Monday, 8 August 2011

An Italian Birthday Feast

Our birthdays both fall around mid-summer and this year we were celebrating 22. So we prepared a small feast for friends with an Italian meal. Such a special occasion always calls for a special meal, but we also kept simplicity in mind. With so much sparkly eye-shadow to apply, time was not on our side, not that we wanted to spend too much time sweating in an unforgiving kitchen anyway!

So, this is what we planned: something special and something light. Perfect for a midsummer pair of birthday celebrations for a handful of friends..

Cocktails to start:
Strawberry Bellini's -Inspired by Jamie Oliver, mostly.
Push a punnet of strawberries through a sieve.
Spoon into the bottom of glasses and pour over Prosecco (Cava will also do fine.)

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad -
Inspired by Grace's recent holiday to Sorrento.
This couldn't be simpler or more delicious.
Cut a generous amount of tomatoes into nice wedges and place in your serving bowl.
Tear two balls of mozzarella into rough chunks.
Dress with olive oil, salt, pepper and a sprinkling of dried herbs.

Roasted Pepper bruschetta -
Inspired by Carllucio.
De-seed and roughly chop your peppers and place under a hot grill until the skins char. Once they are cool enough to handle, remove their skins and slice into small pieces.
Cut some good bread (sourdough was used here) into slices and toast under the grill. Chop a tomato. Once the bread has toasted, assemble the pepper and scraps of tomato over the bread and season with salt, pepper, olive oil and dried herbs if you wish.

Rustic Pesto Pasta -
Inspired by Grace's mother.
Easier than blending and better than from a jar, this rustic pesto is incredibly fresh.

Heat a generous amount of olive oil and simmer some garlic in there so that it flavours the oil, in the meantime, tear lots of basil leaves into shreds (the more the better,) and place into a bowl. Add some (ready toasted) pine nuts to the basil and grate lots of Parmesan cheese. When the oil is sufficiently garlic-y, discard the garlic bulbs and combine everything together. Season with salt and pepper and leave to happily sit until you are ready.

Cook the pasta as the packet tells you and once drained, add the rustic pesto sauce. Serve with a few too many glasses of wine than necessary.


  1. Thanks for visiting my blog. :)

    We are having Italian dinner on Saturday:

    - selection of Italian sausages
    - melon with prosciutto crudo
    - pancotto soup
    - lamb shoulder roasted with plum tomatoes, olives, rosemary and olive oil (I am thinking about adding some butter beans as well)
    - aubergines grilled and marinated in olive oil with mint and balsamic vinegar
    - homemade ciabatta bread
    - dark chocolate panna cotta with plum sauce
    - coffee
    - lots of wine - in particular Cesanese del Piglio


    I managed to bring most of the ingredients back from Italy last Sunday and I am still in a mood even the weather is not nice here in North Yorks. ;

  2. Forgot the prosecco for a start. :)

  3. This looks so lovely. I love small get togethers with friends for birthdays then going out or big parties. I think they're are just so much more fun and intimate! Dinner party for me next year definitely!x

  4. I'm so thrilled I've stumbled over here. You've made me remember how much I love strawberry bellinis. Can't wait to concoct an excuse to make some.

  5. Looked like a gorgeous birthday meal! We hold an annual Italian Food night with homemade foccacia, trays of baked meatballs, roasted veg, vegan tomato sauces and mountains of gluten free and normal pasta (and gelato!) Your bruschettas look really good!

  6. haha you made me laughed reading your profile, my student days are long gone but totally share my passion for foods with you girls I will be trying some of these dishes myself soon haha...

  7. Wow, definitely going to try your pesto recipe! Everything I cook is "rustic" (= can't be bothered to "chop finely" and don't own a blender!)


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