Valentines Day is not very many people’s favorite holiday. Even romantic saps don’t seem to be that excited about February 14th unless they have just fallen in love. For many, the holiday even brings back unpleasant humiliating memories of not having received any Valentines in 3rd grade. But as an adult, you can take control over the holiday and spend the night in and enjoy a romantic and elegant meal without using ingredients from far away.
How about a parsnip soup followed by grilled lobster and a salad of spicy greens?
Parsnips are plentiful right now and they tend to get sweeter as the winter progresses. When you go to the farmers market, try asking how sweet they are. That’s the nice thing about buying from the people who actually produce the food; they tend to know a lot more about it. You could also buy from a few vendors and do a taste test at home. The soup is a great way to use leftover chicken or vegetable stock from the freezer too.
We talk a lot about how to stretch your local food purchases so the cost per meal comes down to about what you’d spend at the supermarket. With seafood however, the fish at the market is often the same price or even much less than what you might find at a fish market. Not only that, most of us know that fresh fish is almost always superior to fish that has been sitting around so if you’re lucky enough to find dayboat fish at your local market, buy it up with confidence. The lobsters at the market were selling for around $8/pound. This recipe includes a half a 1.5 lb. lobster per person which means you’re only spending around $6 a serving for what might be one of the most luxurious proteins. You could even double the portion and serve a full lobster per person and you’d still be well under Red Lobster’s per person cost of $31.99 for their lobster dinner.
This is a nice looking meal. It’s delicious and nice in the cold weather. It may not heal the scars from Valentine’s Days past, but it will certainly be yummy.
Parsnip Soup (serves 2)
Boil a little over a pound of parsnips for around 15 minutes in salted water
When parsnips are tender, remove them from water and transfer to a blender or food processor.
Puree while adding a steady stream of vegetable or chicken stock (hopefully made with market ingredients!).
Plan to add around 1.5 cups of stock but stop if they soup starts to look too thin. You can always add more later.
When the soup looks to be ‘soupy,’ pour it in to a saucepan over medium heat. Salt and pepper to taste and for an even more elegant soup, add a shot of cognac or brandy.
Just before serving, add a couple tablespoons of heavy cream and then taste again for seasoning. This is soup can be made entirely with local ingredients, even in the middle of winter.
Grilled Lobsters (serves 2)
Bring a large pot of water to boil
Boil one medium lobster for 4 minutes
Remove from pot and cool slightly either on the counter or in the refrigerator
When cool enough to handle, split lobster lengthwise with a large chef’s knife
Dot the meat with butter (I love the butter from Ronnybrook farm here in NY) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place lobster halves on a cookie sheet and broil for around 8 minutes or until the meat starts to char slightly.
While lobsters are broiling, toss together a winter salad (recipe in an earlier post). Serve on a platter and make sure you have lobster crackers, maybe some extra butter, and lots of napkins!