Food, Recipes, Tablescapes

Foodie Adventure Revisited

Several of our Maine gourmet group joined us in Cortona for the April Foodie Adventure, so when we met for our first summer meal it seemed right to recreate some of what we made.

IMG_1487Setting the table to inspire memories of Italy was easy.  The centerpiece was a $3 find from the local Goodwill.

IMG_1488Clusters of red grapes repeated the look of the clusters on the candelabra.  Talk about an easy creation!

IMG_1394Dishes, each with a different Italian landscape and wine, bought some years ago at TJ Maxx completed the theme.

IMG_1393It’s hard to imagine a table coming together more quickly than this one.  With the plates having so much color and energy, there was no need for more than a simple background.

Now for the meal.  We prepared so many good dinners that it was hard to pick favorite dishes, but I finally decided on mozzarella with prosciutto and tomato confit for an appetizer and seafood pasta for the main course.  The appetizer was a big hit, and you might want to give it a try at your next Italian themed dinner gathering.


2 T. olive oil

6 thin slices prosciutto

Tomato & Garlic Confit

6 6 oz. balls mozzarella

2 T. basil, coarsely chopped 

Brush the insides of small ovenproof ramekins with olive oil.  Line them with prosciutto, allowing some of it to extend to the top of the dish so it will crisp when baked.

Add 2 T. of the confit and top will a ball of the mozzarella.  Top with another tablespoon of the confit and drizzle with the remaining olive oil.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Tope with basil and serve with crisp crostini.

Tomato & Garlic Confit

10 plum tomatoes

5 T. olive oil

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1/2 c. finely chopped yellow onion

4 large garlic cloves, minced

8 oz. tomato sauce

1/2 t. sweet paprika

1/2 t. sugar.

Core and halve the tomatoes lengthwise.  Place them cut side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzle them with 2 T. of olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for 40 minutes at 350.

Heat 3 T. olive oil in a medium pan and sweat the onions for  2 minutes over medium high heat.  Add garlic and cook briefly.  Reduce the heat and add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, paprika and sugar.  Cook for 30-35 minutes or until the mixture becomes very thick.

Place the mixture in a food processor and blend to a fine paste.

Note:  I suggest using only 1/2 mozzarella ball or 3-4 little ones as this is quite filling.  Also, when you bake be sure to put the dishes on a cookie sheet to avoid trashing your oven with grease from the prosciutto.  I wouldn’t let the meat overlap  the sides of the dish.

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Tablescape Thursday



From Michael’s Kitchen

Every night during our Tuscan Foodie Adventure, we prepared a fantastic four course meal.  There were so many tasty dishes that it’s hard to say which was a favorite, but Michael’s pork saltimbocca was very high on the list. You just might want to add this to your list of favorite recipes.

Pork Saltimbocca with Prosciutto, Fontina and Sage

Four 5 oz. pork cutlets

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 ozs. thinly sliced prosciutto

6 ozs. thinly sliced fontina or provolone cheese

10 sage leaves

2 T. olive oil

1/4 c. flour

Place a pork cutlet between two 12″ pieces of plastic wrap.  Gently pound the pork to about 1/8″ thickness being careful not to rip holes into the pork by pounding it too thin.  Remove the top sheet of plastic; season with salt and pepper.

Divide the prosciutto and cheese into 6 stacks.  Top 4 of the stacks with a sage leaf.  Place these over half of each prepared pork cutlet, leaving 1/2″ exposed around the edge of the pork.  Fold the remaining half over the prosciutto/cheese, making sure the edges of the cutlet touch.  With the back of a large knife, gently pound the edges of the pouch to seal them.  This step should be done several hours in advance, covered and refrigerated until time to cook.

Shortly before cooking the prepared cutlets, finely slice the remaining 2 prosciutto/cheese stacks and gently mix together with your fingertips.  Put aside.

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium/high heat.  Lightly coat each side of the prepared pork with flour, shaking off excess, and put into warmed pan.  Lightly brown for 3 minutes on each side.

To serve, top with sage cream and the mixed prosciutto/cheese mounded on the sauce.  Sprinkle with chopped Italian parsley and a sage leaf.

Sage Cream

4 T. unsalted butter

1 T. canola oil

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

1/2 c. white wine

2 T. white wine vinegar

1 small bay leaf

1/2 c. heavy cream

salt and white pepper to taste

2 whole sage leaves

Dice the butter and bring to room temperature.

Heat the oil in a 2 quart saucepan.  Saute the onions over medium heat for 2 minutes, being careful not to brown.  Deglaze with the white wine and vinegar.  Add the bay leaf and reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Add the heavy cream and reduce by half, whisking occasionally.

remove the pan from the heat and immediately whisk in the butter, mixing well.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl.  Season with salt and white pepper.

Finely slice the sage leaves and stir into the cream.  Keep in a warm place until served.

When I fix this at home, I’m likely to serve it with a vegetable or risotto and a salad, but here’s what we had to accompany it.

First Course: Tuscan Onion Soup with a Pecorino Crust

Second Course: Porcini Mushroom Ravioli with a pine nut/brown butter and cured Fontanelle lombo

Third Course:  Pork Saltimbocca

Fourth Course:  Rice Fritters with Vanilla Gelato

Now, I ask you, isn’t this a real foodie adventure!

Here’s to the chef and his eager band of helpers!

Joining Foodie Friday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

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