Archive for the ‘Seafood’ Category

After the new year, I got a hankering to make a lobster bisque which is something I have never tackled before. The extent of my lobster experience (other than eating it) has been my grandfather’s annual “Lobster Fest” birthday celebration.  The tradition, started by our New Englander Uncle Bob, began with a birthday dinner one year for granddaddy who loved his “lobsta” so much that it became an annual family tradition. Aunt Mary Anne and Uncle Bob hosted dozens of guests, bringing in live lobsters and clams from Maine. The precious seafood was served up hot and fresh on top of newspapers with plenty of warm, drawn lemon butter.

Maine Lobster

I looked to the beloved Julia Child for a lobster bisque recipe and unfortunately, couldn’t find it in my cookbook.  I did, however, find a simple and elegant lobster stew recipe.  Oh such richness!  If you are like me and don’t like to spend Valentine’s Day out in restaurants fighting crowds for bad service and mediocre food, this could be a great entrée to make at home.

Lobster Stew
Adapted from Julia Child’s “The Way to Cook”
2 cooked 2-pound lobsters, females if possible, with their tomalley and roe (about 2 cups of lobster meat)
12 Tbs butter
1 ½ Tbs minced shallots or scallions
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
A big pinch of fresh, chopped tarragon
½ to 2/3 cup or more of heavy cream
1 tsp or so of tomato paste (if needed for color)
5 ½ cups half-and-half or light cream

Julia gives a couple of helpful tips about lobsters.  First, she recommends female lobsters so that you can make use of the roe for coloring and flavor.  It’s the roe that provides the pinkish color in soups and stews.  Second, Julia says that steaming lobsters is better than boiling.  She recommends steaming the lobsters for about 10 minutes or so.  A good test to check for doneness is to grab a small leg and taste the meat.  If the leg meat is done, the lobster is done.  Take the lobsters out and let them cool. Shell them, and cut 6 thin slices of tail or claw, cover, and refrigerate for final decoration.  Cut the remaining meat into bite-size pieces, and set aside.  Push the roe, if you have it, and the tomalley (the green stuff) through a sieve, and reserve

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in the frying pan, stir in the sieved tomalley and roe, and sauté slowly over moderately low heat for 5 minutes – it will turn a beige-pink; beige only if you have no roe.

Fold in the lobster meat and shallots or scallions, season lightly with salt, pepper, and tarragon, and fold in the remaining tablespoons of butter.  Continue the slow sauté another 5 minutes or so, gently folding the lobster in the butter as the roe gradually turns the meat a salmony pink.  Let this cool to tepid.

Meanwhile, heat the cream to tepid – the same temperature as the lobster meat.  Then, by small dribbles as though making mayonnaise, begin ladling the cream into the lobster meat, folding gently and continually while the cream absorbs the butter and takes on a pale lobster hue.  (You should blend in a little tomato paste here if needed for color – i.e., if you do not have female lobsters.) Season to taste with salt and pepper, and let cool, then cover and refrigerate.

Julia says to refrigerate since she recommends making this soup a day or 2 in advance so that the flavor has time to set in.

Serving: Folding gently, bring the stew slowly to below the simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.  (Meanwhile gently warm the reserved pieces of lobster meat in butter.) Taste the stew again for seasoning, and ladle the stew into hot soup cups or plates.  Rapidly float on each serving a slice of chilled butter on which you place a piece of lobster tail or claw.  Accompany with warm toast or English muffins. In the picture below, I actually finished the soup with fennel fronds.

Soup finished with fennel fronds


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Tallahassee, Florida is home to the Florida State Seminoles, state government, and my family.  It’s located in what we call the “panhandle” of our Sunshine State.  As you know, the Panhandle borders the Gulf of Mexico, a body of water that has recently met its match thanks to the unbelievable Deep Water Horizon oil spill.

I’m bitter – can you tell?  These are the beaches that I grew up on. I spent family vacations, spring breaks, and days in college when we just wanted to relax instead of going to class.  I caught my first “real fish” on this shoreline (a 10 pound black drum that was almost as tall as me!), jumped waves with my grandmother, and caught crabs in order to orchestrate “crab races” (it really didn’t take much to entertain me as a child!).

Over the last few weeks, I’ve experienced predictable emotions in response to disaster in the Gulf: anger and sadness.  But I’ve also experienced, unpredictably, joy.  Unable to to see into the future, Mike and I planned a trip with Boulder friends (who happen to be originally from Louisiana) to head to the beach in the Gulf.  And so, while I am angered and saddened by the oil disaster, I am grateful that in light of all of this, we were able to hop on a plane and beat the oil to our destination.  We made it.  I savored the trip as much as possible, realizing that this would be (short of a miracle) the last chance we would have to visit “my ocean” in the way that I remembered it.

And so, we chartered a boat for a little deep sea fishing and caught, cooked, and ate some snapper

We went to the local seafood market, Goatfeathers, for some grouper, shrimp, and tuna


Robert preparing the grouper for the grill

Grouper with blackening spices

Grouper on the grill

Bay shrimp (grey) and Gulf shrimp (pink - saltier, and sweeter)

My cousin Katie's, famous shrimp!


Prepared tuna platter with wasabi paste - compliments of Mike

And we made sure to spend plenty of time in the ocean and on the beach…

My two loves - Mike and ocean

Santa Rosa Beach - 10 miles from Destin, FL


Cousin Katie’s Delicious Peel n’ Eat Gulf Shrimp Recipe

Serves 2

1/4 cup of Old Bay seasoning (classic – loose powder, not in the bag)
1/4 cup of caraway seeds
1 lb of shrimp (shell and tail on, preferably fresh, if not fresh then at least thawed)
Large pot of water (filled with 1 or 1.5 gallons of water)
Seasoned salt (we like this one called Aunt Cora’s but I think that’s only available regionally)
1/4 cup of white vinegar

Fill the pot with the water, vinegar (vinegar helps make shrimp easy to peel), seeds, salt, and Old Bay.  Bring to a rolling boil and add shrimp.  Continue cooking until the water just comes to a boil again (sometimes even before.) It’s very important not to overcook the shrimp or they will be rubbery.  Once cooked, remove the pot from the heat and strain the shrimp.  Your strainer will collect seeds and spices.  I serve the shrimp hot or ice cold in a bowl with their seeds and remaining spices.  I also dust the shrimp with fresh Old Bay – or even sprinkle it on a plate to dip the shrimp in as I peel them.

Mike and I read about using the famous (or infamous) Sriracha Sauce (with the green lid and rooster on it) to mix with a little mayo.  It didn’t sound appealing to me at first but I tried it and it makes for a great tangy yet spicy dipping sauce for the shrimp.

Optional Sriracha Sauce Recipe

Sriracha Sauce
1/8 cup of mayonnaise
However much Sriracha you can handle

Mix together to your taste and voila!

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