The last month has been an absolute whirlwind. Why? Because the Tee-Malmbergs just bought our first house. Whirlwind=stress for my pensive, introverted self and stress is a sure-fire way for my creative process to be completely shut off, hence the long hiatus from blogging.
I got a little wind in my sails while unpacking my “blog box” from Fairbanks. Packed neatly inside were all the plates, bowls, flatware, and linens that I collected from thrift and antique stores in Alaska. I even took great care to wrap up my old cookbooks in reams of bubble wrap. Each piece I unwrapped reminded me of how much sharing this space and recipes has meant to me in the past—a constant if you will — and that’s what brings you this week’s recipe.
Before that happens, let me tell you about the past couple weeks. My mom and her best friend (my aunt—not by blood but by every other measure) came to Maine and stayed for 9 days to help us transition and get settled into our new house. Chris, my dear partner, was a REALLY good sport about having these two stay with us for a little over a week because he’s good. He’s really good. And he knew if I even looked at our to-do list without an army of support, I would start breathing fire or crawl in a hole, one. Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic. It’s such a luxury to be able to buy a house. Why would I complain?!
These two ladies scrubbed, sanded, swept, planted, painted, washed, dried, drove, dumpster-dove, dog handled, organized, and cooked for us for 9 days straight. I know we could have gotten the work completed without them, but damn, would it have taken a lot longer.
This time of year is pretty stellar in Maine because everything is green, the skies are bright blue, there’s always a pleasant breeze blowing, so it’s never too hot, and lupine is out in full bloom on the roadsides. The tall, slender stalks are covered in purple, pink, and royal blue flowers and though slender, their colors pop in fields of green areas this time of year. Speaking of lupine, if you haven’t already read the children’s book Ms. Rumpius, do yourself a favor, order it on Amazon, and read it now. It’s a spectacular story about making the world a more beautiful place before you leave it.
I didn’t want my guests entire trip to be work, so I suggested they take a little trip to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. I can’t speak to Bar Harbor and Acadia but Rockland and Rockport are beautiful! It’s a typical New England coastal town with small downtowns with cute shops, good restaurants, and the relaxed hustle and bustle of tourists.
I had a trip to Camden and Rockland planned for work, so our trips up to the north coast coincided mid week and we shared a meal in Rockport. We ate at Archer’s on the Pier, and ate some fresh, local seafood. My mom and I ordered crab and lobster stuffed haddock, baked and covered with a creamy, red lobster sauce. Wowza. This was an ahhhh-mazing piece of fish.
My aunt ordered the “seafood pie”. Now, what do you think of when you hear the word pie? Regionally, that answer varies. People of Italian descent probably think pizza. We southerners think pie to be something in a flaky, buttery crust. New Englanders, guessing from this dish, have something else in mind. This seafood pie was one of the most notable seafood dishes I’ve ever seen ordered at a restaurant; it was an 8 inch baking dish full of large chunks of lobster, haddock, Maine shrimp, and scallops–easily over a pound of seafood—simmered in a bit of seafood stock and butter, dusted with a tablespoon of breadcrumbs. There was no crust, top or bottom but no one complained because why do you need crust when you have seafood?
It got me thinking though. Why not do a seafood pie marrying the southern brand of pie (puff pastry or pie crust) with a plentiful variety of seafood, tossed in a creamy red lobster sauce? Well, friends, marry these things did. Like, match-made-in-heaven, cross-all-the-oceans-to-be-
The sauce takes some time to cook, but most of it is hands-off. You boil and reduce the liquid until it’s super rich, you ladle some of it in a skillet with par-cooked scallops, fish, lobster, and shrimp, add some cream and let it reduce some more, pour in ramekins and cover with store bought puff pastry. Always store bought puff pastry!!
I call it Million Dollar Seafood Pie because it tastes like a million bucks, and it costs a small fortune for the seafood that goes in it. I have the luxury of seafood markets here in Maine where the seafood is reasonably priced. You can certainly make substitutes—like all shrimp or all white fish. The medley of meats, though, is too amazing together not to recommend.
- Shells of 2 lobsters and 1 lb. of shrimp (meat reserved for pie)
- ½ stick butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
- 1 Tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 3 Sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ bunch fresh parsely
- 2 qts. Seafood stock (I used the 1 qt. water used to boil lobsters and 1 qt. seafood stock)
- For the Pie
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- Meat from two cooked lobsters, cut into chunks (about 1 ¼ cups)
- 1 haddock fillet, cut into 1-1.5 inch chunks
- 1 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
- ½ lb. scallops
- 2 shallots, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 3 Cups lobster stock
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- For the broth: Melt butter over medium heat in large stockpot or dutch oven. Add lobster and shrimp shells. Stir, coating in butter and heat through until shells are browned. Add onion, celery, and carrot. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in minced garlic. Cook 2 minutes more. Add tomato paste, spices and herbs (whole sprigs of herbs are fine) and stock. Stir to mix. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook uncovered for 1-1½ hours until the stock has reduced to 1 quart.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- For the pie: Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in large skillet. Add shallots and garlic and cook until just softened. Add shrimp, scallops, haddock, and cooked lobster. Sprinkle with chopped thyme, Add lobster/seafood stock and let simmer for a 3 minutes, constantly braising the top of the seafood with liquid. Turn shrimp, haddock, and scallops. Add heavy cream and salt and pepper to skillet and let simmer until liquid has reduced, about 1 minute.
- Ladle seafood-cream mixture evenly into 4 buttered 4 inch. ramekins. Top each with a cut round of puff pastry. Brush top of pastry with egg wash. Sprinkle with flaked salt.
- Place ramekins on foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Serve with salad.