This monthly cooking series features husband and wife team Barry and Kelley Courter.
BARRY SAYS: I've never claimed to be overly smart, but even I know fresher is better when it comes to food. Now is the time of year when we start to harvest the wonderful fruits and vegetables that grow in our area, and it is also the time of year when it gets really hot.
Again, I'm not telling you anything you don't know. But one of the better meals this time of year is a good seafood salad.
Kelley has made different versions of this salad for years. This particular one really stood out because of the fresh ingredients she used. The lobster was a bit of a treat also, and it made a huge difference. So did the fancy mayonnaise.
For the dessert, the fresh strawberries were amazingly good. The heavy rains this year have affected the crop, making them sweet and tender but not hearty. You pretty much need to eat them or freeze them right away. Eating them was not a problem for us.
KELLEY SAYS: I did a staycation last weekend on Flat Top Mountain and, while there, I stopped at one of the local farms and bought freshly picked strawberries. They were the first I had tasted this season. They are so much better than the ginormous ones from California.
I wanted to incorporate strawberries with something for the menu, so I decided to do a summer salad and a light citrus dessert. Both were very easy and not time-consuming at all, though I did spend a little time researching.
The strawberries enhanced the dessert's simple filling with store-bought -- but fresh-baked -- cookies and whipped cream.
The salad, which can be done completely with lobster, can be very costly, but it does add a lot a flavor. While spending the money on the lobster, I saved a little by using some leftover crab sticks I had in the fridge. While they worked OK with the dish, I would definitely make it with fresh crabmeat.
You can also add other fresh vegetables to the mix; green olives and/or capers would do nicely. I opted for a different, better-quality mayo, and it does make a difference. Or, even better for all you adventurous people, make your own. This is one of those light outdoor summer evening meals to enjoy with friends.
2 lobster tails
6 crab sticks
1 celery stalk diced
4 green onions thinly sliced
1/4 fresh red bell pepper, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1/4-1/2 cup good-quality mayonnaise
1 can seafood stock
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons butter
Combine stock, wine and butter in saucepan. Simmer until wine cooks down. Add lobster tails with shell on. Simmer on low for about 6-8 minutes. Don't overcook. Remove tails to cool.
Turn heat up to medium and reduce liquids to about half. At this point, add crab to just impart a little flavor. Heat for about 1 minute and remove crab to cool.
Continue to reduce liquid to about 3 tablespoons. Remove lobster from shells and pull apart. Add chipped crab. Add the remaining liquid to seafood and toss. Put in fridge to cool completely.
When ready to serve, mix together celery, onion, pepper, lemon and tarragon. Add seafood and toss. Add mayonnaise to bind. You can use more or less, but it shouldn't be runny. Season with fresh black pepper. Serve on lettuce with tomatoes and cucumbers.
Summer Citrus Delight
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 heaping tablespoons lemon curd
1/3 container (8 ounces) marscarpone cheese
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Ginger cookies, crushed
Whip cream until stiff. Fold in lemon curd, mascarpone and lemon zest. Chill until ready to serve.
Place crushed ginger cookies in bottom of serving glass. Top with prepared citrus delight. Add fresh strawberries, additional whipped cream, cookies and fresh mint for garnish.