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Some time ago just after I completed an Italian language program in Bologna, I took a cooking class from a master chef in Puglia Italy. It was a wonderful personal experience to learn some of the recipes of the region and to use my newfound knowledge of Italian. Chef Marco also knew that I was writing a cookbook about my family recipes who came from the region. He gave me about 30 recipes from chefs throughout Gargano and told me that I could publish them. One of these recipes was his family recipe for Calzone con Cipolla. I have been making it ever since and it is an impressive and delicious luncheon for friends.
Chef Marco had a staff of 4 chefs who taught my husband and I a number of local dishes and to my surprise some were my family recipes that hadn’t changed at all after 3 generations living in the US. My family has been in the food and restaurant business and I expected that some of these recipes would have been Americanized. There were also many that I had never had before and have now brought them back into our family collection of recipes.
Calzone con Cipolla
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes @ 425ºF
Yield: 4 servings
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons water
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk, a little water
Beat eggs, oil and water. Sift the flour, and baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the egg mixture. Stir with a folk until blended (the dough can be made in a food processor). Turn the dough onto a lightly floured pastry board. Mix well and knead until the dough is shinny. Cover the dough for 10 minutes.
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. onions, sliced
4 anchovies, chopped
8 green olives, sliced
1 teaspoon capers, drained and rinsed
Nutmeg, a few grinds
Salt to taste, because there are anchovies in the recipe, taste the onions and determine if the recipe needs more salt before adding it.
Clean and cut the onions in large pieces and cook them well-set aside to cool. Rinse the capers under cold water to remove the brine. Slice the olives.
Roll out the dough, which can be done in 4 calzone, or in 2 large rounds or even several smaller ones. Layer the onions onto the dough. Sprinkle the anchovies, capers, olives and a few grinds of nutmeg on top of the onions. Fold the dough over the top forming an envelope. Crimp the dough on all sides. Brush the top with the egg wash.
Cook in a very hot oven for 20 minutes or more. It is best to cook the calzone on a pizza stone; it will come out very crispy. Check the bottom of the calzone; if it is brown and the top is golden it is done. It is possible that it can take longer then 20 minutes.
For me there just isn’t any other pasta that is as good as old fashion ricotta ravioli. My grandmother was the expert in our family and thank goodness she loved to teach us all how to cook. I often wonder when I read stories by chefs or others who write blogs about food how it is that everyone mentions their grandmother as being their inspiration. Whatever happened to their mothers? My mother was a great cook also and we loved making cookies and ravioli with her. It was a family affair in the kitchen as we only made them for holidays. Today I make them very often and with different filling. I love when my children and grandchildren join in and I can continue the roll of the grandmother who inspires them to cook. I have put all these recipes on a CD for them to carry on the traditions and heritage that I treasure.
We always have some Italian dishes during our holidays. Whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve or Easter there is always ravioli on our table as a first dish. We set up an assembly line with all of us pitching in to make hundreds of them before Thanksgiving so that we could have them for Christmas also. They freeze very well, but don’t ever defrost them before cooking them. Put them into a large amount of salted boiling water directly from the freezer.
My grandmother made them very big, not like the little ones you find today in many restaurants. These are “the old country” ravioli and I love them. She had a small white sideboard with a roll top and made all of her cookies and pasta on this little pull out counter.
Use whatever tomato sauce recipe you like the best. Hers was always a meat-based recipe cooked for hours.
Prep Time: Dough 10 minutes, filling 20 minutes, 40 minutes forming the ravioli’s
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes and test them
Yield: 35 Ravioli
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Warm water to mix
2 lb. whole milk ricotta
1 teaspoon or more of salt
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste (slightly over salt)
Add finely chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese and the eggs to the ricotta, taste before adding salt. Slightly over salt the filling. Set the filling aside.
Place the flour on a board and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and salt with a little water as needed. Use a fork and beat into the well the flour a little at a time. Form the dough into a ball and knead until it is smooth and shiny. Let it stand for at least 15 minutes to rest. If you are using a pasta machine to roll out the dough, keep the dough dry by adding less water. When using a pasta machine, roll the dough in the different slots until you come to the second to the last slot. This consistency is the desired thickness. As you roll the dough through the different slots, it will also knead the dough. If you are using a rolling pin, roll the dough out so that it is thin enough but not so thin that it would break. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, (large enough to fold over the filling) in an envelope style.
Place a tablespoon of filling along the middle of the dough. Fold the dough over the filling forming the envelope. Press down on the edges and also along the sections forming the squares. Be sure to cup the filling with your hands so that you remove as much of the air inside the envelope. Cut into squares (whatever size you wish). Prick the edges with a folk to keep them from opening while cooking.
The ravioli can be frozen at this point on a platter, and then removed when completely frozen to freezer bags. They can be cooked fresh in the same way as stated below.
Take them directly out of the freezer and place them in boiling salted water. When the water comes to a boil again, turn the heat down and let them cook at a light boil. They will float to the top when they are done. Test one to be sure they are done before removing them from the water. Remove them very carefully so that they don’t break. It is best to let them stand for a few minutes to let the water drain out completely.
Note: Other fillings such as spinach, squash, meat, or fish such as lobster or crab fillings can be used with the basic dough recipe.
Note: They can be served with a tomato sauce or butter and sage.
Note: If serving for a first dish, serve 3 ravioli. If serving for a main dish about 5 to 8 is a good size serving.
One of my friends on Foodbuzz was looking for ideas on how to use Ficoco, which is fig jam with cocoa. Sugar was expensive so many desserts were made with jams or mosto cotto (grape syrup) to sweeten cakes, cookies etc. Itlians have many jam or fruit filled cookies that ficoco would be perfect for, in fact figs were also used to make mosto cotto.
I have several stuffed cookie recipes that we make and one is “Ravioli Dolci”. This cookie is a recipe from Apuglia. Ravioli Dolci is a fried cookie that does not have a long shelf life, in fact this is best eaten the day they are made.
Ravioli Dolci di Puglia
Prep Time: 1 1/4 hours
Cook Time: 1 second per batch, about 3 at a time
Yield: 26 Dozen
8 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup shortening
1 shot glass of Marsala wine
Warm water, as needed
Canola or peanut oil for frying
8 oz. size bottle of honey or mosto cotto
1 lb. roasted almonds, finely chopped
1/2 lb. chocolate or chocolate chips, chopped
Ground cinnamon, to taste
Ground cloves, to taste
A teaspoon of any variety of jam or Ficoco.
In a pan on medium heat, melt all of the ingredients together, taste for seasoning and place it in the refrigerator.
Put all the dry ingredients together in a bowl or on a board and make a well in the middle. Put in the shortening, wine and if needed a little warm water. Mix until you can form the dough. Knead until the dough is smooth and place in the refrigerator for about 1 hour. You can also mix the dough in a food processor.
If you have a pasta machine, you can roll out the dough to the second to the last level. Or you may roll a thin layer of dough with a rolling pin. With a round cookie cutter, cut circles about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place a small amount of jam or of the roasted almond honey mixture with the tip of a teaspoon in the center of each circle. Fold over like a half moon and crimp the edges with a fork.
In a deep pan filled with oil, fry about 3 at a time until they are golden brown. They turn brown very quickly; only about a second per batch.
Allow them to cool and sprinkle confectionary sugar over the top.
A traditional sweet bread made at Christmas time, panettone was created in the Lombardy region of Italy and is the undisputable holiday favorite. Scholars have traced panettone back to the middle ages. The dome shaped sweet bread is traditionally made with candied fruits, zest and flavored with liquors. Today you can find it with chocolate chips and other ingredients. It is less like a cake then light fluffy sweet bread. The use of natural yeast results in a dough that rises slowly. The rising time can be as long as 48 hours. The long leavening contributes to the long shelf life, which can be as long as 6 months. Italian bakers take pride in the age of their leavening and some are maintained over many years.
It is eaten in Italy with a glass of white wine and in earlier time generally served as a dessert. Panettone is recognized in Italy as a very special greeting gesture of the Christmas season. Restaurants and shops offer panettone to their customers as a Christmas greeting and they can be found in all bakeries and markets in all sizes. At Christmas time you can be overwhelmed with gifts of panettone and I often use them to make panettone bread pudding or French toast for my overnight guests and I also freeze it. Panettone has become so popular that you can find it year round not just in Italy but all over the world.
They are baked in greased paper molds, which is removed like a cupcake. The greased paper molds help to maintain their freshness. The molds are available on Internet sites as well as metal panettone pans. The disposable molds are traditional and I prefer them to the pans. Usually packaged in brightly decorated boxes or colored decorated foils in blue and red – they are stacked high in markets.
We make panettone in smaller paper molds similar to cupcake cups but larger, and individually wrap them in cello wrap. We sell them as wedding favors, for parties and business conference breaks. Make them yourself and give them as Christmas gifts to special friends and family.
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: Yield: 375ºF for 35-45 minutes
Yield: 12 Panettone cups
2 1/4 teaspoons. active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 pinch of sugar
4 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 cups raisins, soaked in dry Marsala, rum or brandy for 30 minutes
3/4 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
6 oz. unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup candied fruit, mix with a tablespoon of flour
1 orange zest
1 lemon zest
1 teaspoon flour, to mix with the zest
1 egg yolk, beaten
2 tablespoons water
Combine the yeast, pinch of sugar and water and mix well to dissolve the yeast. Let it stand for about 10 minutes in a warm place such as the oven to activate. When foam appears on the top of the water, the yeast has been activated.
Put the flour, sugar, salt, butter and eggs in the large bowl of an electric mixer or food processor. Mix the dough with the dough hook at low speed. Add the yeast mixture slowly. When all the ingredients are incorporated, increase to medium speed or until the dough forms a ball.
Spread a little flour in a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover it with plastic wrap and place in a draft-free place to rise for 4 hours. It should double in volume. Remove the dough and knead it for 5 minutes and return it to the bowl. Cover and let it rise again until it has doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
Strain the raisins and press down on them to remove the liquid. Lightly flour the work surface. Punch down the dough and make a large circle with your hands. Sprinkle the raisins, candied fruit, orange peel and lemon peel over the dough. Fold the dough over the mixture and knead it lightly until all of the ingredients have been incorporated. If you are adding the citron and/or zest, mix with the flour and add it to the dough.
Divide the dough into 12 round equally sized balls, approximately 4 1/2 ounces each. Butter each of the panettone cups lightly and place a ball in each cup. Cut a cross into the top with a knife. If using scissors make a small cut in both directions on the top or each ball of dough. Brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle some almond slices over the top. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for another 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until it has doubled in volume again.
Preheat the oven to 375º F. Bake the panettoni for 30 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Allow them to cool on a wire rack. In this case we don’t have cups and we are cooking several cups.
Note: The Panettone can be made in one or two molds to make a larger cake. They are wonderful gifts as they have a long life and can be beautifully packaged.
As I look out my window in the middle of October the view is of white snow cover mountains and the ski slopes have turned from green to glimmering white. The ski resorts are busy getting ready for their winter guests and anticipating an active winter ski season. Graubunden has numerous ski resorts and attracts winter sports enthusiasts from all over the world. The atmosphere has a buzz and energy as soon as the first snowfall blankets the area. The villages wake up and go into action. This is their time of the year!
Graubünden has its own unique character. It is the largest Canton in Switzerland with Chur as its capital. Austria and Liechtenstein are on its North and Italy to the south. Like all regions in Switzerland, the architecture, language and cuisine are influenced by the French, Italian and German cultures. Swiss German, Romanish (its roots are from Latin) and Italian are spoken and alpine life embraces a wide variety of sports.
Cranberries are native to North America and it is known that Indians served cranberries at the first Thanksgiving dinner and served them with venison. They are an amazing fruit growing under sand and wetlands. European settlers actually gave them their name even though the Indians were eating them long before they came to North America. Massachusetts and Wisconsin are the largest producers of Cranberries in the world.
I spent my summers on Cape Cod where there were cranberry bogs in our back yard. After the harvest was over there were many berries lying on top of the bog that got left behind. We would collect them and make muffins and mix them with apple pie – they add a little tartness to the pie that I really like. They are only available in Switzerland in November for a few weeks and to my surprise I am able to buy Ocean Spray cranberries. I buy several bags and freeze them for the year. The European varieties don’t have the same flavor and are much smaller. For more information on cranberries log onto the Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. web site. http://oceanspray.com/
We tend to think about cranberries only during Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I freeze them and use them as a salsa for meats, in apple pie and crumble, and cranberry bread. I dry them in the oven and toss them in my homemade granola, muffins, biscotti and scones. I make cranberry sauce year round serving it with venison, chicken and pork. Cranberries are a good source of vitamin C and are also full of antioxidants.
Cranberry Walnut Bread
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour @ 350º F
Yield: 12 slices
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons all purpose flour, for dusting the berries
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely broken, save 3 for decoration
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons orange zest or
2 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups cranberries
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Other things needed
Parchment paper, cut the size of the bottom of your loaf pan
Cream the butter, sugar and eggs until they are fluffy. Add the sour cream, orange zest, and orange juice.
Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients a little at a time. Using the 2 tablespoons of flour – toss the cranberries into the flour coating them. Fold in the berries and walnuts by hand. Place the parchment paper at the bottom of the load pan. Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan with parchment paper at the bottom and three place whole walnuts on the top of the batter. Drop the pan onto the countertop a few times so that the batter settles evenly.
Bake in the oven for 1 hour at 350ºF. Test with a toothpick; it should come out dry when done. Remove it from the oven to a rack and allow it to cool before removing from the loaf pan.
Artichokes are served in Italy in antipasti preserved in olive oil. The baby artichokes are most often used and are much easier to prepare. However, even though they are grown in California they don’t seem to be found in the markets in large quantities and are only available in small pre-packed packages. In Italy they are available in markets in large quantities and some markets are selling them already cleaned. Preserving them is a great way to have them on hand for a variety of cooking uses. I tossed them with pasta, as a vegetable side dish, in antispasti, as a topping on pizza, with fresh bread dipped in the oil and served with a few artichokes or sautéed, sliced over meat or fish. You can flavor them with your favorite herbs and make them your own special recipe.
A little about Artichokes
The edible portion of the artichoke is basically a flower bud with tough, petal-shaped leaves, and an inedible, flower center. When selecting artichokes, be sure they are tightly packed and are not dried out. It is best if you can buy them with the stems still intact as often found in Italy, but markets in the US tend to cut them off.
There are many varieties of artichokes but the ones most often found in markets are as follows:
Baby anzio is a relative of the romanesco artichoke of the Lazio region of Italy – purple and can be eaten whole
Big heart– green, three to five inches in diameter, are excellent for stuffing
Classic green globe, three to five inches in diameter, similar in shape and flavor to the French camus de bretagne, a summer artichoke grown in Brittany.
Siena, oblong shaped and red in color, four inches in diameter, central Italy, tender and can be eaten raw
The petite mercury, red-violet hue, rounded top, is sweeter than many other artichokes, about three and a half inches in diameter. Similar to baby anzio, comes from the Italian romanesco.
Omaha, dense and rotund artichoke, up to six inches wide, sharply tapered red-and-green leaves and less bitter than many artichoke varieties.
Fissile, two-inch-wide, fruity flavor, deep wine color, Bred from the violetta de provence, native to southern France, tender stalk that can be quickly steamed and eaten.
Chianti, a classically shaped, four-inch-wide, green with a touch of maroon on the leaves, comes from the Italian romanesco.
King, blocky and vividly colored has distinctive green spots at the tips of its leaves, four inches in diameter, bred from romanesco varieties mixed with other Italian artichoke strains.
Carciofi o carciofini sott’ olio
Preserved artichokes in olive oil
The small artichokes or baby artichokes (carciofini) are best for carciofi sott’olio. If they can’t be found then use globe artichokes and cut them into quarters.
Baby or medium size artichokes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Lemon plus juice, cut in half or quarters, depending on the number of artichokes
2 sprigs fresh basil
1-2 tablespoons honey, optional
Fresh or flaked peperoncini to taste, optional
2 whole cloves garlic, optional
2 tablespoons flour
Other things needed
1 large glass-canning jar
Trim away the small bottom and tough outer leaves. Cut the tops of the artichokes about 1/4” down or to the tender part. Remove all the leaves down to the white leaves, keeping about 2 inches of stems. Cut the artichokes in half or quarters. Clean out the hay in the middle. Drop them into a bowl of water with lemon juice and the lemon halves. This will keep them from discoloring.
In a large pan, bring water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of flour in a separate bowl with water until it is liquid paste. Put this mixture in the boiling water. This will prevent discoloring and keep the artichokes a nice light green color.
Put the cleaned artichokes into the boiling water and cook until they just start to get slightly soft about 5-7 minutes depending on the size. Prick them with a knife – they should still be slightly hard. Remove them and place them on paper towels to drain.
When they have cooled, place them in a large glass-canning container. Add the basil, honey, pepperoncini and/or any other herbs, or garlic). Fill the container with extra virgin olive oil. If stored in a cool place they will last for about 2 months.
They can be served in an antipasti, or as side vegetable dish. Toss them in a salad, pasta or on a pizza. Slice them over grilled meat or fish. If you plan to use them in food preparation, don’t add the honey. The ingredients above are an example of what can be added, but don’t exclude herbs you like.
We often shop in 2 markets in Como, Italy; one is the main market in the center of Como and the other is the Ipera in Grandate. Very near to this market is a little local restaurant called Ristorante Arcade. There isn’t much about the curb view of this restaurant that would make you look twice and stop for a meal. However, this restaurant has some different dishes specializing in snails not often seen in Italy. On one of our shopping trips, it was lunch time, and we were very hungry with not too many restaurants around, we noticed Ristorante Arcade. Having had many wonderful meals in small local restaurants, we stopped in for lunch. I had Funghi lumache e salsiccia con polenta taragna. It was not like any dish I had eaten in Italy and I not only loved it but asked the chef for the recipe. He was good enough to give me the recipe and a bag of Teglio-Valtellina polenta. I have featured this dish on Foodbuzz.
Vieste Foggia is located in Puglia in the southeast of Italy. The old medieval town stands on the eastern coastline of the Gargano; a peninsula protruding towards Dalmatia, surrounded by the Adriatic Sea and separated from the Apennines by the Tavoliere plateau with a unique landscape of naturalistic beauty. It is a melting pot of foreign populations with influences of Greek, Arab, Norman and Pisan reflected in its architecture making it distinctly different from other Italian villages. There are the sea caves and grottos and long white sand beaches. Ride bikes along the hilly coastline visiting many small villages or the National Park. The region is famous for olives and olive oil light in color and flavor perfect for the typical seafood cuisine.
The old village is not reachable by car. Stone steps bring you back in time to a village with glorious views of the Adria. It is situated atop a cliff capped with white stucco flat roofed houses. Doorways framed with pepperoncini (red hot peppers), pomodori (cherry tomatoes), pepperoni (peppers) and aglio (garlic) line the old cobblestone streets. I remember once when I took my brother there for his first visit, as we were meandering through the village in the late afternoon saying all this needs to complete this picture is a mother calling out “Angeloooooo!”. To our absolute amazement that is exactly what happened as the words left out mouths.
Colorful and friendly proprietors welcome you into the small Enoteca and restaurants offering beautiful fresh grilled fish, troccoli chitarra, pastas with ripe tomatoes grown locally and zuppa di peche (fish soup).
Puglia is one of the largest wine-growing regions in Italy and you will be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the wines. Deep in color and aroma, they compliment the flavors of the products grown in the region. Many can be bought in wine shops in the US and Europe. The following wines are some of the more popular available:
Aleatico di Puglia, Alezio, Brindisi, Cacc’è Mmitte di Lucera, Castel del Monte,Copertino, Galatina, Gioia del Colle, Gravina, Leverano, Lizzano, Locorotondo, Martina o Martina Franca, Matino, Moscato di Trani. Nardò, Ortanova, Ostuni, Primitivo di Manduria, Rosso di Barletta, Rosso di Canosa, Rosso di Cerignola, Salice Salentino, San Severo, Squinzano.
In the early nineteen hundreds many Italians emigrated from this region of Italy to America. They brought with them rich traditions, culture and wonderful recipes. Living in Europe for many years, I have traveled to Vieste often and took a cooking course to learn the local dishes of my heritage. My grandparents immigrated to the US between 1894-1912. The name was originally “Tura”, but as happened to many immigrants their name was misspelled at Ellis Island and the name became “Turo”. Also like many immigrants, they worked at what they knew and opened “Turo’s Market”, (originally a fish market) in Worcester Massachusetts. Later the family went into the restaurant business.
Orecciette con cimi di rape is a specialty in Apulia. As you sit down to eat your homemade oreccietti con cimi di rapa (shown below), given to me by a chef at the “Palace Hotel Pizzomunno”, you will feel as if you are experiencing a meal in a little restaurant situated on a cobble stone street overlooking the Adria in Vieste (Foggia) Italy.
4 cups flour (all purpose, or half all purpose and half semolina flour)
4 medium eggs
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
Water (tepid) as required
Place the flour mixture on a pastry board and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs, olive oil, salt and a small amount of water (you can always add more water if the dough is too dry). Begin to stir the flour from the outside part of the well into the wet ingredients. Continue this process until the dough holds together in a ball. The dough should seem as if it is too dry continue kneading for at least 10-15 minutes, and allow it to stand covered with a clean kitchen towel at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
Roll out a cylinder about 1/2” wide and 10” long. Cut into 1/2” pieces. Taking one piece at a time, turn the piece of dough with the cut side up. Press your thumb down on the dough and pull it slightly toward you. Turn the piece of dough inside out to form a little cap. The edges will be a little thicker so that is looks like a rim.
1 lb. Cime di rape (mustard greens)
4 small tomatoes
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese
1 pepperoicnno (small dried hot pepper)
Salt to taste
Put the olive oil, chopped garlic, pepperoicnno and anchovies into a pan and cook for a few minutes. The anchovies will begin to break up and dissolve. Do not burn the garlic or the sauce will taste bitter. Add in the tomatoes that have been cut into cubes and deseeded.
Remove the leaves and flowerets from the mustard greens. The stems are fibrous and discarded. Cut the leaves roughly.
In a large pan of boiling salted water, put in the orecchiette and the rabe. Cook until the rabe and pasta are done. If the orrecchiette is fresh this will only take 3-5 minutes; if boxed follow the cooking direction on the box and put the rabe in for the last 5-6 minutes. Place the orecchiette and rabe into the sauce and grate the pecorino on the top.