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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Happy Birthday Sweet 16

Thursday is a big day in our house.  Kate is turning 16 and that means just one thing.  She can get her learner's permit and we better all get off the road.

Kate has already announced that she wants Ted to be her primary driving instructor, not me.  I guess that's because when Charlie was learning to drive, on more than one occasion I screamed out in terror "slow down... you're going to kill us".  Charlie was also troubled by the fact that I spent most of our time together in the car slamming my foot on the imaginary brake peddle on the passenger's side.  Imagine that.

Ted is a very calm driving instructor.  It is beyond me how he can avoid abject panic as our teen driver runs a red light or turns right from the left lane.  He is a better person than I am, or at least a better driving instructor.

So, if I'm not going to be in charge of driving instruction, at least I can be in charge of the birthday dinner.  I asked Kate what she wanted for dinner for her birthday and, Kate being Kate, she replied that she wanted something with lobster.  Lobster?  Yes, lobster.

Kate has spent every summer since she was 7 years old at camp in Maine.   This is the first summer she will not be at camp because last summer was her final year.  But she still sees herself as a "Mainer" and I guess they eat a lot of lobster up there.  Let me tell you, we Pittsburghers don't eat much lobster  but it's her birthday so I think I can make it happen.

I first thought of making lobster pot pie.  I've made it before and it was decadently delicious.  But there's a new lobster in town and that's lobster mac and cheese.  I've never made it but how hard could it be.  Not very, it turns out.

So, while I may have been exiled from the front seat of the car while Kate is learning to drive, I can make a celebration that might be just as nice as getting her learner's permit.

Recipe:  Lobster Mac & Cheese
Ina Garten


1 pound cavatappi pasta
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 quart milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds lobster meat, cooked
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Kosher salt
vegetable oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups fresh white breadcrumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Preheat the oven to 375.

Drizzle the oil into a large pot of boiling water.  Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions, 6 to 8 minutes.  Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it.  In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour.  Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk.  Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth.  Off the heat, add the Gruyere, cheddar, 1 tablespoon of salt, the pepper, and the nutmeg.  Add the cooked pasta and the lobster and stir well.  Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine with the fresh breadcrumbs, and sprinkle on the top.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on top.


  1. Happy Birthday "Sweet" Sixteen:) Oh to be 16 again...

    Looking back, I always preferred it when my father offered to give driving instructions. My mother spent way too much time grappling for the invisible brake too.

    Lobster! Nothing beats Maine lobster and that's a fact!!! Kate sure has good taste...The first thing I'm going to do when I go back to New York this spring is have lobster for breakfast lunch and dinner. Central PA is lacking fresh lobster also...

    I must say, your Lobster Mac & Cheese sounds mighty enticing...

    Thank you so much for sharing...

    P.S. Nadine, if you get a chance, drop by my blog. There's a little something there for you AND, I'm having a give-away...

  2. What a wonderful post! LOVE that she chose lobster - a girl after my own heart! What a great idea for the mac & cheese--I bet it was nothing short of spectacular. I will definitely be making that. Hope it's a wonderful birthday tomorrow! Cheers, Nina