Sunday May 17th marks the one year wedding anniversary for my husband and me. Below are the recipes for the exact dinner that I will be cooking for him this weekend. Just remember, the best part about cooking (besides eating your delicious creations) is the time you take out of your hectic lives to have fun and enjoy what you are making.* All of the following recipes can be found on Rachel Ray’s website.
Step 1: Beverage
- 1/4 cup orange flavored liqueur (such as Triple Sec or Grand Marnier)
- 1/4 cup almond liqueur (such as Amaretto)
- 12 strawberries, sliced
- 1 pint raspberries
- 1 bottle Spanish sparkling wine (such as Frexinet Cordon Negro)
- 4 seedless grapes
Combine liqueurs and fruit in the bottom of a medium pitcher and lightly muddle. Fill pitcher with sparkling wine. Place a single grape in the bottom of each glass. The yeast on the grape skin will help retain some fizz in your drink. Spoon a bit of muddled berry from the pitcher into each Champagne glass then pour in the liquid. Serve immediately. Cheers!
Step 2: Main Course
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), once around the pan in a slow stream
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1 cup vodka
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)
- Coarse salt and pepper
- 16 ounces pasta, such as penne rigate
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn
- Crusty bread, for passing
Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the EVOO, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently sauté the shallots for 3-5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add the vodka to the pan – three turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup. Reduce the vodka by half, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and the tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). While the pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes.
Stir the cream into the sauce. When the sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from the heat. Drain the pasta. Toss the hot pasta with the sauce and the basil leaves. Pass the pasta with crusty bread.
Step 3: Dessert
- 12 extra-large strawberries (the bigger the better!)
- 1-2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- Whipped cream, from a canister
- Cocoa powder, for garnish
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
Slice the tops of the berries off just below the stem. Cut the tips off (about 1/4-inch), so that the berries will sit upright. Next, use a small spoon or a melon baller to hollow out the strawberries, working from their tops, in order to create a cavity in each one. Stuff some chocolate into the cavity of each strawberry and place them upright in a baking dish. Lightly sprinkle the berries with sugar, if desired.
Roast the berries until soft and the chocolate is melted, about 10-12 minutes.
To serve, place three strawberries on a dessert plate in a triangle. If the berries have given off liquid in the baking dish, spoon it over them. Spray a small mound of cream in the center of the berries, and top each berry with a rosette of cream. Sift a little cocoa powder over the plate and enjoy!