Consider the lobster. I never new much about them, except that they are arthropods along with spiders and scorpions (thank you Biology 101). I thought eating lobsters meant splurging on a celebratory night out and praying that I got a decent chunk of meat from a cracked shell.
Fortunately, I had the pleasure of trekking around York and Portland Maine with FreshDirect on a lobstering trip. First things first: Maine is beautiful. Movie beautiful. Unreal beautiful. I felt like I was Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music traipsing through a field of flowers because that’s what I did. Note the image of an actual flower field in Maine that I actual ran through below:
Here are a few interesting facts that I learned about lobsters with FreshDirect:
Lobsters used to be so plentiful in the colonial era that people were sick of eating it. In fact, indentured servants in Massachusetts had it written in their contracts that their owners could only feed them lobster three times a week at most.
They were known as the “poor man’s protein.”
Excess lobsters are ground up and used as fertilizer. Fancy.
Lobsters were once so dirt cheap they were fed to prisoners daily.
When in closer quarters with others, lobsters can be quite cannibalistic.
They can regenerate limbs.
Maine takes great care to protect their lobsters. It’s not all about making a dollar – the lengths Maine’s lobstermen take to make sure the practice is sustainable and fair is amazing.
Lobsters are measured for legal size. Basically, it allows more females to carry more eggs and reproduce before reaching legal size (lobsters have to be at least 3¼” from the eye socket to the back of the carapace -the hard upper shell- where the tail joins the bod).
… and any lobster with a greater than 5” hard upper shell must be returned to the sea. This protects breeding lobsters.
Females carrying eggs must be returned to the sea. Lobstermen make a “v-notch” in the right flipper next to the middle flipper of a carrying female lobster and toss her back in the sea.
Digging into a seafood feast knowing that the Maine lobster industry was actually taking care to protect them from overfishing was certainly a cause for celebration – and made everything taste that much better.
Blue cheese can be quite intimidating. It is tinged with mold, after all. And the smell is a taste to be acquired. But this beautiful blue-green veined cheese, spotted with appealing color, has a wonderful tangy character, balanced by delicious sweet and salty flavors that are perfect sandwich between a grilled burger brimming with crunchy vegetables. If you are taken aback by blue cheese, definitely try is first in a meaty, juicy burger, like I did with a thick slice of mild, pleasantly sharp and sweet Castello Noble Blue.
I particularly love the marbling that blue cheese gives this sky high burger with chipotle mayo. It adds a bit of elegance to an otherwise cotidein food. If you’re looking to get extra fancy, pair this blue cheese decked burger with a semi-sweet or sweet wine like Cavernet, Zinfandel, Chardonnay or Sauvigon Blanc to complement the cheese’s salty taste.
Monster Blue Cheese Burger with Chipotle Mayo
For the blue cheese burger:
2 pounds grass fed beef
1 egg, beaten
2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp adobo powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
Toppings (sliced tomato, mesclun greens, red onion, etc.)
Sesame seed or brioche bun
For the mayonnaise:
3/4 cup organic mayonnaise
1-2 chipotles in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1/2 lime, juice (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Blue Cheese Burger:
Preheat grill for high heat.
In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, egg, Worcestershire sauce, adobo powder cayenne pepper, and garlic using your hands. Form the mixture into 8 hamburger patties.
Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill patties 5 minutes per side, or until well done.
Serve with bleu cheese, mesclun greens, tomatoes, red onions, pickles and chipotle mayo on a sesame seed bun.
Add all the ingredients to a food processor and puree. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
If you live in an urban city, outdoor grilling can be hard to come by. Most of us don’t have the luxury of space – backyards, patios or even a balcony to perch a grill on. But, that doesn’t mean grilling is out of the question!
You CAN cook without an open wire grid iron grill. Grilling is a cooking method that uses directly applied dry heat to food from above or below (when the heat comes from above, that’s broiling!). A branding cast iron skillet, grill pan or panini press can mimic directly applied ‘dry’ heat of a traditional, large grill.
Nothing is more simple – or delicious – than grilling Italian style. Using flavorful Italian ingredients – like brine-y capers, luscious crushed tomatoes, herbaceous pesto, and delightfully acidic vinegars – summer grilling a la Italiana is my summer go to. I love grilled chicken and pesto, so it was only so natural to put them together for an easy grilled chicken. I used roasted garlic olive oil for extra savory flavor and crushed capers for a flavorful bite.
My secret (not-so-secret anymore), easy to pull together dish is pasta salad. In about 20 minutes flat, I can have a large bowl of cooling pasta salad to feed a crowd, heaping with fresh veggies and tons of flavor. Instead of using bottled salad dressings, I like to make my own by using extra virgin olives oils, balsamic vinegars and (get this) crushed tomatoes. It’s like a secret serving of vegetables.
So once you’ve whipped up your grilled meal inside, take it outside and enjoy it like I did. Hello summer!
Caper Pesto Grilled Garlic Chicken
1 tablespoon Colavita Roasted Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Rachael Ray Salt form the sea grinder and Malabar black peppercorn grinder
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons Colavita capers
4 tablespoons Colavita pesto sauce
Heat oil in a large branding cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken in pan and cook until golden brown and “grill marks” appear, about 3-4 minutes each side.
Meanwhile, mash capers with a fork. Mix mashed capers with pesto sauce until thoroughly combined.
