Sorry I’m late today.  This is a rather unsatisfactory post all around, actually.

First, there’s camera drama.  My friend Dave has my camera but doesn’t think he does.  I left it there on Thanksgiving, when I cooked him (and 14 other people) a goose.  So, still no pictures, although D. says she can help me find one somewhere. [Done! – D.]

Then, well, there was the bisque itself. I was excited to make bisque.  I’ve had it numerous times in restaurants, and I thought I would like making it.  I adapted the lobster bisque recipe from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook.  Bourdain has never led me wrong before; therefore I must claim credit for this miss.

First, I sauteed shrimp, in their shells, all chopped up.  I had some extra shrimp shells in the freezer so I threw those in for good measure.  “That stinks,” J. said.  I had to agree, but I was hopeful.  Then I threw in some chopped celery, garlic and onion.  The extreme fish-shell aroma receded, to be replaced by a pleasant, shrimpy aroma.  About then D. called.  We discussed camera drama.  While we were on the phone, I added some tomato paste and brandy.  Things were definitely looking up.

Then I stirred in some water and a bouquet garnit and let the whole thing simmer for about 45 minutes.  The shrimp-shell smell was rather strong, but I plowed on ahead.  Following Bourdain’s instructions, I ground up the shrimp, shell and all, in my food processor, put it back in the pot with some cream  (diluted with milk – maybe that was my mistake?) and cooked for another half an hour.  I strained the whole mess through a seive, pressing hard on the solids.  I re-heated it, seasoned with salt and pepper, and served.  It was a pleasant, orangy-shrimpy colour.  It sort of stunk.

image courtesy 46137 / Flickr- some rights reserved

image courtesy 46137 / Flickr- some rights reserved

We each took precisely one bite.

“It just tastes like shrimp shells,” J. said, “I want to like it, after all the work you put in.”  I had to agree.  A definite miss.

Maybe it was the gorgeous lemongrass chicken, served with a green papapya and mango salad, that J. and I were whipping up on the side.  Every bite a revelation of hot, sour, salty, sweet, and fresh.Of course sauteed shrimp shells couldn’t stand up.

In the end, it was an amazing dinner.