Easy Tyropitakia in a Pan

IMG_0691While here in Greece, many leave the city for their ancestral town/village or they head to their summer homes/vacation spot. It could be the mountains or in my family’s case, our summer home in Halkidiki.

Greeks like to socialize and most of the time you can find Greeks going for a walk (volta) or hang around the plateia (main square). For us who are lucky enough to spend time by the sea, the beach and time in the water becomes the town square – catching up on news of family and friends, politics and thankfully – food and recipes.

Our neighbor, kuria Nitsa dropped off these tyropitakia – no phyllo but crisp on the outside, light and airy inside and oozing with Feta goodness. Before I could finish the first piece and ran to her and asked for the recipe.

Getting recipes from “noikokoires” or housewives isn’t easy. It’s not that that they don’t want to give the recipe but that they simply don’t have a written recipe. These ladies cook by feel, instinct.

After a couple of tries, I’ve mastered the recipe which basically is coarsely crumbled Feta cheese, some fresh chopped mint, salt, pepper and flour. There is a little baking powder in there for adding lift and I like to use cold Souroti sparkling water to make a tight batter.

All one has to do is mix in a bowl, add 1/2 inch olive oil in a deep skillet and place tablespoon-fuls of batter in the oil and fry for a minute a side or until golden.IMG_0673

Easy Tyropitakia in a Pan

(makes 10-12)

1 cup of crumbled Feta cheese (try to use a firmer variety)

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint

1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

approx. 1 cup of cold sparkling water

olive oil for frying

honey for garnish

  1. Into a bowl, add the Feta, mint, salt, pepper flour and baking powder and gently toss until incorporated.
  2. Slowly add the water while stirring with a spoon until you have a thick batter, but loose enough to still just slide off the spoon.
  3. Add about 1/2 inch of oil into a deep skillet and bring up to approx. 350F. Take a rounded tablespoon of the batter and gently drop into the hot oil (slide the batter off with your finger).
  4. Fry for a minute or so or until crisp and golden then flip. Reserve on a paper-lined platter and fry off the remaining batter.
  5. Serve warm/room temperature with some drizzled honey as part of a breakfast or meze offering.IMG_0683

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Kserotigana from Crete

IMG_5639Last month I cooked (and hosted) a Cretan dinner as part of my Greek Supper Club events and the dessert I chose was a Cretan specialty called Kserotigana. The dough is similar to Laconian diples but they look a little different.

Diples are folded quickly in the hot oil with two forks and one has to practice this technique before becoming efficient in making tons of them. Kserotigana are not as hard as you twirl the dough around your fingers then stick a fork in the middle of the twirled dough then fry them.

Kserotigana take a little practice but they are easier to make and they are addictive…I could eat a whole plate! Much like Diples, Kserotigana are traditionally served at weddings but I think anytime is a good time.20140622_230905

Kserotigana from Crete (Ξεροτήγανα κρητικά)

(makes 24)

3 1/2  cups all purpose flour, sifted

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup Tsikoudia/Raki/Tsipouro (grappa)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup warm water

1 large egg

olive oil for frying

For the syrup

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

1 cinnamon stick

3-4 strips of lemon peel

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 cup honey

Walnut topping

1 cup coarsely ground walnuts

1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

  1. Into your stand mixer add your flour, salt, Tsikoudia, olive oil and water and mix using the paddle attachment until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky (add a bit of water if too dry and add flour if too wet).
  2. Divide into 6 pieces and roll into balls and cover well with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  3. Now take out your pasta maker. Take a ball of dough and dust it well with flour and flatten with a rolling pin. Pass through your pasta machine from the widest setting, fold in half and pass through again. Repeat as you decrease the increments on your machine until you’ve rolled out a thin pastry sheet that should be about 80cm and approx. 8-10 cm. width.
  4. Use a pastry wheel to cut in half lengthwise then cut again in half along the width (you should now have four sheets, each being about 40 cm X 4cm). Cover with a slightly dampened towel.
  5. Place a large, deep pot on your stovetop and add 3-4 inches of olive oil (no more than halfway filling your pot) and heat to 365F.
  6. Take a pastry sheet and wrap once around two fingers, second wrap around four fingers then press/stick the outer end into the rolled dough so that it doesn’t unravel when frying.
  7. While still holding the roll in one hand, stick a fork into the middle and once the oil is hot, place the roll downward with the fork and leave it stuck in the oil for 10 seconds then twist the fork a couple of turns then remove the fork. Fry until the dough turns to a light golden colour/
  8. Remove with a slotted spoon/spider and reserve on a paper lined  baking sheet. Roll out the remaining 5 balls of dough, cut as per step #4 and repeat making rolls and fry until all your dough balls have been formed and fried into Kserotigana.
  9. To make the syrup, add sugar, water, cinnamon stick and lemon peel and bring up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for another 6 minutes. Add the lemon juice and honey and take off the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  10. Arrange another large baking sheet with a wire rack on top. Now begin the process of dipping the Kserotigana in the hot syrup…use a slotted spoon to submerge/plunge and invert them. Allow the Kserotigana about 3 minutes in the syrup before removing to the wire rack. Repeat with remaining Kserotigana.
  11. Into a bowl, mix walnuts, sesame seeds and cinnamon and top Kserotigana with mixture. Serve warm or room temperature or cover with plastic wrap and keep in a cool, dry place for up to 3 days.IMG_5641

 

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Composed Shrimp Pasta With Yogurt Bechamel

IMG_0999Sometimes, you have guests that may need a little more attention  – could be a colleague, boss or a person you want to show some extra care when entertaining. Pasta is one of those dishes that you have to be careful when serving. Ever notice, they never served long pasta like spaghetti or linguine at weddings or banquets? That’s because it’s messy with all the twirling and sauce.

If pasta is served at a banquet/wedding, it will short or stuffed like a ravioli. This version of shrimp pasta uses hollow Misko brand pasta, the kind most of you know for using in Pastitsio - Greece’s answer to Lasagna.

All I’ve done here is snap the pasta in half, boil it and toss it in an aromatic tomato sauce with an anise accent – brought to you by fresh chopped tarragon. You could always use fennel fronds or a splash of Ouzo for the same effect. The shrimp are dressed in the same sauce and laid atop of the bed of pasta.

The final step in assembling this composed pasta dish is topping it with a tangy Bechamel, made in the classic way but with a refreshing addition of Greek yogurt to give the Bechamel some depth.IMG_0996

Composed Shrimp Pasta With Yogurt Bechamel

(serves 4)

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil + 1 Tbsp

16 medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1/2 cup finely diced onions

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. grated carrot

2 Tbsp. finely diced celery

1 small bay leaf

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 Tbsp. Kyknos tomato paste

1 1/2 cups hot seafood/chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon or fennel fronds

approx. 200 grams of Misko #5 pasta (or bucantini)

Yogurt Bechamel

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 Tbsp. all purpose flour

1 cup warm whole milk

salt to taste

pinch of fresh grated nutmeg (or Old Bay Seasoning)

1/4 cup strained (Greek style) yogurt)

  1. Toss your shrimp in 1 Tbsp. of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place your large skillet on your stovetop over high heat. Place the shrimp in the pan and saute for 20 seconds side or until pink on both sides. Reserve.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining olive oil, butter and add onions, garlic, carrot, celery and sweat for 5 minutes. Add bay leaf, wine, tomato paste and stir in, reduce the wine for 1 minute. Add the stock, bring up to a simmer and reduce for 15 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Add chopped fresh tarragon, stir in and reserve/keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, place a large pot of water on your stovetop and once aboil, season well with salt, snap your pasta in half and boil for 8 minutes, strain and reserve.
  4. To make your Yogurt Bechamel, place a small pot on your stovetop over medium heat, add the butter, olive oil and once the bubbling stops, add the flour and stir in and cook for a minute. Now gradually add your milk and continue to stir until thickened. Add salt to taste, pinch of nutmeg and stir in. Take off the heat and stir in the yogurt.
  5. Take 2-3 Tbsp. of tomato sauce and toss to coat the reserved shrimp. Add the reserved pasta and gently toss in the remaining tomato sauce. Divide the pasta and line up in rows on each plate. Divide and place shrimp on bed of pasta and spoons over some Yogurt Bechamel sauce.
  6. Serve with Kir Yianni Akakies Rose.

