Angel Hair Pasta With Caviar and Lemon
Domestic caviar is something that can be had for a good price, and only a small amount is needed to make a statement. Whenever I do buy it (which is admittedly rare), I find myself almost at a loss for how to honor it with an unusual preparation. Let’s face it: Straight out of the little glass jar on toast with a schmear of crème fraîche is a great way to go. I also love it with smoked salmon. But it is such an unusual food that I searched high and low for a recipe that could do it justice. This is a dish that came to me by way of exploration. I was cooking for a colleague and wanted to serve caviar—but I wanted the caviar to be a surprise. I twirled a forkful of this pasta, dripping with cream, over a little mound of caviar in a bowl. It looked so plain and simple—until he dug in and found the caviar lurking beneath! This dish is also nice made with trout or salmon roe.
A word on taste: I feel like a recipe that charts unfamiliar ground (in this case caviar) often doesn’t instruct on the simplest thing: How is this dish supposed to taste? I wish you could provide aroma and taste on a page. The caviar is always salty but the pasta needs to be seasoned in its own right. The pepper illuminates the salt of the caviar. The lemon zest is floral and adds lightness to the flavor; the lemon juice adds some needed acidity along with sour cream. The cream comes in to temper everything and make sure the dish rides the line between acidic and rich.
4 as an appetizer
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup sour cream
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- A few grates of zest and juice of ½–1 lemon
- 4 ounces dried angel hair pasta
- 1 ½–2 ounces American caviar or trout roe
- 1 small bunch chives, minced
Make the sauce: In a large skillet, whisk together the heavy cream and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer the cream mixture over medium heat to reduce it, whisking until it thickens and all of the sour cream melts, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and some lemon juice. Taste for seasoning. At this point, the sauce should be thick enough to coat the pasta.
Cook the pasta: In a large pot, bring 6 quarts water to a rolling boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and bring the water back up to a boil. Add the pasta to the pot and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t clump or stick to the bottom as it cooks, for about 2 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to coat with the cream. Shut the heat off and allow the pasta to rest in the sauce for 2 minutes, tossing to coat from time to time. If the sauce is too thin, simmer over low heat for 2 additional minutes. If it is too thick, simply thin it out with some of the reserved pasta water. Taste for seasoning. Add more salt or lemon if needed.
Serve the pasta: Spoon a small amount of caviar in the center of 4 serving bowls. Use a fork to twirl the pasta and make a large forkful. Use your index finger to gently coax the pasta off the fork and on top of the caviar on the plate. Ideally, the pasta should hide the caviar. Spoon any leftover sauce over the pasta. Repeat with the remaining plates.
Note: The sauce thickens quickly so keep it loose with a little pasta water, if needed, as you plate. Sprinkle with the chives, a touch more grated lemon zest, and serve immediately.
My Mother’s Cheese Soufflé
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus additional (softened) butter for brushing the ramekin(s)
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 of a teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 a teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 cup freshly grated Gruyère cheese
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 3 tablespoons dry sherry
- 4 large egg yolks
- 8 ounces coarsely shredded Gruyère cheese (2 packed cups)
- 7 egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Heat the oven to 375 F. Brush six 1-cup ramekins (or, as my mother did, one 1 1/2 quart ramekin) with butter. Lightly coat the ramekins with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano Reggiano and set them (it) on a sturdy baking sheet.
In a medium saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Whisk in the cream and cook over moderately low heat until smooth and very thick, about 2 minutes. Stir in the salt and cayenne. Stir in the Dijon mustard, dry mustard, Gruyère, sour cream, sherry, and the remaining Parmesan cheese. Stir to blend. Stir in the egg yolks. Let cool slightly.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar at medium-high speed until frothy. Increase the speed to high and beat until firm peaks form. With a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the soufflé base until no streaks of white remain.
Spoon the soufflé mixture into the ramekins (or ramekin), filling them to 1/2 inch below the rim. Run your thumb inside the rim of each ramekin to help the soufflés rise evenly. Place a shallow pan with 1 inch of water on the floor of the oven to create steam. For individual soufflés, bake in the bottom third of the oven until the soufflés are puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. For a large one, bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Serve immediately.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. The soufflés can be assembled up to 1 hour ahead. The cooked soufflés can be reheated in the oven.
(Recipes by Alex Guarnaschelli)