Bagna 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
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):-
potatoes cooked in their skins and then peeled
Peppers roasted and peeled or raw
Onions boiled or baked
Jerusalem artichokes (raw or cooked))
Cauliflower (raw or cooked)
Small globe artichoke
Small whole mushrooms
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.
Fiori di zucca fritti. Courgette flowers are just starting to become available in markets in the UK, however, I wouldn’t attempt this dish unless you can get them really fresh. If you grow your own courgettes, you’re laughing . I am growing them in pots on my balcony this year so this recipe will get a lot of use.
Flower on the plant
To trim, if they are male flowers they will have a straight stalk, trim the ends if needed, gently open up the flower and pinch out the stamens. If they are female flowers they will have a courgette attached. If it is a baby, cut it into 4, but leave it attached to the flower, otherwise detach the flower. Serves 4
12 courgette flowers, trimmed
For the batter
350g 00 flour
400 ml cold water
A large pinch of salt
Mix together the flour, water and salt. Add enough water to get a consistency of single cream. Leave to rest for an hour or so.
Fried cougette flowers batter
Dip the flowers in the batter and deep fry until they are lightly brown
Fried courgette flowers frying
Drain on kitchen paper, season with salt and serve immediately.