Sunday, 30 January 2011

Lombo al latte - Pot-roasted pork in milk

Although common in Bologna, this is a cross-border dish that you might also  find in Lombardy or Tuscany or in the Veneto. It is a simple and irresistible way of pot-roasting pork by immersing it in garlic and sage perfumed milk with a hint of lemon.  Hardly kosher. Sonia, whose Mum was Jewish, from Naples, introduced me to this. Last night I served it with borlotti beans and shredded spring greens. The reserve merlot from Tenuta Bonzara, high up in the Bolognese Hills, would go well with this, gently cutting through the greasy richness of the pork, the sauce and the crackling. Pork loin is very nice but shoulder will do and it’s much cheaper.

Cooking hints: remove the skin from the pork, rub salt all over it and roast it separately.


4 tbl olive oil

1 onion

1 celery stick

1 carrot

4 cloves garlic left whole

1kg pork loin or shoulder, with the skin removed and scored through

1 sprig sage

4 bay leaves

1 litre milk

salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2  lemon


1. Begin with the battuto: fry onion, celery, carrot and garlic in olive oil in a large roasting pan or casserole until they soften and the onion begins to brown.

2. Place the pork in the pan along with a bundle of bay leaves and sage. Add the zest of the lemon.

3. Add enough milk to cover the meat. Bring it to a rapid simmer, then reduce the heat until the milk is barely moving and place it in a slow oven for three hours.

4. Take it out and test the meat for tenderness with a metal skewer. If necessary, return it to the oven.

5. When it is done to your satisfaction, remove the meat from the pan and place it on a carving board, covered with foil to keep it warm.

6. Remove the bundle of herbs, season the pan juices with salt and pepper and a squeeeze of lemon and whiz up them up so that they form a smooth sauce. Re-heat for serving and pour into a jug.

7. Cut the meat into thick slices and arrange on a serving dish together with the crisp roasted skin (if that’s what you’ve done). Hand around the dish and the jug of meat juice.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Pasta con cavolo verza e prosciutto - Pasta with savoy cabbage and prosciutto

There may be a simpler and more effective recipe for macaroni. In the meantime, this one will have to do. It uses one of those excellent Italian winter vegetables, savoy cabbage. The main thing is not to stew the cabbage. If you shred it finely, it will get all the cooking it needs while retaining flavour and texture. You can use pancetta or bacon if you prefer but grill it until it is crisp. Equally, you can use penne or broken up spaghetti instead of macaroni.


120g prosciutto or pancetta or bacon

300g macaroni or penne

salt and pepper to taste

200g savoy cabbage

1 onion

1 clove garlic

30g butter

20g flour

100ml milk

50g parmesan

30g parsley


1. Grill the prosciutto, and shred it when it’s cooled down.

2. Put the macaroni on to boil in salted water.

3. Add the savoy cabbage finely shredded as you drain the pasta – it will get all the cooking it needs.

4. In the pasta pan melt the butter, add finely chopped garlic and onion and fry for a couple of minutes until it begins to colour.

5. Add the flour to make a roux, then add the milk to make a loose béchamel, then the parmesan and the pepper.

6. Return the macaroni and savoy cabbage to the pan and combine with the sauce, adding the chopped parsley, then the grilled prosciutto.

7. Serve before the cabbage loses its crispness.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Tortelloni di zucca e mascarpone - Butternut squash and mascarpone tortelloni

For an experiment we decided to try the River Cafe recipe for butternut squash tortelloni. In particular, we wanted to see how the fresh pasta turned out. In Emilia-Romagna all the sfogline we have consulted or seen in action have told us that the recipe is one egg per 100g of flour and nothing else apart from salt. Whereas the River Cafe recipe is for a mixture of whole eggs and egg yolks plus olive oil. Giorgio Locatelli claims to have made pasta with 52 yolks to a kilo of flour when he worked in Rebuchon in Paris.

