Italian Feast

Well not quite, but that was one of the books used in this dinner for some friends which mostly consisted of fairly simple yet tasty food.  Antonio Carluccio was I guess one of the first TV chefs I watched and I remember seeing some of his shows on SBS about 15 years ago.  I also saw him present at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival years ago.  I have a few of his books and this post features a couple of them.  The first task for this dinner was to cook some focaccia so I turned to a recipe in Carluccio’s Italian Feast.  It’s a fairly simple procedure and I was happy with the result.

Next up was Pancotto di Viareggio from Phaidon’s latest, Tuscany.  This is my latest addition, purchased a couple of weekends ago from my favourite bookshop, Lorne Beach Books.  This is a very nice book with a good combo of recipes and information on the food of Tuscany divided up by sub regions.  A nice smattering of regional photography as well.

Pancotto di Viareggio is essentially a bread and seafood soup.  It was while cooking this that I realised we were having quite a bit of bread with the meal but I ploughed on regardless.  Prior to adding the torn up bread it was soaked in water for and hour and then wrung out.  Basic flavourings were tomatoes and white wine and it all went together quite well.

Main and accompanying salad were both from Alvaro Maccioni’s Mamma Toscana.  Lasagne di Magro (baked vegetable lasagne) was the go.  This recipe has all the flavours but I think the quantities have been mixed up in the book.  For instance from 100g of chopped tomatoes you were supposed to throw in a handful with each layer.  300g of grated parmesan was way more than was needed – maybe they just got the quantities of cheese and tomatoes mixed up. Also, chopping the carrots and zucchinis into 2cm chunks just seemed too big.  Next time, I’ll chop to a size consistent with the peas which are also in the vegetable mix.

The salad was a panzanella, yep more bread.  We’ve made panzanella before but this one differed in that the cubes of ciabatta were mixed with the juice and seeds from the deseeded tomatoes so they took on a pink colour.  Good summer salad.

Finally, I returned to Antonio Carluccio’s Southern Italian Feast.  We are getting a steady stream of figs from our little tree. Even though the tree is netted, we are sharing the crop very generously with the birds.  Baked figs, simply peeled and sprinkled with sugar and baked, served in this case with Maggie Beer’s burnt fig, honeycomb and caramel icecream.

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One Response to Italian Feast

  1. Alison Spencer says:

    What a treat. I think I most like the figs. I love the taste of them and I also love them because of their scarcity. Until recently they were not available in supermarkets that I go to, and the only way to get a fig was find a person with a tree who was happy to share. They are by far my favourite fruit and I am pleased to see them take on a new level of popularity. Oh — I have the gardener man lined up to plant a fig tree behind my shed, so in a few years……….

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