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Lobster a La Riseholme

A community recipe by

Not tested or verified by Nigella.com

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Introduction

Warning: This introduction includes plot details. This literary dish plays a key role in E F Benson's delicious novel 'Mapp and Lucia', to which many have been introduced through a gloriously camp 1980's channel 4 series starring Geraldine McEwan, Prunella Scales and the late great Nigel Hawthorne. 'Mapp and Lucia' is a very English novel set in the town of Tilling (based on Rye in Sussex), the book documents the epic social war fought between established queen of Tilling society Elizabeth Mapp, and newcomer and arch rival Emmeline Lucas (known to all as Lucia). Lucia strives, with the assistance of her devoted companion Georgie Pillson, to topple Mapp from her throne and assume control of Tilling social life by means of plot, manoeuvre and intrigue. The details of Mapp and Lucia's various attacks and counter-offences become an integral part of daily life in Tilling, with gossip and speculation being exchanged over morning shopping (or Marketing) in the High Street. One of the most vicious bees in Mapp's seething bonnet relates to a recipe of Lucia's, famous in Tilling for its succulence and exquisite flavour; Lobster a la Riseholme (Riseholme being Lucia's previous home, which is thought to be based on the town of beautiful Cotswold village of Broadway in Worcestershire). Lucia is extremely secretive about the recipe, and even her cook did not know how to complete the recipe as Lucia always added the finishing touches by her own hand, and as a result the recipe became extremely coveted, particularly by Mapp. The recipe is instrumental in the lead up to a climactic scene in the novel where Elizabeth sneaks into Lucia's kitchen on a stormy Boxing Day, and copies the recipe from a book on the shelf, unfortunately Lucia returns and discovers Mapp. The storm outside has been so intense that the banks of the nearby river burst and Lucia's kitchen (located in the marshes outside Tilling) begins filling with flood water. Mapp and Lucia have only one means of escape, and are carried out to sea by the flood water on board an up-turned kitchen table. We are never given the recipe in the book, apart from its opening lines of "Take two hen lobsters" but we are told however that its sauce is pink in appearance. Some have suggested that the dish is vaguely based an Escoffier recipe for lobster with paprika. So I have created this recipe with these details in mind. I have called for the use of live lobster but I have made it with ready cooked lobster and it was still delicious. Serves 2 as a starter, double the quantities for 4 people. Apologies for the vague quantities but I'm something of an instinctive cook and the quantities vary each time I make it, so do taste the sauce and alter quantities if necessary.

Warning: This introduction includes plot details. This literary dish plays a key role in E F Benson's delicious novel 'Mapp and Lucia', to which many have been introduced through a gloriously camp 1980's channel 4 series starring Geraldine McEwan, Prunella Scales and the late great Nigel Hawthorne. 'Mapp and Lucia' is a very English novel set in the town of Tilling (based on Rye in Sussex), the book documents the epic social war fought between established queen of Tilling society Elizabeth Mapp, and newcomer and arch rival Emmeline Lucas (known to all as Lucia). Lucia strives, with the assistance of her devoted companion Georgie Pillson, to topple Mapp from her throne and assume control of Tilling social life by means of plot, manoeuvre and intrigue. The details of Mapp and Lucia's various attacks and counter-offences become an integral part of daily life in Tilling, with gossip and speculation being exchanged over morning shopping (or Marketing) in the High Street. One of the most vicious bees in Mapp's seething bonnet relates to a recipe of Lucia's, famous in Tilling for its succulence and exquisite flavour; Lobster a la Riseholme (Riseholme being Lucia's previous home, which is thought to be based on the town of beautiful Cotswold village of Broadway in Worcestershire). Lucia is extremely secretive about the recipe, and even her cook did not know how to complete the recipe as Lucia always added the finishing touches by her own hand, and as a result the recipe became extremely coveted, particularly by Mapp. The recipe is instrumental in the lead up to a climactic scene in the novel where Elizabeth sneaks into Lucia's kitchen on a stormy Boxing Day, and copies the recipe from a book on the shelf, unfortunately Lucia returns and discovers Mapp. The storm outside has been so intense that the banks of the nearby river burst and Lucia's kitchen (located in the marshes outside Tilling) begins filling with flood water. Mapp and Lucia have only one means of escape, and are carried out to sea by the flood water on board an up-turned kitchen table. We are never given the recipe in the book, apart from its opening lines of "Take two hen lobsters" but we are told however that its sauce is pink in appearance. Some have suggested that the dish is vaguely based an Escoffier recipe for lobster with paprika. So I have created this recipe with these details in mind. I have called for the use of live lobster but I have made it with ready cooked lobster and it was still delicious. Serves 2 as a starter, double the quantities for 4 people. Apologies for the vague quantities but I'm something of an instinctive cook and the quantities vary each time I make it, so do taste the sauce and alter quantities if necessary.

