Week 3 – Central Italy

This week I studied the cuisine of Central Italy. The menu consisted of Tagliatelle al Peperoncino (Red Pepper Tagliatelle), Melanzane Involtino (Eggplant Roll), Bruschetta, Pollo alla Toscana (Chicken Sauteed with Mushrooms), Polenta, Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese, and Tiramisu.

First, I didn’t add the crushed red pepper to the pasta however, I wouldn’t mind trying it sometime. Instead, I used the very simple recipe from Chef Bill which was 2 cups of flour and 4 eggs. Then, once I ran it through the pasta roller, I cut up some tagliatelle, fettucine and papardelle. I presented the papardelle with a simple tomato sauce and garnished with a chiffonade of basil. Chef said the pasta was cooked perfectly (i.e. slightly firm and not gummy at all). Since it seems an imperfect science, I was relieved.

Eggplant Rolatini was next. This recipe was a bit of a process. You must slice the eggplant somewhat thin, drizzle with oil and bake just so that it softens and is workable to roll. The recipe called to stuff it with prosciutto, but I only had ham so I wasn’t thrilled with the end result. Normally, I would stuff it with ricotta but the great part is that it can be filled with anything (within reason). The dish wasn’t a great success but I knew going in it would never live up to my grandmothers.

I will preface this entry by saying the Bruschetta was awesome. I’ve had bruschetta many times and it’s always been good, but the addition of Aioli to the bread was a stroke of genius. I’m upset that I didn’t come up with that idea myself. And roasting the garlic is definitely key to the flavor.

Pollo alla Toscana was a good dish. I’m not a real fan of mushrooms but the addition of sage brought out a nice flavor. Although I am of italian heritage, my family and I rarely ever use sage and you must be careful not to use too much because it is a very potent herb. I think this dish lacked a bit of flavor and maybe needed a hint of salt and pepper. But I coiuld see where they were going with the recipe.

With the Polenta I decided to use the Roman Gnocchi presentation and unfortunately the butter sauce broke. But as from a previous post, you get the idea. I’ve never made polenta before but enjoyed it. I wish I had put more salt in it because it was a bit bland. I find that the polenta can be a great starch used in the presentation of the dish and hope to incorporate it in other presentations.

What can I say about asparagus with parmesan cheese? It’s asparagus with parmesan cheese. It was good and I enjoy asparagus and the addition of the grated cheese lifts it up a bit. Not much else to say here. I guess it’s simply, you need to eat your vegetables.

Finally, it’s time for dessert. And on the menu is Tiramisu. One of my favorites. I adjusted the recipe and created a pudding type tiramisu and served it in a martini glass with the lady fingers. The recipe only calls for mascarpone, vanilla extract, coffee and marsala wine. The vanilla helps with the traditional tiramisu flavor. After that, I added heavy cream mixed with powdered sugar to sweeten the mascarpone mixture. Once I got a nice pudding consistency, I rolled the cookies in coffee, added them to the glass and topped it with the tiramisu and sprinkled cocoa. The finished product? A masterpiece. I love the presentation of this dessert and so do many people I’ve served this to. It’s fun and delicious.

Published in: on January 29, 2011 at 2:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

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