Pan brioche

 

Pan brioche finished dish1 (Medium)

Pan brioche. This is a nice, versatile recipe, similar to the French brioche. The sweet version is perfect for an Italian breakfast with a cappuccino, and the savoury version is good for almost every other occasion. Use your favourite jam for the sweet version, and your favourite type of ham and cheese for the savoury version. Many thanks to Michaela for the recipe.

Pan brioche ingredients (Medium)

  • 500g oo flour
  • 70g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white (use the yolk to brush the brioche)
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 cube fresh yeast, or 1 sachet of dried.
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 250ml lukewarm milk
  • Mozzarella, smoked mozzarella (scamorza), or any cheese you prefer.
  • Ham, raw ham (prosciutto crudo) or speck. Jam for the sweet version.

Pan brioche ready to mix (Medium)

 

Dissolve the yeast in the milk. Mix together with all the other ingredients.

Pan brioche mixed (Medium)

Knead the mixture until smooth, about 10 minutes.

Pan brioche kneaded (Medium)

Divide the dough into two parts and roll each half into rectangle about 5mm thick. Top with the cheese and ham.

Pan brioche with speck and scamorza (Medium)

Spread with jam for the sweet version.

Pan brioche with jam (Medium)

Roll up and brush with egg yolk, sprinkle the sweet version with sugar.

Pan brioche ready to rise (Medium)

Leave to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours.

Pan brioche risen (Medium)

Bake at 180°C for 25-30 minutes.

Pan brioche baked (Medium)

 

 

 

 

Genovese Ragù

Genovese finished dish

Genovese finished dish

Napoli crestThis dish, paradoxically, is from Naples. It is a bit of an institution there. Many families cook it for Sunday lunch. It is a type of “white” ragù, that is it is cooked for a long time without tomatoes. It will taste even better if you make it the day before, and heat it up before serving. It is usually served with ziti, broken in half, but any tubular pasta, such as penne or rigatoni will do. Some versions cook the beef as a whole piece, and serve the meat as the main course, but this recipe cooks it until it breaks down into the sauce.
The origins of the name are a bit of a mystery. Some say it was first prepared in the port of Naples, where it was popular with sailors from Genoa. Others say it is a dish originally prepared by cooks from Genoa.

Genovese ingredients

Genovese ingredients

  • 500 g beef (topside or rump)
  • 450 g onions
  • 60 g celery
  • 60 g carrots
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 litre beef stock

Finely chop the carrots and celery and thinly slice the onions.

Genovese chopped veg

Genovese chopped veg

Chop the beef into large cubes.

Genovese meat

Genovese meat

Saute the carrot and celery for a few minutes in a pan big enough to take all the beef.

Genovese browning veg

Genovese browning veg

When they have taken some colour, turn down the heat and add the onions. Stir With a wooden spoon until the onions have softened.

Genovese onions

Genovese onions

Add the beef, rosemary and bay leaf. Cook over a very low heat for at least 3 hours. Check every half and hour or so, and add a little stock if it starts to get dry.

Genovese adding beef

Genovese adding beef

After 3 hours add the rest of the stock and continue cooking until the beef has completely disintegrated and the sauce is thick and tasty.

Genovese end of cooking

Genovese end of cooking

Serve with ziti, snapped in half before cooking.

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.

Red wine risotto

Risotto al Vino Rosso. You need to use a good, full bodied red wine – the best you can afford. The basic rule applies. If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it 🙂 I used a Primitivo di Maduria , but next time I’m flush, I’ll try it with a Barolo.

Red wine risotto ingredients

Red wine risotto ingredients

Serves 4

  • 400g risotto rice
  • 2 glasses full bodied red wine
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • About 1 1/2 litres vegetable sock
  • 40g parmesan, grated
  • 25g butter
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Fry the onion in the olive oil until they start to become transparent.
  2. Add the rice and stir for few moments.
  3. Add the red wine and cook over a medium heat, stirring all the time, until the wine has been absorbed.
  4. Add a ladle of hot stock and continue cooking as per the standard risotto recipe.
  5. When the rice is cooked al dente , remove from the heat, season and stir in the butter and parmesan.
  6. Allow to rest for a few minutes before serving.
Red wine risotto

Red wine risotto

Carbonara – Authentic recipe

Lazio crestFrom Lazio.  What is Carbonara? If You ask an Englishman they’ll probably tell you it’s a dish prepared with cream and ham! Nooooooo!!!!! 😉 More crimes against Italian food have been committed under the name of Carbonara than any other dish.
So, in an attempt to set the records straight, I present the authentic recipe (as deposited in the archive of Acadamia Italiana della Cucina). No cream! No ham! And don’t you dare cook the eggs! 🙂 Serves 6.

