Tuesday, July 31, 2012

3 Luscious Chickens, 2 Flavorful Canapes...and a Perfect Pear Treat!

My brother loves to cook as much as I do and I just had the pleasure of a visit from he and his wife, which gave us the chance to cook together!  We made Skip's famous Lemon Garlic Grilled Chicken.  We did so much eating this weekend that by the time we came to the Lemon Garlic Chicken we served it simply with grilled zuchinni and summer squash (from my own little garden!) and a few grilled jumbo shrimp creating a surf and barnyard.  Here is Skip's recipe...


4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in thirds
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 Lemons, juice and a little zest
4 Tbsp. olive oil
A pinch of red hot pepper
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

Mix all ingredients and place in a zip lock bag to marinate for a few hours in the refrigerator. Every once in awhile, give the bag a shake to make sure all pieces benefit equally from the marinade.

Get your grill hot, spray with cooking oil and gently grill the chicken pieces for about 4 minutes per side. I like to spin the pieces 2 minutes into the cooking to give them a nice cross hatch, but it is really not necessary.
This dish is so easy and the fresh basil and lemon really pop the flavor.  After the fact I was thinking it might be nice to serve with a lemon garlic alioli. I am going to try that next time!

Here's another chicken dish I made recently for my sister-in-law, Chickie.  She also likes to cook and brought a fabulous pasta Greek salad which was the perfect accompaniment for:


Chickie getting ready to dig in!
We completed this meal with zuchinni halves grilled under the broiler with a little feta cheese, salt/pepper and fresh oregano.
I like to stuff and roll chicken breasts with different ingredients and I love Greek food so this idea came together easily and was moist and delicious!

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, flattened*
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves very finely chopped garlic
2 cups baby spinach leaves, stemmed
2 Roasted Red Peppers (see previous blog for 'how to roast')
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
4 Tbsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped
4 Tbsp. prepared or homemade basil pesto
Salt/Pepper/Red pepper flakes

Chicken Breasts ready to bake.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pound the breasts. Put 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a shallow casserole dish. Coat the chicken breasts in the oil and place in dish with inside of breast up. Sprinkle with the garlic.  Divide the spinach leaves among the 4 breasts. Lay the roasted red pepper on top of the spinach and add the feta cheese and the oregano. Gently roll the chicken breasts tucking in the ingredients (the peppers are a little slippery).  Rub about 1 Tbsp. of basil pesto over each chicken breast and finish with a sprinkle of hot red pepper. You don't need to tie these breasts because they stay together quite well without trussing.

Bake for about 25 minutes (depending on how big your breats are). Let rest for 5 minutes and slice and serve.

* To flatten the chicken breasts, place between a sheet of plastic wrap and pound with any heavy object (bread board, frying pan, meat pounder, rolling pin, etc.) until the breast is an even thickness of about 3/8 inch.

Left-over Queen strikes again!  We did not eat all the Lemon Garlic Grilled Chicken so tonight I made a Chicken Alfredo and served over whole grain spaghetti. A sliced tomato was all that we needed to complete this meal. So yummy and a great way to use the left-over chicken.


Left-over Lemon/Garlic Chicken, cut into small pieces
3 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan
3/4 cup mozzarella
Fresh chopped basil for the chicken
Fresh chopped chives for the tomatoes

Alfredo Sauce: Heat 3 Tbsp. butter, 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan. Add 2 cups heavy cream, 1/4 tsp. white pepper, minced garlic and bring to a brisk simmer. Stir and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes.  Add cheeses and stir frequently for another 8-10 minutes until the sauce is thick, smooth and creamy.

Because this was a "left-over" meal that I had not planned in advance, I did not have all the proper ingredients for an Alfredo so I had to make some substitutions.

Alternative Alfredo Sauce:
3 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/4 cup Half and Half
3/4 cup Almond Milk (All I had was the sweetened almond milk, which presented a challenge!)
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
Salt/Black Pepper
1/3 pound cream cheese
1/2 cup parmesan

Prepare as above. The cream cheese and ground ginger took the edge of the sweet. This sauce turned out to be fantastic and although not as rich or creamy as a traditional Alfredo Sauce, it was pretty darn good!

