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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Seafood Bisque Day

   Today, October 19, is National Seafood Bisque Day. Although I am not making seafood bisque today I want to share with you a recipe that is based on a copycat recipe for Lobster Fondue that used to be on the appetizer menu at Red Lobster®. As you all know me, I can never leave well enough alone, although I had a good reason for it this time: I wanted a main course, not an appetizer, so although we refer to this as Lobster Fondue, it is not a fondue, per se, but much closer to a bisque; you eat it with a spoon, not just dip bread into it. Oh, and I serve this in bread bowls. Next time I make it I will upload the photos here, so for now, just let your imagination float along with my ship of seafood deliciousness.
   You need to make your bread bowls, although you can use large kaiser rolls, hollowed out, if you aren't game to make your own. Sometimes I really cheat and use fresh, or frozen, pizza  dough from the supermarket. If its frozen you'll need to allow time for it to thaw before you can shape it.
   Okay, get your dough thawed out, or through its first rise, if you are making it fresh. I make 2 bread bowls for each pound of purchased pizza dough, or 8 from a single bread dough recipe. I found both six and eight ounce chicken pot pie tins in the supermarket, which I have yet to use for chicken pot pie, I use them, instead to shape the bread bowls and they are just perfect--either size. I use the larger ones first (only have five), then use the smaller ones for the extra dunking bread, but I am getting ahead of myself.
   Spray the tins with non-stick spray, or grease them well with Crisco® or olive oil (whatever did I do before non-stick spray?) Place the tins on two sheet pans so you can handle them easier. Roll the dough into balls, put into the tins, turning once to grease the whole wad, ending with the prettier side facing up. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise for an hour or so. Can't fill in the hour or so because each dough will rise differently due to your location, the temperature in the room, the time of year, you know the drill. Bake them at 350° F die 15-20 minutes, nicely browned. Remove them from the oven, but not from the tins. Let them cool. When they have cooled, you can hollow them out, reserving the tops and inside fluff. I usually take a very sharp knife and insert it on a diagonal into the bread about 3/4 of an inch from the side. then, carefully cut around the bread, making sure you don't go through the bottom. When you reach the starting point withdraw the knife and gently lift the top of the bread off. You have a pointy wedge of bread. Then you can reach inside and pull away more of the inside dough. I do leave a coating of bread in the bowl, helps to absorb the liquid that it is going to be holding in a little while! I usually toast the bread that is not attached to the top, or lid, as I like to call it, but you can if you'd like. I slice the breads that I don't need as bowls and toast them up as well for dunking (see I told you I'd tell you about the extra dunking bread.) You can also use crackers, if you'd like. Remember: this is YOUR KITCHEN, YOU ARE IN CHARGE!
   That all takes longer than putting the "soup" together, but you have time while the dough raises and bakes so it really doesn't take as long as it might seem by reading all those instructions.
   For the soup you need :
  • 3/4 to 1 lb. raw shrimp any size, but you will be cutting big ones, peeled completely--RESERVE THE SHELLS
  • 3/4 lb bay scallops
  • crab legs, imitation crab (not here) or langostinos cooked and peeled, reserve the shells if you cook them (optional)
  • 1-1/2 quarts water-divided
  • 1-2 bottles clam juice (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Sauterne (in this case go ahead & use the one from the grocery store, the real stuff is just so expensive the local liquor stores won't even carry it for me anymore) 
  • 1-1/4 lb. Velveeta Cheese (no, I am not kidding) cut into cubes
  • 1/2 lb Swiss cheese shredded
  • 1 red pepper diced to 1/4 inch dice (if you can find Ancient Sweets®- use them)
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (yes, you can use more)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (more or less or omit if you want)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup cream or milk
  • optional: roux, or flour/water paste to thicken if desired)
Cook the langostinos in one quart of water, if needed. Toss in the crab legs to heat, Peel shell, whatever, and throw the shells back in the water, Add the shrimp shells and cook until the shells turn pink, 6 minutes or so. Strain the shells out of the broth; KEEP THE BROTH. Toss in the scallops and shrimp, the rest of the water. Once the shrimp turn pink, lower the flame to low, keeping the broth warm. Transfer about 3 cups of the broth into another 8 quart pot, add the Sauterne, stir. Start adding the Velveeta and Swiss cheeses, in batches,stirring to melt in. Add the red pepper, the hot sauce and the spices. Stir until everything is smooth. Add the milk or cream (if you use milk it cannot come to a boil or it will curdle) taste and adjust for spice (here's where you add the extra hot stuff, more broth, or another bottle of clam juice if its too thick, more milk or cream if its too hot. Add the langostinos and/or crab legs
   Ladle into bread bowls, that have been set in a soup bowl, don't worry about overflowing, just makes it look better, anyway. Prop the lid on the top, slightly askew. Serve with extra dunking bread toasts (or untoasted) and/or crackers.
   Usually enough for 1 refilled bowl each, with a bit leftover--doesn't last long around here!
  Yes, I know its not exactly the least expensive meal, but if you want something really special that doesn't really require heavy duty effort, there you go.
  I promise to post photos next time I make this, probably not until December, though, as I want to wait for Austin to be home to make this again. He would probably kill me if I made it when he was away at school!
   How are you going to celebrate National Seafood Bisque Day?