CATEGORY Real Recipes | December 2013 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Valentina Bertazzoni
The history of ricotta cheese has been lost in the mists of time.
Being a favourite food of kings and shepherds alike, it was already known to the Egyptians and the Sumerians. Ricotta cheese derives its name from the Latin word recocta - that is cooked twice - as is the case with whey during the manufacturing process. Every year, for centuries, fresh ricotta cheese arrived in town on November 25th, St. Catherine’s Day, to the tune of a pastoral. It was carried, in wicker baskets, by pipers coming down from their pastures up on the mountains to roam around the streets playing their bagpipes and shawms. To date, on the days leading up to Christmas, pipers arrive in town to the loud sound of their ancient instruments, wearing clothes that seem to emerge from a Nativity scene, to announce to everyone that Christmas is finally upon us!
For the filling
2 egg yolks
50 g (1.7 oz) sugar
600 g (21.1 oz) ricotta cheese
100 g (3.5 oz) pine nuts
50 g (1.7 oz) raisins
100 g (3.5 oz) candied fruit
1 small glass of brandy
For the pastry
2 egg yolks
200 g (7 oz) flour
50 g (1.7 oz) butter
50 g (1.7 oz) sugar
a pinch of vanilla-flavoured baking powder
a pinch of salt
First of all, prepare the pastry: pour the flour and the sugar onto a wooden board, leaving a well in the center. Cut the butter into small pieces, then put them into the well, together with the egg yolks, a pinch of salt and a pinch of vanilla-flavoured baking powder. Knead the dough until smooth. Form a ball, cover it and let it stand in the fridge for half an hour. Then prepare the filling: put the raisins into the glass of brandy to soften, then whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. Fold in the ricotta cheese, half of the pine nuts, half of the candied fruit, all of the raisins and the brandy, then blend together. Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll it out with a rolling pin and spread it over a lightly buttered baking pan. Pour the filling onto the pastry and bake the cake in a Bertazzoni fan-assisted oven, at a 356 ° F temperature, for 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool, then cover with icing sugar and decorate it with the remaining pine nuts and candied fruit. Serve and enjoy! Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season!!!
CATEGORY Real Recipes | July 2013 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Valentina Bertazzoni
I tasted for the first time a Sicilian blood orange salad at a dinner made by some friends from Palermo. It was served as a side dish to a roast beef. I must confess that, at first, I was a bit surprised to see oranges seasoned with olive oil and vinegar. I immediately tasted the salad, dressed up with tasty black olives and I found it delicious for the ability of oranges, that are a little sour, to counter the fat taste of meat. It is a dish that I strongly recommend: fast, healthy, tasty, it gives a touch of colour to your table during the coldest months! Typically Sicilian, it has certainly been prepared in this simple way for centuries, perhaps since, in the fourteenth century, orange trees were imported to Sicily from the Far East and began to thrive in this beautiful island. The Sicilian blood orange salad can be prepared during the winter and spring, till when scented blood oranges are on sale. There are several variants of this dish: you can add, to taste, a red onion or a fennel or an avocado and a bit of dried oregano. I prefer it with only Sicilian blood oranges. Here is "my" recipe, approved by my Sicilian friends!
Ingredients (it serves 6 people)
3 blood oranges
a handful of large and tasty black olives
4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of vinegar
Peel the oranges, taking care to remove also the white part under the peel and slice them into thin wheels, about 0.11 inches thick. Remove the seeds and place them on a serving dish. Decorate with black olives. Mix the oil, salt, pepper and vinegar in a separate bowl and pour the sauce over the orange slices. Let it sit for 10 minutes and serve!
A blood orange salad is also delicious as an appetizer.
CATEGORY Real Recipes | June 2013 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Elisabetta Bertazzoni
Spinach, chard and ricotta filled tortelli (tortelli being the name given to ravioli in the Food Valley) are perhaps the most typical dish of Emilia-Romagna and never fail to be on everybody’s table on the occasion of the most important festivities. They are made of fresh pasta in rectangular or square shape ( about 2 x 1.5 inches), filled with spinach, Swiss chard, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and grated nutmeg. They are usually served topped with melted butter, sage leaves and grated Parmesan cheese. It seems that tortelli owe their name to the fact of being made of folded dough (“folded” translates into “torto” in Italian, hence tortelli, small folded dough squares) to contain the filling. Already known and appreciated in the Po Valley around the twelfth century, when they were eaten mainly by the well-off, they have become, throughout the centuries, an affordable dish for everyone, for its easily available and cheap ingredients. Rich in flavour and nutrients, tortelli d’erbetta (that is the way they are called in Parma and the surrounding area) combine proteins, vitamins and carbohydrates and are therefore perfect even as a main dish!
Ingredients (serves 6 people):
For the dough:
1.1 lbs. of super-fine flour
For the filling:
28 oz of spinach
28 oz of Swiss chard
10.5 oz of ricotta cheese
10.5 oz of grated Parmesan cheese
3.5 oz of butter
a dash of extra virgin olive oil
For the condiment:
7 oz of butter
3.5 oz of Parmesan cheese
10 sage leaves
To begin with, prepare the dough for the tortelli: pour the flour onto a board, leaving a well in the center. Add 5 whole eggs and a pinch of salt. Beat the eggs with a fork, gradually incorporating the surrounding flour. Knead the dough for about ten minutes, adding a few tablespoons of warm water if the dough is too dry, or some flour if it is too soft. Form a ball of dough and let it rest for about 15 minutes , covered with a damp cloth.
Flour a rolling pin and the board and roll the dough out till it becomes a thin sheet (0.04-0.08 in). Cut it into strips about 2 inch wide with a pastry wheel cutter and flour lightly. Now prepare the filling: remove the hard mid ribs from the spinach and Swiss chard and rinse them several times, in order to eliminate any residue of soil. Put the spinach and Swiss chard into a deep pan and add a little salted water.
Bring to a boil and cook on for about fifteen minutes and then drain the vegetables and place them into a dish. Press them with a fork, let the liquid drain and place them on a chopping board, where you will mince them with a crescent-shaped knife. Now slice half an onion and pour it into a large pan with the butter and a little oil. Add in the minced vegetables and let them flavour on the fire for about ten minutes. Season with salt. Turn off the flame and cool. Combine the ricotta, Parmesan cheese and the grated nutmeg. When the filling is ready, arrange it in small well-spaced lumps on the strips of pasta. Overlap another strip and then cut horizontally, separating the tortelli. Each tortello must be about 1.5 inch long. Press the edges with your fingers, so your tortelli are not going to open while cooking. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and dip the tortelli, letting them cook for a short time and that is till they come up to the surface. Drain and season with melted butter - that you will have melted without letting it fry - flavoured with sage leaves. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately. Buon appetito! Enjoy your meal!
CATEGORY Real Recipes | May 2013 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Valentina Bertazzoni
Wider than capellini, but thinner than noodles, tagliolini are a type of egg pasta typical of the Italian cuisine. About 0.039 inch thick, their length is just over that of spaghetti and they cook very quickly, just like all fresh homemade egg pasta. They go well with delicate sauces that do not cover their delicate flavour, such as butter, fish, shellfish, vegetables or lemon sauces. We recommend that you serve them in a meat broth, following one of the most typical and traditional recipes in Emilian cuisine.
Ingredients (serves 6 people)
1.1 lbs. of super-fine flour
For the meat broth:
17 cups of water
1.1 lbs. of beef (brisket or shank or hock) + bone
1.1 of chicken meat
1 tablespoon of cooking salt
To begin with, prepare the meat broth, because it will take about 3 hours to cook. Peel the onion and the carrots, rinse the celery and put all the vegetables, the meat and bone in a pot filled with cold salted water. Cover, bring to a boil and let them simmer over low flame for about three hours. Check the pot from time to time and remove the fat, the foam and meat residues coming to the surface. After three hours, turn off the flame and remove the vegetables and meat. The meat can be eaten warm, with mostarda and it’s going to be delicious. Use a strainer to filter the broth. While waiting for the broth to cook, prepare the tagliolini. Pour the flour onto a board, leaving a well in the center. Add 5 whole eggs and a pinch of salt. Mix everything together with a fork, gradually incorporating all the flour. Knead the dough for about ten minutes, adding a few tablespoons of warm water if the dough is too dry, or a little flour if it is too soft. Form a ball of dough and let stand for about 15 minutes, covered with a damp cloth. Flour a rolling pin and the board and roll the dough out till it gets really thin. Cut it into strips about 6 inch wide with a pastry wheel cutter and lightly dredge in flour, then roll the strips up by the short side, to form cylinders. Sprinkle with flour, so they do not stick, then cut with a knife rings about 0.1 inch thick. Unroll them immediately, sprinkle with flour and let them rest for 30 minutes. Homemade tagliolini cook really fast: about 1 minute from the time the broth starts to boil.
A word of advice:
if you want the broth to be as light and thin as possible, prepare it several hours before and let it cool in the refrigerator, so you can remove the layer of fat that will have formed on the surface.
CATEGORY Real Recipes | April 2013 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Paolo Bertazzoni
Mostarda is a preserve made with candied fruit, flavoured with mustard essential oil. It is usually served with meat or cheese, to enhance their flavour. The term mostarda, from the Latin mustum ardens (literally burning must), anticipates its typically spicy flavour. In ancient times, it was made with grape must and ground mustard seeds, hence the name. We know for certain that mostarda was prepared and served at the court of the Gonzaga family, who ruled Mantua, as early as the fourteenth century. It is still consumed during the traditional Sunday lunch in the northern regions of Italy, mainly in autumn and winter and during the Christmas season. Many are its local varieties. With its small slices of fruit, the delicious Mantuan mostarda, differs, in fact, both from Cremonese mostarda - made with whole fruit – and from mostarda vicentina - made with finely minced pieces of fruit. Nowadays mostarda is available in many different flavours made from any type of fruit and also vegetables, but the best-known and most popular one is quince mostarda. Here's the recipe!
12 drops of mustard essential oil (at a chemist’s or at a herbalist’s)
1.1 lbs. of sugar
2.2 lbs. of unripe quinces
Peel and cut the quinces into thin slices and put them into a bowl. Pour the sugar and the lemon juice, stir and let them stand for 24 hours. After that, collect the liquid that will have formed, pour it into a pan and cook over low heat for about twenty minutes, so that it curdles. Pour it over the quinces, while it is still hot. Repeat the operation: let the quinces stand for 24 hours, separate the liquid, cook it for about twenty minutes and pour over the quinces. Let them rest for another 24 hours and cook the apples and the liquid together for about 5 minutes. Once the quinces will have cooled down, add 12-14 drops of mustard essential oil. The number of drops depends on how spicy you want your mostarda. Mix gently, pour into sterilized glass jars and let your quince mostarda rest in a dark, dry place for at least a month.
A tip... and a recommendation ...
If you are unable to find quinces, you can replace them with any variety of pippin apples.
Please beware: mustard essential oil irritates the eyes and respiratory system. Use it with caution!
CATEGORY Real Recipes | February 2013 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Valentina Bertazzoni
Despite its name, it is not clear whether this delicious dish originally comes from Parma, or whether it comes from Southern Italy, as both Sicily and Campania lay claim to its creation. Its name is therefore possibly due to its origin in Parma, or to the abundance of Parmesan cheese in its recipe, or even to the fact that eggplants are called petronciani in Campania. According to others, the term comes from parmiciana, as are called, in Sicily, the strips of wood that make up a shutter, reminding us of the way eggplant slices are laid over the bottom of the baking dish in this recipe. Whatever its origin, the eggplant Parmesan recipe is one of the most famous and popular of the Italian cuisine worldwide.
Ingredients (serves 4 people)
3-4 round eggplants
17.5 oz of tomatoes
2 large mozzarella cheese
grated Parmesan cheese
To begin with, prepare the sauce with fresh or peeled tomatoes: put them in a pan and let them simmer for about twenty minutes with a little olive oil, salt and a pinch of sugar. When the sauce is ready, add some basil leaves to it. Now prepare the eggplants: cut them into slices about 0.2 inches thick. If you use round eggplants, you can start cooking them right away, but if you use the more common, elongated egg-shaped type, you have to let them drain, covered with cooking salt, for about an hour before frying them. Now dip the eggplant in hot oil and let them brown. Pat them dry with paper towel and season them with salt. Pour a few tablespoons of tomato sauce onto a baking dish. Cover the bottom of the dish with a layer of eggplant slices, then add the grated Parmesan cheese, slices of mozzarella and tomato sauce. Form at least three layers. The top layer should be covered with tomato sauce and grated Parmesan cheese only, to make your Parmigiana crunchier. Bake at a 360 ° F temperature for half an hour, then turn on the the grill for another ten minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes. Garnish with basil leaves before serving. It will be a big hit!
CATEGORY Real Recipes | February 2013 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Valentina Bertazzoni
Chiacchiere or frappe can boast a long history, dating back to frictilia, sweet fritters typical of the Carnival period in Roman times. Known throughout Italy, where they are called by different names, they are made with very simple ingredients.
The word chiacchiere means chit-chats, as the noise the sweets make when you eat them recalls that of chit-chatting.
Chiacchiere have for me the taste of my childhood, when I prepared them with my Granny, Jolanda, in her kitchen full of light. I was in charge of the dough, under her supervision and she plunged them into hot oil, lest I should get burnt. She used to serve chiacchiere with fresh whipped cream, strictly homemade. Ingredients ( serves 6 people )
7 oz of flour
1.7 oz of sugar
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 whole egg + 1 yolk
½ glass of white wine
a pinch of salt
Pour the flour onto a board, leaving a well in the center. Place the eggs, the sugar, two tablespoons of olive oil, half a glass of wine and a pinch salt all together inside the well. Knead the ingredients until they are well blended, then let the dough stand, covered, for half an hour. Roll out the dough with a rolling-pin until you have obtained a thin pastry. Cut the dough with a pastry wheel into strips four inches long and 1 inch wide, or into lozenges of the same length and 2.5 inch wide, which you will divide into three strips, having made sure not to cut the edges. Pour plenty of oil into a frying pan and, when it fries, dip the chiacchiere in the oil and brown them. Once browned, drain them and pat them dry with paper towels before sprinkling them with icing sugar.
Out of curiosity… Chiacchiere are known by the following names in the different Italian regions: bugie (lies) in Liguria, cenci (rags) and donzelle (damsels) in Tuscany, frappe (fringes) in Latium, Umbria and the Marches, crostoli (crusts) in Veneto, Trentino and Friuli Venezia Giulia, galani (lace trimming), gale (bows) and bugie in Piedmont, Valle d'Aosta and Venice, rosoni (rosettes) in Romagna , cioffe (locks) in the Abruzzi, lattughe (lettuce) in Mantua, maraviglias (wonders) in Sardinia, chiacchiere (chit-chats), finally, in Lombardy, Emilia, Sicily, Basilicata, Molise, Apulia, Calabria and Campania.
CATEGORY Real Recipes | December 2012 | PERMALINK POSTED BY ELISABETTA BERTAZZONI
A traditional dessert of the town of Mantua, Torta delle Rose (Rose Cake) was allegedly created for the wedding of Isabella d'Este, daughter to the Duke of Ferrara, and Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, on February 12th, 1490. The rosebuds, made of puff pastry, were meant to be a tribute to the blossoming beauty of Isabella, who was sixteen at the time. Thanks to her intellectual and political skills, Isabella was soon going to become an enlightened patroness of the arts and a protagonist of the Italian Renaissance.
Take time to try the ancient recipe of this delicious Rose Cake: you will see that this cake hasn’t lost a bit of its unique flavour since it was first created, over 500 years ago!
