Monday, August 19, 2013

Siobhan's Birthday Luncheon

Sliced tomatoes with oregano sprigs ready to be roasted.


Deli sandwiches

Pan Fried Scamorza with Roasted Tomatoes

Polenta Elisa

Stuffed Mushrooms Caps

Jam Cake

In honor of my daughter’s 14th birthday, we had a luncheon for her, and invited family and some friends.  She decided to have Italian food as she is part Italian.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was at my local Costco when Franco & Angelo ( was doing a demo on their various mozzarella products.  So I used their products in some of the following dishes:
Assorted Olives – Store bought black olives and marinated Italian green olives.
Fried Pedron and Cubanelle Peppers – I grow these which are similar to Italian frying peppers.  Fry in olive oil until blistered in spots.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.
Tomatoes with CiliegineCiliegine is cherry-sized mozzarella made from 100% whole cow’s milk.  On a riff on Caprese Salad, I combined ciliegine with mixed grape tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, Italian herbs, kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper.
Stuffed Mushroom Caps– I combined the mushroom stems with softened cottage cheese, walnut pieces, onion powder, garlic salt and kosher salt.  Puree in a food processor, and stuff the mushroom caps with the mixture.  Bake at 350°F until golden brown.
Pan Fried Scamorza with Roasted TomatoesScamorzais a plastic(or stretched) curd cheese, in which the fresh curd matures in its own whey for several hours to allow acidity to develop by the process of lactosebeing converted to lactic acid. Artisanalcheesemakers generally form the cheese into a round shape, and then tie a string around the mass one third of the distance from the top, and hang to dry. The resulting shape is pear-like. This is sometimes referred to as "strangling" the cheese.  The recipe I used said to slice the scamorza and pan-fry them on high heat until they start to melt.  Well, my scamorza slices started to melt immediately.  They did not turn out like the picture in the cookbook which was slices with well-defined borders; my melted slices were like blobs, but tasted good nevertheless.  So I placed the scamorza on a bed of spinach (you could use any salad green like arugula, dandelion, etc.) and topped with roasted tomatoes (sliced and roasted with salt, sugar, olive oil and oregano sprigs).
Deli Sandwiches – On a sandwich roll, I placed a slice of mozzarella, mortadella with pistachio, sopressata and capicola, sliced tomatoes and baby artisanal lettuces.  You can use any combination of salumi and greens.  Then I added Italian dressing using a squirt bottle to the sandwich.  The vegetarian version featured grilled sliced eggplants/red bell peppers/scallions instead of meat.
Linguini with Pesto– There are different kinds of pesto but perhaps the most popular in the U.S. is the green Pesto alla Genovese.  It is made from garlic cloves, pine nuts, fresh basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, coarse salt, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino-Romano cheeses all ground up traditionally using a marble mortar and wooden pestle.  A food processor may be used instead for convenience.  It may be stored refrigerated in an air-tight container by adding extra virgin olive oil on top to prevent discoloration.  Pesto must be served room temperature on top of, or mixed with hot pasta. 
Polenta ElisaPolenta is cornmeal that once boiled into a porridge, can be eaten as is, or baked, grilled or fried.  Make one recipe of polenta by boiling 3 cups of water and 1 cup of milk.  Slowly whisk in 1 cup of polenta and cook until the mixture thickens and the polenta is tender.  Season lightly with salt.  Pour into a greased casserole dish.  I topped it with sliced Provolone as I couldn’t find Dolce di latte.  Make another recipe of polenta and pour on top of the first layer, and add more sliced cheese.  In another saucepan, sauté coarsely chopped garlic and minced fresh sage in butter until lightly browned.  Pour on top of polenta/cheese.  Bake until browned in spots.  A denser polenta may be made by using 3 cups of liquid; this kind of polenta may be sliced and fried or grilled.
Jam Cake – I suggested getting pound cake, filling it with Meyer Lemon Curd and dusting with powdered sugar.  But my daughter wanted a French vanilla cake instead.  So we made (2) 13x9” cakes and filled it with Triple Berry Jam.  I make both the Meyer Lemon Curd and Triple Berry Jam.
Let me know if you would like me to post details or actual recipes of any of the above dishes, or if you want me to give more information about a specific ingredient.  In future posts I will tell you more about my jams and other DIY food projects!  I hope you enjoyed this description of my dishes.  Buon appetito!


  1. That polenta was delicious! So light and delicate. I love the picture of the Scarmorza.

    1. Adding another cup of liquid made the polenta light, and by omitting salt from the flavor of the cheese, butter and sage came through.


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