Monday, August 31, 2009

Fig and Apple Jam

Often the problem with fig jam is that as it cooks it tends to stick to the pan or the sugar tends to burn. This recipe suggests to use figs and apples. Not a bad idea. Apples, as we know, contain a good supply of pectin, and always help the jam to set, while giving figs that bit of extra juice that can give jam a good consistency.
'Granny Smiths' are tart apples which  well-balance the sweet flavour of figs.



600 g. of Granny Smith apples (about 3), peeled, cored and cut into small pieces,
1 l. of water,
500 g. of  figs, washed and cut into small pieces without removing the skin,
an additional  ½ l. of water,
1 kg. of sugar.
Put the apples in a large shallow pot  with the cold water, bring to boil, cook for 30 minutes. Add the figs and the rest of the water.  Bring to the boil and simmer covered for another 10 minutes. Take off the heat, add the sugar, put the pot back on the stove and let the sugar melt slowly stirring over low heat. Bring to the boil and cook uncovered over low heat for another 30 minutes, without much stirring, checking occasionally that the jam does not stick. When it is sufficiently dense (do the plate test), the jam is ready!
Pour into hot sterilized jars while jam is still hot. Clean the top of the jars with a paper towel moistened with liquor.
Close with sterilized lids when cold or close while hot and turn upside down until cold thus creating a vacuum. This jam can be made with both white and blach figs.
Here is a gift for you: the labels that I made using an image that I really like signed "Tratti di gusto."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Eggplant Croquettes for Adriana

This recipe is on my website, too but I decided to add it to my blog. Eggplants are in season and a Forum friend has just asked for it. Maybe the picture is a little dark. I apologize :)

Serves 6
1 kg. of medium size eggplants,
40 g. of grated pecorino o parmigiano cheese,
1 egg and one yolk,
70 g. of breadcrumbs,
2 cloves of garlic,
some basil and parsley leaves,
extravergin olive oil (preferibly Italian :)),

Wash and dry the eggplants cut off the stalks, then bake them whole at 180°C for about 40 minutes (or until tender). Let them cool, now you can either open them and scrape the flesh away from the skin and use only that, or, as I prefer use the whole fruit. Blend it with the basil, parsley, garlic, eggs, grated cheese, a pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer the mix into a bowl, stir in the breadcrumbs and let rest for 10 minutes. If the mixture should be too soft, add a little more breadcrumbs. Shape into croquettes. Roll in breadcrumbs. Place them on a baking tray on a sheet of baking paper, and bake in a hot oven at 180°C for 30 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

With the same mix you can also make small patty-cakes. In this case, pour a little oil on the surface before baking.

Serving Suggestion - Chop some fresh tomatoes, add some oil, basil, salt and pepper and serve aside the croquettes or patties.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Swordfish with pistachio and basil pesto

I wondered for some time if the combination of basil and pistachio nuts would taste good with swordfish. On the internet   On the net I found info of the combination of swordfish and basil but nothing on pistachio, so I had to try for myself.

I really liked it.  I found the taste well balanced and enjoyable.  Try it yourself and then tell me.

If there's only two of you,  you'll have enough extra pesto left over for a second time. :)

SWORDFISH pistachios and basil pesto

Serves two

2 medium sized slices of swordfish,
30 g. of tender basil leaves,
30 g. of fresh  pistachios,
4 or 5 tablespoons of e.v.o. oil,
a pinch of salt,

In traditional pesto recipes basil is not meant to be washed. But another story. So very quickly wash the basil and dry it. Tritarlo insieme ai pistacchi e al sale nel mortaio o in un piccolo frullatore capace di fare un trito sottilissimo. Crush them with pistachios and salt in a mortar or small food processor can do a very fine mince. Aggiungere un po' d'olio alla volta. Add a little 'oil at a time. Se invece il pesto lo volete conservare qualche giorno non aggiungere tutto l'olio, bensì solo un paio di cucchiai e metterlo in un barattolino. But if you want to keep the pesto a few days do not add all the oil, but only a couple of tablespoons and put it in a jar. Coprirlo con un po' d'olio per far si che la superficie non sia a contatto con l'aria. Cover it with a little 'oil for making one's area is not in contact with air.

Either grill the swordfish or cook on a griddle for a few minutes, serve seasoned with the pistachio pesto. Place a bit of it on the fish and a little on the side so that you can still dip fish in the pesto.


Friday, August 21, 2009

"Altamura" Bread Savoury Cake with Zucchini and Smoked "Provola" cheese

At last, after having said I would make it, after asking Ale for advice and braving the heat of August summer days I turned on the oven and  prepared this savoury dish with the recipe published by Ale on Menu Turistico making very small variations to obtain a "lighter" version.  For example, I used fewer eggs (only 3) and I started with cooking the zucchini, so they could cool while I lined the cake tin  24 cm in diameter) and started mixing the other ingredients. Next time I'll try the new suggestions given by Ornella and Ale to make it even a bit " lighter", for example, replacing all the cream with milk.