17.5 oz of flour
3.5 oz of sugar
3 oz of butter
0.9 oz of fresh yeast
2 whole eggs
1/2 cup of warm milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon of salt
3.5 oz of butter
3.5 oz of sugar
5 oz of raisins
Pour the flour onto a wooden board, leaving a well in the center. Add the eggs and the salt. Melt the butter, making sure that it doesn’t boil. Grate the zest of a lemon. Dissolve the yeast in half a cup of warm milk and stir in the sugar and the vanilla extract. Pour all the ingredients into the flour and knead the dough for about 15 minutes. Let it stand in a bowl until it has doubled in volume. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: work the butter with the sugar until the mixture is smooth, then sprinkle it with raisins. Once the initial leavening has been completed, flour the board again and roll the dough out with a rolling-pin until you form a smooth rectangle, about 0.16-inch thick. Spread the filling over the dough, then roll it up, starting from the longer side and divide it into ten 2-inch thick slices. Lay them upright in a cake pan, lined with baking paper. Seal the slices on the bottom with dough, so that the filling does not ooze out. Wait for the "rosebuds"to stick together: this means that they have completed their leavening. Brush them with milk and bake them in a Bertazzoni oven for about 30 minutes at a 392 °F temperature. Sprinkle with icing sugar, before serving.
CATEGORY Real Recipes | November 2012 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Paolo Bertazzoni
In order to cook an excellent braised beef, it is first necessary to select the right type of meat. The ideal cut comes from the forequarter of a steer, known as brisket in the US and thick rib in the UK. Typical dish of the Piedmontese cuisine, braised beef in barolo wine requires a very long preparation, but it is not particularly difficult to make. Braised beef in Barolo wine is usually served with polenta, once a staple food of the cuisine in northern Italy and still prepared in many homes almost daily.
Ingredients (for 6 servings)
2.2 lbs. of brisket or thick rib
a handful of black peppercorns
1 bottle of barolo wine
17.5 oz of corn meal
HOW TO PREPARE THE BEEF
Marinate the beef with barolo wine, chopped carrots, onions, celery, rosemary, sage, salt and pepper for about 12 hours, then drain the meat and roast it in a little oil and butter, until it has browned on all sides. Add salt and pour the wine. Add on the vegetables and the herbs of the marinade. Put a lid on the saucepan and let it simmer on a burner for about 4 hours. Once the cooking is completed, mix the sauce, which will have significantly reduced, in a blender and put the saucepan on the burner again, to let the sauce thicken. To finish with, slice the roast and pour the sauce over it. Serve with polenta.
HOW TO MAKE POLENTA
Pour 8.5 cups of water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Add in salt and slowly pour the corn meal into the water, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent the corn meal from clogging up. Cook for about 45 minutes, stirring constantly. Once the cooking is finished, turn off the flame and add on a little butter and some grated Parmesan cheese.
Out of curiosity… There are two main types of polenta: the "yellow" one, made from corn meal and the "white one"
CATEGORY Real Recipes | March 2013 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Paolo Bertazzoni
I tasted the delicious fregole with clams for the first time in Bosa, a seaside town on the west coast of Sardinia, south of Alghero, on the estuary of the river Terno, that make up its harbour.
A less internationally popular tourist destination than the Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast), this stretch of shoreline is wild, rocky and very loved by snorkeling fans for the richness of its depths and the beautiful colours of its waters. My wife and I particularly liked this area, so that we went back for the second time. The seaboard here is steep, and, as is often the case, the old town is not on the seafront, but further inland. Along the river banks, in front of the old town, there is a series of unique buildings, old tanneries that are being restored. We ate fregole with clams under these palm trees, outdoors, facing a beautiful view.
Ingredients (serves 4 people)
9 oz of durum wheat flour 2.2 lbs of clams 2-3 cloves of garlic olive oil chopped up parsley 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce ½ cup of dry white wine 1 chilli 4.5 cups of vegetable broth
The singularity of this dish lies in the type of pasta. Fregole, in fact, are made from fresh pasta, obtained from durum wheat flour. They are handmade: you have to rub your hands to make them, hence the name (from the verb to rub: sfregare). Obviously, it is possible to buy dry ready-made fregole, even if it is not easy to find them outside of Sardinia.
To begin with, spread out the durum wheat flour in a large bowl and slowly pour a glass of lukewarm salted water over it. Knead the dough with your fingers, until you have obtained balls about 0.20 inches in diameter. Lay them out to dry on a towel for about 12 hours. Once dry, they must be further dried in the oven for a short time, so arrange them on baking paper, turn the oven on, heat it to 300 °F and bake your fregole for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, soak the clams in cold salted water and leave them to clean for about 3 hours, changing the water frequently. Take a frying pan and brown 2-3 cloves of garlic and chilli in olive oil, then add in the clams and sprinkle them with wine. Stir and cover the pan with a lid. Cook over fairly high flame for a few minutes until the clams open. Put your fregole in a separate pan and brown them in a little oil and garlic. Then add the tomato sauce and a pinch of salt. When the sauce has congealed a little, pour hot vegetable broth into the pan, little by litte, one spoonful at a time and keep cooking for about 15 minutes, until the fregole have slightly swollen. Now pour them into the pan containing the clams and pan-fry them for a few minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.
CATEGORY Real Recipes | March 2012 | PERMALINK POSTED BY ELISABETTA BERTAZZONI
Typical Italian dish, chick pea soup has been poor people’s food for centuries all over the country. It is considered a full meal, as it is nourishing, full of proteins and poor in calories. It is still very popular in southern Italy and Liguria, where chickpea-growing is more abundant.
Presumably originally hailing from Turkey, chickpeas spread quickly throughout the Mediterranean area, where they have been grown for thousand years.
