Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pasta and Mahjong

Our evening was suppose to consist of friends, grilling, lake, dogs and listening to the band, Second Opinion at The Cove.  But here in East Tennessee we have had RAIN!!!  So in the early afternoon, we received a text from the drummer, friends of ours, and said that the concert had been canceled.  Bummer, but we had expected it since the forecast did not look good as the day progressed.   I did have a back up plan.  I phoned Carleen and said, "why don't you and Daniel just come here for dinner and Mahjong."  They said yes.   So I began preparing for our evening.   I cut some of my hydrangeas that just keeps on giving to place on the table which we ended up moving because they were so tall, I know better than to do that. Thats what happens when you get in a hurry.  Anyway, they looked better on the buffet.   

Carleen and Daniel arrived right on time.  We took our cocktails and made out way to the porch. We soon began enjoying the appetizers, Zucchini Pizza Bites.  These were so good and not as filling as a pizza would be.  I felt as though I was being a little healthy. While I began last minute preparations on the dinner, Stone began explaining the game of Mahjong.  Neither Carleen or Daniel had ever played.

Zucchini Pizza Bites

2 large zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
nonstick cooking spray
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
1/4 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
1/4 cup mini pepperoni pieces
italian seasoning, for sprinkling

Spray both sides of zucchini rounds lightly with nonstick cooking spray.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and cracked pepper.  Broil or grill the zucchini rounds for about 2 minutes on each side.  I broiled.
Place cooked zucchini rounds on a large lined baking sheet.  Top with small amounts of sauce, cheese and pepperoni pieces.  Broil for an additional 1-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted, careful not to burn. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and serve warm.

I plated the food as Carleen carried the salads to the table.   As Stone poured the wine, Carleen, Daniel, and I gathered around the table toasting to a great evening.   With my stomach growling, I quickly dove in, using bread to absorb all the remaining sauce and cleaning my plate.   The Prosciutto N' Melon salad was the perfect accompaniment, cool and refreshing.  Recipe from:

Candy-Wrapped Tortelli

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
1 (28 ounce ) can whole plum tomatoes, crushed and undrained
2 Tablespoons minced fresh basil
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

3 ounces baby spinach leaves, rinsed
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon extra0virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
2 Tablespoons minced yellow onion
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
6 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 " pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon dry white wine
2 Tablespoon fat-free milk
Dash of ground nutmeg

8.5 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon semolina
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of ground nutmeg
3 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)

1. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil and 3 garlic cloves in a saucepan over medium-low heat; cook 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes; bring to a boil.  Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes.  Add basil, oregano, and red pepper.
2. Place spinach in a microwave-safe bowl; cover loosely.  Microwave at HIGH for 2 minutes or until wilted.  Place spinach in a colander; press until barely moist.  Finely chop.   Combine spinach, 2 yolks, and 1 ounce cheese.
3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil and butter in a skillet over medium-low heat.  Add onion and 1 garlic; cook 2 minutes.  Add chicken. Cover; cook 6 minutes.  Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper.  Add wine; cook 2 minutes over medium-high heat.  Cool slightly.  Place in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until finely ground.  Add chicken mixture, milk, and dash of nutmeg to spinach mixture.  Chill.
4.  Combine flour, semolina, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and dash of nutmeg.  Arrange mixture in a wide mound with a large well int he center on a work surface.  Pour in eggs, keeping within the wall.  With a fork, gently begin to whisk flour from the inside wall of the well into the eggs.  Continue to whisk gently until mixture is batter-like.  When mixture is thick, knead until a rough ball forms.  Knead until dough is firm and no longer sticky (about 8 minutes).  Form the dough into a ball, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
5. Unwrap dough.  Divide into 4 equal portions.  Working with 1 portion, pass dough through pasta machine on widest setting (cover remaining dough).  Continue moving width gauge to narrower setting; pass dough through rollers once at each setting.  Cut into 12 (4X3 inch) rectangles.  Arrange on a surface well dusted with semolina.  Spoon about 1 teaspoon filling in center of each rectangle.  Brush long edges of pasta with water.  Bring long sides over filling; press to seal.  Press short sides to seal filling, and twist in opposite directions (as off twisting a candy wrapper).  Place filled pasta on a baking sheet well dusted with semolina.  Repeat procedure with remaining dough and filling.
6. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Add half of tortelli; cook 7 minutes or until just tender.  Remove with a slotted spoon.  Repeat procedure with remaining tortilla.  Arrange 6 tortilla in each of 8 shallow bowls; top each serving with 1/3 cup sauce and 1 Tablespoon cheese.  Recipe from:

Prosciutto N' Melon
1 Cantaloupe
Balsamic glaze

Peel and cut the cantaloupe into slices.  Wrap a slice of prosciutto around the slice of cantaloupe.  Serve with balsamic glaze.

For dessert, I had made a Triple Berry Pie, which was a first for me. It consisted of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.  If you're a berry lover, this is the pie for you.  I served it with homemade vanilla ice-cream.  The dessert lover that I am was in heaven.  As I write this post, Stone is polishing off the one remaining slice we had left over.  It is all I can do to not go grab a bite!  

Triple Berry Pie

1 (16 ounce bag) frozen Triple Berry Medley, no need to thaw.
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup tapioca flour
2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 recipe for double crust pie crust

In a large bowl place Triple Berry Medley, sugar, tapioca flour, and lemon juice.  Mix well and let stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, while you are working on the pie crust.
Roll out bottom crust for pie and place in a 9" pie plate.  Dust bottom of crust with a little sugar.  This will keep the crust from getting soggy.  Next, scoop in the berry mixture.  Roll out remaining dough and cut into lattice.  Place on pie.  Brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar.   Bake 425' for 20 minutes on lowest rack in your oven.  Then turn down the temperature to 400' and continue baking about 25 minutes until golden brown.  You may want to put foil on the bottom of your oven as it tends to bubble over.  Let sit a few hours to firm up.  Serve with vanilla ice-cream. YUM!!!

The sun had set by now.   We ended up having no rain at all.  The moon was out, but it was hazy.  We set up the Mahjong game and went over a few more rules.  It's really easier to learn as you go.  We played a few rounds, but didn't want to overwhelm them on the first time playing.  They seem to pick up the game fairly quickly.  It was time to call it a night as we where all yawning.  We walked them to their car, hugs and kisses were given and they were off on their short drive home.   

Y'all come back now ya hear,