The celebrations surrounding my children’s day of birth have been largely influenced by my personal inclination towards small, intimate affairs. I prefer instead to invite close family to a meal of the guest of honor’s choice and ice cream (always ice cream).
Often we venture to our favorite local ice cream shop as a group to stand at the glass-encased cold counter and have individual cones scooped for each family member, a rainbow of colors stuffed into crisp homes and handed over the divider to the gleaming-eyed recipient. Some years we opt to carry home one of their cakes, pulled from the basement freezer, adorned with candles, and presented accompanied by traditional birthday song.
Always, though, I try to prepare my progeny’s favorite meal for them on the night of their birth. There are sushi dinners, seaweed-wrapped rolls with bright pink salmon laid out with sets of chopsticks for six. There are elaborate gyro dinners with grilled naan and homemade tzatziki, the cucumber picked straight from the garden.
For my eldest, the way to her heart is through medium-rare steak and creamy pasta sauces. These two things have long been her love language. Yet this year, we opted to switch things up a bit. As best as I could figure, lobster seemed a relatively easy one to sell the not-so-little kid on. Luckily, teenage sensibilities were soft that day, and soon we were discussing lobster possibilities and dessert designs, the steak and pasta all but forgotten.
We settled on lime-grilled lobster, slathered at the end with a kiss of zested butter served over a bright spring onion risotto. The vibrant onions add a bright contrast to the creamy rice dish, priming it for the delicate lobster.
Dinner was a success. I may still owe a certain 14-year-old a trip to the ice cream shop, though.
Having birthday traditions is one of those things that I find more rewarding than cake and presents. The anticipation of each child’s birthday is always met with prep and planning, discussions about what to eat. We talk about foods that go together or don’t, and at the end we spend an evening cooking together and eating together. It is definitely a family tradition that binds us together and makes us stronger, and it’s one I’m not set to give up anytime soon.
Shallot and Scallion Risotto with Grilled Lobster
Total time: 1 hour
Yields: 4 servings
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- 6 scallions, diced with whites and greens separated
- 1 1/2 cps Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
- Salt to taste
- 2 medium to large lobster tails
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salted butter, melted
- 1 lime, juiced and zested
- Preheat the grill. In a large saucepan, heat the chicken stock until hot and steaming. Once hot, in a large saute pan, melt 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Add the shallot and cook for 2-3 minutes until it begins to soften. Stir in the whites of the scallions and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Stir in the Arborio rice, making sure it is well coated. Then stir in the white wine. Cook, stirring frequently, until nearly all the wine has been absorbed.
- Add 1/2 cup of broth and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. Cook until tick trails are left in the pan as you stir, and then incorporate additional stock. Repeat this process until almost all the stock has been used and the rice is tender, waiting for the rice to absorb the stock after each 1/2-cp addition. This should take 20-25 minutes.
- Once the rice is tender, but still has a slight bite, add in the Parmesan cheese, remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, and the mascarpone. Stir to combine.
- Wash the lobster tails. Cut each lobster tail lengthwise down the center of the tail with a sharp knife. Brush the flesh with olive oil. Use the remaining olive oil to oil the grill grates.
- Cook the lobster, flesh side down on the oiled grates, for 5 minutes. Turn to the shell side and continue cooking 3-4 minutes or until just cooked through. (Cooking time will vary depending on tail size.) Remove from the grill and immediately brush with the melted butter, drizzle with lime juice, and garnish with lime zest.
- Serve the lobster over bowls of risotto garnished with the diced greens of the scallions.
Photo credit: Shaina Olmanson