Thursday, January 22, 2015

Parrozzo (Semolina cake from Pescara - Abruzzo)

Parrozzo is a symbol of the city of Pescara, the town in Abruzzo where my mom is from. It has been a source of inspiration for anybody who tried it, including a local poet, Gabrielle D’Anunzio, who dedicated many verses to this cake. One of the verses is even published on the packaging of this cake. It goes like this (in Pescarese dialect):
"Dice Dante che là da Tagliacozzo, ove senz'arme visse il vecchio Alardo, Curradino avrie vinto quel leccardo se abbuto evesse usbergo di Parrozzo".

"Says Dante (Alighieri) that there in Tagliacozzo (town), Conradin (of the Swabian) would defeat the old man and greedy of Alardo (de Valery), withouth weapons, if he had parrozzo".

This cake is very special for me. It is not only delicious but also brings me memories from the Summer I spent in my childhood in my nonna's house in Pescara.

1 1/2 cups almonds, toasted and grounded
1 cup semolina
6 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 lemon zest
¼ cup amaretto liquor
1 teaspoon almond extract
8 oz semisweet chocolate
5 tablespoon olive oil

The recipe makes 1 big cake (9-inch dome) or 12 mini cakes (3-inch dome).

Preheat the oven at 325 F. Mix together the almonds and semolina.

Put the egg whites in a bowl with a pinch of salt and beat them until soft peaks form.

In another bowl, whisk the yolks and the sugar until the sugar is melted and the mixture is pale. Add the lemon peel, amaretto liquor and extracts on the yolks and mix together. Fold in the dry ingredients. At the end fold in the egg whites until everything is combined.

Oil a silicon dome shape mould or a round mixing bowl lined with aluminum foil. Pour in the mixture.

Bake for about 25 minutes for small cakes or 1 hour for a big one (until the cake feels firm when pressed in the center and is golden brown) .

When cooked, remove from the mould and place on a rack. Cut the chocolate in small pieces with a serrated knife. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Decorate the parozzo when cold with melted chocolate and let it harden.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Latte di Mandorle: Almond Milk

Although in America almond milk is a new product, usually sold as a substitute for dairy milk, it has been consumed in the southern regions of Italy for thousands of years. In Italy, almond milk is a Sicilian specialty, typically served cold as a refreshing drink, during the hot summer months. This recipe is very easy to make and it taste way better than the store bought one. 

Latte di Mandorle (Almond Milk)

- 1 cup almonds
- 3 cups filtered water
- 2 tablespoons honey or sugar (optional)

Pour enough water over the almonds to cover, let it sit for 12 hours, then squeeze each almond individually so that it slips out of its brown skin.
Rinse almonds well and place them in a baking pan.

Toast them for 10 minutes in a 350F preheated oven.

Process the almonds and 3 cups of filtered water in a blender until the mixture is white and creamy.

Strain mixture into a large bowl through a cheese cloth or kitchen towel.

Twist the cloth tightly and squeeze the almond paste to obtain as much liquid as possible.
Sweeten the milk with either honey or sugar.
Pour into glass jar or pitcher and store in fridge for up to one week.

Note: you can use the almond pulp as a substitute for almond flour