La pasta matta (crazy dough for savoury tarts and pies)

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

Strucolo de spinaze in tavaiol ovvero strudel di spinaci e patate come lo fanno a Trieste (Potato and spinach strudel from Trieste, boiled and baked)

A  savory strudel from Trieste,  almost an Italian hot savory pudding.
A potato gnocchi-dough roll filled with spinach and ricotta,  boiled, sliced, showered with Parmigiano and baked. Comfort  food. It looks impressive but it is not that difficult to make. It is a dish firmly rooted in the Italian home cooking repertoire and something one is unlikely to find in restaurants.
Traditionally, it would be served with sugo d’arrosto (i.e. the juices left after roasting a piece of meat), with ragù and, my favorite, with butter and Parmigiano; I have also served it with a tomato sauce and some melting cheese – rather untraditional but delicious.   Continue reading

Gnocchi di carote (Carrot gnocchi)

IMG_1178.jpgIMG_2449.jpgI am not a great fan of potato gnocchi – I love to make them but I always find them dull to eat. I much prefer spinach gnocchi, ricotta gnocchi, bread gnocchi (called canederli) …and these delightful little carrot gnocchiwhich I discovered few years ago in Marcella Hazan’s Marcella Says. Her recipe makes for wonderfully cheesy, bright orange morsels and it is a winner. Over time, however, I have strayed from it, Continue reading

Brodo, cavolo, orzo, castagne (Beef broth, barley, cabbage and chestnut soup)

Beef broth with cabbage, barley and chestnuts soup
Beef broth with cabbage, barley and chestnuts soup

Ideal cold weather fare. I had some excellent beef broth in the fridge (made with a beef tongue, some brisket and some chicken + usual aromatics: celery, carrot, onion in which I had stuck a clove, parsley, bay leaf) and other bits and bobs: finely shredded,steamed cabbage, some boiled pearl barley and some boiled and peeled chestnuts. To make a minestra was the obvious choice.
I reheated everything together + a generous handful of parmesan a tavola.