On Saturday night, I invited a few friends over to help me do a trial run of the menu for my Italian Night. These are good friends who I can trust to be constructively critical and who will give me a reality check regarding portion size, as my gauge is completely skewed thanks to giant husband and two giant sons!
We started with an antipasti platter – cold meats, pesto, tapenade, truffle oil, balsamic, olives and focaccia. I’m too lazy to reproduce the tapenade recipe here, but it’s a good one. Here’s the link. The pesto was a simple mix of 1 garlic clove, 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts, 2 tbsp grated parmesan, a large handful of basil leaves and enough extra virgin olive oil to bind it all together in a hand blender with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Focaccia has to be one of my favourite breads and the recipe here is simple and fairly foolproof. It makes a large loaf that goes a treat with this kind of sharing platter or is equally lovely for mopping up the dregs of the tomato sauce from the Chicken Parmigiana recipe.
The main course was a choice of a rich, tomatoey chicken and mozarella dish with parsley butter tagliatelle or a cod dish served with a green lentil ‘stew’ and parsley sauce. I’ll share the cod recipe next week – it was hugely tasty, but tricky to cook. The cod needs to be a thick, solid fillet with skin on and the skin needs to be crisped without overcooking the fish.
My learning point on the chicken dish was the portion size. Too much chicken. Not something I would ever hear from my family I must say, but I trust my friends, all of whom have good healthy appetites.
To finish, we had lemon tart with mascarpone and raspberries and tiramisu. Strangely, noone had a problem with portion sizes when it came to dessert and in fact everyone had both! The lemon tart was lovely – no changes needed there – but I’m not happy with the tiramisu and will be trying a few alternative recipes before I find one I want to share here. Main problem with the versions I’ve tried so far is they’re a little too loose and sloppy, so, guess I just need to keep trying!