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!
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.
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 Velouté with Parmesan & Black Truffle crisp, topped with wild mushrooms
Next up, the entrées.
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.
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.
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.
Keep on making that pasta… use the pasta maker or a knife to make thin fettuccine-sized strands with the spinach pasta.
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.
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: Entrée – Handmade Spinach-Striped Wild Mushroom Filled Ravioli
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.
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.
Add good quality lemon curd.
Pour into serving bowls. Pipe some of the extra whipped cream onto the top.
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