Cucumber-Wrapped Croutons with Cauliflower Mousseline and Lobster
From Sweden, this award-winning hors d'oeuvre is delightful to behold and delicious to eat.
Yield: makes 20
- 1 (1 1/2-lb.) live Maine lobster
- 1⁄2 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
- 1⁄4 bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped
- 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 shallot, peeled and chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 4-5 sprigs fresh dill
- 1⁄2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
- Florets from 1⁄4 head cauliflower
- 3⁄4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp. crème fraîche
- Freshly ground white pepper
- 5 slices white bread
- 1 tbsp. butter, melted
- 1 small fresh medium-hot chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
- 1 seedless cucumber
- Cook lobster in a large pot of boiling salted water for 8 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl of ice water to let cool. Drain lobster. Remove tail and claw meat, cover, and refrigerate (save knuckle meat for another use). Put lobster shells and body into a medium pot. Add bell peppers, fennel, tomatoes, shallots, garlic, 3 sprigs of the dill, and 6 cups water. Boil over medium-high heat until stock has reduced to 2⁄3 cup, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Strain stock into a small pot, discarding solids, and season to taste with salt. Pour half the stock into a small bowl and set aside to let cool. Sprinkle gelatin over stock in bowl and let soften for 5 minutes. Bring stock in pot to a simmer, remove pot from heat, add gelatin–stock mixture, and whisk to combine. Transfer stock to a shallow dish, cover, and refrigerate until jelled, about 4 hours.
- Cook cauliflower in cream in a small pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes, then drain and purée in a blender until very smooth. Combine purée, crème fraîche, and salt and white pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
- Preheat oven to 300°. Cut bread into 20 rounds using a 1 1⁄4" round cookie cutter. Toss rounds with butter, then spread them out on a sheet pan in a single layer. Toast in oven until evenly golden and crisp, turning once, about 10 minutes. Set aside to let cool completely.
- Halve lobster tail meat lengthwise, slice tail and claw meat into 1⁄4"-thick pieces, toss with chiles, and set aside. Cut cucumber in half crosswise. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, slice 1 of the cucumber halves lengthwise into 1⁄16"-thick strips, turning cucumber as necessary to avoid core. Set 20 of the widest strips aside, discarding remaining strips. Save remaining cucumber half for another use. Trim cucumber strips into 3⁄4" x 4 1⁄4" pieces.
- To assemble the canapés, wrap 1 cucumber slice around circumference of 1 toast, pressing strip to make it adhere to itself. Spoon 1 tsp. of the cauliflower purée, then 1⁄4 tsp. of the jellied lobster stock, into the cucumber cup, top with 2 pieces lobster meat, and garnish with a frond of dill. Repeat process, making 20 canapés in all. Serve immediately.