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The Cooking and Cuisine of Trentino Alto Adige


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With the coldest weather of the season setting in on us (26F! Brrrr! :raz: ) I decided to make a couple rib-sticker meals over the weekend. First up was beef goulash from the first TAA link Pontormo posted.

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The seasoning was out of whack, and the beef maybe hadn't cooked long enough to be fall-apart tender: it was too firm and thready, still. I didn't have lemon zest, which the recipe calls for and probably would have provided an interesting flavor lift. Still it was different, at least, than the beef braises I'd been complaining about lately since there was no red wine involved: just broth, tomatoes, and paprika.

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I dug in L R Kaspar’s The Italian Country Table for a couple of recipes from TAA, and like Kevin, I felt a nice plate of hot comfort food is ideal in this chilly weather.

I made a pot roast using her recipe for the Tyrolean Roast Beef. It was pretty good with interesting spicing. To got with it I also followed her advice and served Margarita’s Buttermilk Crushed potatoes. I really enjoyed the flavor of these potatoes and the drizzle of browned butter on top was an excellent touch.

gallery_5404_94_238759.jpg

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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How come there's no blushing emoticon for the rest of us?

Kevin and Elie, you are doing all the work this month while the rest of us are chattering about wine or squeezing limes.

While we lack your Texan ice storms, we finally have some recognizably winter weather here on the east coast and there is a little bit of some extraordinary buttermilk left in the fridge, so....

Meanwhile, thanks for being so conscientious and sharing what you produce with us.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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quiet alright Pontormo...honestly the cooking of TAA does not turn me on much :unsure:. It's a bit too German and that has never been my cup of tea. Although a strudle in the near future might not be a bad idea :smile:.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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Welcome back Franci!! You were missed!

Divina: I always mix up my eyes and ears. Which can lead to such troubles.....

I'm having trouble with this region as well...the Other Half doesn't like: polenta, sauerkraut, gnocchi. I hit the trifecta, and he's really easy to please. :sad:

I've been in the mountains of Utah, but as soon as I get back I'll have to dig around and come up with something that he likes!

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didn't wanna miss out on this month, although my time is taken up recently by hassles at work and this guy right here (no that's not a mini-hat, it's a toy).

so today with a little time, i had a chance to look through the recipes on the sites pontormo posted, and ended up making this right here:

gallery_7799_3691_130320.jpg

that's some goulash, polenta, spinach canederli and cabbage. i can't believe i didn't notice the big blob of polenta on the bowl. i mean, really, i'm no food porn type. i am merely documenting things i try. but still, geez.

anyway, not the most attractive cuisine. but i posted the pic anyway because i'm not sure if the spinach things are... well, right. i mean, they tasted good, but really i'm not sure if they were close to the real thing. i only had frozen spinach, so the proportions were off to start with... i just couldn't be sure. i had to add a lot of flour but it was probably from too much spinach--i'm not sure how much of them is supposed to be flour, or if it's supposed to be like gnocchi, where the flour is just barely holding together the breadcrumbs and all...

the cabbage was just sliced (not thin enough, btw) and cooked with bay, juniper, and vinegar. that's just bacon on top--i don't have speck right now.

i got the goulash recipe from the about.com site--the mrs said it reminded her of chili. well, sure: chili powder has lots of paprika; there's cumin in the recipe, marjoram is related to oregano... makes sense to me. and i've said it before but i'll say it again: there's no stew beef like shin meat.

anyway, have you folks made these canederli? what say ye?

(edited because i always mix up the img and url tags)

Edited by mrbigjas (log)
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Thanks everybody for the welcome back!

MrBig, do you know how adorable is your little boy? You have all the reasons to prefer him than cooking for TAA :laugh:

I never been to Trentino, but I tried to make canederli more than once. Last time I posted my pictures on the Italian forum where I write.

A guy from Trento pointed to all my mistakes...I din't use breadcrumbs but cubed stale bread, soaked with milk. That would be correct if was not that I shouldn't have mixed with the other ingredients and made a mush out of it.

I do believe that the bread in the US or in UK makes a big difference, rolls don't stale in 2 days (maybe are the improveres in the dough)...it's like trying to find a good bread for panzanella :wacko:

These are not for spinach canederli, but it's for those with speck and lucanica, it's in Italian but Franz was very detailed with pictures, so I hope it can be useful to the next person who wants to try canederli.

Here

I'm skipping the pork recipes, I am waiting for my first child so it's better I don't eat too much sausages or fatty pork pieces.

Maybe I'll also jump on a more safe strudel too.

Edited by Franci (log)
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I made the canederli for my 2005 project when I was cooking from Friuli. To be honest, I was less than impressed with them. They got tedious halfway through; there's a reason they're served in broth. Keeps them moist or else they'd really be a bleak affair.

Alberto and I got into a discussion about them. They are huge, like the size of a tangerine, and from experience they need to be that big. I made them smaller, like standard gnocchi sized, once and they just fell apart in the water. So, while I've been tempted to make them again for TAA, I think I'll refrain.

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I made the canederli for my 2005 project when I was cooking from Friuli.  To be honest, I was less than impressed with them.  They got tedious halfway through; there's a reason they're served in broth.  Keeps them moist or else they'd really be a bleak affair. 

Alberto and I got into a discussion about them.  They are huge, like the size of a tangerine, and from experience they need to be that big. I made them smaller, like standard gnocchi sized, once and they just fell apart in the water.  So, while I've been tempted to make them again for TAA, I think I'll refrain.

I was not thrilled by canederli either, but since I heard a lot of people really enthusiast about them, I thought that I must have done something wrong. I do believe that bread and ingredients are very important for these recipes.....

Well, be sure that at my first trip to Trentino I'll be ordering canederli :smile:

Yes, thank you Kevin, I am pregnant. So, unfortunately, I have to cut down a little bit on my pork eating, even if it's cooked, I don't think I should have too much.

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Thanks everybody for the welcome back!

MrBig, do  you know how adorable is your little boy? You have all the reasons to prefer him than cooking for TAA  :laugh:

why yes, i find him quite irresistible myself!

These are not for spinach canederli, but it's for those with speck and lucanica, it's in Italian but Franz was very detailed with pictures, so I hope it can be useful to the next person who wants to try canederli.

Here

that's a great reference, thanks. those look a lot better than mine, and actually i think i see where i went wrong. it seems like there's a balance that needs to be struck, between getting the bread soft enough to hold together, but 'non spappolare.' i don't think i got it quite soft enough. and the recommendation that you use breadcrumbs instead of flour to hold it together... hmmm....

i think i'll try them again. growing up with central pennsylvanian cooking, i do have a predilection for dumplingy, doughy, bready things

I'm skipping the pork recipes, I am waiting for my first child so it's better I don't eat too much sausages or fatty pork pieces.

congratulations! he'll eat well, that's for sure...

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mrbigjas-

I agree about the cuisine not being too photogenic, but your nice spread is very nice looking and appetizing. Certainly better than my roast.

Congrats Franci!

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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Congrats again Franci.

I guess I'll jump on the bandwagon here and announce that we're also expecting our first in May. It's funny to see the differences in what to avoid during pregancy across cultures. My wife's been told to avoid cold cuts and lunch meat unless it's zapped in the microwave first. I keep telling her that thousands of pregnant women in Italy eat prosciutto (and drink wine! :biggrin:) daily but no go.

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My wife's been told to avoid cold cuts and lunch meat unless it's zapped in the microwave first. 

Well, except for the microwave part, (no Italian would put a delicious slice of Prosciutto Crudo in the microwave oven :) ) the same happens here in Italy:) pregnants are usually advised not to eat "salumi" (to avoid Toxoplasm). Some doctors would allow for "Prosciutto Cotto" since it is cooked.

ciao /Chem

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great news, kevin!

update, and another question:

1. i reheated the canederli this morning and they were... well, better! more to my liking anyway. they'd had a chance to dry out a little so they weren't soggy from being boiled, (edit: soggy on the outside, anyway--even last night they were fine inside) and the flavors of the spinach and nutmeg had permeated more, so it was more coherent. with some melted butter and parmigiano they were a darn good snack.

2. does goulash always have cumin in it, or is that recipe on about.com an odd one? this stuff tasted even more like chili this morning, and really i suspect that is the culprit. and it's just not a flavor profile i associate with goulash, which i expect to taste mainly of paprika.

3. i don't know what i did right last night, but that polenta was the best i've ever made. maybe it's the polenta itself, which is some fancy expensive stuff i get at dibruno's. but boy was it good.

Edited by mrbigjas (log)
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Cumin pops up occasionally in a very few Italian recipes here and there. I always wonder if that's a mis-translation somewhere since "cumino" is Italian for carraway, which is used alot more extensively, particularly in these Germanic/Autstrian influenced Italian cuisines.

As for the Italian versions of goulasch that I've made, yeah, they are mostly flavored with paprika and this version with cumin is an exception.

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What productivity, you all! :laugh:

First, Mrbigjas, it's great to see you cooking again in addition to an update on the happy baby. I always enjoy a vicarious peek at other people's bookshelves, so thanks for enough focus to see Leaves of Grass AND Rock Til You Drop behind said baby. On the other side of the kid, I hope the open volume is NOT a cookbook!

Kevin, and Franci, how wonderful!!! I suppose it would be an act of kindness not to eat much pork once The Year of the Fire Boar begins on February 18. Or is the other way around?

And Chem, please consider this a warm welcome to both eGullet and this forum!

* * *

Mrbj: How long did you cook your polenta? Buford got pretty huffy about the way a REAL polenta takes hour(s?) of cooking and constant attention despite all the shortcuts, the unattended pots and slow-oven methods touted in English-language books these days.

If you do figure out what may have made it so good, please pipe up before dinnertime tomorrow. I'm sure your source and the colder weather both helped.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Dammit you're not helping!  Let's just keep that quiet then, shall we?  :wink:

Awsome! congrats to you too. FWIW, my wife also avoided cold cuts and cured meats when she was pregnant. Not just because they are not cooked (sometimes) but mainly bacause of the high salt content. However, she ate fresh pork (chops, loin, butt,...) on a regular basis. No reason to avoid that. I know I've said it before, but she also drank wine in moderation in her thrid trimester (Dr. assured her it is more than safe to drink 4 or 5 oz of wine). Ok, now unless someone else is having a baby, let's get back to food :biggrin: .

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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Mrbj: How long did you cook your polenta?  Buford got pretty huffy about the way a REAL polenta takes hour(s?) of cooking and constant attention despite all the shortcuts, the unattended pots and slow-oven methods touted in English-language books these days.

The Italian Cookbook "Il Cucchiaio d'argento" says 45 minutes to 1 hour. I think it depends on what type of corn semolina you'll use and how you'll serve the polenta. The thinner semolina type will normally be served "all'onda" like potato mash. I'll use the coarse grained semolina for the firm variant of polenta.

H.B. aka "Legourmet"

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I think the farina you're referring to is what is called "gries" in more northern parts of Austria. It's used to make dumplings and such.

The best wine producers in Alto Adige that are widely available include Alois Lageder and Tiefenbrunner. Both make fine examples of the local varietals.

And Mrlittlejas is criminally cute. I've seen him up close and personal. :wub:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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We need a separate website to keep track of all our Italian babies! :biggrin::biggrin: I wonder if anyone is keeping track, but I bet our Italian forum community has more babies than anyone else.

Big hugs and congratulations to Franci and Kevin...woo-hoooo!!! Very exciting news.

I never heard of the no-pork, no cold cut rule. wow.

Back to food: is 'polenta nera', made from buckwheat? I've had it once or twice in Italy, and never understood what made it black. One time it was served with fresh grated horseradish (in Friuli) and another time with gorgonzola. Delicious.

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Congrats again Franci. 

I guess I'll jump on the bandwagon here and announce that we're also expecting our first in May.  It's funny to see the differences in what to avoid during pregancy across cultures.  My wife's been told to avoid cold cuts and lunch meat unless it's zapped in the microwave first.  I keep telling her that thousands of pregnant women in Italy eat prosciutto (and drink wine! :biggrin:) daily but no go.

Kevin, congratulations to you too!!!

Just to help you out, I do drink wine moderately, a couple glasses on weekends. I checked for toxo and unfortunately I am not immune, so I am stuck with prosciutto cotto and mortadella only :angry:

Cumin pops up occasionally in a very few Italian recipes here and there.  I always wonder if that's a mis-translation somewhere since "cumino" is Italian for carraway, which is used alot more extensively, particularly in these Germanic/Autstrian influenced Italian cuisines. 

I am more incline to think it's caraway, in German is Kümmel and there it is used to flavour breads (this I tried there is a bakery in Milan) .

In Italian cumino is cummin

Mrbj: How long did you cook your polenta?  Buford got pretty huffy about the way a REAL polenta takes hour(s?) of cooking and constant attention despite all the shortcuts, the unattended pots and slow-oven methods touted in English-language books these days.

The Italian Cookbook "Il Cucchiaio d'argento" says 45 minutes to 1 hour. I think it depends on what type of corn semolina you'll use and how you'll serve the polenta. The thinner semolina type will normally be served "all'onda" like potato mash. I'll use the coarse grained semolina for the firm variant of polenta.

Polenta is one of those things that if you have a fireplace you should really try to see the difference!!!

Maybe not many outside Italy know the existence of this pot. It is an electric copper pot with an arm that will keep stirring the polenta at a very slow pace.

gallery_20639_4142_20604.jpg

gallery_20639_4142_45194.jpg

So far, I have been travelling with this polentiera all around the States and here in UK without having the possibility to use it: I am always cursed with an electric stove.

Last time in Milan I finally saw one with a flat bottom...but I didn't buy, I must have a gas stove in the next house.

The preferences on polenta are different according to the areas. My mom is from Bergamo and they are known for liking a very coarse polenta (the bramata) and is pretty thick.

In any case the polenta is done when the bottom is stuck to the pot, making a crust.

CHEM, nice to see you also here.

Edited by Franci (log)
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I never heard of the no-pork, no cold cut rule. wow.

Back to food: is 'polenta nera', made from buckwheat? I've had  it once or twice in Italy, and never understood what made it black.  One time it was served with fresh grated horseradish (in Friuli) and another time with gorgonzola. Delicious.

Thanks Hathor. There is not a strict rule on cooked pork, but it's not the first choice of meat you can eat.....

As for polenta nera. Yes, it is buckwheat. And around Sondrio they will make a polenta taragna with polenta bramata, buckwheat (grano saraceno), cheese plus noisette butter...not a light meal :biggrin:

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