  • 600 grams spaghetti or bucatini
  • 120 grams guanciale or pancetta — diced or cut into strips
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 medium eggs (very fresh)
  • 100 grams mixed Parmesan and pecorino Romano (or all pecorino) — grated
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Cook the guanciale in a pan along with the whole peeled garlic clove and a little oil, until the guanciale is well coloured. Discard the garlic.
  2. Beat the eggs in a bowl with a little of the cheese and a pinch of salt.
  3. Cook the pasta until al dente, drain and add to the pan with the guanciale.
  4. Lower the heat to a minimum and add the egg mixture. Mix well. Be careful not to let the eggs set. If the dish is a little dry, beat in a little of the pasta cooking water. This is not mentioned by the academy, but some people say it’s essential for the “creaminess” of the sauce.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the rest of the cheese. Mix again and serve immediately.

Here’s a quote from Kate/Susan over at Kate, Katie, Susan, Sue who cooked the recipe as part of an Italian evening.

“That carbonara was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, certainly the best pasta dish I’ve ever eaten. I would rank it above lasagna in my estimation.”

And this one’s from Cui at Equipoised.

The bottom line… carbonara typically feels too heavy and sickening after a while because of the addition of cream (an American adulteration). The egg way produces a much lighter, more palatable dish. And it was really the best carbonara I’ve ever had, ever. I tend to serially order carbonara at Italian restaurants because it is by far my favourite pasta, and I’ve had a lot of carbonara, but I feel like I can’t have it with cream any more after trying this.

Spaghetti amatriciana

Lazio crestSpaghetti all’ amatriciana. From Lazio. This is another Italian classic. Pasta with pancetta (or guanciale if you want to be really authentic), tomatoes and chilli. It is more traditionally served with bucatini, but is just as often served with spaghetti. Serves 4.

Spaghetti amatriciana ingredients

Spaghetti amatriciana ingredients

  • 360 grams Spaghetti
  • 100 grams pancetta — cubed
  • 1 onion — thinly sliced
  • 500 grams tomatoes — peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 fresh (or dried) chilli — seeded and chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese to serve (optional)
  1. Grease a flameproof casserole with oil, add the pancetta and cook over a low heat until the fat starts to run.
  2. Add the onion and cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the tomatoes and chilli, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook for about 40 minutes. If it looks like drying out, add a little water.
  4. Serve with the cooked spaghetti.
Spaghetti amatriciana finished dish

Spaghetti amatriciana finished dish

Spaghetti with tuna

Spaghetti con il tonno. This is a good store cupboard standby. Serves 4

Spaghetti with tuna ingredients

Spaghetti with tuna ingredients

  • 360 grams spaghetti
  • 1 clove garlic — peeled
  • 80 grams tin of tuna — drained and flaked
  • 3 tablespoons concentrated tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the garlic, cook until browned and remove and discard.
  2. Add the tuna and mix well.
  3. Loosen the tomato puree with a couple of tablespoons of warm water and add to the pan and stir well. Cook over a low heat for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve with the cooked spaghetti.
Spaghetti with tuna finished dish

Spaghetti with tuna finished dish

Farfalle with pancetta

Farfalle alla pancetta. Serves 4.

  • 360 g farfalle
  • 100 g smoked pancetta, diced
  • 250 g tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 fresh chilli (or dried), seeded and chopped
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 25 g parmesan cheese, grated
  • olive oil
  1. Heat a little oil in a pan. Add the pancetta and chilli and cook until the pancetta is lightly browned.
  2. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and cook over a low heat for around 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to minimum and stir in the cream. Cook very gently until the sauce starts to thicken – about 5 minutes.
  3. Cook the pasta, drain and add to the sauce. Cook for 30 seconds or so, stirring all the time, to allow the pasta to take up the sauce.
  4. Serve topped with the parmesan.

Spaghetti with raw tomatoes

Spaghetti al pomodoro crudo. This is a really good dish for a hot summer’s day. It’s only worth doing if you can find really ripe, tasty tomatoes though. If all you can find are the usual UK supermarket version ie. hard as a golf ball and flavourless – don’t bother 😉 Serves 4.

  • 360g spaghetti
  • 500g ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic,peeled
  • salt and pepper
  1. Put the tomatoes into a large bowl along with the oil, whole garlic and basil. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
  2. Cover and leave in a cool place to allow the flavours to develop – at least 1 hour but the longer you can leave it the better. Remove the garlic before serving.
  3. Cook the spaghetti until al dente, drain and mix with the sauce.

