Pesto di Ortiche (Stinging Nettle) and Pesto di Crescione (Water Crescent)
On my way back from feeding the chickens and picking Stinging Nettles, I noticed some Water Crescent on the side of the road and decided to forage some as well. Back home I parted with some nettle for Mrs BYF to make Ristto alle Ortiche, the rest I converted into a Pesto. I also made Watercress Pesto using the same recipe and had a comparative taste test. Nettle – 9, Watercress – 6
170 g Basil, Carrot Tops, Nettle or Cress
45 g Roasted Pine Nuts
40 g Fresh Garlic
5 g Salt
In a Mortar and Pestle crush all the ingredients very fine
270 ml Good Olive Oil
Hand mix the olive oil with the contents of the Mortar and Pestle very well
100 g Grated Parmigiano Reggiano (Any strong hard grating cheese if you do not have Parmigiano
40 g Grated Pecorino Romano (Any sharp goat or sheep cheese if you do not have Pecorino) Today, I used my own home made cheese
90 g Soft unsalted Butter
Now fold the cheeses and butter into the mix
It is ready to eat, but the flavours develop and intensify over the next 24 hours
Enjoy on bread or in a pasta
Do not forget the glass of good home made wine!!!
Pesto freezes very well
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.
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!!!
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.
Summer being the season of abundance should result in a busy kitchen preserving for the leaner months. Today the leeks were harvested, cleaned and boiled for 5 minutes in apple cider vinegar with some bay leaves and black pepper corns. Drain and discharge the vinegar. Neatly pack the leeks, bay leaves and pepper corns in preserving jars and fill and cover completely with extra virgin olive oil. Wait one moth before using.