Monday, March 14, 2011

Burrata con Pane

This is a great antipasto or appetizer that would be a hit at any party. It is a lot simpler than it looks so don't feel intimidated by the making of cheese aspect. This is a very special cheese that is originally from Puglia(the heel of Italy). It has incredible texture and a delicious fresh lactic taste to it that can only be described as sublime. As with many of my recipes, they are all about the ingredients. That means choose wisely and don't settle for mediocrity.

Recipe Makes 9 Burrata Cheese Balls

1 loaf Lg. Peasant Bread (I use homemade, but you can always look for a nice airy crusty bread from your local bakery)
2# Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
1 cup Heavy Cream, best quality
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, best quality For Serving
Fleur de Sel or Maldon Sea Salt, For Serving
Fresh coarse cracked black pepper, For Serving

Divide the Mozzarella into 10oz and 22oz
Grate the 10oz with coarse grater into bowl
Pour the heavy cream in the bowl with the grated mozzarella
Season with a pinch of salt
Meanwhile Bring 2 qts of water and 1/2 cup salt to 170-180F
Drop the other mozzarella into the hot water
Lower the heat or just turn off
Let the mozzarella soften
use a large spoon or slotted spoon to help you remove some of the mozzarella from the hot water
The mozzarella should be pliable and strecthy
You want about a 2-3" size piece of mozzarella to work with
knead and stretch mozzarella until very elastic
add mozzarella back to water as needed to help it soften
stretch the piece of mozzarella a little wider than the size of your hand.
The mozzarella in the center should be about 1/16-1/8 inch thickness(almost able to see through)
Spoon about 3-4T of the grated mozzarella and cream mixture into the center
Enclose and twist the top part off enclosing the stuffing
transfer burrata to ice water
return remaining mozzarella to the hot water and repeat with the rest until all of the stuffing is gone.
You should be able to have 9 burrata balls with about a 1.5-2" ball if fresh mozzarella remaining at the end.
Each ball should weigh around 3.5-4oz
Remove each ball from ice water and let drain slightly
Transfer to air tight container. Cheese should hold for up to a week yet is best consumed day of.
Before serving pull cheese out of refrigerator for 30-45 minutes and allow to temper.
Slice the bread into 1/2" thick slices and toast gently
Place bread and cheese on a platter and drizzle with the olive oil
I put the coarse sea salt and pepper on the side with a little more olive oil so people can garnish their cheese and bread with as much or as little (salt, pepper, olive oil) as they like.
Serve Immediately

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Insalata di Parma

This is a great salad for this time of year. It is very light & elegant, as well as celebrates some of the local/seasonal delicacies of Emilia. It is a wonderful starter to any dinner. This salad is all based on good ingredients so try to refrain from using imitations.

Serves 4

1 Head Radicchio, leaves pulled off and cut in half or 1/4 to resemble little boats
1 Head Belgian Endive, leaves pulled off to resemble little boats
4 slices of Prosciutto di Parma, very thin
1/4-1/2 Pomegranate, seeded
Pamigiano Reggiano Cheese, shaved with vegetable peeler
25yr Balsamic Vinegar or best quality available
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Coarse Cracked Black Pepper
Sea Salt

Lay a slice of prosciutto on each plate
Scatter the endive & radicchio on top
Sprinkle some of the pomegranate seeds on each plate
Sprinkle just a pinch of the salt on the greens
Sprinkle the plate with the cracked pepper
Scatter the Parmigiano Reggiano on each plate(5-7 pieces per plate)
Drizzle each plate with some of the balsamic vinegar and the olive oil
Serve Immediatley