This year’s pastiera (ricotta and wheat Easter pie). For a change, I made a lard and butter pasta frolla (italian sweet pastry): super crumbly and a nightmare to work with, but it tastes delicious (humbly, he said). Very happy to have found the original fialetta, the extra-tiny glass bottles full of excellent and powerful orange blossom water, from Naples, which gives this splendid cake its haunting perfume. The recipe is the traditional one, from Carola Francesconi. Happy Easter everyone.
Italians have a soft spot for torte salate (savoury tarts/pies), particularly now a primavera, at spring time. Torte salate are not extravagant with cream and eggs in the way French quiches are, they tend to be simpler, lighter, casual dishes that lend themselves to endless improvisations and impromptu suppers: some cooked vegetables, a little ricotta and/or a couple of eggs, a generous fistful of parmigiano or pecorino to jazz things up, all enclosed in a thin, crisp, lean pastry, called pasta matta, which literally means “crazy dough”, probably on account of the very little fat that is used to make.
Pasta matta is the poor relative of richer brisè and puff pastry, but I find it more useful in every-day cooking and often better in fact Continue reading
A typical example of cucina degli avanzi, leftovers cooking. I had some leftover mussels from the night before (cozze alla marinara, mussels cooked in a tomato, parsley and garlic broth) and, on the spur of the moment, I decided to transform them into a rice and mussels dish, for supper. Continue reading
“La genovese” literally means “The woman/girl from Genoa”. It is in fact a meat dish from Naples and it has nothing to do with Genova, the capital of Liguria, in North-West Italy. Rather confusing, I agree.
A solid piece of beef is braised for hours in a huge quantity of onions – this is la genovese in a nutshell. When you taste, smell and savor it, you realize that there is more, much more going on here. Continue reading
Finally! The daffodils in the park, the camelia & the magnolia down in the garden, the birds cheerfully chirping away in the morning.. spring!! … AND I found barba di frate (also called agretti) at one of my local semi-posh greengrocers (Newington Green Grocers-reccomended).
Barba di frate a.k.a. friar’s beard or agretti, is a green, slender vegetable, that looks like over-grown chives and tastes a bit like spinach and sorrel, but with a more metallic, mineral undertone. It is slightly bitter and also acidula ( a tiny bis sour, but on the pleasant side of sourness).
It has a very short season between March and April – it is one the real harbingers of spring, alongside forced rhubarb and nespole . Continue reading