Risotto alle Ortiche – Stinging Nettle Risotto

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Stinging Nettle Risotto

We have a friend who has a few stinging nettles growing in the chicken coop and in their vast vegetable garden. Every year at about this time we binge eat stinging nettle. We pick only the soft tips and once we have a basketfull we plan. Half goes to pesto, no question, but the rest will be used in all sorts of ways. Today the choice went to risotto. The risotto came out an intense green, hinting  at the wonderful flavour, spinach like, but much tastier. I am sharing Mrs BYF’s recipe and I wish I could let you have a taste!

I use my favorite cast iron pot, big enough to make risotto for 6, but this is for 2 hungry people who will not be getting any dinner.

1 big leek or 4 or 5 little ones. I use the small tender ones from our garden green leaves and all

1 green mild chili from the garden because it was there

1 and 1/2 cup of Arborio rice

200 g or more of fresh nettles. They cook away to almost nothing

1/2 cup olive oil

700 ml of stock – I used quail stock

salt and pepper to taste

grated parmigiano for the table

Blanch the rinsed nettles in boiling water, drain and put aside.

Heat the stock and keep it lightly simmering

In the pot you will be cooking the risotto, pour the oil and add the leeks. Cook over low heat until the leeks have softened. Add the rice, stir until the first rice kernels pop. Add a ladle full of stock, stir until almost absorbed, add another ladle full and stir, add all the nettles, then keep ladling the stock on the rice and stirring. The more you stir the creamier the risotto will be. Once the rice is al dente and still very moist, almost soupy it is ready. Serve immediately sprinkled with lots of Parmigiano.

UOVA di QUAGLIA SOTT’ACETO (Pickled Quail Eggs)

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Today I had my 8 year old Grandson to assist me in making Pickled Quail Eggs. He was also the Director, Photographer and Script Writer for this post.

Once you have peeled the eggs , pack them in a clean sterilised bottle mixed with your chosen fresh spices. In this case we used rosemary, garlic, chili, salt and black pepper.

Boil enough 80:20 White Wine Vinegar : Water for 10 minutes, including all the spices, to cover the eggs. Pour the hot wine vinegar mix over the eggs until the container is full. Seal immediately and leave to stand for at least one week before use. If you want to preserve these for longer periods, pasteurise the full containers by boiling them for 30 minutes in a pot with water covering the containers completely.

These are obviously very good for any antipasto plate, or a late night snack with a glass of wine  –  ENJOY!!!

Casatiello Napoletana (Stuffed Easter Bread)

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There are many Easter Breads in Italy and each region has its own version, but most include whole, sometimes coloured, eggs. This specific recipe is from Napoli and is made in a pan with a hole in the middle, called a ruoto. The recipe is enough for two breads in 270 mm pans.

  • 800 g Bread Flour (Tipo 0)
  • 300 g  Water – luke warm
  • 5 g Honey or Molasses
  • 23 g Yeast – fresh
  • 500 g 1:1 Biga (Mother plant of yeast)
  • 100 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil – plus extra to smear the pans
  • 20 g Salt
  • 50 g Salami –  about 5 mm cubed
  • 50 g Pancetta – about 5 mm cubed
  • 50 g Cheese  – any melting mild cheese of your choice – about 5 mm cubed
  • 50 g Parmigiano or Grana Padana Cheese – about 5 mm cubed
  • 12 Quail eggs – fresh – Plus two to glaze the bread

Mix the honey, water and yeast and let it stand for 5 minutes. Now mix in the flour, biga, oil and salt and knead well. Let it proof until at least double in size, then knead briefly again. Divide the dough in two, but keep about 50 g to make strips to secure the eggs,  and roll each into a square of about 300 mm. Spread all the cheeses and meat on the squares and roll up. Place each roll in a well smeared pan in such a way that it fills the entire base of the pan. Now place the whole eggs evenly on the breads and secure each with two thin strips of dough. Proof until at least double in size. Glaze the top of the breads with beaten egg and bake at 220 C for 13 minutes. Turn the pans around and bake for another 20 minutes at 190 C.

Enjoy hot or cold, or the next day on the Easter Picnic.

 

 

12 Bits and Pieces Vegetable Lunch

Today we needed a quick light lunch. I have come to the conclusion that the more vegetables I bring in from the garden, the more innovative Mrs BYF becomes. I decided to post this recipe that can never be repeated because it was delicious and used up all the bits and pieces I have produced and harvested.

1/2   cup thinly sliced swede
4     handfuls radish tops, washed and picked. Discard the bigger stems and eat the radishes
8   small tomatoes some not fully ripe, some over ripe
2   handfuls of very tiny potatoes
4   very small zucchini and whatever flowers are left, diced
1   small but evil chilli
1  thumb nail sized bit of fresh ginger
1/2  medium onion
1   tablespoon or much more chopped garlic
 4  tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper
1  sprig of rosemary just because I got it for free from the museum foyer on Anzac Day
3 fried quail eggs (runny yolk) on top of each serve. The egg is optional but makes all the difference according to Mrs BYF who can eat eggs for every meal, every day of the week
Method
Put the washed radish tops in a pot , cover and fry until the leaves have wilted. In the mean time, fry the onion until translucent in the olive oil along with the garlic, chilli, ginger and rosemary.  When the onion is ready add the potatoes (boil them first if they are bigger than your pinky nail)  and the swede. Fry quickly until all is soft and integrated. Add a spoonful of water if necessary. Lastly, add the tomatoes and fry for a minute. Serve when everything is soft and just before the tomatoes burst. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add a ladle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and cracked Black Pepper and enjoy while washing it all down with a glass, or two, of home made Cherry and Black Current Wine. Scoop up the sauce with home made bread.

Quail Eggs with Truffle

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)

 

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Cappelletti Romagnoli di Magro

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.

The filling

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.

The pasta

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!!