Today was the day that my sister-in-law got to compete as one of the three finalists in a state wide cooking contest. The cooking contest was to find Maine's Lobster Chef of the Year.
This is not a small deal.
The 3 finalists were chosen from recipe submissions that came in from all over the state. All three of the finalists were Maine born-and-raised which wasn't a requirement, but it was a nice fact.
Another interesting fact is that my sister-in-law, aside from being the only female finalist, was also the only finalist without any formal training as a chef, the guys she was competing against were graduates of either Le Cordon Bleu North America or the Culinary Institute of America. Now if that doesn't sound impressive, i don't know what is.
Now, i had intended to take a photo of each sample dish as the tasting was going on, but i was trying my best to be objective and discussing it with hubby and listening to and watching the demonstration- as each chef prepared the dishes while we were tasting.
I did however photograph my SIL' tasting sample:
Maple Butter Poached Lobster Tail with Sweet Potato and Fuji Apple Bisque and Fizzles of Green Onion
That is quite a mouthful of a name for what is known as an "amuse bouche" . It looks like a nice piece of lobster tail on in a small pool of clarified butter, but looks are deceiving. The butter-like substance is the Bisque of Fuji apple and sweet potato, it has a nice creamy texture with a good balance of sweet and just a touch of tartness. The recipe also contains orange zest and i noticed it as a pleasant extra touch that kept the bisque from tasting flat.
There is a lot of butter in the recipe, but since the lobster is simply poached in the butter, you don't actually eat very much of it. The maple syrup as it is properly used in this dish, brought out the sweetness of the lobster without being cloying. This is an important thing to note since i think many people might think that real maple syrup is similar to pancake syrup. They are totally different entities.
There is a reason why you can get 32 ounces of pancake syrup for $2.50 but 8oz of real maple syrup costs at least $5.00.
I think my favorite quote from my SIL's demonstration was when asked about why she uses unsalted butter...
the reply was "Because salt is one of those things you should watch your intake of." as she deftly began a pound and a half of butter melting in a pot.
Now you know why i like her so much!
i might write more on this later. i started it Friday night and finally got enough written for it to make sense this Saturday morning! Or i may leave it at this :-)