Monday, 12 August 2013

Dinner Party Feast!

The Freshly Blogged competition is in week 6 already, wow! This week's challenge was sponsored by Robertsons Spices and it was a double whammy with a brief that said that we had to create two dishes, both containing cayene pepper and cinnamon. The other ingredients we had to use were chicken livers, cream and white chocolate, and we could also include any 3 fresh ingredients and 2 grocery items. 

I was feeling inspired when I got the challenge and had my dishes planned out within an hour - that is definitely a record for me! Spices are a big part of my every day cooking, and I love experimenting and finding unexpected ways of including them in my dishes. These creations are no exception! First up were the chicken livers. I wanted to use these in a less conventional way and the idea of ravioli appealed to me immediately. I included fresh sage in the pasta and created a sage, white wine and cream sauce to be drizzled on top. This dish has a wonderful rich flavour and is great fun to make. You can get the whole family involved in the pasta making process which is always easier with a few extra pairs of hands! 

Next up was the white chocolate, and I decided to be adventurous and make a double chocolate meringue cake. It has a bottom layer of moist, dark chocolate cake with a hint of chilli, while the meringue topping is flavoured with warm cinnamon and sweet dashes of white chocolate. This is a sublime combination of flavours and textures and will look very impressive on your dinner party table. 

As usual, all of the recipes are available on the Freshly Blogged website. If you like the sound of my dinner party feast you can vote for it HERE. A big thank you to everyone who has been loyally voting in previous rounds, I appreciate every vote. 





Serves 4 

For the pasta:

270g plain flour
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped sage
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 egg yolks

For the ravioli filling:

2 teaspoons flour
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cayene pepper
250g fresh chicken livers
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

For the sauce:

3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped sage
1 cup white wine
1 cup cream
olive oil
12 sage leaves to garnish

For the chocolate meringue cake:

2 1/4 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1.5 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon bicarb
5 tablespoons cocoa + extra for dusting
pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon cayene pepper
1.5 cups hot water
3/4 cup sunflower oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
160g castor sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 egg whites
80g white chocolate, finely chopped

To prepare the pasta:

Step 1.) Combine the flour, salt and sage in a bowl. Add the eggs, olive oil and egg yolks and mix until mostly combined.

Step 2.) Tip everything onto your work surface and knead for 10 minutes until you have a smooth dough. Dust the dough with pasta if it becomes sticky.

Step 3.) Cover the dough and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes while you make the filling.

To prepare the filling:

Step 1.) Combine the flour, salt and cayene pepper in a bowl. Add the chicken livers and toss to coat.

Step 2.) Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan. Add the cinnamon, onion and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Step 3.) Using the same pan, cook the chicken livers for 5-6 minutes until well browned and cooked through.

Step 4.) Add the onion mixture back into the pan. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for a further minute. Remove from the heat. Use a food processor to blend into a smooth filling.

To prepare the ravioli:

Step 1.) Divide the pasta dough into 2 pieces for easier rolling. Use a pasta machine to roll the dough into a long, thin sheet - starting on the largest setting and working your way up.

Step 2.) Place a strip of pasta (mine was roughly 14cm wide) in front of you. Roll small teaspoonfuls of chicken filling into balls and place them along the sheet of pasta, approximately 4cm apart and 4cm away from the edge.

Step 3.) Brush the pasta sheet with water, along the edges and inbetween the balls of filling. Carefully fold the pasta edge that's closest to you over to enclose the filling and gently press out any air bubbles. Fold the pasta over again. Use a knife to the cut the pieces of ravioli apart.

Step 4.) Cook the ravioli in a pot of boiling salted water for 6-8 minutes until tender but still firm.

Any excess pasta can be rolled and cut into strips or lasagne sheets.

To prepare the sauce:

Step 1.) Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the sage and sauté for a further minute.

Step 2.) Add the white wine and cream. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for approximately 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced by half.

Step 3.) Pop the sauce in a food processor and blend until almost smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper

Step 4.) Heat a dash of olive oil in a frying pan. Fry the sage leaves for a few seconds on each side until crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside on a piece of kitchen towel.

Step 5.) Dish the ravioli onto heated plates. Drizzle with the sauce and top with fried sage leaves.

To prepare the meringue cake:

Step 1.) Preheat your oven to 180°C. Grease a 22cm round springform cake tin and line with baking paper.

Step 2.) Sift the flour, baking powder, white sugar, bicarb, cocoa, salt and cayene pepper into a bowl and mix.

Step 3.) Add the hot water, sunflower oil and vinegar and mix until you have a smooth batter.

Step 4.) Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 35 minutes.

Step 5.) While the cake is baking you can make the meringue. Mix the castor sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Whisk the egg whites to soft peak stage. Continue whisking while you gradually add the cinnamon sugar. Continue whisking until you have a thick, glossy mixture.

Step 6.) Fold the white chocolate into the meringue. Carefully pile the meringue onto the hot cake and spread over the top. Return the cake to the oven for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Step 7.) Allow the cake to cool completely before removing from the tin. Dust with cocoa powder and serve.

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