Christine’s Lobster Bisque, with Open-Faced Cucumber Sandwiches
More Cape Cod delights (I’m telling you, we ate well on this trip). After our clam bake, we had the quick sense to make a seafood stock with the clam and lobster shells. Which led to lobster bisque…of course. This could also be made with crab meat if you were short on lobster.
The sammiches were inspired by the farmers’ market in Falmouth. We bought goat cheese that had been made at 5:30 AM that very day. It was mild and luscious. I hadn’t ever associated the sour tang of goat cheese with the aging process, but this fresh goat cheese was milder than mozzarella. We layered it on ciabatta, topped with cucumber and radish rounds, olive oil, mint leaves, salt, and pepper. A perfect bright counterpoint to the creamy soup. This is the goat cheese seller.
We got the lobster from the market, too.
Lobster made everyone happy.
Well, except for Mr. Lobster. Christine had to kill him before cooking, and, though she did so with incredible skill and aplomb (following instructions she’d seen on the Food Network), he still twitched. A lot. For a long time. Poor guy. Poor, tasty, little guy.
Here’s Christine’s recipe for this gorgeous soup, and the story behind it:
I grew up in New England, and lobster was a frequent and popular treat. It was usually the most basic and pure variety – boiled or steamed, with lots of butter and few gourmet touches. So I was not familiar with lobster bisque.
In college, my roommate was a foodie from Singapore, named shimi. She was an expert in the spiciest type of Indian cooking (new to me!), and eager to try out new styles. Since shimi’s home was far away, we invited her to my house for many holidays, and she quickly became an honorary part of the family.
One Christmas we introduced shimi to skiing. After she got her confidence up, she tackled the bunny slope, while I went off to try some steeper stuff. Unfortunately, both of us met disaster, and we reunited in the infirmary with identically sprained knees. Yet, despite our handicaps, we were determined to make something scrumptious for Christmas. So we took on lobster bisque for the first time. I have vivid memories of us hobbling around the kitchen on crutches, completing the many steps of this gourmet soup. It was delicious!
Following our Cap Code clambake, when confronted with a bucket of lobster shells, I knew it had to be done – lobster bisque, 17 years later! Eager to save the essence of our clambake, we combined the remaining broth with the lobster shells, more water, and a chopped up onion, and simmered it for a few hours. Then we stored the results in the fridge until we had an afternoon free to cook.
(adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/lobster-bisque-recipe/index.html)
Broth from a clambake (water from steaming, lobster shells, water, and an onion, simmered for a few hours)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp unsalted butter
Greens from 2 leeks
1 roughly chopped onion
4 peeled and chopped red potatoes
6 sprigs fresh thyme
4 strips orange zest
2 tbsp tomato paste
¼ cup cognac
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups heavy cream
Dispatch the lobster by plunging a sharp knife directly behind its head. Cut the lobster in half lengthwise. Remove the claws and tail pieces and set aside. Remove the head sac and liver and discard them; cut the body into pieces.
(A bit of a warning – the lobster was still squirming long after the above steps. Not for the faint of heart.)
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and melt the butter in it. Add the chopped lobster body and head, the leek greens, onion, thyme, orange zest and the tomato paste. Cook until the shells are red and the vegetables are soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and carefully pour in the cognac. Ignite the cognac with a long kitchen match and let the alcohol burn off. Return to the heat, sprinkle in the flour, stir, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add broth to cover and stir up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Immediately decrease the heat and gently simmer until the soup is reduced and thickened, about 30 to 45 minutes. Strain this into a clean pot and season with salt and pepper if needed. Fish out the cooked potato and mash into broth to thicken further.
Lobster claws and tail
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
Whites from 2 leeks, finely chopped
2 sprigs thyme
1 tsp orange zest
¼ cup cognac
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat the olive oil and butter in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, thyme, and orange zest along with the some freshly ground pepper and let this mixture cook for about 5 minutes. Add the lobster claws and tail; toss to coat with the fat and flavors. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour in the cognac. Ignite the cognac with a long kitchen match and let the alcohol burn off. Put the pan into the oven and roast until the lobster pieces are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the lobster pieces and set aside. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the lobster meat from the claws and tails. Chop the meat roughly and add it to the strained bisque. Reheat the soup if needed and enjoy!
We served with goat cheese and cucumber sandwiches made with fresh made-that day goat cheese from the farmer’s market!