Monday, May 30, 2011

On Deck...Fried Baby Lobster Tails!

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After 40 years of dreaming about them, this weekend we finally got to eat this childhood treat. 

There used to be a restaurant called the Clam Box in Westport, Connecticut that served great seafood.  On Friday nights, our parents used to take my brother and me for dinner and the four of us would pig out on lobster tails served with French fries and coleslaw, a steal at $4.95!  Although the menu at the restaurant was huge, we never even looked at it, except perhaps once in awhile waiting for drinks.  I am sure the rest of the food was as good as our baby lobster tails, and my mother would often say we should try something else but the three of us held steadfast and at the end she relented knowing that none of us would share if her entree was not as good.    Lobster in those days was plentiful and relatively inexpensive.  Of course, I'm talking about the pre fast food days of the early 60's and long before Red Lobster came along. 

I looked for a recipe for fried tails in all my cookbooks and over the Net and came empty handed.  I remember well the taste of those lobster tails, coated in bread crumbs and dipped in butter,  the meat inside so soft it melted in your mouth.   Nothing I saw in my search resembled the ones served at the Clam Box; so with my brother's help and a little imagination I ventured out on my own.

The first thing to determine was the type of oil to use.  When you fry something,  you need an oil that can withstand a high temperature, in this case 350 degrees.  Not all oils are created equal and some have a higher smoke point than others.  The smoke point  marks the beginning of both flavor and nutritional degradation; therefore, it is a key consideration when selecting a fat for frying, with the smoke point of the specific oil dictating its maximum usable temperature and therefore its possible applications. For instance, since deep frying is a very high temperature process, it requires a fat with a high smoke point.  Refined peanut oil has a smoke point of 450 degrees, one of the reasons it is used frequently when frying chicken.  It is my oil of choice also for frying oysters.

The rest was easy...bread crumbs that needed some flavoring, and a frying vessel  large enough to fry the tails without crowding.  As I do not own a fryer and few are made large enough to hold 3 or 4 tails, I opted for my wok which I use to fry chicken and oysters when I have a large crowd.

If you can find fresh Maine lobster tails get them; otherwise flash frozen ones will do.  We got ours at Whole Foods and although they were not from Maine they were very good (and quite pricey). I do not recommend the ones at Cotsco.  Although I have not tried them, they have a grayish color that does not give me a lot of confidence.  Regardless of which type of lobster you use, plan on two tails apiece.

The result was so incredible that they grabbed the plates from me before I could take a photo.  The picture above is not mine but it is as close as I could find to resembling this recipe.  I will leave you instead with a photo of the table.  All I can say is the dream was fulfilled and the lobster tails did not disappoint.  That is a lot to say after 40 years!




Serves 4

Ingredients

8 lobster tails
1 cup of breadcrumbs
1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
2 eggs
Peanut Oil
Melted Butter
Lemon

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Add enough peanut oil to the wok to bring it to 3/4 full.  Bring the oil to 350 degrees.  You can check with a candy thermometer. I can usually tell by placing the palm of my hand a few inches over the oil.  If it's hot enough to cause discomfort after 5 seconds it's ready!  

With a pair of poultry scissors cut the cartilage in the tails to expose the meat.  Beat the egg yolks and add a little water.  Season the bread crumbs with the Old Bay Seasoning and place in a baggie. 

Dip the tails in the egg, lift and let the excess slide back into the dish.  Place in the breadcrumbs and shake the bag until well coated.  Place on a plate until all the tails are coated.   Place them in the freezer for 5 minutes before frying.

When the oil is hot enough, slide the tails into the oil making sure there's enough room for them to fry without crowding.  For the size of my wok it meant frying four at a time.  Fry until golden, about 3 - 4 minutes.

Remove to a cookie sheet lined with paper towels and place in the oven at 250 to keep warm until the rest of the tails are done.

Serve immediately with melted butter and lemon quarters.

Coleslaw is a must! I served mine with corn on the cob but French fries was what was originally served..


Photos: 1. Google, 2. Lindaraxa

   




  

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer Weekends...Creamy Cole Slaw With Caraway Seed

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There is nothing more versatile to have on hand for a summer weekend than homemade coleslaw.  Now, I am not talking about the one you buy at the grocery store submerged in mayonnaise; but the one you make with your two little hands that tastes crunchy and sweet and takes minutes to prepare. 

