Sunday, August 22, 2010

Royal Birthday Dinner: Part Two

Here is the conclusion to my birthday dinner. It is true what they say, not to try new things when having a party...It makes things stressful! Oh well, Meg and I like to cook together, so it was part of the fun!

I spent a few hours the day before making homemade Gnocchi (potato pasta). It looked perfect to me!

One of 3 plates of homemade Gnocchi.
Disaster hit when I went to cook these babies and they fell apart into a pile of potato mush!! Megan and I made it work by substituting the gnocchi with bow tie pasta. It was still yummy! I think I will buy pre-made Gnocchi next time I make this dish.

Gnocchi (or Pasta) with Wild Mushroom Ragu
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion diced
2 carrots diced
1 stalk celery diced (I forgot this, it was fine without it)
1 pound wild mushrooms, stemmed and quarted (I used shitake and oyster mushrooms)
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced (Baby portabellas)
2 Tb tomato paste
1 cup white wine
1 cup canned whole San-Marzano tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground fennel seeds (I couldn't find ground ones, so I bought them whole and chopped them)
pinch or red pepper flakes
1/2 Tb dried thyme
1 1/2 pounds of Gnocchi or 1 pound pasta
Mascarpone cheese for topping
Cook carrots, onion and celery in 3 Tb of olive oil in large pot until soft.
Add wild mushrooms and cook until golden. Season with salt and pepper then add the rest of the olive oil and add cremini mushrooms and cook for 1 min.
Add tomato paste and cook stirring for 2 mins. 
Add wine and cook for 2 more minutes, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add tomatoes, 2 cups of water, and all the seasonings. .Cover with a lid and simmer for 30 mins. (this is where I started freaking out because I hadn't planned this dish to take 30 more mins and the boys were hungry! Good thing I had the yummy appetizers to keep them satisfied. Plus the 30 mins came in handy when we realized that the gnocchi was bad and we needed to cook pasta to save this meal....
Remove the bay leaves and stir in pasta or cooked gnocchi. 
In the end this dish was worth all the pain and effort, it turned out to have so much flavor! Shitake mushrooms are my new favorite thing!

Bananas Foster is one of my all-time favorite desserts! When my cake fell apart the day before, I decided to make this dish that was on my list of "desserts to try." The cool thing about this Bananas Foster is that it doesn't require banana liquor and rum like most Bananas Foster recipes. I hate to buy a whole bottle of expensive liquor for only 1 dessert! I didn't miss the alcohol and it was really easy!

Bananas Foster Ice-Cream Pastry
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 (one sheet)  package frozen puff pastry dough thawed
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tb orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 bananas sliced into 1/3 inch slices
vanilla ice cream

Bake pecans in oven for 8-10 mins on 350. (I cooked the pecans, then forgot to use them in the dessert..)
Using a rolling pin, roll out pastry into a 10--12 inch square. 
Use a circle top about 5 inches in diameter to cut 4 circles out of the dough. I used the top to my coffee container. (sorry I didn't get a picture of each step)
Cook pastry circles for 10-15 minutes on 400.

In a skillet, melt butter and brown sugar. Stir until dissolves.
I don't know what happened to this photo, but it wouldn't let me upload it correctly... Stir in orange juice, vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Whisk constantly for 2 mins until mixture is blended and smooth. Then stir in bananas and cook 1 min. 
These are my cute ice cream bowls from my sis-in-law Katy and cuz-in-law Melissa! Thank you girls! So glad I opened presents before dinner so I could use them for the dessert.
Place pastry in the bottom of each bowl. Spoon some banana mixture on the pastry, then scoops of ice cream, then more banana and top with pecans.

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