The Roman statesman, philosopher and writer Marcus Tullius Cicero owed his name to… a chickpea (cicer in Latin), inherited from an ancestor who had a small lump on his nose in the shape of a chickpea ...
Chickpeas are now among the most widely farmed legumes in the world, so try this simple and tasty recipe of a typically Italian chickpea soup!
Ingredients (serves 4 people)
9 oz of chickpeas
1 carrot 1 white onion
1 stalk of celery
2 tablespoons of olive
1 tablespoon of tomato sauce
4-5 sage leaves
1 clove of garlic
8 slices of toasted bread salt
Soak the chickpeas for 24 hours. Chop up the celery, carrot and onion and fry them in a large pot for a few minutes with a little oil. Then add in the tomato sauce, the chickpeas, a clove of minced garlic, sage, rosemary, and salt. Keep stirring until everything is well mixed. When the chickpeas have taken on some flavour, pour water into the soup, cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer on low flame for about two hours on a Bertazzoni burner. Before serving, garnish with a sprig of rosemary, a trickle of olive oil and a sprinkling of pepper. Serve your chickpea soup with a couple of slices of toasted bread.
CATEGORY Real Recipes | December 2011 | PERMALINK POSTED BY ELISABETTA BERTAZZONI
At Christmas time in our part of the world there is a Sbrisolona on every table, bringing good luck to the entire family.
The odd name comes from the dialect of Mantova and means ‘sbriciolare’ ‘to crumble’, because of the very crumbly consistency of the cake.
This recipe originated around 1600 in the grand Gonzaga court of the Duchy of Mantova, and soon became popular throughout the more modest houses of the Po Valley.
It is said that walnuts, which are more typical of our area, were originally used instead of almonds. But walnuts were meant to be the ‘fruits of the witches’, while almonds have luckier significance, meaning ‘light’ and ‘rebirth’. Hence the change of ingredient!
250 gm (9 oz) white flour
150 gm (5,3 oz) cornflour
200 gm (7 oz) sugar
200 gm (7 oz) unsalted butter
200 gm (7oz) almonds
Keep aside a spoons or two of the sugar, to be sprinkled on the cake when it is cooked.
Keep aside a handful of whole almonds - 7 or 8 whole for the decoration and the others for the mixture.
Coarsely grind the rest of the almonds.
Put them a in bowl together with the white flour and cornflour, the sugar, the soft butter in pieces (take it out of the fridge 30 mins before), 2 egg yolks, the vanilla and grated lemon peel.
Mix it all quickly using your hands until the yolks and butter are well integrated. The mixture should be very airy and ‘sandy’. Taking care not to compress it, put the mixture by hand into a buttered spring form cake pan (25 cm diameter).
Decorate with whole almonds.
Bake in a Bertazzoni oven at 170°C for 35-40 minutes.
CATEGORY Real Recipes | August 2011 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Valentina Bertazzoni
Perfect in Summer as in Winter, this dish can be a lovely starter or a light main course if you serve it with 2 or 3 slices of Pane Toscano (unsalted Tuscan bread).
Ingredients for four servings
16 calamari midium size
18 oz (500gr) Pachino tomatoes
Extra -vergin olive oil
Clean and cut the calamari in rings or slices. Boil them in a slighted salted water on a low flame for 20 min. In the meantime clean the shrimps and add them to the boiling water 4 minutes before the end of cooking of the calamari. Drain it all and put in a plate with Pachino tomatoes cut in half and arugola. Dress with extra-vergin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon, a pinch of salt and some white pepper. Try to do the "scarpetta" at the end: sop up the bread in the dressing left on the dish... but only if you don't have guests.
CATEGORY Real Recipes | July 2011 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Valentina Bertazzoni
Summer, the season I love the most for fresh fruits: the variety, the abundance, the colors, the intense fragrances. If you ever get bored of fresh fruit try this recipe, one of my favourite summer desserts!
4 big yellow peaches
7 oz (200g) Amaretti crunchy cookies
3.5 oz (100g) sugar
1 egg yolk
½ glass of white wine
Turn on the oven to 340F (170C).
Wash the peaches, cut in half and stone them. Use a spoon to remove from each peach some pulp from the centre and cook it with the sugar for about 15 mins. Then mix it in a bowl together with the crunched Amaretti and the egg yolk (if you like you can add a drop of sweet liquor, such as the Sassolino).
Fill the peaches with the mixture and add on top of each one a knob of butter and some sugar.
Pour the wine in the tray, organize the peaches and cook in the oven for about 30 minutes.
You can serve them warm or even cold, they are also delicious the next day!
CATEGORY Real Recipes | May 2011 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Elisabetta Bertazzoni
This is an easy and very tasty recipe from my best friend Agata from Sanremo, using fresh herbs. Easy to make and enjoyable to eat!
2 bunches of fresh basil
2 cloves of garlic
a handful of pine-nuts
0.1lb (50g) grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
extra-virgin olive oil
Wash only the basil leaves and pat dry. Put them in a blender, add garlic, pine-nuts, about half a glass of extra-virgin olive oil, and blend it. You might need to use more olive oil as you blend the basil. Once the basil is in a rough texture sauce you add the grated Parmigiano Reggiano.To make pasta with PestoBoil in abundant salted water the peeled chopped potatoes together with the pasta (trenette or linguine) until cooked.
