Friday, July 22, 2016

The Magic of the Red Knob: Lobster Three Ways (AKA Wolf Gourmet Lobster Fest)

A couple of years ago we did a major renovation of our place. We reached that point in life, the point-of-no-return of sorts, or the tipping-point as some like to call it. We stopped being young and hip, and became a family of three (two ex-hipsters and a child), yet we were still living in a warehouse loft with no real bedrooms and the situation was getting out of control. So I gave Dr. V an ultimatum: let go of the loft and move to a "proper" apartment, or build a room for Miss Pain. Dr. V picked the "loft + reno" option.


It turned out that the only, only, only way we could introduce a new bedroom was in place of the existing kitchen. Therefore, we had no option but to move the kitchen. This, in turn, forced us to move the walking closet, which affected the hallway, and spread to the southwest wall... Inch by inch, square foot by square foot, wall by wall -- and what appeared to be a seemingly simple project became a seven-month-long-undertaking.

We even had to move out.

The only thing that carried me through the ordeal was the realization that once everything was over, I would have a new kitchen -- a proper kitchen, a real kitchen, a beautiful kitchen, and not an improvisation with a stove I had so gotten used to. Imagine that! My very first seriously grown-up kitchen! Made especially for me! Every time I succumbed to the renovation blues, which, on average, was once a day, I would take out a drawing pad and draw my kitchen. I must have done it like million times, changing things here and there, testing layouts, switching drawers, replacing cabinets with shelves and then putting cabinets back again... I've done it a million times, but in all of my drawings, one thing always remained the same -- a beautiful big range with red knobs, right there, in the very center of my beautiful new kitchen!

My red-knobbed-range-to-be carried me through the construction.

Well, almost... That is until a month away from the finish line, when I gave Dr. V my list of appliances, and he gave me the look.

"What you have here is a professional range," he said, "and it needs some serious venting, and just so you know, we do not have a vent that vents outside."

"Can't we make one?" I asked.

Dr. V gave me another look.

"Or, how about we make an island and put the range in it, and then the range will kind of vent itself." I was not ready to let go.

"We are not going to have a range in the middle of the living room," V said with a significant amount of determination. "Besides, even if I were crazy enough to acknowledge your crazy ideas, the gas line does not stretch that far into the apartment."

"Can't we make it stretch?" I asked, although I kind of knew the answer.

"Yes. But you should have asked for it when we started construction."

To compensate for the loss, I bought a red Murano chandelier and two red crystal candy jars. It did not make the pain go away. Seven years fast-forward, and it still hurts. But life goes on; I grew to accept the fact that I might never have the red-knob-range and I grew to like my no-knob-electric-stove. Although, sometimes, when I press the close-to-non-existing button to power it on, I take a deep breath, close my eyes tightly and pretend it is a red knob.

But the funny thing is, the Providence has a way of correcting its own little mistakes, and the Divine Intervention always kicks in for those who qualify, albeit not always exactly in the way we expect it to happen. So, please, picture the following situation. About three weeks ago, I received an email from the good folks at Wolf Gourmet.

"Would I care to try out the Wolf Gourmet High Performance Blender," they wanted to know.  

That would be kind of cool -- I thought -- really cool, but my blog is my very own little playground and I rarely do sponsored posts. Close to never, actually; I must have done a sponsored post like three or four times in the entire history of Three Little Halves. Therefore, you can most definitely imagine how I responded to the good folks from Wolf Gourmet. Yes, you can. My response was brief and to the point.

"Dear Wolf Gourmet Folks," I wrote, "I really appreciate the opportunity -- however, hmm, how shall I put it... Would it be possible to send me the one with a red knob?"

One learns never to say never, because as it turned out, I finally have that red knob in my kitchen. As I said, the Providence has a way of correcting its own little mistakes, and the Divine Intervention always kicks in for those who qualify :)

P. S. First and foremost, a gigantic THANK YOU to the folks from Wolf Gourmet, who went out of their way to make sure that I indeed get a blender with a red knob. That was priceless!!! Having had my new blender for a week, I must say that I am mighty impressed. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that my old blender was twelve years old, and that all the power and technological advancements blew me away. Or maybe it is the red knob feeling? Either way, we created some mighty good dishes together, along the lines of foods I like to "blend" the most: panna cottas, creamy soups and egg yolk emulsions. Plus a lobster, because it's that time of the year. A lobster three ways, actually... Almost like a Lobster Fest dinner, for the lobster obsessed folk. Here we go:

Three Little Halves / Wolf Gourmet Lobster Fest

Green Pea Panna Cotta with Lobster Hash 
Tropical Cream of Pea Soup with Lobster
Lobster with Ginger-Lime Mayonnaise and Basil Pesto Aioli

Green Pea Panna Cotta with Lobster Hash

for the green pea panna cotta

* 14 oz shelled green peas
* 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
* 1 1/4 cup water
* 3 tbsp butter
* 3 1/2 sheets of gelatin
* salt

for the lobster hash

* 12 oz lobster meat (or two fully cooked small lobsters)
* 2 tsp finely minced shallots
* 1 tsp finely minced fresh tarragon
* 1 tsp finely minced chives
* 3 tbsp sour cream
* 1 tbsp mayonnaise
* 1 - 2 tbsp lemon juice
* 1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground pepper (preferably from a mixture of black, green and red peppercorns)
* salt


* 12 small serving bowls (1/3 cup), ramekins or cups 

First make the panna cotta. In a medium pot or saucepan mix the cream and water, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the peas and a tiny pinch of salt, and reduce the heat to maintain simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the peas are very soft. (It will take less time if you are using frozen peas). Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool.

