Sunday, April 22, 2012

Lobster Canapes


My husband's church had scheduled one of its small potluck dinners for Friday. These gatherings feature about eight to twelve people, singles and couples, gays and straights, who try to get together once a month for dinner. They are usually extremely interesting and the food is always great. Of course, you know where I am going with this. They are an opportunity to serve shellfish. I had been hearing about it for a couple of weeks, but it was unclear what we were supposed to bring. Each household unit is assigned either salad, dessert, hors d'oeuvres, veggie or starch. The hosts cook the main course.
Various possibilities crossed my mind. If dessert wasn't taken, I could make the last non Passover cheesecake. I could make a cabbage salad. Finally, Tuesday or Wednesday, my husband told me it was hors d'oeuvres. Ah ha, thought I. Lobster canapes.
I seem to run hot and cold with this project. Some months I am full of energy and crank out many dishes. Other months, I couldn't care less. Well, this month, I caught a spurtof energy after the two dinner parties, and am now mentally trying to figure out where and when I could make and serve various dishes.
 On Thursday, my husband volunteered to go buy the lobster at the Fishery, our local seafood store on Connecticut Avenue. True to form, the employee tried to sell him two lobsters, even though he said  firmly he only needed a cup and a half of lobster meat. When he realized that two lobsters would cost $88, he said no, one lobster, and the guy picked out what must have been the largest lobster in the tank, a gigantic, alien looking creature so big it was hard to pick up.
My husband took the thing home and deposited it in the refrigerator, where it remained alive until around 10:00 pm, when I came staggering up bleary-eyed from the basement, having attempted to write my comments for the third advisory and failed in the attempt. I put my largest pot on the stove and began to boil water to cook the thing. After about 15 minutes of The Big Bang Theory, a show on Comedy Central about a bunch of scientists who live together, the water was boiling and I went to deposit lobster into the pot.
It was still alive, waving its tentacles and moving its beady little eyes around. I guess I would rather drop a living being into boiling water than stab it to death and watch it flail about in its death throws, but it's not my favorite activity.
Lobster went into the pot reasonably compliantly, not reaching out to grab the sides of the pot as my first lobster did. That lobster also crawled around the floor of the kitchen. I dredged it out after 15 minutes more of socially dysfunctional scientists, and put it in the sink to run cold water on it, which Joy of Cooking says retards the cooking process. Joy says to cook the average lobster for 20 minutes. Boil it for five, and then simmer it for 15. Good old New York Times Heritage Cookbook just assumes you know this stuff.
Then I went to bed, after sticking the wet cooked lobster onto a platter in the refrigerator.
At 5:30 the next morning, I was up and prepared to deal with the lobster. I get up at 5:00 am most days to write lesson plans for the daily read aloud, or concoct phonics lessons for the aw sound or whathaveyou. Friday, I kept my pyjamas on in order to deal with the lobster and not get lobster juice all over my school clothes.
This lobster was a tough old thing, at least his shell was. I had to smack it many times with the meat mallet to crack the claws. Finally the meat was deposited in a container and placed in the refrigerator, and the lobster shell was dispatched to the alley. (Do not just chuck your lobster shells in your trash can and wait until it fills up. Lobster shells stink.) Then I went to work.
At lunchtime, I had planned to run out and get both Parmesan cheese, which I needed and sherry. Then, I realized I left my purse upstairs. I did have $10 in my pocket, enough to get the Parmesan cheese, but not the sherry. I actually drink sherry, a legacy of my trip to Europe in 1973 when I spent a lot of time in bars drinking sherry and eating free tapas. So I wasn't going to get cooking sherry. I drink Dry Sack, which costs around $20 a bottle.
I left school at 5:00 pm and, after eluding the truly amazing traffic on 11th Street, got home around 5:45. The hosts of the potluck had left precise instructions that the person with the hors d'oeurves was to be there at 7:00. One of the other guests was picking me up at 6:30. I deposited the dog outside and informed him I would be unable to walk him and began to mix everything up and put all the other hors d'oeurves in a shopping bag.  While lobster anything sounds grand, it is not difficult, and I had everything ready by 6:15 so I had time to call the stable about the horse who is lame.
At the potluck, a truly wonderful 1911 house in Adams Morgan, I put the lobster mix on the toast bits and slid them into the oven. There was enough for a second round, but I just kept it in its bowl. The guests raved about the canapes and ate them all up.   When we got home around 10:30 son, daughter in law, daughter, and daughter's friend Bethany were all there having a cookout. They ate the rest of the canapes, especially prepared for them.
When I asked my son if they would like left over lobster, he made claws and did a lobster dance.

Lobster Canapes

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups cooked lobster meat, finely chopped
48 one-and-one-half-inch to two-inch rounds toasted bread (These can be bought at Whole Foods and are called mini toasts.)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cream the butter and cheese together. Stir in the egg yolk, sherry, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce. Add the lobster and mix well.
3. Place a spoonful of the lobster mixture on each toast round. Place on a baking sheet and bake five minutes.  Makes 48.




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