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The Cooking and Cuisine of Liguria


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A house guest of mine just gave me a vaccum packed "Il testarola".  It looks like a large, maybe 18" diameter buckwheat, thick, crepe.  Its not buckwheat, though, the only listed ingredient is durum wheat.

Does anybody have any idea what I'm supposed to do with it?  :huh: She got it on her travels through Cinque Terre, if that helps.

grazie mille!

Testarolo singular, terstaroli plural

In the Lunigiana area they boil the testaroli cut in lozenges until slightly puffed (couple minutes) then they dress them with pesto and grated pecorino.

But from friends of my italian forum I heard the the fresh testaroli (testo is the cast iron pan where they are cooked on the ashes) said that are also piled up and served rolled as crepes with a filling of oil and parmigiano, or pesto, or mushrooms. They told me that the fresh ones are infinitely better than the one bought under vacuum. Unfortunately I have never tried them.

Edited by Franci (log)
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The recipe looks good...how many people are you feeding? That's going to make a lot of ravioli.

Kevin, take a look at the pasta formula....that's a lot of flour for one egg. What do you think?

Ravioli con verdure

In general, in the south we use durum flour, thinner than semolina to make pasta with no eggs.

In sardinia they do use semolina+eggs+water. Since the semolina to dissolve requires a lot of work, nowadays a lot of people switched to durum+eggs+water. The dough with semolina it requires hours of hand mixing (according always to my sardinian friend) and at least 45' in the mixer. I did try these "Culisgionis de arescottu" last week form my friend recipe and if the filling is too soft they add a little bit of semolina.

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A house guest of mine just gave me a vaccum packed "Il testarola".  It looks like a large, maybe 18" diameter buckwheat, thick, crepe.  Its not buckwheat, though, the only listed ingredient is durum wheat.

Does anybody have any idea what I'm supposed to do with it?  :huh: She got it on her travels through Cinque Terre, if that helps.

grazie mille!

Testarolo singular, terstaroli plural

In the Lunigiana area they boil the testaroli cut in lozenges until slightly puffed (couple minutes) then they dress them with pesto and grated pecorino.

But from friends of my italian forum I heard the the fresh testaroli (testo is the cast iron pan where they are cooked on the ashes) said that are also piled up and served rolled as crepes with a filling of oil and parmigiano, or pesto, or mushrooms. They told me that the fresh ones are infinitely better than the one bought under vacuum. Unfortunately I have never tried them.

Mine never puffed up. I think you are right...they should be eaten fresh and not the vaccum packed variety. All in all, it was a strange texture and consistency.

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  • 6 months later...

I have been making this torta salata so often lately that I couldn't restrain from posting a picture.

It's a good way to use very fine cornmeal (even finer than fioretto, the kind you find in Indian or Middleastern stores) but more importantly is really delicious. It makes a great appetizer with salumi.

gallery_20639_4194_43235.jpg

It is called baciocca, here the recipe I was given.

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Looks really good, Franci, if in a way distinct from your glistening chocolate in the dessert thread. :smile:

I'm curious about the fineness of the cornmeal. Since you've lived in New York, are you familiar with the kind of cornmeal sold in supermarkets for making cornbread or muffins? Would that be considered a "medium" grain and not fine enough, or....?

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Looks really good, Franci, if in a way distinct from your glistening chocolate in the dessert thread. :smile:

I'm curious about the fineness of the cornmeal.  Since you've lived in New York, are you familiar with the kind of cornmeal sold in supermarkets for making cornbread or muffins?  Would that be considered a "medium" grain and not fine enough, or....?

The cornmeal I used it's even finer, like durum flour. For this torta, for my taste, I like it better. I tried only one time a coarser coarnmeal and I found it difficult to get right the amount of liquid necessary, it would be a trial and error process, for sure I'd keep it a little runnier, or, if you have an eletric coffee grinder, I would give to the coarmeal some pulses.

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  • 4 months later...

Ciao, tutte, tutti!

Remember these cooking threads? I had to browse all the way to page 5, I think, to find Liguria. Is anyone else still cooking regional specialties these days?

I just wanted to report that I finally made the polpettone di fagiolini that I had been eyeing for a while, in part, because the farmer's market had my (almost) favorite type of green bean* for the first time this Sunday and because I somehow misplaced the new potatoes I bought to make Salade Nicoise. Essentially a vegetable torta, the dish also required the use of the first spring-form pan I ever bought and haven't used since, oh, maybe three or four moves ago.

Anna Del Conte's recipe does not reflect mainstream tradition which I am linking first with this Italian recipe so you can see that it is customary to incorporate even more potato than green bean in many of the Genoese recipes, as in at least one way pesto is served. However, this somewhat more mundane version omits the potato as did mine.

