August 28, 2019

Dear friends,

Thanks to wikipaella, I finally discovered why the paella I had in Spain wasn’t as good as the paella I make myself. It was a different animal. I vacationed in the far south of Spain with my mother more than a decade ago, and in that region the rice is infused with seafood but not showered with it.

Yes, there’s a wiki for paella. Check it out at wikipaella.com. If you click on “recetas,” you’ll see that some anal type surveyed 319 restaurants in the Valencia area of Spain, where the dish originated, and compiled a chart of common ingredients. Percentages are given for the prevalence of each ingredient in three types of authentic (autentica) paella.

In Valencia paella, the 100 percent must-haves are chicken, salt, tomato, rice, water, olive oil and saffron. Almost-100-percenters are rabbit, fava beans and smoked paprika. Other significant ingredients include snails, rosemary, garlic and duck.

The type of paella in the south where my mother and I dined is arroz a banda, in which the rice is infused with seafood broth and mixed with chopped shrimp and squid. No wonder the paella I had was garnished with just a shrimp or two. I thought the restaurants were being cheap. No, they were just being autentica.

In Spain, paella rarely (never?) is made with both seafood and chicken or rabbit. And sausage? They would run you out of town.

But knowledge doesn’t always beget wisdom. I still love paella with chicken AND seafood AND sausage. The combo was good enough for Craig Claiborne when he wrote “The New York Times Cook Book” in 1961 and it still is good enough for me.

I’m not totally stuck in the past, though. After reading the wiki, I amended Claiborne’s recipe to include common Spanish paella ingredients he probably didn’t have access to at the time — specifically, smoked paprika and fava beans instead of peas. I skipped the pimiento and green pepper in his recipe, too, and substituted pancetta for the salt pork and ham.

Claiborne’s recipe is more compact than the one below, but I wanted to add information on handling and purging the mussels and clams.

This paella is one of my favorite dishes for a group because it covers all the bases — seafood for meat avoiders, chicken for seafood haters and, if you serve it with Champagne sangria as I did to a group of Tony’s ESL (English as a second language) classmates last week, enough bubbly to break the ice around the communal table.

EVERYTHING PAELLA

12 large shrimp
12 smallish (50 cent size) clams
1 lb. mussels
1 tsp. oregano
4 peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. vinegar
8 meaty chicken legs or mix of legs and thighs
4 oz. pancetta
1 6-inch link of chorizo sausage, preferably dried, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp. capers
2 1/4 cups white long- or medium-grain white rice
1 tbsp. tomato paste
4 cups boiling water
1 tsp. saffron threads
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 cup peeled fava beans or edamame

Shell and de-vein the shrimp and refrigerate. Take the clams and mussels immediately home from the store (no stopping for a fro yo) and place over ice in a bowl. Cover the bowl with a wet dish towel and refrigerate. Use that same day.

Prep all of the ingredients (chop the onion, slice the sausage, measure out spices) and line them up in order of use next to the stove.

About 1 1/2 hours before dinner, combine the peppercorns, garlic, salt, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the vinegar in a mortar or a sturdy little bowl and grind together with a pestle or mash with the back of a wooden spoon until thoroughly amalgamated. Rub chicken all over with the mixture and refrigerate.

Fill a large mixing bowl three-fourths of the way with cool water. Stir in 1/2 cup or so of salt until dissolved. Place clams and mussels in water and let stand at room temperature to purge any sand the shellfish contain. Tony purges overnight for sushi, but 20 minutes to an hour is long enough.

About an hour before dinner, fry pancetta in a large, deep skillet or paella pan until crisp.
Remove the pancetta and reserve. Add remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil. Fry chicken over medium-high heat until golden brown on all sides. Stir in chorizo, onions and capers. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and transparent, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash rice in a bowl of cool water two or three times, swishing it around with your fingers and draining off the starchy water and refilling each time. Drain well. Begin heating a covered pot with about 2 inches of water for steaming the mussels and clams.

Add rice and tomato paste to chicken mixture in skillet. Stir, turning it over from top to bottom. Stir in boiling water, saffron, smoked paprika and fava beans. Cover and simmer rapidly for 20 minutes, until water has been absorbed. Turn mixture top to bottom. Stir in shrimp and reserved pancetta. Cover and continue to cook over low heat.

