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Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

This is the one-of-a kind dish I am making for our November Supper Club at Amy & Joes.  The theme this month just so happens to be Italian.  I first tried this t0-die-for appetizer at Boca.  It was one of most incredible blend of flavors I’ve ever tried in one mouthful.  Sour lemon, warm melted mozerella cheese and saltiness of sardines spread on a piece of Italian bread.  WOW!   The recipe below is from Jamie Oliver’s website.  He calls it the:

Amalfi Baked Lemons (limoni di amalfi cotti al forno)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 2 large unwaxed lemons
  • 2 1-2 x 150g balls of buffalo mozzarella, sliced into 0.5 cm / 1/4 inch thick pieces
  • 4 4 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 2 ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Optional: 1 dried red chilli, crumbled
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6.
  2. Remove the ends of the lemons and discard them, then cut the lemons in half crossways, giving you 4 x 2.5cm/1 inch thick discs. See the picture opposite to see what I mean. Now, using a small knife, remove the lemon flesh leaving you with four hollow circles of skin. Basically, what we’re going to do is flavour the mozzarella and push it inside the lemon skin so that it absorbs the lovely lemon flavour when it bakes.
  3. Now the mozzarella is obviously going to melt and ooze out when baked. In Italy, a lemon leaf is placed underneath each one to keep everything in place, but it’s fine to use a square of greaseproof paper to do the same thing. So, lay a greaseproof paper square or a lemon leaf on a chopping board and place one of your lemon skin wheels on top. Cut a piece of mozzarella to fit inside, then lay a basil leaf, half an anchovy fillet and half a cherry tomato on top with a small pinch of salt and pepper. Add a little dried chilli if you like. Put another slice of mozzarella on top. The lemon skin should now be filled up.
  4. Do the same to the rest of the wheels, place them on a baking tray, and cook in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes until golden and bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes, then serve with some hot grilled crostini. Simply scoop the mozzarella out, eat with the toast and mop up any juices. Delicious!©Jamie Oliver 2004
    http://www.jamieoliver.com

 

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A Truffle Recipe from SNOOTH…

During my recent trip to Italy, I was on a mission to return to the States with one item in particular…truffles from Umbria, where this decadent fungi grows wild underground, beneath trees.  If you’ve ever eaten a truffle, you have no idea what you are missing.  I’m not sure how to even describe them except to say they are earthy, chewy, meaty and make-you-moan-out-loud, delicious.  While they taste a bit like a strong mushroom, there is really no comparing the two.  Truffles are very expensive, about $800/pound U.S. according to a show on the Travel Channel, so if you want to try a truffle, you might consider starting out with a truffle oil to make sure you enjoy the flavor.  You can find truffle oil at finer grocery stores like Whole Foods.  If I wanted to order the real thing, I might need to go through my friend, David, who owns an upscale ristorante in Oakley (Cincinnati, OH) called Boca, because this gourmet ‘shroom is super hard-to-find.  

I was reading an article on Snooth.com that talked about wines that can hold up to the strong flavor of truffles and thick, creamy dishes they often accentuate.  I found a truffle & pasta recipe and the author suggested a Reisling, to cut through the dishe’s thick creaminess.  If you made this recipe, tell me what you think of it and if you happen to be a truffle addict like I am, please share your truffle tasting experience on this blog.   Buon appetito! 

Worth every guilty ounce of truffle cream sauce

The following recipe was a contribution to SNOOTH.com by Eric Guido.

Cutting the fat with Dry Rielsing

ice laserEric Guido returns this week with a stunning Fettucini in Truffled Cream Sauce recipe. Using the the theory of contrasting flavors Eric has paired this dish with a set of dry rieslings. In the wine and food pairing world there are two fundamental concepts that govern pairing decisons. One can choose to either contrast, or to compliment, the flavors and textures of a dish.

In this case the rich creaminess of the sauce is contrasted against the brilliant mineral, and acid rich flavors of the wines. Other wines that would be worth exploring for this sort of dish, rich, creamy and laced with prosciutto, would include Pinot Bianco from the Alto Adige, Fiano di Avellino from Campania, dry Riesling from Australia or even a fine aged dry Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley

Fettuccine in Truffle Cream Sauce

 truffle cream sauce pasta

Fettuccine in Truffle Cream Sauce

 

This recipe is all about planning and timing.  When working in fine dining, every plate is prepared separately in it’s own pan, no matter if the entire table orders the same thing.  However, at home, this would be nearly impossible, as you’d find yourself running out of burners very quickly.  I have adjusted my recipe, which was initially intended for a single plate for a party of four. 

When it comes to the truffles, look for white truffles.  If you have the funds to actually buy truffles for shaving over this dish then that’s great.  However, if you’d like to keep the cost of your meal outside of the stratospheric cost range, you can easily use truffle oil.  Be careful, though, when purchasing truffle oil by looking for a brand that has actual truffle in the oil, and stay away from anything that has ingredients that read “truffle flavoring.”  I use white truffle oil from Wild Forest Products.

Lastly, a note on the prosciutto.  When you go to your butcher, ask for them to slice the prosciutto thick, about 1/8 of an inch.  At that size you will likely need about two slices for this recipe.  This will speed up your preparation.  Trim the fat and cut the prosciutto into a small dice. 

1 lb bag of fettuccine (timing in recipe is for dry pasta)

¾ cup Prosciutto di Parma (small Dice)

1 cup peas (frozen is fine but go for a good quality brand)

1 shallot (fine dice)

3/4 cup white wine (if possible, use the same wine you are pairing)

1 cup vegetable stock

1 quart whipping cream (at room temperature)

1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano (grated)

4 tbls butter (cubed)

truffle oil (see recipe instructions for use)

salt and pepper (to taste)

fresh parsley (minced)

1 tbls. canola oil.

 

Preparation

  1. Strain them again and set them aside, covered, in your refrigerator.
  2. Set the prosciutto aside.
  3. Allow the shallots to sweat in the butter until they are translucent.
  4. As the white wine is reducing in the pan, add the pasta to the boiling pasta water and set your timer to 2 minutes short of the recommended cooking time. (You are now at the point of no return.)
  5. The idea is to reduce the cream by 1/3.
  6. Taste and season lightly with salt.
  7. The timer for your pasta should go off about the same time as the cream has reduced to desired level.
  8. Place pan back on the stovetop over a low flame.

10.  Drizzle pasta with truffle oil and toss.  Then add the pasta back to the pot and pour the reduced cream sauce over the pasta along with the par-cooked peas and stir to combine.

11.  Turn off the burner and add half of the grated Parmigiano Reggiano and last two tbls of butter.  Stir to bring the sauce together and taste.  Season with salt and pepper if necessary.

12.  Remove the plates from the oven and portion the pasta out with tongs.  (Don’t worry about the sauce at this time because it will collect at the bottom of the pan.)  Once you have portioned out all of the pasta, use a ladle to sauce each plate from what is left at the bottom of the pot, making sure to distribute the peas and pieces of prosciutto evenly.

13.  Drizzle each plate with truffle oil.  (Be careful not to overdo it.  Truffle and truffle oil can go from good to overwhelming very quickly.) Then sprinkle with the remaining parmigiano and then with parsley.

14.  With a warm paper towel, clean the rim of the plates and serve.

Learn more about German wine and Food Pairing: On Snooth

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My mother-in-law’s “partner in crime” from her youth is traveling to Italy and asked for a few suggestions on places to eat, see & play in Rome and Florence. Well, any partner-in-crime of Cathie Kocher’s is a partner-in-crime of mine, so I was glad to help.  I’ve decided to document my “MUST” list and have others contribute.  If you have suggestions on where to go – or place’s to stay away from – your thoughts are welcome here.  This guide will be helpful for many who plan to travel to one of the greatest countries in the world.

Must Eat
*For authentic Roman meals, ask the locals where they eat and consider it a cardinal sin to “get your food on” in touristy squares.  Your best bet for authentic Italian is typically found off the beaten path, in some narrow alley where the owner may, or may not, have a restaurant license.  We ate at a place like this in Rome and I’m pretty sure a law was being broken, although the pasta was incredible.

