Cooking dinner with friends (an Italian, a French and a Spanish)
|December 9, 2009||Posted by ameliaps under appetizers, apples, dessert, fish, French, gougeres, Italian, menus, mushrooms, panna cotta, pasta and grains, risotto, salmon, Spanish|
Recently our Spanish (from Madrid) friends, Carlos y Cristina, invited us over for a fun evening cooking together.Together with us there also was also an awesome couple from Southern France.
I learned so much from seeing what my friends were cooking and tasting along the way.
Each one of us made something from “home”.
Two types of crostini: fig-prosciutto and cannelini-balsamic-rosemary (me, the Italian)
Gougères – French cheese puffs (Adele, the French)
Mushroom risotto (me, the Italian)
Marinated salmon with caramelized pears (Adele, the French)
Panna cotta with raspberries (Adele, the French)
Tarta de manzana y almendras – apple-almond pie (Cristina, the Spanish)
I love making crostini for a quick last-minute appetizer.
These two kinds can be made anytime of the year. If it is winter use dried figs (soaked in hot water for a few minutes, then sliced): they are actually very tasty and add sweetness.
As far as the balsamic vinegar reduction, if you can’t find a good one at the store, you can easily make it at home, by reducing balsamic vinegar (plus a tablespoon or so of sugar) to half its size.
1 loaf long bread (baguette or ciabatta), cut into thin slices
Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
1 clove of garlic, peeled and cut in half
Spray or brush the slices of bread then toast or broil until golden.
Rub the hot slices of bread with the garlic.
Add the toppings.
- 1st: cannellini beans (in a blender combine and pulse gently 1 can cannellini beans, drained, chopped rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper. It should still have bits but be smooth enough to spread) – top with reduced balsamic vinegar and fresh rosemary
- 2nd: sliced figs and prosciutto, drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
Feel free to experiement with other toppings (such as garlic sauteed greens, fresh mozzarella and chili oil, mushrooms ragout, roasted peppers and parsley, pancetta and capers, caponata, blue cheese and caramelized onions, pesto and mascarpone, dried tomatoes and black olives, you name it!!!)
Gougères – French cheese puffs
Alain Ducasse’s recipe
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
Large pinch of coarse salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
3 1/2 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (1 cup), plus more for sprinkling
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter and salt and bring to a boil. Add the flour and stir it in with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms; stir over low heat until it dries out and pulls away from the pan, about 2 minutes.
Scrape the dough into a bowl; let cool for 1 minute. Beat the eggs into the dough, 1 at a time, beating thoroughly between each one. Add the cheese and a pinch each of pepper and nutmeg.
Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip and pipe tablespoon-size mounds onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 22 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Serve hot, or let cool and refrigerate or freeze. Reheat in a 350° oven until piping hot.
Notes: When making the choux pastry, it is important to be sure that each egg is fully incorporated into the batter before adding the next. Don’t worry if the batter separates and looks curdled at first. Keep beating, and it will come together nicely. Gougères freeze well.
Risotto ai funghi - mushroom risotto
1 ounce dried mushrooms (I like porcini)
1 1/2 cups hot water
3-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 shallots or 1 medium onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups fresh cremini, porcini and/or wild mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
Salt & pepper, TT
1/2 cup dry white wine (I use vermouth)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp butter
Fresh parsley, chopped, to top
Optional: grated truffles or truffle oil
Soak the dried mushrooms in the hot water.
Bring the stock to a boil then turn down the heat and keep warm on low-medium heat.
