I don’t consider myself a sailor, but I just can’t go to Maine without getting out there on the water pretending to own a boat (at least for a few hours) and this trip was no exception.
It was up in the air as to which day we were going to sail, but we got the call and jumped at the chance to go out on such a beautiful summer evening.
We set sail from the harbor at Rockport on the Schooner Heron. The Heron is a 65 foot classic wooden boat hand built by Twig and Bonnie Bower (I know, can you believe it?). I thought it looked familiar…later I discovered that it was featured as “Sanderson’s yacht” in the Johnny Depp’s film, “The Rum Diary”.
On board were folks from England and Germany and soon everyone was chatting and enjoying themselves. One thing we all had in common was our love for Maine and the sea.
Soon we were out of the mooring and heading toward Penobscot Bay, but first we had to pass the Indian Island Lighthouse.
The billowing sails soon stood at attention like seamen in the presence of an admiral.
The landlubber in me was a bit relieved when the winds proved to be calm as the kitten “Monkey” who popped out of the hold to sniff which way the wind was blowing.
For their gourmet sunset sail the Bowers’ provide the hors d ‘oeurves, but you provide the drinks. We chose a nice Chardonnay which went very nicely with the selection of various cheese and fruit…but what I really liked was the crab dip.
Hours later we return to the Rockport harbor to find that the evening was just beginning for some looking to the ocean for their meal.
I thought that you might enjoy a bit of the sea to share with your family and friends for your next Sunday Supper.
I realize that not all of you have access to fresh crab…and neither did I when I returned home, but I did find this which was the perfect substitute at a local market.
Spicy New England Crab Dip
Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
For those of you who love crab with a bit of a kick.
1 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellman's)
1/4 cup Chili Sauce (I use Heinz)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest (I used a rasp instead of a zester)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 dashes of Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup celery, minced
1/4 cup green pepper minced
2 tablespoons sweet onion, grated
2 tablespoons parsley, minced (I used Italian)
1 pound crab meat (if you use fresh, please make sure that you check it for any random shell bits)
In a large bowl, wisk the first 6 ingredients together (mayo, chile sauce, Tabasco, lemon juice and lemon zest) till combined.
Then add the next four ingredients (celery, green pepper, onion and parsley) and stir together till combined.
Finally, fold in the crab meat till combined.
Chill for an hour or more in the fridge. (can be made a day ahead)
Serve on toasted French bread or cucumber slices.
We drove along Highway 1, through charming villages and beautiful countryside till we reached our destination just north of Camden, Cedarholm Garden Bay Inn.
From the moment we entered, we could tell that this was a very special place. We were greeted by two of the owners, Kristin and George, and were told the story of Cedarholm. Eighteen years ago, Kristin, George and her parents left the noise and hectic lifestyle of New York behind and moved to this tranquil spot and slowly, with their own hands (yes, you heard right) built the lovely cottages and gardens that hug the shore and wind through the dense woods.
I can’t tell you just how lovely and immaculate the cottages and grounds are…not a leaf out of place in the herbaceous borders or vegetable gardens and I can honestly say that I’ve never seen such scrupulously clean rooms…ever!
In the morning we would wake up to the soft purr of the lobster boats going out for the day to inspect their traps.
Then up to the lodge to enjoy a breakfast that always included something freshly baked and the luxury of deciding how we were going to spend our day.
But in the evening, we would come home to our little cottage with it’s deck overlooking the bay and the fields of wildflowers and listen to the lapping of the gentle waves on the shore and the birds singing their final songs.
Those quiet evenings inspired this refreshing summer cocktail. The infused vodka is a beautiful pink/purple…the color of a Maine sunset. It is just perfect on hot summer days (or evenings) and it’s family friendly as well…just don’t add the infused vodka. Serve it with a spoon so that you can nibble on the bites of fruit and cucumber as you sip.
Summer Blueberry Cocktail Recipe
Yield: 1 - 8 oz. glass
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
A light, refreshing drink...perfect for a hot summer day.
1 or 2 slices of cucumber
1 or 2 slices of orange
1 or 2 raspberries
1 or 2 sliced strawberries
1 ounce blueberry infused vodka (optional) - directions below
3 ounces club soda
3 ounces lemon-lime soda
If you want to use the blueberry infused vodka for this recipe, it's quite easy to make. In a glass jar, add freshly washed (organic, if possible) blueberries and good quality vodka. The ratio that I use is 1/2 cup blueberries to 1 cup vodka. Slightly macerate the blueberries (squish with fork). Place jar with blueberries and vodka in the fridge for about 24 hours. Before you serve, use a fine mesh strainer to separate the liquid from the blueberries and store the infused vodka in the fridge.
In an 8 ounce tall glass, add ice. Arrange the fruit and cucumber around the ice. I like to do this so that they don't all float to the top.