 

 

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Paximadia With Figs, Star Anise & Walnuts

I came up with this recipe after having an epiphany that I must once again have and enjoy the flavour combo of walnuts and figs in a recent salad with this same glorious pairing of walnuts and figs. In that post, encouraged you to place a walnut and dried fig in your mouth to prove my point. Today, I’m encouraging you to try these Paximadia with figs, walnuts and ground star anise.

You could call these biscotti but us Greeks call them Paximadia. Paximadia or dried rusks/breads which have been around since ancient times. Cookbook author Georgia Koufinas says that Paximadia used to be called “dipyros”, which means “twice baked’. The Greek word Paximadi can be traced to a barley rusk named after a late Hellenistic Period cook named Paxamus (1st Century AD). Paximadia were the food of the poor as they were made of coarse grain flours and kept well on long journeys thereby earning it’s place in the pantries of farmers and sailors. Paximadia were the basic food of Byzantine armies and later the Venetian armies. Italians call Paximadia “biscotti”, also meaning “twice baked”.

The third flavourful ingredient for these Paximadia is star anise. Reminiscent of anise but much more complex, exotic and wonderful with figs. Star anise is not a widely used spice in Greece but that’s not to say it’s not used at all either. At a tour/visit of the Tsantali Ouzo Distillery in Halkidiki and I learned that star anise was one of the ingredients used to make their Ouzo. Ouzo is made from grapes and stems so therefore it’s only fitting than some Petimezi sneaks into the recipe. Petimezi* is a grape molasses and I’ve diluted it here with some water and brushed the tops of the Paximadia with it so that the sesame seeds adhere well.

So, naturally a shot of Ouzo also made it’s way into this easy recipe. This recipe is wonderful for the Christmas holidays and holiday entertaining it’s in full stride and the almost potpourri aromas that fills your home while baking these will set you in the mood for Christmas. These are the perfect accompaniment for coffee or tea and I look forward to dunking a paximadi into my Greek coffee.

For the Paximadia With Figs, Star Anise & Walnuts recipe, please buy my Everything Mediterranean cookbook.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at  http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

© 2007-2010 Peter Minakis

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Nistisima Paximadia

Here I am, mid-week into the first week of Lent. The first day is the hardest and then each day it becomes easier and easier. One meal that’s a challenge is breakfast. I eat breakfast, rarely skip and when I do, I fell out or sorts – almost ill for the rest of the day. Eat your breakfast folks.

With breakfast options being restricted (no butter, no cream for coffee and no cheese or eggs, I leave the table in the morning a little hungry. Part of the solution are these Lenten (Nistisima) Paximadia. Paximadia are, a twice baked cookie that’s perfect for having with coffee.

I’ve been enjoying anew my Greek coffee (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) and a Paximadi or Kouloraki is always nice to have/serve with the coffee. These Paximadia are Lent-friendly in that there are no eggs or dairy…just flour, spices, sugar, and orange juice and zest and some white wine.

These Paximadia will not get you drunk but they will making fasting a little easier. Grab your notepad, I’ll put the coffee on and we can dream about that Easter Feast coming in early April.

Nistisima Paximadia

zest and juice of 1 orange

3/4 cup vegetable (sunflower) oil

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 heaping Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 cup almonds

3 cups of all purpose flour (+ more if necessary)

sesame seeds

Pre-heated 350F oven

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350F. In a food processor, add the orange juice, zest, wine, vegetable oil, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, baking powder and sugar. Process until mixed well. Now add your almonds and pulse until they look like they are roughly chopped.
  2. Empty the contents into a large bowl and now gradually add your flour and mix in with your hands. You will need  approx. 3 cups of flour. Your dough should be smooth to the feel and not tacky. Add more flour if needed.
  3. Gather your dough and knead it into a ball. Turn onto your work surface and divide into 3 pieces. Form into three loaves. Place some sesame seeds on some parchment and then place a loaf of dough in it. Wrap the parchment around the loaf so that the sesame seeds adhere to the dough. Repeat with the other two loaves.
  4. Place the sheet of parchment paper on your baking tray and lay your three loaves of dough on top. Place your tray on the middle rack and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cut the loaves into slices with a serrated knife. Arrange the cookie slices flat on the baking tray.
  5. Turn down the heat of your oven to 300F and bake for another 10 minutes. Now turn off your oven and allow the cookies to cool in the still warm oven.
  6. Remove the Paximadia and store in an airtight container for up to 6 weeks.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at  http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

© 2007-2010 Peter Minakis

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G.F.C. Greek Fried Chicken

IMG_7847When my parents came from Greece to live here, they were exposed to many new flavours, dishes that were foreign – not Greek. My father worked all his life in restaurants that served what was then a mostly Anglo-Saxon Toronto. My mother worked with other immigrant in factories, with English women who were already in factories.

Both parents were exposed to new foods and thankfully, we didn’t always just eat Greek food at home. There was Prime Rib, Lasagna, Shepperd’s Pie, Coconut Cream Pie, Fish and Chips, burgers and fried chicken.

Back in Greece, I have an aunt who came to Canada before my mom and although she returned, she still has fond memories of Canada, the food and oddly, Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Greeks are hospitable, deft in the kitchen and we’re good at making Greek and non-Greek foods on a commercial level. Although the amount of Greeks in the food and hospitality industry has diminished, we’re still out there owning and operation restaurants, taverns, bars and hotels.

Back to that fried chicken. There’s a resurgence in comfort foods and many people are discovering they can cook these favourites in their own home – their way. I love fried chicken and today I’m sharing a fried chicken recipe with some Greek accents.

Greeks use buttermilk, we love chicken, lemons, thyme, I bring back from northern Greece a smoked paprika, garlic, onions, rosemary. Obviously non-Greek is the method of brining and but I feel it necessary for a moist result each time.

Moist fried chicken is also a sure thing if you use leg and thigh meat. What we have here is a southern American classic through the filter of a Greek guy who gives you G.F.C. or Greek Fried Chicken.

To make this dish sublime, I’ve heated some Attiki brand Greek honey and added a pinch of cloves, some lemon juice and I drizzle the chicken with a little sweetness and finish it with Boukovo (northern Greek chilli flakes) and crisp fried thyme leaves.IMG_7854

G.F.C. Greek Fried Chicken

(serves 4)

8-10 pieces of chicken (thighs and legs), skin on

Brine

cold water

1/4 cup sea salt

1 lemon, sliced

3 bay leaves

Flour Seasoning

3 cups all-purpose flour

2-3 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

2 Tbsp. garlic powder

2 Tbsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. dried rosemary

2 cups buttermilk

1 tsp. smoked paprika

Spiced Lemon Honey

1/2 cup Attiki Greek honey

squeeze of 1/4 lemon

pinch of ground clove

pinch of boukovo (chilli flakes)

sunflower oil for frying

1 handful of thyme sprigs

  1. Place your chicken pieces in a bowl and enough enough water to cover by 1/2 inch. Remove chicken pieces and add salt and stir until dissolved. Now add back the chicken, cover and place in your fridge overnight.
  2. The next day, drain your chicken and pat-dry. In a large bowl add the flour and seasonings and stir with a fork. In another bowl add the buttermilk and smoked paprika and stir until blended.
  3. Dredge your chicken in the flour then dip in the buttermilk and dip once again in the flour then reserve while you heat your oil. Add about 1 1/2 inches of oil in a deep skillet or cast iron pan and bring up to a temperature of 350F.
  4. Gently place about 3-4 pieces of chicken into the hot oil and fry for about 7 minutes per side then reserve on a cooling rack (important to do this so that the coating doesn’t soften). Fry the remaining pieces of chicken in batches and place on cooling rack (you may then transfer to a pre-heated 280F oven to keep warm). Fry the thyme sprigs in the oil and remove with a slotted spoon, pat-dry on paper towel.
  5. Place your honey and a pinch of ground cloves and heat over medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes then add lemon juice to taste, take off heat and allow to rest for 2 minutes.
  6. Arrange your friend chicken on a platter or plate, drizzle honey on chicken, strip some crisp thyme leaves on the chicken and sprinkle Boukovo.

 

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Braised Lamb Pastitsio

IMG_2303This dish came about after having some leftover lamb shanks and like any frugal Greek, one should never throw out good food. Re-invent, remake, reuse. If you don’t have leftovers, then this dish is a little more involved as you will have to braise the lamb shanks to make but it won’t take you that much longer to make than a classic Pastitsio using ground meat.

