Berry Semifreddo

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This simple and delicious recipe will make your heated summer day. With no effort, a fresh, light and sophisticated bite. Semifreddo is a traditional Italian summer dessert, easy to make at home with no need of a gelato maker. You can use 100% cream if you want, this specific recipe uses yogurt to make for a lighter option. You can also play around with different flavors: chocolate, coffee, meringue, other fruits, spices…

Watch video here

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INGREDIENTS
Seasonal mixed berries, 1 pound
Full-fat yogurt, 1 pound
Double cream, ½ pound
Powdered sugar, ½ pound
Lemon, 1

METHOD
Whip the cream with half the sugar and the zest of one lemon. Once stiff fold in the yogurt.
Wash the berries and mix with the remaining sugar and the juice of half a lemon.
Line a casserole with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Pour half of the yogurt cream in the casserole, cover with a layer of berries, then pour the remaining cream and cover all barriers. Freeze for at least 4 hours, overnight works great.
Serve in slices with some berries and their juice.

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Buon Appetito!

Red Pesto alla Trapanese

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A traditional summer recipe from Trapani in the western part of Sicily. It was the sailors from Genoa, stopping in the ports of Sicily, who introduced the island to their cherished pesto recipe. Sicilians embraced it and made it their own, by adding fresh tomatoes and using almonds instead of pine nuts, basically using more of what was available in their region. Mainly used as a pasta sauce, it’s also delicious as a dip or a spread in a sandwich. Perfect on a summer day after a refreshing swim in the sea.

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Recipe for 4
Ripe tomatoes, 1 pound
Garlic, 1 clove
Basil, 1/2 bunch
Almonds, 1/4 pound
Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino cheese, 1/2 pound
EVOO, 1/2 cup
Salt and pepper to taste
Conchiglie (sell) dry pasta, 1 pound

Method:
Bring to boil a large pot of water. Place the almonds on an oven tray and bake for five minutes at 400°F. Blanche the tomatoes in the salted boiling water for two minutes (keep the same water to cook your pasta) , then peel off the skins. Place tomatoes, garlic, almonds, half of the cheese, basil, half of the EVOO, a pinch of salt and a little pepper in a blender. Mix until smooth and creamy. Cook the pasta in the boiling water, once cooked, drain place in a bowl and fold in the pesto. Drizzle with raw EVOO and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Buon appetito!

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Wild cherry and rose petal jam

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If you are lucky enough to have some wild cherry trees near you, hurry up and make the most of their short season! Wild cherries are smaller and lighter in color than classical ones, and have a more acidic flavor. This great acidity works perfectly with sweetness, giving a tart note to recipes like pies, crumbles, pancakes or strudels. Here is a recipe for a delicate jam, great to pair with pancakes, toast and fresh goat’s milk cheeses.

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Recipe:
2 pounds wild cherries
1 pound sugar
1 teaspoon dried rose petals
1 apple peel

Method:
Wash and pit the cherries. Add to a pot with all other ingredients and cook for about 40 minutes. The apple peel is essential to get a nice dense texture as it’s rich in pectine. Rose petals will give a delicate touch, you could use vanilla or mint instead. Sterilise your jars and pour in the jam whilst still boiling hot. If the process is done correctly, the jam will last for 6 months at least. This recipe can be applied to other fruit as well, lowering a little the sugar content. Wild cherries are tart and need an extra push of sweetness, but say you were using ripe sweet peaches, you wouldn’t need as much.

Wrap your jars nicely, store & enjoy during the months when wild cherries are not in season or give away as presents.

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Pecorino Love

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Pecorino in Italian translates to “of sheep” indicating the milk used to produce the cheese. It’s a staple across Italy, particularly on the islands and in southern regions. It used to be one of ancient Rome’s most praised foods, it’s consumption recommended to fight tiredness.

Compared to cow and goat, sheep’s milk is far richer in fat and protein – nearly double the quantities – which gives the cheese its creaminess and density. A favorite in Sicily is sheep’s milk ricotta, essential in many traditional dishes such as Cannoli and Cassata.

