Sunday, January 6, 2013

Birthday Menu

Eggplant & Pasta Incaciata

Chocolate & Hazelnut Cake

Silk Sheets Cocktail

It's going to be Yan's birthday soon and I'm looking for a special birthday menu to celebrate his birthday. Lately he's been in a pasta kick and I figure to make this healthy and adventurous dish: Eggplant Incaciata! Also there's no celebration without an outstanding cake and this Hazelnut and Chocolate cake will cover his nutella cravings...and finally a tasty drink to wash away all this delicious food: Silk Sheets! Here are the recipes:

Eggplant & Pasta Incaciata:

Red Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • Two 28-ounce cans pomodori pelati tomatoes (whole peeled tomatoes), blended smooth 
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Large handful fresh basil leaves, torn, optional 
Eggplant & Pasta Incaciata:
  • Softened unsalted butter, for greasing pan
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano, plus more a
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 cloves garlic, cut into 3 chunks each
  • 1/2 cup red wine, preferably Chianti
  • 2 medium eggplant
  • 1 pound ziti pasta, cooked to al dente
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
  • Special equipment: One 9-inch springform pan at least 3 inches high
For the red sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and onions and saute until tender, 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes and some salt and black pepper and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir the basil leaves into the sauce at the end of simmering, if using.

For the eggplant and pasta incaciata: Grease the bottom and insides of the springform pan with softened butter. Mix 1/4 cup of the breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano cheese. Coat the inside of the pan well with the cheese mixture. Knock out any excess and discard.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the ground pork and sprinkle with salt and black pepper and saute until cooked through. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in the red wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add 4 cups of the red sauce and bring back to a simmer. Cook for another 5 minutes and season with salt and black pepper. Reserve the remaining red sauce for another use.

Meanwhile, slice the eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick planks. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and black pepper and fry in a single layer, working in batches, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, using 3 tablespoons of oil per batch. Remove from the oil and drain on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet.

Combine the cooked pasta with the mozzarella and ragu in a large bowl.

To assemble, line the bottom of the prepared springform pan with a single layer of eggplant, then line the sides with the eggplant planks vertically, allowing the excess to hang over the outside. Fill the inside of the lined pan with the pasta mixture, pressing down gently. Fold the flaps of eggplant over the top of the pasta, using any remaining eggplant slices to cover the top. Cover with plastic and weigh it down with a plate. Refrigerate for a few hours and up to overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmigiano and breadcrumbs. Cover the top loosely with foil, place on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until bubbling and the top is golden brown, an additional 15 minutes. Let rest for 15 to 20 minutes and cool slightly before unmolding from the pan. Slice and serve.

Chocolate & Hazelnut Cake: 
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 3 ounces chocolate (I like to use dark chocolate 65 to 75-percent), broken into pieces
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (I like the salt from Trapani) 
  • 13 ounces chocolate hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
  • 2 tablespoons espresso
  • Powdered Sugar, for dusting
  • Sweetened whipped cream, optional
  • Gelato, optional
  • Special equipment: 9- by 3-inch springform pan
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare the springform pan by coating it in a thin layer with 2 tablespoons of the softened butter. Add the cocoa powder to the pan and tap the sides to coat the bottom and sides evenly. Discard any excess cocoa powder.

Put the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven on the center rack until just fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer immediately to a kitchen towel to stop them from cooking. Use the towel to rub off the skins. Set aside to cool.

Lower the oven to 350 degrees F.

Fill a 1- to 2-quart pot with about 1 inch of water and bring it to a bare simmer over medium heat. Place the dark chocolate pieces into a heatproof bowl and set it over the pot and simmering water (this is a bain-marie). The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Let the chocolate melt, and then stir gently. Remove from the heat when melted.

Chop the hazelnuts into small pieces using a chef's knife or a food processor. Make sure you don't turn them into powder.

Whip the egg whites with an electric mixer with the salt until they are almost at stiff peaks. Try not to over-whip.

Mix together the remaining 5 tablespoons butter with the chocolate hazelnut spread in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Stir in the espresso. Add the yolks and stir briskly to combine. Stir in the chopped hazelnuts and melted chocolate.

Add one-fourth of the whipped egg whites to the chocolate hazelnut mixture and stir to lighten the batter. Then gently fold the rest of the egg whites into the batter in 3 additions. Don't over-fold.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake on the center rack of the oven until the sides of the cake start releasing from edges of the pan, 40 minutes. This cake is almost a hazelnut fudge, so no need to poke with a toothpick to check if the inside is ready or not. The cake will come out of the oven nice and fluffy and souffled, but it will deflate to half the size during its cool-off period.

Serve garnished with some powdered sugar and whipped or cream or gelato, if using.

Silk Sheets Cocktail: 
  • 3 to 4 medium strawberries
  • 1 ounce balsamic vinegar
  • 2 ounces gin, such as Hendrick's 
  • Ice
  • St. Germain Foam, optional, recipe follows
Saint Germain Foam:
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup elderflower liqueur, such as St. Germain 
  • Juice from 1 lime
Muddle the strawberries with the balsamic vinegar, and then add the gin. Add ice and shake and strain into a rocks glass with ice. Top with St. Germain Foam if using.

A viewer or guest of the show, who may not be a professional cook, provided this recipe. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe and therefore, we cannot make representation as to the results. Add the egg whites, liqueur and lime juice to a nitrous oxide cream charger (You want the cream charger not the soda charger.) Shake, then double charge with 2 nitrous oxide chargers. Yield: About 1 cup.

images & recipes via: extra virgin

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