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Croissant French Toast with Fresh Strawberry Syrup

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

strawberry_croissant_fr_toastA delicious French toast, made with croissants and served with a strawberry compote, this unusual and delicious variation on French toast is really a winner.

Makes 4 servings.

  • 4 large croissants — day-old (stale)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (use 2 tsp if you like)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • whipped cream — (optional topping)
  • Fresh Strawberry Syrup (see next recipe)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Slice croissants in half lengthwise

Whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla. Pour into a shallow dish. Dip croissant halves into egg mixture, coating well.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet (or griddle) over medium heat. Add four croissant halves, and cook about 2 minutes on each side or until puffy and golden brown. Repeat procedure with remaining butter and croissant halves.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar; top with Whipped Cream if desired, and Fresh Strawberry Syrup.

Serving Ideas : Sprinkle a few blueberries on top for a colorful presentation.

NOTE: If croissants are not stale, they will not absorb the batter as fully, and will not plump as much when cooked.

Southern Recipe from a Maine B&B: Pecan Praline French Toast

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

Pecan_praline_Fr_tstOne of our favorite French toast recipes is based on one we received from a family friend in California. She sent us Paula Deen’s Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup.

As some of our friends well know, we lived for a number of years in the Southern USA (Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia), and love a lot of the Southern dishes. One thing we find, though, is that they are sometimes a bit rich for us. Consequently we’ve taken some of our favorites and altered them a little to be just a bit lighter (they are still very substantial – just ask our guests!). That’s what we did with this recipe.

In fact, we had been serving our version as Brewster House Pecan Praline French Toast for some time before Ruth came across a video of Paula Deen making her French toast recipe. Based on the recipe we had from our friend, we had been laying the slices of bread down in the pan in layers, which made a great French toast in its own right. When Ruth saw the video, she realized that the way Paula Deen makes it, the slices stand up in the pan, wicking the custard up into themselves, and they look amazing! We tried it with our version, and wow! The taste was wonderful and the presentation was really impressive (as you can see from the photo!).

Here’s the recipe for Brewster House Pecan Praline French Toast:

  • 1 loaf French bread (13-16 ounces) (you may also use challah bread instead for a slightly different texture)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash salt
  • Praline Topping (recipe follows)
  • Maple syrup (we use 100% pure Maine maple syrup)

Slice bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. Arrange slices upright, in a generously buttered 9 x 13-inch flat baking dish in two rows, overlapping the slices.

Pecan_praline_Fr_toast

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and salt, and whisk until blended. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Serve with maple syrup.Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.

Praline Topping

  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well.

Bon appetit!

Gluten-Free Quiche With Goat Cheese

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

gluten-free-quicheLike many innkeepers, we find that a number of our guests need gluten-free meals. In searching for this type of thing, Ruth came across this quiche from Martha Stewart, which we served today, to high praise from all the guests!

We served it as presented, but will be trying it in the near future with fresh spinach and sun-dried tomatoes added, as well.

Gluten-Free Quiche with Goat Cheese

  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 1 package (1 pound) frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 12 large eggs
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 package (4-5 ounces) soft goat cheese, room temperature
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush a 9 by 2 1/2 inch springform pan with butter. Line the sides of the pan with strips of waxed paper (the same height as the pan); brush paper with butter.

Squeeze excess moisture from hash browns. Mix in a bowl with butter, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pat into bottom and up sides of prepared pan, using a moistened dry measuring cup. Place on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until set, 15 to 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk sour cream, goat cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until well combined; whisk in 11 remaining eggs. Pour into crust, and sprinkle with scallions. Bake until set, 45 to 50 minutes. Unmold quiche, and peel off waxed paper before serving.

Serves 6-8, depending on serving size.

Enjoy!

Maple Apple Syrup for Belgian Waffles

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

wafflesThis is a delightful treat, which really dresses up Belgian waffles especially in the autumn.

Makes about 4-6 servings

2 tablespoons butter
3 apples, peeled and sliced into thin wedges
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

  • Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.
  • Add cinnamon, apples, sugar and maple syrup, toss until apples are coated
  • Cook until apples are partially soft, yet still firm.
  • Serve warm over waffles.

Belgian Waffles

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

belgian_wafflesThese wonderful, make-ahead, Belgian waffles are light and simply delightful with our Maine pure maple syrup, or our blueberry compote!

Makes about 6 waffles

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter
3 eggs

  • In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, sugar and salt; mix well
  • Heat milk, water and butter until very warm (120-130 degrees F; butter does not need to melt). Add to flour mixture. Add eggs.
  • Blend with electric mixer at low speed until moistened; beat 1 minute at medium speed.
  • Cover bowl with plactic wrap and foil; refrigerate several hours or overnight.
  • Pour approximately 1/2 cup batter on preheated grid, close and bake.
  • We serve them with pure maple syrup, blueberry compote, or maple apple syrup (pictured).

Epiphany

March 23rd, 2014 by Scott Gile

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Scott & Mary
Brewster House Bed & Breakfast, Freeport, Maine

Epiphany
I know, I know, it sounds so overused, so trivialized!  Sometimes, maybe it’s simply a matter of re-examining your situation, or gaining a different perspective when we feel these little light-shafts of joy and revelation.  I also believe they usually come at a quieter time when you have the opportunity to really listen and feel, and not over-think your situation.  I had such a moment while touring the FABULOUS Maine Boat Builders Show with my good friend Mike last week!
It was one of those forty degree, sunny days in late winter when spring feels like a real promise, plus, being proximate to the ocean (like the mountains) always offers a promise of renewal and opportunity.  Mike and I can be comfortable effortlessly, and immersing ourselves in that cleansing boat/ ocean fantasy that was that fine exhibition was the perfect backdrop for such reflection and appreciation of our new home and work here in Maine!  I’ve been to lots of boat shows, but none so replete with the melding of artistic line, extreme quality, and expert craftsmanship, whether sail, power or human powered as this show!  Know that a similar show will be offered on the waterfront in Rockland at Harbor Park from August 8th to 10th, including a boat dog contest.  I will remind you!  Check out www.maineboats.com for details.
Rowing Canoes!
Anyway, I regress…….it occurred to me how lucky we are to be living in a thinly populated State complete with such enormous raw beauty and natural opportunity, and for us, working at a job where our guests are sharing our pleasure!  We get to take in the world from the top on those cold, crystalline days, before dancing down that magical white silent carpet through such magnificent wild forests.  In the spring & summer, we get to watch our world be reborn in soft greens and lilac smells, and that salty, earthy tang that comes with the tides breathing in and out.  Then there’s the water…..full of living things, especially where it splashes against the rocks, and the wind to ride with sails billowing!  In summer, we’re too busy to play in boats, but you aren’t!  I miss it!!  I think all of that is why coastal Maine has such a pool of amazingly talented cooks, artists, innkeepers and adventurers concentrated here. 

Top of Jordan Bowl, Sunday River
The more we visit Portland, the more I appreciate what a great place it is to spend time!  There is an AMAZING number of fabulous restaurants, and much of the waterfront looks like it might have in the 1800’s heydays of fishing sloops, packet ships, coastal schooners and world circling clippers.  The 3 and 4 story brick warehouses, many complete with old signs from the early 20thcentury, give it a very unique and warm flavor.    
I mentioned this in a previous blog, but it’s now official, the Nova Scotia ferry left Singapore last week and will be arriving in New England in early May, including a stop in Boston to show off.  She will start trips to Yarmouth on May 15thfor $79 each way, including an on-board casino and sleeping cabins.  So, stop here on the way out, or the way back and let us spoil you with a side adventure in Maine.  http://www.novastarcruises.com.     
Here’s a gift for putting up with my reverie;
OATMEAL WAFFLES W/ TRIPLE BERRY SYRUP
Serves 6
Ingredients-1            ½ cup flour
                        1 cup quick cooking oats
                        3 tsp baking powder
                        ½ tsp cinnamon
                        ¼ tsp salt
                        2 eggs separated
                        1-1/2 cups milk
                        6 tbspns melted butter
                        2 tbspns brown sugar
In a large bowl, mix first 5 ingredients.  In a small bowl, mix 2 egg yolks, cooled melted butter & milk w/ brown sugar. Add the egg yolk and milk mixture into dry ingredients.  In a medium bowl beat 2 egg whites until light and fluffy then fold into waffle batter.
Note:  To make this recipe lactose free, substitute 6 tablespoons vegetable oil for butter, & substitute soy or almond milk for milk.
                       
