Saturday, August 26, 2006

Cena con Trino, Mariana, Marthalicia e Mariano

Mariana's sister Marhtalicia and her husband Mariano are going to leave soon, and go back to their wonderful country, Mexico. So I really wanted to have them try an Italian dinner before they left. They came over yesterday night, and it was a wonderful night. We had good wine, good food, good company, and all the time we wanted! I really needed this, after a very stressful work week.
So, Friday morning, I started the bread, before going to work, and we came back home not too late (around 5), so I managed to cook the rest. The night before, I prepared the dessert.
So, here is the menu, and the recipes, for my affectionate readers :)

Cena italiana con i cari amici messicani

Antipasto: Insalata Caprese
(Caprese Salad) e Insalata alla Marta (Insalata Marta's style)
Primo: Trecce dell'orto con il sugo della nonna (Garden braids with granny's sauce)
Secondo: Saltimbocca alla romana con zucchine gialle all'aceto balsamico(Saltimbocca roman style with yellow squash with balsamic vinegar)
Dessert: Melone bianco e mango con sorbetto di anguria (Honeydew Melon and mango with Watermelon sorbet)
Malaga Mangia-e-bevi (Malaga eat-and-drink)
Caffe' (coffee)
Pussacaffe': China (digestive: China)

Vini (wines): Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon (from Columbia Valleys) and Vina Rubican (from Navarra, Spain)

Insalata caprese
It's just a salad with tomatoes, mozzarella and olive oil. The secret is that you need to have good mozzarella (forget about the so-called mozzarella cheese that you find in the grocery stores usually and comes in squares! Mozzarella must come as balls, immersed in a milky liquid. Otherwise it's not mozzarella!!!!) - and a good olive oil (and we had some still from Tuscany, so that was very nice).
The name of the salad doesn't come from 'capra', i.e. goat, but from 'Capri', the island in front of Naples where supposedly this salad was first invented.

Insalata alla Marta
One of my invented salads. Just cabbage, olives, walnut pieces, and mango pieces. Dressed with vinegar and olive oil.

Both the salads needed some bread to go with:
I already posted the recipe for the bread. In this case, I made the bread in the morning and left it raise during the day, outside. When I came back home, I folded it, and left it raise longer, then made two 'balls' out of it, left them raise more, and cooked them before the guests arrived. It didn't raise as much as when I did all this in a row, but it was really good. It was really soft inside..

Trecce dell'orto con il sugo della nonna
This nicely colored pasta was given to me by Joanna for my birthday. The name 'trecce dell'orto' was on the package, and the colors of the pasta was due to tomato, basil, spinach, and squid ink (for the black ones) :) It looked really nice, and also the consistency and the taste was really good. The sauce was extremely simple: make a pesto, as usual, with garlic, pinenuts, parmigiano and basil. In a pan, saute' some garlic in olive oil, add canned diced tomatoes and sault, and cook for about half an hour. Add the pesto to it and cook for another five minutes. That's it! Serve it hot on hot pasta, cooked al dente! Everybody loved this pasta, whic is so simple to make :)

Saltimbocca alla romana
I had the idea for this dish from my mom. She likes to make these saltimbocca (literally, jump-in-the-mouth) because they're very quick both to prepare and to cook. In my case, they were a bit less quick.. because she can buy very thin veal meat, in Italy, whereas here, the veal meat is as expensive as gold ($20/lb.. come dire, 40 euro al kilo!!!!).. So I figured I would ask for very thin pork slices, which I once got in Whole Foods. Unfortunately, this time the Whole Food guy was not as good of a butcher, so he cut the slices quite thick. So, I hammered them down!! :) The taste was good, in the end, it was just a bit longer to prepare and to cook.
So, to make them, in the end: take some very thin slices of meat, cut them in squares (about 2 inches*1 inch), then put a little bit of cheese, and if you want, a piece of ham in it, then fold the meat, put a little leaf of sage and seal all this with a toothpick. I made three types: one with just queso cotija (a mexican cheese close to parmigiano, in texture, but stronger in flavor), one with asiago cheese and ham, and one with mozzarella cheese and ham. My mom makes them with parmigiano and prosciutto, but Whole Foods prosciutto was disgusting, so I didn't buy it (again, for $20/lb...). So I had Virginia ham, which is quite good.
You should cook them right before you eat them, just sautee them in a little bit of hot olive oil for about 5-10 minutes (depends on how thick you made them). They really want to jump in your mouth, afterwards! :)

Zucchine gialle all'aceto balsamico
Saute some onions in olive oil, then the squash cut into small pieces, add salt, paprika, pepper, and let cook for 10-15 minutes with covered lid, then open the lid, let evaporate some of the water that will have come out of the squash, and add vinegar (I had six small squashes and I added about 4 tablespoons of vinegar). Let cook for another 3 minutes, taste, and add a bit of honey to milden it, according to your taste. Serve warm.

Sorbetto di anguria con melone bianco e mango
To make the sorbet, puree in a blender one watermelon (after removing the seeds) with one cup of sugar and one eggwhite. Put in the ice-cream maker and let stir for about 45 minutes (mine didn't stop, but it was fine after that time). Leave it in the freezer for a few hours. If you serve it the day after, take it out of the freezer half an hour before serving it. I served it on top of pieces of honeydew melon and mango, topped with a tiny bit of whipped cream. It was very good and not too heavy, after the big dinner.

Malaga mangia-e-bevi
This drink was actually supposed to be one of the balls of the ice cream that I wanted to put as a dessert. Unfortunately, it didn't solidify, so I turned it into a refreshing drink (suggestion by Lucas - I was too disappointed and wasn't going to serve it). But it was actually very appreciated.
Malaga is an ice cream flavor that resembles cream, but has rum and raisin in it. I read somewhere that I had to substitute all the milk that I would put to make the ice-cream with rum! It did seem too much, so I substituted less than half of it (for the rest, I used a recipe similar to the vanilla ice-cream that I posted earlier, I just didn't put vanilla and used only 5 egg yolks instead of 8). But there was still too much alcohol!! Which, as you know, has a much lower freezing point than milk.. so it didn't really freeze. I tried to add some condensed milk to it, and more milk, hoping that the alcohol/milk proportion would decrease enough, but there was nothing to do.. so I just gave up. As a drink it was quite good. I baptized it Malaga mangia-e-bevi because you could eat and drink at the same time, because of the few raisins in it :)

Coffee was also served, from my new caffettiera (Italian coffee maker), and afterwards, we still had some china digestive from Tuscany. :) (it's a liquor made from a root of a plant)

The wine was also very good, and I will remember the name of the cabernet sauvignon, because it's the first Californian wine that I really liked.

I was so happy :) - I'm always happy when people enjoy the food, and everyone seemed enthusiastic about everything, which is very nice :) And it was nice to talk altogether, in this mixed Spanish/English/Italian language that we came up with :)

I will probably put a few more pictures of the dinner on my picture website, soon.


s.j.simon said...

:) did you know how cheese was invented? It wasnt necessity, it was an accident, read this

Il matto said...

Ma questo รจ un cenone a 27 portate! Un lavorone immane!!
Cascato qui quasi per caso e trovando comunione di interessi, ti linko.
Il matto