Pienza - Val d'Orcia - Siena - Tuscany

Isa's "Ossobuco alla Milanese" (Milanese veal shank)

imageHmmmm, my mouth starts to water just to think of it!

Ossobuco is a Milanese dish and I have always been really good with this dish. The name means "bone with a hole" or "hollowed bone". This refers to the veal shank bone with a large and tasty marrow filling. At the end, this dish is garnished with a "cremolata", consisting of a mixture of fresh parsley, garlic, anchovies and grated lemon peel.

Ossobuco's traditional partner is Risotto alla Milanese (see recipe above). A truly superb dish.

Ingredients (for 4 people):
For the meat:
4 veal shanks, 250-300 g (8-10 oz) each
1 small carrot
1 celery stalk
1 small onion
All-purpose flour, for dredging
50 g (2 oz) butter
50 g (4 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of meat broth (see recipe above)
¾ cup dry white wine (nonsparkling)
5 cm (1 tablespoon)tomato paste (concentrate)
Salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste

For the cremolata:
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
Chopped anchovies (if you like them)

Preparation:
First, score the tough membrane that encircles the meat at least in 4–5 different places, to prevent the edge from rolling up and preventing it from remaining flat while cooking. Then dredge the veal shanks in the flour.

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large skillet (best to use a copper or aluminium one) over medium to medium–high heat. Finely dice the onion, carrot and celery, add it in the pan and saute until golden. Take the vegetables out of the pan and add the veal, and brown on all sides. Season with salt and pepper, pour in the wine and let it evaporate. Dilute the tomato paste into the warm broth and add it to the meat together with the cooked vegetables.

Cover, and simmer over low heat for 1½ hours, basting the veal every 15 minutes or so. If necessary, add a little bit of broth while cooking.

While the ossobuco is braising, prepare the "cremolata": In a small bowl, mix together the minced parsley, the garlic, the lemon zest, and the anchovies. Mix into the veal just before finishing the cooking.

Tip:
Definitely serve with risotto (I highly recommend Risotto alla Milanese!), but it is also excellent with polenta or peas and white rice!


Lina's "Frittatina with Fresh Herbs" (my husband's old grandma)

imageThis dish was a very typical (and cheap!) second dish within the family, as they had everything available: eggs from the chicken coop, onions and herbs from the garden, ricotta cheese made from the milk of their sheep... and extra virgin oil of course, the king of all the ingredients! Frittata is healthy, tasty and easy-to-make! Try it! Nowadays frittata is very often eaten together with cold cuts and meats (prosciutto, salame, etc.)

Ingredients (for 4 people):
6 whole eggs
1 large white or golden onion (or 2 medium sized ones)
150 g (5 oz) sheep or cow ricotta cheese
1–2 zucchinis
A bunch of chives
Salt
Extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:
Cut the zucchini and the onions into thin slices and put them in a large frying pan together with abundant olive oil and cook over medium heat. Use a fork to check when they are soft and well cooked (about 15 minutes), then increase the heat for a few minutes until they are golden.

Beat the eggs and add salt to them. As a last step, add ricotta cheese to the egg mix and stir well, until cheese is well mixed. Pour the mix in the pan on top of the zucchini-onion-oil , spread all over thinly chopped chive and set at the lowest flame, cover with a lid, and cook for about 10 minutes.

The frittata will slowly magically "rise" in the pan becoming incredibly soft . It will be ready when you will see a solid consistency all over.

if you like a spicy taste, you can add a tiny little bit of peperoncino powder (chili pepper) in the egg mix!

Tip:
The magic thing about frittata is that you can add (almost) anything that you want: if you have cheese, broccoli, pasta left over from dinner the night before, cut it into bite size pieces and include it! Vegetables are always welcome for flavour, color, and crunch. Textures should vary within the frittata. Herbs can be added, whether fresh or dried. Different cheeses will also effect the flavors of your frittata. Spinach, walnuts, and Gorgonzola create a sophisticated frittata. Have fun! Experiment! (That's not a Tuscan tip... Tuscan people are very traditional in their way of cooking!)

Frittatas are perfect served with a fresh salad (cherry tomatoes, rucola, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar) and a glass of chilled white wine.

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