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ROCCOCO RECIPE

Published December 13, 2013 by Tony

ROCCOCO’

Neapolitan Roccocò

Another Neapolitan delight.
I’ve talked about Neapolitan Christmas’ desserts in the post “Neapolitan Sweets”, but I now want to say more about Roccoco, the most famous and typical sweet for us.

This sort of biscuit can’t lack in each Neapolitan home because is synonymous with Christmas, and marks the end of lunch during Christmas period.
A sweet that comes from patience and dedication of the Real convent of the Magdalene‘s sisters, which perhaps is due the first preparation of the Roccocò, whose oldest recipe seems to date back to 1320.
Their name probably is derived from the French word “rocaille“, due to their hardness and baroque round shape, like a rounded shell.
Their shape, color and flavor talk us of the past, because Roccocò are impenetrable sweets, hard, dry, prosperous and humble at the same time, but yet affectionate and flavorful in their donut shape.  A tradition by now!
These biscuits are more suitable for those who have solid teeth… unless you eat them some days later the preparation, or add some yeast and cook them for less time. Some prefer to soak them in wine or liquor.
Preparation that is pretty easy but needs some ingredients that might be difficult to find in your countries. Two of them are called “PISTO” and “VANILLINA”, products already prepared powder and sold in small sachets. The benefit to using a powdered product is that when you mix it directly into a batter or a cookie dough you get the straight flavor and, like vanilla extract, without it being diluted in the alcohol.

PISTOPISTO” is an important  ingredient that gives Roccocò their typical flavor. It is formed from a mixture of various spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, coriander (cilantro) and dill. If you can not find the Neapolitan “Pisto”, you can prepare something similar by whisking together 10 cloves, a nutmeg half chopped, and half a stick of cinnamon; or mixing 2 grams nutmeg, 3 grams of cinnamon and 2 grams of cloves. I’d also add a teaspoon of anise liqueur, if you have it available.

vanillinaVANILLINA” is vanillin or vanilla extract. It is a mixture of several hundred different compounds in addition to vanillin. Artificial vanilla flavoring is a solution of pure vanillin, usually of synthetic origin. Today, artificial vanillin is made either from guaiacol or from lignin, a constituent of wood, which is a byproduct of the pulp industry. It’s used in very small quantity, like 1 gram (0,3 ounces) for a 500-600 grams cake (16-18 ounces). Failing that, you could use the vials with essence of rum, lemon, vanilla, bitter almond, butter-vanilla. Essences that you can find in some supermarket or drugstore.

INGREDIENTS

500 grams of flour (type “00”)
500 grams of sugar
300 grams of roasted almonds (you can add hazelnuts too)
7 grams of “pisto”
4-5 grams of ammonia (for food use)
1 or 2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla powder (nearly 1 gram )
A pinch of salt
1 fresh orange peel
2 clementines or tangerines’ peels
1 fresh lemon (grated rind)
250-350 grams of warm water
1 whole egg beaten, for brushing over the surface of the Roccocò.

[In the case that you have almonds not roasted, place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and cook them at 180° C (fan oven) for 10 minutes exactly. Then set aside to cool them.]

PREPARATION

On a work surface pour the flour, sugar, pisto and salt. Add the fruits’ peels  chopped in very small pieces, the grated lemon’s peel (you could replace them with small pieces of candied fruit), the vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa, ammonia and salt. Add at little a time the lukewarm water mixing with your hands the compound. Amalgamate everything well until you get a homogeneous and rather compact mixture. Knead until the dough comes off from surface and hands, becoming dry and consistent: I recommend you do not add more water than necessary.


You should get a homogeneous and rather compact mixture.
Finally insert the almonds, distributing them evenly throughout the mixture, amalgamating it again if the case.
Preheat the oven to 180° C.

Meanwhile, roll up different parts of the compound to form long strips like snakes.  Cut each strip into several pieces about 15 cm long, and roll each to form a ring, no larger than 5-7 cm.

Flatten lightly them, to get small-sized donuts, and arrange them  -spaced apart – on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

Brush their surface with the beaten egg and bake at 180° C. for NO MORE than  18-20 minutes. The right time they become “dark gold”. Extract them from the oven after that time! (These cookies become harder as the cooking time increases!) Note that they appear soft when warm, but begin to harden (how they gotta be) as they cool.

