Some Favorite Recipes
|To make bruschetta (pronounced bruce-ketta), grill both sides of thick slices of saltless Umbrian or Tuscan bread and place them on a big platter. Their surfaces will be like sand paper. Stick a large clove of garlic on the end of a fork, rub the garlic over the bread, then drizzle on the best, freshest olive oil you can get. Salt to taste, and enjoy with a glass of good red wine! |
This fresh tomato and bread soup is best at the end of summer when the tomato vines carry their most intensely-flavored fruits. It should have the consistency of pappa, baby’s pablum. A favorite mid-August Ferragosto dish.
¼ cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled
1 cup homemade chicken stock (see below)
6-8 slices of day-old Italian style whole wheat bread, or saltless Tuscan bread
A handful of fresh basil, torn into small pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Grated pecorino romano cheese, or Parmegiano-Reggiano
Olive oil to drizzle
Heat olive oil in a heavy pot over medium heat and sauté onion slightly.
Chop tomatoes and add to pot, along with their juices. Add stock, salt and pepper, and minced garlic and simmer for 10 minutes.
Break up the bread, add it to the tomato mixture, and stir for 5 minutes. Stir in the fresh basil.
Remove from heat, cover, and cool for one hour.
When almost ready to serve, warm your soup plates. Stir the pappa again, taste and correct seasoning if necessary, and heat it again. Serve with grated pecorino romano cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
For the chicken stock:
Coarsely chop together: one handful each of carrots, celery, Italian flat-leafed parsley, and one medium yellow onion (this combination of vegetables is called aroma or odori; when sautéed they are a soffritto). Saute the vegetables in a little olive oil in a heavy pot over low heat for 5 minutes. Add 2 quarts of water and one-half pound chicken wings.
Cover and cook over medium heat for one hour. Strain and use the clear broth for soups, risotto, etc.
|Sugo di Cinghiale, Wild Boar Stew
1 pound wild boar shoulder, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup good olive oil
Aromi: handful flat-leafed Italian parsley, 1-2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks washed and coarsely chopped together
1 small branch rosemary, 5-6 inches long
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup pitted black olives
3 fresh bay leaves
6-7 juniper berries
4-5 capers preserved in vinegar
1 liter passato di pomodori, good quality Italian puréed tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon salt
In a heavy pot, sauté and stir the aromi until soft. Add the remainder of the ingredients except for the tomato sauce and wine. Cook and stir for another 5 minutes over medium heat, then add the tomato sauce and wine. Cover and cook over low heat for 1 hour, stirring regularly, until the meat is tender, adding more wine if necessary to prevent sticking. Taste and correct for salt. Serve alongside polenta, or over it, on a wooden polenta board or in a large pasta bowl.
|Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad, with Radicchio and Arugula
|This colorful, refreshing salad has many variations, some with olives and sliced red onions. It goes particularly well with pork and duck. |
1 fennel bulb, sliced very thinly with a sharp knife
Fennel fronds, if available
Handful of arugula, stems removed
6 leaves radicchio, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 orange, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
3 parts good olive oil
1 part apple or white wine vinegar
Juice of another orange
Salt and white pepper to taste
Combine fennel, fronds, radicchio and arugula in a large bowl, toss with dressing. To serve, spiral and overlap the orange slices onto the top of the salad, drizzle with more olive oil and a little salt and pepper.
Adapted from a recipe which appeared in Bon Appetit from the Florentine restaurant Oliviero. We use Lindt 70% cacao bars which are thin, easy to break up, and delicious, often finishing it off with an icing of chocolate ganache sprinkled with chopped walnuts.
For the cake:
1 cup (4 ounces) lightly toasted walnuts
3 tablespoons plus ½ cup sugar
5 large eggs, separated, or 6 if they're small
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ounces dark chocolate, broken in pieces, then finely chopped in the food processor
Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan; line the bottom and sides with baking parchment.
In the food processor, finely grind 1 cup walnuts with 3 tablespoons of sugar. Pour into a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
Process the broken pieces of chocolate and pulse till all are pulverized. Blend into the ground walnuts and sugar mixture.
Separate eggs into two medium-sized steel bowls.
Beat the egg yolks with ½ cup sugar "till you can write your name in it", about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, and stir in walnut-sugar-chocolate mixture. It will be thick and sticky. Wash and dry the beaters.
Beat the egg whites and 1/8 teaspoon salt until stiff. Then, little by little, carefully fold the egg whites into egg-walnut-sugar-chocolate mixture. Do not over mix. When all is blended, pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the torte comes out clean, about 40 minutes. (I think it's better to be too moist than too dry.) Remove from the oven, place on a rack, and leave to cool completely. Before releasing the springform pan, run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake. Release the spring and carefully remove the cake, inverting it on to a plate. Then peel off the parchment paper. If the surface is very uneven, level it off with a sharp knife.
Chocolate Ganache Icing
½ cup heavy cream
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
½ cup chopped walnuts
In a heavy sauce pan over low heat, bring 1/2 cup heavy cream to a boil, and then turn off the heat. Add 4 ounces semisweet chocolate broken into small pieces. Whisk it steadily until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. It will thicken as it cools.
Invert the torte onto a pretty plate, dribble the ganache over it, and decorate the top with chopped walnuts, or fruit such as cherries, raspberries or strawberries.
Or forego the ganache and give it simply a dusting of powdered sugar with a scoop of vanilla or stracciatella (vanilla with streaks of chocolate) gelato on the side.
Make this simple classic a day in advance for your next dinner party. It’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser!
1 liter (4 cups) whipping cream
½ liter (2 cups) fresh milk
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 packages Knox gelatin (or 8 leaves of fish gelatin, available in Italy)
If using Knox gelatin, soften as directed on package.
Bring to boil cream, milk, sugar and vanilla, stirring constantly, and then remove from heat. After allowing the mixture to cool a little, whisk in gelatin little by little until entirely melted. (Do not allow the cream to boil with the gelatin or it won’t set.)
Pour into ring mold, a large bowl, or individual serving bowls or goblets, and refrigerate for 12 hours before serving.
If using a ring mold, dip the bottom very quickly (3 seconds) into a pan of very hot water to loosen. Turn it onto a pretty plate and fill the center with pureed cooked fruit, mixed berries (frutti di bosco), sweetened with acacia honey or chocolate sauce.