Just one week until The Art of We, our 2nd Annual Meeting and Fundraiser, coming up on Monday, May 11! Did you know that our live auction will include a homemade gourmet Italian dinner for six, held at the home of Upstream Arts Executive and Artistic Directors Julie and Matt Guidry? The meal will be prepared by Joe and Janet Green, Julie’s parents and two of Upstream Arts’ most dedicated supporters, who also happen to be amazing chefs. Whet your appetite with this preview of what they’ve got cooking, then pull together your friends and get ready to bid!
What is your background in Italian cooking?
JOE: My father was born in Italy. I grew up in upstate New York, in a small mostly Italian village. I was exposed to Italian-American cooking there, which is great, but different from the cooking that you find in Italy.
JANET: In the 1970s, we moved to Toronto, which, at the time, had the largest Italian community of any city in North America. There were these wonderful, wonderful markets and delis. Joe’s parents would come to visit and marvel at the food. That’s where I was introduced to real parmesan cheese. Eventually, we moved to Italy, and that’s where we began adopting more European ways of cooking and eating.
JOE: We lived in Rome and learned completely different ways to make pasta. You won’t find spaghetti and meatballs there! Cooking was like therapy for me. I used to work long hours and travel a lot. I’d come home for the weekends and do tons of cooking.
JANET: I took several cooking classes and subscribed to various magazines with recipes and we would try so many different recipes. Some of them we’d do over and over, so they became tried and true, always a hit.
JOE: We also went on wine tours, probably four or five a year over several years. Went to Tuscany, all kinds of places. The guide for these tours had written a book about Italian wine and we had the chance to visit a few of the actual vineyard’s with him.
JANET: We lived in Italy for four years, and we still go back periodically. For our 25th wedding anniversary, we went to a cooking school in Sicily. This year, we’re celebrating 46 years! So we’ve been cooking together for a long time.
Can you give us a sneak peek at what you’re planning for the lucky recipients of this meal?
JOE: The meal will consist of four courses. The first course will be the antipasti, which is a mixture of small things to eat. We’ll have bruschetta, which is simply good Italian bread that is toasted, rubbed with garlic, and topped with different things. Chopped tomatoes and basil or olive tapenade… And then we’ll have other tidbits, too; prosciutto and melon, olives, cold cuts, roasted peppers. Typical antipasti. There also will be caprese, but we make it a little differently; there’s tomato and mozzarella, but instead of basil leaves, I make a homemade pesto sauce. With the antipasti, we’ll have Prosecco, which is basically the Italian version of champagne, a sparkling wine. The second course will feature il rotolo di pasta.
JANET: This is a homemade pasta noodle, rolled flat. It’s about the size of a lasagna noodle, but longer.
JOE: We spread a ricotta, parmesan, and spinach filling on the pasta, then roll it up, wrap it in cheesecloth, and boil it like that, so it stays formed. Then we slice the roll into individual round slices, each about half an inch thick, so that you have these beautiful spirals of pasta and filling, just like a jellyroll. Then we arrange the slices in a baking dish, slightly overlapping like shingles, cover with a tomato cream sauce, and bake it.
JANET: That recipe came from a cookbook by Marcella Hazan. We discovered her books while living in Rome. We liked them in part because she helped you plan the whole meal, making recommendations of things that go well together. She used to teach cooking in her home, in Italy as well as in the U.S.
JOE: For both the second and third courses, guests will have their choice of vino bianco (white wine) or vino rosso (red wine). We’re doing some tastings now to determine the specific wines. And then, for the third course, we’re thinking herb-crusted rack of lamb.
JANET: Joe coats the lamb with dijon mustard then the herb crust, … if the weather is good, we’ll probably cook it out on the grill. This is a recipe we discovered more recently, just a few years ago, and we love it.
JOE: The lamb will be accompanied by a vegetable gratin, which is comprised of eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes over a bed of leeks and fennel.
JANET: Essentially, you sauté the leek and fennel, put them on the bottom, then spiral the other vegetables around on top of them, cover it all with a bit of parmesan, and bake. The presentation is beautiful.
JOE: And finally, for the dessert course, we’ll have a mascarpone custard served with seasonal berries, plus vinsanto (sweet wine) and almond biscotti.
What inspired you to support The Art of We in this way?
JANET: Before Caleb [Matt’s son, Julie’s stepson] came into our lives, we never had a family member with a disability. It was a new experience that has opened so many doors for us. Julie and Matt’s unique insight and relationship with Caleb inspired this vision for serving the disability community, starting with Caleb’s Special Education classroom experience. They have melded their talents and created an organization that serves a very special, important, particular need. They’ve put their heart and soul into it, so much. Their dedication and progressive success inspire us to lend them our support whenever and however we can.
Bid on this homemade gourmet Italian dinner for six at The Art of We, Upstream Arts’ 2nd Annual Meeting and Fundraiser on May 11 at Bloomington Center for the Arts! This event is FREE, FAMILY-FRIENDLY, and OPEN TO ALL – click here to learn more and RSVP.