Thursday, August 19, 2010

Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood

Tonight I had no idea what to make, but I had alot of produce that I needed to use up.  So, in our family's Italian way, I decided to just make a pasta dish with whatever kept coming to mind.  Here's what I ended up with:

Here's the recipe and the instructions of how to put it all together:
1/2 lb. of small pasta
1 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup white wine
1 garlic - pressed
1/2 large white onion
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
1 15.5 oz can cannellini beans
1 lb. fresh asparagus spears
5 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves
2 fresh tomatoes
1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves left whole
1/2 cup pasta water
Salt & pepper to taste
Pamesan cheese to garnish

 I started first by boiling the pasta water and then cooking the pasta.   In my very large skillet, I boiled one cup of vegetable broth and I added about 1/3 cup of white wine.  I pressed one garlic clove and sliced up half of a large white onion and put it in the broth/wine mixture.  Once most of the liquid was evaporated and the onions were tender, I added 1-2 tbsp. of  olive oil.  To that I added one can of cannellini beans, my cut up asparagus, and a big bunch of baby spinach leaves.  Once the spinach was wilted and the asparagus was steamed and bright green, I added 2 tomatoes cut into large chunks and about 1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves that were fresh from our garden.  When the tomatoes were heated through, I added about 1/2 cup of my pasta water and the pasta and it was done!  Add salt and pepper to taste and you have a very low-fat, delicious meal.  Add some parmesan cheese to garnish.  All participants of my dinner were very approving, so I would say it was a last minute success! 

Then to end our delightful meal, I made Martha's Raspberry Sorbet with fresh whipped cream.  There's nothing like it and it was so light and delicious! There's nothing like fresh whipped cream too. You'll love it! 

This entire meal was completely last minute just to prove you can eat well in a short amount of time with no planning involved - only once in a while does this actually work! 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Summer Fruit Tart

My Aunt came over today to see me, the girls and my Mom before she leaves for France for the month.  Lucky Duck!  I wanted to make something special, so I made a fruit tart for brunch and served it with tea.  It was very good, but as with anything, it wasn't completely perfect.  However, I remember Julia Child said that even if something doesn't work exactly right, do not apologize.  So, here's my fruit tart saga that started out great, went a bit nuts, but then worked out in the end!

I used the almond tart shell recipe from Woman's Day.  I wanted something I didn't have to refrigerate, put weights on, or take a ton of time to make.  This recipe was really easy, but I will warn you (as with any tart crust) it is very fragile!  Just follow the recipe until you're done making the tart shell.  Then cool it in the pan on a wire rack.  From there, this is where I fell into some trouble.  I took it out of the tart pan and it was working and looking perfect.  I then went to place it into a tart serving dish that I was given for my wedding 11 years ago and have never used.  It turned out that the tart shell was bigger than the dish and when I placed it in the dish, it just crumbled apart. Every time I touched it, it got worse!  The remedy would be to just place it on a plate next time.  Live and learn!  Seeing as this was 11pm last night, I was not going to make another one.  Besides, it was just going to crumble when we cut it anyway.  And, thankfully my guests are very understanding, forgiving, and thankful for everything.  I knew I was in good hands!

This morning, I put some apricot preserves in a small saucepan with a little bit of water to thin and heated it over med-high heat.  Then I brushed the crust with the preserves so that the fruit wouldn't seep through and make it soggy.  I put a layer of lemon curd on the bottom and then proceeded to layer my fruit.  I used thin sliced peaches, kiwi, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.  I finished it off by brushing a coat of the apricot preserves over the top of the fruit layer.  This gave it a glossy finish and it looked beautiful.  Surprisingly, it cut very nicely and each piece came out well.  I think between the preserves and the lemon curd it acted as a glue for the crust. Over all it was a success!

And for good measure, I'll throw in a picture of my cuties!