Archive for August, 2009

COOKING A THREE-COURSE MEAL

Monday, August 24th, 2009

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 :)

A DAY AT THE RACES

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Sunday was absolutely fabulous! Everyone had such a good time at the horse races. So, finally… here are the photos! This is a heavy photo post so please bear with me.

Fancy hat from Edie's Hats

Here I am at the races with my fancy hat from Edie’s Hats!

Fake Pearls

I got some cheap fake pearls from the mall, but I thought they looked pretty vintage! I also had a dress from Le Chateau, shoes from BCBG, and scarf from Club Monaco.

Nars Red Lips

For bright red lips, I got some Nars lip liner and lip gloss. I’ve never worn makeup that red before, and it took some getting used to!

Etro, Paul Smith, Robert Hall

Allan looked great. His outfit was an Etro dress shirt (Looooove Etro!), shoes by Paul Smith, and hat by Robert Hall. Check out my previous post on both our hats.

Allan and I

Allan and I… mostly I love this photo because you can see the netting pattern so clearly!

Hasting Race Course

The Hasting Race Course was a LOT of fun. Gorgeous scenery and backdrop for the races… we had a sunny day with a slight breeze and great box seats. Couldn’t have asked for a better day at the races!

Our box at the horse races!

Here we are all sitting in our box seats!

A race to the finish

The races were exciting. We saw about 8 races that day and each one was a race to the finish. Some of us ended up and some of us ended down… I won $15 on one race! But I ended up down $5 overall. One of our friends ended up with winnings of $65!

Alissa's Pretty Bag

Alissa’s purse… soooo pretty!

Bonnie, Alissa, and Ranelle

Bonnie, Alissa, and Ranelle…

Chad, J, Tom

Chad, J, and Tom…

Max, Sarita, Mike

Max, Sarita and Mike…

Lots of pitchers

Let’s just say there were lots of pitchers ordered.

Kim looking pretty

I also got a chance to take some portraits of everyone. To see all the photos, check out my Flickr as I didn’t have enough room for them all here. Here’s Kim looking very pretty…

Allan and his hat

Allan looking dapper…

Sarita looking pretty

Sarita is glowing…

J looking suave

J looks cool…

Me at the horse races

Here I am trying to look demure but ultimately looking confused, haha.

Mascot Race! YES!

The MASCOT race! Haha… so much fun. We bet amongst ourselves, and the most unlikely mascot won. It was pretty hilarious though. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

Ladies with the Mariachi Band

The ladies with the Mariachi band! I love this photo of the girls!

Ladies Silhouette

I stole this photo from Amy’s Facebook album… I really like the silhouettes and the perspective on this shot.

Men at the Horse Races

Group of the guys…

The Group at the Horse Races

The entire group that went that day (less one girl who had to leave early). What a great group of friends to see the races with! :)

Hat from Edie's Hats

Would I go to the races again? DEFINITELY. I highly recommend it as a fun summer activity to do with friends. And besides, who can resist the urge to dress up? :)

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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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