For quite a few years now we’ve been getting together with friends every couple of months for dinner. It started with our good friends K&F introducing us to good friends of theirs and we all hit it off and decided to meet for dinner and drink great wines. We all love to cook (except for J. who is the wine expert in our family and stays out of the kitchen during prep time) and our dinners together are always something to look forward to.
I actually enjoy having it at our house as much as I like going to their houses. I relish the planning and decision making and of course the actual cooking of the meal. I knew that we would just be returning from Italy when it was our turn for the dinner party but I did not think I would necessarily cook an Italian meal. I was toying with the idea of Mexican food (as Cinco di Mayo was just around the corner) and was also considering a Moroccan menu. J. looked at me like I was crazy and said that of course it had to be Italian!
Luck would have it that there was an issue of Gourmet magazine that featured the food of Italy waiting for me in my pile of mail. I opened it and immediately knew what my menu would be. I’ve always wanted to try the classic dish of maiale in latte (pork cooked in milk) and there it was in the magazine. There was also a recipe for escarole stuffed with arborio rice that appealed to me and a salad with shaved celery and fennel with fresh mozzarella (which reminded me of a dish we ate on vacation) and I had the basis of my menu.
For years I’ve thought about making the fried stuffed olives of Ascoli Piceno but it seemed like a lot of work (plus I’m not one for doing much deep frying). While we were in Ascoli Piceno we sampled their fabulous fried olives while strolling back to our hotel one evening and right then I knew that it was time for me to take the plunge and attempt to make them!
Meat Stuffed Fried Olives
Prosciutto Fontina Panini Bites
Goat Cheese with Spicy Tomato Topping
Maiale in Latte
Escarole Stuffed with Arborio, Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins
Sauteed Peas and Favas
Shaved Celery and Fennel Salad
Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake
There were a variety of wonderful wines but my favorite was a ’97 Brunello di Montalcino that we carried back from our stay there. Ah, the memories…