Cooking Light group dinner - one of our best ever

I mentioned awhile back that I belong to a Cooking Light group. We meet every month or so for a relatively healthy meal, and everyone contributes a dish or wine. The hostess picks the theme, and for the most recent dinner I attended, Kara chose to go Italian. Usually I walk away with one or two recipes I'd make again, but with this menu, every recipe was a keeper. It was one of our best dinners ever..

The main course, Filet Mignon with Balsamic Syrup and Goat Cheese had the deliciously contrasting flavors of a sweet balsamic syrup and a tangy goat cheese. I've grown to like Brussels sprouts, and especially like the addition of smoky, crispy prosciutto in Brussels Sprouts with Crisp Prosciutto. The Baked Risotto with Asparagus, Spinach and Parmesan was great comfort food -- and baking the risotto makes it easier than traditional risotto. My rosemary bread recipe needed tweaking, but it came together in a flash in the food processor. And the Italian Cream Cake is one of my favorite cakes -- it's moist, buttery, nutty and not too sweet. The only thing I don't like about the recipe is that Cooking Light says it makes 20 servings. As Chrissy would say, yeah, right.

Filet Mignon with Balsamic Syrup and Goat Cheese (Kara)
Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis/Food Network (video is here)

1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
6 (5 to 6-ounce) filet mignon steaks (each about 1-inch thick)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese

Boil the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes. (Note: I made this after this post. This sauce was like caramel  before it got to 1/3 cup, and her video sure shows more than 1/3 cup. I'd say you may want to reduce it by 1/3, to 1 cup.)

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper. Cook the steaks to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer the steaks to a baking sheet. Crumble the cheese over the steaks and broil just until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with pepper.

Transfer the steaks to plates. Drizzle the balsamic sauce around the steaks and serve.

Brussels Sprouts with Crisp Prosciutto (Jodi)
From Cooking Light, December 2003

3 cups trimmed halved Brussels sprouts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup chopped prosciutto (about 1 1/2 ounces)
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Cook Brussels sprouts in boiling water 3 minutes or until crisp- tender; drain. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; add prosciutto. Cook 6 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan; set aside. Heat pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add Brussels sprouts; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add butter, salt, and pepper, stirring until butter melts. Remove from heat; drizzle with juice. Add prosciutto; toss to combine.

Note: Pull off any limp outer leaves, and closely trim the stem end- don't cut too much off, or the Brussels sprouts may fall apart. Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup)

Baked Risotto with Asparagus,Spinach and Parmesan
Nancy doubled the recipe, and added another 1/2 cup of broth. She also added the cup of white wine before the spinach and broth, then let the liquid be absorbed before adding the next ingredients.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
8 cups spinach leaves (about 4 ounces)
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups (1-inch) diagonally sliced asparagus

Preheat oven to 400°.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; cook 4 minutes or until tender. Add rice; stir well. Stir in spinach, broth, salt, and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer; cook 7 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup cheese.

Cover and bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Stir in asparagus; sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Cover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

Italian Cream Cake

Vegetable cooking spray
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light butter
2 egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon butter extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg whites (at room temperature)

Prepare Cream Cheese Icing (below); cover and chill.

Coat bottoms of 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray (do not coat sides of pans); line bottoms of pans with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray, and dust with flour; set aside.

Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine 2 cups flour and baking soda; stir well.

Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in pecans and extracts.

Beat egg whites at high speed of a mixer until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat). Fold egg whites into batter; pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 23 minutes. Let cool in pans 5 minutes on a wire rack. Loosen cake layers from sides of pans using a narrow metal spatula, and turn out onto wire racks. Peel off wax paper, and let cool completely.

Place 1 cake layer on a plate, and spread with 2/3 cup Cream Cheese Icing; top with another cake layer. Repeat with 2/3 cup icing and remaining layer, ending with cake. Spread remaining icing over cake.

Cream Cheese Icing
1 tablespoon light butter
1 (8-ounce) package Neufchâtel cheese
1 (1-pound) package powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream butter and cheese at high speed of a mixer until fluffy. Add sugar; beat at low speed until well-blended. Add vanilla; beat well.


Emiline said...

Oh, man. I want that cake!
Everything looks so good. I wish I had a Cooking Light group.

Patsyk said...

Looks like you had a wonderful dinner, and the best part was that it was all healthy since CL was the source!

RecipeGirl said...

Everything sounds terrific to me!

I think that Italian Cream Cake recipe is on their list of like all-time reader favorites.

Lisa said...

Yum! What a nice dinner. A dinner club is a great idea.

Deborah said...

What a fun idea for a group! And I can see why all of these are winners - they all sound fantastic!

Elisabeth said...

Oh wow, that cake looks FANTASTIC! Off to find an excuse to make it now...darn it, wish I had a supper club! :)

eatme_delicious said...

Yum I'll take some of that risotto and some cake please! I love how the cheese is baked on top of the risotto.

Veronica said...

I would love to start a CL dinner group...that filet sounds unbelievable! You know how I feel about brussels sprouts...but maybe with prosciutto!

Karyn said...

Tracy! I bookmarked this and Lisa and I made it the last time I was at her house! The steak only, but it was so delicious! xx