It is Friday night, end of my working week. Time to unwind, relax and enjoy the upcoming weekend.
Tonight I am hosting an Apericena, which is something in between Aperitif and Dinner (aperitivo and cena in italian), that is: finger food accompanied by a good wine, or a Prosecco.
We do this once in a while, when I’m in Rome, with my 4 best girl friends. We take turns and let our creativity flow in the kitchen, together with our lively chatting and lovely laughing. There’s no better medicine to cure the melancholy for a far away husband the night before Valentine's Day, then the company of your best friends. And a glass of red wine. And here I am, in my white kitchen, busy like a bee, trying to have everything ready before they ring my door bell.
Tonight’s menu is: Puff Pastry Fans with black olives paté and toasted pine nuts; Artichokes and Mushrooms Frittata (Omelette); Rosemary Focaccia; Cheese platter; Chips and peanuts. Sparkling water, Coke and Red wine. I did not have time to bake a dessert, but they'll sure bring some.
Finally they arrive, my friends. Bringing a Coca Cola, a Chianti wine and a platter of Carnival sweets. The Focaccia is just about done and the smell in the house is delicious. Compliments start and laughs, too. Our Girls' night has officially begun.
Puff pastry fans with black olives paste and toasted pine nuts
- 1 roll of puff pastry
- 4 tablespoons of black olive paste
- 30 gr pine nuts, toasted
Pre heat the oven to 200 °C (400°F).
Take the puff pastry roll and unroll it on a baking sheet. Toast the pine nuts in a pan. Spread the olive paste and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top. Then start to roll up the longer sides, starting with one side, and then the other, until they meet. Wrap the roll in its parchment paper and let it rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Take the roll out and cut into slices. Place them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for aout 20 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. Let cool before serving.
Artichokes Mushrooms Frittata
Ingredients: for 4 people
- 5 eggs
- 2 artichokes
- 100 g of cultivated mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 clove of garlic
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 pinch of oregano
- 1 lemon (in the water where the artichokes are soaking)
Clean the artichokes, depriving them of the stems and tough outer leaves, then cut two-thirds of height to remove the thorns.
Divide each artichoke in half, remove the hay, and soak it in a bowl full of water acidulated with lemon juice.
When all the artichokes are clean, drain and dry them, cutting into thin slices.
Peel and slice the mushrooms, then sauté them together with the artichokes in a pan with oil, chopped garlic and a pinch of salt, at medium heat for a few minutes, then turn the heat to low and cook through (it takes about 15 minutes).
Break the eggs into a bowl, add the grated parmigiano, oregano, pinch of salt and pepper, and whisk until smooth.
Pour into the pan with the mushrooms and artichokes, stir and let coagulate for 4-5 minutes, then turn over the frittata and cook for the same time on the other side.
Focaccia is a mixture of flour, water, yeasr and salt, similar to that of bread, that can be baked or grilled. My version is kind of a flat bread seasoned with olive oil, corse salt and Rosemary.
Ingredients: for 1 focaccia
- 2 teaspoons dry yeast or 12g fresh yeast
- 200ml warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar or malt
- 300g of bread flour (type 0)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and 70ml for the pan
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt and a pinch of rosemary for the topping
Preparation: 20 min > Cooking time: 15 min > Additional time: 2 hours> Ready in: 2 hours 35 minutes
- Melt yeast in warm water and pour into the food processor (or any other bowl if you, like me, knead by hand), also pour malt (or, alternatively, sugar).
- Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add half of the flour in the bowl of the food processor (or in the bowl if you knead it by hand) and mix until the batter is smooth and fairly liquid.
- Now is the right time to add salt. Knead for 2-3 minutes, then add the remaining flour and knead again, until the dough forms a ball.
- Pour 50ml of olive oil on the baking sheet (20x30 cm) where you will bake the focaccia.
- Dust with flour a work surface where you will work the dough for a few minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. Work it again to give a rectangular shape.
- Place on the oiled baking sheet and let rise for about 1 hour, until its volume will be doubled.
- After that time, take the dough and spread it on the whole surface of the pan. Brush the surface of the focaccia with olive oil (15ml).
- Let it rise again for about half an hour.
- Press the dough with your fingertips with energy.
- Brush the focaccia with the remaining 20ml of olive oil and let it rise again for 30 more minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200 ° C (400°F).
- Sprinkle with coarse salt and rosemary, spray the surface with water at room temperature and bake it in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Let the Focaccia cool on a wire rack before cutting.
I love baking and kneading dough because it takes me to a happy place in my soul.
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