John made it back from his business trip in time to join the tail-end of my Saturday afternoon photo shoot at Il Fornaio, for the Homemade Pasta Cooking Class. Chef Marco packed the house with his sexy Italian accent, warm smile, engaging conversation, and amazing pasta rolling expertise.
At one point, Marco had pasta draped over the arms of everyone around the entire table!
On Sunday morning, we gave Dooley a much-needed bath in his semi-private garden sanctuary. When those Newfs need a bath, they really need a bath!
And on Sunday evening, we made the short walk over to Spreckels Park to relax and listen to Althea & Company, a great Bonnie Raitt tribute band.
For concert fare, I prepared Baked Pork Loin with Fig-Citrus Stuffing, from Pig: King of the Southern Table. If you're a lover of all things pork, this cookbook is a no-brainer.
The stuffing was incredibly moist and flavorful with the acid-sweet balance of the citrus and figs. The pork loin cooks on rack above some beer, too, for a little hoppy aroma.
On Monday night, John spoiled me rotten with steak and lobster, while he christened his new toy - a brand spankin new grill, with all the bells and whistles! Rather than simply melting butter for the succulent lobster, he whipped up Wolfgang Puck's Spicy Herbed Compound Butter.
Compound butters are mixtures of butter and flavoring ingredients, such as herbs, spices, zests, or aromatic liquids, used to enhance flavor in various dishes. After whipping together the butter and chosen add-ins, the butter is packed into a ramekin, or shaped into a log wrapped in plastic wrap or parchment paper, and chilled until it is firm enough to be sliced. These butters can be melted on top of seafood, meats and vegetables, used as a spread, or used to finish various sauces.
Our lobster received a generous slather of butter during the grilling process, and a dab more once he hit the plate.
Grilled Lobsters with Spicy Herbed Compound Butter
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck
1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 red or green jalapeno, seeds and white membranes removed, chopped coarsely
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley (we used basil)
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a food processor, combine the butter, garlic, jalapeno, parsley, lemon zest and juice, and chives. Season with salt and pepper and process until well combined. Transfer enough butter for the lobsters to a small container (you will need about 4-6 tablespoons butter for each lobster you are grilling). Place the remaining butter on a sheet of parchment and roll into a log, twisting the ends to seal. Refrigerate for another use.
To prepare the lobsters, bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Place the lobsters in the boiling water and blanch just until the shells turn red, but the meat is not cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove the lobsters and let cool slightly. Slice the lobsters in half lengthwise. Brush the meat and inside of the lobsters with some of the herbed butter, about 1 tablespoon per lobster half. Place the lobsters on the grill, flesh side down and cook until the meat has grill marks and starts to turn opaque and firm up, about 5 minutes.
Turn the lobsters over and grill an additional 3 to 4 minutes, brushing with more butter, if desired. Remove the lobsters to a large platter. If desired, serve with some of the reserved herbed butter.
As we sat outside in the courtyard, soaking up the last warming rays of the sun, sipping wine, and savoring every bite of this very special dinner, my life eased into the place it needs to be...with John by my side and Dooley snoozing comfortably at our feet.