October 27, 2012

New Tricks in my Kitchen

From my recent trip down south, I learned a few new recipes.

The first one was outside Benevento where we went for a wine-tasting lunch at the La Guardiense Cooperative. I had been before and was so taken by one of the dishes the local women made for us.

It is a handmade pasta, made but sprinkling water on hard wheat flour and creating little dough pieces, they reminded me of Spaetzle. The pasta is then cooked in minestrone soup. It was so wonderful, I wanted to recreate it at home.

Here is my Migl'fant that I made today.

I will cook it in the minestrone I made yesterday.

The other recipe I adored, was the spaghetti with Colatura di Alici, an extract from anchovies. The anchovies are deheaded and deboned and layered in salt. The first water that comes off is removed and then they are left in the wooden barrels that they are layered in for a long period of time.
When it is ready, they drill holes in the bottom of the barrel and the liquid is drained off.

I picked up a bottle while at Eataly in Rome. The best comes from the village of Cetara, famous for their anchovies.

It is a sauce that is not cooked. It needs to be prepared ahead of time to let it infuse.

Pasta con la Colatura

Cut raw garlic into large slices. 
Add some sliced chili peppers and parsley.
Place the ingredients in  extra virgin olive oil and the colatura. Use 2 soupspoons of olive oil to 1 soupspoon of colatura.

I place in a jar with a lid and shake to create an emulsion.

Cook spaghetti or linguine in unsalted water.

Mix a small ladle of the pasta water with the colatura mixture.

Remove the garlic when the pasta is cooked.

Drain the pasta into a bowl where you have already put the colatura mixture and mix well.
The pasta will absorb the sauce.

Thanks so much to Sergio Cinque who came and shared his recipe!

sergio cinque of Pastificio Faella in Gragnano
It is fabulous. A similar recipe used in Sicily is to saute garlic in olive oil with several oil packed anchovies and stir the anchovies until they dissolve. Add chili pepper and saute the cooked pasta in the sauce for a minute before serving.

Both are even better topped with breadcrumbs instead of parmesan cheese.

I will have more recipes coming soon from the trip.

Don't forget to check out my Market Boys Calendar for 2013. Order here!
Look for the discount before ordering!!!

October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday- Eye Candy

Andrea at Maccaroni

Ciro at Antico Borgo in Gragnano
Ernesto at Don Alfonso

Sergio at Faella- Gragnano

It's the people that make the experience. Thanks for making our trip memorable.

Mille Grazie

After this trip, I may have to make a new "boy" calendar......

Here is the link to the market boy one I made already, from my Florence market!

October 19, 2012

Old pasta-- new to me

I am a junkie for collecting recipes. I had this "pasta" the last time I was down in Benevento at the La Guadiense Wine Cooperative and had never seen it before.

Called Migli'fant, it is sort of a couscous. Using the same principle of sprinkling water on hard durum wheat flour and moving it around, it create these pieces.

They are then boiled and served with this minestrone.

My next project is to learn to make them!

October 18, 2012

Naples---- home to pizza!

There has been a huge protest in Naples, a new guide book came out on pizzeria's and Naples wasn't mentioned as having the BEST pizza--- but rather someone in northern Italy.

We of course based this Slow Food Kansas City trip on the quality ingredients which make the pizza here so special. But ingredients alone do not a pizza make. You need a pizza master, Pizzaiolo.

We came to the original pizzeria of Enzo Coccia, one of Naple's best.

We let Enzo pick some of his signature starters for the table, bottles of local Piedirosso wine, Menabrea beer  and we were ready to experience our PIZZA ORGY.

These Rotolini are one of the reasons I come back to La Notizia, thin rolls of pizza dough- filled, baked and then cut into perfect bite-size pieces.!!! party food!

He also makes Murzillo's, smal bites. These are pizza dough rolled into small flat disks and baked then cut open and filled. Much lighter than pita bread and filled with pancetta, pecorino cheese and black pepper. It tastes like the Gricia pasta sauce from Rome.

Would be great with a slice of a fresh tomato in it in summer-- a sort of BLT!

This was my pizza, water buffalo ricotta cheese, gorgonzola, buffalo mozzarella, grated pecorino cheese, sausage and argula.

You MUST come and eat here to really taste what perfect cheese on a pizza is!!!!!!!!


oh, and don't forget the dessert Saltimbocca. NO not VEAL!

Saltimbocca is the pizza dough baked into a oblong "bread".
They split it open and melt bittersweet chocolate or spread Nutella inside.

Via Caravaggio 53/55
80126 Napoli
Tel. +39 081 7142155 

Enzo has two locations,we went to the original one, but there is a new one down the hill, but you usually find Enzo cooking where we went!

Enzo- Grazie di esistere!!!!

e grazie a Elisia Meduni che mi ha mandato tanti anni fa!

Click here to see the menu.

If you want to be a master pizzaiolo, Enzo also has a pizza school. Sign up!
Beginners courses
and Master classes for those already in the business.

October 15, 2012

Market Boy Calendar 2013

ok- it is real!

I finally made a calendar with some of my favorite vendors in and around Florence.
Divina Cucina's Market Boy Calendar - 2013

You can click here to order, look for the discount code! ( discount good until November 27,2012)

October 11, 2012

Simple and Seasonal- Squash

Probably one of the first signs of fall arriving are the huge squash in the market. I call them pumpkins, but that confuses people. In Italian they are zucca. Zucchini are small squash.

