Boiled Peanuts | A Classic Southern Snack

Green Peanuts used to Make Boiled Peanuts

Green Peanuts Used to Make Boiled Peanuts

Boiled peanuts remind me of my childhood and are forever linked in my mind with the beach. One of my favorite childhood treats was riding with my father to Pensacola Beach in “Old Blue”—a Chevy pickup—while listening to rock ‘n’ roll and eating boiled peanuts from a roadside stand. They were always sold piping hot, but that never stopped us from scarfing them down.

I think that there’s something inherently satisfying about boiled peanuts. Maybe it’s their association with my childhood. Maybe they remind me of the South. But it’s probably due in large part to their delicious taste! They’re salty, juicy, tender, and delicious. What’s not to love?

Boiled peanuts are definitely regional, much like sweet tea, so if you’re not from the South, you might be wondering what a boiled peanut is. It’s a raw peanut that has been cooked in brine for several hours until soft and tender. They’re eaten as a snack and are oftentimes sold along rural highways and at events. My family always serves them at our annual reunion.

Eating boiled peanuts with my grandfather

Eating Boiled Peanuts with My Grandfather at the Beach

To understand how to make boiled peanuts, you must first understand the different types of peanuts.

Peanut Breakdown:

  • Roasted peanuts – Raw peanuts that have been baked in the oven until dry and crunchy. These are the peanuts that most people are probably familiar with. Roasted peanuts are often served as a snack, with or without the shell. They can also be made into peanut butter. Roasted peanuts CANNOT, however, be used to make boiled peanuts.
  • Green raw peanuts – Freshly harvested peanuts that contain 35 to 50 percent moisture content. Green peanuts are perishable and must be refrigerated upon receipt. Like most fresh produce, you want to use them fairly quickly for optimal flavor and freshness. These are the best type of peanuts to use for making boiled peanuts. However, they are usually only available between August and October.
  • Dry raw peanuts – Peanuts that have been dried to a 10 percent moisture content to facilitate storage and shipping. These can also be used to make boiled peanuts, but they take longer to cook because they aren’t as moist.

Where to Buy Peanuts for Boiling

When living in North Florida, Corey and I used to buy green peanuts from the grocery store in the fall (you could also look at farmers’ markets). Every fall, we’d eagerly wait the arrival of fresh green peanuts. Fall doesn’t officially begin for us until we’ve made a pot of boiled peanuts.

Hardy's Boiling Peanuts Half Bushel

Hardy Farms Boiling Peanuts, Half Bushel

Now that we live in Chicago, we’ve started ordering green peanuts online from Hardy Farms—a peanut farm in Georgia. We typically order a half bushel of green jumbo peanuts ($28.00 + $10.39 shipping; note that this is quite a large quantity of peanuts—they also offer smaller sizes). It’s a happy day when the delivery man shows up with our bag of peanuts.

Hardy's Green Peanuts Recipe

Hardy’s Boiled Peanuts Recipe (Though I Have My Own – See Below)

If it’s no longer peanut season (August – October), you will need to buy dry raw peanuts. You can buy them at some grocery stores or online here.

Lastly, if you want to eat boiled peanuts but don’t want to cook them yourself, you can buy them in cans at grocery stores, at roadside stands in certain parts of the country, or online. Note: I haven’t tried the canned variety, so I’m not sure how they compare to the real McCoy. If you have, let me know in the comments.

How to Make Boiled Peanuts

Boiled peanuts are easy to make and only require 3 ingredients: green or raw peanuts, water, and salt. Since water plays such a prominent role in making boiled peanuts, I recommend using filtered water for a better taste.

  1. Sort through the peanuts and remove any with cracked shells, discoloration, or molding. Rinse the remaining peanuts thoroughly to remove any dirt.
  2. Place the peanuts in a large stockpot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the peanuts by at least 2 inches (the peanuts will float; you can press down on them gently to judge the water level). Allow the peanuts to soak for 30 minutes.
  3. Add salt to the pot; the amount to add varies according to individual taste. I typically use about 1 cup of salt for every gallon of water. When the peanuts are almost finished, taste one and see if you need to add more salt. Do not do this when you first start cooking the boiled peanuts, as it takes time for the salt water to saturate the peanuts.
  4. Boil the peanuts, covered, adding more water as needed. Again, how long you boil them depends on personal preference and the type of peanut used (as well as the size – jumbo or regular). For green peanuts, you can start tasting for doneness after 2 hours, though I like to boil them for at least 4 or 5. For dry raw peanuts, the cook time is much longer. I would begin tasting for doneness after 8 hours. Once the desired level of tenderness is reached, turn off the heat.
  5. You can then drain the peanuts and eat them or store them in the fridge or freezer (boiled peanuts freeze well). You can also allow the boiled peanuts to continue soaking in the brine to increase the flavor (and saltiness).

Now that you know about boiled peanuts, it’s time to get boiling and enjoy this classic Southern snack! Boiled peanuts pair well with sweet tea or a cold Coke. Enjoy!

I used this source when researching peanut types: Green Peanuts versus Dried Peanuts

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Pepero South Korean Snack – Pepero Day

Pepero South Korean Snack

Pepero—a popular South Korean Snack manufactured by Lotte Confectionary

I thought it would be fun to do a snack series on Flavorful Journeys, where I feature different snacks from around the world and discuss their history and cultural significance. After all, who doesn’t like snacks, right? In today’s busy world, we don’t always have time to sit down and eat three meals a day; sometimes snacks play a critical role in tiding us over until our next meal and getting us through a long, hectic day.

