March 1, 2010

... Italian Night

Immensely long blog alert!  Immensely long blog alert!  It's a long one, but I promise you, if you make it to the end, you'll have 6 new recipes!  And that's totally worth it, right?

February's supper club was Girls Night and, boy, the guys really missed out!  Lexie led the way with a tasty, warm shrimp bruschetta app and Kate was in charge of the main dish, delicious chicken spidini.

Lindsay made two different kinds of homemade bread that would rival any bakery in town.  I tossed up a fresh, green Italian salad and Kerstin stuffed us even more with decadent chocolate cannoli.

Needless to say, we ate very well... and you can, too!  Check out all the recipes below!

Shrimp Bruschetta
1 1/2 pounds shrimp (peeled and de-veined)
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 large minced shallot
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 handful fresh basil, chopped
2/3 cup white wine, worthy of drinking
olive oil
s & p

In a large bowl combine shrimp, cherry tomatoes, shallot, and garlic.  Lightly coat with olive oil and s & p.

While the shrimp is basking in the fragrant shallot, garlic and tomato, slice your baguette.  The shrimp is going to be served on the bread.

Get a large pan that isn't afraid to get hot and heat the oil on high.  Carefully pour the ingredients in the pan and cook 3 - 3 1/2 minutes; stir if you feel like it, or don't.  After that approximate time is up, add the wine.  This is going to add depth to this light dish (you'll understand when you take the first bite) and de-glaze the pan.  Take the heat down to medium high, add the lemon (catch those seeds), and finish cooking the shrimp.  You're looking for the opaqueness to turn a whitish pink.  Transfer to a large platter with the baguette slices, sprinkle with basil and serve hot.

Lexie's Notes:
I was a little hesitant to bring this to supper club, but it worked out well to bring everything prepared and marinated so that all was left was the sauteing.  Four Foodies recommends serving this on soft bread, and I have to agree.  It really soaks up the yummy sauce.

Chicken Spidini with Amogio Sauce
Chicken Spidini:
6 chicken breast halves, skinned and boned
1 1/2 sticks butter
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 cups Italian bread crumbs
1 tablespoon paprika

In a large skillet, cook garlic in butter 2-3 minutes.  Mix bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt and pepper (to taste).  Pound chicken and cut into 2" wide strips.  Dredge chicken in garlic butter then into breadcrumbs. Press breadcrumbs into both sides of chicken and roll and secure with toothpicks.  Place rolled chicken breasts in glass baking dish.  Sprinkle with paprika and bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Amogio sauce:
Remaining garlic butter
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
dried basil
red pepper flakes
salt & pepper
lemon wedges

Heat pan containing remaining garlic butter and add wine and lemon juice.  Cook 2-3 minutes.  Add olive oil and seasonings to taste.  Reduce sauce by 1/2 the volume.  Serve sauce warm in a small pitcher for the chicken.  Garnish the chicken with lemon wedges and fresh parsley.

Kate's Notes:
This dish can also be made with red sauce.  Any jar of red diavolo sauce will do, but I thought Paul Newman's was yummy.  

I bought chicken breast strips so they were already pretty thin and required less pounding (which means less work!).  For the five of us, I bought 2 packages of chicken and ended up with 8 strips, which made about 16 spidini and we had leftovers... each of us probably ate 2 spidini.

This is a 'signature dish' of one of our good family friends, so I knew it would be good!  Thanks Everett! :)

Italian Bread
The Master Recipe: Boule (Artisan Free-Form Loaf) Makes four 1-pound loaves
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour

Warm the water slightly - to about 100 degrees.

In a 5-quart bowl or in a resealable lidded (not airtight) plastic food container, add the yeast and the salt.  My mom stressed this to me - NO GLASS if possible.  I used a large plastic bowl and put the press-and-seal wrap around the bowl, but made sure that it wasn't super tight - I left one side unsealed.  My mom was just stressing how the bowls can break because of gases... not sure about all of that, but I wanted to make sure to note that! :)

Mix in the flour: Add all of the flour at once.  Mix with a wooden spoon, a high-capacity food processor (14 cups or larger) fitted with the dough attachment, or a heavy duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  I used a wooden spoon!  There's no reason to knead!  You're finished when everything is uniformly moist without dry patches.  This step is done in a matter of minutes.

Allow to rise: cover with a lid (not airtight!)  Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature for around 2 hours.  You can now use the dough at any time after this period.  Fully refrigerated dough is less sticky and is easier to work with.  If you're not ready to use the dough, put it in the fridge until you are!

