Wesley's Really Cheesy Italian Menu
Well, it seems there are many searches for Italian recipes. It’s my opinion
that one always should serve Italian food at a casual dinner party and French
at the fancy ones. I’m toying with the idea of a rather large seated dinner
for hubby’s birthday. I do one every year except the last. It definitely would
be French. So for now, Italian it is.
The good news is that Italian Chianti is inexpensive and delicious. It goes
well with any type of Italian cheese which you will have a lot of in this meal.
This meal is not a buffet, but that’s all right, it’s nice to sit down with
your friends. You can find some fun looking accessories for the table even if
they’re paper. Make it a “cheesy” Italian dinner.
Wesley’s Really “Cheesy” Italian Dinner
Parmesan Tulips with Eggplant Caviar
Blue Cheese Caesar Salad
Parmesan and Black Pepper Bread
Parmesan Tulips with Eggplant Caviar:
4 red bell peppers
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 3/4 lb eggplant
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup pitted and chopped black olives
1 clove garlic, crushed
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Halve the peppers, removing the seeds and membrane. Place in a dish and
sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir the lemon juice into the
olive oil, pour over the peppers, cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes
and up to 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
To make the eggplant caviar, cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Brush
the cut side with a little of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, or until soft. Drain to remove
the liquid and scrape out the flesh with a spoon. Coarsely chop the flesh and
combine with the olives, garlic, and chives, reserving some of the chives for
garnish. Mix well with a fork, squeezing the eggplant against the side of the
bowl to break it down. Add the remaining olive oil very slowly, stirring it
in with a fork. Add the paprika and season to taste. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
To make the Parmesan tulips, draw two 4-inch circles on a piece of waxed
paper and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle a thick layer of Parmesan in each
circle. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until bubbled with light golden-browned
edges. Cool for a few moments, and then lift off with a flexible metal spatula.
Shape into tulips by molding over the top of a bottleneck, pleating the edges
and holding in place until cooled. Repeat with the remaining Parmesan.
Preheat a gas grill or broiler, brush with oil and cook the peppers for
5 minutes each side, or until blackened. Put in a bag to steam for 10 minutes.
Rub off the skin and cut the peppers into strips. Place a heaping tablespoon
of eggplant caviar in each Parmesan tulip and sprinkle with the reserved chives.
Arrange the peppers in crosses around the tulips on plates and serve.
Blue Cheese Caesar Salad:
1 large head romaine lettuce, rinsed, dried, broken into bite-sized pieces
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 can (2 ounces) anchovy fillets, drained, and chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cups crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups croutons
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Crisp lettuce in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Whisk garlic, anchovies,
lemon juice, Worcestershire, mayonnaise and half the blue cheese in medium bowl
until blended. Continue whisking while adding the oil in a thin stream until
thickened. Cover and chill for several hours if desired; reblend if necessary.
Toss lettuce in bowl with dressing until thoroughly coated. Add croutons and
remaining blue cheese and toss again. Serve with Parmesan cheese.
2 lb large ripe tomatoes
3 sprigs fresh basil
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Olive oil for cooking
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 veal scallops, about 4 oz each
All purpose flour seasoned with salt and pepper to coat veal
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 2/3 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup unsalted butter
8 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
Score a cross in the base of each tomato. Place in a bowl of boiling water
for 10 seconds, then plunge into cold water and peel skin away from the cross.
Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally and remove the seeds with the handle of
a small spoon. Chop coarsely. Pull the basil leaves from their stems. Tie the
stems with bay leaf and thyme to make a bouquet garni. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil
in a saucepan and slowly cook the onion for 5 minutes without coloring. Add
the tomatoes, garlic and bouquet garni. Season and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes,
then uncovered for 45 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni and adjust the seasoning
Pound the veal with a meat mallet until 1/8 inch thick. Coat in the flour,
shaking off the excess. Dip the coated veal in the beaten egg. Mix together
the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and parsley in a shallow dish. Drain any excess egg
from the veal then coat with the bread crumbs, pressing well with your fingers
to make it stick. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat about 1/2 cup oil in
a large non stick skillet. Add half the butter and when it is foaming, cook
2 pieces of veal for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown, turning once. Drain
on paper towels. Discard any oil and butter from the pan and cook remaining
veal in fresh oil and butter. Arrange the veal in a baking dish, cover with
mozzarella and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Serve with
the tomato sauce on top garnished with the fresh basil.
