Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Peas and Carrots" -- Maine Lobster Pancakes with Pea Shoot Salad and Ginger-Carrot Emulsion

First, let's start with some good news: I got my wallet back! Woo-hoo!!!!! It was found and turned in at the Metro station four blocks from where I was robbed. All the cards (including a whopper of a Williams Sonoma gift card) were still in there, and the only cash that was left was one quarter. Hey, big spender.

Anyhoo, I couldn't be more thrilled, because now I'm a two-wallet girl. My old wallet for the regular stuff, and the new bacon wallet to hold all my gift cards and store credits in one place (because right now, they're scattered everywhere and it's annoying).

But enough about me and my accessories. Let's talk about something really important and very official and that is the fact that I am a giant nerd.

Why (this time)?

Because at the Farmer's Market on Sunday, I acutally said, "Oh yay! Pea shoots!"


Not just OUT LOUD, but also kind of loudly -- enough so that people actually turned to look at me as if I were some sort of who knows what. So to that, I say "turn back around people and pay attention to what you were doing before and let me be happy about pea shoots, or else I might have to TUSK you or something."

Actually, I'm sure the reason they turned and looked at me so strangely is because allergy season is kicking my ass, and with all this pollen my exclamation about pea shoots resembled a Harvey Fierstein stage whisper, so they probably thought they had a celebrity in their midst. What a disappointment that they turned around and it was only me. C'est la vie....

I have been dying to do this dish and the salmon dish (coming soon to an Internet near you) because they both involve pea shoots -- which, in case you didn't get it from the words I so lovingly typed above for your viewing pleasure, I love so much.

I made this dish over the course of two days. It could be done all in one, but I have a life, people. Well, not really. I just felt like spacing it out.

The first thing I did was head down to BlackSalt to pick up three lobsters:

I steeped them in boiling water, took them apart, removed the meat for use later, and was left with three lobster bodies:

I cut up the lobster bodies into about 6 pieces each, and put them in a sauté pan with some canola oil. I had them in the pan for about 5 minutes, and then added some tomato, carrots, thyme, and water.

I let this simmer for about an hour and a half. Then, I strained it into another pot, pressing against the solids to make sure all the liquid was released.

I strained the liquid again into a smaller pot, which left me with nearly 2 cups of liquid.

I put the pot o' lobster liquid over medium heat and brought it up to a lively simmer, and reduced it until I had about 2 tablespoons of a thickened glaze.

I noticed there were some solids still in the liquid toward the end, so I strained it again into a smaller pot and finished the reduction (the smell of which was so intensely wonderful, I kind of wish I could afford to do this everyday):

While this was reducing, I prepared the lobster filling. I cut the lobster meat (minus the claw tips, because the texture would detract from the rest of the meat) into a small-ish dice, and minced some shallots and chives:

I mixed this in a bowl, and added a half-cup of mascarpone, some salt and pepper, then added the 2T of the lobster glaze I'd just reduced:

I covered this and put it in the refrigerator overnight. Wanna see a close-up? Of course you do:

The next day, I set out to finish the dish. The French Laundry Cookbook suggests juicing 3 pounds of carrots for the ginger-carrot emulsion, but I don't have a juicer. And, I wasn't going to shell out $200 for one, since I know I would never, ever use it (I generally don't like juice; I'd rather just eat the fruit or vegetable on its own). So, I bought carrot juice and "infused" (infauxed?) it with some fresh, shredded carrots, as well as some fresh, shredded ginger:

I brought this mixture to a boil, then reduced it to a simmer for about 15 minutes.

When it had reduced from 2 cups to about a half a cup, I poured it through a strainer into another saucepan, then whisked in some cream and 12 tablespoons of butter (one by one), then poured it into a blender. I know that the book says not to skim or strain at this point, but I wasn't really making the "correct" version anyhow, so I kind of had to wing it and make it my own from this point on.

