Summer is a busy time for Maine families as we try to squeeze in every ray of sunshine before the long, cold winter. Our home becomes a literal bed-and-breakfast as we delight in entertaining family and friends with picnics on the beach, hikes in the mossy Crockett Cove woods preserve, sunset suppers and cocktails on the deck. And of course, everyone who visits the Pine Tree State wants to eat Maine lobster.
Once the lobsters start to crawl closer to shore to molt and shed their shells, the harvest season really picks up. A soft-shell lobster, or “sheddah,” is one that has recently lost its outer shell to grow into a new one. Although there will be less meat inside a soft-shell lobster as compared to hard shell, the meat can be much sweeter, and a lot easier to pick.
Our summer weekly routine includes cooking up six to eight shedders at a time, picking the meat and enjoying it in lobster rolls, lobster stew, lobster pasta salads and savory lobster cheesecake.
The recipe for this savory cheesecake dates back to a class I taught on Maine Lobster Cuisine in 2005. At the time, I was developing recipes for the Maine Lobster Promotion Council and educating consumers on the rich culinary history of the Maine lobster. Recipes for the preparation to fry, stew and “boil to eat cold the common way” appeared in the 1664 edition of English cook and zoology professor Robert May’s “The Accomplisht Cook or the Art & Mystery of Cooking.” In the 1850s, thrifty Maine housewives developed numerous recipes such as lobster and noodle ring, lobster croquette and lobster rarebit.
Lobster cheesecake is very easy to make with three simple ingredients: soft cheese, eggs and a base. The soft cheese (cream cheese, goat cheese or fresh dairy cheese) and egg are combined to provide the cheesecake structure. The base, chopped lobster and minced herbs, provides the flavor.
We like to treat folks to Lobster Cheesecake with crusty bread and fresh vegetables for a simple lunch, or cocktail snack. On special occasions, serve up Lobster Cheesecake with piping hot popovers and a green salad. For relaxed, summer entertaining, make up a batch of these cheesecakes and freeze them. Remove from the freezer, bake and serve. Maine summer at its best!
8 oz. cream cheese or soft goat cheese at room temperature
¼ lb. (4 oz.) Maine lobster meat, cooked and chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped shallot or onion
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Grease two 8-oz. ramekins
Finely chop the fresh herbs and shallot. Chop the lobster into small pieces.
Add the room-temperature soft cheese to the bowl of your food processor or electric mixer. Pulse or beat the soft cheese until it has a smooth consistency with no lumps. Slowly beat in the egg. Add the chopped herbs and the Maine lobster and gently mix.
Spoon the mixture into the greased ramekins. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden and set.
Serve with fresh veggie sticks and crusty French bread or crackers. Each ramekin serves two people as an appetizer.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 245 calories, 11 grams protein, 3.4 grams carbohydrate, 21 grams fat, 291 mg. sodium, less than 1 gram fiber.