Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lobster Alexander

After three weeks actually being in the Berkshires I had my first dinner party.  Old friends Tom and his daughter Cathy came over. All you readers (all 3 of you) will remember them from last summer and the summer before. Tom is a retired artist and Cathy is a lawyer for a conservation organization. I looked at the clam recipes but they all either contained milk or cream (not good for Cathy) or flour crusts, (not good for me). Ditto with the other lobster recipes. So Lobster Alexander it was. Who Alexander was, I cannot tell you. Google, my constant source for news about things I don't know about, has nothing on the subject.
Anyway, it's chilled lobster, an excellent choice for a muggy evening where the weather forecasters were threatening all kinds of dire events such as wind shear, tornadoes, wind tunnels (or funnels) and hail. As it turned out, we got about 15 minutes of light rain around 8:00 pm and that was it. Elmira, N.Y. , on the other hand, was pretty well flattened.
I was going to boil the lobsters at Mrs. Curtisses' well-equipped kitchen because I don't have a pot big enough to accommodate them. Then, I got into a chat with the fish man at Big Y in Great Barrington,  about killing the things, and he offered to steam them for me. Yeah, fish man. (His advice for killing lobsters was to put them in the freezer for 15 minutes before you steam them. "They're cold blooded animals," he said. "Their metabolism slows down in the cold, so you don't get that tap, tap, tap on the inside of the pot."
So I cruised around Big Y for twenty minutes buying things I needed like eggs and things I didn't need like a big bag of Kettle Cooked Potato Chips. I remembered the New York Times and checked out. I was about a mile from the store when I realized I hadn't bought corn starch, an essential ingredient of the dessert.  So, I pulled into a side road, turned around and went back for it, reminding myself to be grateful I had remembered it on the way home, not at 3:00 when I was in the middle of making the dessert.
I spent a couple of hours at Mrs. Curtisses' making the dessert and finally knuckled down to the main course around 5:30. Lobster Alexander is essentially cold lobster with kind of a salad dressing. It calls for hard boiled eggs, which I had cleverly remembered to hard boil the night before. When I was reading it, it seemed like one of those recipes where you are supposed to make something liquid, or quasi-liquid out of solid ingredients and a very small amount of liquid. but it actually ended up
all right.
I have had enough experience with lobsters to be able to disembowel them in fairly short order. I cut off the tail and wrenched it open with my bare hands, my only sharp knife not really suited to the purpose. Then I yanked off the claws and cracked them with the lobster cracker (or possibly nut cracker) that came with the apartment. The rest of it went into the trash to be removed the next morning. Lobster remains stink big time.
I arranged the slices of lobster on a bed of lettuce on the platter provided in the apartment, and put the sauce in an actual sauce boat which I suspect came from my ancestral home. It was well received.

Lobster Alexander

1 large or two small lobsters (I got two two-pound lobsters for three people. It was adequate, but not lavish)
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon freshly chopped fresh chervil (optional)  (I left out the chervil. I figured it was enough to have $10 worth of fresh herbs in my refrigerator which would probably be chucked out in a week or so. I didn't need $14 worth. )
2 hard cooked egg yolks
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon wine vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar. It was fine.)
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Madeira wine (I left this out too. There is a limit to the amount of arcane gourmet ingredients I am willing to accumulate in Massachusetts.)

1. Remove the lobster meat from the tail and claws. Slice the tail meat and arrange it on a platter. Add the claw meat left whole.
2. Blend the tarragon, parsley, chives and chervil if desired in a mixing bowl. Add the egg yolks and mash them thoroughly with a fork. Add salt, pepper, the mustard, vinegar and Worcestershire. Blend thoroughly with a wire whisk.
3 While beating the a whisk, gradually add the oil to sauce. Stir constantly until sauce is like a mayonnaise. (Now I did not achieve this. My sauce was like salad dressing. I suspect if you really want mayonnaise you should use an electric blender.) Add the Madeira and spoon a little sauce onto each piece of lobster.
Serves 3 people.

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