Birthday Party Snaps
Preparing a lobster bisque requires chopping the whole lobster (shells and all!) and sauteeing the result in butter. Notice the shells shattering everywhere on the countertop. We were picking them up for days.

Still more chopping. Two quarts of bisque need about four whole lobsters as input.

The first of the butter. This is just one of four batches needed to make the bisque. The large white kettle was used to cook off the chopped shells and meat. The cooked shells are then ground and strained to form a smooth soup. Note the blender full of ground lobster on the left.

Here my sous chef (ie, helper) John prepares the "Mis en Place" or prep work for the rest of the day's cooking. We started around 10 AM for a 6 PM party. "Mis en Place" makes sense in cases like this. Once all of the chopping is complete, the cooking can take place with much less stress.

Here I am using still more butter to create the puff pastry for the second appetizer, a set of crispy onion tarts. Puff pastry involves quite a bit of butter (one pound here) between layers of dough. The dough is folded and rolled repeatedly to form thousands of fine layers. It's actually easier than it looks or sounds.

John once again, this time working on the 120 miniature cream puffs that went into the Croquembouche. After the puffs have been baked and filled, they are stacked into a large cone, sticking them together with sugar syrup. This one was tricky to pull off, and we finished a short 15 minutes before the first guests arrived. John promptly had to leave for a prior engagement, missing the fruits of his own labors! Could you ask for a better friend than that?

Foreground features some of the 5 dozen eggs and more of the 6 pounds of butter we went through that day.

Here I am preparing the fruit tart. The two white pages you see above my head are the check off list of prep work. In all of the excitement, we actually managed to forget about putting the tart out until very late in the party. Do you think anyone went hungry?

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