La Raccolta— Blog

La Raccolta — Blog of CASAGIOVE

The CASAGIOVE blog– a collection of stories, updates, recipes, special events and more! 

The freshest…

Gnocchi on my mind…

a recap of our Italian weekend at Taste of Italy LA and Little Italy Festa San Diego, plus tips on the perfect Gnocchi! 

The best of Italy in LA with my Patriziella!! #tasteofitalyla

A photo posted by @alshay7 on

We had so much fun at the Italian events this weekend!

Our Italian fun started Saturday night, when we met in Downtown LA for Taste of Italy.  The venue was just as promised— the outdoor area in front of Pico House was transformed into a charming Italian-style piazza where guests could mingle and browse the various food and drink booths.

Our general admission tickets included six drink and six food tickets to be used at the booths of our choice, and that turned out to be more than enough to sample everything we wanted to try, and get quite full, too.

Some of the highlights included an amazing Garganelli with Sausage and Wild Fennel Pollen from the famous Drago Centro… (served directly from a Parmesan cheese wheel!)

#tasteofitalyla

A photo posted by Eat.Nosh.Nom. (@eatnoshnom) on

…and lovely, pillowy gnocchi in a simple tomato sauce from Valentino in Santa Monica.

https://instagram.com/p/8tn89TEmOq/?tagged=tasteofitaly

That got me thinking about gnocchi, a “simple” pasta made from three ingredients: potato, egg and flour. Because there are so few ingredients, there’s nothing to hide behind when making gnocchi, you have to know what you’re doing so that they remain light and fluffy, and not heavy or gummy.

I’ve never been able to master homemade gnocchi myself, which is why it was perfect that on Sunday, we attended the Little Italy Festa in San Diego and happened upon a live cooking demonstration from Cookbook Tavola Calda, in which chef Gregorio Serafini Pozzi discussed his tips and tricks for…you guessed it… gnocchi!

Instead of using a recipe with fixed amounts of potato, egg and flour, he suggests weighing your potatoes, and using the following ratio:

In other words, for every two pounds of potatoes, you’ll need one egg and a half cup of flour.  

He also shared that too much moisture in the potatoes causes you to need more flour, and the excess flour is what makes gnocchi heavy and tough.  To help combat excess moisture, he stressed the importance of leaving the skin on the potatoes when boiling.

Some more of Chef Gregorio’s tips:

You’ll know your potatoes are done boiling when they are fork tender (meaning no resistance when you poke them with a fork).

Allow your potatoes to cool fully before trying to peel.

Remove as much excess moisture from your mashed potatoes as possible (and definitely don’t add water to the mixture).

Make your life easier and use a large, wide bowl to combine your mashed potatoes, eggs, and flour.

Make a “well” (he called it una fontana) in the center of your mashed potatoes, and put the eggs in the center.  Then add the flour in batches around the center.

Combine the ingredients, but be careful not to overwork the dough.

Form the dough into serpenti or snakes, approximately 10 inches long and cut into pieces from there.

After our demo, we browsed the various booths and ate lunch at Sorrento Ristorante.  We really felt as if we were back in Italy as we took our time feasting on several delicious antipasti in the outdoor patio area. On this visit, we ordered  Involtini di Melanzana, Carpaccio di Carne, Burrata con Spinaci, and Calamari Fritti, and you could feel the “order envy” from the table next to ours. It was a lot of food, but it was the perfect mix of heavier and lighter dishes, and we hit on all the best tastes in one meal!

Time lapse of #festasd #littleitalysd #kelt #sandiego #sd

A video posted by Franklin Weichelt (@fweichelt) on

After lunch, we needed to walk, and were fortunate enough to stumble upon a performance by our new favorite band Mbrascatu.  They are a cool mix of traditional folk elements from Italy and elsewhere infused with the modern coolness of Portland (the band’s hometown). We bought both of their CDs, and have been listening to our favorite tracks on repeat since.

Clearly, we weren’t the only ones who were feeling their sound:

Overall, it was such a sweet experience and we can’t wait to go back to both events next year. If you missed either this time around, start getting ready for October 2016!  Andiamo!!


GLOSSARY

(in order of appearance)

gnocchi (gli) — (singular: gnocco) Italian dough dumplings that can be made with any variation of potato, flour, and egg or similar ingredients depending on the regional variation
fontana (la) — fountain, in this case used where in English we would say “well” referring to the hole that’s made in the center of a bowl to help hold and combine various ingredients
serpente (il) — snake, refers to the shape that you roll your gnocchi or other pasta dough before cutting it into little “pillows”
antipasti (gli) (singular: l’antipasto) — appetizer, literally “before the meal”
involtini (gli) (singular: l’involtino) —roulades/rolls, formed when slices of meat or vegetables are wrapped around stuffings
melanzane (le) (singular: la melanzana) — eggplant
carpaccio di carne (il) — meat (often beef but could be veal, venison, or similar) pounded thin and served raw
burrata (la) — fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream
spinaci (gli) — spinach
calamari (i) (singular: il calamaro) — squid
fritti  (singular: fritto) — fried
andiamo! (from the verb andare – to go) — let’s go!

Salsicce e Patate

I like simple food.  In fact, many of my favorites are things my mom would make when she didn’t have a lot of ingredients and needed to whip something up really quick.  I can still remember the first time she made this classic and I love putting my own spin on it for my family.

After a long day, this hearty meal hits the spot. It’s full of flavor and textures. My boys love sopping up all the juicy bits in the pan with some crusty baguette slices. The light lemony salad and creamy bocconcini tossed in olive oil complement the sausage and potatoes perfectly. Bertie and I love it with a glass of chilled lambrusco, too.

Getting ready to go into the oven…

Out of the oven and ready to enjoy!

Salsicce e Patate with some simple sides makes for a delicious dinner.

 

Salsicce e Patate (Sausage & Potatoes)

I like simple food. In fact most of my favorites are things my mom would make when she didn’t have a lot of ingredients and needed to whip something up really quick. I can still remember the first time she made this classic and I love putting my own spin on it for my family.
Course Main Course
Servings 4 people
Author Patricia from CASAGIOVE

Ingredients

  • 6-8 Italian sausages
  • 1-2 potatoes halved lengthwise and sliced, about a ¼ thickness; drizzled in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 red onion sliced into eighths
  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • lemon zest
  • olive oil extra virgin
  • kosher salt to taste
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.


  2. Add olive oil to a large cast iron pan on medium high heat.

  3. Season with a pinch or two of kosher salt and a lil’ crushed red pepper. 


  4. Brown sausages.


  5. Add sliced potatoes, red onion and thyme.


  6. Let this sizzle on the stovetop for a few minutes, tossing the ingredients a bit so the potatoes and onions get mixed in


  7. Transfer the pan to the oven and finish cooking for approximately 20 minutes.

  8. Sprinkle with some lemon zest and serve with a simple butter lettuce salad that has been dressed with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper to taste, some crusty bread and sliced burrata cheese or bocconcini, drizzled with olive oil… Enjoy the simple and tasty flavors!

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California, www.casagiovecalifornia.com

Buon appetito!

—Patriziella

 

Stuffed Zucchine from CASAGIOVE California, www.casagiovecalifornia.com

Stuffed Zucchine

Some of the tastiest meals are those that are loosely improvised from an initial recipe “inspiration” and this version of Stuffed Zucchine is just that! As we improvised a lot based on what we had… we invite you to do the same!

Did you know…. here in the states we say “Zucchini” but the original Italian is actually a feminine noun.. LE ZUCCHINE [lay zoo-kee-nay] You can still call them Zucchini if you’d like, but know you might get a  little giggle if you say it to an Italian. 🙂

 

 

Stuffed Zucchini 08

Stuffed Zucchine

Some of the tastiest meals are those that are loosely improvised from an initial recipe "inspiration" and this version of Stuffed Zucchine is just that!
Course Main Course
Servings 4 people
Author Patricia from CASAGIOVE

Ingredients

  • 4 zucchine
  • ½ pound cooked pork belly (or pancetta) cubed
  • 1 can or jar San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon capers chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic diced
  • 2 shallots diced
  • ¼ cup flat-leaf Italian parsley chopped
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano grated
  • olive oil extra virgin
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • kosher salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut the zucchine in half lengthwise to form little "boats." Using a small paring knife, remove some of the interior of each boat to allow room for the filling. Save what you remove, and cube it, to be added to the stuffing mixture later.
  2. In a large sauté pan, add a generous pour of olive oil and gently heat the salt and crushed red pepper, garlic and shallots.
  3. Add the cubed zucchine and cook until soft and then add the pork belly, capers, tomatoes and parsley and continue to season as you go. Sauté for 15-20 minutes until everything has come together.

  4. Place the zucchine boats in a baking dish and fill each one with the stuffing. Top each with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and bake at 400 degrees until the tops are golden brown, approximately 30 minutes.

Recipe Notes

© 2017 CASAGIOVE California, www.casagiovecalifornia.com

Grazie for sharing!