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Lobster, Brunch, and Cocktails
Lobster, brunch, and cocktails are three of my favorite things. For years my husband and I hosted brunch at our house in Maryland for Mother’s and Father’s day. (Was it my excuse to serve bloody marys and mimosas? Maybe.)
In 2004 we moved to Maine to buy a bed and breakfast. Jumbo lump crab from Maryland is delicious but nothing beats fresh Maine lobster. For one thing, you get a lot more meat for the effort with lobster than crabs, which worked in my favor, because picking crabs was never my thing.
The lobster industry as a whole took off in the 1700s. They were so plentiful that they would wash up on the shore and were gathered from tide pools and beaches. Imagine being the first person to actually navigate how to eat a lobster. Hats off to Maine for its sustainability efforts to preserve the lobster industry and way of life. And for giving us such a delicious crustacean to get creative with in the kitchen.
I quickly incorporated lobster into our inn’s breakfast repertoire. Our housekeeper’s son was a lobsterman and he’d sell it to us at boat price, which is well below retail (connections are the best!) and I love to support small businesses.
One of the favorite recipes that became my signature dish and is in my cookbook, The Art of Breakfast: How to Bring B&B Entertaining Home, is Egg Roulade with Leeks, Parmesan, Lobster, and Sherry Butter. I think it’s the combination of creamy Parmesan-leek filling with the bright, lightly acidic sherry butter that complements the eggs and fresh lobster so well. This is one dish that’s worth a little effort and expense for your friends and family.
What to sip with the roulade? Something bubbly. I came up with the Hibiscus Gin Fizz, which is a light, citrusy cocktail perfect for brunching. It does a nice job cutting the richness of the roulade ingredients and its pretty in pink aesthetic makes it perfect for the front line of any brunch.
If you aren’t a fan of bubbly or gin, opt for the Cranberry Bourbon Spritzer. It’s not too sweet, not too tart. It makes a beautiful and festive brunch or holiday cocktail.
Something for tea drinkers? Try The Earl Grey. The subtle scent and flavor of bergamot orange that Earl Grey tea lends to the cocktail is understated and elegant. It’s one of my favorites.
Since it is brunch, I like to offer a coffee cocktail of sorts. Try the Dark Espresso Martini for a boost and booze. I prefer my coffee cocktails without any of the creamy liqueurs. Use the rum sauce drizzle to dress up the glass.
Lastly, if you’re making something salty, I’d opt for the Cucumber and Basil Lemon Spritzer to accompany it.
Cucumber and Basil Lemon Spritzer
2 ounces vodka
¾ ounce Limoncello
¾ ounce fresh lemon
2 cucumber slices
¾ ounce basil simple syrup (recipe follows)
Basil and cucumber wheel garnish
Place cucumber in a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add vodka, Limoncello, lemon, and basil simple syrup and shake over ice. Strain and pour into a tall rocks glass over ice. Top with club soda. Garnish with fresh basil sprig and a cucumber wheel.
Basil Simple Syrup
Makes approximately 2¼ cups.
2 cups sugar
1½ cups cold water
2 tablespoons corn syrup
¼ cup packed fresh basil leaves
Combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, until all the sugar is dissolved. Do not allow the syrup to come to a full rolling boil.
While the sugar is cooking, finely chop the basil and place half in a mesh bag or loose-tea steeper and add to the sugar mixture. Set the other half aside.
When slightly cooled, remove cooked basil, add fresh basil and chill.
Hibiscus Gin Fizz
4 ounces dry Prosecco
1 ounce gin
1 ounce hibiscus simple syrup (recipe follows)
½ ounce fresh lime
4 dashes of hibiscus water
Raspberry and mint garnish
Mix Prosecco, gin, hibiscus simple syrup, lime and hibiscus water in cocktail shaker over ice. Pour into champagne flute. Garnish with a few raspberries and a mint sprig.
Hibiscus Simple Syrup
Makes approximately 2¼ cups
2 cups sugar
1½ cups cold water
2 tablespoons white corn syrup
¼ cup dried hibiscus flowers
Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until all the sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar just comes to a boil, lower heat to simmer and continue to cook on low for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let steep for at least 30 minutes or longer. When cool, strain and pour into a storage container or squeeze bottle and refrigerate until ready to use.
Cranberry Bourbon Spritzer
8 cranberries, plus a few for garnish
1½ ounces bourbon
1 ounce cranberry honey rosemary simple syrup
Fill short rocks glass with ice. Muddle 8 cranberries in a cocktail shaker. Add bourbon, cranberry honey simple syrup, and ice. Shake until cold. Pour into rocks glass and garnish with a few fresh cranberries and a rosemary sprig.