Baking: The recipe calls for a pizza peel, which I do not own.  I used a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper instead.  First, prepare the pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal.  Sprinkle the surface of  your refrigerated dough with flour.  Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit size) piece of dough, using a serrated knife.  Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick to your hands.  Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom of all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.  Most of the dusting flour will fall off.  The bottom may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out and adhere during resting and baking.  The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive.  The entire process should take no more than 30-60 seconds.  I was nervous with my first one, but after the second one I got a lot more confident - so don't be scared! :)

Rest the loaf: place the shaped ball on the cornmeal-covered pizza peel.  Allow the loaf to rest on the peel for about 40 minutes.  (It doesn't need to be covered during this period.)

Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone placed on the middle rack.  Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.  Again, I don't own a baking stone or a broiler tray.  I simply used another cooking sheet with parchment and an old cake pan.  Just make sure it's something that can withstand heat and you're going to be placing water into it when the pan is hot, so probably no glass!

Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour and slash a 1/4 inch deep cross, scallop, or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top using a serrated bread knife.

After a 20 minute preheat you're ready to bake!  With a quick forward jerking motion of the wrist, slide the loaf off the pizza peel and onto the preheated baking stone.  Quickly but carefully pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch.  Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire rack.  Okay, you can only imagine my jerking motions and what not, so I didn't take a chance on sliding the loaf off of the pan - even though I think you should - I quickly transferred it!

Store remaining dough in the fridge and use it over the next 14 days.

Sun-dried Tomato and Parmesan Bread (makes 1 loaf)
Use one pound of the dough from the recipe above
olive oil for brushing
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

On baking day, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1 pound (grapefruit sized) piece.  Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball as you go.

Roll out the ball into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle.  Use flour to prevent from sticking to the work surface.  This doesn't say how big the rectangle should be.  I made mine as big as I could without getting it too thin.

Brush the dough with olive oil.  Scatter the sun-dried tomatoes evenly over the dough and sprinkle the cheese over the tomatoes.  Starting from the short end, roll the dough into a log and gently tuck the ends under to form an oval loaf.  Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 1 hour.  (or 40 minutes if you're using un-refrigerated dough)

Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone in the middle of the rack.  Place an empty broiler tray on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.  See recipe above for my replacements!

Brush the top of the dough lightly with olive oil and slash parallel cuts across the loaf, using a serrated bread knife.

Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone.  Pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until deeply browned and firm.

Allow to cool before slicing or eating.

Lindsay's Notes:
It was so much easier to include my notes in the steps above, but I'll tell you these breads were really easy to make... shocking, with as many steps as they have!  My mom sent me both of these from one of her new favorite cookbooks, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  

Italian Salad
1 head of Romaine lettuce
1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1/2 cup sliced peperoncini peppers
1/2 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
shredded parmesean cheese

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons (or more) good wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1 large shallot, cut into chunks

Combine all the ingredients except the shallot in a blender and turn the machine on; a creamy emulsion will form within 30 seconds.  Taste and add vinegar a teaspoon or two at a time until the balance tastes right to you.

Add the shallot and turn the machine on and off a few times until the shallot is minced within the dressing.  Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve.  (This is best made fresh, but will keep, refrigerated, for a few days; bring it back to room temperature and whisk briefly before using.)

Taylor's Notes:
You could add anything you want to the salad.  Feta cheese crumbles would be great in it.  So would marinated red peppers, if you like that sort of thing.  Marinated artichoke hearts... the options are endless!  

The same goes for the dressing.  That's the basic recipe that I found in my How to Cook Everything cookbook (seriously, everything.)  After I made the basic vinaigrette, I tossed in feta cheese and a garlic clove when I added the shallot.  Have fun with it and adjust it based on your taste or what you're serving it with.


Chocolate Cannoli
18 prepared cannoli shells
3 cups ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup chopped pecans
powdered sugar (for dusting)

Combine cheese, sugar, vanilla and cocoa; beat with electric mixer until smooth.  Add 1/2 cup chopped pecans.  Chill.  Fill cannoli shells with cheese mixture.  Dip ends in chopped pecans and dust with powdered sugar.  Serve immediately.

Kerstin's Notes:
I love the web... this recipe was so easy!  I bought the cannoli shells at Cupini's in Kansas City, which was a huge help.  I left out the pecans just out of personal preference, but added white and milk chocolate shavings over the cannoli to make them pretty!  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My, oh my! What adventurous gals you all are! Sounds WONDERFUL!!!!