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Sunday, August 21, 2011

A trip to New England

One of my many birthday presents this week was a culinary trip to one of my favorite places-New England.  When our girls were younger, we would take trips to New Hampshire and Maine every summer.  It was fabulous! Lake Winnepasaukee, the White Mountains and, of course, Tamarack Drive In in Laconia, New Hampshire would make for a cool respite from the hot, humid summers of the South.  Other years, we would take a drive to Bar Harbor, Maine or a ferry to Nova Scotia to experience the crisp coastal feel of the Northeast. It's been a while since we have had a vacation in those lovely places, but my husband transported me there on Friday evening with lobster rolls and whoopie pies. It was a taste of heaven!

It was 98 degrees with a heat index of the flames of hell that evening, so the only clothing choice that made sense was a pair of white walking shorts, a breezy t-strap tribal tank from Urban Outfitters, and a pair of snakeskin wedges. 

Admittedly, not my most inspired outfit, but weather and family appropriate for a night of great food and a fierce game of descending spades!

Thomas and the girls kept the menu under wraps until the very last moment.  They were determined to keep it a surprise.  Amazingly, they were able to-right up until the UPS man delivered a styrofoam cooler.  Needless to say, my curious mind started going into overdrive, and then I saw the buns.  Now, picture an ecstatic me dancing deliriously about the kitchen at the prospect of lobster rolls.

Thomas knew that neither he nor the girls would be okay with actually doing the deed of cooking a live lobster even if they could have found good quality ones here in Alabama.  Plus, Thomas wanted to get both quality and know that he had purchased responsibly. So, he ordered the lobster meat fresh prepared and overnighted from a fisherman's co-op called Lobster  No middleman, just you and the guys who do the catching.

The result? The sweetest lobster I've tasted outside of New England.  

 For those of you who haven't had the opportunity to enjoy a Lobster Roll, let me clue you in on the lusciousness.  It's a basic seafood salad-like crab or shrimp salad-but with lobster.  LOBSTER! Served on a toasted, buttered bun with a bit of romaine.  Simple, yes.  But, oh, so delicious!

Lobster roll recipe

2 cups chopped lobster meat
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 finely chopped scallions
1 stalk celery, finely diced

1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp paprika
3 traditional split hot dog buns
2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup shredded Iceberg or Romaine lettuce

1. In a small mixing bowl combine the lobster meat with the mayonnaise, half the scallions, celery, lemon juice, half the paprika and some salt. Let the mixture sit on the counter for 10 minutes while you toast the buns.
2. To toast the hot dog buns, butter the outside of each bun liberally. Heat a dry skillet to medium-high heat and toast the buns on both sides until golden brown.
3. Once toasted, divide the lettuce between the buns. Top the lettuce with the lobster salad. Sprinkle each roll with the remaining paprika and scallions. Serve warm or room temperature with a lemon wedge.

Nope, that's not a homemade Oreo.  It's something far, far better.  Not too sweet, not too creamy, it's a handful of goodness called a Whoopie Pie.  The cookie is soft and the filling is NOT frosting.  Thomas found this recipe from a blog called Omnomicon, and this is her recipe.  Oh, so lovely!

Mom’s Famous Whoopie Pies
makes about 14 after batter & cookie sampling
brought to you by very fortunate family ties.

1/4 c Crisco2 c flour
1 c milk1/4 c + 1 tbsp cocoa
1 c sugar1.5 tsp baking soda
1 egg1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Drop by the small tablespoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet—a tablespoon-sized bakery scoop works best. Bake exactly 8 minutes at 375o, see if a toothpick comes out clean, and if it doesn’t, bake another 2 minutes (10 total). Upon extraction from the oven, remove from pan immediately to wire rack to cool.

And now the creme filling (reminder: it’s not frosting, guys)

1/2 c margarine or butter (room temp is best)
1/2 c Crisco (my mother is insistent that this MUST be Crisco and CANNOT be generic shortening, nor substituted in any way . . . but if you do get it to work with a substitution, please let me know!)
1 c sugar
1 tbsp  flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c warm whole milk (20 seconds in the microwave should do it)

Beat with a mixer (stand or hand, your choice) for-freakin-ever. It will start out just like, well, lumps of Crisco floating in milk, then bits will get smaller and smaller, then it’ll slosh around for a little bit, and, much like the butter making process, you’ll be wondering if this will ever become anything or if you maybe messed it up somehow. Suddenly, about five minutes later, your mix will look weird for a second, and within moments your slushy mess will turn into a glorious white creme, smooth and perfect in a way rarely seen outside the confines of uber-processed food with chemicals you can’t pronounce that are not even available to the consumer in their pure form.


As soon as the whoopie cookies are cool, match each whoopie with its closest brother in size—even if yours didn’t all come out the same size, evenly matched whoopies will look much much nicer. Spread some filling on the flat side of one, then place the second on top. Repeat. This does not need to be done immediately before serving, as the filling tends to maintain its consistency surprisingly well, and some (like my mom) would argue that a day-old whoopie pie is even better than fresh. I like them all.
No need to refrigerate, sealed plastic or plastic wrap will keep them fresh.
. . . and that’s it. Congratulations! You just made the best whoopie pies known to man.

Cheers, my lovelies, cheers!


  1. You wanna just come to Turkey with me and eat!!! Oh, it would be sooo fun! - These all look so great!!! I am not a lobster fan, but that sounds fabulous!

  2. You have a deal, Pam! We will eat, drink and be merry!