Passion for Piedmont

Passion for Piedmont

by Matt Kramer

Hardcover

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Overview

Located in the northwest region of Italy, Piedmont is recognized by Italians for having the richest of the regional cuisines, reaching its pinnacle in the fall, when the white truffles and porcini mushrooms indigenous to the area appear on the table. It is also home to the rice producing Po Valley, the motherland of risotto. Matt Kramer shares his passion for Piedmont in over 150 recipes featuring the specialties of the region-from antipasti such as Vitello Tonnato to easy, classic pasta dishes such as tajarin, Piedmont's interpretation of tagliatelle, from main courses such as Chicken Braised with Sweet Red Peppers to authentic desserts like Oven-Warmed Peaches Stuffed with Crushed Amaretti Cookies and Cocoa. An entire chapter is devoted to the world class wines of Piedmont, which include the noble Barolo and Barbaresco. With descriptive prose and beautiful color photography, just as The Splendid Table did for Emilia Romagna, A Passion for Piedmont will share the region's culinary treasures.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780688115944
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 12/01/1997
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 8.17(w) x 10.32(h) x 1.12(d)

Read an Excerpt

Parmesan Cheese Flan
Sformato di Parmigiano-Reggiano

This is one of the best sformati I've come across in Piedmont, at Guido Ristorante in Costigliole d'Asti, which is Piedmont's greatest restaurant. As always, the quality of the ingredients is everything: Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano is a necessity. Here, an impressive quantity is used, but to a glorious end.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup milk
3 large eggs
6 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)
Large pinch of salt
Boiling water for the hot-water bath

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Generously butter or oil six 4-ounce molds.

Place a heavy-bottomed small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the butter and, when melted, whisk in the flour. Whisk constantly for 3 minutes to allow the flour to fully absorb the butter. Then, slowly dribble in the milk, whisking constantly, to create the bechamel. The sauce should be thick, but not gluey. (The amount of milk added determines the consistency.)

Transfer the sauce to a food processor or blender. Add the eggs and process briefly. Then add the cheese and salt and process for 2 minutes to combine thoroughly. (The sformati base can be prepared ahead and refrigerated until needed.)

Pour the cheese mixture into the prepared molds, leaving a little clearance from the top rim. Set the molds inside the hot-water-bath vessel (see page 48). Carefully pour in boiling water to come two thirds of the way up the sides of the molds. Place the hot-water bath in the oven and bake until the flans are puffed and firm, about 30 minutes.

Remove the bath from the oven. Lift out the molds. Letthe sformati rest for a minute or two in their molds, during which time they will deflate and recede from the sides of the molds. Run a thin knife around the inside of each mold. Place a small serving plate over the top of the mold and invert to unmold. Serve immediately.

Copyright © 1997 by Matt Kramer.

Recipe

This is one of the best sformati I've come across in Piedmont, at Guido Ristorante in Costigliole d'Asti, which is Piedmont's greatest restaurant. As always, the quality of the ingredients is everything: Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano is a necessity. Here, an impressive quantity is used, but to a glorious end.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup milk
3 large eggs
6 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)
Large pinch of salt
Boiling water for the hot-water bath

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Generously butter or oil six 4-ounce molds.

Place a heavy-bottomed small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the butter and, when melted, whisk in the flour. Whisk constantly for 3 minutes to allow the flour to fully absorb the butter. Then, slowly dribble in the milk, whisking constantly, to create the bechamel. The sauce should be thick, but not gluey. (The amount of milk added determines the consistency.)

Transfer the sauce to a food processor or blender. Add the eggs and process briefly. Then add the cheese and salt and process for 2 minutes to combine thoroughly. (The sformati base can be prepared ahead and refrigerated until needed.)

Pour the cheese mixture into the prepared molds, leaving a little clearance from the top rim.

Set the molds inside the hot-water-bath vessel (see page 48). Carefully pour in boiling water to come two thirds of the way up the sides of the molds. Place the hot-water bath in the oven and bake until the flans are puffed and firm, about 30 minutes.

Remove the bath from the oven. Lift out the molds. Let the sformati rest for a minute or two in their molds, during which time they will deflate and recede from the sides of the molds. Run a thin knife around the inside of each mold. Place a small serving plate over the top of the mold and invert to unmold. Serve immediately.

Tagliatelle with Garlic and Walnut Sauce
L'Aja

This is an old-fashioned mountain sauce once much loved among the Piedmontese in the northern reaches of the region, especially around the city of Biella. Originally, everything was pounded in a large mortar with a pestle, ground until a creamy sauce was created. If you have a good-size mortar and pestle, and the inclination to do things the old-fashioned way, I recommend it. Wonderful as the food processor (or blender) is, it doesn't extract as much flavor from the nuts and garlic as does grinding them in a mortar with a pestle. That said, the result from a food processor or blender still is wonderfully flavorful.

Makes 6 servings

For the sauce:

48 walnut halves (about 3 ounces), very finely chopped or ground
3 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dried bread crumbs, soaked in 1/2 cup milk

For the dish:

1 pound tajarìn (see page 145) or fresh tagliatelle
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Place all the sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process until well blended, about 2 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente about 1-1/2 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer to a large, warm bowl. Add the butter and sauce and mix until the pasta is thoroughly coated. Serve with Parmigiano on top.

Hazelnut Cake
Torta di Nocciole

This is one of the most straightforward of Piedmont's many hazelnut cakes. Here, a hazelnut-infused batter is created, poured into a baking dish, and briefly baked. I find that a little sweetened whipped cream alongside is just the ticket.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

2/3 pound shelled hazelnuts
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup strong black coffee
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons dry yeast
2 tablespoons dark or light rum
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch baking pan. Set aside.

Toast the shelled hazelnuts on a baking sheet until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Rub off the papery skins and let cool completely. Increase the oven temperatute to 400°F.

Chop the hazelnuts very fine in a food processor, taking care not to overprocess, which would turn them into hazelnut butter. In a mixing bowl, combine the hazelnuts, sugar, and flour. When well mixed, add the remaining ingredients, one at a time, stirring until the batter is well blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, shaking the dish gently to even it out. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan, then invert and serve in slices.

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