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Homemade Buckwheat pasta – Pizzoccheri September 22, 2008

Posted by live2cook in Cherishing Dinners, Egg free.
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12 comments

I was making pizzoccheri for our dinner.   Rolling and cutting the dough, dropping the shaped pasta in boiling water….things were moving in a rythm.   The finished pasta dish turned out wonderful.  While we enjoyed our dinner, DH reminded me of an incident.  It was about my stay in the hospital when our son was born.  Since my Mom’s visa got delayed, she was not able to make it to US till a week later.  So, we decided to go with the meal options that the hospital offered for the patients.

Most of the items were alien to us.  We requested a nurse practitioner to help us.  She recommended a recipe and said that she would place the order as she was going to the cafeteria.  It was jumbo shells in tomato sauce.  But we mistook it for clams and refused the order.  The person who served the order and the nurse tried to convince us that it was just shells and it was a perfect vegetarian dish.  But, we believed that the nurse thought that sea foods are vegetarian. 🙂

Yes!  The only Italian food that we knew at that time was “Veggie Pizza”.  My efforts to figure out the foods that will suit our diet opened so many doors.  Next to Indian cuisine, a cuisine that rendered itself to vegetarian diet is Italian.  With the help of library books and internet, I collected a lot of Italian recipes.  Among those, the recipe for pizzoccheri pasta, inspired me a lot for two reasons.  It is egg free and the process of making the pasta is so simple.

When Meeta asked us to prepare authentic Italian recipes, I decided to prepare this pasta.  I thank meeta for hosting this wonderful event which inspired me to learn the history of this wonderful recipe.  If not for this event, I would not have researched for more information other than the recipe.

Pizzoccheri is a recipe from Valtellina, a valley in Lombardy region of Northern Italy.  The main ingredient of this recipe is Buckwheat.  The etruscans and saracens introduced the buckwheat grain to Italy in 14th century.  During that period buckwheat was a staple in that region and recipes like buckwheat polenta emerged.  But with the introduction of Maize made these buckwheat recipes less popular.

The Academy of pizzochero Teglio registers and maintains the traditional recipe of pizzoccheri.  As per the academy, there was a mention about pizzoccheri in a 15th century book written by Ortensio Landi.  He mentions that a cook named Melluzza Como was the inventor of Lasangna, Pinzocheri, etc.  Since there was no other information documented, we are unable to learn more about the origin of this pasta.  Though the meaning of the name is debatable, the most acceptable origin is the word “Pinzoccher“, which denotes the religious women who sacrificed their life for God.  Whether the recipe was prepared by them or the dough resembled the beige colored dress that these women wore, the pizzoccheri stands to represent the simplicity of their lives.

The English version of the recipe can be found here.

Modifications made by me:

  • I used only 3 Table spoons of Butter ( For 2 Persons)
  • I added a red bell pepper to the recipe
  • I Stir fried the Red bell pepper, cabbage and potato until soft in olive oil with a touch of Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes
  • I layered the vegetable, cheese and pasta.  Baked it for 15 minutes in a 375F preheated oven and served it as a casserole.

Method :

Buckwheat flour and all purpose flour kneaded into a stiff dough

Buckwheat flour and all purpose flour kneaded into a stiff dough

Rolled into half inch thick and cut lengthwise for 6 inches wide

Rolled into half inch thick and cut lengthwise for 6 inches wide

The lengthy strips of dough layered and chopped

The lengthy strips of dough layered and chopped

Chopped dough dropped into salted boiling water

Chopped dough dropped into salted boiling water

Cooked dough floats to the surface

Cooked dough floats to the surface

pizzoccheri layered with stir fried vegetables and cheese

pizzoccheri layered with stir fried vegetables and cheese

Seasoned with garlic butter and baked in oven.  Pizzoccheri is ready to dig in!

Seasoned with garlic butter and baked in oven. Pizzoccheri is ready to dig in!

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Canederli – A Bread Dumpling August 7, 2008

Posted by live2cook in Breakfast, Cherishing Dinners.
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13 comments

It was my early days of venturing with sourdough. When we start a sourdough with an established starter or with a little help from commercial yeast, we can really rely on the raising power of the sourdough. But, when we start from scratch with only flour and water, the biggest challenge before us is to figure out if the sourdough has reached the stage to raise bread dough for a loaf, successfully.

I searched a lot for a promising answer. But there was none as no one can predict the nature of the sourdough. It all depends on the weather and other circumstances. So, to understand the power of my sourdough, I had to jump in to action and bake a loaf of bread. To be frank, my friends, it took at least 3 trials to get a decent loaf and at least 2 months of baking and feeding the sourdough to get it to the point that it can be relied on raising a dough within 3 hours.

But, my early baking trials did show me a new path. As a frugal by nature, I can’t think of wasting the brick textured or awfully sour bread loaves. This made me to look for recipes that use bread, but not sandwiches. These were the recipes that I collected even before knowing what a stale bread is and were the ones that helped me not to give up my Sourdough Adventures. Today, I am writing about one of those and stay tuned for more to come.

Canederli is a recipe from Italy that uses Stale bread. I got the idea and recipe from this website. I changed few ingredients and the method of cooking. A stale bread is not a moldy bread. It is a bread that turned dry and/or chewy.

Ingredients:

2 cups bread cut into cubes
1 cup chopped spinach
3/4 cup hot milk (if using store bought white bread, use 1/2 cup first and add the rest if needed)
3 Tbsp oil
3 Tbsp gram flour or Besan (use 3 eggs instead)
3 Tbsp wheat flour or Atta
1 tsp salt
1 onion chopped
1 clove of garlic chopped
1/2 tsp italian herbs (optional)
1 pinch nutmeg

Method:

1. Soak the bread cubes in hot milk for 1/2 hour.
2. When the bread turns soft, mash with a fork.
3. Add other ingredients and mix well without lumps.
4. Shape into lime sized balls.
5. The recipe asked to cook the bread balls in boiling water. But in my previous attempts, the bread balls didn’t hold the shape. So, thereafter I used to steam them in pressure cooker (without adding the weight). Place the bread balls in idly mold and steam for 10 minutes.

steamed Canederli

steamed Canederli


6. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve with your favorite sauce. I served it for brunch with spicy avocado sauce. But it makes a simple dinner too.

Canederli in avocado sauce

Canederli in avocado sauce

This is my entry to the “A.W.E.D – Italian” event hosted by DK.