The only problem with cookbooks is that once you start looking through them, you start fantasizing about the incredible meals you’re going to cook for people. Which is why leafing through two new Maine cookbooks — Linda and Martha Greenlaw’s “The Maine Summer Cookbook: Recipes for Delicious, Sun-Filled Days” and Dana Moos’ “The Art of Breakfast: How to Bring B&B Entertaining Home” — just might make you end up rushing to the market for supplies.
Renowned author and swordfish boat captain Linda Greenlaw and her mother, Martha Greenlaw, already are old hands at writing cookbooks — their “Recipes From a Very Small Island” was a big hit when it came out in 2005, prompting Time Magazine to call it a “must-have.” The simple Maine ingredients and recipes of that collection are present in “The Maine Summer Cookbook,” but with a fresh, summery twist.
“We had so much fun with the first book that our publishers asked us to do it again,” said Linda Greenlaw in a recent phone interview. “I think the seasonality inspires us. We have a damned short season. You have two weeks for strawberries, two weeks for fiddleheads. It’s a really short growing season. You have to know exactly what’s available when.”
The Greenlaws make their home on Isle au Haut, and while there are occasional trips to the mainland for supplies, much of the ingredients in the book can be found right on the island.
“A lot of it is about necessity,” said Greenlaw, whose book is published by Viking Studio. “It’s whatever you can get at the market, and whatever you can get out of the ocean and off the land. We don’t always have the luxury of a big grocery store.”
Greenlaw and her mother gather as many recipes as they can think of — Martha Greenlaw drawing from her vast depth of knowledge of Maine cooking, and Linda from learning from her Mom, and from being an avid reader of cooking magazine and websites. To that end, there’s recipes for everything from pickles, dips and salad dressings to Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce and Steamed Raspberry Pudding with Hard Sauce. Swordfish makes several appearances — naturally, as Greenlaw is one of the stars of the Discovery Channel show “Swords” — including Blackened Swordfish with Blueberry Chutney. There’s also an entire section devoted to an outdoor pig roast, a tradition the Greenlaws celebrate with family friends each year on Isle au Haut.
While the rugged terrain of Maine’s island communities pervades “The Maine Summer Cookbook,” the elegance and graciousness of Maine’s hospitality industry is the foundation of “The Art of Breakfast,” Dana Moos’ first cookbook. Moos, a native of the Washington D.C. area who now splits her time between Bar Harbor and Portland, is a real estate broker for the Swan Agency. Until 2009 she was co-owner, with her husband, of the Kingsleigh Inn in Southwest Harbor.
It was there that she developed her passion for the preparation and presentation of brunch. A self-taught chef, Moos relishes every opportunity she gets to make fabulous, leisurely late-morning meals for guests, creating meals that have as much artistic flair as they do flavor.
“I learned what people really like, and then I started playing with different, contrasting colors, using fruits and vegetables and coordinating colored sauces,” she said. “The artsy side of the food came out. I have a lot of fun with it. I don’t think I ever put out a plate of food that doesn’t have some sort of sauce on it. They’re so easy to make and freeze and have ready at any time.”
She learned much of her technique from old PBS and Discovery Channel cooking shows — before there was the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, there was Julia Child and the “Great Chefs” series. Eventually, Moos began posting images of and recipes for creations online, on her blog, foodmadam.com, and on Facebook and Twitter.
While she also shares recipes for cocktails, desserts, and appetizers, it’s her brunch dishes that caught the eye of other innkeepers and Maine foodies. In March 2010, Moos attended a Bar Harbor “tweetup” — a meeting of Twitter friends — and met an advertising representative for Downeast Magazine. Moos told him about a Portland workshop she had planned on garnishing plates titled, not surprisingly, “The Art of Breakfast.” Downeast Books editor Kathleen Fluery attended that workshop, and afterwards, approached Moos with the idea for a book.
“I’d actually thought about a cookbook for years, but every year that we would close the inn for the summer, I’d never get around to it,” said Moos. “When she asked me if I’d like to try it, I said ‘How quickly can I say yes?’ A few weeks later, I started writing.”
“The Art of Breakfast” is full of luscious photography, taken by Moos herself, of more than 100 kitchen-tested recipes, from sweet to savory. As an innkeeper, Moos cooked breakfast and brunch for large crowds on a daily basis, and discovered what people love, like asparagus, caramelized onions, crab and lobster; and what people don’t generally love, like broccoli and mushrooms. As a result, there’s a comfort food factor to many of the dishes — but with a gourmet touch, and a distinct visual flair. One look at the images that go along with recipes like Chive and Cream Cheese Scrambled Eggs in Wonton Cups, or a Monte Cristo with Ham, Maine Maple Mustard, Pears and Havarti, and your tummy may start growling.
Moos pays special attention to Maine ingredients such as maple, blueberry, crab and lobster, but stresses that the majority of the elements of most recipes are common pantry items. There are also detailed instructions on how to plate and garnish the dishes, so the home cook can recreate Moos’ almost too-pretty-to-eat presentations.
“It lets me be creative,” said Moos. “Any excuse I have to make brunch for people, I take. It’s my outlet. The plate is my canvas.”
“The Maine Summers Cookbook: Recipes for Delicious, Sun-Filled Days” is available at most bookstores and online; it retails for $30. “The Art of Breakfast” is available at most bookstores and online at downeast.com; it retails for $28.95.
Monte Cristo with Ham, Maine Maple Mustard, Pears and Havarti
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup half and half
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup sweet brown mustard
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons Maine maple syrup
- 8 slices of Challah or other thick-cut egg bread
- 16 ounces thinly sliced smoked ham
- 8 slices of Havarti (or Monterey Jack)
- 1 ripe but firm Bosc pear, sliced
- Fresh raspberries, for garnish
- Raspberry preserves, for garnish
Preheat oven for 325 degrees. Mix the eggs, half and half, mustard, 2 tablespoon maple syrup and salt in blender for five seconds and pour into a wide bowl for dipping.
Layer four slices of bread with cheese, ham, pear and another layer of cheese, then top with remaining for slices of bread. Cut in half. Dip the sandwich halves into egg mixture and fry on a griddle over medium heat until brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Move sandwiches to a parchment lined cookie sheet when done. Cover and place cookie sheet in oven for 20 minutes, uncovering after 15 minutes, until completely heated through.
Serve the two halves on a plate with fresh raspberries, maple syrup, and a small ramekin of raspberry preserves. You can add diced kiwi for color and a light acidic bite.
From “The Art of Breakfast: How to Bring B&B Entertaining Into Your Home,” by Dana Moos.
Blackened Swordfish with Blueberry Chutney
For the blueberry chutney:
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons finely minced ancho chile pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 small, fresh pickling cucumbers, peeled and chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
- 1 pint fresh Maine blueberries
- cold water
For the swordfish:
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons hot paprika
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
- 4 fresh domestically harvested North American swordfish steaks
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
To make the chutney, toast the cumin, ancho chile and salt in a small skillet over high heat until fragrant. Set aside and allow to cool completely. Mix the cucumber, lime juice, parsley, cilantro and cooled spices in a medium bowl. Puree half the blueberries in a good processor fitted with a metal blade, adding just enough water to result in a runny consistency. Add the puree to the cucumber mixture. Gently fold in the remaining blueberries, being careful not to mash them. Refrigerate until ready to use; best at room temperature.
Mix the cumin, paprika, sesame seeds and black pepper on a rimmed baking sheet or piece of aluminum foil, spreading the mixture out to thinly cover the surface. Place the swordfish steaks onto the spices, lift them, and turn over to coat both sides. Rub the spices over the swordfish with your hands to evenly distribute. Heat canola oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat until sizzling hot. Place the swordfish in the hot skillet and cook, turning once, about three minutes per side. Test for doneness by pulling the skin from the edge of the steak; if it comes off easily, it’s done. It should be cooked through, but not dried out. Serve with blueberry chutney on the side.