Monday, June 24, 2013

Lobster Anniversary Dinner

Yesterday I went to book club with my ladies, and after a few hours of catching up with everyone, I left to run a few errands, including grocery shopping for this week.  The sky was dark and overcast, and I could hear the distant rumble of thunder.  I love a good thunderstorm when I get to be warm and dry inside, but just as I found a parking spot at the grocery store, the rain started pouring down, and there was no avoiding getting wet as I hurried into the store.

When I got home, Jamie helped me carry the groceries upstairs, and we started dinner - grilled shrimp, bell peppers and onions.  And when I stepped out onto the balcony to turn on the grill, I was pleasantly surprised to find that he had cleaned up the mess left behind from those pesky pigeons that had nested and hatched their eggs in one of my flower pots this spring.  I had been planning to throw everything out, because I didn't want to deal with cleaning up pigeon poop, but he had scrubbed and scraped it all clean for me while I was out, flower pots, rocks, plant stands and all.  He's so sweet.

Besides the clean balcony, the laundry, dusting and vacuuming were all done, the kitchen was clean, the clutter put away, and a bottle of wine was chilling in the fridge, so we could just relax and enjoy dinner with the rain pouring down outside.  These thoughtful things he does for me, these little gestures, are just a few of the many things about him that I love and appreciate.

We just celebrated our Four Year Anniversary (the anniversary of our first date, and the first time we met), with dinner at Beatrice and Woodsley.  The bathrooms there are odd, but the wine was fantastic; I drank white, he drank red.  They bring the wine out in small bottles with a tag you can take with you to remember the wine and look it up later.

To start, we shared a savory apple tart with arugula salad, and hot crawfish beignets...  where have beignets been all my life?  The beignets came with a wonderful red pepper aioli we both loved.  For dinner, he ordered the duck breast (not bad, but not the best we've had) and I ordered the bison strip loin (very tender and succulent) with smoked potatoes.  And for dessert we shared the chocolate cake, with port for him and French press coffee for me.

Quite a decadent dinner for a Tuesday night.  And in spite of the late night coffee, I slept soundly, happy and full of thoughts of the past four amazing years together.

We also wanted to cook a special anniversary dinner together the following weekend, and our menu was ambitious, with a dish inspired by the beignets we ate that evening...

It's hard to pick a favorite dish from this dinner, because it was all so delicious together.  We started with a warm, roasted vegetable salad which tasted so good, I could have just eaten more of that and been perfectly satisfied.  Then Jamie fried a batch of light and crispy beignets, filled with a creamy crab filling.  The ones we ate at the restaurant had less filling and more batter, but this recipe by Bon Appetit was generous with the filling, which I loved.  Jamie recreated the spicy red pepper aioli, and it was fantastic with the beignets.

Then there was lobster...  We found a place that sells live lobsters, Cherry Crest Seafood Market, and Jamie brought two of them home in a cooler.  When it came time to do the dirty deed, though, I was too squeamish, so it was all up to him.  We steamed the lobsters until they were bright red and then brushed them with melted butter, and the meat was so sweet and tender.  I've never had a whole lobster to myself, and it was a really special treat.

It was the first time either of us had cooked lobster, and while it wasn't easy to look my dinner in the eye before ending its life, it was an interesting experience, not to mention much less expensive than ordering lobster in a restaurant.  So, would I do it again...?  Yes, definitely, but I still might need Jamie to do the hard part, because I'm not sure I can.

For dessert, I made a cake I knew he would adore - dark chocolate cake which I soaked with bourbon caramel, frosted with slightly salted chocolate buttercream, and garnished with crunchy toffee.  The cake was incredibly moist and rich, with just enough bourbon, and he couldn't say enough about it.  Usually I just get "it's really good!" - so I love when he goes into detail describing what he likes about something, the first being that I should sell this cake in a restaurant.

He loved it so much, in fact, that he had no inclination to take any of it to work, so he ate a piece of it every night that week until it was gone.  This cake really put all other cakes I've ever made to shame.

The next day, on Sunday, I simmered the lobster shells with onions, garlic and pink peppercorns to make lobster stock, and the aroma of sweet lobster filled the house again.

One Year Ago:    Savory Muffins with Bacon, Egg, Cheese and Potato
Two Years AgoGooey S'mores Brownies

Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Salad with Crispy Prosciutto and Goat Cheese
printable recipe
  • 20 asparagus spears
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 thick slices of baguette, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 slices prosciutto, torn into pieces
  • fresh basil leaves
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with foil.  Place the asparagus, tomatoes, shallots and bread in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for about 15 minutes, watching the bread to make sure it doesn't over-brown.

Meanwhile, crisp up the prosciutto in a little olive oil in a skillet over medium heat (you may be able to crisp up the prosciutto in the oven along with the vegetables - I didn't think of that until after, but I don't see why it wouldn't work).

Divide the warm vegetables, bread and prosciutto between 4 serving bowls.  Top with fresh basil and goat cheese.  Serve immediately.

Yields 4 servings.

Recipe adapted from Burrata and Roasted Asparagus Salad by Foodie Crush

Crab Beignets by Bon Appetit

Spicy Red Pepper Aioli
printable recipe
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 small red fresno pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
Turn the broiler on to 400.  Place the peppers on a baking sheet and broil until the skin is charred, turning them as needed.  Let cool, then peel off the skins, and discard the seeds and stems.

In a food processor, combine the roasted peppers with the remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth and creamy, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Chill until ready to serve.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Smashed Crispy Baby Potatoes
printable recipe

  • 12 baby potatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic
  • other toppings, such as cheese, sour cream and chives

Place the potatoes in a stock pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then boil over medium high heat for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are tender enough to pierce with a fork.  Drain and cool slightly (this step can also be done a day in advance, and the cooked potatoes stored in the refrigerator).

Preheat the oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with foil.  Using the back of a wooden spoon, gently press down on each potato to flatten it out and break it apart a little.  Place the smashed potatoes on the baking sheet.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil, and season with salt, pepper and garlic.  I think I added a little cayenne pepper, too.

Roast for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.  If desired, top with cheese, sour cream and chives, or just serve as is.

Yields 4 servings.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Bourbon Caramel Soaked Dark Chocolate Cake - coming in my next post...

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