The big 200 and an Italian feast

So it’s my 200th post! Very exciting. I haven’t been swimming in a little while as I’ve had a cold so I’m going to try, from next week, to swim 200 lengths in honour of it. Not all at once. I’ll try a bit each day. I need to do 30 each day, right? Wish me luck!

I’ve got lots of birthdays and excitement this week so am going to give it til Monday to start the challenge. Thanks for staying with me or joining me along the way. It has been lots and lots of fun. To celebrate this milestone and to embrace my recent trip to Italy and in honour of seeing a friend for the first time in ages, I prepared an Italian feast!

I got a beautiful cookbook the other day. The most beautiful cookbook I’ve ever seen.

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It’s full of Venetian recipes and the antipasti section is amazing. In an effort to impress, I insisted on making one of everything!

I finished work at 3pm and had timetabled in when to start everything so that I’d be ready by 7pm. I suddenly realised, at 3.35pm, that I didn’t have almonds for the cantuccini biscuits. I set my white wine and white wine vinegar and juniper berries to boil (for the pickled chicory) then I quickly grabbed my purse and ran down to the shop. I got the almonds and ran back to the house…. When I said ‘I quickly grabbed my purse’, that’s exactly what happened. I grabbed my purse AND NOTHING ELSE! I was locked out. There was no-one else with keys who would be back before 6pm. We had taken the spare key from the next door neighbour because it didn’t work anymore, it was always getting stuck. We kept meaning to get another cut, but didn’t. O no! The next door neighbour walked by and I explained my predicament. We went in her garden to see if I could climb over her fence into my garden and try and figure a way to get in. It’s not really a climb-over-able fence so I was stuck outside, pan boiling inside, on a tight schedule for preparing dinner, with no way into the house.

We eventually got in but another neighbour played a very risky game of almost falling through a roof to do so and it all took about an hour. I was VERY behind schedule.

When I was back in the kitchen, I pickled my chicory, made my duck stock, grilled my aubergines and dressed my rocket. I was back on track. As I was whizzing the almonds in my food processor for the cantuccini, it popped and stopped working! This was NOT on my schedule! It wouldn’t have been a very big deal had I not needed to whizz the duck breast fillets for my duck and porcini mushroom meatballs. My only option was my handheld whizzer thing. You know the type that you stick in a pot of soup to whizz all the lumps out?

So there I was, with a handheld whizzer thing, trying to whizz duck breasts. I got it done in the end but it wasn’t easy and bits of mashed up raw duck kept flying about and sticking to my face and arms.

I threw together an apparently Italian drink, minus the alcohol – elderflower cordial with mint, lemon and ice, then topped up with ginger beer.

I was nervous about attempting the Carta di Musica (music paper) as it needed to be rolled really really thin. It’s basically a paper thin cracker made with semolina. It went surprisingly well. I had some rocket and walnut pesto I had made that morning and after grilling some aubergines with parmesan, mozzarella and basil then rolling them up, I was almost ready to go. I just wrapped the end of a few grissini sticks in salami and pickled chicory and stuck them in a glass, put some dressed rocket into the braesola and rolled it up and put some truffle butter in a dish and we sat down and dug in. (Yes, you heard me right, truffle butter! I finally got some! And it was totally worth it.)

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At this point, I noticed that the caster sugar was on the side, unopened and realised that in my panic over the food processor breaking while I was making cantuccini, I had forgotten to put the sugar in! What I had was a savory almond dough! I whipped the biscuits out of the oven and binned them then mixed some sugar into my remaining dough. It didn’t really mix in very well though. I just wrapped the dough in clingfilm, fridged it and hoped for the best.

Next was the main course. We had a parmigiana, a roast tomato risotto, a duck and porcini meatball in a duck stock and tomato sauce, and scallops and pancetta on a bed of minty pea stuff.

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The parmigiana looks quite large and intimidating, I didn’t realise that when I cut it!

After eating everything and having a bit of chitchat and sneaking another meatball or two, it was time to address the cantuccini disaster. I cut my dough into six pieces and put it in the oven. It did not go well. Because there wasn’t enough dry stuff in the mixture, it didn’t bake hard enough. It also wasn’t sweet enough. I made us espressos in a percolator, which were really strong, and we dipped our biscuits in.

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I felt a bit feeble, with my savory, slightly soft almond thingys. So I implemented a back up plan. There was ice cream in the freezer! Mascapone, cherry and pistachio. Score! The dinner was rescued and we tucked in.

All in all, a success, I think.

Happy 200th post to me! What a fabulous way to celebrate.

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29 responses to this post.

  1. I have never seen this book before. It looks very interesting!

    Reply

  2. Happy 200th! 200 lengths outdoors…. Nearly October……?? I’ll wait to hear how it goes but sooner you than me!

    Reply

  3. Congrats on your 200th post–what a milestone! And that cookbook looks very unique.

    Reply

  4. wow very exciting indeed! 200 posts is a lot of words πŸ™‚ and your meal looks FANTASTIC! I think one thing not working out of all that stuff is pretty good odds. I don’t think I could make any of that. and you’re right… that cookbook is gorgeous!

    Reply

    • The once beautiful cookbook now has large grubby fingerprints on it but I’m convincing myself that it’s ok because it looks loved. A lot of the stuff on the pics, the antipasti for example, doesn’t need much cooking, it’s just a case of taking the time to put it together. I dare you to try it. Thanks for the congratulations too, I thought I would have died a slow writer’s-block death or got bored by now! Yet still I linger!

      Reply

  5. FAB U LOUS! Yum yum and yum. I want some of those meatballs! I love when you cook and shop πŸ™‚ What is Rocket?

    Reply

    • Rocket is a green salady leafy thing. Have a look at this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eruca_sativa. It gives you the full SP and some pics.

      Reply

    • I guess you noticed Rambler5319’s comment about rocket. It’s a peppery tasting salad leaf, small and dark green, I guess it’s called something different there? The meatballs were great. I slightly adapted the recipe as I couldn’t find confit duck legs that weren’t already in a sauce. So I used mini breast fillets and it was amazing! I can send you the recipe if you want, you should definitely make them one day.

      Reply

  6. Posted by pamasaurus on September 26, 2012 at 21:56

    Happy 200 posts!

    that recipe book is gorgeous!

    Reply

  7. Happy 200th, what a nice post to celebrate with πŸ™‚

    Reply

  8. […] her blog and search the word “truffle” and then read what this woman cooks. I read the Italian feast post and started gnawing on my computer screen. Thanks Lazy Laura Maisey, now get back to picking up the […]

    Reply

  9. Congratulations! 200!!! No wonder you sound proud and quite rightly so. And I have written my 25th today (in just 2 month) – is that a reason to ‘celebrate’ as well? Of course – only we ran out of vino!, Your articles make me smile, thank you. Ciao Carina

    Reply

    • I’m glad you enjoyed my food chat. I blog every morning, I really enjoy the routine of getting up and doing it before I do anything else. So 200 posts sounds like a lot but only represents about 6 months worth of blogging. I’m enjoying it a lot though.

      Reply

  10. […] Yesterday, two of my favourite friends came over. One had just handed in two peices of work, which signalled the end of her dissertation. The other is half Italian. I therefore went crazy on the organising front and decided to make a feast of epic proportions, much like the last time someone came for dinner. […]

    Reply

  11. I’m just a guy with a poetic reply…

    Congratulations on your two hundredth post,
    Compared to me I see that you have the most.
    You write lots of neat stuff,
    Without any puff,
    Two hundred entries is something to toast.

    Compliments of Humorous Interludes
    http://ronyaroshauthor.com/

    Reply

  12. Congrats on making it 200. You live an exciting dramatic life with your Italian recipe book. They should make a movie based on this scenario with you the star.

    Reply

  13. […] yes I did. To celebrate having done 200 posts, I cooked a big Italian feast with all the recipes taken from Polpo’s cookbook which, by the way, is the most beautiful […]

    Reply

  14. […] I see. Hasn’t this happened to you before? Yes. I had a pan on the hob at the time, pickling some chicory. There was no spare set of keys that time so I had to break into the house. This time, however, I […]

    Reply

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