Friday, June 4, 2010

Italian Al Fresco Family Divas - May 2010

Diva:  Stacey

Drinks:  Lovina

Red and white wines and flavored sparkling waters

Appetizer:  Mariah and Colleen
World's Best Artichoke Dip (Mariah)

8 oz artichoke hearts
8 oz fresh grated parmesan cheese
8 oz whipped cream cheese
8 oz mayonnaise or sour cream
Add a few shakes of red pepper flakes for a little flare

Mix in large bowl.  I don't recommend blending this in a food processor, as artichoke heart leaves are best in larger pieces.  Spread in baking pan, up to 3" deep.  Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbling with brown edges.  Cool and serve whatever strikes your fancy I am a serious fan of raw asparagus!

(Modified from

Caprese 3 ways (Colleen, for 27):

3 lb fresh mozzarella
a little over 2 lbs of tomatoes

fresh basil


olive oil


Slice the mozzarella and tomatoes in approximately 1/4 inch slices.  Rinse and dry basil.  For 1st variation, stack mozzarella, tomato, and basil leaf and arrange on a tray.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste.  For variation 2, stack mozzarella and tomato and arrange on a tray.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste.  For the 3rd variation, I used pesto (recipe follows) that I had added extra olive oil to to make it fairly thin.  Stack mozzarella and tomato and arrange on a tray.  Spoon thinned pesto over "stacks".  Sprinkle with salt to taste.


2+ cloves of garlic

~2 inch chunk of parmesan
~1/4 c pine nuts

lots of basil

olive oil



Place first 3 pesto ingredients into a food processor.  Fill the rest of the food processor with basil.  Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.  Food process until smooth.  Add more olive oil until desired consistency is reached.

Salad:  Aven
Tortellini Salad Al Fresco

⅓ c olive oil
1⅓ c white basalmic vinegar
⅓ c raspberry jam
1 T mustard powder
salt and pepper to taste

1 c sundried tomatoes
½ red onion, sliced thin
¼ c capers
1 c  olives, quartered
1 ½ to 2 lbs asparagus, cut into bite size pieces
1 bunch broccoli rabe, chopped
24 oz. tortellini (3 boxes)

Mix dressing ingredients.
Marinate onions and tomatoes in dressing while preparing other ingredients.
Cook tortellini according to package directions, during last 3 minutes of cooking add asparagus, add broccoli rabe during final minute. 
Drain and rinse under cold water.
Toss pasta and veggies with remaining ingredients. 

For vegan/gluten free version use brown rice in place of tortellini.

Side Dish:  Bonnie
Asparagus with Gremolata

1 bunch parsley
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 1 lemon,
 5 cloves garlic
½ c olive oil
salt and pepper to taste.

Put in a food processor and whirl until it is a thick sauce.  Thin with additional olive oil if desired.  Spoon over roasted or steamed asparagus.

Entree:  Ashley
Braised Beef Braciole Stuffed with Basil and Fresh Mozzarella

1 2-lb flank steak
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ c shredded Parmesan cheese
1 c shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese
⅓ c bread crumbs
12 large basil leaves, torn into pieces
¼ c olive oil
1 yellow onion, cut into thin strips
½ c red wine
1 28 oz. can (3 c) whole tomatoes and their juices, pureed
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
8 oz. white mushrooms, quartered
3 cloves garlic, chopped

Set the flank steak on a large cutting board.  Using a chef’s knife, slice the steak lengthwise along one side and open it up like a book.  Using a meat pounder, flatten the meat so it’s about ¼ inch thick.  Sprinkle both sides of the meat with 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper.  For the stuffing, put the mozzarella, parmigiano, breadcrumbs and basil in a mini chop or food processor and pulse to combine.  Sprinkle the stuffing evenly over one side of the beef and roll it up lengthwise jelly roll-style with the mixture inside.  Secure with kitchen twine in 5 or 6 places.

Heat half the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it’s shimmering hot.  Add the beef and cook until it browns and releases easily from the pan, about 2 minutes.  Flip and cook the other side until browned, about 5 more minutes.  Transfer to a large plate.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the onion to the pan, and lower the heat to medium.  Sprinkle with ½ tsp salt and cook, stirring until the onion wilts completely and turns a light brown, about 8 minutes.  Add the red wine and cook, stirring until it almost completely reduces, about 2 minutes.  Add the tomato and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a gentle simmer and tuck the meat and mushrooms into the broth.  Cover and cook, repositioning the meat occasionally, until the meat becomes tender and cuts easily with a paring knife, about 1-½ hours.  Set the meat on a cutting board and let rest for 10-15 minutes.  Thinly slice and serve topped with the sauce and vegetables.

Dessert:  Erin
Chocolate Tiramisu Mousse

1 c double strength coffee OR 1.5 T instant espresso powder dissloved in 1 c water

¼ c granulated sugar
¼ c rum (light or dark)

⅓c unsweetened cocoa powder

1 ¼ c whipping cream, divided

2 c mascarpone cheese
¼ c powdered sugar, more for optional garnish

2 tsp vanilla extract

4 oz semisweet choclate, grated, divided

24 ladyfingers, hard or soft

In a shallow dish, combine the coffee, granulated sugar, and rum.  Set aside, stirring occasionally to ensure sugar dissolves.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cocoa powder with 1/4 c (I used 1/2 c) of the cream and stir to mix, then stir in the mascarpone cheese until smooth and evenly blended.

Whip the remaining 1 c. of cream with an electric mixer at a medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture, then fold in half of the grated chocolate.

Dip 1 side of half the lady fingers in the coffee mixture. Line the bottom of a 9x13 pan** (or a 10" springform pan or trifle dish) with ladyfingers espresso side up. Cover them with half of the mascarpone filling. Dip 1 side of the remaining ladyfingers into coffee mixture. Lay them, espresso side down, over the filling. Spread the remaining filling. Cover dish with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours*** or overnight. Just before serving sprinkle the remaining grated chocolate over the tiramisu. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, and cut into squares to serve.

Makes 12 16 servings and can be made up to a day in advance.  I doubled the recipe for our Divas and Dudes picnic.

Wild Card:  Tamara
Italian Herb Bread

1 ½ c water
2 T butter
4 c bread flour
2 T sugar
2 tsp salt
3-4 T of an Italian herb mix or or any combination of your favorite Italian herbs.
1 ½ tsp fast rise or 2 tsp active dry yeast

If using fresh herbs, double amounts.

Use the dough cycle of a bread machine and bake in the oven at 375 for about 20 minutes.  Cool before cutting.

Lottery:  Sara

1 comment:

Connie said...

Looks like a lovely and delicious time!