Monday, April 12, 2010

Gourmet again tonight

Oh boy! It's gourmet night. I've been feeling a little off all day, but tonight's menu is still enticing me. I don't know a lot about it, save for our hostess claiming that it will be "lighter food." That sounds perfect today.

My course is one of the sides. I've done dessert, I've done the main and I did the side the last time (we have two sides). Some may remember that last time I made zucchini boats. Guess what I'm making tonight? Yep, zucchini boats. LOL But the last time they were Lebanese and filled with meat, and this time they will be filled with an herbed ricotta "mousse." Here is the recipe...

6 small zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Cooking spray
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 cup (8 ounces) Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Parsley sprigs (optional)

Preheat oven to 450°.

Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Reserve pulp for another use. Arrange zucchini shells in a single layer in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine basil and next 7 ingredients (through pepper), stirring well with a whisk. Divide mixture evenly among shells, pressing gently. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Looking at it, I think it needs garlic, or at least chives. But the rules of the evening are that we each make the recipe exactly as it is given to us. So that is what I shall do. It still sounds like a wonderfully light side dish for a Spring evening.

Next day edit/addition - It was quite a nice evening. The appetizer was a carrot and ginger puree with curry on a base of what I called chickpea polenta. I guess chickpea flour was boiled with a little salt for 20 minutes and then spread in a pan and cut into squares when firm. It had the texture of tofu, so I found that off putting. But the flavour was nice. There was a very nice salad with crisp greens, mandarin oranges and bacon. The soup was a creamy cauliflower with Stilton. I'm not a fan of blue cheese at all, but the small bit of soup that I did have was okay. Very flavourful. The focaccia stuffed with roasted garlic and peppers would make a nice picnic sandwich.

We moved on to the main course. Along with my dish, which I have to say I wasn't much of a fan of (I think it was the texture) we had herb roasted chicken, which was really nice. There were mushrooms in truffle oil (which I passed on - not a mushroom fan) and polenta with Asiago, which was kind of gummy and funky tasting. Oh, and herb roasted red skinned potatoes. Dessert was a low fat chocolate cheesecake that was interesting. Tasty, but with the texture of firm pudding rather than cheesecake.

I would make the salad again. I'll add the recipe. If anyone wants any of the others, I'll gladly share them.

Mandarn Almond Salad with Bacon

1/2 pound bacon
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon dry hot mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
1/4 cup olive oil (not necessarily extra virgin)
1 head red leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
1 (15 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
1 bunch green onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup slivered almonds

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon until evenly brown. Drain, cool, and crumble.

To make the dressing, thoroughly blend the vinegar, honey, dry mustard, celery salt, paprika, and olive oil.

Place lettuce, oranges, green onion, bacon, and almonds in a serving bowl. Toss with dressing and serve.

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