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When it comes to hard cheeses, the most popular ones are Pecorino Toscano, Pecorino Romano and Pecorino Sardo. If aged under 40 days they are classified as fresh pecorino. In Sardinia, the DOP version is aged for only 2 months while for Pecorino Toscano the ageing period raises to 4 months and to 5 for Romano. All three cheeses have their own set of production rules in order to be classified as the DOP hard cheese we are all familiar with. Try using pecorino as part of a cheese board, served with raw fresh fava beans or peas. It is a custom to use grated Pecorino Romano on pasta instead of Parmigiano Reggiano, and on very popular dishes such as Cacio e Pepe, Amatriciana and Carbonara.

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In recent years a unique native grape variety has come back to life after risking extinction: Pecorino! Yes, there’s a wine bearing the same name of the cheese. Popular in the central regions of Abruzzo Marche, Umbria and Lazio, many think the name comes from the fact the wine has similar flavors to the cheese though the origin is probably another. Apparently sheep would pass by this  varietal’s vineyards on their way to the mountains during the summer “transumanza”, and would love snacking on the fresh fruit from the vines.

So why not plan for a pecorino themed night? Pecorino cheese and pecorino wine!

 

Grissini

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Most Italian restaurant tables always feature grissini (breadsticks), a very traditional crunchy bite to munch on whilst going through the menu. Originally from the Piedmont region, they were invented in the 17th century as a remedy to Duke Vittorio Amedeo II of Savoia’s digestion problems. Struggling to come up with solutions, his doctor asked the court’s bread maker to come up with a crunchy and very light bread variety. The baker took a piece of the bread dough commonly used for “ghersa”,  a typical bread from Turin, shaping into thin crispy strips thus eliminating the soft inside part which was the hardest one to digest. For the first time the Duke could comfortably eat bread, and the legend goes that thanks to this recipe he recovered his health entirely, becoming the first King of the Savoia dynasty just a few years later. Some say the ghost of the Duke still roams the halls of his castle wielding a grissino.

Since then they boomed in popularity, even becoming a favorite of Napoleon who established a dedicated postal service to have them delivered to France. They come in all shapes and flavors, and are quite easy to make at home. So dive into the following recipe of this Piedmontese classic:

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Grissini alle nocciole
Breadsticks with hazelnuts
 
Ingredients
Yeast, 1 ounce (2 tablespoons)
“00” flour, 2 pounds (1 kg)
Luke warm water, 2 ½ cups
Sea salt, 2 tablespoons
Sugar, 1 tablespoon
Extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoon
Hazelnuts, 1 pound

Method
Place the yeast, sugar and a splash of warm water in a bowl. Let it sit for a few minutes and let it do its thing. Add all ingredients in the bowl and mix (electric mixer) or kneed until smooth  and  uniform.  Cover  the  bowl  with  a  damp  clean  tea  towel  and  let sit  for  about  2 hours, or until the dough has roughly doubled in size. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1” thick rectangle. With a knife cut it into 1” thick strips. Place on an oven tray with greaseproof paper.
Bake at 375°F for about 15 minutes or until light brown.
Try serving wrapped with prosciutto crudo.

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Buon appetito!

Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

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Making gnocchi is easier than making your own fresh pasta, it may sound intimidating but it shouldn’t. There are a few tricks to follow that will make your life so much easier. The first nonna (granny) tip not to undermine is to use the right potato. ‘Old’ potatoes are what you’re looking for, not the newly harvested ones, but those that have been sitting for a while, ideally last year’s harvest, as they have a higher concentration of starch and a lower content of water. This permits us to use less flour, and achieve a nice and fluffy texture. You don’t want to use too much flour, seriously the dough may seem sticky at first if following these proportions, but the last thing you want is to taste flour over potato and have a rock-hard bite. When it comes to consistency using the egg is also an essential part of the recipe. Lastly, peel and mash the potatoes whilst they are still hot; you may burn your fingertips a little but it’s worthwhile. Follow these simple tips and you will master the art of gnocchi making. Here is a simple summer recipe to celebrate the arrival of tomato season, gnocchi are great year-round served with different sauces.

