Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Anegada, lobster rolls

Island of Splendor

Anegada, in the British Virgin Islands, is 10 miles long, 2-1/2 miles wide and it's highest point is only 28 feet. Named by the Spanish, Anegada translates to "drowned island".

This is the only coral island in the group, the rest of the BVI's are volcanic. It was a favorite haunt of the pirates years ago and is home to many ship wrecks.

The island is remote and beautiful, and the home of Horsehoe Reef, one of the largest coral reefs in the world. You can see the reef in the photo above, as it breaks the waves of the mighty Atlantic and protects Loblolly Bay, a snorkeling paradise.

We visited Anegada by boat, you can also fly to the island. There is a small hotel and several restaurants and shops on the island, the poplulation is around 200 people.

As we disembarked, the first thing we saw were these lucious piles of conch meat just seperated from the shell, and this trap full of langoustines, a clawless, less-oily cousin to the lobster or shrimp.

This amazing sight brought to mind a favorite lobster roll recipe. The recipe is at the end of this post.




















Langostines are often barbequed in modified fuel barrels like these in front of the Anegada Reef Hotel. Fried conch fritters are a specialty of the region.





We didn't make it to the Flash of Beauty restaurant and bar, but loved their weathered sign.
An open air taxi took us across the island to The Big Bamboo beach club on Loblolly Bay, a wonderful place to while away a day.

One can lounge in a hammock in the sea grape trees or beneath one of the many umbrellas along the beach.


















We chose an umbrella and went in for a snorkel, the waters are abounding in colorful fish, coral gardens and sea turtles.

The open air bar at The Big Bamboo is covered with driftwood signs.
















For years, visitors have used a magnifying glass to burn their messages onto found pieces of driftwood and then posted their signs in the bar.





The langoustines could not be fresher, they are simply served with melted butter, macaroni salad and vegetables.










Here is the keeper of the langoustine trap, located just yards from the kitchen.



















Your author with a prime specimen.


























After a fully satisfying day we hopped back on the boat and headed "home".
















A simple lobster roll on a summer day is perfection on a paper plate. Here's how they're made:

Lobster Rolls

This recipe will serve 2-4 people, you can increase ingredients proportionally if you're lucky enough to have more lobster! No lobster? Not to worry, crabs or prawns will work too!

combine:
2 cups of lobster chunks
2 Tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons chopped celery
1 Tablespoon chopped tarragon (or chives, or parsley)
4 Tablespoons butter, melted

Brush melted butter onto a hot dog bun or brioche roll. Toast the bread in a skillet until golden brown on the cut side. Dress the bun with a little shredded lettuce and then pile on the lobster mixture!

Delightful with a glass of fresh squeezed lemonade.









Now, where's that langoustine I put in my suitcase???















Click on the name of the island for more information on Anegada.

For a printable version of this recipe, click on the foodista widget below.

Lobster Rolls on FoodistaLobster Rolls

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Splendid Hamper

Beach Towel Blues

A few years ago, I invested in a dozen french blue beach towels to create a color coordinated look by the lake. This year, when the sun threatened to shine, I pulled out my beach towels, and realized I no longer have any of those towels, not a single one!!  Instead, I own a collection of towels, that display a random mix of colors and patterns.   Not quite the aesthetic I had envisioned, but I decided I needed to make it work.

When I came across this collapsible "Rio" storage hamper at Cost Plus World Market I knew I had found the solution to my beach towel blues.  Look what a difference it makes when these towels are tucked away in the bag.  

This hamper will be an out of sight way to store the towels year round.  It would also be great for stowing pillows, off season bedding or throw blankets. 

I love the beachy look of the bag, and the fact that  it's made of from 60-70% recycled polypropylene.  The hamper is very lightweight, and the sturdy nylon handles allow one to tote a load with ease.  A wooden toggle secures the flap. At $17.99 each I bought a few extras.







When not in use the hamper folds down and is completely flat.

It serves nicely as a puppy mat too.

The bags are also available in black, red and purple, click on World Market for more information.  Braque du Bourbonnais puppies are available from Elk Run Kennels.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Haviland

and honeysuckles...

I'll never forget the day, almost two decades ago, when I visited a local auction house and found an irregular set of antique white scalloped Haviland china, painted with gold rims.  The set included approximately 8 place settings, along with a few serving dishes.   Next to it was a stack of a dozen newer, less ornate Haviland plates, with a patterned gold band.   I placed my bids and went on to my next appointment.  All afternoon, I regretted not bidding higher.  When I finally had a chance to call the auction house, I was thrilled to learn that I had "won" both lots.  I felt I was "set" for life!!
 
 

Later in life, after I was married, I learned that someone in my husbands' family had loved this white Haviland pattern also.  I was fortunate enough to inherit a larger set of this Haviland pattern, minus the painted gold border.   The best part of this addition was all of the lovely platters and the elegant tureens, shown in the photos above and below.
Haviland is made in Limoge, France.  Limoge is one of the few places in the world where there is the natural clay "kaolin", which produces this delicate, almost translucent, white porcelain.  I love the elegant simplicity of this pattern, the pieces complement, but never compete with the appearance of the food.   I am always curious about the background of my particular pieces, it is evident that they have been well used and cared for over the years.  This unknown history makes me cherish them even more.  To learn the interesting history of this company click on Haviland.

It is traditional to register for brand new china and silver before being married. For those of you in this stage of life, if you "love the hunt", and things with a little history, maybe think of going to auctions and flea markets, where you can find beautiful, elegant china settings, and silver as well, with a rich patina and at great prices. It's just a notion, but how about saving the registration for fabulous new knives and fantastic pots and pans?

