Silvias-cucina

Silvia’s Cucina’s Fresh Pasta Squares with Ricotta + Vegetables

Italian food lover, blogger and actress Silvia Colloca shares her easy fresh pasta recipe – sagne a pezze – topped with a simple ricotta and vegetable sauce from her new cookbook Silvia’s Cucina.

This is a very popular dish in the mountainous villages of Abruzzo. My second cousins run a restaurant in Torricella, and they serve freshly made pasta squares in a simple but splendid tomato sauce, crowned with a generous dollop of cow’s-milk ricotta (full-cream and unpasteurised). This is my personal take on the classic dish, devised to celebrate the crisp sweetness of spring vegetables.

When Nonna Irene taught me to make sagne, she wasn’t her usual vague self about size and measures. She insisted  the squares must be an even 2.5 cm × 2.5 cm. Given that this is the only time she has ever advocated precision in the kitchen, I make it a point to follow her instructions to the letter.

silviascucinarecipe

Extract from the book ‘Silvia’s Cucina’ by Silvia Colloca, & photography by Chris Chen, published by Lantern, RRP $39.99 

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 quantity of egg pasta dough , rolled into 2.5 mm thick sheets
coarse semolina, for dusting

Ricotta and vegetable sauce

3–4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 clove garlic, skin on, bashed with the back of a knife
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
2 zucchini (courgettes), thinly sliced
150 g broad beans with pods removed salt flakes
150 g full-cream ricotta finely grated zest of 1 lemon small mint leaves, to garnish freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Dust the pasta with semolina, then cut into 2.5 cm squares. Place them in one layer on a tea towel or wooden board generously dusted  with semolina.

2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.

3. For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat, add the garlic and spring onion and cook for 1–2 minutes  or until fragrant. Add the zucchini and and cook, tossing often, for 5–6 minutes or until golden. Turn off the heat.

4. When the water comes to a rolling boil, drop in the broad beans and cook for 1–2 minutes. Lift them out with a slotted  spoon and rinse them under cold water to arrest  the cooking. Peel off the skins and add them to the zucchini and season with salt.

5. Return the water to the boil, then gently drop in the pasta squares and cook for 1–2 minutes  or until nicely al dente.

6. Turn the heat back on under the zucchini and broad bean mixture and remove the garlic clove. Using a slotted spoon, take out the cooked pasta squares and add them to the pan, along with a little pasta cooking water. Toss the pasta through the vegetables for 1–2 minutes or until well coated with the sauce. Add a little more pasta cooking water if the sauce looks a bit dry.

7. Divide the pasta and vegetables among shallow bowls and top with a good dollop of ricotta and a drizzle of olive oil. Scatter over the lemon zest and mint leaves and finish with a grinding of pepper. Serve and enjoy!

Note
Sagne a pezze are also quite wonderful dressed with roasted tomato sugo or Abruzzese-styl meat sauce.

silviascucina

October 24, 2013

Silvia’s Cucina’s Chocolate and Hazelnut Truffle Cake Recipe

Italian food lover, blogger and actress Silvia Colloca shares her flourless chocolate hazelnut truffle cake recipe from her new cookbook Silvia’s Cucina.

I feel beholden to this simple flourless cake. The moment I posted the recipe on the blog, back in June 2011, I knew something in my short-lived blogger life had changed. Comments started trickling in, and that trickle soon became a torrent! It seems that this traditional cake from Piemonte speaks a language that everybody is fluent in: chocolate. But to call this a chocolate cake doesn’t really do it justice.

There is so much more to it than that.

What makes this indulgent cake so alluring  is the addition  of Frangelico and coffee-spiked cocoa paste. This blissful blend somehow ‘chocifies’ the chocolate: it is chocolate to the power of 10. So if you love a gentle, sweet, milk-chocolate cake, torta gianduja is not for you. But if you are a true believer, a proud chocolate addict, read on . . . 

chocolatecake

Extract from the book ‘Silvia’s Cucina’ by Silvia Colloca, & photography by Chris Chen, published by Lantern, RRP $39.99 

Serves: 8

Ingredients

150 g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
160 g dark 70% chocolate, broken into pieces, or dark chocolate chips
pinch of salt flakes
2½ tablespoons hot espresso coffee
2 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Frangelico or rum
4 eggs
250 g brown sugar
1 cup (100 g) hazelnut meal
1 handful of roasted, roughly chopped hazelnuts
whipped cream and fresh berries, to serve

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Grease and line a 24 cm round cake tin with baking paper. (You could also use a smaller tin, in which case the cake will be higher.)

2. Melt the butter, chocolate and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). When melted, remove from the heat.

3. Whisk together the hot coffee and cocoa powder in a bowl until there  are no lumps. Stir in the vanilla and Frangelico or rum, then add to the melted chocolate and mix to combine.

4. Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the brown sugar and beat with a whisk or hand-held electric beaters until creamy. Pour into the chocolate mixture,  then stir in the hazelnut meal and chopped hazelnuts.

5. Pour the batter into the tin. Bake for 45–55 minutes or until the edges are firm and the surface is cracked but feels soft in the middle. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 1 hour, then gently turn  out the cake and sit it on a cake stand.

6. Dust with cocoa powder and serve with whipped cream and your favourite  berries.

Note
This cake tastes even better the next day. If making a day ahead , store it in its tin at room temperature, and garnish with cocoa powder, berries and cream just before serving.

silviascucina

October 22, 2013