Italian Cookery with Silvia Todesco

I am delighted to welcome Silvia Todesco to the blog with Italian recipes for all the family to enjoy.. She shared a four course meal to whet your appetite… and you can find that beneath the monthly posts

This month Silvia Todesco shares a recipe for a special sugar glazed pie that uses up your fruit that is going squishy…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/18/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-guest-writer-italian-cookery-with-silvia-todesco-fresh-fruit-pie-with-sugar-glaze-dessert/

And easy but delicious traditional pasta dish that the whole family will love.. Garlic, Olive Oil and Red Pepper Spaghetti..

GARLIC, OLIVE OIL AND RED PEPPER SPAGHETTI (Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino)

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/05/10/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-italiancookery-with-silvia-todesco-garlic-olive-oil-and-red-pepper-spaghetti-spaghetti-aglio-olio-e-peperoncino/

TO BEGIN WITH

White onion, bacon and blue cheese savory pie: the ultimate recipe for a magnificent appetizer.

I like using puff pastry very much (especially for an appetizer), because it is so versatile and it is very easy to use… This new recipe with puff pastry will for sure not leave you disappointed!

This savory pie is as simple as it is, but has a flavor so special that everyone (even for those who don’t like blue cheese) will love it! I’ve made it twice since I found the recipe on Pinterest few weeks ago and I couldn’t manage to get a picture of the pie once cut, because it just disappeared from the table in few minutes! It is so delicious!

I have to tell you that I was sceptical about using the balsamic vinegar and all that onion, but at the end, those two ingredients are just the perfect touch to this super tasty appetizer which is a cheesy heaven with a delicate vinegar and onion aftertaste. Although it is not a finger food, this pie it’s an appetizer I would absolutely suggest you to try because it is so delicious and appealing that your guests will be amazed!

Ingredients for 1 puff pastry sheet

  • 1 frozen puff pastry sheet
  • 3 regular sized white onions peeled and finely cut
  • 7 oz. blue cheese (200 gr. formaggio verde) cut in small cubes
  • 3.5 oz little stripes of bacon (100 gr.)
  • 2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • olive oil
  • 1 handful grated parmesan cheese
  • few tbs. crumbled bread
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 egg yolk to brush the pastry

Method

A few hour before arranging the pie, take out of the freezer the puff pastry sheet and let it thaw in the refrigerator until it is easy to roll out.

For the filling: pan fry (or saute’) the onions and bacon in a large pan with some olive oil for about 10-15 minutes stirring every now and then to avoid burning. Once cooked, adjust with sea salt and add the balsamic vinegar. Let cool off.

In a separate bowl combine the cheese, eggs and parmesan and mix very well. Add to the mix the cooled onion and bacon.

Preheat the oven at 420 F. In a clean surface, roll out the pastry, giving it a round or rectangular shape, according to the shape of your baking dish. Lay the pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, fill the pastry with the mix evenly, and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Be careful to close inward the sides of the pastry so the filling doesn’t run out while baking. Brush the edges of the pastry with some beaten egg yolk. (as you can see I’ve tried both options using the regular rectangular puff pastry sheet and both time it turned out great!).

Bake at 420 F for about 20 minutes or until the pie rises and starts getting colored.

Serve still warm… it is sooooooo scrumptious!

TIPS: – the Blue cheese I buy comes in packs of 150 gr. so I add to the filling 50 gr. of brie cheese and the result was wonderful;

– I’ve tried to add stripes of salami together with the bacon, and again, the result was absolutely amazing.

– Considering the two previous facts, I would definitely consider this recipe as a way to use up a few ingredients that sometimes are in our refrigerator for days and usually ends up going bad (I am talking of small pieces of cheese or few slices of bacon…).

MAIN COURSES

Ricotta and beef meatballs. 

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In the collective mind of Americans, spaghetti with meatballs is one of the most popular Italian dishes.

Actually, this is partly true, considering that in Southern Italy they do dress spaghetti with meatballs and sauce.

But since I come from Northern Italy, I grew up eating just the meatballs as a main dish, possibly accompanied by mashed potatoes. The meatball recipe I’m excited to be sharing with you this week is one of my grandmother’s “classics”!

She used to make a lot of meatballs all at one time, and then she cooked part of them immediately by simply frying them in olive oil. The rest were cooked in a tomato sauce, and eaten in the next few days. This is why I give you the quantities for a big pan of meatballs; they are just as delicious as left-overs, or you can freeze them, without loosing any of the taste.

Meatballs are a simply delicious meal, and like many other dishes that I’ve already described in my past posts, this one also finds its roots in the tradition of the Veneto Region.

Ingredients for the meatballs

  • 2 lbs. ground beef (1 kg. carne macinata)
  • 1 lb. plain Italian sausage- without fennel seeds (1/2 Kg. salsiccia)
  • 1 lb. ricotta (1/2 kg. ricotta)
  • 3 eggs (3 uova)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (1 pugno grana)
  • sea salt to taste, I suggest about 3 pinches (3 bei pizzichi di sale)
  • 2 pinches nutmeg (2 pizzichi noce moscata)
  • 1 pinch dry rosemary (1 pizzico rosmarino)
  • 1 tsp. fresh or dry parsley (1 cucchiaino di prezzemolo)
  • optional: a clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (1 pugno pan grattato)
  • all purpose flour for breading (farina per la panatura)
  • olive oil or vegetable oil for frying (olio d’oliva per friggere)

Ingredients for the Tomato Sauce

  • 5 tbs. olive oil (5 cucchiai d’olio d’oliva)
  • 30 oz. (2 cans) tomato sauce (2 barattoli di polpa di pomodoro)
  • 1/2 medium white onion, chopped (mezza cipolla tritata)
  • 1 clove of garlic (1 spicchio d’aglio)
  • salt and pepper to taste (sale e pepe qb)
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper (1 cucchiaino peperoncino)
  • 1 tsp. rosemary (1 cucchiaino rosmarino)
  • 1 tsp. basil (1 cucchiaino basilico)

Directions for the meatballs:

In a big bowl mix the ground beef, Italian sausage, ricotta, eggs, parmesan, and spices/herbs (all ingredients except breadcrumbs).

When all the ingredients look amalgamated, add the bread crumbs, and keep mixing.

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Put the mix in the refrigerator to chill, and meanwhile prepare the tomato sauce.

Directions for tomato sauce:

In a large pan, brown the chopped onion and the garlic clove in olive oil.

When the onion looks golden, add the tomato sauce and all the herbs/spices.

When the tomato sauce reaches boiling, turn the burner to low heat, and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes, covered.

If the tomato sauce becomes too dry before 15 minutes, add a couple tbs. of water.

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While the tomato sauce is cooking, take the meatball mix out of the refrigerator and start to make small balls.

Back to the Meatballs.

Each meatball should be made with about 1 tbs. of meat mixture (remember that the smaller your meatballs are, the taster they will result).

Then flour each meatball evenly.

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Into a large pan pour about 5 tbs. of olive, switch on the heat, and when the oil is hot, start to brown the meatballs all around.

Cook at medium heat for about 10 minutes. They have to become brown slowly, so they don’t stay raw inside.

Considering that you will obtain plenty of meatballs, you’ll probably run out of olive oil in your pan. So, I suggest to rinse and wipe out the pan when the oil in the pan begins to burn, and use new oil to brown the remaining meatballs.

You can eat the fried meatballs immediately, or mix them in the tomato sauce.

Once the tomato sauce is ready, take the garlic clove out of the pan, mix the browned meatballs in it, and let them cook together at medium heat for about 5 minutes, to allow the tomato to get the meatballs’ taste!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

Tips:

– I’ve never made spaghetti and meatballs because to me meatballs are already rich enough, but if you want to make them to dress your pasta, you’ll get a really great entree!

– As I told you in the header, if you make the meatballs before dinner, you can just fry them and enjoy them without tomato sauce.

– As side dish, I suggest mashed potatoes or any other veggies. Of course with french fries the combination would be perfect… if you just don’t care about calories 🙂

– If you have meatballs leftover, freeze them only once they are cooked and mixed with the tomato sauce.

Oven baked, bacon wrapped cod.

Many times you have heard me complaining about how much I miss seafood living in Midwest. When we lived in Italy we could easily have access to seafood market twice a week just down the stairs of our apartment, along the alleys of the our middle-age walled hometown Cittadella. PD Italy. Anyway, place you leave, new habits to develop! And this super easy, fast, light recipe fits perfect our crave for sea food, satisfying even my little ones, which love the light taste of cod, and adore the aftertaste of baked bacon. One curiosities about Italy is that in the Region I come from (Veneto), cod fish is very popular, and some of the most popular recipe with cod fish are “baccala’ mantecato” and “baccala’ alla veneta“.

Going back to the recipe, this one could really be perfect for any kind of meal, even if you want to impress your guests, and the ingredients are so simple that (besides the cod), you probably already have them all at home! This time I chose a 4-5 servings dose (about two pounds) to feed my numerous family, but ingredients could be easily reduced or increased according to the amount of people you intend to feed ! Moreover, considering the delicate taste of the cod, you can pick whichever side dish to pair with it (a simply salad would be great), but if you have some “extra time” and you like baked potatoes, you can bake them while you bake the cod, only for a longer time.

INGREDIENTS for 4-5 (adults) servings

  • 2 pd. fresh cod fish loins
  • 2-3 tbs. dried or fresh thyme
  • about 1 pd. slices of smoked bacon
  • plain bread crumbs
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • about a cup milk
  • optional: 1 pd. red potatoes peeled and cut in cubes
  • olive oil and sea salt to taste

Directions

In case you decided to make bake potatoes along with the cod, peel and cut them in cubes, spread them with olive oil and panko bread. Arrange the potatoes in a baking sheet previously covered in parchment, keeping the cubes pretty far to each other to obtain a “crunchy” result. Preheat the oven at 420 F. (200 C) – Convection. Be aware that the potatoes will need about 45-60 minutes to get ready, while the cod will need only 30 minutes. So, start baking the potatoes ahead of time, flipping them about every 20 minutes, and start baking the cod only 30 minutes before the potatoes will be done. Remember to salt the potatoes before to serve them.

Back to the cod: Mix the different kinds of breadcrumbs and the thyme to prepare the breading. Cut the cod fish loins in pieces of the quite same dimensions.

Drench the cod pieces in the milk one at a time and bread them in the crumbs mix. Wrap the cod in bacon and arrange it in an oven sheet previously covered with parchment.

Bake the cod for about 15 minutes and then, flip the slides and bake for the same amount of time. Serve still warm with some fresh vegetable and (if you like) with a slice of lemon and/or if you had the time to made the potatoes, with them!

YUMMMMM! LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

Tip: – baked cod leftovers will be still good, only not as crisp as just baked.

– to make this recipe you can use even frozen cod, but remember to thaw it ahead of time, and that probably the frozen fish will release a lot of water while baking, so the result will be less crunchy than with the fresh one.

DESSERT

MERINGATA: the taste of an ice-cream cake, with no ice-cream at all!

Meringata (literally “meringued” – with meringue on it or in it) refers to any type or cake or dessert with a meringue topping or meringue mixed into it.
In Veneto (the Italian Region which I come from), Meringata is a very picturesque cake
similar to Pavlova,
the Austialian/New Zeland meringue cake consisting of wheels of meringue layered with whipped cream.
Except for the custard layer, the Meringata does not need to be cooked or baked, but rather just needs to be assembled together, to obtain an absolutely tempting dessert, delicate, velvety, and fresh!
Your guests will be amazed by the beauty and the deliciousness of this cake,
and you’ll be amazed to know how easy it is to make! 

Ingredients for a 12″ round Meringata

  • 1 container Lady Finger cookies (un pacco di Savoiardi)
  • 1 can peaches in heavy syrup (un barattolo di pesche sciroppate)
  • a quart heavy whipping cream (un litro di panna da montare)
  • about 12 oz. meringues (circa 250 grammi spumiglie)
  • about 4.4 oz. dark chocolate finely chopped (circa 125 gr. cioccolato fondente tagliato finemente)
  • about 30 Amaretti cookies (3.5 oz.) (circa 30 amaretti, 100 gr.)

Ingredients for the custard (Crema Pasticcera)

  • 6 yolks (6 tuorli)
  • 2 oz. or 1/4 cup all porpose flour (45 gr. farina)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (1 cucchiaino di aroma alla vaniglia)
  • 2/3 cup sugar (140 gr. zucchero)
  • 16 oz. or 2 cups whole milk (500 ml. di latte intero)
  • 1 lemon zest (la scorza di un limone)

DIRECTIONS for making the custard

A few hours before making the cake, or even the day before, prepare the custard according to this recipe. (To build your Meringata, the custard MUST be cool.)

