Author: Norah Knight

No matter where you are in the world, there will be a preference for different pizza toppings. While most people think that by adding spinach to their slice is really shaking things up a bit, they need to understand that there are some really strange food items that are being used as toppings, all around the world. If you find it hard to believe that someone would prefer to eat their slices with or without cheese and pepperoni, then it is time for you to start expanding your knowledge of different cultures. A perfect example of weird toppings comes from the Japanese culture. Did you know that one of their most popular toppings is made with hot dogs as a part of the crust? You would assume that the hot dogs are chopped up before they are placed on top, but they are not. They are cut into shorter pieces and rolled into the outer edge of the crust. In the center, there are hamburger toppings, bacon, garlic and more. Plus this dish comes with a side serving of ketchup and maple syrup for sauce.

Frying an egg and placing on top of an all cheese pizza is a very popular and tasty way to eat this dish. While it may not look very appealing, it is very tasty and is thoroughly enjoyed all over the world. You could choose to have the egg fried hard, or do like most people and have the egg cooked until the yolk is lightly set. Once you take a bite into a slice, the running yolk acts as a sauce and adds a lot more flavor to the dish.

If you have a penchant for seafood, one style of this dish that may blow your mind and excite your tastes buds is one that has squid ink. While it may not look very appealing, it is rumored to be very tasty. Many people, who enjoy this style of pizza, tend to have their favorite seafood toppings added to it and they use the squid ink as a sauce that goes right on top, to complete the dish.

If you have already eaten something for lunch or dinner, you may be in the mood for a dessert. Pizza doesn’t always have to be a savory dish. There are some desserts that are in the style of Italian pie, and instead of dough with tomato sauce and cheese, cream and fruit are the topping. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you like to have for your toppings, as long as you enjoy eating them.

As most of you probably know, yogurt is prepared using milk. In the US, cows have become the primary source of this milk, though it can also come from sheep, goat and water buffalo. In fact, milk from sheep and goat has a much higher fat content and more nutritional value; the first yogurt probably came from these animals. Yogurt is created by introducing bacteria to the milk. Though the actual discovery of yogurt is still unclear, it is likely that natural enzymes in animal’s stomachs curdled with milk during the milking process, forming something similar to what we now know as yogurt.

Yogurt was discovered 4,000 years ago by nomadic Turkish peoples in Central Asia. It quickly spread throughout the Middle East, becoming a staple of many of these people’s meals as well as a signature food of the Ottoman diet. Yogurt became popular and important for a few reasons. Firstly, milk spoiled very quickly back in the day, turning bad after only a few hours. Yogurt, in addition to extending the life of milk, was easier to digest because the bacteria assisted in breaking down lactose. It can be said that yogurt was the first probiotic. High in fat, protein, vitamins and calcium, yogurt was considered a sort of miracle food for people throughout the Ottoman Empire.

The Ottoman Empire, an incredibly culturally and ethnically diverse group of people (including, among others, Turks, Greeks, Armenians and Kurds), was key in the introduction of yogurt around much of the western world. In the 16th century Francis the 1st, the King of France, had life-threatening diaria. Suleiman the Magnificent, a friend of Francis’ and the most iconic and legendary of the Ottoman Sultans, sent a doctor to cure him. As the legend goes, the doctor prescribed yogurt for the King and his diarrhea was cured not long thereafter. However, it wasn’t until the late 19th-century that yogurt really began to take its hold on the western world. The Ottoman Empire was increasingly weaker during these years and many people were leaving it as a result of its crumbling state: as these people left yogurt was brought with them. During this period one scientist identified the yogurt bacteria and spread knowledge about yogurt health benefits. Yogurt being eaten as an every day food happened a bit later. In 1919, a Jewish doctor by the name of Isaac Carasso left the Ottoman Empire and settled in Barcelona. He began a yogurt plant that he named after his son, Danone. This has now grown into Danon, the largest yogurt company in the world. Armenian immigrants fleeing the Armenian genocide introduced yogurt to the United States, though it didn’t really catch on until Daniel, the son of Isaac, opened a yogurt factory in New York in the 1940’s.

