January’s favourites: 5 cheer-myself-up foods and drinks

Time, whatever happens it passes and doesn’t care if you’re late, you can call it bastard, but in the meantime it’s gone already.” says my rough translations of a song from the famous Italian songwriter Lorenzo Jovanotti. Time flies, it ridiculously does, and while I’m trying to figure out the important changes that are occurring in my life at moment, I suddenly find myself realising that an entire month is gone since my last post. It’s been stressful so far, considering everything is going on with my family, so keeping my 2015 resolution to stay positive has been likewise difficult, but I like to think I’m stronger than that, therefore fingers crossed because I don’t want to snap.

What I really like about myself, together with few other personal characteristics, is that my eating habits are not affected at all from the various everyday life circumstances. Even in the darkest of my days I never thought for one second to skip meals, because food is extremely important for me and if I don’t eat, neither my body nor my mood would cooperate to brighten the atmosphere.

During this month I kept myself up with these fabulous foods and drinks that I’d like to share with you guys. Who knows, if they worked for me they could do the same for you.

Almond milk. Ok it’s not technically milk, but more of a drink that resembles milk. Lately I’m having problems with regular English milk (yes, as weird as it sounds, the one I have in Italy is totally fine) so I thought giving almond milk a go, after I found out the soy one and I don’t really get along. I like the toasted flavour that matches my Illy coffee blend, but still, it’s not milk. That’s what, sometimes this January, has led me directly to point n.2.

Credits: Michael Kwan

Matcha latte. The Japanese famous bitter green tea powder exceptionally  combined with warm frothy milk by the skilful Timberyard baristas. A comforting treat which takes me back to the friendly atmosphere of Tokyo’s cafés.

Fresh mango with full fat greek yogurt and desiccated coconut. Ok this breakfast/afternoon snack came up by throwing in a bowl some stuff I had in the fridge, together with that desiccated coconut that was sitting in my pantry for too long. Thick rich yogurt for the creamy texture, coconut adds crunch and mango for a tropical sweet touch.

Talking about ‘Nduja here.

‘Nduja. The Calabrian spreadable spicy salami you can enjoy on your bruschetta or to revive your pasta sauce, or even better, you can melt it on your pizza to give that fiery Southern Italy kick. I also use to add it to soups, because it completely enhances the overall flavour.

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My last visit at Tonkotsu East.

Tsukemen: it was love at first bite when the waitress at Rokurinsha, Tokyo, brought me a big bowl of these thick noodles to dip in their rich pork broth. I never had the chance to eat them since that moment, almost three years ago. However London is always full of wonders, so when I found out that Tonkotsu East was serving tsukemen I had no choice but go trying them. What a joy it was! Perfect homemade noodles with the right porous texture that allows to absorb the broth. I won’t disclose any more details guys, as I’m preparing a review with an another article about my personal ranking of ramen bars in London.

So these are my January’s favourite foods and drinks, but I’m always looking for something new to cheer myself up with, so I can’t wait to hear about your suggestions.

Let me know, guys!

My happy moments from 2014, New Year’s resolutions and snow

The Snow Queen Milla.

The Snow Queen Milla.

It’s snowing from yesterday. Italy, the land of the sun around here looks pretty much like Winterfell, but I’m not Arya Stark even though I got her short hair and her surly attitude.

town hall square in Campobasso, Molise, Italy

Town hall square in Campobasso, Molise, Italy.

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Quite a lot of snow I would say.

Milla, my 9 year old cocker spaniel is snoring at my feet enjoying her cozy blanket. I guess in a perfect wintery scenario the only things that are missing in the picture are the sound of crackling fire and a hot chocolate with marshmallow. Too bad I don’t have either of them, but I can fake it with the virtual fireplace sound on a 5 hour long youtube video and a Nutella jar.

Usually the end of December leads to make new resolutions for the next year, but they almost never work, at least for me, like the classic losing weight, or spending less money on unnecessary stuff. Because let’s face it, these two are the hardest promises to keep for a woman, am I right?

The last couple of months have been really tough on both G and I, so there’s not as much enthusiasm to start a new year as the previous New Year’s Eves. However, I feel it’s necessary not to give up to negativity, so the one and only resolution I am making for 2015 and my future as well, is to work really hard on myself in order to start finding happiness in every little thing.

2015 will be a year of change and I know it for sure. It’s not just the holidays’ atmosphere to do the talking, but the recent circumstances that are pushing me to do something, more like a make it or break it kind of situation.

I like to keep this blog as a drama free place, so I want to start my important resolution from here.

As you might have previously read on The Weird Frittata, every month I like to write a chart/bucket list of products/places I loved and recommend. This time it’s different, because I’m going to write what made me happy during 2014 even what it looks like to be negative, because I want to believe there is a bright side in everything.

So, here it is:

  • The early months of 2014 spent at home in Italy with my family. Even the unemployment has its own bright side, because I could treasure every moment with my parents and relatives (you know, Italian families are quite big). I had the wonderful experience of reconnecting with my family and enjoy my Nonna’s cooking, which I tried to recreate and practice as much as I could. Needless to say that her special recipes will always be in my heart for ever.
  • Moving back to the UK. This time I discovered London from a new perspective experimenting with ethnic restaurants, discovering new recipes and hipster places, just what I needed after a long Italian winter. This rediscovery made me realise how much I love food and the industry that gravitates around it, to the point that I would like to blend in and be part of it. Even though I’m thankful to London for each life experience I had, my love-hate relationship with this city keeps going on, and I’m afraid it’s not going to last that long. It’s like when you get back with your ex and you know that after the initial happiness the old problems will rise again. In fact, here I am again in a “It’s not you, it’s me”, kind of phase and I am grateful for that, because I know that I need to look for something else in my life. Rather than something, it’s somewhere.
  • House sharing again, Thank you London rental prices! Seriously how could this be positive? You might ask, but I’m now more convinced than before of what I want for 2015. Respect is the first answer and I could go on, but anyone who has shared a property knows, for example, how hard it is to keep it clean without ending up in an argument with the other flatmates.
  • All the job interviews gone wrong. You can learn from your mistakes, they say and I’m sure to have learned something about myself and how to deal with these kind of situations. Luckily, it’s not all about me. There are lot of jerks who think they are entitled to treat applicants like trash, because they are in a position of power. I am thankful I don’t have to deal with them on daily basis.
  • Now something not about me. G. finally entered the career field he chased for a long time and I’m happy for him to have found his own path. It’s just the beginning and will be difficult but seeing the person I love being happy makes me want to work hard as well and pay him back with the same positivity he gives me every day.

I saw on Pinterest something called resolution jar and I believe it’s a nice idea to keep the positive mood throughout the year. What you have to do is just fill an empty jar with notes about all the good moments you have during the year and then, around the end of December, you can empty the jar and go through all of your notes to remember those positive moments that we tend to forget in favour of the negative ones.

Now for all of you lazy people out there (including me), this is a lovely idea but also a commitment as well, so find whatever works best for you: a notebook, a board, a calendar or just an app on your smartphone, but never stop staying positive!

I’ll try my best, you should too.


Happy New Year, guys!

A day in Naples and the best pizza in the world. Gino Sorbillo’s review.

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Vesuvius volcano.

Naples is like a lioness, beautiful, haughty and arduous to tame. The collective consciousness about the third city of Italy is made up of diehard preconceptions: a poor, anarchic and at times dirty urban centre on the slopes of a volcano. I’m not here to say this is just not true, because each and every stereotype always has a pinch of accuracy. Also, if the essence of a community remains strong throughout centuries, not necessarily the said people won’t open to change for the needs that modern times demand. What I would like to point out here is that although I come from a region that borders with Campania (the region where Naples is the main centre) and my dialect is strictly similar to the Neapolitan one, due to centuries of Neapolitan domination in the fragmented South, I also had preconceptions. I had them because the last time I visited the city I was about ten, and well, almost 20 years ago the situation was a bit different than it is now. The neglected architecture of the buildings always stays the same, just as some grotesque “personalities” you can find in the narrow alleys that form the map of the city centre. However, this time Naples felt cleaner and safer. It’s true that Christmas is a busy period for the city, because tourists from every part of Italy and the world hit the San Gregorio Armeno alley, to visit the artisan workshops specialised in the creations of nativity scenes. For this reason it would be only logical to consider the hard work of the municipality as something special for the holiday season, but apparently the city is dealing with an actual desire to change, in order to make the ancient capital of southern Italy a modern European city. Some results are already showing, just like the project Stations of Art which is aimed at changing the perspective of the city’s perception by allowing contemporary artist to take over the design and architecture of some underground stations. In fact in 2012 Toledo station was chosen as the most beautiful underground station in Europe

The wonderful mosaic of Toledo underground station in Naples. Project by the Catalan architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca. Credits: The New York Times

Where does food place itself in this context of traditions looking at the future? Exactly in harmony with everything else. Street food is a market that lures young entrepreneurs, because they have the chance to offer the classics of Neapolitan gastronomy in a new light by enhancing the traditional preparation methods, using quality Italian products and social networks to promote their business in the quickest way to the public. This is just what happened with the famous Gino Sorbillo’s pizza that I finally had the chance to try. Gino Sorbillo for whom pizza making runs in the family, is a young talented chef. His passion for the traditional Neapolitan pizza motivated him to improve it by researching and experimenting with mother dough, different organic flour blends and ingredients in order to find an excellent and easy to digest recipe. Gino Sorbillo’s research never stops, in fact it seems that he is trying to create a dough specifically for coeliac disease affected people with the same texture, taste and digestibility of the regular one used in his 3 pizzerias. The ingredients used as toppings are all the best Italian products the country can offer, with their origin and traceability stated on the menu. In other words, Quality. Yes, with capital Q.

Now let’s talk about the experience: image10 The location. You’ll recognise it from afar even though you’ve never been there before, because there’s always a queue that looks endless. You have to be patient, because sometimes it’s necessary to wait hours to get a taste of the best pizza in Italy (and the world in my opinion). My advice is to go either at the opening around 12 or after lunch time at 3. This doesn’t mean you will not queue at all, because as I said the place is always packed with people, but the wait is more “human”. image3 The pizzeria is an ancient two storey house, property of Esterina, Gino’s beloved aunt who passed the passion for pizza on to him. The decor is minimal because all the attention is concentrated on the product. Anyway, in my opinion it wouldn’t harm to modernise the retro style of the place, but retro is not to be intended as the vintage design that is so trendy right now. I am talking about 90’s Italian, so last century!

The service is very fast even though the waitresses aren’t smiley or chatty. I would have certainly appreciated some more courtesy, but I understand that heavy shifts and dealing with every kind of people at a fast pace can get easily on everyone’s nerves. For this reason, there’s no tablecloth on the table and glasses are disposable, just like their napkins. When customers are ready to leave, a waitress comes and cleans the table in a few seconds, so it’s ready for the next group of people.

The pizza. The base is light and soft but doesn’t tear up. This is the result of working the dough and stretching it by hand only, because Sorbillo refuses to use industrial machineries. To those who are not familiar with Neapolitan pizza the dough will taste as still raw, but believe me, it’s not. You will realise it immediately, because after eating you pizza you will not feel full and bloated. As I mentioned before, high-digestibility.

My Osvaldo pizza.

My Osvaldo pizza.

I got an Osvaldo pizza which is made with cherry tomatoes, smoked mixed buffalo&cow’s milk provola cheese, mixed buffalo&cow’s milk mozzarella, extravirgin olive oil and fresh basil. Only 5€.

Vittorio pizza.

Vittorio pizza.

G got Vittorio, an amazing mix of Apulian tuna, Taggiasca olives, Mount Saro’s wild oregano, Italian organic passata and mixed buffalo&cow’s milk mozzarella. Price was 7.50€.

My vote is 9. Sorbillo’s pizza is extraordinary, the best I’ve ever had, because it is a combination of harmonic quality ingredients with a digestible dough, basically the dream. I can’t give more than 9, because some aspects of the overall experience can definitely be improved, but of course I recommend you to try Sorbillo’s amazing pizza because, I can assure you, nothing will ever be the same after that.

Gino Sorbillo, Via dei Tribunali, 32, 80138 Naples.

May favourites: 5 Italian food idioms that will make you smile

It’s over, my long months spent at home in Italy are coming to an end, and I will be finally moving back to London in a couple of weeks, with mixed feelings and few quids in my pocket. Right now I have too many worries that won’t leave me alone and, consequently, I rapidly find myself stuck on ideas about what to write about. I tried everything, but I still haven’t found a method to overcome creative block, because apparently nothing seems to turn my brain off, the real culprit of the self censorship I apply on my “stream of consciousness”.

While thinking about not to think I accidentally dropped a bottle of water and my mom sarcastically told me: “your hands are made of ricotta”. I laughed first, but then I thought it would be interesting to share with non-Italian speakers my favourite Italian idioms about food. Oh and by the way, hands made of ricotta is the equivalent in English of being a butterfingers.

  • “Friggere con l’acqua”, literally “frying with water”, means trying to achieve something without the necessary economic means, being stingy but still attempting at doing something that would require money. It often happened to me to be invited to dinner and compliment the host on their food and hear: “Well, thanks, we do not fry with water”, meaning they prepared everything without cutting corners.
  • “Essere come il prezzemolo”, literally “to be like parsley”, meaning to be everywhere considering that parsley is the most used herb in the kitchen. Lately this expression is often referred to “celebrities” or even better to people from reality shows who don’t have any particular skills but are constantly on television, newspapers and/or the internet.
  • “Preso con le mani nella marmellata”, literally “to be caught with the hands in the marmalade jar”, meaning to be caught doing something wrong or forbidden. This expression originated from the love that kids have for sweet food and when, back in the day, they didn’t have nutella or oreos, they used to snack on bread with marmalade, but not too much. So they were tempted to steal the marmalade and often caught with their hands in the jar, doing exactly what they were forbidden to do.
  • “Cercare il pelo nell’uovo”, literally “to look for a piece of hair inside an egg”, meaning to be a fussy, meticulous person who always looks for imperfections in every single situation. The expression comes from the impossibility of finding a piece of hair inside an egg.
  • “Gallina vecchia fa buon brodo”, literally “the old hen makes a good broth”. This idiom refers to a woman who is no longer young but has acquired wisdom over the years. Something tells that I’ll use this for myself in the future, distant distant distant future.

These are my 5 favourite Italian idioms about food, but there are many more as in any other culture, which I’m curious to know, so please leave me a comment to quench my thirst for knowledge.

Hope to get rid of creative block as soon as I can.

 

And now in Italian.

E’ quasi finita, i miei lunghi mesi passati a casa in Italia stanno arrivando al termine visto che fra qualche settimana mi trasferirò di nuovo a Londra con sentimenti contrastanti e poche sterline in tasca. In questo momento ho troppi pensieri che non mi lasciano in pace e, di conseguenza, mi ritrovo senza idee su cosa scrivere. Ho provato di tutto, ma non ho ancora trovato un metodo per superare questo blocco, perché a quanto pare nulla sembra riuscire ad azzittire il mio cervello, che poi è il vero e unico colpevole della censura che ferma il mio ” flusso di coscienza”.

Mentre pensavo a come smettere di pensare, mi è caduta una bottiglia d’acqua dalle mani e mia mamma mi ha subito detto: “hai le mani di ricotta“. A parte la risata iniziale, ho pensato che sarebbe stato interessante condividere con i lettori non italiani i miei 5 modi dire preferiti riguardo il cibo.

  • Friggere con l’ acqua: significa cercare di ottenere un risultato pur non avendo i mezzi economici necessari. Spesso mi è successo di essere invitata a cena e di complimentarmi con i padroni di casa per la bontà delle portate preparate. Quasi sempre mi è stato risposto: “Grazie, mica friggiamo con l’acqua”, cioè tutto è stato preparato come si deve.
  • Essere come il prezzemolo, cioè essere ovunque visto che il prezzemolo è l’erba aromatica più utilizzata in cucina. Ultimamente questa espressione è spesso usata per descrivere varie “celebrità” o meglio (peggio?) ancora partecipanti di vari reality show che non hanno alcuna abilità particolare, ma sono costantemente in televisione, sui giornali e / o su Internet .
  • Essere presi con le mani nella marmellata, nel senso di essere sorpresi a fare qualcosa di sbagliato o vietato. Questa espressione è nata dall’amore che i bambini hanno per i dolci e quando non c’erano le merendine, l’unico dolce che ci si poteva concedere era pane e marmellata, ma ovviamente non troppo. Quindi la tentazione più grande era quella di rubare la marmellata ma spesso si veniva colti sul fatto.
  • Cercare il pelo nell’uovo, descrive una persona meticolosa ed esigente che cerca sempre di imperfezioni in ogni situazione. L’espressione deriva dall’impossibilità di trovare un pelo nell’uovo, visto che niente potrebbe penetrare il suo guscio.
  • Gallina vecchia fa buon brodo. Questa espressione si riferisce a una donna che non è più giovane, ma ha acquisito esperienza e saggezza nel corso degli anni. Qualcosa dice che userò questo modo di dire in un lontano, lontano, lontano futuro.

Questi sono i miei cinque modi di dire preferiti sul cibo, ma ce ne sono molti di più sia in nella cultura italiana, sia nelle altre. Se ne conoscete qualcuno, lasciatemi un commento.
Spero davvero di sbloccare le mie idee prima possibile.

Sunday pastries, an Italian classic

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Memories come back unannounced, unexpectedly, leaving us amazed at how daily routine distracts us.

I was in Norwich, packing my suitcase to fly back home in Italy the next day, but I desperately needed a padlock, because some nice guy at Rome airport cut the one I had, apparently to do some security checks. Just to clarify, I wasn’t smuggling anything else than Parmigiano.

So while I was looking for a suitable padlock at the hardware store, I started talking to the owner who was happy to help someone who – you could definitely tell – was not in her usual context. He asked me where I was going to and as soon as I said I was going back home in Italy, he said: “Well then bring me back some Sunday pastries, that’s how they’re called, right?” Sunday pastries? Bam! epiphany! and I’m back to my childhood again.

Sunday pastries are all those desserts, namely pastries or monoportion cakes that are covered and/or filled with cream, custard or fruit just to name a few. These pastries are usually eaten after the Sunday lunch with the entire family and represent a childhood memory common to many Italians. Well, at least until metabolism or diabetes strikes.

I remember I couldn’t wait for the priest to pronounce the end of the Mass, so we could go straightaway to our most trusted Pasticceria (patisserie) where the ritual could get started and my senses awaken. First, as I opened the door I could smell the reassuring fragrance of sugar and vanilla, a promise of what was going to happen next. Then I used to spend a couple of minutes staring at all the types of pastries because I was fascinated by their shapes and their bright colours, as I couldn’t believe they were handmade only using simple ingredients. I didn’t give much thought at this at the time, but maybe that’s how my passion for baking started.

My mother knew I loved that moment, so she allowed me to chose and indicate to the nice lady what pastries we wanted to end the meal with: cannolo for me, millefeuille for my father, my mother’s favourite sfogliatella (shell shaped pastries filled with sweetened ricotta) and a fruit tart for Nonna.

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Without any doubt, every child like myself waited patiently the end of the lunch, to finally tear up the wrapping paper around the cardboard tray and then resume the ritual of the senses that was suspended in Pasticceria. I used to take my cannolo and then enjoy the sound of puff pastry cracking under the fork and followed by the eruption of sweetened ricotta. The actual taste of the pastry was of course excellent, but it was the whole experience that made it special.

Unfortunately, growing up and leaving home changes the daily life, so moments become memories buried in some hidden angle of our minds until someone or something makes us remember. There we are, again, older and nostalgic but with our bellies always full.

Enjoy your Sunday.

And now in Italian.

I ricordi tornano senza preavviso, inaspettatamente, e ci lasciano stupiti di quanto siamo distratti dalla routine della vita quotidiana.

Mi ricordo che ero a Norwich e stavo preparando la valigia per tornare a casa in Italia il giorno dopo. Avevo un disperato bisogno di un lucchetto, perché prima del viaggio di andata, qualche addetto alla sicurezza dell’aeroporto di Roma ha tranciato quello che avevo, apparentemente per fare alcuni controlli di sicurezza. C’è da dire, però, che non stavo contrabbando altro che del Parmigiano.

Così, mentre cercavo un lucchetto adatto alla mia valigia, ho iniziato a parlare con il proprietario della ferramenta, che era felice di darmi una mano, anche perché si vedeva che ero come un pesce fuor d’acqua. Mi ha chiesto dove stessi andando e appena gli ho risposto che sarei andata a casa in Italia, mi ha subito risposto: “Beh, allora quando torni portami le paste della domenica. Si chiamano così, giusto?” Paste della domenica? Bam! che ricordo! ed eccomi di nuovo bambina.

Non vedevo l’ora che il prete pronunciasse: “La messa è finita, andate in pace.”,per andare subito alla nostra pasticceria di fiducia, così che il rituale potesse iniziare e coinvolgere tutti i sensi. Per prima cosa, una volta aperta la porta della pasticceria già il solo profumo rassicurante di zucchero e vaniglia mi rendeva felice, perché era una promessa di ciò che stava per accadere. Poi stavo lì un paio di minuti, a fissare tutti i tipi di paste, perché ero affascinata dalle loro forme i loro colori vivaci. Non potevo credere che fossero fatte a mano utilizzando pochi semplici ingredienti. Non ci ho dato molto peso a quel tempo, ma forse è così che è nata la mia passione per la pasticceria.

Mia madre sapeva che amavo quel momento, così lei mi faceva scegliere e indicare alla simpatica pasticciera quali fossero le paste che volevo consumare con la mia famiglia: un cannolo per me, la diplomatica per mio padre, la sfogliatella per mamma, e una crostatina con crema e frutta per Nonna.

Senza alcun dubbio, ogni bambino come me attendeva pazientemente la fine del pranzo, per strappare finalmente la carta che avvolgeva il vassoio, e quindi per riprendere il rituale dei sensi che era stato sospeso dal pasto domenicale. Ricordo che prendevo il mio cannolo e mi godevo il suono della sfoglia croccante a contatto con la forchetta, seguito da un’eruzione di ricotta zuccherata. Il sapore vero e proprio della pasta era ovviamente eccellente, ma era tutta l’esperienza che rendeva speciale il momento.

Purtroppo, crescere e andare via di casa cambia la vita quotidiana, così i momenti preziosi diventano ricordi sepolti in qualche angolo nascosto della nostra mente, fino a quando qualcuno o qualcosa ci fa ricordare. E all’improvviso torniamo indietro nel tempo, ma più vecchi, più nostalgici e con la pancia sempre piena.
Buona Domenica.

“Agnello Cacio e Ova” (Lamb, Cheese and Eggs) a typical Molisan recipe for Easter

I started The Weird Frittata with the intention to talk about food and the industry that gravitates around it.This means I have deliberately chosen not to write recipes, first because there are millions of blogs that outstandingly do this already. Secondly, because I am a perfectionist and I think that I still have a lot to learn before giving directions and advices. However, I promised myself to share with my readers stories and traditions about Molise, the Italian region I come from, and this time it’s a recipe. This could be seen as a contradiction, but I actually chose to share a particular recipe not only because it’s an important part of Easter traditions in Molise, but also because the dish I’m going to talk about, is unlikely to be translated into English or even in Italian cookbooks.

The recipe takes its name from three fundamental ingredients, in fact Agnello Cacio e Ova can be translated from dialect as Lamb, Cheese and Eggs. Lamb and eggs are strong symbols of the Easter traditions, in fact Lamb represents the young generation of the flock and it is therefore associated with Jesus Christ. As for eggs, they were considered as the symbol of life since the beginning of human history, assuming the metaphorical meaning of eternal life in the Christian tradition later on. As a lucky coincidence, lamb and eggs are typical products of Molise, whose mountainous landscapes have allowed, throughout the centuries, the development of an economy largely based on agriculture and farming.

