Saturday, February 6, 2010

La Table De Nana's Cauliflower Soup with Spiced Pear Chips

Last Saturday night I had a dinner party for some of my favorite foodies.
 All of these people had made knockout dinners for me during the year and I wanted to return the favor.
About the same time, Monique at La Table De Nana had posted a Cauliflower Soup with Spiced Pear Chips that caught my imagination as well as my interest.  Originally from LCBO, she found the recipe on their web site. Which is a wonderful site, thanks Monique for that link! 
I whipped it together and I must say, the flavors lived up to Monique's photos. All my guests wanted the recipe, as I passed along La Table De Nana's blog address I thought why not post this as my Saturday Blog showcase? 
I had quite a menu planned,  Pascal and Ujwala brought Fois Gras, and the entree was Cassoulet.
A certain amuse-bouche from another blog was also served but you will have to wait until next week to get a peek of it. 
I didn't want to serve a large bowl of soup, just a taste. I decided to use my mini soup bowls and instead of the large pear chips the recipe called for,  I julienne the pears and then proceeded to follow the recipe as is. Except for the 1/4 cup of heavy cream I added at the end. I love the richness cream lends to soups. The flavor of the orange comes as a surprise in your first bite.  My guests raved and yours will too. Like Nana, I used only chicken stock and no water. But I did use the entire cauliflower and garnished with snipped chives.
Honestly this picture doesn't do justice to the wonderful flavor of the soup. You are just going to have to make it and see for yourself.
This week the Saturday Blog Showcase is hosted by Ann of Thibeailt's Table.  Visit her site and see what all the others bloggers have cooked up this week!
Next week it will be hosted by Lori of All That Splatters, click on her site and join us. 
I didn't include the recipe, but instead I have posted links to La Table De Nana, because you have to see her beautiful blog and a link to LCBO where you can print the recipe. 
All text and photos are property of The Gypsy Chef

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Clock is ticking..........

Pardon the Rush
Some people spend their youth learning new things. By the time they are in their 50's their children are grown and they have more leisure time and begin traveling. At least that how it is with most of my friends. 
Courtesy of Rodney Watts
I however, spent my youth traveling and exploring the world. I ate in restaurants and friend's homes. I tried a multitude of cuisines which led to a desire to cook. In my 30's I attended the Culinary Institute of America and began a life long love of food and cooking. This has led to my blog, which has inspired a myriad of other interests.  I now have a burning desire to learn about writing, photography, computers and even more cooking!
I've begun taking classes in Algebra  (?), French, photography, photo lighting and one small little Artisan Bread Class. 
I feel that if I don't study these things now, when will I? So I've put cleaning on the back burner and have begun reading, studying and feeding new information into my hungry brain.
My kids think I'm crazy, my friends think I'm a women possessed. Rodney commented "Pam, whenever you've found yourself with an empty plate, you heap servings of everything on it until it's over flowing!"
Left unchecked I would probably be pursuing two hundred other things I'm interested in.

That in mind, I find that when I have to prepare dinner I need to make it fast, fresh and healthy. Never frozen, (unless I prepared it earlier and froze it myself).  The last two nights I needed to prepare such a meal. I made two different pasta entrees. Besides being fast they are recession friendly which is always a plus in this economy.

The first was a simple meat sauce with a Puttanesca twist.  I browned about a pound of ground beef added garlic, crushed red pepper, diced tomatoes, anchovy fillets, and right before serving I added pitted black olives. Served with fresh Reggiano Parmesan cheese and the Rosemary Walnut bread I made in class, it was a satisfying dinner and allowed me to get on with my homework.  
The second was an elegant pasta of cream, oven dried tomatoes, mushrooms and fresh basil. Silky and flavorful, my son gave it the ultimate compliment "Tastes just like a restaurant, Mom!"
So if you find yourself with time on your hands.....just remember the clock is get on with it!
Pasta with Meat Sauce Puttanesca Style
Down load Recipe PDF

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 can, 28 ounces, diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped pitted black or green olives
Handful parsley, chopped
Pound pasta, cooked 

Heat olive oil in a saute pan, add ground beef breaking it up with a fork. 
When the beef begins to lose it's raw look, add the garlic, red pepper flakes and salt. Saute, add the white wine and allow to boil for a minute.
Stir in the anchovy, allow to cook for a minute or two and then add the tomatoes.
Allow the sauce to simmer while you prepare the pasta. 
Just before draining the pasta, remove 1 tablespoon of pasta water from the pot and add to the sauce. Stir in the olives and serve.
Serves 4 hungry people.
Creamy Oven Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed in a garlic press. Just express the juice into the pan.
10 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
 1 cup oven dried tomatoes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream 
 sea salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in the pan, add the mushrooms and saute until they release their liquid. Add the garlic and saute several minutes. Add the wine and reduce by half.
Stir in the cream and reduce slightly. If it gets too thick add a little pasta cooking liquid. 
Right before serving, add the basil chiffonade

I served this over fresh chicken and mozzarella ravioli.

Serves 4 hungry people.

  All text and photos are property of The Gypsy Chef