BEYOND OUR SHORE
If you have been dreaming of a trip to sunny Italy, on a cold February morning, La Rabinessa, aka Liora Kelman worked her magic with marvelous music and fabulous food, so guests could explored a little bit of Italy.
As soon as we entered the Congregation Ahabat Sholom we were greeted with the happy music from Italy and immediately you felt like dancing. You forgot about the icy wind off the ocean outside and fell right into the feeling of the moment. The décor of Italy surrounded you and Liora greeted her guests dressed as a lovely Italian lady as she always gets into the spirit of the occasion.
Before the dinner, Liora presented her guests with a delicious array of appetizers all from her Italian cook book, which had been printed and given to each visitor. It amazes to realize this marvelous event takes place every month for all North Shore retired folks from 60 years of age and only costs $10 each. There is always some little prize such as in this case everyone received a pizza cutter. Raffle tickets on sale with wonderful prizes and they are only $1 each or 6 for $5. There were several prizes and this time a grand prize was worth about $100.
Guests have an opportunity to help with some kitchen preparation if they are so inclined and there are always lots who like to pitch in and help Liora finish with the last minute food prep. Then there is always an offer for crafts relating to the theme of the day. This day Liora asked me if I would show some of the folks how to decoupage flower pots and then we would plant some seeds so they could grow their own herbs for their Italian dishes at home. I was very happy to do this and we did have a fun time decorating our flowerpots. They were very cost effective as I was able to make them out of recycled, plastic containers and we used magazine pictures to decorate the pots. Happy growing.
Our entertainment of the day turned out to be a wonderful surprise . . . Maestro Bradley Pennington, the director of Boston Bell Canto, accompanied Rabbi Kelman on the piano as he sang Italian arias dedicated to his loving wife; very, very nicely done I might add.
A little history of Maestro Pennington; he is very highly regarded in his field and many of his students have become professional opera singers. He gives voice lessons to Rabbi Kelman and many other students in the Boston area. Johana who performed for us in Carnavale had studied with Maestro Pennington and became an international acclaimed opera singer. So in addition to the delightful food and fun crafts we had classical entertainment. What a bargain!
The following is the cookbook and menu served to guests for the Italian day – ENJOY!
FRESH MOZZARELLA & TOMATO SALAD
1 lb buffalo mozzarella 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 large, ripe, fresh tomatoes 2 T white wine vinegar
1 small handful fresh basil leaves 1 T capers, rinsed
Sal and freshly ground black pepper
Slice the mozzarella and tomatoes thinly and arrange on a serving platter. Scatter over the basil leaves and season to taste with salt and a generous grinding of black pepper.
Whisk together the extra virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar in a small bowl then drizzle over the tomatoes and mozzarella. Scatter the capers over the top and serve.
FRESH TOMATO SALAD WITH COUNTRY BREAD
½ lb loaf ciabatta bread, crusts removed 1 small handful fresh basil leaves crushed
3 large fresh tomatoes cut into small chunks ½ C extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow bell pepper cut into small chunks 3 T red-wine vinegar
½ cucumber, peeled and cut into small chunks 1 clove garlic, crushed
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Place the bread cubes with the chunks of tomato, yellow bell pepper, and cucumber in a large serving bowl. Add the scallions and basil and mix well together. Leave to stand in a cool place 30 minutes to all the flavors to blend.
Whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and garlic in a small bowl. Pour over the bread, tomato, bell pepper, and cucumber salad mixture, toss to mix in and serve immediately.
1 eggplant 1 lb canned plum tomatoes
Salt 2 T red wine vinegar
½ C olive oil 1 T sugar
1 onion, sliced 1 clove garlic, minced
2 sweet red peppers, cored, seeded 12 black olives, pitted
And cut into 1 inch pieces 1 T capers
2 sticks celery, sliced thickly salt & pepper
Cut the eggplant in half and score the cut surface. Sprinkle with salt and leave to drain in a colander or on paper towels for 30 minutes. Rinse, pat dry and cut into 1 inch cubes.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and add the onion, peppers and celery. Lower the heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the eggplant and cook for a 5 minutes more. Sieve the tomatoes to remove the seeds and add the pulp and liquid to the vegetables in the pan. Add the remaining ingredients except the olive and capers, cook 2 more minutes.
To remove the stones from the olives, roll them on a flat surface to loosen the stones and then remove them with a swivel vegetable peeler. Alternatively, use a cherry pitter. Slice the olives in quarters and add to the vegetables with the capers. Simmer, uncovered, over moderate heat for 15 minutes to evaporate most of the liquid. Adjust the seasoning and serve hot or cold.
