Antonia Landi

Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

Real spaghetti carbonara – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on November 6, 2011 at 1:21 am

Picture: bbcgoodfood.com

If you think you’ve had this dish before, think again. Carbonara just happens to be one of the most misunderstood Italian dishes in the world. So much so, that most sauces and recipes widely available have little in common with the original. Real carbonara is deliciously creamy and oh so moreish – and it can be done in just ten minutes.

You will notice from my recipe that there is no cream involved in this dish – that’s right, not even a single drop of cream. ‘But, how else would I be able to make a creamy sauce?’ I hear you say. And here’s where I let you in on the secret of first class carbonara – use eggs. Do you remember how we made custard last week? Heat the milk, stir in the eggs and let it thicken. Well this is a similar concept. Again, the last thing you’ll want to do is to make the eggs coagulate. In other words, solid bits are not allowed. As long as you stick to my instructions, you’ll get perfect carbonara, every time. And what a delight it is to eat!

Whenever I explain to people how to make authentic carbonara, most of them look at me with a disgusted look in their face. Barely cooked eggs? Are you mental? But trust me, once you’ve tried it you’ll never go back to those horribly gelatinous white sauces that you can buy in a supermarket. The combination of the egg and the cheese, which will just slowly melt into the sauce, delivers such a great result that will leave you with a plateful of pasta finely coated in the simplest, and quite frankly, greatest sauce for a satisfying midweek meal. And if on your way to carbonara heaven you encounter any sceptics just ask them this: Do you eat custard? Good! IT’S THE SAME THING.

Feeds 2:

180g Spaghetti (I use DeCecco)

1 pack cubed pancetta (equivalent to approx 100g)

Generous handful of grated pecorino Romano

Knob of butter (optional)

2 fresh eggs

2 garlic cloves

Plenty black pepper (salt is optional, as the pancetta and pecorino are quite salty themselves)

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

I don’t know about you but I love to find out where a dish comes from! I won’t spoil anything, so here’s a great link about carbonara and its origins.

For this recipe you’ll want to get the freshest eggs possible. If you’re not sure just how fresh your eggs are, take a look at this site, which should help you out.

And finally, here’s an article about one of my favourite rant subjects! Do you think you know Italian food? Check out this link to find out!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

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Tiramisù – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on September 20, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Picture: bbcgoodfood.com

 

You can’t deny the fact that you’re back at uni now, Christmas holidays are still a world away, the weather’s getting worse and all you really want is a little pick me up to get you through the week… And what better way to cheer yourself up than a little tiramisù!

Tiramisù is the staple of any Italian restaurant’s dessert menu, even though its origins are not quite clear. With its lovely medley of mild mascarpone, strong coffee and a hint of chocolate, it is easy to see why it’s literally called ‘pick me up’! Some people prefer it with alcohol, some people add subtle flavours along the way – this version is the plainest and simplest possible. This way, you can enjoy it as it is, or really make it your own by playing around with various flavours. If you would like your tiramisù to be a bit boozy, try adding a bit of rum or amaretto – Marsala wine (which is similar to port) is the standard, but any of these will go. Don’t add too much alcohol to your recipe – I would suggest a swig or a tablespoon to be precise. Tiramisù is a rather delicate dessert, despite its strong coffee, so make sure you don’t use anything too overpowering.

Apart from the savoiardi (which are just ladyfingers or ‘sponge fingers’) the coffee is the star of this dessert. The higher quality your coffee is, the better your dessert will taste. Now, I know that we are all students here but please refrain from using filtered or even instant coffee. It will taste horrible, and we both know it. You don’t need to have a pump espresso maker to make good coffee at home. You can get a small coffee machine for the hob, such as the moka express by Bialetti, or if this is just a one off, go down your local coffee shop for some espresso shots.

If you’re not keen on the idea of having coffee, you can try and substitute the coffee for some chocolate milk. I would suggest avoiding overly sweet brands as this could affect the overall sweetness of the dessert. This is also a good alternative for a children’s version of tiramisù. Finally, if you want to add subtle flavours such as vanilla or a hint of orange, do so in the mascarpone. Simply add the seeds of a vanilla pod or some grated orange peel into the mascarpone and you will be surprised to see how far just a little tweaking can take you.

 

Feeds 6-8 (enough for a 25x25cm dish or equivalent)

500g mascarpone

5 egg yolks

50g sugar

1 pack savoiardi (200g)

approx 500ml espresso or very strong coffee

cocoa to dust

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Pizza – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on September 14, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Picture: Useful Times

What is round, Italian and delicious? Well, Pizza of course! With this simple recipe you won’t have to dread making your own dough anymore – there are just a few simple steps to pizza perfection!

Growing up in an Italian household, it is needless to say that our pizza was never shop bought. But unfortunately not everyone’s as lucky as I am! While I do enjoy the occasional supermarket pizza myself, it is so much more rewarding to make your own pizza entirely from scratch. By working the dough and kneading it with your hands you can really get a feel for creating your own food. It is a fantastic experience and will lead to many others. Pizza is just about the simplest kind of dough you can make – and once you’ve mastered the basics, a whole new world opens up for you. From pastry to cakes to fantastic real homemade bread, food always tastes infinitely better if you’ve made it yourself.

Pizza of course is the unrivalled queen of student food – if you think that following this recipe won’t be nearly as quick and easy as simply chucking a soggy supermarket pizza in the oven, let me convince you otherwise. The key to any good cooking experience is preparation. From simply preparing all your ingredients in the right amounts beforehand, to making the dough in big batches and freezing it for later, as long as you’re prepared, this will be as easy as you want it to be.

The really great thing about pizza is that it’s so versatile. There is literally nothing you can’t put on it – if you’re a fan of American style pizzas, opt for a deep oven dish and smother in barbecue sauce before adding some meat and cheese of your choice – if you like it veggie and light, load your pizza with delicious vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms and onion – if you have a taste for the exquisite, opt for goat’s cheese instead of regular cheese, or garnish your pizza with thin slices of prosciutto di Parma, then add a handful of rocket and shavings of parmiggiano reggiano before serving. You see? There is really something for any taste.

A note about rising: To let your dough rise, you should keep it in a reasonably warm and sheltered place, away from any drafts. There are big debates about how long pizza dough should rise – some pizzaioli leave the dough to rise for up to 48 hours! I would generally suggest a minimum of 2 hours. Use this to your advantage! Prepare your dough a few hours before your guests arrive, and don’t worry if you forget about it – the longer, the better. Rising times can change with room temperature and location, but if your dough has doubled in size, you should be good to go.

Makes two 14’’ thin crust pizzas:

500g tipo 00 flour, plus extra for dusting

7g dried yeast (equivalent to one sachet)

Approx 320ml lukewarm water

Salt

For the tomato base use one can of chopped tomatoes and 1-2 tbsp of tomato concentrate. Season with salt, pepper and herbs of your choice. Alternatively use barbecue sauce or leave plain, in which case you may drizzle some olive oil on your base before sprinkling some sea salt over it.

Bake on a high heat (careful not to burn anything) for approx 15-20 minutes

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Film review – Gianni e le donne

In Entertainment, Film on September 3, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Picture: comingsoon.it

Do you know those days that are just a bit ‘meh’? Nothing really happens but you’re still not bored enough to do something about it. Uneventful, I guess, is the right word to describe it. Well, that’s what ‘Gianni e le donne’ is like. Armed with a potentially entertaining story to tell, this film is a bit of a let down. The cast is good, the setting is pleasant, the soundtrack is very good – so what is the problem?

Gianni Di Gregorio, director, writer and main character of the film, sets the viewer up for an interesting story. We meet Gianni, a fifty-something stay at home husband who is less than happy with the way things are going. He lives in a virtually love-less marriage, prepares breakfast for everyone while his wife and daughter are too busy to spend any time with him, and all he is left with is a long list of errands to run. Any favour a woman asks him to do he will do, and it is soon clear that Gianni, as lovely as he is, is sick of it. Cue the main theme of the film: Gianni decides to get back into the game. But what does that actually mean? Clearly, he does not get what he wants from his marriage, but are we really watching a movie about an oldish man desperately trying to have an affair with younger women? It is needless to say that the film does not lack cringeworthy moments.

For a comedy ‘Gianni e le donne’ is almost tragic at times. The humour is scarce, and very rarely laugh out loud funny. But it is so well done that you can almost forget about the lack of character development. Instead of obvious puns and bad jokes, this film relies entirely on situation comedy. Sometimes it’s cringy, sometimes it’s just unfortunate, but it is entirely funny and always works.

The biggest surprise is in the soundtrack. It is very well written and has the potential to lead a whole scene. Ratchev & Carratello have truly hit the nail on the head here – the music is entertaining, well written, and just leaves you wanting more.

It is a shame that a film that has the potential to be very good ended up to be, well, not so good. The main problem with ‘Gianni e le donne’ is that character development is unheard of. All the characters – whether it is Gianni’s mum that relies on her son whenever her housemaid is not around, or his daughter, who gets back together with her old boyfriend just to realise that she isn’t happy – stay absolutely the same throughout the entire film. Not even Gianni, who is clearly like a block of clay just begging to be shaped and moulded, shows the slightest sign of change or realisation. This is absolutely fine for the first half hour, as the viewer eagerly awaits the main plot point where everything will change, and things will go wrong but they will also be funny and eventually lead to a happy end, but as the film goes on it dawns on you that this film simply does not go anywhere. The ending is simply baffling and feels a bit like a cop-out. And so we leave Gianni as desperate as he was before and neither he, nor the viewer, is any wiser.

All in all this film has all the right ingredients to make things work, but the storyline is bland and gets repetitive after a while. Fifty-something stay at home dad, looking for action.

Antonia Landi for Trisickle.

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