14 December, 2019
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INGREDIENTS:
  • 600 g of leavened bread dough
  • 3 large onions
  • 12-15 sage leaves
  • ½ glass of extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • olive oil or lard for the cake tin

 

DIRECTIONS:

Peel the onions, cut them into thin slices, roll them out on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt. Leave them for a hour, then squeeze them well. Grease a not too high rectangular cake tin, arrange the bread dough in a no more than a centimeter layer and sprinkle the surface with washed and dried slices of onion and sage leaves. Sprinkle the surface of the flatbread pizza with a little olive oil and cook it in the oven at about 180 ° for 30-40 minutes. The white flatbread can be served both cold and hot.

 

The crushed onion – which in Città di Castello it is called pampassato – is known throughout Umbria. The white flatbread can be made with the onion only or with the leaves of rosemary and, in the absence of anything else, only with a little salt on the surface. In Norcia, where it was usually made together whith the bread and where it was also called “spianata”, next to the poorer versions (with salt, ciccioli or rosemary), it is matched with zucchini, tomatoes and sometimes potatoes.

 

 

Courtesy of Calzetti-Mariucci

The itinerary between the flavors and aromas of Valnerina continues with other products of this territory.

After lentils, honey and the Nera’s trout, let’s discover other local delicacies.

Roveja

This is the story of some small colored seeds, two tenacious women and a glass jar. In 1998 Silvana and Geltrude, were reorganizing the cellar of their house, after the earthquake occured in 1979. On this occasion they found a dusty glass jar full of colored seeds, together with a faded sheet of paper with a mysterious name written in pencil: roveja. It is a legume which blossoms on the heights of the Central Apennines. Roveja is a small and heroic legume, a type of wild pea, often considered as a weed. It is now a Slow Food Presidium and it has survived thanks to Silvana and Geltrude. Since 2006 roveja has been restarting to grow and blossom in Valnerina.

 

Norcinerie of Valnerina, photo by Officine Creative Italiane

Norcinerie

There is a craft in the heart of Valnerina, which preserves the identity of a territory and recalls its ancient traditions and memories: the “Norcino”. It finds its roots in the Pagan worships, in which the killing of pigs was the apex of agrarian rituals and marked an important periodo f the year.
The processing of pork meats is still a triumph of flavors and ancient feelings in Umbria.  Over the centuries it has becomes the fulcrum of an impenetrable magical-superstitious tradition. It consists of identifying in some characteristics of the entrails of the slaughtered beasts, prophetic and revealing visions.

 

Saffron, photo by Officine Creative Italiane

Saffron

The mystery which surrounds the etymology of the word Crocus Sativus, scientific name of the Saffron, is lost in the legend of the Crocco, one of the character of the Metamorphoses of Ovidio. He fell in love with the nymph Smilace and he was turned into a blond saffron flower. Symbol of prosperità, even today, the Crocus Sativus is presented as a long-life wish due to the therapeutic and aphrodisiac properties which are able to renew the body. It was used over the centuries, not only to obtain the yellow color destined to frescoes and to dye garments and fabrics, but also for cosmetic and medicinal purposes because of its properties.
The cultivation of Saffron is part of the Umbrian identity and history. It is something which  preserves an important link with the  human element: from the preparation of the soil, to the choice of bulbs passing through the moment of blossoming, until to the packaging of the final product.

 


First part

It is not the first (and surely, not even the last) adventure in “perugino dialect” for Ida Trotta, author of five other books about the Umbrian cuisine.

The passion of the author, that allowed her to win two challenges thanks to her own recipes, so as to teach at the Mantignana’s Easter Cake School. Ida considers food as a collective good and eating good food as an expression of education and respect: all elements which find their roots in the umbrian excellence.
The Umbrian cuisine – with its rustic nobility and so hospitable, warm and relaxed (to paraphrase the author) – has demonstrated how its excellence derives from simple and genuine ingredients; it is the same simplicity that today distinguished chefs are looking for, removing elements from the elaborate dishes of the past. But Umbria, has always had this characteristics in its culinary tradition since ancient times. Ida describes this world recalling the typical aromas and flavors experienced during her childhood spent at her grandparents’ house.

