It's the natural thing to want to roll out the big spread when company's coming. So along with pouring our hearts into our cooking we pour a lot of heavy cream and oil and butter along with it.
2 Add the basil, if desired, at the last minute.
Roasted yellow pepper sauce
Makes about 3/4 cup; 11 calories per tablespoon.
2 medium yellow bell peppers
3/4 teaspoon Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons sour cream, stirred
Roast the bell peppers directly over a gas flame or under the broiler as close to the heat as possible, turning until charred all over, about 5 minutes. Enclose the peppers in a bag to steam for 10 minutes. Using a thin sharp knife, scrape the skin off the
peppers, rinse, and remove the core, seeds and ribs.
In a food processor or blender, combine the peppers, vinegar, garlic, salt and black pepper to taste. Process until the mixture is a fine puree, scraping down the sides occasionally, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the sour cream. Adjust the seasoning, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (The pepper sauce will keep for about four days.)
Chocolate chestnut truffles
Makes 20 truffles; 35 calories each.
1/4 pound (18 to 20) peeled whole roasted chestnuts (see note)
1/2 cup milk
1/3 vanilla bean, split
2 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 to 3 teaspoons cognac or armagnac
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
In a small heavy saucepan, combine the chestnuts and 1/2 cup of water. Cover and simmer over very low heat until the water is evaporated but the chestnuts are still moist, about 15 minutes.
Stir in the milk. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixture and add the bean. Cover and simmer over very low heat until the chestnuts are very tender and the milk has reduced slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the chocolate, cover and set aside to melt, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is creamy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Discard the vanilla bean.
In a food processor, combine the chocolate-chestnut mixture and the corn syrup; process, scraping down the sides occasionally, until the mixture is perfectly smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the cognac to taste and the salt and process for 1 minute longer. Transfer the truffle mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until firm.
Place the cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Scoop up 2 teaspoonsful of the truffle mixture and roll into a rough ball with your fingers. Repeat with the remaining truffle mixture. Working with a few at a time, toss the truffles in the bowl of cocoa. Transfer to a plate as they are finished, then sift any remaining cocoa over them. (The truffles will keep refrigerated for several weeks in a tightly sealed container. If the truffles absorb the cocoa, sift a little more over them just before serving.)
Note: If peeled whole chestnuts are not available, canned unsweetened chestnut puree may be substituted. Truffles will have a slightly softer texture. In a small heavy saucepan, combine 1/2 cup (4 ounces) chestnut puree and 6 tablespoons milk. Add the vanilla scrapings and bean and proceed with the recipe.