Milk Bread Rolls for Beth

 

A few days ago I received a very encouraging letters from Trix Wilkins, I went to her blog  and I discovered that she wrote a novel,  The Courtship of Jo March: a variation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women , that of course I am dying to read,  meanwhile to thanks Trix of her kind words, I prepared milk bread rolls, soft and fluffy, the kind of bread that Beth, Jo March’s fragile little sister, would have like to have with her tea. Those bread rolls are not the Japanese bread rolls that are very fashionable on food blogs on those days. They are actually small bread rolls that are used in Italy, but I would dare to say in the all Mediterranean area, to prepare savoury or sweet snacks as the taste is pretty neutral.

Milk Bread Rolls for Beth
Hear how they look like, I made 12 of 60 gr each

Ingredients:

  • 400 gr flour
  • 200 gr milk
  • 50 gr butter
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • 10 gr dry yeast
  • 5 gr salt
  • 1 egg for the wash
Milk Bread Rolls for Beth
Still warm…

Instructions

  1. Warm the milk (35 C.) and combine in the bowl of a stand mixer with the honey, yeast and a tsp of flour. After about 10 minutes, add the rest of the ingredients, attach the dough hook and run the mixer, starting on low to wet the dry ingredients.
  2. Turn speed to medium and run the mixer for 15 minutes. The dough is ready when it came together and gather in the centre of the bowl attaching itself to the hook.
  3. Divide the dough in small pieces of 60-70 gr each, set them in an oven pan covered with baking paper, cover with plastic wrap and set the pan in a warm place for about 90 minutes until more than doubled
  4. Roll each portion into a log and flat it gently and roll it (like the snail shell). Place each piece of dough inside the oven pan, giving some space between each roll. Cover the roll with plastic wrap and let rise again until double in size, about an hour or so.
  5. Preheat oven to 180 C’. Make the egg wash by lightly beating the egg. Brush the surface of the rolls with the egg wash without letting the fluid drip to the sides
  6. Bake in 180 C’ oven for 20-25 minutes or until rolls are deeply golden on top.
  7. Serve them with warm or cold with savoury or sweet fillings
Milk Bread Rolls for Beth
Ready for a savory snack with Italian Prosciutto
Milk Bread Rolls for Beth
And for a spring snack with pink lemonade and orange jelly

 

Nidi di spaghetti (Spaghetti nests)

Gustare un piatto fatto come Dio comanda è uno dei piaceri solitari più raffinati che l’omo possa godere, da non spartirsi con nessuno, manco con la pirsona alla quale vuoi più bene. (da Gli arancini di Montalbano)

To savor a meal prepared like God intended is one of the most refined solitary pleasures that a man could possibly enjoy, not to be shared with anybody even the person you love most. (You will excuse my translation, but English is not my native language and Camilleri’s language is difficult in itself)

montalbano, the shape of water

One of the most outstanding peculiarity of Inspector Montalbano is for sure his appreciation for food. Traditional Sicilian food prepared by his faithful governess Adelina or enjoyed in one of the “trattoria” in the fictional city of Vigata. Andrea Camilleri, Inspector Montalbano’s “father” has created a language of his own, a mix of Italian and Sicilian, the dialect spoken where the action take place, Sicily. Stories are interwoven with irony, suspense, social comments, introspections and a lot of amazing description of the food.

Today, I felt like preparing a dish that recall the Mediterranean flavors, something that even a sophisticated palate like Montalbano will not disdain. So I started with a tomato sauce rich in oregano, garlic, basil and chilli, and I end shaping the spaghetti like a nest and decorating with a small mozzarella, as we are in Easter season. The result was a tasty main course that also the kids loved.

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Ingredients:

(4 people)

320 gr. Spaghetti

500 gr. of peeled tomato

80 gr. of Cailletier olives

2 tablespoons of capers

6 tablespoons of olive oil

6 cherry mozzarella

Bread crumbs

2 cloves of garlic

15 gr. basil leaves

oregano,  chilli (pepperoncino) and salt to please

This is how it looks before been grated in the oven

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Directions:

  • Grease a small oven pan with olive oil and sprinkle with bread crumbs
  • Peel the garlic and remove the bud if necessary, then grossly chop, put in a small pan with the peeled tomato, oregano, pepperoncino and salt. Let it cook with very low heat for half an hour. Don’t mix them.
  • Roughly chop cailletier olives, basil and capers
  • After half a hour crush the tomato with a wooden spoon, then add the olives, the capers and 4 spoonful of olive oil and put on very low heat for another 15 minutes
  • Meanwhile cook the pasta, and when still very “al dente” (bit hard), drain it an cool with cold water
  • Mix the sauce with the spaghetti, then with the help of a fork and a spoon, prepare six nests, carefully placing them in the greased pan, put a cherry mozzarella in each one.
  • Sprinkle the preparation with more bread crumbs and two spoonful of olive oil, put in the oven at 180’ C. for 10-15 minutes and serve hot.

