Sunday, 2 September 2007

Maiale in Umido

This recipe for maiale in umido is a family classic. It's easy to make and delicious to eat. I would even advise you to make too much and freeze the spare meat to eat at a later date. This was my mother's standby. We all used to love it when she made it as it was so tasty.

Just one point for those who can't speak Italian, maiale is pork.

For two people you will need:

2 good size chops
1 glass of dry white wine
1 clove of garlic. I usually use smoked garlic as I find it sweeter than the ordinary stuff, but if you can't get it the usual will do.
1/2 stock cube.
1 teaspoon of finely chopped rosemary.
Par-boiled potatoes: as many as you feel that you can eat.

Fry the chops in a large pan that has a lid. You will need to put the lid on later.
When they are brown, add the chopped garlic and a few seconds later add the white wine and allow it to bubble up to cook off some of the alcohol.
Add the crumbled stock cube and if the dish is too dry then add a half glass of water. Cover and allow to cook until the chops are almost tender.
Add the par-cooked potatoes and stir around without breaking them up.
Sprinkle the rosemary over the top.
Put the lid back on and allow to cook gently until the potatoes and meat are tender and ready to eat.
Serve as seen in the photograph. You will see that there is very little sauce, but what there is is very intensely flavoured and delicious. Italian food does not tend to come swimming in sauces.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Crostata di Marmellata

In many parts of Emiglia Romagna you will see this little tart in most pastry shops. Translated it simply means ‘jam tart’. Don’t let that fool you because this is not a children’s tea time favourite but a tart that is suitable for all ages and it will disappear all too soon. It’s probably the brandy in the jam that makes all of the difference. You need to have the presence of mind to hide some in the cupboard so that you can savour some all for yourself when everyone has gone and you can sit down with a cuppa or a glass of sweet, sparkling, white wine. Bliss.

To make this tart you will need to start by making ‘pasta frolla’ or sweet pastry as it's known in Italy. Now, if I am honest there are as many versions of this as there are homes in Italy. Everyone will have their little twist on the recipe. Most of the recipes in books will tend to have a far higher ratio of sugar than I use here. They also have less butter. What I do is make a fairly rich buttery pastry, to which I add a teaspoon of lievito ( Italian baking powder ). I tend to use the Paneangeli make and unlike the manufacturer’s instructions, I add it to the flour rather than at the end which is what they tell you to do. I can’t see how it will mix in properly if you do that.

Ingredients for Pasta Frolla

200g plain flour. If you can get ‘00’ flour this is the best.
120g butter
90g sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk if you need extra moisture.
Grated rind of half a lemon

Start by creaming the butter, lemon rind and the sugar. When you have creamed the mixture for about 5 minutes, beat in the egg.
Mix in the flour and lievito until the mixture comes together and forms a soft dough. You are not going to roll this dough out so it does not have to be too firm.
Remove about 1/3rd of the dough and set aside. You will use this to make the top later. Press the remaining 2/3rds over the base of a 30cm buttered baking tin.

Now the Jam
You can buy the jam for making this tart in Italy. It is called prunellata and it usually has a picture of a crostata on the jar so that you know that you are buying the right thing. The thing that marks this jam out from all others is that it's sharp. I love it and so do most of my friends. It needs to be sharp to prevent the tart from being too sweet. If you can’t get this jam, I suggest that you buy a morello cherry jam. If you do, however, substitute the brandy with kirsch.
For a tart of this size you will need about 400g of jam. Add two tablespoons of brandy to the jam and mix well. Spread over the base of the tart, leaving about 1 cm of pastry uncovered.
Now roll out the remaining pastry into long sausages and, starting with the edges of the tart, create a lattice over the top of the tart as shown in the photo.
Cook in a medium oven until the tart is cooked and golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin and when cold, dust with icing sugar and cut into pieces and serve.