Sunday, January 1, 2012
Seafood and Seduction
New Year's Eve. Seafood and seduction. Connie's a New England boy. He grew up downtown Boston. As in right downtown. By the Bunker Hill Monument. He went to Boston Latin School. Worked for the Bank of New England while he worked on his college degree. Grew up on fresh seafood. Needless to say, he doesn't find the same in Indianapolis.
We met in 2004 and pretty quickly we knew we were meant to be. Pretty much love at first sight. And, that's coming from a gal who'd been divorced for 26 years, had a successful business and really had no intention of ever getting married again. He certainly changed my mind and I'm ever so glad he did!!
Over the years, we've created some wonderful traditons. Our New Year's Eve seafood fest is one of them. That first year, we went to the now-defunct seafood shop across the street from my office. What they had created the basis for our meal. Escargot, bacon wrapped scallops, lobster tail, crab soup, crab cakes, shrimp. We both got dressed up and I decorated the table. It was incredibly romantic. Each year we've done the same. We've changed up the menu a bit each year.
Now, we start planning the menu about a month or two before New Year's Eve. This year most of the inspiration came from Entertaining with Booze. I know, we've talked before about the title. Not terribly appetizing. But the recipes? Oh, la, la. We've loved so many of the ones we've tried.
There was a bit of excitement as we started our dinner prep this year. My beloved Indiana Hoosiers were playing Ohio State. My stepson David's alma mater. Here are my favorite screen shots:
You can probably read the second one with a magnifying glass... It says the Hoosiers beat the number one and number two ranked teams in the same season for the first time ever. All cooking stopped and breathless watching ensued. The game wasn't decided until the last seconds. Wow. It feels like the old days.
This year we had a bit of a twist to our meal. Leftover escargot. Turns out the soup I fixed for New Years Eve Eve dinner with Mom needed a dozen escargot. The can holds two dozen. No way was I going to waste those! I didn't tell Connie what I was doing and he didn't discover my plan until I was ready to put the escargot dishes in the oven. The look on his face was fantastic. Huge grin. He practically did a happy dance. Thanks to Jaden at Steamy Kitchen for the oven temp and the amount of butter to use.
4 T butter at room temp
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 T fresh flat leaf parsley, finely minced
Mash the butter with the garlic and the parsley. Divide it into 12 balls.
Place your escargot either into the shells or escargot dishes (or both if you desire.)
Put the butter on top of each. Bake at 450 for five minutes. Serve with sliced baguette.
As we cooked, we drank a bottle of Domaine ste Michelle Blanc de Noirs. That was absolutely lovely bubbly. We used the flutes my sister-in-law Pam gave me many years ago. I love them not only because they're beautiful but because every time we use them I'm reminded of my wonderful sister-in-law. I love you Pam! Here's a photo of Connie in the mirror while we're toasting with our bubbly:
After escargot, it was on to cream of crab soup. While hunting for a new she-crab soup recipe, I came across a cream of crab soup recipe in The Chesapeake Bay Crabbiest Cookbook. It's one my dear friend Donna gave me. She said she knew we'd get good use out of it and we have. Once again, I used my great grandmother's soup bowls. They're beautiful and a perfect serving size. Connie doesn't really like soup. But, he loved this. I did too. It's VERY rich. All of the flavors dance together in perfect harmony. The recipe says it serves twelve. I made a quarter of that and we had enough for at least six of our small servings.
Crab House Cream of Crab Soup
1 c half and half
1 c heavy whipping cream
1 T chicken base (I used Penzey's)
1 T dry sherry
pinch of pepper
1/4 t Old Bay seasoning
4 T butter
1/4 c flour
1/3 lb crabmeat
Heat the half and half and cream in a large sauce pan. Use low heat. You don't want the soup to boil! In a small skillet or sauce pan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook until it's lightly browned. While that's cooking, whisk the soup base, sherry, Old Bay and pepper into the soup. Once the flour is ready, pour about 1/4 c of the soup into the roux. Whisk like crazy so it stays smooth. Gradually add more soup then, pour the mixture into the soup saucepan. Whisk to incorporate it. Add the crabmeat and stir gently to incorporate it. Heat the soup through and serve. It may be served with additional sherry. We chose not to do that.
While we ate our soup, shrimp flan baked away in the oven. This was a recipe from Wine Mondays. It was a bit different from our other dishes because of the flavor profile. Most of our other recipes were dishes we'd had in one form or another. And, the flavors weren't terribly bold - well, unless you count the GARLIC in the escargot :-)
We liked the shrimp flan but it's not something that I'll make again. I'd be much more likely to take the marinade mix and grill the shrimp once they've spent their time in the marinade. This recipe makes a six small appetizer servings.
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t pickled ginger
zest of 1/2 orange
zest of 1 lime
1 t fresh lemon juice
1/2 t ginger juice
1/4 c chopped scallions
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
3 T fresh cilantro, chopped
2 t salt
1 large egg, separated
2 T butter at room temp
3 T olive oil
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
4 T heavy cream
Mix together the garlic, ginger, orange zest, lime zest, lemon juice, ginger juice, scallions, cayenne, nutmeg, cilantro and salt.
