Sunday, November 11, 2007

Torta Italiana Del Sole Di Autunno

Before moving out here to the south, Sunday dinner never really meant anything. I mean, it was just another meal. At home in California, if we were returning from a camping or fishing trip might mean Corned Beef Hash or Pancakes for dinner.

But in the south? Sunday dinner is SOMETHING. The first thing I learned about Sunday dinner upon moving out here – is that it usually happens right after church.

Out west, when I’d invite people over for Sunday dinner it would be “early” ie: 5:30 or so. Here? It happens as soon as church gets out at noon. And the food. The word “groan” was invented after a Sunday dinner. It’s the sound the table makes – and your stomach makes after taking a sampling of the dishes on that table.

There’s yet another type of Southern Sunday Dinner – it’s the Mit Dinner Group. Actually, it’s not “MY” dinner group. It’s the HUMC dinner group. This particular table has been together for 3 years now. It was organized through my church. An attempt to get the congregation to mingle among the services and age groups.

This was the 3rd group I’d been involved in. When I was placed, I inwardly groaned. I knew NO ONE in this group. And? They were 15-20 years older than me. What (in the hell) would I have to talk to them about? More importantly, WHY would they want ME with them?

Obviously we’ve found our common ground. To use someone else’s word … I’d like to “hugglesquish” each and every one of them. In fact, I do when we meet.

Now, you all know how I feel about food. Sometimes it’s painful for me to attend gatherings centered around food – when what I like is “wildly” different from what is being served. I can honestly say, NEVER BEEN A PROBLEM in this group.

Tonight – for appetizers we had a peck of fresh oysters steamed on the grill. What can be more binding than standing around a kitchen island, shucking fresh steamed oysters and drinking wine and beer? These oysters … my eyes are closing in pleasure just thinking about how plump and moist they were. Clarified butter, homemade cocktail sauce with fresh basil, and cider vinegar were provided for our dipping pleasure. Never had a steamed oyster dipped in cider vinegar? You should rectify that post-haste!

Our main course was marinated/smoked pork tenderloin. Broccoli rice casserole and an applesauce-cranberry salad was served on the side. Now here I must stop and interject … the oysters? The cocktail sauce? The applesauce in the cranberry-applesauce congealed salad? All made/prepared/cooked BY THE MEN!! Not only are these men wildly smart – they are the BEST cooks too! (also? They flirt outrageously with me, which only adds to their charm.)

I was responsible for dessert tonight. Maybe that’s another reason why I like these people so much. No matter what I show up with – no matter what experiment I’m trying out – they are game to taste.

Tonight I presented them with “Italian Autumn Cake” One bite and this cake will transport you to Italy … you’ll taste the fall citrus – and feel the autumn sun shining on your face. I didn’t tell them the ingredients before they tasted it. No one complained. In fact – the cake went around the table for a second time. So if you want some fall – and to feel that soft Italian sun on your face and palate, here you go:

Torta Italiana Del Sole Di Autunno

Cooking spray 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1/4 cup fresh tangerine juice (about 2 tangerines), divided 3 large eggs 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 ounces) 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 cup powdered sugar 1 teaspoon butter, melted Preheat oven to 350°.

Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray; dust with 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Set aside.

Combine granulated sugar, milk, oil, 3 tablespoons juice, and eggs in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Lightly spoon 2 1/4 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; stir well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to oil mixture, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until golden brown and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan. Cool cake completely on wire rack. Loosen edges of cake with a narrow spatula. Place a plate upside down on top of cake; invert onto plate.

Combine powdered sugar, remaining 1 tablespoon juice, and butter, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle glaze over cooled cake.

At your next Sunday gathering I suggest sharing this with the group of friends who makes you feel as warm as Autumn Sun.

No comments: