There’s only so much fried food you can consume in a week, but I did my best to fill a year’s quota in seven short days. Fried clams, fried Pemaquid oysters, fried calamari, and of course, French fries by the plateful. A little coleslaw for balance. That’s mostly what’s on offer on the peninsulas that jut out all along the Maine coast like slender fingers. Lobster marinas and their attached dockside picnic tables proffer platters of boiled lobsters with coleslaw, sometimes with steamed clams, and if you’re lucky, corn on the cob. What’s not to like?
Yet there comes a time for a break. I had brought the remnants in my refrigerator in a cooler, just in case we were feeling too lazy to leave the cottage after a day of doing a whole lot of nothing. Well that day did come.
I started with the intention of making corn chowder since it requires only a few ingredients. We had local corn and potatoes….but Man of the House, not quite sated, thought lobster would add a nice touch, so he went down to the marina about half a mile away, and asked for a cooked lobster. By the time he dropped the $5.50 (!) for the lobster, I was well along with the rest of the soup.
You only need a large saucepan or small soup pot to make this, and most cottages, though poorly equipped, manage to provide a pot and a microwave. We made this for two, but ended up with enough for two meals.
Corn and/or seafood chowder recipe by the seat of your pants (Serves 2 to 4)
2 tablespoons butter
2 bunches of scallions, or 1 onion, chopped
2 handfuls of small potatoes, diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 ears of corn
1 one-and-a-half-pound cooked lobster, or clams, or fish (all optional)
1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the scallions or onions and sauté until soft. Add the diced potatoes, salt, pepper and enough water to barely cover the potatoes. Cook for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are soft. With a potato masher or spoon, break up some of the potatoes to add body to the soup.
2. Meanwhile, cook the unshucked corn in the microwave. Check out the how-to here on Simply Recipes (thanks, Elise.) Once the corn has cooled, slice off the kernels.
3. Set the cooked lobster in a colander over a bowl to catch the juices. Remove the meat and cut it into bite sized pieces. Add the juices that collect in the bowl to the soup pot.
4. Add the corn to the soup, and enough milk to your satisfaction. Bring it to a simmer and stir in the lobster.
Note: You can omit the seafood and enjoy plain ol’ corn chowder. If you want to use clams, steam them and add the steaming water to the pot. Shuck the clams and add them as you do the lobster above. Fish in chunks, shrimp, or scallops can all go into the pot when the milk heats up. Cook for a few minutes, or until seafood is done.
Here’s another recipe (I’m deluging you dear friends) that should go on your vacation menu. You can do it with or without the potatoes and tomatoes.
Roast potatoes and cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet, and after about fifteen minutes, pop the fish in the oven for a no-stress quick supper. Use whatever herbs you have on hand.
Salmon with summer herbs, potatoes, and tomatoes (Serves 4)
Oil for the baking sheet and baking dish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
3 scallions, finely sliced
1 pound small potatoes, halved
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 1/2 pounds salmon fillet
Juice of 1 lemon
1 lemon, quartered, for garnish
1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Oil a rimmed baking sheet and a large ceramic or glass baking dish.
2. In a small bowl, combine the dill, parsley, oregano, and scallions.
3. In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread on half of the baking sheet in a single layer.
4. In the same bowl, toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread on the second half of the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft and the potatoes are browned.
5. Meanwhile, in the baking dish, place the salmon with the flesh side up. Sprinkle with the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with the chopped herbs. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, or until the salmon is opaque in the center.
6. Transfer the fish to a platter and serve surrounded by tomatoes and potatoes.
And now for the vacation pictures. Wildflowers, docks, cottages, water views, rocky shorelines—all very cliché. What is a cliché other than a truism that has too often been repeated? Luckily, you can skip this part without hurting my feelings—I’ll never know!
Room with a view