Amore Al Dente
Kylie Flavell, considered “the next big thing” by Globe and Mail TV critic John Doyle, whips up the perfect mixture of comedy, nostalgia and mouthwatering Italian dishes in this TLN original series. Amore Al Dente: Classic Italian Food Stories, is a unique black and white “silent film” style vignette series blending a classic love story with passion for Italian food.
LOVE AT FIRST BITE
PASSION IN THE PARK
RING IN THE RAVIOLI
TYING THE KNOT OVER TORTA
Episode 1. Love At First Bite
Orange, Chocolate and Almond Cantucci
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. In a large bowl cream 250g softened butter with 1 cup brown sugar. Add 3 lightly beaten eggs, 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, finely chopped zest and juice of 1 orange, 1 cup coarsely chopped chocolate, 1 cup chopped almonds. Mix 1 teaspoon baking powder with 2 cups plain flour and sift into mixture. Mix until combined.
Divide the mixture and layer on a greaseproof paper lined baking tray in logs the width of your hand. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until firm but not golden. Remove from oven and slice along each log the width of two fingers. Turn each biscuit on its side to crisp the middle and return the tray to oven for no more than 10 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack if you like your cantucci particularly crisp.
Episode 2. Passion in the Park
Rustic Open Panino
Thickly slice a robust loaf of ciabatta. Drizzle with olive oil and rub half a garlic clove over the bread to flavour. Halve a tomato and rub bread, squeezing out the juice. Roughly chop slices of salami. Top with sea salt and oregano.
Episode 3. Bacio and the Bolognese
Ragu’ alla Bolognese
In one pan brown off 100g pancetta and 500g minced beef. In another pan cook 1 diced onion, 3/4 cup diced celery, 3/4 cup diced carrots in a splash of olive oil until soft and transparent. Add 2 finely chopped garlic cloves and cook only for a minute so as not to brown. Add vegetables to the meat and pour over 3 cups of tomato passata or crushed tinned tomatoes, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, a pinch of oregano, 1/4 cup red wine, a generous pinch of sea salt, 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 bay leaves. Cook on a high heat to for 5 minutes before reducing to a simmer for 15 minutes or until thickened. If it is drying out add more tinned tomatoes or even a little vegetable stock. Serve with tagliatelle pasta.
Episode 4. Pre-Nuptial Nibbles
Crostini with White Bean, Olive and Thyme Tapenade
Dissolve 7g dry yeast in 400ml warm water with 1/2 teaspoon of crushed vitamin C, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 3 teaspoons brown sugar. Make a well in 300g of wholemeal bread flour and 150g white bread flour in a large bowl and pour in water. Mix together with your hands until combined, knead briefly and then cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm spot to rise for at least an hour or until the dough has doubled in size. Punch down dough and knead on a lightly floured surface with your hands lubricated with olive oil to work the oil through the bread only until elastic and smooth. I also work in a good pinch of salt at this stage because adding it at the beginning can deactivate the yeast. Form a round shape on a baking tray and place in a very hot preheated oven at 250degrees.
For an extra crisp crust you can spray a large oven-proof bowl with water and cover the loaf that way the steam will create an outer layer that is crunchy and golden. After about 15-20 minutes remove the bowl and turn the temperature down to 200degrees and cook for a further 20 minutes. The loaf should be cooked when it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. You can spray the outside with extra water (or even the walls of your oven) to create steam and further crisp the crust. Even though it’s tempting, do not cut into the bread straight away – leave to rest for at least 15-20 minutes.
In a bowl or large mortar, combine one 450g can of white cannellini beans, a generous pinch of sea salt, a grind of black pepper, a tablespoon of dried thyme, 1/2 cup of chopped black olives (not the Spanish kind that are tough and lacking in moisture) and a splash of olive oil by grind with a pestle. You want to leave the mixture quite coarse for texture so there’s no need to grind to a paste. Add more olive oil to amalgamate the ingredients if necessary. Taste to adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Toast slices of the bread by heating a pan with a little olive and rubbing each slice with a garlic clove before frying on each side. Spread the tapenade on thickly and drizzle with a little extra olive oil.
Episode 5. Ring in the Ravioli
Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli
Mix 200g of pasta flour with 2 eggs until it forms a ball. Knead and cover with cling film to rest in the fridge for an hour.
