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Archive for September 25, 2015

FOOD HOLIDAY: National Lobster Day

For a long time, National Lobster Day was celebrated on June 15th. But according to The Boston Globe, on August 5th, National Lobster Day was officially declared by Congress to take place on September 25th.

Sponsored by Senator Angus King of Maine, the resolution was agreed to “without amendment and with a preamble by Unanimous Consent.”

Maine is the largest lobster-producing region in the world, and lobstering is a multi-generational family tradition. There are no corporate fleets, but independent lobster boat owners and more than 5,600 independent lobstermen who work on the boats (the women are also called lobstermen).

Lobstering is an important component of the state’s economy, and care is taken to keep it that way.

MAINE LOBSTERS ARE SUSTAINABLE

Maine lobstermen were committed to sustainability and traceability long before it was fashionable. The industry’s 150 years of responsible fishing practices have earned it the Marine Stewardship Council’s sustainable seafood certification.

   

live lobsters

Just-caught lobsters at the dock. Photo courtesy Lobsters From Maine.

 

Maine Lobsters are 100% hand-harvested from small day boats, one trap at a time. Maine banned diving or dragging the sea floor for lobster in 1961.

WINE PAIRING WITH LOBSTER

A new generation of modern chefs has added excitement to lobster meals, by trading the conventional boiled or broiled lobster with drawn butter for more modern flavor pairings: cilantro, ginger, honey and wasabi, for example. Classic dishes like Lobster Thermidor have given way to the far more popular Lobster Mac and Cheese.

Now, what about the wine?

As with many dishes, and especially fish and seafood, the type of wine is best matched to the preparation. Thanks to Lobster From Maine for some of these suggestions, which we merged with our own.

  • Lobster with Asian Seasonings: Drink Riesling or a sparkling white wine with high acidity, like Cava or Champagne (Prosecco lacks the acidity).
  • Lobster in Cream Sauce: Lobster Thermidor is our favorite dish, followed by Lobster Risotto. White Burgundy or an oaky California Chardonnay is the perfect match, and also work with Lobster Alfredo and Lobster Pot Pie.
  • Lobster Grilled Or Steamed With Drawn Butter: Champagne or an oaky Chardonnay is our first choice; or Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. Pinot Grigio and Albariño also work, and are more affordable. Lobsters From Maine advises that, if you want to try red wine with lobster, pair grilled lobster with Grenache/Garnacha, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo or a rosé.
  • Lobster Salad: Vinaigrette requires a high-acidity wine: Cava, Chablis, Champagne, German Riesling Kabinett, Pouilly-Fumé, Sancerre. If the salad is mostly greens with a small amount of lobster, you can try a Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Lobster Steamed In Beer: If the lobster is steamed in beer (usually Lager or Pilsner), drink the same type of beer.
  • Lobster in Tomato Sauce: Lobster Fra Diavolo or other pasta with red sauce and lobster calls for Chianti or another high-acid red wine. Tomato sauce has too much acid to pair with most white wines, but if you must have white, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc have the highest acidity of all the white grapes; Chablis has good acidity as well as minerality. The cooler the climate, the higher the acidity, so don’t pick a white wine from Australia, California, South Africa or New Zealand.
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    A deconstructed lobster salad: lobster meat, cherry tomatoes, red leaf lettuce and droplets of basil oil and balsamic vinegar.Photo courtesy The Sea Fire Grill | NYC.

     

    LOBSTER TRIVIA

  • It takes lobsters an average of 5 to 7 years (depending on the water temperature) to grow to legal size. They grow more slowly as they get larger. A lobster that weighs 3 pounds is approximately 15-20 years old, and a 25-pound lobster would be approximately 75-100 years old. Some believe that lobsters in unfarmed areas—30 miles off the coast of Maine—can reach as 120 years in age.
  • Lobsters have different pigments in their shells and come in a variety of colors. Fishermen have been known to bring in blue, yellow, red and spotted live lobsters. Usually, when lobsters are hard-shelled, their shells are a darker color. Also, when you cook hard-shell lobsters, their shells will turn a brick red color and sometimes black, whereas soft-shelled lobsters, when cooked, are a bright red color.
  • A lobster can be a righty or lefty. The dominant claw is the larger, craggy one and is used to crush shells. The smaller, serrated claw is used to rip, tear, and retrieve the meat within its prey.
  • The “green stuff” inside the lobster is the liver, called tomale. The waxy red substance in the tomale is the coral, or roe. Both are considered to be delicacies.
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  • The bigger the lobster, the less meat it has in its tail, proportionately. Plus, larger lobsters are less desirable because by the time the center of the meat is cooked, the outside meat is overcooked.
  • Female lobsters are the aggressors in mating; 42% of Americans consider lobster the world’s most romantic food.
  • Lobsters kept in tanks or other close quarters become cannibalistic. That’s why their claws are banded.
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    Maine Lobster Trivia

  • In 2014, Maine lobstermen landed more than 120 million pounds of lobster—85% of the lobster caught in the United States.
  • The largest recorded Maine Lobster weighed 27 pounds. These super-lobsters usually end up in aquariums or museums.
  • The Maine Lobster industry is one of the oldest continuously operated industries in North America, with the first documented catch dating back to the 1600s.
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    Here’s more lobster trivia.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Mounds Mess

    Recently we published a recipe for a popular U.K. dessert, the Eton Mess. It’s a combination of strawberries, whipped cream, meringues and other ingredients, unceremoniously mixed together (i.e., a mess).

