Monday, May 22, 2006

Cucinare con la frutta

In the past two weeks I was in the mood of using fruit to cook savory dishes. So, I made up a few new dishes, and I also made some more traditional ones.

Maiale con barbabietole e pere (pork with beets and pears)
This was a pork chop, that I just cooked in olive oil for about ten minutes, turning it from time to time so that it was well roasted on both sides, and then, I added a puree of a beet, a pear and two tablespoons of yogurt. The beet had been previously roasted in the oven. I let the meat finish to cook in the sauce (about another 10-15 minutes), and in the end, I served it topped by the red sauce - in the picture, it's served together with steamed rice and sauteed cabbage and peas, spiced up by red pepper to contrast the sweetness of the meat. It was good! In fact, pork and fruit are well known to go well together.
And doesn't it look pretty, like a red heart? :)

Salsiccia di tacchino con peperoni e banane (turkey sausage with peppers and bananas)
In this case, I sauteed some onions, green peppers, and added turkey sausage, cut up into pieces. I let it cook for about 20 minutes, adding salt and pepper to spice it up a little bit, and then, in the last 5-10 minutes, I added some mushrooms and a banana cut into pieces. I added some rum, and let it evaporate. I really liked it. I think banana is great with this type of food! It made a sweet sauce, that went really well with the peppers and the sausage. In the picture, it's served together with a 'bruschetta' topped with freshly made guacamole (to make it, cut into pieces a ripe avocado, a small tomato, garlic and cilantro, add red pepper, salt and the juice of a lime, and mix everything up. Quick and delicious. Usually eaten with tortilla chips in Mexican restaurants).

Risotto con fragole (rice with strawberries)
This is a dish that is part of the 'new' Italian cuisine, in that it's become famous in the last few years. I never tried it in Italy, so I decided to make it for a dinner that we had on a girls'night at my place, when Lucas was away.
It was a great success. To make it, soak in white wine about 1 pound of strawberries cut into pieces. Then, sautee some onions in a little butter (1 tablespoon), add 8 handfuls of rice, sautee the rice. Then, add the wine where the strawberries had been soaked. The liquid should be enough to cover the rice, and about one finger more than that. If it's not enough, add a little water. Add salt and cover the lid. Let the rice cook for about 20 minutes. Open, make sure there's still a little bit of liquid, and add the pieces of strawberries. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, until rice is done. The rice is very good, the taste is very different from every type of rice I had before, and it's nicely colored.

This procedure is my mom's simplified version to make every possible type of risotto (the real recipe would make you add the water a little at at time, stirring continously. It's a lot more boring). We used the same procedure to make risotto agli asparagi (rice with asparagus), on that girls' night. Just, instead of adding the wine, add some water and a bouillon to give a nice taste to the rice, and at about 10 minutes from the end, add about a pound of asparagus cut into pieces. Before serving, stir in some pieces of cheese that can nicely melt (I used Italian pecorino di Pienza, which is delicious, but you can use colby or whatever you like).

Spiedini di frutta e formaggio (cheese and fruit skewers)
My aunt used to make something similar when she had nice dinners at her place. She used to use a grapefruit instead of a loaf of bread, to stick the skewers into, but I decided we had too many for a grapefruit and a loaf of bread would be better.
It makes a very nice centertable and it's easy and fun to prepare. Basically, you cut into pieces all sort of things that can come into your mind and put them onto the skewers. Since I was in this fruit mood, I decided to use different types of fruit and cheese, and a little ham and olives. The fruits we used were pineapple, papaja, apple, pear and avocado. The cheese was 'ricotta salata' and another Spanish cheese that I found in Whole Foods and I may look for the name if someone is interested, because I forgot it. When the skewers are ready, stick them on the bread loaf.

Mousse di frutta (fruit mousse)
At last, a sweet thing made with fruit :) - I prepared these two types of mousse for the girls'night. One was a simple strawberry mousse, because it's strawberry season! So, just blend strawberries, add whipped cream (make it!!!), and honey, cool down and add grated chocolate on top before serving. Nice and sweet, probably very good for children. For more 'adult' tastes, try the other type, though, because it was really delicious. I blended together two mangos, a quarter of papaja and two bananas, and then added some ginger powder to it and two tablespoons of whipping cream. After pouring it in the glasses, I added a strawberry sauce on top (just blend some strawberries) - this was to cut the sweetness of the banana and mango. All of the girls loved it.. it was very flavorful, and at first you could taste the banana, and in the end, you would have a taste of mango and papaja in your mouth, and a tickling due to the ginger. :) - you can also cut down on the banana, I think, if you want the mango taste show up more. Again, to be served chilled and with pieces of chocolate on top.

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