Thursday, September 29, 2016

Savory Taralli (Puglia Region, cookies)

These delicious Savory Taralli can be made up in a hurry. Who does not remember growing up with these cookies during Holiday time?  With a little practice, they can be ready in an hour.  A few simple ingredients is all you need. This recipe can be made in several ways.  The sweetened version is the most common here in the States, typically made during holiday time.  
 Had lots of fun this past month with Mom around.  She hadn't made these in so many years.  Her mother made these typically around Easter time, so we did too.  Thank you to the Academia Barilla cooking School in Parma, Italy  for their video recipe and
reminding us all that Traditions are a very important part of today's kitchen and should remain that way. 
Here is my variation. 
I used the food Processor.   Traditionally made by hand and still made my hand today.  So don't worry if you don't have a food processor.  Will take some extra kneading.

Recipe:  Makes about 2 dozen or so
16 oz of unbleached flour
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of dried fennel (one teaspoon per cup of flour)
(Optional teaspoon of black pepper)
In the food processor or standing mixer, combine all the above ingredients.   Mix for a few minutes until your dough begins to come together.   There will be crumbs.  Place onto a board  or counter and combine into a ball.   Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest approximately 15 mintues to 20 minutes.
Line 2 baking pans with Parchment paper.  (A kitchen towel will not work well as lint may be an issue while your taralli are draining).
Cut a small piece of dough off and roll out.  It will be oily some.  Do not worry.  You need it pliable and workable.  If it's to dry, add some warm water to your hands.  You can roll out between your hands if that works.  Working quickly, roll out your Taralli in a a tubular fashion.   Then wrap in a circle and tuck the ends under and pinch.

In the meantime, put a pasta pot of Water to boil.  Add a tablespoon of salt to the water.  When the water comes to a hard boil, carefully drop your Taralli into the water for a few minutes.  This cooking method, plumps up your Taralli and helps to give them that beautiful shine when they are done, as they will dry out in the oven.

After a few minutes, they will rise to the top.   Carefully remove to a parchment lined baking sheet.   Transfer them again to a dry Parchment lined baking sheet.  You don't want to use a towel as you don't want lint all over your Taralli.  Don't drain them in a colander as they might stick together.  This is the safest way to do it. 
Preheat your oven to 365 degrees bake.  If you are using convection, plese lower your oven accordingly.   Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.  Don't worry if they are not all exactly the same size.  They will still require the same cooking time.

They will be a light golden brown.  Your kitchen will smell like fennel, an added bonus.  Buon Appetito!
They won't last!!!   Serve before dinner or as a snack.   Traditionally, these savory treats were dipped in a glass of wine and eaten.   Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Homemade Pasta Cavatelli (Mom's Version from Bari)

When my Mother recently came for a visit, I was determined to keep her busy.  Not hard to do around here, as we are always dreaming of good food.   She hadn't made Cavatelli in so long, she was willing to give it a try.  Relying on her memories was so easy.  She recalled making these with her Mother.   She reminded me that there was no such thing as measuring, everything was "Al occho" or with your eyes.   So, with great determination, we followed my full proof remedy for bringing dough together.  My 3 cup principle.
3 cups unbleached flour/ 1 plus 1/4 cup of water (give or take a few drops).  1 teaspoons of salt and mix in your standing mixer until your dough comes together in a ball. You an work it by hand or even with a food processor.  Kneading by hand is all my Mother wanted to do.  Imagine  her surprise when the work was done for her by the standing mixer.
You can let it rest about 10 minutes after it all comes together.   Don't wait to long, the dough will become to elastic.   While you wait, cover two baking sheets with Parchment paper and dust with flour.

Shape and dust your ball with flour.   Cover with plastic wrap.

Cut off a small piece at a time and roll either in between your hands or on a floured surface.    Then simply cut 1/4 inch pieces with a knife.
With the back of a fork, press and roll.   The pasta shape will take shape,  My Mother used her fingers (the traditional way), to have the pasta take shape.  Just cut, and shape by pressing down with your middle and forefinger.  Use the very tips of your finger only,  Press and roll.

You can set them in the freezer for later use by layering your trays in your freezer.  When they are solid, simply slip them into freezer bags with small cuttings of parchment.   They will keep up to a month.   I don't know anyone who can stand to keep them in the freezer at all.  They want to use them up in a hurry.

To cook, gently place the Cavatelli in a large pot of  salted, boiling water.   Let cook for about 8-9 minutes or so.   Mine had to cook to the 11 minute mark.  Remember to drain well.  Its going to depend on the condition of your Cavatelli.   If they are thick, they will need a longer cooking time.   Just takes some practice.

I tossed mine with some simple salsa al Pomodoro (Tomato sauce) and some Butter, fried sage leaves and Parmigiano.
Version 2 with Butter and fried Sage leaves

Version 2 Ricotta Style Cavatelli
"Paese che vai usanza che trovi"  Translation,  Countries you visit, customs you will find.   That's the thing about Italy.  You can go two blocks and find completely different cuisine.  To say foods vary Regionally, is almost to vague.  Truth be told, food varies from tiny city to city, somtimes just blocks apart.   Cavatelli is one of those foods. My Mother's version, from the Puglia region, is rather simple.  Here is a second version,  with Ricotta.   I actually liked this version best.   It makes for a much lighter Cavatelli, with a firm but soft texture.    This recipe only works well for Cavatelli or if you are making Penne by hand (That is another recipe posting).
3 cups flour
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta drained
3/4 cup warm water plus up to 1/4 cup additional water if needed
1 teaspoon of salt for your Cavatelli plus one tablespoon for your pasta water.    Since no two flours are the same,its going to take a little practice.
Follow the method above to work the dough into a ball with your stand mixer, then cutting a  piece at a time, roll out and work with your fingers or fork (Add the ricotta to the flour, salt, then water). 
 Just remember, there is nothing fancy to Pasta making, just takes determination.
 Once you relax, it will come together.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me here on this blog or send me a message on facebook at

Buon Appetito!