Toss the shrimp with the marinade and put in the fridge for 30 minutes. At the same time, put the bowl of your food processor in the freezer. Lightly beat the egg white. Put the egg white, egg yolk, cream, butter and olive oil in small bowls next to your food processor. After the shrimp has marinated, put it in the processor and process until smooth. Add the egg white, followed by the egg yolk then the butter, then the olive oil and finally the cream. Butter 6 4 oz ramekins. Pour the mixture into the ramekins. The recipe calls for baking the ramekins in a bain marie with foil covering the tops of the ramekins. I simply baked mine at 350 for 25 minutes.
After the flan we were on the Oysters Rockefeller. Typically this dish has a topping of spinach and various green herbs. This recipe didn't. Connie tracked down fresh oysters at Fresh Market. He watched a couple of You Tube videos on how to shuck them and started in. Look how gorgeous they were!
This recipe called for a very light herb topping. We loved it. The flavor of the oysters came through so much better than recipes with spinach. We cut the recipe down to do 6 oysters but the recipe below is for 24.
6 green onions, chopped
3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c Panko bread crumbs
1/4 c freshly grated Romano cheese
1/4 c fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 c fresh celery leaves, chopped
1 T fresh tarragon leaves
1 T fresh chervil leaves
2 T Pernod
dash hot pepper sauce
freshly ground black pepper
4 lb rock or kosher salt
24 fresh oysters, shucked (be careful to reserve the liquor)
Put the butter, green onions, breadcrumbs, Romano, parsley, chervil and Pernod in the bowl of a food processor. Process the butter until it's blended but still has texture.
Place the rock salt on a large rimmed baking dish. Put the oysters on the rock salt, shell side down.
Top each oyster with a dollop of the butter.
Broil for five minutes. You want the butter to melt and the edges of the oysters to curl. Do NOT overcook these.
After the oysters we took a break and finished our bubbly and enjoyed the candlelight and each others company. We also had a furry visitor. Annie knows she's not allowed in the dining room when her humans are eating. She's a wonderfully behaved pooch. George on the other hand believes his humans are here to love a cat and take care of his every need. He comes in and begs. Since he's 17, I let him slide.
Then, it was time to fondue the scallops. I'd had Connie pick up a few extra shrimp so we had those also. The recipe actually calls for using the little bay scallops but Connie got his favorites so we were dealing with mongo sea scallops.
Since we had no sterno for our fondue pot, we "fondued" the seafood on the stove top then carried our plates to the table. I'd intended to serve a garlic aioli with this but decided we were going to have enough food. Then, when we sat down to eat our scallops I was very glad I'd not made the aioli. The flavor was magnificent. Very light and nuanced. Aioli would've just covered it up. This will be our go-to broth for seafood. It's yet another recipe from Entertaining With Booze. I think we're up to 15 recipes from that cookbook. That's got to be a record for me since I normally make a few then am off to the next cookbook. By the way - do you love the edges of the cookbook?
1 T olive oil
1 small onion minced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 c vegetable broth (we used vegetable stock)
2 c white wine - Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc
1/4 c brandy
1 bay leaf
1 T soy sauce
1 dash hot pepper sauce
1 T fresh tarragon, chopped
1 T fresh parsley, chopped
seafood: lobster, shrimp, scallops, salmon...
Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan. Heat it to shimmering. Add the onion and saute it until it's translucent. Add the garlic and saute it for about a minute. Add the other ingredients other than the tarragon, parsley and your seafood. Allow the broth to come to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer it for thirty minutes. Add the tarragon and parsley. Pour the broth into your fondue pot and dig in with your seafood. The recipe calls for serving with Bernaise sauce if you so desire. I'd recommend trying this as is first.
Wow, by this time it was well after 10 pm. We'd been cooking and eating since about 6 pm. Two courses to go. But, alas, we were too full to have dessert when the time came. Even though we'd eaten tapas-sized servings we were stuffed! That meant that we really were too full to thoroughly enjoy our last course. We soldiered through though and did love this dish. Yet another from Entertaining With Booze. A couple of notes on the recipe. We had a small wedge of brie left from earlier in the week. It was about 4 oz. We used that instead of a larger wedge. We also used just half of a lobster tail and cut the rest of the recipe in half.
Baked Brie with Lobster, Mushrooms and Madeira
1 1/2 lb live lobster
2 lb wheel double cream brie
1 T butter
2 shallots, minced
1 c cremini mushrooms, chopped
1/4 c Madeira
1 baguette, thinly sliced
Put the brie in a baking dish that's large enough to accomodate the cheese plus the topping.
Heat your oven to 425. Melt the butter in a medium skillet. Add the onions and mushrooms and saute them until they're softened.
Put the brie in the oven to bake for about 8 minutes. Add the madeira and cook until it's reduced by half. Chop the lobster meat and add it.
Heat the lobster through. Pour the lobster sauce over the brie and serve on baguette slices.
Another wonderful New Year's Eve with the love of my life.