Food:
La campana – any pasta with truffles or pesto
Matricinella – bucatini all’ amatriciana (pasta with tomato/pancetta sauce), abbacchio cacitore (lamb hunter’s style) best overall meal I had!
Da Baffetto – best pizza in Rome! Make sure you go to the original! It’s very thin and incredible! -submitted by chef, David Falk of Boca Restaurant group

Hosteria Roma (AMAZING) dinner
anyplace near the Pantheon in the square for lunch (for a less authentic, but still delicious experience)
La Campana
Florence:
GustoVino (the best) dinner

Others:

Rome — Armando Al Pantheon, La Campana, Antico Forno, Pierluigi, Ristorante del Pallaro.
Florence — Gusto Vine, ViniE Vecchi Sapori, La Casalinga, Tattoria Garga, Le Fonticine
*Chowhound.com has a lot of great suggestions. This is what we reviewed before going to many of the restaurants we visited
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/444686

Must See
Pantheon
Vatican
Tuscany
Ruins

Must Sleep:
expect to wake at 10am-12pm. You are going to be on a 6 hour difference and it really messes with your body.
Allow time for naps
Lunch around 2pm
Dinner around 9pm

Best Villa in Tuscany:  Borogo De’ Ricci- http:www.borogodeiricci.com;  tel. +39 055 208324

This 14th century villa, renovated with modern comforts, is 15 min outside of Florence and is absolutely breathtaking with an infinity pool overlooking the vineyards of the Lanciola Farming Estate, http://www.lanciola.net.  At this estate,  they produce one of the most incredible wines I’ve ever had called Terricci.  The estate also produces golden honey & extra virgin olive oil.  The owners of this villa own Gusto Vino Restaurant, http:www.gustavino.it, a modern and delicious taste of Tuscan and Florentine cuisine.

Must Wear
The best time to visit Rome is in March when the weather is warm, 75-83 degrees and sunny with low humidity.

The summer months, July- September get very hot.  If you go anytime between May-September wear cool, comfortable clothes and expect to increase your body temp. from all the walking you will be doing.
SACRIFICE style for comfort!  Your shoes can make or break your trip.  Be sure to wear comfortable, already-broken-in shoes to tread the cobblestone walkways of Italy.
In holy places, such as the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, cover your legs to the knees and arms to the elbows, otherwise you will need to run to a nearby store to purchase a long scarf or wrap like I did here:

Must Say

Here are some key phrases that will help you navigate your way around, compliments of my friend, Val.  Parli’ Ingles is one of the more important of the phrases (Do you speak English?)
Era un piacere incontrati oggi! (It was a pleasure to meet you today!!)
Do you speak English: Parli Inglese?
I would like a glass of red wine: (posso avere is may I have it is more formal) Vorrei (I would like) un bicchiere di vino rosso(red) bianco (white)
I’ll have an espresso: Posso (may i) avere un espresso per favore?
Where is the bathroom: Scusi, Dove al bano?
What is your name? Come ti chiami? Mi chiamo Val
Vorrei abitare con suo familia in questo villa per tre mese. .. e possibile? I would like to move with your family in this villia for three months, is that possible? Lol.. they would love you if you said that!
And the word they use for everything is PREGO .. I can’t believe I forgot that today.. they say prego for everything!!! Hai un bellissima viaggio!! Ciao bella.. Arrivederci!!

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Bamboozled

When in Rome…                                                                                                                                                                                        

I have no idea what I did to be so blessed by God, probably nothing, which makes it even more amazing.  But it’s true; I am so, so, so incredibly blessed.  About a month ago, I put my dream of traveling to Italy out there for the Universe to materialize on my behalf.  I said to the Universe,  “I WANT TO GO TO ITALY!”  I was very specific. “ I want to live the way a true Italian would live; I want to eat what Italians eat; I want to navigate places that would never be mentioned in Zagat’s Best of Italy guidebooks and I want to stay on a vineyard.”

On Sunday, the Universe responded to me in the most ingenious way – through my husband and our closest friends.  These are people know my heart and apparently would go to great lengths to watch me run around like a chimpanzee on crack, shaking a bottle of champagne between my legs yelling “I can’t feel my hands anymore.” 

I’m guessing my husband, Adam, was sick and tired of hearing me bitch about how badly I needed a freakin’ vacation, that he conspired with some friends of ours (all from our church and organized by a chef who knows Italy the same way we know what our friends are doing at any given time, thanks to Facebook, twitter and blogs like this one) to surprise me with a guided tour of Rome and Tuscany.  

My entire trip has been paid for – plane tickets purchased, my passport retrieved and my itinerary set.

… and this is how it all went down: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=71144527100&ref=mf

The trip is part Christian crusade, wine tasting, food noshing, sightseeing, foreign language lesson and hands-on research for my book Corkstories. 

So, in less than three weeks, I am going to Italy because I have a husband who absolutely loves me, friends who would do anything to help me fulfill my dreams and a God who never ceases to amaze, mystify, bamboozle, bewilder and astound me with His crazy love. 

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