If you follow me on social media you will know I am in Italy at the moment; I spent Easter in Rome and now I am in Puglia. I received some wonderful news on Easter Monday (which is known as Pasquetta here) that I wanted to share with you. I had found out a few weeks ago via my publisher Smith Street Books that my cookbook Adriatico would be in the Italian edition (in May) of the monthly food and travel glossy magazine Australian Gourmet Traveller. What I wasn’t prepared for was the 8 page feature, with recipes and photos. I was visiting the Doria Pamphilj Gallery in Rome (which is stunning by the way) when I found out. I sat down in what was once the Ballroom next to the hand-painted silk wall paper, and downloaded the magazine via Pressreader (data download charges be damned!), hardly able to contain my excitement; as cliched as it sounds, it actually is a dream come true.
Writing Adriatico was a real passion – I loved the 3-month research trip to Italy. I love that it is not only a cookbook, but tells stories of the people who live along the Italian Adriatic, from Southern Puglia to the Gulf of Trieste in the north and how the local food connects them. If you do not have the book and would like to know a bit more about it (and have six of the 84 recipes in it), you can buy the May issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller which has already hit the news stands. I have another recipe on my blog from the book: flourless lemon and almond torta.
Once you have experienced the culinary delights of this coast, you may want to not only buy the book (I hope you do!) but also see what it is like in person. I regularly run tours to both Trieste in the northeast and southern Puglia. Click here to find out more about the culinary tours I am running in the next 12 months.
In the meantime, I would like to share another recipe from Adriatico with you, one that is typical of Trieste – bread gnocchi (Gnocchi de pan), a type of dumpling made with stale bread (the type you might otherwise toss out). The dish is a bit like knödel and demonstrates the influence of the Austrians, who ruled this corner of Italy for some 500 years had on the local cuisine. Rustic bread gnocchi are simple to make (they don’t need special tips and tricks like potato gnocchi do) and are very satisfying in colder weather. I love eating them! If you do make them, please let me know what you think.
gnocchi de pan - bread gnocchi
Serves 6 (makes about 30 gnocchi)
500g old bread (weight with crusts removed)
1 cup whole milk
150g mixed deli meats (pancetta, ham, pressed tongue and speck), chopped into small dice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
100g grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley leaves
1/3 cup plain flour
100g butter, unsalted
grated parmesan cheese to serve
Cut the bread into small (1/2 cm) dice and place in a medium sized bowl. Add the milk to the bowl. Set aside. In the meantime, lightly pan fry the diced meats in a splash of olive oil for a few minutes.
After about 15 minutes remove the bread from the milk and squeeze dry. Place in a large clean bowl, adding the cooked meats, egg, cheese, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Bring together to make cohesive dough and allow to rest, covered in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
Shape balls of dough, the size of a small apricot. If the dough is too wet, add a bit of extra parmesan. Roll the balls in a bit of flour and set aside.
Boil a large pot of salted water and gently drop in the gnocchi. Allow to cook at a steady boil, for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, melt the butter on low heat in a large frypan (that will ideally fit all the gnocchi, or else you will need to cook in batches). Drain gnocchi using a slotted spoon and drop into the melted butter, tossing through to make sure they are well coated. Serve in warmed plates and top with plenty of grated parmesan cheese.