Feb 25, 2009

A few of my favorite things

Making homemade pasta, brushing the grit off fresh porcini mushrooms, simmering pumpkin in butter and sage, and flaking truffles on the designated slicing implement, constitute some of my highest culinary moments of bliss. Combining the lot and making dinner is my epitome of gastonomic ga ga. Here’s a seasonal autumn/winter recipe I love to make, prepare and scoff in equal measure.
The term Strozzapreti (literally Priest Chokers) carries with it the implication that the cook’s intent is that these rather hearty half-dumplings half-cavatelli type pasta, will catch in a priest's delicate throat as they're going down. I doubt it, they are simply very good and might simply be the avid eater’s big mouthful, whatever the religious belief.

Strozzapreti, Porcini, Zucca & Tartufo
Ingredients for 4 epicureans:
250 gr (1 1/4 cups) all purpose flour, sifted
150 cc (1/2 cup) mineral water (not sparkling!)
A pinch of salt

Sift the flour in a large mixing bowl, add the salt and water and knead the dough until a thick lumpless ball forms, this should take no longer than 6 minutes, as overkneading will make the dough excessively hard.
Divvy up the dough in apricot-size balls and separate them on your work surface (preferably wooden) dusted with more flour.
You can now proceed to shaping it into your strozzapreti. Roll the dough balls flat with a dusted rolling pin, to a 1/2 to 3/4 inch thickness. Fold the flattened dough over like a burrito and cut 1/2 inch slices. Undo the strands and flour them too to avoid stickage.
Now to obtain the typical strozzapreti shape, you have to take each individual strand and roll it between your palms. The result is a ‘rolled up towel’ shape, one very suitable for virtually “grabbing” the sauce.
Dust a kitchen towel with flour and rest the strozzapreti on it for about 30 minutes before cooking.

Now onto the salsa.
200 gr (1 cup) fresh porcini mushrooms
200 gr (1 cup) fresh pumpkin pulp, diced
1 small black truffle (if you can get your hands on a delicate white Piemontese tartufo, even better)
1 sprig of fresh sage
200 ml (7 fl oz) whole milk
50 gr (1/4 cup) butter
Salt & pepper to taste

Clean the porcini by rubbing them gently with a damp cloth and chopping off the soiled part of the stems. Slice the larger ones and halve the smaller caps and stems.
In a large enough skillet, sauté the pumpkin in butter and sage for 3 minutes, over vivacious heat. Add the milk, lower the heat and cook for 5 more minutes. Now add the chopped mushrooms, adjust seasoning and cook for 10 more minutes.
In the meantime bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil and cook your strozzapreti al dente (this will take a lot less time than regular dried pasta, so keep a close watch).
Drain the pasta and transfer it to the warm skillet where the sauce is, and blend well off the burner. Dish out and then sliver the tartufo wafers directly in the individual plates. No Parmigiano this time, the tartufo would otherwise suffer.
A good wine for this cold weather extravaganza is a Colli del Trasimeno or any rosé that will allow the mixture of flavors to remain intact while sustaining the contrast between the pasta’s tenacious nature and the sauce’s velvety softness.
Buon appetito.

10 comments:

  1. Sounds doable. I do not make fresh pasta too often; but this version seems easy.

    On another note, I have been trying to find a recipe for Pettole di San Giuseppe, a sweet dough, fried concoction. Do you happen to know?

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  2. I can get it and pass it on. Here in Rome they're called Bigné di San Giuseppe or Zeppole di San Giuseppe, but the idea is the same: a fried dough fritter filled with decadent custard. Go to my post "A sweet little place downtown" for a glimpse at the Carnevale pastry (we had some filled with Nutella too...)

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  3. That picture even smells delicious... looks fabulous! Definitely something to try before it gets too warm.

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  4. Hey, I detected you on Lakeviewer`s blog. Thank you for the recipe, and I will scroll down to read more!
    Hug your baby for me. Children are the best!

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  5. Wow! That looks amazing. I almost licked the monitor.

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  6. Anno and Shan: that was my goal when posting, besides sharing the recipe, I wanted to make you smell and virtually taste the dish. It worked! thank you for stopping by. Ciao!

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  7. Angela: you are so right, children rock. Pity I found out so late... Ciao and come back to visit soon!

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