Parmesan and Black Pepper Bread:
1 pack yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/3 cups warm water
6 oz Parmesan (no rind) cut into 1 inch chunks
3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour or unbleached all purpose
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
3/8 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 egg white, beaten until foamy
Mix the yeast with the sugar and 2/3 cup of the warm water and set aside
for 10 minutes. In a food processor, grate the Parmesan. Set aside 1/2 cup from
the rest. Put 3 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and the oil in the processor
container. With the motor on, add the remaining 2/3 cup warm water in a thin
stream. Stir yeast mixture well and pour into the machine while running. Add
the 1/2 cup cheese and process until dough forms a soft, moist ball. If dough
seems runny, add more flour a tablespoon at a time. Until it holds it’s shape.
Rinse a large mixing bowl with warm water. Without drying the bowl, add
the dough, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature
until dough triples in volume, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Coat a baking sheet generously with shortening. Remove dough from bowl and
cut into 3 equal pieces. Cut off and reserve 1/3 cup of dough from each piece.
To shape, sprinkle 1 tablespoon cheese on work surface. Roll out each piece
to 12x8 inch rectangle, turning to coat both sides with cheese. Sprinkle 1 1/2
tablespoons cheese, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper evenly over
top of dough. Fold dough lengthwise into thirds. Pinch 2 long edges together
tightly to form a cigar-shaped loaf.
For the dough strips, sprinkle the work surface with 1 teaspoon Parmesan.
Roll out one of the reserved 1/3 cup pieces to a 12x3 inch rectangle. Cut it
in half lengthwise to form 2 strips. With the cheese side facing in, attach
one strip of dough to one end of the shaped loaf, and then wrap it around the
loaf clockwise, pinching to secure it to the opposite end. Attach the second
strip to where the first ended and wrap it counterclockwise to form a criss
cross pattern around the loaf. Put loaf seam side down on pan. Repeat with other
loaves. Cover them with a dry towel and set aside at room temp until they double
in volume 1 to 2 hours.
Adjust oven rack to lowest position. Heat to 425 degrees. Use a soft damp
pastry brush to glaze the tops of bread with egg white. Gently press 1 tablespoon
cheese onto the top of each loaf. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
While still hot, loosen loaves from bread pan and cool on rack.
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted but cooled
2 tablespoons maraschino liqueur or Kirsch
2 tablespoons brandy
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup almonds, toasted and finely chopped
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup chopped candied cherries
10 oz semisweet chocolate, melted
1/4 cup chopped white chocolate
Preheat oven to 350. Line 1 quart dish with plastic wrap. Grease a 10 inch
square and a 6 inch square cake pan and line both with waxed paper. To make
the cake, beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl over a pan of steaming water
until the mixture is light and frothy and leaves a trail. Remove the bowl from
the pan and beat until the mixture is cold. Fold the sifted dry ingredients
into the mixture with a large metal spoon, being careful not to over fold and
lose volume. Pour the cooled, melted butter down the side of the bowl and gently
fold in. Pour the mixture into the 2 cake pans and bake for 10 minutes, or until
firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack and peel off the waxed paper.
Using a cake pan or plate as a guide, cut a 10 inch circle from the larger
cake. Cut out a small wedge to make it more pliable and easier to fit in the
round bowl. Push the cake gently into the bowl to line it, cutting off any that
overlaps. From the second cake, cut a circle the same size as the bowl top.
Brush all the cake with the combined brandy and liquor.
To prepare the filling, beat the cream and confectioners’ sugar to soft
peaks and divide between 2 bowls. To the first bowl, add the nuts, chopped chocolate
and cherries. Spoon into the cake lined bowl and hollow out the center with
the back of a spoon, making sure the layer of cream cheese is even. Refrigerate
for 30 minutes to set.
Mix a third of the melted chocolate into the second bowl of whipped cream-mixing
with a little of the cream first, before adding to the rest. Spoon into the
hollowed center of the chilled Zuccotto, level using a metal spatula and press
the circle of cake on top. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Invert the bowl onto
a wire rack and turn out the Zuccotto. Take the remaining melted chocolate and
stir to cool slightly. Pour over the Zuccotto and tap the rack to make sure
the chocolate covers the whole of the cake. Refrigerate until set. Melt the
white chocolate and flick it over the Zuccotto with a fork. Chill to set.