Disclosure: I received a copy of The Jersey Shore Cookbook from Quirk Books to review.
As always, all opinions expressed are my own.
As a Jersey Girl born and raised, there are few summer traditions I love more than heading “down the shore.”
This in mind, you can imagine my excitement when I received a copy of Deborah Smith’s new book, The Jersey Shore Cookbook: Fresh Summer Flavors from the Boardwalk and Beyond (Quirk Books, 2016), to review. Smith, founder and executive editor of the online food magazine, JerseyBites.com (to which I am a contributor), has compiled a collection of 50 recipes from some of our state’s best shore restaurants, bakeries, and chefs.
As I turned to the recipe for Lobster Mac and Cheese from Labrador Lounge in Normandy Beach, there was no question as to what I’d be making first from the book. When dreaming of a Jersey summer, who can resist a good Lobster Mac?
Sitting with Smith’s cookbook in my “fuzzy socks” on the chilly afternoon of its arrival, its recipes and stories brought me right back to the bustling shore; the rolling waves breaking over my toes, the crisp salt air tousling my hair, and of course, the delicious fresh seafood. After spending a day on the beach, nothing beats a shore meal!
A lifelong Jersey Shore resident, Smith’s passion for the book and the community it encapsulates is evident. With backstories accompanying each of the featured dishes and restaurants, the cookbook is as much a tour of the Jersey Shore dining scene as it is a collection of recipes.
From breakfast to dessert, The Jersey Shore Cookbook celebrates the best of the region’s traditions and seasonal ingredients. Think: “Brunchwiches” with Pork Roll (quintessential Jersey breakfast fare), Charred Jersey Tomato Salad with Sweet Corn, Seared Jersey Scallops, and Peach Panna Cotta. Hungry yet?
When I find Lobster Mac and Cheese on a menu, particularly in shore eateries, I lose all semblance of willpower. A well-executed Lobster Mac is some of the best of summer comfort food.
Labrador Lounge’s recipe marries a rich, buttery four-cheese sauce (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Asiago, and Swiss) with bright chives, plenty of fresh, sweet lobster meat, and a toasted breadcrumb topping. The nutty, briny, buttery aromas coming from my kitchen as the dish baked were nothing short of heavenly.
I don’t know how my taste testers and I found the strength to keep our forks out of the finished dish during the photo shoot! It’s a wonderful dish for luxurious, yet relaxed summer entertaining.
The Jersey Shore Cookbook will be released on April 12, 2016, and is available for pre-order. I know I’ll be cooking from the book all summer long and toting it with me to my favorite local farmer’s markets to shop for ingredients.
Labrador Lounge Lobster Mac and Cheese
From The Jersey Shore Cookbook: “This comforting dish features pieces of rich lobster—tails and claws make for the best mac and cheese. Serve it as a side, family-style for a main course, or even in individual ramekins for a nice touch to any dinner party display.”
Reprinted with permission from The Jersey Shore Cookbook (Deborah Smith, Quirk Books, 2016)
- 1 pound macaroni, such as elbows, shells, or orecchiette (or lobster-shaped pasta if you can find it)
- Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
- 2 cups cooked and diced lobster meat
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Sea salt, to taste
- 1/2 cup sliced shallots
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh chives
- 1/2 pound unsalted butter (1 cup)
- 3 cups heavy cream, divided
- 1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
- 1 cup cubed Swiss cheese
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- Bread crumbs, to taste
Cook pasta al dente according to package directions, transfer to a colander, and drain.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Fit a metal mixing bowl over it to create a double boiler. Add all cheeses (except Parmesan) and 1-1/2 cups of the heavy cream.
Melt cheeses, stirring often to prevent burning. If mixture seems too stringy or clumpy, add some of the remaining cream. The texture should be velvety and a bit loose--the consistency of cheese soup.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add chives, shallots, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until shallots are tender. Add lobster and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine lobster mixture and pasta and stir. Slowly add as much cheese mixture as desired.
Transfer mixture to an oven-safe dish and top with Parmesan and bread crumbs. Bake for 12 minutes, or until browned on top and warm in the middle.
Note: Labrador Lounge's recipe calls for 3 cups of heavy cream total. As noted in their directions above, they call for starting with 1-1/2 cups and adding additional cream until the desired sauce consistency is reached. Depending on your preferences and the specific cheeses you used, you might not need the entire 3 cups.