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Sunday, December 23, 2012

FBTOT Turns 3!

LAST Thursday, December 20th, FROM BEHIND THE OPEN TABLE celebrated its three year anniversary!

UPS arrived just in time with these newly-designed tote bags!

I can hardly believe it's been three years since I sat down to pen my first post. What was meant to be a journal of what I was learning through my wine courses at ICE ended up being a bit more... And recently, service industry job-seekers' site, EatDrinkJobs interviewed me for their "A Day in the Life" column which--for me--was a stamp of approval for all the (sometimes daunting) work I'd put into the blog.

Livin' large ain't always easy!

So when the anniversary of FBTOT rolled around, I was anxious to "pop a cork"; conveniently, it coincided with the day that I was to make David a Christmas dinner (it was our last mutually free evening together before he was to leave town for the holiday). 

fresh lobsters

Being that the dinner would double as his Christmas gift (we're on a strict budget with our upcoming wedding), I wanted to do something really special... I thought fresh, live lobsters would suffice!

After firmly holding the lid in place for the first (heart-pounding) minute,
I was able to relax for the remaining nine minutes of steaming

It was my first time cooking lobster and I must say that it was quite frightening at times! Yet, with my hand covered in a once-folded bath towel I was able to place each lobster (one at a time) into a pot for its ten minute steaming (à la Judith Jones in The Pleasures of Cooking for One).

A one...

... and a two!

For the accompaniments, I decided to try to replicate the lobster dish we serve at my (current) restaurant: garlic-rosemary potatoes... and garnished with chervil. I know from experience that finding chervil can be a task in itself, but a friend recently shared with me his tip of using tarragon as a substitute. After ten minutes or so of steaming, the lobsters seemed nearly done. I decided to finish them in the oven (on low heat, for ten minutes) atop the roasted potatoes, with a branch of tarragon laid on top to "scent" the lobster.

tarragon-scented lobster over garlic-rosemary potatoes

It was my most extravagant dish to date and David was completely floored! (I banned him from entering the kitchen for several hours) I paired the lobster with a rich Domaines Schlumberger pinot gris, Les Princes Abbés, 2010 from Alsace that worked beautifully well!

How do you like them lobster tails, Mr. Goldstone??

But dinner didn't end there...

homemade panna cotta cups

That morning, I was forced to oust David from entering the kitchen when he started to inquire, Why does it smell like cookies in here? I was heating on the stovetop: 1 cup of milk, 2 cups of heavy cream and ¼ cup of sugar*... for homemade panna cotta from my The French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook. It really was "... the easiest, fastest dessert that has chutzpah, and it's impossible to blow it." The cookbook also gives instructions for unmolding the panna cotta from its ramekins, but I decided to simply serve them as is. David and I both enjoyed the elegant, subtle flavor and it really was the easiest dessert to make!

*Also included in another step is unflavored gelatin and vanilla extract.
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