January 6, 2011

Passion Leads to the Wilds of Maine!

. . a freshly blended fruit smoothie, homemade carrot ginger juice, a broiled grapefruit bubbling with brown sugar and warmed Maine blueberries..... or chilled cantaloupe and peach soup with. . . lemon zest and raspberries.

And, perhaps followed by. . .

. . . Spicy Maine Crab Cake.... Eggs Benedict served with caramelized pears and sweet potato-banana mash...... or Custard-like French toast smothered with pan-sautéed bananas, golden pineapple; toasted coconut aside crisp bacon and fresh fruit.

Ok! You had me at hello...........................Safe to say we may be "eating" our way through Maine! Yet, another discovery in which The Maine House is placing on their travel list for 2011!

Imagine....motoring around the countryside of Maine and slowly visions of sparkling water appear in the distance and then the scent of pine wafts its way through open car windows. We turn around the bend and an expansive view appears. Blair Hill Inn majestically comes into view showing off the extensive lawn and beckons us to turn into the historical drive and make our way up to this most impressive lakeside home. 
Lyman Blair, a young socialite from a very wealthy family of Chicago, visited Moosehead Lake with friends in the late 1800's. Legend has it that he had his best night's sleep ever on a hillside overlooking the lake.

With his family fortune Lyman Blair purchased the entire hillside. Lyman took great care in building his home strategically centered on the hill atop 20 foot high stone walls, centering the views of Moosehead Lake from nearly every window. Mr. Blair bred cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and fancy roosters on the slopes of his hillside from 1891 until his death in 1946.

Dan and Ruth McLaughlin had thriving corporate careers in Chicago when they saw an ad in Preservation Magazine featuring the property of Blair Hill. They flew out to Maine to research the property and seemed to almost instantly know, they were to be the next innkeepers. So with two young children in tow, Dan and Ruth left the corporate world behind and headed east in the summer of 1997.

Dan and Ruth, and their good friend, Larry Lewis, a carpenter by trade, began work restoring Blair Hill and the surrounding grounds into the refined and polished haven it is today. The Inn features eight guest suites, living and dining rooms and family quarters. The couple serve as innkeepers, in addition to Dan lending his talents from his love of cooking bountiful breakfasts with fresh, seasonal New England foods, while Ruth's eye for beauty prepares the tablescapes. Lunch and dinner menus are prepared by Chef Jack Neal who is a master at reinterpreting classic dishes such as lobster fritters and wood grilled scallops with inspired new combinations of spices and sides that make them new again. 

Optimism, Inspiration and a passion! You have to love this....staying excited, refreshed and happy....those feelings pass along to others as an intangible energy!

New England Oatmeal Brulee with Cinnamon Cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 T. real maple syrup
1 t. cinnamon
4 cups water
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/8 -1/4 cup sugar
fruit if desired (about 1 - 1 1/2 cups)
Butter flavored cooking spray

In a small saucepan, bring the cream and cinnamon to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the syrup and cinnamon. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, bring water to a boil. Add the oatmeal and salt; cook and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in brown sugar, 1/4 cup of the cinnamon cream and nutmeg. cover and let stand for 2 minutes.

Grease 4 10- inch or 6 mini ramekins with the cooking spray. Add fruit if desired (raspberries, bananas, etc.) Spoon oatmeal over the top; sprinkle with sugar. Place on baking sheet. Broil 4-6 inches from the heat for 7-9 minutes or until sugar is caramelized. Serve with remaining cinnamon cream.
Dan and Ruth
“If we’ve learned anything,” says Ruth
 “we’ve learned that staying true to yourself in everything you do
 makes the difference more than anything else.”

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