you won’t believe me but…

seaman scarf progressI’m actually knitting something. For real.

It’s a seaman’s scarf for my dad. His birthday is in October, so chances are good that I’ll finish in time.

The pattern is Jacob’s Ladder (I think). I spied it in one of the Vogue Stitchionaries, but didn’t actually write down any of the details. Regardless of whether it follows Vogue’s recipe exactly or not, I’m rather pleased with it.

I’ll post the pattern when it’s all done. I know, you can hardly stand the wait.

mmm…soda bread

soda bread

This is a seriously good recipe. Far and away the best I’ve made. Thank you once again, Cook’s Illustrated. We gobbled up this yummy bread along with some incredibly sweet and salty Irish Butter, a delicious aged Irish Cheddar, and an Irish Stout cheese. Oh, and some Beamish.  A lovely St. Patrick’s day all around.

soda bread

Irish Soda Bread

  • 3 c – all purpose flour
  • 1 c – cake flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp – baking soda
  • 1-1/2 tsp – salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp – cream of tartar
  • 2 TBSP – sugar
  • 2 TBSP+ – butter (softened)
  • 1-1/2 c – buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix a.p. flour, cake flour, baking soda, salt, cream of tartar, and sugar in a bowl. Work butter into the dry ingredients until you have coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk. When the dough just begins to come together turn it out onto a floured surface and knead briefly – just until its is cohesive and bumpy.

(Resist the temptation to overwork the dough, as it will cause the bread to come out tough and chewy)

Form the dough into a 6-inch disk and cut a cross in the top using a serrated (bread) knife. Place it on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees (the recipe says 35-45 minutes, but it’s more like 30 in my oven).

When done, transfer the loaf to a cooling rack and brush liberally with 1-2 TBSP melted butter and let it cool. You really should let it cool so the fluffy little air bubbles can form.  Hard to resist digging in immediately, as it smells soooo good…


caviar cups


So, the idea of gyoza wrapper “crisps” was intriguing, though not exactly right for our lobster dinner. Instead we made hors d’oevres of little baked cups filled with a dab of crème fraîche, a dollop of caviar, and a sprig of dill.

To make the cups, lightly oil both sides of 12 gyoza or won ton wrappers (we used won ton) and press one into each cup of a mini-muffin pan. Bake at 425 for 7-10 minutes – until toasted. Once cooled, spoon in some crème fraîche. If you can’t buy crème fraîche, just mix 1 cup sour cream and 1/3 cup heavy cream together, thanks for the tip, Monseigneur Pépin. Top the crème fraîche with caviar (or salmon roe, as we did), then dress with a sprig of dill.

After nibbling a few tasty treats, we realized something was missing. Aha! The pièce de résistance, lemon zest, added exactly the right zing.

caviar cups


Bon appétit!

Vegetable Ravioli in Lobster Champagne Sauce

Here’s the recipe we used for our decadent anniversary supper. No better way to spend the day than in the kitchen.

veggie ravioli  tiny bubbles  lobster champagne sauce

Vegetable Ravioli in Lobster Champagne Sauce

(serves 2 + extra ravioli)

  • 2, 1-1/2 lb live lobsters
  • 3 cups Brut Champagne (entire 750ml bottle)
  • 3 cups lobster stock (made by boiling the lobster)
  • 1/2 cup minced shallot
  • 1-1/2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 4 TBSP butter (unsalted)
  • 1/2 fennel bulb (3/4 cup julienned, 1/2 cup minced)
  • 2-3 carrots (3/4 cup julienned, 1/2 cup minced)
  • 1 leek (3/4 cup julienned, 1/2 cup minced)
  • fresh dill
  • salt & pepper
  • 24-30 won ton wrappers
  • every bowl that you own

1. Open one Guinness. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While waiting for water to boil, drink aforementioned Guinness. Open new Guinness.

2. Drop wriggling lobsters into boiling water and immediately (IMMEDIATELY!) cover pot. Chug second Guinness and dab tears. If God didn’t want us to eat lobster, (S)He wouldn’t have made them so tasty. Boil lobster for about 8 minutes. Do not drain the water – you will use this later.

3. Move cooked lobster to large bowl and allow to cool.  When cool enough to handle, working over the bowl to catch any juices, remove the meat and place in a new bowl and refrigerate, reserve the shells and juice for the sauce. (Don’t be silly! Of course you won’t actually eat the shells.)

4. Start the sauce. Add the shells, juice, champagne, 3 cups of stock that you reserved from step 2 (hold on to the rest, you’ll still need it), tomato paste and shallots to a large saucepan. Simmer uncovered for about an hour.

5. If you haven’t already, now’s a good time to prep your veggies. Be sure to keep the julienned and minced separate. Not a bad time for another Guinness either.

6. Strain sauce into bowl, cover, and set aside (refrigerate it if you’re planning to wait a while before finishing the dish).

7. Using the same saucepan, melt 2 TBSP butter over medium-low heat and scrape the pan to loosen the yummy bits that are stuck to the bottom. Add the minced fennel and carrots. Saute for 3 minute then add the minced leeks, and cook for 3 more minutes until soft. Put the cooked minced veggies – you guessed it – in a bowl, and reserve the saucepan for one more session.

8. Make your ravioli. Have a clean, dry dishtowel flat and ready to receive the finished ravioli. Also fill a small bowl with water for dipping your fingers in. Wet the edges of a won ton, and place a teaspoon of the the sauteed, minced veggies in the center. Put a second wrapper on top and press the edges together firmly to seal, making sure there is no air trapped inside. Lay ravioli on the towel and repeat. Make sure the ravs don’t touch while they are wet or they’ll stick together.

9. Bring your lobster stock back to a low boil. Pull your lobster from the fridge and cut the tail into medallions and the claw and any other meat into manageable pieces.

10. Add another 2 TBSP butter to your saucepan and heat over medium-low. Saute the julienned fennel and carrots for 3 minutes, add the leeks and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. The julienned veggies should still be a little crisp. Add the lobster, cover, and heat through. Toss the veggies and lobster back in a bowl and place in the oven to keep warm.

11. Gently add the ravioli to the boiling lobster stock, being careful not to overcrowd, and cook for 2 minutes. Return the cooked ravioli to the dishtowel.

12. In the same saucepan, pour the lobster sauce and return to a simmer. Stir in cream and simmer until reduce to about 1/2 cup, 6-10 minutes. (If you’d prefer a thicker sauce, stir in some dissolved cornstarch or for even more richness whisk in a TBSP or 2 of butter). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

13. Arrange a bed of veggies and lobster on a plate, add a few ravioli, pour the lobster sauce over it, then top with veggies and lobster and fresh dill.

14. Pop another bottle of bubbly and enjoy!

We had enough leftover ravioli and sauce for supper the next night. The inspiration for our recipe was Lobster Crisps in Champagne-Dill Sauce. Though we didn’t use the “crisps” in our recipe, they did inspire some very yummy caviar bites.  Tomorrow…