Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New Recipes and New Friends

We cook so much that's it's really rare when everything on the menu is something new. This weekend turned out to be one of those rare occasions. On top of that our friend Richard, from Berkeley, was coming to dinner with his wife, father-in-law and son; all of whom we've never met. Talk about stress! We started off our meal with two appetizers; Pisto Manchego and Baked Fennel with Prosciutto. I got the Pisto recipe from the new Spain on the Road Again show, starring Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow. The fennel recipe was from Lidia Bastianch's book, "Lidia's Italy." Pisto is a Spanish dish similar to a ratatouille; only it's pureed. It can be served as a side dish, a pasta sauce, a sandwich spread or as we did; on top of toasted garlic bread. It reminded me of a kicked up roasted pepper spread. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it.
The smell of baking fennel throughout the house is a wonderful thing. Add to that the smell of melting Parmesan and toasting prosciutto and you have a real treat for your senses. This was an easy dish to put together and would make a great vegetable side.
My husband and I never seem to do anything the easy way. So when we decided on making lasagna with duck ragu for our entree we just couldn't leave well enough alone. Instead we took the dish one step further and made individual lasagnas. I know it sounds insane...why go through all that. But it actually wasn't that difficult and the end result was such a treat.
We made a batch of semolina pasta dough. Rolled out extra thin sheets and cut them into 6 inch squares. We used Mario Batali's recipe for Duck Ragu as the filling along with some ricotta and Parmesan cheese. We did alternating layers of meat and cheese; topped off with an extra dollop of both.
Dessert, mmmm dessert. I made a Chocolate Tangerine Semifreddo, that I found in Gina DePalma's Dolce Italiano book. It was good, very rich but good. The sprinkling of salted pistachio's over the top really helped balance out the intense chocolate flavor. I'm not sure I would make this recipe again. Although, I'm a chocolate lover I think this was just a little too rich for my liking.
I'm glad to report that everything turned out great. We now have some new recipes to add to the arsenal and some really nice new friends.


  1. Every time I come here you're making a great dinner, would you mind one more guest?

  2. What a fabulous dinner! Everything looks sensational! How do I get on the guest list? ;)

  3. If you guys are ever in the Phoenix area just give me a hollar. The door is always open and the table is always set :-)

  4. Wow, Food hunter,
    Thanks for extending an invitation to all of us here in the blogosphere, at least I hope it goes for me as well. I definitely shall give you a call. Your cuisine is like the Italian Mama that I never knew, just great ! enough said!!!

  5. Everything looks so delicious! Are there any leftovers?