  • Stock up food, canned goods and instant foods in your shelves. Before a storm hits, make sure you’ve stocked up enough food in your shelves and fridge. Most of the stores and other establishments tend to close when a mega-storm like Sandy hits.
  • Keep your foods on the shelves and not on the ground. Make sure that you put your foods on the shelves or in the fridge. In case of flooding, your foods wouldn’t be contaminated by dirty flood water.
  • Keep perishable foods cold. A fridge can hold up cold for your food for as long as 4 hours (as long as the door is closed) while a full freezer can hold up for 48 hours.
  • Use an ice box to store your food in case of power outage. In case you don’t have a full freezer an ice box or any clean large containers that can seal cold with ice will keep your food cold.
  • Have a appliance thermometer. This is to ensure that you know how cold your appliances like your fridge or freezer is when there is a power outage.
  • Buy or make ice. This is to make sure that you have enough tools to make your food as cold as it can be until the power returns. Make sure that your ice box has its own ice.
  • Wash your hands before and after you touch food. This is to ensure we eliminate any possibilities of cross-contamination and prevent foodborne-illnesses to spread.
  • Before preparing food, make sure that all utensils and surroundings is clean. Make sure that everything is clean before using it when cutting or placing food. Kitchen counters, utensils, chopping board and others should be clean before placing any food in it.
  • Clean the food if necessary. Wash fruits and vegetables but don’t wash meat, poultry and eggs says the FDA. This is to prevent the spread of foodborne viruses.
  • Cook the food properly. Make sure that you properly cook the food with the FDA’s recommended temperature and minutes of cooking. You can also check the FDA website to know when to throw away your food.

Though it possesses an engaging history that spans over 5000 years, Chinese culinary history only began to be documented during the 5th Century B.C. and evolved across several dynastic periods including the Han, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. Imperial oversight played an important role in the development of culinary trends. A cook’s work was set to strict culinary rules determined by the emperor and senior officials. China’s varied regional, climatic and cultural influences saw the development of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes with exclusions that followed the availability or religious significance of certain ingredients. Over the last 2000 years, Chinese cooking saw the development of strong culinary differences across the banks of the Yangtze River. European travellers brought with them dairy products, a class of products rarely found in historical culinary records. The blurring of cultural and geographic lines led to the development of regional cuisines and the ‘Four Schools’ and ‘Eight Schools’ of this cuisine as well as several dietary trends. Today, we know these as ‘cleansing’ or ‘balanced’ diets. Ancient Chinese cookbooks list nearly 200 distinct vegetables and over 100 types of meat that featured on imperial and common menus throughout the country. Through all these cultural, religious and imperial upheavals, the core philosophy of this cuisine has been moderation, balance and harmony.

Chinese food has always enjoyed immense popularity in the West. Today, there are nearly 50,000 Chinese restaurants in the United States, a tribute to the popularity of a culinary style that feeds over a billion people every day. Some of the most popular Chinese dishes that find their place on tables around the world include:

Chow Mein: This delicious marriage of hand-drawn noodles, meat and select vegetables such as Bok Choy and bamboo shoot. Chow Mein, served crispy or soft is popular comfort food in the West and may be served with a hot sauce or with a choice of milder, aromatic sauces.

Duck: Roast duck is easily the most popular gourmet delicacy served up in Chinese restaurants. The modern Peking duck is a challenging interpretation of an imperial recipe that serves up a beautifully glazed roast duck with aromatic herb sauces and tender meat. Some gastronomes have gone as far as to name it ‘China’s National Dish’

Xiaolongbao: These soup dumplings form excellent finger food and accompany other dishes. These steamed buns are served with soups and several gravies including a garlic vinegar sauce or a Schezwan dip. A culinary cousin, the sweet Lai Wong Bao is the perfect end to a Chinese meal.

Kung Pao Chicken: One of the most popular savory dishes from southwest China, Kung Pao chicken is one of the best examples of a recipe that has survived since the imperial aristocracy of the Qing dynasty. This delicately flavored chicken is typically cooked in peanut oil.

The diversity of China’s varied cuisine places hundreds of ingredients at a cook’s disposal. Some of the most ingredients unique to Chinese modern cuisine include Shaoxing rice wine, Nanjing Chinkiang vinegar, sesame and groundnut (peanut) oils, Hoisin sauce, spring onions, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, red chili, mushroom and shiitakes or dried mushroom. These ingredients are combined to create the legendary flavors of Chinese cuisine and combined with a palate of over a dozen spices. Five spice powder—a combination of Cinnamon, Cloves, Fennel seeds, Schezwan peppers and star anise — rounds off the list of essential ingredients of the Chinese kitchen.

