Panettone & Ricotta Pudding or as my Italian’s call it Zuccotto Di Panettone

Panettone and ricotta pudding

Panettone and ricotta pudding

To my Italian’s Panettone is like a box of chocolates would be to my family, you bring it when your told not to bring anything.

If you have never heard of this before which I hadn’t either, to give you the run down. The bready cake comes in a square tall box and was first made in the region of Milan, Italy. It  is usually eaten at Christmas and is considered as a poor man’s dessert because it was originally made from leftover bread and dried fruit. It is a light, soft, shreddy, rich, flavorful bread, speckled with candied orange, citron, raisins and lemon zest. The cake is usually eaten with coffee or dipped in a sweet dessert wine called  Vin Santo (holy wine) after dinner.

Sliced Panettone about to be bathed in Vin Santo

Sliced Panettone about to be bathed in Vin Santo

Recently Mamma had been given quite a few from friends, she was getting bothered by them being in her cupboard. Not because they were going to go off, they last forever. But because she didn’t have any other use for them apart from eating with coffee and the family were getting a little bit tired of having it. I told Mamma I would take one home as I wasn’t sick of them yet she was very happy to part with it.

I happened to come across a recipe in one of my favourite Italian cook books ‘Two Greedy Italians’ by Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo and they use a whole Panettone in a dessert. So I attempted to make it for family dinner next week.

The ‘Two Greedy Italians’ recipe for Zuccotto Di Panettone (Panettone and ricotta pudding) was easy to follow and quite quick to make. My only suggestions to the recipe would be to-

* Make it the night before I find it sets better and all the Vin Santo has absorbed into the bread.

*Turn it out of the bowl just before you are ready to eat it. After a while out of the bowl it starts to lose its form.

*For the candied fruit I used dried pawpaw and candied citrus.

* I added a little extra (30g each) choc chips and almonds to the ricotta mix as there seemed to little for the amount of ricotta.

Filling

Filling

Mamma and the family devoured the pudding, you know you have made something good when u barely get a chance to get a piece. They were very impressed with the dish so much, that Mamma has given me more Panettone so I can make it again and bring it to the next family function.

pan in bowl

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Secret Nonna Business – The Art Of Pasta Making

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I get it now, when Nonna tells me ” I don’t have a recipe, I just know.” Why?, because this weekend I learn’t how to make ravioli with brother No 2’s girlfriend.

Her background is Maltese and her family makes pasta quite often. She needed to make a big batch for a family function of hers that was coming up and I mentioned how interested I was in learning how to make it from scratch.  She said great and  was very happy to have a second set of hands in the mix. I offered to get the filling and bring wine for dinner for the ‘after the pasta making’  session and she said she would do the rest. The filling for the ravioli was ricotta, parmesan and parsley…simple, yes,  but I was assured that if we have the best quality ingredients we wouldn’t need anything else. She got parsley from her parents garden and I knew of a place that makes fresh ricotta that I could buy direct from the producer – word also got out and I ended up getting extra for family – a total 9kg of ricotta and some parmasen in fact. The Italian lady I ordered it from gave me a quizzical look for ordering that much but as soon as I held that ricotta, I knew it was worth coming here, it is was so fresh and still warm. We set up at her place with another extra set of hands from the youngest sister,  so we were ready to begin. We started with mixing the filling which was done by hand so you can feel and taste when it is ready. Extra pepper and parsley was added to really give it a punch of flavour.

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Then it was onto making the dough. We had a basic recipe to follow and at first I was just following her step by step but after a while I got used to how it is meant to be –  the feel between my fingers, if it needed more flour or water and thin enough to just be able to see my finger tips through the pasta.

During our dough session, the eldest sister arrived and offered to help and if she could enjoy it when we were done. We had a little factory going now, we filled and cut out the pasta like an old Nonna, one that had done it a thousand times, our job made easy with the pasta cutters. We needed to portion and freeze them, flouring each piece so they wouldn’t stick. Pasta making is definitely a workout…no wonder there was no need to go to gyms in our Nonna’s time.

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We made a Neapolitan sauce to go with the ravioli, well the type we made is called Agnolotti the difference being instead of being made from two squares of pasta, ours were made from one round piece and folded – they were named after a cook Angiolino from Monferrato, known as ‘Angolot’ and they had different fillings for different feast days.
Sitting down to dinner after making it all day was such an achievement and a joy watching our loved ones eat it. I can imagine this is what the Italian and Maltese women feel when they make it for their own families but on a weekly basis.
The fresh Riccota made a huge difference, it was so creamy that the pockets of pasta oozed in your mouth like honey.

I am so blessed to have this knowledge to pass down to my own friends and family. Bellisimo!

 

A little too quite Family Dinner

family dinner 2

This week was a simple family dinner as much as it can be. Although it was unusually quiet because one of the sisters has gone to Cambodia for study and a holiday. Until now, I never realised that she was the loudest one at dinner, it just isn’t the same without her and her man. Whenever you see them they are bursting energy and so much to tell you no matter how mundane it may be. I am looking forward the family dinner when she returns will be a fun one.

wine potatoes cata

For tonight’s feast Mamma made some family favourites.

Succulent steak cooked to perfection. It was never a particular type of steak. But if it was on special at the grocery store that would be the one, she does need 12 of them plus extra for left overs. Cooking them on the bbq was Pappa’s job, he always does a perfect job. Unless he gets distracted by something the family are doing, then you see him rush to the bbq bellowing with smoke to take them off as quickly as possible. Most of the time they are saved.

Wholesome veggies, corn on the cob, green beans from the garden and roast potatoes with Mamma’s blend of seasonings. (I need to find out what they are)

A mixed salad (that is different ever time) it doesn’t sound much but, her combination of Nonno’s home grown tomatoes, juicy ripe and succulent,. Salty kalamata olives, herbs from the garden, red onion, cucumber, feta, every kind of lettuce leaf with the perfect balance of olive oil and Vinegar.

My number one favourite, CATALONGA! Its cooked chicory, but it’s so much more than just fried greens. I will put up the recipe soon.