Welcome To My Dinner Table – Part 13

Dinner Tables - Pt 13 - 00

This is quite a different kind of opening picture for a dinner table post than you’re used to from me, isn’t it!? I had decided to keep the table really simple this time, no flowers because I thought they’d die right away in the stifling heat we had over the Whitsun weekend, I wanted to plate the dishes in the kitchen because of space, so really it was quite bare except for the Kiss The Cook napkins, a chocolate bar for everyone, and cutlery and glasses. Which is why it was too boring to take a picture of.

Dinner Tables - Pt 13 - 01

The occasion for this dinner was that I didn’t celebrate my birthday earlier this year, but still got a great gift from my friends – an Italian food basket (as seen in the menu card above) that contained a lot of things we had during our vacation in Italy last year. So I decided to cook an Italian dinner for said friends.

Dinner Tables - Pt 13 - 02

The pretty rose above was a hostess gift from one of my friend’s garden. We started off the dinner with homemade ciabatta bread, served with homemade bear’s garlic pesto and a tomato-olive-oil spread from the gift basket.

Next we had quite huge gnocchi filled with ricotta, Italian herbs and lemon zest, fried in sage butter. I used to buy ricotta filled gnocchi at our Friday market but had been meaning to make them myself someday, and that day was last weekend. They turned out really delicious (recipe to follow in separate post).

Dinner Tables - Pt 13 - 05

By the time we got to the main course, everyone was fanning themselves with paper plates – the yellow ones in the opening picture in case you were wondering whether I served the food on paper plates…

I went with one of my favourite Jamie Oliver recipes for the main course – tagliatelle in tomato sauce with baked ricotta. As I didn’t want the dinner to be completely meatless, I had intended to make salsiccia meatballs. These need to be made from fresh salsiccia sausages, and I checked at the Italian market stall the week before if they had salsiccia available every week. They confirmed, I went there last Friday, and they didn’t have any. I was really disappointed, especially as I couldn’t really understand their reasoning – they thought because of the Whitsun weekend people wouldn’t buy fresh salsiccia. Aha… However, the lady gave me her recipe for pork meatballs, so I was a little mollified until she said to add 27 g of salt to every 100 g mince. Really? I was very doubtful and luckily did not follow those instructions as otherwise the meatballs would have been ruined.

Dinner Tables - Pt 13 - 06

Dessert was something I hadn’t made in a very long time – zuccotto toscano. It’s made from a sponge cake plus a cream, rum, chocolate and nut filling, which is then frozen and served frozen as well. I was lucky it turned out perfect, because the cream for the first part of the recipe refused to be whipped up, very likely due to the heat. Great success this dessert, and I’m planning to do a post on it as well sometime soon.

Dinner Tables - Pt 13 - 03

I rarely have a cheeseboard at dinner because everyone’s usually really full by the time it would be served; we all dug in, though, because the Italian cheeses were really delicious: taleggio, scamorza – which you only get cured for most of the year but was available fresh this week – and a cheese that runs under torte cremose, tastes like gorgonzola but doesn’t have the blue mould.

When I do have cheeseboards, I like to wrap a large chopping board in newspaper pages – in this case I found a beer ad that looked very stylish in an Italian newspaper -,  wrap the whole thing in clingfilm, and serve the cheese on it.

Dinner Tables - Pt 13 - 07

So these are the remains of a great fun night, with weather and temperatures befitting an Italian evening.

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