Midday Fix: A perfect Italian menu for an at home dinner date night

Midday News

Carol Mackey

http://www.carolthatcooks.com

Recipes:

Peach Salad Panzanella

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes (halved)

2 ripe peaches; cut each into 8 slices (or use pears if you cannot find peaches)

½ cup mozzarella balls (bocconcini)

red onion, sliced thin, about 2 slices

1 bunch of basil; chopped (about ¼ cup)

4 slices prosciutto; torn

1 ½ cups Italian bread, cut into 1- inch cubes, tossed with olive oil and bake at 350 for about 7 minutes or until toasted.

Gently toss the above ingredients with the vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette:

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

½ Tbls. Dijon

1 Tbls. honey

salt and pepper

Whisk together ingredients and pour into salad ingredients, mix well.

Creamy Polenta with Mushrooms

Polenta Soft Polenta-Traditional Method

5 cups chicken stock

1 cup polenta

3 Tbls. butter

Pepper to taste

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

In a heavy pot bring 3 cups chicken to a boil, pour polenta in slowly and stirring continuously to prevent the formation of lumps.  Continue to stir and lower the heat so the polenta simmers rather that boils.  When the polenta begins to thicken, replace the whisk with a wooden spoon.  Add additional stock (which should be hot) as polenta thickens, break up any lumps with the back of your spoon.

When is it Done?

Continue to stir the polenta until it is thick and pulls away from the sides of the pot.  Taste the polenta to be sure the grains are tender: add more liquid as necessary.  It will take 15-30 minutes since certain types of corn meal simply do not become tender quickly.

During the last few minutes of cooking, stir in pepper, butter and then the cheese.  Remove from heat top with mushroom ragout and serve immediately.

Mushroom Ragout

2 cups of various mushrooms; cleaned with dry paper towel then sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. finely minced rosemary

2 Tbls. olive oil

2 Tbls. butter

Add butter and olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Sauté mushrooms for about 4-5 minutes until they begin to brown. Add garlic & rosemary and continue cooking another 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally until cooked. Season with salt and pepper and serve over polenta. Alternatively roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring once.

Puff Twists with Mascarpone

Mascarpone Cream:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream cold

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 container of mascarpone 8 oz, (room temperature)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 puff pastry sheet

Mixture of powdered sugar and cinnamon for garnish the top of pastry:

¼ cup powdered sugar

1 Tbls. cinnamon

In a medium bowl beat the cream to stiff peaks (very thick), add powdered sugar.

In a medium bowl beat (with same beaters) the mascarpone and vanilla until smooth and creamy.

Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture to combine. 

Let a frozen puff pastry sheet thaw in the fridge before using it.

Cut puff pastry into strips of 1/2 inch in width each, you will only need one strip per serving.

Twist the strip around any stainless tool round kitchen tool (I used the handle of a whisk).

Bake on vegetable oiled stainless tool at 400 degrees 8-10 minutes, until golden.

Let puff pastry cool down and gentle slide off tool.

Using a pastry bag (I used a Wilton #1A tip), stuff the puff pastry twists with mascarpone mixture and sprinkle with powdered sugar/cinnamon just before serving.  Serve with fruit on the side if desired.  Suggested servings 1-2 puff pastry twists.  This recipe will make about a dozen (can freeze) and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar once defrosted.

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