Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Torta di Patate

My grand daughter is eight months old and I have suddenly realised that I am a Nonna. This has given me something of a shock. I can't really be that old can I? I certainly don't think that I look ancient like my own Nonna. No black headscarf for a start. However, being a nonna has now given me the opportunity to write up the recipes that I have acquired over a life time. Now I don't need to ask Nonna, everyone can ask me.

My recipes will be mainly Italian as every good Nonnas will be but they will have a sprinkling of Welsh as I live in Wales and a dash of anything else that I have liked.

For my first recipe will go to the region that my parents come from in Italy, Parma and more locally Bardi. If there are any other Bardigani out there reading this then you will recognise this local speciality, as it's TORTA di PATATE. No Italian picnic is complete without a torta and in my region they even have feste to this torta.

To make a fairly large torta, about 45cm x 30cm, there's no point in making a small one, you will need:

2kg of floury potatoes. My mother used King Edwards but Maris Piper are good too. Don't bother with new potatoes as they tend to be gluey and not good.
2 leeks, white and green cleaned and chopped fairly small
a piece of lardo to fry the leeks. Failing this and in a British kitchen that is fairly likely use some Fatty bacon chopped. Do not use smoked bacon the flavour is wrong in this dish.
1 packet of cream cheese.
A handful of freshly grated Parmesan.

1 or 2 eggs depending on how dry the potatoes are

Some cream remember that this is an Italian recipe so the quantity that I will give is: as much as you need.

For the pastry

250gm plain flour

75gm butter

water salt.

Make the pastry by rubbing the butter into the flour and add enough tepid water to make a softish dough. Roll out to line and overlap a shallow tin.

Steam the potatoes because if you boil them they will be wet and in some cases disintegrate. mash them and put aside.

While the potatoes are boiling you can fry the bacon or lardo if you are lucky enough to get it and then add the leeks and continue to fry until the leeks are soft. No need to colour the leeks.

Add to the mashed potatoes with the rest of the filling ingredients. mix well.

pile into the lined pastry dish and level out. Flip the overlap pastry over the torta and pat down

Cover the torta with an egg wash or if you are feeling mean then use milk.

score the top with the back of a fork to make a criss-cross pattern.

Cook in a fairly hot oven until it is well cooked underneath. Cover the top to prevent burning if necessary. In Italy it would have been cooked in a bread oven after the bread had been cooked and the oven had cooled.

Hope that you like this.