Crustaceans at Christmas

Lobster Bisque

If you've read my previous blog entry, when you see the words "lobster", "brandy", "white wine" and "cream" you may immediately think "fire" and "burnt hair". Surely I can't have made another lobster soup so soon? Well, I have. Don't forget that I mentioned having bought two lobsters from the nearby German discount store. (By the way, the spouse and I have called in a couple of times and managed not to be tempted by telescopes and tambourines.) My one hundred and sixty-eighth soup from The Soup Book was lobster bisque and the listed ingredients include lobster, onion, carrot, celery, leek, fennel, bay leaf, tarragon, garlic, tomato puree, tomatoes, brandy, dry white wine, and cream. What's not to like? I had to make a couple of substitutions: fennel seeds for fennel bulb, dried tarragon for fresh, a mix of tomato puree and sundried tomato paste, and a mix of cream and creme fraiche.

The book gives the prep time as forty-five minutes, which is a considerable underestimate. I did my prep work in stages: fine chopping of the onion, carrot, celery and leeks last Saturday morning before the spouse and I went out, then getting him to get the lobster ready for me. As he cut it open, he pointed out that it was a female, full of roe. This reminded me of E. F. Benson's Lucia novels and the recipe for Lobster a la Riseholme ("Take two hen lobsters ..."). When the time came to get the bisque ready for dinner, I started by melting butter, to which I added the vegetables, herbs and garlic. After a while I tipped in the lobster shells, the tomato puree and sundried tomato paste, the chopped tomatoes, brandy, wine and fish stock. Once the mixture had come to the boil, I left it simmering for an hour, during which time I got on with prune ice cream (Delia's recipe) for my new year visitors.

Back to the stove. The soup was smelling good. I got out the food processor and started ladling in the
mixture, shells and all. The processor has seen better days and it struggled to break up the shells.  We did our best. I then sieved the mixture in two stages: once with a colander to separate out the larger pieces of shell, and then with a fine sieve. I was left with a smooth, thinnish soup, to which I added the lobster meat, cream, seasoning and cayenne pepper. Bowls warmed, it was time to feed the crew (the spouse and the younger offspring). We took our first mouthful together after the count of three. Verdict: Very good. Fiddly but definitely to be made again. "A hint of luxury about it", said the spouse. We'll be looking out for lobsters among the computer desks and weighted skipping ropes.

Other Christmas Culinary Delights

I baked on Christmas Eve and again yesterday (Sunday 29th December): respectively, Nigella's Christmas Morning Muffins and Delia's turkey and leek flan (into which I added ham as well). Such a treat.

The spouse and I received cookery books for Christmas, prompting us to clear out some of our seldom and never used cookery books. Our loss is St Vincent de Paul's gain, I hope. Now all we have to do is sort out the recipes gleaned from magazines.

The spouse's new addition is Paula Wolfert's The Food of Morocco. Here's what she has to say about honey:
Some of the famous honeys of Morocco are the slightly tangy acacia; the mildly sweet eucalyptus honey from the Gharb; the tart and fruity jujube honey from Bouarfa; the strong aromatic rosemary honey from the region of the Midelt; the floral lavender and orange blossom honey from the Middle Atlas; and the dark herbal thyme honey produced south of the High Atlas Mountains. 
That's it for 2013. Until next year.



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