I blended it for about 30 seconds and kept it in the glass vessel until I was ready to plate.

The last big step was making the crèpes. Even though I was psyched about this dish because of the pea shoots, I was equally as annoyed about making crèpes. Why? Because I have a history of bad crèpe making. I never seem to get the batter done right, or they're too thick or too thin, or they just end up tasting rubbery and awful. It's really depressing, because I love crèpes. Always have. I went to France for a few weeks after graduating from college, and because we were so poor, my friends and I lived on crèpes. They were about a dollar, and you could get them from these great little crèpe carts on the streets of Paris, filled with whatever you wanted -- ham, cheese, fruit, nutella... the possibilities were endless. The heat would permeate the thin paper they were wrapped in, but on a cold and rainy afternoon, it was an added bonus. Every time I've tried to make crèpes since then has been a disaster. I expected this time to be the same, and was already concocting different final-plating plans for this dish just in case.

I mixed all the ingredients as instructed, poured the batter through a strainer, added the chives, and heated my non-stick sauté pan over low-medium heat.

I poured my first crèpe, ever so gently and tilt-ily rotated the pan and let it cook for less than a minute (probably 30-40 seconds). Then, I lifted one little bit with a small offset spatula, picked up the crèpe with my fingers, and flipped it over:

Not perfect, but not too shabby, eh? This is usually the point at which I find out they're too thin, so they fall apart... or too thick, and they plop like pancakes. This first one looked like maybe, just maybe, I knew what I was doing.

I banged out eight of these, and stacked them in between paper towels as I went:

Right before I started the crèpes, I took the lobster filling out of the fridge, so it could come closer to room temperature before I used it to fill the crèpes.

I laid a crèpe flat on a cutting board, put about 2 T of lobster filling in the center, then folded the edges of the crèpe up over the top until I had a neat, little lobster package. I made eight of them, and placed them on a baking sheet brushed with melted butter, and brushed some melted butter on the tops of the crèpes, then put them in the oven for 10 minutes until they were heated all the way through.

While they were in the oven getting warm, I made sure my ginger-carrot "emulsion" was still warm (it was), and I dressed the pea shoots with a bit of lemon olive oil, salt and some minced shallots.

To plate, I poured a little mini-pool of the ginger-carrot goodness onto the plate, topped it with a lobster-filled crèpe, then topped that with the pea shoot salad.

And, a closer look:

Guys. Gals. And everyone in between. This was freakin' fantastic. Let's start with the ginger-carrot foamy-ish extravaganza. I want soap made of this, and I also want to eat this every day for the rest of my life. If the way I did it was this good, I can't even imagine how amazing it would be to do it Keller's way. Wow. It's hearty and mellow and sharp and strong but smooth and luxurious. Paired with the lobster crèpe? Beyond amazing. Then, a bite of pea shoot along with the lobster-filled crèpe that I slathered with ginger-carrot sauce? So so so so good. Really.... I don't want to sound all haughty and obnoxious, but I was so proud of being able to make something this good.

We all gobbled it up in near-silence, with one of my most finicky tasters chowing down like there was no tomorrow.

While everyone else sat around the table getting caught up on the events of the day, I snuck into the kitchen, took the one remaining crèpe off the baking sheet and debated offering it to whoever wanted seconds. Then, I thought better of it and saved it (along with some of the ginger-carrot sauce) for myself to eat for lunch the next day. Except that I ate it at 11 o'clock that night because I just couldn't fall asleep knowing it was in my fridge, waiting to be enjoyed.

I slept 10 hours that night.

I haven't slept for 10 hours (in a row) in years.

Thanks, lobster crèpe with ginger-carrot fauxmulsion.

