Coquille Saint-Jacques is delicious and decadent. (Kathy D’Agostino photo)
“A recipe is a story that ends with a good meal.” – Pat Conroy
I sometimes sit and think about the people I have met, the recipes they have shared with me, and the interesting roads folks have taken to Harpswell. Those thoughts started tumbling around in my mind after I read an article on Joe Henry in the Portland Press Herald. (Editor’s note: A reprint of this article appears on Page 20 of the July 2023 edition of the Anchor.) Joe is a singer-songwriter who has written more than 200 songs in his career. Being a product of the ’60s and ’70s, I have a love for folk music. His story was like others I’ve read. The struggles, the successes, the Grammys he has won. He talked about his grueling time on the road, his health challenges and the loss of his dear friend John Prine.
Joe and his wife fell in love with Maine when they visited Portland in 2019. They found some property in Harpswell with water views and built their home in 2021. Today, they reside here, like many who have migrated north to this beautiful area.
That article made me think about the people I’ve met, both native Mainers and those who have moved here, and about the stories I have heard along my journey of sharing recipes in the Harpswell Anchor for Cooking at 43° North. Whether from a longtime resident of Harpswell or someone who chose to live in this beautiful town, every story was unique and interesting.
There are folks who have a long family history of lobstering and fishing right here and have shared delicious seafood recipes. There are Mainers who have solid routines and have shared recipes from their Saturday night suppers. Then there are those whose travels in life eventually brought them to this lovely place. Their recipes often broaden and enhance our culinary skills. I have heard many tell me why they moved to Harpswell. I am grateful to have absorbed every detail from these stories, along with the recipes I’ve gathered, and it is a privilege to share every one of them.
Pam White is no exception.
Pam worked for the State Department and served as U.S. ambassador to The Gambia and then Haiti before she retired. She has been coming to Bailey and Orr’s islands since she was a child.
Pam would visit her grandmother at The Wentworth on Bailey Island. It was then she fell in love with the islands, some 60 years ago. Later her parents bought a camp on Bailey Island and she continued to spend summers there.
She always knew she wanted to make Harpswell her home someday. She spent years looking for the perfect spot and in 2009 she found it, on Orr’s Island. She had her home built and moved here full time the moment she retired in 2015. Pam has lived here ever since.
The recipe Pam shared is exceptional. It doesn’t take very long to prepare and, believe me, you and your guests will absolutely love it! It is both delicious and decadent. This is an adaptation of coquille Saint-Jacques that her Haitian cook taught Pam when she was the U.S. ambassador to Haiti. Her cook plated her delicious creation onto huge scallop shells.
I made this dish with lightly seared scallops, using 11.5-ounce gratin dishes. It made four servings. Keep your protein slightly undercooked, as it will finish in the oven and have to endure the broiler as well.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup shallots, diced
1 pound white button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup white wine
1 pound cooked lobster (can use scallops, crab or cod)
1/2 cup heavy cream (light cream works too)
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons fresh tarragon
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup Gruyere cheese
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Melt butter in a large skillet. Add shallots and cook until translucent. Stir in mushrooms and cook until golden brown.
Pour wine over the mushroom mixture and bring to a simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. Strain mushroom mixture so you have the mushrooms and liquid separated. Set mushrooms aside. Return strained liquid to the skillet and stir in cream. Cook until reduced by half — maybe 8-10 minutes.
Whisk egg yolk into cream sauce, then remove from heat and add tarragon and cayenne. Salt and pepper to taste.
Divide mushrooms into 4 parts and line the bottom of 4 ramekins with mushrooms. Put 1/4 pound of lobster meat in each ramekin on top of the mushrooms. Spoon cream sauce over lobster.
Place ramekins on aluminum foil on a baking sheet (they always spill over a bit). Place in a 450-degree oven for 15 minutes. Stop the oven and turn on the broiler. Add Gruyere cheese, then broil for 5-6 minutes.
Optional: Top with a bit of lemon zest and parsley.
This is a wonderful dish to serve with a green salad and a bit of risotto on the side.
Also, since it is strawberry season in Maine, whip the rest of the heavy cream and make strawberry shortcake for dessert. A perfect end to a wonderful meal. Enjoy!
Cooking at 43° North, a program of Harpswell Aging at Home, brings Harpswell residents together for cooking programs, in person and online. Watch the Anchor calendar for listings.
HAH always needs cooks for its Meals in a Pinch program, which provides nutritious meals to seniors in need of emergency assistance. For more information, contact Julie Moulton at 207-330-5416 or email@example.com.