italyum_update https://www.italyum.com/ Mon, 22 Apr 2019 04:43:15 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) Frank Imbergamo cooks up a Sopranos treat http://www.italyum.com/blog/233-frank-imbergamo-cooks-up-a-sopranos-treat.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Grown Ups

Our friend Frank Imbergamo has sent us a new video recipe. Frank is well known actor, chef and writer living in Boston who has played roles in movies like Grown Ups, Ted and R.I.P.D. and is currently working on three projects. This recipe is a special Sopranos inspired spicy shrimp with linguine and tomato sauce to celebrate the release for the first time of the complete Sopranos on Blu-ray. 

 

Buon appetito!

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Tue, 26 Aug 2014 08:43:14 GMT http://www.italyum.com/blog/233-frank-imbergamo-cooks-up-a-sopranos-treat.html
Yesterday's sourdough pizza http://www.italyum.com/blog/232-yesterday-s-sourdough-pizza-80-hydration-very-challenging-but-very-good-too.html Yesterday's sourdough pizza @ 80% hydration. Very challenging, but very good too!

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Mon, 10 Mar 2014 14:58:24 GMT http://www.italyum.com/blog/232-yesterday-s-sourdough-pizza-80-hydration-very-challenging-but-very-good-too.html
Spaghetti carbonara (Spaghetti alla carbonara) http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/73-spaghetti-carbonara-spaghetti-alla-carbonara.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1


Preparation: 15 mins
Cooking: 10-12 mins    
Difficulty: Medium

There are many stories about the origin of the name "Carbonara", but I wouldn't bet on them! Researchers have yet to find any reference of this dish in old original recipe books. It is likely that the dish has probably been invented later, in the 20th century; probably during WWII time, when the Americans consumed large amounts of bacon and eggs. It is from this that, maybe, someone started to create a carbonara sauce to top pasta.

Another story, not supported by any official records, says that the dish gets its name from the Italian word “carbonari”. “Carbonari” were the foresters making charcoal (”carbone di legna”) from wood in the central mountains (”Appennino”) of Italy. These men, living probably in the 19th century, allegedly invented this rustic dish.

It is a dish that requires some skill because timing is important when adding the egg mixture at the final stage. Certainly, it is a recipe which you may have to try a few times before getting it just right.

If you want to make the CLASSIC CARBONARA, as most people do in Italy, especially in the Lazio region, then follow my directions but SKIP the wine & onion stage. However, there is a growing minority of people who add onion to the carbonara, because this is the way they like it (and I am one of them); it is one of the many variations existing in the country and if you want to try it, then follow my directions in full, by adding the two optional ingredients listed.

 

SERVES 4

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements)

  • 400 g (14 oz) Spaghetti 
  • 150 g (5 oz) Unsmoked streaky bacon slices (very thin - 1 mm thick)
  • 50 g (2 oz) Pecorino cheese - matured (freshly grated)
  • 15 ml (1tbs) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Egg yolks + 1 whole egg (use large size eggs, preferably free range organic)
  • 80 ml (3 fl oz) White wine - OPTIONAL INGREDIENT
  • 1 Small size onion (cut into thin rings) - OPTIONAL INGREDIENT
  • 5 g (¼ oz) Ground pepper grains (crushed in the mortar)

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements)

  • 14 ounces Spaghetti 
  • 5 1/2 ounces Unsmoked streaky bacon slices (very thin - less than 1/16" thick)
  • 2 ounces Pecorino cheese - matured (freshly grated)
  • 1 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Egg yolks + 1 whole egg (use large size eggs, preferably free range organic)
  • 5 tablespoons (just a bit more than 1/4 cup) White wine - OPTIONAL INGREDIENT
  • 1 Small size onion (cut into thin rings) - OPTIONAL INGREDIENT
  • 1/5 ounce Ground pepper grains (crushed in the mortar)

 

About the salt: Spaghetti is boiled in salted water, the bacon is salty and the Pecorino cheese is salty, so take care seasoning with salt!

 

Note: I suggest using thin slices of streaky bacon (pancetta tesa) because this is what you can easily find if you live abroad. In Italy, for this specific dish, it is a must to use diced “guanciale” (cured pig jowl or cheeks). I is important that the streaky bacon is unsmoked; lightly smoked or smoked bacon will make the dish a bit too rich and some people would find it too strong. I did the recipe using streaky bacon cut in thin slices (it cooks evenly), however you can dice it if you prefer to do so.

 

Directions:

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I found these streaky bacon slices at the supermarket. They were already thinly cut, so the only thing I had to do was to cut the slices in two pieces to make the slices shorter.

 

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Put 3 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg into a large bowl.

 

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While whisking, add the Pecorino cheese, but add it gradually because the cheese will dry the mixture and you need a smooth and creamy mixture. In my case I added only 40 g (1 1/2 ounces) because 50 g (2 ounces) would have dried the mixture too much (the remaining cheese can be used later for topping the pasta if you like).

 

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Take the crushed pepper you have previously prepared.

 

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Add the pepper to the bowl.

 

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Whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy, and then leave it to rest.

 

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Put the oil into a frying pan and when it is hot move the pan around distributing the oil all over the pan surface.

 

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Lay all the bacon slices into the pan and cook at medium heat.

 

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After a minute or so, start stirring the slices in order to cook them on both sides. When you see the first sign of browning, remove the pan from the cooker and go to the next step.

 

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Transfer the bacon slices into a small bowl and leave them for the moment. Now, put your spaghetti into the boiling water and while boiling start cooking the onion.

 

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In the same pan you cooked the bacon slices, which is still hot, add the onion rings and cook them for a couple of minutes.

 

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Then, add the wine and cook for a couple of minutes. Then, turn the heat down and gently cook the onions until caramelised.

 

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This is what it should look like after a few minutes.

 

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Remove the pan from the cooker and put the bacon slices back into the pan.

 

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With the pan away from the cooker (we do not want to overcook the bacon), stir everything together and set aside.

 

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When the spaghetti is ready, put the saucepan containing the bacon and the onion back on the cooker (low heat) and meanwhile drain the spaghetti (remember to leave the spaghetti a little wet). Be quick draining the spaghetti because we do not want it to cool down. Put the drained spaghetti back into the large pan you used to boil it, which is still hot, and quickly add the bacon and onions.

 

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Stir quickly for 10 seconds and move on to the next stage.

 

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Quickly add the egg mixture.  


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Stir everything together for 20 seconds. The heat of the spaghetti and the heat of the pan is enough to cook the egg mixture. Do not carry out this procedure on the cooker otherwise, you will dry the spaghetti too much (I do not think you want to reach this stage to have spaghetti and scrambled eggs!). The final result should be a creamy sauce coating the spaghetti. Please, do not use any cooking cream, milk or butter; these are "tricks" that people use to cover their mistakes (even in Italy!).

 

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Serve immediately and feel free to season with more pepper if you like, or sprinkle with some of the remaining Pecorino cheese, if you have any left. You can also try garnishing the plate with some parsley (flat leaf - torn by hand), but not too much.


Buon appetito! 

 

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Tue, 14 Jan 2014 14:11:00 GMT http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/73-spaghetti-carbonara-spaghetti-alla-carbonara.html
Potato gnocchi with tomato sauce http://www.italyum.com/gnocchi-recipes/71-potato-gnocchi-with-tomato-sauce.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebClose Up 

 

Preparation: 45 mins
Cooking: 2-3 mins    
Difficulty: Medium    
Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Veggie Vegetarian

This is where simplicity and inexpensive ingredients meet up and they are transformed in a delicious final dish. In our family, in Italy, gnocchi was “the usual” for the Sunday lunch during wintertime. I remember that when I was a boy, I always used to steal some gnocchi from the preparation board and to eat them raw before being boiled, which met with great disapproval from my mum. Gnocchi is a very versatile dish, like spaghetti, and can be accompanied by many different sauces despite the purists, who only want to use tomato sauce. Try gnocchi with “pesto sauce” or “ragù di carne”, thus giving you a broader choice for your guests.  

 

SERVES 4

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Ingredients for the gnocchi (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 800 g (1 3/4 lb) Old floury potatoes
  • 200 g (7 oz) Plain flour (however, keep some extra flour for the work surface)
  • 1 Egg (medium size)
  • Salt for the boiling water

 

Ingredients for the gnocchi (U.S. measurements): 

  • 29 ounces (1 pound 13 ounces) Old floury potatoes
  • 7 ounces Plain flour (however, keep some extra flour for the work surface)
  • 1 Egg (medium size)
  • Salt for the boiling water

 

Ingredients for the topping:

  • Tomato sauce (see note below)
  • Few basil leaves
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

 

Note 1: the “tomato sauce” recipe is featured in the vegetable section of the website. 

Note 2: 200 g (7 ounces) of flour is what we should use with the amount of potatoes I have used in the above list. However, there are many different types of potato on the market and every type will absorb varying amounts of flour (because of the different amounts of water they absorb during boiling). Do not be surprised if sometimes you will end up using 250g (9 ounces) or 300 g (10 1/2 ounces) of flour, but as rule of thumb you should try to use the minimum amount of flour possible in order to keep the gnocchi lighter.

 

Directions: 

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Put the unpeeled potatoes into a pan of cold water (slightly salted) and boil them for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Potatoes should be roughly of the same size so that the boiling time is the same for them all.

 

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Generally speaking, the potatoes should be ready when the skin starts showing some cracks. Try to prick the potatoes with a fork and if you do not find any resistance, then the potatoes are ready for the next stage.

 

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Drain the potatoes and put them onto a kitchen towel or whatever is practical for you.

 

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Peel the potatoes. 

 

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Mash the potatoes.

 

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It is easier to mash the potatoes when they are still hot, however, after mashing them, leave the mash to cool down for about 10 minutes. During this time, some of the water absorbed during the boiling will go away in the form of steam. The less water we have in the mash, the less flour we will use during the kneading.

 

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Spread some flour onto the work surface to avoid the mashed potatoes sticking to it.

 

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Put all your mashed potatoes onto the work surface.

 

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Put the egg into a small bowl and whisk it for few seconds. We are not going to add the whole egg into the potato mixture otherwise the mixture will be too wet and will require too much extra flour to complete the dough (excessive flour will make the gnocchi stodgy). Better to have the egg in a bowl and to add what we need, taking, initially, just a couple of spoonfuls of it.

 

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Add half of the flour and mix with your hand.

 

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Then, as I said before, add just a couple of spoonfuls of egg and add the rest of the flour.

 

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Knead the mixture for 5-7 minutes and if you think it is too dry, then you can add an extra spoonful of egg to bring the dough to the right consistency.

 

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The final dough should be smooth and elastic (not sticky).

 

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Cut the dough in 4-5 pieces as shown in the picture.

 

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With every piece you have cut, make a ball.

 

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Flour the work surface lightly. Then, press and roll the ball onto the surface to make long sausage-like strips. 

 

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The sausage should be about as thicker as your thumb.

 

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When the long sausage is ready, it’s time to cut it.

 

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Cut the sausage in about 2 1/2 cm (1”) long pieces.

 

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The cut pieces should be laid onto the lightly floured work surface and separated.

 

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Take the small pieces and make small gnocchi with them.

 

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The gnocchi are then ready to be boiled. Normally, I boil the gnocchi straightaway but if you want to do that later (after few hours), separate them onto a floured cardboard tray and put them in the fridge.

 

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Rolling the gnocchi onto the fork prongs will make grooves on their surface. This is a good way to retain more sauce around their surface. If you want to do a top job, I suggest you use a grooving board specifically made for this purpose.

 

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Gnocchi with grooves.

 

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Take a large pan of salted water and bring to the boil. When the water is gently boiling, put the gnocchi into the pan and wait!

 

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The gnocchi will be cooked when they start floating (it should take a couple of minutes). Leave them to float for a further 30 seconds.

 

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Take them out with a slotted spoon and put them quickly into the saucepan containing the tomato sauce (this has to be hot).

 

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To do this, you should have prepared the tomato sauce before and kept it ready for this final stage.

 

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Also. You should have washed few leaves of fresh basil and patted dry with kitchen paper.

 

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Gently toss the gnocchi in the saucepan for about 20-30 seconds and add the basil leaves. Serve it immediately.

 

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Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

 

Buon appetito!

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Thu, 13 Mar 2014 08:02:03 GMT http://www.italyum.com/gnocchi-recipes/71-potato-gnocchi-with-tomato-sauce.html
Resia garlic - Aglio di Resia - Rosajanski strok http://www.italyum.com/blog/231-resia-garlic-aglio-di-resia-rosajanski-strok.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes IMG 20130720 00380

For a while I’ve wanted to write about the “Aglio di Resia” (the garlic from Resia valley) and what my Italian cousin Donatella is doing to bring this wonderful ingredient the fame it deserves, however I’ve always waited and waited, despite her numerous invitations to go there and see what’s going on. That is until this summer! I decided to spend some time in the north-east of Italy (the name of the region is Friuli Venezia Giulia), near the borders of Slovenia and Austria.

But let’s start with a bit of background information before getting to the real story. Donatella has spent most of her life as myself, in south Lombardy near Brescia, a place in the “pianura padana” (the Padan plain) which is not well frequented by tourists. It has very hot and humid summers (full of annoying mosquitoes, of course) and unbelievably cold and foggy days in the winter.

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Donatella’s mum (Auntie Ann) is a native of the Resia Valley in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, and her family used to spend every summer holiday with their relatives in the valley for as long as I can remember. My mum is from Friuli too and she used to be a nursery teacher in a small Resia village called Oseacco. Now, to cut a long story short, my dad’s brother (from Brescia) got married to Donatella’s mum (Auntie Ann) and my dad got married to my mum; everybody moved to Brescia and the valleys of the Friuli could only be visited in the summer, when school holiday started. It was a long drive from Brescia, because at that time we didn’t have the motorways we have today, and a trip to Friuli meant 6-7 hours in the car where nowadays we can be there after 3 ½ hours driving.
I love Friuli, it’s my favourite place on earth - the place where my grandmother lived and where I spent my childhood just about every summer. I used to stay in Camporosso in Val Canale, a village at the foot of Mount Lussari (check this in internet and you will be amazed), just a few miles from the Austria/Slovenia borders. A place rich of history, where three ethnic groups have mixed together for centuries (German, Slavic and Latin) and where they fought each other during WWI and WWII (the book “The White War” written by Mark Thomspon is probably one of the best books I’ve read about WWI on the Italian front and gives lots of interesting information about the people and places of Friuli).
Now, coming back to Donatella, she has always felt a big pull to go back to Oseacco, her mum’s native village in Resia valley, so she bought a house there. Most of the old houses, after the 1976 earthquake (Terremoto del Friuli), were either destroyed or badly damaged. People rebuilt the houses with new materials and according to a more modern style, so it was inevitable that some of the original architectural features of the local buildings were lost forever, but Donatella wanted to do things in her own way; she wanted a house like the ones she used to stay when she was a child, so she changed her already restored house into what it was originally.

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Her trips from Brescia to Resia valley increased; it was not just summer holiday, there was more to it! Donatella and her husband Renato have been successful entrepreneurs, running a company in Brescia, renting machinery for the building industry. A few years ago they decided to sell the company and do something else. Their entrepreneur spirit was not lost, so they soon bought a small “podere” in Resia valley, an old abandoned farm near the river and started to tidy things up. Uphill, above the farm, there were some fields where apparently local people used to cultivate garlic and this gave Donatella an idea. From that moment on, it’s been a roller coaster; she has been president of the local garlic association and they arranged for the garlic to be tested in a laboratory of Udine University and then they went to the “terra madre” exhibition in Turin.

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It is also a Slow Food presidia, which says a lots about how seriously they took the garlic project. The garlic of Resia, this beautiful white garlic with reddish stripes came back to life and fame and it seems that it has something different from the normal garlic we commonly find in the shops or supermarkets; the flavour, the organoleptic properties (probably due to the particular soil and climate of the valley) and the fact that allegedly it doesn’t upset the digestion are all features that the local producers are proud of.
I visited Donatella on the 19th July, and it was supposed to be a flying visit but then I stayed there for an extra day. She was running an important event to promote the garlic both as food and as tourist attraction, since July is time for the harvest and people can go and collect the garlic by themselves. Then, I also discovered that she produces a fantastic unpasteurised beer and you can imagine now why I stopped there for an extra day!

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What a lovely place and what an amazing venture she’s threw herself into. I promised her that I would write something in the Italyum blog, to let people know about the garlic they produce and not only the garlic, because now they have also started to preserve the garlic and other parts of the plant in olive oil, to supply the local restaurants and deli shops. It’s an ongoing venture! Feel free to contact Donatella for more information about the garlic or, why not visit during the next years harvest! I have added lots of pictures below, so that you can have an idea of the place and people involved in this remarkable project.

 

You can write to Donatella Pezzaioli at this e-mail address:
fassal@libero.it

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Other related link (unfortunately they are written in Italian, but give it a try with Google translate):
https://www.facebook.com/Fassal.agliodiresia?ref=ts&fref=ts

http://www.fondazioneslowfood.it/pagine/ita/presidi_italia/dettaglio_presidi.lasso?-id=3503

http://www.tgcom24.mediaset.it/viaggi/week-end/articoli/1106851/a-resia-la-raccolta-dell%E2%80%99aglio-di-montagna.shtml

http://www.udinetoday.it/eventi/raccolta-aglio-resia-azienda-agricola-fassal-22-luglio-2012.html

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Mon, 02 Sep 2013 15:00:21 GMT http://www.italyum.com/blog/231-resia-garlic-aglio-di-resia-rosajanski-strok.html
A Visit to Suzzara http://www.italyum.com/blog/229-a-visit-to-suzzara.html In April I visited Italy just a week, to see the family and relatives. It happens that my brother lives in Suzzara (province of Mantova), just few miles from the river Po, the biggest river in Italy. Despite Suzzara being under the province of Mantova (in Italy provinces are like the counties here in the UK), their local food is strongly influenced by the nearby province of Modena. From Suzzara, cross the river and you are in the province of Modena.

Modena is in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and it is very close to Bologna, so you can imagine the type of food they eat there; real no-fuss-food. Local trattorias, both on the hills at the foot of the Apennini mountains and along the river Po are well known for serving "Tigelle" (also called Crescentine), "gnocco fritto" and "piadine romagnole". 

In the website we have already published the recipe for the gnocco fritto and the piadina romagnola, so give it a go but here I would like to talk about the tigelle - a topic which I have never covered before. Tigelle are similar to blinis, but a bit crispier. They are made more or less with the same ingredients used for the piadina romagnola, and then cooked is a special mold pan that allows to make more than one at a time. They are served very hot with a lard mix called "cunza" (cunza is a mix of lard, rosemary and garlic - cunza is also called Modena pesto) that you spread onto the tigelle. 

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My brother took me and the rest of my family in this local trattoria, close to the river Po, and there we all had a real feast! Tigelle in abundance and then came the gnocco fritto, accompanied by a selection of local "salumi" (cured meat) like "salame nostrano", "coppa", "culatello", "prosciutto". Then came the cheese and, I have to say, I tasted the best gorgonzola cheese ever.

We were also given "pinzimonio", a selection of crude vegetables to dip in olive oil or even better in a vinagrette made with olive oil and aceto balsamico di Modena.

I washed everything down with a fantastic super fizzy Lambrusco wine, the type that leaves your tongue a purple colour for a couple of days and will stain the glass forever!

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Absolutely a memorable night - I look forward to our return! Here are some photos of the delights we sampled:
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Fri, 31 May 2013 15:31:08 GMT http://www.italyum.com/blog/229-a-visit-to-suzzara.html
Federico's been baking http://www.italyum.com/blog/228-federico-s-been-baking.html Federico has just been working on baking small baguettes with "poolish" a pre-ferment that allows for more complex flavours to develop. 

 

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(More photos in the gallery.)

 

Would you like Federico to share the secrets of making these delicious loaves? 

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Mon, 08 Apr 2013 08:55:26 GMT http://www.italyum.com/blog/228-federico-s-been-baking.html
Amazon free app of the day blows up our server! http://www.italyum.com/blog/227-amazon-free-app-of-the-day-blows-up-server.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes BigpromoOn the 16th January, we had the great honour of being featured as the Amazon free app of the day. In under a few hours, the app was downloaded 45,000 times and the stress on our web server caused a huge meltdown!

We were warned that the promotion would cause a fair bit of increased interest, so we prepared by moving most of the site onto a content distribution network. However, such was the demand for the app, that even this was unable to handle the hungry app enthusiasts! I sat at my computer all day monitoring the site, and all seemed well. But, just as I was about to break for dinner, a big surge of interest from Americans (presumably thinking about lunch) overwhelmed the server and it went up in a ball of flames (metaphorically I think.)

 I then spent the next few hours pleading with our hosting company (who we had warned of the increased demand) to help us get back online promptly. Despite 5 years of custom, and the fact that I'm a reseller of their products they proved very unhelpful, and deactivated the Italyum account. I then had to do a significant amount of jiggery pokery to move the entire site to a new more powerful server. This process took some time, and many people faced with the spinning wheel of boredom left 1 star reviews. 

However, normal service was resumed by midnight UK time, and we are absolutely delighted with the way our app has been received since: 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Stars"I redownloaded the app today and everything is working perfectly. This is a wonderful app and I can't wait to get cooking! I have to thank you for the Seabream recipe. My great-granny made them but the recipe, if ever written down (which I doubt) is long gone. You have brought a smile to my face as I remember my nonna's mamma. Thank you."

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Stars"Wow, got for free today. First time would not open, so tried again, and it was so easy to use. Step by step perfection with pictures for each step so it feels like you have a personal chef showing you how to prepare it. Bravo!"

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Stars"I really love this app! First off it does work on the Kindle Fire - I've not had any issues with it. Secondly what I love with the app is the pictures helping to walk you thru the recipes. So as you make it, you can see how it should look. Another example is the Spaghetti Carbonara recipe.It calls for "streaky bacon ". Some people may not be familiar with the term so the pictures for this recipe shows all the ingredients and the bacon especially is shown so you can see what they mean. I found it helpful and am happy with this app."

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Stars"After the early burp from their server, it seems to work well. The pictures are well chosen to inform the explanation, and the prose is clear. I looked at a couple of core recipes and learned some improvements in technique.

 So, another learning experience - going from a 1000 visitors a day to 45,000 is more than a normal server can take!

Thank you for your patience if you downloaded the app while our server was down. I hope now you can explore our recipes and start to cook some delicious food for family and friends. Thanks also for the great suggestions on how to improve the app - we will take those on board and hope to do an all new version two in the near future.

Italyum is not a big company or organisation - it is the hobby and passion of myself and Federico. We spend a lot of time to research, write, photograph and publish the recipes on this site and on the app, and getting comments like those above and on our Facebook page make it all worth while. 

 

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Sun, 20 Jan 2013 09:09:26 GMT http://www.italyum.com/blog/227-amazon-free-app-of-the-day-blows-up-server.html
Panforte Margherita http://www.italyum.com/bakery/225-panforte-margherita.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto Cover

 

Preparation: 20 mins
Cooking: 35 mins   
Difficulty: Easy 

Panforte is a traditional Christmas celebration cake from Siena, a Tuscan city probably known to most for its famous horse race “il palio di Siena”. It’s a hard spicy cake, packed with nuts and candied fruit whose name “panforte” means strong bread. This cake has its origins in the 13th century Tuscany and at that time it was more like a heavy compact bread containing dried fruit and various spices, which in medieval times was very expensive to buy, making the panforte available mostly to the wealthy.

There are umteen versions of panforte (every pastry shop or baker in Siena has its own recipe) and the one I am going to show you is the Margherita version (tipo Margherita). Margherita was the name of the Queen of Italy (Margherita di Savoia 1851-1926); wherever she went there was always someone naming a food item after her (Pizza Margherita in Naples is a clear example). The Panforte Margherita is lighter than its medieval predecessors and can be prepared using mixed citrus peel instead of the most specific “Candito nero di Ponone” (black candied melon, a requirement for the preparation of the medieval version of panforte). After the first bite, two things come to my mind: ginger biscuits and chai tea! You can have it with tea, coffee or even vin santo, which is the Tuscan name for dessert wine. I live in Scotland and sometimes in the evening I have a little slice of it with a dram of good whisky!

 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):
300 g (11 oz) Unrefined granulated sugar
100 g (4 oz) Acacia honey
150 g (5 oz) Plain flour
250 g (9 oz) Almonds (unpeeled)
100 g (4 oz) Walnuts
300 g (11 oz) Mixed citrus peel
4 g (a heaped tsp) Cinnamon
4 g ( a heaped tsp) Ginger
2 g Coriander (a level tsp)
0.5 g Nutmeg (1/4 tsp)
1 Vanilla bean (use the seeds)

You also need:

A few sheets of rice paper to line the cake tin
Some extra flour for dusting before the baking
Vanilla icing sugar for dusting before serving

 

Directions:

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Pre-heat the oven to 150°C (300°F). While you are doing so, put the almonds and the walnuts into the oven for about 10 minutes. Do not mix the nuts as they are treated separately.

 

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Place the citrus peel onto a chopping board.

 

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Roughly chop the peel into irregular bits; anything with the size of 5 to 8 mm (3/16" to 1/3") will do the job. You can also cut some small strips, i.e. 5x5 mm (3/16"x3/16") and 15 mm (5/8") long if you want. Once you have finished, put the peel into a large glass bowl and set aside for few minutes.

 

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Once the walnuts are taken out of the oven (do you remember? they have been put in the oven for about 10 minutes), roughly crash the walnuts (do not reduce to powder), just to quarter their size.

 

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Add the crashed walnuts to the peel.

 

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Add the almonds to the peel and and set aside.

 

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Add all the spices to the flour, including the vanilla seeds you should have removed from the vanilla bean. Give it a good stir so that all the spices are evenly dispersed through the flour. Set aside.

 

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Cut the rice paper sheets to line the bottom and side of your cake tin. I have used a 20 cm (8") diameter cake tin, 4 cm (1 1/2") deep.

 

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I have done the bottom and now I am lining the tin side.

 

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Job done!

 

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Put the sugar and the honey into a small heavy bottom pan (I have used a sugar pan). Melt everything on a low heat.

 

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You may need to add a tablespoon of water to help through the process.

 

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When the sugar is dissolved and the contents start to bubble (the colour should be pale yellow), we are ready for the next stage.

 

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Add the flour with the spices into the glass bowl.

 

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Give the whole thing a good mix. using a wooden spoon. The flour and the spices should evenly coat the almonds/walnut and peel.

 

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Pour the melted sugar/honey mix into the glass bowl and very quickly start to mix everything together.

 

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The quicker the better because the more you wait and the harder the mix will be to stir. It should really take no more than a minute.

 

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Spread the mix into the cake tin, trying to cover the whole bottom of the tin. Start with the wooden spoon and then use a metal spoon to level the mix.

 

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Once the mix has been levelled, I press down to compact the mix using the bottom of a glass. This is to be sure we are not leaving any empty pockets.

 

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Now, sprinkle a generous layer of flour over the surface.

 

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With the flour it will be easier to pat down and compress the cake a bit more.

 

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Place the cake tin into the oven and bake for 35 minuets at 150°C (300°F). My oven is fan assisted.

 

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After 35 minutes baking, remove the cake tin from the oven.

 

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With a brush, get rid of the flour on the surface. Let the tin cool for a few minutes and then remove the cake from the tin.

 

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The cake will be warm and soft, so don’t poke it with your fingers and handle it with care.

 

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Put the cake onto a wire rack and let it cool down/harden in a dry/cool place, with the top loosely covered with foil, until the next day. If you are in a hurry, like me, once the cake has cooled down a bit, place it (on top of the wire rack) in the fridge for at least 4 hours; it will harden perfectly.

 

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However, the flavours will develop further if you wait for one day before eating it. I feel a bit hypocrite to give this advice because my cake only lasted few hours!

 

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Commercial panforte can last for months but who knows what chemicals they put inside! This is home made with the best ingredients I could find and despite in Italy people talk about keeping it around for one month, I would say that one or two weeks (if it lasts that long!) is a reasonable shelf life if all food hygiene requirements are fully respected.

 

Now, have a slice and enjoy!

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Tue, 29 Jan 2013 16:18:24 GMT http://www.italyum.com/bakery/225-panforte-margherita.html
Poor man's chestnut cake (Castagnaccio) http://www.italyum.com/bakery/224-poor-man-s-chestnut-cake-castagnaccio.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto Cover

 

Preparation: 20 mins
Cooking: 35 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Castagnaccio is a rustic poor man's cake made with chestnut flour (the Italian for chestnut is castagna). It's a preparation from the Liguria region of Italy. This cake is also very common in nearby Tuscany. It’s not a soft, open textured cake; quite the opposite. It is not as sweet as you would expect for a cake because castagnaccio does not contain sugar (however some people like to dust some icing sugar over the top when it is still hot from the oven). This cake is an acquired taste; the palate will initially experience a subtle bitterness and then the bitterness will be overwhelmed by the sweetness of the chestnut. Like marmite, you will love it or hate it! 

It's a kaleidoscope of flavours; chestnut, sultanas, pine nuts, olive oil and rosemary. For many centuries it has been considered more like staple food rather than a cake or dessert. Many years ago school kids, especially from the rural areas of Liguria, used to have it for school snack. Even myself, when I was a kid, I used to buy castagnaccio from my local green grocer (fruttivendolo), sold in a square slice wrapped in greased paper. It’s an ideal bite while having a mid-morning coffee or an after lunch espresso, as I usually do.

 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 375 g (13 oz) Chestnut flour (quantity available in the pack)
  • 570 g (1 pint) Water
  • 50 g (2 oz) Extra virgin olive oil (see note below)
  • 75 g Pine nuts (also known as pine kernels)
  • 125 g (5 oz) Sultanas
  • A pinch of salt
  • A couple of small sprigs of rosemary

 

Note: use 25 g (1 oz) of the olive oil into the initial batter and the remaining 25 g (1 oz) for the final finish, before putting the cake into the oven.

 

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Here is a close view of the chestnut flour I have used. I had this sent to me from Italy.

 

Directions:

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Soak the sultanas in a small bowl of water, for about an hour. Remove some tiny little sprigs from the main sprig (10 for a mild flavouring, 20 for a strong flavouring).

 

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After one hour soaking in water, drain the sultanas, set aside and discard the water.

 

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Add the 570 g of water (1 pint) into a large bowl.

 

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Add half of the olive oil to the water.

 

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Add a pinch of salt to the water.

 

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Start whisking.

 

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Slowly, add the flour into the bowl, a bit at a time, while whisking. I have only two hands! one for the bowl and one for the camera; which explains why the whisk is still.....you should be whisking vigorously.

 

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This pictures shows the stage where I have added about 50% of the flour. I whisk making sure that there is no lumps before adding the remainder of the flour.

 

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Now, that all the flour has been added to the bowl, the batter should have reached a medium consistency (not too loose).

 

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Next, add the sultanas to the batter.

 

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Then, add the pine nuts to the batter.

 

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Give the mix a good stir.

 

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Coat a cake tin with olive oil. I have used a 22 cm (8 3/4") wide cake tin.

 

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Pour the mix into the cake tin.

 

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Leave the mix to level itself for few seconds. Do not bang the tin down against the working surface; it will send the sultanas and the pine nuts to the bottom.

 

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Scatter the remaining olive oil all around the surface of the mix.

 

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Place the tiny rosemary sprigs over the surface of the mix.

 

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Place the cake tin into a pre-heated oven and bake for 35 minutes at 190°C (375°F).  My oven is fan assisted.

 

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The castagnaccio is ready. Remove from the oven and transfer it onto a plate.

 

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This is how it looks after the baking.

 

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Have a slice with an espresso coffee.

Enjoy!

 

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If you have found it a bit too bitter for your taste, dust the castagnaccio with a bit of icing sugar, but not too much.

 

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Thu, 07 Mar 2013 09:16:45 GMT http://www.italyum.com/bakery/224-poor-man-s-chestnut-cake-castagnaccio.html
New look, same great recipes http://www.italyum.com/blog/217-new-look-same-great-recipes.html We hope you like the new look to the site. Italyum has come a long way since it's creation in 2005.

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes 2   Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes 1   Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Italnew  
2005 2007 2012

We thought that as the web becomes more sophisticated, we needed to update our site again. The redesign aims to:

  • Give more prominence to the step by step photos, without having to "click to enlarge."
  • Be easier to read on a variety of screen sizes.
  • Simplify finding what you want. The menu navigation is at the very top, and recipes are automatically sorted by popularity.
  • Improve the search function.
  • Keep the great search engine position of Italyum

 

So far so good. The response we have had is really positive, and the information about how people are using the new site is really encouraging. Since the redesign, people are staying around 50% longer on  the site. What do you think about the redesign?

 

Do get in touch!

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Social Facebook Box Blue 48Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Social Twitter Box Blue 48Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Youtube

 

 

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Mon, 10 Mar 2014 14:47:03 GMT http://www.italyum.com/blog/217-new-look-same-great-recipes.html
Home made bread (Pane casereccio) http://www.italyum.com/bakery/218-home-made-bread-pane-casereccio.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo Cover

 

Preparation: 4 hours
Cooking: 40 mins    
Difficulty: Medium

This recipe for home made bread is the one I use the most, especially when I am in a hurry and need to make bread for the family. Forget the long hours fermentation process, like for the sourdough bread or bread prepared with a pre-ferment (i.e. biga, poolish & Co.); here I am using the “straight dough method” with a bit of autolyse at the very start of the process. If you are not a seasoned home baker and you are feeling an headache because of words like “straight dough method” or “autolyse”, don’t worry....just follow the recipe directions and forget about the words; in just 4 hours you will have a fantastic bread loaf, characterised by flavour, good colour and a lovely open texture.

However, if you want to know more about the two techniques I have applied for this recipe, I suggest you Google the following:

Straight dough method
Autolyse, Raymond Calvel

That’s all you need to know!!

Now, let’s start with the recipe.

 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

500 g (1.1 lb) Canadian strong white bread flour (12.6 % protein content) bp 100%
370 g (13 fl oz) Water (tepid) bp 74%
12 g (1/2 oz) Fresh yeast bp 2.4% (use only 9 g if in the summer, with hot weather)
10 g (1 tablespoon) Fine sea salt bp 2%
5 g (1 tablespoon) Diastatic malt flour (optional) bp 1%

 

Note 1: if you cannot find the Canadian strong white flour specified above, look for any strong white bread flour with protein content between 12.5% and 14%. If the protein content of your flour is closer to 14% than to 12.5%, then I suggest you use 15 g (1tbs) of extra water.

Note 2: fresh yeast is also called baker’s yeast.

Note 3: if you cannot find the diastatic malt flour, try malt extract instead.

Before you start, be sure you also have a baking stone, a bread proving basket (1 Kg capacity) and a bread/pizza peel for domestic ovens. The bread proving basket will need a handful of rye/wholewheat flour and the bread/pizza peel will need a handful of coarse semolina (read the recipe directions and you will see why).

 

Directions:

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Place the flour into the bowl of your mixer (I have used a Kenwood mixer).

 

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Add all the water.

 

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Mix for 1 minute at speed 1.

 

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After 1 minute mixing, you should have a sticky irregular mass of just flour and water.

 

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Switch off the mixer and place the plastic cover that comes with it on top of the bowl. Alternatively, remove the bowl and cover its top with cling film. Leave the mixture to rest for 30 minutes (this stage is called autolyse). Meanwhile, do something else and if you have to leave the mixture for 40 minutes or so, don’t worry, it will be fine!

 

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After the rest (autolyse), add the diastatic malt flour into the bowl.

 

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Mix for 5 minutes at speed 2.

 

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During this 5 minutes mixing, you need to add the yeast (crumbled) and the salt. Add the yeast 30 seconds after you have started the mixer and add the salt 3 minutes after you have started the mixer (the salt is the last to be added).

 

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Here is the dough after the 5 minutes mixing has been completed.

 

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Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured working surface.

 

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Shape the dough into a ball.

 

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Put the dough into a large bowl, cover with cling film, and leave for 2 1/2  hours in a warm room (this stage is called bulk fermentation). During this time, you need to take the dough out of the bowl, twice, after the first hour and the second hour, for a process called folding. Folding is absolutely important; it’s the real secret for a good bread, so follow the next directions to the letter.

 

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Here is the dough after 1 hour fermentation. It is now time for the first folding.

 

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Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured  working surface. The side of the dough that was facing downwards, when inside the bowl, should point upwards when transferred onto the working surface. Roughly shape the  dough like a rectangle, without pressing or squeezing it too much (you want to retain most of the carbon dioxide that has formed inside the dough during the fermentation).

 

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Fold the right side (one third) over the centre, as shown in the picture. Again, do this gently, without pressing or squeezing the dough too much. Be careful to not incorporate extra flour within the folds; use a soft brush to remove any excess flour.

 

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Fold the left side (one third) over the centre, overlapping the right side third, as shown in the picture.

 

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Now, turn the dough so that you are facing the longer side.

 

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Repeat the folding; one third over the centre.

 

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Fold the opposite third so that it overlaps the first third.

 

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Put the dough back in the bowl, with the seam facing the bottom of the bowl, and leave to ferment for another hour. At the second hour, repeat the folding process once more and leave to ferment for a final 1/2 hour.

 

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Once the final 1/2 hour has passed, you will have completed the 2 1/2 hours bulk fermentation stage. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured working surface. Again, the side of the dough that was facing downwards when inside the bowl, should point upwards when placed onto the working surface. The dough will be very soft to the touch and will have a light appearance.

Shape the dough like a ball, without pressing or squeezing it too much (you want to retain most of the carbon dioxide that has formed inside the dough during the fermentation).

To make a ball, turn the dough over and with both hands rotate the dough while applying gentle pressure to the base, as if tucking the dough underneath.

 

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If the above instruction has been carried out correctly, you should end up with a ball like this one. Leave the shaped dough aside for a moment.

 

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This proving basket is called “wicker basket”.  Spread and pat some flour (use rye or wholewheat flour for this job) all over its wall and base, so that the flour entirely coats the internal liner. Be generous with the flour otherwise the dough will stick to the basket, compromising the final result.

 

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Lift your loaf and put it inside the proving basket, with the top smooth side facing the bottom of the basket.

 

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Cover the basket with a cloth. Let the  dough to rise for about 45-60 minutes in a warm room (this stage is called final rising).

 

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One hour before the baking, place the baking stone inside the oven and switch the oven on. Set the oven to 230°C - 450°F (my oven is fan assisted). About 10 minutes before putting the bread into the oven, you need to create some steam inside the oven. I personally spray the water (4 or 5 times) against the oven wall, but if you are concerned about this method because you may damage your oven fan or electrics in general, here is another method: at the very start, when you switch the oven on, leave a small metal tray in the bottom of the oven. About 10 minutes before putting the bread into the oven, throw 2 or 3 ice cubes over the little tray and close the oven door quickly.

 

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The picture shows the loaf after 45 minutes final raising.

 

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Spread some semolina or polenta flour onto the peel and carefully turn the proving basket over the peel. Your loaf should fall out of the basket and over the peel, with the nice side up.

 

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With a grignette or a razor-blade (don’t use an ordinary kitchen knife) slash the top surface of the loaf.

 

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Slash the top, with a steady hand. I usually make a cross pattern but you are free to apply any pattern you wish.

 

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Place the loaf into the oven. At this stage I usually spray the oven walls with another 3 or 4 sprays and quickly close the oven door. If you are using the metal tray method, to generate steam, then add a couple of ice cubes. Bake your loaf for about 40 minutes.

 

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This is the bread ready, after 40 minutes.

 

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Leave the bread to cool down over a wire rack for at least a couple of hours.

 

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Then, you can cut your loaf and do whatever you want with it.

