Foodgasm of the Moment: Spaghetti alle Vongole

Lunch today: spaghetti with fresh clams, stellar olive oil, and a sprinkle of parsley. Simple and delish. Buon appetito!

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Foodgasm of the Moment: Fiori di Zucca

Give me some fiori di zucca, and I am a happy woman.

These delicious flowers that blossom from zucchini plants are a national favorite in Italy – thrown in batter and fried, of course. Found in practically every bar, they’re one of the most popular, quintessential Italian street foods. But with minimal effort, you can quickly and easily make them at home.

There are variations on the recipe, but the simple and delicious one traditionally used in Italy is as follows:

Ingredients:

– Zucchini flowers
– Anchovies
– Mozzarella (the small “ciliegine” or cherry-sized ones work well)
– Egg
– Flour
– Salt

*If you want to get creative, alternative ingredients include (but are not limited to): buffalo mozzarella, burrata, provolone, sun-dried tomatoes, speck, ‘nduja.

Preparation:

Stuff each zucchini flower with mozzarella and anchovy (one goes a long way). Twirl the ends of the “petals” to secure the contents before battering. Heat sunflower oil and beat a couple of eggs with a good pinch of salt. Dip each flower in the egg, then roll it through the flour and drop into the skillet. Each flower only needs about a minute on each side until golden brown perfection is achieved…

A true Italian delicacy!

Foodgasm of the Moment: Pizza con la Scarola

Getting a private home lesson from a personal master chef: my mother-in-law, direct from Caserta…

La pizza con la scarola, traditionally made in Southern Italy at Christmas and New Years (but as far as I’m concerned any regular Saturday is a fine excuse).

What’s inside:

Escarole (greens)

Greek (kalamata) olives

Anchovies (sparingly)

Capers (rinsed, sparingly)

Pine nuts

Raisins (optional)

Hot pepper flakes

Christmas in Italy, step three: Il Primo

Christmas in Italy, step 3: 

Il primo (1st course) of linguine with fresh shrimp, zucchini, and pachino tomatoes, and secondo (2nd course) of baccala’ paired with frittura of calamari and shrimp.

Christmas in Italy, step two: “I struffoli”

Christmas in Italy, step two:

“I struffoli” – little fried balls of deliciousness covered in honey, just like my Nonna used to make every year.  My turn now…  She’d be proud.

Here’s my recipe (sorry, it’s in the metric system – I’m used to it by now).

Ingredients:

400 grams of flour

40 grams of sugar

5 eggs

1 shot of limoncello

Lemon zest

Sunflower oil

Honey (ideally citrus-infused)

Candy decor

Mix flour, sugar, eggs, limoncello, and lemon zest in mixer until dough is formed (should be thick enough to be able to form balls).  Work dough with a dusting of flour and section off into large clumps. Pull fingertip-sized bits of dough from the clumps one at a time and roll into mini balls (this is the most time-consuming part, depending on how big you choose to make them – they are typically very tiny).  Give them a light dusting of flour so they’re all separated, then toss them into hot sunflower oil until they turn a golden brown color.  Oil should be at least half-pan deep and very hot.  Strain them and lay to rest on some paper towel in a serving bowl.  Once all have been fried, remove the paper towel and pour honey abundantly over struffoli, turning with a large spoon to be sure all are covered.  Sprinkle colored candies over them, and enjoy!