Friday, 1 July 2011

Rediscovering Passione

Recently I've been reviewing my cookbook collection and have rediscovered an Italian cookbook that's been languishing at the back of the larder. I keep a few books close to hand in the kitchen; my most frequently used ones - Delia's Complete Cookery Course, Hugh's Everyday, Mary Norwak's baking book etc and in amongst these I found Passione from Gennaro Contaldo.  From the condition of the book I 've obviously leafed through it many times but I don't recall using any of the recipes until recently...

It's become one of my favourite books in less time than it takes to whizz up a torta alle pere - recipe to follow in another post.

So far I've been tempted by the chocolate and red wine cake (sounds so much better in Italian - torta al cioccolato e vino rosso); a lovely dense and rich, but not too rich, cake.  It makes an ideal dessert served with summer fruit compote and icecream. 

with a sauce made from Holly Grove's first raspberries of the season, yum, yum!
 On the savoury front we've tested the peperoni ripieni - stuffed baby peppers.  I'll definitely make this one again with a couple of tweaks to the recipe - simple and delicious with a green salad. 

Very soon I'm going to attempt the fagottini di zucchini when my courgette plants start to mass produce, any time now, and then there are the delicious sounding Italian salads: insalata di zucchine con menta fresca, insalata di arancie e finocchio.

So a book to keep us well fed through the summer months and dreaming of the Amalfi coast!

Torta al Cioccolato e Vino Rosso
200g unsalted butter, softened
250g caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
25g cocoa powder
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (I didn't include this)
100ml red wine
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain chocolate drops (I mixed plain, milk and white chocolate drops as I didn't have enough of the plain ones)

Heat the oven to 180C and grease and line an 20cm cake tin.

Cream the butter and sugar together then gradually beat in the eggs.  Sift in the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder (and cinnamon, if using) and fold in gently.  Mix in the red wine and vanilla extract and then fold in the chocolate drops.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour until the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.  Cut into wedges and serve with a summer fruit compote and good vanilla icecream.
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