Lobster Bisque & Grilled Brie and Tomato

Ok, so here is my disclaimer before beginning this post...this meal is NOT easy.  It's a lot of work, and quite tedious and annoying, but well worth it in the end.  It's one of those meals that you only make as a special treat.  But not necessarily a special occasion.  I felt like treating myself tonight to a decadent and sophisticated menu.  I deserve it.  It's been a rough week and I'm tired of so many things right now... So lobster bisque it is!

This recipe is courtesy of Tyler Florence from the Food Network.

Lobster Bisque
2 lobsters (I used 4 - 2 of them were 5lbs and 1 was 2lbs - lots of lobster!)
5 T unsalted butter
2 leeks, halved lengthwise
2 onions, halved
2 celery in big chunks (I probably used about 4, had them already cut up in the fridge for snacking)
2 carrots in big chunks
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 strips of orange zest (I always save my orange peels in the freezer to add flavor to my cooking)
2 T tomato paste
1/2 c cognac (I used Hennessey)
3 T flour
4 c cream (I used light cream - 5%)
1 tsp whole peppercorns
coarse salt & pepper
Finely grated orange zest for garnishing
Finely chopped chives for garnishing

Plunge a sharp knife behind the lobsters heads.  Cut in half lengthwise.  Collect all juices that run out.  Remove tails and claws and set aside.  Remove the head sac and liver and discard.  Cut the bodies into pieces.  Heath 3 T EVOO in a large pot over medium heat and melt 3 T butter into it.  Add the chopped bodies, heads, and juices (I didn't use heads - and the fabulous hubby did all the dirty work of chopping up bodies...gross), the leeks, 1 onion, celery, carrots, 1/2 of the thyme, 1/2 of the orange zest and the tomato paste.  Cook until the shells are red and the veggies are soft, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove pot from heat and pour in 1/4c cognac.  With a kitchen match (we just used a lighter - again, this was the hubby's job), ignite the cognac and allow the alcohol to burn off.  Return the pot to the heated burner, add the flour and stir for 2 minutes.  Add water to cover, and stir up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add cream and bring to a boil.  Immediately decrease the heat and gently simmer until reduced and thick, about 30-45 minutes.  Strain into a clean pot and season with salt and pepper.  Meanwhile heat the oven to 400.  Heat remaining EVOO and 2 T butter in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Add the remaining onion, thyme, bay leaf, and orange zest along with peppercorns and let cook 5 minutes.  Add claws and tails & toss to coat.  (At this point we had already removed the meat from the claws and tails - and by "we" I mean "he" - so we skipped putting them in the oven as the rest of the recipe says.  We just cooked it up in the pan with the ingredients the recipe says to add).  Removed the pan from the heat and carefully pour in 1/4c cognac.  Again, ignite with a kitchen match and let the alcohol burn off.  Put pan into the oven and let roast until the lobster is cooked through, 15 minutes.  Remove the lobster pieces and set aside.  Once cool enough to handle, remove meat from shells and coarsely chop.  Add meat to strained bisque.  Ladle into bowls, garnish with orange zest and chives, and serve with the recipe below.

 Grilled Brie and Tomatoes On Crusty Bread
1 pint cherry tomatoes (I used small tomatoes from the farmers market and quartered them)
2 T EVOO (I left this out)
coarse salt & pepper
3 T unsalted butter, softened
6 1/2" thick slices of crusty bread
1/2 lb brie sliced thin

Heat your broiler.  Put cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with EVOO.  Season with salt & pepper.  Broil until they burst (I did my larger tomatoes for 10 minutes).  Set aside.  Butter bread on both sides and top each with several slices of brie.  Broil until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.  Top with tomatoes and serve immediately.

Clearly a lot of time and love goes into this meal, so it was nice that hubby and I could do it together.  I hope you find the time in your busy schedule every once in a while to treat yourself to a nice meal like this one.  It's great to go to a restaurant and have someone else do the work for you - no dirty dishes, no fuss, no work to do at all - but there is something very special about making the meals yourself.  Somehow they just taste better.  You know what ingredients are in the meal and where they came from.  There is something very organic and pure about making a meal at home - whether it's on your own or with a loved one.

Take the time to spoil yourself and create a meal of your own that means something to you...then sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labor.