Dinner for one

There are all forms of entertaining.  Of course there are the big parties, dinners and events.  There are also smaller and more intimate settings when you have another couple over or it’s a special dinner just for the two of you. You plan, you do the shopping, the preparation and then hope everyone oohs and ahhs.  It’s validation for the work and time you put into it and you go to sleep thinking everything was worth all the effort.  But have you ever thought of putting that same effort into a dinner for one?

What do people do when they eat alone?  I know when I was single and just starting out, dinner usually consisted of a bowl of cereal or a bag of popcorn.  I never thought of making an effort for myself.  I’m going to assume that a lot of single people have the same way of looking at things as I do.  We just do whatever is the easiest.

Tonight however, I changed my mind about things.  My husband was going to play cards with the guys and I was going to be alone for the evening.  In the past I would have eaten something I could just grab.   Not that there is anything wrong with a bowl of cereal or grabbing what ever is in the refrigerator at the moment, but I decided with the lifestyle changes we are making in our home I should make the effort and do the same for myself as I would anyone else that would be eating dinner in my home.  I was going to make myself a real dinner.

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I was inspired by a recipe in Bon Appétit that sounded so good, but my husband wasn’t as excited about this meal as I was.  It calls for adding lobster to pasta.  What was I thinking?  Doing something with it other than boil it and dip it in butter?  It was the perfect opportunity to try this…and I’m so glad I did!   Not only was this very tasty, it was also relatively easy.  The lobster was still tender and sweet with a nice spicy complement from the pasta and sauce.

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You could of course do this meal for your guests and still get the oohs and ahhs.  They won’t know how easy it was or that most of it could be done in advance.  Or you could wait until that one night when you’re sitting all alone and don’t want a bag of popcorn for dinner.  Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy your own company.  It’s worth the oohs and ahhs you’re going to give yourself.

 

Lobster and Corn Arancini

Clearly I am not in control of my life any longer.  Between work, the trips, my food writing class, the boot camp exercise class (that I might add is about to kill me),  and the house and all it involves, I cannot find any time to do any thing.  It’s a sad state of affairs, when I have to schedule time to complete the one thing I love to do…this blog.

This past weekend was one of the first in many that I have been able to devote a couple of hours to myself, so I decided to finalize a couple of ideas I’ve been working on.  It was me and my kitchen, alone at last.  Me and my kitchen along with cheese, rice, lobster and corn.  It can’t get any more romantic than that….just don’t tell my husband I said so.

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I love Arancini. You know them; they’re those cute little cheesy rice balls.  I can’t seem to ever have enough of them and a while back I got this obscure idea to add lobster to the recipe.  And what goes better with lobster than corn?

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With the combination of flavors, all the ingredients made for a very tasty dinner.  What I loved was the sweetness of the lobster and corn combined with the creaminess of the cheese and rice but it all had the crunch from the outside crust.  Yes, my friends, an Arancini affair had begun.  I even invited my husband to come along for the taste train of love, of which I believe he thoroughly enjoyed, given that he ate four of them.

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Make a date with your kitchen and try these cheesy rice balls.  You’ll love them as much as I did, with or without the husband involved.  Just don’t tell him I said so.

Star rating is a huge YUM!

Lobster Mac and Cheese

There are those days where nothing seems to go the way you want them to.  Sometimes the world is caving in around you and all you want is a good book, a blanket, probably a glass of wine and that comfort food you always turn to in times of trouble.  For me, that comfort has always been macaroni and cheese.

It was always one of my favorite meals when i was little.  Maybe because I didn’t like a lot of what my mom would cook, but this was one thing that I really did.  When I went off to school, I didn’t cook myself, so when I wanted to feel like I was home again, I would make that mac and cheese in a box.  Economically delicious, with that touch of home that I needed.

So last weekend, I was seriously thinking macaroni and cheese when my husband suggested we buy a lobster for dinner.  Of course I always love lobster, but I wanted my comfort food.  And then the light bulb went off over my head and I realized I could have my cake and eat it too, or in this case make Lobster Mac and Cheese.   It was delightfully decadent and comfy all at the same time.

There is nothing better than a good book, a blanket and a glass of wine to make me feel better.  Oh yes…and a nice bowl of Lobster Mac and Cheese.   It’s just like a big hug from your mom, telling you that everything will be okay.

And it will.