Meanwhile, transfer shellfish to the pot of boiling water. Cover and cook over high heat until the shells open, about 5 minutes.

Turn paella onto a platter and garnish with the clams and shrimp. Makes about 6 to 8 servings.

JANE’S CHAMPAGNE SANGRIA
1 cup mango nectar
2 cans (12 oz. each) fizzy mango-flavored water
1 cup halved grapes
1 nectarine, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 limes, cut into 3/4-inch pieces, skin and all
1 orange, cut into 3/4-inch pieces, skin and all
3 bottles of sparkling wine
In a pitcher, combine mango nectar, flavored water and fruit. Feel free to substitute or add other chopped fruits such as pineapple and pear.

Fill stemmed wine glasses (not flutes) halfway with juice and fruit. Top with sparkling wine. Makes many, many drinks.

GUT CHECK
What I cooked/assembled last week:
Muskmelon and prosciutto for a perfect breakfast; a protein shake; pan-grilled top sirloin steak, steamed corn on the cob, roasted green peppers with olive oil and sea salt, and baked potato with sour cream; hard-fried egg and ripe tomato with pesto on whole-wheat toast; roast chicken sandwich on whole-wheat toast with sliced cucumber, tomato, sea salt and mayo; salted almonds and jumbo blue cheese-stuffed olives, paella with chicken, chorizo, shrimp, clams and mussels, and Champagne sangria with fresh fruit; potato, green bean and corn soup with smoked ham hock and a pesto swirl.

What I ate in/from restaurants:
Half of a BLT at the Eye Opener in Akron (where I saw on the menu a deep-fried biscuit with Crooked River jam, ala the cronut); Shanghai soup dumplings, chili wontons and stir-fried noodles with beef at LJ Shanghai in Cleveland; plain popcorn at Regal Theater; a cabbage roll and bites of Tony’s sausage and pierogi at Al’s Corner Restaurant in Barberton; garlic marinated shrimp, roast pork tenderloin with wine sauce, mushroom-pecan latkes with chive sour cream, hasselback tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil, and a peanut butter-chocolate chip bar at my friend Michele’s; scrambled eggs and grits at Cracker Barrel.

THE MAILBAG

From Louise H.:
I just read your latest newsletter and enjoyed your comments on Mark Auburn’s book, which I have read. I’m so happy to see the mention of this book.

Are you related to Glenna Snow, who was food editor at the Beacon Journal in the 1940s? She was a founder of the University of Akron Women’s Committee and taught at UA after retiring from the Beacon. I have recently read some of the historical articles about her efforts to furnish the UA home economics house in 1948-’49. It was an interesting venture!

Dear Louise:
No, I’m not related to Glenna, though I’m often asked that question. I just finished writing a brief history of the Beacon Journal’s food coverage for an upcoming book, and delved into Glenna’s career in my research. This is the first I’ve heard of her post-newspaper doings at the University of Akron, though. Thank you for the information.

From Jenny K.:
Several recipes I have call for Japanese sake. I’ve tried to find out the type to use in cooking savory dishes, but with no luck. Do you have any recommendations?

Dear Jenny:
I buy One Cup Sake for cooking because it tastes good (for sake) but is relatively inexpensive. More important, it comes in one-cup glass containers, so I don’t have half a bottle cluttering my refrigerator. Sake is made in various styles and most would work in cooking. But there’s no sense spending a lot of money on the boutique stuff for cooking.

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August 21, 2019

Dear friends,
Farm stands and farmers’ markets are a minefield for me this month. I can’t resist. Anything.

I bought a basket of about 10 large heirloom tomatoes last week and have been eating them out of hand like apples, sprinkled with chunky sea salt, as I race to use them up. Then at Rittman Orchards in Doylestown on Sunday I bought big handfuls of green beans and a bunch of nectarines that I sliced and tossed with my own blackberries for a pie.

I have been indulging in corn and watermelon for a month, and now am heavily into muskmelon. I supplemented my stash with a fragrant little Charentais (!) melon I also found at Rittman Orchards.

