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Mar 16, 2014

Cooking 111 ~ Eating and Drinking Our Way Through the Mediterranean

The February cooking class was "Flavors of the Mediterranean," meaning fresh, lovely produce; rich, creamy cheeses and tangy vinegar and lemons. There are a lot of countries in the Med region but we only drank ate from a few: mostly Greece, France, Italy, and Spain.

I stuck to the traditional formal Italian meal, in full form, meaning we knocked back about ten courses, starting with an Aperitivo of Baked Feta and Prosecco and finishing with a Dolce of Balsamic Laced Stawberry Parfaits with Mascarpone, Lemon Gelato and Amaretti Cookie Crumble, and then five, count em, five digestivos, which I think is Italian for doing shots after dinner. 


Our Antipasto course was a Fig Compote, Prosciutto, and Mozzarella Panini. No recipe needed, just do it.
 Here's Brandy working the panini grill.
For our Primo I created a dish I called Pasta Limone. It was a big hit and since then I have made it a few more times and have passed it on to friends who have made it and who are now showering me with love and flowers and chocolate and pig candy.
     This recipe is super easy to make; its light and fresh and the best news it that only one bowl and one pot get dirtied in the making.

While the pasta is boiling put the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, Parmesan, spinach, and red pepper flakes in a big bowl. 

When the pasta is al dente toss it in the bowl with the lemon, spinach, etc, adding a bit of pasta water if needed. Garnish with some more parm, lemon zest and fresh basil and call in the troops for dinner.

Here's Lisa making Pasta Limone, and she did bring me flowers last week!

Our Secondo was a Sicilian Tuna. I love that this dish takes in so many flavors of the Med ~ lemon, garlic, anchovy, tomatoes, capers, kalamata olives, basil....The Sicilian Sauce is delicious and would be great on a white fish too, such as halibut or mahi-mahi.  I posted this recipe a couple of years on the "Seafood" tab. Scroll all the way down.

Ok, what the hell is that, I know you're probably thinking. was the Med we were in and artichokes are abundant in the region so I was desperate for an artichoke dish. I wanted my Contorno (side dish) to be artichokes and not the steamed-drag-your-teeth-over-variety. This my dears is Artichoke Creme Brulee.

Think savory, not sweet. Think Parmesan cheese crust, not burnt sugar crust. Think this is brilliant, not she's a wackjob. It took me five six seven attempts before I was finally happy with the end result. Think creamy texture, artichoke/Parm flavors and toasty crust. Think I'm a genius!?  (The Big Guy, who doesn't like artichokes anyway, is going with wackjob, but he doesn't get to judge because even if I put chrome on an artichoke he wouldn't touch it.)

The Insalata (our 7th course) was a wonderful Tomato Napoleon Salad with Fresh Mozzarella, Kalamata Olive Tapenade and Sweet Basil Vinigrette. Scott brought me some beautiful yellow heiroom tomatoes from Whole Foods and really made this dish shine. It's almost too pretty to eat! Or maybe it's so pretty you can't help but eat it. I'll share that recipe at a later date. Promise!

We finished the night by doing shots with espresso/cappuccinos and sampling the different countries digestivos. 
     I had a great time, thanks SdJ sous chefs for coming!

Click here, or on the "Pasta" tab for the Pasta Limone recipe, and keep the flowers, chocolate and love coming!

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