Drain the pasta and the vegetables together and season with pesto and enjoy it!TipIf you have time, instead of using the blender, you can pound the ingredients in a pestle mortar. The flavour will be even more intense
CATEGORY Real Recipes | April 2011 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Nicola Bertazzoni
Asparagus is one of the most loved vegetables the world over and in many countries it’s considered an aphrodisiac! With its “root” going back over 4000 years to the ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. Apparently the ancient Roman Emperors were so fond of asparagus that they sent merchants all the way to Egypt just to bring in the precious vegetable. I completely understand why.
The asparagus season starts in April, from then you have around 30 to 40 days to find the freshest asparagus and to prepare it in your favourite way. This is one of my favourite ways…Ingredients for four servings1lb (500g) fresh asparagus
11oz (320g) Arborio o Carnaroli rice
½ a leek
5 cups (1l) of vegetable broth
2 oz (50) of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
3 Table spoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 knobs of butter
Prepare the broth in a pot and keep it warm on a low flame.
Wash the asparagus and cut them into thin slices, except the white parts and the heads (add these to the broth last).
Use a large pan to brown the thinly sliced leek in the extra virgin olive oil and add the knob of butter.
Add the rest of the asparagus and half a glass of white wine. Then add the rice, wait for a few seconds until it’s golden brown and cook with the broth, adding it one ladle at a time.
Keep stiring until the rice is almost done, stop adding the broth and turn off the flame. Add the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, another knob of butter and a little pepper to taste.
Serve and decorate with the head of asparagus boiled in the broth and some fresh chives. Enjoy!TipWarm the plates in the oven before serving if you want the risotto to remain hot and smooth whilst eating.
CATEGORY Real Recipes | February 2011 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Valentina Bertazzoni
These flans served with caramelized scallions and Prosciutto Crudo di Parma are a great appetizer to start an authentic dinner as if you were in Parma. Close your eyes while tasting this enriched flavour and you will believe of being seated in a fancy restaurant in the main piazza. Can you see the warm light on the ancient buildings and hear Italian voices speaking and laughing?
Ingredients for four servings
4/5 cup (200ml) heavy cream
1/3 lb (150g) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
butter to grease the molds
8 small scallions
3 tablespoons cane sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
8 thin slices Prosciutto Crudo di Parma
Turn on the oven 350F (180C) and put in a cake tray half filled with cold water, so that when you are ready to cook the sformatini the water will already be hot.In the meantime, mix the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, cream, eggs and a pinch of salt and pepper in the mixer.Grease the cupcake molds with butter and fill them to ¾ of their capacity with the mixture.Put the sformatini in the oven in the boiling water and cook for about 30-40 mins (depending on the dimesion of your molds).Use a wooden toothpick to check if they are cooked: if the stick is dried after piercing they are done.While the sformatini is cooking, boil the pealed scallions in a pot of salted water for about 5 mins.In another small pan prepare the caramel with the sugar and the water. Add the baslamic vinegar and the boiled scallions and caramelize on a low flame for about 10 mins.Serve each hot sformatino with 2 caramelized scallions and 2 slices of Prosciutto Crudo.
CATEGORY Real Recipes | January 2011 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Paolo Bertazzoni
(by Giuseppe Furno, Italian writer and a dear Uncle) This dish has the colours, the scents and the complex layers of Sicily and the surrounding Mediterranean; intense red Pachino cherry tomatoes, golden onions, dried oregano and sea salt that smells like waves. What else? A ¼ inch beef steak the size of your hand; bread crumbs, home made if possible and extra virgin olive oil.
For the meat, 2 pieces for each person, maybe more if you like.
Turn on the oven to 340F, it should not be soaring heat.
Grease a tray with extra virgin olive oil and start:
a) Drag the steaks through the oil on both sides and bread them, then organise neatly in the tray.
b) Cut the cherry tomatoes into slices and cover the meat with them.
c) Sprinkle sea salt over the tomatoes (but not on the meat becuase it will dry it). The salt will help the tomatoes release the juices the meat will need to cook.
d) Chop up the onions and put a layer of them on top of the tomatoes.
e) Dust with oregano to taste.
f) Cook in the oven for about 40 to 50 minutes.Then if you like, once it’s out of the oven you can add a small quantity of capers, I would suggest the ones from Salina, Sicilian capers.Did I forget anything… oh, the name! I like to call it “Carne alla Siciliana”, but it’s simply the way my mother used to cook it. She was Sicilian from Palermo.
To me this dish has her voice, her smile… in summary a memory of her.
CATEGORY Real Recipes | December 2010 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Valentina Bertazzoni
Torta Cioccolatina literally means chocolate candy cake and comes from the sensation you have in eating it: it melts in your mouth like a chocolate candy! They are served as small cubes like in a chocolate box.It's almost impossible to stop eating this delicious morsels sitting around the table with your family, even after a rich Christmas lunch. If you make very small cubes you needn’t feel too guilty.
2.5 oz (70 g) flower
7 oz (200g) sugar
5.3 oz (150g) butter
7 oz (200g) dark chocolate
1 small bag vanillin (vanilla extract)
1 pinch of salt
Mix sugar and yolks in a big bowl until you have a smooth creme. Put a metal bowl (or a pot in case you do not have one) in the freezer for a while. Use this cold metal bowl to beat the eggs white till stiff with a pinch of salt. Blend the yellow cream and the whites together taking care to mix from up to down in circle. Melt the chocolate and the butter a bain-marie. Add to the main mixture and then the flower and the vanillin. Cook in your Bertazzoni oven at 285°F (140°C) for 30 mins, or 25 mins if you have a gas oven. The Torta Cioccolatina should remain moist inside, like a chocolate candy. Decorate with powdered sugar and serve cut in small cubes.
