June 15th, 2012 is ‘National Lobster Day’. Lobster without doubt is one of the most expensive items that you will find on a restaurant’s menu or even at the fish market or supermarket. But this wasn’t always the case. In the early days of our couontry’s history, lobster was thought to be garbage or throwout food. The reason for this is that lobster, like most all shell fish or crustaceans are bottom feeders and bottom feeders are thought be the dregs of society or the aquatic world.
When fishermen found lobster caught in their nets, they often left them on the beach for the poor or indigenous to eat. Lobster was food that was left to the lower members of society and indentured servants. Servants often specified in the employment agreements that they would not eat lobster more than twice a week. How many of us would love to eat lobster even twice a month, let alone twice a week! Alas, this attitude towards lobster did not last long and in the mid part of the 19th century lobster became a popular item on the menues of New York and Boston restaurants. With the development of lobster fishing boats, the crustacean became even more popular.
Without a doubt, Maine Lobster is probably one of the favorite and most available here in the United States. However, with the advent of air travel and shipping, lobster from all over the world is available. One can purchase giant lobster tails from Australia, mid-size ones from the Carribean and even smaller ones from ???
One of my favorite lobsters are those found in Rosarita, Baja California. The Mexican variety are smaller than the Maine Lobster, but they are sweet and usually at least two or more are served at a sitting.
One of my favorite ways to prepare lobster is to purchase one tail and cut it up in large bite-sized pieces and serve it in an Alfredo Sauce with Linguini. This way, one lobster tail will easily serve two people. However, we do sometimes just want to savor the lobster meat itself and in this case at least one lobster tail per person is called for. (This is the Carribean variety – one large Australian lobster tail would do for two people, provided they do not have HUGE appetites.
To observe National Lobster Day, here is one of my versions of a Lobster Tail Dinner. For two people, you will need two mid-size lobster tail, two large baked potatoes, fresh chives, fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, chives, etc., unsalted butter and a nice green salad made with artisan greens and dressed with a blue cheese dressing.
Scrub the Potatoes and pierce with a fork; this will prevent them from exploding in the hot oven – just as a precaution, I always make an extra potato and if none explode you can use the extra for home fries for another meal. If you like your potatoes to have a crsipy skin, coat the skin with vegetable or olive oil before placing in the oven. If you do use oil on the skin, be sure and place a piece of foil under the potatoes so the oil does not drip down onto your oven floor and cause smoking. If you are going to have Chives with your Baked Potatoes, prep them now. We have Chives growing in our garden, so I picked them just before using them to preserve the flavor. Wash and dry and then snip. The easiest way to snip them is with a pair of kitchen shears. Before doing so, hold the chives in one hand and cut them in a straight across. This will make it easier to snip the chives evenly.
The next thing to do is to clarify your butter. Take a quarter pound of butter (1 stick) and melt it in a microwave proof bowl or measuring cup. Let it settle so that the milk solids fall to the bottom. (The better the grade of butter, the less milk solids there will be in it) Once the solids fall to the bottom pour off the fat portion through a cheese cloth lined strainer into another bowl.
If you are going to make an herb butter wash and dry your herbs and then mince them either by hand or in a mini-food processor.
Once the Butter has settled and is clear, you can add the Herbs to the Butter; set it aside until ready to serve. When ready to serve, you can just re-heat it until melted. (About 30 seconds or less in a microwave oven)
Next, prepare your salad and refrigerate until serving time. Make the Salad Dressing – in this case ours was Bleu Cheese. Bleu Cheese can be purchased in small portions in the Cheese Section in your supermarket or you can go to a speciality store. For the complete recipe please see bleu-cheese-dressing/
Since I was serving Mushrooms with the Lobster, the next thing I did was prepare the mushrooms. Wipe the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. (Since mushrooms act like sponges and soak up water, it is best to avoid washing them if possible – I don’t often follow this advice as some mushrooms also pick up a lot of the growing compound and just have to be washed) If you do wash your mushrooms, be sure to blot them dry really well with a paper towel. I quartered the Mushrooms and then sauteed them in Olive Oil with 2 cloves of minced Garlic. When they were done, I shut off the heat and set them aside. Just before serving, I reheated them for a short time.
The next item on the agenda was to prepare the Lobster. We had two tail which I decided to steam first before broiling. When you broil them you are never sure when they are done – you don’t want your lobster to be over-cooked and when broiling for the whole time, sometimes the tops get charred.
I split the tail down the back of the shells. This can be done with a cleaver, a sharp knife or a pair of kitchen shears. Then I placed them in my steamer – steaming takes only 5-10 minutes depending on the size of the tail. Just before serving I placed them under the broiler and broiled them for about five minutes.
While the lobster were broiling, we started on our Salad and I microwaved the butter, just to warm it up. This took about 15 seconds.
The main course was the Lobster, Baked Potato with Butter, Sour Cream and Chives and the Caramelized Mushrooms. These are all some of my favorite foods. Even though the Carribbean Lobster Tail, was ample in size, I still could have eaten more. I just love lobster! In any form!
Valentine’s Day, named after the Martyred St. Valentine is known as a day for lovers. Flowers & candy are sold and given in abundance and restaurants are booked weeks in advance for this special day. My husband Ev, loves to take me out for dinner and I in turn love to cook for this day. This year we came up with a compromise. Ev will take me out for dinner on Valentine’s and tonight, the night before Valentine’s Day, I made a special dinner for us. So in the end we both get and give what we want.