Cook your pasta (8 minutes for aldente); toss the chopped chicken and serve mix thoroughly.  Garnish the Lemon Garlic Chicken Alfredo with chopped basil and the tomato with chopped chives.  This is a simple, fast way to use any type of left-over chicken!

The first canape (aka hors d'oeuvres!) I want to share is one of my all-time favorites...

This dish was created in the late 1800's in New Orleans by Jules Alciatore of Antoine's Restaurant. He named it after John D. Rockefeller as this classic appetizer is likewise rich!

In New England, in the summer, we eat a lot of fresh seafood and shellfish. Oysters any way are wonderful, but almost everyone likes them cooked!  This is a recipe that can also be altered in so many different ways (add fresh chopped watercress, minced garlic,celery, top with a little mozzarello, splash of white wine, chmpagne, orange zest, tarragon, USE YOUR IMAGINATION!).  This is a classic, but there is no rule stating that you cannot embellish Chef Alciatore's original!  Here is the basic recipe for Oysters Rockefeller.

2 dozen Oysters (I use the local Cape Cod oyster which is a Wellfleet.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs (day-old baguette or whole grain or use Panko)
2 cups baby spinach leaves, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. chopped scallions, both white and green parts
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
3 plus 1 additional Tbsp. unsalted butter
Pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup Pernod or other anise flavored liquor (this is where the white wine or champagne could be used)
3 bacon slices
Toss together spinach, scallion, parsley, 1 1/2 Tbsp. breadcrumbs in a bowl.  Melt 3 Tbsp. butter in a heavy skillet over moderate heat; add garlic and cook for a couple minutes, add spinach mixture and cook until spinach is just wilted-1 to 2 minutes. Stir in Pernod, cayenne, and salt/pepper. Transfer mixture to a bowl and chill, covered until cold-about 1 hour. (This also falls into my make-ahead category making the big dinner party much easier to prepare!) Melt the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter; add the last of the bread crumbs and set aside. While the spinach mixture is chilling, fry the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels and finely crumble.

Open the oysters; easier said than done! An oyster knife really helps, but it still took me a lot of practice to get these things opened and I am by no means fast at it. Insert the point of the knife in the little opening that presents at the oyster hinge. Drive it in, twist and run the knife along the edge of the oyster. The oyster SHOULD pop open. Run the knife under the oyster to loosen so when you serve the Rockefeller your guests are not fighting to get the oyster off the shell.  Remove any broken shell pieces and clean bottom of shell if necessary.  Do not rinse or drain off the oyster liquor.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Traditionally Oysters Rockefeller are baked on a bed (approximately 10 cups) of coarse kosher salt. I do not do this as I think it is wasteful and not necessary, although the thinking is that the salt helps distribute the heat quickly and evenly.  I just place the oysters in a large, shallow casserole (9x13 works well), and spoon the chilled spinach mixture evenly on top of each oyster. Top with crumbled bacon and finish with the last of the buttered bread crumbs. Bake until the edges of the oysters begin to curl and bread crumbs are golden-about 10-12 minutes. Serve warm in the shells.

WHEN NOT TO EAT OYSTERS...there is an old myth that you should NOT eat oysters in a month that does not have an "R"-May through August. In warmer months oysters, and other shellfish, contain a higher level of marine bacteria, called Vibrio, which can cause an upset stomach. Durng the cooler months-September through April, the bacteria is still present, but not in as great a quantity. Cooking kills the bacteria so it really is OK to eat cooked shellfish in any month. Some medical conditions warrant that you never eat raw shellfish, no matter what month, and should always eat it cooked thoroughly.

Since I am feeling Greek tonight, I want to share a recipe for healthy stuffed grape leaves from Dr. Andrew Weil. I subscribe to Dr. Weil's free online recipes. Although I believe in cooking and eating anything you want, within reason, I do try to make a vegetarian meal at least once a week and I often turn to Dr. Weil's recipes for a low-fat choice. Here is the link to his healthy cooking and recipe site:

These stuffed grape leaves are easy to make, can be made ahead of time, and will disappear once you serve them.


