One thing sofagirl and I have in common is our abhorrence of waste, especially food waste. Given that her job involves feeding school children and mine is cooking, it is quite understandable we obsess over food.
Every couple of weeks, I clean out the fridge, hunting for less than stellar looking vegetables, leftovers I forgot and anything t approaching its sell-by date that I can somehow recycle. I am definitely turning into my mother who, when I was a skinny and malnourished looking child, would shame me into finishing my dinner, reminding me of those poor African children, who would have loved to eat what she had prepared.
“They are welcome to it” I would mutter under my breath, mean little thing that I was.
My mother was a child during World War II and, like everyone belonging to that generation, knew privations and food shortages first hand. I grew up in times of plenty, when food evolved from fresh ingredients to frozen and boxed. I have never known hunger, I never had to make do, but frugality must be a component of the ageing process, as I never buy what I am not sure I will eat.
On my last fridge cleaning, I came across the last two ears of corn of the season, which, by now, I am tired of grilling. Some frozen peas were still languishing in the freezer and a jar of sun-dried tomatoes was sitting underutilized. I scoured the New York Times app for some end of Summer corn ideas and came across a posh sounding ‘Lobster Tart’.
I love lobster but I rarely buy it, partly because of its price, and partly because its flavour does not lend itself to everyday dinner dishes. The recipe gave me an idea: I love savory tarts and all manners of quiches and frittatas because they go a long way and tend to be filling. Served with either soup or a salad, they make for an excellent dinner; and you can recycle pretty anything in them.
I did buy one lobster tail but this tart can be made with shrimp instead and with any vegetables you have on hand. I made my own pate brisee early in the morning but a store-bought pie crust will work just as well.
Start by pre-baking the crust in a hot oven (400F) until slightly golden, about 15 minutes (use some pie weights to keep the bottom from rising and remove them halfway through). Let cool.
Cook the lobster tail (or the shrimp) in boiling water. Lobster cooks in 10 minutes.
In the meantime, sautee half an onion, thinly sliced, in a tablespoon of butter. When softened, add a couple of cups of corn, a cup of frozen peas, the lobster meat, a couple of thinly sliced sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper and a pinch of cayenne or chili flakes. Some lemon zest wouldn’t go amiss. Cook for a few minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Add to the pan half a cup of milk and heat everything. In a small bowl, mix two eggs with a few tablespoons of cream and add to the pan. Remove from heat and pour everything into the prepared crust.
Bake at 425F for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 and keep on baking until the center is set, and the top is golden, another 20 minutes or so. Let cool before serving.
The lobster flavor is strong enough to infuse the whole tart but not so overpowering as to “kill” the more delicate vegetables. Re-heated leftovers are even more delicious.
Image courtesy of the NY Times. You can view the original recipe here.