TRIPLE BERRY SYRUP
Ingredients-   1 cup of sugar
                        2 tbspns cornstarch
                        1 cup water
                        1 tbspn lemon juice
                        1 tbspn butter
                        1 cup frozen mixed berries
Note:  Fresh berries can also be used        
Combine sugar & cornstarch in a saucepan on stove.  Slowly add water & whisk until incorporated.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  When thickened, add 1 cup of mixed berries & reduce heat.  Simmer until the berries begin to burst.  Remove them from heat & add lemon & butter.
Serve over waffles w/ fresh crème fraiche or whipped cream & berries as a garnish.

Next time we make them, I promised I’ll take and post a photo! 

WHY THE MAINE BOATBUILDER’S SHOW?

March 4th, 2014 by Scott Gile

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Scott & Mary
Brewster House Bed & Breakfast, Freeport, Maine

I know, a second blog this week!  This is timely, so I had to get it to you, and I know some of you guys will jump right on this plan, whether it’s the Maine Boatbuilders Show, or Bath Blarney Days, OR BOTH!

Guys, we at Brewster House are acutely aware of the ladies penchant for shopping in Freeport, and your disinterest in same, so we will be making sure that you know about all the amazing “guy stuff” for you to get excited about hereabouts!  More on these opportunities in the upcoming months!
One prime example of VERY COOL MEN THINGS to do here soon is the annual Maine Boatbuilders Show at the Portland Company Complex, 58 Fore St., Portland.  The show will be on March 14th, 15th & 16th.  This show is the amazing gathering of Maine builders of wooden, fiberglass and metal boats, from canoes to 100’ yachts.  It’s where you get to see, touch, feel, explore  and consider your ultimate dream fishing, sailing, cruising, or just plain farting around boat, where art meets possibility and the classic lines of gorgeous downeast hulls thrill the discerning boaters eye.  We’re only 15 minutes north of Portland!  What could be better than that on an otherwise cold, dreary than indulging your fantasies?  I’ll be there!!  Check it out!    http://www.portlandcompany.com/boatShow/

 As an added kiss that weekend, my favorite local museum, the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, will be offering an evening entitled “VOICES OF THE SEA.”  The third annual event will feature professional fishermen, fisherwomen and mariners speaking about their lives and challenges on the Atlantic.  In Bath, it will take place on Friday evening, 3/14 at the Museum in concert with the celebration of Bath Blarney Days, a celebration of all things Irish.  On Saturday, another version will be offered in Portland, adjacent to the Boatbuilders show, with folksinger Gordon Bok and other Maine marine artists and poets on the evening following the show.  Learn more at http://mainemaritimemuseum.org/events/voices-sea/!

What better base for your comfort and weekend away than Brewster House?  We’d love to share the show and weekend with you, and hey, your Lady will want a say in your boat choice!  In March and April, we offer our Spring Serenity Special, which offers 3 nights for the price of two.  Come and visit and book your favorite room athttp://www.brewsterhouse.com!  You’ll die for Mary’s breakfast and afternoon cookies!  We just finished redoing the Cape Elizabeth and Cape Neddick rooms, check them out (new photos not on the web yet)!

      

TOTALLY PATHETIC!!

March 2nd, 2014 by Scott Gile

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Scott & Mary
Brewster House Bed & Breakfast, Freeport, Maine

