Liguria is where pesto is originally from, one of the most popular sauces in Italian cuisine. Seafood is a major staple of Liguria, as the sea has been part of the region’s culture since its beginning. Another important aspect of the culture is the beach. Tourists have been flocking to the Italian Riviera for decades to experience its calm, deep blue water.
Liguria is the coastal region of north-western Italy, where Genoa is the capital. Liguria is bordered by France to the west, Piedmont to the north and Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany to the east. It lies on the Ligurian Sea. This narrow strip of land is bordered by the sea, the Alps and the Apennines mountains. Mountains and steep cliffs that rise loftily out of the Ligurian Sea in the most northerly part of the Western Mediterranean.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the region’s economic growth was remarkable: steel mills and shipyards flourished along the coast from Imperia to La Spezia, while the port of Genoa became the main commercial hub of industrializing Northern Italy. During the tragic period of World War II, Liguria experienced heavy bombings, hunger and two years of occupation by the German troops, against whom a liberation struggle was led. When Allied troops eventually entered Genoa, they were welcomed by Italian partisans who, in a successful insurrection, had freed the city and accepted the surrender of the local German command.
Steel, once a major industry during the booming 1950s and 1960s, phased out after the late 1980s, as Italy moved away from heavy industry to pursue more technologically advanced and less polluting productions. Ligurian businesses turned towards a widely diversified range of high-quality and high-tech products (food, electrical engineering, electronics, petrochemicals, aerospace etc.). Despite this new direction, the region still maintains a flourishing shipbuilding industry (yacht construction and maintenance, cruise liners and military shipyards).
A good motorways network (376 km, 234 mi) makes communications with the border regions relatively easy. The main motorway is located along the coastline, connecting the main ports of Nice (in France), Savona, Genoa and La Spezia.
The capital, Genoa, one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean and home to Christopher Columbus, was a powerful maritime state in the Middle Ages. Today, one can find impressive buildings, elegant mansions and churches — all of which bear witness to Liguria’s glorious past and which blend in perfectly with the modern city. Numerous historical treasures and be found throughout Liguria. Sanremo is one of Italy’s most famous bathing resorts and the place where the annual Italian pop music festival takes place. Other important cities in Liguria are: Imperia, Savona and La Spezia.
Visit Liguria in the video below:
The forests are covered with pine trees, providing the fresh pine nuts (pignoli) for Ligurian dishes. Mushrooms and chestnuts abound in the hills, as do rabbits and other wild game, making the region ideal for producing hearty and rustic country dishes. The warm Mediterranean air helps create good conditions for growing olives, wine grapes, corn, herbs (particularly basil), garlic, chickpeas, zucchini, potatoes, onions and artichokes. Because of its wide coastline, fish and shellfish are the predominant proteins used in Ligurian cooking, though the region shares its love of pork and pork products with both its Italian and French neighbors.
Pasta is important to the region’s cuisine. A small lasagna noodle originated here, made from chestnut flour, is still popular today. The innovative Ligurians were skilled in making do with locally grown ingredients, like chestnuts and chickpeas, to produce flours to use in pasta, polenta and bread. Today, wheat is fairly easy to import to the region, so it is now the primary ingredient in pastas and breads.
Pesto sauce is popular as a topping for pastas and is widely consumed, since basil and pine nuts are so readily available. Fidelini, a local favorite pasta, cut long and thin, is the perfect base for light sauces. Other favorites include, trenette a form of flat, thin pasta similar to linguine and hearty gnocchi, both of which can be found on almost every menu.
High on the list of Ligurian specialties is the bread known as focaccia. This flatbread is not meant to be stored for any length of time, but rather is best eaten straight from the oven. Though usually baked plain, the region’s abundance of herbs are often combined and sprinkled on top. Cheeses, meats and fresh vegetables are other regional additions to focaccia. Ligurian focaccias have a dense texture, perfect for sopping up rich sauces or simply a great tasting olive oil.
Regional Favorites To Make At Home
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing and brushing
- 1 cup warm water
- One ¼-ounce packet active dry yeast
- 3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons rosemary or thyme leaves
Oil a large bowl and set it aside. Pour the water into a medium-sized bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the oil.
Mix together the flour and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the yeast mixture into the well, then stir the yeast mixture into the flour with a wooden spoon until a slightly sticky dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Coat your hands with flour, then knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, 2-3 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball, put it into the oiled bowl and roll it in the bowl to coat it lightly with oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and set it in a warm spot until the dough roughly doubles in size, about 2 hours.
Lightly oil a 7-by-11-inch baking pan. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and shape it into a rectangle to fit the baking pan. Put it in the oiled pan and pat the top down gently so it is even. Using the handle end of a wooden spoon, make regular rows of slight indentations across the entire surface, spacing the indentations about 2 inches apart. Cover the pan with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise for another hour at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Brush the top of the dough lightly with oil, then sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. (If desired, sprinkle 2 tablespoons rosemary or thyme leaves over the top of the focaccia after it has been in the oven for about 10 minutes.)
Serve warm or at room temperature and cut into wedges or squares.
Cozze alla Maggiorana ed Aglio alla Ligure (Steamed Mussels with Marjoram and Garlic Ligurian-Style)
Mussels are plentiful along the rugged Ligurian coastline. Marjoram, a favorite herb in Liguria, is usually added to seafood dishes. Toss the mussels with 1 pound of cooked linguine for a first course.
- 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed, beards removed
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced marjoram
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
Soak the mussels in cool water to cover with 1 tablespoon of the salt for 30 minutes, then drain and rinse thoroughly a few times. This step is essential for ridding the mussels of any dirt or sediment.
Place the garlic, marjoram, parsley and olive oil in a 4-quart pot. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the wine, mussels and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Cover and cook until the mussels open, about 8 minutes. Discard any mussels that remain closed and serve hot, with the cooking juices.
Ligurian Style Pesto Lasagna
- Pesto, recipe follows
- Besciamella, recipe follows
- Butter, for baking dish, plus 2 tablespoons cut into small pieces for the topping
- 1 1/2 (9-ounce) boxes no boil lasagna noodles
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup of butter
- 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
- 4 cups of milk
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 cups of fresh basil leaves (about 4 oz)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup of pignoli
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Sardo or Romano Cheese
- Salt and pepper
Melt the 1/2 cup butter in a pan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour.
Pour in the milk, whisking constantly, while bringing the mixture to a boil; simmer for about 15 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Rinse the basil and separate the leaves from the stems.
Grate the cheeses and peel the garlic.
Combine the basil, the garlic, the pignoli and the olive oil in a blender and process until a paste forms. Add the cheeses, salt and pepper and blend until smooth.
MAKING THE LASAGNA
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a 13″ × 9″ x 4″ pan layer the ingredients as follows:
– a thin layer of besciamella
– cover with a layer of pasta
– a thin layer of besciamella
– 4 tablespoons of pesto, gently spread across the surface
– sprinkle the layer with 2 tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan
– cover with a layer of pasta
– repeat the layering until you use all the pasta
– top with a very thin layer of besciamella and remaining pesto, parmesan cheese and dot with the 2 tablespoons of butter
Bake the lasagna for 30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes and serve with extra parmesan cheese.
Italian Plum Cake
- 1 cup unblanched almonds
- 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/3 cup for topping
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 pounds Italian plums, pitted and sliced thickly
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a 10-inch tart pan or springform pan.
Put the almonds and the 1/2 cup sugar in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add the flour and salt and pulse once more. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
Beat the eggs with the milk in another bowl and stir in the melted butter. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and whisk for a minute or two until the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter into the pan and smooth with a spatula. Arrange the plum slices on top on a circular pattern. Sprinkle the 1/ 3 cup sugar over the plums.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden and a paring knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
This Italian region comprises the historical areas of Emilia and Romagna. Half the territory is formed by the Apennines and the other half is a large plain, which reaches east to the Adriatic Sea. The coastline is flat and sandy with lagoons and marshy areas.
Emilia-Romagna is one of the wealthiest and most developed regions in Europe, with the third highest GDP per capita in Italy. Bologna, its capital, has one of Italy’s highest quality of life standards. Emilia-Romagna is also a cultural and tourist center, being the home of the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the world. Its cuisine is renowned and it is home to the automotive companies of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Pagani, De Tomaso and Ducati.
Popular coastal resorts such as Rimini and Riccione are located in this region. Other important cities include Parma, Ferrara, Modena, Piacenza, Ravenna, Forlì and Reggio Emilia.
Despite being an industrial power, Emilia-Romagna is also a leading region in agriculture, with farming contributing 5.8% of the region’s agricultural products. Cereals, potatoes, corn, tomatoes and onions are the most important products, along with fruit and grapes for the production of wine (of which the best known are Emilia’s Lambrusco, Bologna’s Pignoletto, Romagna’s Sangiovese and white Albana). Cattle and hog breeding are also highly developed.
Tourism is increasingly important, especially along the Adriatic coastline and the art museum cities. Since 187 B.C., when the Romans built the 125-Mile Roman Road/Via Emilia, this thoroughfare has taken travelers throughout the region and connected them with the major trading centers of Venice, Genoa and central/northern Europe. This main roadway crosses the region from north-west (Piacenza) to the south-east (Adriatic coast), connecting the main cities of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and the Adriatic coast.
Emilia-Romagna gave birth to two great musicians, one of the most important composers of music, Giuseppe Verdi and Toscanini, the famous conductor. Marcella Hazan, one of the foremost authorities on Italian cuisine, was born in 1924 in the village of Cesenatico in Emilia-Romagna. She earned a doctorate in natural sciences and biology from the University of Ferrara. Her cookbooks are credited with introducing the public in the United States and Britain to the techniques of traditional Italian cooking. She moved to New York City following her marriage to Victor Hazan and published her first book, The Classic Italian Cook Book, in 1973.
The most popular sport in Emilia-Romagna is football. Several famous clubs from Emilia-Romagna compete at a high level on the national stage: Cesena, Parma and Sassuolo. With 13 professional clubs in 2013, the region is only bettered in terms of a number of professional clubs by Lombardy. It also has 747 amateur clubs, 1,522 football pitches and 75,328 registered players. Another sport which is very popular in this region is basketball and teams from Emilia-Romagna compete in the Lega Basket Serie A. Zebre rugby club competes professionally in the Guinness Pro 12 league. The club’s home ground is located in Parma.
Take a tour of Emilia-Romagna with the video below.
The Cuisine of Emilia-Romagna
The celebrated balsamic vinegar is made in the Emilian cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia, following legally binding traditional procedures. Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan Cheese) is produced in Reggio Emilia, Parma, Modena and Bologna, while Grana Padano is produced in the rest of the region. Prosciutto di Parma is Italy’s most popular ham, especially beyond Italy where it’s widely exported. With its roots going back to 100 BC, when a salt-cured ham was mentioned in the writings of Cato, Prosciutto has a long and hallowed history in the Parma province.
Antipasto is optional before the first course of a traditional meal and may feature anything from greens with prosciutto and balsamic vinegar to pears with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and balsamic vinegar. Pasta is often the first course and Emilia-Romagna is known for its egg and filled pastas, such as tortellini, lasagna and tagliatelle. In some areas of Romagna rice is eaten, with risotto taking the place of pasta. Polenta, a cornmeal-based dish, is common both in Emilia and Romagna.
Seafood, poultry and meats comprise the second course. Although the Adriatic coast is a major fishing area (well-known for its eels and clams), the region is more famous for its meat products, especially pork-based, that include: Parma’s prosciutto, culatello and Felino salami, Piacenza’s pancetta, coppa and salami, Bologna’s mortadella and salame rosa, Modena’s zampone, cotechino and cappello del prete and Ferrara’s salama da sugo. Reggio Emilia is famous for erbazzone, a spinach and Parmigiano Reggiano pie and Gnocco Fritto, flour strips fried in boiling oil and eaten in combination with ham or salami.
From grilled asparagus with Parma ham to basil/onion mashed potatoes or roasted beets and onions, vegetables play a major role in Emilia-Romagna side dishes. Residents boil, sauté, braise, bake or grill radicchio and other tart greens. They also serve a cornucopia of other vegetables, including sweet fennel, wild mushrooms, zucchini, cauliflower, beets, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, onions, chard, sweet squashes, cabbage, eggplant, green beans and asparagus.
Sweet pastas may be a dessert or a side dish. Rich tortes, almond and apple cream tarts, sweet ravioli with winter fruit and strawberries & red wine often find their way to the table. Regional desserts include zuppa inglese (custard-based dessert made with sponge cake and Alchermes liqueur) and panpepato (Christmas cake made with pepper, chocolate, spices, and almonds).
Some differences do exist in the cuisines of Emilia and Romagna. Located between Florence and Venice and south of Milan, Emilia has lush plains, gentle hills and a cuisine that demonstrates more Northern Italian influences and capitalizes on the region’s ample supply of butter, cream and meat that is usually poached or braised. The Romagna area includes the Adriatic coast, part of the Ferrara province and the rugged mountain ranges. Food preferences follow those found in central Italy, with olive oil used as a base for many dishes, plenty of herbs and a preference for spit roasting and griddle baking.
TRADITIONAL RECIPES OF EMILIA-ROMAGNA
PUMPKIN RAVIOLI (CAPPELLACCI)
FOR THE PASTA
- 10 oz all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- Pinch of salt
FOR THE FILLING
- 2 lbs pumpkin, baked and the flesh scooped out
- 7 oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Nutmeg to taste
- 2 oz butter
- Salt to taste
- 1 egg
For the pasta:
Mix the eggs, flour and a pinch of salt until thoroughly combined.
Roll out into thin sheets on a pasta machine and cut into squares, about 2.5 inches a side.
For the filling:
Mix the baked pumpkin pulp with the egg, the grated cheese and the nutmeg.
Put the filling on half the squares of pasta and top with another square. Press the edges with a fork to seal.
Cook them in abundant salted water and season with melted butter, sage and grated cheese.
BEEF FILLET WITH BALSAMIC VINEGAR SAUCE
- 1 ¾ lb beef fillet
- 1 ½ ounces all-purpose flour, plus extra for coating the meat
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- Salt to taste
- Chopped parsley for garnish
Cut the fillet into four equal slices and flatten slightly with a meat pounder. Coat the meat in flour and shake to remove any excess. Put the fillets on a greased plate, then salt them.
Heat a large skillet and cook the fillets on both sides over very high heat, sprinkling each with some of the balsamic vinegar.
In a separate saucepan, combine the remaining vinegar, the beef broth and the flour. Heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.
When the fillets are cooked, cover them with the sauce and garnish with parsley.
ERBAZZONE (SAVORY GREENS PIE)
This pie is often served with slices of prosciutto.
- 2 lbs spinach
- 7 oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 1 oz olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 oz pancetta, chopped fine
- 1 ¾ oz butter
- 3 ½ oz lard
- 1/2 onion, about 2/3 cup
- 1 clove of garlic
- Box frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), defrosted overnight in the refrigerator
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cook the spinach in boiling salted water until tender. Drain well and chop the spinach. Squeeze well to dry.
Sauté butter, lard and onion in a skillet. Add the spinach and garlic and cook for five minutes. Cool. Then, mix with some grated Parmesan, the olive oil, pepper and salt.
Lay one sheet of pastry in a rectangular oven-dish (about the size of the pastry sheet; cut to fit, if needed). Spread the filling over the dough. Dot the top of the filling with the pancetta. Cover with the second pastry sheet. Press down lightly.
Bake at 350°F until the pastry is golden, about 30 minutes.
Serve hot or warm.
CIAMBELLA (RING CAKE)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
- Grated zest of 1/2 a medium orange
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- Powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch ring mold or a springform pan and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt to thoroughly combine them and set aside.
Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk them lightly to break up the yolks. Add the sugar to the bowl and whisk it in thoroughly in both directions for about 30 seconds. Add the olive oil and whisk until the mixture is a bit lighter in color and has thickened slightly, about 45 seconds. Whisk in the extracts and zest, followed by the orange juice.
Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk until they are thoroughly combined; continue whisking until you have a smooth, emulsified batter, about 30 more seconds.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake the cake for 30 to 45 minutes, rotating the cake pan halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning.
The cake is done when it has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, springs back lightly when touched and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool for ten minutes in the pan, then gently remove it from the pan and allow it cool completely on a rack. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Trentino-Alto Adige is situated in the very north of Italy bordering Austria and Switzerland and is best known for the beauty of its peaks. Trentino-Alto Adige is a relatively young region, having only been fully annexed by Italy in 1919, and because of its proximity to neighboring countries, a large portion of the population speak German as well as Italian. Slavic culture and cooking traditions are still very much a part of the Trentino-Alto Adige region.
The region is mainly mountainous, rich in rivers and lakes. To the west one finds the glaciers, Adamello-Presanella-Care Alto and Brenta and to the east are the Lagorai, Latemar, the Dolomites of Fassa and the Pale di S. Martino. Extensive coniferous forests cover the slopes and three natural parks, Adamello-Brenta, Paneveggio-Pale of S. Martino and Stelvio, are in the region. The city of Trento is the administrative headquarters of the province and of the region.
The most striking natural feature has to be the Dolomites and they are a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers an unforgettable experience for ski and winter sports lovers. This year the region is host to the European Cup Alpine Skiing.
The traditional food of Trentino Alto Adige is based on local agriculture and farming. The region’s most celebrated specialty is the Tyrol smoked ham known as Speck. Local salami, kaminwur, is very tasty along with regional cheeses represented by trentingrana, toma di montagna and casolet cheeses.
Polenta, served as a first course, is prepared with a meat, cheese or mushroom sauce. Other first courses include barley soup, pasta and beans, mushroom soup and the popular, brò brusà, a simple local soup.
As for main courses, the specialties of the region are: rabbit with grappa, goulash, roe deer with polenta, trout and lucanica, a pork sausage.
A famous local food is the Val di Non apple, used to prepare strudel and fruit tarts.
Trentino-Alto Adige is also known for the production of wines, that include Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot, Chardonnay and Spumante. In an unusual divergence from southern Italian tastes, beer is a favorite drink with midday and evening meals. Beer making can be traced back for centuries in the area and is another testament to the strong Germanic influence the Trentino-Alto Adige region enjoys.
Take A Tour The Trentino-Alto Adige Region
Brò Brusà and Porcini Mushrooms
Ingredients for 4
For the soup:
- 3 ½ oz (100g) ’00’ ( Italian) flour
- 4 ¼ cups (1 litre) warm meat stock
- 3/8 cup (100ml) lukewarm water
For the porcini mushrooms:
- 10 ½ oz (300g) fresh porcini mushrooms
- 7/8 cup (200ml) white wine
- Fresh chopped parsley
For the garnishes
- 1 ¾ oz (50g) Butter/Botiro di malga (high quality homemade butter)
- Bread cut into croutons
- Grated trentingrana cheese, to taste
Sieve the flour into a warm pan and keep it on low heat. Keep mixing the flour until it starts to brown. Set aside, let it cool and then add the warm stock.
Place the pan back on the stove and bring to a boil on low heat, adding the lukewarm water slowly.
In a separate skillet clean the mushrooms, chop them into small pieces and saute them in olive oil, then drizzle them with the wine. Add salt and fresh chopped parsley to taste.
Prepare the croutons by frying them in the butter.
Serve in individual soup bowls. Ladle the soup first and the croutons on top. Sprinkle with the grated trentingrana cheese and finally add the mushrooms.
Serve over polenta or boiled potatoes.
- 1 ¾ lb beef chuck, cut into small cubes
- 5 onions, sliced
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 teaspoon sweet red paprika
- 1 oz all-purpose flour
- Lemon zest
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig marjoram
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 oz tomato paste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 cups water
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the thinly sliced onion and the diced meat. Cook until browned.
Dissolve the flour and the paprika in the ½ cup of water.
Pour over the meat. Add the red wine to the saucepan and let it evaporate.
Add the herbs, the grated lemon zest, salt, pepper and tomato paste; stir.
Add the remaining water, cover the pan with a lid and cook for at least 2 hours, adding extra water, if the goulash should thicken too much.
Spinach Canederli (Spinach Dumplings)
- 6 day-old Italian bread rolls (about 2 ounces each)
- 3 ½ ounces fresh spinach
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 3 eggs
- 1 onion
- 2/3 cup flour
- Olive oil as needed
- Salt and pepper to taste
Mince the onion.
Cut the bread rolls into 1/2-inch cubes.
Heat oil in a pan over medium heat, add the onion and bread cubes and sauté until golden.
Wash spinach and boil in salted water for 2 – 3 minutes. Drain and squeeze out excess water in a towel.
Chop with a knife or food processor.
In a bowl, mix the chopped spinach with the eggs, flour, grated cheese, salt and pepper.
Add sautéed onion and bread and combine with a spoon.
Shape into egg-sized balls with floured hands and boil in salted water for about 8 minutes.
Drain and serve with grated Parmigiano and melted butter.
1 frozen puff pastry sheet, defrosted and at room temperature.
- 1 1/3 lbs (600g) apples
- 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
- 1/4 cup (50g) breadcrumbs toasted in butter
- 2 oz (60g) golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons rum
- Confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1 egg
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).
Peel and core the apples. Cut the apples into thin slices and mix them with the sugar, bread crumbs, golden raisins, rum, cinnamon and lemon peel.
Unroll the pastry and place on a floured surface. Usually ready-made puff pastry is too thick for the purpose of making strudel, so you need to enlarge the sheet and make it thinner (about 1/8th of an inch or 2 mm thick).
Roll out the dough and put it on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Spread the apple mixture evenly over the dough and roll the strudel from the long side.
Brush the strudel with egg and bake it for 45 minutes, until golden brown.Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Sprinkle the strudel with confectioner’s sugar before serving.
One of Italy’s largest regions, Lombardy lies in the north of the country, sharing a border with Switzerland. Lombardy’s northern borders are formed by the Lepontine, Rhaetian and Orobic Alps. It also includes the major Italian lakes: Varese, lseo, Como and the northern part of Lake Garda. The regional capital is Milano. Other important cities are: Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Lecco, Lodi, Varese, Sondrio, Pavia, Cremona and Mantova.
Take a tour of Lombardy through the video below.
The mountain peaks welcome ski and snowboard enthusiasts to internationally-famous ski destinations, like the Camonica Valley and Valtellina. In summertime, the area offers mountain climbing, as well as rafting, trekking and mountain biking, while the Stelvio Glacier offers skiers the challenge and adventure of its slopes, even in the warmest months. Visitors can tour the vineyard-covered terraces and hills, stopping off at wineries and local producers to taste the well-known local specialties.
While the terrain of northern Lombardy can be harsh and sometimes unforgiving, water from snow on the mountains refreshes many of the streams and rivers branching out into other parts of the region, as well as other parts of Italy. Freshwater fish like trout, perch and whitefish are abundant. The mountains tend to shelter the southern parts of the region, which allows for milder and more ideal growing conditions further down into the Po River Basin.
Rice grows well here, so it’s no surprise that risotto dishes find their way onto almost every table. The cattle industry is healthy, providing shanks for the well-known dish, ossobuco. Agri d’ Valtorta, Bagoss, Bitto, Branzi, Gorgonzola, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Provolone Valpadana are just a few of the many excellent cheeses crafted in Lombardy. Peppers, greens, lettuce, pumpkins, potatoes, onions and tomatoes are all abundant harvests. Lombardy is also the home of the Christmas favorite, panettone (a rich bread made with candied fruits, citrus and raisins). Stews, soups, heavily sauced polenta, hearty filled ravioli and slow-braised meat dishes are all-around favorites.
Recipes From Lombardy
Makes: 6 servings
- 5½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 fresh sage leaves
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 2½ cups carnaroli rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 8 cups hot chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat until melted. Add sage and cook until fragrant. Remove and discard sage. Remove sage butter from heat and set aside.
Heat oil and 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, until the rice becomes translucent. This process is known as tostatura or toasting.
Add wine, stirring, until it is mostly absorbed, then add 1 cup of broth and the saffron. Simmer, stirring frequently, until broth is almost absorbed. Continue adding broth in ½ cupfuls, stirring often, and allowing each addition to mostly evaporate before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still slightly firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy (you will have broth left over).
Stir in the remaining 3½ tablespoons butter, reserved sage butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano and salt to taste.
Add an additional cup of broth, stir to combine, and serve “all’onda” (a “wavy” or wet-style risotto) immediately.
Skillet Perch with Lemon and Capers
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 1/2 cups each: flour, fine cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 2 pounds lake perch fillets, skinned
- Olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup capers, drained
- 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
- 1 lemon sliced for garnish
Heat oven to 300 degrees F.
Sift together the flour, cornmeal, paprika, salt and pepper in medium bowl.
Combine the eggs and milk in another medium bowl. Drench fillets in egg-milk mixture; shake off excess. Coat fillets evenly with seasoned flour; shake to remove excess flour.
Meanwhile, heat large skillet over high heat. Add enough oil to cover skillet bottom. Place perch, one by one, in the pan cooking until golden, about 3 minutes. Turn fillets and cook until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove to paper towel-lined cookie sheet to drain. Keep warm in the oven. Repeat with remaining fillets.
For sauce, discard oil from the skillet. Add lemon juice and capers to the skillet; cook about 1 minute or just until bubbles appear. Add chives, salt and pepper to taste. Place fillets on a serving plate. Top with the lemon sauce and lemon slices.
Asparagi al Forno (Classic Roasted Asparagus)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the baking dish
- 2 bunches asparagus (40 asparagus), woody ends trimmed
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Line an 11-inch x 17-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease lightly with olive oil.
Arrange the asparagus on the baking sheet in a single layer, with the tips facing in the same direction (this will make serving easier later).
Pour the water into the baking sheet.
Drizzle the asparagus with the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano.
Roast the asparagus for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden on top and still slightly crisp. Serve hot. Serves 4 to 6
The Traditional Recipe for Panettone
- 2 1/4 cups flour, divided
- 2/3 cup water
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast, divided
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 12 tablespoons softened butter, divided
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons good quality vanilla
- 3/4 teaspoon orange extract
- 3/4 teaspoon lemon extract
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
Make the sponge:
Place 1 1/2 cups flour, 2/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons apricot jam and 1 teaspoon yeast in a small bowl and whisk together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rest for 3 hours.
Make the dough:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the sponge, 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon yeast. Use the hook attachment to knead the dough until the mixture is smooth and stretchy, about 3-5 minutes.
Add 3 egg yolks, one at a time and continue kneading until the dough is smooth, shiny, and stretchy.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Return the dough to the mixer and add salt, vanilla, lemon and orange flavoring, honey and 1 teaspoon yeast. Knead for 1 minute.
Add 3 egg yolks and knead until incorporated. Add the 12 tablespoons of softened butter, one tablespoon at a time. Knead until dough is soft, shiny and very stretchy, about 5 minutes. Dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Combine the chopped raisins, cherries and pecans with 2 tablespoons of flour. Add them to the dough and knead briefly, until just mixed in.
Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. Place dough inside of a 6 inch diameter panettone mold, or use a clean, buttered coffee can lined with parchment paper (you can also use a baking dish). Make a small cross in the top of the dough with scissors.
Let dough rise in a warm place until triple in size, which may take several hours since the dough is cold from the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.
Place the panettone in the oven and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
Bake the panettone for about 1 hour, until it has risen high and springs back a little when pressed on top (like a muffin).
Let the panettone cool in the pan on a rack.
Make the icing (optional): Melt 2 tablespoons butter and whisk into 1 cup powdered sugar. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, a pinch of salt and 1-2 tablespoons of milk until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle icing decoratively over the top of the panettone.
Store panettone wrapped in plastic for up to 1 week.
Note: Traditional Italian panettones are made with a special flavoring called “fiori de sicila”, which you can purchase at gourmet stores and online. Use in place of the lemon and orange extract.