Fusilli with mushrooms

Fusilli Ai Funghi. This dish works best if you use a mix of different types of mushrooms. To all my Czech wild mushroom hunter friends – this is the perfect recipe :-). It works with any type however, and on this occasion I cooked it with standard field mushrooms. Serves 4.

  • 320g fusilli
  • 800g mushrooms (as many different types as possible), chopped
  • 250g tomatoes (tinned, pasatta or fresh – skinned seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 sprig parsley, chopped
  • parmesan cheese, optional
  • 1 knob butter, optional
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

 

  1. Wash and chop the mushrooms. How finely you chop them depends on taste and the varieties you are using. I could only get standard field mushrooms, so I chopped them quite finely.
  2. Fry the onion and mushrooms in olive oil until the mushrooms start to release their liquid.
  3. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook over a low heat for 45 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the parsley.
  5. Cook the fusilli in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and toss with a knob of butter (optional).
  6. Mix the pasta with the mushroom sauce and serve with parmesan cheese on the side.

 

 

 

 

Ragu alla Barese

Bari crestThis is another recipe from Tiziana (many thanks). This one of the most common ‘Sunday lunches’ in Bari. I think it’s known as “Sunday gravy” in the Sates. The recipe doesn’t give very precise measurements as it depends how many people you are cooking for and your personal taste.  As a rough guide allow 2-300g of meat per person. Tiziana usually serves the ragu with orecchiette, but you can use your favourite pasta. Serve the meat separately as the second course.

Ragu alla Barese ingredients

Ragu alla Barese ingredients

  • Thin slices of meat (you can use beef, veal, pork, or horse meat),flattened with meat mallet
  • Pieces of lamb (preferably on the bone)
  • Lardo(salted lard) or prosciutto fat or fatty pancetta
  • Parsley
  • Garlic
  • Pepper
  • Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 1 Onion, sliced
  • Passata or tomato pulp
  • 1/2 glass dry white wine
  1. Chop together the lardo, parsley, garlic, pepper and pecorino to make a coarse paste.
  2. Place a little of the paste in the middle of each slice of meat. Roll up and secure with a toothpick.
  3. Take a large pan(NOT nonstick) and add the onion, some olive oil, the meat rolls, the lamb pieces and half a glass of water.
  4. Cook over a high heat making sure that the meat catches on the bottom of the pan but doesn’t burn. Scrape the pan frequently with a wooden spoon. This is an important step as it contributes a lot of the flavour of the sauce.
  5. Add the wine and allow to evaporate
  6. Add enough passata to cover the meat well
  7. Cook over a very low heat until the meat is tender. (A slow cooker would be ideal)
  8. A few minutes before the end of cooking, season with salt and pepper.
  9. For the best results, allow to cool, refrigerate over night and reheat the next day.
  10. When you are ready to serve, remove the meat and keep warm.
  11. Serve the sauce with pasta as the first course followed by the meat as the second course.
Ragu alla Barese orecchiette

Ragu alla Barese orecchiette

Ragu alla Barese meat

Ragu alla Barese meat

Risi e bisi

Venezia crestIf you prepare this on April 25, you will be carrying on an ancient tradition that dates from the days of the Republic of Venice. This springtime dish of creamy rice and peas is made in Venice and its surroundings area to celebrate the feast day of its patron, Saint Mark. Almost the consistency of a soup, risi e bisi should be served as a course of its own. In the past, risi e bisi was presented on Saint Mark’s Day with much ceremony to the doge, the leader of Venice. You can streamline this dish by using small frozen peas.
Serves 6

  • 500g risotto rice
  • 700g fresh peas (unshelled weight), shelled
  • 80g butter
  • 40g pancetta, cut into small cubes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • parsley to taste, finely chopped
  • 60g parmesan cheese
  • stock (vegetable or chicken)
  1. Fry the onion, pancetta and parsley in half the butter. When the onions start to colour, add the peas and cook for a further 5 minutes
  2. Add a couple of ladles of hot stock and bring to the boil. Add the rice and stir.
  3. Continue in the usual way for risotto - note: use more stock than for a standard risotto. The finished dish should be quite sloppy – almost like a soup.
  4. When the rice is cooked al dente remove from the heat. Adjust salt and pepper, stir in the parmesan and the rest of the butter. Serve immediately

Giorgio Mantello used the picture above to illustrate an article on his site a cena da Giorgio. This is a translation of his comments:

I chose this image because it shows excellently  what should be the consistency of the risotto – neither too thick nor too liquid – in Venice is said to be “moeche”. which translates as soft and a little sticky. enjoy!

