Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Farmhouse Lobster Bisque

We're calling this Lobster Bisque "Farmhouse" not because we are farming lobsters, but because this bisque includes ingredients that are always on hand at our farmhouse. The soup includes bacon, which we cured and smoked here at our farmhouse. The bacon is from the Red Waddle pigs we pasture raised behind the farmhouse. The vegetables and herbs are from the garden, and many of the ingredients, like the roasted garlic and fresh tomato juice, are really great ingredients that I prepped this fall for dishes like this one. "Farmhouse" might signify; a little rough around the edges. It could translate as; wholesome and home grown. Right now, a few words that come to mind when I think of farmhouse: snow, wind-chill, and rosy cheeks. This bisque was a necessity to combat the elements.

Because this bisque has the word "Farmhouse" in front of it, it is less intimidating to make. I used what I had on hand, Jameson instead of brandy for instance. I used a sparing amount of fresh rosemary to add that hint of pine, which surround the farmhouse and whose branches are heavily burdened with snow. A bit of fresh lemon zest adds a pick-me-up and freshens up those hearty, woodsy, farmhouse-y flavors. It's a favorite for the Holidays! Merry Christmas and Happy Farmhouse Lobster Bisque!!


1/2 cup bacon, diced
In a heavy bottomed stock pot, brown the bacon. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside (the bacon will be used later as a sort of 'bacon crouton' to garnish the soup). In the remaining bacon fat sauté over medium heat:

1 leek, sliced
1 carrot, chopped
2 TBLS roasted garlic cloves
1 lobster tail shell, meat removed, and set aside (Yes, just the shell!)

When all of the above ingredients have just started to brown, add:

1 shot of Jameson
4 cups water
1 cup fresh tomato juice
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
a pinch of chili flakes
1 tsp lemon zest

Bring all of the ingredients to a boil, then lower the heat to a slow simmer. Allow to simmer until the liquids have reduced by half. Remove the shell, or leave it in (I leave it in and strain the stock several times), and blend in a blender until completely blended. Strain the lobster stock back into the stock pot. Add :

salt to taste
1 cup heavy cream

Bring the bisque to a low simmer, tasting and adjust the seasonings as needed. Thicken the soup with a roux. I used about 3 TBLS butter and 3 TBLS flour for my roux, sautéed together until a very light golden brown starts to happen. Whisk the roux into the soup, and allow the soup the simmer on low heat for another 10 minutes. When the bisque has thickened, taste and adjust seasonings. At this point I added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a touch more salt. If the soup seems a bit on the thick side, add a splash more cream. At this very last second of the bisque being hot and lowly simmering, I add the lobster meat, which I've diced. It only needs but a moment to simmer in the bisque. After about 30 seconds, it is done. No joke- don't simmer that lobster for any longer!

Ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with the crisped bacon. I happened to have scallion pesto on hand, so a dollop of that garnished it as well. I like this soup with a chunk of crusty bread, on a cold winter's night, or on a lazy Sunday afternoon when I have time to dabble in the kitchen. Enjoy! Belly up!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Wheat free Buttermilk Biscuits with Leaf Lard

There is a great cookbook out there by Kim Boyce called, 'Good to the Grain'. The book features alternative flours with recipes to go along, so you can test each of the different flours in something wonderful you've baked in your kitchen. There are cookies, waffles, scones, muffins and many more treats to test out in your kitchen. The book is a great reference guide to the flavor profiles of each of the individual flours, and what to pair those flours with. It's wonderful! I have been using the book often while experimenting with wheat free cooking. The cookbook is not gluten free baking, so if that is what you're looking for, this book is not that at all. The book explores the varieties of flours that are out there, sometimes the history and nutritional value of each, and flavor pairings. Again, it is wonderful!! There is a multigrain flour recipe included in 'Good to the Grain'. I love it! I have made alterations to the original and it is included below. The more flours I taste, the more I want to include them in the mix. It's a good problem to have.

As with the Cranberry relish recipe, I promised to share a wheat free biscuit recipe using Leaf lard. I'm really doing it! I made these biscuits with the Leaf lard rendered from our pastured pigs. It is GREAT! I also added in some bonus bacon bits and butter toasted pecans for good measure. I wouldn't steer you wrong! These biscuits will blow the minds of your Holiday guests this season. Go biscuit power!!

2 cups multigrain flour mix*
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 TBLS baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 TBLS unsalted butter, cubed
3 TBLS Leaf lard
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup chopped, cooked bacon
1/4 cup butter toasted pecans, chopped*

* Multigrain flour mix: 1 cup spelt flour, 1 cup oat flour, 1 cup barley flour, 1/2 cup rye flour, 1/2 cup almond flour. Combine all of the flours together in a large bowl, mix thoroughly, and substitute in your favorite baking recipes!

* To butter toast the pecans, simply add 1 TBLS salted butter to a skillet over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the pecans and stir until the pecans smell toasty and nutty. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool and chop.

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients. Work in the butter, until the cubes turn into pea sized bits. Now work in the lard. The lard sort of melts into the dough quickly, so it doesn't require much working in. Mix in the pecans and bacon. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk. Stir together until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and pat into a 1 1/2  inch thick disk. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits, and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. With the remaining scraps of dough, gently press them together and cut out a few more biscuits. Brush the tops with buttermilk and sprinkle with smoked sea salt if desired.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 8-12 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown. For best results, serve warm! Belly up!!

Mom's Cranberry Relish

The Holiday season is in full force. It makes me want to hang Christmas lights everywhere, go sledding, and eat a lot of sugar in any form. I love it, and I have done all three of those activities a whole bunch!! Hurray for so much snow, you don't even know what to do- except go sledding! Right now though, I am contemplating if I may have overdosed on the 'consumption of sugar' part of the Holiday spirit I am rolling with. It happens to everyone, right? You start baking cookies like nobodies business (for your friends of coarse), and the next thing you know you've got nothing left to show for it but a platter full of crumbs. Every time! Geez!

There is one solution. My Mom's cranberry relish recipe. It's a cure all. It's a whole lot of raw fruits chopped together to make an amazingly healthy and delicious relish. We pretend that if you eat it after over consuming cookies, it will even it all out. Mentally. Maybe. I meant to post the recipe before Thanksgiving, but I was too busy living life. So here it is now. It is a great relish for Christmas dinner too!

Mom's Cranberry Relish

1 16 oz pkg fresh cranberries
2 cups fresh pineapple, peeled and chopped
2 medium sized, crisp- fleshed apples, roughly chopped (Honey crisp works great)
1 medium sized orange, zested, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 cup sugar or 1/3 cup honey, optional
1/2 tsp orange oil, optional

Soak the cranberries in a large bowl or kitchen sink with a dash of vinegar for about 10 minutes, picking out any bad cranberries. Also wash the apples and orange.

Using a food processor chop, in batches, the cranberries, pineapple, apples, and orange. Place the chopped ingredients in a large bowl. Add the sugar or honey to your desired sweetness. Mix thoroughly. Add the orange zest and the orange extract if using. Refrigerate until use. The relish is best made a few days ahead of time and refrigerated to let all of the juices and flavors mingle and get happy together.  You can fold this relish into quick bread or muffins, eat it atop a ham sandwich with mayo and arugula, or straight up to mentally balance all of the cookies you've consumed. Belly up!!