And then at Dunkler’s in Copley last week, I was thrilled to see that hot peppers are finally in season. A pile of shiny, fat, wrinkled poblanos called to me. I scooped up four big ones and carted them home with no idea what to do with them. I couldn’t justify the calories of chile rellenos, which I craved. So I started thinking of ways to slim down that dish of cheese-stuffed peppers, breaded and deep-fried.

The recipe I came up with is a cross between rellenos and stuffed peppers with a Mexican accent. I roasted the poblanos over my gas stove burner (electric will work, too) and stuffed the peeled peppers with a delicious mixture of browned ground meat, fresh corn kernels and crumbled feta cheese seasoned with oregano. A splash of Worcestershire gave the mixture an undercurrent of umami. I stirred in a bit of shredded Mexican-style cheese mix (Monterey Jack and Cheddar) for melty goodness.

After baking the peppers for 20 minutes, I lashed them with lime-flavored sour cream and scattered some chopped tomato over the top. Yeow. The filling was delicious, and the cool lime sour cream tied together the flavors and toned down the mild sting of the poblanos. Tony and I loved them.

Now, what to do with a crate of cabbage and a half-peck of new potatoes?

BAKED STUFFED POBLANO PEPPERS

6 fat poblano peppers
1 to 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1 cup fresh corn kernels
Salt, pepper
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend (or Jack) cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tbsp. milk
Grated zest of 1 small lime
Chopped ripe tomato for garnish

Blister peppers on all sides on a grill or over a gas or electric range burner. Immediately place in a paper bag and close tightly. After 5 minutes, rub each pepper under running water to remove blistered skin. Don’t worry if some skin remains.

Cut a lengthwise slit in each pepper and carefully remove the seeds without tearing the pepper. Wear rubber gloves if you wish. I didn’t, but I was careful not to rub my eyes. Set peppers aside on paper towels.

While peppers steam in the paper bag, start the filling. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a nonstick skillet. Sauté the onions over medium-high heat until softened. Add garlic and sauté a minute longer. Crumble in ground beef and cook, stirring often, until no longer pink, adding the remaining tablespoon of oil if necessary.

Stir in corn kernels. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Stir in Worcestershire sauce. Remove from heat and stir in feta and shredded cheese.

Stuff the poblano peppers with the meat mixture. It should be enough to fill six large poblanos. Arrange in a single layer in a baking pan or individual ramekins, allowing two peppers per person. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the cheeses have melted.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine sour cream, milk and lime juice, stirring until smooth. Spoon into a small sandwich bag and snip off one corner (a tiny snip!). When the peppers are done, place two on each plate (or leave in ramekins) and squeeze the sour cream mixture over them in a decorative squiggle. Scatter a spoonful of chopped tomato over all. Makes 3 servings.

TIDBITS
Anyone who is nostalgic for 1950s and 1960s food should read “In the President’s Home: Memories of the Akron Auburns,” my friend Mark Auburn’s book about the years his father, Norman, was president of the University of Akron (1951-1971).

Mark, a fellow food-lover, did not stint on descriptions of the food served to family and guests alike. I am now bereft that I never tasted Blossom Shop Candies’ mint disks sandwiched with a layer of chocolate. And Mark, I want you to know I STILL eat Coco Wheats. Not often, but there’s a box in my cabinet for special occasions.

The book is available on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble in Montrose, or through the University of Akron Press.

GUT CHECK
What I cooked last week:
Chicken, tomato and pesto on whole wheat toast; feta, tomato and pesto on whole wheat; sautéed zucchini smothered with spaghetti sauce and melted feta cheese; stir-fried cauliflower rice with chicken and vegetables in a spicy sauce; hard-fried egg, pesto and tomato on whole wheat toast; bagged chopped salad and microwaved frozen chimichurri chicken; roasted bell peppers with olive oil and sea salt; eggplant Parmesan; venison spaghetti sauce; peach and blackberry pie; baked stuffed poblano peppers.

What I ate in/from restaurants last week:
Indian bread stuffed with potatoes, chickpeas with Indian spices (chana masala), lamb madras, chicken tika masala, steamed basmati rice, Indian masala tea at Singh Biryani in Cuyahoga Falls (very good); small popcorn no butter at Regal Cinema; Coney dog with onions and mustard and a diet root beer at Coney Island Diner in Mansfield; steak salad from Chipotle.

