Sunday, December 20, 2009

On to ITALY!!!!

So, the theme of the evening which was technically hosted by Bill and Alicia even though it was held at Beth and Rob's (due to the crazy and sneeze-inducing cats on Littlestone Ave) was threesomes. Yes, folks, that meant that there were threes of everything! Well, except for dessert, but that would really have been overkill. We were also joined by two other friends, Jeff the farmer and Nancy the enforcement.

Of course, there was much wine that we enjoyed as well as killing an entire bottle of sambuca. I can't remember all the wines, and the bottles have already been recycled. Suffice to say that they were all good enough to drink!

Without further ado, here are the appetizer recipes. The rice balls were my favourite, probably since they were such a reward for the time they take to make:

Olivada - Black Olive Pate

1 cup pitted back olives (preferably oil cured

4 sprigs of flat leaf parsley

2 tbsp breadcrumbs

1 tbsp butter

1 ½ tsp grated lemon zest

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Bread (any kind you like)

Olive oil


  1. In a foot processor, combine all ingredients, except bread and olive oil. Blend until a smooth paste forms
  2. Brush bread slices with olive oil. Grill or toast until golden. Spread each slice with about 2 tbsp of the olivada. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Funghi Marinati con Olio e Limone

Mushrooms Marinated with Oil and Lemon

1 pound fresh button mushrooms

½ lemon, freshly juiced

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, cut in thick slices

2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper


  1. Wash mushrooms quickly as they can get waterlogged otherwise. You also can brush them clean if they are not too sandy.
  2. Steam mushrooms in a large double boiler for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Drain on paper towels and pat dry.
  3. Meanwhile, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Put mushrooms in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Pour liquid over all, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Stir occasionally. About ½ hour before serving, remove from refrigerator, discard garlic, stir again, and transfer mushrooms to a serving dish. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 8-10.

This recipe can be prepared a day in advance.


Stuffed Rice Balls

1 ¾ cups chicken stock or water

1 cup rice

½ tsp salt

¼ cup pecorino or Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

2 tbsp salami, finely chopped

2 eggs

4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut in ½ cubes

1 tbsp water

¾ cup finely ground bread crumbs

Olive oil for frying


  1. In a large saucepan over high heat, add stock or water. Cover and bring to a boil. Add rice and salt and stir. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for 15-17 minutes or until rice is tender but not mushy. Remove from heat, mix and let air dry, uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the cheese, parsley, salami, and one egg, well beaten. Mix thoroughly. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, add remaining egg and water and beat well. Put bread crumbs in a flat dish.
  3. Using a scoop or measuring spoon, place 1½ to 2 tbsp of rice into the palm of one hand. Roll into a ball. Press thumb into the centre and tusk in a square of cheese. Roll to seal cheese securely. If rice is too sticky, dredge hands in flour before forming the ball. Put rice ball on a cookie sheet and repeat the process until all the rice is used up.
  4. Roll each rice ball in the egg bath and then in the bread crumbs and return to the cookie sheet. Repeat until all are coated.
  5. In a large, heavy skillet, over medium-high heat, add about 1 inch of olive oil. Fry the rice balls a few at a time; do not crowd. Turn constantly and cook until golden brown, about 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Do not leave unattended. Drain on paper towels and serve hot or warm.

Makes 22-28 rice balls depending on size.