Monday, July 16, 2012

Fresh Lobsters

It's a small tragedy that my mother is landlocked because she adores seafood. My dad, on the other hand, is happy as a clam to be situated close to the best red meat money can buy. When my dad came to visit me in Boston, he was charged with bringing back some lobster for my mom. That was all she wanted. Lobster. I poo-pooed the idea. I'm not sure she understood the reality of cooking lobster at home. It either comes in a plastic bag already cooked or still alive. She didn't quite get it, and even though she was mad at first, I think I made the right call.

She got some delayed gratification on her birthday a couple weeks ago. My sister stopped by Absolutely Fresh Seafood and picked up some enormous lobsters, which cost about three times as much as they do on the East Coast but whatever. They were still delicious, salty, sweet and fresh. The trouble was getting them into the pot.
One of the lobster--the largest one of course--had somehow lost one of the bands that keeps its claws clamped shut. My sister had completely buried them in ice, making it difficult to grab those arachnids. She had them chilling, literally, in the cooler for a couple hours. The dog strolled on by a dozen times and didn't notice them until one of them made a sudden movement--a last effort to escape the pot.

Avoid the water they did not. In better hands, things would have gone better. I regret to say that neither culinary school nor a three-month stint in Boston (and plenty of lobster) made me much good at grabbing these boys. For starters, I just couldn't touch them. I had to use a glove. Not that the gloves would protect me from their claws or pokey legs or overall grossness, but it was an effective placebo. The other problem we encountered was that my mom doesn't have a pot deep enough for lobsters. We had to use my Dutch oven for the two smaller ones, who had to be squeezed under the lid like a fat lady in a cat suit. It was not what I would call pleasant. But in the end, my mom was happy and we had a delicious meal.

Steamed Lobsters: serves 2
2 lobsters

Fill a large stock pot with a couple inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place lobsters into the simmering water. Cover with a lid and steam for 18 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for five minutes. Melt butter and go to town.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Scorching--Not in Reference to the Weather

I haven't had a certifiable kitchen disaster in a long time. This one wasn't my fault--I swear it. Look at what happened and then let me explain.

It was the oven. Seriously. I woke up early on a Saturday morning first to take my car into the shop (a great way to kick things off) and then to make hors d'oeuvres and dessert for my good friend's bridal shower. Salad went smoothly, and I made pesto with fresh basil from my mom's garden. I had whipped up some peach curd and lemon cream to fill tarts, meanwhile the oven went berserk. I rolled out the crust and filled the tins perfectly. I mean perfect. It was smooth; it was even. The world will never know because right before I popped these babies in the oven, it locked and kicked it up to "auto clean" level.

My dad surveyed the situation pessimistically. Apparently the oven had done this before, and it required a mechanic and a specially-ordered part to be back in working condition. I didn't have time for that. So when the oven unlocked after we had turned it off, I foolishly put two of my three tart shells in, hoping to bake them quickly and be done with it. Obviously, that was stupid. Within five minutes, the oven locked itself again and commenced scorching my tart shells right before my helpless eyes. I flipped it off. But these newfangled computerized ovens have a mind all their own, and it refused to let me save the tarts until the kitchen smelled of smoke.

I was at a loss. With only two hours until the party, I patently refused to remake the crusts. Too stressful. At the last minute, I ran out and bought a frozen pie crust and baked it at my neighbors' house. I had to put the crusts in the freezer to cool in time to add filling. My friend was very gracious about the tarts and pies, which turned out good enough.