Pollo o coniglio ai peperoni (chicken or rabbit with peppers, Piedmontese cooking)

Chicken with peppers

One of the great dishes of Piedmont: a braised chicken (but it could be rabbit too, a very popular meat in Piedmontese cooking) with peppers and lots of herbs.  This is classic home cooking done entirely on top of the stove and it follows a usual pattern: the chicken is browned, then wine and aromatics are added, when the chicken is half way done, some mixed peppers go into the pot. By the end, the pan juices are not copious but the few tablespoons left are deliciou and the meat has been infused with the flavor from the herbs, the wine and the peppers. Continue reading

Bônet astigiano (Chocolate, amaretti and savoiardi baked caramel custard from the town of Asti, in Piedmont)

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Another splendid recipe from Piemonte: Bônet, which is pronounced

 If you do not trust my Piedmontese accent (and you might be right, actually) check this more authentic https://italianhomecookingdotcodotuk.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/bonet1.m4a voice.
It is a caramel-topped baked custard, generally made with crushed amaretti biscuits (one of the glories of Piedmontese baking), lots of eggs and milk, with or without cocoa/chocolate and/ with or without coffee. It is sumptuous and voluptuous. Continue reading

Sformato autunnale di tre verdure (layered autumn three vegetable terrine from Piemonte)

Time to change gear: autumn is here and I want to explore more of the wonderful northern Italian repertoire, which I think lends itself better to this time of the year.

This vegetable terrine hails from Piemonte, or, to be precise, from this tremendous book about Piedmeontese cooking: if you read Italian, do get it. This is not your typical recipe driven cookery book but one where the emphasis is on food as culture.
it is a layered affair of cooked chopped vegetables, with each vegetable layer enriched with eggs and béchamel sauce: an excellent example of that Italian bourgeois , Sunday lunch cooking, now almost disappeared. Continue reading

Sfincione di Bagheria (sfincione from Bagheria, a Sicilian pizza)

Sfincione is the pizza of Sicily: contrary to its Neapolitan counterpart, which is generally round, sold in individual portions, with a thick cornicione, a thin centre and not too much topping, sfincione is generally baked in large trays and sold cut up in hefty portions (even if there are also small, individual  sfincioni, called sfincionelli, approximately 300 g each); it is quite thick all over, with a soft and pillowy dough (sometimes a little lard is added to the dough, which I greatly approve of) and it is laden with toppings. It is another thing altogether and something I urge you to explore – sfincione lends itself to domestic home baking much better than Neapolitan pizza. Continue reading

Pasta cù l’agghia (al pesto trapanese) (Pasta with garlic, almond and tomato pesto from Trapani, Sicily)

“Pesto alla trapanese” is a vibrant, intensely garlicky Sicilian pasta sauce made with almonds, tomatoes, garlic and basil – it is lesser know that its Ligurian basil and pine-nuts cousin, but equally glorious. It comes from Trapani, on the west coast of the island ,and it is generally eaten with busiate, a spiral-shaped, chewy, durum-wheat, egg-less fresh pasta (here, if you want to learn how to make it). Pasta con il pesto alla trapanese is also known as pasta cù l’agghia, pasta with garlic (in dialect): if you are after a delicate sauce, this is not for you. Continue reading