Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Date Night May 13, 2015

It's Wednesday.  To most of you that means today is our Date Night.  Don't get me wrong.  It is.  And I think I've done a pretty good job with this one.

But Wednesday is also my "big clean" day.  You know, bathrooms, dusting, vacuuming.  This part of my day has really been an epic fail.  In part, I think, to the "pretty good job" I did with Date Night.  I only have so much energy, and this week it has been waning.   So I do the important things first.

Like make gravy, er Spaghetti sauce to you non-Italians.

By 9:25 I already had my sauce bub-bub-bubbling away

It looks good, doesn't it?
So I'm sure you've figured it out.  If I started with tomato sauce, tonight's DN must be Italian.  You would be right, it is.

Let me start at the beginning of our meal.

Cocktails

Manhattans  

I do know how to make other drinks.  It's just my favorite.

Appetizer

Panzanella


What's that?  you ask.  It's Italian Bread Salad.  You toast some cubes of bread (a little EVOO, Italian seasoning for 10 minutes at 400) and toss them with some tomatoes in a simple red wine vinaigrette. 


You can see the thinly sliced shallot.  There is also a couple of finely diced garlic cloves in the mix. There really should be fresh basil, but I didn't have any and Dear Husband doesn't like herbs as much as I do.

I have some little mozzarella balls that I may add.  And I have some pretty glass bowls that I'll serve it in.

Dinner


Getting back to my gravy.  I started in a way I never have before.  I halved a head of garlic and tossed it with about 1 pound of grape tomatoes in olive oil and  little salt and pepper. I roasted them at 425 for about 45 minutes.  When they were cool enough to handle, I dumped the tomatoes into my food processor and squeezed in the roasted garlic.  Then I let it rip.  YUM!

That was the first time I used, and then washed my food processor today.

Then I sauteed a diced onion in some olive oil, added my tomato paste, and a couple glugs of red wine (to the pot, not to me) and started adding my canned tomatoes and the roasted tomato garlic mixture.  By the time I was satisfied with my concoction, it had a bunch of herbs (including fennel seed...another new one for me) some parmesan, and some sugar.  I think it's a winner.

But, Kristen, you say, Dinner can not just be tomato sauce.

You'd be right, it's not.  I made braciole (braa-zhole).  This is an Italian "stuffed" flank steak. I have made this before but have always used a whole flank steak usually butterflied.  I did something different this time.

Let me tell you about the stuffing first.  It's grated provolone and parmesan cheeses, minced garlic and flat leaf parsley.  Bread crumbs, olive oil, and a little bit of salt and pepper.

So this time, instead of asking the butcher to butterfly if for me, I tried to do it myself.  This was not a complete disaster.  I ended it up with many thin slices of flank steak.  (This is actually more how my grandmother would it make it.  She could buy beef for braciole in her local market.  So far I can't.  I may ask Mariano's to help me out next time.)



As you can see from the pictures, you spread some of the filling over the slices of steak and then you tie them with butchers twine or impale them with tooth picks.

Then these little bundles of yumminess are seared in pan, the pan is deglazed with white wine and the whole shebang gets added to the gravy.  it then goes into a 350 degree oven for 90 minutes.

The filling was the fourth and final time I used and washed my food processor today.

Dessert


Between making the gravy and making the braciole, I made dessert.

This proved to be a headache and frankly a pain in my back, too.  You see, I wanted to make a cannoli tart.  Okay, I did make a cannoli tart, just not with the crust on the website.  I tried.  It tasted great, but I couldn't work with it.  It was too sticky.  I tried to fix it but I'm not a baker.  There are things I can bake, and bake well.  This wasn't one of them.  

This was the second time I used and washed my food processor.  Have I mentioned yet that there is a bowl, a lid, a blade and insert-y thing on the lid that all have to be washed?  I'm not complaining, I just wanted you to understand that this isn't just like washing a spoon or bowl or something.

I decided that Pillsbury puff pastry would make a better crust.  I'll let you know if it was or not.

So then I used my food processor the third time to make the cannoli filling.   This tasted pretty good.  Actually, it tasted really good.  


Did I mention the chocolate chips?  There are chocolate chips.  And there is amaretto in the filling too.  Why did I bother making braciole?

That's what's been cooking in my kitchen...pretty much since 8:00 this morning.

happy cooking