Posts Tagged ‘music paper’

An Italian feast – the carb light version

On Wednesday it was Halloween. Last year on Halloween, I got some sweets in and waited for the kids to come trick-or-treating.

They didn’t come.

I ate the sweets.

Apparently the thing you’re supposed to do is put something Halloweeny in the window or somewhere visible, to show you’re in on the fun. So this year, I got a few little pumpkins, put them in the window and planned to bake some goodies, flapjacks or something.

Well, then I got cooking for dinner as I had a friend coming over and didn’t get time to bake goodies for the kids, so good job no-one knocked! (I think I might be feeling a bit offended though. Why didn’t they want my sweeties?)

So I was back in the kitchen with my favourite cookbook, Polpo, by Russell Norman. My friend and I are both ex-Dukaners so try to not to go too mad on carbs. I definitely don’t avoid them, you can’t really, when eating like an Italian, but I just try not to have loads of them.

The antipasti was the carb-heavy part but I kept it out of the mains. Here’s the antipasti plate.

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Top centre are my signature grissini sticks, wrapped in prosciutto and pickled chicory. To the left are music paper crackers. To the right is one of my favourite things in life ever, truffle butter, and just behind that, black truffle oil. In the white dish to the left is homemade basil pesto, in which I used pecorino and black truffle oil. Right at the front, the little pink squares are ham hock terrine and to the left are cherry tomatoes with a little shred of mozzarella and some torn basil on the top, then sprinkled with truffle salt. In the middle are little crostinis with ricotta, mint and broad bean on half of them and goat’s cheese, roasted walnut and grape drizzled with white truffle oil and thyme on the other.

For the mains, they unfortunately don’t photograph well so I will just have to tell you about them. I made a parmigiana with aubergines and courgettes, in which I used fresh basil and oregano where I usually use dried as the flavour is more concentrated. After having used just fresh this time, I think I will go back to using dried as the lovely oregano smells you usually get with a parmigiana definitely weren’t as strong. I also made a duck, black olive and tomato ragu which was far tastier than I expected. You spend about two and a half hours just slowly cooking the tomato sauce so the flavours are really strong and lovely. I also steamed some kale, spinach and fresh basil together as a side dish.

The dessert was vanilla panna cotta with blackberry coulis on top.

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I also made something called a chocolate salami for having with the espressos I decided were a good idea at 9.30pm.

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It is chocolate with egg yolks whipped into it, with crushed up sponge fingers, chopped dried fruit and loads of nuts. You just fridge set it until it is hard enough to cut in slices and have as little biscuits.

We then proceeded to have a super long chat about my visit to Mr Red Wine’s house. I must just add that I washed quite thoroughly, thirteen times, in between visiting Mr Red Wine and preparing this food!

An Italian feast – the vegetarian version

I must apologise in advance as I forgot to take photos of the antipasti before we dug in and devoured it all… Oops!

After my last post about food, which was posted to Facebook, a friend I haven’t seen in a while read it and jokingly asked to come to dinner in a “You-can-invite-me-to-dinner-anytime,” kind of way. Spotting an opportunity to prepare another feast, I responded with a genuine invitation. Another friend was invited and the date was fixed. I had a day off so scheduled my day around preparing the food.

We decided to go vegetarian as one of the party doesn’t eat meat and I couldn’t be bothered to do two sets of food.

And so the fun began.

I started by making the tiramisu slightly wrong by whisking the sugar with the egg whites instead of the yolks. I just kind of put it all together and fridged it and hoped it would taste fine. Then I made little things called Esse biscuits, which are quite specific to Venice, although why a biscuit shaped like an S should be Venetian is beyond me.

Then I ploughed on through the grissini, the music paper, the pesto, the gnocchi, the soup, the lentil dish and some salads. It was 3.30pm, two and a half hours before my guests would arrive. So I did what any reasonable person would do at that point. I had a nap.

I woke up about 5pm and dived back into the kitchen, spearing mozzarella and basil, toasting (burning) bread and taking the truffle butter out of the fridge.

After a little help with directions, my friends arrived, one of them taking charge of toasting new bread as I couldn’t seem to stop burning things.

So the antipasti was grissini, music paper, truffle butter, pesto, bruscette with ricotta, broad bean and mint, more bruscette with roasted grape and thyme, roasted walnuts, and goat’s cheese. O, and a white bean houmous-type thing, which was unexpectedly delicious. I just used some tinned cannellini beans and heated them gently in a pan with a bit of water, an onion, some bay leaves and a bit of olive oil. Then I removed a few beans, whizzed what was left and left it on a low heat to thicken. I put it in a bowl once finished and put the beans I had removed back on top with a little lemon and white truffle oil.

As mentioned earlier, I only afterward remembered to get a photograph of the antipasti. Here it is.

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Yep. That’s all that was left to photograph by the time I remembered…..

Next up was the mains.

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A panzanella, which was well received. In case you are unfamiliar with a panzanella, it’s a bread and tomato salad, basically. It’s one of those things that I’ve had a few times and it’s been pretty average. A nice homemade panzanella, though, is well worth the effort.

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Here we have; bottom left, a chickpea, fennel and leek soup; above that, the white bean houmous; front right, gnocchi in a cavolo nero sauce; top middle, a zucchini, basil and rocket salad.

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There was also this vegetable lentil dish dressed with basil oil and mozzarella.

Once we’d eaten all that, we were stuffed and couldn’t even think about dessert. No, honestly! I can’t fit a single thing in! I’m so full. I need a while to let it all go down. What’s that? You’re getting the dessert out? Just to look at? Ok. O… Well, maybe I’ll just have a little try….

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Baked figs on the left and tiramisu in the glasses on the right. We obviously scoffed them. I admitted my sugar-in-the-egg-whites mistake but it was generally agreed that we couldn’t tell. 

Next we had coffee and the Esse biscuits.

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A discussion about the film version of Roald Dahl’s The Witches then took up the remainder of the evening and I went to bed dreaming of being turned into a mouse….