Happy New Year

2013 new yearThree months ago I started this blog and have had a wonderful time sharing recipes and ideas.  I would like to wish you all a wonderful New Year and thank all my followers and visitors for the support and feedback.  I am looking forward to 2013 and can’t wait to see what the year will bring.  Happy New Year! may it be filled with joy, love, good health and wonderful food (of course).

from my kitchen to yours,

CK, la fille du boucher

Lobster Ravioli with tarragon cream sauce

lobster ravioliEvery family has its holiday menu traditions.  Our family celebrates the Réveillon, the night before Christmas with its special menu of Coquilles Saint-Jacques and soupe à l’oignon.  Come Christmas day we have a second family meal with a different menu of beef tenderloin with mushroom sauce, Bûche de Noel, and my signature lobster raviolis.  They are delicious, easy to make and can be served as a first course or a light meal with a tossed salad.  The tarragon cream sauce gives the dish that bit of acidity that complements the rich creamy lobster filling.  We did have them on the menu yesterday but you don’t need to limit yourself to Christmas to make them as they are a great addition to any menu year round.lobster ravioli ingredients

LOBSTER RAVIOLI  (makes about 62 raviolis)

  • meat from 2 1.5 pound lobsters ( about 14 to 16 oz of meat) chopped
  • 1/4 cup scallions chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 6 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 62 wonton wrappers

In a large bowl mix the lobster meat, scallions, tarragon, lemon rind and juice.  With a fork, work the cream cheese into the lobster mixture making sure it is all incorporated and that there are no large lumps of cream cheese by using your hands to lightly mix.  Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Set aside.lobster ravioli stuffing

On a large clean working surface lay the wonton wrappers 10 to 12 at a time.  Put about 1/2 tablespoon in the middle of each wonton.  Fill a small bowl with warm water.  Dip your finger or a small pastry brush in the water and wet the edge of the wonton, fold into a triangle, and press the wet edges together sealing the filling inside.  Repeat until you have used all the filling. As you make the raviolis, put them on a baking sheet that has been dusted with a bit of cornstarch to avoid the raviolis sticking to each other or the surface. As you will have more then can fit the baking sheet, cover the first layer loosely with a piece of wax or parchment paper also dusted with cornstarch.  When done loosely cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge until ready to cook.lobster ravioli

When ready to cook, bring water to boil in a large pot.  Gently put the raviolis in the boiling water, 8 to 10 at a time ( do not crowd the pot)  for about 1 to 2 minutes.  The raviolis come to the surface when cooked.  Remove with a slotted spoon and serve in individual shallow bowls or plates with a couple of tablespoons of sauce.

TARRAGON CREAM SAUCE

  • 10 to 12 peppercorns
  • 2 branches fresh tarragon
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1.5 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 small shallot chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy creamcooking lobster ravioli

Put the peppercorn, tarragon, wine, broth and shallot in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and let reduce for about 20 minutes.  Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, discard the solids and save the liquid.  In another small saucepan melt the butter, add the flour, and cook for 1 minute letting the flour absorb the butter.  Whisk in the broth and cook for 5 minutes letting the mixture thicken slightly.  Reduce the heat to low and slowly whisk in the heavy cream.lobster ravioli

NOTE:  The raviolis and the sauce can be made 1 to 2 days ahead.  Make sure that you don’t bring the sauce to a boil when reheating it as the cream can separate. Otherwise you can make the sauce and add the cream when ready to serve. As a first course I serve 4 to 5 raviolis per person.

From my kitchen to yours,

CK, la fille du boucher

Panforte

panforteI never make fruitcake – I have never had to and why should I when my mother makes a great one and I am always sure to get a loaf to bring home come Christmas.  Panforte is another story, and it has become a tradition in my family.  I was introduced to it when I first moved to Boston in the early 80’s and worked at Rebecca’s on Charles Street.  I was familiar with nougat but this variation with its intense citrus chocolate flavor won me over.  Getting to be on the team for the Boston Globe Magazine food page on Sundays 8 years ago not only brought a new friend (Adam Ried) into my life, but also a ton of his fool-proof recipes – panforte being one of them.panforte

PANFORTE (makes an 8 or 9 inch panforte)

