An amazing number of new breweries have opened in Massachusetts in the past few years, and more just keep coming! Once I got over the kid-in-a-candy-store phase, it was time to start putting these beers to work in recipes. You can replace some or all the liquids in many of your favorite recipes with beer. Next time you make pulled pork, try adding IPA. A nice pilsner adds an herbaceous quality to chili. Brown Ale adds great depth of flavor to cheese sauce.
Sometimes, it's the little things that really make your palate pop.
The produce is gorgeous, the weather is warm, your wine or beer is chilled to perfection (right?!) and we bet you’ve been firing up the grill.
But one cannot live on charred meats alone. Sure, burgers and dogs are always in fashion, but there are summer foods to serve alongside the main meal that really take things to the next level. Think of these four foodstuffs as the designer socks, the red lip, the silk scarf to your summer spread — that little extra something that elevates the whole ensemble.
1. Nola’s salsa fresca (pictured above)
Why not be patriotic this holiday — with a red, white, and blue pie that’s bursting with berries?
Start by making a graham cracker crust. You can crush the graham crackers with a rolling pin inside a sturdy plastic bag, or whiz them in a food processor. If you will be making a lot of pies this summer with this crust, you can also buy graham crackers in crumb form. Or swap out your favorite not-too-sweet cookie for the crumbs.
Hibiscus flowers are the pretty little dried purple flowers that contribute the striking color in the popular Mexican beverage agua de Jamaica (aka hibiscus tea). When steeped in water, hibiscus flowers lend a cranberry-like tartness that's often tempered with a bit of sugar for a refreshingly sweet (but not too sweet) summer drink. I combined the deep purple hibiscus tea with lemonade for a tangy twist.
Chef Bill Nurse of Strip-T's in Watertown, was kind enough to share his recipe for this vegetarian-but-not-lacking-anything take on the banh mi sandwich. While it has a few distinct components, each is easy to accomplish and they come together in one stellar sandwich. It's great eaten immeditaely, but also perfect for picnicking because wrapping and transporting the sandwich gives the layers and flavors time to meld a little.
This make-ahead recipe comes from a book of such recipes from the editors at America's Test Kitchen. From meals you can make and freeze to "one grocery bag makes three dinners" — this book not only contains recipes, but strategies for getting dinner on the table on your schedule.
It’s only been five or six years that I've been obsessed with lobster rolls, but in that time, I've tried them all over New England. Lobster rolls differ from state to state, and a lot of people ask which version is the best. To me, there isn't really a clear winner. If you follow two main guidelines, your lobster rolls will be great!
1. Use really great lobster
2. Don’t mess with it too much
“Boston Style” lobster rolls are probably not recognized by many people as a regional variant of the lobster roll, but I'm using this term to encompass lobster rolls that have been elevated with different flavors or “cheffed up” at fancy restaurants. Sometimes chefs can go too far and actually take away from the lobster itself, but if they play a light hand, the results can be amazing. My version here uses butter and mayo as a base, and just some finely minced celery and chives to accentuate the natural lobster flavor.
Now we've reached the part where rule #2 starts getting interpreted differently by different people. The Rhode Island lobster roll, often known as the New England lobster roll, is the style most people are familiar with. Cold lobster is tossed with slices of celery, and then the whole thing is served on the traditional griddled buttered roll, but often a piece of lettuce is placed in between the lobster and the bun in an effort to prevent the bun from getting soggy.
On the other side of the region, but equally as simplistic, you have the Connecticut lobster roll. This is the only state where a lobster roll is usually warm, and not served in the traditional split top roll. A cavern is dug out of a torpedo roll and the lobster is tossed in butter only and stuffed inside. The sandwich is then cooked almost like a grilled cheese, pressed on each side to toast up and warm through.