Scallopina alla Milanese, Osso-buco in bianco, tagliata di filetto con rucola e parmigiano, porcini risotto, gelato: doesn’t that sound like wonderful holiday destinations? In 2008, Mr G. and I ate our way through Northern Italy. 1200km, by car, across foodies’ paradise, loved it!
Look for fluorescent lighting
I remember from almost every little village or city what was on our plate. Risotto from a real Italian mama who ran the small hotel with her family; my very first spritz with antipasti, long before it became a popular drink; gelato from the best ice cream shop in Florence on a really hot afternoon….
And then the restaurant in Lucca what we couldn’t skip according to my father in law. In the middle of nowhere, uncomfortable wooden chairs and bright fluorescent light but the food was fantastic! It really is true: local people stare at you when entering, you can’t make any sense of the Italian menu (if they have one) and there are fluorescent lamps? Go, sit down and enjoy!
Since that trip my love for Italian cuisine has only grown. I really love the pure ingredients and simplicity of the dishes; there is not much needed to relax and enjoy!
Nok-ee, noh-kee? Nyawk-kee!
I did not try any gnocchi during this trip since I was not very convinced when I got them served in Denmark once: tough, dry dough balls… Making my own pasta is high on my bucket list, but also quite some work without a pasta machine. I think gnocchi is a perfect first step though. And a good time to dust off the My Little Italy cookbook for the #missgingerishchallenge!
Laura Zavan, who is born and raised near Venice, wrote my Little Italy. She says, “My Little Italy arose from the need to share my enthusiasm and passion for Italian food with others. Wherever I find myself, I am always looking for my Italy: capers, fresh mozzarella, burrata, amaretti and so on”.
Cook like a mama
In the book you’ll find plenty of ideas and recipes based on the typical simple Italian cuisine. No complicated dishes: accessible, simple, quick to prepare and full of pure, fresh ingredients. I fully agree with Laura: she insists on using only good quality ingredients and always has a small stock in house for surprise visit ;-).
The book is divided into 16 chapters: from anti pasta, pizza and meat products to the coast, vegetables and of course dolci. Lasagne, ravioli, dried pasta or risotto; each pasta is different and therefore gets its own chapter. Besides the many, diverse recipes, there are also tips and tricks about ingredients; what to look for when buying or where the best quality comes from example. Besides a clear index there’s even a list of good Italian (web) stores in the Netherlands and Belgium and (super convenient!) different menu suggestions.
How simple Italian cuisine may seem; I think this is a very nice cookbook to have on the shelf, which certainly still some news to learn from!
Classic gnocchi with melted butter and sage
- 500 gr potatoes, unpeeled
- 125 gr flour + extra for dusting
- 1/2 egg
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 30-50 gr melted butter
- Handful of fresh sage leaves, chopped
- 30 gr Parmesan cheese, grated
- Rinse the potatoes and cook them (with skin) for about 40 minutes in boiling salted water
- Allow the cooked potatoes to cool down and peel them
- Mash the potatoes on a floured surface with floured hands. Make a pile of the mashed potatoes with a dimple in the centre
- Add ¾ of the flour to the well along with egg, salt and a good pinch of nutmeg
- Quickly knead through the rest of the flour to form a smooth and homogeneous mixture
- Take some dough and roll into a 1.5 cm thick sausage; make several rolls until you have used all the dough
- Cut each roll into about 2.5 cm pieces and place on a lightly floured clean cloth
- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the gnocchi to the pan
- Meanwhile, melt the butter over low heat
- Once the gnocchi float, they are good; carefully remove them from the boiling water and immediately season with salt and pepper
- Add the sage and Parmesan cheese to the melted butter and pour over the gnocchi
After tasting this, I am convinced the Danes do not know how to make gnocchi ;-). Another successful #missgingerishchallenge! One “note to self”: first make gnocchi and then clean the kitchen instead of the other way around ;-).
If you’re not convinced about how easy this recipe actually is: Jamie Oliver’s Italian cooking master Genaro Contaldo has a handy video on Youtube about making gnocchi.
Want to join?
Earlier I made a superfoods salad from Leon, delicious fish from Gizzi’s Kitchen Magic and French nonettes from the beautiful “à la mère de famille”. Do you recognize that pile of cookbooks you hardly ever use? Then join me in this challenge, let’s put our cookbooks to use!
How does it work? It’s really simple: pick a cookbook from your shelf and cook a recipe from it. Share a picture of the dish you’ve created on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with the hash tag #missgingerishchallenge and tag @missgingerish.
Of course don’t forget to mention the cookbook and name of the recipe: let’s spread the word and inspire others!