Thursday, August 05, 2004

Dinner for Twelve

I don't think I've ever intentionally prepared food for this many people before. All in all, everthing came out pretty well. I shopped for everything the day before, so that helped.

The menu:

Olive and Carrot Salad

-Tuscan Chicken Liver Pate
-Mashed Cannelini Beans with Sage
-Roasted Red and Yellow Peppers (I think this one might be classified as bruschetta, due to the peppers rather than a spread like the previous two.)

Ziti with Red Wine and Tomato Gravy

Underblade Roast Braised in Red Wine and Aromatic Vegetables

String Bean and Oregano Salad

Strawberry Tart (I take no credit for the tart. Tik brought it.)

If I could do anything over, I would have put the pasta up a little later. I boiled it a little early and it got a bit gummy waiting to be eaten. Other than that, everything went according to plan.

I hadn't made the pate in a while, but it seems to have been better than the previous attempt last year. I think I might have used a little more pancetta and tomato paste. Essentially, the pate begins by rendering the fat out of some minced pancetta (Italian style bacon). This fat is then used to saute slivered shallots and torn sage leaves. Once the shallots are soft, chopped chicken livers are added, along with capers and anchovy fillets. The livers are cooked until they reach a putty like color, at which point red wine and black pepper are added. The mixture then simmers for five to ten minutes. A bay leaf is added and the livers are taken off the heat. After about 20 minutes, the bay leaf is removed and the mixture is transfered to a food processor where it is blended with tomato paste. Were it not for the final addition of the tomato paste, the pate would have a rather unpleasant dark gray color. With the paste, the mixture takes on a rusty, autumnal tone.

The other crostini topping is simply canned beans mashed with sage infused olive oil. I also had to use a little water to thin the final mash out a bit. The result was a lot like a firm hummus, but tasting of sage rather than, um, hummus.

The roast was quite standard: meat browned thoroughly in vegetable oil; carrot, celery, garlic, onion, lemon zest sauted in meat renderings; tomato paste added, red wine added, beef stock added, roast simmered for a few hours. Simple.

It was really nice to have a few new people over for dinner. Not really new I guess, but not people that normally come over .

The next big group meal should be in a couple of weeks. So far Tic and I have prepared food. The next meal may be Guapo or Matthew. We'll see.


At 5:34 PM, Blogger Avatar said...

Nice spread... I wish I had been there to partake in such a delicious-looking feast.

BTW I've been reading since you got linked by someone else (can't remember who...). Anyway, good work. I've got you bookmarked, and look forward to your continued food adventures.


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