Saturday, August 22, 2015

Olive Ascolane (Stuffed Olives from Ascoli Piceno)

Olive ascolane are stuffed Olives originally created in Ascoli Piceno as a way to use leftovers of meats. Nowadays this appetizer is very popular in all Central Italy. In Abruzzo, most Trattorias and Pizzerias carry them on the menu. I have been craving for those since I came back from Italy a month ago.

The recipe calls for a local green olive variety, called the Tenera Ascolana, with a very soft meat. But green olives would work.

Olive ascolane
  • 20 olive ascolane (or very large green olives)
  • 1 pound pork, grounded
  • 1 pound lamb, grounded
  • 1 pound meat, grounded
  • 1 onion, peeled, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • fresh herbs (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup flour 
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
Cut the olives open on one side and remove the stones.
Sauté the onion with two tablespoons of olive oil until soft. Add the meat and cook everything together on medium heat until the meat has browned and most of the liquid has evaporated. Season it with salt and pepper. Add the tomato paste and cook everything together for 5 minutes more on low heat.

Place the meat mixture in a blender and blitz to a smooth paste. Form small balls of the mixture and carefully press inside the olives, then squeeze the olives back together so the cut edges meet.

Place the olives in a bowl with flour and toss well to make sure they are fully coated. Next, dip the olives in beaten egg, then coat in breadcrumbs and fry in oil at 350F until golden.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Pesche Sciroppate (Peaches in Syrup)

This is one of my favorite ways to preserve peaches. You can serve them as a dessert by itself or with ice cream. It is also great as garnish for cakes or other desserts
  • 3 pound peaches ripe but firm
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • Zest and juice from 2 lemons
  • 1 vanilla bean
Sanitize jars by washing them in the dishwasher or by boiling them in water for 10 minutes.

To prepare the peaches, wash them and make two small incision on the bottom of each one. Dip peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minutes (less time is the fruit is more ripe). Drop them in ice water to loosen their skins. After removing the skin from the peaches, cut them in half and remove pits.

Combine sugar, water, lemon zests, lemon juice and scraped vanilla bean in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Keep syrup hot. Pack the peaches into sanitized jars (leaving 1/2 to 1 inch space at the top).  Wipe jar rims and threads. Place lids on jars.

Put the sealed jars in a wide pot and cover with at least 1 inch of boiling water. Boil them for at least 20 minutes (and no more than 30 min).

 Remove jars from hot water and place, not touching, on dish towel. Cool several hours or overnight. Test seals and make sure there is not air in the jars before storing them. If there is still air you can refrigerate them for a couple of weeks.