New England Inspired Sunday Family Dinner

Lobster-tinis

And it all started with these at our New England inspired Sunday Family Dinner.

Don’t they look ridiculous? RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME!

When we began toying around menu themes for October’s Sunday Family Dinner, my seester T was hell-bent on a New England spread that featured these beauties—

LOBSTER MARTINIS!

October 2013 Family Dinner

Now before you cringe, I recognize that these cocktails aren’t for everyone. But if you, like many of us, enjoy a deliciously dirty–extra dirty martini, then you’ll adore these.

The Lobster Martinis are made with vodka, lemon juice and most importantly— “lobster essence”.  Lobster essence is an incredibly concentrated lobster stock that is slowly reduced down until it creates liquid lobstah goodness!

Throw it all in a shaker over ice and shake-shake-shake before straining into a glass that’s been garnished with a lobstah claw. Divine!

As for the food, we kept things actually quite low key. Nothing crazy elaborate but just darn delicious. And since we were in New England, we had to have Crab Cakes!

Crab Cakes

Instead of larger patties that I usually make, I formed little cakes so we could nibble on while we put out the other dishes. Click here for the recipe

And in case you’re wondering, my family has Minnesota roots and it’s where I was born. So although we’re struggling this season, we HAD to represent our Vikings as they played those dang cheeseheads that day.

October 2013 Family Dinner

Next up– White Clam Pizza!

Now here’s my confession. We kind of had a crazy morning the day of our Fam-Din and I initially forgot to pick up the fresh clams. So I scrambled to the grocery store with my niece Nina and fixed that problem. After all, what’s a Fam-Din without a snafu or two?

Speaking of Nina, she pretty much took charge of this entire dish. I say this all of the time but when most teenagers struggle with making a peanut butter sandwich, our nieces are fixing up dishes like paella and artisan pizzas. We’re so proud!!!

And the pizza was scrumdiddlyumptious!

Clam Pizza

I just adore our munchkins and can’t wait for our other little ones — Luna and Leo–to come back for the holidays.

October 2013 Family Dinner

What’s a New England menu without Lobstah Rolls?!

Lightly dressed and overflowing with lobstah glory–just perfect!

Lobster Rolls

Mo’ lobstah, mo’ betta’!

Huh…maybe that will be the name of my next food blog? :)

October 2013 Family Dinner

And finally, dessert.

Boston Cream Pie!

But I hope you’re pronouncing “Boston” like a true New Englander.

Say it with me now! Baaah-stin’

Boston Cream Pie

Seester P worked with Nini and Maya to create this Boston Cream Pie using a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. And if you’ve ever attempted an America’s Test Kitchen recipe, you know how laborious it can be—-delicious, but laborious.

October 2013 Family Dinner

So I was so impressed with how meticulous Nini and Maya took each step as they created it. It resulted in a wonderful sponge cake filled with a beautiful pastry cream and then coated with a thin layer of ganache. YUM!

Wicked awesome, yea?

October 2013 Family Dinner

A close to another delicious and food coma induced Sunday Family Dinner –that’s a wrap!

N’awlins Seafood Boil for Sunday Family Dinner & Cajun Crab Puffs

Cajun Crab Puffs

In May, we began our new tradition of Sunday Family Dinners. And although each month has been wonderful, September was a milestone as it was the first dinner that all of my siblings and their families were in attendance. My brother and his family were in from NYC and my sister from SF came down….it was a full house!

Sunday Family Dinner

With all the sibs in attendance, we needed to have an epic Sunday Family Dinner. The theme for our dinner was a N’awlins inspired Seafood Boil! Crabs, Lobsters, Prawns, Crawfish, Calamari, Clams, Oysters— OH MY! We seriously threw down over 50 pounds of seafood!

Sunday Family Dinner

For dessert, my sister P, whipped up fresh beignets showered with powdered sugar and served with homemade Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream. The beignets were so beautifully tender and crispy…. and the ice cream was To Die For.

Sunday Family Dinner

My contribution for the night were these little appetizers that I was initially going to call Baby Po’Boys but have since changed the name to Cajun Crab Puffs. These little buggers were TASTY! The crab was wonderfully sweet and paired well with the spicy aioli. The tomato and scallions gave a bright, fresh note and c’mon…who doesn’t love flaky, butter puff pastry?!

Sunday Family Dinner

But as decadently delicious as everything was, it was just incredible to have everyone under one roof again. The kids were running around and they even made personalized “seafood bibs” for each of us out of trash bags. Adorable and quite useful!

And although it was a bit chaotic (c’mon, what family shinding isn’t?), it was the epitome of why we started Sunday Family Dinners in the first place.

Cajun Crab Puffs

ps. These Cajun Crab Puffs were really yummy and easy to pull together. With the holidays now in full swing, they would be a great appetizer for any party you may be having.

