The Italian Regional Cookbook - Valentina Harris

When your father is an English army officer and your mother, an Italian countess, naturally you grow up in a Tuscan castle with all the accruements of same. Such was Valentina Harris' fate to while away the days wandering through vineyards, olive groves, vegetable gardens, and slaughtering chickens. Yes, slaughtering chickens - she could slaughter a chicken by 8 years of age. Beppino, the family chef, was her mentor in the kitchen and was the start of her path to a career in the culinary arts.

Valentina Harris has taught cooking in both Italy and London for forty years and authored over thirty award-winning cookery books. Her latest The Italian Regional Cookbook is a compilation of her Food and Cooking series and shares the recipes from these titles: Tuscany & Umbria; Milan & North-East; Rome & Central; Venice & North-East; Sicily and the South. It is a beautiful addition to anyone's library especially those enamored with this cuisine. Filled with stunning photographs (including step-by-step process photos on some techniques), historic narrative regarding the recipes and area, and dishes from all corners of Italy, this massive tome of over 600 pages of approachable classic recipes is sure to please any level cook.

Special thanks to the publisher for sharing two recipes with our members today. Be sure to add those to your bookshelf. Scroll down to our contest to enter a chance to win one of three copies of this title open to US, CA and UK members.

  


Roman cheese and ham fritters
Panzerotti alla Romana
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Probably one of the earliest recipes from the culinary history of the great city of Rome, these rich and savoury dough fritters would traditionally be served as an antipasto or a snack; at some time in their history they were probably cooked as street food and sold from sizzling cauldrons of boiling oil to hungry passers-by. You can vary the contents of the filling according to personal taste; for example, mozzarella or scamorza can be used instead of the Gruyère, and salami or cooked ham could be used instead of the prosciutto crudo.

Serves 4

  • 115g/4oz/1 cup finely cubed Gruyère cheese
  • 75g/3oz/3 /4 cup chopped prosciutto crudo
  • 25ml/1 1 /2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 300g/1 1oz/2 2 /3 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 50g/2oz/1 /4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten until frothy
  • sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • sea salt and ground black pepper

1 Mix the cubed cheese with the prosciutto, Parmesan cheese and the beaten whole egg. Season with a little salt and ground black pepper, and set aside until required.

2 Put the flour in a mound on the work surface. Plunge your fist into the centre to make a hollow. Put a pinch of salt, the butter and the egg yolks into the hollow. Blend together with your fingertips, adding 30-45ml/2-3 tbsp cold water, if necessary.

3 When you have achieved a smooth ball of dough, roll it out as thinly as possible.

4 Use a 5cm/2in pastry (cookie) cutter or inverted tumbler to cut out circles of dough.

5 Put a spoonful of the cheese mixture on to each circle and fold in half. Brush the edges with a little beaten egg white, and seal the panzerotti closed.

6 Heat the oil for deep-frying in a deep pan until a small piece of the pastry, dropped into the oil, sizzles instantly. Fry the panzerotti for 5 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy.

7 Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot.

 

Sicilian fig pastries
Cuccidati
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The sticky, nutty, Sicilian sweetmeat that forms the centre of these pastries is also wonderful on its own or with salty Pecorino cheese. About one-tenth of the sweetmeat will be used to fill the pastries in this recipe, but there is no point making it in small batches as it keeps extremely well for up to a year, so store the rest in your refrigerator. The flavour develops and changes over the months, as the mixture ferments gently with the monthly addition of the dessert wine.

Makes about 24 

  • 200g/7oz/scant 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 400g/14oz/2 cups caster (superfine) sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 eggs or 4 egg yolks, well beaten
  • 30ml/2 tbsp milk
  • 5ml/1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 500g/1 1⁄4lb/4 1⁄2 cups plain (all-purpose) white flour
  • 10ml/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3ml/1⁄2 tsp salt

For the sweetmeat

  • 450g/1lb/2 2⁄3 cups hard dried figs
  • 450g/1lb/2 2⁄3 cups sultanas (golden raisins) or raisins
  • 115g/4oz/1 cup shelled walnuts
  • 115g/4oz/1 cup blanched almonds
  • 500g/1 1⁄4lb/2 cups clear honey
  • 300ml/1⁄2 pint/1 1⁄4 cups sweet dessert wine or sherry
  • finely grated rind of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • finely grated rind of 1 unwaxed orange

1 First make the sweetmeat. Put the figs and sultanas or raisins in a bowl with water to cover. Soak for 30 minutes. Drain the soaked fruit and transfer the mixture to a pan. Pour over fresh water to cover. Bring to simmering point and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften. Allow to cool.

