Secret of Lobster Recipes

When the first ships arrived at Plymouth, most shellfish was not considered fit for human consumption, due in no small part to its resemblance to an insect as it crawled along the ocean bottom. Most early passengers during the 1600s were from England and other U.K. countries and accustomed to eating beef, mutton and fowl. What they did consume from the ocean was usually fish, in the form of cod, haddock and sole. Abundant lobster was fed to servants and domestic animals (there must have been a lot of happy cats). Native Americans used it for fertilizer. Just picture thousands of these spiny creatures as they were washed up on the shores of the Cape, where anyone could fill a bucket for free. (Are you drooling yet?)

Even though canneries began to pop up along the Eastern Seaboard two centuries later, lobster was not a desirable item on the dinner menu, but regarded as a cheap and nutritious protein for the poor and for prisoners, much like canned tuna was on the West Coast. You can be sure that foodie Thomas Jefferson never allowed the lowly lobster to darken the door of his kitchen. Keep in mind that Americans were still clinging to their native British diet, which was primarily meat-based. Shellfish were foreign to them and not widely eaten in any form.

Slowly lobster became more accepted, especially with railroad travel during the 19th century, when passengers moving cross country were unfamiliar with the succulent white meat and could be fed for pennies in the dining cars. And as wealthy vacationers flocked to Cape Code each summer, lobster was discovered and embraced, creating a surge in popularity and in price.

During the 1920s lobster prices really began to soar, only to plummet during the Great Depression when few could afford it. Due to no shortage, lobster was not rationed during WWII and thus became a delicacy among the more affluent. Shortly thereafter, fine restaurants featured it on their menus, and cookbooks praised its savory possibilities. By the 1950s, lobster had firmly positioned itself as a luxury food, just below caviar, and prices responded accordingly.There are many different species of lobster, from the prized Maine lobster, which commands the highest prices, to the smaller lobster of Mexico called langostino. Americans value the highly prized Maine lobster tail with drawn butter above all else.

Currently, business is booming. Last year, New England fishermen unloaded more than 130 million pounds, which adds up to approximately 534 million dollars. (Think of the butter required.) And that’s just U.S. figures. Our Canadian neighbors to the north also enjoy a prosperous lobster business, with much of their bounty exported to Asia. Current prices for the Maine variety, which are considered more desirable than Canadian cousins, hover around 9 to 11 dollars per pound at wholesale. Langostino lobster, which is common in the Southwest and Mexico, is not really lobster at all but another species of crab. It is sold by some fast food restaurants, featured at food stands and eateries south of the border and costs considerably less than American lobster.

So there you have it. A real rags to riches saga. Lobster thermidor, lobster mac and cheese, lobster rolls, lobster salad, New England clam bakes, bisque and just plain old outrageously delicious Maine lobster. Pity anyone allergic to shellfish, because lobster ranks right up there on the taste scale, and lobster fans pay dearly for their favorite food. Clearly, there is no end in sight.

How To Make Great Sandwich

Every day, half of America eats one or more sandwiches, mostly for lunch. That computes into 300 million a day. They’re easy, they’re filling, no muss, no fuss. And you don’t even have to know how to cook. The varieties are endless, so where do we start? The short list includes the BLT, Grilled Cheese, Club, Dagwood, French Dip, Monte Cristo, Muffuletta, Pastrami or Corned Beef on rye, PB&J, Cheesesteak, Po’ boy, Reuben, Sloppy Joe, Submarine, Fried Egg. It’s endless.

The British first referred to “bits of cold meat” as a “sandwich,” named after John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, who was an eighteenth-century aristocrat. Legend has it that he instructed his servant to bring him some meat between two pieces of bread while he was playing cards with his cronies. Apparently he could play uninterrupted, as the bread acted as a napkin (rather than his sleeve) and kept the card table tidy. His cronies caught on and followed his lead. What was in them we’ll never know, but what a beginning (the Earl will never know).

Let’s check out these favorites:

1) Elvis immortalized the fried peanut butter and banana sandwich, although there’s not a big call for the.

2) Dagwood, named after comic strip Blondie’s husband, stacks up fillings and bread, impossible to eat except in sections, but somehow Dagwood Bumstead managed.

3) The French originated this sinful sandwich in a Parisian cafe in 1910; there is no one named Monte Cristo but simply a French term (Croque Monsieur) to describe a fried sandwich of ham and cheese, not on any weight loss program to be sure.

