September 7th, 2015
Category Archives: Food & Drink
I fell in love with the Amalfi Coast on a week long holiday (although it really only took one day …) and my husband is a tour guide for the Campania region. This means tours and holiday experiences are both close to my heart and a part of my life. I’m always on the lookout for the best ways to explore and discover the Amalfi Coast, and that’s how I met the amazing team at Flavours Holidays. They offer unique cooking, painting, Italian language and Pliates holidays in some of Italy’s most picturesque spots. Including, of course, the Amalfi Coast! The team from Flavours have shared what they love most about the culinary traditions of the Amalfi Coast, along with a recipe for a lovely Lemon Mousse!
This beautiful southern coastal region offers fresh seafood, Mediterranean fruits and vegetables that result in light and refreshing meals and treats. Think Amalfi and you should think sunshine, stunning vistas and great healthy summer food. It is thought this delicious Mediterranean diet could be helpful to a long, healthy life as oily fish and fresh produce provide daily nutrients. Residents with the longest lifespans have been identified to live in coastal regions – including Italy’s own island of Sardinia. We think those great benefits can be soaked up on the Amalfi Coast too! Here are the local foods you won’t want to miss during your Amalfi Coast holiday:
While in the area, be sure to sample lots of seafood and fresh lemon dishes! The region is home to some of the world’s best and most varied seafood. Octopus, molluscs, prawns, sea bream, redfish and more are always served up fresh and with an unbelievable view. Our personal favourite, taught on a Flavours cooking holiday, is a Fish Ravioli. It can be made using your choice of fish or catch of the day and pairs well with a simple sauce with a bit of a kick. Whiskey, butter and cream are combined to create interesting warm flavours.
As with many regions of Italy, Amalfi offers its very own pasta cut. The local pasta of Maiori is Ndunderi. This pasta has been listed by UNESCO as one of the oldest types – dating back to the ancient Romans and continues its popularity today. The dumpling shapes make great hearty meals and prove very easy to make for those willing to get hands on in the kitchen. This pasta pairs wonderfully with simple pesto dishes or even just butter and fresh herbs.
A rare and unusual regional speciality perhaps worth seeking out is the chocolate aubergine. Yes, you read that right! You may not be convinced that aubergines are a dessert food, but many have changed their mind after experiencing this local delight. Either served cold or warm, layers of aubergine are combined with a dark chocolate sauce, liqueur and pine nuts to create an interesting taste infusion!
A more traditional dessert from the Amalfi Coast is simple lemon mousse. Another firm favourite on a Flavours cooking holiday, it is perfect for cooling down on a warm summer day. The recipe is easily recreated in your own kitchen, so there is no excuse not to give it a go!
Traditional Lemon Mousse Recipe from the Amalfi Coast
- 4 gelatine leaves
- 600ml whipped cream
- 3 yolks
- 150g sugar
- 250ml milk
- Zest and juice of 3 lemons from the Amalfi Coast
- 1 vanilla powder
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes & 1 hr cooling time.
1. Start the lemon mousse with grating the peel of 3 lemons. Juice afterwards. In the meanwhile, soak 4 sheets of gelatine in a bowl of room temperature water.
2. Mix the egg yolk with the sugar and whisk until thick and fluffy. Add some milk and the vanilla. Continue stirring the mixture to avoid lumps.
3. Put mix in a pot and heat slowly. Continue stirring to avoid boiling.
4. When the mix has thickened check if ready by testing if cream sticks to the spoon. When done, turn off the heat and add the soaked gelatine sheets to the pot.
5. Stir again until gelatine dissolves in the mixture. Let cool. Whisk 500 ml fresh cream with electric mixer.
6. When mixture has cooled down, add the lemon peel, juice and whipped cream.
7. Amalgamate it well with a ladle. Use upwards, constant movements so that the compound doesn’t deflate and lose volume.
8. Store the remainder of the whipped cream (100 ml) in the fridge. It’ll be used to decorate the mousse before serving.
9. Let the mix solidify in the freezer for at least one hour.
10. Serve the mousse. Decorate the dish with a bit of whipped cream, lemon slices and fresh mint leaves.
Flavours have provided activity holidays to Italy since 1998. Destinations and activity options have expanded since the company first offered cookery holidays, now sending guests on painting, Pilates, cooking and Italian language holidays to five regions of Italy – including the Amalfi Coast. Guests enjoy en-suite accommodation in private villas during week-long breaks. Prices include all meals and wine with dinner, week long tuition in the chosen activity, airport transfers and day trips to local towns and wineries. All week long breaks are priced at £1599, with £100 included towards the cost of flights. Flavours never charge a single traveller supplement.
I suppose if you lived in Georgia life might give you peaches. Perhaps oranges if you call the Sunshine State home. On the Amalfi Coast life really does give you lemons … and a lot of them! They’re stacked up in baskets at the markets and fruit and veggie shops and hanging on the trees just about everywhere you go. The choice of what you might do with the lemons life gives you is wonderfully rich on the Amalfi Coast. You could make limoncello, always a good choice, or you could squeeze it fresh over a salad or fish, make lemon risotto or some good old fashioned American-style lemonade.
I was in the mood for baking recently, and so I pulled out one of my favorite dessert cookbooks. To say I love The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook is the understatement of the anno. After being introduced to the cookbook from a friend, I stopped in The Hummingbird Bakery in South Kensington (and again in Notting Hill!) in London last March. They had chocolate cupcakes with mint frosting. I was smitten.
Since then I’ve had great success with every single recipe I’ve tried from the cookbook. And, oh, have I tried some! I’ve introduced my husband’s Italian family to the wonderful world of cupcakes and brownies. The cupcakes–particularly the cream cheese frosting–have been a huge it, and the brownies are now specially requested at holidays. Oh, and you should see what happens when you introduce Italians to home-baked chocolate chip cookies! You’d think they were the best thing since chocolate chip cookies. Oh … wait … well, you get the idea.
Since there’s just the two of us and neither my husband nor I are big on sweets, I rarely make dessert except for family gatherings or holidays. Yet I do love the classic lemon cake that is very popular on the Amalfi Coast. Yet, a whole cake is just too much for us to ever hope to finish alone. I’ve been eyeing the pound cakes and loafs in The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook lately and decided to give the Lemon Loaf of shot since it’s a lot smaller than the recipe I have for lemon cake in a bundt pan.
Oh my. Yes, you have to make this lemon pound cake at home. It’s one of those heavens to Betsy recipes that you’ll want to make again and again. I got impatient waiting for it to cook as the house filled with the lovely scent and made my stomach rumble. When it came out of the over and I drizzled the lemon syrup over the top the wait became nearly impossible. When it was finally cool enough to slice, I made tea because everything is better with tea. (I suppose you could have it with coffee, just don’t tell me …)
Let’s just call this my English twist on an Amalfi Coast tradition! Taking the photos was hard work and was duly rewarded with another slice of cake. Then I snapped a photo on my cell and sent it to my husband promising to try not to eat it all before he came home. Yes, this is one of those cakes that requires photographic evidence.
I wish I could share a slice of this lemon pound cake still warm from the oven. But the second best is to share with you the recipe so you can enjoy it at home!
Recipe for The Hummingbird Bakery Lemon Loaf
320 g caster sugar
grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
560 g plain flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
250 ml whole milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
200 g unsalted butter, melted
freshly squeezed juice and grated zest of 2 lemons
100 g caster sugar
a 23 x 13-cm loaf tin,
greased and dusted with flour
Makes 8–10 slices
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.
Put the sugar, eggs and lemon zest in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until well mixed.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in another bowl. Add
one-third of the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and beat well, then beat in one-third of the milk mixture. Repeat this process twice more until everything has been added. Turn the mixer
up to high speed and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Turn the mixer down to low speed, pour in the melted butter and beat until well incorporated.
Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and smooth over
with a palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45–55 minutes, or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched.
For the lemon syrup: While the cake is baking, put the lemon juice and zest, sugar and 200 ml water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over low heat. Boil until it has reduced by half, or until it has a thin syrup consistency. When the hot cake comes out of the oven, pour the syrup all over the top. Leave to cool slightly in the tin before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Thank you to Ryland, Peters & Small for allowing me to share The Hummingbird Bakery’s recipe for Lemon Loaf! The Hummingbird Bakery Cook Book Deluxe Edition is published by Ryland Peters & Small at £20.00 and is available from www.rylandpeters.com.
Very exciting news for all of you Amalfi Coast lovers in the UK! Tune in tomorrow evening to the MasterChef UK show on BBC One to see the semi final, which was filmed at the beautiful Mamma Agata Cooking School on the Amalfi Coast. In this episode, judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace take the semi finalists on a culinary odyssey to Italy, including a stop in Ravello to learn Mamma Agata’s cooking secrets and enjoy those dreamy Amalfi Coast views. Sigh … and what amazing views they are from the Mamma Agata cooking school!
Enjoy a sneak peek here with the preview for this episode of MasterChef UK. But you won’t have to wait long to see the full episode! Here are the details:
MasterChef UK on BBC One
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
If you didn’t catch Mamma Agata and her family featured on MasterChef UK, you can catch it all here. One word of warning … don’t watch when you’re hungry!
There are some days that—without even having to think about it—are unanimously pizza days. Sometimes that means we go out in the evenings for pizza or stop in one of our favorite restaurants in Amalfi for a quick lunch. Other days it means making a quick call and having pizzas delivered to our front door. Oh … yeah … now that’s the life in Italy!
Today was very much one of those days to order pizza for lunch One of my favorite pizzas in Italy, pictured above, is pancetta e cipolla in bianco, which is made with pancetta and onions without a tomato sauce. While I love the traditional pizza, many of my personal favorites are without the tomato sauce. If you haven’t tried pizza without the tomato sauce, give it a go on your next trip to Italy!
Of course with the traditional pizza margherita you can have all kinds of different toppings. My husband likes prosciutto cotto and mushrooms. The pizzas are delivered on a scooter from the next village over, which accounts for the mushroom that looks like it tried to make a flying leap over the crust. So now you know … this is what you do when it’s pizza day on the Amalfi Coast!
If you love Italy ephemera and pizza, you might get a kick out of Pazzo for Pizza Boxes (Crazy for Pizza Boxes) on Facebook!
The limoncello and mandarinello are ready! We picked mandarins and lemons in Amalfi last month, and the rinds have been infusing in pure alcohol since then. It’s longer than usual for the recipe from the Mamma Agata Cookbook that I use, but I simply kept forgetting to finish them off! The final result was tasty either way, but we still have to do the taste test comparison to last year’s batch. We picked lemons that were just turning yellow and were still a bit green, and the color of the limoncello (on the left) is ever so slightly green. The rinds of the lemons are at their most aromatic when they are still just a bit green. We picked the mandarins later this year than usual, so the color of the mandarinello doesn’t seem quite as intense as last year. But the flavor is still divine!
Do you make limoncello or other liqueurs at home? Limoncello is super simple, and only takes about a week to make. Although some recipes call for infusing the rinds for much longer, even up to 40 days as Cherrye from My Bella Vita has found out in Calabria! If you make limoncello at home, how long do you let the rinds infuse? Would love to hear!