Lob-stah salad

During my (all too brief!) second stint on the East Coast, J and I took advantage of my proximity to Maine to take a short detour there after visiting some friends in Boston.  He regaled me with tales of his college/medical school travels, while I sat back and enjoyed the drive through New England’s lushly green roads.  We ended up grabbing a lobster lunch at Chauncey Creek, and it was wonderful!  Fresh, sweet lobster, a walk on the beach, the warm mugginess of summer – what a great memory of New England summer days from college.

I made this refreshing and light salad the other night for dinner after finding some lobster tails on sale at the grocer’s – my fishmonger is quite good, and I couldn’t resist them after wandering by after work.  American lobster, specifically Californian or Maine lobsters, are a great sustainable seafood choice.  It is also a great source of lean protein with a good dose of zinc and selenium.

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Lobster, Avocado, and Grapefruit Salad (serves 2, adapted from here)

Ingredients

  • 3 lobster tails
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped shallot
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 -2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pink or ruby-red grapefruit
  • 1 firm-ripe California avocado
  • 1 oz baby arugula (2 cups)
  • Coarse sea salt to taste (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Plunge lobster tails 8-quart pot of boiling salted water . Cook, covered, over high heat for about 6-7 minutes from time it enters water. Transfer with tongs into an ice bath.  When lobster is cool enough to handle, remove meat from tail, keeping meat intact. Chill lobster, covered, until cold.
  2. While lobster chills, stir together shallot, lemon juice, and table salt in a small bowl and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Add oil in a stream, whisking.
  3. Cut peel, including all white pith, from grapefruit with a sharp knife. Cut segments free from membranes and transfer segments to paper towels to drain.
  4. Halve avocado lengthwise, discarding pit. (Save 1 half, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for another use.) Halve remaining avocado half lengthwise and peel, then cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices.
  5. Cut lobster tail meat crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Divide avocado and all of lobster meat between 2 salad plates and arrange grapefruit around them. Top with arugula and drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt (if using) and serve immediately.
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Feeling green…

My brownstone apartment in NYC was south-facing, which meant that it was sunny and bright throughout the year, even during the short days of winter.  I took advantage of this to have my own little window sill garden in the city.  At one point, though, the herbs were more like a jungle – they liked the sun and plant food a little too much and I was too busy to prune them back.  Fortunately, my roommates didn’t seem to mind.

I just recently purchased a basil plant and was inspired to make an avocado based basil salad dressing, something akin to the dressing used for one of J’s favorite salads at Trader Joe’s – a chopped field greens salad with chicken, Israeli couscous, and a basil vinaigrette.

The avocado herb dressing is quite versatile, and can be adjusted to the preferred consistency – left a little thicker, it would be a great dip.  Made a little thinner w/ additional olive oil and/or lemon juice, it makes a luscious salad dressing that goes well with kale salads, radishes, and other bold greens.

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Avocado Herb Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup avocado, cubed
  • 3.5 oz Fage plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 large garlic clove clove, smashed
  • 2 tbl chopped scallions
  • 2 tbl chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup packed basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • ~2.5 tbl ponzu, or 1 tbl white wine vinegar + 1.5 tbl lemon juice
  • 4-5 tbl good olive oil
  • 1.5 tbl honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground pepper
  • red chili pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions:

Place all of the above ingredients in a food processor or small blender and process until smooth.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  If dressing is too thick, add water in small amounts to thin dressing to desired consistency.

Dress salad and enjoy!

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Let it be, let it be…

Since I have no formal culinary training and learned to cook by reading cookbooks or by watching and talking to my mother and grandmother, I have had to painfully work my way through many mistakes.  And I’m still learning!  There always seems to be some new ingredient, technique, or flavor profile to learn and explore.  I love making the kitchen my lifelong science experiment.

That said, one of the earlier lessons I had to learn was how to ‘let it be’ and let a protein properly sear.  Less is more.  So here’s to less poking, prodding, and moving around, in order to allow for a proper maillard reaction and the tasty results that ensue!  The seared protein will release on its own from a well-heated pan once it’s ready to be flipped.

For a quick weeknight dinner the other night, I made Seared Scallops with Avocado and Watermelon Radishes, inspired by this gorgeous recipe from Epicurious.

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Seared Scallops with Avocado and Watermelon Radish

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 small watermelon radishes, very thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon yuzu juice
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 sea scallops (about 1 pound), side muscles removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 avocado, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated grapefruit zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grapefruit juice
  • a few sprigs of cilantro, as garnish

Instructions:

  1. Toss daikon, vinegar, and yuzu juice in a medium bowl; season with salt.  Set aside.
  2. Pat scallops dry and season scallops with salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat until almost smoking. Add scallops and cook until seared and golden brown but still raw in the center, about 2 minutes per side; transfer to a plate. Let cool slightly, then slice each scallop crosswise into 2 rounds.
  3. Divide avocado among plates; drizzle with lemon juice and season with salt.
  4. Set scallops on avocado and drizzle grapefruit juice and oil over.  Top with grapefruit zest and season with salt to taste. Arrange reserved and drained watermelon radishes over and among the scallops.  Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.