Sunday, 2 December 2012

Keeping the tradition alive: Pasticcio di Maccheroni Ferrara Style

This is the most traditional dish of my city that dates back to the Estense Dinasty of the 15 century. I think that this represents the most amazing food heritage  in the history of food heritage in the world. Quite a statement, but unquestionable true. If my aunt knew that I was sharing this family recipe she would probably be very upset with me but when you own something so precious, you have to share it.

You’ll need:
For the pastry:
·      250g of white flour
·      115g of butter
·      1 egg
·      100g of sugar
For the béchamel:
·      600ml of milk
·      60g of butter
·      60 g of flour
·      A pinch of salt
·      Some grated nutmeg
For the filling:
·      150g of maccheroncini cooked in milk al dente
·      300g of chicken liver and heart
·      A glass of marsala
·      Dried Porcini mushroom
·      1 glass of milk
·      Truffle
 Melt the butter into a bowl and add the sugar, if it is not too warm you can add the egg, otherwise wait a little and gradually add the flour. Make a ball and put it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
The béchamel is not a very difficult sauce but you have to be careful not to create lumps once you add the flour. So start by melting the butter in a pot and gradually add the flour. You have to make what the French call “ roux blanc”. Once you are done with flour start adding the warm milk (it is important that the milk is warm to avoid lumps) help yourself by stirring repeatedly with a whisk. Once the béchamel is thick remove it from the heat and season with salt, pepper nutmeg and Parmesan cheese.  
For the white ragout, oil a pan with some chopped onions and start cooking the chicken’s liver and heart. Once they start changing color, add the Marsala. After the alcohol has evaporated add the dried porcini that have been revitalized in warm water: add a glass of milk and a teaspoon of truffle paste.
Once you have the ragout, the Maccheroni cooked in milk and the béchamel ready, you can combine the three and make the filling.
Divide the dough in 2, one bigger than the other. Take the bigger one, roll it and fold a cake tin. Add the filling and cover it with the other half. Make a hole in the center and cover it with a cute little tap made with leftover dough. It very important to do that for some physical reasons . Brush the surface with egg yok for a beautiful yellow color.
Bake it for 30 minutes at 180°C    

Sunday Obsession: Poached eggs on toast / how to make an egg look like a mozzarella

Going out for brunch during the weekend an ordering an overpriced poached egg just because it looks  like a miracle of gastronomy,  is something that i also do on a regular basis untill i discovered this morning that making poached egg is mega easy and also crazy cheap.

The process of making poached eggs might seem like a chemistry experiment but it is actually quite fun and rewarding at the end.

First of all take a deep pot, like the one you would use for making pasta and fill it with water. Put it in a stove and let it simmer till it reaches a temperature of 75 °C 85 °C. basically you want the water hot but not boiling otherwise the yoks will cook too fast.
Once you reach the temperature, splash some white wine vinegar into the water and a teaspoon of salt per liter of water. The vinegar help the coagulation of the egg whites.....i have been told :-)

Crack an egg into a small ball, making sure that the yoks doesn't break. create a whirpool of water with a straning spoon and pour the egg into the vortex. at this point i suggest to remove the pot from the heat and wait 2 minutes. The egg white will coagulate and the yok will remain runny.
After 2 minutes you can collect the poached egg and trim the excessive egg white part and dry the egg.

To serve the poached egg i have sliced some mushrooms, oil a pan with some garlic and sauted them.
Toast a slice of white bread and rub the cut edge of a garlic clove on the surface of the toast.
Place the mushrooms on top of the bread and then put the poached egg. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and grind some black pepper.