ZZAFF!: Amaretti ticinesi

For this month’s ZZAFF! Episode we offer you a recipe for a sweet ticinese treat which often accompanies coffee at the end of a meal. I’m talking about amaretti, slightly bitter biscuits, crumbly on the outside and soft on the inside, which were born from the need to use egg white left over from the preparation of recipes based on yolk, such as panettone or cream custard. Amaretti are very popular all over Italy, where different types of this biscuit can be found. In fact, those from Ticino are different from the best-known Italian amaretti biscuits, which are round and soft (amaretti di Sassello) or crispy (amaretti di Saronno). The term amaretti comes from the bitter taste given by armelline (bitter almonds) which are added in small quantities, but for convenience I used sweet almonds only adding a few drops of bitter almond flavour.
Continue reading / Continua a leggere…

ZZAFF!: Risotto con la Luganega

This month recipe for ZZAFF! is a classic of Ticino cuisine. Luganega or luganighetta is a sausage made with pork, pepper and spices, which is usually grilled in summer and country festivals. I remember when I was a child at the Sassello Fair in Obino, the village where I grew up, they served luganighette rolled on wooden sticks which looked like a snail. This sausage is usually associated with carnival and is appreciated with the classic risotto, a dish formerly reserved for holidays.

Here you can listen the program, every first Sunday of the month:
At 20 pm Rendez-vous on http://www.radiogwen.ch to hear Vostok’s podcasts in Italian!
At 21 Rendez-vous on http://www.radiovostok.ch to hear Gwen’s podcasts in French!
Continue reading / Continua a leggere…

ZZAFF!: Ciambella ticinese

The ciambella ticinese is a crunchy and crumbly biscuit, spiced with anise seeds or sometimes fennel or cumin seeds. The typical shape of the ciambella is a ring with a hole in the middles, and its diameter is of about 8 cm. Apparently the ciambella ticinese was born in Lugano, at the hands the baker Bianchi who baked these biscuits in the early 20th century, flavouring them with different spices. It was he who made famous the ciambella ticinese, which spread in Ticino thanks to pastry chefs in urban areas. Once upon a time ciambelle could be bought in a bakeries or grottoes, bars and restaurants, usually stored in a typical glass jar. It was a daily consumer product, like bread. They were often eaten as afternoon snacks, dipped in red wine or milk. Widely popular in taverns, the ciambelle were strung into wooden rods resting on the bar counter and the customers enjoyed them accompanied by a glass of wine. Unfortunately ciambelle have lost importance in Ticino due to the competition from industrially produced biscuits. Today, family recipes are handed over, like the one I am presenting to you today which my aunt Luciana passed on to me.
Continue reading / Continua a leggere…

ZZAFF! Bülbora

The recipe I wrote for this episode of ZZAFF! is a classic of autumn and winter season. Pumpkin is a very popular vegetable in Ticino as in the whole of Switzerland. In Ticino pumpkin soup is traditionally cooked with rice and enriched with milk and butter. Not to make my own recipe too heavy without giving up tastiness I added bacon, which also adds crunchiness. Alternatively, you can always fry stale bread cubes, for about ten minutes in olive oil. The soup is delicious when flavored with dried herbs like thyme and rosemary. A classic to warm you up in these frosty winter evenings!

Continue reading / Continua a leggere…

ZZAFF! Riso in cagnone

This recipe, which I proposed in the latest episode of ZZAFF!, is a simple one. A recipe reminiscent of times when even with a simple rice dish could satiate the stomach as much as please one’s taste buds. Rice, mostly cooked as a risotto, is very common in Ticino’s culinary tradition probably because of its high content of starch, a quality that makes it a highly satiating food. Risotto was cooked mostly in middle-class families, while farmers would just add a handful to their soup. This recipe is simple to make yet very tasty.
Continue reading / Continua a leggere…

ZZAFF! Torta di pane Ticinese

It is with pleasure that I announce to you a new collaboration with some friends of a local radio station, Radio Gwendalyn. From now on I will be collaborating with some recipes for their new interregional podcasts, ZZAFF!, a program in collaboration with the Geneva-based Radio Vostok radio. Once a month we will meet in the “Svizzeria” to discover the wonders of the artistic and cultural Swiss scene. This program was especially thought to promote our linguistic region to the French-speaking friends. We will be recording one hour program in the language of Voltaire, while our friends from radio Vostock will record an all-Italian podcast. Interesting isn’t it? Alan, Chief Editor of Radio Gwen, asked me to take care of the regional cuisine column. And how not to start with a classic of Ticino cuisine? la torta di pan, or bread cake, Ça va sans dire!

Continue reading / Continua a leggere…

Autumn warmest colours and flavours: Polenta gnocchi with mushrooms and chestnuts sauce / I caldi colori e sapori dell’Autunno: Gnocchi di polenta con funghi e castagne

polenta funghi e castange 2

In my culinary imagination polenta has always been linked to more or less special occasions. You might think this is strange, as polenta is amongst the basic ingredients of my region’s cookery and its presence on our table during the cold season would be taken for granted. Being my mother English the most common dishes cooked during autumn and winter time are Shepherd’s pie, Lancashire hot pot and a range of stews. Polenta has always been eaten at my aunt’s place. Continue reading / Continua a leggere…