LEWISTON – Norman Burnell is proof that you don’t have to have a spacious kitchen to be a top-notch cook. “One of my biggest challenges is the size of my kitchen. We have a very small kitchen, 8- by 8-foot, which includes the appliances. That leaves about a 4- by 5-foot area.” Burnell makes the most of it. “I have as many spices as you can fit on the first shelf of the cupboard, and plenty of fresh garlic and shallots.”

Burnell got his start in cooking because his wife, Donna, encouraged him to try new things. He gets ideas from dishes he samples at restaurants, as well as from cooking shows, recipes from magazines and his own imagination. “I really don’t have favorite recipe or dish,” Burnell says. “It is whatever someone asks for or I just open the cupboard and create.”

In addition to being IT manager at Formed Fiber Technologies in Auburn, Burnell is co-owner of Whoopiepies.com, an Internet baked goods delivery service based at Labadie’s Bakery on Lincoln Street in Lewiston. The Web site offers home delivery of delicious items such as gift baskets, creme horns and, of course, whoopie pies.

One of Burnell’s favorite kitchen memories is when a family member offered his “help” on one of the biggest holidays of the year. It was then that he learned that not all men are as handy in the kitchen. “My brother-in-law (now deceased) was standing in the middle of the floor while I am trying to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, asking if he could help. The only thing was, he was not doing a single thing!”

Burnell’s advice to new cooks is simple: “Watch, look, listen and be creative. Try all kinds of spices in your recipes even if you don’t think it would go. Mexican spice in Asian foods, toss in pieces of fruit even when it doesn’t call for it.”

Norman and Donna Burnell live in Lewiston. They have two grandchildren, Zachary and Mackenzie Labadie, and two daughters, Jennifer Labadie and Kimberly Foskett (along with their hungry husbands). In his spare time, Burnell loves spending time with his grandchildren and just spending time in the kitchen.

Linguine with chicken scampi and broccoli
2 crowns of broccoli, cut into flowerets

1 pound chicken breast fillets

1 can chicken broth

1 egg, beaten

1 cup bread crumbs

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons McCormick lemon-herb chicken seasoning mix

4 tablespoons Pillsbury Wondra flour (comes in a round container)

¼ teaspoon pepper

½ cup olive oil

4 tablespoons of butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

Juice of half lemon

1 pound package of good-quality linguine, cooked

4 tablespoons butter

½ cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Lemon wedges (optional)
Steam broccoli so it’s halfway done and set aside. Cook linguine per instructions on package.

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Cut into ½-inch pieces. Dip chicken in egg. Roll in bread crumbs, mixed with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Sauté chicken in olive oil in a skillet, until chicken is golden brown. Remove chicken to warm platter or cover with tin foil.

Wipe out skillet with paper towel. Melt butter in skillet. Add garlic, lemon juice, 1 can chicken broth, let simmer a couple of minutes. Toss in chicken, McCormick seasoning, broccoli flowerets and Wondra flour. Spoon chicken and sauce over linguine that has been tossed with 4 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle with parsley, garnish with lemon wedges. Serves 6.
Roast pork with cranberry and walnut stuffing
4 to 5 pounds boneless roast pork

2 shallots, diced

5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 box Stove Top stuffing for pork

1 16-ounce can low-salt chicken broth

¼ cup Cranraisins

¼ cup Sunsweet fruit bits

¼ cup of chopped prunes (cherry essence flavor)

¼ cup of chopped walnuts

5 tablespoons butter

2 to 3 feet of butcher’s twine

Olive oil

Pillsbury Wondra gravy flour

Gravy Master
Salt and pepper
Empty can of chicken broth in a medium saucepan along with 4 tablespoons of butter and bring to a boil. Stir in package of stuffing until it’s well mixed, and then add in all the dried fruit and walnuts, cover and set aside. Saute the shallots and garlic in a tablespoon of butter for about 30 seconds and add to stuffing mix.

Lay pork roast on a cutting board with one end facing you. Take a sharp knife and start by cutting it lengthwise at about two-thirds of the thickness and continue this until the roast lays out flat. Each roast is a little different, so don’t worry that it’s not perfect. You can also pay your butcher to butterfly it for you. Cut several pieces of twine and lay them under the roast.

Spread the stuffing mixture on the roast and start rolling it like a jellyroll. Then, starting in the middle, tie roast at several locations.

In a roasting pan, add about 2 cups of water, ¼ cup olive oil, salt and fresh ground pepper. Place roast in and cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Let roast set for 15-20 minutes before slicing.
Gravy method:
Remove roast and place pan on a burner. Add 3 cups of water to the roasting pan along with 1 tablespoon of Gravy Master. Use a whisk to stir it until gravy begins to bubble. Shake and stir in Wondra Gravy flour until it reaches the desired thickness of gravy. It’s best to keep it thin. Do not strain out pieces of stuffing that came out of the roast.
Norm’s note: Serve roast with gravy, mashed sweet potatoes with cinnamon and fresh buttered green beans. Serves 6.
Norm’s honey butter haddock
1 to 2 pieces of fresh haddock

½ stick of butter or margarine

½ cup honey
1 cup Ritz cracker crumbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a glass baking dish with tin foil. Melt ¼ to ½ stick of butter and pour into lined baking dish. Place haddock in baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.

Place crackers in a plastic bag and hammer with a flat item.

After 15 minutes, remove dish from oven, drizzle haddock with honey and cover with crushed Ritz crackers.

Return haddock to oven and bake five more minutes.
Norm’s note: Serve with onion-mashed or baked potatoes, vegetables and rolls, plus chardonnay or another white wine. Could use white Zinfandel.

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