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How to Cook Lobster

Sunday, June 25, 2017

We do lobster maybe about once a year, usually around the Fourth of July. Rather than always scrambling to remember the cooking time, for a quick reference we decided to write it down here.

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We went to the store and asked the lady behind the seafood counter to keep the two lone lobsters in the tank for us as we went home to drop off the other groceries. When we came back, distracted by something, she asked: "you didn't want those steamed did ya?" We said no.

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Jokingly, or maybe not, she said, "good, I would have thought less of you." And then went on to say people usually ask to have them steamed on the spot and she tried to talk them out of it as they would never be as fresh or even perhaps cold when served.

So here is how to cook a live lobster.

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You will need a big pot, capable of holding somewhere between 16 and 20 quarts of liquid. Our pot's dimensions are roughly 9.5 inches in height, 11 inches in diameter, holding about 18 quarts of water. It is important for the mouth of the pot to be wide enough for you to easily be able to drop a lobster with its claws spread out. You will also need some decently sized live lobsters. Everything else is simple.

Boiled Lobster
Serves 2

You will need:
Two live 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb lobsters
Sea salt or kosher salt (1 tbsp per quart of water)
Big pot (see note above)
Water
Optional: melted butter and lemon juice for dipping

Directions:
1. Fill the pot with about 2/3 to 3/4 full of water and bring to a boil (note: the water will take some time to come to a boil, perhaps 30-40 minutes so plan accordingly). Once the water is at a rolling boil, add salt, and wait until the water comes back to a boil.
2. Usually live lobsters will come in a thick paper bag, keep them at the back of the fridge in the bag, flat (making sure it's not completely sealed so they can breathe) as you wait for the water to boil. Once out of the fridge they become active so you will have to act quickly. Unless an experienced lobster boiler, I would recommend keeping the claw bands on (some people recommend removing them, but they are easier to handle with them on).
3. Take lobsters out of the bag and set on counter. Take one lobster by the tail and invert it so that its belly is up (it will move around so be careful not to drop it, but this way of holding them prevents them from trying to get at your hand). Put it in the pot head and claws first. Repeat with second lobster. Wait for the water to come back to a boil.
4. After the water comes back to a boil, boil the lobsters for 6-7 minutes per pound, with roughly three minutes for each additional pound. For 1 1/4 lb lobster 6-7 minutes is ideal. For 1 1/2 lb lobster, cook it for about 7-8 minutes. For a two pound lobster, 9-10 minutes, etc. Note: Do not multiply the minutes based on the number of lobsters you have; the timing will remain the same no matter how many lobsters you have in the pot; base the timing on the average weight of a single lobster.
5. One option is to serve them with some melted butter mixed with lemon juice for dipping. Enjoy.

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Czech Style Potato Salad

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Let's pretend that it isn't true that there have been no posts around these parts for over a year. Let's also pretend that henceforth I will be posting regularly (not). But I do want to continue keeping a record certain recipes, for myself if not for anyone else. In the interests of time, of which I have very little these days, something may pop up here and there (and may use an iPhone camera).


This recipe was inspired by a trip we took to the Czech Republic some time ago. This salad was practically on every menu and at every catered event. I liked it because it reminded me a lot of the Russian style potato salad (Olivier), except it did not have the ham, it was slightly more pungent, and some versions of it contained pickled cabbage.


It appears some recipe versions of this salad use celery. I have not seen any celery in the versions of this salad I tried in the Czech Republic, but if you like celery, feel free to add it for some crunch, it would not hurt.

It can be had by itself, or with a hunk of meat (a not uncommon accompaniment in Central Europe). It also goes well with Czech beer.



This is a great salad for the holidays and can be made a day ahead, as it keeps well.

Czech Style Potato Salad
(Serves 6-8)

You will need:
6 medium sized red potatoes, unpeeled
3 large carrots
1 egg
1 dill pickle
1/4 medium yellow onion
1/2 cup canned sweet peas
2-3 tbsp sauerkraut (or to taste, optional)
2 tsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use cholesterol free)
Optional: chopped fresh dill and chives

Directions:
1. Wash the potatoes and carrots thoroughly. Place in a large pot and cover with cold water. Heat to a boil, and cook until soft and fully cooked, about 20 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and let stand until cool enough to handle. At the same time, bring water in a small pot or saucepan to a boil. Add the egg and cook for about ten minutes until hard-boiled. Cool under cold water.

2. Peel the potatoes, carrots and the egg. The potato skins should come off easily and you can peel them with a pairing knife.

3. Finely chop the potatoes, carrots, egg, pickle, and the yellow onion and add to a large mixing bowl. Add the peas, sauerkraut if using, and mix. Add the vinegar, mayo, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chives and/or dill if using. If not serving immediately, refrigerate until ready to serve (this can be made a day ahead). Enjoy!

