I had a dinner party, y’all. We were breaking in my swank new-to-me table and chairs. And, also, addressing an important item on the Life List: “Cook through Marcella Hazan’s cookbook.”

There were a few scary things going on. Firstly, it’s been ages since I cooked anybody an actual dinner, involving multiple dishes, intended to be served more or less at the same time. Secondly, Marcella Hazan gets pretty specific, to the point of saying things like “If the first gnocchi taste floury, adjust the cooking time for the next batch by two to three seconds.” Seriously? Two to three second precision, when a vat of boiling water and slippery potato noodles are involved? And thirdly: I picked a recipe with anchovies, because it’s classically Italian. I mean, anchovies. As in canned fish.

So, I gathered some people who are slow to judge and perfectly happy with a glass of wine and good company.  And I bought some back-up Fresh Market gnocchi.  But I didn’t need it.   We had:

Piemontese anchovy dip; roasted fennel; gnocchi with tomato sauce; spinach in olive oil and garlic;  pear, parmesan, and radish salad, and a pavlova with strawberries for dessert. Just for fun, I also made a Winning Hearts and Minds cake.  But that was for Easter lunch.

Marcella’s tomato sauce: the best I have ever made.  It involves exactly three things: butter, tomatoes, and half an onion, unsliced.  Try it. You will not be sorry.

The last picture is just to document an event which may never happen again: Every. Single. Burner. In use at the same time, plus the oven.  I felt like a badass:

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