Friday, February 22, 2013

Lobster Roll Party!

Lobster Party! It's become a bit of a tradition with some of my friends to do a luxurious lobster roll dinner around the Christmas period - one brings the lobster (and other fab accompaniments), another brings his mad professional cooking skills, and we host!

Lobster roll

A Lobster Roll Dinner for 5 

Dips, bread, crackers, olive oil and dukkah 
Lobster Salad in Challah with potato chips and cornichons
Boiled Corn 
Pomegranate and Raspberry "Eton Mess"


When I blogged our last lobster roll party, I mentioned that I was still working towards my ultimate lobster roll - and now I've got it exactly the way I want it. Yay! Full recipe for the lobster roll is at the bottom of this post. The main differences were that I used a mixture of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt for the lobster salad (mayonnaise alone is too oily), and instead of heavy, dense brioche, I used light and fluffy challah for the rolls. (Totally sacri-licious, I know!)

Plaited loaf

I actually baked my own challah for the recipe - the party was on a Saturday night and obviously all the Jewish bakeries were closed that day. I had high hopes for finding a Glick's loaf at my local supermarket, but they were all sold out. Oh well, there was nothing to do but get baking! I used the challah recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which was quite easy and turned out really well! I probably need to work on my plaiting skills, but I reckon it looked pretty good for a first attempt!

Plaited, glazed challah

Sometimes I have issues with undercooking bread, but Deb's tip of using a meat thermometer took all the guess work out of it.

Baked challah

Super fluffy!

Last year we served Christmas pudding for dessert, but I was in the mood for something light, so I went for a kind of Eton Mess - crushed meringues folded through whipped cream, raspberries and pomegranate seeds. I always have a stash of egg whites in my freezer, so this was quite easy to make.

Meringues before baking

Meringues
Seeing as this was a collaborative affair, I didn't have much to do that day once the challah was baked and the meringues were made!

Here are some fab dips, breads and dukkah that one of my friends brought to nibble on while we prepared the lobster! (N.B. the olive oil was a lovely peppery frantoio from Chapman Hill that I was gifted at a launch dinner a little while back).

Dips, Dukkah, Bread, Olive oil (and bizarrely, meringues)

Let's have a look at the poaching of the lobster tail - all lobster-poaching tips have been poached (hah!) from my qualified-chef friend Adrian.

You'll note that there's a chopstick in the lobster - you insert this to prevent the tail from curling up when cooked, and you can use it to test if the lobster is cooked. (Pull the skewer out - if it's cold, the lobster needs to be cooked more, if it's warm, you're done!)
Lobster tail
To add extra flavour, we poached the tail in a simple court bouillon, rather than plain boiling water. We added vegetable stock powder (I did say "simple"!), black peppercorns, some bay leaves and a peeled and chopped carrot to the poaching liquid. I'm sure you could use onions or celery as well, if you had them to hand.

Another tip is to hold the thick end in the simmering water for a minute before dropping the whole tail in - as this will help it to cook evenly. Use tongs if you have delicate hands!
Poaching the lobster tail
And cooked!
Cooked lobster tail
The parts of the lobster meat not protected by shell will tend to get a bit dry (obviously using a whole lobster would alleviate this problem, but it's more difficult to prepare), and we were all hungry, so we were glad to take Adrian's suggestion of slicing off the dry meat and snacking on it, drizzled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Tasty times!
Lobster offcuts

Lobster salad, pre-mayo/yogurt
Aaah... lobster salad. (I bet Ina Garten would approve!)
Lobster salad!
And here's dinner!
Lobster roll party
Accompaniments were boiled corn (which we loved), lettuce (which no-one paid any attention to), potato chips and cornichons. Perfect! (The keener-eyed among you will notice that our resident seafood-avoider had a roast chicken that night).

Lobster roll
I guess you could really assemble these any way you like, but I rather liked making pockets with the challah and wodging the salad in. (Rather like my Apple Donut French Toast, come to think of it!)


Fluffy and bread, generously filled with big chunks of tender lobster meat in a slightly piquant creamy dressing? Super yum town. I know that lobster rolls are soooo two years ago, but who cares? These taste magnificent!

After a while, we adjourned to the living room for dessert. Although I prefer Eton Mess prepared à la minute so the meringues stay crisp, it's still a super-easy option for entertaining! It literally took three minutes to whip the cream, crush in the meringues and fold through the fruit. (Even easier if you buy the meringues!) And I thought it was quite a nice idea to scoop it out for my friends.
Pomegranate and Raspberry "Eton Mess"
I hadn't served desserts in martini glasses since my Sarah Discovers How to Eat project, and I forgot just how cute it is! Must remember to do this more often.

Raspberry and Pomegranate "Eton Mess"


What are your favourite extravagant ingredients? Do you prefer brioche or challah?

Lobster Rolls
Lobster salad recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller

Ingredients
1 large lobster tail
1 loaf of challah (I used Smitten Kitchen's recipe)
Cornichons, to serve
Potato chips/crisps, to serve
For the poaching liquid:
Vegetable stock powder, peppercorns, bay leaves, 1 carrot (peeled & roughly chopped)
For the lobster salad:
1 celery stalk, finely sliced
2 teaspoons finely chopped chives, plus extra to serve
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
The zest of half a lemon
2.5 teaspoons Sriracha chilli sauce
2.5 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, crushed

Method
Make the lobster salad by stirring all the ingredients together. (This can be done hours in advance and kept in the refrigerator - only add the celery and chives just before serving).
Stick two wooden skewers through the lobster tail to prevent it from curling up during cooking.
Get a large pot and fill it with water. Make a simple court bouillon by adding the carrot, vegetable stock, peppercorns, bay leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice. Bring to the boil, add the lobster tail and reduce the heat to low. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until just cooked through. (Test by pulling out one of the skewers - it should be warm on the inside and not cold). Set aside to cool.
When it's cool enough to handle, remove the shell and chop the meat into rough cubes. If the end pieces are a little dry (i.e. the parts of the lobster meat that weren't protected by shell during cooking), simply cut them off and eat them drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook's treat!
Stir the remaining lobster pieces through the salad mix and garnish with extra chives.
Serve the lobster salad wodged into challah, with potato chips and cornichons.
Serves 5-6 lucky people

3 comments:

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

It looks quite good indeed! I think that soft breads are great for lobster roll as harder ones really take away from the texture of lobster :)

Daisy@Nevertoosweet said...

I loveeeeee all your homecooked dishes and now a lobster roll party!!! That's super yummm :D Totally reminds me of Burger and Lobster in London hehe

Alaina said...

Still dreaming of that dinner...