This past week, I visited the Korean spa and stopped by H-Mart (a large Asian grocery store specializing in Korean food) on the way home. I didn’t have any set ingredients to buy; instead I just wondered the aisles picking up some of my usual items and any foods that sounded interesting: Japanese seaweed salad, Korean stir-fried black beans, shrimp crackers, Calpico (a Japanese non-carbonated soft drink), a couple different varieties of ramen noodles, kimchi, Korean bbq, and a box of Peperos.

Little did I know that I was choosing a snack that has its own holiday in South Korea and coincidently enough I was buying it on the actual day of the holiday, November 11th or 11/11 (I’ll discuss this holiday more, right after I describe peperos).

Nude Pepero South Korean Snack

Nude Pepero (two sticks are broken in half to show the interior)

What are Peperos?

Peperos are long thin cookie-like sticks that are covered in chocolate or in this case filled with chocolate. There are many different varieties of Peperos including:

  • regular (chocolate-covered Pepero)
  • nude (chocolate-filled Pepero)
  • almond and chocolate (chocolate-covered Pepero with almond pieces)
  • peanut and chocolate (chocolate-covered Pepero with roasted peanuts)
  • white cookie (white chocolate-covered Pepero with cookie pieces)
  • strawberry (strawberry-flavored–chocolate-covered Pepero)
  • melon (melon-flavored–chocolate-covered Pepero)
  • and more

Peperos remind me of Pepperidge Farms’ chocolate Pirouettes, except Peperos are much thinner and the exterior shill is harder and denser, more like a cookie than a wafer. The filling is similar, chocolate, creamy, and smooth.

So What is Pepero Day All About?

Pepero Day is a holiday similar to Valentine’s Day where friends, co-workers, and significant others give each other Pepero sticks. Kyeong-Jin  in the video below provides insight into Pepero Day:

Pepero Day has also influenced Korean pop culture, inspired a Pepero kissing game, and in a very popular holiday among the youth. Check out this cute video of the Pepero Song by Megan Lee–a Korean-American artist and singer. It’s a sweet, romantic song about Pepero Day.

Are you curious about how the Pepero kissing game works?

Two people play the game; they each put one end of the Pepero in their mouths and then slowly bite their way towards the center. The goal is to get as close to the other persons lips without their lips actually touching. The couple with the shortest remaining piece of Pepero wins (if playing against other teams) or the individual who doesn’t break the kiss first wins. Sometimes this game results in a kiss, accidently or purposely, hence the name Pepero kissing game.

Here’s a video of Exo—a South Korean-Chinese K-Pop Band—playing the Pepero kissing game at the China Love Big Concert.

Okay, you can see that learning about Peperos and Pepero Day made me go on a bit of a YouTube watching frenzy! I hope  you enjoyed these videos.

Where to buy  Peperos:

If you’re in the Chicago area, you can buy them at H-Mart in Niles. If you’re not in Chicago, you can purchase Peperos at H-Mart online or on Amazon.

Corey and I shared a packet of Peperos and I sure wished I’d bought more than one packet! They were gone wicked fast. Next time, I’ll know to buy more.

I hope you enjoyed this post on the popular South Korean snack Pepero! If you have tried Pepero before, let me know which flavor is your favorite!

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Urban Farm Fermentory, Portland, Maine

Urban Farm Fermentory TaproomUrban Farm Fermentory Taproom

While traveling in Portland, Maine, with Corey and his family, I visited Urban Farm Fermentory, which is a brewery that specializes in kombucha and cider. You may be wondering what kombucha is exactly. If you had asked me a few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have known either.

Sign in Office of Urban Fermentory Farm Describing the Kombucha ProcessUrban Farm Fermentory’s Description of the Kombucha Process

What Is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented tea made with a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). Once the kombucha has finished fermenting, this SCOBY is removed, then the kombucha is strained—though some is sold unfiltered—and bottled. Kombucha can be flavored when bottled by adding chopped fruit, fruit juice, flowers, herbs, or a combination thereof.

The next step after bottling is carbonation. This can be achieved through a second fermentation process, which occurs when bottles of kombucha are left at room temperature for 1 to 3 days.  Once the desired carbonation level is reached, the kombucha is strained, rebottled, and refrigerated. Cooling slows down the rate of fermentation. Kombucha can also be carbonated through forced carbonation.

Kombucha is slightly alcoholic, usually containing 0.5 to 3 percent alcohol, which in 2010 induced government regulation and caused Whole Foods to pull kombucha from their shelves due to the lack of proper labeling.

So now that you know the basics of kombucha, let’s get back to Urban Farm Fermentory.

Kombucha and Cider Offerings at Urban Farm Fermentory Taproom Kombucha and Cider Offerings at Urban Farm Fermentory Taproom

We visited Urban Farm Fermentory with a Groupon that included a cider and kombucha tasting, a brewery tour, and a 32-ounce growler of your pick. I highly recommend getting this Groupon if it’s still available, as it allows you to explore many different kombucha flavors and gives you a look into the kombucha-making process.

Urban Farm Fermentory tries to source all its ingredients locally. This not only makes their kombucha very fresh but also means that their flavors and offerings vary seasonally.

Urban Farm Fermentory Kombucha Flavors on Tap:

  • Original
  • Cucumber
  • Rose Petal
  • Cascade & Amarillo Hopped
  • Honey Chamomile
  • Sweet Basil
  • Blueberry
  • Ginger

Urban Farm Fermentory Cider Flavors:

  • Pink Peppercorn and Basil
  • Dry Cidah
  • Sour Cidah (dry cidah and aged kombucha blend)
  • Cyser Apple Honey Wine (mead)
  • Cascade Hops

The cucumber kombucha was my favorite. It was cool and refreshing, slightly tart and bubbly. It was like drinking from a garden in summertime. I also really enjoyed the honey chamomile kombucha—deliciously smooth, sweet, and calming, with very little tartness. The ginger kombucha was also very tasty. It was an interesting take on ginger tea; similar to ginger beer (not ginger ale), but not as sweet and carbonated.

