Guests arrived around 7:00. Here are Gail and Dina laughing at the wine station.
Everyone enjoyed the appetizers, and at 8:30, dinner was served.
The Salsiccia con fungi (sausage and mushrooms) is an easy do-ahead entree. Grill sausages. Saute mushrooms of choice (I used a combo of regular mushrooms and porcini, but at home I love portabello or baby bellas) with herbs in a little olive oil. Throw in some red pepper flakes if the sausage is not hot. Mix mushrooms with cut up sausages, and top with bread crumbs and parmigano. Bake for 25 minutes.
Cheesy-Sage Polenta(I doubled this)
Spray pan with cooking spray.
Heat oven to 350.
6 c. water
1 1/2 t salt
1 ½ c. polenta
Bake uncovered for 40 min.
3/4 c. sour cream
1 c. parmesan cheese
1 c. gruyere
lots of chopped sage (20 leaves)
salt, pepper and nutmeg
Stir into cooked polenta.
Bake 25 minutes.
Verdura al Forno (Baked Zucchini or choice of veggie) I doubled this for the huge pan.
3 lb zucchini (about 10-12)
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper
1 3/4 c. heavy cream
2c. grated mozzarella
2c. grated fontina
1/4c parmigiano or Romano
1 ½ c. bread crumbs
Heat oven to 350. Coat bottom of a 8x13 baking dish with oil. Cover bottom of pan with zucchini slices in a single layer. Salt and pepper. Pour 1/4 of cream over and 1/4 of each of mozzarella and fontina. Top with 1/4 of parm and 1/4 of bread crumbs. Repeat 3 more layers.
Can be assembled 8 hours ahead. Bring to room temp and bake 40 min.
I was very excited to have Slow Travel friends join us from neighboring areas. Mary and Maurizio drove from near Foligno in Umbria to meet the gang. Here we are in the kitchen before the other guests arrived.
Slow Travelers, Kathy and Lou, along with in-laws Shirley and Bob, came over from where they were staying near Montepulciano.
Pino and Liz were the evening's entertainment. Pino, a talented musician, played guitar, and sang wonderful Italian ballads. Liz joined in singing American songs. I belted out "Volare" with Pino, and everyone enjoyed the music and singing.
It was time for Dolci! We made two pans of lemon tiramisu (my new favorite recipe), Pino's wife brought a selection of mini pastries, and Jerry brought chocolate filled amaretti treats from Piemonte.
Lemon Tiramisu(I quadrupled this)
5 egg yolks
1 c sugar
4 lemons, zested and juiced
1 stick (1/2 c. ) unsalted butter
Using a double boiler, bring water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until smooth (1 minute) in a metal bowl or top of double boiler. Add juice from lemons (about 1/3 cup), and lemon zest. Whisk until thickened (about 8 min.) over pot of simmering water. Mixture should be light yellow, and coat a spoon. Remove from heat, and whisk in butter. Chill, covering with plastic wrap directly over curd, so no crust forms. (May be made up to a week ahead.)
1 c. limoncello
1 c. water
½ c. sugar
Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and cook 5 minutes. Let syrup cool completely.
Whip together the following:
1 pound (2 c.) marcapone at room temp
½ c. cream
zest of 2 large lemons
juice of 2 lemons
2 T. sugar
Lay ladyfingers in bottom of 9x13 baking dish or trifle dish. Pour over ¼ of cooled syrup.
Cover with ¼ of lemon curd.
Top with ¼ of marscapone mixture
Repeat 3 more times making a total of 4 layers. Chill for several hours or overnight.
Decorate with berries, lemon wedges, or ground pistachios.
We were very proud of ourselves. We cooked everything ourselves and the food came off without a hitch, even given the lack of space in the fridge, shortage of serving pieces, and behind the scenes stuff like washing the forks three times to cover appetizers, dinner and dessert. We had a wonderful time ourselves visiting with friends, and could relax once the food was out and the music began. We spent part of the evening outside with a brachetto bottle (or two), and it was a lovely party. It is funny, but I don't eat much when I cook. All day, I ate a fig, an apricot, some crab dip, and a taste of melted pecorino. I never tasted anything else except the tiramisu. Brad ate the opposite. He had no appetizers, but tasted the sausage he grilled, the polenta, and some zucchini. After getting the leftovers put away, we were given the night off from doing dishes!