  • unsalted butter for the pan
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup all -purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped candied orange peel (8 onces)
  • 2.5 cups hazelnuts, lightly toasted, skinned (wrap toasted nuts in a kitchen towel and rub to remove skins), and roughly chopped (about 12 ounces )
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ounces bittersweet dark chocolate, melted
  • confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Set the rack in the middle position of the oven and heat to 300 degrees.  Generously butter an 8 or 9 inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the paper.  In a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons of the cocoa powder and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, dust the pan with the mixture and set pan aside.skinning hazelnutschocolate dusted pan

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining cocoa powder, remaining cinnamon, flour, ginger, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, cloves and nutmeg.  Add the orange peel and work it into a mixture with your fingers, separating and coating the pieces.  Add the hazelnuts and toss to combine.chocolate and orange peel

In a small saucepan, over medium heat and stirring occasionally, bring the honey and granulated sugar to a strong simmer; continue to simmer without stirring until the mixture registers 240 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 51/2 minutes.  Add the honey-sugar mixture and the melted chocolate to the orange-nut mixture and rapidly stir to combine well.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and with wet hands or the back of a large spoon, press the batter into an even layer.panforte mixpanforte

Bake until the panforte is firm and the surface is glossy, about 35 minutes.  Cool for 30 minutes, remove the sides of the pan and cool the panforte completely before removing the parchment paper.  Dust the top, bottom and sides of the panforte generously with confectioner’s sugar and rub it in with your fingers.  Serve cut in thin wedges.  Wrapped well and stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the panforte keeps for about one month.  You can dust it with more confectioner’s sugar before serving.panforte.2

ADAM’S NOTE:  work quickly once you add the honey syrup to the other ingredients, as the mixture will begin to stiffen almost immediatelypanforte

MY NOTE: I sometimes use orange infused chocolate for a deeper orange flavor.  Both Lindt and Taza make good flavored chocolate.

From my kitchen to yours,

CK, la fille du boucher.panforte with rum

Moules Marinieres

bowl of musselsDuring the holiday season things can get pretty hectic – but I refuse to compromise on eating a nice meal because we are all in a hurry.  Here is a recipe that is a total reward: quick, delicious and in-season ingredients.  You can use it as a first course or as a meal accompanied by a nice tossed salad.  This is a dish from my childhood, my parents would make it in the fall and winter.  As children we loved it!  We were allowed to eat with our hands and have as much bread as we wanted! You will need that bread to soak up all the delicious left over broth in your bowl.mussels

Mussels are pretty much available year-round now but they tend to be plumper in the winter.  I recommend buying them the same day you will cook them, store them in the fridge in a bowl uncovered with NO water so they can breathe.  The ones you buy at the store are farm-raised so you only need to give them a quick rinse before using them.washing mussels

MOULES MARINIÈRES

  • 4 to 5 pounds mussels
  • 2 to 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • one large or 2 small tomatoes, peeled, quartered, seeded, and chopped
  • one leek, cleaned, cut in half length wise and sliced thin (white and light green part) or one large onion chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine or white vermouth
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley

In a very large stockpot (large enough so you will be able to move the mussels around as you stir) melt the butter.  Add the garlic and leek or onion and sautée until it starts getting soft, about 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and stir until they are soft and release a bit of their juice, another 2 minutes.  Add the cleaned mussels and stir until they have all been covered by the vegetables.  Add the wine or vermouth and cover the pot allowing the mussels to steam.  After 10 minutes check the pot and give the mussels a stir checking at the same time to make sure they have opened. Put the lid back on, turn off the heat and let sit another 3 minutes.  Before serving toss with the parsley.mussels

Transfer the mussels in a large bowl or individual bowls, discarding any unopened mussels. Serve with chunks of crusty bread.bread basket

NOTE:  I am partial to the mussels from Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.  Should you decide to make the recipe you can also go to the following site and view my video tutorial on how to make the dish.

from my kitchen to yours,

CK, la fille du bouchermussel shells

Oysters!

oystersI will eat oysters over chocolate …and  I mean a good dark chocolate.  If I really want to “treat” myself, I’ll run to the store and buy a dozen oysters and we’ll have them as an appetizer with a nice glass of sparkling white wine.  It’s one of those foods that makes me happy – and fortunately my husband, Philippe, not only feels the same way, but is also the best at chucking! We are very partial to the oysters from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick:  Malpeque, Caraquet, Raspberry Point, Beausoleil, French Kiss…  So when we visit my family in Montreal we make a stop at our favorite poissonnerie, Odessa, fill up the cart with oysters, and off we go to my parents.oysters at the market

All you need to enjoy your oysters is a proper knife and your favorite sauce. When it comes to the knife you need one with a sturdy blade – a nice point to open the oyster but also flat to get around the shell to open it.  As for the sauce, some use tabasco, lemon, or cocktail sauce.  I am partial to Mignonette Sauce.oyster and sauce

MIGNONETTE SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
  • cracked pepper

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and serve with the oysters.