The Chinese people attribute their long lifespan and excellent quality of life to the philosophy and style of culinary arts. Centuries of refining the harmony of food groups offer several significant dietary benefits. One of the key benefits of Chinese dishes come from the use of steamed ingredients and well-balanced food groups. Most vegetables and some meats are steamed and have a much lower lipid composition. Very few Chinese dishes are deep-fried and are far healthier than most other South Asian cuisines. The use of rice and wheat in noodles is a perfect combination of carbohydrate energy and the wheat aids to slow down digestion for sustained energy release. The use of soy as a primary vegetable protein is considered one of the healthiest culinary features of this cuisine.

Over time, the term ‘Chinese food’ has, quite inaccurately, expanded to include South-East Asian cuisines such as Thai, Malay and Singaporean cuisines. Every country has its own interpretations (and often, distortions) of Chinese dishes. American-Chinese and Indo-Chinese cuisines have emerged from the shadows of being dubious imitations to culinary art forms that pay respect to both cuisines. As the world appreciates the curative benefits and flavor of healthy Chinese food more chefs are beginning to study and experience the magic of this beautiful, balanced style of food.

Types of buffets

The following types of buffets are generally found in some of the Best Buffet Restaurants and could be selected according to the requirements of the customer.

  • Cafeteria style: In this type of buffet, customers are required to select plates of food according to their choice while waiting in a queue. The cafeteria-style buffet is less frequently practised in restaurants.
  • All You Can Eat: The name says it all! These buffet styles are considered as the most beneficial investments on behalf of the customers as they would have to pay a single price for serving themselves with a wide assortment of delicacies. However, it is interesting to note that the popularity of All You Can Eat buffets is waning due to the increasing threats of obesity.
  • Healthy Buffets: These concepts are followed by restaurants that provide soups, fresh produce and salad bars in their menus and promote healthy eating habits. However, these could not be considered as one of the Best Buffet Restaurants owing to the criticisms on the basis of the higher calorie content of specific menu items.
  • Catered buffets: The catered buffets approach is followed by restaurants which specialize in business meetings, special occasions, and weddings as well as holiday parties and also involve facilities of off-site catered buffets in certain cases.

Pros and Cons of restaurant buffets

While it is explicitly observed that the Best Buffet Restaurants have changed the way people looked at dining alongside reforming the traditional approaches followed in the restaurant business, it is also important to focus on the positive as well as negative sides to buffet restaurants.

  • Restaurants could leverage the benefit of minimal workforce required for conducting buffets. Furthermore, a lot of customers could be served at once thereby implying the promising opportunities for higher income.
  • Buffets serve as promotional tactics and can be used to lure in customers who would not have dined at a restaurant otherwise due to budget concerns.
  • The pricing of the buffet menu in the Best Buffet Restaurants is tailored to provide opportunities to customers for enjoying diverse cuisines and delicacies without making a dent in their budgets.
  • On the contrary, restaurants also face limitations especially in terms of profit margins as buffets generally cost less than the conventional sit-down dinner.

Unlike some other meats – such as chicken – lamb have a reputation for being of a higher quality when imported from other areas of the world. Notably, lamb from New Zealand has a strong reputation throughout the world for being extremely tender and flavorful – other areas include Wales and Canada. The need for imported lamb also drives up its overall cost. Despite its cost and exotic nature, lamb is an extremely versatile meat and can be used in just about any situation where beef would ordinarily be used.

Lamb is a common ingredient in Scottish food, and many countries pride themselves on the succulence of their lamb dishes. Lamb is certainly a meat that can be eaten on its own, but it works well in a number of different modes. It can be a basic dish, all the way up to one of the most complicated and expensive dishes on the menu.

The most common lamb recipes consist of slowly roasting the meat and eaten with potatoes and vegetables. Traditionally, this forms a ‘roast dinner’ and is preferential as the lamb is nice enough to be enjoyed on a bare dish. Lamb requires minimal seasoning, and can be dry roasted for several hours. Typically, one may slow roast a leg of lamb for around 6 hours on 150. The key thing to remember about roasting lamb, especially a leg of lamb, is that it should not be cooked at a high heat, and if it is, it should not be roasted at that heat for too long.

