Summer Reading 2016: Tasting Your Way Through the Cuisine of the Jersey Shore

Twenty-nine carefully chosen recipes that demonstrate the delicious range of gustatory delights — from simple to sophisticated — to be had down on the Shore

While we’re on summer hiatus, we want to make sure we’re still giving our readers something to think about, so NJ Spotlight is continuing its annual summer reading series. Every day we’ll feature an excerpt from a recent book — from nonfiction to novels to poetry — with a New Jersey connection.

Ahh, summer at the Jersey shore. Grilling season, a breakfast of eggs with pork roll (or Taylor ham), seafood platters, and ice cream. Lately, though, dining at the Shore can be a lot more sophisticated as culinary school-trained chefs are opening restaurants that appeal any time of year — and take advantage of ingredients that are locally grown and harvested.

Deborah Smith, founder of the food blog Jersey Bites, has gathered 50 recipes from eateries along the shore in the “Jersey Shore Cookbook.” They range from traditional fare such as hotcakes with bacon and pork roll/Taylor ham; lobster roll; and fish sandwiches to more refined recipes like black sea bass with white peaches, tomatoes, and salsa; spiced corn chowder; and panna cotta.

This recipe, from the Labrador Lounge at Normandy Beach, is for Lobster Mac and Cheese.

Normandy Beach Lobster Mac and Cheese

From Labrador Lounge

Yield 10 to 15 servings

2016-mac and lobster
This comforting dish features pieces of rich lobster—tails and claws make for the best mac and cheese. Serve it as a side, family-style for a main course, or even in individual ramekins for a nice touch to any dinner-party display.

1 pound macaroni, such as elbows, shells, or orecchiette (or lobster-shaped pasta if you find it)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 cup cubed Swiss cheese

1 cup shredded Asiago cheese

3 cups heavy cream, divided

1/2 pound (1 cup) unsalted butter

3/4 cup chopped fresh chives

1/2 cup sliced shallots

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

2 cups cooked and diced lobster meat

Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

Breadcrumbs, to taste

1. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions, transfer to a colander, and drain.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Fit a metal mixing bowl over it to create a double boiler. Add all cheeses (except Parmesan) and 1 1/2 cups of the heavy cream.

3. Melt cheeses, stirring often to prevent burning. If mixture seems too stringy or clumpy, add some of the remaining cream. The texture should be velvety and a bit loose—the consistency of cheese soup.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add chives, shallots, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until shallots are tender. Add lobster and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes.

5. In a large bowl, combine lobster mixture and pasta and stir. Slowly add as much cheese mixture as desired.

6. Transfer mixture to an oven-safe dish and top with Parmesan and bread crumbs. Bake for 12 minutes, or until browned on top and warm in the middle.

—Credit: Marilyn Schlossbach, Labrador Lounge