Up Next: Citrus-Marinated Salmon with a Confit of Navel Oranges, Beluga Caviar and Pea Shoot Coulis

Lobster from
365 canola oil and butter

Produce and most herbs from
Whole Foods
Thyme from my garden

Crave Bros. mascarpone
Lakewood organic carrot juice
Organic Valley heavy cream and whole milk
Pea shoots from
Calvert's Gift Farm
Eggs from
Smith Meadows Farm
King Arthur flour

Music to Cook By:
Rodrigo y Gabriela; Rodrigo y Gabriela. It's mesmerizing. Absolutely outstanding. I have the CD in my car and their music on my iPod in the house. It's Mexico and Central America meets Nordic-Irish-Europe with some help from the Gipsy Kings and the steady rhythm of heavy metal. I know I'm not doing it justice. Just get the album and see for yourself. I can't stop listening to it. I was so entranced listening to it in the car the other day, I missed my exit on the Beltway. Doy.

Read my previous post: French Laundry at Home Extra -- Trussing and Roasting a Chicken


Hopie said...

Wow, that sounds and looks delicious! And what did you do with the tips of the lobster claws?? Those are my favorite part ;-)

Reebs said...

Holy lobster pancakes, Batman. Wow. That one is definitely on my to-do list. Zang.

Carol Blymire said...

Hopie: I ate them as I was doing prep.

Reebs: Do it! You'll be so glad you did.

Anonymous said...

One of these days, you're going to hear a scary rattling at your door. It's going to be me, begging for you to cook something like this for me. Oh my suhweet fanny Moses, does that ever look good, fauxmulsion, or not. YUM!

And, for some reason, I'm really jealous of your filagree-ish orange potholder, and I don't even like orange. Did you get that at Maxx?

The Italian Dish said...

This just looks over the top fantastic. What a lot of work this one was, huh? Your killing me, showing a dish like this. I can only imagine how it tastes.

xtinehlee said...

O.M.G!!!! This loooks fabuloso! I want to lick my screen. I'm just so sad that HTML doesn't have a smell tag!

Kitt said...

Golly, I'm drooling! Those crepes look perfect. I've never been able to make them in a pan, but have a crepe-maker (inherited from Mom) that works pretty well.

Aren't pea shoots wonderful? You can buy a huge bag of them at Asian markets for cheap. When I spot them I always snag a bag.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, rodrigo y gabriela. Great album. Very good live too.

Anonymous said...

One of your more beautiful plates; having only made the staff lasagna and the dough-NOTS, you are really providing a great service by inspiring us to do more from the book. Cheers!

Jeanne said...

Yum! That looks fantastic.

Also, bacon wallet?

Natty said...

Here's my thought process as I read this post: "Oh, I'd be happy just to eat that reduction... just the reduction and the lobster filling... holy crap, she's putting it in a crepe... oh, now they're in the oven, I want to pop one of those in my mouth... wait, there's sauce! the sauce! Holy crap!"

I don't even like lobster but I want this.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful plate! What a lovely presentation. I have had trouble with crepes in the past and have found that stashing the batter in the fridge for 30mins before cooking makes them come out much better for me. I think it was an AB suggestion. And I was so happy to see that you left out the claw tips...I don't care for their rubbery texture and always give them away :)

Jakeymon said...

Crepes are scary. Scary good.

What is it about Paris, rain, and street crepes? I have a very similar memory from when I was there - somehow the crepes turned things from cold and miserable to bracing and inspirations... or something!

Looks like a great meal... as usual!

Erika said...

Oh, wow. That just looks great! Another one from the book that you are shaming me in to doing one day.

I'm a nerd too by the way, I saw pea sprouts at the japanese market the other day and shouted to my husband across the produce section, "Hey, now I know where to buy pea sprouts!".

Anonymous said...

At the Dupont Farmer's Market last weekend I nearly blurted out "oh, asparagus" and I was by myself. You are not alone in your nerdiness.

Amazing looking dish, you have every right to be proud. I notice you seem to use canola oil all the time, or at least a lot. Is that a rec from the cookbook, or your personal preference?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Lauren about refrigerating the crepe batter. I took a class on crepes from a French pastry chef, and he said you MUST chill the batter for at least two hours. I have had really good luck making crepes using the chilled batter, so you might want to give it a try.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to see RyG live last year - they were beyond incredible. This recipe may be the one to force me to buy the book. It will be such a relief!

Carol Blymire said...

Good advice re: chilling the crepe batter.

RT: Yes, the book advocates canola oil, and specifies when to use something else. I've now adopted that in my other cooking, as well. It's just lighter, and responds to heat better.

Sean said...

I live in Seattle where there are no lobsters (known as "the insect of the Atlantic") but there are Dungeness Crab (known as the "lobster of the Pacific"). Any thoughts on using crab instead?

-Sean Kelly

Beanie said...

I'm totally making this for my next party...not sure where I can find pea shoot round here though...might have to grow them...

Oh, and I just downloaded Rodrigo y Gabriela. Almost as yummy as this recipe is going to be!

kitoko said...

Wow. I think I will leave the cooking to you and enjoy the pictures. I have visions of lobsters screaming, so I have never cooked them at home! Great site, fabulous photos.

Catastrophysicist said...

Nice Job! I'll be staying with a friend in Maine come July, and I think I'll do this one when there. I've gotta say, though, I've always had my eye on the recipe before this one in the book-- the butter poached lobster, with the pommes maxim (which look positively impossible!) The peas and carrots seems like it would be more doable if the kitchen circumstances are challenging.

Gloria said...

I'm glad I'm not the only person who leaks culinary nerdiness. I was at Whole Foods the other day and actually *squealed* "Rhubarb!" like a total dweeb. It was pretty loud.

But I *have* been waiting and waiting for rhubarb. It's almost like, summer, or something.

Bluestem said...


Love your blog!

Chris said...

I too have blurted produce names in the store, I think though what worries the other patrons more is the barely audible muttering as I tick off items from an ingredient list or sub-vocally ponder the merits of this mushroom over another... Yeah the muttering garners reactions like the guy with the aluminum foil hat talking to the pigeons.
I see something you and I have in common Carol, a tendency to change pots mid cook for various reasons.
Beautiful post as always

krysta said...

I love Rodrigo y Gabriela. It's great cooking music and I understand how you can be entranced by the music. That meal looks bewitching. I swear I could smell the ginger and carrots.

Anonymous said...

Carol, I have to say that it is now unfair that you cannot have a smell tag for this blog. Oh my freakin' God does that look so good! I wanted to take a fork to my scren and had to wipe the drool off my keyboard. You had me at lobster with mascarpone, but then you also added the lobster glaze. And then wrapped it all in a crepe with melted butter goodness and that ginger carrot liquid heaven. Actually, I've changed my mind, its just plain cruel not to have a smell tag.

Two weeks ago at my farmers market I not only screamed about aspargus and pea shoots, but also jumped up and down while doing so. People looked at me like I was totally crazy.

No names for the lobsters this time? I was sort of hoping that this might be the sequel to Celine Dion.

michael, claudia and sierra said...

why oh why was i not there.... ???

that sounds unreal

12 T butter....

Anonymous said...

this looks brilliant!

the milliner said...

I have been wait-wait-waiting for this post since the first day I started reading your blog (almost a year ago, I think).

Peas & Carrots is our absolute most favorite dish from the French Laundry cookbook. My lovely BF cooks it for me when I ask, which is usually every birthday and some other special occasions.

We too do a 'faux-mulsion' carrot sauce as you do, for pretty much the same reasons (except that I love juice. just don't want an extra appliance in the house.)

And 12 Tbsp of butter...what's not to love! Though I must admit we've (meaning my BF) taken to making it with 6 tbsp of know, the heart healthy version.

The other substitute we (don't you love how I talk like I actually make it. ok, sometimes I help with the prep) make is crème fraiche for the mascarpone. Very good like that.

