These are a few of my favourite things

Lobster  prepped and ready to go!

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing?  Well quite possibly.  However when your very favourite things to eat are expensive and seasonal, they tend to be treats you save for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, or pay-day the month after you did a crazy amount of overtime.

My favourite decadent things to eat are lobster and truffles.  Pretty obvious choices right? Basically if something has either of these ingredients in it, I’m going to want to try it.  Many people think that caviar or oysters are the ultimate in sophistication, and don’t get me wrong – I certainly wouldn’t turn away from a caviar-topped blini or oysters on the half shell. But for me, the best special occasion dinner would include either lobster or truffles.

Risotto is another favourite dish of mine, something we actually make most weeks.  I love that risotto is something you can put almost anything in, depending on what’s in season or even what you have in your fridge.  I have had lobster risotto before, and risotto with truffle is something I enjoyed last autumn on our trip to the Piedmont region of Italy.  Both are delicious and decadent, and excellent ways to showcase these special ingredients.

Last winter I came across a recipe for truffled lobster risotto and wondered if maybe it would be overkill.  If I’ve learned anything about cooking with things like truffles, it’s that you don’t want to mess around too much with them. After much debate, we decided to give the risotto a try, and it’s fair to say that we were more than pleasantly surprised. Somehow both of these show-stopping ingredients shone through and complemented each other beautifully.  To be honest, I was kind of impressed that we had turned out something this gourmet from our tiny kitchen!  I was also pleased at how economical a recipe it was, considering it used expensive ingredients – the lobster tails go quite far (you also use the shells in the stock) and truffle oil is used very sparingly.

If you’re looking for an excuse to celebrate with a delicious dinner, and lobster and truffle are some of your favourite things, then this is the recipe for you!

Truffled Lobster Risotto – Serves 4

From Bon Appetit, January 1998

Ingredients

  • 2 8-ounce uncooked lobster tails
  • 3 1/2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons white or black truffle oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped peeled carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Cook lobster in large pot of simmering salted water until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl of cold water to cool. Drain lobster. Remove meat from shells; reserve shells. Cut meat into 1/2-inch pieces.
  2. Break shells into large pieces. Place on baking sheet; bake 15 minutes. Blend shells with 1 cup chicken broth in blender until finely chopped. Strain through fine sieve. Reserve lobster broth; discard shells.
  3. Bring 2 1/2 cups chicken broth to simmer; keep hot. Heat 1 tablespoon truffle oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots and shallots; sauté 2 minutes. Add rice; stir 2 minutes. Add brandy; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until brandy is absorbed, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add lobster broth and 3/4 of chicken broth. Simmer until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy, adding remaining broth by 1/4 cupfuls as needed and stirring often, about 20 minutes.
  5. Add lobster and cream; stir until heated through. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons truffle oil and chives. Season with salt and pepper.
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Happy St. Lobster’s Day!

 

Ok, so I’m NOT a Valentine’s Day girl….really. Really? Really.

Truth is I spent the better part of 30 years of my life not liking (caring) about the dreaded “V-day”, and instead would spend the 14th bonding (whining) with my single girlfriends about how commercial (tragic) Valentine’s Day was, how it didn’t mean anything (everything), and how we’d rather DIE than be stuck in some cheesy restaurant, with some cheesy guy eating way too much cheese (mmmmm cheese). Never. Nevernevernever. Never.

And then I met the love of my life. In a completely non-cheesy way of course – we don’t do cheese….well we like it on a board after dessert served with crackers, but otherwise nope. No cheese for us. And after a couple of forced Valentine’s Day cheesy dinner dates with N (we even technically got ENGAGED on the dreaded V-Day, something N had actually forgotten until I reminded him earlier, and of course it was the most non-cheesy engagement ever…as you’d expect from me….), I realised that the best way to spend a cold February evening with another human being you love is to stay home and cook a fantastic dinner. Screw the greeting card industry, screw very expensive red roses, screw crappy chocolates (although I will still accept all of the above – N take note). The thing you, me, and the rest of the world needs is something nice to do on a cold evening approximately halfway between New Year’s Eve and the start of spring – and when I think of something nice to do, I think of cooking delicious, rich, luxurious food and sharing it with someone equally nice. And that nice person CAN be your partner/spouse/sweetheart, but it could just as easily be your best friend or your favourite cousin. Find someone you like and make a great meal – this is an excellent excuse!

And so, I hereby re-Christen February 14th as St. Lobster Day.

I realise that I’m not in any official capacity to change holidays, and that lobsters probably aren’t saints (although they might have a patron saint – must check) but go with me here. If lobster isn’t your bag of tricks (and I’ll respect that – but I’m pretty shocked) then find something else that you wouldn’t normally cook for a Tuesday night dinner. A fantastic piece of steak, some fabulous pasta concoction with too much cream in the sauce, mussels, anything deep-fried – the point is to spoil yourself and the person you’re spending the evening with. And why not? You deserve it – because it’s St. Lobster Day!

Tonight N and I feasted on pancetta-wrapped tiger prawns (nice), mini-Yorkshire puddings with rare beef and horseradish cream (lovely), and the piece de resistance, Lobster Linguine (fantastic!). I will admit to cutting back the recipe from two lobsters to one – somewhat because at £18 a pop, it seemed a bit more fiscally responsible of me in these times of financial restraint, but also because when I got to the fish monger, he only had one lobster remaining. Shocking! I guess we’re not the only ones celebrating – happy St. Lobster Day everyone!

 

Lobster Fettuccine for Two

recipe courtesy of Canadian Living Magazine

We did use one lobster less than they suggested, and the results were just lovely. But heck, if you can buy two lobsters, why not go for it?!

Ingredients
• 2 cooked lobsters, (2 lb/1 kg total)
• 8 oz (227 g) fettuccine
• 1 tbsp (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 shallot, minced
• 1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
• 1 pinch hot pepper flakes
• 1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white wine
• 1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped fresh parsley
• 1/4 cup (60 ml) whipping cream or double cream

Preparation
Place each lobster on cutting board; twist off tail. With sharp chef’s knife, cut tail in half lengthwise; remove meat from tail and cut into chunks. Place in bowl.

Remove claws from body. With blunt side of knife, crack claws; pull apart shell and remove meat. Cut into chunks and add to bowl. Pull off back shell; remove white protein clumps and discard. Keep green or yellow tomalley (liver) and add to bowl, if desired. Reserve shells for lobster stock, if desired. (Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.)

In large pot of boiling salted water, cook fettuccine until tender but firm, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup (50 ml) of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, in large non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat; fry lobster, garlic, shallot, salt and hot pepper flakes until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add wine; cook for 1 minute. Add parsley, cream, pasta and reserved cooking liquid; toss to coat and heat through.