April Charm City Cookbooking

April 15, 2009 at 9:15 pm | Posted in Dessert | 4 Comments

This month Julie hosted and chose – Essentials of Classical Italian Cuisine by Marcella Hazan. That cookbook is quite the amasse of fantastic Italian recipes. We made some amazing dishes- here you can see the egg and spinach fettucine pasta ready to be cooked! And much to my surprise- Julie uses the same fantastic lights that I just bought! I think I am going to have to tote mine around whenever we have cookbook club from now on so we can really show off our stuff!

We had a spinach crepe dish for the appetizer, a squid and potato concoction for another appetizer, a ham and mushroom creamy “straw & hay” pasta dish, baked artichoke hearts with braised lamb shoulder for our main, and then lemon ice cream and pisciotta (olive oil cake) to finish!

Check out the layered crepes- you can’t really tell that there are layers in there, but there was and the bechamel sauce that Joanne cooked up was dream-like. So creamy and inviting! I was handed a plate of this right after frantically working for 4 hours on Good Friday! It was just fantastic.

Next was Joannes second appetizer- squid with diced potatoes in a tomato broth. I was amazed how fresh and toothy the squid was. I normally associate squid and other seafood similar to squid as squishy things (I have yet to overcome my distaste for oysters… 😦 ). Anyways, this dish surprisingly turned out to be soup-like and I loved the flavor combination of the potatoes and the squid. Delicious flavor and the squid (apparently the frozen kind from H-mart) tasted as fresh as can be! I need to go H-Mart more often!

This dish, this dish! Renee really outdid herself with this dish. The fresh pasta alone was outstanding and then the addition of the ham and mushrooms with heavenly creaminess?? I could not eat enough of this.

The main course included more amazing concoctions. Apparently those artichokes were quite the bear to prep (unluckily for Julie and Renee) but luckily for Julie- the lamb shoulder was quite simple (although lengthy) to prepare. Fresh artichokes are such a treat so I was very happy to have them that night. Typically lamb meat is a strange beast to me (we think its the gamey-ness) but as I continued to eat this the tender and perfectly fatty meat I fell in love!

Lastly, after much entertaining conversation and hilariousness we had some cake and ice cream! These two dishes appear to be an unlikely pair, but the lemon rind and savoryness of the cake is complemented very well with the very tangy frozen dessert! Here’s the recipe for both πŸ™‚


2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup plus 2TBS sugar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for the pan
Grated peel one lemon
1 tbsp baking powder
1- 1/2 cups AP flour
1/3 cup dry Marsala wine

A 2 1/ pan


Oven preheat oven to 400 F. Beat eggs and sugar until lemon colored. Add the grated lemon peel, salt, Marsala, milk, and 3/4 cup olive oil. Mix together baking powder and flour, then add to other ingredients and combine well. Grease pan with olive oil, pour batter into pan. Bake in upper part of oven 50 minutes. Let cake cool 10 minutes,
then loosen it from sides with knife and invert onto rack to cool to room temp. I probably could have baked it about 5 minutes less (a tad crumby for my taste) but it turned out great!

For the ice cream: Take the rind from 3 lemons (approx 1/4 cup) and boil in 3/4 cup water with 1/2 c sugar and 1/3 c lemon juice for 2 minutes and strain. Then cool and add 1/3 cream and stick it in the ice cream maker! Turned out beautifully. So tangy and just a little bit of creaminess from the cream.

So overall this meeting of the chefs proved amazing! We really missed Coralie (crazy travel schedules are not conducive to 7 hour cooking extravaganzas!) Next month is Chinese- can’t wait!



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  1. Hey, we made some really great stuff, didn’t we? Yum!

  2. Sounds like a love feast to me! Everything sounds delish!

  3. that all looks so good, esp. that pasta dish! i gotta get my ass to the gym so i can get home and eat some cheesy, creamy pasta! πŸ™‚

  4. Your pictures are much better than mine! I am hungry again…see you soon.

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