Monday, March 7, 2011

Portobello Mushroom Ravioli with Homemade Pesto (and snow pudding for dessert)

I was looking forward to last night's dinner all weekend. I absolutely LOVE hosting dinner guests and planning the meal. Normally I'll have people bring something, but this time I was in the mood to plan the whole menu myself (I did end up having someone bring bread because I realized I didn't have enough).

Tip #1, when you're hosting dinner guests and doing it all yourself, it takes a LOT of pressure off to have one of the dishes mostly pre-made whether it's dessert, a side or the main dish. In my case, it was the main dish. I bought portobello mushroom ravioli from Costco (SO good). However, I did make the pesto myself. Pesto is really easy. I made a ton last fall when I decided to just harvest all my basil once and for all. Fortunately, pesto freezes really well, and it's versatile. Here is the recipe I used:

Spinach Basil Pesto

1 cup spinach
1 cup basil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
3 garlic cloves
1 T lemon zest
1 T lemon juice
1/2 cup pine nuts

There is no trick or method to this. Just throw it all in a food processor or blender. I actually ended up throwing some hazelnuts in there too because I needed to use them. So I saved the rest of the pine nuts to toss in a green salad.

The spinach doesn't really add flavor because it's so mild. But it makes the pesto a brighter, pretty green color you wouldn't get from using basil alone. Sorry I didn't get a picture of the finished product. I was really lazy with pics and just used the camera on my phone.

So I made the pesto the night before. I also made dessert the night before.

I actually made a dessert that wasn't chocolate. I know! It's hard to believe, but chocolate is pretty rich and because the main dish was so rich and heavy, I wanted something light, airy and...lemony. I decided on snow pudding.

Oh this dessert. It's so good. After everyone had one serving I just brought out the rest and let people gobble it all up. OK, not ALL of it. I actually just finished it off an hour ago. It's SO good. I actually have a lot of custard left and I might just put custard on everything for the next few days. I'm thinking of making blueberry muffins tonight. I bet custard would be good on those...

Sorry, before I make plans for other recipes let me give you the snow pudding recipe. This was definitely the most time consuming thing I could have made, but obviously, it was worth it.

Snow Pudding:

1 T unflavored gelatin
3 T cold water
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
3 egg whites, stiffly beaten (save the yolks for the custard)

Dissolve one packet of unflavored gelatin (I used Knox) in the cold water. After ten minutes, it should gel a bit. Dissolve that into 1 cup of boiling water. Add lemon juice and sugar. Put in fridge and let cool in the fridge for a few hours (wait until it's a jelly consistency).

Take the gelatin mixture out of the fridge and whisk until it's good and frothy. Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites and then whisk that on high until it's well combined. Chill for a couple hours.

You might want to make the custard while the gelatin mixture is gelling:

5 T sugar
1/2 t salt
3 egg yolks
2 cups scaled milk
1/2 t vanilla

Put the milk over medium heat until JUST before it boils. Don't burn it. While that's heating up mix the egg yolks with the sugar and salt (I've said it before and I'll say it again: never skip or skimp on the salt in a dessert recipe. It enhances the flavor and adds a nice contrast to the sugar). When the milk is good and scalded, whisk in the egg yolk mixture.

And then you sit and stir on low heat for what seems like the rest of your life. It should eventually thicken. You don't want the eggs to curdle so you need to keep the heat low. Mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. It won't be a pudding consistency, it will be a sauce consistency.

Stick it in the fridge.

You can store it in the fridge for a day or two. The frothy lemony, gelatin mixture will stiffen and hold it's shape so you can scoop it into bowls. Drizzle custard over the snow pudding and serve!

Anyone remember Jell-O 1-2-3? Remember the frothy top layer? That's what the "snow" part of the pudding basically is. But OH so much classier.

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