I finally made it to Italy week! Italian food is definitely in my wheelhouse since a lot of my experience in the kitchen came from cooking with my Italian stepmom and my deep and meaningful love of pasta. The main thing I wanted to make during Italy week was tiramisu, since it is one of my favorite desserts and I had never made it before. The rest of the menu was easy to plan since I had my stepmom’s meatball recipe. One of the friends I invited to dinner was a vegetarian, so instead of making pasta with the meatballs I made eggplant parmesan, another Italian classic. Italian food to me means family, home cooking, and lots of cheese. So that is what I thought of when I made my Italian dinner.
I started with the tiramisu since it needed time to set. The first thing to do was mix the coffee with milk, sugar and rum. I also added a little bit of kahlúa as well just for good measure. I put the coffee mixture aside until I was ready to assemble the ladyfinger layers.
Next, I separated two eggs, and beat the egg yolks with some sugar.
I added to the egg mixture some mascarpone cheese and some more of the rum, still whisking it all together.
I then beat the egg whites until they were fluffy and folded them into the egg mixture.
After that, it was time to assemble the tiramisu. I soaked the ladyfingers in the coffee mixture and made a layer on the bottom of a glass dish. Now for the disclaimer. I probably soaked these ladyfingers for too long because after the tiramisu was setting in the fridge it had a little too much liquid. When I make it again, I will definitely not soak the ladyfingers for quite as long.
Once the first layer of lady fingers were down, I spread a layer of the cream on top and then added another layer of lady fingers.
Once topped with another layer of cream, I sifted cocoa powder over the top and then put it in the fridge for a few hours.
Once the tiramisu was done and in the fridge, I was ready to make the entrees.
To make the meatballs, I mixed the ground beef, chopped parsley, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, and tomato paste all together in a bowl. Once everything was well blended, I formed the meat into meatballs.
Once the meatballs were formed, there are two ways to cook them. You can either make a single layer in a baking dish and bake the meatballs, or you can brown them in a skillet. Since I had the oven occupied by the eggplant, I cooked the meatballs on the stove top.
I heated up a pot of sauce and after the meatballs were browned on all sides, I removed them from the pan and added them to the pot of sauce to let them finish cooking.
For the eggplant parm, I sliced the eggplant into thick slices and tossed them with some salt and oil and roasted them to soften them. If you don’t roast the eggplant first, they won’t cook completely and then your eggplant will be too tough.
Once the eggplants are browned and softened, it was time to make the eggplant stacks. I coated the baking dish with a layer of tomato sauce and then stacked the eggplant with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. One slice of eggplant, mozzarella, a little tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, and repeat. Then I baked them until the cheese melted and the sauce was bubbly.
Also in the oven while the eggplant cooked, I made garlic bread. You just have to cut the loaf in half, long ways, and brush with a melted butter, garlic, and parsley mixture. Then you just wrap it in a piece of aluminum foil and stick it right in the oven.
Finally, serve an eggplant stack with some meatballs, garlic bread, and fresh greens.
When you add a red wine and finish off your meal with a piece of tiramisu, and you have yourself a wonderful Italian feast!
When your Italian dinner gets the stamp of approval from your Sicilian friend, I count that as a major win!