Lobster is a luxurious treat

Lobster is a luxurious treat; something my family uses to celebrate.  My father chose lobster for his 55th birthday dinner. For a man that isn’t too fond of fish, he absolutely adores crab, lobster, shrimp and mussels alike. At $14.00/ pound, four of these beauties came out to be $100. We got some fine crustaceans from up north, Maine. It pains me that these are not local, that I don’t get to see the process of raising and harvesting the lobster. Its scrumptiousness told the story.

We went to the local fishmonger, giving the local business the attention it deserves. The options were vast, but lLobster was what we came to get. Our fishmonger suggested we steam each lobster for 7 minutes per one pound. Add three minutes for every extra pound. Pretty simple, who would have thought such an intimidating crawler, was so easy to cook.

The lobsters may have been the star of the show, but how good can the show be without outstanding supporting actresses. We grabbed 10 ears of fresh jersey corn to make a grilled corn salad. The difference in texture was epic. Sweet and spicy crunchy corn paired with the forgiving tender elasticity of the lobster meat just snapped around your tongue. A big salad filled with greens, and of course a fruit tart as requested by my more than deserving dad.  I told him in his birthday card, that nothing comes close to the happiness I feel when dancing around the kitchen with him. It’s a small kitchen, a big island with a decent size stove top, and very little counter space (thank you kitchen aid mixer, and Cuisinart coffee maker). It’s the perfect small farmhouse kitchen, we laugh as we bump into each other, as kitchen bumper cars do, whilst putting away groceries, simmering butter, or dashing off to the grill. It was a perfect day, usually I would object to the birthday being lifting a finger on their day, however I couldn’t dismiss such an eager helper, after all it was his idea. I would have loved to have had this feast outside somewhere, with a blanket to set us atop the grass and away from the bugs, but it was much too hot out as most mid July evenings are in NJ. So we slurped our lobster dinner in the cool air conditioning, not many words were said, our jaws were dropping for the star of the show. That’s when you know you did well.

That’ll do!

Grilled Corn Salad:
* I adapted this from Half baked harvest’s grilled street corn recipe

Ingredients:

-6 ears of fresh corn, husked
-extra virgin olive oil
-two limes, squeezed
-2 tsp of honey
-1.5 tsp chili powder
-1 tsp smoked paprika
-1 jalapeño
-sea salt & black pepper ( I love fresh cracked pepper!)
-a couple stalks of chives chopped
-1 cup of basil leaves chopped
-1/2 cup cilantro chopped
-4/4 cup feta cheese
Instructions:

1) Put three of the 6 ears of corn on the grill, allowing to blacken a bit on all sides, remove and cool, then when you are able to handle, slice the kernels off the cob.
2) Slice the remaining 3 ears of corn so the kernels are the only thing remaining, keep all the juices.
3) Stir all the remaining ingredients together

* I added a bit of chipotle powder to some ranch and had it as a sauce to add on… however I never used it because the flavors of the fresh corn & spices were incredible!

Berry Tart:

I borrowed this recipe from Manger, my favorite food blog, curated by Mimi Thorisson

A very impatient but good boy, jealous of the attention of our yummy berry tart

Ingredients (for dough):
-1 cup of flour
-1/3 cup of butter, softened at room temp
-2 tbsps of sugar
-4 tbsps of confectioner’s sugar
-1/4 cup ground almonds- almond flour will do!
-1/2 egg
– pinch of salt

Instructions for the shortbread crust:


1) in a medium bowl mix all the ingredients together to form a soft dough. Shape into a ball and wrap in cling film, putting in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
2) On a floured surface roll out the dough, to fit the tart pan, gently pressing the edges of the pastry against the pan. Prick the fitted dough with a fork.  Cover with more cling film and place in the freezer for 30 minutes… the longer the better… (this prevents shrinking of the crust!)
3)Cut out parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan, fill with marbles, rice, beans or popcorn (yes it works! And no they don’t pop… however they make a mess when you drop them everywhere)
4) Bake for 15 minutes @ 350. Remove the weight and bake until slightly golden ( 5-10 mins) Cool for 20 before putting the filling in.

For the lemon crème patisserie:
ingredients:
-1 cup of whole milk
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-3 egg yolks+ 1 egg
-2 tsp of vanilla extract
-two lemons zested
-2/3 cups of heavy cream
-juice of one lemon
-1/4 cup of plain flour

instructions:
1) whisk the sugar, eggs, and flour until light and fluffy( 8 mins). Then add the lemon juice & zest
2) Bring the milk, cream, and vanilla in a saucepan to a soft simmer. Pour the mixture gently into the egg bowl, whisking continuously.
3)Put the mixture back into the saucepan, continuously whisking on low heat until the mixture becomes a custard consistency ( this could take 10 minutes or more)
4) pour into a bowl and cover, place in the refrigerator once completely cool, close to serving time
5)Spoon the crème patissiere into the tart and smooth with a spatula.
6) place the berries on top in any fashion that pleases you!

** I would recommend letting this custard sit overnight, it becomes so much firmer for a day 2 serving**

Enjoy!

Xx,

Key- lime Pie in July

This weekend was spent in Vermont, the place I love the most, cherish and call home despite the contradicting reality of the rental property my name is on does indeed reside in Brooklyn, NY. Someday Vermont will once again be my full time home, but for now it will just have to do as my weekend elopement from the city.

As the train proceeds along the Hudson, closer and closer to where this rental agreement is located, I am reflecting on the lovely time we had in Vermont. The Green Mountains are well known for their winter time splendor.A place where many city folk flock in hopes of a quintessential winter wonderland, filled with skis and ski boots, snowshoes and wool hats. Although winter is spectacular and for a very long time has been my favorite season, the summer in Vermont is just as enchanting. Rivers and lakes alike beg you to dip your toe,and a slower, more thoughtful life expands your horizons and suddenly an afternoon spent by the lake becomes all your heart desires (of course great company truly is the key,but this can be done alone too!)

Our dear friends invited us to their lakefront property for an afternoon of snacks and drinks. I rolled over yesterday morning asking… what is the best dessert to accompany snacks by the lake? There really isn’t a wrong answer, however my matter of fact mountain man spewed, “lemon meringue or key lime pie” as if he had anticipated the question coming from my mouth long before the question evolved. Smart, and matter o’ fact.

So key lime pie it was. And the only reason necessary was that he suggested and I don’t usually get suggestions so I wanted to reward such good behavior. That and key lime pie is dreadfully easy! I am alarmed how cost effective it is and how delicious. So here is my painless recipe:

Key-lime-pie

Ingredients:
-3 cans of sweetened condensed milk
-¾ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
-2 tbsp of fresh lime zest
-1 cup of sour cream
-2 sleeves of graham crackers
-1.5 sticks of butter (melted)
-¼ cup of granulated sugar

Instructions:

  1. crush the graham crackers (by hand is fine) & add in the melted butter & sugar
  2. Pack the slightly sandy mix into the pie tin firmly & place in the freezer
  3. In a bowl mix together the sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, and lime juice stirring in 1 tablespoon of lime zest until all ingredients are combined
  4. After the graham crust has frozen a bit, pour in the key-lime mixture
  5. Bake @ 350 for 5-8 minutes, until the pie jiggles only a little when shaken. Put in the freezer for 30 or the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Enjoy with some homemade whipped cream and more key lime zest to garnish

(This makes 2 pies for shallow pie dishes or one pie for a deep pie dish)

Xx

Strawberries and Cream Cake from your Dream


This weekend was my sister’s twentieth birthday. Strawberries and Cream is her all-time favorite so there was no negotiating (although I’m not too sure why anyone would want to negotiate themselves out of that!).  For Grace’s birthdays my family always picks up a strawberries and cream cake from the grocery store. Although the cake is made fresh at their bakery it just wasn’t satisfying anymore. Maybe management changed, maybe there was some sort ingredient switch-up, or it’s possible my family has become quite spoiled. Turns out-baking with farm fresh eggs changes the baked goods game. This year I decided to try my hand at Grace’s cake (assuring everyone that if the cake was a flop ice cream would be on me!).