Cranberry Honey Rosemary Simple Syrup
Makes approximately 21/2 cups
½ cup whole cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup cold water
2 sprigs rosemary
1 cup honey
In a small saucepan, add the cranberries and smash with a muddler or the bottom of a heavy glass. Add the sugar, water, rosemary, and honey and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until all the sugar is dissolved and honey is fully incorporated. When cool, strain through a fine mesh sieve and pour into a storage container or squeeze bottle and refrigerate until ready to use.
The Earl Grey
2 ounces gin
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce Earl Grey simple syrup (recipe follows)
3 dashes lemongrass bitters
Lemon wheel for garnish
Mix all ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel
Earl Grey Simple Syrup
Makes approximately 2¼ cups
2 cups sugar
1½ cups cold water
2 tablespoons corn syrup
4 good quality Earl Grey tea bags
Combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until all the sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar just comes to a boil, lower to simmer and add the tea bags. Continue to cook on low for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let steep for at least 30 minutes or longer. When cool, pour into a storage container or squeeze bottle and refrigerate until ready to use.
A Dark Espresso Martini
Maple rum sauce (recipe follows)
1 ounce brewed espresso (espresso roast brewed drip coffee will work, just make it dark)
1 ounce espresso-infused vodka
Seeds from 1 fresh vanilla bean
½ ounce Amaro Montenegro
½ ounce coffee brandy
½ ounce Kahlua
Coffee bean garnish
Using the squeeze bottle, drizzle the chilled rum sauce on the inside of a martini glass. Mix espresso, vodka, vanilla bean seeds, Amaro, brandy, and Kahlua over ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into the martini glass. Garnish with espresso beans. You could also dip the rim in the rum sauce and then into crushed espresso beans.
Makes 2 cups
1½ cups heavy cream
⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
⅓ cup plus 3 tablespoons spiced rum
3 teaspoons corn starch
Combine the cream, sugar, maple syrup, and ⅓ cup rum in a medium saucepan and bring to a slow boil over low heat. Dissolve the corn starch in the remaining 3 tablespoons of rum. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture, cook on low for another 2 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.
For the leftovers, store in the refrigerator (after it’s cooled) for 4–5 days or freeze for up to 3 weeks. Simply reheat in the microwave on low to warm if you want to serve warm over ice cream or in hot coffee.
LOBSTER BRUNCH and SMALL BITES
Lobster Scallion Crepe
People’s Choice Winning Recipe from the 2018 Harvest on the Harbor Maine Lobster Chef of the Year competition.
Charred scallion crepes topped with brown butter poached lobster, a smoked truffle aioli, sweet soy glaze, fried wonton bits, toasted sesames, chives, and micro greens.
Makes about 14 crepes
1 large bunch of scallions
Olive oil for grilling scallions
1¼ cups 2% milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 bunches of scallions
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried chives
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon soy glaze (recipe below)
¼ cup melted butter (½ stick) plus butter for greasing crepe pan
Brown Butter Poached Lobster (recipe below)
Smoked Truffle Aioli (recipe below)
Chives, finely diced
Toasted black and white sesames (Toast on parchment lined sheet pan in a 300° oven until the white sesames have a light golden hue, about 10–12 minutes. Let cool.)
Fried wonton bits (cut into small ⅛–¼-inch squares and fry in vegetable oil at 360° until golden. Drain on paper towel and store in airtight container)
Heat grill and coat both bunches of scallions with olive oil and grill with lid closed on medium low, flipping halfway through, until charred. Total cooking time is about 8–10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Chop into small pieces, about an inch or less.
In a blender, add eggs, milk, flour, salt, sugar, mustard powder, onion powder, dried chives, black pepper, and soy glaze. Blend on medium, scrape down the sides, and blend another few seconds. Then add melted butter through the lid opening and blend another few seconds. On medium-low, add scallions and blend until they are in very small bits, about 5 seconds. Let the batter rest at least 4 hours or overnight. Let come to room temperature before making crepes.
Using a crepe pan, or very shallow 8- to 9-inch sauté pan, heat over medium-low heat until hot. Add about ½ tablespoon butter. After butter has melted, pour ⅓ cup of batter into the center of the pan. Immediately pick up the pan and tilt and swirl it to spread the batter evenly over the bottom. Cook for 1½ to 2 minutes, or until the crepe is golden on the bottom. You’ll know it’s time to flip when you see the edge begin to brown. Cook another 30 seconds on the other side. Set aside.
Cook remaining crepes, adding butter to pan as needed (at least every other crepe or more). I stack mine without wax paper between and have never found the need to place wax paper between crepes—and I’ve stacked nearly 100 crepes per stack.)
Fold each warm crepe into quarters. Top with the butter-poached lobster. Drizzle both the aioli and soy sauce over top. Garnish with toasted sesames, micro greens, and a nice scattering of the wonton bits. If your crepes are cool, fold into quarters and warm in a sauté pan with butter, 2 minutes per side. Then top as directed.
