Category Archives: maine
Most weekends in Maine call for a lobster dinner. That might seem like a luxury, but at $5 a pound or less, it’s not that extravagant. We have our favorite source, a guy in a truck who shows up in a nearby parking lot. Year after year, his lobsters are excellent. He sells fish and other shellfish, but the furthest we’ve ventured beyond lobster is steamers.
Our lobster guy usually has soft-shell lobsters. You don’t often see these outside of Maine because they do not travel well. A soft-shell lobster is still an American lobster (homarus Americanus), just at a different stage in its life cycle. A lobster’s hard shell doesn’t grow. The way a lobster gets bigger is to form a new shell under the old and then sheds the old one. The lobster will usually eat the old shell, and the calcium will start the strengthening of the new shell. The younger the lobster, the more frequently it molts. Though soft-shell lobsters have a little less meat, but we find them much sweeter. Definitely a treat all summer long.
This summer, our habit has been to buy three lobsters, one lobster for each of us for dinner, and an extra for Bella the dog. Actually, that’s a joke. Bella’s lobster gets cooked along with dinner and shelled in anticipation of the next day’s lunch.
I start with a simple lobster salad. The knuckles, claws, and tail of one lobster makes enough salad for two generous lobster rolls. The salad needs something crunchy. Usually, I use chopped celery and scallions, but in the early summer, I’ve been known to use radish or fresh raw peas. The tiniest daub of mayonnaise binds it all together. Chopped fresh parsley makes it beautiful.
The vehicle to carry the lobster salad to your tummy is an unglamorous top-loading hot dog bun. These buns are native to New England. When I was growing up in Maryland, the only place I ever saw this kind of bun was at Howard Johnson’s (fried clam rolls!), also native to New England. These are the kind with soft sides and crust only on the top edges. To perfect the sandwich, the outside of the bun is lightly browned in butter.
As summer comes to an end, I’m already missing these weekend indulgences!
Maine Lobster Rolls
Knuckles, claw meat, and tail from a 1½ pound cooked lobster, cut into ½-inch chunks
1 scallion, sliced thin
½ stalk celery, diced into ¼ pieces
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley
1 Tbsp butter
2 top-loading hot dog buns
To make the lobster salad: In a medium bowl, combine lobster meat, scallions, celery, and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper. Add parsley and gently combine.
Melt the butter in a skillet. Coat both sides of the rolls in the melted butter. Lightly brown one side of the buttered bun, about 2 minutes. Turn and lightly brown the other side. Pat the sides with a paper towel to absorb any extra butter.
Divide the lobster salad between the two buns. Serve with potato chips or potato salad. Smile and enjoy!
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Overheard last week at our favorite farmstand (Chipman Farm) in Maine. Uncharacteristically, there was a box of California corn for sale. Usually, they only have vegetables they grow themselves. Teenaged girls enter the farmstand, and ask the woman working “What’s the difference between California corn and Maine corn?” We were on our way back to the car, but this stopped us in our tracks. She politely answered, “California corn is grown in California, and Maine corn is grown in Maine”. The girls said, “We’d like to buy Maine corn”. Howard and I turned to each other and smirked. Howard said, “They’ll have to wait a few more months then”.
I continue to be amazed how out of touch people can be about food and seasons. We try to eat with the seasons, and this is the time of year I wait for, especially in the wasteland between the last days of winter and the long days of early spring. Summertime fresh fruits and vegetables, locally grown, are finally available.
This summer, we are members of the CSA at Waltham Fields Community Farm. We’re in the third week. So far, lots of greens (kale, collards, chard, spinach, arugula. cabbage) and spring roots (radishes, turnips, beets, scallions). I love the challenge of making meals from what we pick up each week. With this CSA, we have some choice in what we get, but it’s still limited to what’s ripe and ready and coming in from the field.
It’s also strawberry season. Last weekend, we had our annual picking and jam making weekend. We picked over 20 pounds of gorgeous strawberries at Spiller Farm in Wells Maine. Then we spent the evening making strawberry freezer jam: four batches. I prefer freezer jam to the truly canned version because the berries aren’t cooked and retain the fresh flavor when we eat it in the midst of winter. We eat a spoonful into yogurt for breakfast every morning.
Here’s a few of the things I’ve made so far:
Vietnamese Chicken Salad
I also took some inspiration from what was in the refrigerator to make this early summer salad with radishes and peas. The vibrant colors were gorgeous.
Minty Radish and Pea Salad
½ cup shelled peas
12 sugar snap peapods
1 scallion, sliced
1½ Tbsp olive oil
½ Tbsp cider vinegar
½ tsp honey
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2-3 Tbsp slivered mint leaves (from 1 large sprig)
Scrub and trim the radishes. Cut half of them into quarters lengthwise. Slice the other half thinly, crosswise.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with ice and water. Blanch the shelled peas by cooking in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Scoop them out and cool in the ice bath. Boil the peapods for 3 minutes and transfer them to the ice bath as well. Drain the peas and pat dry. Cut the cooked peapods in half crosswise.
In a small jar, add olive oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Shake well to combine.
In a medium bowl, combine the radishes, peas, and scallion with the dressing. Add the mint leaves and toss well.