Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Maine Voyage | Lobster Corn Chowder with Mussels and Clams

Its that time of year again. The trip to Bar Island to visit my aunt Julie and all the characters north of Ellsworth. I look forward to this trip so much every year, it's transports me to a place where my Blackberry refuses to get service and happy hour never starts later than four On The Dot. An amazing landscape that reminds you that this earth was carved out of the awesome power of mother nature, and her bounty is plentiful and giving if you treat it with respect and only take what you need.

The meal above was the culmination of more than one fishing expedition, but it started like this.
We started by sitting on the rocks, still radiating heat from the days full sun, sipping beverages and snacking on appetizers, dinner was crabmeat salad and lots and lots of wine.

The next day proved to be just as beautiful, with bright blazing sun, we took the boat out to catch a glimpse of the Puffins, famous in this area this time of year. They didn't disappoint. But, the highlight was waiting for low tide so I could strap on the muck boots and rake for mussels for dinner. 


This is what happens when you don't watch your footing... you do the horrible dead leg stuck in the mud dance for a good ten minutes while your loving husband laughs and points at you.

But then, you free yourself (and hopefully your boot) and start to working.

And when your done raking and debearding and washing you steam them and then good Lordy you put them in the smoker and make smoked mussels which if you haven't had you're really missing out on something.
The next morning proved to be rainy and overcast, but the weather broke just long enough for us to head out and catch up with Bill, the lobsterman and watch him and his sternman pull traps for a few hours. 

This is the view from the back of the boat.

This is a beautiful example of an egg bearing female. In Maine if you find a female loaded with eggs like this, you have to notch her and throw her back and she can never be caught and kept, she must always be put back into the water to help with reproduction. This is one of the prime reasons that the Maine lobstering community is doing so well; the population of lobster isn't depleted there like it is in Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, this lobster can be pulled from the water, loaded with eggs and brought to the pound and sold. Take note Massachusetts, start instituting some best practices and maybe you won't be faced with a 5 year lobstering ban due to reduced lobster populations.

You can see in the picture above that her tail doesn't have any notches in it. Below you can see that we have notched her tail so she is never in danger of being removed from the ocean.

Another best practice in Maine is the policy that you have to throw back lobsters of a certain size, too large or too small lobsters must all be put back into the ocean, the small ones because they are not ready yet, and the oversized large ones because of their ability to fertilize the eggs of females. Below is a picture of them measuring the lobster to make sure it meets the standards.

This one is the perfect size, but the guy below is going for a ride right back into the drink.

The weekend was filled with many other memorable moments, but onto the recipe...which I found online, I adapted the William Sonoma Recipe, choosing this one because it utilized the shells and body to make a homemade lobster broth.

Lobster Corn Chowder with Mussels and Clams (adapted from William Sonoma)

1 tbsp Canola Oil
4 cups of water
1 cup of clam stock (I used the stock from steaming the clams, or just buy bottled)
3 ears of corn, kernels removed (and corn cobs reserved)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 cups of milk (or cream)
1 cups of dry vermouth (or wine, sherry)
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, diced into 1/2" cubes
1/2 jalapeno seeded, deveined and diced small
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp chopped fresh chives
(I also added some left over clams and mussels from the previous day)

Fill a large pot wiht 2" water, set over high heat and bring to a boil; add lobsters, cover and cook until lobsters are red, about 7 minutes. Transfer lobsters to a large ice bath to cool. Remove meat from claws, knuckles and tails and refrigerate meat until ready to use. Reserve shells and bodies.

In a large pot over high heat, warm oil. Add reserved lobster shells and bodies and saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add water and clam juice (you can also use the broth from the lobster), vermouth (or wine/sherry), and corn cobs. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, 25 - 30 minutes.

In a Dutch oven over medium heat the onion, carrots, celery and corn kernels and jalapeno, and saute stirring until tender, 4 - 5 minutes.

