Ever since I moved to New York and started my new job, my Dad has joked that I should finally be able to take my parents out to dinner; a gesture serving as my right of passage into adulthood. I have kindly joked back about the lovely meal I will be taking them to at Gray’s Papaya.
Finally, determined to make some sort of a fun statement, I was inspired to create a Sunday night feast at home, on my own dime. This would be my varied version on the right of passage.
I drove home from the beach early to prepare all day and boy, was it worth it. I ventured into uncharted territory creating homemade bread, focaccia to be exact. Lobster Bisque would act as the main star, perfect for dipping the bread into. I made a little side Arugula salad to serve as the fresh component of the dish.
It all came out delicious and my parents were licking their bowls clean. The amount of focaccia made was enough to feed our family for an entire week, allowing for me to create sandwiches for lunch and dinner the next night. They were very impressed and wished I came home more often to cook gourmet dinners.
The whole meal did take hours to prepare, but with a little bit of time and patience you can make this delicious meal too. The best part was, for all of this food and high end meal, it only cost $40 at the market. Lobsters are unusually cheap this summer in the Northeast, costing at $5.99/lb at my local grocery store. So there really is no reason not to recreate this wonderful meal.
Listed below are the recipes. Definitely try it out, I promise it will not disappoint.
Adapted from the Noble Pig
Makes 4-5 cups; can easily be doubled
2 lobsters (around 1 1/2 lbs each)
2 cups salted water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup unsalted butter plus 1 Tablespoon
1/2 cup shallot, chopped
1 cup fresh tomato, peeled, seeded, diced
2 Tablespoons brandy
2 Tablespoons raw white rice
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
You will need 2 whole lobsters (1 1/2 lbs each). Be sure to ask your local grocery store about steaming the lobsters for you, making it even easier to create this dish.
When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the tail and bodies. Save the lobster claws for later, just using for their meat. Chill the lobster meat until ready to use.
Sauté lobster shells in 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat for five minutes to release the flavors.
Deglaze the pan (with shells present and scraping bits at the bottom) with 2 cups dry white wine (Chardonnay works well), 3 cups chicken stock and the 2 cups of salted water. Simmer until reduced to 6 cups; about 45 minutes. Then strain the shells from the stock.
While the stock is simmering prepare the rest of the ingredients. You will need a cup of diced tomatoes, peeled and seeded. The easiest way to peel tomatoes are to place them in boiling water for about 45 seconds. The skin will instantly pull away. Cut the tomato in half and scoop out the seeds and dice.
Sauté shallot in 1/4 cup unsalted butter, about 5 minutes.
Stir in strained lobster stock, diced tomato, brandy, raw white rice, tomato paste, paprika, cayenne, bay leaf and thyme sprig; simmer 45 minutes. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprig.
I used an immersion blender for this dish, creating a smooth outside, with as much texture as you would like. However, you do not need one for this. A regular blender can work just fine. Just be careful with the hot liquids. I recommend working in batches.
Stir in heavy cream and fresh lemon juice to finish off the soup.
When you are ready to serve the soup, sauté the lobster meat in 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter over medium-high heat, just until warmed through. Slice tails into the size of your choosing for serving and arrange on bisque. Serve immediately.
ROSEMARY & GARLIC FOCACCIA:
Easy, Homemade Focaccia Bread
From the Noble Pig
1-3/4 cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
5 cups all purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
1 Tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup infused extra-virgin olive oil, divided
A few days before, I decided to give the focaccia a bit of extra flavor by creating an infused olive oil. Combine fresh Rosemary and garlic with two cups of olive oil on the stove at a low temperature. Allow this to cook until bubbles begin to form around the garlic cloves. Do not let the garlic or rosemary burn. This should take about 20 minutes. Turn the stove off, letting the oil cool a bit. Drain the oil into a seal-able container. Add fresh rosemary and garlic to the container. Allow this to sit until you are ready for use.
Combine the warm water (by warm I mean body temperature, you should be able to place your finger in the water and not get burned and it should not feel cold), yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Put the bowl in a warm (not hot or cool) place until the yeast is bubbling and aromatic, at least 15 minutes.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt, 1/2 cup olive oil and the yeast mixture on low speed. Once the dough has come together, continue to knead for 5-6 minutes on medium speed until it becomes smooth and soft. Give it a sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.
Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly floured surface, then knead it a couple of times, sprinkling with flour. The dough is a “more tacky” kind of dough so rolling it around in some flour a few times until you can handle it is normal.
Coat the inside of the mixer bowl lightly with olive oil and return the dough to the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (as shown), 1 to 2 hours.
Coat a jelly roll pan (it must have sides) with the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Do not worry that this is an excessive amount of oil, focaccia is an oily crusted bread, which is why it is so good. The oil will be sucked up into the bread during baking, making it delicious.
Put the dough onto the jelly roll pan and begin pressing it out to fit the size of the pan. Turn the dough over to coat the other side with the olive oil. Continue to stretch the dough to fit the pan (it will eventually go into place). As you are doing so, spread your fingers out and make finger holes all the through the dough. It sounds strange but when the dough rises again it will create the characteristic craggy looking focaccia. If you do not make the actual holes in the dough, the finished product will be very smooth.
Put the dough in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. While the dough is rising a second time, preheat the oven to 425o F.
Liberally sprinkle the top of the focaccia with some coarse salt and lightly drizzle a little oil on top.
Bake the dough until the top of the loaf is golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. It does brown fast towards the end so keep your eye on it. Remove the focaccia from the oven and resist every urge to tear into it immediately. Let it cool keeping the steam inside and intact, leaving you with a very moist bread. Carefully remove from the jelly roll pan whole after it has been out of the oven for 10 minutes.
ARUGULA, PECORINO ROMANO AND CITRUS VINAIGRETTE:
Whisk all ingredients in bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill. Bring to room temperature before using.)