What’s Up With This Lobster Candy?

A trip to a Russian market always promises fun and adventure. We’re not too familiar with Eastern European cuisine and at least at the markets we go to, everything is in Russian — you’ll see no English translation whatsoever. It’s a mysterious wonderland of new smells and sights. I’m intrigued by the sausages and smoked fish, the pickled items, dumplings and baked goods. We usually pick one thing we’ve never tried before and bring it home to experiment. One day we’ll get around to doing some proper culinary research.

Luca and I stopped by one of these markets not too long ago. This particular one had a very extensive selection of festively wrapped candies which of course caught Luca’s eye immediately. We selected a few lollipops and fruity types. Then we spied these tucked in amongst the rest. Of course we HAD to get some. They have a lobster on the wrapper. A lobster! Candy and lobster seem like two things that should never, ever go together which intrigued us greatly. Would they be briney or seafood-y? Candied bouillon, perhaps? Could they be a new candy taste sensation or taste truly awful?

We kept them on the counter for a while, just kind of contemplating them. Then my friend Rachel came by last night and asked “Hey, what’s up with that lobster candy?”. So we finally cracked one open only to find that they were pretty much like a regular old butterscotch hard candy with a slightly chewier interior. Although tasty, quite a disappointment and a totally unsatisfactory resolution of our burning question…. “what’s up with the lobster?”

See for yourself. Stop by New World Market on Geary between 20th and 21st to grab some stuffed cabbage leaves, perogi, pickles or black bread… and don’t forget to grab some lobster candy for dessert!

Sunny Summer Corn

We look forward to the arrival of sweet, summer corn all year. Mostly we eat it on the cob, au naturale. Luca likes to use corn holders and pretend he’s riding a motorcycle. When we come across particularly appealing ears of corn at the market, I can’t resist buying them by the dozen and adding fresh corn to pizza, salads, soups, pretty much everything we’re eating.

Last summer I came across a genius recipe for “Corn and Lobster Ravioli in a Corn Broth” from the book Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home. The genius is in the broth which uses no stock, just kernels, cobs, a few herb sprigs and water. The resulting broth is so light and summery, yet very flavorful — the very essence of  sunny summer corn in a bowl. The simplicity of this dish makes it very kid-friendly too.

Summer Corn and Lobster Ravioli in A Corn Broth

(adapted from Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home)

Shopping List: 10 ears of corn, several shallots, fresh herbs, several ounces of cooked lobster (or substitute shrimp, ricotta or your favorite ravioli fillings), won ton wrappers, butter

Making the Broth:

  • Cut the kernels from 10 ears of corn, reserve half for the ravioli.
  • Add the cobs, the other half of the kernels, a few sprigs of fresh herbs (such as Bay Leaf or lemon thyme). Cover with water.
  • Simmer for 1 hour then strain. Return broth to the pot to reduce  by one third to on half to intensify the flavor. Season to taste.

Making the Ravioli

  • Saute a minced shallots with the corn kernels in butter until tender, then mash them up a bit (or puree about half the mixture).
  • Stir in chopped cooked lobster and taste for seasoning. (You could substitute shrimp, make it vegetarian using well-drained ricotta or any other filling you like. Just make sure the mixture is not too wet.)
  • Fill each won ton skin with about a one tablespoon of filling, push out any air pockets and seal the edges well using a little water.
  • Boil ravioli in well salted water for several, then drain.
  • Place a few ravioli into each bowl and ladle some of the hot corn broth over. Garnich with more fresh herbs.
  • Freeze extra ravioli in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. When they are frozen through, transfer them to an air tight container.

This would make a great first course for a special dinner, or something light and lovely on a day when you come across some gorgeous summer corn and have time to let something bubble away on the stove. It takes a little time, but none of the steps are much of a hassle.