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Old 02-16-2006, 08:38 PM   #1
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Italian Alps Feast 25 Feb 2006?

Just in time to celebrate the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino Italy, how about having a hearty Alpine dinner together for the Saturday just before the finale?

For those who are not familiar with the specialty from Alpine region of Italy, here are some excellent ideas.

-Polenta with just about anything (very much a staple in the area)
-Risotto of any type, especially Risotto alla Milanese
-Fondues / Fonduta
-(for desserts) Tiramisu Piemontese

You can get some more ideas from here, though Torino belongs to Piemonte, also check out Lombardia and Trentino, Italian Alps stretch into these regions and their specialties are sort of intermingled!! (select "your Italian region" on the left, then look above and click on local recipes)

And here is my hearty recommendation for the big day...

"Pizzoccheri"!!
A gorgeous rich treat perfect for a chilly day, something very unique and "alpine"!! Trying is believing!!



Ingredients:
200g/6,5oz of buckwheat flour
100g/3,5oz of regular flour + extra for dusting the board
water
pinch of salt
200g potatoes, peeled and diced
300g of spinach or cabbage, shredded. (also chopped broccoli or brussel sprouts are also delicious)
200g of mixed semi soft cheeses which melt well, fontina, taleggio, gouda, edam are great, finely diced or sliced
100g of grated parmigiano or grana padano
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
100g butter
dash of white pepper

-knead vigorously together the flours with a pinch of salt, adding just enough water. (you need to play around the amount of water, adding little by little for a right consistency) Keep on kneading well for at least 15 minutes until it attains a smooth somewhat elastic texture (but not as elastic as the egg based pasta).
-roll out the dough on a flat surface well dusted with flour, stretch it out with a rolling pin to about 3mm thickness (a bit thicker than regular fresh pasta) then cut into short strips about 1cm x 5-7cm (1/3 inch x 2-3 inch).
-Bring plenty of water to boil in a big pot, cook the potatoes, veg and pasta for about 7 minutes, skimming out the white residue that may float on the surface as needed.
-at the same time in a small skillet, cook the garlic in butter, taking care not to burn it.
-drain the pasta/veg well, then quickly toss them in a big bowl with the garlic/butter mixture, cheeses and dash of pepper until cheeses are melted and well blended in.
-serve it piping hot.

**Above pic was done just yesterday, we added some mushrooms and a bit of gorgonzola. The idea was a smashing hit!!

p.s. you may be able to find a ready made pasta dried and prepackaged (called pizzoccheri) in a specialty food store. This will save some work but it will take longer cooking time (10-12minutes), thus you may want to cook the vegetables separately.

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Old 02-16-2006, 10:36 PM   #2
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urmaniac, wanted to ask you about grissini. I have seen a handful of different recipes but thought I'd ask you if you have one you like or what it traditionally is made of. Thanks! I like this recipe http://www.lifeinitaly.com/venetian-...D=15&pageNum=1 can I throw in some cheese?

Also~ polenta, I like it when it is shaped and baked rather than creamy, how do I do this? double thanks to you! I think a while back you mentioned something about cubing and frying the polenta. I suppose I'm just looking for some good ideas.

Probably not italian alps but I've been wanting to make piccolina's stuffed mushrooms, so we'll be having that too.

And for dessert, chocolate giandua gelato! http://www.oregonlive.com/recipes/or...040.xml&coll=7
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Old 02-16-2006, 10:53 PM   #3
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Mom's in town this weekend and she'll insist on going out ...
Next weekend is our friends 30th birthday party and we'll go to dinner with her before the party...

Then next weekend maybe I can cook with you guys. When did life become so busy?
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Old 02-17-2006, 08:41 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corazon90
urmaniac, wanted to ask you about grissini. I have seen a handful of different recipes but thought I'd ask you if you have one you like or what it traditionally is made of. Thanks! I like this recipe http://www.lifeinitaly.com/venetian-...D=15&pageNum=1 can I throw in some cheese?

Also~ polenta, I like it when it is shaped and baked rather than creamy, how do I do this? double thanks to you! I think a while back you mentioned something about cubing and frying the polenta. I suppose I'm just looking for some good ideas.

Probably not italian alps but I've been wanting to make piccolina's stuffed mushrooms, so we'll be having that too.

And for dessert, chocolate giandua gelato! http://www.oregonlive.com/recipes/or...040.xml&coll=7
Hi Cora, yes, I forgot to mention grissini... they are also from the northern region of Italy!! Very good!!

Actually we have never got around to make them ourselves, though love to munch on them, I looked at your recipe, I am sure this will work, however I compared it to another from a very reliable source, the website from La Cucina Italiana, noted monthly magazine. This is a bit different, but simpler, and coming from them, I am sure this recipe can be counted on... here it is.

