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.

Inspector Montalbano’s Arancini

Arancini finished dish

Arancini finished dish

Coat_of_arms_of_SicilyInspector Montalbano is a popular fictional Sicilian police detective, created by Andrea Camilleri. The stories are set in the small town of Vigata¬†, and, being Italian, feature food quite prominently. In the story Inspector Montelbano’s Arancini (Gli arancini di Montalbano), the famous Sicilian dish is used as a plot device. Does the inspector want to leave Sicily to be with his girlfriend in Paris, or does he want to stay and eat his housekeeper Adelina’s¬†arancini. I won’t tell you what he decides, but you can probably guess ūüėČ My father is a fan of the books, and he is fond of arancini when he visits me, so I decided to recreate this recipe from the book. The main differences between Adelina’s dish, and the more well known version is that she uses¬†b√©chamel sauce¬†instead of cheese. Also the rag√Ļ is made with whole pieces of meat, not mince.

For the rag√Ļ

  • 150g of reasonably fatty beef in one piece
  • 150g of reasonably fatty pork in one piece
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • a sprig of parsley
  • a few leaves of basil
  • 250ml of passata
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of tomato pur√©e
  • extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the risotto

  • 500g risotto rice
  • 1 small onion
  • oil and butter to taste
  • beef stock
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g of shelled peas (use fresh or frozen depending on the season)
  • 80g of spicy salami in a single piece
  • b√©chamel sauce made with 250ml of milk.
  • 2 eggs
  • breadcrumbs
  • oil for deep frying (traditionally olive oil, but you can use peanut oil or similar)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Arancini Rag√Ļ ingredients

Arancini Rag√Ļ ingredients

Fry the onion and celery gently in a little oil. Add the two pieces of meat and brown them on all sides.
Add the passata and tomato purée diluted in a little hot water. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, and adding more water if needed. Cook slowly for at least an hour and a half, longer if possible. Add the chopped parsley and basil, and cook for a further half an hour. This sauce can also be made in advance.

Arancini Rag√Ļ cooked

Arancini Rag√Ļ cooked

Make a classic risotto following the standard recipe, but without wine or cheese. It should be quite dry.  Montalbano is quiet clear that it should be without saffron.  (senza zaffirano, pi carità!)

 Arancini cooking risotto

Arancini cooking risotto

Tip the risotto out onto a marble slab (or a large tray), let it cool a little and then mix with a little of the tomato sauce and stir in the eggs. Let it cool completely. Put it into the fridge for about half an hour.

 Arancini risotto cooling

Arancini risotto cooling

Meanwhile, cook the peas in boiling salted water. Chop the meat with a mezzaluna or a knife. Montalbano forbids the use of a food processor ¬†(nenti frullatore, pi carit√† di Dio!)¬†ūüôā Mix some of the ¬†b√©chamel sauce with the peas and salami cut into small cubes. Add enough of the tomato sauce from the meat to make a fairly thick mixture.

Arancini mixed filling

Arancini mixed filling

Arancini forming

Arancini forming

Slightly dampen your hands and take some of the rice and roll it in the palm of your hand trying to make a sort of bowl. Put a spoonful of the rag√Ļ mixture in the middle. Cover with a little more rice and form it into a ball.You are aiming for about tennis ball size. Continue until you run out of rice. You probably won’t need all of the filling.

Arancini ready for coating

Arancini ready for coating

Put them in the fridge again for half an hour or so to firm up. Coat with egg, and then roll in bread crumbs.

Arancini ready for cooking

Arancini ready for cooking

Fry the arancini in hot oil (about 165¬įC) until they are golden brown. Drain on kitchen towels. They are best eaten hot, but are also good cold.

Arancini cooked

Arancini cooked

Swiss chard frittata

Swiss chard frittata finished dish

Swiss chard frittata finished dish

Frittata di bietole. This is one of the myriad¬†of¬†¬†recipes for frittate or Italian style omelettes. If you can’t find swiss chard, fresh spinach would be a good substitute.

Swiss chard frittata ingredients

Swiss chard frittata ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 kg of swiss chard, only the green leaves, use the stalks for something else.
  • 1 clove ¬†of garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • A handful of fresh marjoram leaves or about a teaspoon of dried (optional)
  • 100g of grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper
Swiss chard frittata prepared

Swiss chard frittata prepared

Fry the whole clove of garlic and the finely chopped onion gently in a little olive oil. After a few minutes, when the clove is lightly brown, remove it and discard. Add the chard and marjoram if used. Season with salt and pepper. Cook gently for a few minutes until the chard is completely wilted. You don’t have to add any water, the water left clinging to the leaves after washing should be enough.

