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3. For the Man of All Seasons
A Father's Day Feast

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Dear Fans,

Dad deserves "the best."  Period.  This is a wonderful informal dinner to celebrate his day.  While it is certainly very appealing for youngsters and grown-ups alike, men seem to especially love these stout-hearted and robust dishes.  They love to dip the crusty Italian bread into the delicious sauce and soak up the succulent gravy.    And then, with gusto, they pick the meat off the veal shanks and scoop out every last morsel of marrow.  The Focaccia is excellent, but you may want to purchase a few interesting crusty breads and rolls with a soft crumb to serve with this meal.  

In addition, the dinner is a delight to prepare and very easy to serve.  All the dishes can be prepared a day earlier. The veal shanks should be prepared a day earlier to allow the flavors to blend. 

Many desserts to choose from.  Tiramisù and Ricotta Cheesecake can be prepared a day earlier and refrigerated overnight.  Tartuffo, Amaretti, Biscotti...all can be prepared days earlier.

Caffé Espresso is made with very finely ground Italian coffee, and is served in a demitasse or Espresso glass.  In the absence of an Espresso coffee maker, you can purchase Instant Espresso in gourmet markets.  Traditionally served with a twist of lemon peel, I very much prefer the addition of a dash of Kahlua and a dollop of whipped cream.  On a hot night, serve the Granita.

The Recipes
Peasant Bread, Tomato & Basil Salad, or
Antipasto Salad with Herbs & Cheese

Italian Focaccia with Gorgonzola, Raisins & Pine Nuts

Osso Bucco alla Milanese
Peas with Shallots and Parsley

Pink Risotto alla Milanese or
Lemon Rice with Tomatoes & Chives

Italian Tiramisù or
Chocolate Ricotta Cheesecake or
Instant Tartuffo

Italian Amaretti Macaroons
Almond Biscotti with Lemon & Orange

Caffé Espresso or Granita di Caffé

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Peasant Bread Salad, with Tomato & Basil 

An Italian bread salad is more than a salad sprinkled with croutons.  The bread is deeply flavored with olive oil and vinegar.  The Italian bread should be stale but not so dry as to be brittle.  You want a firm "spring" to it.

Salad:
1/2      loaf (about 8 ounces) 2-day old Italian bread, crusts removed,
  sliced and cut into 1-inch squares.
 3/4     pound Italian plum tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  1       small cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  6       thin slices red onion, separated into rings
1/4      cup chopped fresh basil

Dressing:
            1/4      cup olive oil
            1/3      cup red wine vinegar
            1/4      cup tomato juice
            1/4      cup minced green onions
                       salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, toss together salad ingredients.  In a glass jar with a tight fitting lid, shake together dressing ingredients.  About 1/2 hour before serving, pour dressing to taste over the salad and toss until nicely mixed.  Cover bowl and refrigerate until serving time.  Serves 6.

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Antipasto Salad with Herbs & Cheese

Herb & Cheese Dressing:
            1          cup tomato juice
            1/4       cup grated Parmesan cheese
            1/4       cup oil
            1/4       cup lemon juice
            1/8       teaspoon garlic powder
            1          teaspoon oregano flakes
            1          teaspoon sweet basil flakes
                        salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake until blended.  Store in the refrigerator for several hours before using.  Dressing will last for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.  Yields about 2 cups.

The Salad:
Depending on the number of people you are serving, use lettuce, tomatoes, black pitted olives, shredded Mozzarella cheese, garbanzos, shredded Italian salami, artichoke hearts in any combination or quantity.

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Peas with Shallots & Parsley
           
  2            tablespoons butter
  3            shallots, finely chopped
1/2           teaspoon sugar
  3            tablespoons finely chopped parsley
                salt and pepper to taste
 2             packages (10 ounces, each) frozen baby peas

In a saucepan, sauté together first 6 ingredients until shallots are tender.  Add the peas and cook for 2 minutes, or until peas are tender but firm.  Serves 6.

Note:  - Entire dish can be prepared earlier in the day and refrigerated and reheated before serving.
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Italian Focaccia with Gorgonzola,
Raisins & Pine Nuts

This bread will add excitement to the most sedate party.  Truly a masterpiece of taste, it will transform the most ordinary salad into an exciting course.  No butter is necessary, just slice and enjoy.

            2            eggs, beaten
            1/3         cup oil
            2            tablespoons sugar
            1/2         cup sour cream

            2            cups self-rising flour
            1/2         teaspoon baking powder

            1/2         cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
            1/4         cup grated Parmesan cheese
            1/3         cup yellow raisins
            1/3         cup toasted pine nuts
            2            teaspoons sweet basil flakes ( or 2  tablespoons fresh basil)

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat together first 4 ingredients until blended.  Beat in the flour and baking powder until nicely blended, about 1/2 minute.  Stir in the remaining ingredients until blended.

Spread batter into an oiled 12-inch round baking pan and brush top with 2 teaspoons of oil. Sprinkle top with additional grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350° for about 40 minutes or until top is
 browned.  Allow to cool in pan.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Yields 12 slices.