4) Sloppy Joe: kids grew up on these tangy and messy sandwiches. Its origin dates back to the 1930s and was created by a short order cook named Joe in Sioux City, Iowa. Originally called a “loose meat sandwich” it seems Joe added tomato sauce which cranked it up a notch; as its popularity grew, Joe wanted to get credit and renamed it after himself. Folks in Key West Florida insist it was dreamed up at a local bar called Sloppy Joe’s. Some historians want to give Cuba the credit, but let’s just give it to Iowa, okay?

5) Submarine: sub sandwich shops seem to multiply daily with no end in sight; also known as hoagies, heroes or grinders in the U.S. with a multitude of fillings, they come in foot long and smaller sizes, perfect for Sunday afternoon TV sports or a quick lunch.

6) Club: undeniably the grande dame of sandwiches. Historians track its creation to the Saratoga Club House, an exclusive gambling joint in Saratoga Springs, New York. Since its inception in 1894, the standard ingredients haven’t changed: toasted bread, lettuce, tomato, sliced turkey or chicken, bacon,and mayonnaise, and don’t forget the toothpicks. The BLT is a first cousin to its predecessor, without the turkey/chicken or third slice of toast. The Club has stood the test of time. Its only controversy is the turkey/chicken debate. (World-class chef James Beard insists on chicken.)

7) If you’re a New Orleans resident, the sandwich of choice is the Muffuletta, whose popularity is claimed by the Central Grocery where it got its start. A large round loaf of Sicilian sesame bread is loaded with Italian sliced meats and a spicy Creole olive salad. (If you don’t live in New Orleans, you’re on your own.)

8) Peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese, both beloved no-brainers. ‘Nuff said.

9) Reubens and pastrami or corned beef on rye take top billing at any self-respecting deli, especially Jewish. Slather on some mustard, add a few Kosher dill pickles and you’re in business. For a Reuben, throw in some sauerkraut and thousand island

dressing.

10) Those Louisiana folk sure love their originals. The Po’ Boy is basically a sub filled with meat or fried seafood, similar to the Northeast’s lobster roll.

11) Oh boy, don’t ask anyone from Philadelphia about Philly cheesesteaks, because they are fanatical about them. Be prepared for a long-winded answer. The same goes for Chicago’s most popular sandwich, the Italian Beef: Italian bread loaded with thinly sliced beef, topped with peppers and dripping with jus, hold the cheese; all-American French dip (in spite of its name) is a take-off, but rather bland by comparison.

12) Can’t leave out those wonderful “bound” fillings: egg salad, ham salad, chicken salad and tuna salad; we corner the market on those, whether they’re daintily served at teas and parties or just a big old scoop on whole wheat.

12) Pita sandwiches crammed full of turkey, cheese, avocado, hummus or falafel; a trendy ethnic take on the basics.

13) Hamburgers and chicken fast food sandwiches are a whole other subject.

Sandwich sales in the U.S. topped $27.7 billion and that’s not counting the sandwiches made at home. Wow, that’s a lotta bread, literally. Apparently, the U.S. is not the only country that likes their sandwiches. In 2017, the pre-made sandwich industry in the UK made and sold 11 billion in U.S. dollars, and that’s not counting freshly made.

We’re not even going to get started on sandwich cookies (Oreos) and ice cream sandwiches. It’s too exhausting. So many sandwiches, so little time.

All About Barbecue Recipes

Okay, so here’s the deal. What kind of meat, what kind of sauce, what method of cooking, what type of wood or heat, and how is it served. A lot to consider. And one thing is for sure–we’re not talking a backyard Weber grill here, folks. This is serious business, so let’s get to it.

In the South, especially North Carolina, the most popular outdoor version is the “pig pickin’.” Named after the Cajun phrase cochon de lait, traditional Southern barbecue grew out of these gatherings, which entailed an entire hog roasted for hours, then letting guests pick their own meat off the finished product (hence the phrase “going whole hog”).

But every region has its own version, usually pork, and the sauce is what makes the difference. In North Carolina, the three varieties of sauces include vinegar-based in the east, tomato-vinegar, sometimes mustard, in the central state and a heavier tomato-based sauce in western NC. The city of Lexington, just northeast of Charlotte, proclaims itself to be the “Barbecue Capital of the World,” boasting one BBQ restaurant per 1000 people (talk about going whole hog). And throughout the South, the meat is more likely to be served on a plate, accompanied by hush puppies, coleslaw and baked beans, not in a bun smothered with ketchup (in some places considered a capital crime). When ordered, it’s simply called Q and the sides are a given. (In Texas you might get a thick piece of toast, but that’s another story.)

