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Cover: Mamma Mia!

Recipes with eggs

29Aug 12

Fried Calamari

Fried Calamari

 

Fried Calamari is a must-know for any aspiring Italian chef. I often serve mine alongside home-made chips, taking advantage of the already heated and ready-to-go deep fryer. Besides, that combination sort of gives a nod to the British classic fish and chips.

You may have noticed that most seafood platters are served with lemon wedges, which is interesting to me. The combination of the citric fruit and fish comes from the olden days when it was more difficult to keep fish fresh for a long time. As there wasn’t ice in those days, the product often developed an unpleasant odor after being stored or transported to a nearby city, the journey often taking a few days. Lemon was used to combat the smell of the less-than-fresh seafood. Others say that it was used like salt to help preserve the quality of the nutrients and avoid any bacterial problems.

But now that transportation and keeping our seafood fresh isn’t a problem, we still use lemon! My parents were against the use of lemon and claimed that it is an insult to the chef to use it. If you like the combination, you are free to eat it as you choose. However, maybe you could try it without and enjoy the flavours of the fish exactly as they should be savoured.

(Also try this sea bass with white bean mash.)

Fried Calamari
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Fried Calamari is a must-know for any aspiring Italian chef
Ingredients
  • 400g calamari, cleaned and cut up in rings
  • 130g flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 130g breadcrumbs
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 lemon, cut up into wedges for serving
  • 200ml marinara sauce
Instructions
  1. Take the calamari, and with a paper towel, pat out any remaining water.
  2. Place the flour in a sandwich bag, along with the calamari, and shake, thoroughly coating all of the squid with the flour.
  3. Using a sieve in a bowl, dump out the contents of the bag into the sieve, and the excess flour will fall into the bowl.
  4. Beat the two eggs in another bowl, and carefully dip the flour-covered calamari into the egg.
  5. Next, pour the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper or whatever other seasonings you like into a sandwich bag.
  6. Repeat the process from before, dumping the egg-coated squid into the Ziploc bag. Shake and sieve out the excess breadcrumbs and seasoning.
  7. Meanwhile, heat up the deep fryer to cook the calamari, approximately 3 minutes until they turn a golden brown.
  8. Invert the squid onto a plate covered with paper towel to soak up any dripping oil.
  9. Remove the paper towel and serve alongside a few lemon wedges and the marinara sauce for dipping.

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22Aug 12

Veal Parmesan

Veal Parmesan

This recipe is a hearty favourite of mine. Pasta itself is filling, but with the breaded red meat and strong cheese, I recommend that you make this only when famished!

This is more of a lunch item as well. My wife and I prefer the Mediterranean diet, so we normally eat a substantial lunch and a lighter dinner. Eating a heavier lunch gives us the energy we need and allows time for proper digestion.

I lent this recipe to a friend of mine who wanted to show off his  culinary skills. He proudly served it as dinner to his family. Later, his wife confided to us that although it was tasty, their young son suffered from fairly vivid nightmares all night. We all know that there are a number of things that can affect your dreams, but my personal suspicion is that it was the heavy meal right before bedtime.

I serve a side salad with lettuce and tomatoes, drizzled over with oil and vinegar. The lettuce aids in digesting the meat. You could also try this summer salad with pears and cheese. Or save that option for your light dinner before a peaceful night’s sleep.

Veal Parmesan
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
With breaded red meat, pasta and cheese, I recommend this for when you are famished!
Ingredients
  • 300g fettucine
  • 2 veal cutlets
  • 100g all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 120ml red wine
  • 250ml passata
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 100g Parmesan cheese
  • 2 slices Mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Wrap the cutlets in clingfilm and use a mallet to flatten them.
  2. Beat the eggs in a small bowl, setting aside a separate bowl for flour and for the breadcrumbs.
  3. Cover the cutlets in flour by dipping them in the corresponding bowl.
  4. Next drench them in the beaten eggs and coat with breadcrumbs.
  5. In a frying pan on medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown the veal cutlets until golden on both sides. This should take 2-4 minutes on each side.
  6. Remove the veal from the heat and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  7. Pour in 3 tablespoons of olive oil into the same frying pan to sweat the onions.
  8. Once translucent, add the garlic for another minute.
  9. Pour in the wine and let it evaporate for 2 minutes.
  10. Stir in the passata, basil, oregano, parsley and almost all of the green onion, setting some aside for garnishing later. Let it all simmer together for 10 minutes or so. The sauce should begin to thicken and emit a pleasant aroma.
  11. When almost to the perfect consistency of your liking, place the veal cutlets on top of the sauce, but spoon out a few tablespoons on top of the veal.
  12. On top of that layer of sauce, equally distribute the Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses.
  13. Let this simmer for another 10 minutes on a low heat so that the veal is warmed up again and the cheese begins to melt.
  14. During those 10 minutes, you can prepare the fettucine according to instructions on the packet.
  15. On a plate, serve the fettucine, sauce and veal cutlets, garnished with the leftover green onion.

