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Posts Tagged ‘Parmesan cheese’

GOOD MORNING and WELCOME

Raffaella greeted us warmly over coffee in the garden and introduced us to,each other. Today there would be five of us to start and by lunch time we could expect another member of our crew.  Besides Barbara and me, there was Sue, a lovely young woman from South Korea, and a couple from Australia.

Raffaella described the menu which would be five courses, five courses! She divided us into teams and we marched into her kitchen. Not knowing what to expect I was surprised to find out we would be cooking in Rafaella’s family kitchen.  Have you ever seen an orange refrigerator?

Pretty Raffaella with her bright orange refrigerator

We sat around a long rectangular table covered with two smooth wide boards, wearing our Let’s Cook in Umbria aprons.

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The key to good cooking – Mise en place! Making Apricot Galette

Five courses seemed like a daunting task to me!  However, organization, excellent prep work before you begin and Raffaella had an assistant who constantly removed bowls and washed and replaced utensils.  We started this morning with dessert – an apricot galette.  Not just dessert, the galette is considered breakfast food! Each team had a task; slicing apricots, making and kneading dough, creating the frangipane cream.  We even ground the almonds to make our own almond flour. When all the parts came together, it went into the oven and we cleaned the tables for the next project.

The next course we worked on was a fresh tomato sauce which would complement the potato gnocchi we would make later on.  I don’t think I ever found out the name of the tomatoes we used that day, they were not San Mariano which she explained would need to be skinned and seeded.  They looked like large cherry tomatoes.

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I am a quintessential tomato 🍅 lover and this photo is making my mouth water!

On the farm so aptly named  La volpe e l’uvo ( the fox and the grape), Rafaella and her family grow olives and grapes as well as a large vegetable garden.  The olive oil we are using has been pressed from their olives, the basil grown in her garden, I’m not sure about the tomatoes.

First course coming up: we’re going to make Millefoglie di melanzane, which when they were finished looked like mini eggplant/tomato volcanos.  I know that’s hard to picture so I’ll describe the construction:  You thinly slice eggplant on the diagonal and bake them in the oven till softened but not browned. Then you cut cherry tomatoes in half equatorially,squeeze and juice them and cut in quarters, add salt and olive oil and toss. Now you create the volcano – Take a thick slice of eggplant, pile tomato pieces on it, spread some scamorza cheese (mild soft cow’s milk cheese lightly smoked)over the tomatoes, sprinkle some torn pieces of basil and a pinch of Parmesan. Then  put a second slice of eggplant on top and gently press down and repeat the process. Top it off with a big pinch of grated Parmesan and a basil leaf.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  They were cute and they were good and you can make them ahead of time.  I think they would make a great first course at a dinner party. I don’t have a photo of ones that we made but here’s a couple of variations, so you’ll get the idea.

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A few more layers than we made – Where’s the Parmesan?

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I don’t think using sliced tomatoes is classic.

Time to make the main course, Chicken Cacciatore or Hunter’s Chicken.  Rafaella explained why this dish is called Hunter’s Chicken;  She explained that it is made with what the hunter could bring and/or find to add to his chicken while cooking it. She  listed the ingredients : chicken, herbs:sage,rosemary,thyme,fennel, garlic, white wine, 2 anchovy fillets, wine vinegar.  There always has to be one smartass in the class, so it might as well be me who asks, where did the hunter find the anchovy fillets?

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Chicken Caccitore Hunter’s Chicken

The morning hours pass much more quickly than I thought they would.  We have sliced, diced, peeled and kneaded, measured and weighed grams and listened to some beautiful music along the way.  Rafaella’s husband is a professional musician, her daughter sings and composes piano music.

The last thing to make were the gnocchis, because you can’t make them way beforehand, and once they’re cooked, time to eat.

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Gnocchi and fresh tomato sauce

A morning’s work deserves a delicious reward and so an alfresco lunch with the fruits of our labors awaited us in the garden.

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And home made wine too!

There’s always room for dessert!

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Apricot and blueberry galette

About an hour’s rest and we will be off to Deruta to a famous ceramic factory and then a winery!

To Be Continued…

 

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Photo from eatwell101

Photo from eatwell101

It seems like all of the recipes coming from Ada Boni’s The Talisman Italian Cookbook either use spaghetti or rigatoni.  Personally as a kid growing up, my favorite was shells because I could scoop up sauce inside each one.  This dish was/is a standard in most Italian restaurants in America.  There are slight variations to this classic and I wonder how today’s great chefs like Batali and Colicchio make their Carbonara dishes.  This one is very simple as are most recipes in this cookbook.

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb spaghetti (#8)

1/4 b lean bacon diced

3/4 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese

3 eggs lightly beaten

1/4 cup white wine

1 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Cook spaghetti in rapidly boiling salted water until tender.  While spaghetti is cooking, fry bacon over low flame until bacon is crisp.  Add cheese (and wine) to beaten eggs.  Drain spaghetti and return to the pot.  Pour egg mixture over the hot spaghetti;  add pepper and two TBS of very hot bacon fat.  Stir.  The heat of the spaghetti should cook the egg mixture.  Transfer to hot platter; garnish with bacon.  Serve.

Call the cardiologist!

Recipe from The Talisman Italian Cook Book

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So I’m still perusing The Talisman Italian Cookbook by Ada Boni and searching for pasta dishes I feel I can post.  These dishes have definite roots in Southern Italy and Sicily, the emphasis is on very few ingredients that are readily available and relatively inexpensive.  Many of these meals are what I would call peasant food. This is not a derogatory term by any means because so many of the meals we ate in my home were of this ilk. If I weren’t in the throes of my Macaroni Marathon, I could tell you about Giambotta which is supposed to Vegetable Stew but in my house was a combination of peppers, eggs and onions, maybe some tomatoes – NOT my favorite! Or a lunch of chicken hearts, liver and kidneys – You see, the meals followed the rule of Waste Not-Want Not! 

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb spaghetti

1 lb chicken livers

2 TBS olive oil

1 onion, chopped fine

2 cups tomato paste

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 lb mushrooms, trimmed

1/2 lb butter

DIRECTIONS:

Cook spaghetti in rapidly boiling salted water until tender and drain.

Meanwhile heat olive oil in large frying pan, add onion and brown until golden in color.  Add tomato purée, salt and pepper. Add spaghetti and keep over low flame, stirring constantly until thoroughly heated.  Sauté mushrooms and chicken livers in butter.  Place spaghetti mixture on serving dish, pour over it the mushroom and chicken livers and serve with sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Recipe from The Talisman Italian Cook Book

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When I was growing up my mother would often use this expression;  Like “You haven’t cleaned your room in a month of Sundays” or “It seems like a month of Sundays since you called” – the latter said to me as an adult no longer living at home, obviously meant to be a minor guilt trip.  Just think how long a real month of Sundays is!

Anyway, I feel like I’ve been gone a month of Sundays when in fact it’s been just over a month.  I don’t know why I went on hiatus from my blog – I just did.  I had some distractions – work being a major obligation of late; then I got hooked on watching Orange Is The New Black and every night and free minute I had I would escape to Netflix and indulge myself with back to back episodes and no commercials.  And then, OMG my neighbor gave us the complete set of Breaking Bad which we watched every night into the wee hours of the next morning.  Not excuses, just reasons.

I’ve decided to devote a week or two (or three?) of blogs to my second favorite food – PASTA!  Well actually we called it macaroni.  I think this obsession/passion for pasta is the direct result of dieting.  After all, when you are abstaining or at least eating a lot less of some favorite food of yours, don’t you find yourself hungering for it (pun intended)?  I just love cooking and eating pasta and although I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, these recipes are just not your mother’s macaroni.  In my house we had two kinds of macaroni meals;  Shells, Ziti or Rigatoni with gravy (red sauce) and meatballs or Linguine with olive oil, garlic and parsley.

Today being Sunday, I’m starting my macaroni marathon with the meal I made tonight.  The butter coaxes the sweetness from the cabbage.

Spaghetti with Savoy Cabbage and Breadcrumbs

Spaghetti with Savoy Cabbage and Breadcrumbs

SPAGHETTI WITH SAVOY CABBAGE AND BREADCRUMBS

INGREDIENTS:

8 oz of spaghetti, linguine or angel hair pasta

5 TBS unsalted butter

1-2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or minced

1/2 cup fresh  (not dried) breadcrumbs (from a rustic loaf)

9 cups of thinly sliced Savoy cabbage (1 medium head)

1/2 cup water

3 TBS heavy cream

1/4 cup grated  Parmesan cheese plus more for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Bring pot of salted water to boil.  Cook pasta until al dente according package directions.  Reserve 1/2 – 3/4 cup pasta water.

Meanwhile, melt 2 TBS butter in medium skillet over medium heat.  Cook garlic till fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in breadcrumbs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook stirring until breadcrumbs are golden brown, 4-5 minutes.

Melt remaining 3 TBS butter in large high-sided skillet or braising pan over medium high heat.  Add cabbage, season with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat, cook until slightly wilted 3-4 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup water.  Cook, covered until tender about 4 minutes.  Uncover, and let any water evaporate.  Stir in cream.  Cook until sauce is reduced and thick enough to coat cabbage, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Add pasta and reserved liquid to cabbage.  Cook for 1 minute.  Stir in cheese.  Transfer to platter.  Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over top, and garnish with more cheese.

OPTIONAL: Serve topped with fried or poached eggs or crumbled bacon to add some protein.

Recipe from Martha Stewart Living

You can find all of my pasta recipes in the categories: We Called It Macaroni and Tasty Tidbits Tuesday and Everyday Food

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