Archives for category: Rhode Island

I miss the ocean.  Even though I live right on (literally) Lake Ontario, I miss the ocean.  The lake isn’t the same.  There aren’t any seafood shacks like Champlin’s or Iggy’s.  Every summer in Rhode Island, we order clam cakes, lobster rolls, whole lobsters with fresh drawn butter.  The meat of the lobster is so sweet and succulent.  I always tell my husband that I hate being “landlocked,” that I need to be living on a coastline.  As usual he rolls his eyes and ignores me.  Don’t worry, one day I’ll get my way and we’ll be close to the ocean.

Trying to appease me somewhat, my husband brought lobsters from Halifax after an interview at Dalhousie University.  (Not my first choice of places to live.)  Last year, he was in Cape Breton Island on an elective and did I give him an earful for not bringing back lobsters that time.  This time, I didn’t even mention anything about lobsters and he brought them.

The Rhode Islander in me immediately thought to make lobster ravioli.  Federal Hill, our Little Italy, is the place for lobster ravioli.  Venda Ravioli makes amazing lobster ravioli.  What I wouldn’t give for a heaping plate of those beautiful pillows of flavor right now.  Once when I was at home in Rhode Island, I went to Trader Joe’s and noticed they had some prepackaged lobster ravioli.  I decided to try it out and the guy at the checkout told me that he couldn’t believe how popular the lobster ravioli was in Rhode Island and that he worked in several Trader Joe’s throughout the US and never even noticed them before coming to Rhode Island.

A pasta dish is never complete without a side of bread and garlic and herb infused olive oil.

As much as I wanted to make lobster ravioli, I deemed it as too much work.   My husband brought whole lobsters, he wasn’t bright enough to just get me the meat.  One step at a time.  I had to clean the meat out of the shell, and after that messy ordeal, we were lucky I didn’t just melt some butter and have us eat the lobster plain (even though this way is delicious in its own right).  I decided go with the Federal Hill idea and simply make an egg pasta with lobster that you could find almost anywhere on Federal Hill.  We enjoyed it and it brought me back to my Rhode Island roots and the lobster meat tasted like the ocean, almost making me feel as though I was near the coast.

Federal Hill Style Lobster with Pasta

inspired and adapted from Food and Wine and Gourmet

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

2 1 1/2 pound lobsters, cooked, meat removed and cut into large chunks, and shells reserved

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced

1 bay leaf

3/4 teaspoon crushed red chilies, or to taste

5 canned plum tomatoes, crushed with your hands

1/2 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Vermouth, Pinot Grigio)

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

heavy cream, as much or as little as you like, I used 1/4 cup but you can go up to 1/2 cup

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 lemon cut into slices or wedges

1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped

sea salt, to taste

3/4 a 500 g box of De Cecco pappardelle, or any egg pasta of your choice, cooked to al dente, 1/2 cup cooking liquid reserved

Method

In a large sauté pan on medium heat, heat the oil and add the chopped shallot and let it soften for a minute or two.  Next, add in the garlic, bay leaf, and crushed red chilies, and allow them to infuse the oil for a minute.  Add in the shells (from the tails and claws) and sauté them for two minutes.  Add in the tomatoes and crush them further with a cooking spoon.  Season with salt.  Pour in the wine and 1 cup of water and let the liquid reduce by half, about 10-15 minutes

Once the liquid is reduced, turn the heat to low, and add the saffron and let it infuse into the broth for five minutes. After five minutes, pour in the cream and whisk it so that it does not curdle.  Let the cream reduce for two minutes.  Once the cream has reduced slightly put the cooked lobster meat into the pan and let it warm through for a few minutes.  Add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking liquid until the sauce reaches a consistency you like.

Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.  Sprinkle in the parsley and drop in the dab of butter and allow it to melt into the sauce.  Remove the bay leaf.  Next, toss in the cooked pasta and place the lemon wedges into the pasta for some brightness in color and flavor.  Drizzle with olive oil and use shells as a garnish, serve hot. You can also carb-load and serve some nice focaccia with olive oil on the side.

If anyone is interested, here’s an article on the “seafood shack” culture in Rhode Island.

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I do not document and write the recipe for all the things I make.  Though, on occasion I like to snap a few shots, just for the memory (if I did not forget my camera in some random place).  The memory of good times, good people, and of course good food.  If you know me at all, you know that I love making dips (gotta love the food processor), and I get a high off making appetizer platters consisting of cheese, and also to me, a table is incomplete without flowers.  I hope this set of pictures brightens your day and makes you hungry.

*The last few shots are from restaurants and I have noted their names as a caption on each picture.  I should take more pictures when we go out to eat but either, I forget my camera, or I get conscious that someone might tell me that photos are not allowed and I am sensitive, so that will bother me all night, hehe.

Appetizer at Buca in Toronto

Mushroom Pizza at Buca in Toronto--The best thing there!

Branzino at Buca in Toronto

Fruit Tart from Pastiche in Providence

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Raspberry Coulis from Pastiche in Providence (My husband's all-time favorite dessert.)

I have been on a cooking slump recently.  I am visiting my parents and have not been cooking at all.  Although, I have been buying local produce and dairy products to no end.  Where my husband and I live it is harder for me to source some things and being in Rhode Island I am almost like a kid in a candy store.  Not to say, where I live does not have local produce, but I have to put in a great deal of legwork and it is not as easy to find as it is in Rhode Island.

Here, in Rhode Island, I grab a million things out of excitement.  I must look psychotic, almost like Rachel Ray trying to maneuver all her stuff out of her pantry and fridge to her cooking area in one trip.  (Not to say she is psychotic, because I am sure she is not. But, she is definitely a little too perky.)

Back to me gathering all sorts of foodstuffs.  I tried Johnnycakes for the first time with my friend at a local diner called, The Liberty Elm.  This prompted me to pick up both white and yellow corn meal and try to make something like a Johnnycake, but with my own spin on it.  I absolutely love  the sweet and savory combination of jalapeno cornbread and wanted to jump from this idea.  I was soon sold on a recipe I found from Gourmet Magazine, one for Corn Cakes.  I worked from this and used my taste buds to get something exactly to my liking.   They turned out quite well and would be great in so many ways.  They would work as an appetizer, a side, a bottom layer for eggs, or beans, or cheese, or all of the above!  I am getting carried away with ideas, I will stop here and give you all the recipe!

Corn Cakes with Serranos, Herbs, and Queso Blanco

adapted from a Gourmet magazine recipe

1/2 cup white corn meal, I used Kenyon’s from RI

1/2 a cup yellow corn meal

1/2 a cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and more for pan-frying the cakes

1 large egg

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup thawed frozen corn, chopped

1/2 a small red onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced finely

1-2 serrano chilies, chopped (remove the seeds if you like)

handful of cilantro, roughly chopped

1 scallion, chopped

10 sprigs of chives, chopped

1 cup queso blanco or monterey jack, shredded

Garnish: sliced serranos, chives, and sour cream or crema

Mix together all the dry ingredients.  Set aside.  Combine the egg, buttermilk, and melted butter.  Add in the onion, garlic, serranos, cilantro, scallion, chives, corn, and the queso blanco.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.  Heat a griddle or frying pan with some butter on medium-medium high heat and drop 1/2 cup-fulls of batter into the pan.  Cook on each side for approximately 3 minutes per side.  Garnish with sliced serranos, chives, and sour cream or crema.

This is not really a food post.  All of my posts have been food-related but I thought it was time to do something a little different, sort of an ode to my childhood home.  It’s funny how you never notice things about the house you grew up in until you leave and return after a while.  I did not visit Rhode Island for 6 months, which is the longest I have gone without visiting my parents.  This time, I saw all the little details that I overlooked before.

I live in an apartment full of mostly new things, there’s very little character there because I know it’s not the home I will settle in forever. (I have “stolen” some pieces from my parent’s house, but shhhhh!)  My home in Rhode Island is full of artifacts (although, some could use a trip to the local dump) but others that are priceless and make my house unique.  I feel my childhood home is almost museum-esque.  Here are some little glances into my home.  Hope you enjoy them.