500g flour(slightly + than 1lb)
15g(about 1/2 oz) of fresh beer yeast
35-40ml (about 1,5 oz) evoo+extra for brushing
10g salt
5g sugar
275ml (about 10oz) of lukewarm water, about 22C°/72F°

Blend in the yeast and sugar into the lukewarm water, let it sit for about 15min.
Arrange the flour mixed with salt on a flat working surface, make a well in the middle.
Gently pour in the yeast mixture and evoo into the well
Mix the flour in gently to the liquid in the center, let everything incorporate well.
Then start kneading vigorously. (Imagining something or someone that made you very angry recently will help the cause..) Keep at it for about 15 minutes, until dough is completely smooth and stretchy.
Now form the dough into a long huge rope shape(about 10cm/4inch wide), brush on the surface with extra evoo, cover with a plastic wrap and let it rest for half an hour.
Slice the dough sideways into bunch of 10cm long fat strips, then stretch each pieces by rolling around evenly into at least double the length.
Lay down the grissini on a baking sheet, and bake at 240C°/450F° for about 15 minutes of until golden brown.

And of course, you could add some herbs (rosemary in particular, is excellent!) also some grated parmigiano!!


As for polenta, yes you remembered very well, frying it in butter is delicious, our favourite way of enjoying polenta!! It is quite simple, especially if you get a quick cooking (instant?) version of polenta it will cook in a few minutes, then spread it out on a large plate or flat board, press it down firmly to about 1,5 (half in.) thickness, and let it cool down completely. (Then if you cover it and chill in the fridge for a while it will be more manageable)
Then with a sharp knife slice it in bite size (something like a size of tater tots) and fry them in a hot butter!!

Well, of course they are the best served piping hot, so at this point the sauce should be ready... traditionally they are eaten with tomato based sauce with sausage. Another variation and my favourite is mushroom and red wine sauce!!

This is how I make the sauce, like many of my concoction I always just eyeball the amounts... let me know if this is too vague, I will try to pinpoint a little more precisely for you...
cut the mushrooms in rough chunks (regular white mushrooms, or portobello, or if you in a mood for a splurge, porcini would be even better!)
slice up some onions
Sautè onions in a skillet. When they are well softened and semi transparent, add the shrooms. Add a dash of black or white pepper.
When the shooms are cooked and onions are almost caramelised, pour in red wine, some vegetable bouillon granules and a piece of bayleaf.
let it simmer for about 20 minutes. a few minutes before it is ready, dissolve corn flour in a little water, stir into the sauce and let it thicken.

*when I just using the regular white mushrooms (champignons), I like to soak a crumbled dried porcini (probably shitake would work too), then add both the water and soaked pieces in with the wine. Gives a lot of flavour!!

Great choice for the dessert... Gianduia gelato, gnam!! If you can, top it with a toasted chopped hazelnuts and whipped cream for a kill... a dessert to die for
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Old 02-17-2006, 04:44 PM   #5
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I think I'm gonna go for this http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/reci..._29603,00.html
but I'm gonna use asparagus instead of spinach.

Along with grissini, piccolina's mushrooms and the gelato. I hope that's enough to eat.
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Old 02-18-2006, 05:09 PM   #6
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We love polenta and I'm going to do this one on the 25th. Polenta with 3 cheese, butter is one of the cheeses
2-c. water
1-c. polenta-stone ground
1-tea. salt
2-c. cold milk
1/2 fontina-chopped
1/4-c. parmesan grated
3-tab. unsalted butter
get water boiling in large pot. in small bowl whisk together polenta, salt and milk. pour the polenta mix into the boiling water, stirring til mix comes back to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook stirring, occasionally, about 30 min. or til thick and creamy. If polenta gets a little to thick, stir in a little water. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses and butter til melted. Serve immediately. I'm going to make some extra, so that I can spread some of the polenta in a cookie sheet and later the next day make some polenta sandwiches for us. I will also make a mushroom, wine, herb sauce to put over the cheesey polenta for those who like it more savory.I'm going to make a spicy carrot salad,some braised artichokes and before supper I'm just doing some mushroom caps filled wit mozz, prosciutto, and some tuna stuffed eggs and some roasted figs and proscuitto..I by chance have some Campari so I'm going to try my had at a Citrus and Campari Granita, and the girls are going to make some sort of tart. I also want to see if I can find some Proseco, I'm really wanting to have sip And after making all this I just might need another sip

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Old 02-18-2006, 05:17 PM   #7
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I am not at home this weekend... I don't know if I will ever have time to join you again
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Old 02-19-2006, 03:29 PM   #8
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I have no idea what polenta is or if I can find any. I don't know if I'll be able to join you this week either!! ARGGHHH!! I don't have a fondue pot either. Dang it.
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Old 02-19-2006, 04:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texasgirl
I have no idea what polenta is or if I can find any. I don't know if I'll be able to join you this week either!! ARGGHHH!! I don't have a fondue pot either. Dang it.
Texas, all polenta is is cornmeal..I buy Pheasant brand and make the easy recipe on the back you cook it in the oven, this eliminates the stir stir stir, I add butter and salt , then take it out of the oven and stir in the cheeses I want and serve with a red sauce or mushroomsauce or just plain...You can then also spread it on a cookie sheet and let cool, the cut into squares and fry, which can get nasty it spits at you or even grill it..I love it grilled, turn after grilling one side, top with gorgonzola cheese as the other sides grills and eat it like that with a salad.. and you could grill some Italian sausages to go along with it..nummers So, see what you can find then pm me or write here and I'll help you with anything else..Now as to the fonedue pot what did you want to make

