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Layered Potato and Cheese Casserole (Teglia Di Patate Al Formaggio)
Seek out authentic Italian Fontina, the semisoft mild cheese from the Valle d' Aosta. Offer this classic baked dish as a substantial first course or as a simple main course at lunch, perhaps accompanied by a green salad.
2 lb (1 kg) baking potatoes, of uniform size
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup (4 oz/120 g) shredded Fontina cheese
2/3 cup (2 1/2 oz/8O g) grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup (8 fl oz/240 ml) light meat stock (recipe on page 40)
Have ready a large bowl of water. Peel the potatoes and slice them into thin rounds. As soon as they are sliced, place them in the water. When they have all been sliced, drain well and lay out on a kitchen towel to dry.
Preheat an oven to 300°F (150°C). Grease a baking dish about 9 1/2 in (24 cm) in diameter with the butter. In the prepared dish, layer some of the potato slices in a circle, with the slices slightly overlapping, to form a flower. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a small handful of each of the cheeses. Repeat the layering until you have used up all the potatoes, finishing with the cheeses. Pour the meat stock over the surface.
Bake until potatoes are tender when pierced with a toothpick and the top is slightly golden, about 11/2 hours. Be careful that they do not become too brown on top, covering the dish with aluminum foil if necessary. Serve hot directly from the dish.
Shrimp with Tarragon-Ricotta Stuffing (Gambeironi Al Dragoncello E Ricotta)
Here is a refreshing summer dish, as the shrimp are served cold. You can prepare a smaller quantity of therecipe and serve it as a first course on crostini, or "little toasts. " While tarragon is not common throughout Italy, it is showing up in newer recipes such as this.
60 large shrimp (prawns) in the shellrounded
3/4 cup (6 1/2 oz/200 g) ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
pinch of salt
several lettuce leaves
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink and curl slightly, about 5 minutes, or less if they are not large. Drain well and let cool, then peel. Using a sharp knife, make a deep incision lengthwise along the back of each shrimp. Set aside. In a bowl, stir together the ricotta, tarragon and parsley. Season with the salt. Pack the ricotta mixture into a pastry (piping) bag fitted with a star tip. Cover a platter with a bed of lettuce leaves.
Open the incision in each shrimp and pipe a ribbon of the ricotta mixture into each opening. Arrange the shrimp on the lettuce-lined platter and serve.Italy Today the Beautiful Cookbook. Copyright © by Lorenza De'Medici. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.