Thursday, June 26, 2008

The "Daddy's Away" Default Menu & Thomas Keller's Butter-Poached Lobster

So, the CSFB (Competent but Sexy Finnish Babysitter) is back. But my husband went to Los Angeles. It's like a revolving door of people here. One comes, the other goes...

When I was a kid and my Dad went on a business trip, my mother saw the opportunity to get the hell out of the kitchen for a day and she served us TV Dinners. She used to do this actually on TV trays in front of the TV, which was, as I remember it, a HUGE treat. I really relished how casual and decadent it felt to watch TV AND eat frozen food at the same time.

To this day, the Swanson Salsbury Steak Dinner and the Fried Chicken Dinner with that little pad of chocolate cake, make me feel all warm and toasty inside.

I, of course, do no do TV Dinners. I haven't eaten one in years and not a single frozen chemicalized Swanson morsel has passed over my children's lips. I know this sounds elitist and kind of hypocritical, seeing as how much I enjoyed them myself, but I have to draw the line somewhere and I draw my line in the sand there. And with box mac and cheese. But that just goes without saying.

But when David goes out of town I move to the "Default Menu". My own little version of a TV Dinner. We relax the rules a bit. Let down our hair. We declare a "Pajama Party!!" right around dinner time and whip up a fav off the "Default Menu" and usually invite some friends from the neighborhood.

No need to sit still at the table. The kids can eat in their play room while they paint or watch a little "Max and Ruby" with a bowl in their lap.

I'm a rebel.

Anyhoo, I'm going to share with you a dish from my "Default Menu" It's a crowd pleaser and it couldn't be more simple. I was inspired to do this after reading the recipe for Thomas Keller's Butter-Poached Lobster. I do love butter-poaching lobster and have done it a few times now. The kids think it's wonderful and always gorge themselves, but who wants to cook lobster on "Daddy's Away, Pajama Party Night"?

So I butter-poach some fish.

Here is Chef Keller's original Butter-Poached Lobster Recipe which you can see done step-by-step over at French Laundry at Home. If you want to go the easy and cheaper route, my adapted recipe is below. By the way, if you have a hard time getting your kids to like fish or something besides fish sticks, butter poaching is the way to go. It tastes absolutely decadent and really, nothing like fish. And it also tastes, not surprisingly, like butter. And how can that be bad?

I often serve it with another dish off my "Default Menu", Brown Buttered Corn. Also, simple. But sophisticated and satisfying. And even more butter.

There's a theme here.

Think of us in our pajamas in front of the TV tonight...

xxoo YM


Thomas Keller's Butter-Poached Lobster
with Leeks, Pommes Maxim and Red Beet Essence

From ''The French Laundry Cookbook'' (Artisan, 1999)

1 pound unsalted butter at room temperature, in pieces
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leek rounds
1/4 medium-size ripe tomato, peeled, flesh cut in small diamond shapes
2 teaspoons minced chives
1 teaspoon each finely diced carrot, turnip and dark green of leeks
Red-beet essence (see recipe)
Par-cooked meat from 3 lobsters at room temperature (see recipe)
Pommes Maxim (see recipe).

1. Place 2 tablespoons water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low, and whisk in butter piece by piece. Continue adding until all butter is emulsified. Set aside, and keep warm (the best way is in a thermos); do not allow to boil.

2. Bring a 3-quart pot of water seasoned with 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water ready. Add leeks to boiling water, cook 5 minutes until just tender, drain in a sieve and place sieve with leeks in ice water until leeks are cool. Drain, and transfer to a small sauté pan. Place over low heat to reheat. Add tomato, chives, diced carrot, turnip and leek greens. Stir in 1/3 cup emulsified butter. Season with salt and pepper, and cover to keep warm.

3. Place beet essence in a small saucepan. Whisk in 3 tablespoons emulsified butter, and cover to keep warm.

4. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Place lobster pieces in single layer in a large saucepan or sauté pan. Add remaining emulsified butter. Lobster meat should be just about covered. Place pan over low heat, and cook 5 to 6 minutes, until meat is just heated through. Remove knuckle pieces, drain and fold into leek mixture.

5. While lobster cooks, place potatoes in oven 2 to 3 minutes to reheat.

6. To serve, place a spoonful of warm beet essence in center of each of 6 plates. Briefly reheat leek mixture, and spoon onto beet essence. Remove lobster tails and claws from butter mixture, draining well; place a tail piece and a claw on each plate, on top of leeks. Break potatoes in six pieces and place on top of the lobster. Serve.

Yield: 6 servings.

Pictures courtesy of Carol at French Laundry at Home. Thanks Carol!


The Yummy Mummy's "Daddy's Away, Default Menu" Butter-Poached Fish

Serves a couple of adults and four to six kids

2 Tablespoons of water
2 Sticks of unsalted butter
6 Fillets of Swai (or another buttery white fish)
Salt Taste
Chives (cut small)
Lemon wedges

1. Place 2 tablespoons water in a small to medium size saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low, and whisk in butter piece by piece. Continue adding until all butter is emulsified. Do not burn the butter.

2. When butter is melted, add the fish fillets. Cook about 3-4 minutes on each side depending on thickness and heat but be careful not to over cook and fry the fish. You can ladle some of the butter over the top of the fish to get that buttery goodness everywhere. If you feel the fish is nearly done, turn off the heat and just let it sit for a minute in the warm butter.

3. With kitchen scissors, cut small pieces of chive over the fish. Salt to taste. And plate with lemon wedges.



SaintTigerlily said...

Oh my goodness does this ever look delicious. (But that little box of chocolate cake, all burnt around the edges and lava hot in the center...maybe sprinkled with a little ccorn juice from the neighboring compartment....that truly was living.)

Krysta said...

butter poached lobster for a default dinner?! umm, excuse me what land do you live in? oh that glitzy new york butter poached cbsf babysitter land. i'm moving in.

ib said...

Woohoo no more stalker status I'm the third person to comment!
haha I want to eat dinner at your house, butter pocher fish...mmmmm

Izzy's Mama said...

Love that bait and switch tactic! Swai instead of lobster? Do tell where you bought that and is it safe?

I must say that anything "butter poached" surely does not qualify for the default dinner category. It has to come from a jar, box or can..

The evidence mounts..Your perfection quotient is rising ever highter.. Imperfect parents beware!

Familia said...


Mommy said...

This is MouthWatering I tell you what - good thing I was eating avocado and could not feel so cheated at all the good fat!

This reminds me of a recipe I saw to make your own "lunchables" without using anything gross and over-salted.


Joanne Rasmussen said...

Sweetpea for all of us living outside you fabulous country what is a butter stick? how much butter is that? Love you

ntsc said...

A stick of butter (can't find the term butter stick in the recipe) is 1/4 pound, 4 oz, slightly less than 125 grams.

avra said...

Another way to measure 2 sticks is 1 cup or 250 mL. In our house, we always say that butter is the magical carpet of flavour, so this one would "fly" really well...

I've never heard of swai though, so I'll have to check into alternatives.

This post begs the question what the kids would eat if _you_ were away, (but judging by what my kids eat when I am not home for dinner, that might be a Pandora's box...;-))

Familia said...

just made this with filet of sole. everybody loved it but the baby who has been on a yogurt-only diet for the past 3 days.

melissa said...

The butter poached fish idea may be great for, um, kids, but uhhh... I have my own "kid" to make this for 'cause he would love the fish this way. :) Thanks!