Sunday, January 13, 2008

Italian Feast - 1/12/2008

I wanted to invite a couple of friends over for a nice meal, so I was brainstorming ideas for a nice, full meal. Here is what I ended up with:

Herb Focaccia

As an accompaniment, I made this herb focaccia. It was originally going to be a grilled vegetable focaccia, but I forgot to pick up a couple vegetables at the store. The dough itself has some oregano, thyme and caraway seeds. On top is fresh basil, garlic salt, rosemary, and romano cheese. In the past I have made focaccia using store-bought pizza dough, but it is always very difficult to work with and turns out rather puffy. I would be good for sandwiches, but for breadsticks like the ones above, it doesn't cut it.

Tortelloni Salad

As a starter/side dish, I served this tortelloni salad. In the salad are chicken tortelloni, fresh mushrooms, spinach, croutons, basil, and a dressing made with white wine vinegar. It turned out nice, although I do realize that it is just an excuse to get some vegetables in while still eating pasta.

Pesto Chicken Parmigiana

Now for the main course: pesto-stuffed chicken parmigiana. You pretty much make a chicken parmigiana, but before you cook the chicken, cut a pocket into the breast. After pan-frying for a nice golden brown, put a prepared pesto (leave it thick) into the pocket. Continue as you normally would including baking in the sauce covered with cheese for about 20-25 minutes. On the side you will also see some penne with a pasta sauce on top. I know what you're thinking: "Two pastas?" I just wanted to make sure we had enough food and the penne made a nice side dish.

Chocolate Tart

Chocolate Tart Slice

Dessert came from the baking book I received for Christmas: a dark chocolate tart. The dough is a chocolate tart dough which I managed to make well. If you've seen my apple pie on this site, then you know that I do not have the best luck with pastry doughs. This dough, though, came out very nicely. The filling is a chocolate ganache with a little bit more cream than the typical 1:1 ganache ratio plus some coffee to amplify the chocolate flavor. It turned out quite delicious and very rich. After eating the slice show above, I thought I should have made it only half as big. So if you try this at home, be warned that this is not something to serve in giant pieces.

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