Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lobster Macaroni & Cheese

I ate lobster for the first time when I was about six. Ever since I have never turned down a chance to eat it. I only eat it about 5 or 6 times a year as it's pretty rich and can be messy, but it's always worth the wait.

To help satisfy my lobster craving and that of a few of my friends, I used to have seafood parties about 3 or 4 times a year as. The deal was you bring what you want to drink, and I will cook the food. At that time, there were no places to buy fresh seafood where I lived, so I had my dad fly it in to me. When it came time for the party, I let everyone know what they had to pay and away we went!

Those parties were always a lot of fun and I made some good friends out of them, but now those parties if we have any, will have a lot fewer people. At any rate, we can still have a few people over and eat it however we choose. This time, Mrs. Urban Eater asked if we could have lobster mac & cheese the next time we have someone over for dinner. As I've never made mac & cheese with lobster before, I accepted the challenge.

This dish, with or without lobster, is a little high in the calorie section, so I knew I would have to try and watch out for this. I still wanted some nice flavor but without the major weight issues which may follow afterwards. I thought at least the lobster would add some kind of health benefit to help offset the creaminess and richness of all the cheese. Some people think lobster is fatty and high in calories. Not so. It's the butter you eat it with which adds the calories. Lobster has good values of carbohydrates and protein in it and is high in vitamins and minerals. If it's from the sea, it's usually pretty good for you.

Our guests this time were Jeff, Erin and their little girl Elise. The other two were Shirley and her new fiance Brian. A nice mix of people as they always bring good conversation along with their experienced palates.

Lobster Mac & Cheese

- 14 oz penne or elbow pasta, or you could put in about two handfuls for each person.
- 1 stick of butter
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) of flour
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) of white wine. I used an unoaked Chardonnay.
- 4 cups (948 ml) of 1% milk
- 1 tsp (15 ml) of smoked paprika
- 8 oz (237 ml) of white cheddar cheese, grated. I used organic for this.
- 4 oz (118 ml) of smoked mozzarella cheese, finely diced. You could cut off the outer coating if you don't want it in there as it doesn't melt. I left it in and it was fine.
- 1 small log of goat cheese
- 2 oz (59 ml) blue cheese. I used Gorgonzola
- 2 oz (59 ml) Parmesan, grated
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 2x11/4 pound lobsters, cooked and shelled
- 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs


1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add garlic and cook for several minutes until it softens. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a smooth paste forms, what you call a roux. Slowly stir in the wine and continue mixing until smooth and then add the milk, mixing well again. Start using a whisk to make sure there are no lumps. Whisk until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Add paprika, salt, pepper and cheeses and stir until melted. When adding the cheese, add a little at a time while still whisking as to not create any lumps.

2. Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Drop the pasta into boiling, salted water and cook until al dente, about 12 minutes. The pasta should not be fully cooked; it should have just a touch of firmness when tasted. Drain well. Try to time this with the sauce finishing as well. That way the pasta doesn't sit in the pan waiting for you and overcook.
3. Roughly chop lobster meat and add to the cheese mixture along with the pasta. Stir well to combine and season with salt and pepper again.

Pour into a large enough ovenproof casserole or similar type of dish. Sprinkle with panko and Parmesan and bake until the mixture is heated through and the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. When it starts to bubble a lot, it's done.
Yield: Serves 10

I made extra here as to try and keep the calories down per serving. That may sound weird, but we had scallops wrapped in bacon to start, a small salad over 2 slices of prosciutto with a maple syrup vinagrette beforehand, so it was a big night of eating. Having leftovers to freeze for consumption at a later date was a good idea instead of trying to tackle it all at once.

This isn't a cheap dish to make but it's worth it. The calorie count is up there and it's a rich dish, but pretty much everybody who ate it is active playing squash or something of the sort. That's the key: If you are active, you can get away eating extra calories once in awhile. If you're not active, then you have a problem and it will show. Pressing the remote with an extra finger besides your thumb doesn't constitute as been active, so get out there and do something, anything that will raise your heart rate at least once a day. Its important! Your body will gladly play along if you keep it up.

Erin brought the dessert for the evening, Pavlova. It was awesome but unfortunately there was too much food for me before, so I couldn't finish. My brain has a way of saying "alright, your gut is complaining and I think you've had enough pal." Unfortunately, this has to happen a little earlier, but I'm working on that.

Sorry about the picture not turning out so great, Erin. Much like the rest of the pics from that evening, I was pretty busy and put more time into making the meal and talking to the people at the table, so I figure it was a good trade off.

Little O's Menu

She seems to be turning a corner and is starting to take an interest in food again. Nice to see this! Her taste buds are back and she is enjoying different foods again and isn't so busy playing all of the time to have any interest in food. I know this happens, but she has no fat to lose. She's a little skinny Minny! So now she is starting to eat some carrots, beans on and off again, and can't get enough blueberries or those Mini Honey Mandarin Oranges. We are still attempting to add more protein to her diet, so we are still working on this. She likes chicken poached in OJ, but we can't make that all of the time. So I guess it means more hummus and things like this to get that much needed protein into her. Oatmeal with wild oats is still popular and we have been mixing in a little ricotta with it sometimes, but the jury is still out how long she will accept this.

Quote Of The Day:

"Age is not important unless you're a cheese."

~ Helen Hayes (1900-1993) American stage and film actress

Until next time, good eating everyone.