Labor Day weekend was the first time that BOTH Miklos’s sons, Andrei and Alex, with BOTH their women, Deborah and Emily, along with cousin Noah, Deborah’s sister Candice, and assorted other family, were able to come together on Islesford. Put together a whole lot of people who love to eat, and to cook, one group who are coming from New York with access to all kinds of specialty items, a son who works as an organic farmer, and shares his bounty, and an ocean rich with lobsters, crabs, clams and mussels … and mealtimes become - well, something else.
So for last night’s dinner we started with crostini heaped with crab salad and topped with red pepper jelly. The crabs had come ashore with the remnants of Hurricane Irene. For an earlier dinner we’d steamed the claws and knuckles, eaten the claws (there’s a whole art to using the hammer on them that I’m not competent to share), and painstakingly removed the meat from the knuckles to make the salad with. Add a little mayonnaise, some lemon and lime juice and zest, a few drops of hot sauce, chopped chive, salt and pepper (Deborah coached me through this) … and the result is light, clean and tastes of the sea. The red pepper jelly was courtesy of Stonewall Kitchen.
Moving on, the centerpiece was lobster tails grilled over applewood by Andrei and Alex. Not that we wasted the claws - those were steamed, and arranged around the edges of the platter. We made different salads, and then the Fried Red Thai Rice mixture I’ve already posted.
Everyone had brought wild Maine blueberries, so one of our desserts was a blueberry crisp. I definitely have the template of an ideal crisp in my memory, and my own efforts haven’t lived up to that ideal - until now. I’ve followed faithfully recipes that call for thickening the fruit - and then I don’t like the stickiness of the syrup that results. And I’ve tried a few crumble mixtures - with just a few basic ingredients you wouldn’t think you could go wrong - but I’ve never been completely happy with the results. Until now. Details to follow.
The second dessert was an open apple pie, with apples that had fallen in the same storm that brought the crabs ashore. They were a little less than ripe, tart, crunchy and delicious. This was Deborah’s pie, so I don’t have the whole recipe - but one thing I did take away was adding chilled vodka to the dough, instead of iced water. Somehow it gave an extra crispness to the crust - Deborah’s theory is that the vodka evaporates more quickly.
Tomorrow will be Labor Day. We’re taking a morning boat, evening will see us in Boston, and even though we’re coming back for Robin Fernald’s wedding to Stephanie next weekend, this feels like the end of summer, with that slight heart ache that marks the transition back to an urban life.