Saturday, February 27, 2010

Appetizer: Hot Lobster Dip; Dinner: Asian Shrimp Bisque with Shrimp Toast

Dinners. What comes to your mind when you think about dinner? Does each day bring about a different thought on what dinner should be?

Me? Dinner Monday through Wednesday means cook something lighter, easier and quick for clean-up. The beginning of the week always means work, schedules and unexpected events. Thursday is looking closer to the weekend so I want to cook fun dishes, usually requiring more effort. Friday, well, its' Friday! Weekend . . . Anything GOES . . .

The Hot Lobster Dip and Asian Shrimp Bisque with Shrimp Toast is my Friday dinner menu. I do make my menus for each week and know what is possible and what is not. Fridays, I let myself leisurely make dinner, sip wine and talk about whatever makes us happy:

Hot Lobster Dip
8 oz. cream cheese
1 T. milk
1/2 lb. lobster meat, diced
2 T. onion, grated
1 t. cream style horseradish
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/3 C. almonds, slivered and toasted

Soften cream cheese with milk. Add all other ingredients except almonds. Blend well. Spoon into oven proof dish. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake 15 minutes at 375.
Asian Shrimp Bisque with Shrimp Toast

Serves: 2 quarts soup serving 8, 8 pieces Shrimp toast for garnish
(adapted from Emeril Lagasse)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup small diced onion
1/2 cup small diced carrot
1/2 cup small diced celery
1/3 cup finely chopped leek
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 to 3/4-pound shrimp shells and heads (if possible)
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup sake
6 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 cup sushi rice
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 recipe Shrimp Toast, recipe follows
8 sprigs cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons diagonally cut green onion tops

Set a deep, wide pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onions, carrots and celery. Saute, stirring, until the vegetables are lightly caramelized, about 7 to 8 minutes.

Add the leeks, ginger and garlic and saute, stirring occasionally for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste to the pan and cook until the vegetables are well coated about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the shrimp shells and heads to the pan and cook until the shells are pink and well caramelized, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the brandy and sake and ignite.

Continue to cook the brandy and sake until nearly evaporated, about 1 minute. Remove the shells and heads. Add the chicken stock, bay leaf and thyme and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.

Season with 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper and the paprika.

Add the rice to the soup and cook until the rice is tender and beginning to burst, about 45 minutes.

Use an immersion blender (or in small batches in a bar blender) to puree the soup and then strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean pot. Return to a simmer and add the coconut milk and cayenne pepper.

Heat through but do not allow the soup to boil after adding the coconut milk. Adjust the seasoning and serve while hot with the shrimp toast. Garnish with the cilantro leaves and green onion tops.

Shrimp Toast:

1/2 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (about 9 ounces unpeeled)
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 tablespoons minced green onions (green parts only)
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
3 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 slices brioche, or home-style white bread
1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted clarified butter


Combine the shrimp, egg, egg white, green onions, cilantro, garlic, salt and white pepper in a food processor and process until blended but still slightly chunky. Add the cream cheese and pulse until smooth and thick. Add the cream and pulse just until blended being careful not to over-process. Spread 1/4 cup of the shrimp mixture on each slice of bread, spreading it to the edges and smoothing the top. The remainder can be used within 2 days or frozen for up to a month.

Heat the vegetable oil to 360 degrees F in a large deep skillet. Add the shrimp toast, in batches, coated side down, and fry until golden on first side, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Turn and cook until golden on the second side, about 1 1/2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. To serve, cut each toast diagonally into quarters, and serve one quarter in each bowl of soup.

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