After eating in Italy with my Italian family and friends I’ve come to realize the pivotal place food has in the Italian culture. Italians take time and effort to prepare a well-laid table where there is beauty and grace in the smallest detail.
On this page and throughout my posts there are recipes from my taste travels through Northern Italy, Tuscany and Umbria. Many have been passed down by my Lombardian cousins and relatives in the Veneto in the oral tradition of the great kitchens of Italy. Several are from favorite ristoranti, trattorie and cooking schools that are part Seeing and Savoring Italy taste and travel itineraries. They are written in the narrative style so that I might include the experiences I have had eating and traveling in Northern Italy,Tuscany and Umbria with my Italian family and friends.
You can view more recipes from classical Italian kitchens to modern interpretations of the generational foods of Italy with product recommendations at http://www.cosituttimarketplace.com/servlet/the-Recipes/Categories.
In a deep sided Dutch oven, sauté 1 finely chopped onion, 3 diced carrots, 3 stalks of celery, chopped, and 4 T of minced parsley in 4 T extra-virgin olive oil until the onions and celery are soft and translucent, about 15 min. Add 14.5 oz can Italian plum tomatoes, chopped, and cook another 5 – 10 minutes. Open and drain 2- 19 oz cans of cannellini beans, add to the cooking pot with about 3 cups chicken stock and 3 cups water and bring to a simmer. Add 1 clove minced garlic, 1 medium bunch kale, chopped, 2 chopped zucchini, and 2 peeled and chopped potatoes. Add ¾ T thyme, ½ t crushed fennel seeds (optional), salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 1 hour, adding more water if necessary. The soup will be very thick. At this point, our cousin Enzo slightly purees the soup to give it a creamy texture and mouth feel.
Torta all Olio di’Oliva
1 tbsp. butter
3 cups plus 2 tbsp. flour
1 cup sugar
1⁄4 tsp. lemon zest
3⁄4 cup quality extra-virgin olive oil
2⁄3 cup milk
3 tbsp. Grand Marnier or other sweet citrus-flavored liqueur
1 tbsp. baking powder
1. Preheat oven to 325°. Grease a 3″-deep round 9″ cake pan and the outside of a heavy 3″-deep 3″ ovenproof ramekin or bowl with butter, then dust with 2 tbsp. of the flour, tapping out excess. Put ramekin or bowl upside down in center of prepared pan. Alternatively, grease an 11-cup bundt pan with butter and dust with flour. Set prepared pan aside.
2. Beat eggs and sugar together in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale yellow, about 1 minute. Add remaining 3 cups flour, lemon zest, oil, milk, and liqueur and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. Add baking powder and stir until thoroughly combined.
3. Holding ramekin or bowl firmly in place, spoon batter into prepared pan around ramekin or bowl or spoon batter into bundt pan, if using, and smooth out top with the back of the spoon. Bake until cake is deep golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer cake to a wire rack to let cool completely, in its pan.
In Italy, macedonia or macedonia di frutta is the name for a fruit salad made from an assortment of seasonal fresh fruits. I have had macedonia many times in Italy often flavored with a sweet wine such as marsala or a liquor such as maraschino or triple sec. The first time I saw it on the menu I thought it was from Macedonia (the country of) then after a few more episodes of complete ignorance, I asked my cousin Lidia and she told me that macedonia is like a compote of fresh mixed fruits (1 cup of bite size seasonal fruits covered with 1 glass of sweet wine) and is a dessert, as Italian’s are very big on serving fruit at the end of a meal. You can allow the fruit to marinate in the liquid for a few hours but I prefer not to allow the fruit to macerate and become too soft and mushy.
Legend has it that the Italian fruit salad, macedonia, may be so named because Macedonia, the country of Alexander the Great, was a mixture of different cultures living together just as the desert is a combination of mixed fruits combined together in a single glass. Recipe is a composite of a macedonia I have often had with my family in Milano and with my Italian friends in Parma.
Barbabietola Beet Canederli
1 pound beets (red or yellow), 1 small diced yellow onion, 1 clove of minced garlic, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 1/2 cup stale white bread crumbs, 2 eggs 1 cup grated grana cheese, 1⁄4 cup chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley, 1/4 cup all purpose flour, coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat the oven to 400°F. Wash the beets, wrap in foil, place on a sheet pan and roast in the oven until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let beets cool, then peel and grate using a box grater. Heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat, add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté about 1 more minute. In a large bowl, combine the onion mixture with the beets, bread crumbs, eggs, cheese, and parsley. Add flour to bind. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Take a small amount of the canederli mixture and form it into a small ball about the size of a small strawberry. Place it in the boiling water. If the ball breaks apart, you need to add a bit more flour to the dough. When it holds together as it cooks, eventually floating to the top when done, you are ready to make the canederli. Form the mixture into 16 large round dumplings. Drop the canederli into the boiling water and cook at a gentle simmer until they float to the top, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon. Serve warm, with creamed horseradish sauce if desired.