Casa Mia

Casa Mia

Friday, July 6, 2012

Noelle's Summer Bridal Shower


A year ago at this time, my family and I were busily preparing for my youngest daughter’s upcoming marriage and well, you know how much preparation, anxiety and true happiness a wedding can bring. Since I am a DIY Event Planner, Interior Decorator and Chef, I of course hosted and catered  the bridal shower for some 50 women in my yard.  I happen to have a large patio which I had tented to protect our guests from the elements and on that day, it was simply to protect us from the oppressive heat. (You may recall that last year’s blizzards spawned last spring’s torrential rain fall which bloomed into a full fledge summer heat wave, particularly the week in July that Noelle and Rick got married.) Paper laterns hung  from the tent and paper umbrellas decorated the floor, rented tables were covered in pink clothes, table floral arrangements were pink, rose and white, and the party favors were personalized hand painted wine glasses and assorted cocktail mixes which, I have to say, were fun, cute and a great table decoration. Only one thing could have made the set up better: a big fan!

Noelle & her signature Bloody Mary

Noelle loves brunch and so her shower was just that: as the guests arrived, my wait staff offered them either her signature cocktail, bloody mary, or mimosa. (There was also non-alcoholic iced tea and pink lemonade.) Favorite brunch items substituting as passed hors d’oevres were mini potato latkes, mini quiches and black bread with cream cheese, smoked salmon and dill. And then came the smorgasbord table of entrĂ©es and side dishes:


Asparagus, Mushroom, MozzarellaFrittata

Bacon and Tomato Strata

Cream Cheese and Pesto Spread

Lobster Roll

Chicken  Salad on croissant

Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Roasted, Peppers on baguette

Lemon, Tomato and Artichoke Pasta Salad

Strawberry Crepes

Tossed Salad With French Dressing & Pecans

Cake and Tiramisu

For dessert, there was of course the classic bridal shower cake which was overloaded with buttercream flowers and lemon filling and homemade tiramisu, several of them, and another Noelle favorite. Every single specialty on that menu was made with my loving hands for my beautiful bride except the latkes which I just did not feel like frying in the heat. I even made the French dressing! And I have to admit and thank some of my other family members including my husband, other married daughter, Jessica, and my sister Mindy who shelled lobsters, chopped and chopped and chopped parsley, grated lemons, hulled strawberries, deboned chickens, assembled sandwiches, concocted the drinks, moved furniture, stood on ladders and sweated it out with me every step of the way. I know Noelle loved her shower and they are living happily ever after so it was all worth it. I just wish I had another unmarried daughter left so I could do it all again!

The pasta salad was a huge hit that day and friends have been asking me for the recipe ever since so here it is to enjoy.

Lemony Farfalle, Tomato and Artichoke Salad

4 medium tomatoes diced
½ c. coarsely chopped parsley
4 T. lemon zest grated
1 T. olive oil
2 ½ tsp. salt
Fresh ground pepper
½ lb. cooked farfalle pasta
Raw artichoke hearts shaved in thin slices with mandolin
¼ c. shaved parmiggiano
2 T. chopped mint

In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, parsley, lemon zest, ½ T. olive oil, 2 tsp. salt and fresh ground pepper. Marinate for 30 minutes and toss with cooked farfalle.
In another bowl, toss together shaved artichoke, 1 T. lemon juice, ½ T. olive oil, ½ tsp. salt and fresh pepper. Note that I used frozen artichokes and sliced them with a knife.
To serve, top pasta salad mixture with artichoke mixture and shaved parmiggiano. Sprinkle with mint.
*** For Noelle’s shower, I made at least 6 times the amounts in this recipe. Whew!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

More Easter Traditions

Let's talk Palm Sunday. Does anyone celebrate or even acknowledge the day? Like everything, in my family, it was also a big one - the launch of spring, the kick off of the Easter festivities, and "bulking up" for the week of fasting ahead. Of course there was food and that was usually homemade ravioli with pork gravy.

Mom has always made homemade pasta for the ravioli, protesting that store bought dough was always too thick, too hard and there was never enough ricotta stuffing, much to the dismay of my brother who prefered that variety.  However, since the dough was thinner and the stuffing thicker, mom's raviolis usually broke in the boiling water and the ravioli were cooked in a ricotta, cheese, fennel-infused water. Nevertheless, once you added that sausage and sparerib gravy, the taste didn't compare to anything you could buy even on Arthur Ave., especially if you got the occasional intact ravioli! Add some antipasto, the meat from the gravy and a vinegary salad and Palm Sunday dinner is a memory and tradition that I continue to try to duplicate every year.

And so my husband and I are on our trek today to purchase the ricotta, mozzarella and (sorry mom) pasta sheets from Arthur Ave. We will use a form to make the ravioli instead of the machine that flattens the dough and a fork to seal them but we will still celebrate next week's occasion in traditional style, sort of.


For the filling:
2 3lb containers of whole milk ricotta
2 eggs
Grated parmiggiano cheese
2 tsps imported fennel seeds
grated mozzarella
Salt and pepper
Chopped spinach (optional)

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and keep refrigerated until ready to stuff the ravioli. Press the pasta sheet into the form and place a teaspoonful into each ravioli section. Top with another pasta sheet and top of form to cut each ravioli. Press around the ravioli to seal.