NOTE: only eat oysters in a month with “r” ! Where does that come from? Oysters spawn from May to August and tend not to be as plump and flavorful.  Plus there is the added factor of eating raw seafood in the heat of summer and the fear of getting food born illnesses.chucking oysters

From my kitchen to yours,

CK, la fille du boucher

Peppermint Bark

crushed candy caneCome December I go in full kitchen-gift-giving mode.  Along with bottling the limecello and limoncello that have been macerating for the last five weeks, I start making peppermint bark.  It has been a 15 year tradition and everyone looks forward to getting  their peppermint bark for the holidays: friends, family, co-workers and neighbors.  I must admit I look forward to making it, and finding the right container to package it in is a big part of the fun .  Unwrapping the candy canes can however be a sticky mess:  tacky fingers and the static from the cellophane wrapper transforms the kitchen into a battle field. On the other hand, watching the white chocolate melt into a glossy, creamy sauce and the smell of peppermint permeating the kitchen makes the battle worth while.  Truth be told – my peppermint bark is not mine but Martha’s . I found the recipe years ago in a December issue in the “good thing” section of MS Living Magazine. I make a few batches, break the bark into chunks, pack them in pretty containers and give them away!  It is indeed a good thing.candy cane with white chocolate

PEPPERMINT BARK

  • 12 peppermint candy canes (6oz)
  • 2 lbs white chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon peppermint extract

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper.stirring peppermint bark

In a food processor coarsely chop (by pulsing) the candy canes.  In the meantime, in a double boiler melt the chocolate until smooth and glossy.  Off heat mix the chopped candy canes and the peppermint extract.spreading peppermint bakr

Quickly pour the mixture on the cookie sheet spreading the chocolate to cover the paper.broken bark

Let sit in the refrigerator or in a very cold room for 30 minutes or until set.

When ready…cut, break, share, give, eat.

NOTE: to all my peppermint bark recipients: don’t worry ! Posting the recipe does not mean I will stop making and giving the bark during the holiday season.bark gifts

From my kitchen to yours

CK, la fille du boucher

Mousse au Chocolat

taza chocolateI grew up in a home where my father was the cook and my mother the resident baker/dessert maker. She is always baking batches upon batches of cookies to replenish the ever-diminishing cookie jars, and is known to “whip up ” a chocolate mousse at a moment’s notice.  The latter is a necessity considering she lives with a chocoholic!  You know the type – an individual who has little “stashes” of chocolate in hidden places and when coming back from visiting said secret hiding spots can be seen to have a big fat smile on his/her face and sometimes even a bit of the evidence at the corner of his/her mouth.  The story goes that when my parents were first married my mother made her signature chocolate mousse, only to have my father consume the entire batch in one sitting.  Well, that is what we were told each time Mousse au Chocolat was on the menu at our house, along with the fact that my mother heaved a big sigh when my father was all done… ouf!chocolate mousse ingredients

Should you decide to make it, here is my mantra again: use the BEST ingredients! Best quality chocolate and fresh eggs from a farm, it will make it worth your time and effort!

MOUSSE AU CHOCOLAT

(makes 4 to 6 servings )

  • 4oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 fresh eggs room temperature, separate

In a double boiler, melt chocolat and butter until smooth.  Off heat, mix egg yolk one at a time and transfer to a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg white until stiff.  Slowly fold the egg white into the chocolate mixture until all incorporated and uniform in color. Pour into a large bowl or into individual ramequins.chocolate messmelting chocolate

Refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.  Serve with whipped cream if desired.

NOTE:  Over the years I have used the following chocolate brands: Callebaut, Lindt, Valrhona.  Now I am using Taza Chocolate (a local brand for me) and experiment with their different flavors: ginger, chili, salt&pepper, vanilla or just plain bittersweet.chocolate mousse

From my kitchen to yours,

CK, la fille du boucherempty chocolate mousse