Garlic soup

Garlic soup finished dish

Garlic soup finished dish

Zuppa di aglio. Versions of this soup exist all over the world. I used to live in the Czech Republic and česnečka was said to be a fantastic cure for a hangover 😉 It is best made with new season “wet” garlic, but regular dried garlic will give good results. Use very good stock, it will be so much better than cubes. It can easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable stock and a vegetarian cheese. Serves 4.

Garlic soup ingredients

Garlic soup ingredients

  • 1 litre of good chicken stock
  • 100g garlic about 2 or 3 heads, peeled and finely diced
  • 200g potatoes, peeled and finely diced
  • 4 slices rustic white bread, toasted
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 60g parmesan or grana
  1. Simmer the garlic and potato in the stock for about 20 minutes. The garlic and potato should be very tender.
  2. Liquidize until smooth and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cut a clove of garlic in half and rub the cut side on both side of the toast. This will produce quite a strong garlic flavour, so be careful. If you prefer a mild flavour, leave out this step altogether.
  4. Drizzle the toast with olive oil, put a slice into each bowl, pour the hot soup on top and sprinkle with parmesan.
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Potato pizza with ham and spinach

Potato pizza finished dish

Potato pizza finished dish

Bari crestPizza di patate e prosciutto. From Bari. This is a more complicated version of the traditional potato “pizza”.  They call it a pizza here, but that name is quite confusing as it does not contain any bread or flour. To confuse matters further it is also known as Torta di patate or Gateau di patate in various regions. It is basically a potato pie filled with ham and spinach. The ham can easily be left out to make it vegetarian (if you are careful about what cheese you use of course). It can be eaten warm or cold and will keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days. It also freezes well. Serves about 8 as a main course.

Potato pizza ingredients

Potato pizza ingredients

  • 1.2 kg floury potatoes.
  • 250g scamorza, provola or mozzarella, grated or thinly sliced.
  • 500g fresh spinach
  • 150g cooked ham
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 70g grated parmesan
  • Dry bread crumbs
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Nutmeg 

Cook the potatoes in their skins in lightly salted water. Drain and peel when cool enough to handle.

Potato pizza cooking potatoes

Potato pizza cooking potatoes

Mash the potatoes and mix with the egg yolks and parmesan.

Potato pizza mixed with cheese

Potato pizza mixed with cheese

Fry the whole garlic clove for a few minutes in a little olive oil. Remove and add the spinach. There should be enough water clinging to the leaves after washing. Add a little salt and couple of grates of nutmeg. Cook over a medium heat until the spinach has completely wilted. Leave to cool and squeeze out as much water as possible.

Potato pizza cooking spinach

Potato pizza cooking spinach

Grease a 24cm cake tin and dust with bread crumbs. Use 2/3 of the potato to make the base of the pizza. Build up the sides a little to contain the filling. Add the spinach.

Potato pizza with spinach

Potato pizza with spinach

Add the ham

Potato pizza with ham

Potato pizza with ham

Cover with the cheese

Potato pizza with cheese

Potato pizza with cheese

Close the pizza with the remaining 1/3 of the potato. Cover the top with bread crumbs and dot liberally with knobs of butter.

Potato pizza ready for the oven

Potato pizza ready for the oven

Bake in an oven preheated to 200°c for 50 minutes.

Bagna cauda

Bagna caoda fished dish

Bagna caoda fished dish

Piedmont-flagBagna caôda.From Piemonte. The rough translation of title is “hot bath” , which in my opinion is always preferable to a cold one 🙂 This dish is well known outside of Italy, but as is often the case it often is very different from the original. It is basically a warm anchovy and garlic dip for raw vegetables. These are two of my favourite things, so it’s one of my favourite antipasti. A lot of versions include milk or cream, but these are not found in the original Piemonte version

Bagna caoda ingredients

Bagna caoda ingredients

  • About 6 anchovy fillets per person. Salted are best, but tinned in oil will do. Soak them in a little white wine.
  • Garlic (from 2 or 3 cloves per person up to a whole head)
  • Olive oil, the best you can find, about 1/2 a wine glass per person. Only olive oil will do.
  • About 20 g of unsalted butter per person.
  • 1 egg per person(optional)

To serve, dip vegetables into the mixture. The recipe I have is very prescriptive and says you can only use vegetables that are in season and grow in Piedmont. I think this is going a bit far though. Some suggestions on what to serve with the Bagna Cauda (raw unless otherwise stated):-

  • Fresh bread
  • potatoes cooked in their skins and then peeled
  • Peppers roasted and peeled or raw
  • Onions boiled or baked
  • Sliced apples
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Jerusalem artichokes (raw or cooked))
  • Fennel
  • Cauliflower (raw or cooked)
  • Endive
  • Celery
  • Courgettes
  • Small globe artichoke
  • Cardoons
  • Cucumber
  • Radicchio
  • Asparagus
  • Carrot sticks
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Spring onions
  • Small whole mushrooms
Bagna caoda vegetables

Bagna caoda vegetables

Slice the garlic very thinly and soak it in cold water for a couple of hours. Some recipes call for it to be boiled in milk, but I think this is unnecessary.