DIRECTIONS For the meringues

You can easily buy meringues at the groceries store, but if you prefer to make them from scratch, follow this recipe, and these quantities:

  • 200 gr. cold egg whites (usually 6 or 7 cold egg whites)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon extract

To build your Meringata

Separate the peaches from their syrup and save the syrup for later (you have to soak the Lady Fingers in it). Crumble the Amaretti and arrange them on a round platter to form the first layer of the cake, and sprinkle with the chopped dark chocolate.

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The next layer will be made by crumbling the meringues. Crumble them into coarse pieces- big enough to be felt when you eat the cake.

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Whip the whipping cream and cover the meringues. Spreading whipped cream on chunks of meringues can be a little challenging, so I usually arrange small dollops of whipped cream close together, and then spread it evenly, so as to cover the layer underneath.

Next, soak the Lady Fingers in the peach syrup and layer them onto the cake. (If you haven’t enough syrup from the peaches, you can dilute it with water and sugar. For each Tbs. of water you add, you need to add a tsp. of sugar.)

Spread the custard evenly on the lady fingers.

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Cut the peaches into pieces and arrange them on the custard, in a way to cover every free spot.

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Make another layer of whipped cream, and this time make sure to cover not only the top of the cake, but also the sides.

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Finish your awesome cake buy covering it with the crumbled meringues left.

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Put your Meringata in the freezer at least 5 or 6 hours. Let it thaw a little before serving: it will be like eating an ice-cream, with no ice-cream at all!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

Tips:

– It really make sense deciding to make also the meringues from scratch since to make the custard you will have 6 eggs white left. If you agree with me, I suggest you to make the custard and the meringues the day before making the cake. Only be sure to cover the custard properly with a plastic wrap and keep it refrigerated until it’s time to use it.

– This cake could be filled with any kind of fruit you prefer (even a fruit cocktail). The important part is that you use a syrup to soak the Lady Finger with the same taste of the fruit you picked (or otherwise use just water and sugar as syrup). I usually make Meringata with peaches or strawberry because they give to the cake a very light and delicate taste, but I would say that using a mix of berries would be a delicious alternative!

– Keep your “Meringata” in the freezer until a couple hours before serving it, and then move it to the refrigerator until the moment you are ready to cut and serve it.

– For sure this cake is ideal for the summer time, since is very refreshing, but honestly, I made it in February, with 8 F. outside, and everybody loved it anyway!

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do, share it, like it, leave a comment, and subscribe to my blog if you would like to receive a new recipe each week for free.

About Silvia Todesco

I’m Silvia, I come from Veneto Region (from Bassano del Grappa precisely, one hour by car far from Venice), and I moved to Iowa in 2011, because of my husband’s job necessities.

I’ve grown up watching my great-grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother cooking for my family every day, searching carefully for ingredients and preparing fresh food. That was their way to show us how much they cared (and care) about us, and to carry on a tradition. I cannot recall a festivity without relatives everywhere and tons of delicious food to eat!

But my way was different I graduated with honors at the University of Law of Padua, and (obviously) I became a lawyer. As a professional, I used to work 14 hours a day, and, of course, the time I could dedicate to my family (and cooking) was almost none.

Then fate brought us here, and finally I’ve found myself. All my background came up, and I realized that taking care of my family is the most satisfying job I could do, especially because it entails cooking healthy and good food!

So I started to practice what I learned when I was young, and surprised myself in making all those meals that characterized my youth.

Integration in a new society is not easy, but it was nice for us to discover how much Italians are loved abroad! And since every new person we have met asked me if I was a good cook, and told me that they love Italian food, well, I decided to share my Italian cooking culture and recipes with you!

Of course, you won’t need to be an expert to follow my recipes! What I’m writing about is our daily menus- recipes made with simple and few ingredients, most of the time cheap and healthy (because the food is not processed).

Plus, considering my passion for cooking, I will also share with you new recipe I discovered in magazines, websites, or shared by friends, and in this case I will always describe you the origin of my posts objects.

In addition, I promise not only to write about Italian food, but especially to give suggestions related to where and how to find the right ingredients and tools you will need. I really hope that you will enjoy my tips!

Connect to Silvia

Website: https://italiangoodness.net/about/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/italiangoodness.net
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beautyandfourkids/
Mix: https://mix.com/silviatodesco81
Twitter: https://twitter.com/silviatodesco81
Pinterest: www.pinterest.it/silviatodesco/

Silvia’s monthly recipes

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