Sunday, 13 November 2011

Parmesan finger food

Wear your heart on a stick
Since we came back from Bologna in June – writes Liz Cousins -  I have been trying to keep up the Italian I learnt at the wonderful Bolognese language school – -  where I did a week’s intensive course.  So I have found a local Italian teacher Laura who is trying to cram some more grammar into my brain.

 This Saturday Laura invited all of her students to a spaghettata. We were all asked to bring a contribution and the idea was that we would try out our best Italian phrases on each other.  I decided to make a few nibbles to add to the antipasti plate. Both of these recipes  make ideal  finger food or canapés.  The hearts on a stick could be what Franski is looking for for her wedding next May.

Biscotti di parmigiano

These are simplicity itself, although one or two seconds too long in the oven can ruin a whole batch. All you need is a pile of finely grated Parmesan, a flat baking tray covered with Bake-o-Glide or equivalent, a 2” (50ml) round biscuit cutter and a palette knife.

Place the cutter on the tray and sprinkle in ¼ inch (12ml) of parmesan - make sure it covers the whole area before you  remove the cutter.  The parmesan should retain its shape but you don’t need to be too tidy about it.  Repeat, leaving a good space between each as they spread as they melt.

Taking care not to jog the tray place it into an oven heated to 220 degrees C or Gas 7.  This is the tricky part- the cheese will quickly melt and bubble and you want it to very slightly change colour but not too much as this will make the biscuits bitter.   Remove the tray from the oven and leave the biscuits to cool and set hard. Carefully remove with a palette knife.

You can store the biscotti  for a few days in a tin but I find that they never last that long.

 You can make them into lollipops  for a party or heart shaped for a wedding by placing a wooden lollipop stick into the centre of the parmesan shapes before you cook  them, adding  a little more parmesan to cover up  the stick. Cook as above.

Crostatine di parmigiano con olive

Another simple starter-  Mix one large egg with 40g of finely grated parmesan and 2 tablespoons of cream, plus salt and pepper. Take a sheet of bought puff pastry and cut small squares just big enough to fit shallow bun tins (I find muffin tins too deep).  Add 2 pitted green olives and a good spoonful of the mixture.  Place in a hot oven (about 220 degrees C) until the pastry is golden brown and the filling has puffed up.

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