Date Night In: Brown Butter Lobster Tortellini

Brown Butter Lobster Tortellini

Brown Butter Lobster Tortellini

Valentine’s Day.

To be honest, Aaron and I aren’t really all that into it. It’s mushy and romantic, two words that don’t really describe our relationship. It’s also a day where you know that everyone around you in a restaurant is on a date and
that
is
weird.

For us, Valentine’s is usually just a night in with a home cooked meal that seems much fancier than a normal night’s feast but, in reality, is just as easy to whip up.

I mean, any excuse to open a bottle of wine and dig into a big plate of brown butter lobster tortellini mid-week is reason enough for to celebrate, right?


Brown Butter Lobster Tortellini

Serves 2

 1 batch Basic Pasta Dough or 25–30 wonton wrappers
2 fresh (or frozen and thawed) 175g lobster tails
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1–2 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ lemon, zested and juiced
Pinch red chili flakes
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
2/3 cup smooth ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce and serving
3–4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
½ lemon, zested and juiced
Kosher salt
Fresh tarragon and parsley, finely chopped
Pecorino Romano cheese

Prepare a batch of Basic Pasta Dough, cover, and set aside (or set out your wonton wrappers, cover, and set aside).

Remove the lobster meat from the shells by cutting down the centre of each tail with a pair of kitchen shears, splitting the shell open, and extracting all of the meat. Chop the meat into small pieces and set aside.

In a medium non-stick skillet, melt the butter and cook until it starts to turn lightly golden brown. Add in the chopped lobster meat as well as the finely minced garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the lobster meat is just cooked through. Add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, chili flakes, and herbs and transfer the meat to a bowl. Set aside to cool slightly.

When cooled, stir in the ricotta cheese and egg yolk and season well with salt and pepper.

To form the tortellini, roll out the pasta dough into very thin sheets.  Using a 4-inch round cutter, cut out as many circles as possible (you can also use a knife to cut 4-inch squares).  Place a rounded teaspoon of the lobster filling into the middle of each pasta shape.  Dip your finger in a bowl of water and run it along the edge to moisten.  Fold the dough over to form a half moon (or triangles) around the filling, press well to seal, then draw the two corners of the half moon together to form a little tortellini shape.  Press tightly to join the two corners together and place your formed tortellini onto a flour dusted baking sheet, leaving room between each shape. 

For the brown butter sauce, add the butter to a large stainless steel sauté pan and set it over medium heat. Allow the butter to melt and brown, stirring occasionally. As soon as the butter is golden, add in the black pepper and halved cherry tomatoes and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or just until the tomatoes start to soften up. Add in the lemon zest and juice and remove the pan from the heat.

Cook the tortellini in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes for fresh pasta or 2 minutes for wonton wrappers or until the tortellini bob up to the surface and is cooked to your liking.

When the tortellini is cooked, transfer them directly to the brown butter and toss to combine. Add in a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking liquid and give the tortellini a toss so that it is thoroughly coated with the brown butter sauce. Season with a pinch of kosher salt, toss in some fresh herbs and serve, topped with a scattering of Pecorino Romano.

Croque Monsieur Mac & Cheese: It's like if the world's best sandwich and the most cheesy pasta had a baby

Croque Monsieur Mac & Cheese

Croque Monsieur Mac & Cheese

When I made this little number for my hubs, he told me that I’m an evil genius who must be stopped.

He then voraciously dug into his third serving.

A super cheesy French sandwich with all my favourite flavours + everyone’s favourite pasta dish = all of the carbs and cheese I could ever want on my plate.

Also, two things:

  1. That photo up there is a double recipe. My friends devoured it during our latest game night and there was still enough left over for lunch the next day! In my house, the only thing better than mac & cheese is bonus mac & cheese.

  2. If you are more of a stovetop mac & cheese person, omit the casserole dish and topping and stir the ham into the sauce with the noodles. It’ll be so good.


Croque Monsieur Mac and Cheese

Serves 4

225g dry rigatoni
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk, warmed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon Herbes de Provence
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ cup (30g) grated Pecorino cheese
2 cups (120g) grated Gruyere cheese*
225g sliced deli ham, roughly chopped

For the topping:
1 egg
2 tablespoons whole milk
2 slices white bread, roughly torn into nickel-sized pieces
½ cup (30g) grated Gruyere cheese*
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 425ºF and lightly grease a 9-inch square casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray or room temperature butter.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil then add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and leave it in the colander until ready to use.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in the garlic and cook for about 1 minute then sprinkle in the flour. Whisk the flour in and cook, whisking constantly, for about 1 to 2 minutes to toast the roux. While continuing to whisk, slowly pour in the warm milk, salt, pepper, Herbes de Provence, and nutmeg and bring it all to a light boil. Cook, whisking frequently, until thick, about 4 to 5 minutes.

