Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cannelloni - Traditional Northern Dish

Stumble Upon Toolbar
Cannelloni - Traditional Veal and Lean Beef
60 gm butter
150 gm ground veal, lean
150 gm ground beef, highest quality, lean
1 onion
150 gm Parmigiano Reggiano grated
Béchamel, or white sauce – 1 liter
(makes about 10-12)
Melt the butter and add a drop of extra v. olive oil. Sauté onion for 5 minutes then add the meat and continue cooking. When  the onion is cooked, take off the heat. Add half of the white sauce (see recipe below) that you made before cooking the meat, fresh ground pepper and the grated cheese. Set aside while preparing the lasagna strips.  

Bèchamel or white sauce: makes one liter
100 gm flour
100 gm butter
1 liter whole milk or low fat do not use skim milk
Melt the butter and add the flour. Cook for 1 minute on medium heat (it should bubble). Pre warm the milk. Take the roux off the heat and slowly add the milk in a small stream while whisking it into the roux. Once all the milk has been added and you are sure you do not have any lumps, return to heat and gradually bring to a boil. If it is too thick add a little more milk even cold. When ready, season with fresh ground pepper and nutmeg.  The white sauce should not be piping hot when preparing the cannelloni. The portion added to the meat can be hot however.
Modenese Cannelloni (a slight variation, very delicate in flavor)
200 gm ground beef, lean, high quality
2-3 cloves garlic
one branch of rosemary
50 gm butter
50 gm grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Sauté ground meat with the chopped garlic and the whole branch of rosemary in the butter. Cook for 15 minutes and take off heat to cool. When almost cool, add the grated Parmigiano and stir. Set aside while preparing the Béchamel.
Add ½ liter béchamel and stir into the meat mixture set aside.
To prepare the pasta, either make it or if possible, buy fresh lasagna strips. If not, you will have to use a pastry bag to fill cannelloni shells (not as good as fresh pasta that is for sure and take forever to fill).
Grease a baking pan with olive oil. Drizzle some white sauce on the bottom. If using fresh pasta strips, make rectangles about 8 in x 6in. Fill with a spoon of meat mix and roll. Place in the pan. Fill all the strips or rolls. When done you should have white sauce to drizzle over the tops of the cannelloni then toss a couple of handfuls of grated Parmigiano. Bake in a hot oven for 20 min. 375F until bubbly and browned. Serve immediately with a green salad. These are rich so you do not need anything else but salad and or veggies.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bomboloni - Doughnuts Italian style

This recipe is great, in fact there is a video of it on Youtube but, in Italian I do not know how many times I tried making these in the past but they never turned out. Now, older and bit smarter, I found this and tired it. It worked and is an easy way to do these, time consuming but they were perfect. This recipe is without egg and I find it better.

500gm flour
50 gm sugar
250 ml milk
10 g salt
100g butter, clarified, softened!
lemon zest from one lemon
one cube 25gm of fresh yeast

Dissolve the sugar in the milk and then divide into equal portions placing 125ml in a bowl. In the other half of the milk, add the salt and stir to dissolve and set aside.
Dissolve the yeast in the bowl of sugared milk. Then add 100 gm of flour from the 500 gms measured. Mix and cover with plastic. This will be a wet mixture and needs to double in volume.
Once this is ready, add this to the rest of the bowl of flour along with the lemon zest and the rest of the milk with dissolved salt. Mix until absorbed.
Add the soft butter and work the dough for 10 minutes on a pastry board. Place in a large bowl and cover for 2 hours with plastic. If you are in a drafty kitchen you can pre-warm the oven on low, turn it off and place the bowl inside after the oven has cooled for at least 30 minutes.
Roll dough to about 2 cm thickness and cut 8 cm rounds. Use a sharp round cookie cutter, not a glass because the dough rounds need to be cut not pressed together at the edges when using a glass, which is what tends to occur instead of cutting the round.
Place the rounds on a floured clean pastry towel and let rise about 30 min.

While these are rising, prepare the pan for frying. Optimal frying is not with oil but with lard because you can cook at a higher temperature and the products are not greasy once you pull them from the oil.
These may then be filled with jam or pastry cream or just rolled in finely granulated sugar or powdered sugar.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Baked Orecchiette Pugliese

Stumble Upon Toolbar

This is truly THE BEST baked pasta dish on the planet and it is authentic, a pure Italian dish, ancient recipe from Puglia. There are so many created baked pasta dishes but few are really what I would call Italian. This is one of the few and it is fabulous particularly if you are lucky enough to use fresh Perini or San Marzano plum tomatoes from your garden or, from Puglia and buffalo mozzarella. 
The only way to make this is by using the real ingredients and that means, real Parmigiano Reggiano or Padano and not aged over 18 months. If the cheese is older than 24 months, it will be override the delicate flavors of the tomatoes and mozzarella.

This can be made ahead by putting it together and refrigerating. This dish is great as leftovers and eaten cold too but it truly is a one course meal when hot just add a salad and a great red wine. Buon appetito!

Preheat oven 400F
Put water on to boil and salt it well
Sea salt, fresh ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely sliced
1 or 2 dried red chilies, crumbled
3 ½ lb ripe tomatoes or 3 14oz cans Perini or San Marzano peeled tomatoes
large handful of fresh basil leaves
1 tbl red wine vinegar (or less, depends on the tomatoes)
14oz dried orecchiette (see photos)
big handfuls of freshly grated Parmigiano
3 (5oz) balls of mozzarella di buffala (buffalo mozzarella or fresh-made soft mozzarella, the balls stored in water) This type of mozzarella, which is the only type that can be called mozzarella otherwise it has to be labeled "fior di latte," gives the dish a creamy and delicate flavor. Do not use Precious Mozzarella – this is not the real thing and makes a rubbery disgusting dish. Mozzarella is a low fat cheese by nature so looking for a part skim or all skim milk cheese is like an oxymoron in my book.

Heat a couple of lugs or two spoons of olive oil. Add onion, garlic and chili and slowly fry for about 10 minutes on med to low heat until softened but without any color.
If using fresh tomatoes, remove the core with the tip of a small knife, plunge them into the boiling water for about 40 seconds until the skin starts to come away, then remove with slotted spoon and remove the pan from the heat.
Put tomatoes in a bowl and run cold water over them. Slide the skins off, squeeze out the seeds, and roughly chop.
Add the fresh or canned tomatoes to the onion and garlic and a small glass of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for around 20 minutes. Put them through a food processor or blender to make a loose sauce (or hand blender). Tear the basil leaves into the sauce and correct the seasoning with salt, pepper and a tiny swig of red wine vinegar.
When the sauce tastes perfect, bring the water back to the boil. Add the orecchiette to the water and cook to very al dente, even under done since this pasta will cook again in the oven.
Drain and toss with half of the tomato sauce and a handful of Parmigiano Padano or Reggiano. Rub baking pan with a little olive oil. Layer a little pasta in the pan followed by tomato sauce, a handful of grated Parmigiano and 1 sliced up mozzarella ball. Then, repeat these layers until all ingredients have been used. end with a layer of mozzarella on top. If you need more, use it.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden crisp and bubbling.