Recipes: Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy

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    CHOCOLATE BREAD PARFAIT
    Pane e Cioccolata al Cucchiaio
     Serves 6
    Th is recalls for me the chocolate- and- bread sandwiches that sometimes were my lunch, and always a
    special treat. And it is another inventive way surplus is used in Umbrian cuisine, with leftover country
    bread serving as the foundation of an elegant layered dessert. Th ough it is soaked with chocolate and
    espresso sauce and buried in whipped cream, the bread doesn’t disintegrate, and provides a pleasing
    textural contrast in every heavenly spoonful.
    8 ounces
    chocolate,
    8 ounces
    bittersweet or semisweetfi nely choppedcountry- style white bread,
    crusts removed
    . cup freshly brewed
    espresso
    2 tablespoons
    dark rum
    2 tablespoons
    sugar
    1. cups chilled
    heavy cream
    1 cup sliced
    almonds, toasted
    recommended equipment:
    (12 by 18 inches); a spouted measuring cup, 1 pint or larger; 6 parfait glasses or wineglasses,
    preferably balloon- shaped
    A large rimmed tray or baking sheet, such as a half- sheet pan
     
    begins to melt, stir until completely smooth. Keep it warm, over the water, off the heat.
    Put the chopped chocolate in a bowl set in a pan of hot (not boiling) water. When the chocolate
     
    baking sheet.
    Slice the bread into .- inch- thick slices, and lay them fl at in one layer, close together, on the tray or
     
    stir in half the melted chocolate. Pour the sauce all over the bread slices, then fl ip them over and turn them
    on the tray, to make sure all the surfaces are coated. Let the bread absorb the sauce for a few minutes.
    Pour the warm espresso into a spouted measuring cup, stir in the rum and sugar until sugar dissolves, then
    Meanwhile, whip the cream until soft peaks form, by hand or with an electric mixer.
     
    parfait layer in the six serving glasses, dropping an equal amount of chocolatey bread into each. Scrape
    up some of the unabsorbed chocolate sauce that remains on the baking sheet, and drizzle a bit over the
    bread layers. Next, drop a layer of whipped cream in the glasses, using up half the cream. Top the cream
    layer with toasted almonds, using half the nuts
    Repeat the layering sequence: drop more soaked bread into each glass, drizzle over it the chocolate
    sauce from the tray and the remaining melted chocolate. Dollop another layer of whipped cream in the
    glasses, using it all up, and sprinkle the remaining almonds on top of each parfait. Th is dessert is best
    when served immediately, while the melted chocolate is still warm and runny.
    To assemble the parfaits: Break the bread into 1- inch pieces. Use half the pieces to make the bottom
    S
    AUSAGES IN THE SKILLET WITH GRAPES
    Salsicce allUva
     Serves 6
    Th e Umbrian town of Norcia is, among other distinctions, so famous for the skill of its pork butchers
    and the quality of their products that the term
    purveys pork and pork specialties of the highest quality—and nothing else.
    Th is is one of the memorable pork dishes that I discovered in Umbria recently. And though there are
    no sausages better than those made by an Umbrian Norcino in his hometown, this will be wonderful
    with any good- quality sweet sausage available in yours. Th e name—Sausages in the Skillet with
    Grapes—describes the ingredients and cooking method perfectly. Just keep in mind that the cooking
    here is slow and gentle, not high- temperature grilling as one usually does with sausages.
    norcineria throughout Italy designates a shop that
    . cup
    extra- virgin olive oil
    8 plump
    2. pounds
    garlic cloves, crushed and peeledsweet Italian sausages,
    preferably without fennel seeds (8 or more
    sausages, depending on size)
    . teaspoon
    1. pounds
    peperoncino fl akes, or to tasteseedless green grapes,
    picked from the stem and washed
    (about 3 cups)
    recommended equipment:
    with a cover
    A heavy- bottomed skillet or saute pan, 12- inch diameter or larger,
     
    is sizzling, lay in all the sausages in one layer, and cover the pan. Cook the sausages slowly, turning
    and moving them around the skillet occasionally; after 10 minutes or so, sprinkle the peperoncino in
    between the sausages. Continue low and slow cooking for 25 to 30 minutes in all, until the sausages
    are cooked through and nicely browned all over. Remove the pan from the burner, tilt it, and carefully
    spoon out excess fat.
    Pour the olive oil into the skillet, toss in the garlic cloves, and set it over low heat. When the garlic
     
    bottom, moistening them with meat juices. Cover, and cook for 10 minutes or so, until the grapes
    begin to soften, wrinkle, and release their own juices. Remove the cover, turn the heat to high, and
    boil the pan juices to concentrate them to a syrupy consistency, stirring and turning the sausages
    and grapes frequently to glaze them.
    Set the skillet back over low heat, and scatter in the grapes. Stir and tumble them in the pan
     
    juices. Or serve them right from the pan (cut in half, if large), spooning grapes and thickened
    juices over each portion.
    To serve family- style: arrange the sausages on a warm platter, topped with the grapes and pan