This weekend we are having a real treat...lobster tails! My brother and I have been reminiscing for months about the fried lobster tails we used to get when we were kids at the Clam Box in Westport, Connecticut and tonight, finally(!), we are going to make them.  This morning I prepared the coleslaw, which is a must with this meal, and hopefully  the Florida corn I bought won't disappoint. I've made enough to serve with ribs and beans thus eliminating some extra work for tomorrow's dinner.  Any leftovers will be served with sandwiches or hot dogs for lunch.  Talk about spreading the wealth.....

Check My Kitchen by the Lake for some tips on how to plan ahead and make your summer weekends a breeze.



Serves 4 - 6

Ingredients

1 bag of coleslaw mix
3/4 cup of Miracle Whip
1 tsp. Dijon or honey mustard
1 TB sugar
1/4 cup milk
3 to 4 TB wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Worcestershire Sauce
2 TB Caraway Seed
salt and pepper

Procedure

Soak the coleslaw in water for about 1/2 hour. Drain.  In a separate bowl,  mix the Miracle Whip, mustard, milk,  vinegar, sugar, onion and garlic powder.  Add a few drops of Worcershire Sauce.  Add the sauce to the coleslaw, mix well.  Add the caraway seed and salt and pepper.  Mix again and chill for at least 6 hours.

All photos Lindaraxa 

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Wines Of Spain...Pintia (Vega Sicilia) A Pleasant Surprise!

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I have never been much of a fan of Spanish wines, that is, until I tasted Pintia on my last visit to Miami.  I didn't even have to taste it, just the smell that permeated the air when it was uncorked told me I was going to be in for a nice surprise. 

Acquired by the legendary Vega Sicilia estate in 1997,  Pintia's vineyards are 30- 50-year-old Tinto de Toro (Tempranillo). Toro is located further along the Duero river from Vega Sicilia, in hotter, wilder territory as one approaches the Portuguese border (after which, the Duero becomes the famous Douro of Port fame). The Vega group began researching the area in 1997, with experimental vinifications and judicious purchases of top vineyard sites, half of which were already planted with mature 25 to 45 year old vines. The estate now possesses 96 hectares of land, including a state-of-the-art vinification and ageing facility. The 2001 vintage was the first judged worthy of release, in a limited quantity of 80 000 bottles.

The wine is 100% Tinto de Toro, the superior local clone of Tempranillo, aged 1 year in new oak (70% French, 30% American). It displays the style and class of a Vega Sicilia Group wine, but with the extra spicy, forceful presence of a Toro. A fantastic newcomer to the Spanish scene!

In the past, whenever I have purchased a Spanish wine it has been a fairly inexpensive one, mainly to complement a paella or another Spanish dish.  As I have mentioned before, a native dish should be cooked with the olive oil of the region and served with a wine of the same.  This is called "terroir".  What grows together, goes together.  It's as easy as that.

When you have an exceptional wine such as this, think of the wine first and order around it.  At this particular dinner we had a roasted pork loin with pears, cooked in a wood fired oven,  accompanied by truffled french fried potatoes.  A very "woodsy" menu and one which complemented the wine to a T.

Although Pintia is not inexpensive, ($75 - $85 retail) it represents excellent value for a wine of this category from one of Spain's greatest estates.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hydrangeas...Smythson Blue

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The hydrangeas I stole picked yesterday from my neighbor's garden are the exact same color as my Nile Blue Smythson's stationary


makes me almost forget the fence full of lilacs I had in Connecticut which must now be in bloom



they go well on top of my desk, purchased in Pakistan years ago (it's rosewood)



In 1986, on a trip to London, I purchased my personal business stationary from this venerable stationery shop.  They made a mistake and must have tripled the order for I now have stationary with my old New York business address coming out of my ears.  If I write you a note, you can bank it will be on this stationery.  I'm planning on leaving it to my grandchildren with instruction of keeping it in the family until it runs out. 

Check out My Kitchen By The Lake for more on hydrangeas' color and soil.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Roasted Halibut With Tomato Curry Sauce

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Although we are having another cool spell here in North Georgia, I just know one of these days summer is going to be upon us and bathing suit time will be a rude awakening.  I have already crept up on those scales and what I see is not pretty so cutting fat down to 35 grams a day is my goal for the next month or so.

That doesn't mean I plan to starve or eat yucky stuff, just avoid desserts, bread, and cut back on my daily cocktail.  Oy vey, boring!

Indian food is fairly low in fat and a great alternative, particularly if you choose a recipe like this with a flavorful tomato curry sauce.  For less calories, serve it with plain white or jasmine rice instead of the cauliflower rice recipe suggested.   If dieting is not an objective, I highly recommend it. 

If you are lucky to live in an area where fresh halibut is readily available, great.  If not, remember those flash frozen packages you can find in the supermarket...not bad for second best.  I have also found fresh halibut at Costco on occasion.  Sea bass or another meaty fish is a good alternative.

You can find garam masala at most supermarkets; however, if you want to make your own, a recipe can be found at Closet Cooking here.  

Roasted Halibut with Tomato Curry Sauce
(Serves 4)

Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable or other neutral oil

2 tbsp mild Indian curry paste (garam masala)

1 tsp grated ginger

4 pieces halibut, 5-6 ounces each


Directions

Combine oil, curry paste and ginger in a bowl. Place halibut in a glass or metal dish and brush curry paste mix all over. Leave to sit for 30 min.

Curry Sauce

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup chopped onions

1 tbsp chopped ginger

1 tbsp chopped garlic

2 tsp. ground coriander

2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more if you like it HOT)

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 to 2 tsp mango chutney

1/4 cup chopped cilantro for garnish

salt and pepper to taste


Directions

Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened about 8 to 10 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and continue to cook 1-2 more minutes. Stir in coriander and cumin and cook for another minute. Add cayenne, tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add coconut milk and chutney and simmer for 10 more minutes. Taste and add more mango chutney if needed. Let cool slightly and then puree sauce with immersion blender, then stir in chopped cilantro. Set aside.

For Fish:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roast halibut for 10 to 15 minutes until cooked through. To serve, spoon sauce in the centre of a serving plate, top with halibut and add Cauliflower Rice Pilaf on the side.


Cauliflower Rice Pilaf

Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup chopped onions

3 cups small cauliflower florets

1 tbsp chopped seeded green chili

1 tsp chopped garlic

2 cups basmati rice

1 cup coconut milk

1.5 cups water

1/2 tsp whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

3 tbsp chopped mint


Directions

Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 2 minutes or until softened. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in chili and garlic and saute for 1 minute then add rice and still well. Add coconut milk, water, cloves, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper to taste.

Cover pot, turn heat to low and cook rice for 15 minutes until rice is cooked and liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes to steam before serving. Remove whole spices. Sprinkle with almonds and mint before serving.


Adapted from Food and Wine Via Closet Cooking

Friday, May 13, 2011

Memories of Berlin, Sanssouci And... Wiener Schnitzel Holstein

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This is a variation of the legendary Austrian dish and a specialty of Berlin. While Wiener Schnitzel is simply a breaded veal cutlet, it is acceptable to add a topping depending on where you eat it.

Right after the fall of the Berlin Wall I was in that city and had the opportunity to eat it this way and was hooked. It was also on that trip that I fulfilled my lifelong wish to visit Sanssouci, the summer palace of Frederick The Great in Potsdam near Berlin.

"Quand je serai là, je serai sans souci" (Once I am there, I shall be carefree)

                                                                                               Frederick the Great 1744.




After the reunification of Germany the final wish of Frederick the Great was realized. On August 17, 1991, the 205th anniversary of his death, the sarcophagus with the mortal remains of the King was laid out in the forecourt of Sanssouci palace, escorted by an honour guard of the Bundeswehr. The burial took place that night in the tomb Frederick had planned for the purpose since 1744 on the highest terrace of the vineyards that surround it. I was there much earlier, literally right after the fall and just as they were taking down the barricades, and missed seeing his grave.

If you have never visited Sanssouci I encourage you to do so as well as the Neues Palais on the western part of the park and a short walk from the summer residence. Sanssouci is a jewel of a palace, small and intimate, nothing like the grandeur of the Neues Palace which Frederick the Great built to commemorate his victories after the Seven Year's War. Architecturally, the latter rivals Versailles.  On the way back stop in Potsdam at Cecilienhof and visit the site of the conference.



Everything is in close proximity and easy to do in one day. I was lucky to travel in the car of the head of Deutsche Bank in Berlin who lent me his driver as well.  It was not only a luxury but also the only way to easily get there so soon after the fall. The palace is in the former East Germany and, although hard to imagine nowadays, to go from one side to the other in those days was quite a feat, particularly since nobody spoke English except our driver  He came along on the tour which was in German and thanks to him we were able to follow along.

I was completely unprepared for this visit and had not done as much research as I usually like to do before I visit a new place.   When after our business meeting our friend suddenly asked, "What would you like to see while you are in Berlin?" without missing a beat, I said Sanssouci! But I will never forget it for it was indeed a privilege to be there at the time. 