Remove stalks from a large bunch of silverbeet or spinach. Place leaves in a large pan with just enough water so they don’t stick, cover with a lid and heat on low until leaves completely reduce down. Drain all water and pat spinach dry with paper towel to remove all excess liquid.
In a bowl mix the cooked spinach, 250g ricotta, 1 egg, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 pinch sea salt, 1 pinch of pepper.
Break off half of the pasta dough and cover the remaining dough until needed so it doesn’t dry out. Work quickly rolling dough as thin as possible. If you have any semolina you can use this to ‘flour’ your workspace and rolling pin as it’s lighter. Try to add as little extra flour as possible so your ravioli are light and delicate.
Spoon out teaspoons of the ricotta mixture in a line and brush the perimeter of each ricotta blob with a wet pastry brush to make sure it is still moist enough to stick to the top layer. Then lay a long strip of pasta over the top and press each raviolo individually working from one side to the other so you push out all air bubbles as you go. Cut out your ravioli allowing enough space for a border of pasta around the filling so it doesn’t spill out.
Gently lower your ravioli into a large pot of heavily salted boiling water. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of your pasta but generally 10-15 minutes is enough. The easiest way is to take one out and nibble the edge.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a shallow pan with a handful of sage leaves. Toss the ravioli in the butter for 2 minutes to coat and then serve immediately topped with grated Parmesan.
Episode 6. Tying the Knot Over Torta
Ricotta, Almond and Orange Layer Cake.
In a large bowl mix 250g mascarpone, 500g ricotta, 1 cup icing sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla essence, 1 tablespoon almond essence, zest and juice of one orange.
Pour a quarter of the mixture into a separate bowl for the filling and mix in 1/2 cup chocolate chips (and if desired candied fruit and nuts).
Smother 1 layer of sponge or pan di spagna with the choc chip filling, place a second layer of sponge on top and frost the outside with the mascarpone mixture. Allow it to set in the fridge for at least an hour. Decorate with white chocolate curls of a bar of white chocolate (tempered) and 200g of flaked almonds.
Episode 7. Marriage and the Margherita
Dissolve 7g dry yeast in 400ml warm water and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. In a bowl mix 400g of bread flour with 3 teaspoons of brown sugar. Pour liquid into a well in the flour and work together into a ball of dough with your hands. Knead until smooth and elastic then cover and leave to rest for an hour.
Divide the dough into portions, so that the dough you’re not rolling out remains covered while you work. Roll each pizza as thin as possible with a little flour to keep it from sticking. Add a good tablespoon of finely chopped garlic to 1 cup of tomato passata. Cover each pizza with the sauce and top with torn mozzarella (about 200g in total or according to taste). Drizzle with olive oil.
In order to get a crispy base without a pizza oven make sure your oven is as hot as possible (250degrees) and while you’re rolling out the dough, keep a tray inside heating up. Just when your pizza is ready to remove the tray and sprinkle a little sea salt onto the area where the pizza will go. Carefully place your pizza on top and hear it sizzle as it touch the hot baking tray. Place straight into the oven and cook for 10 minutes or until mozzarella is just melted. Top with fresh basil.
Episode 8. Minestrone and the Mailman
Fry 1 whole sausage of chopped chorizo and 1 diced onion in a drizzle of olive oil. Add 2 sticks of chopped celery, 3 chopped carrots, a small head of chopped broccoli and 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic. Cook on medium heat until almost cooked through. Add 1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock, 1 cup of tomato passata or crushed tinned tomatoes, a good pinch of sea salt, a grind of black pepper, 2 tablespoons of basil pesto, 2 bay leaves and simmer for 10 minutes. Add roughly 250g of pasta (any kind that will scoop up the broth well) and cook on high heat until ‘al dente’ or just with a bit of bite. The pasta will be sitting in liquid so be careful of overcooking until it is too soft and soggy.
Serve immediately with generous shavings of Parmesan cheese and freshly chopped flat leaf parsley.
Episode 9. Calamity and the Carbonara
Fry off 200g of guanciale or pancetta in a little olive oil. Meanwhile put your spaghetti on to boil. In a small bowl mix 100g grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese with 2 egg yolks and one whole egg. Season with salt and pepper. Into the pan of now crispy pancetta add a dash of white wine. Before draining your pasta, take a full ladle of pasta water and add it to the pan. Drain the pasta, turn the heat off the saucepan and pour the pasta in, followed by the egg and cheese mixture. Mix quickly and serve immediately with extra pepper and grated cheese.
