with Ricotta & Spinach
in a fresh Tomato Sauce
with a Sausage and Meatball Sauce
Green Beans with Caramelized Onion
Flourless Chocolate Cake
I set about typing up the recipes so all could follow and purchasing the ingredients for our cook date. What happened is that the entire menu became a cooking lesson with the whole family pitching in. Then everyone, including me (though I didn't expect that) sitting down to eat.
I hope they all had a good time and learned something they can use for their everyday meals. I especially enjoyed working with their son who was quite enthusiastic, especially about the chocolate. Instead of just having the lesson for one of the dishes, it was a total lesson for the entire meal. We ended up doubling the recipe for the crepes so they could store some in their freezer. Double the work but I had assistants.
Here are some photographs followed by one of the recipes. A very casual plating of the main course is pictured here too. I'd never made a pasta sauce quite like that but devised something especially for them. Sorry no photo of the Flourless Chocolate Cake...it has a way of disappearing...
|Everyone chopping garlic (or eating cheese.)|
|Polenta, Sausage & Meatball Sauce, Green beans with Caramelized Onions|
|Happy & Hungry.|
Florentine Crepes cookingontheriver
Crespelle alla Fiorentina
Serves 6 to 8
For the Crepes:
1 cup flour
½ cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup water
1 tablespoon (plus ¼ cup) olive oil
Process it all together. Or make it by hand: gradually add the milk to the flour beating vigorously, then add the eggs, salt, olive oil and water. Beat until smooth. Leave to rest for at least half an hour. Either use a crepe pan or a non-stick frying pan to make the crepes. Usually the first one is just a tester. Heat the pan well and add the ¼ cup olive oil to heat. Pour the heated oil into a container that you will keep by the side of the stove.
Every time you want to make another crepe, take a little of the already warmed oil from the container. Okay. With the pan at medium to medium-high heat, pour a ¼ cup of batter into the pan. Move the pan so that the batter covers the surface making a nice round. As soon as the crepe sets turn it over and cook the other side. Repeat, stacking the crepes into a pile. Keep warm. Or, you can make the crepes in advance and freeze them. Put some waxed paper between each crepe and slip the stack into a plastic zip bag then put flat into the freezer.
For the filling:
1-2 packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
1 pound ricotta cheese
pinch of nutmeg, freshly ground
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Drain and squeeze out the liquid from the spinach then chop fine. Add the spinach to the ricotta, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix together very well.
For the sauce:
1-2 large cans chopped plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano type
1 medium red onion, small dice
fresh garlic to taste, minced or large pieces, your choice
salt and black pepper
Put the tomatoes into a bowl --break up the whole tomatoes by squishing them with your hands.
Saute the onion in the olive oil. Once the onion is wilted add the garlic and sauté.
Stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Let the mixture simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.
Taste and see. If the tomatoes are slightly bitter, don’t be afraid to add a pinch of sugar or a teaspoon of honey. This is not a very cooked sauce and it will be cooked again in the oven.
To assemble: Oven 425F.
Put a small amount of the tomato sauce at the bottom of a ceramic or glass oven dish. Fill each crepe with a generous amount of filling, then roll up and arrange side by side the dish. Place in the dish open side down. Pour the sauce over the crespelle. You don’t have to use it all; sometimes just a light covering is enough, then again covering it completely is pretty good too. Sprinkle some fresh Parmigiano cheese and/or mozzarella on the top if you like. A little bit of olive oil sprinkled on the top is nice too, but if you are counting calories leave it out. Bake for about 20 minutes or until it is all bubbling nicely.
Chef tip: adding a little uncooked olive oil over the top right before serving is a very Florentine touch.
The crepes will be pillow-y soft and unctuous to the taste. These can be served in individual portions for a starter or several as a main dish.
Don’t forget a light red wine to drink with these crepes.