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Easiest & Best Osso Bucco alla Milanese

Try this marvelous recipe one night soon.  It is such fun to pick the succulent meat off the bones and to scoop out every morsel of delicious marrow.  Sauce is delicious and does not need to be thickened.  The aroma is fabulous and will truly delight your family and friends.  Traditionally served with Risotto alla Milanese, I prefer to add a little tomato to the rice, and I call it "Pink Risotto alla Milanese."  

3      veal shanks (also called shinbones) about 6 pounds.  Ask butcher to saw them into 3-inch pieces.  Sprinkle them with salt and pepper and dust them lightly with flour. 
6       medium onions, cut into fourths

2     cans (1 pound, each) stewed tomatoes, chopped and seeded.  Do not drain.
1     can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1     cup dry white wine
2     teaspoons beef stock base
1     carrot, grated
1     teaspoon sugar
2     tablespoons olive oil
6     cloves garlic, minced
1/2    teaspoon each, oregano, basil and thyme flakes or 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian Herb Seasoning
        salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place veal shanks in a 12 x 16-inch roasting pan marrow side down (bone upright.)  Scatter onions evenly over all.

Stir together the remaining ingredients and pour sauce evenly over the veal.  Cover pan tightly with foil and bake in a 350° oven for about 2 hours or until veal is tender.  Sauce should be quite thick.  Pink Risotto is a delicious accompaniment.  Serves 6.

Note:  - Best made a day earlier to allow flavors to blend.
      - Just before serving you can sprinkle a little Gremolada over the veal.  This consists of mixing together 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, 3 tablespoons minced parsley, 2 cloves minced garlic, and 1 mashed anchovy.

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(Pink Rice with Parmesan)

This is one of the prettiest rice dishes and is great to serve with Osso Bucco.  Please add the tomato, even if you are a purist.  It adds a lovely depth to this dish.  Can be prepared earlier in the day and reheated, over low heat, before serving.  Sprinkle rice with a few drops of water or broth before reheating.

To Make the Rice:
  1 1/4      cups rice
  2            cans (10 1/2 ounces, each) chicken broth
  1            tablespoon oil
                salt and pepper to taste

To Make the Sauce:
 2            tablespoons butter
 1            small onion, finely chopped

 1            large tomato, seeded and chopped                       
 1             teaspoon ground turmeric
               salt and pepper to taste

  4            tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (or more to taste)

In a Dutch oven casserole, stir together rice, broth, oil and seasonings, cover pan and simmer mixture for 30 minutes or until rice is stender.

Meanwhile, sauté onion in butter until onion is soft.  Stir in next 3 ingredients, and simmer mixture for about 20 minutes or until  tomato is soft.  Add sauce to the rice and stir until blended.  Sprinkle top with cheese before serving.  Serve with Osso Bucco.  Serves 6.

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Italian Tiramisu
(Lady Fingers Layered with  Cream Cheese & Chocolate)

Tiramisu has become a most popular dessert in Italian restaurants everywhere.  And it is interesting to note, that most restaurants prepare it in a different fashion. I have tasted it with sponge cake layers, pound cake and ladyfingers.  The fillings have varied also...from Mascarpone, ricotta and cream cheese.  So with this in mind, this is my version of Taramisu, using the traditional flavors of espresso, rum, and chocolate and the easiest (and most delicious) version I could muster.

Coffee Mixture:
1  cup brewed espresso or 1 cup boiling water with 2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee.
1/4   cup rum
1    tablespoon sugar

3    packages (12 each) ladyfingers, split. You will have 72 halves.

To Prepare Ladyfingers:
In a bowl, stir together Coffee Mixture until sugar is dissolved.  Brush ladyfingers halves with a little Coffee Mixture.

Cheese Mixture:
1    pound cream cheese or 1 pound Mascarpone cheese
 1/2   cup sifted powdered sugar

 1     cup cream, whipped
 2     tablespoons sweet Marsala (optional)
 1/2  cup semi-sweet chocolate, grated or chopped
1      teaspoon vanilla

       Unsweetened cocoa for sprinkling on top

To Prepare Cheese Mixture:
Beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy and smooth.  Beat in next 4 ingredients until blended.

To Assemble:
Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a10-inch springform pan and line it with parchment paper. (The butter will hold paper and ladyfingers in place.)  Place 24 ladyfingers upright, along the edge, with the split-side toward center. Line the bottom of the pan with ladyfingers in a spoke fashion.

Place half the Cheese Mixture over the ladyfingers in pan. Place another layer of coffee-brushed ladyfingers over the cheese in a spoke fashion.  Spread remaining Cheese Mixture on top.  Sprinkle top generously with sifted cocoa.

Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  To serve, remove outer ring of pan, and using the parchment paper to help you, ease the dessert onto a serving platter.  Serves 12.

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Chocolate Ricotta Cheesecake with 
Chocolate Cookie Crust

If you are passionate about chocolate, as you know I am, I know you will enjoy this glorious chocolate cheesecake.  Filling ingredients should be at room temperature to avoid lumps.

Chocolate Cookie Crust:
            1            cup chocolate wafer crumbs
            1/4            cup butter, melted
            1/2            cup finely chopped walnuts

Combine crumbs, butter and walnuts and mix until blended.  Press the mixture on the bottom of a parchment-lined 10-inch springform pan. 

Chocolate Ricotta Filling:
1/4     cup cream
 8       ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2     pound Ricotta cheese, at room temperature
 2       packages (8 ounces, each) cream cheese, at room temperature
 1       cup sugar
 3       eggs, at room temperature
 1       cup sour cream, at room temperature
 2       teaspoons vanilla

In a small saucepan heat the cream.  Add the chocolate chips and stir until chocolate is melted.  Do this over low heat so that the chocolate does not scorch.  Set aside.

Beat together the Ricotta, cream cheese, sugar, eggs, sour cream and vanilla until the mixture is thoroughly blended.  Beat in the melted chocolate.  Pour cheese mixture into the prepared pan and bake in a 350° oven for 50 minutes.  Do not overbake.  Allow to cool in pan and then refrigerate for about 4 to 6 hours.  Overnight is good, too.  Garnish top with chocolate curls or grated chocolate.  Remove from refrigerator 20 minutes before serving.  Serves 12.

Note:  - To make chocolate curls, take a vegetable peeler and run it down the sides of a chocolate bar that is at room temperature.
-Chocolate can be grated or very finely chopped in a food processor.
          
Caffé Espresso
Caffé Espresso is made with very finely ground Italian coffee, and is served in a demitasse or Espresso glass.  In the absence of an Espresso coffee maker, you can purchase Instant Espresso in most markets.  Traditionally served with a twist of lemon peel, I very much prefer the addition of a dash of Kahlua Liqueur and a dollop of whipped cream.

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Instant Tartuffo

This is a really quick way to make Tartuffo.  Generally, they are coated by dipping balls of ice cream in chocolate, which can be a little tricky.  Using a muffin cup as a base makes it fool-proof.  In many restaurants, Tartuffos are made with scoops of chocolate ice cream rolled in semi-sweet chocolate chips.  It is the easiest method and, while not traditional, still satisfying.

1   package (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
4   tablespoons butter

12   medium scoops of chocolate ice cream, just a little smaller than the muffin cups.  Shape the scoops and return them to the freezer while you prepare the chocolate.  These should not be softened.

In the top of a double boiler over hot water, melt chocolate with butter.  Allow to cool for 3 minutes. Paper-line a muffin pan with 12 muffin cups.

Place 1 tablespoon chocolate and then a scoop of chocolate ice cream in each paper-lined cup.  Working quickly, drizzle chocolate over the ice cream until the scoops are nicely coated on top and sides.  (Chocolate will firm up as it touches the ice cream.)

Place pan in freezer until chocolate is firm.  Remove paper-liner and wrap each Tartuffo in plastic wrap.  Store in a plastic bag in the freezer until ready to serve. Serves 12.

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Granita di Caffé

This is a refreshing granular ice, served in lovely stemmed glasses with a short decorative straw.  It is a nice alternative to the Caffé Espresso.

            1            cup water
            1/4            cup sugar
            4            cups strong espresso coffee

In a 2-quart jar, stir together water and sugar until sugar is melted.  Stir in the coffee.  Place mixture in ice cube trays and freeze, stirring from time to time, to form a granular ice.  If it freezes solid, crush the coffee cubes in a blender before serving.  Serve with a splash of Kahlua and a tablespoon of cream.  Serves 6.    

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Italian Amaretti Macaroons

            2            cups grated blanched almonds
            1            cup sifted powdered sugar
            1            tablespoon cornstarch

            4            egg whites
            1/8            teaspoon cream of tartar
                        pinch of salt

            1            teaspoon almond extract
                        course sugar crystals to sprinkle on top

Stir together first 3 ingredients until blended and set aside. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt until foamy.  Slowly add the sugar and continue beating until whites are stiff and glossy.  Fold in the almond mixture and almond extract until blended.

Spoon meringue, by the tablespoonful, onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and sprinkle tops with coarse sugar.  Bake at 300° for 30 minutes, turn off the oven and leave cookies in oven to dry out for 15 minutes longer. Yields about 60 cookies.

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Almond Biscotti with Lemon & Orange

            1            cup butter
            1 1/2      cups sugar

            6            eggs
            2            teaspoons vanilla

            4            cups flour
            1            tablespoon baking powder

            1              blanched almonds
            2            tablespoons grated orange zest (orange part of the peel)
            1            teaspoon grated lemon zest (yellow part of the peel)

Beat together butter and sugar until creamy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla until blended.  Beat in almonds and zests until blended.

Divide dough into 6 greased and lightly floured 9x5-inch foil loaf pans.  Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool until pans can be handled.

Ease loaves out of the pans and place on a cutting board.  Use a very sharp knife and cut each loaf into 3/4-inch slices. Place slices on a cookie sheet and return to oven to lightly toast on both sides.  Yields 6 dozen cookies.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

 ALL GOOD THINGS,
RENNY DARLING


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