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.
It struck me as I was beginning to write this post that my blog has always been about preserving…not so much in the cooking sense, but the fact that what I’d like you to take away from visiting Return to Sunday Supper is the importance of preserving the long held tradition of eating at least one meal a week (even if it can’t be on a Sunday) with your family and/or friends. I believe that there is a very special connection that is made when people bond together over good food and conversation. I’m hoping that by reading Sunday supper stories and perhaps getting an idea for a new recipe to try, you’ll be more inclined to make time in your busy schedule for a special meal with the ones you love. I believe that when you look back, some of your fondest memories will be made around the table.
The other kind of preserving is what I’m going to be exploring in the next few months. This year I’ve had the privilege to be the prop stylist for Chef Paul Virant and Kate Leahy’s new cookbook, The Preservation Kitchen. I don’t say this lightly…this was the best project I have ever worked on because both of them had enough confidence in what I do to let me do it! Thank you Paul and Kate!
Preservation Kitchen has inspired me to do something I’ve never done before…can and preserve. I’m starting off slowly, with something that I believe will be at my skill level and I’d love for you to join me in this journey. I think that this book is so important right now because many of us are trying to eat in a more nutritious way and more of us now have gardens that produce fresh fruits and vegetables which could mean extra produce that needs to be preserved. This book will help you to navigate your way with practical tips and luscious recipes.
So let’s begin!
I decided to start with lemons because they are available year round. I followed the instructions and purchased organic lemons, but I couldn’t find any that hadn’t been waxed, so I also purchased an organic product that cleans fruit and vegetables and removes wax. I didn’t have a large Mason jar, so I used two smaller ones instead and the 8 lemons fit in them perfectly. I did have to add a bit of salt at the end to cover the tops.
This recipe is very straight forward and in no time at all, little lemon smiles were nestled in with their blanket of salt, sugar and herbs. Now, the hard part…waiting for them to cure, because of course I want them right away! I’ll keep you posted on their progress and I’ll be using them in a recipe as soon as I can.
I was given permission to use this recipe from Chef Paul Virant, Kate Leahy and Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House.
Preserved Lemons Recipe
Yield: 2 pint jars
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
An easy first step in learning to preserve.
2 cups kosher salt (you can use more, if needed)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup herbes de Provence
8 lemons (organic, if possible)
Wash the lemons and slice the ends off. If they are large, cut them into 6 wedges, if they are small, cut them into 4 wedges.
In a large bowl add the salt, sugar and Herbes de Provence which will produce the cure mixture.
Add the lemon wedges and coat them well with the cure mixture.
In a Mason jar(s) or a ceramic container, add a bit of the cure mixture to the bottom, then add the lemon wedges, sprinkling the cure mixture in between each layer.
Squeeze 1 or 2 of the wedges over the top and fill the jar(s) to the brim with remaining cure mixture. If you don't have enough of the mixture left, cover the top completely with a layer of salt.
Cover your jar(s) or ceramic container for 4 to 5 days.
After the 4 to 5 days, you will see that the mixture has created a brine. Make sure that the lemons are still submerged. You might need to add something to keep the lemons from rising to the surface, such as a small ceramic ramekin.
Place in a cool spot (under 65 degrees). Give the lemons a stir every once in a while. Let them cure for a least a month, but preferable 4 months.
Once they are cured, they can keep in the refrigerator up to one year as long as they stay submerged in the brine.
As many of you know, we lost our beloved Jack unexpectedly last month. Jack and I shared many Sunday Suppers together, sometimes circumstances were such that it was just the two of us.
I’d cook, and he’d come over to the house and pretty soon he’d be telling his stories…he was such an enthusiastic story teller. I so wish that I had written everything down, or better yet, taped it. But as storytellers do, he told his stories on more than one occasion, so I’ve remembered them. I think that this is the year that I should share them with you. Oh yes, and the recipes too! Like so many of our stories they were told around/about food.
I thought that I’d give you a peek into what a great guy his was by quoting something written about him a few years ago when he received the Jefferson Award for service to the community.
“A MODEST HERO HELPS THOUSANDS THAT DON’T EVEN KNOW HIS NAME”
“He hasn’t thrown a record breaking touchdown, hasn’t broken any home run records, and he’s never been on the evening news for a heroic act of bravery. He is a modest man, retired, married with two sons and a granddaughter that is the apple of his eye.
If you asked Jack Kauck what makes him a hero, he’ll deny the he is one, but talk to thousands of people Jack has helped over the last 10 years…you will be asked, who is Jack?
Ten years ago this month, Jack Kauck read an article about a wheelchair repair/loan program that had been started by Easter Seals Southwestern Ohio. Jack’s mother had benefited from the use of a wheelchair to stay independent despite her Rheumatoid Arthritis, and this was a perfect opportunity for Jack to help other people keep their independence. He joined the founding team of 5 gentlemen and never looked back. Over the years, Jack has helped provide independence to thousands of people with disabilities, that could not afford medical equipment due to low income and lack of insurance.”
That was our Jack…modest and always helpful. Loved by his family, friends and his community.
Community was important to Jack. One of his favorite activities was to go to the Second Sunday Supper Club. Everyone brought a dish and gathered at the local civic center to share their meal and connect with each other. I’ve often thought that it was a wonderful way to bring folks together. The world is becoming a more distant place and sometimes it’s hard to feel part of the whole. I think that community supper groups are a perfect way to get in touch with your neighbors by bonding over Sunday supper.
If there is a supper group established within your community you might want to think about joining. If your area does not have anything like this, maybe you could start one. The Sunday Supper Club was so important to Jack, maybe it will become important to you as well.
I’m so glad that we cherished last Father’s Day with him, we didn’t realize that it would be our last.