Friday, April 10, 2015

FFWD ~ Salmon Tartare and a makeup…Vanilla Butter Braised Lobster

FFWD ~ Salmon Tartare
This week’s French Fridays pick is for Salmon Tartare. A recipe that made me shudder at the thought of making it. Once again, we are talking raw fish! As I read through the recipe, a thought occurred to me, why not make it with lox, or smoked salmon? Something I could wrap my taste buds around!

Delicious…a perfect starter for any dinner party
The recipe is easy to put together. I decided to make only half, since there would only be the two of us eating it. I began by grating the zest of one lime, then using a sharp knife, peeled and sectioned it.   For the salmon (I used lox) I cut a half lb. into ½ inch cubes.  I then tossed it into the bowl with the lime, added a teaspoon of the zest, one chopped scallion, a teaspoon of chopped mint, two teaspoons of olive oil, and some lime juice. Now for the tomatoes….take about ten grape tomatoes, slice into thirds, mix with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, chopped chives, mint, salt and pepper.  Put this aside, while you mix the avocado layer.  I used one avocado, cut it into small cubes, added lime juice, lime zest, some chopped chives, salt, pepper and a touch more of lime juice, or you could add a touch of Tabasco. Now assemble your layers. I used a pastry ring (as Dorie suggests).  First layering the avocado, then the salmon, and finishing with the tomatoes, pressing gently after each layer.  
This recipe surprised me! Not just because I really liked it, but also because the fish eater in my house…not so much! He wasn’t fond of the lime flavor. Like always, you win some, you lose some! 

This was a delicious treat…I ate it all by myself
Well, are you ready for a pick that was a winner for both of us? When the Vanilla-Butter Braised Lobster was picked for Valentine’s Day, I was on my way to Florida! I knew immediately that it would find it’s way to my table eventually. We love lobster in our house!  I didn’t use the live lobsters that Dorie suggested. I don’t cook live lobsters! I usually have them steamed at the fish store. I decided to go with lobster tails, which were a perfect mid-week treat. I steamed them for a few minutes, pulled them from the shells, and submerged them in about a cup and a half of clarified butter that had been infused with a vanilla bean.  They were incredible! What could be bad about lobster soaked in butter? Nothing! Happy Friday everyone! 

FFWD ~ Vanilla Butter Braised Lobster

An incredibly delicious mid-week treat
The recipe for Dorie’s Salmon Tartare can be found in her cookbook, "Around My French Table”…or here. If you would like Dorie’s recipe for the Vanilla Braised Lobster, you will have to check out her book. I could not find it published anywhere else. You can however, read Dorie’s thoughts on how to prepare it here.  I shared a similar recipe below, if you’d like to give it a try!

Vanilla-Butter Poached Lobster Tails 
and Watercress Parsley Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette


1 lb. unsalted butter
2 large vanilla beans
2 or 3 sprigs tarragon
6 medium spiny lobster tails in the shell (about 5 ounces each with shell)
1 Tbsp. orange zest, grated 
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp. lemon zest, grated
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp. lime zest, grated
1 lime, juiced
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp. vanilla-butter, reserved after poaching
2 cups watercress
2 cups flat leaf parsley
2 cups cucumber, seeded and diced
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 250'

Place the butter in a shallow casserole dish that will hold all six lobster tails. Place in oven to melt the butter. When the butter has melted, skim some of the solids off and discard. This will give you an almost completely clarified butter. Split the vanilla beans with a sharp paring knife and run the back of the blade down the bean to scrape out the tiny vanilla seeds. Place the seeds and the beans into the melted butter along with the sprigs of fresh tarragon and return to oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and place lobster tails in the butter, flat side down and return to oven and poach in butter for between 12 and 15 minutes. Turn tails over with shell side down and continue to poach for another 12 to 15 minutes or until the lobster meat appears translucent. Remove from oven and reserve tails on a plate to cool to room temperature.

While the lobster is cooling prepare the citrus vinaigrette by combining the zests, juices, white wine vinegar and olive oil with a whisk. Whisk in 4 tablespoons of the vanilla-butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper if desired. Place the watercress, parsley and cucumber in a large bowl. Lightly dress salad with the vinaigrette or to taste.

Remove lobster meat from shell. Reserve shell for use later. Carefully slice lobster meat and arrange across about one cup of the dressed salad per person. Garnish with additional vinaigrette if desired.