Lamb recipes can also be enjoyed mixed into meals, such as a replacement for ground beef in a cottage pie. Or in a simple stir fry to put a fresh new twist on an old tradition. Alternatively, lamb can be enjoyed skewered over a grill with vegetables or other meats – this is a common Mediterranean dish and is one of the most simple ways to enjoy lamb.

Black beans, being such a traditional American foodstuff (and note that I’m talking about The Americas here, not USA – get off your USA centric high horse!) is featured in many traditional recipes. You can get chili con carne with them; enchiladas with them; attractive corn and black bean salads; soups with them; and stews with them. One of the simplest ways to enjoy them is to eat them stewed up with just salt, and fried onion and garlic. You could add some lime and leaf coriander (cilantro) to add some extra “Mexican” taste to it, too.

Did you know that black beans have the most fibre of any bean known to man? They are also high in iron and protein, as well as many other nutrients. In fact, that trademark black colour signifies the presence of a nutrient – anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are antioxidants, and as such protect against cancer as well as other illnesses.

The nutrient richness of black beans is such that many have found it to help with gout. A simple broth made out of it can help immensely with gout symptoms for many people. Black soya works in the same way, which contains the same anthocyanins which the black turtle bean has, but which is otherwise quite different from the black turtle bean, so it would seem that it is the anthocyanins which are helping here.

If you’ve never tried these beans before, I suggest you give it a go! They are easy enough to find in Mexican food stores, as well as in organic stores and big supermarkets in general. Just soak them overnight with some bicarbonate of soda, and then drain and boil for about 30 minutes or until soft. You can then use them in salads, or keep them in their cooking liquid to make a soup (add vegetables and seasonings) or a stew (just mash a few of the beans until the consistency is thick).

Russian stuffed eggs

There are as many different Russian stuffed eggs recipes as there are grandmothers, and most families have their own version which is handed down from one generation to the next. Mushrooms are commonly used for stuffing hard boiled eggs, to make a wonderful and tasty appetizer or snack for your party. Other Russian households make devilled eggs with hard boiled eggs stuffed with cheese and vegetables. Others might prefer more high brow or exotic ingredients like caviar, salmon, or finely chopped bacon.

Hard boiled eggs in Pirozhki

These are small flaky buns, that are usually stuffed with either meat or fruit. These buns are a popular, traditional, Russian snack. Although most people stuff them, most often, with mince or fruits and vegetables, you can make a mean pirozhki by substituting the filling with hard boiled eggs. In both sweet and savory fillings, a substitution or addition of eggs is possible.

Sweet or savory stuffings

The sweet pirozhki often contain fresh or stewed fruit, like apples, cherries, and apricots, either by themselves or combined with cottage cheese, or jam. Whether these will go well with eggs is your decision. Take a call on what combination of tastes you want, before you incorporate the eggs. The savory version on the other hand lends itself well to eggs, complementing the meat, fish, vegetables, oatmeal, or rice that are the common fillings.

Blini stuffed with hard boiled eggs

You can change and experiment with many other kinds of common Russian foods with the addition of hard boiled eggs. These crepes can be turned into savory rolls with the addition of this extra touch. Once you have the crepes made, in the usual way, for example, you can set them aside to prepare the stuffing. Think about all the ways in which you want to dress the dish up, add body, or make the serving a more rounded meal. Diced onions, shredded carrot, shredded cabbage, garlic, chives, and herbs care all good additions to the stuffing.

In more recent years, however, it has become clear that hydroponic growers are mastering their craft and producing fruits and vegetables that have surpassed the taste and quality of some of their soil-grown competitors. I now confess to choosing a particular type of tomato, basil, and salad green over all others at the grocery store, and (with great surprise!) they are all grown hydroponically. That got me to thinking. If these growers can produce such outstanding tomatoes, basil, and lettuce, couldn’t I produce an outstanding hydroponic wheatgrass?

While I am a strong proponent of soil-grown, it has caused me a fair number of infrastructure problems in my growing operation throughout the years. Soil definitely has its place, outdoors and in greenhouses, but for an indoor growing operation–in my case, a 300 square foot year-round, climate-controlled growing room akin to a laboratory setting–it wreaks havoc and has caused me innumerable problems in the way of soilborne pathogens, dust, odors, storage limitations, and physical injury. Even when one works as cleanly as possible, soil has a way of taxing indoor air cleaning systems, which can turn into hundreds and even thousands of dollars in maintenance costs when the system unexpectedly and prematurely fails because of fine dust buildup.

