Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Cooking and Cuisine of Piemonte and Val d'Aosta


Kevin72
 Share

Recommended Posts

Nathan:

See the last post I added to the dining thread on Piemonte (look for "Filipot" in title) regarding current practice in restaurants versus the traditional succession of dishes from antipasti through dolci. Secondi are not always included.

To build upon the strengths of the region, you could provide an array of antipasti, your wonderful pasta, then either a salad and rich dessert or cheese, fruit and wine.

I would like to add something about a popular secondo, nonetheless:

VITELLO TONNATO.

I have long been using a recipe provided by Viana La Place and Evan Kleiman in Cucina fresca in which pollo is substituted. I have gotten to appreciate the sauce, especially, since it is made without mayonnaise, another ingredient traced to the relationship between French cooking and Piemontese dishes.

The two authors call mayonnaise a "modern" addition to a sauce that includes olive oil and lemon juice, but no egg. They base their version on a recipe provided by Pellegrino Artusi in an edition of La scienza della cucina.... from 1907.

I know Hathor said that she made her sformato with cream rather than the traditional white sauce. Anyone have any preferences concerning the use of mayonnaise in this dish?

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chufi-

Great looking dishes, those partridges look awsome! You beat me to the Cardoon sformato. I will be following the Batali recipe as well. The picture in the book shows a much smoother custard though. Did you coarsly shop the cardoons by hand?

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have cardoon envy at the moment.  I've never tried them in Italy and can't find them here :sad: .

I'm envious as well. I'd never seen nor tasted them until I grew some for myself in my garden last summer. The plants were imposing, and very bitter until late summer when the nights got cooler. Then they tasted similar to artichokes. I wish that it had occured to me to freeze some. They'd come in handy about now.

Since the sformato can be made with a creamy texture, perhaps you could substitute artichoke puree. It's not quite the same, but it might ease your pain somewhat.

April

One cantaloupe is ripe and lush/Another's green, another's mush/I'd buy a lot more cantaloupe/ If I possessed a fluoroscope. Ogden Nash

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The sformato looks like less bechamel sauce than Italians use... but looks great.

It also looks crustier... nice contrast.

I like sformati.. but they usually are so WHITE.yesterday I had a caulifower sformato at Cibreo's Teatro di Sale.. soft white cauliflower in smaller pieces.. creamy, baked in a rectangular pan with a nice melted parmesan cheese gratin on top.

I think one of the things is that Italians tend to over cook the vegetables, so when they are stirred into the sauce.. they fall apart, hence the smaller pieces.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nothing too fancy for my first contribution, dinner tonight was a Piedmontese "Zuppa di Ceci Tutti Santi" or Chickpea Soup for All Soul's Day. The recipe is from The Italian Country Table by Lynne Kasper. Very easy and satisfying on a cold friday night. I served it with extra olive oil, parmesan and homemade Italian Country bread.

gallery_5404_94_493523.jpg

Tongue to follow....hopefully Sunday dinner.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You beat me to the Cardoon sformato. I will be following the Batali recipe as well. The picture in the book shows a much smoother custard though. Did you coarsly shop the cardoons by hand?

I used the recipe from the foodnetwork website.. no picture there. The recipe says to cut the cardoon in 1/4 inch thick pieces, but I never know how much an inch is, I have to use my special inch ruler for that and I was to lazy to search for it so... the pieces were probably much thicker than they should have been.

The taste was really good though. I'm going to try out some more cardoon recipes soon!

Elie that soup looks good, I love chickpeasoup, but I have to say the bread looks even better!

Oh btw.. I'm making a mushroom timballo (Marcella Hazan's recipe) tonight.. is this a Piedmontese recipe.. it has fontina in it?? :smile: (just checking if I should post it in this thread...)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

made Bagnet Vert today.. bread soaked in vinegar, parsley, olive oil, garlic, anchovies, yolk of a hardboiled egg. While I was putting all the ingredients in the blender I realized I did not have enough parsley.. so this sauce is perhaps not as vert as it should be..

Served over slices of warm, boiled potatoes, with the eggwhite from the boiled egg crumbled on top.

gallery_21505_358_31381.jpg

Now I have a question about fontina. I bought some at a local cheese shop.. one i don't trust very much, but that day, it was the only place I could find it. It smells and tastes very strong. I used it in my mushroom timballo today, only a little bit, and I think it's overpowering the dish.. So I guess my question is.. what should good fontina taste like?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have cardoon envy at the moment.  I've never tried them in Italy and can't find them here :sad: .

I'm envious as well. I'd never seen nor tasted them until I grew some for myself in my garden last summer. The plants were imposing, and very bitter until late summer when the nights got cooler. Then they tasted similar to artichokes. I wish that it had occured to me to freeze some. They'd come in handy about now.

