, , , , , , ,

Apologies for the lack of posts this week. I’ve set myself a deadline to finish a chapter in my thesis this month and I aim to meet it!

I managed to find time yesterday afternoon to whip up a delicious meal for the final edition of my Mother’s Day series. I wanted to create a menu that had light and fresh flavours that doesn’t give you that “ugh, I ate too much” kind of feeling. Plus, the weather’s been incredibly sunny and uplifting these last few days, and I just can’t imagine myself eating or serving something hearty that’s more appropriate for fall or winter months.

For this menu, I came up with Tomato and Basil Bruschetta as an appetizer,  Linguine with Shrimp and White Wine Sauce as the entree, and delightfully sinful Chocolate Pudding served in delicate tea cups.

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

1 baguette, cut into 1/2″ slices
5-6 roma tomatoes, diced
10-12 basil leaves, chiffonade
1 garlic clove, minced
1 garlic clove, cracked
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil + extra for bread
salt and pepper to taste

Place the diced tomatoes in a medium bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Let it sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This will draw the moisture out and macerate the tomatoes a bit. In a small bowl, whisk together the minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Add to the tomatoes and then add salt and pepper to taste. Let it sit in the refrigerator for about an hour to allow the flavours to combine. Trust me – it’s worth doing this!

Right before serving, preheat your barbecue or grill pan to low heat. Brush the baguette slices with olive oil on one side. Grill until both sides are crisp and has nice char marks. Then take the cracked garlic clove (done by pushing down on a clove with the side of your knife) and rub on the oiled side. Spoon the bruschetta onto the baguette slices and enjoy!

Chiffonade is a fancy schmany word for slicing the basil. Basically you roll up your basil leaves like a cigar and chop into fine slices. Jamie Oliver likes to rip his basil, other people like to haphazardly chop. Whatever floats your boat – just don’t manhandle it too much so that you bruise the leaves. Also, if you don’t have a barbecue, you can toast the bread in the oven at 450 degrees F for a few minutes. But I find grilling tastes the best. Also, a drizzle of balsamic reduction would be a fantastic addition. I didn’t have time but it’s pretty simple. Heat some balsamic vinegar over low to medium-low heat until it reduces and thickens into a sweet syrupy consistency. If it’s good quality balsamic vinegar, you won’t need to add any sugar.

Linguine with Shrimp and White Wine
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, September 2009

4 servings of linguine
3 tbsp. cold butter, cut into two pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup white wine
3/4-1 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
8 basil leaves, chiffonade; for garnish

In a large pot, cook linguine according to package directions until al dente. Reserve some of the pasta water just in case.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt half of the butter. Once fully melted, add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant – about a minute or so. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add white wine. Cook for another minute or so, until the white wine has reduced by 1/4. Add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper to taste and cook until the shrimp turns pink and opaque. Turn the heat off and stir in the remaining butter and the lemon juice. Add the cooked linguine and basil leaves and toss in the skillet. If the pasta seem dry, add a little bit of the reserved pasta water until it moistens to your liking. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chocolate Pudding
Adapted from Joy of Cooking

2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla

In a medium heavy saucepan, over medium-low heat, combine 1 3/4 cup of milk, sugar, and chocolate. Stir occasionally with a whisk until the chocolate has completely melted.

In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and 1/4 cup milk until it’s fully combined.

Turn the heat up to medium and slowly whisk in the cornstarch and milk mixture into your chocolate mixture. Whisk constantly until it just starts to thicken. Then turn the heat down to low and continue whisking for about a minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Add to ramekins or other individual containers like tea cups (as I did). Gently press plastic wrap onto the surface of the pudding so that a skin doesn’t form. Chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour.

Hope you have a great Mother’s Day this weekend! And if you are a mom, thank you for all the work that you do, especially the things that go unnoticed. You make the world go round. xo