Vanilla Bread Pudding Cake or Torta di Pane alla Vaniglia

Vanilla Bread Pudding Cake I had a truly fun weekend where I volunteered to help out at an enogastronomic walk in Cardada (a mountain just above Locarno). The walk was dedicated to our local produces so I thought I’d post a recipe that is typical from my region: the torta di pane (or bread pudding cake). Continue reading

This is the second torta di pane recipe I post. The difference is that in this version there’s no cocoa powder; instead I used white chocolate for a twist. This kind of recipe is a great way to use leftover bread and it’s so easy that you just can’t get it wrong. For information, this cake is not made to be overly sweet and it should stay nice and moist once it’s cooked. This traditional recipe is something everyone makes here in Ticino and you can also easily find it in restaurants and grottoes.

 

 

Vanilla Bread Pudding Cake or Torta di Pane alla Vaniglia

 

For a 24-26 cm round cake mold

Prep time: 25 min (plus soaking time)

Cook time: about 1 hour

 

Ingredients:

200 g stale bread (white or semi-white)

100 g amaretti

7 dl milk

1 vanilla pod

100 g dried apricots (the sour kind) – I would have loved to use dried physalis but didn’t find them. Sultanas are also an option

Zest of 1 lemon

100 g slivered nuts

60 g white chocolate

2 eggs

40 g sugar

50 g melted butter

Icing Sugar (optional)

 

Recipe:

In a bowl or container break the bread into pieces and add the amaretti.

Pour the milk in a pan. Incise the vanilla pod by its length and scrape out the seeds. Add the pod and the seeds to the milk and bring to a boil. Once ready pour over the stale bread and amaretti and leave to soak for 2-3 hours. You can leave the vanilla pod in, just remember to remove it once the bread and biscuits have soaked.

Chop the dried apricots and place them in a cup. Add hot water and leave them to soak for a couple of hours.

Grate the white chocolate.

Heat oven at 190°C.

Once the bread and amaretti have soaked, mash them with a fork as finely as possible.  Drain the apricots and add them to the bread preparation along with the white chocolate, the lemon zest, and ¾ of the almonds.

In a separate bowl  mix well the eggs and the sugar and add the butter and eventually the grappa. Pour over the rest and mix the ingredients with your hands or with a spatula until the mass looks even.

Grease the sides of a cake tin and dust with flour. Line the bottom of the cake tin with oven paper. Transfer the preparation to the cake tin and even out the surface. Add the remaining pine nuts and place in the oven for about 1 hour.

Once ready leave to cool before removing from mold. Eventually sprinkle surface with icing sugar.

 

Walnut Crusted Tomme Cheese & a Night Out in The Village

Walnut Crusted Tomme CheeseA part from the different decorations I’ve seen around, I really feel Christmas is just around the corner. Since a few years, in my village there is a contest about who makes the best nativity scene. Continue reading

The day the contest officially starts there is a small celebration in the village; besides looking at the nice work the inhabitants have made, there are also a few food and drink stands where we can enjoy a nice moment together. Friends of mine produce an amazing cheese and I knew they would hold a Raclette stand so I told them I would come by. When I arrived it was still early but soon people began arriving and not long after I found myself helping them preparing the melted cheese. I had a really nice time and despite my initial idea was go to there, have a bite and a drink, I ended up being among the last people to leave the celebration. Here are a few pictures of the “Via dei Presepi” (“The Path of The Nativity Scenes”).

In the mood for some more delicious melted cheese, I made this recipe, which is very easy but so tasty. For the breading I used walnuts which, with a cheese that has the consistence of a brie works very well. Together I made a radicchio and apple salad with a honey dressing and I found the combination to be just heavenly.

 

Walnut Crusted Tomme Cheese

 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 15 min

Cook Time: 8-10 min

 

Ingredients:

For the cheese

4 tomme cheeses (100 g each – not too soft)

45-50 g chopped walnuts

4 tbsp. breadcrumbs

2 tbsp. flour

Pepper

1 egg

1.5-2 tbsp. grape seed oil

 

For the salad:

2 tbsp. grape seed oil

1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

1.5 tbsp. runny honey

Salt and pepper

200 chopped radicchio

1 small apple (I used Braeburn)

 

Recipe:

Start preparing the salad by mixing the first four ingredients in a bowl. Quarter the apple and slice each quarter. Add the radicchio and apples to the salad, toss and set aside.

Take a dish and add the flour with a little pepper, break the egg in a bowl and mix and in a third dish mix the breadcrumbs with the walnuts.

Start by dipping one tome in the flour, shake of any excess, then pass it in the egg and finally coat with the breadcrumb-walnut mix. Repeat for each piece.

Heat the grape seed oil in a pan and add the breaded tommes to cook for 3-4 min per side.

Remove from pan and serve without waiting accompanied by the salad.