Brown Butter Poached Lobster
1½ sticks of butter
1 pound lobster meat, raw and picked
In small saucepan, add butter and cook over medium low heat until lightly brown in color and milk solids have fully separated, about 8–10 minutes. Watch carefully not to burn the butter. Strain through fine mesh sieve.
In large sauté pan, add the butter and heat over medium low for 1 minute. Add lobster and cook until meat is fully opaque, but cook slowly and avoid over cooking, about 6–8 minutes. The water released from the lobster will help slowly poach instead of pan fry. Set aside. When you are done with the lobster, keep the butter for a lobster stew base. If you prefer to use cooked meat, just warm in the butter for a couple minutes.
Smoked Truffle Aioli
Makes about 2 cups
1½ cups Japanese Kewpie brand mayonnaise
½ stick butter
1 tablespoon white truffle oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
Place 1 cup of the mayo and butter in an ovenproof dish and place in smoker (following manufacturer instructions). (I used a Cameron brand stovetop smoker, but an outdoor or other stovetop smoker will also work. I used it on the grill since I had to grill my scallions; the grill was already hot.)
Smoke for about 30 minutes. You’ll see browned bits along the edge of the baking dish and a light brown tint to the mayo/butter if it has been adequately smoked. Let cool. Add to blender with the remaining mayo, salt, black pepper and truffle oil. Store in squeeze bottle.
Makes 1 cup
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup sweet soy sauce (which is thick)
¼ cup regular soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice cooking wine
2 tablespoons medium sherry
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin
1½ teaspoons molasses
1½ teaspoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon honey
Combine brown sugar, both soy sauces, rice wine, sherry and rice vinegar in a small saucepan and heat until brown sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients. Let cool and store in squeeze bottle.
Fried Lobster Egg Roll
Try this recipe variation for a happy hour bite, tailgate party, or brunch. It’s a twist on my 2018 Boothbay Harbor Claw Down Lobster Competition “Lobster Wonton,” which won first place Judge’s and People’s Choice.
Place a large egg roll wrapper on a diagonal and dampen each corner with a drop of water. Place about 2 tablespoons chopped warm lobster and a scattering of scallions in the center, fold the bottom up tucking it into a tight roll, then fold each side in and roll up, sealing the edge tightly. Fry in vegetable oil (in small sauté pan with enough oil to come up about halfway) until golden brown on all sides, about a minute each side. Drain on paper towel. Serve with the aioli and soy glaze drizzled on the plate. Top with chives and enjoy!
Egg Roulade with Leeks, Parmesan, Lobster, and Sherry Butter
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 large leeks, washed and thinly sliced
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Juice from ¼ lemon
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons butter
1½ cups shredded Parmesan cheese
½ cup medium-dry sherry
16 ounces fresh, cooked lobster meat, cut into small chunks
1 (10-ounce) package baby spinach, washed and dried
Fresh chopped chives, for garnish
Fresh cracked pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Grease a rimmed heavy-duty half-sheet pan with butter or vegetable oil, then line with parchment paper and grease the parchment, making sure to press it flat to the surface of the pan. Leave at least an inch overhang.
In a blender, mix the eggs, 2 cups of cream, and ½ teaspoon salt on high speed for 4 to 5 seconds. Pour the mixture into the lined baking sheet. Bake until you begin to see the surface of the egg start to lightly brown, about 25–30 minutes. Remove and let cool.
While egg is cooling, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the leeks, covered, until soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce, the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream, lemon juice, and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt and stir. When the cream cheese is thoroughly incorporated, add 3 tablespoons of butter, mix in and remove from heat. Let cool for a few minutes.
Dollop small amounts of the leek filling onto the egg. Using an offset spatula, carefully spread the mixture over the entire egg sponge, trying not to tear the egg as it is very delicate. Sprinkle Parmesan over the filling.
With the short edge of the pan closest to you using the parchment as a guide, roll the egg up onto itself (like a jelly roll) until you end up with the egg seam on the underside of the roll. Keep the egg covered with the parchment after rolling as it will help keep it moist. Cover the entire roll with aluminum foil and bake for another 20 minutes.
While the egg bakes, melt the remaining stick of butter in a pan with the sherry and cook for about 5 minutes, allowing much of the alcohol to burn off. Then add the lobster, lower the heat, and cover. Simmer for 3–4 minutes.
To serve, place a pile of fresh baby spinach on a plate. Slice the roulade into 6 slices, layer onto the spinach, and top with a couple spoonsful of the lobster butter. Garnish with fresh chives.
Dana Moos is the author of The Art of Breakfast: How to Bring B&B Entertaining Home, as well as a former innkeeper and has spent many years dazzling her guests with food and drink.