Thanks to my children, one of the few skills I’ve learned in life is that there are times when you need to be able to laugh at yourself, and this one’s a classic!
Needless to say, our snow blower has had some serious exercise this winter.  Before the recent thaw, when the snowpack was at its peak here, we had a veritable glacial pack of ice on the slope of our driveway, leading down to the lower parking lot.  So, about a week and a half ago, my sister and I were headed out for a ski day, but the afternoon/ evening before we were bathed in about a foot of powder snow.  Of course, the inn-keeper cannot leave the inn and Mrs. Innkeeper in such an inaccessible situation, so after digging out a path from the cellar to the driveway for my trusty snow-blower, this veteran team (Scott and his trusted Ariens) headed down the path to attack the blanket covering the driveway.
Before we started our snow clearing campaign, my Wife warned that I should be wearing my elastic/ metal stud cleats over my boots, but of course I knew I could handle the ice with only the aid of my vintage LL Bean boots, and gazelle-like reflexes.  Well, it was SLICK as I and my trusted machine turned down slope, but only on the return up-slope swing would the folly of my ways become apparent!  About a third of the way up the hill, my feet started to slip and at the same time, it was so slick (think hockey rink), the snow-blower itself started sliding left as the knobby tires were desperately clawing for grip.  At about this point, yours truly assumed the grace of a seal on wet seaweed, so helpless that my death-grip on the blower handles only limited a catastrophic collapse to a cursing, graceless slide down-hill.  “Damn” I thought, “better get the cleats as Mary suggested.”  A PAINFUL MOMENT INDEED!
I managed to use the rougher snow beside the driveway to slog my way back up the driveway, muttering curses, to climb back inside (head bent low, having lost the first skirmish) and do as Mary suggested, before we went back into battle.  Having pulled my trusty LL Bean cleats over my boot soles, I headed back out to whop that hill.  OK, so now I can JUST make it up the hill, but the snow-blower is not wearing the same cleats.  The only strategy that got us both up the hill was the “dig into the deep side” with the left blower wheel, but it was crystal clear that the hill was NOT to be defeated that night.  So, with visions of being mangled by a helpless Ariens snow-blower, we reduced our plan to flanking the enemy, cleaning off only the upper driveway.  Man, am I clever, or what?       
After about ½ course up the upper lot, I felt the one cleat drop off of my boot.  OK, OK, so I STOMP back over to the back steps with the lost cleat in hand, plant my butt on the step and stretch that freakin thing back over my boot!  A couple of turns up and down the upper parking lot, I became aware that my left foot was feeling noticeably higher than my right, realizing with great irritation that one of the cleats had dropped off of my right boot AGAIN, searched up and down the lot for the bright red cleat.  UNBELIEVEABLY, that red cleat had disappeared!  ALRIGHT THEN, maybe it’ll show up in Spring!
So, I managed to follow the blower to the end of the job with my weird gait, left foot higher than right.  I should explain at this point that one cannot wear cleats on one’s beautiful maple wood floor without making it into a “distressed” floor, so there is a delicate ballet that goes with donning and removing them, as one leaves and re-enters the house.  After climbing back through the back door to drop my rear end onto the chair and wondering if I’d ever see the right cleat again, I removed the remaining cleat from my left boot.  As the cleat came off my left boot, I could feel something strange under the cleat.  You know the Beatles song “When I’m 64?”  There was cleat #2, RIGHT UNDER CLEAT #1!!

My Wife and Sister didn’t stop laughing and gasping for air for at least ½ hour!  TOTALLY PATHETIC!   Skiing was excellent the next day though!

THE NEW LONELY PLANET

February 23rd, 2014 by Scott Gile

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Scott & Mary
Brewster House Bed & Breakfast, Freeport, Maine

THE NEW LONELY PLANET!!
It’s not easy to come up with new & dynamic subject matter when it’s so (relatively) quiet and, unless you’re skiing (skating, curling, etc.), outside time tends to be limited.  We did have a busy Valentines Day weekend, with great guests though, and we enjoyed that!
We are involved in a new collaboration that will likely be THE great travel tool for all of you with mobile phones.  I’m going to guess that at least 40% of the guests I spoke to here since May 2013 used their phone at some point in the travel process here!  Of course, those numbers will explode in the next few years.
Brewster House is committed to a new effective website for you, and is always interested in improving on your ability to access ways to more easily enjoy your
time off.  To that end, we recently signed up to be a partner in a mobile travel web-site called GO TRIPPIN www.go-trippin.com.  GO-TRIPPIN is an affiliate of Google’s new Niantic Labs FIELD TRIP site.  Google is betting that mobile phone apps are already moving to dominate how folks find eating, playing, drinking, historic and other fun and interesting places.  Brewster House is the exclusive correspondent for Freeport, and as such, will be offering monthly articles and photos about THE BEST PLACES TO BE AROUND FREEPORT, whether it means eating, boating, beaching, shopping, etc.!
Do yourself a favor and add this app to your phone (it’s free)!  www.fieldtripper.com.  It is amazing in it’s growing depth and complexity!  Play with it, and be aware it can be as proactive, and as intrusive, or in the background and as limited as you choose, but I guaranty this will be the best tool you will see for a long time to enjoy wherever you may be!  If you dare, leave Field Trip running attached to Siri  and drive through an interesting area, , and you’ll start to understand what I’m presenting here!     
Our first piece will be for Azure Café, our local favorite place to eat and drink.  Since the pieces we write cannot be colored with our prejudices, I will reserve that for a monthly blog post, so keep checking in to share in the best that Freeport has to offer!    


