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SHRIMP BISQUE

with a Shrimp Quenelle

Bisque is a rich cream soup that can be made with shrimp, or lobster. It is probably the one dish that has the greatest ratio of impressing your guests to how easy it is to make. Just smile when they say how hard it must have been to make.

 

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Sauté shrimp in butter. The picture above shows the drama of a sauté flip, but while it is a dramatic staple of experienced cooks, just stirring the shrimp as they cook works fine. Once the shrimp are cooked, but not over cooked, toss them in a blender and blend with some sort of stock, (just enough to ensure they blend smoothly) here vegetable stock. You can make your stock from scratch or buy it in can or concentrated. Just make sure it is not too salty, and reduced enough to taste good on its own. A splash of brandy, tawny port or dark rum adds a nice touch.

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Take the blended shrimp and stock mixture and add put it in a pot. Add cream - plenty of heavy whipping cream. Reduce by at least half, stirring almost constantly. When the cream is reduced enough the bubbles will leave craters when they pop.

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Take a nice cracker of your choice and grind it into a fine powder in your food processor. Strain the soup to remove all the fine pieces of shrimp, pressing out the liquid so that you end up with the paste on the right.

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Beat a few egg whites to soft peaks (you don't have to use a fork, but don't over beat them if you use an electric beater).

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Combine the cracker meal, the shrimp paste and the egg whites.

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Form the quenelle with two spoons into roughly a small egg shape.

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Just before serving the bisque, poach the quenelle mixture in a liquid (hot, but not boiling, the bubbles will break up the delicate quenelle). I usually use the same stock I added to the soup, plus some white wine or lemon juice to increase the acidity.

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I like to serve the quenelle in the empty bowl, and then go around and fill the bowl with the bisque at the table. it is not only a nice presentation, but the aroma that rises up really builds the anticipation.

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On the other hand, preparing the whole dish before hand allows you to add a sprig of herb (here oregano) for garnish.