Traditional Lobster Rolls

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We had what a friend referred to as traditional lobster rolls last night. Buttered grilled hot dog buns holding freshly shelled lobster meat, with a touch of finely diced celery, lightly dressed with mayonnaise. Shredded lettuce serving as a base.

So many recipes for lobster salad abound. Some add spices. Others insist on the addition of tarragon or dill or lemon zest and juice. But, as with most things, simple is often best.

It adds to the pleasure when the traditional rolls are eaten outside on a balmy Cape evening in the happy company of close friends.

 

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Cape Cod Musings

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Yes, it’s the sunset
weaving a burning path
over the water.
Yes, it’s the heavy scent
of sea and salt in the air.
But, most of all, it’s the wind.
The wind that bends
the scrub pine and sea grass
and rattles the shutters
and blows the curtains inward
that reminds us we are
but a solitary bit of sandy soil 
jutting out into the ocean.

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Pickle Juice Brine

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An article about brining chicken tenders in the leftover brine from a jar of dill pickles caught my eye on Facebook. The original recipe was posted by Skinnytaste. My adapted version, while true to the basic concept of the original, is not as low in calories or fat. But it’s really simple, and very good!

Method:

1. The morning before the evening you plan to cook this dish, put chicken tenders in a glass bowl and cover them with the leftover brine from a finished jar of dill pickles. Cover and put in the refrigerator.
2. At dinner time, drain off the brine and blot the chicken dry with paper towels.
3. Dip the tenders in an egg wash and coat with a mixture of seasoned crumbs and seasoned panko. Put them in the refrigerator to set while you preheat the oven.
4. Preheat oven to 425. Spread some olive oil on a half sheet pan. Place the chicken tenders on the pan. Turn them over to lightly coat both sides with oil.
5. Bake for about 10 minutes until the bottoms are crispy and browned. Turn them over and bake for another 5-6 minutes until golden brown.

The taste of the brine really comes through. And the fact that you can use something that normally gets thrown away is a bonus.

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Middle Eastern Inspired

Lentils and rice are an inspired combination. I’ve been intrigued by a recipe in the cookbook, Jerusalem, for a while now, but have been put off by the inclusion of cumin and coriander, two of my least favorite spices. Then it occurred to me that I could combine the lentils and basmati rice as a base, and use spices or herbs of my own choosing. Total winner!

Then there was a recipe in Ottolenghi’s Plenty that included a buttermilk and Greek yogurt sauce. The recipe itself was a bit more complicated than I wanted to deal with, but the sauce was simple and looked like it would be great over roasted vegetables. It was!

A sprinkle of dukkah ( an increasingly popular Egyptian blend of toasted nuts, seeds and spices) over the lentils and rice and/or the roasted vegetables and yogurt sauce elevates either dish. Fresh thyme leaves add a finishing touch.

Lentils and Rice

1/2 cup green or brown lentils ( I used brown)
1 cup basmati rice
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, red pepper flakes, olive oil
dukkah and fresh thyme leaves (optional)
2 cups chicken broth (or water.)

1. Pour boiling water over the lentils and let sit for at least 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Rinse the rice until water runs clear. Drain and set aside.
3. Saute the diced onion in about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic once the onion starts to soften. Season with salt, pepper, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and dried thyme.
4. Once the onion has softened, add the lentils to the pan. Stir to coat with the onions and oil. Then add the rice. Stir to coat the rice as well.
5. At this point, I transferred the mixture to my rice cooker; added 2 cups of broth and set the timer for white rice. Without a rice cooker, add the broth, bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
6. Serve sprinkled with dukkah and/or fresh thyme leaves.

Buttermilk and Greek Yogurt Sauce

9 TBS buttermilk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2 TBS olive oil
1 garlic clove, smashed and finely minced
salt to taste

1. Whisk ingredients together. Chill until ready to use.
2. Drizzle over roasted vegetables. I used zucchini and eggplant. Sprinkle with dukkah and/or fresh thyme leaves.
3. Also good drizzled over the lentils and rice.

We had the above recipes as side dishes to roast chicken. I was so happy with the sides that I set the chicken aside for lunch the next day. Frank liked the sauce so much that he put it on the chicken as well.

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Summer

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Blue sky.
Soft sand.
Clear water.
It may not
be everything.
But it’s enough
for now.

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Sam’s Silent World

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Sam is deaf. The vet questioned this when I mentioned that Sam howled occasionally during the day and often at night. 4:30 AM being his time of choice. His question puzzled me at the time. What did howling have to do with lack of hearing?

Then there was my first clue. Sam has had a life long fear and loathing of the sound of the vacuum. I was vacuuming Frank’s office before I realized that Sam was sitting in his usual spot on the back of the couch. He just looked at me and yawned instead of making a mad dash for the door.

This morning, I walked into the bathroom without turning on the light. Sam was drinking out of the toilet. Don’t ask why. He has his own dish of clean water, but he prefers the toilet or Daisy’s water dish. It’s another one of his quirks. My approach startled him. It was so obvious that he hadn’t heard me that I’ve accepted the fact of his deafness.

Perhaps it’s one of the reasons that he sticks so close to Daisy. She may be helping him navigate his silent world. At least, she appears to be a source of comfort to him. From what I’ve read, deafness is a relatively common result of aging in cats. It’s particularly dangerous for cats who go outside because they can’t hear signs of danger. Fortunately, Sam has always been an indoor cat. His surroundings are safe, and he’s well cared for.

And he has his buddy, Daisy, by his side.

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Buttermilk, Rosemary Chicken

A twenty-four hour soak in garlic and rosemary infused buttermilk does wonderful things for chicken. You end up with tender, flavorful meat that’s ready to be fried, flash fried and finished in the oven, or grilled.

Method: (Lots of variations)

1. The day before you plan to cook the chicken, remove the skin and any excess fat from 6 bone-in chicken thighs. Season with salt and pepper. Put them in a glass bowl.
2. Combine a cup of buttermilk, 2-3 smashed cloves of garlic (depending on size) and a couple of teaspoons of chopped fresh rosemary. Pour over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for twenty-four hours.
3. When you’re ready to cook the chicken: Remove the chicken from the buttermilk mixture. Dip each piece in panko crumbs. Press the panko onto the chicken to make sure that it sticks. Fry in an inch or so of hot oil to lightly brown the crumbs. Transfer to a rack set over a parchment lined half sheet pan. Roast in a 375 oven for approximately 40 minutes. Instant read thermometer should read 170 for dark meat. Or juices should run clear when pierced with the tip of a knife near the bone.
4. Cover lightly with foil for a few minutes before serving.

Variations:

1. Leave the skin on the bone-in thighs.
2. Use boneless thighs.
3. Use flour instead of panko.
4. Fresh thyme or tarragon instead of rosemary.
5. Skip the panko or flour coating. Blot the excess buttermilk and bake or grill.

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