It was Catherine's birthday today, and we haven't had a Gourmet Club dinner in a long time - so it was the perfect time to make a full course meal from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. We had a wonderful night! I was impressed that the four children made it through six courses. Jack, our little gourmand, ate everything - he wants the leftovers in his lunch tomorrow.
Catherine is French, so she's grown up with the long, multicourse meals. I served small portions, so we didn't leave the table overfull.
I meant to take pictures of each course, but it didn't happen. Almost everything we had is on the platter above.
Course #1 - Appetizer - Tomato stuffed with shrimp. I made mayonnaise for the first time; it was very good but thinner than I expected. This looked impressive, and unfortunately, it's the only thing not pictured.
Course #2 - Pasta - Penne with bell peppers and Italian sausage. This was a huge hit! I think each child had three servings.
Course #3 - Entree - Veal Scallopine with asparagus and Fontina. This caused the only problem of the night - when I was making the pan sauce reduction, the smoke detector went off because I had the pan too hot. Other than a slightly hazy room, everything was fine.
Course #4 - Salad - Green beans with lemon and olive oil. Delicious! Catherine's daughter had seconds - of green beans. These were very simple to make and benefitted from being cooked in salty water.
Course #5 - Fruit - Black and White marinated grapes. I liked this refreshing segue. Black and green grapes have a glaze of fresh orange juice, sugar, and lemon zest.
Course #6 - Dessert - Fourteen Layer Cake. The cake is not from the Italian cookbook; supposedly it's a Southern cake, but I've lived in Georgia for eight years and nobody's ever made me one! The greatest revelation about this cake is that there is such a thing as chocolate cream cheese frosting. And a tesseract.
Fourteen layers! The recipe is here on Bakerella's website. I baked my layers for 15 minutes in the disposable pans with a cookie sheet underneath to conduct the heat. I loosened the layers with an off-set spatula and didn't use parchment. The cake takes a while to make because I can only fit two pans at a time in the oven, but the techniques are not difficult. I loved making it - it's so pretty!