shortlist no. 21 / january 6, 2010
I know I said we’d be holding off from entertaining for a little while due to our house renovations but clearly we cannot help ourselves. We actually ate dinner last night in this room:
We were planning to eat in the garden, but as is typical to a Sydney summer, it began to downpour about 35 seconds before Francesco went out to light the grill. Tangent: that’s right, lovelies! Our amazing friends gave us a grill for Christmas. Naturally, we immediately went out and bought a cute little table to put it on, various tongs and prongs, a barbecue cover and citronella torches to put up in our garden, which, when not serving as our drying machine and local cat shelter, is home to the neighborhood’s mosquito colony. End tangent.
No matter! We invited the friends who gifted us the barbecue – helping us move one step closer to true Australianity – over for a test run. Thankfully, these are the kind of friends with whom, should circumstances necessitate, you could unbutton your fly or use your fingers to dig for the last mushroom. Where you could accidentally take a sip out of their wine and not feel the need to apologize. The kind of friends, in short, who don’t mind eating dinner in a room with three walls covered by tarp.
As for the meal itself, I’d been planning to grill the pizzas and meat, but I should’ve known better than to tease Sydney’s trusty 7 o’clock shower. I made the pizzas by dry frying the dough in a cast iron skillet, then flipping them over, putting the toppings on and finishing them under the broiler. Not as good as grilled or fried pizza, but definitely worth trying to improve upon.
Speaking of pizzas and improvements, does anyone out there have a foolproof pizza dough recipe? We lurve pizza here at the shortlists but have been reluctant with the homemade variety lately. The problem is, with no equivalent of Bertucci’s within 5,000 miles, I’ve been making my own dough and what I’ve found is that either the recipe calls for a food processor or a kitchen aid, or it sucks. I’ve tried no knead recipes and letting it sit in the fridge overnight, but alas, my dough always tastes vaguely of cardboard. The kind of carboard that no amount of fresh mozzarella and homemade passata can fix.
So with the pizza out of the running, the highlight of the meal was Pip’s pickles, a delicious combination of red chili, tomato and spices, a gift from our neighbor. We actually planned the whole meal around the pickles, which we’ve taken to eating out of the jar with a spoon. Lucky for us (and you!), Pip gave me the recipe today, so rest assured we will soon be able to eat homemade tomato chili pickles to our hearts’ content.
As for the rest, it’s pretty self explanatory. The rain had settled down by the time our tummies made room for dessert so we drove over to our favorite gelato place for double scoops of Yogurt with Caramel, Figs Poached in Marsala, and Coconut with Cherry Jam and Chocolate Chunks. (Side note: Francesco and I are known to finish a 1 liter tub of said gelato in approximately 14 minutes. Unfortunately, we’ve spread this habit to our [pickle making] neighbors and pretty soon none of us will fit into our 9-foot wide houses. I have a feeling the bulldozing will be worth it.)
To wrap up, all the meal’s highlights – mushrooms, pickles, ice cream, friends – weren’t really my doing at all. But sometimes? That’s totally fine with me.
dinner for 4 in a tarp-covered room
fresh bread, cheese
pizza with prosciutto and arugula
sausages on classic hot dog buns with Pip’s pickles
gelato from Messina