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Cajun Crab Puffs

Ingredients:

½ tablespoon minced garlic
1 large egg yolk
½ tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
6 ounces lump crab
2-3 pinches cayenne powder
1 cup cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped chives (although I used scallions)

Prepare the aioli. Add garlic, egg yolk, and lemon juice into a blender. Pulse several times until the items have blended together. Turn the blender on low and slowly stream in the olive oil. Continue to blend until all of the oil has been used and the consistency reaches a thick consistency. Blend in the hot sauce and Old Bay. Check for seasonings and adjust with kosher salt and pepper as needed. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Take the sheet of puff pastry and cut squares about 1½ inch in diameter. Bake the squares for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on wire racks. Once cooled, slice each square in half.

Season the lump crab with cayenne powder.

Begin assembling the puffs. Take one half of a puff pastry square and top with a slice of tomato and a spoonful of crab. Drizzle some of the aioli on top of the crab and then garnish with chives. Top with the other half of the puff pastry square. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and serve.

Lobstah, Lobstah…..Lobster Rolls!

Lobster Rolls

With every trip to NYC, I must stop by Luke’s to pick up a Lobstah Roll. So flippin’ good, I can hardly stand it!!

Their lobstah is lightly seasoned and has just a tad of mayo to hold things together. Wonderfully straightforward and showcases the sweet flavor of the meat. And of course, the decadent lobstah is enveloped in a buttery, toasted, New England-style bun. Lightly crunchy on the outside and soft in the inside.

Ermahgerd…..

Lobster Rolls

In the spirit of Luke’s, I was inspired to throw down a few Lobstah Rolls myself. I kept things simple but you can add in minced celery, avocados, lettuce, or heck–even MORE lobster! I jammed my rolls with so much lobstah meat that you could barely pick it up. Trust me, it’s a good problem to have.

I also cooked my own lobstahs but if it makes you a bit squeamish, feel free to pick up some pre-cooked meat from a trusted fish monger. Either way, you’re going to want to make these beauties because……

Wait–do you really need a reason? HECK NO—They’re Lobstah Rolls! Drools.

And with that Friends, Happy Friday!!!

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Lobster Rolls
Makes 2 rolls

Ingredients:

½ pound lobster meat, mix of both tail and claw
1½ tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped chives (more for garnish)
2 -3 pinches cayenne pepper
2 top-split hot dog buns
2 tablespoons melted butter
lemon wedges

Chop the lobster meat into ½ inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Gently mix in the mayonnaise, celery salt, black pepper, chives and cayenne. Set aside.

Heat a cast iron skillet or pan and brush the exterior of the buns with the melted butter. Toast the buns on both sides. Fill the buns with the lobster mixture and sprinkle additional chives on top (optional). Serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side.

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese because it’s my Blogiversary!

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

My how time flies……

In the past three years, I left a comfortable job and moved to a brand new city. My family has welcomed a few new additions and have had our share of ups and downs. I’ve celebrated milestones with friends and loved ones and have stumbled upon great adventures.

And of course, three years ago I started this blog.

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

I can hardly believe how a quick decision one “wine-induced” night has catapulted me into a wonderful world of food and self-exploration.

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

This experience has introduced me to the food blogging community—a group of folks who are so supportive and generous. And I have been extended wonderful projects to participate in–which I still find so mind boggling! Not too shabby for this home cook :)

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

After three years, I am still so grateful. Thanks to my loved ones who serve as my steady food testers and inspiration.

And Thanks to you All for your continued support of The Culinary Chronicles. I promise, there’s a lot more to come.

ps. To celebrate, try out my Lobster Macaroni and Cheese. Comforting and a bit decadent…just how I like my food.

Happy Foodventures!

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Lobster Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 6

Ingredients:

¾ Pound Elbow Pasta
2½ Cups Whole Milk
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
4 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Gruyere Cheese, shredded
1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 Cup Fontina Cheese, cubed
½ Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/8 Teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg
Kosher Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
10 Ounces Cooked Lobster Meat, tail and claw
½ Cup Toasted Panko Breadcrumbs
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoon Fresh Chives, diced

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Heavily salt the water and cook the pasta for 8-10 minutes until it is just shy of al dente. Drain well and set aside.

In a small saucepan, add the milk and bring to a slow simmer.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt the butter and vegetable oil together over medium-low heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk for about 2-3 minutes to allow the flour to cook. Whisk in the hot milk and continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Remove the pot from heat and add in the Gruyere, Cheddar Cheese and Fontina. Stir until the cheeses have melted and then add in the red pepper flakes, nutmeg, kosher salt and black pepper. Add in the pasta and lobster and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into a greased 9×9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the top with Panko and Parmesan Cheese. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and bake in a 400 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chives over the baked dish.