After spending a whole day combing through Archives of Mezzano Martello in Milano, I was thrown out at 15H00, because they wanted to close for the day.
On recommendation of my wife, I made my way to the Navigli in Milano for a memorable lunch / dinner.
The Navigli of Milan are the artificial canals constructed between 1179 (Naviglio Grande) and the 16th century (Naviglio Martesana) with the purpose of making Milan accessible from the Ticino and Adda rivers.
I enjoyed the home made Gnocchi as a Primi and Polenta with Eggs and Truffle as a Secondi with fried Artichokes as a Contorni. Even though the place was still very quiet and empty as it only comes to live at night, it was a memorable and enjoyable experience.
Ravioli Pigeon Filling
In a pan add a handful of chopped Pancetta and fry slightly. After a few minutes add some chopped garlic, carrots, celery and onion. Fry all together until the onion is well soft. In another pan add some olive oil and brown the pigeons on all sides. Add salt and pepper to taste. When well browned add a cup of good red wine and let the wine evaporate for some minutes. Now add the contents of both pans together and combine with about 500 g of Passata. Simmer slowly in an open pan and keep moist with some good stock, Cook until the meat is very soft and coming off the bone. When cooled, remove the meat from the carcass and cut it fine, then return it to the pan with all the sauce. Cook only for a few minutes and make sure it is well mixed and the correct moisture content, if too dry add some more stock. Taste for salt and pepper and correct if required.
● 100 g Pancetta
● 6 Cloves of garlic
● 2 Medium carrots
● 2 Celery sticks
● 1 Pinch of dried chilli or 1 fresh chilli
● 4 Medium sized onions
● Salt and Pepper
All of the above finely chopped
● 100 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
● 6 Pigeons
● 200 ml Good red wine
● 500 g Passata
● 1 Litre stock
Mix the egg and flour together and knead until uniform and smooth. It should be a fairly firm dough and if not correct, adjust by adding either more milk or more flour. I coloured mine by adding green Cavolo nero sauce to one third and red plum sauce to another third, thus getting tri colours
● 5 Eggs beated slightly
● 500 g Plain flour – Preferably Tipo 00
Roll pasta dough out with a pasta machine to a medium thickness. Lay one sheet down and place enough filling in little balls on top of the dough so that your pasta press will cover it. Make many rows of filling, spaced to accommodate the ravioli press. Now layer another sheet over the first and the filling balls, then press and cut with ravioli press. Flour well and keep until used.
Boil enough water to accommodate tall the pasta and when boiling well dump the ravioli in the boiling water. When they are floating, cook for another two minutes and then scoop out with a slotted spoon. Serve on pre warmed plates and dress with melted butter and sage sauce
● Grated Parmigiano or Grana Padana
● 10 Sage leaves
Add enough grated Parmigiano and do not forget the Home made Red Wine
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.
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!