Here’s another one of those, probably, gasp worthy admissions (not to be confused with gas worthy emissions) that may surprise you. This one’s probably right up there with the time I admitted that I used boxed cake mixes. I hardly ever watch Food Network. Yep, it’s true. There are a couple of shows that I’ll watch, if they happen to be on when I’m cruising through the 800 channels on the satellite (can you believe we used to survive on only 3 or 4 channels for our entertainment?). One of those is Chopped. I think I just like to watch it because it’s fun to see how much they try to screw the chefs by making them prepare a dish in 15 minutes with cod liver, lavender and harissa. I’m still hoping to catch a taster puke when they have to eat one of those concoctions (it hasn’t happened yet…but I now it’s going to one of these days). But I actually record The Best Thing I Ever Ate. I don’t watch it because I like to see the far flung places these chefs have eaten but to get inspiration from some of the dishes that they show and talk about. Today’s dish is one of those.
One of the episodes was based on egg dishes. Yes, some of the usual suspects were in there but then they started talking about this Maine lobster recipe from New York’s Citronelle restaurant. The dish is called Lobster Begula Pasta and it starts out with live Maine lobster (which is cooked for the final dish), some hollandaise sauce, a poached egg and is topped off with “caviar” which is really squid ink stained Israeli couscous. I thought the dish was genius. They also serve it in a silver caviar can, so you only see the black pearls of pasta on top and it looks like you’re about to eat an entire can of beluga caviar.
I have a MAJOR love of Maine lobster but living on the West coast, it’s rare to find it on a restaurant menu and even more scarce to find a local supplier that has tanks of live Maine lobster to choose from. However, I am lucky enough to live by a place that not only has a huge tank of the bugs, but the price was actually something that didn’t send me into convulsions either. So I made nice with my live Maine lobster (you didn’t think I would have them cook it for me did you – although they will do that) brought him home and tucked him/her (I didn’t make that kind of nice the lobster) into the fridge for later.
The other trick was finding squid ink. A call out on Twitter got me headed in the right direction but ended up finding it at a great Spanish food store I’ve gone to before. I will name them here because they’ve got great food, it’s reasonably priced (yes, that Iberico ham price you see is reasonable) and they ship. The name of the store is La Espanola Meats (but they also carry piquillo peppers, olives, cheese, wine, olive oil, quince paste….you get the idea.)
I turned this lobster pasta recipe into my own because I really needed to lighten it up and I wanted to make it as a main course instead of an appetizer (but it would still make a fantastic appetizer – just make it smaller). Plus, who doesn’t want to feel like they’re cheating the system a little bit by eating a restaurant quality dish at home, that you made yourself? This week’s recipes are going to be all about this concept. I decided that this might become my “go to” appetizer recipe and I’ll just change up the ingredients depending on what time of year I’m serving it. Of course, the availability of lobsters will probably keep it as a summer recipe (yes, you could use frozen lobster tail meat in this).
Even though each step takes a little bit of time to do…because it is in steps, you can make everything up ahead of time. When you’re ready to eat, all you need to do is assemble it. Just put everything into individual containers and put it in the refrigerator. The lobster will keep for a good 3 days – cooked, not alive in your fridge.
I will give you my recipe/instructions for steaming a live Maine lobster below – so you’re not on your own there. To get the stacked look of the dish, I used a 2″ x 3 3/4″ ring mold that I have. But you could use a tuna fish can with the top and bottom removed and get the same result (a bit smaller, but it works perfectly). If you get really ambitious and feel like adding more layers to the lobster pasta recipe, then you could use a soup can with the top and bottom removed…stack ’til your heart’s content.
So here’s a shocker for you: Teenage girls boozing are turning into angry, slutty whores. “One in five female teens who consume alcohol at least once a week say they have got themselves so drunk they have had sex they regret.” This finding came from a report put together by the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University, and was compiled from information gained from 11,000 teenagers in the North West.
