I make a lobster ravioli filling, which is quite delicious. When I cook the ravioli, the filling becomes very watery and the lobster pieces, which were plump, become small and rubbery. Could you please change the recipe so the filling retains its soft, moist texture?
The problem is this: You cook the lobster meat twice -- once to extract it from its shell and a second time when it's in the dough. Cooking denatures -- chemically alters -- the lobster's proteins. They can no longer bind water as efficiently.
In the following revision of your recipe, while retaining the lobster, I have based the filling on raw monkfish, egg white and cream. The raw monkfish, which is about 75 percent water, forms an emulsion with whipped cream. The result is a protein and fat mixture similar in composition and structure to that of any emulsified sausage (hot dogs, for example). Such an emulsion retains its moisture when cooked and the filling of your raviolis will still have a lobster flavor while retaining its moist texture. LOBSTER FILLING FOR RAVIOLI (6 servings)
1 1/2 pound lobster
2 quarts boiling water mixed with 1 tablespoon salt
1 pound monkfish
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
3/4 cup whipping cream
Plunge lobster into boiling, salted water. Cook for 8 minutes. Remove lobster and let cool. With a sharp sturdy knife, cut claws from carapace. Pull off tail, turn over and cut down middle. Crack open tail and pull out meat. Crack claws with back of knife and break open. Extract meat.
Cut monkfish into pieces. Pure'e in food processor until smooth. Add egg whites, salt and pepper. Continue to pure'e, gradually adding whipping cream. Filling should have the texture of a thick mayonnaise.
Dice lobster meat. Stir into monkfish pure'e. Drop spoonfuls of filling on ravioli dough and enclose as for any other ravioli.
I pick horseradish from my garden and grind it in a food processor. I usually add some lemon juice to keep the horseradish from turning gray. It is very strong when first ground, but after an hour, its bite weakens. What can I do to keep ground horseradish potent for a longer period of time?
Horseradish is in the mustard family -- Cruciferae. The plants in this family typically contain sinigrin, a compound that, when decomposed by enzymes in the plant tissues, produces acrid, volatile oils. The reaction is promoted by warm temperatures and an almost neutral pH (that is neither acidic nor basic.) As the reaction occurs the volatile oils evaporate and the ground horseradish loses pungency.
There are two ways to keep horseradish hot. First, you should prevent the reaction from occurring in the first place. Second, you should prevent evaporation of any volatile oils that are produced. Mix grated horseradish immediately with lemon juice or vinegar (1 tablespoon per cup) and season well with salt (1 teaspoon per cup). Both salt and acid slow enzyme activity and prevent the total degradation of sinigrin. Cover the container and keep it refrigerated.
Despite such measures, prepared horseradish is always a little milder than the freshly grated root. However, it should still be hot enough to bring tears to your eyes.
Cooking horseradish destroys the enzymes that degrade sinigrin. When you add horseradish to a sauce or stew, stir it in immediately before serving. I had a delicious chardonnay-dill butter with swordfish in a local restaurant. How might I make such a sauce at home?
A chardonnay-dill butter belongs to a class of sauces known as compound butters. These are actually quite simple to make, requiring no cooking and only a mixer, its bowl and implements.
This sauce is very delicate in flavor and should be reserved for foods of similar character. Compound butters are most often served on grilled fish or meat.
The quality of wine is of special importance in this sauce. You should choose a chardonnay that is quite spicy and tart. Here is a recipe:
CHARDONNAY DILL BUTTER (Makes about 1/2 cup)
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
3 drops hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup chardonnay wine
Cream butter until fluffy and white. Add dill and hot pepper sauce, and then slowly add wine. If the sauce curdles, it's because the butter was too cold, you added the wine too quickly, or you added too much wine. To make the sauce smooth again, dip the mixing bowl in a little hot water and then whisk. If that doesn't work, mix in an egg yolk.
Transfer chardonnay dill butter to a piece of aluminum foil. Roll into tube and twist both ends to form a cylinder. Refrigerate until butter is firm. Slice butter as needed and place 1 slice on each portion of grilled fish or meat.