Mar 20, 2012

Culurgiones recipe

Welcome back to Be my guest our series of guest recipes from around the world.
Today we meet Luke from Britain, who has a special bond with the emerald isle of Sardegna, and its glorious food.

Everyone loves eating Italian, but often food from Sardinia gets overlooked. Dishes vary from place to place on the island, as every village has their own special finishing touches and secret ingredients handed down from family and tradition.

Sardinian cuisine is heavily influenced by Italian continental cuisine with notable amounts of pasta, gnocchi, pizza oven baked bread, but shines in its own roasted meats, freshly caught fish, seafood concoctions and a wide variety of tasty Pecorino cheeses, often paired with locally farmed Sardinian honey.

Sardinian specialities include porceddu which is a spit-roasted suckling pig, baked slowly over hot coals for about 3 hours. There are also all sots of different types of home-made pasta dishes, often served with ricotta, or hundreds of varieties of local Pecorino cheese.

Culurgiones stuffed pasta from Sardinia

Culurgiones are famous traditional Sardinian stuffed dough pockets, whose name means, 'little bundles' which accurately describes these parcels of joy. Although a little tricky to make as the stitching process requires a little practice, the actual pasta base is easy enough to make and the cooking is minimal.

As with making any pasta from scratch, the key is patience, so it's best to set aside some time and enjoy the whole cooking process without worrying about the clock.

It is paramount to use the best ingredients for this dish in order to allow the simple flavours to shine.

You'll need the following ingredients to make the pasta base:
250 grams semolina
250 grams all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
100 grams warm water, more or less

Culurgiones stuffed pasta from Sardinia

Mix together the semolina, flour, olive oil and salt. Then slowly add the warm water a little at a time while kneading, until you obtain an elastic dough, which is manageable and supple. Form a ball, place in a bowl and keep covered for half an hour.

Next up you will need to make the filling for the Culurgiones, for which you will need the following ingredients:
4 medium sized potatoes
50 grams sheep's milk ricotta
50 grams Sardinian pecorino cheese, grated
Some fresh mint leaves, chopped
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced

Boil the peeled potatoes in salted water until soft and fluffy. Once ready, rice the potatoes and stir in the cheeses, fresh mint and olive oil. Leave the filling to cool for an hour. If you are in a rush it's best to transfer the mashed potato mix from the pan to a mixing bowl, as this will speed up the cooling process.

Now that you have your pasta and filling for the Culurgiones, the next step is to prepare your dough and set up a production line for making them.

Roll out the pasta dough until quite thin and cut out 8-cm diameter circles, I often find a mug or cup is exactly the right size, and if you push the mug down into the pasta firmly, you won't need to cut around the mug, which can get a little tricky.

Once you have your circles of pasta, take a teaspoon and drop a small amount of filling on each disc. The next step is a little tricky and requires some practice.

Hold the disk in your hand and fold one side over the potato filling then pinch the middle of the fold with your finger and plait the two sides together. The pasta should be like braiding where one side rests on top of the other.

When you reach the top, pinch the final piece to ensure that no filling escapes. As you make more Culurgiones you will find the process a lot easier and hopefully they will look more and more like the genuine article. If you have made more Culurgiones than possible to eat in one go, they can be frozen and saved for later. When ready to cook, there will be no need to defrost first. This makes them ideal for a quick meal when you are pushed for time.

Boil the Culurgiones parcels in salted water for around five minutes until tender.

Traditionally the dish is accompanied with a simple tomato sauce, a sprinkling of pecorino cheese, some fresh mint, and a good bottle of local wine. Common recipe variations include the addition of onion in the filling, or seasonings like nutmeg or saffron.

Good luck and enjoy!

Luke is passionate about traveling and cooking, and works with Charming Sardinia a travel company that offers tailor made luxury holidays to Sardinia. He is crazy about food and spends most of his time sourcing quality ingredients and finding recipes to try out on friends.

Love the foods and traditions of Sardinia? Interested in reading more about it? Check out my articles (with recipes) on Pane Carasau, Malloreddus, Seadas typical dishes of Sardegna.

Mar 15, 2012

Intercontinental air travel with kids

intercontinental air travel with kids

"Single mothers or those traveling alone with small children: please come to the front of the line for immediate boarding."

What was that? Did the voice coming through the speakers just say 'single mothers?' The two of us, toddler and I hobble along, boarding passes clenched between teeth and stuffed, life-size Labrador Retriever tucked underarm. The laptop in my backpack weighs like bricks, the handbag strap either burrows a gash or relentlessly slides off my shoulder as I walk doubled up, rolling along my son's Spiderman trolley...

Continue Reading ➔ Complete Guide to Flying with Children

Mar 1, 2012

Cook pasta a dente!

In Italy, overcooking pasta is a sin, period. Al dente, which literally means "to the tooth," as in, "how does it feel to the tooth," stands for the correct point of cooking hardness. The opposite of al dente isn't some version of normal; it's soft or overdone.

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