As of November 1st Terra’s all Nova Scotia diet finally came to an end. We decided to celebrate by inviting the gang over for a multi-course, all night Italian feast like no other we’ve hosted. As luck would have it, the selected night also coincided with a visit from our dear friend Adriana Palanca. What a way to welcome back food.
On the big day we had a ton to do. Shopping at the market, booze, dishes and glasses to pick up, lunch and finally a full afternoon in the kitchen. Bliss! Once home Terra made a fresh batch of her expert apple sauce and jarred it up for take-home gifts. In the kitchen Adriana and I made pasta and tomato sauce. With that done there were vegetables to prep, the antipasto platter to build and two chickens to tie-up. I knew the night of food would go late so the invite was for 5pm. I was only setting the table as NickPick and Doug showed.
We kept the food coming steadily trying to leave enough time between courses for wine refills, burps and the hope of digestion. By evening’s end we ate five courses, two less than I would have liked, but for 10 people we did some damage. The true sign of a successful dinner party here is when Doug says he’s so full he’s getting angry. Which he did, and always as he plates more. What a guy. The others were no slouches either. But those who went for more lasagna gasped a bit when I showed off the two chickens and vegetables about to be roasted. They thought the lasagna was the meal. Bwahaha!
- Cannelloni beans and onions marinated in olive oil and wine vinegar on bread
- Olives and pickled mushrooms
- Prosciutto and various salumi
- Pecorino with aged balsamic
- Olives Ascolane (Fried stuffed olives)
- Roast chickens with sautéed carrots and roast beets with garlic
- Chad’s homemade pistachio ice cream (killer)
It all went down with help from insults, jokes, Italian beers, champagne, 10 bottles of wine and finally limoncello.
No one would disagree the culinary stars of the night were the stuffed olives and lasagna. Both Palanca inspired and made possible with her awesome help. We even put in a long distance call to Mama in NDG for live tips!
Adriana calls Olives Ascolane “little prayers” and here’s why. Originally from Ascoli Piceno, the recipe calls for each olive to be carefully opened to remove the pit and stuffed with incredibly fine, sautéed ground beef and olive meat. The olive is then reshaped,
rolled in fine bread crumbs and fried. No we didn’t make them! That would be insane. Fourtunetly I happen to have a source that keeps me well stocked. Serve them hot with a lemon wedge to complete the miracle.
The lasagna though, was entirely homemade. We made a seven egg and olive oil pasta
that was light and airy like linen. The thin sheets dried in the dining room for an hour before a quick boil. Together with the tomato sauce, we had 12 gorgeously thin layers, bubbling with cheese after an hour or so in the oven.
By 11pm the chickens hit the table. It had been about an hour break since the last course and with all the wine going around we were ready to eat again. I seem to recall Chad and Shawn saying they were actually hungry. Nice! The closers were bowls of smooth, cool ice cream, made by Chad, which completely hit the spot. A fine ending.
This was easily our best dinner party yet. We celebrated Terra’s will power to eat local for a month and welcomed back to the table what she missed the most; olive oil, salt, pepper, citrus and pasta. Thankfully we had friends on hand willing to endure over seven hours of eating and who still asked for seconds.
There’s an old saying. When something is this easy, you’d be remiss to not at least try. Or something like that. Regardless, this sexy little garlic bread recipe is that good and that easy.
- 2 regular or panini style baguettes
- 4-6 cups arugula
- 1 package of goat’s cheese (crumbled)
- 2 sticks of butter (room temperature)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp white wine
- 2 tbsp chives (chopped)
- 2 tbsp arugula (chopped)
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme
- Half a lemon zested and also use that half for juice
- Salt & Pepper
It’s nice to have a stand mixer around for whipping the garlic butter but it’s not essential. Also, you can add whatever herbs you want, but the ones listed above do taste great.
- Preheat your oven’s broiler.
- Add the butter to the mixer and start running it on a slow speed. Once it’s whipped up a bit, add all the herbs, wine, lemon zest and juice and the salt & pepper. Increase the speed to high and let it go for a few minutes. You’re looking for a light, airy, whipped butter. (Great on fish or steak too!)
- Cut the breads length wise all the way so there are four halves.
- Spread the butter all over. Use a lot so it soaks in!
- Place them on a cookie sheet and put them under the broiler. Watch them so they don’t burn!
- When the breads are browned and the butter is bubbling take them out but keep the broiler on.
- Put on the goats cheese, covering the breads all over, then place them back under the broiler long enough so the cheese melts a bit.
- Take the breads out and pile on the arugula. Crack a little pepper on top, maybe drizzle on a little extra virgin olive oil.
That, my friends, is as easy as it gets. Now make out with this bread.