As a recap, Pastitsio is a baked pasta dish with one layer on the bottom, meat in the middle followed by another layer of pasta then topped with a thick Bechamel sauce. Ideally, thick hollow pasta is used and if you have a Greek grocer nearby, ask them for Pastitsio pasta. Otherwise, bucatini or penne will do.IMG_2182-001

IMG_2184-001

For this delicious take on Pastitsio, I pull the tender cooked meat off the shanks and lightly break up the meat into small pieces. I don’t want stringy pulled meat – I like some texture. Add in some of the tomato sauce that the shanks braised in and you can begin making this haute yet still rustic Pastitio. Let’s!IMG_2295

Braised Lamb Pastitsio

(serves 10-12)

8 braised lamb shanks + sauce (recipe here)

500 gr. package of Pastitsio pasta (or penne)

8 cups of Bechamel sauce

grated Kefalotyri cheese

9″ X 13″ deep roasting pan, greased with butter

Pre-heated 375F oven

  1. Execute a recipe for braising 8 lamb shanks and as soon as the lamb is cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bone, break into bite sized pieces and toss in enough tomato sauce (from the braise) to generously coat the meat. Reserve.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil and then season well with salt and add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes. Strain and toss in a little oil (prevent clumping). Set aside.
  3. Make one recipe of Bechamel, as per the recipe here.
  4. Place half your cooked pasta in the bottom of your pan and add one ladle of Bechamel and gently toss to coat (this will act as a glue for your bottom layer.
  5. Now spread your lamb meat evenly over the entire surface of the pasta and pour extra tomato sauce (if needed). Top with the remaining pasta then pour over the Bechamel sauce and spread evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle grated Kefalotyri cheese over the Bechamel and place in your pre-heated oven for 45-50 minutes or until top is golden.
  6. Take out of the oven and allow to cool for an hour before cutting (otherwise your Pastitsio will flop on your plate). Serve with a side salad and pair with a bottle of Paros Syllogi Moraitis.IMG_2189-001

 

 

 

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Symi Style Salt and Pepper Shrimp

IMG_1974I have never been to Symi, a small island near Rhodes but after having this delicious and easy meze, I now want to! Symi is in the chain of islands called the Dodecanese (Tweleve Islands) and you can see Turkey in the distance.IMG_1691

Once of the specialties of the island are these small, red shrimp that are often pan-fried and since they are so small and delicate, you can (and should) eat the whole thing. Shells, tails and even the heads!

I first had this style of shrimp this past summer at Argiro’s restaurant in Kolonaki (Athens). It was like eating crispy french fries but from the sea.

I served Symi Style Shrimp last week at my latest Greek Supper Club and nearly all the guests ate them whole. You now can do the same with this recipe.IMG_1979-001

Symi Style Salt and Pepper Shrimp

(serves 4 as an appetizer)

1lb. of small cold water shrimp

1 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

3 Tbsp. corn starch

1 Tbsp. all purpose flour

approx. 4 cups sunflower oil for frying

  1. If the shrimp are frozen, thaw overnight in a fridge then rinse well, drain and pat-dry. Season with salt and pepper and gently toss. Place shrimp in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. When ready to fry, take the shrimp out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Pre-heat your oil in a deep fryer or deep pot (fill to about 2 inches deep).
  3. Add the corn starch and flour to the shrimp and gently toss with your hands until evenly coated.
  4. When your oil reaches 360F, add your shrimp in batches and fry for a minute or until the crisp. Transfer to a paper-lined plate and sprinkle a pinch a salt.
  5. Transfer to a platter, serve as a meze with some Ouzo on ice.

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Vasilopita

IMG_1747A belated Happy New Year to everyone and health and happiness in 2014!

As the New Year rolls over, Greek families all over the world will share the tradition of cutting the Vasilopita, our Greek New Year’s cake. January 1st is the name day (saint’s day) of Aghios Vassilis (St. Basil), the Greek Santa Claus, and the cake is named in his honor. While Christmas is a more solemn occasion, January 1st is filled with celebrations and the exchange of gifts.

However it’s fixed, cutting the Vasilopita is a celebration of wishes for the new year.

