Eating Well At The Beach

Beach umbrellas ocean
Whether you live at the beach or make several trips to the shore during the summer, you know three things remain constant: sun (hopefully), sand and food.

Years ago, beach food was nothing to write home about, unless you had the privilege of hosting, or being invited to, a clam bake or lobster fest.

These days, beach food is much more sophisticated. Jodi Della Femina and Andrea Terry, co-authors of "The Lobster Roll," visited The Early Show with some tasty beach outing menus from their cookbook.

The recipes they shared on The Early Show are: Lavender-and-Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Lobster Roll Sandwich, Savory Watermelon Salad, Strawberry-Mint Lemonade and Lemon Cake Squares.


Lobster Roll

This sandwich is so flawless that it has a restaurant, and this book is named after it. The version from the cookbook is adapted for home kitchens.

It starts with steamed whole lobsters, though the Lobster Roll buys fresh lobster meat. It takes many lobsters to yield 2 pounds of lobster meat, and the process of steaming and cleaning is so labor-intensive, that the co-authors recommend buying fresh lobster meat from your local seafood purveyor to save time.


2 pounds freshly picked lobster meat, chilled and chopped into chunks, or 10 pounds live lobsters, steamed and meat removed
1 cup chopped celery (from 3 to 4 celery stalks), drained (see Note)
3/4 to 1 cup Hellmann's mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
6 hot dog buns

In a medium bowl, combine the lobster meat, celery and mayonnaise and gently toss until well mixed. Season with the salt and pepper and chill for at least 30 minutes (or up to overnight) before serving.

Preheat a large heavy skillet over medium flame. Lightly butter both sides of each bun and cook for 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. (The buns may also be toasted under a broiler.) When toasted, stuff them with the chilled lobster salad and serve immediately.

NOTE: When celery is chopped, it tends to release its natural moisture, which can water down the lobster salad and give it a soupy consistency. To avoid this, chop the celery, wrap it in a dry clean towel or several paper towels, and place in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes, allowing the towel to absorb any excess moisture.

Lavender-and-Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Della Femina and Terry say this is one of the best fried chicken recipes ever, which was passed on by chef Rebecca Rubel. The addition of lavender, an aromatic plant in the mint family, is the perfect touch to keep guests guessing and coming back for more.


6 split chicken breasts on the rib bones with skin, or 3 whole breasts split in half
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups buttermilk
canola or peanut oil, for deep-frying
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk

Rub the chicken breasts with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the pepper, place in a non-reactive bowl or container, and cover with the buttermilk. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 12 hours or overnight.

Fill a heavy-duty or cast-iron pot (suitable for frying and large enough to hold all of the chicken) with 4 to 5 inches of oil, and heat to 350 degrees F, on a candy thermometer (or heat until a sprinkle of flour browns immediately when dropped in). In a large bowl, combine the flour, paprika, cayenne, thyme, lavender, and remaining salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, make an egg batter by whisking together the eggs, milk, and 1 cup of water until smooth.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and shake off any extra buttermilk clinging to the breasts. Working with one piece at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour to coat, then dip into the egg batter, dredge the chicken in the flour mixture to coat, then dip into the egg batter, then dredge it once again in the flour mixture.

Carefully place the coated chicken one piece at a time into the hot oil; keep the thermometer in the oil and try to maintain the temperature. Once you've placed all of the chicken in the oil, fry uncovered for 10 minutes, then flip the pieces over and fry for 10 minutes more, or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Savory Watermelon Salad

This unusual combination of flavors and textures makes a beautiful summer salad that is sweet, salty, soft and crunchy all at the same time. It's a unique surprise for even the most seasoned palate.


One 3-1/2-pound slice of watermelon, rind removed and chopped into 1- to 2-inch cubes (approximately 4 cups)
12 radishes, washed and thinly sliced
1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
15 mint leaves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the watermelon and radishes on a serving platter. Top with the feta cheese and mint. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and serve.

Fresh Strawberry-Mint Lemonade

For those looking for a simpler lemonade, just omit the strawberry puree or mint leaves from the following recipe. You might wish to add a little more sugar if the strawberry puree is not added, as the lemonade will be slightly more tart.


6 lemons, juiced to yield 1 cup lemon juice
3/4 to 1 cup superfine sugar, to taste
1 1/2 quarts filtered water
1 pint (approximately 10) large strawberries, hulled, plus more for garnish (optional)
1 small bunch of mint leaves (approximately 1/2 cup), plus more for garnish (optional)
1 lemon, sliced, for garnish (optional)

In a large pitcher, combine the lemon juice, sugar and water. Stir until well mixed. Using a blender or food processor, puree the strawberries and add to the lemonade mixture along with the mint leaves. Stir well once again, and refrigerate until cold.

Serve in a tall glass over ice, garnished with a slice of lemon and a small strawberry or mint sprig.

Lemon Cake Squares

This dessert is great served after a seafood meal. These lemon cake squares are a light and tart variation on lemon curd squares, making them difficult to pass up even when dessert sounds too decadent. They're especially tempting when cut into small squares and presented on a platter with fresh berries and a sprinkle of confectioners' sugar.


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup sugar
2 jumbo eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
1 1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Butter an 8-by-8 by 2-inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the 1/2 cup of butter and the sugar together. Then add the eggs, milk, lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice; stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients to this mixture and stir until the batter is smooth. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Meanwhile, prepare the syrup: Whisk together the confectioners' sugar and the remaining 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Remove the cake from the oven, pour the syrup over the top, and spread evenly. Cool on a wire rack, then cut into squares.

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