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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Italian Countryside - Rabbit! for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy!

I had the pleasure last night of presenting foods on the theme of Italian Countryside as part of the events through the Assiniboine Park Conservatory held at the MLCC.

Enjoy these items as part of everyday celebrations.

The reception beverage was an Italian Iced Tea made with Cinzano.

1. Vegetable Antipasto Platter

The wine pairing was Mezzomondo Pinot Grigio/Chardonnay $10.05

Hot Pickled eggplant
Pickled mushrooms
Marinated artichokes
Roasted Red peppers
Raw vegetables (Radicchio, arugula, etc.)

2. Sage Butter pasta (Burro e salvia)

A lovely wine pairing was Casa Alle Vacche Vernaccia Di San Gimignano $13.99

100g butter.
Bunch of fresh sage leaves
80g grated Parmesan
Black pepper.

Wash and dry the sage leaves. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the sage. Cook very gently over a low flame taking care not to let the butter burn. Pour over cooked pasta and stir through well together with freshly grated parmesan. This super-quick sauce is ideal with 'naked ravioli' (ravioli filling without the pasta) but is also suitable with any short pasta. In this case, drain the cooked pasta keeping back a little of the water. Return the pasta to the saucepan, add the sage and butter and stir over a low heat for a minute.

Remove from the heat and stir in a good helping of grated Parmesan.

The sauce should look smooth and creamy; if it has dried out too much, add a few drops of milk or fresh cream. Grind a little black pepper over when serving.

3. Penne l’Arrabiata
Wine paired was A-Mano Primitivo (Puglia) $16.73

1 onion, finely chopped
Olive oil
1 cup good black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
2 cups tomato puree
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs hot pepper flakes
1 tbs oregano
1 tbs dried basil
½ - 1 cup red wine
Salt, to taste
½ tbs brown sugar
½ cup chevre
Cooked pasta

Sauté onion until translucent. Add olives and cook for a couple of minutes. Add tomato, garlic and chillies. Add red wine to desired thickness of sauce. Stir in salt and brown sugar. Mix with pasta and drop in bits of chevré.


4. Rabbit with Squash

Local and naturally raised rabbits can be purchased in the Winnipeg area from Geri at 485 2278 or 482 8508.
Rabbit is also available from local natural sources from DeLuca's on Portage Ave. in Winnipeg.
How to cut a Rabbit?

This sweet and savory dish was paired with Damilano Dolcetto D’Alba $26.99

This is an old recipe -- the combination of sweet and savoury is relatively rare in modern Italian cooking -- but will be very nice in the winter months, especially if it is cold out. Although the recipe calls for rabbit, but you could use -- if you had to -- chicken.
Prep Time: 0 hour, 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
• 1 rabbit skinned and chopped into pieces
• 3/4 pound (350 g) squash pulp (a squash along the lines of zucca gialla, or butternut squash)
• 1/2 cup almonds
• 1/2 cup raisins
• 1 quart (1 liter) dry red wine
• A sprig of rosemary
• 2 bay leaves, crumbled
• A sprig of sage
• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
• 2 cloves
• A bunch of parsley
• 3/4 cup (180 ml) dry white wine
• 2/3 cup (120 g) unsalted butter
• A pinch each sugar and powdered cinnamon
• Salt and pepper to taste
Wash and pat the rabbit pieces dry and return them to the bowl. Pour the red wine over the rabbit, and add the bay leaves, the garlic, the sage, the rosemary, the cloves, a few peppercorns, and a few leaves of parsley. Cover the bowl and let it stand in the refrigerator over night.

The next day, when you're ready to cook the rabbit, which will be much more tender thanks to the marinade, plump the raisins in the white wine for 20 minutes, and drain them well. Coarsely chop the almonds, and put them in a bowl with a pinch each of sugar and cinnamon, a goodly dash of pepper, and the drained raisins.

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or earthenware pot, and brown the rabbit, turning the pieces so they color on all sides. Meanwhile, filter the marinade. Once the meat has browned, sprinkle it with a ladle of marinade. Cook until about half the liquid has evaporated, then stir in the almond mixture, cover, and simmer for an hour.

Dice the squash, stir the pieces into the rabbit, and continue cooking for 20 minutes more. This dish is very good over polenta.

5. Sicilian Cannoli

The dessert was paired with Beviamo Moscati D’Asti $19.62 and Frangelico $23.67

1 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of butter, melted
3/4 cup Marsala wine
egg white
2 quarts vegetable oil for frying

1 15oz container of Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips
confectioners sugar for dusting

1. In a mixing bowl combine flour, sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and Marsala wine. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until well mixed.

2. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

3. Roll out the dough until very thin. Using a cookie cutter or the rim of a glass, cut dough into 4-inch rounds, and roll again until very thin.

4. Roll each piece tightly around a cannoli tube. Seal with egg white.

5. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep 3.5 quart pot to 350 degrees.

6. Place the dough forms in the hot oil and fry until golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Place on paper towels to drain. Cool and gently twist tube to remove shell from form.

7. In a large mixing bowl whip sugar, vanilla and ricotta together until smooth, then stir in the chocolate chips.

8. Spoon filling into a pastry bag with a large round tip. Pipe the ricotta cream into the pastry shells, dust with confectioners sugar and serve immediately.

Options: Lemon filling, mocha filling, etc.

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