Jan 28, 2011

Charcuteries, bread bakers, butchers, enoteche...


I'm in list mode.

I've shared the contents of my pantry, logged Italy's favorite cheeses, assembled a salumi primer and itemized popular pasta types. I recently wrote a post on where to find raw milk, listed covert croissant dealers, and provided a full index of Rome's neighborhood and farmer's markets.

As part of my alimentary-obsessed research, I have now compiled a list of Rome's best specialty stores and local foodie shrines, divided by the items on which they focus. (read more...)


Jan 26, 2011

5

Five years ago my life changed.
Suddenly everything shifted out of proportion.
It was no longer all about me.
And I liked it.

Work was not where all my energies went any more.
The word Love had a brand new definition.
I completely abandoned the concept of selfish and skinny jeans.
And I was no longer alone.

I discovered that despite working three jobs to make ends meet,
being reliable, mindful, competent and smile in the face of adversity,
guilt and hormones would always catch up with me, no matter how hard I tried.

But with the new deal, I had been also granted super hero status:
I could function with 3 hours of sleep;
possessed unbelievable strength and surprising resourcefulness in the darkest of moments;
and was the center of the universe for someone special.

Five years ago someone came into my world, and made it his.
He was new and I was renewed. I was improved. And he was pure.
He charged into my existence blasting his primal yawp,
but the cries stopped the instant our cheeks touched.

His warm and still covered in a thin layer of what felt like chapstick,
mine teary with emotion and smiling from uncontrollable happiness.
I may have had induced loss of sensation below the waist,
but in the rest of me, the feelings were magnified.

Five years ago, my son was born.
And from that day onwards, I have been a better woman.

Thank you E. for changing my life,
for turning my world around
and for teaching me the meaning of true love.



 

Happy birthday, my darling boy. 
Five years flew by, I can't believe it. 
My sweet, adorable and loving child, 
I am so happy and proud to be your mamma.

Buon compleanno, topolino. Sei tutta la mia vita.

Jan 22, 2011

Pasta e Zucca

Pasta e Zucca is one of the staples of the Neapolitan winter table, one of those dishes people eagerly await to come into season, and you’ll see how it can grow on you, especially when made with sweet squash or flavorful pumpkins. It is after all–aside from comforting and delicious–also a healthy, easy and very quickly prepared dish. This is the kind of pumkin found around here, but pie pumpkin works just as well.



Ingredients for 4
500 gr (1.1 lb) spaghetti, broken into 2-inch bits*
4 kg (4.4 lbs) acorn squash, butternut or pumpkin
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, smashed
Pinch of rosemary needles
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Parmigiano, grated
Salt
Stand-by boiling hot water

*other soup pastas work well for this dish, 
like for example pasta mista, tubetti, ditali, 
ditalini, farfalline etc.
 



The easiest way to peel and dice the squash, is to cut it crosswise into 3/4” slices. Peel the slices and discard the seeds and fibrous interior. Now cut into 3/4-inch cubes. If using pumpkin, cut it into wedges, discard the seeds, then peel the wedges and cube the pulp.

In a heavy bottomed 3-quart saucepan, sauté the garlic and red pepper in olive oil until cloves are soft and barely coloring on both sides. Use a wooden spoon to press them into the oil a few times to release their flavor. Discard the garlic, its chore is done.

Add the cubed squash or pumpkin and sprinkle with a little salt and the rosemary needles. Raise the heat to medium-high and sauté until squash is fork soft, about 15 minutes. If using pumpkin, it will take about 25 minutes.

Add 5-6 cups of hot water and adjust seasoning. Cover the pot, and bring to a rolling boil.

Stir in the broken pasta, re-cover the pot and when it returns to a boil, uncover and cook the pasta in the soup until al dente. While the pasta cooks, stir frequently and mash some of the pumpkin cubes with the back of a wooden spoon to thicken the dish.

Taste for salt and correct if necessary. Tweak the consistency, if desired, by adding more water. It can be soupy, thick or almost dry, depending on your taste.

Stir in more pepper flakes if necessary, and serve hot. Pass the Parmigiano and watch the smiles surface.

the finished dish

fun serving solution

Jan 17, 2011

Local Rome Markets


Neighborhood produce markets and farmers’ markets are all over town. Rome is a big city, and the number of markets is staggering. That’s just how lucky we are here. Every day, smallholders and sellers provide seasonal and quality fresh fruit and vegetables–in some cases from their own nearby territories–directly to consumers. No middle men. Prices may be a little higher than those of big retail chains that capitalize on mass-distribution, but quality and freshness are indisputably superior.


But mercati rionali are also the modern day agoràs where residents socialize, and browse other stalls beyond produce: charcuteries, butchers for all tastes and religions, fishmongers, florists, honey beekeepers, olive oil farmers, bread bakers, vintners, clothing vendors, haberdashers and housewares sellers.

Mornings at the market begin with purveyors' familiar faces, customers engaging in friendly conversation, warm greetings and small talk over crates of fresh salad greens, vine-riped tomatoes, carrot bunches, soiled potatoes, onions, pumpkins, brown eggs, pared artichokes, chopped mixed vegetables for minestrone, catalogna for puntarelle soaking in tubs of fountain water.

Through this relationship based on everyday contact, Italians are raised trusting their suppliers. Thanks to this interaction, we learn about local foods, their origin and farming methods. Giuliana, the signora that sells me mesculun salad grown in her country orto, personally guarantees safety from pesticides and unethical farming (many producers adhere to a natural approach for their agriculture, and gain prestigious certification for it), and contextually allows me to benefit from transparent traceability, decrease the number of food miles and enjoy amazing quality meals.


Here is a randomly ordered list of FARMERS' MARKETS in Rome, where producers and consumers come face to face, drastically cutting the agricultural food chain:
  • Roma Farmer's Market - Città dell’Altra Economia Via D. Frisullo (ex-abattoir in Testaccio) Tel. +39 3471217942  Ex-Mattatoio abattoir Largo Giovanni Battista Marzi entrance, near Ponte Testaccio – Stall 9C – Sat. 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. ~ Sun. 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Mercato Campagna Amica del Circo Massimo Via San Teodoro, 74 – Weekends
  • Mercato Contadino Tiburtino Via Tiburtina 695 - Tel. +39 347 538 1452
  • Mercato Campagna Amica Monteverde L.go Alessandrina Ravizza
  • Centro Sportivo Val Melania Via di Val Melania, 81 – Monthly
  • Audirorium di Roma Parco della Musica Via P. de Coubertin, 30 – Occasionally
  • Mercato Campagna Amica San Luca Evangelista Via R. Malatesta – 2nd Sunday of the month
  • Mercato Campagna Amica San Clemente Papa Via Val Padana – Monthly
  • Mercato Campagna Amica Nuovo Salario P.zza A. Fradeletto – Occasionally, on Sundays
  • Mercato Campagna Amica Prati Fiscali Via dei Prati Fiscali – Occasionally, on Sundays
  • Parco Almagià Via Zenodossio (Torpignattara) 
  • San Saba P.zza G.L. Bernini
  • Piazza Bologna P.zza Bologna
  • Pio XI P.zza Pio XI (Aurelio)
  • Il Parco di Sabato S. Igino Papa park (Aurelio Primavalle) Tel. +39 06 5237 9595 – 4th Saturday of the month
  • L'Altra Domenica & Biomercato - Città dell’Altra Economia Via D. Frisullo (ex-abattoir in Testaccio) Tel. +39 347 121 7942 – 3rd Sunday of the month
  • Mercato della Terra di Slow Food - ASL Via M. Calò (Ciampino) – 3rd Sunday of the month
  • Mercatino Agricolo di Stagione in Stagione - La Casa Internazionale delle Donne Via della Lungara, 19 Tel. +39 06 6840 1720 – 2nd Saturday of the month
  • Mercato Agricolo Biologico - Casale Podere Rosa Via Diego Fabbri/Via A. De Stefani (Nomentano) – 1st Saturday of the month
  • Mercato Contadino e Biologico Terra/Terra (4 rotating locations) - Centro Sociale Occupato Autogestito La Torre Via C. G. Bertero, 13 (Pietralata) – 1st Sunday of the month ~ Città dell’Utopia Via Valeriano, 3/F (Ostiense) – 3rd Saturday of the month ~ C.S.O.A. Forte Prenestino Via F. Delpino (Centocelle) – 3rd Sunday of the month ~ Piazza Santa Maria Consolatrice (Casalbertone) – 4th Sunday of the month
  • Mercato Bio di Aguzzano - Il Centro di Cultura Ecologica Via Schopenhauer, corner of Via Locke (Rebibbia)


~~


Here is a list of Rome NEIGHBORHOOD MARKETS divided by Municipi, the city’s 19 municipalities:

MUNICIPIO I
Monti – Trevi – Colonna – Campo Marzio – Ponte – Parione – Regola – S.Eustachio – Pigna – Campitelli – S.Angelo – Ripa – Trastevere – Esquilino – Ludovisi – Sallustiano – Castro Pretorio – Celio – Testaccio – San Saba
Bocca di Leone Via Bocca di Leone · Open air
Campo Marzio 1 P.zza Monte D’Oro · Covered
Campo Marzio 2 Piazza delle Coppelle · Open air
Castro Pretorio Via Milazzo · Open air
Celio Via SS. Quattro · Open air
Nuovo Esquilino Via Turati · Covered
Macao Via Montebello · Open air
Monti Via Baccina · Covered
Regola 1 Piazza Campo de’ Fiori · Open air
Regola 2 Via della Pace · Open air
San Saba P.zza G.L. Bernini · Open air
Santa Lucia Vicolo della Moretta · Open air
Sommelier Via G. Sommelier · Open air
Testaccio Piazza Testaccio · Covered
Trastevere/San Cosimato P.zza San Cosimato · Open air
Trevi Via del Lavatore · Open air
Viminale Via Cesare Balbo · Open air

MUNICIPIO II
Flaminio – Parioli – Pinciano – Salario – Trieste
Crati P.zza Crati · Open air
Flaminio 1 Via Flaminia · Covered
Flaminio 2 Via Guido Reni · Covered
Nomentano P.zza Alessandria · Covered
Parioli V.le Parioli · Open air
Pinciano Via Antonelli · Covered
Salario Via Metauro · Open air
Savoia P.zza Gimma · Covered
Trieste Via Chiana · Covered
Vescovio Via Fara Sabina · Open air
Viale della Moschea (Fridays only) · Open air
Via della XVII Olimpiade (Fridays only) · Open air

MUNICIPIO III
Nomentano – Tiburtino
Italia Via Catania · Covered
Portonaccio 1 Via Vespri Siciliani · Open air
Stevenson Via V.E. Stevenson ·  Open air
Tiburtino 1 Largo degli Osci (S. Lorenzo) · Open air

MUNICIPIO IV
Monte Sacro – Monte Sacro Alto – Val Melaina – Castel Giubileo – Marcigliana – Casal Boccone – Tor S. Giovanni
Fidene L.go S. Felicita · Open air
Talenti Via G. Deledda/Via V. Gambara · Open air
Monte Sacro 1 P.le Adriatico · Covered
Monte Sacro 2 P.zza Menenio Agrippa · Open air
Sacchetti Via F. Sacchetti · Open air
Serpentara Via V. Talli · Open air
Tufello P.zza degli Euganei · Covered
Val Melaina Via G. Conti · Open air
Valdinievole Via Val d’Ossola · Open air

MUNICIPIO V
Tiburtino – Pietralata – Collatino – Ponte Mammolo – San Basilio – Settecamini – Tor Cervara – Tor Sapienza – Acqua Vergine
Casal de' Pazzi Via Kant/Via Locke · Open air
Casal Bertone Via C. Ricotti · Open air
Ina Casa Via dei Crispolti · Open air
Meda Via F. Meda · Open air
Ponte Mammolo Via Rivisondoli · Covered
Portonaccio 2 Via San Romano · Covered
Rebibbia Via G.B. Scanaroli · Open air
San Basilio Via Recanati · Covered
Tiburtino 2 V.le G. Stefanini · Open air
Tiburtino Sud Via Sacco e Vanzetti · Open air
Artigianmercato Via Mozart · Covered

MUNICIPIO VI
Tiburtino – Prenestino Labicano – Tuscolano – Collatino
Casilino Via del Pigneto · Open air
Casilino 23 Via Ferraironi · Open air
Labicano/Condottieri Via A. da Giussano · Open air
Gordiani V.le Ronchi · Open air
Olevano Romano Via Olevano Romano · Open air
Perestrello L.go Perestrello · Open air
Tor Pignattara Via Ciro d’Urbino · Covered
Villa Gordiani Via Rovigo d’Istria · Open air

MUNICIPIO VII
Tuscolano – Prenestino Centocelle – Alessandrino – Don Bosco – Tor Sapienza – Torre Spaccata – La Rustica
Centocelle Via degli Olivi · Covered
Grano Via del Grano · Open air
Meli Via dei Meli · Open air
Platani Via dei Platani · Open air
Quarticciolo Via Ostuni · Covered
Tor Sapienza Via De Pisis · Open air
La Rustica Via Dameta · Open air

MUNICIPIO VIII
Don Bosco – Lunghezza – S. Vittorino – Torre Angela – Borghesiana – Torrenova – Torre Maura – Torre Gaia – Torre Spaccata
Tor Bella Monaca Via dell’Archeologia · Open air
Torre Maura P.zza degli Alcioni · Open air
Torre Spaccata 1 V.le dei Romanisti · Covered
Torre Spaccata 2 Via Sisenna · Open air

MUNICIPIO IX
Prenestino Labicano – Tuscolano – Appio Latino
Appio Via F. Valesio · Open air
Colli Albani Via Castelgandolfo · Open air
Latino P.zza Epiro · Partly covered
Latino Nuovo Via Gregorovius · Open air
Metronio Via Magna Grecia · Covered
Ragusa Via Verbania · Open air
Tuscolano 1 Via Orvieto · Open air

MUNICIPIO X
Tuscolano – Don Bosco – Collatino – Appio Pignatelli – Capannelle
Calisse/Bonfante V.le M.F. Nobiliore · Open air
Nuovo Cinecittà Largo Appio Claudio · Open air
Cinecittà Est Via S. Oberto · Open air
Piscine di Torre Spaccata Via R. Vignali · Open air
Quadraro P.zza dei Tribuni · Open air
Quarto Miglio Via Menofilo · Open air
Statuario Via Polia · Open air
Tuscolano 3 Via del Quadraro · Covered

MUNICIPIO XI
Appio Latino – Ostiense – Ardeatino – Appio Pignatelli – Aeroporto Ciampino – Torricola – Cecchignola
Commercio Via del Commercio · Open air
Garbatella Via Passino · Covered
Grotta Perfetta Via Granai di Nerva · Open air
La Montagnola Via Pico della Mirandola · Open air
Navigatori P.zza dei Navigatori · Open air
Ostiense Via Corinto · Covered
Tor Marancio Via R.R. Garibaldi · Open air

MUNICIPIO XII
Ostiense – Giuliano Dalmata – Europa – Castel di Leva – Vallerano – Castel di Decima – Torrino – Vitinia
Decima Incis Via Sansotta · Open air
Laurentino 38 Via F. Sapori · Open air
Spinaceto Via Caduti per la Resistenza · Open air
Tor de' Cenci Via R. Bertani · Open air
Vigna Murata Via Meldola · Open air

MUNICIPIO XIII
Lido di Ostia Ponente – Lido di Ostia Levante – Acilia – Lido di Castel Fusano – Castel Porziano – Mezzocammino
Stella Polare Via Capo Passero · Open air
Ostia Lido Nord Via dell’Appagliatore · Open air
Ostia Centro Via Orazio dello Sbirro · Covered
Casal Bernocchi Via G. Biagi · Covered
Casal Palocco Via A. Galli · Covered

MUNICIPIO XV (there is no 14)
Portuense – Gianicolense – Magliana Vecchia – La Pisana – Ponte Galeria
Casetta Mattei Via La Contea · Open air
Enrico Fermi Via D. Macaluso · Open air
Magliana Viale Pescaglia · Open air
Monte Cucco Via G. Porzio · Open air
Portuense 2 Via Portuense · Open air
Portuense 3 L.go S. Silvia · Open air
Trullo Via Campagnano · Covered

MUNICIPIO XVI
Portuense – Gianicolense – Maccarese – La Pisana Nord – Castel di Guido
Bravetta P.zza Visconti · Open air
Donna Olimpia Via Donna Olimpia · Open air
Gianicolense P.zza S. Giovanni di Dio · Open air
Monreale L.go Monreale · Open air
Monteverde Nuovo Via G. de Calvi · Open air
Monteverde Vecchio Via G.B. Niccolini · Open air
Portuense 1 Via E. Rolli · Open air
Vascello Via del Vascello · Open air

MUNICIPIO XVII
Borgo – Trionfale – Prati – Della Vittoria
Prati P.zza dell’Unità · Covered
Tito Speri Via Tito Speri · Open air
Trionfale Via Andrea Doria · Covered
Vittoria Via Monte Santo · Covered

MUNICIPIO XVIII
Aurelio – Trionfale – Primavalle – Casalotti
Aurelio Via San Silverio · Open air
Casalotti Via Ovada · Open air
Irnerio Via Aurelia · Open air
Pineta Sacchetti Via Urbano II · Open air
Sisto IV Via Sisto IV · Open air

MUNICIPIO XIX
Aurelio – Trionfale – Primavalle
Belsito P.zza C. Mazzaresi · Covered
Monte Mario P.zza P. Thouar · Partly covered
Primavalle 1 Via Igino Papa · Covered
Primavalle 2 Via Pasquale II · Open air
Torrevecchia Via Sciamanna · Open air
Vegezio Via Vegezio · Open air

MUNICIPIO XX
Della Vittoria – Tor di Quinto – La Storta – Cesano – Tomba di Nerone – La Giustiniana
Flaminio Nuovo Via Tuscia · Open air
Ponte Milvio Via Riano · Covered
Saxa Rubra P.zza Saxa Rubra · Open air
Tor di Quinto Via Monteleone da Spoleto · Open air


Source: Italian Chamber of Commerce
Comprehensive and updated ROME MARKET news can be found (in Italian) at 06blog.it , MondoBio and La Foglia

Jan 13, 2011

Got (raw) milk?

The slogan reads something like, "Between the cow and you, stands only a bottle." Before Louis Pasteur brought us one of the 20th century’s biggest breakthroughs, raw milk is all we had. Protein, enzyme and fat-rich milk from cows has been a staple for many pastoral cultures.

A growing number of pediatricians, nutritionists and eco-minded dairy lovers are embracing that ancient, frugal pioneer stand by turning to raw milk on tap.

Advocates rely on the untouched dairy’s nutrititive properties. Milk that has been pasteurized is subjected to a short burst of heat followed by rapid cooling; raw freshly-drawn milk is not treated with heat, thus causing vitamins, Calcium, proteins and creamy flavor to remain intact. Raw milk is also said to retain precious beneficial bacteria, proteins and enzymes that aid in digestion, which are otherwise lost in pasteurization.
In addition, the raw milk alimentary trend provides adequate remuneration to breeders and convenient prices for consumers (the current price for a liter, approximately 1 quart of raw milk, is 1.20 €Euro as opposed to supermarket sold industrial milk, which costs €1,50 to €2,00). The environment benefits from this operation too: fewer food miles between cow and breakfast table, and uses the clients’ own refillable glass bottles, which greatly reduce waste.

Despite the controversy surrounding raw milk, and the claims of correlated pathogens, like E Coli, listeria and salmonella, the demand is expanding among health-conscious city and suburban dwellers for milk consumed straight from the udder.

Here is a list of Rome suppliers:

· Fiumicino-based 3rd generation cow breeder Giuseppe Brandizzi’s Biolà cooperative has an automated dispenser in his Testa di Lepre farm – SS Aurelia Km. 22 – Tel. +39 06 668 9067. All you need are a clean glass bottle, a cooler for transportation and a few coins.

· For us Roman cityfolk, there’s also a Biolà refrigerated van with automatic dispensers that distributes organic filtered raw milk (and yogurt, cheese, ricotta, honey and meat) to subscribed clients around town; in rotating neighborhood markets, and at local CSA pick-up spots.
A voicemail service provides a daily recorded list of updated drop-off points. Tel. +39 06 667 4653


Out of town:
· Albano Laziale, on Via delle Mole
· Anzio, on Via Piccola Cannuccia
· Bracciano, on Via Paolo Borsellino
· Ciampino, Via Mario Calò
· Frascati, on Via Enrico Fermi
· Guidonia, on Via Baracca / Via Maremmana / Viadei Girasoli
· Ladispoli, on Via Glasgow
· Le Vittorie – Via Palombarese, off Via Nomentana in Poggio Fiorito (on the way to the golf course)
· Monterotondo, on Via della Libertà /Via Berlinguer
· Palestrina, on Via Madonna Aquila
· Pomezia, on Via Procula
· Rignano Flaminio, at Mangiar Sano shop on Via San Rocco 23


Check out MilkMaps for details on raw milk distribution for the Rome province

Jan 10, 2011

Insalata di Carciofi ~ Zesty Artichoke Salad

It's been a while since I last wrote about artichokes. I have a long-lasting love affair with thistle-like flowerheads that borders illicit.
I like to eat them in every fashion, be they steamed with just a dribble of melted butter, tossed in "vignarola" (sautéed peas, lettuce, fava beans and bacon), thinly sliced and then deep fried in batter, in pasta dressing, mixed in with braised sweetbreads, alla Romana. When I'm lazy, I pluck the raw inner leaves, and dip them in seasoned olive oil. There are so many ways of enjoying carciofi!


One of my favorite winter artichoke recipes, is the delightful and citrusy Insalata di Carciofi, a perky raw artichoke salad. Perfect for Sunday lunch, this makes for a great sidekick to rack of lamb with rosemary and roasted potatoes.

It's easy to make, and you can put it together quickly. It however benefits from marinading before serving. Here's what you need to serve 4 artichoke lovers:


6 small winter artichokes
A large chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Juice of 2 lemons
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Soak the artichokes in plenty cold water and baking soda to remove any traces of pesticides or field dirt, rinse several times and pat dry. Cut away outer leaves, inner fuzz and the outside skin from the stems. You can follow my step-by-step artichoke trimming tutorial if need be; or take advantage of the signora at your farmer's market who pares them for her aficionado clients.

Cut the trimmed chokes in quarters and slice them finely, directly into the salad bowl. Drizzle with the lemon juice. This will prevent them from darkening, and will provide the acidic base for the dressing.

Season with very little salt, plenty freshly ground black pepper and olive oil. Toss and let the salad marinate for at least an hour before serving.

When ready to bring at the table, use a mandoline to slice thin wafers of Parmigiano over the seasoned artichokes, I personally abound.


You could, of course, pour a red wine to accompany this dish, but we don’t want to go there. This salad prays for an open bottle of white chilling in a bucket on the table, within easy reach. The southern Italian treat, Fiano di Avellino, for instance.

Buon appetito.

Image © porzionicremona.it

Jan 7, 2011

Crema Fritta ~ Fried Pastry Custard

I thought Rome held the record of most varied deep-fried foods. Then I learned about American state fairs.

I found out that in Indiana they like to fry Twinkies, cookie dough, brownies and butter. That in Texas, besides deep frying Coca Cola, it's common to slather fried bacon with chocolate, and eat it on a stick. But the worst was discovering about the Luther Burger: an artery-clogging horror which features a fried black Angus all-beef patty, melted cheese, and two strips of fried bacon, all tucked inside a sliced glazed doughnut. To enhance the sweet-and-savory effect, in some states, the sandwich is served with a side of honey sauce.


For my liver's honor, I felt compelled to retaliate with something more elegant, and still typical of Italy's deep-fry culture.


Fried pastry custard is a Veneto specialty, and standard Carnevale street food. But many other Italian regions fry custard and serve the quirky non-sweet pastry as dessert, or not. Folks in Bologna in fact include it alongside deep fried artichokes, breaded potato croquettes, diced mozzarella, battered cauliflower, julienned zucchini, onion and apple rings, tiny lamb chops, Mortadella cubes, sweetbreads, chicken croquettes, and other selected fried foods in their Fritto Misto (savory mega-variety fried platter particular to many Italian regions).


Here is the recipe for Crema Fritta, the way they make it in Verona:

200 gr (1 cup) sugar
1 liter (1 quart) whole milk
8 egg yolks
200 gr (1 cup) flour, sifted
50 gr (1/4 cup) cornflour
Zest from 1 organic lemon
1 packet vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
Vegetable oil for frying

For dredging:
4 egg whites
150 gr (3/4 cup) breadcrumbs


Put the milk, lemon zest and vanilla in a heavy bottomed pot, and bring to a boil.

In a bowl, whisk together 5 egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornflour. Stir in the seasoned milk in one constant thin stream, stirring with a wire whisk. Move the cream back to the stove and add a pinch of salt; keep the mixture simmering as you gently stir, until it thickens.

Pour the custard in an oven pan lined with plastic wrap, and let it cool completely; during this time it will solidify.
Cut the now rubbery custard in 1-inch diamonds; dip them in the egg whites and dredge with breadcrumbs.

Fry the custard rhombi in piping hot oil a few at a time, turning them , until evenly golden and crispy on both sides. Blot briefly on absorbant paper and serve warm.


Crunch.

Jan 2, 2011

Agnolotti

Agnolotti are a type of square ravioli typical of the Piedmont region, made with thinly flattened pasta dough, folded over and stuffed with a ground meat and vegetable filling. Typically, agnolotti are made with leftover cooked meat. This is another example of how the ages-old habit of recycling food in Italy commonly results in an elegant and very tasty dish.


My mother and I made a batch for Sunday lunch today. Here is the step by step recipe, which yielded 70 agnolotti pockets. We cooked half and froze the rest in sealed freezer bags.



For the Pasta Dough
500 gr (2 1/2 cups) flour, possibly "00" + more for dusting
6 eggs
3 yolks
A pinch of salt

◊ ◊ ◊

For the Filling
400 gr (2 cups) beef pot roast leftovers
150 gr (3/4 cup) roast turkey, chicken or other cooked white meat dish
50 gr (1/4 cup) mortadella, roasted sausage or any other pork cold cut (not prosciutto)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
A bunch of spinach (you can use other greens if necessary)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano
3 whole eggs
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Salt & pepper



Make the dough from the flour and the eggs (see instructions if need be), put it in a bowl, cover it with a moist kitchen towel, and let it sit.

Blanch the greens for 3 minutes, drain, squeezing well to extract moisture, and mince them finely. Then sauté in the butter until done and set aside.

Remove bones, sausage casings and any sinewy parts, and grind the meats quite finely (you can blend them, but be careful not to make a paste!).
Combine ground meats, sautéed greens and all other ingredients for the filling in a bowl, and mix thoroughly with your hands to obtain a homogeneous mixture, seasoning to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Take the pasta dough and roll it out dime-thin. I use an Imperia pasta machine, which gives me the necessary long and paper-thin sheets ready to be stuffed and cut into perfect agnolotti. But you're free to roll out the dough by hand, obviously!

Cut the rolled dough into long strips, about 20-inch long and 3 inches high, and cover to keep moist.



On your dusted work surface, dot a sheet with blebs of filling about the size of a small walnut, putting the dots in a row, about an inch apart. Make sure the row is in the bottom half of the pasta sheet.




Fold over the top part of the sheet, and lay it over the filling. Crimp the sheet down well around the filling to make it stick, and cut the agnolotti free with a serrated pastry wheel.




Boil the agnolotti in broth or salted water, fishing them out with a skimmer into a serving bowl, as soon as they rise to the bubbling surface.

Typically, Piedmontese agnolotti are dressed in beef broth with a little melted butter, or in a fresh sage and browned butter sauce. A complex condiment would play down the flavors contained in the agnolotti pockets.
I usually season mine with a simple tomato sauce, and dust with lots of freshly grated Parmigiano. As an alternative, you can dress your agnolotti with drippings from Braciole or Involtini.



Wine? This plate begs for a full-bodied, unoaked Piedmontese Barbera d'Asti!
Buon appetito.

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