 

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12Jun 12

Pasta Dough

Pasta DoughNowadays, when we want pasta, we’re spoiled with choices as we can buy it ready-made either in its dried or fresh form. But the best is when we can make it ourselves! In order to do this fine food justice, you need to take on another of the essential basics for any budding Italian chef: making fresh pasta.

Use this fresh pasta in any of my delicious recipes or with others such as this pasta with chestnut mushrooms and Grana Padano Cream.

Ingredients:

  • 400g Tipo ‘00’ flour (plus a little extra for dusting the work surface)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of fine salt

Method:

1 – Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. I do it in a bowl instead of a flat surface as I find it easier and a little less messy. Just as we did for pizza dough last week, make a big dip in the top of your ‘hill’.

2 – Break the eggs, either into the hole or a bowl, and beat with a fork till smoothly combined. Then, using your fingertips, gradually work the eggs into the flour. Once it’s all combined into a big ball, knead it thoroughly. Really work the dough, pounding it, stretching it, rolling, folding and recombining it. The initially floury texture should ultimately become smoother, taking on an almost satin sheen.

3 – Divide the pasta into generous fist-sized portions, rolling each into smooth balls and wrapping them in clingfilm. Rest the pasta dough somewhere cool for a full hour. Whatever you’re using right away is then ready for step four. What’s left over can be frozen in sealed plastic bags.

4 – Now it’s time to roll out the dough. If you’ve got a pasta-making machine, simply follow the instructions for making wide thin sheets. I roll mine out with a rolling pin because that way I feel more in control. Dust the worktop with some of the extra flour, and roll out a full fistful of dough at a time, into something as near rectangular as you can manage, aiming for pasta as thin as you can get it, dusting the pasta afresh with each pass.

Technology can speed things up: you could use a food processor on ‘pulse’ to mix your dough. But when it comes to rolling the pasta, whether you go the old-fashioned rollingpin route, or use a modern pasta-making machine, either way will take a bit of time. Just be patient and think of the lovely fresh pasta you’ll have as a result of all your efforts.

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08Jun 12

Tiramisu

TiramisuMy first sweet is the utterly delicious tiramisu, which literally means ‘pick me up’, and – if you’re not already familiar with it – after one serving, you’ll be hooked for life. This rich, sweet, layered dessert is incredibly simple to make. Do it the day before you intend to eat it and chill it overnight. This allows the liquids to be absorbed into the biscuit, the flavours to intensify, and makes it firm.

If you are on a diet, I suggest watching this video of Phil Vickery as he demonstrates how to make a light tiramisu.

Ingredients:

  • 475ml (2 cups) of strong black coffee or four shots of espresso
  • 3 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 5 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
  • 2 eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1 packet of Savoiardi biscuits
  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 250ml double cream
  • Cocoa powder, to dust
  • Grated dark chocolate, to dust

Method:

  1. Mix the cold coffee with half the amaretto and set aside.
  2. Mix the egg yolks and caster sugar briskly, till the mixture thickens. Beat in the mascarpone, before folding in the cream.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, and then fold into the cream. Add the remaining amaretto liqueur, and mix gently together so as not to lose the aerated volume.
  4. Soak the biscuits briefly in the coffee liqueur mix, and place a layer in the bottom of a rectangular glass dish (with sides a couple of inches deep). Spread half the cream over this layer, and then repeat the process with a second layer of biscuits and cream.
  5. Smooth over the top layer of cream and dust with cocoa powder and a little grated chocolate. Chill overnight, and serve when you can’t wait any longer.
  6. Remember, refrigeration is absolutely essential to this pudding. Without it, the tiramisu won’t firm up properly. And the longer you refrigerate the dish, the more the flavours combine and suffuse into the Savoiardi. If you’re doing this to impress at a fancy dinner party, you could try making individual portions in wine glasses.
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17Apr 12

Biscotti di Prato

Biscotti di Prato

This traditional biscuit from Prato, a wonderful city in Tuscany, is supposed to be very dry and crunchy; in fact, it is Tuscany’s traditional dipping biscuit, and one of the local specialities. Nowadays they are also called cantucci, even though that is a completely different type of biscotti. (Also try these Amaretti Chocolate Sticks.)

