In last Sunday's food section, the recipe for Strawberry-Almond Rose contained an error. The crushed Amaretti di Saronno cookies should make 1/2 cup not 2 cups. STRAWBERRY-ALMOND ROSE (8 to 10 servings) 1/2 cup crushed Amaretti di Saronno cookine (see note below)* Cream sherry about 3/4 cup 2 cups heavy cream whipped 1 quart strawberries Crush the cookies with a rolling pin or in the food processor. Add enough sherry to make a soft paste. fold the whipped cream into the cookie paste. Refrigate this tortoni overnight. Save 8 to 10 small, perfectly shaped strawberries. Slaice the remaining berries; you should get at least three 1/4-inch-thick slices from each berry. These are the rose petals. At serving time, place a large scoop of tortoni in each champagne glass. Place a whole strawberry around the center to look like rose petals. Or simply serve the tortoni covered with sliced strawberries. Note: Amaretti di Saronno cookies are available at Italian delicatessens and at gourmet grocers. They are sold in attractive cans, but may also be purchased in small wrapped packets of two cookies each. You will need 8 of these packets. I know of no good prepackaged substitute for these cookies, but any good almond macaroon should do the job.
MENTION spring's invigorating air and lush scenery to a Washingtonian and the reply is "Enjoy it now, the summer is coming." If this is true, then it's time to send out invitations for a small al fresco brunch on the patio, balcony or in the yard. If you don't have a patio or balcony, invite friends to join you at a public park. Before long, the noonday sun will be too warm for anyone but sunbathers.
Since al fresco is Italian for "in the fresh air," why not an Italian menu? Begin with an elaborate antipasto salad, looking like spring in its abundance of marinated green vegetables, bright purple onions, red radish roses, tiny white mushrooms and scarlet cherry tomatoes. It can be followed by a light but filling cannelloni alla romana. This is pasta or crepe filled with spinach, ricotta and parmesan cheese and served with two sauces, a creamy bechamel and a tangy tomato and basil. The cannelloni can be served alone or with fresh asparagus cooked with mushrooms. A dry white Italian wine, perhaps a soave, is a good accompaniment.
A strawberry dessert also belongs in a springtime party, so we will stud our biscuit tortoni with sliced berries, creating a strawberry-almond rose. A bottle of asti spumanti to wash down the berries and a hearty espresso make a perfect ending. MARIA'S ANTIPASTO SALAD (8 to 10 servings) 2 6-ounce jars of marinated artichoke hearts 2 cloves of garlic, mashed 1 cup olive oil (or half olive, half vegetable) 1 teaspoon oregano 2 teaspoons dry basil 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper Salt to taste 1/4 pound of fresh green beans, cooked 2 carrots, cut in sticks and cooked 1 large red onion, sliced thinly 1/2 pound small button mushrooms, washed and dried 2 green peppers, seeded and sliced 1 can rolled anchovy fillets 4 ounces of black Italian olives 1/4 cup red wine vinegar Lettuce to line the salad plate 8-ounce can of Italian tuna (or substitute oil-pack American) 4 thin slices provolone 1 basket cherry tomatoes 8 thin slices Italian salami 1 bunch radishes, cut in roses
Drain the oil from the artichokes into a large container with a tight lid, a half-gallon jar or a plastic refrigerator bowl. Add the garlic, oil, herbs and salt and pepper, and stir. Have the beans and carrots cooked and cooled. Add them to the marinade with the uncooked onions, mushrooms and green peppers. Return the artichokes to the marinade.
At serving time, line a large platter with lettuce. (Red leaf lettuce or curly endive made a good background.) Give your marinating vegetables another shake and arrange them around the outside edge of the plate. Open the can of tuna and unmold it in the center of the platter. Cut the round slices of provolone in half and shape them into cones. Place the cones around the tuna and place a cherry tomato in each cone.
Roll the salami slices like cigarettes and place them between the cheese cones. Garnish with radish roses and more cherry tomatoes. Grind fresh pepper over the salad just before serving. Allow your guests to serve themselves. Don't serve wine with this. CANNELLONI ALLA ROMANA (8 servings) 16 squares of fresh pasta or 16 crepes (see recipe below for pasta) 3 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach 1 pound whole-milk ricotta 2 eggs 2 egg yolks 1 cup parmesan 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (fresh-ground is best) 1 recipe bechamel sauce (recipe below) 1 recipe tomao sauce (recipe below) 1/2 cup minced parsley
Make the pasta squares or crepes. (If you use crepes it should be called crepes alla romana.) Or if you don't want to make either of these, you can use egg roll wrappers for the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with cold water and place 4 kitchen towels on the counter. Drop 4 pasta squares or egg roll wrappers into the boiling water. Boil for 3 minutes. Remove and drop into the cold water. Remove and place on towels. Thaw the spinach and squeee out all of the water. Mix the spinach with the ricotta, eggs, egg yolks, parmesan and seasonings. Taste to adjust the seasoning.
