Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Big TV Night At Home

Plenty of entertainment last night. Not only did the Giants clinch a spot in the World Series with a 7th game playoff series win, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney had a little playoff of their own -- the last presidential debate leading up to election day November 6th.
Our friends and fellow election followers down the road have been coming over to join us for dinner and debates. Last night's battle was centered on foreign policy so I opted for Italian (as I often do -- debate or not).
 Debates are challenging menus to plan. Food that doesn't need a knife is key. Nothing that makes too much noise or requires conversation. No bones, no shells, no peels. A dish that can still be appealing if not piping hot is another plus. James was so happy with the pizza we had the other night he suggested I whip up a couple pies  for the event. James doesn't like fresh tomatoes (well, everyone has a flaw) and he's not all that crazy about tomato sauce so I try to make inventive pizzas featuring his favorite ingredients. Potatoes, a topping I often saw on white pizzas in Italy but rarely see in the states, is a house favorite. Our debate version was a garlicky pesto sauce, potato slices, peppery Calabrese salami, Mozzarella and a sprinkle of parmesan -- along with oregano and chili flakes. Because bread god Jim Lahey's no-knead pizza dough recipe makes two crusts and because you can never have too much pizza (it is James' favorite leftover) I went for a second variety -- mushroom, prosciutto, red onion, thyme, and tangy Teleme cheese with the obligatory sprinkle of parmesan.
 I rounded out our TV dinner with a couple of salads. Tricolore  -- arugula, endive, and radicchio with a piquant anchovy dressing and colorful cherry tomatoes from our backyard dressed with balsamic, olive oil, chili flakes, fresh oregano and plenty of basil.
Dessert is another challenge. Something tasty at room temperature, fairly light, that doesn't need last minute attention (I don't like to miss too much of the debate myself). In my dessert desperation -- I forgot the gelatin for my planned panna cottas at the store -- I once again turned to baking great Jim Lahey. His tortinos di cioccolato are light, flourless (they use bread crumbs as a binder) make ahead wonders (the recipe claims they will keep 3 days in an airtight container though they never last that long around here). Just before closing statements I topped the chocolately cakes with soft bourbon flavored whipped cream and balsamic and sugar roasted figs.
No debate on dessert it's a winning combination.

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