Another new year. Time is simply flying by. If you've been reading my blog for very long, you know our tradition is a seafood feast on New Year's Eve. We choose our recipes a month or two in advance and spend way too much time chatting about how much fun it's going to be and how wonderful the dishes will be. Typically, I come up with 20-30 options and we narrow it down to a reasonable (ok, time to chuckle) menu of appetizer, soup, salad, entree, side dish and dessert. This year Connie requested the tarragon grilled lobster for our entree. And, a chocolate cup filled with mousse for our dessert. I'd been salivating over some of the recipes from Commander's Wild Side. Once I'd listed those I wanted to try our menu was set.
Typically, we head home early in the afternoon on New Year's Eve so we can start cooking. But, the 31st had a couple of kinks in it. Last minute client emergencies. Once those were taken care of we headed home. Connie'd done all the shopping that morning. On the way home he commented that traffic was pretty light. Because EVERYONE was at the stores! I won't go through the entire shopping expediton because we'd be here until tomorrow but suffice to say he didn't have an easy time finding lobsters. Everyone was out of duck fat. Although that wasn't necessary for our New Year's Eve feast.
Here's what our menu looked like:
Tasso stuffed shrimp with garlic cream sauce
Creole lobster bisque
Scallop and crab salad with caviar vinaigrette
Tarragon grilled lobster
Artichoke heart and wild mushroom cakes
Chocolate cups filled with mousse
We set up our mis en place
Tasso Stuffed Shrimp with Garlic Cream
Artichoke Mushroom Cakes
Scallop and Shrimp Salad with Caviar Vinaigrette
Creole Lobster Bisque
The first thing to do was to make the chocolate cups. It was super simple when I did it at Ghyslain's. Not so much here. The first balloon exploded throwing chocoate all over me, the wall, some of the food we had set out. What a total mell of a hess. So, Connie says, you can't touch the side of the double boiler. I didn't think I had but I tried again anyway. BOOM! He says dip the balloon in and let that dip cool then dip again. Ok, we'll try that. BOOM! So, he decides he can do a better job. He dips a side and starts blowing on the chocolate to cool it down. You know what happened next :-) BOOM! By this time we were both laughing hysterically. What else can you do when you're covered with dark chocolate? So much for dessert!
On to dinner...
We pretty much had everything cooking at once. Can you say it was a zoo?
What did we think? We typically don't give out five's. Maybe once a month a dish qualifies. New Year's Eve we had THREE fives and a couple of fours. None of the dishes needed any tweaking.
Tasso Stuffed Shrimp with Garlic Cream
serves four as a first course
The tasso stuffed shrimp with garlic cream were a bit tough to stuff. I wound up pan sauteeing them instead of baking them. Then, I put the stuffing that fell out on top of the shrimp. When I roasted garlic for the cream, I roasted extra so I could use roasted garlic in everything else instead of chopped garlic. This recipe was one of our fives. We used six shrimp and a quarter of the cream recipe. I also used all green bell pepper instead of a mix of peppers. The ingredient list below is as written.
for the garlic cream:
1 head garlic
1 t Creole seasoning
2 c heavy cream
for the shrimp:
1 T vegetable oil
1 T minced garlic
4 oz tasso, finely chopped
1 leek, white part only, halved lengthwise, sliced and rinsed well
1/4 c each minced green bell pepper, red bell pepper and yellow bell pepper
1 1/4 t Creole seasoning
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Roast the garlic. Either use a garlic baker or wrap the head of garlic in foil and roast it at 350 for about half an hour. Because I had whole cloves of garlic left from the Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic, I tossed them with some olive oil and roasted them at 450 for 20 minutes until they were nicely browned and very soft. Mash the garlic cloves or squeeze the garlic out of the head.
Mix the cream, roasted garlic and Creole seasoning. Allow it to simmer in a small saucepan while you prepare the shrimp. You want it to reduce by about half.
In a small skillet, saute the garlic (I used mashed roasted cloves,) tasso, leek, bell peppers and Creole seasoning.
Once they're nicely browned, remove the skillet from the heat and allow the stuffing mix to cool a bit.
