Category Archives: Seafood

COTECHINO AND LENTILS -NEW YEAR’S EVE and CHRISTMAS

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It is hot in Australia at this time of year and I am certainly not going to cook this popular and traditional Italian, New Year’s Eve dish – Cotechino e lenticchie – but some of you who are steeped into tradition may consider cooking this in hot or cold weather. If you do, make sure that as you dig into that sausage, you make a wish for the new year (it must be before midnight).

I cooked it last winter. Perfect for the cold weather. I first published this post on Dec 9th 2015 and it is time to publish it once more.

Cotechino is rather a large sausage which has a proportion of it made with some of the gelatinous meat from the pig trotter.  Lenticchie are lentils- the ordinary green lentils. Cotechino e lenticchie is a dish that is more common in the north of Italy. I do not think that it is very common in Sicily, however as a result of media and recipe books and travel, food habits change, recipes evolve.

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Just as we have adopted Panettone and Panforte at Christmas time in Australia, I gather that it is fairly hip to cook Christmas Pudding in Italy. So what do we think of that!
You will ned to visit an Italian delicatessen or butcher to buy a Cotechino sausage. If you live in Melbourne I go to Fairfield or Carlton. If you live in Adelaide Marino Food and Meat store at the Central Market. I know about and have visited Eataly in New York and they would definitely have it.

Cooking Cotechino and Lentils is very simple, and delicious. The onion, carrot and celery are the Italian usual suspects when making broth or a soffritto (from soffriggere – to lightly fry – the soffritto refers to the sautéed vegetables that are the basis for most braises, pot roasts and soups.)

This is definitely one of those dishes where you can add 1 kilo of lentils if you wish – it depends what proportion of lentils to cotechino that you prefer. Have a look at my photo and decide.

1 cotechino sausage
700 g of lentils
1 onion
1 stalk of celery
1 carrot
¼ cup olive oil
2-3 peeled tomatoes
2-3 bay leaves – I always prefer fresh, but i have a bay tree growing in a pot on my balcony  – you may not be as lucky.

Soak the lentils in water for 30 minutes.
Sauté the chopped celery, carrot, onion in the hot oil till golden. Drain the lentils and add cold water to cover them well.
Add peeled tomatoes and bay leaves, cover and cook them and cook over low heat until cooked.
In a separate pan add the sausage to cold water- sufficient water to cover the cotechino, bring it to the boil and then simmer it until it is cooked but not split – say 50 minutes.
Skim some of the fat off the broth, cut the sausage into thick slices, add them to the lentils with as much of the broth as you wish and serve.

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The flavours will intensify over the next few days so appreciate the leftovers – you could add more of the broth (from the cotechino) and eat it as soup. Great stuff, especially for those who are living in a cold climate!

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I have mentioned Panforte ( sweet). For recipe see:

Other Christmas recipes for sweets:

Fish for Christmas (especially Christmas Eve):

Meat and other Christmas specaialties:

My family always had brodo at some stage on Christmas day:

And there are so many other seafood, meat, vegetables and pasta recipes on my blog.

 

 

SORREL, Italians call it acetosa

I once lived in Adelaide and I successfully grew and cooked sorrel.

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I used it liberally in hollandaise and egg mayonnaises (wilted or raw and cut very finely). I loved these sauces with asparagus, beans and potatoes. I added young leaves to mixed-leaf salads, cut leaves into chiffonade to decorate and add an intense lemony tang to raw and cooked foods. I added it to soups and braises, fish, veal or pork stews and sautéed it with other vegetables. It was great in frittata, too. Because of its intense, sharp flavour you only need small amounts of leaves and when they’re cooked, the bright green spinach-like leaves melt to a yellow-green, mushy purée. It may not sound appealing but it is.

I eat extremely well when I visit South Australia both in restaurants and in homes. During my recent trip I encountered sorrel at three different times at different friends’ houses.

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I was delighted with a sorrel Granita by one friend in her house in Eden Hills (a suburb of Adelaide). It was presented with a sorbet made of elderflower cordial (she made this), golden caster sugar and water syrup and St Germain elderflower liqueur.  what you see in in the photo above are the Granita and sorbet, plus elderflowers (from her garden). These were topped with Prosecco. Amazing!