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Summer Berry Pie

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A few weekends ago it has been decided that I was to make a pie. There is nothing simpler or more enjoyable than a fresh homemade berry pie in the summertime, even if it is slightly time consuming.

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We went to the store and I let my husband choose the filling. He chose blueberries and raspberries, which I thought at first was a bit of an unconventional combination (I was going to go just for blueberries or perhaps cherries). But he was set on those berries and I thought, well, why not.

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I took care not to use too much sugar as I didn't want the sugar to drown out the taste of the berries. Our berries were very sweet and I ended up using no more than about three to four tablespoons of sugar. I was also very careful when tossing the berries so that they didn't run too many juices and retained their shape. I used about 3 tbsp of corn starch to make sure the pie was not too runny. Lately I've been intrigued by using cookie cutter shapes to make fun and interesting pie tops instead of traditional lattice tops or just a dough-covered pie with vent holes (sorry grandma).

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I used a combination of white and whole wheat flours for this pie. The whole wheat flour I used was stone ground pastry flour, which worked well and made the crust very delicate, but also more substantial than when made entirely from white flour (and using all whole wheat, as my husband says, makes the thing taste like cardboard). This is a good, simple recipe, that I'd imagine we'd be using much into the fall as various berries come into season. Enjoy!

For other pie recipe variations you can also try our peach and blackberry pie, or for a gluten free version, a sour cherry galette.

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Summer Berry Pie

You will need:

For the crust
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (plus more for dusting)
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 stick cold butter (8 tbsp), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3-5 tbsp ice cold water

For the filling:
4 cups berries (e.g. half blueberries, half raspberries)
1/4-1/2 cup granulated sugar (depending on sweetness of the berries)
1 tsp lemon zest
2-3  tbsp corn starch (depending on how juicy the berries are)
1 tbsp lemon juice

Directions:

1. In a bowl mix white and whole wheat flours, 3 tbsp sugar, and salt. Add butter and with your fingers quickly work the butter into the flour mixture until the texture resembles that of coarse sand. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, until dough starts to form. Be careful not to overhandle. Form the dough into two equal balls, sprinkle with a bit of flour and cover with a towel and let rest 15-20 minutes as you prepare the filling. You can also refrigerate the dough for up to 12 hours. (If you refrigerate the dough, let it sit at room temperature for about an hour for the dough to become pliable again before rolling it out).

2. To prepare the filling, gently toss the berries with sugar, lemon zest, corn starch, and lemon juice. Be gentle handling delicate berries such as raspberries so that they don't become mushy and lose their shape (I gently toss them just once with a wooden spatula). Let stand for 15 minutes as you roll out the dough.

3. Dust a piece of wax paper with a bit of flour; rub your rolling pin with flour so it doesn't stick to the dough. Take one dough ball and roll it out into a sheet about 1/8 inch thick or less. Invert it onto a pie pan. Add the berries with all the juices. Roll the other ball into a sheet and use it to either form a lattice top or use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make about 12 shapes to cover the pie with to make the pie like in the photograph.

4. Bake at 425ºF for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350ºF and bake for 30-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

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Tuna and Egg Salad Sandwich

Sunday, March 1, 2015

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For lunch in Manhattan there is no limit to food options. In fact, downtown where I work, lunch food is the only option (it becomes a ghost town after work and a lot of places that cater to the lunch crowd close before dinner time). I have tried most places in the area, from various lunch chains that have lines outside the door, to small independent shops, to a few classic delis where you can get a warm pastrami sandwich (no taylor egg on a roll, they might throw stuff at you). But after a few disappointments and to save money, I started bringing my own lunch.

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This recipe is similar to a typical deli style tuna salad (except it does not come from a metal tub where it's been living for long enough to acquire a crust). I added an egg, because I wanted both a tuna salad and an egg salad and couldn't choose.

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For other deli-sandwich type options (and if you don't want to mix tuna and eggs), check out our other version of the tuna salad, an egg salad, and a Norwegian shrimp salad.


Tuna and Egg Salad
(enough for 2-3 sandwiches)

You will need:
2 hardboiled eggs
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 can tuna, drained
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 1/4 lemon, or to taste
3 tbsp your choice of mayo, sour cream, or greek yogurt

Directions:
1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Carefully submerge the eggs and cook until hardboiled, about 10 minutes. Cool under cold water.
2. Peel and chop the eggs and place in a mixing bowl, add celery, tuna, scallion and dill and mix. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with lemon juice. Add mayo (or sour cream or yogurt, whichever using). Mix well to combine. Serve as is or on toasted bread with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.
 

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