Asparagi olio e limone / Olive oil and lemon asparagus
Bruschette con verdure e tofu grigliati e salsa al mango e tomatillo / Bruschette with grilled veggies and tofu and mango and tomatillo salsa
Carciofi ancora piu' semplici / Even simpler artchokes
Cavolfiori al gratin / Gratin cauliflower
Curry vegetariano multietnico / Multi-ethnical vegetarian curry
Imam Bayildi / Turkish stuffed eggplants
Insalata di quinoa e cavolfiori colorati / Quinoa and colored cauliflower salad
Kale al vapore fatto in padella / Steamed kale in a pan
Verdure alla griglia / grilled vegetables
Sformato di spinaci / Spinach 'sformato'
Tofu con melanzane cinesi e long choy in fiore / Tofu with chinese eggplant and blooming long choy
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Asparagi olio e limone / Olive oil and lemon asparagus
I was inspired to make this recipe because I happened to have at the same time in my fridge some cabbage and some ground meat, and I had just read the recipe on my favorite traditional Piemontese cookbook.
Pess-coj is piemontese dialect. I never spoke about dialects in this blog, but in Italy, not only every region, but every town and village has its own dialogue. Honestly I struggle to understand Piemontese (my region's dialect), I cannot speak it, and if I go to Milan or to Genova (1h 1/2 from Turin) I just don't understand anything. Just imagine how I feel if I go to Naples or Sicily and people speak in dialect. It's like being in a foreign country!
So, here you have an example in the title of this recipe: 'pess-coj' means, in Italian, 'pesce-cavolo', i.e. 'fish-cabbage'. Now, do you see any resemblance between 'cavolo' and 'coj' (cabbage for both of them)? Honestly they're not very similar.. so, that's the same for every word. Dialects are different languages, in Italian. If for example you are interested in Piemontese, I even found a dictionary Piemontese-Italiano on- line :)
Anyway, given this small introduction, here is the recipe for 'Pess-coj', taken from the Piemontese cookbook.
Boil ~8 leaves of cabbage for ~5 min in salted water. Let them dry and cool down on a towel.
In the meanwhile cut finely a handful of leaves of some greens (I used kale, which doesn't exist in Piemonte, so the original recipe would call for spinach), and mix it with 1 lb ground meat (you can mix beef and sausage, I used only beef). Add 2 eggs, ~2 tsp salt, a pinch of pepper, a pinch of nutmeg, 3 minced garlic cloves, and ~2 tbsp grated parmigiano cheese.
Set this mixture at the center of the cabbage leaves and fold them. Then, the original recipe suggests either baking, to eat this as a hot dish, or frying and then soak in a mixture of vinegar, wine and sage, to eat this cold. I chose to saute them in a bit of olive oil, and add some red wine to them while they were cooking, and eat them hot. They were very good! They are called 'fish-cabbage' because they do really look a bit like fish, when they're done!
I ate them with rice and some kale, which I cooked in the same pan where I cooked the cabbage rolls, so there was a tiny bit of olive oil and wine on the bottom of it, and I just added ~ 4 tbsp water and ~1 tbsp salt to it, so it was kind of like steamed but with some more taste to it. It was really good!!
I haven't learnt how to cook for a single person yet. Anytime I make dinner for myself it ends up being enough for almost all the meals of the week.. which is good and bad at the same time.. luckily though so far I managed to make pretty good one-week-long-dinners so I'll show you some of them in the next few posts.
Let's start with one week ago, when I made some bluefish with capers and tomatoes
Pesce azzurro con capperi e pomodorini
I bought a one-pound piece of bluefish at Whole Foods Market. It wasn't too expensive, I guess because it had a few bones in it and Americans don't like fish with bones in?? :) Anyway, then I covered it with some flour on each side, heated up a little bit of olive oil, and I cooked the fish in it for ~5 minutes on each side. In the last 2-3 minutes I added some capers with their vinegar and some small tomatoes, cut in half, on top.
It was really good, I was quite happy, and it's really fast to make. Serve with steamed rice and enjoy!
Monday, January 22, 2007
Sunday, January 21, 2007
After we went to Villa Genero, Cinzia invited me to have dinner at her place, and cook together. Both Cinzia and I like to cook and when we're together it's a lot of fun to try new recipes. I like to cook with Cinzia, she's so relaxed, so it's really just fun. We decided to make a hazelnut cake and some cheese fluffy appetizers. We took the recipes from the book 'Cucina di tradizione del Piemonte -ricettario a fumetti', which I gave her for Christmas, after trying so many good recipes from it.