3 C flour
1 envelope dry yeast
1 t salt
1 C lukewarm water
1 ½ T olive oil
Mix 2 ½ C of the flour with salt and yeast. Add gradually the lukewarm water and the olive oil. Mix until dough is soft. Sprinkle ½ of flour on surface of dough and knead until smooth and flexible. With the dough, form a ball and put in an oiled bowl and brush it with a little oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place for approximately 2 hours. Knead again a little and let rise for another hour or until you make the pizza.
MINISTRONE WITH PASTA AND BEANS
3 T olive oil 1 can (14 oz) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 celery stalks, finely chopped ½ C macaroni
3 medium carrots, finely chopped 2-4 T chopped flat-leaf parsley to taste
1 medium onion, finely chopped salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed shaved Parmesan cheese, to serve
2 cans (14 oz each) chopped tomatoes 4 C chicken stock
Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add celery, carrots, and onion and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are softened.
Add the garlic and tomatoes, breaking them up well with a wooden spoon. Pour in the stock. Add salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil. Half cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, until the vegetable are soft.
Drain the beans and add them to the pan with the macaroni. Bring to a boil again. Cover, lower the heat and continue to simmer for about 20 more minutes. Check the consistency and add more stock if necessary. Stir in the parsley and taste for seasoning.
Serve hot, sprinkled with plenty of Parmesan cheese. This makes a meal in itself if served with chunks of crusty Italian bread.
3 T olive Oil 3 waxy new potatoes, diced
1 large onion, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 T sun-dried tomato paste about 5 C chicken stock or water
1 lb ripe Italian plum tomatoes, peeled ¼ C shredded fresh basil
And finely chopped 2/3 C grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz green zucchini, trimmed and salt & freshly ground black pepper
8 oz yellow summer squash, trimmed and roughly chopped
Heat oil in a large saucepan, add onion and cook gently for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until softened. Stir in the sun-dried tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, zucchini, squash, diced potatoes and garlic. Mix well and cook gently for10 minutes, uncovered, shaking the pan frequently to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the base.
Pour in the stock. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, half cover the pan and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender. Add more stock if necessary.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil and half the cheese. Taste for seasoning. Serve hot, sprinkled with remaining cheese.
1 ¾ C unbleached all-purpose flour 2 T margarine, chilled & cut into ½ inch cubes
2 T sugar 2 egg yolks
½ t cinnamon ¼ to ½ C sweet wine
¼ t salt
Vegetable oil for frying
1 recipe Ricotta Cream
Chocolate Pastry Cream or Pistachia Pastry Cream
Powdered sugar for dusting
Chopped pistachios for garnish
Candied Orange Peal or halve candied cherries for garnish
Directions: For the Shells:
Sift the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the margarine. Cut the margarine with a pastry blender until the mixture has the consistency of coarse cornmeal.
In small bowl, beat together the egg yolks and wine. Add to the flour, a T at a time, just until the dough begins to cling together. It should be lumpy.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until it is smooth and satiny and tiny blisters appear on the surface. The blisters mean that the wine is beginning its fermentation in the dough which will produce a crisp, light shell. Inadequate kneading will result in large irregular air pockets in the dough that will puff up and explode when they hit the oil,. Cover the dough and let it rest in a cool place for 1 hour.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough 1/16 inch thick and cut it into 3-inch circles with a glass or cookie cutter. With a rolling pin, roll the circles into 3 X 5 inch ovals. Wrap each oval around an aluminum cannoli tube and seal the edges with a little water. Meanwhile, in a deep heavy0botomed saucepan, add enough oil to come to a depth of 3 inches; heat to 350 degrees on a deep-fry or candy thermometer. Fry 2 or 3 shells at a time (on their tubes) until golden brown and crispy. About 1 ½ minutes. Holding the cannoli tubes with tongs, gently shake the shells loose and drain them on paper towels. Let cool completely before filling.
Fill a large pastry bag with any one of the fillings and squeeze it into the shells, filling helf of each shell at a time and working from the center out to the ends. Dust the cannoli with powdered sugar and decorate the ends with chopped pistachios and candied orange peel or cherries.
THREE CITRUS SALAD WITH HONEY & PINENUTS
1 white grapefruit 2 oranges
1 red or pink grapefruit 2 T runny honey
½ C pine nuts
Peel and segment the citrus fruit. Remove the membrane and cut the flesh into chunks – this is best done by hand over a bowl so as to catch the juice. Mix in the honey and let chill for several hours or overnight. Just before serving, toast the pine nuts and scatter over the top.