Monday, August 2, 2010

Southern Italy

Two weeks ago we made pretty impressive dishes celebrating the cuisine of Southern Italy. Some of those dishes included a couple of antipasti dishes; Peperonata (stewed peppers) and Caponata. A pasta dish of Orchietti Pasta with Artichokes (orcechietti con carciofi); Salad of Squid and Shrimp; Tuna Palermo Style; Focaccia (Sweet onion and roasted garlic); Braciole Calabresi (stuffed Pork Bundles) and Torta Caprese (Chocolate Almond Cake).

The two antipasti dishes (before pasta) were made to go with the yummy focaccia bread I made. Peperonata is basically stewed peppers, onion and garlic; along with tomatoes and basil. You cook the mixture until the skin begins to fall off of the peppers. The Caponata is a mixture of stewed eggplant, olives, tomatoes, celery, and red onion. Both antipasti dishes should be served at room temperature with bread; in this case Focaccia. The Focaccia is made by mixing active dry yeast treated in warm water, 3 3/4 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of water, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp yellow corn meal, 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/3 cup dry white wine. Mix all together in a straight dough method and proof in a warm moist place. Spread out the dough onto a well oiled sheet pan; carefully kneading it until the dough fills the pan resting for an hour to rise. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes; take out and spread with rosemary, onion or garlic (whatever please you) and place back in for another 5 - 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve with the anitpasti dishes...

The Braciole was pretty easy to make; start by flattening out slices of pork loin (cleaned of fat and silver skin). Make a mixture of parmesan or romano cheese, 1 egg, 2 tbsp of chopped parsley and 2 cloves of minced garlic. The mixture should be a paste and easily spreadable; if it is too wet sprinkle some breadcrumbs in to thicken the mixture. Next make sure you moisten the pork with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread a small amount of the cheese mixture on the middle of the pork. Roll the pork into bundles; tucking the sides in as you roll. Close with toothpicks and place in prepared tomato sauce (recipe can be found in earlier entries of blog) you can add a little red wine and some brown stock to the sauce as well. Make sure you do not boil the sauce or the meat will seize and stiffen up...

The Torta Caprese was wonderful and very of the best deserts I've had including baking class. The Tuna Palermo style was good but I am not a big fan of the sardines...Mike however did a killer job with grilling the Tuna. Maria made a very good orechietti pasta with fresh artichokes and pancetta. Overall the week was excellent and brought back remembrance of my late great grandparents and their cooking.

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