July is the month of Visiting Family Members From Outside New England, which means, in addition to Alex and Julia having to share a bed, lobster.
Now, there are several types of lobster eaters. There are the Big Claws and Tail Only people. There are the I’ll Eat Other Parts of the Lobster As Long As I Don’t Have to Pick Through All The Body and Squeeze Out All The Meat in Those Skinny Legs Myself people. There are the ICK, What’s That??? people. And there are the people who will eat every last scrap of edible lobster – meat, fat, coral (roe) and tomalley (liver) – and will suck all of this down faster than the Big Claw and Tail people can get their crackers and picks going.
I belong to the latter group.
There are times when I curb my impulses and leave the body and little skinny claws alone, just so we have meat to do something with the next day.
This post is about one of those times.
There were eight of us for dinner, and that meant – in addition to a hundred littlenecks on the half shell (yes, a hundred), and snail salad and other side dishes – eight lobsters.
Those of us assembled represented all of the aforementioned lobster-eating categories, so there were bodies a-plenty, not to mention several lobsters’ worth of skinny little legs that went uneaten. I salvaged all of them and even set aside my own share, lobster leftover ideas swirling through my head as I swatted flies away from my haul and mosquitoes away from my arms and legs.
I picked through all the bodies that night, and used a rolling pin on the little legs to get out every bit of meat and juice. And I set aside any remaining tomalley and fat in a separate bowl, as I wasn’t sure yet what I was going to do with all of it. If I make a lobster omelet, for example, I like to use the tomalley in a buttery, white wine and tarragon sauce. (Of course, if I was a greedy person, I’d have just dug in with a spoon and no one would have been the wiser. But those guilt pangs might have stabbed at me for a day or so, and I didn’t want that.)
Here’s the haul:
The next afternoon I looked at the lobster and looked in my fridge, and started assembling ingredients.
I’ve got all the lobster stuff…homemade ricotta mixed with a little gorgonzola left over from…something (?) that I made earlier in the week…and a baked potato. Bill brought home a burger and a baked potato from lunch with the visiting family at a nearby restaurant. I devoured the burger that same day, but wasn’t hungry enough for the potato. I figured I could peel it and mash the flesh into the cheese to kind of extend the mixture a bit.
What else…something to give the mixture some zing.
I chopped up some shallots…
And picked tarragon, a bit of dill, and some chives.
I sautéed the chopped shallots in a little butter, cooled it and added it to the lobster/ricotta/potato mixture along with the herbs. I’d also put in a little shredded mozzarella as well.
Finally, I threw in a few egg whites and a slug of wheat beer, mixed the whole mess together, and started assembling.
I had filo dough in the fridge from another dish I’d made that week. Filo (or phylo, or fillo) is a thinner-than-paper dough used in both sweet and savory Middle Eastern recipes. Think, for example, Spanikopeta (savory) and Baklava (sweet).
I put four sheets of filo together by placing a sheet of dough on my work surface, brushing it lightly with melted butter, placing the next sheet of dough on that, then more butter, and so on. Then, using a pizza cutter, I sliced my layered sheets into 12 smaller rectangles. I carefully pressed and wrinkled these small rectangles into the cups of my lightly greased tartlet pans.
I spooned the lobster mixture into the little filo cups…
And, for one last little touch – I topped them with a sprinkling of buttered panko crumbs.
I popped them into a 375 F oven until the crumbs and filo were golden brown.
Then I served them up and tried not to let my head get too big from all the praise.
I don’t have a recipe for these – it’s just one of those things that I throw together with whatever I have on hand. I don’t measure, I just look and taste and play around until I think I’ve got a good combination of flavors and textures.
You can, of course, use different cheeses, different herbs, and so on.
OH! Almost forgot. Why “soufflé” in the post title? These didn’t rise at all!
Well, I didn’t really know what to call them. At work, we make mini quiches in standard-sized muffin tins using filo dough and then the egg and cream mixture plus whatever fillings we decide on.
But this wasn’t a quiche. I didn’t even think of adding the egg whites until the very end. So I told my boss about this concoction and asked her what she would call them. And she suggested soufflé because of the whites, even though the filling was too heavy to rise.
That worked for me! Soufflés they are. Lazy, because they didn’t rise.
Oh – and if you don’t have lobster meat to use up, I bet crabmeat would make a delightful substitute.