'Lobster Rolls & Blueberry Pie'
Recipe Book Recalls Family Summers Spent on Maine's Shore
Listen to Liane Hansen's talk with Rebecca Charles
June 29, 2003 -- For celebrated New York City chef Rebecca Charles, spending summers near the shores of Kennebunkport, Maine, is a long-standing family tradition. In 1918, her great uncle first stumbled upon the seaside town on the way back from a road trip to Nova Scotia. Soon grandmother Pearle was lured to the rugged Maine coast, and generations who followed inherited her love of the region.
Later, in her own restaurant, Charles decided to recreate the lobster rolls, fried clams and other fare that infused her family's Kennebunkport summers. The Pearl Oyster Bar -- named after Charles' grandmother -- has become a popular Greenwich Village destination for those who crave the taste of the seashore. NPR's Liane Hansen recently spoke with Charles about the relationship between her cooking and the place that inspired it, as chronicled in Charles' new book of recipes and family history, Lobster Rolls & Blueberry Pie. Recipes for some of those savory dishes are offered below.
» Pearl Oyster Bar Lobster Roll
» Fried Oysters
» Pearl Oyster Bar Tartar Sauce
» Blueberry Crumble Pie
Pearl Oyster Bar Lobster Roll
2 pounds cooked lobster meat, chopped roughly into 1/2 and 3/4-inch pieces
1/2 celery rib, finely chopped
1/4 cup Hellman's mayonnaise
Squeeze of lemon
Pinch of kosher salt and freshy ground black pepper
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 Pepperidge Farm top-loading hot dog buns
Chopped chives for garnish
To make the lobster salad, in a large bowl, combine the lobster meat, celery, mayonaiise, lemon and salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Cover the mixture and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. It will last for up to two days.
To prepare the bun, in a small sauté pan over low to medium heat, melt the butter. Place the hot dog buns on their sides in the butter. Flip the buns a couple of times so that both sides soak up an equal amount of butter and brown evenly. Remove the buns from the pan and place them on a large plate.
Fill the toasted buns with lobster salad. Sprinkle with chives and serve with a salad, slaw or shoestring fries.
(Variation: For a shrimp roll, substitute 2 pounds of shrimp, cooked, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise.)
6 to 8 medium oysters
Vegetable, peanut or canola oil
1/2 cup cracker meal
1 1/2 cups flour
Pearl Oyster Bar Tartar Sauce (recipe follows)
Greens and chives for garnish
Shuck the oysters and clean and save the shells. Place the oysters in a bowl in their liquor and refrigerate them until ready to fry. In a deep saucepan or pot, heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the cracker meal and flour in a large pie plate to make the dredge. Drain the oysters in a strainer and drop them into the dredge one by one, keeping them separated. Coat each oyster well, then shake off the excess dredge. Drop each oyster gently into the hot oil and fry until they are golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. It's important not to overfry them. Drain them on paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt.
To serve, arrange the shells in a circle with the narrow ends of the shells in the center. Put a spoonful of tartar sauce in the center of each shell. Top it with a fried oyster. Garnish the plate with a bouquet of greens in the middle. (Charles likes to use a mixture of baby lettuces). Sprinkle it all with chives.
Pearl Oyster Bar Tartar Sauce
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup roughly chopped capers
1/4 cup chopped cornichons, plus 2 tablespoons of the juice
3 cups Hellmann's mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, mix the ingredients thoroughly. Refrigerate.
Blueberry Crumble Pie
(Serves eight to 10)
Note: This recipe is best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
For the crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold butter, cut into tiny pieces
1/4 cup ice water
For the crumble
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks sweet butter, cut into little pieces
For the filling
3 pints blueberries, wild Maine if you can get them
1 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
To make the crust, combine the flour, salt and cold butter in a food processor by pulsing until the mixture has the consistency of sand. Add the cold water while pulsing until the mixture comes together; don't overwork it. (To mix the dough by hand, combine the flour, salt and butter in a large bowl. Add the cold water and work by hand until the mixture comes together.) Remove the dough from the food processor or bowl and on a lightly floured counter or board, shape it into a disk about 1/2-inch thick. Wrap with plastic film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling it out.
To make the crumble, mix the flour and brown sugar in a food processor until thoroughly combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms a crumble (do not overwork the mixture). Refrigerate until you are ready to use it.
To make the fruit filling, in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients well. Crush about 20 percent of the blueberries, so the juice mixes with the cornstarch and thickens the filling.
To make the pie, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out the dough on a floured surface, place in a pie plate, trim and crimp the edges. Use a fork to poke holes around the sides and bottom of the crust. Cover with a piece of parchment paper and fill it with dried beans. Bake for 8 minutes or until the crimped edges are firm. Remove the paper and beans and bake for 3 to 5 more minutes to firm the bottom. Fill the crust with berry mixture and top the pie generously with the crumble. Bake for 1 hour, or until the filling starts to bubble. Cool on a rack.