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Biba's Northern Italian Cooking Part 24

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Prepare Fruit Salad: Combine fresh fruit, candied fruit, rum and sugar in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use or up to several hours ahead.

Prepare Hot Zabaglione, using rum. Remove from heat and set pan or bowl containing mixture over a bowl full of ice water. Stir with a whisk until mixture is warm.Whip cream and fold it into warm mixture. Zabaglione can be prepared several hours ahead and set over a bowl of ice water until needed.

Arrange slices of pound cake in a large gla.s.s bowl. Sprinkle a little rum over each slice. Cover cake with a layer of Fruit Salad. Cover Fruit Salad with a generous amount of Zabaglione.

Continue layers until bowl is filled. Refrigerate overnight. Before serving, decorate with fresh strawberries and/or grated chocolate. Serve chilled.

MARIA ANGELA'S MERINGUE CAKE Dolce di Maria Angela This is a family favorite from my good friend Maria Angela di Ma.s.sa.

MAKES 6 TO 8 SERVINGS MAKES 6 TO 8 SERVINGS Meringues Meringues 4 egg whites, at room temperature 4 egg whites, at room temperature 1 cup sugar 1 cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar Coffee Zabaglione 5 egg yolks 5 egg yolks 1 cup sugar 1 cup sugar cup espresso coffee or strong regular coffee, at room temperature cup espresso coffee or strong regular coffee, at room temperature 1 cup sweet b.u.t.ter, at room temperature Candied violets Candied violets

Prepare Meringues: Preheat oven to 275F (135C). b.u.t.ter and flour 2 cookie sheets. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Beat in 6 tablespoons of the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat in vanilla and vinegar.Add remaining sugar, beating until egg whites are very stiff and shiny. Put egg white mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tube. Pipe mixture in small mounds onto prepared cookie sheets or shape into mounds using 2 spoons. Bake 1 hour. Turn off oven. Leave meringues in oven overnight with door closed. Store meringues in an airtight container. Meringues can be stored several weeks. Makes about 25 meringues.

Prepare Coffee Zabaglione: In a large bowl or the top part of a double boiler, beat egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick. Set bowl or top part of double boiler over simmering water; do not let water boil. Gradually add coffee, beating constantly. Continue beating until Zabaglione has doubled in volume and is soft and fluffy, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and set pan or bowl over a bowl full of ice water. Stir with a whisk until mixture is cool.

Cream b.u.t.ter in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Gradually add cooled Zabaglione to b.u.t.ter, beating vigorously after each addition. Refrigerate 2 to 3 minutes to stiffen slightly.

On a large round platter, arrange about 8 meringues close together in a circle. Put Zabaglione mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tube. Pipe rosettes between meringues. Arrange another layer of meringues over the first, forming a smaller circle. Pipe rosettes of Zabaglione mixture between meringues. Repeat layers using remaining meringues and most of Zabaglione mixture to make a cone-shaped mound. Decorate cake with candied violets and remaining Zabaglione mixture. Refrigerate overnight. Let cake stand 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Seasonal Menus

One problem that confronts someone serving ethnic food for the first time is how to compose the menu. So many of my students ask me the same question:"I am planning a dinner party and I would like to make tortellini with cream sauce.What appetizer should I have and what dessert should I serve?"

The success of a meal depends not only on how well the food is prepared but also on how the menu is put together. In a way it is like listening to a beautiful piece of music. Each note can be played perfectly but the overall beauty of the sound depends on the way the notes are put together. To prepare a beautiful meal you must start by planning a beautiful menu: A menu in which each dish complements the other. One that takes advantage of seasonal ingredients and suits the mood of the time of year.

An Italian meal moves through its many courses in a leisurely and orderly sequence.Wine is always present.The right wine not only complements the meal, but enhances appreciation of it. On a hot summer day we eat differently than in winter. It would be ridiculous to spend time over a hot stove, stirring a bubbling polenta when the temperature outside reaches the sizzling point. On the other hand, cook a polenta on a cold winter day and you bring a warm glow to your family or guests. With this concept in mind, I have put together menus for this chapter. They are divided into spring and summer, and fall and winter.These menus are intended only as guidelines because there are countless possible menu combinations using the recipes in this book.

