The Inaugural Buon' Amici Wine Club Dinner
We are gratified by your support.
We wanted to give something back to our friends, so, on a warm (but pleasant) evening in August, 2003, we celebrated our first Wine Club Dinner. More than 70 of our members came to sample the food and the wine...
We cooked most of it ourselves and we think it was quite a success... So here are some memories of that night. Perhaps you will enjoy re-creating some of them.
on Baguette Rounds
with Fratelli Perata Verjus
Polenta with Proscuitto, Porcini and Marsala
and Bell Peppers
Cake with Raspberry Sauce
This is a Perata tradition, served with any red wine, over crusty French bread. It is our most requested recipe. As an appetizer it can stand with good bread, added to Foccacia with salami and cheese it makes a great lunch.
This is particularly good with Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, as their higher acidity balances well with the rich olive oil, and the olive and garlic flavors.
and green olives, pitted, no pimientos, in equal amounts
the olives, garlic and bell pepper, place in a container that has a
The light handed may try to use a food processor, but this easily may
to mush so be careful.
Top it all with olive oil, cover with airtight lid. Put in refrigerator overnight.
serve, drain most of the olive oil and bring to room temperature.
1 1/2 pounds fresh Portobello mushrooms
Gorgonzola cheese (about 1/4 cup) at room temperature
Red pepper vinaigrette
red bell pepper, roasted, stem, seeds and skin removed.
1/2-inch-thick slices crusty bread, cut diagonally from a large loaf
Mix all the marinade ingredients except the mushrooms. Trim the mushrooms by removing the caps (they can be twisted out) or by trimming them flat to the mushroom cap (this latter is a bit better).
Using sealable plastic bags, marinate the mushrooms in the bags for several hours at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator. Depending on the size of the bags, you may need more than one. Turn the bags over from time to time to make sure the mushrooms are well marinated.
Mix the butter and Gorgonzola cheese. This is easily done in a small food processor, but can be done by mashing with a fork.
In a small food processor or blender, mix the red pepper vinaigrette ingredients until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.
Grill one side of bread until golden, about 1 minute. Divide bread, toasted sides down, among 4 plates. Spread soft side of bread with Gorgonzola butter.
Remove mushrooms from marinade and grill 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until tender. Remove and slice thin
Arrange warm mushrooms on toasts and spoon vinaigrette over each open-faced sandwich. A mustard/ketchup squeeze bottles works really well when doing large quanties!
Addition note: A thin slice of high quality proscuitto on top of the Gorgonzola butter is a very nice addition.
4 give or take
baby greens, preferable 1/4 or 1/3 "spicy" greens
We plumped the dried cranberries in unfermented sangiovese juice (something we have a lot of around here near harvest time, of course). They can be plumped in any liquid, though water would be a bit bland. Other ideas would be wine or fruit juice.
To make our vinaigrette, we mixed about equal parts of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Kalmata Olive Oil. We then used 1 part verjus to 3 parts of the oil mixture and added salt (a fair amount) and pepper to taste.
divide the greens, top with the feta cheese, plumped cranberries,
walnuts and vinaigrette.
we decided we wanted something more than just a salad, we thought why
use "verjus"? We knew that Navarro Winery (in the Anderson Valley
of California) makes and sells a nice verjus, but in order to make it
we wanted to make our own. So we called Navarro and Jim Klein, the
was nice enough to call us back and tell us what to do. Since we
making it for sale, we found that what we needed was nothing more than
grape juice... But the trick is, the grape juice is not supposed to be
fully ripe. A lot of verjus is made from Chardonnay, which we have on
property, but by the time we found out we were doing this, it was too
Jim Klein told us we wanted juice in the 12 to 14 brix range. (Brix is
the level of sugar in grapes and is used to decide when to harvest the
grapes for wine.) It turned out our Sangiovese grapes were in that
so we picked them and crushed them in a KitchenAid Mixer (with the
strained it and froze the juice.
vegetable oil spray
Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. Combine everything in a bowl and coat well. Spread nut mixture on prepared baking sheet and bake until the nuts are golden. Stir once in a while to break up any clumps of nuts. It will take about 15 minutes. Cool on a baking sheet.
Note: the original recipe also used 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper and a generous pinch of cayenne pepper.
you want just a few nuts done quick and dirty we've found that you can
take some walnuts and put them in a small non-stick pot, add a decent
of sugar and just a bit of water and heat, relatively slowly, until the
sugar coats the nuts and they have browned. The trick is
the water and sugar and frankly, we just did it by "feel." Be
not to burn the nuts, that will happen quickly.
dried porcini mushrooms
the porcini in a sieve under cold water then soak in 2 cups lukewarm
for about 20 minutes. Pour off the liquid then rinse the porcini again
(you want to make sure to get rid of the sand and grit). If the porcini
are very large, chop them slightly.
Grill the polenta (or fry it in oil) until crusty on both sides. If frying, drain on paper towels.
the hot mushroom mixture (reheat if needed, adding a little Marsala if
needed to reheat) and add the proscuitto. Mix and spoon over the
Do not really cook the proscuitto as it tends to get tough, just warm
up quickly in the mushrooms, say 15 seconds and remove from the heat.
OK, this is NOT how your grandmother made polenta, but when you are making it for 70 people, you tend to cut a few corners. We made 20 batches.
Mix the polenta, water and salt in a 3 quart pyrex bowl. Cover and microwave on high for 8 minutes. Remove and stir until well blended. Microwave for another 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon into a buttered baking dish and let it cool until it gets firm then cut into pieces.
We grilled the polenta on the BBQ to reheat, but you can fry it or grill it on the stove on a ridged pan or even (gasp) reheat in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes.
Notes: The polenta will be less firm, but can be eaten without the second microwaving. After microwaving the polenta can be eaten as is, it will be "soft polenta."
Yes, we made this for 70+ people and at the moment our memories are such that it is easier to say how we did it for that size, but obviously this recipe can be cut down to something a bit more manageable. In fact the ingredients are all mixed by taste and feel anyhow, so use your own taste and imagination, it will be great!
oz tins of tomato sauce
Remove the sausage from the casing and, in a large pot (ok we ended up using 2 HUGE restaurant pots for our 70 people recipe), saute in some olive oil, breaking it up into small pieces. Remove from the pot, drain on paper towels, if desired and refrigerate. In the same pot, saute the onions and garlic until soft and a little golden, but do not brown. Don't burn the garlic. Add the tomato sauce, the water and 12 oz tomato paste. Add the basil and oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add some hot sauce (ok we just like to toss in a lot Tobasco in everything) to taste. Bring to a boil then simmer...
Meanwhile, roast 1/2 the peppers, remove the skins, seeds and stem and slice.
After a few hours or so of simmering, add the peppers and the reserved sausage (crumbled) to the red sauce. You can correct the flavors using more tomato paste, salt and pepper. Also if it doesn't taste "red ripe" enough you can add some sugar. Brown sugar often is nice for this. We used both brown and white sugar. Add the roasted peppers and the reserve sausage and simmer. Our overall simmer time was something like 8 hours for all this sauce.
At this point we froze the sauce, to be reheated just before serving.
Roast the rest of the peppers, remove the skins, seeds and peel and slice.
Serve the sauce over the peppers and include plenty of bread to sop it all up. Also provide best quality reggiano parmesan to go with.
we basically aimed at one pepper per person in the sauce and one pepper
per person for the sauce to go over.
So we didn't actully make the cake, but we thought it would go really well with raspberry sauce. The easiest way we know to make raspberry sauce is to go to the market and find frozen raspberries packed in sugar... Not lightly packed, but lots of sugar. These used to come in funny little oblong cardboard box looking things with metal tops and bottoms, but seemed to have morphed into plastic tubs these days. We're not talking about fruit without sugar or fruit with some sugar in bags.
Put the frozen fruit into a blender or small food processor and blend until smooth.
If you can't find the rasperries we're talking about (and, in fact, we couldn't when we were making this dinner), make a "simple syrup" by adding 1 part water to 2 parts sugar, warm in a pot until dissolved, then blend with frozen, unsweetened raspberries.
matter how you make it, use just enough liquid (add water or simple
as needed) so that it will come out really nicely through a
bottle (when you're doing it for large parties... You'll probably have
to snip the top a bit since the seeds get caught).