A dilemma I had was with the instruction, "grate" the zucchini. Mumble mumble...  Grating just like when making Draniki seemed excessive. Ale is on vacation and so I don't think it's the case to write to her. In Ale's picture the zucchini seem to be cut in small pieces  maybe they are shredded into julienne strips - I thought- and that's what I did. Here is the detail of the slice.

detail of a slice

Other considerations. I put the lined cake tin in the oven as the recipe said but at the last minute so as to get the bread  nice and hot, then took it out,  quickly poured the mixture in and put it right back in the oven.  All this to avoid the liquid from going immediately to the bottom. After 5 minutes I took the tin out and decorated the top with slices of tomato, etc..
Actually, I want to add a further consideration: shouldn't this savoury cake be called ... "with zucchini and provola"? With all  the provola that's inside! :)))

Ale will tell me what she thinks of the changes. In any case she was right.  "It is simply delicious."

This is the original recipe from Menu Turistico.

6 to 8 slices of Altamura bread , slightly stale
5 eggs,
250 ml of cream,
500 g. of zucchini,
2 tomatoes,
1 smoked scamorza cheese (about 3 hg),
 e.v.o.* oil,
grated parmesan 2 nice handfuls,
a herb  mix  (oregano-thyme-basil)
salt and pepper.

*extra vergin olive

Line the bottom of a sprinform cake tin with baking paper and grease the edges well.  Beat the eggs shortly with a fork, add the cream and salt.  Soak the slices of bread in the egg mixture  quickly and arrange them into a 24 - 26 cm tin, so as to line the bottom and sides).  In the meanwhile, julienne the zucchini and cook them in a pan for 7-8 minutes, with a little oil and salt. You can also flavour with basil cut with scissors.  The zucchini must remain crisp. Let them cool and add to the remaining mixture of eggs and cream. Should the bread have absorbed too much of it, if necessary, add an egg and 75 ml of cream. Now add  the diced smoked cheese, parmesan, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of salt, if necessary (it usually is). Pour the mixer in the lined tin, level the surface and  garnish with slices of tomato.  To make it clear: you have to make a circle, leaving the center free as in the picture. Finish by dusting the surface with bread crumbs and herbs. Bake at 200°C for half an hour - 40 minutes.


6 to 8 slices of Altamura bread , slightly stale
3 eggs,
100 ml of milk,
50 ml of cream,
450 g of julienned zucchini,
2 tomatoes,
150 g. of smoked provola,
e.v.o.* oil,

2 handfuls of grated parmesan cheese,
a herb mix (oregano-thyme-basil),
salt and pepper.
*extra vergin olive

Slice the zucchini and cook them in a pan for 7-8 minutes, with a little oil and salt. You can also flavour aromatizzare with basil, cut with scissors. The zucchini must remain crisp. Let them cool. In the meanwhile, line the bottom of a springform cake tin with baking paper and grease the edges well with olive oil. Beat the eggs  shortly  with a fork, add the cream and salt. Soak quickly the slices of bread in the egg mixture  and arrange them into a 24 cm tin, so as to line the bottom and sides).  Add the zucchini to the remaining mixture of eggs and cream. Now add the diced smoked cheese, parmesan, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of salt, if necessary (it usually is). Pour the mixer in the lined tin, level the surface and garnish with slices of tomato. To make it clear: you have to make a circle, leaving the centre free as in the picture. Finish by dusting the surface with bread crumbs and herbs. Bake at 200°C for half an hour - 40 minutes.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Carnaroli Rice and Friendship

During the Pirandelliana (a theatre event taking place in summer here in Rome), a dear and thoughtful Friend, who usually  arrives with all kinds of nice goodies for us when she comes to see the plays (in previous years she has usually arrived with dinner for two, worthy of the most elegant picnic, ideal  to restore us after working hard and starving until late while helping at the box office ), This year brought, - although unaware of my membership in "Cucina Italiana- a microwave safe cooking stone she purchased in Germany, a black truffle and last but not least a beautiful packet of carnaroli rice, accompanied by the following  handwritten message that I appreciated so much, because sometimes a small gesture, the time and care put into doing something  say so much about a person:

"This rice is the onlyone that has PDO (protected designation of origin)  in Italy


 1 cup of rice serves two
 2 cups cold water

Put the rice and water in a saucepan (preferably nonstick), cover with lid and place on the heat.  When the water is almost totally absorbed mix a bit and then serve with gravy, sauce or whatever you want.  It does not stick and does not require any attention. "

Yesterday night Marcowebmaster exhibited himself in cooking a truffle risotto that due to poor lighting  was not photographed before being engorged by the two of us. We'll make it again sometime and give you a full report.

 I put the rest of the rice away. I'm saving it for the recipe that  Ale (Menu Turistico) published for us in her column: "chi la fa la aspetto" - the game consists in following a given recipe by a famous chef  and  photographing what turns out  . I read one of the recipes and I thought: I've got most of the ingredients!  I've got carnaroli rice ! Where to get the squid ink had already been the subject of several jokes on the forum, and seeing that Diana (from Bordighera - only 700 km away) no longer had any in her pantry I could borrow :)), this morning I set out looking for it.  Easy! The first SMA supermarket I stopped at had it in the chiller cabinet and the cashier was so nice that she went to get it for me. With these two essential ingredients already in the pantry there are no excuses. I have to take part in Ale's "game". The only problem is that Marcowebmaster doesn't exactly love prawns. It's going to take me some time to convince him.