Over the years, I've continued to add to my collection of white and gold china, made by Haviland and other brands.  Thoughtful friends have kept an eye out for pieces as well, what a treat it is, to receive an unusual, white and gold treasure as a gift.  The other day, I visited a local "broccante" and was so happy to come across this supplemental package.


As much as I love the idea of serving a perfectly clear and satisfying consommé in these cups, how lovely to decorate the table with consommés filled with honeysuckles?

Years ago, I planted Honeysuckle vines to soften the view of our wooden play structure and to provide a sweet treat for the children.   My, how that Honeysuckle has thrived!  A natural "wall" from the garden store was used to "thatch" the roof of the play structure.


I love clipping the buds and distributing Honeysuckles around the house for all to enjoy their rich, honey fragrance.



I couldn't resist this intriguing little smokers set I found at an estate sale.   The set became functional when I found matches that fit perfectly as refills into the "La Petite" boxes which fit these matchbox holders in a little grocery in the Galapagos Islands.   It is always fun to have these set up outside with a selection of digestives and a blazing fire pit after a dinner party.

The gold tipped, rainbow cigarettes are called "NAT'S" (for natural tobacco -- they are available at better smoke shops).

What do you like to collect??

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How to subscribe to Splendid Market..

Not a subscriber yet?  Here is how you can become one, for free:

In the upper right hand corner of the home page you'll see a box where you can enter your email address. Once you enter your address, click on "subscribe". Then, you'll be asked to type in the spam prevention letters; after that, click on "complete subscription request". Next, Feedburner will send a confirmation notice to your email address. This confirmation may go to your spam, so check there if you don't receive something from Feedburner right away. Once you receive the confirmation notice, it just takes one click to confirm that you would like to receive future Splendid Market posts, and then you are all set. You can unsubscribe at any time (but I hope that you won't!)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Rhubarb Crisp

A Ruby Romance

By now, the shrivelled  rhubarb crowns I photographed in Switzerland, have surely grown into lovely, slender stalks of ruby rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) .  I’ve always loved rhubarb, especially those ruby red slender stalks, which share their crimson shade so beautifully when cooked.

Rhubarb is a big, leafy plant, which grows 3-5 feet wide and tall. Though usually prepared like a fruit, it is actually a vegetable. It is usually grown for its edible stalks, but it makes a beautiful, dramatic, ornamental plant.  The fibrous stalks are a wonderful tart foundation for both sweet and savory dishes. The gigantic leaves contain a substance called oxalic acid crystals, which is quite toxic and can result in poisoning.

Growing up, we had a large rhubarb patch.   I used to love pushing back the gigantic green leaves to find a forest of bright red stalks to harvest.  We would chop up the rhubarb, add a few scoops of sugar and cook it for about five minutes until it was just tender, but still a little chunky.

This time of year, the rosy rhubarb stalks can be found in the markets. A Rhubarb Crisp is a delightfully east way to enjoy this unique, tart, flavorful delicacy.   This crisp recipe will serve you well all summer long. As the season goes on, replace the rhubarb with blueberries, blackberries, peaches, apricots, apples and/or pears.   It takes less than 15 minutes to put together, and it will emerge, bubbling from your oven in 55 minutes. Your home will smell divine.

Ingredients
serves 6

topping
1/2 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted

filling
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups sliced rhubarb (about 6 stalks)


Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon, toss together.

Pour in the butter and blend together until crumbly.


In a small bowl, mix together the egg, flour and vanilla.   Chop up rhubarb (we like to chop the rhubarb in irregular thicknesses, so there is a chunky-smooth texture to the crisp), place in a medium sized mixing bowl.   Pour the egg mixture in and stir until the rhubarb is evenly coated with egg mixture.


Spoon the rhubarb into a baking dish (we used an oval Le Creuset dish, the inside is 10 inches long). Lightly smooth the rhubarb mixture.


 Pour the oatmeal topping over the rhubarb and roughly smooth it (we like to leave some high points and low points, to create plenty of crunchy bits!)


Put it towards the back of the heated oven and turn the timer to 55 minutes (busy bees tip -- keep the timer with you! If you are doing something in another part of the house, you may not hear the bell. I've taken my timer in the car with me to run a quick errand before!!)



Remove the bubbly goodness from the oven and try to restrain yourself!



Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes ( I know, it's hard to wait, but it will be too soft if you don't).   Serve warm or at room temperature.   Add a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream if you desire.


Speaking of rhubarb...I visited a favorite restaurant in Kirkland, Washington (about a 30 minute drive from Seattle) called Cafe Juanita, a few weeks ago.   Cafe Juanita is a spectacular hidden gem of a restaurant focused on Northern Italian cuisine.  The innovative chef-owner, Holly Smith, has been a leader in quality cuisine in this area for years.  She seems to have quite a crush on rhubarb as well.   On our visit I ordered everything on the menu that contained rhubarb!

The culinary splendor began with a Rhubarb Bellini.  Champagne, mixed with a lightly sweetened rhubarb puree.



The first course was a salad of local organic arugula topped with slices of rhubarb that had been stewed in a simple syrup, thin slabs of foie gras and a Parmesan crisp.


Next, this lovely, succulent beef chop arrived, upon a puddle of savory, amber rhubarb sauce.

How could we possibly leave without trying the rhubarb sampler for dessert?
Here's a little sable with a zabaglione dollop, garnished with a beautiful curl of candied rhubarb.

This lovely little taste of rhubarb sorbet was served with a dark chocolate wafer, containing a colored white chocolate curly-cue design.

The white chocolate spoon with a golden vine-design provided a tasty platform for this rhubarb puree.
Now I must go running until rhubarb season is over!   Enjoy!

For a printable version of this recipe, click on the Foodista widget below:
Rhubarb Crisp Splendid on FoodistaRhubarb Crisp Splendid