Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lobster Mac and Cheese


I'm pretty sure the thing I miss the most about living in New England is the seafood.  The ability to go to the grocery store, grab a lobster or some fish without spending a week's grocery budget (or fearing digestive disaster) is a luxury I took for granted growing up in Massachusetts.  Now, when I'm back home, I take any advantage to enjoy all the seafood there is to offer.


We had my little cousins over for dinner on my last night home and decided to make mac and cheese.  Of course, this meant I had to get some lobster in there.  It was the right thing to do.  It's the bacon of the ocean, after all.


I was mostly inspired to eat lobster because of my camp friend.  She grew up a pescatarian, so she's never had meat or poultry at all.  For Thanksgiving, her family has lobster and oysters.  How amazing is that?  I am not a turkey person so I'd take lobster and oyster Thanksgiving over the traditional any day!


By the way, why does anyone still eat mac and cheese out of the box?  I mean it serves its purpose, and sometimes I crave it, but man it does not COMPARE to homemade mac and cheese. Sure, it's more expensive to make it from scratch, but it's easy to do and the taste is night and day.  This is the serious comfort food I need in the middle of winter.  Plus you can change it up in so many different ways - using different kinds of cheese or any mix in from lobster to bacon to pumpkin.  It's a versatile dish that guests of all ages love.


Oh right, the recipe. I don't think I even need to tell you how good this was.  My little cousins scarfed it down despite being sometimes-picky eaters (we conveniently didn't tell them there was lobster in it) and I couldn't resist taking a second helping.  We doubled the recipe and used meat from 2 small-ish lobsters and I'm not sure how many ounces it actually was, but I'd use more next time.  I'm sure it was way less than 24 oz though so I think you'll be OK using the recipe as is below.  I might need to go home soon so I can make some more!


Lobster Mac and Cheese
from Annie's Eats

8 oz. pasta (I used cavatappi)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
6 oz. fontina cheese, shredded or finely diced
4 oz. white cheddar cheese, shredded
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
Dash grated nutmeg
12 oz. cooked lobster meat, cut into ½-inch chunks (claws and tail)
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
Minced fresh chives, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.
2. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish with butter.
3. Bring a pot of water to boil. Cook the pasta for about 2 minutes less than the package directions say is "al dente". Drain well into a large colander.
4. While the pasta is in the colander, return the pot to the medium heat. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in the pot. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until light golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.
5. Slowly whisk in the milk in small additions until completely added and no lumps of flour remain. Stir in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Continue to heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce bubbles and thickens, about 5 minutes.
6. Once bubbling, cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly, scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent burning. Remove the pan from the heat.
7. Stir in the cheese one handful at at time and mix until completely melted.
8. Return the pasta to the pot and mix to coat well with the cheese sauce. Gently fold in the lobster meat. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
9. In a small bowl, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the microwave. Stir in the Panko and toss until the crumbs are evenly coated. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the pasta in the baking dish.
10. Bake uncovered for about 20-25 minutes or until the top is browned and the cheese is bubbling. Serve warm topped with fresh minced chives, if desired.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Favorites

Maple Pecan Bars

I know my posts have been a bit scarce lately.  When work gets really busy, I end up working late, getting home late, and by the time we're done with dinner I'm too exhausted to write up posts.  Hopefully things will calm down a bit more soon and I'll be able to share recipes again!

In the meantime, I wanted to share a few links to some of my favorite recipes for Thanksgiving:
Mom's Stuffed Mushrooms
Buttery Cloverleaf Rolls
Yankee Maple Cornbread
Tourtière (French Canadian Meat Pie)
Lentil Pot Pie
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Dried Cherries and Israeli Couscous
Cinnamon Maple Applesauce
Sweet Potato Bread Pudding (from Baking Bites)
Maple Pecan Bars
Mint Chocolate Polka Dot Cookies
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie (from She Wears Many Hats)

We started out our Thanksgiving early this year with a Friendsgiving on Saturday.  My friend made one of the best turkeys I've ever had! (And I am NOT a turkey person!)  The simple tips I gave her were 1) UNDERcook, not over cook, since it will keep cooking under the foil while it rests, and 2) Use something to keep it covered in the oven. I've used a turkey bag before but foil works well too, but then uncover at the end to crisp up the skin.