We will be sharing a new recipe monthly in our blog, so keep an eye out for it.  My next blog is going to have you wetting yourselves with my latest “When I’m 64″ misadventure!  

Here’s a photo of our snowpack at it’s maximum last week!  I think I cleared the property FOUR TIMES in the last week.  Love to ski on it, but moving it……..
At least the sun is starting to feel like the sun when it’s out!  Next time I write, the Cape Neddick Room will be brandy new!

AHHHHHH, FEBRUARY!!

February 8th, 2014 by Scott Gile

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AHHH, FEBRUARY!!
Yup, we’re about ½ way through one real “old school” Maine winter!  Seems like we’re back in the snow cycle too!  My son (a school-teacher) skillfully predicted a “snow day” on Wednesday, and we thoroughly enjoyed a boot high “powda pig” day in the freshies!!  Nothing like skiing while snowing with almost no other skiers present!! Spent several awesome runs on Rogue Angel (Sunday River) in a long line of powder pillows.  Here’s Pat’s face to prove it!  Breathe Pat, breathe!
                                                          
Mary’s been intensely sewing new drapes, finding new furniture pieces, painting, buying new linens, and pillows.  She just finished the Cape Elizabeth Room today (minus graphic arts)! Brewster House recently acquired a lot of Real Maine artwork and photos, mat cutting equipment, etc., and are working on replacing what’s on many walls.
                                                   
I recently drove with my son down to Memphis to keep him company on the way to learning to be a USAF pilot in Mississippi.  Nice time with a very special young man!  We will sorely miss him!  Do you know what time 1P:G8 is?  Lesson to inn-keeper here!

                                                   
We just hosted “Reconnect Weekend” #2.  If you consider the picture left, it’s pretty clear how much of a weekend long blast you and yours could be having for a ridiculous price!  What a way to turn an otherwise boring, cold weekend into a fabulous reunion, filled with laughs, memories and great food!

Have an idea?  Call us!       
Up for a REAL MAINE pahty?  Stay with us, and ride to Camden for the Annual World Toboggan Championship at the Camden Snow Bowl!  http://winter.camdensnowbowl.com/24th-annual-us-national-toboggan-championships.  Here’s the picture – 400’ wooden chute, leads you out onto a frozen pond to run off steam, and let’s not forget the Mardi Gras style costumes and flowing beverages!!!  Check out the video  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWbITSiFcRY
Take advantage of our generosity for Valentines Day weekend!  We have a few precious rooms left and enjoy out February is for Romance special, which includes a bottle of bubbly, flowers and chocolates.  For the adventurous, throw in a snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or dog sled mushing adventure with the LL Bean Discovery Center http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/1000001692
“Flavors of Freeport” is coming up on Feb. 21st, and the tickets sell out, so don’t hesitate if you don’t want to miss out on the Chef’s Signature Series and the Ice Bar!!  All the best joints in town will be represented!  What else do you have to do that weekend??  Here’s the link http://www.freeportusa.com/flavorsoffreeport/. 

If you were a Brewster House Newsletter subscriber, you might have read some of this, but you would’ve really loved eating the Baked Stuffed Lobstas from my magic little English Grandmoter!  Not too late to sign up!

Scott & Mary Gile
Brewster House Bed & Breakfast, Freeport, Maine

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