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lobster bisque, clams with longaniza, saffron, crab cake, jumbo lump

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Shellfish

I'm bummed.

My Christmas dinner tradition with myself has been shattered... it lives no more - it has ceased to be.  But before you go on sharing in my sadness, take note that I have been food upgraded. You see, we all have that one meal.. that one that for some reason takes us back to a time of little inhibition, freedom from nutrition, and could cure the most existential of crises..   For me that meal came every year like clockwork on December 25th, when I got home from a grueling day in the mines (otherwise known as Prix Fix Christmas Dinner) where everyone is merry, except for the restaurant staff.  Even though I had been working with thousands of dollars worth of fine meat, seafood, shellfish, foie gras etc all day, I didn't want it.  I was looking forward to something way more fancy and exotic.. and it was waiting for me at home - like the north star that led the wisemen to Jerusalem, my Swanson's Hungryman Salisbury Steak TV Dinner was my shining light at the end of the tunnel.  I mean, come on, it's ONE POUND OF FOOD!  It says so right on the front of the box!  And it's $3.99 - the same price it's been since I was 2 - apparently inflation applies to everything except frozen pre-made meals.  (I have further evidence - frozen chicken pot pies have been .99 cents since I was born [though my palate is too refined to eat that swill.])  Anyway, as time goes on, people change and new traditions are started.  This will be the 2nd annual Christmas for me where my fine, frozen cuisine requirements will be exceeded with lots of seafood.  Shrimp, Clams, Lobster et al will adorn our dining room table this year as Cortney, her mother, and I all "gather" around and gorge ourselves as the piles of mauled shells and empty claws mound on the table like an ancient warning to intruders to stay away! 

And after all of that, if you're still feeling a little verklempt about my lack of impeccable dining, don't be... Cortney had class the other night, which left me at the helm of my own dinner for one type situation, so I went to Safeway and bought my Tv Dinners <- yes, plural.. I bought and ate 2... Don't judge me. 

Whether you are embracing your Italian-American heritage this Christmas with the Feast of the Seven Fishes, or you just love Seafood, these recipes are for you!  I know for a fact that 2 of the 3 of these will be on our table this year! Enjoy!

Classic Lobster Bisque

(This recipe will steal hearts... click here if you need proof)

• 8-10 ounces cleaned lobster meat, shell reserved

• 1 onion, fine dice

• 2 celery stalks, fine dice

• 1 carrot, fine dice

• 8 garlic cloves, smashed

• 2 T. tarragon

• 2 T. thyme

• 1 clove

• 1 tsp coriander seed

• ½ c. Bristol cream sherry

• ½ c. brandy

• 1.5 qt lobster or clam stock

• 4 T. tomato paste

• ½ c. heavy cream (or whipped cream- will explain)

• 1.5 tsp cornstarch

• 1 tsp lobster or clam stock

1. In a large pot, add the lobster shells and saute in 2 T. olive oil until the shells begin to caramelize.

2. Next add the mirepoix, garlic, herbs and seed spices. Saute for 5 minutes, then deglaze the pan with the sherry and brandy. When the liquid has reduced by 3/4 , add the lobster stock and simmer for 30-45 minutes.

3. At this point, remove the shells, and working in batches, puree the soup and strain into a bowl.

4. Heat another pot on the stove with 2 tsp oil, and cook the tomato paste until the raw flavor has cooked out. 2-3 mins. Then add the strained soup and heavy cream and bring to a simmer.

5. Mix the cornstarch with the stock and stir into the bisque until it has thickened slightly. Taste for a final seasoning, and top with the lobster meat and serve immediately.

Clams with Longaniza, Potatoes, and Saffron

• 1 # potatoes, cubed

• 1 T. olive oil

• 8 oz longaniza, diced

• 2 T. olive oil (if needed)

• 1 onion, julienned

• 5 cloves garlic, chopped

• 1 roasted red pepper, julienned

• 2/3 c. white wine

• Generous pinch of saffron

• 1/3 C. flour

• 5 C. clam stock

• 2/3 C. pureed tomatoes

• Pinch of red pepper flakes

• 1.5 Lb. clams

• 2 T. parsley, chopped

• 1/2 lemon zest

• Crusty bread to serve

1. In a small pot, combine the cubed potatoes with cold salted water and boil until fork tender. Remove and set aside.

2. Combine the white wine and the saffron and set aside.

3. In a large dutch oven, heat 1 T. olive oil until hot. Add the diced longaniza and crisp up on all sides. Do not let it stick to the bottom of the pan. When all sides are crisp, remove and place on a paper towel lined plate.

4. Add the 2 T. oil if needed (if there isn’t enough fat left over from rendering the longaniza), and heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and saute until translucent. Next add the garlic, and saute for 1 more minute. Add the pepper and saute for another minute.

5. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook until the raw alcohol flavor subsides. Then add the flour stirring well to incorporate. Do not let the flour stick to the bottom of the pot. Cook the flour for 2-3 minutes.

6. Add the clam stock, the pureed tomatoes, and the crushed red pepper. Bring to a simmer and let reduce until the soup starts to thicken.

7. When the soup has thickened slightly, add the potatoes, let cook for 5 minutes and then add the clams and cover the pot. Let the clam cook until open 1-2 minutes. When the clams are cooked, add the parsley and lemon zest and gently toss in. Check for salt and pepper seasoning. Serve with bread.

Jumbo Lump, No Filler Crabcakes

• 1 lb. jumbo lump crab meat

• 1 dash Tabasco

• 2 tsp. old bay seasoning

• 2 T. mayonnaise

• 2 T. minced onion

• 1 T. fresh parsley

• 2 ½ T. Dijon mustard

• 1 tsp. greek seasoning

• pinch celery salt

• S&P TT

1. Check crab meat for shell.

2. Combine the tabasco, old bay, mayonnaise, onion, parsley, Dijon mustard, Greek seasoning, celery salt, salt and pepper. Mix well - add the jumbo lump crab meat, and toss together very gently, ensuring that you do not break up the lumps. Shape into cakes.

3. Put under broiler for 5 minutes.