 

 

The book continues with her personal recipes, but Perugia a Tavola is not a simple collection of recipes: every creation which belongs to the culinary tradition of Perugia, is accompanied by a presentation in verse, strictly in perugino dialect, with many curiosities about  umbrian customs and traditions. Ida is also the author of the illustrations of the first part of the book which is about appetizers, bread and savory pies, pasta dishes, soups, vegetable soups, second courses, side dishes, omelettes, cured meats and desserts.

But the book reserves another surprise too. At the bottom of this recipe book, there are the Minima culinaria, poems written in the local dialect of Perugia, approved by the Academy of Donca: the “donca” is, emblematically, the peculiar inflection which characterizes the area of Perugia and which identifies, the dialect itself. The section is curated by Sandro Allegrini, author of the preface.

To close the volume, a more touristic appendix: the author selected a series of places dua se magna bene (where you can eat well): a series of restaurants selected due to their way of interpreting and presenting the same recipes of the tradition mentioned in the book. The other criterion to choose these restaurants was their ability to promote and describe the territory. In a nutshell, a unique work by Ida Trotta, a true ambassador of the Umbrian cuisine and and the “perugino dialect”.

 


“Perugia a tavola – Tradizione, identità, cultura”

By Ida Trotta

Publishing House: Morlacchi Editore

Perugia 2017

369 pages

«Olive Oil and Umbrian wine are our cultural heritage such as Pinturicchio and Perugino».

Gianfranco Vissani does not need many presentations. It is perhaps the first chef appeared on television, when the chefs were still in the kitchen. Exuberant, outspoken and a genuine Umbrian. During our talk he remembers stories connected to his father: when he killed the pig or when he prepared the aromatic liqueurs so as the numerous things  that he taught him. Then the interview moves on to the Umbrian cuisine and to the bond to this land. At this point everything gets clear: “Mine is a true relationship with the territory”.

 

Gianfranco Vissani

What is your link with Umbria?

My origins are in Maremma but I was born in Umbria in Civitella del Lago in the province of Terni, At the lake of Corbara my father opened the first restaurant when there was still little electricity in the area and the streets were not very practical. When I was young, I was attracted by everything that was different, for this reason I traveled a lot thorough Italy: Venice, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Genoa, Florence and Naples, today all that is here represents my life. I love Umbria, I have a very deep bond with this land.

If Umbria was a dish, what would it be?

It would not be just a dish, but many. It would be hunting, the lentils of Castelluccio, the potatoes of Colfiorito, the truffle caved and not cultivated, the olive oil, the wines like Sagrantino, the torta al testo cooked under the embers, the “maialata” and the “sanguinaccio”, the thrushes of Amelia and the “palomba alla ghiotta” of Todi. We are a small region, but very important and innovative in the fileld of cuisine

An ingredient that can not miss on the table of an Umbrian…

Certainly the olive oil, for its small size, Umbria produces a lot, and the wine of Caprai and Lungarotti that were true innovators. These two products are our cultural heritage equal to Pinturicchio and Perugino.

How much, and how, has this region influenced your cooking and your work?

Very very much. Umbrian products are very present in my recipes.

Your latest book La cucina delle feste has this subtitle: “L’altro Vissani” Who is the other Vissani? Is there another one?

Yes, it’s another nuisance like me (laughs). It’s a subtitle that I enjoyed to choose.

A good chef is the one who cooks the best pasta with tomato sauce or the one who makes a great dish never made by others?

A good chef must know how to do both: starting from the simplicity of a pasta with tomato sauce to get to a more particular and complicated dish.

Little curiosity: is there a food that you can not stand? And one which you can not do without?

I do not like sauerkraut and I could not do without olive oil or ham, but the ham which doesn’t

How would you describe Umbria in three words?

Hills, nature and green landscapes.

