Recently, I had a craving to watch Tea With Mussolini. After all, one of il scorpioni is my spirit guide (Maggie Smith), another is Joan Plowright (who, after many years, I’ve forgiven for breaking up Larry and Viv), and it’s also got Judi Dench. Judi Dench is sort of the female British version of Morgan Freeman: both of them play more or less the same part in every movie they do, but they do it so well that you really don’t care. Plus, she was Sally Bowles in the original production of Cabaret in London, and I’d like to see Mr Freeman pull that off, no matter how good an actor he is. I think the boy who got the molten gold poured on his head in Game of Thrones is in it, too.
Plus, it’s got the period production design value of the peak of Merchant-Ivory and some rather dishy men in the cast. And Zeffirelli directed it so magnificently that one can forgive him for his Hamlet.
And then there’s Cher. For me, she was perfectly good, but in a movie like this, my mind’s on the British. But still, it’s Cher, and just see how well she frames the clothes:
All this added up to my wanting a little Italian, and since Joe Manganiello was not blowing down my door, I thought I’d better cook. But it’s summer, and I didn’t feel like standing over a pot of risotto, so, deviant that I am, I deviated.
I made a suitable summer menu!
No one wants to stand over the stove stirring arborio rice in the summer, so just fake it: soften an onion in olive oil, then add rice and lightly brown it; toss in some chicken stock and wine, and cook till tender. At the end, stir in some paragianno, and you’re good to go.
Of course, it’s just a sin to neglect fresh corn in the summer months, but I find I get the best results when I create a compound butter and wrap the corn in tin foil before tossing it on the grill. Grilling it on high heat lets the kernels caramelize within the foil, an the butter adds softness and richness to the finished dish. To create a florentine flavour, mince rosemary and terregano into your butter, along with salt and white pepper.
Make a dry rub for the steaks of rosemary, oregano, paprika, garlic, salt, and black pepper, and marinate for 2-36 hours, refrigerating if you age it more than 2 hours. Bring to room temperature before grilling. Go ahead and cheat with the balsamic glaze from Trader Joe’s. Sear both sides of steaks on high heat, then remove to indirect heat, basting each side with glaze for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let rest for 15-20 minutes while you shuck your roasted corn. Fresh fruit or panna cotta make a lovely dessert.