Monday, March 08, 2010

Lobster and Dungeness Crab Newburg crepes

A relative of mine just sent an email about how my cooking is always a "deluxe event." I think what I am trying to do with my cooking is make “deluxe” an everyday thing without it seeming too fussy.

However, the lobster and Dungeness crab Newburg crepes will not be an everyday thing. Aside from being complex and using way too many pans and bowls for one day, they are awesomely rich. Now, I made them a little more rich than the usual Newburg sauce recipe by going back to the original way of making the sauce a lovely pink – instead of paprika, I steeped lobster roe in melted butter and then sieved that through a tamis. A tamis looks a bit like a tambourine, with a fine mesh screen stretched across one side. You pour a mixture into it and then use a flexible pastry scraper to push whatever it is through the screen, making a very fine-textured puree. As lobster eggs are, well, fish eggs, they do have membranes associated with them so to get a nice buttery texture you really do have to get just the essence of them into the butter. The tamis worked quite well. Then you have to use that butter to make a cream sauce thickened with egg yolks. You whisk the butter and heavy cream together in a bowl over simmering water, then whisk a few tablespoons of that into egg yolks you have whisked (with yet another whisk) in (yet another) bowl to warm them, then whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the double-boiler set-up. Whisk constantly for about ten minutes while you strain to read the cookbook you left on the counter too far from the stovetop…because you have all the mess from making the crepes, and the crepes themselves still cooling on a rack on the counter, between you and that cookbook, as well as a cutting board with the lobster and crab you just diced up to go in the sauce when it is ready. And at the other counter you have your partner buttering a couple of little oblong casserole dishes to hold the crepes and sauce. Then he is cleaning the two nice big artichokes you’ve decided will go perfectly with the crepes. And he has never cleaned artichokes so you are directing him to get an oblong glass dish out so they can steam in the microwave oven as well as a cutting board to cut off the top inch or so of the artichokes and a bit off of the stem and, oh yeah, you tell him to get out a bowl as you reach with one hand down into the cupboard with the cider vinegar so he can make a bit of acidulated water to dip the cut edges of the ‘chokes in so they don’t brown…and he understands that he needs to put the ‘chokes stem up in the dish, and that if he is putting plastic wrap over them that they need to be completely covered. And you reach back into your brain to remember how long it takes big artichokes to cook in the microwave. And then the sauce is nicely thick and you concentrate on seasoning, ground white pepper (oops! just spilled some of that on the counter) and a couple of pinches of kosher salt, and is it good? You put a bit into Dave’s mouth to see if he agrees more salt, even though the seafood about to go in is salty. Then bowl of sauce over to counter, fold in the seafood, ooh that is good!, and see if you can roll it up into crepes gently draped into those buttered oval dishes – can’t just lay them out on a cutting mat because the filliing is pretty soft, and you’ll never be able to pick up the filled crepes and put them into the dishes without them splitting and falling apart. You silently thank yourself for realizing this before you try it and make a mess. You get the crepes filled a rolled with minimal hassle. Tell Dave to turn on the artichokes for another five minutes, please. Crepes into preheated oven. Crepes should be in there for less than 30 minutes so…whew! grab a glass of sparking cava (Spanish version of Champagne) and go in to watch some of the pretty dresses on the Oscar red carpet show. And are very glad that the lobster and crab were cooked and cleaned a few days before and that mess all cleaned up already. And that you know you’ll make a stab at cleaning up the mess after dinner, but Dave will shoo you out of the kitchen and take care of it.

Hmmm, I was only going to tell you about the right way to make the sauce pink. Those crepes were wonderful, by the way, and the artichokes were the right thing. Got the inspiration from "Two Cooks in One Kitchen" by Jinx and Jeff Morgan, Doubleday 1983.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Been busy

Wow, guess it's been a while. It's not that I haven't been cooking! My
current project is another try at corned beef. Only one brisket this
time, though! You might recall that a couple of years ago I did three.
I trimmed it very close and cut it into four pieces. Might take a
little less curing time. I also used a premium pickling spice that is
wonderfully aromatic. Might even be ready by the 17th.

Our condo has started taking advantage of a composting program so now
I have something better to do with meat and plant waste. Sure cuts
down on the garbage -- even can put the crab shells from tonight in
there. Nice little compostable bags we use to collect it all.

The crab? Crab salad rolls for dinner. Yum.

Shelly / sent from my iPhone