Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine


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Maine Delicious: The Holy Donut

With the Old Port Festival in full swing this weekend, visitors to Portland, Maine are presented with the perfect opportunity to patronize The Holy Donut at its Old Port location, 7 Exchange Street.  And I can assure you, you won’t leave disappointed (or hungry).  That is, if you can get there before the donuts run out (they are wildly popular).

Side note: I’ve had an ongoing, internal debate throughout the writing of this post about whether I should write “donut” or “doughnut.” As the holder of a degree in English, the stress of not using the dictionary-approved spelling of “doughnut” is no small matter – but, I’ve decided to go with “donut.”  For all of the obvious reasons – such as matching the business name.

My first Holy Donut experience was last November, while Christmas shopping in the Old Port with my husband, my mom, and my sister.  There is so much to love about this business (I learned most of what I’m about to share with you from their website, and I highly recommend checking out their videos), and I most admire the fact that it’s family-owned, they exhibit a clear dedication to giving back (please see their ‘Recipe’ page for notes about giving to local fundraisers and promoting bicycling), and they are almost religiously (pun intended) committed to sourcing quality ingredients.

What makes The Holy Donut’s offering unique is the inclusion of potato in their donut recipes (including some sweet potato flavors), which adds a lightness to the end product – these donuts quite literally melt in your mouth.  The use of this ingredient honors the (predominantly) northern Maine tradition of including potato in donut dough (or should I say “do”?  Oh jeez), and it also supports the Maine agriculture industry, of which potatoes are the largest crop.  And we all know how much I love potatoes… and how much I like to promote local business supporting other local business.

Perhaps most importantly, though, from a consumer-perspective, these donuts are delicious.  I had the pomegranate-glazed flavor, and it was nothing short of spectacular.  It is probably for the best that I live in Georgia – far from either of the two Holy Donut locations.

But if you’re reading this, and you live in southern Maine, what the heck are you waiting for?  Make your Sunday even more enjoyable.  Go get a donut you can feel good about.


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Weekly Recipe: Baked Salmon Fillets with Cashew Coating

This recipe was passed on to me by my mom, so I don’t have a handy cookbook reference for you, but I can vouch with great confidence for how wonderful it is.  If you like salmon, you will love this meal.  It’s actually quite easy and still feels much fancier than marinated, baked salmon (which is what I usually do).  The crunchy cashew coating made me feel like I was eating a gussied-up salmon dish from a restaurant, rather than from my own kitchen.

In this post, you’re also going to get a bonus recipe, because the side dish I made to accompany the salmon is called ‘Ben’s Peppery Potato Wedges’ and is from The Maine Summers Cookbook.  These potato wedges might be my new favorite side.  I’m mad (in a good way) about them.  I thought these dishes went well together; we actually made this same meal when my mom was here visiting, and I repeated it last night.

A sneak peek at the tasty ingredients...

A sneak peek at the tasty ingredients…

To make the salmon, you’ll need:

  • 3 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey (preferably from the Honey Exchange!)
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs, unseasoned
  • 1/4 cup chopped cashews
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried Thyme (fresh would work also)
  • 3-4 salmon fillets
  • Salt and pepper to taste (both my mom and I have forgotten this ingredient in the past, and didn’t miss it a bit!  The other flavors make the dish fabulous)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together butter, honey, and mustard. In another bowl, combine bread crumbs, thyme, and cashews.

My favorite kitchen gadget is this chopper - a gift from my dad!

My favorite kitchen gadget is this chopper – a gift from my dad!

Place the salmon in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish that you have lightly coated with cooking spray or oil. Brush the salmon with the butter mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the fillets and pat down.

Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

Bake until fish flakes or about 15 to 18 minutes (I went with 18).

You could choose to garnish this dish with lemon slices, but I didn’t (and didn’t miss it).  Also, I took my mom’s advice and brushed on some of the butter mixture, retaining part of it to mix with the bread crumbs and cashews to form a crumble, and then smoothed that over the salmon and patted it down.

If you know my mother, you know she tends to be very modest about her own cooking, and is by far her own harshest critic.  So when she sent the following quote at the end of her email, I knew this dish was a winner: “This recipe was delicious…really and truly good!”
And it was.
For Ben’s Peppery Potato Wedges, which can be found on page 153, you’ll need:
  • 4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed (I confess, I went with Yukon Gold this time)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (last night, I did these at 400 to work with the salmon – I simply added 5-10 minutes to the cooking time, and they were still great).  Cut each potato lengthwise into 8 wedges.  Toss the wedges in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper until well coated.
Prepped for baking...

Prepped for baking…

Generously oil a shallow baking pan and place the potato wedges, one cut side down, in the pan.  Tightly cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast for 10 minutes.  Remove the foil and turn the wedges over, placing the other cut side down.  Roast for 10 minutes, uncovered.  Turn the wedges again and roast for 10 minutes more, or until nicely browned.
I’m not exaggerating when I say these potato wedges are excellent.  I love potatoes (as you know), and I really enjoy a little spice – so the inclusion of cayenne pepper makes this a perfect dish for me.  You could probably swap in garlic powder for garlic potato wedges, or go without any particular spice if you’d like a more traditional style.
Oh yum!

Oh yum!

I hope you try one or both of these recipes – and send your thoughts and feedback!


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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! (plus a potato dish)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! While I did the bulk of my celebrating yesterday, I wanted to bring you all a brief post on the day itself and a weekly recipe for Scalloped Potatoes.

St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity into Ireland. The shamrock has become a major symbol of Saint Patrick and Saint Patrick’s Day because it is said that he used the 3-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish.  Today, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world with parades and parties, wearing the color green, drinking (sometimes large) amounts of alcohol, feasting, and religious observances.  One thing I hadn’t known is that blue was the original color for Saint Patrick’s Day, but after the shift to green, the celebration of the day took off.

