Monday, February 11, 2013

Tiny Dinner Party: Notte Italiana

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It's back: the Tiny Dinner Party! Tiny Dinner Parties are where we set out to prove you can throw glamorous dinner parties in even the smallest of apartment spaces and kitchens. Last time we made a French meal of: french onion soup, beef bourguignon, and braised fingerling potatoes. This time we went Italian:

First Course

Crostini Three Ways 
Caprese Salad

Second Course

Beef Brasato with Papardelle and Rosemary 


Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Wine Pairing

Chianti Classico 

All week, we will be sharing these recipes with you. We asked a couple of our friends to share their favorite Italian dishes with us and then guest blog to share their recipes with you! First up, crostini three ways brought to you by our dear friend, Abby, who came up with this dish and prepared all of the crostini for us. She will be taking over from here:

Hi everyone! I feel so honored and lucky to be guest blogging. It was such a wonderful experience with all the girls on this extravagant Italian food night. When I was asked to do an Italian appetizer, I immediately knew what I would do. In college, I decided I was moving to Italy . . . well not moving but needed to study there. I fell in love with an Italian educational philosophy called Reggio Emilia after interning at the World Bank Children's Center in DC one summer. Long story short, my love for education and food led me to Italy. And as fate would have it, my host family was a young couple in their early 30s and my host dad, well brother, was a renowned chef. After watching him and his wife cook for 6 months, I gained 15 pounds and a respect for simple but delicious Italian dishes. I picked three crostini recipes for the Tiny Dinner Party: (1) Baby Bella with white wine and chives; (2) ricotta, roasted tomato, and basil; and (3) aged Italian salami with shaved Pecorino Romano cheese. 

Baby Bella Crostini 

Here's what you'll need for the topping:

4 oz of mushrooms (I used baby bellas but you could use any gourmet selection)

1 Bunch of fresh chives
1/4 cup white wine 
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste 
Shaved Pecorino Romano cheese

First, slice the baby bella mushrooms and chop the fresh chives into 1/4 inch slivers. 

I started by sautéing the mushrooms, EVOO, and salt and pepper in a pan. Once they had softened up I added the wine and chives. Sizzzzzzle. 

You will know they are done when they become golden brown and smell delicious! I put them to the side to rest as I worked on the other two crostini recipes. 

Roasted Tomato Crostini 

Here's what you'll need for the topping:

2 pints cherry tomatoes 

1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2-3 cloves of Garlic
1 pint Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
Bunch of Basil - sliced into thin slivers

This particular crostini was my absolute favorite. I began by putting the rinsed tomatoes, EVOO, and finely chopped garlic in a glass pyrex dish at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Once the tomatoes were roasted, I also let them rest until they reached room temperature. 

Salami Crostini

You will need: 
1 package of aged Italian dry salumi
1 block of pecorino romano 
Fresh basil 

This one was the most simple. There was not as much prep involved as the other two crostini, as I simply sliced Aged Italian dry salumi, shaved romano cheese, and fresh basil and added it to the toasted and garlic-rubbed crostini. 

About that garlic-rubbed crostini.  Here is what you need for the bread itself.  

Crostini Time

You will need:
2 baguettes sliced on an angle

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-4 cloves Garlic

First line a baking sheet with tinfoil to save in the clean up process, then add the bread
. Then lightly brush the olive oil across the top of each slice. Place the baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown on top. #tinydinnerparties 

Once you pull them from the oven, rub the garlic cloves over the warm crostini to infuse it with the garlic flavor. The crostini are a little hot to touch, so be careful, but the garlic is essential here.

Now, you are ready to add the toppings!  I made 1/3 of the toasts with each flavor. For the first group of the crostini, spread ricotta cheese on the toast and sprinkle with sea salt. Then place 1-2 roasted tomatoes and chopped fresh basil on top. 

For the second, place
a sliver of the shaved pecorino romano cheese and a teaspoon of the sauteed mushrooms and on top. 

Lastly, for the third, place a slice of salami on the crostini and then top with a slice of pecorino romano and a basil. 

Credit where credit is due, I modified these recipes from Real Simple magazine. 

Buon apetito! 

Hope your appetite is ready for the main course, beef brasato with paperdelle coming Wednesday! See you then!


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