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Nonna Giulia’s pizza recipe recipe

Nonna Giulia’s pizza recipe recipe


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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Main course
  • Pizza
  • Pizza dough

Here’s our easy to follow recipe for a simple margherita passed down from Nonna Giulia in Cosenza, southern Italy to her 13 year old granddaughter Chloe (our daughter) who has become an expert pizza maker – she also took the pics to accompany the recipe when she made these pizzas at the weekend!


Essex, England, UK

2 people made this

IngredientsMakes: 4 pizzas

  • For the dough
  • 1 (7g) sachet quick action dried yeast
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 250ml warm water
  • 500g strong white ‘00’ flour ( e.g. Caputo)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • For the traditional margherita topping
  • 400g tin San Marzano plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 200g mozzarella cheese
  • For the anchovy topping (to go on top of the tomato base)
  • 1 small jar (80g) anchovy fillets
  • 1 handful black olives
  • 1 handful capers in olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 small clove garlic, chopped into small pieces

MethodPrep:40min ›Cook:20min ›Extra time:1hr30min proofing › Ready in:2hr30min

    For the dough:

  1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 250ml of warm water and leave it for 5 minutes. Mix the flour and the salt together in a large bowl. Using a fork, mix the water, yeast and sugar into the flour until it starts to form a dough.
  2. Add the oil and mix with your hands to form a smooth dough.
  3. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic. If the dough is dry add some more water and if it’s too wet add a little flour.
  4. Place the dough into a large bowl and cover it with a clean, damp tea towel/cloth. Leave it in a warm place for at least 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 250 C / Gas 10. Grease four round pizza baking trays.
  6. For the traditional margherita topping:

  7. Empty the tomatoes into a bowl and gently crush the larger tomatoes with your hand. Add the oil, oregano, salt and pepper.
  8. Divide the risen dough into four equal balls and cover them with a tea towel. Take one of the dough balls and on a floured surface, roll it out into a circle to fit the baking tray. The dough should be the thickness of cardboard. Press the dough into the baking tray. Roll out the rest of the dough balls in the same way.
  9. Next cover the pizzas with the tomato mix. Make sure that the mixture is covering the whole of the dough. If you are making the marinara type pizza you can also add the rest of the topping now (olives, capers etc) and leave to cook for 10 minutes.
  10. For the margherita cook the pizza with just the tomato topping first for 6 to 7 minutes.You will then need to remove it from the oven and add the sliced mozzarella to the pizza. Drizzle some oil on top and if you like some basil leaves. Cook for a further 5 to 6 minutes until the base is nice and crispy. Buon appetito!

See it on my blog

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Shipton Mill Ltd
Long Newnton, Tetbury
Gloucestershire GL8 8RP
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© 2021 Shipton Mill Ltd 2013


Food Lover's Odyssey

Mamma Giulia is in charge of all kitchen goings-on at Masseria Provenzani.  She starts early each morning preparing breakfast for the masseria's guests.  Guests wake to scents of bread, brioche and sometimes a crostata, or two.  The communal breakfast table is full of  Mamma Giulia's baked goods and homemade jams.  And the beverages add to the intoxicating aromas wafting through the air there's espresso, cappucino or hot chocolate to wash down the delicious breads.

We met up with Mamma Giulia as she was clearing the breakfast table, just in time to taste some of the leftovers – a creamy ricotta crostata and a cherry one.  Small in stature with a soft voice to match, she serves Pugliese homecooking from the masseria's rustic kitchen.  She gathered us around the marble island in the center of the kitchen.  We were surrounded by pans, utensils and peperoncini hanging from three walls.  The fourth wall consisted of ceiling-to-floor glass windows that looked out onto the masseria's lush gardens.  Breads of Salento and orecchiette pasta were on the menu for our day's cooking lesson.


Making Salentine Breads

Mamma Giulia speaks only Italian, but she spoke slowly and carefully demonstrated each step. This made her easy to understand, even for the non-Italian speaker.  Missteps on our part were treated with clicks of her tongue and gentle corrections. She would come next to us and correct us by quietly showing the correct way to do it. We combined flour, yeast, water and salt to make bread dough.  She had quantities for flour, yeast and salt, but insisted that there was no exact measurement for the water. "The amount of water needed depends on the temperature, humidity and the flour itself.  You know how much water you need by the feel of the dough." She told us.

From the dough, we made three types of bread.  Focaccia Salentina is Salento's version of a calzone.  Thin layers of focaccia bread sandwich a filling.  While the dough was rising, we sauteed onions and tomatoes for our filling, but Mamma Giulia pointed out that we could fill the focaccia with anything we'd like.  Rollng the dough out fairly thinly, we placed it in a round pan, added the filling and folded over the other half of the dough to cover.

We also made puccie (plural for puccia). Puccie are round bread rolls that come in two sizes rounds that are about six inches in diameter or small golfball-sized rounds.  Whole unpitted olives are kneaded into the dough, and usually so are tomatoes, giving the bread its classical orange hue.  Lastly, we made a traditional Salentine focaccia topped with tomatoes and oregano. 

 



Focaccia Salentina stuffed with onions & tomatoes and traditional focaccia with tomatoes & oregano


Le Puccie – Ready for the oven

Making Orecchiette

Orecchiette (meaning little ears) is the quintessential pasta of Puglia.  I think it's a requirement of all Pugliese mamme to master the art of making orecchiette by hand because every Pugliese mamma who I've met makes these, and makes it look easy.  Flipping the curled pasta over your thumb to create the little ears is no easy task.  Mamma Giulia rolled the dough out into a long snake-like strip.  With what seemed like one continuous motion, she cut a piece from the dough, rolled a knife over the dough, and turned the curled piece of dough over her thumb to form the orecchiette.  One after the other, she quickly turned out at least 10 little ears to my one, but we eventually had enough for our lunch.

Mamma Giulia made a simple tomato sauce to dress the orecchiette.  She slowly heated garlic in olive oil, Neapolitan style, then added the tomatoes.  The orecchiette held the tomatoe sauce nicely, holding little puddles of sauce inside the cupped part of the "little ears."

Our "small" afternoon meal included an antipasti of the various cheeses we had picked up earlier at Masseria CinqueSanti, and the food we had made with Mamma Giulia the orecchiette with a garlic tomato sauce and our three types of bread. For dessert, we had a few more pieces of the crostata left from earlier that morning.  Mamma Giulia's recipe for the orecchiette and the sauce is below.



Mamma Giulia's Handmade Orecchiette with Garlic Tomato Sauce
 
Serves 4

1 pound (450 grams) semolina flour
About ½ cup tepid water *

*Mamma Giulia would not give an exact measurement on the water, but this is a good starting point

6 to 8 cloves garlic with skins left on
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Two 28 ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes
Salt, to taste

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for the garnish

With the flour, make a well.  Add half of the water to the center of the well, and slowly mix the flour into the center of the well with your hands.  Add more water as necessary until the dough comes together.  It should not be sticky but moist and soft.  Knead for a few minutes until all the flour and water combine to make a smooth dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

To make the orecchiette, roll the dough out into a long snake-like strip about 1/4 inch in diameter.  Cut a strip about 1/2 inches long.  With a butter knife (one that has teeth, but dull teeth), roll the tooth side of the knife down and over the cut strip of pasta.  This will form a rolled piece of dough, also known as cavatelli.  Turn the curved piece of dough over your thumb to form the little ear.  Set aside and repeat until you've used all the dough.

To make the sauce: On low heat, slowly heat the garlic and olive oil in a sauce pot.  Once the garlic is toasted, a golden color, add the tomatoes and salt.  Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower to a simmer.  Cook for about 20 minutes, until the sauce is a consistency you want.  Taste and adjust for seasoning. You can remove the garlic cloves, which will have remained whole, from the sauce before serving.

Cook the orecchiette in well salted boiling water until the pasta is al dente.  Dress with the tomato sauce and top with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Buon Appetito!


****Cook and eat with me in Puglia! The Food Lover's Culinary Tour in Puglia – We'll be cooking with Italian mammas like Giulia, making orecchiette, other Pugliese pasta and much more!****

This post is part of Wanderfood Wednesdays  – Travelers and food lovers share their culinary travels from around the world.

