This was one of those weeks where It's Thursday and I am still lost with what to make on Friday. I thought hard as I worked on Thursday so I could shop on my way home that day. I had no idea if my appetizer would even work, but I had to give it a go!
Cylinder O' Salad
My idea was that I would remove the crusts from a soft and moist sliced bread and roll it out with a rolling pin, then wrap it around my cannoli forms and seal the bread together with egg wash. Then I would either deep fry or just shallow fry them in butter for flavor and oil for a higher cooking temperature. I did it and it worked! I sprayed Pam on the cylinder shapes first and wrapped the rolled out sourdough bread slices around the metal forms. After letting them brown in the two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of canola oil for about 5 minutes I removed them from the oil and let them drain and cool for about 2 minutes. I removed the forms, and it was easy to remove because of the Pam. For the filling I chopped Calamata Olives (about 3 Tbsp) and a garlic clove together then combined that with softened goat cheese (about 4 oz). I ripped some green leaf lettuce into small pieces and made a salad dressing that included honey, mustard and sherry vinegar. Coated the lettuce with the dressing and stuffed each cylinder with the lettuce and cheese (about 50/50). I made the cylinders a few hours ahead of time and I stuffed them just before serving so the bread wouldn't get too soft. They were really good, I think next time add some diced cucumber or something with a crunch, but it was a great first course.
Pork Tenderloin Gone Crazy
I thought of a Filet Mignon wrapped in Phillo dough, but I didn't want to spend the money on a Filet so I thought I would do my idea with a pork tenderloin (which is the same cut, but different animal). I would brine the pork so it stays moist. My worry was that the Phillo usually takes 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees and would the pork be done in that time or if I sear it first will it be over done???? So I brined it to help it stay moist so if it overcooked a little it would be ok. I wanted to sear it but I seared it ahead and put it in the refrigerator. About an hour from when I wanted to serve I took it out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes. Then I sliced up some Phillo dough and wrapped it trying to make it look like hay or something crazy like that. Brushed some melted butter on the Phillo and put it in a 400 degree oven, when the Phillo browned and about 20-25 minutes later I checked it and it was a perfect 150 degrees. I took it out of the oven and finished the sides while it sat for another 5-8 minutes to get about 155-160 degrees. It was very tender and moist and perfectly cooked. The only problem was a little too salty from the brine. I did about 1 cup of salt to 4 cups of water, next time 1/2 cup salt to the same water and 1 1/2-2 hours instead of 3 should be perfect.
Butternut Squash and Apple Cider Risotto
I had a risotto at the Mills Tavern in Providence one time that had roasted squash and I always remember that dish. I have copied it a few times since that dining experience, and here I have done it again. The difference is that I was making a basic risotto one time and ran out of chicken stock. Instead of just using water (which you can do, but much less flavor) I had some apple cider in the refrigerator so I deluded about a cup of the cider with water and used that to slowly add to the Aborio rice. What that does is it adds a sweetness that you would almost swear the onions (which absorb the flavor throughout) are apples. So I combined the roasted squash (small dice with olive oil, salt and pepper which you can do a couple hours ahead or just before) and the apple cider method to make this Fall tasting risotto. Yummy!
Crisp Julienne Snow Peas
I quickly made this dish as the meat was resting from just out of the oven. Thinly slice the snow peas into long strips then quickly cook in butter in a skillet. Season with salt and pepper and after about 3 minutes remove them to the plate.
Sour Cream-Lemon Cheesecake
I saw a picture, in an ad for a restaurant, in a magazine. It was a two layer individual portion of lemon cheesecake, I had to figure it out. I don't make cheesecake very often, I love it but it's so high in fat, it can't be good for your body (especially when Tony and I eat Friday Night leftovers, for the days that follow). I bought some sour cream when I was at the store because I wanted the cheesecake to be very creamy and I would worry about a recipe later. I looked on foodnetwork.com when I got home and Alton Browns recipe had good reviews for a sour cream cheese cake. I divided the recipe in half and used ramekins instead of the cake pan that he used. I did half of the ramekins with the Graham cracker crust and the other half without to make the two layers. They came together quickly and took about 1/2 the time because of the smaller cooking vessels (as Alton would say). I was able to cook these the night before because Tony was traveling so he wouldn't see what I was making (because Tony never knows what Friday's menu is until he comes home on Friday). I let the cheesecake chill overnight. In the picture from the magazine it showed a sauce the same color as the cheesecake, basically, so what sauce should I make? I thought of doing a lemon curd but I turned to my "Joy of Cooking" for inspiration. I looked under "lemon" for a sauce or maybe the curd. I came across "Lemon Sabayon". Wow, it was perfect with the cheesecake. You mix on the top of a double boiler some eggs and sugar then whisk in some lemon juice then zest. It's light and airy and lemony and lovely! Garnished with some raspberries from the garden it was fantastic!