Recipe of the Week: Parmesan Spring Chicken / Mascarpone and Vanilla Hearts

We recently invited friends over for dinner and I needed a simple, yet tasty, menu that would both impress and use local, seasonal ingredients.

Nerding around on the internet I found this useful BC Agricultural Tourism site which offers information on what’s in season in, along with the obvious look on the grocery store shelves, or what’s on the Pemberton Farmers Market stands!

Peas are currently in the middle of their season and cherries are just starting theirs so they seemed like the natural base ingredients for a main course and a dessert.

With that in mind I went in search of a light and fresh recipe using peas and came across this one for Parmesan Spring Chicken which fit the bill perfectly.

Parmesan Spring Chicken

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 egg white
  • 5 tbsp finely grated parmesan
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 400g new potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 140g fresh peas
  • good handful baby spinach leaves
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Method

  1. Heat grill to medium and line the grill pan with foil. Beat the egg white on a plate with a little salt and pepper. Tip the Parmesan onto another plate. Dip the chicken first in egg white, then the cheese. Grill the coated chicken for 10-12 mins, turning once until browned and crisp.
  2. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes for 10 minutes, adding the peas for the final 3 mins, then drain. Toss the vegetables with the spinach leaves, vinegar, oil and seasoning to taste. Divide between four warm plates, then serve with the chicken.

And a dinner party is not complete without a sumptuous dessert – well not in my world anyway!

Having seen the cherries I knew exactly what I was going to make to finish off the meal having made it before, albeit this time with a different seasonal fruit.

So I pulled out my Gordon Ramsay “Just Desserts” cookbook for this surprisingly simple dish and Gordon’s take on the classic Coeur à la Crème – “Mascarpone and Vanilla Hearts”.

Mascarpone and vanilla hearts with cherries jubilee

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 200g mascarpone
  • 100g cream cheese
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 150g caster (berry) sugar
  • 150g creme fraîche

Method

  1. Beat the mascarpone and cream cheese together in a bowl until smooth. Slit the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a knife. Add these to the mascarpone mixture with the sugar and beat well.
  2. Whip the crème fraîche in another bowl until softly stiff and fold into the mixture.
  3. Line 6 heart shaped “coeur à la crème” moulds with wet muslin, or cheesecloth, allowing an overhang. Spoon in the vanilla cream and level with a palette knife. Chill for at least 24 hours.
  4. Unmould the vanilla creams on to serving plates and peel off the muslin.

I served the “hearts” with Cherries Jubilee and it was just delicious!

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound sweet cherries, pitted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup Kirsch or brandy (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream

Method

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cherries, sugar, salt, and 1 to 3 tablespoons water (depending on how juicy the cherries are). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cherries are tender and the liquid is slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add the Kirsch (if using) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is slightly thickened and the alcohol is cooked off, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Remove the skillet from the heat and swirl in the remaining tablespoon of butter. Serve.

Maybe these recipes will inspire you to host your own dinner party soon?!

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