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Recipes February

Artichoke & Black Olive Salad

Serves 4

A delicious vegan insalata made with grano or farro, artichokes and black olives, this authentic Mediterranean salad makes the perfect antipasto, or accompaniment to grilled fish or meat.

Ingredients

  • 300 g (1 ½ cups) of grano or farro, presoaked overnight with water and salt
  • 8 artichokes, small, tender and cleaned
  • 1 red onion, small, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200 g (generous cup) of black olives
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped finely
  • 2 pinches of dried thyme
  • Generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste

Preparation

Clean the artichokes, remove the outer tough leaves, clean the stems and cut them in half. Put them in water with the lemon juice for 10 mintues. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and add the grains. Let cook for 1 hour and a half, until soft (or follow manufacturer’s instructions). Next, boil the artichokes in a pan with salted water for 15 minutes, then remove and let cool. When the grain is cooked, drain well and let cool and place in a bowl. Add the onion, olives, celery and the thyme to the grain, add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then salt and pepper to taste. Add the artichokes and mix well.

This Vernaccia is a light straw color with greenish reflections and offers up aromas of spring flowers and fresh fruit such as green apple and grapefruit. Good acidity helps counterbalance the artichoke in the dish, and there are pleasant notes of fruit and citrus. Aftertaste is puckery and persistent.

Gli Gnudi or Ravioli Nudi ~ Naked Ravioli

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 600 g (1 lb 4 oz) fresh spinach
  • 600 g (1 lb 4 oz) day-old ricotta
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 150 g (5 oz) of Parmesan, grated, plus extra when serving
  • 100 g (2/3 cup) rice flour
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 80 g (3 oz) butter
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Flour, enough to coat before baking

Preparation

It is best to use day-old Ricotta that has been chilling in the fridge; it will have released some of the excess moisture.

Wash and cook the spinach in a pan with a little salted water. Drain and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, in a bowl mix the ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, rice flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Squeeze the spinach, chop well and add to the mix. Thoroughly mix the ingredients.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Form balls with the mixture into large ping-pong size and roll them in flour to coat them. Drop them into the boiling water and cook until they float to the top.

In a large pan melt the butter with the sage. Transfer the gnudi to the pan and coat with the butter, adding salt if necessary. Serve hot with a heavy sprinkle of Parmesan.

For these gnudi we have chosen a slightly softer white wine, a Vermentino della Maremma which will go well both with the ricotta and also the green spinach. The bouquet offers notes of sweet spring flowers, and, in the mouth, you will taste honey and fruit and eventually a soft, balanced acidity with a dry but rounded finish.

Ragú Di Carne Chianina~ Chianina Beef Ragout

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ kg (3 lbs 4 oz) ground beef (Chianina, if possible)
  • 200 g (7 oz) celery
  • 200 g (7 oz) carrots
  • 200 g (7 oz) onions
  • 500 ml (2 cups) Chianti Red Wine
  • 200 ml (3/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 100 g (4 oz) tomato concentrate

Preparation

Dice the celery, carrots and onion. In a pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the celery, carrot, and onion for 2-3 minutes or until translucent. Then add the ground beef, continuously stirring until well browned.

Add the wine, cover the pot and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Then remove the cover and let the sauce reduce. Add the tomato concentrate diluted with a glass of water. Continue simmering the ragu for another 20 minutes on low heat. Salt and peper to taste, turn off heat, cover and let ragu rest for 30 minutes prior to serving.

This ragú goes well with all types of pastas!

Here, any number of robust Tuscan reds would do the job, but we have gone for a Chianti Rufina. Made in one of Chianti’s smallest sub-zones, this Chianti offers intense aromas of herbs and dark berries. Rich and tannic, there are overtones of sage, blackberries, black tea, vanilla and pepper – the perfect accompaniement to a rich, meaty ragù. Open a little before you mean to serve.

Tuscan Torta di Mele ~ Apple Cake

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almonds, peeled and ground
  • The grated zest of 1 lemon rind
  • 6 tablespoons sugar + ½ cup
  • 6-8 medium apples
  • 10 ½ tablespoons butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Preparation

Preheat oven to 170°C or about 340°F.

In a small bowl, mix the ground almonds with the grated lemon zest and the ½ cup of sugar. Peel the apples and cut them into quarters and then into thin slices.

Melt the butter.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the 6 tablespoons of sugar; add the melted butter, the flour and the baking powder, and beat well. Pour the batter into a cake tin lined with parchment paper.

Press the sliced apples vertically into the mixture, pushing them right down into the pan (so they are covered). Sprinkle the mixture with the sugar, almond and lemon over the top of the batter.

Bake in the oven for about approximately 1 hour. Remove and allow to cool.

What better than a shot of this heavenly nectar to accompany something as simple but satisfying as a homemade apple cake? This is no normal vin santo. Just imagine, it is made with a yeast dating back to the early 1900’s and is matured in oak barrels from the same era. Deep amber in color, the wine’s aroma is complex, with notes of hazelnuts, almonds, candied orange and chestnut honey. In the mouth, despite a deep caramel taste, it is surpisingly fresh and has an intense, balanced aftertaste. A special treat.

Recipes December

Tempting with recipes from our Christmas kitchen!

Panettone

Panettone is a typical Christmastime sweet from Milan, and as we mentioned above, there’s a really sweet story behind its inception.
**Remember to make your starter the day before you mean to make the panettone.

For the Starter

  • ¾ cup of flour
  • A pinch of natural yeast
  • 1/3 cup cool water

For the Dough

  • All of the starter
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ¼ cup lukewarm water
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup or 4 tablespoons, softened butter
  • 1 vanilla bean, slit open
  • 1 tablespoon instant dried yeast
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ½ cup raisins, pre-soaked in rum or Vin Santo even better!
  • ¼ cup lemon or orange naturally candied fruit
  • ¼ cup of crushed almonds, unshelled
  • ¼ cup of crushed pistachios, unshelled
  • A handful of whole almonds for garnishing, and some coarse sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, from an unwaxed lemon
  • Sugar pearls for decorating, if desired

Preparation

Mix together all the ingredients for the starter in a wide mixing bowl. When well mixed, leave to rest overnight.

For the Dough

Combine the starter dough with all of the ingredients for the panettone except the fruit and nuts, and mix and knead them together preferably in a mixer with a hoop or by hand, until the dough is soft and workable.
Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. It will be light and airy. Gently deflate the dough, and knead in the fruits and zest. Roll the dough into a ball and place it in a paper panettone lining. Cover and let the dough rise until touches the rim, approximately 1 hour. Sprinkle a handful of almonds and coarse sugar over the top, before putting it in an oven preheated to 400°F. Bake for 10 minutes then reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for a further 30 minutes or until golden brown. Once baked, remove the panettone from the oven and leave to cool. Decorate with sugar pearls if desired. Slice and serve with a hot cappuccino or a cold bubbly.

This Moscato d’Asti offers up aromas of fresh citrus fruits, dried and candied fruits as well as honey. Vivacious and well-balanced, its good acidity makes it eminently drinkable. Enjoy with panettone and all manner of dry pastries, tarts and dried fruits.

Zeppole ~ Christmas Fried Dough

Ingredients

  • 25 g (1 oz) natural yeast
  • 250 ml (1 cup) warm milk
  • 500 g (4 cups) ‘00’ flour
  • 2 tbsp (50 g) sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 50 g (2 oz) butter, melted
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Sunflower or peanut oil, for frying
  • Sugar and cinnamon, for dusting

Preparation

Dissolve yeast in milk. On a work surface, pour the flour and the sugar, mix and make a well in the middle. Add the milk mixture, beaten eggs, melted butter, salt and zest and slowly start to incorporate the flour. Kneed by hand for about 10 minutes until smooth. Cover and set aside to rise until the dough doubles in size.
Roll dough out into coils and twist into ribbons.  Set aside and allow to rise about 30 minutes.  Heat frying oil on a high flame until very hot.  Test oil by dropping in a zeppola – it should drop to the bottom, then rise to the top right away to make sure it is hot enough.  Fry for 3-5 minutes turning until golden.  Drain excess oil on a paper towel.
Toss with sugar and cinnamon while and serve while still hot.

While you could pair various types of passito or vin santo with these zeppole, this award-winning Prosecco would certainly do the job just as well. With its intense perfume offering aromatic notes of apple, pineapple, peach and even some flowers, this Prosecco is classic party fare!

Biscotti Di Natale ~ Christmas Cookies

These Christmas cookies are deliciously light and can be left plain or cut into different festive shapes and decorated as desired.

Ingredients

  • 100 g (½ cup) sugar
  • 200 g (1 1/3 cups) rice flour
  • 50g (1/3 cup) potato flour, plus additional if sticky
  • Few drops of vanilla extract
  • 100g (3 ½ oz) butter, melted
  • 1 large egg

Preparation

In a bowl mix the sugar, both flours, vanilla, melted butter and egg. Mix all ingredients by hand. Once well combined, form into a ball and set aside for at least 30 minutes to rest.
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). On a well-floured surface, roll out the pastry dough into a rectangle. Using a pastry cutter, cut into stars or other shapes and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 180°C (350°F) for about 20 minutes until golden. Allow to cool, decorate if desired, serve or store in an airtight container.

A good passito di Pantelleria will go well with many types of sweets and desserts, but we like it especially with cookies and biscotti. Ben Ryè offers a rich bouquet with notes of apricots and candied orange peel. Very fresh and intense on the palate, the sweetness followed by a long and satisfying persistence. Also good with cheeses and artisan chocolate.

Struffoli ~ Christmas Fried Dough In Honey

It is said that the Greeks brought struffoli to the Gulf of Naples back in the times of the Siren Parthenope, and still today, they are the emblem of a true Neapolitan Christmas. In the 1600’s, the nuns in Naples offered out them as small Christmas gifts to the people, but this delicious sweet soon became known throughout the south and center of Italy.

Ingredients

    • 400 g (3 1/3 cups) ‘00’ flour
    • 6 egg yolks + 1 egg white, if needed
    • 25 g (1 oz) butter
    • 1 tablespoon grain alcohol, optional
    • Zest of 1 lemon, grated
    • Zest of 1 orange, grated
    • Salt, to taste
    • 50 ml (2 fl oz) water
    • 270 g (1 1/3 cup) sugar
    • 250 g (3/4 cup) honey
    • 150 g (5 oz) candied citrus peels, chopped
    • 50-100 g (2-3 oz) candy sprinkles, as desired

Sunflower or Peanut Oil, for frying

Preparation

On a work surface, mix the flour with the egg yolks, butter, alcohol, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, a pinch of salt, and the grated orange and lemon zest. Mix well and if needed, add an egg white if the dough is too hard. Knead by hand for a few minutes then set aside. Let dough rest for about 1 hour.
Roll the dough out into long coils and cut into small, bite-size pieces. Fry small quantities of the dough in the very hot oil and when golden, remove and allow to drain on paper towel to absorb excess oil. When all dough is fried, let cool to room temperature.
In a saucepan, heat the honey, the remaining sugar and water until the foam on top disappears and the color becomes light amber. Add the honey mixture to the struffoli and chopped candied citrus peels, and stir lightly with a large wooden spoon to combine.
Place onto a serving plate and sprinkle with candy sprinkles and some additional pieces of candied citrus peels to garnish, as desired.

Golden yellow in color, this passito from Campania offers up notes of dried apricots and white flowers. Silky soft on the palate, this wine nevertheless has a good dose of acidity and minerality. The finish is persistent and recalls candied citrus fruits, cinnamon and white peach. Great with all manner of Christmas pastries.

Panforte ~ Christmas spice cake from Siena

The first documentation of this sweet dates back to the year 1000 when it was made, not by bakers, but by the spice merchants who had access to the then very exclusive ingredients. (The cocoa was clearly a later addition.) As such, it was once a sweet to be enjoyed only by the wealthiest families. Sliced thinly, this specialty from Siena is a perfect accompaniment to small cups of potent black espresso or a glass of vin santo.

Ingredients for 1 cake

  • 200 g (1 ½ cups) almonds
  • 100 g (3/4 cups) walnuts
  • 100 g (3/4 cups) hazelnuts
  • 150 g (6 oz) candied orange and lemon peel, chopped
  • 100 g (4 oz) dried figs, chopped
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch white pepper
  • Generous pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 50 g (2 oz) cocoa powder
  • 75 g (3 oz) type ‘00’ or all-purpose flour
  • 175 g (1/2 cup) honey
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 25 g (1 oz) icing sugar plus 1 tsp cinnamon

Preparation

Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F), and line a buttered 24cm (10”) round cake tin with rice paper. Otherwise, buttered, floured baking parchment will do.
Toast the three types of nuts under a hot grill, being careful not to burn them, then chop or whiz briefly in a food processor. Place nuts into a bowl and add the candied peel, the figs and all the spices. Sieve in the cocoa powder and the flour and mix well.
In a small, thick-bottomed pan (or in the microwave), gently heat the honey then add the sugar stirring continuously until the honey is hot and the sugar is perfectly incorporated. Pour honey mixture immediately over the fruits and nuts and stir gently until well mixed. Spoon mixture into the prepared cake tin, smoothing the top with the spoon. Bake for 40 minutes until dry. Allow to cool slightly then remove cake from tin and place on a wire rack. Once completely cool, dust the top of the cake with the icing sugar mixed with the cinnamon. Alternatively, the cake can also be covered with melted dark chocolate. Wrapped well in foil, this cake will keep for up to a couple of months.

A great dessert wine from the countryside north of Siena, this vin santo is amber in colour, with notes of almond, honey and spices. It is nevertheless fresh on the palate and has a measured sweetness that makes it the perfect accompaniment to this rich panforte and even some cheeses.

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Recipes November

Tempting with recipes from our Ligurian kitchen

Antipasto

Cozze Ripiene alla Ligure ~ Mussels au Gratin

Serves 4

Mussels are plentiful in Liguria and not too expensive, and this is a favorite way to serve them.

Ingredients

  • 2 kg mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 100 g homemade breadcrumbs
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Handful of mixed fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme and marjoram, finely chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Preparation

Place the mussels in a large frying pan over a medium heat, shake the pan a little and remove the mussels as soon as they open up. (Discard any that do not open.) In a bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, chopped garlic and herbs. Season with a little salt and pepper and add just enough olive oil to bring the breadcrumb mixture together.

Place the mussels on a baking tray and place a small spoon of breadcrumb mixture on top of each one. Drizzle with a little more olive oil then place the mussels under a hot grill for about 10 minutes or until a golden brown crust forms. Serve immediately.

Cantine Lunae’s Albarola is a fresh white wine characterized by light notes of maritime aromatic herbs and intriguing aromas. It has good persistence in the mouth and finishes on an elegant note. Ideal for pairing with fish and seafood.

Primo

Pansotti Con Salsa di Noci – Ravioli with Walnut Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients for the Pasta

  • 300 g 00 flour
  • 75 ml water
  • 2 small eggs (plus a little beaten egg to seal the pasta)
  • Salt

Ingredients for the Filling

  • 800 g spinach/chard/chicory/borage depending on what you have to hand
  • 100 g ricotta
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 25 g melted butter
  • 50 g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram, finely chopped
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients for the Sauce

  • 250 g shelled walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram
  • ½ clove garlic
  • 30 g grated Parmesan cheese
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 2 slices Italian bread, crusts removed, bathed in milk
  • 50 g ricotta
  • Salt to taste

Preparation

First make the pasta dough by placing the flour on a worksurface and creating a well at the center. Add the eggs and the water in the center, then a couple of pinches of salt. Whisk the liquid ingredients together using a fork, slowly incorporating the flour as you go along, and adding a little extra water if the dough seems too dry. Work the dough for about 5 minutes until it becomes smooth and pliable. Wrap the dough in Clingfilm and leave to rest for at least half an hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling by quickly cooking your chosen greens in boiling water then gently squeezing them dry of excess liquid. Chop the greens finely and place in a bowl. Mix in the ricotta, egg, melted butter, Parmesan cheese and herbs. Grate in some fresh nutmeg and add salt to taste.

To make the sauce, pound the marjoram and garlic together in a large mortar. Add the walnuts a few at a time and the Parmesan cheese and continue to pound. Add a drizzling of olive oil and a little warm water, then squeeze the bread to remove excess milk and add to the mortar. Continue pounding until all the ingredients are well mixed. Place in a bowl then stir in the ricotta, adding just a little water more if the sauce appears too thick. Season to taste with salt.

To make the pansotti, divide the pasta into two even sized balls and, using a rolling pin, roll out into two very thin sheets of the same size. Brush one layer of pasta with a little beaten egg and place spoonfuls of the filling at aligned intervals at least 2/3 cm apart. Place the second sheet of pasta on top of the first and gently press down with your fingers between the spoofuls of filling to remove any air pockets. Using a small glass, cut out the individual ravioli and seal the edges by pressing between your fingers. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pansotti for 3 to 4 minutes.

As soon as the pansotti are cooked, remove from the water with a slotted spoon, place in a warm serving dish and add the walnut sauce, tossing to coat well. If you like, you can add a last scattering of grated Parmesan before serving.

Medium-bodied white wine, soft and fragrant, with notes of lemon verbena, grapefruit and mint, nice freshness and minerality with a lovely finish. A great accompaniment to vegetable pastas, fish dishes and cheese.

Secondo

Coniglio alla Ligure ~ Rabbit Ligurian Style

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 rabbit, cut into small pieces
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 sprig each of rosemary, thyme, marjoram, sage, finely chopped
  • 50 g black olives
  • 30 g pine nuts
  • Chili pepper
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation

Heat a good drizzling of olive oil in a large terracotta pot and throw in the chopped onion, garlic and herbs. Stir them around for a couple of minutes then add the olives, the pine nuts, the pieces of rabbit and a few snippings of fresh chili pepper. Cook until the rabbit has begun to get a little color, turning often so it browns evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the wine, let it evaporate a little then add half a glass of water, cover, and cook over a low heat until rabbit is tender, about 40 to 50 minutes. Check seasoning and serve.

An elegant well-balanced red wine, representing a landmark for this winery. (It was the first Ligurian wine to receive the DOC recognition back in 1972.) A few months in oak barrels gives it an intense aroma with hints of wild berries, cherry, dog-rose and spices. In the mouth is it is silky, velvety with saline hints.

Dolce

Latte Fritto ~ ‘Fried Milk’

Serves 4

May and June are the months of roses so take advantage of the brimming rose petals to create this refreshing aperitivo.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, plus two egg yolks
  • 150 g sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 liter whole fat milk
  • 150 g flour
  • 100 g breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Icing sugar for decoration

Preparation

Beat together the four whole eggs, the sugar and the lemon zest until the mixture becomes pale and fluffy. Slowly incorporate the milk and flour. Cook this mixture over a very low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring continuously as you would polenta. Pour the mixture into an oiled shallow tray, cover with tin foil and leave to cool overnight. Cut resulting firm cream into diamond shapes. In a bowl, beat the two egg yolks and, in a deep frying pan, heat the oil. Dip the diamonds into the egg yolks and then into the breadcrumbs and fry in the hot oil until golden brown on all sides. Remove from frying pan and drain on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil. Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.

A great dessert wine, this Sciacchetrà is bright amber in color and offers notes of apricot, candied orange, dried figs and even a little hazelnut. It has a sweet, but never sickly, taste – perfect to accompany sweet bites, but also some cheeses.

Recipe June

Primo

Pasta Alla Campagnola ~ Pasta With Fava Beans & Sausage

Serves 4

This recipe, pasta alla campagnola takes its name from countryside. Handmade sausage incorporating the springtime fava of the season is one recipe we just cannot get enough of!

Ingredients

  • 1 kg fava beans, shelled then boiled until tender – half puréed, half kept whole
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ kg fresh onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 150 g fresh sausage- out of casing
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 50 g Pecorino, grated
  • 100 g Parmigiano, grated
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • 500 g tubettoni pasta- large short tubes

Preparation

In a large pan, heat a generous swirl of olive oil and add chopped onion and garlic clove.  Sauté until blond, then add the sausage and sauté together to brown.  Add the whole fava beans.  Be careful not to burn the fresh onion, and add a bit of the fava-water as needed.

Sauté together for a few minutes, then add the white wine and allow to evaporate.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in boiling salted water until just barely al dente (the pasta finishes cooking in the pan with the sauce, so it should be very al dente).

Add the pureed fave to the whole fava beans and stir together – adding a bit more of the fava-water if needed. Check seasoning. Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the sauce.  Toss together and just before serving, add the pecorino and fresh parsley.  Serve with grated Parmigiano on top.

It pours like Prosecco but is from the Amalfi Coast. Its soft notes of apricot and apple pair well with pasta, fish and springtime fruit like strawberries. A light and refreshing white wine that every wine lover should have in their cellar.

Fresh Pasta with Wild Asparagus

Serves 4

Ingredients for the Pasta

  • 300 g flour
  • 3 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks
  • 10 g salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Ingredients for the Sauce

  • 100 g wild asparagus
  • 3 stalks of wild garlic,
  • 40 g aged ricotta
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • Salt & pepper, as needed

Preparation

Lay out the ingredients for the dough on a flat surface. You can start mixing with a fork and then continue with your hands. Once you have obtained a nice, smooth dough, set it aside for 10 minutes.

Roll out the dough and cut in strips to form tagliatelle noodles. Begin cooking the pasta in boiling salted water – you will need to remove when it is al dente.

Wash and cut each asparagus stalk in half. Heat the olive oil in a pan and then add the asparagus stalks. Add a little of the cooking water from the pasta and let cook until the asparagus is tender.

Finely chop the wild garlic and add it to the asparagus. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Once the pasta is al dente, drain and add it to the pan with the asparagus. Mix together well and then transfer to a serving platter. Top with the salted ricotta cut in very thin slices. Your dish is ready!

Getis, another great wine from the Amalfi Coast, is light and freshing and pairs well with pasta and spring vegetables and fish as well. Rose in color, its note are dry with a hint of berry.

Dolce

Prosecco Rose Petal Pops

Serves Makes 6 popsicles

May and June are the months of roses so take advantage of the brimming rose petals to create this refreshing aperitivo.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white grape juice
  • 1 cup cold Prosecco
  • 1/3 cup rose water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • About 30 untreated red rosebud petals, rinsed

Method

Combine the grape juice, Prosecco, rose water and lemon juice. Fill ice pop molds about a third full. Drop 2 or 3 rose petals in each and freeze until set, about 30 minutes.
Fill the molds another third of the way full and drop 2 or 3 more petals in. Insert sticks. Freeze until set, about 30 minutes.
Fill all the way with remaining mixture, and drop 2 or 3 more petals into each mold. Freeze until set, at least 8 hours or up to 1 week.

Refined and elegant with exceptional acidity and full body. Perfect as an aperitif, it will also pair well with various cold meats and charcuterie and fully matured cheeses.

Spring Recipes

Primo

Strangozzi Con Le Fave ~ Pasta with Fava Beans

Serves 4

Ingredients for the Strangozzi

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose or ‘00’ flour
  • 1 1 ¼ cups semolina flour
  • 1 cup water (more as needed)
  • semolina flour for tossing

Sauce

  • Generous swirl of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 chili pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups fresh fava beans, shelled
  • 1 generous handful of pancetta, chopped
  • Fresh chopped parsley

Preparation

To make the pasta, combine the two flours in a large bowl or on a wooden working surface and make a well. Add the water to the well and incorporate the flour and water with your hands and work until the flour and water are mixed together well.

Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable. Cover with a clean cotton kitchen towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Generously sprinkle semolina on a wooden working surface and place the dough on the wooden board. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle or round shape until it is ⅛ thick.

Roll up the dough loosely into a log and cut the dough into ¼ to ½ inches strips (not too thin, not too thick). Gently unroll them and spread on a floured surface to prevent them sticking together.

When you are ready to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile prepare the sauce.

Fava Beans and Pancetta
In a large sauté pan, generously swirl olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Place over a medium heat and add the chopped onion, sauté until golden.
Add the fava beans and the chili pepper and a little bit of water to the pan. Lastly, add the pancetta.
Season with sea salt and pepper.

When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta and cover. After a minute, lift the cover and stir the pasta. Cook until al dente. The pasta needs to be firm. Cook for approximately 3 to 5 minutes until hard to the bite. Remove and drain. Add to the sauté pan, add a little tiny bit of pasta water to the pan and swirl ingredients well. Salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Pair with Umbria Grechetto Argillae IGT.

Made from 100% Grechetto grapes and golden yellow in color, this white wine offers up soft citrus blossom and a little nectarine with some peach and almond. It is rich and full bodied but with a freshness that makes this a good match for an early spring pasta dish.
www.argillae.eu/index.php/it/vini/grechetto

Secondo

Vitello di Umbria ~ Umbrian Veal

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 veal cutlets
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

To Garnish

  • 1 small handful of fresh basil
  • 2 pinches of marjoram
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • A few mint leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 pinch of mustard seeds
  • 2 anchovies
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 5 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Preparation

Wash and clean the herbs, by removing the leaves. Tear them into pieces. Wash, clean, bone and chop the anchovies.  Grind the herbs and anchovies together using a mortar and pestle, or mince using a knife. In a bowl, mix together the oil, vinegar and lemon juice. Add the herbs and leave to marinate.
Meanwhile, heat a pan with a generous swirl of olive oil. When the pan heats up, season the veal with salt and pepper to taste, and place in the pan. Let brown on both sides – turn once. Once the meat is browned on both sides, add sauce and serve immediately.

Pair with Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG Collepiano, Arnaldo Caprai.

Brilliant ruby with garnet highlights, this Montefalco gives up notes of spices, cocoa, blackberry and cherry with a herbal finish that accompanies the herbs in the Umbrian veal very well. Well structured, and well balanced there is good persistency on the finish.
www.arnaldocapraiusa.com/pagine/montefalco-sagrantino-docg-collepiano-000

Dolce

Torta di Vino Sagrantino – Sagrantino Wine Cake

Serves 10

Cook Time: 35 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of brown cane organic sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups cake flour 00
  • ¾ cup unsweetened dark cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk or almond milk
  • 1 cup Sagrantino wine or any other full bodied dry red wine
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 vanilla pod

To Finish:

  • Cocoa Powder for garnishing

Preparation

1. Heat the oven to 350°F / 180°C. Lightly grease a 10-inch bundt pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, and salt, and mix well.
3. In another bowl, add the eggs, buttermilk or almond milk, wine, olive oil and contents of the inside of the vanilla bean. Mix these ingredients with an electric mixer.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients and continue to mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. The batter should be very thin.
5. Pour the batter into the Bundt cake pan, and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. Cool for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan.
7. Cool to room temperature, then dust with either the cocoa powder.

Pair with Montefalco Sagrantino Passito, Tabarrini.

Nothing could be a better match for this wine cake than its sweet wine counterpart. This elegant Tabarrini Passito is obtained by leaving the Sagrantino grapes to mature on racks for three months before vinification to concentrate the sugars. The wine is then matured for three years in French oak barrels. There are wonderful aromas of jam, sweet and Oriental spices, dried fruit and mint and the final result is an intense, concentrated rounded wine rich in tannins.
tabarrini.com/en/products

Perugia Cooking & Spa Accommodations

B&B:
A warm reception and common area welcome you with a professional staff member for all of your needs. Guest rooms are elegantly furnished with bright modern finishings – hard wood floors and high wood-beamed ceiling with private ensuite bath. Each room is complete with television, telephone, satellite TV, hair drier, Wi-Fi and a safe for valuables.

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Mountain View

B&B:
Our Mountain View B&B option offers all of the amenities of a home-away-from-home during your stay including a comfortable room in a quiet location with a terrace overlooking the mountains. The property is comprised of individual private rooms, each with a private ensuite bathroom. At the family property, Signor Giuseppe and his father, Antonio welcome you and are available to provide information during your stay, including maps and directions and warm Italian hospitality. Daily breakfast, including incredible homemade cakes, cornetti, biscotti, is prepared by his mamma and aunt; accompanied by steamy cappuccinos, Italian caffes, and assorted teas and fruit juices. The property is at street level with minimum stairs, one flight up for the higher rooms, and has a lovely restaurant on site along with a wood-burning brick oven churning out the best Neapolitan pizza on the Amalfi Coast. Each room has hair dryers, Wi-Fi internet, and air conditioning included. The property is in Positano, overlooks the Lattari Mountians and is a twenty-minute walk from the main part of town. Local buses are an easy option for those who do not like to walk along with local taxis which are available too.

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December recipes

Antipasto

Insalata di Rinforzo ~ ‘Reinforcement’ Salad

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized cauliflower
  • 100 g (4 oz) pickled peppers
  • 6-7 salted anchovies, rinsed
  • 100 g (4 oz) capers in salt, rinsed and drained
  • 100 g (4 oz) black olives
  • 100 g (4 oz) green olives
  • 125 g (5 oz) mixed pickled vegetables such as carrots, gherkins, onions etc. cut into slices
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt & pepper

Rinse the cauliflower. Cut into small florets and cook in boiling salted water for about 7 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook – it should still be a little crunchy. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. Place in a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil and place in the fridge to cool.

Meanwhile, cut the pickled peppers in half, remove the stalk and seeds, and cut into strips. Cut the anchovies into small pieces. Once the cauliflower is cold, place in a clean bowl with the olives, capers, pickled peppers, anchovies and pickled vegetables. Season with salt, pepper, a splash of vinegar and a drizzling of olive oil. Mix well and leave in the fridge for at least 3 or 4 hours before serving. This salad is often served on a bed of escarole.

Pair with Feudi Dubl Brut.

Pickles are notoriously difficult to match with wines, and the only real choice is bubbles. We’ve chosen Feudi Dubl Brut made from 100% Falanghina grapes, which offers a delicate persistent perfume and notes of ginger on the tongue, with mineral notes keeping the palate clean. A great all-round choice and doubles up as the perfect aperitivo!
http://dubl.it/

Primo

Spaghetti e Vongole – Spaghetti with Clams

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) of clams
  • 350 g (12 oz) spaghetti from Gragnano
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 fat garlic clove, halved
  • Half of a fresh red chilli
  • 8 ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered (optional)
  • Scant half glass white wine
  • Handful chopped parsley

Preparation

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Rinse the clams in several changes of cold water. Discard any that are open or damaged.

Cook spaghetti according to pack instructions. Meanwhile, heat a very generous swirl of olive oil in a large pan, add the garlic and chili, then fry gently for a few moments. Stir in the tomatoes (if using), then add the clams and the wine, and bring to the boil. Cover the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the clams are open. (Discard any clams that do not open.) Once the pasta is cooked al dente, drain, then tip into the pan with the clams along with the parsley and toss together. Serve in bowls with bread for mopping up the juices.
**If you prefer, you can leave out the tomatoes. Also, some people like to shell about a half of the cooked clams and adding them back to the sauce before tossing with the pasta.

Pair with Marisa Cuomo Furore Bianco.

Made in a winery perched on the hillside directly overlooking the sea, it should be no surprise that this delicious white made from Falanghina and Biancolella grapes makes the perfect partner for spaghetti with seafood. With its delicate perfume of fruit and Mediterranean herbs and its generous well-balanced flavour, this wine is a winner.
http://www.marisacuomo.com/vini/furore-bianco.php

Secondo

Baccalà Fritto

Baccalà is salted dried cod. It needs to be soaked at least three days before using. At Christmastime, most fishmongers sell pre-soaked baccalà, otherwise you can do it at home.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 700 g (1 ½ lbs) pre-soaked baccalà fillets
  • 100 g (4 oz) flour
  • 500 ml (2 cups) sunflower oil for frying

If the baccalà fillets still have skin on, remove it by lifting a little of the skin near the tail and pulling slowly in the opposite direction. Then, feel gently along the fillets, and using a pair of tweezers, remove any bones. Cut the fillets into thick chunks about 8cm (3 ½ in) by 4cm (2 in). Place the flour in a bowl and roll each piece of baccalà in flour, gently shaking to remove any excess. Heat the oil in a small deep pan to 180°C (360°F) and fry the baccalà in batches, turning every so often so it cooks evenly. After about 5 minutes or when the fish is fried to a deep golden color, remove from oil and place on kitchen paper to drain. Serve piping hot.

Pair with Ciro Picariello Fiano di Avellino.

Rich in minerality, the crispness of this Fiano cuts nicely through the oil in the dish. Stoney notes are balanced by warm peat, straw and white flowers, and the lingering aftertaste is well suited to the decisive flavor of the baccalà.
http://www.ciropicariello.it/Vini.html

Insalata di Baccalà

Baccalà is salted dried cod. It needs to be soaked at least three days before using. At Christmastime, most fishmongers sell pre-soaked baccalà, otherwise you can do it at home.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 700 g (1 ½ lbs) pre-soaked baccalà fillets
  • Sea salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • Handful of parsley, finely chopped

If the baccalà fillets still have skin on, remove it by lifting a little of the skin near the tail and pulling slowly in the opposite direction. Then, feel gently along the fillets, and using a pair of tweezers, remove any bones. Cut the fillets into large chunks and cook in a large pan of boiling water for about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the baccalà and leave to cool slightly. Using your hands, break the pieces of baccalà into small pieces and arrange in a flat serving dish. Season the baccalà with a little salt (check first – it may already be salty enough), and a drizzling of olive oil and lemon juice. Garnish with a little chopped parsley.

Pair with Casa D’Ambra Per’ E’ Palummo.

For our insalata di baccalà, we’ve chosen a light red that is nevertheless big on flavour and will make the perfect accompaniment for this salad. Ruby red and with a delicate wine-infused bouquet, this wine is light enough not to overcome the fish but also rich and complex enough to compliment the big flavors the baccalà has to offer.
http://www.dambravini.com/

Dolce

Roccocò – Christmas Almond Cookies

Serves Makes about 25 cookies

Ingredients

  • 500 g (4 cups) plain flour
  • 500 g (2 ½ cups) sugar
  • Scant teaspoon baking ammonia (or baking powder)
  • 2 teaspoons of pisto (mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, star anise & vanilla)
  • 400 g (14 oz) toasted whole almonds
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • Grated rind of 1 mandarin
  • 200 ml (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) warm water
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (360°F). In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking ammonia and pisto. Then stir in the almonds and grated lemon and mandarin rind. Add the warm water and mix well with your hands to form a soft dough. If the dough is too dry, add a little more warm water. Turn the dough onto a work surface dusted with flour and knead briefly (adding a little extra flour if necessary) until it is not too sticky anymore.

Cut off small pieces of dough and roll them into thin strips about 15cm (6 in) long and 2cm (3/4 in) wide. Shape the logs into a doughnut shape, making sure the ends overlap a little. Place the roccocò on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with the beaten egg. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool then store in an airtight container. These cookies will keep well for a couple of months.

Pair with Castello Ducale Meteora.

Campania has some great passito wines on offer these days, and this offering from Castello Ducale in Benevento is deep amber yellow in color with a rich, natural sweetness. With its perfumes of citrus fruits, straw and honey, drink this wine with dry spiced cookies or desserts with cream.
http://www.cantinacastelloducale.com/