I wish I was organised enough to bring my own lunch to work; it would save an absolute fortune. As it is though, I really value taking time away from the desk to buy something, and even though the subsidised work canteen is generally good (the wonton noodles are excellent and only cost 10x as much as in a Singapore hawker centre) the idea of my post-tax salary going back to my employers sends me outside every time, even in the cold.
Possibly my favourite winter lunch is the chicken pot pie from EAT. It set off a series of attempts to recreate it at home. Chicken Pot Pie is a meal for the Lake District, when we’ve been out walking all day and buy chickens from Penrith, but for special occasions at home there is Lobster Pot Pie.
Having shelled the lobster in advance, this was a weeknight dinner the day after Valentine’s day. Or as the Husband calls it: Tuesday. We don’t go out, exchange gifts or even good wishes but we did have lobster for dinner and chocolate fondants for dessert. Just because.
Lobster Pot Pie Recipe
From the New York Times. Serves 2.
A weeknight recipe, as long as the lobster is already shelled – make the pastry lids, and whilst they are in the fridge, get going on the lobster stew. Get the Husband to bake the lids whilst you faff about at the stove. How romantic.
Pastry Lid recipe
150 grams plain flour, plus more for dusting
115g cold unsalted butter, cut in small cubes
4 Tbsp ice water (60 ml)
1 Tbsp milk
1. Put the flour, a pinch or salt and the cubes of butter in the bowl of a food processor, and put the whole thing in the freezer for 15 mins whilst you get the ice water ready.
2. Pulse the flour and fat until the texture of coarse oatmeal, still with lumps of butter the size of peas. Add the ice water and give another pulse to combine.
3. Give a quick knead to form the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and press into a 2.5 cm thick disc; refrigerate for at least an hour (or overnight)
When ready to cook: preheat the oven to 200 C.
4. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface into an oblong twice the diameter of the bowls you are serving from. Using the bowl as a pastry cutter, cut out two discs.
5. Glaze with milk and bake on baking parchment. Bake for 10 mins at 200 C, and then lower the heat to 180 C for another 10 minutes, until nicely coloured.
Lobster Stew Recipe
2 lobsters (Lidl periodically sells frozen specimens for £6 apiece), shelled and cut into bite-sized pieces. Save the shells in a freezer bag for seafood stock.
3 Tbsp butter
200 mls whole milk
2 teaspoons cornflour dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water
60 ml crème fraîche
2 shallots or 1 small white onion
White part of a leek
Stick of celery (leaves reserved for garnish)
A few stalks of spring onions, or Chinese chives
(if using frozen lobster, no salt needed)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 Tbsp each of chopped chives, coriander, celery leaves from inner stalks
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and fry the aromatics with salt and pepper until soft (5 mins). Add the lobster meat and seasonings, and stir.
2. Add the milk and simmer for 2 mins. Add the cornflour mixture and cook for another minute, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Season to taste, and stir in the crème fraîche.
3. Spoon the lobster stew into the bowls, top with the pastry lids and garnish. Enjoy!