Lobster Linguine with Lemon and Basil

On most weekends, sitting over breakfast, my husband and I look at each other and ask what we’re going to have for dinner.  It was no different this past Mother’s Day Sunday.  My children were not here to cook for me, and I didn’t want to go out for dinner.  My only other options were to have my husband cook dinner which probably would have consisted of steak on the grill, or to cook it myself.  I obviously decided to cook it myself.

The nice part of cooking for yourself on Mother’s Day is that you get to choose what you want.  And my husband got to do the shopping.  I wish everyday was like that!  Anyway…it was cold for May 12th so we were thinking of something comforting, but I really wanted lobster.  I could have done Lobster Mac and Cheese, because let’s face it…that is the ultimate of comfort foods.  However, we were trying to go a little healthier so it was crossed off my list of choices.

And then it hit me.  I had seen a recipe for a shrimp and pasta recipe that had previously caught my eye.  I could adapt it and use the lobster.  And so I did with some minor experimental changes.

And it was good.

You can use shrimp if you prefer but I think the lobster added a bit more richness to it.   You can also cut out the butter and wine to make it even more healthy if you choose.  This is one of those recipes you can add and subtract to make it your own.  Experiment a little,  I think this is one of those dishes that will always come out tasting yummy.

So the next time it looks like you might have to cook your own celebration dinner…..embrace it.  You’ll be glad you did!

Butter Poached Lobster

One of my favorite memories was when we went to New Hampshire on vacation and my dad would take us to Rye Beach.  There was a restaurant that had a tree growing up through the inside of it and my dad would take us over to the big tank filled with lobsters and say “pick out the one you want”.   That began my love affair with lobster.

For awhile he drove trucks and sometimes he would drive up to New England for a delivery.  We always knew when he came home, my grandmother and my aunt would be over for dinner and there would be a cooler full of lobsters.  I could crack the shell and have my lobster sitting in butter before my grandmother had it on her plate.  We never had a lot growing up…..but we ate lobsters from time to time.

I’ve always steamed or boiled my lobster, just like my dad taught me.  I heard about butter poaching but really hadn’t thought about it.  One night, my husband had steak for dinner and I had a couple of small lobster tails so I thought I would give it a try, just to see what all the fuss was about.  Well, I have to say it was everything that everyone had said it would be.  Buttery, sweet, tender and absolutely delicious.  I vowed right there I would never steam lobster again.

This dish does look fancy but don’t be intimidated.  This will elicit a bit “wow!” if you want to impress someone but you don’t need to wait for a special occasion.  You can make it any time you want.

This recipe calls for a lot of butter.  I used a full pound of butter and honestly I probably could have added more…..but I didn’t want to get crazy.  I did a butter emulsion, which means that the butterfat and the milk solids are bound together and don’t separate as long as you keep the temperature under 190 degrees F.  I used a candy thermometer to regulate the temperature but you don’t have to go to this level if you don’t want to.  You could probably poach the meat in plain melted butter and get the same yummy results.

 

Girl’s night

What is it about a girl’s night that gets me all excited?  We used to have them all the time but now with all our busy lives,  if we can get together once a month, we’re lucky!  And because of that, it makes our times together so much better…and so much more fun!

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I guess the thought of getting together with friends and the impending gossip, advice, stories and laughter is something that we all need at one time or another.  Add to that,  some great food and a bottle or two of wine (or three or four) and the evening is perfect!

To be honest I always feel a little under pressure at these events. I shouldn’t because it’s really about just getting together, but I do.  It’s always a question of “what am I going to make?”  Several of my friends are excellent cooks…one even a graduate of culinary school. Oh, the PRESSURE!!!   I typically feel like I need to make something unusual, something that is so tasty and so appealing it will even impress my culinary friends.  And this time,  I think I was lucky.  This time,  I’m pretty sure I was successful.  This time….. I had LOBSTER DIP.

Who doesn’t like lobster? Sweet, tender, and succulent.  And,  as luck would have it, on that day only,  our area market had a great special on lobster tails (although quite small, still quite tasty!).  I bought four, set them on the counter and then in a moment of panic said to myself…what am i going to do with these?

I always was quite good with a crab dip so I thought maybe I could just improvise and use what I learned from that….and amazingly enough it turned out to be quite high on the yummy scale.  I’m not sure if I really impressed anyone, but no matter….I liked it and will certainly make this again on my next get-together with the girls, with another couple or hey…a date with just me and my favorite bottle of wine.  So here’s to a good time…… that was had by all!

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