Mercifully, February is winding down. Longer days and springtime magic are just ahead and for many that means Major Leaguge Baseball spring training in Florida, visits to white sand beaches and for the very lucky, fishing, watching sunsets and dining in Key West. These recipes are perfect for the begining of some mighty good days.
Oyster and Spinach Salad
3 egg whites
1 cup cornmeal
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
20 each Louisiana oysters, shucked
1 pound baby spinach
1 head frisée lettuce, cleaned
8 pieces of bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
1/2 cup blue cheese, in all
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup grape seed oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon chives, chopped
1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
black pepper, to taste
Emeril’s Lobster Thermidor (with modifications)
2 lemons, halved
1 onion, quartered
1 Bouquet Garni, recipe follows*
5 Florida Lobsters
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus 1/8 teaspoon
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon dry mustard powder
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley, plus additional for garnish
1 bay leaf
1 small sprig fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
Bring a pot of salted water containing the lemons, quartered onion, and bouquet garni to a boil. Add the lobsters and cook until red and firm, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the lobsters to an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
When the lobsters are cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise with a heavy sharp knife and carefully extract the tail meat.
Place the halved lobster shells on a baking sheet, cut sides down, and roast until dry, 5 to 6 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook, stirring constantly with a heavy wooden spoon to make a light roux, about 2 minutes. Add the cognac and cook, stirring, for 10 seconds. Add the milk slowly, stirring constantly to incorporate. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly add the cream, stirring constantly, until all is incorporated. Cook, stirring, over medium heat for 1 minute. (The mixture will be very thick.) Add the salt and pepper and stir well.
Remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese, the mustard, tarragon, and parsley. Fold in the lobster meat. Divide the mixture among the lobster shells and place stuffed side up on a clean baking sheet. Sprinkle the top of each lobster with a portion of the remaining cheese and broil until the top is golden brown, 5 minutes.
Place lobster halves on large plates, garnish with additional parsley, and serve immediately.
Yield: 1 bouquet
Place the bay leaf, thyme, parsley sprigs, and peppercorns in the center of a 6-inch square piece of cheesecloth or a large paper coffee filter. Draw up the sides to form a pouch and tie with kitchen twine or unflavored dental floss.
*Bouquet Garni is a small bag filled with herbs and seasonings that is used to flavor poaching liquids and broths. By placing the items in a bag, the liquid stays free of debris and the seasonings can easily be extracted. The ingredients in the bouquet garni vary to suit the final dish.
End of the Road Key Lime Pie
For the graham cracker crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs from about 12 (2 1/4-inch by 4 3/4-inch) crackers
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
2 large egg whites
4 large egg yolks
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh or bottled Key lime juice
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
9-inch pie plate, stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (optional)
Make the graham cracker crust:
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F.In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon. Drizzle with the melted butter and stir until well combined. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake until set and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Leave the oven on.
Make the filling:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or a large mixing bowl with a whisk or hand mixer, beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sweetened
condensed milk. Add the lime juice and whisk until combined. Gently fold in about 1/3 of the egg whites to lighten the mixture then add the remaining egg whites and fold until just evenly combined. Gently spread the mixture in the pre-baked crust and bake until just set in the center, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely then refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. DO AHEAD: The pie can be baked and stored, covered, in the refrigerator, up to 3 days.
Garnish and serve.
In a medium bowl, combine the heavy cream and sugar and whisk until soft peaks form. Cut the pie into slices and top each with a dollop of whipped cream.
Sir Verde’s Wine Suggestion: Riesling made from the noble grape, is so refreshing and versatile. The 2018 Rheingau Weingut Robert Weil Riesling Kabinett gently chilled adds to the enjoyment of these dishes including the Key Lime Pie.
Stay safe. Bonne dégustation. Love one another.