Italy and Food

Italy and food — it’s a thing. I am still reminiscing, having been home for so long during the pandemic. Long ago we travelled with good friends met on a honeymoon trip to Asia. We were flying to Burma from Nepal. My husband Dennis insisted we get to the airport three hours early. As a result, we got there just in time for the flight because the departure time was given in the time zone for Burma which isn’t where we were. So I guess the potential passengers all missed the flight. No one was on the plane other than the two of us and two Italians, Rino and Giuliana whom we travelled with afterwards, and they have been great friends ever since. Over the years Giuliana has given me unfailingly the best versions of Italian recipes including this Tiramisu, and Rino gave me my favorite Carbonara recipe which I have tweaked to suit ingredients we find easily in the US. Almost everyone loves both. It’s probably best not to have Carbonara and Tiramisu in the same meal, but both depend on the quality and quantity of ingredients. Make them and travel vicariously.

Beginnings
Sautéed onion, red pepper and prosciutto
Beaten eggs with freshly grated parmesan and black pepper
Eggs and cheese mixed
Reserved pasta water
Hot cooked pasta with egg mixture and prosciutto mixture
Tossing the ingredients, optionally with a little pasta water added (you may not need it)
My son Tyler enjoying Carbonara

CARBONARA

6–8 oz. prosciutto in small dice

1 large or 2 medium chopped onions

1–2 chopped red peppers

3 T. olive oil

3 eggs

¾ c. freshly grated parmesan

a few grinds of black pepper

1 lb. spaghetti

Brown prosciutto, onion and pepper in olive oil until very soft and brown and beginning to caramelize. Set aside in a bowl.

Rinse pot and fill with water, salt well and bring to a boil.

In a second bowl, beat the eggs with parmesan and black pepper, set aside.

Cook pasta until al dente and drain quickly, keeping a small teacupful of the pasta water for later, and return the pasta back to the pot (off heat).

Quickly toss everything together — the prosciutto mixture, the eggs and cheese and a little of the reserved pasta water if things seem too thick — with the hot pasta, turning with two big spoons until the eggs and cheese thicken slightly and the sauce becomes creamy with the prosciutto and vegetables distributed evenly. Serve immediately.

Kirsche to flavor espresso in Tiramisu
Espresso with a splash of kirsche — you can also use brandy or kahlua or leave it out
Drizzle the ladyfingers with coffee and liquor if using
Separate the eggs. I like to use my hands because the shells often break the yolks when I try it. But use the method you prefer. Also, quality eggs with strong shells and dark yolks I have found to be safe to use uncooked. For example Pete and Gerry’s eggs have not had a case of salmonella contamination, not even during the 2018 massive recall of lots of commercial egg producers. If you can get them, they are a safe bet. If you get eggs that have crackly looking weak shells and that sulfurous smell and taste, don’t use them.
Eggs, sugar and vanilla paste. If using vanilla extract, you will use less.
Beaten egg whites
Adding beaten egg whites to the beaten yolk mixture that includes mascarpone
Folding egg whites into yolk mixture with a spatula
Adding finished mascarpone mixture on top of soaked ladyfingers
Spread the mixture with the spatula
Using a small strainer with a little unsweetened cocoa in it, tap with a spoon to cover the tiramisu all over the top
Completed tiramisu ready for refrigerating overnight
Dangerously good.

TIRAMISU — this recipe can be doubled for a crowd

3 eggs, separated

3–4 T. sugar

8 oz. mascarpone

1 t. vanilla extract

3–4 T. espresso

1 ½ t. kalua, brandy or kirsch

12 ladyfingers (also called savoiardi)

1 1/2 t. unsweetened cocoa

Layer ladyfingers in an 8 inch square dish breaking off any extra if needed to fit in one layer.

Drizzle with the combination of with espresso and liqueur if you like it

Beat the egg whites.

Separately beat yolks, vanilla and sugar until light colored.

Beat in mascarpone until smooth.

Fold in beaten egg whites.

Pour the mixture over the soaked ladyfingers and dust with unsweetened cocoa using a small strainer.

Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve chilled.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store