The Italian feeling

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A new adventure begins
I am on my way to Padua, I was last there with my friend Pia before I started LCF in 1978
Then with a Peugeot 407 coupe with 2 windsurfers on the roof.
I am going to browse the markets and cook with friends , who have now the time to enjoy my passion too.
My first food in Italy was in San Remo in 1969, then in Varese my first plate of pasta with shaved truffles over it, never to be forgotten, after that visiting my friend Penny Radford at her Hilltop holiday homes, Prato di Sotto in Umbria, giving cooking classes there to a few of my students.
Also wine trips with Ellen Bax tasting the most fantastic wines imaginable
And even more culinary moments in the past years
I love Italy, the pureness of its food made possible by perfect ingredients.
This morning we are of to Market, I am told one of the best in northern Italy
More later
It was a lovely morning despite the weather, we had great fun buying the ingredients for lunch tomorrow. Then some culture visiting the amazing Palazzo Della Ragione .
Originally constructed in 1218 as the seat of the law courts and the city council.

Last night Foeke made a artichoke risotto ,
As you know I love artichokes and here you can buy them already cleaned
The recipe was from the seller of the artichoke !, the best way to learn , from the source.
6 young small artichokes cleaned and sliced in about 4/6 slices
1 onion chopped
Olive oil
A fresh stock (vegetarian)
one can use cubes, the Italians do
Canaroli rice
White wine
Flat leafed parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
Place the onions in a casserole with the olive oil and cook softly for a few minutes. Add the artichokes. Pour over the wine and cook gently for 10 minutes, add a little more wine or stock if necessary to cover the artichokes
Add the rice and ladle over a little of the warm stock, when this is absorbed add a little more
Season well, when the rice is cooked , remove from the heat, add a little of the Parmeggiano cover and leave to stand
Serve with chopped flat leaf parsley and the remaining cheese
I once learned that when you press a grain of risotto rice between the thumb and index finger and you only see a small tiny white point of the kernel of the grain , it is cooked.
Risotto should have a bite to it.
Notes( I found this)
Cooking the rice al dente is the first, biggest step to greatness. Just like pasta, you want the grains to have a slight bite-you want each grain to have its own identity. The best way to test is to taste it. But if you’re unsure, employ the smear test. Take a grain and put it on a smooth surface (like a cutting board or your countertop). Press your finger into the grain and smush it down while dragging your finger across the surface. If it’s undercooked, the grain will chunk apart and you’ll be able to clearly see the white, raw center. If it’s just right, your smear will start to smooth out, but you’ll be still be able to see a little bit of the white, al dente center of the grain. If it’s overcooked, the smear will be totally smooth.
Called the “king” or “caviar” of risotto rice, chefs like to use this one for its great flavor and because each grain maintains its shape. It also produces the creamiest risotto and is more forgiving to cook with.
Tonight we are eating at one of there favorite restaurants , simple but good. I look forward to it.
Padua is not plagued by tourist despite it proximity to Venice and has some wonderful what I call real shops. Hat shops, beautiful clothes shops, real specialist shops with wonderful arrays of food, chocolates and sweet meats.
A true feast for the yes.
Most visitors are pilgrims or connected to University life.
The lively local restaurant was run by a Dutchman who had lived for forty years in Italy. The food was good we had three starters, delicious creamy baccalau, black black sepia in a delicious sauce with white polenta and a wonderful stew of stuffed small ink fish . Actually that was enough bit we had ordered one of their lovey stews too. Mine was rabbit.
Finished of by chocolate mousse wit three spoons.
The city is upstart night so we stopped fora wee nightcap in one of the local cafés
Full of students earlier it was filled with old men , then locals popping infer a simple meal.
Despite the bad weather we where out and about, the covered walkways making a it almost dry.
We had fun walking the streets , having coffe and tremizzino for lunch and we even made roast chicken followed by apple crumble on Sunday, for some of their Italian friends in their tiny kitchen with 2 small oven baking tins

We had seen puttanesca on the market and decided to make it last night, we even managed to buy a special cutter in a very small ironmongery

that and the prepared artichoke bottoms with a
Bagna Caudo made our meal last night , and a little pasta just with butter and parsley
Life can be so simple and cooking together with Foeke and Charlotte such fun.
Padua is a lovely city full of history and art and throbbing with student life
And not many tourists either, most are Italian pilgrims Foeke says.
I loved it there despite rain and snow and can imagine in summer with all the lovely terraces and the tiny cobbled streets a great place to be..until deep into the night
Bagne caudo
12 cloves of garlic ( 1 head)
100 g anchovies
1 cup olive oil ( or a little less)
20 g butter
A little lemon juice
Chop the garlic fine, chop the drained anchovies , place in a small pan with the olive oil and allow to cook over a low heat for 20 minutes , the garlic should not discolor
Purée and add the butter and lemon juice .
I used this as a dressing for the Puntanessca , it is often used as a dip sauce with vegetables and it is great dripped over a good buffalo mozzarella
Now in the plane with a few goodies in my bag and many happy memories
I must visit Italy more often…

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