Cucina Italiana!

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Cucina Italiana! That was the name of a cooking class that I was asked to host this past Friday. The theme was Italian Appetizers! Recently we became members of a local Italian American Club and once a month a different member gets asked to host a cooking class. After much thought I decided on doing 4 appetizers. The photo above is of Crispy Shrimp w/White Bean & Rosemary Bruschetta. It’s actually made with canned cannellini beans mashed up with garlic, parsley, rosemary and olive oil, slathered on a toasted baguette slice, then garnished with one crispy shrimp.
Next, was a Grilled Polenta Cake w/Roasted Tomatoes & Sausage, I made the polenta seasoned with Parmesan cheese, olive oil. After it was cooked I spread it all out on a cookie sheet to cool, then cut the polenta into circles with a cookie cutter. The roasted tomatoes were then placed on the warm polenta and garnished with a slice of Italian sausage.

I also made Mini Meatball Sliders that I did a previous post on. Homemade mini meatballs cooked up in a nice marinara,placed on toasted mini buns garnished with arugula.

It was a very casual and informal event, just the way I like it! Everyone gathered around in my kitchen drinking wine, laughing and eating while Italian music played in the background.

And last but not least, was a Creamy Pesto Cheese Ball. This is a really nice appetizer to serve with wine and to mingle with. It’s very simple you just have to allow time to chill it.


2 8oz packages of cream cheese (room temp)

4 oz of Mascarpone cheese (also room temp)

1/4 cup of prepared pesto

1/2 cup of grated Parmesan

toasted pine nuts

basil and sun dried tomatoes for garnish

In food processor mix together pesto and 3 cheeses and blend till completely mixed.

Line a round bowl with plastic wrap, place basil and sun dried tomatoes on bottom. Scoop cheese mixture into bowl. Pack down firmly and refrigerate for 3 hours. Remove from bowl, take off wrap, place on platter and press pine nuts on the outside of cheese ball. You can then place it back in the frig till 1 hour before serving. Serve with your favorite crackers or mini toasts!

Oh, and by the way I wasn’t crazy to cook all that in front of everyone, I made most of it ahead of time, and all I had to do was talk and give a demo as I was putting it all together.

That pretty much wraps up our Cucina Italiana, it was a fun night with a great group of people!

Buon Appetito!

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  1. WOW Marie – it all looks fantastic!! Congrats on hosting it- it sounds like great fun:)

  2. I love your countertop! haha Oh yeah, and the food looks great too 🙂
    Those meatball sliders are becoming your signature dish Marie. I want one!

  3. Ohhh, WOW, what a tempting array of goodies!!! Actually everything on your page looks delicious! I think I’m going to like it here, will be back for second and third helpings I am sure!!! (knowing me actually, I am hooked for life!)

  4. I was at the affair and can attest to the great appiteasers and how wonderfully they all tasted. They were all natural and very easy to make!! Again Great job Marie, and what a fine addition to the Amici club chefs. Thanks Jim C

  5. Also Marie, I put the leftover sauce and mini meatballs over the polenta and had a great meal! I appreciate the people bag you gave me.

  6. How fun for you all! I especially like the Pesto Cheese Ball, that has cocktail party written all over it!

  7. Had to come and look at what you taught Marie — what a wonderful assortment of appetizers!

    Do you ever hear from Mary Ann anymore? I hope she’s ok –give her my best if you “talk” to her

  8. Hi Marie,

    I love, love, love your blog! I read it at least twice a week and cook from it at least once per week. The recipes are delicious and the pictures and instructions just perfect. I love to cook- especially love Italian food. I should have been born Italian- maybe my next life!
    Would love to meet you someday- you should have a gathering sometime with your followers and fellow foodies. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Hi Kelly, What a nice thing to say! I could adopt you as my Italian kid if you want. I hope we can meet some day too. Feel free to drop me an email every now and then to keep in touch.
    Your friend.