Holiday lobster recipes – includes recipes from three African American chefs
Anthony C. Murphy
The holidays are filled with tradition, sharing and pleasant surprises. In continuing the tradition of sharing favorite holiday recipes, American Visions considers the choices of three individuals who, although they excel at their craft and although their creations are well-received, are largely unseen and unknown executive chefs at elegant restaurants.
“It was in the blood, I guess,” says Patrick Clark, the 38-year-old executive chef of the Lafayette Restaurant at the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington, D.C. Clark, whose father was also a chef, has been around the kitchen since he was about 10 years old.
Before arriving at the Hay-Adams in late 1992, he studied at the Technical College in his native New York City, then at the Technical College in Bournemouth, England. After working with prominent chefs in London and in Enghien-les-Bains, France, Clark returned to New York in the late 1970s and began his career at Regine’s Restaurant. It was, however, at the Odeon Restaurant, a venue for contemporary food that he opened in New York in 1980, that Clark made his name.
Recognition is nothing new to Clark’s work space at the Lafayette Restaurant, an open, airy room with a sense of intimacy and a continental flair. Clark is also getting his own (he appeared on ABC-TV’s Good Morning, America in October), and he has nothing but positive comments about his reception as an African-American chef: “It has been extraordinary. Sometimes people are surprised, but nothing beyond that.”
The trick to Chef Clark’s deep-dish lobster pie lies in the timing. “This is nice for the holiday, and lobster is abundant,” he notes. “It’s seasonal, and people will like it. It’s also unusual.”
3 1 1/2-lb. lobsters 3 tbsps. olive oil 1 carrot 1 onion, peeled 1 leek, peeled 2 shallots 4 cups heavy cream 1 spice bag (parsley, thyme, pepper-corns and bay leaf) 2 tomatoes, split, with seeds and water removed 3 eggs 3 egg yolks Salt to taste Pepper to taste 1/8 tsp. cayenne Unsweetened pie dough or pate brise
(partially baked in a deep-dish 19-inch
Boil or steam lobsters for 6 minutes. Let them cool, and then remove tail meat and claw meat. Cover and set aside. Reserve lobster shells.
Crush the lobster shells into small pieces. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and sweat vegetables for 3 to 5 minutes under cover. Add lobster shells and stir for another 3 to 5 minutes. Add cream and spice bag to mixture. Bring to a boil and add tomatoes. Turn heat down to simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Strain the lobster cream, crushing shells and vegetables to extract as much flavor as possible. You should have about 3 cups of strained cream. Set cream aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Lightly beat the eggs and yolks together, and then whisk into the lobster cream. Season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne.
Fill 2/3 of the prebaked pie shell with lobster custard. Bake for about 25 minutes in the center of the oven until set. Custard should be firm, but not split or dry-looking. Meanwhile, prepare the topping.
3 tbsps. butter 1/4 cup diced red onions 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels 3 lobster tails, cut into 1/2″ cubes Salt to taste Pepper to taste 1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and diced 1/4 cup sliced scallions 6 whole lobster claws
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute 2 to 3 minutes. Add corn and cook another 3 to 4 minutes, stirring and not allowing the corn to brown. Add diced lobster tails and season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat until lobster is warmed through and corn is tender. Toss in peppers and scallions. Recheck the seasoning. Set aside.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat and saute claws 2 to 3 minutes, until hot. Season.
When pie has cooled for about 5 minutes, distribute topping over it, using a slotted spoon. You should be able to use up all of the topping. Place the claws on top in a circle, with the narrow ends toward the center, thus identifying the 6 portions to be cut. Sprinkle with an herb mixture of parsley, chives and chervil. Cut and serve.
Fond of baking and cooking since she was a child, Chef Risikat Bola Jamiu, a native of Iseyin in Nigeria’s Oyo state, studied at Philadelphia’s Restaurant School in 1986 and 1987, during which time she also began her career at that city’s Palladium Restaurant.
A private business open to the public and located on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, the Palladium – which is housed in an old-fashioned, Gothic-style building with lead glass windows – caters primarily to customers who have business on the campus, including students, faculty and staff, as well as museum and theater patrons.
The restaurant features a cozy bar area with a fireplace and a dining room that seats about 90 people. Its fare ranges from twists on classic French or Chinese cuisine to Eastern Shore-Northern Italian combinations.
When does her Yoruba culture influence Bola’s cooking? “Once in a while, when we have the Nigerian parties, they want me to make food for them,” she says. “Sometimes I fix something from home, and they always like it.”
Bola now manages the kitchen staff and plans the restaurant’s menus. One unusual dish that is served for special occasions is a rich twist on basic lasagna, lasagna bianco with lobster.
1 lb. spinach 2 cups light cream 1/2 cup shrimp stock 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp. butter 1/2 cup flour 3 gratings of nutmeg Salt to taste Pepper 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese 2 tsps. basil 1 onion, minced 4 shallots, minced 1 garlic clove, minced 1 carrot, minced 3 to 4 lobster tails, cooked 3 eggs 1 15-oz. tub ricotta 1 lb. lasagna, cooked 1/3 lb. crab meat, picked
Wash, de-stem and chop – but not too finely – the spinach in a food processor, and then squeeze out the juice with a clean cloth.
Warm the light cream with the shrimp stock in a saucepan over low heat. Set aside.
Heat 1/3 cup of the butter over medium-high heat until it foams, and then add flour and whisk for 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in cream-and-shrimp-stock mixture and bring to a boil. Do not burn. If the sauce seems too thick, add a bit more shrimp stock. Add nutmeg, salt, very little pepper, 2/3 cup of the Parmesan cheese, and basil. When cool, mix in the chopped spinach. Set aside.
Saute over medium-high heat the onion, shallots, garlic and carrot in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Add to the spinach mixture. Set aside.
Slice the lobster tails into medal-lions. Set aside.
Beat eggs and add the ricotta, salt and a little pepper. Mix well. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter a 9- by 13-inch pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with lasagna noodles. Top with a layer each of the ricotta mixture, noodles and spinach goo. Strew the crab meat on top of the spinach. Layer again with noodles, ricotta and strewn lobster meat. Top with another layer of noodles, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese, dot with butter, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for about 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
6 or 7 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and
finely chopped 1 1/3 cups shrimp stock 1 1/3 cups heavy cream Salt to taste Pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and boil for 2 minutes over medium-high heat.
Serve lasagna with a dollop of Sauce Rosy.
Almost 20 years ago, Earl Daniel Jr. arrived in the Detroit area and began his current tour of duty at the Pine Lake Country Club in nearby Orchard Lake, Mich. He has spent approximately seven years as the club’s executive chef, heading a staff of 16 that prepares American, regional, classical French and international cuisine.
His culinary career took shape in the mid-1960s in Regensburg, Germany, where, while serving in the military, he also apprenticed at a restaurant owned by a friend. “That’s how I got interested in cooking,” says the Huntsville, Ala., native. He later moved to New York City to study at the Culinary Institute of America.
Daniel worked at hotel and restaurant chains in the South and Oklahoma before moving the Pine Lake, which has several dining areas that serve members both in a formal setting, amid white pillars and marble accents, and in casual areas where members enjoy Daniel’s black bean soup and coconut-battered shrimp.
His Maine lobster with lemon beurre blanc sports the holiday look – in red and green.
Maine Lobster With
Lemon Beurre Blanc
8-9 tbsps, butter 1 red pepper, diced 1 green pepper, diced 1/2 onion, diced Diced raw lobster meat from claws and knuckles of 6 Maine lobsters (reserve lobster tails) 1/4 cup flour 1 1/4 cups milk Salt to taste Pepper to taste Tabasco to taste Worcestershire sauce to taste 1 1/2 tsps. lemon juice 6 tbsps, white wine
Saute red and green peppers and onion in 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add lobster meat and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Set aside.
Make a roux by heating the remaining 5 to 6 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat until it foams, and then add flour and whisk for 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup of milk and cook, stirring frequently, until thick. Add salt, pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce to taste. Set aside.
Mix lemon juice with white wine. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of milk and salt and pepper to taste. Add to roux. Mix with lobster.
Stuff the lobster mixture into the lobster tails, and then broil for 3 minutes until light brown.
Lemon Beurre Blanc
1 cup chopped shallots 6 tbsps. lemon juice 3 tbsps. white wine 3 tbsps. cider vinegar 3/4 cup heavy cream 3/4 cup unsalted whole butter at room temperature
Reduce shallots, lemon juice, white wine and cider vinegar for 3 minutes over medium-high heat until almost dry. Add heavy cream, and reduce until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Whip in butter.
Pour lemon beurre blanc over the top of the broiled lobster tails and serve immediately.
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