Italian Chef's Tasting Menu - 2/29/13

Set up/wine Tasting Menu  Opening gifts Behind the scene

Most of the recipes I am serving tonight are from the Bottega and a few dishes from Marc Vitri.  Tonight I am trying to re-create Michael Chiarello's essence of bold Italian flavors and my intend is to treat my friends to a great meal in the comfort of our home! I am also hoping to pay homage to Michael Chiarello's food and let's just hope I will make him proud.  Let's start!


Course 1:Trio di Antipasti (Appetizers trio)

1-Angry Tuna, 2-claims Mojito, and 3- salmon with ponzu and grated ginger sauce.



Left: Angry Tuna is made with finely sliced Serrano chile, fried basil leaves, sea salt, garlic chips, and drizzled with olive oil.  It is call "Angry" because of the spicy Serrano.

Middle: Clam Mojito made with freshly chucked clams, drowned in sake, fresh lemon juice, mint infused syrup and light soy sauce- recipe from Nobu

Right: Salmon with ponzu sauce and  grated ginger.


Close look at the salmon with ponzu sauce.


Course 2: Ancient grain Polenta with mushrooms and balsamic sauce

This dish is one of Chiarello's signature dish!

Served with a layer of creamy polenta that is very creamy almost like a warm, savory textured Crème brûlée, topped with a layer of caramelized shitake mushrooms and drizzled with a dark, deep sauce of balsamic sauce. 


Chiarello put a pieced of toasted bread between the polenta and the mushroom but I opted to serve the toasted bread on the side.

The balsamic sauce is actually the star of this dish!  It is tasty and has deep favors and that's why you add to add the extra sauce with each bite.

Click on LINK to see preparation work.


Course 3: Insalata (Salad) -

Tortino di calamari e carciofi -(Squid artichoke galette)

This dish was inspired by Marc Vitri, the rising star in Philadelphia and has the reputation as being one of the most respected and influential Italian restaurants in the country.

Vitri mixed artichokes hearts with squid and the sautéed them like potato pancakes and then served them with seasoned arugula and a squeeze of lemon juice.




The textures and flavors are well married.  The slight bitterness of the artichokes perked up the squid and both has a chewiness that felt great in the mouth.

Basically this dish tastes like fried calamari but with a twist!

Click on LINK to see preparation work.


Course 4: Pasta - Potato gnocchi ravioli with egg yolks, crispy sage and bacon bits

I made the potato gnocchi from scratch and I am happy the way they turned out!
The potato gnocchi is filled with a Swiss chard & ricotta filling and in the center is nestle a perfect golden egg yolk.  The dish is served with a carbonara sauce, bacon bits to add a bit of crunch and saltiness, and fried crispy sage leaves.


Our friends' eyes were rolling with surprise when they cut into the potato gnocchi and the yolk runs onto the plate!

It was a really nice surprise.

Click on LINK to see preparation work.


Course 5: Pressed pork belly with pan juice served with eggplant caponata and roasted vegetables.

I love this dish!  The skin is crispy and the pork belly was simply amazing!


First the pork belly was braised in the oven for about 2 hours and then when it is time to served all I needed to do is to crank the oven to 450 degrees and bake it for about 15 to 20 minutes until the skin is crispy! 

This dish was a total hit!  Seems like everyone enjoyed the dish.

Click on LINK to see preparation work.

Course 5 (2nd option): Milk braised lamb shank

A few of my friends cannot eat Lamb so I decided to make the braised lamb shanks and the pressed pork so they can pick whatever their heart desired!

The recipe actually called for goat milk but I opted for regular milk.  The lamb shanks are braised with milk and lots of fennel (about 4 bulbs).  The sauce came out to be so amazing and the dish was even better the next day!


In this recipe Chiarello commented that the when you braise a piece of meat with milk it will turn the meat silken, soft, and delicious. True to his word the Lamb shank felt off the bone and it was simply delicious!

Click on LINK to see preparation work.

Course 6: Dolci (Desserts)

-Chocolate polenta soufflé and Fried milk

Chocolate Polenta soufflé from Marc Vetri.

This soufflé is actually versatile!  You can bake it ahead and the re-heated before serving without compromising the texture and moisture of the soufflé.

I served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Love it!

Click on LINK to see preparation work.


Fried Milk recipe from Marc Vetri

I know... you are probably asking hat the heck is fried? and how can you fry milk?

This dessert is actually made with a custard with egg yolks, it is then refrigerate for a few hours.  When it is time to serve, the custard is cut into long strips dipped in egg wash, coated with a layer of bread crumb and then fried.  

The fried milk is then coated with powdered sugar an then served piping hot.


The lemon zest and orange zest in the custard give the fried milk a really nice flavor.

Click on LINK to see preparation work.




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