wines are so very festive and refreshing. I am particularly fond of Prosecco, a white Italian favorite from the Veneto region. It is not too sweet, not too dry, and not too expensive. Perfect for fruity summer sangria. I added Lambrusco, a light and bubbly red Northern Italian wine, to balance the party’s colors, flavors and personal pleasure.

I paired the Prosecco with strawberries and ripe nectarines. The Lambrusco is paired with ravishingly beautiful freshly picked raspberries and blackberries. The nectarines are cut to bite sized pieces and skewered with small strawberries to adorn the white wine glasses. The raspberries and blackberries are whimsically skewered to bejewel the red wine glasses. Remaining fruit medleys from each group bathe in their own separate saucers of cognac to macerate for an hour or two.

The skewers and macerations can be done ahead, covered and refrigerated, until ready to serve. I used one pint of each berry and 4 nectarines for one bottle each of the bubblies. For the maceration, use just enough cognac, or your favorite unsweetened spirit, to cover the bathing fruity beauties in their shallow bowls.

When serving, add a small ladle of the red or white maceration concoctions to the bottom of their designated glasses, and garnish with a skewer of the same fruits. Fill each glass, upon request, with the desired fizzy flavor.

Prosecco Sangria.jpg
 Stay tuned for  Part 2  of our  Picnic at Coastal Maine’s Mead Meadow  featuring freshly shucked Maine oysters on the half shell, adorned with colorful mignonette sauce, and stunning local Lobster Crostini appetizers of fresh pea pureè topped with lemony Amontillado Hollandaise sauce.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Picnic at Coastal Maine’s Mead Meadow featuring freshly shucked Maine oysters on the half shell, adorned with colorful mignonette sauce, and stunning local Lobster Crostini appetizers of fresh pea pureè topped with lemony Amontillado Hollandaise sauce.

 A special heartfelt thanks to Angela Olsen Matthews and her husband, Peter Matthews, at  Mead Meadow  for their thoughtful and gracious generosity and hard work in hosting our scrumptious and serene summer picnic. You can visit Angela’s Instagram page @ MeadMeadow     About Mead Meadow   We were invited to historic Mead Meadow, in picturesque Kittery Maine, to shoot our delightful summer outdoor meal. This water front paradise is a restored 140 year old farmstead, originally a 20 acre estate, was called Mead Summer House. Included: the main house, a horse and buggy carriage house, which is now a guest cottage, a boat house and the original well. The lovingly restored buildings are now nestled on 4 acres of manicured grass surrounded by wild and cultivated flowers, raspberry bush stands, shrubbery and original trees. The garden shed was torn down and its beautifully weathered old New England stones have been transformed into a spacious patio surrounded by potted herbs and flourishing flowers, with a bucolic view of the rear grounds and cove.

A special heartfelt thanks to Angela Olsen Matthews and her husband, Peter Matthews, at Mead Meadow for their thoughtful and gracious generosity and hard work in hosting our scrumptious and serene summer picnic. You can visit Angela’s Instagram page @MeadMeadow

About Mead Meadow

We were invited to historic Mead Meadow, in picturesque Kittery Maine, to shoot our delightful summer outdoor meal. This water front paradise is a restored 140 year old farmstead, originally a 20 acre estate, was called Mead Summer House. Included: the main house, a horse and buggy carriage house, which is now a guest cottage, a boat house and the original well. The lovingly restored buildings are now nestled on 4 acres of manicured grass surrounded by wild and cultivated flowers, raspberry bush stands, shrubbery and original trees. The garden shed was torn down and its beautifully weathered old New England stones have been transformed into a spacious patio surrounded by potted herbs and flourishing flowers, with a bucolic view of the rear grounds and cove.

Paella Pizzazz

Paella Pizzazz

The first time I had a really great paella was in Majorca Spain, where every kind of seafood available could be obtained freshly caught, having never been frozen. The flavor and texture is incomparable to our once frozen varieties. The shrimp and baby squid quite literally melted in my mouth.

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