Wall Street Journal: Saigon’s Pho

The Wall Street Journal has published an article by Portland author Kate Christensen about the Pho at Saigon on Forest Ave.

But now, I just got out my laptop and Googled. I found a Vietnamese place called Saigon that delivered, and on the menu was beef pho. I gasped with joy. Within a half-hour the paper bag arrived, containing two huge plastic containers of broth, piping hot and smelling incredible. We squeezed in lime juice and added cooked rice noodles, then thin slices of raw sirloin, which cooked instantly in the steaming soup, then slivers of onion and chili, crunchy mung bean sprouts and fresh basil and cilantro. We fell on it with chopsticks and spoons, too impatient to wait for it to cool. The broth was rich and beefy and very clear, full of the delicate flavors of cinnamon, black pepper and a familiar yet mysterious mix of other spices I’d come to associate with this warming soup.

the article includes Saigon’s recipe for Pho.

Immigrant Kitchens: La Bandera

In the latest entry from Immigrant Kitchens, Lindsay Sterling learns how to make La Bandera from Angel Ferreras (read the recipe and see the photos).

“What are we having?” I asked. His teenage daughter, Pamela, responded, in English and in Spanish: “Vamos a comer la bandera.” The dish name translates to “the flag” and consists of rice, beans and meat with twice-fried plantains, called tostones, on the side. Dominicans eat la bandera so often that it apparently defines the country as much as the flag.

Maine Cookbooks, Becoming a Vegan, Old Port Wine Merchants

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes an article about 3 new Maine cookbooks,

Here’s a first look at the Standard Baking Book, followed by the latest on Maine home cooking from food writer and food historian Sandy Oliver, and a new cookbook featuring nearly 50 Portland restaurants from Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz.

a guide to eating vegan (with restaurant recommendations),

In the past month, I’ve had a host of people – old and young, men and women, professional chefs and novice cooks – ask for advice on how to eat a totally plant-based diet.

So it must be time to provide a basic starter kit on eating vegan in Maine.

and a profile of the Old Port Wine Merchants.

Owner Jacques de Villier loves wine and cigars but his true passion is people, and that’s what makes him the shopkeeper’s shopkeeper. He’s old school. Plenty of people open stores because they love their product or want money, but neither the product nor the cash is the heart and soul of it. Anyone who doesn’t like de Villier is a wretched misanthrope who needs serious professional help.

Immigrant Kitchens: French Ratatouille

In the latest entry on Immigrant Kitchens Lindsay Sterling learns how to make French Ratatouille from Stephanie Looten-Caceres (read the recipe and see the photos).

My houseguest, a sixteen-year-old French brunette, pointed at the French toast we were serving for breakfast. “What is it?” She asked.
“It’s French toast!” I cried, baffled. “What – it’s not French?”
“Non.” She said, as confused as I was.

Lobster Bakes

The Food & Wine section in today’s Press Herald includes an article on lobster bakes, traditional and otherwise.

Sandy Oliver, a food historian who lives on Isleboro, says she’s willing to bet that in every Maine coastal town there’s still two or three people who are known for throwing a lobster bake the old-fashioned way, but most people just don’t want to go to the trouble anymore.

“It’s very labor-intensive,” she said. “You’re hauling rocks, you’re hauling wood, and you have to go out and harvest seaweed and haul that to wherever it is you’re going to have this bake. You could have it in somebody’s field. It doesn’t have to be at the beach.”


Immigrant Kitchens: Mexican Chilaquiles

In the latest entry on Immigrant Kitchens Lindsay Sterling learns how to make Mexican Chilaquiles from Azminda Cansino (read the recipe, see the photos and watch the video).

For days I looked forward to this. “Life is good” shirts and spare tire covers didn’t look sarcastic anymore. We’re going to get to learn chilaquiles, whatever they are, and I know they are going to be out-of-this-world amazing because real immigrant food always is. On Wednesday an hour before we were to cook, I was in downtown Portland when I got a foreboding email from Azminda. “I have two drawbacks,” she wrote. Her blender broke, and she couldn’t find green tomatoes at Hannaford, Shaw’s, or Walmart. Of course she couldn’t, poor thing! I had to save our cooking session

Blueberry Season

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes a report on this year’s blueberry harvest and some recipes for putting the blue fruit to use,

Allen Crabtree of Crabtree’s Blueberries in Sebago has a bumper crop of highbush blueberries this year as well.

“I have never seen so many blueberries,” Crabtree said. “We’ve had a pick-your-own operation since 2001, and this is by far the best crop we have had, the most berries on the bushes.”

The Food & Dining section also has a list of blueberry festivals across the state and a directory of pick-your-own blueberry farms.

There’s also a very interesting article on how farmers are trying to attract wild pollinators to to assist with the blueberry crop.

“It looks like a bee, but it’s the size of a housefly,” he said.

But size doesn’t matter when it comes to this hard-working, native pollinator, he said. “They’re about four to five times more effective as spring-season pollinators than honey bees,” said Van Horn, who has tended the organic blueberry fields for more than 35 years.

