I was out of town for a pharmacy conference in Anaheim for a few days and have not had time to blog. It felt really nice to be back home and back to my daily routine. For dinner, I decided to make crab bisque, inspired by a crab dish that I had at Joe’s Crab Shack near our hotel. French in origin, bisque is a smooth and creamy soup based on a strained broth of crustaceans, usually lobster, crab, shrimp, and even crayfish. I paired the bisque with toasted baguettes and a glass of white wine. If you are entertaining guests this holiday, this bisque would be a perfect start to your dinner party.
2 (1 1/2-pound) crabs
1/2 cup coarsely chopped shallots or onions
1 cup coarsely chopped leeks
1 cup coarsely chopped carrots
1 cup of chopped tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp saffron
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsps cornstarch
1 tbsp sugar
chives for garnish
Fill a large stockpot with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Place the crabs in the water and steam for 15 minutes. Discard the water. (you can also save 1-2 cups of this original stock if you want a stronger crab taste)
Remove crab meats from the body and claws. Save the shells.
Place 5 cups of water in a clean stockpot and turn on high heat. Put the shells in the stockpot and cook for 30 minutes. This should yield 4 cups of crab stock.
Add olive oil to a large sauté pan and turn on medium heat. Add the garlic, shallots, leeks, carrots, tomatoes, and saffron and sauté for 20 minutes.
Add 4 cups of strained crab stock to the sautéed vegetables. Turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Press entire contents of sautéed pan through sieve into a clean sauté pan.
To finish the bisque, add heavy cream slowly, using whisk to blend. Add white wine. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes; bisque will thicken slightly.
Mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup water and slowly add to bisque with whisk. Simmer on low heat for another 15 minutes. Add pepper and sugar (more if you like a sweeter taste).
Place pieces of previous cleaned crab meat in bowl and add 1 cup of bisque.
For my flight to San Jose over the weekend, I brought along Dessert by Williams-Sonoma to get ideas for Thanksgiving dinner. As I flipped through the book, I saw an interesting recipe for poached pears with raspberry coulis. Personally, I am not a huge fan of pears, let alone cooked pears. The picture was so enticing that I decided to give it a try. It was definitely a different type of dessert.
4 firm Bartlett pears, peeled leaving the stem intact
1 cup white wine (Riesling or Pinot Grigio)
2 cups fresh orange juice
1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
3 orange zest strips
3 lemon zest strips
2 whole cloves
1 cup rasberries
1 tsps powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
Peel the pears and generously rub with the lemon half to prevent discoloring. Core the pears from the bottom using a melon scooper, leaving the stem intact.
In a deep sauce pan, combine the white wine, orange juice, water, sugar, lemon zests, orange zests, and clove and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and add the peeled pears, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the pears are tender but not falling apart. Remove the pears and place in the refrigerator. Heat the saucepan to high heat and reduce the syrup to approximately 1 cup of liquid, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.
For the raspberry coulis, combine the raspberries, powdered sugar, and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until the berries are pureed. Pass the puree through a fine mesh sieve to extract all the juice.
Serve the pears slightly chilled in a pool of raspberry coulis and drizzled with a little syrup.