Angel wings – Chiacchiere – carnival biscuits

Chiacchiere finished dish

Chiacchiere finished dish

Like in most catholic countries, the start of lent is a big occasion in Italy. Carnival (carnivale) runs from “fat Thursday , giovedi grasso” until “fat Tuesday, martedi grasso”. Traditionally people dress up in masks and costumes, but outside of Venice, this is mostly only done by small children. However everybody uses it as an excuse to eat lots of sweet things. This is Italy after all ūüôā This recipe is for one of the most common biscuits. They have many regional names, ¬†bugie, ¬†cenci, ¬†crostoli, ¬†frappe, ¬†galani, ¬†sfrappole ,but here they are known as¬†chiacchiere. A rough translation would be “chatty biscuits”. There are many variations on the basic recipe, some include ¬†grappa or wine, or lemon zest, but this is one of the simplest.

Chiacchere ingredients

Chiacchere ingredients

  • 280g plain flour
  • 70g potato starch (if you can’t find this, use all plain flour)
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 20g icing sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • A few drops of vanilla essence or a sachet of vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • Oil for deep frying

Mix all the ingredients together to form a dough.

Chiacchere mixing dough

Chiacchere mixing dough

Knead it for a couple of minutes until it’s smooth.

Chiacchere dough

Chiacchere dough

Roll it out very thinly. If the dough is too sticky, dust with a little flour. You are aiming for about the thickness of lasagne. In fact, if you have a pasta rolling machine, that would be perfect.

Chiacchere ready to fry

Chiacchere ready to fry

Cut out rectangles of about 6×3 cm (2×1 inch) and make a slit in the middle. A pastry wheel is good for this.

Chiacchere frying

Chiacchere frying

Deep fry in hot oil (about 190¬įc 375¬įf) until they are puffed up and lightly golden.

Drain on kitchen paper and dust with icing sugar.

Advertisements

Tiramisu – Original recipe

Tiramisu is¬†ubiquitous in restaurants within Italy and around the world. The translation literally is “pick me up”. Idiomatically it means something like “make me happy”. It is quite a recent invention and didn’t start to become popular both ¬†nationally and¬†internationally¬†until the 80s.

As with most things in Italy there is a great debate about the true origin of tiramisu(or tirames√Ļ in the Venetian¬†dialect). Some sources put its origin as Siena in Tuscany however I think that the most credible claim comes from Treviso, in the Veneto near to Venice. Roberto Linguanotto from the Beccherie restaurant claims to have invented it at the end of the 60s and this is his recipe. People have changed the recipe a lot over the years and the original included no cream or alcohol.

The recipe was for a restaurant size portion but I used a third of the quantities to make 6 or 7 big portions.

Tiramisu finished dish

Tiramisu finished dish

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 160 g sugar
  • 330 g mascarpone
  • Up to 20 Savoiardi biscuits¬†¬†(also known as ladyfingers)
  • Enough strong unsweetened espresso coffee (ristretto) to dip the biscuits in, allowed to cool
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder to dust the top
Tiramisu ingredients

Tiramisu ingredients

Whip the egg yolks together with the sugar until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is stiff.

Tiramisu egg yolks and sugar

Tiramisu egg yolks and sugar

Fold in the mascarpone.

Tiramisu folding in the marsapone

Tiramisu folding in the marsapone

Dip half of the biscuits into the coffee. Be careful not to make them too wet as they will disintegrate. Arrange them in a single layer in a dish. Roberto recommends a round one.

Tiramisu dipping the biscuits

Tiramisu dipping the biscuits

Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the biscuit.

Tiramisu first layer with cream

Tiramisu first layer with cream

Repeat to form a second layer.

Tiramisu second layer without cream

Tiramisu second layer without cream

Dust the top liberally with cocoa powder.

Tiramisu dusted with cocoa

Tiramisu dusted with cocoa

Chill the dish in the fridge for several hours, preferably overnight.


Bergamo style Casoncelli

Casonsei alla Bergamasca. When I lived in Bergamo we used to drive up into the mountains once or twice a year to eat polenta taragna. The starter was invariably casoncelli, or casonsei in the bergamasco dialect. Slightly sweet filled pasta dressed with sage and pancetta.  Makes a generous 8 servings.

Casoncelli finished dish

Casoncelli finished dish

For the pasta:-

  • 400 g 00 flour
  • 100 g durum wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
Mix together all the ingredients along with enough water to make a dough. Knead until smooth. Let it rest for half an hour or so and then roll out into reasonably thick sheets. A hand cranked pasta machine will be a great help with this.
Casoncelli filling ingredients

Casoncelli filling ingredients

For the filling:-

  • 125 g dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 70 g grated grana
  • 150 g sausage meat or minced pork
  • 100 g cooked roast beef
  • 1 amaretti biscuit
  • 10 g sultanas
  • 1/2 medium pear
  • Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Chop all the ingredients together in a food processor to make a smooth paste.
Method 1
This method is used by people who need to prepare large quantities.
Cut the sheet of pasta in half lengthways.
Casoncelli pasta

Casoncelli pasta

Place a teaspoon of the filling at regular interval at regular intervals along the strip of pasta.
Casoncelli pasta with filling

Casoncelli pasta with filling

Fold over the pasta and press down to seal. Try to exclude as much air as possible to avoid them bursting when cooked.
Casoncelli folded pasta

Casoncelli folded pasta

Separate the pasta using a round pastry cutter. You should have a half moon shape.
Casoncelli half moons

Casoncelli half moons

Turn the half moon on its side and flatten it a little with your thumb.
Casoncelli shaped

Casoncelli shaped

Method 2
This method takes a little longer, but is a little easier if you haven’t had a bit of practice.
Cut out 7 cm discs of pasta using a pastry cutter. Place a teaspoon of filling in the centre of each disc. Fold over and seal to form a half moon shape. Continue as in method 1.
Cook the casoncelli in plenty of salted water. Meanwhile fry the pancetta and sage in the butter until it is well flavoured. Serve the pasta dressed in the butter and topped with the grana.
Casoncelli dressing

Casoncelli dressing

To dress the pasta:-

  • 80 g butter
  • 100 g cubed pancetta
  • 100 g grated grana
  • A few sage leaves