when sam isn't around, i am really, really lazy about cooking. what's my favorite thing in the world becomes something of a chore when there is no one exclaiming over how delicious the pasta is or how well this flavor pairs with that. a night home alone is usually a night of chinese takeout or cereal for dinner. i didn't have plans for anything grand when i came home last night - i carried my wedding dress, fresh from the tailor, all the way home on the subway, then stopped to pick up some dry cleaning (that i'd literally dropped of last november. the lady at the shop laughed in my face) and struggled to open the door to find a pile of mail and a big box from crate and barrel. i teetered up the stairs and barely managed to open the door without dropping everything; finally inside, i dumped everything on the couch and attacked the crate and barrel box with my keys. and voila.
new dishes. after my kvetching on sunday, i could hardly believe my luck - my sweet sister's mother-in-law, kathy, either read my mind or just happened to order the very things i wanted most of my registry. i texted sam "MOST EXCITING NEWS EVER," resolved to scrub up my kitchen and head to the grocery store so that i could get some ingredients to break these plates in with the tastiness they deserve.
lobster strawberry risotto. i took my inspiration from a couple of places - one of my favorite cookbooks includes a peach and pancetta risotto that is absolutely to die for, and i worked at a sushi restaurant when i lived in chicago that made a lobster strawberry maki special in the summer months. i had to deal with frozen lobster tail, which isn't ideal, but i have to say this was damn delicious.
lobster strawberry risotto
prep time: about 30 minutes
serves: 2 (or one pastry chef who eats like renee zellwegger preparing for her role as bridget jones.)
1 frozen lobster tail (or two if you'd like it to me a little more lobster-y)
1/2 tiny yellow onion, diced
about 1 cup of strawberries, cut into small cubes
1 T butter
3/4 cup of arborio rice
~ 1 1/4 cups of chicken stock
~ 3/4 cup of dry white wine
a few sprigs of thyme
1/4 t white pepper
1/2 t ground fennel
2 T marscarpone cheese
so. if you decide to make this more than an hour in advance, thaw out your lobster tail in the fridge the night before. much easier than what i had to do here. and just skip this step if you do. if not, get a pot with a little water and put a steaming basket in there; steam the lobster for just 3 minutes or so - you just want it to be thawed and easy to remove from the shell, not cooked at all, if possible. take it out and let it cool off a minute, then use some kitchen shears to cut the shell of the thing; rinse it, and chop it into bite-sized pieces.
start your butter in a good sized saucepan. once it's sizzling, turn the heat down to medium low and add your onion; toss it around until it starts to be transparent, then add your lobster for like 30 seconds, then your rice. mix this around the pot to keep it from sticking for a couple of minutes, then add half of the wine and half the chicken stock, turn it to low, and let it simmer, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking.
once most of the liquid has been absorbed, add the thyme, the fennel, and more chicken stock & wine. basically, just keep tasting and adding until it comes to the texture you want. make sure you keep it on low heat all the while. once the liquid is gone and the rice is nice and creamy but al dente, remove it from the heat, stir in the marscarpone cheese and the strawberries, and serve.
i also threw together a little side dish, just to ensure that i dirtied every new porringer. i am a hollandaise freak - i would eat a bowl for breakfast if i could - but every recipe i find makes way too much for one person. i thought i'd toast up some bread, grill some asparagus, and make my own recipe for solo hollandaise.
hollandaise sauce for one
1 egg yolk
2 T butter, divided
about 1/2 t lemon juice (1 quick squeeze of a lemon)
a dash of paprika & salt
in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, start 1T butter melting on the absolute lowest heat you can manage. once melted, stir in the yolk and whisk whisk whisk whisk whisk; add the other tablespoon of butter and whisk and whisk until melted. squeeze in your lemon juice and continue to stir; sauce is done when you can coat the back of a spoon and drag your finger through it and it stays put. nice and thick. add your paprika and salt and serve. they key to this is really to cook it on the lowest setting possible - if your butter is bubbling at all, your egg will cook up as soon as you add it and it's no good. slow and low, that is the tempo.
all right. i actually like my outfit but didn't get out of the shower in time for any outfit pics this am - more from me later!
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