The bartender let us to taste our favorite flavors again and make our own blends. Ginger and blueberry went together nicely, as did sweet basil and cucumber.

Urban Farm Fermentory’s kombucha contains 1.5% alcohol (though their ciders are much stronger). I like that they don’t sacrifice quality to meet government regulations but choose instead to have their product labeled as alcohol. A quote from their website: “Our potent, probiotic Kombucha (fermented tea), with its 1.5% ABV and tart, acidic bite, is one of the few true examples of the form left after the infamous kombucha crackdown of 2010.”

Kombucha is a refreshing, ostensibly healthy drink. Some people drink it as a hangover cure, while others tout its health benefits. If you want to learn more about kombucha, check out this article.

Urban Farm Fermentory Brewery Tour

The tour guide was friendly and casual. He showed us some of the equipment and fielded our questions. The brewery isn’t very big (10,000 ft2), so it was a short (but interesting) tour.

Cider Press at Urban Farm Fermentory Brewery Tour Cider Press at Urban Farm Fermentory Brewery

Syphon Filler Machine for bottling Kombucha and Cider Syphon Filler Machine for Bottling Kombucha and Cider

Urban Farm Fermentory KegsUrban Farm Fermentory Kegs

We weren’t allowed to photograph the kombucha tanks due to proprietary knowledge. So if you want to see that, you’ll just have to visit!

Urban Farm Fermentory ArtworkStaff Murals at Urban Farm Fermentory

There are also a number of wall murals (reminiscent of street art) in Urban Farm Fermentory. Our tour guide said that the young people who work here want to make the space visually exciting and fun. Almost every room in the brewery has one or more murals, most of which were created by the employees or their friends.

Info about Visiting Urban Farm Fermentory:

Address:
200 Anderson St
Portland, ME 04101

Phone: (207) 773-8331

Hours: 12 PM – 7 PM, Tuesday – Saturday

Website: http://www.urbanfarmfermentory.com/

Cost:

Prices at Urban Farm FermentoryPrices at Urban Farm Fermentory

Note: Unfortunately, Urban Farm Fermentory doesn’t currently ship its kombucha or cider to individuals outside of Maine (though they do have distributorships in various northeastern cities).

If you’re curious about kombucha and happen to be in or near Portland, Maine, check out Urban Farm Fermentory. It’s a great introduction to kombucha and they’re always brewing up delicious new flavors.

If you’ve made SCOBY or kombucha before, please share your experience. Also, if you’re looking for other things to do in Maine, Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier is worth a visit!

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Chocolate-Raspberry Glass Cupcakes

Chocolate-Raspberry Glass Cupcakes

Chocolate-Raspberry Glass Cupcakes with Buttercream Icing

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love its spookiness, as this allows me to embrace morbid concepts in fun ways. For example, these chocolate raspberry cupcakes play on hyelophobia, or fear of glass. The sugar glass–its jagged edges covered in red food coloring–looks very much like broken shards of glass smeared with blood. The buttercream icing with red swirls further plays on this theme.

Chocolate Raspberry Glass Cupcakes with Buttercream Icing

Glass Cupcakes Topped with Buttercream Red Swirl

These chocolate-raspberry glass cupcakes are as tasty as they are ghastly. The chocolate cupcake base is filled with homemade raspberry curd. Rich, decadent chocolate goes well with the sweetly tart raspberry curd. I chose raspberry curd because I think raspberry and chocolate are the best dessert combination ever, but also because it goes well with the “glass” and “blood” cupcake theme. When you bite into this cupcake, you see red raspberry filling–it’s a nice gory touch. But you could also try lemon curd or another fruit-flavored curd.

Chocolate Raspberry Glass Cupcake

Chocolate-Raspberry, Curd-Filled Glass Cupcakes

If you don’t have time to make these cupcakes from scratch, you can always buy cupcakes and just make the sugar glass; they will still look absolutely wicked. The sugar glass is made by boiling sugar and water until it reaches the “soft-crack stage” (270° F). You really need a candy thermometer for this to work, preferably a digital one. As soon as 270° F is reached, pour the sugar syrup onto a lightly greased cookie pan. Shake the pan from side to side to spread out the syrup. Then allow the sugar glass to harden–which will take 30 minutes to 1 hour–before breaking it into shards.

Glass Shards

Freshly Broken Shards of Sugar Glass

Chocolate Raspberry Glass Cupcakes

You can enhance the goriness by covering the sugar glass’s edges with Wilton’s no-taste red icing color using a toothpick. I also spread the icing color in vertical lines in a pastry bag before filling the bag with the buttercream icing. This is what gives the buttercream icing its red swirl.

If you’re looking for another creepy Halloween desert, check out these blood-splattered cookies. Also, if you have any Halloween recipes or craft ideas, please share–I’m always looking for new ideas.

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Raspberry Curd

Serves About 3 cups
Meal type Condiment
Website adapted from Java Cupcake
A sweetly-tart raspberry curd made with real raspberries. Perfect with scones or as a filling in cupcakes. This raspberry curd recipe is easy and delicious

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 Cups fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 6 egg yolks (lightly beaten)
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Note

Do not let the curd rise above 170°F as this could cause the eggs to scramble.