Butterfly the shrimp on the underside. It's not the normal way of butterflying! Then, stuff them with the stuffing and roll them up. That's all easier said than done. The recipe calls for baking them for 12 minutes at 350. I pan sauteed them in a tablespoon of butter.
Plate the dish starting with a puddle of the garlic cream. See the yummy pieces of roasted garlic? All caramelized and fabulous!
Top that with three shrimp then the stuffing that fell out.
Creole Lobster Bisque
Serves 6 as a soup course or 4 for lunch
Our next course was the creole lobster bisque. This was a four. Now, let me say that we love the lobster bisque at Aesop's. Kathy makes the best lobster bisque either of us has ever had. And, she doesn't even like the stuff!!! This was my first attempt at lobster bisque. I'd saved the lobster shells last time we splurged. Those would be the base for the stock. I was a bit leary of the lack of cream. And, I added a bit of chopped lobster as a garnish. Most of it sank by the time I turned around and picked up the camera! Since I wasn't starting with whole lobsters, my stock probably wasn't quite as rich and flavorful as the original. And, in order to keep the directions at a "reasonable" length, I'm going to tell you how I made the soup... If you want the full version, you'll need to buy the book! This was actually better the second day. Pretty typical of a lot of soups that are better the second day. We thought this was wonderful but only gave it a four.
for the stock:
Shells from two 1 1/2 lb lobsters
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1/2 c dry white wine
3 bay leaves
8 whole pepper corns
to make the soup:
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c flour
4 T unsalted butter
2 c coarsely chopped tomatoes
4 shallots, chopped
1 leek, white part onlychopped and rinsed well
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 T Creole seasoning
1/3 c plus a splash of Armagnac or brandy
1/4 c heavy cream
1 t chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper
1-2 T of chopped lobster meat per serving
Break the lobster shells into approximately 1" pieces. We froze the shells then left them in the freezer bag and used a meat mallet. Place the shells, onion, carrot and celery in a roasting pan. Roast at 350 for 20 minutes.
In a stockpot put 6 cups of water, the wine, bay leaves and pepper corns. Add the lobster shells and vegetables. Simmer for about 45 minutes. Stir it when you walk by... Drain the stock through a mesh strainer (I used my colander and it worked just fine.) Press on the shells and veggies to get all of the liquid out. Set the stock aside. Actually, the recipe notes this can be made ahead and frozen.
Now, it's time to make the roux. In a heavy saucepan heat the oil to shimmering. The recipe actually calls for it to be smoking but I just can't bring myself to have smoking oil in my house... Add the flour gradually, whisking as you go. The roux will turn light brown, then the color of peanut butter, then mahogany. As the recipe says, mahogany is one shade darker than peanut butter. Ok, that's when you pour the roux into a metal bowl to stop the cooking. Also because you really don't want to shock a glass bowl or melt a plastic one! Here's how the colors looked:
In yet another saucepan, a large one this time, melt two tablespoons of the butter. Add the tomatoes, shallots, leek, celery, green bell pepper and Creole seasoning. Since I used canned diced tomatoes with their juice, I had to cook the veggies down for well over the ten minutes called for in the recipe. That worked out just fine since all the veggies get pureed anyway. Here's how this looked as it cooked down:
Deglaze the pan with the brandy. Stir for a couple of minutes. Add the lobster stock and whisk it in well.
Once the soup is simmering, stir in the roux. Simmer the soup for an hour. There wil be foam on top that needs to be skimmed.
After the soup has simmered for an hour, stir in the last two tablespoons of butter, the cream , thyme and a splash of brandy.
Puree the soup. You know the rules about pureeing hot stuff in batches. Now would be a good time to really follow the rules. We used our food processor and it worked like a champ. A few little pieces of veggies made it through unscathed and added some interest to the soup.
Serve the soup garnished with the lobster meat. The recipe actually called for using the meat from the two lobsters. I thought that was overkill.
Are you stuffed yet? We just about were but soldiered on - lol.
Well, I think that's probably enough for this post. I'll continue with our New Year's Eve feast on my next post.
recipes adapted from Commander's Wild Side