Archive for November, 2009
Carciofi e Coniglio
Alice and I had been expecting a visit from a dear friend, Giuseppe from Florence who we hadn’t seen for over a year. The big news was that he recently became a dad, so we invited him along with his partner Angela and his 2 month old son, Raffaele over for dinner when they were in Turin. I really wanted to put on a nice dinner for him particularly because I know how tough a critic he is with cooking and I always fish for a compliment from such a tough customer. (more…)
Osteria da Zio Aldo and his Fried Artichoke Recipe
Last week I went to Puglia for what turned out to be a little misadventure. I went down for the San Ferdinando Fiera del Carciofo /Artichoke Fair. It turned out that there were no artichokes being cooked but only being promoted. I was pretty disappointed as it was a seven hour train ride to the other end of Italy from where I live. The train ride was not at all disappointing, it was stunning countryside and seaside and well worth it. I must say though, that San Ferdinando was not what I thought it was going to be and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, anytime. I used the opportunity to meet a few locals who knew a few things about artichokes and one guy who is worth a mention is Zio Aldo. (more…)
Artichokes in Naples
This is the first Artichoke dish I found in Naples. It’s a side dish, which is very simple and full of flavour. All you need is a few ingredients you’re already likely to have in the fridge. The true Neapolitan recipe calls for green olives. The dish presents a lot better with green olives rather than the black, which I have used. Either way it’s a tasty treatment of the artichoke.
It only take about 30 minutes from the time you start preparing to the time you’re devouring. They can also be served cold which makes them fantastic as an antipasto which you can prepare ahead of time. Read on for the recipe
Barchette di Carciofi con Mozzarella e Spinaci
Straight from the south of Italy, this is an awesome entree or side dish. Ideally served straight out of the oven and drizzled with a little olive oil. They are quite a pretty looking artichokes and the way they turn into little containers of tasty goodness is a fun feature. Here’s the recipe.
When I shop at the markets I act a little suspiciously around the artichokes stalls. I stand next to older people, almost like a stalker, ready to pounce on them for a recipe. Overwhelmingly, when I do ask someone buying artichokes, how they are going to prepare them, they mostly say, ‘raw in a salad
So here’s a dish form Liguria which is quick, fresh, and healthy and uses all ingredients which you’ll find in season together.
Al dente, simply translates as ‘to the tooth’.
What it means is that the teeth should find some resistance to the pasta as they bite into it or chew on it. This also applies to vegetables.
In Italy, if you are served a plate of pasta, which is not ‘al dente’ or overcooked, you can send it back to the kitchen because Italians believe overcooked pasta is reeks havoc on your digestion.
Worse still, if you are cooking for Italians and send out some over cooked pasta, BEWARE. I once had someone poke his head into the kitchen I was working in and said “hey chef, I think that spaghetti was probably overcooked by half a minute” Leaving the pasta ‘al dente’ actually increases the complexity in flavours of a dish. Try it if you don’t believe me. Living in Italy has made me an ‘al dente’ snob. I won’t accept overcooked pasta anymore unless it’s cooked by my auntie who, at her age, has problems chewing.
My golden rule for cooking pasta ‘al dente’ is simple:
Be ready to serve 1 minute before the indicated cooking time of the pasta.
ie. If the cooking time for your pasta is 10 minutes, be ready to serve in 9 minutes.
Pasta keeps cooking after it is drained, while you add and stir in the sauce, while you serve it onto plates, while you sprinkle it with cheese, while you fuss around the kitchen, while you are making a toast with your guests. If you follow this rule, by the time you get to your first forkful of pasta, it should be perfectly ‘al dente’
Carciofi alla Calabrese
This is a side dish from my home region of Calabria. It’s fast, easy and and like most food in Calabria, incredibly tasty. A dish like this will show those of you who think artichokes are too much work just how easy and how quickly you can get great results in half an hour. Get ’em while they’re hot.
Beef Involtini with Prosciutto & Artichokes / Involtini di Manzo con i Carciofi
When I tried this recipe for the first time I thought it was a bit light on artichokes. I will give you the traditional recipe and suggest a way to up the artichoke pleasure. I had a few tries t this one before I could get it looking worthy of a photograph. Putting all these ingredients together is a pretty unbeatable combination. They can be prepared ahead of time and heated in the oven at the last minute before serving. Here’s the recipe