During the years when I was growing primarily in soil, I was also experimenting with soilless media for my floral wheatgrass crops. Call me crazy, but I just didn’t like the idea of putting soil on a fancy dinner table for the above-mentioned reasons: pathogens, dust, odors. Also, soil wasn’t the easiest thing for florists to work with when they needed to cut pieces to fit their decorating needs. So I began growing in coco coir (ground coconut husks), which turned out to be an exceptional growing medium. The simple fact that it is not soil is what makes it a hydroponic growing medium, and thus began my journey as a hydroponic grower. Coco coir looked and acted just like soil, only it was pathogen-free, retained water longer and more evenly, didn’t cast odors, and didn’t present the mold problems that soil seemed to present at times. Because it was packaged in dry compressed bricks, it was lighter than soil, took up less storage space, and eliminated the issue of frozen soil in winter. My only problem with coco coir was its nutritional value. Sure, it produced a nice looking short grass for floral use, but could it possibly provide the same nutritional benefits as soil for my juicing clients? If not, what did I need to do to bring this growing medium to a place where I could feel good about selling what I was growing to customers who valued product nutrition above all else?

First of all, let’s look at the nutritional needs of the wheat berry as it sprouts, produces shoots, and becomes the grass that is eventually harvested. Seeds generally do not require any nutritional amendments when they are just sprouting. That is true of wheat berries as much as it is true of any other seed. The nutrition a seed requires to sprout into a baby green essentially comes from the seed itself. It’s when a plant’s second set of leaves begin to emerge that it depends on its growing medium as a lifeline. At that point, all conscientious growers, whether they grow in soil, coco coir, water, or anything else, take measures to ensure that their growing medium is equipped to support the nutritional requirements of the plant.

After a great deal of experimentation, I have found that wheatgrass does fine in coco coir up until it is time to harvest and pretty much not a moment more. Sure, the entire tray doesn’t yellow all at once because not every single wheat berry sprouts at exactly the same time, but the moment each little shoot begins to require more nutrition for its next level of maturity (when the grass begins to form another blade), it no longer has what it needs to thrive in coco coir alone and begins to yellow, much more dramatically than when the grass is grown in soil. This predictable yellowing tells me that I am working with some sort of nutritional deficiency in the growing medium and that nutritional supplementation is required.

So, let us look at what types of nutrients coco coir has to offer, what types of nutrients wheat requires, and what our options are in terms of healthy organic supplementation to help get us to where we need to be on a nutritional level and feel good about our hydroponically-grown grass in a way that we have come to feel good about our soil-grown grass.

  • pH. First and foremost, let’s look at pH. Exceedingly important to keep that right. Without the proper soil/water pH, everything else goes out the window. Wheat grows best at a pH between 6.0 and 7.0, which is slightly acid. I have personally found that it grows best somewhere around 6.5. As mentioned in one of my previous articles, the slight soil acidity enables the plant to process all of the required micro and macronutrients most efficiently. I realize that is tough concept to swallow for some folks who are looking to alkalize their bodies using wheatgrass, but trust me on this one: soil alkalinity does not equal body alkalinity. At least not here. So if you are growing in soil, this means testing your soil supply periodically with a soil testing kit, and also testing your water with the proper metering device to make sure that you are not flooding your wheatgrass everyday with something that is either too acid or alkaline for your grass.

Coco coir itself does not need to be measured with a soil tester. Its pH is pretty stable at the correct level, between 6.0 and 6.5 straight out of the bag. It’s when you add that 7:1 ratio of water to your coco coir that everything has the potential to change, so having a meter that measures water pH is extremely important for hydroponic growers as well. I cannot stress that enough. My water tends to be very alkaline, close to 8.0, so I add a little bit of citric acid to my water bath before soaking the coco coir. It only takes a tiny bit to dramatically change the water pH. Citric acid is naturally derived from citrus fruits and provides a short-term correction to an alkaline growing medium. For a short-term crop like wheatgrass, citric acid works perfectly.