 

Gusta il Borgo 2014

Gusta il Borgo 2014 Last Saturday with the same small group of three we met up like last year to participate at the 3rd edition of the enogastronomic walk Gusta il Borgo 2014 held in Ascona, by the Amis da la Forcheta. Even if I had a cold and (from what I learned yesterday) a small stress fracture on my ankle, I would not have missed this event for almost anything in the world. I was right to go anyway because like last year we had a great time filled with laughs, great food and drinks. With our tasting glass around our necks, the map and a few supplementary goodies, we began our walk at half past eleven. At a short distance from the starting point was the first stop where we were served coffee, a croissant and muesli with farina bona flakes and raspberries. While we began eating our “breakfast” a group of men arrived and one of them began to wear strange clothes for a man while the others watched and laughed; soon we found out that they were celebrating a bachelor party. This was an entertaining start. Continue reading

Gusta il Parco – 07.06.2014

Last Saturday I participated to my second enogastronomic walk and I can tell you I was looking forward to it. Continue reading

Beside the great produce you get to taste it’s the friendly environment I’m really fond of. This walk was a little different from the Gusta il Borgo as the different stages of tasting spots are not in any set precise order. In addition to the different tasting stages, there was also the possibility to visit/see spots of natural, cultural or historical interest. Late in the morning I met up with my two most usual adventure companions in Ponte Brolla where we had a coffee and soon enough we would inaugurate the day with a glass of wine while watching the amazing landscape around us.Gusta il Parco

We first headed to Verscio which was one of the two possible starting points and got our bracelets along with the first produces which were different artisanal beers and a few nibbles. With the heat rising I was happy to begin the walk with a cold beer (the white one being my favourite). I just want to mention that I tasted a Merlot bread sandwich, which I found to be just delicious. I absolutely want to try to make this at home.

Soon we were on the road heading towards the next tasting spot where we had some wine and a soup made with a local product I have already mentioned: the Farina Bona (basically it’s pop corn flour). This particular flour is very flavourful and it can be used in infinity of products from sweet to savoury. The other great thing about this flour is it doesn’t need cooking to be consumed.

Back on the road, our next chosen tasting spot was under the trees where the “grottoes of Tegna” are. On out way there we passed in front of one of the historical spots we could visit during the day which was a bomb shelter dating back to WW II. Now I know we were not in the war but in case of need we would be prepared.Gusta il Parco

Once we reached the grottoes it was like entering a fairy tale. These places have something magical about them and whenever I find myself there my imagination starts running. The sunlight going through the forest trees contrasting with the shadows, these entrances in the mountain that seem to hide secrets and legends… well, you have to see it to feel it. Our ancestors used grottoes to store their food and wine; they didn’t have electricity but I can assure you about the efficiency of such places. In fact we enjoyed a little bit of the energy-free coolness before we got down to tasting the scheduled cheese platter with some honey and wine.

Next our expedition of three made an unplanned coffee stop before we continued. Okay, I admit we also had a platter of cured meat and a little water and some more wine. After this we walked spontaneously without really following the map and in fact, since none of us has a good sense of orientation, we sort of lost our way. Soon we would be on the right track again but lost some time in the guessing. Along the river and through the forest and vineyards we reached what would be our last tasting spot. I say ours because unfortunately time was going by and we didn’t manage to reach the last two tasting stages. The two main reasons were that our unplanned “coffee” stop took longer than planned and since I had been walking barefoot on the super hot asphalt I earned myself the two largest blisters I have ever had and they were both on my heels. I really regret not going through all the stages. I promise next time I shall not make the same shoe mistake. I still have an unaccomplished feeling about Gusta il Parco I’ll wait for the return match.

Finally I want to congratulate all the team of the Amis da la Forcheta for their great job in finding original ideas and the way they manage to get though them. Thank you guys and keep up the great work!

General information:

What: Gusta il Parco: an enogastronomic walk made up of 6 stages + 7 stages with either a cultural, historical or natural interest.

Why: to promote the project for the National Parc of the Locarnese

Where: Switzerland – Ticino- Terre di Pedemonte

When: 07.06.2014

For who: Everyone as long as you have walking proof shoes (I speak from personal experience)

Links:

– amisdalaforcheta.ch (here you can see more pictures of the event, if they are not posted yet they will soon be there)

– parconazionale.ch

The Yoghurt Factory in Airolo – Muuh


On Friday, on my way to Crans Montana for the weekend, I stopped to visit my old friend Andreas at his work place: he work at the yoghurt factory in Airolo (the village just before the Gotthard tunnel when you’re heading north). Continue reading

I arrived by train and as I was stepping down the train I could already see the yoghurt factory since the place is basically part of the small train station of Airolo. Soon I was told to enter the place and wear the “sexy” protective clothing: shoe protections, plastic mantel and a headset. Andreas then came to me and gave me the official welcome (even though we had already seen each other five minutes before) and we began the tour. By the way he was speaking I had the impression it was not the first time someone was visiting, which is something he confirmed. Of course there are business related visits and journalists , but it’s nice that sometimes  schools come over to visit (of course the tour is organized in a slightly different way then) and the children can have a taste of the products. I like this spirit of letting people satisfy their curiosity, I can say that it’s not everywhere this way.

Andreas took me through the process and explained to me the different steps: from when the milk arrives to the finished product. However, more than focusing on the technical process, I want to write about the product because I think it deserves the attention. This is a small factory and besides the farmers providing the milk, there are six people in the “Yogurtificio” (that’s how we call the place in Italian). Andreas is the manager and above him is his owner and boss. I am mentioning Mr. Lombardi (Andreas’ boss) because I remember that less than one year ago he was awarded the prize for innovative agriculture.

The particularity of this product is that the origin of the milk used to produce the yoghurt strictly comes from the region around the Airolo. This also involves the condition that the milk comes from cows which are only fed with grass which has not been ensilaged. This really helps with the taste which is not acid. Another trait of this product is that the flavoured yoghurts are made with products without that are additive-free. The “Yogurtificio” delivers in the Ticino region to Coop and Migros: the two most popular Swiss supermarket chains in Switzerland. Despite the yogurt factory is only about 2-3 years old, it’s doing well and recently it has even began delivering to the Zurich region. Besides the two big clients, the “Yogurtificio” also have their own packaged yogurt which is the Muuh brand, these products are made for the smaller commerce and hotels and restaurants.

I am not a daily yogurt consumer but this one is a good product, trust me, I have tasted a few. Before Andreas worked there, he used to bring a bottle whenever I made dinner; today along with the wine he also brings over yogurt (and not only a couple of pots). Thanks Andreas for the generosity and the fun and interesting moment.

 

Related Links (in Italian):

This is the actual site of the Yogurtificio. There is little information but you can find the contact details.

agroval.ch

These are the two supermarkets that sell the yogurts from Agroval. The first is an actual interview to Mr. Lombardi (Andreas’ boss). The second is the Coop’s program Pro Montagna which is a range of products selected from the mountainous regions of Switzerland.

migros.ch

coop.ch

My “Ticino Experience” Experience

T.E.7Last Wednesday I met up with my boyfriend to attend a local product tasting activity. It was during the time of the aperitif and it would be presented along with a mute comic film. Continue reading

When I found out where the event took place I was surprised ; it was a place we used to hang out at night a few years ago. Back then they used to have toilet seats as chairs and somewhere there must have been a bathtub too. Of course, the chairs had changed to suit today’s circumstances… We were welcomed by a very friendly woman, our/the hostess Claudia. While waiting for everyone to arrive she offered us some cured meats and bread. As the people progressively arrived I was happy to notice that half of the people we tourists and the other half were locals. I find this to be a good sign because it means the activity touches more categories of people. We sat down and after a short presentation we watched the introductory part of the mute film which set the ground for the main part of the story. Fidelio has a three starred restaurant in Spain. After a visit from a gastronomic critic he loses one. Now he is desperate to gain it back.Through a psychic St. Borromeo (a saint from the region)  tells Fidelio to travel to Ticino to gain back his lost inspiration.

T.E.1

At the end of the first part we were invited to grab a plateau with a set of tasting items which we would put on our laps. At set times of the film we would be able to eat these delicacies.

T.E.4

Each product was tied to a section of the story, and it was hard to stay back and wait for the right moment. Fortunately these moments came along quite fast. In the middle of the film, as I was watching I could hear a husband and wife speaking in our local dialect:

‘Oh look, that’s Lalo on the screen.’ The wife said.

‘Come on. I didn’t see but… wait. You’re right, it is Lalo.’

A few minutes later the wife spoke again:

‘And the monk the is Roberto.’

It amused me to hear them while I was munching away some of the local goat sausages called “Cicitt”. Apart from the sausages we tasted different cheeses, wines, one liquor (“nocino” which is the monk’s traditional liquor) and finally a sweet spread made with “Farina Bona” (in English it would translate as good flour). I just want to add a quick word about this type of flour which is made of toasted corn grains (basically popcorn) and which is a traditional product of the Onsernone Valley. It is a very versatile product and it can even be used to make “Farina Bona” ice cream (link: http://www.farinabona.ch/en/index.php).

T.E.9

I really enjoyed my moment at “Ticino Experience” and my boyfriend (although it doesn’t look like in the picture) must have liked it too as he kept on repeating what a nice idea it was to have tried this activity out. Personally I found that the hour literally flew and would recommend it to anyone. I can say that I will surely return, especially when I have guests coming to visit.

T.E.8

PS: Sorry for the quality of the pictures,I only had my phone and found it hard to shoot in such low light… or perhaps it’s the photographer’s skills.

Where : La Rustica (Albergo Losone), Losone, Ticino, Switzerland.

When : March-October / Mon-Thu 18:00, Fri-Sat 17:00 / Lasts about an hour

For who: Adults and kids, locals and tourists. If wish to have an overview of the region (because there are nice shots of the landscape too) or you already know it but wish do something different, this is for you.

Link : http://www.ticinoexperience.ch