Friday, March 14, 2008

friends, food and fun - what more can one ask for?

I had some friends over for dinner this evening. I tried out several new recipes that I found on other blogs and it was a delicious success. Since I’ve redone my kitchen/home it is now a pleasure cooking with a new gas stove. I promise to write and post pictures about my home remodel experience soon.

Because of my love for Italy when I do have friends over they expect to have Italian food. When I don’t serve Italian they seem a bit disappointed or at least surprised. First, let me say that I’m not a great cook whether it’s Italian or any other ethnic dish, but I do like to cook.

I try and plan a menu so some of it can be prepared ahead of time and what needs to be cooked fresh it won’t take long to prepare, especially during the week. When you work outside the home it’s all in the timing.

For this menu I had found a chicken dish at Jerry’s Thoughts, Musings, and Rants! and a to-die-for chocolate desert at Bleeding Espresso’s. Thank you for sharing your recipes, they were a success. Here’s the menu:

~Arugula salad
~Pasta w/pesto
~mini caprese kabobs
~Balsamic chicken with mushrooms
~Fresh bread and butter
~Chocolate and peperoncino mousse
~Ice tea and water

Arugula Salad – arugula/rucola/rocket lettuce lightly dressed with good olive oil, fresh lemon juice, fresh cracked pepper, kosher salt & shaved pecorino romano cheese – don’t skimp on the cheese!!

Pasta w/Pesto – I used Piccoli 3 pasta as I didn’t’ have enough Trofiette pasta which they say in the Cinque Terra region is the only pasta to serve with pesto. Pesto originated from that region. I had some homemade pesto in the freezer (did you know pesto freezes very well?) and used that. It was the standard pesto – basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, pecorino cheese, toasted pine nuts, salt, and olive oil. I’ve also used toasted walnuts instead of pine nuts and like that variation very much.

Mini Caprese Kabobs – I took cherry tomatoes, small mozzarella balls, and basil and stuck them on a toothpick. I really wanted to use longer wooden skewers but I haven’t unpacked those yet. Dang it! The toothpicks worked fine.

Balsamic chicken with mushrooms – Thank you Jerry @ Jerry’s Thoughts, Musings, and Rants! for sharing the recipe. The only change I made was I used cremini mushrooms instead of the button. It tasted great!!

Chocolate and Peperoncino Mousse – Thank you Michelle @ bleeding espresso for the recipe. The first batch I made I used the listed 2 tsp. of crushed red pepper. HOLY COW!!! I like spicy but this was off the chart. I guess I’m a wimp; I bow down to you Michelle. So, onto batch #2. I used only ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper and that was just enough to give it a little bite of spicy with the richness of chocolate. Oh, what did I do with batch #1 you ask? I could not throw out chocolate so I had some left over whipping cream and I whipped that up sweetened with a little powdered sugar and combined them together. It still is a little spicier then I’d prefer but its chocolate and it’s good. This is a very rich desert so ½ to ¾ cup a serving topped with sweetened whipped cream (powdered sugar & a little vanilla) and some shaved chocolate is sufficient.

Buon Appetito!

Let the games begin... After dinner we played Mexican Train, a game played with dominoes. We had a fun time, J came in 1st, I came in 2nd and B had the distinguished title of coming in last, I mean 3rd.

Thank you J&B for a lovely evening, we need to do this more often.

Table Centerpiece Suggestion: Clear vase with an inch of whole coffee beans and a vanilla candle in the middle. The scent of coffee and vanilla is scrumptious!


bleeding espresso said...

Ooh I'm so happy to hear that you tried the mousse! Yes, the amount of peperoncino definitely needs to be to taste...after all, not all crushed peperoncino is created equal either.

Glad you enjoyed Batch #2, and that you figured out a way to enjoy Batch #1 :)

Linda said...

Michelle - thanks again for the recipe and for visiting my blog - you're my first comment. :)