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September 2013



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Starving Artists in the Kitchen--Crawfish Bisque

The Starving Artists Cook Crawfish Bisque!

I love the lobster bisque at Ventana’s Gourmet Grille http://www.tasteofmissouri.com/ventana/ *...but Ventana’s is closed on Mondays, as I wrote this, and for some reason Thursday is lobster bisque day). (If you’re ever in town, I recommend a visit! )

Anyway, what we had on hand was frozen crawfish meat. Joy of Cooking has a recipe for Crawfish Bisque, but it assumes you start with, well, mudbugs. Crawdads. Crayfish. Crawfish. Whatever! And the recipe reserves some of the critters to stuff for garnish.

I really wanted the taste of lobster or shrimp bisque, so decided to combine, expand, and experiment–as I usually do. (Who actually follows recipes unless you're baking?)  Crawfish is ever so much less expensive than lobster, by the way, unless you live by the sea, and it's very, very tasty!

One thing I learned, though, was that it’s not such a good idea to fill the blender container 2/3 full of hot soup stock and turn it on high without a REALLY good grip on the lid...

Ever see a geyser? Volcano, maybe? Yes, I made “Crawfish Vesuvius”...

This recipe requires doing several different things at once, so my knight rode his white charger into the kitchen at my cry for help and cleaned up the mess on the counter...and under the microwave...and all over the blender...and his 7-day vitamin container...

With a SMILE. Bless the man!

I kept cooking...


Here are the basics!

1 lb. crawfish meat (tails, fresh caught, frozen, etc.) (or shrimp, or lobster) (We found crawfish tail meat at our local grocers and also at the little fish market out by the Missouri River. A buddy gets it at WalMart--it's not hard to find.)
(If you have to prepare your own, shell them and saute lightly with butter and finely chopped onion, then grind.)

1 ½ C. chicken or other soup stock (I had mostly veggie, with a bit of chicken flavor)

1 sweet onion, chopped

3-4 ribs celery and leaves, chopped

2 cloves garlic (the recipes didn’t call for garlic but I know us...)

1 bay leaf

Since this was crawfish, I added a bit of gumbo file herb–I had it on hand! Maybe ½ t.

Freshly ground peppercorns–we like the medley of several different kinds

A little sea salt...we try to cut down, so just a wee tad for us, thanks...

2 C. half and half, warmed

½ C. sour cream (optional. You can just use extra half and half or milk, or yogurt*)

1/4 C. sherry (I didn’t have this, so I used white wine. It was FINE.)

4 T. butter

1/4 C. chopped or grated onion

A goodly sprinkle of paprika, maybe a half teaspoon, more if you like (had smoked on hand, yum...)
Another sprinkle of nutmeg.

OK, so I may have made this a bit more complicated than it needed to be...work with me here!

Chop the onion and celery and put them into the soup stock with a couple of cloves of garlic, a bay leaf, the gumbo file, the pepper. Simmer, covered, for half an hour, then remove the bay leaf and puree in the blender.

A little at a time.
Not on high speed.

Meanwhile, melt the butter (or butter/canola mix, like we use) in a small skillet, and cook the finely chopped or grated onion till soft. Add the crawfish meat and keep stirring till it’s warm.

Warm the half and half, then stir it into the stock, along with the optional sour cream. (I just like sour cream!)

Put half of the crawfish and onion mixture in the blender, with half the warmed half and half, and whir. Carefully. With a tight lid.

Add to the pot of stock you’ve put back on the stove, and repeat with the other half. (You can use a hand grinder if you prefer, or a Cuisinart if you like high tech.)

Now, add the white wine or sherry, about a half teaspoon of paprika, and the nutmeg. Stir, and summer gently for a few more minutes...

Some recipes suggest adding flour or bread crumbs to thicken, but this was plenty thick enough. I think I had more meat than they normally use!

Seriously good, seriously rich. This is not low-cal eating, here, folks...

We were at Costco last week and looked at their already prepared lobster bisque...and then remembered the taste of this. We weren't even tempted, we'll make our own!


If you really do prefer having a more complete recipe to go buy, this book looks like a good possibility: Fine Kettles of Fish: A Treasury of Seafood Chowders, Bisques, Soups & Stews  It's IN there...

Roadfood: The Coast-to-Coast Guide to 700 of the Best Barbecue Joints, Lobster Shacks, Ice Cream Parlors, Highway Diners, and Much, Much More makes me want to hit the road in search of the perfect bisque...but ya know?  May have found it in our own kitchen!

* The Taste of Missouri site is the brainchild of my good friends and webmasters at morgansites.com--check it out! If you're in the area, I can recommend the places they've featured. And hey, you'll find my website and blog there, too! http://www.tasteofmissouri.com/

*  As noted you can substitute yogurt for the sour cream--whole milk yogurt is about 160 calories in a CUP, and 2 TABLESPOONS of sour cream is 60 calories--so 480 calories for a cup of sour cream.  More fat, too...and yogurt offers more calcium, so your choice!)


The crawfish in the illustration was done years ago for one of my books--I don't even remember which one, now! It's watercolor on Fabriano cold pressed paper...



This sounds very tasty. We don't see crayfish at the market here in my area of California, but will try it with shrimp. I had to laugh, though, at the thought of “Crawfish Vesuvius”.

Shrimp would work just fine--or crab, or lobster. And yep, it WAS pretty funny!
Gad, that looks delicious! I'm here by way of Kass, BTW. Enjoying your art as business posts.
Networking rocks! And it IS delicious...cheaper than lobster, too. ;-P
this looks so good that i'm salivating. beats the crap out of my strawberry yogurt...

maybe time to cheat a bit, this weekend... yummmmmm.
Yeah, hmmmm...strawberry yogurt's fine for breakfast...but this was a MEAL! ;-)