Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sensational Seafood Chowder and Lobster

I've been to Nova Scotia three times, and each visit gets better than the last. It’s a Canadian province on the east side of Maine, and the name means New Scotland.  I fly into the capital city of Halifax and find mystical greenery and shimmering blue lakes all around.  The people are friendly, the towns are clean, and visitors and residents find a diverse range of options and adventures. 
A Nova Scotia Lobster

One of the best things about going to Nova Scotia is the food, especially the lobster. On my latest trip I discovered that Nova Scotia is the largest exporter of lobsters and blueberries. 
Fresh blueberry pancakes with Maple Syrup

When in Canada, eat Canadian - right? So, many mornings I started my day with fresh blueberry pancakes topped with real maple syrup.

Seafood chowder became a lunch favorite and I some of the finest came from the Liscombe Lodge and Bistro East in Annapolis Royal. Temperatures in Nova Scotia run cooler than Florida, so I let every spoonful warm my body and soul. But, no wonder it's so filling, the recipe calls for heavy whipping cream, 2% milk, and butter.
Seafood Chowder with Mussels

Lobster rolls rank high as another lunch treat and only one word is needed to describe them: YUM. No work involved, just lovely, large chunks of the cold-water crustacean with a light touch of mayo on a home baked roll.
A Luscious Lobster roll

The best meal, however, remains fresh, pipping-hot lobster pulled out of a large pot. When cooking, begin with one quart of water per pound and one tablespoon of salt if not using seawater. Figure on boiling 12 minutes per pound, but don’t count on it. Pull one of the antennae: if it comes out easily, lobster’s done. If not, keep boiling and steaming.
A Lobster goes into the cooking pot.

Remove from the pot and let your lobster cool a bit. Then twist or cut off the claws, crack with a nutcracker. Toss the body. Take the tail in hand, stretch and squeeze it then twist the meat out. Don't forget the meat inside the tail fan. Dip the pieces in melted butter and enjoy the luscious sweet taste.
Chef explains how to eat a lobster.

My dinner at the Liscombe Lodge included a perfect accompaniment: coleslaw. Chef Anne MacDougall added a light touch of mayonnaise and created a snappy tang between the vinegar and sugar, giving the slaw a sweet and sour flavor.  I enjoyed it so much I asked for the recipe and share it below.  She was also kind enough to include the seafood chowder recipe.
Everyone wears a bib when eating lobster.

Recipes from Anne MacDougall, chef, Liscombe Lodge Resort and Conference Center
A bowl of Coleslaw

Creamy Coleslaw, a favorite side with lobster
Makes one medium bowl

1 head cabbage, shredded
½ cup carrots, shredded
¾ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp sugar**
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp celery salt
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine cabbage and carrots.
Whisk together mayo, sugar, vinegar and celery salt.
Add mayo mixture to cabbage and carrot mixture.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

** You may want to add more sugar if desired
I ate so much lobster, I turned into one.

Liscombe Lodge Seafood Chowder
Serves 12 people

2 lbs haddock
1 lb scallops
8 oz lobster
½ cup onion, chopped finely
½ cup celery, chopped finely
½ cup carrots, chopped small
¼ cup butter
2 tbsp fresh thyme
¼ cup of flour
2 cups fish stock
4 cups potatoes, diced small
4 cups of whipping cream
2 cups of 2% milk
Salt & Pepper to taste

Saute onions, celery and carrots in butter until tender
Add Thyme
Stir in flour –cook 3 minutes
Slowly add fish stock- stirring constantly
Add potatoes cook until tender
Add all fish and simmer for 5 minutes – or until fish is cooked
Add whipping cream and milk.
Add salt and pepper to taste
Simmer for 30 minutes
Add a teaspoon of butter on top and serve.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Vodka or Tequila: Florida Mule versus the Mexican Mule

In March 2014, after many red-tape delays, a distillery finally opened in St. Augustine, Florida, my hometown. The St. Augustine Distillery makes vodka and gin from locally grown ingredients and Florida grown sugar cane. They offer free tours to the public and anyone over 21 can taste a sample. Their products have earned grand reviews and numerous awards.  I love taking visitors to the place and am a fan.
The St. Augustine Distillery
The Ice Plant sits next door to the Distillery, a farm-to-table restaurant where bartenders make artisanal drinks, squeezing fresh juice never using mixes. One of the specialty drinks at the Ice Plant is a Florida Mule, a take on the famous Moscow Mule. I have fallen for this refreshing concoction, even purchasing copper mugs and their ingredients so I can make the drink at home.

Suaza 901 Triple Distilled Tequila
One day recently, a bottle of Justin Timberlake branded Sauza 901 Tequila showed up to my house. The tequila's name comes from Timberlake’s hometown area code in Memphis, Tennessee. I love a margarita, but am not the biggest fan of straight tequila. Nonetheless, in the name of research, I thought I'd better try.

To my chagrin, the stuff was smooth, somewhat citrusy and tasted great straight from a shot glass.  Perhaps that's because Sauza 901, an 80-proof agave-based liquor,  is triple distilled (as opposed to the industry standard, double distillation process). Jameson Whiskey employs a similar triple distillation process, and I know it earns raves from whiskey fans. So this woman will go on record stating, " Sauza 901 tequila is extremely easy to drink with hints of citrus and is even better over ice."

Adding ice got me to thinking, what other cocktails could I use it in?  I researched a few websites and found a Sauza 901 recipe for a Mexican Mule from the Beverage Media Group.  Drink DuJour claims it is JT's favorite. I thought, how about a throwdown contest between a Mexican Mule and my Florida favorite?

The Florida Mule topped with fresh mint
I mixed the drinks identically, except I used Sauza 901 tequila in one and St. Augustine vodka in the other.  I combined one part alcohol, with two parts ginger beer and freshly squeezed juice from half of a lime. I placed both drinks in copper mugs and added shaved ice.  Ole!

I hate to admit it, but the Mexican with Sauza 901 tequila was the winner. Not that I don't still love the St. Augustine Distillery, but the tequila-based drink was more flavorful and thirst quenching. Perfect for a summer afternoon or happy hour. So bottoms up to a Mexican Mule in Florida.

Mexican Mule
1 part Sauza® 901® Tequila
2 parts ginger beer
Juice of ½ lime
Directions: Put all ingredients in a copper mug and add shaved ice; stir. A slice or lime or fresh mint adds a little pizzazz.

Next I'm going to try a Sauza 901 Ruby Sparkler as found on the Latin website.

Ruby Sparkler Ingredients:

5 raspberries, plus more for garnish
2 parts Sauza 901 Tequila
1 part fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 part fresh lemon juice
3/4 part simple syrup

In a mixing glass, muddle five raspberries. Add remaining ingredients and shake. Strain before serving over ice in a highball glass. Garnish with skewered raspberries.

For fun, check this out.

Sauza created a very clever video about their tequila causing a break-up with limes. 
Watch it here:

All photos @Debi Lander