A Taste of Food and Flavours

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A Taste of Food and Flavours

 

On Friday night a small group of close friends of Italian Food and Flavours got together for a promotional evening which focused on the jewel in the crown of this project…namely Fabio and his creativity. He presented us with a series of antipasti which although traditional through and through, had been tweaked as only he knows how, bringing the dishes up to the 21st century sophistication that fine diners demand. As always the dishes are kept simple yet ooze elegance thanks to the quality of the ingredients that he has combined.

Anti-pasti in this part of Italy have their roots in a past where meat was a luxury and lean heavily towards vegetable based dishes. However, since it is February and in keeping with the traditional theme, one dish in particular had everybody guessing. At this time of year the family pig would inevitably meet his maker and in times gone by when famine was rife, NOTHING was wasted. The blood from the pig would be carefully collected and cooked with onions, orange rind and a selection of herbs and spices, producing a surprisingly delicate dish that had Friday’s guests enthusing about the delicious “liver”. Even when the more squeamish amongst the guests, discovered the dish’s true nature they went back for seconds. Testament indeed as to why it is all important that these old fashioned recipes are kept alive and well in the restaurants of Le Marche.

Photo middle right shows the tangy orange flavoured blood pudding – an authentic Le Marche dish

Photo middle left shows roasted fennel with onions – an aromatic vegetable, gorgeous roasted with extra virgin olive oil

Photo bottom left shows another vegetarian dish of red cabbage with walnuts

Photo bottom right shows pork fillets with caramelised onions

We also enjoyed :

Frittura of olive ascolana and zucchine

Chicory and potato

Frittata (omelette)of leeks

White cabbage with chunks of salsicce (le Marche sausage)

Stuffed mushrooms with ricotta

Of course all washed down with a few glasses of local white and red wine straight from the local cantina (winery)

Grazie Fabio for a fabulous evening of tasty morsels!!

 

 

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Aniseed Ring Cake: Ciambellone

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Salt cod: Baccalà

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Chickpea Soup: Zuppa di Ceci

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Carote a marsala: carrots in marsala

Italian Food and Flavours

Carrots in marsala

A simple but delicious alternative to boiled carrots from Le Marche. Winter being the perfect excuse for putting a little fortification with your dinner. Once tried you wont go back

Carote a marsala: carrots in marsala
A simple but delicious alternative to boiled carrots from Le Marche. Winter being the perfect excuse for putting a little fortification with your dinner. Once tried you wont go back
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 2/3 carrots
  2. 50g butter
  3. 1/2 glass marsala wine
  4. stem of fresh thyme
  5. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. The quantities will depend on the numbers you have to feed. This is not a recipe where the quantities are critical, it is more about the cooking method so feel free to adjust to suit. Scrape the carrots to clean and cut in half then slice longitudinally into thick matchsticks, about 3/5 mm thick. Put the butter in a heavy bottomed pan and heat gently until melted then add the carrots. stir and cover, keep the heat on low for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  2. When the carrots start to soften turn up the heat and add the marsala, let the alcohol evaporate and then turn down the heat again and throw in the thyme and cook for a further 20 minutes or so uncovered unless the wine evaporates too soon in which case add a little water and cover. Ideally the carrots should be starting to colour a deeper red at the edges but not browned.
Notes
  1. This is a lovely contorno (side dish) for roast or grilled meats. The sweetness of the marsala permeates the carrots which will be soft and caramelised, a perfect complement to strongly flavoured meats.
Cooking Holidays Italy http://www.italianfoodandflavours.com/
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polentina di mais: polenta recipe

Italian Food and Flavours

 

Polenta recipe

Polenta evokes in me the stories of my grandfather his tales of hard times of war and times of hunger. Polenta in their era was a luxury that could be afforded only rarely. A a young boy listening to my grandfather’s stories I remember was like watching a black and white movie through his eyes. I saw ten, fifteen maybe even twenty people all gathered around a long wooden table in a farm house in the country. On the table was a large pot from which flowed steaming hot polenta. The group would enjoy together the only meal of the day. Today polenta recipes are basically very similar. Here is a version you can try, I suggest with seasonal ingredients of “Verza ripassata” cabbage and sausage to evoke those old stories of my Grandfather’s day

polentina di mais: polenta
Polenta evokes in me the stories of my grandfather his tales of hard times of war and times of hunger. Polenta in their era was a luxury that could be afforded only rarely. A a young boy listening to my grandfather's stories I remember was like watching a black and white movie through his eyes. I saw ten, fifteen maybe even twenty people all gathered around a long wooden table in a farm house in the country. On the table was a large pot from which flowed steaming hot polenta. The group would enjoy together the only meal of the day.
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Ingredients
  1. 300/400g polenta
  2. 1 ltr salted boiling water
Instructions
  1. In this variation I suggest combining polenta with other seasonal ingredients.
  2. To prepare the polenta boil a quart of salt water, just before the boil begin to add 300/400 g polenta flour a little at a time stirring constantly with a whisk. While cooking Polenta should have the consistency of cream, if it is too hard to add a little hot water. Once combined with the water and mixed to a smooth paste, cover and leave on low heat for 15-20 minutes stirring from time to time.
Notes
  1. At this time of year I serve polenta with "Verza ripassata" cabbage and sausage, with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, but the variations are many and are limited only by your imagination.
Cooking Holidays Italy http://www.italianfoodandflavours.com/
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verza ripassata: cabbage with sausage recipe

cabbage with sausage

Italian Food and Flavours
 

cabbage with sausage recipe

Verza ripassata: cabbage with sausage
Serves 4
Today I want to suggest a typical winter dish, a modern variation on a traditional lunch from this time of year in rural and  agricultural areas of Italy. This take on the local "Cossignanese" - from my home town of Cossignano - involves two very important ingredients available during this season. The two main ingredients sausage and cabbage are combined here because traditionally in country farms and houses a pig is is killed during the coldest days between December and February and the humble cabbage is the main protagonist of the "orto" kitchen garden or allotment during those same months.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1kg cabbage
  2. 200g potatoes
  3. olive oil
  4. 3 cloves of garlic
  5. 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  6. 3 italian sausages, de-skinned
  7. chilli (optional)
garnish
  1. rosemary sprigs
  2. thinly sliced fried purple potatoes
Instructions
  1. Take a small whole green cabbage and remove the outermost, damaged leaves, then chop roughly and remove the hard central core of the cabbage, what we call "removing the bone". Now rinsed the cabbage thoroughly and boil in lightly salted water with 200 g of peeled potatoes. Meanwhile, in a skillet, fry the whole pealed garlic with two sprigs of rosemary in olive oil, when the garlic is golden brown remove it and crumble in the three sausages and cook them well and mash with a fork. The vegetables are cooked when the potatoes are crushed easily, at this point drain the pan and using a colander transfer the cabbage to a chopping board and chop finely. Add the cabbage to the sausage pan and braise for about thirty minutes, adding some of the cooking water as needed to prevent drying out. To serve add in the mashed potatoes, season with salt ad pepper and serve topped with the fried potatoes and fresh rosemary.
Notes
  1. To add spice to the dish add chilli to taste 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
Cooking Holidays Italy http://www.italianfoodandflavours.com/
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Lonza: Italian cured whole pork fillet

Italian Food and Flavours

 

 

 

saltpork2

Salt-brining….the procedure for producing home cured meats is a centuries-old tradition that is handed down from parent to child. I’m the latest in my family to have acquired the secrets for the best results for this seemingly easy but time demanding job. Here I will show you how to produce the famous and quite delicious “Lonza” (cured whole pork fillet). To start with you have to choose a cold time of the year, usually December to February, in the photographs you can see my lonza prepared just last weekend (second week in January). The whole cuts of meat are put under plenty of coarse salt for 36 hours which flavours it at the same time as drawing out a lot of water. After this time the salt is removed and the meat washed, first in cold water and then with wine flavoured with orange peel.

The next phase requires a lot of care because the Lonza will be inserted into the very well washed casings from the pig and then into net casing which are closely tied at each end. The thus prepared lonza has now to cure for 3 or 4 months in a dry airy place to obtain the ideal conditions for drying and curing. I would tell you the secret place I store my lonza, but then I would have to…

 

Fabio

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Roast leg of lamb: Agnello marinato

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