Okay, I get it, that’s serious but how about compiling a report like that on women in their 20’s and 30’s (the results will probably be worse). Can you honestly tell me that you (guys, you’re off the hook on this one today…sort of) never had too much to drink and had sex with some guy you didn’t know (or knew when you were sober that you didn’t want to sleep with him) only to wake up in the morning regretting your actions (especially if the sex was bad – there’s a whole other study on that topic)? I know I’ve had my share of vodka cranberries at night only to wake up the next morning in bed wondering if I could find all of my clothes quietly enough so as not to wake up whoever that was sleeping next to me. Being that I’m a complete clutz that never happened and some of those regrettable evenings turned into regrettable weeks because then I felt bad that I didn’t remember our “magical connection” and conversation from that night and found it hard to tell the guy I wasn’t interested in doing whatever it was we just did, again.
So being that we, as women, have done these same stupid things as it appears our daughters (I use the “our” in the collective sense because I don’t have one of those) are doing is it our fault that they’re doing them? Let’s just say that we didn’t do this things at their age. Are we too embarrassed to talk to our daughters about this because we don’t want to admit that we did the same dangerous and stupid things?
Recipe: Maine Lobster Begula Pasta My Way
For Steamed Lobster
- 2 Pound Live Maine Lobster
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
For Lobster Pasta
- 3/4 Cup of Israeli Couscous
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- 2 Teaspoons Squid Ink
For Herb Vinaigrette
- 1 Large Shallot (chopped fine)
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley (chopped fine)
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Tarragon (chopped fine)
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Chives (chopped fine)
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Lime Juice
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
- 2 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
- Dash of Pernod
- 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
For Corn Salad
- 5 Ears Fresh Corn
- 1 Medium Sweet Onion (such as Vidalia – chopped to small pieces)
- 1 Handful Snow Peas (chopped to small pieces)
- 1 Large Avocado
For Steamed Lobster
- In a large stock pot, add 1″ of water and a tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil.
- Place lobster in the pot, cover with the lid and steam for 5 minutes per pound.
- When done, remove from pot and place lobster in bowl of ice to stop the cooking.
- Once the lobster has cooled, crack open the claws and the tail to remove the meat.
- Chop the lobster meat into 1/2″ pieces.
For Lobster Pasta
- In a medium size sauce pan, add the couscous and 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer.
- Continue simmering until all of the water is gone and pasta is still firm to the bite (al dente) (approx. 20 mins).
- Remove from heat and stir in the butter until it’s melted and thoroughly combined.
- Stir the squid ink into the pasta (be careful…that ink stains everything it touches).
- Once ink is stirred into pasta, set the pan aside.
For the Herb Vinaigrette
- Add all of the ingredients (except for the salt and pepper) to a small container and mix to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
For the Corn Salad
- While lobster is cooling add more water to the pot to cook the corn.
- Bring water to a boil and add ears of corn.
- Bring back to a boil and leave the corn in the water for 3 minutes.
- Remove corn from the water and set aside on a plate to cool.
- Once the corn has cooled, cut the kernels off the cob.
- In a medium bowl, add the corn, onion and snow peas. Toss to combine.
- Pour the herb vinaigrette into the corn mixture and stir to combine.
Putting it all together
- Place your ring mold in the center of the plate.
- Spoon in enough of the lobster meat to cover the bottom. Press the meat, with the back of a spoon, to compact it into the mold.
- Next, spoon in a layer of the corn salad. Just like you did with the lobster, compress the corn salad with the back of a spoon.
- Peel and slice the avocado. Lay the slices around the edge of the ring mold so that the wider green part is against the side of the mold. Fill in the layer with more avocado and gently compress this layer.
- The final layer is the pasta caviar. Spoon this on top of the avocado and compress this layer like you’ve done before.
- Gently, but firmly, compress everything with the palm of your hand.
- Slowly remove the ring mold to reveal your lobster stack.
- Garnish with a piece of lobster on top, sliced tomatoes on the plate and a sprinkling of some of the same herbs used to make the vinaigrette.
If making the larger entree size of this dish (with the size ring mold I used), you will get 2 full portions. Using a can for your ring mold will give you 4 portions. I have also made this with crab meat and the results are just as good.
If fresh corn is not available, you can also use 2 cups of frozen (but thawed) corn.
The Pernod can be left out if you don’t have any, but it adds a nice bit of flavor to the dressing.
Preparation time:40 Minutes
Cooking time:30 Minutes
Number of servings (yield): 4
Culinary tradition: USA (General)