Washington County Community College student tops dairy competition

Posted April 05, 2009, at 9:42 p.m.

CALAIS, Maine — Josh Long, 19, of Cornville hopes to open his own restaurant someday, and that dream moved a little closer to reality when his recipe for Low-Fat Blueberry Custard Brulee helped him walk away with the top prize at the 3-A-Day of Dairy People’s Choice Award and Scholarship competition held at the Blaine House in Augusta.

Long is a student in the culinary arts program at Washington County Community College.

Seven chefs from Maine’s five community college culinary arts programs created their desserts using dairy products on March 26. The students’ recipe creations had to include milk, cheese or yogurt.

One of the judges was the state’s first lady Karen Baldacci.

“I used low-fat and nonfat dairy products,” Long said during an interview last week. “It was kind of fun to figure different ways to use those things and going to the Blaine House.”

He received a trophy along with a $500 scholarship.

Long’s brulee was up against desserts such as chocolate orange cheesecake and Hawaiian ambrosia.

Those who attended last week’s National Nutrition Month Coordinated Dinner at Washington County Community College sponsored by St. Croix Valley Health Communities had an opportunity to sample Long’s creation.

The dessert was part of a four-course meal designed by executive chef and student Ashley Moore, 18, of Pembroke. Held each year, the dinner focuses on healthful eating and good nutrition.

Long had high praise for culinary arts instructor Marie Emerson, who encourages her students to compete. “She is a good instructor,” he said. “She gets to the point. She shows us multiple ways to do things. She is a good friend if you need her, and she is easy to talk to.”

Long said there was little trial and error in his creation. “I did it slow, measured everything out, separated it and then slowly added it to it. If you do that and check yourself twice, most likely you’re not going to have trial and error,” he said.

Long said he was pleased to meet the first lady and Gov. John Baldacci. “She tasted mine twice,” he said of Karen Baldacci. “A lot of the [judges] tasted mine twice.”

The Maine Dairy Promotion Board asked chef instructors to challenge their students to create their most dairy-delicious dessert, each providing 20 percent of the daily value for calcium, the group said in its press release.

Long will graduate from the one-year course this spring. He plans to attend New Brunswick Community College in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, where he will receive an associate degree. NBCC and WCCC have a memorandum of understanding that allows an exchange of students.

Emerson said last week that she was proud of Long. “Washington County Community College, even though we are the smallest of all the schools [competing], we have been able to offer great programming for these students,” she said. “We have that innovative edge, that creative edge. Comes from living in a rural area.”

The community college has attended the competition in Augusta for the past five years and this is the second time a WCCC student has taken the top prize.

Emerson explained why they won.

“We took a traditional classic French dessert, creme brulee, we remodified it and used new formulations that the dairy association has come up with,” she said. “I keep urging people to look at the nonfat sour cream. It makes better dips. Look at the nonfat half-and-half and use it in your chowder, use it in your bisques, use it in your gravy. It is rich, it is tasty, it is thick. It is wonderful — yet it has all the good stuff … without the fat, without the calories.”

Emerson said she also was pleased that Long used Washington County’s wild blueberries. “We are so lucky to live in a state that can grow one of the last wild crops in the world,” she said. “It has not been genetically engineered. There are no hybrids. This is a completely wild crop planted by nature.”

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LOW-FAT BLUEBERRY CUSTARD BRULEE

2 cups fresh or frozen wild Maine blueberries

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1½ cup or 1 can nonfat evaporated milk

2 large eggs

5 tablespoons nonfat sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1. Divide blueberries evenly among six 4-ounce ovenproof custard cups. Set aside.

2. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a heavy-bottom saucepan.

3. Beat eggs and milk in a bowl. Add to dry ingredients and stir.

4. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to boil.

5. Remove from heat and cool for five minutes.

6. Stir in flavoring and sour cream.

7. Sprinkle each cup with heaping teaspoon of brown sugar. Broil 5½ inches away from heat until sugar melts. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

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