2 Chop the walnuts and almonds finely in a food processor. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.

3 Drain the figs and sultanas and process them briefly in a food processor until chopped, but not puréed. With the motor running, add the honey and half the wine or sherry through the feeder tube. Process until mixed. Remove the lid from the food processor and add the grated lemon and orange rind to the mixture. Replace the lid and process until reasonably smooth.

4 Scrape the mixture into a large bowl, add the chopped nuts and mix well, adding more wine or sherry as needed. The consistency should be medium to dry.

5 Set aside 90-120ml/6-8 tbsp of the mixture and spoon the rest into a plastic container, close the lid securely and store in the refrigerator (see Cook's Tips).

6 Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Grease 2 baking sheets. Put the butter in a bowl and beat it with a wooden spoon until creamed. Beat in the sugar, eggs or egg yolks, milk and vanilla extract, adding a little flour if the mixture shows signs of curdling.

7 Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix to a soft dough. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

8 Using a teaspoon, scoop up a little of the mixture. Roll into a ball and place on one of the baking sheets, then press the top to flatten it to a round. Repeat with the remaining mixture, leaving room for spreading. Spoon a little of the sweetmeat on to each round and pull up the edges to partially cover the filling.

9 Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Leave on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and sprinkle with caster sugar. Leave to cool.

COOK'S TIPS • If your food processor does not have a powerful motor, chop the nuts roughly with a knife before processing them. • The sweetmeat will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 year, provided about 5ml/1 tsp dessert wine or sherry is stirred in once a month to keep the mixture moist and lightly fermented.

The publisher is offering three copies of this book to EYB Members in the US, CA and UK. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on April 23rd, 2018.

134 Comments

  • MadMom  on  3/14/2018 at 5:08 PM

    I love the Roman Cheese and Ham Fritters!

  • Angryyew  on  3/14/2018 at 5:37 PM

    Always like to try out new pizza dough recipes.

  • heyjude  on  3/14/2018 at 5:44 PM

    Baked Peaches

  • FaithB  on  3/14/2018 at 5:49 PM

    I'm hearing about bread dumplings lately so would like to try those.

  • Kristjudy  on  3/14/2018 at 6:32 PM

    Gnocchi with Gorgonzola

  • Zosia  on  3/14/2018 at 6:32 PM

    Sardinian saffron risotto.

  • ravensfan  on  3/14/2018 at 6:43 PM

    Barolo risotto (Risotto al Barolo)

  • Frogcake  on  3/14/2018 at 7:31 PM

    Calabrian sweet and sour meatballs. Yum, yum!

  • Scotsman61  on  3/14/2018 at 9:27 PM

    Roman Cheese and Ham Fritters

  • jmay42066  on  3/14/2018 at 10:05 PM

    Chicken Marengo (Pollo alla Marengo)

  • jezpurr  on  3/14/2018 at 10:51 PM

    The fritters!!!^_^

  • miggsy  on  3/14/2018 at 11:03 PM

    Those fig pastries look wonderful!

  • cake17uk  on  3/15/2018 at 2:00 AM

    Grilled polenta with mushrooms (Crostini di polenta con funghi) - sounds delicious

  • hedder14  on  3/15/2018 at 5:30 AM

    Beetroot dumplings. The recipes all sound devine.

  • amandabeck  on  3/15/2018 at 5:43 AM

    Ragu-- I need a good sauce recipe! But it all sounds amazing.

  • Mayandbill  on  3/15/2018 at 6:32 AM

    Torta di zuchetti for me. Valentina brought out one of the first UK books on Italian food and I remember her TV series from my childhood. It seemed so exotic!

