Cousin Jeff’s Bermudian Lobster Risotto

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Cousin Jeff’s backyard view.

So, a few months ago my cousin Jeff moved to Bermuda. I know, right? He keeps posting all these ridiculous photographs on Facebook (see above), and talking about all the delicious, fresh seafood. Apparently, Bermuda also has avocados the size of eggplants.

Since I’ve been on a bit of hiatus here since starting grad school, I asked Jeff if I could post his lobster with pesto and risotto recipe. The lobsters show below were from his local fish truck, and went straight home and into the pot. The result sounds amazing. Test it yourself, and tell me what you think in the comments! I’ll pass them on to the cook, if he’s not too busy soaking up the Caribbean sun and being a gourmand.

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The very same lobster. Well, one of ’em.

Here are Cousin Jeff’s instructions:

Take a whole lobster (mine was a spiny, so I broke it down out of the shell and cut it into cubes), poach it in olive oil and Irish salted butter. [Here’s an overview of how to boil a lobster, if you’re not experienced.] I used the whole shell for the lobster stock, boiling it for about 2 hours with the lobster water and additional water. Meanwhile, Dice a small onion (tangerine size), 3 cloves of garlic (minced), 3 cups of finely chopped kale. Sweat these vegetables in about a table spoon of olive oil. Mix in about a cup of white wine (I drank the rest of the bottle), then added 2 cups of risotto and covered it with the stock. Cooked it down 3 times, adding more water each time, along with some cayenne and grated parmesan to taste. Finally, whip up a fresh basil pesto with chopped onions, olive oil, and garlic butter. Put the pesto into a baggie and chill it, then cut the corner and use it as a pastry bag to garnish.

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Cousin Jeff’s Bermudian Lobster Risotto

Images courtesy Cousin Jeff.

Buttered Sage Butternut Squash Mash

How’s that for a mouthful?

How about this, then?

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1 large butternut squash
2 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
handful fresh sage
~1 Tbsp heavy cream
salt, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Wash the squash well and place it on a cookie sheet or baking tray in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes. No need to poke with a fork.

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2. Remove squash from oven. Let cool for about 10-15 minutes, then slice with a large knife. I quarter mine for easy scooping. Spoon out the seeds and guts and toss. Peel away skin (it should be bubbled and loose) and toss.

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3. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and sage and fry for about 3 minutes, until the garlic is golden and fragrant, but not burned, and the sage is just crispy. Reduce heat to low; add squash. Continue to cook until squash is warm throughout, just a couple of minutes. Add cream and stir.

4. Scrape the entire contents of the pan into a food processor, being careful to get any and all bits of garlic and sage. Purée. Return to pan and stir gently over low heat for another couple of minutes, then serve immediately.

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SO easy, rich, and delicious! You get all the flavor of butternut squash without the hassle; I enjoy this with simple, pan-fried pork sausage, sautéed in a splash of red wine.

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Serves 2.

Just scale up for more servings. I suggest making two at a time.

Cheesy Chile-Spiced Polenta with Habanero-Infused Olive Oil

Cheesy Chile-Spiced Polenta

We’ve been eating a lot of polenta around here lately.  I thought it was time to expand my ground cornmeal palate beyond my Horseradish Cheese Grits and my Dijon Cheesy Grits (read this if you’re confused about the difference between polenta and grits and masa).

I finally ran out of Henry Langdon’s amazing Sea Salt Rub (as featured in my Shrimp and Grits recipe); my pals Mike and Laura brought a big jar of it back from their trip to Australia a few years back, and it was like magic cooking dust.  I wish I had some more (hint, hint, Shalini).  In the meantime, here’s my attempt at replicating its flavor profile with some rich, cheesy polenta, which, it turns out, is the perfect vehicle for the
Habanero-Infused Olive Oil
we made after our recent, massive chile harvest.

Make a whole big batch of this and then enjoy it reheated for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

2 cups polenta
8 cups water
4 Tbsp butter
1 tsp prepared horseradish sauce
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 tsp fresh cilantro, finely diced
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp dried and chopped kaffir lime leaves
sea salt, or to taste
Habanero-Infused Olive Oil, to taste

1. Bring water to boil in a large saucepan with a little salt.

2. Add polenta. Stir, and reduce heat to simmer. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes, or until water has been absorbed.

3. Remove pan from heat. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir thoroughly until well-mixed. Taste and salt as desired.

4. Spoon out and serve immediately, drizzled with
Habanero-Infused Olive Oil
, or spoon polenta into a bowl, refrigerate, and serve later in slices. You could also use the firmed-up leftovers for my Fried Polenta with Creamy Mushrooms.

Or you could top it with homemade bacon bits.

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Habanero-Infused Olive Oil

Habanero-Infused Olive Oil

Check out this habanero-infused olive oil we threw together after our recent, massive chile harvest. Spicy! I’m hooked!

~2 cups extra virgin olive oil
4-6 fresh habanero chiles, washed

1. Wear latex gloves.

2. Choose a cutting board that is not super-absorbent (such as glass), or, even better, have a dedicated chile-cutting board. You could also line your cutting board with a plastic bag, being careful not to pierce the bag when cutting. Slice habaneros as desired and set cutting board aside.

3. Fill a glass container (Mason jar, recycled and washed olive oil or salad dressing bottle) half full (or so) with olive oil. Add the peppers to the olive oil, leaving some room for air at the top.

4. Wrap a paper towel or cheesecloth around the mouth of the jar and secure with twine (don’t use a rubber band!). Microwave the oil on high for a few seconds, watching closely, or until it comes just to a near-boil—just bubbling. Do not let the olive oil boil, or you will have a huge mess on your hands.

5. If you used a paper towel for the cover, remove it and replace with a fresh one. Turn the bottle or jar upside down and drain the oil into another container (any material will do—I used a Martha Steward plastic fridge containers!). Place in the refrigerator upside-down and allow the oil to cool until it’s solid. Discard chile hulls and seeds; we use ours for compost.

6. Remove the container and pour off any water that has separated. Allow the olive oil to return to liquid form at room temperature. Pour the infused oil back into the glass container and put the lid on. Eccola! Habanero-infused olive oil!

Mmm.

Habanero-Infused Olive Oil

I added a couple more slices to this, for extra kick and pretty presentation!

Lemon Garlic Pasta with Grilled Chicken

Lemon Garlic Pasta with Grilled Chicken

We’ve been watching a lot of Giada De Laurentiis lately, thanks to the giant flat screen TV my mother bought us for Christmas, along with the new DVR we’re paying way too much for. I’ve been a fan of my fellow five-foot foodie for a while, but she’s really been on a lemon kick lately. I recently bought a whole bag of lemons at Central Market (mainly with cocktails in mind), so all that sharp footage of lemon sauces, lemon parfaits, lemon chicken, and lemon cookies inspired me to create this simple recipe.

On Memorial Day, we made her Lemon-Cumin Chicken on the grill out by the pool, so we had some of that left over. You could use plain baked chicken breasts, pan-fried chicken, or shredded roast chicken for this recipe; whatever you prefer or have on hand. The added flavor of the grilled crust, marinated in cumin and lemon juice, really added something special to the final dish, though. Try it sometime.

This simple, bright recipe is a good pasta dish for summer; it’s creamy comfort food without being too heavy, and pairs well with chicken, shrimp, salmon, or grilled portobello mushrooms.

4 grilled chicken breasts, sliced
1 lb. capelli d’angelo pasta (angel hair)
olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
zest of two lemons
juice of two lemons
1 cup heavy cream (or sour cream)
1 heaping Tbsp flour
salt, to taste
1 tsp black pepper, or to taste
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste

1. Fill a large stock pot with water, salt liberally, and add a splash of olive oil (about 1 teaspoon). Bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook for approximately five minutes, or until al dente. Test a strand to see if it’s done; if not, boil for an additional minute.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter and add sliced chicken, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for about five minutes, until chicken is warmed through and garlic is fragrant but not burned. Add the lemon zest and juice, and cook for about two additional minutes, stirring constantly. Drizzle in cream, stirring while doing so, then add flour. Mix in with a light hand until flour is well absorbed into the sauce, and a thicker consistency begins to form. Reduce heat to low. Taste and re-season as needed.

3. Drain pasta and return to pan. Lightly toss with a little olive oil (about 1 tablespoon). Using a slotted pasta fork, plate the pasta. Pour the chicken and lemon garlic sauce out over each helping, and serve immediately.
Lemon Garic Pasta with Grilled Chicken

These pictures don’t really do justice to this dish; it’s way tastier than they make it look! I also went a bit nuts with the pasta portions sizes. Anyway, try it, and let me know what you think! If you like lemon infused savory dishes, I bet you’ll love it, too!