Tag Archives: italy

Movie review: A Trip to Italy

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan join up again to take a culinary tour in The Trip to Italy. A wonderfully entertaining film shot over 6 days and 6 restaurants.

The movie includes many impersonations, such as Michael Cain, characters from The Godfather, Batman, Michael Parkinson, Robert De Riro, Sean Connery in Bond, and The Italian Job among others. I wanted to watch The Godfather before seeing this film, so I got the scene better, but it doesn’t matter much. Some of the funniest scenes are the silly ones. The food looks just devine and at points it makes you want to join them, even though most of the places they stay and eat at are probably out of my price range. The scenery is just spectacular in places (think Liguria, Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi and Capri) and I bet you too will be envious of their trip.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and dare I say, I think it’s better then the first one.

100 recipes: Zucchini flowers

Best recipe
Crispy Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Ricotta and Mint – Jamie Oliver

About

Italian: Fiori di zucchini ripieni (stuffed zucchini flowers)

I’ve chosen this recipe as a bit of quirk – for something different. I’ve always wanted to try them but I’m yet to see them on a menu.

Zucchini flowers  are usually stuffed with a ricotta and herbs, dipped in a light batter and fried.

If you’ve ever grown zucchinis, you’ll know how quickly they multiply and so cooking the flowers or blossoms is a kind way of slowing production down. Pick flowers in the middle of the day, when they are fully open. If they’re male flowers it will have a stamen, whereas the females produce the fruit on the vine and they have pistils. Blossoms need to be eaten the same day they are picked or bought from the market (within hours is best).

To remove the stamens from the zucchini blossoms carefully insert your thumb and index finger into the flower without tearing it and pinch off the stamens
- Meera Freeman, Cooking Class

The batter should be the consistency of pouring cream.

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100 recipes: Tiramisu

Best recipe
Best tiramisu – Jean-Christophe Novelli

About

Italian: tiramisu

Tiramisu was first made in Venice in the 1970s.

The best tiramisu recipe nominated by Atul Kochhar is by Jean-Christophe Novelli and appears in his Your Place or Mine cookbook, as featured in the The Observer’s Top 50 favourite recipes.

This dish tastes better the next day as the time allows the sponge to absorb the flavours of the alcohol and coffee. When dipping the Savoiardi biscuits try not to soak them completely through as it will lead to puddles at the bottom of the bowl.

You can serve also them in individual dishes.

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100 recipes: Spaghetti bolognese

Best recipe
Best recipe: Tagliatelle with ragu (spaghetti bolognese) – Gustoso

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Spaghettti bolognese originates from the city of Bologna in Northern Italy. Spaghetti and tagliatelle will both take around 10-12 minutes to cook.

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100 recipes: Sorbet

Best recipe
Raspberry sorbet
– Gabriel Gate

About

Sorbet is an Italian iced dessert made with water, sugar and fruit, or wine or liqueur. It’s perfect to have in summer to cool yourself down on a hot day and quench your thirst. So many varieties, what is your favourite? Mine is a toss up between lemon and raspberry.

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100 recipes: Risotto

Best recipe
Best recipe: Risotto with sausage and borlotti beans – Gustoso
Adapted from Risotto with sausage and cranberry (borlotti) beans - Marcella Hazan, Marcella Cucina

About

Italian: Risotto alla Milanese

Risotto is a soft and creamy rice dish, with versions from Milan and Venice. It is eaten as a first course in Italy. The rice used is able to absorb liquid, while not becoming mushy.

One of the  best risotto recipe is Anna del Conte’s lemon risotto appears in her “Secrets from an Italian Kitchen” cookbook, as featured in The Observer’s Top 50 favourite recipes . Giorgo Locatelli’s white truffle risotto as served at Locanda Locatelli also features in The Observer’s Top 50 favourite recipes.

There are three types of rice used for risotto:

  • arborio – large grain and can be boiled
  • carnaroli – easy to cook grain that keeps it shape and texture. from Verona. good for seafood.
  • vialone nano – large rounded grain – gives an extra creamy, smooth risotto due to the high levels of starch. Good for strong flavours.

Elizabeth David writes “…there is a split-second in the cooking of the rice – just as for scrambled eggs – when the consistency is exactly right. It is neither too liquid nor too compact. It is light, every grain is separate although bound together in a homogeneous whole by the starch which has amalgamated with the cooking liquid.”

There are three traditional styles for cooking risotto: wet, baked and fried.

  1. A wet risotto is cooked on the stove top with the stock added gradually.
  2. A baked risotto is cooked on the stove top in stock and finished off in the oven. It is a timbale or pilaf which is cut and served in slices.
  3. A fried risotto is cooked in the oven like a pilaf until light and fluffy and then fried.

Risotto alla Milanese  should be made with real saffron and real stock. It is a traditional partner to osso bucco.

Elizabeth David advises to never “cook a risotto for a dinner party which had to be managed single-handed, because it is a bad dish to keep waiting.”

I’ve only ever had risotto once at a restaurant and I was so disappointed that it was undercooked that I’ve never attempted to order it again. Risotto is about the only thing that I can claim to still cook better than my husband!

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100 recipes: Ravioli

Best recipe
Osso bucco tortellini – Emma Knowles

About

Ravioli (little turnips) is an umbrella term for filled pasta and can include agnolotti (priest’s hats), tortellini (little tarts) and tortelloni. The pasta is then cooked in water or a stock.

As the pasta is time consuming, it is usually made for a special occasion.

A modern way to make ravioli is by using wonton wrappers instead of pasta dough.

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100 recipes: Polenta

Best recipe
Polenta – Antonio Carluccio

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Italian: polenta

Polenta is the name of the dish and the ingredient itself. It was traditionally cooked over an open fire in a cast-iron pot and would take an hour to prepare. It is true peasant food, but is starting to become trendy.

These days there are different varieties and you can buy polenta pre-made or as a quick-cooking version. White polenta from white corn is also available.

For a simple dinner, top your polenta with a fried egg and grated Parmesan cheese.

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100 recipes: Pizza

Best recipe

Pizza Margherita using basic pizza – Antonio Carluccio

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Italian: pizza alla  Napoletanna

Pizza was invented in Italy as a snack, but has been embraced as a popular dinner option. The base is made from yeast, sugar, salt, warm water and flour, and then topped with savoury ingredients.

Jill Dupleix recommends Marcella Hazan’s recipe for Pizza margherita, from The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

Pizza dough will keep a day or two in the refrigerator.

Wood fired ovens make the best pizzas, and you’ll need a baker’s peel, which is a long handled wooden paddle, to slide the pizza in and out of the oven. If you don’t have a wood fired oven, invest is an oven stone to help get an evenly cooked and crispy pizza crust. Place the flat stone  in a preheated oven at 220C.

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100 recipes: Panna cotta

Best recipe
Panna cotta – Gustoso

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Italian: panna cotta

Panna cotta is a creamy dessert set with gelatine, from Piedmont . The name “panna cotta” means cooked cream in Italian. The aim is to get a silky smooth texture, which is not rubbery.

Leaf gelatine is easier to use than powdered, and gives a smoother result. If your gelatin has left lumpy bits strain the mixture. Alternatively use agar agar to make the dish vegetarian.

To prevent the mixture separating you need to work diligently and place it into the fridge as soon as you are finished.

You may like to slighly oil your mould. To remove the panna cotta dip the moulds in warm water to release them easily. Alternatively you may also like to serve them in a ramekin dish.

Serve panna cotta the traditional way with fresh berries and honey drizzled over, or alternatively with a sauce or stewed fruit.

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