Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A "Congrats" Dinner: Fresh Lemon Mousse, Parmesan Popovers, Arugula Salad with Fried Gorgonzola and Spicy Baked Macaroni and Cheese

As I've said before I had a "bad girlfriend slip" and tried to make up for it by making Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies. Well I have more of a sweet tooth than my boyfriend. Shawn is more of a steak and potatoes kinda guy. He's also a fan of Giada De Laurentiis (hmm I wonder why) as am I so I decided in order to Congratulate him on his promotion I would pick out a few things from her cookbook "Everyday Pasta" that my dad sent me. I made 4 courses, all but one were from the cookbook. For dessert I made this amazing fresh lemon mousse that was to die for! Its an Ina Garten recipe I found on the foodnetwork.com and I could eat the WHOLE thing! I literally melt with every bite I took.

Fresh Lemon Mousse


I had never made mousse before this. For some reason I was intimidated, but it's easy and fun! I have always loved lemon anything. I love lemon yogurt in the morning with my peanut butter toast and peaches and cream oatmeal. My mom always told me when she was pregnant with me she always craved sour stuff and that when I was younger I would just suck on lemons. I guess it should come as no surprise that I am head over heels in love with this dessert.

Ingredients:

3 extra-large whole eggs
3 extra-large eggs, separated
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
Kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup good bottled lemon curd, at room temperature
Sweetened Whipped Cream, recipe follows
Sliced lemon, for garnish

Directions:

In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the 3 whole eggs, 3 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, the lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 10 to 12 minutes until the mixture is thick like pudding. (I change to a whisk when the mixture starts to get thick.) Take off the heat and set aside for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until completely chilled.

Place half the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat until the whites are stiff and shiny. Carefully fold the beaten whites into the cold lemon mixture with a rubber spatula. Place the cream in the same bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (no need to clean the bowl) and beat on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the lemon mixture. Fold in the lemon curd, and pour into a 7-inch-diameter, 3-inch-deep souffle dish. Decorate with sweetened whipped cream and lemon slices that have been cut into quarters. Chill and serve cold.

Sweetened Whipped Cream:

1 cup cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium and then high speed until the cream just forms still peaks. Spoon the whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.

Parmesan Popovers



Okay I had problems with these but I am posting the recipe because it had great flavor and I realize that I caused the problems after looking over the reviews on foodnetwork.com. Mine turned out eggy, kind of like quiche and they did not pop up like popvers are supposed to. As it turns out, you should know what you're doing before making these and be really careful with popovers. I think I messed up on a few things...1.) I didn't use whole milk like the recipe called for. 2.) I peaked...yep I'm a guilty peaker. Apparently with popovers you DO NOT open the oven until they are done because they will deflate. And finally 3.) I read that the oven should be VERY hot, completely pre-heated. It is recommended to use a thermometer (of which I need) to make sure it is the proper temperature. I was also intrigued by something else I read, it is recommended that you preheat the muffin pan for a couple minutes before pouring in the batter. Hopefully when I try this recipe again (which I will) these adjustments will give me light, fluffy and delicious popovers!

Ingredients:

3 eggs
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon herbs de Provence
4 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
1 cups whole milk
3/4 cup grated Parmesan (about 5 ounces)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a blender, combine eggs, flour, salt, pepper, and herbs, milk, and cheese. Blend on medium speed.

Spray a mini-muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the batter into the muffin cups, filling each cup 3/4 full. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove popovers from muffin tin and cool on a wire rack. Save in a storage container to take to the picnic.

Arugula Salad with Fried Gorgonzola



I really like the peppery flavor of arugula and had never worked with gorgonzola before. It tastes very similar to blue cheese and I LOVE blue cheese. I mean how bad can fried cheese in a salad be? I did make a couple minor changes. Since gorgonzola is such a strong cheese I reduced the size of the balls. I also tossed in a couple crumbles of fresh gorgonzola for more color.

Ingredients:

7 ounces Gorgonzola
1 large egg, beaten to blend
3/4 cup dried Italian bread crumbs
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for deep-frying
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 cups coarsely torn arugula (about 10 ounces)

Directions:

Blend the Gorgonzola in a food processor until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the work bowl occasionally. Using 1 rounded teaspoon of cheese for each, form the cheese into 18 (1-inch) balls. Working in batches, coat the balls with the egg then with the bread crumbs. Repeat coating the balls in the egg and bread crumbs. Arrange the balls on a small baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Whisk the lemon juice, garlic, and lemon peel in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in 1/3 cup oil. Season the dressing, to taste, with salt and pepper. Set the dressing aside.

Add enough oil to a heavy small saucepan to come 2 inches up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil over medium heat. At this point, remove the refrigerated Gorgonzola balls from the refrigerator. Working in batches, add the cold balls to the hot oil and fry just until golden brown, about 20 seconds. (It is essential that the Gorgonzola balls be cold when they go into the oil, otherwise they will fall apart in the oil. If they start to warm up at any point, return them to the refrigerator to firm back up.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried balls to paper towels to drain.

Toss the arugula in a large bowl with enough dressing to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the salad on plates. Top the salads with the hot fried Gorgonzola balls and serve immediately.

Spicy Baked Macaroni and Cheese



The name of this dish immediately caught my eye. I love spicy anything and macaroni and cheese is such a heart-warming comfort food. And nothing says "congrats" better than something made from the heart. The only thing is that this is a vegetarian dish and my man loves meat...as do I. So I tossed in some italian sausage that I browned before mixing it in the pasta. I also love red onions, especially when there's spiciness involved so I used that. Also, the more cheese the better if you ask me, I practically doubled the cheese :) Turned out wonderful!

Ingredients:

Salt
1 pound elbow macaroni pasta
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound assorted mushrooms, quartered
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained of excess liquid
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/3 cup
1/4 cup Romano, plus 1/3 cup
2 tablespoons butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons
12 ounces mozzarella cubed (about 2 cups)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and the onion is golden, about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, spinach, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1/4 cup Romano. Spread the softened butter in a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish and sprinkle half of the bread crumb mixture inside the dish to coat.

In a large bowl combine the vegetable mixture with the cooked macaroni, cubed mozzarella, the remaining Parmesan and Romano cheeses, and the nutmeg. Spoon into the prepared baking dish, top with the remaining bread crumb mixture, and dot the top with the remaining butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.

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3 comments:

Taylor said...

I want to eat this whole meal! You have one lucky boyfriend!

Miss. Tarrah Dame said...

aw thanks! he better think so!! im telling you though...that lemon mousse is where its at!

Martha Stodolny said...

I hate this blog. I hate you. Why would you post so many DELICIOUS recipes? I don't know which one to choose.

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