I love the sound of Italian. And, I know that I’ll never be able to pronounce words like an Italian does. I’ll always have my American accent when I speak Italian, which, in Italy, comes with a mixture of ridicule and respect.
In the States, non-Italian-language speakers have a field day with the pronunciation of Italian words. I taught you about one a while back. The wonderful potato dumplings called gnocchi that many pronounce as “no-key” should really be said phonetically as “nyaw-key” where it rhymes with “chalky”. Another one that you hear everyday is spaghetti where, here, English speakers say “spageddy” rather than the Italian word which demands that the two Ts get their proper emphasis. Probably one of the few Italian words that we American English speakers get right is “pizza“.
The word in today’s title is a fun sounding Italian word when pronounced correctly. It sounds like this phonetically, “sbreech-o-lah-ta”, with the accent on the third syllable. Try saying it out loud with the phonetic aid and hear the onomatopoeic beauty of this simple word for crumble. It comes from the word for crumb, briciola, like in the English word does.
Recently, I told you about the web site for Italian recipes, Giallo Zafferano, that we are often perusing for ideas and inspiration. There is one for dessert that Marco also discovered. It’s actually still part of Giallo Zafferano but is found in their Facebook site and this recipe can be found by clicking here. All of the recipes are from scratch, quick, and look wonderful. The sbricolata alla nutella came from this site.
Ingredients for a 7-inch spring pan:
- 80 g of soft butter
- 150 g of sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 250 g of self-rising flour
- a pinch of salt
- 50 g chocolate chips
- Nutella q.b.
- Turn the oven on at 360 F
- Combine butter and sugar with a mixer until you obtain a creamy mixture
- Add the egg and the vanilla and continue to mix
- Add the flour and a pinch of salt and with the help of a wooden spoon mix it all together
- Add the chocolate chips to incorporate them int he mixture
- Using your hands, create the base of the torte but pressing half of the dough on the bottom and sides of the spring pan. The border should be at least 1/2 inch
- Add the desire amount of Nutella to cover the entire torte (and more)
- Use the other half of the dough to crumble it on top of the Nutella to create the top layer of the torte
- Place in the oven for 35 minutes
We have a fish or seafood meal once a week. We also plan our food needs for the upcoming week, so that we shop once, and have all the ingredients for each night ready at home. This makes it possible for us to enjoy preparing home-cooked meals from scratch each weeknight after a long day at work and school.
This fish cutlet is one example of how to eat a tasty, healthy meal, sitting down as a family together on a week-day night. It is a simple dipping in an egg batter, coating with bread crumbs, and sautéing in olive oil until golden brown. Served with a green leafy salad dressed with olive oil and salt, a few baguette slices, followed by a fresh seasonal fruit, and you have a nice balance of protein, vitamins and minerals, and satisfaction for the palate.
Lately, we’ve been using flounder. It can also be done with sole or any other fish you enjoy that will hold it’s form during the dipping, breading, and frying process. Fry in enough olive oil to fully coat the bottom of the pan. A wedge of lemon placed on each plate is another nice addition for those that would like the zest of citrus flavor along with the savoring fish.
I often mention the Mediterranean diet in these posts. So far, it seems to be one of the healthiest diets based on the research. It makes sense doesn’t it? There is an emphasis on plant-based foods, legumes, nuts, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, seafood and moderate amounts of meats. Another key component is the use of olive oil as a healthy fat and not butter or other oils. This meal is a good example of a simple way to enjoy the flavors and health of the Mediterranean diet.
Many of the best Italian recipes have a few simple ingredients. The beauty is in how they combine to produce an enjoyable meal, and tasting the way the flavors of each item complement and contrast in a pleasurable experience on the palate. For instance, take spaghetti alla carbonara, a simple concoction of egg, cheese, and pancetta. Each ingredient has its own distinguishable flavor, yet, when joined together with the right texture, good quality ingredients, and amount of salt and pepper, make a wonderful whole (click here for our version).
I haven’t read any research on this, but just through my limited experience of eating with Italians over the years, one of them being Marco, I’ve noticed a style of eating which takes notice of the flavors of foods with devoted attention. In addition, this often results in a tasting palate that is sensitive to the fine details of each ingredient. There is a look of concentrated attention in the face as the taste buds and the neurotransmitters in the brain communicate back and forth to discern the joy in a well crafted dish.
Mindfulness calls us to focus on the present reality before us with the same focussed attention of an eating Italian. One exercise to help cultivate this ability is called mindful eating. It asks us to take uninterrupted time to eat with rapt attention to all the details. It can include a pause before to focus our thoughts on how the food we are about to eat was brought to us. Who grew it? How was the animal treated? What process and who was involved in delivering it to us and preparing it for our consumption. Then, mindful eating involves all 5 of our senses to see, smell, touch, hear, and taste the food in a deliberate and slowed-down fashion to cultivate a present focus and allow us to feast on all the senses.
The recipe here is another one with a few quality ingredients.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- crushed red pepper flakes (q.b.)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- salt and pepper
- 1 pound (1″-thick) tuna steak cut in small pieced (1/2″ each)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts previously toasted
- 12 ounces short pasta (i.e. penne)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
- bring a pot of salted water to boil
- In a large pan, heat the olive oil and add garlic and anchovies
- Once the anchovies are melted, add the tomatoes and sauté for 2-3 minutes at medium high heat
- Add the swordfish and cook for about 2 minutes or until the desired finish of the fish
- Add the pine nuts and flavor with salt and pepper
- Sprinkle the parsley and keep warm at low heat
- Cook the past al dente
- When the past is ready, scoop it in the sauce and add 1/4 of a cup of the cooking water
- Mix well and serve warm
There’s a really good food web site that we enjoy called Giallo Zafferano, literally Yellow Saffron. It has wonderful recipes of traditional Italian cooking as well as new takes on the standards. The site also has easy to watch video recipes. The written recipes have photos corresponding to each step of the recipe, so even if you can’t read the Italian, it is easy to follow along. We often go to this site for inspiration or ideas when we can’t think of something to make.
Today’s recipe comes from Giallo Zafferano and can be seen by clicking here. This is a flavorful pasta dish that uses a few simple ingredients and results in a hearty meal to warm the body and soul on the cool days of Fall or cold wintry nights.
The word contadina is the feminine singular of the word for peasant or person of the country or farmer. The ingredients for this pasta are all things that a farm-house would have, some tomatoes, beans, and a little smoked pancetta hanging in the cellar.
We used the fresh gnocchetti sardi that Matteo made from an earlier post (click here), but you can buy a dried pasta version.
- 400 g (14 ounces) of gnocchi sardi
- medium onion, finely chopped
- 400 g (15 ounce can) of Spanish beans drained (reserve water for later) (we used cannelloni)
- 200 g (7 ounces) tomato sauce (we used our canned tomatoes from the local farm (click here)
- 75 g (2 1/2 ounces) of smoked pancetta, thinly sliced
- rosemary 1 branch
- black pepper
- olive oil
- 5 leaves sage (we used dried sage powder)
- 1 clove of garlic
- start boiling the water for the pasta
- meanwhile, heat the olive oil on low and add the whole garlic clove until it is golden on all sides
- take out the garlic clove and add the onions
- sauté on low heat and stir frequently so that they don’t burn
- add the chopped sage and rosemary
- add the slices of pancetta
- add fresh ground pepper
- add the beans with the remaining water that they are in
- add the tomato sauce and cook on medium heat for about 12 minutes
- once the pasta is cooked al dente, add to the sauce and plate