October 15, 2006

Dinner With The Monk

Saturday night was supposed to be the big dinner party -- our friend the Buddhist monk and one of Becky's friends, the Area Governor for Toastmasters. The Toastmaster friend fell ill and could not join us, so we wound up with (guess what) a surplus of food. Dinner, in classic Italian style, consisted of antipasta, primi, secondi, and dolce.

Antipasta was asparagus spears wrapped in prosciutto with a little lemon juice and olive oil, garnished with fresh avocado. Blanch and lightly steam the asparagus first; wrap the asparagus in the prosciutto first and while the asparagus is still warm, or else it will never stick without a binder like mayonnaise. Serve chilled.

Primi was mostaccoli carbonara. To make carbonara sauce, fry up some bacon and grind it into small pieces. Sop up most, but not all, of the grease, and then sweat a finely-chopped onion in it. Reserve. Meanwhile, mix four eggs, a pint of cream, black pepper, garlic powder, and generous amounts of chopped parsley until a pale yellow liquid (with the parsley floating on top) is formed. Boil a pound of pasta until al dente. In a warm pan (like a heated crock pot) melt 1/4 cup of butter. Then mix all the ingredients in the pot, stirring until the sauce thickens around the pasta. This is not health food.

Secondi was my famous steak (marinade for at least four hours in teryiaki sauce, red wine, and green onions), cooked rare over a grill with steamed broccoli seasoned with dill. I've described this before, so I need not go in to elaborate detail for it.

Dolce was tasche delle rum mele, which translates into "pockets of rum apples." An invention born of necessity -- the absence of a muffin or pie tin -- they turned out wonderfully. Slice 3 small apples very thin using a mandolin. Mix in sugar, vanilla, cinammon, ground ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Cut pie crusts in half. Wrap the half pie crust around a quantity (4-5 tbsp) of apple mixture, and fold over until the apples are wrapped in the crust. This is a basic apple turnover, so far. Now for the rum sauce: make a simple syrup (boiling water and sugar). Reduce the heat, and add spiced rum. Bring to a low boil. In a separate container, thoroughly mix some flour in to very cold water. Add to the rum syrup, and stir constantly until the sauce boils, reduces, and thickens; leave over lowest heat until the sugar begins to carmelize. A generous dollop or two on top of each turnover, with some whipped cream, turns a normal apple turnover into a decadent treat.

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