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.
What could be better than an apple cake made with handpicked apples from the Valley? An electric mixer. Seriously. Go buy one NOW.
I grabbed this Versunkener Apfelkuchen (German apple cake) recipe from Epicurious, but gave it a didn’t-have-it-in-the-cupboard twist. For one thing, I used whole wheat flour because that’s all I had. Also, I had only 2 lbs of apples, not 3.
Most of the apples are from a tree in Chad and Lindsay’s yard. They were small and dark red and looked particularly tempting, so of course I had to pick them. When I ran out of the mystery apples, I used a few Honey Crisp and Jonagolds sitting on the counter. These were local too.
Any satisfaction I felt about using handpicked apples evaporated with each whisk and stir. An electric mixer would’ve made it far less taxing on the arm. Baking should not be a sport. I shouldn’t have to suffer for a meal. What’s wrong with spending $700 on a kitchen appliance even if that’s more than a mortgage payment?
But … I digress.
The glaze really finishes off this cake (I had no Bundt dish so used two regular pans). And the end result tastes as good as it looks.