After Lucas's graduation, Lubos took all of us out for dinner in a really nice restaurant in Cary. The food is gorgeous and the atmosphere very nice. We had a great evening. The restaurant is Oishii, and it doesn't have a website, but its address is
2425 Kildaire Farm Rd
Cary, NC 27518
Keep it in mind for a nice dinner with great food at affordable prices. It's eclectic food, with a japanese-asian basis.
Here are two examples of what Lucas and I ordered:
Cod marinated in sake with bok-choi and vegetable noodles (mine)
Lamb rack with asparagus and other wonderful vegetables (Lucas's).
The desserts are also great.
Here is a nice picture of Kelley and Jason, who were sitting in front of us:
And a group picture with all of us:
Sunday, December 31, 2006
After Lucas's graduation, Lubos took all of us out for dinner in a really nice restaurant in Cary. The food is gorgeous and the atmosphere very nice. We had a great evening. The restaurant is Oishii, and it doesn't have a website, but its address is
Lucas's parents, grandparents, brother and sister came for Lucas's graduation. So this was a nice excuse for a lot of good dinners!
We had two home-made dinners, the first with Lucas's parents and grandparents and sister, and the second one with his brother and sister-in-law. I made a large amount of food for the first dinner, so the second was basically a replicate of the first.
I prepared some food that I already prepared some time ago.. so I'll just give you the menu here:
Rotolo di Tonno/Tuna roll
Insalata alla Marta/Marta's salad (variation with mushroom and tiny bits of mozzarella)
Tomini al verde/Cheese under oil
Zuppa di cipolle/Onion soup
Zuppa di lenticchie/Lentil soup (Too bad, I forgot to take pictures of this and I never spoke about this before. Well, I guess I'll make it again and explain it some other time).
Macedonia con sorbetto al limone/fruit salad with lemon sorbet. I'll give the recipe for the lemon sorbet in a next post).
I was quite happy - everyone enjoyed it and now Lucas's family knows how lentils taste like :)
Wow.. such a long long time since I last posted on the blog. Sorry guys, I've been really busy between celebrations, holidays, and work.. And tomorrow, I'm flying out to Italy, the same day that Lucas is flying out to California. So, lots of changes in this short timeframe, and still no many knows in my future.
Anyway, I have a lot to catch up with! I'll start with one of the main events:
Now, he managed not to have a picture taken when he was dressed in his robe!!! So here is a peek at him seated in the crowd of students and professors during the big ceremony.. Can you find him?!? Behind him, there is his adviser, Lubos. Sorry for the quality of these pictures.. It was hard to take good pictures from far away.
The big ceremony was kind of interesting for me. In Italy, there's nothing like this. Especially after you graduate as a Ph.D.. They didn't even call our names!!! Anyway, this was instead really pompous.. The ceremony start with music, while all the students and professors, deans and so enter. There are some really interesting figures and things going on.. one is the 'University Mace' (una mazza!!!! Una vera mazza pseudo medievale...):
To be honest with you, it was a bit funny.. the description of all the symbols supposedly hidden in this 'mace', and then, when it was carried in and out by this tiny old lady...
The whole crowd all dressed up was also 'interesting'.. - I'm really not a huge ceremenoy person. It was also quite amazing to see, at the end of the ceremony, soldiers coming in (with rifles), to put up the American flag. People are so mmuch more patriotic in the US than in Italy.
There was also another pretty weird moment: the 'turning of the tassel' (tassel e' il cordoncino che pende da sopra il cappello piatto che gli studenti indossano). I had no idea about this other 'symbolic' gesture.. the students who graduate for their bachelor (laurea) enter the scene with their tassel on one side (I guess left?) and at a certain point of the ceremony, they all take it and swap it to the other side.. to show the turning point of their life.. Interesting :)
Just to give you a final taste of the atmosphere, here is a shot of the crowd.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
I already explained how to make italian biova. This time, though, I improvised a little bit, and the result was even better.
In fact, this time the dinner was on a Friday, and I didn't have time to wait four hours for the bread to rise.. so I made the dough the night before.
