Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Italy! Carrots with Horseradish Sauce ~ Carote Al Rafano

Admittedly, I'm unstylishly late to the horseradish lovers party. It just wasn't something (probably one of the only things) that I never ate growing up. Not because I didn't like it, but because we just didn't have it our fridge. But, like anyone who suddenly develops full-on adoration for a previously unknown thing, I'm all in. It's slightly sweet and spicy, a little hot, and tangy enough to alert your tongue and nose. Not actually a radish, this herb is related to the turnip, cabbage and mustard. Thought to have first been grown in Southern Russia and Eastern Ukraine, horseradish has many uses that vary according to country and region. In this case, it's mixed in with cream, yogurt and lemon as a dressing for a lovely Northern Italian summer carrot salad.

From the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy (# 4 on the map), horseradish grows abundantly in this northern region. The greens can be used, but if a stronger flavor is preferred, the roots are picked in winter. I don't grow horseradish, so I simply used a jar brand with no additives. If you use it fresh, grate it finely. This clean, colorful salad is a beautiful, easy accompaniment to any meal. Use the freshest carrots you can find to ensure the tender, sweetest flavor and most vibrant color. If you feel like adding a little crunch, toasted pine nuts would be a great addition.

The basics: Cream, lemon juice, horseradish, yogurt and carrots - that's all folks!
 Create wide flat strips by pressing down hard with the vegetable peeler
 Plate carrot strips, top with dressing - garnish with parsley and radishes

Carrots with Horseradish (Carote Al Rafano) Adapted from Italy The Beautiful Cookbook, by Lorenza De Medici

1 lb. carrots
1 lemon
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup plain yogurt
6 Tbsp. horseradish (jar or grated fresh)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Fresh parsley for garnish.

Wash and peel the carrots. Place in a bowl of cold water with a few ice cubes and the juice of one lemon. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Dry the carrots and  peel by pressing firmly on the carrot with the vegetable peeler to get wide, flat strips.
Blend the cream and yogurt, add the horseradish with salt and pepper to taste.
Arrange carrots on a plate, top with as much of the horseradish mixture as desired.
Garnish with fresh parley, radishes or other herbs of your choice.

© 2010-2012, What's Cooking in Your World? Sarah Commerford/All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Italy! Amaretti-Stuffed Peaches ~ Pesche Ripiene Agli Amaretti

Now that my around-the-world cooking journey has ended I get to country hop to my heart's delight, and I can't think of a country I'd like to explore more than Italy. Sitting on my kitchen counter is Italy The Beautiful Cookbook, by Lorenza De Medici. My Dad and his wife gave it to me in 2002 after I'd spent two hours at their house leafing through it, inspired and amazed by the recipes, but until now, hadn't had the time to delve deeply into the book's glossy pages and fascinating text. Divided up by region, as Italy's cuisine differs vastly depending on location, the book offers 250 full color pages of Italian meat, fish, salad, vegetable, rice, pasta and desserts recipes. Most striking is how every recipe is both simple and uses only the freshest, whole foods: olive oil, vegetables, lemons, parsley, garlic, seafood, meat, wine and pasta - everything made from scratch, yet easy and uncomplicated. The result is spectacularly beautiful, delicious food that takes no time at all to prepare and tastes as good as it looks. Nothing fussy, nothing pretentious. My favorite kind of eating.

So, over the next month, maybe longer, I'm going to pick my favorite recipes from the different regions in this book.  Needless to say, my family is totally stoked that they won't be eating peanut stews in the foreseeable future. I've already found a new Italian market in my area that carries some of the harder to source ingredients like real amaretti biscuits, homemade ricotta and dried chestnuts - I'm like a junkie who's just found a flush new street pharmacist.

Hereto-with, the first recipe - perfect for summer: Amaretti Stuffed Peaches from the Piedmont region (#1 on the map) of Italy. Don't get me wrong, I love chocolate desserts and pastry, almost more than I love my children, but fresh summer fruit and whipped cream is untoppable  - I don't think that's a word, but you get what I mean. Ciao!

Amaretti bicuits are delicious alone, with coffee, ice cream or added to whipped cream
Beautiful summer peaches are in season now and make an easy, elegant dessert - Slice and add to the simple syrup to poach, then cool before filling
mmmm....whipped cream - I could never say no to you fat (said in a Homer Simpson voice)
Crush up the cookies - a rolling pin works too
One egg yolk is added to the whipped cream with the crushed cookies
Fill with whipped cream mixture, pour syrup around peaches and serve

Pesche Ripiene Agli Amaraetti - Recipe Adapted from Italy The Beautiful Cookook, by Lorenza De Medici
(Amaretti Stuffed Peaches)

1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup sugar
6 ripe peaches, halved and pitted
12 amaretti biscuists, crushed
1 egg yolk, beaten
3 tablespoons heavy cream, whipped

Boil the wine and sugar on a low-medium flame for 5 minutes to form a simple syrup.
Poach the peach halves in the syrup for 5 more minutes, then lift out with a slotted spoon and let cool.
Fold the amaretti crumbs and egg yolk into the cream.
Fill the peach halves with the cream mixture.
Arrange on a serving platter and pour the remaining wine syrup around the peaches.
Serves 6

© 2010-2012 What's Cooking in Your World? Sarah Commerford/All Rights Reserved