31 Oct Special of the day: Postcard from Maine: A Whole Lotta Luscious Lobsta and So Much More
“Don’t eat too much lobster, Mom,” our daughter Mackenzie quipped, bidding me goodnight over the phone the first night away on my annual girls’ getaway earlier this month. But when in Maine, I thought to myself, could there be such a thing, as too much lobster?
Excuse me, make that: too much lobsta. Harvested year-round in Maine, over 100 million pounds of lobster was caught in 2011, making it a big commodity and a huge contributor to the state’s economy.
And so, naturally, it was lobsta here, lobsta there, lobsta, lobsta, everywhere we went. Not surprisingly, lobster was the star of the show at Sharon Joyce’s Ambrosia Cooking School the first evening we spent learning about Maine Cooking in Bar Harbor.
After casually retrieving the two lobsters from the kitchen refrigerator, where they had been “sleeping”, she said, she slipped them into the steaming pot of boiling water for 12 to 15 minutes. Honestly, that was about it until she fished them out of the water and walked us through what to do with them after they’ve been cooked, which included discarding the green liver, plucking the claws off and wrapping them in newspaper before tapping them with a hammer to crack, pulling the tail off and slitting the shell down the center to more easily extract the cooked meat. This simple preparation of cooked lobster by Joyce was served with melted butter or apple cider vinegar for dipping.
There’s more to Maine than just lobster, though. The Pine Tree State is the largest producer of wild blueberries in the world. Other local products include cranberries, shrimp, fiddleheads, mussels, potatoes and maple syrup. Joyce’s repertoire of recipes revolved around local Maine products (chowder, Maine mussels, blueberry muffins), but perhaps most impressive were her popovers which puffed high above their pan due to Joyce’s persistence with solving what she called her “Popover Problems”. Ultimately she noted that having all ingredients at room temperature and oiling the popover pan with sunflower oil were essential to a popover’s success. (Joyce graciously shared her popover recipe with us, if you’re interested in trying them out for yourself.)
And speaking of successful popovers…If you’re headed to Maine, you really must plan to hike or bike in Acadia National Park and visit the adorable Jordan Pond House for one of the famous popovers (with butter and fresh strawberry jam) they have been baking there since the late 1800s. Our waiter told us they bake between 4,000 and 6,000 of these beauties a day at the Pond House. Such a treat to enjoy after a hike around the lake.
Decadent Lobster Eggs Benedict for breakfast at our Harborside Hotel the next morning did not disappoint and dinner at a local watering hole in Bar Harbor was quite honestly the best lobster I ate during the whole trip.
How could something so simple be so delicious? A convincing argument for eating what’s fresh and local, I say. Lightly dressed lobster salad in a buttered grilled roll-what could be better?
Well, high on my list would have to be the perfect pairings at historic inns and resorts along the Kennebunkport Foodie Tour we enjoyed. Our indulgences included Lobster Pate a Choux (lobster cream puff) served with a white wine spritzer at the Cape Arundel Inn, Pan-Seared Scallop Crostini and a St. Germain Cocktail at The Colony, and an array of amazing appetizers by Chef Jeff Duhaime including Lobster Crostini at the Nonantum Resort with their Ocean Avenue Spritzer.
Too much lobster? Honestly, I can’t say that I grew weary of the lobsta. I loved every luscious bite.
Bringing a taste of Maine home to you is this week’s Special of the day: Postcard from Maine: A Whole Lotta Luscious Lobsta and So Much More… and recipes for Sharon Joyce’s Popovers, Chef Jeff’s Lobster Crostinis, Cucumber Dill Salad, Chef Steve True’s Date Topaz, Cape Arundel Inn Wine Spritzer, St. Germain Cocktail and Ocean Avenue Spritzer. Happy cooking (and mixing)!
Food photography by Sydne George.
Sharon Joyce’s Popovers
Makes four popovers
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature before starting.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Using a paper towel dipped in oil, thoroughly oil the insides of a popover pan.
(Sharon likes using sunflower oil. Vegetable oil works fine, too.)
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and flour until smooth.
Distribute batter evenly to make 4 popovers.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until evenly browned.
Remove from pan and serve hot with butter.
Chef Jeff’s Lobster Crostinis
Recipe by Chef Jeff Duhaime
Mix finely chopped garlic and a good amount of olive oil in a shallow flat dish.
Slice French bread/baguette a little thicker than 1/4 inch and quickly dredge the slices through the garlic and oil, not soaking up to much oil.
Bake the slices on a cookie pan at 350 for about 10 min until golden brown and let cool.
In a separate dish of course
Add coarse chopped precooked lobster meat
Squeeze some fresh lemon and add mayonnaise to your taste and stir making a lobster salad.
I like to keep the lemon and mayonnaise light as not to overwhelm the lobster taste.
Place the lobster meat on the garlic toast and you have Lobster Crostini!
Serve chilled and you have a nice quick easy appetizer.
The crostini being the key it also works well with just about anything…
be creative, chicken, sliced Beef, smoked salmon, etc.
Cucumber Dill Salad
Recipe by Chef Jeff Duhaime
Slice or chop up a cucumber to your liking add vinegar, salt, sugar, dried dill weed, and a touch of oil to give it a shine and some finely diced onion.
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and adjust to your taste.
This also makes a nice relish to top something like salmon if you just chop up the cucumber and onion finer.
Marinate for a couple of hours and you’re good to go.
Chef Steve True’s Date Topaz
Recipe by Chef Steve True
Take 1/2 piece of pitted date and 1/4 inch slice of cooked chorizo sausage
and wrap in a 1/2 slice of bacon, put a toothpick through it and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.
I suppose you could use any sausage but the slightly spicy chorizo and the sweetness of the date go well together and everything tastes great wrapped in bacon.
Be careful not to burn the bottom as the sugar in the date tends to make the bottom cook much quicker.
Blueberry and cranberry stilton are available on the internet.
Cape Arundel Inn Wine Spritzer
Chill wine glass with ice
1 part Greco Di Tufo (Campania, Italy, dry white wine)
2 parts Sprite
Garnish with a lemon slice
St. Germain Cocktail (Colony)
2 oz Blanc de Blanc
1 1/2 oz St Germain
2 oz club soda
Ocean Avenue Spritzer (Nonantum)
Fill a large glass with ice, add:
1 1/2 oz. Don Q Limon Rum
2 oz. Honeymaker Blueberry Mead
Add Green Bee Honey soda.
Garnish with a lemon twist, fresh blueberries and a sprig of rosemary.
Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at email@example.com . Sydne’s recipes from “Special of the day” are archived at https://sydnegeorge.com/blog/.