  • stef  on  3/15/2018 at 7:13 AM

    Salsa Verde with salmon

  • vickster  on  3/15/2018 at 8:19 AM

    Courgette Tart

  • dbielick  on  3/15/2018 at 8:20 AM

    Cold veal with tuna mayonnaise (Vitello tonnato)

  • abihamm  on  3/15/2018 at 8:35 AM

    Pear and amaretti tarts

  • lean1  on  3/15/2018 at 10:46 AM

    Chicken Marengo

  • kmn4  on  3/15/2018 at 2:45 PM

    Chestnut, cream and chocolate mountain (Il Montebianco)

  • janv  on  3/15/2018 at 2:53 PM

    Scamorza crostini (Crostini con la scamorza)

  • matag  on  3/15/2018 at 3:21 PM

    Lamb and pork pie

  • contest718  on  3/15/2018 at 6:30 PM

    Orecchiette and Frittata with fresh herbs

  • ktwalla  on  3/15/2018 at 6:37 PM

    Cheese and Walnut Patties

  • sarahawker  on  3/15/2018 at 6:57 PM

    Risotto of the Serene Republic guards

  • LMS209  on  3/15/2018 at 9:29 PM

    candied fruit and nut roll :)

  • Siegal  on  3/15/2018 at 9:55 PM

    Fig pastries sounds goods

  • amferrer  on  3/16/2018 at 9:22 AM

    I would love to try the basic tomato sauce - I am always interested to try a new technique!

  • rchesser  on  3/16/2018 at 2:40 PM

    Pear and amaretti tarts.

  • FireRunner2379  on  3/16/2018 at 5:28 PM

    I'd like to make the Honey-coated fritters, YUMMY!

  • boulder42  on  3/16/2018 at 7:01 PM

    Gnocchi with Gorgonzola sounds good

  • LaurenE  on  3/16/2018 at 9:54 PM

    Fig pastries

  • trudys_person  on  3/16/2018 at 10:33 PM

    Calabrian lemon tart (Crostata alla crema di limone) - I always go for the lemon dessert!

  • Steben  on  3/16/2018 at 11:06 PM

    Soft ricotta gnocchi (Gnocchi con la fioretta)

  • centraljersey  on  3/17/2018 at 6:52 AM

    Chicken with juniper for a change

  • Livia  on  3/17/2018 at 10:08 AM

    The fig pastries look amazing ! :)

  • antpantsii  on  3/17/2018 at 5:52 PM

    Barolo risotto.

  • lindaeatsherbooks  on  3/18/2018 at 4:27 AM

    I would love to try making the Parmesan and truffle canapés (Tartine al Parmigiano Reggiano).

  • lapsapchung  on  3/18/2018 at 6:26 AM

    Cheese and mushroom cannelloni

  • suebon  on  3/18/2018 at 6:50 AM

    Chicken Marango

  • siobhanv  on  3/18/2018 at 7:22 AM

    The jota of Trieste. I love the idea of Italian cuisine meets Central Europe...

  • mpdeb98  on  3/18/2018 at 10:09 AM

    Tuscan honey cookies

  • Whyvette  on  3/18/2018 at 11:26 AM

    I love to eat ossobucco, but have never attempted to make it, so it would have to be Stewed ossobucco (Ossobuco in umido).

  • Ishtar  on  3/18/2018 at 1:18 PM

    Calabrian rabbit and red pepper stew

  • Singleta417  on  3/18/2018 at 10:09 PM

    Frittata with fresh herbs.

  • sgump  on  3/19/2018 at 9:08 AM

    The pear and amaretti tarts (crostate di pere d'amaretti) sound lovely!

  • robynsanyal  on  3/21/2018 at 9:30 AM

    Chicken Marengo (Pollo alla Marengo)

  • monique.potel  on  3/21/2018 at 12:47 PM

    Smooth Ligurian fish soup (Ciuppin) i tasted this years ago i would love to make it

  • EmilyR  on  3/21/2018 at 2:04 PM

    Soft ricotta gnocchi (Gnocchi con la fioretta)

  • infotrop  on  3/21/2018 at 2:54 PM

    Venetian-style Treviso radicchio sounds like a great side dish.

  • munki  on  3/22/2018 at 2:25 PM

    Definitely the Bagna caoda con peperoni.

  • RachLFinn  on  3/23/2018 at 11:54 AM

    Vicenza-style stewed cabbage (Cavolo alla Vicentina)

  • sipa  on  3/23/2018 at 4:29 PM

    The Roman cheese and ham fritters Panzerotti alla Romana are calling my name

  • JenJoLa  on  3/24/2018 at 3:29 PM

    Cheese and walnut patties (Polpettine di formaggio con le noci)

  • choppergirl  on  3/25/2018 at 8:10 AM

    Classic Milanese risotto (Risotto alla Milanese classico)

  • RSW  on  3/25/2018 at 7:12 PM

    Gnocchi with Gorgonzola (Gnocchi al Gorgonzola)

  • Uhmandanicole  on  3/26/2018 at 8:32 AM

    Classic Milanese risotto (Risotto alla Milanese classico)

  • ebs  on  3/27/2018 at 8:56 PM

    Wholemeal and oat rolls

  • shaz4  on  3/28/2018 at 6:14 PM

    Tuscan honey cookies (I cavallucci) - taking me straight back to my first trip to Italy last summer.