So that and the veal are some of my Berlin memories, although Checkpoint Charlie is not too far behind!

As to the recipe, it is very simple and straight forward. I have broken it down in case you want to omit the Holstein bit and avoid the egg. Nowadays, it is also acceptable to substitute pork for veal although, in my mind, it wouldn't be the same!

Wiener Schnitzel
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds veal scallops, divided by 4 and pounded thin as for scaloppini
1/2 cup flour
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons sunflower or canola oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 lemon

Directions

Place flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in 3 individual shallow dishes. Season cutlets with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour, shake of excess, dredge through egg, and last in bread crumbs.

Heat the oil in large skillet, add butter, and heat until foam subsides. Add 1 Schnitzel at a time to pan, brown from both sides about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to plate lined with paper towels and place in 250 degree F oven to keep warm. Repeat with other Schnitzel. Serve with lemon wedges.

Holstein Variation

4 eggs
4 to 8 anchovies
8 teaspoons capers, if desired

Fry eggs and top each cutlet with an egg. Top with 1or 2 anchovy fillets and sprinkle with capers, to taste

Recipe adapted from Food Network.
Photos Google




















Monday, May 9, 2011

Mrs. Guthrie's Vegetable Dip

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Like Mrs. Adams of baked ham fame in this blog, Mrs. Guthrie was another of my mother's friends who you could always count on for a good recipe.  She would serve this dip on a beautiful silver tray loaded with carrots, zucchini, celery, red pepper, cauliflower, broccoli, cherry tomatoes and anything else in season.  It was the only vegetable tray I have seen frequented equally by ladies and gents, children and adults.

I like the way the vegetables are arranged in the photo above.  Carrot and celery sticks in glasses and everything laid out below.  Much more interesting than arranging everything flat on a platter.

This recipe is from the late 60's and still works today!

Ingredients

1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. minced white onion
2 tsp. horseradish
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. vinegar
Worcestershire Sauce

Direction

Combine everything in a bowl, chill and serve.

Photo: Stockphoto

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Simple Menu For Mother's Day... Tropical Fruit, Shrimp And Avocado Salad

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If you are a mother, a grandmother and a daughter...guess what? You still have to entertain up!  Sorry girls, you all know this is true.  No matter what, if you have a mother, you still have to entertain her.  So what I do is simple.  Choose a menu where I can make most things the day before; have everyone up for brunch, feed them, and take off the rest of the day.  That way I don't feel too cheated out of a free ride.  

With my mother, I don't even have to ask.  For her it's always shrimp; so when I saw this salad,  that was it.  This and quiche, something new she has been asking for recently,  is a simple menu and can be prepared ahead.  A no fuss dessert and I'm off the hook!

Florida mangoes are not out yet but the Dominican Republic ones that are coming in are quite good, if you buy them at a good store.  Pineapple and papaya can be bought already cut up in the supermarket.  If you make the salad ahead, don't add the avocados until right before you serve it.  Shrimp can be grilled the night before and saved in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before you add to the rest of the salad.

I have played around quite a bit with this recipe, reducing some amounts but leaving all the ingredients.  In this case, I want more shrimp and less fruit, but you can adapt the range to your liking.

The quiche can be made the day before and the Affogato, well, that just takes a minute to prepare. 

Mother's Day Menu

Tropical Fruit, Shrimp and Avocado Salad (Follows)



Tropical Fruit,  Shrimp and Avocado Salad

 
YIELD: Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1 pineapple, diced

1 large ripe papaya, diced

1 ripe mango, diced

1 roasted red bell pepper, cut into strips

1 roasted yellow bell pepper, cut into strips

1 -2 poblano chiles, cut into 1/4-inch strips

1 -2 jalapeño peppers, minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup sherry wine vinegar

30 large shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 ripe avocados, cut into wedges

Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Combine onions, pineapple, and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine olive oil and vinegar; toss with fruit mixture.  (Adapt fruit mix, peppers and dressing to your liking)

Grill shrimp 3 minutes on each side or until opaque, and immediately toss into the salad. Gently stir in avocado. Season to taste with black pepper.

Adapted from Coastal Living
Photo Karri Hosborg 


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Monday, May 2, 2011

Mother's Orchids

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In spite of the fact my mother has been in bed for a couple of months after a bad fall, her orchids took no heed and bloomed just like they do every Spring!


















She grows African violets too!


All photos Lindaraxa

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