Archive | May, 2014

Torta di Riso (Rice Cake)

31 May

A light and delicious cake, perfect for a gluten-free diet.
The rice cake is an Italian classic, prepared with some variations in the different regions of Italy The recipe that I am proposing is typical of Emilia Romagna; in the past it used to be prepared only at Easter, but nowadays we eat it all year long. It is too tasty for just one occasion! Actually I like it as a summer dessert because of its fresh lemon taste. The simple recipe with milk and rice can feature a variety of different other ingredients, according to your personal tastes (see note). The rice I use is the Arborio or Carnaroli rice, rich in starch, that gives a smooth texture to this dessert. The traditional recipe calls for some butter (about 3 tablespoons); I omit it to make the recipe lighter. You can serve it as a dessert after dinner, or I also like it as an afternoon snack with a good cup of coffee.

TORTA DI RISO (RICE CAKE)
Preparation time: 1 hour      Cooking time: 45 min.     Servings: 6

Torta riso fetta

INGREDIENTS
950 ml (4 cups) whole milk
200 g (7 oz) Arborio rice
1 vanilla bean
70 g (½ cup) blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
100 g (2/3 cup) raisins
1 lemon, grated rind
130 g (1/3 cup) sugar
3 medium eggs
1 pinch of salt
Rum
Powdered sugar for decoration

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 160 °C.
1. In a small bowl soften the raisins in the rum for about 10-15 min. The amount of rum should be enough to fully cover the raisins
2. Bring the milk to a boil with the vanilla bean. Then remove the vanilla and add the rice. Cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes or more, until the mixture is similar to a “risotto” (pretty dense mixture). Stir often with a wooden spoon. Pour the mixture into a glass bowl and allow to cool
3. As soon as the “risotto ” is cold, add the raisins and rum, almonds, salt and lemon zest
4. In a bowl beat the eggs with the sugar using an electric mixer until creamy. Add the rice mixture and stir. The batter should be pretty liquid
5. Coat the bottom of a spring form pan (diameter 18 cm, 7 inch) with a disc of baking paper and pour in the mixture. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the surface is golden and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack. As soon as the cake is cool, loosen the cake from the pan by running the blade of a knife around the edges, and then release it. Remove the baking paper. Place on a serving plate and enjoy!

Note: The almonds can be replaced with an equal amount of pine nuts. You can also add 50 g of dried apricots, cut into small pieces. Vanilla can be replaced with a pinch of ground cinnamon. Some recipes use fresh fruit such as pitted cherries. Paola

Advertisements

Farinata di Ceci (Chickpea Flatbread)

23 May

I love chickpeas and everything made with these tasty legumes. They have a delicious, slightly nutty flavor that goes well with many dishes. In addition they are very nutritious because they contain a lot of protein, minerals and vitamins (see chickpea salad). Farinata (Fah-ree-NAH-tah) is a tasty flatbread made with chickpea flour, and it is typical of Liguria, particularly from Genoa. It has a long history; it is thought to date back to the Greeks and Romans, when soldiers prepared it for their meals as a substitute for bread. The traditional recipe uses only four ingredients: chickpea flour, olive oil, water, salt. I like to enrich it with ground pepper and chopped rosemary leaves, a flavorful note to this delicate and delicious recipe. The preparation is very easy: just mix the flour and water. Instead, the “hard-work” is waiting the 12 hours needed to allow the chickpea flour to absorb the water. This delectable dish can be served as an appetizer or a snack, and it’s a healthy alternative to offer to our kids. In the past it was a common afternoon snack after school: tasty and good for you. If you want to prepare a gluten-free meal, this recipe will be a hit.  A personal recommendation: eat it warm . If there is any leftover (which I doubt!), heat it for a few minutes in a hot oven.