  • AnnaZed  on  3/28/2018 at 10:29 PM

    Salsa peverada

  • t.t  on  3/29/2018 at 3:56 AM

    Sweet-and-sour fried sardines (Sarde in saor)

  • chasteph  on  3/29/2018 at 4:39 AM

    Sicilian fig pastries for me!

  • topdawg11  on  3/30/2018 at 8:44 AM

    Rabbit antipasta

  • lgroom  on  3/30/2018 at 9:30 AM

    Pork cooked in milk

  • jPalacios7132  on  3/30/2018 at 10:54 AM

    Panzeritti alla Romana and Fig Pastries, The Best!!!

  • fbrunetti  on  3/30/2018 at 12:09 PM

    Monkfish wrapped in Parma ham

  • Coffeebean  on  3/30/2018 at 6:06 PM

    Tucsan boney cookies

  • Dannausc  on  3/30/2018 at 6:11 PM

    Cheese and mushroom cannelloni (Cannelloni ai funghi e formaggio)

  • Larkspur  on  3/30/2018 at 6:23 PM

    Cuccidati

  • mrscahughes  on  3/30/2018 at 6:39 PM

    Antipasta of any type.

  • kitchen_chick  on  3/30/2018 at 6:54 PM

    Anchovy and white fish ravioli

  • vickiec  on  3/30/2018 at 6:54 PM

    Fonduta alla piemontese...buonissimo

  • lisambb  on  3/30/2018 at 6:59 PM

    Cheese and ham fritters

  • bcarpenter  on  3/30/2018 at 8:38 PM

    cheese and walnut patties

  • Phizz_17  on  3/30/2018 at 8:48 PM

    L'arrabbiata

  • BMeyer  on  3/30/2018 at 9:08 PM

    baked peaches

  • deucemom  on  3/30/2018 at 9:17 PM

    Puglia lamb casserole (Cutturiedde)

  • Aproporpoise  on  3/30/2018 at 9:52 PM

    Mushroom and meat Sardinian Empanadas

  • tomroper  on  3/31/2018 at 1:25 AM

    The fritters, I think. I prefer my figs raw

  • chimpbob  on  3/31/2018 at 8:57 AM

    Roman cheese and ham fritters

  • RickPearson54  on  3/31/2018 at 8:58 AM

    fritters

  • Brancica  on  3/31/2018 at 9:06 AM

    I'd make orecchietti. Love italian food

  • mcrimmins  on  3/31/2018 at 10:21 AM

    Simple--Ragu.

  • Curlyfatkins  on  3/31/2018 at 12:57 PM

    Rice and sausages (Riso e luganega)

  • kennethjohngilmour  on  3/31/2018 at 2:34 PM

    would start with the basic pizza dough found on page 61

  • SusySlais  on  3/31/2018 at 3:30 PM

    I would definitely try the Sicilian Fig Pastries (Cuccidati) because I love, love, love figs!!! :)

  • recipegenie  on  3/31/2018 at 3:36 PM

    Always in search of pizza dough recipes.

  • Julia  on  3/31/2018 at 6:31 PM

    Salsa perverada

  • LizyB  on  3/31/2018 at 8:17 PM

    Gnocchi al Gorgonzola

  • PeavineBlues  on  4/1/2018 at 7:38 AM

    Gnocchi al Ricotta

  • Foodycat  on  4/1/2018 at 8:48 AM

    Oh those ham & cheese pastries!

  • jim.windle  on  4/1/2018 at 11:05 AM

    Parmesan and truffle canapes!

  • amyjay  on  4/1/2018 at 2:19 PM

    gnocchi al ricotta

  • TRACY007  on  4/1/2018 at 2:50 PM

    Love the sound of the ROMAN CHEESE AND HAM FRITTERS. Although a very hard decision as love Italian food.

  • Shelley.b  on  4/1/2018 at 3:09 PM

    Roman cheese and ham fritters

  • eboos  on  4/1/2018 at 4:46 PM

    Pears poached in red wine. Yum!!

