It’s been more than a decade that I’ve been cooking with Debbie and Jackie. We started at the very get go of our friendship, when our oldest children were toddlers and then continued through the years, our families evolving through each new baby (guinea pigs and cats too), meeting new challenges along the way.
We heaved bags full of ingredients, blenders, knives and containers and made countless messes during early morning, after school and summer vacation cooking dates. We spent hours creating endless concoctions to feed our families and selves — baby food, sauces, jam, cookies, muffins, empanadas — you name it! And as our kids progressed from pre-school to high school, our cooking time evolved from messy times with the kids to mom time (still messy!) while the kids were in school. Our lives bumped along amidst the chaos of raising babies and toddlers, percolating to an even more hectic stage of dealing with tweens and teens.
Our kitchens have unfailingly offered an intimate place for us to offer each other some “mom therapy” about every issue imaginable while we sauté and simmer various concoctions. Our kitchens have become laboratories for food and friendship as we explore endless recipes, tastes and topics of conversation. Our challenges as women, mothers and friends have ebbed and flowed throughout the years, with our talks progressing from the casual concerns of early motherhood — like weaning our babies from breast to bottle and bottle to cup or getting them to sleep through the night — to more serious discussions — such as figuring out career moves and exploring vital parenting toppings like finding the right amount of freedom to allow our teens.
So when all 15 of us met in Debbie’s kitchen a few weeks ago on a cloudy, sticky and very warm day, it was a comforting reunion for everyone. Despite the dreary day, we were a content crowd, one big happy (and slightly dysfunctional family) that knows each other very well. We don’t get the chance very often to gather, kids and all, and when we do there’s never a whiny “do we have to go” but always an eager willingness to go to a familiar place. While the kids played throughout the house, running in and out of the kitchen for tastes, we were tackling quite a cooking agenda. We made a velvety sweet corn soup, only to be blended in my very awesome Vitamix blender, which I lugged with me; a farm fresh tomato sauce, to which we have Debbie to thank for getting the tomatoes, basil pesto and a 12-roasted vegetable soup. And don’t let me forget to mention (and give you the recipe for) the decadent Maine lobster and farm fresh corn kernel cakes.
We were frenzied as we moved about, one of us husking 3 dozen corn, another one of us (me!) removing the meat from the lobsters, and all of us chopping. We put every last vegetable to good use exhausting every last ounce of physical energy. For a crowd that had been grilling all summer long, we certainly put Debbie’s kitchen to good use, with each burner crammed with a different pot and not an inch of counter space left. We even managed to feed everyone at the end of the day with bowls of corn chowder and pesto pasta. And as we divided every last drop of food, washed dishes and wiped counters, we felt tired, full and satisfied. We’re three lucky women to have such good food and friendship.
Combine the sweet morsels of lobster with summer fresh corn and preserve a sensational summer flavor. Lobster is plentiful in Maine this year and the prices have never been better. Think ahead to cooler months when friends will gather in your kitchen for cocktails and nibbles with these plump and crisp two-bite cakes that will be waiting in the freezer for the right time.
4 pounds of lobster, cooked, meat removed and cut into small pieces
2 shallots, diced finely
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon of salt
1 ear of corn, cooked and kernels removed
4 pieces of bacon, cooked and chopped into small pieces
¾ cup plain bread crumbs
Juice from 1 lemon
¾ cup white flour
Olive oil for cooking
In a small skillet, sauté the shallots in olive oil for a few minutes until lucid. Place in a medium sized bowl and add lobster meat, cilantro, salt, corn, bacon, eggs, bread crumbs, juice from 1 lemon and bacon. Mix well, adding a bit more bread crumbs if the mixture is too wet. Chill until ready to make the cakes.
Prepare your work surface with a bowl with lightly beaten eggs and another bowl with flour. Heat a large skillet with 1/8 inch of olive (or canola) oil. Take a teaspoon size amount of lobster and form balls with your hands. Make about 12 and then roll each one in flour, egg and back in the flour again. Place in the oil, flattening the balls slightly and cook for about three minutes on each side until golden.
Drain the cakes on a paper towel lined plate for a minute and then transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet and freeze uncovered until hardened — about 2 hours. Transfer to a freezer safe container when all the cakes have been cooked. To re-heat, place in a pre-heated hot (400 degree oven) and cook for about 20 minutes.
Repeat with the remaining lobster mixture.