The Last Supper (French Bread with Zucchini Au Gratin, Chicken with Black Bean & Mango Salsa, and Orange Custard with Strawberry Sauce)

7 May

I’m moving this Saturday to my house!  This means I have to change my claim of “anyone can make my recipes in your average apartment kitchen with mediocre quality utensils from Target and IKEA” to “anyone can make my recipes in your average starter home kitchen,” same utensils 🙂

This menu is from the last supper I hosted (and will ever host) in my apartment.  I’ll miss the fantastic view of the pool from my balcony, but definitely not the small, cramped kitchen.  I’m also looking forward to the gas burning range at the house along with my new fridge that will hopefully have a vegetable crisper bin that actually keeps vegetables crisp.

Appetizer: French Bread with Zucchini Au Gratin

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The zucchini au gratin (recipe based off of Rachael Ray’s original) is like a creamy artichoke dip, but fresh zucchinis are a lot easier to slice and process than fresh artichoke!  The nutmeg gives it a nice, earthy flavor.  The dish is extra-cheesey, so think of it as a calcium source rather than a fat source (and keep your portions moderate).  I put mine under the broiler a little longer because I like the taste and texture of semi-burnt cheese, but obviously you don’t have to do that 😛

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium zucchinis, sliced into thin rounds
1 medium white onion, sliced into rings
2 tbsp margarine
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat broiler. 

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add zucchini and onions, season with preferred amount of salt and pepper and saute for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until zucchini rounds are tender and onion are caramelized at the edges.

In the mean time, heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  When butter is completely melted, whisk in flour and and milk.  Whisk over heat until milk mixture thickens and has a mostly even consistency throughout.  Season with nutmeg and preferred amounts of salt and pepper.  Stir in grated Parmesan cheese.

Transfer sauteed zucchini and onions to a casserole dish.  Pour milk/Parmesan sauce over the veggies and cover with shredded sharp cheddar.  Broil for 3-4 minutes until cheese is bubbly (or until desired cheese burntness, hehe)

Serves 6

Entree: Chicken with Black Bean & Mango Salsa

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The black bean salsa recipe comes from the May 2007 issue of Shape magazine.  The chicken marinade is just something I quickly made up with existing kitchen ingredients that worked out pretty well (according to my dinner guests)!

For the Black Bean Salsa:

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
4 cups boiling water
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1-10.5 oz can black beans, drained
a small handful of fresh cilantro, diced
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
black pepper
crushed red pepper (optional, only if you want the heat)

Place finely chopped red onion in a colander or strainer and douse with boiling water to soften.  Immediately pour cold water over onions and drain (we’re blanching the onions to make them soft but still colorful).  Transfer onion to a medium bowl and add in remaining ingredients.  Chill in fridge for at least an hour (prefer overnight to really seal in the flavors).

For the Chicken:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp crushed cumin
2 tbsp lime juice
garlic powder
salt and black pepper
cooking spray

Pound chicken with a mallet between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap on both sides to tenderize.  Place chicken breasts in ziplock bag with all remaining ingredients (except cooking spray) and marinate in fridge for at least 1 hour (prefer overnight). 

Spray a grill pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.  Add in marinated chicken breasts and cook approximately 4-5 minutes on each side or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle.  Top with prepared black bean salsa and serve.

Serves 4

Dessert: Orange Custard with Strawberry Sauce

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I got the idea for this recipe from the May 2007 issue of Shape.  However, I didn’t have any triple sec around so I had to change up the recipe and the presentation to suit a non-alcoholic version of this dessert.

For the Custard: 

2 cups low fat vanilla yogurt
2 tbsp water, divided
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp sugar, divided
1/3 cup orange juice
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (about 1 tbsp)

In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, water, honey, and sugar until well combined.  Set aside.

Pour orange juice into a small saucepan.  Sprinkle gelatin over orange juice until the powder is blended in and no longer visible.  Heat gelatin/juice mixture over low heat and stir until gelatin is fully dissolved, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Remove from heat and whisk warm gelatin mixture into yogurt mixture until well combined.

Pour custard into individual ramekins and referigerate at least 3 hours (or until set).

For the Strawberry Sauce:

1 cup strawberries, de-stemmed
2 tbsp sugar

Place ingredients in food processor and puree until mixture is chunk-less.

To Assemble:

4 ramekins of custard
1 cup strawberry sauce
strawberry halves
freshly grated orange zest

Top ramekins of custard with strawberry sauce, then sprinkle with orange zest.  Serve with additional strawberry halves.

Serves 4

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