Divide the filling betwen the 16 pieces of pasta. Roll up the cannelloni and place them in a baking dish in a single layer. This may be done the day before. Just remember to remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before serving.
Pour the bechamel sauce over the left side of the cannelloni and the tomato sauce over the right side.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the minced parsley down the center, making a thin line of green between the red and white. These are the colors of the Italian flag. If you are taking this to the park, cover with foil and wrap in a 1/2-inch-thick layer of newspapers. Tape tight and place in a paper bag. BECHAMEL SAUCE 4 tablespoons butter 1/4 cup flour 2 cups milk 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (freshly ground is best) 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
Melt the butter in a 1-quart saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add the cold milk gradually, stirring with a whisk. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook until thickened. Simmer for 5 minutes longer. Cover with a piece of buttered parchment paper. TOMATO SAUCE 1 onion, minced 3 cloves garlic, mashed 1/4 cup olive oil 2 28-ounce cans Italian tomatoes 2 teaspoons dry basil 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft. Drain the tomatoes. Put the liquid in the pan with the onion and garlic. Chop the tomatoes and add them to the sauce. Add the basil, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.The sauce should be reduced by half. Pasta 2 cups all-purpose flour 2 large eggs 1 tablespoon oil
Place the flour in a mound on a board. Make a well in the center of the flour large enough to hold the eggs and oil. Beat the egg and oil together in a bowl. Pour into the well. Use a fork to gradually incorporate the flour in the eggs. Use enough of the flour to make a fairly stiff dough. Knead it well.Divide into two pieces. Adjust your pasta machine to the widest setting. Run the pasta through again. Repeat until the pasta feels very smooth and elastic. Use as much flour as necessary to keep the pasta from sticking to the machine, adjusting the machine after each rolling to make the dough thinner. When the dough is as thin as for fettucine, stop rolling. Cut into 6-inch squares and dry slightly before boiling. If you do not have a pasta machine, it is possible to roll the dough with a rolling pin, but it is very difficult. I would recommend buying egg roll wrappers, which are made of egg pasta with a little cornstarch. ASPARAGUS AND MUSHROOMS ITALIAN-STYLE (8 servings) 3 pounds of asparagus 1 stick butter 1 pound of mushrooms, sliced 1/4 cup white wine 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Wash and break the tough ends off the asparagus. Cut the tips into diagonal slices about 1/4-inch thick. Heat the butter in a large saute pan that has a tight lid. Saute the mushrooms until they turn color. Add the asparagus and stir over high heat for 3 minutes. Mix the salt and pepper with the wine. Add the wine to the asparagus and cover immediately. Steam for 3 minutes. Serve immediately. ESPRESSO
An old Italian man gave me the secret for making a substitute for espresso when you don't have a machine. Use whatever type of coffee maker you have. Use 3 tablespoons of espresso roast coffee for each 3/4 cups water. Pour 2 tablespoons of good brandy over each 3 tablespoons of coffee and let it rest for 30 minutes before making the coffee. The alcohol extracts some of the essential coffee oils to produce a stronger brew. Of course the brandy flavor doesn't hurt the taste either. STRAWBERRY-ALMOND ROSE (8 to 10 servings) 2 cups of Amaretti di Saronno cookies (see note below)* Cream sherry, about 3/4 cup 2 cups heavy cream, whipped 1 quart of strawberries
Crush the cookies with a rolling pin or in the food processor. Add enough sherry to make a soft paste. Fold the whipped cream into the cookie paste.Refrigerate this tortoni overnight. Save 8 to 10 small, perfectly shaped strawberries. Slice the remaining berries; you should get at least three 1/4-inch-thick slices from each berry. These are the rose petals. At serving time, place a large scoop of tortoni in each champagne glass. Place a whole strawberry in the center. Arrange the slices of strawberry around the center to look like rose petals. Or simply serve the tortoni covered with sliced strawberries.
*Note: Amaretti di Saronne cookies are available at Italian delicatessens and at gourmet grocers. They are sold in attractive cans, but may also be purchased in wrapped packets of two cookies each. You would need 8 of these packets. I know of no good prepackaged substitute for these cookies, but any good almond macaroon should do the job.