or Radicchio Triestino, a small-soft-leaf radicchio.
My father grew Radicchio Triestino in his Adelaide garden but I have never seen it for sale in Australia.
These are some of the salad vegetables I am able to purchase at the Queen Victoria Market. Notice the pale coloured beetroot (I also cook the leaves like spinach). The beetroot I ate in Trieste was always pale in colour.
Next to the red radicchio is the head of speckled, pale radicchio (radicchio biondo= blonde/blond).
Fennel and the baby cabbage are also suitable salad vegetables, as is rocket – rucola in Triestine.
Helping my mother to make Insalata Russa was my job throughout my childhood and teenage years. It was a legacy from Trieste and a reliable antipasto served on special occasions. She kept making it well into the 80s and then it would re-appear intermittently throughout the years. She would present it before we would sit at a table for a meal, as a nibble… she would pass around a spoonful of Insalata Russa on a slice of bread from a French stick.
Those of you who are of a certain age may remember Rosso Antico (a red aperitif) or a Cinzano (vermouth) or a martini. Sometimes it would be a straight gin with a twist of lemon. Today you may prefer a different aperitif like Aperol or a glass of Prosecco or a Campari – you get the idea!
It keeps well in the fridge and is an easy accompaniment for drinks – I am thinking of those unexpected guests who may pop in …. a drink, a small plate of Insalata Russa and some good bread. If my mother was still alive she would probably be making it on Christmas eve or Christmas day.
Insalata Russa is made with cooked vegetables: peas, green beans, carrots and potatoes cut into small cubes and smothered with homemade egg mayonnaise. She always decorated the top with slices of hard-boiled eggs and slices of stuffed green olives. Sometimes she also placed on top small cooked prawns or canned tuna.
***** Modern Times…..Try it sprinkled with Yarra Valley caviar (fish roe) instead.
Ensaladilla rusa is the Spanish version of this salad and it is a very common tapas dish; It was certainly still popular as a Tapas in Madrid and Barcelona when I was there last year.
The Spaniards make it the same way, but the canned tuna is often mixed in the salad rather than being placed on top. Some versions have olives, roasted red peppers or asparagus spears arranged on top in an attractive design or just plain with boiled eggs around the edge of the bowl.
Making it with my mother, we never weighed our ingredients, but the following combination and ratios should please anyone’s palate.
This recipe (and the photos of the pages in the book) are from my second book – Small Fishy Bites.
2-3 medium sized potatoes, waxy are best
1 cup of shelled peas
3 hard-boiled eggs
3/4 -1 cup of green beans cut into 1cm pieces
1/2 cup of Italian giardinieria (mixed garden pickles in vinegar) or cetriolini (small pickled gherkins)
1 and 1/2 cups of homemade egg mayonnaise
Cook potatoes and carrots in their skins in separate pans; cool, peel and cut them into small cubes.Cook the peas and beans separately; drain and cool. Hard boil the eggs; peel them and cube 2 of them.Cut the giardiniera into small pieces (carrots, turnips, cauliflower, gherkins).Mix all of these ingredients together with a cup of home made egg mayonnaise.Level out the Russian salad either on a flat plate or in a bowl and leave in the fridge for at least an hour before decorating it by covering it with the remaining mayonnaise.Have a good old time placing on the top slices of hard-boiled eggs, drained tuna or small cooked prawns and caviar. Bits of giardiniera will also add colour.
My mum made maionese with a wooden spoon. I use a food processor or an electric wand to make mayonnaise:
Mix 1 egg with a little salt in the blender food processor, or in a clean jar (if using the wand).
Slowly add 1–1 ½ cups of extra virgin olive oil in a thin, steady stream through the feed tube while the blender or processor is running, Before adding additional oil, ensure that the oil, which has previously been added has been incorporated completely.
Add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice when the mayonnaise is creamy. If you are not making the traditional Italian version, it is common to add vinegar instead of lemon juice and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.
As an alternative, the Spaniards like to add a little saffron (pre-softened in a little warm water). Add this once the mayonnaise is made.
The red radicchio was made into a salad with canned tuna, cooked borlotti and red onion (Recipe from my book: Small Fishy Bites, Marisa Raniolo Wilkins, New Holland publisher).
The fennel was braised and topped with tapenade.
INSALATA DI TONNO, FAGIOLI E RADICCHIO (Tuna salad with borlotti beans and radicchio)
This very simple salad was popular as an antipasto or a light meal when I was growing up as child in Trieste. In the Triestian dialect this salad is called Insalata di tonno, fazoi, zivola e radiccio.
