Stephen Meuse and I hosted 16 people, seated on two long tables on our back porch. Since this group was used to one another (traveling is like summer camp; you really learn everyone's quirks quickly), it was fine to sit cheek-by-jowl. The group meshed on the first day of our travels and it was just one of the reasons the trip, arranged by Carrie McDougall of Cultural Crossroads, was such a success. The other reason, of course, was the itinerary. We went into kitchens and did things ordinary travelers wouldn't have access to.
For our main course of orecchietti, a specialty of the Hingham restaurant Alma Nova, the pasta ears were tossed with DePasquale's sausage, sauteed greens, and pine nuts. I made the individual components a couple hours in advance (the baking dishes below are about 16-inches across), then tossed everything at the last minute. Recipe here. (The Sicilian tour leader told me that it tasted like home; yes, I know: those Italian men are all charm....)
To begin, we had Jacques Pepin's smoked salmon spread, which is made with fresh ricotta. I took some of the ricotta and blended it with feta and lots of herbs to make a second dish.
Then we sipped zucchini and basil soup (video on how to make it here), a recipe from Judith Barrett that I've made every summer for years.
Dessert was a semolina cake from Ottolenghi that I discovered during the lockdown after the bombing. Recipe here. I doubled the batter and baked it in a seamless springform, then garnished slices with fruit and whipped cream. It's a really lovely, easy cake that's quite moist.
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