By changing a pasta dish, by subst.i.tuting meat for fish, by eliminating a course, you can create your own menus. Each combination can fit a particular occasion or season. For example, a pot of bean soup followed by broiled chicken or Chicken Hunter Style, page 122, can become a simple yet excellent meal. Serve it for an informal gathering of friends. Why not cook several frittatas, make a tomato and basil salad and fill a cheese board with a.s.sorted Italian cheeses? Then eat this delightful meal informally outdoors on your patio, by a river or at a beach. Select a stuffed pasta dish and, working around it, build an elegant meal-a meal that will linger in the minds of your guests. And let's not forget the everyday meals for our families. The same care should be taken in preparing the simplest of meals. After all, good food should not be kept in the closet and served only on special occasions. Good food belongs on the everyday table. We must all eat, so why not make the best of it?

Most Italian meals end with an unbeatable combination-cheese and fruit. Creamy Gorgonzola cheese and sweet, ripe pears is a marriage made in heaven. Fresh fruit, when ripe and sweet, can stand on its own as dessert. Of course there are many occasions when a beautiful dessert should end a meal. In formal entertaining, a spectacular dessert is not only advised, but recommended. If you plan a menu with a beautiful first course and end with an impressive dessert, you can be sure your dinner party will be a success.

To end an Italian meal without espresso coffee would be an absurdity. In Italy, espresso is a national inst.i.tution. I remember when my husband first arrived in Bologna to attend medical school, he barely managed one or two cups of this strong coffee a day. By the time he graduated, he was drinking eight to ten cups a day. Today, after 30 years in this country I still start my day with several cups of espresso and end it in the same way. Many of my friends believe espresso is the source of my considerable energy.

The menus start with one really lavish holiday menu from Emilia-Romagna.

It just occurred to me that this is the last chapter of this book.After working on it for more than a year, I know I will miss the daily routine of preparing recipes in my kitchen and then sitting down to write them up. I hope I have achieved what I had in mind. I set out to share with you not only some of the food of northern Italy, but also to give you a little understanding of a very old, warm and beautiful country.

HOLIDAY MENU FROM EMILIA-ROMAGNA.

Prosciutto with melon Green Tagliatelle with Tomato Sauce, page 50 Stuffed Veal Roast, page 155 Stuffed Artichokes, page 185 Baked Tomatoes, page 180 b.u.t.tered carrots Oranges in liqueur Sweet Fried Cream, page 230 Mature Barbaresco or Cabernet Sauvignon

FALL AND WINTER MENUS.

Pan-Roasted Chicken, page 115 Peas with Prosciutto, page 184 Fresh fruit Jam Tart, page 218 Vapolicella or Gamay Beaujolais

Hot Anchovy Dip, page 17 Basic Polenta, page 86, with Rabbit with Wine and Vegetables, page 117 Mixed Salad, page 196 Pears Poached in Red Wine, page 218 Barbera or Cabernet Sauvignon

SPRING AND SUMMER MENUS.

Trenette with Pesto Sauce, page 74 Cold Veal in Tuna Sauce, page 154 Mixed Salad, page 196 Cold Zabaglione, page 229, with fresh strawberries Trebbiano or Fume Blanc Rice and Pea Soup, page 31 Calf's Liver in Onion Sauce, page 145 Asparagus Salad, page 195 Sweet Fried Cream, page 230, with fresh fruit Merlot, Light Mendocino or Zinfandel

Strichetti with Garlic and Tomato Sauce, page 58 Veal Chops Milan Style, page 148 Mushrooms with Marsala Wine and Cream, page 178 Mixed Salad, page 196 Gattinara or Pinot Noir

Risotto with Asparagus Tips, page 100 Tomato Salad, page 192 Trout in Foil, page 104 Fried Fruit, page 226 Gavi dei Gavi or Chardonnay

Prosciutto with figs Spaghetti with Spring Vegetables, page 63 Roast Rack of Lamb, page 130 Zucchini with Vinegar, page 177 Strawberry Mousse, page 220 Tignanello or Cabernet Sauvignon

METRIC CONVERSION CHARTS.

About the Author.

Biba Caggiano is the award-winning author of seven cookbooks, all of which are still in print. Her cookbooks have sold over 600,000 copies. She is the host of the syndicated cooking show is the award-winning author of seven cookbooks, all of which are still in print. Her cookbooks have sold over 600,000 copies. She is the host of the syndicated cooking show Biba's Italian Kitchen Biba's Italian Kitchen on The Learning Channel. The show is seen in several countries, including Canada and Australia. on The Learning Channel. The show is seen in several countries, including Canada and Australia.

She has been the chef/owner of Biba restaurant in Sacramento, California, since 1986.The restaurant has been featured in Gourmet, Bon Appet.i.t Gourmet, Bon Appet.i.t and and Travel & Leisure Travel & Leisure. In 1998, the governor of California and the California Travel Industry selected Biba as the Northern California Chef of the Year.

Originally from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, she now lives in California.

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