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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2 Cents Worth

I'm still  basking in the glow of my smallish windfall from our casino shenanigans last week. The first evening began like a typical evening in a casino. Bet. Lose. Repeat. Droning monotony. Michael and I had gambled our hearts out, consumed a ridiculous amount of vodka, and were biding our time through the waning hours of the night when we found a skanky bank of 2 cent slot machines tucked away in a dark corner of the noisy casino. We were surrounded by hoards of bussed-in fiesty old ladies sporting crushed velvet sweat suits and matchy-matchy casual wear. Bring it.  The bar was nearby.  Bonus.

Bottoms up. We were oblivious to everything while we chatted, laughed, and sipped our low brow vodka tonics. In fact, we weren't even paying attention to our 2 cent slot machines.  Who cared? Other people always hit the big jackpots, causing their machines to explode into loud symphonies of bells, whistles, and gut-wrenching sirens.  Bitter? Hell, yeah. Bottoms up.

That particular night, things panned out differently. While nonchalantly ordering another round of drinks, my machine hit a bonus round. My bouncing ball hit the mark.  It hit big. The little white ball landed softly on 50,000 bonus credits. Really? We stared.  We screamed. We screamed and stared.

 After 30 minutes of counting down 50,000 credits, my total amounted to $1081.51. Not quite a Mega Millions haul, but it was pretty cool for a skanky 2 cent late night drunken bet.

We  celebrated quietly (pajama-clad) back  in our hotel room with cold take-out chili dogs and dill pickle spears washed down with vending machine soda.  Fancy. Living the life. High rollers.  Big spenders.

The following night, we took a break from the raucous casino chaos and continued our little celebration with a fantastic meal at Jack Binions Steakhouse. Nestled into a curved over-tufted candlelit banquette, we quietly  feasted  on succulent  pan seared bay scallops bathed in a lemony beurre blanc, deeply charred blood rare filet mignons, and crispy salt-packed buttered baked potatoes  washed down with several glasses of soft pinot noir. We stayed away from the casino. Better yet, we stayed away from the free lobster tails offered at The Paula Deen Buffet.

The next morning, we drove home. Through the woods, over the bridge, and back to reality. Click. Click. Click. There's no place like home. Serene and quiet. Perfect.

As our extreme weekend wound down, I wanted to close it out with a final homage to that humble 2 cent bet. Packed with $100 bills, I gave a  slight nod to luxuary and picked up a couple of whole steamed lobsters.

 Lobster Eggs Benedict.

I have an aversion to killing live lobsters.  The trauma of slaughtering several live lobsters with a large knife in front of a classroom filled with onlooking doe-eyed students still haunts me, so I simply buy them pre cooked. No apologies. Nope. None.

After cracking the shells of two steamed 1 pound lobsters, I removed the meat from the claws and tails before tossing the remaining parts into the freezer for a future stock.

I whipped together a quick blender hollandaise sauce by blending 2 egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice before slowly adding 1 1/4 cups of melted and warmed unsalted butter until the sauce emulsified. I'm not fond of gloppy hollandaise, so I added a bit more lemon juice for a slightly acidic thinner sauce.

After toasting a couple of split English muffins, I sauteed 1/2 pound of farmers' market spinach with garlic, salt, and pepper. With the hollandaise and spinach on deck, I steamed a few halved fingerling potatoes until they were fork tender before roasting them with butter, salt, and cracked pepper.

While the potatoes browned, I warmed the reserved lobster meat over a low flame in 1/4 cup of unsalted butter and slipped 4 organic Elmwood Stock Farm eggs into a bubbling vinegar-kissed water bath.When the last egg splashed into the simmering water, I covered the pan, removed it from the heat, and allowed the eggs to poach for 5 minutes before carefully removing them with a slotted spoon.

I buttered the toasted English muffins before topping them with  the sauteed spinach, split lobster tails, claw meat, and jiggly poached eggs. After spooning generous amounts of hollandaise sauce over the eggs, I showered  them with snipped fresh chives and tumbled the roasted fingerling potatoes to the side.

 When pierced, the runny yolks spilled through the hollandaise, puddling and swirling together to create an addtional bonus sauce. Win.

Bites of delicate lobster meat popped through the deep yellow yolks with hints of wilted garlic spinach, crisp buttery muffins, lemony hollandaise, and grassy fresh chives.

Rich and decadent,
it was a happy overindulgent ending to our wild and extreme weekend.

Never underestimate the value of a penny
or two.

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