The doses are, very approximatively:
1.5 cups warm water
1.5 tsp yeast
6 cups flour
2 tbsp salt
Dissolve the yeast in the water, and add a tsp sugar to activate it. Make sure it bubbles. Add the flour into the water/yeast mixture, stirring, and when it's workable, start kneading it on a floured surface. You may have to add a little bit less or more flour depending on your flour type. After 2 min of kneading add the salt on its surface and keep kneading so it gets all incorporated. You should knead the dough for at least ten minutes.
Let it rest overnight in the fridge. The day after, deflate the dough, which will have doubled its volume, knead for one more minute, and let it rest out of the fridge for another 8 hours (while you go to work :) ). Then, deflate it, and make two balls out of it, and let them rest for another hour or two, depending on how much time you have. Cook in the oven, preheated, at 400 F (if possible, on a stone) for ~30 min. Take it out when the crust is gold, and let it cool down on a rack. You can cut it after at least 10 min (better 20) of cooling.
This bread is really wonderful. You can add a little bit more salt, if you like it more savory.
The recipe for ravioli is a mixture of two recipes that I found on this nice cookbook that my father gave me: 'Cucina di tradizione del Piemonte, ricettario a fumetti' (I already cited this book a few other times). In particular, I used the dough for 'Agnolotti alla piemontese' and the filling for 'Cannelloni di magro'. When we say 'di magro' (lean) we mean that the pasta is filled with cheese and vegetables instead of meat (not sure if it's really leaner.. :) ). So instead of making cannelloni (sort of rolled lasagne) I made agnolotti filled with this non-meaty stuffing, and then I decided that to be really Piemontesi, there should be some meat somewhere, and thus the idea of serving them with ragu'.
So here is the recipe with pictures.
800 g (6 and 2/3 cups) white flour
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups boiled spinach
1 lb ricotta
1 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan
1 tsp nutmeg
For the pasta: mix the flour and the eggs and the oil, and add as much water as necessary to have a workable dough. Knead for at least 10 min. This was _very_ hard. No comparison with the bread dough.. there's no yeast here, and the dough stays hard. It becomes nicely elastic after a while, but it's a good workout, be aware. Let it rest for 10 minutes and then roll down the dough until it's _really_ thin. There's your second part of working out. It's supposed to be so thin that you should be able to read a newspaper through it. Mine wasn't _as_ thin, but it was pretty thin. It takes another pound of sweat..
For the filling: mix all the ingredients, add a little salt.
Place some filling on the dough..
...then fold the dough on top, and cut into squares.
Fold the borders so the filling doesn't come out during the cooking.
Bring some water to boil, add salt to it, and then throw the agnolotti in it. They take about 10 minutes to cook (mine were pretty big).
To serve, mix with ragu sauce (see previous post for recipe) and add some grated parmesan on top.
I'm telling you, they were _really_ good but _really_ laborious to prepare. I think if I make them next time, I'll have some tools like a pasta machine to mix and spread the dough and some ravioli machine to cut them :) - although, then I won't feel the same sense of accomplishment as I did this time :)
Note: after getting more experience with ravioli making, I understand I should not have folded the borders, but just stuck them together with some water. See here for a better description on how to shape ravioli.
Sorry guys for this long absence.. I was in California for about a week, giving talks and interviewing! My life is still completely in the air, but anyway :)
Before leaving, we had a wonderful dinner with my Italian friends. I wanted to do this for a while: they are all from different places, and none of them from Piemonte. So, I wanted to let them taste my regional food.
This was the menu:
Insalata russa (russian salad)
Tacchino tonnato ('tuned' turkey)
Insalata alla Marta (Marta salad)
Agnolotti di magro con ragu' (Lean agnolotti with ragu)
Piemontese cuisine is a very 'strong' cuisine. Mountain people, they like meat, eggs, butter. But they can make amazingly good and different food with these simple ingredients. Piemonte (and Torino in particular) is also the land of chocolate, so our desserts are usually chocolate-based. Piemonte is also one of the best regions in Italy for wine - Barolo is one of the best, then we have Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbera.. - . So, if you ever visit Italy, you _have_ to go to Piemonte and try our food.
Piemonte is also the heaven of cheese (as Susan recently found out). Unfortunately it's almost impossible to get them here, so I couldn't add this important course to my dinner. I also couldn't find a lot of our typical meats and vegetables, so I had to tweak the recipes a little bit.. but they were all very good. Pictures and recipes follow!
For some reason this salad is called Russian salad in Italy - although I don't think
it's really Russian.. It's delicious. To make it, you have to boil ~1/2 lb peas, 3 carrots, 3 potatoes (add some salt in the water). Cut the carrots and the potatoes into pieces. Boil also 2 eggs till hard, and cut them into pieces too. When everything is ready and cold, mix together with 1 can of tuna, a few pickles (we would have 'giardiniera', a mixture of pickled celery, peppers, and other veggies, but I couldn't find it here, so I used Lucas's mom's pickles) and some home-made mayonnaise (see recipe below). If you use pre-made mayo, it will still be good, but not as good, so I really think you should try to make it! :) Decorate with the veggies and parsely leaves.
Other versions do not include the tuna, but in Piemonte if there's no meat, people are not happy :)
Always make your own mayonnaise!!! It's not hard if you use a beater. My grandma used to make it by hand, and that sometimes doesn't work (the oil and the eggs/lemon separate and you can never get to the right consistency). But with a beater, it really takes 5 minutes.
To make it:
Take 4 egg yolks, add a bit of salt, the juice of one lemon, and start mixing with a beater. Add olive oil a little bit at a time. It will take a about 1/2 liter (2 cups) olive oil for that much eggs. If you add less, the mayo will be more liquidy, if you add more, it will be more solid. This amount of mayonnaise will be good for the russian salad above, and you will still have a good amount left (~1 cup, if I recall correctly). This mayonnaise tastes SO much better than the one you buy.
This appetizer is a modified version of the real 'vitello tonnato': I should have used veal, but in America veal is as expensive as gold, so I decided turkey would be good anyway :)
Basically the idea is to have thin slices of meat covered with this sauce made of mayonnaise and tuna. More precisely:
2 tuna cans
2 anchovie fillets
1 lb mayonese
Blend anchovies, capers and tuna, and stir the mayo in the mixture.
Spread the slices of meat on a nice plate (I used sliced turkey, the one people use for sandwiches), and cover them with the sauce (do not drench them, just a thin layer will do it). Decorate with capers. I'm sorry but the picture I took of my dish is terrible, so the picture shown here is 'vitello tonnato' from this nice Piemontese cuisine website (they're a bit more fancy, with all that green added as decoration.. that's not traditional! :) )
Insalata alla Marta : I already posted about it. This time I had apples instead of mango.
Agnolotti di magro al ragu'
Making agnolotti was an adventure. I'll write a post specifically about it.
I already posted the recipe for this gorgeous amaretti-chocolate-coffee-rum pudding.
Check it out!
And all this food was accompanied by some really good bread that I baked:
I'll post this recipe separately.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Recently I was in the mood of making some desserts and I thought it's a nice way to invite people over if you don't have time to make a whole dinner.. so we invited our friends after dinner, for desserts and drinks.
I had been wanting to make banana bread in a long time, and at last I had the occasion: after leaving for Thanksgiving, 6 bananas that we left home were ripe enough for me to use them for this purpose and to make also some banana ice cream to go with it! So here is my production:
Banana bread (pane di banane)
Ingredients (in the recipes you usually find around, they use shortenings or oils instead of butter. I wanted to use butter, for once).
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 stick (100 g) butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts
Mix eggs and bananas and then add all the other ingredients. Pour in a loaf pan and bake at 350 for about 1 h.
It was _really_ good. It also went perfectly well with the banana ice-cream that I made (no picture, sorry, but at least, recipe).
Banana-rum ice-cream (gelato alla banana e rum)
600 ml milk
200 ml heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
3 ripe bananas
4 tbsp rum
Blend everything and pour in the ice-cream maker. Stir for about 1 hour or until it stops and put in the freezer for at least 1-2 hours before serving it.
I was very happy of this creation. I'm now able to improvise ice-cream recipes - a useful knowledge to have :)
Monday, December 04, 2006
I still haven't had time to write a note about this nice 'Italian women' dinner that we had a few weeks ago, before Thanksgiving. A group of Italian (or Italian speaking) women that I belong to meet every month to try new restaurants in the Triangle Area and chat freely in Italian with no husbands, boyfriends or kids around.
