December Italian Gourmet Night

Third party was the December Gourmet Night:

Tony Caputo's Red Pesto

3 oz. sun-dried tomatoes
3/4 cup (or more) extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmeasan Cheese
1 cup packed fresh parsley
4 cloves of garlic

Soften the sun-dried tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and pat dry. Combine with the olive oil, Parmeasan cheese, parsley and garlic in food processor and process until smooth. Serve with fresh bread or toasted baguette slices.

Baked Cheese with Sundried Tomatoes and Basil (Favorites Cookbook)

1 (8 oz.) log of goat cheese
4 oz. sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Oil small baking dish. Place log of cheese in dish and bake for 25 minutes at 450 degrees. Mix sundried tomatoes, garlic and basil. Top cheese with mixture and serve with crackers or sliced baguette.

Italian Wedding Soup (Barefoot Contessa)

For the meatballs:

3/4 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed
2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons milk
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the soup:

2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3/4 cup diced celery (2 stalks), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
10 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup small pasta such as tubetini or stars
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed (I put about half of the spinach)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. With a teaspoon, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (You should have about 40 meatballs. They don't have to be perfectly round.) Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.

Serves 8

I served this salad at this party and then took it to a different one and got great reviews at both! It is a fabulous recipe for a Ceasars Salad, truly the best!

Ceasar Salad (Karen Zanetti)

For the Croutons:

2 large garlic cloves
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
2 cups French baguette slices cut up into 1/2 inch cubes (white bread works too)

For the salad dressing:

1 large egg
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 medium garlic clove, crushed
1 pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste or 4 flat anchovies (I use the tubed anchovy paste)
1 teaspoon capers
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup virgin olive oil


2 medium heads of romaine lettuce -- outer leaves removed
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese -- grated

Prepping the croutons - Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crush the garlic cloves with the side of a chef's knife (be very careful) or with a garlic press. Slice up the baguette and cut them into 1/2 inch cubes.

Prepping the salad - Again crush the garlic. If you are using flat anchovies out of a can, mince one or two to make 1 1/2 teaspoons worth. Grate the Parmesan cheese. It's always better to grate it yourself if you have the opportunity.

Croutons - Combine garlic, oil, salt, and bread cubes in a bowl. Mix until cubes are coated evenly. Spread the coated cubes onto a baking sheet and bake until the croutons are golden. This should take about 10 minutes.

To make the salad - Bring a pot of boiling water to boil, add egg and cook for just 45 seconds....NO MORE. This is coddling the egg. Remove from heat and let it cool off.

Meanwhile, mix the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper, anchovy, mustard and capers in a bowl. Crack egg and add to these ingredients. Whisk until smooth.

Now for the tricky part. Slowly add the oil in a steady stream while constantly whisking again until smooth. Reason: if you add the oil too quickly, the dressing will be separate and not emulsify.

To serve:

Tear the romaine lettuce into 1-2 inch pieces and add them to a large bowl (wooden if you have one). Add half the dressing, toss, add remaining dressing, Parmesan cheese, and croutons and toss again. Serve on chilled plates.

Rigatoni "d" (Maggiano's) (Recipe Zaar #181230)

(Maggiano's Rigatoni "D" My spin on Maggiano's BEST pasta dish! Totally heavenly! Also...for anyone doing low carb-substitute low-carb pasta & you've got a meal that makes you swear you're cheating!!! (the sauce is thin-but if you've noticed, it's thin at Maggiano's too! If you like it thicker, just lower the heat and let the sauce reduce some more) Also-if you want to use a rotisserie chicken, you turns out quite well if you are pressed for time.)
by Erin101378)

55 min | 25 min prep


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
10 ounces button mushrooms
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, pureed
salt and pepper
1 lb chicken breast, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 quart chicken stock
2-4 ounces marsala wine (Cribari)
2 ounces white wine
1/2 quart heavy cream
1 lb rigatoni pasta
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped (and parsley mix)
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
2 ounces garlic butter
parmesan cheese, shavings (garnish)
chopped fresh parsley (garnish)

Heat oil.
Caramelize onions.
Saute mushrooms with balsamic vinegar.
Add onions to the mushrooms.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add chicken.
Add chicken stock, Marsala, and white wine. Cook until reduced by half.
Add cream and bring to a boil.
Turn down heat and simmer to skim away any impurities.
Cook rigatoni al dente.
Add drained rigatoni to chicken mixture in pan and finish with basil-parsley mix, parmesan cheese, garlic butter, and salt and pepper.
Add more Marsala for flavor as needed.
Place in pasta bowl and garnish with parmesan shavings and chopped parsley.

Christmas Chocolate Mousse (Favorites Cookbook)

In top of double boiler melt:
3 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup of milk
1 (4 oz) Hershey Chocolate bar, broken

Stir over hot water until melted and cool.

Whip 1 cup of whipping cream and fold into cooled chocolate mixture. Pour into small dessert dishes and chill. When ready to serve, garnish with a daub of whipped cream and a small candy cane or a piece of fresh holly.
Makes 4 servings.

Whipping Cream (Jen Oettli)

This whipping cream is the best you have ever had! Truly Greg and I fight over the bowl and beaters. We had left over and put it on waffles with peaches and it was soooo yummy! Anyway it is restaurant good on every pie in the winter and strawberry shortcake all summer.

8 oz. whipping cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2-2 teaspoons vanilla

Whip cream till almost firm. Add sugar and vanilla and then continue to whip till firm. Serve.

Super fun Christmas Dinner! Thanks for humoring me with the hats!


  1. The Italian Wedding soup looks delicious!! I just got some Himalayan sea salt and organic peppercorns from Sustainable Sourcing and I think I'll try them both out in that recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Delicious, Andrea! Great job on everything.


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