Brunetti's Cookbook

Brunetti's Cookbook

by Roberta Pianaro, Donna Leon

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Overview

“Fans of Donna Leon’s mysteries set in Venice and starring her cosmopolitan detective, Commissario Guido Brunetti, will be delighted to have this cookbook” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).
 
Aside from their puzzling mysteries, Donna Leon’s novels featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti have long been celebrated for their mouth-watering descriptions of food: multicourse lunches at home with Paola and the children, snacks grabbed at a bar with a glass of wine or two, a quick sandwich during a busy day, or a working lunch at a neighborhood trattoria in the course of an investigation have all delighted Brunetti, as well as Leon’s readers and reviewers.
 
In Brunetti’s Cookbook, Leon’s best friend and favorite cook Roberta Pianaro brings to life these fabulous Venetian meals. Eggplant crostini, orrechiette with asparagus, pumpkin ravioli, roasted artichokes, baked branzino, pork ragu with porcini these are just a few of the over ninety recipes for antipasti, primi, secondi, and dolci.
 
The recipes are joined by excerpts from the novels, four-color illustrations, and six original essays by Donna Leon on food and life in Venice. Charming, insightful, and full of personality, they are the perfect addition to this “enticing” volume of delicious delights (The New York Times Book Review).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802197108
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 05/04/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 289
Sales rank: 182,321
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

Donna Leon is the author of the internationally bestselling Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery series. The winner of the CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction, among other awards, Leon was born in New Jersey and has lived in Venice for thirty years.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Strada Nuova

One of the most common subjects of lamentation in Venice – or just about anywhere, I suppose – is the refusal of the present to be as good as the past. Here, this failure is evident in many ways: too many tourists, too few Venetians, unaffordable rents, unresponsive politicians. These changes have followed upon more profound transformations in the purpose and function of the city. In recent times, Venice, like most cities, provided life and livelihood for its citizens, sometimes to as many as 150,000 of them. Today, instead, its primary purpose is to offer services to tourists – twenty million last year – and this in turn provides an increasingly precarious future to the remaining 50,000 Venetians.

One way to feel the truth of this in the pit of your stomach is to take a walk down Strada Nuova, the commercial centre of the Sestiere di Cannaregio, as solid and middle-class a section of the city as one could ever hope to find. Here the shops reveal what this change in purpose has done to the fabric of the city. I started buying food in these shops decades ago, when I first came to Venice as a tourist and then, as years passed, as a guest of the family of my friend Roberta, and then as a guest of her and her husband Franco. When I moved to Cannaregio in 1981, I continued to shop in the places where they shopped. The stores on Strada Nuova were numerous and provided just about any food a person could need, and they were closer to my home than the Rialto Market, visible on the other side of the Grand Canal.

More than twenty-five years later, Strada Nuova has changed in both appearance and function, and where we used to buy stracchino of the best quality, fresh pasta, or new cooking pots, there are nowshops selling glass, glass, or – yes – glass. Let me take you by the hand and, like one of the perpetually lamenting women of the city, walk you along Strada Nuova and show you what tourism has done to us.

There on the right, just beyond Campo Santi Apostoli, there remains, thank heaven, Bisiol, selling chicken and meat for half a century, the majestic owner still sitting behind her cash register on the left. Not very far along was once Plip, the cheese shop, with that tall man who always wore his white hat while serving customers. People raved about his stracchino, and I remember eating it draped over polenta or using a crust of bread to scrape the last, almost-liquid bits of it from the wrapping paper so as not to let something so divine go to waste. He also had that wonderful Montasio his friend in the mountains produced, and who has found Montasio as good as that since he closed? He's gone now, replaced by an estate agency. My notary told me that, last year, 25 per cent of the house sales he handled involved foreigners who did not plan to live permanently in the city.

A bit farther along was the barber, but now they sell masks there. Up near Calle delle Vele, the latteria is gone, but since it was bought by Benevento to expand the store that sells sweaters and cloth, it has at least continued to sell things useful to residents. Continue past the opening of the calle and you'll see that Bellinato, the hardware store that served all of Cannaregio and where you could find anything, is gone, replaced by McDonald's. The butcher has also vanished but you can buy a cheap glass necklace there, and the store beside it that sold kitchen pots is now Benetton.