    We saw this dessert on the Facebook page of Distilled NY in Manhattan’s TriBeCa neighborhood, and decided it was an American version of the Eton Mess. We nicknamed it the Mounds Mess, because it combines coconut and chocolate.

    Chef Shane Lyons of Distilled NY creates his “Mess” with brownie brittle, chocolate pudding, frozen coconut marshmallows and coconut macaroons.

    We did a version with brownie strips, coconut ice cream, French meringues and mascarpone; and, because we have a slight preference for Almond Joy, we tossed in some toasted almonds.

       

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    A dessert for Mounds Bar lovers. Photo courtesy Distilled NY.

     

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    More fun: Make your own Mounds or Almond Joy, using premium chocolate and coconut. Here’s the recipe from Elana’s Pantry.

     

    Here’s a template for putting together your own Mess:

  • Chocolate: brownies, chocolate pudding, cookies (chocolate wafers, chocolate chocolate chip, etc.), fudge sauce, shaved chocolate
  • Coconut: ice cream, almond macaroons (made from coconut), toasted coconut chips
  • Almond macaroons (buy or make with this recipe)
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    And what about an Almond Joy Mess? Add an almond component:

  • Almonds: raw, roasted/toasted, whole or sliced
  • Almond butter
  • Almond buttercrunch or toffee
  • Amaretti cookies, whole or crumbled
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    Want to get fancy? Layer your mess in a glass bowl, like a trifle. It will become a mess when you scoop it onto plates.

     

      

     
     

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Channel Peeler

    Like to garnish? It’s one of the easiest ways to make everyday foods look special.

    For quick citrus peel garnishes, get a channel peeler (a.k.a. channel knife), an inexpensive kitchen gadget. (The channel peeler in the photo below is on sale for less than $6.)

    The channel knife was originally devised so that bartenders could easily peel citrus strips for cocktails. You can use the citrus peel—grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange—to make garnishes for everything you serve.

  • The small but sharp holes at the top head that remove the zest from the pith of lemons and other citrus fruits easily.
  • The lip underneath it peels wider, long strips the entire length of the fruit.
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    Beyond citrus, you can cut strips from any firm fruit or vegetable: apples, cucumbers, zucchini, etc. The thin strands can be used to garnish anything, including:

  • Chops
  • Desserts
  • Fish
  • Green salads
  • Hot and cold beverages
  • Potatoes
  • Rice and grains
  • Vegetables
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    Orange peel “knots” garnish a cocktail. Photo courtesy Boulud | Boston.

     

    Channel Peeler

    A channel peeler or channel knife. Photo courtesy 1EasyLife.com.

     

    MORE WAYS TO USE THE PEEL

  • Candy it.
  • Add it to cake or muffin batter.
  • Dry it to add to cookies, or to keep on the spice shelf.
  • Freeze it inside ice cubes.
  • Make gremolata.
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    Longer strands can be knotted into fancy garnish, as in the photo above, a Cosmo from Bar Boulud in Boston.

    Extra peel can be frozen. Here’s more on zesting peel.

    And the next time someone requests a cup of tea with lemon, add a tablespoon of lemon peel instead.

     

      

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    RECIPE: Apple Cider-Pomegranate Sorbet

    It may now be fall, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about sorbet until next summer. Here’s a delicious option from US Apples: Apple Cider-Pomegranate Sorbet.

    Serve it as a palate cleanser between fish and meat courses at a dinner party, or right before the turkey or ham course at Thanksgiving.

    Sorbet is our favorite light dessert. For a fancier dessert, serve it in a pavlova (a meringue cup) with berries, or with diced fall fruits marinated in liqueur.

    Find more apple-licious recipes at USApple.org.

    RECIPE: APPLE CIDER-POMEGRANATE SORBET

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 2 cups fresh apple cider
  • 1-1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
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    Apple Pomegranate Sorbet

    Refreshing as a palate cleanser or dessert. Photo courtesy US Apple.

     

    Preparation

    1. STIR together the juices, sugar, cinnamon stick and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Boil for 5 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl.

    2. REMOVE the cinnamon stick, stir in the lemon juice, cover and chill in refrigerator until cold.

    3. FREEZE the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze an additional 2 hours or longer.

     

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    Another fall sorbet flavor: grape. Photo courtesy Dolcezza.com.

     

    OTHER FALL SORBET RECIPES

  • Apple & Calvados Sorbet (recipe)
  • Beet Sorbet (recipe)
  • Cranberry Pomegranate Sorbet (recipe)
  • Fig Sorbet (recipe)
  • Grape Sorbet (recipe)
  • Grape Sorbet With Gin (recipe)
  • Pear With Cardamom or Nutmeg (recipe)
  • Pear With Poire William
  • Spiced Apple Cider Sorbet (recipe)
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