When the sauce is thick, turn the heat down to low and whisk in the mustard, grated Pecorino cheese, and grated Gruyere. Switch to a heatproof spatula or a wooden spoon and carefully stir in the cooked rigatoni making sure that every noodle is well coated. Pour half of the mixture into your prepared casserole dish, scatter on half of the ham, then layer on the remaining pasta and ham and set aside.

To make the topping, whisk the egg and 2 tablespoons of milk in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the torn bread and ½ cup of grated Gruyere.

Top the casserole with this bread mixture and pop it in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Allow the mac and cheese to rest for a few minutes before digging in!

*Emmental, Jarlsberg, or regular Swiss cheese will also work well in this recipe - I just love the classic, nutty flavour of Gruyere best!

Rx: The World's Most Cold-Busting Soup

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Homemade super-health-ified chicken noodle soup that is approximately 87x better than the canned stuff but pretty much just as easy to prepare!


Lemon Ginger Chicken Soup

Serves 3–4

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, finely sliced
1­–2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 – 900ml carton low sodium chicken broth
1 ½ cups dry orzo pasta
2–3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked (a grocery store rotisserie bird is perfect for this!)
1 ½ cups chopped kale
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
½–1 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Finely sliced red Thai chilis, optional for garnish and spice

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat and add in the onions and celery.  Cook, stirring frequently, just until the onions begin to soften, about 1–2 minutes.  Add in the garlic, ginger, and turmeric and continue to cook for an additional minute.

Pour the carton of PC Blue Menu Chicken Broth over the aromatics along with ½ cup of water and increase the heat to high.  Bring the broth to a boil then stir in the orzo and cook for 5–6 minutes.  The pasta will still quite toothy at this point but that’s ok!

Meanwhile, remove the breasts from the whole chicken and chop or shred the meat.  If you are using President’s Choice Gluten-Free Fire-Roasted Chicken Breast Strips, simple give them a rough chop into bite-sized pieces.

When the pasta has reached that toothy consistency, toss the chicken into the pot along with the chopped kale and continue to boil for an additional 3–4 minutes or until the chicken is heated through, the orzo is fully cooked, and the kale has softened.

Just before serving, stir in the parsley, enough lemon juice to give the soup a bit of a zip, and season with salt and pepper.  Serve the soup topped with a scattering of finely sliced red Thai chilis if you’re looking to really kick that cold to the curb!

The Sauce Fiend Chronicles: kinda classic Pesto

Basil, Parsley, & Arugula Pesto

Basil, Parsley, & Arugula Pesto

Pesto is one of those things I make when I’m feeling rather Bilbo Baggins-esque.  You know that scene, in the book and the movie, where Bilbo is running about trying to find snacks for Gandalf?  A zillion things on his mind, from birthday parties to food to, you know, Isildur’s Bane aka the One Ring?

 …I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean:
like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.

 Ok, ok, maybe not everyone has pretty much all of LOTR memorized but you get it, right?!  When you’re so busy that your brain is pretty much constantly out to lunch and your to-do list seems insurmountable?  It’s those days that I reach for the food processor and whip up a batch of pesto.

The wonderful thing about this sauce is that it takes about 5 minutes to throw together and every bite is as fresh as summer giving you an extra pep in your step that is so needed in those oh-so busy times.


Basil, Parsley & Arugula Pesto

Serves 4, with some leftover for lunch

2 cups loosely packed basil
1 cup loosely packed parsley
2 cups loosely packed arugula
½ cup grated pecorino cheese
3 tablespoons walnuts
1 - 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
500g dry pasta

Place all of the ingredients other than the dry pasta in the bowl of a food processor or in a blender and pulse until well combined.  Set this aside and cook the pasta in heavily salted boiling water until al dente.

When the pasta is cooked, scoop about a cup of the starchy water from the pot and drain the rest.  Transfer the pasta back into the pot and pour on the pesto.  Stir until everything is evenly coated, adding about ½ cup or more of the reserved cooking liquid to thin the pesto out as needed.

Serve topped with a few shavings of pecorino, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and a squidge of lemon juice to brighten everything up.