Bellini – Authentic recipe

Bellini finished dish

Bellini finished dish

Venezia crestThe Bellini is another one of those recipes which is far better known in the USA than it is in Italy. The original recipe is authentically Italian however.  Barmen over the years have added various ingredients, peach schnapps etc., but the original is extremely simple, and in my opinion better.  It was invented by Giuseppe Cipriani  at Harry’s Bar in Venice in the 1930s . It is named after Giovanni Bellini, a fifteenth century Venetian painter. Being Italian, it should be made with Prosecco, not Champagne, but you can use Champagne if you can’t find any of the good stuff 😉

Bellini ingredients

Bellini ingredients

  • Ripe white peaches (never yellow)
  • Prosecco (Spumante has more bubbles than Frizzante, use whichever you prefer)

Peel the peaches and remove the stones. The recommended method is to grate the flesh and then pass it through a sieve. I use a hand cranked food mill, sometimes known as a mouli. A food processor is said to aerate the purée too much. If it isn’t sweet enough for you, you can add sugar or simple syrup at this stage.

Put the purée in the freezer until it is almost frozen, but still soft.

Bellini frozen peach puree

Bellini frozen peach purée

Put a few spoons of purée into an iced glass. You can use a straight glass, or a champagne flute. Top up with iced Prosecco. Gently stir to mix the two ingredients. The proportions should be one part peach to three parts Prosecco.

Torta Pasqualina

 Torta pasqualina finished dish

Torta pasqualina finished dish

LiguriaTorta Pasqualina or Easter Monday pie is a very popular dish to have today that has its origins in Liguria. Easter Monday is traditionally a day for picnics and this is often one of the things taken along. This is a slightly simplified version as it uses pre prepared puff pastry. It’s good to know that doctors no longer say eating cholesterol is bad for you as it includes at least 10 eggs. Serves at least 6.

  • 500g puff pastry
  • 500g swiss chard or spinach, stalks removed
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 80g of parmesan or pecorino romano (or a mixture of both)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh marjoram or parsley
  • 10  eggs
  • 300g ricotta, passed through a sieve to remove lumps
  • 1 tbsp of single cream
  •  Olive oil
 Torta pasqualina ingredients

Torta pasqualina ingredients

Put the swiss chard, the onion and 2 tbsp of oil into a saucepan. Season with salt and people and cook over a medium heat until the chard is completely wilted. Allow to cool and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

 Torta pasqualina wilting chard

Torta pasqualina wilting chard

Chop finely and transfer to a bowl. Add an egg, 50g of cheese and the marjoram or parsley and mix well.

Torta pasqualina filling

Torta pasqualina filling

In another bowl mix together the ricotta, the cream, 2 eggs and 30g of cheese.

 Torta pasqualina assembling pie

Torta pasqualina assembling pie

Roll out 2/3 of the pastry and use it to line an oiled cake tin. Make a layer with the chard. Cover with the ricotta. Crack 6 eggs, regularly spaced onto the surface.

 Torta pasqualina ready for the oven

Torta pasqualina ready for the oven

Roll out the remaining 1/3 of the pastry and use it to close the pie. Trim off the excess pastry and fold over and crimp the edges to seal. Brush with olive oil and bake at 180 °c for 45 minutes.

 Torta pasqualina after baking

Torta pasqualina after baking

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 tiramesù 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.


Fried sage leaves

Salvia fritta in pastella. From Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Around Italy the styles of eating vary quite considerably for a large meal. The basic form doesn’t change, how could it? 🙂 The unalterable form is Apperitvi, Antipasti, Primi, Secondi, Dolce, Caffe. What does change from region to region is the emphasis placed on each course. For example in Bergamo the bars compete to have the best apperitivi and you may be presented with a large selection. Here in Bari the antipasto is king. If you order the house antipasto you may be presented with up to twenty small dishes. Luckily you are not always expected to continue to primi, secondi etc. Bring your appetite with you if you go to a wedding though.

Fried sage leaves finished dish

Fried sage leaves finished dish

Sage plant

Sage plant

This recipe is from the north however. My sage plant is getting very big and I wanted a way to use it.

Fried sage leaves batter ingredients

Fried sage leaves batter ingredients

  • 20 g of large fresh sage leaves
  • 125 ml beer. A lager would be best.
  • 100 g oo flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • The white of 1 egg
  • Oil for frying
Washed sage leaves

Washed sage leaves

Wash the sage leaves well and dry them on kitchen paper.
Fried sage leaves batter

Fried sage leaves batter

Put the flour in a bowl and add the chilled beer. Add the oil and a large pinch of salt. Mix it together with a whisk until it is smooth. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

Fried sage leaves egg white

Fried sage leaves egg white

Beat the egg white until you have stiff peaks. Add a pinch of salt and carefully fold it into the batter.

Dip the sage leaves into the batter and fry then in hot oil turning once. When they are golden brown, remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper. Serve immediately.


Chocolate salami

Versions of this dish are popping up all over the place at the moment. I don’t know the exact origin, but it is definitely not traditional. I had some a while back in a local restaurant and was under orders from Mariella to cook it at home 🙂 She even provided the hazelnuts from a tree in her garden. I prefer to leave the biscuits in quite large pieces. It would look more like salami if the pieces were smaller, but I like the texture like this. This would keep very well in the freezer. I don’t know how many this serves, but it is quite heavy, so lots.
Chocolate salami finished dish

Chocolate salami finished dish

  • 300 g plain biscuits
  • 150 g unsalted butter
  • 200 g plain chocolate
  • 100 g hazelnuts
  • 2 tablespoons of brandy or rum
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g sugar
Chocolate salami ingredients

Chocolate salami ingredients

Break the biscuits into small pieces. I used a type called Saiwa Oro which are readily available here, but you can see from the picture what type to aim for.

Chocolate salami biscuits

Chocolate salami biscuits

Lightly roast the hazelnuts and rub them together to try and remove as much of the skin as possible. Put them in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin.

Chocolate salami hazlenuts

Chocolate salami hazlenuts

Make sure the butter is at room temperature and whisk it lightly by hand. Add the eggs and whisk it some more. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie. When the chocolate is smooth, add it to the butter and egg mixture. Make sure it is not too hot or the eggs will curdle. Add the brandy or rum. If you want to make an alcohol free version, use rum essence. Add the hazelnuts and mix well. Add the biscuits and mix again. When the biscuits are well covered by the chocolate, turn the mixture out onto a large square of greaseproof paper. Form it into a rough salami shape.

Chocolate salami mix on greaseproof paper

Chocolate salami mix on greaseproof paper

Bring the greaseproof paper up at the sides to make a sausage shape. Twist the paper together at the ends so you get a compact salami shape.

Chocolate salami ready for the fridge

Chocolate salami ready for the fridge

Cover the roll in aluminium foil and put in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Chocolate salami with icing sugar

Chocolate salami with icing sugar

Unwrap and slice the roll reasonably thinly to serve. Lightly dust the plate with icing sugar if you like.


Limoncello granita

This is a very untraditional version of lemon granita. Limoncello is traditionally made in the south of Italy in the “toe” of the “boot” and is now very popular here and elsewhere. I once looked up the recipe when I was in England and it started with the line “Take one litre of 98% abv alcohol”! This is definitely an adult dessert. It has the advantage of being even easier that the regular lemon granita because it remains soft in the freezer. Serves 6 or more.

Limoncello granita finished dish

Limoncello granita finished dish

  • 500 ml water
  • 125 g sugar (white or brown)
  • 50 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 125 ml limoncello
Linoncello granita ingredients

Linoncello granita ingredients

Put the sugar in a pan with the cold water. Bring to the boil, stirring a couple of times until the sugar has dissolved then leave to boil for 5 minutes.

Limoncello granita syrup

Limoncello granita syrup

Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Stir in the lemon juice and limoncello.

Limoncello granita ready to freeze

Limoncello granita ready to freeze

Pour into a wide shallow dish and freeze for 1 hour until ice crystals start to form. Remove from the freezer and scrape the frozen bits back into the mixture.

Limoncello granita starting to freeze

Limoncello granita starting to freeze

Return to the freezer and repeat every 30 minutes or so until the granita is frozen, with a fluffy, crystalline texture. Spoon into dishes and serve straight away.

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

Puglia style meatloaf

Polpettone pugliese. This is another recipe that I cook a lot. Other recipes cook the meatloaf in a tomato sauce, but this one roasts it dry. It uses minced veal, but if you can’t find it then minced beef will be fine. Italians don’t use the crated “white” variety anyway, so the veal is very pink. This is often served with roast potatoes. Serves 6.

Meatloaf ingredients

Meatloaf ingredients

  • 800 g minced veal
  • 2 stale bread rolls
  • 3 eggs
  • 100 g grated parmesan or pecorino
  • Milk
  • Olive oil
  1. Break the bread rolls into small pieces and moisten with some milk.
  2. Mix together all the ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Form into a loaf and bake for 30 minutes at 200°C.
  4. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for a few minutes before slicing.
Meatloaf finished dish

Meatloaf finished dish

Coffee granita

From Sicily. After lemon, this is one of the most popular flavours of granita. It is often served with a dollop of cream on top.

Coffee granita ingredients

Coffee granita ingredients

  • 150 g sugar
  • 500 ml water
  • 4 cups espresso coffee
  1. Make a syrup by heating the water and sugar until it starts to boil.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the coffee. Allow to cool.
  3. Put into a freezer proof container and place in the freezer.
  4. Take it out of the freezer every hour or so and whisk it to break up the larger ice crystals.
  5. When it is fully frozen it is ready.
Coffee granita finished dish

Coffee granita 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

Ragu alla Bolognese – Authentic recipe

Bologna crestIn truth there probably isn’t one authentic recipe for Ragu alla Bolognese, but this one is close enough. There are however countless inauthentic ones. It bears little or no resemblance to the dish known as Bolognese or Bolognaise found outside of Italy. It is also never served with Spaghetti!

On October 17, 1982, the Bolognese chapter of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, “after having carried out long and laborious investigations and conducted studies and research”, announced the following recipe to be the official one. I’m sure that every family in Emilia Romagna has their own version though. Serves 4.

  • 400 grams fresh tagliatelle or fettucine
  • 300 grams minced beef – The recommended cut is thin flank aka skirt (finta cartella in Italian) but any good quality mince will do.
  • 150 grams unsmoked pancetta — minced very finely
  • 50 grams carrot — finely chopped or minced
  • 50 grams celery — finely chopped or minced
  • 50 grams onion — finely chopped or minced
  • 30 grams triple concentrated tomato purée(if using double concentrated, increase the quantity by about a third,  purée is known as “tomato paste” in the US)
  • 1/2 glass red or white wine
  • 180 ml fresh milk
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Fry the pancetta gently in a little olive oil until it starts to release its fat. Be careful not to burn.
  2. Add the vegetables and fry until the onions are transparent, stirring from time to time.
  3. Add the beef and cook until it is lightly browned. When it starts to make popping noises, it’s done.
  4. Add the tomato puree and the wine and mix well.
  5. Add the milk, little by little until it is completely absorbed.
  6. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook very slowly for 3 to 4 hours.
  7. Stir occasionally and if it looks like drying out, add a little more milk.
  8. Serve with Fettuccine or Tagliatelle (NOT Spaghetti!)
  9. Serve with Parmesan cheese on the side. Alternatively toss the pasta first in a little butter and then in Parmesan before adding the meat sauce.
  • Variation: The Academy allows the addition of Porcini mushrooms.
Bolognese finished dish

Bolognese finished dish

This is a more detailed explanation of the dish from Bologna Cooking School

A ragu Bolognese style is a meat sauce that is slow simmered for at least an hour to develop a complex flavor and proper thickness. Cooking the ragu in a heavy-duty enamel or similar pot will hold the heat steady and help to give a velvety texture to the ragu. Bolognese ragu is a classic sauce for lasagne and tagliatelle. The sauce also freezes beautifully.

Bolognese sauce (ragù alla bolognese in Italian) is a meat- and tomato-based pasta sauce originating in Bologna, Italy. It is typically made by simmering ground meat in tomato sauce, white wine, and stock for a long time (often upward of four hours), so that the meat softens and begins to break down into the liquid medium. The original sauce is not done with minced meat; instead, whole meat, usually beef or veal, is chopped with a knife.
Spaghetti alla Bolognese, or spaghetti bolognese which is sometimes further shortened to spag bol, is a dish invented outside of Italy consisting of spaghetti with a meat sauce. In Italy, this sauce is generally not served with spaghetti because it tends to fall off the pasta and stay on the plate. Instead, the people of Bologna traditionally serve their famous meat sauce with tagliatelle (‘tagliatelle alla bolognese). Outside the traditional use, this sauce can be served with tubular pasta or represent the stuffing for lasagna or cannelloni.

