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GRACE’S HALLOWEEN MENU

Grace (who was born in Australia and has lived here for 30 years) and Cinzia had returned only the day before from a trip to Dublin, therefore, the Irish twist to this delicious menu.

Proseco and wines

Antipasto:

Gaetana’s Dip – this was a layered dip with cream cheese, tomatoes, olives and other wonderful things.

Some guests had brought three fresh sausages to spread on bread or crackers. One was plain, one was liver and one was very spicy. I tried the first two and they were wonderful.

Primi:

Pumpkin Soup with Fresh Herbed Scones (and Irish butter)

Secondi:

Guinness Stew with Boiled Potatoes (and Irish butter)

Dolce:

Irish Tea Brack – which is more of a bread than a cake and is made with tea, currents and raisins. This was also incredible the next morning toasted with butter or marscapone cheese.

Chocolate Tart made by one of the guests and various candies.

Caffe and British Tea

ARLENE’S DINNER FOR SIX

Lasagna is one of Larry’s favorite meals. When in Bologna the week before we had the most delicious Verde Lasagna Bolognese. They make their lasagna different from any I’ve ever had. First, there is just a small amount of tomato, bechamel sauce (besciamella in Italian), lots of ground meat, Parmesan cheese, and as many layers as you can get in the dish of very thin fresh pasta sheets. Never is there any garlic, ricotta or mozarella cheese found in this dish. Of course, there are as many recipes for the bolognese sauce as there are cooks but I used Marcella Hazan’s recipe that cooks a total of six hours. Okay I got impatient at five hours and figured the sauce was not going to benefit from another hour of cooking. I may have been wrong (but I don’t think so) because I made a test dish for our dinner that night and it was a bit bland. I needed to do an Ina Garten on it and ramp the flavor up a bit. So after reviewing several other recipes I decided to add some tomato paste and red wine and cook it down some more – and that worked. So in the future I will use red wine instead of Marcella’s suggested white wine and will also add some tomato paste for depth of flavor. I cheated and purchased fresh pasta sheets from the local pasta shop (no spinach pasta available) and they were very tender, as required. You can accomplish so many layers of pasta in the dish because you put a very thin layer of sauce, sprinkle some parmesan cheese over it and move on to the next layer of pasta. I managed to get six layers of pasta in the dish before I ran out of sauce, which is an acceptable number for a good lasagna bolognese.

We had a vegetarian in our group (yes, the slim, young and beautiful one – isn’t that always the way it is?) so I purchased some roasted vegetables from the store, whipped up a quick tomato sauce, some more besciamella and made a vegetable lasagna that was pretty good.

The pumpkin mousse tart was a real challenge. You cannot purchase canned pumpkin puree here, you must make it yourself from fresh pumpkin. There are also no graham crackers, per se, so you use plain digestive crackers for the crust. I could only find the gelatin sheets and, thanks to the internet, I was able to make that conversion. So the fact that I actually was able to serve the tart for dessert was a minor miracle.

Wines from our landlord’s vineyards

Antipasto:

Ina Garten’s Crostini with Tuna Tapenade
Ina’s Savory Palmiers
Ina’s recipe for Rosemary Roasted Cashews, but I used almonds
Endive leaves with a dollop of goat cheese mixed with fresh herbs

Primi:

Marcella Hazan’s Lasagna Bolognese, tweeked
Arlene’s Vegetable Lasagna

Skipped Secondi:

Contori:

Ina’s spinach salad with pesto, peas, parmesan and toasted pine nuts

Dolce:

Ina’s Banana Pumpkin Mousse Tart

Digestivo:

Limoncello, Meletti, Averna

    2 Comments

  1. Thanks for including me in your blog…..hope to be included in many others….oh thanks for introducing me to Ina…….

    • I hope I have lots of opportunities to write about our fun times together. I read on-line yesterday that Ina Garten sold the most cookbooks on Amazon of any chef in 2012 and is ahead of everyone by about 30,000 copies so far this year.

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