  • Jenamarie  on  4/2/2018 at 9:32 AM

    Lamb with black truffle (Agnello al tartufo nero)

  • babiafi  on  4/2/2018 at 10:31 AM

    I'd try the pear and amaretti tarts :)

  • Holisticrmp  on  4/2/2018 at 10:42 AM

    I would like to try the Chicken Marengo recipe.

  • love2chow  on  4/2/2018 at 10:58 AM

    Beetroot dumplings (Spaetzle) Tuscan bean and cabbage soup (La ribollita)

  • mllamas  on  4/2/2018 at 11:13 AM

    I have baked goods on my mind, the Sardinian focaccia twist ("Nfigghiulata) sounds like a great place to start!

  • cake17uk  on  4/2/2018 at 1:59 PM

    Venetian spiced biscuits sound so good

  • TanyaD  on  4/2/2018 at 4:18 PM

    Parmesan and truffle canapés (Tartine al Parmigiano Reggiano)

  • ennsee  on  4/2/2018 at 4:23 PM

    I'd try the Gnocchi with Gorgonzola (Gnocchi al Gorgonzola) first.

  • sdg8trgrl  on  4/2/2018 at 5:41 PM

    White ragu with garganelli

  • Karla123  on  4/2/2018 at 6:14 PM

    Tuscan grape-harvest focaccia...I adore this bread already!

  • Teruska  on  4/3/2018 at 5:30 PM

    Cheese and mushroom cannelloni ~ Vegetarian and hearty!

  • Username123321  on  4/3/2018 at 9:35 PM

    Chicken marengo.

  • RoseMGenuine  on  4/4/2018 at 12:27 PM

    Ligurian seafood salad

  • auntietina  on  4/7/2018 at 4:26 PM

    Salsa Peverada. I'd love to surprise some friends with that one.

  • jc214a  on  4/8/2018 at 8:14 AM

    Baked Peaches.

  • ltsuk  on  4/10/2018 at 2:11 AM

    ragu Bolognese

  • madelainelc  on  4/10/2018 at 11:42 PM

    Venetian fritters sound interesting

  • amylou61  on  4/11/2018 at 8:37 PM

    I'd try the Lasagna with pesto and potatoes (Lasagna al pesto con le patate).

  • kedmiston  on  4/12/2018 at 11:56 AM

    Cheese and walnut patties (Polpettine di formaggio con le noci)

  • shellee  on  4/15/2018 at 8:42 AM

    Recco's olive oil focaccia sounds yummy!

  • rachael_mc  on  4/15/2018 at 6:49 PM

    Risotto with trout (Risotto con le trote)

  • NaomiH  on  4/16/2018 at 9:47 AM

    Cheese skewers with anchovy sauce (Spiedini di provatura)

  • Carolyn99  on  4/16/2018 at 10:23 AM

    Giant beetroot and mascarpone ravioli (ravioloni Rosa)

  • Lmocooks  on  4/16/2018 at 3:19 PM

    Grilled polenta with mushrooms

  • nesshawk  on  4/16/2018 at 7:50 PM

    Anchovy Fritters - I am a wee bit anchovy obsessed

  • matag  on  4/17/2018 at 8:48 AM

    Chicken MERANGO

  • VeryVigario  on  4/17/2018 at 10:13 PM

    Gnocchi with Gorgonzola

  • Radley  on  4/18/2018 at 3:41 AM

    Roman Cheese and Ham Fritters

  • PaulaCheadle  on  4/19/2018 at 7:05 PM

    I think I would try the Baked Peaches first, as I love them

  • MumofMags  on  4/20/2018 at 11:00 AM

    The anchovy fritters look amazing, I would go for this

  • ruthwollerton  on  4/20/2018 at 11:21 AM

    Roman cheese and Ham Fritters - yummytastic xxx

  • deanfromuk  on  4/20/2018 at 3:43 PM

    I love juniper so I would try the chicken with juniper <3

  • orchidlady01  on  4/21/2018 at 2:52 AM

    Tuscan bean and cabbage soup (La ribollita)

  • littleminxgirl  on  4/23/2018 at 6:42 AM

    I'm still trying to find the perfect pizza dough recipe

  • lebarron2001  on  4/23/2018 at 1:13 PM

    Grilled Mixed Seafood

  • bettinab  on  4/23/2018 at 2:39 PM

    Bagna Calda with peppers

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