Each Vasilopita is baked with a coin or medallion hidden inside which, according to tradition, will bring great good fortune in the new year to the person who gets it, so the cutting is all-important and the focus of great scrutiny! Traditionally, pieces are cut ceremoniously by the head of the household and allocated to the church (Holy Trinity and Virgin Mary), then the head of the household (male), his wife, their children (oldest to youngest), other family members by degree of relatedness, then guests.IMG_1657

Vasilopita

1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar

3 cups all purpose flour

pinch of salt
6 large eggs (whites & yolks separated)

1  shot of orange liqueur
1  Tbsp. of baking powder

zest of 1 orange

10inch round spring form pan

Pre-heated 350F oven

 

  1. Whip your egg whites into a meringue and reserve. In a large bowl, use a mixer to blend the butter, sugar and add yolks, one at a time.
  2. Add the liqueur and the zest then add the flour, salt and baking powder. Slowly fold the meringue into the batter.
  3. Place a foil-wrapped coin randomly into the cake mix.
  4. Bake on the middle rack for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for an hour.
  5. Make a paper stencil of the new year you’re celebrating, place it on the cake and dust the top of the cake with icing sugar. Remove stencil and reserve to cut at New Year’s.

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Lobster Thermidor

IMG_1261-001If you’ve been to a seafood tavern or even a steak house that offers some fish and seafood on the side, then you may have had lobster thermidor. It’s a French classic where you boil the lobster, cut in half, remove the lobster meat, chop up and mix into an herbed bechamel with a hint of cheese. Top with breadcrumbs and bake on high heat until the top is golden brown and crisp.

I made this decadent starter as part of my New Year’s Eve menu that also included steak, some mashed potatoes and a salad with a bright citrus salad. Back to the lobster: you want to buy fresh lobster as they have the best flavour. Second, I always buy Canadian lobster, from the Maritime provinces, not just because I’m patriotic but because I like more meat in my lobster.IMG_1244-001

In Canada, lobsters are not caught in the summer, which is the molting season for lobsters. That means, they shed their shell during the summer and grow a new shell. Canadian lobster trappers will catch their quota for the year and hold them in cold water tanks for sale during the summer months.IMG_1252-001

In the US, summer lobster trapping is allowed and that means they catch a softer shell lobster. These lobsters are then placed in pens and allowed to grow and harden their shells. Unfortunately, these lobsters are also given antibiotics and the bottom line – you get less meat in your lobster. Not convinced? Buy a Canadian and American lobster of equal size and compare for yourself.

Enough of my consumer report, time for cooking. Lobster in North America is a wonderful delicacy and certainly worth the splurge.IMG_1260-001

Lobster Thermidor

(serves 2)

1 lobster (about 1 1/4 lb.), steamed or boiled

Bechamel

2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. of minced shallots

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. finely diced carrots

2 Tbsp. finely diced celery

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 Tbsp. all purpose flour

1 1/3 cup hot milk

pinch of salt

pinch of ground pepper

1/4 tsp. Old Bay seasoning

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon

2 tsp. chopped fresh chives

2 Tbsp. grated sharp white cheese (Gruyere)

2 Tbsp. breadcrumbs

1 tsp. sweet paprika

  1. Cut the lobster lengthwise in half and pull out the tail meat then spoon out the any meat from meat from the thorax (I like using the roe and liver in my mixture). Save the shells for filling. Now tear off the claws and knuckles and crack the shells to extract the meat. Remove the vein from the tail meat and roughly chop all the meat and reserve in a medium bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, place  medium pot on your stovetop over medium heat and add your butter, olive oil and add the shallots, garlic, carrot, celery and sweat for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the wine, stir in and cook down for a minute. Now slowly add the milk while whisking and continue to stir until you have  thick sauce that coats the back of  wooden spoon. Add  pinch of salt, ground pepper and Old Bay seasoning. Remove from heat and allow to cool 5 minutes. Pre-heat your oven to 500F, place the rack on the upper rack.
  3. Once cool (warm is ok), add the mustard, tarragon, chives and cheese and lobster meat and stir in. With a spoon, fill the two lobster shells with bechamel/lobster mixture and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and paprika.
  4. Place the two lobster halves on a baking sheet and into your hot oven and bake for 5-7 minutes or until the tops are golden, just crisp. Remove from the oven and allow to cool 5 minutes.
  5. Garnish with a lemon wedge, serve with a warm potato salad and and seasonal greens in a citrus dressing. Pair with a Gerovassiliou Malagouzia.

 

 

 

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