June 29, 2022
We prefer serve-yourself bars in the summertime. It’s just so much more casual and easy-going, plus no one needs to know who’s drinking alcohol and who’s not. We think guests prefer fewer rather than more choices: seltzer, wine, beer, and a signature mocktail served in a beautiful pitcher. Place a nice bottle of rum or vodka next to the pitcher and people can turn it into a cocktail as they wish. Choose any old table you may have kicking around for the bar, ideally away from the kitchen to encourage folks to move around. Raise your cooler to table height by placing it on a luggage rack or a box. Just about anything can be used as a cooler – an old washtub, a child’s play boat, a lobster crate, or a big planter – get creative! Place any textile you love on the bar as a table runner and arrange your mix of vintage and modern glassware and pitchers on top. Pull out some of your favorite platters and bowls and fill them with fresh-cut lemons and limes. Then mix it all together with a vase of backyard flowers. Don’t forget a big stack of paper cocktail napkins and at least one small garbage can and you’ll have succeeded in creating an inviting, stylish, functional bar.
Consider what is freshest and most readily available locally for your menu, whether it’s just happy hour nibbles or a seated meal. This also keeps the menu simple and easy for all.
Look to your cookbooks for inspiration, including The Maine Farm Table Cookbook. Start with Oysters on the Half Shell with Shallot Mignonette (recipe provided by Nonesuch Oyster Farm) and then move on to everyone’s favorite, Steamed Maine Lobster (recipe provided by James Barter, Fisherman).
A Simple Any-Night Dinner
Our fearless Business Administrator, Deb Schneider, developed a special recipe on a weeknight when she had some beautiful halibut, but not much else besides pantry staples. It was a huge hit so we’re sharing it here (find the recipe at bottom of this article).
Halibut Steak with Crusty Topping and Pea Pesto Sauce
2.25 lbs Halibut Steak
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ lemon squeezed
TOPPING FOR HALIBUT:
1 cup panko crumbs
¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds, ground
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tsp ground dill seed (not dill weed)
Salt and pepper to taste
PEA PESTO SAUCE (PEA PUREE):
1 bag frozen baby peas
½ cup grated parmesan
1 large garlic clove
½ squeezed lemon
1-2 tbsp EVOO
Some of pea cooking water for consistency of pea pesto (puree)
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the pea pesto: cook the peas per the package instructions, then drain ((reserving a little bit of the water (2 tbsp approx.) in a separate container)), and add all the ingredients, except the pea water and salt and pepper, to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth, add reserved pea cooking water if needed to reach desired consistency, season with salt and pepper to taste.
Rinse and dry the Halibut steak, sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper, squeeze half a lemon on it, pour on the olive oil. To cook the fish: Mix together all the topping ingredients and press onto top side of Halibut. Grill on a grill pan or oven roast in a baking dish at preheated 375 degrees. Check online for grilling or roasting time based on the thickness of your particular steaks.
To serve: Spread the pea pesto on a platter or portion on individual plates then add the fish on top.
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