 

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This type of bread is the perfect all-rounder for your day to day meals and it is the ideal choice for bruschettas.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tue, 29 Jan 2013 16:18:01 GMT http://www.italyum.com/bakery/218-home-made-bread-pane-casereccio.html
The Italyum Story http://www.italyum.com/the-italyum-story.html  

The wind tore at Federico's hands as he gripped the door frame of the plane. Trying to make out some features in the dark, he didn't hesitate. He jumped. 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes SkydiveAfter a few moments of sudden violence, some peace was restored as his canopy opened and he drifted downwards. He wondered what the future would hold after his exit from the elite Italian Paratrooper regiment. One thing was for sure - it was going to be an adventure. 

Federico soon found employment with a large engineering firm travelling the length and breath of Italy from Bolzano to Sicily, making deals and signing contracts. His passion for good food meant he always sought out good local restaurants, often taking time to speak to the staff and chef about the regional cuisine. 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes KayakingAll the while, Federico still hungered for excitement - kayaking Italy's toughest white water in the Alps, and later qualifying as a coach and competing in slalom events.

So his knowledge of the traditions and secrets of great Italian food grew. In 2001 a move to the UK meant his life took another turn. Love, a family and a move to Scotland. Here, as he revelled in the opportunity to cook for Suzanne and his three children, he also completed a culinary qualification, gaining a SGA Professional Cookery Higher.

A chance meeting with Jeremy Webb on a kayaking trip led to the establishment of the Italyum web site in 2005. The mission – to make it easy for people to cook delicious authentic Italian food. Each recipe is the result of Federico's peripatetic experiences in Italy and extensive research. Each one carefully written and then recreated and photographed step-by-step by Federico in his kitchen in Ayrshire. 

In the last two years, Federico has been working hard to perfect his artisan bakery and pastry skills, bringing the same attention to detail to this demanding craft.

We hope you love the recipes you find here. It's been an adventure bringing them to you. We love to hear how you get on, to hear your comments and see the great food you make.

 

Warm regards,

 

Jeremy & Federico.

 

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Fri, 22 Jun 2012 17:03:42 GMT http://www.italyum.com/the-italyum-story.html
Bresaola with lemon and oregano http://www.italyum.com/meat-recipes/212-bresaola-with-lemon-and-oregano.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto Cover

Cold preparation : 5 minutes

Difficulty: Very easy

Bresaola is a type of air-dried beef from Valtellina, north Italy (Lombardy region). It’s made from the top round of beef, it’s very lean and ideal for “piatti freddi” (cold preparations). It is also ideal for those who want to taste cured meat without necessarily eating pork meat.

Usually, the bresaola thin slices are eaten with some drops of lemon, olive oil and a pinch of black pepper. Salt is optional, because it is already used during the bresaola curing process and you may not need it.

Here, I am presenting one of the simplest toppings for bresaola; however there are so many different variations on the theme nowadays, that I have lost the count. At the end of the recipe I will give you a couple of extra ideas about different toppings you can use and then it is up to you to decide.  

 

5 TO 7 SLICES PER PERSON 

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Ingredients:

  • Bresaola slices (5 to 7 slices per person)
  • 1 Lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Dry oregano
  • Ground black pepper
  • Salt (optional)

 

Directions: 

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Lay the bresaola slices on the plate and squeeze one lemon wedge all over the slices.

 

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Drizzle with olive oil.

 

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Sprinkle with dry oregano.

 

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Add some freshly ground black pepper.

 

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Add a bit of salt, but don’t exaggerate because the bresaola is already salted.

 

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Finally, have some bread at hand and enjoy it as quick snack.

 

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As I said in the introduction, we can play  a lot with bresaola and make many different variations on the theme. Here, for example, I have wrapped some goat cheese with bresaola and, laid the wraps onto a rocket salad bed. Then drizzle with olive oil and season with ground pepper.

 

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Another idea is to lay the bresaola slices onto the plate, squeeze some lemon and then add rocket salad, Parmesan shavings and sliced button mushrooms. Then, again, drizzle with olive oil and season with ground pepper.

 

Buon appetito!

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Wed, 30 Jan 2013 11:03:54 GMT http://www.italyum.com/meat-recipes/212-bresaola-with-lemon-and-oregano.html
The best tea cake (Amor polenta) http://www.italyum.com/bakery/210-the-best-tea-cake-amor-polenta.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto Cover

 

Amor polenta

Preparation: 30-40 minutes
Baking: 40-45 mins
Difficulty: Medium

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Veggie

Amor polenta is, in my opinion, one of the best tea cake we have in Italy. It is absolutely delicious and, if well prepared, is also light and fragrant to the palate. The name comes from the use of polenta flour, but not the coarse one used to make polenta; for the cake we use a refined version called “farina di mais fioretto” or the super refined “farina di mais fumetto”.

Nowadays, it is a cake that has gained popularity all over Italy because of the internet, but in the past it was something you could have come across only if visiting the north Italian provinces of Varese and Bergamo (Lombardy region). I’m from Lombardy and I have always wanted to publish this recipe so people can enjoy it, no matter where they live....so let’s make it global!

There are different versions of course, depending on who is making it, but generally and traditionally speaking I would recognise two main versions. One version requires finely ground almonds, with vanilla as flavouring, and the other version no almond or vanilla, but a bit of Maraschino liquor is added in the final mix.

 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 100 g (4 oz) Fine polenta flour (fine cornmeal, fine maize flour)
  • 125 g (4 1/2  oz) Cake flour
  • 100 g (4 oz) Cornflour (pure white starch)
  • 140 g (a bit less than 5 oz) Icing sugar (powdered sugar, confectioners' sugar)
  • 140 g (a bit less than 5 oz) Caster sugar
  • 10 g (1/2 oz) Acacia honey
  • 170 g (6 oz) Egg yolk
  • 160 g (a bit less than 6 oz) Egg white
  • 250 g (9 oz) Unsalted butter (soft)
  • 4 g Baking powder (a scarce tsp)
  • 25 g (1 fl oz) Maraschino liquor (OPTIONAL)

 

Note 1: You can substitute Maraschino with rum or Amaretto di Saronno.

Note 2: I recommend the use of a digital scale and measuring of all the ingredients in grams.

 

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Utensils:

  • A large size glass bowl
  • A medium size glass bowl
  • A flour sieve
  • An electric mixer with balloon/wire whisk attachment
  • An electric hand mixer
  • A 18x8x6 cm loaf tin
  • A 28x11x5 Amor polenta ridged cake tin
  • A hand whisk
  • A spatula

 

Note: you may also need a wire rack to cool down the cake and a small sieve for the final dusting with icing sugar.

 

Directions:

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To the 170 g of egg yolk add just 60 g of egg white (in the bowl you will then have 230 g of egg wash).

 

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Mix the 230 g egg wash energetically for a good 30 seconds.

 

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After you have completed the above tasks, you should be left with a 230 g bowl of egg wash (left of the picture) and 100 g of untouched egg white (right of the picture). Cover, both, with cling film and refrigerate.

 

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Take all the flours (polenta flour, cake flour and cornflour) and the baking powder.

 

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Sift all the flours and baking powder together (using a medium size glass bowl) and then set aside.

 

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Have the butter, the icing sugar and the honey to hand.

 

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Roughly cut the butter into pieces and put it into a large size glass bowl.

 

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Start mixing with the electric hand mixer, to soften the butter.

 

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When the butter is soft and paler, start adding the icing sugar. Add the icing sugar in two or three lots, while mixing with the hand mixer.

 

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Once the icing sugar is fully incorporated with the butter, add the honey and mix for few seconds with the hand mixer.

 

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Here, we have a fluffy, pale butter/icing sugar/honey mix.

 

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Next, take the 230 g egg wash from the fridge and add 1/3 of it to the butter/icing sugar/honey mix.

 

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Mix with the hand mixer and when the egg wash is fully incorporated with the butter/icing sugar/honey mix, add another 1/3 of it. Keep going until all the egg wash is incorporated with the butter/icing sugar/honey mix.

 

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Job done! Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside (not in the fridge).

 

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Now, we prepare the meringue. Take the 100 g of egg white from the fridge and put it into the electric mixer bowl.

 

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Mix with high speed for few minutes, until a white foam starts to form. Then, while still mixing, add the caster sugar in two lots. At that point the meringue will considerably increase in volume.

 

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Mix until the meringue forms a firm peak. To give you an idea, it took roughly 7 minutes for me, to achieve this stage with my Kenwood mixer.

 

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Add 1/3 of the meringue to the butter mix and gently fold, using a spatula, from the bottom to the top. Once the first 1/3 of meringue is fully incorporated, add 1/3 of the sifted flours. Then, start again, with another 1/3 of meringue and then, again, another 1/3 of sifted flours. Keep going until all the meringue and flours are incorporated in the butter mix.

 

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Gentle and correct folding is important because you want to mix the ingredients together but at the same time you want to maintain the light consistency of the whole mix.

 

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This is the final mix, the one I will put in the cake moulds.

 

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I have used non-stick cake moulds so I just needed to grease them inside with some butter. Fill the moulds to 3/4 of their depth.

 

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Put the cake moulds into a pre-heated oven and bake the large mould for 45 minutes at 165°C (330°F) and the small one for 40 minutes. My oven is fan assisted.

 

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These are the two moulds after baking.

 

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I have levelled the base of the cakes with a serrated knife.

 

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Here are the cakes cooling down on the wire racks.

 

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Here is the dusting (use icing sugar) of the traditionally shaped Amor polenta cake. Traditionally, you should have a central line with no icing, so I have used a round wooden stick to do the job.

 

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Here is the dusting of the little cake I have made with the loaf tin.

 

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Finally, the two cakes ready for my afternoon tea.

 

Enjoy! 
 
  

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Tue, 29 Jan 2013 16:20:37 GMT http://www.italyum.com/bakery/210-the-best-tea-cake-amor-polenta.html
Caprese Salad (Insalata caprese) http://www.italyum.com/vegetable-recipes/209-caprese-salad-insalata-caprese.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto Cover

    
Preparation: 5 mins
Cooking: no cooking    
Difficulty: Easy
Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Veggie Vegetarian

This is one of the most famous Italian salads and it is very easy to make. It seems it got its name for the island of Capri, in south Italy (very close to Naples), where top quality tomatoes, mozzarella and olive oil are abundant and regularly present in the local dishes; just think about the margherita pizza.

It contains very few ingredients, but you should use only the best of them, to make an exceptionally tasty caprese. Buy some organic beef tomatoes, some buffalo mozzarella, few leaves of fresh basil, a good extra virgin olive oil and finally some dry oregano. Then, think of assembling an Italian flag into your plate; that’s it!

Insalata caprese is a great starter, and very refreshing too. It can be served before a barbecue or eaten as a quick lunch, with some crackers, as I often do.

There are many variations of this salad, because people like to add other ingredients like anchovy fillets, black and green olives, chilli oil, capers etc. However, as I often say, keep it simple and don’t tweak the recipes too much; here the secret is the quality of the ingredients.   

 

SERVES 4

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Ingredients:

  • 4 Beef tomatoes (possibly organic)
  • 4 Buffalo mozzarella balls
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Dry oregano
  • Salt for seasoning
  • Fresh basil leaves

 

Note: the ingredients above are for 4 persons. In general, you need one large tomato and one mozzarella ball per person.

 

In the following directions I will show you how to prepare one plate (for one person).

 

Directions:

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Drain the mozzarella.

 

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Slice the tomato and the mozzarella ball as shown in the picture.

 

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Lay four or five tomato slices on the plate and top the tomato with the mozzarella slices.

 

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Next, a generous dash of extra virgin olive oil.

 

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Season with salt.

 

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Scatter some dry oregano all over the plate.

 

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Finally, top the mozzarella slices with fresh basil and now enjoy your caprese.

 

Buon appetito!

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Wed, 13 Feb 2013 10:22:12 GMT http://www.italyum.com/vegetable-recipes/209-caprese-salad-insalata-caprese.html
Sourdough bread (Pane toscano a lievitazione naturale) http://www.italyum.com/bakery/208-sourdough-bread-pane-toscano-a-lievitazione-naturale.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto Cover

 

Pane toscano a lievitazione naturale

(Tuscan style sourdough)

Preparation: 16-17 hours
Baking: 40-45 mins
Difficulty: Medium

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Veggie Vegetarian

This is the Tuscan style sourdough bread I make at home. To make this bread I don’t use baker’s yeast (also know as compressed yeast), but I use natural leaven. It’s the way people used to make bread for centuries, before baker’s yeast was invented. Those who are familiar with making sourdough bread, know very well the exceptional quality of this type of bread and once you start making bread with this method; there’s no way back! Natural leaven is a huge topic, so huge that it would be impossible to talk extensively about it, here, just now. The purpose of this recipe is to show how to make bread with natural leaven, not to show how to create a starter-culture. However, if you are intrigued by this topic and you want to know more, here I have some key words for you, that you can search in internet:

Natural leaven
Bread starter culture
Sourdough starter
Sourdough bread

If that is not enough and you are really desperate for extra advice, then you can contact me (Federico) directly through the “contact us” form you can find in the Italyum website; I will be more than happy to answer your questions.

In Italy, the natural leaven is called “lievito naturale” or “lievito madre” (the mother) and it is regularly used by the Italian artisan bakeries to make large regional breads like toscano and pugliese for example. Lievito naturale has a stiff consistency; this is particular to Italy as generally the majority of starters are of loose consistency, like a batter (or similar to a poolish consistency, for those who are familiar with bread making terminology).

I have created this recipe because during the daily routine of refreshing/feeding the lievito naturale, you only take a small part of it (from the previous day feed) and mix it with fresh flour and water. The remaining lievito naturale is usually wasted in the bin, because otherwise you would end up with several kilos of lievito naturale, which is unpractical unless you want to make bread on an industrial scale. I was fed up with all this wastage, so I have found a way to utilise the remaining lievito naturale to make this simple bread, which is made with only two ingredients (water and flour), because the leaven is already made with only water and flour.

Now, coming back to the pane toscano, what you need to know is that in Tuscany they do not use salt when making bread. It’s weird, I know, but once you get use to it, you will love it! Apparently the choice of not using salt is because their food is already rich in salt; think about the salty cured meat they have in that region or the salty Pecorino cheese or the Caciucco fish stew and the no-salt stand will make sense!

Let’s see how to make it...........

 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 450 g (1 lb) Canadian strong white bread flour (12.6 % protein content) bp 90%
  • 50 g (2 oz) Spelt flour bp 10%
  • 100 g (4 oz) Natural leaven (through the recipe I will call it lievito naturale) bp 20%
  • 350 g (1/2 pint + 3 fl oz) Water (cold) bp 70%

Note: if you cannot find the Canadian strong white flour specified above, look for any strong white bread flour with protein content  between 12.5% and 14%. If the protein content of your flour is closer to 14% than to 12.5%, then I suggest you use 15 g (1tbs) of extra water.

Before you start, be sure you also have a baking stone, a bread proving basket (1 Kg capacity) and a bread/pizza peel for domestic ovens. The bread proving basket will need a handful of rye/wholewheat flour and the bread/pizza peel will need a handful of coarse semolina (read the recipe directions and you will see why).

 

Directions: 

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First, we lift/remove the top crust that has formed on the outer side of the lievito naturale. The crust is made by dry matter and could contain impurities, so it is not of any use. What we need is the core of the lievito naturale.

 

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With a small knife, we cut out some of the lievito naturale; for this recipe we need just 100 g (4 oz) of it.

 

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Break the 100 g of lievito naturale is small bits.

 

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Add the two types of flour into the bowl of your mixer (I have used a Kenwood mixer). Then, add the lievito naturale bits to the flour.

 

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Add all the water.

 

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Mix for 2 minutes at first speed and 6 minutes at second speed.

 

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Here is the dough once the mixing has been completed.

 

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Put the dough onto a lightly floured working surface.

 

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Make a ball out of your dough.

 

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Put the ball into a large bowl (preferably a glass bowl; don’t use metal) and leave for 12 hours at about 10°C (50°F). The reason of this low temperature is because we need to slow down the fermentation. I left my bowl in the conservatory, over night, because I live in Scoltland and at this time of the year (April 2012) it is still cold outside. If you live in a hot country or you are making this bread in summer time, then I suggest you put the bowl in the fridge. I usually put the bowl in the conservatory at 9 PM and take it, to proceed with the recipe, at 9AM the day after.

 

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Here is the dough at 9AM, the day after. As you can see, the dough has not raised too much because we have slowed the fermentation down during the night. If you have left the dough outside the fridge during the 12 hours slow fermentation stage, then go straight to the next step. If  your dough has been kept in the fridge, then leave it for a couple of hours at room temperature before to proceed with the next step.

 

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This proving basket is called “cane banneton”.  Spread and pat some flour (use rye or wholewheat flour for this job) all over its wall and bottom, so that the flour fills the gaps between the canes. Be generous with the flour otherwise the dough will stick to the basket, compromising the final result.

 

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After 12 hours slow fermentation, put the dough onto a lightly floured  working surface.

 

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Form an oval loaf. There’s a specific technique to do this and I suggest you check YouTube, searching for “shaping a batard”. The picture shows my loaf will the smooth side up.

 

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Now, I have turned the loaf upside down, with the seam (let’s call it the ugly side) facing upwards.

 

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Lift your loaf and put it inside the proving basket, with the ugly side up. Cover the basket with a plastic bag and be sure that the plastic bag is not touching the dough. Leave to dough to rise for 4-5 hours at room temperature. If your lievito naturale is vigorous, then the dough should nearly double in size.

 

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One hour before the baking, place the baking stone inside the oven and switch the oven on. Set the oven to 230°C (450°F). About 10 minutes before putting the bread into the oven, we need to create some steam inside the oven. I personally spray the water (4 or 5 times) against the oven wall, but if you are concerned about this method because you may damage your oven fan or electrics in general, here is another method: at the very start, when you switch the oven on, leave a small metal tray in the bottom of the oven. About 10 minutes before putting the bread into the oven, throw 2 or 3 ice cubes over the little tray and close the oven door quickly.

 

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The picture shows my loaf after 4 hours raising at room temperature.

 

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Spread some semolina or polenta flour onto the peel and carefully turn the proving basket over the peel. Your loaf should fall out of the basket and over the peel, with the nice side up.

 

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With a grignette or a razor-blade (don’t use an ordinary kitchen knife) slash the loaf as shown in the picture. Three longitudinal slashes, with a steady hand, will do the job.

 

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Place the loaf into the oven. At this stage I usually spray the oven walls with another 3 or 4 sprays and quickly close the oven door. If you are using the metal tray method, to generate steam, then add a couple of ice cubes. Bake your loaf for 40-45 minutes.

 

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This is the bread ready, after 45 minutes (I like my bread well fired!).

 

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Leave the bread to cool down over a wire rack for at least a couple of hours.

 

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Then, you can cut your loaf and do whatever you want with it.

 

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Here is a final picture of my Tuscan style sourdough bread.

 

Enjoy!

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Tue, 29 Jan 2013 16:20:15 GMT http://www.italyum.com/bakery/208-sourdough-bread-pane-toscano-a-lievitazione-naturale.html
Penne pasta with salmon and vodka (Pennette al salmone affumicato e vodka) http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/206-penne-pasta-with-salmon-and-vodka-pennette-al-salmone-affumicato-e-vodka.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto Cover

 

Preparation: 5 mins

Cooking: 10-15 mins
Difficulty: Easy

It translates as pennette pasta with smoked salmon and vodka. It’s and old Italian classic, very popular as a quick fix when you have friends around unexpectedly and you want to feed them. It’s a very simple dish, packed with flavour (if you like smoked salmon of course) and very easy to make. There are a few versions of the recipe; some people like to add some halved cherry tomatoes into the sauce, at the very end, and others like to garnish the dish with different herbs. I personally like the minimalist version of the recipe, without tomatoes, and the only herb I use is parsley. A little word of advice; this is a dish to be served quickly, when it is still piping hot, because the sauce has the tendency to dry quickly because of the cream.


SERVES 4 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements)

  • 400 g (14 oz) Smooth pennette pasta (smooth quill pasta)
  • 40 g (1 1/2 oz) Butter
  • Half onion (pureed)
  • 1 tbs Tomato purée
  • 120 g (4 oz) Smoked salmon trimmings
  • 100 ml (4 fl oz) Vodka
  • 250 ml (1/2 pint) Single cream
  • A bunch of flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements)

  • 14 ounces Smooth pennette pasta (smooth quill pasta)
  • 1 1/2 ounces Butter
  • Half onion (pureed)
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato purée
  • 4 ounces Smoked salmon trimmings
  • 7 tablespoons (just a bit more than 3/8 cup) Vodka
  • 17 tablespoons (just a bit more than 1 cup) Single cream
  • A bunch of flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

 

Note: I deliberately don’t list the salt among the ingredients because the smoked salmon is already salty and the pasta is boiled in salty water.

 

Directions:

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Roughly chop the onion and put it in the food processor.

 

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Process the onion, to make it like a purée.

 

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Finely chop the parsley.

 

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In a sauce pan, melt all the butter and then add the pureed onion.

 

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Sweat the onion off for a few minutes on gentle heat (3-4 minutes will be enough).

 

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Add the tomato purée.

 

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Stir for a few seconds to evenly mix the tomato purée with the onion.

 

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Add the salmon trimming to the pan and raise the heat from gentle to medium.

 

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Break the salmon trimmings down with the wooden spoon and cook the salmon for a couple of minutes (keep stirring).

 

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Add the vodka to the pan.

 

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Give it a quick stir. Now you have two options. You can either keep stirring until the vodka vapours have vanished (2-3 minutes) or  you can flambé.

 

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If you chose to flambé, this is at your own peril! If it is the first time, check the internet first, watch some videos in youtube and be cautious. I ignited the alcohol with a chef torch and the flames suddenly appeared all over the pan. When the flames die down, continue with the recipe directions.

 

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Reverse to low heat and add some ground pepper if you like.

 

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Then, add the all the cream.

 

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Simmer for a few minutes to reduce the sauce. This stage will take roughly 10 minutes, giving you the time to boil the pasta.  If the pasta is not ready and you notice that the sauce is reducing/drying too much, you can add half a ladle of the water you are using to boil the pasta, to loosen the sauce a bit, and continue simmering until the pasta is ready.

Alternatively, you can remove the sauce from the heat and cover with a lid. When the pasta is ready, loosen the sauce with half a ladle of the water you used to boil the pasta and then coat the pasta with the sauce.

 

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Here, I am throwing the pennette pasta into the boiling water. Remember to cook the pasta al dente (firm to the bite).

 

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The pasta is ready, the sauce is reduced to the right consistency.

 

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Quickly add half of the parsley to the sauce.

 

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Stir for few seconds.

 

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Finally, quickly drain the pasta (leaving the pasta slightly wet) and add the drained pasta into the sauce pan. Stir to make sure that all the pasta is coated with the sauce. When serving the pasta, you can garnish with a bit of extra parsley.

 

Buon appetito!


  

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Sun, 27 Jan 2013 13:06:18 GMT http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/206-penne-pasta-with-salmon-and-vodka-pennette-al-salmone-affumicato-e-vodka.html
Italian pizza with biga fresh dough - pizza margherita my way http://www.italyum.com/pizza-recipes/205-pizza-with-biga-pizza-margherita-my-way.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Biga

 

Dough preparation and rising: 5 hours
Making one pizza base and topping it: 5 mins

Cooking: 8-10 mins

Difficulty: Advanced

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Veggie 

If you have ever wondered how to make a home made pizza as close to the ones baked by professionals as possible (the serious ones use brick ovens), here is a good recipe to try. It’s my way to make pizza margherita; the most acclaimed pizza in the world and a favourite with the family.

As it says in the title, this is a pizza made by using a biga. Biga is the Italian way to make a pre-ferment and, in Italy, bakers use it every day to make bread like ciabatta, pugliese, rosetta soffiata and other varieties.

The big advantage of using biga is that it adds flavour and texture to the bread. Biga is prepared by mixing flour with a certain amount of water and yeast (you never add salt to the biga). Once the biga has fermented for a certain amount of time, we add the biga to the rest of the ingredients listed in the recipe and complete the preparation of the dough. To keep it simple, think about the biga method as a dough prepared in two stages, as opposed to a dough prepared in one stage (straight method).

The standard biga of an Italian baker is made with the following percentages:

100% flour
44% water
1% fresh yeast (fresh compressed yeast)

This is to say that if you want to make a biga with 100 g of flour, then you need to use 44 g of water and 1 g of yeast.   

However, the 100%/44%/1% formula can be varied within certain limits, by increasing the amount of water to a maximum of 60% and by decreasing the amount of yeast to a minimum of 0.1%. Choosing which is which depends on the ambient temperature, the type of flour and the time you will allow the biga to ferment (usually between 12 and 16 hours, but it is not unusual, in Italy, to use biga of 24 or even 48 hours).

In this pizza recipe, I will show you how to prepare a biga and then how to prepare the final pizza dough. Pizza made by using the pre-ferment method (biga) has definitively more flavour and complexity than the pizza prepared with the straight dough method (one step method), where all the ingredients are mixed together at the start.

In the list of dough ingredients you will see that I am using the baker’s percentage beside the ingredients, all measured by weight. It means that the flour is always considered 100% and the other ingredients are a percentage of the flour weight.  This way you can scale a recipe up and down to suit the number of guests; you can use 1Kg, 10kg, 100kg of flour and the other ingredients are added as a percent of the flour amount you are going to use.  

 

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Overall ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 350 g Italian “00” or “0” type flour for pizza (alternatively use plain flour) bp 70%
  • 150 g Strong white flour bp 30%
  • 6 g Fresh yeast (fresh compressed yeast) bp 1.2%
  • 10 g (1 tablespoon) Fine sea salt bp 2%
  • 5 g (1 tablespoon) Diastatic malt powder bp 1% - optional
  • 20 g (2 level tablespoons) Extra virgin olive oil bp 4%
  • 300 g  (1/2 pint + 1 fl oz) Water bp 60%

I have listed the overall ingredients to clearly show you the baker’s percentage discussed earlier. However, you don’t need to gather all these ingredients at once because as a first step you will be making the biga (probably the night before).

To make the biga you need to take the following ingredients from the overall ingredients list (prepare the biga the night before):

  • 150 g Strong white flour
  • 1 g Fresh yeast
  • 75 g Water (cold)
    Total weight = 226 g

 

Once the biga has fermented (12-16 hours), then you prepare the final pizza dough by adding the biga to the remaining ingredients from the overall list:

 

Final pizza dough (Metric & Imperial measurements)

  • 350 g Italian “00” or “0” type flour for pizza (alternatively use plain flour)
  • 226 g Biga
  • 5 g Fresh yeast (fresh compressed yeast)
  • 10 g Fine sea salt
  • 5 g (1 tablespoon) Diastatic malt powder - optional
  • 20 g Extra virgin olive oil
  • 225 g Tepid water
    Total weight = 841 g : 5 = 168.2 g (with 841 g of final pizza dough you can make 5 pizza bases, roughly 160 g each).

 

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For this recipe, a pizza peel and a baking stone are required.

Note 1: the easiest way to make tepid water is to mix two parts cold water with one part boiling water. However, when preparing the tepid water, be aware that above 46ºC (115ºF) the yeast will start suffering because of the excessive heat and ultimately it will die if the water temperature reaches 63ºC (145ºF).

Note 2: the exact equivalent, in volume, of 300 g of water is 300 ml. This does not apply with other liquids or liquid fats (i.e. olive oil).

Note 3: with 500 g of flour you should be able to make 5 large pizza bases of about 30 cm (12") diameter.

 

Directions:

Preparation of the biga (time 10 PM):

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Take 150 g of strong white flour, 1 g of fresh yeast and 75 g of cold water.

 

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Dissolve the yeast in the cold water, stirring for a few seconds with a little spoon.

 

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Add the water with the yeast to the flour.

 

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Stir using a wooden spoon. The mix will be fairly dry so press down and stir applying a bit of pressure. Do so until you see that the ingredients start coming together.

 

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The mix will still be too dry, so you need to do some kneading with your hands to complete the  little biga dough. Put the mix onto a work surface.

 

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Knead, intensively, by hand for 10 minutes. When the biga has been kneaded for at least 10 minutes, you should have a smooth, silky and elastic biga dough.

 

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Put the biga dough into a small glass bowl and seal the top with cling film.

 

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Leave the biga to ferment, at a room temperature of about 20°C (68ºF) for 12-16 hours.

 

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This is my biga, the day after at midday, after being fermenting for 14 hours.

 

Preparation of the final pizza dough:

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Collect all the ingredients listed in the final pizza dough ingredient list.

 

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Dissolve 5 g of yeast in 225 g of tepid water, stirring for a few seconds with a little spoon.

 

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To prepare the final pizza dough, this time we will use a mixer (the mixer featured in the picture is a Kenwood Chef, but any equivalent mixer will do the job). Put 350 g of pizza flour into the mixer bowl and add 10 g of salt.

 

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Add the diastatic malt powder.

 

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Add the water with the yeast.

 

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Add the olive oil.

 

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Mix at low speed (No 1 setting in my Kenwood) for a minute or two so that all the ingredients come together.

 

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Then, set the speed to the next setting (No 2 setting in my Kenwood) and start adding the biga in little chunks. Let the mixer do its job for about 8 minutes.

 

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This is my pizza dough after about 10 minutes mixing. The dough is still a bit soft but don’t worry.

 

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Dust the work surface with flour and transfer the pizza dough onto the work surface.

 

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Now, we need to shape the dough into a ball. To do so, lift and fold the outer edges of the dough towards the centre, while rotating the dough at the same time and tucking the edges into the centre of the ball. Anything between six and eight folds should be enough.

 

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When finished, turn the dough over and with both hands rotate the dough while applying gentle pressure to the bottom (as if tucking the dough underneath).

 

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If the above instruction has been carried out correctly, you should end up with a ball like this one.

 

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Grease the inside of a large bowl with a thin coat of olive oil.

 

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Put the dough ball inside the bowl and cover the bowl. Leave the dough to rise for 3 hours (this is called bulk fermentation).

 

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This is the pizza dough after 3 hours bulk fermentation.

 

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Dust the work surface with flour and return the pizza dough onto the work surface.

 

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Next, divide the dough in five segments of equal weight (160 g each).

 

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Make a ball out of each segment. To do so, roughly pre-shape the segment into a ball, then cup your hands over the ball. Press down and move your hand in a circular motion, while keeping the hand cupped. This action will compact the ball into a tight round shape.

 

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Spread some flour over the working surface and lay your dough balls onto it. Dust the top of the balls with a little more flour.

 

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Cover the dough balls with a dry cloth and leave them to rest for 1 ½ hour. This time is called final fermentation.

 

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Meanwhile, prepare the tomato sauce. Add a dash of olive oil into a saucepan and pour a can of peeled plum tomatoes into the pan.

 

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Break down the tomato to avoid having big chunks (the most effective way is to use a potato masher). Add a pinch of salt and simmer for about 15-20 minutes. This will eliminate some of the water in the tomato sauce and increase its flavour.

 

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When the sauce has reduced to the right consistency, pour it into a small bowl and let it cool down. This is the sauce you will use later to top the pizza bases. At the same time, make sure you have basil leaves and some buffalo mozzarella balls (roughly 3 basil leaves and one mozzarella ball for each pizza base). 

Put the pizza stone into the oven and pre-heat the oven at least 1 hour before baking the pizza. This to ensure that the baking stone is at the right temperature. In my case, I have set my electric fan assisted oven to 230°C (450°F).

 

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These are the pizza balls after 1 ½ hours final fermentation. It’s 5 PM and now we ready to make the pizza.

 

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Lightly flour the working surface and take the first dough ball. Using a rolling pin, make the pizza base and dust the side that will be in contact with the pizza peel with a generous amount of flour.  The pizza base should be very thin; I would say 2 or 2 millimetres (1/16" or 1/8") thick.

 

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Sprinkle some polenta or coarse semolina flour onto the pizza peel (this will make the pizza base slipping onto the pizza stone easier). Move the pizza base onto the peel and quickly spread the tomato sauce.

 

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We will bake the pizza in two stages. Quickly open the oven, let the pizza slip onto the hot stone and bake for 5 minutes (this is stage 1).

 

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After 5 minutes, take the pizza out of the oven.

 

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Quickly, top the pizza by scattering the  mozzarella around. Add three or four basil leaves and, finally, complete with a dash of extra virgin olive oil.

 

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Put the pizza back in the oven, onto the hot stone, and carry on baking for about 4 minutes (this is stage 2).

 

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This is the pizza margherita after 5 + 4 minutes baking. For a proper made margherita pizza, the mozzarella should not be burnt. Before serving you can drizzle the pizza top with a little olive oil if you like.

If you have followed the directions to the letter you should end up with a very crispy and flavourful pizza.

 

Buon appetito!

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Fri, 07 Nov 2014 07:19:45 GMT http://www.italyum.com/pizza-recipes/205-pizza-with-biga-pizza-margherita-my-way.html
Pasta with anchovies (Pasta c'anciova e muddica) http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/204-pasta-with-anchovies-pasta-canciova-e-muddica.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto Cover


Preparation: 15 mins

Cooking: 10 mins
Difficulty: Easy

“Pasta c’anciova e muddica” is the Sicilian name of this popular recipe; it literally means pasta with anchovy and breadcrumbs. The recipe is very old and probably has been around since the invention of pasta. It is an example of “cucina povera” (the peasant cooking or the cooking of the poor people). Anchovy has always been part of the Sicilian diet; the island is located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and people have been catching and preserving anchovy for centuries. Breadcrumbs, from stale bread, were used instead of grated cheese because only the rich could afford to use cheese (pecorino or ricotta, because, in the past, that was the type of cheese you could find in Sicily). There are different versions of this recipe, but in general terms, people from the west of the island (i.e. Palermo) like to add tomato to their sauce, while people from the east (i.e. Catania) do not use tomato.

The Spanish introduced the tomato in Europe around the 16th century and, initially, it was used only as ornamental plant. Then, in the 17th century, tomato started to appear in various recipes. It is likely that “Pasta c’anciova e muddica” dates back before the introduction of the tomato to the island, hence the oldest recipe is the east version. Here, I am presenting the east version of the recipe and I hope you will all enjoy it; it is a great dish if you love anchovy.

 

SERVES 4 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements)

  • 400 g (14 oz) Long pasta (i.e. trenette, linguine, bucatini, spaghetti)
  • 100 ml (4 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 30 g (1 oz) Anchovy fillets - see note 1 below
  • 1 Chilli (medium hot)
  • 125 g (4 1/2 oz) Breadcrumbs - see note 2 below
  • A handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements)

  • 14 ounces Long pasta (i.e. trenette, linguine, bucatini, spaghetti)
  • 7 tablespoons (just a bit more than 3/8 cups) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 ounce Anchovy fillets - see note 1 below
  • 1 Chilli (medium hot)
  • 4 1/2 ounces Breadcrumbs - see note 2 below
  • A handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)

 

Note 1: anchovy fillets are normally available in any supermarkets and most of the time are preserved in olive oil or salt. The first time you make this dish, add the anchovies straight from the jar/can. If you find the finished dish a bit too salty for your taste, next time you can rinse the anchovies in water and pat dry with kitchen paper. This is also the reason why, in the ingredient list, I have not mentioned “salt for seasoning” - you shouldn’t need it remembering that the pasta will be salty too.

Note 2: for the breadcrumbs use stale bread, ideally from some rustic country bread (do not use breadcrumbs from the packet).

 

Directions:

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Slice the bread.

 

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Remove the crust.

 

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Using a cook knife, chop the bread to make breadcrumbs. The aim is to obtain roughly chopped breadcrumbs, of uneven size and shape. This will give the dish its final rustic appeal! (do not use the food processor).

 

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After 5 minutes chopping, your breadcrumbs should be, more or less, like this.

The preparation of the anchovy sauce is very quick so I suggest you fill, just now, a large pan with approximately 4 litres (1 gallon + 5/8 cup) of water and add salt (10 g for each litre of water - 1/3 ounce for every 4 1/8 cups of water). While you are bringing the water to the boil, do as follows.

 

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Cut the anchovy fillets in small pieces, crush the garlic with the large blade of a knife, roughly chop the parsley and cut the chilli into rings (discarding the seeds).

 

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To prepare the sauce, take a large sauce pan and gently infuse the oil with the garlic (crushed), on low heat, until the garlic become golden in colour. Tilting the pan will allow you to better infuse the oil and it is less likely that the garlic become burned.

 

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When the garlic is golden in colour, remove it from the pan and discard the garlic.

 

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Meanwhile the water to boil the pasta should be ready (fast boiling). Quickly throw the pasta into the pan and carry on with the anchovy sauce. From here, check your time because you will have roughly 10 minutes to complete the sauce.

 

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Add the anchovy into the sauce pan.

 

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Stir to help in dissolving the anchovy. The low heat will give you time to break down the anchovy without the risk of burning it. This process should take less than two minutes.

 

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When the anchovy is dissolved, add the chilli.

 

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Stir and sweat the chilli for a minute or two (still on low heat).

 

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Add the parsley.

 

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Stir for few seconds and reserve the sauce into a glass bowl.

 

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Set the bowl aside, just for few minutes.

 

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We are left with the sauce pan empty. Bring the pan to medium/medium-high heat.

 

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Add the breadcrumbs into the sauce pan.

 

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Toast the breadcrumbs until slightly brown. The process should take about two or three minutes. When the breadcrumbs are toasted, remove the pan from the heat.

 

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Meanwhile, the pasta should be ready (cooked al dente). Drain the pasta and return it back into the large pan you used to boil it.

 

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Add the sauce, you have previously set aside, to the pasta.

 

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Add the breadcrumbs to the pasta and give the pasta a big stir. However, keep some breadcrumbs (a scant tablespoon for each plate) for the final garnish.

 

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Here is the final dish.

 

Buon appetito!

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Sun, 27 Jan 2013 13:05:51 GMT http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/204-pasta-with-anchovies-pasta-canciova-e-muddica.html
Bruschetta with tomatoes (Bruschetta al pomodoro) http://www.italyum.com/vegetable-recipes/203-bruschetta-with-tomatoes-bruschetta-al-pomodoro.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto Cover

 

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 5 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Bruschetta is yummy, colourful, fast to make and healthy; Italian fast food at its best! When I am very busy and have to feed the family during lunch time, bruschetta is the ace up my sleeve; it always works, especially with the kids. It’s ancient parent is the “fettunta” (you can read about fettunta in the SPECIALS section of this website) and you can have endless variations of bruschetta, depending on what you have in the fridge. You can make bruschetta simply using tomatoes, as I am showing here, or use a combination of different toppings like Parma ham, bresaola, sausage, smoked salmon, tuna, anchovies, mozzarella, ricotta, artichokes hearts, chicken liver (obviously cooked), olives, capers, mushrooms, pesto sauce, olive paste, chilli, walnuts and many other ingredients....

On the negative side, bruschetta is one of the most mispronounced words when it comes to Italian food (the main culprits? celebrity chefs and TV food program presenters, of course). It is not “brushetta”, with the “sh” like in the word sh**, but instead it is “brusketta”, with the “sk”, more like the word sketch. There’s only one way to pronounce it (there are not regional variations as suggested by someone on the internet) and there’s no excuses for not saying it correctly; if you can say “breadbasket”, than you should be able to say bruschetta like in the following audio link )

Download

    
When making bruschetta, I use the best extra virgin olive oil I can get; no matter how much it costs. I keep two types of olive oil in the house, the cheap unglorified one for cooking and the finest and more expensive for  bruschettas or a fancy salad. For the bread, use “pane casereccio Toscano” or “pane Pugliese”, but any sourdough loaf or pain de campagne will do the job as long it has been made by a skilled artisan baker or by yourself, if you are into serious bread making.