There are so many types of these pumpkin like squashes, which in Italy are not the base for pumpkin pie, but rather were used during the war as a substitute for meat. Breaded and fried, like a chicken-fried steak, then slowly cooked in a tomato sauce. They are also used for soup ,risotto, pasta sauces or simply grilled as in the above photo.

This version is a Sicilian twist. Most people don't know that mint is used for savory in Sicily.
I adore it.

Sicilian Grilled Squash
you can use butternut squash or Kabosha or pumpkin.

Peel the squash and slice not too thinly.
Grill squash slices. I use my cast iron grill on my stovetop. 
Drizzle with oil while grilling.
Place the squash slices in a container when done. 
Splash with white wine vinegar and top with garlic slices and some minced mint leaves.
Salt to taste.

I make a lot as I can serve it on it's own or use as a pasta sauce, I love it with sausage and sage.

I hope you enjoy this simple recipe.

Cooking seasonally means quick simple recipes.

October 6, 2012

Rianata- Trapani style "pizza"

When I was in Trapani last month, I took my friends to a favorite pizza spot I discovered a couple of trips ago, Calvano.

Their pizza's are different.
Instead of sauce, they use tomatoes.

My favorite is their classic Rianata pizza which is made with the cherry tomatoes, anchovy, pecorino cheese and oregano (rianata- oreganata).

Most people order the larger pizza's to share. There was an "incident" involving knives in the past, and now the pizzas come precut, with a mezzaluna into small bitesize squares.

The menu has quite the choice of mixed pizzas too, half and half.

The first night we stopped by without a reservation and there were no tables until 10:30 at night, so we ordered a pizza and ate in there on the small counters they have for those that just want to eat! It was a blast watching the action.

For our last meal in Trapani, the ladies decided to return and order another pizza, but sitting down! We managed to get a reservation and were shown into a tiny room with another couple eating there. I immagine the "restaurant" is a series of these small rooms.

Our last Rianata. The cheese get so crispy in the woodburning oven.

Here is a classic recipe to recreate this at home.

the Italian measurements are:

The dough:
500 grams of bread flour
1 package of yeast
1 cup of warm water
3 tbs of olive oil
1 tsp of salt

2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
4 anchovies
2 cups grated pecorino cheese
4 tbs oregano

Make the dough like any classic bread dough. If you use dry yeast you can just mix in in with the flour and salt and add the oil to the water, mixing well.

Knead to create a smooth dough and cover and let rise for at least an hour in a warm place, covered.

Knead the dough again after it has risen and then roll into a rectangle.
I cover the oven sheet pan with baking paper.

Lay the dough on the parchment.
Preheat the oven to 450 or 500 as high as your oven will go.

Top the dough with the tomato halves, pressing them into the dough.
Let the dough rise again.

Add anchovie pieces and sprinkle with the grated pecorino cheese and then top with oregano.

I drizzled olive oil on top before baking.

To recreate a pizza oven effect, I place the baking sheet on the bottom of the oven until the bottom of the pizza is crispy, then put the baking sheet higher up to brown the cheese.

If you want to enjoy the pizza like in trapani, cut into small squares and let everyone help themselves.

Hope you enjoy it!

My Rianata didn't get as crispy as I used a home oven instead of a pizza oven.

I think that Pecorino Romano is what they used, as it was really flavorful.

Let me know if you try this!

October 2, 2012

Time Flies When You Are Having Fun

In September of 1984, I bought a one-way ticket to Europe. The plan was to spend a month in France and a month in Italy. I had been to France many times already, was trained in French pastries and working at a 5 star hotel as a pastry chef and waitressing to save up cash!  I had never been to Italy in any of my trips to Europe, except once hoping off a train in Venice to buy a jacket, some boots and to say hi to my mom's cousin Rae that had been living there for about 30 years.

Kathy, Judy and Louis 1984

My roommate Kathy had been lived in Paris for a year and then in Rome for a year. Her famous words to me were "You will love Italy and Italy will love you." Kathy, Louis and another friend Elzbeth travelled with me through France and into Italy. Louis came down to Florence with me and then went home and my solo adventure began.

I never expected to stay, but when I arrived in Florence it was love at first sight. A year later I met Andrea, now my husband, so had an even better reason to stay.

I arrived here with nothing--- a one-way ticket and $2,000. Back then prices were cheap and with that amount, I stayed in hotels and took a month of night school in Italy to learn some basic Italian. When I ran out of money and finished language school I got a job, making beds in the hotel I was staying in and helping out in their kitchen. Next I got a job waitressing as noone would hire me as a chef,kitchens being quite small and I knew nothing of Tuscan cuisine. After about 6 months I met people and then found a job as a pastry chef in a private club. After 4 years of learning how to cook from chefs, friends and at the Central Market. I began Divina Cucina.

Living in Italy is not like "Under the Tuscan Sun" or most other books written by people on vacation. It is mostly a love/hate relationship. Love for the country, the food, wine and people and HATE for the red tape and bureaucracy one has to deal with daily.

We won't get into the nightmare of restoring my tiny little one bedroom house I bought, that they stopped the work for 8 YEARS.

I love the job i have created, although for the Italian government it really doesn't exist yet as a job qualification. As long as I pay my taxes, it all rolls along smoothly.

Thanks so much for following my stories and recipes. I love sharing it all.

When I travel back to California I still say I am going home, although there is no more home at home, since my mom died. But after living here for almost half my life and planning on staying until i die, this is home.

Casa Dolce Casa

For better or worse!!!!