Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Last night's dinner #1: Arugula salad & Creamy Farfalle

Since I've been cooking a lot lately, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the recipes that I've been trying out in a series called "Last night's dinner". Enjoy!

  • Balsamic Roasted Figs and Brown Sugar Caramelized Walnuts with Goat Cheese Arugula Salad
  • Creamy Farfalle with Cremini, Asparagus and Walnuts
  • Pimm's Citrus Mint Lemonade
  • Simple Strawberry parfait

: Preheat oven to 325°. Heat up 1/2 C of brown sugar and 2tbs of balsamic vinegar in a small pot. Add about 1C of walnuts and transfer mixture to a baking pan and bake for about 10 mins. Carefully watch to make sure you don't burn them or else you'll have to start over again. Once nuts are done, turn up the heat to 400° and heat it up for a bit (15 mins.)

Cut 8 figs in half (lengthwise) and spread out onto a bakepan. Heat up 1/2 C balsamic, 1/4 honey and 4 tbs of brown sugar in the same pot you used before. Spoon mixture over figs and bake for about 15mins. (until the mixture thickens). Once both nuts and figs are cooled, arrange on top of arugula and add a nice hunk of goat cheese or blue cheese if you prefer. Dress with aged balsamic.

PASTA (recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis): I cut the recipe in half.
1/2 pound farfalle pasta
1 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
1/2 pound thin asparagus, trimmed, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the farfalle and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender and most of the juices have evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and saute until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Add the pasta. Stir in the mascarpone and nutmeg and toss until the cheese coats the pasta, adding the reserved cooking liquid 1/4 cup at a time to moisten. Stir in 3/4 of the walnuts. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the pasta in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and remaining walnuts.

COCKTAIL: (for 2)
Zest of an orange and a lemon (about 1 tsp of each)
fresh orange and lemon Juice (2 tbs each)
4 slices of cucumber (1/4" slices)
lemon and orange slices (2 of each)
8 mint leaves cut into ribbons
1 can of French Lemonade. You can substitute Sprite or Ginger ale (I prefer Sprite)
Pimm's (you can find it in the Cordial section in your wine shop)

Fill 2 tall glasses with ice (I prefer crushed or at least stabbed into smaller than standard ice cube size). Throw in the lemon and orange zest, juices, fruits/cucumber/mint and a shot of Pimm's. Stir. Top with French lemonade and stir again. Garnish with a mint sprig.

I baked yellow cake cupcakes the other day and had some left over. So I whipped up some heavy cream and cut up some strawberries (let berries sit in some sugar for 10-15 mins) and layered the ingredients into a makeshift parfait!

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