It’s been a while since I made one of my grandmother’s recipes so I thought I’d trot out one of her fancier ones: lobster!
As a reminder, she wrote out her recipes over the course of a summer she spent with my parents and me at our house off of her memory. Over the course of making these recipes, I have realized that she leaves a lot of information out and, the farther into her notes I go, the less pertinent information she included! Such as this recipe*, as she wrote it:
- Bouillir le homard, moudre, assaisoner, ajouter 1 gde cuillere de buerre, 4 gdes cuil d’huile, 3/4 tasses de lait, 1 pain trempe.
- Bien melanger.
- Ajouter 2 oeufs battus, de la moutarde, vinaigre, oignons, persil hache, cornichons.
- Mettre dans un moule graisse.
- Boil lobster, grind, season.
- Add a large spoonful of butter, four large spoons of oil, 3/4 cups of milk, soaked bread.
- Mix well.
- Add two beaten eggs, mustard, vinegar, onions, chopped parsley, cornichons.
- Put in a greased mold.
And here’s what I actually did:
- I couldn’t find fresh or even frozen lobster at my grocery store and I didn’t feel like doing a grocery store tour, so, out of laziness, I bought three packs of fresh imitation lobster to use instead.
- I cut up half of a french baguette and soaked it in milk. At first I poured 3/4 milk into the bowl, but that didn’t cover the bread, so I poured in more milk until the bread was covered. If you like breading in your meals, then you’d probably want to use more than what I did but I am not a fan of a lot of breading.
- While the bread was soaking, I tended to the lobster. The imitation lobster came fully cooked, but I boiled it anyway in case the act of boiling was important to getting a final consistency, texture or taste.
- I ground the lobster in a food processor and then, when it was very fine, I seasoned it with salt, pepper, and a whole Sazon packet.
- Instead of a large spoonful of butter, I threw in half a stick because, mmmmm butter. I drizzled in lots and lots of olive oil until I thought I got four large spoonfuls.
- I pulsed the food processor with those ingredients to mix well, per the recipe. And then I transferred this all to a large bowl.
- I beat two eggs and added that to the large bowl. I chopped parsley, a yellow onion and 10 cornichons and added them. And now this is where that extra flavor comes in. I squeezed in a whole bunch of mustard and aged white wine vinegar. If you don’t like mustard, then skip this step or just squeeze in a little. Why aged white wine vinegar? Because that’s what I had. And because white wine and seafood go together like white on rice.
- I mixed everything together in that big bowl.
- Regarding this greased mold, I guess you could use any kind of baking dish. I decided to be funny and use a muffin pan.
- I shoved the mixture into all the muffin holes, preheated the oven to 350 degrees and then got to work on the sides.
- When in doubt about what Haitians eat, just picture rice and beans. And so that’s what I made. The dude made white Jasmine rice (the Jasmine part is not very Haitian, but I like it) in a rice cooker (also not very Haitian).
- For the beans, I opened up one can of red kidney beans and poured it into a pot on the stovetop on low heat. I opened a second can, blended all of it in a blender, then using a colander, sifted the contents of the blender into the pot on the stovetop. So now the bean mixture on the stovetop was part whole bean, part bean sauce. I seasoned it with salt, pepper and a whole packet of Sazon and let it cook on low. My parents usually season it another way but they were traveling so I couldn’t ask them. And I believe they use a spoonful of tomato paste in the beans for thickening and flavor. So I messed up – oops! – but they were still tasty.
- While the beans and rice were cooking, I placed the tray of tasty lobster mush muffins in the oven and let them brown, about 25 minutes.
Once everything was cooked, I plated our meals: two lobster “muffins” and rice and beans. And it was tasty even though it doesn’t look that pretty.
* One thing left out of this recipe is cheese, which is what constitutes a gratin. I didn’t put two and two together until halfway through this process. It still tasted great but obviously add cheese if you like that and want to make this a true gratin.