Friday, December 29, 2006

The day after Christmas Eve...

After a very late start indeed, we hoofed it over to Midtown again for Christmas Day celebrations. It had been arranged long ago that Lisa and I would cook some food for the 7 people who were to turn up on the day. We decided and planned a menu weeks ago, and today was the time for execution:
  • Lobster Thermidor
  • Kleftiko
  • Rabbit in cider with tarragon
  • Fruit-topped cheesecake

Execution was the first word I thought of when I awoke. With a raging hangover, my first task of the day was to disptach the crustacea. I bought the buggers one day in advance in the afternoon, assured that if I kept them covered with seaweed and sprinkled salty water on them, they'd remain in a 'deep slumber' until bathtime. I ventured to the back of the fridge. Fine specimens they were, all feisty and angry-looking when I woke them with a brief rustle of their plastic bag duvets. "Wakey wakey chaps - It's bathtime! "

One by one I plunged them into a huge pan with water at a rolling boil. 8-9 mins was about right. They all turned a magnificent bright mandarin colour after about 6 mins, meaning they weare approaching readiness. When they cooled down, we had to de-meat the carapace. Real sod of a job too - cracking, chopping, popping and winkling trying to keep the shells intact for the presentation. So sliced mushrooms are browned in butter, then egg yolks whisked with sherry and scalded cream are added to the pan, with a touch more cream, seasonings, paprika. This mixture was then stuffed back into the shells and browned under the grill. We ate them immediately!!! I don't like to review my own cooking, but it was pretty good. And so much better without cheese to spoil the lobster.

Lisa is Greek and since her childhood in Cyprus she has eaten this ancient dish. Kleftiko is an oven-baked lamb shoulder with potatoes, herbs and spices. This was prepared while I was attempting to sleep off the booze from the night before, so I can't tell what's in it or how it's mastered. I can tell you that I looked at it in the opt and it fell apart. Moist, tender, fabulously delicious. I can link you to a Lisa-approved traditional recipe. KLEFTIKO

The rabbit was a simple joint braise with mirepoix, cider for about and hour, the sauce finished with cream and tarragon, a cheeky dollop of French mustard.

It was bloody good though, and I really enjoy making a rabbit dish - It's easy to joint and take apart, but on this occasion I was also treated to a Karaoke rendition of "For Your Eyes Only". I'm convinced Mike aspires to become a lounge singer, like that guy from Peter Kay's 'Phoenix Nights'.

After we'd eaten three courses with about a pint of wine each, we were all in need of a brief rest. Dessert was to follow and Paul 'Beerman' Bannister had been to the bakers to locate fine fruit-topped cheesecakes and Black Forest gateaux.

In the UK, and I guess also in the US now, it's tradition to play chess or glue one's eyes to the telly for some James Bond action after the Christmas meal. I prompted for the latter and cosied-up to an excellent bottle of chilled 'Pol Roger' having been hard at work

for most of the day.


4 comments:

pinknest said...

that lobster looks excellent and i want that lamb recipe!! as well as the purple crown. happy holidays! and happy new year.

9th Street Jay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason said...

Teddy's singing made my ears bleed...

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