This was not dessert – it was presented as a palate cleanser in between courses. It could easily double up as a dessert- a  very simple solution is to pair it with vanilla ice cream rather than an  elderflowers sorbet….not every cook is as skilled as this friend.

See recipe for the sorrel Granita at end of post.

Friends in North Adelaide offered me potato and sorrel soup for lunch. I had  enjoyed this before at their house and it can be eaten hot or cold.

I also visited friends in Ardrossan (a coastal town on the Yorke Peninsula about 90 minutes from Adelaide) and found red sorrel growing in their garden. This friend presented some of the attractive young leaves in a leafy salad. She also wilts it like spinach and has made a quiche with some of the leaves.

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I told her I knew nothing about red sorrel. I thought that maybe Bunnings had made a mistake (she found it in the Herbs section of this store). Was it really a culinary herb or an ornamental plant? My friend, now concerned and thinking that she should sue Bunnings found a link on the web, and sure enough, red sorrel leaves are considered edible…. despite my misgivings.

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The story doesn’t stop there. Now back home in Melbourne I found a small bunch of red sorrel at my regular supplier of green vegetables – Gus and Carmel’s stall in The Queen Victoria Market, called IL FRUTTIVENDOLO . I stored it in the fridge in a container  partially filled with water. I store asparagus in the same way.

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Believe it or not there is a lot of information on the web about sorrel that is considered to be at its best in Spring. There is the French sorrel (Rumex scutatus) with distinctly small, bell-shaped or arrow-shaped leaves; English sorrel (Rumex acetosa) with broader leaves- both of these have leaves with a smooth texture. Red sorrel (Rumex sanguineus) is  very attractive and has tapered light green leaves with dark maroon veins and stems. Not surprisingly it is also called Bloody Dock. When cooked, it bleeds like beetroot leaves (which I eat). First discard the bottom tough part of the stalks and then wilt the leaves as you would silver beet or spinach.

Both French sorrel and English sorrel are used interchangeably. It is also sold interchangeably and usually just labelled as ‘Sorrel.’ The French variety with the smaller arrow shaped leaves is hard to find . Both sorrels have very similar tastes – the flavour is tangy and pleasantly acidic. This is not surprising as sorrel is related to rhubarb, recognized for its tartness that comes from oxalic acid. Some texts advise to use sorrel sparingly and warn that it can be toxic to animals. The red sorrel has been primarily grown as a decorative foliage but can also be eaten. The taste is not as sharp and sour as the French and English sorrels and the larger leaves are tougher and slightly bitter rather than tangy., however when cooked they do break down considerably.

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Sorrel has been used as a culinary ingredient by the early Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. It was used during medieval and in Tudor times in England and France and it is still popular in French cuisine.

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Italians have many words for sorrel. They call it acetosa and acetina, acetosella, ossalina or erba brusca. There are even names for sorrel in dialect. It is known as pan e vin in Friuli, Veneto and Treviso regions. The Sicilians call it aghira e duci or agra e duci. The list of the various regional Italian names for sorrel can be found on a site by the Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita, Università di Trieste. The culinary uses in Italian cuisine suggested in the texts that I have seen are the same as in other cuisines: the young leaves are served raw in salads and the cooked leaves accompany fish, meat or eggs and in cream sauces and soups.
Sorrel is also found in some Asian cuisines for example in Vietnam it is known as rau chua (sour herb) or rau thom.  It is not surprising that in Vietnamese it translates as sour herbfrom old French surele, from sur, sour. I had one quick look for a Vietnamese recipe that uses sorrel and ‘sour soup’ seems to be popular.

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Notice that my bunch is just  called ‘Sorrel’. So unfair for those who are not familiar with the other sorrels!

And what did I do with my small bunch of red sorrel?

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There were no leaves in the bunch that I considered ‘small’ so I did not add them to a salad. I  added the leaves to some hot extra virgin olive oil and garlic, added the leaves and wilted them. I then added some cooked Puy lentils. I was pleased with the results and presented and made a nice accompaniment to fish cooked with with tarragon and vermouth , cauliflower and baked tomatoes.

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My friend’s recipe for  Sorrel Granita

Equal weight of French sorrel leaves (with that lovely sour taste) and simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water). The sorrel must not be cooked. Just blitz the leaves with the syrup and then strain through a fine strainer. Add a squeeze of lime juice and a pinch of salt to taste and then pour into a container and put in the freezer. About every 30 mins or so I stir it to move the ice crystals that evenly through it. When it is completely frozen (and it isn’t rock hard anyway) I just scrape it with a fork to break it into crystals.

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Food in Japan and I particularly enjoyed the pickles – tsukemono

I very much enjoyed all of the food I ate during my first and recent trip to Japan – I went to Kyoto and Tokyo. Like Italian Cuisine, Japanese cuisine has a huge diversity of regional and seasonal dishes and the Japanese people seem just as passionate about their food.

Below is an oden dish, in a special oden restaurant -it is mainly daikon, I could also taste turnip, boiled eggs served in stock made from dried bonito, konbu and soy sauce. Of course there were pickles and rice.

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We accompanied the oden dish with bean curd prepared in different ways… and I do like beancurd. Below is a photo of another beancurd  dish I had in another restaurant -silken tofu (Agedashi) in a flavorful tentsuyu broth of dashi, mirin and soy. This one had some other ingredients as well as tofu and broth. The red on top was a mild chili paste.

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Whether it be in my home town or elsewhere, I always place great effort in selecting the ‘right’ places to eat. I look closely at menus (in Japan, glossy pictures and the plastic replicas of food helped). I suss out the ambience and then take a plunge, and practically all of the time  my senses do not fail me.

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Japanese food is as much about the preparation and presentation as it is the food itself.

One place in Kyoto particularly stands out – no menus with pictures or models of food here – a tiny place with fabulous décor, a flamboyant, entertaining and creative chef (Mr. Fujita) and his courteous assistant who had a tiny sprinkling of English. We (my partner and I) got by, participated mainly with sign language, much laughter with the other eight guests and we ate extremely well. We pointed to particular ingredients that he had available – duck, fish, eel, eggs, mushrooms (what other guests were eating and via photos in an album) and left it up to him to come up with the food. We watched him slice and prepare top quality and seasonal ingredients and proudly come up with a variety of delicious offerings. Watching the chef prepare the food was as much fun as eating it.

Restaurant: Marufuji (まる藤) Kyoto

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This was a strongly flavoured stock with eel, spinach and egg. We were given bowls and spoons.

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A form of Yakiniku? – duck  cooked on a hot stone. We could have had tongue as well.

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I am particularly fond of good tableware and the food was presented with as much care of good quality crockery and lacquerware – with a variety of shapes, textures, colorful patterns, and colors.

And the chef came to see us off.

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I will not go on about all the food I tried in Japan – there were far too many  of the traditional popular Japanese dishes –  the steamed, simmered or grilled dishes, sliced raw,  the sushi, tempura, yakitori, ramen etc, but I would like to mention a couple of things I particularly enjoyed or was less familiar with.

I particularly enjoyed the very fresh fish prepared in various ways.

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In a different eatery in the backstreets of Kyoto I particularly liked the tomato tempura – small explosions of sweet and acid flavour.

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I also had burdock tempura – a distinctive and slightly bitter, crunchy and chewy( fibrous) root vegetable that also reminded me of the texture of meat.

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At the same restaurant I also ate pickled sardines. These were lightly floured first and fried and then pickled in a sweet and sour marinade which strangely enough reminded me very much of the varieties of Italian pickled sardines like the Sicilian Soused Fish recipes or the Sarde al Saor popular in Trieste and Venice. One large difference of course, was the grated fresh ginger, not a common ingredient in Italian cuisine.

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I am not a great lover of sweets but in Tokyo I watched two people prepare street food – waffles shaped like a fish called Taiyaki. The pancake batter forms the fish shaped outer shell. The filling was sweet red bean paste or sweet potato.

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I like persimmons – both the vanilla type and the squashy ones, both fresh and dried.  I found quantities of Mochi in the Food halls in basements of  famous and grand Department Stores. I particularly like the texture of the outer layers of  Mochi that are made with sticky rice: the rice is pounded into a smooth paste and molded around a filling  of usually sweet red bean paste .The outer layer is chewy and soft and sometimes flavoured with green tea.

I also liked the pumpkin ice cream, and the one made with spinach.

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For the first time I ate Kamameshi – rice is cooked in an iron pot, with  different flavourings such as  soy sauce, mirin, stock and other ingredients.  Ours also had minced chicken,  a few vegetables  . I liked it – homely.

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The burnt rice around the pot of Kamameshi is particularly flavourful.

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I tried different types of sake and Japanese beer (I am a wine drinker so both were new experiences for me). I  also drank good wine (grapes) made in Japan.!!!

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I did come cooking at home too – I like my vegetables and I never get enough when I am away from home and I especially purchased different types of mushrooms – it is autumn after all and they came in many colours, shapes, textures and flavours.

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In a Tokyo market I did try some street food – takoyaki (a dough-like wheat flour dumpling, with small pieces of octopus mixed in the batter, smothered with a brown sweet sticky sauce and topped with bonito fish flakes) The batter is  poured into a special hotplate with small half-circle molds and when the bottom half is cooked, the half-circle dumplings are turned over and become full spherical dumplings in the end.

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I had eaten these in Melbourne and they did not appeal to me then. They did not appeal to me now, but I always like the taste of bonito fish flakes and I like to watch them dance.

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I very much liked all the countless varieties of seaweed and pickles. Pickles are called tsukemono. Japanese food would not be the same without pickles that frequently accompany all meals in Japan providing flavours and pro-biotic cultures that promote digestion. They also provide a variety of colors, aromas and textures.

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Food markets are full of unpackaged pickles in vats of fish, fruit and vegetables. I particularly like the common umeboshi (pickled plums). Common vegetables that are pickled are: daikon, ginger, Japanese cucumbers, carrots, bamboo, turnips, Chinese cabbage, gobo (burdock root) and Japanese eggplant.

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Imagine the smells of these ingredients with their pungent smells of pickling ingredients like rice bran, vinegar, miso, soy sauce, sake. And seasonings like mirin, garlic, seaweeds, herbs and spices, konbu, chilies, honey and sugar.

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I also enjoyed the lightly pickled vegetables. I had these only in one of the restaurants  in Tokyo and on this occasion I was in the company of a local so we were able to discuss how pickles are  easily made at home.

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Now home in Melbourne, I did some research and found some recipes for making pickles in an old book I have about Japanese cuisine, Japanese Vegetarian Cookery, Lesley Downer, Jonathan Cape Press, 1986.

I used to use this book to make pickled plums and simple pickled vegetables…a long time ago.  Although many types of tsukemono are available commercially many people make pickles at home.

Here is a recipe adapted from this book.

Salt pickles.

Vegetables are salted and the pressure that is placed upon them causes them to release their liquids – this results in brine that pickles the vegetables. Each type of vegetable is usually pickled separately to keep flavours distinct.
Downer suggests that particularly suitable are:

2 Daikon (peeled, quartered, cut into 2.5 cm lengths),
1 Chinese cabbage halved, quartered 2.5 cm chunks,
4 Small cucumbers, halved, scrape out seeds, cut into 2.5cm lengths

30g sea salt

Rub salt into vegetables, place them in a ceramic bowl (narrow is preferable).
Cover vegetables with a small plate that will fit neatly inside the bowl.
Place a weight on top- perhaps a stone or a jar of water.
Leave the bowl in a cool dark place for 3-4 days– the brine will raise (or it should) above the vegetables.
To serve, remove vegetables, gently squeeze and cut into bite size pieces…… Taste a bit before you cut them and rinse them  if necessary to remove excess salt.
My Variations and suggestions:

Once there is sufficient brine covering the vegetables,  add a dash of Japanese vinegar (low in acid) and a small glug of Sake for extra flavor. A little Mirin or sugar will also help to sweeten the vegetables.These ingredients also help with the fermentation. It is worth experimenting with flavours.

Making pickles can produce smells, especially if you are using cabbage or daikon. A large wide mouthed ,glass jar or ceramic pot with a tight fitting lid is useful. If you are using a jar or pot make sure that you can apply pressure with a heavy weight on top of the vegetables to produce the brine.

Other vegetables can be used–  unpeeled Japanese eggplant…halved, quartered etc , peeled turnips and carrots…halved, sliced etc.

 

 

 

 

A NEW LIFE for shop bought MARINADED WHITE ANCHOVIES

Out with the old marinade of vinegar, sunflower oil, tired sliced garlic and herbs.

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And in with the new marinade – extra virgin olive oil, fresh parsley, garlic and a little dry oregano (optional).

Sounds better already. New life, fresh taste!

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These are handy to have in the fridge to dip into at anytime, or to present as an antipasto on fresh bread or crostini , or inside a leaf from the centre of a small cos lettuce or radicchio or witlof – in fact any salad green that has cone shaped head and cup shaped leaves that can hold a few marinaded anchovies.

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The pictures tell the story. Simple to make, good to eat.

Leave in marinade at least one day but as long as you keep them under oil they will last for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

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I used :

500g of white marinaded anchovies ( alici fresche marinate  are usually packed in Sicily or Liguria… and the Spaniards call them boquerones),
2-3 cloves of garlic ½ cup chopped parsley, both finely chopped.
extra virgin olive oil to cover – the amount will depend of the container you use. I always  use glass.

Drain the anchovies and discard the old marinade and the solids.

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Layer the anchovies with the herbs and the garlic and top with the oil.

Store in the fridge until ready to use. If you are taking some  anchovies out,  make sure to once again cover them with oil.

If you are presenting the anchovies inside leaves use a colander to drain the anchovies and then place 1-3 inside each leaf- this will depend on the size of the leaf and how much you (or your guests) like anchovies.

If you are presenting them on bread, there is no need to drain them with a colander – the oil tastes good too.

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As you can see, finding small suitable leaves and keeping them whole can be time consuming.

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I first wrote about Marinaded Anchovies in 2011.

They have remained as  one of my favourite things to do for a large gathering. The recipe is also in my second book  Small Fishy Bites as Zucchini and Mint Fritters with Marinaded Anchovies.

SPAGHETTI with ‘NDUJA, SQUID, VONGOLE AND PAN GRATTATO

In a restaurant in London recently I ordered a plate of Spaghetti alla Chitarra – square cut spaghetti that was cooked with some very spicy pork sausage.  Square cut spaghetti are especially widespread in Abruzzo, but also in Molise, Lazio and Puglia and obviously can now be found elsewhere in the world.

It reminded me how, about a year previously in one restaurant  in Marin County I ordered Rustichella d’Abruzzo Chitarra with Manila clams, Pacific squid and ‘Nduja with anchovy and breadcrumbs. The Italian square-cut spaghetti were originally rolled over a box strung with guitar strings to create its straight edges.

There is a little bit of Italian regional fusion in this dish:  The pasta is from Abruzzo, ‘Nduja from Calabria,  and anchovy and breadcrumbs are very Sicilian.

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I do not have a recipe for Rustichella d’Abruzzo Chitarra with Manila clams, Pacific squid,  ‘Nduja and anchovy and breadcrumbs, however, I have a pretty good palate and a sharp sense of smell.

I am also able to discern flavours and identify ingredients. I know about cooking methods and this is my interpretation of this recipe. Obviously there may be many differences in the way they would cook this dish, for example in my recipe for simplicity, I have cooked Part 2 and 3 separately and I have then joined the components together. This is not to say that the next time, I would cook this in the same way. I always adapt and experiment with recipes and I am pretty lucky that the majority of times the food tastes OK.

Clearly, this is on my estimation of amounts and is based on my tastes and preferences.

Recipe for 6 people

300 g spaghetti. Use good quality durum wheat spaghetti for example the recommended amount is 100 g per person. I always think that this is far too much- 50g per person is fine in my household but adapt amounts accordingly.

Part 1. Breadcrumbs, anchovies and garlic mixture (often called pangrattato in Italian) is used to sprinkle on top of the dish instead of cheese.

  • 1 cup bread crumbs made from 1-2 day old good quality bread
    ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more if needed
    12 anchovies, chopped
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, chopped finely

In a fry pan (I use a non stick one) heat the oil. Add garlic and toss them around for about 30 seconds before adding the anchovies. Stir over medium heat until fragrant. Add breadcrumbs and continue to stir them until they are golden and toasted. Remove from the pan when they are ready otherwise they will continue to cook.

Part 2

  • 5-6 tablespoons of’ ‘Nduja per person
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 red onions, sliced thinly

In a frypan sauté the onion in the olive oil. When it is soft and golden add the ‘Nduja and stir gently on low heat until it is dissolved. You may need to use a little water.

Part 3

  • Estimate about 150g of both squid sliced into small pieces and vongole or clams (without their shell) per person – adjust to your tastes. In the restaurant version there were tiny baby squid and octopi used, just as they do in Sicily. This makes me think that in the US they must be allowed to fish for baby fish.
  • 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • a little salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons of passata

Sauté the fish in the oil until it is golden. Add the passata, stir over medium-low heat until you have the consistency of a thick tomato sauce. You may need to add a little more liquid if necessary.

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Complete Part 1.
Prepare the ingredients for Part 1 and 2.
Cook the pasta and while it is cooking make part 1 and part 2 using different saucepans.
To the fish mixture add the ‘Nduja mixture.
Drain the pasta and dress it with the sauce.
Dish it out into separate plates or into a large serving plate, top with the breadcrumb mixture and serve.

I have written about ‘Nduja in an earlier post. See: Nduja, A Spreadable and Spicy Pork Salame From Calabria

 

SIMPLE SUMMER MEALS

Especially in summer, I like to prepare a number of small courses and always made with in season ingredients.

These were recent meals:

Feature Photo fried zucchini with roasted garlic.

Roasted baby tomatoes – very fragrant.

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Whole figs stuffed with walnuts and feta and topped with a sprig of mint – then the figs are cut in half.

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This was  followed by roasted summer vegetables (zucchini, eggplants, peppers, onion, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and rosemary) and topped with a layer of fresh breadcrumbs and a little grated Parmigiano added in the last 5-7 minutes of baking).  This dish is eaten cold.

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The roasted vegetable course was followed by a salad of lightly poached green prawns mixed with watercress, fresh peaches and a light dressing of homemade egg mayonnaise, a dash of fresh cream,  pepper and fresh, French tarragon.

Dessert is always simple in summer. I have an ice cream machine and this comes in handy.  Another constant old favourite is Zuppa Inglese; it is always appreciated especially if in summer it is topped with berries lightly marinaded with some Alchermes.

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Another simple dessert that I enjoy making is a Cour a la creme (cream cheese, crème fraîche). I bought two of these heart shaped, ceramic moulds in San Francisco. I top the heart (s) with fresh berries or fresh figs . Unfortunately I have not snapped a photo of this dessert.

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The last Cour  a la creme I made was with drained yogurt (Labneh) mixed with a little honey and topped with slices of mango.

Labna
500 ml full-fat Greek-style yoghurt

Line a colander with one layer of muslin and place the colander on top of a bowl so that the whey of the yogurt can drain off naturally. Leave the yoghurt to drain about 8 hours or longer. I usually place mine (covered) to drain in the fridge.
See  Watermelon, Labneh and Dukkah salad
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Poaching liquid for green prawns:

There must be sufficient liquid to cover the shelled green prawns.

Combine these ingredients to make a poaching liquid: a mixture of water, wine (more water 2/3 than wine 1/3), a few peppercorns, a little salt, fresh bay leaves, soft fresh celery leaves and fresh herbs  – usually thyme.

Bring the poaching liquid to below boiling and simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, and let the ingredients infuse for at least 20 minutes.

Bring  the poaching liquid to the boil, add the green prawns and make sure that they are covered by the liquid. Wait for a few minutes until the temperature of the poaching liquid is just below boiling. Turn off the the heat and leave the prawns to steep until they will change colour (to coral- orange) and are no longer translucent – this happens within minutes.

Drain the prawns and cool the quickly – I spread them out on a cold surface. Use the poaching liquid (stock) for another fish based dish (for example a risotto) or to poach your next batch of prawns or fish. Keep this stock in the freezer till you are ready to use it again.

Dress with one of your favourite dressings. How about ZOGGHIU (Sicilian pesto/dressing made with garlic, parsley and mint)..also good with grilled fish or squid.

 

Recipes:

Long Live Zuppa Inglese

Zuppa Inglese, A Famous, Italian Dessert

Alchermes/Alkermes (the Liqueur Used to Make Zuppa Inglese)

PRAWN GUIDE, make better choices

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I am likely to be cooking prawns sometime over the Christmas period, and not just any prawns.

Those of you who read The Age (a Melbourne newspaper) may have read:

Date December 15, 2015

Woolies, Coles, Aldi caught up in child labour scandal

Woolworths, Coles and Aldi are embroiled in a child labour scandal, with all three supermarket chains confirming they sell prawns or seafood supplied by a Thai company at the centre of the allegations.

Graphic evidence of forced labour, including child labour, has been uncovered at a prawn peeling factory owned by major seafood supplier Thai Union.

An investigation by Associated Press found hundreds of workers at the company’s factories working under poor conditions with some workers, mainly from Myanmar, locked inside or otherwise unable to leave the factory……

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I am always fussy about the prawns I buy.

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You may be interested in this Prawn Guide:

www.prawnguide.org

This guide will help you choose more sustainable and ethical prawns this Summer.

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 Other useful sites:

PASTA FANTASIA CON FRUTTI DI MARE, Multicolored Pasta with Seafood

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This is a very small serve of pasta with seafood, but we all had seconds. In Italy less seafood would be used – it is pasta with a condiment (seafood sauce) and not seafood with pasta.

The packet of dry pasta was bought in Amalfi where my friends were holidaying recently. The packet was packed in a suitcase and arrived in Broadbeach on the Gold Coast in Queensland where they live.

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Last week I visited these two friends who had purchased the pasta for me and were waiting for my comingl to cook it. All four of us who were eating the pasta love seafood and this is what we did.

Fresh prawns and squid are prolific on the Gold Coast and the idea of using the broth left over from steaming some mussels open appealed to us. Also there was plenty of basil and fresh thyme in the fridge, left over from the meal of the night before. White wine is always on hand as are garlic and onions.

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The colours for the pasta are all derived from vegetables and spices: spinach is used for the green, beetroot is used for the magenta, sepia (ink from ink fish or squid) for the brown, paprika for orange and the yellow is derived from turmeric.

The makers call it Pasta Fantasia Multicolore – it is easy to guess what these words mean and the mixture of shapes and colours and stripes are truly very appealing visually. Unfortunately the flavours of the vegetables and spices were not at all evident and if they had been, the pasta would have been truly fantastic (in the true sense of the word).

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We cooked the pasta at the same time as we cooked the seafood.

500g pasta
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, cut small
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
500g mussels, debearded
500g squid cut into slices
500g green prawns, cleaned
1 cup white wine
½ cup fresh thyme and ½ cup shredded basil, leave some leaves whole for serving

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Clean the mussels and place them into a pan with a little water. Cook for 5 minutes or longer, making sure all the shells have opened. If some don’t, cook the unopened ones for longer and they will open. Remove mussels from their shells, but save a few for decoration and save the broth. The broth will be quite salty because the mussels would have released their juices and sea water. Filter it before using in case there is grit. Some of the broth will be used to flavour the seafood part of the cooking and the rest can be used with the boiling water to cook the pasta. we ended up with about 1 and 1/2 cups of broth.

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In a large, heavy based pan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and sauté for 3-5 minutes until golden. Add the squid and cook for 3- 5 minutes, then add the prawns, a pinch of salt and pepper and stir them around in the heat until they colour. Add the wine and about 1/3 cup of the mussel broth and the herbs. Evaporate some of the wine. Add the mussels and cover contents with a lid – cook for 3-4 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water mixed with the left over mussel broth to the boil over high heat. Adjust by adding salt if it needs it. Add the pasta and cook it till al-dente and stirring occasionally. The packet states cooking time is about 9-11 minutes. Drain pasta and add the seafood mixture. Toss to combine.
Add more basil if you wish and either transfer it to a a serving platter or serve it from the pan. We are very good friends and we served it from the pan.

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SALSA VERDE – ITALIAN GREEN SAUCE

To Good Friends!

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Just recently one of my Adelaide friends made a salsa verde to accompany some lightly roasted sirloin and roasted vegetables. Most enjoyable.

Making salsa verde was one of my tasks as a teenager in the family kitchen.

There always seemed to be some salsa verde in our fridge; it was used specifically as a condiment for our frequent serves of pesce lesso, (poached or steamed fish) and bollito (boiled meat). Broth (and hence boiled meat) was a weekly affair. Traditionally it was intended to accompany plain tasting, boiled food.

I was very surprised that I have not included a recipe for salsa verde on my blog as I make it often.

I have never measured or weighed ingredients when making sauces, but these estimations seem to produce what I am after. Allow this salsa to rest for at least an hour so that the flavours become better balanced.

Traditionally the consistency of the sauce is semi liquid, especially if you wish to pour it  over fish or meat. However, by adding larger amounts of solid ingredients, this sauce can be presented as a large blob on the side of the meat or fish.

To serve the salsa verde with fish, I sometimes use lemon juice instead of vinegar. In latter years I also started to add grated lemon peel.

Recipes evolve and over time, especially in other parts of the world where salsa verde has been become popular and different herbs have been added. For example I have noticed that mint or tarragon or oregano or rocket have snuck in. These herbs are not common in the traditional Italian recipe that originated in the north of Italy but has spread all over Italy. In Sicilian it is called sarsa virdi .

Salsa verde can be used to jazz anything up – vegetables, roasts, cold meats, smoked fish, crayfish etc. I sometimes use it to stuff hard boiled eggs (remove the yolk, mix with salsa verde and return it to the egg).

I had someone ask me recently about using it with left over Christmas turkey. Why not?

 

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INGREDIENTS

  • parsley, 1 cup cut finely,
  • wine vinegar, 1 ½ tablespoonful
  • anchovies, 3-4 cut finely
  • capers, ½ cup, if the salted variety, rinse, soak to remove salt
  • extra virgin olive oil, ¾ cup
  • fresh bread, the white part of 1 slice
  • egg, 1, hard boiled, chopped finely
  • garlic, 2 cloves chopped
  • green olives, chopped, ½ cup

 

  • Soak the bread briefly in 1 tablespoon of the vinegar and squeeze dry.
  • Combine all of the ingredients and stir them gently together in a wide mouthed jar or jug.
  • The anchovies generally provide sufficient salt, but taste the sauce and season to taste.

Variations

When I lived in my parent’s house a little of the mixed garden pickles (called sotto aceti or giardiniera) was a must. Select a couple of small pieces of the white root (turnip) or green (small gherkins). Omit the ½ tablespoon of vinegar.

This is the type of sauce where you can vary the ingredients. Add different amounts of ingredients – more or less anchovies or capers.

 

 

SOME FOOD SHOTS in New York City and Radish Carpaccio

Life is just a bowl of cherries.

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I have been meaning to write a post from NYC during the last two weeks but have had no time to do this – too much to do, friends to see, many art galleries to visit and so much good food to eat. We ate at many good restaurants and for those that do not like to cook, there was so much good prepared food to buy (not in all neighbourhoods).

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I have decided that posting some photos may tell the story.

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Bistecca Fiorentina was very good at one of the restaurants.

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Some magnificent salumerie (small goods shops) were  a delight to see.

Salumeria at Eataly

These providores also sold a wide range of raw food as well as high quality take a way food.

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You could also eat it there.

Zucchini at Eataly

You will recognise these vegetables.

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Good looking already prepared meat.

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There was a variety of ready to eat fish.

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Prepared dips and the antipasto selection. Caponata is one of the selections.

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Seafood – fresh and sustainable at one of the many Farmers Markets.

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A salad of grilled soya beans and heirloom carrots in one of the many organic, vegetarian restaurants.

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A radish carpaccio as a starter in another restaurant.

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A variety of oysters from many places around NYC (not just Long Island) were one of the many the highlights in this fish restaurant.

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Of course we shopped and ate at Eataly.

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We saw many sea urchins at several seafood markets; they were relatively inexpensive and full of roe.We also had pasta and sea urchins in one of the restaurants.

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I took very few photos in restaurants but I ate well. Bunches of broccoli de rave (cime di rape) and kale were very common in super markets and on on restaurant menus.

Recipe for Spaghetti Chi Ricci – Spaghetti con Ricci di Mare (Spaghetti with Sea Urchins)

Recipe for Radish Carpaccio

Slice radish length wise.
Salt them lightly and  leave them for about 60 minutes in a colander to remove some of their juice. Cover with a little black olive Tapenade and serve.

Recipe for Caponata.

Next Mitchigan.