Friday, February 21, 2014

Repost: Lobster Bisque

I should have posted this on Superbowl Sunday...this was a good one--I made lobster bisque with spiny lobsters (warm water lobsters caught by my host that morning, most likely)...but I still love my Maine lobsters for the bisque...But this version was pretty awesome...

This was January, 2009...

Lobster Bisque (or: I Like My Friends)

Go Steelers...oh, this is about food, isn't it? Well, as we were wondering where we should watch the game, G was thinking a bar with a big crowd, I was thinking my couch with a big TV in front of me...a text came through from the T household: Super Bowl, their place, did we want to join them and another couple or two?

Of course we do. This is an event, after all.

Then comes the next text:
Can you make lobster bisque.

Yeeessss, I think, wondering if he is going to make fun of me for something or if he really wants to know...Yes, I text back.

DT: I have 4 (Florida lobster) tails. Can you make it for the game?

Oh, is THAT all? So K comes over with six tails (even better), luckily still in the shell--and I head out for ingredients. That's how I spent my Saturday evening. Well, that and cleaning, as you will see if you read on.

My go-to is Best Soups and Stews from the publishers of Cook's Illustrated...looks delish. And it IS delicious...but man, what a lot of steps.

And you know the part where they want you to process the shells into a paste? Imagine the lid of the processor getting knocked off by those hard shells and lobster schmutz flying All. Over. The. Place. I need to shower before bed tonight. I was wiping down walls for about 20 minutes.

Those shells went into the stock WHOLE.

Maybe the flavor is more intense with the paste, but this will have to do. Bourbon instead of brandy, too, because I am a Kentucky girl at heart..(oh, that and the fact that there was no brandy in the cupboard).

In the meantime, the tool toll: one stockpot, a cast iron skillet, a small bowl, a large bowl, a second stockpot, kitchen shears, a veg cutting board, a fish cutting board, a large measuring cup, a ladle, a fine mesh strainer, one large chef's knife, one pair spring-loaded tongs, the food processor (and a sponge to wipe down the walls after my topless accident) and a spatula. Oh, my shirt. My hair...I hope crunched up lobster shells don't hurt dogs too much, too.

Everyone had better LOVE this soup.

This, some empanadas and cookies for dessert? Nice start to a Super Bowl meal.

Here is the host enjoying the fruits of my labor/his inspired idea. He looks happy to me...

Go Steelers. (Later that night: Way to go, Steelers...Best. Game. Ever.)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Best Fish Tacos. Ever.

Poor Babette Feasts!! It's not as if I haven't been EATING. I just haven't been writing about eating. Or cooking, for that matter..
But I have to tell you about the fish tacos I got to eat on Los Cerritos beach in Cabo--I can describe them as the best fish tacos I've ever had and the simplest fish tacos I may have ever had, too--

My friend MJ invited me to be her guest on a work trip--who could say no to that? So off I flew to fall in love with Cabo San Jose and Los Cerritos and Todos Santos, an artsy little town up the Pacific coast from Cabo San Lucas (where I did NOT really do anything but pass through)...We took a jeep tour with our buddy Marco (from High Tide Adventures--highly recommend), broke down, UN-broke down, drove to  beautiful Todos Santos (where Hotel California is...they say where THE Hotel Califonia is!!) then he drove us back towards this beautiful, world-renowned surf beach called Los Cerritos to Los Cerritos Beach Club,

 where we had these fish tacos while watching the surfers...

The tortillas were freshly made, each having a bit of char on them from the griddle where they'd been cooked. Then each was filled with fat chunks of fresh white fish (wahoo? grouper? I don't know. It didn't was awesome)...add a scoop of chunky guacamole and a scoop of fresh pico de gallo--we sat in the shade of an umbrella eating fish tacos and watched the surfers and watched the waves crash onto sand that is black and flecked with gold sparkles.

MJ Agrees: Best Fish Tacos Ever.
Best. Fish. Tacos. Ever.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Brown Butter Shortbread

Sooooo. Not a lot of baking this Christmas. I made Martha Stewart's shortbread (awesome recipe, Ms. Martha), but most of that went to school for friends and teachers...(I was SURE there would be some left...). So when I decided I really wanted to bake something for keepers, I made Brown Butter Shortbread. This is so good. Between the browned butter and the brown sugar, there's nothing not to love about this. It is simple and one step above...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I Got to Go to Volt.

That is all...for your viewing pleasure-- I got to go to Brian Voltaggio's Volt in Frederick, Maryland.
Let's start with the Amuse Bouche-Beet meringue with foie gras, a twist on shrimp and grits and arctic char with Meyer lemon (loved loved loved)
Course 1. Pickled huckleberries. Daikon. Umm. Country Ham...and stuff...oh, ramps?? I need study notes.
Course 2. Maitake mushrooms w steel cut oats and a foam of beer and yeast. I think. (see comment above about needing notes...

Course 3: Arctic char with rye crumbs, caramelized cabbage..and..NOTES PLEASE! Here's what. The fish was awesome. Silky smooth, perfectly cooked. Awesome  dish.

Course 4: Pasta. Calamari Bolognese..Bacon. Mmm.

Course 5: Lamb. I think this was my fave, even though I thought I was done w the savory dishes...fried kale, too.
Course 6: Are you still with me? Frozen chocolate mousse. Ice cream. Crunchy brittle...Homemade marshmallow.
Are you full yet? Too bad. Because you get petit fours:
And  tasted each one:

Then I PAINTED them...(okay.  I lie. I did that today...)

and then? Then they sent us home w mini coffee cakes. So we could wake up and eat at Volt at Home...

The end.
It was pretty wonderful and very special.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Smashed Roasted Potatoes OR Another Reason to Use Duck Fat

I love potatoes. And I love luxurious things like duck fat. Duck fat I can buy already rendered and in a jar. I like this as a side dish to a nice turkey dinner...oh, and hey. Just in time for you to work it into your (American) Thanksgiving dinner menu. (Sorry to you Canadians--missed you by a day.)

So for a bit (okay, a lot) of indulgence, I decided to roast red potatoes WITH duck fat. Win win, right?

And these are simple.

1. Cook potatoes until just tender. I tried to buy very evenly-sized potatoes so they all cooked at the same rate--I bought slightly large potatoes and cut them in half--more surface area to get all nice and toasty, duck-fat-brown. Now heat oven to 425F.
2. Let potatoes cool slightly. Place in bowl with duck fat (enough to coat them all and then some, okay?).
3. Line baking sheet with parchment. Pour potatoes out onto baking sheet, shaking them into one single layer, cut side down if you had to cut your potatoes (if the potatoes are small enough, you can just cook them whole). Smash each potato just enough to break the skin and reveal some of the good insides.

If you want, drizzle a smidge more duck fat onto the open potatoes. Salt generously.
4. Roast until the potatoes start to turn golden brown.
5. Eat too many.

Any questions?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Most Requested Dinner...

When I ask Bryn what she would like for a special dinner, it is always "Eva's Lasagne," which happens to be real Italian lasagne, which I happen to make from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking...I just don't do the spinach noodles. Eva made it with plain noodles the first time Bryn tasted it, and that is the way she remembers it..

So Friday, I made Marcella's bolognese. Added silky bechamel to it.

I made my own lasagne noodles--rolled to #8 on the Atlas pasta machine, so thin you can read through them. I precooked them the way Marcella says to (this was the step I whined about the first time and brought Marcella herself to my blog to say: suck it up buttercup. Why would you want to do it less than the right way?? I paraphrase, of course.)

 I made a lot of layers. A lot.

And it was good.