Sunday, 28 May 2017

Dishes from our kitchen in Rome

We managed to more or less achieve our aim of cooking our way through 'Five Quarters' on this trip, despite the temptation of wonderful eating places on our doorstep.

The availability of quality ingredients made the task all the easier, as did the fact that the apartment kitchen had every utensil that you would ever need.

Our first recipe was lemon & ricotta cake, super easy to make and ideal for breakfasts with fresh fruit.

Rachel also makes a version with persimmon which would be lovely to try in the autumn (recipe here)

Our pasta dish for lunch was rigatoni with ricotta & greens
The fruit and vegetable stall holders in Testaccio market have piles of mixed greens ready to go or will put together a mix for you.

Since coming home we have recreated this dish again using a mix of watercress, spinach, rocket, savoy cabbage and radish leaves.

One of our favourite recipes from 'Five Quarters' is sausage with white beans. This is also super easy to make so therefore ideal for apartment cooking. We soaked the beans overnight and cooked them the next morning whilst getting ready to go out and explore. They then sat happily until we were ready to finish them off for dinner with grilled sausages.

In 'Five Quarters' Rachel tells the story of trecking out to the suburbs to buy meat from one of Rome's best butchers, Roberto Liberati. Fortunately for us his produce can be found at the fairly new Mercato Centrale at Termini Station which is where we purchased the Cinta Senese sausage.

Again we have cooked this dish since returning home with the dried beans bought in Rome. This time the bean cooking water was saved to use when making minestrone which gave the soup a lovely creamy texture. 

Linguine with courgettes and egg was another good lunchtime pasta recipe, especially when made with with the lovely eggs that we got from Emporio delle Spezie.

Sunday called for a roast and what better than chicken from Sartor the butcher in Mercato Testaccio.

The staff at this family run stall are super friendly, especially Enrico who Rachel tells us about in 'Five Quarters'. The family gave him a job  as a young boy who was reluctant to go to school and he has worked here ever since.

The only accompaniment we needed were the lemon & rosemary potatoes that were roasted alongside the chicken.

Our Monday trip to the market included a clumsy request in Italian for 'odure' at the fruit & vegetable stall along with our other purchases.

This mix of herbs and vegetables is probably slipped into the bags of regulars as a matter of course - vital ingredients which make up the base of many a dish.

We were using it for stock because even though we were on holiday we just couldn't waste that carcass!

Our catch up with Carla that day resulted in us bringing back bags full of fresh produce from her garden in Ostia.

This was very useful on that rainy Monday night when we concocted a 'raiding the fridge' supper.

The chicken stock was used for this risotto recipe. As asparagus was in season we substituted this for the fennel.

Our day trip out to Naples with Gina  proided the ingredients for a simple supper on our return. Beautifully creamy buffalo mozzarella and crusty bread along with salad leaves from Carla's garden.

We also bought back some yellow piennolo tomatoes, grown on Mount Vesuvius which we used on bruschetta.

Another favourite dish of ours from the book is fondly known as 'Rachel's Lentils' and is best made with the 'good' lentils from Norcia.

This is a really versatile recipe and at home we usually serve it with sausage. As we had had a lovely long lunch on the day that we had planned to eat this dish we just added a fried egg.

Our penultimate day in Rome started with pitting 2 kilos of cherries, ready for a torta later.

What appeared a mammoth task was made all the sweeter as we sat on the rose strewn terrace with music and the aroma of baking bread drifting up from the apartments below.

We then moved on to preparing the dish that we had planned our trip around - vignarola. Realistically there is only a short window to enjoy this dish, before the artichoke season finishes and after the bean and pea season has started.
Thanks to Rachel's expert tuition we even managed to trim the artichokes, albeit not as quickly as they do in the Mercato.

The fava beans were double podded before sauteing in plenty of olive oil along with the artichokes and peas.

The finished dish was everything we expected it to be. We would have been happy to have eaten only this but we had Saltimbocca alongside it too.

We preceded the main course with fritti of courgettes, sage leaves and anchovies but we were so busy eating and drinking that I don't have any photos!
Dessert was a cherry & ricotta tart with enough of the cherry compote leftover for us to bring home as an edible souvenir.

After such a lovely lazy lunch we didn't really need another meal later but we did enjoy fava & pecorino with our negronis at aperitivo time.

As supper time approached we cooked ready prepared kebabs from Nasini Carne on the barbecue.

We served these with a simple tomato & basil salad alongside bruschetta.

If you open no other link in this post do open this one. It tells how Rachel came to write 'Five Quarters'. I dip in and out of other cook books but I can honestly say that Rachel has joined Delia with being in daily use in our kitchen at home.
What an absolute joy it was to cook the dishes with ingredients bought at the Mercato and in the place where 'Five Quarters' was written. Roll on July when Rachel's next book hits the shelves - 'Two Kitchens'. I, for one, can't wait.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Coins in the Fountain

The downside to having this lovely flower strewn terrace at our disposal is that we have been very reluctant to leave it and go into the city. However as this is our last full day we decide we will get up early and visit some of our favourite spots. First though we make a trip to Passi to pick up pizza bianca filled with mortadella for breakfast.

We start at Piazza del Popolo where the newly renovated sphinx fountain is sparkling in the sunlight.

Via Margutta is one of our favourite streets to stroll along, not least of all as it is home to another Lombardi fountain, the Fountain of the Artists

 The smell of jasmine is intoxicating.


We walk towards Piazza Spagna and the Boat Fountain.

So pleased that we passed by the Spanish Steps earlier in the week as the azaleas have now gone.
To ensure that we return to Rome we are heading to the Trevi Fountain to throw in our coins. On the way we spy the Acqua Vergine that still feeds the fountain with water as it has done since its construction in 19BC by Marcus Agrippa. It also supplies the two other fountains we have seen this morning.

The advantage noof setting out so early is that the Trevi is relatively quiet and we are able to sit and appreciate the details of this magnificent structure.

 It is full of carvings of plants such as this bunch of capers.

Time for a coffee which we take in the art nouveau surroundings of the Galleria Alberto Sordi which contains lovely mosaic floors and a stained glass ceiling.

Until 2003 this was known as Galleria Colonna but was renamed in that year after the death of the popular Roman actor who began his career in the theatre that was once part of this building.
Leaving this arcade we walk past the column of Marcus Aurelius 
to the enormous sundial in Piazza Montecitorio.

We need to top up our supplies of San Eustachio coffee but on the way we stop to admire the newly renovated spire of San Ivo 

The queue at the famous caffe is much more managable today. Last weekend it had snaked around the small piazza.

We take a last look at the Pantheon before our final destination of the morning. Bartolucci, renamed by us as Evie's Toy Store, is where we like to pick up gifts for our little grandaughter.

We are catching the bus back to Testaccio at Piazza Venezia. Every bus stop should have a view like this.

Back at the apartment we have a simple lunch of bruschetta and tomatoes dressed with olive oil.
The afternoon is spent packing before a last aperitivo at Tram Depot.

Dinner tonight is at Piatto Romano which was a favourite of our trip last September. It doesn't disappoint.

The contorni were especially good and the meal ended with a complimentary digestif. A lovely way to bring to a close one of our happiest stays in the Eternal City.