Sunday, October 07, 2007
White Bean Bruscetta: My dish was an appetizer, and part of it was VERY local, freshly picked basil from my deck with its flowering ends as decorations. My tale was that I recalled hearing that the Sicilians were intuitive to the point of being psychic, and that this was confirmed when I reviewed my recipe to buy the ingredients not on hand -- other than the beans and garlic, the larger list of ingredients had no hints as to the amounts or proportion! Tom H had a more logical explanation, that one of the features of Sicilian cooking is lack of firm recipe since the people like to cook spontaneously using the freshest ingredients at hand.
Sicilian Caponata (as bruscetta): Isadora brought this tender and delicious Sicilian version of the ever-popular caponata and some fresh crisp bread rounds to hold it.
Pasta con le Sarde (Pasta with Fennel and Herring): ... and saffron and fresh Tokyo Market sardines with bucatini pasta. Spending more than four hours preparing this dish, not including shopping, Emil came up with a winner in this ancient recipe which had tastes of sweet, salty and sour in balance which elicited ooohs and aaahs from everyone.
We come prepared for slow cooking and eating as every cook has thought their dish through thoroughly and preps it only to the point of where it can be brought to a spectacular and fresh finish. Stephanie is assisted by Alma to clean and debeard the mussels in Stephanie's upcoming dish.
Zuppa di Cozzi (Mussel Soup): First Stephanie simmered a rustic sauce of heirloom tomatoes, garlic and other very authentic Sicilian ingredients in this typical mussel soup. After the base was ready, she added the über-fresh mussels and served them up quickly with a garnish of citron peel.
Sicilian Style Cod: Our host, Tom M used both black and red cod in his dish, which also featured fresh rosemary and basil brought straight in from his backyard garden. The fish was so tender it melted in your mouth.
Sicilian Meatloaf: With the natural advantage of having Sicilian grandparents, Janis made Noni's Meatloaf of course! It was made like a jellyroll with luscious and flavorful ingredients including pine nuts and provolone cheese. We were competing for parts of the leftovers to bring home!
Carciofi ai Quattro Succhi (Artichokes Braised in Citrus Juices): The vegetable dishes were served at the same time we served the main courses. This one could serve either as an appetizer or a vegetable dish. A first time participant, Connie showed herself to be a chef extraordinaire with this layering of flavors and four citrus flavors. The Meyer lemons were home grown.
Pomodori Ripieni ai Mostarde di Frutta (Stuffed Tomatoes): The English translation just doesn't do justice to Tom H's amazing and authentic dish, with ingredients directly from Sicily. The stuffing included fresh herbs, and topping the cheese topping was "Mostarda", the mustard infused glaceed fruit. (Food & Wine has a recipe for making a mostarda.) The hmmms immediately turned to mmms! as these stuffed Eary Girls reached the lips.
Zucchini con Cannella e Aglio (Zucchini with Cinnamon and Garlic): Tom H further amazed us with this twist on flavors with zucchini. This dish was also awesome.
Insalata d'Arance (Orange and Anise Salad): Caren tapped the traditions of an English friend whose heritage is Sicilian for this salad of flavor and texture contrasts. Slivers of fennel, shaved coconut and crisp sliced almonds were among the ingredients nested with the sweet orange.
Insalata del Rinforza (Cauliflower salad): Bob had us in rollicking laughter with his tale of Romulus and Remus and their travels to Sicily. Apparently they were too rambunctious and their mother slapped them across the ears, resulting in Cauliflower ear, hence this dish made in remembrance. The rule is that each chef talks about their dish and tells us something about the region, and whether true or not, it must be entertaining. You can guess which category this came under. Not a fan of cauliflower myself, I was utterly enchanted with the flavors of this salad that may be served either hot or room temperature, with its adds of olive oil, capers, and other nicely blended dressing ingredients.
Sicilian Cassata: Bill offered up this dish that Janis made which was incredibly light and heavy at the same time. It had a chocolate/expresso ganache frosting and the interior was a pound cake with surprise infused cream layered inside. Utter yum.
Biscotti d'Annodare (Knot cookies): Karen, our hostess, put these little hard cookie bites together which were best eaten with the delicious expresso she served.
Karen put thought into every aspect of this recipe, working to adjust the recipe a little around the edges to make it healthier. It also made them a bit harder, but with such lovely expresso, who cared?
Ricotta Pie: Another new face at the table was Arthur, with a celebratory pie authentic enough for the Scorsese family table. We hoped none were scheduled soon for a blood lipid panel as this pie sports 12 eggs, Belwether Farms Sheep Cheese Ricotta, lemon zest and pine nuts in a very flaky crust (and you know what that means). While we savored this simply delicious pie, Arthur explained that he had experimented with various ricottas before choosing the sheep milk made one due to its creaminess and the smooth texture it added to the pie.
Bill listed attentively as the devoted foodies around the table answered his intriguing question - "If you were about to be executed, what would your request for last meal be?" My answer of course was a Japanese kaiseki meal, with that lovely scroll describing the dishes in abstract, artful terms. Other answers included crab with drawn butter and fried chicken before Tom H put a twist on the suggestions by adding 'fugu', and the flow of the conversation went to some more colorful last meal ideas and laughter.
What would you request as your last meal? Leave me a note in the comments section as I'd love to hear!
If you enjoyed this post of chefs producing an authentic meal around a theme, you might enjoy some of the archives of the Supper Club - Marin. The links are below, and if you are interested in recipes, you might check the surrounding dates to the events as sometimes the chefs have shared, and I've posted some pre- or post event.
Supper Club - Cuba
Supper Club - Greece
Supper Club - Vietnam (sorry I missed this event!)
Supper Club - Chocolate!
Supper Club - Regions of Italy
Supper Club - Spanish Tapas
Supper Club - States of Germany
Supper Club - States of Mexico
Supper Club - Cuisine of Japan
Supper Club - Persian Style
Supper Club - Does Southern
Supper Club - French Regions
Next up in January is States of India. There's no way we'll be able to cover them all since there are 28 states and seven union territories! But what we do is sure to be good!