Hello everyone! Larissa the Intern here. It’s hard to believe that our Art of We: Ten Year Anniversary Celebration & Fundraiser is less than 3 weeks away! Next in my series of blogs I will be introducing the awesome live auction items that will be up for bidding at our event. Today, we reveal our first featured auction item, the Homemade Gourmet Italian dinner for six prepared by Joe and Janet Green, Julie’s parents and two of Upstream Arts’ most dedicated supporters (and very talented chefs)! This dinner will be held at the home of Upstream Arts Executive and Artistic Directors Julie and Matt Guidry, who will also be in attendance for this meal! Joe and Janet will be traveling up from Chicago to cook this meal, so possible dates for this dinner are the following: May 21st or 22nd, 2016; August 20th or 27th, 2016; and September 10th or 17th, 2016. This item would be great split among a group of six friends or family, so start rounding up your favorite people and get a preview of what’s on the menu below from the chefs Joe and Janet!
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, which is great, but different from the cooking you find in Italy.
JANET: In 1972 we moved to Toronto which, at the time, had the largest Italian community of any city in North America. There were wonderful markets and delis. Joe’s parents would come to visit and marvel at the variety of imported Italian products; that’s where I was introduced to real parmesan cheese. Eventually we were transferred to Italy and began adopting more European ways of cooking and eating.
JOE: We lived in Rome for four years and learned completely different ways to make and eat pasta. You won’t find spaghetti and meatballs there! Cooking was therapy for me; I worked long hours and travelled a lot. I’d be home for the weekend and do tons of cooking.
JANET: I took many cooking classes and subscribed to several magazines with recipes we would try. Some of them we’d do over and over and they became our tried and true favorites.
JOE: We also went on wine tours, mainly in Tuscany, probably four or five a year. The guide was writing a book about Italian wines and we had the opportunity to visit several of the actual vineyards with him.
JANET: We lived in Europe for eighteen years and still return periodically. For our 25th wedding anniversary in 1994 we treated ourselves to a week’s cooking school in Sicily. All combined, we’ve been cooking together for 47 years.
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 will be a typical antipasti, a variety of appetizers: bruschetta, which is simply good Italian toasted bread, rubbed with garlic, and topped with chopped tomatoes and basil or an olive tapenade; other tidbits such as prosciutto and melon, olives, cold cuts, roasted peppers. There also will be caprese salad but topped with a homemade pesto sauce. With the antipasti we’ll have Prosecco, the Italian 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 on a ricotta, parmesan and spinach filling, roll it up, wrap it in cheesecloth so it stays formed, then boil in slightly salted water. When cool we slice the roll into about half an inch thick spirals, displaying a jellyroll of beautiful pasta and filling. The slices are then arranged in a baking dish overlapping like shingles, covered with a tomato cream sauce, and baked.
JANET: That recipe came from a cookbook by Marcella Hazan. We discovered her books while living in Rome and we liked them because she helped you plan the whole meal, making recommendations of things that go well together. She taught 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) or rosso (red) wine. We’re doing some tastings now to determine the specific wines. The red wine will be from Piemonte or Tuscany. For the third course we’re offering a choice of herb-crusted rack of lamb or a bone-in porketta-style pork roast.
JANET: The lamb is rubbed with dijon mustard then rolled in an herb crust, and grilled or oven roasted; the porketta is flavored with rosemary, garlic, sage, fennel and pepper.
JOE: The meat 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, then spiral the other vegetables around on top, sprinkle it all with a bit of parmesan and bake. The presentation is colorful and delicious. A nice salad of frisee and red leaf lettuce will also be served.
JOE: And finally, for the dessert course, we’ll have a mascarpone custard served with seasonal berries and almond biscotti, accompanied with Moscato (a sweet desert wine).
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 really opened our eyes to those with special needs. 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.
Those interested in the Homemade Gourmet Italian Dinner for six auction item will have the chance to bid at our Art of We: Ten Year Anniversary Celebration & Fundraiser held on May 19th at the American Swedish Institute. This event is free, family friendly, and open to all! To learn more about our event or to RSVP, click here.