Antica Corte Pallavicina

There were so many highlights on our recent trip to Italy. One of the most memorable was our time at Antica Corte Pallavicina. Who knew that the one spare night between locations in the middle of the trip would be so cool?! From our private tour of the absolutely unreal culatello (like prosciutto, only way better) cellar to our Michelin-star dinner, this agriturismo blew our minds. And much to our delight, a couple weeks after we got home, we had the chance to go back by watching one of our faves, Anthony Bourdain, as he visited the prized cellar with his show, No Reservations. I think giddy is a good word to describe our excitement.

We cannot recommend this place highly enough. If you find yourself anywhere remotely near it, you absolutely must go. And if you go, please, please, take a cooking class. And then make those recipes as soon as you get home. Here’s the first, a classic handmade pasta tossed with vegetables. So simple, so, so good. The below is from my own notes, scribbled as I translated the Italian/English mix while we cooked in the kitchen. As we continue to make this, I’ll refine my notes. Finally, big ups to our chefs and teachers, Francesco and Nicholas.

20121114-125014.jpg

20121114-124934.jpg

20121114-124952.jpg

Pasta Antica, from Antica Corte Pallavicina

  • 250 g flour (0/0)
  • 125 g grated breadcrumbs
  • Boiling water
  • Salt
  • Carrot
  • Small eggplant
  • Small zucchini
  • Roma tomato
  • Zucchini flower
  • Basil
  • Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Olive oil

Mix flour and breadcrumbs with hands. Create a mound on your work surface with a dip in the middle.

Add boiling water and salt to the center of your mound. Mix with a fork.

Add more water as needed. Mix with hands until smoothly combined. Roll into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Set aside. (You can freeze excess dough for up to a month.)

Julienne carrot, eggplant, and zucchini. (You can just use the skin of the eggplant and zucchini, not the middle white parts.)

Roll the pasta dough into long, thin strands. Use more flour as needed on surface and pasta. As you roll the strands, stretch your fingers outward. This helps keep the strands even. (You can also freeze excess strands of pasta dough. Form into a nest, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to a month.)

Boil water for the pasta.

Once boiling, blanch tomato by cooking for 10 seconds and then moving to an ice bath. Peel, remove the seeds, and julienne.

Heat a pan on high heat. Add olive oil. Add carrots and a little salt. (Adding salt as you add each vegetable pulls out the water and prevents the veg from burning.) Toss gently, with tweezers if you have them, or delicately with tongs or a spatula. Then add zucchini with a little more salt. Cook for a few minutes. Then add eggplant and salt, cook.

Meanwhile, salt the water, then cook the pasta for 5-10 minutes, depending on how thick your strands are.

Add the pasta to the vegetables. Add some pasta water to the mixture. Bring to a boil and cook for several minutes.

Add tomato, basil, and zucchini flower to pasta. Add grated Parmagiano-Reggiano. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

Advertisements

Brussels are back

Recently I stopped by Banana Republic for an event they were having to launch their “Desk to Dinner” line of clothing in partnership with Bon Appetit magazine. The major draw was that Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Miliken would be there, feeding and greeting the people. I was excited because that week Susan Feniger’s new Street Food cookbook was to hit the shelves, and while I’ve been trying not to buy cookbooks, this was one I needed to have.

Lucky me! Got to meet both SF and MSM and they each autographed a free (?!?! I would have paid for it) cookbook for me: Street Food and Mesa Mexicana. Plus tasty bites?! The best trip to Banana Republic ever.

We love her restaurant Street, and so far, this book is a winner. Our first crack was a pretty simple recipe and likely one we’ll try again. Many other recipes are more ambitious but look awesome.

20121114-124901.jpg

Brussels Sprouts with Goat Cheese, Apples and Hazelnuts (from Susan Feniger’s Street Food)
4 Servings

Brussels sprouts are the perfect vegetable to use with a variety of other flavors: their hearty quality pairs well with and stands up to other strong tastes. Here, I’ve combined hem with the sweetness of apple and the richness of goat cheese. Even people who say they hate Brussels sprouts love this dish! The trick with Brussels sprouts is not to overcook them. I like to caramelize them a bit to bring out their natural sweetness but keep the texture firm.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup hazelnuts
  • 1½ Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1¼ lbs. Brussels sprouts, thinly shaved on a mandoline or with a knife (6 cups)
  • 2 medium Granny Smith apples, cored and diced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 oz. soft goat cheese, broken into small pieces
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Directions

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• Spread the hazelnuts out on a baking sheet and toast them for 5 to 10 minutes, until they are roasted and slightly browned. Pour onto a clean dish towel. Fold the dish towel over the hazelnuts and roll them around lightly to remove the skins. Discard the skins and then chop the hazelnuts.
• In a large saute pan set over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the Brussels sprouts, apples and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts are slightly browned on the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the hazelnuts, goat cheese and lemon juice. Toss together and remove from the heat. Serve immediately.

