Thursday, June 26, 2008

Chef Lapin Gothique #1: Pasta Dinner

Chef Lapin GothiqueThis is a semi-homemade dinner when you want to cook but are just too tired. It's also 100% vegetarian. It's comprised of a blue cheese and candied walnut salad, baked asparagus with a balsamic vinaigrette, buttered bread, and spaghetti.
Dinner plate with salad, asparagus, dinner roll, and spaghettiBlue Cheese and Walnut Salad
This is a sweet salad that gets all its flavoring from the blue cheese, fruit, and candied walnuts so you'll want a strong blue cheese. You might also want to temper the sweetness with a little red wine vinegar. Just mix some with the olive oil.
serves 2-4 (4, if everyone gets a handful, 2 if each person gets a plate)
blue cheese (if you have extra, eat it on bread. :)
3/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup of dried cranberries
1/2 cup of fresh cherries (halved and pitted)
standard bag of mixed green salad
1 tbsp olive oil
1. First candy the walnuts. Preheat the oven to 350F, spread those walnuts in the baking sheet, and put it in the oven. Depending on how strong your oven is, you might need a minute or two more. They should darken slightly and crunch when you try one. Take them out and put them in a bowl when you're done. Do not turn off the oven, you'll need it for the asparagus.
2. While your walnuts are toasting, melt the sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally and break up lumps. DO NOT BURN THE SUGAR.
3. When the sugar has melted (it should be a nice golden color), add the walnuts, stir to coat, and return to baking sheet. Break those babies up with two forks or you'll have a sheet of walnut glass. Cool completely on tray.
Note: Candied walnuts are also good with ice cream!
4. Rinse salad in a colander and shake to remove water. Put in mixing bowl.
5. Add cranberries, cherries, walnuts, and drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil. Mix.
6. Using a fork break up the blue cheese over the salad and serve.
Baked Asparagus with Sauce
I like this sauce because it can be both really rich and also sort of healthy.
serves 2-4 (once again, depending on how much you take)
1 standard bunch of asparagus, approx 1 pound
3 tbsp of butter (if it's butter day, you can use half a stick or you can omit this all together)
balsamic vinegar
soy sauce

1. Wash and trim asparagus. Lightly coat a baking tray with cooking spray or use a tsp of olive oil and rub it all over. Spread asparagus on the tray. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350F.
2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Once melted add a tbsp of balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. Let your taste buds do the rest. I like it on the sour side so I add more vinegar. If you like it sweet, add more soy sauce. You don't need salt because soy sauce is really high in sodium. The butter gives it a nice creaminess, but the main stars are the vinegar and soy sauce. If you want to save on calories, just omit the butter and mix the other ingredients in a small bowl. Add pepper to taste.
3. Sprinkle cooked asparagus with salt and pour on the sauce. You can eat it right out of the baking pan or cut the asparagus horizontally and serve on a plate with the sauce on the side. That's extra dishes, though.
This spaghetti is from a jar, but I've added my own ingredients to make it taste better. You can actually heat up the sauce and pour it over spaghetti and eat it just like that, if you want. serves 4.
4 tomatoes (doesn't matter which kind)
1 package of mushrooms (sliced)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
1 package of spaghetti (linguine)
Parmesan cheese
1. Boil water in a large pan. You don't need a lot of water, maybe just 2-3 inches. When water is boiling, throw in the tomatoes for 30 seconds to 1 minute. You just want the skins to burst so you can peel it easily.
2. Spoon the tomatoes and run them over cold water. The skins should have split so you can peel them. If they don't, just cut them in half and the skins will rip. Peel off the skins, cut them in half, remove the seeds, and then dice them. They don't have to be very small, between the size of a nickel and a dime.
3. Brown garlic in some olive oil over medium heat. About 1 minute.
4. Dump in the mushroom and sprinkle with salt. Cook until limp. 5 minutes.
5. Add dice tomatoes and cook until they've broken down to the desired amount. At least 15-20 minutes.
6. Dump in the jar of tomato sauce.
7. Cook pasta according to directions on package. It's probably around 10-12 minutes after the water has begun boiling.
8. When the pasta is done, the sauce should have heated through. Add salt or pepper to taste. You can also add Italian seasoning, if you have it or want it, but usually the sauce is flavored enough.
9. Serve pasta with spaghetti sauce with Parmesan cheese.

And that's it. You've done it. A fancy dinner in under an hour. If you cheated on the sauce and just bought a fancy kind with mushrooms or mixed a can of diced tomatoes with a jar of spaghetti sauce, you might even make a 30 minute meal.

The Goth Bunny
The Goth Bunny and his Dinner

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