This is just out of the oven:

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And this how it looks like after eating a generous portion:

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Colomba (Dove, an Easter Cake)

In fair Verona, where we lay our sceneRomeo and Juliet, W. Shakespeare, prologue

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It is common believe that the Colomba, the Italian Dove shaped Easter Cake, is original from Milan or Pavia, and there are legends about dove shaped cakes back to the Byzantine Era. True is that most probably the mother country of the Colomba is Verona, Romeo and Juliet’s town, THE town of love.

Shakespeare seems to have a thing for Verona, as he set there also another play, The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Verona is a very nice town, not far from Venice and Padua, absolutely worthy to be seen especially in the summer when it hosts a precious opera festival, in its magic Arena.

Coming to the Colomba, it is not easy, I made two tries, using the recipe of Vittorio from the Blog  Viva La Focaccia (https://www.vivalafocaccia.com/ricette/video-ricetta-colomba-pasquale-lievito-birra-casa-impasto-ingredienti/). In the first try I followed Vittorio’s recipe very carefully and everything was fine, until I spread the glaze before baking it. The glaze was probably too cold and the Colomba deflated. I was so sorry

So the second time I baked the Colomba first, and the I spread the glaze and I put it back in the oven for about 5 minutes. The result was great! a fluffy, fine textured cake that was melting in the mouth.

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As it not an easy cake, I prepared a PP presentation with all the necessary steps to follow.

Enjoy!

DOWNLOAD THE COLOMBA RECIPE’S POWERPOINT HERE OR AT THE END OF THE POST:

ricetta colomba

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Crescia, Easter bread

I already have the opportunity to talk about Giacomo Leopardi, the great Italian poet. I love his poems, but also his romantic, short life. If you get curious about his life, there is an award winning film, https://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/sep/01/il-giovane-favoloso-review-giacomo-leopardi-venice-film-festival, that I strongly suggest you to watch.

Giacomo didn’t want to live in his native Recanati, and moved in different cities in Italy, but he missed his home town.  On the 17th  March, 1826, he wrote to his sister Paolina:

Salutami il curato e don Vincenzo, e dà loro a mio nome la buona Pasqua, che io passerò senza uovi tosti, senza crescia, senza un segno di solennità”. (Give my regards to the pastor and don Vincenzo, wish them Happy Easter for me.  A Easter that I will spend without uovi tosti, without crescia, and any celebration at all).

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From this excerpt it is clear that Giacomo couldn’t cook, otherwise he could have done what I did, ask his granma her recipe (yes, I have a grandmother alive and yes, she is 99 at the moment and finally yes, she can still share recipes– all thanks to the Mediterranean diet, I suppose).

So I prepared a big Crescia and I shared with friends coming from that area of Italy.

What can I say, I am a poetic, homesick, Italian expat 😂

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INGREDIENTS

  • 500 gr. flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 250 gr. Grated pecorino romano (it a sheep cheese, usually can be found in big supermarket)
  • 150 gr. grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano
  • 10 gr. Dehydrated yeast
  • 100 gr. Gruyere cheese (diced)
  • 250 gr. milk
  • 50 gr. of lard (I used butter, as lard is not easy available here)
  • 50 gr. of olive oil
  • salt

Directions

  1. Oil one large soufflé mould, and using a strip of parchment paper, line the top of the dish adding an additional 5 cm. of height.
  2. Add the yeast to the warm milk in the bowl of the stand mixer and mix, and let sit until bubbly.
  3. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then add the olive oil, the butter, salt, and grated cheese.
  4. Add it to the yeast mixture and stir it with the dough hook, then add the flour, little by little. Stir it until you get a very smooth dough (it may take 20- 40 minutes at medium speed).
  5. Let the dough sit until doubled,
  6. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand, folding in the diced cheese as you work the dough.
  7. Place the dough in the mould and let it sit until more than doubled (my grandmother suggests that it is read when, gently touched, the dough trembles like jelly)
  8. Bake it at 180’ C. for about 45 minutes (I used the bread program in my oven – with 100% humidity for the first 5 minutes and then decrease at about 30% humidity).
  9. Remove the cake from the mould and let it cool completely, serve it as a snack or at breakfast with cured meat and boiled eggs.

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Ossobuco, Artusi and being homesick

“The preparation of this dish should be left to the Milanese, since it is a specialty of Lombardy. I will describe it in the most straightforward manner possible, lest I should be ridiculed.” Science in the kitchen and the art of eating well by Pellegrino Artusi, 1891.

Pellegrino Artusi was a business man with the passion for literature, but his really success arrived with his cookbook wrote when he was in his late sixties. This book became a viral success (as we would say today) and it is the third most read book in Italy, after The Betrothed and Pinocchio.

I have a very old copy of this book, a friend of my mom gave it to me, she had purchased it when she was young.

It has been raining heavy for two days, the wind and the sea are roaring and I feel uneasy. Homesick and uneasy. That’s why I felt the need to dust off my old “Artusi” and cook something that will pamper my soul.

And you, what do you read or cook when you feel homesick?

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Ingredients

(serves 4)

  • 4 pieces osso buco (veal shanks)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Some white flour to dust
  • 50 gr extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 120 gr. dry white wine
  • Homemadechicken broth
  • For the Gremolada:
  • Finely minced flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely minced
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
  • For the Risotto alla Milanese
  • 400 gr. risotto rice
  • 1 liter of chicken broth
  • 40 gr extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 100 gr. dry white wine
  • 0,5 gr of saffron
  • salt
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for the risotto, plus more for serving

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Directions

  1. Put the saffron in 50 ml of water and let it rest for at least 5 hours
  2. Heat half olive oil over medium heat and add the onion until is softened and translucent. Pour it in a bowl.
  3. Prepare the ossobuco, do three cuts around the circumference of each shank to help to hold the shape during cooking.
  4. Flour the ossobuco, pour the remain oil in the same pan of the onion (but without the onion) and cook them until browned on both sides (roughly 5 minutes per side).
  5. Cover the ossobuco with the onion and pour the wine (it is better to warm the wine so that the alcohol evaporates as it can give a strange taste to the ossobuco). Let it evaporate.
  6. Pour the broth so that it will close to the edge of the ossobuco cover with the lid and let it simmer at low heat for about 35 minutes
  7. Turn the ossobuco and let them cook for another 35 minutes
  8. Meanwhile, for the Gremolada: in a small bowl, stir together parsley, lemon zest, and garlic. Set aside.
  9. When the ossobuco has adsorbed enough liquid. Turn the heat off, pour the Gremolada, cover with the lid and let it aside while you prepare the Risotto alla milanese
  10. Heat oil in a heavy casserole over medium heat add the onion and cook it until translucent and soft.
  11. Add rice stir it for a few minutes and then add the wine. When the rice has adsorbed all the wine, cover it with broth stirring occasionally. As the liquid evaporate, add some more broth until the rice is nearly cooked.
  12. Add the saffron and let the liquid evaporated until nearly dry
  13. Close the heat, add butter and Parmigiano, stir and cover with the lid, let the risotto rest for a few minutes.
  14. Prepare the plate: spoon some risotto alla Milanese on the plate, carefully transfer the ossobuco paying attention not to ruin the marrow.

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Maritozzi (Poetic Buns)

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 I want to celebrate Giacomo Leopardi, the great poet, with those exquisite buns. Actually Roma claims the ownership of those buns, but they are well known in all central Italy and I am sure that Leopardi enjoyed them in his Recanati.

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INGREDIENTS:

10 gr. of active dry yeast

450 gr. of strong flour

200 gr. of full-fat milk

100 gr. spoonful of sugar

125 gr. of seed oil (I used hazelnut oil)

1 Tsp of olive oil

30 gr of honey

1 egg

1 lemon’s grated zest

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

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DIRECTIONS

Prepare the sponge:

  1. Sprinkle yeast and sugar into 50 ml of warm milk in a bowl and stir to dissolve (if you have a kneading machine you will save a lot of work).
  2. Mix it with 50 gr of floor, one tablespoon of sugar and the honey. let it rise for about one hour.

Prepare the dough:

  1. Mix the remaining sugar, milk, the egg, the oils, the lemon’s rind and the vanilla to the sponge.
  2. Add the remaining flour and knead it until you have a smooth and elastic dough (I used Kitchen Aid, with dough hook, speed two for about 20 minutes).
  3. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise three hour (but it depends on room temperature, less if it is a hot summer day).
  4. Knock back the dough and make the buns (around 12).
  5. Let it rising for another ½ an hour, and glaze them with some olive oil.
  6. Bake it in a preheated oven at 400°F/200°C for 25 minutes until golden and light. If you have a steam oven like me, then just use the sweet rolls program.
  7. Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
  8. When cooled sprinkle with icing sugar, and if you want to feel yourself in Rome, open it and fill it with whipped cream.

 

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