LOBSTER PIE

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According to Mark Strauss at the Smithsonian, we have celebrated Valentine’s Day since Roman Times. I like this passage he writes of a traveler’s diary from the early 18th century that notes: “On the eve of St. Valentine’s Day . . . An equal number of maids and bachelors get together; each writes his or her true or some feigned name upon separate billets, which they roll up, and draw by way of lots, the maids taking the men’s billets, and the men the maids’ . . . Fortune having thus divided the company into so many couples, the Valentines give balls and treats to their mistresses [and] wear their billets several days upon their bosoms or sleeves.”

I’ve also read that gift-giving and exchanging handmade cards on Valentine’s Day had become common and handmade Valentine cards made of lace, ribbons, and featuring cupids and hearts began to be created on this day and handed over to the man or woman one loved. This tradition eventually spread to the American colonies due to the import from England of booklets, or “writers,” which had “be my Valentine” verses and messages which could be copied into cards or letters.

It was not until 1843 that Valentine’s Day greeting cards began to be commercially produced, the first one created by Esther A. Howland, a native of Worcester, Massachusetts. 

So I find that Valentine’s Day has come around again, and last year I made Allan a cheesecake. (See February 2012 Post) This year I decided on a Lobster and Scallop Pie. Looking at several cookery books, I found first a receipt from Hannah Glasse called “To Make a Lobster Pie.” 

 This is a rather simple receipt with few ingredients and seemed a bit bland, so I continued to look to find something a bit special for this Valentine’s Day treat. In Charles Carter’s 1730 cookery book I found one that I also liked yet it had too many sweet seasonings. Hannah uses vinegar in her lobster, Carter uses sack (sherry or a red wine) and this sounds more interesting. He also uses a leer (sauce or gravy) in the pie. So I will combine the two receipts to satisfy our taste in seafood.

I had two small lobsters and a few scallops for the pie. I started by cooking the lobster about 10 minutes, just enough so the meat could be removed from the shell. Next a puff paste as per Hannah. She does not mention blind baking the crust and it may be just something they did or did not do and did not write down. I wanted to try it without baking the bottom first. I think the heat under the kettle will brown it up nicely. I had already put the kettle by the fire to warm up, as I wanted a high heat.

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 I lined the pie tin with the puff paste and filled it with lobster and scallops. For a sauce, Allan heated cream in a sauce pan, then added some to, two whipped egg yolks to temper them. After he whisked the egg mixture back into the cream he added anchovy paste, salt and pepper, butter and sherry, to round off the sauce. This became our leer and we poured it over the lobster and scallops. 2 copy

I rolled out the top paste and cut some hearts out from the sides. With the top in place and decorated with the hearts, into the kettle it went. I turned it every 10 minutes or so and took a look half-way through. It was not cooking as fast as I would have liked, so I put more coals under and over the kettle.

3 copy The added coals worked, and the hearts puffed up and the sides pulled away from the pan. It took about 45 minutes total. I scooped it out onto the plates. It lacked presentation as it flowed out of the crust onto the dish, however, it tasted wonderful. There were some leftovers and they will make a nice starter for our next meal.

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We will celebrate Valentine’s Day, on the 14th of February by going off to lunch at one of our favorite resturants in Portsmouth. I doubt they will have a seafood pie as great as this, however.

 Happy Valentine’s Day

 Sandie

 

 

 

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About Sandie

Since I was a small child I have loved early fireplaces and the smell of smoke in an old house. However it was not until about Fifteen years ago that my journey into hearth cooking began. It all started at the Hurd House Museum in Woodbury Ct. I was the director of the Junior Docent program and among the programs each week we cooked. At about the same time a group of us started the Culinary Historians of Connecticut meeting once a month to discuss equipment used, receipt (18th century term for recipe), and anything between the late 1600 to late 1700 that had to do with hearth cooking. We were fortunate to try our hand at cooking at several Museums throughout Ct and many more private homes. We made cheese; we held a late 1600 dinner and shared our knowledge with others. Our group designrd our own tours such as the Kitchens of Old Wethersfield. In 2000 we were delighted to host the Historic Foodways group of ALFAM at the Hurd House during their conference at Mystic Seaport. We put together a great workshop of Puddings, Sausages, Brown Bread, Beverages you name it we offered it. I am now a member of the ALFAM foodways group. Then it was off to Colonial Williamsburg for the seminar The Art of 18th-Century Cooking: Farm to Hearth to Table. During the years I joined many workshops in Sturbridge Village plus their Dinner in a Country Village and breakfast at the Freeman Farm. So I was pretty much hooked on heart cooking and the 18th century way of life. I joined a wonderful group of ladies and we started the “Hive” a place to improve and grow your 18th century impression and offer research about material culture in 17070’s New England. We also travel with friends and have displays of clothing and teas at Museums in Massachusetts. Many events are held at the Hartwell Tavern at Minute Man National Park. They have been gracious enough to let us play there and entertain and share our knowledge with their visitors. Please visit our “Hive” site if the 1700 interest you. Then the move to New Hampshire and a job at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth as the co-coordinator of the Junior Role Playing workshop and eventually cooking in front of the hearth at the Wheelwright house. Not only did I enjoy making my evening meals at the hearth to take home but also talking with the visitors. I am an entertainer after all, check out my program page. Most recently I am working at the Museum of Old York in Maine as an educator, hearth cook and organizer of the Junior Docent cooking program in the summer. See some photos in the archive file Because I do make food with the docents and serve food to the public at our Tavern Dinners I took the National Restaurant Association tests called ServSafe and now have my Certification as a Restaurant Manager. I look forward to the Museum of Old York opening again this March 2012 and getting back to the hearth and teaching, however for now I’m cooking at home and enjoying doing so.

One thought on “LOBSTER PIE

  1. This gives me an idea for my Valentine for my hubby who loves sea food, especially scollops.

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