WEEK SEVEN CHALLENGE: LOVE-INSPIRED

Whether you’re a hopeless romantic or a hapless relationship-phobe, it’s hard to not recognize the cultural significance of Valentine’s Day, the obvious inspiration for this week’s **DOUBLE POINTS WEEK** Love-Inspired Challenge.  Though the holiday has it’s roots in the brutal murder of an early Catholic priest, we have historically chosen this day in February to shower our beloved with flowers, chocolate, candy made from Pepto-bismol and, of course, fancy food.  Which one of these love-inspired dishes is going to inspire you to try your hand at a homemade V-Day next year (and just maybe lead to a special dessert… so to speak): the Strawberry Caviar with Fresh Creamand  Shortbread Toast Points or the Stuffed Lobster with Crispy Accordion Potatoes?

Strawberry “Caviar” with Fresh Cream and Shortbread “Toast Points”

Ladies, I hate to break it to you, but this recipe is for the gentlemen.  You see, we all know that even though you love the flowers and the teddy bears, the way to your heart is no different than the way to ours – through the stomach.  The difficulty, however, is figuring out which type of romantic eater you are:  are you that woman who loves to be spoiled with fancy foods like caviar and foie gras or are you more of a sweet-tooth, wanting your romance in the form of chocolate and decadence?  Well this is the ultimate recipe for the man who has yet to figure out what type of eater he’s working with but wants to cover all of his bases.

At first glance, this recipe looks like your standard serving of trout roe with creme fresh and toast points, but one bite later and you are transported to a dessert wonderland with a burst of fresh strawberry, the decadence of freshly whipped cream and the sweet-yet-savory elegance of shortbread toast points.  The exciting part of this dish is the ability to turn a strawberry puree into a caviar-like substance using the process of spherification.  First invented by molecular-gastronomy super-chef Ferran Adria, spherification uses food grade alginates to form a small skin around the fluid of your choice which allows you to make the caviar seen here or other cool applications like liquid ravioli.  If chemistry isn’t your thing, use the same strawberry puree below and use this method, which utilizes tapioca to get a similar faux caviar presentation.

Strawberry “Caviar”

  • 1/2 pound strawberries
  • 2 tbl sugar (or more to taste)
  • 1 tbl balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sodium alginate
  • 100 ml of water
  • 1.5L water
  • 1 tablespoon of calcium chloride
  1.  Mix strawberries, sugar and balsamic vinegar in food processor and process on high until a puree has been formed.  Pass through fine mesh strainer to remove seeds.
  2. Mix 1 tsp sodium alginate with 100ml of water and blend with stick blender until uniformly distributed.
  3. Mix about 1/3 of the alginate/water mixture with the strawberry puree and again mix with your stick blender.
  4. Create a water bath by mixing the 1.5 L of water with 1 tablespoon of calcium chloride.
  5. Fill dropper/syringe with puree mixture and add drop by drop into the water bath and allow caviar to form for about 2 minutes.
  6. Remove from water bath with mesh strainer and rinse.

Whipped Cream

  • 8oz heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  1. Combine all ingredients in cold metal bowl.  Whip on high until medium peaks form.

Shortbread “Toast Points”

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of bread flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon of superfine sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Combine first four ingredients in food processor and pulse to combine
  3. Add cubed butter and pulse until mixture just comes together and looks grainly/sandy.
  4. Empty into a large workbowl and mix in heavy cream until mixture comes together and is dough-like.
  5. Remove to floured work surface and knead just enough to bring dough together in a large ball.
  6. Using a rolling pin, flatten dough to a rectangle approximately 1/2 inch thick.
  7. Using a  pizza cutter, cut into 3×3 squares (approximate yield is 12)
  8. Place biscuites on baking sheet (on top of parchment paper).  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with superfine sugar.
  9. Place in oven and bake 30 minutes.  Remove and let cool on baking sheet.
  10. Split biscuits in half and cut on diagonal.  Top with whipped cream and strawberry caviar and enjoy.

Stuffed Lobster with Crispy Accordion Potatoes
 
People have been looking for edible ways to boost romance since at least 300 bc. The word Aphrodisiac gets its roots from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. There’s something about the luscious flavors and intoxicating aromas of certain foods that simulates both mind and body. Very often it is just the sharing of sensuous foods with the one you love that makes them so special.
Lobster’s history as a natural aphrodisiac deals mainly with its status as a symbol of luxury. What better aphrodisiacthan a luxurious, succulent, and indulgent seafood-lover’s dream. Lobster tail stuffed with jumbo lump crab meat is wonderfully romantic and decadent and a perfect treat for a romantic meal for two. The sweet lobster is paired perfectly with the delicate, zesty, buttery crab meat topping and complimented amazingly with the heartiness of the potatoes delicately flavored with the shallots, bacon, and thyme. Simply pop open a bottle of champagne, light a few candles, and enjoy a romantic dinner for two!
Crispy Accordion Potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
  • 4 shallots, thickly sliced lengthwise
  • 4 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • Coarse salt
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (optional)
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine butter and oil. Brush bottom of a round 9-inch baking dish with some butter mixture. With a sharp knife or mandoline, slice potatoes very thinly crosswise.
  2. Arrange potato slices vertically in dish. Wedge shallots and bacon throughout. Sprinkle with salt and red-pepper flakes (if using); brush with remaining butter mixture. Bake 1 1/4 hours. Add thyme and bake until potatoes are cooked through with a crisp top, about 35 minutes more.
Stuffed Lobster
  • 4 lobster tails, 8 ounces each
  • 1 cup crushed round butter crackers, about 15 crackers (recommended: Ritz)
  • 1/2 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons clarified butter
  • 5 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Split lobster tails in half. Remove tail meat, then replace in shells. Place lobster on baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan or saute pan. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Do not brown.
  3. In a mixing bowl combine the crushed crackers, crabmeat, onion garlic butter, the parsley, tarragon,thyme, lemon zest, juice, and extra virgin olive oil and toss to combine. Adjust seasonings with salt and white pepper.
  4. Divide the stuffing evenly among the lobster halves, covering the tail with the stuffing. Drizzle the halves with the remaining butter, and bake the lobsters until the filling is golden brown on top and the lobsters are heated through and thoroughly cooked, about 10 to 12 minutes. (The temperature on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the lobster meat should register 145 degrees F.)

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2 responses

  1. Pingback: Hump Day Updates | 52 Week Cooking Challenge

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