My Favorite Mai Tai


My friend Susan Axelrod is an online content producer for MaineToday.com and posts centered around delicious food and drink. And you know that’s right up my alley. So I saw this post earlier today and knew I had to create my version of a classic favorite, Mai Tai!

I happen to be into infusing spirits with fresh fruits. I have a mason jar in the fridge with some dark rum. It’s a little too heavy, so I decided to add some light rum to it (when from the start, I should have just used my favorite Mt. Gay which is a nice medium golden rum). So when I read that the recipe Susan posted uses a light and a dark rum, I thought, “perfect!” because that’s essentially what my infusion is. I didn’t have orgeat syrup on hand, however, since it’s a little sweet, citrusy and floral, my ideal substitute would be St. Germain. It has the most beautiful aroma reminiscent of sweet honeysuckle and roses, but not too heavy or perfume-like at all.  And those who know me, KNOW that St. Germain is my favorite addition to so many cocktails. It adds a certain je nails se quoi that leaves you wondering!

So my version went like this:

4 ounces of pineapple infused rum (fresh pineapple chunks, fill mason jar half with light rum, half with dark, such as Goslings, or all Mt. Gay, and let sit for a week or two)

1 1/2 ounces St. Germain

the juice from 1 lime

the juice from 1/4 wedge of an orange

the juice from a 1/4 wedge of a lemon

Shake over ice, pour into a chilled glass and serve it up! Garnish with lime peel and a pineapple wedge. To lighten it up? Add just a splash of club soda.

Thanks for the inspiration, Susan! Next time you and Ted come over, let’s have “Chopped Cocktails”! :)

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Bacon, Onion, Fig Jam Anyone?


So this past Sunday, I did a food and wine pairing at Cellardoor Winery in Lincolnville, Maine. It’s a gorgeous vineyard with a stunning farmhouse, tasting room and dining area that makes you feel like you must be in California wine country. But we’re in the beautiful state of Maine. With delicious wines. I love this place. I was very excited to be cooking some bites to pair with their wines for their regular pairings on Sundays.

I decided to make three bites: First Bite:

Fresh Lobster, Sriracha Aioli, Red Onion, Lemon Zest and Fresh Dill on Crostini

Second Bite: Creamy Leek, Fontina and Parmesan Fondue on Crostini topped with Lobster and Sherry Butter

Third Bite: Bacon, Onion, Fig Jam with Blue Cheese on Crostini (pictured below in the middle)

Bacon Onion & Fig Jam makes about 1 1/2 cups

1/2 stick butter

3 medium onions

diced 8 slices thick cut slab bacon

diced 4 fresh figs (dried are fine as well) plus 4 dried figs, diced

3-4 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 tablespoons Fiore Fig Balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon Fiore Espresso Balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons whole grain mustard (I used my favorite – Maille)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

Sauté onions with butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat until they begin to brown, about 45 minutes. While the onions are cooking, cook the bacon until it’s just shy of crisp, you want some “bend” to remain (about 80% done). Then add to the onions, adding some of the grease, but not all. Then stir in remaining ingredients and simmer on low for about 20 minutes. Taste after about 10 minutes. If it’s not sweet enough, add sugar.  If it’s not tart enough, add more Balsamic. If you want more mustard for more of a savory kick, add more. This is where you cook to your taste!  Blue Cheese Butter (I used Gorgonzola) 8 ounces of blue or Gorgonzola cheese 1/2 stick of butter Let cheese and butter sit at room temperature to soften. Mix with paddle attachment in stand mixer or food processor (or by hand!) until well combined. Baguette slices (fresh or baked until crisp) Top with blue cheese butter and a spoonful of bacon jam. It’s a perfect couple of sweet-savory bites! But we all agreed, pair it with a nice bold, fruit forward red!

Oh, and by the way, the other two bites were Maine lobster…….stay tuned for those recipes!

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Fresh grapefruit, anyone?


One of my favorite recipes (and inn guests as well) in my cookbook The Art of Breakfast is the Grapefruit Brûlée. And somehow I always find myself inspired to transform breakfast creations into cocktails for the “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” part of the day. I think it comes from the beautiful colors that fresh fruits provide. The brûlée recipe is a cold grapefruit half, a chilled vanilla cream sauce and it gets topped with raw sugar and torched (I love to use my torch). So how did I transform this into a cocktail? Quite simply. Fresh squeezed ruby red grapefruit, vanilla vodka and a brown sugar rim. DELICIOUS!

Grapefruit Brûlé Cocktail

Grapefruit Brûlé Cocktail

Ah, the Maine Black Trumpet mushroom…


After a short 15 minute walk into the woods behind our house I stumbled upon these beauties! I’ve never harvested any mushrooms before but this variety was obvious to me. I knew what I had in front of me, and yes, I did a bit of a happy dance! IMG_1173 IMG_1177 So many things to make with them! A nice sauté with shallots and butter to accompany grilled salmon tomorrow night is on tap. But I would love to do a mushroom bisque with these too. And tempura mushrooms! I’ll report back after my next foraging excursion…where? I cannot tell!

Wild Maine Blueberry Sour Cream White Chocolate Tart!


Since we are in the midst of the wild Maine blueberry season, I thought I’d share this post from a couple years ago (yep, I forgot about it and think I need to make it again!). The filling uses all fresh, wild Maine blueberries but I garnished the top with some out of state (frankly because I forgot to reserve some Maine berries for the top!).

The recipe is on the WCSH Portland website. Enjoy!

blueberry tart

More bacon onion jam, please!


You all know I love my crusty bread. And cheese. And toppings to go with. Particularly with my cocktails. But this is one of THE absolute best toppings I’ve ever made.

I first caramelized some onions in plenty of butter over medium low heat for almost an hour, until they were caramelized and naturally sweetened by the process, not by adding sugar.

In another sauté pan, I cooked thick cut diced bacon until just before the crispy stage. Then I added the bacon to the onion pan, added maybe a couple tablespoons of a fig Balsamic from Fiore, a couple teaspoons of raw sugar and let that simmer together for about 15 minutes. Let this rest for a few minutes before serving over blue cheese topped crostini. The perfect sweet – savory bite!

Heaven. But I warn you, it’s addictive!

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Savory Parmesan and Scallion Cheese Puffs

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IMG_0525What do you get when you combine Kerry Gold’s garlic herb butter, flour, water, eggs, Parmesan and Scallions? Delicious little savory biscuits that would go well with an egg dish, or cheese and wine in the afternoon! They’re almost a cross between a popover and a savory pate au choux. My friend Marcia gave me her recipe for Golden Raisin Buns and this is just my savory adaptation!

Ingredients:

1 stick of Kerry Gold’s garlic and herb butter

1 cup of water

4 eggs

1 cup of flour

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

About 3 stalks of scallions, sliced.

Put the butter and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, add the flour and mix with a wooden spoon by hand for 1 minute. Then add to stand mixer and beat, adding one egg at a time, until fully incorporated. The batter should be a bit shiny. Then add the cheese and scallions and drop by spoonfuls onto a lined cookie sheet, bake 30-35 minutes at 350 until golden brown. Serve warm with butter.