Gala Placidia Image
06/19/2009 - 05:29

A few weeks ago I started a thread in the old forum about this topic. I still think that it would be great if we could all share our favourite recipes which our families and friends enjoy. They are not supposed to be "gourmet" cooking, just old fashioned home syle "casalinga" recipes.  There are some dishes that everyone in the family, whether children or adults will love. One of these recipes that always work in "Scaloppine alla parmigiana" or Veal Parmigiana. Amazingly, I learned about this dish many years ago, while living in Argentina, where it is considered a family classic. There is is known as "Milanesa alla Napolitana". In Argentina there is a very large Italian community and Italian food is excellent. It is possible to buy all kinds of fresh pasta and this is actually a favourite dish on Sundays, when families gather together at lunch time. Here we go:SCALOPPINE ALLA PARMIGIANA (VEAL PARMIGIANA)INGREDIENTS:1/2 kg veal steak, thinly sliced (round steak is excellent)3-4 beaten eggs (depending on size) with some salt and pepper added to taste1/2 cup flour2 cups bread crumbs3 tablespoons chopped parsley2 cups Italian tomato sauce or ragù (use your favourite recipe)2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese2 tablespoons grated oregano and parsley (chopped)olive oil to fry2 garlic cloves (omit if necessary)Salt and pepper to tastePREPARATION:Place each piece of veal on a chopping board. Pound each piece with a meat mallet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.Pour the beaten egg/salt/pepper into a shallow dish, add the chopped parsley and mix. In another shallow dish put the bread crumbs. Dip the veal into the egg mixture, then into the bread crumbs mixture to coat evenly. If you like a very crunchy texture, you can repeat the operation.Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic cloves and fry them lightly to get their flavour into the oil, but take them out as soon as they start to brown. Cook the breaded veal in the hot oil until golden brown. Drain excess fat on paper towels. Transfer veal to a large shallow baking dish. Pour sauce over veal. Top with shredded Mozzarella cheese and the chopped herbs. Cook or grill in hot oven until the cheese melts.You can accompany the dish with spaghetti, pasta, mashed potatoes or potato chips. Any leftovers may be frozen, although it is unlikely that there will be any left.Which is your favourite Italian Family Recipe?


 Where are those recipes? Don't be shy! Now, here is another favourite. Although it is a traditional Ligurian recipe, and a special dish served at Easter time, it is a great pie to serve in summer accompanied by salad. I already gave this recipe in the old forum in a special thread which included traditional Easter food. TORTA PASQUALINA (Ligurian Easter Pie)Ingredients:1 Pkt phyllo pastryOlive oil as needed400 gr Spinach or Swiss Chard400 gr Silver Beet2 bunches of rocket2 tablespoons lemon juice2 whole cloves3 tablespoons breadcrumbs1/2 Cup Milk1 Cup Grated Parmesan CheeseSalt & Pepper (you may also add a bit of nutmeg)500 g Full Fat Ricotta Cheese1 medium onion, diced and sautéed in some butter until transparent1 jar artichoke hearts, quartered6 Eggs PREPARATION:Cook the spinach, silverbeet and rocket in a large pot with water, lemon juice and the cloves.Drain, squeeze dry and chop. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Soak the bread crumbs in the milk, and then squeeze dry. Add the crumbs to the spinach in a bowl, and add the Ricotta,Parmesan and onion. Add the quartered artichoke hearts. Mix well. Beat two eggs, and fold into the mixture. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Brush a 25 cm baking dish, or, preferably, a spring form pan with a little oil, and drape the first sheet of pastry over the pan, allowing an equal amount to overlap the rim. Brush with oil, and continue to cover with another 6 layers, brushing oil between each one. Put the filling into the pie pan on top of the layers, smoothing it evenly. Make four hollows evenly spaced around the filling, and carefully crack the remaining 4 eggs into the hollows. Cover with 7 layers of phyllo pastry brushing with oil between each layer. Roll and press the edges inward. Brush the top with oil, and prick the top very carefully avoiding to pierce the eggs. Bake for about 60-70 minutes, or until the pie is golden brown. Serve warm, or at room temperature.Some extra advice:You can replace the raw eggs by hard-boiled eggs and perhaps it is better to use these if you are cooking the pie for the first time. It will not greatly affect the final flavour. The number of eggs you may use is for you to decide. Originally, and in the case of the Easter recipe, there were 12, one for each of the Apostles, or 13 (the central one representing Jesus).My recipe has a mixture of greens, because I think that this way it gives more flavour to the dish; however, others use spinach or silverbeet only and some ommit the artichokes. Again, it is a personal choice.

Gala I am not good at cooking cakes but here is a variation on your veal recipe.  I normally do the same thing with chicken breast or coujons of fish: any white fish.  To get the coating extra crispy I coat the chicken or fish with flour first and then dip it in the beaten egg and the bread crumbs mixture.   I fry them in sunflower oil or ground nut oil as olive oil tend to burn quicker.  The chicken is great with sliced fresh tomatoes in season, mozzarella di bufala and fresh basil.  You can always have a side salad as an accompaniment (at this time of the year I always add some sliced peaches to the salad to make it more interesting).  As you can guess all my vegetables and fruits come from my garden and I make some interesting mixtures that intrigue my Italian friends and family. I normally have the fish with a homemade tartar sauce and chips (sadly from supermarket potatoes or from frozen bags as my daughter eat a lot of chips and I do not grow potatoes).

Gala, that looks like a wonderful recipe..I think I will try to make a vegetarian version of it.  It seems very similiar to spanakopita which is a wonderful Greek version of the spinach pie. 

 Yes, Serge, as you rightly say, the "Parmigiana" variations could be almost endless. Chicken, fish, pork and turkey thinly sliced, even aubergines cut lengthwise and with the same egg and breadcrumbs coat.... And then the tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil topping. Salads, fresh vegetables or pasta and potatoes for the winter months. It is a very versatile dish.I had not tried the sunflower oil as yet, but you are right that the temperature should be checked for olive oil. I will try it next time, and I would fry lightly first a couple of garlic cloves in it to give extra flavour.As for fish, we eat quite a lot and I like to buy it whole and I ask the fishmonger to have it butterfly open. I season it  with salt, pepper, chives and chopped herbs, lemon and just a tiny bit of olive oil. I fill the cavity with slices of lemon. I wrap the lot in alfoil and cook it in a medium oven for some 30 minutes, depending on size. I serve it with lemon, tartar or alioli sauces and vegetables. Very healthy and refreshing, particularly in summer.As for potato chips, which can be unavoidable, I bake them in a hot oven with a drizzle of olive oil on top and some salt. I think that they would be healthier this way.....

Your fish recipe sounds good!  Will try it this Friday, we have not lost this religious tradition I think because there is a great fish stall at the local Friday market. I have been doing your recipe with rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Great with herby potato wedges! I love the chinese version: a whole sea bass stuffed with spring onion and julienne of stem ginger and steamed!  To finish I pour soya sauce and then boiling hot sunflower oil on the fish.  The sizzling noise is enough to make you drool!  Serve with boiled basmati rice, which together with fresh stem ginger are available in the big Italian supermarkets. I am also quite partial to the Italian version of the french bouillabaisse.  I pray when we are serving this dish that there are left-overs, because I liquidize the whole thing the next day to make one of the most tasty and fishy soup!  I have only tasted better in one Italian restaurant that only serve lake fish (their specialty is perch barbecued on a fire made with reed) and in the restaurants in the Loire Valley! I certainly look forward to more of your fish recipes so that I can serve them at "Chez Serge". Happy cooking!  

Although we have barbecues throughout the year both in Italy and the UK, it is certainly more popular now that the weather is hot and one can dine alfresco.  This is a quick lunch or evening meal that always goes down well with the family.  My six year old daughter calls it mucha bianca and the fiorentina la mucha rossa.Fire for the barbecue: I keep all the twigs for this purpose as they burn very quickly.  In half an hour I have some very hot charcoal ready for cooking. Barbecued pork chops:  Have your butcher cut the pork cops about 1.5cm thick.  Rub plenty of salt and olive oil on each chop and allow to rest for half an hour (one can rub pesto or curry powder on the chops for a different tasting experience, but leave the chops to marinate for longer).   I normally do this as the fire is burning.  Barbecue the chops until the meat caramelises on the outside but remains moist on the inside (take care not to burn the chops when using other marinades). I normally barbecue some Italian sausages as well,  Serve with a side salad or better still with barbecued sliced courgettes, aubergine, red and yellow peppers (parboil the peppers and quarter them before putting on the fire), radichio (treat as the peppers).  Sprinkle lots of olive oil on the barbecued vegetables and add salt to taste.  These vegetables will last at least a week in the fridge if covered with olive oil.  After that they start to go rancid.  We use the surplus vegetables during the week for topping pizzas. 

 Very interesting recipes, Serge. The Italian Fish Soup is called "Burrida" and comes from Liguria. The name is really the Italianised "Bourride" which is served in the French Riviera and it is practically identical to the "Bouillabaise" from Marseille. On our way by car to Italy, we always overnight at Antibes and we go to a restaurant in the old part of town that serves it. But we have also tasted it in Liguria and it is excellent.The whole fish, oriental style with soy sauce, ginger, chillies and lemon grass (or chives and a bit of lemon juice) is another favourite with my family. We simply love fish and seafood.In Puglia, they prepare "Triglie al Cartoccio", which is the humble mullet, marinated for a couple of hours in the fridge with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, herbs and spices. Then, they put them on a sheet of alfoil, they sprinkle it with black olive pieces and bake it for 10 or 20 minutes, depending on size. Delicious!Last night, we prepared fresh anchovies, cleaned and boned, simply coated with flour and fried in olive oil. Absolutely delicious, although it is a bit messy to clean them. But this is the best time of the year for sardines and anchovies (the months without an "r", namely May, June, July and August) as they are abundant, cheap and at their best. I always believe in eating the fish of the season as it is a guarantee of freshness. As for the barbecued vegetables, they are delicious. The Catalonians have a similar dish called "Escalivada", where they bake the assorted vegetables in the oven with just a drizzle of olive oil. It is obviously a Mediterranean recipe. They also keep them in olive oil in the fridge and it is a great served with cold slices of roast beef.. I have also served them with "Vitello Tonnato", which is one of my husband's favourites. I will dig out that recipe.Happy cooking! 

 I found the thread I had in mind digging out from the old forum as it is very appropriate for this season. It deals with both the festivity of "Ferragosto" (15th of August, Assumption Day) and the "Vitello Tonnato" which is traditionally served during that festivity. Have a can buy the sauce in Italy and you will find it next to the Mayonnaise, but it is not half as good as the one that you can make at home...Careful with this dish if you are preparing the sauce at home. In hot weather, the egg can go off very quickly, so do not refrigerate left overs (if any).

I love to cook very slowly, in UK I have a cast iron range, which is wonderful and I would deifintely need one when in Italy. My favourite is to take a joint of lamb, red wine and rosemary cover and let it cook at low levels for 24 hours. Sometimes adding some Lonza di Fico just to melt into the gravy. The gravy is cooked afterwards wiht the addition of some red wine and some redcurrant jelly together wiht thickening agent.

 Slow cooking is great for certain dishes and I own a couple of electric slow cookers or crock pots. Lamb cooked that way is superb. I usually marinate it with lemon juice, rosemary, olive oil and garlic. Then, I quickly brown it in a skillet to seal the juices and continue cooking it in the crockpot on low for some 12 hours, depending on the amount of meat. I use the marinade to baste it on a regular basis. And the "Lonza di Fico" must be an ideal complement to the sauce as lamb and figs go very well together. I also add some dried apricots to the lamb and it is superb. There is a great recipe called "Agnello sott' aceto" (Lamb in vinegar) which is delicious and it keeps for about a week in the fridge. Ideal for summer.You need:1/2 litre of water1/2 litre of white wine vinegar for boiling  An extra 1/2 litre of white vinegar (you may need more depending on the size of the glass container). Heat it in a separate saucepan and keep it hot.1 kg of lamb (shoulder is a good cut for this) cut into large cubessalt1 dried "peperoncino" or chile cut into pieces Put the water and the 1/2 litre of vinegar in a saucepan. Add the lamb. Allow to boil slowly until it is thoroughly cooked.Drain the lamb and put a layer in a glass container with a tight lid. Cover the meat with the hot vinegar. Add an extra layer of lamb, cover it with the hot vinegar. Repeat the operation as necessary. Add the salt and the "peperoncino". Cover with the lid and keep it in the fridge. It actually tastes better after 2-3 days. This recipe is a traditional one from Basilicata.

Bella, there are some similarities in the ingredients and perhaps there may be a link there. After all it is all Mediterranean cuisine but do try the Torta Pasqualina and you can cook it any time of the year although it is a traditional Easter dish. It also freezes very well, so you can make two, eat one and keep the other one for a later date. With a salad it is ideal for summer lunches or brunches.Happy cooking!

 If you do not know what to cook for an Easter lunch and you want to prepare something typically Italian, have a look at the "Torta Pasqualina" recipe in this thread. It is not difficult and the results are spectacular.