Well, another birthday has come and gone. No, not mine! We celebrated my dad's birthday this past weekend, and since he's not always keen on going out to eat, I cooked for him instead.
Started off the day with brunch. My dad actually likes waffles. He's often requesting that I make them, although I don't make them often because my mom and I usually prefer pancakes, plus the thought of cleaning the waffle iron afterwards is a major turn-off for me. Alas, I gave in this time around since it was his birthday. I was lucky enough to pick up some really nice, fresh berries the day before, so I served those with the buttermilk waffles I made, along with some fresh whipped cream that I had lying around in the fridge. Add some bacon and some sauteed potatoes and you have a classic brunch meal!
Recently on our trip out west, my aunt and uncle gave us a new toy to play with in the kitchen: an Emile-Henry tagine! We've never actually made anything Moroccan before at home, so we were excited to try out this new gift. I decided to make a classic tagine dish, Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons and Olives. The dish turned out nice enough, although I would definitely tweak the recipe I used next time, or just find another recipe all together. The amount of water they called for was really...unnecessary! Oh well...it still tasted good, even though I should also have been more patient when browning the chicken. That way, I wouldn't end up with such pale looking chicken!
Served the chicken with a side of Couscous with Dried Fruit & Almonds. Absolutely delicious! The cumin and the cinnamon really comes through without overpowering the whole dish. The fruits add a nice sweetness and tartness to the dish, while the almonds add a nice, crunchy texture. It was definitely a pleasant sidedish, and we had plenty left. It's absolutely delicious cold too!
Dad's birthday cake was pretty simple, since he requested something simple. We still had plenty of mangoes left, so I made a simple Mango Cream Layer Cake, but with a twist. I added a 1/2 tsp of coconut extract into the cake batter to give it a hint of coconut, and then sprinkled toasted shredded coconut on the side of the cake. The coconut definitely added a really nice touch to the cake...gave it a more tropical look and flavour. Sadly, I'm still looking for the "perfect" sponge cake recipe. My sponge cake almost turned out nicely...but then in the end, I think I accidentally overbeat it when folding in the flour. Argh! Thus, the bottom of my cake ended up tough, hard and dry. Sigh.....
Sunday, I ended up making something simple and quick after having slaved away all day in the kitchen Saturday. We had picked up a bag of Lobster and Ricotta Ravioli the other day, so I simply made a tomato cream sauce to go with it. The pasta was absolutely delicious, and the sweet, creamy sauce complimented the delicate pasta perfectly without overpowering the filling inside. Mmmm...
Bonita's Tomato Cream Sauce
- 5 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large shallots, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup Vodka plus 1-2 tbsp Brandy
- 1/2 cup cream
- Half a lemon
- Olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground peper, to taste
- Fresh Italian parsley and basil, julienned
- Peel, seed and dice tomatoes. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat some olive oil. Sauté the shallots until softened and translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Toss in garlic and sauté until garlic is starting to turn golden, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Take saucepan off heat. Add in the vodka and brandy. Return to heat. Let the liquid boil down until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
- Add in the diced tomatoes. Season tomatoes with salt and freshly ground pepper. Let simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered.
- Stir in the cream. Let the sauce thicken a bit, about 5 minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon.
- Add in 1 lb of your favourite pasta, cooked al dente. Toss so that pasta is well combined. Serve, sprinkled with the parsley and basil.