I love any excuse to try a new recipe, make something a little fancy or different, or just prepare an extensive feast for the one I love. Valentine’s day is the perfect day for such things. Everyone else is filling up the restaurants and we’re at home listening to our favorite music sharing an excellent, homemade meal.
This book, The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces started it all. It’s the BF’s book and I found it last year stuck high on a shelf. It was like finding buried treasure. Last night’s recipe involved cream, Gruyère cheese and asparagus. Since I, of course, forgot to bring the book with me today, I’ll do my best to remember the recipe:
First, steam about 1 lb of asparagus for 5-8 minutes, until tender. Then immediately put it in a bowl of cold water to shock it. Drain it and chop into 1 inch pieces. Leave it there for a while.
Melt 1 stick, yes, 1 stick (ok ok, I used a partial stick…about 5 tbsp) of butter in a pan over medium heat. The recipe says to add 1 piece of old bread cut into large bread crumbs. I added 1/2 cup of store-bought bread crumbs. Cook the bread crumbs for a few minutes. Think of this as a bread-crumb roux. Now add 1 cup of heavy cream (or half-and-half) and a splash of chicken stock. I could have used 2 splashes. This will start to thicken fast! Add the asparagus, some salt and pepper to taste.
In the meantime, cook 1 lb of your favorite pasta. The recipe called for wide ribbon pasta which I could not find in our store. I substituted the BF’s favorite, rigatoni, and it worked just fine. Once the pasta is done, add it to the cream sauce. Add 1/2 cup of grated Gruyère cheese and stir until the cheese melts. Serve with parmesan and, if you like, some red pepper flakes.
Before I started work on the pasta dish, I made the white chocolate pudding and the salad. Some thoughts about the pudding: It was super simple to make (15 min of stirring aside). I thought it was too sweet and that I cooked it too long. The BF made comments like “This is awesome,” and “That was so good.”
Basically you get 10 oz of white chocolate (I think 6-8 would be fine) and finely chop it. Put it in a large bowl off to the side. Mix 1/2 cup of milk and 2 tbsp + 1 tsp of cornstarch in a small bowl. On the stove heat a heavy sauce pan with 1 1/2 cups milk. When it begins to simmer, add the milk/cornstarch mixture. Stir. Now, the recipe says to stir until it thickens, about 15 minutes. I think (THINK) 10-12 would have been fine. In the end it was not so much creamy as almost chewy. Ok, so after you’ve stirred forever, pour the pudding over the white chocolate. Let it set for 5 minutes. Add 1 tsp vanilla. Stir until smooth. Put into 3-4 custard cups or small wine glasses and refrigerate.
When you’re ready to serve it, top it with fresh berries if you like.
Clearly my camera settings were off since so many of these are blurry, but here’s one last shot for you. Our salad was a mix of baby spinach and random greens, topped with grape tomatoes, sunburst tomatoes and fresh mozarella. Now I need to find another recipe that uses grape tomatoes, sunburst tomatoes, and fresh mozarella…caprese salad anyone?