that vanilla beurre blanc we had

I'm going to try to piece together the recipe I used for the lovely vanilla beurre blanc we had the other night. The basic structure of a beurre blanc (the first time I learned of this buttery delight was at the Viking Cooking School classes given to me by a very dear man) is this: Reduce vinegar and wine with ingredients such as shallots, peppercorns, thyme; add cream and reduce some more; remove from heat and add an ungodly amount of butter; add more butter; a few more pats of butter; strain.

So we decided to have a 'clean out the freezer' night and found a package of lobster and gruyere purchased from Costco a few months ago. Incidentally, it was a 2-pack, and the first was served with this tearfully delicious crab tomato sauce that completely drowned out the lobster and gruyere but was amazing with hunks of toasted bread. We'll have to post that recipe soon, won't we??

But I wanted something that really made the ravioli 'pop'. A quick Google search led me to the notion of vanilla champagne beurre blanc. Which is great, except that we didn't have any champagne, then we figured out we were running our of citrus and gin and etc etc so we added a run to Kroger and Specs to our easy night at home, and at long last we had some dinner at, like, midnight. And, oh dear, this is the most boring story ever. To the food.

Lobster & Gruyere Ravioli with Vanilla Beurre Blanc
Adapted from Viking Cooking School recipe, plus Bon Appetit December 2003

1/4 cup Champagne or other dry sparkling wine
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar or other white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots (about 1 large shallot)
6 whole black peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 vanilla bean
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (12 tablespoons), cut into pieces and chilled
1 pkg lobster and gruyere ravioli from Costco (next on my list of to-do's is homemade ravioli. I have a butternut squash on my counter, waiting to be pureed...)

Cook the ravioli per package instructions.

Combine the shallots, peppercorns, thyme, sparkling wine, and vinegar in a small saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the saucepan, then drop in the vanilla bean pod. Place over medium-high heat and cook until the sauce has reduced and the pan is nearly dry. Add the heavy cream; continue cooking (reduce) until the cream has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Remove the pan from the heat; whisk in the cold butter, one piece at a time, until all is incorporated. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer; season to taste with salt. (Note: Properly seasoning this sauce is crucial, as the salt brings out the layers of flavor.) Hold in a warm water bath (or thermos) until needed.

Pour the sauce over the ravioli. Enjoy. Maybe with roasted garlic bread - hey! let's make that too!

Roasted garlic bread
Also from Viking Cooking School

1 bulb (a whole bulb, not just a clove) garlic
Olive oil
Shredded parmesan cheese
Butter, softened
Loaf of Italian bread, sliced but not all the way through so it holds together - we used French and that worked just fine

Preheat the oven to 400F.
Peel the extra skin off a head/bulb of garlic. Cut off the top, so that the individual cloves are exposed. Stick the garlic bulb in a piece of aluminum foil, wrap the foil around the garlic. Drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for around 30 minutes at 400F.
Take out the garlic, let cool for a few minutes.
Set your oven to broil.
Squeeze the roasted cloves into a bowl, add some parmesan (no more than 1/4 cup), add ~3 Tbsp of butter, mix it all up. It's good if there are still chunks of garlic - oh so yummy on the bread!
Spread the butter mixture on the slices of bread. Then spread a bit more over the top of the loaf.
Broil for 5 minutes, or until the top of the loaf is dark brown.


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