I took liberties, having gotten just a little tired of the taste of dried porcini which I would prefer to acquire once more, so I finished up some fresh mushrooms in the fridge, instead. No onions, but garlic. Del Conte replicates the effect of quagliata, a creamy, fresh cheese by combining ricotta and sour cream. I lacked even 2 T of the former, so a light chevre took its place. She also calls for soaking a good country-white bread in milk and sautéeing the squeezed crumbled mess with the mushrooms, garlic, marjoram and processed, blanched beans, so one isn't drying up the custardy mixture with gobs of breadcrumbs.

All in all, a quick, light dish that would indeed make excellent picnic food and would readily endure further inauthentic riffs such as a little prosciutto or maybe a very light sauce were it served slightly warm instead of room temperature. Except for the bit about turning on the oven, it also was a perfect response to summer's taunting humidity.

*Called Jade, organic, and extraordinarily flavorful. Green beans I could do without happily were I limited to supermarket shopping; they're utterly boring and often woody or unpleasantly textured. My favorite at the local market are closer to fagiolini though sold as haricots verts for $18 a pound.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Ciao, tutte, tutti!

Remember these cooking threads?  I had to browse all the way to page 5, I think, to find Liguria.  Is anyone else still cooking regional specialties these days?

i am! just haven't been posting much about them, or in general...

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Ciao, tutte, tutti!

Remember these cooking threads?  I had to browse all the way to page 5, I think, to find Liguria.  Is anyone else still cooking regional specialties these days?

i am! just haven't been posting much about them, or in general...

Anche Io...but I've been feeling very "Siciliano" these days! Must be the weather.

The markets are full of fagiolini right now.

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  • 1 month later...

I have been so inspired by these regional cooking threads, that I have resolved to cook at least one meal from each region (but not within any particular time frame or anything). I ordered a couple of cookbooks that emphasize regionality (Cucina Del Sole and Lidia's Italy, but neither of them had arrived, and I wanted to do meal this past weekend. So, I decided to do Liguria, which is not covered in either of those books. Pretty much my only source was Mario Batali and this thread.

There were a lot of problems. I invited some friends over for Sunday night, but I was in Buenos Aires from Wed to Sat (arrived sat at 6am). I thought I would be able to sleep on the plane, so i would have all day sat to prep. However, I got barely a wink, so I had to sleep half my day away. Also, the meal I planned was very heavy on the shopping, which further sapped my energy, leaving me only Sunday to cook. Here's the whole horrible tale--

The menu was supposed to be:

stuffed zucchini blossoms

Pansotti with Walnut sauce (from Molto Italiano)

Capon Magro

fig and almond crostata(probably not Ligurian at all, but I couldn't find a dessert that was that looked appealing)

I wanted to get the vegetables from the farmer's market, the fish and bread from Chelsea market, and I knew that I could find Ligurian wine at Astor Place--well, when you're leaving the house at 4pm, that's a lot to fit in. I did manage to get to the farmer's market, but I forgot to buy the zucchini blossoms. No problem, I thought, I'll just buy them on Sunday at the farmer's market that's near my store. So I headed over to Chelsea market with Josh (my sister worked at the store for me so I could rest after my trip). I hadn't eaten anything, so we got some lunch. I then realized, with horror that by that time it was almost 7pm and all the stores in chelsea market were closing. I managed to get the largest loaf of bread ever, but then the seafood store closed in my face. Also, the kitchen supply store was closed, and I need to buy a tart pan. Well, I guess that meant that I would have to come back the next day. After that, we walked all the way to astor wines and then home (about 3 miles total) carrying all the heavy groceries. By the time I got home, I still had to cook dinner, so I was way too tired to do any prep. Josh sweetly let me have the next day off as well so that I could go back to chelsea market to get the fish and cook.

I don't really know why, but nothing worked out the next day either. Somehow the only thing I managed to get done before I went shopping again was make the pasta dough. I couldn't make dessert because I didn't have the tart pan. I wanted to get to the farmer's market, but I didn't have any cash, so I stopped at the atm on the way. For some reason, all the atms at my band could not dispense cash and it was sunday, so the bank was closed. OK, no zucchini blossoms. I decided to buy some chickpea flour and make Marcella's farinata instead. Well, I didn't get back from the market until 5. Guests were coming at 9. 4 hours should have been enough, but it just wasn't. I've made fresh pasta several times, but for some reason it just would not cooperate. Maybe it was too humid, I don't know. At 9pm with the guests on their way and nothing done, I gave up on the fresh pasta. Of course, I had already made the filling (including the egg), so I wasn't sure about using it on top of boxed pasta, but it turned out ok. I was particularly disappointed, because I have been wanting to make the pansotti recipe since I got Molto Italiano, and I was so happy to see from others making it on this thread that they were Ligurian. Luckily I had thought to throw some cheese into my shopping basket at the store, so at least I had something to put out for the hours it would take for me to get the meal on the table.

I put the farinata in the oven when the guests arrived, so it was another 45 minutes or so til that was done, but it was pretty good. I was unconvinced that it would turn into a bread like product, because the batter is just chickpea flour, water, and olive oil, and it is very, very soupy before it is baked. But, this is what it looked like when it came out of the oven.

gallery_44218_3482_8617.jpg

We also started with this Ligurian Rose. It was really nice--not too sweet or too dry. Decently priced at $17, I think. Just a tip for those of you in NYC--Astor wines website allows you to search for wines by region, and they have at least 2 wines from every region in Italy.

gallery_44218_3482_21790.jpg

I also got 2 bottles of this white wine there. It was $13 a bottle. (I find wine bottles to be the hardest thing to photograph.)

gallery_44218_3482_4600.jpg

This is what the final product of all my pasta pain looked like.

gallery_44218_3482_10089.jpg

I added some of the pasta water to the ricotta and zucchini filling, mostly to insure that the egg wouldn't curdle when I mixed it in to the hot pasta. Then, I also put the walnut and bread crumb sauce on, so it was double sauced. A very tasty dish, even though it was merely an attempt to salvage a disaster. By the time we were done with the pasta, it was after midnight. However, I think it was worth the wait, because the capon magro was so impressive.

gallery_44218_3482_2889.jpg

Here's another photo with empty pasta bowls for perspective. This thing is huge!

gallery_44218_3482_3243.jpg

Mario Batali has crazy ideas about serving size. He calls for 2lbs of cod and 2 lobsters for 4 people, in addition to all the other ingredients. I only did 1.5 lbs of cod and one lobster, and it was still way too much food--I served 5 people. I used head on shrimp, since I couldn't get langoustines, but I used more than he calls for. I also left out the celery and hard boiled eggs, because no one in attendance likes them (myself, especially). This dish was exactly the kind of thing I should never attempt to make in my kitchen because though it is not difficult, it uses every bowl I own creating a huge mess. Which would be fine if I had a dining room or any counter space other than my cutting board and kitchen table.

After then main course, it was 1am, and my dessert was not done. I did manage to make the tart shell before everyone arrived, but I still needed to fill it and bake the filling. Which I did, but none of my guests stayed to eat it. That was a good thing, in the end because even though it was only supposed to bake for 25 minutes, it took almost an hour. Here's what it looked like when it was done.

gallery_44218_3482_8760.jpg

I ate some of it the next day with coffee, and it was really, really good, but most of it is sitting in my fridge.

Whew! that's my tale of Ligurian woe. I'm so sorry this post was so long and rambly, but I was really overwhelmed by this whole thing. Oh, I also bought 2 different bottles of Ligurian olive oil, but that is for another post since i forgot to photograph them. So, if you're not sick of me yet (already!) I'll stay tuned for that report.

Edited by Live It Up (log)
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:blink: You start out running don't you?!

What an ambitious dinner!

I'm sure the hours you keep and normally eat factor into what transpired, though I am impressed you managed to summon up all that energy after such a trip. You even thought clearly enough to realize that Batali eats a whole lot more than the rest of us! :laugh:

Your friends missed out on the best part--or at least that fig dessert is what grabs my attention most. Stunning!!!

As for the main course, :shock: It looks like something out of a feast from the past. Courtly excess! The decadence of the ruling class!

Wow.

As for the olive oils, I'd be interested in your opinions. Several of us were pleased. These are the types of imported oil I would be tempted to trust. (The Italian press and even regional web sites are starting to react to Tom Mueller's piece in The New Yorker.)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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  • 1 month later...

Let me preface this post by saying I don't know anything about Liguirian cusine, but I'm always interested in learning about regional cuisines.

Some friends are having a casual get-together on Saturday night, and they've asked guests to bring a bottle of wine to share. They (the hosts) will be serving homeade focaccia. The hosts are "foodies," but most of the other invitees are not. The hosts are also vegetarian/pescatarian. To honour the hosts, I thought I'd try to bring a Liguirian wine and hopefully some kind of Liguirian food-stuff that will complement the focaccia. Any ideas?

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Head to your local wine store and see what they have. It's a total crap shoot what Ligurian wines you will find, but mostly you are looking at white wines. Ligurian production isn't that big, compared to the big producers in Tuscany and Piemonte, so your choices are going to be limited. Good luck!

You could make an anchovy butter to go with that foccacia.....

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One item not mentioned as of yet (or at least I didn't see it) was caponadda, a specialty of the coast near Comogli. This is not to be confused with the Sicilian dish of stewed peppers, caponata.

It is a Ligurian bread salad in the style of panzanella, with chunks of bread, vinegar, tomatoes, tuna, fresh anchovies, capers and oregano. We found it at an evening festa in a town called Sori on the coast, east of Genoa. We were assured that it was very local. I only regret that it was too dark outside to get a decent picture.

I haven't been able to find a real discussion of it on the web, other than that Comogli has a Sagra della caponadda in mid August.

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