Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cena italiana # 3

The "experiments in Italian cooking" series continued yesterday.

La tavola

For Antipasto we had bruschetta. (I am not sure I have ever heard a server in any restaurant pronounce this correctly. The "sch" before "e" or "i" has the sound of "sk," just as it does in the English word "school." English-speakers will come close if they pronounce it as Bruce+Kate+Ta, with that "ta" as in "tata for now," accent on KATE. Of course, it you order it that way you may get an uncomprehending stare.

Anyway, last night's was done the old-fashioned way, brushing slices of bread with olive oil and sticking them briefly under the boiler. The tomatoes used were freshly picked from Bill's garden. And cheers to Bill, the sous-chef, who did lots of chopping and stirring for the meal.

Primi consisted of risotto al radicchio, a dish we had in Florence. It turned out really well and I am eager to have risotto more often. This is the fourth time I have made it and it is so very good, well worth the half hour one spends stirring it constantly. It's not fast food by any means but it certainly has moved into my personal category of comfort food.

For Secondi we had Marcella Hazan's drunken pork roast. The pork is "larded" with carrot sticks and cooks in wine for three hours. I added some baby bella mushrooms, sauteed zucchini, and a few slices of Bill's tomatoes.

I picked these grapes from my vine just before the meal. They are small but very sweet and we polished them off by the end of the meal.

The ricotta cake with lemon zest and juice in it. A thin cake with a lovely crumb. We had slices of it with mixed fresh berries.

There were many empty wine bottles in the trash at the end of the evening and I was very gratified to have pulled this off, especially given that I had a tooth ache all day. What a fun way to learn new recipes and techniques!

--the BB


Phil Freyder said...

Prodigious, as always, Paul.


· When making a bruschetta, do you cut the fresh tomato in half and rub the open side of the tomato against the oiled and broiler-warmed bread? Are there other ingredients?

· What is lemon zest?

Grandmère Mimi said...

Pablito, the food looks gorgeous, and I'll bet it tasted heavenly. That you did it all (with help from Bill) nursing a sore tooth is a wonder. I'm sure the wine helped to get you over the hump - so to speak.

Paul said...

Let's just say I'm glad I was not driving and I had more wine than usual, purely for medicinal purposes, of course.

Cathy said...

Mmmmmm, sounds yum ... Table looks lovely with the napkins and flowers arranged just so. I have never had risotto al radicchio ... must try. I rate Marcella Hazan and quite often use her book.

wv paptatis - adventures in Greek cooking?

Paul said...

Cathy, the risotto al radicchio is in the Marcella's kitchen book. Cooking takes the bitterness out of the radicchio and it adds an earthy flavor. I did not use as much radicchio as she calls for. I also was using a very diluted beef broth and next time I will make it a bit "beefier." It was heaven.

Fran said...

I am salivating over here... looks, sounds amazing! All of it!

Paul said...

Grazie, cara Francesca.

Paul said...

Phil, lemon zest is the yellow part of lemon rind, the part with all the essential oils and not the white underlayer that is bitter.

Bruschetta calls for the hot bread to be rubbed with a garlic clove that is cut in half. We cheated and just minced roasted garlic into the finely chopped tomato and torn basil (with salt and pepper), spooned the mixture onto the bread and added a drizzle of olive oil.

TheCunningRunt said...

I'm inclined to add minced raw garlic as well, "Vitamin G," as I call it. Rubbing is for lovers.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful repast, and sorry to be so late to the table!

Paul said...

You are welcome anytime, Ralph. I did a quick meal for my friend Kathy's birthday (with chocolate gelato). This Saturday another fairly simple Italian meal to celebrate friends who got married in DC.