Baccalà Mantecato Recipe

  baccalà mantecato is one of the signature dishes of Venetian cuisine and a staple of those wonderful hidden-away Venetian bacari, or wine bars.

The name of the dish comes from the verb mantecare, which is a culinary term meaning to 'beat' or 'whip' or simply to 'stir vigorously' so as to create a creamy consistency. It is the same word used to describe the final stage of making a risotto, when you stir the rice vigorously to incorporate grated cheese and butter, to creating that luscious creamy consistency that we all know and love. The technique serves the same purpose here, but in a wholly different context.

Baccalà Mantecato 

250gr salt cod, rehydrated. I think this involves a lot of soaking and changing of water over several days – we bought ours already soaked. A pinch of salt – the salt cod once soaked isn’t super salty 1 fat clove of garlic A handful of parsley 2 tbsp milk A squeeze of lemon juice

Oil, for emulsifying (we used vegetable as that’s what we had to hand; groundnut would also work but don’t, whatever you do, use extra virgin olive oil as it will overwhelm the cod)

Simmer the cod in water for 5 minutes, then leave to cool. While warm, break into pieces as small as possible.

In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and parsley into a paste. Add the cod and mix vigorously. Roll back your sleeves and get pounding and smooshing as someone else dribbles the oil in, until you get a thick, smooth paste. It needs quite a bit of oil. Add just a squeeze of lemon juice, then loosen with the milk – add on tbsp at a time until it is incorporated – if you feel it’s necessary. Serve with toasted bread.

Fegato alla Veneziana (Venetian Liver and Onions)

Fegato alla Venziana, finely sliced liver with gently stewed onions, is one of the most classic Venetian dishes, and even those who do not usually like liver enjoy it. The recipe will serve 2 Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 white onions, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon rubbed or ground dried sage
  • 1 garlic clove, flattened
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 12-ounce, 1/4- 1/2-inch-thick calf's liver, cut into strips
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley

Preparation

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, 1/2 teaspoon thyme and 1/2 teaspoon sage and sauté until onion is tender and brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add garlic and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Discard garlic.

Combine flour, remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme and remaining 1/2 teaspoon sage in bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Pat liver dry. Add liver to flour mixture and toss to coat. Add butter to garlic oil and melt over medium-high heat. Add liver and stir until beginning to brown on outside but still pink inside, about 3 minutes. Add onions and sauté until liver is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley

 

Carletti Risotto

MAKE THE STOCK: In a large saucepan, combine the water with the onion, carrots, leek, celery, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and cloves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate, cover and simmer for 50 minutes. Strain the stock into a medium saucepan, cover and keep warm.
MAKE THE RISOTTO: In a medium skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add half of the minced shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the carletti a handful at a time, stirring between batches until wilted. Season the baby greens with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the vegetable oil. Add the remaining shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook over moderately high heat, stirring to coat the grains, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the warm stock and cook, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until it is nearly absorbed between additions. The risotto is done when the rice is al dente and suspended in a thick, creamy sauce, about 25 minutes total.
Stir the wilted greens and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into the risotto and season with salt and pepper. Serve at once, passing the cheese at the table.

Venetian Fritole Recipe

These Frittole, Fritole or fritters are a speciality of the Veneto during Carnevale. Be warned, they are addictive! An alternative to cooking them at home...if you are in Venice is here!

Between Candlemas (2nd of February) and Martedí Grasso (Fat Tuesday) the Venetians celebrate Carnevale. The festivities are not the drunken bashes associated with Mardi Gras. The focus is on the beautiful costumes that recall the history of Venice. There are many costumes that would be considered performance art.

This is one of my favourite dolci recipes. The fritole are much more than a donut or a simple fritter.