Pour in the infused vodka (optional), club soda and lemon-lime soda. Stir.
I swear I didn’t mention anything about having a food blog. I just asked the nice guy behind the counter at the airport if he could recommend a great place for lunch.
He immediately replied, “since you’re heading north, you have to go to Red’s for their lobster roll!”. He grabbed the map, circled Wiscasset, and in big letters wrote Red’s Eats.
We pulled into a charming village that some call the prettiest in Maine and lucked into a parking spot right across the street from Red’s. We stared at the line in awe and disbelief.
We were starving…how long would it take? Turns out, it was about 45 minutes (which is about average for a summer afternoon). Some have been known to wait 1 1/2 hours in the scorching sun.
The folks in line were friendly and the cheerful staff passed out umbrellas and cold water.
The next time, I might have to go with a friend that could bring their dog(s)…the four leggers were ushered to the front of the line so the pups wouldn’t overheat.
We finally received our order and eagerly took our lobster rolls with a side of drawn butter (we could have opted for mayo) to a table overlooking the water.
These rolls were big…enormous, in fact. Over a pound and a half of lobster meat nestled in a buttered, grilled bun. The pieces were huge, torn by hand with a claw placed at either end and heaps of fresh lobster in the middle. They were simple and to the point, satisfying and delicious.
A few days later we were in Rockport, and talk turned to lunch and we were told emphatically that Red’s Eats gets all of the press, but we had to go to Graffam Brothers, to have the “real” best lobster roll in Maine.
Graffam Brothers has a small roadside stand across from their seafood market and the post office. We pulled into their parking lot and hopped out of the car to find a smaller line of friendly people.
Dogs were welcome here as well, but had to wait their turn.
We ate on brightly colored picnic tables under large shade trees.
These rolls were different…not as large (but they cost less than half the price of Red’s). The meat was cut into tender, more bite size pieces and dressed with a hint of mayo. The contrast of the warm, buttery roll and the chilled lobster was…well, wonderful.
OK, which did we prefer?
Split decision. Jeff loved the simplicity of Red’s fresh, succulent lobster in a bun. I preferred the smaller, more tender chunks from Graffam Brothers…I don’t mind a bit of mayo.
From what I’ve heard, most folks in Maine don’t go for the “fancy” versions with celery, peppers, onions or herbs. They want their lobster simple and straightforward.
Dana suggested that those of us “from away” could add a bit of celery, a sprinkle of lemon zest and a touch of lemon juice to a mayo base, but please don’t tell the folks in Maine!
So, the next time that we want a taste of Maine to share with family and friends for Sunday Supper, this is what I’m going to do.
First, the lobster. Try to find a market in your area that flies the lobsters in daily from Maine and have them cook them for you. That way, all you have to do is remove the meat, look it over carefully for any shell particles and you’re good to go. Another option, Graffam Brothers will ship live lobsters to your door.
Second, the bun. In Maine, they are not called hot dog buns, they are called frankfurter rolls. They look like hot dog buns with their ends cut off and a cut halfway down the middle, and that’s exactly what you need to do if you are not in New England.
Now grill these like you would grill cheese. My technique? Spread the sides with room temperature butter and place in a hot skillet turning till lightly golden on each side.
If you want the Red’s Eats version, pile lots of hand pulled lobster in the middle and place the claws on each end…serve with drawn butter or mayo.
If you want the Graffam Brothers version, cut your lobster into bite size chunks and toss with a scant amount of mayo (it will depend on the size of the lobster).
Classic Lobster Roll
Yield: 1 serving
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
A classic taste of Maine.
1 - 1 1/2 pound lobster, cooked, (meat removed and checked for shell particles) cut or torn into pieces
1 scant tablespoon mayonnaise
1 frankfurter roll or hot dog bun with sides cut off (just remove a tiny bit from the sides or they will fall apart)
1 teaspoon butter
Toss the lobster meat with the mayonnaise. Chill.
Heat skillet and butter the outside of the roll. Place roll in the skillet and grill till lightly golden on each side.
Open the roll and place lobster claws on either side, fill the middle with the rest of the lobster.
Now, take a bite…you decide!
Update: Diane wrote in to let us know that for bakers reading this post, King Arthur Flour makes a pan that is perfect for making New England Hot Dog Rolls and they include a recipe. You can find the information in this link.
I was about ten the first time I saw fava beans. I was intrigued as to what they were and in awe of the fascinating girls that were eating them.
When I was growing up, you either took a peanut butter or baloney sandwich to school for lunch. It might be accompanied by chips or (for the healthy) an apple, but it never, ever was accompanied by fava beans.
Then a family moved into the neighborhood straight from Italy…beautiful children with soulful dark eyes, raven hair, and a lunch like no one had ever seen.