Trieste is in North Eastern Italy not far from Venice and if you are ever in Trieste you are likely to find this salad in any trattoria (for home style food) especially those trattorie that have a buffet.
No quantities needed for the recipe – the proportions are up to you. I like more beans than tuna and I cook my own (well covered with water, soaked overnight, change the water and cook slowly – no salt – bay leaves or a stick celery, whole carrot or whole onion do add flavour).
If you are using canned beans, a tin is 400g. A tin of tuna 425g.
If the tuna is not packed in oil, drain it before using.
INGREDIENTS AND PROCESS
tinned tuna (packed in oil, the tuna is not drained and is broken up with a fork)
borlotti beans (drained if canned)
red onion, finely cut rings
For the dressing combine extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, a little French mustard and some salt and pepper.
You can combine all of the ingredients together or layer it.
Place red radicchio leaves at the bottom of a bowl as a bed for the salad. Next, put on the beans, then the tuna and onion as the top layer.
Pour over the dressing.
Sometimes a little bit of imagination makes an old favourite look special. This is just baked fennel with black olives but the special touch is that I used tapenade (which I make regularly and usually have some on standby in the fridge – see photo above).
I have written about making tapenade. See: TAPENADE
1-2 fennel bulbs
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ cup tapenade
¾ cup white wine, stock or water or pernod, a mixture any
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs butter
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
Prepare the fennel:
Remove the fennel stalks that are not worth saving from the bulbs and discard – keep some of the fresher ones (this is mainly done for appearance but may be also be suitable for eating). Trim away any bruised or discoloured portion of the bulbs. Cut the bulbs length-wise (vertically) into eights (or more or less) depending on the size of the fennel. Save the fronds.
Add the sliced fennel to a pan with hot olive oil and butter and sauté for 5-10 minutes, turning occasionally.
Add seasoning and about 1 cup of liquid (see above). Add garlic and fronds.
Cook uncovered on gentle- moderate heat for about 10 minutes, the liquid will reduce but add more if necessary
Add a teaspoon of sugar to help caramelize the juices. Increase the heat to evaporate any liquid left in the pan – this will result with the fennel cooking in the left over oil and butter and turning a deep gold colour. .
Place the fennel on a dish and pour over it any juices. Add a couple of spoonfuls of tapenade to the pan and heat it – only just to take off the chill. Spoon the tapenade onto the fennel and serve. I guess the chives add to the composition, but these are not necessary.
This is a recipe for an apple strudel as made in Trieste. Unlike the very thin pastry common in the Austrian strudel and other European countries that once belonged to the Austrian- Hungarian empire, the pastry in a Triestine strudel is not as thin and therefore easier to roll.
Autumn is a good time for apple desserts and I was asked recently about suitable food to take on a picnic. This apple strudel is nice to eat hot or cold and the pastry does not go soggy.
With Easter coming up and apples been so abundant, a Strucolo de pomi could be the go.
I have written about Strucolo before and as a child it was my job to prepare the apples. Here is the link to the recipe:
My friend called them Vanille Kipferl, I recognised them instantly as Chifeletti (‘ch’ sound is pronounced as k in Italian and ‘letti’ at the end of words in Italian means small.). Same recipe, different name. But it is not surprising that we share the same recipe – my friend is from Vienna and I came from Trieste and both cities were part of the Austo- Hungarian empire.
The Vanille Kipferl (or Chifeletti) are frail, crescent-shaped, little biscuits dusted with icing sugar. They are popular at Christmas time in Austria and together with her much-loved cherry cake they were my friend’s contribution to our shared Christmas eve dinner. I ate the last of the kipferl recently; they last well and the flavour is said to improve when stored well.
I have found slight variations in the different Triestine and Austrian recipes sighted, (for example some add egg yolks to the mixture), but the ratio of ingredients seems to be the same. In Trieste, rather than adding vanilla to the dough they use icing sugar that has been flavoured with vanilla beans.
Chifeletti in Trieste are also called Lunette (small moons) or Curabiè, perhaps from Kourabiès, which are the Greek version of these biscuits. Interestingly enough there is an eastern Greek Community in Trieste and when visiting this very pleasant Italian city, it is worth seeing the Greek Orthodox church – Church of Saint Nicolò. There is also a Serbian – Orthodox church called San Spiridione, but this is another story and very telling of the historical culture and racial mix in Trieste’s population.