Directions

Step 1
Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the sugar, raspberries, egg yolks, and salt. Heat until the sugar has dissolved and the raspberries have broken down. Stirring constantly.
Step 2
Cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. The curd is done when a candy thermometer registers 170°F.
Step 3
Stir in the lemon juice. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve set over a large bowl. Try to press out as much of the juice as you can from the pulp and seeds.
Step 4
Cover the curd and place in the refrigerator. Allow to chill for at least 4 hours before using. The refrigerated curd will keep 2-4 weeks.

Chocolate Raspberry Curd Filled Cupcakes

Serves 24 cupcakes
Meal type Dessert
Website slightly adapted from Java Cupcake
These chocolate cupcakes are filled with homemade raspberry curd. The rich, decadent chocolate goes well with the sweetly-tart raspberry curd.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 2/3 cups sour cream
  • Raspberry curd homemade or store bought (see recipe on blog)

Directions

Step 1
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with paper cases.
Step 2
In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once melted, whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Add the heavy cream, brewed coffee and vanilla extract. Heat until just barely simmering. Remove from heat and allow to cool as you prep the other ingredients.
Step 3
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Step 4
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream and eggs.
Step 5
Slowly pour the slightly cooled chocolate mixture into the sour cream and egg mixture; whisk until smooth. NOTE: Make sure to slowly add the chocolate mixture to the sour cream and egg mixture to prevent the eggs from cooking. Do not add it all at once.
Step 6
Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. Add the chocolate mixture to the flour in three parts, whisking after each addition until just combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is incorporated. Whisk batter until smooth, about 20 strokes.
Step 7
Fill the cupcake cases three-quarters full. Bake 17-19 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave to cool for a few minutes before turning them out on to a wire rack.
Step 8
Core the center of each cupcake using a paring knife or an apple corer. Using a spoon, fill each cupcake with raspberry curd.

Vanilla Buttercream Icing with Red Swirls

Serves yields icing for 2 dozen cupcakes
Website Adapted from Java Cupcake
This vanilla buttercream icing with red swirls is perfect for festive occasions, such as Valentine's Day and Halloween. The icing is smooth and creamy.

Ingredients

  • 2 Sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 4 Tablespoons cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 2 Pounds powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Optional

  • Wilton no-taste red icing (for red swirls)
  • cupcakes

Directions

Icing
Step 1
Using a stand mixer or electric beater, beat butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed. Add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, and beat until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. Add 1/4-1/2 cup cream and beat on high for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Mix in the pinch of salt.
Assembly
Step 2
Using a toothpick, add the Wilton no-taste red icing color in vertical stripes up the insides of a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip. Add the buttercream to a pastry bag. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake.

Sugar Glass

Serves Makes enough for 2 dozen cupcakes
Meal type Dessert
Website adapted from Juniper Cakery
Sugar glass is a cool decorative technique. The sugar glass is made by boiling sugar and water until it reaches the soft-crack stage (270° F).

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons water
  • candy thermometer
  • small saucepan
  • cake release spray
  • rimmed cookie tray or baking sheet

Directions

Step 1
In a saucepan add the sugar and water together and set on the highest heat.
Step 2
Prepare a rimmed cookie sheet by spritzing lightly with cake release.
Step 3
Stir the sugar mixture occasionally and leave to bubble until the sugar mixture reduces and reaches around 132 degrees C or 270 degrees F. You should start to smell a faint burnt caramel scent. The mix may also begin to turn a slight champagne gold color.
Step 4
Remove the pan from the heat. Quickly pour your sugar mixture onto the rimmed cookie sheet. Quickly spread the mixture to the edges by tilting the sheet. Don’t worry if the mixture doesn’t reach the edges; sometimes the cake release spray will stop it from spreading too much. Leave to cool and harden (this takes between 30 minutes to 1 hour).
Step 5
Don’t leave your ‘glass’ for too long, however. Sugar glass is hygroscopic, which means that it quite readily absorbs moisture from it’s surrounding atmosphere. As soon as the mix has cooled and hardened, quickly smash it in the required jagged shards before it loses that lovely brittle and hard quality!
Cupcake Assembly
Step 6
Place a glass shard or shards on top of the red swirl buttercream icing for each cupcake.

Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier

Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier

Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier in Kittery Point, Maine

I love traveling and exploring different parts of the world, learning about cultures and experiencing the uniqueness and beauty of a given place. Traveling expands your mind and changes your worldview. Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

I’ve been lucky to have many occasions to travel of late. My mother-in-law got married this past weekend, so Corey and I flew to Maine to witness and celebrate this momentous occasion. After the ceremony, we all went to Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier—a popular local seafood restaurant that’s known for serving fresh boiled lobster.

Man Holding Lobster from the Live Lobster Tanks at Chauncey Creek

Man Holding Lobster from the Live Lobster Tanks at Chauncey Creek

Close-Up of the Live Lobsters

Close-Up of the Live Lobsters

Maine has a maritime culture, with much of its economy based on the lobster industry. This restaurant embraces that culture with a nautical theme. Brightly colored picnic tables overlook Chauncey Creek, and fishing nets and buoys hang from the ceiling. There‘s even a dock in front of the restaurant for those arriving via boat (which one couple did while we were there). A sign made from an old wooden board humorously reinforces the lobster culture:

Sign at Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier

Sign at Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier

Steamed Mussels at Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier

Steamed Mussels at Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier

Boiled Lobster with Melted Butter at Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier

Boiled Lobster with Melted Butter at Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier

A Close-Up of the Beautifully Cooked Lobster

A Close-Up of the Beautifully Cooked Lobster

Lobster Beware!

Lobster Beware!