Swiss chard frittata wilting chard

Swiss chard frittata wilting chard

Allow to cool and squeeze out as much water as possible. Mix together the lightly beaten eggs, the chard and the cheese.

Swiss chard frittata ready to cook

Swiss chard frittata ready to cook

Heat a large frying pan to a medium. Add a couple of table spoons of oil an add the egg mixture. Fry until the top has started to set.

Swiss chard frittata ready to turn

Swiss chard frittata ready to turn

Flip the frittata by placing a large plate on top. Turn out onto the plate and then slide back into the pan. Finish off for a couple of minutes. Can be eaten hot or cold.

Swiss chard frittata finished dish

Swiss chard frittata finished dish

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 ¬įc for 45 minutes.

 Torta pasqualina after baking

Torta pasqualina after baking

Eggs mimosa

Eggs mimosa finished dish

Eggs mimosa finished dish

Hard boiled eggs are of course an important symbol of Easter in Italy. They are often eaten as part of an Easter antipasto. This is one of the simplest, and in my opinion best recipes.

  • 6 hardboiled eggs
  • 6 anchovy fillets or 2 tablespoons anchovy paste
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • chopped¬†parsley¬†or chives
  • pepper
Eggs mimosa ingredients

Eggs mimosa ingredients

Halve the eggs and put the yolks in a bowl along with the anchovies and pepper to taste. Blend with a blender, adding the olive oil little by little, until you have a smooth paste. Fill the empty halves of the eggs with the mixture, sprinkle with parsley or chives and serve.

Eggs mimosa blending stuffing

Eggs mimosa blending stuffing

Bagna cauda

Bagna caoda fished dish

Bagna caoda fished dish

Piedmont-flagBagna ca√īda.From¬†Piemonte. The rough translation of title is “hot bath” , which in my opinion is always preferable to a cold one ūüôā 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.

Plum Cake

Plum Cake

Plum Cake

Plum Cake. You see this cake all over Italy. It is a type of sponge cake, baked in a loaf tin, similar to what is known as a loaf cake in the UK. In my¬†opinion Italy does most things to do with food extremely well. One possible exception is breakfast. It is usually just coffee and some variety of cake.¬†¬†The coffee is very good though ūüôā This is a very common breakfast cake. I haven’t translated the name. It always appears in English, although the¬†pronunciation is more ploomcake. It never, however, contains plums, or indeed any other kind of fruit. I have asked around, but nobody has any idea how it got its name.¬†If anybody knows, please let me know.

  • 200g icing sugar
  • 4 eggs, seperated
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 200g 00 flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • A few drops of vanilla essence
  • A pinch of salt
Plum Cake ingredients

Plum Cake ingredients

Beat the butter together with the sugar using a wooden spoon.

Plum Cake butter and sugar

Plum Cake butter and sugar

When they are combined, add the egg yolks and continue beating until you get a smooth mixture.

Plum Cake egg yolks

Plum Cake egg yolks

Whip the egg white, together with a pinch of salt, with an electric whisk until you get stiff peaks.

Plum Cake egg whites

Plum Cake egg whites

Gently fold in the egg whites, into the egg yolk mixture.

Plum Cake flour

Plum Cake flour

Gently fold in the flour, baking powder and the vanilla essence.

Plum Cake ready for the oven

Plum Cake ready for the oven

Grease a large loaf tin with butter and dust with flour. Pour in the mixture.

Plum Cake finished dish

Plum Cake finished dish

Bake at 170¬įc for 40-45 minutes. When a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, it is ready.

Baked mussels

Cozze ripiene gratinate. This is quite an unusual mussel recipe. Mussels baked on the half shell are a very common antipasto here, but this recipe treats them a bit like the French scallop dish coquilles saint-jacques. They are baked with white sauce, cheese and wine. Serves 4 as a main course, many more as part of an antipasto.

Baked mussels finished dish

Baked mussels finished dish

Baked mussels ingredients

Baked mussels ingredients

Clean the mussels well. Place them in a pan along with half the clove of garlic, a sprig of parsley and the wine. Open the mussels by placing the pan over a high heat. Drain the mussels and filter and reserve the cooking liquid. Remove them from their shells.

