Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lobster Bisque

What do you do when you're home, and suddenly four savage sea-beasts burst in through the living room wall? You turn them into soup. Whoohoo! Thanks so much to Catrina and Bill for providing said sea monsters. Now, before you start on this, understand this is the "long version" and it'll be a two-day recipe. Day one is lobster stock, and day two is making the bisque. In this particular case I cheated a bit by making the stock in the morning, and the bisque late that night. Admittedly the bisque was not quite as good as the previous time I made it, but that's my fault and not the recipe following. So off we go.

First, on day one, you're making the stock.

Hi, back? Welcome to tomorrow. Let's make our bisque.


finely chopped lobster meat, from four small lobsters
1/2 cup white flour
1/3 cup butter
7 cups lobster stock
1 small can tomato paste
1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup sour cream
1 pinch nutmeg
diced fresh tarragon, to taste
salt, pepper, to taste

Let's start by making a roux. Melt the butter in the bottom of a large pot, over medium heat. Add the flour and combine to make a paste. Cook the paste, while stirring it around, until it smells not like flour but sort of nutty and a little browned.

Slowly, while stirring, add the lobster stock. Once combined, bring to near-boil while stirring. You should be able to see the thickening agent of the roux upon the stock, if not, you can add some cornstarch slurry, or toasted flour, to make the stock a bit thickened.

Stir in the tomato paste, sherry, heavy cream, sour cream, and nutmeg. Once this is done, you can add your salt, pepper, and tarragon until the flavor of each is where you like it. Add your cooked lobster chunks, and once hot you're good to serve. If you want a smooth bisque, you can puree' the whole thing now.

Serve using a sprig of tarragon, and a twist of cracked pepper as garnish if you're feeling fancy.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pork Chops, German, with onion and stout beer gravy

Ok, so we're in the Boston area visiting Brian and Jim. Some beer is involved. Ok, a lot of beer is involved. Soooo when it was my turn to make dinner, I says, I says to myself "Self, how can I involve even more beer in this week? Possibly with pork and onions?" Brian and Jim have some sweet stout beer in the fridge, home-brewed by their father. This seemed like an obvious solution. It turned out even better then I imagined. Served with garlic mashed potatoes and orange-tarragon carrots. Guess I'll post those recipes later.


* 2 tbsp vegetable oil
* 2 large pork chops, or 4 small
* salt, pepper to taste
* 2 large onions, finely diced
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1 tbsp butter
* 3 tbsp flour
* 2 cups room temperature dark German beer
* 1 cup hot chicken broth
* salt and black pepper, again, to taste

Heat a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Once very hot, add the oil to the pan and make sure the bottom is coated. Add the pork chops, season with salt and pepper, and brown both sides well. Remove them, set aside covered with foil. Reduce heat to medium, and add the onions and garlic to the pan, followed by the butter.

Cook, stirring often, until the garlic is fragrant and the onions are translucent. Add the flour, and cook for several minutes until the flour is a paste and smells nutty rather then like...flour. Combine the beer and chicken stock, and add to the onions. Stir with a wisk to remove brown bits from the pan until you have a nice gravy. Add more beer and chicken stock if you need. Return the pork chops to the gravy, reduce heat to low, cover with the foil. Simmer on low for 30 minutes. Serve.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Big Ass Classic Lasagna

This ended up being the Last Supper of sorts, the final cheesetastic bomb before I abruptly turned to exercising and eating healthier. Fare thee well, piles of cheese, I may not see you for a while. It pains me to say it now, but this was reeeeeeeally good.


1/2 lb (250 g) lasagna noodles
1 pkg (300 g) chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups (500 mL) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup (50 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Meat Filling:
1/2 lb (250 g) Italian sausage
1/2 lb (250 g) ground beef
1 each onion, carrot, and celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) each dried oregano and basil
Pinch hot pepper flakes
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) tomatoes (not drained)
1 can (14 oz/398 mL) tomato sauce
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper

Cheese Filling:
2 eggs
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
1/4 tsp (1 mL) nutmeg
2 cups (500 mL) cottage cheese
1 cup (250 mL) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup (125 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

Meat Filling: Remove sausage from casing; crumble meat. In Dutch oven, cook sausage and beef over medium-high heat, breaking up with back of spoon, for about 5 minutes or until no longer pink; remove to plate. Spoon off all but 1 tablespoon (15 mL) fat from pot.
Cook onion, carrot, celery, garlic, oregano, basil and hot pepper flakes, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and meat; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, breaking up tomatoes and stirring often, for 20 to 25 minutes or until thickened. Add pepper.

Cheese Filling: In bowl, beat together eggs, pepper and nutmeg. Blend in cottage cheese, mozzarella and Parmesan.
In large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles for 6 to 8 minutes or until almost tender. Drain and place in cold water. Arrange in single layer on damp tea towel.

Spread 1 cup (250 mL) of the meat filling as base in greased 13- x 9-inch (3 L) baking dish. Top with one-third of the noodles in single layer; spread with one-third of the remaining meat filling. Spread with half of the cheese filling, then half of the spinach. Starting with noodles, repeat layers once.

Top with remaining noodles; spread with remaining meat filling. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover loosely with foil; bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and heated through. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It-goes-with-chicken pilaf

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It doesn't actually contain chicken, but it...goes with chicken. It's the best name I could think of given limited creativity.

1 carrot, diced finely
1 stalk celery, diced finely
1 onion, diced finely
1 cup diced mushrooms (I didn't have any on hand) :(
pinch of dried thyme

1 can (16 ounces) chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine, or apple juice
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley (or 1 tbsp dried)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp curry powder
1.5 cups uncooked rice, white or parboiled

Lightly coat a dutch oven, or large braising pan with no-stick spray and set over medium-high heat. When hot, add carrots, celery, onion, mushrooms, and thyme. Sauté, stirring often, for five minutes until the onions are soft.

Except for the rice, add everything else. Bring to a boil, add the rice, then turn heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms and Peppers

My response to a challenge from Karen: Make dinner using only what you can find in the house, today, right now. I was allowed one lifeline item, and I chose mushrooms.

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp rosemary
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp each salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

1 chopped red onion
2 chopped white onions
1/2 red pepper chopped
1/2 green onion, chopped
about two cups small whole mushrooms

3 slices bacon, diced

1 whole chicken, in pieces, skin-on and bone-in

1/2 cup red wine

butter and flour to make a roux

Ok, let's hit it. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Combine the balsamic, sugar, rosemary, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Put the vegetables+mushrooms into a large bowl, add about 2/3 of the balsamic mixture to this, toss it around to coat, and save the rest of the balsamic mix and keep it aside. Put the now-coated vegetables into a baking dish, and toss the diced bacon on top of that.

Pat dry the skin of the chicken, put the pieces on top of the vegetables (skin side up). Brush with the remaining 1/3 of the balsamic mixture. In the oven it goes for 30 minutes. Then out it comes, turn the oven down to 325 F. While waiting for the oven to cool a bit, add the red wine to the chicken and vegetables, then back into the oven for about 30 more minutes. Chicken should be 165 F internal temp, then it's done.

Remove the chicken to a separate platter, and cover with foil. Now remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and keep those aside, covered also. In a sauce pan, melt some butter over medium heat, and stir a tablespoon or so of flour into it, so you have a thick but liquid mixture. Now add the cooking liquid you have from your baking dish, and stir with a whisk so you have your pan sauce.

We served the chicken and vegetables (and sauce) over hot buttered noodles, because, well, any excuse to eat hot buttered noodles is a good one.