The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…

Quiet life and grape vines.

«Take a handful of chopped walnuts, a handful of raisin, a fistful of pecorino cheese cut into small dice, a pinch of the same grated cheese, a pinch of pepper, a little salt, five or six cloves, half a glass of red wine, lard and olive oil as required, and form a whole which has to rest for about ten hours. Join a kilo and a half of bread dough, forming a mixture to divide into three parts like separate loaves. On these you can practice a deep cross cut. When the mixture is leavened, you have to cook it in the brick oven».

A snack for farmers

The Yearbook of the city of Todi, dated 1927, reports this procedure for the preparation of the “pan pepato”, a bread enriched with tasty walnuts – sometimes even raisins – that the people of these areas used to consume during the Autumn period, especially when the worked in the fields.
This type of food due to its ingredients is extremely energetic and corroborating, so that it was choosen as  as the perfect snack for those who, during the cold November days, struggled along the grassy ridges because of the olive harvest. In fact, the small size of the damaged breadpan was perfect for having  something to eat without weighing down.

 

A sublimated version

Although there are several versions, both sweet and savory, the original recipe is the the one from Todi, which benefits not only from the softness of lard, but also from the sweet-savory contrast of raisins combined with pecorino. It seems that this preparation had already been codified in a treaty of the sixteenth, but similar preparations were already widespread in the classical world. The patriarch of Jerusalem Sofrone, during the sixth century, talks about a type of cheese bread for children, not to mention the innumerable preparations spreaded in the ancient Rome and then refined over the following centuries.

Literary appetizers

It is undoubted, then, that the “pan nociato”, or “pan caciato”, is an authentic delicacy, still appreciated today, on the Umbrian tables and served as an appetizer. A delight that spreaded from Todi throughout the Umbria. So known to deserve a place of honor in the poem “November” of Guido Discepoli, inside the “Sage of poems and religious folk songs of some Umbrian towns”, edited by Oreste Grifoni – unfortunately, today, out of print.

The torta al testo, typical product from Umbria, has arrived in Tokyo and it is bound to become an innovative haute cuisine dish.

This is thanks to the chef Narisawa who spent in Europe a period of time to know the best of Italian, French and German cuisine. He tasted, appreciated, learned and brought back to his country many different European specialities, which he transformed according to his inspiration in order to satisfy all the senses.

 

The Bread of the Forest

From the Japanese virgin forests

He introduced a refined product in his minimalist restaurant in Tokyo, which combines ancient and modern traditions: the Bread of the Forest. This bread is made with wheat flour, chestnut powder and a Japanese chestnut compote. The chestnuts are collected in a virgin forest without pollutants, where flavors and aromas are expressed to their maximum. A novelty in Japan. In the past, the chestnut tree was called the Tree of Bread, because from its fruits, it was obtained a nutritious and cheap flour. This happened when wheat flour was expensive and reserved for wealthy people, while chestnut flour, was left for the poor working class. Now the situation is opposite: the chestnut flour is expensive, seasonal and chic. Narisawa made the Bread of the Forest something special to taste.

 

First act

Two forms of raw pasta are brought to the table. Add a dose of natural yeast and mix with fingers. All in front of the customers.

Second act

Customers observe the miracle of the floury growth. In a few minutes the future bread reaches the expected leavened, then it has to be cooked. Where? On the table, of course.

Third act

A pot of stone arrives on the table, very hot 240 ° degrees – in which the two forms of leavened dough are placed.

In just 10-12 minutes the bread is cooked.

 

In Umbria, something similar has happened since the dawn of time

The dough, already leavened, is spread out like a pizza and placed on a large stone wheel called testo. The testo is positioned inside the fireplace in front of the fire. On the top of the dough an iron cover is placed and the embers are glowing over it.
The torta al testo cooks under and over, while the fireplace fire warms up. 10-12 minutes – as in Japan. Then the torta al testo is ready. Cut it and bring it to the table with cured meats and cheeses.
Here, the Umbrian ritual of the torta al testo starts: it involves opening the slices of cake with your hands, stuffing it with the cured meats and eating it with your hands.

