Thursday, May 13, 2010

Friday Night Bites #3

I love to do these "bites night's", but Tony was right...again...It is more work. I don't mind more work if everything tastes as it did last night, which was excellent (if I do say so myself). The key is that you have to be organized and I already know that but I didn't have everything bought ahead so I had to go out and I left kind of late so I got started late. When that happens I am pretty much dead by 9:30 PM because there is no stopping to sit for a moment. So the other key is to cook as much as possible ahead and finish or heat through at dinner time. I didn't have ANYTHING done ahead, I started at 12:30 PM making all that you see below. I still love doing it...

Cheese Stuffed Croutons over Arugula Salad

This was really a last minute addition that took the place of something I was going to make that included Masa Harina, which I couldn't find anywhere, but when I am not looking for it I see it everywhere! I had just seen someone roll out white bread with a rolling pin and he topped it with something then cooked it, bread side down in a skillet until it got crispy. I took that same idea and made "cheese stuffed croutons" which were basically little baby grilled cheese sandwiches (about the size of a nickle). I put a slice of Swiss cheese between to slices of sourdough bread and rolled it as thin as I could and pan fried them in olive oil. I got some really peppery arugula and simply dressed it with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Topped it with three of the cheese filled croutons, it was simple but pretty good.

Fried Cheese Ravioli with Parmesan Tomato Sauce

I have been wanting to do this, I saw Giada do it on "Everyday Italian" one day, a while ago. I combined it with another idea I saw in Jamie Oliver's magazine, where he made fresh pasta and in the process of rolling it out into a sheet, he sandwiched in some fresh herbs for a pretty decoration. I made a small batch of pasta dough and layered in basil and parsley to make the pasta sheets. For the filling I got some fresh ricotta from Whole Foods and strained it out for a few hours. I mixed some of the strained ricotta with Raclette cheese (which I never had but the description said it was a good melting cheese and it was earthy and meaty, so I gave it a shot). I also mixed in salt, pepper, basil chiffinade, lemon zest and a half of a beaten egg to bind it. I assembled the ravioli by placing a dollop of the cheese mixture over the herb that is in the pasta, so when I cut the ravioli shape, I get a nice whole herb leaf in the center of the ravioli. I placed the ravioli in the refrigerator for a couple hours until I was ready to fry them. When ready I just fried them in an inch of olive oil until it turned golden. I served 2 per person with some homemade tomato sauce. I actually took the left over centers of the whole tomatoes that I used to make the "Tomato Concasee" in the next recipe (the Leek Custard) to make this sauce. I did what I would normally do for canned tomatoes but it needed to cook a little longer because of the natural water that you get from fresh tomatoes. I combined garlic and olive oil, red pepper flakes, the chopped up tomato centers, salt, sugar and pepper. I cooked it for maybe 45 minutes and when I was ready to serve it with the "Fried Ravioli" I grated some Parmesan cheese in it. Very nice! The ravioli wasn't as crispy as I expected but very interesting and Tony thought is was a good idea to fill it with something sweet and top it with confectioners sugar for a dessert.

Leek Custard with Tomato Concasse, Tomato Water and Crispy Shallots

I happened to catch Emeril Lagasse on his show Emeril Green and he was just finishing up this leek custard. The very next day Tony was watching TV and he said ... ooohh a savory custard, that's interesting (he was watching something completely different)... That made me think of the one I saw Emeril do so I printed it and made it. But I made one change, instead of pairing it with smoked tomatoes, I made Tomato Concasse. That leads to why I thought of that, I saw Martha Stewart the same day and she made something with the concasse and said to do it over a strainer and save the tomato pulp to make "Tomato Water" it's delicious. So that's what I did, I never did that before. I fried thin sliced shallots in the same oil I used for the ravioli (above) until they were crispy and salted them after draining on paper towels. The custard was fantastic, it tasted like velvet and it paired very nicely with the tomato water and concasse and the crunchy shallots gave it a nice texture.

Skillet Fillet Mignon with Balsamic Steak Sauce and Buttermilk Mashed Potato

I almost always make a steak on the grill. This time I used my cast iron pan and started it on the stove top then into a 350 degree oven until they were done. These fillet steaks were beauties. They were at least 2 inches thick but small enough around to count as a "bite" sized portion. I brought them to room temperature about 45 minutes before cooking them so it cooks more evenly. I simply seasoned them with salt and pepper and got the pan hot over medium-high heat and cooked for 2 minutes on one side then turn over and put the pan in the oven for 8 minutes and they were absolutely perfectly medium. For the sauce simmer 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2/3 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup honey, 2 sliced shallots, 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp allspice, salt, sugar and pepper to taste until thickened, about 15 minutes. Strain then whisk in some butter (1-2 Tbsp). I made this ahead and just heated it up. I think it would go nice with grilled chicken too. I happened to have buttermilk from another recipe so I decided to use it in the mashed potatoes. That was all a dynamite combination, how can you go wrong with meat and potatoes?

Molten Lava Cake with Earl Gray Ice Cream

This is a combination that I have been seeing in one of Martha Stewart's books. I wasn't sure about "Earl Gray Tea" as a flavor for ice cream, so I had to try it, also I pictured doing a lava cake or something similar for tonight's dessert so I had to do Martha's combination of the two. The ice cream I thought wasn't sweet enough, it was OK if you ate it with some lava chocolate cake, but not on it's own. Tony really liked the flavor of the ice cream. The lava cake called for "ring molds" which I didn't have so I made my own instead of running around trying to find some. The recipe called for 2 1/2 inches by 2 3/4 inches so I found cans at the grocery store that were that size (tomato sauce if your interested) and I removed the top and bottom of the cans and walla, 2 ring molds. The idea was to cook them in the molds and remove the molds when done and you have a perfect cylinder or tower of chocolate and when you dive into it, it oozes chocolate onto the plate. Well I think I undercooked it a bit and it didn't really "stand" on it's own, it collapsed immediately, but wicked good!

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