Mood: party time!
Now Playing: an intimate sit-down dinner for 15
Readers of my columns know about the grand holiday feasts cooked by my father-in-law Angelo, a Tuscan expat who crossed the Atlantic more than two dozen times as a merchant marine and died five years ago. Every Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and other occasions in between he would cook huge meals in his two tiny Manhattan kitchens, serving ten to twenty-five people dirty jokes, jolly camaraderie and fantastic food.
In his honor--and admittedly with my own desire to cook a big dinner--I offered to cook Easter dinner for my mother-in-law and an assortment of her friends.
I kind of surprised myself that I pulled it off, since usually timing the components of a meal for two is beyond me. I think Angelo's spirit was guiding me. I can't wait to do it again. The menu:
Crostini di fegatini (the classic Tuscan chicken liver pate on toast that Angelo often served in the living room before big dinners--mine was tasty but the texture a bit off, with no food processor on hand)
Olive (an assortment of olives from a Greek market on 9th Ave.)
Then into the dining room for:
Cosciotto d'agnello arrosto sulle cipolline primavera (a departure from italian dishes, to Macedonia, Greece, thanks to Diane Kochilias' The Glorious Foods of Greece: leg of lamb on a bed of scallion greens and fresh mint)
Involtini di pollo < saltimbocca > (homage to something Angelo might have made: pounded chicken breast wrapped around prosciutto, Italian fontina and fresh sage, but with my own added touch of Southern cream gravy)
Torta pasqualina con carciofi (a Neopolitan Easter tradition, a savory cheesecake with artichokes encased in puff pastry)
Lasagne < amerdicane > (also an homage to the way Angelo made lasagna for parties, studded with slices of Italian sausage)
Patate al forno (roasted potatoes the way Angelo cooked them, dried to shoe leather in a slow oven but scrumptious)
Scarole coi pistacchi (Sicilian in honor of my Sicilian mother-in-law Maria, escarole with pistachios)
Asparagi (topped with fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano and butter, from Emilia-Romagna)
Piselli (peas with onion, prosciutto and white wine)
Insalata verde (three salad-in-a-bags plus thinly-sliced mushrooms)
Vini Italiani e Siciliani, rosso e bianco
Pastiera di pasqua (an Italian classic candied fruit-studded not-too-sweet cheesecake, purchased on 9th Ave.) ed altri dolci (cakes, tarts and other sweets brought by generous guests)
Caffe, te, liquori
It was lovely, a fun gang, some new faces and some old, tons of fun, lots of work, a joy!