Saturday, September 01, 2007

Weekend Cookbook Challenge 'Show and Tell'

I was really sorry I couldn't participate to the previous edition of the Weekend Cookbook Challenge. The theme was intriguing (DVD and dinner), but I didn't have enough time to seriously think about it. But this time, it's really easy for me: the theme is 'Show and Tell' , and the idea is to choose a recipe from a cookbook you particularly like or you have some special reason to show it. And I do have at least three cookbooks I'd love to show (my new Mexican cookbook given by Romelia, the 'San Francisco flavors' cookbook given by Stefano, and 'In Nonna's kitchen' given by Giovanna). I already posted recipes for the first two, so maybe someone already saw how glad I am to have them. I decided to use 'In Nonna's kitchen' for this event, because the idea behind this cookbook is definitely worth speaking about.
The author, Carol Field, went for a trip to Italy and interviewed many 'nonne', i.e. grandmas. They talked to her about their lives, their food traditions, and they gave her a few recipes they really loved. I really like this idea, and that's what I'm going to do next time I go to Italy and meet my grandmothers. In the book, there are pictures and interviews with 16 grandmas. The stories are really interesting - the women come from different regions of Italy, and their age varies between 60 and more than 80! So both the lives and the recipes are quite different.
What makes this book also unique, is that one of the grandmas interviewed is Giovanna's! She told me when she gave me the book. So, I feel like this book is very precious, and I enjoy reading it. I'd recommend it to every American who wants to know some of really traditional Italian cuisine. For me, some recipes are so 'obvious' that I don't even need to read them, it's just the way my own mom taught me. So, I'm sure someone who hasn't been trained by an Italian mother would find this book really helpful.
I'll post here about two recipes I prepared: 'Torta di porri e zucca' (Leek and Butternut squash tart) , and 'Crostini con le fave' (Crostini with pureed fava beans) .

Torta di porri e zucca (Leek and Butternut squash tart)
This recipe is given by Rina Ramponi, and is from the Norther Tuscany. It's very good and it was eaten too quickly for me to take a picture of the whole tart. :)
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
10 tbsp cold water
3 tbsp olive oil
4 medium leaks
3/4 lb butternut squash (cut into 3/4 inch cubes) - total ~2 cups
1/2 cup Parmigiano cheese (I used pecorino romano)
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the dough: mix flour, salt, olive oil and slowly add the water, till the dough is smooth. Make a ball out of it and leave it wrapped in plastic wrap for 30 min at room temperature.
For the filling: heat olive oil and add the leeks, cut into thin slices. Cook for ~ 10 minutes. Add the butternut squash (there were also ~8 oz chard leaves that I didn't have, to add at this point). Cook for another 5 minutes (I cooked it longer, at least 10 min), then add the cheese, salt and pepper.
Divide the dough in two parts (one slightly larger). Spread the larger one in a ~13 inch circle with a rolling pin. Place in a 9 inch baking pan (previously oiled), covering the bottom and the borders. Then add the vegetable filling. Spread in a circle the other piece of dough, and place on top. Fold the borders from the bottom circle on top of the upper circle of dough, and cut extra dough away. Add olive oil on top, pierce the crust to allow steam to escape, and bake at 375 F for ~50 min, making sure it's baked evenly all around.
Serve as appetizer or main dish, depending on how many people you have at dinner! It's very good and quite unusual.

Crostini con le fave (Crostini with pureed fava beans)
This recipe was given by Nella Galletti, and it's an Umbrian variation on the traditional Tuscan Bruschetta.
To prepare it, she uses dried fava beans, but I had some fresh ones, so instead of 1 1/2 cups dried beans, I used ~10 big fava beans, and I cooked both the beans and the skins, cut into pieces. The skin part has some strings in it, so if you want to serve the crostini to guests that you think may be bothered by them, just stick to the beans. But in my opinion, though, the skin part has even more taste than the beans..
Roughly cut 1 medium onion, and saute it in 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the beans (previously soaked overnight if they were dried), and the skins, if you're using them. Add 1 1/2 tsp salt, and enough water to cover the beans. Cook for ~ 30 minutes. The water should not be all consumed, so add more if necessary, so you have some left when done.
When done, drain the beans, reserve the extra water, and puree the beans with 2 more tbsp of olive oil.
Grill slices of bread, then spread garlic on them and sprinkle olive oil on top. Add a few tsp of the cooking water, and then spoon some of the bean mixture. Serve warm.. They are very good, and again, a taste quite different from usual bruschetta :)


Sara said...

Marta, thank you so much for taking part this month! The book sounds so interesting - growing up we had Italian neighbors who stuffed me full of fresh pasta and other delicacies unknown to a little Canadian girl. Both recipes sound wonderful and I'm going to add both to my list of recipes to try. Thanks again!

chemcookit said...

Hey Sara,
thank you so much! I'm looking forward to the roundup. :)

Chanita Harel חני הראל said...

I love dishes like this one, thanks for sharing ! :-)