Hello my friends – yes, it’s been awhile since my last post! How I wish I could wax poetic about the six-month sabbatical I took journeying through Africa, the coast of Spain, and the French Riviera. Alas, that is not the case. But I’m back at my computer and stocked with some great San Diego dining and recreation tips, a few new savory recipes, and thoughts on my adventures to some pretty special places right here in the U.S. of A.
First of all, today is National Picnic Day, and what better way to celebrate Spring 2016 than packing a picnic and heading out to your favorite park, lake or beach – even your own backyard? And although Mother Nature surely confused April with August these past few weeks in San Diego (GAWD it’s been HOT!), the coastal breezes have kicked back in and temps are back in the 70s where we love ’em. Another superb reason to celebrate National Picnic Day.
Menu inspiration: I found a trio of lobster tails at my local market yesterday. And yes, it’s a bit early for corn on the cob, but I actually “eyed a few nice looking ears” (LOL), dropped them in my basket with the lobster, grabbed a crate of freshly picked strawberries, and made my way back to the kitchen…
So-Cal Style Lobster Rolls
(Makes about 6 rolls)
- 1 lb. cooked lobster meat, cut into 1/2” dice
- 1/2 lb. cooked bay shrimp
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1-1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- J2 tsp. finely chopped tarragon leaves
- Juice and zest of one lemon (separated into separate bowls)
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
- 12-15 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Pinch of Old Bay or seafood seasoning
- 2 ripe avocados
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 2 Tablespoons melted butter
- 6 french rolls or hot dog buns, halved lengthwise
- Snipped chives, for garnish
- Tabasco sauce (completely optional)
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the mayonnaise, a tablespoon of lemon juice, dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, and tarragon. Season to taste with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
In a large bowl, combine the lobster meat, celery, cherry tomatoes, grated lemon zest, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Fold in the mayonnaise mixture and gently mix just until all ingredients are sufficiently blended. Season to taste with kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, Old Bay seasoning, and additional lemon juice if needed.
Scoop the pulp from the avocados into a small bowl. Add tablespoon or two of the remaining lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Using a pastry cutter (or a fork), smash the mixture until chunky, cover, and set aside.
Brush both sides of the rolls with melted butter and grill in a skillet over medium heat until evenly browned.
Spread the top of each roll with smashed avocado and a few butter lettuce pieces. Spoon a hefty helping of the lobster filling onto the bottom half of rolls, garnish with the chives and a few drops of Tabasco sauce (if using), and serve.
Cook’s Notes: I used a blend of lobster and bay shrimp for expanded flavor; however, a pound and a half of just lobster meat can also be substituted. The salad can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Naturally, a picnic must be comprised of a bit more than a few lobster rolls, right? I brushed a little melted butter on the corn and sprinkled a bit of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper on each ear. Then I rolled them up individually in foil and set them on a hot grill for about 15 minutes, turning them a every few minutes to make sure they were evenly cooked. YUM!
The lobster rolls with avocado and tarragon dressing along with the grilled corn make for sweet goodness; however, a little saltiness is needed to bring savory harmony to this meal. Easy solution – crispy potato chips doused in sea salt and balsamic vinegar.
Bring along a chilled bottle of Landmark Vineyards Overlook Chardonnay and a drool-worthy strawberry pizza, and this picnic will surely bring memories of delicious food, delightful company, and a warm April afternoon which undoubtedly ends in a spectacular sunset. Now get out there and enjoy the fresh spring air, my friends!