Episode 10. Take-Me-Out Tiramisu
Separate 4 eggs and whisk the whites until they form stiff peaks. Mix the yolks with 150g of castor sugar and 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste and then stir in 500g of mascarpone. Fold in the egg whites carefully so as not to lose any of the air whipped into them.
Soak one packet of Savoiardi biscuits in 3 cups of strong espresso at room temperature.
Layer in a large dish or individual glasses alternating between the mascarpone mixture, a sprinkling of cacao and crumbled coffee-soaked biscuits. Top with grated dark chocolate and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
Episode 11. The Night of the Gnocchi
Gnocchi al Pomodoro
Boil 1kg of peeled potatoes in salted water until soft. Mash in a bowl and add sea salt, 2 egg yolks and 100g flour. Mix until it forms a dough and then knead on a floured surface. Roll into long thin logs and then cut evenly so each piece is the same size. Flour a fork and roll each of the gnocchi gently across it leave ridges that will grab the sauce. Cook gnocchi in a pot of salted boiling water for about 10 minutes or until they taste cooked. Heat 1 litre of tomato passata with a little olive oil and a clove of finely chopped garlic. Add a pinch of sugar if the tomatoes are bitter. Season with salt and pepper. Toss the gnocchi in the sauce and top with grated Parmesan cheese.
Episode 12. The Battle of the Butcher’s Wife
Finely chop 2 cloves of garlic. Fry off on medium heat with a little olive oil and a teaspoon of chili. Add 1/4 cup of anchovies and cook on a low heat until they almost dissolve into a liquid. Add 1 litre of tomato passata or crushed tinned tomatoes and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and simmer. Add 1/2 cup of chopped olives, 1/4 cup of capers, a splash of red wine, a tablespoon of sugar, salt and pepper. Leave to thicken while your spaghetti cooks.
Toss the cooked pasta through the sauce and serve with lots of finely chopped flat leaf parsley. Italians wouldn’t have you serve cheese on top of something with fish in it but seeing as the anchovies are such a subtle flavor in the background I think you can be forgiven for topping with a little grated Parmesan.
Episode 13. Risotto Vs the Radio
Fry off 1 diced onion in a little olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter until soft and transparent. Meanwhile bring 1 litre of water to boil and dissolve 2 chicken stock cubes. Add one packet or as many strands of saffron as you can afford to the pot – I like mine rich and golden in colour so I tend to add a lot. Add roughly 350g of arborio rice to your pan and coat in the butter and olive oil, cooking on medium heat until you see that each grain of rice has a little transparent ring around the outside. Add a good splash of dry white wine and cook, stirring, until it has absorbed. Then ladle a small amount of the saffron stock over the rice so that it is just covered and stir over a medium heat until all the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process until the rice has become creamy and soft. If you run out of stock and the rice is still quite hard on the tooth, you can always just ladle hot water until the rice is cooked.
Once the risotto is off the heat, stir through a generous amount of grated Grana Padano cheese and season with salt and pepper. Depending on how buttery you like your risotto, you can add more butter during the cooking of the rice, however, arborio rice is by nature quite creamy so you may not find it necessary.
Episode 14. A Bun in the Oven
Eggplant & Pancetta Pasta al Forno
Chop 1 very large eggplant into even cubes, coat completely with olive oil in a pan and fry on a high heat. When they are almost cooked, add 200g of pancetta cubed and continue frying until all is crispy and golden. Dice a red onion and add the pan, cooking until soft and adding 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic in the last 2 minutes. Add 1 litre of tomato passata or tinned chopped tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and a splash of red wine. Leave on a low heat to thicken and reduce. Meanwhile put about 400g of penne pasta on to boil in a pot of salted water. When the pasta is cooked, drain and mix through the eggplant and pancetta sauce. In oven-proof dish layer the pasta out, top with torn mozzarella and add another layer of both on top. Place in a 180degree oven and for 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and crisped up on top.
Serve with fresh torn basil and grated Parmesan if you like things super cheesy.
Episode 15. Let Her Eat Cake
Torta della Nonna (Lemon and Pine Nut Pie)
Mix 400g of plain flour with 100g of icing sugar and a pinch of salt. Chop 250g of butter into cubes and work the butter into the flour with your fingertips. When it resembles breadcrumbs, add 2 egg yolks and a teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest and mix well. Roll the dough into a ball, cover tightly with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Meanwhile, in a bowl whisk 3 eggs, then add 150ml of cream, the juice and zest of one lemon, a tablespoon of vanilla bean paste, 140g of castor sugar, 80g of plain flour and 1/2 cup of pinenuts.