CATEGORY Real Recipes | November 2010 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Elisabetta Bertazzoni
Pumpkin risotto is all about colour. Cutting open a pumpkin is a voluptuous experience in itself, the rich, earthy orange tones of pumpkin always bring me back into a glorious summer sunset.
Ingredients for four servings
2 pounds (1kg ) pumpkin, or more (the more the better)
1 pound (450g) rice
Onion or scallion to taste
1 glass white wine
1 quart (1 litre) broth
5oz (150g) grated Parmesan
4 sage leaves in the Risotto, and some leaves for decoration
The very first step is baking 1 kg or more pumpkin cut in big sectors; leave everything, as it is, the skin and seeds. Set the oven without preheating at 220°C for 40 minutes. The orange colour will get even deeper or rather brown at the tips and the taste added by the oven bake is great. Prepare the risotto the usual way, first a light butter soffritto with half an onion or one scallion, finely chopped and simmered at moderate heat until golden. Toast the rice in the soffritto and add one glass of white wine. When the wine has evaporated add the flesh of he pumpkin that you had cut in little cubes of about one inch. Follow the preparation of risotto by adding hot broth little by little with a ladle and keep stirring with a wooden spoon until the grains are softer but still hard at the centre. It is time to put the gas off, add a little bit of broth to keep the risotto compound very, very soft, add one knob of butter and the grated parmesan. Taste and add a little salt if needed, and a pinch of sugar. Start stirring quickly so that the risotto incorporates some air: the result will be soft and creamy. Here in Italy we call it “all’onda” because if you move the pan quickly, the risotto will form a kind of a “wave”. Final touch: a few leaves of sage into the compound will add zest to the sweet flavour of the pumpkin. Serve and sprinkle with some more grated Parmesan. Pumpkin risotto tastes good and looks good, deep orange colours are incorporated in the pale white of rice grains, an amazing contrast with the light green of sage leaves.
CATEGORY Real Recipes | July 2010 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Paolo Bertazzoni
Pasta with sardines is a very tasty and healthy food. Sardines are rich in unsaturated fats, very good for cholesterol control.My choice is to use freshly made tagliolini as the round taste of this type of pasta enhances the delicate flavour of fish ragouts.
Ingredients for 4 people
2 garlic cloves
2 or more chilli peppers (according to taste)
5 tablespoons of olive oil
pine kernels or white almonds
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
half tablespoon of lemon rind
400g / 14oz tagliolini
salt and pepper
Cleaning sardines needs some patience and skill: just hold the sardine by the head, then remove the bone by squeezing the belly and moving finger and thumb towards the tail so that the head, the bone and the tail all come away together, neatly separated from the meat.Cut the fillets into sections of less than one inch each and put to one side.With a large frying pan at medium–high heat carefully toast the pine kernels or some finely chopped almonds in little oil, remove and put to one side also. In the same pan, flavour 4 tablespoons of olive oil with one or two crushed garlic cloves and one chilli pepper. Turn the garlic until it takes some colour and remove it before it gets brown.Lower the flame and add the sardines with some salt, cook gently for about 3 minutes, then add the pine kernels or the almonds, parsley, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and lemon rind and gently turn for another minute. Adding the lemon really gives a kick to the recipe as you may not like the “oily feeling” of this fat fish and the olive oil combined. The lemon rind on its side adds just a hint of sourness to balance the sweet base taste of the sardine meat.In the meantime you have boiled the tagliolini in a large pot for 4 minutes, with plenty of water and two teaspoons of salt.Add the tagliolini to the frying pan, turn gently for another minute or so, on a high heat, adding some olive oil and water from the pasta in order to get a more uniform blend of flavours and a consistent look.
CATEGORY Real Recipes | June 2010 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Valentina Bertazzoni
The Italian tradition believes that on the sunrise of St. Johns (24th June is San Giovanni) is the right time to harvest the drupes (nuts) used to prepare “il nocino”. It seemed like the dew from the night before, between June 23rd and June 24th, was a relief for all our pains and if we want to go deeper into our memories and traditions, the 30 nuts had to be collected under the moonlight and cut with a crystal knife.The time of harvesting is very important because the nuts are neither soft nor hard and can be cut in half or in quarters.
Place the nuts in a glass container covered with one kilo of pure alcohol at 90°, some cinnamon, some cloves and some lemon rind. The mixture must be kept in a dark room until autumn.When this period has passed add 21oz of sugar boiled in 13oz of water and leave at rest for 10 days. Then filter with a hempen-cloth, pour into very nice glass bottles and forget them in the cellar for some months, one year …or even more …the older it gets the better it is.TipUse protective gloves when you cut the nuts.
CATEGORY Real Recipes | March 2010 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Valentina Bertazzoni
The artichoke heart was very popular in Roman times. The Romans thought it was very good for the liver, and they were right!The best season for artichokes is from October to May: in this period growers will take around 20 crops.
