Here we are in the height of summer when warm-weather menus include grilled fish, new potatoes, local vegetables and homemade pie.
For some, blue fish is an acquired taste. With its assertive flavor and firm, oily texture, it’s a distinctive fish found in local waters from summer to fall.
Yet you don’t come across many recipes for it. A meaty fish, grilled or broiled are the best methods to cook it. When I saw it at the fishmonger’s table at the North Haven farmer’s market, I bought it to have for dinner and it became part of our menu, which was based on local foods found on the island that included just-dug new potatoes and farm-fresh green beans.
A great way to cook blue fish is to coat the fillets with mayonnaise, mustard and lemon, put it into a tightly sealed foil packet and cook it on the grill. It comes out extremely moist. With it I served a warm potato salad, local green beans and a fabulous blueberry-cherry pie served with island made maple-walnut ice cream by Doreen Cabot from Foggy Meadows Farm. It’s a very rich ice cream because the custard base is made with duck eggs—what a luxury.
I wasn’t planning on making another cherry pie, but when a young potter and restaurant apprentice (Nebo Lodge, Calderwood Hall and Turner Farm) on the island, Rory Curtain, asked to be shown how to make pastry dough, I happily obliged. She brought over a large freezer bag of tart cherries that were picked locally.
They weren’t pitted, however, and since there was no cherry pitter in the house we manually did the task by squeezing the pits out of the cherries. It’s not the ideal method, but we had no other choice and it worked well.
George’s grilled blue fish
3 large fillets of blue fish
Heat a gas or charcoal grill to high.
Use enough mayonnaise (about 1/2 cup or more ) to coat the fish. Put the mayonnaise in a small mixing bowl and stir in mustard (about 1 heaping tablespoon) and lemon juice to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Stir it briskly with a whisk.
Coat the fish completely, place it in a large heavy-duty foil packet, seal tightly and cook over medium high heat, cover closed, for about 15 minutes. Using mitts, open the foil pack to expose the fish. Cover and let the tops brown and crisp slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove to a serving platter.
Simple green beans
There is no actual recipe here but rather a simple method of cooking the beans.
Servings: as needed
Top and tail the green beans and plunge into rapidly boiling salted water. Cover partially and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes after the water has returned to the boil. Check the beans to see if they’re cooked through– you want them to remain firm and crisp.
Meanwhile prepare an ice-water bath. When ready, drain the beans and plunge into the ice water. This will stop the cooking and keep the beans bright green.
Melt butter in the saucepan over medium heat. Drain the beans and add to the butter, stirring to coat. Season with salt and pepper and some fresh herbs of your choice.
Warm potato salad with bacon
I love this method for warm potato salad. After the potatoes are cooked they’re sliced (peeled or unpeeled) and coated with the warm bacon fat, vinegar and mustard dressing and garnished with the crumbled bacon.
Servings: 4 to 6
8 to 10 medium size new potatoes, red or white, unpeeled
8 slices bacon, about 1 /2 pound
1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cook the bacon in a heavy skillet (cast-iron is best) over low heat, turning often, until cooked through and crisp. Remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper toweling. Reserve the bacon fat.
Meanwhile cook the potatoes in salted boiling water. Leave the potatoes whole. They should be done in about 12 to 15 minutes. Do not overcook—you want them to remain somewhat firm but cooked through.
Peeled or not, slice the potatoes 1/2 –inch thick and put into a serving dish. Set aside.
Meanwhile reheat the bacon grease over medium heat and add the chopped onions. Sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat. Whisk in the vinegar, sugar and mustard. Cook for 1 minute, stirring. Pour the hot mixture over the potatoes.
Crumble the bacon and sprinkle over the potatoes. Add some chopped parsley if desired.
North Haven Wild Maine blueberry and sour cherry pie
This is basically the same recipe as the plain sour-cherry pie posted on July 16 but half the amount of cherries are replaced with wild Maine blueberries. The two fruits are a wonderful combination. Sometimes I like to add a touch of brown sugar to the mix, giving it a subtle caramelized taste. Another good addition to the basic cherry pie is to use all cherries but add 1 tart apple cut into small chunks, and increase the sugar quantity by about 2 tablespoons of white or light-brown sugar.
Servings: 6 to 8
1 double crust pastry dough, divided (Recipe here)
2 heaping cups pitted sour cherries
2 heaping cups wild Maine blueberries
1 1/4 cups sugar,
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons cornstarch or
2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1 tablespoon instant tapioca
2 tablespoons butter, in cubes
Sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
When you make the pastry and divide into two halves, have one slightly larger than the other. The smaller half will be used for the lattice top. After preparing the pastry, chill for at least 1 hour before rolling out.
Line a 9-inch pie plate with the larger bottom crust. Set aside
In a large mixing bowl combine the cherries and blueberries. Add the sugar. You can replace 1/4 cup of the sugar with brown sugar if you like. Mix gently. Let the fruits macerate for 10 minutes to release their juices.
Pour out about 1/4 cup of the juice into a small measuring cup. Add the cornstarch and/or tapioca mixture. Mix until dissolved. Pour back into the fruit and stir gently until thoroughly combined. Add the lemon juice and almond extract. Stir to combine.
Put the cherry mixture into the pie shell. Dot with butter. Roll out the second dough to use as a lattice top. Crimp the edges decoratively.
Brush the top with an egg wash using 1 beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water or heavy cream. Brush the lattice top and border with the egg wash. Then sprinkle about 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar over the top and border.
Line a sheet pan with parchment or foil and put the pie on the pan. Put into the oven and bake for 15 minutes; lower the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 30 to 45 minutes more or until the filling is bubbly and thickened and the pastry is golden brown. Rotate the pan halfway through baking.
Let rest 15 minutes on a cooking rack. Cut into slices and serve warm with ice cream.