FESTIVE non-traditional ITALIAN meal MENU

Inspired by the colors and textures I chose for this season's tablescape...
I was lured into the holiday cooking spirit a little sooner than usual.

A small detour from our traditional Festive Italian Menu was born last week.
A slightly desperate need to grasp onto some early season spirit was so welcomed. 

Receiving guests a little earlier was a great practice run to...
getting into the swing of hosting throughout the coming Holidays ;o)

Here are a few delights I had going on within the day of hosting.

Although, thankfully most parts were 'day-ahead' preparations.

Italian stuffed DATES
Plump Medjool DATES get stuffed with decadent ITALIAN delicacies.

Italian stuffed DATES
Prosciutto di Parma...Torta Mascarpone...Pecans...
with some decorative, roasted pepper purée (optional).
Realize this simply exquisite appetizer from this past recipe.

Entrée (option-1): 
Sausage Tomato Olives and Peas pasta
A quick on the spot pasta meal will lighten up the load.
 The sauce was made an hour ahead and kept warm to receive the cooked pasta when almost ready to get served.

Sausage Tomato Olives and Peas pasta
4 servings
Sauce: a quick mix of vegetable and sausage: 
. A sautéed blend of onion, garlic, Italian sausages along with a big splash of Port wine.
. Joining the party: crushed (canned) tomato, (frozen) peas, slices of roasted red peppers.
.  A generous helping of sliced black olives brought the dish to completion.
. Don't forget the generous topping of grated Parmegiano cheese ;o)

Entrée (option-2): 

Vegetarian Canoli Crêpe Gratin
A little more time consuming, however, parts of the assembly (crêpes and vegetable mix) were made ahead.
These savoury crêpes were layered onto a plate and covered for safe keeping in the refrigerator overnight.

Vegetarian Canoli Crêpe Gratin
4 large or 8 small crêpes
Sauces: Vegetable mix and a light tomato sauce topping 
A sautéed blend of sweet onions, garlic, red and orange bell peppers, zucchini.  
Italian seasonings rounded off this stuffing for the thin crêpes to be rolled.
. A typical Italian Tomato sauce preparation was lightly draped onto the stuffed crêpes
. A blend of shredded cheeses: Gruyere, Cheddar, Fruilano capped off the rolls.
. The soon to be realized canolis were slipped into medium heat oven until all cheese was melted.


Main meal:  MEATLOAF turns into muffin puffs:
(served with roasted potatoes or other side dish of choice)

Pork Sausage vegetable
MEATLOAF muffin puffs
with a Goat Cheese center
makess 12 units

(American / Metric measures)

. 2 xLarge eggs
. 1 tsp. (5ml) Worcestershire sauce
. 1 Tbsp. (15ml) Dijon mustard
. 1 Tbsp. (15ml) Tomato paste
    . 1  tsp.(5ml) sea salt
    . 1 tsp. (5ml) granular garlic powder
    . 1/2 tsp. (2.5ml) each dried: marjoram, basil, tarragon
    . 1/2 tsp. (2.5ml) each dried: mint, rosemary, sage

. 1 small, sweet onion, grated
. 1 large garlic clove, crushed
. 1 medium sweet potato, grated
. 1 small zucchini, grated
. 1 small red bell pepper
. handful of Italian parsley leaves, chopped (optional)

. 2 lbs (~1 kg) medium-lean, ground Pork
. 2 large, mild, Italian sausages, cased
. 1 cup (80g) Parmigiano, grated, packed
. 1/4 cup (40g) flaxseed, finely ground
. 1/4 cup (40g) dry bread crumbs

. 12 small pieces of Goat cheese

. Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C/Gas5.
. Position the rack in the center of the oven.
. Place a muffin pan onto a baking pan to protect the bottom of the meatloaf puffs from burning.  

Grease each muffin cavity very lightly with vegetable oil.  Set aside.

1. In a very large bowl, whisk together everything from PART-1.
2. To this mix, gradually add and combine ingredients from PART-2.
3. Last, except for the flaxseed and dry bread crumbs, mix in the ingredients from PART-3.  Now, add and combine the flaxseed and bread crumbs.  Manipulate by hand. Do not over-mix.
4. Use a 1/2 cup (120ml) measuring cup to pack individual portions.  Place them temporarily on a tray.  Afterwards, flatten each meat portion, while adding a piece of cheese in the center.  Wrap it back up and gently form a compacted ball before placing it into the prepared pan.
5. BAKE for 30 minutes.  Then, close the heat and leave them in the closed oven for another 15 minutes.
. Remove from the oven and let the meatloaf puffs rest for about 5 minutes before gently removing them from the pan.  Serve immediately with your favourite side dish.  

This small holiday sprint was practiced on family participants who...
were pleasantly surprised to be hosted earlier this year. 

A slight veer away from our traditional festive menu turned our marvelously swell ;o) 

Here's to more festive recipes going forward.
Happy Holidays.

Flavourful wishes,

Comments or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at:  foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

Go HERE for more SAVOURY creations.

Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)

. Use DRY cup measurements for...you guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new recipe...run to the store...you'll thank me later.