Ingredients

Serves: serves 2 as a starter

Metric Cups
  • 1 lobster (pref a hen)
  • 4 shallots (very finely chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons brandy
  • 2 tablespoons marsala
  • 150 millilitres double cream
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 3 pinches of cayenne pepper
  • 3 handfuls gruyere cheese (grated)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato passata
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of pepper
  • oil (or butter for frying)
  • 1 lobster (pref a hen)
  • 4 shallots (very finely chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons brandy
  • 2 tablespoons marsala
  • 5 fluid ounce heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 3 pinches of cayenne pepper
  • 3 handfuls gruyere cheese (grated)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato passata
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of pepper
  • oil (or butter for frying)

Method

Lobster a La Riseholme is a community recipe submitted by TimBris83 and has not been tested by Nigella.com so we are not able to answer questions regarding this recipe.

  • Place the lobster in the freezer for 2 hours before cooking to kill it. Never put a live lobster straight into boiling water, because apart from ethical issues the shock of the water may cause them to 'throw' their claws and you want them to remain intact for even cooking.
  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to the boil (it should taste like the sea) and add lobster. Boil for 15-20 minutes depending on the size of lobster.
  • Remove lobster and cool until comfortable to handle (see below how to break up the lobster) Rinse out the shells, and dry with kitchen paper
  • Heat oil and butter in a saucepan, add shallots and soften over a low heat for about 10 mins or until very soft, adding a little salt to the shallots helps slow down the colouring process.
  • Pour the brandy into a metal ladle and heat gently over a direct flame, set alight and pour over shallots, waiting for the flames to die down before adding the marsala to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add cream. Add paprika and cayenne
  • Add passata, Add gruyere and whisk until melted. Taste and season
  • Add the lobster meat to the sauce and spoon back into the shells. Sprinkle with the reserved cheese and grill for about 4 or 5 minutes until the cheese is golden brown. Serve immediately
  • Place the lobster in the freezer for 2 hours before cooking to kill it. Never put a live lobster straight into boiling water, because apart from ethical issues the shock of the water may cause them to 'throw' their claws and you want them to remain intact for even cooking.
  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to the boil (it should taste like the sea) and add lobster. Boil for 15-20 minutes depending on the size of lobster.
  • Remove lobster and cool until comfortable to handle (see below how to break up the lobster) Rinse out the shells, and dry with kitchen paper
  • Heat oil and butter in a saucepan, add shallots and soften over a low heat for about 10 mins or until very soft, adding a little salt to the shallots helps slow down the colouring process.
  • Pour the brandy into a metal ladle and heat gently over a direct flame, set alight and pour over shallots, waiting for the flames to die down before adding the marsala to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add cream. Add paprika and cayenne
  • Add passata, Add gruyere and whisk until melted. Taste and season
  • Add the lobster meat to the sauce and spoon back into the shells. Sprinkle with the reserved cheese and grill for about 4 or 5 minutes until the cheese is golden brown. Serve immediately
  • Additional Information

    Insert a large sharp knife at the cross behind the head and split the tail. Turn and split the head. Remove stomach sac. The tomalley (green liver) and grey meat in the head (including the red roe in a hen) are all edible, however I tend not to use them in this dish as I like to keep the flavours quite delicate. But please don't throw them away as they are quite delicious, I add them to fish soup. Pull off the claws, and using crackers or in the absence of crackers a bash from a sharp knife, remove the meat and cut into bite size pieces.Remove meat from the tail and cut into bite sized pieces, removing black intestinal tract as you go.

    Insert a large sharp knife at the cross behind the head and split the tail. Turn and split the head. Remove stomach sac. The tomalley (green liver) and grey meat in the head (including the red roe in a hen) are all edible, however I tend not to use them in this dish as I like to keep the flavours quite delicate. But please don't throw them away as they are quite delicious, I add them to fish soup. Pull off the claws, and using crackers or in the absence of crackers a bash from a sharp knife, remove the meat and cut into bite size pieces.Remove meat from the tail and cut into bite sized pieces, removing black intestinal tract as you go.

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    What 1 Other has said

    • A triumph! And there was me thinking I would have to wait until September (Friends of Tilling gathering!) to enjoy this. Thanks Tim for the effort. You've made me smile hugely. Ashley (devoted to Lucia for the past 30 years (and Nigella for only a little less)

      Posted by AshleyFromKent on 18th February 2015
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