THE MAILBAG

From Bill B.:
Just had a blurb on my Facebook feed for a place in Wooster called Bay Lobsters. Seems they are handling a lot of fresh seafood, along with the lobsters. I haven’t been there yet. Have you?

Dear Bill:
Yes. The business sponsored this newsletter when they had a store in Twinsburg. I noticed just recently that their shop is now in Wooster, and they have added a cafe. They sell very fresh seafood. The Bay Lobsters Cafe & Fish Market website is baylobsterswooster.com.

From Anne K.:
I would be interested in knowing the instance of salmonella in heritage pork grown by small producers who do not use antibiotics. I try not to buy any grocery store pork.

Dear Anne:
I have no information on that, but would guess that pork from a small operation whose breeding stock does not come from a mass producer would be a safer bet for consumers.

August 14, 2019

Dear friends,
My days of relishing blushing-pink pork are over. Yours may be, too, if you read the expose on the pork industry Sunday in the New York Times.

In a meticulously researched story, reporter Matt Richtel lays out evidence that pork tainted with a dangerous variant strain of salmonella is seriously sickening people because the bacteria is resistant to four major antibiotics.

Why is this particular type of salmonella so hard to kill with antibiotics? Probably because many pork producers have overused antibiotics on their hogs to the point that the bacteria has mutated into a resistant strain.

Where are these hogs being raised? How widespread is the problem? There’s the rub.

The pork farmers and their organization, the National Pork Producers Council, have refused to cooperate with scientists trying to track the infected meat. Because of the historically cozy relationship of pork producers — and heck, most food producers — with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, rules do not exist to force the farmers to cooperate. The farmers are afraid if the tainted pork is traced to specific producers, their business will suffer. Huh.

According to the Times article, the problem came to light after nearly 200 people became ill from tainted pork in a Washington outbreak in 2015. Unfortunately, the problem is not confined to Washington. An analysis by researchers at the Environmental Working Group found that 71 percent of pork chops in supermarkets in the United States carried resistant bacteria.

Cooking pork to 145 degrees (160 degrees for ground pork) will kill any salmonella it harbors, according to the Centers for Disease Control. But it’s easy to spread the bacteria from raw meat before it is cooked. I intend to handle raw pork very carefully from now on. And I’ll use an instant-read thermometer to be sure it is done.

GUT CHECK
What I cooked last week:
Steamed whole lobsters, microwaved corn on the cob; frozen chimichurri chicken breast (heated) and a bagged chopped salad with chipotle and Cheddar cheese; a BLT (for Tony) and a grilled salmon, lettuce and tomato (me), and Seiberling steamed corn; oven-baked wild sockeye salmon glazed with sweet soy sauce (for me) and with a cucumber-mayo sauce (for Tony), steamed corn, cucumber salad with sesame dressing.

What I ate in/from restaurants, etc.:
Bacon, egg and sausage flatbread, coffee at Red Cup in Boothbay Harbor, Me.; oysters on the half shell with mignonette sauce at Glidden Point Oyster Farm in Edgecomb, Me.; fried clams from Frye House in Farmingdale, Me.; half of a Subway roast beef sub; scrambled egg with ham, a buttermilk biscuit and coffee at Monroe’s Family Restaurant in Twin Mountain, N.H.; a hot dog and a bag of popcorn at a football team fund-raiser along I-90 in Massachusetts; half a Subway ham and cheese.

THE MAILBAG
From Dorothy B.:
What a great story, Jane (about last week’s clam-hunting trip). It reminds me of a time many, many years ago when we were camping and went down to the dock and bought our lobsters right off the boat. We steamed them over the campfire using the rack in a large canning pot. Thanks for dredging up some great memories.

From Carol B.:
Wow, Jane, your description of Maine food is so enticing that I want to jump in the car and head east!

I’ve been to Young’s Lobster Pound in Belfast, Maine a couple of times, and thinking about it makes my mouth water. Is there ANY place in Northeast Ohio where we can get food like that?

By the way, September and October are great months to travel to tourist-heavy areas like that. You might have cooler weather, but I hate hot weather anyway.

Dear Carol:
Yes, I will have to start traveling in the off season. The over-tourism caught me by surprise in Paris last year, too.