 

 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Bread loaf (I used a sourdough round loaf)
  • Plum tomatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil (use a top quality one)
  • A head of garlic (push the boat out and buy organic)
  • Basil leaves
  • Salt for seasoning

 

Note: the ingredients above are what you need in general terms. I didn’t specify what quantity of this or what quantity of that because some of you may like to eat just one bruschetta, while someone else would go for two or three slices and still be hungry. Furthermore, I have not put “ground pepper” in the list because a good olive oil should have a peppery taste and if it slightly burns your throat; that’s a good thing, it means that your oil is very good! However, if you feel that you want to add some ground pepper; just do it, it is not a crime!

 

Directions:

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Wash and dry the tomatoes. Cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and juice (using a melon baller will make the job neat and easy). Scoop the tomatoes over a small bowl so that all the seeds and juice fall into it.

 

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Cut each tomato half into narrow strips and then dice the strips.

 

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Take a large bowl, cut a clove of garlic in half and rub the cut side all over the inside of the bowl.

 

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Put the diced tomato into the large bowl.

 

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Sieve the contents of the small bowl into the large bowl. The aim is to extract some clear tomato juice, just one tablespoon, no more than that.

 

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You can help by pressing down with a wooden spoon.

 

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Add 5 or 6 basil leaves into the large bowl.

 

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Add a splash of olive oil.

 

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Season with salt according to taste.

 

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Stir so that all the ingredients and flavours mix together. The bruschetta topping is ready; set it aside and prepare the bread now.

 

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Slice the bread.

 

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Grill the slices on both sides (you can also use a normal grill).

 

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Take a clove of garlic and rub it against the crusty surface of the slices. If the slices have been properly grilled, the garlic will wear down in seconds, like you were rubbing it against sand paper.

 

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Add some olive oil over the slices.

 

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We have already seasoned the diced tomato topping with salt, but if you like a bit of extra salt, here is the time do it, otherwise skip to the next picture.

 

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Top the bruschetta with the flavoured diced tomato.

 

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Here is the bruschetta al pomodoro.

 

Enjoy! 

      

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Wed, 13 Feb 2013 10:20:09 GMT http://www.italyum.com/vegetable-recipes/203-bruschetta-with-tomatoes-bruschetta-al-pomodoro.html
Brilliant bruschetta (Fettunta) http://www.italyum.com/specials/202-brilliant-bruschetta-fettunta.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto Cover

 

Preparation: 2 minutes
Cooking: 5 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Veggie Vegetarian

“Fettunta” is the local term, mainly used in central Italy (Tuscany), for “la fetta unta”, which translates into “the oily slice”. It’s bread and olive oil, but please don’t underestimate its simple appearance and frugality of ingredients; here we are talking about the “mother” of all the bruschettas. This simple snack epitomises centuries of tradition, in producing excellent olive oil (the Mediterranean’s gold), the oil being consumed on a daily basis, accompanied by wonderful wood fired bread. It is the celebration of the hard work people put into producing their olive oil and there is nothing better than fettunta, eaten under a pergola, during a summer’s day, washed down with a good glass of chilled white wine! I eat fettunta for lunch, accompanied by a salad, or give it to the kids as a mid afternoon snack; they love it.

When making fettunta I use the best extra virgin olive oil I can get; no matter how much it costs. I keep two types of olive oil in the house, the cheap unglorified one for cooking and the finest and more expensive for fettunta, bruschettas or a fancy salad. For the bread, use “pane casereccio Toscano” or “pane Pugliese”, but any sourdough loaf or pain de campagne will do the job as long it has been made by a skilled artisan baker or by yourself, if you are into serious bread making.      

 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Bread loaf (I used a sourdough round loaf)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (use a top quality one)
  • A head of garlic (push the boat out and buy organic)
  • Salt for seasoning

 

Note: the ingredients above are what you need in general terms. I didn’t specify what quantity of this or what quantity of that because some of you may like to eat just one fettunta slice, while someone else would go for two or three slices and still be hungry. Furthermore, I have not put “ground pepper” in the list because a good olive oil should have a peppery taste and if it slightly burns your throat; that’s a good thing, it means that your oil is very good! However, if you feel that you want to add some ground pepper; just do it, it is not a crime!

 

Directions:

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Slice the bread.

 

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Grill the slices on both sides (you can also use a normal grill).

 

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Take a clove of garlic and rub it against the crusty surface of the slices. If the slices have been properly grilled, the garlic will wear down in seconds, like you were rubbing it against sand paper.

 

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Add a generous amount of olive oil over the slices.

 

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Season with salt.

 

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Here is the fettunta and certainly you in for a treat.

 

Enjoy! 

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Mon, 18 Feb 2013 14:13:21 GMT http://www.italyum.com/specials/202-brilliant-bruschetta-fettunta.html
Panettone dessert (Fette di panettone con zabaglione caldo) http://www.italyum.com/dessert-recipes/201-panettone-dessert-fette-di-panettone-con-zabaglione-caldo.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto Cover

 


Preparation: 5 mins
Cooking: 10 mins    
Difficulty: Easy

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Between December and January, especially in Italy, every house has more than one panettone, or pandoro (for those who don’t like sultanas and candied citrus), to devour. I live in the UK and most of the supermarkets sell excellent panettone from Italy, so also this year I have managed to buy a few boxes for my family and friends.

There are many ways to eat a panettone; I personally like to have panettone for breakfast, dipping it in a cup of milk and coffee, however here I am going to describe another way (good for left overs), by topping some panettone slices with “zabaglione caldo al marsala” (a warm sabayon prepared with marsala wine). It’s a very simple recipe, with only 4 ingredients, but the final result will be a scrumptious  dessert, the perfect “pick-me-up”, to enjoy anytime you feel the need for a special treat!

 

SERVES 4

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • Panettone slices (usually one slice per person)
  • 4 Egg yolks (preferably from free-range organic eggs)
  • 100 g (4 oz) Caster sugar
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz) Marsala wine

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements):

  • Panettone slices (usually one slice per person)
  • 4 Egg yolks (preferably from free-range organic eggs)
  • 3 1/2 ounces Confectioners' sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) Marsala wine

 

Note: with the ingredients above you can make enough zabaglione to cover 4 slices of panettone. For this recipe description, I have used only a couple of slices for mere convenience.

 

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Before you start, be sure you have large metal bowl and a pan in which you will fit the bowl on to its top, for the bain marie. You also need a whisk and a digital thermometer. If you don’t have the thermometer, fine; just pay attention not to overcook the zabaglione because egg yolk starts to coagulate above 65°C (150°F).   

 

Directions:

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Half fill the pan with warm water. Don’t use boiling water otherwise the temperature of the egg mixture will rise too quickly.

 

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Place the metal bowl onto the pan, making sure that the bowl does not touch the water inside the pan.

 

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Apply gentle heat.

 

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Add the marsala wine into the bowl.

 

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Add the egg yolks into the bowl.

 

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Start to combine the egg yolks with the marsala wine by using the whisk (30 seconds will be enough).

 

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Gradually, add all the sugar into the bowl and at the same time start whisking. Whisk for few minutes, until the zabaglione becomes thicker, lighter in colour, resembling a pale yellow foam.

 

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At the same time, keep an eye on the  zabaglione’s temperature. Temperature should build slowly and gradually, with no sharp rises, from the original ingredients’ room temperature to 60°C (140°F). The picture shows my zabaglione at 55°C (130°F), after about 5 minutes whisking; at that point, get ready to remove the bowl from the pan so that you do not go above 60°C (140°F).

 

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Once the zabaglione has reached the temperature of 60°C (140°F), turn the cooker off. Quickly, lift the metal bowl from the pan, add a couple of glasses of cold water to the hot water inside the pan and place the bowl back on the top of the pan. keep whisking for another minute or two, until you reach a light consistency.

 

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For this zabaglione we want a light consistency because a firm consistency will have more difficulty to penetrate the surface of the panettone slices.

 

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Now, spoon the warm zabaglione over the panettone slices and let it stand for a couple of minutes before serving it.

 

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Try this simple and rich pudding with a cup of coffee after lunch......

 

Buon appetito!

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Fri, 15 Feb 2013 10:05:46 GMT http://www.italyum.com/dessert-recipes/201-panettone-dessert-fette-di-panettone-con-zabaglione-caldo.html
Garlic, oil and chilli Spaghetti (Spaghetti aglio olio peperoncino) http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/200-garlc-oil-and-chili-spaghetti-spaghetti-aglio-olio-peperoncino.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto Cover


Preparation: 5 mins

Cooking: 10 mins
Difficulty: Easy

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Spaghetti aglio oglio peperoncino (garlic, oil and chilli) is one of the most famous Roman spaghetti dishes. It’s simplicity is surprising; just 3 ingredients, cooked for few minutes, and that’s it! This quick recipe can really be named “the home cook’s emergency dish”, because no matter what kind of day you’ve had (busy, tired, in a rush, you forgot your shopping etc.) you can still feed 5 people with a blink of an eye!
In my 20s, I remember having spaghetti aglio olio peperoncino with my friends, at midnight; a quick and delicious fix if you are up in the small hours.  

 

SERVES 4 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements)

  • 400 g (14 oz) Spaghetti
  • 100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Cloves of garlic (cut in slices or crashed) - see note 1 below
  • 1 Dried red chilli (alternatively use fresh chilli) - see note 2 below 
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley (chopped)
  • 40 g (1 1/2 oz) Salt (this is for the water to boil the spaghetti) - when you cook spaghetti use 10 g (1/3 ounce) salt for each litre of boiling water.

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements)

  • 14 ounces Spaghetti
  • 7 tablespoons (just a bit more than 3/8 cup) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Cloves of garlic (cut in slices or crashed) - see note 1 below
  • 1 Dried red chilli (alternatively use fresh chilli) - see note 2 below 
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 ounces Salt (this is for the water to boil the spaghetti) - when you cook spaghetti use 1/3 ounce salt for every 4 1/8 cups of boiling water.

 

Note 1: I prefer to cut the garlic cloves in slices; the more slices you have the more the garlic flavour will be released in the oil. Also, cutting the garlic in slices will help, when you dish the spaghetti, to give each guest his/her share of garlic. At the same time, slices can be easily removed after having flavoured the oil (some people like the garlic flavour but don’t want to physically eat it). Don’t chop the garlic because the tiny pieces can easily burn and become bitter; this would spoil the sauce.

 

Note 2: in Italy, dried chilli in the kitchen is a “must have” ingredient. We usually buy little dried red chilli pepper from south Italy, referred to by the name of “diavolicchi” (little devils). They are very hot and one of those small chilli peppers, can really put your mouth on fire! These are ideal for the preparation of sauces requiring hot chilli and once dried can be stored in a cool and dry place for more than a year. Alternatively, you can prepare the aglio olio peperoncino sauce using fresh red chilli. If the fresh chilli is very hot, you may need just one chilli pepper (use two chilli peppers if they are medium hot). 

 

Directions:

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To start, roughly chop the parsley, slice the garlic cloves and cut the chilli peppers into rounds (discarding the seeds).

 

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Fill a large pan with approximately 4 litres (1 gallon + 5/8 cup) of water. Bring the water to the boil, add the salt and then add the spaghetti.

 

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For this recipe, cook the spaghetti until they are almost “al dente” (firm to the bite). When the spaghetti have been cooking for 5 minutes, start making the aglio olio peperoncino sauce.

 

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To make the sauce, heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan. The heat should be gentle, to allow the oil to be infused without burning the garlic and chilli (burned garlic would spoil the sauce). Add the garlic and chilli to the pan.

 

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Gently infuse the oil for a couple of minutes or so, until the garlic become golden in colour. Tilting the pan will allow you to better infuse the oil and it is less likely that the garlic become burned.

 

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If your timing is correct, your spaghetti should, by now, be almost cooked al dente. Add half of the parsley into the hot sauce.

 

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Give the sauce a quick stir and quickly drain the spaghetti, retaining half a ladle of the boiling water you have used to cook the spaghetti.

 

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Add the drained spaghetti to the large saucepan containing the hot sauce.

 

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Add half a ladle of the water you have used to boil the spaghetti. This water will help to create an emulsion, which will coat the spaghetti.

 

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Toss the spaghetti, over fierce heat, for a minute or so.

 

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Now, if you like (but it is not strictly necessary), add the remaining parsley and toss the spaghetti again for few seconds.

 

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The spaghetti aglio olio peperoncino is ready to be served.

 

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Plate the spaghetti and enjoy this hot dish with a glass of chilled dry white wine from the Castelli romani wine producing area.

Many people in Italy, and in Rome too, like to eat this spaghetti dish topped with some freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Purists say it is an offence; personally I think adding a bit of Pecorino cheese is fine, as long as you don’t exaggerate, otherwise the cheese flavour will overpower the typical flavour of the aglio olio peperoncino sauce.

 

Buon appetito! 

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Sun, 27 Jan 2013 13:04:58 GMT http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/200-garlc-oil-and-chili-spaghetti-spaghetti-aglio-olio-peperoncino.html
Home made pizza using fresh yeast dough http://www.italyum.com/pizza-recipes/199-pizza-using-fresh-yeast.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Pizza

 

Dough preparation and rising: 3 ½ hours
Making one pizza base and topping it: 5 mins

Cooking: 7-10 mins

Difficulty: Medium

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Pizza 4 stagioni

 

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Pizza prosciutto di Parma e funghi

 

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Pizza formaggio e funghi

 

There are as many pizza styles as the number of Italians doing it, so I am not here saying that my style is the perfect one, but if you are going to make an homemade pizza for your family or friends, this is what you need to surprise them! Just remember that a good pizza should be very thin, crispy and easy to digest.

Dough preparation is an important stage of pizza making, as well as choosing the right flour. Topping the pizza is up to you and at the end of this section I will present you three traditional topping options, which are my favourites.

In the list of dough ingredients you will see that I am using the baker’s percentage beside the ingredients, all measured by weight. It means that the flour is always considered 100% and the other ingredients are a percentage of the flour weight.  This way you can scale a recipe up and down to suit the number of guests; you can use 1Kg, 10kg, 100kg of flour and the other ingredients are added as a percent of the flour amount you are going to use. 

 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 500 g (1.1 lb) Italian "00" or "0" type flour for pizza (alternatively use plain flour) bp 100%
  • 15 g Fresh yeast (fresh compressed yeast) bp 3%
  • 10 g (1 tablespoon) Fine sea salt bp 2%
  • 5 g (1 teaspoon) Malt extract bp 1% - optional
  • 20 g (2 level tablespoons) Extra virgin olive oil bp 4%
  • 300 g (½ pint + 1 fl oz) Tepid water bp 60%

 

Note 1: the easiest way to make tepid water is to mix two parts cold water with one part boiling water. However, when preparing the tepid water, be aware that above 46ºC (115ºF) the yeast will start suffering because of the excessive heat and ultimately it will die if the water temperature reaches 63ºC (145ºF).

Note 2: the exact equivalent, in volume, of 300 g of water is 300 ml. This does not apply with other liquids or liquid fats (i.e. olive oil).

Note 3: with 500 g (1.1 lb) of flour you should be able to make 5 large pizza bases of about 30 cm diameter.

Preparation of the pizza dough:

Before starting, I make sure that the room where I prepare the dough is warm. In the winter, I suggest a temperature of about 22ºC (73ºF) and in the summer time, where the temperature in the house could be higher, I would reduce the quantity of yeast.

 

Directions:

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Put the flour into a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, stir to evenly distribute the salt within the flour.

 

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Crumble the fresh yeast with your hand and add it into the bowl.

 

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Rub the fresh yeast through the flour, to further break it down (1 or 2 minutes will be sufficient). 

 

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Add the malt extract to the water and stir. It should dissolve in few seconds.

 

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Add the water and malt mix into the bowl.

 

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Add the olive oil into the bowl.

 

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Using your hand, start mixing in circular motion.

 

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Keep mixing until all the ingredients come together.

 

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After a couple of minutes mixing, you should have a dough at its early stage of development. Now, we knead the dough so that it can develop the gluten and become firmer.

 

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The pizza dough in this recipe has 60% hydration. This quantity of water should give you a firm dough, however not all the pizza flours have the same quantity of proteins, so if you end up using a pizza flour at its lowest protein content, during a very humid day, you may have to knead a soft dough instead of a firm dough. If that is the case, knead the dough using the stretch and fold method (watch this short video).

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If your dough is firm, then knead the dough using the push, roll and turn method (watch this short video).

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In my case, the dough was firm, so I opted for the second method. It is important that you do not add any extra flour. Keep kneading for at least 10 minutes and slowly you will see the dough coming together and becoming firmer and firmer.

 

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When the dough has been kneaded for at least 10 minutes, you should have a smooth, silky and elastic dough. Now, we need to shape the dough into a ball. To do so, lift and fold the outer edges of the dough towards the centre, while rotating the dough at the same time and tucking the edges into the centre of the ball (watch this short video).

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Anything between six and eight folds should be enough.

 

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When finished, turn the dough over and with both hands rotate the dough while applying gentle pressure to the bottom (as if tucking the dough underneath).

 

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If the above instruction has been carried out correctly, you should end up with a ball like this one.

 

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Grease the inside of a large bowl with a thin coat of olive oil.

 

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Roll the ball inside the bowl, lightly coating the surface of the ball with oil.

 

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Cover the bowl and leave the dough to rise for a couple of hours. This is called bulk fermentation.

 

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Before we do anything with our dough, we need to wait until it has raised properly. I have seen recipes around, saying “raise until it has double in volume”; this sometimes can happen in less than one hour; this time is not enough to develop the dough structure and flavour, so I advise to stick to 2 hours.

 

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This is the pizza dough after two hours bulk fermentation.

 

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Next, divide the dough in five segments of equal weight (150-160 g each).

 

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Make a ball out of each segment. To do so, roughly pre-shape the segment into a ball, then cup your hands over the ball. Press down and move your hand in a circular motion, while keeping the hand cupped. This action will compact the ball into a tight round shape (watch this short video).

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Spread some flour over the working surface and lay your dough balls onto it.

 

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Cover the dough balls with a dry cloth and leave them to rest for 1 hour. This time is called final fermentation.

 

Preparation of the pizza base:

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Once the final fermentation is completed, lightly flour the working surface and take the first dough ball. Using a rolling pin, start rolling so that you can make a large circle.

 

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The pizza base should match a 30 cm (12") diameter pizza tray.

 

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The pizza base should be very thin; I would say 2 or 3 millimetres (1/16" or 1/8") thick.

 

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Be sure that the bottom of the pizza base is appropriately floured before to drag it over the pizza tray. I like to make the base a bit larger than the tray, so that I can make a rim folding the outer edge towards the centre, but you can also decide to make a smaller circle and have a flat outer edge.

 

First stage of topping the pizza (the tomato sauce):
These first steps are usually the same for all the different styles of pizza.

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To prepare the tomato sauce, add a dash of olive oil into a saucepan and pour a can of peeled plum tomatoes into the pan.

 

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Break down the tomato to avoid having big chunks (the most effective way is to use a potato masher). Add a pinch of salt and simmer for about 15 minutes. This will eliminate some of the water in the tomato sauce and increase its flavour.

 

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When the sauce has reduced to the right consistency, pour it into a small bowl and use it to top the pizza base as directed below. At this stage, do not add any oregano, because not all pizzas require oregano.

 

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With a small spoon spread the tomato topping onto the pizza base. I normally put three or four spoons and I spread the tomato moving outwards in circles. Add other spoons if you need to, but do not make a pond; the tomato should just colour the base.

 

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This is the finished job. Remember to leave a white border of about 1 cm.

From now on, we start the differentiation according to the pizza topping we would like to have. I will be vague about the quantity of the ingredients because, as you will see, it is just up to you and your taste.

 

Pizza 4 stagioni (4 seasons pizza)

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Start grating some mozzarella. You can use mozzarella specifically suitable for pizza (available in any supermarket) or mozzarella balls packed in small plastic bags: these bags contain water so pat dry the mozzarella before grating it.

 

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Now, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Here we have some grated mozzarella (as above), some cooked ham (cut into pieces), some mushrooms (the best are the ones you can buy at the supermarket, preserved in sunflower oil), some small artichokes (preserved in sunflower oil) and finally some pitted black and green olives.

 

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Spread the pizza base with some mozzarella.

 

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Spread with some cooked ham.

 

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Spread with some mushrooms, artichokes and olives.

 

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Finally, complete with a dash of extra virgin olive oil.

Always pre-heat the oven, to ensure baking the pizza straightaway at the right temperature. The oven should be set at the maximum temperature (usually 240ºC - 465ºF). If the oven is at the right temperature and your pizza is thin, it should take about 7/10 minutes to cook. Fan assisted ovens may require a different cooking time. After 5 minutes cooking, checking the pizza frequently is a good idea. When the border starts to become golden brown, it is probably the right time to take the pizza out of the oven.

 

Pizza prosciutto di Parma e funghi (Pizza with Parma hum and mushrooms)

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Start grating some mozzarella. You can use mozzarella specifically suitable for pizza (available in any supermarket) or mozzarella balls packed in small plastic bags: these bags contain water so pat dry the mozzarella before grating it.

 

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Now, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Here we have some grated mozzarella (as above), some Parma ham slices and some mushrooms (the best are the ones you can buy at the supermarket, preserved in sunflower oil).

 

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Spread the pizza base with some mozzarella.

 

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Place some Parma hum slices onto the pizza base.

 

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Spread with some mushrooms.

 

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Finally, complete with a dash of extra virgin olive oil.

Always pre-heat the oven, to ensure baking the pizza straightaway at the right temperature. The oven should be set at the maximum temperature (usually 240ºC - 465ºF). If the oven is at the right temperature and your pizza is thin, it should take about 7/10 minutes to cook. Fan assisted ovens may require a different cooking time. After 5 minutes cooking, checking the pizza frequently is a good idea. When the border starts to become golden brown, it is probably the right time to take the pizza out of the oven.

 

Pizza formaggio e funghi ( Pizza cheese and mushrooms)

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 50

Start grating some mozzarella. You can use mozzarella specifically suitable for pizza (available in any supermarket) or mozzarella balls packed in small plastic bags: these bags contain water so pat dry the mozzarella before grating it.

 

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Now, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Here we have some grated mozzarella (as above), some Parmesan cheese shavings, some Swiss Emmenthal cheese cut into small pieces and finally some mushrooms (the best are the ones you can buy at the supermarket, preserved in sunflower oil).

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 52

Spread the pizza base with some mozzarella.

 

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Add the Parmesan cheese shavings.

 

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Add the Emmenthal cheese.

 

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Spread with some mushrooms.

 

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Finally, complete with a dash of extra virgin olive oil.

Always pre-heat the oven, to ensure baking the pizza straightaway at the right temperature. The oven should be set at the maximum temperature (usually 240ºC - 465ºF). If the oven is at the right temperature and your pizza is thin, it should take about 7/10 minutes to cook. Fan assisted ovens may require a different cooking time. After 5 minutes cooking, checking the pizza frequently is a good idea. When the border starts to become golden brown, it is probably the right time to take the pizza out of the oven.

Other pizzas

Read the section ”First stage of topping pizza” and prepare the pizza base accordingly.

From now on, you can decide among these other options:

Spread some fresh mozzarella (grated) and drizzle with olive oil. Before serving the pizza, top it with some fresh basil leaves. This pizza is called “Margherita”.

or

Spread some oregano, some anchovy fillets, some green and black olives, some capers and sprinkle with olive oil. This pizza is called “Siciliana”.

or

Spread some mozzarella, some Parmesan cheese shavings, some Gorgonzola cheese (or Stilton), some Emmenthal cheese (or Cheddar) and sprinkle with olive oil. This pizza is called “4 formaggi”.

or

Spread some oregano, some onion slices (finely sliced), some Pecorino cheese shavings and sprinkle with olive oil. Before serving the pizza, top it with some fresh basil leaves. This pizza is called “Pugliese”.

Do not forget that many Italians like to give a final touch, when the pizza is hot on the table, with some drops of “hot chilli oil” (check the “hot chilli oil” recipe, featured in the specials section of the website.

 

Buon appetito!

]]>
Tue, 08 Mar 2016 12:17:48 GMT http://www.italyum.com/pizza-recipes/199-pizza-using-fresh-yeast.html
Tomato Spaghetti (Spaghetti al pomodoro) http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/198-tomato-spaghetti-spaghetti-al-pomodoro.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto Cover


Preparation: 5 mins

Cooking: 10 mins (if the tomato sauce has been previously preapared)
Difficulty: Easy

A simple “spaghetti al pomodoro” is probably the No1 choice of any Italian. This is an incredibly delicious recipe, but you need to cook the spaghetti “al dente” and make the tomato sauce (sugo di pomodoro) from scratch, for the recipe to be perfect. The first stage is to prepare your own tomato sauce, and for this I have added the full tomato sauce recipe inside the spaghetti al pomodoro recipe directions. Then, you boil the spaghetti and once it is ready use the tomato sauce to top the spaghetti. Finally, bless this fantastic dish with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese and enjoy!

 

SERVES 4

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 400 g Spaghetti
  • 1 Kg (2.2 lb) Tomatoes (preferably organic)
  • 80 g (3 oz) Onion (finely chopped)
  • 80 ml (3 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil (plus an extra dash to complete the sauce at the end)
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tbs Tomato purée (optional)
  • Few basil leaves
  • Salt for seasoning

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements):

  • 14 ounces Spaghetti
  • 35 ounces (2 pounds 3 ounces) Tomatoes (preferably organic)
  • 3 oounces Onion (finely chopped)
  • 6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) Extra virgin olive oil (plus an extra dash to complete the sauce at the end)
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato purée (optional)
  • Few basil leaves
  • Salt for seasoning

 

Directions:

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Finely chop the onion. Next, gently rinse the basil leaves and delicately pat them dry. If you rub the leaves, instead of patting them dry, they will loose part of their aroma.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 3

Wash and dry the tomatoes. Next, using a paring knife, remove the eye from each tomato.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 4

Using a paring knife, score a cross on the bottom of each tomato.

 

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Take a large pan full of water, bring the water to the boil, plunge the tomatoes into the pan and blanch for 15-20 seconds, until you see some cracks on the tomato skin. I had 10 tomatoes, so I did this in two stages (don’t add all the tomatoes into the boiling water in one go; it will bring the temperature of the water down and make the blanching less effective).

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 6

Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes from the pan.

 

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Put the tomatoes into a colander.

 

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Peel the tomatoes.

 

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Quarter the tomatoes.

 

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Remove core and seeds from each tomato quarter. The pictures shows a small bowl on the left, where I have collected all the cores and seeds. These will not be of any use so you can discard them. Keep only the tomato petals. 

 

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Dice the tomato petals.

 

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Put the olive oil into a sauce pan. Heat the oil and then add the onion.

 

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Sweat the onion off over medium heat, until it colours (3-4 minutes will be sufficient).

 

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Next, add the diced tomato into the pan.

 

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Stir for few seconds.

 

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Cover the pan with a lid, bring the heat to low and let cook for 10 minutes.

 

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After 10 minutes remove the lid and add the sugar. At this stage you can also add the tomato purée, if you have chosen to use it. Give it a good stir and simmer on a very gentle heat for 30 minutes. Leave the pan uncovered because during this time the sauce has to be brought to the right consistency (a thin sauce will not coat the pasta properly!).

 

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10 minutes before the finish, taste the sauce and season with salt according to taste.

 

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2 minutes before the finish, add the basil leaves.

 

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Give the sauce a final sir.

 

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When the 30 minuets cooking time has elapsed, remove the pan from the heat. Finish the sauce by adding a dash of olive oil and set aside until the spaghetti are ready.

 

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Boil the spaghetti according to the instruction given on the packet. Spaghetti should be cooked “al dente” (firm to the bite).

 

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Once the spaghetti are ready, drain the spaghetti e toss them into the previously prepared tomato sauce (traditionally, Italians top their pasta with only enough sauce to coat the pasta). Finish the dish with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.

 

Buon appetito!

]]>
Tue, 05 Mar 2013 11:23:26 GMT http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/198-tomato-spaghetti-spaghetti-al-pomodoro.html
Tomato sauce (Sugo al pomodoro) http://www.italyum.com/vegetable-recipes/197-tomato-sauce.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo Cover

 

Preparation: 20 mins
Cooking: 45 minutes    
Difficulty: Easy
Suitable for freezing 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Veggie Vegetarian

Tomato sauce (sugo al pomodoro) is an Italian classic and there is nothing better than to prepare it yourself (the “equivalent” you buy at the supermarket is miles away from matching this home made sauce). The recipe is straightforward, the ingredients are extremely easy to find and it is also very cheap to make.

If you do not have time to prepare this sauce in the traditional way, a faster way is to buy a can of chopped tomatoes. Fortunately, there are a lot of canned tomato producers that supply organic chopped tomatoes, without any chemical additives or pesticides in them, so pick your favourite can and follow the directions in this recipe.

Use the tomato sauce to top pasta or potato gnocchi. This is also the base sauce for preparing “aubergines parmigiana” with the only variation being that for the “aubergine parmigiana” I prefer to use butter to sweat the onion off.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 1

Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 1 Kg (2.2 lb) Tomatoes (preferably organic)
  • 80 g (3 oz) Onion (finely chopped)
  • 80 ml (3 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil (plus an extra dash to complete the sauce at the end)
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tbs Tomato purée (optional)
  • Few basil leaves
  • Salt for seasoning

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements): 

  • 35 ounces (2 pounds 3 ounces) Tomatoes (preferably organic)
  • 3 ounces Onion (finely chopped)
  • 6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) Extra virgin olive oil (plus an extra dash to complete the sauce at the end)
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato purée (optional)
  • Few basil leaves
  • Salt for seasoning

 

Directions: 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 2

Finley chop the onion. Next, gently rinse the basil leaves and delicately pat them dry. If you rub the leaves, instead of patting them dry, they will loose part of their aroma.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 3

Wash and dry the tomatoes. Next, using a paring knife, remove the eye from each tomato.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 4

Using a paring knife, score a cross on the bottom of each tomato.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 5

Take a large pan full of water, bring the water to the boil, plunge the tomatoes into the pan and blanch for 15-20 seconds, until you see some cracks on the tomato skin. I had 10 tomatoes, so I did this in two stages (don’t add all the tomatoes into the boiling water in one go; it will bring the temperature of the water down and make the blanching less effective).

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 6

Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes from the pan.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 7

Put the tomatoes into a colander.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 8

Peel the tomatoes.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 9

Quarter the tomatoes.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 10

Remove core and seeds from each tomato quarter. The pictures shows a small bowl on the left, where I have collected all the cores and seeds. These will not be of any use so you can discard them. Keep only the tomato petals. 

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 11

Dice the tomato petals.

 

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Put the olive oil into a sauce pan. Heat the oil and then add the onion.

 

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Sweat the onion off over medium heat, until it colours (3-4 minutes will be sufficient).

 

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Next, add the diced tomato into the pan.

 

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Stir for few seconds.

 

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Cover the pan with a lid, bring the heat to low and let cook for 10 minutes.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 17

After 10 minutes remove the lid and add the sugar. At this stage you can also add the tomato purée, if you have chosen to use it. Give it a good stir and simmer on a very gentle heat for 30 minutes. Leave the pan uncovered because during this time the sauce has to be brought to the right consistency (a thin sauce will not coat the pasta properly!).

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 18

10 minutes before the finish, taste the sauce and season with salt according to taste.

 

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2 minutes before the finish, add the basil leaves.

 

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Give the sauce a final sir.

 

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When the 30 minuets cooking time has elapsed, remove the pan from the heat. Finish the sauce by adding a dash of olive oil and use the sauce for whatever dish you have planned to prepare. If you decide not to use the sauce straightaway, but to freeze it, then don’t add the olive oil at the end. Just freeze the sauce and the day you decide to use it, after re-warming it in the pan, add the dash of olive oil.

 

Buon appetito!

 

 

 

 

 

]]>
Wed, 13 Feb 2013 11:11:20 GMT http://www.italyum.com/vegetable-recipes/197-tomato-sauce.html
Italian pizza using active dried yeast http://www.italyum.com/pizza-recipes/196-pizza-using-active-dried-yeast.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo Cover

 

 

Dough preparation and rising: 3 1/2 hours
Making one pizza base and topping it: 5 mins

Cooking: 7-10 mins

Difficulty: Medium

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Pizza 4 stagioni

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Pizza prosciutto di Parma e funghi

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Pizza formaggio e funghi

There are as many pizza styles as the number of Italians doing it, so I am not here saying that my style is the perfect one, but if you are going to make an homemade pizza for your family or friends, this is what you need to surprise them! Just remember that a good pizza should be very thin, crispy and easy to digest.

Dough preparation is an important stage of pizza making, as well as choosing the right flour. Topping the pizza is up to you and at the end of this section I will present you three traditional topping options, which are my favourites.

In the list of dough ingredients you will see that I am using the baker’s percentage beside the ingredients, all measured by weight. It means that the flour is always considered 100% and the other ingredients are a percentage of the flour weight.  This way you can scale a recipe up and down to suit the number of guests; you can use 1Kg, 10kg, 100kg of flour and the other ingredients are added as a percent of the flour amount you are going to use. 

 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 500 g (1.1 lb) Italian "00" or "0" type flour for pizza (alternatively use plain flour) bp100%
  • 7 g (a scant tablespoon) Active dried yeast (granulated) bp1.4%
  • 10 g (1 tablespoon) Fine sea salt bp2%
  • 5 g (1 teaspoon) Malt extract bp1% - optional
  • 20 g (2 level tablespoons) Extra virgin olive oil bp4%
  • 300 g (½ pint + 1 fl oz) Tepid water bp60%

Note 1: the easiest way to make tepid water is to mix two parts cold water with one part boiling water. However, when preparing the tepid water, be aware that above 46ºC (115ºF) the yeast will start suffering because of the excessive heat and ultimately it will die if the water temperature reaches 63ºC (145ºF).

Note 2: the exact equivalent, in volume, of 300 g of water is 300 ml. This does not apply with other liquids or liquid fats (i.e. olive oil).

Note 3: with 500 g (1.1 lb) of flour you should be able to make 5 large pizza bases of about 30 cm (12") diameter.

Preparation of the pizza dough:

Before starting, I make sure that the room where I prepare the dough is warm. In the winter, I suggest a temperature of about 22ºC (73ºF) and in the summer time, where the temperature in the house could be higher, I would reduce the quantity of yeast.

 

Directions:

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As a first step, we need to activate the yeast. Take 150 g of the tepid water and put it into a jug.

 

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Add the malt extract to the water and stir. It should dissolve in few seconds.

 

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Add the granulated yeast.

 

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Give a good stir.

 

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Cover the jug with a cloth and wait for about 15 minutes.

 

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After 15 minutes, you should have a frothy layer inside the jug. Give another stir.

 

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Put the flour into a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, stir to evenly distribute the salt within the flour.

 

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Pour the activated yeast, with its 150 g of water,  into the bowl.

 

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Add the remaining 150 g of tepid water into the bowl.

 

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Add the olive oil into the bowl.

 

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Using your hand, start mixing in circular motion.

 

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Keep mixing until all the ingredients come together.

 

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After a couple of minutes mixing, you should have a dough at its early stage of development. Now, we knead the dough so that it can develop the gluten and become firmer.

 

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The pizza dough in this recipe has 60% hydration. This quantity of water should give you a firm dough, however not all the pizza flours have the same quantity of proteins, so if you end up using a pizza flour at its lowest protein content, during a very humid day, you may have to knead a soft dough instead of a firm dough. If that is the case, knead the dough using the stretch and fold method (watch this short video).

{youtube}QlaL98Wg3eU{/youtube}

 

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If your dough is firm, then knead the dough using the push, roll and turn method (watch this short video).

{youtube}tSGOcSl9vtU{/youtube}

 

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In my case, the dough was firm, so I opted for the second method. It is important that you do not add any extra flour. Keep kneading for at least 10 minutes and slowly you will see the dough coming together and becoming firmer and firmer.

 

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When the dough has been kneaded for at least 10 minutes, you should have a smooth, silky and elastic dough. Now, we need to shape the dough into a ball. To do so, lift and fold the outer edges of the dough towards the centre, while rotating the dough at the same time and tucking the edges into the centre of the ball (watch this short video). 

 {youtube}JwmfPKRWXX4{/youtube}

Anything between six and eight folds should be enough.

 

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When finished, turn the dough over and with both hands rotate the dough while applying gentle pressure to the bottom (as if tucking the dough underneath).

 

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If the above instruction has been carried out correctly, you should end up with a ball like this one.

 

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Grease the inside of a large bowl with a thin coat of olive oil.

 

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Roll the ball inside the bowl, lightly coating the surface of the ball with oil.

 

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Cover the bowl and leave the dough to rise for a couple of hours. This is called bulk fermentation.

 

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Before we do anything with our dough, we need to wait until it has raised properly. I have seen recipes around, saying “raise until it has double in volume”; this sometimes can happen in less than one hour; this time is not enough to develop the dough structure and flavour, so I advise to stick to 2 hours.

 

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This is the pizza dough after two hours bulk fermentation.

 

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Next, divide the dough in five segments of equal weight (150-160 g each).

 

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Make a ball out of each segment. To do so, roughly pre-shape the segment into a ball, then cup your hands over the ball. Press down and move your hand in a circular motion, while keeping the hand cupped. This action will compact the ball into a tight round shape (watch this short video). 

{youtube}1IUizKNCX0g{/youtube}

 

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Spread some flour over the working surface and lay your dough balls onto it.

 

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Cover the dough balls with a dry cloth and leave them to rest for 1 hour. This time is called final fermentation.

 

Preparation of the pizza base:

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Once the final fermentation is completed, lightly flour the working surface and take the first dough ball. Using a rolling pin, start rolling so that you can make a large circle.

 

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The pizza base should match a 30 cm (12") diameter pizza tray.

 

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The pizza base should be very thin; I would say 2 or 3 millimetres (1/16" or 1/8") thick.

 

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Be sure that the bottom of the pizza base is appropriately floured before to drag it over the pizza tray. I like to make the base a bit larger than the tray, so that I can make a rim folding the outer edge towards the centre, but you can also decide to make a smaller circle and have a flat outer edge.

 

First stage of topping the pizza (the tomato sauce):
These first steps are usually the same for all the different styles of pizza.

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To prepare the tomato sauce, add a dash of olive oil into a saucepan and pour a can of peeled plum tomatoes into the pan.

 

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Break down the tomato to avoid having big chunks (the most effective way is to use a potato masher). Add a pinch of salt and simmer for about 15 minutes. This will eliminate some of the water in the tomato sauce and increase its flavour.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 39

When the sauce has reduced to the right consistency, pour it into a small bowl and use it to top the pizza base as directed below. At this stage, do not add any oregano, because not all pizzas require oregano.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 40

With a small spoon spread the tomato topping onto the pizza base. I normally put three or four spoons and I spread the tomato moving outwards in circles. Add other spoons if you need to, but do not make a pond; the tomato should just colour the base.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 41

This is the finished job. Remember to leave a white border of about 1 cm.

From now on, we start the differentiation according to the pizza topping we would like to have. I will be vague about the quantity of the ingredients because, as you will see, it is just up to you and your taste.

 

Pizza 4 stagioni (4 seasons pizza)

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Start grating some mozzarella. You can use mozzarella specifically suitable for pizza (available in any supermarket) or mozzarella balls packed in small plastic bags: these bags contain water so pat dry the mozzarella before grating it.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 43

Now, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Here we have some grated mozzarella (as above), some cooked ham (cut into pieces), some mushrooms (the best are the ones you can buy at the supermarket, preserved in sunflower oil), some small artichokes (preserved in sunflower oil) and finally some pitted black and green olives.

 

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Spread the pizza base with some mozzarella.

 

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Spread with some cooked ham.

 

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Spread with some mushrooms, artichokes and olives.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 47

Finally, complete with a dash of extra virgin olive oil.

Always pre-heat the oven, to ensure baking the pizza straightaway at the right temperature. The oven should be set at the maximum temperature (usually 240ºC - 465ºF). If the oven is at the right temperature and your pizza is thin, it should take about 7/10 minutes to cook. Fan assisted ovens may require a different cooking time. After 5 minutes cooking, checking the pizza frequently is a good idea. When the border starts to become golden brown, it is probably the right time to take the pizza out of the oven.

 

Pizza prosciutto di Parma e funghi (Pizza with Parma ham and mushrooms)

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 48

Start grating some mozzarella. You can use mozzarella specifically suitable for pizza (available in any supermarket) or mozzarella balls packed in small plastic bags: these bags contain water so pat dry the mozzarella before grating it.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 49

Now, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Here we have some grated mozzarella (as above), some Parma ham slices and some mushrooms (the best are the ones you can buy at the supermarket, preserved in sunflower oil).

 

 Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 50

Spread the pizza base with some mozzarella.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Photo 51

Place some Parma hum slices onto the pizza base.

 

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Spread with some mushrooms.

 

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Finally, complete with a dash of extra virgin olive oil.

Always pre-heat the oven, to ensure baking the pizza straightaway at the right temperature. The oven should be set at the maximum temperature (usually 240ºC - 465ºF). If the oven is at the right temperature and your pizza is thin, it should take about 7/10 minutes to cook. Fan assisted ovens may require a different cooking time. After 5 minutes cooking, checking the pizza frequently is a good idea. When the border starts to become golden brown, it is probably the right time to take the pizza out of the oven.

 

Pizza formaggio e funghi (Pizza with cheese and mushrooms)

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Start grating some mozzarella. You can use mozzarella specifically suitable for pizza (available in any supermarket) or mozzarella balls packed in small plastic bags: these bags contain water so pat dry the mozzarella before grating it.

 

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Now, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Here we have some grated mozzarella (as above), some Parmesan cheese shavings, some Swiss Emmenthal cheese cut into small pieces and finally some mushrooms (the best are the ones you can buy at the supermarket, preserved in sunflower oil).

 

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Spread the pizza base with some mozzarella.

 

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Add the Parmesan cheese shavings.

 

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Add the Emmenthal cheese.

 

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Spread with some mushrooms.

 

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Finally, complete with a dash of extra virgin olive oil.

Always pre-heat the oven, to ensure baking the pizza straightaway at the right temperature. The oven should be set at the maximum temperature (usually 240ºC - 465ºF). If the oven is at the right temperature and your pizza is thin, it should take about 7/10 minutes to cook. Fan assisted ovens may require a different cooking time. After 5 minutes cooking, checking the pizza frequently is a good idea. When the border starts to become golden brown, it is probably the right time to take the pizza out of the oven.

Other pizzas

Read the section above ”First stage of topping pizza” and prepare the pizza base accordingly.

From now on, you can decide among these other options:

Spread some fresh mozzarella (grated) and drizzle with olive oil. Before serving the pizza, top it with some fresh basil leaves. This pizza is called “Margherita”. 

or

Spread some oregano, some anchovy fillets, some green and black olives, some capers and sprinkle with olive oil. This pizza is called “Siciliana”.

or

Spread some mozzarella, some Parmesan cheese shavings, some Gorgonzola cheese (or Stilton), some Emmenthal cheese (or Cheddar) and sprinkle with olive oil. This pizza is called “4 formaggi”.

or

Spread some oregano, some onion slices (finely sliced), some Pecorino cheese shavings and sprinkle with olive oil. Before serving the pizza, top it with some fresh basil leaves. This pizza is called “Pugliese”.

Do not forget that many Italians like to give a final touch, when the pizza is hot on the table, with some drops of “hot chilli oil” (check the “hot chilli oil” recipe, featured in the specials section of the website.

 

Buon appetito! 

]]>
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 07:20:56 GMT http://www.italyum.com/pizza-recipes/196-pizza-using-active-dried-yeast.html
Calamaretti pasta with squid sauce http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/177-calamaretti-pasta-with-squid-sauce3.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Preparation: 30-40 mins
Cooking: 2 hours 
Difficulty: Medium

Cooking squid can be tricky because if you cook it for more than two or three minutes, you could end up with some chewy squid between your teeth! In general, I would stick to the rule of thumb that says to cook the squid for two minutes or two hours. For this “ragu’ di calamari” (squid sauce) I don’t take any shortcut and I advise you to take your time and give the sauce the two hours cooking it deserves. The end result will be a sauce packed with flavour, with the right consistency to perfectly coat and stick to the pasta. For this recipe I have used a pasta called “calamaretti” (it means little squid...what a coincidence!) because of its resemblance to the squid rings. However, traditionally, this sauce is used to top “paccheri” (a.k.a. schiaffoni) or “mezze maniche lisce” type of pasta (often available in specialist shops or some supermarkets).  

 

SERVES 5 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements)

  • 500 g (1.1 lb) Calamaretti pasta (alternatively, use paccheri or mezze maniche lisce)
  • 500 g (1.1 lb) Baby squid
  • 100 ml (4 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • 1 Hot red chilli
  • 75 ml (3 fl oz) White wine
  • 1 kg (2.2 lb) Ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tbs Tomato purée
  • A handful of flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • 500 ml (a bit less than 1 pint) Fish stock
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning

 

Ingredients (U.S measurements)

  • 18 ounces (1 pound 1 ounce) Calamaretti pasta (alternatively, use paccheri or mezze maniche lisce)
  • 18 ounces (1 pound 1 ounce) Baby squid
  • 7 tablespoons (just a bit more than 3/8 cup) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • 1 Hot red chilli
  • 5 tablespoons (just a bit more than 1/4 cup) White wine
  • 35 ounces (2 pounds 3 ounces) Ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato purée
  • A handful of flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • 2 1/8 cups Fish stock
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning

 

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This is a close up view of the type of pasta I have used for this recipe.

 

Directions:

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Take the squid heads and cut them in half.

 

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Take the squid bodies and cut them into thin rings. Put heads and rings into a bowl, cover with cling film and refrigerate for later use.

 

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Take the tomatoes and remove the little eye at their top. Then, score a cross on the bottom of each tomato.

 

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Plunge the tomatoes in boiling water for 10-15 seconds.

 

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Peel off the tomato skin, using a small knife.

 

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Quarter the tomatoes.

 

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Remove the core/seeds from the quartered tomatoes. You should be left with just the petals. Discard the core/seeds.

 

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Cut the tomato petals into strips. From 1 Kg (35 ounces) of tomatoes, we should end up with roughly 500 g (18 ounces) strips.

 

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Heat the olive oil over a high heat. At the same time, put the fish stock into a small pan and bring it to a simmer.

 

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Add the garlic (crushed) and the chilli to the hot oil.

 

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Tilt the pan on one side; this is a good way to be sure that all the oil is evenly infused with the garlic and chilli.

 

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When the garlic turns golden, remove the garlic and chilli from the pan and discard.

 

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Add the squid (heads and rings) to the hot oil.

 

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Give it a good stir. At this stage, the squid will release lots of water so, keep cooking and stirring until the liquid is reduced by half.

 

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Then, add the white wine and keep cooking until the liquid is reduced again by half.

 

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Next, add the tomato purée.

 

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Give it a good stir so that the tomato purée is evenly dissolved.

 

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Now, add the tomato strips.

 

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Stir and keep cooking for few minutes.

 

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Now, add a ladleful of fish stock and stir.

 

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Cover with a lid in the way shown in the picture and lower the heat so that you bring the sauce to a simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes.

 

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After 45 minutes, the sauce will have reduced, so add another ladleful of fish stock and simmer for another 45 minutes. Every now and then give it a good stir and check that the sauce is not too dry; you don’t want to burn it!! If you need, you can still add, at this stage, half a ladle of fish stock.

 

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This is the sauce after 45+45 minutes simmering. Now, it is time to check the seasoning. Add salt according to taste.

 

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Add black pepper according to taste.

 

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If the sauce is too liquid, keep simmering for another 10 or 20 minutes, so that you achieve the right constituency. When I say right constituency, I mean that the sauce should stick to the pasta without being washed away.

 

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When the sauce is ready, remove the pan from the heat and cover the pan with a lid. Meanwhile, boil the pasta and be sure the  pasta is cooked al dente.

 

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When the pasta is cooked al dente, transfer the pasta into the sauce pan with a slotted spoon.

 

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Give it a good stir.

 

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If the pasta looks too dry, you may add half a ladle of the water you have used to boil the pasta in and then give it a good stir.

 

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The calamaretti pasta with squid sauce is ready to be served. At this stage you can add all the chopped parsley into the pan and stir or you use the chopped parsley to garnish the dish at the end, as I did.

 

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Plate the pasta and enjoy this dish with a good and chilled glass of white wine.

 

Buon appetito!

]]>
Sun, 27 Jan 2013 13:04:34 GMT http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/177-calamaretti-pasta-with-squid-sauce3.html
Maccheroni with sausage and beans sauce http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/178-maccheroni-with-sausage-and-beans-sauce4.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1


Preparation: 15 mins
Cooking: 1 hour 10 mins    
Difficulty: Easy

In  August 2011 I went to Italy for a little holiday and in that occasion I went to Suzzara, a lovely town near the city of Mantova. Suzzara is very close to the river Po, on the border between Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna regions. It goes without saying that people leaving in the Suzzara area, from the culinary point of view, enjoy the best from both the regions! Good wine, excellent salame Mantovano, any type of filled pasta (tortelli, tortelloni, cappelletti etc.) and probably the best stews in the world.

I always remember when I was a little boy, going fishing in that area with my uncle. After fishing, we always stopped in some trattoria and asked for the local speciality; donkey stew. Wow, I have never had a better stew than that in my life. The leftovers from the stew are finely trimmed and added to various sauces, to top pasta, or added to a filling to make tortelli, ravioli etc.

The sauce I am going to present just now, can be made in two ways; you can use stewed donkey meat (not likely!) or sausage (I have used Italian sausage). It is a very easy recipe to make and unbelievably tasty. Now, let’s cook! 

 

SERVES 4 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements) 

  • 400 g (14 oz) Maccheroni 
  • 120 ml (4 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Carrot
  • 200 g (7 oz) Italian sausage
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) White wine
  • 1 tbs Tomato purée
  • 400 g (14 oz) Borlotti beans (canned)
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements) 

  • 14 ounces Maccheroni pasta
  • 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Carrot
  • 7 ounces Italian sausage
  • 10 tablespoons (5/8 cup) White wine
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato purée
  • 14 ounces Borlotti beans (canned)
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning

 

Note: for the vegetarian version of this dish, don’t use the sausage and cook for a little less time.

 

Directions: 

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Rinse the beans and set them aside.

 

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Roughly chop the onion and the carrot. Put them into a food processor, blender, mixer, whatever you have to chop them very finely.

 

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Finely chop the onion and the carrot.

 

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This is what you should get.

 

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Remove the casing of the sausage.

 

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Chop the sausage using a large cooks knife.

 

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Put the olive oil into a sauce pan and heat it over medium heat.

 

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When the oil is hot, add the onion/carrot mix.

 

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Sweat the onion/carrot mix for 3-4 minutes.

 

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Then, add the sausage into the pan. When you add the sausage into the pan, try to break it further, using your fingers, so that it falls into the pan in as many small pieces as possible.

 

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Stir with a wooden spoon and at the same time use the spoon to break the sausage down in small pieces in case you still have some big lumps. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, regularly stirring. If you think that the sausage starts sticking to the bottom of the pan or is getting burnt, then you can decrease the heat or go to the next step immediately.

 

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Add one third of the white wine (50 ml - approx. 3 tablespoons) into the pan and let cook for another 3-4 minutes, regularly stirring.

 

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Then, add the tomato purée and stir to evenly spread it in the sauce.

 

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Turn the heat to low and cover with a lid, leaving one side of the lid slightly open. We need to cook the sauce for about 40 minutes, so it is important that you stir every now and then, and that you check that the sauce does not stick to the bottom of the pan or get too dry or burnt.

 

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If the sauce gets too dry, add a bit of the white wine you have left (I would say another 50 ml - approx. 3 tablespoons), cover with the lid (as shown in the previous picture) and keep cooking. Do not pour all the wine you have, because the sauce would become to liquid; just keep some of the wine for later, in case the sauce gets too dry; you may end up using it for the sauce or drink it. 

 

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10 minutes before you reach the 40 minutes cooking time, check the seasoning. Add salt according to taste.

 

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Then, season with black pepper.

 

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Complete the 40 minutes cooking time, leaving one side of the lid slightly open.

 

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After the 40 minutes have passed, you can now add the Borlotti beans into the pan.

 

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Give it a good stir and cook without lid for about 10-15. This way we will bring the sauce to the right consistency, not too liquid, not too dry.

 

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Meanwhile, boil the pasta according to the instructions given on the packet. Remember to cook the pasta “al dente” and to use 10 g (1/3 ounce) salt for each litre (4 1/8 cups) of boiling water.

 

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When the pasta is ready, drain it and put it back into the big pan you have used to boil it. Add the sauce into the pan.

 

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Give it a good stir.

 

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Serve with a generous sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. A good glass of bodied red wine is the ideal accompaniment to this dish.

 

Buon appetito!

 

 

  

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Sun, 27 Jan 2013 13:05:32 GMT http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/178-maccheroni-with-sausage-and-beans-sauce4.html
Rabbit Liguria style http://www.italyum.com/meat-recipes/180-rabbit-liguria-style.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Preparation: 20 mins
Cooking: 90 mins    
Difficulty: Easy

A while ago I wrote a recipe called “Rabbit Emilia-Romagna style”. It was the first of three recipes I would like to publish about cooking rabbit. This is the second recipe and it comes from the Liguria region of Italy. Liguria is famous for its pesto sauce, but also for its superb olive oil and olives. For me, it is important that the recipes I publish are accurate and traditional. When I can, I buy ingredients that come from the area where the recipe comes from, so this time I managed to buy some “taggiasca” olives (native olives from Liguria) in brine and a bottle of extra virgin olive oil from the same region. Now, let’s cook...

 

SERVES 4 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 1 Rabbit (adult animal)
  • 120 ml (4 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 150 g (5 oz) Taggiasca olives in brine
  • 50 g (2 oz) Pine kernels
  • 1 Onion - large size (finely chopped)
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • 1 Rosemary sprig
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 100 ml ( a bit less than 4 fl.oz) White wine
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz) White wine vinegar
  • 3 Ripe tomatoes - medium size (OPTIONAL)
  • 250 ml (1/2 pint) Chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements): 

  • 1 Rabbit (adult animal)
  • 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 1/2 ounces Taggiasca olives in brine
  • 2 ounces Pine kernels
  • 1 Onion - large size (finely chopped)
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • 1 Rosemary sprig
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) White wine
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) White wine vinegar
  • 3 Ripe tomatoes - medium size (OPTIONAL)
  • 16 tablespoons (1 cup) Chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning

 

Directions: 

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First of all, cut the rabbit into pieces. You should be able to cut the front and back legs without crunching any bones. Split bones are a nightmare when cooking rabbit, so try to cut the animal neatly.

 

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Put the rabbit cuts into a large bowl and then fill the bowl with cold water, to cover the meat.

 

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Add the vinegar into the water, then cover with cling film and refrigerate for one hour or so.

 

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Meanwhile, chop the onion.

 

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After the onion, we prepare the tomatoes. We remove the eye first.

 

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Score a cross on the bottom of each tomato.

 

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Plunge the tomato in boiling water for 10-15 seconds.

 

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Remove the tomatoes from the pan using a slotted spoon.

 

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Peel the tomato. The skin should come off very easily.

 

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Now, quarter the tomatoes.

 

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Remove and discard the seeds. You should be left only with the clean petals.

 

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Cut each petal into strips.

 

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Cut the strips into dice.

 

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In Italy we call this “dadolata di pomodoro” (also known as concassé - this French term is the  most popular if you browse the internet). The advantage of using the dadolata is that it delivers a finer result at the end, when we add it to the pan, because there are no seeds or skin.

 

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After about an hour, take the bowl out of the fridge, discard the water, rinse the rabbit cuts and finally pat them dry.

 

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Take a large sauté pan and pour a generous lug of olive oil into the pan (about 120 ml - 1/2 cup). Heat the oil on medium heat.

 

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When the oil is hot, add the onion.

 

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Then, add the crushed cloves of garlic.

 

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Finally, add the herbs and sauté for 3-4 minutes, to give some colour.

 

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Then, add the rabbit cuts into the pan.

 

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Cook each side of the cuts for few minutes.

 

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Here, I am cooking the second side.

 

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Once both sides of the cuts have been lighlty browned, add the wine.

 

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Shake the pan so that the liquid goes all around the bottom of the pan and cook until the liquid is reduce by half.

 

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Then, add half of the stock available. Technically speaking you should not need any more stock; however if something goes wrong and you think that the pan content is getting too dry or slightly burnt, you still have some extra stock left.

 

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Season with salt.

 

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Season with black pepper.

 

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Turn the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for about 1 hour, turning the rabbit cuts every 20 minutes.

 

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This pictures shows the pan content after 40 minutes cooking on low heat. As you can see, the bottom sauce is not reduced enough (still too liquid).

 

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To complete the hour cooking on low heat, the best way is to partially cover the pan with the lid. This way, part of moisture will leave the pan and the sauce in the bottom will reduce to the right consistency.

 

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After the rabbit cuts have been cooking on low heat for 1 hour, add the olives (the olives must be added into the pan 20-30 minutes before the end of the cooking).

 

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Then, add the pine kernels.

 

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Give the whole thing a good stir and continue cooking for another 10 minutes with the lid on.

 

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Once the 10 minutes have passed, add the diced tomatoes into the pan. These need only 10 minutes to cook and you can do so without lid, so that we start to reduce the sauce to a thicker consistency.

 

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This is what you should get after about 90 minutes cooking.

 

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Plate the rabbit and serve.

 

Buon appetito!

 

 

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Fri, 01 Feb 2013 11:19:22 GMT http://www.italyum.com/meat-recipes/180-rabbit-liguria-style.html
Garden snails Brescia (Lumache alla bresciana) http://www.italyum.com/specials/172-garden-snails-brescia-lumache-alla-bresciana.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Preparation: 2 up to 4 hours depending on the snail size
Cooking: 45-60 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

This recipe brings my memory back to when I was a little boy and living in Ghedi, a small town 20 Km south of Brescia. At that time, rainy days meant “snail hunting” and I was pretty good at it. Once the bag was full, I used to take the snails to my aunt Amabile, because my mum couldn't even touch a snail; but my mum was from the Friuli Venezia region of Italy and snails have never been part of her culinary background. My aunt, though, born before WWII and raised in a small farm in south Lombardy, knew exactly what to do....anytime I came across frogs, sparrows, snails; she was my appointed cook. This recipe is a bit long because I had to show how all the steps including how to prepare the snails before cooking. Nowadays, many people consider garden snails as a pest (unless you are Italian of French) and it is common practice to spread poison pellets to kill them. My personal view is “if you want to kill them, at least eat them”, so acting upon this principle, I went into my garden and collected as many garden snails (Helix Aspersa) as I could and here I am showing how to cook them.

 

SERVES 2

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For this recipe I have used 1.3 Kg (3 pounds) of garden snails (Helix Aspersa). Unfortunately, the snails were not as big as I wished, so at the end of the snail preparation process I ended up with an yield of edible snail meat of about 200 g (7 ounces), which allowed me to prepare a meal for only 2 persons.

 

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The picture above shows the ingredients for a basic court bouillon and here is the list:

  • A large saucepan 3/4 full of water
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Celery stalk
  • A small handful of flat parsley (see note below)
  • A glass of white wine

 

Note: for the court bouillon only use the stalks and reserve the leaves for the next set of the ingredients - see next picture

 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 200 g (8 oz) Edible snail meat
  • 1 Onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 Tbs Tomato purée
  • 400 g (14 oz) Spinach leaves
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 20 g (3/4 oz) Butter
  • 5 g Flat leaf parsley (chopped)
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • 20 g (3/4 oz) Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and ground pepper for seasoning

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements):

  • 7 ounces Edible snail meat
  • 1 Onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 Tbs Tomato purée
  • 14 ounces Spinach leaves
  • 4 tablespoon (1/4 cup) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 ounce Butter
  • 5 g Flat leaf parsley (chopped)
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • 2/3 ounce Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and ground pepper for seasoning

 

Directions:

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A week before cooking your snails, put them into a box or purpose made cage, with some yellow cornmeal (polenta flour) in the bottom. They will feed with cornmeal and clean themselves from eventual impurities they may have been eating while roaming in the garden.

 

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I have used a large plastic box and made some holes on the top. Every couple of days I cleaned the box, briefly showered the snails with the hose and then put them back in the box with a new layer of cornmeal.

 

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The day of the cooking, put the snails into a colander and rinse them well, under fresh running water.

 

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Take a large pan full of water, bring the water to the boil and throw the snails straight into the pan.

 

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Simmer for 10 minutes and remove any scum that come to the surface.

 

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After 10 minutes boiling, take the snail out of the pan, using a large slotted spoon. Do this gently to avoid breaking the shells.

 

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Place the snails in a colander.

 

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Using a tooth stick or a barbecue stick, take the snails out of their shells. They will easily come out.

 

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The picture shows all the empty shells (at the back) and the snail meat in front. At this stage, the snails are not ready yet; we need to remove the intestine (not edible) from the foot (edible part), which is the part of the snail you see when they are alive moving around in the garden.

 

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Use a sharp scissor to separate the intestine (left of the scissor) from the foot (right of the scissor).

 

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The picture shows the edible snail meat on the right side and the intestines on the left side. Discard the intestines.

 

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Rinse the snail edible meat under fresh running water. Then, pat the meat dry using kitchen paper.

 

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Take a container, spread some cornmeal into the container and add the meat to it.

 

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Coat all the meat with cornmeal and then gently rub the meat between your hands. This operation will further clean the meat from eventual slime residue.

 

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Rinse again, under fresh running water, to get rid of the cornmeal coating the meat.

 

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Put the meat into a container and cover with white wine vinegar.

 

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Add some salt and leave to marinade for 2 or 3 hours.

 

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Then rinse the meat again under fresh running water and set aside.

 

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Roughly chop the vegetables given for the court bouillon.

 

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Fill a pan with cold water. Then, add the vegetables given for the court bouillon and the meat.

 

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Add the wine into the pan.

 

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Bring the liquid to a gentle boil and simmer for about 1 hour. For me, the simmering time was only 1 hour because I had small snails. For big chunky snails you may need 2 or 3 hours.

 

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After the simmering, remove the pan content from the liquid and then separate the meat from the vegetable. Discard the vegetables. Put the meat in a container, cover with cling film and set aside.

 

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Now, wash the spinach leaves.

 

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The pictures shows the spinach leaves after I have put them through the salad spinner to get rid of the water.

 

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Roughly chop the spinach.

 

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Now, take a large saucepan so that it can contain all the spinach. Initially the spinach will take up lots of space, but after few minutes cooking it will shrink considerably.  Put the olive oil and the butter into the pan and heat the two fats over medium heat.

 

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Add the onion.

 

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Add the garlic clove (crushed) and sweat off until the onion is lightly golden in colour. Later you will remove the garlic, if you want.

 

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Add the meat into the pan.

 

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Sweat off the meat for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly.

 

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Add the tomato purée.

 

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Stir.

 

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Add the spinach.

 

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Stir.

 

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Cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes over low heat.

 

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After 20 minutes, check the seasoning and add salt and pepper according to taste.

 

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Then, add the parsley and give it a good stir. Cook for another 20 minutes.

 

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This is the finished results, after a total of  45 minutes. With bigger snails you can stretch this cooking time to 60 minutes.

 

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This is the final dish, where I have served the snails and spinach with some grilled polenta. This is a rustic dish, so be ready to drink half a litre of good red wine.

 

Buon appetito!

]]>
Tue, 05 Mar 2013 09:47:38 GMT http://www.italyum.com/specials/172-garden-snails-brescia-lumache-alla-bresciana.html
Pike Mantova (Luccio alla mantovana) http://www.italyum.com/specials/171-pike-mantova-luccio-alla-mantovana.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Luccio alla mantovana (Pike cooked in the Mantova way)

Preparation: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Cooking: 25 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Whenever and wherever I made this dish, I feel at home, in Lombardy, the region I come from. When I was a boy, I was taught to hunt, fish and gather food. An afternoon spent in the countryside always meant coming home with something to cook. Frogs, snails, pikes and wild mushrooms were my favourites and still nowadays I occasionally put them on the table. Luccio alla mantovana means Pike (luccio) cooked in the Mantova way; Mantova being a beautiful town south east of Lombardy. There are similar recipes from the nearby region Veneto, especially from the province of Verona, where other ingredients are added, like capers and cinnamon for example, but I like the recipe in the Mantova style; it is simpler and the delicate taste of the pike meat is not overwhelmed by too many different flavours. The use of anchovies, to prepare the “salsa” (sauce), shows a Venetian influence (Mantova was part of the republic of Venice in the past); where anchovies were often added to enhance food flavour, especially when consuming freshwater fish.

 

SERVES 5

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Ingredients for the court bouillon (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 3 Litres of water (it can be less if your pike is smaller)
  • 24 g Salt
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • A few parsley stalks
  • A glass of dry white wine
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 8-10 Whole peppercorns

 

Ingredients for the court bouillon (U.S. measurements):

  • 12 1/2 cups of water (it can be less if your pike is smaller)
  • 3/4 ounce Salt
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • A few parsley stalks
  • A glass of dry white wine
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 8-10 Whole peppercorns

 

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Ingrediens for the "salsa" (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 15-20 g (3/4 oz)  Anchovy paste (alternatively use 5 anchovy fillets)
  • 100 ml (4 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 ml (4 fl oz) Sunflower oil
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 30 ml (2 Tbs) Red wine vinegar
  • 15 g (1/2 oz) Flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • Salt and ground black pepper for seasoning

 

Ingrediens for the "salsa" (U.S. measurements):

  • 3/4 ounce Anchovy paste (alternatively use 5 anchovy fillets)
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 cup) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 cup) Sunflower oil
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) Red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 ounce Flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • Salt and ground black pepper for seasoning

 

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I have used a 2.3 Kg (5 pounds 1 ounce) pike, but you can use a smaller one, however no less than 1 Kg (2 pounds 3 ounces).

 

Directions:

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Scale the pike. It is much easier to scale the pike before cutting its belly. It will be a bit messy, but it is a necessary step.

 

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This is the pike gutted and completely cleaned of its scales.

 

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The inside should be thoroughly clean.

 

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Now, we prepare the court bouillon. Roughly chop the onion, celery and carrot and gather everything together with peppercorns, bay leaves and the parsley stalks.

 

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Take a long pan, one that later can accommodate the fish, fill it with the cold water and add all the ingredients for the court bouillon to the pan.

 

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Add the wine.

 

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Add the salt and then apply low heat and bring the liquid to a simmer. Gently simmer for 30 minutes.

 

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Meanwhile, if the fish is to big for the pan, cut its tail and head.

 

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The fish is ready to be immersed in the court bouillon.

 

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After the court bouillon has gently simmered for 30 minutes, add the fish to the pan. Bring the liquid back to simmer and then adjust the cooker flame so that the water is just trembling.

 

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Cover with a lid and let it poach for about 25 minutes.

 

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After 25 minutes, put the cooker off and squeeze a lemon all over the fish and liquid.

 

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Now, leave the fish to cool down for 10 minutes inside its own liquid.

 

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Meanwhile, take the parsley leaves and the garlic.

 

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Chop them, very finely.

 

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Take a shallow frying pan. Add the olive and sunflower oils to the pan and heat the oils over medium/low heat.

 

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Add the anchovy paste to the pan.

 

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Stir, to help the anchovy paste to dissolve into the oil. At this stage the oil should not be too hot because we do not want to burn or fry the anchovy paste; we just need to dissolve it. It should really take less than one minute to do this.

 

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Then, add the vinegar to the pan.

 

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Quicky stir and temporary raise the heat to high, only for about 30-40 seconds. This will help to reduce the pungent flavour note of the vinegar.

 

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Now, remove the pan from the heat, stir for few seconds and leave the oil to cool down for a minute.

 

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Add the parsley and garlic mix to the pan.

 

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Stir and adjust the seasoning with ground black pepper and a little pinch of salt. Set aside until ready to be used.

 

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Remove the fish from the liquid.

 

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The top skin can be easily removed by gently scraping with a knife.

 

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Now, take a large glass tray and flake the fish. The bigger the fish the easier it is to remove the bones while you are separating the meat into many flakes. Be sure you do a good job when removing the bones. 

 

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After you have finished flaking the fish meat, spread the “salsa” all over the meat.

 

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Job done!

 

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Cover with cling film and put in the fridge for at least 4-5 hours before the serving. 20 minutes before the serving, remove the fish from the fridge so that by the time you plate it, it is not too chilled.

 

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During this long waiting time, you can prepare polenta (check the “polenta” recipe in the specials section of the website). Take a big large pan, fill it with the required amount of water and add some salt to the pan.

 

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Add the polenta flour.

 

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Stir.

 

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keep stirring; you need to stir for 45 minutes.

 

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After 45 minutes the polenta is ready.

 

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I usually make lot of polenta, so that I can fill many different moulds. Most of the moulds will go in the freezer, for future consumption. For this specific recipe I have just used the wider and shallow tray in the top right. After a couple of hour in the fridge, the polenta will be compact, so overturn the tray and cut the polenta base into slices.

 

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Grill the polenta slices.

 

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Plate the fish cold, accompanied by hot grilled polenta.

 

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A good, chilled dry white wine from the Lake Garda area will be perfect for this dish.

 

Buon appetito!  

]]>
Tue, 05 Mar 2013 10:56:36 GMT http://www.italyum.com/specials/171-pike-mantova-luccio-alla-mantovana.html
Amatrice Spaghetti (Spaghetti all'amatriciana) http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/179-amatrice-spaghetti-spaghetti-allamatriciana.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1


Preparation: 5 mins
Cooking: 10-12 mins
Difficulty: Easy

This classic dish has its origins in central Italy; more precisely from the town of Amatrice, in the province of Rieti (Lazio region). At the entry of the town there’s a welcome sign post saying:

AMATRICE
955 m s.l.m. (955 meters above the sea level)
citta’ degli spaghetti all’amatriciana

There is lot of debate around this dish name because local purists say that the dish should be called “matriciana” and not “amatriciana”, since the local people of Amatrice are called “Matriciani”. But, the same purists say that spaghetti should be used for this dish and not bucatini. The debate is so heated that someone has also created a specific website matriciana.com, where they make a big point about their views. It is believed that the ancient version of dish was created by the local shepherds, a few centuries ago. Initially, there was no tomato in the amatriciana sauce, because at that time people probably didn’t know about its existence or its culinary application. This initial version, without tomatoes, still exists and it is called “pasta alla gricia”. Then, in the late 1700s, the use of tomato, as a cooking ingredient, began and suddenly someone discovered that it was good to add tomato to the basic “gricia” sauce and this is what nowadays we know as amatriciana sauce.

Rome is not far away from the town of Amatrice and soon the dish had become one of the Rome classics, with the usual variations on the theme, like the use of bucatini or rigatoni pasta instead of spaghetti and sometimes the adding of onion or garlic. There is a common thread between “pasta alla carbonara”, “pasta all’amatricana” and “pasta alla gricia”; all the three dishes come from the same area of Italy and require “guanciale di maiale” (cured pig’s jowl or cheeks) and Pecorino cheese. If we say that a Pasta alla gricia is a carbonara without egg or an amatricana without tomato, I think it is a good and fair way to put it, so you know the differences now.

The recipe I am going to show is done in the Amatrice way, using proper guanciale and frying it in an iron pan. Now, let’s cook.

   

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If you want to eat the real Spaghetti all’amatriciana, you need to find some “guanciale”. It is the essential ingredient for this recipe and its flavour is far superior to the flavour of pancetta, which is often used, for these kind of dishes, as substitute to the guanciale. However, using pancetta or unsmoked streaky bacon is not a crime and, as I have said many times, if you don’t find an ingredient, then go for the practical approach and find something similar; it will do the job.

 

SERVES 4 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements)

  • 500 g (1.1 lb) Spaghetti
  • 30 ml (2 tbs) Extra virgin olive oil (alternatively use pork lard)
  • 125 g (4 1/2 oz) Guanciale di maiale (alternatively use unsmoked streaky bacon)
  • 1 Red chilli
  • 400 g (14 oz) Plum peeled tomatoes (canned)
  • 100 g (3 1/2 oz) Pecorino cheese - medium aged (grated)
  • Salt for seasoning

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements)

  • 18 ounces (1 pound 1 ounce) Spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) Extra virgin olive oil (alternatively use pork lard)
  • 4 1/2 ounces Guanciale di maiale (alternatively use unsmoked streaky bacon)
  • 1 Red chilli
  • 14 ounces Plum peeled tomatoes (canned)
  • 3 1/2 ounces Pecorino cheese - medium aged (grated)
  • Salt for seasoning

 

Note: about the Pecorino cheese, try to buy a medium aged one (if you can choose of course) from central Italy regions. A medium aged cheese has a milder taste that suits this dish better. Pecorino cheese from Amatrice would be the perfect choice (the usual local purists say that the hard matured Pecorino Romano is too overpowering and salty......oh, oh! another heated debate on the go!!)

  

Directions:

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First thing to do is the ingredient preparation. Take a slice off the “guanciale” and make it into sticks. A 5mm (3/16") thick slice will do; that will allow you to make 5x5mm (3/16"x3/16") sticks, 2cm (3/4"long. Don’t worry if they look a bit chunky; after the frying they will half their size.

 

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Then, remove the plum tomatoes from the can and put them into a container.

 

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Break the plum tomatoes with whatever comes to hand.

 

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Take a frying pan (ideally an iron pan) and pour the extra virgin olive oil into it. Swirl the pan around so that the oil will evenly coat the pan. The fat (olive oil or pork lard) should be minimal, just to allow a thin coating, because after, when we add the guanciale, some of the fat contained in the guanciale will melt, adding extra fat to the pan. Now, heat the oil on medium heat.

 

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When the oil is hot, add the chilli. Do not break the chilli in many pieces; just break it into two, so that it will be easier to remove it from the pan at a later stage.

 

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Add the guanciale into the pan and turn the heat to low.

 

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Quickly stir with a wooden spoon, so that the guanciale sticks are turned as well, to allow an even frying.

 

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After about a couple of minutes, the guanciale sticks should turn to a golden colour. This is the critical stage because frying for longer would dry the guanciale too much, making it too crispy, which is not good for the amatriciana sauce.

 

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So, we stop the frying process, adding the tomatoes to the pan.

 

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Give it a good stir and simmer for about 10-12 minutes, which is the time you need to cook the spaghetti. During this time stir every now and then.

 

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Now, “butta gli spaghetti” (throw the spaghetti in) and boil the spaghetti according to instructions given on the packet. Remember to cook the spaghetti “al dente” and to use 10g (1/3 ounce) salt for each litre (4 1/8 cups) of boiling water.

 

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A few minutes before the end, check the seasoning and add some salt according to your taste.

 

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Also, remove and discard the chilli.

 

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Now, the sauce is ready to top the spaghetti.

 

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When the spaghetti is cooked “al dente”, drain it into a colander and put the spaghetti back into the big pan you have used to cook it.

 

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Add the amatriciana sauce into the pan.

 

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Stir to evenly coat the spaghetti.

 

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Add half of the Pecorino cheese into the pan and stir. Keep the remaining Pecorino cheese for the serving.

 

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Plate the spaghetti, add some extra Pecorino cheese on top and enjoy this fab spaghetti all’amatriciana.

 

Buon appetito!

]]>
Tue, 29 Jan 2013 16:17:25 GMT http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/179-amatrice-spaghetti-spaghetti-allamatriciana.html
Federico's butternut squash and sage risotto http://www.italyum.com/risotto-recipes/182-federicos-butternut-squash-and-sage-risotto7.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1


Preparation: 30 mins
Cooking: 22-25 mins    
Difficulty: Difficult

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Veggie 

In Italy we use “zucca” (pumpkin), the short and large variety with thick green skin and an uneven surface, but I live in Scotland now and the best practical approach is to buy a butternut squash at the supermarket. The risotto came out very well and everybody in the family enjoyed it. This recipe requires some multitasking skills because you need to roast part of the butternut squash while you are doing the rest of the ingredient preparation. Then, during the actual risotto making, 5 minutes before the final garnishing and serving, you will need to sauté some diced butternut squash. It is therefore important you master the basic risotto first, unless you are a seasoned cook of course. My best advice is to look at the "parmigiana risotto" recipe I published in the past. Try the Parmigiana risotto a few times and when the procedure becomes familiar, then you can commit yourself to this new one. At the time I made the recipe (14th June 2011) the sage in my garden was at its best so I have decided to infuse the risotto with sage leaves and to garnish the final dish with sage flowers, which are edible, but about this claim I recommend you check in the internet for the sake of safety and clarity.  

 

SERVES 4 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 350-400 g (12-14 oz) Arborio rice
  • 100 g (4 oz) Butter (separate in two 25 g knobs and one 50 g knob)
  • 1 Onion, medium size (finely chopped)
  • 100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) White wine
  • 2 Litres Vegetable stock (I have used vegetable bouillon)
  • 1 Butternut squash
  • 2-3 Sage leaves
  • 50 g (2 oz) Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Some sage flowers for the final garnish

  

Ingredients (U.S. measurements): 

  • 12-14 ounces Arborio rice
  • 3 1/2 ounces Butter (separate in two 3/4 ounce knobs and one 2 ounces knob)
  • 1 Onion, medium size (finely chopped)
  • 6 tablespoon (3/8 cup) White wine
  • 2 quarts 1 cup Vegetable stock (I have used vegetable bouillon)
  • 1 Butternut squash
  • 2-3 Sage leaves
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Some sage flowers for the final garnish

 

Note: in the following directions, I will not go into detail about risotto overall cooking time, stock addition and other tips. For this, please refer to the basic "parmigiana risotto" recipe featured in the risotto section of the website. 

 

Directions: 

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First thing first, pre-heat the oven to 200°C (395°F). Then, divide the butternut squash in two parts. Take the bottom part (the wider one), remove the skin, cut it in half, remove the seeds and  slice it.

 

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Take an oven tray, line the tray with baking paper and place the squash slices onto it. In a small pan, melt 25g (3/4 ounce) of butter and brush all the slices with the melted butter. Keep the remaining butter, because you will be using it for the sauté of the diced squash at a later stage.

 

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Roast the squash for about 20-25 minutes, until it is soft (it is ready when a fork goes through the flesh with no resistance). While you are waiting for the squash to be roasted, prepare the vegetable stock and carry on with the rest of the ingredient preparation (chop the onion, grate the cheese etc.).

 

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I have used a fan assisted oven and my slices were ready after 25 minutes.

 

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Now, we are going to make a squash purée. Using a scissor, or a pairing knife, remove the charred tips from the squash slices. Put the slices into a jug and add a ladle of stock.

 

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Blend.

 

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The purée should be smooth and not have any trace of dark bits. Cover with cling film and set aside.

 

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Now, take the top part of the butternut squash (the narrow one), remove the skin and cut out few rectangles, roughly 6-8 mm (1/4" - 1/3").

 

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From the rectangles, cut out sticks (batons).

 

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Finally, from the sticks, cut into dice. Aim for dice of equal size with sides length of about 6-8 mm (1/4" - 1/3").

 

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Put the diced butternut squah into a bowl, cover and set aside.

 

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Now, we start to make the risotto. Melt 50g (2 ounces) of butter in a large pan. Add the finely chopped onion and sweat over a medium heat for about 3-5 minutes or until the onion is soft.

 

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Add the rice.

 

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Stir until the rice is completely coated with the butter. You can see that the rice will start to become translucent. Keep stirring and sweat the rice for a minute or two.

 

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Then, add the white wine.

 

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Keep stirring and let the wine evaporate (it will probably take a couple of minutes).

 

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Add the hot vegetable stock, a ladleful at a time. Stir regularly and add more stock as the rice absorb the liquid. Carry on this way until the rice is cooked.
 

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Meanwhile, after  the second addition of stock, add the squash purée.

 

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Stir to evenly mix the purée with the rice.

 

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Add two or three sage leaves to infuse the risotto (remove and discard the leaves after about 10 minutes).

 

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Continue cooking the risotto, stirring regularly and adding stock when required.

 

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If you are familiar with the risotto making, you will know when it is about 5 minutes from being perfectly cooked. So, 5 minutes before the end, use the butter you have kept aside when brushing the squash slices and sauté the squash dice.

 

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The aim here is to soften and colour the squash dice, which will be used for the final garnishing of the risotto. It should take no more than 5 minutes.

 

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The sauté also caramelise the dice surface, bringing out flavour and enhancing sweetness. My advice is not to season the dice at all; to retain the squash's original flavour.

 

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Near the final stage of the risotto making, check the seasoning and add salt and pepper according to taste (watch the salt because we are going to add some Parmesan cheese soon, which is salty).

 

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When the rice is perfectly cooked ”al dente”, add the Parmesan cheese and stir for few seconds.

 

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Then, off the fire, add all the remaining butter (you should still have about 25g - 3/4 ounce of butter left) and stir until completely melted.

 

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Quickly stir, to complete the melting of the butter (this stage is called “mantecatura”) and cover the pan with a lid for about 1 minute, allowing the risotto to rest before serving it.

 

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Risotto should be served "all'onda" (like a wave). This means that when you serve it onto a plate, it should still flow a little. Garnish with squash dice and sage flowers. Alternatively, instead of the sage flowers, you could use a couple of fried sage leaves (see the "salvia fritta" recipe featured in the specials section of the website) with one Parmesan chip in the centre. 

 

Buon appetito!

 

 

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Tue, 05 Feb 2013 16:24:44 GMT http://www.italyum.com/risotto-recipes/182-federicos-butternut-squash-and-sage-risotto7.html
Fried sage leaves (Salvia fritta) http://www.italyum.com/specials/166-fried-sage-leaves-salvia-fritta.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 5 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Veggie Vegetarian

Salvia fritta means “fried sage leaves”. It can be served as a starter with some cuts of Parmesan cheese, a few olives and a glass of chilled prosecco bubbly wine. In my view it is absolutely delicious and after the frying you will find that the sage’s pungent flavour has been toned down, making it more palatable. Despite this recipe is popular all over Italy, it has its origin in Tuscany, probably from the renaissance period.   

 

SERVE 4 AS STARTER

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It happens that I have a nice sage plant in my vegetable patch, which has survived numerous harsh Scottish winters and also this year she has delivered beautiful leaves and flowers.......so......

 

 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 10 Sage leaves
  • 2 Medium size eggs
  • 40g (1 1/2 oz) Plain flour
  • Salt for seasoning
  • 300ml (1/2 pint) Olive oil for frying

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements):

  • 10 Sage leaves
  • 2 Medium size eggs
  • 1 1/2 ounces Plain flour
  • Salt for seasoning
  • 1 1/4 cups Olive oil for frying

 

Directions:

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Beat the eggs using a fork.

 

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Season with salt and beat for few more seconds.

 

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Add all the flour.

 

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Beat the mixture and at the same time break down the bigger lumps with the fork. We don’t need to achieve a super smooth batter for this recipe.

 

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Add the sage leaves into the batter.

 

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Press them down so that the leaves are fully coated with batter.

 

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Take a shallow frying pan and heat the oil at about 160°C (320°F).

 

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Take the leaves, one by one, and put them into the pan.

 

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Fry for about a minute or until the bottom side of the leaves has reached a golden colour, then turn the leaves and continue frying until you reach the same result.

 

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The picture shows the leaves after I have turned them.

 

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When ready, remove the fried leaves from the pan using a slotted spoon.

 

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Lay the leaves onto kitchen paper so that the excess oil is absorbed.

 

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Gently turn the leaves on the other side (don’t press them down by any means) and after a minute or two serve them on a plate.

 

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During the final serving, feel free to accompany them with whatever you wish (olives, Parmesan cheese, red roasted pepper strips etc.).

 

Buon appetito! 

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Tue, 05 Mar 2013 09:48:06 GMT http://www.italyum.com/specials/166-fried-sage-leaves-salvia-fritta.html
Onion Frittata (Frittata con cipolle) http://www.italyum.com/specials/163-onion-frittata-frittata-con-cipolle.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 10 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Veggie Vegetarian

This is a quick recipe to make frittata. A Frittata is eggs mixed with anything you like! It does not have to complicated; just use one or two vegetables or something leftover from the previous lunch/dinner. In my case I love to have my frittata with onion only.

 

SERVES 2

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Ingredients:

  • 3 or 4 Eggs (dependent on the size of your frying pan)
  • A couple of medium size onions (or one big onion)
  • A splash of olive oil (a generous splash)
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

 

Directions:

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Slice the onions, about 3 mm (1/8") thick.

 

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Put the eggs in a little bowl, season with salt and pepper and beat vigorously for few seconds, using a fork.

 

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Add some olive oil into a frying pan (possibly non-stick pan).

 

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When the oil is hot, add the onion slices into the pan and shallow-fry until the bottom side of the slices goes a nice golden colour.

 

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Then, turn the slices and colour the other side. If you have put too much oil, at this stage you can still remove the excess oil with a spoon.

 

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Next, add the eggs into the pan.

 

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Gently shake the pan so that the egg mixture is evenly distributed around the pan and coat all the onion slices. Cook the bottom of the frittata for a couple a minutes or so, then, we need to firm the top side, which still shows some runny eggs.

 

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The best way to firm the top side of the frittata is to put under a broiler for few seconds (40-60 seconds should be enough).

 

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I need the top side slightly dry so that I can turn the frittata by flipping it. Technically speaking, you don’t need to flip the frittata; you can finish it under the broiler or in the oven. but I love flipping it!

 

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One, two, three....the frittata is in the sky.

 

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And here it lands back in the pan topside down.

 

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Cook for another minute, so that you are sure the bottom side of the frittata gets a nice colour. Then, shove it into a plate or onto a greaseproof paper as I did. Slice it and enjoy it.

 

Buon appetito!

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Tue, 05 Mar 2013 10:19:16 GMT http://www.italyum.com/specials/163-onion-frittata-frittata-con-cipolle.html
Rabbit Emilia-Romagna style http://www.italyum.com/meat-recipes/161-rabbit-emilia-romaga-style.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Preparation: 20 mins
Cooking: 90 mins    
Difficulty: Easy

This is the first of three recipes featuring rabbit. The recipe I am describing here is from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, so we are speaking about the north of the country. For the initial sauté of onions, we will use lard and butter because, in the past, these were the most available cooking fats to the people of that area. Olive oil was more available to those families living along the coastline of Liguria or in regions like Tuscany and Umbria where there is extensive cultivation of olive trees. Rabbit is very popular in Italy and every farm I know there, breeds some for their own use. I have eaten rabbit all my life; I think it is a very good alternative to chicken and give us the chance to cook something different. It’s cheap to buy, easy to cook and delicious to eat. As an accompaniment to this dish I would recommend polenta.

 

SERVES 4 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 1 Rabbit (adult animal)
  • 75 g (3 oz) Lard
  • 50 g (2 oz) Butter
  • 2 Onions (medium size - thinly sliced)
  • 1 Celery stalk (thinly sliced)
  • 1 Clove of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 100 g Tomato passata
  • A small bunch of flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • 100 ml (4 fl oz) White wine
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz) White wine vinegar
  • 250 ml (1/2 Pint) Chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements): 

  • 1 Rabbit (adult animal)
  • 3 ounces Lard
  • 2 ounces Butter
  • 2 Onions (medium size - thinly sliced)
  • 1 Celery stalk (thinly sliced)
  • 1 Clove of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 3 1/2 ounces Tomato passata
  • A small bunch of flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • 6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) White wine
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) White wine vinegar
  • 16 tablespoons (1 cup) Chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning

 

Directions: 

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First of all, cut the rabbit into pieces. You should be able to cut the front and back legs without crunching any bones. Split bones are a nightmare when cooking rabbit, so try to cut the animal neatly. Keep the kidneys, liver and heart because these are the best parts to eat.

 

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Put the rabbit cuts into a large bowl filled with cold water. Add the vinegar into the water, then cover with cling film and refrigerate for one hour or so.

 

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At the same time, put kidneys, liver and heart into a small container and refrigerate.

 

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After about an hour, take the bowl out of the fridge, discard the water, rinse the rabbit cuts and finally pat them dry.

 

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Take a large sauté pan and start melting the lard together with the butter. At this stage, cook on a medium-high heat.

 

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When the fats start sizzling, add the onion and the celery into the pan (both thinly sliced).

 

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Sauté for 3-4 minutes, to give some colour.

 

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Add the rabbit cuts into the pan.

 

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Cook each side of the cuts for few minutes.

 

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Here, I am cooking the second side.

 

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Then, when both sides have achieved some colour, add the wine into the pan.

 

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A couple of minuets after the wine, add the tomato passata into the pan.

 

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Stir, so that the tomato passata is evenly distributed around the pan.

 

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Then, add only half of the stock available. Technically speaking you should not need any more stock; however if something goes wrong and you think that the pan content is getting too dry or slightly burnt, you still have some extra stock left.

 

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Season with salt.

 

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Season with black pepper.

 

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Turn the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for about 1 hour, turning the rabbit cuts every 20 minutes.

 

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Meanwhile, finely chop the parsley and garlic together.

 

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After the rabbit cuts have been cooking on low heat for 1 hour, add the parsley and garlic mix. Give the whole thing a good stir and continue cooking for another 10 minutes with the lid on.

 

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Once the 10 minutes have passed, add the kidneys, liver and heart into the pan. These need only 10 minutes to cook and you can do so without lid, so that we start to reduce the sauce to a thicker consistency.

 

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This is what you should get after about 90 minutes cooking.

 

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Plate the rabbit and serve. As I said, ideally I would serve this dish with polenta and, of course, a large glass of robust red wine.

 

Buon appetito!

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Fri, 01 Feb 2013 11:09:47 GMT http://www.italyum.com/meat-recipes/161-rabbit-emilia-romaga-style.html
Cooking with Frank Imbergamo http://www.italyum.com/videos/160-cooking-with-frank-imbergamo.html Mon, 21 Nov 2016 10:28:44 GMT http://www.italyum.com/videos/160-cooking-with-frank-imbergamo.html Beef stew with potatoes (Spezzatino con patate) http://www.italyum.com/meat-recipes/159-beef-stew-with-potatoes-spezzatino-con-patate.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1


Preparation: 15 mins
Cooking: 60-90 mins    
Difficulty: Easy

“Spezzatino con patate” is a beef stew, very common in Italy, especially in the north of the country. No one knows the origins of this dish. The spezzatino has some similarities, both with the Hungarian goulash and the French beef bourguignon; France, Italy and Hungary have all been interconnected for various reasons in the past (19th century), because of Napoleon invading the East or  because of the ambitions of the Austro-Hungarian empire who wanted to stretch towards the West. Northern Italy found itself invaded, and in the middle of these wars, and maybe it is here where we all shared something about this dish. In Italy, we use veal because it is the most tender meat and for this reason the dish does not require a long cooking time (between 45 and 60 minutes). If you use tough beef cuts, like beef shoulder for example, it could mean that you may need to cook the meat for some extra time (between 60 and 90 minutes). As usual, I like to cook my dishes with very few herbs, so for this recipe my choice is bay leaf. However, it would not be a mistake if you want to use sage or rosemary instead, but use just one of these. 

 

SERVES 4

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 900 g (2 lb) Cubed beef (shoulder)
  • 450 g (1 lb) Potatoes (medium size)
  • 1 Large onion (finely chopped)
  • 200 g (7 oz) Baby carrots (leave them whole)
  • 40 g (1 1/2 oz) Tomato purée (see the note below)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 Beef stock cube
  • Olive oil for the initial sauté
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning 
  • Some white flour for coating the meat

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements):

  • 32 ounces (2 pounds) Cubed beef (shoulder)
  • 16 ounces g (1 pound) Potatoes (medium size)
  • 1 Large onion (finely chopped)
  • 7 ounces Baby carrots (leave them whole)
  • 1 1/2 ounces Tomato purée (see the note below)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 Beef stock cube
  • Olive oil for the initial sauté
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning 
  • Some white flour for coating the meat

 

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Note: if you want the finished stew to be noticeably red, use 40 g (1 1/2 ounces) of tomato purée, otherwise, for a more pinkish finish, add just 25 g (3/4 ounce).

 

Directions:

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Remove the eye from the baby carrots with a small pairing knife. Then, if you don’t peel them (as I did), give them a good wash, scrub, rinse.

 

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Coat the meat cubes with flour.

 

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Take a frying pan, add little oil and sear the meat cubes on a high heat. Remember to shake the cubes before adding them into the pan, so that you get rid of the flour in excess.

 

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If you have lots of meat cubes to sear, it is preferable to do it in batches. Once the meat has achieved a nice brown colour on one side, it is time to turn the piece of meat. Try to sear all the sides of the piece of meat.

 

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The searing of the meat should take only few minutes. Use a tray to temporary accommodate the meat pieces once browned (they will stay on the tray only for few minutes).

 

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While you are searing the meat, make your stock dissolving the stock cube in 500 ml (2 1/8 cups) of boiling water.

 

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Take a large pan (I used a 28 cm - 11" wide aluminium sauté pan), put a splash of olive oil (with the oil, if you like, you can also add a tiny knob of butter) and sauté the onion on a medium heat.

 

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After the onions, add the baby carrots.

 

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Give it a good stir and sauté for a couple of minutes or so, without letting the onion to get too much colour.

 

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When the onions are lightly coloured, add the meat into the pan.

 

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Give it a gentle stir.

 

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Add about 400 ml (1 5/8 cup) of the hot stock into the pan and reserve the remaining 100 ml (1/2 cup) for later (in case the pan content gets too dry). We don't want to cover the meat completely with the stock.

  

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Next, add the tomato purée and gently stir.

 

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Add the bay leaves.

 

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Bring the heat to low and cover with a lid. Simmer for about 60 minutes and during this stage, if the meat looks too dry, feel free to add the remaining 100 ml (1/2 cup) of stock left.

 

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Next, wash-peel-wash and quarter the potatoes. Put them into a pan with lightly salted cold water.

 

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Put the pan onto a medium heat and when the water starts boiling, boil for 5 minutes.

 

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After 5 minutes boiling, drain the potatoes and set aside.

 

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Here is the spezzatino after 60 minutes simmering. Now, it is time to add the potatoes into the pan. Give a gentle stir, so that the potatoes are well mixed into the stew.

 

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Cover with a lid and continue simmering for another 30 minutes. As I said before, the overall cooking time could vary depending on what type of meat cuts you have been using. As a general guidance I suggest adding the potatoes in the last 30 minutes of the cooking.

 

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15 minutes before the end, I remove the lid and if there is still too much liquid into the pan, then finish the cooking without lid. However, once you add the potatoes, these will usually have a thickening effect. 

 

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At the same time, just about 15 minutes before the end, taste and correct the seasoning to your liking, by adding some salt.

 

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Then, season with black pepper.

 

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This is the spezzatino after 90 minutes cooking. I checked the meat and it was beautifully cooked and tender.

 

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In Italy, we serve the spezzatino with polenta and a nice glass of red bodied wine is a must.

 

Buon appetito!

 

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This is a picture I took when I was in Italy, last winter, at my parents house. It shows spezzatino with potatoes and the unmissable polenta.

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Wed, 30 Jan 2013 11:01:40 GMT http://www.italyum.com/meat-recipes/159-beef-stew-with-potatoes-spezzatino-con-patate.html
My seafood pizza http://www.italyum.com/pizza-recipes/158-my-seafood-pizza.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Dough preparation and rising: see the other pizza recipes in the website
Making the pizza base and topping it: about 5 mins
Cooking: 7-8 mins

Difficulty: Medium

Recently, many people have written to me and asked for more information on how to make a good home made pizza. In the past, I published an extensive step by step recipe for making pizza and I believe that recipe is still fundamental for those who are trying to make pizza for the first time or for those home cooks, with a bit more experience, who want to achieve a decent, thin and crispy result. At home, it is very difficult to replicate the same pizza you may have tasted in Italy, from a professional “pizzaiolo” (the pizza master) who used a wood burning oven for example (these ovens can achieve 450°C - 850°F temperature) and purposely selected pizza flour, but we can get very close to it if we follow some simple rules and apply some little tricks. Here, I give a list of things you should know before you attempt to make any pizza. This information is the result of years of experimenting to make pizza at home and from the many chats I had in Italy with the real professionals of the pizza.

FLOUR

In Italy, most of the pizza professionals use “00” flour, despite in the recent years there has been an increase in the use of purposely milled “0” flours. The term “00” type, or “0” or “1” is the Italian way to classify a flour and define its specific use. This classification gives you an idea of the ash content and protein content of the flour, see the chart below:

 Product  Max humidity  Minimum content of ash  Maximum content of ash Minimum content of proteins 
 Soft wheat flour type 00  14.5%  -  0.55%  9.00%
 Soft wheat flour type 0  14.5%  -  0.65%  11.00%
 Soft wheat flour type 1  14.5%  -  0.80%  12.00%
 Soft wheat flour type 2  14.5%  -  0.95%  12.00%
 Soft wheat wholemeal flour  14.5%  1.30%  1.7%  12.00%

 

The “00” flour is a very fine flour (50% extraction rate), however, there are many different “00” flours in the Italian market. More or less any flour mill in Italy makes an endless variety of “00” flours, to suit specific uses. So, how do we pick the right flour? 

In Italy, those who really aim for pizza excellence (especially the professionals of course) look for the W value (the flour strength) and the P/L ratio. If you want to know more about W and P/L, I have found this link very useful:

http://www.theartisan.net/flour_criteria_judging.htm

Now, as a general guidance to make pizza at home, use an Italian “00” type flour made from soft wheat, with a W value between 180 and 260, P/L ratio around 0.5 and a protein content between 10% and 12%.

Here, I am giving you an example of an Italian flour mill milling four types of “00” flour for pizza:

http://www.dallagiovanna.it/pizzas.html#menu

So, the next time you buy a “00” flour at the supermarket, remember that not all the “00” flours are the same. At the same time, in those countries where the flour is classified as soft, plain, strong and very strong, I suggest using plain flour (72% extraction rate) with protein content between 10% and 11% ( which is very close to the Italian “0” type). Strong and very strong flours are more appropriate for traditional bread making because of their higher protein content and I wouldn’t use them unless I have additional information like W, P/L, type of wheat (soft or hard) and extraction rate.

 

MAKING THE DOUGH

Use flour, water, yeast and a bit of olive oil. The ideal temperature for the pizza dough should be 22°C (73°F). Dough temperature is influenced by the  water temperature, the flour temperature and the ambient temperature, so here is the formula to work out the water temperature you need to prepare the dough:

Water temp. = Dough temp. x3 - (Ambient temp. + Flour temp.)

RAISING TIME

Most pizzerias prepare the dough in the morning, to be used in the evening. You can raise the dough for two hours if you are in a hurry but if you want the dough to develop flavour and texture, then you need longer fermentation time - let nature to do its job!

PIZZA BASE (dough weight)

When making the pizza base use a dough ball of roughly 180-200 g weight. This quantity is ideal for making a 30 cm (12") pizza base.

PIZZA BASE (thickness)

A traditional pizza base has to be very thin, to achieve quick cooking and a crispy finish. Remember, a thick pizza base, in a very hot oven, would require a longer time to cook and this could result in the burning of the topping.

TOMATO SAUCE

The best tomato base to use is “passatta di pomodoro”. To the passata, you can add some oregano and a splash of olive oil, if you want. Use a couple of tablespoons for a very large pizza and spread thinly to colour the base.

OVEN TEMPERATURE

If using a wood oven, the oven temperature should be between 350°C (650°F) and 400°C (750°F) and the cooking time should be 1-3 minutes.

If using a professional electric oven, the oven temperature should be between 280°C (550°F) and 320°C (600°F) and cooking time should be 3-4 minutes.

If using a home cooker oven, we know that we can rarely go above 240°C (465°F), so set the oven to this maximum temperature and cook for about 7-10 minutes. Always pre-heat the oven, to ensure baking the pizza straightaway at the right temperature.

The above times and temperatures can be affected by many factors, especially at home (i.e. temperature drops considerably is you open the oven door frequently or a conventional oven works differently from a fan assisted oven etc.).

 

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For my seafood pizza topping I used the following ingredients:

  • 1 Monkfish tail
  • Tiger prawns
  • Green olives (stoned)
  • Caper berries
  • Tomato passata
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Small plum or cherry tomatoes (dried) - see the note below.
  • Polenta or coarse semolina flour (this is for the pizza peel)

Note: for the pizza dough, check the other pizza recipes in the website.

 

Directions:

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When making pizza, you should avoid topping the pizza with fresh tomatoes because of their high juice content, that would inevitably make the pizza base soggy. The trick is to dry the tomato first.
Dry some little plum/cherry tomatoes in the oven. To do so, cut them in half, scoop the seeds out, lay the tomatoes onto a baking paper and dry them in the oven. The oven should be set at its lowest (around 100°C - 212°F) and the process should take a couple of hours. The tomatoes should not be completely dry; they should just retain a slight juiciness without risking the soaking of the pizza base.

 

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First and foremost, before you start, pre-heat the oven. Then, cut the monkfish tail into small pieces. Pat all the fish dry using kitchen paper.

 

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Sprinkle some polenta or coarse semolina flour onto the pizza peel. This will make the pizza disc slipping onto the pizza stone easier.

 

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Make the pizza base and dust the side that will be in contact with the pizza peel with a generous amount of flour.

 

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Move the pizza base onto the peel. I suggest doing it at this stage, when the base is not loaded with all the ingredients (if the pizza dough is too soft and sticky, you will have problem putting it onto the peel if loaded with the ingredients).

 

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Now, quickly spread the tomato sauce.

 

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Top the pizza base with the ingredients available.

 

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A final dash with olive oil all over the pizza. The picture shows the seafood pizza ready to be baked.

 

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Quickly open the oven and let the pizza slip onto the hot stone.

 

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And now bake for 7-8 minutes (this would apply for an electric fan assisted oven set to 230°C - 450°F) until the base looks golden in colour and achieve a crispy texture.

 

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Seafood pizza ready.

 

Buon appetito! 

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Sun, 27 Jan 2013 13:11:07 GMT http://www.italyum.com/pizza-recipes/158-my-seafood-pizza.html
Potato and cheese fry (Frico) http://www.italyum.com/specials/192-potato-and-cheese-fry-frico.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1


Preparation: 25 mins
Cooking: 15 mins    
Difficulty: Easy

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In the very North West corner of Italy, there is a village called “Camporosso in Val Canale”. The village is very close to the border with Austria and Slovenia; if you cannot find it on the map, then check for main town of Tarvisio, which is a couple of miles from Camporosso. About 40 years ago, when I was a little boy, that was my favourite place for summer holidays.

I spent considerable time there, especially during the school holidays. It is a very special place to me because it was where my grandmother lived. My grandmother and the Alps, an indelible association that has accompanied me for all of my life. If you want to have an idea of the place and its surrounds, just click on the following link: Camporosso & surrounds  where I have put some pictures for you. Nonna (grandmother) was a very caring person and also a very good cook; delivering the kind of cooking you can find in all grandmothers, I would say, characterised by wisdom and frugality. When I wanted to eat something special she knew that “frico” was the answer to my wish.

Frico is a typical dish made in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy.  A dish that comes in many different variations because, as I have said many times, Italians never agree on anything! Nearly everyone adjusts the frico recipe, to suit their own personal cooking style or follows their family tradition because that was what their mamma or nonna always did. The two fundamental ingredients for the frico recipe are potatoes and cheese. However in some parts of the region people like to add onion, some others like to throw an egg or two into the potatoes/cheese mix. I stick to my grandmother’s recipe; just potatoes and cheese. During the preparation of the recipe, I called my mum and asked if she remembers having frico when she was young. She said that her grandmother used to prepare frico for her and the dish was made of just potatoes and cheese; but if an extra mouth was to be fed, then an egg was required to increase the volume of the dish and if two extra mouths were to be fed, then the cheese crust would also end up in the plate! We are speaking of a time when food was scarce (WWII) and people had to make do with what they had. 

In recent years chefs have started to play around this recipe and instead of boiling the potatoes, as I do, they just grate the uncooked potatoes and carry on making the frico, like cooking a Swiss potato rösti.  Frico is not a potato rösti nor a fondue; it is simply something else. When I asked my mum about grating the uncooked potatoes she simply said that her grandmother never had a grater!  Then she made her point: my grandmother never had a potato masher and she used a fork instead! OK, I get the message....I replied to her on the phone!

Let’s speak about the cheese. For the frico I recommend using the type of cheese they made in that region, so we are speaking about Montasio cheese. Ideally, I would use half of the amount of cheese stated in the recipe, made of fresh Montasio (about 2 months old) and for the other half I would use a semi-aged Montasio (about 5 months old), otherwise use what you can get. In Camporosso we used to buy “formaggio latteria”, that some people call “formaggio di montagna” or “formaggio di malga”, a fresh cow’s milk cheese, very white in colour, soft and smooth in texture with a sweet finish. If you are lucky, you may find this type of cheese in an Italian deli shop or from a continental cheese importer.

If you cannot find Montasio, then look for Asiago cheese; it will work fine! If both these the types of cheese are unavailable to you, then look for mild cow’s milk cheese. Now, I am going to show you how to prepare this dish, which I devoured straight-away after its preparation, with some slices of sourdough bread I made last night and a glass of red wine.

 

SERVES 4

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 400 g (14 oz) Potatoes

  • 400 g (14 oz) Montasio cheese

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements):

  • 14 ounces Potatoes

  • 14 ounces Montasio cheese

 

Note 1: the  potato variety I used for this recipe is ROMANO. As a guidance, choose a potato variety with a slightly waxy texture.

Note 2: for this recipe we don’t need any fat (i.e. butter, olive oil etc.) because the fat provided by the melted cheese will be more than enough. We don’t need seasoning too, because the cheese itself will provide the right seasoning.

 

Directions:

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Fill a pan with cold water, add some salt and bring to the boil. Boil the potatoes until they are soft (if a fork can pass through them easily, then it means they are ready). Choose potatoes with more or less the same size so they will all be ready at the same time.

 

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While the potatoes are boiling, dice the cheese, roughly making 1 x 1 cm (3/8" x 3/8") dice.

 

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When the potatoes are ready, drain and leave them in a colander to cool down.

 

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Then, roughly mash them using a fork.....

 

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.....to achieve this.

 

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Take a wide frying pan, apply gentle heat and put the mashed potato into the pan.

 

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Pat the mashed potato with a spatula, to make a circle about 1 cm (3/8") thick. If it is 1 1/2 cm (5/8") thick it doesn’t matter! Leave the potato circle to cook on its own for about 3-4 minutes.

 

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Then, add the cheese dice, spreading it evenly. Don’t add all the cheese you have in one go because you may need only 350 g (12 1/2 ounces) instead of 400 g (14 ounces) stated in the recipe.

 

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After I spread the cheese dice around as shown in the picture, I press them down through the potato mash, with a spatula, so that they can get in contact with the bottom of the pan.

 

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The cheese will soon start to melt.

 

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With a spatula, go around the perimeter of the circle and fold the melted cheese toward the centre. Basically, we are trying to make a nice circular shape.

 

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After 5-10 minutes (it depends on the heat) the bottom of the circle should be golden in colour. You may be able to gently lift one side with the spatula to check the colour. Now it is time to turn the whole thing upside down, flipping it in the air like you would do with a frittata or an omelette.

 

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The picture shows the frico after the turn. You can also see the colour you should achieve. Some people like it a bit darker; nothing wrong with that, it is just a matter of personal taste, as long as you don’t burn it.

 

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Cook the second side for another 5-10 minutes until you achieve the same colour intensity as for the top side. At the same time, using a spatula, go around the perimeter to keep a nice circular shape.

 

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When the frico is ready, remove the pan from the heat  and let it cool down in the pan for few minutes so that it will hold its shape once you take it out of the pan. I turn it over a greaseproof or baking paper, then you can slice it and serve it with polenta or, as I did, with some sourdough bread.

 

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Finally, this is a picture I took in August 2008 during a family reunion in my grandmother’s house. To get there, I travelled from Scotland, where I now live, and it was a beautiful surprise to see that my aunt Oneglia didn’t forget about the frico. 

 

Buon appetito!

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Tue, 05 Mar 2013 11:02:55 GMT http://www.italyum.com/specials/192-potato-and-cheese-fry-frico.html
Passatelli in broth (Passatelli in brodo) http://www.italyum.com/specials/155-passatelli-in-broth-passatelli-in-brodo.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking: 2 mins

Difficulty: Medium

In my opinion this recipe is the work of a genius! There’s nothing that could give you a better example of how Italians can reinterpret recipes, just changing the method you process the ingredients rather than changing the ingredients. A while ago I published a great recipe called “zuppa pavese”, whose bulk ingredients were bread, egg and Parmesan cheese. Pavese comes from Pavia, a beautiful city south of Milan. Now, just move 300 km East, in the Romagna region of Italy, and you have the same bulk ingredients, processed in a different way, to make this wonderful dish called “passatelli”. Passatelli (plural word) means literally “to pass them through”, which recalls the act of making them using a kind of potato press specifically designed for passatelli. Passatelli are usually eaten “in brodo” (with stock), but can also be eaten dry, topped with a “ragu’ di carne” (meat sauce) or “ragu’ di pesce” (a sauce made with fish). The recipe belongs to the “cucina povera” (the cooking of the poor people), when people used to make ends meet with what they have got and where inventiveness played a big role to make the dishes more attractive. I got the recipe during a recent trip to Italy, in Romagna, where I also managed to speak with the locals and understands the variation on the theme you may find from family to family.

SERVES 4

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 200 g (7 oz) Breadcrumbs (from stale bread)
  • 200 g (7 oz) Grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg
  • Lemon zest from a 1/4 of the lemon
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Approx 3 litres of chicken stock  

 

Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 7 ounces Breadcrumbs (from stale bread)
  • 7 ounces Grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • Lemon zest from a 1/4 of the lemon
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Approx 12 1/2 cups of chicken stock

 

Note 1: breadcrumbs should be made using stale bread that has become hard enough to be grated. Use bread that has been made without the adding of olive oil, otherwise you will end up with baby food once the passatelli are put into the boiling stock.

Note 2: when in Italy, I have found out that some people, especially restaurants, add some flour to keep the passatelli mixture together. Purists told me that adding flour is a short-cut for those who cannot make passatelli or for restaurants that cannot afford having problem with the mixture, just minutes before the service. 

 

Directions:

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First, reduce the bread in fine breadcrumbs and grate the Parmesan cheese.

 

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Break the eggs into a large bowl.

 

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Season with salt.

 

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Season with pepper.

 

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Whisk the eggs for few seconds and set the bowl apart.

 

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Then, take a second bowl and add the breadcrumbs into it.

 

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Add the nutmeg.

 

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Stir to evenly distribute the nutmeg.

 

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Add the Parmesan cheese.

 

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Add the lemon zest.

 

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Stir to evenly combine all the ingredients. I will call this mixture “dry mix”.

 

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Gradually, add the dry mix to the eggs. Stir with a wooden spoon while doing so.

 

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Once all the eggs have been absorbed into the dry mix, start working the mixture with your hands.

 

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It’s a bit like working a pasta dough with your hands. Work the dough for few minutes, until you think all the ingredients are well combined.

 

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The final result should be a compact ball, slightly harder than a pasta dough.

 

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Wrap the ball with cling film. This will help to retain the moisture, while you are getting ready for the next stages. 

 

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Don’t put the ball in the fridge; just leave it in a cool place for the time necessary to get ready with the tool to make the passatelli and also to prepare the stock in which you will cook them.

 

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This is the tool you need. It’s a kind of potato press, but with wider holes approx 5 mm (3/16") in diameter. In Romagna region of Italy, locals use a different  traditional tool called “ferro per passatelli” that does the same job. Now, there are two schools of thought: one that says to make the passatelli and let them dry onto a working surface before throwing them into the boiling stock and one that says to press the passatelli directly over the boiling stock and let them fall straight into the boiling stock. I will describe both.

 

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Unwrap the ball, and make a couple of smaller balls with it, so that they can easily fit inside the tool for passatelli.

 

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Press all the balls through the tool and cut the passatelli when they are about 4 cm (1 3/4") long.

 

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Gently, separate them over a working surface so that they dry evenly and let them dry for an hour or two depending on the ambient temperature. I found it useful to dry them onto a parchment paper, so that when it is time to put them into the pan, I let them slide directly from the paper.

 

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Meanwhile, you should have prepared your chicken stock. Besides this, I also prepared a ragu’ di carne, to show the dry version of this dish.

 

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Bring the stock to a gentle boil, put the dried passatelli into the pan and then lower the heat to a simmerring point. The passatelli will be ready when they are all afloat. Leave them into the pan for an extra minute and then take them out with a slotted spoon.

 

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Serve the passatelli in a bowl filled with the same stock you used to cook the passatelli.

 

Buon appetito!

 

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These are the passatelli in their dry version, topped with a ragu’ di carne.

 

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Here, the picture shows the second method of making passastelli. Press them through, directly over the pan and when they are about 4 cm (1 3/4") long, cut them with a knife. I have found this method less forgiving because if you don’t get the right consistency of the ball mixture, the risk is that they will break once in contact with the boiling stock (this is why some people add flour into the mixture). For this method, you may have to try it few times before you nail it.

 

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Tue, 05 Mar 2013 10:30:32 GMT http://www.italyum.com/specials/155-passatelli-in-broth-passatelli-in-brodo.html
Sicilian cannoli (Cannoli siciliani) http://www.italyum.com/dessert-recipes/190-sicilian-cannoli13.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Web Photo 1

 

Preparation: 1 hour 
Cooking (frying): 20-30 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

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I have kept this recipe in the store for a while before deciding to publish it;  I wanted to get things right and some research was necessary. Sicilian cannoli (cannoli siciliani) is one of the most classic desserts from Sicily and every Sicilian family who emigrated abroad in the early 1900’s, took great care to have the recipe in their pocket! Wherever you go in the world, if you find a Sicilian family, then you can be sure they know how to make cannoli. During my research, I came across many variations on the theme, as always happens in Italy. Many times, when I published my recipes, I told people that in Italy the same recipe could change from province to province, town to town and even from civic number to civic number; that’s Italy, we cannot help adapting recipes! However, here I will give you some background information about the cannoli and then the recipe, which I believe to be one of the closest to the Sicilian tradition. In the past, the cannoli were made during the time of carnival (in the same way in North Italy people make frittelle di carnevale), but very soon the cannoli took a more commercial approach and nowadays you can find them anywhere in Sicily, all year round. Cannoli also come in different sizes; some are really huge and probably one of them is enough to fill you up, others comes in a medium size (like the ones I made for this recipe) and in some pastry shops you can even find a very small version, I would say morsel size. Traditionally, the cannoli filling is made using fresh sheep milk ricotta cheese, mixed with candies and other ingredients (see the recipe), but you might have some problem finding sheep milk ricotta because it is not a very common thing to find in the supermarket. If you are lucky enough to have a supplier of sheep milk ricotta, then buy it, otherwise buy the more common cow milk ricotta which will deliver a milder flavour. For those who don’t like the cheesy taste of the ricotta, then you might try a different filling like ice cream (really delicious) or creme patissiere. About the dough to make the cannoli shells (scorze), originally it was made mixing flour with “mosto cotto” (cooked grape must) or alternatively dry white wine. The use of marsala wine came only later in these modern times, when it was made economically more available and people could afford to buy it. To fry the cannoli shells, in Sicily there are many people still using a piece of cane, where you wrap the dough disc around. If you cannot get these pieces of canes, then use metal cannoli tubes, as I did. These are available on the internet and they are roughly 12 cm long with a diameter of 2.5-3 cm. Now, last but not least, the rule of thumb is to keep the cannoli filling in the fridge and to fill the cannoli shorlty before consumption otherwise the shells will become soggy. Empty shells can keep well for 2 or 3 days if you keep them in a tin box like you may do for biscuits. Having said so, now let’s start to make this delicious dessert on our own.

 

MAKES 35 CANNOLI  

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Ingredients for the cannoli shells (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 300 g (11 oz) Plain flour
  • 20 g (3/4 oz) Caster sugar
  • 20 g (3/4 oz) Pork lard
  • 1 tsp Cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp Ground coffee (alternatively, use a pinch of cinnamon)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 160ml (slightly more than 1/4 pint) Dry white wine
  • 1 Egg white (for brushing)

 

Ingredients for the cannoli shells (U.S. measurements): 

  • 2 cups Plain flour (unsifted)
  • 2/3 ounce Caster sugar
  • 2/3 ounce Pork lard
  • 1 teaspoon Cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground coffee (alternatively, use a pinch of cinnamon)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 10 tablespoons (5/8 cup) Dry white wine
  • 1 Egg white (for brushing)

 

Ingredients for the filling (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 700 g (1 1/2 lb) Sheep milk ricotta (alternatively, use cow milk ricotta)
  • 275 g (10 oz) Icing sugar + some extra for dusting
  • 75 g (3 oz) Mixed candied citrus peel
  • 75 g (3 oz) Candied cherries
  • 75 g (3 oz) 70% Dark chocolate
  • 25 g (1 oz) Whole shelled pistachios (alternatively, use ground pistachios) 
  • 2 lt. Groundnut oil for frying (alternatively use vegetable oil)

 

Ingredients for the filling (U.S. measurements):

  • 25 ounces (1 pound 9 ounces) Sheep milk ricotta (alternatively, use cow milk ricotta)
  • 9 1/2 ounces Confectioners' sugar + some extra for dusting
  • 2 /12 ounces Mixed candied citrus peel
  • 2 1/2 ounces Candied cherries
  • 2 1/2 ounces 70% Dark chocolate
  • 1 ounce Whole shelled pistachios (alternatively, use ground pistachios) 
  • 2 quarts Groundnut oil for frying (alternatively use vegetable oil)

 

Note: traditionally the cannoli shells were fried in pork lard, but nowadays it is more convenient (and less messy) to use common frying oils like groundnut or vegetable oil. The only recommendation I have, if using groundnut oil, is to check that nobody is allergic to it.

 

Directions: 

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Sieve the flour, together with a pinch of salt, the cocoa powder and the ground coffee.

 

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Add the caster sugar.

 

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Rub in the lard, so that it is evenly distributed within the flour.

 

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Add the wine, a little at a time while stirring with the wooden spoon. For this recipe I have used exactly 160 ml of wine, but depending on the flour you are going to use, you may need a bit less or a little bit more.

 

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After the initial stirring with the wooden spoon, transfer the dough onto a working surface and knead until you achieve a smooth and elastic consistency (I would say, very similar to pasta dough).

 

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This is the dough ball after 5 minutes kneading.

 

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Wrap the ball with cling film and put it in the fridge for 30-40 minutes.

 

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Meanwhile, we prepare the cannoli filling. You can pass all your ricotta cheese through a wide mesh sieve (with the help of the wooden spoon) or, as I did, through a mouli.

 

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Place the mouli over a large bowl, so that you can collect all the processed ricotta cheese passing through the bottom grating disc.

 

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Then, add 275 g (9 1/2 ounces) of icing sugar.

 

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Combine the ricotta and sugar by giving the mixture a good stir.

 

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Add the candied citrus peel and the chocolate. Chocolate should be chopped, so that you have many little pieces roughly of the dimension 2 x 2 mm (1/16" x 1/16"). Do not reduce the chocolate into fine powder, otherwise the whole mixture will become brown and it will not look nice when we will complete the cannoli with the final decoration.

 

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Give the mixture a good stir.

 

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Cover the bowl with cling film and place it in the fridge until later, when it is time to fill the cannoli.

 

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Now, we start to make the cannoli shells. A pasta machine is ideal for the job because you can reduce the dough in 2 mm (1/16") thick sheets in a matter of few minutes. Alternatively, use a rolling pin. 

 

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Divide the dough on for equal parts.

 

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Pass each dough through the pasta machine roller, starting from the wider settings and keep going until you reach a 2 mm (1/16") thickness (with my machine I stopped at gauge 3). Remember to dust the dough with a bit of flour when passing it through the rollers, otherwise it will stick to them.

 

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Lay the dough sheets over a working surface.

 

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Take an 88 mm diameter cookie cutter (3 1/2"); use its plain side. Dip it in the flour (it will give a neat cut) and proceed to the next step.

 

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Cut as many discs as you can. Do not throw the left over sheet, but re-knead it and pass it again through the pasta machine to make more sheets.

 

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With 300 g (10 1/2 ounces) of flour I managed to make 35 discs. 

 

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Take the cannoli tubes and coat their external side with a little oil or lard. You need to do it only once, at the start, because after they will be lubricated anyway by the oil during the frying stage.

 

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The discs should be wrapped around the cannoli tubes with the extremities overlapping a bit. If the extremities are not overlapping, then gently press the discs with a rolling pin, so that they will have an oval shape. This way the extremities will easily overlap.

 

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Place the tube in the centre of the disc.

 

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Brush a little of egg white on one side of the disc and then bring the other side of the disc over, so that they stick together. Also, gently press the overlapped area with your finger so that the two parts are well joined together.

 

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With three cannoli tubes I managed to fry all the shells (ideally you should fry two shells at a time).

 

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Heat the oil until it reaches 180°C (355°F).

 

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Now we fry the cannoli shells.

 

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If you manage to keep the temperature of the oil around 180°C (355°F), it should not take more than 2 - 2 1/2 minutes to achieve a nice golden brown colour.

 

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Once they are ready, take the cannoli shells out of the pan.

 

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Place them onto kitchen paper to absorb the oil in excess.

 

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Squeeze the tubes with one hand and with the other push the cannoli shells out. The tubes are open all along their length so that they act like a spring when you squeeze them. Here, you may need a kitchen towel or gloves to protect your fingers because the tubes will be very hot.

 

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Repeat the procedure until you have fried all the discs.

 

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As I wrote in the introduction, fill the cannoly shorlty before consumption otherwise the shells would become soggy.

 

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Use the candied cherries and the pistachios to decorate your cannoli and finally, dust them with icing sugar.

Enjoy this special treat with a nice cup of Italian expresso coffee!

 

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Fri, 15 Feb 2013 10:37:53 GMT http://www.italyum.com/dessert-recipes/190-sicilian-cannoli13.html
Dinner in Lazio http://www.italyum.com/videos/150-dinner-in-lazio.html {youtube}8L6rc4GJNnw{/youtube}

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Tue, 24 Jul 2012 13:47:46 GMT http://www.italyum.com/videos/150-dinner-in-lazio.html
Mixed boiled meats (Bollito misto cremonese) http://www.italyum.com/meat-recipes/181-mixed-boiled-meats-6.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1 


Preparation: 30 mins
Cooking: 3 - 3 ½ hours    
Difficulty: Easy

This is one of the classics from Lombardy region of Italy and it is about boiling different type of meats and serving them with salsa verde and mostarda cremonese. A rustic dish with no fuss and lots of flavour, which is a very popular choice for those who live around Cremona, a beautiful city set along the river Po’ and famous for the torrone (nougat) and for the many workshops of the violin makers you can find around the city. Cremona is a real gourmet treat location, where you will be able to taste proper, North Italian traditional food (marubini in brodo is another speciality of Cremona).
It is worth a visit if you happen to be around there, especially in November where you can have the chance to attend the torrone festival. 
Now, coming back to our bollito misto (mixed boiled meats), to make a Gran bollito cremonese (wich is different from other recipes like the Gran bollito piemontese for example) you need at least 5 different types of meat, which will have a different boiling time of course, so you need to start with the pieces of meat that take longer to cook. When preparing a good bollito misto we need to remember that we cannot have great flavourful meat and exceptionally good stock at the same time. If you want a good stock you need to put the meat in the pan when the water is still cold, but the meat at the end will not have much flavour. For a perfect bollito misto you need the meat to retain most of its juices and flavour so it is important to drop the meat into the pan when the water is boiling. Then, bring the water to a simmering point and cook for the required time, skimming the surface regularly so that we get rid of the scum that comes afloat. For simplicity, I will show you how to cook only one piece of meat and how to prepare the salsa verde. Then, I will give you a list of possible meat choices so that you can pick up your five favourites to complete your bollito misto. Last but not least, this is about traditional and simple Italian cooking so please don’t make it complicated adding alien vegetables to flavour the boiling water; in Italy we mainly use onion, carrot and celery (leek and bouquet garni have nothing to do with this recipe and are more relevant to the French cuisine).

 

SERVES 4  

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Ingredients: 

  • 1 Ox tongue (it will require roughly 3 to 3 1/2  hours simmering)
  • 1 Onion (studded with 3-4 cloves)
  • 2 Carrots
  • 2 Celery stalks (leave some leaves on them)
  • Salt for seasoning
  • Serve with salsa verde and mostarda di Cremona (see below)

 

Ingredients for the salsa verde (Metric & imperial measurements): 

  • 20 g (3/4 oz) Flat parsley leaves (you need a big bunch of flat leaf parsley)
  • 4 Anchovy fillets
  • 1/2 Clove of garlic (pureed - use a knife with large blade)
  • 5 Little gherkins (alternatively 1 tbs of capers)
  • 1 Small potato - pureed (alternatively 1 egg yolk - cooked and pureed)
  • 1/2 Onion (very finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp White wine vinegar
  • 120 ml (4 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil, but keep some extra at hand
  • Freshly grated black pepper for seasoning

 

Ingredients for the salsa verde (U.S. measurements): 

  • 3/4 ounce Flat parsley leaves (you need a big bunch of flat leaf parsley)
  • 4 Anchovy fillets
  • 1/2 Clove of garlic (pureed - use a knife with large blade)
  • 5 Little gherkins (alternatively 1 tbs of capers)
  • 1 Small potato - pureed (alternatively 1 egg yolk - cooked and pureed)
  • 1/2 Onion (very finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon White wine vinegar
  • 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) Extra virgin olive oil, but keep some extra at hand
  • Freshly grated black pepper for seasoning

 

Note: with the ingredients in the above list you can make enough salsa verde for 4 to 6 persons.

 

For the mostarda di Cremona:

You can buy the mostarda di Cremona in any Italian deli shop

 

In the past all the different meats were put in the same huge pan at different stages according to their cooking time; however it is more practical to have two or three separate pans. Each pan should be filled with water, lightly seasoned with salt and in each pan add one onion (studded with of cloves), two carrots and two celery stalk. Another reason why it is better to use different pans is because at the end you have the option to use some stock from the pan to finish the dish and usually the stock we use to complete the dish is from the pan where we boiled the beef and the hen. A second pan could be used for the ox tongue and veal cheeks, whose stock can be used for other preparation in you like, and a third pan will be used to boil the cotechino sausage; for this latter we will discard the water and if you are using a pre-cooked cotechino/zampone you can also avoid putting flavouring vegetables in the water because a pre-cooked cotechino will cook in 30 minutes and usually is vacuum packed, so it is not worth putting anything other than water in the pan.

Here below I am giving you a list of possible choices to complete the serving. It is worth preparing the bollito misto if you have between 8-12 guests, so chose the meat pieces according to the number of people to be served. Besides each meat choice I am also giving you the approximate boiling time, but be aware that boiling time can vary according the meat piece size and type.

Ox tongue (fresh): 3 to 3 ½ hours
Veal tongue (fresh): 2 to 2 ½ hours
Pig’s trotter: 3 hours
Beef brisket (roughly 1.5 Kg - 3 pounds 5 ounces): 3 to 3 ½ hours
Veal silverside (roughly 1.5 - 3 pounds 5 ounces): 3 hours
Boiling hen (roughly 2 kg - 4 pounds 7 ounces): 2 to 2 ½ hours
Veal’s cheek: 2 to 2 ½ hours
Pre-cooked cotechino sausage or zampone: 30 minutes (see at the end of the recipe for more information)

 

Directions: 

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Preapare the vegetables and cut the carrot and celery as shown in the picture. Leave the onion whole and stud it with 4 cloves.

 

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Fill a big stock pan with cold water. The water should be enough to cover the meat you are going to put into the pan. Add very little salt to the water, just a couple of teaspoon of salt; this is because the real final seasoning stage of the stock will be done at the end, after the meat has boiled thoroughly. Using too much salt at the start will spoil the stock because at the end you may end up with a very salty stock.

 

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Add all the vegetables into the cold water and bring to the boil.

 

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When the water has reached boiling point, immerse the ox tongue into it.

 

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The ox toungue should be fully immersed into the water. Adding the tongue into the water, will cool the water down, so bring quickly the water back to the boiling point and leave to boil for about a minute or so.

 

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Then, bring the heat to very low, and set the water to a simmering point. Simmer for 3 hours and, if necessary, add boiling water as the liquid reduces.

 

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Meanwhile, we can prepare the salsa verde. The picture shows the ingredients listed at the start.

 

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Reduce the garlic to a purée  consistency. An easy way to do it, is by working the garlic against the chopping board with the side of a large blade.

 

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Next, place the salsa verde ingredients onto a chopping board, with the exception of the small potato which should be boiled first.

 

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Peel the potato and boil it until soft.

 

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Meanwhile, have a look at the big pan and remove any scum that comes afloat. Remove the scum regularly so that you keep the liquid clear.

 

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Here, the picture shows when I am adding some boiling water from the kettle. This was after 2 hours simmering, when the liquid started to go below the ox tongue. Add just enough water to keep the meat covered.

 

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Once the potato has boiled, chop all the ingredients, including the potato.

 

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It’s a work of patience, so take your time and finely chop everything. I prefer not to use a food processor because I don’t want a pulp.

 

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Add the olive oil and if you think that the salsa looks too dry, then add some extra oil, so that you achieve a smooth consistency.

 

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Add a teaspoon of white vinegar.

 

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Season with black pepper, just a hint. Don’t add salt; you will see why later.

 

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Stir and set aside for a later stage.

 

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A few minutes before serving the salsa verde with the meat, warm the salsa with a bain marie.

 

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Now, it’s time to deal with the mostarda di Cremona. For those who have never heard about mostarda, this is made of candied fruit preserved in a mustard flavoured syrup. It is very hot and in Italy it is served with mixed boiled meat (but it also good with a selection of hard cheese).

 

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Put the mostarda into a small dish, then with the help of a fork and knife, cut the fruits into small pieces.

 

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I like to leave the cherries whole because they help with presentation.

 

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Divide the fruits into small dishes (I personally choose to have one dish for every two persons), add some of the syrup from the original mostarda jar and set aside.

 

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After 3 hours simmering, take the ox tongue out of the pan and place it onto a working surface.

 

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Using a small knife, remove the skin off the ox tongue.

 

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The picture shows the ox tongue with the skin completely removed.

 

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Return the ox tongue into the pan and simmer for another 30 minutes.

 

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This is the ox tongue after 3 1/2 hours simmering.

 

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Slice the ox tongue with a carving knife. Slices can be about 6 mm (1/4") thick.

 

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Finally, lay the slices on a warm plate and serve with salsa verde, mostarda Cremonese and also some salt flakes you can scatter over your slices after having put some salsa verde.

Alternativley, you can serve the meat in a deep dish, with a couple of ladles of its stock, or you can use the stock to make a starter minestrone, just adding some canned chickpeas and crashing by hand some dry pasta sheets (the ones used to make lasagne), then boil the pasta until cooked and that's it.

 

Buon appetito!

 

 

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Let’s have a chat about cotechino sausages. You can find some pre-cooked varieties in most of the Italian deli shops and, as I said before, it just takes around 30 minutes to cook them.

 

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Usually,pre-cooked cotechino sausages (or zampone) come in a vacuumed pack and most of the time you put the whole pack straightaway into the boiling water (anyway, always read the cooking instruction written on the box).

 

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In Italy, when processing pork meat, we use everything from the pork, and beyond the usual preparation of salame, pancetta, coppa etc. we also make a type of salame that can be boiled.
If you have the chance of visiting Cremona, or any area around it (like Crema, Piacenza or Brescia) I would try to get one “salame da pentola” from the local butchers and ask the butcher how long it has to boil for because it depends on the size and on what they put inside. For example, in Brescia, you can find the “osso di stomaco”, a variety that belongs to the cotechino/salame family and usually it needs to boil for 2 hours.  A good “salame da pentola”, is a real treat and it would make your bollito misto a great feast.

 

 

 

 

 

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Wed, 30 Jan 2013 15:47:55 GMT http://www.italyum.com/meat-recipes/181-mixed-boiled-meats-6.html
Tortellini bolognesi (Italian and English) http://www.italyum.com/videos/147-tortellini-bolognesi-italian-and-english.html These videos from youtube show how to make tortellini and cappelletti. Cappelletti are similar to tortellini and they come in a smaller size than tortellini. The cappeletti filling can vary depending on the area (Bologna, Mantova, Ferrara, Modena) and they are usually served with broth.  

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Mon, 21 Nov 2016 10:25:51 GMT http://www.italyum.com/videos/147-tortellini-bolognesi-italian-and-english.html
Fresh egg Tagliatelle (Italian and English) http://www.italyum.com/videos/146-fresh-egg-tagliatelle-italian-and-english.html  These videos from youtube will give you a very good idea about how to make fresh tagliatelle, using a rolling pin. This traditional method is very popular in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy and the traditional way to eat tagliatelle is to top them with a good ragu` sauce (in Italy there's no such thing as spaghetti bolognese!). Buy a long rolling pin (120 cm long), some "00" flour , eggs (one medium egg every 100 g of flour) and give it a go!

 

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Mon, 21 Nov 2016 10:24:46 GMT http://www.italyum.com/videos/146-fresh-egg-tagliatelle-italian-and-english.html
Pizza with Antonino Esposito (Italian) http://www.italyum.com/videos/145-pizza-with-antonino-esposito-italian.html Antonino Esposito, from Salerno, is regarded as the pizza maestro. These videos from youtube are in italian, but you can still catch the main points (or secrets) for a real pizza.  

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Sun, 17 Jun 2012 20:46:52 GMT http://www.italyum.com/videos/145-pizza-with-antonino-esposito-italian.html
Italian chefs in Hong Kong (English) http://www.italyum.com/videos/144-italian-chefs-in-hong-kong-english.html Here is a good video from youtube, about Italian chefs in Hong Kong. The video gives a good idea about the professinalism of Italian chefs around the world.  

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Sun, 17 Jun 2012 20:46:52 GMT http://www.italyum.com/videos/144-italian-chefs-in-hong-kong-english.html
Marinated sardine fillets (Sardoncini marinati) http://www.italyum.com/specials/142-marinated-sardine-fillets.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Preparation time: 20 mins
Cooking: 3-4 mins

Difficulty: Easy

The name of the recipe is “Sardoncini marinati”, a typical recipe from the Adriatico sea coast. I tasted the recipe for the first time during a recent visit to Cesenatico, where my gourmet friend Ernesto prepared it form me. In Italy, during the sardine season, people buy the fresh sardines from their local fishmonger and then they fillet the fish and leave the fillets immersed in vinegar overnight, putting the container in the fridge. With the vinegar some people like to add a bay leaf and a clove of garlic. The day after, they rinse the fillets under fresh water and complete the marinate as per following instruction. I have skipped the first stage (filleting the sardines and leaving them immersed in vinegar overnight) because, unless you have the chance to buy fresh sardines from a reputable supplier, I wouldn’t go for that road. I prefer to play safe and use canned sardines or even jarred anchovy fillets as I did for this recipe. In fact, my family preferred the anchovy version of this recipe. It is an excellent quick-fix lunch.

 

SERVES 4 PERSONS AS STARTER 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 3 Medium size red onions
  • Jarred anchovy fillets
  • Canned sardine fillets
  • 60ml (2 fl oz) Red wine vinegar 
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • A small bunch of flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements): 

  • 3 Medium size red onions
  • Jarred anchovy fillets
  • Canned sardine fillets
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) Red wine vinegar 
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • A small bunch of flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning

 

Directions: 

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Finely chop the parsley and set it aside.

 

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Slice the onions, making 2 mm (1/16") thick slices.

 

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Put the onions inside a pan with fast boiling water.

 

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Leave the onions to boil for 3 or 4 minutes. This will tenderise the onion and also will help to take away part of their strong flavour.

 

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After 3 or 4 minutes of boiling, refresh the onion under cold water (to stop them cooking), then drain them.

 

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Put the onions in a large container to rest.

 

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Next, take as many sardine or anchovy fillets (I used both) as you like and lay them down onto kitchen paper.

 

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Gently pat them with kitchen paper to remove excess oil from the jar or can (usually sunflower oil).

 

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Take a deep dish and generously pour in some good quality extra virgin olive oil.

 

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I have two dishes because one is for the anchovy fillets and one for the sardine fillets.

 

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Now, spread the onions into the dishes.

 

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In each dish add 30 ml (1/8 cup) of red wine vinegar.

 

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Add few drops of good quality balsamic vinegar into the dishes.

 

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Season with pepper.

 

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Season with salt.

 

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Add the fillets into the dishes.

 

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Garnish with parsley.

 

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Using two large spoons, gently mix all the ingredients. If using sardine fillets, be very gentle and try not to break them. The picture shows the oval dish with the sardine fillets and the square one with anchovy fillets.

 

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I like to serve this dish on grilled slices of Italian country loaf.

 

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Finally, a “crostone” (large slice of grilled bread) topped with the recipe.

 

Buon appetito!

 

 

 

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Tue, 05 Mar 2013 10:10:51 GMT http://www.italyum.com/specials/142-marinated-sardine-fillets.html
Fried dough parcels (Gnocco fritto) http://www.italyum.com/specials/193-fried-dough-parcels-gnocco-fritto.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Gnocco fritto

Preparation: 2 hours
Cooking: 5 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

This is another delicacy from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, the homeland of tagliatelle and piadina bread. Gnocco fritto can have many different names depending on the province, so you may find that it is also called “torta fritta” (Parma) or “chisulino” (Piacenza). In north Italy it is quite common to have it as “antipasto” (starter), but increasing the quantity it can also serve for lunch. It is very easy to prepare and like piadina bread, you can have it with any sort of sliced cured pork meat (salame, pancetta, coppa, mortadella, culatello, prosciutto crudo, prosciutto cotto) or soft cheese (crescenza, stracchino, mozzarella, gorgonzola). I used to eat gnocco fritto in those old trattorias along the river Po`, during hot summer evenings, and of course you couldn’t have it without half a litre of vino della casa.....

 

SERVES 4 PERSONS AS STARTER

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 300 g (11 oz) Plain flour
  • 30 g (1 oz) Pork lard
  • 15 g (1/2 oz) Fresh yeast
  • 4 g (1 tsp) Salt
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) tepid water (alternatively use 50% semi-skimmed milk and 50% water)
  • Sunflower oil for deep frying 

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements):

  • 2 cups Plain flour (unsifted)
  • 1 ounce Pork lard
  • 1/2 ounce Fresh yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 10 tablespoons (5/8 cup) tepid water (alternatively use 50% semi-skimmed milk and 50% water)
  • Sunflower oil for deep frying 

 

Directions:

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Put the flour onto a working surface and make a little well. Put the pork lard in the centre of the well, then add the salt to the flour and finally dissolve the yeast into the glass of tepid water before adding the water to the flour. Mix everything together using your hands and work the dough for 10 minutes.

 

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Using your hands will help melt the lard so that it evenly mixes with the other ingredients. The dough’s consistency should be the same as for pizza or bread dough.

 

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Once the dough is ready, put it into a container and cover with a kitchen cloth or film and let it to rise for a couple of hours.

 

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After two hours the dough will have doubled its size. Now, it’s time to put it back onto the working surface. Spread a bit of flour onto the working surface so that the dough will not stick to it during the following stage.

 

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Using the rolling pin, make a large disc roughly 5 mm (3/16") thick.

 

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Then, using a pastry wheel, cut some rectangles, size 10 x 8 cm (4" x 3 1/4") and don’t be worried if you get some with different sizes, like 10 x 6 cm (4" x 2 1/2") or 10 x 7 cm (4" x 2 3/4"); it will work whichever way you do it. Also, if you want diamonds or squares instead of rectangles, make yourself at home!

 

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Here we have a closeup picture of my rectangles. If you have small pieces left around the perimeter of the disc, with awkward shapes, keep them because they will work fine.

 

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Meanwhile, you should have started to heat the oil up and here we need really hot oil. I suggest using sunflower oil at 180-190°C (355-375°F). A deep fat fryer would be a safer option, also because it would be easier to control the temperature).

 

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The best thing to do is to fry one or two rectangles at a time so that the oil doesn’t drop its temperature.

 

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When you drop the rectangle into the hot oil you will see that it will stay in the bottom of the pan for just few seconds, then it will float and after few seconds again, it will inflate. Then, fry each side until they are golden in colour. Usually, it takes 30-40 seconds per side, if fried at 190°C (375°F), but it could be less if the temperature of the oil goes up, so stick to the golden colour thing rather than time.

 

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This is the rectangle floating.

 

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This is the rectangle inflating.

 

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This is when the bottom side has been frying for about 40 seconds and now I am turning the gnocco on the other side.

 

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This is the gnocco once turned and nearly ready to be taken out. Keep frying all your rectangles and put them into a large container where you have previously laid some kitchen paper. Also, see the video below.

 

 

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Job finished! Now, take the cured meat or cheese and enjoy the gnocco fritto.

 

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An easy way to eat the gnocco fritto is to put the meat or cheese in the centre of the gnocco and fold the gnocco on itself.

 

Buon appetito!

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Mon, 13 Jun 2016 13:51:44 GMT http://www.italyum.com/specials/193-fried-dough-parcels-gnocco-fritto.html
Bread and egg soup (Zuppa alla Pavese) http://www.italyum.com/specials/194-bread-and-egg-soup15.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Bread and egg soup 

Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking: 2 mins

Difficulty: Easy

Zuppa alla Pavese is a soup made with stock, bread and eggs. Despite the simplicity of the ingredients, this soup is regarded as a real delicacy and I totally agree with this opinion. The recipe comes from Pavia, a city not far from Milan, and it seems that it was invented by a farmer during the time of the “la battaglia di Pavia” in 1525 (the battle of Pavia). The legend says that the king of France, Francis I, lost the battle against the emperor Charles V, and tired and wounded found refuge in a farm where he was served with this soup. Whether the legend is true or false, it doesn’t matter; certainly the recipe is very old and probably traces back to a few centuries ago, when wars and plagues made the food scarce and people were forced to cook with what they had. It’s a very nourishing soup that I usually prepare for lunch during cold weather.    

 

SERVES 1 

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Ingredients: 

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Large slice of bread
  • 1 Beef stock cube (to be dissolved in 3/4 pint - 1 3/4 cups of boiling water)
  • Enough Parmesan cheese (grated) for a generous sprinkle
  • A generous knob of butter
  • An oven proof dish to contain the soup

 

Note 1: the ingredients in the list are for one person, but if you have guests, always consider 2 eggs and 1 slice of bread per person. About the stock, I had all the 3/4 pint - 1 3/4 cups for myself so, in case of guests, prepare more stock.

 

Note 2: eggs must be absolutely fresh (ideally use free range organic eggs).

 

Note 3: in the past, stale bread was used for this recipe. Use whatever bread you want but a home made loaf of countryside bread is the best bet!

 

Directions: 

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Before we start, put your oven proof dish in the oven because we need it hot for a later stage (you can set the oven to the minimum, but I recommend the use of oven gloves when it is time to take the dish out of the oven). Next, cut a slice of bread.

 

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Remove the hard crust and cut the big slice in two parts.

 

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Prepare the stock, dissolving the stock cube in 3/4 pint of boiling water.

 

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Now, take a shallow pan (a frying pan will do the job) and melt the butter.

 

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Fry the bread until both the sides are golden brown.

 

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This is the kind of colour we have to achieve.

 

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Once the bread is ready, take the oven proof dish out of the oven.

 

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Put the bread inside the dish, pressing it down so that it stays on the bottom of the dish.

 

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Break the eggs over the bread.

 

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Now, a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

 

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The dish is ready for the adding of the stock. The stock must be boiling hot (not simmering) so raise the heat before adding it into the dish.

 

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We add the stock to cover. The heat of the stock will partially cook the eggs. You can cover the dish with a plate and leave the dish alone for one minute or two, then you can serve the dish.

 

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With this soup the eggs will never be thoroughly cooked, but this is it and I cannot change the tradition. However, if you are serving the soup to children or old people, you may consider poaching the eggs before laying them onto the bread; then you add the stock. Alternatively, before adding the stock, you can pass the dish under a grill, in order to cook the eggs, but you need to be careful not to burn the bread. Try it and find the solution that best suits you.

Feel free to add some ground black pepper if you wish.

 

Buon appetito!
   

 

 

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Mon, 18 Feb 2013 14:11:48 GMT http://www.italyum.com/specials/194-bread-and-egg-soup15.html
Sicilian vegetable stew (Caponata siciliana) http://www.italyum.com/vegetable-recipes/187-sicilian-vegetable-stew11.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1


Preparation: 2 hours
Cooking: 40 mins    
Difficulty: Medium

Suitable for freezing

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Veggie

The queen of the vegetable stews! I have tried many, but this one is THE ONE I like most; its sweet and sour character, colourful appearance and flavour packed soul will make any vegetarian jump for joy and turn meat eaters into part time vegetarians. The Sicilian vegetable stew is known as “Caponata Siciliana”. There are many versions of the stew on the island (apparently 37 official versions), depending on local customs, and the difference between them is that sometimes people like to add other types of vegetables, sometimes people don’t add the potatoes or sometimes they add fish to it and so on. There are many theories about the origin of the name “Caponata”; one of them says that it has Catalan origin and that around 16th century the stew was made adding a fish called “capone”. However, only aristocratic families could afford to buy this kind of fish so, around the 17th century, poor families decided to use aubergines instead of fish and the stew was consumed accompanied with bread. There is another interesting thing about this stew and this is the use of raisins and pine kernels, which is something not so unusual when you come across Sicilian dishes; this is probably because of the influence of the Arab occupation of the island between 827 AD and 1091 AD. Anyway, it is a wonderful stew and I hope you really enjoy it. 

 

SERVES 6 PEOPLE 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 500 g (1.1 lb) Aubergines (diced)
  • 1 Courgette (sliced)
  • 1 Celery stalk (sliced)
  • 75 ml (3 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil (for the initial sauté)
  • 1 Onion (cut into thin rings)
  • 2 Bell peppers (one red and one yellow - sliced into strips)
  • 400 g (14 oz) Chopped tomatoes (a tin of chopped tomatoes will do)
  • 1/2 tbs Dry basil (alternatively finely chop 5 leaves of fresh basil)
  • 300 g (11 oz) Potatoes (diced)
  • 10 g (1 tbs) Sugar
  • 100 ml (4 fl oz) White wine vinegar
  • 25 g (1 oz) Capers
  • 25 g (1 oz) Pine kernels
  • 25 g (1 oz) Raisins
  • 75 g (3 oz) Green olives (stoned and cut in half)
  • 60 g (2 1/2 oz) Sun dried tomatoes (the ones preserved in oil will do)
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning
  • 750 ml Light olive oil for the frying of the aubergine, courgette and celery

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements): 

  • 18 ounces (1 pound 2 ounces) Eggplants (diced)
  • 1 Courgette (sliced)
  • 1 Celery stalk (sliced)
  • 5 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil (for the initial sauté)
  • 1 Onion (cut into thin rings)
  • 2 Bell peppers (one red and one yellow - sliced into strips)
  • 14 ounces Chopped tomatoes (a tin of chopped tomatoes will do)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dry basil (alternatively finely chop 5 leaves of fresh basil)
  • 10 1/2 ounces Potatoes (diced)
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) White wine vinegar
  • 1 ounce Capers
  • 1 ounce Pine kernels
  • 1 ounce Raisins
  • 3 ounces Green olives (stoned and cut in half)
  • 2 1/2 ounces Sun dried tomatoes (the ones preserved in oil will do)
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning
  • 3 1/8 cups Light olive oil for the frying of the aubergine, courgette and celery

 

Note: Mild & light olive oil is ideal for frying and less expensive than extra virgin olive oil.

 

Directions: 

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Dice the aubergines, roughly 2 x 2 cm dice (3/4" x 3/4"), and put the dice into a colander, sprinkle with lots of salt and leave to rest for a couple of hours. The salt will extract the bitter dark juice from the aubergines (if you want to know more about this technique, check “preparing aubergines”, featured in the top tips section of the website). After two hours, rinse the aubergines and pat them dry before frying them.

 

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Meanwhile, you have plenty of time to prepare the rest of the vegetables. Slice the courgette into 3 mm (1/8") thick slices. Do the same with the celery.

 

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Peel the skin off the peppers. If your pepper have a full round profile, a peeler will save you lots of hassle; otherwise you can use a pairing knife and with a bit of patience you will get the job done.

 

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Then, cut the peppers into strips, roughly 5 cm (2") long and 5 mm (3/16") thick; I wouldn’t go any thicker than this because it will be more difficult to sauté them.

 

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This is the stage where the vegetables are ready to be fried.  The timing for the frying is dictated by the aubergines, which need to go through a self cleaning process before to use them. Once the aubergines are ready, lay the vegetables to be fried onto a kitchen towels and see the next stage.

 

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Just before you start frying, revive the raisins soaking them in lukewarm water for about 15-20 minutes, then drain them using a little sieve and set aside.

 

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Put the light olive oil into a pan suitable for deep frying. Heat the oil until it gets the right temperature for frying.

 

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Start with the aubergines, frying the dice for about 4 minutes.

 

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After 4 minutes, remove the aubergine dice with a slotted spoon and put them into a large bowl lined with kitchen paper, to absorb the excess oil.

 

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Using the same oil, fry the courgette for 4 minutes and then put them onto kitchen paper.

 

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The same applies for the celery. Fry for 4 minutes and then put the slices onto kitchen paper.

 

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Finally, once the excess oil is absorbed, then you can put all three fried vegetables together and set aside.

 

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The next step is the initial sauté. Put the extra virgin olive oil into a large pan, bring the heat to medium and gently start to sauté the onion.

 

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When the onion starts softening (I would say after 2-3 minutes), add the peppers and continue with the sauté.

 

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Give it a good stir so that both the onion and pepper are well coated with oil. Continue cooking until the onion becomes well golden in colour. This is the stage where you add the chopped tomatoes.

 

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Add the chopped tomatoes.

 

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Give it a good stir.

 

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Add the dry basil.

 

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Give it a good stir.

 

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Add the diced potatoes.

 

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Give it a good stir. If you think the sauce is too dry, there is nothing wrong in adding half a glass (roughly 100 ml - 3/8 cup) of boiled water.

 

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Cover with the lid and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat.

 

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After 10 minuets, add the sugar.

 

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Add the vinegar.

 

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Add the capers.

 

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Add the pine kernels.

 

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Add the raisins.

 

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Add the green olives.

 

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Finally, add the sun dried tomatoes (roughly cut into pieces). I used sun dried tomatoes from a jar, the ones preserved in sunflower oil, so these were already soft. If you want to use the very dried ones you can buy in a sachet, remember to soak them first into lukewarm water to soften them a bit.

 

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Give it a good stir.

 

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Season with salt.

 

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Season with pepper.

 

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Add the fried vegetables into the pan.

 

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Give it a good stir. Also in this case, if you think that the stew is too dry, half a glass of boiled water will help (this is what I did).

 

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Cover with the lid and continue cooking for about 20 minutes over very low heat, gently stirring once or twice.

 

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After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool down; traditionally it is best served cold (some people prefer it still hot). 

 

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Use some home made bread to prepare a bruschetta-like dish. Slice the bread. 

 

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Heat a cast iron grill pan.

 

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Once the pan is piping hot, grill the bread on both sides.

 

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Finally, serve the vegetable stew over a slice of bread.

 

Buon appetito!
PS: this is where a good glass of south Italian red wine will come handy, to complete this Sicilian experience!         

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Wed, 13 Feb 2013 11:05:44 GMT http://www.italyum.com/vegetable-recipes/187-sicilian-vegetable-stew11.html
Mussels and potatoes (Uncle Vittorio's mussels & potato bake) http://www.italyum.com/seafood-recipes/184-mussels-and-potatoes9.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebCozze E Patate 1

 

Preparation: 30 minutes (this includes the steaming of the potatoes)
Cooking: 20 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebNew Uncle Vittorio
Uncle Vittorio in action - Italy (July 2008) 

 

This is another example of how to match seafood with potatoes. It is a simple and delicious dish and also very cheap to make; fortunately mussels are not expensive - not yet! and potatoes are probably the cheapest ingredients you can buy in a veg shop. This recipe is from the South East of Italy and has been passed to me by my uncle Vittorio (he is from Puglia region of Italy), an excellent cook who I regard as my mentor. When I was a little boy I spent lots of time with him in the kitchen and many of the recipes you can see in this website come from his day to day home cooking repertoire.

 

SERVES 4-6 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 1 Kg (2.2 lb) Fresh mussels
  • 1 Kg (2.2 lb) Potatoes
  • 4 Eggs
  • 60 g (2 1/2 oz) Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (grated)
  • A small bunch on flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 Fish stock cube
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements): 

  • 35 ounces (2 pounds 3 ounces) Fresh mussels
  • 35 ounces (2 pounds 3 ounces) Potatoes
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 1/2 ounces Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (grated)
  • A small bunch on flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 Fish stock cube
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning

 

Directions: 

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Take a deep pan that is suitable for use in the oven and spread some olive oil in the bottom. Alternatively you can use a roasting tin, but it is important the tin has a lid (later, you will see why having a lid is important).

 

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Slice all the potatoes, making slices about 3 mm (1/8") thick.

 

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Form the first layer in the bottom of the pan, by laying the potato slices.

 

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Once the first layer is completed, drizzle with some olive oil.

 

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Then, sprinkle with black pepper. Now, make a second layer and repeat the oil and black pepper stages. If you have enough potato slices, make a third layer, as I did for this recipe. If you are using a larger roasting tin you may get a couple of layers only, which is fine anyway.

 

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This picture shows my third and final layer. As you can see, I am not adding any salt, but just black pepper. The reason why I am not adding salt is because the fish stock I am going to add at the next stage will be salty enough to season the potatoes.

 

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Prepare some fish stock. Dissolve one fish stock cube in 450 ml (1 7/8 cups) of boiling water.

 

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Now, put the pan on low heat and add a couple of ladles of fish stock.

 

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Next, cover with a lid and steam the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes. Here, we want the potatoes “nearly” cooked because after, at a later stage, they will complete the cooking in the oven.

 

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If you think that after 15 minutes the inside of the pan is to watery, you can remove part of the liquid with a spoon or you can complete the 20 minutes taking away the lid, to dry it a bit.

 

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Meanwhile, chop the parsley.

 

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Break the eggs into a small bowl and stir with a fork.

 

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Add the parsley.

 

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Stir.

 

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Add the Parmesan cheese, while you are stirring.

 

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Check that the batter is not too runny but at the same time not too firm.

 

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Season the batter with black pepper.

 

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Season the batter with salt, but not too much because the Parmesan cheese is already salty. Set the batter aside.

 

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Put some olive oil into a large pan that can contain all the mussels. Heat the oil on high heat and then add the garlic (sliced).

 

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After a minute or two add the mussels into the pan.

 

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Give a quick stir using a big metal spoon, so that all the mussels are coated with the garlic flavoured oil.

 

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Cover with a lid and leave it for 3-4 minutes. Here, we don’t want to overcook the mussels because later they have to go in the oven, we just need to open them using the heat.

 

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This picture shows the mussels that have opened. If you want to know how to deal with mussels, check “fish preparation”, featured in the top tips section of the website.

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For each mussel, get rid of the empty half-shell and lay the other half with the good stuff attached onto a large tray.

 

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Meanwhile, the potatoes are ready, they are now steamed and have also absorbed most of the stock. We can now proceed with the next stage.

 

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Using a spoon, tip some of the batter inside the half-shell containing the mollusc. 

 

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Cover the surface of the top potato layer with the half-shells as shown in the picture. When you are doing this job, pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

 

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For this recipe I have used only half of the mussels available because I have used a small diameter pan, however if you are going to use a large rectangular roasting tin, I am quite sure that you will need all the mussels available (1 kg).  Next, put the pan into the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, uncovered.

 

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This is the final result after 20 minutes cooking.

 

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This is a closer view so that you can have a better idea of what it should look like.

 

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Then, it is just a matter of serving it in the fashion you like and don’t forget a glass of chilled white wine.

 

Buon appetito! 

 

    

 

 

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Wed, 06 Feb 2013 17:03:58 GMT http://www.italyum.com/seafood-recipes/184-mussels-and-potatoes9.html
Lazy Italian pizza [VIDEO] http://www.italyum.com/pizza-recipes/133-lazy-pizza-video.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes IMG 5275

 

Our first video recipe! Federico guides you through the easy to make "Lazy Pizza" with three different toppings, and a delicious light and crispy base.

Preparation: 20 minutes (2 hours for dough to rise)

Cooking: 20-30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy!

Watch as Federico guides you through the Lazy Pizza, a delicious light crispy based pizza with the authentic tastes of Italy!

 

Part 1

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Part 2

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Part 3

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Preparation: 20 minutes + 2 hours for dough to rise (bulk fermentation)

Cooking: 20-30 minutes

Difficulty: Very easy!

 

PIZZA 4 STAGIONI

Topping list:

  • Tomato sauce (passata di pomodoro)
  • Garlic salt
  • Oregano
  • Mozzarella (grated)
  • Cooked ham (diced or reduced in small pieces)
  • Mushrooms (ideally “chiodini mushrooms”)
  • Artichokes hearts (cut in four parts)
  • Green/black olives (stoned)
  • Parmesan cheese shavings
  • Drizzle with Extra virgin olive oil

 

PIZZA SICILIANA

Topping list:

  • Tomato sauce (passata di pomodoro)
  • Garlic salt
  • Oregano
  • Onion (finely slices)
  • Anchovies fillets
  • Green/black olives (stoned)
  • Capers
  • Chilli flakes
  • Drizzle with Extra virgin olive oil

 

PIZZA CON SALSICCIA

Topping list:

  • Tomato sauce (passata di pomodoro)
  • Garlic salt
  • Oregano
  • Mozzarella
  • Sausage

 

Dough ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 600 g (1 pound 5 oz) Italian flour for pizza “00” or "0" type (alternatively, use plain flour)
  • 10 g (1/3 oz) Fine salt
  • 380 g (12 1/2 fl oz) tepid water
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 20g (2/3 ounce) fresh yeast (fresh compressed yeast)
  • 60 g (2 oz) Extra virgin olive oil

 

Buon appetito! 

