Italian Dinner Party

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The perfect dinner begins with the choice of menu and set-up. Make sure to have appetizers, a fresh salad, a type of meat and one or two side-dishes and a dessert. It is often better to have a well selected 5 course menu rather than a mixture of too many different dishes, which is rather distracting the guest.

 

When planning a nice dinner make sure that every guest has a seat at the dining table as this creates a homey and warm atmosphere which allows you and your guests to indulge in conversations over good food.

 

The Italian Cuisine has its own set-up on the table. The spoon, fork and knife are placed to the right of the table in this sequence. Usually in an Italian restaurant you would get a new fork and knife after the primo (first course). The water glass is placed to the right side at the top side of the plate followed by the wine glass (or any other drink). The bread plate is placed to the left of the plate. Fold the napkin and place it on the plate. You can easily set the table based on that to add sophistication to your dinner set-up.

 

When serving the antipasti make sure that you have some basic items on the table such as basil pesto, olive oil and balsamic vinegar as well as butter beside the toasted baguette slices. Italians are known for their marinated and pickled vegetables and olives, make sure to have some available in a nice serving plate. Of course grinded parmesan cheese is a must for any Italian pasta dish. You can get parmesan cheese as one piece and cut of shaves as a garnish for salads or as part of antipasti.

 

Basil Pesto is very easy made and a sure delicacy on the table when used as a dip for toasted bread or trifled on the Insalata Caprese. You can even mix some Pesto with some balsamic and dip bread in it.

 

Take fresh basil leaves and put into  stick mixer and blend. Bit by bit add olive oil and keep on blending until homogeneous. You can add optional pine nuts to the mix and blend again until smooth oily mass. Another usage for Basil Pesto is as an addition to any white sauce for pasta or even as a pasta sauce by itself.

 

Serve each course after the other, each in its own plate. Make sure that each course has the right temperature. Follow all the steps and enjoy this little trip to Bella Italia.

 

Buon Appetito!

 

Menu for the Italian Dinner Party

Antipasto

Insalata Caprese

 

Zuppe

Minestrone

 

Primo

Pasta with Capers

 

Secondo

Sicilian Beef

 

Dolci

Panna Cotta

 

 

Insalata Caprese (Tomato Mozzarella Salad)

This is the most famous Italian antipasti, easy to prepare and always a hit. Serve it as a salad on a plate with toasted baguette or garlic bread or transform it into a Bruschetta by putting the salad on a slice of toasted brown bread.

 

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

4 large but hard tomatoes or 400gm cherry tomatoes

200 gm mozzarella

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

5-6 leaves fresh basil

1 garlic clove, crushed

Salt and pepper

1 pinch of sugar

 

Preparation:

  • Cut tomatoes in small cubes. If you are using cherry tomatoes cut them into halves.
  • Cut mozzarella in cubes and mix with tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Mix oil and vinegar and add the crushed garlic and pinch of sugar and mix well. Add to tomato mozzarella mix. Tear the basil leaves and scatter them on the mix.
  • Serve with toasted baguette or garlic bread prepared in the Quick Chef oven.
  • For some avant-garde cooks try to use fresh rucola (gargir) instead of the basil leaves. 

 

Minestrone (Italian Vegetable Soup)

Minestrone is cooked with many recipes yet the basics are the same, it must be a rich and thick soup. You can change the vegetable with the seasons and always make enough for the next day as it only gets better.

 

Ingredients: (Serves 6)

3 Maggi Chicken Stock cubes (2LMaggi Chicken Stock)

8 cups of water

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves crushed

3 medium sized onions

3 medium sized potatoes

4-5 zucchini

2 large carrots

½ small cabbage

2 medium sized peeled tomatoes

50 gm of finely broken Spaghetti

Salt and pepper

 

Preparation:

  • Dissolve Maggi Chicken Stock cubes in water and set aside.
  • Peel and chop the onions finely in the Moulinette chopper.
  • Peel potatoes and zucchini and dice finely.
  • Peel carrots and dice in  Odacio.
  • Chop the cabbage finely in the Moulinette chopper.
  • Blend peeled tomatoes in blender.
  • Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry onions until golden. Add garlic, carrots, zucchini and fry for 5 minutes. Add potatoes, cabbage, blended tomatoes and Maggi Chicken Stock. Season with salt and pepper and leave closed to simmer for 1,5h.
  • After the time has passed add the broken Spaghetti into the soup and leave another 10 minutes to simmer.
  • Serve with toasted brown bread or baguette. Both can be toasted in the  Quick Chef oven.

Pasta with Capers

Pasta is the most eaten dish in Italy. It is usually the first real course after the soup or salad, the primo. Pasta is like a white canvas it can be colored with all kinds of sauces and garnishes based on your moods and preferences.

 

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

500gm pasta (recommended Fussily, Fettuccini or Farfalle)

3 tablespoons olive oil or 1 tablespoon of butter

1 Maggi Chicken Stock cube

225 ml whipping cream

1 garlic clove crushed

2 teaspoons capers

1 pinch of nutmeg

Pepper

 

Preparation:

  • Boil pasta in salty water and drain well and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a pan and add garlic and stir until golden.
  • Add cream slowly while constantly stirring the sauce.
  • Add Maggi Chicken Stock cube and dissolve in the cream sauce. Season with pepper and a pinch of grinded nutmeg.
  • Add capers and stir then put the pasta on the sauce.

  

Sicilian Beef

Any complete Italian dish must have a type of meat. If you want to add some more Sicilian flavor to this masterpiece you can marinade the green olives in brine (salt water) with fennel for a few days.

 

Ingredients: (Serves 5)

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove chopped

1 celery stalk chopped

5 filet steaks (each 150-170gm)

2 tomatoes

100g green olives, stoned and cut in halves

3 tablespoons capers (optional)

2 carrots

5-6 fresh mint leaves

1 tablespoon apple vinegar (or red wine vinegar)

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon chopped oregano

 

Preparation:

  • Heat oil in pan, add garlic and fry until golden then set aside.
  • Chop celery and carrots in Moulinette chopper.
  • Peel and blend tomatoes in blender
  • Sauté the celery for 5 minutes until it softens. Remove from pan and reserve.
  • Increase the heat and fry the steaks on both sides until they are half done.
  • Add the tomatoes, olives, capers, carrots and the sautéed celery to the meat. Season with salt and pepper and add chopped oregano.
  • Stir in the vinegar and continue to fry until the meat is cooked to your taste. Test the edge of the steak with a sharp knife to see if it is rare, medium or well-done.
  •  Take the mint leaves and finely grind in the  stick mixer.
  • Put the chopped mint on top of the ready cooked dish before serving.

 

Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta means literally “cooked cream”. A good Panna Cotta is soft and tender, white and as gentle as an Italian Mamma’s kiss. It is much too delicious to be this easy in preparation!

 

Ingredients: (Serves 6)

600 ml whipping cream (liquid)

1½ teaspoons gelatine dissolved in 2 tablespoons of cold water

90 gm superfine sugar

 

Preparation:

  • Bring the cream to the boil, stir in the sugar and simmer for 3 minutes until the sugar dissolves.
  • Add the gelatine, allow to cool slightly, and strain into 6 cylindrical moulds. Allow to cool in the fridge.
  • To serve, dip the moulds into hot water briefly to loosen, and flip the mould on a serving plate. Serve with a dip of caramel or chocolate sauce or with some fresh berries.

 

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