In my mother’s pantry, the jar used to store her icing sugar always had vanilla beans buried in it. Vanilla infused icing sugar for dusting is optional but if you want the real deal: Place vanilla beans in a jar of icing sugar, seal it and leave it for at least a week.
300g plain flour
100g finely ground almonds
vanilla (a little paste or essence)
1 pinch salt
icing sugar for dusting
Rub the butter into the flour, sugar, ground almonds and salt and form it into dough. Shape the dough into a ball, cover it with plastic film and leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Divide and shape the dough into finger thick long rolls and cut each roll into 2 cm pieces. Curve each small piece of dough into small moon shapes.
Place the biscuits on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake in a pre-heated oven at 150°C for 10-15 minutes (They should be pale golden in colour and must not brown).
Remove them carefully from the oven and from the baking tray and when they are still warm dust them with plenty of icing sugar (vanilla flavoured).
When they are cold store them carefully in layers, in a tin with plenty of icing sugar.
The photo of my friend’s Cherry cake is below. As you can see, the batter is like pastry and there are many cherries in the centre.
Other pastries also called Chifeletti popular in Trieste are made with potato dough. These are fried and then rolled in sugar; my mother and Triestine aunts used to make these with the same dough as gnocchi…..gnocchi for lunch, followed by Chifeletti made with some left over dough.
Foods cooked ‘in tecia’ are from the Veneto and the Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions of Italy.
A tecia is a saucepan in the Venetian dialect (teccia in Italian). It is wide and of medium height, usually called a casserole in English and it is perfect for cooking this dish. Pollastro or gallina is chicken in Italian.
The recipes for pollastro in teccia vary and my version also contains mushrooms and potatoes. It is a homely way to cook chicken in the north of Italy; notice the use of butter, sage or marjoram which are not common in the south of Italy. I grew up in Trieste and I am very familiar with this dish.
1 whole chicken (mine was 1.8 kg and free range)
2 stalks of celery
50 g butter
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of dry white wine
400 g of ripe, chopped tomatoes (can use cannned)
2 sprigs of sage leaves or marjoram (I use fresh; these are removed after cooking)
salt and pepper to taste
potatoes ,1-2 per person depending on size and tastes
½ cup chicken broth or use a stock cube
Cut the chicken into 8 pieces and wipe dry.
Roughly chop the onion, celery and carrots.
Place the butter and oil in the pan (which will hold all of the ingredients), add the vegetables and toss them around in the hot pan until well coated.
Add the chicken pieces and brown them.
Add wine, tomatoes, broth, cloves, herbs, salt and pepper, cover and cook all over low heat.
The chicken should take about about 60 minutes. Either cut or use the potatoes whole – you will need to estimate how long into the cooking time you need to add these. I added the potatoes about 30 minutes beforehand and the mushrooms 15 minutes before the chicken was cooked.
Remove the herbs and serve.
I bet that you have never seen gulasch spelt like this…unless you are from Trieste. Trieste was part of the Austro- Hungarian empire and much of its cooking reflects this.
Gulasch in Trieste is made with meat, onions and paprika. It does not contain tomato or potatoes or peppers or other spices. I have seen recipes that include a few winter herbs – rosemary or marjoram, but this is not common. My touch is to also add some red wine and caraway seeds; some cooks do this, some do not.
In Trieste gulasch can be made with beef or pork and may have a mixture of meats: beef shin, pork and maybe horse meat. I do not wish to put you off; I make mine just with beef, either shin, bolar or oyster blade, and it tastes wonderful.
Like all meat stews or braises it is best made the day before to allow the flavours to develop even further.
It needs to cook slowly – I cooked mine for about three hours and the slow cooking is essential.
2 k beef (shin, bolar, oyster blade) cut into large squares
2-3 onions, sliced finely
extra virgin olive oil and if you have it, about 2 tbsp. lard (no mucking around with this recipe)
2-4 bay leaves
2 tbsp. sweet paprika and 1/2-1 tbs of hot paprika
¾ cup of red wine and 1 tbs caraway seeds (optional, but I like to do this)
water or stock to cover the meat
salt to taste
PROCESSES Sauté the onions in hot oil till golden. Add beef and paprika and sauté the beef. Add wine and some stock (or water), caraway seeds and salt; cover and simmer on low heat until the meat is tender. Stir occasionally and make sure that the level of liquid is maintained.
In Trieste, i triestini (the people from Trieste) may accompany their gulasch with spatzle (egg, flour, water made into a soft dough and the mixture is pushed through the holes of a colander into boiling salted water or into the boiling juice of the gulasch). Some like to have it with knodel (dumplings made with bread but some also make them with potatoes) others with polenta.
I like to have it with polenta – plain, ordinary (not Instant) polenta cooked in salted water and stirred until it begins to detach itself from the sides of the pot, then baked in an oiled tin till it forms a nice crust. Love it, and I doubt very much if my Sicilian relatives would enjoy it.
When I lived in my parent’s house we ate brodo (broth) once per week. Sometimes it was made with chicken, sometimes with yearling beef and at other times it was a mixture of the two meats; a few bones were always included.
We always had brodo as the first course and the boiled meat as the second course, and this was always accompanied with Salsa verde.
Brodo is popular all over Italy and is considered essential when a member of the household is feeling unwell. It is seen as a restorative food in many other cultures as well.
Often we would have tortellini in brodo, but at other times, my mother added pastina (small pasta); these were either capelli d’angelo (angel’s hair) or thin egg noodles or stelline (small stars) or quadretti (small squares). Most of the time we had or favourite: gnocchetti di semolino floating in our brodo – these are small gnocchi, a specialty from Trieste. Because I spent my childhood there I became an expert gnocchetti maker from an early age.
Lately, with winter colds I have been making brodo and last week I also made gnocchetti. Although making them was second nature to me but next time I make them I will use a coffee spoon to make them smaller.
Beat softened butter and egg with a small wooden spoon until soft and well mixed. Use a small jug, milk saucepan or a bowl with steep sides.
Add the semolina and grated cheese slowly and continue to mix vigorously until perfectly smooth.
Bring the broth to the boil.
Use a wet teaspoon to shape the gnocchetti. Take small quantities of the mixture and slip small oval shapes off the spoon into the boiling broth. Keep the broth on a gentle boil.
Continue shaping the gnocchetti and poaching them until the mixture is finished. The gnocchietti rise to the surface when cooked (about 5 minutes). If cooking large quantities of gnocchetti, to prevent over cooking, take the cooked ones out with a slotted spoon before slipping in the new ones, but with the above amounts this will not be necessary.
Ladle broth and a few gnocchetti into each bowl and present with grated cheese.
The pasta I use is commercially made, but when I eat brodo in Sicily at my zia Niluzza’s (my father’s sister) makes fresh quadrettini (little squares) – she cuts the fresh pasta amazingly quickly.
Recently I had a conversation with friends who had just been to Italy for the first time and they were telling me how difficult they found ordering food in restaurants because of their lack familiarity with the language. They eventually found a restaurant where they felt comfortable and returned each night to eat various versions of bistecca (steak)– they knew this word.
Pollo can be a young rooster (or cock) or a chicken (or chook) and pollo arrosto is the generic term for a roast chicken. My son Alex, as a teenager would order pollo arrosto each time we ate in a restaurant and all over Italy. He ordered this not necessarily because it was his favourite food, but because he was confused by the choices, and irrespective of what was written on the menu or we discussed beforehand, he blurted out ‘pollo arrosto’.
Interestingly pollo arrosto is not necessarily what many of us recognize as roast chicken; for a start, there are always odori, (smells=herbsas Italians call them), secondly it is likely to be pot roasted or grilled over a fire, or if cooked in the oven it may have a slurp of chicken broth and wine added to keep it moist and be cooked covered for part of the time.
Alex had trouble ordering roast chicken in restaurants in Sicily, in fact I have eaten very little chicken with my Sicilian relatives. If you are sick there is always gallinainbrodo (the chicken in broth) or as a pasta sauce made with a young rooster (galletto) cooked in tomato, and if you know someone from Ragusa you may have eaten gallina ripiena in brodo (stuffed chicken in broth) at Christmas.
Here is an unusual recipe for roast chicken reputed to be from Messina, (right, northern corner of Sicily); I found this same recipe in two sources: Anna Pomar’s La Cucina Tradizionale Siciliana and Giuseppe Coria’s Profumi Di Sicilia. Both are sketchy and I have filled in the details.
1.Pre-cook the chicken. Use only enough water to cover the chicken. Add odori (common for broth are celery leaves and a few sprigs of parsley, one carrot and an onion). Add a little salt, bring to the boil and cook the chicken for 20-30 minutes.
2.Drain the chicken. Cool it so that you can handle it. Save the broth and use elsewhere.