Baked mussels opened with cooking liquid

Baked mussels opened with cooking liquid

Mix the mussel meat with 2 tbsp of olive oil, a chopped sprig of parsley, the rest of the garlic, chopped and a tbsp of the cooking liquid. Season with pepper.

Baked mussels removed from their shells

Baked mussels removed from their shells

Place each mussel on a half shell.

Baked mussels on the half shell

Baked mussels on the half shell

Mix together the white sauce, the egg yolk and a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Top each shell with some of the mixture.

Baked mussels with white sauce

Baked mussels with white sauce

Sprinkle breadcrumbs on the top and bake at 190¬įc for 15 minutes.

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.


Meringues with chocolate ice cream

Meringhette al gelato di cioccolato. One story about the origin of meringues is that they were invented in the Swiss town of Meiringen by an Italian chef named Gasparini. I quite like this story as I am biased because I also have strong links to Switzerland ūüôā I needed to use up the egg whites left over from a Tiramisu so I did a bit of searching and came up with this from Sale & Pepe magazine. ¬†The idea came from the magazine, but the recipe for the meringues is slightly different as I wanted to be more precise with the measurements. The¬†quantities are one part caster sugar, one part icing sugar and one part egg white.¬†Serves 6

Meringues finished dish

Meringues finished dish

  • 400 g chocolate ice cream
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 120g icing sugar
  • 120g egg whites (about 4 eggs)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
Meringue ingredients

Meringue ingredients

Beat the egg whites and lemon juice with an electric whisk while gradually adding the caster sugar. When the mixture has risen and is shiny and quite dense, carefully fold in the icing sugar.

Meringue whipped egg white and sugar

Meringue whipped egg white and sugar

Make small meringues by placing  teaspoons of the mixture on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.

Meringues baked

Meringues baked

Bake at 90¬įC with the oven door propped open to allow the moisture to escape. It should take about an hour and a half.

When the meringues are ready, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool completely.

Serve them by making a sandwich with two meringues and some ice cream.

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 ūüôā 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.


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

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 ¬įC 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 ūüôā
Peppina at the party

Peppina at the party

Aubergine parmigiana

Parmigiana di melanzane. From Puglia. This is a really common dish here. It takes a bit of time to prepare, so it tends to be a celebration dish. It’s worth the effort though. Lots of people, even Jamie Oliver, assume it’s a northern dish because of it’s name. It is in fact named after the cheese not the city and is a southern dish.He also says to grill the aubergines rather than fry them. I’ve tried it this way and although the dish is¬†undoubtedly less calorific, ¬†I think the taste suffers considerably.¬† The dish is claimed by Puglia, Campania and Sicily and possibly other regions as their own. ¬†I’ve seen similar recipes from the states called “eggplant lasagne” even though it contains no b√©chamel sauce or … erm … lasagne. Even though it’s a¬†vegetarian¬†dish it’s quite heavy so I wouldn’t¬†recommend eating it too often. Serves at least 6 as a main course, many more as part of an antipasto.

Aubergine parmigiana

Aubergine parmigiana

  • 1.5 kg aubergines
  • 700 g tomato pulp or passata
  • 3 eggs
  • 100 g grated parmesan
  • 400 g mozzarella cut into small cubes
  • Flour
  • Basil, about 10 leaves torn into pieces
  • 1 clove of garlic, whole
  • Olive oil
  1. Wash and dry the aubergines. Slice into 5 mm rounds. Dust with flour. Dip in the eggs and fry for a minutes in olive oil. Drain on kitchen paper.
  2. Fry the clove of garlic in 4 table spoons of olive oil until it is brown. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the garlic.
  3. Cover the bottom of an oven proof dish with tomato sauce. Add a layer aubergines. Add a layer of mozzarella and then parmesan. Repeat until all the aubergine is used up. Finish with a layer of aubergines covered with tomato sauce and parmesan.
  4. Bake for 1 hour at 200¬įc. If the top starts to get too brown, cover it with aluminium foil.
Aubergine parmigiana finished dish

Aubergine parmigiana finished dish

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¬įC.
  4. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for a few minutes before slicing.
Meatloaf finished dish

Meatloaf finished dish