We here in Maine know quite a bit about lobsters, so in giving recipes, it seems unnecessary to begin with basic anatomy or cooking methods of our favorite crustacean.
Instead, this week I’ll share some of the many interesting, fun quotes and trivia that I uncovered when researching my most recent book, “Lobster!”
Then, use your most recent batch of lobster meat (by now I’m sure you know to cook extra) to create a lovely, very simple lobster salad.
• New Yorker writer and humorist Calvin Trillan has a summer place in Nova Scotia, so it’s no wonder he’s given a lot of serious thought to the subject of lobsters: “It’s apparent to serious shellfish eaters that in the great evolutionary scheme of things crustaceans developed shells to protect them from knives and forks.”
• According to food historians, the wooden lobster trap was probably invented in 1808 by Ebenezer Thorndike of Swampscott, Massachusetts. The basic design persisted until the end of the 20th century when steel traps took over.
• Colin Woodard, a journalist and writer (including “The Lobster Coast”) now at the Portland Press Herald, has written that “Lobsters make for an unlikely icon…. In basic design, Homarus americanus resembles a self-propelled Swiss Army knife, with deployable appendages for every occasion.”
• In her book, “The Lobster Chronicles,” commercial fisher and writer Linda Greenlaw observed, “I love the sound of the lobsters’ shells’ muffled applause as they clap against themselves and one another in the end of a trap fresh from the water. A full trap sounds like a standing ovation.”
• And if you are intimidated about which part of a lobster to eat and how, here’s reassuring advice from chef Jasper White of Boston’s Summer Shack: “Any meat you can pull, squeeze or suck from a lobster will taste good.”
SEASHELL LOBSTER PASTA SALAD WITH LEMON-DILL CREAM
Seashells are the perfect pasta shape for the obvious reason, and also because they’ll catch plenty of the lemon-dill cream.
To make the salad, use leftover lobster or cook two 1¼-pound lobsters and remove the meat or buy picked-out meat.
Add a basket of seeded french bread and serve these mocha-chocolate chip shortbread cookies and bunches of green grapes for dessert.
¾ cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest and 2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1½ tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus sprigs for garnish
SALAD AND GARNISHES:
10 ounces small or medium pasta shells, preferably seashells
1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
¾ cup thinly sliced celery
½ cup chopped red onion
1½ cups chopped cooked lobster meat (7 to 8 ounces)
1 tomato, cut in wedges
4 thin lemon slices
To make the Lemon-Dill Cream, whisk mayonnaise with the lemon zest and juice and mustard in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the dill. (Can be prepared up to 24 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
To make the Lobster Pasta Salad, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain into a colander, refresh under cold water and drain again well.
Toss the cooked pasta with the bell pepper, celery, red onion and lobster meat. Drizzle most of the Lemon-Dill Cream over the mixture and toss until well blended. Season with salt and black pepper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Can be prepared up to 8 hours ahead. If the salad is dry, moisten it with the remaining dressing.)
To serve, line a platter with lettuce, spoon salad in the center, and garnish with tomato, lemon slices and dill sprigs.
MOCHA-CHOCOLATE CHIP SHORTBREAD COOKIES
These scrumptious cookies are adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful book “Baking: From My Home to Yours.” Dorie’s recipes are always spot-on, and her tips, such as this instruction to roll the soft dough inside a sealed plastic bag, are invaluable. The cookies are rich but not too sweet and are great with summer fruits.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
1 tablespoon instant coffee or espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup mini semisweet chocolate morsels or finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate
Dissolve coffee powder in the boiling water and set aside to cool.
In a food processor, combine butter, sugar and salt and process until very smooth and well blended. Add vanilla and cooled coffee and pulse several times to combine. Add flour and pulse, scraping down sides once or twice, just until combined. Add the morsels and pulse until blended through fairly evenly.
Some of the chips will get slightly chopped in the processor, which is what you want. (The dough also can be made with an electric mixer by creaming together the butter, sugar, vanilla and coffee and then adding flour and chocolate morsels.)
Scrape dough into a gallon-size zip lock bag and lay the bag out flat with the top open. Use a rolling pin to roll dough to a smooth, flat 10- by 10-inch square, ¼ inch thick.
Lift bag off dough to smooth out creases. Seal bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to 2 days.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the plastic bag on a work surface and slit it down the sides with scissors or a knife. Use a ruler as a guide and cut dough into 1½-inch squares. Transfer cookies to baking sheets and prick each one, pushing the fork clear down until it hits the baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven, rotating sheets back to front, for 20 to 22 minutes or until cookies have lost their shiny look and are almost firm when lightly touched. Transfer to a rack to cool. (Can be stored in a covered container for a couple of days or frozen.)
Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks. She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at: