Archive | December, 2013

Cotechino in Crosta con Lenticchie (Cotechino in Puff Pastry with Lentils)

31 Dec

Happy New Year all my beloved readers. Buon Anno! Tonight I am going to serve cotechino in crostra with lenticchie. Cotechino (the Italian fresh pork sausage) in puff pastry is a tasty and appetizing idea to enjoy the traditional cotechino and lentils during the Christmas holidays, and particularly at New Year’s Eve. According to the tradition, it seems that this dish is a good omen for the new year, lentils are, in fact, symbol of abundance and fortune.

The preparation is simple, but requires a little patience. First cotechino is cooked in water, then covered with a delicious lentil puree, wrapped in a sheet of puff pastry and baked in the oven. The result is a crunchy topping with a tasty filling, full of flavor. The pork sausage with lentils is a simple dish that dates back to the farmers’ tradition. Cotechino owes its name to the pork rind and is prepared by filling the gut with pork rind, meat, fat, all flavored with salt and spices. It is a type of sausage that is eaten cooked. It originated from Modena, but nowadays it is spread all over the country with some variations in spices. It is commonly sliced thick and laid on a bed of lentils.  You can also enjoy it with mushed potatoes,  sautéed spinach or polenta.

COTECHINO IN CROSTA CON LENTICCHIE (COTECHINO IN PUFF PASTRY AND LENTILS)
Preparation time: 60 min . Cooking time: 45 min. Servings: 4

Cotechino fetta
INGREDIENTS
500 g  (about 1 pound) fresh or pre-cooked cotechino
Aluminum foil
1 roll puff pastry (240 g, about 8 oz)Cooked lentils (see Lentil Stew)

DIECTIONS
1 . The cooking time of fresh cotechino is longer than pre-cooked.For fresh cotechino. Pierce the sausage skin with a toothpick in a few places, wrap with aluminum foil making sure it is well sealed. Place in a large pot, cover with cold water. Bring to boil over medium heat, reduce to medium-low, cover and simmer for about an hour. After this time, change the water  completely (replacing it with hot water so the sausage will be less salty) and continue cooking for about an hour and half. Remove from water and aluminum foil. Allow to cool
For pre-cooked cotechino, dip the foil package in plenty of cold water and cook according to the cooking time, usually 20-25 minutes
2 . For lentils see post Lentil Stew
3 . Preheat oven to 180 ° C
4 . Take 2 tablespoons of lentils and reduce in puree by blending in a mixer. Cover the sausage with lentil puree all around (top layer about 7-8 mm). Transfer the sausage on the puff pastry, cut in the shape of a rectangle. Close cropping the edges of excess dough. It is important to seal well. Bake on a baking sheet covered with some baking paper for about 20-25 minutes until pastry is golden brown. Wait 5 minutes, cut into thick slices and serve with the lentils. -Paola

Lenticchie in Umido (Lentil Stew)

30 Dec

This lentil stew is a tasty and comforting recipe that was always present on our dinner table on New Year’s Eve. Lentils are usually served on New Year’s Eve as they are thought to bring good luck and money, regardless if they do, they are delicious. Traditionally my mom made this recipe with bacon. Instead, I omit bacon, therefore it is a perfect vegetarian dish. Nutty and earthy flavor, lentils have nutritional value (see Insalata di Lenticchie). You can serve this dish with cotechino, the Italian sausage, that is traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve too.

LENTICCHIE IN UMIDO (LENTIL STEW)
Preparation time: 30 min. Cooking time: 20 min.  Servings: 4

Lenticchie in umido

INGREDIENTS
310 g (11 oz) lentils
1 onion, finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1 celery stem, finely sliced
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil (Extra Virgin)
120 ml (1/2 cup) white wine
1 tablespoon tomato sauce
Vegetable broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Make “soffritto”. In a saucepan on medium-low heat sautee onion, garlic, carrot and celery in olive oil for a few minutes. Rinse lentils under running water. Add lentils to the “soffritto” and cook on high heat for a few minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add wine and let it evaporate. Add tomato sauce, bay leaves and cover with plenty of broth
2. Cover with a lid and cook for about 18-20 minutes until lentils are tender  (the exact cooking time will be indicated on the package ). Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. -Paola

Pandoro con Crema di Limoncello (Pandoro with Limoncello Cream)

22 Dec

This year Passion and Cooking will celebrate Christmas with Pandoro, the “golden cake”! Pandoro and panettone are the most popular sweets during the winter holidays. While panettone is a native of Milan, pandoro is from Verona. It is traditionally shaped like a frustum with an 8 pointed-star section and is served dusted with powdered sugar (my kids like to be the ones to put on the sugar). The dough is very soft and the taste is delicate and refined. Pandoro can be traced back to the 18th century to the rich Venetian aristocracy. Although some people recognize the similarity with the French brioche or with the ” Pan di Vienna”, pandoro seems to have been first produced on October 14, 1894, when Mr. Melegatti obtained the patent for a procedure to be applied in producing pandoro industrially. From this moment on, and considering the similarity with the Nadalin (a typical sweet from Verona), Verona is now universally recognized as the home of the original pandoro.The preparation technique is quite complex, so I suggest buying a good pandoro and enjoying it with a delicious homemade cream. I love the combination of citrus and soft sweets such as panettone and pandoro, so I propose this fresh and aromatic Limoncello cream, made with the legendary Limoncello of Sorrento, milk, cream, sugar and mascarpone cheese, the king of cream cheese!  In a few minutes you will have a delicious and rich cream to garnish your slice of pandoro. A helpful tip is to gently heat the cake for about 15-20 min. (for example on a steam radiator) and to sprinkle with powdered sugar to get the snow effect before serving. Wishing you all a delicious Christmas!

PANDORO WITH CREAM LIMONCELLO
Preparation time: 10 minutes            Servings:  10

Pandoro con crema

INGREDIENTS
500 g  (about 1 pound) fresh mascarpone
80 ml (1/3 cup) Limoncello liquor
40 ml  (1/8 cup + 2 tsp) milk
40 ml fresh  (1/8 cup + 2 tsp) cream
50 g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

DIRECTIONS
1. In a medium saucepan heat milk, cream and sugar for 1-2 minutes until sugar dissolves. Cool completely, add Limocello and lemon zest. Set aside the Limoncello cream .

2. In a medium bowl with an electric mixer whip the mascarpone, incorporate approximately 100-120 ml of Limoncello cream, adding one spoon at the times. Whisk for a few seconds until the mixture is creamy. -Paola

Besciamella Light (Light Bechamel Sauce)

16 Dec

Bechamel sauce, the queen of white sauces, is typical of the Italian and French cuisine. It was, in fact, the French Marquis Louis de Bechamel who began to use it in his recipes in the seventeenth century. According to other sources the sauce was created in Tuscany and was later introduced by Catherine de Medici in France. Whatever its origin, it is one of the most versatile and tasty sauces of our cuisine. It is used for the preparation of lasagne, cannelloni, crepes, pies and baked vegetables. The traditional recipe calls for the preparation of the known white roux with butter and flour, to which milk will be added  and then cooked to the desired consistency. My recipe uses small amounts of butter, thus making the sauce lighter and easier on the stomach. The flour is added directly to the milk with a whisk, and at the end of cooking the butter has melted into the mixture. This procedure allows the preparation of a delicate bechamel and reduces the formation of lumps which instead, with the traditional method is easier to obtain.

BESCIAMELLA LIGHT (LIGHT BECHAMEL SAUCE)
Preparation time: 15 minutes                                  Servings: 4
Besciamella

INGREDIENTS
1 l milk (approx. 4 cups)
100 g (⅔ cup) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon of salt
30 g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
Freshly ground pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. In a medium saucepan mix the milk and the flour well with a whisk until smooth. This will prevent any lumps from forming. Add the salt
2. Cook 3-4 minutes (medium-high heat) stirring constantly
3. Lower the heat as soon as the mixture reaches a slow boil and then continue to cook for about 10-12 minutes, stirring constantly to the right thickness (smooth and creamy). Stir constantly to ensure that it doesn’t stick or burn
4. Add butter and stir until melted. Let it cool and then you for your favorite recipe. -Paola

Fettuccine al Pesto “Ricco”(Fettuccine with “Rich” Pesto)

8 Dec

Fettuccine with “rich” pesto (also called ” avvantaggiato”, or advantaged) is the ancient version of pasta with pesto that is commonly enjoyed in Liguria today. This recipe is made ​​with potatoes, green beans and pesto. The addition of potatoes and green beans makes this dish truly appetizing, a real delight for those who love vegetarian dishes, including myself! The trick lies in the choice of fresh vegetables and homemade pesto (see lasagne al pesto); this naturally enhances the flavor and aroma of this meal. The pasta that I usually use is artisanal pasta, made ​​with organic flour. I bought the one I used for this recipe in Tuscany during my summer vacation. The color and the taste is a little bit different (more rustic) from mass-produced pasta. The preparation of this recipe is simple, but requires some skill to cook the vegetables. The original recipe for rich pesto calls for cooking the vegetables with the pasta, but the cooking times are different, and therefore to facilitate the preparation, I recommend cooking them separately. You can cut the green beans into larger or smaller pieces, depending on your taste. Fettucine can be substituted with linguine, both of which complement the pesto very well. This dish is certainly a delicious primo piatto (first course) for a cozy dinner or piatto unico (main course) for lunch.

FETTUCCINE AL PESTO “RICCO”(FETTUCCINE WITH “RICH” PESTO)
Preparation time: 25 min.     Cooking time: 6 min.          Servings: 4 Fettuccine al Pesto Ricco INGREDIENTS

340 g (12 oz) fettuccine
2 medium potatoes 150 g (5 oz) fresh green beans
2 tablespoons olive oil (Extra Virgin)
4 tablespoons pesto
Salt pepper
Grated pecorino cheese

DIRECTIONS
1. Clean the beans by breaking off the ends and rinsing under running water. Boil in water or steam (even better). Drain when they are still crunchy. Keep warm
2. Wash the potatoes and cook in salted water or steam until they are tender. Allow to cool, peel, dice into 1.5 cm (1/2 in.) cubes. Keep warm
3. In a saucepan, bring 3 liters of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the instructions on the package. Strain and pour into a serving dish, season with olive oil, potatoes and green beans. Garnish with pesto and add some freshly-ground pepper to taste. You can also top with parmesan or pecorino cheese! – Paola

%d bloggers like this: