ChezHelvetica’s first experience with Cranberry Beans, also known as Borlotti, opened a new world in dining. Sensuous in their curved shells, these beautifully pink-speckled oval beans added creamy, delicious flavor to a Tri Color Barilla Pasta dish, nestling on Earthbound Farm Organic Baby Spinach. An Epicurious recipe for the fresh beans (purchased at the VA Farmers Market ) heightened the taste of the Penne, already bathing in homemade Almond Pesto. Grated Parmesan-Reggiano Cheese showered the Pasta Salad, studded with Baked Apricot Chicken. Empire Kosher Chicken Breasts roasted in my sister’s delicious Apricot Glaze, Lemon Juice, Garlic and Dijon Mustard, then topped with Dried Apricots. An elegant dinner for a Wednesday night!
ChezHelvetica hosted an astonishing 88th Birthday Celebration for our incredible Mother (Beverly). Sister Abby, traveling through Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Thailand and Indonesia with family, flew in from Bali to surprise our Mom. Was it a mirage?! She was speechless, overjoyed! Ina Garten‘s luscious recipe for Roasted Vegetable Lasagne layered with Eggplant, Zucchini, four different Cheeses, Rao’s Marinara Sauce, Barilla Lasagna Noodles, Garlic and fresh Oregano simply delighted the party. A delicious Spinach, Avocado, Strawberry, Walnut (with added Pineapple) Salad and Poppy Seed Dressing accompanied, along with Baker’s of Paris Baguette and Olymp Greek Kalamata Olives. Our joy was further elevated by fruity, spicy Frei Brothers Sonoma Reserve Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley. Dessert plans included Mom’s favorite Hot Fudge Sundae (Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Ice Cream and Hershey’s Hot Fudge Sauce standing by) and house favorite Neiman Marcus Lemon Squares. So stuffed at that point, only the Lemon Squares made it to the table. Overwhelming happiness filled the room!!!
While my mother might describe her two daughters as Little Gems, ChezHelvetica’s definition this evening focused on the vibrant green leaves with a sweet, buttery taste known by this name. But first, Rigatoni Pasta Pie in a Mug! Intrigued by this recipe spotted on Facebook several weeks ago (made with Marinara Sauce), the ingredients used in the warm introduction to this dinner were creamy Mushroom Soup, Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheeses, Basil and Barilla Rigatoni. Our centerpiece salad combined the delicious sweet and savory tastes of Little Gems, Herb Roasted Turkey Breast (using Rosemary, Sage and Thyme freshly plucked from the gardens and Acacia Chardonnay), Tory Farms Nectarines, Roasted Walnuts, Organic Celery and Italian Parsley. A simple Lemon Vinaigrette dressed the colorful salad, adding the perfect tang. For dessert, the sisters shared family stories while diving into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia FroYo. You just can’t beat that!
“Healthful, but just-as-divine” piqued the interest of ChezHelvetica with Real Simple‘s Comfort-Food Makeover featuring Roasted Broccoli and Tomato Mac-and-Cheese. This creamy KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) recipe turned into a French kiss with the addition of Muscat de Provence, a rare sweet squash from the south of France. Roasted organic Broccoli, Cauliflower and Cherry Tomatoes – plus the Squash and some Red Onion – joined Barilla Pasta Shells in a rich Cheddar Cheese bath. Topped with Pepper Jack Cheese, the sparks really flew! Aidell’s Chicken-Apple Sausage and Saveur‘s Celery Salad (with additional Baby Spinach) accompanied the featured dish with savory and fresh accents. Easing us into further comfort: Brazin’s velvety Dry Creek Valley Old Vine Zinfandel. The final hug – Food & Wine’s Blackberry and Apple Crisp with Nut Topping à la mode. The right food with the right person – indeed, the definition of Heartwarming!