Saturday, 20 April 2013

Spaghetti o Linguine ai Capperi e Tonno ( Alla San Giovannino) Spaghetti or Linguine in a delicious Tomato, Tuna and Caper Sauce!

She went outside to pick some parsley for her mamma. It was Christmas Eve and everyone was busy chatting, playing games, running about the house, up and down the long black marble corridor. It was always polished, really shiny and you could "ice-skate" on it!

As she ran back indoors, as she always liked to run everywhere (and she still does!) she slipped and landed on the floor. The little stems of fresh parsley were dropped all over the place, so she quickly gathered them and went to wash the sweet smelling herb, under running water, in the kitchen.

The smell of garlic, frying in the pan, and the sound of the tuna, being "dropped" very skilfully in the pan,by her mother, were mingled with a sense of happiness. We were all together, under the same roof. All our windows were steamed up and we felt cosy, and happy. It must have been Christmas Eve, I think...

 I must have somehow been able to capture that sense of feeling happy, protected and loved. I must have locked it away in here... in my heart, or in my soul. It's in me and I can feel it. How I wish we could still, all of us, be together. There is still so much we didn't say... so much we didn't do... the rest is all here... with me... I love to open a window on my childhood. I know that Proust said it before me, but... smells... fragrances are the key to the past.

And I want to go back, through the smell of this dish to an "Eve"... Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, The Eve of Saint John's Day, in June, when you might quite likely, in Puglia, eat this simple dish, which is absolutely delicious!

Spaghetti "Ai Capperi e Tonno" alla San Giovannino. This dish, as promised in my previous post is very easy to make and, like all good Italian dishes, only uses a few ingredients. Though might be eaten on special occasions (the Eve of a celebration) also forms part of what we call "cibo quotidiano" EVERYDAY FOOD!"

Spaghetti ai Capperi e Tonno
(Alla San Giovannino)
(Spaghetti with Tomato, Tuna and Caper Sauce)

(serves 2-3)

 olive oil (cover the base of your pan with it!)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large tin of best tuna chunks
in brine, or olive oil
300g (10 oz) cherry or fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
1 small tin plum tomatoes
1 tbsp capers in vinegar
generous bunch of fresh parsley
freshly milled black pepper
300-400g (about 1 lb, or just under) spaghetti
(or linguine)

You can cook this in a saucepan, or a frying pan or wok. Put the olive oil in the pan you are using, wait until it gets piping hot, then add the garlic. Don't let it burn, as it will taste bitter if it does. Stir, then add your tuna (if you are using tuna in brine, remove all the liquid, first.)

Quickly add your tuna, stir, then half cover with a lid, as the tuna will splatter all over the place! true! Give it a couple of minutes, enough time for the flavours to blend, then add your tomatoes (fresh or tinned- squash your tinned tomatoes up before cooking, if you want a good sauce!) some salt, and black pepper and bring to the boil.

You can now turn the heat down and cook your sauce for 20-25 minutes. By now, your kitchen should be filled with a wonderful aroma: garlic and tuna are fantastic, together.


Towards the end of cooking time, add your capers (I use lots, as I love the vinegary flavour!) and, before serving, take half of your parsley, roughly chop and add to the sauce, which, I assure you, is going to be magnificent!
Cook your spaghetti or linguine, drain and serve with the sauce. Top each serving with extra parsley and black pepper. And now I feel hungry!

D E L I Z I O S O!!!!!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Sformato.Ciambella di Tagliatelle ai Funghi e Zafferano (Baked Tagliatelle, Mushroom and Saffron Ring)

Ciambella di tagliatelle ai Funghi e Zafferano (Baked Tagliatelle, Mushroom and Saffron Ring)  Don't be put off by the name of today's dish, as it's really easy and quite quick to prepare and very... very delicious!

I would like to say that this is one of my mamma's recipes, but it isn't.

My mother wouldn't have known what to do with saffron, as it is an ingredient mainly used in Northern Italy, in risotto dishes. Our food, in Southern Italy, tends to be light and fresh. My tagliatelle, on the contrary, is quite rich, but deliciously so! I love the taste of saffron and, I must admit: bright yellow food cheers me up.

I found the sauce recipe in one of my Italian magazines a few years ago and I thought it would bind my tagliatelle together very nicely, with some cheese, as I wanted to make a baked pasta ring, a kind of deliciously savoury "Ciambella" lovely to be eaten for supper, or sliced, an ideal dish for a party! It would go well with some chilled dry wine!

Here is my recipe:

Ciambella di Tagliatelle ai Funghi e Zafferano
(Baked Tagliatelle, Mushroom and Saffron Ring)

(serves 4-5)

For the sauce:

1 tsp butter
8 tbs olive oil
1 onion
1 leek
500 g ( 1 lb, 1 oz) brown mushrooms
1 tbs plain flour
1 vegetable stock cube
500 ml (1pt, 1 fl oz)  hot water
2 generous pinches saffron
1 small cup milk
1 tbs passata

400 g (just under 1 lb) tagliatelle
100 g ((3 1/2 oz) Fontina Cheese
grated Cheddar

Preheat oven (200C, 400F, Gas 6)

Before you start, prepare your vegetables: peel and chop your onion, wash your leek very carefully and cut into chunks. Don't peel your mushrooms: just wash and slice or cut them into wedges. Boil some water (about 500 ml- about 1 pt) You can do this in a kettle. 

Having done this, put your butter and onion in a deep saucepan. When hot, add your onion and leek.Stir and combine these ingredients, until they turn a nice, golden colour. You are now ready to add all your lovely brown mushrooms!

While your mushrooms are cooking and turning a translucent, shiny colour, measure your hot water: you need about 500 mls. Add a stock cube and  your saffron to the hot water, which will, after two or three minutes, turn a very bright shade of  orange.


While your stock is standing, take two tablespoons of flour and add to the pan. Mix and take off the heat. Now, you can start adding your passata and, gradually, the stock and saffron. You should get a beautiful silky-shiny sauce, bright yellow, almost orange in colour. Again, mix these ingredients and finally, add your small cup of milk. Taste for salt, add some black pepper, if you like and... your sauce is made!

Cook your tagliatelle really "Al dente." Remember that the water needs to be boiling, before you can add your pasta or you'll be eating glue!

While your pasta is cooking, coat a ciambella ring (or a normal, round oven dish, if you don't have a ring shaped tin) with butter and then breadcrumbs.

Drain your tagliatelle and place into a bowl.  Pour two thirds of the sauce over your pasta, mix, making sure you have enough sauce, then add two generous handfuls of Parmesan cheese and  100 g Fontina cheese, cut into very small cubes, or grated Cheddar cheese, if you can't easily get hold of Fontina. Mix, arrange round the tin, pressing down as you go along, then bake in a hot oven (200C, 400F, Gas 6) until you get a soft crust.

This will take between 20 and 30 minutes. Take your dish out of the oven, let it cool for ten minutes, then turn it out, onto a plate, or wooden board.

Serve cut into thick slices, with some of the reserved sauce. found that rucola (rocket) is a good accompaniment, as it adds a pleasant element of spicy, hot, crunchiness. 

My "Ciambella" is lovely eaten cold, with salad. I think that cut into thinnish slices, even cold, it would make a delicious addition to a party buffet.