Pitticelle di Pane

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It’s pitticelle season! What’s that you ask? The word pitticelle is Calabrese dialect for the formal Italian frittelle. Either way, the best translation for pitticelle or frittelle is probably “fritter.” These pan-fried snacks seem to flourish in the summer for Italian families for, I think, two reasons: they are great for picnics and family gatherings and many feature fresh garden ingredients. My favourite pitticelle are Pitticelle di Cucuzzi (that’s Calabrese for Frittelle di Zucchine) which means Zucchini Fritters. The recipe for those is coming as soon as I have from fresh zucchini from the garden. A close second favourite is Pitticelle di Riso (Rice Fritters), made with arborio rice, the recipe for which I also hope to share soon.

Today’s pitticelle di pane recipe is relatively new to me, taught to me by my husband as they were a tradition in his family. If you thought the pitticelle/frittelle/fritter naming couldn’t get any more complicated, well you’re wrong. His family calls these types of snacks “pittiduci” in their dialect (I’m guessing a little on the spelling here). I was told that if I was going to put this recipe up on this blog, I had to call them pittiduci but instead I’m giving you all the names, the whole story. You decide what you want to call them. Even “crispy fried things” will do the trick, as long as they taste good!

These pitticelle/pittiduci/frittelle/fritter gems (whew, it’s getting long!) are made with the leftover seasoned breadcrumbs and egg wash used when making fettini which are breaded veal or chicken cutlets (Recipe for Fettini). This is another classic example of Italians not letting anything go to waste. Why throw out the breadcrumbs when you could make something out of them? These are the ultimate finger foods, quickly eaten up by visitors to the kitchen who wonder aloud “when is dinner going to be ready?” all the while trying to swipe a pitticelle as a pre-dinner snack. Often, by the time dinner is served, these crisp little guys are all gone.

Pitticelle di Pane (or Pittiduci di Pane or Frittelle di Pane)
leftover seasoned breadcrumbs (from breading chicken or veal)
leftover egg wash (from breading chicken or veal)
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
milk
fresh chopped Italian parsley
vegetable oil for frying

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By |24/07/2013|Contorno (sides and snacks), Recipes|6 Comments

Bean & Potato Salad

Bean & Potato Salad Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simple is better. It’s a rule with fashion. It’s a rule with writing. Most of all, it’s a rule with food. This easy little salad recipe, bean & potato salad, is a good way to keep it simple.

When it came to side salads, it always felt like my family had infinite variations for what to serve on hot summer days. Tomatoes and cucumbers, tomatoes and potatoes, potatoes and beans, asparagus, zucchini, whatever – as long as it came out of the garden fresh and was tossed with olive oil and garlic, you pretty much couldn’t lose. I’ll admit that when I was younger, I did my best to avoid any salad (with leaf vegetables or without), but now I see that good ingredients, simply prepared are the best to serve.

This recipe was a staple, simply because there was always an overabundance of beans from the garden during the summer. Adjust the recipe as you see fit – more beans or more potatoes or more garlic –to your taste. Some people love keeping peels on potatoes, others need to remove them. Mine are peeled just because it reminds me of Nonno.

My grandfather hated potato peels, while the rest of the family would leave the peels from baked potatoes until last to load them up with butter and munch our way through, he would push his off his plate. Nonno said, and this was probably the only thing he was this particular about, that even when he was poor in Italy he didn’t eat potato peels, so why would he do it now. Fair enough, I’m wasn’t going to argue with that since it just meant an extra peel for me.

Potato & Bean Salad
2lbs of potatoes
1 lb of green romano pole beans
1-3 cloves of garlic
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin Olive Oil
salt to taste

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By |14/06/2013|Contorno (sides and snacks), Recipes|0 Comments

Beet Risotto Arancini

 

 

 

Fall brings with it a lot of root vegetables, which generally I like. Except for beets. I’ve never been a fan. They taste ok but they look like a mess to work with. After an over-zealous shopping spree at a farmer’s market, I found myself staring at two beets in my fridge wondering what to do with them. I was pretty much resigned to giving them to my mom, who loves beet salad, when I found a way to work them into one of my favourite Italian dishes – arancini – and it’s a win-win situation.

Arancini are balls of plain risotto, breaded and fried until crispy. You’ll usually find meat, cheese, peas and/or sauce in the centre. My favourite arancini from a bakery near my parent’s place are about four inches wide and are a meal on their own. I haven’t mastered that recipe just yet, but these arancini are a good stand-in as an appetizer or snack. The beet flavour is mellow and slightly sweet and the colour makes for a surprising first bite. Enjoy!

Beet Risotto Arancini
To make the risotto:
2 red beets
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup minced red onion
2½ cups arborio rice
7 cups chicken stock
5 tablespoons grated parmigiano cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

To make arancini:
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
2 tablespoons water
oil for frying

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By |06/11/2012|Contorno (sides and snacks), Recipes|0 Comments

Asparagus and Sausage Frittata

Two things got me thinking about today’s recipe: first the garlic, onions and asparagus that have started to pop up in the garden thanks to this early spring and second, Aurora Importing’s contest asking what your favourite Nonna recipe is. A fresh asparagus frittata is a great way to welcome spring but doing it slow and over low heat makes it crispy the way my grandparents used to make it. Unlike common Italian frittatas, made with just eggs, my grandparents used cornmeal in their recipe which I suspect was a way, back when times were rough, to add a filler and extend the use of expensive eggs. The result though is a beautifully golden and crispy frittata. Here’s the recipe…my celebration of spring and home cooking.

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By |06/04/2012|Contorno (sides and snacks), Recipes|0 Comments