Posts Tagged ‘Ravioli’

CHRISTMAS DECOR AND HOLIDAY ENTERTAINING IN AN APARTMENT

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Hanging Christmas Ornaments

For the very first time since we’ve moved in together (that’s 4 years now!), Allan and I decided to decorate our little apartment with Christmas decorations. And let’s face it, when I say “Allan and I”, I really mean me, since Allan would much rather be playing video games than doing holiday decorations ;) Plus, I’ll be honest — I’ve been suffering a little bit from wedding withdrawal, and I’ve been dying for an excuse to do floral arrangements, place settings and entertaining :)

Hanging Christmas Ornaments

Over the past two weeks, I’ve decorated our home space, the common room at work, and my parent’s house. I’ve been elfing it up this year for some reason! Normally we do Christmas completely over at my parent’s place as they have space to do the big tree… and while Christmas will most definitely still be over there, we are having my folks over for Christmas breakfast this year and wanted to prep the apartment in advance. I decided to do a silver and champagne Christmas theme with red accents.

Festive Flower Arrangement

Champagne and Silver Place Setting Starting to arrange flowers

 

We hosted a holiday dinner party this past weekend with Trev & Crista and Mat & Ali and managed to find some space for our pop-up table. Seating 6 around this table in our apartment is difficult, so swapped our normal computer desk for a “rolly” desk that we can roll into a different room when we have people over. Awesome! Then it was time for new place settings! I also did all the floral arrangements with fresh roses and Christmas greens.

Low Festive Flower Table Arrangement

Low flower arrangements with large red roses and berries.

Christmas Table Setting

I really like the way our place settings turned out and I think they are versatile enough to use all year round. Or do you think it would be too much for normal entertaining?

Silver Wreath

Here’s a silver wreath we used to bring some festivity to our kitchen.

Fresh Pines and Peppercorn Wreath

And my favourite… a fresh wreath with peppercorns, pinecones and tons of greens… smells so good!

Christmas Decor

Our side table was replaced with some silver Christmas trees and mercury glass candle holders…

Christmas Decor Christmas Decor and Wine

… a couple other accents here and there with reindeer and more candles.

Aftermath of Festive Dinner Party

The aftermath of our dinner party with some holiday decor on our coffee table and a festive throw blanket.

Clarifying Butter Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Making Chocolate Decorations Making Spinach and Beets for Pasta Colouring

I find cooking for 6 people really hard to do with plated dinners, so we did quite a bit of prep the previous night. I learned how to clarify butter for the first time (awesome for searing scallops at an extremely high temperature). I also toasted the pumpkin seeds, prepped the chocolate decorations and the veggies to give the pasta some colour.

Kobe-Style Beef Short Ribs Butternut Squash Cooking Brown Butter Sage Sauce Peas and mint for the puree

The next day, we put the kobe-style marbled beef short ribs in the oven for four hours and got the butternut squash soup going. Some photos of our prep with making the sage sauce, and the minted pea puree.

Making Striped Ravioli Spinach and Beet Striped Ravioli filled with Wild Mushrooms or Butternut Squash

Allan did a really nice job with the striped raviolis. We did beet-coloured ravioli for the butternut squash filled ones, and spinach-coloured ravioli for the wild mushroom filled ones.

Butternut Squash Soup with Pumpkin Seeds and Pumpkin Oil with a Parmesan Crisp

First course: Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds and Pumpkin Seed Oil, finished with a Parmesan Crisp … we always seem to make this one when other people come over! (recipe)

Seared Scallops with Pea Puree and Double-Smoked Bacon

Second Course: Seared Scallops in a Minted Pea Puree with Applewood Double-Smoked Bacon

Braised Beef Short Rib with Cauliflower Puree and Wild Mushroom Ravioli and Butternut Squash Ravioli

Third Course: Braised Beef Short Rib in a Red Wine Reduction with Cauliflower Puree and duo of Wild Mushroom and Butternut Squash Ravioli in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce (recipe)

Tiramisu Cheesecake with Chocolate Decoration

Fourth Course: Tiramisu Cheesecake with Chocolate Decoration and Strawberries (recipe)

Our Festive Apartment

Overall I think our dinner party went well and our apartment is looking festive! I think we’re all set for the holidays…. can’t wait for Christmas! Can you believe it’s only 2 weeks away now?

What are your holiday plans this year? Are you going to decorate your place?


SERVING UP A HOMEMADE FIVE-COURSE MEAL

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Chocolate Pattern

I really love cooking from scratch… everything tastes so much better when you make everything yourself. Allan’s mom and her husband were coming over from Vancouver Island to meet my parents… and Allan and I decided to create a fancy five-course meal to serve them. As if it wasn’t pressure enough just to have the two parents meet!

I think the best way to tackle this post with the sheer number of photos is to put all the prep photos first and leave the five “finished” photos for the end :) I will post the recipes later tonight in the Comments section. So, here we go!

Chocolate Chips for tempering Chocolate on Parchment Paper Chocolate Decorations

The key to cooking a multi-course meal, in my opinion, is all about the prep work. Making sure you double-check your ingredients, making sure you prep anything the night before that can be prepped… and having as much pre-portioned and pre-chopped up the day of the meal before you start cooking. You don’t really want anything sitting there getting cold… you want to serve it fresh right off the stove onto the plate as you go. I decided to prepare the chocolate creme brulée the night before.

Tempering Chocolate

The first step was making the chocolate decoration… and tempering chocolate with a candy thermometer. This is the temperature chart I followed… it’s a bit tricky but once you get the hang of it, it’s fairly easy. You have to raise the chocolate to a high temperature, cool it with an ice bath, and heat again to a medium temperature… then your chocolate is tempered and easy to work with!

A very full pantry

My pantry was definitely overstuffed with supplies.

Simmering the apricots Candied Walnuts

The creme brulée was cooked and then cooled overnight. The next morning I woke up and simmered the apricots for several hours (for the puree) and Allan and I candied the walnuts for the first course.

Le Creuset Pot and Butternut Squash Blending the squash soup _DSC0262 Grated Nutmeg

The next step was to start preparing the soup… peeling, cutting, and weighing the butternut squash. Then sautéeing them in shallots and butter, cooking with chicken stock, and then adding spices. The soup also had to be blended, strained, blended again, and then served. Served with freshly grated nutmeg!

Weighing chicken for the food processor Combined chicken mousse and dungeness crab filling

While this was happening, we started making the chicken mousse in the food processor (note.. having an electronic scale is a life saver!). I cooked up several pounds of Pacific Wild Dungeness crab fresh from Granville Island here in Vancouver in white wine, butter and other spices… which was then added with a little bit of chicken mousse, parmesan, and chives to make the crab filling for the ravioli.

Crab Filling on the Ravioli

Allan made the fresh pasta while I cut the rounds for the ravioli and added the stuffing, and sealed the edges.

Chopped up veggies for the soup Clam Chowder being prepared

Meanwhile… getting the clam chowder ready by prepping the veggies, potatoes and leeks… and cooking the clams in white wine and fish stock.

Clams cooked in White Wine

I really loved the clams we got from Granville Island… very similar to littleneck clams but sweeter. Then I made a roux for the clam chowder and waited while it thickened up and cooked the veggies. (Note… make sure to add the clams just before serving, you don’t want them to get tough).

Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut

Next was making the prosciutto-wrapped halibut.

Wrapping the halibut in prosciutto with a sage leaf Searing the Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut

We wrapped the very thinly sliced prosciutto around the halibut and sealed it in with a sage leaf for aroma and flavour. The halibut needed to be seared before being baked in the oven.

Preparing the Marshmallows from Butter Baked Goods Preparing the dessert plates Firing up the chocolate creme brulees

The last thing to worry about was the dessert of course.. in the interest of time I bought a few little sweets to go with the creme brulée. I got some marshmallows from Vancouver-based Butter Baked Goods… and rolled the vanilla marshmallows in candy cane pieces and the coffee marshmallows in a chocolate-sugar mix. I used little Christmas plates and also attached chocolate-covered marshmallows onto stainless steel skewers. The last step before serving was to torch the chocolate creme brulée.

Allan's Mom and Husband sitting with my parents

We set up my dad’s old work table in the middle of our living room and stole my mom’s linens to make a Christmas spread. It was a little hokey but hey, we made do ;) As for the parents meeting the parents… well we think it went rather well! This is a photo of Allan’s mom and husband Terry sitting at the table talking to my folks. Both sets of parents seemed to get along well and both had good things to say after. We kept them busy with the food ;)

And last but not least… the photos of the finished meal!

ALLIE AND ALLAN’S FIVE-COURSE CHRISTMAS MEAL FOR OUR PARENTS

FINISHED: Seared Qualicum Bay Scallops with Apricot Puree and Candied Walnuts

Course One: Seared Qualicum Bay Scallops with Apricot Puree and Candied Walnuts

FINISHED: Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Chives, Parmesan, Nutmeg, Pumpkin Seeds and Pumpkin Oil

Course Two: Creamy Butternut Squash Soup topped with Pumpkin Seeds, Chives, Parmesan, Freshly Grated Nutmeg, and Pumpkin Seed Oil

FINISHED: Fresh Dungeness Crab Ravioli with Mushroom Parmesan Sauce and Seared Beef Tenderloin

Course Three: Dungeness Crab-Stuffed Ravioli topped with a Maple-Candied Dungeness Crab Leg, in a Mushroom-Parmesan Sauce… served with Seared Beef Tenderloin in a Balsamic Vinegar-Shallot Marinade

FINISHED: Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut in Clam Chowder

Course Four: Prosciutto-Wrapped Halibut with Clam Chowder

FINISHED: Chocolate Creme Brulee topped with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Chocolate Decoration and Mango Coulis and assorted sweets

Course Five: Chocolate Creme Brulée topped with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Chocolate Decoration, with Raspberries in a Mango Coulis served with assorted sweets (Coffee and Vanilla Marshmallows, Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow, Peppermint Bark)

Phew!

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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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