I'm also not into stuffing my bird - I prefer to fill it with citrus and herbs. That way I don't have to worry about cooking the stuffing to 165 to kill bacteria (and in turn overcooking my bird!).  The Monkey Scientist's family stuffs their bird with White Castle burgers.  What do you do?

I hope everyone has a wonderful turkey day.  This is a great time to remind everyone in your life just how thankful you are for them!  Enjoy!

Butter Clover Rolls

Monday, November 5, 2012



I should start this by saying, I fully stand behind the idea that people from the East Coast live in a bubble.  Growing up in New England, everything between Pennsylvania and California is a big jumbled mess in my head.  Even after years of now living in the Midwest.  The Monkey Scientist constantly makes fun of me when I mix up Iowa and Idaho (you think living one state away that I'd get it, but it's still a frequent flip flop in my head) or when I try to think about how far West certain states are.  Once you get to the South, I have no idea what falls on which side of Texas.  Including Louisiana, and I've driven there.  It's pretty embarrassing.

Ingredients for Avgolemono soup

Before I went to Michigan for undergrad, I thought it was about a bajillion miles from Boston.  Once I'm in Michigan, I'll be able to take road trips to California, right?  And I for sure thought it was about two times zones over when it turns out it's totally in the same time zone.  And I know I'm not the only one from the East Coast who thinks that.  The first time my mom and I went out there to look at U of M, we thought it was a good idea to "go check out Detroit" and so we went to a Coney Island in Greektown (which is amazing by the way) and I first tried this amazing soup.  Avgolemono.  Even the name is fancy.  And I fell in love.

And then we subsequently drove three hours in the wrong direction into Canada.  Who knew that actual Canada was ever that far South? We thought it was just a city named Canada! (

Avgolemono from This Is a Cookbook


I have been trying to replicate this recipe for a long time but without much success.  I recently bought a new cookbook called "This is a Cookbook" after reading about it in the NY Times.  I'm not a big cookbook buyer (the ever growing blog roll in my Google Reader gives me more recipes than I could ever make) but this book spoke to me.  It's exactly how I love to cook. SIMPLE. Short ingredient lists. Lots of low and slow cooking to develop flavor. A little bit of Asian food.  Plus there was a recipe for Avgolemono. AND it's based on the Avgolemono from Coney Islands in Detroit.  I knew I had a winner.


And it's everything I hoped it would be.  The ingredient list is so simple.  Nothing fancy here at all.  Chicken broth, a whole chicken, white rice, lemon juice, egg yolks, salt and pepper.  It's exactly what needs to be there and nothing more.  It's sour and lemony but hearty and warming at the same time.  There's nothing quite like it.  If you're missing Detroit, or you just love a REALLY good soup, you should make this.  Unless you're feeding my dad or brother or some other crazy person who hates lemon.  Then you're on your own.


Avgolemono Soup
slightly adjusted from This is a Cookbook

six cans (87 oz) high quality, low sodium chicken broth (or make your own)
1 4-lb whole chicken (neck and things removed and saved for stock)
1 3/4 c white rice
4 egg yolks
juice from 4 lemons
salt and pepper

1. Add the broth and chicken to a large pot.  Cover partially and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer 30 minutes.
2. After 30 minutes, skim the fat from the top of the broth and flip the chicken over.  Cover partially again and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
3. Remove the pot from the heat.  Remove the chicken and set aside to cool on a large plate.  Add the rice to the pot and bring it back up to a simmer.  Cover and allow to cook for 20 minutes.
4. Once the chicken is cool enough to touch, remove and discard the skin.  Remove all the meat from the bones and shred.  (Save the bones for stock!)  After the rice is cooked, add the chicken back into the pot. Remove from heat.
5. Whisk the egg yolks in a heat proof bowl.  While whisking continuously, slowly add 1/2 c ladles of soup to the yolks to temper (prevent curdling) until they are close in temperature to the soup.
6. Add the egg/broth mixture back into the pot, along with the lemon juice. (Do not turn on the heat!)  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.