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1.28.2012

"Ricci" - typical pasta of Minori, on the Amalfi Coast

Here we are at the end of our series on pasta from the Amalfi Coast.
The first time my husband, then fiancè, took me to meet his relatives in Minori on the Amalfi Coast, his Aunt prepared a most delicious meal. The pasta course was "ricci" with tomato sauce. After some 38 years I have finally mastered the art of making "ricci". The word "ricci" means curls, a most appropriate name for these little pasta ringlets!



Ingredients for about 1lb of ricci

2 cups reground semolina
2 cups semolina
(if you cannot find this type of flour, substitute 3 cups all-purpose flour and 1 cup of raw cream of wheat)
about 2/3 cup very warm water, it should feel quite hot on your wrist
a couple of tablespoons of olive oil
pinche of salt







Mix flour, salt, oil and warm water in a bowl. Add the water gradually. And mix well. We are looking to make a rather stiff dough, much stiffer than bread dough. Knead the dough well. As you can see in the video it is a stiff dough and will take some elbow grease to knead it!


video

Now you are ready to make the ricci. In the videos below, I demonstrate how to make the ricci using very slow movements. Once you get the hang of it, you will find that you can go much more quickly. The ladies in Minori use the metal spokes from an old umbrella to make the ricci. I use a size "0" short double pointed knitting needle. The kind you would use to make socks ...

video

video

You can serve ricci with any pasta sauce. Since this is a very delicate pasta, I prefer a simple tomato sauce made with plum tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and basil.

You can cook the ricci immediately, in this case they only take about 2 minutes to cook. This recipe should give you 4 to 6 portions.

You can also let the ricci air dry, you may want to cover them with a clean dish towel. When dry, they take about 6 minutes to cook.

And there you have it! Have fun experimenting with Scialatielli, 'Ndunderi and Ricci!

Buon appetito!

1.21.2012

'Ndunderi, declared to be one of the most ancient forms of pasta by UNESCO

'Ndunderi is a dumpling like pasta dating back to the ancient Romans which originated in Minori, on the Amalfi Coast. The real 'ndunderi were quite large, about the size of a dumpling. But I prefer this smaller, more delicate version.
In the photo to the left they are seasoned with a simple tomato sauce. But they are delicious with pesto, walnut pesto and even just melted butter with fresh herbs and grated parmigiano cheese.


Ingredients for 4 servings
3/4 cup semola flour +3/4 cup or reground semola flour (if you can't find these flours, you can use 3/4 c. all purpose flour + 3/4 c. cream of wheat)
1/2 lb ricotta
1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk
freshly grated nutmet
2 or 3 tablespoons of grated pecorino or parmigiano
1/2 tsp salt



 Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix. I start with a fork and when it starts to hold together I use my hands.
 Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for 5 minutes. The dough will be fairly stiff.
 Cut of a small piece and roll into a rope about the thickness of your index finger.
Cut into 1" pieces (more or less)


video

Now comes the tricky part. Hold a fork with the tines on the board and the bottom side of the fork towards you. Take each little piece of pasta and using your index finger roll it off the back of the fork, pressing as you roll it so that you form a concave hollow on one side with your finger and ridges on the other side with the tines of the fork.



This is what your 'ndunderi should look like. This is the same method you use to make potato gnocchi.

 Place the 'ndunderi in floured boards or trays so that are not touching.
 To cook: bring a large pot of water to a full rolling boil. Salt the water. Put the 'ndunderi in to the boiling water. Let them cook about 3 to 4 minutes. The will start floating to the surface when they are done. 'Ndunderi have a rather firm texture because of the semola.
Drain in a colander and season with your preferred sauce. If you opt for the melted butter and fresh herbs, a good mix is parsely, basil, marjorum, thyme, chives along with some chopped garlic.


and.. as Julia would have said had she spoke Latin

Iubeo ut bene cenes! 




a special thank you to Antonio for filming the video!

1.15.2012

Scialatielli!!!

Today we begin our series on pasta from the Amalfi Coast and we are starting with the newest of the three types of pasta I will be sharing with you.
Scialatielli - ribbon noodles, thicker and shorter than tagliatelle. The name originates from the Neapolitan dialect for "to tousle", as in someone's hair - "sciglià". In fact, when served up in your plate, scialatielli have a tousled look!

Scialatielli are a relatively new type of pasta, prepared and served for the first time by Chef Enrico Cosentino in the late 1960s. Cosentino was born in Amalfi, where he continues to work as consultant to the world's most important and prestigious hotels and restaurants. This pasta is delicious served with fish and seafood sauces. But scialatielli are also scrumptious when served with a delicate tomato sauce, which I will also be making today.

I will not be rolling and cutting the pasta by hand because I am a real lazybones! I am going to be using one of these:






Ingredients for 2 large servings:
1/2 cup durum wheat flour (if you can't find this then use semolina or raw cream of wheat), 1/2 all purpose flour, 1 egg, about 1 tablespoon of grated pecorino cheese, about 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, about 4 ounces milk, a pinch of salt, a pinch of freshly ground pepper, about 6 large basil leaves, washed, dried and julienned
I use a low bowl to mix in, never could do it right on the board! And it tastes just as good! Combine all dry ingredients + julienned basil, mix well. Form a well in the center of the flour mix and add the egg, oil and half of milk. Mix with a fork, You are looking for a fairly stiff dough. If it is too stiff, add more milk. If it is too wet, add a little all purpose flour. If necessary, use all of the milk. I find that the weather really influences how much flour and liquid the dough takes.

Turn the dough out onto a clean counter top or large wooden board and start to knead it. Try not to add too much flour, but you don't want it to stick to the work surface. 

Knead it for about 5 to 10 minutes.
When you have a smooth dough, flour the ball and cover it with a clean towel, and let it rest for about 15 minutes. 

I learned alot about cooking from my mom, but I also learned an important tip from my dad! Clean up as you go along. So while your dough is resting, wash up the dishes and clean up your counter. Set up your pasta machine if you have one. Otherwise, get out your rolling pin.


Now, uncover your dough, knead it a couple of times. Your dough should look more or less like this. It should be fairly stiff, smooth and should have a uniform grain inside. It will have lovely, fragrant bits of basil distributed throughout.
If you don't have a pasta machine, roll your dough out until it is about 3 mm thick. When rolling out pasta, you always start from the center and roll towards the edges. The idea is to get a big circle of dough. Which you will allow to dry for about 15 minutes before cutting.




Instead, if you are lazy, like me, you will use a pasta machine! Start on the largest thickness. I usually cut my dough into smaller pieces, roll them in flour and the put each piece through on the largest thickness 3 or 4 times. I do this with all of the pieces before moving on to the next thickness. 
On my machine, I went down to the 3rd thickness to get sheets about 3mm thick. You are not looking for as thin a sheet as you would use for tagliatelle! You are looking for a rather thick sheet. 3mm is about 1/8th of an inch.





Ok, now lightly flour your sheets of rolled out pasta and let them dry for about 15 minutes.. which will give you just enough time to make a quick, delicious tomato sauce
In a frying pan, sauté a couple of cloves of peeled garlic in a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Don't let the garlic get too brown or your sauce will have a burnt taste and we want a light, delicate sauce! Add about 2 cups of pureed plum or San Marzano tomatoes, salt and pepper to tast, Add a sprig of fresh basil. When it comes to a boil, lower to a slow simmer and let it cook while you finish up making your scialatielli.
You will also have enough time to make a garden salad to complete your meal along with some hot crusty Italian bread!






By now your pasta is ready to cut. If you are cutting it by hand, flower the circle of pasta and roll it up lightly. Use a very sharp, long bladed knife to cut 1/4" noodles. Use one downward cut to make each noodle, do not use a sawing motion! When you are done cutting the noodles, grab about 5 at a time, shake them loose and cut them into 5 ot 6 inch lengths.
For all you lazybones out there, cut each sheet into 5 to 6 inch lengths and use the widest noodle template to cut your pasta into scialatielli.
video

As you cut your "scialatielli" separate them and spread them out on a floured surface so they don't stick together. 
Put a large pot of water on to boil. When it comes to a boil, salt it and put the pasta in to cook. The scialatielli will take about 3 to 4 minutes to cook.
Now, drain the pasta. Season with the fresh sauce you just made. Serve with grated pecorino or parmigiano cheese 






and.. as Julia Child would have said, had she spoken italian....BUON APPETITO!






special thanks to my son Antonio for help with photos and videos.

1.07.2012

Coming soon: 'ndunderi, a pasta that UNESCO has declared one of the most ancient types of pasta!

http://www.proloco.minori.sa.it
I recently returned from a spending Christmas and New Year's in Minori, on the Amalfi Coast. Although my husband's maternal relatives are from Minori and I have spent many a summer vacation in Minori since 1975, I never realised that this town had a great pasta making tradition.
The presence of the numerous rivers and torrents in the valleys of the Amalfi Coast opened the way to the establishment of pasta mills, in particular in Minori but also in Amalfi, Atrani and Maiori. These pasta mills manned by the so-called "maccaronari" produced the renown and much sought after "pasta from the Coast", the best in all of the Neapolitan kindgom.
The art of making pasta probably started with the Romans, in fact it was probably a Roman shepherd that made the first "pasta" in the form of little dumplings made from a mix of flour and clotted milk, the noble ancestors of today's 'nunderi, a type of pasta still made in many homes in Minori.

In the seventeenth century the "maccaronari" or pasta makers, represented almost 7% of the local working population. In this period  "ngiegni" (in English, contraptions) powered by the physical manpower were used to work the dough and make the pasta. The first types of pasta made in the pasta mills of the Amalfi Coast appeared in the mid 1600s and included  maccaroni, vermicelli and tagliatelle. In the centuries to follow, new types of pasta were made, in particular in Minori, which included 'ndunderi, ricci (curls)  and "cocce" (shells). In this same period, many "maccaronari" from Minori crossed the Lattari mountains and settled in Gragnano where they built up a pasta making industry. Today, Gragnano is still famous for its pasta factories.


Today, Minori has rediscovered its ancient pasta making roots and there are a number of small, family run businesses that make handmade fusilli, ricci, curly lasagne as well as the age old 'ndunderi, recognised by the Italian Ministry of Agricultural Resources as a "pasta to be saved". On an international level, Unesco has declared 'ndunderi to be one of the most ancient forms of pasta.

Today I made 'ndunderi for the first time and believe me, they were super easy to make!

Minori is also known for another type of pasta called "ricci" or "curls" in English.  While visiting my husband's aunt in Minori, she taught me how to make "ricci". These delicate pasta ringlets are delicious with a light tomato sauce. They are made simply of semola wheat flour and water. The pasta is rolled into a thin rope, cut into pieces from 2 to 6 inches long and then "curled" using a very fine iron rod, traditionally the spokes from an old broken umbrella!

Another pasta typical of the Amalfi Coast are "scialaitelli", made with a blend of semola wheat flour and flour, eggs, milk and basil. They are rolled out and cut like tagliatelle, but are left a bit thicker that normal tagliatelle.
Scialatielli are often served with a seafood sauce or with a tomato and eggplant sauce.

In the upcoming weeks, I am going to prepare these three types of pasta for you complete with detailed recipes so you can make them at home. There is nothing like serving homemade pasta to your family or guests if you want the compliments to flow!