An Italian Dinner from Antipasto to Dolce
Before she went country, City Girl spent a semester in Italy. That's actually how she met Country Boy, but this is a different story for a different day! While teaching preschool on a US Army base in Northern Italy, I had the privilege of taking an Italian Cooking Course taught by Italian Chefs Rosanna Sgro and Eric Grosshans. This isn't exactly country cooking, but I'm posting it due to popular demand.
Our menu for the night consists of an Antipasto (appetizer), a Primo (First Course, always pasta),a Secundo (Second Course, meat or fish) a Verdura (Side Dish, in this case a vegetable) and Dolce (Dessert). In Northern Italy, this meal would be served with a house red wine.
It's not all jam and preserves, grits and fried okra around here, so stay tuned for more Italian recipes inspired by our adventures in Italia.
Il Formaggio di Capra la Pruga Secca--Goat Cheese Stuffed Prunes
Chef Eric Grosshans also calls this dish "The Pig that Ate the Goat the Ate the Prune." Basically it's a goat cheese ball stuffed with a prune, wrapped in bacon and cooked in butter. It might sound like a revolting combination, but it's truly amazing. One note--if you only like your bacon crispy, you won't like this recipe! It's challenging to get the bacon crisp without melting the cheese.
- 6 pitted prunes
- 11 ounces soft goat cheese
- 6 thin slices of bacon
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- Remove goat cheese from refrigerator and slice into six 1" cubes. Roll each 1" cube into a ball. For each ball, press your thumb into the cheese to form an indentation, insert one prune, and close the cheese over the prune.
- Wrap each ball of cheese with one slice of bacon.
- Heat the butter in a small frying pan. Cook the bacon wrapped goat cheese, turning often, until the bacon is cooked through, about 8 minutes, but do not allow the cheese to melt!
- Remove from heat and serve immediately.
Tagliette with Homemade Ragu
To be truly authentic, you would make your own pasta. I plan to do a demonstration on homemade Tagliette soon, so check back for that. Making homemade pasta is fun because you get to say "I made that!" However, it's also very time consuming and labor intensive. And you can now by imported "Made in Italy" pasta at Marshalls, Home Goods, or TJ Maxx for just a few dollars a bag. And it tastes *almost* as good as homemade. So while making homemade pasta is probably more country, for tonight we'll pretend you alright made or bought your pasta and focus on the homemade Ragu.
- 1 chopped carrot
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 chopped celery stalk (omit this ingredient if you're me and despise cooked celery!)
- 2 ounces chopped bacon
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 1/3 pound ground beef
- 1/3 pound ground pork
- 1 cup red wine, divided
- 1 3/4 cup chicken broth, divided
- 1 Tablespoon ketchup
- 1 3/4 cup tomato sauce
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Combine onion, carrot, and celery in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
- Cook the chopped vegetables, bacon, and butter in a large stock pot or dutch oven. Saute for 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft and bacon is cooked.
- Add the ground beef and ground pork and continue to cook on medium high heat.
- Add 1/2 cup red wine and cook 2 additional minutes, then add 3/4 cup chicken broth.
- Continue cooking on medium high heat until liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
- Add the remaining 1/2 cup red wine, 1 cup chicken broth, and ketchup. Reduce the liquid for 15 minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce and simmer for 20 minutes more.
- Salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the flame to low and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When sauce is dense, serve over pasta and enjoy.
This dish is incredibly simple, uses very few ingredients, and tastes amazing. My kind of dish! The trick is to get the chicken very, very thin. This is my favorite recipe from the An Italian Dinner from Antipasto to Dolce collection. Make sure to cook the chicken thoroughly before adding the wine.
- 1.5 pounds sliced chicken breasts
- 4 Tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup Marsala or dry white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Pound chicken breasts flat with a mallet. This is most easily accomplished by placing the chicken breasts on a cutting board, placing a piece of parchment paper under the chicken and a second piece over the chicken, and pounding out all your frustration. A terrific recipe to make after an aggravating day!
- Coat both sides of chicken in flour.
- Melt butter in a hot nonstick skillet and cook chicken over high heat, 3 minutes per side or until cooked through.
- Add salt and pepper, Marsala and chicken broth. Cook until sauce thickens, about 8 minutes. Enjoy!
This recipe is always a sure-fire hit whenever I make it for company. You'll see in the pictures below I couldn't even snap a picture before the poor thing was nearly demolished! This is the masterpiece, showstopper of the collection. Mixing marscapone cheese with heavy whipping cream gives the tiramisu it's creamy texture, and is the secret of my delicious tiramisu. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Note: if you don't see ladyfingers for sale at your favorite supermarket, ask the bakery department. They often have them in the back and are happy to sell them to you!
- 1 package ladyfingers
- 3 cups Marscapone cheese
- 1.5 cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup Italian coffee or espresso, chilled
- Cacao powder for dusting the top
- Blend the eggs and sugar. Add the marscapone cheese and whisk until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, whip the cream. Fold the whipped cream into the marscapone mixture. Stir until just combined--be delicate!
- Dip the ladyfingers into the chilled espresso. This is easiest when the espresso is very cold. I chill mine in the freezer.
- Place dipped ladyfingers into the bottom of a greased Pyrex baking dish to form one layer of ladyfingers.
- Cover the ladyfingers with half of the marscapone and whipped cream mixture.
- Repeat steps 3-5.
- Sprinkle with cacao.
- Place in the refrigerator and chill at least 5 hours or overnight. Serve and impress your friends and family with your amazing Italian Tiramisu!