Saturday, April 27, 2013

An Anniversary FEAST! Veal Shanks, Polenta & Lemon Bars!

We recently celebrated our anniversary, the hubby and I.  The weekend before our actual date, my lovey had surprised me with reservations at Brasa in Niagara Falls, and a hotel room, so that was a nice weekend to celebrate.  For our actual anniversary, which fell on a Thursday, I wanted to make a nice dinner to enjoy at home.  Well ladies and gents, it doesn't get much nicer than this in my eyes.  Dinner was fabulous, and was sweetened even further when my BF came home with beautiful roses.  What a guy!  Check out the pictures below, and enjoy the meal!!

The veal shanks are courtesy of Andrew Zimmern's contribution to The Best Thing I Ever Made on the Food Network.  The Mascarpone Polenta is courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, and the delectable lemon bars are courtesy of Paula Deen.

Pan Roasted Veal Shanks With Calvados, Apples & Cider Vinegar
8 Osso Bucco center cut
4 c flour seasoned well with salt & pepper
5 T butter
7 shallots minced
2 granny smith apples, halved & sliced
2 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c calvados or apple jack (I used brandy - Remy I believe)
1 c chicken stock
1/2 c heavy cream (I used fat free evaporated milk)
3 T minced tarragon (I didn't have this so I sued fennel)
1/2 c dried zante currants (I left these out)

Preheat oven to 350.  Dredge shanks in flour.  Brown them in the butter in a very large oven safe pan over high heat for 12 - 15 minutes.  Lower heat & continue cooking for 5 minutes, turning frequently to cook evenly.  Do not scorch!!  Add shallots & apples.  When softened add cider, calvados, and vinegar.  Let it come to allow boil & reduce liquid by 50%.  Add chicken stock & bring back to a low boil.  Place pan in oven for 90 minutes, tented with foil.  When cooking time is over, remove from oven & skim fat if needed.  Test meat to make sure it's fork-tender.  If it's not, stick it back in for a few minutes.  Place pan back over med-low heat over stove.  Add cream & tarragon.  Cook for 5 minutes more to reduce sauce to creamy consistency.  Add currants and correct seasoning & vinegar if needed.

Marscarpone Cheese Polenta
4 c milk
1/4 c EVOO
1 c cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1 c mascarpone cheese

In a large saucepan bring milk to a boil.  Add EVOO, salt & pepper.  Very gradually add polenta in a steady stream, whisking constantly.  Add salt & whisk to combine.  Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, 20-30 minutes (this only took me 5 minutes - you decide).  Add cheese and adjust seasoning to taste.

I also served this meal with roasted asparagus & broccolini mixed with lemon juice, EVOO, and salt - delicious!!

And for dessert...

Paula Deen's Lemon Bars
2 sticks butter cut in pieces
2 c flour
1 c powdered sugar
pinch salt
Filling -
4 large eggs
2 c sugar
6 T flour
6 T fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 9x13 dish with foil and butter the foil.  Make the crust - whisk flour, sugar & salt in large bowl.  Cut in the butter with your fingers to make a crumbly dough.  Press into the prepared pan and bake 20 minutes.  Transfer to a rack and cool slightly.  Meanwhile make the filling - mix all ingredients together.  Pour over crust and bake 25 minutes.  Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Lift out of pan and cut in pieces. 

I don't normally like lemon desserts but the citrus was very subtle in this, thanks to the sugar...yum!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Rocky Road Blondies

I love desserts.  Especially desserts that you can whip up super-fast and surprise the family.  I also really enjoy Sunday dinners, so what better time to make a dessert that will last the week?  Ok, it's supposed to last the week, but rarely does.  This recipe was so simple and oh so delicious, so thank you Canadian Living for putting smiles on the kiddies faces...and adding pounds to the scale!

Rocky Road Blondies
1 c butter softened
2 2/12 c brown sugar
4 eggs
1 T vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c chocolate chips
2 c mini marshmallows
chopped walnuts for topping (optional)

In a large bowl beat the butter with sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Beat in vanilla.  Whisk the flour with salt and stir into butter mixture in 2 additions.  Stir in 1c chocolate chips until just combined.  Spread in a parchment lined or greased 13x9 baking dish, smooth top.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips and marshmallows. Bake until marshmallows are puffed, 3 minutes (I left mine in for about 6 minutes as I wanted a little bit of color on the marshmallows.  Let cool.  Cut into squares and serve - yum!