Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lobster!

We are spoiled here on the coast of Maine. Lobster is always available and is fresh from a local lobster pound often right off the boat. No matter where you buy your lobster make sure they are fresh and lively and not lethargic. They should flap their tails when picked up out of the water.  

When you think of cooking lobsters, most think of a big pot of boiling water, when in reality steaming your lobsters (instead of boiling) results in a are more flavorful lobster, as well as takes less time to cook. All you need to do is fill a large pot with 2-inches of water and bring to a boil. Place the lobsters in backside down; this will trap the delicious juices in the shell. Cover and steam until bright red about 12 minutes for a 1-pounder and 20 minutes for a 2-pounder. To test if they are done, simply pull off one of the small legs. If it comes off easily it is done.


A 1 ½ pound lobster will yield about ½-pound or about 1 ½ cups lobster meat (less if it is a shedder). 
Keep it simple when it comes to serving lobster. There is no need for fancy sauces or stuffing. The meat is delicious on its own and most enjoy it dipped in a little melted butter.


 




A few fun facts about lobsters

  • Lobsters, like all crustaceans, molt when they outgrow their shells.  Typically this happens around mid-summer which is when you can find shedders. A tasty sweet tender treat, they are less expensive, but also have less meat. And although the hard shell lobsters often provide more meat, it does tend to be a little tougher.
  • Interested in knowing whether the lobster is a female or male? Look on the underside at the base of the tail. There will be two feelers. If the feelers are hard it is a male and if they are feathery it is a female.
  • A one pound lobster is typically about 5-7 years old

Enjoy the sweet, sweet taste of lobster!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Happy Birthday, Julia

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook,” stated Julia Child. An American cooking expert, author and television personality, Julia was known for her promotion of traditional French fare. As the first woman to be inducted into the Culinary Institute Hall of Fame in 1993, she paved the way for Americans to move away from frozen and packaged food and to look at preparing their food differently. Her wit, enthusiasm and humble personality stole America’s heart as she turned into an unlikely star during her popular cooking series, “The French Chef” which premiered in 1963.

Image courtesy of www.biography.com
It’s no secret that we’re Julia Child aficionados around here – so much so, that we dedicate seven days in our Cooking School to her every August during the week of her birthday. These wonderful (and arguably most popular) classes are taught by staff and guests chefs and feature some of her best recipes. 

Patty Roche, our Culinary Specialist, teaches every year during this exceptional week. 

“What is special about Julia Child week is that we’ve been doing it from the inception of the Cooking School. It’s something that our guests look forward to each year,” said Roche. 

Today, she is paying tribute to Julia with a special birthday menu that includes:


  • Coquilles St. Jacques a la Provençale - Scallops Gratinéed with Wine, Garlic and Fresh Herbs
    • Two of Julia's favorite ingredients, butter an wine, meld together with fresh scallops, garlic and herbs for a sinfully delicious appetizer.
  • Fricassee de Poulet A L'Ancienne - Slow Braised Chicken in Stock and White Wine
    • A traditional Sunday dinner dish - chicken pieces are turned in hot butter, sprinkled with flour and seasonings then simmered in wine and white stock.



  • Pomme de Terre à l’Huile – French Potato Salad of Sliced Potatoes in an Oil and Vinegar Dressing
    • French potato salad that is prepared while the boiled, sliced potatoes are still warm, so they will absorb the dressing. Delicious eaten warm or cold.
  • Choux de Bruxelles Etsuves au Beurre - Brussels Sprouts Braised in Butter
    • Julia recommends dressing up these Brussels Sprouts with cream, cheese or chestnuts if you're looking for a variation.
  • Gâteau de Crêpes à la Normande – Mound of Crêpes with Apples
    • Instead of having individual stuffed crêpes, which can be labor intensive, these are topped with a layer of filling between each crêpe.

This flavorful menu would make a delightful dinner party if you choose to host your own Julia Child celebration. Julia’s recipes for the dishes listed above can be found in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” volume one.  

When planning your dinner party, be sure to pick up wines that will complement your menu selection. Below are some suggestions from Julia herself:
  • To compliment your scallops, serve with a chilled rosé, or dry white wine. 
  • To compliment your chicken, serve with a chilled, fairly full-bodied white Burgundy, Côtes du Rhône, or Bordeaux-Graves.
  • Having champagne on ice is a nice touch if you're celebrating Julia's birthday, also.

Set your table in an elegant, yet rustic French fashion. Start with a basic off-white or cream colored tablecloth and use a rustic table runner (burlap is always a nice touch). Enhance with colorful wild flowers and simple place settings. Try adding ribbon tied quotes to each napkin highlighting some of Julia’s favorite sayings. We love “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream."
 
Bon appétit!