Tag Archives: Puff pastry

Strudel di Verdure (Vegetable Strudel)

24 Jun

When we think about strudel, we usually imagine the delicious pastry roll filled with apples, raisins and cinnamon, which is a traditional dessert of Trentino Alto Adige. The term derives from the German word “strudel” which means vortex; in fact, this stuffed roll, made with a very thin dough, is typical of the Italian regions that were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The version that I propose here uses a different filling: fresh seasonal vegetables, sautéed in olive oil and flavored with fresh mint. A touch of robiola (anItalian soft-ripened cheese of the Stracchino family, (see focaccia di Recco) gives a creamy taste to this recipe. This tasty strudel is ideal as an appetizer or light vegetarian lunch. The preparation is quick and simple, and I recommend using puff pastry to speed things up. The traditional strudel dough is made of flour, oil and water and is pulled very thin, until it’s almost transparent; this is the secret and also the hardest part! You can also prepare the strudel in advance and then heat it in the oven a few minutes before slicing and serving.

STRUDEL DI VERDURE (VEGETABLE STRUDEL)
Preparation time: 50 min.                    Servings: 6

strudel di verdure fetta


INGREDIENTS
1 medium red onion
200 g (7 oz) zucchini, cut into julienne strips
200 peppers (7 oz), cut into julienne strips
200 g carrots (7 oz), peeled and cut into julienne strips
3 mint leaves, chopped
5 tablespoons of olive oil (extra virgin)
100 g (4 oz) robiola, soft cheese
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
230 g (8 oz) puff pastry (disc)
1 beaten egg

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 180 ° C
1. In a pan sauté onion over medium-low, just until soft. Add carrots and peppers. After a few minutes (about 5) add zucchini, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 5-7 min., Vegetables should be crunchy. Add mint. When done, drain the vegetables on paper towels to remove excess olive oil
2. Place the puff pastry disc on parchment paper. Spread with vegetable filling, leaving a border of about 5 cm (2 inches). Distribute pieces of the robiola cheese on top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese
3. Roll up the strudel and close the ends to seal in the stuffing. Brush with egg and bake on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper for about 35-40 min. Remove from oven and let stand on a rack for a few minutes. Serve warm. Paola

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

Brie in Crosta (Baked Brie in Puff Pastry)

25 May

Brie wrapped in puff pastry and baked until the cheese is hot and gooey and the crust is golden brown …  mmmmmmm! This is an elegant and tasty appetizer to serve at a dinner party to please and impress your guests.  It’s probably one dish that you don’t want to eat all the time (full of calories!), but when you do it is heavenly.   Try it on either toasted Italian bread or your favorite crackers. To fully enjoy Brie’s taste you have to eat it with its rind, a integral part of its flavor. Some cheeses are conserved in plastic wax or even natural rinds that have, however, an unpleasant taste; Brie’s rind, on the other hand, adds a pronounced and distinctive taste to the cheese, so please do not remove it. Brie is a soft French cheese named after the French region Brie, where it was originally created. It is a rich cheese but also a good source of protein, vitamin B12 and vitamin B2.  It is a popular cheese in Italy, even though we have a very similar one called Camoscio d’Oro.

BRIE IN CROSTA (BAKED BRIE IN PUFF PASTRY)
Preparation Time: 35        Baking Time: 15 min.                    Servings: 6

Brie con Fette di Pane

INGREDIENTS
200 g (14 oz) wedge of Brie
230 g – 1 sheet (½ pound) puff pasry
1 tablespoon water
Crackers or toasted bread

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 200 °C – 400°F
2. Shape the brie as a rectangle by cutting off the point (halfway between the tip and the outer edge), then divide the point longitudinally in half. Place the two thin triangles obtained along each side of the larger piece of brie to create a rectangle
3. Cut the puff pastry sheet to obtain a strip of about 25×15 cm (10×6 in), wrap the cheese completely as if making a little package like a gift
4. Wet the overlapping parts and seal the pastry by pressing firmly with your fingers. This step is very important to avoid having the cheese leak out during baking
5. Decorate the “package” with pieces of puff pastry in a design of your choice
6. Place the wrapped cheese on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown
7. Let cool for 15 minutes, and serve with toasted bread or crackers.

 

 

 

Torta Pasqualina (Easter Pie)

23 Mar

Torta Pasqualina is a rustic savory pie typical of Liguria, filled with spinach, ricotta cheese and eggs. You can serve it as an appetizer with a nice sparkling wine (I love it with my Prosecco) or as an antipasto (starter) anytime of the year, but this dish is really part of the traditional Easter (Pasqua) dinner or served at the Easter Monday (little Easter, “Pasquetta”) picnic with family and friends. In fact you can prepare it a day in advance and enjoy it cold the next day. Torta Pasqualina traces its origins back to 1400 when it was prepared to celebrate Easter Sunday after Lent, a period of time marked by fasting. Catholics during Lent historically gave up more than just meat dishes – eggs, milk, and even fat were abandoned. According to the ancient tradition, 33 pastry layers were used (like Jesus’ age at his passing), while the eggs represented life, fertility and renewal. The ingredients (spinach, cheese, eggs and pastry) were something special, a celebration of the Easter feast. Nowadays the recipe calls for a fewer layers of pastry, and artichokes sometimes substitute spinach. Torta Pasqualina is an absolute hit for everybody who eats it – even kids like it! The perfect combination of spinach, sautéed onions and creamy ricotta cheese is its secret while the hidden eggs add a special surprise.

TORTA PASQUALINA (EASTER PIE)
Preparation time: 1 h           Baking time: 40 min.       Servings: 6

Torta Pasqualina small

INGREDIENTS
1 kg (about 2 pounds) fresh spinach leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil (Extra Virgin)
1 medium onions, finely sliced
1 sprig fresh marjoram
500 g (2 cups) ricotta cheese
1 egg + 6 hard boiled eggs
100 g (1 cup) grated Parmesan
460 g – 2 sheets (1 pound) puff pastry
Salt , nutmeg and freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 170°C -180 °C (350 °F)
1.Boil 6 eggs and shell them. Set aside
2. Wash the spinach several times to remove all the soil. Drain well then steam for 3-4 minutes. Cool, drain and squeeze dry
3. In a large skillet on medium-low heat sauté the onion with olive oil until onion is soft and translucent. Add the spinach and mix well with the onion. Cook for about 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and marjoram
4. In a large bowl cream one fresh egg with the ricotta cheese and Parmesan. Add the vegetable mix and season with freshly ground pepper and nutmeg. Set aside
5. Place one puff pastry sheet in a 25 cm (10 in) baking dish and prick the pastry bottom with the tines of a fork (four or five times is sufficient). Fill with half of the vegetable mix. Hollow out 6 depressions in the filling with the back of moist spoon. Place the boiled eggs in them and pour in the rest of the vegetable mix. Cover with the second sheet
6. Bake until golden, about 40 minutes. It is delicious when eaten freshly baked and a little bit warm, but it is also a treat to enjoy cold the next day.

Note: You can substitute spinach with new Swiss chard. You can store the pie in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days. You can also freeze it after cooking. I would suggest to cut into slices and freeze each single slice. Before serving, defrost in the fridge and heat it in the oven.  -Paola

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