For our third meeting on Sept. 12, Sabrina picked Italian food. Viva Italia!
By far, this was our most competitive outing thus far. Brendan started the evening by serving not one but two appetizers (brown-nosing, perhaps?).
But before we could sample his eats, he hands out maps that hint at the culinary hot spots in Italy he intends to take us to during the evening. For those keeping score at home, yes, this is the first time a chef has used props. Did it pay off? Stay tuned.
Brendan started with fresh figs stuffed with marscarpone cheese and proscuitto. That Brendan’s a smart cookie picking figs because they were in season. Who doesn’t love figs? Yum.
While we were munching on the stuffed figs, Kate and Brendan poured prosecco, an Italian dry sparkling white wine. Personally, I love prosecco. Sometimes even more than champagne but I digress.
Next up, Brendan second appetizer: risotto balls. Called arancini di riso in Italian, they are golden filled rice balls that look like tiny oranges. A perfect way to use leftover risotto.
I decided to turn to pizza for my appetizer course. Who doesn’t love a slice of ‘za? I used a Jamie Oliver recipe for pizza fritta (deep-fried pizza). But things went wrong in the frying process and the crust was too greasy. Next time I will roll the dough a lot thinner.
Sabrina brought out the big guns — a pasta maker — for the next appetizer. She cooked up ravioli, stuffing the homemade pasta with proscuitto and ricotta cheese. The small, perfect pillow of pasta was placed on top of a zesty sauce made from fresh tomatoes.
Aaron paired it with Bellinis made from fresh peach puree (it was first served at Harry’s Bar in Venice).
This combination pulled out the appetizer win for Sabrina.
We could have probably called it a day after the appetizers (we were all stuffed like the figs) but we continued on with the mains. Brendan served the society a classic caprese salad and veal with prosciutto and grilled eggplant. Kate paired with a rich Italian red vino called Pichierri Primitivo.
Sabrina was next. She served lamb with a risotto ball and a to-die-for tomato sauce. Aaron paired it with an Italian red.
Despite the stiff competition, I managed to pull out the win with my own bolognese sauce recipe and homemade pasta. I use pancetta, minced veal, beef and pork, carrots, celery, onion, red wine, cream, canned tomatoes and beef stock in my bolognese sauce. Of course, there is no garlic. I let it simmer for more than four hours. The perfect Italian comfort food. I was too busy eating it to take a photo but here’s me straining the pasta.
Tim picked out an amarone to serve with the bolognese.