2 cups vegetable stock (I use home-made chicken stock which I always like to keep on hand in the freezer.)
1 cup brown rice
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup grated radish
1/3 cup chopped scallions (white and green parts)
1/2 cup minced celery
3/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. white wine vinegar (Rice vinegar or champagne vinegar also work well.)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup currants or yellow raisons
1/4 cup pinenuts
Salt/Black Pepper
1 Tbsp. capers

36 grape leaves*
Bunch of chives
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring the stock to a boil. Add the rice and salt. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 45 minutes or until rice is tender. Water should be absorbed. Fluff up the rice.

Mix together the rice and all other ingredients; toss thoroughly.

Rinse grape leaves. Gently pat them dry. Spread the leaves out and spoon 1-2 Tbsp. of the filling on the end of each leaf. Some of the leaves may be torn so you may have to patch to create a solid base for rolling. Roll up, folding the outer edges in to form a pocket.
(I did not do this next step, but it sounds like fun! Instead I served with lemon slices.) Take three 5" long chives and dip briefly in boiling water to make them more pliable. Tie them around each stuffed grap leaf.

Place the leaves in a small casserole dish and drizzle 1 tsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice over them. (I used a little more olive oil.) Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve warm or cold. I served them cold which allowed the flavors to meld.

*Canned or bottled grape leaves can be found in the International section of your grocery store.


I make a lot of different poached pears: Stuffed with Roquefort and Walnuts in Pastry; Poached in Port with Cranberries; Roasted Pears with Balsamic Creme Anglaise, Caramel Sauce, and this wonderful recipe...


a 1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger root
2 firm Bartlett, Anjou, or Comice pears with stem intact*
3 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup Tawny Port
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Peel ginger root and slice thin. Cut slices into thin strips. In a saucepan just large enough to hold the pears lying on their sides bring 3 to 4 cups water to boil with ginger root, sugar, port and lemon juice, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

Peel pears, leaving stems intact, and cut a thin slice from the bottom of each if necessary to enable pears to stand upright when served.  Arrange pears on their sides in poaching liquid adding enough water to cover if they are not already submerged. Simmer pears, turning them occasionally, until tender; 20 to 40 minutes, depending on their ripeness. Carefully transfer pears with a slotted spoon to a bowl and boil poaching liquid until reduced to about 1/4 cup and slightly syrupy.  Pour sauce over pears.  You can make pears a day ahead of time and cool in sauce before being chilled, covered. Serve pears warm or chilled.

You do not need a recipe to poach pears. Use any combination of spices (cinnamon is great); herbs (tarragon, basil or mint work well); red wine; port wine; brandy, etc., etc.  Once they are poached they are fabulous wrapped in puff pastry and baked, served with cinnamon whipped cream or creme anglaise or brandy cream sauce.

*When I lived in Jamaica Plain in the 1980's, one of Boston's neighborhoods, I had the most fantastic old and prolific pear tree in my back yard.  I have never had pears so good before or after. Unfortunately I was not able to identify their heritage, but they were sweet with perfect texture.  I made pear everything during the late summer months into the fall.  Poaching ripe, freshly picked pears, by far, make the nicest and most flavorful poached pears.

I am closing today with the debut of my new cooks coat.  I cannot wait to christen my new costume!

Thank you again many times over for sharing my love of cooking and creating in the kitchen.

Happy meals to you until next time with:


Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer Grillin'-Fish, Veggies and a Cocktail or Two!

Sometimes there is nothing better than a big, beautiful juicy hamburger, grilled to rare perfection and topped with a generous amount of salty blue cheese, but more times than not I choose to grill fish.  To me summer grilling in New England means fish paired with an interesting salad or placing the grilled fish on a bed of rice or wilted greens.  Here are a few dinners I have made recently on hot summer nights.

Swordfish is not cheap, but if you cut into medallions and mix with other fish or shellfish, add some veg you can stretch the fish to make a delicious meal that does not cost a fortune. This time I used a couple large shrimp, 2 plump scallops and 2 pieces of swordfish. The veggie skewer was simply zuchinni and cherry tomatoes drizzled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Marinate your swordfish in olive oil, mayonaise, a couple cloves of finely chopped garlic, salt, pepper. 1 lb. of sword should feed 4 with 2 pieces of swordfish per person.  Use 3-4 Tbsp. mayo, the same of olive oil, and liberal salt and pepper. You can add other seasonings or herbs, but I like to let the true taste shine so do not usually add anything else.

