Here's the deal, its called the WC Platinum Chef Challenge. The current host chooses 5 ingredients for the challenge and participants must create a meal using those ingredients in either 1 or 2 dishes (but if more than one dish is used, each dish must use at least two of the ingredients).
This week, Cara picked Basil, Strawberries, Nuts, Tomatoes, and Zucchini as her 5 ingredients. I made 2 dishes because, well, I don't really know how you would make a dish with all five (and I'm kinda an outside of the box thinker). So without further ado, I bring you: Pesto Primavera and Molten Chocolate Cake with a strawberry basil sauce.
Remember that pesto I made this week? Well can you THINK of a better use? I mean its got nuts and basil already in it so that's two ingredients down. For the primavera part, I turned to my Italian expert, Giada DeLaurentis. I modified one of her recipes, combined it with my pesto, and voila! dinner. I loooved the veggies - the color they brought to the dish, the added flavor, and of course the way they complemented the pesto. As much as I love tomatoes though, I don't think the raw tomatoes added anything to dish, and next time I would just leave them out.
3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips
2 medium zucchini cut into thin strips
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 orange bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs
Penne Pasta, cooked and drained
14 cherry tomatoes, halved
Pesto (I promise I made it and it has pine nuts, walnuts, and basil in it)
1) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
2) In a large bowl toss all of the vegetables with the oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs to coat.
3) Place the vegetable mixture to another heavy large baking sheet and arrange evenly over the baking sheet. Bake until the carrots are tender and the vegetables begin to brown, stirring after the first 10 minutes, about 20 minutes total.
4) Add the veggies, tomatoes and pesto to the pasta and toss to coat.
Molten Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Basil Sauce:
Remember how I said to stay tuned for that molton chocolate cake I was going to make to use up the rest of the "cream cheese frosting gone awry"? Well I did it! Except, after reading about the challenge, I decided to make a strawberry basil sauce instead. Especially since I was so excited about my new basil plant. The cake is Emeril's but I take full credit for the sauce. And it was incredible! Jon was super skeptical. Super. As in, didn't want to try it...but after smelling it and dipping his finger in it, he was all in. The basil really complemented the strawberries and also cut the sweetness. And together with the chocolate? Fuggetaboutit. Strawberry, Chocolate, and Basil? It's the new black.
Molten Chocolate Cake (from Emeril Lagass
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter, plus 1/4 pound (1 stick)
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
4 -5 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, or to taste
6 fresh basil leaves
1) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease and flour 4 (6-ounce) ramekins or baking dishes with the 1 1/2 teaspoons of butter and 1 teaspoon of flour in each, tapping out the excess flour. Set on a baking sheet.
2) In a double boiler, or a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the remaining 1/4 pound of butter with the chocolate, cream, and powdered sugar, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat.
3) In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and salt until thick ribbons form, about 3 minutes. Sift 2 tablespoons flour into the egg mixture and fold together. Fold the chocolate into the egg mixture. Divide among the prepared dishes and bake until the sides of the cake are set and the tops are puffed but still soft, about 12 minutes.
4) Remove from the oven and let cool in the ramekins for 2 minutes, then unmold onto dessert plates.
5) To make the strawberry sauce, combine all ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth.
6) Pour the sauce over the cakes and serve.