The lobster fishing season is in full swing in the eastern part of Quebec (and probably elsewhere on the East Coast) and around here many grocery stores and fish mongers offer this delicious crustacean at a very reasonable price these days. Once considered a cheap source of proteins in many fishing villages, lobster is now widely considered a delicacy and is exported worldwide making it a luxury item for the table even in fishing communities.
As a conscientious costumer, I therefore do not cook or eat lobster very often which makes me a bit nervous when facing the task of preparing a meal out of these dangerous looking creatures. Not that I am one of those compassionate people who are afraid to plunge live lobsters in boiling water... I might actually be a bit cold-blooded and I consider such task to be the easiest part even considering the occasional splash of burning water.
What makes me particularly nervous is the fear of messing up and ending up with a mediocre meal when all are expecting a feast. It is true that simply boiling lobsters and serving them with a variety of melted butters never fails and can be a lot of fun. In fact, this is exactly what Fufu and I did yesterday. Sometimes however there is some excitement in indulging in, for a lack of better words, more “refined” pleasures and these times call for more careful efforts.
I prepared this dish a few months ago for our last Valentine's day without kids still looking for a way to impress Fufu as if we were still on a first date. Although both of us are not very fond of chi-chi presentations, I think the dish was very fitting: delicious and just kitsch enough for a Valentine's day diner.
Essentially, the dish is made of only two recipes: a beurre blanc and a savoury flan. Lobster tails were simply boiled and the broccoli florets steamed, no recipe there. The tomato concassé was a simple last minute garnish. The flan, if I remember it well, was made with broccoli, peas, mint and basil (the same herbs sprinkled around the dish). There are many vegetable flan recipes and the great thing with most of them is that they are all easily adaptable to your taste or to what is available to you at the moment. The key to this one was the addition of herbs to the vegetable puree.
Fufu and I are passionate mushroom hunters and every spring we hunt for morels in the woods around where we live. They should be available in some farmer's markets and specialty stores at this time of the year in most areas. Look for them they are magic and delicious. I am always a bit wary of marrying seafood and mushrooms but morels usually works well with a fish and lobsters. They were particularly good in this dish which relieved me of all the stress of cooking my expensive lobsters... perhaps the flan had something to do with it too.
The beurre blanc included the juices from the morels rehydration which imparted a great aroma to the whole dish. Beurres blancs are simple butter sauces made by using the butter’s capacity to emulsify fats and liquids at a certain temperature (too cold and your butter will remain solid, too hot and it will split). You will find the recipe of my morel beurre blanc bellow.
Morel beurre blanc
- 1-2 finely diced shallots
- 3-6 dried morels
- ½ cup of white wine
- 1 stick of butter (cold)
- 1 quarter of lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cover the morels with barely enough hot water to cover them for about 20 minutes. This should rehydrate them gently. Reserve the mushrooms and the liquid separately.
- In a pan, sweat the shallot with a little bit of butter until they become translucent and add the morels for few minutes, reserve them for garnishing.
- Add the white wine to deglaze the pan and reduce by half.
- Add the morel juices and reduce again by half.
- Lower the heat to a minimum and whisk cubes of butter one after the other until the sauce becomes nice and thick.
- Depending on your wine’s acidity, squeeze a little bit of lemon juice to brighten the flavour. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately because butter sauces are quite fragile.
You can adapt this recipe to make it more stable by adding a little bit of heavy cream before whisking in the butter. In a pinch, you can also substitute white wine vinegar instead of wine but make sure to reduce it to an almost dry stage before adding the butter to avoid unpleasant levels of acidity.
Enjoy the morel and lobster season!