Start by cutting your swordfish in 2" chunks (aka medallions), mix the aforementioned ingredients together and drop the swordfish in and mix thoroughly with your hands. Make sure every side of the sword has a liberal amount of marinade.  Let marinate at least 3-4 hours; sitting overnight is even better.  If it sits overnight roll it around every once in awhile so all sides continue to get coated evenly.

Scallops are so delicate I do nothing to them except add a tiny bit of salt and olive oil.  They do not need to marinate.  Same with the shrimp, but you do need to clean the shrimp.  Hold the shrimp and cut through the backside to reveal the dark intestine (yes, that is a poop shoot).  Scrape it out with your knife and rinse the shrimp.  To me wild shrimp is always preferable--better flavor and texture. The wild shrimp usually have more to clean than the farm raised shrimp; not sure why that is; maybe they eat better!

Now we're ready to grill.  Skewer the fish alternating shrimp, scallop, and swordfish.  Get your grill hot and spray with cooking oil and then place the skewers on and cook about 2 minutes and then rotate the skewer and cook another 2 minutes. This gives the fish nice grill marks. Turn the skewer over and cook for about 3 minutes for a total of 7 minutes of cooking.

I served the fish kabobs on a bed of brown and wild rice. When I make rice I like to mix rice types.  Here I used 2/3 cup brown with 1/3 cup wild.  The wild rice gives a nutty flavor and texture.  Start by heating a couple tablespoons of olive oil and a bit of butter in a saucepan until bubbling hot. Add rice mixture, salt, pepper, 1 clove chopped garlic, a little chopped onion and stir the rice until it is coated thorougly with the butter and olive oil.  Add 2 cups chicken stock, cover, bring to a boil and then turn heat to low and let cook until the chicken stock is absorbed; about 45 minutes.

Before beginning your outdoor dining, here is a GREAT appeitzer, easy to make and can be done ahead of time.  Lemon Garlic Hummus is the perfect prelude to grilled srimp, fish, or even a burger!
I served this with whole grain pita pockets cut into eighths, sprayed with PAM and then topped with a Garlic and Onion Spice Blend made by The Gourmet Collection. I bought this spice at Home Goods and it has become my 'go-to' spice for many dishes. In addition to the garlic and onion it has a touch of salt, hot pepper, and other herbs and spices. Pop these under the broiler until they are a little crispy.
1 15.5 oz. can Garbanzo beans (chickpeas). I use Goya.
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest (yellow part only) of 1/2 lemon
1 clove finely minced garlic
5 Tbsp. olive oil
Coarse Sea Salt/Pepper

Rinse and drain garbanzo beans. Place beans, and all other ingredients in a blender or mini-max and blend completely. When you begin to blend, the beans will be coarse and thick, but keep blending until you get the desired consistency. If it is not coming together, add 1 Tbsp. water to loosen things up. Let it sit for a few hours so flavors comingle. You can top the Lemon Garlic Hummus with a drizzle of olive oil and an additional sprinkle of lemon zest. Yummy!

Outside with friends on a warm summer evening...how about a cocktail to go with your appetizer?

Here is my friend Francine enjoying a new drink which I call... 

I started out calling this a Midori Martini, but Francine's husband, Joe said that had already been created so I decided to call mine the Tropical Martini. Wow! These were fabulous!
First you need to make the special ice cubes. Start these in the morning and they will be frozen by early evening.
You may read lots of stuff about how hard it is to make granita or fruit ice cubes or fruit pops, but in my experience is is very easy.  Watermelon gave this martini a bright burst of color and flavor.

Use 1/2 of a small seedless watermelon which will make about 2 cups of  fruit. Remove rind and cut into chunks. Blend in a blender, mini-max or whatever processer you prefer until it is completely smooth. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.

To make the Tropical Martini, fill cocktail shaker half full with ice cubes, add 2 1/2 ounces (a good 5-count) melon vodka, 1 ounce Midori Melon Liquer, and a splash of pineapple juice. Shake and strain into martini glass. Serve with one Watermelon ice Cube.