Then there is Campiello Testori, once the site of the trattoria with the enormous grapevine at the front. Families went there on hot summer nights, taking along their own dinners. Perhaps they'd order a half-litre of wine, buy gassata as a treat for the kids, and spend the evening talking to friends at the other tables. Now it's an Irish pub with loud music or soccer games on the giant television. The grapevine's gone; so are the kids. So too is the open-air fish stall that stood in the same campiello. The calli leading back towards the laguna from it were once filled with shops offering life-giving food: a salumaio, the pasticceria, the butcher, two fruit vendors. Most are boarded up now, though the former butcher shop now sells woven articles from the Middle East.

Continuing towards the bridge, you'll see that the florist is gone, replaced – after a brief period when it was a room full of public telephones – by masks, and the other fruit dealer is now a soap store whose acid fumes contaminate the entire area.

Turn around at the Ponte di S. Felice and head back towards Santi Apostoli, and you'll see that Borini, which had a broad selection of good wines and liquori, now sells inexpensive clothing for adolescent women of all ages. Cross Calle Ca' d'Oro: the Colussi shop that sold biscuits has been replaced by sporty clothing.

The other fresh fish stall at the front of Campo Santa Sofia is gone; so's the post office, which is now part of the luxury hotel that stretches all the way back to the Grand Canal, with another hotel just across the campo.

The shop that once sold fresh pasta now sells glass, and so do the two beside it. The Brasilia bar remains and so does the restaurant, though it once had a brief period of being Chinese. The florist is no more and the fruit dealer at the foot of the bridge now sells cheap plastic toys. And then you're back at the church.

Certainly, it is still possible to buy food along this part of Strada Nuova: no one starves to death in Venice. But when you come out of Il Fornaio with your fresh-baked bread, you are greeted by the smell coming from McDonald's.

Luckily, though, not far off is still the traghetto which, for half a Euro, will take you across to the Rialto Market, one of the abiding glories of the city, where the past remains and the all-encircling splendour of food seems without end.

CHAPTER 2

Antipasti Antipasti

In ancient times, cicchetti – delicious, mouth-watering appetizers, or antipasti – were an established custom in the city of Venice, and today they are more popular than ever. If you walk into a bar you'll see on the counter a seemingly endless variety of dishes, large and small, overflowing with all sorts of delicious titbits.

Every bar has its specialities, and you often have to make several stops before finding your favourite. Octopus, marinated sardines, whelks, crabs, mantis shrimps, small meatballs, spleen, boiled beef salad, parsley potatoes, white beans, omelettes, artichokes and snails can all be found at the Rialto market – plus, of course, the imaginative person preparing them. In other words, an infinite combination of foods, to be washed down with a few ombra of white or red wine. Though if you've made the mistake of sampling a few of these delights before heading home and continuing with a good lunch, you'll often find you're already full and a bit tipsy …!

At home, when we invite someone over for lunch or dinner, we always prepare an antipasto to put the person at ease and whet that famous Italian appetite. We can make simple antipasti, like canapés or little sandwiches, or venture into something more sophisticated – still easy to make and, most importantly, good to eat.

Roberta Pianaro

Antipasti
Antipasti

Savoury corn fritters
Fritelle gustose al mais

Chickpea balls
Palline di ceci

Canapé squares with eggplant
Crostoni alle melanzane

Baked omelette with zucchini
Frittata al forno con zucchine

Snails
Bovoletti

Seafood antipasto
Antipasto di mare

Shrimp, melon and arugula
Gamberetti, melone e rucola

Cuttlefish eggs
Latticini di seppia

Marinated sardines
Sardine in saor

Squid salad
Insalata di calamari

Fagottini with shrimps
Fagottini agli scampi

Savoury Corn Fritters

Fritelle gustose al mais

Serves 4

1 small red pepper, finely chopped
1 cup canned or frozen sweetcorn, drained
1/3lb cooked ham, finely chopped
2 medium eggs
4 tablespoons milk a pinch of salt a pinch of strong paprika
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil lots of vegetable oil for frying

Put the red pepper, sweetcorn and ham into a bowl and set aside. In a second bowl, beat the eggs with the milk, salt and paprika. Add the flour and olive oil, blending to form a smooth, lump-free batter. Add the pepper, ham and corn, and mix again. Heat the vegetable oil in a high-sided pan or a deep-fat fryer. When ready, pour in spoonfuls of the mixture, two or three at a time. The little fritters will be cooked in no time. Once these are cooked, place gently on absorbent paper to drain. Serve at once.