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Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

Watch recipe: https://vimeo.com/219109292 
Recipe for 4

Ingredients:
Potatoes, 2 lb
“00” Flour ½ lb, plus extra for working the dough
Egg, 1
Salt, 3tbsp
Garlic, 1 clove
Datterino or cherry tomatoes, 1 lb
Basil, ½ bunch
Mozzarella, 1 ball
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, 4 tbsp
EVOO, 2 tbsp

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Method:
Gnocchi
In a pot of boiling water (2 quarts approx.) cook the potatoes skin on (approx.. 30 mins.). Once cooked through, drain, peel and mash whilst still hot, using a potato masher. Add egg, 1 tbsp salt and flour, mix together into a dough. Roll into cylinders about 2” in diameter and cut into 2” length gnocchi. Make sure to flour your surface and dough throughout, to prevent sticking. Salt the boiling water (2tbsp) and cook the gnocchi for about 3 minutes, or a little after they rise to the surface of the pot.
Sorrentina sauce
In a pan add a tbsp of EVOO and sizzle a peeled garlic clove. Add halved datterino tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes. Once gnocchi are cooked add to pan, season with 1 tbsp of EVOO, fresh torn basil and torn mozzarella. If desired serve with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

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Buon appetito!

What’s the difference? Parmigiano vs Grana Padano

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First things first – Parm, Parmesan and all other variations with Italian sounding names and Italian looking packagings are definitely not the real deal. We are talking about a traditional production that follows an 800-year old tradition, the King of cheeses that needs time, care and expertise to reach its final complex and rich flavor. Not a rushed and processed ‘cheese’ to sprinkle or melt over any dish… the game is just not on. Our topic of interest is the difference between Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano – two Italian cheeses that share a number of characteristics and may seem identical but have significant differences that make them two distinct products.

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AREA OF PRODUCTION
Parmigiano has a more restricted area of production within the region Emilia Romagna – in the provinces of the cities Parma, Reggio Emilia, Bologna and Modena. It is a little like champagne – it can only be made in a very specific area.
Grana, on the other hand still has a designated area of production but a much broader one that includes the regions Lombardia, Piemonte, Trentino, Emilia Romagna and Veneto.

DAILY PRODUCTION
Parmigiano is made every morning with a blend of milk from the night before and the fresh morning milking. This process makes the fat content rise. Grana can be made twice a day, with one batch of milk. It tends to be slightly leaner thus have a less round flavor. Fat content 2.7% Parmigiano 2% Grana.

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COW’S DIET
The cows that make the milk for Parmigiano can only eat fresh grass or dry hay from pastures. The ones that make Grana don’t have a regulated diet and eat mainly silage – fermented forage that carries fermentation elements that have a negative effect on the quality of the milk.

RENNET
Parmigiano uses exclusively traditional natural veal stomach, Grana can use vegetal or selected bacterical rennet.

PRESERVATIVES
No preservatives of any kind are allowed in Parmigiano. Grana’s regulation is looser and often contains lysozyme.

AGING
Containing less fat, Grana develops faster. Once it reaches 9 months it is ready to be consumed. Minimum aging for Parmigiano is 12 months, up to 36 – 48 months or more in some unique cases, developing incredible flavors, just like a really good vintage of wine.

PRICE
A strictly controlled process and the time spent sitting on a shelf have a cost. Parmigiano is always a little more expensive.

FLAVOR
Parmigiano is more round, complex and umami-like, Grana is milder and lighter.

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Like for everything there is no right or wrong, but there are a number of production standards and details that make Parmigiano a much higher quality and unique product. Parmigiano is a century old tradition, still made following the same knowledge and techniques developing an unbeatable and incredible flavor praised worldwide. Grana is a contemporary response to the need of a cheaper simpler option. Grana is good for cooking with, Parmigiano is the perfect finish to dishes adding a touch of perfection.