Here’s for some video

ROCCOCO’S PREPARATION
ROCCOCO’S PREPARATION

STRUFFOLI

Published December 8, 2013 by Tony

RECIPE FOR STRUFFOLI

STRUFFOLI

INGREDIENTS FOR THE DOUGH

– 500 grams of flour
– 4 eggs
– 2 tablespoons of sugar
– 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
– 1 pinch of salt
– 2 tablespoons of liqueur (*)
– The peel of half an orange and  
half a lemon, grated
– 2 packets of vanilla
–  Oil for frying

INGREDIENTS FOR TOPPING

– 400 grams of honey
– 50 grams of sugar
– 2 tablespoons anise
– 200 grams of candied fruit (orange, lemon, some cherries)

(*) – We usually use the Alberti “Strega”liqueur.

dough1 – Put the flour and sugar to form a sort of volcano with a hole, in which you will beat a little bit the eggs. Add the oil, salt, sugar and all the spices/seasonings. With a spoon begin to mix the flour, then knead with your hands. The dough must be quite soft, but not too stretchy! (if it is too soft, you can add other flour, or a bit of water if it is too hard). Sprinkle the dough – shaped like a ball – with a little flour and leave it to rest,  covered with a towel, for an hour.
2 – Knead again the dough and cut it to obtain various narrow and long sausages not thicker of your little finger. Cut each piece into many sections no longer than 1.5 cm, thereby resulting in a large number of small cubes.

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3 – For frying use a large pan large and put enough oil for frying. Bring the oil to a temperature above 150° C and add the cubes of dough, as many as the pan allows. Fry until they become “golden” colored, and go forward until you have fried all the cubes, which you should put in a container to dry with paper towels. If you have a deep-fat fryer, even better.
a5_pasta4 – Meanwhile, prepare the garnish. Cut into small pieces the pieces of candied fruit, and if you want you can stay a few whole pieces for garnish at the end, as you also can add small colored sugared almonds or chocolate shavings. Put the “struffoli ” in the tray that will be used for the course.

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a6_pasta5 – Now you have to be very fast to prevent the honey will become solidified!
Put in a pot the honey, sugar and anise and sew over low heat until it becomes dark golden colored. Pour quickly it on the “struffoli ” while still warm, and mix to ensure that each piece is coated with honey. Quickly add the candied fruit and garnish, giving to the whole the shape of the tray or the one you want. Allow to cool.

FRESH PASTA RANA

Published June 29, 2013 by Tony

Tortellini in New York

A few months ago the Italian Rana family opened a pasta-restaurant in Manhattan by the name of  “LA MIA CASA” (my home).
140 wooden tables, marble shelves, a spectacular ceiling made ​​by hundreds of pots, graters, sieves and ladles of copper.
This eatery opened in Chelsea Market is a mixture of vintage Italian architecture and industrial-urban.
From long the group Rana is a well known brand in Italy for the production of fresh pasta. Here, there is not a supermarket that does not have packs of “tortellini” marked “Rana” in its counter-fridge. Over the years the products produced by the Rana family have diversified, and today we can find different types of “fresh pasta filled”, with mushrooms, spinach, ricotta cheese, artichokes.  In just four years the Italian company has opened 28 restaurants in Italy, 5 in Switzerland, one in Madrid, London and Luxemburg, through a franchising program.
The decision to open a restaurant in the heart of New York has the aim of promoting the fresh pasta to the Americans. And after investing € 2 million and having trained 100 employees, with the raw materials imported directly from Italy, in Manhattan the fresh pasta will be produced on-site, about 250 kilograms per day, to the delight of the Americans.

ITALIAN EASTER MEAL

Published March 31, 2013 by Tony

TRADITIONAL EASTER LUNCH

If you want to have an Easter lunch that reflects the Neapolitan or Italian tradition, you have to keep in mind that the main ingredients to be used in these days must be based on:

Fresh veggie, vegetables: preferably those that this season offers, such as artichokes, peas, cabbage, asparagus. [About artichokes, you can taste variety without thorns (as Romanesco variety), to eat boiled.]
Cold cuts: salami, capicolla, bacon.
Cheeses: ricotta, salt ricotta, provolone, caciotta.
Eggs: preferably boiled.
Meat: lamb, pork.
Pasta: fresh pasta, egg pasta, lasagne, cannelloni.
Pie: any rustic (salt) cake made with dough, eggs, salami, oil or lard.
Desserts: chocolate, any soft cake with candies fruits.

Here are some images to whet your imagination and appetite. Enjoy your meal!

  

       

 

 

 

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TOMATO IN SALAD

Published March 10, 2013 by Tony

A SIDE DISH

It may seem superfluous if not useless to give a recipe for a simple “tomato salad”, but I cannot know if overseas we prepare them the same way we usually do here.
The tomato salad recipe that I am going to show you is simple, but if you do not know it I guarantee you that this recipe will make you appreciate this vegetable as never before.
This salad is a good side dish and an accompaniment to many meat or fish dishes, as well as a tasty starter.
You can choose any type of tomatoes, even if the larger and pulpy ones are better. Generally two or three tomatoes are sufficient for 2-3 people. About oil, do not be stingy in the amount!

Ingredients

Tomatoes (Better Boy, Heirloom, Beefsteak, Brandywine, Plum, etc.)
Olive oil to taste
Less than half white Onion
Salt to taste
A few pinches of Oregano (this is a necessary ingredient)

Preparation

Wash the tomatoes and cut them into thin slices in a small container.
Add the onion in small slices
Add salt, oregano and then the oil.
Turn gently and serve.

A tip for you, soak a slice of bread in the juice and taste it …. yummy

Tomato in salad

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EGGS IN SOUP

Published February 19, 2013 by Tony

UOVA A ZUPPA
Ove ‘mbriatorio

A recipe from the past, that comes from poor families and that for its simplicity is still used nowadays. The main ingredient are eggs, which boiled together with onion and tomato acquire a different taste and give a second delicious dish, easy and quick to prepare. In Napoletano we call them “ove ‘a zuppa“, or “eggs in soup”, and gladly I come to suggest you the recipe.
This recipe is a variation of the famous Neapolitan recipè “ove’ mpriatorio“, it is to say “eggs in purgatory,” whose name is due to the cult, always heartfelt, of the memory of the (white) souls. So much that in some narrow streets, of the old part of the city, there are small shrines with sacred images representing these white souls surrounded by (red) flames, precisely as happens with the eggs.
Take into account that the amount of each ingredient is not rigidly predetermined, and so, depending on personal tastes and appetite, it is possible to vary the number of eggs, the amount of onions or tomatoes and water to be added. Usually, two eggs per person should be sufficient and, while varying the number of tomatoes makes the soup more or less red, varying the amount of water will make the dish more or less soupy. Thus, my ingredients are quite indicative.

Ingredients (for 2 people, considering 2 eggs per person):

A (white) onion (medium size)
150 – 200 gr  cherry tomatoes (or different tomatoes or canned tomatoes sauce)
olive oil (to taste)
4 eggs
water (1 full glass)
salt (to taste)
a pinch of pepper (to taste, or you can use pepper chili)
grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Preparation:

1 – Chop the onion and fry in the oil (3 full tablespoons or to taste).
2 – When it is golden, add the chopped tomatoes and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.
3 – Add the water and, if you are preparing this dish in the afternoon but you have to eat it in the evening, you can also turn off the heat and then resume cooking in the evening. Open the eggs and put them (whole) in the hot broth (the eggs shouldn’t break), add salt, black pepper and cook for 15 minutes (the yolk should become similar to a hard-boiled egg). Add the cheese at the end of the cooking.
4 – Serve hot and eat with bread or croutons to dip in the soup.
Yummy!

NEAPOLITAN MIGLIACCIO

Published February 14, 2013 by Tony

MIGLIACCIO CAKE RECIPE

migliaccio

The Italian word “migliaccio” derived from “miglio”, which is the flour obtained from millet, a minor cereal used in the past, then replaced by flour derived from the maize. Although this term refers to several cakes, depending on the region of Italy, in Naples it once was a modest pudding, by rural traditional, made just with millet flour. Today, it is a typical carnival sweet made with semolina flour (wheat middlings) and ricotta. This ancient cake, simple in its preparation, will capture your heart and your palate if you will embark on the preparation.
Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

• Water: 250 ml
• Milk: 750 ml
• Semolina: 250 g
• Ricotta (cottage cheese): 500 g
• Sugar: 400 g
• Eggs: 8
• Salt: a pinch
• Butter: 50g (for greasing the pan)
• cinnamon powder: 1 tablespoon
• Limoncello: a spoon (or a different aromatized liquor)
• Candied fruit: 100 g (elective)

Preparation

• Pour water and milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and slowly pour in the semolina. Stir constantly to prevent lumps, until the consistency is similar to polenta, then remove from heat and set the mixture aside.

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• In a bowl, beat the eggs and mix them with the sugar. Add the ricotta, candied fruit (optional), limoncello and cinnamon. Then add it to the semolina prepared previously. In order to mix better is advisable to use an electric mixer.

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• Pour the mixture into a buttered pan, large enough to make the cake not taller than 3-4 cm. (1:18 to 1:56 in.). Bake at 180 ° C – 200 ° C (356-392 ° F), until the cake surface is golden brown (40-45 minutes). The Migliaccio must be cooked at temperatures not too high (it must dry, mostly).

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You can dust with icing sugar before serving cut into slices.

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Migliaccio napoletano

The masterpiece of sweetness, softness and fragrance is served!

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