Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cene italiane # 4 e 5

Sorry, folks, I don't have photos on the latest two, but I will report on food.

#4 was a last-minute birthday dinner for my friend Kathy. When I realized I would be out of town on her birthday, a party seemed necessary. I think we conferred on Wednesday and Friday night we dined. I got out the highly starched lemon yellow jacquard tablecloth and napkins, put red roses on the table and we partied. Well, I had a lot of wine that night, anyway. I made mushroom risotto, Bill brought fresh tomatoes from his yard for a stunning insalata caprese. I did a re-run on lemon chicken with wilted spinach. And incredible chocolate gelato.

#5 was last night. My friends Jon and Jack got married in DC earlier this year and my wedding present to them was some home cooking. Very upscale home cooking. LOL. Crostini spread with goat cheese and olive oil with green chiles and roasted garlic. Another mushroom risotto, this one including both dried wild mushrooms and fresh baby bella mushrooms (when did they stop calling them crimini?). This was very rich and wonderful. Sauteed chicken breasts in Marsala with wilted spring greens & minced orange pepper. Then lemon gelato that is light and tart and very lemony. Heaven.

This is the recipe I used last night. Killer result if you are a lover of tart lemon desserts, as I am. From Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan, p 614.

(To be prepared and frozen at least two hours in advance.)

The peel [zest] of 4 lemons with none of the white pith beneath, about 1/2 tightly packed cup.

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Put 1-1/2 cups water, the lemon peel, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. After 2 minutes, take off heat, remove the lemon peel, and pour the syrup into a bowl. Let it become completely cold.

2. Add the heavy cream, stirring to incorporate it evenly into the lemon syrup, then pour the mixture into your ice-cream maker and freeze it following the manufacturer's instructions. Store in the freezer in a tightly sealed container until you are ready to use it.

One thing to know about the lemon gelato recipe. It came out like a cross between soft-serve and very stiff whipped cream. So the texture is as light as the flavor is tart.

I am happy to report that the dishes from last night are all done and put away, including pots and pans, table silver, and wine glasses. Got two loads of shirts washed, dried, and hung up too. I feel at least somewhat ready for the work week.

--the BB