Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

Cucina povera – a peasant soup of beans and greens

October 22, 2009

Cicoria e Fagioli

I cook simple food: rustic, hearty, unadorned, unprocessed, from simple robust ingredients.  The food of peasants.  Cucina povera.   It’s frugal, delicious, healthy, Here is one of my favourite recipes – for curly endive and cannellini bean soup.

Oct209 002

It’s so easy, frugal, quick, delicious.  Dinner in 10 minutes!  The recipe I use is from one of my favourite cookbooks The Food of Italy by Claudia Roden and from one of my favourite regions in Italy – the Abruzzi (where the recent devastating earthquake was), where we spent a few days in 1993.   Pescasseroli, where we stayed, was magical: snow and scoiattoli (squirrels) and cent erbe and cream puffs at the Hotel Pinguino

Here is Antonio Carluccio’s recipe  (which is very similar to Claudia Roden’s), sourced from here which I have adapted

200g (7 oz) dried cannellini beans, or 1 x 425g (15 oz) can cannellini beans
1/2 bunch curly endive, washed and root end removed
6 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 small dried red chillies, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the dried beans to soak for 12 hours or more in a large bowl (they increase in size). Drain them and boil until done in fresh unsalted water. Salt at the end of the cooking time. If using canned beans drain them from their liquid and save the liquid to add to the soup. Wash the endive and cut it up into short lengths (about an inch long).

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, fry the garlic without browning, and then add the endive and chillies. Keeping the heat high, stir-fry for a minute or two, coating the endive with the oil, then add the drained cannellini beans, half of the liquid from the can, some salt and water to cover.  Bring to the boil, cover the saucepan (I don’t cover mine – the colour keeps better if the soup isn’t covered) and reduce the heat. Simmer until the endive is tender.

Toast some stale bread (preferably Italian) and put a slice in each soup bowl.  ladle over the soup over the bread, swirl some olive oil on top and serve with grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.

I’m eating leftovers for lunch as I type…

Dolce and Cannoli Cream

September 2, 2008

Dolce is “sweet” in Italian.

Dolce is also the cat who shares our home, our lives and our hearts.  She was MissN’s 10th birthday present.  MissN kindly shares her with us and allows me to feed her, brush her, clean up after her….  you get the idea.  MissN is very generous in a lot of ways!

2005 was not a good year for me.  My dad was dying of cancer (in South Africa).  I had health issues.  Many times that year especially I gave thanks for the little moggie who had entranced us by coming into our lives just at the right time.  We have had a few cats over the years but Dolce is the most lovable, vocal, adorable, affectionate, companionable, crazy cat we have had.

And it’s been a while since I posted a recipe.  Here is a super easy “dolce” dessert C and I make often.  (He knows how to wield the Bamix!) It’s low fat, with protein and calcium and quickly made in the food processor.

Cannoli cream is from here – a wonderful cookbook C bought me over a decade ago.

Cannoli Cream with fresh Berries

11 ounces ricotta (1¼ cups) (I buy 500g)
1/3 cup orange marmalade
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 pints fresh raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries

Process the ricotta in a food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time, for about 2 minutes, until the curds disappear and it is perfectly smooth.

Add the marmalade and pulse just to combine; you want to retain some small pieces of pulp.

Transfer to a mixing bowl. Fold in the chocolate, Grand Marnier, and vanilla. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days.

Divide the berries among 4 individual serving bowls or wine goblets. Pour the cannoli cream over the berries and serve.

Serves 4 to 6 (lol not in our house!  Leftovers, if there ARE any, make good breakfast!)

The best pick me up and Tiramisu

April 28, 2008

Tiramisu means “pick me up”.  It’s an Italian dessert, fairly recently invented but a classic all over the world already.  It’s ideal hangover food as it contains coffee, eggs and a shot of alcohol!  And the rich mascapone, which is really just condensed cream.  For years I have been making the traditional tiramisu. As a sublime dessert, of course, not for hangovers.  I love how one dish of tiramisu feeds hordes as it’s too rich for seconds.  Well, most people are replete after one serving.  In the interests of matrimonial harmony, no names of those who frequently have seconds, and thirds, will be mentioned on here!  

 

Last week on the rerun of the SBS Food Safari, individual servings were shown.  I made a healthier version of it yesterday, substituting ricotta cheese for the mascapone and it was DIVINE.   I used 2 eggs, about 4 TBS castor (superfine) sugar, 400g ricotta, about 100 ml espresso coffee, 12 Savioardi biscuits  and I used 15ml of brandy and 15ml of rum instead of liqueur.  Miss N had the last one for breakfast this morning and I do hope she didn’t smell of rum at her first day back at school after the two week break!  .  But – ricotta is good breakfast food.  Protein, and low fat and all that.  So – this isn’t TOO wicked.

And let me leave you with the best pick-me-up of all!

Wendy

Pappardelle con Spinaci e Panna

April 23, 2008

We have a love affair with Italy that goes back to when C worked for Olivetti in the 80s and made a couple of trips to Ivrea.  Many evenings at Venezia restaurant in Johannesburg (I wonder if it is still there?) with the wonderful Giorgio and Ivana fostered our love of Italian food, and all things Italian.  I’m very lucky to have been to Italy three times already (my first trip to Europe in 93 was 6 weeks in Italy – we didn’t go anywhere else).  If I had to live on one national cuisine for the rest of my life, it would have to be Italian.

N and C in Venice

Miss N was yesterday in dire need of green vegetables – she had had a movie day with friends on Monday and then a sleepover so not much of any nutritional value had been consumed for a while.  So dinner for C and N was fettucine with spinach and ricotta – an adaptation of a Valentina Harris recipe from “Instant Italian”.  It’s one of their favourites (and was mine too before I went wheat and dairy free!)  I “made do” with leftover roast sweet potato, spinach and grilled halloumi (sheep’s milk!)

on the Rialto

Pappardelle with Spinach and Cream (serves 4)

400g pappardelle, fettucine or tagliatelle

salt

400g fresh spinach, rinsed (frozen is quicker and cheaper!) I use 250g frozen

10 TBS single cream ( I substitute a big dollop of ricotta and I used some marscapone as it was on special)

6TBS freshly grated Parmesan cheese (the horrible packaged powder will NOT work!)

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

salt and freshly milled black pepper

1 TBS butter

Cook the spinach (I use the microwave), drain well.  Cook the pasta in rapidly boiling salted water.  Whizz the spinach in a food processor with the cream and Parmesan.  (I use my Bamix)  Add the seasoning.  Combine drained pasta, sauce and butter in the saucepan and serve at once.

 

Sublissimo!!!