September Newsletter 2011
Fresh Recipes, New Kitchen Ideas, Food News & Fun Things To Do In Sunny Italy
September is here, but here on the Amalfi Coast beach business is busy, café tables are full and cooking guests are still arriving as the season of fall begins its turn. Hand-woven baskets hang from the trees in our garden calling for workers hands to fill them with grapes, soon olives and then chestnuts. And although the basil is as big as ever, we know that the days are getting shorter. We are slow to kiss August away, but with it brings September, the ninth month in the Gregorian calendar year and with it are all the foods of the season.
The perfect recipe for September, A Roman Holiday with Chef Eugenio!
Learn autumn recipes in the Eternal City, click here.
September is a strange month, a dreamy month, a bittersweet time of endings and beginnings. Gone are the long, scorching, days of July and August, but here come perfect, late summer days, warm when the sun is high in the sky, but decidedly cooler when dusk arrives and the moon slips out from behind the mountainside. Soon all that wonderful summer produce will be gone too – zucchini, eggplant, peppers – and people seem convinced they need to eat as much of it as possible before it disappears for good, filling up at the market and transforming these fabulous fresh ingredients into zucchini alla scapece (fried then marinated in a mixture of garlic, mint and vinegar), stuffed zucchini and eggplant boats, eggplant (or zucchini) parmesan, mixed baked peppers with olives and capers or a velvety orange mixed pepper sauce to add to risottos.
September also marks the beginning of harvest time, which means you’re pretty much guaranteed to find food festivals and sagras all over the country celebrating an abundance of local produce. From mushrooms, tomatoes and sweetcorn to nuts, peppers and frogs (that’s right – frogs), each festival has its protagonist and each sagra represents the perfect way to spend an evening in the company of locals, wandering round Italy’s towns and villages and sampling its local cuisine. And this is where you discover just how much difference there really is between the food from one area and that from another, each equally delicious, but often worlds apart. But just in case the enticement of a never-ending series of food festivals isn’t enough to prompt you to travel (and what better excuse could there be?), there are plenty of other events to tempt you, like the Regatta on Venice’s Grand Canal, Asti’s Palio and the intriguing Feast of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, where each 19th September, crowds gather outside the city’s Duomo to see if the much hoped for miracle of the liquefying of the blood of San Gennaro has taken place, meaning the city is in safe hands, and will be protected for another year. Fingers crossed!
Garden To Table Recipes
Cavolfiore Alla Romana ~ Cauliflower Roman-Style
- 1 head cauliflower
- 3/4 cup fine breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 eggs slightly beaten
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup olive oi
- Preheat oven to 375º F.
- Prepare cauliflower by breaking into small pieces and cook in salted boiling water until half done (about 5 minutes).
- Mix eggs, cheese, salt, pepper and milk together.
- Roll each floret in batter and then dip in breadcrumbs.
- Place on well-greased cookie sheet and drizzle oil over the top.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown, toss flower over to brown all sides.
Pasta Con Le Noci ~ Pasta & Walnuts
Featured in Cooking Vacations September 2008 Newsletter
This dish is often made in Liguria, and is based on what has become known as one of the modern ‘superfoods’: the simple walnut.
Number of servings (yield): 4
- 400g rigatoni
- 100g walnuts, shelled weight
- 50ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp sugar
- Cinnamon and nutmeg
- 50g grated Parmesan
- Whiz walnuts briefly in a food mixture or crush them using a mortar and pestle. Don’t over crush them – it’s nice to leave some slightly larger pieces too.
- Place in a small bowl.
- Bring a pot of well-salted water to the boil for the pasta. (It’s important to salt the water a little more than normal as no salt is added to the walnut sauce apart from that already present in the Parmesan cheese.)
- As soon as you have added the pasta to the boiling water, heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic to the oil and when it turns golden brown, remove.
- Sprinkle in a little cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg. Add about a third of a cup of pasta water* to the bowl with the chopped walnuts to moisten them slightly, then add the walnuts to the hot oil. Stir well and keep warm.
- As soon as the pasta is cooked al dente, drain, and then throw into the frying pan with the nut mixture.
- Add a little pasta water if the sauce seems too dry.
- Toss well.
- Stir in the Parmesan, check seasoning and serve immediately.
- (*Plain tap water won’t do the trick here. As the pasta cooks, it releases its starch into the cooking water, giving it more of a ‘binding’ quality and making it ideal for lengthening pasta sauces, a technique often used in Italy.)
Ciambelle Al Vino Bianco
From Chef Rossi’s Cooking Vacations program, Roma. Click here to learn more.
Number of servings (yield): 3-4 dozen
- 2 ½ cups Sugar
- 1 2/3 cups White Wine
- 1 2/3 cups Vegetable Oil
- 6 2/3 cups 00 Flour
- 1/3 cup Raisins
- 3 ½ tbsp Pine nuts
- 2 tsp Fennel Seeds
- 1 Egg, beaten, to brush on top
- First prepare the pastry.
- Mix everything together to form a smooth dough.
- Allow to rest for about one hour before using.
- Roll out coils of about 10 inches then press the ends together to form rings.
- Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place the rings at least 1 inch apart.
- Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle a little sugar.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180º C (350º F) for about 35 minutes until golden.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before serving.
- Served at the end of the meal, break the rings and dip in wine.
- Store in an airtight container.
September food is exciting. As a fan of seasons and seasonal cooking, I love the way September lets you know on no uncertain terms that things are changing. Few months mark the transition from one season to another quite like September, the sudden arrival of wild mushrooms, pumpkins and game a sure sign that fall is in the air. Another clue is in the scent of burning leaves. Towards the end of the month, each trip through the hills brings the smoky tang of smoldering leaves and branches, the first clean up operations on the way after the hot, summer weather. No idea why, but it’s a comforting scent that makes you feel all is right with the world, that it’s time to concentrate on other things, clean up the garden, plant some autumn bulbs and decide what winter veggies need growing.
In the kitchen, it’s a busy month, the month of canning and preserving. Tomatoes are everywhere. Some we preserve peeled and uncooked, other are transformed into passata, some are first oven-roasted with shallots, garlics and herbs then canned, and yet others dried in the sun and stored under oil with a few flecks of chili and garlic, capers and a sprinkling of dried oregano. Plums are also outside drying, and those we don’t dry are swiftly made into jam. The bramble patch near the house has had a bumper crop of blackberries this year, and the resulting dark blue, black jam is just breathtaking. And what to do with all the windfalls? Apples and pears lie scattered around the trees – so more jams, jellies and applesauce are to be made, this last product a hugely versatile ingredient to have stocked away in the freezer as it goes so well with pork, or can be made into cakes, muffins, crumbles and cobblers or simply stirred into morning yogurts. And who can resist turning a few handfuls of ripe fruit into a delicious liqueur? This year has seen plum liqueur, damson gin, blackberry gin, and the two old favorites, bay leaf liqueur and fennel liqueur. We always think it will be impossible to get through such a well-stocked larder, but what do you know, a winter of serious eating and entertaining friends can wipe out the contents of even the largest store cupboard (which is just the way it should be!), and make you glad you worked so hard in September to fill the shelves.
We hope that you too find the time to preserve a little of your summer to savor with friends and family during the winter months, because however hard it seems at the time, you’ll always be glad you did.
With Love From Italy
Mastro Giovanni Russo & The Omaggio Alla Madonna Di Positano
September in Positano celebrates Mastro Giovanni Russo collection of hand-made stones depicting the magic, history, myths and stories of Positano. Giovanni, whose works include the Madonna di Positano, Neptune, and the old Saracen towers are just a sample of works on display now through September 30 at Viale Pasitea, 126, Positano.
Guggenheim in Lucca
Starting 18th September, a selection of seldom seen works on paper from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection will be on view at the Lucca Center of Contemporary Art in an exhibition entitled ‘Revealing Papers’. These works are by some of the greatest artists of the twentieth century – Kandinsky, Moore, Picasso, Rivera, Matta, Arp, Fontana and others – and often feature a more experimental side of artists’ work as well as offering a unique opportunity to relive important moments of artistic history.
La Vigna di Dionisio
The Vines of Dionysus: ‘Vines, Wines and Cults in Magna Grecia’ is the title of this interesting exhibition held until 20th November in Bari’s Palazzo Simi, which takes visitors on a journey through the world of cult and excess of Dionisis (or Bacchus) and is illustrated by a collection of invaluable pottery and carvings from the major archeological sites in southern Italy.
The Many Faces of Power
This exhibition is open through the end of October at the Musei Capitolini in Rome and features a fascinating collection of Roman portraits spanning the Republican Age to late antiquity, illustrating how important the tool of portraiture was in guaranteeing notoriety and prestige to the characters portrayed. From portraits in terracotta and bronze to the marble and bronze production in the Imperial Age, discover the many techniques adopted to preserve men’s image and ensure their ‘presence’ long after they had passed.
Every so often it’s nice to see what Italy’s up and coming designers are creating, and Isabella Zocchi’s playful shoes and accessories are worth keeping an eye on. Her eye for color and detail is quite unique and though she is only 35, she already has an international following, with her 2011 summer collection being selected by the Los Angeles based High Heel Shoe Museum.
Italian Feasts & Celebrations
This month, we take a look at some great food festivals to suit all tastes this September in Italy.
Festa del Miele del Delta del Po: Porto Viro, Province of Rovigo, 11 September. We think this sounds like a great way to pass a Sunday – discovering more about the wonderful world of honey from the Po Delta. Attend talks on Apiculture explaining how to turn a hobby for beekeeping into a business, visit the local Apiculture Museum, take in the work of local artists and of course, sample numerous delicious specialties made with the area’s delicious honey. Last but not least, find out which honey wins the prize for the year’s best honey.
13th National Sagra del Gorgonzola: Gorgonzola, Milano, 17 – 18th September. If you had to choose a handful of Italian products known around the globe, Gorgonzola would almost certainly be among them and this festival offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about traditional production methods as well as local peasant traditions from centuries past. Special workshops will be set up for kids to teach them more about milk and honey products after which there is a whole host of dishes to be enjoyed, all featuring this wonderful cheese.
Festa dell’Alpeggio: Chiareggio, Sondrio, 17 – 18th September. The small town of Chiareggio is situated in the Valle del Mallero on the Italian-Swiss border and one look at the glorious green pastures that carpet the surrounding mountainsides should explain why local cheeses are so good, including the star of this sagra, the much loved ‘Alpeggio’ cheese. As well as offering a sample of various different Alpeggios, the town has organized guided tours and treks including stop offs at a number of Alpeggio producers to find out more about local artisan cheese making. Learn how to milk a cow, take in a photographic exhibition, eat your fill of traditional specialties at one of the local restaurants and end your evening gathered round a bonfire listening to traditional tales and stories.
Sagra del Nocciola: Prepezzano di Giffoni Sei Casali, Salerno, 23 – 25th September. The prized IGT (indicazione geografica tipica) hazelnuts which grow on the hills of Giffoni south of the Amalfi Coast, are considered some of the best in Italy, and are much loved by local pastry chefs who transform them into a series of wonderful sweets. During the sagra, you’ll be able to sample many recipes from yesteryear as well as those more commonly found today, so you can decide whether nonna’s recipes really are more delicious after all!
Italy On A Plate
By Germaine Stafford
Germaine continues her roundup of what’s happening in the culinary world in Italy and gives you her chef of the month, book recommendation, and a list of seasonal foods for September.
What’s in Season?
Restaurant Of The Month
Ristorante San Pietro, Cetara
Let’s imagine it’s a warm September day and you’re lucky enough to be enjoying a trip along the Amalfi Coast. You’ve taken photographs from the hills above Positano, enjoyed chocolate-dipped candied orange peel in Amalfi and gone shopping for hand-painted pottery in Vietri sul Mare. Now it’s lunchtime and you’re on the lookout for a great little eatery where you can try out local specialties. Look no further. The little town of Cetara is a great place to stop off, and is also the coast’s busiest fishing center, with anchovies and tuna fish two of the most popular catches.
Ristorante San Pietro has always been a good restaurant, an
it just keeps getting better. A mere stone’s throw from the beach, it is clearly a fish restaurant, though there are also a number of meat dishes offer as well as a full vegetarian menu and even gluten-free. Here, ingredients arrive straight from the sea and are cooked with intelligence, respect and by a team with a thorough knowledge of their raw ingredients. This fish is combined judiciously with other produce from the coast – Sfusato lemons, smoked provola from the Monti Lattari, pane biscottato from Agerola, to create dishes such as fresh anchovies with smoked provola and lemon leaves; bread salad with crunchy vegetables, tomato, tuna, salted anchovies and prosciutto; mixed salted fish smoked with lemon leaves and goat’s milk ricotta; and provola with eggplant and silver scabbard fish, each more delicious sounding than the last. Both the Menu Cetarese and the Menu Tradizionale are full to bursting with traditional dishes given a new, light touch by Chef Francesco Tammaro; vermicelli with colatura di alici (a pungent fish sauce that is used sparingly to give a wonderful depth of flavor to dishes); paccherino with fresh anchovies and wild fennel; risotto with tuna bottarga and squash flowers; tuna with tomatoes, capers and olives; and fish soup using a host of local rock fish. But there’s also a Menu Creativo with offerings such as rock fish soufflé with mussel ragù and fried seaweed; baby squid with pane biscottato, arugula and potatoes; pressed octopus with tuna bottarga and annurca apples; old fashioned gnocchi stuffed with steamed tuna, with broccoli ragù and tuna colatura; and local fish cooked in a ‘coffin’ of salt.
Desserts include the coast’s intriguing eggplant with chocolate; cookies stuffed with chocolate and lemon; and deconstructed mille foglie with goat’s milk ricotta and rum. Weather permitting, you can sit out on the terrace, there’s a great wine list featuring some of the Region’s best and staff are unfailingly polite and helpful – this is the kind of place you’d be mad to miss!
Ristorante San Pietro
Piazza San Francesco, 2
84010 Cetara (SA)
Tel: +39 089 261091
Book Of The Month
Apples for Jam: Recipes for Life
By Tessa Kiros and Andrews McMeel Publishing
September can be a dreamy month, the bulk of summer behind you, these last few warm days all the more precious, knowing, as we do, that their time is limited and fall is just around the corner. It is in this spirit of embracing the passing pleasures in life that we have chosen Kiros’ Apples for Jam, which, although not exclusively an Italian cookbook, reflects much of the lifestyle Tessa leads with her husband Giovanni and two daughters in their home in Tuscany. Kiros is well known for her charming, evocative cookbooks, where memories, hopes and ingredients combine to form a delicious medley of recipes meant not only to nourish friends and family but also to convey an authentic spirit of place.
On the whole, the book’s dishes are very simple to prepare and make good use of seasonal ingredients, and parents with young children will be delighted to find so many child-friendly ideas, from fried mozzarella sandwiches, bright pink beetroot gnocchi and chicken croquettes, to fizzy orangeade, pomegranate and apple jellies, baked cinnamon apples with buttermilk ice cream, and rosehip semolina puddings. There are plenty of dishes that could be used for weeknight dinners – watercress omelette, creamy spinach with feta, fish pie, sautéed chicken with bay leaves and juniper berries, squashed zucchini – but also those that could be served at informal dinner parties or gatherings with friends – prawn and spinach brown rice risotto, gratinéed celery with tomato and Parmesan, cabbage salad with orange and lemons or baked pumpkin with butter and brown sugar.
As with all Kiros’ books, images are beautiful, with the added attraction that recipes in this case are organized by color. So use Apples for Jam for inspiration, make the best of these last few days of summer and create your own dreams and memories in the kitchen.