Lobster Chartreuse – from my Paris balcony

 

Lobster

It’s not easy photographing food inside a small Paris apartment. I don’t have the advantage of the large expanse of light coming in from my living room window in Australia. There’s just a small kitchen window here next to my work bench and when the sun passes over this area, I then walk 15 steps to the other side of the apartment to catch the light from my little front balcony. So it’s here that I photographed my next dish Lobster Chartreuse.

This recipe is an adaptation from a dish we learned during the advanced course at the Paris Le Cordon Bleu school. We weren’t told why it is called ‘Lobster Chartreuse’. Chartreuse is the name of a liqueur, however we didn’t use any of that in the recipe. Anyway, it’s a catchy name, so let’s just leave it at that.

This recipe pairs freshly cooked lobster and a rich sauce with fresh fruit and candied orange and lemon peel.  It appeals to most of the senses: visual, smell and most of all, taste- so you can have it all!

I used fresh lobster that I bought from my local Paris fish monger, but you can use already prepared lobster meat. The recipe is a bit fiddly, requiring making a fresh sauce and then assembling the carrot and radish pieces inside the ring mold. But, if you want to impress your guests or family on a special occasion, this is it! 

LOBSTER CHARTREUSE

Ingredients

  • 1 Lobster (live or fresh)
  • 1 large leek (white part)
  • 1 long daikon radish or 2 smaller round ones
  • 2 carrots
  • softened butter for the ring molds

For the Mousse stuffing

  • 60 g white fish meat (raw)
  • 1 egg white
  • 60 ml cream
  • salt/pepper

For the candied orange and lemon peel

  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • syrup

Lobster Sauce

  • shells from the lobster
  • green part of the leek, chopped
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • tomato paste
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 100 ml white wine
  • 150 ml fish or chicken stock
  • salt/pepper

Garnish

  • 100 g baby spinach leaves
  • candied orange and lemon peel

Directions

  • Prepare the lobster: there are several ways to ‘terminate’ a lobster, but I used a large knife to cut through its head. Separate the head from the body and then separate the large claws from the body. Place the body and claws in boiling water; cook the body for about 5 minutes and the large claws for about 7 minutes. Remove from the water and let cool.
  • Remove the meat from the body and tail section by turning it over and cutting through the lobster’s ‘underbelly’ using kitchen scissors and then removing the meat.

Cut through ‘underbelly’ of lobster to remove the meat

Lobster (3 of 3) (1 of 1)

  • To remove the meat from the large claws, some people advise cracking them open using the back of a large knife. This didn’t work for me since the claws were very thick and hard. Instead I cracked them open by using a medium-sized rock from the garden (smashing down on the claws). My husband gave me this brilliant idea, I was at a loss of what to do next!
  • Prepare the lobster sauce: chop up the green leafy part of a leek, then dice 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 onion and 1 tomato. Add these ingredients to a pan with hot oil, then add the lobster shells. Lower the heat and stir until the vegetables are soft. Add the tomato paste, white wine and fish (or chicken) stock. Let simmer for at least 20 minutes. Strain through a sieve and then reduce the sauce to about 50% of its previous volume.

 Add the lobster shells to a pan with the vegetables, wine and tomato pasteLobster 4 of 4) (1 of 1)

  •  Prepare the candied orange and lemon peel: cut the orange and lemon peel into very fine julienne slices. Bring to boil 1 cup water with 3/4 sugar to form a syrup. Cook the orange and lemon peel in the syrup until they become soft and candied.
  • Prepare the mousse stuffing: place the raw white fish (I used whiting) into a blender, along with the egg white, salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth then add the cream. The stuffing should hold together like a smooth paste.
  • Slice the white part of a leek into thin circles about 1/4 inch wide. Place them in a single layer into a pan with a little butter and water. Cook them over low heat for several minutes until they are softened.
  • Slice the carrots and daikon radish into thin strips about 1/2 inch wide and the height of your ring mold. Cook in simmering, salted water until the veggies are cooked ‘al dente’- with a bit of a crunch still remaining in the texture.
  • Assemble the ingredients in the ring mold: butter the inside of your ring mold with softened butter. Place the mold on top of a piece of plastic wrap and then cut a circle of baking paper to fit the bottom of your mold. Place the carrot and radish strips vertically inside the mold, alternating between the two and overlapping the strips. Bring the plastic wrap to fit up over the sides of the mold. You will be placing this mold into a warm water bath (bain marie) to cook the lobster chartreuse.

  Alternate the carrot and daikon radish strips inside the ring mold

  • First, place a layer of the cooked white leek circles on the bottom of the mold, then add a layer of the mousse stuffing, followed by a layer of loose lobster meat (retain the meat of the lobster tail and claws to decorate the plate). Add a bit of the reduced lobster sauce the repeat the whole process.

Layer the inside of the ring mold with white leeks, mousse stuffing and lobster meat.

  • Finish with a thin layer of the mousse stuffing on top. Bake in a bain marie 180 C (360 F) for about 15-20 minutes until the top part of the mold becomes firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool for several minutes and release the lobster chartreuse from the  ring mold.

Finish with a layer of mousse stuffing on top- place in bain marie to cook in oven

  • To plate the dish, add a layer of cooked baby spinach on the plate. Place the ring mold on top of the spinach and gently remove it. Place some of the candied orange and lemon pieces on top, lay the meat from the lobster body and claw on the side of the plate. Place a few orange slices on the side and arrange some of the reduced sauce around the lobster pieces.

 Lobster

 

 

 

 

My Paris- Quail stuffed with shitake mushrooms with sweetbreads and glazed onions

 

Quail

DANS LE FOUR, MADAME- DANS LE FOUR!” the French Chef shouted at me during my class at the Paris Cordon Bleu School. We were making ‘Quail stuffed with shitake mushrooms with veal sweetbreads and glazed pearl onions.’ I was late in putting my quail in the oven to cook and the supervising chef was telling me to hurry up and put it in the oven (le four) to cook.

But who could blame me for being late when we had so many steps to complete for this dish! First, we had to de-bone a quail, which almost required the skill of a micro-surgeon. Have you seen how tiny a quail is?

A lot of poultry in France is sold with the head of the bird still attached to the body, so the customer can readily see what kind of bird you are buying. So my quail arrived at my work station with its head still in tact. I stroked the feathers of the head and they felt so soft, compared to the rest of the body. I hesitated, almost not wanting to wake up this ‘sleeping bird.’

Awwww!

Quail 2 of 2) (1 of 1)

After removing the head, we cut out a small hole in the backside of the quail and pulled out the heart, liver and all of the other insides and then removed the ‘wishbone’ (if you can find it). Then taking a paring knife, we delicately reached inside the quail and scraped the meat away from the bones, without tearing the skin. This was not an easy feat, but my mission was accomplished- at the end, my quail looked like a tiny ‘quail suit,’ empty of its bones (except the leg bones, which were left in).

De-boned Quail – ready to be stuffed

Quail 3 of 3) (1 of 1)

We then trussed the bird using a 10 inch long trussing needle- it seemed rather ridiculous using such a large needle to truss such a small bird, but we’re all here at Le Cordon Bleu to learn new techniques, right?

The final dish included the quail stuffed with diced shitake mushrooms and chicken livers and also veal sweetbreads cooked in a delicious braising liquid. This braising liquid included a mirepoix of diced carrots, celery and onions, red wine, veal stock and was also flavoured with the quail bones. Sweetbreads (ris de veau) are made from an animal’s pancreas or thymus glands. I’m usually not fond of organ meat, but this tasted delicious when served with the sauce made from the reduced braising liquid.

Sweetbreads – from animal’s pancreas or thymus glands

SweetbreadsAnd what was the overall verdict for this dish? I usually don’t care for quail too much, since there is not very much meat on this bird. However, the shitake mushroom and chicken liver stuffing ‘plumped up’ the quail nicely and added a delicious texture to the dish. Yes, I’ll be trying this dish again one day, but next time I’ll be sure to put the quail earlier dans le four!

You can also serve the quail cut in half to reveal the stuffing

Quail (4 of 4) (1 of 1)

 P.S. Please also refer to my post Julia Child’s Boned Duck Baked in Pastry.