Saturday, 18 February 2012

A Three Dish Dinner that Shrank!

Every now and then I feel a need to make fuss of a meal and go for a three dish dinner thing. Today was one of those days :) The whole meal was prepared in Italian style, however after the main we were so full that  dessert comprised only of Italian espresso, still delicious though!
I got the idea for the starter from one of the Italian places we frequent for lunches and dinners - bread balls (made of pizza dough) served with pesto genovese (basil based pesto), pesto rosso (pesto with sun dried tomatoes), and salted butter.

For the starter you need:
about half a cup of flour
a pinch of yeast
salt
lukewarm water or milk
a splash of olive oil


Mix all ingredients and knead the dough well until it's soft and playable. Sprinkle olive oil onto it place it in a bowl, and leave in a warm place to grow for about half an hour. Then form small balls and place them on a baking tray, leave some space between them as they'll grow during baking. Preheat the oven to about 180C and place the balls inside. They don't need a lot of time in - as soon as they are golden -brown on top they're ready to be served. Needless to say, they're best served hot.
As I mentioned, they're served with green and red pesto, and salted butter; though, olive oil or balsamic vinegar, or a mixture of both works well with them too.

For main dish we had spaghetti a'la carbonara - one of the meals that stunned me how easy it is to prepare. You do need best quality, proper ingredients, but apart from being careful in order not to turn it into scrambled eggs, the preparation really is a walk in the park!

You need:
Spaghetti pasta
2 eggs
2 yokes
65 gram grated parmesan  (plus some extra for serving)
200 gram pancetta ham (can be replaced with bacon, if necessary)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
1-2 tablespoons of cream
2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Chop garlic cloves finely, and dice pancetta. Heat the oil and butter, fry the garlic and pancetta until garlic is golden. Whip the eggs and yokes, season to taste, and stir in cream (I know the Italians would shun me for thins, but do prefer it a tad creamy!) and parmesan. When pasta is cooked, drain it, add to the frying pan and toss it well. Reduce the heat to minimum and pour in the egg mixture. Stir it all well and put on the plates. Sprinkle parmesan on top and serve.


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