Biancomangiare siciliano (Sicilian almond milk pudding)

On a scorching Italian summer day, few refreshments are more welcome than a small glass of cold and luscious home made latte di mandorla, almond milk. If you have some of this Mediterranean nectar in your fridge, you are then only few steps away from one of the glories of pasticceria siciliana (Sicilian patisserie), biancomangiare, a snow white, tremulous pudding made with sweet almond milk and cornstarch, delicately perfumed with cinnamon and lemon peel, served with lemon leaves and with a few scattered jasmine flowers. It may not look much but it tastes heavenly. Continue reading

Miascia (Bread, grape and rosemary cake from Lake Como)

Miascia (mee-AH-sha) is a bread cake typically found in the lovely villages dotting Lake Como. It is an impromptu cake, made with cheap ingredients: stale bread, milk, some fruit, fresh or dried, polenta flour, sugar, a little chopped rosemary to give an elusive perfume. Nothing fancy and yet the final result is truly delicious. The bread is soaked in milk and then fruit is added, with very little flour to bind. This creates a lovely custardy texture that contrasts well with the crunchy topping. Continue reading

Ris e latt (Rice and Milk soup)

IMG_1118Ris e latt is Milanese dialect for the Italian riso e latte, rice and milk. It sounds dull – it is not.  It is a warming, un-showy but far from boring minestra (soup) from Lombardy: risotto rice simmered in a copious quantity of full fat milk and water,  mildly flavored with a little onion and bay leaf, enriched in the end by a generous amount of butter and Parmesan, a touch of freshly grated nutmeg and a shower of chopped parsley.  There are many versions of this dish: I prefer it soupy but it is also possible to make it thicker, although it should not be risotto-like. Some people cook the rice with milk only (too rich for me) and others start with cooking some chopped onion in butter and then add all the other ingredients. I have also seen versions with chestnuts (cooked, vacuum-packed chestnuts now easily available) and even with potatoes added to the liquid at the very beginning.

Continue reading