We ended up with a Thanksgiving miracle, hubby didn’t have to go to work on Thanksgiving day even though he was scheduled to! [insert super huge smiley face]p
Before the miracle presented itself, I had a menu all planned out to rival our date nights. I mean, if we cooked a turkey, it would take a year to finish all that meat. Besides, I’m not a big turkey fan.
I wanted it to be 3 courses but a gastronomic event worthy of traditional turkey day fare. So, naturally I decided on a trio of items within each course.
And it went a little something like this!
Escargot a la Bourguignonne
Scallops on the half shell
Rack of Lamb
Crab Mac and cheese
Chocolate covered strawberries
I think subconsciously I’ve made a vow to myself to try at least one new thing anytime I make an elaborate meal. This time around escargot aka snails French style and crab Mac cheese. This time around the challenge was making those two items which my husband doesn’t happen to care much for into something he would beg me to make in the future! Let’s just say, challenge completed and it was a smashing success!
Here are the recipes!
I adapted the recipe for the Firecracker Shrimp from Steamy Kitchen.
Shrimp (Very Large)
Egg Roll Wrappers
Remove the shell from the shrimp but leave the tail.
Depending on the amount of shrimp, combine the marinade ingredients and marinate the shrimp for 20 minutes in the fridge, up to half a day.
Cut one sheet of the egg roll wrapper in half (you will end up with two triangles).
Pat the shrimp dry and wrap tightly in the egg roll wrapper.
I use a little bit of water to close the wrapper tightly. You can also use egg wash or a cornstarch and water mix.
Fry in hot oil until browned. Serve with some orange chili sauce.
Scallops on the Half Shell:
Sear Scallops in melted butter and season with salt and parsley.
Garnish shells with diced tomatoes/sautéed parsley
Escargot a la Bourguignonne:
I bought the snails, snail plate, and empty shells from The Frenchy Bee. It’s a site I’m new to and I’m sure I’m going to obsessively scour the site and make some impulsive buys that will end up becoming kitchen staples. Like my new snail plate and shells!
Empty Snail Shells
Finely Minced Garlic
Pre-heat oven to 425.
Soften the butter by placing it on a plate to soften for about 30 – 45 minutes.
Mix in finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, and salt.
Drain and Rinse Snails (This is what Extra Large Snails look like, LOL)
Put some butter in the shell, push in a snail, and cover with a little more butter.
Place in the oven for 7 minutes.
Rack of Lamb:
If you happen to be obsessed with presentation, like me. You will further french an already “frenched” rack of lamb.
I know, it’s not a pretty sight. And trust me, it’s not easy to do. it’s pretty much a workout. In fact, every french technique; baking or otherwise – is an arm workout, but very much worth it after you see the results!
After frenching the lamb for almost an hour, season with rosemary, olive oil, parsley, and garlic. Don’t add salt until you’re ready to put it in the oven. I’ve found that it tends to dehydrate the lamb.
Put the seasoned lamb back in the fridge to marinate until two hours before you’re ready to eat.
Let the marinated lamb come to room temperature by placing it on the counter for an hour. This allows it to cook more evenly.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Season the rack with salt. Brown in a pan on each side for about 2-3 minutes per side. Place in oven safe dish.
Bake in the oven for about 10 – 15 minutes to get a beautiful medium cooked lamb.
Crab mac and Cheese:
Hubby does not like Mac and Cheese. I, on the other hand LOVE mac and cheese. I made this in order to try a new color and flavor of mac and cheese and to see if I could convert my husband into a mac lover. I’ve got to tell you, I did good!
White Cheddar Cheese Block
Cook the macaroni according to al dente. (Not soft and mushy but not hard; firm).
Melt the butter on medium high heat, pour about a table-spoon of flour and mix well. (These two steps are called making a roux).
Slowly pour in milk and mix constantly with whisk to avoid lumps.
Grate white cheddar into the mix. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
When the cheese is melted and incorporated. Add the macaroni and crab and mix together.
Preheat oven to 350.
Pour the mac mix into an oven safe bowl. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top (if you want it extra cheesy, sprinkle some Parmesan or Mozzarella over the top before the breadcrumbs).
Bake for 20- 25 minutes and enjoy the cheesy goodness!
For the salad, I bought pre-packaged Romaine salad and added my favorite Raspberry Vinaigrette over the top!
Carrot and Pea Puree:
Cook the minced carrot in hot water over a stove until very soft. For about 45 minutes. I added about a teaspoon of sugar for added sweetness.
Blend the carrot into a puree. Add water until the desired consistency is reached. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Cook peas until soft or used canned peas. Blend into a puree, adding water until desired consistency is reached and refrigerate until ready to use.
Chocolate Covered Strawberries:
Melt chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments until fully melted. It should take about 4 times. Be careful not let the chocolate burn!
Wash and pat dry strawberries.
Dip in melted chocolate and let extra chocolate fall off.
Place on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper or parchment paper and let chocolate harden.
Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
I bought a ready-made cheesecake from the grocery store. Drizzled some strawberry syrup over the top and decorated with caramel decorations.
Oh, how we love creme brulee in my household! It is like ice cream and cheesecake rolled into one! I don’t really know how else to describe it. Besides, any recipe that calls for my amazing Butane torch is a winner in my eyes! The delicious crack of the caramel that lets you into the rich creamy goodness underneath cannot be paralleled in this world!
Heavy Cream aka Whipping Cream
Vanilla bean, vanilla extract, vanilla paste (In short any vanilla flavoring instrument you can get your hands on will do).
Egg Yolks (One of the FEW recipes that uses the amazing goodness of the eggs yolks. Keep it in mind whenever you have to make French macarons or meringue and are unsure of what to do with the yolks. Don’t discard them, just make some creme brulee!)
Heat the 1 cup of cream on the stove. Don’t let it come to a boil(frothy and bubbling), just let it get hot and close to being frothy.
Meanwhile, whisk 3 egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of sugar until it becomes a pale yellow. VERY slowly add a little bit of cream in batches while mixing to avoid cooking the eggs. Continue until all the cream is added. Add your teaspoon or more of vanilla (depending on how vanilla-y you want the creme brulee.
Place ramekins into a somewhat deep baking sheet (I use a square cake pan).
Pour your custard into the ramekins.
Then pour very hot, even boiling water into the pan, making sure not to get water in the creme!
Bake in a 325 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the custard is set. It shouldn’t be brown on the top, it can be very slightly jiggly but not liquidy.
(I seem to be adding a lot of -y to my words today!)
Let cool for 15 minutes, then place in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours. If you multiplied the recipe, you can cover the ramekins and place your extras in the freezer for about 2 months before use. Anytime after that, it will more than likely start taking on the flavors and odors of anything else in the freezer. Besides, unless you forget it’s in there, I don’t think it’ll last that long in the freezer!
When set, about 30 minutes before serving. Bring out of the fridge. Sprinkle an even layer of sugar over the top and torch that sweet thing, making sure to move your flames over the entire circumference to avoid burning the sugar.
You can place it back in the fridge for about 10 minutes, then serve. Or serve right about 3 minutes after torching. Nothing destroys your excitement for creme brulee like burning your mouth with VERY hot caramel.
Garnish with whipped cream, fruits or caramel decorations!
For my first time trying my hand at these beauties, I sure was impressed! I also really surprised myself at how patient I was while making these! It was kind of therapeutic waiting for it to reach the right consistency for the spiral and then having to warm the caramel up again! Besides, Hubby kept devouring them as I made them which made it a little harder to get a lot of them done.
All you need is:
Anything round and metal ( I used my digital Thermometer since I didn’t have a blade sharpener and trying to use a wooden spoon ended up being a fail of epic proportions!)
Lots of Patience
I used 1/4 cup of sugar since it was first time and I didn’t want to waste my sugar in case it was a bust!
Heat the sugar in a non-stick pan at medium heat(5 on my stove). About a minute later, it should start to melt, move the sugar around the pan. You can use a wooden spoon to do this.
When the sugar is mostly melted but still grainy, reduce to low heat (a 2 or 3 on my stove). Wait for it to melt and be runny. Once runny, take it off the heat but leave the stove on at low heat.
Using your fork, take a glob of caramel and wait for it to drip off the fork. When it starts taking a little longer for it to drip and the strip is really thin, wrap it around your metal(thermometer or blade sharpener). It should stay connected(look at the picture).
To make the basket, I used a small ladle.
Since it was just the two of us, doing all this made perfect sense to me. Now, I just need to figure out, what we will do for Christmas! You can bet the wheels are turning and even I’m not sure what wacky thing my brain will decide I must absolutely obsess over until that meal comes to fruition! So, I guess, we will both be surprised!