  • Macronutrients. Next, let’s look at the macronutrients. All plants need Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) to survive, each in varying quantities depending on the plant. For wheat, higher levels of Potassium are desired by farmers for higher protein content in the grain, but that potassium uptake is not even a factor until the heading stage, and it is irrelevant for the purposes of harvesting wheatgrass. Because wheatgrass is harvested as a baby green, technically halfway through its first stage of growth, it does not require heavy fertilization. Suffice it to say, unless your soil is entirely deficient in one of the three macronutrients, your wheatgrass should be just fine, but the only way to know exactly what you are working with is with a soil testing kit. A simple soil testing kit to tell you if your NPK ranges are high, medium or low is all you really need as a home grower or small business owner. A low reading on any of the three macronutrients calls for some sort of soil amendment to bring things into balance.

Coco coir, on the other hand, is a given. It is naturally high in Potassium, with lower levels of Nitrogen and Phosphorous, which means that the type of natural amendment we are looking for is one that provides Nitrogen (to help give a plant its proper green) and Phosphorous (for strong young root growth) but not as much Potassium (which, in excess, can actually inhibit nitrogen levels). What I have found to work best for my needs is the addition of spent coffee grounds to my coco coir mix, which gives a nice Nitrogen boost (solving the problem of yellow grass) and helps increase Phosphorous for strong root growth without also increasing Potassium too much. With the coco coir, I like to keep my amendments plant-based as this presents more immediately bioavailable nutrition for the roots of my short-term crop. Coffee grounds do not seem to present composting issues that can damage a baby crop, and contrary to popular belief, spent coffee grounds are not high in acid. The pH of spent coffee grounds measures with some variability in the 6.0 range, which is exactly where we want to be with wheatgrass. If you choose to use spent coffee grounds, be sure to refrigerate them until use.

  • Micronutrients. Coco coir, while not a micronutrient powerhouse, actually does carry with it an array of low-level micronutrients, including iron, magnesium, copper, and boron. It is not enough to really make a substantial difference in a maturing crop, however, so it is probably a good idea to supplement coco coir with a nice liquid organic fertilizer packed with micronutrients, like liquid kelp, which is immediately bioavailable to the roots of our short-term wheatgrass crop and can easily be added to the coir’s initial water bath. Remember that wheatgrass does not require a whole lot though, so pour judiciously. Remember, you just need enough to carry you through those last couple of days before harvest. Liquid kelp, while lacking in macronutrients, provides an ample supply of micronutrients, trace minerals, amino acids, and natural plant hormones to help stimulate growth and produce a nutritious baby green. Even folks who prefer to grow in soil find liquid kelp to be a wonderful soil amendment.

You can cook more than 1 lobster at a time but make sure that you have a pan large enough so they won’t be crowded.

Put enough water in the pan so when the lobster is added the water will completely cover them.

Put enough water in the pan and add 1 tablespoon of salt for every quart of water.

Bring the water to a rapid boil and add the lobster head first.

Start timing. Do not cover the pot and stir a couple times.

  • If lobster weighs 1 pound… cook for 12 minutes
  • 1 ½ pound… 14 minutes
  • 2 pounds… 16 minutes
  • 2 ½ pounds… 20 minutes
  • 3 pounds… 25 minutes

If you are doing more than one lobster use the weight of one lobster not the total weight when figuring the cooking time.

To check if the lobster is done pull on one of the small legs, they should come off easily and the meat should be opaque, not translucent and the shell should be bright red. The best way to check is with a meat thermometer. Lobster is done at 140 degrees. Overcooking will toughen the lobster.

You will need a pan with a cover, large enough to hold the lobster without crowding. Add 2 inches of water to the pan and bring it to a rapid boil. Add the lobster head first into the water and cover the pan.

Start timing.

  • If lobster weighs 1 pound… cook for 12 minutes
  • 1 ½ pound… 14 minutes
  • 2 pounds… 16 minutes
  • 2 ½ pounds… 20 minutes
  • 3 pounds… 25 minutes

If you are doing more than one lobster use the weight of one lobster not the total weight when figuring the cooking time.

To check if the lobster is done pull on one of the small legs, they should come off easily and the meat should be opaque, not translucent and the shell should be bright red. The best way to check is with a meat thermometer. Lobster is done at 140 degrees. Don’t ruin an expensive meal, use a meat thermometer. Overcooking will toughen the lobster.