The simple menu centers on fresh seafood. We ordered steamed mussels, coconut shrimp with fries, corn on the cob, and four two-pound lobsters. You have to get the boiled lobster—order from inside a small shack, where they have live lobster tanks. Select the lobster size you want, and they’ll bring it to you freshly boiled. They also provide lobster bibs, napkins, crackers, moist towelettes, and silverware. Note that it’s a casual BYOB joint, not a typical full-service restaurant. You can bring tablecloths, glasses, beer or wine, or anything else that you want.  They deliver the food to your table, and you get to work removing the steaming hot lobster meat.

The Seating Area at Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier

The Seating Area at Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier

The View from Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier

The View from Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier

Info about visiting Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier:

Address:
16 Chauncey Creek Road
Kittery Point, ME 03905

Phone: 207-439-1030

Chauncey Creek is open seasonally from Mother’s Day through Columbus Day.
Mother’s Day through Labor Day – Open every day 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Closed the Tuesday after Labor Day
Post-Labor Day through Columbus Day – Open Tuesday through Sunday
11:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Casual attire, BYOB establishment. They do not split checks (so if you’re going in a large group, plan accordingly). Lobster prices vary seasonally; expect to pay an upcharge compared to grocery stores in Maine (we paid ~$15/lb, compared to ~$6/lb in stores). The view, fun atmosphere, and convenience make the extra cost worth it.

Chauncey Creek is a fun place to eat that features an unpretentious atmosphere and lobster fresh from the sea. If you want to experience Maine local color and some seriously delicious seafood, try Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier. You won’t be disappointed!

If you’re craving lobster and can’t get to Maine in the near future, here’s a French recipe for Lobster Thermidor—a very different cooking style from the lobster at Chauncey Creek, but good nonetheless.  Also, because the cooked lobster meat is combined with cheese, wine, and breadcrumbs, the lobsters need not be straight from the sea.

If you have any lobster recipes or restaurant recommendations, let me know in the comments.

If you want to read a fictional book about the lobster community in Maine, I highly recommend The Ghost Trap by K. Stephens. I really like that the book shows us a side of Maine rarely seen. It’s about a community of lobstermen who risk their lives and souls everyday on the formidable sea. It shows the struggle, fear, and stress of relying on the bounties of the sea for survival, but more importantly it explores the nature of man and the psychological cloaks and motivations one uses to get by. It’s a tragic story of love and loyalty, humor and sadness, and friends and family.

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Canal House Lentils, Teriyaki Shiitake Mushrooms, and Kale with Sesame Oil

Canal House Lentils, Teriyaki Shiitake Mushrooms, and Kale with Sesame Oil

Canal House Lentils, Teriyaki Shiitake Mushrooms, and Kale with Sesame Oil

Corey wanted us to try incorporating three days of vegetarian meals into our weekly diet in an effort to eat healthier and be more environmentally conscious (fruits and vegetables produce more calories per unit of energy expended in the production thereof). This hasn’t been nearly as challenging as I expected. There are so many flavorful vegetarian dishes out there, and I’m enjoying experimenting with new recipes and styles of cooking!

One of our favorite vegetarian meals—Canal House lentils, teriyaki shiitake mushrooms, and kale with sesame oil—was in the January 2014 issue of Bon Appétit (the same issue that featured this wonderfully spicy pork and mustard green soup). Most cooking magazines’ January releases feature healthy, low-calorie food to cater to those making diet-related New Year’s resolutions.

I often look at these issues askance. This isn’t because I dislike healthy cooking, but rather because I believe that taste should come first, and all too often it seems that these recipes sacrifice flavor for health. However, Bon Appétit got it right with this issue: the dishes pack in the flavor while remaining healthy and nutritious.

Canal House Lentils, teriyaki shiitake mushrooms, and kale

Canal House lentils, teriyaki shiitake mushrooms, and kale with sesame oil is an Asian-fusion meal drawing inspiration from Japanese breakfasts, which tend to be savory and satisfying. I typically cook this meal for dinner, but I do sometimes eat the leftovers for breakfast; it’s so tasty, why not?

The lentils’ flavor comes from sautéed garlic and leek, tomato paste, and soy sauce. The tomato paste adds richness to the dish, while the soy sauce adds saltiness to the earthy lentils. The teriyaki mushrooms are made with shiitakes—my favorite kind of mushroom. They’re gently cooked over medium heat until tender, then tossed in teriyaki sauce. This results in deliciously sweet and savory mushrooms.

The kale is very simple to prepare. Just combine olive oil and sesame oil in a large wok or skillet over medium heat. Then add the prepared kale; season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for 7-10 minutes. The kale will be tender but will still retain some of its lovely texture. Kale is a nutritional powerhouse, with tons of vitamins and minerals, so it’s a great green to cook with. I can’t get enough of kale these days! You can also put it in soups, make it into chips, or simply sauté it.

All the components of this meal complement each other very nicely: the soft, sweet mushrooms with the earthy lentils and the slightly bitter kale with sesame oil. I usually serve this meal with a side of white rice (feel free to substitute brown or yellow rice if preferred) so that it will offer complete protein. Canal House lentils, teriyaki shiitake mushrooms, and kale with sesame oil is easy to prepare, healthy, and most importantly, tasty!

If you’re looking for other yummy but healthy vegetarian options, check out this Korean mixed rice bowl with bean sprouts or this kimchi fried rice.

