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Monday, January 27, 2014

Three Courses: Pear and Arugula Salad, Mushroom Pasta and Lemon Tart

Twas a special evening, time to plan, time to cook, time to eat and savor.

The first course: Pear and Arugula Salad.

The pear was sliced and cored before poaching it in about an inch of water and 1/4 cup of marsala. When it cooled, it was sliced. Fresh arugula was topped with pecans and blue cheese. A mix of balsamic vinegar, evoo and fresh ground pepper was drizzled over the greens and the pear.

Second Course: Mushroom Sauce on Angel Hair Pasta>

This was a shortcut sauce, I must admit. I had frozen the left over mushroom soup from the holidays. I thawed, added chicken broth, sherry and reduced at a simmer, for at least 45 minutes. In the meantime, I was prepared the salad, and the shredded zucchini topping. I also prepared thin parmesan crisps that I use quite often on pasta. But in my hurry to do so, I shredded the cheese mounds on wax paper instead of parchment. Needless to say I discarded the waxed cardboard mess.

I topped the angel hair pasta with the sauce, crisp zucchini shreds and fresh ground parmesan. Although the sauce was tasty, it seemed more like an overcooked ragu. This entree was definently saved by the first course, the wine and the dessert!

Third Course: Dessert. The lemon tart is just too good, too rich and too satisfying to call dessert. This is the Lemon Tart from the Bouchon Cookbook. This time I cut corners and used a frozen pie crust and pressed in a layer of ground pine nuts in the bottom crust. The recipe calls for a pine nut crust.

The Wine: Silver Oak. A fine bottle...indeed.

The wine and the tart - must have been someone's birthday!


Monday, January 20, 2014

Lemon Sole in Parchment

When you are rushed for time to cook, it seems like giving an old friend the "brush off." I hate to admit we have been eating out a lot lately. It avoids feeling guilty that I have not had time to plan or be creative. And worse, no time to record and blog. Eating out and cooking what is easy/quick does not allow for much intimacy - it is eating not dining. Now that I have self-lectured myself, I will continue.

In the last two weeks I have made an effort to stock the shelves. So I have about five meals to share and will start with LEMON SOLE IN PARCHMENT

I placed two small pieces of lemon sole on the parchment and topped with sliced lemon, a greek olive mixture, cherry tomatoes, basil, fresh ground pepper and olive oil. I rolled the parchment twice over the lemon sole mixture and tied the ends with string - similar to a BobBon wrapper. I baked in the oven, on a cookie sheet, for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

SIDE DISH: Brown Basmati Rice.
I browned pine nuts, and sauteed red bell pepper pieces and diced onion. I added this to "Uncle Ben's Ready Rice." I think these 90 second in the package rices are great and have used a variety of them.

I served a few slices of crunchy sweet flatbread, purchased in the store.

THE WINE: ah the wine. The Cutrer. I have talked about it before - it is one of our special favorites. A tad more pricey that its sister, Sonoma Cutrer, which is my favorite go to chardonnay.