While “Bolognese” is undoubtedly the most popular ragù in this country, it is also the most misunderstood.
The ragù you get by that name is usually a characterless tomato sauce with pea-like bits of ground beef floating in it, bearing little resemblance to anything you’d find in Bologna.
And not, in any sense, a ragù.
True ragù alla Bolognese contains no tomato sauce — just enough fresh or canned tomato to add a hint of sweetness and another layer of flavor to a subtle, complex mix. Like all ragùs, Bolognese is characterized by its long, slow cooking, which in this case starts with simmering the meat in milk (to mellow the acidity of the raw tomatoes added later) and wine (some use white, others red), after which the tomatoes are added. The whole lot is cooked together for about two hours

Cream of celery soup

Crema di sedano.  Serves 4.

celery soup ingredients

celery soup ingredients

  • 1 litre stock (vegetable or meat)
  • 25g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 400g celery, chopped
  • 3 medium potatoes, diced
  • 50ml milk
  • salt
  • parmesan cheese
  1. Heat the butter and oil in a pan, add the celery and onion and cook for a few minutes, stirring from time to time.
  2. Pour in the stock, add the potatoes, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
  3. Puree using a stick blender until smooth. Warm the milk, remove the soup from the heat, stir in the milk.
  4. Serve with parmesan cheese.
celery soup finished dish

celery soup finished dish

Tagliatelle with lemon

Tagliatelle al limone. Serves 4

tagliatelle with lemon ingredients

tagliatelle with lemon
  • 400 grams  fresh tagliatelle
  • zest of 3 lemons — grated
  • 50   grams  butter
  • 50   grams  single cream
  • parmesan cheese
  • salt
  1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan until it starts to foam
  2. Add the zest from 2 of the lemons. When the butter is well flavoured with the zest, remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Season with salt to taste.
  3. Cook the tagliatelle, drain and add to the Lemon sauce. Mix gently.
  4. Turn out onto a warmed serving dish. Sprinkle on the zest of the third lemon and plenty of parmesan.

Note: Use unwaxed lemons for this dish – see comments.

Taglietelle with lemon

Tagliatelle with sausage and vegetable ragu

Serves 4

tagliatelle with sausage and vegetable ragu ingredients

  •   500 grams  fresh tagliatelle
  •   1      medium  carrot — roughly chopped
  •   1      stick  celery — roughly chopped
  •   1      medium  red onion — roughly chopped
  •   1      medium  courgette — diced
  •   400 grams  italian sausage — skinned
  •   2      tablespoons  cream
  •   1      glass  red wine
  •           olive oil
  •           salt
  •           parmesan cheese to serve
  1. Fry the carrot, celery and onion in a little olive oil for a few minutes.l
  2. Add the courgettes and cook for a few minutes longer.
  3. Add the sausage and mix well. Season with salt and fry for a few minutes
  4. Add the wine and allow it to partially evaporate.
  5. Reduce the heat and cook for a further 20 mins
  6. Remove from the heat and add the cream
  7. Serve with tagliatelle and parmesan.

taglatelle with sausage and vegetable ragu finished dish

Polpette with Gorgonzola

I struggled to find an English translation of polpette. I don’t think ‘burger’  or, even worse ‘rissole’, quite do it justice. In the end I left it in Italian. I’m sure you’ll get the idea 🙂

Serves 4

polpette with gorgonzola ingredients

  400 g veal — minced (or beef)
2 medium onions
100 g fresh bread crumbs
2 eggs
100 g  Gorgonzola cheese
   milk
olive oil
flour
Grana cheese

  1. Moisten the breadcrumbs with a little milk
  2. Fry the onion in some oil for a few minutes.
  3. To make the polpette, mix together the veal, bread crumbs, onions, eggs and a little Grana. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Form into ‘burger’ shapes
  5. Dust with flour and fry in olive oil (or a mix of oil and butter) turning them a couple of times
  6. When they are cooked, lower the heat, place a slice of Gorgonzola on each polpetta  and cover the pan
  7. Allow the Gorgonzola to melt  and then serve

polpette with gorgonzola finished dish