The Week Ahead

We are trying to be good. Translation? We made a TON of quinoa, farro, and lentils for the week. And we were covered for much of Sunday through Saturday. It works! Basic recipes below, but ones I at least will want access to again. (Although maybe we’ll take a week or so off.)

20120922-190437.jpg

20120922-190713.jpg

One of the many iterations.

Quinoa

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken stock (or salted water)

Directions

  • Store quinoa in freezer.
  • Rinse/soak for 10 minutes.
  • Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil.
  • Toast quinoa for 1 minute.
  • Bring to a boil, stir once.
  • Cover with lid, lower heat and bring to a simmer.
  • Cook for 15 minutes, covered.
  • Fluff with a fork.

Lentils

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried green, brown, or French lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf, 1 garlic clove, or other seasonings (optional)
  • 1/4 – 3/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Any amount of lentils can be cooked in this manner. Just maintain the 2:1 ratio of water to lentils described below.

1. Wash Lentils: Measure the lentils into a strainer or colander. Pick over and remove any shriveled lentils, debris, or rocks. Thoroughly rinse under running water.

2. Combine Lentils and Water: Transfer the rinsed lentils to a saucepan and pour in the water. Add any seasonings being used, reserving the salt.

4. Cook the Lentils: Bring the water to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. You should only see a few small bubble and some slight movement in the lentils. Cook, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes. Add water as needed to make sure the lentils are just barely covered.

5. Salt the Lentils: Lentils are cooked as soon as they are tender and no longer crunchy. Older lentils may take longer to cook and shed their outer skins as they cook. Strain the lentils and remove any seasonings. Return the lentils to the pan and stir in 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Taste and add additional salt as needed.

6. Seasoning and Using Cooked Lentils: Cooked lentils will keep refrigerated for about a week. Season them with olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, fresh herbs, and eat them on their own. Lentils can also be added to soups, salads, or other recipes.

Farro

Used on this day to make: Farro Salad with Tomatoes and Herbs (Giada De Laurentiis)

  • 4 cups water
  • 10 ounces farro (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

Combine the water and farro in a medium saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the farro is tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well, and then transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Fagioli

Another one of our faves from our Italian eating vacation. (Not the prettiest picture, but super tasty.) You might find that you need to add more chicken stock — we did.

20120922-190526.jpg

Tuscan White Beans (from Barefoot Contessa, How Easy Is That?)

  • 1 pound dried white cannellini beans
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped fennel, stalks, fronds and core removed (2 large)
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 cup chicken stock (preferably homemade)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

The night before, soak dried beans in a large bowl with water to cover by at least 2 inches. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, drain the beans, rinse them well, and place them in a large stockpot. Add twice as much water as you have beans, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes, until beans are very tender. Skim off any foam that accumulates.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the fennel and carrots and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Drain the beans and add them to the vegetables. Add the chicken stock, sage, rosemary, salt, and pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 12 to 15 minutes, until creamy. Stir in the Pecorino, season to taste, and serve hot.

Pappa

One of our favorite soups from our trip to Italy.

20120922-190613.jpg

Pappa al Pomodoro (Barefoot Contessa)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
  • 1 cup medium-diced carrots, unpeeled (3 carrots)
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and medium-diced (1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes, crusts removed
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans good Italian plum tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

For the topping:

  • 3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes
  • 2 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, chopped
  • 24 to 30 whole fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus more for serving
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until tender. Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 more minutes. Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process just until coarsely chopped. Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, basil, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the topping, place the ciabatta cubes, pancetta, and basil on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, until all the ingredients are crisp. The basil leaves will turn dark and crisp, which is perfectly fine. Reheat the soup, if necessary, beat with a wire whisk until the bread is broken up. Stir in the Parmesan and taste for seasoning. Serve hot sprinkled with the topping and drizzled with additional olive oil.