madonna del piatto

Italian family cooking


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olive oil and wine ciambelline cookies

light, crispy and fragrant of fennel and anise ciambelline

light, crispy ciambelline, fragrant of fennel and anise

What an exciting and busy time this is! Summer is finished and fall has descended on us with all its gorgeous beauty. Olive harvest is well underway. This year we are gifted by the much needed help of friends who have come all the way from Singapore for the event, how delightful!

It’s a lot of work but we are having a fabulous time. Beside picking, we have been doing a great deal of laughing, chatting, cooking and drinking. We’ll probably be ready  in one more day and then we’ll need to wait until next week for the pressing and bottling to enjoy our emerald liquid.

The only and real “Alla Madonna del Piatto olive oil“.

The last few B&B/cooking guests will be arriving this week-end for our first – of I hope many – Pasta and Vino Tour. We should actually call it Pasta and Vino and Olive oil tour as it will be heavy on the bruschetta ;).

Pasta and Vino

This is an extraordinary time to be here, wineries are buzzing with activity, there are food festivals and farmer markets in many of the hilltop villages. Olive mills are running 24/7, everybody is out and about with nets and ladders to pick olives until dusk. And if that was not enough, there are mushrooms, truffle, thick farro soups, polenta, pumpkin, fresh fennel and cime di rapa to add to the cornucopia of incredible foods available just now. Add the salami and life is perfect.

Last night, tired after a day of trodding up and down the hill, we prepared a light dish of homemade gnocchi with pesto and these cookies. The term ciambelline means small ring cookies. They are as “seasonal” as a cookie can get as they are made with wine and olive oil.  One can while the night away with a tray of these and a good bottle of sweet wine to deep them in.

Recipe

  • 450 gr (3 cups) 00 or pastry flour, better if organic and unbleached
  • 150 ml (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 150 ml (1/2 cup) white wine
  • 2 tablespoon anise seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 130 gr (1/2 cup)  light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup white regular sugar for coating

Preheat oven at 160 °C (340 ° F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place all dry ingredients – except the white sugar – in a food processor bowl. Using the blade at high speed, add the oil and wine and blend until most of the mixture forms a soft ball of dough, about 2 minutes.

If you don’t have a food processor or mixer, make the dough in a large bowl by hand and transfer on a lightly floured worktop.

Sprinkle the white sugar on a large flat plate or cutting board. On the worktop, roll the dough into 1.5 cm (1/2 inch) thick cylinders. Cut each cylinder into 10 cm (5 inch) pieces and roll them into the white sugar to coat.

roll the dough cycilinders in sugar, then form the rings

roll the dough cylinders in sugar, then form the rings

Pinch the ends of each cylinder together to form a ring.

Carefully arrange the rings on a the baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 min until just golden around the sides.

Cool on a wire rack and serve with sweet wine like a vinsanto, passito or marsala or a big mug of herbal tea.

Makes approx. 36 ciambelline.


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olio piccante

beautiful chilies on Taitu porcelain from my kitchen collection

beautiful chilies on Taitu porcelain from my kitchen collection

SPICY  OLIVE OIL. We call this “the democratic spicy oil” or “the family solution”. My daughter cannot stand spicy food, I adore everything “piccante”, that is seriously hot, my husband somewhere in between. So I always have a jar filled with very dry and hot chili peppers covered in olive oil. I keep it in a dark cool cabinet. After about a month the oil is very spicy, you can remove the chilies and use it by the drop on any food you like. It is not only spicy but it does taste very nice and authentically Mediterranean.

the "permanent" jar of dry chilies in olive oil

the "permanent" jar of dry chilies in olive oil


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potatoes in a salt crust

PATATE AL SALE. This is a completely no fuss dish, perfect for a larger dinner party.  In fact, it needs hardly any time to prepare, it can wait if someone is late, it’s fat free for those on a diet, and – to the non initiated – it even looks fancy in its own rustic way.
how to make potatoes in a salt crust

how to make potatoes in a salt crust

Recipe
  • 2 kg ( 4pounds) medium-small potatoes
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme
  • 2-3 pounds coarse salt
Preheat the oven at 200 C/400 F . Scrub the potatoes well in advance so they will be dry when you need to use them. Do not peel them. Place the rosemary over the bottom of an ovenproof dish and add the potatoes in a single layer. Pack the potatoes together closely and pour over just enough salt to cover them. Do not shake the dish, you do not want too much salt under the potatoes. Bake for about 45 min, or until they are tender (test with the prongs of a fork). Brush off the salt, split in two and serve immediately with a drizzle of real good EVO oil.
Slow cooking gives the best results, but the potatoes can be cooked at higher temperature (max  230 C/450 F ) for a shorter time. They keep warm for a long time under the salt crust, so you can prepare them up to one hour in advance
a simple potato dish enhanced by good extra virgin olive oil

a simple potato dish enhanced by good extra virgin olive oil

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