Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dinner #2: Butter Poached Lobster with Leeks and Pommes Maxim and Lemon Sabayon Tart

By this point, my scheduled "afternoon break" had come and gone, I still hadn't showered after taking Alex swimming in the morning, and I was starting to freak out a little. My heroic husband stepped in to help me with the lobsters. Possibly because he could sense I was about 15 seconds away from throwing myself on the floor and sobbing that I couldn't kill the lobsters and that we were getting three new pets.

We stuck them in my biggest pot, measured out the water, then had a moment of silence for the lobsters. Punctuated by Alex tackling the baby gate, falling down with it, and screaming like a banshee. Moment of silence over (and toddler checked and mollified), we poured boiling hot water on them. I tried not to cry as one banged on the side of the pot as it cooked. [sidenote: I've been watching a lot of Lie to Me, and I believe they would say that I was deflecting guilt by switching to passive voice and including my husband when describing the lobster-murder. They would probably be right].

Lobsters steeped, Brandon and I quickly went about butchering them. Strangely enough, once they were dead, I was totally cool with tearing them apart. Heartless, I am. Tails off, claws tossed in more water. One exacted its revenge on Brandon for NOT feeling guilty about killing it with a post-mortem finger-slicing on a spindly thing. Ha! Serves him right for making fun of me earlier.

[not pictured: deconstructed lobsters, since my hands were all gooey and I was in a hurry]

From here, things were a blur. Bacon sliced and quickly cooked, made some beurre monte, made the herb salad, quickly chopped chives and tomato "diamonds," tossed appropriate amounts of frozen brunoise into mis dishes, heated oil to fry capers, and fried the capers. Thank goodness for the frozen brunoise, although I realize that there is NO WAY I made enough to last the whole book.

First Course: "Bacon and Eggs"

Before I knew it, everyone had arrived! I quickly warmed the poached eggs and plated on large spoons. Still didn't break any! So I was able to serve seconds to three lucky people. The consensus: delicious! Even from me, the poached-egg-aphobe. I tasted more bacon than egg, but got a fantastic explosion of egg flavor in the back of my mouth. And it wasn't even that hard. Definitely going on the long-term keeper menu.

Second course: "Salad Nicoise"

Everything was done for the dish, so I was anticipating plating would be quick-ish. Except I had forgotten to take the shells off of the quail eggs. And I forgot to trim the ahi into circles earlier. @#&^! I quickly made the circles uniform, Brandon helped, and a friend and I painstakingly peeled the shells off (which: why are quail eggs so much harder to peel than regular eggs?).

[note: those dabs of random color are the pepper confetti that didn't really sprinkle]

This was everyone's favorite dish of the night. Except mine, probably because I was still bitter about deboning the anchovies. And I didn't really like the hard boiled egg. Or peeling it. But at least I tried it, so score for open mindedness! Admittedly, the rest of it was great, but it was just such a pain in the ass that I can't imagine making it again.

Third course: Butter Poached Lobster with pommes maxim, leeks, and red beet essence.

My beet juice had been reducing for hours and was finally at the right consistency! So I quickly whipped in beurre monte and the dash of vinegar. I simultaneously started warming the potatoes and leeks and arranged the lobster pieces in a pan, turned the pan on, and poured buerre monte over them. Except… it wasn't nearly enough. I read through the recipe again. I had read somehow gotten the buerre monte required for the leeks and the lobster confused, so I super-quick made two more sticks of buerre monte, tossed it in the lobster pan, and poached it.

The assembled dish:

It was ok. I overcooked the lobster a little, I think because I started it, turned it off, and then cooked again. Oh, yeah, and have I mentioned that I don't really like lobster? (good lord, I sound like the pickiest person alive this dinner) The other elements, especially the leeks, were yummy, and I would totally do them again. As long as I can hold the lobster.

Dessert: Lemon Sabayon Pine Nut Tart with Whipped Mascarpone Cream

The tart was already cooked, so all I had to do was prep the cream quickly. I whisked for the mandated two minutes. It wasn't nearly whipped-cream enough, but honestly, by this point I didn't care. I just wanted to sit and enjoy a glass of wine. We ate it runny, it was still delicious (although the tart shell was a little dry – I think I'll press it thinner in the pan next time).

[yeah, that's the same picture I showed from before. deal.]

People hung around a little after dinner, then left after about 20 minutes. As much as I love socializing, I was ready for everyone to go – I was exhausted, my feet hurt, my back hurt, and I was generally cranky from how not-smoothly things went. Bah-humbug.


Lobster: Hardshell Lobster Co, off of Mission Gorge (note: they don't take walk-ins, but will sell to the public by appointment!)

Applewood-smoked Bacon: Whole Foods

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