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Fri, 07 Nov 2014 07:20:13 GMT http://www.italyum.com/pizza-recipes/133-lazy-pizza-video.html
Plaice with potatoes (Rombo con patate) http://www.italyum.com/seafood-recipes/132-plaice-with-potatoes.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 30-35 minutes
Difficulty: Easy  

This recipe is a clear reminder of an Italian rule of thumb when cooking fish: never mess with fish!
Far too often, when dealing with fish, I see too many ingredients added to it. Just watch some of the many TV cooking programs and you will recognise the non-confident cook from the amount of ingredients he/she uses; the more ingredients used the less confident is the cook!
This recipe works very well with whole flat fish and when you buy it, look for turbot (in Italy we call it rombo) or brill, alternatively use a plaice as I did. You can use the same technique to cook turbot (or brill) fillets if you like, but there is nothing more exciting than presenting a whole fish to your guests.

 

SERVES 4

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 1 Kg (2.2 lb) Plaice (whole fish)
  • 1 Kg (2.2 lb) Large potatoes
  • 75 ml (3 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil (for the salsa - keep this in a small bowl)
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil (for brushing - keep this in a glass)
  • A handful of flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • 3 Cloves of garlic
  • 6 Small sprigs of rosemary
  • Few drops of lemon juice
  • Coarse salt and black ground pepper for seasoning

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements): 

  • 35 ounces (2 pounds 3 ounces) Plaice (whole fish)
  • 35 ounces (2 pounds 3 ounces) Large potatoes
  • 5 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil (for the salsa - keep this in a small bowl)
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 cup) Extra virgin olive oil (for brushing - keep this in a glass)
  • A handful of flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • 3 Cloves of garlic
  • 6 Small sprigs of rosemary
  • Few drops of lemon juice
  • Coarse salt and black ground pepper for seasoning

 

Note 1: ask your fishmonger to clean the fish (only gut it and leave gills and fins on it), so when you go home you have just to give it a rinse and that's it.

 

Note 2: in the picture above there should be an half lemon that I forgot to put. I apologise for this.

 

Directions: 

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To start, we prepare the salsa. Chop all the parsley with only one clove of garlic. I used the chopper because I want these chopped as finely as it can get. Next, put the chopped contents into the bowl containing olive and give it a stir.

 

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Add few drops of lemon juice.

 

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Finally, season with a pinch of salt, stir and put the salsa aside.

 

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Peel the potatoes and cut them in thin slices using a mandolin. The slices should be about 3 mm (1/8") thick.

 

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Take a large oven tray, cut a piece of greaseproof paper of the same dimension of the tray and brush the paper with olive oil.

 

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Place the potatoes slices on the greaseproof paper, in the shape of your fish.

 

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Brush the potato slices with olive oil.

 

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Season the potato slices with salt.

 

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Season the potato slices with pepper.

 

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Next, put the tray into the oven and let the potatoes cook at 200°C (400°F) for 10-15 minutes.

 

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Meanwhile you prepare your fish, first patting it dry with kitchen paper.

 

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Then, putting a couple of rosemary sprigs and the remaining cloves of garlic into its cavity.

 

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Now, remember the tray you have in the oven? Take it out and put the fish onto the layer of potato slices. Leave the oven on because soon you are going to put the fish into it.

 

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Brush the fish with olive oil.

 

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Season with salt.

 

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Now, cover the fish with the remaining potato slices. Brush the potato slices with oil and season with salt and pepper. Around the fish, put the remaining rosemary springs as you can see in the picture.

 

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Next, put the tray into the oven and cook for about 30 minutes at 200°C (400°F).

 

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After 30 minutes the fish should look like this, however you may need some extra time if you use a bigger fish.

 

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To serve, put some of the fish meat onto a potato bed and garnish the fish with a little touch of salsa.

 

Buon appetito!  

 

 

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Thu, 07 Feb 2013 10:41:53 GMT http://www.italyum.com/seafood-recipes/132-plaice-with-potatoes.html
Octopus in tomato sauce (Polpo in salsa di pomodoro) http://www.italyum.com/seafood-recipes/131-octopus-in-tomato-sauce.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1 

 

Preparation: 15 mins
Cooking: 1 1/2 hours    
Difficulty: Easy

This recipe is very practical because you can eat the octopus as it is shown in the last picture of the photograph sequence or you can use the octopus in tomato sauce to top spaghetti; both ways are fine and delicious to eat. Octopus is very common on the tables of the countries facing the mediterranean, but unfortunately it is underestimated in the northern part of Europe, especially where I live (Scotland); when I mention octopus to people they look at me if I am an alien! Go for it and enjoy this with a nice glass of chilled white wine.
 

SERVES 4  

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 1.5 Kg (3.3 lb) Octopus (see note 1)
  • 1 Small onion (cut in discs)
  • 1 Carrot (cut in 4 pieces)
  • 1 Celery stick with some leaves
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Clove of garlic
  • 6 Sun dried tomatoes
  • 25 g (1 oz) Capers (see note 2)
  • 60 g (2 1/2 oz) Black olives (pitted)
  • 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) Chopped tomatoes
  • 15 ml (1 tbs) Red wine vinegar
  • 4 g (1 tsp) Sugar
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning (plus some mixed peppercorns)

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements): 

  • 53 ounces (3 pounds 5 ounces) Octopus (see note 1)
  • 1 Small onion (cut in discs)
  • 1 Carrot (cut in 4 pieces)
  • 1 Celery stick with some leaves
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Clove of garlic
  • 6 Sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 ounce Capers (see note 2)
  • 2 1/2 ounces Black olives (pitted)
  • 21 ounces (1 pound 5 ounces) Chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning (plus some mixed peppercorns)

 

Note 1: in this recipe I didn't manage to buy a 1.5 Kg (3 pounds 5 ounces) octopus because it was not available at the fish counter, so I decided to use a couple of octopuses instead, one weighing 900 g (2 pounds) and the other one 600 g (1 pound 5 ounces). Ask the fishmonger to clean the octopus so that at home you only need to give it a good rinse under fresh water. Anyway, I suggest you check “octopus preparation”, featured in the top tips section of the website, where you can find some good tips on how to clean an octopus and how to tenderise its meat.

 

Note 2: capers are usually preserved in vinegar or salt so, before putting then into the pan, rinse the capers under fresh running water and then pat them dry using kitchen paper.

 

Directions: 

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To start, put the sun dried tomatoes in a little tray filled with cold water. Let them soak for a bit until they soften (I would say 30-40 minutes).

 

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Take a big pot, fill it with cold water and add the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, some mixed peppercorns. Also add a couple of pinches of salt and then bring it to the boil.

 

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Meanwhile, take the sun dried tomatoes out of the water, pat them dry using kitchen paper and roughly chop them together with the clove of garlic.

 

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When the water in the pot starts boiling, put the octopus into the pot and boil until the octopus is tender. A rough guide is to boil for 1 hour per kilogram of octopus, but this generally applies only if you have properly tenderised the octopus meat before boiling. To tenderise the octopus, check “octopus preparation”, featured in the top tips section of the website.

 

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This photograph shows the octopus after about 45 minutes boiling.

 

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Halfway through the boiling time you can turn the octopus over and continue boiling. When you think it is time to remove the octopus from the pot, try to cut one of the tentacles with a knife. If the tentacle is tender and easy to cut, then turn the cooker off and let the octopus cool down in its own water.

 

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During the boiling, the octopus skin will turn to a purple colour. Remove the main loose bits with your hands, in order to uncover most of the white meat. Then, cut the octopus in pieces, roughly 3 cm (1 1/4") long.

 

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Meanwhile, you should have previously chopped the sun dried tomatoes and the garlic together. Get them ready for the next stage.

 

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Put the olive oil into the pan and heat it on medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the sun dried tomatoes and garlic. Sweat them off for about 3 minutes or until the garlic starts changing its colour.

 

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Next, add the olives and capers.

 

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Stir and continue cooking for a minute or so.

 

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Now, add the chopped tomatoes.

 

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Stir, bring it back to the boil and cook for 5 minutes.

 

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Then, turn the heat down to low and season with salt.

 

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Season with ground black pepper.

 

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Add the red wine vinegar.

 

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Add the sugar.

 

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Stir and continue cooking for about 15 minutes to reduce the sauce.

 

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Next, put the cut pieces of octopus into the pan.

 

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Bring everything back to simmer point, cook for a couple of minutes and that's it! 

 

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Now, serve the octopus with some slices of crusty rustic bread or, even better, use the sauce as spaghetti sauce; you will be surprised how good it will be.

 

Buon appetito! 

 

 

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Wed, 06 Feb 2013 17:11:26 GMT http://www.italyum.com/seafood-recipes/131-octopus-in-tomato-sauce.html
Artichokes with pancetta (Carciofi con pancetta) http://www.italyum.com/vegetable-recipes/129-artichokes-with-pancetta.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

    
Preparation: 20 mins
Cooking:20 mins    
Difficulty: Easy

This recipe, in my view, is one that epitomises the character of Italian cooking: total simplicity and tastiness!
Artichokes are good, healthy and versatile as an ingredient; you can fry them, stuff them, use them to top pizzas, cook them in the oven together with lamb and potatoes or, as I do, cook them with panchetta. In Emiglia Romagna region of Italy I saw people cooking artichokes, including the stalk, without making any fuss about how fibrous it could be! When preparing artichokes, there is a lot of wastage because usually you eat only the heart of the artichokes, but in the old times nothing was wasted, even the leaves were boiled and eaten as Italians do with "pinzimonio" (raw vegetables dipped in olive oil). I like to use everything from the artichoke, especially when I pay the £ 1.50 per head; and also beacuse I strive for honest home cooking, and economy still matters!

 

SERVES 6 AS STARTER or 3 AS MAIN COURSE 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 6 Globe artichokes
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
  • 60 g (2 1/2 oz) Pancetta (diced)
  • Half glass of white wine
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning 
     

Ingredients (U.S. measurements): 

  • 6 Globe artichokes
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 ounces Pancetta (diced)
  • Half glass of white wine
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning 

 

Directions: 

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When cutting the artichokes during their preparation, they change colour quickly, becoming darker. You can limit this effect by putting them in a bowl of acidulated water after preparation. Take a large bowl of water and sqeeze a lemon in it.

 

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With a paring knife remove the outer part of the stalk, the most fibrous one.

 

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Cut the stalk as shown in the picture, leaving a couple of centimetres of stalk attached to the artichoke.

 

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Peel the outer leaves away starting from the base of the artichoke. As I said in the introduction, you can use the leaves for making "pinzimonio".

 

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Remove the outer leaves until the soft core (the heart) at the base is exposed and then cut the artichoke as shown in the picture.

 

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We have not finished yet! Now, we need to get rid of the central filaments.

 

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With a dessert spoon, preferably one with sharp edges, scoop the filaments out. At the same time scrape with the spoon around the inner wall created so that you are sure no filament stay in place.

 

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Then, with a paring knife remove the last leaves at the bottom, around the little stalk you left attached.

 

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Finally, with a paring knife cut the last leaves that you may have on the perimeter of the artichokes heart.

 

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One by one, put the prepared artichoke hearts in the large bowl containing acidulated water and leave them until you are ready to cook them.

 

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Meanwhile, during the preparation of the artichoke hearts, you can boil the stalks, chopped in rounds. Boil them for 10-15 minutes.

 

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After 10-15 minutes boiling, drain the stalks and let them dry over kitchen paper. You will use them later.

 

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Here, for simplicity, I am showing only three artichokes, but you can cook all six together, if you wish. Add the olive oil into the pan and heat it over medium heat. Then, add the artichokes, heads down, and sweat them off for about 3 minutes.

 

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After 3 minutes add the pancetta and continue cooking for another 3 minutes.

 

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Now, add the stalk rounds you have previously boiled and sweat them off as well in the hot olive oil (at this stage the oil will also contain part of the pancetta fat).

 

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Cook for about 5 minutes, turning the artichokes for a while and then putting them again with the head down.

 

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After 5 minutes, add the wine and let the alcohol to evaporate for a couple of minutes.

 

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Meanwhile season with salt.

 

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Season with pepper.

 

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Then, cover the pan with a lid and cook on gentle heat for 15-20 minutes.

 

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This is what you get at the end. I suggest eating the artichokes (one or two is up to you) with some crusty rustic bread. About the wine, I personally do not drink wine with artichokes because I believe it's a waste (artichokes change the taste of the wine), so my suggestion is to keep your good wine for another occasion.

 

Buon appetito! 

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Mon, 11 Feb 2013 12:50:28 GMT http://www.italyum.com/vegetable-recipes/129-artichokes-with-pancetta.html
Hot bottarga sauce http://www.italyum.com/tips/128-hot-bottarga-sauce.html Hot bottarga sauce applies to the "linguine alla bottarga" recipe, featured in the pasta section of the website 

First and foremost, before you attempt this version, have a look at the basic  "Linguine alla bottarga" recipe, featured in the pasta section of the webiste. For carrying out this version, to the ingredients listed in the basic recipe, add the following:

 

  • 1 Red chilli, dried or fresh (chopped)
  • 2 Anchovy fillets
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree

 

Directions: 

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Put 60 ml (4 tablespoons) of olive oil into the pan, heat the oil over a gentle heat and add one clove of garlic (cut in slices), and one red chilli (chopped) into the pan.

 

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Sweat off until the garlic turns golden in colour, then remove it from the pan and discard it. Straight after removing the garlic add a couple of anchovy fillets and break them down with a wooden spoon until they melt.

 

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Next, add a heaped tablespoon of tomato puree.

 

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Stir to mix everything evenly.

 

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Next, move the pan away from the heat and add 2/3 of the grated cod roe into the pan.

 

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Add a couple of spoonfuls of the boiling water you are using to boil your pasta and then stir to make a creamy mix.

 

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Add 2/3 of the parsley into the pan.

 

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Give it a good stir.

 

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Now, your sauce is ready. Wait for the pasta to be perfectly cooked al dente and continue in the same way as it is explained in the "Linguine alla bottarga" recipe.

 

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Tue, 05 Mar 2013 14:57:06 GMT http://www.italyum.com/tips/128-hot-bottarga-sauce.html
Roe Linguine (Linguine alla bottarga) http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/127-roe-linguine-linguine-alla-bottarga.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Preparation time: 5 mins
Cooking: 10 mins

Difficulty: Easy

I regard this recipe as a super delicacy for seafood lovers. Bottarga is tuna or mullet roe, in origin used by the people of Sardinia and Sicily to make the sauce (bottarga sauce) to top their pasta. You can find the bottarga in any good Italian deli shop. In my case, now living on the west coast of Scotland, the only bottarga I can find locally is made of cod roe, which is nearly as good as the others. For the pasta, I have used squid ink linguine so you can better see the contrast of the bottarga sauce over the pasta, however you can use normal linguine pasta or spaghetti. Here, I am giving you the basic recipe and inside the recipe you will also find a link featuring a slightly different way to prepare the bottarga sauce so that you will have a couple of options available.

 

SERVES 4 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements)

  • 400 g (14 oz) Squid ink linguine pasta (alternatively use plain linguine)
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • 115 g (4 oz) Tuna roe or mullet roe (alternatively cod roe)
  • A handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)
  • Ground black pepper for seasoning

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements)

  • 14 ounces Squid ink linguine pasta (alternatively use plain linguine)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • 4 ounces Tuna roe or mullet roe (alternatively cod roe)
  • A handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)
  • Ground black pepper for seasoning

 

Note: for a hot version of the recipe, check for “hot bottarga sauce”, featured in the top tips of the website.

 

Directions:

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First and foremost, we need to grate the cod roe, like grating a piece of Parmesan cheese.

 

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Next, boil the linguine pasta and while it is boiling, you can proceed with the sauce preparation.

 

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Put the olive oil into the pan, heat the oil over a gentle heat and add the garlic, cut in slices.

 

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Sweat the garlic off until it turns golden in colour, then remove it from the pan and discard it.

 

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Next, move the pan away from the heat and leave the oil to cool down for a minute or so.

 

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Then, add 2/3 of the grated cod roe into the pan.

 

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Give it a good stir.

 

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Add 2/3 of the parsley into the pan.

 

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Season with black pepper.

 

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Finally, add a couple of spoonfuls of the boiling water you are using to boil your pasta.

 

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Stir to make a creamy mix.

 

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Now, your sauce is ready. Wait for the pasta to be perfectly cooked al dente.

 

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When the pasta is cooked al dente, just before draining it, put the pan containing the sauce over the heat again (high heat).

 

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Drain the pasta, but leave the pasta slightly wet.

 

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Add the pasta into the sauce pan.

 

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Sprinkle with the remaining grated cod roe.

 

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Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and stir well for a minute.

 

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Serve the pasta alla bottarga straightaway and have a nice glass of white wine. Please, do not add Parmesan cheese, or any other cheese; you would spoil the whole dish.

 

Buon appetito!  

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Sun, 27 Jan 2013 13:07:37 GMT http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/127-roe-linguine-linguine-alla-bottarga.html
Sea bass wrapped in cooking foil (Spigola/Branzino al cartoccio) http://www.italyum.com/seafood-recipes/185-sea-bass-wrapped-in-cooking-foil10.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 35 minutes
Difficulty: Easy  

One of the easiest and most effective ways to cook fish is to wrap it in foil. All the flavours stay inside the wrap and work their way through the fish! When cooking using this method, use simple ingredients and very fresh fish for best results. You can see similar recipes to this one, selecting “sea bream wrapped in cooking foil 1” and “Sea bream wrapped in cooking foil 2”; both the recipes are featured in the seafood section of the website. For this recipe, I have used a sea bass instead of a sea bream, plus capers, anchovies and lemon with a final garnish of parsley....try it!  

 

TO SERVE 4 PEOPLE, PREPARE 4 WRAPS

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 2

Ingredients for one wrap (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 1 Sea bass of about 500 g (1.1 lb) weight
  • 1 oz capers
  • 4-5 Anchovy fillets
  • 1 Lemon
  • Some extra virgin olive oil 
  • A couple of potatoes
  • Salt and black ground pepper for seasoning
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)

 

Ingredients for one wrap (U.S. measurements): 

  • 1 Sea bass about 18 ounces (1 pound 2 ounces) weight
  • 1 ounce capers
  • 4-5 Anchovy fillets
  • 1 Lemon
  • Some extra virgin olive oil 
  • A couple of potatoes
  • Salt and black ground pepper for seasoning
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)

 

Directions: 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 3

When buying the fish, ask your fishmonger to gut and scale it, but do not remove head and tail. At home, rinse the fish under fresh water and then pat it dry with kitchen paper.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 4

Cut a large piece of foil so that you can wrap your fish later. In the centre of the foil put a layer of greaseproof paper, roughly of the same length as your fish. Put some drops of olive oil on the greaseproof paper.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 5

Spread the olive oil all around the greaseproof paper (use your fingers or a little brush).

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 6

Slice the potatoes (thin slices) and lay the slices as shown in the picture. Then, drizzle some olive oil over the potato slices. The potato helps to absorb part of the liquid that may form in the bottom during the cooking.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 7

Make three diagonal cuts onto the top side of the fish.

 

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Brush the inside of the belly with olive oil.

 

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Stuff the belly with the anchovy fillets. I am not seasoning the inside of the fish belly with salt because the anchovy fillets are already salted. However, feel free to season with black pepper if you wish to do so.

 

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Put half of the capers inside the gills.

 

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Put the remaining capers inside the fish belly.

 

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Next, cut three thin slices from the lemon and put each slice into each of the cuts you previously made.

 

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Drizzle some olive oil over the fish.

 

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Season the outside with salt.

 

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Season the outside with black pepper.

 

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Close the wrap, seal it folding the sides and put it onto an oven tray. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F). When the oven is hot, put the tray into the oven and cook the fish for about 35 minutes.

 

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Once the fish is cooked, drizzle with some good quality olive oil and sprinkle with parsley (the fish may be served on the wrap).

 

Buon appetito! 

 

 

 

 

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Thu, 07 Feb 2013 10:42:25 GMT http://www.italyum.com/seafood-recipes/185-sea-bass-wrapped-in-cooking-foil10.html
Sea bream wrapped in cooking foil 2 (Orata al cartoccio) http://www.italyum.com/seafood-recipes/125-sea-bream-wrapped-in-cooking-foil-2.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebNew Photo 1

 

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking: 35 minutes
Difficulty: Easy  

One of the easiest and most effective ways to cook fish is to wrap it in foil. All the flavours stay inside the wrap and work their way through the fish flesh! When cooking using this method, use simple ingredients and very fresh fish for best results. This recipe is similar to the “sea bream wrapped in cooking foil 1” recipe, featured in the seafood section of the website, but this time I have used different ingredients and a slightly bigger fish. 

 

TO SERVE 4 PEOPLE, PREPARE 4 WRAPS 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebNew Photo 2

Ingredients for one wrap (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 1 Sea bream about 450 g (1 lb)
  • 5 Small cherry tomatoes
  • A small handful of capers
  • A small handful of pitted green olives
  • Some extra virgin olive oil 
  • A couple of potatoes
  • Salt and black ground pepper for seasoning

 

Ingredients for one wrap (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 1 Sea bream of about 16 ounces (1 pound) weight
  • 5 Small cherry tomatoes
  • A small handful of capers
  • A small handful of pitted green olives
  • Some extra virgin olive oil 
  • A couple of potatoes
  • Salt and black ground pepper for seasoning

 

Directions: 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebNew Photo 3

When buying the fish, ask your fishmonger to gut and scale it, but do not remove head and tail. At home, rinse the fish under fresh water and then pat it dry with kitchen paper.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebNew Photo 4

Cut a large piece of foil so that you can wrap your fish later. In the centre of the foil put a layer of greaseproof paper, roughly of the same length as your fish. Put some drops of olive oil on the greaseproof paper.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebNew Photo 5

Spread the olive oil all around the greaseproof paper (use your fingers or a little brush).

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebNew Photo 6

Slice the potatoes (thin slices) and lay the slices down like shown in the picture. Then, drizzle some olive oil over the potato slices. The potato helps to absorb part of the liquid that may form in the bottom during the cooking. 

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebNew Photo 7

Take the fish and season its belly starting with a drizzle of olive oil.

 

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Then, season the belly with salt and black pepper.

 

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Put half of the capers inside the fish gills. 

 

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Next, stuff the belly with a third of the olives and tomatoes (cut in half). With the remaining tomatoes, capers and olives, spread them on top and around the fish. Drizzle with olive oil over the fish. 

 

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Season the outside with salt. 

 

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Season the outside with black pepper. 

 

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Close the wrap, seal it folding the sides and put it onto an oven tray. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F). When the oven is hot, put the tray into the oven and cook the fish for about 35 minutes.

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebNew Photo 14

Once the fish is cooked, remove the top skin and drizzle with some good quality olive oil (the fish may be served on the wrap).

 

Buon appetito!   

 

 

]]>
Thu, 07 Feb 2013 10:33:51 GMT http://www.italyum.com/seafood-recipes/125-sea-bream-wrapped-in-cooking-foil-2.html
Sea bream wrapped in cooking foil 1 (Orata al cartoccio) http://www.italyum.com/seafood-recipes/124-sea-bream-wrapped-in-cooking-foil-1.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Copy Of WebPhoto 1

 

Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy  

 

One of the easiest and most effective ways to cook fish is to wrap it in foil. All the flavours stay inside the wrap and work their way through the fish flesh! When cooking using this method, use simple ingredients and very fresh fish for best results. To stuff the fish, you can use different herbs (rosemary, wild fennel, thyme, parsley, bay leaf) but I suggest using one or two herbs at a time. The recipe I am presenting here requires very few ingredients, but you will be pleasantly surprised with the flavours.

 

TO SERVE 4 PEOPLE, PREPARE 4 WRAPS 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Copy Of WebPhoto 2

Ingredients for one wrap (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 1 Sea bream of about 350 g (12 oz)
  • 4 small rosemary sprigs
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Some extra virgin olive oil (using a bottle is more practical)
  • Salt and black ground pepper for seasoning

 

Ingredients for one wrap (U.S. measurements): 

  • 1 Sea bream of about 12 1/2 ounces weight
  • 4 small rosemary sprigs
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Some extra virgin olive oil (using a bottle is more practical)
  • Salt and black ground pepper for seasoning

 

Directions: 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Copy Of WebPhoto 3

When buying the fish, ask your fishmonger to gut and scale it, but do not remove head and tail. At home, rinse the fish under fresh water and then pat it dry with kitchen paper. 

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Copy Of WebPhoto 4

Cut a large piece of foil so that you can wrap your fish later. In the centre of the foil put a layer of greaseproof paper, roughly of the same length as your fish. Put some drops of olive oil on the greaseproof paper. 

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Copy Of WebPhoto 5

Spread the olive oil all around the greaseproof paper (use your fingers or a little brush). 

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Copy Of WebPhoto 6

Take the fish and season its belly starting with a drizzle of olive oil and then with salt and black pepper. 

 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Copy Of WebPhoto 7

Cut the cloves of garlic in half and put some of the garlic inside the fish belly. 

 

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Stuff the belly with a couple of rosemary sprigs and add the remaining garlic. 

 

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Put some rosemary inside the gills. 

 

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Put the remaining rosemary outside, around the fish. 

 

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Next, drizzle some olive oil over the fish.

 

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Season the outside with salt.

 

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Season the outside with black pepper.

 

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The fish is ready for the oven.

 

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Close the wrap, seal it folding the sides and put it onto an oven tray. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

 

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When the oven is hot, put the tray into the oven and cook the fish for about 30 minutes.

 

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Once the fish is ready, remove the top skin and drizzle with some good quality olive oil (the fish may be served on the wrap). 

 

Buon appetito! 

 

 

]]>
Thu, 07 Feb 2013 10:35:44 GMT http://www.italyum.com/seafood-recipes/124-sea-bream-wrapped-in-cooking-foil-1.html
Spicy Spaghetti (Spaghetti alla puttanesca) http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/121-spicy-spaghetti-spaghetti-alla-puttanesca.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking: 20 mins

Difficulty: Easy

What is there to say about this dish and its "colourful" name? The puttanesca sauce is a hot, flavour packed sauce that is usually served with spahetti and has its origin in South Italy. The name "puttanesca" refers to the ladies of the night and one of the many different stories, that claims the origin of this dish, is that pasta was served with this sauce to the clients of one brothel in the city of Naples as "appetizer"!
Another story claims that the dish has been created on the isle of Ischia, set in the bay of Naples, by a local artist called Eduardo Colucci, for his visiting friends, immediately after WW2. Then, there is another trail of claims that say that the recipe is from Rome and not from Naples.
Looking at the ingredients (tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, olives, capers etc.) I believe that the true origins of the dish are from a coastal area of South Italy, probably in and around Naples, no matter what story is behind it. It's an easy dish to prepare and I would stick with the most traditional way to do it so that you will be sure to have a perfect balance between the ingredients. Last but not least, stay away from the temptation of using Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (you would spoil the flavours) and do not use herbs like oregano or basil (it won't be a puttanesca!).

 

SERVES 4

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements)

  • 400 g (14 oz) Spaghetti 
  • 75 ml (3 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 5 or 6 Anchovy fillets
  • 40 g (1 1/2 oz) Capers (buy the ones preserved in salt)
  • 110 g (4 oz) Pitted black olives (buy the ones preserved in brine)
  • 350 g (12 oz) Chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Whole dried or fresh red chilli (alternatively use 1/2 tsp of chilli flakes)
  • Salt for seasoning
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)
     

    Ingredients (U.S. measurements)

    • 14 ounces Spaghetti 
    • 5 tablespoons (just a bit more than 1/4 cup) Extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 Cloves of garlic (crushed)
    • 5 or 6 Anchovy fillets
    • 1 1/2 ounces Capers (buy the ones preserved in salt)
    • 4 ounces Pitted black olives (buy the ones preserved in brine)
    • 12 1/2 ounces Chopped tomatoes
    • 1 Whole dried or fresh red chilli (alternatively use 1/2 teaspoon of chilli flakes)
    • Salt for seasoning
    • A small handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)
      

Note: about the olives, you can also use 50% black olives and 50% green olives.

 

Directions:

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Start rinsing the anchovy fillets under running water, then pat them dry with kitchen paper.

 

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Repeat the above procedure with the capers. Capers comes in different sizes; if yours are big then you can roughly chop them (in this recipe I used tiny capers so I did not chop them).

 

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Take the olives and cut them into rounds. Last, chop the parsley and set it aside; you will use it only at the end to garnish. Now, that the ingredients are ready, we start with the sauce preparation.

 

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Put the olive oil into the pan and heat the oil on medium/low heat. Crush the garlic with the blade of your knife and add it into the pan.

 

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Sweat the garlic off for few minutes until it is golden in colour, then remove it from the pan and discard it. Try to tilt the pan on one side and move the garlic around with a wooden spoon; it helps flavouring the oil.

 

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Now, move your pan away from the heat and wait for about a minute to slightly cool the oil down. Then, add the anchovy fillets.

 

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Using a wooden spoon stir and break the fillets down until they have dissolved.

 

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Bring the pan back onto the heat, add the capers and the black olives.

 

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Give a good stir for few seconds until the oil is hot again.

 

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Next, add the tomatoes.

 

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Stir.

 

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Add the chilli and stir for few seconds.

 

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Now, cook on low heat for 15 minutes.

 

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After 10 minutes, check for salt and season according to taste.

 

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When the sauce is ready, sprinkle with parsley.

 

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Stir for few seconds.

 

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Meanwhile, you were cooking your spaghetti. Once the spaghetti is ready, drain it and add it to the sauce pan.

 

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Stir so that all the sauce is evenly distributed.

 

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Now, serve it straightaway.

 

Buon appetito!

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Sun, 27 Jan 2013 13:08:55 GMT http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/121-spicy-spaghetti-spaghetti-alla-puttanesca.html
Chocolate salami (Salame di cioccolato) http://www.italyum.com/dessert-recipes/119-chocolate-salami.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Preparation: 30 mins
No cooking required

Difficulty: Easy

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Veggie

This dessert is very popular amongst the Italian families and it is usually eaten with coffee, after lunch. It is sometimes served as dessert in trattorias, especially in those rural trattorias you can find along the Po river at the border between Lombardy and Emilia Romagna regions of Italy. There are many variations of the theme, of course, and this is down to the local culinary customs, as always happens in Italy. It's a rustic dessert that probably would never find a place in those fancy restaurants, but it is very good to eat and this is what really matters!

 

SERVES 8 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 2

Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 300 g (11 oz) Rich tea biscuits
  • 150 g (5 oz) Butter (unsalted)
  • 100 g (4 oz) Dark chocolate (I have used 85% cocoa)
  • 100 g (4 oz) Caster sugar
  • 2 Eggs (see note 1 below)
  • 30 ml (1 fl oz) Dark rum
  • OPTIONAL: see note 2 below

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements): 

  • 10 1/2 ounces Rich tea biscuits
  • 5 1/2 ounces Butter (unsalted)
  • 3 1/2 ounces Dark chocolate (I have used 85% cocoa)
  • 3 1/2 ounces Caster sugar
  • 2 Eggs (see note 1 below)
  • 2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) Dark rum
  • OPTIONAL: see note 2 below

 

Note 1: this is a dessert containing raw eggs, so be sure you buy fresh, top quality eggs.

Note 2: as an option, try adding 40 g (1 1/2 ounces) of citrus peel and double the quantity of rum.

 

Directions: 

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Cut the butter into pieces and let it warm to room temperature.

 

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Break the chocolate bar into pieces and put them into a small bowl. Melt the chocolate using the bain Marie method.

 

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While melting the chocolate, stir with a spoon to be sure that there are no lumps. When the chocolate is completely melted, set the bowl aside and let the chocolate cool a little.

 

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Put the biscuits into a large bowl.

 

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Break the biscuits using the back of a spoon; make them into crumbs.

 

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When the butter is soft, work it with an electric whisk for few seconds and then start adding the ingredients as shown next (you can add all these ingredients without stopping to whisk).

 

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Add the sugar.

 

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Add the eggs.

 

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Whisk for few seconds.

 

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Add the melted chocolate.

 

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Whisk for few seconds.

 

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Add the rum and whisk again for few seconds.

 

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Pour the mixture into the large bowl containing the biscuit crumbs. If using citrus peel, add this now.

 

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With a spoon, work the mixture until all the biscuit crumbs are completely coated with the chocolate mixture.

 

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The result should be a chocolate dough.

 

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Take the dough and make the shape of a salami. Put the chocolate salami onto a layer of cling film and then wrap it with the film.

 

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When wrapping, press the chocolate salami to make it compact. Then seal the sides and put the chocolate salami in the fridge for a couple of hours.

 

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After a couple of hours, you can slice your chocolate salami and serve it with coffee or tea.

 

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Enjoy it!

 

 

 

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Fri, 15 Feb 2013 09:54:47 GMT http://www.italyum.com/dessert-recipes/119-chocolate-salami.html
Crab meat risotto (Risotto alla polpa di granchio) http://www.italyum.com/risotto-recipes/118-crab-meat-risotto.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1 

   
Preparation: 10 mins
Cooking: 22-25 mins    
Difficulty: Medium

This risotto recipe belongs to the family of the seafood risottos and it is an interesting one because it shows how to make a fantastic dish with very few ingredients. People usually think that to make a good seafood risotto you need to have lots of different fish varieties; this is not true!

Technically speaking you can make a wonderful seafood risotto using only good fish stock. Italian fishermen of the past (early 20th century) always used to sell the good fish to the restaurants (or to the wealthy families) and kept the leftovers for themselves. When I say leftovers, it could be a couple of monkfish heads, some tiny flat fish that would never find a place on the fish counter or some little bony fish caught in the net. Well, the rule of thumb was never waste anything and with all these leftovers fishermen (or poor families) were used to making a fantastic stock, which thereafter was used to flavour the risotto. Here, I am presenting a recipe from the North East of Italy, which was quite common amongst people living on the North Adriatic sea coast (around Venice and Romagna region). Speaking about North East means also that the rice variety changes and instead of using the usual all rounders "Carnaroli" and "Aborio" rice varieties, this time we use the "Vialone nano" variety, which is perfect for this dish because this rice variety absorb more stock than the Carnaroli (or Arborio), hence, if the fish stock is good, the rice will be packed with flavour. I have decided to add some crab meat at the end, just to give you an idea about how to combine flavours, but believe me when I say it is not necessary; all you need here is a very good fish stock!

 

SERVES 4 

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 2

Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 350-400 g (12-14 oz) Vialone nano rice 
  • 170 g (6 oz) Shredded crab meat
  • 75 ml (3 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Clove of garlic
  • 1 Small onion (finely chopped)
  • 100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) White wine
  • 100 ml (4 fl oz) Tomato passata
  • 1 Litre (1 3/4 pints) of hot fish stock - 2 stock cubes - (I have to say that you often need more than 1 litre so have some extra stock handy)
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) Cracked black pepper
  • Salt for seasoning
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements): 

  • 12-14 ounces Vialone nano rice 
  • 6 ounces Shredded crab meat
  • 5 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Clove of garlic
  • 1 Small onion (finely chopped)
  • 6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) White wine
  • 6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) Tomato passata
  • 4 1/4 cups of hot fish stock - 2 stock cubes - (I have to say that you often need more than  4 1/4 cups so have some extra stock handy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cracked black pepper
  • Salt for seasoning
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)

 

Directions: 

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First and foremost, before you start cooking, be sure that the first thing you do is prepare the stock so that it is readily available when required. The best thing to do is to have the stock just simmering, and no more, on the cooker.

 

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Next, creab meat is usually preserved in brine. Put the crab meat into a small sieve and press the meat down with a spoon so that the brine goes through the sieve. Discard the brine and set the crab meat aside.

 

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Put the olive oil in a large pan. Heat the oil and then add the garlic. Sweat the garlic over a gentle heat until it becomes golden in colour. When the garlic becomes golden, quickly remove it from the pan and discard it.

 

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Next, add the onion and sweat over a medium heat for about 3-5 minutes or until it is soft.

 

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Add the rice.

 

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Stir until the rice is completely coated with oil. You can see that the rice will start to become translucent. Keep stirring and sweat the rice for a minute or two.

 

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Then, add the white wine, keep stirring and let the wine evaporate (it will probably take a couple of minutes).

 

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Now, add the stock and turn the heat to medium/low. The stock, which has been kept simmering in order to stay hot, should be added at the rate of a couple of ladlefuls at the time and when this is absorbed, add more stock. Carry on in this way for about 15 minutes. During this stage, do not leave the pan alone and stir regularly (gently).

 

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Now, immediately after the first couple of ladlefuls of stock, add the tomato passata and stir.

 

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This is the colour you should get after the tomato passata is evenly distributed.

 

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Meanwhile you keep going, adding stock as required and stirring (gently). The photograph shows the rice after about 10 minutes cooking. At this stage, check the seasoning and add the salt accordingly.

 

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Also, add the black pepper.

 

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After 15 minutes you will probably need an extra 3 to 5 minutes to complete the final stage of cooking (this time depends on the type of rice you are using). This also means that you have only 3 to 5 minutes left to complete the cooking of the crab meat.

 

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So, add the crab meat into the pan.

 

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Stir to evenly distribute the crab meat. From now on, taste the rice every minute until the rice is cooked "al dente" (this means that the rice is tender outside, but still slightly firm to the bite in the centre). At the same time, the tasting will tell you if you need to adjust seasoning with salt. Regular but gentle stirring is required for the last minutes in order to avoid the risotto sticking to the bottom of the pan.
In these last minutes, just because we are dealing with the Vialone nano rice variety, keep the risotto slightly wetter than usual, I would say more loose (when using Carnaroli or Arborio rice, I usually suggest adding stock gradually in the last minutes of cooking in order to avoid the risotto becoming too watery - see this specific comment in the other risotto recipes).

 

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When the rice is perfectly cooked "al dente", add the parsley.

 

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Stir for a few seconds and serve (if you compare this recipe with the other risotto recipes in the website, you will notice that I am not using Parmesan cheese or butter here).

 

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Risotto should be served "all'onda" (like a wave). This means that when you serve it onto the plate, it should still flow a little.

 

Buon appetito!

 

 

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Tue, 12 Feb 2013 16:09:55 GMT http://www.italyum.com/risotto-recipes/118-crab-meat-risotto.html
Panna cotta (coffee/vanilla flavoured) http://www.italyum.com/dessert-recipes/117-panna-cotta-coffeevanilla-flavoured.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1


Preparation: 10 mins
Cooking: 5 mins    
Difficulty: Easy

This is one of the classics amongst the "dolci al cucchiaio" (spoon desserts) and there is not much to say about it, except  that it is delicious and very easy to make. There are many versions of panna cotta and the one I am going to present to you is the panna cotta flavoured with coffee and vanilla.