For our dinner tonight I made Lobster Alfredo served with Penne Pasta and a salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette. Dessert was the Heart Shaped Decorated Cake that I made as a sample for my Parent/Child Cake Decorating Class last Saturday.
To make this dinner for two you will need:
1 half pound lobster tail
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Saffron
1 tbsp. minced Basil
Half Cup Marsala Wine
1 Tbsp. Butter
Half Pint of Heavy Cream
Salt & Pepper
½ shredded Parmesan Cheese
2 cups (uncooked) Penne Pasta
Greens for Salad
¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp. minced Basil
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
½ cup Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
To Make The Dinner:
Use a Sharp knife or cleaver to cut the back of the lobster Shell in half.
Remove the meat from the shell and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place in a shallow dish.
Combine the Lemon Juice, Saffron, minced Garlic and minced Basil and add to the lobster meat in the dish. Toss to completely cover the Lobster with the marinade. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes.
Looking at the photo below, you will see that I put the wine in with the marinade. You can do it either way, either in the marinade or add it as in the directions below after you saute the lobster.
Fill a 4 qt. saucepan with water and 1 tsp. Salt. Place over high heat and bring to a boil.
While the Lobster is marinating, wash, dry and tear up the greens for the salad and place in a salad bowl. Peel and slice the cucumber and cut up the tomato and add to the lettuce in the bowl.
Slice and remove the pit from the avocado. This is best done with a spoon.
If there are any dark spots on the avocado, remove them also with a spoon. Cut the avocado up and add to the salad bowl.
Mixed Green Salad with Tomatoes, Avocadoes & Cucmbers
When the water in the saucepan begins to boil, add the pasta and cook for 11 minutes or per the package directions. (Leave the lid off) When the pasta is cooked (remove a piece first to taste for doneness) pour into a colander or strainer and set aside.
Add 1-2 Tbsps. Olive Oil to a sauté pan; when it is hot, add the Lobster and cook just until the outside of each piece has turned white. Remove and place in a covered bowl while you cook the sauce.
Add the Wine to the Saucepan and cook over high heat until it is nearly evaporated. Stir a tablespoon of Butter into the sauce; when it is melted add the Cream and Cook until it is reduced about ¼.
Add Salt and Pepper to taste.
Return the Lobster to the Sauce and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add the Pasta and shredded Parmesan to the Sauce.
Toss the Salad with the dressing and plate it.
Transfer the Lobster/Pasta mixture to a serving dish (unless your cooking vessel can serve as one). Garnish with the minced Parsley and serve immediately along with the Salad and Hot French or Italian Bread and a beverage of your choice. We had Pinot Grigio with ours.
Lobster Alfredo with Penne Pasta
As mentioned earlier our dessert was the sample Heart Shaped Cake I had made for my Parent/Child Valentine Class on Saturday at Let’s Get Cookin’.
A chocolate dessert would also be good with this dinner. Try Chocolate Mousse or Cream Puffs filled with Chocolate Ice Cream or even a Lemon Meringue Pie. Hurry, Valentine’s is almost here. If you miss out on a Valentine’s dinner, this is a good meal for any special event. Enjoy!
Today was another early rising day as we had decided to drive towards the northern end of Kauai to look for birds in the reserve in the Wailua River Valley. We also stopped to view the waterfall and to look over the Wailua River into the restored Hawaiian Village. It was a beautiful day and we had some good viewing. We also saw quite a lot of birds there as well.
After our early morning sightseeing we stopped at Smith’s Tropical Paradise. Their lush tropical gardens cover 30 acres of land; it is right next to the river. In the evenings they host luaus that anyone can purchase a ticket to attend. They also offer boat rides on the river. We saw quite a few different birds here but the most entertaining were the peacocks which of course are introduced birds. It is breeding season, the mails in all the finery strut around and around as if they were in a fashion show. (Will put up a video of one on U-Tube).
Back in Poipu we went to the Poipu Shopping Mall for lunch and tried out the dogs at Puka Dogs. The most outstanding thing about this eatery is all the different toppings that they provide for their dogs. Ev decided on the Polish Dog with Coconut Relish and I had the Polish Dog with Mango Relish. Their Polish Dogs taste more like regular hot dogs. I normally don’t like Polish Dogs, but their regular hot dogs were veggie dogs and that didn’t sit too well with me. I like my hot dogs to be made with beef. The best thing about this eatery was their fresh made-to order lemonade. It was very good. To see Puka Dog’s Menu go to http://www.pukadog.com/menu After lunch it was more beach time.
For dinner this evening we went back to Kalapaki Joe’s and tried out a couple of their menu items that featured fresh lobster. Ev had the lobster burrito which was quite large and contained more than an ample portion of lobster. I had the lobster salad and it too had an ample portion of grilled lobster with a variety of vegetables and was topped with grilled pineapple slices. This salad came with a wonderful sesame dressing which was absolutely perfect.
After dinner we walked back to the condo and spent some time outside on the grounds to soak up what was left of our time on the island. Kauai is a very peaceful place with beautiful scenery. With the gentle breeze, you feel like you are being bathed in silken strands. It is a wonderful feeling and one that you can carry with you in your memory for a long time afterwards.