|Alec and Sonoma|
|Kai, looking a bit more stylish and masculine|
(see Aunt Kai with his tray of Cannoli, here)
|Nina slipped into a mini-toga and exchanged her fedora for a gold leaf headpiece|
|Sparks and Olivia|
Kellee's Caprese Bruschetta
|Kai's Moretum, a type of herb cheese spread the Ancient Romans ate with bread|
|Nina's Pasta Puttanesca|
Here's how Nina prepared the pasta: "The pasta was a puttanesca, I did it from memory: Extra virgin olive oil, several cloves of garlic minced and cooked for a couple minutes over low heat, take off heat, throw in some chopped kalamata olives and fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, a squeeze of lemon (my touch, love the acid and liveliness it adds) and throw the hot pasta over the whole thing, toss with some grated parmesan and serve. I think it's normally served without cooking the garlic first, but the saute takes the edge off the garlic so it's kind of nice like that."
|A peek of shrimp from Zuppa di Pesce alla Romana, a Roman-style fish soup|
In researching Roman cuisine, I came across Saltimbocca alla Romana, which consists of veal, prosciutto or ham, and sage, rolled-up and cooked in Marsala and butter. I adapted Tyler Florence's version, here, using chicken, prosciutto, sage, white wine, chicken broth and lemon. I was also able to prepare it at the park on our little portable gas stove, which only runs about $17.00 at Ranch 99 Market. I'm sure people at the park think we're out of control with these gourmet picnics, but I know they envy the sights and smells around our picnic blanket!
|Saltimbocca alla Romana|
For dessert, I brought the remaining cannoli from the night before, and made a fresh Plum Tart with Italian plums I found at the Hillcrest Farmers' Market that morning. Italian plums, sometimes called Empress plums, are native to the Mediterranean coastal regions of Italy. They are yellow-fleshed delicacies with low-water content and dense texture, which allows them to keep their shape during baking. Their flavor falls between sweet and sour after cooking, making them ideal for fall cakes and crumbles. I served my tart with John's whipped cream, spiked with bourbon and nutmeg.
Italian Plum Tart
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties! Ideas and Recipes for Easy Parties That Are Really Fun
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), diced
1 egg yolk
2 pounds firm, ripe Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered lengthwise
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine the flour, walnuts, and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment. Add the butter and the egg yolk and mix until crumbly (alternatively, pulse together all ingredients in a food processor).
Press 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9 1/2-inch springform or tart pan (you can also use a rectangular tart pan, as I did, or even mini-tart pans). Arrange the plums in the pan, skin-side down, to form a decorative pattern, beginning at the outside and working towards the center.
Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the plums (I had too much crumb mixture and used the excess to an additional mini-tart). Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it's lightly browned and the plum juices are bubbling (mine was done at about the 40-minute mark). Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer the tart to a flat plate. Serve warm or at room temperature, with or without whipped cream or ice cream.
|Beautiful Italian Plums and the crumb mixture used for the bottom crust|
|Quartered plums are arranged in a decorative pattern on top of the crust|
|The remaining crumb mixture is then sprinkled over the top of the plums|
|Baked Plum Tart|
We have one remaining Concert on Sunday, and then our Third Annual Southern Jubilee, and then John's Annual Halloween Extravaganza, and then...
We sure know how to picnic and party!