Now that the days are getting longer and the buzz of spring/summer is starting to fill the air, there’s no better time to show off your hosting skills and invite some pals round to dine. That’s why we’ve asked Hackney local and hostess with the mostess Rosie Mackean (aka @rosiemackeanpastaqueen) for a little helping hand because eating we might be good at, but whipping up a four-course menu is a whole other thing.
When she’s not cheffing and food styling, Rosie creates four-course dinner party menus (which you can get dropped into your inbox every fortnight right here) and she’s sharing one of ’em with us. Taking inspo from a modern Italian-American (ish) menu, things kick off with mortadella and ricotta crostini, before moving onto an Italian wedge salad and a main affair of pork rib gnocchetti sardi. Then there’s pud which is a lush mascarpone mousse with raspberries, apples and vermouth. Don’t mind if we do. Right, buckle up and get ready for a right proper feasting…
For the Mortadella, Ricotta and Pistachio Crostini:
1 ciabatta, sliced into 12 thin slices
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
250g best quality ricotta
Zest of half a lemon, grated
Salt and Pepper
100g sliced Mortadella
1 tbsp pistachios, roughly chopped
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Lay the sliced bread onto an oven tray and drizzle with the oil, turning and smearing both sides of the bread for optimum coverage. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes or until all the
toasts are an even gold.
2. When the toasts are out of the oven, rub with the garlic clove. The hot bread will suck up all that garlic flavour. Transfer to kitchen paper to cool.
3. Season the ricotta with salt, pepper and the lemon zest. Ricotta is bland – it needs this!
4. When you are ready to serve, use a spoon to smear the ricotta onto the toasts. If your mortadella is in large slices then you may need to tear it up into smaller pieces. Then drape your mortadella in glorious meaty pink ruffles on top of the crostini. Finally, sprinkle each toast with some chopped pistachios and a drizzle of oil if you like.
For the Italian Wedge Salad:
100g pancetta, diced
20g panko breadcrumbs
150g gorgonzola dolce (rind removed)
Salt and pepper to taste
A handful of chives, finely chopped
1 small iceberg lettuce
1 treviso radicchio
1 pink radicchio
The leftover lemon you zested for the crostini
4 tbsps olive oil
Salt and pepper
1. To make the crumb, place a small frying pan on a low heat and add the pancetta. When the pancetta is cooked and crisp (this will take 10/15 mins on a low heat), remove it but keep the fat in the pan. Add the breadcrumbs to the fat and turn the heat to medium. Turn the panko in the fat as it cooks, coating it well. It will take about 8 minutes to turn a golden brown, at which point drain on some kitchen paper and leave to cool before combining with the pancetta. (FYI THIS IS ALSO EXCELLENT ON QUITE LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE.)
2. For the dressing, combine the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth, check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
3. When you are ready to serve, trim but don’t completely remove the hard base of your lettuces, then cut each one into roughly 6 wedges.
4. Lay them onto one large or two medium flat plates drizzle with the olive oil, lemon juice and season. Then spoon over your dressing, you don’t want to completely cover the wedges, the colours of the leaves are too beautiful! Finally, sprinkle the lakes of dressing that are pooling on the plate with the pancetta panko and the chives.
For the Pork Rib and Sausage Sugo Gnocchetti Sardi:
6 pork ribs- ask your butcher for them to be even in size
6 good quality Italian sausages
4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, 1 carrot and 1 celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 bay leaves
125ml red wine
3x 400ml tins of plum tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 Parmesan rind if you have any
800g gnocchetti sardi/cavatelli small pasta
Grated parmesan or pecorino to serve
1. Preheat your oven to 130 degrees. Place a large casserole or saucepan with a lid on a medium heat. Add the oil and when it’s heated add the sausages and brown them on all sides for about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, season the pork ribs with salt and pepper and when the sausages have browned set them aside and then add the pork ribs to the pan. Repeat the browning process. Once the ribs are all golden brown remove them and leave them with the sausages.
3. Add the onion, carrot and celery to the remaining fat in the pan, adding more oil if necessary, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes until fragrant, then add the wine. Use a spoon to scrape up any delicious golden bits at the bottom of the pan whilst reducing the wine by half.
4. Meanwhile, empty the cans of tomatoes into a bowl and blitz with a hand blender until they are a thick liquid. Add this to the pan of veg followed by the rosemary, bay, parmesan rind if you are using, a big pinch of salt and pepper.
5. Use 200ml of water to swill the tins out and add that too. Finally, carefully return the ribs and sausages to the pan. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and pop in the oven for 2- 2.5 hours. The meat on the ribs should be tender but not quite falling off the bone- this is what we want! Check the seasoning of the sauce and add more if necessary. Leave to cool.
6. When you come to serve, heat up your sugo at least 30 minutes before you want to eat it, on a low heat.
7. Cook the pasta by adding it to salted boiling water, stirring well so it doesn’t stick. I don’t use timings when I cook pasta, I just continually taste it until I judge it ready, but if you are the kind of person who likes a timing, then I recommend shaving 2 minutes off the allotted time given on the bag. Reserve some pasta water before you drain too.
8. Remove the pork ribs and sausage from the sauce and set aside before mixing the pasta and sauce together. Add pasta water as you go to loosen if needed. You can also add a lovely glug of olive oil too.
9. Simmer for a minute or so and serve in 2-3 large platters topped with the ribs and sausage. Finish with some cheese and more oil. And bread for mopping.
For the Mascarpone Mousse with Vermouth Fruits:
1 x 397g can of condensed milk
150ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 egg whites
1 pink lady apple, thinly sliced
80ml sweet red vermouth
25g caster sugar
6 Cocktail cherries with stems
1 tbsp cocktail cherry syrup
1. In a large bowl use a spatula to break down the mascarpone until smooth, then add the condensed milk, vanilla and cream. Use electric hand beaters to whip the mix until it is smooth and thick, it will take about 1-2 minutes of beating.
2. Clean and dry your beaters and then in a separate, very clean and dry bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Use a metal spoon to gently fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mix, working with one spoonful at a time, until the mix is light and smooth. Put in your chosen vessels and seal tightly, then refrigerate for 6 hours minimum or up to 36.
3. Add the sliced apple, half the raspberries, sugar, vermouth and cherry syrup to a pan and bring to a very low simmer for 5 minutes until the raspberries have softened well. Then off the heat add the remaining raspberries, mix and leave to cool in a container in the fridge.
4. Make sure to take the fruit out to come to temperature before you serve it, ideally 30-45 minutes before. Spoon the fruit on top of the mousse and top with the cherries.
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