Una Sera della Amicizia

In honour of Taylor’s semester abroad in Italy, we had to include an Italian themed dinner. Of all the dinners we had, this was probably my favourite one. We had some great food, excellent company and there were lots of stories/jokes told. Taylor said that during her time in Italy she loved that Italian families made time to sit down and eat dinner together, no matter what. It was a time of day during which they could come together, relax, eat and catch up with each other. Our Friday night dinner group is like a family, and it was so nice to all come together for this delicious meal.

 

Pesto Pasta:

Ingredients:

  • Pasta
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:
  1. In a food processor, blend together basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, and cheese. Pour in oil slowly while mixing. Stir in salt and pepper.
  2. Cook pasta, drain.
  3. Pour pesto sauce over pasta, stir and serve.
Baked Fennel with Parmesan:
Ingredients:
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half cream
  • 3/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut off the base of the fennel bulbs, and cut a cone shape into the base to remove the core. Slice the fennel vertically into 1/4 in. pieces.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the fennel, and fry for about 5 minutes. Stir in the half-and-half and creme fraiche until well blended. Transfer to a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top.
  3. Bake the fennel for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is golden brown and the fennel is tender enough to pierce with a fork.
Garlic Bread: 
Ingredients:
  • 1 loaf of bread (Italian or French)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted and softened butter
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves, minced thoroughly
  • 2 tbsp. fresh finely chopped parsley
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare the garlic, parsley, butter mixture.
  3. Slice the bread, vertically, depending on how thick or thin you want the slices. Do not slice all the way through the bread–leave the bottom crust ‘intact’ and ‘connected’.
  4. Apply the garlic spread between each slice and lace the bread with butter.
  5. Wrap the entire loaf of bread in aluminum foil and heat for 15 minutes in the oven.
**This recipe is for soft garlic bread. If you want crispy garlic bread, follow the instructions below.
  1. Follow steps 1-2, above.
  2. Slice the bread horizontally in half.
  3. Spread the garlic mixture evenly on both halves of the bread.
  4. Use a tough baking container or pan and bake for about 10 minutes.
  5. Cut into thick or thin slices, depending on your preference, and serve.
Biscotti Toscani:
Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 tsp. orange zest
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toasted almond pieces
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a large baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla, almond extract, and zest. Combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in almonds. Divide dough into two pieces. Form into long flat loaves about 1/2 in. tall and 12 inches long. Place the two loaves on the baking sheet, 2 inches apart.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until a light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
  4. Using a serrated knife, cut diagonally into slices about 1/2 in. thick. Lay the slices flat on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, turning over once. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
  5. Place chocolate chips into small, microwave-safe bowl. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 20 to 30 seconds until smooth. Use a spatula to spread the chocolate on one side of each cookie (I drizzled the chocolate, but you can do whatever you want). Let stand at room temperature until set.
Tiramisu: 
Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 pounds mascarpone
  • 5 eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • ladyfingers (to line dish(es))
  • 1/2 cup strong espresso coffee
  • 1/4 cup brandy or rum (optional)
  • unsweetened cocoa powder, to sprinkle
Directions:
  1. Beat the mascarpone in a small bowl until soft. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar (reserving 1 tbsp.) until the mixture in pale yellow and fluffy. Gradually beat in the softened mascarpone.
  2. Using and electric beater or wire whisk, beat the egg whites with the salt until the form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture.
  3. Add the reserved sugar to the coffee, and stir in the brandy if necessary. VERY lightly dip ladyfingers into the coffee and place in dish. The ladyfingers should be moist, but not saturated or they will become spongy and too big.
  4. Cover the lady fingers with half of the egg mixture. Make another layer of the ladyfingers lightly dipped in coffee, and cover with the rest of the egg mixture. Sprinkle with cocoa powder. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
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