3.Butterfly the chicken: either cut away the chicken’s back bone or cut it along its back, spread the chicken flat (skin side up) and using your hands, press firmly to flatten it.
4.Brush the inside and the outside of the chicken with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and chopped parsley. Make about 1 cup altogether, 1 lemon is sufficient.
5.Place on a hot grill and cook on both sides for 15-20 minutes (a moderate flame). An outside BBQ is perfect as there will be smoke. Keep on brushing the marinade over the chicken while it cooks.
POLLO ALLA DIAVOLA
The recipe above reminds me of pollo alla diavola, my favourite way to eat chicken when I was a child growing up in Trieste and eating in country restaurants. I have also seen it called pollo al mattone (chicken cooked under a brick).
Use a small chicken (younger and small in size – approx 1 k). It does not need pre-cooking. Once butterflied, marinade it for at least an hour. Alla diavola means ‘as the devil cooks it’, therefore add about 1 teaspoon of ground pepper. Once it is on the grill, to keep the chicken flat by placing a weight on top – a brick or wide frypan with a heavy bottom. The chicken will cook more quickly and evenly.
According to my Sicilian relatives, only Sicilians know how to cook baccalà. Having lived in Trieste (north Italy), I was very familiar with this fish that is cooked in a variety of ways in this region. I particularly like baccalà mantecato, (boiled cod fish and then whipped or beaten with oil and garlic – one of the most representative recipes in Venetian cuisine). I tried to introduce my Sicilian relatives to this once, but they were not interested. Sicilians are particularly conservative about food that isn’t theirs.
Baccalà mantecato is not easily found in restaurants (most restaurants in Australia cook Southern Italian food) but I have eaten it at Guy Grossi’s, The Merchant –an osteria in Melbourne with typical food from the north-east of Italy. Most of the food is presented as cichetti— bite-sized morsels.
The food at The Merchant brings back many childhood memories, including the Veneto dialect used for the names of the offerings on the menu (very similar to the Triestino dialect spoken in Trieste) .
Baccalà mantecato, has the thickness of a creamy, mashed potato. The fish spread is served cold and in my youth i ate it spread on crostini – thin slices of white bread, lightly fried till crisp in extra virgin olive oil. We passed the crostini around to guests while they drank an aperitivo. – usually a vermouth. Needless to say, a glass of prosecco or soave is also a good accompaniment. In Venice, baccalà mantecato is more likely to be spread on crostini made with cooked polenta that has been lightly toasted ( lightly fried or grilled) .
There are various recipes for how to make this and not all add milk. I was taught that the milk sweetened the taste and helped to preserve the white colour.
Thick pieces of salt cod (cut from the centre) are the thickest and the best. Leave the skin, but cut away fins and obvious bones. Cut into serving size pieces (7- 10cm). Rinse well in running water before soaking for 36-48 hours (over soaking will not spoil the fish, especially if the pieces of baccalà are thick). Keep it covered in a bowl in the fridge. Change the water at least 4-5 times.
INGREDIENTS baccalà, 800g, pre soaked
garlic, 1-2 cloves chopped very finely (I use a garlic press)
extra virgin olive oil, at least 1 cup
bay leaf, 1-3
parsley, finely chopped 1-2 tablespoons
milk, 2 litres
water, 1 litre
Cover the pre soaked baccalà with cold water and milk, and bring it slowly to the boil. Add a bay leaf.
Simmer gently for 30- 40 mins. Allow it to rest and cool in the liquid.
Remove the fish from the poaching liquid, pick out all the bones and remove the skin. Use a fork to break the flesh into small pieces.
Place fish in a bowl and add the garlic and about ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil. Begin to beat the fish with a wooden spoon and keep on adding oil as you would if you were making mayonnaise by hand. The mixture will look like a thick, white, fluffy cream. Keep on adding oil until the mixture will not absorb any more – it may absorb 1-1½ cups of oil.
The above process can also be done in a food processor.
The photograph of baccalà montecato was one of the entrées presented a couple of years ago as part of The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival; the event was called Around Italy in 7 Days – Travel north to south with a different gastronomic journey each night.
Massimiliano Ferraiuolo was the chef (originally from Naples) who was visiting from Italy for a week’s residence at Society Restaurant and cooking each evening. (This was the evening to celebrate food from the north of Italy). the baccalà montecato was presented on a bed of mashed fresh peas with black toasted bread (black squid ink was used in the bread mixture), sprinkled with paprika, toasted almonds and a fresh, red autumn leaf . Pumpernickel bread is also suitable.