Saturday, September 22, 2007

Castagnaccio

Myriam, that brownie babe extraordinaire from Once Upon a Tart is the lovely host of this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging.

This is one of those posts I prepared before I left and as I am in Italy I thought I would do something typically Italian.

Chestnut Flour


Chestnut Flour is something my mother grew up with as her family harvested and milled the chestnuts. It is quite a laborious process and the chestnuts spindly coating making it potential painful as well.

chestnut flour


This brown tinged flour has a distinctive sweet, nutty aroma but you need to careful with its storage - keep it in an airtight container in a cool place like the fridge. To have it at its optimum, buy it in small quantities.

For those with gluten intolerance you'd be happy to know that this is gluten free.

One of the main dishes made with this is Castagnaccio and when I asked my mother about it, she really couldn't understand why I'd want to make it. She had it almost every day growing up in Italy, which understandably explains why she has never made it here in Australia.

The version made by her family was rather plain and lacking the raisins, pinenuts and rosemary that you see in many "traditional" versions but it was served with their home-made ricotta and honey.

So for this version I've kinda mashed the recipes together and created my own version.

Instead of rosemary leaves, I've used the rather delicate and beautiful rosemary flowers.

rosemary


I wanted something a bit more subtle and Rosemary is anything but subtle - the flowers on the other hand give you just that hint of flavour in a rather delicate mauve package.

rosemary flowers


I've also replaced the pinenuts with slivered almonds and as our raisins are quite large, currants take their place.

castagnaccio


Castagnaccio

chestnut flour, sifted
cold water
olive oil
slivered almonds
currants
rosemary flowers
good ricotta cheese
honey (I used Heritage Natural Comb Leatherwood Honey)

I'm not giving exact measurements as this dish doesn't have any - it's done by feel.

Sift flour into a bowl and then whisk in enough cold water to form a smooth batter - we are looking for it to achieve the consistency of runny cream.

Take an oven dish and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the dish. Pour in the batter - you only want it to be 1-1½ cms (½ inch) thick.

Sprinkle over with some slivered almonds and currants and then finely with the rosemary flowers.

Bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F oven until cooked (the time will depend on the size) - the top will have a crackled appearance when done.

castagnaccio


Turn out and cut into wedges - eat when hot or warm, topped with ricotta cheese and a good dollop of honey.

Maybe this version will tempt my mother?

9 comments:

  1. Wow, very interesting. I've never hard of chestnut flour or this dish either one. You do come up with the best things to write about!

    Hope you're having a fantastic trip!

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  2. wow...rosemary flowers. I never thought of using them. The dish looks great!

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  3. this is not the original recipe.
    peraphs it is better, i do not know, but this is not castagnaccio.
    sorry.

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  4. Hey there,

    I have chestnut flour at home, too. The easiest way to use it is to mix it up with water and a pinch of salt, roll out and shape ´cookies´that we shallow fry and serve with a know of goat cheese. Very unusual cmbo, yet amazingly good. That is a traditional way of using up chestnut flour in Corsica.

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  5. Haalo, you are so organised! I am impressed!

    Now I have some chestnut flour that needs to be used urgently. I'll try this recipe out ASAP! Thanks for sharing and have a good trip!

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  6. Thanks Kalyn.

    THanks Nabella - the flowers are lovely.

    Cinas, risponderò in italiano perche penso che lei non legge l'inglese troppo bene. Nella posta io ho detto che questa non era una ricetta tradizioanale ma e la mia versione. Aspetto l'apologia. Lascio questo punto, la cucina milanese no è l'unica cucina d'Italia.

    That sounds very tasty Z!

    Thanks Anh - i hope you enjoy it!

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  7. Bloody food purists! Who said anything about this being "the original recipe"?! I'm quite surprised that someone from such a cosmopolitan region could be so narrow-minded when it comes to adaptation and modernisation in cooking. It's the typical European "next village along syndrome" where a recipe has one gram more saffron and suddenly it's a horrific bastardisation. Beats me

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  8. Hi Trig - the world would be a very boring place if we all cooked the same way and no-one ever tried to do something different. If you don't experiement, you don't evolve and life is too short to keep repeating yourself.

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  9. Great idea,
    I have wheat allergy and since the chestnut season arrived I'm longing to do something with the flour, but I found the original recipe a bit too strong flavoured for me. Your castagnaccio looks lovely!

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