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Old 02-19-2006, 04:47 PM   #10
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I will check it all out at the grocery store.
As for the fondue, I don't know really. The boys have never had any kind of fondue. I think I MAY have made some in home ech in high school, but not positive.
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Old 02-19-2006, 04:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texasgirl
I will check it all out at the grocery store.
As for the fondue, I don't know really. The boys have never had any kind of fondue. I think I MAY have made some in home ech in high school, but not positive.
Fondue is wonderful, you can do meats in oil, cheese, or dessert fondues. We all get the fondue urge around here and end up using my two pots and the girl each bring theirs and we just pig out on cheese and bread and chocolate, fruit and pound cake I bet your boys would laike them all if they are aything like my two If you need any help on the polenta let me know. I mean like a recipe idea for toppings.

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Old 02-19-2006, 05:11 PM   #12
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I have an old fondue cookbook, I'll take a look at that. The meat and oil doesn't interest me, but the cheese and the chocolate really do
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Old 02-19-2006, 05:31 PM   #13
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texasgirl, check out this website. They have recipes listed by regions in Italy. Look in the recipe search box and search by region. You can also search by ingredient.

Italian Recipes
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Old 02-20-2006, 10:11 AM   #14
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Here is another great idea for this weekend... RDG posted this recipe timelily, so I will repeat it here!!

Bagna Cauda
This is a Piemontese Dish, of which many versions exist. There are some more rustic, and other sweeter, but all of them have the real particularity that you can eat more and more, without feeling full. And it's not a joke.

Ingredients (serves four)
400 grams of extra-virgin olive oil;
200 grams of salted anchovies,
100 grams of garlic;
50 grams of butter;
500 ml. of milk.

Peel and slice the garlic, and soak it in milk for about three hours in an earthenware pot (make sure to use a flame breaker, or the pot may crack). Clean the anchovies, add the milk mixture, oil and butter. Simmer slowly for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot in individual pots. (usually, there is a particular pot service, with single little place for little flames, to mantain lighted under the pots).Bagna Cauda is eaten by dipping in it all sorts of raw or cooked vegetables, including peppers, onions, spring onions, cauliflower, beetroot and boiled potatoes.
Originally, Bagna Cauda was made with walnut oil, because olive oil is not produced in Piedmont. To evoke that taste and that tradition, you can add a few peeled and ground walnuts while La Bagna is cooking.
Eggs can be scrambled in the leftovers and it' s really perfect as dressing for grilled peppers. Buon appetito!

( a second version - the one i like better - use the same quantity of anchovies and garlic )
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Old 02-20-2006, 10:17 AM   #15
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Thanks Sierra and Urmaniac!! Except, anchovies Sorry
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Old 02-20-2006, 10:32 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texasgirl
Thanks Sierra and Urmaniac!! Except, anchovies Sorry
TG, this is just a thought, but like you I always shivered at the thought of anchovies. However, what is known as "anchovies" to non-italians is usually the "anchovy paste", and this is the stuff that I hated.
Recently Cris made me try the "FILLETED" anchovy, not the mushed up version, on a pizza. To my great surprise, they were actually quite pleasant!! It was completely a different story, both in flavour and texture. See if you can find this version of anchovy and try a little package... maybe you will be in for a same surprise!!
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Old 02-20-2006, 10:55 AM   #17
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Nope, I don't like any anchovies. LOL. Tried them on pizza once. Not for me. I'm weird. I don't like mushrooms either.
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Old 02-20-2006, 11:01 AM   #18
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okay, okay... I won't insist, otherwise you may start trying to coax snails into my mouth

Maybe you can ask RDG for a possible modification/substitution so you can do without anchovies? I know you are not the only one who can't stand them!!
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Old 02-22-2006, 04:02 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urmaniac13
okay, okay... I won't insist, otherwise you may start trying to coax snails into my mouth

Maybe you can ask RDG for a possible modification/substitution so you can do without anchovies? I know you are not the only one who can't stand them!!
Bagna Cauda without anchovies? Sorry: not possible. Bagna IS anchovies.
I've read you may have different types of anchovies. What they are? For me, except for a dish of fresh fish (fried anchovies, f.i., or anchovies "alla genovese" -raw with lemon and parsley-, or an anchovies cake) "anchovies" means the salted fisches, opened in fillets and washed in just a bit of milk. Exceptionally, you can find them already in fillets under oil. Are we speaking of the same thing? Please, I'm only asking: it's really possible that, in different countries, the same ingredient may have different taste.
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Old 02-24-2006, 05:45 PM   #20
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Okay, I'm out! I can't find anything around this town!!! And I don't have a fondue pot!!
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