Strain lobster - corn cob broth into Dutch oven, add milk and vermouth and bring to a simmer. Stir in potatoes, return to a simmer and reduce heat to a medium-low. Cook until potatoes are tender - about 15 - 20 minutes. Stir in lobster meat, (mussles and clams), salt, pepper, thyme and chives. Cook stirring occasionally until lobster is heated through, 2 - 3 minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Rating = So Damn Good 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Meet the Famous "Avocado Lime Dip"

This is the dip that made all the ladies swoon and say..."ooh, you have to post this recipe". For those of you who haven't tried it, do yo'self a favor and make a batch, and for the ladies who did try it at my house, leave a post to say how much it rocked.

This is another recipe ripped from the pages of Vegetable Planet. 

Avocado Lime Dip

1 Haas avocado peeled and pitted
3 tbsp lime juice (I used the zest of the lime as well)
3 tbsp sour cream
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp ground coriander
1 garlic clove minced
3 tsp canola oil (the recipe called for 1/4 cup which I thought was obnoxious.
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
(I also added a little fresh mined jalapeno)

In a food processor combine lime juice, zest, sour cream, cilantro, coriander and garlic. Blend well. With processor still running add the oil (I actually think because I lowered the amount so much you can just add in the first step). Mix in salt and pepper to taste.

This can be stored (covered) in the fridge for 5 days.

Rating = So God Damn Good

Wanna feel old, it's the 20th anniversary of Mariah Carey's first album. Gulp.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Garden Update July 10

The Garden Overall

Heirlooms just starting to show their stuff

Burpless Cucumbers finally growing

Crooked Neck Squash

Eggplant (get in my belly!)

Pickling Cucumbers (canning next week!)

Can anyone say Jalapeno Jelly?

Banana Peppers

And some flowers!

I'm officially already sick of zucchini, I ate it every night this week. Bring on the Zucchini Relish!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Italian Bread and Tomato Salad | Vegetable Planet

I know, terrible horrible picture, sorry. I promise it tastes amazing. I've been wanting to make bread salad for years ever since I saw "Tits" (read, Giada) make it on the food network. I don't know why it took me so long to make it, maybe it's been the lack of a large amount of stale bread in the house, I don't know, but I will make sure there is bread for this recipe again soon. Here goes:

Italian Bread and Tomato Salad | Vegetable Planet
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp water
2 garlic cloves minced
6 cups cubed stale or lightly toasted bread (I used a seeded French loaf that was so hard you could probably hammer nails with it)
6 plum tomatoes cut into wedges (I used grape tomatoes, halved)
1 small red onion diced
1 cup chopped basil, dill and cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

1. In a large bowl, mix the vinegar, olive oil, water and garlic. Add the bread, and let it soak for 5 to 10 minutes. 

2.  Add the rest of the ingredients, taste, and add more salt and pepper if you need to. Serve immediately. (I actually had this salad the next day and because my bread was so stale it tasted better the next day, I'm sure this won't be the case if your bread isn't as stale as mine was.)

Rating = So Damn Good

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Cod Cooked Over Sauteed Vegetables


The garden is going great guns right now. Just this very morning I picked two zucchinis (which really should have been picked yesterday) and one banana pepper. I think I am going to make banana zucchini muffins as I have two bananas that are as black as the day is long sitting in my fruit bowl. 

I also have a problem, a rabbit problem. I've seen him sneaking into the backyard to feast on the tasty leaves of my basil and the flowers of my peppers. I've become a crazy person, running out of the back door while screaming..."get the fuck out of my garden" fists raised in the air chasing after a bunny rabbit. Yeah, their cute and all until they attack your garden. And, I'm not proud to admit it, but I was driving down the street the other day when the rabbit bolted out in front of me and I TRIED TO HIT IT WITH MY CAR. Isn't that rich, the vegetarian decisively aiming her vehicle at a rabbit trying to kill it. We're buying a rabbit fence today, that better work or I'm getting all Elmer Fudd on that rabbits bitch ass.
So, need an easy dinner with what you've got on hand? I took a saute pan over medium heat, added a little olive oil, sliced onion, zucchini, summer squash, carrot and whatever random veggie was still lurking in the fridge sauteed them all together with a little white wine and a few fresh thyme sprigs, and when they were softened I laid some nice fresh cod fillets on top and let them cook right over the vegetables. Delicious.