Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Experiment in pasta sauce

Last night my sister and her boy came for a collaborative supper, something we're doing a lot of these days (and I like it). D. is an excellent cook, and I enjoy being in the kitchen with him very much. Their contributions last night were a yummy and crisp tossed salad, and crostini with tomatoes, thyme, olive oil and balsamic, and possibly some other herbs I am forgetting. They were amazing, just bursting with flavour, and made a delicious start to the meal.

J had requested pasta with grilled chicken and a rose cream sauce for the main course, and though I'd never made such a dish before I figured it couldn't be that hard - I knew all the components, and had only to put them together. I picked up a couple of chicken breasts on the bone to grill (they stay moist that way) as well as a can of plain tomato sauce to doctor up and a carton of cream.

My first mistake was trying to cheat by buying the 5% light cream. I think it needed at least 10% and possibly even whipping cream to get the right consistency. My second mistake was the canned tomato sauce - it was far too thin and had no body to it, and despite my doctoring it up with red wine, garlic and herbs, I still found it lacking in any true tomato flavour. Combined, the result was thin and soupy, necessitating a quick cheat with cornstarch and water to get it thick enough to cling to the rotini.

The chicken and other additions - caramelized onions and red bell pepper - were excellent, though. I zested and juiced a lemon and drizzled the juice and zest over the chicken before Chris grilled it with a spritz of canola oil. It gave the chicken a nice flavour, even with everything else going on in the dish.

The finished product was okay, but I think it could be vastly improved. I think next time I'll start with a clove of garlic in some olive oil, then add canned diced tomatoes, drained well, and some tomato paste to thicken, along with the herbs and some vodka in place of the red wine. Then I'll make a separate cream sauce, and then combine the two gently. I figure the calories are worth it, once in a very long while. Perhaps in the fall, when it's cooler - trying to thicken that sauce almost killed me in the blazing hot kitchen. Sweaty is not a good look at the dinner table.

Dessert was awesome, though - I had made a batch of mad rich butterscotch blondies for Sunday night's dessert, and I managed to salvage 4 of them to serve with a scoop or two of this incredible caramel pecan crunch frozen yogurt I found at the grocery store on the weekend (on sale, no less). So much sugar, so little time. I was too hot for a coffee, but one would have gone down perfectly after that.

Tomorrow night my friend L is coming over to cook dinner with me. We are making the ever-popular black bean and sweet potato burritos. I will have earned them, and a big glass of wine, by the time she gets here - I'm starting to paint the bathroom tomorrow.

No comments: