Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cooking Challenge - Week Four

This past Wednesday was Week Four of my Cooking Challenge. I decided that a Tapas menu was too much of an undertaking for me – for now.

Carlos and I were in Lafayette a couple of years back for some festival. During our trip, I bought a cookbook called Cajun Men Cook: Recipes, Stories & Food Experiences from Louisiana Cajun Country - and had it signed by six member of the Beaver Club of Lafayette, the authors of the book.

Again this week, page 67 had an appetizer, whereas I was looking for a main dish. Page 167 yielded Beef Stroganoff. I’ve been meaning to cook that for years. After a bit of research, I found a version of the recipe by Paula Deen that I liked a bit better.

The same crew from last week came this week, bringing wine and watermelon for dessert. We’re really getting to know each other after four weeks of this. (Or maybe that’s re-know since most of these people are family.)

Carlos brought the salad – and describes it in detail on his blog.

Week Five is Italian (like Week Three), but this time from Rocco Dispirito’s cookbook Rocco’s Italian American: More Than 150 Recipes from Rocco and Mama. Page 67 has a picture of Rocco at a dinner table; page 167 a recipe for “Veal Parmigiana”. I’m not ready for veal yet, so I am cheating a bit: I found a wonderful recipe for “Farfalle [bow tie pasta] with Grilled Sausage, Fennel, and Baby Artichokes” that I will use as a base and adapt a bit, adding three different colored bell peppers and sun dried tomatoes. I’ll post my recipe next week.

As our appetizer, I found a recipe for “Oven-Roasted Tomatoes Stuffed with Goat Cheese” from the August 2009 issue of Food & Wine magazine. Here’s a link to the recipe on the Food & Wine magazine web site.

I used to subscribe to Bon Appetite magazine, but since I started watching the TV show Top Chef, with one of the judges the editor of the former magazine, I let my subscription lapse to Bon Appetite. I was thinking about getting both magazines, but that just seems a little obsessive.

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes Stuffed with Goat Cheese
12 servings

12 medium tomatoes
1 2/3 pounds fresh goat cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 Preheat the oven to 425°. Slice off the top 1/2 inch of each tomato and reserve the tops. Scoop out the tomato cores and seeds. Cut a very thin sliver off of the bottom of each tomato to help them stand up straight. Arrange the tomatoes in a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.

2. In a bowl, combine the goat cheese with the egg, garlic, basil, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Spoon the goat cheese mixture into the tomatoes, mounding the filling 1/2 inch above the rim. Cover with the tomato tops and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

3. Bake the tomatoes for 35 minutes, until tender and browned in spots and the cheese is hot. Let stand for 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The meal will be a bit calmer. The crowd from the first four weeks is “rotating out” and my parents are joining Carlos and me for dinner.

We’re doing a batch of the appetizer tonight to test out the recipe. Carlos just called. He found a basil plant. We’re going to use it for tonight – and start growing our own basil for future meals. I was going to use dried basil (at least for tonight’s test run). Carlos was appalled and went off to the store to find fresh. I really have him sucked into this Cooking Challenge.

After this meal, I am going to take a couple of weeks off, and then invite over some friends for dinner.

Bon Appétit!


jason said...

Ah..I could have given you some fresh basil. It's growing too fast for me to even use it.

Marshall said...

When we invite you for dinner, I'll be sure to have a dish that includes basil.