How to have an authentic “down east” lobster bake

17 09 2009

Growing up, we would have lobster bakes every once in a while on a major summer holiday.  My Uncles would get up early, dig a pit in an unused part of the yard, line it with rocks, and get the fire started.  Meanwhile, my brother and I would go with Grandma to get the lobsters.  We usually bought them right on the docks from local lobster-men.  We would then go to a rocky part of the shore (aren’t they all rocky in Maine?) and begin harvesting seaweed in large garbage bags.  We needed a lot of sea weed- the kind that has pods holding sea water on them- not the flat seaweed that you see on the West coast.  We loved scurrying around the rocks pulling up seaweed- and we always smelled like the ocean when we got back.  By the time we got back to the house, the rocks were getting good and hot.  We got busy cleaning the silk out of ears of corn and rinsing the clams (steamers) out in a bath of water.  When the time came, we layered seaweed on top of the hot rocks, then layered the following: potatoes, corn, clams, lobster and sometimes kielbasa. Then we put more seaweed on top and covered the whole thing with a tarp- to bake, well actually steam- the water from the seaweed steamed all of the food within.  When done we filled our plates and ate until we couldn’t eat anymore.

The lobster bake that Aunt A and Uncle J put on was very similar- except my uncles didn’t do all the heavy lifting, and we didn’t have to gather our own seaweed.  Paul and his wife had everything taken care of and the whole process down to a science.  The big pan that they had was cool- it had drain holes to let excess water out and it was easily move on and off the hot rocks.  Check out the process:

After the fire is built and sufficiently hot, start with a bed of seaweed and add corn, potatoes, and lobster!

After the fire is built and sufficiently hot, start with a bed of seaweed and add corn, potatoes, and lobster!

Keep adding lobster, kielbasa and bags of steamers

Keep adding lobster, kielbasa and bags of steamers

Look at all that goodness!

Look at all that goodness!

Cover it up with more seaweed... whew this is tiresome!

Cover it up with more seaweed... whew this is tiresome!

 Check out this great set up- all of the prep work is done with the pan off the direct heat- once done you move it over the heat to begin cooking- this avoids some layers cooking too fast.

Check out this great set up- all of the prep work is done with the pan off the direct heat- once done you move it over the heat to begin cooking- this avoids some layers cooking too fast.

Cover the pile with a canvas cloth that has been soaking in water.

Cover the pile with a canvas cloth that has been soaking in water.

Cover it all with a blanket to keep all the steam and goodness inside- tuck it in nice and tight!

Cover it all with a blanket to keep all the steam and goodness inside- tuck it in nice and tight!

Move the whole thing over the hot rocks and let her cook!

Move the whole thing over the hot rocks and let her cook!

Once done uncover and discover the perfectly cooked feast!

Once done uncover and discover the perfectly cooked feast!

Collect the food... look at those guys!

Collect the food... look at those guys!

Awesome!  We learned a lot!  My lesson of the day- Take the rubber bands off the claws before cooking- this avoids a slight rubber taste- but watch out for those claws!

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Quasi-Cuban feast from the garden

31 08 2009

Life has been so crazy since the middle of July.  It feels like there hasn’t been a weekend (or many weeknights) when we haven’t had something to do.  The garden has taken a back seat to so many things- moving Matt to the new townhouse, fixing stuff  (slowly) up at the townhouse, having guests, spending time at the Duplex because the kitties went on strike (I was spending too much time at the townhouse) getting ready to go back east… the list goes on and on.  Thankfully the square foot garden is low maintenance, so our plants haven’t suffered too much from neglect.  Back a week or two ago, Matt and I made an impromptu Quasi Cuban feast with leftovers from the fridge and veggies/herbs from our garden.

First up: Mojitos

I planted mint with the intention of makng mojitos- a classic cuban drink (sigh- I loved them since before they were fashionable!).  I found this traditional recipe and went to work.

Fresh Lime Juice, Fresh Mint from the garden- yummm

Fresh Lime Juice, Fresh Mint from the garden- yummm

muddle with pestal

muddle with pestal

some sugar, rum, and seltzer water (in the glass and on my shirt) and enjoy.. yum

some sugar, rum, and seltzer water (in the glass and on my shirt) and enjoy.. yum

Next up: Salsa

The tomatoes are really starting to come in and we have quite a few jalapenos. You know what that means? Salsa!

Matt adapted this recipe a little: Fresh Tomato Salsa

The result? Amazing!

A little watery here but a little cornstarch fixes that

A little watery here but a little cornstarch fixes that

Finally: Grilled Turkey Cuban Sandwiches

We had some turkey and cheese left over and decided to run with the Cuban theme. Trusty Epicurious to the rescue with this recipe. We supplied fresh mint. No Panni press? No problem- the recipe suggested placing tin foil over the sandwiches,then a skillet, and finally place heavy cans in the skillet to weigh down the sandwiches-your own panni press!

Panni Hack!

Panni Hack!

Yum!

Yum!

Not bad!





Swiss Chard, Bacon, and Ricotta Ravioli with Tomato Sauce

20 06 2009

We harvested our first little bit of Swiss chard.  Like the lettuce, we just trim of some of the swiss chard and the plants will continue to produce, looks like we’ll be enojoying swiss chard all summer!  Here is a picture of some of the yummy goodness:

First Harvet, Swiss Chard

First Harvet, Swiss Chard

I heart Epicurious! It’s one of the best resources on the web for recipes.  BF and I found this easy recipe for Swiss chard, bacon, and Ricotta Ravioli.  We replaced the won ton wrappers with fresh lasagna pasta sheets and it was super easy.

place a tablespoon of your filling on a strip of pasta

place a tablespoon of your filling on a strip of pasta

Wet your finger and trace the pasta edges

Wet your finger and trace the pasta edges

Fold pasta over and press all he air out, sealing the edges

Fold pasta over and press all he air out, sealing the edges

Volia! Fresh homemade ravioli!- cook... and serve!

Fresh homemade ravioli!- cook... and serve!

Serve with mild tomato sauce and stir fried swiss chard stems (yum)

Serve with mild tomato sauce and stir fried Swiss chard stems (yum)





Easter Dinner Cook-A-Thon

24 04 2009

Easter was amazing this year (well, it’s amazing every year, but the food was amazing this year). I would have blogged immediately about he cook-a-thon that we did, but I lost all of my Easter photos somehow… The pictures were incredible, but they have vanished into the ether. Easter dinner was Mom, BF, my dear friend H, and H’s BF came for desert.  The only photos I have from the whole weekend are the pictures of the butter that BF and I made.  Yes you heard me right, we made our own butter- so cool.  As with all of the recipes from Easter weekend, we found it online.

BUTTER!

BUTTER!

The Stir Fry Sweet and Savory Asparagus is a simple recipe that my grandmother liked to make.

  • 2 lbs fresh asparagus
  • 2 Tbsps Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 3 Tbsps Water

Cut asparagus into one-inch diagonal pieces. Heat oil in pan and stir asparagus for 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and cook 5-8 minutes stirring occasionally. Serve hot.

We had a blast cooking from morning to night, listening to music and dancing round the kitchen. Hope you enjoy some of these recipes too.