Tiella of potatoes, rice and mussels – Authentic recipe

Bari crestTiella di patate, riso e cozze. Tiella alla Barese. Riso patate cozze. Finally the definitive recipe! This recipe was given to me by Tiziana who is one of the best cooks in Bari (or so her friend Rosa tells me ;-) ) Many thanks Tiziana. It uses mussels which have been opened when they are still raw. My fish monger did this for me, but in the UK you’ll probably have to do this yourself. Here’s a link to show you how. Good luck :-)
Serves 6
Tiella ingredients

Tiella ingredients

  • 1.5kg potatoes, sliced
  • 300g risotto rice, soaked in cold water
  • 1kg mussels, opened on the half shell – reserve the liquid
  • onions, sliced
  • olive oil
  • garlic, chopped
  • parsley, chopped
  • tomatoes, chopped
  • pecorino Romano, grated
  • parmesan, grated
  • salt and pepper
  1. Assemble the tiella as follows in an ovenproof dish, preferably terracotta
  2. A layer of onions drizzled with oil
  3. A layer of potatoes seasoned with garlic, tomatoes, parsley, sat and pepper, cheese. Drizzle with oil
  4. A layer of mussels seasoned with garlic and parsley. Drizzle with oil
  5. Drain the rice and distribute it over the mussels. Season with garlic, tomatoes, parsley, sat and pepper, cheese. Drizzle with oil
  6. A layer potatoes.
  7. Add the water reserved when you opened the mussels. Add water so that the final layer of potatoes is just covered
  8. Cover tightly (maybe with alumnium foil) and bake at 180°C for up to two hours. Test from time to time with a skewer.
  9. Uncover for the last 20 minutes of cooking to brown the top.
Tiella finished dish

Tiella finished dish

 

 

Lumache with whelks

Lumache con lumache di mare. Or snails with sea snails! I was mightily confused when I first translated this recipe until I realised that they meant the pasta shapes known as snails with whelks.

Whelks are more often eaten poached and eaten as part of a seafood antipasto. They can also be dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. Serves 4

Pasta with whelks ingredients

Pasta with whelks ingredients

  • 350 g lumache (or similar pasta shape)
  • 500 g whelks — thoroughly washed and soaked in cold water for 3-4 hours
  • 1 medium onion — chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 100 ml dry white wine
  • 100 g tomatoes — chopped
  • 1 chilli — chopped
  • olive oil
  • fish stock
  1. Drain the whelks. Add to a pan along with the tomatoes garlic and chilli. Cover with fish stock and simmer until the whelks can be removed from their shells (with the aid of a tooth pick) About 10 minutes. Keep a couple of shells for decoration. Discard the stock.
  2. In a clean pan, fry the onion in a little olive oil. Add the whelk meat and fry for another minute. Add the wine and let it evaporate. Add the parsley and remove from the heat.
  3. Cook the pasta and toss with the whelk sauce. Serve immediately
Pasta with whelks finished dish

Pasta with whelks finished dish

PS The more sharp eyed among you will have noticed that when I cooked this dish I couldn’t find lumache. Isn’t that just typical :-) I used gnocchi instead.

 

Tiella alla Barese

Bari crest

This is another tiella recipe from Bari. It’s not completely traditional as the mussels are not raw when added to the tiella, but if you don’t fancy opening all those mussels it’s a fair approximation. I’ll post the ‘authentic’ recipe later.

