Sunday, July 29, 2012

An Italian Birthday Meal

Mamma Buon Compleanno!

Each year, for my mother's birthday, Greg and I cook a special meal with regional cuisine. Last year, we made a Spanish tapas meal, and two years ago we made a French meal. This year, we researched and planned an Italian meal. My mom, stepdad, and grandmother came to partake of our hard work.

We spent a lot of time trying to find as many authentic recipes and imported products as possible. I bought a lot of Italian wine and some delicious grapes. My mom enjoyed some imported blood orange soda, and everyone tried three kinds of Italian cheeses.

I taught myself how to make Italian bread, and I found out it is incredibly easy. I've made it twice since then, and never have we wasted a slice. It really was as delicious as the bread I had at the bakeries and cafes when I visited Pisa, Sorrento, and Rome.

Henry slept for the first hour or so, thank goodness. This allowed us to eat our appetizers (fried shrimp and calamari) undisturbed. Once Henry was up, he was into everything.

I made a menu instead of a birthday card, and I used an online translator to put the selections into Italian. None of us speak any Italian, so I suppose we wouldn't know if the online translator had errors.

Greg made a delicious pasta dish: rigatoni with sausage, artichokes, asparagus, and fresh grated imported Parmesan cheese. Mmmmmm.

Nick was happy to "help" whenever he could, so I called him the sous chef. I think my favorite part of the meal was the fried calamari. Of course, I forgot to take a picture of that, and we ate every bite, so there weren't leftovers.

I already did a post about my quest to make homemade cannoli. They turned out pretty good, especially after I dipped the ends in bittersweet chocolate. We stuck a candle in the cannoli, and it worked well in lieu of a birthday cake, especially when served with gelato. Nick couldn't wait to dig in. I think my mom enjoyed herself, and I know we all ate way too much. That is the sign of a good meal.

Oh, and I almost forgot. My other dessert challenge was Italian spritz butter cookies with the maraschino cherries in the middle. My picture didn't turn out well, but the cookies were delicious.

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