Articles

Jan’s Tuscan style lasagne

I've always said that Jan makes a wonderful Lasagne, this has been borne out time and again by the feedback forms from our cheese making courses, they all comment on the food. At last I have persuaded Jan to write down two of her more successful recipes, starting with her Lasagne, but look out for the Lemon Posset recipe, it will transport you to another world.

Like a lot of Italian foods and sauces, the recipe starts with a Soffritto, this is a very solid foundation to build an Italian sauce on.

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How to make Bresaola

Having recently started to make Charcuterie (see Coppa and Salami recipes), I just had to try Bresaola. Bresaola is very popular in Italy as an essential inclusion to their cold meat platters. It is salt cured similar to Coppa, but uses a piece of Beef muscle as opposed to the Pork muscle used in Coppa.

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Caponata Triangles

Caponata is a Sicilian Aubergine or Eggplant dish which we discovered years ago whilst on holiday in Sicily. For me, as a devout carnivore, it was a revelation, I had no idea that vegetarian food could be so delicious. It was served up to us as an appetiser, however, we now eat it at home as a main meal, especially in the summer when the allotment is producing so many Italian vegetables (I always have an Italian section to grow Tomatoes, Aubergines, Peppers, Chillies, Courgettes, herbs and Italian Greens).

This meal came about after making a stuffing for Roasted Peppers, so whilst based on a Caponata recipe it also has some rice in the dish. I can however tell you, whilst not true to tradition, the triangles are delicious, either as a main course, with salad(fig 1) or just as a snack(fig 2).

Figure 1 Figure 2

 

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Vincotto

As someone who dislikes waste, I am always up for recycling. Also, I have the sort of mind that says, "Oh, that sounds interesting, I wonder if I can make that?" I was watching a cookery programme the other day and they mentioned making wine syrup from left over wine. Vincotto is the Italian version of wine syrup.

The first question was; what left over wine? Later I thought, interesting, I must have a go at that. The second question was; where do I get the wine?

Writings suggest that the syrup can be used to drizzle on Ice Cream, Cake, Fruit or Yoghurt, but the part I was interested in was the suggestion that it could be an alternative for Balsamic Vinegar – now you're talking!

Some will remember that this year, again, I made "Château Allotment" red wine from the grapes grown on my allotments. This wine was only ever going to be a low alcohol table wine. Though acceptable, because we have so many good wines in our cellar, the likelihood was that I would make red wine vinegar with this product, so I took two bottles from the rack and made Vincotto with it.

Here is how I made it:

A normal 75 cl bottle of wine holds about 4.5 cups; therefore, using a ratio of 3 cups of wine to 1 cup of granulated sugar put everything in a pan and set to boil, stirring occasionally to ensure the wine absorbs the sugar.

Once the pan has reached boiling point, reduce the heat to allow for a gentle simmer; continue to stir until the mix is reduced by about two thirds and is taking on a sheen on the back of the spoon. Taste the liquid, it should be sweet.

Allow the liquid to cool and bottle and place in the refrigerator.

If you are looking to use this as an alternative for Balsamic Vinegar, I found the syrup a little too sweet for this. I therefore put a couple of drops of Malt vinegar in the bottle and shook it to mix.

However, if you are just looking for an intense, mature, adult sweet taste of grapes, leave out the malt vinegar. It will surprise your friends if drizzled over a fruit or an ice cream dessert.

The picture below is the end result of my two bottles of vino.

 

Vincotto

Veal Meatballs with Rich Tomato Sauce

Though this recipe uses Veal, obviously other minced meats can be used, they may however require a change in the seasoning and herb content. This recipe is, I think, a wonderfully delicious use of an undervalued meat, the use of Veal gives a lovely delicate balance to the meal.

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Coppa (Italian salt cured pork)

I have to admit it, I can become fascinated by certain aspects of food production. At present, because of my love for all things Italian, I have started to make cured meats or Charcuterie / Salumi. For those who don't recognise the word Salumi, it means cured joints of meat rather than the minced sausages (Salami). Coppa is just such a thing, taken from the centre of the pork shoulder it forms a solid piece of meat to cure and carve.

Read more: Coppa (Italian salt cured pork)