Announcing … the publication of my new book, “Lobster! 55 Fresh and Simple Recipes for Everyday Eating” (Storey Publishing), which should be in your local bookstores now.
An author turns a cookbook manuscript in to the publisher a year or so ahead of publication and then waits to see what the team of editors, designers, photographers, food stylists, illustrators and printers produces.
Storey has a very talented team, and this book is a beauty – a small-format hardcover with a wonderful design all around. I could not be happier – or more proud.
Storey is throwing a launch party for the book this Saturday at Gritty McDuff’s Brew Pub on Fore Street in Portland. It’s open to the public from 2 to 4 p.m., so please stop by to say hello, sip a brew and snack on some lobster goodies prepared by Gritty’s chef.
Meanwhile, if you’re in the mood to cook up a beautiful lobster chowder, here are recipes from the book for a really lovely meal.
LOBSTER AND SWEET CORN CHOWDER
This is an utterly delicious and gorgeous-to-look-at chowder, with its nuggets of yellow corn, pink-tinged lobster meat and flecks of thyme, spangled on top with pools of melted butter. It’s some work to make, so when I go to the effort, I start this chowder as a main course and serve it with Focaccia Garlic Toasts and a platter of sliced tomatoes with basil dribbled with good olive oil. Strawberry Shortcake with Rich Egg Biscuit is an ideal finish.
Servings: Six as a main course
4 live lobsters (1¼ to 1½ pounds each), rinsed (see note)
1 teaspoon salt
¼ pound bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 large celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup dry white wine
4 medium all-purpose potatoes, diced (about 4 cups)
4 ears of corn, kernels cut from cob (or 2 cups frozen kernels)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 cups heavy cream
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons butter
Bring 7 cups of water to a boil in a large soup pot and add the 1 teaspoon salt. Add lobsters, cover, return to boil and cook, covered, until bright red and fully cooked, about 10 minutes per pound.
Use tongs to remove to a bowl, leaving cooking liquid in the pot. Break off lobster bodies, rinse out most of the tomalley (green material), and add bodies back to the pot. Return to boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl. You should have about 5 cups of broth.
Meanwhile, pick out lobster claw and tail meat, chop into bite-size pieces and refrigerate. (These steps can be done up to 24 hours ahead.)
Cook the bacon in a large soup pot over medium-low heat until crisp and fat is rendered, about 15 minutes. Remove bits with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and reserve. Add onion and celery to the fat in the pan and cook over medium-high heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and 5 cups lobster broth and bring to a boil, stirring.
Add the potatoes, corn and thyme, return to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer covered until potatoes are almost tender. Add the lobster, cream and cayenne, and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary. Cut butter into chunks and add to the chowder to melt. Serve immediately or, better yet, refrigerate overnight.
Reheat reserved bacon bits in the microwave. Ladle chowder into soup bowls, sprinkle with the bacon, and serve.
Note: You can also use 1 pound chopped picked-out lobster meat and 5 cups seafood broth, or clam juice or a combination of clam juice and water. Seafood broth or stock can often be found in supermarkets with the chicken and beef broth. Bottled clam juice is shelved with the canned seafood. If the clam juice is salty, dilute half and half with water.
FOCACCIA GARLIC TOASTS
Round focaccia loaves, which are usually topped with a sprinkling of salt and rosemary, are split and slathered with garlic butter to create fabulous garlic bread. The focaccia toasts up into buttery crunchy golden deliciousness.
Servings: About four
¼ pound (1 stick) butter, softened
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic (see note)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 loaf focaccia
Stir together butter, garlic and cayenne in a small bowl. Cover and set aside for at least an hour to blend flavors. (Can be made up to a week ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using.)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a large serrated knife, cut focaccia in half horizontally. Spread the cut sides with the garlic butter and arrange buttered sides up on a baking sheet. (Can be prepared up to several hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Bake bread in the preheated oven until lightly browned and toasted, about 10 minutes. Cut into wedges, arrange in a napkin-lined basket and serve.
Note: To tame the garlic a bit, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small skillet and cook the garlic over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes. Do not allow to brown. Stir cooked garlic into the softened butter and proceed with the recipe. Any leftover garlic butter is delicious on steamed vegetables or fish.
STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE WITH RICH EGG BISCUIT
I know I’ve run this recipe before, but it happens to be just the right dessert for this meal at this time of year. This “short” (meaning very buttery) egg biscuit is baked in one large cake for an impressive presentation – and any leftovers are delicious for breakfast!
Servings: About eight
2 quarts ripe strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
EGG BISCUIT AND TOPPING:
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in about 12 pieces
½ cup milk
1½ cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
3 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
Choose 8 pretty berries and set them aside. Hull the rest. Place half the berries in a large shallow bowl and crush with a large fork or a potato masher. Slice remaining berries and combine with the crushed berries. Stir in the sugar and lemon juice, and set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to allow the juices to flow. (Strawberries can be prepared up to 6 hours ahead and refrigerated. Return to room temperature before serving.)
In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to blend. Distribute cold butter over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture looks crumbly. Pour milk into a glass measure and whisk in the egg. With motor running, pour milk mixture through the feed tube and process just until the dough begins to clump together.
(To make by hand, whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl, work in the cold butter with your fingertips, add the milk and egg, and stir with a large fork to make a soft dough.)
Scrape out onto a lightly floured surface, knead lightly a few times and roll to an 8-inch round. Transfer to a generously buttered 8-inch cake pan. (The dough can be prepared to this point and refrigerated for up to 3 hours.)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the shortcake in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Bake until cake is pale golden brown on top, 22 to 26 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.
Whip the cream with the powdered sugar to soft peaks. (Can be done a couple of hours ahead and refrigerated.)
To assemble, transfer shortcake to a large serving platter. Using a large serrated knife, split the cake horizontally and lift off the top with a large spatula. Spread the bottom layer with the softened butter, spoon on about half the berry mixture, and spread with about half the whipped cream.
Replace the top, spoon over the remaining berry mixture, and top with cream. Decorate with the reserved berries. Cut into wedges to serve.
Note: To make individual biscuits, roll dough to about ¾-inch thickness and cut out 8 biscuits using a 2½-inch cutter. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes.
Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Lobster!” (Storey, 2012). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at: facebook.com/brookedojny