The crowds and the green river at the US National Whitewater Center

The crowds and the green river at the US National Whitewater Center

Yesterday, my friend Lora and I ran a 5K at the US National Whitewater Center in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. During the race, green powder was dumped or thrown on the runners at various points. At the end, most of the left side of my face was green, as was my clothing. Following the run, our husbands and another couple joined us for a day of sitting in the sun, listening to live music by Tim Reynolds, and drinking beer, which included the Whitewater Center turning the water green at 1pm (and, luckily for us, the facility has showers, so we were able to remove MOST of the green powder).

Enjoying a sunny, 70 degree day with good friends in Charlotte, NC.  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Enjoying a sunny, 70 degree day with good friends in Charlotte, NC. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

For the weekly recipe, I wanted to share a Scalloped Potatoes dish.  As we’ve established, my Irish and German roots have predisposed me to a love of potatoes, and it doesn’t get much lovelier than potatoes in a creamy cheese sauce.  I took this recipe from Good Maine Food, which is quite literally an encyclopedia on traditional Maine cooking.  I modified it slightly to add cheese and jazz it up a bit.

You’ll need:

4 potatoes

Water

3 tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper

Milk

I added about a 1/4 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese and a 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan, because I like my scalloped potatoes cheesy.

Sliced potatoes

Sliced potatoes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and slice potatoes, 1/4 inch thick.  Cover with cold water and boil for 10 minutes.  Drain, and put a layer of potatoes in the bottom of a buttered casserole dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, dot with butter, and (if you like the cheese factor), sprinkle some Cheddar, Parmesan, or cheese of your preference in as well.

IMG_20130309_184844_616

Repeat layers, and add enough milk so it appears through the top layer.  I finished this off with another round of Parmesan cheese.  Bake in preheated oven for one hour or until potatoes are soft.  Serves 6.

The finished product!  Yummy scalloped potatoes with salmon.

The finished product! Yummy scalloped potatoes with salmon.

Enjoy!


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A Maine Thanksgiving in North Carolina

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday full of family, friends, and of course, food.

The idea for this post occurred to me while dogsitting for our neighbors last weekend.  Our neighbors are wonderful people, a good ol’ Southern boy and girl.  I happened to notice her Thanksgiving menu sitting on the counter, and I couldn’t resist snooping.  Imagine my surprise – I saw collard greens, sweet potato souffle, candied yams – and while these dishes certainly aren’t foreign to me, I’ve never eaten them on Thanksgiving (or, in some cases, ever).  I can admit that before that moment, I’d never given much thought to how different Thanksgiving menus might be across the country.  Perhaps not the staples – the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce – but the sides – and even the process for making the staples – certainly, vary from region to region.

In honor of Thanksgiving (and my own culinary education), the following is a breakdown of popular Thanksgiving dishes from New England and North Carolina / the South (along with a few of my favorite recipes).  My research for this post has taught me things I didn’t expect – for example, though I’d never had collards at Thanksgiving, they were one of the dishes at the First Thanksgiving.  And, collards are still a side dish at some tables in New England, they’re just not as wildly popular as here in the South.

Today, my husband’s parents are here to spend Thanksgiving with us.  Our menu consists of: turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, creamed onions, roasted carrots, sweet potatoes (in honor of my father-in-law, who’s from Tennessee), creamed onions, and apple pie.  Both myself and my mother-in-law are from Maine, which naturally makes the potato dish very important to us (for those of you who don’t know, Maine is the second largest producer of potato crops in the country – Idaho is the first – stay tuned for an upcoming post about the Maine potato).  I like my mashed potatoes jazzed up with sour cream and some other extras – delicious!  Here’s my recipe – taken and modified as needed from a close family friend:

  • 10 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons onion salt
  • Garlic to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Paprika or grated cheese to sprinkle on top near end of baking time
Peel and cut the potatoes in 1 1/2 inch pieces.  Boil until mashable, then mix in all other ingredients… adding more or less as you like.  This is a great make-ahead dish.  Today, I’ll add a little cream and pop it in the oven until warm, topping with paprika.  Mashed potatoes, it seems, are a big hit everywhere – so let’s revisit collard greens and the sweet potato souffle.
I found this recipe for ‘Gina’s Best Collard Greens’ on foodnetwork.com.  It looked pretty tasty!  Perhaps one of the reasons collards are so popular in the South is because barbecue and smoked meats are popular, too, and the collard green has enough flavor to stand up to these meats – in fact, it pairs very well with them.
  • 5 bundles collard greens
  • 4 cups salted water
  • 3 large smoked ham hocks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Thoroughly wash collard greens. Be sure to pull leaves apart and remove any sand. Chop collard greens.  In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of salted water to a simmer. Place smoked ham hocks in salted water and cover for about 90 minutes. Cook ham hocks until slightly tender. In the same saucepan, add remaining ingredients and collard greens.  Cover and cook greens for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
To touch quickly on cooking techniques – growing up in New England, we always (and I do mean always) roasted our turkey.  Since moving to SC to attend Clemson University, I’ve become familiar with the fried turkey (at tailgates as well as Thanksgiving) and the smoked turkey.  Both are delicous, but uncommon in New England.

One thing I’ve learned, having spent Thanksgiving in both regions – all cooking methods and sides hit the spot, regardless of locale.  Not to mention, the world is a shrinking place due to the internet, and I believe this exchange of information and traditions holds true for cuisine as well.  Maybe next year I’ll give a smoked turkey and collard greens a whirl!