Thursday, January 18, 2018

Rosolio or Vermouth's nonno

Ph. by Monica Bessone
It is no secret that the Savoy kings loved Rosolio so much they had made it the official royal liqueur up to 1786 when King Victor Amadeus III loved vermouth better and officially changed the royal production. 
Rosolio in all its variants is one of those products that have always unified Italy even before the unification in 1861. Despite the many versions of this distilled elixir through the boot, only Piedmont Rosolio was recognized by the Italian government as an official traditional local product.

This liqueur was born during the Renaissance and became more common once refined sugar became readily available.  It followed Catherine De' Medici to France while in Italy, it was made mainly in convents where the nuns knew how to extract the herb, flower and fruit essences to make liquors. Later, it was also made in private homes, where rose petals were macerated in a 50% alcohol and 50% sugar solution. Rosolio has always been a good base to make other liquors too.

The first Rosolio di Torino recipe was published in French in 1733. Around 1750s the Cinzano brothers start the first largest production of Rosolio and in the 19th century, Mr Carpano starts labelling his bitter rosolio Vermouth.

Its name seems to derive from the Latin 'ros solis' or sun dew and it literally means 'rose oil'; in fact, Rosolio has an intense yet delicate aroma, yet a stickiness similar to the oil one, making it ideal to close a rich meal such as the traditional Italian ones.

With the passing of the time, Rosolio became THE ladies' liqueur par excellence for its elegance, smoothness and moderate alcohol content (between 25% and 35%) and it was officially offered to all family gatherings up to being considered a good luck harbinger when drunk by newlyweds.

Besides its classic version made with rose petals, today there are many variants, some obtained by the maceration of herbs or fruit. The traditional Piedmontese Rosolio recognized by the Italian government as traditional local product is made with the essence of a mix of alpine herbs and fruits like for example: angelica, anise, orange, cocoa, citron, almonds, rose and vanilla. Because of all these spices, herbs and maceration process, we can consider it like Vermouth's grandpa 😊

Rosolio di Torino  made with rose petals

While planning your travel to Turin where you will try our local original Rosolio, you can follow this recipe and make it at home.

Rosolio recipe 

  • 30gr - 1 oz rose petals
  • 500gr - 2.5 Cups granulated sugar
  • 1L - 1 quart of water
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1L - 1 quart of 90° alcohol 

Pick the rose petals, clean and dry them with care. Put them in the alcohol together with the vanilla pod.  Let them macerate for 10 days at least, in the dark, shaking the bottle every once in a while.
As the 10 days come to an end, prepare the sugar syrup by simmering the sugar in the water. 
Let it cool off.
Filter the petals with a strainer and add the solution to the sugar syrup in a large glass jar that you can seal.

Let rest this elixir for some 15-20 days more before filtering it with a strainer covered with a cheesecloth. Bottle the liqueur and let it rest a couple days before serving it as a good luck drink at the end of a meal with your dearest friends and family member πŸ˜‰

Tears of Love by Pastiglie Leone THE Turin's candies made with Rosolio

With Rosolio you can also make candies like those Princess Sisi - Empress Elisabeth of Austria used to share with her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph I πŸ˜‹

... or you can just buy the Pastiglie Leone ones when you come over to Turin 😎
If you join us for an epicurean week-end you won't miss out on them for sure πŸ™†


Thursday, January 11, 2018

OUR lentil loaf

Happy 2018 dear all, our first post of the year was requested by our friend Jan Egan aka The Watchful Cook.
On NYE we made a delicious lentil loaf and after researching for the best recipe, we decided to give it a Piedmont twist by including some Jerusalem artichokes.

Regular Italian artichokes have always been an all time favorite of ours but it is only since a few months we started cooking and eating Jerusalem artichokes too.
Usually Jerusalem artichokes are part of bagna caoda THE Piedmont and family/friends dish, however, they can be cooked in virtually any way and can be eaten raw too.

Apparently their English name derives from the anglicized version of the Italian girasole or sunflower because the Italian immigrants in the US found the plant very similar to the sunflower one.
As for the artichoke part, it is due to their similarity with the regular artichokes, but they really have nothing else in common because "J art" are a tuber like potatoes.

In Italian we call them topinanbour and they come in 2 species, regular and white - the better and more delicate quality.
In the winter particularly, they are a super food as they are packed with potassium, iron, fibers and niacin, consequently they help you purifying your system, are  great option to bananas, give you strength and energy. Moreover, they reduce your cholesterol and regulate your blood pressure. πŸ‘Œ

As their flavor is mild and they can be cooked and roasted, slowly but steadily we are including them in many of our cold weather/comfort food dishes paired with rice, legumes and other vegetables to keep them in good company πŸ˜‰

So on NYE, we included them  in our lentil loaf, our personal tribute to pigs - that we have adored since "Babe, gallant pig" and "Okdja" and feel deeply guilty every time we have prosciutto 😒
As you might know, traditionally Italians have cotechino and lenticchie on New Year's Eve or Day or both. Cotechino becuse the pig is a symbol of wealth and lentils to symbolize the coins we are going to make/spend/eat in the new year.
Since lentils are very versatile and rich in proteins we decided to honor the pigs and make a  vegetarian loaf!

This the recipe we used, we made it in the bundt cake mold, but if you have a loaf mold, you should use that one. You can also just make lentil burgers and keep all the veggies we used as a side πŸ˜‹
... just be warned that the ketchup maple syrup balsamic glaze is addictive so make extra!

C is for Cup
T is for Tablespoon

  • 1 C of dry lentils 
  • 2 C of Jerusalem artichokes
  • 3 C of cut and cleaned mushrooms
  • 1/2  C of quartered artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 C of walnuts
  • 1/2 C of grounded oats or breadcrumbs or mixed seeds
  • 2 large American eggs or 3 smaller European eggs
  • 1.5 C of grated cheeses (we used Parmigiano Reggiano but any hard cheese will work too)
  • 1T of finely chopped fresh ginger or 2T of garlic
  • 1T of Dijon mustard
  • 1T of soy sauce
  • 1T Worcester sauce 
  • 1T of EVOO
  • 1/4 T of salt
  • black pepper as you like
  • a generous sprinkle of all the dry herbs and spices you like the most, we used: nutmeg, curry, paprika, oregano, rosemary, turmeric and Magda Abu Fadil's Lebanese thyme 😍

For the glaze:
6T of ketch-up
2T of balsamic vinegar
2T maple syrup gifted to us by our dear friend Isabella Ariotti

save yourselves any regrets like us and make extra because it is sooo good and what you won't use to glaze your loaf you will have with your loaf slices 😎 

or get some bbq sauce

Oven 375F -190C for 25/30min 
then brush on top the glaze and bake for 10 more minutes

Topinanbour or J art

While boiling the lentils for 30minutes, slightly sautΓ© the mushrooms, and prep the J art (you have to peel them and chop them in 1/2 inch - 1cm cubes.

When the lentils are ready, get them in your mixer, our recipe said to grind them to 3/4 to allow 1/4 to remain whole but looking back.... next time we will also add the eggs and the liquids and blend everything evenly as if we were to make lentil burgers.

Move the mixed lentils to a large bowel and add all the ingredients.
Mix everything well before lining your loaf mold with parchment paper or grease with EVOO or Pam.

Fill up your mold, press the loaf and bake it.

Prep the glaze or simply get ready to spread some bbq sauce on top of your lentil loaf and finish baking.

When ready, let cool down before unmolding and serving πŸ™Œ

You will notice that this lentil loaf has a nice crunchy texture given by the J art and a fleshy one provided by the artichoke hearts.

By all means use the vegetables, the herbs and the spices you prefer: following the seasons, this recipe changes every time!

As our dear friend Ale Gambini aka A Queen In The Kitchen shows us Northern Italian cuisine is mild, we don't use huge amounts of onion and garlic, nor we overdo it with our EVOO.

As lentil burgers are easier to portion, next time we'll make them and have J art and artichoke chips on the side.

What did we pair this NYE tribute to pig lentil loaf?
Asti Spumante of course πŸ’ƒ

Naturally we recommend some:
- red wines like our local RuchΓ©, Lessona and Gattinara
- white wines like our Piedmont Cortese di Gavi, Timorasso and Erbaluce di Caluso
- bubbly wines like Asti or Alta Langa rosΓ©

For those of you who like us love the savory-sweet contrast, Moscato and Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco exclusively by Cascina Gilli are ALWAYS a great option πŸ™†   

Special thanks to our friend Lisa Watson aka Italian Kiwi who we consult with every time we have a culinary urge πŸ™‡ and wonder about the feasibility of our concoctions, doses and need suggestions about extra ingredients or simply encouragement.

This lentil loaf with J art was rather simple and quick to make, packed with proteins and nutrients, it makes a great vegetarian option and it can easily become vegan subbing the eggs with a certified vegan equivalent and using a vegan Worcester sauce. 

Our lentil loaf can last up to 3 days or you can portion it and freeze it and have it whenever you feel like it.

This is our vida royal, come join us for an epicurean week-end 😎

Friday, December 15, 2017

rice and cornmeal cookies

Whether you are busy Christmas baking or you simply enjoy making, eating and giving cookies, today we are sharing a recipe that very simply sums up Piedmont.

Piedmont is the top European rice producer, risotto is one of our staple foods so 50% of this cookies is made with rice flour. Piedmont is also famous for polenta or cornmeal which makes up to the other 50% of the ingredients. Yes, these are simply delish a gluten free cookies that sing out loud: Piedmont!

Rice paddies in the Vercelli area in April when they are flooded

Friday, December 8, 2017

Ratafia' - cherry wine liqueur

Among the many souvenirs you can buy when in Turin and Piedmont, and especially among the MANY local specialties you should try here, Ratafia' holds definitely a special place.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Epicurean week-ends

1. Read the list and count how many you know and like:

espresso, all Martini & Rossi beverages, Italian fashion, Juventus, Italian cars, Cinzano, Fiat 500, gelato on a stick (like Magnum), chocolate, Lavazza coffee, vermouth, lady fingers (cookies), lady's kisses (cookies), alpini, aperitif, Italian design, RAI tv, Cirio pasta sauce, Robe di Kappa, grissini breadsticks, risotto, arcades or porticoes, the Shroud of Turin, Salone del Gusto - Terra Madre (Slow Food), IED, panna cotta, polenta, tramways, agnolotti, tajarin, Mole Antonelliana, Italian cinema, Italian sport, Egyptology, Sandokan, brutti ma buoni (cookies)

2. If you marked at least 10 you MUST come over to Turin, home of all the things listed above πŸ™Œ

Foodies, wine lovers and lovers of all things Italian: you'll easily get hooked on Turin and will crave for more 😎

Friday, November 24, 2017

Piemonte flavored gelato in the UK

If you love gelato as much as we do, you will love this post by Laura Hadland about Gelato Village, in Leicester, UK. This is the gelateria founded by our Twitter and Instagram friends Antonio and Daniele, both from Turin πŸ™Œ

Gelato Village: Bringing a flavour of Piemonte to the UK

When Gelato Village first opened its doors in August 2014, its Italian owners, Antonio De Vecchi and Daniele Taverna, had no idea if the people of Leicester, England would have an appetite for authentic Italian gelato. The two natives of Turin had come to the UK over 10 years earlier, working in the medical and IT industries. It was their love of high quality food, inspired by their Piemontese upbringing which encouraged them to throw in the towel on their old careers and turn their passion into a business.