Brace yourselves, because this is going to be a long one. I haven’t written anything for weeks, so I’m about to make up for it by giving you a four course meal. Last night, I made my boyfriend dinner for his birthday. The results were fantastic. And I’m going to give you all of the recipes, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
- Raspberry, Mango and Spinach Salad
- Multigrain Ciabatta with balsamic vinegar and olive oil
- Stuffed Mushroom Caps
- Lobster with a lemon garlic dip
- Apple Pie
- A full-bodied white wine
Now, it is important to note that the foods in this menu are not perfectly complementary. When I planned it, it was more organized about what I wanted to cook and eat, and not how well it would go with the lobster main course. So I am not advocating for the goodness of apple pie with lobster or anything (according to the internet, blueberry pie is the dessert of choice for a lobster dinner).But I do think that it worked fairly well anyway, and I actually found a recipe in Canadian Living for a Lobster and Apple Pie so the combo isn’t too far-fetched. I will say that the mushroom caps complimented the lobster extremely well. In terms of the dip, butter with lobster is always the best, but if you’re serving this to someone who isn’t too thrilled about dairy products, olive oil makes a reasonable substitute.
One of the really nice things about this meal, is that almost all of it can be done ahead of time. The only thing you’re going to have to do during the evening is cook the lobster.
To start with you could make your own bread if you had the time or inclination, but if you’re really going to make the rest of the food on this menu, you probably don’t. So buy a nice loaf from the grocery store or a local bakery, and you’re ready to go.
Then, make a salad. Throwing together some baby spinach, a couple kinds of fruit (like raspberries and cubed mango), and goat cheese is basically all you need to do. I used a garlic and mango dressing, but a raspberry or balsamic vinaigrette would be equally delicious.
Next, the mushroom caps. I’ll actually give you a recipe for this one.
- 8 large white mushrooms, stems separated and chopped
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup bread crumbs, about 1 slice of bread’s worth
- ¼ cup herbed goat cheese
- ¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ tsp hot pepper flakes
- Salt and Pepper
Melt the butter in a pan, and fry the mushroom stems and onions in it until soft. Add the garlic, bread crumbs, goat cheese, Worcestershire sauce and spices. Cook for another two minutes, until the goat cheese is mixed in evenly, then place a spoonful or two of the mixture into each of the mushroom caps. You can now put them in the fridge for a few hours until you’re ready to cook them if you want to. When you’re ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the mushrooms in a glass baking dish pan with just enough water to wet the bottom. Bake for 15-20 min and serve warm.
Sadly, they disappeared to quickly for me to get a picture of the finished product, but this is what the mushroom caps looked like before they went into the oven:
This is the first time I have ever made lobster, so I will admit that I don’t really know what I’m doing. I bought two frozen, cooked lobsters at the grocery store, and I just boiled them for 3 or 4 minutes to get them warm. Maybe someday I’ll make another post involving a live lobster, and perhaps I’ll steam it or pan fry it instead. But last night, this is what I did.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Put the (already cooked) lobster in and boil it with the lid on for 3-5 minutes to get it warm again (about 3 minutes if you’ve had it out of the freezer for a bit, closer to 5 minutes if it’s still icy). Take it out, and on a cutting board crack the claws and slice it in half from the underside of its belly to the end of its tail. Do the same with the other lobster, and then dig in!
Note: the digging in part gets messy. If you’re like me and you don’t have any lobster eating utensils around, or even a nutcracker, then be prepared to get your hands dirty and splatter a bit of lobster juice everywhere.
Lobster is great dipped in melted butter, but I made a sauce using olive oil, which turned out to be a great alternative.
Here’s the recipe:
- 1/3 cup of olive oil
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tsp parsley flakes
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ tsp sea salt
Mix it together in a small pot, heat it up, and serve it in a small bowl for dipping.
This is the apple pie that I made.
I may not know much about lobsters, but I’ve made a fair number of pies in my life. I feel that in terms of pies, I do know what’s going on, and this pie is no exception.
In my opinion, if you are going to make a pie, you should be making the whole thing from scratch. If you don’t feel like rolling out pastry, then you might as well just go out and buy the entire thing. But if you’re willing to put in the effort , mixing the pastry is ridiculously easy and rolling it out and fluting the edges is not much harder (unless you’re using whole wheat flour. In that case it gets trickier). The entire pie should take only an hour and a half. Two hours if you’re really slow and you drag out the cleanup time. But trust me; it is worth every minute of it.
Here’s the pastry recipe I used. It can be done with whole wheat flour, which is often what I do because I like the nutty taste of whole wheat. However, if you want a pie with pretty edges, and perfectly textured, easy-to-roll-out pastry, you have to use all-purpose. On this occasion, that is what I did.
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 cup chilled, unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 cup sunflower oil
In a food processor, mix together the flour, butter, sugar and salt until it forms fine particles. Add the sunflower oil and pulse once or twice. Then, trickle in the water as you’re mixing it until the first small clumps start to form. Once this happens, separate the dough into two halves and wrap it in wax paper. Let it rest in the fridge for at least half an hour before rolling it out.
In the meantime, you can start peeling apples. Last time I made an apple pie, I had two helpers who, in exchange for some of the finished product, peeled the apples (Thank you Gillian, Caileigh and Brendan!). This time I was not so lucky. And eight apples does take a considerable amount of time.
This is the recipe for what goes inside the pie. It’s for a deep-dish pie plate, or one that’s about 10” in diameter. In a store bought pie pastry, you should be able to make 2 pies, maybe slicing up an extra apple or two. (But why would you do that, when making your own pastry is soooooo much better?)
- 8 cups of apples (granny smith apples work really well)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp worth of other spices (nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves, cardamom… basically whatever you’ve got. I had a pumpkin pie spice mix.)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
This next bit is my favourite part. You’ll need a pastry board and a rolling pin, and you’ll want to get them both well-covered in flour. Take the pastry out of the fridge (if it has been in the fridge for more than an hour it will be hard. You may want to take it out for a while before you start rolling it out.)
On your well-floured pastry board, flatten the first ball of dough slightly, and then roll it out with the rolling pin until it is roughly 16 inches in diameter. Or about half a centimeter thick (Yes, I’m switching back and forth from imperial to metric. You’re going to have to deal with it). Pick the dough up by rolling it around the pin, and then lay it out in your pie plate.
Add the apples.
Roll out the next piece of pastry just like the first, and place it on top. Then cut away the excess pastry and inch away from the edge of the pie plate. Roll or fold the edges of the crust so that it is tucked under itself and not hanging over the edge of the pie plate anymore. Flute the edge of the pastry by pushing it in with your thumbs and pulling back with your fingers. (Something like that. You’ll figure it out). Don’t forget to cut slits in the top for steam to escape. It hasn’t happened in this picture yet.
Pop the pie into an oven preheated to 400 F. You may have to cover the edges of the crust with tin foil if it starts to brown too quickly. I always do. The pie will be done in about an hour, when fruit juice is bubbling through the steam vents and the apples inside are tender if you stick a knife into them. It needs to cool for at least 3 hours before you serve it, but when you do, you can pair it with ice cream, old cheddar cheese, or nothing. It’s good regardless.