Friday, April 9, 2010

Italian Night

Saturday, February 27, 2010
Hosted by: Nicole and Jerel
Theme: Italian

The chilly month of February seemed the perfect occasion to pretend that we were all somewhere slightly more exotic... and warmer. Thus, Italian night was created!

We started off the evening with a tantalizing antipasto platter, complete with homemade pepperoni bread. This bread gets an enthusiastic 12 thumbs up from the group!

Pepperoni Bread
Courtesy of: Sarah and Brad

1 lb. bread dough. (From your local bakery, homemade, or from the grocery store)
1 stick pepperoni (sliced)
16 oz. Part Skim Mozzarella (thinly sliced)
1 egg
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tsp oregano
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Crack egg into small dish and mix with a fork
  • Grease a cookie sheet
  • Roll out dough into a long rectangle and place on baking sheet
  • Spread minced garlic onto bread
  • Sprinkle with Oregano
  • Salt & pepper as you see fit
  • Cover with slices of cheese & pepperoni
  • Starting with one of the long sides of the rectangle, roll up the dough
  • Seal edge with egg wash
  • Brush the top of the bread with the egg wash
  • Cut a few diagonal slits in the top of the bread
  • Bake for 30 mins
  • Let cool, slice & serve
recipe courtesy of

The main event was a delicious lasagna, prepared by Nicole and Jerel, which included grass-fed beef from a local market. Mmm! Our side dishes were equally tasty.

Eggplant Parcels
Courtesy of: Erin and Matt

2 large, long eggplant
8 oz mozzarella cheese
2 plum tomatoes
16 large basil leaves
salt & ground black pepper
2 T olive oil

1/4 c olive oil
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 T sun-dried tomato paste
1 T lemon juice

2 T toasted pine nuts
torn basil leaves
  • Remove the stems from the eggplant and cut the eggplant lengthwise into thin slices- the aim is to have a total of 16 slices, disregarding the first and last (each about 1/4 in. thick).
  • Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and cook the eggplant slices for about 2 minutes, until just softened. Drain the sliced eggplant, then dry on paper towels.
  • Cut the mozzarella cheese into eight slices. Cut each tomato into eight slices, not counting the first and last slices.
  • Take two eggplant slices and place on an ovenproof baking sheet or dish in a cross. Place a slice of tomato in the center, season with salt and pepper, then add a basil leaf, followed by a slice of mozzarella, another basil leaf, a slice of tomato, and more seasoning.
  • Fold the ends of the eggplant slices around the filling to make a neat parcel. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients to form eight parcels. Chill the parcels for about 20 minutes.
  • To make the tomato dressing, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, sun-dried tomato paste, and lemon juice. Season to taste.
  • Preheat the broiler. Brush the parcels with olive oil and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until golden. Serve hot, with the dressing, sprinkled with pine nuts and basil.
recipe from "Mediterranean: Food of the Sun" by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow

Zucchini Ribbons with Goat Cheese
Courtesy of: Sarah and Brad

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely minced shallot
1 clove garlic, finely minced, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 large zucchini, sliced into long ribbons using a vegetable peeler, discarding the seedy core
1/4 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
2 1/2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat until the butter melts; cook and stir the shallot until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes; cook and stir until the garlic softens and releases its fragrance, about 3 more minutes. Pour in the chicken broth and zucchini ribbons, and cook, lightly stirring, until the chicken broth has come to a boil and the zucchini strips are cooked through but not mushy, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with finely sliced basil leaves and crumbled goat cheese.

recipe courtesy of

For our final course, Nicole and Jerel served up a scrumptious lemon-olive oil cake. Topped with berries and homemade whipped cream, it was the perfect way to end the evening.

Lemon and Olive Oil Cake
Courtesy of: Nicole and Jerel

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for greasing the pan
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
1 cup cake flour
5 egg yolks
4 egg whites
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, adjust rack to middle position. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with oil, line the bottom with parchment paper and oil it.

Finely zest entire lemon and whisk zest together with flour. Halve and squeeze the lemon and reserve 3 tablespoons of juice.

With an electric mixer and large bowl, beat yolks and 1/2 cup sugar at high speed until pale and thick, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add 3/4 cup olive oil and lemon juice, beating until combined (mixture may appear separated). Fold in flour mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined.

With an electric mixer, whisk egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon salt on medium high speed until foamy. Continue whisking and slowly add 1/4 cup sugar until egg whites hold soft peaks, about 2-3 minutes. Gently fold one third of whipped whited into yolk mixture to lighten, and then fold the remaining whites until just combined.

Pour batter into springform pan and release air bubbles by gently tapping pan against work surface. Evenly sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar over the top of the batter. Bake until the top is golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Place on rack and cool in pan for 10 minutes, run a thin knife around edge of pan and release springform. Cool cake to room temperature, remove parchment and serve with fresh whipped cream and berries.

recipe courtesy of Sprinkle with Salt

Next month: Comfort food...with a twist!

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