Add all the ingredients to an earthenware pot along with a small ladle of oil and cook very slowly for about half an hour. Don’t let the garlic brown. Stir it constantly with a wooden spoon. When the anchovies and garlic have dissolved into the sauce, add the rest of the oil.

Bring the pot to the table and keep it warm with some kind heat source.  You can buy special pots for this purpose, but fondue sets work well. Serve it with your selection of vegetables.

When you have had your fill of vegetables you can add a beaten egg to what’s left in the pot.

Grissini – Authentic recipe

Grissini finished dish

Grissini finished dish

Piedmont-flagFrom Piemonte. In my experience the bread you can buy from a good baker is usually a superior product to home-made, unless you have a  great deal of time to invest and a very good oven. Here in Italy very few people make bread at home. Focaccia and other bread like products are another thing though. It is quite easy to make grissini, or breadsticks,  at home and they will usually be much better than the shop bought variety, especially outside of Italy. The original recipe is from a baker, so has been scaled down drastically, by a factor of about 10. The quantities and proving time are not extremely sensitive, so you have a bit of leeway.

Grissini ingredients

Grissini ingredients

  • 500g 00 flour or similar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp malt (or sugar)
  • 1 cube of fresh yeast or the equilvalent amount of dried
  • 1 tsp of lard (replace with oil if you want a vegetarian version)
  • Up to 300ml of tepid water
  • A little semolina for dusting
Grissini mixing the dough

Grissini mixing the dough

Mix together the flour, salt, malt, yeast and lard. Add water, little by little, until you get a soft pliable dough. Make sure you knead it well.

Grissini kneading the dough

Grissini kneading the dough

Form into a rectangle about 15cm long by 3cm deep. Cover with a clean towel and leave to prove for about 2 hours.

Grissini proving the dough

Grissini proving the dough

Cut the dough into 2cm strips and stretch to make the grissini shapes. I prefer them quite chunky, but remember that they will about double in size in the oven.

Grissini cutting strips

Grissini cutting strips

 Bake them at 200°C until golden brown (about 18-20 minutes).

Grissini ready for the oven

Grissini ready for the oven

Panzerotti

Panzerotti. From Bari. These are one of the most famous and popular dishes from Bari. They are deep fried pockets of dough stuffed with a variety of fillings. Two of the most common are mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and oregano and ricotta forte (also called skuanda), cherry tomatoes, onion and anchovies. Ricotta forte is a bit of a “Marmite” ingredient. By that I mean it is very strongly flavoured and you either love it or hate it.  I am in the first camp, lovely stuff. Rather than cherry tomatoes, “appesi” are more traditional. These are small tomatoes which are picked when still not completely ripe and hung up for later consumption. As these are hard to find, you can use any type. I went to a party here and a lady was employed just to make panzerotti all evening. The last round was filled with Nutella! The size of the panzerotti varies, but I made 12 with this recipe.

Panzerotti ingredients

Panzerotti ingredients

For the pastry

  • 500 g 00 flour
  • 100 ml tepid milk
  • 1 cube of fresh yeast
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 10 g salt

Dissolve the yeast in the milk. Add the milk to the flour, oil and salt along with enough tepid water to make a smooth dough.

Oil the dough, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for up to 2 hours.

Separate the dough into 12 portions and roll into small balls. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for a further half an hour.

Panzerotti balls of dough

Panzerotti balls of dough

Take one ball of dough and roll it into a large disc. Place a large tablespoon of filling in the middle of each one. Fold the dough over to form a half moon shape. Press down well and try to exclude as much air as possible. Either fold over and crimp the edges or cut off the excess pastry with a pasty wheel and seal the edges with a fork.

Panzerotti ready to cook

Panzerotti ready to cook

Deep fry the panzerotti until they are lightly golden. Some people use extra virgin olive oil and some people use regular vegetable oil. You can also bake them in an oven at 200 °C for 15 minutes, but the result is quite different.