Venetian Frittole Recipe
Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups + 2/3 cup milk
  • l tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 ounce yeast (1-1/2 cakes)
  • 1 tsp + 1 pinch sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup grappa (substitute rum if necessary)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • cooking oil for deep frying
  • powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Soak the raisins in the grappa.
  2. Break up the yeast in the 1/4 cup lukewarm water in a small bowl. Add a pinch of sugar and set aside. If the yeast is fresh, bubbles should begin to form immediately.
  3. Put the sifted flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix in 1 1/4 cups milk.
  4. Add the egg and mix well.
  5. While stirring, add the yeast-water mixture and an additional 2/3 cup milk.
  6. Continue stirring until smooth. This should be a very thick, doughy batter.
  7. Bubbles will start to form within the batter.
  8. Add the raisins, pine seeds, and remaining grappa and mix well.
  9. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place it in a warm, draft free spot.
  10. Allow the batter to rise for about 3 hours.
  11. Fill a deep fryer or a saucepan half full of good cooking oil. Heat the oil to 375F.
  12. Wet a tablespoon with cold water. Scoop up the batter, and with a moistened a thumb, push the batter off the spoon into the hot oil (Be careful of the oil. By dropping the batter in close to the surface you will prevent splashing.)
  13. Repeat with 4 or 5 more spoonfuls of batter. Cook the fritter until it has an even deep golden brown color, turning it once or twice during cooking. The fritters should not be too big.
  14. Remove the fritters from the oil and drain on a paper towel. Cut open this test fritter to make sure that it is cooked through. If so, proceed as described above for the remaining batter, cooking 4 or 5 fritters at a time.
  15. When the fritters have cooled, roll them in powdered sugar and place on a platter.

Venice Frittelle (Frittole)

frittele of St Giuseppe, pastry typical of mar... Ok Ok I know Christmas and New Year are still here, but we have to think ahead and ahead in sweets terms means: Frittelle…Frittole..Fritoe, or fritters, are the most famous dolci or sweets of  Venice during the Carnival Season.

Frittelle begin showing up in pastry shops, Cafes and  bakeries, mid January and  during the weeks leading up to il Carnevale di Venezia. When Carnival is over, frittelle disappear from the store windows almost as quickly as tourists in masks.

Frittelle come in a variety of styles, both filled and unfilled, the available choices usually include:

Frittelle veneziane. No filling, but with raisins and pine nuts mixed into the fairly heavy dough. After frying, the frittelle are rolled in granulated sugar.

Frittelle con crema chantilly. Filled with a light vanilla-flavored pastry cream and rolled in granulated sugar.

Frittelle con cioccolata. Filled with a mild chocolate-flavoured pastry cream and rolled in granulated sugar.

Frittelle con zabaione. Filled with a Marsala-flavored pastry cream and rolled in granulated sugar.

The most famous and renowned places where to get the Frittelle (and my votes) are:

  • Pasticceria Tonolo: Contrada San pantalon in Dorsoduro 10/10
  • Pasticceria Didovitch: Campo Santa Marina     9/10
  • Pasticceria Bonifacio Calle degli Albanesi San Marco 4/10 (uncooked)
  • Panifico Fornareto Calle del Forner Cannaregio  8/10
  • Coffe Pasticceria Pitteri Strada Nuova Cannaregio  9/10 but poor Cappuccino!
  • Dal Mas  Cannaregio Rio Terà Lista de Spagna, 150  8/10
  • Rosa Salva  (5/10)

The worst Frittelle (IMHO)

  • Majer (San Giacomo dell’Orio) : just one word Terrible!!!

Last year prices were around 1.00 and 1.30 Euro each  but I have seen also a few outrageous 1.50

Castradina

The “castradina” is a stew, real comfort food, and is a traditional recipe that traces its roots in Dalmatia, where the dried, smoked mutton aromatized with herbs and spices came from. At a time when food deteriorated easily and could carry diseases, the “castrà” (a leg of castrated lamb) was a guarantee. This delicacy has to be prepared 2 days in advance and the “castrà” is available in the best butchers a week before the feast of Madonna della Salute. INGREDIENTS: CABBAGE CASTRA’ ONIONS, CARROTS ROSEMARY, THYME, LAUREL AND JUNIPER IN A GAUZE BAG EXTRA VERGIN OLIVE OIL

Thinly chop the carrots and the onions and stir-fry in olive oil. Add the cabbage slices into thin strips and simmer in low heat in little water (keep adding water when needed) with olive oil until soft. Bring to a boil the castrà in water with the herbs, let it simmer for about half an hour, then remove from heat, throw away the water where the castrà has been cooking, and complete the cooking in renewed water (otherwise it gets too salty). Put both the cabbage and the meat aside, somewhere cool. The next day, skim off the layer of grease, add the cabbage and simmer for an hour approximately. Serve it as a hot stew or a soup.