Pie-o-rama: Coffee “S’mores” Pie, Cherry Pie, Meat Pie, Ancestral Lemon Pie

For this month’s collaborative food blogging project the group focused on that most American of desserts, the pie. Jillian at From Away has shared some memories of Girl Scouts and a recipe for Coffee “S’mores” Pie, Kate at The Blueberry Files risked permanently dyeing her fingers red to try out a recipe for cherry pie, Erika has supplied a meat pie recipe she used at the last Cloak and Dagger dinner, and Vrylena has aired her trials and tribulations in making the family crust recipe and the Ancestral Lemon Pie recipe.

From Away – Coffee “S’mores” Pie

This pie is incredibly easy and incredibly delicious. The chocolate ganache is, as you might expect, rich, dense, and decadent. The meringue is more like a grown-up fluff, if there is such a thing, and the crust is made with Nutella. What could be better than that? Bring this the next time you’re invited to a picnic, a cookout, or camping in a friend’s backyard. S’mores make us nostalgic for simpler times, childhood, summers long past. This dessert will make everyone at your party feel dreamy and content. read the full article

Instant Portland – Last Minute Pie

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things I love about Portland, but one of my least favorite things is this: it’s really hard to pick up a pie (not made at the supermarket) at 6 pm on your way home from work. Foley’s closed at 5, and Two Fat Cats is always out of pies long before I’m out of work. It’s 90 degrees, my in-laws are coming over, and I really need a pie. I’m certainly not going to bake in this weather. read the full article

The Blueberry Files – Homemade Cherry Pie

I learned that baking really takes time and commitment. If you have all of the ingredients and equipment on hand and don’t expect to come together in an hour, you’ll have a nice final product.

Explains why I’ve never mastered it. I’m the queen of substitutions and half-assery in the kitchen. But this time, this time! I really followed the recipe, took my time, and ended up with a great pie.… read the full article

Vin et Grub – Meat Pie

Its probably obvious by now how much I adore pastry, so when I was told that July’s O-Rama project was to be based around pie I was ecstatic! I love pie! Rhubarb, blackberry, keylime– you name it. But you know what I love more than fruit pie? Meat pies. Pasties, pot pies- mmm. read the full article

Vrai-lean-uh – Parker Family Pie Crust & Ancestral Lemon Pie

In any case, after a fair amount of consternation, I had a “jesus take the wheel” moment and decided to just follow the family recipe, shrinking/puddling/deflating/sweating be damned. And it seemed to go really well! I made the pie crust and lemon custard the day before, then made the meringue while the oven was pre-heating, all based on first-person accounts of what my grandmother used to do. The custard chilled overnight, and the pie crust was just loosely wrapped and left on the counter. The pie came out of the oven with lovely browning around the edges of the meringue. Read the articles on pie crust and lemon meringue pie

For those of you that just can’t get enough pie I recommend picking up a copy of the quirky but always entertaining 2012 cookbook from the Portland Pie Council, where you can learn things like:

  • first recipe was published by Cato the Censor around 200 BC
  • reveals the existence of a real recipe for a live blackbird pie published in 1549
  • a list of famous people who have been pied in the face
  • pie-try
  • and lots and lots of recipes

Summer Picnic & Organic Corn

The Food and Dining section in today’s paper includes a caution about the introduction of genetically modified sweet corn in Maine and guidance on where to locate organic/non-GMO sweet corn.

This summer marks the first time that Monsanto’s Bt sweet corn has been approved for planting in Maine. Unlike genetically modified field corn, which farmers in Maine and across the country have been growing for years as livestock feed, sweet corn is intended for human consumption.

The Food and Dining section also includes advice and recipes from local chefs and food purveyors in putting together your Summer picnic basket.

Strawberries Squared & Kids Gone Raw

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald has an article on strawberries which includes recipes from 3 Portland chefs, a guide to farms where you can pick your own strawberries, details strawberry dishes on the menu at local restaurants, a calendar of strawberry festivals in Maine and info on a strawberry jam making class taught by Kate McCarty.

“My advice to people is to get out a little earlier this year to get what you want, and certainly call the farmer ahead of time to see how things are going,” David Handley, a small-fruit specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, said in an interview after last week’s stretch of hot weather. “I’ve been out in the fields for the last couple of days, and I’ve been amazed how two days of temperatures approaching the 90s will ripen strawberries so quickly.”

The season started a little early as well, anywhere from a week ahead of schedule to just a day or two, depending on the location of the farm.

Also in today’s paper is an article about Kids Gone Raw,

Sensing an opportunity, Knowles quickly contacted her friend Elizabeth Fraser, who runs the Girl Gone Raw cooking school in Portland. Over lunch at Local Sprouts Cooperative Cafe, the two came up with the idea of a raw foods cookbook filled with kid-friendly recipes.

The book is now written and the pair is in the process of determining which publisher they want to work with…In the meantime, the two are busy creating a line of raw vegan foods for children, making appearances at events and teaching classes.