Panzerotti finished dish

Panzerotti finished dish

Fillings

  • 200 g mozzarella
  • 300 g cherry tomatoes
  • Oregano
  • Chop and drain the tomatoes. Cube the mozzarella.  Mix together with a generous amount of mozzarella.
  • 50 g ricotta forte
  • 100 g cherry tomatoes
  • 50 g onions
  • An anchovy
  • Salt and pepper.
  • Fry the onion in some oil, bone and chop anchovy. Spread each disc of dough with ricotta forte. Add a piece of tomato, some onion and a piece of anchovy. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 100 g ricotta forte
  • 20 g grated pecorino romano
  • 2 cherry tomatoes for each panzerotto
  • 1 egg yolk (optional)
  • Mix together the ricotta forte and the pecorino. Some people like to add an egg yolk to the mixture. Place a tablespoon of the filling and 2 chopped tomatoes in each panzerotto.
  • Radicchio and gorgonzola.
  • Fried minced pork mixed with parmsan and mozzarella. This is traditional on shrove Tuesday.

And of course the very untraditional but popular with children young and old:-

  • Nutella 🙂
Peppina at the party

Peppina at the party

Onion pizza

Pizza di cipolle. From Bari. This is another “pizza” that is in fact a pie or calzone. This can be made with “long onions” which I have never seen outside Italy, but this recipe uses white onions which are easy to find. Indeed if you can’t find then I’m sure you would get good results with other types of onion. There are versions without the olives and/or anchovies so feel free to leave them out if you prefer. The dough is made without yeast so it is very quick. Serves 6 to 8.

Onion pizza ingredients

Onion pizza ingredients

For the dough

  • 500 g 00 flour
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 200 ml white wine or water
  • salt

For the filling.

  • 1 kg white onions, chopped
  • 5-6 tomatoes, chopped
  • 50 g stoned olives
  • 8 anchovy fillets
  • 50 g parmesan, grated
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Lightly seson and fry the onions in a little oil until they are soft. Add the tomatoes, olives and anchovies and cook for a further few minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan.

Mix together the ingredients for the dough with enough water or wine to make it smooth. Leave to rest for about half an hour.

Grease a pizza tin  with olive oil and dust with a little flour.

Onion pizza ready to be filled

Onion pizza ready to be filled

Roll out half of the dough so it fits the tin.

Onion pizza with filling

Onion pizza with filling

Fill the tin with the onion mix.

Onion pizza ready to cook

Onion pizza ready to cook

Roll out the other half to make the top of the pie. Place on top and trim the edges. Cover the top with a little olive oil and pierce with a fork to allow the steam to escape.

Bake at 200 °C for 30 minutes.

Onion pizza finished dish

Onion pizza finished dish

Ricotta and mozzarella pizza

Pizza mozzarella e ricotta. From Puglia. This was cooked for me last week by the mother of a student. Hers of course was better, but mine wasn’t bad either 🙂 It is called a pizza here, but it is actually a type of pie or calzone. Serves 6

Update: Mrs C Looked at the recipe and said it is slightly different than the one she uses. She adds 100 g of salami or 100g of mixed mortadella and ham cut into small cubes. She uses nutmeg instead of pepper and gives the dough 1 hour to rise. Finally, she doesn’t drizzle olive oil on the top. Many thanks.

Ricotta pizza ingredients

Ricotta pizza ingredients

Pastry for stuffed pizzas

  • 500 g 00 flour
  • 1/2 cube of fresh yeast (or 1 packet of dried)
  • 50 cc olive oil
  • 200 ml milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the tepid milk
  2. Mix together the flour, olive oil, salt and enough of the milk to form a smooth dough.
  3. Knead for about 10 minutes.
  4. The dough doesn’t require much rising. Just leave it to rest for half an hour.
  • 500 g ricotta
  • 200 g mozzarella cut into small cubes
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp grated parmesan
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Make the filling by beating the ricotta until it is smooth then mix in the mozzarella, eggs and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Roll out half the dough so that it is a little bigger than the pizza tin. Oil the tin and put the base of the pizza into it. Push the dough down with your fingers to exclude as much air as possible.
  3. Spread the filling inside the tin. Roll out the rest of the dough until it is a little bigger than the tin. Cover the pie with the base. Pinch together and then fold over and crimp the edges.
  4. Drizzle a little olive oil over the surface and make some air holes with a fork.
  5. Bake in an oven preheated to 200°C for 40 minutes.
Ricotta pizza finished dish

Ricotta pizza finished dish