Drain the dried mushrooms through a sieve (to avoid any gritty residue) and pour the liquid into the stock. Squeeze the mushrooms, chop, and set aside. Place the butter and oil in a large saucepan and turn the heat to medium. When hot, add the shallots (or onion) and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Add the garlic and stir then add the fresh mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for another 5-7 minutes. Add the reserved drained and chopped dried mushrooms. Add the rice and stir until it is coated with butter and oil. Season with salt and pepper, then add the wine. Stir and let the liquid absorb. Begin adding the stock to the rice, one ladle at a time, stirring after each addition. When the stock has evaporated, add more. Stir frequently. Begin tasting the rice 20 minutes after you add it to the pan; you want it to be tender but with still a crunch (it will continue cooking even after removing from the stove). It can take 20 to 25 minutes. At that point, add the parmesan and butter and remove from the heat. Check the seasoning, adjust if necessary, and serve immediately, topped with fresh chopped parsley.
If you wish, you can add some fresh grated truffles on top or drizzle with truffle oil (which is what we used).
Marinated salmon with caramelized pears
For 4 people
150g salmon with the skin on
2cl soya sauce (like Kikkoman)
2g of fresh ginger
3 tablespoon granulated sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon squeezed
5cl olive oil
Work the salmon in order to obtain some squares of 30g. Make the marinade with the soya sauce and 1 tablespoon of sugar, olive oil, ginger (sliced in brunoise – means small, tiny dices) and the lemon juice.
Put the salmon in and leave to marinate for about 20 minutes.
Heat a pan. Put the butter in and 2 tablespoon sugar.
Peel the pear and cut in 4 pieces. Put the pieces of pear in the hot pan. And roast the pear in order to caramalize. Put aside.
Use the same pan and glaze the pan with the marinade, heat in order to reduce until half of the liquid. Then try to keep hot.
Last step, the finish: Put a piece of pear and a cube of salmon in each plate. Pour the marinade overall. And eat immediately!
The recipe if from the book “Tapas : Petites bouchées” from the http://www.jardindessens.com/ group, which happen to be good friends with my French friend. It is available on Amazon France: http://www.amazon.fr/Tapas-Petites-bouch%C3%A9es-Jacques-Pourcel/dp/2846902801
Panna cotta with raspberries
Adele used a different recipe, but the one that I have done many times before without fail is from “The Italian Country Table: Home Cooking from Italy’s Farmhouse Kitchens” by Lynne Rossetto Kasper
Serves 6 to 8
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar, or more to taste
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (8-ounce container) sour cream
Topping: 2 cups fresh raspberries
Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water. Let stand for 5 minutes. In a 3-quart saucepan, warm the cream with the sugar, salt, and vanilla over medium-high heat. Do not let it boil. Stir in the gelatin until thoroughly dissolved. Take the cream off the heat and cool about 5 minutes.
Put the sour cream in a medium bowl. Gently whisk in the warm cream a little at a time until smooth. Taste for sweetness. It may need another teaspoon of sugar. Rinse 8 2/3 -cup ramekins, custard cups, or coffee cups with cold water. Fill each one three-quarters full with the cream. Chill 4 to 24 hours.
To serve, either unmold by packing the molds in hot towels and then turning each out onto a dessert plate, or serve in their containers. Serve alone or with the fruit, or drizzle each portion with about 1/2 teaspoon artisan balsamic vinegar or Saba.
Tarta de manzana y almendras – apple-almond pie
Cristina learned to make this wonderful pie from her mother.
It slices wonderfully once cool (unlike regular apple pie).
150 gr. Butter, cold and diced (11 Tbsp)
75 gr. Sugar (1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp)
250 gr. Flour (2 cups)
3 apples, peeled, cored and shaved very finely and small
100 gr. Sugar (1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp)
50 gr. Almonds, finely ground (1/2 cup)
Cinnamon, to taste
Almond extract, a few drops
Make the dough by combining all dough ingredients and knead gently. Divide dough in two parts and let rest in the fridge for about an hour.
Turn oven on at 350F.
Combine the filling ingredients until well mixed.
Butter and flour a round spring form pan.
Roll out one part of the dough on the bottom of the pan, then fill with filling.
Roll second part of the dough over top. Use the scraps of dough to make decorations (leaves) on top.
Optional: Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake about 45 minutes or until golden on top. Let rest. Un-mold the pie, and cut into slices. Deliciosa