World Nutella Day

Photo 1

What is Nutella?  Nutella is that heavenly chocolate-hazelnut spread that you find everywhere in Italy - a staple on both the breakfast table and as a spread on a pizza for dessert.  I first encountered Nutella while backpacking through Europe many moons ago.  As the train pulled into Italy, I realized that I had finished my trusty jar of peanut butter that I had had in my backpack (I was 22...and on a budget).  Perusing the shelves of the supermarket, I quickly realized that Italy had not yet discovered peanut butter... but, there was a jar of something spreadable with a nut on it... and chocolate, which I figured I could suffer through....

Flash forward 15 years and Nutella is now banned in my house, much to my husband's dismay.   It falls into the category of "Once you pop, you can't stop." And, let's face it - for all the promoting the Italian National Soccer team does to push the product as a healthy start to your day, this stuff is packed with hydrogenated oils, sugar, and obviously calories.  It is now something that appears only on a birthday... or if we need new glassware.

Photo 2Glassware?  Oh, yes.  Open the cupboard of anyone's kitchen in Italy and you surely find a collection of fine Nutella glassware.  If you purchase the super-sized Nutella it will come in a plastic tub, the normal size however is always sold in a glass.  The glasses come either plain (for when you have guests over), or painted with the latest animated character or sports figure.... now that I think about it the new 2014 Winter Olympic glasses should be coming out just about now.... I might just have to splurge....

**The local option:  Artisan chocolate producers in Italy have now started to make their own chocolate spreads (or Nutella ripoffs, as my husband lovingly calls them).  One of my favorite producers is Pasticceria Muzzi, based out of Foligno here in Umbria.  Apart from the classic chocolate-hazelnut, they also make a wide variety of flavors which can be sampled in their stores, but I'll save you some time - go for the Pistacchio!

Muzzi-Creme-spalmabili-gianduia-e-granella-di-nocciole-2 Muzzi-Creme-spalmabili-gianduia-e-granella-di-nocciole


Ciao Thyme Culinary Intensive: Umbria

Spring has just sprung... but we are already thinking about Autumn!

Ciao Thyme of Bellingham, WA, in collaboration with me at Life...Italian Style present an Umbrian Culinary Intensive from October 20-28, 2011!

Itinerary:

Thursday, October 20:  Checking into the Trampetti Villa, Foligno
Welcome dinner catered by Ciao Thyme ‘Italia’

Friday, October 21:  The International EuroChocolate Festival; Perugina Chocolate Factory Private Tour; Hands-on Class and Dinner at the Villa

Saturday, October 22:  Countryside drive to Orvieto; Explore the city of Orvieto above and underground.

Sunday, October 23:  City Tour and Outdoor Market in Assisi; Lunch at La Stalla in Assisi; Drive over Mt Subasio; Hands-on Class and Dinner at the Villa

Monday, October 24Trampetti Olive Harvest and picnic lunch followed by olive pressing and olive oil tasting;  Dinner at Vesuvio Pizzeria in Foligno

Tuesday, October 25:  Cheesemaking and Saffron Picking in Cascia; Salumi galore in the famous salumi-making town of Norcia; Dinner at the Palazzo Seneca

Wednesday, October 26:  Tour 200-acre Chianina farm;  Hands-on lunch at farm; Terre Margaritelli winery tour/tasting; Dinner at L’Alchemista in Montefalco

Thursday, October 27:  A day of rest.  Take a train to a small town, enjoy a horse ride or a bicycle tour; Hands-on Class and Dinner at the Villa

Friday, October 28:  The grand visit to the Mostra Mercato Nazionale del Tartufo Bianco; Lunch at Taverna del Lupo, Farwell dinner at the Villa.

Contact Ciao Thyme for details!


Pizza Night at Villa Trampetti

IMG_2661

We finally got around to having a real pizza night at Villa Trampetti, located in the olive grove covered hills above Foligno.  The villa is a restructured convent, dating back to the 13th century.  So naturally, it has cave which was used as a refrigerator/curing room, the remains of a trough where the animals drank (which is now drawing room), and a big stone oven built into the kitchen... perfect for making pizza!

This fall, during the grape harvest, I had made a bread starter from scratch using Sangiovese grapes (and the method of Nancy Silverton).  The following recipe calls for the natural bread starter and the use of a wood fired oven for a real Pizza Napoletana.  If you are making pizza in your home oven, and without a your own bread starter, use/add 30g brewers yeast, 2 tbs sugar, and 100g lard (rising times will be less).

PIZZA DOUGH RECIPE:

  • 250g warm water
  • 10g brewer's yeast
  • 120g sourdough bread starter
  • small pinch of sugar
  • 200g '00' flour
  • 300-400g '0' flour
  • 10g salt
  • 1 tbs olive oil

In a bowl, combine water, yeasts, and sugar.  Add 200g '00' flour and 300g '0' flour.  Mix well.  Add salt and olive oil.  Knead well on a wooden board for about 10 minutes, adding flour if necessary until the pasta ball is smooth.  Put dough into a lightly floured bowl,  cover with a warm, damp towel, and leave in a warm place to rise for about 1.5-2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.  Cut dough into 4 or 5 pieces and work in to balls.  Place dough balls onto lightly floured tray.  Cover with warm, damp towel, and leave in a warm place to rise for about 7 hours.

If you are using a stone or brick wood-fired oven, I recommend lighting it the night before, to obtain a more constant heat.

I never use a rolling pin on my pizza dough, as it takes out some of the air we just worked so hard to get.  Instead either use the tips of your fingers to form the pies, or stretch the dough in the air with your hands,  turning the dough in a circular motion.

Then put on whatever toppings you like - here are some classics:

  • Pizza Margarita:  tomato sauce and mozzarella
  • Bufalina:  tomato sauce and bufalo mozzarella
  • Patata: rosemary and potato
  • alla Cannarese:  rosemary and onion
  • alla Diavola:  tomato sauce, mozzarella, and spicy salami (pepperoni)

In a hot pizza oven, the pizza should cooked between 90-120 seconds.  Buon Appetito!


A Simple Thanksgiving for 50

IMG_3208

Choosing which holiday to spend in which country can be difficult, but after 3 years, I've got it down:

Christmas: USA - Umbria is so lacking in Christmas spirit that it makes me almost miss the commercialism of America, plus, you can't beat shopping the Christmas sales when you are buying with the Euro! 

New Years: Italy - I love the big multi-multi-multi course end of the year dinner! (skip the cotechino though....)

Easter: could go either way - I can definitely live without Easter breakfast in Umbria - a hard boiled egg, salami, lamb-innard stew (which I like, but not first thing in the morning), and the dry dry dry Pizza di Pasqua, which looks like a delicious cheese brioche, but its the driest, worst bread in the world.  Lunch/dinner is another story - whole baby lamb or goat roasted over the fire, fried artichokes, more innard stew, and lots of other good stuff! However, I do like a good honey baked ham, easter baskets, and all things easter bunny!

4th of July:  another either way - obviously the spirit lies in America, but its fun to try to recreate here in Itay - plus it gives Italians a chance to eat a real burger, not the weird gross little patty things they have here.  (and of course the burgers are good - Americans only know how to cook and eat hamburgers anyway, right? McDonalds, right???)

Halloween:  USA - its a new holiday here - and there are no mini-Snickers.

Thanksgiving is one of the holidays that I don't mind spending abroad, because I've found that Italians get just as excited about it as we do.  Who doesn't love the sight of a giant stuffed turkey???  This year at Trattoria Basilikó we even had a turkey carving race!

Here's what you need to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for 50 in Italy:

  • 45 pounds of turkey
  • 2 old hens for broth
  • 10 pounds of butter (unheard of in olive oil-only umbria)
  • 12 liters of heavy cream
  • 3 loaves of Pugliese style bread - the saltless bread of umbria will not work for stuffing
  • 13 pounds of cippollini from Cannara for creamed onions
  • 25 pounds of potatoes for mash (actually, more - Italians eat mashed potatoes like they are going out of style)
  • 11 pounds of brussel sprouts - special request item
  • 10 pounds of sweet potatoes, or "American Potatoes"  - another special request item - and they only have the white kind
  • 20 pounds of whatever root vegetables you can find - difficult because everything has the same name - rape (RA-pay)
  • cranberry sauce - sent from USA - enough for personal use only - the thought of eating any kind of jelly with meat makes Italians absolutely sick!
  • 6 cans of pumpkin puree - also sent from USA - there is no differentiating between different kinds of squash here in umbria - every type is called zucca - trying to ask for butternut or delicata or kabocha is futile - don't even try for sugar pie pumpkins - if they exist here, they exist only to be carved on halloween!
  • a good egg nog recipe - the Italians were so-so about the egg nog, some liked it, some just didn't get it - the only person who loved it (and finished off everone's glass at her table) was a tall, thin, model-like girl from Romania - you never know!

4th of July at Basilikó!!!

4 LUGLIO - INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!
GIORNO DELL'INDIPENDENZA AMERICANA

***********

ANTIPASTI A STELLE E STRISCE
***********
***********
HAMBURGER DI CHIANINA
***********
***********
APPLE PIE
(TORTA DI MELA)
***********
***********
€20 a persona
escluse bevande
**********
**********
Se volete mangiare all'aperto nel vicolo
affrettatevi a prenotare!!!
 
Vi aspettiamo numerosi!!!
 
**********
Jennifer e Cristiana
 

2 Events this Week at Basilikó!

L’Orto Bio Logico Ariel e la Trattoria Basilikò presentano

DALL’ORTO ALLA TAVOLA
Una serata BIO-LOGICA
alla scoperta dei sapori provenienti dalla nostra terra

protagonista: il CAVOLO NERO

insalata di cavolo nero con caprino del pastore
involtino di cavolo nero
“caldo verde” zuppa portoguese
gratìn di cavolo nero

€ 30 (compreso vino, cibo, discorsi, tutto!)
Mercoledì 25 febbraio
Ore 20:30

********************************
La Trattoria Basilikò in collaborazione con Bengodi
E La Cantina Zaccagnini presentano

“La Montanara”
Alla scoperta dell’ Appennino Abruzzese
   
Ventricina del Vastese
Pecorino di Farindola
Crostini alla Chietina
Pallotte Cace e Ove
Pizz’ e Fojie
Pecora al Cotturo
I Bocconotti
*******
€ 30 a persona
Tutto incluso

Venerdì 27 febbraio
Ore 20:30

Prenotazione Obbligatoria!