Spaghetti with courgettes

Spaghetti con le zucchine. Serves 4

  • 360g spaghetti
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 small onion,peeled
  • 2 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 stick celery
  • 3 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 350g courgettes, thinly sliced
  • 150g mozzarella, diced finely
  • 25g parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • Heat the oil in a pan. Add the whole garlic clove, the whole onion, the sage leaves and the stick of celery and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and increase the heat to medium. When boiling add the courgettes. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook for around 15 minutes.
  • Remove the garlic, onion, celery and sage and discard.
  • Cook the spaghetti, drain and the toss first with the sauce, then the mozzarella and finally with the parmesan.

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

Fusilli with mushrooms

Fusilli Ai Funghi. This dish works best if you use a mix of different types of mushrooms. To all my Czech wild mushroom hunter friends – this is the perfect recipe :-). It works with any type however, and on this occasion I cooked it with standard field mushrooms. Serves 4.

  • 320g fusilli
  • 800g mushrooms (as many different types as possible), chopped
  • 250g tomatoes (tinned, pasatta or fresh – skinned seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 sprig parsley, chopped
  • parmesan cheese, optional
  • 1 knob butter, optional
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

 

  1. Wash and chop the mushrooms. How finely you chop them depends on taste and the varieties you are using. I could only get standard field mushrooms, so I chopped them quite finely.
  2. Fry the onion and mushrooms in olive oil until the mushrooms start to release their liquid.
  3. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook over a low heat for 45 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the parsley.
  5. Cook the fusilli in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and toss with a knob of butter (optional).
  6. Mix the pasta with the mushroom sauce and serve with parmesan cheese on the side.

 

 

 

 

Bavette with fresh herbs

Bavette Al Prezzemolo. This is a really nice, fresh tasting, summer dish. I first had it over ten years ago in Bergamo and have only just got around to tracking down the recipe.
Serves 4

  • 320 grams bavette
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • a small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • a small bunch of basil, finely chopped

  1. Heat plenty of oil in a pan, add the garlic and cook over a medium heat until it is well coloured.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the herbs. Leave to infuse for a minute or so.
  3. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and mix well.
  4. Variation: You can use other fresh herbs eg. mint, chives, dill etc. Whatever you fancy. Don’t try it with dried though.

Broad beans and wild chicory

Altamura crestFave e cicorie. This is one of the most traditional and most loved dishes from Puglia. The recipe varies from town to town and even from family to family.  Many thanks to Grazia from Altamura for her recipe.  I don’t know if ‘wild’  chicory is available outside Italy, but if you can find it, this dish is well worth trying.

Serves 4.

  • 200 grams dried peeled broad beans — soaked overnight
  • 1 onion, peeled
  • 1 stick celery
  • 3 cherry tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 700g wild chicory, washed and separated into individual stems.
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Olive oil

  1. Add the beans, onion, bayleaf, tomatoes and celery to an earthenware pot and cover with two fingers of water.
  2. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook very slowly until the beans are very tender – at least 2 hours. The water should have been completely absorbed at the end of cooking.
  3. Remove the onion, celery, and bayleaf. Mash the beans with a wooden spoon while adding a trickle of olive oil. Season with salt.
  4. Meanwhile boil the chicory in plenty of salted water until tender and drain.
  5. Add olive oil and garlic to a pan and cook until softened.
  6. Dress the chicory with the garlic oil.
  7. Serve on individual plates, arranging the beans on one side and the chicory on the other.
  8. Dress with a little more olive oil before serving.
    Variations:

  1. Grazia likes to grate the onion and celery and incorporate them in the puree.
  2. In some places potatoes are cooked along with the beans.
  3. Dress with a little chilli oil before serving (olio santo)

Red pepper and aubergine carbonara

Serves 4.

Red pepper and aubergine carbonara ingredients

  • 320g gnocchetti di sardi
  • 1 medium red pepper, cut anto small dice
  • 1 medium aubergine, cut into small dice
  • 1 stick celery, cut into small dice
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 1 whole small chilli
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 80g parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Fry the pepper, aubergine, celery, garlic cloves marjoram and chilli in half the olive oil for about 15 minute.
  2. Remove from the heat and discard the garlic and chilli. Keep warm
  3. Beat together the eggs, cheese and the rest of the oil.
  4. Cook the pasta until al dente
  5. Add the drained pasta to the vegetables and mix well
  6. Finally, add the egg mixture and stir thoroughly.

Red pepper and aubergine carbonara