Ok, enough with all this creamy, grainy comfort food — time to bring on the drama! And nothing says ooh-la-la, I am a DRAMATIC dinner like lobster. Now, lobster is usually something I save for eating at the beach (Red’s Lobster Pot, Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. Go there at least in your life. Trust me on this.) But that is when we are talking about whole lobsters. Let someone else have the putting of the lobster in the pot guilt, never mind the mess of the shells that fling themselves across the room as you are cracking your way through dinner.
However, recipes that involve lobster meat as part of the dish? Bring ’em on, baby. In those cases we purchase the lobster at the supermarket, they steam it right there, and then all I have to do is talk my sous-chef husband into doing the hard part, which is extracting the meat from the shell and chopping it into succulent little chunks. I am then home-free on the rest of the dish, because (once again) he has done the serious work. He also cleans up the kitchen, by the way. Every night. No, you cannot borrow him, he’s MINE.
This delightful, delicious, de-lovely lobster dish is from the cookbook ITALY AL DENTE by Biba Caggiano. This is a quick and pretty sauce that called for tomatoes sauted in olive oil with garlic, sundried tomato, red pepper and (and this MAKES the dish) a handful of capers. Some lobster meat, a lacing of butter, some hot pasta, and your evening just got a whole lot better!
1 lobster, steamed, meat extracted and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon minced sun-dried tomatoes
1-2 tablespoons capers
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, seeded and diced
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoons butter
8 ounces tagliolini pasta (use linguine if you can’t find this)
To neatly and evenly transfer the cake batter to the ramekins, Fleming likes to use an ice cream scoop, but if you don’t have one, the batter can just as easily be poured.
Yield: Makes 6 individual cakes
4 ounces almond paste (not marzipan)
1/2 cup sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
For chocolate passion-fruit sauce:
5 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup passion fruit juice, such as Loóza Passion Fruit Nectar
Special equipment: 6 (1/2-cup) ramekins, food processor, stand mixer with paddle attachment
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour ramekins.
In food processor, process almond paste and sugar until mixture resembles fine sand, 10 to 15 seconds. Transfer to bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, then add butter and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down bowl as necessary, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Sift over almond paste mixture, then mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
Divide batter among prepared ramekins, smoothing tops. Transfer to baking sheet and bake until cakes are golden brown and springy to touch, about 30 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool while making sauce. (Cakes can be baked ahead, removed from ramekins, and frozen, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, up to 1 week. Allow 4 hours for cakes to thaw at room temperature. To rewarm, place on parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes.)
Transfer chopped chocolate to small bowl.
In small saucepan over moderate heat, stir together cream and passion fruit juice. Bring to boil, then pour over chocolate and let stand 30 seconds. Using heat-proof silicone spatula, stir until smooth, about 30 seconds. Cover with plastic wrap and keep warm.
Pour about 2 tablespoons sauce into center of each plate.
Run small, thin knife around inner edge of 1 ramekin, then invert onto palm of hand and, using other palm, smack bottom of ramekin to release cake. Transfer cake to rack and sift confectioners’ sugar over, then transfer to prepared plate. Unmold remaining cakes in same manner. Serve immediately.
Inactive Prep Time:
2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell
3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 extra-large egg yolk
2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
Lemon wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.
In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined.
Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.
2 – 8 ounce lobster tails, uncooked, shell removed, each tail cut in 2
8 tbsp (1 stick) butter
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp each, salt and pepper
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups whole milk
2 cups extra sharp Cheddar cheese, freshly grated
2 cups Fontina cheese, freshly grated
1 ounce dry porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in 1 cup hot water,
drained, then chopped
1 pound elbow macaroni, or other tubular pasta, cooked 2 minutes less
than recommended in package directions, drained
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Poached Lobster Directions:
Melt butter over low heat in a small saucepan.
Add lobster pieces and cook for 5 minutes, ensuring to baste with
Remove from heat and allow to cool, then chop lobster into large bite-
Place butter in a large saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add flour
and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Season with salt and
Stir the heavy cream and the milk into the butter/flour mixture and
bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes,
Slowly add the cheeses, a handful at a time, and stir until fully
incorporated. Add chopped porcini and cook 1 more minute.
Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce and mix well. Gently fold in
the cooked lobster meat.
Add cheesy pasta to a 13×9 baking dish.
Microwave butter in a small dish for 45 seconds. Add panko and cayenne
pepper and stir to incorporate the butter and create a crumbly
Sprinkle panko mixture over pasta in an even layer.
Bake pasta for 15 minutes until panko mixture has lightly browned.
Serve at once.
Makes 6 servings.
For this recipe I turned to one of my tried and true baking resources: Ann Byrn’s “Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor”. The book (as well as others by Ann Byrn) contains great recipes which allow you to “doctor” pantry ingredients that you already have on hand to create a tasty repast. I decided on a triple chocolate cake recipe entitled “Kathy’s Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake.” Please forgive me for the crumbs-we were all anxious to cut and eat!
1 ten inch tube pan, misted with non-stick spray
Flour for dusting the pan.
1 18.25 ounce package devil’s food or dark chocolate cake mix.
1 package (3.9 ounces) instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup whole milk
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 ½ cup chocolate chips (the book suggests mini chips but regular size worked fine for me).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray tube pan with non-stick spray and dust with flour, shaking out any excess.
Combine cake mix, pudding mix, milk oil and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with a mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Beat 2 to 3 minutes more. The batter should look thick and well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, making sure that they are well distributed. Pour the batter in the pan and smooth the batter out.
Bake cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with a spoon and is just starting to pull away from the pan, 50 to 55 minutes (Note-my oven runs warm so I baked for 45 minutes). Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 minutes. Run a long sharp knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a rack. Allow to cool 20 minutes more. Dust with confectioner’s sugar. Consume with friends.