Anyway, the pasta part of the River Cafe recipe works well but to intensify the flavour of the filling, we had to radically reduce the amount of parmesan and mascarpone in the filling and to roast the butternut squash.


for the pasta

350g type 00 flour

2 medium eggs

5 medium egg yolks

½ tbl sea salt

½ tbl olive oil

for the filling

0.75k butternut squash or pumpkin

50g butter

2 large garlic cloves, finely sliced

salt and pepper

200g mascarpone

200g parmesan

½ nutmeg

for the sage butter

1 bunch fresh sage

100g clarified unsalted butter


1. Using a mixer or processor, combine the flour, salt, olive oil and eggs. Using a dough hook, knead slowly for 10 minutes until you have a smooth ball of dough. If necessary add another egg yolk.

2. Dust the work surface with flour, then knead the dough for 4 minutes until it is completely smooth. Wrap it in cling film and put in the fridge.

3. Roast the butternut squash in a medium hot oven for 30 minutes. Then scoop out the pips, scoop out and mash the flesh.

4. Fry the garlic in the butter and add to the squash. When cool stir in the mascarpone, parmesan and nutmeg. Season to taste.

5. If rolling by hand, roll the dough out on a floured surface until you can see a patterned tea towel through it.

6. If using a machine, flatten the dough and cut it into four, then put each quarter through at each setting, gradually reducing the setting until you have the thinnest.

7. Cover the pasta with a tea towel to prevent it drying out.

8. Take a strip of pasta and distribute a teaspoonful of the filling every 4cms using a teaspoon or piping bag (much easier).

9. Take another strip of pasta and lay it over, squeezing the two strips together, working from one end to the other, and using your fingers to exclude the air as you do.

10. Use a small cutting circle to cut out the tortelloni. Or, if you prefer, a square.

11. For the sage butter, heat the clarified butter in a large frying pan and when hot add the sage leaves for a second or two. Remove from the heat. Remove the sage.

12. Boil the tortelloni in plenty of salted water for three or four minutes.

13. Briefly sauté the tortelloni in the butter.

14. Divide the pasta between four warm bowls and place a sage leaf or two on each.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

In search of the ultimate…chocolate ice cream

Stefino - a cause for concentration even if it's not chocolate
La Sorbetteria - is this the ultimate?
If you’re ever at a loose end in Bologna, one of the most profitable ways of spending your time is in tracking down the ultimate – in our case – chocolate ice cream. It’s a perfect way of spending a summer’s day, and then, as Margherita Bianchini says, in the winter debating which was the best. Bianchini’s invaluable 101 Things to do in Bologna at least once in your life helpfully pinpoints the gelato giants of the city.

Funivia, now in Piazza Cavour, benefits from the advantage of location. You can buy an ice cream and eat it under the trees in the piazza. There’s even a fountain to wash your hands afterwards. But currently we are torn between Stefino and La Sorbetteria. As always, the ultimate test has to be chocolate ice cream, truly difficult to get right, as Fergus Henderson admits in Nose to Tail Eating where he is driven to appeal for a recipe that works. Stefino’s moro – chocolate with almonds – is a good match for La Sorbetteria’s bitter extra fondant. You could also be tempted by Stefino’s Sicilian cannoli with fresh ricotta or La Sorbetteria’s wonderful array of sweets and chocolates.


Via Galliera 49b

Closed: winter

La Sorbetteria Castiglione

Via Castiglione N° 44

Open every day until late

Friday, 7 January 2011


Still life at Serghei

A quiet local trattoria where businessmen eat a quick and alarmingly alcoholic lunch whilst lovers linger over bollito and a semifreddo. The menu is displayed outside and is delivered orally so you will need to concentrate. Similarly with the wine list which has a strong representation from Emilia-Romagna. Our first inclination was to rename this place Surly but once we’d tried the food we were forced to revise our opinion.

Chickpea and barley soup was a substantial and tasty winter dish which made a pleasant change from pasta. The gnocchi was feather light even if the gorgonzola sauce was slightly overpowering. Here as elsewhere in Italy, you get what it says on the menu. So, lombo – pork loin – is just that: a simple dish of pork cooked in milk to create a delicious sauce with a hint of sage and garlic. (The recipe will be on my blog before the weekend is over.) Accompanied by salad and some bread, it was easily enough for both of us. Not cheap but very good.

Via Piella, 12

40126 Bologna, Italy

051 233533

Closed Saturday and Sunday