Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Italian Feast-- October Cook the Book

It's October. It's time to cook the book Italian Style courtesy of Marcella Hazan's The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. The cookbooks were chosen earlier this year, but this one turned out to be very timely, as Ms. Hazan passed away on September 29.

It's hard to cook Italian food for a small group, so we decided that we needed a mob! We recruited a few friends to come and eat dinner with us. The six of us were so eager to eat we didn't even stop to take "before" pictures, so you all get to see a bit of the unconventional. Six plates, in various states, from full to half-eaten.

Angela had to get this cookbook from J.K., who thought ahead and reserved it from the library (Angela did too, but her copy just wasn't going to show up in time). It's another book with few pictures (and those are line drawings) so it was a real toss up as to what to make for dinner. However, it was easy as 1, 2, 3 once we found the menu planners in the back of the book! Since J.K. was really excited about the dessert, why not make the 'A Rustic Menu  II' to go with it?! Brilliant.

Piadina- Flat Griddle Bread, p 641 and Sauteed Mixed Greens
with Olive Oil and Garlic
Pork Sausages with  Smothered Onions and Tomatoes, p 429
Shredded Carrot Salad, p 549
Baked Red Beets, p 558
Ciambella–Grandmothers Pastry Ring p 592 (served with Limoncello)

Plus Auxillary Recipes
 Polenta, 274 (with butter and aged gouda)
 Orange and Cucumber Salad p 552
 Banana and Rum Gelato p 611


TWO- clockwise- cucumber salad, roasted beets, greens, carrot salad, sausage with polenta and sauce


FOUR-clockwise-Polenta, carrot salad, griddle bread, beets, cucumber salad, sausage w/ sauce and greens


Our group had some great conversation, lots of laughter and delish Italian food. One guest said this was her most favorite Italian meal ever--because it featured a lot of vegetables and No pasta. Hey, Angela was a bit worried about the no pasta deal, but polenta was an awesome mix with the tomato-ey saucey goodness from the sausage (which was a fancy beef/pork splurge from the local FM). Additionally, Angela chose to change up the recipes for the Piadina (using wheat flour), plus she  subbed some of the 3 greens that went with the recipe. Raddichio, spinach and beet tops ended up in the pot and the greens turned out great, even though Angela felt she was pouring all the nutrients down the drain after boiling them.

Stephanie brought the Cucumber and Orange salad and it was just right, even though the weather outside was a bit chill. To combat the temperature we drank wine (mulled or straight) and a bit of limoncello brought by our dessert guru, J.K. Speaking of dessert, the pastry ring was a bit like a scone in texture and paired perfectly with the gelato. (Yes J.K. broke out the ice cream maker again, it's earning its keep after all these years.) Angela had something special tucked away as well, and this seemed the perfect time to break it out. No dessert is complete without chocolate, so we topped our treat with Chocolate Wine Sauce from the Coppola Winery collection. Delightful!

Pastry Ring with Banana Rum Gelato smothered in Chocolate Wine Sauce  PERFECTION

*Angela asked for this cookbook as a Christmas gift--the recipes are easy and give great taste! The salads are simple and full of flavor! Check it out!