Maine summer food at its peak
Well, summer in Maine is in full swing, folks. Now – what's for suppa?
It’s a lot easier to come up with something ridiculously delicious during the summer, when fresh stuff abounds, than in the middle of January, when a lot of that stuff is frozen, or unavailable.
Cases in point: Corn on the cob, blueberries, and big, fat, Maine scallops. The scallops are really usually harvested during the winter months, but if you get them the day they were picked or dragged off the bottom of the ocean, and freeze them, as I did, (or as my aunt Ida and uncle G.C. did for me), you won’t know the difference.
According to one of Maine's leading authorities on scallops, Togue Brawn, there is no such thing as a dry, or diver scallop, so don't bother asking for either when you go to the fish market. Just ask for Maine scallops. It will show them you know your scallops.
So. I took six big Maine scallops out of the freezer. I had gotten some native corn from Spears farm stand in Waldoboro, and managed to pilfer a quart of blueberries from my ex-friend’s field in Cushing. Hopefully he won’t see this :-). Wait till you read THAT chapter in the memoirs. That chapter alone should make it a bestseller. Scandalous!!
I started thinking about some good pasta with olive oil, roasted garlic, fresh squeezed lemon juice and ricotta, with a handful of grated Parmesan thrown in. I actually pictured it (pretty) and took an imaginary forkful (toothsome). I do that a lot. Virtual eating.
I went to Hannaford and grabbed a lemon and some whole milk ricotta. According to all the latest health and weight-loss news, whole milk and whole milk products are supposedly better for you, and less fattening, than skim or reduced fat ones – this month anyway.
usnews.com says “it's time to skip skim to lose weight, cut your risk of chronic diseases and live a bit healthier.” The website lists five major, surprising benefits of choosing full-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream. I kid you not. Google it. “Fat does not make you fat. No, not even dairy fat,” it claims.
And my sister can vouch for it. She's always up on the latest health news, and she switched over to whole milk, full-fat everything, a while ago. She's svelte. She also drinks a smoothie every morning with spinach, banana, peach, watermelon (or whatever fruits are on hand), plain Greek yogurt, almond milk, chia seeds, organic liquid aloe, walnuts, ¼ cup oatmeal, and ready for this? A hard boiled egg. Yeah!
Anyway, back at Hannaford, I grabbed a box of Pillsbury pie crusts. (I've actually come the conclusion that it’s really not as good as homemade, but it was 80 degrees and sunny out, and I still had to mow the lawn and have a manhattan on the deck, so I didn't have the time or the inclination to make my own crust ... FYI).
I went home and threw the pie together. Four cups of blueberries with around ½ cup of sugar and ¼ cup flour and a pinch of salt mixed in, dumped into the bottom crust, with a few pats of butter scattered over it, then attached the top crust, cut some slits, and threw it in the oven.
Then I mowed the lawn.
It was 5:00! Manhattan time! Instead of a manhattan that day, I poured a shot of Basil Heyden’s bourbon and a splash of blood orange bitters over an ice cube, in an adorable little Heisey glass that I got at the Southport fair a couple weeks ago. I threw in a few frozen, pilfered blueberries, and sat on the deck and admired the newly mowed lawn.
Then I went in and took the pie out of the oven, and sautéed some garlic in olive oil and stirred in a big spoonful of high fat ricotta, some grated Parmesan, some fresh squeezed lemon juice and a healthy pinch of salt. I cooked the good pasta and stirred in the creamy, lemony stuff.
I got the corn boiling and dredged the big, beautiful scallops in some flour with a little salt mixed in, then sautéed them in some olive oil with a chunk of butter thrown in, till golden brown on each side. I threw them on a plate, turned down the heat, and squeezed some lemon juice into the pan. It deglazed with the golden brown chunks left from the butter, oil and flour, and I scraped every last bit of that stuff over the scallops.
I poured a glass of halfway decent cold rosé (I almost got a bottle of Whispering Angel, but just couldn't bring myself to spend the $22. I'm cheap, remember?) and tuned into my present Netflix addiction, “Shameless,” while I ate.
Golden brown pan seared scallops with lemon deglaze, native corn on the cob, and good pasta with garlic, lemon and ricotta. And blueberry pie. It’s summer in Maine!
P.S. “Shameless” makes my upcoming memoirs seem like a children’s book. Kind of. Except for a few of the chapters :-).