Serve chicken with pesto spooned over the top.
Crushed Tomato Pasta Salad with Grilled Artichoke Hearts
1 16 oz. box your favorite short-cut pasta, like penne or rotini
1 6 oz. jar of marinated artichoke hearts
1 plum tomato, cubed
1/2 of an avocado, cubed
1 box Cirio Italian Crushed Tomatoes with Basil
2 tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Colavita Balsamic Glace Original or White Balsamic Vinegar
Rachael Ray Salt form the sea grinder and Malabar black peppercorn grinder
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; cook pasta until tender or al dente (firm to the bite), about 8 minutes; drain and rinse under cool water. Set aside.
While the pasta boils, drain artichokes. Heat a branding cast iron skilled or grill pan over medium high heat; sear artichoke hearts until slightly blackened or char marks appear. Remove from heat.
Combine grilled artichokes, tomato, avocado, crushed tomatoes, olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Note: For a lighter colored pasta salad with a lighter flavor, use white balsamic vinegar. For a tinted pasta salad with stronger flavor, use original balsamic vinegar.
These sweet doughnuts are baked, not fried, and made with luscious tahini that gives these treats a creamier, nuttier taste and exotic flair. Eat these tahini-glazed doughnuts with a tall, cold glass of your favorite milk. Whether you choose to make classic sesame or chocolate tahini doughnuts (or both!), these cake-y sweets will go just as fast as you bake them.
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1/3 cup Soom Foods Chocolate Spread or plain Sesame Tahini
3 Tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup your favorite milk (almond, soy, cow, etc.)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 ½ Tbsp Soom Foods Chocolate Spread or plain Sesame Tahini
** This post is a paid article in collaboration with Castello Cheese. All opinions and recipes are my own. **
Gone are the days of chips left in cellophane bags and watered down beers or boxed wine. An elegant, yet easy wine and cheese party is within your reach. Here are some helpful hints to throwing a successful wine and cheese party in your twenties (and thirties, or forties…) on the fly.
Lately, I’ve been indulging (read: overloading) in “superfoods.” Lord knows what that means. Superfoods are multi-tasking disease fighting foods that have a very high level of antioxidants (they fight free radicals lurking in your bod that cause damage resulting in premature aging and chronic diseases like stroke, heart disease and cancer to name a few). But this is not one-goji-berry-fits-all type of panacea: In order to get the most out of superfoods, you must eat a variety of them from a wide range of sources. But you knew I was going to say that right? Because just eating ONE type of superfood would be too easy. Popular superfoods include berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.), dark leafy greens like KALE and my new favorites I am adding to my breakfasts: goji berries + cacao nibs.
NOTE: Cacao nibs are chocolate. BUT, they are not the chocolate you think they are. Sorry to crush your hopes and dreams, but if you think you are sprinkling a crumbled chocolate bar onto your cereal, smoothies, bowls, etc., you are going to be really disappointed. But now that the fantasy is over, let’s learn why you SHOULD eat them. Personally, I love the crunch they add to my Greek yogurt in the mornings (I am a crunch addict – please get that box of cereal, granola, whatever away from me. Thank you Cap’n) and the deep, full-bodied flavor is reminiscent of a good cup of coffee. They’ve got lots of magnesium and dietary fiber. The toasted almonds in my Superfood Greek Yogurt recipe also bump up the crunch factor while rounding out Greek yogurt’s tang with a nice nutty, aromatic flavor. And protein and good fats, duh.
Let’s talk about goji berries. Truthfully, I started eating them because Miranda Kerr does it. And there is nothing I won’t do that Miranda Kerr does (haha, just kidding, not really). They’re naturally sweet, chewy and have a tinge of a bitter after taste that doesn’t bother me one bit. Loaded with beta-carotene, goji berries also just make your morning breakfast that much prettier, and admit it, don’t you want to eat pretty?
If you are what you eat, then I would eat Miranda Kerr if I could get my hands on her.
SUPERFOOD GREEK YOGURT
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 TBS cacao nibs
1 TBS goji berries
1 TBS toasted chopped almonds
Scoop Greek yogurt into a bowl. Combine with remaining ingredients and serve immediately or make it look pretty and take food shots of it for your Instagram.
I love trolling the Internet for new recipes. I hate having to scroll through a million photos of food at slightly different angles and nonsensical text in blog posts to actually get to the recipe itself.
Here is the recipe.
PORCINI THYME MILLET WITH FRIED EGG
1/3 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 cup dry hulled millet
5 cloves peeled minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Place dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl filled with 2 cups hot water; set aside for 20 minutes.
Strain mushrooms through a fine sieve, reserving the mushroom water; pat mushrooms dry and chop.
Combine millet with the reserved mushroom water in a medium pot set to boil; once boiled, reduce heat to low for 15-20 minutes or until water is absorbed and grains have “sprouted”. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 10 minutes.
While the millet cooks, warm olive oil in a small skillet on medium heat. Add minced garlic, chopped mushrooms and thyme; sauté until the the mushrooms are soft and mixture fragrant, about 2-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Fluff millet with a fork and mix in mushroom mixture.
Fry eggs using the leftover oil residue used to sauté the mushrooms; top mushroom millet with fried eggs and salt and pepper to taste.
Note: To make this dish even more decadent, I used truffled salt to add a sprinkle of richness.