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Canal House Lentils

From magazine Slightly adapted from Bon Appétit
Canal House lentils are flavored with garlic and leek, tomato paste, and soy sauce. The finished dish is rich, savory, salty, and earthy.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Medium leek (white and pale green parts only, finely chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Optional

  • thinly sliced scallions (for garnish)

Note

Lentils can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Directions

Step 1
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add leek, garlic, and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and tomato paste begins to darken, about 4 minutes. Add lentils and 2½ cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, 45–55 minutes.
Step 2
Remove from heat and let sit, covered, 10 minutes; add soy sauce and season with salt and pepper. Serve lentils topped with scallions, if desired.

Kale with Sesame Oil

From magazine slightly adapted from Bon Appétit
Kale with sesame oil is simple and delicious. Kale is a nutritional powerhouse, with tons of vitamins and minerals, so it’s a great green to cook with.

Ingredients

  • 2 Bunches kale (ribs and stems removed, leaves torn)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Teaspoons sesame oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Optional

  • sesame seeds (for garnish)

Note

* Kale can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.

* Sesame oil will become bitter if it gets too hot, so cook over gentle heat.

Directions

Step 1
Rinse kale; shake dry, leaving some water clinging. Heat olive and sesame oils in a large skillet over medium heat. Add kale; season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, tossing occasionally, until just tender, 7–10 minutes. Garnish with sesame seeds, if using.

Canal House Teriyaki Sauce

Serves Makes about 2 1/2 cups
From magazine Bon Appétit
Canal House teriyaki sauce is easy to prepare and requires only 3 ingredients found in most grocery stores. It's great on mushrooms, chicken, and fish.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup mirin
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

Note

Teriyaki sauce can be made 1 month ahead. Store airtight and chill.

Directions

Step 1
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 40–50 minutes; let cool.

Teriyaki Shiitake Mushrooms

From magazine slightly adapted from Bon Appétit
The teriyaki shiitake mushrooms are gently cooked until tender, then tossed in teriyaki sauce. This results in deliciously sweet and savory mushrooms.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 Ounces shiitake mushrooms (stems removed)
  • 1/4 cup Canal House teriyaki sauce (or store bought teriyaki sauce)

Note

* Mushrooms can be made 5 days ahead; cover and chill.

* The mushrooms are not salted as they cook—this is intentional. The teriyaki sauce they’re tossed in adds plenty.

Directions

Step 1
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook, tossing occasionally, until tender and golden brown, 8–10 minutes.
Step 2
Add 2 Tbsp. water to skillet and cook, tossing mushrooms occasionally, until water is evaporated and mushrooms are tender, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer mushrooms to a medium bowl and toss with teriyaki sauce.

Dumpling King – North Miami Beach, FL

Green Onion Cake at Dumpling King Miami

Green Onion Cake with a Sweet and Spicy Sauce at Dumpling King

Dumpling King was our last restaurant adventure in Miami before returning to Chicago. It came highly recommended by one of Corey’s colleagues and fellow foodies, so we were eager to squeeze it in before we left. We’re so glad that we did! We’d been craving some authentic Chinese food (which there isn’t much of in Miami), and this sure hit the spot.

From the outside, Dumpling King didn’t look too impressive; it’s located in a strip mall in which building repairs were underway. But we didn’t let that stop us, and neither should you! After all, one of my favorite restaurants, Raku in Las Vegas, is located in a strip mall. I still dream of their homemade tofu and crispy shrimp, and I can’t wait to go back to Las Vegas to eat at Raku (among other things).

The day that we went to Dumpling King was a real scorcher, and when we arrived I was craving a refreshing beverage. Luckily, they had a wide selection of bubble teas: sweetened teas with tapioca pearls. I ordered the pineapple green tea. It was the perfect drink for a hot summer day, and I loved the cute panda graphics on the cup!

We started off with the green onion pancakes. They were crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. The dish was served with a sweet-and-spicy dipping sauce that paired well with the mild green onion pancake.

Fried Fresh Pak Choi with Mushrooms at Dumpling King

           Fried Pak Choi with Mushrooms and Green Onion Cake at Dumpling King

We then ordered the fried pak choi (bok choy) with mushrooms. The  name is deceiving, as the baby pak choi is sautéed rather than fried. I think this method of cooking is preferable, since it lets the natural flavors of the vegetables shine. The pak choi was the perfect texture: tender yet still somewhat firm. The mushrooms soaked up the delicious cooking sauce, so when you bit into the mushrooms, flavors of garlic, soy, and ginger were released.

Pork and Celery Boiled Dumplings at Dumpling King

             Pork and Celery Boiled Dumplings with Fried Pak Choi and Mushrooms

Of course, a trip to Dumpling King wouldn’t be complete without an order of dumplings! But this is where the language barrier caused a mix-up (the server spoke very little English, a testament to the establishment’s popularity with Chinese residents of Miami), so read on to get the inside scoop. Our friend had recommended the soup dumplings (also known as xiao long bao). Soup dumplings are made by wrapping chilled gelatinous broth into a dumpling skin; when they are heated, the inside defrosts and becomes soup. This results in a truly remarkable dumpling experience—or so I’m told, as I have yet to try them.

We did not see “soup dumplings” or xiao long bao on the menu. We asked the server if they had soup dumplings, and she pointed to the soups on the menu. We tried explaining that we didn’t want soup, but rather dumplings that contained soup. She said that they didn’t have that, but fear not—they do! They’re just listed on the menu as “Shanghai Style Steamed Dumplings.”

Not knowing this at the time, we ordered pork and celery boiled dumplings. The dumplings came out piping hot. The dough was fresh and the filling was hearty. The quantity was quite impressive for the price: 12 generous dumplings for $6.50!

This is a great restaurant for authentic Chinese food, especially dumplings. It would be a good casual spot to visit with friends or family (they also do take-out). What it lacks in atmosphere and location it makes up for in tastiness!

