Well, that’s some title! Don’t be alarmed by the lengthy description though, this lip-smackingly luscious bowl of perfectly al dente linguine will be yours in no time at all. Your sauce with be ready by the time the water has … Continue reading
Pallotte Cacio e Ovo (literally, balls with pecorino and egg….Yes doesn’t sound as evocative in English!) is a traditional dish from my mother’s village in the mountains of Abruzzo. Every Mamma and Nonna in Torricella Peligna has a treasured recipe for this humble dish that features stale bread as its key ingredient, and they all vehemently claim to be the keepers of the tastiest recipe. I am no exception, having inherited my great Aunt Italina’s method, which includes a chunk of bell pepper left to stew in the tomato sauce to add a touch of peppery robustness to this magnificent peasant meal.
INGREDIENTS, serves 4
For the dumplings
200 gr (about 2 cups) day-old Italian bread (such as pane di casa or ciabatta), crust removed, cut into chunks
250 ml (1 cup) of milk
160 gr (2 cups) of finely grated pecorino cheese
1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley and 1/4 of chopped basil leaves
1 egg , lightly beaten
Olive oil to deep fry
salt and pepper to season
For the sauce
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 spring onions (scallions) roughly chopped
1/4 green capsicum (pepper) in 1 piece
1 garlic clove, finely chopped + 1 whole, bashed with the back of a knife
1 small celery stick, finely chopped
2 tins of tomatoes or 3 cups of home-made passata
salt and pepper to season
1. Soak the bread in milk for 20 minutes or until soft, then squeeze out any excess. Using your hands, break down the bread to a pulp
2. Combine bread with cheese, egg, herbs to form a sticky batter. Add salt and pepper to season. Rest in the fridge for 20 minutes
3. Meanwhile, for the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat
4. Cook, spring onion, garlic, celery and pepper, stirring for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant. Add tin tomatoes or passata, season with salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook gently for 20 minutes or until slightly reduced
5. Half fill a saucepan with olive oil and heat over medium high heat
6. Take the dumpling mixture out of the fridge, and, with wet hands, shape it into balls the size of a small mandarin
7. Deep fry the dumplings in batches until golden and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper
8. Add the cooked dumplings to the tomato sauce, cover with the lid and stand , off the heat, for at least 1 hour before serving to allow for the flavours to mingle and for the dumplings to soak up the sauce
9. When ready to serve, gently reheat the dumplings in the sauce, top with basil leaves and serve hot or warm
Strictly speaking Madeleines are not an Italian sweet treat. So what are they doing in my Authentic Italian food blog, you may rightfully ask? It’s one of the best known, most loved French buttery delight, but the geographical vicinity with France, the French influence in Val D’Aosta and Piedmont, both in language and cuisine and the fact that Italy and France have been calling one another “cousins” for centuries makes me feel entitled to love and share this recipe with you. Also, the batter itself is a Génoise cake batter …Génoise means “from Genoa”, the main city of Liguria, in Italy, another reason why Italians claim this sweet as, partially, theirs…
The recipe is fairly simple. It’s a combination of the usual suspects: self-raising flour, eggs, sugar, butter, orange and vanilla. The secret to a perfectly moist and soft Madeleine though, is in the time you allow for the batter to rest. I have had a few failures with these lovely, shell-shaped nuggets and it was only after reading the Roux bothers cook-book, the bible of French dessert, that I realized that even cakes need their beauty sleep! And I’m not talking about a power-nap. The batter needs to rest for a minimum of 6 hours, up to 24. So, if you have an instant craving for Madeleines, think again. But if you are prepared to make this batter today and bake your sweets in the morning, by the time you’ve had a shower, you’ll be able to dunk a few warm ones into your morning coffee.
INGREDIENTS, makes 24 small cakes
3 whole eggs at room temperature
100 gr sugar (half a cup)
2 tbsp honey
120 gr of butter (3/4 of a cup)
175 gr (1 1/2 cups) of sieved self-raising flour
Grated rind of one large orange, or two small ones
Vanilla paste or essence (or seeds, if you have them)
1. Melt the butter over low heat and add the grated orange zest. Turn off the heat and set aside.
2.Whisk the eggs with the sugar and the honey until pale and creamy. Sift over the sieved flour and fold gently. Don’t over work the flour or the gluten with make the batter too dense. Fold in the orange butter and a teaspoon of vanilla paste.
3. Cover with cling wrap and rest for up to 24 hours in the fridge.
4. The next day, bring your oven to 180 Celsius (390 Farenheit). Spoon the batter onto a greased and floured madeleine mould. The cakes will rise in the oven, so only fill the mould to 3/4 full.
5. Bake 5-10 minutes or until golden and cooked-thourgh.
Dunk in your coffee and have a très magnifique day!
This is a reblog of my original post on Madeleines from 2011. I have since altered the recipe slightly, hence the need to update it and provide better quality images.
Italian cooking is always associated with the abundant use of tomatoes, may they be fresh, placed on a chunck of crunchy bread smeared with extra-virgin olive oil and garlic, or used in a sauce. The reason behind it is that in Italy we are blessed with the sweetest and most flavorsome varieties. It has to do with a combination of great soil and holy water, and maybe a miracle by the Madonna thrown in for good measure, but what is certain is that it poses quite a challenge for me to find a red fruit that can stand the comparison with Italian Pomodori. So, when I am away from my Bella Italia, and I crave the Campania sun-ripened jewels of the vine, I make do with what I can find and use a few tricks to enhance it and turn it mighty good. This is my secret revealed…
INGREDIENTS, serves 4
3 cups of cherry tomatoes (or heirloom tomatoes), halved
3 tablespoons of Extra-virgin olive oil (evoo)
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
a small pinch of sugar
salt and pepper to season
fresh herbs (oregano, basil, parsley…)
2 garlic cloves, bashed with the back of a knife
1 small chillie (optional)
1. Turn your oven onto 160 C (330 F)
2. Line an oven tray with baking paper
3. Mix the tomatoes with the rest of the ingredients and tip onto the oven tray
4. Roast for 1 hour or so or until the tomatoes look sun-brunt and wrinkly and are oozing out their delectable nectar… that’s when you know they are ready to meet their match, a large chunck of home-made sourdough bread…This classifies as the best lunch ever. Especially if you pair it with a glass (or two) of chilled rose’ …
I have an undeniable weakness for heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables. My heartbeat accelerates at the glorious sight of gnarly shaped heritage tomatoes, miniature beets specked with gold and rippled in pink patterns, or baby carrots painted in vivid yellow and purple hues. I could not resist grabbing a few bunches of these gifts of the heart during my last trip at the farmers market. A splash of oil, a gentle coating of apulian vincotto and a scattering of fresh herbs is all that’s needed to complement their natural sweetness.
INGREDIENTS, serves 4
2 bunches of baby rainbow carrots (or orange dutch carrots)
3 tablespoons of Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of Vin Cotto * (replace with balsamic vinegar if needed)
salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
freshly picked thyme and marjoram leaves (or oregano)
1 garlic clove, bashed with back of a knife
1. Preheat your oven to 200 C (390 F)
2. Wash and scrub the carrots, remove the stalks and the leaves. Place carrots in a large bowl and season with oil, vin cot to, salt, pepper, garlic and herbs
3. Place the seasoned carrots onto an oven tray lined with baking paper and roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until nicely golden and slightly blistered.
4. Serve warm or cold as a side or as a salad mixed with peppery arugula leaves.
“Vincotto (translated as “cooked wine”) is a dark, sweet dense condiment produced artisanally in the Apulia region of southeastern Italy. It is made by the slow cooking and reduction over many hours of non-fermented grape must until it has been reduced to about one fifth of its original volume and the sugars present have caramelized. It can be made from a number of varieties of local red wine grapes includingPrimitivo, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera, collected after being allowed to wither naturally on the vine for about 30 days.
Vincotto has a sweet flavor, and is not a form of vinegar, though a sweet vinegar version can be produced using a vincotto as a base. This additional product is called a Vinegar of Vincotto, Vincotto Vinegar, or Vincotto balsamic and can be used in the same way as a good mellow Balsamic vinegar.”
- Kale Avocado Salad & Roasted Rainbow Carrots (shareplatesf.wordpress.com)
- Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Cannellini Beans Salad (silviascucina.net)
- Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Kale Pesto (lattesandleggings.com)
- Balsamic Roasted Roots (nourishtheself.wordpress.com)
My fondest Easter morning memory takes me back to Italy, to being a child, to being with Nonna Irene. Every Easter she used to make Pupe di Pasqua (traditional Abruzzese Easter Dolls) out of pastry, for us children to dunk in our bowl of milk on Easter morning. Me, my sister Ale and my cousin Elena would be the lucky recipients of lovely peasant girl-like dolls while my brother Giammarco and my cousin Giorgio would devour their horse-shaped dolls in no more than a few bites. As if part of some gruesome tribal ritual, the heads would be the first to go, leaving our dolls bearing a vivid resemblance to Anne Boleyn! And so, it is now my pleasure to pass on such precious legacy and make dolls for my children. Following the family tradition, the doll received the Henry the VIII treatment…
3 tablespoons of olive oil (or EVOO)
4 tablespoons of sugar
75 gr (2/3 cups) almond flour
finely grated lemon zest
150 gr (1-1/3 cups) flour, well sifted
100 gr (3/4 cup) of self-raising flour, well sifted
1 teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract
1 egg+2 tablespoons of milk for the glaze
1. Whisk the eggs with sugar until pale and fluffy. Pour in the oil, add the zest and mix well with a wooden spoon.
2. Slowly add the almond flour and the self-raising flour to obtain a dough that is just slightly softer than short pastry. Wrap it in plastic film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Turn the oven on to 170 C (340 F)
4. Line an oven tray with baking paper. Craft the doll according to your esthetics straight onto the tray. Glaze it with the egg and milk wash and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
Happy Easter! Buona Pasqua!
I am a summer person. I was born in summer. My true self seems to come to life at the early signs of the warmer months approaching. I hardly ever feel the heat, in spite of being feisty and hot-blooded, I don’t tend to perspire in excess either. Alas, summer is gradually fading here in Australia, the days getting shorter and cooler and, as I prepare for the months to come with stacks of home-made tomato passata and chillie oil in the pantry, I relish the bounty of seasonal fruit this time of the year brings, saluting the summer that has been and heralding a new autumn, in the way only figs can do. Sweet consolation!
INGREDIENTS, serves 8
For the pastry
250 gr/8 oz of flour
110 gr/ 3,6 oz butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla paste or extract
For the Frangipane Filling
100 gr/ 1 cup of pistachio
100 gr/ 1 cup sugar
100 gr/ 3.5 oz butter, soft
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons flour
6 figs cut into thin slices
- French Pear Tart (also known as the bourdaloue tart) (sabaahkitchendelights.wordpress.com)
- Thank goodness – my first Gluten-Free Pastry Recipe (margaretmortondean.wordpress.com)
- Cranberry Cornmeal Cookies with Lime Glaze (spoonfeast.com)
- Blueberry Amandine Tarts (underthebluegumtree.com)
The obvious perk of having a green-thumbed husband is that, wherever I turn in the garden, I am bound to stumble upon edible goodies. Even in the busiest time, when the work load and the chores of domestic life take over, I can always count of fresh, perfumed herbs. Whatever is in season, it is likely to be growing in our sunny backyard, ready for me to pick and transform into a nutritious meal. Turning emerald-green basil leaves into Italy’s most loved pasta condiment is an easy enough task, the ingredients are few and easy to gather, the method quite straight-forward; the only extra bit that will make the difference between a pesto and a really good pesto, is love and commitment to authenticity. Pesto is an ancient Ligurian dish and its name encapsulates the method used to produced it: in the Genoese dialect the word pestâ (Italian: pestare) means to pound, to crush, in reference to the original method of preparation, with marble mortar and pestle, however it is acceptable these days to use a food processor. What has remained unaltered in times is the addition of boiled potato cubes and green beans, which elevate this humble dish to a delectable, substantial meal. Traditionally it is served with straccetti, trofie or trenette pasta, typical from the Liguria region of Italy, however spaghetti marries equally well with pesto and it is by far my dad’s desert island meal.
Papa’, this is for you!
INGREDIENTS, serves 4
2 large bunches of basil, stalks trimmed
2 ice cubes (they will help preserve the vibrant green hue of the basil)
1 garlic clove, peeled (use more if you like it very pungent)
3/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup of pine nuts
1/4 cup of grated parmigiano
1/4 cup of freshly grated pecorino
sea salt to taste
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 cup of green beans, trimmed and cut into three
320 gr (11 oz) of dry spaghetti
1. If using a food processor: put the basil, garlic, nuts, cheese and ice cubes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with blades and blitz until smooth. Slowly add in the oil in a stream and process with the rest of the ingredients until dense and well emulsified. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.
2. If using a pestle and mortar, add basil, garlic pine nuts, ice cubes and a pinch of salt to the mortar. Start working with the pestle, pressing and rotating it until all the ingredients are nicely ground. Add the cheese and mix well. Slowly pour in the oil and mix well until well emulsified. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Discard the ice cubes that have not melted into the pesto. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use (it will keep, well covered in oil, for over a week).
3. Bring a large pot of slated water to the boil. Drop in your pasta along with the potato cubes. 4 minutes into cooking, add the beans. Cook your pasta and vegetables until nicely al dente. Drain, but be sure to reserve 3 or 4 tablespoon of pasta cooking liquor (aqua di cottura). Place the pasta, potato and beans onto a serving dish, pour over the pesto and mix well. If too dry, add a little of the reserved cooking water.
Serve piping hot!
- Pasta Genovese (with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans) (spontaneoustomato.com)
- Whole-Wheat Fettuccine with Arugula Pesto (williams-sonoma.com)
- Where Pesto is King! (cavavaplus.wordpress.com)
- Recipe File: Kale Pesto (theglitterguide.com)
Just when I thought I couldn’t make Amaretti because I was out of almond meal (and in no way inclined to take a trip to the supermarket with child and toddler in tow) I found a half-packet of hazelnut meal hidden in the cupboard. The idea struck me immediately, but what if it wouldn’t work? Good news, it did! The savoury nuttiness of the hazelnuts , combined with the gentle sweetness of the meringue and the bitter kick of cocoa powder turns this classic Italian cookie into an irresistible grown-up affair. The addition of chocolate chips has the potential to lure children into tasting them and enjoying them with gusto.
1 egg white, at room temperature
75 gr (1/3 cup +1 tablespoon) of sugar+extra for sprinkling
140 gr (1 cup +2 tablespoons) of hazelnut meal (roasted ground hazelnuts*)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 scant tablespoon of cocoa powder
24 dark chocolate chips
1. In a clean dry bowl, beat the egg white with the sugar until they are stiff and shiny. If you are impatient, like I am, I suggest using a hand-eld electric beater to do the job.
2. Gently fold in the hazelnut meal, add vanilla and cocoa and mix well until all the ingredients are well amalgamated. Don’t panic it , at first , it looks like the egg white won’t be enough to bind the dry ingredients. It will come together in 1 or two minutes and you will be left with a soft, sticky batter.
3. Shape the dough into 12 balls, they size of a walnut and dust each ball with sugar.
4. Gently push your index finger in the middle of each ball to create a little crate. Push two chocolate chips into each crate.
5. Put the shaped amaretti on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
6. In the meantime bring your oven temperature to 170 C (340 F).
7. Bake for 25/30 minutes or until the amaretti are slightly cracked, but retain some softness. To make sure they are cooked through check that the base is firm and tanned.
Cool them at room temperature (not in the oven,as my friend Helen did…) and enjoy with coffee, gelato, hot chocolate or, if you can handle it, some fiery Grappa.
* Toast shelled hazelnuts in a hot oven for ten to fifteen minutes. As soon a you take them from the oven, rub the nuts vigorously with a towel to remove their bitter brown skins. Grind in a food processor fitted with a sharp blade.
My two months in Italy already seem so far away in the past. It has only been two weeks since I’ve been back, but, as it always is, all the things you put on hold and stop worrying about when you are on holiday, come back to haunt you and to kick you in the rear as soon as you return. If, on top of that, you add meetings for a new job within hours of arriving in Sydney after an excruciatingly long flight, a family reunion in Adelaide two days later (mind you, this was great fun and we could count on an endless supply of babysitters…), two -boring- visits to the Mac Genius Bar hoping to get my laptop fixed, and two children under five both sick with colds and sore throats, then you get a the pretty picture.
This morning I decided to wake up early and start the day the right way around. Everybody is still asleep as I type this, and I’ve already fed my baby and put him back to sleep, had a hot bath in a quiet and calm environment, with no rubber ducks or squirting toys of any sort floating around me, and, most importantly, the cake is already in the oven and I can smell the lemon and the cinnamon impregnating the house with their sweet and intoxicating aromas.
Today is going to be a great day!
3 eggs, separated
200 gr (1 cup) of brown sugar
130 gr (1/2 cup) of Greek yogurt
75 ml (1/3 cup)of grape seed oil (or light olive oil, non extra-virgin)
1 teaspoon of vanilla paste (or extract)
220 gr (2 cups) of sifted self-raising flour
50 gr (1/3 cup)of Almond meal
3 table spoons of sultanas soaked for 30 minutes (or 1 minute in the microwave) in Marsala wine (or Rum)
1 table-spoon of cinnamon powder
1 grated apple
zest of 1 lemon
2 apples cut in quarters, 2 table-spoons of butter, 1 table-spoon of castor sugar
1. In a frying pan, caramelize the apple quarters with sugar, lemon zest and butter for 10 minutes.
2. Whisk the sugar with the yolks until pale and creamy. Pour in the yogurt, oil, the grated apple and vanilla and mix well then add your flours, cinnamon and the pre-soaked sultanas with two table spoons of the soaking liquid.
3. Whisk 3 egg whites until soft peaks form and gently fold them into the cake batter.
4. Pour cake mix into a cake tin lined with baking paper and top with the caramelized apples and almond flakes.
5. Bake at 170 Celsius (350 Farenheit) for around 35/40 minutes
As tough as it is, allow to cool before you cut yourself a large slice…