Lobster with a twist

February 20, 2008 8:49:34 PM PST
Nick Smith picked up some tips from Executive Chef Mark Sullivan of Spruce Restaurant. Spruce is a new hip restaurant in San Francisco's Laurel Heights neighborhood and lots of women are talking all about it.

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Contemporary American Cuisine showcasing the freshest of ingredients.

Celeriac Ravioli with Foraged Mushrooms
Makes 40 Raviolis

    1 pound recipe pasta dough should be sufficient (or prepared pasta sheets)*
    2 cups thinly sliced celery root (bark removed)
    ½ cup mascarpone cheese
    Zest of one lemon
    8 oz. mixed wild mushrooms (brushed clean, rinsed of dirt and dried)
    ¼ cup shallots, minced
    1 tablespoon garlic, minced
    1 pound white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
    1 carrot, thinly sliced
    1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
    1 leek, thinly sliced
    2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
    2 garlic cloves, cut in half, thinly sliced
    6 parsley stems
    6 thyme bows
    2 tablespoons parsley, minced
    ½ cup celery leaves
    2 cups prefermented grape juice (white)
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Extra virgin olive oil

    *Note: An ambitious home cook should experiment with making their own pasta dough, however, prepared pasta sheets can be found at specialty Italian grocers

    Celery Root Ravioli:

    1. Steam 2 cups of thinly sliced celery root for 15 minute on high heat (or until tender) in a conventional steamer. Pour steamed celery root into a colander and pat dry with towels.
    2. Place steamed celery root into a food processor and blend with 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese until very smooth in texture. Pass the mixture through a tamis, or fine meshed sieve. Add the zest of one lemon. Season to taste with salt and white pepper, place to the side.
    3. Place two pasta sheets on a floured surface and scoop spoonful portions of the celeriac puree every 4 inches onto one of the two sheets. Spray or brush pasta sheets lightly with water. Place top sheet over bottom sheet and press together encircling the filling. Cut around filling with a knife or cutter to make the ravioli's shape. Repeat this process until you have the desired amount of raviolis. Lightly dust a sheet pan with semolina flour to reserve finished ravioli.

    Foraged Mushrooms: Bring a 10 inch skillet to medium high heat and drizzle with a liberal amount of olive oil. Add 8 oz. of cleaned mushrooms and sauté for three minutes, or until mushrooms begin to brown. Add the shallots and garlic and continue cooking for 90 seconds. Add the minced parsley and season to taste with salt.

    Mushroom Broth: Bring a stock pot to medium high heat and drizzle with a liberal amount of olive oil. Add the one pound sliced button mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion, leek, and garlic cloves and sauté until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cover with two cups of white ver jus (prefermented grape juice) and enough water to cover the sautéed vegetables by ½ an inch. Add 6 parsley stems and 6 sprigs and let simmer for thirty minutes. Strain broth through a fine meshed sieve. Place 2 cups of the mushroom broth in a sauce pot, whisk in ¼ cup mascarpone cheese and set aside.

    Final Assembly and Presentation:

    1. Bring 2 ½ gallons of water to a boil. Season the water to taste like seawater. Add the fresh ravioli and simmer for approximately 90 seconds or until the pasta is cooked. Delicately draw the raviolis out with a meshed strainer and into a bowl, coat with a liberal amount of butter, or olive oil.
    2. Place raviolis on a plate
    3. Divide the sautéed mushrooms equally over the raviolis
    4. Ladle 2 oz. of mushroom broth over each serving
    5. Coat the celery leaves in good olive oil and garnish the dish

Poached Lobster with Potato Gnocchi and Braised Lettuces
Serves 8 people

    8 ea. 1¼ pound live Maine lobsters
    1 recipe potato gnocchi*
    1 pound sweet butter
    8 petit heads of butter lettuce
    ¼ cup shallots, minced
    8 tablespoons diced tomato (skins and seeds removed)
    1 bottle white wine
    1 cup brandy
    3 cups diced vegetables (equal parts onion, leek, carrot, celery)
    One pinch saffron
    2 tablespoons tomato paste
    6 sprigs tarragon
    ¼ cup soft herbs (equal parts fresh parsley, tarragon, chervil, chive)

    *Note: An ambitious home cook should experiment with making their own gnocchi, however, prepared gnocchi can be found at specialty Italian grocers.

    Poaching the lobster and making the lobster Fume (the lobster stock)

    1. Separate the tails and the claws from the lobster bodies. Reserve the bodies for the stock. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Add the large lobster claws and start the timer. When one minute has elapsed add the smaller lobster claws. When two minutes have elapsed add the tails. Place all of the lobster parts in a bath of ice water to chill immediately after time is up. Crack lobster claws with a mallet or shellfish crackers and extract the meat. Delicately crack open tails and reserve the meat.
    2. Scrape the gills and lungs from the lobster bodies, cut into quarters and sauté in olive oil over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the diced vegetable and continue cooking until lightly caramelized. Stir in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, add the brandy and reduce to a glaze. Add the white wine and let simmer for 45 minutes. Add the tarragon sprigs, a pinch of saffron and allow to simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Place the lobster bodies in a food processor and pulse for several minutes. Strain through a fine meshed sieve, and place to the side. (This is the lobster stock.)

    Final assembly and presentation:

    1. Prepare emulsified butter: Add one tablespoon of water to a large saucepan and place over low heat, whisk in a knob of butter, let it emulsify with the water, repeat the process until one pound of butter is dissolved into a creamy texture (otherwise referred to as "beurre fondue"). Place the lobster meat into the warm butter. Continue heating on very low heat ensuring the butter hovers around 115 degrees and never exceed120 degrees. Cook for approximately 30 minutes, or until the lobster meat is warmed through
    2. Sauté shallots and diced tomato over medium heat, add butter lettuce, cover with 2 cups of lobster stock, season to taste with salt. Turn off the heat once it reaches a simmer.
    3. Simmer the gnocchi for 90 seconds, or until cooked through, strain and reserve in a few tablespoons of the emulsified butter.
    4. Divide the braised lettuces and lobster sauce evenly. Add one lobster tail and two claws to each serving. Spoon the gnocchi over and around the dish. Garnish with soft herbs.