Saturday, June 23, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb mousse pie

  Summer is official here, and one ingredient that is synonymous with summer to me is rhubarb. It wont be long before those delicious red stalks disappear from store shelves, so now is the time to take advantage of them. Around this time last year, I posted a recipe for apple maple rhubarb jam as well as a recipe for breaded pork chops to go with it.
    This time round I'm posting a recipe for a rhubarb dessert. I loves me some strawberry rhubarb pie, so I thought it would fun to post the twist on that great summer classic. The idea came about when the chef from Chez ma Grosse Truie Chéri and I were tossing around ideas for the new dessert menu. We both agreed that rhubarb was a great summer flavour, but we didn't want to do a straight forward strawberry rhubarb pie. The best thing about this recipe is that it's meant to be served cold, so it's extra refreshing on a hot summer's day. You can even freeze the pies. The different textures as the mousse and jam slowly defrosts is really cool and delicious.
       If you want you can use the same recipe given here to make one large pie, but I just find the little individual pies really cute, and I'm kinda a sucker for such things. If you can't find rhubarb, or are just not a fan of the tart flavour, you can easily replace the rhubarb with more strawberries or other fruits like blueberries or raspberries.

Start to finish: 1 hour. Makes 6 individual portion pies.


Shortbread crust:

1/2 lbs butter, cubed
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 egg yolks
2 pinch salt

1 1/2 cup strawberries
1 1/2 cups rhubarb
1 cup sugar
2 tbs gelatin
1 cup 35% whipping cream

1. To make the crust, mix the butter with the sugar & salt until well combined. Stir in the egg yolks and then mix in the flour one cup at a time. Mix until the dough is crumbly. Press the dough into 6 mini aluminum pie shells. Transfer the shells to the freezer for about 20 minutes to allow the dough to harden.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 350F and then bake the shells until they just start to brown, about 20-25 minutes.

3. To make the filling, combine the strawberries, rhubarb and sugar in a pot and add a few drop of water. Simmer on medium-low heat until the fruit is very soft, about 20 to 30 minutes.

4. Mix the gelatin with 4 tablespoons water and stir well. Allow the filling to cool a bit and then puree with a blender. As the puree blends, add the gelatin. Allow the puree cool down to room temperature.

5. To make the mousse, whip the cream until in holds stiff peaks. Gently fold in half the fruit puree.

6. Once the pie shells have cooled, fill each shell halfway up with fruit puree. Top each pie with mousse and then garnish with one fresh strawberry.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lobster Salad

                  This dish is a perfect example where less is definitely more. Lobster is such an amazing ingredient that you really don't want to do too much to it. I love the classic lobster salad with mayo and so here I've taken that idea and moved it just a small step forward by using a tangy homemade ranch dressing in place of the regular mayo.
   To keep things as simple as possible, I put my lobster salad on a bed of Boston lettuce with just some cherry tomatoes and avocado. The richness of the avocado blends very well with the lobster salad and the buttery Boston lettuce is the perfect match for the ranch dressing.
   For this dish, you can use pre-cooked lobsters from the fish market or grocery store. Because it's served cold, you won't have to worry about overcooking your pre-cooked lobster. That said, I would still opt for buying live lobsters and then cooking and chilling them myself, because especially with lobster, freshness makes all the difference.
    The trickiest part of this recipe is making the buttermilk ranch dressing. If you opt to buy a good quality store bought dressing and pre-cooked lobster, you can put this whole salad together in under 10 minutes. If you have a bit more time on your hands, it's well worth making your own ranch dressing. The recipe here yields about two cups dressing, much more than you will need for the salad in this recipe. It which will keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge. One way to save a bit a time and effort in making the dressing is to use a store bought mayonnaise for the base. Instead of using egg yolks, mustard and oil, take some regular mayo and then jazz it up with some buttermilk, sour cream, thyme and lemon juice and you will get a very respectable homemade ranch dressing.

Start to finish: 30 minutes. Serves 4


2  live lobsters
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 avocados, diced
2 heads Boston lettuce (butter lettuce)
1 cup buttermilk ranch
mustard sprouts (optional)

Buttermilk ranch dressing:

2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 clove garlic
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
(or sour cream)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon dried thyme

1. To make the buttermilk ranch: In a blender, combine the egg yolks, dijon mustard, garlic, and lemon juice and then slowly incorporate the oil in a slow steady stream. Add the remaining ingredients and blend for 1 minute more.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. The water should be as salty as the sea. Add the live lobsters, and then simmer on gentle heat for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, turn off the heat and let the lobster steep in the warm water for 4 more minutes and then transfer to an ice bath. Once the lobsters have chilled, remove the tails, cut them in half lengthwise, remove the meat and roughly chop it. Use a knife or strong kitchen scissors to remove the meat from the "knuckles" next to the claw. Mix the chopped lobster meat with 1 cup ranch dressing. Crack open the claws, remove the meat and set aside.

3. Fill 4 plates with roughly chopped Boston lettuce and then top with the chopped lobster mix. Top each salad with 1 claw. Garnish each salad with cherry tomatoes, diced avocado and mustard sprouts (optional).