On Monday evening, we hosted a dinner for the Nihon Teachers' Refresher Course delegates. We decided to serve Italian food using recipes from The River Cafe Cookbook. The River Café is a restaurant in the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, London, England, specializing in Italian cuisine. It is owned and run by chef Ruth Rogers and until early 2010, Rose Gray.
Gray and Rogers have written six highly successful cookbooks, including Italian Easy and The London River Café Cook Book. Their first book, Italian Country Cookbook won both the Glenfiddich Award for Food Book of the Year and the BCA Illustrated Book of the Year Awards. Rogers and Gray have since presented a 12-part series for Channel 4, The Italian Kitchen.
We began Monday's dinner with a summer minestrone soup. Asparagus, green beans, peas and broad beans make up the base of this refreshing soup which is finshed with pesto.
Summer Minestrone Soup topped with pesto
To follow the soup, we served grilled salmon with panzanella Salad and Italian bread. Panzanella or panmolle is an Italian dish originating in the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, Marche and Lazio. The dish is a bread salad popular in the summer months. It includes sliced bread and fresh tomatoes, flavored with basil, olive oil, and vinegar, often with salt and pepper.
Salmon with Panzanella salad
To finish the meal we served a polenta, almond and lemon cake with Amaretto ice cream. Polenta was originally and still is classified as a peasant food. Sometimes topped with sauces, in the 1940s and 1950s polenta was often eaten with just a little salted anchovy or herring. Polenta works well as a sweet dish, and combines well with lemon, almonds and Amaretto (an Italian sweet almond-flavoured liqueur.)
Polenta, lemon and almond cake with Amaretto ice cream