On to more fish...

This haddock is ready to go on the grill. Place the filet skin side down on a piece of foil. Top with salt, pepper, once again I used the Garlic/Onion Spice Blend, tumeric (that is what gives the yellow color), salt/pepper, drizzle of olive oil and fresh oregano from my herb garden.

Get the grill quite hot and place the foil right on the flames. Cover grill and cook for about 5 minutes depending on how thick your fish is. Take off grill and let sit for a couple minutes covered loosely with foil. It will keep cooking.  When you remove the haddock from the foil, the skin will peel off and stay stuck to the foil. Nice trick, huh?!?

I served the Haddock with quinoa cooked with chicken broth, spinach, garlic, and orange cherry tomatoes. Now I am looking at this picture, I see I needed a splash of color to make this plate look more attractive, but it sure was delicious!


I think this dish looks pretty snazzy and it was as simple to make as the others. For two cod medallions, which is one serving, cut one strip of thick-cut bacon in half the long way and slightly fry it to get out some of the fat, but keep it pliable. Cool. Wrap around each medallion of cod and place on a hot grill for about 3 minutes per side, again depends on the thickness of your cod. The bacon infuses the fish with a smokey flavor, but because you have only used a half slice it is not overpowering.


Ingredient options are endless, but here I started with a bed of Romaine, shaved carrot, thick chunks of juicy tomato, lots of fresh herbs and topped with grilled mushroom and zuchinni. Usually when I make brown rice, I make enough for several meals so this rice is the same as mentioned above.
I like to assemble my ingredients before I start preparing to cook. It helps me stay organized...OK, so I am a little compulsive!

I am going to end today with another cocktail. I have had Mojitos before, but never really liked them; way too sweet for my savory palate, so I decided to make one myself to see if I could improve the drink and I believe I have!  To make the drink more special, I decided to make mint ice cubes with mint simple syrup. You need the simple syrup to make the mojitos anyway.

To make traditional simple syrup just remember 2 to 1, sugar to water.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Bring sugar and water to a simmer in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then simmer 5 minutes. Cool syrup completely. Syrup keeps covered and chilled for months. It is nice to have on-hand to sweeten ice tea or lemonade.
Here is the twist...
Chop about 1 cup of fresh mint leaves in a food processor. Add the chopped mint to the saucepan as the simple syrup simmers.  Simmer for an extra 5 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. This is the Mint Simple Syrup I used to make the Mojitos.  I also poured the syrup into an ice cube tray and added one small mint leaf per cube before freezing.

Cindy's Mint Mojitos (this makes 3 generous drinks)
Juice of 3 limes
Juice of 1 lemon
About 6 sprigs of fresh mint
6 ounces rum plus a little more for muddling
2 ounces Mint Simple Syrup
Club Soda
Muddle the fresh mint leaves with a bit of rum. I have a deep mortar and pestle, but you can use the back of a spoon and a bowl and just rub firmly to crush the mint leaves releasing their flavor.  Add the muddled mint leaves to a cocktail shaker half filled with ice.  Add juice of limes, lemon and simple syrup and shake vigorously.  Add the rum and shake again.  Strain and pour into a stemmed glass, top with club soda or plain seltzer and stir.  Drop in a Mint Ice Cube and serve. You can adjust sweetness by adding more Mint Simple Syrup, but we all liked them like this.  We were so excited to drink these drinks, that I forgot to take a picture...next time!

Grilling is fun, easy, keeps the kitchen cool and means less clean-up. You know my moto...have fun with cooking, mix it up, try different combos and please do play with your food.



Thank you for sharing my food ramblings.
I look forward to talking with you again soon!
Much love to you and yours!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Wild Thing(s)...I think I LOVE you!

It was fun last time to talk a little about my Mom. She was such a big influence on my life in general and of course my love of cooking. July 3rd would've been her 86th birthday and also my folks 65th wedding anniversary. I miss her very much, but have so many happy thoughts and memories, especially when I am in the kitchen!

