Archive | America

Recipe|Lobster Bisque

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The Lobster

Swapping the tempestuous Arthur for a leisurely ride on Charles made for a pleasant change of pace. The fireworks didn’t come ‘till later that night but were utterly delightful when they did.

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Back at base we decided to have a big party in which 30 lobsters got thrown into pots. Their beautiful cooked shades of red and pink never fail to delight me. Having feasted on platefuls of lobster with drawn butter ( melted) and then the next day on a lobster tagliatelle with cream and dill, then the next day on lobster rolls using sweet brioche buns and crunchy celery eventually we were just left with the shells. Not wanting to waste an ounce of their deliciousness we made lobster stock by the bucket loads. As you can imagine 30 lobster shells practically produces enough stock to fill a swimming pool. The eau d’ lobster that consumed the kitchen for that day while the simmering, reducing and cooling went on will not be a fragrance that will catch on but it was a reminder how much flavour there is to be used and that the shells should never just be chucked.

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Hard to beat the excitement of having over 40 lb of lobster to eat I have to mention that we even caught some of them ourselves. It has taken me 30 years to get my sea legs and even now they can be a little shaky at times however nothing was going to stop me from going out on the water to pull up dinner from the traps. The season around here is just beginning and a lot of the lobsters have just moulted so their shells are fairly soft. However their claws are still in fine fettle.

 

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Lobsters generally have to be over 7 years old before they are big enough to legally eat, every single one has to be carefully measured (or they may get you with their claws)! It is also illegal in these waters for a non-commercial lobster fisherman to take out a female with eggs or if she is particularly large. You can sex the lobster by looking at its swimmerets on the underside of the tale. The females are generally wider apart to leave room for the eggs and the last set closest to the head are soft rather than the males which are stereotypically hard.

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On our first day checking our traps the excitement was high. Even though every single one we pulled out of the water was empty, it was still a thrill to heave it into the boat. We did catch a piece of seaweed though. The next day our bounty was much more impressive, 2 pieces of seaweed, 3 small crabs, 2 small mackerel which I made into civiche and…… 3 lobsters !!!

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Locals assured me the best way to eat lobster was simply boiled or steamed and served with drawn butter to dip the fleshy chunks into and a few bottles of Ipswich Ale to drink. We followed their advice to the letter and it was a taste sensation along with the roast baby beetroot and goats cheese salad, some home made ‘slaw and of course a potato salad. To finish an American flag pavlova!

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Having devoured practically all the flesh we were left with a mound of shells which got thrown into the stockpot.

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For this weeks postcard I give you the recipe for a lobster bisque which we made from the stock.

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Lobster Bisque

Serves 6 as a starter

 

3 lobster shells

a few stalks of parsley

1 tbs black peppercorns

2 large tomatoes

1 white onion peeled and finely chopped

1 clove of garlic

1 glass of dry white wine

1 pinch of saffron

200 ml single cream

 

To serve

6 tsp finely chopped cooked lobster meat

2 tsp finely chopped parsley or chives

Melba toasts

 

Method

Put all the lobster shells in a big pot and fill with coldwater so it covers the shells add the parsley stalks , peppercorns and 1 of the tomatoes chopped in half.

Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer and cook for 20 – 30 mins.

If you cook it for too long the stock can become bitter.

After it has simmered for 20 -30 mins strain into another pot, discarding the shells, then put the liquid into another pot and put back on the heat to reduce by about half – you need 1 litre to make the soup.

While this liquid is reducing, briefly add the other whole tomato for about 10 seconds then remove and peel off and discard the skin and roughly chop up the flesh.

In another pan sauté the onion and garlic till sweet and soft (about 10 mins) then add the stock and the peeled tomato and saffron. Bring to the boil then take off the heat.

Blitz until really smooth, add the cream and check for seasoning.

To serve add 1 teaspoon of finely chopped lobster meat into the bottom of the bowl and pour on the hot soup, this should warm up the lobster meat enough.

Sprinkle with the finely chopped parsley and serve with some melba toasts.