Tiella ingredients

Tiella ingredients

  • 400 g potatoes, peeeled and thinly sliced
  • 200 g risotto rice
  • 700 g mussels, cleaned
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • a handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • 200 g tomatoes, peeled, deseed and chopped
  • pecorino cheese, grated
  • pepper
  1. Boil the rice until al dente. Reserve some of the cooking liquid.
  2. Heat the mussels in a pan with a little oil and the chopped garlic. When they have opened, remove from the pan. Strain and reserve the liquid. Remove the top shell from each mussel.
  3. Assemble the tiella in a ovenproof dish. Make layers of the ingredients in the following order – potatoes, rice, onions, tomatoes, a little cheese, parsley. Repeat until all the ingredients have been used up, finishing with a layer of potatoes.
  4. Pour the liquid from the mussels over the tiella. Add some of the cooking liquid from the rice so that the level of liquid comes about two thirds of the way up the dish. Season well with pepper (not salt as the mussel liquid will be quite salty). Drizzle olive oil on top.
  5. Bake uncovered for around 35 minutes at 180C. Add a layer of mussels in the half shells, drizzle on a little more oil and return to the oven for 10 minutes.
Easy tiella alla barese

Easy tiella alla barese

Soused chicken breasts

Petti di pollo in carpione. I got this recipe from the English translation of il cucchiaio d’argento - The Silver Spoon. This book is I think on the whole a clever marketing trick. It is a 1950s cookbook with a few modern recipes tacked on the end. Add to that an appalling translation, don’t trust any measurements! The recipes still appear in the original Italian alphabetical order even though they have been translated into English. I have met some people who have heard of it here, a bit like the good housekeeping books in the UK, but I have yet to find anybody who has used it. It can be useful for ideas if you already know what you are doing. The following recipe is in fact very nice :-) Serves 4

Soused chicken breasts ingredients

Soused chicken breasts ingredients

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast portions
  • 2 eggs
  • 80 g breadcrumbs
  • 25 g butter(or use all oil)
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil (I usually use much less)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stick, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 350 ml white wine vinegar
  • 100 ml dry white wine
  • 4 fresh sage leaves (or a teaspoon of dried)
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  1. Beat the chicken with a meat mallet until evenly thin.
  2. Beat the egg with a pinch of salt in a dish, add the chicken and leave to stand for 15 minutes. Spread out the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Drain the chicken and dip in the breadcrumbs to coat.
  3. Heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of the oil in a pan, add the chicken and cook over a medium heat, turning occasionally, for about 10 minutes until golden brown on both sides.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in another pan, add the onion, celery and carrot and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add the vinegar and wine and bring to the boil, then immediately remove from the heat and add the sage and garlic.
  5. Place the chicken in a dish, pour the hot marinade over it, leave to cool, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving.

Soused chicken breasts

Linguine with cuttlefish ragu

Linguine al ragu di seppia. Serves 6

Cuttlefish ragu ingredients

Cuttlefish ragu ingredients

  • 6 medium cuttlefish, cleaned, whole
  • 100g  onion,sliced
  • olive oil
  • parsley, chopped
  • 1kg chopped tomato (fresh or tinned)
  • 600g linguine
  • 100g pecorino pugliese, grated
  1. Fry the onions in plenty of olive oil for a few minutes. Add the cuttlefish and fry on all sides.
  2. Add the tomatoes and cook over a low heat for around 3/4 hour.
  3. When the cuttlefish are tender, remove from the sauce and keep warm.
  4. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. It probably wont need much salt as the cuttlefish can be quite salty.
  5. Dress the cooked pasta with the sauce. Serve sprinkled with the pecorino and parsley. Top each portion with one of the cuttlefish.

linguine with cuttlefish ragu finished dish

Note: If the cuttlefish are quite large, you may prefer to serve them as the second course.

Easter lamb

Easter lamb

Easter lamb

puglia crestAgnello di Pasqua. This is another Pugliese dish. Very young ‘suckling’ lamb with eggs and peas. It will be difficult to find agnello di latte outside of Italy, but spring lamb will do just as well. You’ll probably need your butcher’s help to cut the leg into slices.Serves 6

Lamb with peas ingredients

Lamb with peas ingredients

  • 1kg leg of spring lamb (or other cuts), cut into 2cm slices through the bone.
  • 500g very young fresh peas (unshelled weight)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 medium  eggs
  • 50g pecorino, grated
  • 100 ml dry white wine
  • plenty of olive oil
  • plenty of chopped flat leaf parsley

In an oven proof dish, soften the onion in the olive oil.

Lamb with peas frying onions

Lamb with peas frying onions

Add the lamb pieces and fry until well sealed. Add the wine, cover and transfer to an oven preheated to 180°C

Lamb with peas browning meat

Lamb with peas browning meat

Cooking time will depend on the lamb, so a bit of guesswork will be involved. When the lamb is about 3/4 done, add the peas.
Mix together the eggs, parsley and pecorino. When the lamb is cooked, pour over the egg mixture. Leave for a couple of minute until the eggs have set and serve.

Sea bream in white wine

Orata in vino bianco. Serves 4

Sea bream in white wine ingredients

Sea bream in white wine ingredients

  •   4        small  sea bream — cleaned and scaled
  •   2        lemons — thinly sliced
  •   2        medium  onions
  •   1        sprig  parsley
  •   1        sprig  mint
  •   1 1/2 glasses  dry white wine
  •               olive oil
  1. Put a couple of tablespoons of oil, the whole cloves of garlic and the fish into an oven proof dish. Bake for a few minutes at 180°C until the fish starts to colour.
  2. Add the wine to the dish. Chop together the onion, parsley and mint and sprinkle on top of the fish. Add the sliced Lemon and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Return to the oven until the fish is done. The timing depends on the size of the fish.

 

Sea bream in white wine finished dish

Sea bream in white wine finished dish

Bavette with broad beans

Bavette con le fave. Broad beans arrived in my local green grocer this week. It means spring is on the way :-) Serves 4
Bavette with broad beans ingredients

Bavette with broad beans ingredients

  • 300g  bavette
  • 300g  shelled broad beans
  • 60g  parma ham, cut into strips
  • 60g  butter
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • a little stock (home made, unsalted)
  • parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  1. Soften the onions in a little olive oil. Add the beans and cover with stock.
  2. Cook over a high heat until the beans are tender – a few minutes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, add the ham, stir and remove from the heat.
  4. Cook the pasta, drain and dress with the butter.
  5. Add the beans to the pasta and serve topped with parmesan.
Bavette with broad beans finished dish

Bavette with broad beans finished dish

Meatballs in tomato sauce

Polpettine al Sugo. A lot of people mistakenly think that this dish was invented in the USA, but although it’s not nearly as common here as it seems to be in the states, it is Italian through and through. It tastes even better heated up the next day. I served it with linguine(a bit of a crime: ragu should be served with a ribbon pasta such as tagliatelle) the first day and polenta the second, but it goes with pretty much every kind of pasta.

meatballs in tomato sauce ingredients

  • 300g  minced beef
  • 100g Italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 4 sprigs parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese — grated
  • 1 egg
  • 30g dry bread crumbs
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 500g passata
  • 1 handful basil leaves, torn
  • olive oil
    1. Mix together the beef, sausage, the breadcrumbs moistened in a little water, garlic and parsley in a bowl. I find it easiest to use my hands. When it is well mixed, season with salt and pepper and mix in the egg.
    2. Form into small meatballs, about the size of a marble.

meatballs

  1. Fry the meatballs in plenty of olive oil until they are evenly browned. Drain on Kitchen towels.
  2. Drain the excess oil from the pan, add the onions and fry for about 5 minutes over a medium heat.
  3. Add the passata and basil, season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Add the meatballs and cook for a further 15 minutes.
  5. Serve with your favourite pasta or with polenta.

meatballs in tomato sauce finished dish

meatballs with polenta

UPDATE

Now I’ve been here a while I realise that I’ve been very English and got things a bit wrong. :hangs his head in shame: The recipe above is still authentic, but the Italians don’t serve the meatballs with the pasta. They are eaten as the secondo.

Maryann puts it better than I can(see comments):

I think why most people say spaghetti and meatballs originated in American is that they eat it all on the same plate, in the same course. In my family, first the macaroni, then the meat from the sauce.

Nonna Stella’s Pesto

This recipe is not for what we normally think of as ‘pesto’. A huge number of Italian sauces start with what’s known as a ‘soffritto’. Usually that means finely chopped onions, carrots ,celery, and possibly garlic. Nonna Stella prepares her soffritto in advance and keeps it in a jar in the fridge. She also adds celery leaves, parsley and basil to the mix. When you need to make a sauce, let’s say for example a tomato sauce, all you need to do is fry a couple of tablespoons of the pesto for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes. Cook it down for ten minutes and you’re done. Fast food Italian style :-) . This is possibly the most useful recipe I’ve picked up. It will keep almost indefinitely in the fridge, if you remember to keep it covered with about a centimeter of oil.

pesto ingredients

You’ll need:-

  • Good olive oil
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Celery (Including leaves if possible)
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • The quantities are a matter of taste, but I use roughly equal quantities of onions and carrots and halve the quantity of celery.
  1. Peel the onions and carrots.
  2. Roughly chop the onions, carrotts and celery and whizz in a food processor, adding a little oil from time to time, until you have a smooth paste.
  3. Add a good handful each of celery leaves, basil and parsley and process again, adding more oil when necessary, until the herbs are incorporated into the paste.
  4. Transfer to a clean jar, a traditional pickle jar would be ideal, and pour a least a centimeter of oil on top.
    Keep in the fridge until needed.

pesto finished

Here’s Nonna Stella herself to show you how it’s done.

The pesto will only be as good as the ingredients you use. Above all, use the best olive oil you can find. Nonna Stella is very proud of the oil produced by her grandson in Cassano. They don’t have to buy oil in her house. I wish I had a supply :-)

 

Fennel and lemon risotto

Risotto ai finocchi e limone. This is a Valentina Harris recipe. Serves 6

fennel and lemon risotto ingredients

fennel and lemon risotto ingredients

  •   500 grams  fennel bulbs
  •   1 onion — peeled and finely chopped
  •   75 grams  unsalted butter
  •   500 grams  risotto rice
  •   2 tablespoons  lemon juice
  •    grated zest of one unwaxed lemon
  •    salt and pepper
  •   1.5   litres chicken or vegetable stock
  •   75 grams  freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese
  •   2 tablespoons  finely chopped mint or parsley — or both
  1. Take off all the hard external leaves of the fennel and trim away all the green bits. You should be left with tender, white fennel hearts.
  2. If you like a very strong flavour of fennel, add the discarded parts of the vegetable, carefully washed, to the stock.
  3. Slice the tender bulbs thinly and evenly. Fry the sliced fennel gently with half the butter and the onion until the fennel is tender, then add all the rice and stir.
  4. Add the lemon juice and stir again. Season thoroughly and continue in the usual way.
  5. At the end of cooking, stir in the rest of the butter, the lemon zest and the cheese.
  6. Cover and take off the heat, leave the rice to rest for about 4 minutes, then stir once more before transferring on to a warmed platter.
  7. Sprinkle with the chopped herbs and serve at once.
fennel and lemon risotto finished dish

fennel and lemon risotto finished dish

Smoked salmon risotto

Risotto alla salsa di salmone.

Serves 4
smoked salmon risotto ingredients

smoked salmon risotto ingredients

  • 1 1/2 litres  vegetable stock
  • 40 grams  butter
  • 1  small  onion (optional)
  • 350 grams  risotto rice
  • 1 glass  dry white wine
  • 100 grams  smoked salmon
    1. Prepare the risotto in the usual way

using half the butter.

  1. Finely chop half the salmon and coarsely chop the other half.
  2. Cream the remaining butter in a bowl and beat in the finely chopped salmon with a wooden spoon.
  3. About 2 minutes before the rice has finished cooking, stir in the butter mixture and the coarsely chopped salmon.
smoked salmon risotto finished dish

smoked salmon risotto finished dish