Related Posts:

The Art of Making Pasta by Hand: A Pugliese Pasta Lesson with Nonna Vata

Cheese in Puglia – Making and Eating Fresh Cheese in Salento

The Pastries of Lecce with Pastry Chef Luca Capilungo

Wedding in Puglia

Traditional Salentine Dishes at Locanda Rivoli in Lecce

Lecce: The Baroque Beauty of Puglia

Pugliese Pasta Dish: Sagne Ncannulate con Sugo Schiattariciati

Classic Salentino Cuisine Reinvented at Sette di Sette in Lecce

Tour of Masseria L'Astore and its Frantoio Ipogeo in Salento

Lunch Salento Style at Cantine Menhir

Shopping and Eating Local in Italy – Farmers' Market in Lecce

Sagne Ncannulate Schiattariciati – Pugliese Pasta with Schiattariciati Tomato Sauce

The Dish from Lecce: Rustico Leccese

The Dish from Puglia: Ricci di Mare (sea urchins) from Porto Badisco

This Dish from Puglia: Friselle

Christmas Around Italy – Christmas Desserts in Salento

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Nonna Giulia’s pizza recipe recipe - Recipes

After growing up in Rome and armed with a communications degree, Giulia Mulè, moved to London in 2006 where she took up a role in advertising and continued to feed her interests in photography, writing and cooking on her blog, Mondomulia. Giulia’s recipe for a Cocoa Hazelnut Cake with Strawberry Whipped Cream was featured in Issue 04 of Countlan magazine. Below, we find out more about Giulia’s cake, her blog and tips when visiting London.

INTERVIEW: Giulia Mulè // Mondomulia blog // London, UK

01 Why did you start blogging?
Mondomulia is a food, photography and travel blog. I post reviews and photos of restaurant & cafés in London and abroad, I prepare and photograph recipes (mostly baking) and share photos of my travels. I’ve always had a passion for photography, but in the past few years I grew an interest towards food and I decided to develop this passion by posting photos regularly on a blog. I wanted to create a personal space where I could share my eating and cooking experiences. I love working on my blog, as it allows me to practice my photography, my writing and cooking skills.

02 Why did you choose the Cocoa Hazelnut Cake with Strawberry Whipped Cream as a summer recipe?
When I think of summer, I remember how my mum would prepare bowls of fresh strawberries covered with whipped cream. So I wanted to use these ingredients for a cake and recreate those flavours. I recently traveled to Copenhagen where I tasted a hazelnut cupcake with strawberry mousse That’s where the idea came from.

03 Do you have any entertaining traditions in your family?
During the summer my mum makes a lot of jam using the fruit from the trees in our garden or from the fruit trees of friends. My dad is in charge of washing and cleaning the fruit while my mum does the cooking. There is always so much fruit, the whole preparation goes on for days. The same division of work is followed for the preparation of Limoncello, a lemon liquor typical of Italy. In case you were wondering, I just do the eating and drinking!

04 If someone were to visit London, where would you recommend dining?
I have a passion for independent coffee shops and my favourite is Workshop Coffee in Clerkenwell, which is also an area full of amazing restaurants. Because my husband comes from Mumbai, we rely on Roti Chai in Marylebone to eat Indian street food. And whenever I want to eat a good pizza, I go to Franco Manca in Brixton, where they use slow-rising sourdough, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes from Italy.

05 Who are your food “idols”?
I don’t watch cookery shows, so none of the celebrity chefs inspire my cooking. For me food is a family affair and cooking is an art passed down through generations. My mum and my grandma are my food “idols” and everything I know, I owe it to them. I often call my mum to ask for a recipe or questions about something I am cooking.

06 If you could invite three people to dinner, who would they be and why?
I would try to invite a mix of people with different expertise in order to keep the conversation interesting: Italian singer Jovanotti, to chat about his music and travels, and because he would enjoy my Italian food British actor and rapper Riz Ahmed, to talk about movies and for a freestyle rap session with Jovanotti my grandma, Nonna Etta, because she is the most amazing and inspiring person in the world and she would entertain the other guests, while I am busy preparing the dinner.

Recipe: COCOA HAZELNUT CAKE WITH STRAWBERRY WHIPPED CREAM

Strawberries are synonymous with summer as they are the first fruits to ripen around May/June, kick-starting the season. They are best eaten out of hand, or simply mixed with sugar and fresh orange juice in a fruit salad. They also make great additions to ice-creams and cakes.

For the sponge cake:
180g unsalted butter, softened
130g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
60g hazelnut butter
180g plain flour
60g unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
100g hazelnuts
50g walnuts

For the cream:
140g double cream
50g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g strawberries

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 160 ºC. Butter and flour a 20 cm round cake tin.
Chop the walnuts and hazelnuts coarsely in a food processor. Combine the butter, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time

Add the hazelnut paste and mix until incorporated and without lumps. In a medium bowl, sift the flour and cocoa powder, then add the baking powder and salt. Gradually add the dry mixture into the cake mix. Fold in the chopped nuts. Pour the batter into the cake tin. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Let the cake cool 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and let cool completely on a wire rack. Clean the strawberries and whizz them to a purée (sweeten with a teaspoon of honey if needed).

Whip the double cream with an electric mixer until almost stiff. Add sugar and vanilla extract beat until the cream holds peaks. Fold in the strawberry purée. Place the cream in the fridge for 10 minutes. When the cake has cooled down completed, spread the whipped cream over top. Decorate with fresh berries.


Global Feast Table

The common, everyday Frittata, is a critical dish to master if you’d like to eat in the Italian tradition – especially the Potato, Red Pepper, and Onion Frittata (Frittata di Patate, Peperone e Cipolla). The dish will allow you to make a delicous lunch or dinner at any point during the week and it’s incredibly versatile and able to be made from leftovers (flaky fish, baked broccoli, and even pasta) and staple pantry items like onion, potato, parsley, and grated cheese. Italians consume frittata (in every region), at the least, 1x per week.

Our version of frittata always includes grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, the best eggs we can find, extra virgin olive oil, freshly chopped parsley, onion, and lots of Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Our latest frittata included the following additional ingredients: a thinly sliced yam and red pepper.

  • 4-5 large fresh eggs (if you’re lucky enough to live near a farm where the owner keep the chickens outdoors for some part of the day consider yourself lucky and buy his or her eggs religously if you’re buying from a large market aim for the following in logical order: cage free, organic feed, proximity of farm producing eggs to your location )
  • ½ red pepper, sliced into think 1-2 inch strips
  • ½ yam (sliced into very thin pieces)
  • ½ onion, sliced into 1-2 inch strips
  • ½ cup of grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch of Italian parsley, fined chopped

Beat 4-5 eggs in a large bowl and add plenty of Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano (beat again and mix well). In a large fry pan, add some extra virgin olive oil and add potato. Cook for 5-10 minutes adding a bit of salt prior to beginning the cooking process. Next, add the onion and red pepper to the same fry pan. Mix well, add a bit more Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Add the egg mixture to the fry pan making sure that the ingredients are well spread in the fry pan (this will ensure that the end product has a bit of each ingredient in every slide). Cook on medium heat for 5 meats and thereafter place in the broiler (on high). Glue yourself to the oven and watch the pan as soon as the top is fully cooked and developed a nice brown crust remove it from the oven. Remove the frittata by placing a large plate on top of the frittata and quickly turning the pan and plate over at the same time. Finish the frittata with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and the chopped parsley.


Which supermarkets deliver in South Lambeth?

Supermarket delivery service South Lambeth: do you already make use of it? A shopping cart full of products like Natracare Organic Ultra Thin Cotton Pantyliners, Finish Dish Protector Fights Corrosion and also Riso Gallo Carnaroli Maturato and still often the advertised products from PJ Mask is sometimes very heavy: on average 10,5 kg. Discover the convenience of the online store. Discover the online supermarket South Lambeth right now. It will handed over in the kitchen. Select your own time. Friday right on time at 10:15, a thursday afternoon 16:00 or wednesday around night at 17:15, at the address that suits you. Check the latest information about Supermarket Delivery Leicester

Online food shopping in South Lambeth
Maybe you are familiar with online shops as Debenhams www.debenhams.com? It is just as easy: ordering your food online. Enter your information, start searching food-items like Waitrose 1 Spanish Stuffed Green Olives and Playmobil My 123 Take Along Ship 18mnths. Or search for products within the shelf Goat & Sheep Cheese or filter products by the brand McCain. Throw the items you need in your cart. Herefter, you opt for a timeslot. You can easily make use of pay after delivery, you can pay with ATM card. Did you know, many online supermarkets also offer click and collect? Discover the convenience of online grocery shopping and explore for example the Sainsbury’s supermarket delivery in South Lambeth.

