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COOKING A THREE-COURSE MEAL

Something I rarely get to do when I cook for Allan and I, is make a proper meal with courses. Usually we cook up something relatively quick for dinner, and even when we do make a nice lunch or dinner, we rarely make appetizers or dessert.

This weekend, I was determined to cook up a proper 3-course meal: appetizer, entree, and dessert. My plan is to post my recipes for these in the comments below when I get home tonight. For now, you can check out the pictures to get an idea of the process.

On the Menu:
1. Appetizer – Butternut Squash Velouté with Parmesan & Black Truffle crisp, topped with wild mushrooms
2. Entrée – Handmade Spinach-Striped Wild Mushroom Filled Ravioli, with a Filet Mignon topped with sundried tomatoes with red wine jus
3. Dessert – Fresh Lemon Mousse topped with home grown raspberries

We headed to Gourmet Warehouse (one of my favourite stores) and Granville Island and we were set to start cooking!

Butternut Squash Butternut Squash, cooking in Scanpan Adding hot vegetable stock Grate the black truffle for the crisp Sautee the mushrooms for topping

Up first, the soup. Halve the butternut squash, clean out the seeds and chop the flesh into cubes.

Sauté the squash in some butter and shallots. You’ll see in this picture the fancy new “Scanpan” saucepan that Allan bought us from Gourmet Warehouse! In LOVE with it! It’s titanium with a ceramic non-stick surface so it is non-toxic, unlike Teflon. It’s also very light and a pleasure to use, and made in Denmark.

Add hot vegetable stock and cover, let simmer. Add cream, seasoning, fresh herbs, and then transfer the squash to a blender. Blend, add more stock/cream as necessary for the right texture. Strain for smoothness (for a real velouté) or if you like texture, you can serve it as it is.

Sauté wild mushrooms with butter and parsley for the topping. Grate some black truffles for the Parmesan crisp.

Make the parmesan crisp

Use real Parmigiano Reggiano for the crisp. Sprinkle onto the pan, top with black truffles, cook over high heat, and then flash under the broiler to brown.

DONE: Appetizer - Butternut Squash Veloute with Parmesan Crisp topped with local wild mushrooms

DONE: Appetizer – Butternut Squash Velouté with Parmesan & Black Truffle crisp, topped with wild mushrooms

Next up, the entrées.

Start making pasta dough Steam the spinach for the spinach pasta Assortment of wild mushrooms for the filling Roll out long sheets of pasta

Start by making regular pasta from scratch. Use good Italian ’00′ pasta flour and extra large eggs, and high quality olive oil. Knead until pliable.

Steam the spinach for the spinach pasta, and then transfer to a blender. Puree, add the eggs and flour, blend again… and then when thick, pour onto the counter and knead in flour until you have the right consistency. Use a pasta maker or rolling pin to make long thin sheets of pasta.

Chop up the mushrooms and the leek

Use a good assortment of fresh wild mushrooms for the filling. I used local Chanterelles, Portobello, Shiitake, and Enoki mushrooms. Chop the mushrooms very finely. Also chop up some leek.

Saute the filling and fry the pancetta Red wine, rosemary and balsamic vinegar reduction Red wine and balsamic vinegar for the red wine jus reduction Making the cream/alfredo sauce from scratch

Fry up some pancetta for the topping. Sauté the filling in oil from the pancetta, butter, herbs, and seasoning and let all the water evaporate.

In the meantime, start making your red wine jus. Use good quality red wine, good quality balsamic vinegar, beef stock, shallots, garlic and a full sprig of rosemary. Add in stages and let reduce until dark and thick. Strain.

Start making your cream sauce from scratch. Use good Parmigiano Reggiano, lots of herbs and seasoning, butter, and a good thick cream. Stir in a good amount of fresh basil just before adding pasta to the saucepan.

Cut out circles in the sheets for the ravioli

Keep on making that pasta… use the pasta maker or a knife to make thin fettuccine-sized strands with the spinach pasta.

Start laying strips of the spinach pasta on the regular pasta sheet Run the combined sheet through the pasta maker Ready to be assembled ravioli halves Finished ravioli stuffed with mushroom filling!

Lay on top of the plain pasta sheet to make stripes. Run it through the pasta maker to smooth down. Use a cookie cutter or pasta cutter to make the shape you want for the pasta. I used a round cookie-cutter here. Keep going until you’ve cut out all your pasta. Save the waste and roll it out so you can use it to make pasta again later. Spoon generous amounts of filling into the ravioli and dip your finger in water, run around the rim of the ravioli, and then press the two sheets together. Press firmly to seal the edges.

Cooking the ravioli

Boil up the pasta! I was very surprised how well our pasta turned out. It didn’t fall apart in the water at all! Very happy!

DONE: Entree - Mushroom Filled Ravioli Spinach-Striped Pasta in an Alfredo Sauce

DONE: Entrée – Handmade Spinach-Striped Wild Mushroom Filled Ravioli

DONE: Entree - Filet Mignon with sundried tomatoes and red wine jus reduction (forgot for the pic) on a bed of spinach

DONE: Entrée – Filet Mignon topped with sundried tomatoes on a bed of spinach with red wine jus (not pictured because I forgot it for the pic :( …)

Hopefully the day before you’ve made dessert :) Here’s how to do it.

Grating lemon rind Whipping the base (eggs, cream, sugar) Folding in sweetened homemade whipped cream into the lemon mousse

Start shaving off some lemon rind (for flavour and colour). Make your lemon mousse from scratch… whipping cream, eggs, vanilla, fresh lemon juice, and lemon rind. Fold in homemade sweetened whipped cream.

Fold in good lemon curd into the lemon mousse

Add good quality lemon curd.

Pour into serving bowls Pipe with sweetened whipped cream

Pour into serving bowls. Pipe some of the extra whipped cream onto the top.

DONE: Dessert - Fresh Lemon Mousse topped with home grown raspberries

DONE: Dessert – Fresh Lemon Mousse topped with a lemon slice and home grown raspberries

Hope you enjoyed the photos and the story! I’m hoping to post my recipes in the comments when I get home :)

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25 Responses to “COOKING A THREE-COURSE MEAL”

  1. Allan Says:

    I enjoyed the pictures and the story as much as the food itself. That was so much fun!

  2. Mike Says:

    Seriously delicious-looking post & photos! Good thing I’ve already had lunch or I’d be starving after reading this… :)

  3. Christine Says:

    It all looks amazing, Allie! I am curious though, how long did it take you to do all that?

  4. mango Says:

    I love your pasta!! I got a pasta maker too, but am just playing with it (i.e. I suck)…will definitely want to try your spinach pasta recipe. Everything looks delicious…can I come over for dinner?

    PS The photo layout reminds me of smittenkitchen – which I’ve also been meaning to do for some of the process photos in my recipe posts!

  5. Alissa Says:

    I hope you open a restaurant.

  6. Tawcan Says:

    That looks way too tasty. The pasta looks really good. Can I come over for dinner sometime? :D

  7. Liv Says:

    Wow lucky Allan! how long does something like this take for you to make? it’s incredible that you have so many great photos to document it.

    I must confess i am a TERRIBLE cook. I have no common sense at all when it comes to cooking, and I can only make certain dishes really well (usually followed to the T in the recipe). Lucky for me, Rob is quite a natural chef.

  8. Raia Says:

    A woman of many talents, is there anything you can’t do? Seems like every post you’re doing something different, though I love reading about all your adventures.

  9. David Hayes Says:

    Yum, please post the recipes! I like the look of the Ravioli and I’m planning a dinner soon (not decided what to make yet though)

  10. Sean Says:

    Geeeez! Allie, clearly you need to be opening up some sort of posh dining room/restaurant! These are incredible! I can’t believe you did all that practically from scratch! Amazing!

  11. StaCey Says:

    Wow.. very impressive. You are amazing, that man better marry you!

  12. Dzintra Ingrid Says:

    Hi there…what a wonderful meal you have prepared…just scrumptious!!!

  13. Adelaide Says:

    Wow!!! Seriously…WOW!!! That is some crazy preparation. I obviously don’t have the natural talent or patience that you have. That is one amazing gourmet meal!

  14. rita Says:

    hey allie your food looks nice and delicious,i’m impress that you made it from scratch, how bout trying something asian instead.

  15. TallGuySurfing Says:

    Seriously awesome pictures! I am now officially hungry after reading this and staring at the pictures. Great job!

    IMG_0181.jpg

  16. BlogTrot Says:

    Wow, why would you ever want to go out for food?!

  17. Web Design Dave Says:

    Mmm Allie.. This looks delicious!

    Looking forward to the surfing vid :)

  18. La Grenadine Says:

    It seems so tasty !!! *-*

  19. Mitch Says:

    Um, I am now famished! That looks, and sounds, SO damn good!

    Wow…

  20. VancityAllie Says:

    Okay!

    As promised, here are the recipes. I’ll start with the dessert.

    Fresh Lemon Mousse Recipe by the Barefoot Contessa:

    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

    How to Make It:

    1. 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.

    2. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 10-12 minutes, until the mixture is thick like pudding. (I whisk when the mixture starts to get thick.) Take off the heat and set aside for 15 minutes.

    3.Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until completely chilled.

    4. Place half the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed.

    5. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat until the whites are stiff and shiny.

    6. Carefully fold whites into the cold lemon mixture with a rubber spatula.

    7. Place the cream in the same bowl of the electric mixer fitted whisk attachment (no need to clean the bowl) and beat on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks.

    8. Carefully fold whipped cream into the lemon mixture.

    9. 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.

  21. VancityAllie Says:

    Now here’s the recipe for the appetizer…

    Butternut Squash Veloute with Parmesan-Truffle Crisp Topped with Mushrooms, loosely based on a Gordon Ramsay recipe, but heavily adapted (I recommend you follow this one) … :)

    Ingredients:
    1 butternut squash, about 1 1/2lb
    3 tbsp GOOD olive oil (I use Eleni)
    2 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
    2 tbsp butter
    2 1/2 cups hot vegetable stock (make your own, or I love the ones from the Stock Market on Granville Island)
    1/3 cup whipping cream

    4-6 heaped tbsp grated parmesan (Use good Parmigiano Reggiano)
    Black truffle trimmings and shavings (I found the truffles at Granville Island)

    A pinch of parsley
    A few shiitake mushrooms, thickly sliced.

    How to Do It:

    1. Peel the butternut squash, then halve it. Remove the seeds and chop it up into small square pieces.

    2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and saute the shallots until softened but not coloured, approx 5 minutes.

    3. Put the squash in, and then add the butter. Season well with salt and pepper. Stir over med-high heat until soft and lightly golden/yellow at the edges.

    4. Pour in the vegetable stock, just enough to cover the tops of the squash and then simmer until squash is very soft, approx 5 minutes.

    5. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the cream. Scoop the squash and shallotsinto the blender, adding about 1/3 of the pan contents into the blender. Blend until very very smooth. Keep adding stock until it is the consistency you want. I like it a little bit thicker personally, but still soup consistency. Optionally, you can strain the soup if you want a TRUE veloute and you want it super smooth. Personally I like the texture so I don’t strain it. Make sure you check the seasoning. Keep warm.

    6. Preheat the boiler. Now take a non-stick frying pan and heat it until it is hot on the stove.

    7. Sprinkly the parmesan onto the pan… make sure it is an event layer, and sprinkle grated black truffle over.

    8. When the sides begin to turn golden, take the pan off the stove and put it under the broiler, very very close (careful, don’t burn yourself). Hold it there for a couple seconds until the top is evenly golden. Remove the pan from the broiler and let the pan cool for about 30 seconds.

    9. Using a spatula, carefully peel the crisp off and transfer to parchment paper or a plate to cool. Repeat with the rest of the parmesan.

    10. When ready to serve, saute the mushrooms in a little olive oil and butter in a frying pan. Sprinkle with parsley and salt and pepper.

    11. To plate the dish, carefully pour the squash soup into a bowl. Wipe the edges clean for presentation :) (I’m picky!). Now carefully place the mushrooms on the surface of the soup. Place the parmesan crisp upright in the soup or on the edge of the bowl. Serve with freshly ground pepper or sprinkle a little olive oil :) Done!

  22. VancityAllie Says:

    Here’s the recipe for the ravioli. Note that you’ll have to make two different kinds of pasta for the striped ravioli.

    Here’s the Basic Pasta recipe from Mario Batali:

    Ingredients:
    3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
    4 extra-large eggs
    1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

    How to Make It:

    1. Mound 3 1/2 cups flour in center of a large work surface, and make a well in the middle. Crack eggs and 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil into the well.

    2. Using a fork, beat eggs; slowly incorporate flour, beginning with inner rim of well. When flour is incorporated, gather dough together to form a rounded mass. Begin kneading dough with the palms of your hands. Once dough comes together, scrape up any dried bits of dough; discard.

    3. Lightly flour work surface; knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Roll out the pasta into thin sheets with a pasta maker or rolling pin. Let it dry while you do the other stuff.

    For the Spinach Pasta (adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe):

    Ingredients:
    6 oz fresh spinach
    2 large eggs
    1 large egg yolk
    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
    Coarse salt
    1 tsp olive oil

    How to Make It:

    1. Add 2 inches of water to a medium saucepan, and fit with a steamer insert. Bring to a simmer. Add 6 ounces spinach, cover, and steam until bright green and softened, about 2 minutes. Let cool slightly. Squeeze out liquid using a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Make sure you really squeeze it out good. Puree spinach in a food processor (you should have about 1/2 cup puree).

    2. Add eggs and yolk to puree in food processor, and process until combined. Add flour and 1 heaping teaspoon salt, and process until dough just comes together, about 20 seconds.

    3. Transfer dough to a well-floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes, adding up to 2 tablespoons flour if dough is too sticky. Roll out onto long thin sheets with a pasta maker or rolling pin.

    For the Filling:
    About 1 and a half brown bags full of wild local mushrooms… we used Portobello, chanterelles, enoki, and shiitake.
    You’ll also need a leek, and some butter.
    If you want a richer filling, you’ll need about 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, but it really isn’t necessary.

    1. Wash, dry, and chop up 1/4 of the leek (both white and green parts). Chop up very very finely.

    2. Clean, dry, and chop up all the mushrooms, removing only the steps. Chop VERY finely.

    3. Add about 2 or 3 tablespoons of butter to a saucepan and let it foam, then add the mushrooms. Saute for about 5 minutes.

    4. Add the leeks, and some salt and pepper to taste… saute for about 3 minutes. Make sure ALL the liquid is evaporated. Let it rest and cool while you are making the pasta. If you want a richer filling, stir in a little ricotta cheese (about 1/2 a cup).

    To Make the Striped Ravioli (our recipe):

    1. Take the spinach pasta sheets and cut into thin strips, or use a fettuccine setting on a pasta maker.

    2. Carefully place the spinach strips onto a basic pasta sheet. Now slowly roll through the pasta maker or roll out with a rolling pin.

    3. Cut circles or shapes into the now striped sheets using cookies cutters or the rim of a small glass. You’ll want very large circles. We used about 4-5 inches diameter.

    4. Take a very generous spoonful of mushroom filling, and carefully place it in the middle of a pasta circle (keep the striped colours on the outside).

    5. Now take your finger, dip it in a little water and run it around the outside circle of the pasta (this is to help the pieces stick together). Now take another pasta circle and place it on top, carefully pounding the edges with your finger tips to seal.

    6. Repeat with all the raviolis. You’ll want to boil a pot of cold water with salt to cook them about 7 minutes or until al dente.

    Pasta Sauce (my own simple recipe):
    3 tbsp butter
    1 and a half cups of heavy whipping cream (for cooking noobs, this is the kind you buy in the carton, not the stuff that comes out of cans for dessert)
    Fresh basil
    Very good Parmigiano Reggiano, I like the kind from Duso’s on Granville Island. You’ll need about half a wedge.

    1. Heat the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the cream, bring to a boil.

    2. As soon as it boils, quickly take the pan off the heat and stir, don’t let it burn or overboil. Once it calms down, turn the heat down to medium and keep stirring.

    3. Add salt and pepper to taste, and then grate the Parmigiano Reggiano into the sauce pan. You’ll want approximately 1/2 a cup grated.

    4. Keep stirring until it is thick. It varies on the stove, but this can take as long as 15-20 minutes sometimes. Don’t give up, it takes a long time. Wait until it is nice and thick. It should coat the back of a spoon.

    5. Add you pasta to the sauce in the pan, and then tear off small pieces of basil and stir into the sauce. Season to taste. Grate extra cheese on top :)

    Done!

  23. Amy Says:

    Loved this post – it has inspired me to cook a nice meal tomorrow. But definately NOT 3 courses with a 7 month old and a 2 year old! The photos were amazing. However, I want to know how long it took to make that meal (including all photo-taking)!

  24. A Says:

    Oh dear lord… you’re beautiful AND you can cook. What a combo!

    headshot2.jpg

  25. ceej Says:

    lol. this just made me chuckle. it’s funny how people can be soooo different. i like food, just nowhere near this much. i actually found it a bit gross. beautifully done, of course, just taken to a level that sort of turns my stomach. i guess it’s like people who eat meat but don’t want anything to do with the slaughtering process. in both cases, TMI. just an odd little observation.

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This the blog of a 28 year-old Vancouver girl who loves and writes about everything “Vancouver” and West Coast. This is the blog of a girl who works in Vancouver's video game industry, it's also a surfing blog, snowboarding blog, food blog, Canucks blog, gadget blog, and photography blog. VancityAllie.com is an award-winning blog that receives over 2.7M unique visitors every year and over 4,500 followers on Twitter. VancityAllie.com has been featured in books, newspapers, magazines, and television.

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