 

SERVES 4 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 500 ml (slightly less than a pint) Double cream    
  • A sachet of vanilla extract - see note below
  • 90 g (3 1/2 oz)  Caster sugar
  • 4 g (1 tbs) Instant coffee
  • 15 ml (1/2 fl oz) Dark rum (alternatively use brandy)
  • 4 g (2 leaves) Gelatine leaves
  • Cocoa powder for dusting
  • A few coffee beans for decoration

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements): 

  • 2 1/8 cups Double cream    
  • A sachet of vanilla extract - see note below
  • 3 ounces Caster Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Instant coffee
  • 1 tablespoon Dark rum (alternatively use brandy)
  • 2 Gelatine leaves
  • Cocoa powder for dusting
  • A few coffee beans for decoration

 

Note: the sachet I used contained about 1/2 g of vanilla extract in powder, however you can use vanilla extract in liquid form (just a few drops) or infuse a small vanilla pod.

 

Directions: 

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First, soak the gelatine leaves in a small bowl filled with cold water and set aside.

 

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Next, pour the cream into a small pan and turn the heat on (gentle heat).

 

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Add the vanilla extract.

 

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Add the sugar.

 

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Add the instant coffee.

 

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Add the rum.

 

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Stir gently for a few minutes until the cream gets close to the simmer point (avoid boiling the cream).

 

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If you have a thermometer, check that the cream reaches 90ºC (193ºF) and, at that point, remove the pan from the heat.

 

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The pan has been removed from the heat.

 

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Now, squeeze the gelatine leaves.

 

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Add the gelatine leaves into the pan.

 

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Stir for a couple of minutes or until the gelatine is completely dissolved.

 

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Next, strain the cream into the jug.

 

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Now, pour the cream into the glasses (I usually fill 4 glasses half way) and put the glasses in the fridge for about 4-6 hours so that the panna cotta has time to set.

 

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Finally, when you want to eat your panna cotta, I suggest you dust it with some cocoa powder and that's it.

 

Enjoy it!

 

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Fri, 15 Feb 2013 10:18:57 GMT http://www.italyum.com/dessert-recipes/117-panna-cotta-coffeevanilla-flavoured.html
Caper and anchovy sauce (grilled fish) http://www.italyum.com/seafood-recipes/116-caper-and-anchovy-sauce-grilled-fish.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy 

It just happens that I was reading an old recipes book published in 1918 and my eye caught an interesting recipe for a sauce that was prepared with leftovers. The sauce is to accompany fish dishes, especially grilled fish and I thought that it would be great taking inspiration from that old text and developing  a sauce we can use over our contemporary tuna steaks! However, similar sauces can be found in the Sicilian culinary tradition, especially to accompany grilled swordfish (like the salmoriglio sauce), but for this I will write the recipe in the future, the first time I get some good swordfish steaks at the fish counter. For the moment, let's speak about tuna steaks and see how to prepare this dish.

 

SERVES 4 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 4 Large tuna steaks - see note 1 
  • 100 ml (4 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon zest from one small lemon (finely chopped)
  • 40 g (1 1/2 oz) Capers (finely chopped) - see note 2
  • 3 g (1/2 tsp) French mustard
  • 10 g (1 tbs) Anchovy paste
  • 10 ml (a bit less than 1/2 fl oz) Lemon juice
  • Salt for seasoning

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements): 

  • 4 Large tuna steaks - see note 1 
  • 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon zest from one small lemon (finely chopped)
  • 1 1/2 ounces Capers (finely chopped) - see note 2
  • 1/2 teaspoon French mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Anchovy paste
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice
  • Salt for seasoning

 

Note 1: despite the picture above featuring only 2 tuna steaks, the ingredients will make enough sauce to top 4 large tuna steaks.

Note 2: capers are usually preserved in vinegar or salt so, before chopping them, rinse the capers under fresh running water and then pat them dry using kitchen paper.

 

Directions: 

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Pour the olive oil into a small glass bowl.

 

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Add the lemon zest.

 

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Add the capers.

 

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Add the mustard.

 

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Add the anchovy paste.

 

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Add the lemon juice.

 

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Finally, add the salt according to taste.

 

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Next, take a small pan and fill it half way with boiling water. Now, set the heat to low and simmer the water (not boiling).

 

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Put the glass bowl, containing all the ingredients, over the pan (the bowl should not touch the water) and cook bain Marie for about 5 minutes. While cooking, gently stir with a spoon. This technique allows the ingredients to blend together without subjecting the sauce to excessive heat. After 5 minutes turn the heat off and leave the bowl on the pan, to keep the sauce warm.

 

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Next, brush the tuna steaks with olive oil.

 

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Put the grill pan over the heat for 5 minutes so it will be very hot and ready for the steaks.

 

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Then, put the tuna steaks onto the grill pan.

 

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I like the tuna steaks cooked rare so I usually cook them for 2 minutes on each side, but this is just my personal choice. If you want the steaks cooked medium, you will probably need 3-4 minutes on each side.

 

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These are the steaks turned after 2 minutes cooking on one side.

 

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Finally, cover each of the steaks with some of the caper and anchovy sauce you have prepared.

 

Buon appetito!

 

 

 

 

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Wed, 06 Feb 2013 13:08:25 GMT http://www.italyum.com/seafood-recipes/116-caper-and-anchovy-sauce-grilled-fish.html
Apple strudel (Strudel di mele) http://www.italyum.com/dessert-recipes/115-apple-strudel.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1


Preparation: 30 mins
Cooking: 45 mins    
Difficulty: Easy

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Veggie Vegetarian

Apple strudel (strudel di mele) is a very popular cake in Italy and, from its name, we can also easily understand its origins. Austria is the strudel homeland and the recipe found popularity in those regions of Italy (North East) subjected to the Austro-Hungarian empire ruling of the 19th century. Trentino Alto Adige region of Italy, a region where many of its inhabitants still speak German despite being Italian, is the main promoter of this wonderful cake, thanks to its cultural connections with Austria. In my family Strudel has always been very popular thanks to my mother, who comes from an area of Italy bordering with Austria and Slovenia (Tarvisiano). However, considering that the recipe contains raisins, pine kernels, cinnamon etc., its true origins can be probably traced back to the Middle East culinary tradition; in fact the strudel has some remote affinities with the Turkish Baklava. How did it go to Austria? Well, Turkish invasions that took place in East Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries could be the answer. Anyway, here I will show you how to make it and I will try my best to keep it simple and effective.

 

SERVES 8 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 1 Ready rolled puff pastry sheet (see notes below)
  • 4 Apples (medium size)
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 60 g (2 1/2 oz) raisins
  • 100 ml (4 fl oz) Dark rum - about a glass
  • 60 g (2 1/2 oz) Pine kernels
  • 50 g (2 oz) Sugar
  • 50 g (2 oz) Apricot preserve
  • Orange zest from one orange
  • 2 or 4 g (1/2 tbs or 1 tbs) Ground cinnamon - depending on your taste
  • 30 g (slightly more than 1 oz) Breadcrumbs
  • 10 g (1/2 oz) Butter
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 15 ml (1 tbs) Milk
  • Icing sugar for dusting

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements): 

  • 1 Ready rolled puff pastry sheet (see notes below)
  • 4 Apples (medium size)
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 2 1/2 ounces raisins
  • 6 tablespoon (3/8 cup) Dark rum - about a glass
  • 2 1/2 ounces Pine kernels
  • 2 ounces Sugar
  • 2 ounces Apricot preserve
  • Orange zest from one orange
  • 1/2 tablespoon or 1 tablespoon Ground cinnamon - depending on your taste
  • 1 ounce Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 ounce Butter
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon Milk
  • Confectioners' sugar for dusting


Note: I bought the ready rolled puff pastry sheet in the supermarket, size about 350 mm x 225 mm (14" x 9"). Supermarkets  nowadays offer a wide range of choices. You can also make the strudel using filo pastry, but you need to use about 6 layers, one on the top of each other and each layer needs to be brushed with melted butter.

 

Directions: 

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Firstly, 1 hour before you start making the strudel, soak the raisins into the glass of rum.

 

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After 1 hour, separate the raisins from the rum using a sieve.

 

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Put the raisins into a small container and set aside. Keep the rum; at a later stage we will use some of it (2 or 3 dessert spoons will be added to the strudel filling).

 

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Next, peel and slice the apples (into small slices about 2-3 mm thick). Put the slices into a large bowl.

 

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Add some lemon juice and mix to distribute the lemon juice all over the apple slices.

 

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Add the raisins.

 

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Add the pine kernels.

 

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Add the orange zest.

 

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Add the cinnamon.

 

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Add the sugar.

 

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Add the apricot preserve.

 

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Finally, add 2 or 3 dessert spoons of rum. And the rest, drink it!

 

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Mix everything together to evenly distribute the various ingredients.

 

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Cover the bowl with cling film and set it aside in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it as filling.

 

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Now, put the butter into a pan over a medium heat. When the butter starts bubbling, add the breadcrumbs and toast for few minutes until lightly brown.

 

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This is what you should have.

 

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Put the breadcrumbs into a small bowl to cool down.

 

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Meanwhile, spread some flour onto a working surface.

 

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Unroll your pastry and start stretching it with a rolling pin. Usually ready rolled pastry is too thick for the purpose of making strudel, so you need to enlarge the sheet and make it thinner (about 2 mm thick).

 

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Next, drag the sheet over a tea towel and give it a gentle stretch using your hands. Then you can cut the border with a pastry wheel, just to give the sheet a decent rectangular shape!

 

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Next, spread the breadcrumbs over the pastry sheet.

 

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Then, take the large bowl from the refrigerator and put the contents in the centre of the pastry sheet, as shown in the photograph.

 

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Fold one side of the sheet (the longer side) over the filling. This operation will be easier if you help yourself lifting the tea towel from its corners and folding it towards the centre of the pastry sheet.

 

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Do the same with the opposite side.

 

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Take a large tray and cover its bottom with a layer of baking paper. Brush the paper with melted butter or margarine. At this stage switch the oven on and set it at 180ºC (355ºF).

 

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Next, put the egg yolk into a small bowl and add the milk.

 

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Beat the egg yolk and milk with a fork until they are evenly mixed.

 

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Brush the egg batter all over the strudel.

 

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Cover the tray with foil, try to keep the area in the centre lifted. The foil will protect the strudel from burning during the first stage of cooking. Now, put the tray in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.

 

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After 30 minutes, take the tray out of the oven and remove the foil.

 

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Put the tray back in the oven and cook for another 15 minutes.

 

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When finished, the strudel should look like this.

 

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Set the strudel onto a wire rack to cool down.

 

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When the strudel is tepid, cut a slice and put the slice onto a plate. Garnish with some icing sugar.

 

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There you go! Apple strudel served with vanilla ice cream.

 

Buon appetito!

 

 

 

 

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Fri, 15 Feb 2013 09:48:46 GMT http://www.italyum.com/dessert-recipes/115-apple-strudel.html
Grilled vegetables (Verdure alla piastra) http://www.italyum.com/vegetable-recipes/112-grilled-vegetables.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

    
Preparation: 5 mins
Cooking:20 mins    
Difficulty: Easy

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Veggie Vegetarian

This is a quick way to prepare an "antipasto di verdure" (vegetable starter). However, vegetables cooked and seasoned in the way I am going to show you, can also be used as a side dish or as a filling for your sandwiches. Preparation is so simple that I am not going to tell you how much of this or how much of that; just play it by ear!

 

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In this case, I took one aubergine/eggplant and one courgette. Cut them in 3 mm (1/8") thick slices. Then, take a small handul of flat leaf parsley and roughly chop it (you will use this parsley for the final seasoning).

 

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A few hours before cooking the vegetables, put some extra virgin olive oil (about a glass) into a small container together with a couple of cloves of garlic (grossly cut) and a dash of parsley. Close the container with its lid and let the olive oil absorb the flafours. At the time of cooking, pour the container contents into a tray (any tray) in which you will accomodate the grilled vegetables.

 

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Bring tha cast iron grill pan at cooking temperature and start cooking all your slices. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until you see the characteristic blackened stripes.

 

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During the cooking, you can also apply a thin coat of oil onto the slices.

 

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Once the vegetable slices are cookied, put them into the tray. Sprinkle with some extra parsley.

 

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Season with salt.

 

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Season with white pepper or, if you love it hot, cut a fresh red chilli in thin slices and sprinkle them over.

 

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If it looks too dry, do not be worried; add some extra olive oil, but remember not to exaggerate!

 

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Stir everything together.

 

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Cover the tray with cling film.

 

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Let it marinate for a couple of hours before serving it cold.

 

Buon appetito!

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Wed, 13 Feb 2013 11:07:36 GMT http://www.italyum.com/vegetable-recipes/112-grilled-vegetables.html
Seafood risotto (Risotto alla pescatora) http://www.italyum.com/risotto-recipes/183-seafood-risotto8.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1a

    
Preparation: 20 mins
Cooking: 24-26 mins    
Difficulty: Medium 

What a delicious thing! If you love seafood, this dish will send you up to the moon. In this recipe I will show how to make this wonderful risotto without getting too messy; cleaning and preparing the fish. When you make it, be sure you use a good quality extra virgin olive oil. It is also important that you master the risotto basics, before attempting this recipe, so have a look at the basic "parmigiana risotto" recipe featured in the risotto section of the website. 

 

SERVES 4 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements): 

  • 350-400 g (12-14 oz) Carnaroli rice (alternatively Arborio rice)
  • 500 g (1.1 lb) Seafood selection (frozen)
  • 75 ml (3 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • 1 Chilli (mild)
  • 30 ml (2 tbs) Tomato purèe
  • 1 Shallot (finely chopped) - alternatively you can use ½ onion
  • 100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) White wine
  • 1 Litre (1 3/4 pints) of hot fish stock - 2 stock cubes - (I have to say that you often need more than 1 litre so have some extra stock handy)
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) Cracked black pepper
  • Salt for seasoning
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements): 

  • 12-14 ounces Carnaroli rice (alternatively Arborio rice)
  • 18 ounces (1 pound 2 ounces) Seafood selection (frozen)
  • 5 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • 1 Chilli (mild)
  • 2 tablespoons Tomato purèe
  • 1 Shallot (finely chopped) - alternatively you can use ½ onion
  • 6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) White wine
  • 4 1/4 cups of hot fish stock - 2 stock cubes - (I have to say that you often need more than 4 1/4 cups so have some extra stock handy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cracked black pepper
  • Salt for seasoning
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)

 

Note: nowadays you can buy a frozen seafood selection in most of the supermarkets (I always keep some in my freezer); this is usually a selection of shelled mussels, peeled prawns, squid rings and cockle/clam meat which are all pre cooked and then frozen.

 

Directions: 

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Defrost the frozen fish (do not use the microwave as it partially cooks the fish). Once defrosted, pat the fish dry with kitchen paper.

 

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The photograph shows about 500 g (1 pound 2 ounces) of clean and dry seafood; this is what I will use for this recipe, which is intended to serve 4 persons. However, there is not a fixed rule about the seafood quantity, you can also use 600 g (1 pound 6 ounces), if you like, but I would not go further.

 

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First and foremost, before you start cooking, be sure that the first thing you do is to prepare the stock so that it is readily available when required. The best thing to do is to have the stock just simmering, and no more, on the cooker.

 

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Put the olive oil in a large pan. Heat the oil and then add the garlic and the chilli (break the chilli bean in two pieces). Sweat them over a gentle heat until the garlic becomes golden in colour.

 

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When the garlic becomes golden, quickly remove it from the pan and discard it.

 

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Immediately after the garlic is discarded, remove the chilli and discard it.

 

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Now, turn the heat to medium and add the seafood into the pan.

 

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Stir well and cook for no more than 2-3 minutes (remember that the frozen seafood selection is aready pre cooked, so an excessive exposure the the heat would inevitably overcook the seafood); this is to flavour the oil and for preparing the seafood for the last stage.

 

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After 2-3 minutes, quickly remove the seafood (a slotted spoon is ideal for this operation) and put it into a bowl.

 

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Set the seafood aside for a later stage (I suggest covering the bowl with foil).

 

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Coming back to the pan, you can see that now we have a lovely flavoured oil wich we will use to start our risotto.

 

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Add the finely chopped shallot and sweat over a medium heat for about 3-5 minutes or until the shallot is soft.

 

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Add the rice.

 

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Stir until the rice is completely coated with the oil. You can see that the rice will start to become translucent. Keep stirring and sweat the rice for a minute or two.

 

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Then, add the white wine, keep stirring and let the wine evaporate (it will probably take a couple of minutes).

 

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Now, add the stock and turn the heat to medium/low. The stock, which has been kept simmering in order to stay hot, should be added at the rate of a couple of ladlefuls at a time and when this is absorbed, add more stock. Carry on in this way for about 15 minutes. During this stage, do not leave the pan alone and stir regularly (gently).

 

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Now, immediately after the first couple of ladlefuls of stock, add the tomato purèe.

 

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Stir.

 

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This is the colour you should get after the tomato purèe is evenly distributed.

 

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Meanwhile you keep going, adding stock as required and stirring (gently). The photograph shows the rice after about 10 cooking. At this stage, check the seasoning and add the salt accordingly.

 

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Also, add the black pepper.

 

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After 15 minutes you will probably need an extra 3 to 5 minutes to complete the final stage of cooking (this time depends on the type of rice you are using). This also means that you have only 3 to 5 minutes left to complete the cooking of the seafood. 

 

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So, add the seafood into the pan. The seafood is colder than the pan contents so increase the heat (high heat) for few seconds and then return the heat back to what it was before.

 

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From now on, taste the rice every minute until the rice is cooked "al dente" (this means that the rice is tender outside, but still slightly firm to the bite in the centre). At the same time, the tasting will tell you if you need to adjust seasoning with salt. Regular but gentle stirring is required for the last minutes in order to avoid the risotto sticking to the bottom of the pan.

 

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In these last minutes, if the stock is completely absorbed, you can gradually add a bit more (say half ladle at a time) because at this final stage you do not want the risotto becoming too watery.

 

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When the rice is perfectly cooked "al dente", add the parsley and stir for few seconds.

 

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The risotto is ready to be served.

 

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Risotto should be served "all'onda" (like a wave). This means that when you serve it onto the plate, it should still flow a little.

With this dish, I would suggest having ome black pepper on the table in case your guests wish to have an extra "kick"!

 

Buon appetito!

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Tue, 05 Feb 2013 16:56:25 GMT http://www.italyum.com/risotto-recipes/183-seafood-risotto8.html
Mozzarella in a carriage (Mozzarella in carrozza) http://www.italyum.com/specials/108-mozzarella-in-a-carriage-mozzarella-in-carrozza.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking: 4 mins

Difficulty: Easy

Mozzarella in carrozza (translated: mozzarella in a carriage) is a recipe that comes from the South of the country. It is a slice of mozzarella, sandwiched in between two bread slices and then fried. Usually is eaten as a snack or light lunch and it is very simple to prepare. It is important you use top quality ingredients when making it otherwise it will be no more than a tasteless fried sandwich!    

 

SERVES 4

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 8 Slices of bread about 8-10 mm thick
  • 1 Buffalo mozzarella ball (with one ball you will make 4 slices)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 30 ml (2 tbs) Milk
  • 4 Anchovy fillets (alternatively 4 little slices of cooked ham)
  • Salt and ground white pepper for seasoning
  • Light olive oil for frying (do not use sunflower oil!)

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements):

  • 8 Slices of bread about 3/8" thick
  • 1 Buffalo mozzarella ball (with one ball you will make 4 slices)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) Milk
  • 4 Anchovy fillets (alternatively 4 little slices of cooked ham)
  • Salt and ground white pepper for seasoning
  • Light olive oil for frying (do not use sunflower oil!)

 

Note: speaking about bread, in Italy, for practical reasons, it is quite common to use "pan carre`". This is a readily available soft white bread you can buy in any bakery or supermarket and it is usually sold already sliced.
However, considering that the recipe comes from southern Italy, the tradition there is to use a more rustic bread like "pane pugliese", alternatively you can try "pane toscano" or any equivalent country bread especially something homemade.
It is not necessary to have fresh bread; in the past people did not waste anything and the use of stale bread in recipes was a common practice. The loaf of bread in the picture above is one I had made with my bread machine and it is a couple of days old.

 

Directions:

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Cut the slices of bread. You need 8 slices to serve 4 persons.

 

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Pair the slices putting one on top of another and trim the edges to get rid of the crust. Also, the two slices must match in size.

 

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Cut the mozzarella ball into 4 slices like this.

 

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Pat dry the mozzarella slices using kitchen paper.

 

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Fill the pan with olive oil and start heating the oil.

 

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While the oil is getting hot, put the eggs in a large bowl and season with salt.

 

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Season with pepper.

 

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Stir with a fork for a few seconds.

 

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Add the milk.

 

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Stir again for a few seconds.

 

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Take two slices of bread and top one slice with mozzarella. The slice of mozzarella has to be smaller than the slice of bread so that the two slices of bread can be joined and encase the mozzarella.

 

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Put one anchovy fillet onto the slice of mozzarella. The anchovy will give the mozzarella in carrozza a nice and delicate flavour (if you are concern about fish bones, you can use anchovy paste instead). Another option, if you do not like anchivies, is to top the mozzarella with a little square of cooked ham.

 

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Cover with the second slice of bread.

 

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Press the sandwich down so that the two slices of bread join together, especially around the side edges.

 

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Now, take the sandwich and holding the two bread slices firmly together (it is easier to do this using both your hands), dip each side edge for a fraction of a second into cold water.

 

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Then, dip the wet side edge into the flour. This will create a sort of glue that will help to seal the sandwich during the frying stage.

 

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Here I am checking the oil temperature. I usually start frying when it reaches 160ºC (320ºF).

 

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When the oil has reached the right temperature for frying, dip the whole sandwich (on both sides) into the egg wash. It will be a bit messy but do not worry too much about it!

 

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The sandwich is ready for frying.

 

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Put the sandwich into the pan (you can use a wooden spatula to slide the sandwich down into the pan) and fry for about 2 minutes or until golden brown.

 

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Then, using a wooden spatula, turn the sandwich onto the other side and fry for another 2 minutes.

 

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Now, it looks ready, so take it out and lay the mozzarella in carrozza onto a kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.

 

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Next, put a few lettuce leaves on the plate and top them with the mozzarella in carrozza.

 

Buon appetito!

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Tue, 05 Mar 2013 10:15:15 GMT http://www.italyum.com/specials/108-mozzarella-in-a-carriage-mozzarella-in-carrozza.html
Meat rolls (Involtini al prosciutto) http://www.italyum.com/meat-recipes/107-meat-rolls-involtini-al-prosciutto.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1


Preparation: 30 mins
Cooking: 15 mins    
Difficulty: Easy

The "involtini" (meat rolls) is a very popular dish among the Italians, usually eaten with mashed potatoes or polenta. Its main characteristic is that you can fill them with whatever you want. It's a clever way to cook and flavour the meat, and you can prepare them in many different ways. Here, I will present one of the simplest recipes, which requires very few ingredients. Once you have mastered the technique, you can try making them with different fillings.

 

SERVES 4

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 8x60 g (2 1/2 oz) Thin slices topside of beef
  • 4 Wide slices of cooked ham (alternatively 8 small slices)
  • 8 Slices of processed cheese
  • A little container with plain flour for dusting
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 ml (4 fl oz) White wine
  • A ladleful of beef stock (dissolve 1 stock cube in about a pint of boiling water)
  • 5 Sage leaves
  • Salt and ground pepper for seasoning
  • About 3 metres of string for tying the meat (ask your butcher)

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements):

  • 8x 2 1/2 ounces Thin slices topside of beef
  • 4 Wide slices of cooked ham (alternatively 8 small slices)
  • 8 Slices of processed cheese
  • A little container with plain flour for dusting
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) White wine
  • A ladleful of beef stock (dissolve 1 stock cube in about a pint of boiling water)
  • 5 Sage leaves
  • Salt and ground pepper for seasoning
  • About 10 feet of string for tying the meat (ask your butcher)

 

Note: in the directions, watching the photograph where I add the sage leaves (left of the pan) you will notice some of the cheese trying to escape out; this is inevitable if you are using slices of processed cheese. If you do not want this to happen you may try a harder cheese like Parmesan cheese cut into batons and putting one baton in the roll.

 

Directions:

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Take the first topside slice of beef and put it onto a working surface. Cut one slice of cooked ham in two halves (I prefer using wide slices of cooked ham because I can cut them in different shapes and sizes according to my needs).

 

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Put one of the cooked ham slices you cut onto the topside slice as shown in the photograph.

 

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On the top of the ham put one slice of cheese.

 

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Slices of processed cheese melt easily so, to limit the cheese from coming out during the cooking, we need to flip the topside slices edges towards the inside as shown in the photograph.

 

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Next, roll the topside slice up.

 

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Tie the roll with a piece of string; this will keep the roll together during the cooking. There you are, the first involtino is ready! (involtino is the singular word and involtini is the plural).

 

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Repeat the procedure until you have 8 involtini.

 

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Coat each involtino with flour.

 

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Now, they are ready for cooking.

 

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Take a sauté pan that can contain all the involtini, put the olive oil into it and heat the oil (medium/high heat). Also, keep a small pan with the beef stock handy because you will need a ladleful of stock soon.

 

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When the oil is hot, add all the involtini into the pan.

 

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Brown the involtini. This will take few minutes, usually a couple of minutes for each side.

 

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Use a wooden spatula so that you can easily turn the involtini around until they are browned.

 

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Once browned, you will also notice that the bottom of the pan starts becoming a bit too dry so this is the right time to add the white wine.

 

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Let the wine evaporate for a couple of minutes, bring the heat down to medium/low and add the sage leaves.

 

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Season with black pepper.

 

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Season with salt.

 

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Add just one ladleful of beef stock and cook for few minutes until the sauce thickens (usually no more than 8-10 minutes).

 

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They are ready!

 

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Serve them hot, accompanied with mashed potatoes.

 

Buon appetito!

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Wed, 30 Jan 2013 11:31:53 GMT http://www.italyum.com/meat-recipes/107-meat-rolls-involtini-al-prosciutto.html
Preparing coffee with the moka http://www.italyum.com/tips/106-preparing-coffee-with-the-moka.html Preparing coffee with the moka applies to the "tiramisù" recipe, featured in the dessert section of the website

 

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Here, I have gathered some information with the aim of giving a rough guide to those interested in Italian coffee and how to prepare it.

Coffee is considered, by most, the perfect accompaniment to end our meals and Italians love it so much that they constantly pursue the perfect coffee through the creation of new blends and ways of preparing it. There are different ways of preparing the coffee but here I would like to focus only on the most traditional, as made by most Italian families at home, using a traditional stove top coffee maker (a.k.a. moka). 

When speaking about moka, everybody in Italy associates it with its most famous manufacturer "Bialetti". The moka is a coffee pot patented in 1933 by the Italian company Bialetti. It is made of three parts: the lower pot (the one with the safety valve), the filter cup (the one with lots of tiny holes that looks like a funnel) and the top pot (the one with a chimney in the middle). The Bialetti traditional moka is made of aluminium and this is still my favourite despite the market, nowadays, producing endless variation of it, with new designs and materials (e.g. made of stainless steel).

To make a good coffee you need to follow a few simple rules:

Blending & grinding

The blend is important and in Italy there are many companies called "torrefazione artigianale" that specialise in blending and roasting the coffee beans. Each of these companies has their own secrets and their job is taken so seriously that I would compare it to the one carried out by a Scottish distillery when preapring their own blended whisky.

There are about 60 coffee plant varieties in the world but only a dozen are used commercially to create these blends. Choosing a blend is very much a matter of choice and personal taste. My suggestion is to try different blends from different producers. Once you find the right one for you, you are likely to stick to it forever! If you are in Italy and have the chance to go to Naples or Trieste, try to taste their "caffe` espresso" at the bar; apparently is the best you can taste in the country.

When buying your blend, check that it is not too old and make sure it is not one specifically made for espresso machines. The coffee for espresso machines is grinded too finely and, if you use it with a moka, the result will be a slightly bitter coffee. So, check that the pack says " for moka use" or "suitable for all coffee makers".

All the coffee containers/packs you find at the supermarket should be vacuum packed. This avoids the coffee absorbing any other odour that would compromise its original aroma. Once the container is open, you should put the coffee in a tin or glass jar with an airthight lid and keep the jar in a fresh, dark place. For extended storage, some people keep their coffee in the bottom of the fridge. I would not suggest buying whole coffee beans, unless you know exactly how to grind them and how to identify if the beans have been roasted correctly.

Water

This is extremely important! To make a good coffee you need to use soft and possibly unchlorinated water. In Naples, they say that the secret for a good coffee is in the water (this is also the secret for making a good pizza dough).

Using the coffee pot

Firstly, fill the lower pot with cold water. The water level should stay below the safety valve (usually there is a notch inside the lower pot that shows the correct water level). However, I strongly recommend checking on the manufacturer's instruction leaflet how much water to put in the lower pot (this is a safety issue as well!). 

Next, set the filter cup inside the lower pot and put the coffee in the filter cup. The coffee should be levelled with the cup edge (or slighlty below) and never press the coffe down, just let it fall gently from your spoon into the filter cup.  Now, close the whole moka by tightening the top pot with the lower pot and then put the moka on a low heat. After a few minutes you will see the main coffee flow coming from the top of the chimney. When the main flow is near to the end, it will start spurting, so remove the moka from the heat. Purists say that the last part of the "spurting flow" is just steam and water and that would spoil the coffee. Before serving the coffee, stir it when it is still in the moka, so it is evenly distributed (the first coffee coming out is different from the last).

Just a warning: never leave the coffee to boil, this would burn the coffee.

When using a brand new moka for the first time, you should use it only with water and then discard the water. The second time, make your coffee as per instructions and discard it. Having done that, the moka is ready and you can have your coffee. The older the moka the better your coffee!

Cleaning the moka

Never use washing up liquid or other detergents. Rinse all the components with fresh running water and to remove traces of coffee you may use a small brush (a tooth brush is ideal for this purpose). Also, refer to the moka manufacturer's instructions leaflet concerning the cleaning of the moka and its safety valve.

The coffee cup

Purists drink their coffee in pre-heated porcelain cups. If you want to buy these kind of cups, be sure that the wall of the cup is thick.

About the espresso machines

These machines make a coffee in about 20 seconds; hot water passes through the filter at a higher pressure than a traditional moka, which gives the name "espesso" (fast). Espresso machines are great and the coffee is usually better than the coffee prepared with the moka; I would say more intense. However, the coffee is good only if the machine is used every day and many times like in every Italian bar, restaurant or motorway station (Autogrill). Unless you run a coffee shop or you have 100 guests per day in your house, I do not see the point of having one of these machines; they need more maintenance as well so it is probbaly better to leave these machines to the coffee shops.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tue, 05 Mar 2013 15:11:50 GMT http://www.italyum.com/tips/106-preparing-coffee-with-the-moka.html
About garlic http://www.italyum.com/tips/105-about-garlic.html About garlic 

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Here, I am not writing about the history of garlic and its wonderful therapeutic properties; if you want this stuff there is plenty of information on internet. What matters to us, when using garlic as cooking ingredients, is to know the way to use it so, here are some tips.

Take the galic clove, remove the paper skin with a small knife and cut the garlic clove lengthways (the above photograph shows this sequence, left to right). After, you can crush the clove, you can chop it or cut it into thin slices depending on the recipe you are making. As a general rule, when preparing a sauté (in Italy we say "soffritto"), the more garlic surface is in contact with the oil, the more flavour will be released into the oil, hence thin slices or chopped garlic will release more flavour than a whole clove.

When using garlic in a sauté, remember not to go more than the "golden" colour stage. Never never dark brown!

 

Note: garlic has a strong and persistent aroma and those who recommend discarding the central shoot (no matter if it is green or white), do so because they are probably convinced that discarding the shoot will reduce the effects of the garlic on the breath. However, this theory, so far, has not been scientifically proven, so it is up to you what to do with the shoot (I usually discard it).

 

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When preparing pasta dishes or salads and you want a subtle garlic aroma in the background, cut the clove of garlic lengthways and rub the live side around the inside of the pasta or salad bowl. The garlic aroma will give a very gentle finish to the dish without disturbing the most sensitive stomachs!   

 

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Tue, 05 Mar 2013 14:44:43 GMT http://www.italyum.com/tips/105-about-garlic.html
Polenta http://www.italyum.com/specials/104-polenta.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

 

Preparation time: 5 mins
Cooking: 45 mins

Difficulty: Easy

Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes Veggie Vegetarian

Polenta is one of those things able to bring my memory back to the best times of my childhood. I remember my aunt preparing polenta on a wooden fire using a copper cauldron and saying "you need to keep stirring". The cracking noise of the wood logs, the steam, the smoke, this yellow thing that becomes more and more difficult to stir, what a wonderful experience! There is something mystical about making polenta, like when preparing bread at home, and there was no Sunday without it.

I come from the Lombardy region of Italy, specifically from Brescia province, which with Bergamo province, is probably considered the polenta area for excellence, despite it being popular in all North Italy. However, it seems that it was developed first in the North east of the country, in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy, in the 16th century. 

Anyway, polenta goes with everthing! In North Italy it is a must with any kind of game and poultry or pork meat. It is also quite common as accompaniment to fish like stockfish (stoccafisso), pike, perch, eel and many others. In this recipe I will give you few ideas about how to use polenta in its simplest and most wonderful way.

 

SERVES 6-8

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 4 Litres of water
  • 30 g (2 level tbs) Coarse salt
  • 1 kg (2.2 lb) Traditional polenta flour

 

Ingredients (U.S. measurements):

  • 4 quarts 5/8 cup of water
  • 2 level tablespoons Coarse salt
  • 2 pounds 3 ounces Traditional polenta flour

 

Note:polenta flour is made by ground corn kernels and it has a coarse finish. You can buy traditional polenta flour on the internet or Italian deli shops. Supermarkets usually sell "ready made" or "fast" versions of polenta but by buying them you would miss the point!

 

Directions:

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For 1 Kg (2 pounds 3 ounces) of polenta flour, you need a big pan (a copper cauldron for the purists!) containing 4 litres (4 quarts 5/8 cup) of cold water. Put the pan on the heat (high heat - only at this initial stage) and immediately add the salt into the pan.

 

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When the water is tepid, add the flour gradually. In Italy we say to add the flour "a pioggia", that means like a gentle rain.

 

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Now, whisk with energy for few seconds so that you prevent the forming of any lumps.

 

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Next, bring the heat to medium/low and, slowly, start stirring with a big wooden spoon (in the photograph you can see that I am using a specific polenta spoon). I am sorry for your arms but now you need to keep stirring for at least 45 minutes (if you are bored, have a glass of wine and listen to the music or chat with someone).

 

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This photograph shows the polenta making after 10 minutes stirring.

 

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This photograph shows the polenta making after 20 minutes stirring.

 

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This photograph shows the polenta making after 30 minutes stirring. At this stage the polenta is a bit hard to stir so it would probably be better to hold the pan with one hand (here, using a kitchen glove would be a good idea) while stirring with the other.

 

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There you go, this is the polenta after 45 minutes cooking. I will stop here because the polenta is ready, since it has reached the right consistency. Consistency is subjective; a purist would prefer the polenta more firm without showing any flowing once spooned onto the plate, but for what I have in mind I need the polenta still a bit flowing and a further 10 minutes cooking would make it too hard.

 

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Now, I will show you few simple preparations starting from my favourite. Spoon some hot polenta onto the plate and top it with a knob of good quality butter.

 

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Let the butter melt a bit and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and eat it. Another version is to cut a few small pieces of Gorgonzola cheese and insert the cheese inside the hot polenta so that it will melt easily. Both these preparations are delicious and very simple to make.

 

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Another preparation is to cook some sausages. There are many different ways to cook sausages but if you want something quick and easy, just grill them. Before putting the sausages under the grill, pinch them with a fork so they will drop some of their tasty fat in the bottom of the grill pan; we will use some of this fat as well.

 

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Start cooking the sausages about 15-20 minutes before the polenta is ready so you can top the hot polenta straightaway with them.

 

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When the polenta is ready, spoon some of it onto a plate, spread a couple of dessert spoons of fat (collect it from the bottom of the grill pan) over the polenta and finally top the whole thing with your sausages.

 

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Another way to use polenta is as follows. Put a knob of butter into a shallow oven tray.

 

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Melt the butter.

 

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Now, using a kitchen paper, spread the butter around, including the sides. Using the kitchen paper, you will also remove the excess butter.

 

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For this to work perfectly, you need to use polenta that flows a bit so remember to use polenta at its 45 minutes cooking stage and no more. Add as many spoons as you need to cover the bottom of the tray, having a layer 1 cm (3/8") thick or slightly more.

 

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Spread the polenta with a spatula to create an even and uniform layer. Leave to cool for about 1 hour.

 

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Now, turn the tray over a flat surface (I used a glass chopping board) and let the polenta layer drop down.

 

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Cut the layer in whatever shape you like.

 

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Put the polenta pieces onto a cast iron griddle pan and cook them until their surface shows the typical blackened stripes. You can top these hot pieces with Parmesan cheese or eat them as they come.

 

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Finally, another way to have polenta is to spoon some flowing polenta onto a pizza tray. Put some baking paper in the bottom of the tray, add the polenta and then cover with a second layer of paper. Using a rolling pin, you can help spread the polenta so that you have a thin layer similar to pizza.

 

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Next, remove the top paper.

 

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Cut the paper around the tray to look a bit more tidy.

 

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Top the polenta layer with few small knobs of butter.

 

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Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

 

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Now, it is ready for the grill or the oven. You may wish to top the layer with something else, then do it! (e.g. cured meat, different types of cheese, bacon, anchovy fillets etc).

 

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Cook until the top surface is lightly browned.

 

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Cut some slices and serve as it is.

From what you can see, polenta is a very versatile thing and I would leave it to your imagination. Once you have mastered the basic technique, you will be able to create endless versions and amuse your family members and friends.

 

Buon appetito!

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Tue, 05 Mar 2013 10:55:45 GMT http://www.italyum.com/specials/104-polenta.html
Fiery Penne Pasta (Penne all'arrabbiata) http://www.italyum.com/pasta-recipes/103-fiery-penne-penne-allarrabbiata.html Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes | Italyum easy, authentic Italian recipes WebPhoto 1

Preparation time: 5 mins

Cooking: 25 mins

Difficulty: Easy

Firstly, this fiery dish gains its name arrabbiata (angry) because of the use of chilli. When preparing this angry dish, feel free to use as much chilli as you want, it is up to you and to your mouth, to make it angry or very angry!

This is a recipe that has its origin in the central part of Italy, more precisely, it belongs to the Roman cooking tradition. As you can imagine, in Italy there are many versions of it because of the different regional cooking traditions that influence this famous dish; some are so adventurous that they have nothing to do with a proper arrabbiata (like the use of cream or anchovies).

I believe the best arrabbiata is in its minimalist form and I believe that an arrabbiata should not contain pork meat (usually bacon) because otherwise we would trespass on another famous Roman dish, the “Bucatini all’amatriciana”, which rightly requires pork meat. The arrabbiata, in its simple way, is an aglio, oglio e peperoncino with the adding of chopped tomatoes, where fresh top quality ingredients should be used. Also, the adding of Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese is not recommended because it would overwhelm the typical flavour of this dish.

 

SERVES 4 

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Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements)

  • 400 g (14 oz) Penne rigate (ridged quill pasta)
  • 90 ml (3 1/2 oz) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 or 3 Whole dried red chilli (roughly chopped) 
  • 500 g (1.1 lb) Chopped tomatoes
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)
Salt for seasoning

Ingredients (U.S measurements)

  • 14 ounces Penne rigate (ridged quill pasta)
  • 6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 or 3 Whole dried red chilli (roughly chopped) 
  • 18 ounces (1 pound 2 ounces) Chopped tomatoes
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)
  • Salt for seasoning 
 

Directions: