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Updates – Six – June

June, where summer really begins….

Near the river Po, there’s a village called Zibello, known all around the world for a culinary excellence, culatello….every year, the first week-end of june all the area celebrates it with dinner, concerts, games, markets and debates with italian top chefs…….could we miss the chance to eat something so good?

However, the best part of the dinner was the company, as always…….

The village was full of people, all the shops and tourists’ attractions were open………

and I just couldn’t pass the chance to visit the local main church…….

Following the foundation of the marquisate of Zibello, Giovan Francesco Pallavicino, the first gentleman of the small state, before his death expressed the desire to complete the construction of the Dominican convent, which he started in 1494, and a church in the village that served as a family chapel; it was only in the middle of the sixteenth century that the work for the church was started, on the initiative of the Marquis Uberto Pallavicino, before he was forced to surrender the marquisate to the Rangoni of Modena.

The work was concluded around 1580 but the church was consecrated only in 1620; elevated to parish, assumed the functions of the church of the Blessed Virgin of Graces , until then it was dedicated to the saints Gervasio and Protasio. In 1673 the rectory was erected attached to the church, while the bell tower was built in 1677, at the wish of the parish priest don Gardini.

The imposing church develops on a three-nave plant, with three chapels in the absidial area and a baptistery beside the entrance. The symmetrical salient facade , made of red brick in Gothic-Lombard style, is marked in three parts by buttresses surmounted by high tented roofs; in the middle there is a large rose window framed by terracotta tiles made by Jacopo de Stavolis around 1484. On the left side of the façade, the baptistery rises with Renaissance tracts, on which an octagonal dome rises. 

Inside, the three aisles are subdivided by a high colonnade whose decorated capitals support elegant arched bows, whose solemnity is accentuated by ornamental motifs that frame them, and from high vaulted ceiling, repeated in the same shapes even in the lower aisles.

To the left is the baptistery, covered by an octagonal, featuring 19th century decorations by Girolamo Magnani, a scenographer.

The left chapel houses a particular relic of the patron saint of the country, Saint Carlo Borromeo, a piece of the robe he wore on the day when he was extraordinarily saved by an attack. 

The next day we had another culinary date in the city center…..the second edition of Gola Gola Festival, the first after Parma was nominated Unesco City of Gastronomy, so this year the foods stands were even more…

our friend A with two new friends….lol…

For dinner we opted for a very much loved abruzzo excellence, arrosticini

and obviously a little dancing was mandatory!

The night of June 23 is the magic night for excellence. There are, in fact, very ancient popular traditions and profound esoteric and religious meanings that Saint John’s recurrence is linked to the summer solstice that corresponds to the winter one that is remembered at Christmas. In conjunction with the summer solstice, when the sun reaches its maximum positive declination and then resumes the winter walk, begins the summer, so St. John is the supreme solar festival, the overwhelming victory of light on darkness, good on bad. But the most clear and eloquent explanation on the important and significant astral situation is provided by Maria Castelli Zanzucchi, a writer, a scholar of traditions and author of interesting publications: “The sun reaches the highest point on 23 June: it is common knowledge that the night of St. John is the best time for planets and zodiacal signs to give stones and herbs their virtues. It is a magical night, the night of the impossible, of wonders, deceit, evil influences and witches. “

In Parma and around, the traditions of the “rozáda äd San Zvan” (dialect for dew of Saint John) are countless: from the best known, such as the gastronomic dish “tortelli di erbetta” (chard ravioli), to those less well-known, whose origins are lost in the night of time. Preferably the “tortelli” are made to be enjoyed with the feet under the outdoor table, but inside is allowed too, as long as you leave the door and windows open to favor the benefits of dewy influences……better if with dear friends and surrounded by flowers and herbs collected the year before…

Another month gone, leaving great memories of food, places and dear faces……..

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Posted by on October 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Mushroom Pie

  • ½ lb short pastry
  • lb mushrooms
  • 3 oz butter
  • 2 tablespoons Marsala wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup bechamel
  • 1 ¾ oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • onion
  • garlic
  • pepper
Butter a metal oven-dish with wavy edges of about 8 inches in diameter; line with the sheet of dough to a thickness of about 0,2 inch, prick all over, cover with some thin white paper, fill with dried peas, and put into a moderate oven. Remove after 15-20 minutes (it should be barely colored), remove the peas and the sheet of paper, leaving the crust in the oven-dish. Brush with beaten egg and leave in the oven doorway for a couple of minutes to dry the pastry. After this procedure, the crust may be filled. Cut the mushrooms into thick slices, sauté them in the butter for some seconds, add the chopped mixture of onion and garlic, mix, and as soon as the mixture is lightly golden, douse with Marsala wine. Allow to evaporate and reduce the mixture. At this point, pour in the cream, season with salt and pepper, continue cooking over high heat for 5 minutes, taking care to mix often, and then mix in the light béchamel. Cook for some seconds, then fill the crust with this mixture, and sprinkle with grated Parmesan and melted butter. Put into a hot oven. Serve when the surface has become nicely golden.
 
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Posted by on September 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Two cheeses

Per 4 servings:

  • ¾ lb ricotta cheese
  • 4 oz Provolone cheese
  • 3 ½ oz ham
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
  • frying oil
  • salt and pepper

FOR PASTA

  • 1 lb all-purpose flour
  • 3 ½ oz lard
  • egg
  • 1 lemon
  • salt
Prepare the filling by mixing together the ricotta, egg yolks, prosciutto and cubed provolone in a bowl. Add chopped parsley, salt and a pinch of pepper. Mix well, until smooth. On a cutting board, form a well with the flour. Add the eggs, lard, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Mix together with a fork, and then knead by hand for 15 minutes until you have a smooth, firm dough. Stretch our the dough, making a thin sheet. Place balls of filling across half of the dough. Make sure that they are not too close together. Cover with the other half of the sheet of dough and press down around each ball to seal. Cut out the “fritters” using a round pasta-cutter. Fry in boiling oil, then place on paper towels to drain. Serve hot. (My personal variation is adding some smoked ham….a touch of taste more spicy)…
 
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Posted by on August 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Leek? Yes, better than onions….

INGREDIENTS (per 4 servings)
  • ¾ lb reginette pasta
  • ¾ lb prosciutto cotto (cooked ham), cut into 2 slices
  • 2 leeks
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup bechamel
  • 1 ½ oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
PREPARATION:

Clean the leeks by removing the green part.
Cut them in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/10-inch strips.
Then, cut the ham into ½-inch cubes. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a fairly large pan and saute the leeks for a minute.
Add the diced ham and fry for 3 minutes, stirring. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the wine and let evaporate over high heat for 3 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce is smooth.

Reduce heat and cook for 3 minutes.
Meanwhile cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente: reserve a cup of cooking water.
Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce pan. Also add a couple tbsp of cooking water.
Cook over medium heat: add the beschamel, stirring for a few moments, and finally add the Parmigiano Reggiano.

Serve hot.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Tuna for summer

Serving 4:

  • ¾ lb spaghetti
  • lb fresh tuna fillets
  • salt to taste
  • 2 ½ cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Fry the fresh tuna fish in olive oil until it becomes golden, then drain it and salt it. Prepare a tomato sauce and when it is cooked to perfection, add the fried tuna cut into small pieces, along with a generous helping of chopped parsley. Cook together for 10 minutes, over a low heat, and then dress the spaghetti taking care to put on every plate some sauce and tuna fish.

To make it more “siclian style” you can add on top of each plate some chopeed pistacchio….

FOOD HISTORY

Tuna is one of the most characteristic fish of the Mediterranean. Fished for thousands of years, the methods for catching the fish have developed over the centuries. The traditional “tonnara”, of tuna hunting with large nets, has been repaced with museums, restaurants and tourist attractions.
In Sicily, however, there are still two tuna hunts near Trapani: one in Bonagia and the other in Favignana.
Here, you can witness the “mattanza”,  the ancient passage of the large from the Atlantic to the Mediteranean at the end of spring.
Over 300 kilos of fish are caught in the large nets attached to boats with out motors. The chief, or “rais”, sings ancient Sicilian songs, giving the fishermen his orders. Leftover from an archaic world, the tuna hunts are almost impossible to understand. They are a combination of tradition and superstition, a fight for survival and desire for wealth. A tragic, one-of-a-kind show.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Spring salad

Per 8 servings:

  • ½ lb potatoes, boiled
  • ½ lb lentils
  • ½ lb chickpeas
  • 1 spring cabbage
  • mustard
  • white wine vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • salt
  • ground pepper

Preparation: Thinly slice the cabbage. Wash and dry well. Place on a serving dish. Rinse the chickpeas and lentils of their soaking liquid. Drain beans well and place them on top of the cabbage. Peal and cube the boiled potatoes, then toss with the rest of the salad. Puree at high speed, 1 tbsp white wine, 1 tsp mustard, a pinch of salt and 1/2 cup oil. Pour the emulsified sauce on the salad and finish with a pinch of freshly ground black pepper.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Millefoglie

Millefoglie is the Italian version of the French pastry Mille-feuille, which means “thousand leaves”. Millefoglie is a layered cake that can be filled with a number of delicious treats in several ways.

INGREDIENTS per 4 servings

  • 1 lb puff pastry
  • oz confectioners sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ stick vanilla
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 ½ oz sugar
  • oz all-purpose flour
  • 4 ½ oz whipping cream
  • oz confectioners sugar
  • 12 strawberries

GARNISH

  • 4 strawberries
  • confectioners sugar to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Unfold 1 puff pastry sheet and gently roll it out into a 12 inch piece with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. Place it into a large buttered baking sheet, and prick it all over with a fork. Trim any overhang of the pastry with a knife. Cut each sheet into rectangular pieces measuring 3 x 1.5 inches. Sprinkle them with sugar and then bake in a heated oven at 350° F until the pastry is puffed and golden (approx 15 minutes). Let it cool on the racks.

TO PREPARE THE CHANTILLY CREAM:

Boil the milk being careful to not burn it.
Whisk the egg yolk and sugar, add the flour and continue to mix. Pour in part of the hot milk in order to obtain a smooth cream. Add the vanilla stick, allowing it to aromatize the mixture and add the remaining milk very slowly. Cook over moderate heat and keep mixing until it is thickened. Let it cool quickly. Whip the cream and add it to the Chantilly Cream.

On the serving plate, spread part of the cooled pastry cream mixture over one puff pastry cake base.  Make a second layer, repeating the previous step.

Cover it with a third puff pastry cake. Decorate the top and the plate with cubed strawberries, and powdered sugar (or you can put strawberries on top of each layer too).

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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