A Well-Laid Table

 

"What is the purpose of food?"

"To delight the palate and cheer the spirit"

                                                    

                                     . . .  from Italian Made

 

After eating in Italy with our  Italian family and friends we've come to realize the pivotal place that food has in the Italian culture and it begins with the table.  Italians take time and effort to prepare a well-laid table where there is beauty and grace in the smallest detail. Meals are an essential part of Italian life. Not that they obsess about food or over indulge.  Italians truly value food and its preparation.  It beings with the growing of the food, the selling of the food at their markets and extends to the careful and considerate preparation of the food. They value the traditions and regional diversity of Italian cooking based on the geography of the land and the cultural traditions of the region. We think that all this combined with the warm and generous hospitality of the Italian people, the freshest of ingredients and some of the finest wine in the world is what defines the meaning of a "well laid" table.

 

 


 

Some people think that recipes have to be complicated to be good. Italians typically focus on the quality of the ingredients rather than the number of ingredients. Italian cooking is founded on generational recipes that are handed down through the oral traditions of the great kitchens of Italy and impeccably crafted as a well designed Brioni suit. 

 

Many of the food traditions and recipes we share have been passed down by our Lombardian relatives in the oral tradition of the great kitchens of Italy and are written in the narrative style so that we might include our experiences eating and traveling in Northern Italy, Tuscany and Umbria with our IItalian family and friends.  Recommnded ingredients mentioned.

 


 

An Italian Sponge - Pan di Spagna with Zabaglione Moscato Wine Cream Filling

30 minutes

Clean lines and high level function have been a hallmark of Italian design. In cooking simple ingredients well-prepared define Italian cuisine. The Italian aesthetic for form, function and tradition is never better demonstrated than by the Italian sponge cake (Pan di Spagna), a simple, airy cake made with only 3 ingredients: eggs, sugar and flour

A Hearty Tuscan Soup with many variations. It was originally made by reheating (reboiling) a  leftover minestrone or vegetable soup from the previous day with leftover bread.

 

1 head of Cavolo Nero (black-leaf kale) strip leaves from stalk 

4 cups coarsely chopped Savoy Cabbage
1 bunch of Swiss Chard  strip leaves from stalk 
1 leek
1 onion

3 T chopped fresh garlic
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
1-16 oz can of cannellini (white beans), undrained
1-16 oz can Italian peeled plum tomatoes

6 cups of chicken stock
Capezzana extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
about 8.8 ounces of stale Tuscan bread

In a large soup pot, sauté the sliced onions in extra virgin olive oil. Slowly add all of the other vegetables except the tomatoes, chopped into large chunks. Let them slowly soften for about 10 minutes. Add half of the beans. Add the other half after pureeing them. Then add the tomatoes squished into the soup with your hands. Add salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for about two hours.  You can add the bread directly into the soap, stirring to break it down or you can put a thick slice of bread in an earthenware bowl, cover with the soup to a level where all bread is soaked. Let the soup stand. Drizzle with nuovo extra virgin olive oil.

1/3 cup i Peccati di Ciacco Black Summer Truffle Honey, Mild Italian Cheese (Mozzarella di bufala or grated Fontina). Drizzle pizza dough with extra virgin olive oil covering entire pizza. Bake until crisped and blisters are a bit burned, puffed and just starting to brown. Remove and add the cheese and drizzle truffle honey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Return to oven to melt cheese and carmelize honey.

Olive all Ascolana

1 hour

One of our favorite antipasti is Olive all Ascolana from the Marche region of Northern Italy. A recipe dating to the 17th century, the ascolana olive (large, green, mild and juicy) was already known in Roman times. The town of Ascoli Piceno has an abundance of this type of olive that are used to make olives fritte, a local term for this dish.

 

The olives are stoned, filled with a meat stuffing, then fried. There is a touch of fennel in the olive brine that gives a great flavor the olives and the meat filling crosses the border from antipasti to a light meal.Read more for a recipe from Giallo Zafferano, an Italian cooking site that has the most authentic preparation of this dish. It reminds me of the ones I've had in Italy. The recipe is translated with a demonstration video that is very helpful.

Panettone with Mascarpone Cream

15 minutes

Beat the 2 egg yolks with two tablespoons of sugar, until they are white and frothy; add 1 cup of mascarpone cheese to obtain a soft cream*. Whip 1/2 cup of heavy cream with the remaining  2/ 3 cup of sugar and gently add it to the beaten egg. Chill in refrigerator until cold. Cut the panettone into slices a little over 2" thick. Serve with a dollop of mascarpone cream. 

 

*If desired add 4 T of cream liquer

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