According to South Carolinians, only in their state will you find all four “official” sauces: mustard-based, vinegar-based, light or heavy tomato based. To the west, Memphis barbecue favors tomato- and vinegar-based sauces, and in some restaurants (or more likely BBQ shacks) the meat is rubbed with a mixture of dry seasonings before smoking over wood. Don’t even think about charcoal briquettes, considered a misdemeanor at the very least.The dry rub ingredients are a closely guarded secret, setting them apart from the guy down the street. There may not even be a sauce basted over the meat, but simply served on the side.

Moving right along, in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee barbecue is usually pork, basted with a sweet red sauce. Some rebels even dare to use a mayo-based sauce with vinegar, mostly on chicken (which is not really considered a true barbecue, anyway.) A popular item in North Carolina and Memphis is the pulled pork sandwich served on a bun and often topped with coleslaw. Pulled pork is prepared by shredding the pork after it has been barbecued, then piled high.

In the Midwest, we’re talking Kansas City-style, characterized by using different types of meat, which might be pulled pork or ribs, smoked sausage, beef brisket or ribs, smoked/grilled chicken, smoked turkey, and sometimes fish. Whew. They don’t leave anything to chance, but remember, KC is a major meat packing city, no vegetarians allowed. Hickory wood delivers the best flavor and the sauce of choice is tomato-based, spicy or mild. No hush puppies–remember you’re in the Midwest. And in Chicago, when they’re not wolfing down Italian beef sandwiches, hot dogs or pizza, they like to season the meat with a dry rub, sear it on a hot grill, then cook it slowly in a special oven. The meat, typically ribs, is then finished with a sweet and tangy red sauce. Not to worry, they won’t have you arrested if you order it on a bun (just no ketchup, understand?). Side dishes can be cooked greens, mac and cheese and sweet potatoes. Since many BBQ places are located on the South Side, they often comprise the main ticket item at soul food restaurants.

The state of Kentucky just has to be different, making mutton their meat of choice. In Maryland, beef is the ticket and it’s grilled over a high heat, served rare with horseradish. Hardly even qualifies as barbecue, so why are we spending any time on this?

Don’t mess with Texas, especially when it comes to BBQ. The bigger the better, and the Lone Star state takes no prisoners when it comes to their version (there ain’t no other version, pardner.) This tradition runs deep, and king-sized barbecues, thanks in no small part to the number of famous politicians who have hosted them over the years, try to diminish their Northern wannabes by claiming the best darn barbecue in the world. The emphasis is on the meat itself, not a sauce. Usually “Texas-style” means “Central Texas-style” and that spells b-e-e-f. Brisket is cooked over indirect heat, low and slow. They favor mesquite wood or a combo of hickory and oak, then served up on plates with potato salad, beans, slaw and a big ole slice of Texas toast. This is serious eatin’, y’all.

And there you have it. Exhausting, all these details and variations. Who’s hungry? What will you choose and where? So much barbecue, so little time.

Potatoes And Yams Recipes

Sitting here at my desk my mind ventured back to last years thanksgiving dinner. My wife Pam was in the kitchen preparing a feast for our dinner and what a feast it was. We had turkey complete with stuffing, a ham, vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, potato and macaroni salads, the usual cranberry sauce and of course sweet potatoes. No major holiday meal was ever complete without sweet potatoes on the table.

These memories made me think about the differences which exist between the two similar vegetables.There is always a bit of confusion between these two items and in this short rant I intend to hopeful dispel the myths surrounding this rooted vegetable. The truth of the matter is that the vegetable that you have called a yam for a number of years is actually nothing more or less than a sweet potato. A true yam most people have never seen nor tasted.

That’s right folks; the sweet, orange-colored root vegetable which you cherish so dearly is actually a variety of sweet potato. All “yams” which you find in a grocery store or produce market are in fact not yams at all. The majority of people wrongly believe that those long, red-skinned products in the store are yams, but the fact remains that they are nothing more than one of many varieties of our common sweet potatoes. One wonders how we came to be so confused and wrong on this fine vegetable. To answer this question we would first need to discover the main differences which exist between the two products.

A yam is darker in colored than the its popular orange-fleshed cousin. A true yam is an edible root which is extremely starchy and is usually imported to the United States from the Caribbean. In texture it is rough and scaly and contains very little beta carotene.

Depending on the sweet potatoes variety its flesh can range from a pure white to the popular orange color or in some cases even a purple shade. The orange-fleshed variety arrived in the United States multiple decades ago. In an effort to promote the imported variety and to distinguish it from the white variety, producers and importers labeled the imports with an African word “nyami” and thus called them “yams” for short.