Chickpea Balls

Palline di ceci

Serves 4

1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
1 sprig of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 medium egg a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil lots of vegetable oil for frying

Crush the chickpeas in a mixing bowl with the parsley. Add the egg, salt, pepper, garlic, breadcrumbs, baking powder and olive oil and mix together to obtain a smooth, compact dough. With slightly dampened fingertips, form the mixture into balls the size of a walnut. Heat the vegetable oil in a high-sided pan or a deep-fat fryer. When the oil is hot, gently drop in the chickpea balls, a few at a time. Cook until golden brown, then drain on absorbent paper. Serve hot.

CANAPÉ SQUARES WITH EGGPLANT

Crostoni alle melanzane

Serves 4

8 square slices of bread, with crusts removed
8 slices of eggplant, grilled
1¾ cup canned tomatoes, drained of juice
4½ oz mozzarella cheese a pinch of salt a pinch of dried oregano extra virgin olive oil

On each piece of bread place a slice of eggplant, then a piece of tomato, a slice of mozzarella, a sprinkle of salt and oregano, and a drizzle of olive oil. Line a roasting tray with foil, arrange the slices alongside each other, and place in a hot oven. They will be ready when the bread is toasted, so keep watching them and adjust the oven temperature if necessary.

Baked Omelette with Zucchini

Frittata al forno con zucchine

Serves 4

8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1¾ lb zucchini, sliced into ½ inch thick rounds
1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped salt and freshly ground black pepper a pinch of finely chopped fresh parsley
8 medium eggs
½ tablespoon butter to grease ovenproof dish
3¼ oz Emmenthal or Swiss cheese, diced

Heat 7 tablespoons of the olive oil in a non-stick pan and add the zucchini, shallots, a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook, stirring frequently, and add the parsley when the zucchini is nearly tender. Continue to cook until the water has evaporated (usually after about 20 minutes), leaving only the oil at the bottom of the pan. Break the eggs into a bowl and add a pinch of salt and pepper and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Beat the mixture gently with a fork. Drain off the oil and then place the zucchini carefully in a buttered ovenproof dish, cover with the cheese and top with the beaten eggs. Put the dish into the oven and cook at a high temperature for around another 20 minutes. The omelette will be ready when it is puffed up all over. Serve at once, since it will quickly subside.

SNAILS

Bovoletti

Serves 4

1¾lb snails salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Wash the snails, put them into a large pan and cover with lots of cold water. Place over a very low heat, watching to ensure that the snails emerge slowly from their shells, then turn the heat up to maximum. Once the water starts to boil, add a handful of fine salt, wait for the water to come to a full boil, then drain. When the snails have cooled, put them into a bowl and add the garlic, oil, parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper, mixing well. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and oil, if necessary.

Seafood Antipasto

Antipasto di mare

Serves 4

4 octopuses, each around 3½oz
8 mantis shrimps
16 large prawns
4 fresh or frozen scallops
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, halved salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sprig of fresh parsley, finely chopped
3 tablespoons dry white wine lemon (optional)

Remove from the octopuses the sac containing the entrails, as well as the mouth and the eyes. Wash the octopuses thoroughly, then put them slowly into a pan of boiling salted water, heads down, so that the tentacles curl up. Cover and cook over moderate heat for about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add a bit of cold water to save them from overcooking and set aside for 15 minutes, then drain and cut them into four lengthways.

Wash the mantis shrimps and prawns and plunge them into a pan of boiling salted water. Once the water comes back to the boil, turn off the heat, drain the contents and leave to cool. Cut the mantis shrimps with kitchen shears along the length of the shell, tail included. Remove gently so as not to break them, leaving each head intact and attached to the body. Shell the prawns as well, removing the dark thread along the back. Open the scallops with a sharp paring knife, detach the nut and the coral, and remove the dark threads. Wash the scallops very carefully, including the four hollow shells, and dry with kitchen paper.

