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Chicken in Beer
A 3½-to- 4-pound roasting chicken
You will need a heavy 6-quart pot, such as enameled cast iron. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400 degrees.
Trim excess fat from chicken, and season it inside and out with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Scatter the onions, carrot, parsnips, sage, cloves, and cinnamon in the pot, sprinkle over this the rest of the salt, and set the chicken on top of the vegetables.
Put the pot on the stove, pour in the stock, beer, and apple cider, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes on top of the storve. Put the pot in the oven, and roast the chicken for about 30 minutes, basting with the pan juices two or three times. Cover the chicken with a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent overbrowning, and roast another 30 minutes.
Remove the foil, and roast another 20 to 30 minutes, basting frequently, until the chicken and vegetables are cooked through and tender. Remove the chicken to a warm platter, and surround with the vegetable. Bring the pan juices to a boil on top of the stove, and cook until reduced by half. Carve the chicken at the table, and spoon some of the pan juices on top.
From Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy, courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf.
Fried Mozzarella “in a Carriage”
Makes 6 servings
The carriage in the title refers to the bread that the mozzarella rides in. Like the preceding recipe, this dish was originally made with white bread. Whole-wheat bread adds texture and complexity. You can see in the directions below that everything is laid out before the oil is heated. Once the oil comes to temperature, you should be ready to start frying right away.
From Lidia’s Italian American Kitchen, courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf.
Makes about 3 dozen vegetable morsels
For the stuffing
For the vegetable assortment
You will need 2 or more large shallow baking dishes or casseroles, such as 4-quart, 15-by- 10- inch
Scatter the chopped porcini, scallions, basil, grated cheese, and salt on top of the torn bread; toss and mix together with your hands. Pour in the beaten eggs, and stir with a wooden spoon or mix with your hands to form a well-blended, fairly dense stuffing.
To prepare zucchini for stuffing: Trim off the ends, and slice the squashes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the central pulp and any seeds with a teaspoon or melon baller, so each half resembles a hollowed boat. Cut the long halves crosswise into serving-sized pieces, about 3 inches long (or shorter if you like).
To prepare bell peppers for stuffing: slice them lengthwise in half, starting at the stem, or in thirds if very large; trim away the stem and all seeds and fibers, forming cuplike pieces.
Pull out the stems of white mushrooms, leaving the hollow caps for stuffing. Cut tomatoes in half crosswise, and squeeze out the seeds to make concavities for stuffing. Peel the onions, and cut them crosswise into ¾-inch- thick slices. When all the vegetables are prepped and all but onions are hollowed, put the pieces (except the onion slices) in a large bowl. Toss with the olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt. Brush some of the oil on theonion slices, keeping them whole. To stuff and bake the vegetables:
Butter the baking dishes, arrange a rack (or two, if necessary) in the oven, and heat to 425º. Fill each vegetable piece with a tablespoon of stuffing, more or less. For zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms, fill the cavities with stuffing and arrange all the pieces in a baking dish, with a bit of space between the pieces.
Lay flat onion slices right in the dish, and mound a spoonful of stuffing on top of each slice. When the dishes are filled (but not crowded), sprinkle all the vegetable pieces evenly with the grated cheese and remaining teaspoon salt. Scrape any olive oil left in the vegetable bowl over the stuffed pieces, and pour half of the reserved porcini-soaking liquid (leaving behind any gritty residue) into the bottom of each baking dish.
Cover each dish with a tent of foil, pressing it against the dish sides and making sure it doesn’t touch the stuffing or tops of the vegetables. Bake 30 minutes, until the vegetables have started to soften and release juices, then remove the foil tents and bake until stuffing is crisped and brown, another 30 minutes or so. Switch the position of the dishes in the oven once or twice so all the pieces cook and color evenly. Serve hot from the oven, or let the vegetables cool and serve warm or at room temperature.
From Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy, courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf.
Makes a 12 or 13 inch tiramisù, serving 12 or more
Though Treviso is recognized as the birthplace of tiramisu, the precise origins of this phenomenally popular dessert are shrouded in mystery. Imagine my excitement, then, when my friend Celeste Tonon, proprietor of the Ristorante da Celeste, passed on to me the original procedures for making this luscious assemblage of ladyfingers (savoiardi) and mascarpone cream, which Celeste learned from his mentor Speranza Garatti, the true mother of tiramisu, he claims. Her creation was made and served in individual portions, in a goblet or coppa, which I suspect gave rise to its name, which means pick me up in the Venetian dialect.
One of the delights of making tiramisu is its versatility. This recipe makes a family-style dessert in a large dish, but you can easily compose single servings in dessert glasses, wine goblets, or even elegant teacups for a more impressive presentation, in the style of Signora Garatti’s original “coppa imperial.” And while the conventional version of tiramisu calls for espresso-soaked savoiardi, I’ve found that other flavors can be incorporated into the dessert with great success. Here, the brightness of fresh lemons and limoncello liqueur lace the cream and soaking syrup to make for a tiramisu that is refreshing and irresistible.
5 large eggs
Pour just enough water in a double boiler pan so the water level is right below the bottom of the mixing bowl when it is sitting in the pan. Separate the eggs, putting yolks into the large bowl of the double boiler and the whites into another stainless bowl for whipping by hand or with an electric mixer.
Remove the zest of 2 or more of the lemons, using a fine grater, to get 2 tablespoons of zest. Squeeze out and strain the juice of these and other lemons to get ¾ cup of fresh lemon juice.
To make the base for the tiramisù, heat the water in the pan to a steady simmer. Off heat, beat the egg yolks with ¼ cup of the sugar and ½ cup of the limoncello until well blended. Set the bowl over the simmering water and whisk constantly, frequently scraping the whisk around the sides and bottom of the bowl, as the egg mixture expands and heats into a frothy sponge, 5 minutes or longer. When the sponge has thickened enough to form a ribbon when it drops on the surface, take the bowl off the double boiler pan and let it cool.
Meanwhile, pour the remaining cup of limoncello, all of the lemon juice, the 1 cup water and ½ cup of the sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and cook for 5 minutes, evaporating the alcohol. Let the syrup cool completely.
In another large bowl, stir the mascarpone with a wooden spoon to soften it then drop in the grated lemon zest and beat until light and creamy. Whip the egg whites with the remaining ¼ cup sugar, by hand or by machine, until it holds moderately firm peaks.
When the cooked limoncello sponge (or zabaglione) is cooled, scrape about a third of it over the mascarpone and fold it in with a large rubber spatula. Fold in the rest of the zabaglione in 2 or 3 additions. Now fold in the whipped egg whites in several additions, until the limoncello-mascarpone cream is light and evenly blended.
Pour some of the cooled syrup, no deeper than ¼-inch depth, into the pan to moisten the ladyfingers (Savoiardi). One at a time, roll a ladyfinger in the syrup and place it in the dessert pan.Wet each cookie briefly—if it soaks up too much syrup, it will fall apart. Arrange the moistened ladyfingers in neat tight rows, filling the bottom of the pan completely. You should be able to fit in about 20 ladyfingers in a single layer.
Scoop half of the limoncello-mascarpone cream onto the ladyfingers and smooth it to fill the pan and cover them. Dip and arrange a second layer of ladyfingers in the pan and cover it completely with the remainder of the cream.
Smooth the cream with the spatula and seal the tiramisù airtight in plastic wrap. Before serving, refrigerate for 6 hours (up to 2 days) or put it in the freezer for 2 hours. To serve, cut portions of tiramisù in any size you like and lift each out of the pan onto dessert plates.
From Lidia’s Italy, courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf.
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