Menu: An Italian Fair
Imagine the rolling hills of Tuscan countryside, magnificent cypresses, fields and fields of blooming poppy seeds and that magical light similar to the one we have in coastal California. The inspiration for this dinner was my recent trip to Italy. I spent four magnificent days in the kitchen of Chef Giuliano Hazan, alongside other Americans. The classes were held in one of the most beautiful settings I’ve ever experienced: a medieval villa situated in the Italian countryside among the vineyards of Valpolicella region. After the completion of classes, my husband and I went on to explore some of the most recognizable culinary places in Italy – Lake Garda, Venice, Florence and Chianti wine region. Each course on this menu is inspired by the taste of Italy. I would need an entire separate chapter to express our love for Italian wine. As a result I have recommended two of our favorite wines to pair with each of the courses. Mange!
For some easy hors d’oeuvres – store-bought Prosciutto di Parma and Toscana Salami from Hudson Valley, cut into savory paper-thin slices.
For a crunchy bite, try the Seared Shrimp in Endive Leave with Parsley Sauce. The canoe-shaped leaves serve as a vessel keeping the precious cargo on board — succulent juicy shrimp with light parsley sauce.
For an appetizer, my version of the Summer Tomato Terrine is reminiscent in its flavors of a classic Caprese Salad with basil, tomato and fresh mozzarella.
The abundance of this summer’s perfectly ripe, sweet tomatoes is molded into this beautiful Tomato Terrine, served with a simple Arugula Salad and a slice of soft, creamy Burrata cheese, which literally means “buttered” in Italian. Finish the dish with some spicy extra-virgin olive oil and thick, aged balsamic vinegar- the golden condiment of this dish!
My Prime Rib is reminiscent of Steak Florentine, which has a similar texture and herbal profile and simplicity of ingredients. If you are a meat lover this dish is truly for you. Dijon mustard is the binding force for the herbal notes of the marinade, which slightly flavor the meat without overpowering it. The wine sauce is so simple you don’t even need to thicken it with the flour.
Serve the meat alongside the lemony Green Beans with Shallots, Thyme & Shiitake Mushrooms and simple Herb-Roasted Potatoes as a side dish.
You know it’s summer when you can inhale the intoxicating smell of fresh strawberries while strolling past local food markets. Take advantage of the seasonal fragrantly sweet and succulent strawberries; work them into this beautiful summer dessert — Strawberry Pistachio Semifreddo. A match made in heaven, this dessert is refreshingly sweet and crunchy at the same time. Every bite of this frozen goodness carries the combination of light strawberry ice-cream filled with pistachios mousse. A slice of Semifreddo with fresh halved strawberries and semi-sweet dessert wine, such as Tokaji Aszu from Hungary is just heavenly.