I must admit to you that the last few weeks I have been crazed.
… but also learning what it takes to put my work out there for the world to see and read. I know I do that every time I post in this space, but somehow this time feels different.
It’s magnified and intensified…
So amongst all the work and the traveling, I find comfort in my kitchen. My parents are visiting from the Basque Country and we are thrilled they will be spending Christmas with us. My dad is teaching Jon and Miren how to paint, they take walks and explore. We also cook a lot. My mom and I are constantly in the kitchen developing new recipes or cooking old favorites. There has already been arroz con leche, which is the official welcoming treat.
We have begun planning our Christmas menu, which we never take lightly. This is what was on my mind this week. Perhaps my trip to Boston last week triggered lobster craving, but I had to have some. I think this will make it onto our menu, or perhaps a more traditional version of Basque fish soup. Regardless, there will be fish and shellfish – we know it as there always is one in our Christmas dinner. Ever since I can remember, spiny lobster and langoustines were on our Christmas table. Sometimes “a la americana” with brandy sauce, sometimes with a simple aioli or vinaigrette – my grandfather was a big fan and so was everyone else. I really wish I could show you photos of our dinner table when at least forty of us gathered for the holidays. It was pretty impressive.
So with this bit of nostalgia, I leave you with this recipe, which might be perfect for your weekend if you are craving lobster like me.
And tell me, what are you planning for your holiday dinners?
Lobster and fennel stew
1 pound (450 g) lobster
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 ounces (110 g) shrimp shells (optional)
2 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon whiskey (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 medium leek, sliced
1/2 small fennel bulb, sliced
1/2 cup (125 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy cream
Fine sea salt
1) In a small pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the lobster and cook for 5 minutes. The meat will not be fully cooked. Remove the lobster from water and let cool slightly. Reserve the cooking liquid. When lobster is cool enough to handle, separate the shell from the meat. Dice the meat. Reserve the shells.
2) Heat a small pot over medium high heat. Add the olive oil, reserved lobster shells, shrimp shells (it’s ok if you don’t have shrimp shells they are for extra flavor) and thyme. Stir over medium high heat until the shells start to toast. Add the whiskey and cook until alcohol evaporates. Add the reserved cooking liquid and bring to a simmer. Cook for 8 minutes or so until reduced. Strain the liquid and discard shells. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of cooking liquid.
3) Heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add the butter, leeks, fennel and a small pinch of salt. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until tender but not browned. Add the diced lobster, cooking liquid, coconut milk and heavy cream. Cook for 1 more minute until all ingredients are heated and lobster is fully cooked. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with chervil and a drizzle of olive oil.