Cut the stem of the artichokes, cut the upper part of the leaves, and with your finger spread the central leaves. If you like a flower effect, press each artichoke down against the counter.Place them in an upright position in a pan.Break and stir one egg into a bowl, add a pinch of salt to taste, add 50/60 grams of diced mozzarella, ground parsley, breadcrumbs and some parmesan cheese.Stir and add a spoonful of this mixture into the separation with a spoon as much as possible in front of each leaf.Spray olive oil on top and add some water to the pan.Cover the pan and simmer until very tender (30/40 minutes). If you like you can grill in the oven for a few minutes.
A secret way to check the freshness of your artichoke? Grab it with your thumb and press it: if it feels hard, freshness is guaranteed!
CATEGORY Real Recipes | February 2010 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Valentina Bertazzoni
In countries of Catholic traditions, Carnival comes before a period of compulsory fasting called Lent.Maybe, well actually I am quite sure, fasting is not compulsory anymore, but I think we still deserve to taste this “tempting” and somewhat surprising, baked sweet. Don’t feel guilty, it is Carnival time.
Tortellini Dolci are made with a short pastry wrapping, the filling usually made of plum jam. They can be deep-fried or, the way I prefer, baked in the oven. During Carnival time, and not only, Tortellini Dolci can be found nearly at every bakery in Emilia Romagna, but, you bet, I prefer by far the version we prepare at home. It is really different and has a few more ingredients that give an incomparable zest.How to prepare the right type of short pastry is probably not a secret to you, but still, follow my suggestions as the balance in cooking is everything, and yet we should add something unexpected in the filling. Ok, let’s not digress too much.IngredientsShort pastry1.1 pounds/500g flour
4.2 oz/120g butter
5.3 oz/150g sugar
SaltTake the butter out the fridge and while still hard, ground 4.2 oz (120g) in tiny pieces with a large knife, work it with fingers so to obtain a clotted “pulverized” compound, then create a fountain onto a wooden board, spray with icing sugar, top with a bigger fountain of 1.1 pounds (500g) of white flour, and in the center, break 2 eggs, add 1 yolk, 5.3 oz (150g) of sugar, a dot of baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Mix with a fork and knead quickly with your hands until you get relatively firm dough. You must be quick and if the dough is too hard and crumbles, you can add a little orange juice. Let it rest for half an hour.The fill1.1 pounds/500g dried chestnuts
½ orange peel
Sour black cherry jam (alternatively, sour plum jam)
Tangerine jam (alternatively, orange marmalade)
SugarDuring the night you had soaked 1.1 pounds (500g) of dried chestnuts, cover with new water and boil until soft with two tablespoons of sugar and the peel of half orange. Squash the chestnuts with a fork to make an uneven grainy compound. Add 2 tablespoon of sour black cherry jam, 2 table spoons of quince jam, 2 tablespoons of tangerine jam.Finally the tortelliniRoll out the dough with the rolling pin until 2 millimeters high, stencil with the tortellini little mould, the shape of a fan 2" long (5 cm), fill, sear and put in pre-heated oven at 350° F or 175° C for about 30 minutes. Let cool off and happily spray ice sugar.TipsA pinch of salt in the short pastry adds to the sweetness!
Using the hard cold butter makes a better short pastry, but you have to be quick.
The short pastry dough must rest ½ hour.
The flavors of short pastry, mashed chestnuts contain elements of basicity that are greatly balanced by the acidity of the two sour jams, while quince jam fills the gaps: a pleasant surprise.Over the generations of the Bertazzoni Family, the original recipe has never been modified in its fundamental ingredients, or, I suppose, just slightly improved to what today is one of my favorite carnival treats. The mix of grainy mashed chestnuts with the three types of jam fills the mouth with a cascade of flavors, after the first bite of golden, crunchy short pastry. The sour jams are a great contrast to the chestnuts, taste is freshened and no “greasy” feeling is left on the tongue. Hunting for, or producing the rather “eccentric” jams is really worth the effort, in my opinion.I said before, Tortellini al Forno are “one” of my favorite treats, I have in mind another sweetie that is at least on par, maybe just less complicated, but this will come to you later.
CATEGORY Real Recipes | December 2009 | PERMALINK POSTED BY Valentina Bertazzoni
Struffoli are an Italian speciality traditionally made around Christmas time. Every Italian family has their own preferred version. Ours is taken from the old Bertazzoni family cookbook that was begun over a century ago.
For about 40 Struffoli, Ingredients
250g (2 cups) flour
2g (½ teaspoon) salt
12g (1 tablespoon) butter, melted
5g (1 teaspoon) sugar
90g (½ cup) sugar
250ml (1 cup) honey
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
Coloured sprinkles (optional)Combine the flour and salt. Beat together the egg, butter and the 5g (1 teaspoon) of sugar. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture and work it well with the fingers to make a soft, pliable dough.Roll the dough into ropes on a lightly floured surface, and cut into small pieces. Then roll each piece into a chickpea-sized ball.Immediately fry the balls in a large, deep pan with about 5cm (2 inches) of oil heat preheated to 190º C (375º F). Fry in small batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. After about a minute or so they will rise to the surface golden brown. Make sure the oil returns to the right temperature between batches.Drain the cooked balls on paper towels and allow to cool. In a saucepan mix the honey and the 90g (½ cup) of sugar over low heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved into the honey. Sugar in the honey is the Bertazzoni touch; it makes the Struffoli crisper. Remove from the heat and add the drained Struffoli in batches to coat in the sweet mixture. Transfer to a platter and arrange in a ring or any other pattern you want. In some parts of Italy it is traditional to top with coloured sprinkles.Struffoli are eaten at room temperature and can be kept for two or three days.