INGREDIENTS FOR 4 PEOPLE
  • 100 g of hop tops
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 fresh spring onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

 

PREPARATION:

Wash the tops of hops, dry and cut them into pieces about 3 cm long; peel garlic and spring onion and chop finely. Put the mixture in a pan for omelettes with oil, add flavor, then add the tops of hops. Cook over low heat and pour, if necessary, a drop of hot water; lightly salt, then add the beaten eggs, to which you have added a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Let bind on both sides; the omelette can be served hot or cold.

 

The omelette with hops was widespread especially in the area of Terni. In dialect they call hops li lupari.

 

Courtesy of Calzetti & Mariucci

 

INGREDIENTS FOR CORNMEAL MUSH:
  • 500 g of cornmeal
  • salt

 

INGREDIENTS FOR SEASONING:
  • 12 pork ribs
  • 500 g of wild mushrooms
  • 500 g of tomato puree
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 glass of dry white wine
  • 8 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

 

 

PREPARATION:

Prepare a normal cornmeal mush. Place a peeled garlic clove in a saucepan with a little oil; let it flavour, then add the sliced mushrooms. Add salt and let them lose excess water for 10-15 minutes. In a pan, put the remaining clove of garlic and remaining oil, let it fry and add the ribs broken in two. Leave to brown, sprinkle with wine and, when it has evaporated, add the tomato puree and mushrooms. Add salt and pepper and finish cooking. Turn out the polenta, cover with the sauce and serve.

 

Cornmeal mush with pork ribs and mushrooms is typical of the Terni area, but it is eaten all over Umbria. In the past, only wild mushrooms were used.

 

 

Courtesy of Calzetti – Mariucci Editore

INGREDIENTS TO MAKE THE FILLING:
  • 1 kg of mixed meat (pork, turkey, veal)
  •  150 g of Parmesan cheese
  •      1 carrot
  •      1 celery
  •      1 onion
  •      1 bay leaf
  •      4 eggs
  •      30 g of butter
  •      a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  •      salt
  •      pepper

 

INGREDIENTS TO MAKE PASTA:
  • 1 kg flour
  • 10 eggs
  • salt

 

Capon broth

 

 

PREPARATION:

Cut the meat into small pieces, chop onion, carrot and celery, place it in a pan with butter, oil and then fry. Add the meat and the bay leaf, let it brown, then add salt and pepper and finish cooking. Grind the meat and their cooking sauce, let cool and then add the Parmesan, eggs and a piece of butter. Put the dough on the stove for a few minutes, adjusting with salt and pepper. Prepare a dough and, with the filling in many balls, prepare the cappelletti.

 

 

These cappelletti, whose dough in more recent times someone has begun to add the mortadella, they are served in stock on Christmas day. The broth was, inevitably, made with capon. In any case, a good meat broth is essential. The processing of cappelletti began a few days before Christmas and they made large quantities, so that they could be enough for several days. In Gubbio rich families did, and in some cases still do, cappelletti according to a recipe that Cùnsolo considers the richest stuffed pasta expressed by Italian cuisine. In addition to boiled capon meat, from which the broth is made, enter into the stuffed pork loin, sausage, pigeons and beef brains.

 

Per gentile concessione di Calzetti – Mariucci Editore

INGREDIENTS:
  • 12 medium size mushroom caps
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tuft of parsley
  • 30 g of lard
  • salt
  • pepper

 

PREPARATION:

Place the caps, well clean, on the grill. Dice finely lard, garlic and parsley, salt it, pepper it and place it on the caps, which you will cook on low heat first on one side and then on the other.

 

 

In the modern version we can use of oil instead of lard. Parsley, in some areas, is replaced with marjoram or mint. It was also used to prepare the fried mushrooms, or stew mushrooms, i.e. cooked in a pan with oil, garlic, parsley, tomato, salt and pepper.

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