Online grocery shopping at the bakery and butcher
There are a considerable amount of bakeries in South Lambeth with an online store and delivery service. A comprehensive range Green onion pancake, or buy at the online butcher products like Topside Steak. At the greengrocer you buy Kale, and also Lime or Huckleberry at the supermarket delivery service South Lambeth. This has the great advantage: maximum freshness of groceries. Through a liquor store you can order alcohol as Tsingtao Beer and obviously a popular wine such as Sol De Mendoza Argentina Malbec. Test the delivery of supers now. Choose Maine Raspberryade for hot summer days. Everything can be ordered from the online supermarket. he delivery service is available throughout the day. This may be at 11:50 o’clock early in the morning 16:10 o’clock before dinner, or after dinner at 19:10 o’clock via food delivery South Lambeth. The bakery service, or ordering online juicy meat saves you a lot of time. Test it today: the delivery service of Lidl, Aldi, Iceland, Amazon Pantry, Morrisons, Ocado, Waitrose, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco. And also think of delivery by Morrisons, Tesco and SuperValu. Is it party time? Directly order a portion Fairy bread or a bin with Eazypop Microwave Popcorn Butter 100g with a discount online. Therafter, you will need some decent cleaning products. Order very easy a Carpet Detergent offer online.


Which supermarkets deliver in Grantham?

Home supermarket delivery service Grantham: a growing number of stores makes this possible. Such a bag full of products such as Culinary Concepts Leather Handled Champagne Bath Silver, Pieminister Matador Beef Steak Chorizo Butter Bean Olive Pie or Star Wars Yoda Stacking Meal Set and now and then the top discounts from St. Dalfour may weigh about 11,1 kg. Why make things difficult? Take advantage of the online supermarket Grantham now. Everything is dropped in the kitchen. Did you know you can set your own address and time slot? Saturday right on time at 08:30, saturday around noon at 14:15 or thursday in the evening at 21:30, at the address that suits you. Check all information about Supermarket Delivery Bedford


Nonna Giulia’s pizza recipe recipe - Recipes

Happy St. Joseph’s Day! And to my dad, Happy Italian Father’s Day!

Perhaps you’re confused. That’s OK. You can read all about the Festa di San Giuseppe in last year’s post: Fava Beans and Cream Puffs. There you’ll also find a photo of my great-great-grandfather a.k.a. the reason I ended up in my charming village.

Auguri Papù and to all Josephs, Giuseppes, and dads out there!
Also to Giuseppinas, Josephines, and any others celebrating!

Also, if some of you happen to remember St. Joseph’s Day altars from childhood but are missing them right about now, check out this Virtual St. Joseph’s Day Altar. If you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, read about this tradition.

Now . . . it’s time for zeppole.

Or as we say around here, zippoli.

As I noted in last year’s post, this word means many different things depending on where in Italy you are. This is a common phenomenon, and in fact, just last night I read a similar sentiment in Laura Schenone’s The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and Family:

Prescinsêua cheese may mean one thing in the city, but to some contadini in the country it may mean something completely different.”

So, in that vein, some of you know zeppole as cream puffs, but there ain’t no cream in the Calabrian version. In fact, there are anchovies.

How’s that for una sorpresa if you’re expecting cream?

I have a very vague memory of my grandmother [perhaps] making these with anchovies when I was small, but the ones I remember best were simply coated in sugar while they were still hot.

Ah . . . zeppole memories . . .

Waiting patiently at my grandmother’s hip (seriously I was that high, or low I should say as she was under 5 feet tall) for these to cool down ever so slightly to dig in. She never got even near a platter-full before one batch was already gone. They’re that good.

Unfortunately for my recipe repertoire though, my grandmother didn’t make her own dough in her later years when kneading wasn’t possible she always bought fresh dough from the *best* local pizzeria and bakery.

Indeed, she’d pick up the dough early Friday morning (during Lent especially), make pizzas throughout the day and then fry these babies up just as we were finishing up on the pizza. I cannot tell you how much I miss walking into that house on Friday afternoons after school.

So I went to a few sources for a recipe:

(1) P’s mom (2) my friend Alida from nearby Isca sull’Ionio who I met in Philadelphia (she brought homemade biscotti to our first in-person meeting!) and (3) my dear friend Mary Amabile Palmer’s cookbook Cucina di Calabria: Treasured Recipes and Family Traditions from Southern Italy.

Between these wonderful women (grazie mille!), I am tasting exactly what I remember swiping off paper towels as a child. And now you can enjoy them too.

Zeppole con Alici o Semplice
(I Zippoli Calabrese)
Fried Dough with Anchovies or Plain

  • 1 package active dry yeast or 10 g of fresh yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 3 cups all-purpose or 󈫰” flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Splash of white wine
  • 1 small jar or can of anchovies
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • confectioner’s or regular sugar for dusting (if making plain version)

1. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water.

2. Put salt and flour in a mound on your working space, a wooden board if possible, although I use something like this like my grandmother used.

3. Make a well in the center and gradually add the dissolved yeast, remaining water, and wine pulling flour into the liquid as you go.

4. Knead for between 5 and 10 minutes until the dough is smooth, elastic, and “bella morbida” as my suocera kept saying–quite soft. If you’re used to making pizza, you may have recognized these ingredients just make sure the dough here is softer than for pizza.

5. Put dough ball in oiled bowl, cover it with a towel, and put in a dry, warm place to rise for about 2 hours.

6. After the dough has doubled in size, take it out, and knead it for another few minutes. Then put it back in the bowl and allow it to rise again for another couple hours. This will make for fluffier zeppole, but if you don’t have time, just let it rise once. They’ll still be good.

7. In the meantime, if you’re using anchovies, prepare them by removing them from their container and draining oil. Cut them in two pieces so that they will fit into a pocket of dough that will end up being about the size of the palm of your hand once folded over.

8. Heat oil over medium heat.

9. Pull off small chunks of dough about golf-ball size, flatten, and stretch into a rectangle. Place anchovy or two inside and fold over, sealing edges well. If you’re making the plain version, simply stretch to dough to the size of the palm of your hand.

10. Fry in hot oil for 3 to 4 minutes, turning zeppole so they are lightly brown all sides.

11. Remove from oil with slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain.

12. If you are making them without anchovies, dust them with sugar while they’re still hot–and if you’re like me and actually like the anchovy-filled ones with sugar as well (ssh–they think I’m very weird here for this), go right ahead!

Note you can also fill these with lots of other things. Raisins, for example, are delicious inside and then I recommend dusting with confectioner’s sugar.


Martedì 22 giugno 2010

I'm back in high school..

Trastevere, Rome
June 22, 2010.

I try to play nice with the kids at school and I promise I am trying to rise above the petty antics, jelousies, games and sly manipulative behaviour of some of the kids in my class. But it's so difficult to concentrate on learning when the classroom pongs of poison even as the ovens wage a counter surgency by releasing the sweet perfume of baked apple tarts.

The boys are engaged in a game of one upmanship and in urgent pursuit of as much attention as they can get from the teacher. They slap each other on the back then take out their knives and stab at they very place they were slapping.

Us girls (only 4 in our class) have become divided into gangs. There's the old girls' gang, comprised of me and my mate Marta, and the young girls' gang comprised of an attention seeking but troubled girl/woman with an eating disorder who from day 1 has been intent on ruling the school, positioning herself as the winning protaganist and trumping us all by licking as much arse as possible yet barely letting that same tongue sample the flavours of the food she cooks. Her 18 year old lapdog has clearly been brainwashed by this pathetic figure and is waging a war against Marta and I on her behalf by not talking to us, shouting at Marta and refusing to even answer my greetings of "Ciao" in the mornings and at the end of the day. She used to be constantly by my side (I didn't get that), fawning all over me, but about a week or so ago, decided to swap sides, I think because she hates Marta and I don't so I am an enemy by association --- GO FIGURE! But that's what we are dealing with here.

Marta, nearly 50 years old, is straight talking but agressive - and admits it. She has the most EXTRAORDINARY knowledge of food, wine and culinary history so even challenges the chefs. She's a hard arse -- but she's the real deal -- a genuine foodie who can take fresh pasta between her fingers and know if it's been made well and can taste cheese and tell you how long it has been matured for. She's also on crutches after a serious car accident some years ago so it's a miracle that she's even walking. Yet Marta limps around the kitchen all day and is among the last to leave every evening after scrubbing the kicthen down with the rest of us few who meet our committment to clean up. I admire her and I learn as much from her as I do from the teaching chefs.

Marta and sly protaganist princess are engaged in an outright war which has been ongoing from pretty much the beginning because Marta is a straight shooter and can't be an audience to the manipulative waltz being waged by the Princess. I can't disagree with anything Marta says about our princess because she's everything that gets up my nose too, only I don't take her on unless she targets me directly and then I swipe calmly which sees her desperately apologising and packaging doggie bags for me to take home to Matilda. While I pity her, I also feel at times like dumping a sack of flour over her skinny frame.

She and her lapdog are apparently leading our group at the moment in the pointscore Cooking HQ is keeping on us. It kinda makes me wonder how this can be so? One doesn't eat so has no idea of what tastes good or bad and the other burns almost everything she puts in a pan. But, like so many theatres in the world, those with the brownest tongues seem to find success on the stage even though some of their under-studies are more worthy - like Marta.

Oh Diary -- give me strength! I didn't always like high school the first time around and at 38 years old, I not only don't like it -- I so don't need it.

I remember a certain lunch time when I was 14 at my high school for girl's in Sydney, a so called "Ladies College". I sat there listening to all the bitching and pettiness and all general crap that goes on between teenage girls and before I knew it I was on my feet saying, "You know. I have had enough. Why don't you all grow up and while you're at it, go to hell!" I walked away and as I did so, realised I had nowhere to go and nowhere to sit as I had just burned most of my friends.

In the last few days, I have come close to repeating the words of that fed up 14 year old, "You know. I have had enough. Why don't you all grow up and while you're at it, go to hell!"

Right at the beginning I realised in entering the kitchen I was entering a laboratory for life - A place that reveals and reflects everything and everybody in it.

After more than 2 months, I am pleased to see clearly who I am and what I want from this little classroom of life.

I choose to smell the apple tart, with the cinnamon and raw sugar crackling on its golden crust.


Mangia e Scappa Italian Foods Ltd.

I was invited as the plus one to David aka “Picky Diner”, judge for this year’s @Vanfoodster pizza challenge. A competition between several restaurants to see whose unique pizza creation runs supreme, a contest that runs every two years.

As a disclaimer, when it comes to anything media related: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

Our destination was Langley, which is a long way to drive, especially for those of us living in the Burnaby and Vancouver area. But in hindsight well worth it for a dining experience this immersive.

Your experience begins as soon as you exit your car. The whimsy of their Italian melodies welcomes you in with string instruments and opera vocals. It spoke of the charm and authenticity of the restaurant to come. A feeling of history derived from red brick and mortar arch ways, black and white photographs, and chianti bottle candle holders with candles on display and for sale.

The coffee/drink bar was especially notable, accented with its own unique ceiling tiles. Copper flowers and plenty of detailed carving. And under it, bottles of vintage red and white, stainless steel machinery, and showcases of their homemade desserts for dine in as well as those packaged for takeout.

We were seated at the secluded chef’s table in the corner. It was dim and cloistered away from the rest of the restaurant. We were dining in the dark and it therefore it wasn’t my ideal seating arrangement (I love to see my food as I consume it, plus better lighting is better for photographs.) However with the amount of photos we were taking and the need to use a portable light, we would have been too distracting for all the other diners looking for a romantic night, seated anywhere else.

Here, we met the owner of “Mangia e Scappa”, Giulia. She introduced herself and immediately you could feel her passion for the restaurant and her vision for it resonating. She regaled us with a verbal tour of her business from its origin to all the special touches she has implemented to make them one of a kind. My favourite were the stories of her childhood and the throwback to the moments captured from her own personal photo album, on the wall. Like how the oven in her Italian hometown had the capacity to make 500 loaves of bread at a time, with a total of three ovens for 1,500 loaves in one go.

She also spoke with excitement over their fresh ingredients, majority of which she herself grows and harvests from her own backyard garden, and in the plot they have out back as well. They farm their own fruits for the desserts and herbs for their pizzas. Majority of which is flashed frozen and used throughout the year. This homegrown and homemade ideology extends to their in house made cheeses and handmade pastas. We even got a look at the freshly dried trays of the latter, in their naturally died green, orange, and black hues.

This was one of the many products they offered in their adjoining stop and deli. Open 11-6pm every day, all of their offerings are either imported from Italy or made in house by chefs hailing from Venice, Paris, and Rome. Here they sell bottles of olive oil, tins of coffee, boxes of cookies, cans of stewed vegetables, tubs of briny olives, and links of sausages and salami. And for those not looking to cook for themselves, they also have preprepared Italian flatbread and ready made dishes like lasagna and stuffed shells to take home for later.

We started with their pizza challenge contribution, the main reason why we were here in the first place. It was created by Giulia’s 15 year old son Luca. He based it off of the family’s recipe for traditional Italian style pizza, and took inspiration from Nonna’s favourite Calabrian meal. And this is his brainchild, the “Patate e Pipi”, a pizza with potatoes. I appreciated how there were so many unique features about this pizza, from the crust all the way to the toppings and the cheese used. This was a tomato infused wheat and tipo oo crust (a type of flour that is more friendly towards those with gluten intolerances), coated with a creamy white sauce. Topped with thinly sliced potatoes, fresh rosemary, fire roasted red peppers, fontina, garlic confit, bonetti’s pancetta, and their own handmade cheese (using their family’s recipe).

The potatoes were my favourite part, they offered depth and helped to add some substance to the thin crust. I could have eaten a plate of them and the cream sauce, as it. You can smell and taste the fragrant rosemary, and couldn’t help but to enjoy the chunks of roasted garlic cloves that surprised you. The red peppers gave pops of smokiness, but the chunks of salty cheese were the memorable topping to bite into. I haven’t tried any of the other pizza challenge contestants, but they definitely have their work cut out for them, competing against this one.

From there, the regular menu was a concise list of Italian classics. We debated on what to get, but Giulia was more than helpful in swaying our minds. She suggested their “caprese salad” for its buffalo mozzarella, but we went with her other recommendation of the “calamari” instead.

These were large cuts of squid in a light flour dredge. “Calamari fritti”, served with a zesty mayo. Each ring was pillowy and each tentacle crispy. They were as airy and as light as they looked. Especially when compared to other places that serve their calamari chopped into small chunks and fried into crispy dense balls. I just wish they were better seasoned with more herbs and double the spices instead of being just salty by means of the sauce. Though the decorative lemon and it’s juice helped to kick things up a notch. Sadly we had the pizza first, so comparatively this didn’t measure up flavour wise. Shame, we should have started with this and been content moving forward from appetizer to entree.

The “Fettuccine al nero di seppia” was another recommendation we took from Giulia, and were happier for it. The black squid ink pasta was cooked in a lobster cream sauce, and served with tiger prawns, baby shrimp, and swirls of zucchini”. This is only available for dine in only, and at $7 more than all the other $18 pastas, it certainly earned its prestige.

The pasta noddles itself was the highlight. It had the ideal starchy texture with a nice fishy finish. You tasted the sweet lobster meat in the sauce, got some freshness from the zucchini, and the cherry tomatoes offered pops of juice. The doubling of the prawns with shrimp was a nice little treat as well. Overall this was a refreshing pasta dish, not heavy or over burdened with carbs.

And the side of garlic bread included was most helpful in giving us a bonus taste of their home made breads. It wasn’t crispy and chewy as regular garlic bread, but instead dense and cakey. But that is again because of the use their tipo oo wheat. And again, that is done purposefully with consideration given of those with gluten intolerances.

Throughout our meal, I didn’t once feel the need to sprinkle Parmesan on anything, and I usually like shaking it on thick. I feel that, that itself is a good tell of the place.

We then indulged in their homemade desserts. First a pie that was a future contestant in the upcoming @vanfoodster pie challenge. This gold brown pastry was made by Giulia, with inspiration taken from another family recipe. It was figs and Boston pears in an amaretti cookie cake base. “Amaretti” is an almond cookie soaked in liquor and coffee. The fruit was picked fresh from Julia’s garden. I love fig newton bars so loved her pie that tasted like a grown up version of the bars. The pear added a nice crisp texture to the dense spongy crust. And the almond essence, from in house ground almonds, was a nice after note to simmer on. Overall it was Easy to eat, and not too sweet.

I loved the way the “traditional Sicilian cannoli” looked. These canollo shells are made in house and stuffed with a ricotta filling and chocolate chips. It looked like a small serving, but you didn’t need anymore than this, it was rich and creamy and already too decadent with its luscious cream and crispy shell. Although after the second bite, a little too over the top with the chocolate chips for my taste.

And lastly this was their most popular dessert, “Chef Alessandro’s tiramisu”. Coffee flavoured ladyfingers and cream filling make up this Italian cake. I am actually not a fan of tiramisu as I find it too soggy. I typically want more to crunch on in my dessert. Although David, who does enjoy a good tiramisu, found himself a fan of its moistened texture. He declared this as one of the most flavourful versions he has ever had. So fluffy and so soft, as if it would dissolve on your tongue.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This was definitely worth the drive all the way to Langley for. It was like they brought a piece of Italy to the small township. Or at least an intimate look into Giulia’s culture and her family. She was proud to announce that if you can’t take a trip to Italy, they will bring Italy to you here, and they did. I enjoyed her and all the Italian hospitality from the entire restaurant, employees and clientele alike. Don’t deny your cravings.



Comments:

  1. Sharamar

    Very amusing message

  2. Daijas

    very interesting :)

  3. Mojar

    ta nuuuu ..... lay out fresh plz))

  4. Chege

    In my opinion you commit an error. Let's discuss.

  5. Mut

    Author, thank you very much. If you please, make the font on the blog a little larger. And then the eyes already hurt.



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