You won’t find off-the-boat Maine food in Ohio, but you can find lobsters and clams (although rarely steamers) in the fall when clam bake season cranks up. Papa Joe’s in the Merriman Valley in Akron always has a number of lobster specials in the fall, including a lobster bake, and many restaurants offer clam bakes.

But none of them equals sitting on a bench outside eating lobster rolls and fresh-dug clams. Maybe you could get together with friends, make a mad dash to the coast for seafood, and have your own lobster festival when you return.

From Mary P.:
Jane, I made your corn and onion salad the other day. It was delicious.

In reading the email from Bill B., I just did not understand the “microwaving onion stem” and then the rest of the sentence without punctuation, I’m guessing.
So, is he suggesting microwaving the onions…in no butter, little butter, or what?

Sorry to need a clearer understanding.

Dear Mary:
Bill’s email made perfect sense, but I garbled it badly when I retyped it. I didn’t proofread it either, apparently. My apologies.

The point Bill made is that he partially cooks/steams large amounts of chopped onion in the microwave before transferring them to a skillet to caramelize in butter on the stove. Because the onions are partially cooked, they caramelize on the stove much faster and therefore need less butter to keep them from burning.

The chopped onions should probably go in a shallow, wide casserole dish. No butter. Cover and microwave until fairly softened. The time will depend on the amount of onions and the power of your microwave. Exactness doesn’t matter. Even a bit of precooking will shave time from the caramelizing process on the stove. Right, Bill?

From Marnie F., Charlotte, N.C.:
I am a former Cleveland native, living in Charlotte for 30 years. Your corn story a few weeks ago brought back many memories of Ohio sweet corn. I shared your story about eating the corn at various stages after picking at a family reunion with corn lovers from both coasts and the Midwest. Everyone enjoyed your research. My question is whether you have this report available to the public. It would make a great gift for all of the sweet corn lovers I know.

Dear Marnie:
That research ran in a story in the Beacon Journal on August 12, 1987 under the headline Stalking Great Corn. The story was about the then-new hybrid super-sweet corn, and how it tasted compared to regular just-picked corn and ears that were four hours old.

The article is available free in the Akron Beacon Journal database of the Akron-Summit County Public Library. You can access the database online with your library card number at akronlibrary.org. Others can access it through a paid newspaper archives service. Ask at your local library.

August 7, 2019

Dear friends,
The tidal flats of the central coast of Maine zigzag for miles along fingers that reach inland from the ocean. Tony and I crisscrossed them again and again in our search for the rocky shore. I would lick my lips in hunger.

“That’s clam territory,” I told Tony atop one bridge. “Keep an eye out for signs.”

Sure enough, on yet another ill-fated attempt to beat the hordes of tourists to the actual shore, I spotted culinary gold: A hand-pained sign, “Clams, Seafood” with an arrow.

We turned off State Route 209 near Phippsburgh onto a narrow, rutted road. Around a bend was a small pre-fab building with a cement loading dock and a sign, “Clam Hunter Seafood.”

“Come on up,” called the smiling woman on the dock. She led us inside, where wire shelves and water-filled tubs were crammed with clams and oysters. Lobsters bubbled in a glass tank filled with sea water. A man — her husband? — with a wind-burned face and rolled-down waders directed a spray of water at shell debris on the concrete floor. Yes, he had just dredged up the clams, he said.

The clams had already been purged, we were told. That meant I wouldn’t have to soak them in salt water until they released any sand they harbored. Already-purged clams were a real find.

Soft-shells, called steamers here, were $6 a pound. Lobsters were $7 a pound. I almost cried when I realized I couldn’t fit three pounds of clams AND lobsters in the little cooler I had brought.

I only needed a pound of clams for the recipe I had in mind, but I knew I could eat more than a dozen myself, the average number of steamers in a pound. I bought three pounds and doubled the sauce recipe.

I have had some fine clams in Maine so far. My first meal was a lobster roll and a dozen steamers with clam broth and drawn butter. They tasted like the sea and reminded me of my early 20s, when I lived in Atlantic City and was in love with life and my first taste of seafood. My second restaurant meal was an indecently big pile of fried seafood including clams fresh from the shell, dunked in batter and fried until crisp and golden. They were so sweet and crisp I’ll be dreaming of them the rest of my life.

Then there were my clams. Back at my camper, I made a soffritto of crisp-fried pancetta, softened onion and minced fennel. I cut thick slices of crusty bread, fried them in olive oil and rubbed them with garlic. I bubbled those sea-fresh clams with wine, lemon peel, a bay leaf and the sofrito. When the flavors were blended and the clams had opened, I ladled everything over the thick slices of toast on a platter.

A half-dozen clams and the broth-soaked toast turned out to be plenty for me but not nearly enough for Tony, who ate almost all of them. The clams on toast was so good Tony suggested selling it along the roadside to other tourists stuck in traffic, trying to find the shore. He thinks we could make a fortune.

A word of warning: The Maine coast, like many popular destinations, suffers from over tourism. If you want to see a tide pool or a rocky headland or an ocean wave, get up before dawn. We were stuck in traffic for hours on U.S.1 one day, and were turned away a half-mile from Popham Beach State Park another day because all of the parking lots were full by noon.

But there are still clams, lobsters and oysters to be had on byways far from the madding crowds.

CLAM TOASTS WITH PANCETTA

(From Bon Appetit magazine)
4 tbsp. olive oil
2 oz. pancetta, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, 2 sliced thin, 2 whole
1/2 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 small fennel bulb, finely chopped, plus 1/4 cup fennel fronds
2 wide strips (3 inches long) lemon zest
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. ground fennel
1 cup dry white wine, divided
Pinch of salt
2 thick (1 1/2 inch) slices sourdough bread
1 lb. clams (steamers or littleneck)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Crushed red pepper flakes

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium. Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp. Add sliced garlic and stir-fry until it is golden around the edges, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low and add onion and chopped fennel. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent.

Add lemon zest, bay leaf, ground fennel, ½ cup wine and a pinch of salt. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until wine is mostly reduced but mixture is still a little bit saucy. Transfer soffritto to a medium bowl; discard lemon zest and bay leaf. Wipe out skillet.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in same skillet over medium. Cook bread slices in skillet until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Cut 1 garlic clove in half and rub one side of each toast with cut side of garlic. Wipe out skillet.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium. Crush remaining garlic clove with the side of a chef’s knife and cook, stirring often, until it begins to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add clams, soffritto, and remaining ½ cup wine. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, until liquid is reduced by half and clams are open (discard any that do not open), 5 to 7 minutes. Add parsley and chopped fennel fronds and cook 1 minute longer.

To serve, place a piece of fried bread on each of two plates and spoon clam mixture and broth over. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Makes 2 appetizer or light lunch servings.

Note: Soffritto can be made 2 days ahead. Cool, cover and chill.

GUT CHECK
What I prepared last week:
Crudités and a campfire hotdog with mustard and onions; a scrambled duck egg sandwich and coffee; grilled strip steaks and microwaved corn on the cob; salade Nicoise and a ripe peach; clam toast with pancetta.

What I at in/from restaurants:
Buffalo wings from Bella Pizza in Lackawanna, N.Y.; a cheese omelet, whole wheat toast and coffee at Cherry Tree Inn in Henderson, N.Y.; half of a Subway ham and cheese; a brick oven pizza with garlic sauce, chicken, feta, dried cranberries and walnuts and a Stella Artois; fried fish, french fries, coleslaw, mac and cheese and a roll from Ghize’s Tavern in Ogdensburg, N.Y.; stuffed cabbage and potato moussaka from a farmers’ market in St. Albans, Vt.; a lobster roll (the meat of an entire lobster in a toasted split-top bun with melted butter on the side), homemade thick-cut potato chips, steamed clams at Lobster in the Rough in York, Maine; fried scallops, clams, haddock and shrimp with french fries and a roll at Sea Basket Restaurant in Wiscasset, Maine.

THE MAILBAG
From Bill B.:
Regarding the caramelized onions in your corn salad, do you ever microwave stem the chopped onions to cut cooking time when caramelizing them I do this when I’m making huge batches of onions. This usually cuts down on the amount of butter I need to use as well.

Dear Bill:
Brilliant. Next time, instead of cutting down on butter to save calories but then not quite caramelizing the onions so they don’t burn, I will try your trick. Thanks.