You might like to know that Prato is the centre of the ‘slow food movement’, which an international campaign founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986, promoted as an alternative to fast food. It works to preserve traditional and regional cooking and encourages farming in the local ecosystem.

I recommend enjoying these “biscuits” after a meal with a nice glass of Vin Santo.

Ingredients:

  • 500g all-purpose flour
  • 300g sugar
  • 250g almonds, whole
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • grated peel of one lemon

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Sift the flour and sugar in a bowl. Then add eggs and the other ingredients until it all becomes a ball of dough.

3. On a clean surface, shape the dough into a 3cm wide roll that extends the length of a baking tray. Cover the tray with a piece of parchment paper to prevent the biscuits from sticking and then place the dough on top, flattening it softly with your fingers.

4. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the roll from the oven.

5. Place it on a cutting board and cut diagonally, making 1cm wide slices.

6. Lay the slices flat on the baking sheet, making sure you leave some space between each slice. Slide the baking tray back into the oven.

7. Lower the temperature to 150°C . Bake for 15 minutes, then take the biscotti out and turn them onto the other side and bake another 15 minutes.

8. Remove from the oven and let cool. Remember to store them in an air-tight container to keep fresh.

Serves: 3 dozen aprox.

Time: preparation time 15 min/ cooking time 1 hour

Difficulty: medium

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05Mar 12

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti CarbonaraSpaghetti Carbonara is a modern Italian classic, but there are some people who get quite stressed about doing this the ‘authentic’ way. I know it’s a terrible cliché, but I really do love it ‘like my mamma used to make it’. My mother always put a lot of cream in. Others have told me that I shouldn’t use cream at all. I say: Mamma knows best!

Although the classic spaghetti carbonara is made with pork, you can make a spaghetti fish supper that is also quite nice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 or 3 cloves of roughly chopped garlic
  • 150g pancetta, cut into ‘lardons’ (generous little rectangles, but not too small!)
  • 2 large eggs
  • Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (We’re cheese-mad, and so we grate a big pile and put it in a little bowl so we can have as much as we fancy!)
  • 75 ml double cream
  • 200-250g spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons of parsley chopped fairly finely, and 2 sprigs to garnish

Method:

1 – Cook the pasta in lightly-salted water with the olive oil.

2 – Heat the pancetta in a heavy-bottomed frying pan: good fatty pancetta should cook in its own fat, but add a little butter or olive oil if you feel you should. The meat will caramelise slightly for maximum rich sugary sweetness. This should take about five minutes. Add the garlic about halfway through, and let soften without burning it, to avoid it tasting bitter. If you like, you can throw in a little chopped parsley as well.

3 – Meanwhile, mix the eggs with the cream and four generous tablespoons of grated Pecorino. Add the finely chopped parsley to the mixture, season well with salt and pepper, and stir with a fork to combine.

4 – Drain the pasta and put it back into the pan in which you cooked it. Add the pancetta, and pour over the egg, cream and cheese mixture. The eggs will cook sufficiently from the heat of the pasta and pancetta. The resulting sauce should have a smooth satin texture.

5 – Serve in deep plates or bowls, garnished with a sprig of parsley, with salt, pepper and plenty more cheese.

It really is as easy as that!

Serves: 2

Time: 20-30 minutes: 5-10 minutes preparation, 15-20 minutes cooking.

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About Gianluca Dievole

My Badge: Assistant

About

Buon' giorno! Welcome to my Italian food blog. I am Italian, and proud of it! Italy has so much going for it: with one foot quite literally in the beautiful Mediterranean, my country’s climate and location give us an amazing cornucopia of ingredients, which is why our culture is steeped in a hearty romantic culinary tradition. My wife and I love our food, so all my recipes are designed for two. If you're cooking for an average sized modern family - perhaps not the traditional extended Italian family - just double the quantities.