Sunday, July 3, 2016

Cheese & Football Feast day 19: Italy

The third quarter final of the Euro 2016 football championship saw Germany beat Italy by the narrowest of margins. Decided on penalties but with both sides making mistakes the outcome was far from clear as player after player gave the other team a chance. But Germany are through and Italy now go home.  I will miss watching the Italian keeper Buffon who must be such a great role model in a sport that is much criticised for its prima donnas.
The cheese feast was Italian  ricotta and spinach cannelloni, with a German Beck's beer. Provided you start with frozen spinach and have a large disposable piping bag to fill the the pasta tubes this is a very simple dish that can be prepared a day ahead, or even frozen. For the recipe follow next link to Jamie Oliver's site. I like to add a little mild chilli to the tomato sauce and will often just make this sauce with reduced down passata and a little olive oil and chopped garlic. If you don't have mozzarella for the topping a mild cheddar melting cheese will work. Ricotta has a distinctive flavour which although mild I think is not readily substituted with other soft cheese, so I would definitely use ricotta. If you have a good Italian deli near you they may buy in whole fresh ricotta cheeses that they sell by weight. I first saw these when I was a student in Bristol and a frequent shopper at the Licata deli in Picton Street. That was over 30 years ago but I still remember how helpful the staff were when I asked about produce I had never seen before like coppa and persimmons. It was never any trouble to them to slice small amounts or weigh out tiny portions for me.

For the last of the quarter finals France play Iceland and I am cooking Tartiflette; potatoes, smoked bacon and reblochon cheese all baked together. Perhaps more a winter dish but our weather is not too hot for baking in the oven just yet.

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