In this months article we are going to explore menu planning. It’s no secret that Glenn and I love to cook Italian. The traditional Italian menu can be quite lengthy. It starts with an Apertivo (Aperitif), Antipasti (appetizer), Zuppa (soup), Insalata (salad), Primo (first course), Secondo (second course or main course), Cortorno (side dish), Formaggio e frutta, (cheese and fruit), Dolce (dessert). Caffe (coffee) and finishes with a Digestivo or Amazzacaffe (liquor or literally coffee killer).
The typical meal can last hours with family or friends enjoying each others company. You can begin to understand why we like this type of meal. The trick is to make each course small so it’s not overwhelming.
Cooking with the Glenn’s donated a dinner for six to a Gaston Hospice Silent Auction a few months ago and on March 20th we prepared for the big night. We had met with Brenda and Elizabeth a few weeks earlier to discuss the menu and make plans for the evening. Arriving around 2 p.m. we started our preparations at their house.
The table was set beautifully and we went to work preparing our Mise en Place for our evening’s menu. We had brought all of our gear to prepare the meal, and all of our fresh ingredients.
We started with lemon drop martini’s as our Apertivo and an Amuse-Bouche (entertainment for the mouth) of polenta with a layer of Spec topped with a ragout of wild mushroom in cream. From there we moved into a trio of Antipasto of arancini, fried zucchini and stuffed mushrooms with a Prosecco toast to the evening. We served Zuppa di Vongole, a rich tomato and clam stew and then a fresh Caprese Insalata, tomato, basil and mozzarella with parmesan popovers hot out of the oven.
Our Primo was Ravioli di Ricotta e Funghi, a half moon ravioli made from fresh pasta stuffed with cheese and mushroom in a butter sage sauce. Glenn had prepared beautiful rosemary bread that filled the whole house with its fragrance. Our Secondo was Hammin alla Toscana, this is a meatloaf made with beef, lamb and ricotta cheese its cooked in a white bean tomato stew. It is a dish Glenn and I first tried when we visited Tuscany and were so impressed we brought it back to Belmont with us. Our Cotorno was sautéed broccollini.
The group was really starting to wind up as the wine and laughter flowed. In this menu we skipped the fruit and cheese course and moved into Dolce and Caffe. Glenn’s Tiramisu Black Bottom Tart was the perfect complement to a round of freshly made Cappuccinos’ and the final Amazzacaffe wrapped up the evening four hours later while Glenn and I cleaned the kitchen and packed up.
We would like to thank Brenda and Elizabeth and all their guests for a wonderful evening and the opportunity to serve such a worthy cause.
Until next time Ciao
Glenn & Glenn