If you have any lemons left after making Limoncello, you may as well make some delicious PASTA AL LIMONE
When my friend joined me for an afternoon of cheese making Mrs BYF had collected all the leftover ricotta (1/2 cup) and about 1 cup of mascarpone (which had turned out a bit sour) I had made a few days ago and made a great pasta sauce. She melted the cheeses and a tablespoon of butter over a very slow heat while the pasta was cooking, added some lemon rind and a few squeezes of lemon juice, bit of salt and pepper and a pinch of chilli flakes. After adding a few spoonfuls of pasta water she added the drained pasta to the pan and served it with a generous dusting of parmigiano cheese. It was delicious and my friend wanted the recipe. As with a lot of her best dishes her passion for using the ingredients at hand it can never be repeated!
The secret is home made cheese. The ricotta we can buy here is not edible, whereas one can buy reasonable mascarpone made by Tatua. Having lovely organic lemons from a neighbour’s mum’s tree in Wellington is also an inspiration to make this simple but elegant dish.
It will be hard to find a better light dinner than quail eggs topped with truffles and home cured salmon on the side. All washed down with good hand crafted Home Made Wine (organic and preservative free)
This makes me think of the old story about the priest whose flock had a higher than average alcohol consumption habit – a problem he could not resolve. He however thought to give it another go during his next sermon and as a demonstration at the beginning had two glasses, one filled with water, the other with wine and he dropped a couple of worms in each. At the end of the sermon he pointed out to the congregation that the worms in the water was still wriggling whereas those in the wine were dead. Hopefully, he asked the attendees what conclusion could they come to from this and soon an old gentleman in the front row rose to a stand and said ” Yesh, to get rid of worms in ones intestines one should avoid water and drink a lot of wine”
Yesterday was cheese making day and I discovered that I had no home made distilled water to re generate the frozen starter cultures. Instead I used tap water, with disastrous results. The milk would not even begin to form curds. After a lot of soul searching, I concluded that DCC must have put such a lot of chlorine and whatever other chemicals in the water (after the water contamination scare of last week) that their water obviously killed any bacteria, enzyme and other living matter in my cultures and in the milk. I took half a day and made some distilled water and tried to make cheese again, but now using CLEAN water – eureka! Perfect cheeses made for the cheese safe!
Needless to say, as always, I am not surprised at the poor state of health of the general population. Agricultural pollution, faulty pipes, and bad government all contribute to polluted drinking water. I can only imagine what the chemically laden dirty water does to our gut fauna and flora and subsequent health.
ONLY drink council water if you want to get rid of worms – I have already ordered my rainwater tank.
I invited a few friends over and had to decide on a Primi Piatti as I had all the other courses sorted. After a walk in the garden and an inspection of the fridge, I decided on Capelletti Romagnoli di Magro. Cappelletti means little hats.
This is little hat shaped filled pasta. On holy days conservative Catholic households would normally not eat meat and this meatless pasta is a favorite in many households on such occasions. This is generally what is meant by magro (direct translation means thin or lean) and in this instance it refers to be without meat.
Standard pasta dough is made using only flour and eggs – nothing else. The dough is rolled out and cut into 60 mm squares and filled with the filling, then boiled in brodo (stock) and served with sage butter poured over it and dressed with lots of grated parmigiano.
Blanch 500 g fresh spinach and cut very fine. Mix the spinach with 150 g ricotta cheese and 100 g of mozzarella cheese. Also ad a pinch of nutmeg and salt. Set aside until needed.
Plain white flour mixed with enough beaten egg to make a pliable soft dough. Roll out very thin and cut into 60 mm squares.
Place one teaspoon of the filling on the centre of each square and fold over to form a triangle sealing the edges with some egg. Wrap each trianlgle around your index finger and join two of the corners together with some more egg. Fold the third corner over to form the hat.
Bring some strong brodo (stock) to the boil and dump the cappelletti into the broth. When they float, leave for another 1 minute and remove with a slotted spoon. Serve immediately while still hot (in pre heated bowls) and pour over some melted sage butter (not burned) and black pepper and dress with parmigiano. Keep the brodo and tomorrow re heat it and ad a handful of risoni to make a wonderful lunch.
ENJOY and do not forget the home made red wine!!
I have been honoured by my good friends, Peter and Mary, with a hessian bag full of just dug up organic potatoes. As my wife is away in another country for some months, I have had nightmares as to how I am going to eat through this mountain (as wel as all the other reserves in the pantry) all on my own. My decision was to attack from the beginning and start cooking and eating them immediately. My first endeavour is gnocchi di patate.
In making good gnocchi there are two golden rules to follow : 1 – Never be aggressive in handling the product. 2 – Never use eggs in the recipe as many experts propagate. The reason for this is that both transgressions cause the end product to be gooey, solid and rubbery.
Place 1 Kg unpeeled potatoes in abundant cold salted water. Bring the water to a boil and boil for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on size. The pototoes should be soft, but not coming apart. Never pierce the potatoes to test if they are done as this makes them absorb water and your dough would be too wet. Peel the potatoes as soon as it has cooled enough to handle and put it through a potato ricer. Ad a pinch of black pepper and salt. Mix about 150 g of fine flour (Tipo 00) with the potatoes by hand until it comes together. We say abbastanza, which means – just enough. So ad the flour in stages until the dough just come together but still a bit sticky. Do not over work the dough and if you still see some potato particles it is fine. Roll the dough into long sticks of about 25 mm thick and cut across in about 25 mm long gnocchi pieces. Form the gnocchi now with a gnocchi former or fork and set aside.
In a large enough pan prepare your sauce. Any sauce normally associated with pasta can be used. A very popular sauce is butter and sage. I have been lucky to have some pesto, which I have made some weeks ago, to use. Boil the gnocchi in abundant salted water until they float and then for another 10 seconds. Mix with the sauce in the pan over low heat for a short period and serve hot, topped with some cracked black pepper and grated parmigiano.
Gnocchi can me made well in advance and kept for a few days in a sealed container in the fridge.
Enjoy with abundant home made red wine!
It is Italian tradition to slaughter at least one pig once per year so as to make all the salumi required for the rest of the year. I have made some pork liver salami and sausages (Salsiccia di Fegato di Maiale) on the day the pig was killed while waiting for the pig to cure for a week. Today we made some Salami and Cacciatori sausages. Tomorrow it will be Pancetta, Coppa and Prosciutto. In the mean time we make stock from all the bones and rendered the fat from the skins and small off cuts to either use for cooking or to make soap with.
The Italians are very generous and seldom do your friends leave your home without some of your home produce for them to try at their own place. Likewise you never leave a friends home without more gifts than what you brought. Every Italian province, district and town have their own food and recipes. It goes so far that every family and family member has their own special way to prepare a dish, which obviously is better than anybody else can dream to make it. Food is often the main talking point around the table and when somebody asks you for a recipe, you know that they know you can prepare the specific dish better than what they can. You always oblige and provide them with the recipe, minus a few essential ingredients and omitting at least one of the important steps – this way you can stay as the master of that specific dish.
So please do not ask me for a sausage recipe!