Dimanche Repas: Semaine 11
This week’s menu was AC’s choice — with soup and dessert choices delegated to Roxanne and me, respectively. His choice: Homard Thermidor. Rx’s soup choice: Potage Parmentier (Potato and Leek Soup), my dessert choice: Charlotte de Pommes (Apple Charlotte).
I loved the choice of the main course because the movie made such a spectacular impact on me then — that I thought, “Hmmm. It can’t be that difficult to put a lobster into a casserole of boiling liquid, right?”
Here’s a clip to remind you of that particular scene:
This was the first time I was cooking LIVE lobsters too — so I did some google-ing and tried to search for the easiest, least painful way of killing them. Julia said that if you could not fathom steaming live lobsters, you could always kill them instantly first. Yeah. So they wouldn’t have to perish from the heat of the steam or the bubbling boiling water. She said: Kill them instantly by “plunging a knife into the head, between the eyes.”
Someone even recommended putting them into the freezer for 30 minutes first to get them into a state of coma — and THEN cook them in their sleep. Neat. One day, I wish I could leave the world that way.
Here’s how the fate of my lobsters turned out:
The adventure started with Ani, my ever-reliable marché expert, who purchased my goods for me. Eight pounds worth of live lobsters bought on Rue Montorgueil for half the price of those sold on the 16th arrondissement. Strangely enough, when she bought them, les vendeurs simply threw them into a plastic bag, sans rubber bands on the claws, sans a box to keep them constricted. Half-way down the block, she went running back to them — fearful of what the other Metro commuters would do should those shelled-creatures start crawling up their Gucci-clad-feet. Good thinking, right?
Fortunately, les poissonières were kind enough to give her a box, and tied the claws neatly — the way they should have done in the first place.
Then came my big dilemma: On the internet, all the videos I watched on “How to Cook Lobster” showed them being immersed in rapidly boiling water. But Julia only prescribed using 2 cups of vermouth + 2 cups of water. Hardly enough liquid to even cover their poor toes! I panicked. What a way to die. “Drown me if you will, but don’t do it half-way!” So I said a little prayer to Julia, and murdered her stock by adding a lot of water, enough to a comfortable drowning level. And they all dove in head-first, as many others recommended.
That was the most painful part of the adventure because I could actually hear them blurting small squeaks of “Eeeeeeeee!” about 5 minutes into the boil. It was heart-wrenching… but not enough to make me stop. I persevered! Starting with reducing all that liquid down to 2.25 cups — which took a good three hours!
The rest was smooth-sailing: de-shelling the lobsters while carefully keeping their shells intact, scraping every bit of meat from their legs and joints, cracking their beautiful fat claws (which I saved and later served as appetizers) …
… removing their intestinal tubes, spooning out the lobster coral and green goo, incorporating the goo into the sauce, sauté-ing the meat in cognac.
Four hours later — and well into midnight, I was exhausted. I reserved the rest of the steps for Sunday morning, when I would simply need to combine the meat with the sauce, put them into the shells, top them with grated parmesan, and bake them.
And there was still the dessert I had to make!
Tomorrow is another day, I thought — and decided to cram everything else to Sunday morning.
I woke up bright and early on Sunday — determined to whip up the rest of the meal with unrelenting commitment. I started by giving up on the soup because there were just not enough hours left till le dejeuner! (I promise to do this on Wednesday though!)
Now I had to tackle the Charlotte de Pommes. Whose idea was this anyway? Although the recipe was pretty straight-forward — there was one very crucial, hanging threat: If your sauce is not thick enough, or your bread slices insufficient — it could lead to your whole le gateau “caving in.” Thanks. Just the stress I needed on a Sunday morning.
I lined my almost-charlotte-mould with bread, lightly browned in butter:
… thickened my apple sauce in the pan until it held its shape on the spoon …
… made my apricot glaze….panicked.
… piled up my butter-soaked-bread-pieces on my mould. Panicked again. Layered it with apple sauce …
… threw it into the oven … took a deep breath, and prayed that everything would turn out right. Literally.
We were at the table by 12:30 noon — just as it is every Sunday. I put my apron aside, and made every effort to look cool, calm, and collect.
And… this is was what we had for one unforgettable Dimanche Repas:
The lobsters were oh so sumptuous, my Charlotte stood firm and proud, and all plates were wiped out. I received valued compliments from everyone — INCLUDING my hubby!
And for me, when he says it was a “success” — then I dare not argue. I can heave a big sigh of relief and believe, that all the effort was well worth the massacre. 🙂
Bon apetit indeed! 🙂