And what about cheese, you may ask. Sheep breeding in Molise was, and still is aimed at dairy production, therefore pecorino cheese is mainly used in this recipe as a traditional ingredient. However, as it often happens, each family has their own variation, so the cheese may differ according to the recipe. For example, in my Nonna’s recipe pecorino is substituted with grated Parmigiano but I assure you the final result won’t lose to the original one.

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“Agnello Cacio e Ova” 

Ingredients for 6 people:

  • 1 whole deboned and diced lamb leg
  • 10 eggs
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 300 gr of grated Parmigiano
  • 300 gr of breadcrumbs
  • white wine
  • rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Directions:

Take a medium cake tin and sizzle the diced lamb, garlic and rosemary in olive oil. When the meat looks nice and brown, add a splash of white wine and wait for it to be evaporated. Then set aside and wait until it cools down. Take out both the rosemary and the garlic but leave the meat in the tin.

While waiting, beat the eggs with the lemon juice, Parmigiano, salt and pepper. Add the breadcrumbs little by little, so that the final mixture would result neither runny nor dry.

Pour the egg mixture over the lamb into the cake tin until the meat is covered and give it a stir.

Bake in preheated oven at 200° until the cake becomes amber coloured. At this point low the temperature to 140° and cook for another 10 minutes.

The final result has to look like a sponge cake. Or a giant, meaty frittata.

Happy Easter!

And now in Italian.

Ho iniziato a scrivere su The Weird Frittata con l’intenzione di parlare di cibo e le varie sfaccettature del mondo che gira intorno ad esso. Tutto ciò significa che ho volutamente scelto di non scrivere un blog di ricette, per due motivi: primo, perché ci sono già milioni di blog su cui trovare tutte le dritte per realizzare piatti straordinari. Poi perché, fondamentalmente, sono una perfezionista e penso di avere ancora molto da imparare prima di dare indicazioni e consigli su come preparare un determinato piatto. Tuttavia, mi sono ripromessa di condividere con i miei lettori storie e tradizioni riguardanti il Molise, la regione da cui provengo, e questa volta si tratta di una ricetta. E’ una contraddizione direte, ma in realtà ho scelto di condividere una ricetta particolare, non solo perché si tratta di un piatto fondamentale nella tradizione pasquale molisana, ma anche perché è impossibile trovare questa ricetta nei libri di cucina. E anche quelle che ci sono in rete, indicano un piatto simile, ma della tradizione abbruzzese.

La ricetta prende il nome dai suoi tre ingredienti fondamentali: agnello, formaggio e uova. L’agnello e l’uovo sono importanti simboli delle tradizioni pasquali, infatti l’agnello rappresenta la giovane generazione del gregge ed è, quindi, associato con Gesù Cristo come figlio di Dio. Per quanto riguarda le uova, esse sono considerate il simbolo della vita fin dall’inizio della storia dell’umanità, assumendo, con il passare dei secoli, il significato metaforico di vita eterna nella tradizione cristiana. Per una fortunata coincidenza, agnello e uova sono i prodotti tipici del Molise, i cui paesaggi montani hanno permesso, nel tempo, lo sviluppo di un’economia quasi interamente basata su agricoltura e allevamento.

E il formaggio? vi chiederete. L’allevamento di ovini in Molise era, ed è ancora mirato non solo alla macellazione, ma soprattutto alla produzione lattiero-casearia. Per questo motivo il formaggio pecorino viene utilizzato nella ricetta come ingrediente tradizionale del territorio.

Come spesso accade, ogni famiglia ha la sua ricetta che spesso presenta delle varianti. Per esempio, mia Nonna preferisce usare il Parmigiano al posto del pecorino, ma vi assicuro che il risultato finale non perde affatto di sapidità. Questo è ciòche accade quando si può contare su materie prime di qualità.

Agnello Cacio e Ova

Ingredienti per circa 6 persone:

  • 1 cosciotto di agnello disossato e tagliato a cubetti
  • 10 uova
  • il succo di 1 limone
  • 2 spicchi di aglio
  • 300 gr di Parmigiano grattugiato
  • 300 gr di mollica di pane finemente tritata
  • vino bianco
  • rosmarino
  • sale e pepe
  • olio d’oliva

Procedimento:

Prendete uno stampo rotondo per torte e fate soffriggere l’agnello tagliato a dadini insieme all’aglio e il rosmarino in olio d’oliva. Quando la carne si colora, aggiungete una spruzzata di vino bianco e attendete che evapori. Poi mettete da parte e aspettate che si raffreddi. Lasciate la carne nello stampo, ma non dimenticate di togliere l’aglio e il rosmarino.

Nel mentre sbattete le uova con il succo di limone, il Parmigiano, sale e pepe. Versate la mollica poco alla volta e regolate la quantità, poiché Il composto non deve risultare troppo liquido ma nemmeno troppo asciutto.

Versate il composto di uova sopra l’agnello nella tortiera fino a coprire la carne. Date una mescolata e fate cuocere in forno preriscaldato a 200 ° fino a quando la “torta” diventerà ambrata. A questo punto abbassate la temperatura a 140 ° e cuocete per altri 10 minuti.

Deve assumere l’aspetto un Pan di Spagna. O una frittata gigante.

Buona Pasqua!

Confessions of a cheeseaholic

formaggi2

Photo: Dan

“Hi, my name is Francesca and I have a problem: I am a cheeseaholic.”

“Hi, Francesca”

Well, there’s nothing weird you might say, everybody loves cheese, even the poor lactose intolerant who reluctantly give it up. Yes true that, but I’m not referring to the bright yellowish/orangeish processed thing that you’ll find in cheap cheeseburgers. That’s not even cheese in my humble opinion, in fact sometimes I wonder what’s the real percentage of milk among the zillion of other chemicals in it.

What I really have passion for, is the good stuff of course, the artisan aged cheeses produced with care, time and patience. This slow process guarantees the full development of texture and flavours which vary not only according to different production methods, but, most of all, also to the grass that cows/sheeps/goats graze.

What’s so shameful about loving good cheeses? Well, first of all I’m the one who would pick cheese over a big slice of chocolate cake. Yes, boo for me. Secondly, and more importantly, I am known to my family and friends to select cheeses according to their aroma, or I should say, their stink. Because usually, the more they stink, the better their flavour is.

pecorino fossa

Pecorino di Fossa
Photo: Turismo Emilia Romagna

My father in law once bought an amazing pecorino di fossa, lit. “cheese of the pit” a type of cheese made with sheep’s milk and aged in underground pits. He went to the store asking every shop assistant for the stinkiest cheese they got, because “My daughter in law eats only stinky cheeses”. No need to say I never went back to that store ever since for how ashamed I was, even though everything my father in law said was completely true.

Anyway this pecorino had a bright yellow crust that faded to a paler shade towards the centre of the entire wheel of cheese. The smell was sharp and pungent like some football player’s sweaty socks after a match. Now, I know it may seem gross for the majority of people and although I’m not really a fan of that scent either, I have to admit it was the promise of an excellent flavour. When I put a tiny crumble into my mouth, I was overwhelmed by the robust and rich flavour that this cheese had, as I thought. So I had to go further and try to enhance that sensation even more, pairing that pecorino with honey. Usually cheeses can be paired with either honey or fruit sauces, because their sweetness or acidity can cut the sharpness of cheese by creating a clear, but perfectly balanced, contrast between the two flavours.

gorgonzola dettaglio

Gorgonzola, detail.
Photo: arbyreed

stilton

Stilton
Photo: Victor Bayon

Another favourite type of cheese is the blue one: Roquefort, Stilton or my favourite Gorgonzola. Amazing on toasted bread or, combined with walnuts, as base for a sauce that is unbelievably good for risotto or pasta. Again we are talking about a type of cheese that, yes, is stinky but has a really powerful flavour. I just regret that I waited until my twenties to try blue cheeses, because I was kind of disgusted by the mould cultures added during their production.

Then, a cheese that I must never run out of: 24 month aged Parmigiano Reggiano. Its sharp and nutty flavour improves every dish, from pasta and risotto to soups, meat, you name it.

parmigiano forma

Parmigiano
Photo: Wonsun

Since I live between the UK and Italy, every time I have to go back to the rainy England I bring some food from home, which is allowed within the EU, so I’m not smuggling anything. My English friends always make fun of me and say: “Don’t you know that Parmigiano is sold here as well?”. Too bad it’s not available everywhere and even if I manage to find it, it’s unquestionably expensive.

parmigiano dettaglio

Parmigiano, detail.
Photo: Sisterbeer

Once I had a huge block, around 2 kilos, in my hand luggage. I made the huge mistake of wrapping it in aluminium foil, so as soon as I passed the security checks, the metal detector went off and I had to open my bag. The officer gave me a weird look asking why I was bringing such a huge block of Parmigiano into the UK. I don’t know if he was surprised or disgusted because I had clothes and cheese in the same bag, even though they were perfectly separated. Ashamed for the people around looking at me, I tried to reply something reasonable but then he just bursted into laughter, telling me I was doing the right thing, and that the Parmigiano block would have never made me feel homesick. He was right, at least until I ran out of cheese.

Now it’s clear that I really hope I will never turn to be lactose intolerant, because it would be really hard to give up cheese for the cheeseaholic like I am.

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And now in Italian.

“Ciao, mi chiamo Francesca e ho un problema: ho una dipendenza da formaggio. “

“Ciao, Francesca. “

Non c’è niente di strano, direte voi, tutti amano il formaggio, anche gli intolleranti al lattosio che purtroppo devono farne a meno. Va bene, ma quando dico che adoro il formaggio, non mi riferisco a quelle robe industriali dal dubbio colore giallo acceso che si mettono nei toast, oppure i formaggi spalmabili che, parole di mia zia, hanno il gusto di pomata per le orecchie (quindi l’ha assaggiata?). Io non li chiamerei nemmeno formaggi, infatti a volte mi chiedo quale sia la reale percentuale del latte in mezzo a quella giungla di sostanze chimiche di cui sono composti.

Quello che amo davvero è, naturalmente, la roba buona, i formaggi artigianali prodotti con cura, tempo e tanta pazienza. Questo lento processo garantisce il pieno sviluppo della loro consistenza e del sapore, che varia non solo in funzione dei diversi metodi di produzione, ma, soprattutto, anche dell’erba in cui mucche / pecore / capre pascolano e di cui si cibano.

Cosa c’è di così vergognoso nell’amare ottimi formaggi? Beh, prima di tutto il fatto che non avrei dubbi a preferire dei formaggi ad una fetta di torta al cioccolato. E poi, ho la brutta reputazione, tra parenti e amici, di scegliere i formaggi in base al loro odore. O forse dovrei dire puzza. Perché di solito, più puzzano, più hanno un sapore indescrivibile.

Proprio per questa mia “caratteristica”, mio suocero ha recentemente comprato un ottimo pecorino di fossa, cioè un tipo di formaggio prodotto con latte di pecora e lasciato invecchiare in pozzi sotterranei. Nel suo negozio di fiducia, ha espressamente chiesto ad ogni commessa quale fosse il formaggio più puzzolente che avessero, perché ” Mia nuora mangia solo i formaggi puzzolenti “. Non c’è bisogno di dire che non sono mai più andata in quel negozio perché mi vergonavo, anche se tutto ciò che mio suocero aveva detto, era palesemente vero.

Comunque questo pecorino aveva una crosta giallo brillante che gradualmente assumeva una tonalità più chiara verso il centro dell’intera forma. L’odore era acuto e pungente come i calzini sudati di un calciatore dopo 90 minuti di gioco. Ora, so che può sembrare disgustoso per la maggioranza delle persone, infatti nemmeno io sono una fan di quell’odore ma devo ammettere che prometteva un sapore eccellente. E avevo ragione, perché al primo assaggio, sono stata a dir poco sopraffatta dal sapore robusto e ricco di questo pecorino. Dovevo necessariamente andare oltre e cercare di migliorare quella sensazione ancora di più, e c’era solo una cosa da fare, gustarlo con il  miele. Di solito i formaggi possono essere abbinati sia con miele sia con salse di frutta, poiché la loro dolcezza o acidità va a spezzare la sapidità del formaggio, creando un netto contrasto tra i due sapori, che però si equilibrano alla perfezione.

Un’altra categoria di formaggi che preferisco, è quella degli erborinati: Roquefort, Stilton o il mio preferito, il Gorgonzola. Gli erborinati sono incredibili sulla bruschetta, o con le noci, come base di una salsa per risotti o pasta.

Anche in questo caso si tratta di prodotti dall’odore abbastanza importante e dal sapore pieno. Mi pento di averli “scoperti” solo intorno ai vent’anni a causa del mio rifiuto psicologico di mangiare muffa.

Un formaggio che non deve mai mancare in casa mia è il Parmigiano Reggiano, preferibilmente quello stagionato 24 mesi. Il suo sapore ricco ma equilibrato trasforma e arricchisce il gusto di ogni piatto: dalla pasta ai risotti, alle zuppe e i secondi di carne.

Da quando vivo tra il Regno Unito e l’Italia, ogni volta che devo tornare in Inghilterra porto con me un po’ di cibo, che è perfettamente legale all’interno dell’Unione Europea. E ogni volta, i miei amici inglesi mi prendono in giro dicendomi: “Pensi che il Parmigiano non sia venduto anche qui?”. Peccato che quello buono non si trovi ovunque e anche se riuscissi a trovarlo, non credo che potrei permettermelo, visti i prezzi esorbitanti che ci sono in giro.

Una volta ho portato nel bagaglio a mano un pezzo di Parmigiano molto grande e pesante, probabilmente di circa 2 chili. Purtroppo ho fatto l’errore madornale di avvolgerlo nell’alluminio, quindi ai i controlli di sicurezza, il metal detector si è messo a suonare e ho dovuto far controllare la mia valigia. L’addetto mi ha guardata in modo strano, chiedendomi perché stessi portando un pezzo enorme di Parmigiano nel Regno Unito. Non so se fosse sorpreso o disgustato dal fatto che avessi i vestiti e il formaggio nello stesso bagaglio, anche se erano perfettamente separati. Con tutte le persone intorno che mi guardavano, piena di vergogna, ho tentato di rispondere a qualcosa di sensato, ma poi lui è scoppiato a ridere, dicendomi che stavo facendo la cosa giusta e che il Parmigiano non mi avrebbe mai fatto sentire nostalgia di casa. E aveva ragione, almeno fino a quando il formaggio è durato.

Ora è chiaro che spero di non sviluppare mai un’intolleranza al lattosio, perché sarebbe davvero difficile rinunciare formaggio per una “drogata” come me.

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