The girls would open their neat brown bags and pull out the most marvelous things…a bit of sausage…Sapressata, Mortadella, Coppa (the only sausage that I knew was pepperoni…and that was crazy exotic). They also pulled out these long pods and would string the pods and eat the contents, right then and there, no boiling water, no cheese topping, just fresh beans from a pod. They would follow that with an equally foreign piece of fruit… a fresh apricot. My first view of the Mediterranean diet.
They looked at me with my peanut butter with longing and I looked back with the same.
Last week I posted a recipe that included fava beans. I got quite a few questions regarding the preparations for this tasty bean. I decided to prepare a step by step post for you so that you can see exactly how these green beauties should to be prepared for your Sunday Supper.
Let’s begin to explore the world of the fava.
First, look for pods that are vibrant green and sleek, not yellow-green and shriveled…remember, big is usually not best when it comes to veggies.
It has a stem, hold the pod in one hand and pull down on the stem so that the seam along the side opens up to reveal…the shells.
Each pod will produce around five or six fava beans in their shells…one pound in the pod equals about 1 cup of beans.
To prepare: Toss the beans in a large pot of boiling water and blanch (cook quickly) for about 30 seconds.
Immediately drain the beans and plunge them into a large bowl of icy water.
Wait a few minutes and start to peel the shell off of the bean inside (I know…it’s work, but it’s worth it).
Look at this little cutey.
Some folks say that you can skip the shelling, I tried that last week…have to say, I prefer them shelled.
Now, proceed with your recipe.
Are you looking for a recipe using fava beans? If so, you might want to try my Summer Salad with Fava Beans, Fresh Peas and Feta using this link.
It’s summer and I’m on the road, this time to visit dear friends. So, while the lemons from last week are curing, I’ll be taking you with me on my adventures…this week California.
I starting feeling very nostalgic returning to Northern California. The foggy mornings gave way to brilliant sun and blue sky in the afternoon. The invigorating yet peaceful smell of pine trees and sea air. Most of all, the warmth that I felt in my heart from seeing old friends that I hadn’t seen in quite a while. I used to live there a lifetime ago. The memories that were in soft focus quickly sharpened and I fell in love with the area all over again.
We started out the first morning driving along to coast to visit Half Moon Bay which was still sleeping under a soft blanket of fog, but that never stops folks from enjoying the beach.
We drove along the winding, windswept coast for a bit, but returned for lunch at Pasta Moon. There we had lovely, light lunch that included a salad of fresh peas, fava beans, feta cheese and lemon zest that inspired this recipe. It was green, fresh and the citrus added a bright note. We followed it with a artichoke and arugula pizza, which was thin, crisp and flavorful.
I thought that you might like to try this salad, so when we went to the market on Saturday, I was happy to see the same vendor that Pasta Moon gets their veggies from, Iacopi Farm, set up on the pier in San Francisco. I eagerly bought a large bag of fava beans and a second filled with peas…other folks might buy trinkets to fill their suitcases with, I fill mine with produce.
I left California with mixed emotions, the trip was so short, I didn’t get my fill of friendship and coastal beauty, but I did get an inspiration for a recipe or two for you to share with family and friends for your next Sunday Supper.
For this recipe I decided to try not to shell my fava beans. I’ve been reading that this is an acceptable way to serve them that does not entail as much work and has more fiber. At first I was enthusiastic, but changed my mind after tasting. So if you wish to skip the shelling process, please go ahead…but I have to say, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Some of you might be asking, how is this done. You remove the beans from the pod, blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain the beans and place immediately into a bowl of icy water. You then remove the outer shell to reveal the inner bean…more work, but it’s worth it.
Fresh peas, fava beans and feta salad recipe
Yield: 4 - 6 oz. servings
1 teaspoon lemon zest (preferably from an organic lemon)
2 tablespoons good quality, extra virgin olive oil
1 sprig fresh tarragon
1 1/2 pounds fresh peas in their pods (which will yield approximately 1 3/4 cups of peas)
1 pound fresh fava beans in their pods (which will yield approximately 1 cup of beans)
1/4 cup feta cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a small bowl mix the lemon zest with the olive oil. Set aside.
Remove the peas from their pods. Place in bowl.
Remove the fava beans from their shells, blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain, then place beans in a large bowl of icy water.
Remove the outer shells from the fava beans, place in bowl with peas.
In a large pot of boiling water, add the sprig of tarragon and let boil for 3 minutes. Then toss in the peas and beans for approximately 60 seconds (if you like your veggies "al dente" like I do). If you prefer them a bit softer, cook for 2 - 3 minutes or till they achieve the texture you desire.
Drain peas and beans and place in a bowl Remove tarragon sprig..
Toss with the lemon zest mixed with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Sprinkle with feta cheese.
Chill, or you may serve room temperature.
You can serve these in lettuce shells if you like.