Lobster Mac and Cheese with Fresh Chives, Pimente d’Espelette

North Atlantic lobster meat, organic, whole wheat macaroni, aged Vermont white and cloth-bound cheddar, fresh cream, chives and pimente d’Espelette..

Lobster Mac and Cheese

1/2 pound organic, whole wheat macaroni
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup shell stock
blond roux as needed
1-1/2 tablespoons good sherry (not cooking sherry!)
1/2 pound aged white cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 pound extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
1/4 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
1-1/2 tablespoons pimente d’Espelette
3 tablespoons fresh chives or slivered green onion tops
3/4 pound lobster meat, poached
1/2 cup organic panko
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Prepare macaroni according to package instructions, but reduce cooking time by 2 minutes.  Drain pasta (don’t rinse) and set aside.

Lightly poach lobster meat until a little underdone in simmering water with a little fresh lemon juice,a tablespoon of butter and some fresh parsley.  Remove from heat, drain and transfer the lobster meat to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.  Set aside.

Add cream, stock, sherry and nutmeg together in a heavy saucepan. Heat just until tiny bubbles come to the surface, but do not let it boil.  Whisk in just enough roux so that the sauce coats and clings to the back of a wood spoon.  Remove from heat.

Fold in cheeses, chives, pasta, pimente d’Espelette and lobster. Adjust seasoning with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.

Turn mixture out into a small skillet or individual gratin dishes. Sprinkle lightly with panko and place into a 375 degree oven until bubbly and cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.

Sprinkle lightly with additional chives/green onions and chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Buffalo-Roasted Cauliflower, Buttermilk Bleu Cheese Dressing

Fresh cauliflower is cut into florets, misted with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.  Slow-roasted until tender-crisp and brown, then dressed with Buffalo sauce (equal proportions of Frank’s Hot Sauce and melted butter, with a dash of vinegar) and returned to the oven for a few more minutes to glaze.

Served hot with a cooling combination of crumbled bleu cheese, buttermilk, shaved celery, sour cream, chives, parsley and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice..

“Cauliflower is very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium and Manganese.”  –NutritionData

Choux de Bruxelles Gratiné

Tender baby Brussels sprouts get the royal treatment.. pan-roasted in bacon fat with onions and lightly drizzled with champagne vinegar, then bathed in seasoned Béchamel and topped with shredded Cantal entre deux, hickory-smoked bacon and fresh breadcrumbs with parsley..

For the Béchamel

2-1/2 cups fresh, whole milk
2 ounces cold roux blanc (recipe follows)
a pinch of freshly-grated nutmeg
fine sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Heat the milk in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan until simmering, then whisk in bits of roux one at a time, incorporating each one before adding the next.  This will help to ensure that the sauce is creamy and without lumps. Add the nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

For the Roux Blanc

3 ounces organic flour (can use soaked or sprouted flour if desired)
2 ounces clarified butter or ghee

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat then whisk in the flour. Continue whisking and cooking until past the raw flour taste and completely smooth in texture, maybe 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

For the Brussels Sprouts

1 pound baby Brussels sprouts
6 thick slices uncured, hickory-smoked bacon
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar

Rinse the Brussels sprouts in cold water, then peel off the outermost layer of leaves and trim off the stem. Split the larger sprouts in half lengthwise, leaving the smallest ones whole.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet until well-browned and crisp, then transfer to the side to drain and pour of all but about 1 tablespoon of the the fat.

Add  the Brussels sprouts and butter to the pan and cook until the cut edges begin to brown.  Add the onion and continue to cook, stirring often until the onions are brown and the Brussels sprout are crisp/tender, maybe 8 minute. Remove from heat, add vinegar and toss to coat.

Use a slotted spoon the transfer the cooked vegetables to a casserole dish and pour the béchamel over the top.

Add a layer of shredded Cantal, then arrange bacon pieces over the top.

Add a light layer of fresh breadcrumbs and chopped parsley.

Place casserole in a 375 degree oven and cook until brown and bubbling, about 15 minutes.  Serve hot.

Mac & Cheese with Smoked Ham and Roasted Poblano

Classic comfort food on cold and rainy day.

Organic macaroni, extra sharp Vermont white cheddar, extra sharp Wisconsin yellow cheddar, caramelized onions, heirloom garlic, smoked ham, roasted poblano peppers and local, pastured half & half.  Seasoned with sea salt, black pepper and Piment d’Espelette, topped with fresh breadcrumbs and baked until golden brown and bubbly..

Chili/Beer-Battered Fish Tacos

Wild Alaskan cod filets are soaked in a batter of corn flour, beer and chile molido (ground chile pods without additives), then quickly fried in oil and served Baja-style in a warm tortilla with a salad of blanched cabbages with freshly-squeezed lime and sea salt.  Topped with a dab of crema Mexicana and salsa and served piping hot..

Chili/Beer-Battered Fish Tacos

For the Batter

2/3 cup organic corn flour
1/4 cup organic all-purpose flour
1 pastured egg
2 teaspoons chile molido
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1 bottle beer (not dark)

Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Whisk in the beer and egg.  Rinse and pat dry inch-thick pieces of cod (or other firm, white fish), place in the batter and refrigerate 1 hour before frying.

“Real Baja fish tacos are nothing like what you’re used to eating when it comes to Mexican food.  In fact, true Mexican cuisine might be our biggest missed chance.  Satisfied by the (admittedly tasty) Tex-Mex-style with its copious cheese, sour cream, pile-it-on technique, we are missing a world of subtlety shot through with spicy excitement, flavors that emphasize festivity and celebration, not fullness and indulgence–a rich tradition of indigenous techniques influences by European sensibilities, infused with a penchant for bold flavors.”  –The Paupered Chef