I'm also curious, because our pea shoots look totally different than the ones in your photos. They're very small - more sprout like. And very delicious with the shallots & vinaigrette.

The last time the BF made it was for Valentine's day. As I'm pregnant, can't eat the pea shoots, so he replaced them with chives instead. A pretty good substitute, but the pea shoots are better.

Haven't told him yet, but I'm thinking this should be our celebration meal for the birth of our baby. Nothing but the best for our boy. My craving has nothing to do with the idea.

God, I wish I hadn't read this post before lunch. Now whatever I eat will seem inadequate.

Nice work!

Anonymous said...

Oh man, you just ruined all the hopes I had for lunch because, suddenly, every single thing I could possibly contemplate eating now sounds like mud. Thanks Carol ;-)

amber said...

why i can't remember not to read your blog right before lunch is beyond me ;)

that looks absolutely fantastic!

Unknown said...

I just want you to know that, as soon as I saw the title of this entry, I started feeling sorry for myself that I wasn't standing in your kitchen and then sitting at your dining table to eat, eat, eat. By the time I got to the end, I almost wanted to CRY. Is it possible to get horny for food? Because I think that's what I feel for this dish.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that looks fantastic. Although, I have to say that I have a totally unreasonable aversion to lobster stemming from the time when I was really little and my mother bought live lobsters, let them crawl on the floor for me to play with and then popped them in the pot right in front of me. I also wonder what they would taste like with lump backfin blue crab meat. Yum!! The carrot ginger fauxmulsion looks fabulous. I am also a big fan of rhubarb-my June birthday "cake" is usually strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Made your roast chicken menu last night, except for the peas. I am the only one who likes peas and it is not worth the argument. We had a Caesar instead, key lime pie for dessert and a lovely Virginia Viogner. Everyone loved the bacon with the corn and the sweet taters. Yum!

Carol Blymire said...

Sean: Yes, I think you could use Dungeness crab in this dish instead of lobster. It's sweet enough and has a texture that I think might hold up nicely. Sorry you don't get sea roaches.... I mean, lobster.

Kitoko: Lobsters don't scream. That's an old wives' tale. I've made probably 100 lobsters in my lifetime and none of them screamed or hissed or made any noise when they hit the hot water.

Suzanne: Congrats on the bebe. And yes, this would be a GREAT dish to have waiting for you when you come home from the hospital. :)

Heather And: Yes. It is possible. I think there is some scientist somewhere who will back me on this.

Laurad: Glad the chicken dinner turned out nicely for you! I served it again tonight for dinner for friends... it's always a hit.

Anonymous said...

I do so appreciate your sense of humour and love the fact that you include your resources and music. It makes me feel included.

Anonymous said...

As a long time reader but first time poster I must say - congratulations. Your blog is fantastic and your cooking skillz are amazing. The prompt for this post was an article I just read - I think smell-o-vision is finally on the way.

Keep up the good work.

TS of eatingclub vancouver said...

Hey! I left a comment but it never showed! {sniffle}

Anyway, just wanted to point out this comic... I saw it and it reminded me of you, hehe...

"Stove Ownership"

(from xkcd: a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language)

_ts of [eatingclub] vancouver

P.S. I wrote you an email a long, long time ago, when I first discovered your site. Something about you rocking, hehe.

Anonymous said...


I've been reading this blog for a while now - always with a mixture of envy, admiration and one constant thought "man, I wish I was her neighbor!"

How lucky are your children to be exposed to such culinary sophistication at such young ages. Do they generally have more 'adult' palates than their peer groups?

And who does the dishes in your house???

Many thanks for another good read :) said...

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Anonymous said...

This dish looks and sounds delicious!

The Lurker

Unknown said...

Carol - How long did this take you to do (hour-wise?) I know you broke up the tasks into different days, but if you were to do this all in one day, how much time would you have allowed?