Since the sformato can be made with a creamy texture, perhaps you could substitute artichoke puree. It's not quite the same, but it might ease your pain somewhat.

April

April - did you blancH them? It is usual practice to wrap them in newspaper etc, so that they will not be so bitter. But this takes away their visual impact in the garden I guess.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm envious as well.  I'd never seen nor tasted them until I grew some for myself in my garden last summer.  The plants were imposing, and very bitter until late summer when the nights got cooler.  Then they tasted similar to artichokes.  I wish that it had occured to me to freeze some.  They'd come in handy about now. 

April

April - did you blancH them? It is usual practice to wrap them in newspaper etc, so that they will not be so bitter. But this takes away their visual impact in the garden I guess.

No, I didn't. By the time I found out that I shouldn't consider blanching optional, the plants were too large and the leaves were too brittle. I'll know better this year. I'll start wrapping the cardoons when they're small. Oddly, the artichoke-like flavor was more pronounced when the cardoons were bitter.

April

One cantaloupe is ripe and lush/Another's green, another's mush/I'd buy a lot more cantaloupe/ If I possessed a fluoroscope. Ogden Nash

Link to comment
Share on other sites

yeah, blanching is not optional. neither is properly removing the outer "ribs". I learned the hard way the first time I made cardoons. I did not clean them enough or boil them long enough (it is really boiling till soft, not just blanching) and a lovely looking baked cardoon in balsiamella casserole went to the trash.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife still refers to "The Cardoon Incident", which is the occasion where I took up our entire luggage allowance with a monster bunch of cardoons, when flying back from Florence. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to cook them and they ended up in the rubbish bin.

But, now that I know what I am doing with them I love them and I will grow them myself when I get access to a garden.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK here is my dish, "Torta di Peperoni" (Pepper and sausage pie). The reason why I waited to make a dish is that I wanted these specific peppers. Sometimes really simple dishes are the hardest to make as you are depending on the quality of specific ingredients. Italy's best peppers are said to be grown in the region between Voghera in Southern Lombardy to Asti in Piedmont. These are from the Milan market. As they are out of season I have no idea where they are actually from, but are very good quality (and expensive). This dish would not work at all with UK supermarket peppers, which are not sweet enough, nor have enough flavour.

gallery_1643_978_766797.jpg

The recipe (from "The Classic Food of Northern Italy" by Anna del Conte) is straight forward enough. Sweat onions, add a little milk and cook until the onions are melting soft, adding more milk if the onions dry out too much. Add the peppers, soften, then added the sausages and then the eggs. This is put into a pastry case and baked until just set.

The pastry is a oil and water based pastry, that is common in tortes in this area and also in Liguria. To be frank I am rubbish at pastry work. I tried to buy phyllo, but was out of luck. The pastry should be crispy and wafer thin, but it isn't. I hate pastry.

gallery_1643_978_566302.jpg

gallery_1643_978_343896.jpg

Apart from the completely sucky pastry (which I blame on Scotland for lacking phyllo pastry in every supermarket I checked), it is really a lovely dish and as it is eaten at room temperature it can be made well ahead of time. It would make a great primi.

Edited by Adam Balic (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's beautiful, nonetheless, Adam. I am impressed by how diligently you sought out perfect peppers. Very Italian of you.

The photograph suggests that there's ricotta or some soft cheese in the filling, no?

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks like we need to start a cardoon confessional thread. I've had the same luck when I first started cooking with them: it really isn't stressed enough how diligent you have to be getting the outer fibers off, or how long to cook them just to get them edible.

Adam, I wouldn't be surprised if those peppers came from Chufi's way . . . there are some peppers like that at our market here and they're all from Holland!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought the cultivated peppers from Holland tended to be squat with thick stubby stems ending in the kind of cap you see in some of Hathor's grissini.

My long, tapered red peppers come from Mexico. Still deciding whether to make a sformato or stuff them with anchovies.

Question for those of you in the U.S.: have you invested in a can of salt-packed anchovies lately? There's a small Italian grocer in my neighborhood that has started to carry this item.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Dutch Veg" is fighting words in these here parts.

(Appologies to Chufi).

hey, that's okay, I'm not in the vegetable business.. :smile:

can somebody shed some light on my fontina situation... I just had aother piece with some bread and I'm telling you, if this is the real thing, I don't like it (and I like almost every cheese).

Edited by Chufi (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chufi:

I didn't answer before since it's been years since I've used fontina--something very common in Italian-American versions of rolled stuffed chicken breasts. Because a thin strip of prosciutto or powerful herb (e.g. sage) is used, the one slice of fontina does not dominate.

Some fontinas (fontine?) are rather pale and mild. I will have to get back to you on the origins of what's most commonly available here after I return from my grocery store. It's got a bright orange outer layer & may be one of the "authentic" (DOP) cheeses pictured in the link below.

A more expensive fontina from Val d' Aosta that I eyed last week was less milky in color--closer to Gruyere. The wax coating was brown. I didn't taste it, however, I noticed darkening close to the rind that suggested it might have been developing that ripe "funky" taste. Your skeptical remarks make me think your cheese had ripened a bit too much.

While Matt Kramer says that fontina from Val d' Aosta is often preferred for "fonduta," he recommends the cheaper Fontal since its taste is not remarkably different in recipes.

By the way, did you use salt-packed anchovies for your sauce above?

Edited & revised since I just found a link that indicated that Fontina should be sweet and delicate during first 4-5 months. However, a second maturation leads to a cheese of a more yellow color that has more aroma and taste [piccante or piquant], but still not strong: Italian site on Fontina.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pontoromo- I think your claim about anitpasti and primos being the most interesting dishes applies to every region and all US Italian restaurants IMO. Be interesting to see if any region changes my opinion as we go through them.

All the food is looking great. Thanks Adam for proving my point that simple rustic dishes look good on painted plates not modern white restaurant style plates.

On the Fontina front- I've tried two in the last couple of weeks. A widely available in my area version that is fairly soft, has a thin plasticy breaks off in little pieces outer coating :angry: , and a version from a food specialist (AGFerrari). The version AGF carried was aged longer and had a much better depth of flavor. The supermarket version is imported from Italy but reminded me more of boring commercial domestic cheeses. Both versions were mild though so it sounds to me like you got something odd.

I looked for salt packed anchovies but could not find any. Will have to look for a source in San Francisco as these will be needed in other regions as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Regarding Fontina. The newer cheeses have good melting properties, but the older cheeses are quite hard and can be used as a grating cheese.

There are cheeses called 'Fontina' or variations on this in a few countries, some of these are very commercial. True Fontina is marked with a Consorzio stamp of a the Matterhorn and FONTINA.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Question for those of you in the U.S.: have you invested in a can of salt-packed anchovies lately?  There's a small Italian grocer in my neighborhood that has started to carry this item.

Definitely snap them up. They hold up better than the oil-packed kind which just dissolve as soon as any heat hits them. Not as strong, either.

Not to continue to pepper debate, but even those peppers with Italian names on them, at least in Dallas, are still grown in Holland: we got corne di bue one year, and a frying kind, and both had a "Grown in Holland" sticker on them when I bought them . . .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Question for those of you in the U.S.: have you invested in a can of salt-packed anchovies lately?  There's a small Italian grocer in my neighborhood that has started to carry this item.

Not to continue to pepper debate, but even those peppers with Italian names on them, at least in Dallas, are still grown in Holland: we got corne di bue one year, and a frying kind, and both had a "Grown in Holland" sticker on them when I bought them . . .

Hey, I hope that you are not suggestiong that extra special peppers that I ordered weeks ago from the Milan market, especially to make a dish for this thread and specifically the same as I bought in Tuscany are not infact quite right?

gallery_1643_811_518985.jpg

:wink:

Actually, it is a good point really. I will have to take more notice of where things are sourced from in the Italian markets next time I am there. I have noticed a lot of items that have come from elsewhere (sparrows from Tunisia, fish from Australia, porchini from Croatia).

Also it may not be a big thing, but I guess produce avalible out of season locally or difference, non-local varieties of fruit and veg, is going to alter the local cuisine in Italy. What happens to a national cuisne that is so heavily based on regional dishes when that regionality and seasonality breaks down?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

QUANTO BELLO!!!!!

Sigh.

Funny you should mention Tunisia. I buy my EVOO from Whole Foods, a US supermarket that gets a lot of press in other places here at eGullet. It's pretty cheap, around 5 euros for a liter. Only recently learned why. Label says it's from Italy, but if you read the fine print written horizontally on the back of the bottle, you learn that the oil itself comes from a wide variety of places. Last two bottles: Tunisia.

And Nathan, regarding antipasti in Piemonte, I was just reporting Kramer's published observations since he mentioned restaurants bombarding you with many, many antipasti during a single meal for two, then a primo...without raising eyebrows about the secondo that natives often skip themselves.

I do agree with what you say as a general rule and know it's a common complaint in restaurant dining, one I've had myself. Still, one of the best meals I have ever had in Italy was out in the countryside near Florence. In the middle of the black truffle season, the best of several courses using truffles was a roast chicken covered with them.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...