There is no cake left, there were oohs and there were ahhs and most of all the birthday girl was smiling. We ate it all. So I am jotting it down here for you dear readers to modify/replicate. If not for a birthday then just because it’s spring!

It‘s rumored that Marie Antoinette sang “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” when the people of France were starving. The tale goes that cakes and pastries were handed out to the poor. I guess they must have had a lot of leftover cake. Whether that’s true or not I will still take a fat slice of homemade cake anyday. Cheers!

Beware: This recipe calls for buttermilk and cake flour- two uncommon ingredients in my household- if you are in a pinch, no fear!  I put the substitutes below 🙂 Happy Baking

Ingredients:

For the Cake:
-3 cups of cake flour (or 2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour + ¼ cornstarch)
-3/4 tsp baking soda
-1 ½ tsp baking powder
-3/4 tsp salt
-1 ½ (three sticks) butter- room temp
-3 large egg whites
-2 1/3 cups of granulated sugar
-2 tsp almond extract
-1 ½ cups Buttermilk (whole milk with 1 tbsp white vinegar/ lemon juice)

For the Filling:
-2 cups sliced strawberries
-1-2 tsp sugar

For the Frosting:
-1 pint of heavy whipped cream (chilled)
-1/4 cup powdered sugar
-1 tsp almond extract (vanilla extract will do! I prefer the almond undertone)

How to make that cake!

  1. Preheat the oven to 350* F. Butter two or three round cake pans generously with butter.
  2. Sift flour (3 cups), baking soda (3/4 tsp), baking powder (1 ½ tsp), and salt (3/4 tsp) together in one bowl
  3. Cream the butter (3 sticks @ room temp) and sugar (2 1/3 cups) until light and fluffy
  4. Add in the egg whites (3)and almond extract (2 tsp), continue beating on medium for a few
  5. While the mixer is still running add in 1/3 of your dry ingredient mixture to the mixer. Scrape down the sides, then add ¾ cup of buttermilk. Repeat until all batter ingredients are mixed together.
  6. Divide batter into buttered cake pans evenly. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until they reach a golden brown (Use ye-olde toothpick trick)
  7. Let cakes cool for at least 10 minutes

Meanwhile… in the filling department:

  1. Cut the tops of strawberries off and chop ( 2 cups worth)
  2. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and let sit in a bowl for 10 min.
  3. Strain and keep pink strawberry water for frosting

Whip it! Whip it real good!

  1. Chill the whisk & clean mixing bowl in freezer until cold
  2. Pour in (1 Pint) heavy cream, powdered sugar (1/4 cup) and almond extract ( 1tsp)
  3. Add in whatever pink strawberry liquid you have leftover
  4. Whip until stiff peaks!

Build it!

  1. Place the largest cake (there always is a bigger layer) on the plate & spread with whipped cream
  2. Spread half of strawberries
  3. Repeat if doing three layer cake
  4. Frost top layer and decorate with remaining strawberries OR fresh chopped strawberries- it’s up to you!

Late to the Party- (Irish)Soda Bread


This post is a wee bit late to the party. Having just celebrated our lovely green holiday I took a stab at creating the old loaf that usually accompanies the meal— he Authentic Irish Soda Bread. Historically the low cost loaf adorned the poor families and peasant’s table. With minimal ingredients, the loaf is extremely easy (and cheap!) to make, I’ve added currents and other dried fruits to the dough per popular demand in my home (though traditionally they are left out). Ingredients include baking soda, buttermilk, all purpose flour, and salt.


We didnt have buttermilk, so all readers without, no fear substitute is near!

Buttermilk traditionally would be lounging in the refrigerator, a bi-product from making the week’s butter. The perfect recipe to use up said buttermilk is a good loaf of soda bread.

What? You don’t have a couple cups of slightly soured milk lying around? There is a fast track trick that will give you everything you need from buttermilk. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to one cup of whole milk and let sit for 5-10 minutes. The milk begins to slightly curdle and separate, you now have a substitute at your disposal.

I guiltily added the raisins to the dough, I couldn’t help it, I love them! And my family voted for the dried fruit. I will absolutely be replicating the recipe when currents are back in season and I don’t have to resort to their dried little raisin cousins.