I grew up eating wild game and fish; mainly fresh water fish as we lived in a small, rural dairy farming community in NH. Every weekend the entire family--all 5 of us!--went fishing and we ALWAYS caught our limit. 50 fish every week. We ate lots of trout, perch, pickerel, bass, pike, and even walleye, which was a real treat to catch. One of my favorite memories of fishing was going to my grandparents house, only a short distance, visiting for a bit and then heading out to fish for brook trout. I would usually go with my Dad down the brook one way and my Mom would go with my sister in the oppositie direction. My brother, being 4 years older, was able to fish in between us and we would all meet up and compare catches. Little brook trout are the best; not the stocked type, but the real thing that is born right in the brook. Sweet tender and delicious...as are the memories.
Now on to some cooking!  I now live half the year south of Boston on Cape Cod Bay; the other half of the year in Arizona, so am blessed with ocean and desert. When in New England we eat a lot of seafood--lobster, scallops, clams, mussels, oysters...you name it, I love to cook it and my husband and I LOVE to eat it. I feel like anything you can get in the wild, whether it be land, sea, pond or stream is better than what we can buy in the grocery store. Commercially grown fruit, veg, meats, poultry have reached an all-time low (in my opinion) in terms of health and quality and our treatment of commercially raised animals: cows, chickens, pigs, in most cases is deplorable.

I want to start today with something that is plentiful in these parts...So let's begin with...
During the summer, we eat lobster at least once a week. Usually I just boil it and the trick here is not to overcook.  A small lobster, called a chick, is 1 to 1 1/4 lb. They are usually the cheapest (right now selling for $4.99/lb.) and are the best buy for your money. The step down below a chick is a cull which has only 1 claw...what's the point!...since the claws are some of the nicest meat. The price, in New England anyway, goes up about $1 per additional pound, so 2 lb. lobsters are going for $5.99 and so on up to lobsters as large as 5 lbs. I bought my husband a 5 pounder for his birthday one year and it was a big disappointment. Sometimes the meat does not fill out the claw so you are paying for a lot of shell.  Also the meat on the larger lobsters can be a bit tougher.  Below you will see an exception...This lobster was caught by my husband's brother-in-law, Chris, who is a lobster/fisherman on the Cape.
Not sure how much this one weighed, but as you can see the claw is larger than my friend Diana's hand!  And this lobster was tender and delicious.

How to Cook a Lobster
Get a large pot--lobster pot or I use a large canning pot that I bought at a yard sale; any large pot will do, but has to be big enough to get the water boiling hard and fit a couple lobsters in under the boiling water.
The chix only need about 10 minutes to cook. Once the water is boiling, say a brief prayer to the lobster who is about to give up their life; thank them for this gift of food; and then drop the lobster into the boiling water. Cover immediately. Wait a couple seconds for the water to get boiling again, and then drop lobster #2 in after saying a similar prayer. Cover. Keep heat high so water boils continually, but does not boil over for 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Pour off water and let lobsters sit for about 5 minutes. They keep cooking even after being out of the water.
My husband, Jerry is a Lobster Whisperer. He believes if you turn the lobster upside down and balance on their heads before boiling them, they get hypnotized and are much calmer about their fate. He thinks the lobster meat stays more tender if you go through the process. Not sure he is accurate about this, but it sure is fun to watch him do it!

Below is a plain boiled lobster ready to eat. I do not prefer to dredge my boiled lobster in butter as most restaurants do. It masks the true beautiful flavor of the lobster and makes it much too rich so I eat it right from the shell, plain and simple.

Tear off the claws first. Then separate the body from the tail. Use nut/lobster crackers to break the claws and lobster picks to pull out the meat. The knuckles are my favorite. To remove the tail meat...break off the tail fin and push your finger right up the tail until the meat is released/pushed out. If there is any green goopey stuff called tamale or tomali or red stuff called coral, which are lobster eggs/row, you may either eat or remove. I like the red row in small doses (It is super rich!), but do not care for the green at all.

Keep all the shells in the fridge and next day boil the "bones" for soup stock which can be used for boiling spaghetti if you are making lobster spaghetti or is nice in clam chowder or linguine with clams. Of course if there is any leftover lobster meat (which there usually is not), it makes a great lobster roll  or lobster cake (similar to crab cake, but better!) for lunch the next day!

