Friday, 23 September 2011
FELICE AUTUNNO! Pumpkin and Prosciutto Savoury Cake (Torta Salata alla Zucca)
It's Autumn harvest time: in Italy the vineyards have already been stripped of all their jewels of alabaster, though Summer is still there, alive and beautiful, dancing round the fields and along the seashore.
The grapes have been harvested... the new wine is probably already bubbling up. The olive trees are laden with green and black olives, fleshy and beautiful in their plump evening gowns.
Autumn is fast approaching, bringing new colours, smells and flavours. In my garden, the vegetables are beginning to fade away, as the nights get colder... This is when I really, really wish I could be in Italy. The beaches are empty, though the sea is still warm and the temperatures as high as in August. The world is back at work, in the busy cities and towns. Everything is so beautiful! And the city has come back to LIFE!
Oh, I am so nostalgic! How I wish I could relive an Italian Autumn! Maybe I will, soon...
In my garden, a tiny, little pumpkin is telling me we are into a new season. In Italy, by the way, they were selling pumpkins everywhere. What do people do with pumpkins in Southern Italy? Who knows...
In a recent copy of Vero Cucina, an Italian Food Magazine I buy when I'm there, I found a recipe: Torta Salata Con Zucca e Prosciutto Crudo, Savoury pumpkin and Parma Ham Cake. It is, in fact, a kind of savoury plum cake, which I made today and... Is it delicious, or is it delicious? And... apparently a "Torta Salata" (Savoury cake) is a MUST when you have a party!
So, here it is:
Torta Salata con Zucca e Prosciutto Crudo
( Savoury Pumpkin and Parma Ham Cake)
(makes 7 or 8 servings)
150 g ( 5 oz) plain (all purpose) flour
300 g (10 oz) pumpkin
3 small eggs
100 g (4 oz) butter
80 g (3 1/2 oz) Parma Ham
80 g ( 3 1/2 oz) Parmesan cheese
1 tbs dried yeast
Before you start, place your butter in a mixing bowl and let it soften at room temperature. In the meantime, peel your pumpkin, de seed, cut into largish chunks and grate.
When the butter has softened, beat it with a wooden spoon or a hand wisk, till you obtain a creamy consistency, then add your eggs, flour, dried yeast. Mix, and finally add your grated pumpkin, the Parmesan, (I used Pecorino Romano, instead) your ham, chopped into 1 inch squares and some pepper. I didn't put any salt in my torta, as I used salted butter and cheese which was quite salty. You can add some salt, if you like.
You can now mix your ingredients together, till they blend to form a lovely bright mixture. When all the ingredients are blended together, pour the stiff cake mixture into a plum cake (or loaf) tin, which you would have previously buttered and floured.
Sprinkle with poppy seeds and bake in a preheated oven at a temperature of 180 C, Gas 4, 350 F, for about 50 minutes. Take out of the oven and leave to cool for a good 20-25 minutes. It needs to rest, so the texture is just right.
I served individual portions with a lovely salad made using my "innocent" ( organic) baby Swiss chard, basil, parsley, olives and shavings of Pecorino cheese.
The peppers I used to top the bread were cooked in olive oil, garlic and capers (peperonata)
A slice of my Savoury Pumpkin cake
A delicious meal to brighten up an Autumnal day!