Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Behind the Scenes

Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day...but let's be honest, dessert is the most exciting. So why not combine the two?

Best of both worlds: chocolate-blueberry oat bran. With a sprinkle of cinnamon on top, for good measure ;)

The majority of my Sunday was spent playing waitress at a "tea" for a ritzy-ditzy house tour my mother had helped organize as a member of the Historical (or as my father lovably dubbed it, Hysterical) Society in our town. Basically, my job was to take the massive quantities of donated food in various tupperware containers and make it look like this:

I could complain, but in all honesty...I love this stuff. Y'all know me and my pretty food - it tastes better! I've always really liked being that "behind-the-scenes" person who makes stuff happen, but no one really ever sees it. I don't know, must be some crazy spy thing. When I was in high school, I played in the pit orchestra for the senior musical twice and loved it. No one could see us - but we were the music. I like that that's kinda the point - striving to be so good that it's effortless, no one thinks twice about it. It's such a feeling of accomplishment for me. Catering really would be a fun job for me. I think it's so cool how there really is a job made for everyone's personality - from the star in the spotlight to the shy kid making the music. The real trick is finding that job, I guess.

Wow. You know you've been watching Glee for 2 days straight when the stage is a metaphor for everything. Oy.

That night was a lot of fun - we went here for dinner:
Pretty gorgeous, right?
That would be the back yard of family friends who used to live right next door. Saying he has a knack for gardening may be the understatement of the decade.
An "Italian style" dinner was planned, so of course I was super excited. And the best part was I got to help make it! Man I love working in the kitchen. It's like therapy.
It was a truly beautiful meal.
(LuLu must have been PMSing or something, because the pictures are a bit subpar - girlfriend needs some camera Midol.)
We started with a caprese salad:
Chop up fresh tomatoes. Chop up fresh mozzarella. Chop up fresh basil. Toss with olive oil and S+P. Drizzle with a little balsamic. And take a trip to Italy in one bite.
I suppose "traditionally" it's a slice of tomato, a slice of the mozz, then a basil leaf and the drizzling and sprinkling, but this is easier to serve, and just as tasty. It basically depends on what you are going for with the presentation. Experiment!
Now, no Italian dinner is complete without...
Pane. Bread. And lots of it. I'm not talking Wonder White here, people - go for the good stuff. Crusty, soft, doughy goodness. Heck, it's easy to just make yourself!
And, of course, the pasta.
Ohmygoodness, please go make this pasta right now.
We used fresh pasta (if you can, do it - it makes a huge difference!). This is trofie, that kind of stretched-and-twisted shape (we used it in my cooking class and it rocked!). Pasta shape is actually pretty important - the shape of the pasta will hold the flavors of the recipe differently. If you've got a pasta with a lot of stuff, short, fat and textured is probably better, like a rigatoni or fusilli (the spirals). Spaghetti, however, is good with the perfectly simple (and simply perfect) marinara sauce.
This pasta was SO EASY:
To start, take a big slice of Italian bread and pulverize it to bread crumbs. Gotta love that Cuisinart! If you don't have a food processor, I would try toasting it juuuuust slightly, then just chopping the crap out of it. This part was done before I got there, but I would say it was 1/4-1/3 cup's worth, so add more if need be.
In a skillet, heat up some olive oil (we used about a quarter of a cup; I find you can really play around with the amount of olive oil in recipes and see what result you like best) and toss in a LOT of garlic - we used 4 cloves. Yes, that's 4 whole cloves. Just go with me.
When the garlic has turned golden brown (it probably won't take long), add capers (maybe 1/3 cup?), slightly chopped would be good, and 1/4 cup of parsley to the skillet. Then, add those bread crumbs. Stir it all around until the bread crumbs have turned golden and toasty and have soaked up all the oil. Toss in your pasta - if you are using fresh, you really only need to boil it for about 3 minutes. Throw it in a fantastic bowl and serve.
I know, too easy, right?
This was soooo yummy! I have plans to make it again - with a little added lemon and maybe some prosciutto. Speaking of which...
Our main course was just lovely - turkey stuffed with fontina cheese in the middle and wrapped in prosciutto. Really, truly wonderful. Crispy, smoky prosciutto, juicy turkey, melty smooth cheese. Paired with some green beans on the side, the meal could only be described as...bellissima.
(I had a LOT more turkey than that. I repeat - so.good.)

And then dessert.
Strawberry shortcake. Alright, it's not exactly typically Italian, but it is summer, aka strawberry season! Roll with the punches. Would that all punches were this sweet.

We ended with a glass of prosecco, a cheese plate, and good conversation. Yup - that's Italian!

And while we're on the topic, I got myself a little treat at the grocery store today:
Ciao Bella is a gelato brand that I tried last summer for, what else - the mango sorbetto. And it's good. Actually, it's the best mango sorbet I've had this side of the Atlantic. And I when I saw this little baby container, I just couldn't resist. 1 dollar for 100 calories of mango-y goodness? Yes please!

Complete with cute spoon under the lid!
For size comparison. It's a baby!
(P.S. - NO idea what the significance of the mangoes bearing the name Alphonso is. When it comes to mango...I'm not too picky ;)

On a separate note - does anyone know why Blogger uploads some of my pictures wrong-side up? I can not for the life of my figure it out. When I got through my pictures on My Computer and rename them, I make sure they're all right-side up but it doesn't seem to make a difference. Grrr. I'll get to the bottom of this. Bring. It. ON.

I have a teeth cleaning tomorrow (and I'm just thrilled...NOT), but I will be back - with a theme of the week and everything!


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