Let's move into the Maine woods for some...


My Dad often receives gifts of moose, venison and other game and shares with me. Moose is a very mild (ungamey) tasting meat. As with beef, the steaks are the best, but I am happy with any cut and recently got some Mooseburger meat, which was yummy! You cook a mooseburger in the same way you would hamburger. I panfried our burgers in a little butter/olive oil with salt and pepper only as flavorings. Here are the burgers ready to cook. As with beef I like my mooseburgers rare so cook for about 4 minutes per side. As you can see I made the patties fairly thick.  When you butcher either moose or venison and grind the meat into burgers, you need to add fat because the meat is so lean, but the burgers are still much less fatty than hamburger in the store.

I served our mooseburgers with sliced tomato, sauted spinach, garlic and red pepper and a potato pancake topped with fresh chive.
Last night I grilled a VENISON burger and served with a Spinach and Mushroom Timbale, sort of like a little souffle. I also grilled a few onions to add to the venison and as it was grilling (again about 4 minutes per side) added a sprig of fresh rosemary along with liberal salt and pepper.

These are so easy to make and you can vary the ingredients endlessly. This is what I used last night to serve two:
4 mushrooms, cut into small pieces
2 handfuls fresh baby spinach, chopped
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup grated Cheddar
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To start, lightly saute the veg you choose in olive oil, salt, pepper and seasonings. I used a couple dashes of onion salt and about 1/4 tsp. of garlic and onion spice blend.

Add chopped spinach and cook just until wilted. Beat eggs. Add 1/2 cup grated cheese (parmesan is also good in timbales), mix in veg and place in greased custard cups. Cook for 20 minutes until the timbales puff up (they will sink down like a soufle as they cool). Let them cool a bit. Take a knife and run along sides and bottom to lift out the timbales.

Recently Dad also gave me some perch and rainbow trout. Occasionally you can buy rainbow trout in the supermarket. Rainbows are different from brook trout (brookies) in both look and taste. Brookies are spotted, but their skin is more brown and their flesh is white; whereas rainbows are spotted and colorful (hence, the name!) with reddish flesh. They also taste a bit stronger than brookies, but are still delicious and very fast and easy to cook.

After you have cleaned your fish (they come cleaned in the store!), dredge in finely ground yellow or white corn meal, salt and pepper. Get a pan hot with butter and olive oil and drop fish in and fry for 3-5 minutes per side depending on how big your fish are. As you can see these perch are fairly small, but both fish were very sweet and tender. The bones in the perch were so small you could eat them and when the trout is cooked through the meat pulls off the bones easily.

I served with peas, sauted mushroom and cherry tomatoes, and creamy Yukon gold potatoes boiled with 1 carrot and a small onion, then mashed with butter and topped with fresh chives. It tasted like "home" and brought back great memories of Mom in the kitchen!

Another taste of "home" and memory from my childhood is eating game birds: pheasant, partridge, ducks of all kinds and on rare occasion a goose. My Dad had a partridge visiting him in his yard recently and really enjoyed watching him, but unfortunately something spooked this bird and he flew hard into Dad's bathroom window and broke his neck. Dad held the bird gently as he took his last breath. We learned growing up never to waste and if you kill something to eat every part of it. In this case Dad did not kill his "pet" partridge, but since the bird did himself in, Dad was kind enough to gut it out for me. My husband had never eaten or cooked partridge so he decided to cook the bird himself. There is very little meat on a a partridge so this breast made a nice appetizer for us. Jerry parboiled the breast in a steamer pan on a bed of onion, carrot and celery, salt and pepper for about 15 minutes. He then took the breast out of the steamer basket and sauted briefly in olive oil until the skin was browned. He made a roux with butter and flour, cut it with a little cream and white wine and then served the breast in this rich, beautiful sauce with some of the veg from the mirepoix,
 This picture does not do the partridge or Jerry's lovely appetizer justice, but you have to believe me if you are lucky enough to eat partridge it is truly a wonderful treat!

When I was a kid growing up I thought everyone ate game and fresh caught fish. I did not realize just how fortunate I was until years later!

Thanks again for joining me for another episode of: