Fettuccine alla papalina – The Pope’s Fettuccine

Country 49 – Vatican City

The smallest country in the world with a total of 44 hectares makes up the entire country! It also has an extremely small population with the grand total coming to under 1000 people. This walled city of great religious power is nestled right in the heart of the ancient city of Rome. Benvenuto a Città del Vaticano or Welcome to Vatican City!

vc - gardens

Food in the Vatican

As the Vatican is located right in the middle of Rome its cuisine is identical to traditional Italian food. There is also only two places tourists and residents alike can dine out in the Vatican which are a café/pizzeria in the Vatican Museums and a café near the Sistine Chapel rightfully called Sistina. The favourites are classic pizza’s and pasta’s favourites of millions, Italian and otherwise. Most residents eat at home for breakfast, lunch and tea, in which in the Italian way have a simple early breakfast of coffee, cereals and bread. A large lunch often in the early afternoon and can last for a couple of hours with family and friends and dinner or tea is served relatively late for someone like me who usually has dinner between 6-8pm the Italians have their dinner late as they had a large lunch so they usually dine around 8pm or later, their meal is quite smaller usually salads, cold appetizers or soups.

A popular Italian breakfast: cappuccino, spremuta (freshly squeezed orange juice) and beautifully crispy, soft and buttery pastries.

A popular Italian breakfast: cappuccino, spremuta (freshly squeezed orange juice) and beautifully crispy, soft and buttery pastries.

WHAT I MADE

While scouring the internet for a recipe that isn’t just Italian but has links to the Vatican in particular I came across this other blog GlobalTableAdventure which is this amazing food blog that is cooking meals from around the world also and has been very successful. So the recipe is Fettuccine alla Papalina which was created for Pope Pius XII in the late 1930’s. There’s many stories of why this recipe was created but they popular one is that the Pope’s chef first made this for the Pope as a classier and more luxurious version of Carbonara. So a big thank you to Global Table Adventure as you saved me from having no idea where I could possibly find a Vatican recipe! Here’s the link to the recipe on Global Table Adventure’s page Fettuccine alla Papalina

DSCN1967

RECIPE

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 Tbsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped
4 ounces prosciutto, diced
3 eggs
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan reggiano (best quality you can buy)

1 lb dried or fresh fettuccine
fresh cracked blacked pepper, however much you like but more is better and is what makes Paplina, Paplina

Method

Whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese. Set the mixture aside.

Boil your fettuccine , drain, and toss them with a bit of oil or butter to keep them from sticking.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, cook the onion in butter until totally soft and translucent on a low heat with a lid on, about 5 minutes

Add in the proscuitto and heat it for a few moments until fragrant. 

Toss hot, drained fettuccine and turn off the heat.

Pour egg mixture over pasta and toss thoroughly with fresh cracked pepper

Stir until egg has thickened and thoroughly coats fettuccine and cheese has melted

Now add as much pepper as desired, remember its meant to be peppery!

DSCN1972

This meal was utterly delicious! As you can see I served it with a beautiful organic tomato, soft goats cheese and basil salad with a balsamic dressing. Together they were creamy,cheesey, salty and peppery heaven! I a hundred percentage will make this again and again it’s just so good. Score was overwhelming 10/10.

Roma x

 

Paprika Chicken with caraway noodles from Croatia

croatian-food-festival     images-12

PAPRIKAS

Oh beautiful Croatia, how I long for thee! Sandwiched between the Balkans and Central Europe, it has been a part of many different empires all leaving their mark on this land of stunning natural beauty. Known as ‘The Land of Regions’ owing to it’s wealth of cultural influences and varied terrains, Croatia is a treasure.

images-7

Pletvice Lakes

Gorgeous beaches, myriad rocky islands, awesome mountains, caves, canyons,  and unbelievably scenic lakes and waterfalls. There are eight impressive National Parks and ten equally scenic Nature parks. To sum it up everywhere you go –  it’s picturesque!

Settled from the early stone age, there is fantastic architecture from many ages, all jumbled together, from Greco-Roman palaces, Viennese and Venetian mansions, Slavic churches and Napoleonic fortresses and medieval walled towns, seven places are listed with UNESCO.

Zagreb Cathedral

A colourful culture with loads of festivals and religious holidays and strong traditions in the arts such as painting, singing, folk dancing, traditional wooden toy making, lace weaving, and baking heart-shaped gingerbread. Many of these crafts are listed as culturally significant. A regional family orientated cuisine where eating and drinking are very important and a big part of any festival or (frequent)  religious days which often feature a special food or dish.

Sites to See

There are too many fantastic things to see in Croatia to mention them all, I’d love to go there myself! Have now put it on my ever growing list of places to see before I die! But some of the enormous range of top spots are: Dubrovnik and its’ impressive medieval walls, Split has a retirement palace built by the emperor Diocletian in the 3rd Century,  Zagreb the capital has a laid back charm, Pula features a fantastic Roman amphitheatre (better than in Italy!) in Zadar there’s Roman streets and a forum, there is the UNESCO world Heritage St James cathedral in Siblenik and the basilica in Porec not to mention Trsat Castle.

Amphitheatre at Pula

Spectacular natural beauties include the striking other world weird beauty of Pletvice Lakes and the waterfalls at Krka and limestone rock formations at Paklenica Nature Park, the very popular Zlatni Rat beach, and various scenic islands off the dramatic Adriatic coast.

Croatian Islands

Croatian Islands

Croatian Cuisine

Traditional Croatian Foods

The cuisine of Croatia is hearty peasant food with many distinctive regional styles, it follows the European traditional diets  of protein, dairy, vegetables and grains. An emphasis  on fresh seafood from the sparkling Dalmatian coast where the influence is more Mediterranean, to the interior where the Austro-Hungarian influence is strong, and from the East came the spices, pastries and coffee of the Ottoman empire.

A popular cooking method is in a pekawhich, a wood fired brick oven where all manner of food is cooked to perfection sealed  in a peka, a dish rather like a tagine. Another popular cooking method is spit roasting and grilling meats particularly over an open fire or coals, game is a favourite, and especially cevapcici, like a skinless sausage.

Pasta and dumplings like djoki gnocchi are common, and Croatians are extremely fond of their enormous range of charcuterie.  Wonderful tasty soups are integral to most meals e.g. Zagorska juha with porcini mushrooms, bacon and capsicum. Ajvar is ubiquitous and delicious condiment made from roasted eggplant and capsicum,  and spices like poppy seeds, caraway, and paprika along with citrus and Meditterean herbs such as sage, bay, marjoram and rosemarLet them eat cake!There are many sweet treats ranging from pastries like strudles, pancakes(palacinke) meringues, cheesecakes and doughnuts  and a vast array of complicated cakes, kolači or torta’s many featuring fresh or preserved fruit. Special favourites are cherry, plum and apricot as well as walnuts, almonds and poppy seeds. Custards and cream fillings are popular too.

Drinks

Croatian Beer

Croatian Beer

Huge coffee drinkers, and not surprisingly big beer drinkers too, surrounded by many world class beer brewing countries, Croatia does make some of its own. There are over 300 wine-producing regions and many fruit or nut flavoured spirits are produced.

Paprikas with buttered caraway noodles

  • 500gm chicken thigh fillets
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tb oil
  • 1 large potato
  • ½ red capsicum/bell pepper
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp gr chilli
  • 200ml white wine
  • 4tb sour cream
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 250ml water
  • 300gm egg noodles/pasta
  • 1 tb butter
  • ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • finely chopped parsley

Paprikas

  1. Cut up chicken into bite sized chunks, chop onion, peel and dice potato and capsicum.
  2. Heat oil in saute pan on medium, cook onion until soft and golden brown. Add chicken and brown well.
  3. Add potato and capsicum, brown lightly, add spices and seasonings, stir 1 minute till fragrant.
  4. Add wine  and bring to boil. Add water and cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes until chicken is tender and potato is cooked. Uncover and reduce to a soupy sauce.
  5. To serve : toss cooked egg noodles in butter and caraway seeds, place in bowls, ladle on Paprikas, garnish with sour cream and parsley.

This recipe came from a Croatian cuisine web site but I looked at so many I can’t remember which one!  Paprika Chicken in one form or another has long been a favourite of our family, so while this dish was no surprise, it was still enjoyed by all, and is particularly nice served with the caraway noodles – although Bunny declared a new found aversion to caraway seeds! Scored 7/10 – pleasant but not memorable.

A pie to die for – Timpana, like lasagna in pastry!

Week 16 – Malta

Timpana  – A Rustic Pasta Pie

How can you go wrong with a pie? Everyone loves pies! In this rustic but decorative version, pasta is baked with Bolognese style sauce further enriched with chicken livers and eggs, in a golden, flakey puff pastry case. Filling and tasty, it’s like lasagna in a pie!

 

Valetta

Malta  – the place

The Republic of Malta is several islands, part of a ridge once running from Africa to Europe, it’s closest to Sicily. Waves of invaders from the Phoenicians, The Romans, the Knights of St John, the Moors and more, have left it with a unique and varied history. Its strategic position has given it an importance much greater than it’s tiny 316km² size. In fact Malta is one of the worlds smallest and most densely populated countries and has the smallest capital in the European Union.

Despite it’s tiny size, it boasts nine UNESCO world heritage sites. Valetta, the ancient capital called The Fortress City, “a city built by a gentleman for gentlemen” named after it’s founder a Grand Master of the Order of St John with the magnificent Grand Harbour dating from Roman times, it’s one of the worlds most concentrated historic cities.

Other places include an underground temple or necropolis called the Hypogeum in Paola and 7 Megalithic structures which are among the oldest in the world, and plenty of really impressive cathedrals. Plus possibly the worlds best diving site, there are natural features of the stunning Blue Lagoon and Azure Window, an impressive limestone arch on the coast.

During the Second World War, Malta was besieged and endured the heaviest and most sustained bombardment in the entire war. Over 15,000 tons of bombs were dropped from over 3,500 unrelenting raids continuing every day for 154 days and nights. After the war, King George VI acknowledged this debt, awarding to the people of Malta collectively, the George Cross, Britain’s highest award for civilian bravery – “to bear witness to ……..(their) heroism”

Malta – the food

As expected there are many strong influences in Maltese cuisine, notably Sicily and Britain, as well as Spanish and Provençal. Traditionally the food is a hearty peasant style typical of the Mediterranean. Making the most of local seasonal produce, such as olives, cheeses, sausage, breads, seafood and rabbit, fresh vegetables especially tomatoes and garlic, with wild herbs like mint, thyme and oregano.

Sweets are often very sweet with Arabic influences in pastries and sweetmeats like nougat, macaroons and nut and especially citrus flavoured delicacies. Other desserts are more Italian such as Cassata, granita  or Kannoli. English classics like bread and butter pudding, trifle and apple pie are made with interesting versions and there is a huge range of biscuits to nibble on.

Locally produced wines from the limestone soils are robust reds and crisp dry whites and beer has been brewed here for centuries. Unusual liqueurs like Prickly Pear, Almond, Honey, Carob and Blood Orange are made and very popular too.

This recipe is adapted from http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/timpana Thanks SBS – we love you!

Timpana

Timpana – Pasta Pie                                Serves 8 -10

Ingredients

  • 3  tb butter
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 150 g bacon, finely diced
  • 150 g minced pork
  • 150 g minced beef
  • 150 g chicken livers, diced, (optional:substitute with 100g mushrooms sliced + 50g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in boiling water 15min, then strained, keeping juice)
  • 250 ml chicken/ beef stock
  • 1x 4400g can tomatoes/400ml tomato puree
  • 2 tb tomato paste
  • 300 g macaroni or penne
  • 75 g parmesan, grated
  • 75 g tasty cheese, grated
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • salt and pepper
  •  3 x puff pastry sheets approx. 26cm²
  • 1 egg, beaten to glaze

Ingredients

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F. Heat the butter in a large saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add the bacon and pork, stirring well to separate, then add the beef and continue cooking for 10 minutes, stirring every so often.
  2. Add the chicken livers if using and cook for 5 minutes. (If using mushrooms, add them and juice from porcini now).
  3. Add the stock, the tomato paste and puree, and season. Simmer 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Sauce needs to be quite thin and liquid as pasta will absorb a lot more liquid while cooking.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until little undercooked. Drain, then mix through the sauce. Stir in the cheeses and egg and check seasoning.
  5.  Line a buttered baking dish with the pastry, extending it up the sides. Spoon in the pasta and cover with another layer of pastry. Prick the timpana all over with a knife to let steam escape. Cut strips of extra pastry to decorate the top.
  6. Beat the egg and brush it over the timpana. Bake for 1–1¼ hours.
  7. Serve with a nice green salad to balance out the richness, some crusty bread and a glass or two of red! And as they say on Malta – L-Ikla it-tajba!