Our november meeting was at the Restaurant 'Grasshopper' in Durham. I really enjoyed it. They make 'fusion' Asian cuisine. The food is very good, well presented, the atmosphere is nice, and the prices are very reasonable.
This is an example of what Danila and I ate:
It was Panang Style Prawns
And these are the nice friends I was with:
After me, from the left, Luisa, Danila, Elisabetta, Marilena and Laura
Sunday, December 03, 2006
I will soon post a lot of new recipes prepared for my last dinner, but I first wanted to show you something that I made about one week ago... right after Thanksgiving.
Obviously everyone knows how much turkey is left after Thanksgiving. Well, we all like turkey sandwiches, but what after three days of them? Maybe we would like to change a bit... so here comes my idea:
Pad-Thai con tacchino e kale / Turkey and Kale 'Pad-Thai'
Pad-Thai noodles are rice noodles with eggs, vegetables, nuts and some type of meat (usually shrimp) in it. You can find a really good recipe for real Pad-Thai here. In my version, the rice noodles were sauteed with Kale, Almonds and Turkey!
To be more precise, if you want to try it next time you have turkey leftovers:
Risne about 1 lb kale and cut into pieces, without completely drying the leaves. Soak 1/2 package rice noodles in water for ~ 10 minutes. Saute 2 cloves of finely cut garlic in olive oil, and add the kale to it. Saute for one minute then close the pan with a lid and let steam adding 2 tbsp water (there should be some more water on the kale leaves from the rinsing) ~ 10 minutes. Add salt and red pepper. Add the rice noodles into the pan and ~1 tbsp fish sauce. Stir quickly and saute for a few minutes, then add the turkey pieces (as much as you like), some almonds (~ 1 cup), and then one egg and mix quickly. Serve hot. It's very good!
Let's speak about something beautiful so we don't think about disgusting things anymore... :) Yesterday Lucas and I went with Alison and a friend of hers, April, to see 'The Nutcracker', featured by Carolina Ballet at UNC Memorials Hall.
In the picture, a scene from the Dance of the Flowers, taken from the Carolina Performing Arts website.
It was really pretty. I loved the music, and the scenes were gorgeous, especially in the first part: it was amazing how they represented Clara's nightmare, with a huge Christmas tree growing more and more and more.... The costumes were wonderful too, and there were plenty of little kids that were absolutely cute in their candy dresses. :) It was nice to watch, I hadn't gone to a classical ballet in years and years and years. It was also a nice evening in general with Alison and April: Alison offered us a very good dinner, and we chatted quite a bit at her place after the show.. Thanks Alison for organizing this :)
I was going to write a post about two good Italian movies we watched in the past few weeks, but first I decided I will write a note about another movie, so that hopefully I'll save 1.5 hours and some money to my readers, if they ever thought about going to watch it.
I'm speaking of the movie 'Borat'. It's ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING. DO NOT go watch it. I felt as if I was being showered with poop while I was watching it......... to be nice about it...... I don't understand all the good reviews. I don't understand how they dare to compare this movie to Michal Moore's intelligent and interesting movies. There are some scenes where the main character go to some stores and asks for the best gun to kill a Jew, or the best car to hit a Jipsy, and the sellers answer in some normal way. Was this supposed to be denouncing that Americans are ok about killing Jews or Gipsies?!?! This just shows how sellers would do anything to please the customers, simply trying not to hear the question. Or there are some college kids telling really idiotic things on women. Great, we didn't know the world is full of kids who say silly things to show off, especially when they're drunk... I just don't get where the whole 'denounce of America' shows in this movie. Not to speak about the humor. It's just not funny at all. Is it funny to show someone who enters an antique store and destroys most of the ceramics in there (and he does that for real)? That's just sad. And to show two naked ugly men pretending to fight and bite their genitals? That's just disgusting. I coudln't watch the whole scene or I was going to throw up.
Anyway, this is my suggestion from the bottom of my heart: DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Another very pleasant activity was to walk around Lucas's parents 'yard'. I'm not sure about how to define this space.. it's a really really nice and big area around the house. A creek goes through it, there are some woods, and two fields, where Lucas's dad grows vegetables, fruits, pine trees, and plays with his big tools :)
I'll show here a few pictures of our trip.
Outside the house: Autumn tree - beautiful with its berries
Read more for more pictures.
A type of moss on a rock (see how small it is compared to the leaves around)
Hannah and the creek
Lucas, Jim and Hannah in the forest
Lucas and Debbie in the sun
Btw, do you know why we had those orange jackets and hats? It's hunting season! You never know if Cheney is around your woods.. :)
E' in realta' pericoloso camminare per i boschi in questa stagione, perche' alcuni cacciatori sparano su tutto cio' che si muove.. quindi e' meglio portare queste giacchette fosforescenti, che tutti sanno coprono uomini e non animali.. Dick Cheney recentmente aveva sparato ad un suo amico durante una battuta di caccia :)
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
We had a few more activities during Thanksgiving other than eating. In this post I'll talk about making wreaths.
Wreaths sono le coroncine natalizie - e' tradizione prepararle durante il giorno del Ringraziamento e metterle sulla porta nell'attesa del Natale.
In Italy, wreaths don't really exist. We put up Christmas trees on December 8th, together with our Nativities, but no wreaths. So it was very interesting for me to see how to make them. First of all, you need to have a few pine trees, and you need to know how to cut them down (that's why no one makes them in Italy.. too many houses and too few trees :) :) ). Once you collect enough branches, you have to cut them so that you have pieces of the right length. Then, you have to prepare bunches, nicely organized, and of the right size. You have to assemble these bunches inside some hooks that are part of an iron 'bone' of the wreath. There's a special table where these are assembled, which allows you to clamp the bunches by pressing something with your foot.
If you 'Read more' you'll see how to actually make it!!
Here is the happy wreath-maker :)
And here is a close-up of a freshly started wreath.
And this is a finished-up wreath.
Once you have the wreath, you can decorate it. I did this at home, after taking apart last year's wreath...
Old wreath (made with a different type of pine tree)
and new wreath.
Aren't they pretty? :)
Almost one week has passed since Thanksgiving, but I haven't had time to write about it until now.. and I'm sure my Italian friends will be curious to see how Americans spend Thanksgiving!
So, first, a historical note about why Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving. Since all Americans should know about it, I'll write it in Italian. If you want to check your knowledge about it, though, I found a quiz on it :)
La prima festa del Ringraziamento risale al 1621, e fu festeggiata dai Pellegrini che erano arrivati sul Mayflower dall'Olanda (dove erano fuggiti, originariamente dall'Inghilterra). Il loro primo anno in America era stato molto duro, ma nel 1621 ebbero un abbondante raccolto e decisero di indire una festa di tre giorni per ringraziare per tale ricchezza. Alla festa invitarono anche i nativi 'Indiani' dato che li avevano molto aiutati a sopravvivere al loro primo inverno. Altre celebrazioni del Ringraziamento seguirono, e un giorno del ringraziamento fu inizialmente ufficializzato nel 1777. A questa celebrazione i nativi non furono piu' invitati.. dato che tra le cose per cui si ringraziava, c'era anche la vittoria sui 'pagani nativi'..
La tradizione di mangiare tacchino nel giorno del ringraziamento viene dal fatto che i Pellegrini avrebbero mangiato oche selvatiche e cacciagione, durante la prima festa del 1621, mentre le tradizioni della torta di zucca e varie altre torte non hanno vere origini nel passato culinario.
This year, we spent Thanksgiving with Lucas's parents, and it was a really really nice break. Moreover, Thanksgiving day was also Lucas's mom, so it was the perfect moment to visit! We arrived on Wednesday evening and stayed at their place till Saturday afternoon. For me it was absolutely relaxing. Just eating, cooking, going for a walk, and even some shopping on Saturday! And a few games at Scrabble (Scarabeo).
Here is my Thanksgiving plate:
From the top, going clockwise: cornbread, peperonata alle melanzane and very close, green beans. Then, beets, potatoes and carrots with besciamella, bread roll, country ham, turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy and stuffing in the center.
If you want to know more about the food and all the other things we've done, read more :)
In the dish above, I made two of the vegetables. The first, peperonata alle melanzane, is a mixture or green peppers, eggplants, and tomato sauce sauteed with garlic and onions, spiced with oregano, sage and black pepper. The second veggie dish (barbabietole, patate e carote con besciamella) is prepared by baking beets, potatoes and carrots (for a long time, beets need at least 1 hour, potatoes and carrots are ok with 45 minutes), cutting them into cubes, and at last grilling them in the oven for a few minutes again with besciamella sauce, salt, a bit of paprika and a little cheddar cheese on top. Besciamella is made by putting 2 tbsp flour, a little sauce and a teaspoon nutmeg in a pan and adding ~ 1.5 cups of milk to it, slowly, so it doesn't clump. Bring to boil, add ~1 tbsp butter, and keep stirring until it thickens.
Lucas's grandmother made her famous cornbread with broccoli, and Debbie (Lucas's mom) made all the rest :) - we woke up many hours after the turkey was first put in the oven.. :)
Here are Lucas's grandparents, who were with us:
Since it was Lucas's mom birthday, I prepared a cake for her, using a recipe taken from 'Gorgeous cakes'. I know she's a chocolate lover, so I thought this super-chocolaty cake would be good:
I will post the recipe in a next post, because it was delicious.
But my cake was like one drop in the bucket of baked goods that Debbie prepared :)
She made 4 chocolate pies, 1 pumpkin pie, 1 coconut pie, and 1 peacan pie. :) :)
I'll show here a piece of the peacan pie:
'Peacans' sono delle noci simili alle nostre noci, ma di forma piu' allungata e piu' piccole e gustose. Questo pie e' praticamente solo fatto con queste noci e sciroppo di glucosio. Io riesco a mangiarne solo una piccola fettina per volta, dato che e' ovviamente molto dolce, ma e' molto buono.. :)
She also baked about 200 mini-muffins:
You can see here the banana-nuts, banana, apple, and apple-nuts muffins (from top, clockwise).. hard to decide what's the best. :)
And also, she baked about 200 sausage balls:
Per i miei amici italiani che si chiedevano cosa fossero: sono davvero chiamate sausage balls, e sono fatte con salsiccia (macinata, stile americano) e biscuik (farina e lievito, praticamente), e passate al forno. I find it interesting that these are supposedly a breakfast food :) - I like them very much, but I can't have them early in the morning :) - I can't have bacon and eggs either, though, so I'm a bad example :)
I decided I'll speak about the non-food related Thanksgiving activities in another post.
Monday, November 27, 2006
The sweet and savory breads I made for the brunch were really good, and Mariana asked me for the recipe.. so here they are!
Panini dolci con frutta secca (Sweet bread with dried fruit)
I found inspiration for this recipe from cooker.net, as usual. The original recipe in Italian can be found here... grazie, Miciapallina!!. I slightly modified the doses and used figs instead of apricots and walnuts instead of hazelnuts.
1 lb flour (I used whole grain flour)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup water, warm
1 cups milk
4 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup dried and grated coconut
1/2 cup minced walnuts
1/2 cup minced dried figs
1 egg, beaten
Dissolve the yeast in warm water, add 1 tsp sugar to it, mix, wait until it bubbles. Mix flour, salt and sugar, and add the yeast to it. Mix, and add the milk and the butter, and knead for ~ 10 minutes. The dough should be a bit humid, because you're now going to add all the dry fruits. Knead all the fruits in the dough. If it's too dry add a bit of water, if it's too wet add some flour.
Let the dough rest for ~1 h, then divide it into small balls and let them rest for another 1/2 h - 1 h. 'Paint' the external part of the dough with the egg.
Cook in the oven at 400 F for ~ 30 min. You should put a pot of water in the oven so the dough doesn't dry out while cooking.
Serve with jam, zabaione (a cream made with eggs, milk and wine, I'll make it and write the recipe sometime), or whatever you feel like. I served it with a wonderful Indian grape chutney, sweet and spicy at the same time.
Panini salati con olive e formaggio (Savory bread with olives and cheese)
Also this recipe comes from cooker.net. Thanks Lokum! Her breads look more like doughnuts, like they were originally supposed to be. The dough is exactly the same as I wrote above for the sweet bread, just, there's less sugar (2 tbsp instead of 4) and more salt (1 tbsp instead of 1 tsp). Moreover, there's one egg beaten in the dough, other than the egg used to 'paint' the bread surface.
Once you have the dough ready (obviously do not add the dried fruit to it!!!), let it rest for 1 hour and then spread it into thin, elongated shapes with a rolling pin. I made 4 ovals, about 12" long and 6" wide. Let the dough rest again for another 30 min-1 hour, then divide the ovals in two parts each, along the long side, and put pieces of olives, or cheese, or both, or whatever else you feel like, in the middle of each part. Roll so that you have the stuffing inside a long roll of dough, and then close the two ends of the rolls, so that you make 'doughnuts', or 'u-shaped bread', as you prefer :) . Paint the surface of the breads with egg, and cook at 400 for ~ 1/2 hour (check after 20 min). In the original recipe, it's suggested to sprinkle with sesame seed before baking.. nice idea, I forgot about it :)
They are really good and you can have fun and try different fillings!
Sunday, November 26, 2006
For our series of Italo-Spanish meetings, we recently had a brunch at our place. Trino and I had been speaking about having a brunch for a while, so I thought the moment had come, in the end :)
Having a brunch is really nice. I'm going to explain here what a brunch is for my Italian readers who may not know.
Un brunch e' un misto tra un breakfast, colazione, e un lunch, pranzo. Nei brunch americani, di solito a buffet, si hanno varie scelte di cose dolci e cose salate. Di solito le cose dolci comprendono muffins, pani dolci che assomigliano ai nostri plum-cake, pancakes, waffles (quelle cose gonfiotte e a quadretti che si fanno usando delle presse speciali), mentre le cose salate comprendono uova cucinate in vari modi, bacon, patate, biscuits (panini burrosi e salati). Se e' un brunch particolarmente ricco, si puo' avere anche carne, pesce, insalate varie, pasta, etc.. L'ora del brunch varia tra le 10 e le 2 del pomeriggio, e di solito e' una cosa che si fa la domenica.
One nice thing of the brunch is that there's no hurry at all. People are not tired and they can decide to stay together as long as they want. So we had a really nice time, including a walk around the lake, and lots of interesting discussions about nature, movies, music and life with all of our guests and in particular with Luisa and Jorge, who stayed with us also in the afternoon. It was a very enjoyable day.
At our Italo-Spanish brunch, people were encouraged to bring brunch or breakfast food from their countries. So we had a really nice variety of food, and a lot of it!!!
I'll show here a few pictures.
First 'course': American-style brunch:
We have bacon & eggs prepared by Lucas, and biscuits prepared by Ross. Lucas showed me how to make bacon & eggs: you have to fry the bacon in its own grease and take it out and adsorb the grease on paper towel, then once you're done with the bacon, you should keep only part of the grease released from it and scramble the eggs in it. Greasy, but not TOO bad. :) Ross's clue about how to prepare biscuits is 'Pillsbury' :) :) :) (E' una marca di biscuits surgelati... devo dire, ero delusa quando l'ho scoperto, ma devo ammettere che erano piuttosto buoni).
Tim and Ross, eating their own biscuits :)
'READ MORE' if you want to see the Italian, Mexican and another American part of the brunch!!!
The second course was Italian - made by me :)
In Italy we like to make bread, it's well-known :) - so I decided that sweet bread and some sort of jam and savory bread would be something that we would have for brunch, if it existed. :) So I made a sweet bread with walnuts, coconut and dried figs inside (the one on the right) and a savory ciambella (doughnut) bread, filled with either olives or cheese (I made two types). They were really good so I'll post the recipe in a next post.
The next course was Mexican. We had two wonderful things:
Enchilladas, made by Luisa and Jorge. These are made with a dough similar to the one Luisa tought me for tamales, but there was also spinach in it.. and they were filled with chicken, and with cheese on top.. delicious! A picture of the cooks:
Then, these are the wonderful quesadillas, i.e. fried tortillas with either chorizo or cheese. I loved the cheese ones :).
Here are the cooks :)
Our last course was another American tradition: cheese and vegetable quiche
It was very good, a perfect ending to our brunch :). It was made by Crissy and David, but unfortunately I didn't take a good picture of them :(
So just to conclude here is a final picture of the two hosts :)