Dumpling King's Menu North Miami Beach

Dumpling King’s Menu

Menu Dumpling King North Miami Beach

 Dumpling King’s Menu cont.

Info about visiting Dumpling King:

Address:

237 NE 167th St

North Miami Beach, FL 33162

Phone: (305) 654-4008

Hours: 11 AM – 9 PM, seven days a week

Cost for entrée: $6.99 – $12.99

If you’re in Miami and want some tasty Chinese cuisine, check out Dumpling King! If you do, tell your story in a comment here.

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White Truffle Oil Mac and Cheese

white truffle oil mac and cheese

White Truffle Oil Mac and Cheese with Rosemary

My first experience with truffle mac and cheese was at Clusters & Hops, an excellent restaurant in Tallahassee that features unique dishes like Parmesan-crusted ostrich filet and espresso-crusted filet mignon with wild mushrooms and Cognac caramelized onions. But my favorite dish of theirs (and one of their signature dishes) is truffle mac and cheese. A blend of cheeses and truffle oil–the exact varieties and proportions of which they jealously guard–gives it a silky smooth texture, a wonderfully intoxicating truffle taste, and leaves you craving more as soon as you take the last bite.

When we moved from Tallahassee to Chicago, I set out to re-create this dish in my own kitchen. I thought it might help us survive Chicago’s brutal winters. I’ve played around with many different recipes since then and I’ve finally found a winner–one that approaches the truffle oil mac and cheese found at Clusters & Hops.

My white truffle oil mac and cheese is made with equal parts Parmesan and fontina cheese. The parmesan is sharp and earthy, while the fontina is soft, creamy, and tangy. Combined, they work wonders on the palate. But the truffle oil is what really takes this dish to the next level. Its intense aroma and earthy flavors make this a truly indulgent meal. A fresh rosemary garnish finishes the dish and make the luxuriant flavors pop.

A Note about Truffle Oil

Much controversy surrounds truffle oil; some chefs love it, others abhor it. Let’s take a look at the reasons for this polarization. First, truffles are the most expensive food in the world, with the European white truffle selling for as much as $3600/pound. Truffles are thus a coveted commodity in the cooking world, but many restaurant-goers cannot afford to pay for the “real thing,” so chefs turn to truffle oil to capture the flavors and aromas of truffles.

The reason some chefs scorn truffle oil is because most truffle oil is chemically synthesized, without the use of any actual truffles. It’s made with a chemical called 2,4 dithiapentane, which is the primary component that gives truffles their aromatic smell. However, there are some truffle oils made with actual truffles. You can tell if truffle oil is made from truffles or with 2,4 dithiapentane by checking the ingredient label. If you see “truffle aroma” or “truffle essence,” it’s chemically made.

Personally,  I like truffle oil and believe it allows people to experience the taste of truffles without the prohibitive expense. So if you want to try a truly delicious meal, try this truffle oil mac and cheese!

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White Truffle Oil Mac and Cheese

Serves 6-8
Meal type Main Dish
Website adapted from Instructables
This white truffle oil mac and cheese is made with Parmesan and fontina. The truffle oil's intense aroma and earthy flavors tastes delicious.

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups heavy cream
  • 9 Ounces dried short pasta (should yield about 4 1/2 cups cooked pasta)
  • 3 Tablespoons white truffle oil
  • salt (to taste)
  • 8 Ounces fontina cheese (freshly grated)
  • 8 Ounces Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
  • 3/4 cups panko bread crumbs

Optional

  • chopped fresh rosemary

Directions

Step 1
Put a large pot of water on to boil. Once boiling, add a liberal amount of salt and pasta; cook according to package instruction until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Step 2
While the pasta is boiling, butter a 9 by 13 inch baking dish.
Step 3
In a large saucepan, bring the cream to a boil over medium heat. Once it comes to a boil, cook for an additional 30 seconds.
Step 4
Add the pasta, truffle oil, and salt to the cream, and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Step 5
Add both cheeses and stir until the cheese is just melted. If the consistency seems too thin, just add more cheese. If it seems too thick, add more cream.
Step 6
Pour the pasta mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top.
Step 7
Broil until brown, about 2 minutes.
Step 8
Remove from oven. Top with the fresh rosemary. Serve and enjoy!

Coconut Cupcakes with Chocolate-Sriracha Ganache

Coconut Cupcakes with Chocolate-Sriracha Ganache

Coconut Cupcakes with Chocolate-Sriracha Ganache

I love cupcakes, but not as much as my sister Sadie. She’s a cupcake fiend! She visited me in Miami over the Fourth of July weekend, and there were two things that she absolutely had to do before leaving Miami: go jet-skiing and make cupcakes.

Jet skiing was an adventure—at some points I wasn’t sure that we were going to survive! I’d never driven a jet ski before, and at first it was scary. It’s easier to steer at high speeds, but to go that fast is intimidating. So I started out really slow, which made my steering horrendous.

But Sadie egged me on. I found this quite hilarious, as I’m partly to blame for her adventurous nature—I took her on an inverted rollercoaster when she was 5 years old. She loved it and laughed the whole time!

My sister’s fearless nature inspired me to go fast. I summoned the inner Klingon in me and said, “Today is a good day to die.” I squeezed the gas and we flew. It was smooth sailing from there. Sometimes you have to embrace adventure!

Our cupcakes, while not as adrenaline-packed, were an adventure in and of themselves. It can be challenging to create recipes, but never let fear get in the way of your creativity. Sadie wanted to make a cupcake that had an unexpected ingredient or unusual flavor, and so our chocolate-Sriracha ganache was born. But what kind of cupcake would go well with this?

We didn’t want to make chocolate cupcake base because the ganache needed to stand out from the cupcake itself. So we decided on sweet coconut cupcakes as a cool counterpoint to Sriracha’s mild heat.

The coconut cupcakes are moist and sweet. We used coconut milk, instead of water or regular milk, to enhance the coconut flavor. We also added sweetened coconut in the batter. For the ganache, we used Ghirardelli’s 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate. This resulted in a dark chocolate bittersweet taste accented with a hint of warmth from the Sriracha.

If you’re up for the adventure, try out these coconut cupcakes with chocolate-srircaha ganache. They’re out of the ordinary but very good.

Coconut Cupcakes with Chocolate-Sriracha Ganache image

Coconut Cupcakes with Chocolate-Sriracha Ganache Topped with Sweetened Coconut Flakes

Creators of the Coconut Cupcakes with Chocolate-Sriracha Ganache

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Coconut Cupcakes with Chocolate-Sriracha Ganache

Serves makes 12 cupcakes
By author Rosanna Bell and Sadie Shireman
These coconut cupcakes with chocolate-sriracha ganache are deliciously sweet with a hint of warmth. Be adventurous and try these coconut cupcakes!

Ingredients

cupcakes

  • 1 stick butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 Teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes (plus additional for garnish)

ganache

  • 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate (such as Ghirardelli’s 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate)

ganache (Optional)

  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha

Directions

Cupcakes
Step 1
Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with baking cups.
Step 2
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar using an electric beater over medium-high speed, for 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until fully incorporated. Mix in the coconut milk.
Step 3
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Step 4
Slowly beat in the flour mixture into the wet mixture. Fold in the shredded coconut flakes.
Step 5
Spoon batter into cupcake tins.
Step 6
Bake cupcakes, rotating the pans halfway through, 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack. Allow cupcakes to cool to room temperature.
Ganache
Step 7
While the cupcakes are cooling, make the ganache: bring the cream to a boil, remove from heat and add the chocolate. Let the chocolate sit in the cream for 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Add the Sriracha, if using. Let the ganache cool to room temperature.
Step 8
Dip the tops of the cupcakes into the ganache; if you want to, you can remove the cupcake wrappers before doing this. Turn the cupcakes right side up, sprinkle with coconut flakes if desired, and let the ganache cool for at least 5 minutes. Serve!

Apricot-Glazed Corned Beef with Kimchi

Apricot-Glazed Corned Beef with Kimchi and Potato Crisps

Apricot-Glazed Corned Beef with Kimchi and Potato Crisps

I really like authentic dishes that represent their native lands. But, I also like it when chefs fuse two disparate cuisines and pair them in an exciting way. This apricot-glazed corned beef with kimchi does just that.

I took the classic Irish-American corned beef and cabbage dish, and gave it a Korean twist. The corned beef is roasted slowly in the oven with ½ cup of kimchi juice (the red liquid that accumulates inside the kimchi container). This infuses the kimchi with a hint of spiciness; it’s subtle as corned beef has a very strong flavor on its own. If you don’t have easy access to kimchi, you can still make the apricot-glazed corned beef; just substitute water or beer for the kimchi juice. Slow-roasting the corned beef at a low temperature in the oven ensures the meat will be nice and tender.

When creating this dish, I wanted to showcase a variety of flavors: sweet, salty, tangy, and spicy. The corned beef is naturally salty. The sweet apricot glaze pairs perfectly with the corned beef. The tang and spice come from the kimchi, which is served alongside the corned beef. Take a bite of kimchi with the apricot-glazed corned beef and experience the flavors.

The apricot-glazed corned beef with kimchi is incredibly easy to make and requires hardly any preparation. The kimchi is already prepared when you buy it. Just put the corned beef and kimchi juice in a roasting pan, cover with foil and place in the oven. Bake 2 ½ hours, or until a fork easily pierces the meat. Remove the foil, drain the kimchi juice. Pour the glaze over the corned beef and bake for an additional 30 minutes, basting occasionally. Remove from the oven and allow the meat to rest for 25 minutes. Then serve with kimchi and potatoes. You can’t have corned beef without some form of potato!  It’s really that easy.

What are you waiting for? Go make this apricot-glazed corned beef with kimchi and let me know how you like it.

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Apricot-Glazed Corned Beef with Kimchi

Serves 6-8
By author Rosanna Bell
The apricot-glazed corned beef with kimchi is incredibly easy to make and requires hardly any preparation. The dish is sweet, salty, tangy, and spicy.

Ingredients

  • 1 3 to 4 lbs corned beef
  • 1/2 cup kimchi juice (the red liquid that accumulates inside the kimchi container)
  • 3-4 Cups kimchi
  • 1 cup apricot preserves
  • 4 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Teaspoons mustard powder

Note

You can find kimchi at some grocery stores and most Asian markets.

Directions

Step 1
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Remove corned beef from packaging. Place fat side up into a roasting pan. Pour kimchi juice over the corned beef. Add contents of spice package over the corned beef. Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 2 1/2 hours, basting occasionally.
Step 2
When the corned beef is nearly done, make the apricot glaze. Combine the apricot preserves and water in a microwaveable dish. Microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring in between, until the mixture combines. Mix in the mustard powder.
Step 3
Test the corned beef for doneness by inserting a fork into the meat. If the fork easily pierces the meat remove from the oven. Otherwise, continue cooking until it does. Remove the foil. Drain the kimchi juice and pan drippings. Pour the glaze over the corned beef and cook for an additional 30 minutes, basting twice.
Step 4
Remove the corned beef from the oven and let rest for 25-30 minutes. Slice the corned beef and serve with kimchi.