Don't throw out the vanilla-butter that is left. Most of it will be left and it can be fortified with even more flavor and kept either refrigerated for two weeks or frozen for about one month. To fortify place the lobster shells, a few more sprigs of tarragon and about a 4" length of orange zest into the vanilla-butter. Return to the 250' oven and let simmer for about one hour. Remove from oven, cool and strain through cheesecloth. Discard solids. Place the butter in a clean container and refrigerate until solid again. The fortified butter can be refrigerated for up to two weeks or frozen for up to one month.


  1. Whoa, you had a yummy week, Kathy!!! I think Bill would have eaten the salmon if I had made it with lox :)

  2. Both dishes look heavenly! I love that vanilla butter lobster in particular.

  3. Brilliant idea to substitue lox. And that lobster really was delicious. A bit of work to clarify the butter, but I could still see making it again for a special occasion.

  4. The pastry ring trick is something I plan on using for guests... there are so many possible uses for making a pretty presentation. As for the lobster... I think buying the tails was a great idea less work and no possiblity of having an Annie Hall moment.

  5. Oh my goodness I wanted to jump through the computer screen and eat this - SO delicious:))

  6. First, Kathy, thank you for your persistence in posting a comment on my blog. I received all three. Cher also has a difficult time sometimes posting comments but I always receive hers also. Since I didn't make Salmon Tartare this week (not a good recipe idea to share with The Gant gang on my first week back) I am happy to read all the good posts regarding it. This salmon combination photographs so beautifull and is so colorful that it makes you want to grab it off the page. Your photos, very niccceeee, my friend. As for the lobster. Yum. I made this with Susan and John and we all loved it. They also used lobster tails and it was perfect. I did gulp at the amount of butter but cannot deny that is was delicious. NIce foody week for you two.

  7. I noticed your comment in the P & Q about the lox, and I had just come home from the store with the smallest piece of salmon available and wondered why I didn't think of that. I hate raw fish so I made 1/4 of the recipe. It was so pretty, I actually took a little bite and hated the lime flavor more than the raw fish. Out it went. See you on Monday, can't wait.

  8. Kathy I will be the contrarian and suggest you may have sold yourself short by subbing in the lox. Lox is just the salmon with the moisture extruded and flavors added. I think if you had given it a chance you may have enjoyed its fatty texture contrasted with the bracing lime and chive season. Not that yours wasn't great I'm sure. Just look at it! Beautiful. You have also convinced me to do the lobster. I was going to skip it but using tails seems like an easy way to get this one done.

  9. I think the lox was a great idea for someone who doesn't eat raw fish. I really liked the flavors, though I think a lot of Doristas agreed with Bill that there was too much lime. I'm glad you finally caught up on the lobster. That was delicious, wasn't it?

  10. Your presentations are absolutely gorgeous! The second photo is stunning. I never thought I would eat raw fish either, until my sister made a ceviche (cured from the citrus) - it was sooo good. Is the fish in this recipe supposed to be cured from the lime? I thought tartare was just plain raw... I wouldn't do that. Good thinking to use lox! Both dishes look absolutely delicious.

  11. Both your lobster and your salmon tartare look wonderful. The salmon was a huge hit in my books. I manipulated the recipe down to a single serve for me.

  12. Your dishes look wonderful! I didn't think of the lox, but that's not really a favorite. I did like the fresh salmon, though pined a bit for some really good wild-caught for the dish. I made the lobster a long time ago, and never posted. I love your idea of the tails, and as a week-night treat. A good way to gain some energy for the remainder!!!

    Happy that you enjoyed these!

  13. They both sound fantastic to me, Kathy! I don't mind the raw fish because, if you treat it like ceviche, it literally cooks. I also eat sushi, sooooo... The lobster looks too odd NOT to be good. DO you know what I mean? Sometimes things just sound wrong but you consider the source and you KNOW it will be amazing? Can't wait to try that!

  14. I'm hoping to come across some lobster soon so I can make this one! :) Your photos are so beautiful this week!! :)

  15. Beautiful presentation with the salmon tartare! Salmon is one fish I do like raw. Tuna, not so much. Your buttery lobster tail looks divine.

  16. Wow, double seafood--my kind of week! Both of these dishes look fantastic!

  17. Oh, yum. I loved that you used lox in that. I think I would have enjoyed this better with cured salmon.
    You made the lobster look pretty! I made the mistake of making a monochromatic meal - not so photogenic.

  18. Ooo so much fancy food, yet you make it look so approachable! I love it!

  19. OMGorgeous! Well presented and love choice with the lobster as make up for this week!

  20. They look totally delicious and very elegant Kathy!

  21. Both dishes look gorgeous! Great idea to use lox in place of the raw salmon - I will keep that in mind if I want to make this for my no-raw-fish husband.