Friday, September 25, 2009

Orcchiette for Ovarian Cancer Month

September is Ovarian Cancer month. Once again Michelle of Bleeding Espresso and Sara of Mrs. Adventures in Italy are hosting an "O Foods" contest to help raise awareness for this silent killer.

There are two ways you can help spread the word and be entered into the contest:

1. Post a recipe to your blog using a food that starts or ends with the letter O (e.g., oatmeal, orange, okra, octopus, olive, onion, potato, tomato); include this entire text box in the post; and send your post url along with a photo (100 x 100) to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009

2. If you’re not into the recipe thing, simply post the entire text box in a post on your blog to help spread the word and send your post url to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009.

This year I'm submitting: Orcchiette with Ragu Alla Bolognese.

This particular bolognese sauce is a new one for me. Adapted from Mary Ann Esposito's Mangia Pasta it cooks a lot quicker than most bolognese recipes I'm used to but is equally delicious.

Ragu Alla Bolognese

2 ounces pancetta
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1 medium carrot, peeled
1 medium rib celery
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground pork
½ cup dry red wine
14 ounces tomatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
½ cup heavy cream
Mince the pancetta, onion, carrot and celery together. Set aside. Heat olive oil. Over low heat, cook the minced vegetable mixture very slowly uncovered for about 30 minutes. Add the ground meat, salt and pepper. Brown completely. Stir in the wine and let it completely evaporate. Stir in the tomatoes, cover the pot and cook the ragu over very low heat for 45 minutes. Stir in the cream and heat through.

You can read about my last year's submission here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sorrento Cheese Factory Tour

During our time on the Amalfi coast my husband and I took a side trip to Sorrento where we signed up for a guided tour and tasting at Caseificio Michelangelo. Dating back to the early 1940’s Caseificio Michelangelo is the oldest cheese factory on the Sorrento peninsula. It produces several different cheeses including mozzarella, caciocavallo, provolone, ricotta and caciotta.

We took the Sita bus from Praiano and were met at the stop by Christopher who escorted us the rest of the way. Upon arrival at the factory we were introduced to our tour guide Sara and given a disposable outfit to wear. Very attractive I might add. The tour begins with the first drop of milk and follows the cheese making process all the way to the drying room.

At the end of the tour we were given the chance to try our hand at braiding our own mozzarella. What a cool experience. It’s not as easy as Sara’s daddy makes it look in this video we shot.

After the tour we were brought into the tasting room where a platter of cheese and wine awaited us.

Sara spent time with us going over each of the different cheeses and answering all our questions…and boy did we have a lot of questions. Most importantly…can we bring some cheese back to the US? (answer below)

Visiting Caseificio Michelangelo was a truly unique experience and I would recommend it to anyone visiting the area.

**As for bringing cheese into the US...customs says you may bring in cheese as long as it’s not the soft spreadable kind. But I can tell you from experience you can NOT bring in salami.

Caseificio MIchelangelo
via delle Rose 91
80063 Piano di Sorrento (NA) Italy

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cooking In Praiano Highlights

Here is a sampling of the meals we made during our stay in Praiano, Italy.
On the outdoor grill at our villa
we made Grilled Sausage with a side of Pancetta Wrapped Grilled Asparagus.
A recipe we borrowed from Mario Batali Malloreddus al Pomodoro
Orecchiette with Rabbit Ragu adapted from And our last meal; yes we are leaving paradise tonight.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Cooking and Climbing in Praiano, Italy

I've been in Praiano for one week and I'm still amazed with this little town. First let me tell you that it's hot here... really hot. Second, the stairs are a killer. I don't care what anyone says climbing 67 steps in hot humid weather is not fun.

Third the food is out of this world... fresher than fresh; if that's even possible.

For example: The rabbit we are cooking tonight was hunted just yesterday, according to the butcher, in the hills above town. And the calamari I made last night was fished from the very waters I can see from my patio. The house we are staying in has a huge garden and our landlord, Antonio, is very generous with his bounty. He's given us, among other things, fresh tomatoes right off the vine and lemons picked from his tree.

We've learned what it truly means to cook local. Instead of ordinary meatballs we made lemon polpette with zest from Antonio's lemons and veal ground as we watched, from the butcher. In place of a traditional meaty tomato sauce to dress our pasta we made a sort of salsa crudo with Antonio's tomatoes and the basil which seems to grow wild on the property.

We've been enjoying the long trek to the market each day; and planning our meals around what looks good.

It's something we don't do back home due to time limitations and the fact that it wouldn't make a difference in freshness anyway. I wouldn't trade these experiences for anything. Praiano has opened my eyes to some new things and has strengthened my calf muscles better than any trainer at the gym.