Soda bread obviously is not made just for St. Patrick’s Weekend, usually this hearty bread is made to endure a few days of sitting on the counter, or a sit down meal or two. I am hoping to inspire others to set their next feast with the very easy homemade bread! I grabbed the basis of this recipe from Imen McDonell’s cookbook Farmette. Check out other traditional Irish cooking recipes on her blog: http://farmette.ie or pick up the gorgeous cookbook yourself!

Ingredients:
1 ¾ cup of whole milk
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
3 ½ cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp of salt

Directions:

  1. Set the oven to 450*
  2. Pour milk in seperate bowl and mix in the tablespoon of lemon juice gently, let sit for 5-10 minutes (until you start to see some separation)
  3. Sift flour, baking soda and salt together
  4. Create well in middle of dry mixture and add buttermilk (flour your hands!) Begin to combine wet and dry ingredients by hand
  5. Flip mixture onto floured surface and knead the dough
  6. Knead and form dough into one inch disk
  7. Slice an X on the top of dough, to continue tradition, allow dough to breath and ward off bad omens
  8. Butter clay baking stone or pizza stone (baking sheet will also work)
  9. Put in oven for 15 @ 450*
  10. Reduce oven heat to 400* and continue to bake for 25-30

Enjoy!

Snowed in Scones ft. Maple Syrup & Bourbon


This weekend I had every intention to make a batch of fresh farmhouse butter. Raw milk from my favorite farm had been sitting in the fridge for the greater half of the week. Alone with the condiments it started settling and separating into heavy cream and skimmed milk.

But snow-filled Vermont seduced me. I hope you are careful, she could seduce you too. Whispering in your ear, stay inside, wear the comfy clothes, melt into the couch, swaddled in plush blankets. Consume all the comfort food. The only issue (not an issue) was… no comfort food was readily available. Waking up to snow falling in every direction was the perfect excuse to stay put. My stomach started rumbling so I made a batch of “Snowed in Scones, ft. Maple Syrup & Bourbon”

No eggs? No problem, we didn’t have them either

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups Heavy Cream
¾ cup of sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 cups all purpose flour (I use King Arthur’s)
1 tbsp of baking powder
8 tsp butter (1 stick)
2 tsp of salt

For the maple-bourbon glaze:

2 tbsp Maple Syrup
2 tbsp (or to taste) bourbon – I used Knob Creek’s maple bourbon
¾ cup of confectionary sugar
2 tbsp Heavy Cream
2 tsp butter (melted)

The best glaze! Boozy & sweet



Directions:

-Take 1 cup of heavy cream, place in the freezer for 10 minutes

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

-Whisk together: flour, salt, brown sugar, white sugar (whatever you choose), baking powder

-Melt the stick of butter

-Mix the butter and chilled heavy cream with a rubber spatula (not with whisk)

Use spatula instead of whisk to combine dry & wet ingredients

-Mix wet mix with dry mix until the dough is somewhat solid & pulling from the sides of the bowl (its okay if its still not one solid dough-still using rubber spatula)

-Flour you work surface

-Empty mixed dough onto flour surface

-Begin to pack the dough together gently, creating a disk that is about 1 inch thick


-Divide the dough into 8 triangles


-Place each scone to be on a well buttered pan

-Brush each scone with heavy cream

No brush? Just dollop of heavy cream and smooth with spoon

-Bake for 15- 20 minutes

-While waiting for that to cook, clean up your mess and make the glaze!

– Mix with fork:

2 tbsp heavy cream, confectionary sugar, 2 tsp of melted butter, maple syrup, bourbon to taste

(Adding more confectionary sugar if too liquidy and more liquid if too thick)

-Begin checking the scones at 15 minutes, every oven is different

– Take the scones out once getting golden on the edges

-Allow to cool for 10-15 before icing ( I put the glaze in a zip lock baggy and snip off the tip to create an impromptu icing baggy.

-Grab your oven mit, phone, and scones… run to the best lighting in the room to take photos before your hungry boyfriend steals them all, enjoy!