Put the olive oil, garlic and a pinch of salt into a non-stick frying pan and brown without burning. Remove from the heat and discard the garlic, then add the scallops, a pinch of parsley, the wine and a grinding of pepper. Stir and cover. Cook for 4–5 minutes, then remove the scallops from the pan and place them gently in their shells, sprinkling them with the sauce remaining in the frying pan. Season with oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, a slice of lemon (optional) and the remaining parsley.

Divide the scallops, octopuses, mantis shrimps and prawns between four large plates and serve just warm. If you like, you can serve the seafood with a dish of finely minced fresh yellow and red peppers and white onions, seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt.

Where no written menu exists, take 'Antipasto di mare'

From Death at La Fenice

Padovani was waiting inside the restaurant when Brunetti got there. The journalist stood between the bar and the glass case filled with various antipasti: periwinkles,* cuttlefish,* shrimp.* They shook hands briefly and were shown to their table by Signora Antonia, the Junoesque waitress who reigned supreme here. Once seated, they delayed the discussion of crime and gossip while they consulted with Signora Antonia about lunch. Though a written menu did exist, few regular clients ever bothered with it; most had never seen it. The day's selections and specialities were listed in Antonia's head. She quickly ran through the list, though Brunetti knew that this was the merest of formalities. She quickly decided that what they wanted to eat was the antipasto di mare, the risotto with shrimp,* and the grilled branzino, which she assured them had come fresh that morning from the fish market. Padovani asked if he might possibly, if the signora advised it, have a green salad as well. She gave his request the attention it deserved, assented, and said they wanted a bottle of the house white wine, which she went to get. (...)

Antonia approached the table with a long metal tray upon which lay their branzino. She placed it on a small serving table next to them and very efficiently cut two portions of tender white fish from it. She placed the portions in front of them. 'I hope you like this.' The men exchanged a glance in silent acceptance of the threat.

'Thank you, Signora,' Padovani said. 'Might I trouble you for the green salad?'

'When you finish the fish,' she said, and went back towards the kitchen.

Shrimp, Melon and Arugula

Gamberetti, melone e rucola

Serves 4

1lb 5oz shrimps
1 medium melon, weighing about 13/4lb a pinch of salt and freshly ground black
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil juice of 1 lemon
½ cup shelled walnut pieces
½ cup arugula

Plunge the washed shrimps into a pan of boiling salted water. After 2 minutes, drain and shell them, then place them in a serving dish. Peel the melon and remove the seeds, then cut into small pieces. Add the melon to the shrimps together with the salt, oil, pepper, lemon juice, walnut pieces, and lastly the arugula leaves. Mix well and serve at room temperature. This is an excellent summer appetizer.

Cuttlefish Eggs

Latticini di seppia

Serves 4

1 celery stalk
½ an onion
1 small carrot coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1lb 2oz cuttlefish eggs, cleaned extra virgin olive oil a pinch of finely chopped fresh parsley

Put the vegetables into a large pan of water with a bit of coarse salt and the bay leaf, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat a bit and simmer for 45 minutes. Add the cuttlefish eggs and cook for 5 minutes, then drain, discarding the vegetables. When cool, cut the cuttlefish eggs into pieces, removing the elastic film. Place in a bowl and season with a drizzle of olive oil, a bit of salt if needed, a grind of pepper and the parsley. Mix carefully and serve.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Brunetti's Cookbook"
by .
Copyright © 2009 Roberta Pianaro/Donna Leon and Diogenes Verlag SG Z#252;rich Reciped.
Excerpted by permission of Grove Atlantic, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Donna Leon: Brunetti a tavola,
Strada Nuova,
Antipasti • Antipasti,
Orecchiette Con Amorini,
First Courses • Primi Piatti,
Sant'Erasmo,
Vegetables • Verdure,
Capitano Alberto,
Fish and Seafood • Pesci E Frutti di mare,
Volatile,
Meat • Carni,
Von Clausewitz at Rialto,
Desserts • Dolci,
Index,

Customer Reviews