Thursday, April 26, 2012

Its Fiddlehead Season- So Delicious!!

Fiddleheads are one of Maine’s delightful indications that winter has ended. The tiny bright-green spirals push skyward to let us know that summer is just around the corner. Their flavor is akin to asparagus. If you can’t find fiddleheads, you may substitute asparagus. When you can find fiddleheads, don’t delay; their season is short so eat them while you can. Canned fiddleheads are available as a substitute. In a pinch, you can use fresh asparagus in place of the fiddleheads.

Fiddlehead Soup
Serves 4
 2 lb Maine fiddleheads
3 T unsalted butter
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 c vegetable stock
1 T vegetable bouillon paste or powder
1 T chopped fresh basil
1 T chopped fresh oregano
1 T chopped fresh parsley
Maine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place the fiddleheads in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Drain the fiddleheads and trim any brown ends off the stems. Be sure they are cleaned well. Reserve 12 or so small pretty ones for garnish. Coarsely chop the remaining fiddleheads.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it is translucent. Add the fiddleheads and toss with the butter and onion. Cook 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook 15 minutes.
Float the reserved fiddleheads in the hot soup and let them blanch. Remove the garnish-fiddleheads from the pan and set aside. Dish up the soup and top with the blanched fiddleheads.

Fiddlehead and Smoked Seafood Antipasto with Marinated Mushrooms
Fresh greens topped with luscious Maine shrimp, smoked salmon, lobster, peapods, beets, carrots and local cheeses. If you like the taste of pickled fiddleheads, add them to the mushrooms and marinate together to top your salad.
Serves 6
 For the salad:
6 c Mesclun greens
2 c baby spinach
1 c baby carrots
2 c fresh snow peas
1 lb fresh asparagus or fiddleheads
For the Marinated Mushrooms:
3 large Portobello mushroom caps
4 T balsamic vinegar
4 T olive oil
1⁄4 c chopped chives
1 clove minced garlic
1⁄2 t salt
1⁄2 t pepper

1 lb clean fresh cooked Maine lobster meat
1 lb fresh Maine cooked shrimp or Ducktrap smoked shrimp
8 oz Ducktrap smoked salmon or trout or both
6 oz Ducktrap smoked scallops or mussels
6 oz fresh crabmeat
4 oz fresh Appleton Creamery chevre
4 oz cubed State of Maine cheddar cheese
4 oz cubed fresh Mozzarella

Wash the greens. Place them on a large platter. Quarter the baby carrots lengthwise to create long thick matchsticks. Trim the ends off the snow peas. Trim the bottom ends off of the asparagus or trim the ends of the fiddleheads. Blanch in boiling, salted water for 3 minutes. Remove and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Lightly wash and trim the stems off of the Portobello mushrooms. Slice into 1⁄2-inch strips. In a small bowl place the vinegar, chives, garlic, salt and pepper. Place the mushroom slices in a large re-sealable plastic bag. Pour the dressing over the mushrooms. Seal and set the bag in a bowl. Chill.

Arrange the lobster, carrots, shrimp, peapods, smoked salmon/seafood, cheeses and asparagus/fiddleheads on top of the greens. You can choose to arrange them as spokes of a wheel, as individual salads or decoratively as you like. Drain the mushrooms carefully into a bowl reserving the dressing. Place the mushrooms on the greens.

Drizzle the dressing over all of the ingredients. There should just be a touch on the seafood and vegetables, allowing the taste of the elements to come through.