FARINATA DI CECI (CHICKPEA FLATBREAD)

Preparation time: 10 min. (plus 12 hours)  Cooking time: 35 min.  Servings: 8

Farinata di ceci

 

INGREDIENTS
330 g (12 oz) chickpea flour
950 ml (4 cup) water at room temperature
80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil (extra-virgin)
Leaves of 1 sprig of rosemary, chopped
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. In a bowl, dissolve flour in the water, stirring with a whisk and making sure that there are no lumps, until mixture is liquid and homogeneous. Let it stand covered with a lid for 12 hours at room temperature
2. Preheat oven to 220° C (425 °F)
3. After 12 hours, if there is some foam on the surface, remove it with a spoon. Add salt, pepper, rosemary and half of the oil. Stir
3. Pour the other half of oil in a 32 cm (13 inch) diameter metal pan. Pour in the batter and bake for about 35 minutes until the surface is golden brown. Serve warm. Paola

Bucatini all’Amatriciana (Amatriciana Pasta)

16 May

This is a tasty, simple and fast recipe that you can make anytime you crave for a spicy pasta dish.
The amatriciana (ahm-mah-tree-CHA-na) is mouthwatering sauce for pasta, made with bacon, tomato and Pecorino cheese. Everything is seasoned with chili pepper.

The name of this delicious recipe comes from Amatrice, a town at the center of the Apennines ( in the province of Rieti), where on the last weekend of August, a large quantity of this tasty dish is prepared for the local festival. The recipe has a tradition that dates back to when the shepherds were the primary inhabitants and Amatrice was still part of Abruzzo and spaghetti was used instead of bucatini. This recipe was then acquired by the Romans who replaced spaghetti with bucatini, common to their culinary tradition, added onion.

The bucatini is a type of long pasta, very similar to large hollow spaghetti. This delectable dish goes extremely well with a glass of your favorite red wine.

BUCATINI ALL’AMATRICIANA (AMATRICIANA PASTA)
Preparation time: 20 min.                       Servings: 4

Bucatini all'Amatriciana

INGREDIENTS
340 g (12 oz) bucatini
1 tablespoon olive oil (extra-virgin)
100 g (¾ cup) diced bacon or pancetta
1 medium onion, finely chopped
60 ml (¼ cup) dry white wine
340 g (12 oz) San Marzano tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried chilli pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons grated Pecorino cheese

DIRECTIONS
1. In a sauce pan heat oil over medium heat, add bacon and fry until fat has melted and bacon is crisp. Stir frequently
2. Add onion and saute for about 7-8 minutes. Add chilli pepper, cook for a minute and then add the wine. Increase heat to evaporate half of the wine. Add tomato and cook for additional 10 min.
3. Meanwhile bring to a boil 3 liters of salted water, add bucatini and cook until al dente for approx. 10 min. (according to the instructions on the pasta package). Drain and pour into a warm serving dish, drizzle with the sauce, season with Pecorino cheese! Paola

Rotolo di Tacchino e Asparagi (Asparagus Turkey Roll)

9 May

A spring recipe, spectacular but easy to prepare.

This turkey roll,filled with an asparagus omelette is a tasty main course for a fancy dinner or for a Sunday lunch with family, as we usually eat it in Italy. Impress your mother with it on Mother’s Day this Sunday! The recipe is simple and does not requires particular culinary skill, but the result is quite spectacular, and it is definitely an impressive dish. The roll is made with turkey breast, enriched with an appetizing asparagus omelette (for more information about this tasty and healthy spring vegetable spring see tortino di asparagi e salmone affumicato)

You can cook your roll directly in the oven (at 180 °C, 350°F) for about an hour, until a meat thermometer reads 75 °C- 167°F or on the stove in a rosting pan, and then in the oven for just a few minutes. I prefer this second method because the meat remains tender but not dry. Since the turkey is lean meat with no cholesterol, if it is not cooked properly can be stringy and dry. In my opinion the stove top method enhances the flavor and quality.

ROTOLO DI TACCHINO E ASPARAGI (ASPARAGUS TURKEY ROLL)
Preparation time: 1 ½ hours              Servings: 6

Rotolo di tacchino e asparagi

 

INGREDIENTS
850 g (30 oz) lean turkey breast
250 g (about ½ pound) fresh asparagus, cleaned (450 g, 1 pound uncleaned)
7 tablespoons of olive oil (Extra Virgin )
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 eggs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
240 ml (1 cup) dry white wine
Vegetable broth (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Kitchen twine

DIRECTIONS
1. Clean the asparagus (as suggested in tortino di asparagi e salmone affumicato ). Cut into small pieces of about 1 cm (½ inch) length, keeping the head whole
2. In a pan sauté shallot at medium low heat until soft (4-5 minutes), add the asparagus, stir and cook over medium heat for about 5 min. Set aside.
3 . In a bowl beat the eggs, add Parmesan cheese and a pinch of pepper. Mix and add the asparagus. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick pan. Cook over medium heat, turning the frittata (omelette) once.
4 . Ground the turkey breast to a thickness of 1.5 cm (½ inch), place the frittata in the center of the meat, leaving 1 cm (½ inch) space around the entire perimeter. Roll it and secure with a kitchen string every 5 cm (2 inch).
5. Brown the roll in a roasting pan on all sides using 3 tablespoons of olive oil, add rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Add wine and cover with a lid. Cook for approx. 1 hour on medium heat, turning 2-3 times. If the wine dries up, add some vegetable broth
6. Preheat oven to 205 °C – 400 °F
7. Place the roast on a baking sheet, bake and cook for approx. 5 min. The roast should be golden on all sides .
8 . Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 min. Cut the twine, slice and serve with salad or honey caramelized carrots. Paola

 

 

Mascarpone Fatto in Casa (Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)

2 May

I bet that you have tried tiramisù at least once in an Italian restaurant, that creamy Italian dessert made with a magic ingredient: mascarpone cheese. Today I will share a little secret with you: how to make mascarpone at home! Making cheese can certainly seem difficult, but preparing mascarpone is very easy -it only requires ten minutes of your time and just two ingredients: cream and freshly-squeezed lemon juice. What you really need is patience for the cooling time in the refrigerator, that’s it. The smooth texture and the mouthwatering taste of fresh homemade mascarpone can’t be compared to one you buy, and I doubt you will ever buy it again. In Italy we use mascarpone for both savory recipes (for example, datteri ripieni con mascarpone e noci), as well as pies and sweet recipes (panettone con crema al mascarpone, pandoro alla crema di limoncello). Mascarpone originated in my region of Lombardy, probably in the 16th or early 17th century. Nowadays it is recognized as a prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale (tradtional food product).

MASCARPONE FATTO IN CASA (HOMEMADE MASCARPONE CHEESE)
Preparation time: 9 hrs                       Yield: 300 g (1 ½ cups, or 11 oz)

Mascarpone

 

INGREDIENTS
500 ml (2 cups) cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
7.5 ml (½ tablespoon) freshly-squeezed lemon juice

DIRECTIONS
1. In a medium saucepan, heat cream on a medium low flame, stirring constantly with a whisk until it reaches the temperature of 85°C (185°F)
2. Very slowly add the lemon juice stir and continue to cook until the cream thickens to coat the back of a spoon (about 8-10 min). Remove from the heat and let it cool at room temperature for about 35 min.
3. Line a colander with a cheese cloth and place it on top of a bowl. Pour in the cream, scraping the pan with a spatula, and let it cool completely
4. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for at least 7-8 hours. If I have to use mascarpone for my tiramisù, I usually check it after 7 hrs because I prefer it very creamy. The texture of tiramisù is smooth. The more you live it the fridge the more dense it becomes
5. Transfer mascarpone to an airtight container. It can be stored in the fridge for about 3-4 days. Mascarpone is good fresh.
Note: The refrigeration temperature and time are critical. It should be 4°C (39°F), and the longer you leave it in the fridge the thicker it becomes. The mascarpone consistency is like the Philadelphia cheese. The quantity of lemon juice is usually 7.5 ml (½ tablespoon) per 500 ml (2 cups) of cream, but the quantity of citric acid in each lemon can vary a little bit. If the cream does not start to thicken after 5-7 min. of cooking, you can add a few more drops of lemon juice. Paola

%d bloggers like this: