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Brooke Dojny

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  1. Ellen-- Have just been reading over my answers for the week and find that somehow the main part of my reply to you didn't get posted. Sorry about that! It's the same old sad tale, I'm afraid. I didn't find many CT seafood shacks at all, although I certainly remember a lot from my childhood years growing up along the CT shore. In East Norwalk, for example, we had Overton's, where I tasted my first fried clam, and never looked back. It's still there, but under new ownership, and kind of tired and worn. When I went back researching for the book, the clams tasted just like motor oil - and were shockingly overpriced, to boot. I could easily have missed some good ones further up the line. I did hear about a tiny place in Westbrook or Old Saybrook. Do you know it? Or do you know any others?
  2. Fifi-- You started a great debate! I wish I could help you! Jason says New England does shrimp boils, but he obviously is not a true Yankee. Jason - in New England, LOBSTER is king! The only shrimp caught fresh in New England waters are the tiny Maine shrimp that have a brief season in the winter. And, as a matter of fact, their thin, papery shells do make them hard to peel. All other shrimp we buy here is frozen - and most have thick shells that just kind of slip off. Some fish markets around here are have started doing this wonderful thing of slicing part way through the shell and rinsing out the vein, which also has the added benefit of making them even easier to peel, either raw or cooked. Your shrimp boil tradition sounds fabulous! I've always wanted to go to one. Enjoy it, and just be thankful that your get get 'em that fresh! Brooke Dojny
  3. Dear Vengroff-- I sent you a long (brilliant!) reply earlier this week, but it was early in my navigation of the web site and apparently it didn't post. So sorry! No, I never heard of Venus and unfortunately have no information on whether it might have relocated. I searched in vain for a real chowder house or clam shack in the Boston area, and came up empty handed - though I certainly could have missed something good. I heard that the No Name used to be great, but had slipped in recent years, so I didn't visit it. So many great places have gone the way of the Venus - doomed by developers, either governmental or capitalistic - and its especially likely to happen, of course, in an urban area. That's one reason I wrote this book - to champion the cause of the little guys who hang on in spite of those kinds of obstacles!
  4. Heyjude-- I have been researching this question for years and have yet to come up with the reason that top-split buns are an only-in-New England specialty. Does anyone out there have an answer? And if nothing definitive, can anyone speculate? This could be fun!
  5. Pat-- Such a sad story...but an example of the kind of refeshingly honest reporting that thrives on the internet but is somewhat lacking in the print media. Thanks from all of us for the advice.
  6. Hi SWoody-- I wrote that little book on New Orleans because I had been doing another in their "Best of..." series for a packager, and he happened to mention one day that was looking for someone to do "Best of New Orleans," and I volunteered, thinking I was semi-qualified because I'd spent a lot of time eating down there and loved that food and thought I knew it reasonably well. Besides, they only wanted 50 recipes, and just the classics. Otherwise, I've stuck lately to my two specialties - New England and quickly-cooked recipes. although earlier in my writing career I did some books with kind of generel subject matter. I felt like to right person to do New England initially based solely on having spent most of my life here - and then when I started traveling and researching in earnest for The New England Cookbook, I found out how much I didn't know! That's why writing about food is so fascinating - always something new to learn. In general, I think the best food and recipe writing comes from people who live in a given region.
  7. Dear Life in the Kitchen-- Love your moniker. That's where I spend my life, too, and I'm very happy there. Except I'm also very happy when I'm licking my fingers after a great meat at a New England clam shack, lobster pound, or (good) chowder house. Some very good friends of mine lived in Brewster for years and they still talk about the Eastham Lobster Pool and have fond stories of a couple of old Yankees who ran it. Those "pools" or "pounds" have so much to do with happy summer memories that it seems whichever place you associate with sweet summer moments is your favorite. I heard about Arnold's when I was doing my Cape research. Some people said it was still good - others that it had slipped and had become shockingly overprices. Do you have an opinion? Thank you for writing in - and I apologize for not responding much sooner!
  8. Jason-- Sure, that would be fine to post the recipe. It is definitely the coating I'd choose for oysters. But if Suzanne prefers a batter, I'd suggest whisking beer into a seafood fry mix, such as GoldenDipt (see my book, page 15) until it's about the consistency of ranch dressing. After dipping the oysters in the batter, let as much drip off as possible before immersing in the hot fat.
  9. Fried Clams (From the New England Clamshack Cookbook) Serves 4 as Appetizer. Reprinted with permission from The New England Clamshack Cookbook by Brooke Dojny, 2003 Vegetable Oil or solid white shortening for frying, such as Crisco 2-1/2 pt shucked, medium-sized whole-belly soft-shell clams 1-1/2 c evaporated milk 1-1/2 c yellow corn flour 3/4 c pastry flour, cake flour or all-purpose flour tartar sauce lemon wedges 1. Heat the oil or shortening over medium heat in a deep fryer or heavy, deep pot until it reaches 350 degrees F. 2. Rinse the clams gently if they are muddy, and dry on paper towels. 3. Pour the evaporated milk into a large bowl. In another large bowl, stir together the corn flour and pastry flour. 4. Using your hands, drip about one third of the clams into the milk, letting the excess liquid drain off. Dredge the clams in the flour mixture, using your hands to make sure each clam is evenly coated. Transfer to a colander or large strainer and shake gently to remove the excess flour. 5. Slide the clams into the hot fat and deep-fry until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the size of the clams. (Cooked clams can be kept warm in a slow oven while you finish the remaining frying.) 6. Serve with tartar sauce and lemon wedges. Keywords: Seafood, Appetizer, American ( RG468 )
  10. Hi Jonathan Day-- Sorry not to have responded sooner. I'm just getting used to this format! I agree that with lobster, simple is usually best. But it is fun to mess around with them occasionally - especially if you have a source for cheap lobster. Lobster stew is one of my favorite lobster dishes. I favor the simple kind - basically just lobster, rich milk, butter, and paprika - but I like to infuse the liquid with more flavor by brewing up a lobster stock with the bodies, including the tomalley. And baked stuffed lobster makes a fabulous, flashy statement, and can be really good if it's not made with too many breadcrumbs. There's a wonderful recipe for baked stuffed from Lincolnville Lobster Pound in Maine in my New England Clam Shack Cookbook.
  11. Hi Jason-- Okay, whole belly fried clams: 1. Essex Seafood, Essex, MA 2. The Clam Box, Ipswich, MA 3. The Clam Shack, Kennebunkport, ME 4. Captain Frosty's, Dennis, MA 5. Cod End Cookhouse, Tenant's Harbor, ME
  12. Hi Bux-- Your comments are precisely why I wrote the NE Clam Shack Cookbook. Homogenization is the enemy! Vive la difference! Give me a humble little clam shack, lobster pound, or chowder house any day over pretentious restaurants with over-priced mediocre food! Use my book as your guide, and add to the list with your own favorite places you find along the route.
  13. I'm not by any means an expert on dispatching lobsters! I mostly follow Jasper White's advice, in his excellent book called Lobster At Home. The one thing I've tried that makes it a little easier on the killer (I mean cook) is trowing them in the freezer for about 15 minutes before cooking. That numbs them just enough so the critters don't thrash around nearly so much when you put them in the pot. Although in truth, I used to really mind the thrashing but have gotten so callous that now it doesn't seem to bother me so much! (I suppose we'll hear from PETA now...)
  14. Ellen-- Forgot to say that I did find one great clam shack, The Sea Swirl, in Mystic, CT.
  15. Hi Chris-- Glad to hear you've been enjoying some of the under-appreciated pleasures of Down East eating! No, I've never had the opportunity (not even the remotest desire, I have to confess) of sampling any colors of lobster except good old fashioned red, white, and green (that's the tomally, of course - another under-appreciated subject.)
  16. Dear Suzanne-- I've often wondered the same thing! And when I was researching The New England Clam Shack Cookbook I actually had a devil of a time finding places that sold any oysters at all - raw, stewed, or fried (or deviled, for that matter!) Do you think it has to do with expense? That maybe most of the good farmed oysters get shipped to Boston or New York restaurants? Maybe someone else has an opinion on this.
  17. Dear Swissmiss Anne-- Thanks for your interest! If I had to choose favorites (and it's like favoring one child over another - not nice and not fair, but here goes) - I'd have to say it would be my New England Cookbook (Harvard Common, 1999) and this new Clam Shack book (Storey, 2003). After writing the Every-Night Cooking column in Bon Appetit for about 12 years, Melanie Barnard and I have developed something of a specialty in quick main courses (30 minutes or less), and that's a fun challenge, but my heart belongs to New England. Book topics get chosen all kinds of ways - an author can have an idea, his/her agent can think of something or hear of something that the author might like to do, or publisher can come up with a subject that they think would be marketable. In that case, the'd try to match it with the right writer.
  18. Hi Fat Guy-- I have no scientific data to back up my opinions, but here they are, for what they're worth: I have had great lobsters from waters off all of New England - never eaten Canadian or North Carolinian creatures. It could be my imagination but I do believe that lobsters who have spent their lives in colder waters taste better - and that, of course, means Maine waters. Maybe it's not the cold - maybe the rocky, less muddy bottom? This goes againt most common wisdom, but I happen to prefer soft-shell lobsters, which are mostly caught in the summer months. To my palate, they taste sweeter, and I'll sacrifice that for the more-meat-per-pound in hard-shells. Also hard-shells can really give you a nasty cut when you're trying to pry the meat out! Size-wise, I've never noted any taste differences. "Pounding" (empoundment in salt water storage) is fine if the pound is of sufficient size. However, lobsters that spend more than a couple of weeks in a tank in a fish market lose that ocean tang and sometimes develop off flavors.
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