by Erin and Xani
Last weekend, amongst our caramel apple-making adventures, we also were celebrating Dad's birthday (a little belated) and you know what that means: LOBSTER! As some of you may remember, it's our family tradition that for Father's Day and Dad's birthday we have lobster, one of his most favorite foods. Luckily, we are all huge fans so it doesn't bother us a bit!
Here was the menu:
- Moules a la Mariniere
- Lobster with Fideos
- Homemade Apple Pie a la Mode
For our cocktails, Erin made Dad a good strong martini: 4 parts gin, 1 part dry vermouth, with a twist and a shake. The ladies all enjoyed some Chardonnay.
Shake it, girl!
It was a big drink...
Next we had our first course of Moules a la Mariniere (steamed mussels in white wine). The recipe was very easy (well, compared to what came next with the lobster!) and only took a few minutes to prepare. Just take butter, shallots, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme and cook those up for a few minutes, then add cleaned mussels (note: make sure they are closed when you put them in - this means they are alive; if any have come open they are dead and you should NOT eat them!) and cook them for a minute or two until they begin to open. Then add some white wine or vermouth, heavy cream, salt, pepper, parsley and tarragon, cook for a few more minutes, and voila! You've got Moules a la Mariniere! Serve with crusty baguette.
This was a delicious and really easy first course. Very elegant without much fuss!
Next came the main course, Lobster with Fideos from Food and Wine magazine. Oy vey. What a production! It was TOTALLY worth it though. Now normally, we cook super-jumbo lobsters for Dad, but this year, he requested that we make this over-the-top dish, and we were happy to give it our best shot. You Top Chef fans may remember that Season Two winner Ilan made Lobster with Fideos in the finale. The recipe was not written by Ilan, but it's my understanding that this is either very close to his dish or the exact one.
The recipe is complicated so we will just provide a summary: first, boil 8 small lobsters (1.25-1.3 lb lobsters) for 5 minutes (no need to worry about cooking them all the way through). Then remove the claws and tails and remove the meat when cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile chop up the bodies into three-inch pieces (now that's a creepy sentence). Then take the chopped up bodies, the little legs and fry them in lots of olive oil. Then add carrots, onions, garlic, and canned tomatoes. THEN add brandy, paprika and water, and make lobster stock. Simple, right?
Next came the fideos themselves. Fideos are small lengths of thin pasta (you could use angel hair that's been broken into 2-3 inch pieces, but BCD Mom found the real thing!) which are cooked sort of like a risotto in that you fry them in lots of oil until brown and then gradually add liquid. But, it's a little less labor-intensive (ha!) since you don't have to stir constantly and you can use larger amounts of liquid and therefore have fewer rounds to go. Anyway, you fry up the fideos, adding portions of the strained lobster stock to cook the pasta to al dente. (Note: Xani did not use all of the stock since the pasta was al dente before all had been incorporated.)
The real thing!
Meanwhile, you cut up the lobster meat from the tails and claws, coat them in a bit of olive oil AND butter, some salt and pepper, and cook them through in the oven for a few minutes. Then add the lobster pieces to the fideos and dig in! It's dinner in a snap! HA! This is how much we love you, Dad!
Anyway, the dish was totally and completely worth all the murder (of the lobsters) and mayhem (including wounds from lobster spikes, near-burns, boil-overs, etc.) that went down. This was AWESOME. The fideos were perfectly cooked and had a rich lobster-y flavor that wasn't fishy at all (a concern of ours since fish stocks can be that way sometimes). The lobster was, of course, totally delicious, rich, and not tough at all.
If we were to ever make this dish again (which we probably will since it was so amazing!), we will make the stock and prepare the par-cooked lobster earlier in the day or the night before, as the recipe suggests. We SO should have completed these steps earlier - it would have made everything else (e.g., caramel apples, apple pie (see below), pumpkin carving, mussels) go more smoothly.
After the main course, we had dessert and coffee. We made Dad one of his favorite desserts: Apple Pie. We used the recipe from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook and it came out great (despite some issues with the store-bought crust - more mayhem!!). Martha suggests using various kinds of apples, so we used Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, and Pink Lady apples. This dessert was also a small homage to our late Grandmother, who made the best pies (especially apple) in the world. (We think she may have been sprinking some crack in there or something - that's how good they were.) We served the pie a la mode and it was delicious and comforting. The apples did not get too mushy and were spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. Yum!
Despite all the murder and mayhem, it was a fun day cooking and crafting with the family, and we are so grateful that we can celebrate another year of our wonderful Dad! We love you Daddy! Happy Birthday!
E & X