Archive for December, 2011

December 16, 2011

Buckwheat obsession: pizzoccheri

Pizzoccheri

Do you ever get periods when you are obsessed with some ingredient or flavour? Whenever I imagine to cook something right now, I think it would taste better if it contained some buckwheat. I am not sure what triggered it. It is a grain I’ve always found rich and complex and I’ve always been fond of.  In the mountains around Milan, where I grew up, it is a common fare. It is a hardy, resistant crop able to grow in poor soils, and it actually likes the cool and rainy summers in the mountains. It does not need as much sun as ordinary wheat, a grain with which buckwheat bears no connection whatsoever, other than  the name.

December 7, 2011

Late nights and cookies

Buckwheat biscotti

These cookies are golden, crunchy and smooth. I was surprised how much a conversion to black and white revealed of their texture. When you see them in colour, they are a triumph of golden, rich hues and the little cracks are easily overlooked.  When you bite into them, they snap and crunch, but then they are actually easy to munch and swallow, a texture that matches their flavour perfectly. They contain buckwheat flour, intensely nutty and with a raw taste, mellowed out by the conspicuous amount of butter and sugar. They are once again a creation of Kim Boyce.

We ate almost all of them with a glass of whisky while chatting with an old time friend who is here with us now. It was a good evening. This weekend we are going back to Wales. Many of our friends are still there and I almost feel as if I did not move, as if those two years never happened. It is a good feeling. I am going to bring them big boxes of cookies if I can. They are in season right now.

 

The picture goes to Black and White Wednesday, hosted by Susan of the Well Seasoned Cook.

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December 2, 2011

Late autumn dinner: pear and almond galette

Pear and almond galette

I feel much better, although I’m not sure how long it is going to last. Add to this that the season is just perfect for baking: it is not yet cold outside, not really, and I don’t keep the heating on that much, but a warm oven is definitely welcome for the little heat it produces. So here I am, in the middle of a baking frenzy.

I am becoming friends with the new oven. I still need to dig out the instructions for it, because it is of a type I never had before. It is made of two smaller ovens stacked one on top of the other, both gas fuelled. The top one seems to have a broiler and some sort of ventilation going on, but I don’t really get it. The bottom one seems more conventional. In Italy I always had gas ovens but they were larger – the monster being my mum’s 90 cm large oven, spectacular in its early days, when you could bake a roast, potatoes, bread and a cake, if you could make the temperatures somehow work together, or you could bake half a kilo of biscotti for our Christmas production in one go. This oven collapsed a few months ago, and was recently replaced with an equally sized beast, after a long agony where making it work involved a complicated process with a protective metal plate and some mountaineering ropes. I hope the new one will do as well as the old one, although I feel it is a bit oversized.

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