Saturday, August 23, 2008

An insalata mista, if you will.

A short entry for once:

A. I spent yesterday morning chopping wild boar. OH man.

B. With Nicola's reappearance, the sweets duties are shared and I can do more than just the dessert routine. I learned how to make wild boar ragù, I pinched and folded hundreds of ravioli, I prepared some béchamel for the lasagna and made two kinds of focaccia yesterday. It's great to be out of the butter, sugar, flour, egg routine for a bit.

C. I emailed Bill Buford to let him know how much I appreciated his book--I mean it is half the reason I'm here--and against all odds he wrote back:
Dear Rebecca Cooper,
Thank you for your email hope that there won't be any lasting damage and that you'll get out of the kitchen as soon as possible.
Best wishes, and good luck. Yours,
Bill Buford. [Suhweet!]

D. The chef keeps all his recipes in an agenda book. One copy with the recipes scribbled--we mistook "farina" (flour) for "panna" (cream) once--is batter splattered, well-loved and well-used. The other is pristine, written with an architect's penmanship and tucked away in his locker. He lent it to me to copy down anything I want. "I normally never let it out of my sight. Becky, you're the first and the last," he said.

If you have any way of measuring ingredients with the metric system, here's how to make Fagottini di Pasta Brick alla Ricotta con Scaglie di Cioccolato Fondente e Miele Di Castagno--aka Pastry Shell Filled with Ricotta and Dark Chocolate, Drizzled with Chestnut Honey (tastes better than it sounds, I promise):

800g ricotta
140g powdered sugar
20g flour
40g chocolate chips (It's best if you get some melting chocolate and chop it coarsely.)
2 eggs
10 disks of fine pastry dough. (Buy it at Whole Foods or something?)
Chestnut honey (If you can find it.)

1. Prepare the filling.

2. Fold aluminum foil into strips to tie off pastry.

3. Lay out the pastry rounds (in French it's called feuilles de brick. The translation on the back says "fine pastry dough". Good luck)

4. Prepare a honey-water mixture. Just runny enough to spread over the pastry rounds.

5. (Do all the following as quickly as possible so the dough doesn't dry out.) Brush the pastry rounds with the honey.

6. Scoop a fist-sized dollop of the ricotta mixture onto the pastry.

7. Gather the pastry around the ricotta and tie off with the foil strip.

8. Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet (to allow some dripping/breathing room for the dessert) and line the fagottini up on the tray. Brush with more of the honey mixture.

9. Cover with plastic wrap and refridgerate until ready for use. Keeps fresh a week or so in the fridge.

10. When you're ready to serve, preheat oven to 183 degrees celsius (about 360 degrees farenheit). Place on a lightly buttered baking sheet, and heat for about 8 minutes or until the pastry turns a very light golden brown.

11. Plate, drizzle with honey, and sprinkle hazelnuts on top. Add some whipped cream, blueberries and mint if you want to get fancy schmancy. Et voilà!

E. Looking forward to this weekend. Raphael '06 is heading here on Saturday night and we're planning on watching the parade and archery tournament that ends Città della Pieve's annual festival. Rumor has it the target for the bow and arrow contest is three spinning cows.