Place the mixture into a blender and process until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a clean pot. You should have about three cups of liquid. Test for salt and adjust to taste. Place the pot with the pea liquid back onto the stove over medium heat, until it is warm again.

In a small bowl, soak the gelatin in cold water until soft. Squeeze the excess water, and add the gelatin to the warm pea mixture. Mix until gelatin is fully dissolved. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins and transfer into refrigerator to set, for at least three hours or overnight.

To make the lobster hash, chop the lobster meat finely. Add the shallots, chives, tarragon, sour cream, mayonnaise, 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, one tablespoon lemon juice and salt, and mix until everything is fully combined. Taste and add more pepper and lemon juice if needed. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To serve, remove the panna cotta and lobster hash from the refrigerator. Spoon a generous tablespoon of the lobster hash on top of panna cotta. Garnish with fresh peas and microgreens. Serve.

Serves 12

Tropical Cream of Pea Soup with Lobster

* 2 cups yellow split peas  
* 1 medium yellow onion (about 6 oz), finely chopped
* 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
* 2 tbsp red curry paste
* 2 tbsp double concentrated tomato paste
* 5 large curry leaves (optional)
* 2 kafir lime leaves
* one lime
* a knob of ginger (about 1 inch)
* 6-8 cups of vegetable broth or water
* one 14 oz can of coconut milk
* 2 tbsp vegetable oil
* salt 

* 3-4 lobster tails, cleaned and sliced in half crosswise 

Wash the split peas in several changes of water. Zest the lime on the microplane and juice it. Zest the ginger on the microplane. Keep aside.

Place the vegetable oil and onion in a medium pot, over medium heat. Once the oil heats up, simmer for about five minutes until the onions are soft and pale yellow. Mix often to prevent the onions from browning. Add the garlic and curry leaves, if using, and simmer for another two minutes, or until garlic becomes fragrant. Add the curry paste and tomato paste and mix well. Add the split peas, six cups of broth (or water), kafir lime, lime zest, ginger and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain simmer, cover, and simmer for about an hour, or until the peas are fully cooked and almost falling apart. Remove the peas from the heat and let cool.

In a blender mix the peas with coconut milk, lime juice and one cup of broth (or water). Process until smooth and creamy. (At this point the dish will have the consistency of very thick cream soup, if you like it thinner, feel free to add a bit more broth or water.) Pour the soup into a clean pot and place over medium heat to warm up. Remove the pot from the stove once the soup is warm but not too hot. Pour the soup into individual plates, top with lobster tail halves and serve.

Serves 8

Lobster with Ginger-Lime Mayonnaise and Basil Aioli

* 2-4 cooked lobsters
* 1/2 cup ginger-lime mayonnaise (see recipe below)
* 1/2 cup basil aioli (see recipe below) 

Not a rocket science -- arrange everything on a platter and serve. And it is not a secret, I like the lobster better with yolk emulsions than with butter. Possibilities are endless -- think grapefruit aioli, or chipotle mayo, caper and anchovy is not bad either, and mango mayonnaise is mighty awesome...

Ginger-Lime Mayonnaise

* 1 cup corn oil
* 1 1/2 tbsp grated ginger
* 1 tsp grated lime zest
* 1 egg yolk
* 1/2 tsp fine salt
* 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
* a pinch of sugar
* 2 tsp lemon juice
* 2 tsp lime juice

In a small glass bowl, mix the oil with grated ginger and lime zest. Cover and leave for at least three hours or ideally overnight.

Strain the oil and discard the ginger and lime zest. In a blender, blend together the egg, lemon and lime juice, mustard, salt, and sugar, until well combined. (Use medium speed for about 20-30 seconds.) With the motor still running, add the oil in a very slow (the slower the better) thin, steady stream and continue to blend until the mayonnaise is thick and smooth. Cover and refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Basil Aioli 

* 3 tbsp chopped basil leaves
* 3 garlic cloves
* about 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
* 1/2 tsp fine salt
* a pinch of black pepper
* 1 cup corn oil
* 1 egg yolk
* a pinch of sugar
* 1 tsp lemon juice
* 3 tsp white wine vinegar

In a mortar, combine the garlic, basil leaves, salt, pepper and one to two teaspoons of olive oil. Pound until you make a smooth paste (it might take a while, about 10 minutes or so). As you pound, add a teaspoon of olive oil once in a while, as needed, to get the things moving around in the mortar.

In a blender, blend together the egg, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, sugar and pepper, until well combined. (Process on medium speed for about 20-30 seconds.) With the motor still running, add the oil in a very slow (the slower the better) thin, steady stream and continue to blend until the mayonnaise is thick and smooth. Add the basil pesto, and pulse a couple of times until fully combined. Cover and refrigerate for an hour before serving. 


  1. I can't believe you didn't get your red knob stove, well you did get a new kitchen and thats wonderful. I do love your blender, Wolf make great products and I am sure you will be very happy with it. I have never cooked a whole lobster, not once in my life. I doubt I ever will but I do make lobster tails. All three recipes are amazing. The Tropical cream of pea soup and lobster sounds so delicious.

    1. Oh God, you have no idea how I wanted that range... And a confession -- I am a lobster hypocrite - I cannot get myself to drop them alive into the boiling water, and that hit in the head is even worse. I usually have someone else do it for me, otherwise I get the lobsters from the fishmongers at the Union Square. Have you tried them? They are by far the best lobsters in the City!

  2. I love that you have your red button now! The lobster-fest looks amazing, wow.

  3. Everything is nice in your pictures, and this mighty red button... Sometimes you get what you want, sometimes you get what you need.

    1. You are so right, I am not sure that I would like to be in a place where one can get everything one wants. Then there would be no room for desires. Makes wanting much more precious :)

  4. Wow, what beautiful, creative recipes!!


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