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Note: I find this soup quite rich so I just like a small bowl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Recipe | Boston Cream Pie

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Happy as a clam…

 

Arthur kept me up for most of the night, boisterously crashing around and showing off and with repeated spectacular flashes I began to wonder if he would ever let me get to sleep. I must confess I was slightly relieved that he was not quite on the scale that was first rumoured but impressive none the less…

I think I may have forgotten to mention as a carry on from my last postcard that :

a)     Cooking for the party in London went very well and a jolly good time seemed to be had by all (rolled veal escalopes stuffed with ricotta and black olives might be a new summer party food favourite of mine).

b)     I have headed across the pond for a few weeks and am now as happy as a jumping bean in Boston, Massachusetts

c)     Arthur is a Tropical Storm that has been tormenting the East coast of the US.

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On a recent trip to France I was chatting to the lady in the bakers about cooking and she asked me what kind of food I made. I said Middle Eastern/Mediterranean/British and some American influence.

“American she said “? Raising her eyebrow so much so I thought she may have been practising a Roger Moore impersonation. “Ha !”she said “Americans don’t have real food”

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Well I have to say that French bread lady has been proved very wrong. In and around Boston there are some amazing produce and dishes. There are some of the best lobsters you will ever eat, clams that are super sweet and that come in a number of varieties (the happy looking steamer clam below is a new favourite that get steamed in beer then dipped in butter for serving), some fantastic local farmers markets, corn that is definitely some of the tastiest in the world and home of the Boston cream pie.

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To celebrate the 4thJuly I thought I would make my first Boston Cream Pie. I had never made one so started looking up recipes. I promise you at least 70 % of the ones I found started with ‘take one packet of cake mix and a box of ready made custard’ which wasn’t quite what I was looking for. When I did find one that was more from scratch I had to read it several times over to get the various steps and although it only takes 18 minutes to cook it takes 30 mins to wash up all the pans you use to make it.

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Was it worth it? I can’t say it will become a regular baking choice for me but with a light airy sponge, thick cold custard and a chocolaty rich topping it is delicious. So just in case you fancied a washing up extravaganza that comes with a glorious celebration cake this postcard recipe gives you the Boston Cream Pie.

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This month also brings the start of my new commission as the cookery writer for The Field Magazine. A great publication for anyone interested in shooting, stalking, gun dogs, fishing and other rural pursuits. My recipes appear in the monthly magazine and will also appear online at http://www.thefield.co.uk .

 

Boston Cream pie

Custard

470 ml single cream

100g caster sugar

5 egg yolks

2 tbs cornflour

50g salted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

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Method:

Heat the cream with 60g of the sugar and the vanilla.

In a small bowl beat the yolks, the other 40g sugar and the cornflour.

When the cream has come to a simmer and the sugar has dissolved pour the cream onto the egg yolks whilst whisking then pour all the mixture back into the saucepan.

Keep whisking on a low heat until the mixture is thick.

Take off and transfer to a bowl. When cool cover with cling film and store in fridge till set ( at least 4 hours).

 

 

Chocolate Frosting

50 ml double cream

30g caster sugar

120g dark chocolate, chopped up

120g milk chocolate, chopped up

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Heat the cream and sugar until it comes to a simmer.

Take off the heat then then stir in the chocolate/

It should all melt with in a couple of minutes.

Leave to cool and thicken giving it a whisk every 20 mins.

(It should take about 1 ½ hours to cool and thicken ).

 

Sponge

 

100g plain flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

3 tbs milk

50g salted butter

150g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

5 large eggs

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Pre heat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line two 9 inch cake tins.

Heat the butter and milk in a saucepan until it just comes to a simmer

In a bowl whisk the flour and baking powder together

Separate 3 of the eggs

Whisk the 3 whites with 75 g of the castor sugar until soft peak stage.

In another bowl whisk the other 2 eggs with the 3 egg yolks and the other 75g of caster sugar until thick ( best done with and electric whisk ).

Gently fold the egg whites into the beaten egg mix, fold in the flour then pour the warm milk/butter into one side and gently mix.

Gently pour into the cake tins and bake for 16 – 18 mins. (the cake should bounce back if lightly pressed)

When done take out the oven and immediately take out of the tin and cool on a cake rack.

 

To assemble the cake sandwich the sponges with the custard and top with the cooled thickened chocolate frosting and after you have finished the washing up you can ‘have a nice day’!

 

This cake keeps surprisingly well covered overnight in the fridge.

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