January's SAS Dinner: Mangia Veggie-talian!
That said, this month's dinner was mostly in honor of the vegetarian, with a nod to the side to my meat-eating friends. I try to make the dinners fit the Daring Bakers dessert I'm serving that month. Last month, I made a big French dinner to go with my French yule log. This month, I went Italian. Not traditional, old-school Italian, mind you--but there was red sauce, rustic bread, and panna cotta, plus a apricot cream (it was like a fluffy mousse) from The Silver Spoon cookbook, which is one of the Bibles of Italian cooking. This month's DB challenge was tuile cookies. Although tuiles are traditionally French, being named after roof tiles used in France (in short), the dessert's meat and potatoes were Italian. I also tried to showcase a lot of vegetables, even replacing the no-brainer pasta with a big spaghetti squash.
Sesame Green Beans and Carrots. It's a simple preparation--cut the carrots and beans to the same length, cook the carrots a bit before adding the green beans, then add salt and sesame seeds.
Sausage in Marinade. Making vegetarian red sauce is really easy, but ... something about that punch of porkiness just makes it so much better for me, so I did make some sausage on the side for those who wanted to add it to the spaghetti squash I baked.
Rustic No-Knead Bread. I finally broke down late last year and bought a Dutch oven. Granted, it was a sweet deal--$42 at Target! A lot of people have been buying them to try out Jim Lahey's no-knead bread and have worried about not buying big-name brands. I triple-wrapped the knob even though it's oven-proof up to 400 degrees, and it's thus far given me several awesome loaves of bread. I've done both the quick no-knead and the regular no-knead (as well as cassoulets and stews), so it's proved a worthy investment, especially for as little as I paid for it.
Panna Apricotta with Tuile. Mmmm. Although I know not everyone's a big fan of milk pudding (it's a texture thing for most, since "milk" and "gelatin" just doesn't gel--harhar.). I love it, though!
Soft Panna Cotta
1 tsp powdered or 2 sheets gelatin
Water to bloom sheets (3 T for powdered, about 1/2 C for sheets)
1/2 C milk
2 1/4 C heavy cream
1/2 C granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1. Bloom gelatin in water (either soak the sheets, or bloom the powder in about 3 T cold water)
2. Warm the milk just to a simmer, then remove it from the heat and stir in the gelatin (if using sheets, squeeze water out before adding to milk). Set aside.
3. While stirring, heat cream, sugar, and vanilla bean over low heat until it reaches a boil.
4. Then remove cream from heat, remove vanilla bean pod, and add milk and gelatin mixture.
5. Pour into mold (I used ramekins), cool, and allow to set in fridge for at least 4 hours.