Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cena con Crissy e David

Lucas and I wanted to have a more intimate dinner with Crissy and David so we could get to know David a little better, and also, so I could let him try a real 'Italian' dinner.
It was a very nice dinner. We enjoyed their company very much and I was very happy that David liked my cuisine :)
So here is the menu:
Insalata di verdure e anacardi / Veggy and cashew salad
Tagliatelle con kale, ricotta, gorgo e pomodori / Tagliatelle with kale, ricotta, gorgonzola and tomatoes
Barchette dolci alla frutta / Sweet little boats with fruit
Note: this was not a complete Italian dinner. There wasn't a 'second course', including meat and vegetables, there wasn't a cheese platter, and there wasn't a fruit platter. But I really think that's too much for one dinner so very rarely I make a real complete dinner. I think this was a good amount of food for us :)
Recipes and pictures follow.

Farinata is a typical dish from Liguria, which I really like and crave from time to time. It's a very thin 'pizza' made of chickpea flour. The only problem about it is that I can make it well only once in a while :) To make it, you have to mix chickpea flour and water in a ratio that varies a lot depending on who's explaining the recipe to you. I think 1:2 (flour:water) is about right, but that doesn't seem to work all the time (ok, I must admit, my ratio is not always the same :) ). Anyway, that's just it, then you add a bit of salt and you let it rest for a few hours before making the farinata. Place a non-sticking paper in a baking pan and add about 1-2 tbsps olive oil on it, then pour the liquid mixture on it and bake at 400F for ~15-20 minutes, until it solidifies and becomes crispy. Now, the problem is that my oven is not perfectly even, neither in temperature nor as flatness, so I always get one side thinner and that starts burning.. so I have to take out the farinata and slice out that part before it burns, then I put it back in the oven and so on. Although, sometimes it seemed to work better. So I'm not sure what's the trick. Anyway it usually turns out very good, even though you may waste part of it because it gets burnt. It's a really good food, so I'd recommend you to try it!
Serve it sprinkled with black pepper, hot.

Insalata di verdure e anacardi
This salad is made with cabbage, peppers, carrots and tomatoes, simply dressed with olive oil, garlic (finely cut) and balsamic vinegar (and salt obviously), and generously sprinkled with cashew nuts. Very good!
It's not a typical Italian salad but it's something in the same mindset of Italian dishes: simple and good ingredients and a light dressing.

Tagliatelle con kale, ricotta, gorgo e pomodori
This is not a traditional Italian recipe either (especially because Kale doesn't exist in Italy), but it's something that again reminds of Italian pasta dishes. We rarely use meat on the pasta (except in the ragu sauce, for example), whereas in the US a lot of pasta dishes have pieces of chicken, or something similar on top.. Italian pasta is very often with vegetables, cheese and if you want something more fancy, fish.
This was actually my invention, and it turned out really good. To make it, saute one onion with ~1 lb kale, cut, add salt. Let cook for ~15-20 minutes, then add a few pieces of gorgonzola - how much depends on how strong is your gorgonzola - and let it melt. Put it in a blender and blend. Then add ~1 cup of ricotta cheese and blend again. Taste. If the gorgonzola taste is too strong add a bit of honey or some more ricotta, if you like it. In a large pan, sautee slices of 2 ripe and fresh tomatoes in olive oil with 1 clove of garlic, minced, with some salt. After ~ 5 minutes it'll be done. Add the rest of the sauce to it and stir. In the meanwhile cook the tagliatelle (1 lb) in a large amount of hot and salted water, stirring frequently not to make them stick to each other, then drain and add the pasta in the large pan with the sauce and saute for a few minutes before serving, adding a bit of black pepper on top. Delicious. :)

Barchette dolci alla frutta
I took the idea for this recipe from I will explain how to make this dessert in a separate post. It was very good :)

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