Friday, September 11, 2009

First Roommate Dinner

I moved into my new home last Monday. I absolutely love my apartment. My parents and Alyssa came to help me move in and I couldn’t have done it without them. I am definitely surrounded by a lot of people that I love and care about. I am living with three girls that I lived with last year. We get along really well and living together again only seemed natural. It was so nice unpacking all of the kitchen supplies and organizing the kitchen so that it would flow nicely and knowing that this would be my kitchen.

Tuesday, I went shopping with my roommates to get the staples—flour, rice, spices, honey, sugar, vinegar, etc. It felt so good to have a well stocked cupboard with all of the supplies to make delicious food. Tuesday night we had our first roommate dinner something that we want to make a monthly event. Our menu: Lemon Crème Fraiche Gratin, Autumn Apple Pear and Goat Cheese salad with Pecans, and Chocolate Covered Strawberries. It was so much fun using our new kitchen. It’s small and definitely meant for one person to function normally in it but we’re all comfortable with each other so it was fine maneuvering around each other. Melissa started making her salad while I did dishes and watched. Hillary and Caitlin stepped in once Melissa was done and made their incredible dessert. Once people were out of the kitchen, I took over. The pasta I made is one of my new favorites. Over the summer, Alyssa and I got together to make pasta and I was in the mood for something with Crème Fraiche and Lemon so we adjusted a Capellini Gratin recipe that simply used parmesan and cream and we made it our own.

Lemon Crème Fraiche Individual Gratins

1 Pound angel hair
1 Container crème fraiche
1 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
Zest of 2 lemons (meyer lemons are especially good)
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
Sea salt
Black pepper
2 Pinches of nutmeg
3 Tablespoons butter
Reserved pasta water
2 Large leaves of basil
1/2 Cup bread crumbs

I start by bringing a large pot of water to boil. Add a little bit of olive oil and salt to the water. Set the oven to 435
While it is coming to a boil, butter two muffin tins.
Cook the pasta al dente.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the crème fraiche, ¾ of the the grated cheese, 3/4 of the zest of the lemon, the lemon juice and the seasonings.
Using a pasta serving spoon, spoon the pasta out of the water and into the cream mixture. Next add the reserved pasta water. I have never paid attention to how much water I add, but I can tell you it’s a good amount. A lot of the water you add will become absorbed into the pasta and you will want extra sauce left at the end to fill up the muffin tins so you’ll want a lot of liquid. I know I use at least 4 cups of reserved water. If you realize when you’re nearing the end that you’re going to need more sauce than you anticipated, just add more at that point. This is why I love cooking—it’s an art to me, not a science.
Take a fork and swirl some pasta onto it. Transfer the swirled pasta into the muffin tins. This takes a couple tries to get it right and it’s a bit messy but the end result is worth it.
Melt the butter and mix it with the bread crumbs. Top each individual gratin with bread crumbs, a little bit of the zest, basil and parmesan. Not add some liquid into each muffin tin till you can see it showing through the pasta.
Put in the oven and bake until the top is golden and bubbly. Let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
Of course, if you don’t have the time to construct the individual servings, you can skip the muffin tin part and simply put it in a large pan and bake it that way.
*The store by my house did not have crème fraiche so instead, I used mascarpone and added a little bit of milk and more reserved water than I normally would. It worked out just fine.

I love the way that these look at the end. It really doesn't take too much work either. The sauce is so easy so it's really just the construction that takes some effort. Usually Alyssa and I tag-team the construction but since she wasn't here this time, Caitlin stepped in and helped me with the toppings.

Melissa's salad was delicious.

What's better than chocolate covered strawberries for dessert?

All of the food was delicious. It was a perfect first meal in my new apartment.


  1. Oh my!!! I love that pasta dish and the salad and dessert look fabulous! Love your place and happy you will all be sharing such wonderful memories together!!! Love ya Sissy!!!

  2. OMG....CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRIES!!!! lasdfjlasdjflskdfj
    you make me wana cry cause I want some so badly.

    I LOVE your room, Britt!

  3. I love the photos! Melissa's salad looks amazing, the strawberries look nice and ripe, and the gratin looks perfect. All that practice paid off! :)
    And I'm glad the mascarpone served as a good substitute for the creme fraiche.

  4. I'm inspired! Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos too!

  5. Lemon Lover that I know you are, I would expect nothing less than fabulous with this recipe (even if I use regular lemons).
    Trouble is - we won't be having any Meyer lemons here for awhile. Cub Foods actually does have a teeny weeny time when they make them available but lots of folks 'out here' have no idea what heaven they are...
    I actually brought a Meyer Lemon tree back from CA when I was visiting my sister several years ago...needless to say it was a sad sight when I recovered it in baggage! And no, it never did like it here - dead as a doornail.

  6. Your apartment looks so cozy and home-y! I love that you and your roomies seem so suited for each other: )