Saturday, February 16, 2008

"Tradition wears a snowy beard, romance is always young."~ John Greenleaf Whittier

No matter how old I get ~ and I am old ~ I love to celebrate Valentine's Day with Tom. We don't buy each other gifts anymore. We don't go out to dinner. We used to go out, but we have decided that restaurant dining for any kind of holiday is too rushed and too crowded and we prefer spending up to two or three hours and making our dinner an event.

Tom buys me a card, which he leaves on the table in the morning, and "surprises me" with a bouquet of flowers when he comes home. My card and gift to him is taking the day off and spend it preparing a dinner that we have chosen together.

Well, not exactly just preparing a dinner. I pretty much go over the top. I start with preparing the menu to display on the table. This was our Valentine's Day menu:

Since we live in a culinary wasteland (unless, of course, you like to eat BBQ at Chez Bubba), we have a difficult time finding in our grocery stores many of the ingredients we use almost on a daily basis. As I have mentioned before, I shop online a lot for things like Minor's Soup Bases, which I get at, white and black truffle oil that I order from and jars of oil packed anchovies that I get at

When it comes to lobster, mussels, caviar and a delicious maple sugar smoked salmon, I won't order anywhere else but When you order live lobster and mussels, they are shipped overnight, packed in ice and ALIVE. This time I ordered the caviar (American Paddlefish), blinis, maple sugar smoked salmon and lobster tails. But, enough of the advertisements (no, they don't pay me to advertise for them. I just like sharing a really good find.)

The first thing in the morning I set the table. I like to use red as a major color in the theme and several years ago, I found small plastic boxes of silk rose petals in red and pink. This year I used only red. This was the place setting:

I arranged the appetizers on the plate: the smoked salmon, caviar and blinis and served it with a Dill Creme Fraiche (sort of).

We can't get Creme Fraiche here, so I have developed a nice substitute that tastes just like it.

Creme Fraiche
by Terri Powers for Terri's Table

1/2 cup sour cream (I use low fat)
2 - 3 tablespoons of heavy cream
pinch of salt
pinch of white pepper

Mix in a small bowl with a small whisk until blended very well and not runny at all. To this you can add any herb you like. I used about a teaspoon of dill, but I have used fresh tarragon or fresh chives and they were also delicious.

I put the baking potatoes in the oven before we sat down to the table, along with the Cauliflower au Gratin that I had put together earlier in the day and refrigerated. We sat for about an hour and a half, nibbling at the appetizers, talking and drinking white wine. It was luxurious.

I pulled myself away from the table to prepare the lobster.

Butter Poached Lobster
by Terri Powers for Terri's Table

2 large lobster tails - 8 to 10 ounces each
1/2 pound unsalted butter
3 cups water with 1 teaspoon Minor's Lobster Base
2 bamboo skewers

To prepare the lobster, take a sharp pair of kitchen shears and very carefully cut down the center lengthwise through the shell on both sides of the tail (top side and underside), stopping short of the tail fin, which will be left on. On the top side of the tail carefully reach your fingers under one side of the shell between the meat and the shell and run your fingers down the entire length of the shell to separate. At this point, you should be able to gently pull off one side of the shell, leaving the tail intact. You may need to cut the last shell segment from the tail fin, but do so very carefully. Do the same to the other side. Be sure to remove any pieces of broken shell.

Lay the lobsters tails flat, top side up, and insert a bamboo skewer into the tail lengthwise down to the tail fin. Cut excess skewer off, leaving just enough to hold onto to pull it out when served. This will keep the tail from curling while cooking. At this point, I covered the tails with plastic wrap and refrigerated until time to cook. Remove the lobster tails from the refrigerator about 15 minutes to preparing your poaching liquid.

To prepare poaching liquid, pour water and lobster base into a frying pan large enough to allow the lobster tails to lie flat. Bring the water to a boil and reduce heat to a very gentle simmer (no hotter than 165ºF). Cut the butter into chunks and add to the broth, whisking until the butter is melted completely and fully incorporated. Put the lobster tails into the poaching liquid and keep temperature between 150ºF and 165ºF. Do not allow the liquid to become any hotter as it will break the butter and separate. Poach the lobster tails for 15 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time. Remove the lobster tails from the liquid to the plate. You may use the poaching liquid for dipping, if desired.

So this was dinner. I realized two things: 1) I didn't think it through really well because everything on the plate was, essentially, white, and 2) the lobster was so rich that serving it with two or three light vegetables would have been adequate. I finished my lobster and little else. But, we had a great time, just the two of us.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

YOur Vday dinner looks fab! How sweet of you to have such a nice dinner with your sweetie ;)

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