Take your pastry dough from the fridge, knead it gently for a few minutes and then roll out it out very thin. Grease a 9-inch tart pan and press the pastry into the edges. I don’t par-bake my pastry so you need to make sure it’s very thin so it will cook through. For best results, I also place the tart shell in the fridge to firm up the butter before filling it with the lemon and pinenut cream. Once you pour the filling into the tart shell, layer the remaining pastry over the top and pinch the edges of the pastry lid to join them with the pastry case. Top with extra pinenuts and cook at 180degrees for about 45 minutes. You may need to cover the top with alfoil in the last 20 minutes to protect the top from burning.
When cooled, dust with icing sugar.
Episode 16. Piadina in a Panic
Take a thin flour wrap and layer with torn prosciutto, mozzarella, fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Top with another flour wrap. Heat a fry pan with a little olive oil and cook the piadina on both sides until golden brown and oozing with melted cheese.
Episode 17. Bringing Home Bambini
Coarsely chop 3 large tomatoes, half a red onion, 1/2 a cup of olives and 2 balls of mozzarella. Add a can of tuna, a pinch of oregano, sea salt, a dash of red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Chop half a loaf of stale ciabatta into cubes and fry in a pan with olive oil and a clove of garlic to flavour and discard later. When toasted add to the salad bowl with some fresh basil leaves and toss everything together.
Episode 18. Mamma and the Meatballs
In a pan fry off 1 diced onion in olive oil until soft. Take 1/3 of the onion out for the polpette and leave the rest for the sauce in the pan. Add 1 litre of tomato passata or tinned crushed tomatoes, a tablespoon of tomato paste, a tablespoon of sugar, a splash of red wine, a pinch of salt and pepper to the pan and simmer on a low heat.
In a bowl mix the onion you set aside with 300g of minced beef, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, 1 cup of breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup of chopped parsley or basil, 2 eggs beaten, a teaspoon of sea salt and a teaspoon of oregano. Roll into balls and place in the pan of tomato sauce to cook for about 30 minutes or until cooked through.
Serve in a bowl topped with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. You could serve these with a side of polenta but they are served in Rome just plain and simple – no pasta, just succulent meat balls in a rich tomato sauce.
Episode 19. Linguine and the Landlord
Linguine alla Genovese (Pasta with beans, potatoes and pesto)
Peel and chop 3 small potatoes into cubes. Put them on to boil in a big bot of water that can accommodate the pasta later on.
While they’re cooking, in a mortar grind a pinch of sea salt, 1/2 a cup of fresh basil, 1 garlic clove diced, a splash of olive oil, 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan and 1/4 cup of pinenuts with a pestle until amalgamated but still slightly textured.
Chop about 120g of green beans in half and add them to the pot of boiling potatoes, along with 500g of linguine. When the pasta is cooked, drain the potatoes, beans and pasta and throw everything back into the hot pot with the heat off and add the pesto. Mix thoroughly and don’t worry if some of the potato breaks up – that’s how it’s supposed to be. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and extra Parmesan cheese.
Episode 20. Suppli and a Surprise
Suppli (Mozzarella-Filled Risotto Balls)
Finely dice 1 onion and fry until soft in a pan with olive oil and a tablespoon of butter. Add 400g of arborio rice, coating in the oil and cooking until the outside of each grain becomes transparent. In another pot heat 600ml of vegetable stock and gradually ladle it into the rice, stirring constantly until all the stock is absorbed. Once the stock is finished, pour 500ml of tomato passata into the pot to warm and gradually ladle again into the pan of rice until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper a lay the risotto out in a large pan to cool.
When the rice is room temperature, mix in 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan, a handful of chopped basil and 2 beaten eggs. Roll balls in your hands and push a cube of mozzarella into the centre of each ball, squeezing the rice compact and tight around the cheese so it doesn’t escape when cooking.
Beat about 3 eggs in a bowl and dip each ball in this egg mixture before rolling it a bowl of 2 cups of fine breadcrumbs. You can shallow fry these balls in a hot pan with a little olive oil, which requires careful turning to do all sides or deep fry them for a minute or two, which is the easiest, if you have the means. Whichever way you choose, be sure to serve them immediately for perfect oozing mozzarella results.