So I'll post the recipes and pictures here! But before that, a portrait of Cinzia's family - a very intellectual family :) :)
Gonfiotti al formaggio (Fluffy cheesy appetizer)
1 cup water
2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp white flour
4 tbsp grated parmigiano cheese
Add the butter to the water and bring to boil. Add the flour while stirring for about 2 minutes. Remove from the stove and then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well. Then add the parmigiano, while still stirring. Warm up the oil in a pan and add the batter in small amounts, and fry until you obtain nice fluffy and golden 'clouds'. Serve warm or hot. They're delicious!
Torta di nocciole (Hazelnut cake)
3 1/4 (100 g) tbsp butter
1 2/3 (200 g) cups flour
2 cups (200 g) roasted and coarsely ground hazelnut
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
Beat the eggs, add sugar, flour, butter, and baking powder, and when it's a nice cream, add the hazelnuts. Warm up the milk and add it, mix and let the whole mixture rest for 10 minutes. Preheat oven at 320 F (160 C). Butter and flour a pan, pour the batter in that and cook for ~30 min. Serve cold.
Here is Cinzia preparing the cake. Note the wooden spoon - she said it is necessary to use that in order to make a really good homemade cake :)
Now, wasn't this a nice dinner? Gonfiotti al formaggio, some tomatoes, and a cake :) - just perfect!! Ah, such nice memories..
The first day I was in Turin (when I wasn't sick yet) I went for a walk with my friend Cinzia and her child Marzio in Villa Genero, one of the many beautiful parks in Torino. Villa Genero is on the hills right past the Po.. so here are some of the views from there.
Torino with a little fog:
On the right, la Mole Antonelliana: it's that unbelievable tower that dominates the town. It was supposed to be a Jewish synagogue, but it was never finished as such, and it became property of the town. Now there is the Museum of the Cinema inside. It's noteworthy and the view from the top of the tower can be breathtaking in a clear day.
On the left side, the really big square in front is Piazza Vittorio, it's really large and now they just fixed it, so that cars cannot park on it anymore. It's gorgeous, and there are portici all around it, again.
The round building on the right side, in front of Piazza Vittorio, is la Chiesa della Gran Madre, a church dedicated to Mary, modeled on the style of the Pantheon in Rome.
Far away, you kind of see the Alps!
A view of the hills at the sunset
Cinzia and Marzio in Villa Genero
Here are pictures from a short walk I had around Turin. During the first part I was with my sister, and then I was by myself.
An open air market:
One of the flower stands
One of the olive stands
I love so much the open air markets in Italy. Turin has many, one of them is the biggest one in Europe (Porta Palazzo). It's an experience, I'd recommend visiting it to everyone who happens to be in Turin, especially on Saturday morning.
Walking downtown, in the most elegant part of the town:
Via Roma, i portici.
Torino is well-known for having miles and miles of portici, sort of arcades that cover the sideways, with houses on top of them, and shops inside. It's really nice and protects you when it rains or it's too hot.
Arriving from Via Roma to Piazza Castello
The building you see at the end of Via Roma was the royal palace. Torino was the capital of Italy for a while, and the king used to live in that wonderful palace.
In the same square, this is Palazzo Madama
This was where the queen used to live. The two palaces are interconnected by some underground passages. Turin has many underground passages, some of them may be still unfound!!
This is Via Pietro Micca.
You can see, another street with portici.
And this is one of the many historical caffes:
This is again in Via Pietro Micca. Not sure if it's good or not.. I never tried this one!
Well, this was the only moment I was able to walk around and take some pictures of the town.. I'll add some next time I go, but I hope you got an idea of how wonderful Torino is :)
Hello to everybody!! Here I am again after two weeks in Italy.. sigh.. it's always short, especially when you spend half of your time stuck in bed and the rest doing visa stuff and attending a conference for work :)
But no complaints, I had a good time, I managed to meet most of the people I wanted, although not everyone, unfortunately. Also, due to the fact that when I was sick I wasn't too hungry, I couldn't really eat all the good food I would have liked, but I did get to eat some which was really good :) For example, my friend Chiara made some zabaione for me, which I _really_ liked, and I will try to make it and post the recipe here soon. It's a sweet egg cream with Marsala, a white strong wine. De-li-cious!
So I'll spend the next posts showing the few places I managed to visit and take pictures of.. enjoy!
Sunday, January 07, 2007
It's driving me crazy that I'm in bed and it's a wonderful day outside and I'm in Turin!!! But I'll try yo be good so maybe tomorrow I feel well enough to go around at least for a bit. Anyway, from my bed of sorrow and mucus, here are some pictures that I took three days ago when I was in... Milan!
(The cathedral, the upper part of its facade just renewed)
I had to go to Milan to get a part of my visa done. Usually this trip to Milan is just a pain and a duty for me.. stay two hours in a line at the Embassy and go back.. but this time, my dad came with me, and it was a lot of fun!! We had a nice lunch at a Self-Service close to the American Embassy (amazing how good and cheap the food was, especially if you got the grilled meat that was prepared on the spot). And then, after my visa, we had some time to wander around.
Here we are in Piazzetta della Scala.
My dad is in front of La Scala, the most famous opera theatre in Milan, taking a picture of me in front of the Statue of Leonardo.
(this is Leonardo)
And this is the entrance to the gorgeous gallery that brings into Piazza del Duomo.
And these are pictures from inside the gorgeous gallery:
(there was a humongous Christmas tree decorated with precious glasses in the middle of the gallery).
Piazza del Duomo was gorgeous. As I mentioned, part of the cathedral has just been renovated. There are Christmas decorations everywhere, and I found kind of neat some humongous lit balls made of wire on the back of the Cathedral:
We visited a few churches. The one I liked most was S. Francesco da Paola.
It's not one of the famous churches in Milan. I think I liked it so much because it reminded me of the churches that are typically in Turin, in Barocco style, quiet, scented with incense.
End of the year's Eve was Lucas's and mine last night together in Raleigh. So we decided to do something special and we went to eat at 'Mo's diner', a very nice restaurant in Raleigh which we never went to before. It's really elegant, and it's set up in a real house, with a few tables in each carefully decorated room. This is an example of the room where we were (sorry for the blurry picture, but at least it gives an idea).
The food is really good, and so is the wine. I had some delicious lamb rack and Lucas some grilled quails. The dessert was particularly good:
It was called 'Banana Napoleon', and it was made with crispy layers of dough sandwiching pieces of banana and a custard-like cream. It would be nice to try to reproduce it.
The final bill was quite expensive - I guess the wine really helped increasing the price.. but once per year...
On our way back we saw Raleigh's first of the year decoration: an ice sculpture..
And the big acorn:
They take this huge acorn up in the air with a crate and when it's midnight they drop it down.. well, Raleigh is not NY, but it does try to entartain its residents :)
We didn't stay there until midnight, though. We went back home and cheered together with our friends Jorge, Luisa and Jorge's brother and sister-in-law, who just came from Mexico:
What's better than starting the year with friends?
At last, I'm back to Italy! So you will probably wonder: don't you have anything better to do rather than writing on your blog?!? Well... I'm sick and confined to bed :( - so after sleeping all the morning, at least I now feel like writing something..
I'll start with memories from Christmas in Virginia, at Lucas's parents, when we were (sigh) still altogether.
Christmas in the US is quite similar to Christmas in Italy: Christmas trees, nativities, lots of food and gifts. Well, as usual, things are bigger in the US.. so this is Lucas's parents tree:
Very nice, isnt't it? and it's real, one of the many trees that Lucas's dad cultivates.
I felt particularly happy when I noticed that Lucas's mom prepared a 'Christmas sock' for me too, which made me feel part of the family:
This is a tradition which is not present in Italy. We put up socks only on Jan 6th, the Epiphany, when la Befana comes and fills them up. Pasticciera put up a very nice post about la Befana, so if you're curious, go look at her Jan 6th post!!
The food was very good as always..
In my plate, you can see (from the top, clockwise): stuffing, gelly, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and mushroom soup, turkey and baked apples in the center. Of course there were also many different pies (see the Thanksgiving post). But what impressed me most was the amount of wonderful cookies that Debbie baked. Her e is a sample:
The pink one was a butter cookie, then the round one was a 'Christmas ball' (a delicious crunchy one with nuts inside), then there's a peanut butter cookie and then an almond paste cookie. She made hundreds of each type.. they were irresistible :)
My contribution was given by Panettone:
I made it according to a recipe that I found in 'Bread Alone'. I was really happy of how much it raised, but I think next time I'll put more sugar and butter in it (the recipe called only for 1 stick of butter, whereas panettone is a really buttery dessert), and I'll cook it for a shorter time. I'll put the recipe online as soon as I'm back, I don't have it now. I hope I remember!!